20 used cars you can buy with the average tax refund

Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 @ 1:04 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 @ 1:04 PM

DOUG DEMURO has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

Tax season is here, and for many Americans, that means tax refund season is here, too. According to the IRS, this year's average tax refund was an impressive $3,120 as of late February. By early April, CNN Money had the number at just over $2,800 and the average return for last year was a little over $3,100.

Either way, it's no small figure. And that got us thinking: What used cars can you buy with the average tax refund? Our crack analytics team went to work and answered this question for us, delivering a list of the 20 cars on Autotrader with the most listings for around $3,000 or less. We're passing that list along to you now to help make your search a little easier if you've decided to spend this year's tax refund on a car.

Depending on your individual situation, you may have to kick in a few hundred dollars, but you'll still be able to get a running car in decent condition.

1. Ford Taurus

With nearly 900 different Taurus models listed for $3,100 or less, Ford's longtime midsize sedan is lonely at the top of our list. Very lonely, in fact: The number two model is nearly 350 listings behind the Taurus's impressive count. What kind of Taurus can you get for around $3,000? Expect it to be an early- to mid-2000s model with 100,000 to 150,000 total miles. Of course, you'll also get the Taurus model's durable design, roomy interior, cavernous trunk and standard V6 power. Look hard and you might even be able to find a Taurus wagon, which combines SUV-like cargo capacity with a carlike driving experience.

Find a Ford Taurus for sale

2. Ford Explorer

There are more than 500 different Ford Explorer models listed for $3,100 or less, making it the second most plentiful car on our list. How much Explorer can you buy for $3,000? Well, you won't get the latest model, that's for sure, and you won't get the previous-generation version, either. Instead, expect a well-equipped 1995-2001 Explorer or a base-level 2002-2007 model, either with well over 125,000 miles on the odometer. You'll also be able to choose between rear- or 4-wheel drive, V6 or V8 power, and 2- or 4-door body styles.

Find a Ford Explorer for sale

3. Honda Accord

The Honda Accord can be considered reliable, simple family transportation, a great first car or just an excellent commuter vehicle with a fuel-efficient powertrain. And with more than 500 different examples available on Autotrader for $3,100 or less, it's also a great way to spend your tax refund money. Of course, you shouldn't expect a perfect car: Many Accord models for around $3,000 have more than 200,000 miles on the odometer, along with fading paint (which can be typical depending the era) and the occasional mismatched wheel or missing hubcap. But parts for these cars are plentiful, and many used Accords will run for years to come with only regular maintenance and the occasional timing belt service. In the end, that makes the Accord a great choice for shoppers who want a good, inexpensive used car. If it were our personal choice, we might look for a good Accord Coupe with a manual transmission.

Find a Honda Accord for sale

4. Ford F-150

Yes, the $3,000 pickup truck exists. In fact, you can get more than 450 of them right now on Autotrader for the amount of the average tax refund or less, which is great news for drivers who want a practical work vehicle without spending a fortune. The only catch? Used F-150 models in the $3,000-or-less price range often have well over 180,000 miles on the odometer, and they don't come equipped with many creature comforts. Take a long test drive to make sure such a pickup is right for you, and be sure to get a thorough mechanical inspection to ensure that the truck is still mechanically sound under the hood.

Find a Ford F-150 for sale

5. Honda Civic

Few compact cars have the Honda Civic's reputation for reliability and long-lasting durability, provided, of course, that it's had regular maintenance, such as oil changes, brakes and timing belts. If you're looking for a compact car for around $3,000 or less, you should check out the Civic, and don't be put off by high mileage figures (expect 150,000 miles and up) or noticeable cosmetic blemishes. Instead, take a thorough test drive and, if you're worried about anything, get a mechanical inspection. Then expect to stay behind the wheel of your Civic for years to come.

Find a Honda Civic for sale

6. Chevrolet Cavalier

The Chevrolet Cavalier is a compact car that came before more modern small Chevys such as the CobaltCruzeSpark and Sonic. With more than 440 different Cavalier models currently available on Autotrader for around $3,000 or less, there are a lot of different examples to choose from. If you're intrigued, you can decide between coupe, sedan or even convertible models (assuming you can find one). Expect a sub-$3,000 Cavalier to be any age, made through 2005, with at least 120,000 miles on the odometer.

