DEAR BOB: There should be a law requiring home buyers to listen to your advice. I failed to do that when I bought my house in Florida almost two years ago. I have been trying to sell it for over a year. The market in my town is very depressed due to rising property taxes and high insurance costs. I foolishly paid all cash. I have had my house listed with three different Realtors. None could sell it because of the lack of buyers. If I had paid a 20 or 25 percent cash down payment and obtained an 80 or 75 percent mortgage, then I would have the cash I need to buy a house in North Carolina to live close to my relatives. Any ideas how to sell my house? –Gladys W.
DEAR GLADYS: Now you know why I advise even wealthy home buyers not to put all their eggs in one basket (home) and conserve their cash by making a modest down payment and obtaining a home mortgage. If you had done that, your mortgage lender probably would have allowed you to advertise “take over mortgage payments” and your home would have been sold by now.
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If you have sufficient income, you could refinance and obtain a “cash out” mortgage to obtain the cash you need to make a down payment on the house you want to buy. Or you can probably obtain a home equity loan at your bank. However, many lenders refuse to originate new mortgages if a home is listed for sale or has been listed for sale within the last 12 months.
At this point, I suggest you recheck your asking price to be certain it is realistic in the current buyer’s market. Many cities in Florida have an oversupply of homes listed for sale and few buyers, so, to be competitive, your home must be priced correctly.
Another alternative to consider is to lease the house with an option to buy. Properly structured, a lease-option is a great way to sell virtually any home, even in a buyer’s market.
HIRE A REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY FOR DO-IT-YOURSELF SALE
DEAR BOB: I have a buyer for my property, a condo. But I do not have a real estate agent. How can I sell my property without an agent? –George B.
DEAR GEORGE: Congratulations. You accomplished the hardest part of a residential sale, finding a buyer. After you have done that, you don’t need a real estate agent to market your condo.
But you do need a local real estate attorney to prepare a written sales contract, which includes all the details of the sale, such as the sales price, down payment and financing. The sale closing can either be handled by that real estate attorney or at a local title or escrow firm, depending on the local custom.
UNRECORDABLE QUITCLAIM DEED IS VIRTUALLY WORTHLESS
DEAR BOB: My wife and I have been having marital problems for the last five years. We stay living together for the kids. About six months ago, she tricked me into signing a quitclaim deed for my half of the house. But she has not recorded it. Is there anything I can do to stop her from recording it? I thought there had to be two witnesses but there were no witnesses to my signature. –Jon R.
DEAR JON: The exact requirements to record a quitclaim deed vary in each state. If you signed a quitclaim deed to your wife but there weren’t any witness signatures or a notary public’s acknowledgement stamp on the document, it probably is an unrecordable document.
Technically, that deed might be valid between you and your wife. But if it can’t be recorded to give constructive notice, that document is virtually worthless. Also, if she tricked you into signing, then the document would be unenforceable and voidable. For full details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “Pros and Cons of Living Trusts to Avoid Conservatorship, Probate Costs and Delays for Heirs,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet 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).