My mother lives in a house that is falling apart and dangerous to live in. The mortgage is up to date but in my late father's name. Should she just walk away from it or try to sell it?
There are consequences to every action. This is not as simple a situation as you believe. Your mother needs to retain the right type of attorney to determine what her options are, even if you believe the mortgage is up to date, since other problems exist. Only a PA mortgage foreclosure defense and probate attorney has the expertise to prevent you from having more problems than you can possibly imagine. To properly answer your questions and address your concerns, the best way to handle this is with an in-person consultation. You need to retain the best mortgage foreclosure defense and probate attorney you can afford. You should not be restricted by geographic factors. Pick the best lawyer you can find and remember one rule: a good lawyer is generally never cheap, and a cheap lawyer is generally never good so don't choose based on price. Use AVVO's Find a Lawyer tool to select a qualified attorney. Good luck. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE! YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY WHO IS LICENSED IN YOUR STATE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. This is merely suggestions for you to think about in discussing your situation with the local attorney.
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If there is equity in the property, there is no reason to walk away from it. If there is not equity, there are still options that are better than walking away. Contact a real estate lawyer to help you.
This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. To get legal advice, consult an attorney in your local area or the area where the issue is located. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response is based on the limited facts provided, and without any independent investigation of the author. Given additional or different facts, the response would likely change. The attorney providing this response is only licensed in Pennsylvania, and you should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction if it is outside Pennsylvania.
I agree that you should not walk away. A good realtor and a real estate attorney can help you. For example, you could get a comparable market analysis done to see what the value of the property is in its current condition. Even if its less than the mortgage balance (meaning the mortgage is under water), you may be able to do a short sale. Another option is working with a realtor who has a contractor who will renovate the property and agree to be paid from sales proceeds. Many realtors have such contacts. Then you can sell the property after it is fixed up and reap the full rewards of its renovated market value. But DO NOT walk away. There are other options as well that are much better than a mortgage foreclosure but it doesn't sound like you need to go those routes because the mortgage is current and not in default.
Leslie A. Margolies, Esq. (AKA Professor Landlord) is an attorney and Director of The Real Estate Law Group which provides affordable legal representation (sliding scale) for people with property problems. Go to www.TheRealEstateLawGroup.org. She is also a licensed Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate. Her services include real estate and landlord tenant litigation, real estate transactions and document preparation. She is also the Founder of Landlord College™ which teaches landlords how to properly manage their properties, avoid tenant problems and stay out of court. Go to www.LandlordCollege.org. Please note that responses to questions on this website are for general purposes only. Such responses may not be considered legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
In addition to the other attorney responses, I think you need to meet with at least one real estate brokerage company you feel comfortable with (perhaps a state-wide company as opposed to a local one) who would provide you with their expertise as to a realistic listing price to sell the house relatively quickly and the marketability of the house. This would be the best way to find out how much equity there is in the property (if any), what the real estate market is like for sellers, buyers, and rentals, what the realistic costs of improvements would be required, in case you decide to rent the house.
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