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Consult attorney before signing on for lease-option agreement

Consult attorney before signing on for lease-option agreement

Q: Some years back in another state, my daughter and her husband contracted with a widower to rent his house, with rent credited toward purchase. After a couple of years and some significant improvements, it turned out that the man's late wife was the owner of record. The property didn't legally belonged to him, but instead to her children from a previous marriage. An expensive lesson learned.

A: I would have advised using an attorney when entering into a lease-option agreement. Even without a full title search at that point, I'd like to think a lawyer would check the property tax account, which would show the owner of record. If your kids did have a lawyer when they "contracted" with the widower, I'd say the attorney had some obligation to help them when they discovered the problem. It might never have occurred to them to verify ownership, but a lawyer should have done just that.

This assignment would earn an incomplete mark

Q: How will you prioritize the following:

• Choice of street

• Choice of neighborhood

• Choice of town

• Size of the house

• View from the house

• Location of house

• Elevation of the house

• Curb appeal

A: Your question looks to me like a really poor homework assignment. I'm trying to imagine what the course might be: How to write advertising? Beginning salesmanship? Basic appraisal? But at any rate, if you're asking what should matter most to a buyer, then of course each person's priorities will differ. You haven't even listed what I'd look at first: the reputation of the local schools. I'd research that if I had school-age children. Even if I didn't, I'd still take it into consideration because school quality eventually affects resale price.

Get the most out of investment home with these pointers

Q: I live in a home my dad and I purchased when I was going to school for my undergrad degree. We thought it would be wise to invest in a property as opposed to throwing money out the window on a rental. Five years later, I am ready to get out! A combination of intrusive neighbors and bad memories are making my living situation unbearable.

The roommates I have had in the past have not done their part to keep the house up, and now several repairs need to be made. I need to be able to make some profit off of the sale of the property. What should I be doing to get the sale process started? Can I sell my home in its current condition? Do I need to get a home equity loan to make home improvements?

A: As you found out, being a landlord is hard work, particularly with a transient student population. How much profit you "need to be able to make" doesn't matter. The only thing that counts is what buyers are willing to pay. To find out, look at lawn signs and ads, and then call three real estate brokerages that are active in the neighborhood.

Ask them to send someone over to advise you about which repairs are necessary and how to show the house best at the least expense. They'll know what price you're likely to get on the open market. The advice will be free, and you won't have any obligation until you sign up an agent to market the property.

Edith Lank will respond personally to any questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, NY 14620 (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at

Consult attorney before signing on for lease-option agreement 01/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010 8:12am]
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