Q: When we decided to sell our house, we went to the most well known broker in our area. We asked him the usual questions - how much he thought we could get for the house, whether his commission would be 6 or 7 per cent, etc.

The broker surprised us by asking only a 5 per cent commission. Much as we are interested in any saving we can accomplish, we're a little worried about someone who would ask less than what brokers normally charge. It's strange, it seems, and we are suspicious.

A: Most sellers are not aware of the fact that the amount of a broker's commission has always been the result of a private agreement between broker and seller. As a matter of fact, it is illegal for anyone to recommend a standard brokerage fee. Since most people do not know this, they usually do not question the customary charge of 6 or 7 per cent.

Don't be suspicious. Count your blessings!

Q: When we moved into our present apartment, we were led to believe that everything would be kept in tip top shape. All we had to do, we were told, is call if anything was wrong. We live in a renovated brownstone building in the center of a large city.

From the day we moved in, depressing things confronted us. The garbage disposal didn't work, the inside of the dishwashing machine was so filthy we couldn't clean it ourselves, the light in the closet didn't work, etc. No matter how many times we called, nothing was done.

Finally, the light in the downstairs hall of building burned out. It's too high for any of the tenants to reach. The hall is in complete darkness, which we feel is extremely dangerous. It has been three weeks no. Every time we call, they promise to come and replace it "immediately," but they never do. Where can we turn for help? We can't affort to consult an attorney.

A: First, you should put your complaint in writing. If you landlord or his agent does not comply, you should send a second letter, informing that you will write to your Mayor's office, thd local police department, a local TV station that has aconsumer aid reporter, your local state legislator, your local representative to Congress, and the local building inspections department.

Another way to give your landlord that necessary shove is to remind him that if a tenant were to be injured because of his negligence, an expensive lawsuit could ensue.

Q: After we had our house appraised and were told that the fair market value was $55,000, my wife and I had a little talk. She said that we should give it to a broker, but that we should ask $65,000 for it.

That made sense to me. So we gave it to a broker in our area and he immediately told us we were asking too much. But we were adamant.

Well, you guessed it! Nothing ever happened. We didn't sell the house, the broker didn't do his job (in my opinion), and we are left holding the bag. What have we done wrong?

A: You broker sas absolutely right in advising you that you were asking too much. You should always price your house at or near market value. A broker will not advertise your house as well as he might if he knows it is overpriced. You will also frighten away qualified buyers who might have made good offers if the price were right.

Q: My wife and my next door neighbor's wife have never gotten along since the day we moved in 15 years ago. As a result, her husband doesn't speak to either one of us.

So imagine my surprise when I received a letter from his lawyer. I am being accused of "encroachment." I'm not even what it means. He claims that a large branch from one of my trees broke off, fell into his yard and damaged his fancy dog house.

First of all, I didnt't even know the branch fell, and as I said before, I'm not even sure of what encroachment is. What is he talking about, and am I in trouble?

A: An encroachment is any invasion or intrusion into another person's land. It can be a wall, a fence, a hedge, or even a tree.

However, in your case, you are not liable to your neighbor for any damages your tree might have done unless you have been negligent.