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Home Forum Extra

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

* Sorry, no personal replies.

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March 27, 2008 9:00 AM

Wife frets she's not in husband's will

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I want my husband to put my name in his will saying I get half in case something happens to him. But he says he doesn't need to do this because Washington is a community property state so everything is divided 50/50. He also says if something happens to him he's going to let his son give me half the community property. What should I do?

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March 26, 2008 11:00 AM

Driveway easement becomes parking space

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: An easement was established to allow the house next door to share the driveway of our town-home complex. The easement is supposed to be for vehicles to pull in and out, but the neighbors are now using the end of it as storage parking for a trailer. Since it's technically on our property, is there anything that can be done?

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March 25, 2008 4:00 PM

King County homeowner wonders if taxes have ever dropped

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: After living at the same King County address for more than 40 years, I have a hard time remembering if real-estate taxes (not the levy rate) have ever gone down. It seems like they always go up. Do you recall any time that the reverse has occurred?

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March 21, 2008 5:00 PM

Mom wants to give daughter half her house

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: A single mother I know intends to quit-claim a half-interest in her house to her teenage daughter. The mother says she wants to make sure the girl is taken care of if she dies. I'm worried this could have unintended consequences, but the mom says she isn't worried because her daughter is a good girl. Your thoughts?

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March 20, 2008 3:00 PM

Neighbor wants compensation for nearby construction disruption

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: A large hospital tower is being erected across the street. For the next two years we'll be subjected to noise, dust and blocked streets. Views of the water and mountains will be eliminated. Our quality of life and property values will be substantially impacted. Is there a precedent to approach the hospital for compensation?

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March 19, 2008 11:00 AM

Condo board considers hiring members to manage association

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My small condo complex is reluctant to hire professional management because of the cost, yet our complex is just big enough that being on the board is quite time consuming. There's not a lot of community involvement, which adds to the burden on board members. The board is now proposing that a couple of its members be paid for their services. This wouldn't violate our governing documents. What are the pros and cons of doing this?

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March 18, 2008 5:00 PM

More on buying a foreclosed property with multiple liens against it

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Responding to a recent Home Forum Extra item about a foreclosure clouded by an IRS lien, a reader asks: "If all liens get wiped out after the tax foreclosure auction and even if the IRS doesn't redeem the property or buy you out after 120 days, what's left to worry about? "

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March 17, 2008 3:50 PM

A reader recounts Rex Agreement experience

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

The Rex Agreement, a new way for equity-rich homeowners to cash out some of it, was the subject of a story on Sunday, March 15. Offered by a California firm, the agreement was rolled out in Seattle recently. North Bend reader Hal Williams considered signing a Rex Agreement. He offers his observations.

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March 14, 2008 9:00 AM

Reader wonders about insurance coverage when home is vacant

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Is it true that homeowners insurance policies are only good if the home is occupied? Does this mean the home isn't covered if it's vacant because it's for sale? What if it's vacant because it's being remodeled? Or about to be rented?

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March 13, 2008 2:33 PM

Out-of-state seller wonders about Cle Elum market

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Generally speaking, what is the state of the real estate market in Central Washington, particularly the Roslyn/Cle Elum area? My husband and I own a home there on the Yakima River. We have a renter in there now, but are considering putting the house on the market. We live in Hawaii, however, and are too far removed to have a good sense of how that market is fairing, considering the national headlines on real estate? Also, what, if any, impact do you think the Suncadia development will have on real estate prices in that area? In the short term? In the long term?

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March 12, 2008 8:30 AM

Destroyer dog has landlord talking damages

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My tenant keeps her small dog locked in a bedroom during the day. The dog has shredded the bedroom carpet and clawed the door. The $400 pet fee she paid won't cover the damage. Can I ask for more or is that my limit? Also, can I ask her to get rid of the dog now? She still has four months left on her lease.

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March 11, 2008 4:00 PM

Owner wants more money from reverse mortgage

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We've used up most of our reverse mortgage's line of credit and would like to obtain more money from this mortgage. Since our house is worth considerably more, we think this should be no problem. However the mortgage company says a refinance is required. Is this valid or simply a plot to make us pay thousands of dollars in refinance fees?

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March 10, 2008 3:25 PM

More on potential homeowners association law

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Several readers have e-mailed requesting more information about the change in homeowner association law mentioned in the Home Forum Extra item "Action by homeowners association board upsets tenant." It can be found by scrolling down in this column.

Actually there are two bills before the state legislature.

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March 7, 2008 11:23 AM

New loan limits and local home prices

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Three of the biggest providers of home-mortgage money, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA, announced significant increases in their loan limits, effective Thursday. Details are available in a story in Friday's paper.

How the higher loan limits may improve local homebuyers' purchasing power was spelled out in numbers just provided by Cheri Brennan, spokesperson for the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Her numbers follow.....

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March 6, 2008 10:30 AM

Burned out apartment tenant in a quandary

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Help! A tenant above me caused a fire, a pipe burst and most of the water ended up in my apartment. Then my ceiling fell in. Most of my furniture and clothing were ruined, and my apartment was uninhabitable for more than three weeks. My landlord will let me out of my lease, but says I needed to pay the rent for the month the apartment was uninhabitable. She's also mentioned she may keep my deposit. Is this legal? Also, I don't have renter's insurance. Can I collect damages from the tenant who caused the fire?

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March 5, 2008 4:00 PM

New homeowner in the dark about homeowners association

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Having recently purchased a home in Sammamish, I know I'm governed by association rules, and pay annual dues. However, I don't have the slightest clue how to contact the association or who they are. The only success I had was finding a very outdated Web site with no contact information whatsoever.

I suppose I could post a very large and hideous sign in my front yard that violates half of the association rules (maybe put a big antenna on top of it too, for good measure) and wait for them to contact me with a warning, but there must be a better way.

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March 5, 2008 10:00 AM

Action by homeowners association board upsets resident

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association. Among other things, the board held an election without giving proper notice and is establishing rules and fines regarding private property that are not provided for in our governing documents. Is there any precedent for claiming a board to be invalid or for disregarding a board's decisions?

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March 4, 2008 9:00 AM

How to find a real-estate attorney

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: How do you locate a good real-estate lawyer?

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March 3, 2008 7:00 PM

Fence issue concerns long-time homeowner

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We've lived in our home 22 years and the fence has been here all that time. Now a new neighbor is disputing the property line. Do we have an easement because we've been here so long?

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March 3, 2008 9:55 AM

Tax consequences of LLC

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Tax specialist Chris Fleck, an enrolled agent with Puget Sound Tax Services in Edmonds, offers additional information on the potential tax consequences of forming a limited liability company, or LLC. His comments follow a recent item about LLC's in this column. (Scroll down to see it.)
Fleck's comment:

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Recent entries

Mar 27, 08 - 09:00 AM
Wife frets she's not in husband's will

Mar 26, 08 - 11:00 AM
Driveway easement becomes parking space

Mar 25, 08 - 04:00 PM
King County homeowner wonders if taxes have ever dropped

Mar 21, 08 - 05:00 PM
Mom wants to give daughter half her house

Mar 20, 08 - 03:00 PM
Neighbor wants compensation for nearby construction disruption

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