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Text-only newsletter stories for Issue 3 Vl. 6


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Headline: It’s tax time: A guide to DIY

April 18 will be here before you know it, and if you haven’t made a decision on how you’ll prepare your taxes this year, here are a few tips that may push you toward a DIY approach.

Shop around for software
TurboTax (www.turbotax.com) is generally the most popular and trusted tax software option, but you’ll typically have to pay around $60.00 per year. It may me worth your time to shop around for some free options. Many tax prep software applications are free up to a certain income threshold, and your costs will also vary depending on the sources of your income. A person with a single W-2 form will usually pay less than a person with multiple W-2s, 1099s, investment income, and other income sources.

Take advantage of homeownership
If you’re reading this newsletter, there’s a good chance you’re a homeowner. Tax time is one of those events that show the benefits of homeownership, because you can get some major tax deductions. Mortgage interest, property taxes, and some home buying costs are among the deductions you may be eligible for. Your tax preparation software should guide you through these deductions.

DIY is great, but so is a tax professional
DIY tax preparation isn’t for everyone. Though tax software companies offer audit assistance for an extra fee, some people enjoy the peace of mind that comes with meeting a tax professional and being able to ask questions about your taxes in person.

A tax professional is particularly helpful if your taxes recently became more complicated, like if you started a business or completed several real estate transactions.


Headline: Five hidden renovation costs

Renovations never seem to go as planned. There’s always a cost you didn’t anticipate, or a problem that didn’t reveal itself until the project was underway. Here are five common costs to look out for.

 1. Higher utility bills: If contractors and builders are working in your home all day, there’s a good chance they’re constantly walking in and out the exterior doors. That wreaks havoc on your heating/cooling efficiency, so watch out for higher utility bills.

 2. Movers: It’s pretty hard to renovate a fully furnished home. You may be able to move and store most of your furniture yourself, but homeowners often have bigger pieces that require some hired help.

 3. Food: If your kitchen is being torn apart, preparing meals becomes a lot more difficult. You may be able to keep your food budget steady by switching to meals that don’t require counter space, the stove, or the oven, but don’t be surprised if you end up dining out more often.

 4. A few nights in a hotel: Depending on your renovation, there may be some nights where sleeping in your home isn’t practical, or you just need a mental break from the mess. Budget for a few nights at a hotel ... or just schedule your family vacation for the worst part of the renovation.

 5. Deep cleaning: It’s one thing to clean and maintain your home after a typical week or two of living. It’s entirely different to clean up after a construction project, as sawdust and other debris can get in every nook and cranny. It may be worth your sanity to just hire cleaners.


Headline: Reliable tactics for when the appraisal is low

Few things in the home buying process are more frustrating than having your offer accepted, only to have the appraisal fall below your offer. But all is not lost! If the appraisal comes in below your offer, there are several tactics and strategies that can lead to a happy solution.

Get a second opinion: There’s no need to take the appraiser’s estimate as fact. You can pursue a value appeal, or you can discuss a second appraisal with your prospective lender. Sometimes you can even get the seller to pay for the second appraisal, because they will be motivated to complete the sale. Your real estate professional should be able to help you through the process of an appeal or a second opinion.

Renegotiate for a lower price: Unless the market is extremely hot, there’s a good chance the seller can be talked town to the appraised value. Sellers often prefer to complete the deal, rather than putting the property back on the market.

If all else fails, resist the urge to pay more: Sure, paying more in cash to cover the difference between the loan amount and the agreed upon sale price is tempting. Buying a home is an emotional experience, and you may think that this particular home is the only one that you’ll be satisfied with. Take a step back and consider searching for another property.


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