Oral Vs. Written Commitment
Dear Edith: I have applied for a mortgage loan to buy a house. I have been told by the loan counselor that I qualified for the loan. Should I ask for a written commitment, or do you think that an oral commitment suffices? -- G. H.
Answer: What you have is the counselor's personal opinion, based on the information you furnished when you applied for the loan. A binding commitment from the lending institution will follow in time, if all goes well.
Before you receive the loan, there must be confirming documentation about your debts, income, assets and credit rating. Equally important: The house itself must pass an appraisal.
Neighbor As Agent
Dear Ms. Lank: We are about ready to put our house on the market, but here is the problem: Our neighbor across the street is a real estate broker. We haven't been particularly close with him, but we do know him. Is there a standard rule or advice about using a neighbor as our real estate agent? We sort of feel we shouldn't. -- K. R.
Answer: Someone who knows the neighborhood well may be just the ticket to handle your property. Before you decide, though, judge your neighbor as you would any other prospective listing agent. Is he active in the sales of residential (as opposed to commercial) property? Does he concentrate on your part of town? Has he given satisfactory service to other sellers in the area?
Most important, do you feel comfortable with him, and does he inspire your confidence?
There's nothing wrong with contacting him to ask a few questions -- particularly about what part of town he specializes in.
Dear Edith: My wife and I own a building with four one-bedroom apartments. We have one tenant who, at one point, was almost five months behind on rent. It is an acquaintance of our son, and we knew he was having trouble holding a decent paying job, but he was never out of work for long. He was always trying, so we held out hope that things would turn around for him.
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Well, finally, they did -- so he said. He sent a lengthy text about how he felt bad about being behind, how he appreciated us understanding, and how he had been appointed caregiver for his brother on weekends and had another job Monday through Thursday. He said he would send $300 a week till he got caught up.
Well, that lasted three weeks. He would send $100, $180 or maybe nothing at all and wouldn't contact us with a reason, or even respond to our inquiries.
Well, we're thinking maybe it's time to let this guy go. He does not have a lease. One wasn't signed when he moved in. Can we give him an ultimatum to get caught up, or at least be loyal with the weekly checks, or be forced to go? We discussed him making a large payment at income tax time, but that has not happened.
We would appreciate any feedback. -- J. C.
Answer: If you're asking whether you have the right to evict this young man, of course you do. I don't know what state you're in and how much notice you owe him. But as experienced landlords, you must have realized already that you should turn him out.
My guess is that you just want me to tell you to go ahead.
Only thing is: If you say so, you'd better mean it, not a single compromise or "letting it go this time." Make one concession and you'll be right back where you are now. Whatever you tell him, make it clear that this time you're going to stick to it -- and do so, no matter how difficult it is. The slightest "Well, I guess we could wait," etc., will put you right back or worse than where you are now.
Let him decide what kind of payback he'll follow, and make it absolutely clear that you'll give him notice to leave the very first time he doesn't live up to it. He'll experiment with you, so to be fair, you have to explain in advance that you can't afford to make any more exceptions to whatever he promises. You might also mention going to small claims court for what he owes.
If you're lucky, he'll just leave promptly.
Good luck. Tell me how it works out!