Find a Chevrolet Cavalier for sale

7. Saturn S-Series

General Motors designed the compact Saturn S-Series to rival Honda, Toyota and other foreign brands. Originally on sale in the early 1990s, the S-Series got better as it aged, so we suggest checking out later models. Plus, that's where you'll find the bulk of the 420 different S-Series listings for $3,000 or less. Interested shoppers will find a fuel-efficient 4-cyinder engine and a choice between coupe, sedan or practical wagon body styles. Just be sure to get a mechanical inspection and to check for rust before signing the papers.

Find a Saturn S-Series for sale

8. Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular vehicles on the market, so it makes sense that it would turn up on our list of the most popular cars you can buy in the neighborhood of $3,000. Offered over the years in 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe or 5-door wagon body styles, the Camry provides reliable, fuel-efficient transportation and a roomy interior. If you're looking to spend around $3,000 or less, expect to find Camry models from the mid- to late-1990s with around 200,000 miles on the odometer. That may be a big number, but it's far from the end of a well-maintained Camry's life.

Find a Toyota Camry for sale

9. Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is one of the most popular compact cars on the market. It's also one of the most popular choices on our list of used cars you can buy with the average tax refund, since there are more than 400 different Focus models to choose from within our price limit. What should you expect from a Focus in this price range? You'll be able to choose from sedan, wagon and hatchback (3-door or 5-door) body styles, along with manual or automatic transmissions. Mileage will likely be well over 125,000, so you may want to get your Focus checked out by a mechanic before you sign the papers.

Find a Ford Focus for sale

10. Pontiac Grand Am

With nearly 400 different examples currently on Autotrader, the Pontiac Grand Am rounds out the top ten most popular cars available today for about the same amount as the average tax refund. While the Grand Am is hardly known for standout styling or a cavernous interior, it does offer some benefits, including fewer average miles than many cars on our list, with typical figures in the 100,000- to 150,000-mile range. Used Grand Am models available for around $3,000 or less are also a little newer than most cars on this list, with most examples hailing from the early 2000s.

Find a Pontiac Grand Am for sale

11. Dodge Grand Caravan

If you need to transport your whole family for around $3,000 or less, few cars on our list do it better than the Dodge Grand Caravan. Featuring standard 3-row seating and (for most models made after 1996) dual sliding doors, the Grand Caravan offers the last word in family-toting practicality. Best of all, you should have no trouble finding one within our budget; there are currently more than 370 examples on Autotrader, many of which are early-2000s models with around 150,000 miles on the odometer.

Find a Dodge Grand Caravan for sale

12. Chevrolet Malibu

The Chevrolet Malibu offers solid, durable construction, a roomy interior and surprisingly powerful engines. Styling is bland and there aren't many advanced features, but the Malibu is an excellent point-A to point-B car, especially if your budget is around $3,000 or less. And you should have no trouble finding a used Malibu in that price range, since there are currently more than 350 examples on Autotrader, most of which are early-2000s models with around 150,000 miles on the odometer.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu for sale

13. Ford Windstar

If you're looking for family transport on a budget, few vehicles deliver like the Ford Windstar. We especially like Windstar models made from 1999 and up, since they feature standard dual sliding doors, a big step up from the driver's side-only sliding door of earlier models. We also like the standard V6 and the later models' larger design, which offers more passenger and cargo room than its predecessors. And we like the price; there are more than 340 Windstar models available for around $3,000 or less. If you're looking for a Windstar in that price range, expect it to have around 125,000 miles on the odometer, and be sure to take your kids along for the test drive to ensure your whole family is comfortable inside.

