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Federal rent relief is coming. Here's what to expect in California

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Lost jobs and income from the COVID-19 pandemic have put many people around the country, millions by the estimate of some experts, behind on their rent payments.

Eviction moratoriums, nationally and in California, expire at the end of the month, putting many at risk of losing their homes. Tenants in Los Angeles County have protection for longer...Read more

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Companies are dumping Trump brand in wake of Capitol insurrection. But can Chicago shed Trump Tower's giant sign?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With the House having impeached President Donald Trump for a second time and corporate America distancing itself in the wake of the deadly Capitol insurrection, the Trump brand is taking a beating in the waning days of his presidency.

Even as pressure mounts to remove the president’s name from his signature property in Chicago, the Trump ...Read more

Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS

Microsoft exploring opening a new office in downtown Miami, sources say

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Microsoft is considering opening an office in Miami's business core.

According to multiple sources who declined to be named, Microsoft is reviewing at least two Class A options for a new Magic City footprint: one, at the still-under-construction 830 Brickell, and the other at 801 Brickell office tower. All sources cited the sensitive nature of ...Read more

JESSICA J. TREVINO/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: New rule helps those who lost jobs in 2020 qualify for key tax credits

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many lower-wage workers who are raising families bank on receiving a healthy, four-figure tax refund, likely their biggest single check of the year, when they claim the Earned Income Tax Credit on their income tax returns.

But what happens if you ended up being out of work much of 2020 during the pandemic? Are you suddenly shut out of the ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Neal Templin: Will home buyers have to outbid institutional money?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Coming out of the financial collapse a decade ago, when home foreclosures hit record numbers, Wall Street began buying up hundreds of thousands of single-family homes (SFH). Institutional money had long ago come to dominate ownership of U.S. apartments, but the SFH, which accounts for the great bulk of the more than $30 trillion in housing value...Read more

TNS/TNS/TNS

Real estate Q&A: We want to buy a house but can't afford to do any major repairs for a few years. What should we do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: We are buying our first home and will need to use most of our savings for the down payment and furniture. We cannot afford to make any major repairs for the first couple of years. How can we protect ourselves? –Shelley

A: While I can understand wanting to get the most house you can afford, it is crucial to afford the home you buy.

Many ...Read more

Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Chicago's Magnificent Mile is ‘not invincible.' Flagship mall faces huge challenges

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Almost a half-century after opening, Water Tower Place, the once-bustling retail mall at the north end of Chicago's Magnificent Mile, remains shiny marble on the outside, but inside it’s losing some of its sparkle.

Macy’s, which anchors the south end of the building, announced plans last week to close in a few months, leaving behind a more ...Read more

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images North America/TNS

Rental property owners get late assist in year-end spending law

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Stephen Ashley isn’t sure how much his company will benefit from a 116-word tax break for residential property owners slipped into the omnibus and coronavirus relief package late last month.

But the Rochester, N.Y., apartment developer thinks it will be worth more than the $540,000 his company spent lobbying for what he describes as a ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Natasha Frost: Holidays over, could we have done better with gifting?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With the holiday season fresh in our minds — and the endless sweaters, candles and electronic gadgets still stacked on dresser tops, awaiting their spot in the back of closets — let’s review gift-giving strategies and resolve to do better next time.

Research tells us you’re probably worse at picking out gifts than you think you are. ...Read more

TNS

Carla Fried: 4 steps to realizing your emergency savings goal

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The out-of-the-blue economic jolt of the pandemic set off an urge among many households to double down on building emergency savings.

A T. Rowe Price survey of still-employed retirement savers last summer reported that 50% said saving for emergencies was a major financial objective, up from 38% the previous year.

Hearts & Wallets, a consumer ...Read more

Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

How much will homelessness rise? Grim study shows possible 'impact of doing nothing,' researchers say

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A recession following the coronavirus pandemic could cause twice as much homelessness nationwide as the Great Recession did more than a decade ago, says a grim new study by Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles research group.

Using detailed data on unemployment and homelessness from L.A. County social services, authors of the study project that ...Read more

TNS

Mark A. Stein: There's probably creepy software on your work laptop

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Last April, just as employers had sent millions of office employees home to work remotely, they went on a buying binge of creepy software with names like Controlio, Sneek and StaffCop — the better to monitor your every keystroke from afar.

Orders for such programs soared 87% in April. These kinds of software programs enable your employer to: ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Carla Fried : Post-pandemic, how to avoid a return to credit card debt

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Americans have shaved off more than $100 billion of credit card debt during the coronavirus pandemic and, as vaccines raise hopes for a more open and mobile life again, we all need a plan to keep from diving back into debt.

The categories in which spending via credit cards fell off most noticeably, according to analysis by Money.com and Morning...Read more

JESSICA J. TREVINO/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: Missing stimulus money could arrive by Feb. 1 for some taxpayers

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Some Jackson Hewitt customers who have yet to receive their second stimulus payments could see that money after all by Feb. 1.

The tax preparation firm confirmed Monday that the Internal Revenue Service will start processing some payments once their systems come back online.

The Economic Impact Payments in question had been sent by the IRS to ...Read more

Youngrae Kim / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Chicago rents fell 12% in 2020. For renters, it ‘restores your faith in humanity.’ For landlords, ‘it’s a huge hit.’

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO — This summer, Marianna Harrison, 41, saw something unexpected on her lease renewal form.

Rather than the annual hike in rent she’d received over the past 12 years for her one-bedroom apartment in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, her rent for 2021 went down by $50.

“That doesn’t seem like a lot, but honestly, to me, that ...Read more

Social Graces: When it snows, your neighbors don’t shovel. What should you do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Your neighbors won’t shovel the snow on the sidewalk in front of their building. How should you handle this?

A: While there’s not much one can do to prevent a snowstorm from blanketing your city, town or neighborhood, there is something one can do to prevent uncomfortable or hard feelings toward neighbors who won’t shovel snow on ...Read more

Two-day Bitcoin plunge shakes faith in cryptocurrency boom

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The white-knuckle Bitcoin ride took another twist Monday as a two-day tumble in the digital currency stoked concern that the polarizing cryptocurrency boom may run out of steam.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, slid as much as 18% over Sunday and Monday to as low as about $33,500. That’s the biggest two-day slide since May last year and ...Read more

Dreamstime/TNS

Susan Tompor: Lost a job? How to pay taxes on unemployment benefits

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Lose a job in 2020? Get ready, you could be hit with a tax bill in 2021.

Millions of people lost jobs and claimed unemployment compensation across the country last year as restaurants, retailers, theaters and other businesses faced massive cut backs hit during the coronavirus-induced recession.

And jobless benefits proved to be fairly generous...Read more

JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN/FILE/Austin American-Statesman/TNS

2021 looks to be slow for construction firms across the US

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Construction firms across the U.S. are bracing for a solemn 2021 as demand wanes and projects are postponed or canceled as clients wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

That is the situation according to survey results released Thursday by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Sage Construction and ...Read more

TNS

Neal Templin: How to avoid environmental hazards when home-buying

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

When we bought a house in New Jersey 19 years ago, our real estate agent told us, “When you buy a house, if you find gold on the property, it’s your gold.”

He went on. “And if you find a leaking oil tank, it’s your oil tank.”

Yes, sellers are supposed to disclose environmental hazards like lead paint or asbestos. But they can ...Read more