By Alison Rogers
We’ve been trying to sell our apartment ourselves and the market’s been dead. Should we hire a broker?
There are a whole bunch of real estate agents who try to get business by going to people who are selling their apartments themselves — and saying, hey, I can do a better job. The argument is that a real estate agent knows how to show your house, how to attract buyers, and how to put together a co-op board package.
While I’m all on the I-do-a-better-job side, I wouldn’t want your business. And what successful agent would? Working with clients who are broker-averse is like trying to deal with a sick person who hates hospitals.
My advice is to spend a few hundred dollars to have a professional photographer take good digital pictures of your place and start running some advertising. If interest doesn’t pick up in September, cut your price.
I rent, and my shower isn’t hot any more. Is there a knob I can adjust on the hot water heater?
Probably, and don’t.
If you used to have hot water and now you don’t, something is probably wrong. Even if you think your landlord doesn’t care greatly about your safety and comfort, he or she probably does want to know when bits of the property aren’t functioning as they should. Speaking as a landlady who just spent $650 to replace a hot water heater, I can tell you that most homeowners would rather make minor repairs than replace major appliances.
I want to buy a two-unit property and rent out half: what can I afford?
Assume you can spend around 30% of what you make on housing. Once you have that number, you can add to it three-quarters of your expected rental income.
So if a unit rents for $2,000 a month, you expect $24,000 of rental income a year, but the bank only lets you count $18,000. That way, there’s wiggle room if the unit sits vacant for three months or so.
We’re trying to buy an apartment and the appraisal just came back at $10,000 less than the contract price. What do we do?
If you think the appraiser’s right, consider renegotiating or walking away from the deal.
Chances are, your contract has a clause in it that says the purchase is dependent on your getting financing. If the apartment didn’t appraise for your purchase price, the bank’s not going to get you a mortgage, so you can probably walk away (confirm this with an attorney, of course; the whole reason I’m the nice newspaper lady is I didn’t listen to mom and get my law degree.)
If you think the appraiser’s wrong, contact your mortgage lender and explain why. Ten thousand bucks could be as simple as arguing that you have better appliances and finishes in your kitchen than the last sold comparable apartment, or that you’re on a higher floor and you get better sunlight. If you think that’s the case, go ahead and appeal.