Q I own a one-bedroom condo in a very nice part of Uptown, right along the greenway. I've already lost almost $20,000 of the $237,000 I paid for it when buying in 2008.

I still owe $160,000 on it, and I'm 56 years old. My plan was to pay extra on the principal every month to get it paid sooner, but that hasn't happened. The mortgage is 30-year fixed rate.

I don't know what to do. Sell at a low price and rent? Try to hang on until the market gets better? I own a small S-Corp business, just me, so that doesn't give me a home-office deduction. My income has always been steady, around $100,000 in the past few years, but I can't count on that. I have very little in an IRA, also, and two grown sons that I'm helping.


A I know that the home market is scary these days. The latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index had the Twin Cities showing the biggest home price decline of major metropolitan areas in March. Home prices in the Twin Cities are down 38 percent from their peak. That said, it does appear that the market is closing in on bottom.

My advice is to slow down. I wouldn't do anything drastic. You bought your condo for a reason. Has anything changed in your life to reconsider that decision? If not, the current weakness in the market isn't critical. If you realize you made a mistake, I would research where would you move and why.


Q Is it worth paying a financial adviser 1.5 percent of your portfolio annually? Are fee-based advisers a better option? My wife and I are in our mid-30s and we have two young children. Our goals are focused on properly saving for retirement, college education and moving up to a larger home in a good public school district. Any advice or thoughts on the situation would be greatly appreciated.


A In theory meeting a financial planner when you have a lot of personal finance questions is a sensible strategy. The reality is that it's difficult for middle-income families with the typical range of money questions to find reasonably priced financial expertise and money advice. It's a major reason why I favor a DIY approach.

I favor fee-only certified financial planners. They have the education and the knowledge to deal with all aspects of household finances, from estate planning to retirement. The conflict of interest is minimized with straight forward fees. A fee-only planner can look at your whole financial situation rather than slices.

Chris Farrell is economics editor for "Marketplace Money." Send your questions to cfarrell@mpr.org.