Homeowners should shop carefully as Black Friday approaches

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DEAR MR. MYERS: What are the best household items to buy on “Black Friday?”

ANSWER: Black Friday, which kicks off the retail industry’s biggest sales season of the year, has traditionally started the day after Thanksgiving.

America will observe Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, but many stores have already slashed prices to Black Friday levels, and some will continue to offer those savings through the first week of December.

November typically is the best time to buy most types of appliances, from small coffee makers and blenders to big washing machines and dryers. Donna Doyle, a consumer-buying expert at the bargain-hunting website DealNews.com, forecasts that Sears, Home Depot and others could slash 40 percent or more off their regular prices.

This also is a good time to buy a new television for your home, especially if you’re looking for one of the two types of sets that are soaring in popularity: High-resolution 4K sets, which offer four times the resolution of sets made just a few years ago, and curved TVs that can make the show that you’re watching seem more like you are in a theater rather than viewing it from the couch.

Expect Black Friday deals on 40-inch 4K sets to be as little as $170, Doyle notes, while 50-inch units “will hit the shelves for just $40 more.”

There are, of course, some things that you shouldn’t buy yet. Although retailers will be offering super deals on many types of big appliances this month, refrigerators usually are marked down to their deepest levels in May because manufacturers introduce their new lines in June.

Wait for another month or two to buy furniture. Despite today’s discounts, stuff like sofas and bedroom sets will likely be much cheaper in January or February as big manufacturers and retailers cut prices to clear floor space for their 2017 model lines.

Linens for your bedroom, bathroom or kitchen should also be even cheaper about two months from now. Tuck your wallet or purse away to take advantage of January’s “white sales,” unless your bedsheets or bath towels are so tattered that you’d be embarrassed to have holiday visitors use them.

REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Black Friday officially became the biggest U.S. shopping day 26 years ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. For decades earlier, the busiest day each year was the Saturday before Christmas, when shopping procrastinators swamped stores to buy last-minute gifts.

DEAR MR. MYERS: What is “blind-nailing?”

ANSWER: It’s a term that builders and remodeling contractors use when they nail something into a wall, cover the nail head with putty, and then paint over it so that the head doesn’t show.

DEAR MR. MYERS: We are in the process of buying our first home, and the lender required us to first get a homeowners insurance policy before it would provide the mortgage needed to close the sale. We got the policy, but there’s a clause in the document that confuses us. What is a “waiver of subrogation?”

ANSWER: All lenders require borrowers to first get a preliminary homeowners policy, or “binder,” before they’ll approve a mortgage to buy a house. After all, if there’s no insurance policy in place after the buyers move in and the property is then damaged or destroyed, the bank could suffer a huge financial loss.

Most homeowners policies, commonly called an “HO-3,” include a waiver of subrogation clause. It allows the insurer who pays a homeowner’s claim to later sue the other party who caused the damage.

To illustrate, let’s say that Joe Homeowner’s property is damaged by a distracted driver who plows into Joe’s front porch. The insurer pays $10,000 to have Joe’s porch restored to its original condition.

Joe has been, in insurance parlance, “made whole” by the company. The waiver of subrogation clause, though, limits Joe from suing the reckless driver for additional money for repairs. But the clause allows the insurer to step into Joe’s shoes and sue the driver to recover the company’s losses that it suffered from the payments it had made to restore Joe’s porch.

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