Business

About Real Estate: Good deals on homes, household items heat up

November almost always ushers in the best deals on major appliances, hand-held electronic gadgets, big-screen TVs — and homes themselves.

DEAR MR. MYERS: I love when you write about the “best buys” for (household) items each month. You have already saved me a lot of money as I continue to furnish my new home! So, what’s going to be on sale in November?

ANSWER: Thanks for your compliment, and also for your question.

First and foremost, there are good deals to be found in the housing market itself. November typically begins the slowest home-sale season of the year, as prospective sellers delay their marketing plans for a few months to instead focus on the holidays, and harsh weather keeps many would-be buyers indoors.

Considering these factors, many of the property owners who decide to put their home up for sale this time of year often do so because they absolutely have to move soon — perhaps because of a job transfer, financial trouble or tax issues. That tends to make them more willing to make concessions to the relatively few buyers who are out there, whether it’s cutting their asking price or making other allowances that can save buyers thousands of dollars.

As a bonus, buyers who jump into the market now can beat the expected interest-rate hike that the rate-setting Federal Reserve Board is expected to initiate within the next month or two.

Experts at Consumer Reports magazine note that November is also perhaps the best month to purchase big-ticket household items, including washers, dryers, refrigerators and stoves. That’s because retailers know that purchases of new appliances typically slow in lockstep with home sales.

Computers and handheld electronic items will be at rock-bottom prices, too, in part because they are popular holiday gifts.

And then there are those big-screen TVs that everyone seems to want. DealNews.com, a bargain-hunting website, expects the biggest discounts on television sets to be found on those with 60-inch or larger LED screens. They used to cost $1,700 or more just a few years ago; expect to pay about $775 or less for a name-brand 60-incher this month, or about $550 for a nearly identical unit that’s often made by the same manufacturer but marketed under different names by different retailers.

Still, don’t whip out your wallet or pull out your purse to buy any of these consumer products just yet. Wait until the infamous “Black Friday,” which kicks off the official holiday-shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, or the Internet-based “Cyber Monday,” which lands just three days later. That’s when many of these great prices — or even better ones — will be offered.

DEAR MR. MYERS: I share an apartment with my brother, who is blind. We applied for a different apartment and were approved. When we started moving in, the apartment manager stopped us because my brother’s guide dog would violate the apartment building’s “no pets” policy. Is that legal?

ANSWER: Probably not. Federal law generally prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent to a blind or otherwise disabled person simply because the prospective tenant would need a guide dog (often referred to as a “service dog” or by other terms) to go about his or her daily life — even if the development has a strict no-pets policy.

Landlords usually can’t charge a special pet deposit for a service dog either, because such awesome animals aren’t really pets. Instead, they’re an integral part of a disabled person’s efforts to live like everyone else.

For more details, call your local fair housing agency, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 or visit www.hud.gov on the Internet and type “service dog” in the search box.

DEAR MR. MYERS: Can I deduct the cost of the premiums I pay for my home’s national flood insurance policy because the policy is backed by the federal government?

ANSWER: Sorry, no. Like payments on a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy, the cost of a federally guaranteed NFIP is not tax-deductible.

The cost, though, usually can be written off as an “operating expense” if you rent the property to someone else.

David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

  Comments