Your Home and Car Savings Questions Answered

Every few weeks I answer readers' questions here in my column. This week, I have the pleasure -- and the pain! -- of responding to questions about my new book, "SAVE BIG: Cut Your Top 5 Costs and Save Thousands." I mention the pain because, my goodness, the blogosphere is a harsh environment! Whew! For every glowing compliment there was a scathing criticism. But that's OK. It keeps me in touch with you and your concerns. Some of you asked for more information. Some disputed my advice. And others misinterpreted it. It all makes for a chaotic dialogue about saving money that we can all learn from. This week I'll respond to your questions and comments about houses and cars, our top two costs. Next week, I'll tackle credit, groceries and healthcare. Here goes!

VIDEO: New book offers tips to help you save thousands of dollars.
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~Elisabeth

HOUSES

Government Window Rebates

Q: I am just spending so much time trying to get facts on stimulus funds for window replacement. It's gotten frustrating. It took a couple of months to figure out "clunkers for cash." I don't know if I am on a real government site or a look alike. Need facts.
~gmwr5221

A: The Web sites to learn about government rebates for windows, appliances, insulation and more were right in my story, but many of you missed them and wrote to me. Here they are again:

www.energystar.gov/taxcredits

www.dsireusa.org.

Selling Your Own Home

Q: I have been an avid GMA fan for years, however I take exception to the "Save Big" segment. I have been a realtor for 31 years. Commissions are large, although a fraction of the "big picture." By pricing the house too high, the sellers lose the market, pricing to low and they lose profit. Not to mention the legal liability. How many sellers carry errors and omissions insurance? How many sellers know local, state and federal rules and disclosures regarding a sale? Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
~pam-ball

A: I heard from several outraged real estate agents after reporting that I saved $25,000 by selling my condo myself without an agent. A brief TV or Internet story does not convey all the nuances that a 300-plus page book does. In "SAVE BIG," I recount instances in which I did and did not use an agent. I explain that I would only try a "for sale by owner" approach in a healthy housing market. It would not be a good move right now in this recession. But it certainly is a unique way to save big and I think people should try it with at least one of their properties during their lifetime. If you succeed you'll save thousands. If you fail you'll learn new appreciation for real estate agents. Regarding pricing a property just right, that is indeed the biggest trick of selling a home. In "SAVE BIG," I point out that you can hire an appraiser to help you determine the home's fair market value and then you can discount it slightly below that and still save thousands because you are saving so much in commissions. As to following the law, that's what lawyers are for. Anybody who sells a home on their own should have a good real estate attorney on board to help with the technicalities. Lawyers are expensive, but not as expensive as real estate commissions!

Q: And to add one more thing as to why you should spend the money on a real estate agent -- safety. The agent will have qualified anyone coming to look at your home and you won't have just anyone walking through your home checking out your valuables.
~MA in CT

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