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Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2000 / 5 Adar I, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Protection by residential zoning -- DEAR BRUCE: We live in a small town in California on a cul-de-sac with 13 homes. The houses are large, and we have a very nice neighborhood. A month ago, though, one of the houses was sold to some people who plan on turning their house into a rooming house. Needless to say, we are upset.

We have been having meetings every week to see if anything can be done. These people own three other houses in town that they have also turned into rooming houses, and they rent to as many as eight people despite the fact that all the houses are zoned as single-family dwellings.

The neighbors have tried talking to the owners but to no avail. We are going to the city council for help. Any suggestions? -- J.L. (e-mail)

DEAR J.L.: You've got to be kidding! If the homes are zoned specifically as single-family dwellings, a rooming house is totally inappropriate and very likely illegal.

If, however, your adversaries have gone to the zoning board of adjustment and received relief from the ordinance, that's another matter.

I strongly urge the current homeowners to put "a few pennies" in a pot and hire an attorney to represent your interests. An attorney will be able to get a lot further a lot faster than you would be able to.

DEAR BRUCE: My friends and I are Registered Nurses, and we would like to start an agency to provide various hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities with staff. We have great experience as nurses but not as business people. What can you suggest? -- T.S. (e-mail)

DEAR T.S.: Your plan of attack should be either to get a job with an agency and learn the business from the inside out or to hire a business manager who knows the rudimentary tax procedures, office procedures and so forth. The idea of hiring someone else to do the elementary stuff makes a great deal of sense.

You and your friends should concentrate on recruiting nurses as the first order of business. Second, you will need to contact the various agencies who will use occasional nurses.

You haven't mentioned private-duty nursing, but that is one area in which nurses are always in demand, especially for the second and third shifts. As one who has used that service on a couple of occasions, I can tell you how difficult it was to find competent people that would work the odd hours and weekends.

DEAR BRUCE: Would you consider a viatical a good investment? My nephew tells me that they are "safe and guaranteed." He also says that my state, Tennessee, has some of the most stringent laws governing viaticals. -- Max (e-mail)

DEAR MAX: There is no question that there are some very proper and well-run companies dealing in viaticals. It is equally true that there are a significant number out there that are operating in gray areas or that are outright thieves.

I can't imagine who your nephew is referring to when he says "safe and guaranteed." Guaranteed by whom? A guarantee is only as good as that person who issues it. I know of no viatical that is guaranteed, and that makes your nephew's motives suspect.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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