Q & A with Dottie Herman

» Featured Columnists | By Dottie Herman | February 12, 2010 8:17 AM ET

Q1 - My family and I are relocating but I am not able to come up to Connecticut for a few weeks. Can you please suggest how I can do preliminary research in advance of actually visiting the area?  What key questions should I be asking brokers about the property and the area?

A - Find a great agent that is familiar with your new neighborhood in Connecticut.  If you do not know of any, our Prudential team can recommend some for you.  That agent can start right away by sending you important data on recent transactions and can provide you with the latest information as to what is on the market for sale.  It certainly is a good idea to learn as much as you can about the local market prior to your arrival. Be sure to tell the broker what's important to you in a new home. Don't hesitate to ask your broker any questions. It would be wise to ask about the estimated commute time to your new job, and find out what are the unique qualities of different communities.

Q2 - My husband and I just moved from NYC to Atlanta. We want to take advantage of the first time homebuyer tax credit if possible so I know we have to move fast. How should we begin our process? Anything we should do before contacting an agent?

A - It depends on your goals.  Are you ready to sell your home now at a competitive price? Investing the money in the home will certainly make it more attractive to buyers, but that could take several months.  If you do not have time pressures, then making the updates may be a viable option for you.  However, if you are looking to sell your home sooner rather than later, there is no need to wait for the updates.  By working with an agent in your community, you can price it correctly and it will sell. 

Q3 - My husband and I bought our first home and thought we would qualify for the first time homebuyer tax credit. After we both received our W2's we are about 10,000 over the limit for couples. We bought our home before November so we are part of the old limits. Is there any leeway within the credit? Or are we no longer receiving anything?

A - That is a good question. There were supposed to be some guideline changes that would allow someone to request reconsideration due to the new regulations; however I have not seen that implemented yet. I suggest you check with your accountant and if it turns out to not exist, please write your local congressman.

Q4 - I recently bought a house and now it is tax time, I want to know the tax write offs. I know there are points but what about the other parts: commitment fee, lawyer fee, Title Insurance, Taxes, Appraisals?
A - Unfortunately, the only things that are tax deductible are points, taxes and interest paid on the mortgage.  But check with your accountant and there may be other deductions you are just not aware of.

Q5 - My husband and I can no longer make our mortgage payments- we are just falling very behind on all of our bills. We are trying to send at least half of our payment each month. How long until the bank tries to foreclose on our property? Do you think they would work something out with us for a few months until we are back on our feet?

A - The answer is yes. There are ways to get the bank to help modify your payments. You need to reach out to the Loss mediation dept in your bank and speak only to a credit supervisor.

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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