Real estate titleholding method makes transfer difficult

DEAR BOB: Love your weekly articles, as I have learned somuch from them about real estate. But I have a title problem with my home. Mywife died almost two years ago. Since then, I have been trying to clear thetitle to our home into my name alone. But the local recorder of deeds refusesto accept my evidence of her passing, including a certified copy of her deathcertificate and an affidavit of my survivorship. I am told only the ProbateCourt can clear my title. Is this true? –Clarence B.

DEAR CLARENCE: The exact legal answer depends on how you andyour late wife held title to your home.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

If you both held title as joint tenants with right ofsurvivorship, as an attorney my experience has been all that is required toclear the title after a joint tenant passes on is a certified copy of the deathcertificate and an affidavit of survivorship by the remaining joint tenant.

Perhaps you and your late wife held title by another method,such as tenants-in-common. If that is the situation, then title must usually betransferred by the local Probate Court according to the terms of the deceased’swill. If no will was left, then the state law of intestate succession applies.For full details, please consult a local real estate or probate attorney.


DEAR BOB: What is the appropriate level of real estate salescommission for an expensive home, say, over $1 million? As you know, moneymanagers and stockbrokers reduce their commissions for large accounts andtransactions. It seems that a 6 percent sales commission of $60,000 on a $1million home sale is excessive in regard to the listing agent’s sales effortand expenses. Will Realtors negotiate commissions for expensive homes? –GaryA.

DEAR GARY: All real estate sales commissions are negotiablebetween the seller and the listing agent. Realtors frequently negotiate reducedsales commissions for expensive homes.

For example, in the county where I live, the top sales agentadvertises a 3.68 percent sales commission for expensive homes.

But the big drawback for home sellers of negotiating areduced sales commission is other multiple listing service (MLS) member buyer’sagents won’t show homes with low sales commissions if comparable homes arelisted with higher sales commissions.

In today’s very competitive home sales market, a greatlyreduced commission rate can hurt a home’s chances of selling.

To illustrate, I just returned from a trip to the Midwestwhere, in many communities, the home sales market is a bit slow. One agent toldme he gets “action” on his listings by getting his sellers to agreeto a 7 percent sales commission although the local “going rate” is 6percent. As a result, buyer’s agents show his listings first.


DEAR BOB: About 12 years ago, my mother died without a will.Among her assets was a land parcel now worth around $100,000. I have beenpaying the property taxes, but I am getting tired of doing so. My brother and Iwere the only children. He died two years ago. How can I sell this land?–Georgia H.

DEAR GEORGIA: You can’t sell it until you clear the title ofyour late brother’s name. Because your mother died without a will, the landpassed according to the state law of intestate succession.

That means the title can only be distributed by the localProbate Court. Please consult a local probate attorney in the county where theland is located.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Obtain theBest Appraisal of Your House or Condo,” is now available for $5 fromRobert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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