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Real estate

Ask seller for credit for needed repairs

Published May 5, 2007


Q: When the inspector examined the home we're planning to buy, he found two defects the buyer did not disclose: (1) The roof is leaking water into the attic, and (2) the foundation is sinking slightly in one corner, probably due to poor drainage, which can be corrected. It will cost at least $12, 000 to replace the roof.

How can we get the seller to pay for the repairs?

A: The best approach is to reopen negotiations and ask the seller to give you a "repair credit" for the leaky roof and the foundation repairs. This is better than asking the seller to install a new roof and fix the foundation. Most sellers will hire the cheapest contractors, who might not do a quality job.

A repair credit usually doesn't affect your mortgage eligibility amount or the appraised market value.

If your seller refuses to give you a repair credit, you can always walk away.

In today's slowing home sales market, you can be sure the listing agent will help with negotiations.

But don't be unreasonable. It's a good deal for both parties if the seller agrees to credit you with half the cost of a new roof.

Partition lawsuit needed to force sale

Q: My wife and I own a two-thirds interest in a nice house with a pool. The other third belongs to the occupant, who is not taking care of the property, is on food stamps, and is not likely to repay us or buy us out. How can we sell our interest in this house without a partition lawsuit? Private investors suggest paying him off to get him out. They offered us only a fraction of full market value.

A: You were very lucky to find anyone who would buy a two-thirds interest in a house. Without a partition lawsuit to force the sale of the property, you can't force the occupant to sell.

Just because the resident is down and out doesn't mean he should be able to keep you from selling. I suggest you remind him that if he sells, he will receive one-third of the net sales proceeds.

If I were an investor interested in buying that property, I would make you a very lowball offer.

Once I had taken title to your two-thirds interest, I would bring a partition lawsuit to force the sale of the property at full market value, thus making a "quick-flip" profit.

No tax advantage from name on title

Q: My wife and I own our home, and we added our adult son's name to the title so we could qualify for the mortgage. But we take the standard deduction and do not claim the mortgage interest and property tax deductions.

My son has his own house. Can he claim our home's mortgage interest and property tax deductions for a second home although he does not pay anything?

A: If your son did not pay the tax-deductible expenses of mortgage interest and property taxes, although his name is on the title to your home, he cannot claim those itemized deductions on his personal tax return.

You can send e-mail to Robert J. Bruss by visiting his Web site, Click on "Ask Bob a Real Estate Question." Or write to Robert J. Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010.

[Last modified May 4, 2007, 12:01:39]

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