Q & A with Dottie Herman

» Featured Columnists | By Dottie Herman | March 26, 2010 9:00 AM ET

Q1 - My husband and I are thinking of moving, we just had an offer on our home and the house we like is 30,000 more than our current home.  Our family says that's not an upgrade and we should wait until we can afford a larger house before we move as we will have to move again and will incur all the closing costs, etc. What is your opinion?

A - There are myriad of factors that go into this decision. My first question to you would be: why are you moving?  If the primary reason is to upgrade the size of your home then you should only move when you have found that sizable upgrade.  Certainly, there could be other factors that weigh on your decision-making as well. Is this other home in a better location for you and your family? Is it an upgrade in other ways aside from the size? For your situation it is hard for me to render an opinion based on the information provided.  However, it sounds like you have an opinionated family, which can be helpful in arriving at a decision. You should weigh the pros and cons of moving now or waiting for something larger.  Then compare and contract the choices in front of you.  This should help bring clarity and focus to the situation.  

Q2 - I am looking to purchase a home in New Jersey. The home we like is backing up to a school. Does that decrease the property value?

A - Not necessarily.  In fact, some people like the fact that the school is close by, especially if they have children.  Some issues to consider are noise and quality of life.  If there are buses parked outside your home or if the hustle and bustle of the school creates noise problems, this could be an issue to consider. There are things you can do to inoculate your home from noise problems such as, using shrubbery to help block the sound. I would recommend spending time outside of the home during a morning and afternoon dismissal and see how and if the home is affected by the activity at the school. 

Q3 - I want to transfer my home into my children's name, however, I still have a large mortgage that they will now pay. Is there a way to do this?

A - First thing to consider is that just about all mortgage have a clause that sates if you remove any person from the deed that is on the mortgage then you must pay off the mortgage. This is called an acceleration clause.  The most common process to accomplish this is to transfer the property to the Children and they refinance the mortgage with a new one in their name.  Some banks will allow you to transfer the mortgage as well but it is best call them and then retain an attorney to oversee the process.

Q4 - I would like to buy a home that is in foreclosure. How would I go about that? Do I contact local banks? Attorneys? I can make an all cash offer, and I do not mind putting money into the house as long as I am getting a good value.

A - A house that is in the Foreclosure process is different that one that had been Foreclosed on. The latter being when the Bank has assumed ownership of the property and can then sell it to a new buyer.  If you are looking to buy a house in the foreclosure process you may do that at anytime and there will be two paths the transaction can take.  If the current homeowner has enough equity to sell you the home and pay off  all the debt owed including principle interest and taxes they can transfer the property to you on there own anytime up until the actual foreclosure sale ordered by the court. If the debt is more than the value of the home then you must go sign a contract to buy with the homeowner who must submit a request to their lender to accept less than the amount owed to allow your purchase to proceed.  This called a "Short Sale" and is negotiated between the bank and the homeowner. The short sale process can take from 6 months to more than a year, so be prepared to wait if you pursue this type of purchase.

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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