Find a Ford Windstar for sale

14. Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the few SUVs on our list, but it's still a good choice for shoppers on a budget. The Grand Cherokee combines off-road prowess with handsome styling, strong engines and a large, practical design. With a budget of $3,000 or less, expect to find a mid- to late-1990s Grand Cherokee with around 150,000 miles on the odometer. And be sure to get a thorough mechanical inspection before signing the papers, because some models may suffer from transmission failure or other potentially expensive issues.

Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale

15. Chrysler Sebring

The Chrysler Sebring is a popular midsize car offered in sedan, coupe or convertible body styles. We like the convertible in particular, because it seats four people, offers many creature comforts and touts several adequate engine offerings. But we especially like the convertible because there are more than 150 different examples available for around $3,100 or less on Autotrader, making it one of the least expensive popular convertibles on the market. If the Sebring convertible sounds appealing, expect our budget to yield a late-1990s or early-2000s example with around 100,000 or 125,000 miles.

Find a Chrysler Sebring for sale

16. Chevrolet Impala

The Chevrolet Impala is a popular full-size sedan that offers a comfortable ride, a relaxed driving experience and standard V6 power. Its design might not set the world on fire, and neither will its powertrain. But armed with the average tax refund, you should have no trouble finding an early-2000s Impala with 125,000 to 150,000 miles on the odometer, especially since there are more than 300 different Impala models within our price range on Autotrader. One tip: Look for 2000 and up Impalas rather than earlier models, which offer poor fuel economy and dismal repair records.

Find a Chevrolet Impala for sale

17. Chevrolet Blazer

The Chevy Blazer was a popular midsize SUV for years, and its long-term popularity helps explain why there are currently nearly 300 different examples on Autotrader for around $3,100 or less. Available in 2- or 4-door and 2- or 4-wheel drive, the Blazers you'll find in our price range will be late-1990s models with around 200,000 miles on the odometer. Given their age and mileage, be sure to get a mechanical inspection before signing the papers. You'll also want to ensure that the Blazer can fit your whole family, plus accessories, since its smaller size is more similar to one of today's compact crossovers than to a midsize SUV.

Find a Chevrolet Blazer for sale

18. Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevy Silverado is a full-size pickup that constantly battles it out with the Ford F-150 for the title of America's most popular pickup. Officially called Silverado since 1999 and C1500 or K1500 (for 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, respectively) before that, the full-size Chevy should be easy to find for about $3,000, especially since there are nearly 200 different models currently listed on Autotrader. Just be sure to narrow your search to the model you want, since the Silverado offers a wide selection of cab lengths, bed sizes, drivetrains and engine configurations.

Find a Chevrolet Silverado for sale

19. Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is a compact pickup with frugal 4-cylinder or muscular V6 power. Sold in its most recent design from 1993 to 2011, the latest Ranger went its entire life with only one substantial update: a big face-lift in 1998. Otherwise, just about every Ranger is mostly the same: a simple, honest, durable pickup, offered in 2- or 4-wheel drive, with as much capability as most truck shoppers will ever need. For your three grand or less, expect to find well-worn examples, with 200,000 miles or more, from the mid- to late-1990s with few frills and almost no modern gadgets.

Find a Ford Ranger for sale

20. Pontiac Grand Prix

The Pontiac Grand Prix is a full-size sedan with standard V6 power, eye-catching styling and a roomy interior. Although a $3,100 budget will eliminate most 2003-2008 models, the 1997-2002 Grand Prix is still an excellent car, especially in high-performance supercharged GTP form. Plus, you can choose from practical sedan or handsome coupe body styles. And you should have no trouble finding a used Grand Prix on Autotrader; there are more than 270 different 1997-2002 models currently listed within our average-tax-rebate price range.

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6 tax breaks for pet owners you can actually get

Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 @ 3:47 PM

Pets Affected By Puerto Rico Hurricane Looking For New Homes

You love your pet. He’s like your child after all. But the IRS doesn’t quite see it that way. The IRS takes the position that the money you spend on Fido or Fluffy is generally a personal expense. Your pet gives you pleasure like that latte you bought on your way to work this morning. But just like your cup of coffee isn’t tax deductible, neither is your pet.

There are a few loopholes, however. You might be able to deduct costs related to your pet if he serves another purpose in addition to accepting your undying devotion — and if you can prove it.

