• Tips on Selling, Buying — or Avoiding — 'Haunted' Houses

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    By Geoff Williams

    Louisa Eyler didn’t buy a haunted house, as far as she knows, but her new home does have a creepy past, and some friends and family members have already declared their intentions to stay as far away from it as possible. Her 12-year-old son, R.J., has asked for a thermal imaging reader to use on their first night in the Harrisburg, Pa., home, which could be in a matter of weeks. But Eyler isn’t spooked. When she saw the house — 8,000 square feet and with multiple bedrooms and baths and a courtyard and pond — she thought to herself, “This is my forever home. This is my final resting place.”

    Those probably aren’t the words most of us would have chosen, especially given her house’s history. It wasn’t just a home but a place of business, built in 1900 by a funeral director and embalmer. “Thousands of dead bodies have passed through my home,” says Eyler, a 38-year-old entrepreneur who specializes in product distribution.

    But she isn’t concerned. As she sees it, this was a setting where loved ones came …read more  

  • Right Way to Use an IRA for a Down Payment on a Home

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    By Abby Hayes

    If you’re ready to buy your first home but don’t quite have a down payment saved up, you may be able to tap into your traditional IRA for down payment funds. Right now is a great time to buy a house, which means it may just be worth it to pull some of your retirement money in to buy a home sooner rather than later.

    Typically, you can’t withdraw money from a traditional IRA before you turn 59½ without paying a hefty 10 percent penalty. But the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act changed some of the IRA rules to allow IRA owners to withdraw money early, penalty-free, in certain circumstances. One of those circumstances includes buying, building or rebuilding your first home. So if you want to buy a house, and you qualify as a first-time homeowner and have money in an IRA, you may just have your down payment waiting for you already.

    Who counts as a first-time homebuyer? As with all things IRS-related, the rules surrounding this IRA early withdrawal exception get …read more  

  • How to Make Moving Cross-Country Go Smoothly

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    By Niccole Schreck

    Moving to a new state is an exciting change, but it’s also one that comes with a fair amount of stress. After all, picking up all of your belongings and relocating cross-country takes even more preparation and effort than moving across town — and moving across town is stressful enough. I’ve moved cross-country twice in the past 10 years — from Michigan to Florida and Florida to California — so I know the challenges of relocating well.

    Here are seven of my tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible:

    Give yourself plenty of planning time. When making a move cross-country, you should start planning and preparing about eight weeks prior to your scheduled moving date. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to pack up your things and find a rental truck at the last minute. Unlike a regular cross-town move, you can’t make multiple trips.

    Determine your moving method. There are a few ways to handle moving your belongings across the country: There is the traditional pack-everything-into-your-car-and-drive method; you can rent a moving truck; or you can leave it to …read more