Are there any tips on how to get ready to move?

 Before you begin planning your move:

  • Buy a small notebook. The notebook should fit in a pocket or purse and clip a pen to it. Keep the notebook with you at all times before your move, and put all your moving notes, dates, etc. in that one notebook. Every day, start a new page and write down everything you need to do as you think of it. At the end of the day, go over your notes and organize what needs to be done. Make a "To Do" list for the next day.
  • Get a cardboard accordion file. Keep the file in a prominent place at home. Don't move it until you're ready to go out the door on moving day. Keep all your important papers that have to do with the move in this file.
  • Get a sturdy cardboard box with a cover. Label the box "Important," and keep it close to you as you sort and pack. As you come to things you don't have time to figure out where they belong - notes from friends, stray pictures, pieces of toys, etc. - throw them into the box to sort through after you move.

What is a contingency?

 A contingency is a condition on the sale put into the contract by either the buyer or seller to protect against specific eventualities. Examples of common contingencies are: a requirement that the buyer obtain financing or sell the current home; the seller has a home inspection done; or the seller must repair certain items before settlement. Contingencies can be removed by an addendum to the contract, or they can expire if a time limit is specified in the contract.

Do you have more questions? Are there other terms you don’t understand? Click on “Ask Your Own Questions.”

What is earnest money?

 Earnest money is a cash deposit buyers make when they sign a contract to buy a home. It makes the contract binding and signifies the intention of the buyer to complete the purchase. At closing, the earnest money becomes part of the down payment. If the buyer defaults without a good reason, as spelled out in the contract, the earnest money becomes payment for damages suffered by sellers and their agents.

The earnest deposit could be several hundred or even several thousand dollars, but usually no more than 5% of the purchase price. If the buyer’s contract is not accepted by the seller, the money is returned to the buyer.

Which settlement expenses can buyers deduct on their taxes?

 Some of the biggest costs at settlement are tax deductible in the year the home was bought. The loan fee or points, even if paid by the seller, as well as the pro-rated mortgage interest and property taxes, are tax deductions.

  • Increase your basis Most of the rest of the closing costs are not deductible, but can be added to the home's purchase price to increase the basis of the property. These costs include attorney and recording fees, transfer taxes and termite inspection. The homeowner's property insurance is a personal expense, so it's not tax deductible and cannot be added to the basis of the home.

How do you buy a home at auction?

 Buying a home at a real estate auction can be tricky at best, even for the experts. It’s all too easy for the unwary buyer to get caught up in the thrill of bidding and wind up owning a costly mistake.

  • Get pricing help Your best bet is to ask a knowledgeable real estate agent to assist you in arriving at an appropriate purchase amount. A savvy bidder needs to know comparable home prices; we can provide you with a range of prices for similar properties.
  • Review property package before bidding Review the bidder's package with the agent's help. The package should include a copy of the title search, tax information, a current appraisal, special fees and the auction rules.
  • Arrange financing in advance Make sure you've arranged financing before the auction.
  • Keep your head Most of all, remember to buy sensibly; don't let the excitement of the auction cause you to pay more than the home is worth. After all, not every home sold at auction is a bargain.

Click on “Ask Your Own Questions.” We will be happy to help you assess your own home-buying situation.

What relocation solutions do you suggest for single parents?

  • Problem: Single parents typically have no one to help with calling movers, arranging utilities at the destination city, packing, etc.
  • Solution: Arrange for extra time off to handle the move. Enlist the help of family and friends.
  • Problem: Replacing the quality and price of current daycare arrangements in the destination city can be difficult.
  • Solution: Ask if your employer will subsidize costs if they are higher. Also ask for a list of certified daycare centers in the new area.
  • Problem: In some states custodial parents can be charged with kidnapping if the child is removed from the state.
  • Solution: Get legal counsel on custody laws in the states involved, as well as discuss ways to obtain proper authorization.
  • Problem: Many single transferees have never moved before and lack of knowledge about the process may produce stress.
  • Solution: Get careful explanations of all company relocation policies and procedures. Don't be afraid to go back with more questions.