Q: Our investment group sold a large apartment building and took back a second mortgage as part of the transaction. The second mortgage is $250,000 at 8 percent, due and payable in five years. The monthly payment (principal and interest) is $2,500. How much cash could we get if we sold this mortgage?

A: It's going to depend somewhat on how much cash down the buyer paid and on his credit rating. If the cash down is low, say $35,000 to $45,000, you might have trouble selling it. But assuming your cash down is a quarter to one-third of the purchase price and the buyer's (mortgagor's) credit is good, if you sold it yourselves you should be able to get 70 to 80 cents on the dollar. If you sold it through a "second mortgage broker," you would get approximately 5 percent less. That's the fee.

Q: I'm a widow, over 55 years old, and my fiance, who is also over 55, is divorced. We each own a home. Can we each sell our homes before we're married and each take the one-time, $100,000 capital gain exclusion? Can one of us sell a home before we're married and take the one-time, $100,000 capital gain exclusion, then after we're married and living in the home of the other, can we sell that home (as a married couple) and take the $100,000 capital gain exclusion?

A: You can each sell your home before you marry and each take the one-time, $100,000 capital gain exclusion. If one sells his or her home and the other keeps his or her home and you two become husband and wife and live in the remaining house, you can't take the $100,000 exclusion when you sell it. Why? Because the husband and wife (who are joint tenants or owners by the entireties) are "considered one for purposes of determining the amount of gain to be excluded from income."

And, as I read the Internal Revenue Service's intent, even if the one solely owning the home before marriage arranges to keep sole ownership after marriage, he or she (or both of you) can't take the $100,000 capital gain exclusion. This is because Internal Revenue Service maintains that "if you are married at the time of the sale. . . of your principal residence, you may not make an election to exclude the gain unless your spouse joins you in making the election."