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Spray Your Mower’s Blades to Keep Clippings From Sticking

If you have a lawn, mowing is one of those must-do drudgeries. Fortunately, cooking spray can make the chore problem-free. When applied to a mower’s undercarriage and blades, it can help prevent grass clippings from sticking. 

Bonus tip: You can prevent ice from building up in your freezer with cooking spray. Just spray a thick layer over spots prone to icing, and let it sit for five minutes. Afterwards, use a towel to wipe up the oil.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/7-home-hacks-make-maintenance-easier/#ixzz3rHv6AZ4t 
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Q: My husband and I are hopelessly behind on our mortgage. We have not yet received anything from our mortgage company but I'm sure something is going to happen before long. I would like to protect our credit any way that I can. What advice do you give people in our position?

A: The first piece of advice is always: Don't panic. The Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Act contains provisions which allow you some flexibility in addressing your situation.

The most important of these provisions is that you may retain ownership and possession of the property for the longer of three months after judgment is issued on a Complaint for Foreclosure or seven months from the date you are served a copy of the complaint by the sheriff. Since you have stated that you have not yet received anything from your mortgage company, you have a minimum of seven months to resolve your situation.

You indicate you are hopelessly behind on your mortgage payments. You did not say why. Loss of job? Medical issues? This is important because if you continue to earn an adequate income, the mortgage company may consider restructuring the loan. Of course, you must be able to establish to the mortgage company that you would be able to make the restructured payments.

Is there equity in your home? If so and restructuring is not an option, you have time to sell the property and retain your equity. This would provide funds to live on for now and would most likely preserve your credit rating.

If the amount you owe exceeds the value of the property, you may want to consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This is a procedure whereby you simply tender the property to the mortgage company and in return, they cancel your obligation. Again, this is a credit-saving device, although you would lose the benefit of retaining possession of the property. Once the transaction is completed, you are generally required to vacate the property.

There are numerous other options available to you. I strongly suggest you contact a real estate attorney to review them and determine the best course of action for your family.

 

Installment contract to buy home turns complicated


Posted Monday, November 21, 2005

 

 
Click here

 

Q: In 2002, my wife and I entered into an installment contract to purchase the townhouse we are living in. We pay the seller every month plus we add $400 per month for taxes and insurance. The agreement stated we were required to obtain our own financing and buy the seller out before Jan. 1, 2006.

We have been talking to a mortgage company and we have been approved for a loan. I called the seller last week to try and schedule a closing. He seemed very nervous and told me he would call me back. After a couple days, I called him again. He now tells me he has not been paying his mortgage and he is not sure we can close. He thinks he may not get enough money from us to pay off his mortgage.

I don't see why that would make a difference. Our agreement is with the seller. What difference does it make to me what he owes his mortgage company? Do you think we will be able to close? We have paid him over $38,000 not including the taxes. What happens to our money if he can't close? Did we do something wrong?

A: Let's start by answering the question: What difference does it make to me what he owes his mortgage company? To understand why this makes a difference, you need to be familiar with how the mortgage lien process works.

When your seller bought the property, he borrowed money from a mortgage company. In exchange for the funds, your seller signed a note and a mortgage. The note is the promise to pay the money back and the mortgage pledged your seller's interest in the property as security for the loan.

The mortgage is recorded and becomes a lien on the title.

When a party is ready to sell a property, they contact the mortgage company and request a "payoff" letter. The letter is the mortgage company's statement to the seller and the title company that in exchange for this amount, we promise to release our lien on the property.

The release of the prior mortgage lien is essential because the buyer's mortgage company demands that they have a first lien position on the property. In other words, they require no other mortgage liens be recorded ahead of them. This cannot happen unless the seller's mortgage company releases their lien.

Now, back to your case. I'm making these numbers up but you will get the idea. Seller orders the payoff letter and the mortgage company says they will release their lien in exchange for $230,000. He sold to you for $240,000. When you purchased, you put down $10,000 and after three years of payments, you owe him $200,000. Not only does he owe the mortgage company $230,000, but he will owe for a title commitment, survey, maybe some real estate commissions, maybe some real estate taxes. He will have state and county transfer taxes and maybe some local transfer taxes.

Bottom line is unless he can draw money from other sources, he will not have enough funds to pay off the mortgage company. This will make the mortgage company very unhappy.