1. Guard Dogs

Generally, it’s difficult to claim your pet as a business expense. But if your pet guards your business location, you might be able to deduct the costs of keeping him fed and healthy.

“The IRS has taken a fairly hard-nosed stance when it comes to deducting the cost of animals as business expenses — and the courts have agreed with them,” said Micah Fraim, a CPA in Roanoke, Va., and author of “The Little Big Small Business Book.” “But one area that has been consistently upheld is when you own a guard dog. In fact, in Raleigh Cox and Brenda J. Cox v. Commissioner, the IRS didn’t even attempt to disallow deductions for a guard dog. The business was in a bad part of town, and the IRS felt that it was a legitimate expense.”

>> New petition aims to expand food stamps to include pet food

How to Get the Deduction

You might have a hard time convincing the IRS that your Yorkie or teacup Chihuahua serves in this capacity. “Size and breed do matter here,” said Fraim. “A mastiff, pit bull or other large breed would be believable. A Maltese or Chihuahua would not.”

Kristina Grasso, master tax advisor with H&R Block, said you might be able to deduct guard dog-related expenses — dog food, training and veterinary bills — on Schedule C if he guards your work premise. So, make sure you “keep records about the dog’s hours and work-related purpose,” she said.

2. Cats Used for Pest Control

You might also be able to deduct costs associated with your kitty who keeps your business property free of mice, rats and other vermin. “Cats or other animals that are kept primarily for pest control are also deductible,” said Fraim.

Fraim noted that in Samuel T. Seawright, et ux. v. Commissioner, the petitioners were entitled to a $300 business expense deduction for cat food. “The couple owned a junkyard and put the food out to attract feral cats,” he said. “The court upheld the deduction as cats were there ‘to deter snakes and rats.’”

Chose wisely when picking which type of cat prowls your business — these are the most and least expensive cat breeds in the world.

How to Get the Deduction

Remember that if you’re trying to claim your working pets to deduct business expenses, you’ll likely have to convince the IRS that keeping the animal is “ordinary and necessary.” In other words, “hiring” a cat or dog must be “common and accepted in your trade or business.” And, it must be “helpful and appropriate.”

3. Offsetting Hobby Income

If you make money showing your pet — which the IRS might consider hobby income — you might be able to claim a tax break for related expenses.

“Pets used in hobbies, such as show dogs, might be deductible,” said Grasso. “If the dog wins prize money in the endeavor, then the expenses incurred to train, show, etc., are deductible up to the winnings.”

You can expect to receive a 1099 at the end of the year if you earn hobby income.

“You can also deduct related expenses up to the amount of income earned on Schedule A of the 1040,” said Fraim.

>> Southwest fills plane with pets, flies abandoned animals from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

How to Get the Deduction

But the process to deduct these expenses can get tricky. “You must itemize to take the deduction at all, which many taxpayers do not,” said Fraim. And, some restrictions apply that might not result in substantial tax savings.

“These deductions are subject to a threshold of 2 percent of your adjusted gross income or AGI,” said Fraim. “For easy math, let’s say you made $1,000 from pet shows, had $3,000 in expenses and your AGI is $100,000 … You can deduct $1,000 of expenses — not the full $3,000 — because you’re only allowed to take a deduction up to the amount of income earned. But even then, you don’t actually get any tax break.”

That $1,000 is less than 2 percent of your AGI, so you actually lose $2,000 from the pet shows — and you still have to pay taxes on the $1,000 in income you earned.

“Two percent of a lower AGI is an easier threshold to execute,” said Grasso. So, the lower your AGI, the more likely it becomes that this tax deduction for hobby-related expenses will result in more tax savings.

4. Foster Pet Parent Deductions

If you foster animals, you might be able to take advantage of tax benefits for charitable contributions.

“Any expenses you incur caring for foster animals from a qualified nonprofit are deductible on Schedule A as charitable donations,” said Fraim. These must be unreimbursed expenses if you want to get the deduction, though, Grasso added.

