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Is the tax overhaul law impacting real estate?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- A new report from the New York Federal Reserve sheds light on a question that's been hanging over the American real estate market: Has the massive tax overhaul adopted by Congress in late 2017 had any effect on whether consumers want to buy or sell homes?

It's an important issue because federal tax laws can make owning a home much...Read more

Bay Area real-estate prices soar while other places around the world follow their own curious paths

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With a recent report naming the Bay Area being the priciest place on the planet to build structures like apartments, schools and office buildings, we wondered how real estate looks in other places far away from the region and its nose-bleed cost of living.

In the Bay Area, residents obsess so much on how expensive property is that they tend to ...Read more

New Bay Area crown: Most expensive place in the world to build

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The Bay Area is the most expensive place in the world to build an apartment building, office tower, hospital, warehouse or school.

And it's not even close -- the region is 13 percent more costly to develop than second-place New York, according to a new report by UK-based consultant Turner & Townsend.

"Another dubious award for the Bay Area," ...Read more

Amazon grabs large downtown Bellevue property next to transit hub

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Amazon is again adding to its real estate portfolio in Bellevue, Wash., this time acquiring a central parcel that could accommodate the tallest towers in the city across the street from a downtown transit hub and forthcoming light rail station.

The deal for the Bellevue Corporate Plaza property appears to give Amazon the opportunity to develop ...Read more

Here's How: Build Your Own Bridge Through the Garden

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am planning to sell my house, so I want to improve the landscaping. I think a small decorative bridge would look nice over a gully near the flower gardens. How should I build it, and what material is best? -- Ron M.

Dear Ron: Adding a bridge to your garden -- or any location in your backyard -- can enhance the landscaping and give...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How to Take the Pain Out of Saving Loose Change

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I am not one to spend coins. I prefer to save them. In fact, I go out of my way to make sure I get plenty of change. But I hate to carry loose change, so my husband and I routinely dump the day's accumulation into a container to save for a trip or to buy something special. One year we saved $1,100 in coins. But I have to admit the logistics can ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: My house is in my mother's name but her health is failing. What can I do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: My credit was damaged because of divorce, so my mother helped me buy my house by putting it in her name. I have lived here for 11 years and always paid the bills. I am concerned because she has dementia and her health is failing. Should I have her deed the house over to me? -- Sally

A: In my experience, I have spoken with many people in your...Read more

Bay Area paradox: Needs housing, but doesn't want to build faster

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Chronic lawsuits against new Bay Area housing developments. Loud, angry protests against pro-growth legislators and mayors.

If the Bay Area has an all-season contact sport, it's the recurring NIMBY fights against housing construction.

And although almost everyone agrees housing prices are too high, few want to see faster development to tackle ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: This Is What Happens When Financially Immature Students Get a Credit Card

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Our kids are fortunate to be growing up in the most progressive and exciting time in history. Sadly, the very culture that offers them the world is also perpetrating this lie: "You are entitled to have everything you want, even if you don't have the money to pay for it. It's not a problem. You deserve it. Get it now, and you can pay for it later...Read more

Can California boost home building without supercharging gentrification?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Along a stretch of South Los Angeles near the Expo light rail line, investment dollars are pouring in.

Landlords outfit vacant apartments with stainless-steel appliances to lift rents, flippers list renovated bungalows for sale at twice what they paid. And as long-term tenants are forced out, development companies build new ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: My Sincere Apologies to Pawnshops Everywhere

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

In the wake of America's big economic wake-up call back in 2008, dollar stores and thrift stores saw a big resurgence. And now another kind of retail quasi-lender is commanding all kinds of attention from sellers and buyers: pawnshops.

I admit to having grown up with a weird bias against pawnshops. To me, pawnshops were just one level above ...Read more

Trying for a new look for Twin Cities condo buildings

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

MINNEAPOLIS -- John Dwyer and Colin Oglesbay aren't always fond of how new housing in the Twin Cities looks these days, and they think others feel the same.

"People are sick of the repetitive cookie-cutter stuff," said Oglesbay, a partner in D/O Architects in Minneapolis.

So the Twin Cities-based architects designed a pair of break-the-mold ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How to Save Yourself From a Foolish Purchase

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I wish I had a quarter for every stupid purchase I've made in my life. I'd have some major dough. Regrettably, my financial faux pas have been remarkable in both quantity and quality. I've made some real doozies.

Take the above-ground swimming pool. Its a la carte price was bad enough. Adding everything required but not included took it from ...Read more

House Calls: Why No Sale

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: Hope you can help us.

We have been trying to sell our house for three months now -- with not a single offer. From our agent's market analysis, we are at the low end of the price range for similar houses. We have even dropped the price with no effect.

Our house is relatively new (a little over two years). I think lots of buyers ...Read more

Art of Design: Why White?

Consumer / Art of Design /

It seems like everything that's old is new again. Throughout interior design history, time and again, designers are faced with the request to create an all-white decorating scheme. An all-white room can seem easy. Doesn't it? What could possibly be so difficult about putting the same color on everything in a room? Well, sorry to burst your ...Read more

The Journey: Facts to know about survivor's benefits

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Choosing the best time to claim Social Security benefits can be tricky, mostly because we don't know precisely how long we'll live to collect.

Even if we make an educated guess on our own longevity, however, plenty can still go wrong.

This column recently steered a 65-year-old retiree to the Social Security Administration to sort out a ...Read more

On Philanthropy: Giving to charity in the last third of your life

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Today, the U.S. population includes nearly 50 million adults over the age of 65. Members of this demographic control substantially greater assets and net worth than any younger generation.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average net worth for Americans age 65-74 is $1,066,000. The median net worth is $224,000. The U.S. Census Bureau ...Read more

Hot Property: Bruce Willis puts Caribbean property up for sale

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Actor Bruce Willis kept his Caribbean getaway in the Turks and Caicos Islands long enough to renew his wedding vows with model-actress Emma Heming Willis last month, but now the Parrot Cay estate is for sale at $33 million.

Set within COMO Resorts Parrot Cay, the more than seven-acre bay-front property contains three homes with ...Read more

More Americans are choosing not to tap into their home equity

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- American homeowners are doing something surprising: Despite record amounts of home equity available to them -- an estimated $1.5 trillion worth -- they are tapping into it less via home-equity credit lines (HELOCs) and cash-out refinancings.

The big question is why. Are people simply getting more frugal? Or are other forces at ...Read more

Here's How: Cleaning up the Garage

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am recently divorced. Now, with my husband gone, I can finally clean up the garage and get things arranged properly. What suggestions do you have to free up space and jazz it up a bit? -- Steve W.

Dear Steve: Cleaning and jazzing up the garage area is becoming a very popular home improvement project. With the attached garage door ...Read more