Real Estate Q&a

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FACING FINANCIAL TROUBLE

Dear Edith: In 11 years I have never missed a payment on my mortgage. (I have been late about three times by only a week or two.)

Now I have very little income because of a job loss. Although I am actively seeking employment, prospects are slim in the near future.

In the meantime, would it be feasible to contact my mortgage company and arrange to make partial payments on my mortgage? A friend's financial consultant told me this would alert the mortgage company that I am a poor risk. The alternative is to wait until I have exhausted my savings and then contact the mortgage company.

- N.D.

Don't wait that long.

By all means call the mortgage company. As long as you're making payments, it can't take any steps against you, so such contact won't hurt. In fact, you'll look better than if you wait till the last minute.

Occasionally the mortgage company can arrange something - recasting your mortgage to lengthen the time remaining, for example, thus reducing monthly payments. If yours is a Federal Housing Administration mortgage, you may qualify for substantial help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sometimes the mortgage company doesn't have anything to suggest. But lenders don't want to foreclose if they can help it. Letting them know you're facing trouble does you much more good than just ignoring the problem.

CAN'T DEDUCT INTEREST

Dear Edith: I have a reverse mortgage. The savings-and-loan gave me the money three years ago, but it never furnished me with an annual statement similar to the one it gave when I had my regular mortgage with it (now paid off).

I want to deduct the interest on my income taxes. I called the Internal Revenue Service, and it said I could, but how do I find out what the interest is?

- I.K.

Someone at the IRS told you wrong. Although interest piles up on your reverse-mortgage debt, you can't deduct it on your income tax because you're not paying it. It won't be deductible until the house eventually is sold and the debt paid off.

Nevertheless, I certainly wish the lender would send you an annual statement. Keep calling until you get one.

FOUNDATION PROBLEMS

Dear Edith: I live in a home that has foundation problems. It supposedly was fixed six years ago, but it's worse than ever. Doors that won't open, cracks in the drywall, etc. I plan to sell the house in six to eight years.

I would like to get the foundation done again - right, by a different company. …