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Consumer News and Advice Archive


What are closing costs?

Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates. Closing costs normally include ...


Do I need an attorney to buy a home?

A lot depends on the state where the property is located. Some require an attorney; others do not. ...


Does the seller take the furnishings once the home is sold?

Normally. This is because the fixtures---personal property that is permanently attached to a home, such as built-in bookcases or a furnace---automatically stay with the house unless noted otherwise in the sales contract. Anything that is not nailed down is negotiable, including appliances that are not built in, such as washers ...


What contingencies should appear in the offer?

When you look to purchase a home, anticipate potential problems. But protect against them so that if something does go wrong, you can cancel the contract without penalty. This is what contingencies allow you to do. They should be included in any offer you present to buy a home. ...


What are some negotiating tips?

Know the seller's motivation to sell. This will enhance your negotiating position. Sellers who must move quickly due to a job transfer, divorce, or contract on another home, are more inclined to accept a lower price to speed the process along. ...


Can you negotiate interest rates?

A few lenders will negotiate the mortgage rate and number of points on a loan. However, this is more the exception than the rule with established lenders. As always, shop around and know the market before you enter a lender's office. Rates are often published in local newspapers and on ...


Are low-ball offers a good idea?

Any offer can be presented, but a low-ball one that is extremely less than the asking price can dampen a prospective sale and prevent the seller from negotiating at all. Unless the home is overpriced to begin with the offer will probably be rejected. ...


Is it possible to buy a home below market price?

Certainly, but do not hold your breath. It takes a lot of determination and time to find a real bargain. But if you are adamant, here are some likely targets to pursue: ...


Is private mortgage insurance necessary?

Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most conventional loans with less than a 20 percent down payment. They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default. They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. ...


What about title insurance?

Title insurance protects the lender against unclear title to the property you are buying. It is almost always a requirement for closing on a home. If you desire coverage as well, buy an owner's policy, which will protect you against any title-search errors and losses that arise from disputes over ...


What is condo and co-op insurance?

This insurance protects your investment and personal belongings from most disasters. As an owner, you will need two insurance policies---your own to cover liability, living expenses, your belongings and structural improvements, and a master policy provided by the condo or co-op board. The master policy covers the common areas that ...


What kind of home insurance should I get?

A standard policy will do in most instances. It protects against several natural disasters and catastrophic events. However, it will not guard against earthquakes, floods, war, and nuclear accidents. The policy can be expanded to include these disasters as well as coverage for such things as workers' compensation. In ...


Pre-Retirees May Overlook Healthcare Costs When Relocating

RISMEDIA, Nov. 28, 2007-When it comes to moving after retirement, Americans may be missing significant new costs, according to new national research from Longevity Alliance. The new opinion poll, conducted by Harris Interactive(r), found that U.S. adults aged 40+ who plan on relocating after they retire may overlook how their ...


What does homeowners’ insurance cover?

It protects against disasters---whether natural, manmade or mechanical. A standard policy insures the home, as well as your possessions. Because this insurance is packaged, it covers liability for any harm, loss, and property damage that you or your family members cause others. And it includes additional living expenses in case ...


Do I need to be at the inspection?

No, but it is a very good idea to be there. Following the check-over, the home inspector can answer your questions and discuss problem areas with you. This is also an opportune time to get an objective opinion about the home from someone who does not have emotional or financial ...