So, what do you do now? First, you should get an attorney involved in your behalf. A closing statement should be prepared, which will indicate how much the seller is short on his payoff. Then, his mortgage company must be contacted and a "short payoff" must be requested. Every mortgage company is different as to how things proceed from here. Generally, the seller must establish to the mortgage company his obligation to you and where your proceeds are going to justify the short payoff.

Short payoffs are not uncommon. Every reasonably sized mortgage company has a department that deals with this situation. I believe if handled properly, the mortgage company will probably agree to the short payoff and you will close. The alternative is for the lender to foreclose the mortgage, which generally isn't a good option for anyone. The seller may very well be in foreclosure already.

As for what you could have done differently, you could have included in your installment agreement a provision that the seller would be required to periodically show proof of his mortgage payments. Most mortgage companies issue monthly statements, which indicate the status of the mortgage. If you discovered that he was not making payments, you could have sought relief in court, as the installment agreement probably contained a clause that required the seller to maintain his mortgage payments.

? Attorney Tom Resnick's column appears every other week in HomesPlus. Send your questions to Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to

tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

 

Landlord should check ordinances on security deposits

Posted Sunday, December 04, 2005

 

 

Q: One of my tenants moved out at the end of October.

He rented the apartment for three years.

Upon entering the apartment for the first time since I rented it to him, I discovered the place in shambles.

The carpeting was destroyed, none of the appliances were working properly, there were holes in the walls, doors were off the hinges and the place was dirty beyond belief. The tenant called me a few days after he moved out asking me to send his security deposit to his new address.

I told him that based upon the condition of the property, I was not returning the security deposit.

He got very angry and ended up hanging up on me. Today I received a letter from an attorney demanding the return of the security deposit and making all kinds of threats.

What are my rights here?

It will cost me well over the amount of the security deposit to restore the apartment to the point where I can rent it again.

Plus I will lose at least a couple months rent getting it back in shape.

Any help would be appreciated.

A: First, I would contact the building department of the town where the apartment is located to determine if there are any ordinances that address this issue.

Some towns have enacted ordinances which prescribe how a landlord must proceed in the event the landlord feels he is entitled to retain a security deposit. Obviously, if there is an applicable ordinance, you must read and adhere to the provisions contained in the ordinance.

In many instances, ordinances addressing this issue only apply to larger unit complexes and not two or three flats. If there is no applicable ordinance, I would send a certified letter to the tenant specifically detailing why you are retaining the security deposit.

I would also take pictures and/or video of the apartment in the event you are required to establish the condition of the apartment in court. A landlord may not retain a security deposit to compensate him or her for normal wear and tear to the property.

However, damage such as holes in walls and damaged appliances fall outside normal wear and tear.

Based on what you have described, I believe you are justified in retaining the security deposit, subject to any applicable ordinances.

Q: I have been in an ongoing dispute for over a year with someone I did business with.

He claims I owe him over $10,000.

Although I agree I owe him something, I believe it is less than $10,000 and this is what we are fighting about. Yesterday, I received something in the mail called a "Property Lien."

As best I can tell, this person has filed a lien against my house for the amount he believes I owe him.

Can he do this?

Can anyone file a lien against someone else's property just because they think they are owed money? This does not seem right.

A: There must be statutory authority to record a lien against someone's property.

There are numerous statutes which authorize the recording of a lien against a property.

The Mechanics Lien Act generally states that if one does work and "improves" property and is not paid, he acquires lien rights to the property he improved.

If you obtain a court-entered judgment against someone, you may record a "judgment lien" against property he or she owns for the amount of the judgment. You may not, however, simply record a lien against someone's property just because you think they owe you money.

I would send a certified letter to the lienor demanding he remove the lien within a certain period of time.

If he fails to comply, you will be required to file a suit to quiet title in the county where the property is located.

You could ask the court to reimburse you for your attorneys fees and costs based upon the fact that no legal basis for the lien existed.

Behind in payments, owners seek options


Posted Thursday, January 05, 2006 Click here!

 

 
 

Q: My husband and I are hopelessly behind on our mortgage. We have not yet received anything from our mortgage company but I'm sure something is going to happen before long. I would like to protect our credit any way that I can. What advice do you give people in our position?

A: The first piece of advice is always: Don't panic. The Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Act contains provisions which allow you some flexibility in addressing your situation.

The most important of these provisions is that you may retain ownership and possession of the property for the longer of three months after judgment is issued on a Complaint for Foreclosure or seven months from the date you are served a copy of the complaint by the sheriff. Since you have stated that you have not yet received anything from your mortgage company, you have a minimum of seven months to resolve your situation.

