DEAR BOB: We bought our home about six months ago. My husband has just received an out-of-town job promotion. If we sell our home at a loss, after paying the sales commission, is this loss tax deductible? Mary F., Silver Spring.
DEAR MARY: No. Although capital gains on the sale of your personal residence are taxable, losses are not tax deductible. Your tax adviser has full details.
DEAR BOB: Thank you for your short explanation several months ago about how to buy a home even with a bad credit. I took your suggestions and bought a dandy two-bedroom condo for about $7,000 total down payment, including closing costs. As you suggested, I leveled with my real estate agent about my past credit problem, so she limited my search to houses and condos that had large assumable mortgages. The one I bought sold for $73,000 with $5,000 down payment. The seller is carrying back a second mortgage for the difference between the first mortgage and the sales price, minus my down payment. He didn't even ask me to fill out any financial statement (which I would have gladly done since I now have a good job and am caught up on my bills). If I can buy a home, anyone can. Connie C., Washington.
DEAR CONNIE: Virtually any wage earner can find and finance a home without getting credit approval. I'm tired of reading about how home buyers are priced out of today's home market. As you found out, it's not true. The secret is to find a residence (1) which can be bought "subject to" its existing mortgage and (2) whose seller will help finance the sale. Thanks for sharing your good experience.
DEAR BOB: For investment I am debating between buying a condominium apartment or a rental house. As I read the depreciation rules, if I buy a condo I can depreciate about 95 percent of my purchase price. Right or wrong? Mrs. W. W., Alexandria.
DEAR MRS. W. W.: Probably right. An investment property buyer can depreciate the value of the structure he or she purchased, but not the non-depreciable land value.
If you buy a condo, especially in a large building, most of your purchase price is allocable to the structure rather than to the land value. It is not unusual for a condo investment buyer to depreciate, over its useful life, 95 percent of the purchase price as building value. Ask your tax adviser for details.
Dear bob: What is the difference between a "buyer's market" and a "seller's market"? I've heard the terms used but I don't understand them. Which are we in now? Skip M., Wheaton.
DEAR SKIP: A "buyer's market" means there are more properties for sale than there are buyers. A "seller's market" means there are fewer properties for sale than there are active buyers seeking them.
There's no general answer to your question as to which type of market we're in today. The situation varies from town to town and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. But if you're going to force me to give an answer, I'd say we're in a buyer's market. Now is the time to buy a home before it becomes a seller's market.