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Readers comment on readers’ comments

Although I don’t like for readers’ kind words to take up much space in my column, this next note was such a delightful phrase that it has to be included.

A recent article of mine mentioned the self-addressed stamped return envelope that seniors often include when they’re writing snail-mail queries about my column. One kind gentleman started off by saying, “I have enjoyed reading your weekly real estate column in our local (publication).”

He goes on to tell an anecdote about an SASE: It’s “the story of the lady who wrote to Abraham Lincoln asking for a bit of advice and his signature for a keepsake. He replied: ‘When asking strangers for a favor, it is customary to send postage. There’s your advice, and here is my signature. — A. Lincoln.’” — Rev. J. L. S.

Homeowners association guidelines

Q: In a recent column, a reader suggested that new residents get information about the homeowners association’s basic guidelines. Wouldn’t it be better to give those to prospective buyers when they’re first looking for a home? If I’d known how restrictive our association has, I would not have bought my previous home. The restrictions also made it very hard to sell. — B.Y.

A: You’re talking here, of course, about the sale of a unit in a townhouse, condominium or cooperative development. I’m surprised that you weren’t given a list of homeowner restrictions before the sale was final. Sometimes prospective buyers assume that these are just boilerplate lists and don’t bother to read them.

But it sounds as though modern-day buyers are more informed, since their knowledge and concern about the restrictions complicated your sale.

Fraudulent shrubs?

Q: I recently saw an ad in a Florida paper advertising two new model homes. In each photo, the developers have masked the impact of a double-car garage by planting grass and shrubs where the driveway ought to be.

Apparently they have determined that this gives the property more appeal. To me, it smacks of deceit and deception. The real estate market in South Florida has a long record of shady deals and other fraudulent activity since the early years.

Do you think that masking a garage like this is unethical and should be disallowed by the real estate regulatory authority? — N. D. Y., retired Realtor

A: No, I don’t.

Those plantings in front of the garage are probably intended to give the property more appeal. But for that matter, so is the decorator’s furniture inside that house. I don’t suppose you would call a living room couch deceitful? Prospective buyers often don’t remember that the house would be vacant if they bought it.

Anyone interested in the place will certainly ask what kind of driveway would replace the shrubs and grass. Buyers should understand that the landscaping — and the couch — are only there to doll the place up.

Reverse for Commercial Property

Q: Is there anyone that does reverse mortgage lending on commercial properties? I’m not getting anywhere inquiring about the matter. It seems like no banks handle this. — C.P.

A: Reverse mortgages are intended to help seniors so they can afford to remain in their own homes. A reverse mortgage wouldn’t be appropriate for a business property.

Why zombie houses

Q: With all the controversy surrounding zombie homes, can you please explain to me why it can take years to resolve these issues? I live next door to one. I do understand how it brings down the value of the other homes in the neighborhood, and how it can attract squatters and vandalism. But should resolving the legalities take so many years? I also know people that are willing to purchase one of these homes but cannot find out any information about them.

I contacted our town and was told that they are aware of the problem and are looking into it, but that there are houses in the area that have been vacant for years.

Any information you can give on this subject would be very helpful to your readers, especially if there is something we can do to speed up this process. — C.N.

A: People sometimes ask, how come Edith knows all the answers? Well, when I don’t know the answer, the question doesn’t get published. Your concern is a good one. But the answer is: I don’t know.

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

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