You indicate you are hopelessly behind on your mortgage payments. You did not say why. Loss of job? Medical issues? This is important because if you continue to earn an adequate income, the mortgage company may consider restructuring the loan. Of course, you must be able to establish to the mortgage company that you would be able to make the restructured payments.

Is there equity in your home? If so and restructuring is not an option, you have time to sell the property and retain your equity. This would provide funds to live on for now and would most likely preserve your credit rating.

If the amount you owe exceeds the value of the property, you may want to consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This is a procedure whereby you simply tender the property to the mortgage company and in return, they cancel your obligation. Again, this is a credit-saving device, although you would lose the benefit of retaining possession of the property. Once the transaction is completed, you are generally required to vacate the property.

There are numerous other options available to you. I strongly suggest you contact a real estate attorney to review them and determine the best course of action for your family.

Q: I am attempting to sell a vacant parcel I own. Since I purchased the property, the village has amended their building code by increasing building and side-yard setbacks. These changes have made constructing a home on the property impractical. Any suggestions you could make to restore the value to my lot?

A: I would schedule an informal appointment with the building department.

First, I would ask them if your lot could be "grandfathered" under the prior restrictions. In other words, have the prior lot restrictions apply to your lot.

If this request is denied, your only other choice, short of filing suit, is to file a petition for a variance. This is a common procedure where the village or other governmental body is asked to waive or amend certain requirements. Your argument would be that you purchased the lot and determined its value based upon the fact that at the time of purchase, a home could be built on the lot. The village's amendments to the building code have turned this property into an unbuildable lot which has damaged you financially.

Presuming you would not be requesting too much of a variance, under the circumstances, I believe the village would work with you in reaching a resolution that all parties could live with.

? Attorney Tom Resnick's column appears every other week in HomesPlus. Send your questions to Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to

tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

Shelving bolted to the wall should have stayed with house


Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

 

Q: We sold our home about a week ago. Today, we received a letter from the buyer's attorney demanding we return the shelving unit that we had in the basement. The shelving unit was a very nice piece of furniture that cost us over $1,500. It was a stand-alone unit, however, my husband bolted it to the wall as we have small children and we were concerned about the unit falling over.

Our attorney seems to think we should return the shelving unit. Nowhere in the contract did it state the shelving went with the house. What is your opinion?

A: The rule is simple and straightforward regarding what goes and what stays in a real estate transaction (presuming it is not specified in the contract). If it is attached, it stays, if it is loose, it goes. Plugs don't count. Unfortunately, I believe bolts in the wall do count.

If the shelving unit was not attached to the wall, clearly it would be deemed personal property and would not be included in the sale. However, by bolting the unit into the wall, you have made it part of the improvements to the real estate. Accordingly, it goes with the property.

It is always wise to walk through your home prior to listing for sale. Sellers often wish to retain things like mirrors, chandeliers, shelving and other items which, if not specifically excluded in the sale contract, will become part of the transaction.

Q: I am hoping to begin investing in real estate. I have some questions regarding taxes and I get different answers from everyone I ask, so I thought I'd try you.

When I sell a property, what kind of tax will I pay? Also, does it make a difference, tax wise, whether I buy and sell a rental house or a piece of vacant land? Finally, if I buy the property with someone else, does it affect my tax situation?

A: The answer to your first question depends on how long you own the property. If you own the property less than one year, your gain will be treated as ordinary income and you will be taxed no differently than if you had earned the money at your job.

If you hold the property greater than one year, the gain will be subject to capital gain treatment, which would result in a tax of 15 percent of your gain. The gain is generally the difference between your basis (purchase price less any depreciation taken on the property plus costs associated with purchase) and the sales price (less any expenses of sale, such as real estate commission, survey, etc.).

One additional tax option is a Section 1031 (Starker) Exchange. You will be eligible to defer the tax on your gain if you identify a replacement property within 45 days of your sale and close on that property within 180 days of your sale. A third party (often the title company) holds the proceeds from the sale until you are ready to buy. Both the sale and purchase must be real estate, however, you can exchange rental property for vacant land or a shopping center for an apartment building. There are specific rules which must be followed when executing a Starker Exchange.

Retaining an experienced real estate attorney would be wise.

It generally does not make any difference from a tax standpoint if you buy a rental property or vacant land, as the gain on either will be taxed the same. There will be differences, though, while you own the property.