And, the expenses should go toward caring for these animals, such as pet food, supplies and veterinary bills. “Thankfully, most of these organizations provide the medical care and food for these animals,” said Fraim. “But any expenses paid out of pocket that are necessary for their care that are not provided for or reimbursed are deductible.”

What about if you volunteer at a shelter or rescue organization? “Keep track of mileage for trips made to further the organization’s work because this is deductible at 14 cents per mile,” said Grasso.

How to Get the Deduction

When it comes to fostering animals from municipal shelters, both Fraim and Grasso said to be careful. According to Fraim, most are not 501(c)(3)s and do not qualify for these types of tax deductions — unless they’re somehow tied to a charity.

“Some private agencies take on responsibility for animal control (law enforcement) functions or handle sheltering for a municipal animal control department by contracting with one or more municipalities,” said Grasso. “Thus, if the private agency is set up as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the volunteers should qualify for any applicable deductions.”

Still, “people should foster animals because it increases the animal’s chances of being placed in permanent, forever homes and the animals get needed socialization — not because it potentially gets them a tax deduction,” she added.

>> Veterinarians warn pet owners of dog flu

5. Guide Dogs and Service Animals

Medical expenses are tax deductible if you itemize. Let’s say your pet helps you in a health-related capacity — if so, you’ll likely get a tax break.

You can also include the costs of purchasing and training guide dogs for the blind or hearing impaired. This also includes veterinary, food and grooming expenses. Pets are also used in therapy, such as in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. These animals are covered as well, said Fraim and Grasso.

How to Get the Deduction

“Make sure to get a prescription from your doctor — or some other documentation that shows your medical necessity — prior to obtaining any pet that you claim,” said Grasso. Otherwise, “the IRS may conclude that your pet does not meet the requirements to deduct these pet expenses. Keep any documentation that shows how the animal was specially trained to help you with your medical condition, too.”

Also, the IRS doesn’t consider Fido to be a therapy dog unless he’s been trained and certified. “The animal must be trained or certified as treatment for a diagnosed illness or condition for the IRS to approve the deduction,” said Grasso.

You don’t actually have to use the dog yourself to get a deduction, though. If you raise dogs for a charitable organization such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, costs associated with providing for them qualify as a charitable deduction as well.

Taking advantage of these types of medical and charitable deductions related to animals can help you save a lot of money on your taxes this year.

6. Moving Expenses

The IRS won’t let you claim your pet as a dependent — but it’s not so heartless as to make you leave him behind if you’re forced to move due to work.

You can deduct costs associated with transferring your pet to your new home. But there are some requirements you have to follow, according to the IRS.

How to Get the Deduction

– Your move must be closely related to the start of your work

– You have to pass the distance test

– You have to pass the time test

For example, your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old workplace was. So, if your old workplace was only 10 miles away from your old home, your new workplace must be at least 60 miles from your old home. And if you’re an employee, you must work full time for 39 weeks or more during the first year after you relocate.

Once you satisfy the IRS requirements, you can deduct the cost of shipping your household pets to your new home, along with other move-related expenses.

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Moldy comforter among latest product recalls

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:32 PM

Moldy comforter among latest product recalls

The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 


The Hudson comforters by UGG under recall were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and may contain mold which could pose a risk of infection or respiratory issues in people with a mold allergy or compromised immune system. 

The comforters come in four colors: garnet, navy, grey and oatmeal. They were sold between August 2017 and October 2017. 

No injuries have been reported. 

If you have one don't use it and return it to the store for a full refund. Call Bed Bath & Beyond at 800-462-3966 for more information. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Multipro Baby Cradle N Swing bassinet sold on Amazon.com poses a fall and entrapment hazard for babies. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports the bassinets fail to meet mandatory federal safety standards. 

It is recommended that you take the bassinet apart and throw it away. No injuries have been reported. 

Amazon has contacted purchasers and issued full refund gift cards. 

If you have one of these products and did not yet receive a refund contact Amazon at 888-280-4331. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Two Coldwater Creek snow globe models pose a fire hazard. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports light refraction through the globes may melt or singe things placed near them. 

