Chris Griffith: Time to answer the questions du jour

CHRIS GRIFFITH

The mailbag filled up and these two gems stood out as questions that were asked more than a few times. Not only are they important questions but I almost get to use the word Obamacare, which is almost as much fun as throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest.

So here you go, my best answers to the tough questions with enough cover my rear end disclaimers to comfort those who fret over such matters.

Q: I didn’t react to this subject until I heard it the third time. Now it was a CNN business reporter stating that within the bowels of the health care bill was a 3.8 percent sales tax on real estate expected in 2012 and beyond. No mention of who pays, buyer or seller, but he used the example of $300,000 as an average ($11,400 tax?). Is this tax true? I hope you can confirm or deny this latest tactic to worry the population holding deeds.

A. This is a resurfacing question that first came up in the spring when a chain e-mail started circulating. To date, I must have received it a dozen times myself. Unfortunately, this e-mail, just like many of the urban legend e-mails, get forwarded without anyone verifying the accuracy or sighting sources to support the information or lack thereof.

First and foremost, if you want to get to the bottom of a tax or legal question and how it specifically affects you, you need to ask your tax advisor or lawyer. The rest of the population too embarrassed to ask the question will do the next best thing and Google for the information and hopefully get the right answer.

The verbiage regarding the tax is in the healthcare bill, however it doesn’t affect everyone. I’m certainly not going to be able to sum it up in less than 500 words but I can provide you a few links so that you can get the facts and educate yourself. (http://budurl.com/FactCheck; http://budurl.com/NARFAQ, and http://budurl.com/Snopes)

If you’re not able to access the web and anticipate selling your home after Jan. 1, 2013, at a considerable profit which exceeds the capital gains threshold, call me and I’ll print one of the summary pages and snail mail or fax it to you. Fair enough?

Q: How do I know if the home I’m renting is safe from foreclosure?

A: Beyond simply asking the owner if they’re current with their mortgage payments, you can also search the owner or address of the property at the county clerk of courts website.

Depending upon the county and how the information is displayed, there will be recordings which indicate legal action. The filing may read simply as a “lis pendens” which indicates a legal action or actually be listed as an NOD which is a notice of default or mortgage foreclosure action.

You’d be wise to have a real estate attorney review your lease and check for legal action against the property and the owner of the home, prior to signing. There is a chance that an existing legal action could actually affect the validity of your lease.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. You may want to check the county clerk’s site from time to time just to make sure there haven’t been any developments that come up during the tenancy, too.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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