Monday, April 25, 2011

Q: My husband and I loaned our son money years ago to buy a home on Vashon.

We let him pay small payments all these years to help him out.  My husband has since passed away, and I am almost glad he isn't here to see what a mess this has become. I found out that my son is about to lose the house. He hasn't paid his taxes for three years and the County is going to foreclose. In addition, he went out and got a loan on the place somehow and hasn't been keeping up with his payments, so the bank is going to foreclose on him too. The money we loaned him was part of our retirement so I need to know how I can get it back if the bank sells the house.

A: I am so sorry to hear your story. The sad truth is that you will probably not see any money out of the sale of this property. The County will probably get their money first. That will include the back taxes and penalties, which really add up. Then the bank that holds the first trust deed will get the rest. Your son owes more than the property is worth so the bank won't even get what is owed. It's also possible that he owes the IRS who will certainly be in line for money.

I checked with a title company and it appears that when you loaned him the money you didn't secure the loan with the property. You made an unsecured loan. I would recommend you see an attorney right away, but it doesn't look good, I'm afraid. Your son clearly owes you the money if you have any kind of a written contract, but if he has no assets there's not much chance you'll get paid back.

When family members loan each other money it's always a good idea to treat it lake any other business transaction. If you had a recorded contract secured by the real estate you would be able to see some return on your loan. I'm so sorry.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Q: This is probably a stupid question, but we're getting our home ready to sell next year and trying to fix things up.

We want to paint both the outside and inside of the house. How do you choose colors? We always hear you should paint everything white or beige when you are going to sell, but we still have to live here for awhile and I hate white and beige. Any suggestions?

A: I also dislike all white and find that it can seem institutional or cold. It also gets dirty faster. Beige is okay, especially with an attractive trim color, but can be overdone, We are all led by the nose when it comes to color. For the most part, colors are chosen by a very elite team of decorators and color professionals that tell the various industries what the hot colors will be for each season. The largest, I believe, is the Color Association of the United States.

These folks tell decorators, hair colorists, fashion designers and furniture and carpet manufacturers what colors will be popular. For industrial uses the color has to be "in" longer. A large hotel chain will not change its carpet every year, so those large institutions are given color ideas that are expected to last for several years.

If you want to know the new colors that will last awhile check upscale hotels that have recently put in new carpet or painted their interiors. We are currently (thank goodness) moving away from the dull colors that decorators call "chalky". I call them baby poop colors. (Just my personal opinion). The greens look like baby food peas or asparagus, for instance. I'm thrilled to see those go!

I feel the best bet for resale is to use colors that are harmonious, not garish or too dark. Use colors that give the place a warm, soft feeling. You can find color guides online or talk to the paint people in one of our local home supply stores. If you use a decorator or colorist, that can be even better. Best of luck.