Q: What standards do appraisers use to estimate value?
A: Appraisers use several factors when estimating value including historical records, property performance, condition of the home and indices that forecast future value. For detailed information on appraisal standards, contact the Appraisal Institute at 875 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60611-1980; (312) 335-4458.
Q: Where do I get information about closing costs?
A: For more on closing costs, ask for the “Consumer’s Guide to Mortgage Settlement Costs,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Public Information Department, P.O. Box 7702, San Francisco, CA 94120, or call (415) 974-2163.
Q: Where do I get information on filing consumer complaints?
A: For information about filing consumer complaints, look to these sources:
* Consumer Federation of America, 1424 16th St. N.W., Suite 604, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 387-6121.
* United Homeowners Association; 1511 K St., N.W.; Washington, DC 20005; (202) 408-8842.
* Consumers Union, 1535 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103 or call (415) 431-6747.
* Consumer Action Council, 116 New Montgomery St., Suite 233, San Francisco, CA 94105; (415) 777-9648
Q: Where do I get information on housing market stats?
A: A real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status of the local housing market. So is your statewide association of REALTORSÆ, most of which are continuously compiling such statistics from local real estate boards.
For overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301) 495-4700. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet. The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, “Who’s Buying Homes in America.” Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.
Q: Where do I get information on IRS publications?
A: The Internal Revenue Service publishes a number of real estate publications. They are listed by number:
* 521 “Moving Expenses”
* 523 “Selling Your Home”
* 527 “Residential Rental Property”
* 534 “Depreciation”
* 541 “Tax Information on Partnerships”
* 551 “Basis of Assets”
* 555 “Federal Tax Information on Community Property”
* 561 “Determining the Value of Donated Property”
* 590 “Individual Retirement Arrangements”
* 908 “Bankruptcy and Other Debt Cancellation”
* 936 “Home Mortgage Interest Deduction”
Order by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM.
Q: How do I reach the IRS?
A: To reach the Internal Revenue Service, call (800) TAX-1040.
Q: Where do I get information about finding a real estate attorney?
A: To find a real estate attorney, contact your local bar association, which may offer local referral services. You may also ask friends or your real estate agent for their recommendations. When you have several names, call each to find out about fees and their level of experience.