Once incident of damage has been reported. 

The Reindeer snow globe has the model number XC7484. 

The Vintage charm snow globe contains a silver snowman and has the model number 3WGL120. 

They were sold in Coldwater Creek stores and online. 

Stop using the snow globes and contact Coldwater Creek at 888-678 5576 to return the product for a full refund. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fujifilm is recalling some digital camera power adapters because they could shock you. 

The adapter plug can break or crack exposing live electrical contacts, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

The AC-5VF power adaptors were sold with six Fujifilm digital camera models in stores and online. 

Don't use the adapter and contact Fujifilm at 833-613-1200 for a free replacement. 

No injuries have been reported. 

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Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:52 PM

Here are some tips from experts Only sell valuable stuff Understand the fees Avoid the scams Optimize your title Take great photos Don't try to profit from shipping charges

Too much clutter, too little money, too many gifts you didn't like... an eBay auction is one of the simplest solutions to all three issues.

If your trash might be someone else's treasure, an eBay business is simple to start and accessible to just about anyone. "It has low start-up costs and it can be started out of your home," noted the New Life Auctions blog, written by sellers who have been active since 2000. "You can work at your own pace and on your own time."

»RELATED: 5 side hustles you can do from the comfort of your home

Within that flexible framework, though, are certain strategies for making far more money and clearing out a lot more junk as an eBay seller.


»Here are 10 tips from NLA and other experts: 

Only sell valuable stuff

Yes, you're trying to profit by selling stuff you don't want, but you want to make sure there are some potential buyers who will disagree with you. Start by perusing eBay's own list of what's selling well.

Understand the fees

While it's easy to enter the world of eBay sellers, sales involve fees and you'd do well to balance them against earnings, according to NLA, which offers an eBay fee calculator that allows you to compare which listing formats and categories have the lowest fees, and how much each listing upgrade will deduct from your bottom line.

Avoid the scams

You might be surprised to learn that plenty of the scams that surround eBay sales affect sellers. "Many of the scams take advantage of sellers not knowing all the rules for safe trading on eBay," NLA said. "It is very important for a seller to completely understand PayPal's seller protection program." One scam involves a buyer using PayPal, waiting for the item to be delivered and then opening a dispute with PayPal if you didn't check "delivery confirmation."

If you don't use PayPal's "signature confirmation" option to sell higher-priced goods on eBay, a scammer might open a dispute with PayPal claiming the item wasn't received. "Unable to show proof of delivery, PayPal takes the funds out of the seller's account and returns it to the scammer," NLA noted. The blog outlines other potential scams and ways to avoid them, including credit card chargeback, fake money order and "you have been chosen to sell our products" scams.

Optimize your title

Your title, not the item description, drives search results. Include critical keywords, using a search of keywords for similar completed listings to guide you. Try to include the same keywords as the listings that sold for the highest price. Avoid words like "look" or "incredible" in your title, advised NLA, since no one uses those words to search. If you have a few words leftover in your title, consider adding a common misspelling of the primary keyword to catch the eye both of bad spellers and bargain hunters who search using commonly misspelled listings

Emma Drew, who blogs about money on EmmaDrew.info, said you should include terms you would use when searching for something on eBay. (Be sure to check out her "10 weird things that actually sold on eBay" post each month.)

Spell it right

Most people can't find listings with the primary keyword spelled wrong. That means fewer bidders. 

Take great photos

A picture may not be worth the proverbial thousand words on eBay, but it's pretty close. eBay itself recommends these tactics in its section on taking great pictures:

  • Use a plain, uncluttered backdrop to draw attention to your item.
  • Turn off the flash, instead using diffused lighting to prevent shadows and reflections.
  • Use a tripod to prevent softness and blur.
  • Fill the frame with the item.
  • Capture all angles, details and blemishes.
  • Show the scale.
  • Don't use props.
  • For fashion items, use a model, dress form or mannequin so buyers can see fit.
  • Shoot shoes from different angles so buyers can see the front, top, sides and bottom.

