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As Amazon's deadline for HQ2 bids closes, speculation on winner heats up

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SEATTLE -- In the six weeks since Amazon said it was seeking a site for a second headquarters, cities have preened. They've sent delegations to Seattle, bragged about their university engineering programs and tried to ship cactuses to Jeff Bezos.

Thursday evening, the curtain will close on the first act of Amazon's civic beauty pageant.

...Read more

Here's How: Add a Second Floor

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I need a larger house, but my budget is limited and I want to stay in the same school district. Is it possible to add a second floor to my existing ranch home? The lot is too small to build outward. -- Zina G.

Dear Zina: It certainly is possible to add a second floor to your existing single-floor ranch house. Since your lot is too ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Best Inexpensive: Towels, Mattress Pad, Down Comforter

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Over the years, I have spent way too much in an attempt to furnish bedrooms and bathrooms with high-quality towels and bedding. What I have discovered through a lot of trial and error is that a high price does not always guarantee great results.

Today I want to tell you about my picks for the best inexpensive bath towels, mattress pad and down ...Read more

Quick fall home maintenance tasks now can prevent crises later

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Although October can still be flip-flops-and-shorts weather, there are a number of fall maintenance tasks to undertake, no matter what the temperature gauge says.

We asked Lucinda Hoe, field services director of the West region for Associa OnCall, for some tips to keep a home as functional as possible. The company offers maintenance services, ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: Condo board may be 'terrible,' but withholding dues will make matters worse

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I live in a 55-plus condominium community and many residents, myself included, feel that the board is doing a terrible job at maintaining our community, despite the high dues that we pay. We have spoken out at board meetings, but it seems our concerns are ignored. Can we withhold our dues, or perhaps pay them into an escrow account, to let ...Read more

On the House: Stressed about renting? Whose Your Landlord offers Yelp-like reviews

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

In this age of information, where it's easy to find facts and statistics about nearly anything, Temple University graduate Ofo Ezeugwu found a gap: Renters struggle to find information about landlords and their properties.

"We are constantly looking for affirmation through information," Ezeugwu said. "On Amazon, you read reviews before you make...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Saving by Choice, Not by Chance

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

A reader question I answered recently brought a small avalanche of mail, mostly from readers who were aghast that I would suggest they save such significant portions of their paychecks for retirement. It was money they just didn't think they could afford to save. I can imagine that for people who save nothing, my suggesting they should be saving...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Planning for retirement: The missing piece

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

While there is no shortage of retirement advice or retirement advisers, many consumers who distrust both slide into retirement with little preparation -- other than having grown older. Some of the reasons for this lie deep in the human psyche, beyond any practical remedy. But there is one important factor that discourages retirement planning ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Planning for retirement: The missing piece

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

While there is no shortage of retirement advice or retirement advisers, many consumers who distrust both slide into retirement with little preparation -- other than having grown older. Some of the reasons for this lie deep in the human psyche, beyond any practical remedy. But there is one important factor that discourages retirement planning ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Put Denture Tablets to Work Around the House

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I have a long list of reader questions that I'd intended to answer today. But I got so taken away with Sandy's question, I used up all the space! I promise to get to the rest of the list really soon.

Dear Mary: Can I use my Polident denture cleanser to soak/clean my mouth guard for several days in a row, or is it really necessary to start with ...Read more

Small Spaces: Is Wallpaper Back?

Consumer / Small Spaces /

Wallpaper is one of those interior finishes that goes in and out of favor depending on the current trends. It has been around since the 1700s, although there is evidence that ornamental paper was used on walls in both ancient Egypt (as papyrus) and China, when strips were printed on by blocks of wood. The sheets were glued together to cover the ...Read more

Infernos could worsen Bay Area's already brutal housing market

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The deadly wildfires that roared through Sonoma and Napa counties last week, destroying thousands of homes, might also scorch the Bay Area's already brutal housing market for months or years to come, experts warned Friday.

An estimated 2,800 homes have been destroyed in the wind-whipped infernos in Santa Rosa alone, and a ...Read more

Kushner plan for Fifth Avenue tower in NYC being blocked by partner

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

NEW YORK -- An ambitious plan by Jared Kushner's family to recast its indebted Fifth Avenue office building as a luxury architectural trophy is collapsing, setting off a chain of events that may imperil the Kushners' ownership of a property central to their real estate empire.

Their partner, Vornado Realty Trust, is telling brokers to plan for ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Readers' Feedback on Everything From Pedialyte to Whining

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I have to admit that my readers' comments -- the good, the grateful, the bad, ugly, glowing, hilarious and even puzzling -- are some of the best entertainment I get every day. You make me think and keep me on my toes. But mostly, you make me smile, and that's why I love to hear from you.

Though I am unable to personally acknowledge every ...Read more

House Calls: Hurricane Damage

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are buying a house in Cape Coral, Florida, and are supposed to close soon. The seller has evacuated and may not return.

If there is more than $5,000 damage, I can get out of the contract. But how is the amount of damage determined? Because of the scope of the storm, it may take weeks just to get an insurance adjuster there. -- to...Read more

Art of Design: Fall Frolic

Consumer / Art of Design /

Fall Frolic

Fall Frolic is the time of the year which is a preamble to all the end of year holidays. In certain parts of the states it is markedly noticeable as leaves start to change from green to red to orange until they decimate to nothingness. In some parts telltale signs are a bountiful harvest, in others, coats get dusted off and in less ...Read more

Joseph N. DiStefano: Is China big enough for US investors yet?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

I was skimming headlines at Bloomberg.com when an ad for HSBC Corp. filled the screen like a news-killing fog.

It urged us to buy China stocks -- now! -- before the Morgan Stanley stock indexes follow the rival Financial Times indexes in adding Beijing and Shanghai companies over the next couple years and the dumb money from American index-fund...Read more

Lee Schafer: Trading case tied to former Life Time Fitness exec hits investing neophytes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

It's easy to imagine that illegal insider trading is mostly a game played by slick bad guys or aggressive traders who sometimes cross the line.

The story that federal prosecutors tell in the recent indictment of former Life Time Fitness Vice President Shane Fleming and eight others is a lot different. What's striking is the very ordinariness of...Read more

Susan Tompor: Payday loans rule could lead to cheaper alternatives

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Consumers who are caught in a financial squeeze might one day be able to skip the payday loan store and turn to banks and credit unions for lower-cost, quick-fix loans.

That's one possibility being raised by consumer advocates who want to see an end to gruesome, triple-digit rates that are charged to vulnerable consumers who take out payday ...Read more

Holiday retail forecast: More sales, more hiring, more online

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Despite department store woes, national retailers have started to seek seasonal help -- and at levels close to those seen last year, according to some estimates.

Many of the seasonal jobs are focused on stocking additional inventory, customer service, and helping in shipping and distribution centers, an area that is growing as online holiday ...Read more