Dear BOB: I'm sure that many real estate agents must get mad at you for some of the things you write. But I respect you for telling the truth even if you step on a few toes. My question deals with listings. We are getting ready to sell our home. You have convinced us that we should hire a real estate agent to handle the sale. We talked to one agent and she wants a six-month exclusive listing. That seems too long to me. What do you think? Jerry T., Silver Spring.
Dear JERRY: I think you're right. Generally, the shorter the listing term the harder, smarter and faster an agent will work to get your property sold. That's why most agents work hardest on their listings just before they expire.
I suggest that you sign a listing of no longer than 90 days and no shorter than 30 days. If the listing expires with the property unsold, be sure the agent knows you will renew the listing if she is doing a good job.
Dear BOB: We have bought a house and want to know if we can take tax deductions for the cost of repairs and fix-up. Also, can we deduct the insurance, depreciation, property taxes and mortgage interest? Jeff T., Oxon Hill.
Dear JEFF: Will the house be your personal residence or are you renting it to tenants? Since you didn't say, I'll cover both situations.
If the house is rented to tenants, your repairs, property tax, insurance, mortgage interest, depreciation and other expenses are tax deductions. But you cannot deduct costs of major capital improvements that will have to be depreciated over their useful life.
If the house is your personal residence, then your main tax deductions will be mortgage interest and property taxes. Repair and insurance costs are then non-deductible. Similarly, no depreciation allowance is given on your personal residence. Ask your tax advisor for full details.
Dear BOB: When you buy a property, how long do you provide for the acceptance time limit? We made an offer on a house and the agent wrote in seven days for the acceptance. During that time, the house was sold to another buyer for just $1,000 more than we had offered. Mary O., Falls Church.
DEAR MARY: I usually give two days for the seller to accept my purchase offer. This prevents "offer shopping" by the seller and the agent. Your offer was probably used to get another buy to offer more for the house.
The Bruss report, "How to Use Creative Realty Finance Ideas for Profit," is available for 25 cents, plus a stamped, self-addressed envelope sent to Robert J. Bruss, P.O. Box 6710, San Francisco, Calif. 94101.