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Homeowners told to set stage for sale

For some home sellers, a house is a stage, complete with props, a musical score and an audience that aspires to replace the old cast.

These sellers "stage" houses, using furniture, artwork, sounds, smells and objects to engage the emotions of prospective buyers. The theory is that sellers will pay more if they imagine themselves in the house, enjoying delicious food, entertaining delightful friends and snuggling up with upscale magazines on lazy weekend mornings.

Giving gifts can minimize estate taxes

When a gift is to be made for an incapacitated person, the use of a durable power of attorney is the usual device that is relied upon.

One of the most troublesome areas in tax law involves the question of whether a gift that is made by use of a power of attorney will be valid either as a gift to a family member, using the annual exclusion of $11,000 per individual gift recipient or as a deduction for a gift made to a recognized charity.

Banks offer new options for home-equity loans

The line is blurring between the fixed-rate home equity loan and the variable-rate home equity line of credit.

When you borrow against your home's equity, you generally have to choose either the equity loan, which you pay off with equal monthly payments over a specified period, or the equity line of credit, which has a revolving balance like a credit card and minimum monthly payments that cover only the interest.

Selling Your House, Moving, Disasters: What They Mean For Your Taxes

For starters, if you sold your primary house in 2003, you might not have to pay taxes on all or part of the money you make on it. You must have owned the home at least two years and it must have been your main residence for two years.

4 Ways to Boost Your Earning Power

Sometimes you can pull some more money together by getting more serious about setting a budget and adopting austerity measures. But often it boils down to facing the fact that you just need to earn more money.


U.S. Rate Futures Brace for Diet of Fed Hikes

Short-term interest rate futures plunged on Friday after U.S. October jobs growth was far above expectations, raising the potential for a Federal Reserve interest rate increase in December. Futures fully price another quarter percentage point increase to target rates at the Federal Open Market Committee policy-setting meeting on Wednesday. Chances of another increase in December, which have been hovering near 50 percent, jumped to about 80 percent.

Homeownership Helps Consumers Legally Avoid Taxes

Mortgage Interest: Oh yeah -- here's the biggie. Homeowners with a mortgage should have received a Form 1098 from their mortgage service provider. If you have been making payments to an owner financier, then you need to make sure the note holder fills out this form and sends it to you. On my mortgage, this is going to turn into a $13,000-plus deduction right off the top.

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