Real Estate

Ask Toni & Maria – Real Estate Column #5

“Ask Toni & Maria” is a real estate column written by Toni Gilardi and Maria DiTullio from Elite Boston Landmark Realty. Have them answer your questions in an upcoming column by emailing

Q) Hello Ladies, Over the Christmas Holiday my family and I were discussing selling the building we own in the North End.  The problem is, our elderly Aunt still lives in one of the apartments.  It is really in our best interest to sell at this time, but we would never displace our favorite Auntie.  What are our options?
Stressed out,  Maryanne

A) Hey Maryanne, Don’t stress out!!!  You can still sell your property and have your favorite Auntie stay.  It is called a “Life Estate” which is an interest in the property limited in duration to that person’s life.  She would be considered a “Life Tenant.”  You’ll have to disclose this condition to the prospective Buyer. Multi-family properties are in demand so it should not be a big deal to the RIGHT Buyer.

Q)  On Christmas Day, my cousin Carolyn, asked if it were better to give one Agent an “Exclusive Listing” to sell her property or give several Agents access to the property at the same time.

A) Good question Carolyn, It is far better to list your property with one Agent since their chance of selling the property is greater (motivate the Agent).  Also, there are rules for our Multiple Listing Services which prevents more than one Agent from listing the property on the open market.  This puts the other Agents at a disadvantage.   A happy and motivated Agent makes for a happy and profitable Seller!

Q)  Hi Toni and Maria,   In the past I have always taken a Last Months Rent from my tenants.  I’m now considering switching to Security Deposits.  What paperwork do I need to set that up and how? 
Thank you, Michael

A) Hi Michael, Very simply, you’ll have to wait until your leases are up or you have a new tenant moving in. At that time, you can re-write the lease to allow for a security deposit.  You’ll need to have your tenant fill out a W-9 form for the bank and a condition statement marking any damage that already exists in the property.  Once you open what is called an Escrow Account you’ll have 30 days to inform your tenant where the monies are being held.  Every year the tenant will receive any interest earned on their money. At the end of the tenancy, you will have 30 days to return their deposit with interest unless there is damage to the property.

Don’t be shy…We would love to hear from you! Send in your real estate questions to: And don’t forget to check out our website at Call 617-227-1000 or 617 523-5400 to chat with a friendly agent.