Category Archives: Ask Betsy

Q. How come the value of my home on Zillow is different than what my Realtor says it is?

A. Zillow uses a proprietary formula based on available public data. It should, at best, be considered a starting point of determining market value as it takes into consideration the size of house and lot, the age of home and number of bathrooms and bedrooms. It does not take into consideration upgrades within a home (it assumes all homes are equal in this regard), neighborhood, market conditions, concessions paid at closing, seasonality, and errors in public data. For some homes, Zillow estimates run high, while for others, the estimates run low. If you are seriously considering selling your home, you should request a CMA from a Realtor and/or get an appraisal.

Q. I am currently separated from my wife and want to buy a house. Does my wife have to sign the closing papers?

A. It depends. If you are buying an investment property, then no, your wife does not have to sign papers. In addition, if you are buying a home that you are going to use as your primary residence and you are paying cash, your wife does not have to sign. If, however, you are buying a home to make as your primary residence and you are taking out a loan to pay for it, your wife has to sign the mortgage but not the note. The mortgage places the lien on the house so she, being married to you in a homesteaded state, needs to agree to this. She is not obligated to the debt and therefore does not sign the note. You should consult a real estate attorney, as they have specific language used for this situation.

Q. Iā€™m moving and need to find a good Realtor to help me find my ideal house. How do I do that?

A. If you are working with a Realtor here to help you sell your current house, ask them if they can refer you to a good Realtor in the area in which you are moving. We have a wide network of people that we know through various national associations in which we are members and through our continuous training that is often done out of town. Your agent here can likely refer you to a few experienced agents in a new city. If you are not working an agent here, call one that you respect and ask them for a referral. When interviewing the agents referred to you, compatibility is key but also ask they how long they have been in the business full-time, how many homes have they sold in the last six months in the area you are interested in and what designations have they earned that relate to buyers.