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Other Key Advisors

Houses in good physical condition sell for top dollar. Fixer-uppers sell at greatly reduced prices because whoever buys them must spend money on repairs to get them back into pristine condition.

Even if you've lived in your house for the past 20 years, it may have hidden problems you know nothing about. You probably can't see, for example, whether your house's electrical system is shot or whether dry rot is turning the woodwork into sawdust.

Invisible defects can be deal breakers because they cost major money to repair. The more you know about your house's hidden problems, the better able you are to deal with those problems effectively. For this reason, we recommend that you have your property thoroughly inspected before putting it on the market.

Finding financial and tax advisors

If you want to hire a financial or tax advisor, interview several before you select one. Check with your agent, banker, lawyer, business associates, and friends for referrals. As is the case with selecting your agent, you should get client references from each tax advisor and call the references.

Here are the qualities to look for in a good financial or tax advisor:

Does the advisor work full time in this occupation? The realm of personal finances and taxes is too vast for you to trust a part-timer. You need the services of a full-time professional.

Does the advisor speak your language? Good advisors can explain your options in simple terms. If you don't understand exactly what the tax advisor is saying, ask for clarification. If you still don't understand, get another tax advisor.

Is the advisor objective? Hire someone who works solely by the hour and doesn't have a vested interest in the advice that they give you. Never blindly follow the advice of experts because you're in awe of their expertise.

What is the advisor's fee schedule? Hourly fees vary widely. Don't pick someone strictly on a cost-per-hour basis. Furthermore, the quality of the seasoned veteran's advice may be superior to the quality of the novice's advice.

Is the tax advisor a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA)? These professional designations indicate that the tax advisor has satisfied special education and experience requirements and has passed a rigorous licensing exam. A CPA does general accounting and prepares tax returns. An EA focuses specifically on taxation.

Does the tax advisor have experience with real estate transactions? Tax practice, like law or medicine, is an extremely broad field. You need a tax advisor whose clients have tax problems like yours.