Capital-gains tax rules can work in your favor


June 30, 1996|By Michael Gisriel

Dear Mr. Gisriel:

I'm a retired military man. I recently signed a contract and put a deposit on a house that my wife and I plan on living in during retirement. The settlement date is July 28; however, there is no way I'll be able to sell our current residence by that date. Will I have to pay capital-gains tax on the sale of my existing house if I can't sell it by the date of my new purchase?

Russell R. Vedelia


Dear Mr. Vedelia: First of all, if you and your wife are both at least 55 years old, then you have a one-time capital-gains tax exclusion coming for the sale of your residence of up to $125,000 of your net gain from the sale of your existing residence.

Additionally, if you do not want to take your one-time $125,000 capital-gains tax exclusion from the sale of your home, you can defer the entire gain on the sale of your principal residence as long as an amount at least equal to the adjusted sale price of the old residence is spent on the purchase, construction or purchase and improvement of your new permanent residence within two (2) years of the sale of your former principal residence.

The fact that you had to settle on the purchase of your new home before you could sell your existing home should be of no tax consequence as long as you are able to sell and settle on your previous residence within two years.

Dear Mr. Gisriel:

I purchased a house over a year ago. I know that the deed was recorded in the county land records but I never received the original deed back from my settlement. Is this a problem?

Kim Villanova


Dear Ms. Villanova:

Although having the original deed back in your possession after it has been recorded in the land records might make you feel better, it really is of no legal significance. Maryland is a "race-notice" state. This means that a valid deed that is recorded in the land records in the county where the property is located takes legal priority over all other valid deeds to the same property even though the first recorded deed might have been validly executed after the later recorded deed.

Thus, while it might be comforting to have the original deed, a copy of your executed deed with the recording reference and date of recording written on top of the copy is really just as good legally as having the original.


Michael Gisriel is senior vice president of Fountainhead Title Group of Columbia and host of the weekly radio show "All About Real Estate" on WCBM from noon to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

Send questions to Michael Gisriel, c/o Mailbag, Real Estate Section, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

You can also leave questions on Sundial by calling (410) 783-1800 and entering the code 6170 after you hear the greeting.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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