Q: We live in a house built in the early 1900s. The windows are original, and storm windows were installed over them some time ago. We get a lot of cold air coming through and have decided to fix the problem.

That said, we are a bit confused about the best way to go. My research has highlighted the point that sometimes it is best not to install replacement windows Ä… as we were planning to do Ä… in what can be considered an antique home, as this can impact value when we go to sell.

We hoped you could shed some light. – Tim 


A:

 The answer must depend on your ultimate goal for the upgrade.

If your home is genuinely an antique, and the existing windows add to the appeal and you are first and foremost looking to maintain the vintage appearance of the house, then you will want to install better-quality storm windows that maintain an attractive, antique look while keeping the drafts out. 

There are three levels of storms available, I am told, that could easily improve the insulating factor. To get the highest level of insulation, replace the windows with double-paned options.


Q:

 The last time we purchased a house, we had to decide at the closing whether we wanted to purchase title insurance for ourselves (we had already paid for it for the bank). We opted not to buy any for ourselves and have not regretted our decision.

Now we are getting ready to purchase another place, and we will be faced with the same decision at this closing. My wife has read about title insurance and seems to think we should buy it at this closing. 

I don’t really see the point, but we have decided to throw the ball in your court. 

What is your thought? Thanks. – Ernie and Barb


A:

 Most buyers are confused by this issue when they get to their closing. Yes, you are paying for title insurance for your lender as part of your closing costs, but you need to be clear that that coverage you are paying for has no protection or benefit to you personally, should there be a title problem.

Many consumers feel similarly when they are making this decision at the closing. Many of my clients have said, “I have spent enough money already on this property, and this is an unnecessary expenditure. I will take a pass.”

I encourage them, and would encourage you, to rethink that decision. The insurance protects you from events and issues you have no idea could arise: forged signatures that have been forged, previous title mistakes, unpaid taxes, clerical errors in public records, wills not probated properly, zoning violations, encroachments, etc. 

The list of potential unknown problems goes on and on. I know you think it money not worth spending, but it is really important to protect yourself and prevent any later regret.

 

Randal Simon, a broker/manager of Prudential Prime Properties in Kennebunk, has more than 25 years’ experience in real estate. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Unique Homes and The New York Times, as well as to various real estate publications around the country. He also has a weekly television show called Simon Says Real Estate. Please send your questions to [email protected] or to P.O. Box 1099, Kennebunk, 04043.