I want to buy, but …
Question: We want to buy a home here in Summit County but don’t know where to begin. My wife and I don’t seem to agree on what this house should be like. How do we get started?
Answer: Most homebuyers base their decision mainly on price and location, studies show. Other important elements are space, renovated kitchens and bathrooms, a home office, energy efficiency, and modern amenities. Although many of these elements can be added later, some buyers prefer to purchase a house that already contains what they want. When deciding what type of home to buy it can be helpful to make a list of both wanted and needed features in a home–this list, which can include any specialized features, can easily be generated by first considering unappealing aspects of the home. Buyers should give their real estate agent a copy of the list, and they should take a copy with them whenever they are out house hunting. Nonetheless, buyers often find themselves swayed by a house’s ambiance and forgetful of their carefully constructed list. While atmosphere is important, to ensure a long-lasting happiness in the home, it is best for buyers to make sure it actually contains some of the features they want. “2008 Information.Inc.
Question: Wow, we just got a bid back from a contractor for remodeling our kitchen. There’s no way that we can afford the whole project right now. How should we get started?
Answer: Rather than completely renovating their kitchen, some homeowners, particularly those on tighter budgets, tackle smaller jobs, such as reviving their kitchen cabinets. The renovation of cabinets can include refinishing, repainting, and replacing handles and hinges, among other things; and the entire project often costs only a quarter of the price for a complete renovation. Luis Terry, of Best Kitchen Cabinets in Rockville, Md., provides a number of wood and finishing samples to show to homeowners. When actually performing the project, solid wood can be refinished easily, but doors must be stripped and smoothed by hand in a shop. The cabinet’s frame must also be finished or painted to match the doors. After the project is completed, the homeowner should polish the wood, and they should prevent buildup of grease or food particles on the cabinets. The entire project can take about two weeks, but most of the work will actually be done at a wood shop. When renovated properly, solid wood cabinets can last 30 to 40 years, says Terry. “2008 Information.Inc.
Question: We’re negotiating the sale of our home and are going back and forth with the buyer about paying mortgage points on behalf of the buyer. What do we need to know about paying this fee for the buyer?
Answer: When negotiating a real estate transaction, buyers can request that the seller pay all or some of the mortgage points. Typically equivalent to 1 percent of the total loan amount, points are basically fees charged by the lender. Points must be paid in cash at the time of settlement, and potential homebuyers should be aware that points are directly related to the annual percentage rate. When shopping for a mortgage loan, watch for no-point loans and secure a loan at the lowest interest rate possible. However, keep in mind that buyers can also deduct mortgage points from their tax return, whether the seller has paid for them or not.
Sellers also stand to benefit from covering mortgage points for the buyer since it reduces their capital gain. In other instances, sellers who’ve occupied the home for at least two years may not need to reduce their capital gain, especially if profit from the home sale doesn’t exceed the statutory dollar amounts of $250,000 or $500,000. However, buyers and sellers who plan to deduct mortgage points should be careful to delineate on the settlement sheet, what figures cover points and loan origination fees. These figures must be calculated as a percentage of the stated principal amount of the loan, and the amount of points charged must correspond to similar mortgage loans in the immediate area. Finally, the loan must be secured by the principal residence and points paid directly by the taxpayer. Be sure to consult your own tax consultant to determine how this information applies to your situation. “2008 Information.Inc.
Question: We want to challenge the tax assessment on our home. How can we get some assistance in this?
Answer: Although some real estate industry members attest that local home assessors have become more accurate over the years, homeowners who wish to challenge a tax assessment can do so with the help of a real estate practitioner. First, conduct your own comparative research using the area “comps” listed on the assessment slip. Take note especially if your home features fewer bedrooms or baths than the nearby comps. Request a “comparative market analysis” from a trusted practitioner. This data will balance your home against recent area home sales. A professional appraisal could also be conducted at a cost of between $250 and $275. Recent homebuyers should refer to the sales contract for evidence of the home’s value. Next, request an “informal conference” with the assessor in order to present your findings. If the results of this meeting are unfavorable, file a formal appeal with the Board of Equalization in the timeline specified. Be aware however, that the board may actually raise your assessment. While a lawyer is not needed at this stage in the process, homeowners who choose to challenge the board may require legal counsel. “2008 Information.Inc.
Question: We have an older home and seem to have a lot of surges in power. We have purchased a surge protector for our computer but wonder if we need them for our other more expensive appliances.
Answer: Homeowners possessing numerous expensive appliances such as VCRs and computers should equip their house with a whole-house surge suppressor rather than individual plug-in surge protectors. Power surges can occur very easily, be it from turning on a home appliance or from receiving an energy surge from a nearby source, and these frequent surges can gradually break down a home’s wiring insulation. A whole-house surge suppressor, which several companies will install complete with a $10,000 damage warranty, will offer the best protection for expensive appliances. These suppressors can either be mounted on the circuit break box, mounted under the electric meter, or installed into a snap-in circuit breaker. The level of protection depends on the model, but certain features to look for are the magnitude of the surge that can be dissipated, the speed of reaction, and the amount of voltage that triggers a surge block. Some new suppressors are also designed to protect a home’s phone, cable, and modem lines. “2008 Information.Inc.
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