DEAR MR. MELTZER: I am a young physician who is still a bachelor. I have worked hard and have put aside a good bit of money. What's more, if things continue the way they are going, my future looks bright, even if I take a wife (which I hear is an expensive acquisition).
Many older and wiser people than I have encouraged me to invest in real estate. I'm willing to do it but I'm a novice. I know nothing about it, nor do I have nay inside contacts. How would someone like I get my nose pointed in the right direction?
ANSWER: I have said it many times before. There are more opportunities for quick capital growth in real estate than in any other field. However, if you are a novice, I doubt if you'll recognize these opportunities when they present themselves.
If a potential investor does not want to "get rich quick" and can afford to be patient, buying land in the path of future growth and at the edge of a large urban area never fails. All you must do is purchase it and wait for the urban growth.
As easy as this sounds, you must remember that you must exercise good judgment. You must select the land when the prices are just beginning to climb for farm land, but not to the stage where they are being set in terms of urban land.
This type of investment has another advantage - it takes no special management skill. And, based on experience, this type of land investment should increase about five times over a 10-year-period.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: We live in an old, well constructed house. In spite of that, our windows don't seem to be very solid. Drafts seep in form all sides and the windows rattle.
It wasn't so bad when the cost of fuel wasn't so high. But now I feel my blood pressure rise every time I hear the window blow and feel those drafts coming through the windows.
We called a home improvement company that was recommended to us by a neighbor. The salesmen said he could cure the problem by installing replacement windows. However, it's a costly job, and we don't want to jump into something expensive without getting the advice of an expert.
ANSWER: I don't think the salesman gave you good advice. I'm glad you came to me. Weatherstripping is what you need - not replacement windows.
Weatherstripping is not only much less expensive than replacement windows, but it will keep the windows from rattling and will seal the edges so that you will no longer have air leakages.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: My mother left me a beautiful marble top coffee table. I have treasured if may years.
I don't know how it happened but I just noticed a series of small scratches across the top of the table. I am devastated!
Is there any possible way to remove these small scratches without marring the beautiful marble finish?
ANSWER: You're lucky that the scratches are small. The solution I have is applicable only to small scratches.
Using very fine sandpaper, carefully rub the scratches. Then dampen the area and sprinkle with a pinch of tin oxide. Afterwards, wet a cloth and rub, using plenty of muscle, until the shine on the marble reappears. This remedy was given to me a long ago by a gentlemen dealt in marble.
DEAR MR. MELTZER: A building next door to our church was posted with a "for sale" sign. We think it would be and idea location for certain church offices. This would allow us more room in our other building for a youth program.
We offered to buy the building and were presented an agreement of sale. Someone in our congregation indicated that the property we are purchasing is zoned for residential use. He said we would not be able to use it for offices.
We could really use the space, but we don't want to end up with a building we cannot occupy. What do you suggest?
ANSWER: It is possible to buy a building with a contingency clause. This will indicate that the property is purchased subject to obtaining a zoning change within a certain period of time.
If a zoning change for your use cannot be obtained, you have the right to have your deposit returned. Depending on how anxious the seller is to dispose of the property, he may or may not agree to this contingency. If he does agree, have your lawyer draft the proper wording and insert the realistic time schedule for obtaining a zoning change in your community.
Bernard C. Meltzer is a realtor, engineer and appraiser. He does not answer letters personally. He answers letters only through this column. Address: Suite 615, 1420 Walnut St., Philadelphia 19102.