Home seller is not required to have for-sale sign in the yard

Q: We accepted an offer on our house two weeks ago, but the “for sale” sign is still up in our front yard. Is this ethical? Why hasn’t it been removed? — K.S.

A: Your buyers probably need to secure financing, and their lender’s appraiser must judge your house worth what they’re paying. Sometimes unexpected complications must be resolved on the way to final settlement. So it’s prudent to let interested buyers know the property might still go back on the market.

It is usual to post a small additional sign indicating a sale is pending. But in any event, you needn’t have a sign if you don’t want one. Without the seller’s consent, a for-sale sign can’t be placed even when the house first goes on the market.

Maybe It was just Bad Advice

Q: You recently wrote, “It’s easy, and inexpensive, to put the house in your daughter’s name any time you want. … It’d be best, of course, if your daughter could own the house and qualify for a loan herself. Perhaps she could if you co-signed.”

Why is this co-sign better for the parents? — via askedith.com

A: These parents already own a house their daughter lives in, and she pays the mortgage bills at a high interest rate. They were considering refinancing to reduce the rate. They found that the daughter, as an owner-occupant, could qualify for a better mortgage plan than they could as non-occupants, so they were asking if it was easy to transfer title.

But yes, if their daughter owned the property and then missed payments, as co-signers they’d still be liable for her debt without owning anything.

That’s why I usually caution against co-signing, and you’re right — I shouldn’t have made an exception in this case.


Q: This question revolves around farmland from an inheritance. It’s rented out. My one-third is going to be 52 acres, and I would rather sell my share. My siblings would like to keep it in the family. According to the lawyer, I need to give them first chance to buy me out.

Is there is a 20 percent capital gains tax if I sell it? — L.

A: Capital gains rates vary depending on your tax bracket. But if this is an inheritance, I believe your cost basis is the land’s value at the time of death. If you sold for about that amount, you shouldn’t have any taxable gain. And if the land can be physically divided, I should think you could sell your share without forcing the sale of the rest.

If the lawyer has told you differently, other factors may be involved.

Edith Lank will respond personally to any question sent to www.askedith.com or to 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.