February 8, 1998
The Sun invites you to send your real estate questions to our weekly mailbag.Questions will be answered by Jonathan A. Azrael, principal at Azrael, Gann and Franz, a Towson firm that has a concentration in real estate law. Azrael chairs the State Board of Law Examiners, which is responsible for administering the Maryland bar exam.We ask that you keep questions brief and direct. Please include a daytime phone number for verification. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.Questions can be sent in the following ways:Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001.
April 11, 2003
The most famous "embedded" war correspondent in Baltimore journalistic history was a man who traversed the killing sands of Omaha Beach three times on D-Day and thereafter became almost a member of the family in countless Baltimore homes: Lou Azrael. Louis Azrael (1904-1981) was the star columnist of the old News-American, which in its heyday as the largest circulation daily in Maryland was better known as the News-Post and Sunday American. His column, begun in the old Baltimore Daily Post in 1927, was required reading for politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats and the general public for more than half a century.
October 11, 1998
Dear Mr. Azrael:I have recently purchased some investment property at 30 percent less than the market value [with a mortgage] at 10.5 percent for 30 years.I am looking at refinancing the properties at the full-market value at a lower interest rate. Would this be wise?I am thinking that I could possibly pay off the current mortgage and use the rest of the income to possibly purchase more properties.Please give me some advice.Wave TaylorBaltimoreDear Ms. Taylor:Interest rates are falling. Now is a great time for folks to consider refinancing their mortgages.
August 8, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:I own a building lot which I intend to donate to church. What is an acceptable standard to use to determine value? And, how do you determine the amount to be deducted?Mark E. CooperRandallstownDear Mr. Cooper:When property held for more than one year is donated to a bona fide church, charity or educational institution, the donor is entitled to a deduction equal to the fair market value of the property on the date of the gift. For example, a $10,000 deduction is allowable if the property has a fair market value of $10,000 at the time the deed is signed and delivered to the church.
October 4, 1998
Dear Mr. Azrael:What action can a ground rent owner take when the city demolishes rows of houses?Irwin ElliottBaltimoreDear Mr. Elliott:A ground rent owner has no control over what happens to the improvements (houses or other structures) built on the ground. The owner of the leasehold can choose to construct a Taj Mahal or allow the building to become vacant and boarded up -- or even demolished.A ground rent owner has one right only -- to collect the ground rent from the person or entity who owns the leasehold.
September 26, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:I want to know if a child can own a home?William Larkey Glen BurnieDear Mr. Larkey:A minor child legally can own a house, but, in my opinion, it is a bad idea. A child under the age of 18 is a minor and lacks legal capacity to sell, mortgage or convey his or her interest in real estate.To sell, mortgage or convey real property owned by a minor, an adult guardian would have to be appointed by a court to act for and on behalf of the child. This is a time-consuming and relatively expensive process.