List on Thursday nights

It is common knowledge that eBay auctions ending on Sunday evening are the most profitable and popular, noted Drew, and listing for 10 days on a Thursday gives you two Sunday nights. 

Allow international buyers

"Every bid counts, even if it comes from the other side of the world," according to NLA. "Odds are they won't win the auction, so why not let them bid?" If an international buyer does win your auction, you are able to charge a separate handling fee to compensate for your time filling out the customs form. You'll also want to make it a policy to insure all international packages.

Don't try to profit from shipping charges

If your shipping rates are unreasonable, most buyers will be on to you in a flash, according to NLA. "People know that they are being ripped off and they will leave your auction and not return. Charge a reasonable handling fee." 

Resist the urge to end an auction early

If someone e-mails you with an offer that requires you to end your auction early, don't take it, NLA urged. Even the best early offers are usually just a fraction of what your item is really worth.


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6 common first-time homebuyer mistakes that could cost you big time

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

Be sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes that first-time home buyers often make Not getting a professional inspection Not putting a pause button on purchases Not keeping up with correspondence Not understanding the hidden costs of buying a home Not working with a buyer's agent Not looking into loan assistance programs

Buying a home can be a daunting task − whether it is your first or fifth time heading to the closing table. 

For most of us, it will be the largest investment of our lives. However, there are factors predicted for the upcoming year that will make purchasing a home even more stressful. 

»RELATED: House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loan

According to Redfin's 2018 projections, inventory will remain low, especially for smaller starter-homes. Additionally, thirty-year mortgage rates are expected to rise between 4.3 and 4.5 percent. Changes to the capital gains tax may also persuade many current homeowners not to sell, putting even more strain on the inventory list. However, there are still deals to be found and your dream home may very well still be out there waiting on you. 

When you find it, be sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes that first-time homebuyers often make:

Not getting a professional inspection

The idea of paying for a home inspection for a property that you might not even buy seems like a silly concept to some, but it can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. The median cost of a home inspection is $350-$600 for an average or larger sized house, according to HomeInspector.org. Compared to potential issues with the foundation, electrical system or plumbing, however, it's a small price to pay.

Not putting a pause button on purchases

Buying your first house can be an exciting process and many new buyers get the urge to buy furniture and other home essentials before their closing date. While it's understandable to want to get a head start, it is very important that you not do this. According to Kayla Sweeny, a mortgage loan originator with Southeast Mortgage, a very common mistake is "buying things on credit during the mortgage process. The credit report has to be updated to add the new debt. Debt-to-Income ratios have to be recalculated and the file has to be reviewed again. This could potentially kill a deal."

Not keeping up with correspondence

Sweeny also noted that many first time buyers fail to check their mail, e-mail or messages regularly. "There could be critical loan documentation that a mortgage loan originator or processor has sent the borrower. The entire process is time sensitive. A sense of urgency is a must." This also applies to correspondence from your real estate agent, appraiser and inspector.

(For the AJC)

Not understanding the hidden costs of buying a home

Everyone knows that you'll likely require a mortgage to purchase a home. Unfortunately, many people fail to factor in the other costs associated with purchase - appraisals, earnest money, inspection costs, taxes, HOA dues, utilities and so on. Rafael Castellanos, president of Expert Title Insurance, told Bankrate.com, "They have an idea of what their mortgage payment is going to be, but they don't realize there's much more to it."

Not working with a buyer's agent

Some first-time buyers believe that they don't need or can't afford a buyer's agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Home purchasing contracts can be long and confusing, filled with legalese that often baffle the layman. Eddie Hudson, owner of The Smyrna Team at Keller Williams, explains that "this means you have no representation, and working with a buyer's agent is free of charge as the seller is paying the commission."

Not looking into loan assistance programs

There are lots of loan programs out there for first-time buyers, from federal down to local levels. Many people don't know to look for them, though. Veterans should absolutely look at the VA program, while everyone else should look at the HUD website to see if any loan or grant programs apply to them. Some municipalities have programs to develop certain areas. The assistance offered can range from help with down payments and closing costs to discounted properties in certain areas.


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