For example, you will take an annual depreciation expense on the rental property, which will offset income on the property. Depreciation generally cannot be taken on vacant land. I would suggest you speak to your tax adviser for a more thorough discussion.

Buying the property with someone else will not affect the tax treatment of your purchase and sale.

? Attorney Tom Resnick's column appears every other week in HomesPlus. Send your questions to Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to

tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

Shelving bolted to the wall should have stayed with house


Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

 
 

Q: We sold our home about a week ago. Today, we received a letter from the buyer's attorney demanding we return the shelving unit that we had in the basement. The shelving unit was a very nice piece of furniture that cost us over $1,500. It was a stand-alone unit, however, my husband bolted it to the wall as we have small children and we were concerned about the unit falling over.

Our attorney seems to think we should return the shelving unit. Nowhere in the contract did it state the shelving went with the house. What is your opinion?

A: The rule is simple and straightforward regarding what goes and what stays in a real estate transaction (presuming it is not specified in the contract). If it is attached, it stays, if it is loose, it goes. Plugs don't count. Unfortunately, I believe bolts in the wall do count.

If the shelving unit was not attached to the wall, clearly it would be deemed personal property and would not be included in the sale. However, by bolting the unit into the wall, you have made it part of the improvements to the real estate. Accordingly, it goes with the property.

It is always wise to walk through your home prior to listing for sale. Sellers often wish to retain things like mirrors, chandeliers, shelving and other items which, if not specifically excluded in the sale contract, will become part of the transaction.

Q: I am hoping to begin investing in real estate. I have some questions regarding taxes and I get different answers from everyone I ask, so I thought I'd try you.

When I sell a property, what kind of tax will I pay? Also, does it make a difference, tax wise, whether I buy and sell a rental house or a piece of vacant land? Finally, if I buy the property with someone else, does it affect my tax situation?

A: The answer to your first question depends on how long you own the property. If you own the property less than one year, your gain will be treated as ordinary income and you will be taxed no differently than if you had earned the money at your job.

If you hold the property greater than one year, the gain will be subject to capital gain treatment, which would result in a tax of 15 percent of your gain. The gain is generally the difference between your basis (purchase price less any depreciation taken on the property plus costs associated with purchase) and the sales price (less any expenses of sale, such as real estate commission, survey, etc.).

One additional tax option is a Section 1031 (Starker) Exchange. You will be eligible to defer the tax on your gain if you identify a replacement property within 45 days of your sale and close on that property within 180 days of your sale. A third party (often the title company) holds the proceeds from the sale until you are ready to buy. Both the sale and purchase must be real estate, however, you can exchange rental property for vacant land or a shopping center for an apartment building. There are specific rules which must be followed when executing a Starker Exchange.

Retaining an experienced real estate attorney would be wise.

It generally does not make any difference from a tax standpoint if you buy a rental property or vacant land, as the gain on either will be taxed the same. There will be differences, though, while you own the property.

For example, you will take an annual depreciation expense on the rental property, which will offset income on the property. Depreciation generally cannot be taken on vacant land. I would suggest you speak to your tax adviser for a more thorough discussion.

Buying the property with someone else will not affect the tax treatment of your purchase and sale.

? Attorney Tom Resnick's column appears every other week in HomesPlus. Send your questions to Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to

tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

 

 

Q: We entered into a contract to sell our home to a young couple about a month ago. The contract had the basic financing contingency clause. The clause stated that the contract was subject to the purchasers obtaining a mortgage for $243,000 at 6.5 percent interest amortized over 30 years. The sales price of the house was $270,000 and the purchasers were putting 10 percent down.

We received a letter on the final day of the financing contingency period canceling the deal. Our Realtor called the mortgage company and learned that the property appraised for $260,000.

The mortgage company was still willing to make the loan, however, the purchasers would be required to come up with an additional $10,000 cash.

My wife and I feel that since the purchasers were not denied the loan, they should not be allowed to use the financing contingency to back out of the deal. Our attorney disagrees. What is your opinion?

A: I agree with your attorney. The financing contingency made the deal subject to the purchasers obtaining a $243,000 loan under certain terms.

The mortgage company refused to loan the purchasers $243,000 based upon the low appraisal. Although the mortgage company offered to make a $233,000 loan, the purchasers could still elect to terminate the transaction based upon the fact they were unable to obtain a loan for $243,000.

? Attorney Tom Resnick's column appears every other week in HomesPlus. Send your questions to Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to

tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.