DEAR BOB: My husband and I purchased our townhouse in 2000. We had been planning to relocate to Florida in June of 2006 to live near my family. However, my husband has now decided we should sell our townhouse “as is” and move by the end of September 2005. He fears the housing market will collapse if we wait until the summer of 2006. I had intended to do the following fix-up: (1) repaint the interior; (2) re-carpet, as the carpeting is badly stained, worn and burned in some areas; (3) replace the vanities and medicine cabinets; and (4) replace the garden edging. These are basically minor cosmetic improvements. I believe our selling “as is” will cause us a loss greater than the increase in market value during the next year. Your opinion, please? – Nancy L.

DEAR NANCY: Nobody can predict what might happen to home prices during the next year. The current market is very strong in most communities, but there is no guarantee of that continuing.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

If mortgage interest rates rise substantially, that will “cool” the current home sales market very quickly.

I suggest you go ahead with those minor fix-up improvements now so you can enjoy them. Then it’s up to you and your husband to decide the best time to sell. Sorry, I don’t settle family disagreements!

LIVING TRUST AVOIDS PROBATE COURT INTERFERENCE

DEAR BOB: My mother recently passed away. I am her only son. Father is dead. She left me her house, which is rented. I have been taking care of her for the past 10 years. The last two years she was in a nursing home. I am about to meet with the lawyer to have the house title transferred into my name. My problem is my own health is not good. I want to leave the house to my gay partner of 35 years. But I know the laws are not good for gay people. What can I do to make sure he gets the house? – Dick N.

DEAR DICK: After title to your mother’s house is transferred to you, my suggestion is to create a revocable living trust and deed the house title into your living trust. There are many advantages.

The primary advantage is living-trust assets pass, upon the trustor’s death, to the named beneficiaries without probate court costs and delays. But an equally important secondary advantage is, if you become incapacitated such as by a severe stroke or Alzheimer’s disease, your named living-trust successor trustee (presumably your partner) can manage your living-trust assets, even selling them if necessary for your care.

Your living trust can provide for the house to pass after your death to your partner without probate court interference. However, you also need a “pour-over” will just in case you forgot to include any other major assets in your living trust. For details, please consult an attorney specializing in living trusts.

DON’T BUY IN JOINT TITLE WITHOUT A VERY GOOD REASON

DEAR BOB: My roommate and I have been talking about buying the two-bedroom condo that we’ve rented for about a year. The landlady is very rich and really doesn’t need our condo for the rent income. She inherited it. We try to bother her as little as possible, as our rent is very low. A friend is a mortgage broker and he says my FICO score is 740 but my roommate’s FICO score is only 630. My roommate is “luke warm” about buying the condo. Although I could afford to buy the condo alone, based on recent sales prices in the complex, I don’t want to offend my roommate who is a very good friend from college days. What should I do as I am worried if our landlady decides to sell we will have to move out as we are month-to-month? – James R.

DEAR JAMES: Unless you and your roommate really want to own the condo together, especially since your FICO score is so much better, my suggestion is to talk with your landlady if she will sell to you. Maybe she doesn’t want to sell so that settles the issue.

If she agrees to sell, then you have to decide if you want to buy the condo alone. Because your roommate is “luke warm” about buying, why push him or her into a purchase? Partnerships usually complicate matters unless you see some advantage.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “The Whole Truth About Reverse Mortgages for Senior Citizen Homeowners,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF delivery at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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