Q: We have decided to pay off our home mortgage this month (about 12 years early).
We plan to ask the bank how much of our escrow money is used to pay home insurance and real estate taxes so we can set aside funds to deal with these.
We heard about something called a “certificate of satisfaction” or “reconveyance deed” that needs to be filed at the county courthouse. What is that? — M.S.
A: In January you should have received an accounting from your lender, listing the bills paid from your escrow account.
You should have kept track of real estate taxes yourselves — they’re tax-deductible if you itemize.
Any money left in that escrow account, by the way, should be returned to you when you pay off the remaining loan.
The satisfaction certificate or reconveyance deed furnishes proof that the loan has been completely repaid. It should be sent to you after the lender enters it in the public records, which presently show the debt out against your property.
If the lender doesn’t record it, be sure to do that important job yourselves.
More on Timeshares
Q: I am not sure I agree with your advice to that person with the timeshare in Williamsburg.
While it is true that local Realtors rarely handle timeshares, there are other outlets for a sale.
Some reputable Web sites are specifically designed for timeshare sales and rentals, including www.redweek.com, www.vacationtimesharerentals.com and www.myresortnetwork.com. Fees for listing timeshares are minimal.
One last option is to notify their resort that they have a unit to sell. Many resorts have sales offices that would help owners for a fee on the sale.
Regardless, I think it is drastic advice to recommend they turn back the unit to the developer. At the very least, they could try to rent out their unit to cover the maintenance charges (again, use the Web sites) until they can sell. — E.D., DVM
A: Good advice, but not everyone is up for long-distance landlording. And often the people who write me have already tried selling through the developer or even giving the timeshare back. See this next letter, for example:
Q: I’m 69, with timeshares I must get rid of. The developer won’t take it and like others, I too have given promoters hundreds of dollars upfront, with no success. How can I donate them to a charity? — C.G., via e-mail
A: You could try the Web sites mentioned above. Don’t give anyone a large upfront fee again. And discuss with your own lawyer what would happen if you simply walked away from the whole thing.
As I was answering that question, in came another:
Q: My husband and I have owned a five-star timeshare in Colorado since 1983. It has served us well for all these years and we have had complete enjoyment out of it.
Health problems have set in and we no longer are able to use it, nor do we care to swap it for use at another location.
My husband has Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, so our travels are over.
This past year they held an auction and a number of units were sold. We had a bid on ours, accepted the bid, signed papers, then the buyers walked away, leaving us high and dry.
In the meantime, I had it listed with an outfit in Florida that guaranteed a sale within 90 days or our money would be refunded. Then they shut their doors and were gone, as was our upfront money.
Friends told us we could just walk away and not pay our maintenance fee — just drop the entire thing.
I have been told by another source that if we do not pay, a lien could be put on our home property, which could be a real problem.
We really need to get out from under this. The maintenance fee is now up to $800 a year for a one-week we can no longer use. It is listed with a broker in Colorado, but he has had no luck even selling at less than $1,000. — J.A.
A: Your statements that “it has served us well” and “we have had complete enjoyment out of it” sum up exactly what buyers can expect of a timeshare . It should not be considered an investment.
At any rate, you can’t give it back to the developer unless they agree to take it. Perhaps they will. That’s the next thing to try. As for just walking away — consult your own lawyer.
Often there are indeed no bad consequences, particularly if they’re located in another state. But your own attorney is the one to advise you on that.
Edith Lank will personally respond to any questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14620 (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit her Web site at www.askedith.com.