1. Should I finish my basement if my mortgage is underwater?

    Reader Question: I have seen estimates and rules of thumb regarding the value added to a home by finishing the basement. They vary widely, from $20.00 to $90.00 per square foot. An online website values my home for $150 per square foot. At a $20.00 per square foot return, finishing the basement isn’t worth my […]

    December 5, 2012
  2. What if I don't reaffirm a loan after bankruptcy?

    Reader Question: My daughter and son-in-law (the kids) went through bankruptcy a couple of years ago, but did not include their home in bankruptcy. The judge approved their decision to do so. Now they are trying to refinance their home to get a better interest rate, but they were informed they did not do the paperwork […]

    November 6, 2012
  3. How do I pick a good general contractor for modern office?

    Reader Question: Monty, our company is expanding. We have an eye on a 10,000 square foot all-brick warehouse built in the 50’s. We want to gut it and turn it into an edgy-high tech office. We expect we can invest about 1.3M including 500T for improvements, based on the market rents in the neighborhood. What is the […]

    October 31, 2012
  4. Should I retire if my mortgage is underwater?

    Reader Question: I purchased my home 8 years ago expecting some appreciation in the value before I retire within the next year. However, now my home is worth 35-50 thousand less than I owe. What choices do I have, since at retirement I am not sure if I will any longer be able to afford […]

    October 23, 2012
  5. Who is responsible for a sewage leak in the basement?

    Reader Question: Monty, I am seeking a resource that might be able to help a client with a unique problem. They entered into a contract for the construction of a home near the local university. The initial contract was with a building contractor, who sold out to another building contractor that finished the home. They moved into the […]

    October 2, 2012
  6. Should I combine two parcels?

    Reader Question: Dear Monty, My wife and I recently purchased some lakefront property. The property contains two small, similar lots. We plan to keep both of them. One lot has a cabin, and the other is vacant. We currently pay property taxes of $800 (cabin parcel) and $550 (vacant parcel). At the time of purchase, […]

    September 10, 2012
  7. Should I swap part of my lot with my neighbor?

    Reader Question: Monty, I have a neighbor wanting to buy a small piece of frontage on my lake property because a small slew on the waters edge on my easterly lot line places part of my lot on his side of the slew. I am trying to decide whether or not I should agree to this proposition. If I […]

    August 21, 2012
  8. Who handles problems with private mortgage insurance?

    Reader Question: Monty, my daughter and son-in-law are trying to refinance their home to lower their interest rate. After my daughter contacted their mortgage company, the mortgage advisor said there would be no problem, and they could do it for eleven dollars. This is not their original mortgage company. After further checking, he informed my […]

    July 31, 2012
  9. Is removing a bathtub for a shower a bad idea?

    Reader Question: Dear Monty, I have a real problem and I’m hoping you can help me. My husband and I are in our 60’s and planning on remodeling a small bathroom in our bedroom. I want to remove the tub with a larger shower only for easier access for us in our future, but my […]

    May 20, 2012
  10. What is radon gas?

    How Small Is Small? Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs in nature and has always been present in the air. You can not see it, taste it or smell it, and it can only be detected with specialized testing equipment. Radon is measured in units, called picocuries. The curie is a standard measure for […]

    May 21, 2011