Monday, September 15, 2008

Deadline Newsroom FAQ 91508

When you have questions needing answers that really hit home, contact the Deadline Newsroom. This installment: auction deals; home improvements to add value; analog to digital television signal change.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Q: My real estate agent and real estate attorney both say I stand a good chance in getting a home below market value at an auction. Is that possible?

A: Yes, but probably not for the reason you may think.

Many homes wind up on the auction block because the home is in or headed for foreclosure or because conventional selling methods have failed. That can be enough motivation for the seller to offer a bargain. On the other hand, the seller may be using the auction process to generate a bidding war that will boost the price.

If you do your market research, you'll know ahead of time what's market value and what isn't. Research is your ace in the hole. And, with two professionals on your side, instead of just one, it appears as if you also have a wild card. Auctions aren't for novices.

If both are professionally competent and auction experienced, they'll help you scrutinize the deal, call in a home inspector to check the property's condition, explain your financing options, go over closing information and explain the terms of the auction.

If your professional team also joins you attending property previews, if they coach you at study auctions before you are ready to participate, if they act with auction acumen, their professional skill improves your chances for an auction victory.

Q: I'm considering a home improvement to raise the value of my home before I sell it. Which one will boost my sale price most?

A: Leave major improvements to the new owner's tastes and concentrate on curb appeal, landscaping, staging and interior work to transform your home into a model home instead of a palace. Also, your home improvement could alienate buyers who don't have the same tastes.

Cost-vs-value studies do say you can improve the value of your home with certain home improvements, but the findings are based not only on the improvement you choose, but also local market conditions, the condition of similar homes in your neighborhood, and, perhaps most importantly, holding onto your home for a while after the work has been done. The improvement must have time to season and bring your home's appraisal on or above par with other similar homes on the market.

Q: When television broadcast signals switch from analog to digital, will I have to buy a new high definition digital television (HDTV)?

A: Not because of the switch. Here's the scoop.

Beginning Feb. 18, 2009, all analog TV signals complete the switch to digital TV (DTV) signals. Congress ordered the transition to digital broadcasting to make more efficient use of the publicly owned airwaves.

The transition does not require you to buy an HDTV, unless you want to take advantage of a high definition video image provided by many broadcasters. You can watch HDTV programming with a digital TV, with digital cable or satellite service or with a digital converter, you just won't get the full HDTV image quality.

The transition requirement is only from analog to digital (not HD digital). The transition only requires that your TV has a digital tuner or that your satellite or cable service provides digital tuning (which, they do now) or that you get a converter for old-fashioned, over-the-air (roof top antennae or "rabbit ears") digital reception for your analog TV.

You will not need a converter if you own a digital TV, even if you get over-the-air antennae signals. The digital TV converts the signal with its built-in digital tuner.

You will not need the converter if you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, even if you have an analog TV. Your service converts the signal for you.

For digital converter coupons worth $40 toward the $50 to $70 cost of a converter, call 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009). Visit the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Trade Commission's "Countdown To DTV Transition" for more information.

Got questions? Send them to We'll do our best to get you the most relevant answer.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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