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Here’s how remodelers can save some money

Stoves, refrigerators and other big-ticket items are typically discounted in autumn, so smart homeowners can save money by postponing their kitchen-remodeling plans for two or three more months.

DEAR MR. MYERS: We’d like to remodel our kitchen. Is July a good time to buy new appliances?

ANSWER: Usually not. The best deals on appliances tend to arrive in the fall, when retailers become anxious to move this year’s models out in order to make room for the new ones.

As a bonus, if you can delay your remodeling plans until September or October, you may save even more money, because many professional contractors cut their rates as the housing market enters what is typically the slowest time of the year.

Bargains on patio furniture and related items should begin to appear toward the end of this month. But the best deals on barbecue sets probably won’t arrive until late August or September, as the summer BBQ season winds to a close and retailers clear floor space for autumn-related items.

Prices are already beginning to drop for most types of furniture. That’s because stores want to make room for the early-2017 models, which most begin “showcasing” in September or October. Better deals, though, should come in August.

REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Homeowners pay an average of $20,301 to remodel their kitchen, home-improvement site HomeAdvisor.com reports. Resurfacing or replacing cabinets eats up about 29 percent of the budget, the largest slice of a remodeler’s financial pie.

DEAR MR. MYERS: We made a $5,000 down payment to buy our first house, plus another $600 or so for an appraisal and other fees. Our loan application was denied by the bank. The sellers were OK with that and returned our deposit, but we lost $600 in fees for a purchase that, obviously, did not get completed. Can we deduct the $600 on our next tax return?

ANSWER: Sorry, but no. A representative for the Internal Revenue Service says that the $600 you paid could be deducted as a “business expense” if you were an investor and planned to rent the property to a tenant. But because the house was intended to be your own home, you don’t qualify for the same tax breaks that an investor would receive.

That may seem unfair, but that’s the way IRS rules work.

DEAR MR. MYERS: Many of the for-sale advertisements for homes I see in the newspaper state that the property has a “wbf.” What’s that? Also, what is an “FDR”?

ANSWER: A home that’s advertised with the term “wbf” means that the property has a wood-burning fireplace. An “FDR” means it has a formal dining room, rather than a more casual dining area that’s part of the kitchen or living room.

DEAR MR. MYERS: My husband and I are considering the purchase of a vacation home. We checked with the bank that holds the mortgage on our house and with several other local lenders, but they all charge higher rates on loans for vacation properties than they do for homes that are occupied year-round. Is this common?

ANSWER: Yes. Many lenders charge higher rates on loans to buy vacation properties, in part because they’re leery that the borrower eventually might run into financial problems and become unable to handle the extra debt. Some lenders also figure that, since the vacation home will not be occupied full-time, the property won’t be maintained very well and could be more susceptible to vandals.

Charging a higher rate on loans for vacation properties helps to compensate lenders for these added risks.

Although you have already contacted several lenders in your hometown, you might be able to get a better financing package through a mortgage broker or lending institution that specializes in making loans in the area where the vacation home is located. They probably know the market better and are more comfortable financing second-home purchases, which means they might charge a lower rate than the lenders in your current neighborhood.

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

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