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District homeowners should beware of foreclosure rescue scams

Sat, 25 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Vincent Abell has been sued by the District for violation of its Consumer Protection Act. The details of that lawsuit -- and other complaints involving Abell -- should serve as a cautionary tale for all homeowners tempted by promises of a rescue from foreclosure.

Media Files:

Organize association owners to hold board accountable

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: Is there a time by which a condominium board of directors must reply and set a date for a special meeting? A number of us unit owners are concerned about the lack of disclosure of serious financial conditions and possible bylaw infractions by the board. Our bylaws require that the board call a...

Fair Housing Act helps protect disabled occupants from discrimination

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Say you have a disability and want your condominium association to allow you to park closer to your unit. Or your psychiatrist has advised you to get a dog as a companion, but your association's rules do not permit pets. Maybe you discover that your unit has bedbugs, but your health condition can...

Sibling rivalry over family home: No one wins

Sat, 31 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: Mom died a year ago, leaving the family home to my brother and me. I live in the house and would like to stay there, but my brother, who lives in California, wants to sell it and take his half of the proceeds.

Fact or fiction? The health-care law and real estate tax

Sat, 17 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Rumors are flying that the health-care legislation Congress passed this year will impose a sales tax on all real estate sales. But the rumors are based only partly on fact. Although there is a new tax, it will not apply to everyone, and existing tax breaks for home sales will remain in place.

Unsettled questions surround tax breaks for conservation easements

Sat, 19 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: My neighbor just gave an easement in her property to some company and claims that she will get a huge tax benefit when she files her next income tax return. What is that, and are there really any tax benefits available?

Life estates are a complex area of law

Sat, 05 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: My wife and I have owned our house for many years. I am several years older, so she is likely to outlive me. I want to make sure she will be able to stay in the house for the rest of her life and have heard that a "life estate" could take care of that. Can you explain how it works?

Housing Counsel: Investing condo association money wisely (and legally)

Sat, 22 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q. The treasurer on our condominium's board of directors is a stockbroker. He has persuaded our board to allow him to invest our condo association's funds with his company. Is this legal?

Drafting pet rules that won't turn around and bite condo boards

Sat, 08 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: I am on the board of directors of our 125-unit condominium. There are a large number of pets in the complex, and I am unable to locate any rules that previous boards might have adopted regarding pets. Can our board create rules? If so, can they be enforced against current pet owners or only...

Housing Counsel: Addressing concerns about fraudulent property deed transfers

Sat, 24 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: My father is in his 90s and in frail health. He owns a house in the District, free and clear of any debt, and my cousin just told me that she now owns it. I am concerned that my cousin forged my dad's name on the deed. My father has always assured me that I would inherit the house, and he does...

If manager can't help with noisy neighbor, talk with condo board president

Sat, 10 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: I recently purchased a condominium unit and live on the third floor. I have a noise problem with the unit above me. I can hear the people walking back and forth, getting out of bed, and going about their everyday activities. New owners purchased that condominium last week. I believe the previous...

Resolving housing problems outside court can save time and money

Sat, 27 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Q: I was about to go to closing last week and learned at the last minute that the seller decided not to complete the transaction. I am trying to determine the reason for this, but I am concerned about the legal fees that I will have to pay a lawyer. If I decide to file suit against the seller, does...

Lender blames escrow shortage for $400 increase in monthly mortgage payment

Sat, 13 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

Q: We have owned our house for many years, and the lender has always escrowed money to pay our real estate taxes and insurance. This year, we received a notice from the lender that our monthly mortgage payment will increase by over $400 because there is an escrow shortage. Can we cancel the escrow...

Condo board has two options on delinquent fees

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

I am president of a six-unit condominium association in the District. Five of the owners reliably pay their monthly condo fee, but one does not. She owes more than $3,500. What options do we have? We understand that the unit owner is also delinquent on her mortgage payments. Can we foreclose on the...

When a lender is restricted from calling a mortgage due

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

My wife and I are getting divorced. I am prepared to give her the family home so our children will not be disrupted. Our mortgage lender will not relieve me of our joint obligation to make the monthly payments, but I hope that will not be a problem. We have been told that a lender can use the "due...

The right way to trade property with a Starker exchange

Sat, 06 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

Say you own property in Rehoboth Beach, Del., which calls itself "our nation's summer capital." It has appreciated greatly over the years, but now you want to sell it. You have heard that you can defer any capital-gains taxes by doing a Starker exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue ...

Homeowners have more than interest to consider at tax time

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

"We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

To the taxman, your house may not count as your home

Sat, 16 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today."

This tax season, know the available deductions for homeowners

Sat, 09 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

"Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven't been taxed before."