Q & A with Dottie Herman

» Featured Columnists | By Dottie Herman | November 27, 2009 8:00 AM ET

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Dottie Herman

Q1 - I am refinancing and an appraiser is going to come by.  What does the value of property they come up with mean, exactly?

A - The appraiser is estimating the market value of your home.  Market value is basically the price agreed between a fully informed buyer and seller in an open and competitive market.  In other words, the appraised value they provide the bank should reflect what your property would sell for in today's market.  It is important to remember that it is an opinion, only as reliable as the experience of the appraiser performing the appraisal.  

Q2 - I own a house in Nassau County currently, and I want to purchase a property in Virginia. I want to sell the home to my son, and use the money I get from that sale for a down payment in VA. How do I get my son set up with a mortgage/loan?

A - Like any buyer out there, you want to make sure he is mortgage able by having him formally pre approved. In addition to this as a family transaction, you could gift your son equity in your property as a substitution for actual cash down payment. Consult with your mortgage professional for more detailed information before moving forward with this transaction.

Q3 - The real estate taxes in my town keep rising and I seem to be paying more than my neighbors.  I worry that it will affect the value of my house if I decide to sell it in a few years.  Should I be concerned?

A - In my experience, real estate taxes rarely go down on their own.  The first thing I would do is look at similar houses listed for sale and see how their real estate taxes compare to yours.  If they are much lower than yours, then consider hiring an attorney to get your assessment lowered through the appropriate process.  Don't just sit there.  If you aren't being assessed fairly, then do something about it to protect your most important investment.

Q4 - My wife and I are in a bad financial situation. We are at the point where we need to get a certain price for our house to pay off our mortgages and all of the fees, etc. What should we do? Do we take a lower offer so we can get rid of the house faster, or hold tight for a higher price knowing each month is placing us further into debt?

A - You really need to analyze how much staying power you have. Although waiting may bring you closer to the price you want, how much time can you hold out without seriously damaging your resources? What if the reverse happens and you receive a lower offer because your home as been on the market for a long time. Buyers are very educated and research the homes they are interested in and some will view time on the market as another way to negotiate with the seller. Each situation is different, however, sometimes cutting your losses and getting out sooner will help bring closure to your situation and allow you and your family to breathe easier and start over with a new home.

Q5 - My wife and I are looking to sell our home and are having some difficulties--what are some things we could offer to buyers to make them want to place an offer on our home?

A - There are a number of things you can do as a seller to try and entice buyers to make an offer. Some buyers like when the seller offers to pay all or part of the closing costs, or offers to pay points for the borrower so they can buy down their mortgage rate.  You can also offer seller held financing for all or part of the loan. There are many creative options one can consider, however, it is important to consult your accountant, financial advisor and attorney before entering into any such agreement during your transaction.

If you have a real estate question for Dottie, please send it to;
NOTE: Due to high volume of questions, not everyone can be answered, but she'll do her best.

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