Q: Here's a different kind of question for you: When my father died recently, we went through some family papers and discovered that my great-grandfather had hidden some valuable Civil War pistols in his home. This is a house our family sold a few years ago.
I don't know if the guns are still there, but they might be. We believe the pistols are worth a great deal of money, but I just want them to keep as an heirloom.
My lawyer scratched his head and is looking into the matter. What I wanted to ask is: How can we approach these people? Do you have any ideas? -- D.
A: No matter what your lawyer says, those homeowners own the island and you have the treasure map. Seems to me cooperation is needed here.
Perhaps, you could approach these people without revealing details, with a written agreement to share the value of anything you might find. Run that one past your lawyer and see what he thinks.
Buying new house
with second mortgage
Q: I own a house now, with a second mortgage. I want to move to a nicer neighborhood with better schools, etc. Prices here have dropped, and I found a house within my price range. If I sell my present home at the price my broker suggests, I will come out still owing the bank $10,000 that I do not have. Do I go $10,000 in debt to take advantage of today's lower prices, or do I wait and pay down my present mortgages? -- Via e-mail
A: These days, just wanting something is not enough.
I wonder whether you have any choice. If you must borrow to pay off your present loans, what would you use for down payment and closing costs on the next house?
Lenders are tightening their requirements these days to head off exactly the kind of problems you're faced with now. Before you do anything, consult a mortgage broker, or perhaps more than one. I suspect they'll say you couldn't finance a new house at all.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.