August 22, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:My wife and I recently completed renovation of a property in the Fells Point area. The property as it stands is zoned mixed use and consists of two residential spaces and one commercial space. We are living in one space and renting the others.What is the process to convert to condominium? Where can we find information defining the process, and could we do this ourselves for minimal cost?T. Bruce Faulstich Baltimore,Dear Mr. Faulstich:You can convert your mixed-use (residential and commercial)
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.
July 25, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael: Can you review what sort of first-time homebuyer's incentives related to transfer taxes (or other fees) are available in Maryland?Are these applicable throughout the state or do they vary county by county?How long have these incentives been available?Kent KesterSilver SpringDear Mr. Kester:Maryland law provides closing-cost incentives for first-time Maryland homebuyers. Here is a summary of the current provisions:* The state normally imposes a 1/2 percent tax on real estate transfers.
June 13, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:We're looking into buying a new home in Farmington Village in Pasadena. We're looking at two different houses, one is a Ryan home and one is a Grayson home. They are about the same price. I just wanted to know possibly which way we should go. We're very confused and we're trying to decide between the builders and we really don't know who to go with.Janet Sumner CrownsvilleDear Ms. Sumner:Since the two new homes you are considering are not identical, you should focus on which home has the features you want most.
May 30, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:I went into a contract with a builder in December to build a new house.In March, I gave them 5 percent of the total price (over $15,000). Now I want to get out of the contract because the lot I initially selected is too small for the model I want. I picked out a lot that was a quarter of an acre, but it actually was .19 of an acre.At this time I do not want to deal with them anymore because they have been dishonest with me. I just want to get out of the contract.Harrison Molen TowsonDear Mr. McNeil:You need to see a lawyer right away.
February 21, 1999
Dear Mr. Azrael:We're first-time homebuyers and we want to know what would be better financially.Our cap is $110,000, and we wanted to know if building on property that we purchased would be in our best interest or would it be in our best interest to invest in a resale.Michelle & Whitney Hendricks BaltimoreDear Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks: Since your budget is limited to $110,000, purchasing an existing home almost certainly will be more advantageous than buying a lot and building a new home.Costs for a single-family detached home in the Baltimore metropolitan area will be at least $100 per square foot -- including the lot.For instance, a modest new home of 1,500 square feet may cost $150,000.
October 18, 1998
Dear Mr. Azrael:I recently signed a contract on a house. We are scheduled to go to settlement at the end of [the month]. Being a single mom, I have a limited income. The contract contains the FHA addendum that states the seller is willing to pay for any repairs that the FHA inspector finds up to 2 percent of the selling price of the house.My question for you is that they are now asking me to pay for these repairs, and I feel that we have a signed "legal" contract.So, am I responsible for making these repairs if I want this house or are they legally responsible for these repairs?
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.
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.
August 9, 1998
Dear Mr. Azrael:When we were living in Amherst, N.Y., (a suburb of Buffalo) we took advantage of a local statute that allowed Vietnam-era veterans to be exempt from a percentage of property taxes.Is there any similar statute for Baltimore City?Hadley GarbartBaltimoreDear Mr. Garbart:There is no similar tax exemption in Baltimore City or anywhere else in Maryland. Property tax relief for individuals exists in limited situations, all of which apply statewide.Here are some examples:* Homeowners Tax Credit: Eligibility for this tax credit depends on gross household income each year.