DEAR BOB: I'm buying a Florida condominium and am getting advice that I don't need title insurance. Do I? Robert S., Arlington.
DEAR ROBERT: Yes, if you want protection against loss due to title problems such as unexpected liens, recording errors, and improper deeds.
DEAR BOB: Is there any way to avoid paying tax on the interest portion of installment sale payments I receive? Mrs. R.b., Laurel.
DEAR MR. R.B.: Sorry, but interest income is fully taxable as ordinary income. Each installment sale payment you receive consists of taxable interest, non-taxable return of capital and long-term capital gain (if you owned the property more than 12 months before the sale). The big installment sale advantage, of course, is spreading the profits into several tax years to avoid being boosted into a high tax bracket in the year of sale. Your tax advisor can give you further information.
DEAR BOB: We own two cemetery lost in Buffalo that we would like to trade as a down payment on income property. How do we do it? James K., Bethesda.
Dear JAMES: As with most property trades, your best bet is to first find a buyer for the property you want to trade. Perhaps a Buffalo funeral director or the cemtery manager can help find a buyer. Then offer your cemetary lots in trade on the property you want to acquire, subject to the purchase offer for them. That way the party disposing of the income property you want to acquire will see that, after the smoke clears, he will get cash for the cemetary lots. Your tax advisor can explain the tax angles.
DEAR BOB: I am considering refinancing the mortgage on my duplex so I can buy more property. You've convinced me that the more properties I own the better off i'll be. My goal is to buy one peroperty per year. When I retire in 11 years, I will then have 13 properties, including my home and duplex. Does this sound like a good plan to you? If I refinance my duplex mortgage, will I owe any tax on that money? Susan M., Arlington.
DEAR SUSAN: You've got an excellent plan. Buying just one good property per year will make you a millionaire in net equities before you realize it.
Yes, money received from refinancing a mortgage is tax free.
DEAR BOB: I am 66 and about to retire to Florida or Arizona. Would you advise the purchase of a mobile home in a nice park or would renting an apartment be better? Do mobile homes appreciate in value as much as permanent homes? Walter K., Annandale.
DEAR WALTER: Until the last few years, mobile homes did not go up in value. Rather, they depreciated and lost value. But the shortgage of affordable housing has resulted in mobile homes sustaining value and even going up in value in some areas. However, don't count on that continuing.
You may wish to rent an apartment in your new area until you become familiar with it. Never buy in haste: take your time.
DEAR BOB: Thanks for sending the report, "How to Get Up to $100,000 of Tax-Free Profits When Selling Your Home." Do I understand correctly that we can use the new $100,000 exemption even if we used the old law's $20,000 exemption several years ago? Bernice M., Springfield.
DEAR BERNICE: Yes, if you meet the new law's easy requirements.