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Jewish World ReviewAugust 2, 1999 /20 Av 5759

Bruce Williams

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Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house! -- DEAR BRUCE: Not too long ago, you asked a reader if she had a survey done prior to purchasing a house, and she had not. I find myself in a similar circumstance, and I am disillusioned. When I saw an ad for a home, it included a fenced-in area for horses. To my astonishment, when we had a survey (after the sale), there was more than two thousand feet of fenced area gone, not to mention where we thought the back line was. The real estate agent said she was unaware that the enclosed area was not our own. When I asked the surveyor how such an oversight could have happened, his reply was it would have made any perspective buyers back off. Don't I have the right for a reimbursement of the surveyors fees? -- D.H. Henderson, Md.

DEAR D.H.: It never ceases to amaze me that people like yourself will buy an expensive home and not have a survey done prior to the closing substantiating the claims made by the seller.

Often people assume the fence line is a border line, when in fact it can be off by a substantial amount. This is a hard lesson, but if you purchase a piece of property without appropriate surveys, you take a great deal of risk.

DEAR BRUCE: I am a caregiver and I would like to hire a person to come in one day a week to give me time off. I am told that I am responsible for their Social Security, income taxes and filing with the IRS, as well as the State of California. What I want to know is: Just how complicated is this? The amount that I will be paying will be about $220 per month, and the person I am considering is a friend. -- R.E., Eureka, Calif.

DEAR R.E.: What you have been told is correct. Given the circumstances, you might consider raising the $220 an additional $20 per month and treat your friend as an independent contractor. That way, you only have to send in a 1099, and he or she will have to pay self-employment taxes, which you will have increased the monthly stipend to cover.

DEAR BRUCE: My 21-year-old son was offered several credit cards in college. Very quickly he racked up a lot of debt and then dropped out of school. He now works two jobs and is getting married. They want to have a big wedding and will also incur this debt. We have a small apartment on our property which we offered to them at a reduced rate. We co-signed a loan a couple of years ago and he has missed half of those payments. He has been advised to file for bankruptcy. I don't see any other way. What are your thoughts? -- D.L., via e-mail

DEAR D.L.: You should understand that the loan you co-signed would be entirely your responsibility if your kid goes "belly up." It's obvious that he has a great deal of growing up to do. The only thing that seems to be in his favor is that he works two jobs. Until such time as he changes, I would cease to support him if I were you. It's a hard thing to do, but here is a guy who needs to make a drastic change. Hopefully, his new wife will be able to help out with that lesson.

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).


07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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