DEAR BOB: We want to find a good real estate agent to sell our home in a few months. After reading your articles, we're convinced not to risk selling our home alone. How can we find a good agent? Sally R., Bowie.
DEAR SALLY: Consider only realty agents active selling homes in your neighborhood. Don't select one located across town or who sells homes priced far above or below your home's value.
To find out which agents are most active locally, check recent "sold" signs on homes nearby. Or stop by the local board of realtors office. They can often tell you which agents are most successful in your area.
Then phone at least three of these agents. Invite them to separately inspect your home and get acquainted. Ask their opinion of its market value, selling time, and net sales proceeds. Eliminate from your listing competition any agent who doesn't give you a written estimate of your home's value, based on recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes.
Inquire about commission rates, services offered, references from previous clients, and anything else you want to know. After checking references, then list your home with one agent you think will do the best job. Don't sign an exclusive listing over 90 days. If the home is unsold when the listing expires, but if the agent is doing a good job, you can renew. But if you desire to change agents then, you'll be free to do so.
DEAR BOB: I understand banks hestitate to finance cooperative apartments, as compared to condominiums, which are easily financed. As a consequence, I'm told, the price commanded by co-op units it less than for comparable condos. Does this make the co-op a better buy? How does one obtain a loan if the co-op seller won't finance the sale? Fred J., Arlington.
DEAR FRED: Condominium apartments are easily financed since each unit can have its separate mortgage, much like single-family homes.
But cooperative apartment buildings usually have one master mortgage. Each owner owns shares in the co-op and has occupancy rights to a specific apartment. Since cooperative buildings are not subdivided like condominiums, individual mortgage financing usually isn't possible.
However, many states permit banks to loans to cooperative corporations. But the percentage of loan-to-value ratio is often much lower than for condos. Since the cash down payment required is usually large, there are fewer potential buyers for cooperatives than for condos, so resale prices are lower.
DEAR BOB: I think there was a misprint in your recent article on the "residence replacement rule." It said this rule "must" be used if circumstances qualify. Shouldn't it have said "May?" John K, Falls Church.
DEAR JOHN: There was no misprint. Use of the "residence replacement rule" for tax deferral is mandatory in certain situations.
DEAR BOB: My wife and I are thinking of selling our house and buying an apartment house, perhaps with 10 to 12 units, where we would live in one unit. How can we get details on apartment owner benefits and state laws? Miguel A., Washington.
DEAR MIGUEL: As a minimum, read two superb books: (1) William Nickerson's "How I Turned $1,000 into $3 Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time," and (2) Albert Lowry's "How You Can Become Financially Independent Ivesting in Real Estate," both published by Simon and Schuster. To keep up on state laws affecting apartments, join your local apartment owners' association.
The report, "How to Maximize Your Profit When Selling Your Residence," is available for 25 cents in coin plus a STAMPED self-addressed envelope sent to Robert J. Burss, P. O. Box 6710, San Francisco, Calif. 94101.