DEAR BOB: I plan to sell my home. Should I stay in my home while trying to sell it? We could move into our new home and leave the one we are trying to sell vacant. Which scenario will help sell our home faster? --Dana P.
DEAR DANA: Your listing real estate agent is in the best position to advise you whether to stay or move during the sales process.
The specific answer depends on whether your home shows well with you and your furniture still in the house. Or maybe it will show better if you move out, spruce it up with fresh paint and perhaps new carpets.
As a buyer, I like vacant houses because then I can easily spot most defects. As a seller, I prefer to sell vacant houses after painting and cleaning them, usually installing new flooring. Vacant rooms look bigger than rooms occupied with furniture.
DEAR BOB: To buy our first home, my wife's parents loaned us $50,000. We have been faithfully repaying them monthly, including interest. As they are retired, they need the income. However, when we were audited by the IRS, our interest deduction for this loan was denied. The IRS agent said the interest is not deductible because the $50,000 loan is not secured by a mortgage on our home. Is this correct? --Gerry T.
DEAR GERRY: Yes. For home mortgage interest to qualify as an itemized tax deduction, the loan must be secured by a mortgage on your property.
To qualify for an interest deduction, you should give your wife's parents a mortgage or deed of trust to secure their promissory note. Then you can deduct the interest you pay each year to them. For more details, please consult your tax adviser or attorney.
DEAR BOB: I just sold my house. The buyer had it professionally inspected. All went well, but the buyer asked me to replace a couple of windows that have condensation, probably due to a bad seal. My home is 12 years old and in beautiful "mint" condition. I just put more than $20,000 into it with a new roof, siding, appliances, and professional paint job throughout. I feel the buyer is being unreasonable, asking me to fix the one and only thing wrong with my home. The house is selling for $350,000. Am I being unreasonable not wanting to pay for the windows? --Joe McC.
DEAR JOE: If the buyer's purchase offer is acceptable, especially if the local home sales market is slow, why risk losing him over a few hundred, or even a few thousand, dollars?
Better than replacing those windows, however, is to offer your buyer a "repair credit" at the closing, such as $500 or $1,000. Chances are the buyer won't even replace those windows, but then you won't risk losing the sale over a petty item.