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Seattle Times business reporter Elizabeth Rhodes posts the answers to your real estate questions as they pop up during the week. Join this ongoing discussion, which also features reader reaction to real-estate articles appearing throughout The Times.

Home Forum, Seattle Times, P.O. Box 1845, Seattle, WA 98111

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January 31, 2008 10:30 AM

Researching a move to Seattle

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My family is considering moving from a small town in Indiana to Seattle, but we don't want to live right in the city. We'd like to live less than an hour from downtown Seattle in a quiet, rural area preferably close to trails. We also want to be able to find a four- or five-bedroom home for around $150,000 or less. Which area outside Seattle would be a match for us?

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January 30, 2008 9:00 AM

Lien holder wonders what happens when home is foreclosed

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: What happens in a bank foreclosure when there are multiple liens against the property? Do the proceeds from the foreclosure sale also require payment to the other lien holders? Or does the title to the new owner remain clouded by the junior liens?

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January 29, 2008 3:40 PM

Creeping bamboo vexes neighbor

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We moved into our house two years ago and replaced the front lawn with a Xeriscape garden (one that needs little extra water, once the plants are established). Now our spring ritual includes digging a three-foot trench along the edge of our property to remove our neighbor's invasive bamboo sprouts. Our neighbor agrees that the bamboo is a problem but has done nothing about it. Is there anything we can do to protect our property from this very persistent plant?

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January 24, 2008 10:00 AM

Buyer wants new home without garage up front

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: In searching Seattle homes for sale for the past six months, we've noticed that all new homes have the garages in front. Three big cavities with sliding doors! Ugh! We don't want our garage to be the first thing you see when driving up to our home, but we can't find a new development that has any with the garage at the back or on the side. Can you steer me toward a builder who isn't afflicted with garage-up-front-itis?

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January 24, 2008 10:00 AM

Mortgage firm's demise stuns loan holder

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We took out a home equity line of credit with American Home Mortgage, which came with checks we've used to pay bills using the credit line. On Jan. 11 we received a copy of a Delaware court order. It said effective that day the line was canceled, any checks in transit wouldn't be honored and our outstanding balance is being transferred to another company. We had no clue this was coming. Can a lender really do this without giving its customers notice?

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January 23, 2008 10:30 AM

If there's a will is probate necessary?

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Do you have to go through probate in Washington state if you have a will? What determines whether you will or won't go through probate?

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January 22, 2008 9:15 AM

Long-distance condo landlords cause concern

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My small condominium association allows rentals. However we're having trouble with long-distance owners who rent their units, then are unavailable when problems arise, leaving the board to try to help tenants out. Can the board enact a rule requiring long-distance owners to have a property manager available to oversee their unit? Also, our declaration allows pets. Can the board enact a rule that allows owners, but not tenants, to keep pets?

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January 17, 2008 9:30 AM

New neighbor has old one exasperated

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The adult son of a deceased neighbor moved into her Seattle home and is becoming very difficult. He parks his numerous vehicles in front of other neighbors' houses for days and weeks on end. He purposely assaults plants in my planting strip while throwing a football. He's been very antagonistic when approached. What recourse do we have for dealing with this neighbor?

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January 15, 2008 9:00 AM

Dirty carpet distresses tenant

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I recently moved into a rental house. The carpet in most of the house is unclean and does not appear to have been cleaned professionally. Does the law require a landlord to replace the carpet in a rental at some point? What steps can I take to get the landlord to either replace or professionally clean the carpets?

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January 14, 2008 2:00 AM

Dad, drugs and tenant worry adult kids

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The adult children of a South King County homeowner are concerned because their dad, in his 70s, has rented a room in his house to a young woman with a serious methamphetamine problem. There's no lease. Their dad and the tenant are seeing each other and the dad is doing drugs now, too. He and the tenant have engaged in fights that have brought the police. Can his children force the tenant to leave when Dad won't back them up? Is it illegal to rent a room? And are there senior citizen organizations that can help when an older parent is exhibiting signs of drug abuse?

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January 11, 2008 5:08 PM

Help for homeowners with problem loans

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Homeowners who are having trouble with their mortgages are invited to attend a free workshop Saturday, Jan. 19, designed to educate them about their options.

Sponsored by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the program will provide information about predatory lending practices, foreclosure rescue scams, various mortgage products -- and most of all what to do when payments fall behind.

"The workshop can help those individuals who have a subprime loan, are paying interest only, or have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) that will adjust soon," says A. Linda Taylor, the Urban League's housing specialist.

It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First AME Church, 1522 14th Ave., Seattle, in the Leona B. Jones Fellowship Hall.

A light breakfast and lunch will be served. Children ages 5 and up are welcome.

For reservations call the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle at 206-461-3792, extension 3004.

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January 10, 2008 9:00 AM

When an unfinished condo project goes under

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: What happens when you've bought a unit in a condo complex and the thing goes bankrupt before many of the units are sold? As an owner can you be liable for costs associated with the bankruptcy?

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January 9, 2008 8:00 AM

Renter needs advice as home is sold

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The owner of our rental house has decided to sell it several months before our lease is up. What are our rights in this? Can the property manager require us to do certain work to prepare it for sale, such as yard work, power washing, window cleaning? Do we have to keep the house spotless on a daily basis? (We have kids.) Must we leave during showings?

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January 8, 2008 7:00 PM

Agent mailings have owner fuming

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: After I bought my house in Ballard, I received periodic advertisements from the collaborating agent on the deal. I figured this agent took my information from the purchase-and-sale agreement, but what can I say since the sale is recorded publicly?

Than about a year later, the agent sent me advertising about a home for sale. Clearly, the agent stole my private information and entered it in their database. I complained and the agent offered to remove me. I'm happy about that, but I'm still hopping mad that this agent has a policy of stealing people's data without their permission. Is there somewhere I can report this activity to?

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January 4, 2008 11:28 AM

Can rec community enforce speed limit?

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Our recreation community has a two-mile long private gravel road. The more we improve it, the faster drivers go. The sheriff can't enforce a speed limit, but we're wondering if we can. Would hiring an off-duty sheriff's deputy to clock speeders have any weight in court? Could we rent a radar gun and patrol ourselves? Our bylaws allow us to set reasonable rules and penalties for infractions. Finally, what happens if a speeder causes an accident? Could the association be sued? Could the association sue the speeder?

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January 2, 2008 4:56 PM

Inherited property causes headaches; no cure in sight

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My wife inherited an interest in her parents' North Carolina property (including an uninsured warehouse). No one told us the title had passed to her; when we realized it we decided we didn't want the asset or the liability. However, under that state's law she was not entitled to a copy of the will, nor could she disclaim the inheritance and have title pass on to her siblings who wanted the property. The only solution was for her to sign a quit-claim deed. Is transferring property this way considered a gift for tax purposes, and if so will it cost us money? In Washington could someone inherit property and not know it in time to refuse it?

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Recent entries

Jan 31, 08 - 10:30 AM
Researching a move to Seattle

Jan 30, 08 - 09:00 AM
Lien holder wonders what happens when home is foreclosed

Jan 29, 08 - 03:40 PM
Creeping bamboo vexes neighbor

Jan 24, 08 - 10:00 AM
Buyer wants new home without garage up front

Jan 24, 08 - 10:00 AM
Mortgage firm's demise stuns loan holder

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