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Home Buying 101 Archive


How are individual tax bills figured?

Unlike the income tax and the sales tax you pay, the property tax is not based on how much money you earn or how much you spend. It is based solely on how much the property you own is worth. ...


Why do homeowners have to pay property taxes?

Property taxes are assessed by city and county governments to generate the bulk of their operating revenues. The taxes help pay for such public services as schools, libraries, roads, and police protection. ...


Are there tax credits for first-time homebuyers?

Yes, thanks to the many city and county governments that offer Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) programs, which allow first-time homebuyers to take advantage of a special federal income tax write-off. The credit reduces the amount of federal taxes paid by the buyer each year, if he keeps the same loan ...


Are fees and assessments owed a homeowner’s association deductible?

Generally not because they are considered personal living expenses. But if an association has a special assessment to make capital improvements, condo owners may be able to add the expense to their cost basis when the property is sold. Another exception may apply if you rent your condo---the monthly condo ...


Are up-front fees and closing costs deductible?

Many of the costs paid at closing are not immediately deductible. ...


How can owning a home pay off at tax time?

A home provides many tax benefits, literally from the time you buy to the time you sell. The mortgage interest paid on a home loan up to $1 million for a primary residence or second home is tax deductible every year, as is the local property tax. Other mortgage costs---including ...


Is there anything I should know about closing day?

Yes. The following to-do list can help save you a few headaches and keep the closing on track: ...


Is it possible to save on closing costs?

Certainly, once you get pass the sticker shock. Closing costs are expensive. They can average between 2 to 3 percent of the total home purchase price. But here are a few ways to save: ...


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. ...