DEAR BOB: We want to put our home up for sale. There is a real agent who stops by about once a month with a real estate newsletter. We are thinking of giving her the listing. Last time I saw her I asked how much she thought our house was worth. She says she's sure she can get us at least $97,000. How can I be certain this price isn't too low? Sara I., Arlington.
DEAR SARA: The best way to avoid over-or underpricing your home is to invite at least three active local realty agents to give you "listing presentations." A major part of such presentations is a written "competitive market analysis" prepared by each agent.
This form will show you in black and white the recent sales prices of similar nearby homes and the selling terms. Each agent then will help you add or subtract value, depending on your home's advantages and drawbacks, to arrive at an estimate of its current market value. Only by having at least three of these market analysis forms from different agents can you be sure each agent used the most recent and accurate sales price data.
Another approach is to hire a professional appraiser to estimate your home's current market value.
When you talk to the agents, be sure to ask for client references from each.
Before selecting an agent with whom to list your home, phone those previous sellers to ask "Would you list your home with that agent again?" and "Were you in any way unhappy with the agent's service?"
DEAR BOB: Your recent article on the stepped-up basis for inherited property was both good and bad news for me. In 1977 I inherited some property. The lawyer showed me a complicated formula for determining my basis, which was less than the market value at the time. Is this new law retroactive? If so, can I use a stepped-up basis? Olivia D., Alexandria. r
DEAR OLIVIA: Yes, the 1980 Windfall Profit Tax Act's provision for stepped-up basis (to market value on the date of the decedent's death) is retroactive to January 1, 1977.
If you inherited property after that date, and if your basis is not its market value on the day of decedent's death, contact the estate's executor or administrator. It may be possible to amend the estate's federal tax return top give your inherited property a basis stepped-up to market value on the date of death.
DEAR BOB: Where can I get more information on Starker "delayed" tax-deferred exchanges? My CPA and the local IRS don't have any information. Woodson W., Fairfax.
DEAR WOODSON: My report "How Tax-Deferred Exchanges Can Pyramid Your Real Estate Wealth" explains the new Starker Exchanges. To get your copy send a $1 check payable to "Newspaperbooks" and a long, self-addressed stamped (15 cents) envelope to this newspaper, P.O. Box 259, Norwood, N.J. 07648.