DEAR HARRY: I feel that I was treated like a fool. Back in January, we were set to settle on the sale of our old home. There was a glitch: The buyer showed up with about $9,000 less than he needed for things to go as planned. I suggested that his lawyer try to get some supplementary financing. He suggested that I lower the sales price. My broker said nothing. Finally, as if it were scripted into the act, my broker and his lawyer brainwashed me into taking a note back for $10,000 due in two years with 5 percent interest. Payments were to be made monthly beginning Feb. 1. They were convincing, insisting that it was a safe deal for me. I finally conceded at the urging of everyone in the room. So far, not one dime, not one letter or phone call has come to me. I have called the buyer at least a dozen times and have never gotten to him or his wife. I contacted my broker to see where all this "safety" was, and I got the proverbial brush-off. Am I out the $10,000?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Maybe. At best, you have a lien on the house that is secondary to the mortgage. Going after your buyer with a lawsuit could get him to move. But legal action probably will be costly and won't end satisfactorily, because I suspect that this guy is living far above his means. I'm afraid you'll just have to consider this as a sort of price reduction. Sorry.

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