DEAR BOB: I just want to ask if I need to get a state certificate or license to become a real estate investor? Where can I get the license? –Myrna A.
DEAR MYRNA: You do not need a real estate license or certificate to be a real estate investor. Millions of real estate investors do not have any license or certificate.
Unless you want to sell real estate full time to earn sales commissions working as an agent for property sellers and buyers, it will be a handicap for you to have a state real estate sales license. The reason is if you are a licensee, as a buyer or seller you might create a fiduciary duty to the other party to the sales or lease transaction.
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However, I highly recommend you take all the real estate courses at your local community college so you can learn the fundamentals of real estate investing. The tuition cost is low but the value of the knowledge you will learn is very high.
HOW CAN HEIRS SELL INHERITED PROPERTY?
DEAR BOB: My father died in July 2005 in Louisville, Ky. He left behind, as part of his estate, two houses valued at about $150,000 each. To properly dispose of and sell these houses, are the heirs (three adult children) required to file papers in the Probate Court in the county where the property is located? –James T.
DEAR JAMES: Unless your late father held title to his properties in his revocable living trust, or held title in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, probate of his estate in the local Probate Court where he was a resident will be required.
There is an exception for very small estates, but your dad’s total assets were apparently well above that low limit, which is different in each state.
If your father left a written will, the Probate Court will distribute his assets according to that will. However, if he left no written will, then the state law where he was a resident at the time of his death will determine who inherits his assets by the law of intestate succession.
Until the title to the real estate is transferred to the heirs, they cannot sell the properties held in your late father’s estate. For full details, please consult a probate attorney where your late father was a resident.
DON’T EXPECT HOME INSPECTOR TO DISCOVER HIDDEN MOLD
DEAR BOB: Before we bought our house in late 2005, we hired a professional home inspector. It was $300 very well spent, as he found several significant defects that the seller agreed to have repaired before we closed our purchase. However, in late 2006 we noticed a significant smell coming from the laundry room area. As it got worse, my wife hated to go into that area because she started sneezing and coughing there. One day I was talking with my neighbor about this unusual happening. He said our seller had noticed a similar smell but he didn’t do anything about it before selling the house to us. As the seller has moved out of state and probably has no liability to us, I’m wondering if our home inspector should have noticed this problem? Long story short, my brother and I knocked out the laundry room wall on a weekend and discovered extensive mold, which was coming from a leak in the roof. Since the roof was in bad shape, we replaced the entire roof and removed the mold-infested wallboard. My out-of-pocket costs, excluding the new roof, were about $1,600. Do you think the home inspector should have discovered this mold and is liable to us for our costs? –Alan W.
DEAR ALAN: No. Professional home inspectors are trained to discover defects that can be visually observed. They obviously can’t see mold through walls. Even if you hired the world’s greatest home inspector, he or she can’t detect hidden defects.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “2007 Realty Tax Tips: Eight Chapters of Tax Savings for Homeowners and Realty Investors,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit report at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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