October, 2010:

I am renting and just got served by a bank that is foreclosing the house. Is my lease enforceable?

According to S. 896, (enacted as Public Law 111-22) passed and signed into law on May 20, 2009, your lease may be valid if it was executed before the owner received a notice of default from the lender. Otherwise, you may be given a 90 day eviction notice. Most lenders will offer you cash-for-keys, meaning that they will pay you to move out and leave the property in broomswept condition.

If I am buying a house and the appraisal comes in $50,000 low, does the seller have to sell it to me at that price?

Typically, the seller would have the option of selling at the appraised value, allowing the transaction to proceed as otherwise planned. However, the obligations and rights of both buyer and seller are dictated by the terms of the sales agreement. Review your specific contract language as pertains to appraisal contingencies with your Realtor or attorney to determine what options are available.

Does the new health care law really place a 3.8% tax on real estate sales?

Yes and no. The government is now referring to this as an “investment tax” that they claim would only apply to “high income” individuals. However, many folks with moderate incomes that have a large capital gain in a given year may suddenly find themselves classified as “high income” individuals. The sale of a second home, or perhaps even the sale of a primary residence could trigger this high income designation.

Contrary to news stories being circulated around the internet, this tax will be computed based upon your profit and not the sales price of a property. Unless scrapped by Congress, this new health care tax law will become effective in 2013.

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