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Consumer News and Advice Archive


What is the best way to find a real estate agent?

Begin by asking someone that you know. Friends, relatives, co-workers, or neighbors who have recently purchased a home can give you a firsthand account and attest to the agent's professional abilities. Sometimes an agent you contact will refer you to another one who works more closely with buyers and sellers ...


How do you decide whether to add on to an existing home or purchase a new one?

There are a few things to consider, including cost, individual needs, and what will add value down the road. Also important: your emotional attachment to the existing home. As designer and builder Philip S. Wenz, the author of Adding to a House: Planning, Design & Construction, notes, an ...


Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?

It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying ...


How much can I afford?

The general rule of thumb is that you can buy a home that costs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. A good real estate agent or lender can determine how much you can afford and estimate the maximum monthly payment based on the loan amount, taxes, insurance and other expenses. ...


What is the first step to buying a home?

Make sure you are ready---psychologically and financially. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have steady income? Is my debt lower than my total income? Do I have enough money to pay for the down payment and closing costs? Am I working hard enough to improve bad credit? ...


What are the advantages of owning a home?

There are many. Among the most appealing: you own it, which gives you, instead of a landlord, control of your living space. Other benefits stem from potential tax savings and the build up of equity as your property likely appreciates in price over time. Equity can be used to help ...


Are home selling costs deductible?

If you sell your home and realize a taxable gain even after the exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs. ...


Can I deduct a loss on the sale of my home?

No. A loss from the sale of personal-use property, such as a home or car, is not deductible. They are considered nondeductible personal losses, and you cannot reduce your tax bill by deducting them the way you would deduct stock and investment losses on your tax returns.


What if you have more than one home?

For more than one home, you can exclude the gain only from the sale of your main residence. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live ...


How do capital gains work when you sell your home?

If you sell your primary residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of gain - $500,000 for married couples - from your federal tax return. To claim the exclusion, the IRS says your home must have been owned by you and used as your main home for ...


How does a lease option work?

A landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property. The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place - whether, say, six months, or a year or two down the road. ...


What is a lease option?

It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property. The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not. ...


What are the benefits of seller financing?

Seller financing is a viable option when the seller does not immediately need the entire cash equity they have accumulated in the home. ...


What is seller financing?

Also known as a purchase money mortgage, it is when the seller agrees to "lend" money to the buyer to purchase and close on the seller's home. Usually sellers do this when money is tight, interest rates are high or when a buyer has difficulty qualifying for a conventional loan ...


What is a bridge loan?

It is a short-term bank loan of the equity in the home you are selling. You may take out a bridge loan, or interim financing, to help with a knotty situation: closing on the home you are buying before you close on the property you are selling. This loan ...