Q: What is the status of the "Lead Paint Registration" program? Where can I get more information?
Robert Hurwitz, Baltimore
A: The "Lead Paint Registration" law affecting rental units was passed by the General Assembly last year. The law requires owners of older rental properties to take certain actions to provide a supply of low-cost, lead-safe rental housing and allows those qualifying landlords to attain limited liability protection and more affordable insurance.
Currently, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is in the final stages of promulgating regulations to fully implement the "Lead Paint Registration" program. To find out if a particular rental unit needs to be registered, or for more information about the program, call the MDE's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (410) 631-3845.
Q: My wife and I recently purchased a home. It was appraised at $165,000. In June, we refinanced, and the bank's appraisal was only $140,000. How can we correct this?
Alan Walsh, Sykesville
A: When faced with what you believe to be a low appraisal, either meet with or write to the appraiser. To make your case, you must be able to support with objective facts a higher valuation. Merely stating that your house is worth more or that you paid more will not work.
You must obtain "comparables" -- recent sales of houses that are similar to yours. You can bolster your case with details about your house -- upgrades, improvements and other features -- that would add to the value of your home, compared with similar homes in the area.
To find comparables, you may talk to a real estate agent or go to the library and consult reports of recent real estate sales activity.
The test of a house's value is what a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller.
Q: I am interested in a career in real estate. How do I get started? What is the average salary?
Stuart King, Baltimore
A: The state and local boards of Realtors and many large real estate brokers offer education, training and licensing courses to those interested in becoming licensed agents.
These same groups also offer career guidance -- and, at the realty companies, perhaps a job.
To start working, agents must pass a real estate course and a state exam, then hook up with a broker.
Real estate sales people work on commission, and earnings are based on performance.