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You can't look up Philly property owners by name anymore. City cites 'security matters.'

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Philadelphia officials have reprogrammed the city's property-search website to remove the ability to look up properties by the names of their owners, citing undisclosed security concerns.

Under the change implemented about a week ago, users of the search at can still find out who owns a property by inputting an address. But ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Who should repair water damage caused by HOA's vendor?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: A vendor working on the common area of our building knocked a hose bib out of the wall, causing a flood in our home. I checked with the association management, and they had no insurance information on file for the vendor. Who is responsible for repairing the damage caused by this vendor's negligence? - Bob

A: Because the flood was caused by ...Read more


Real estate info site Zillow is hiring its first agents

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

After insisting for years that it had no plans to hire any agents, Seattle-based Zillow has reversed course and will open a residential real estate brokerage - though on a very limited basis.

Agents in the new division, called Zillow Homes, have a narrow purview: acquiring and listing homes for the company's home-flipping division, Zillow ...Read more

Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Whether a restaurant survives the pandemic could depend on an uneasy dance with the landlord

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO - Restaurants, their receipts less than a third of what they customarily would take in, are unable to pay rent. Landlords, with mortgages and property-tax bills due, can't survive without income.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, resulting in the forced closure six months ago of restaurants and bars across the country, restaurateurs ...Read more


Lynnley Browning: Crucial extra items to cover in a divorce settlement

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Civil and quick, or dramatic and drawn out, most divorces have a largely predictable result when it comes to the house, retirement funds and parenting.

Most states split up assets acquired during marriage "equitably." Community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) divide ...Read more


Carla Fried: Don't be scared into claiming Social Security early

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As if household finances weren't rattled enough by the coronavirus recession, a new round of ominous headlines set off fresh worries about Social Security benefits, and a new round of hand-wringing from near-retirees that it may be best to grab benefits ASAP before payouts are cut.

Slow down. Waiting still makes the most sense. Retirement ...Read more


Susan Tompor: Wait, it's September and you still haven't received your tax refund? Here's why

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

By Labor Day and the roll out of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, you'd think, maybe, that you'd finally have your hands on your federal income tax refund.

For most people, after all, tax refund cash has come and gone. They spent that money months ago. Others are waiting and waiting, much like Carol Wilke who filed a tax return the day after ...Read more

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Carla Fried: The case for a retirement roommate

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Getting older often means living alone.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than 40% of people at least age 65 live alone, and 57% of people in their 80s live alone.

At the same time, atop nearly every list of retirement worries is this one: running out of money.

For open-minded seniors living on ...Read more


The 10 best hanging plants for creating an indoor jungle

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A longtime bohemian standard during the 1970s, hanging houseplants have returned in a big way as demand for plants has skyrocketed in the pandemic and Instagram influencers create indoor jungles.

Plant parents love to dote on their houseplants, especially now that everyone is hunkering down at home, but are all indoor plants well suited to ...Read more

Social Graces: Here's what to do if your college student wants to visit home during the pandemic

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Should parents let their children who are away at college come home for a visit during the pandemic?

A: For all students returning from school, we suggest they quarantine for 14 days when they arrive home.

And if there are any symptoms like a fever or a cough, seek medical management or call your family practice doctor to get a test for...Read more

Jason Shaltz Photography/Handout/TNS

Hot Property: 'SNL' vet Will Forte brings Santa Monica Craftsman to market

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES - Every Hollywood idea has to start somewhere, whether it's scribbled on cocktail napkins, pecked out on a vintage typewriter or the outcome of an afternoon in the writers' room. For the sitcom "The Last Man on Earth," the idea came around the dining room table at the Santa Monica home of show star Will Forte.

Forte is now ready to ...Read more

Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS

This Hollywood coworking space is 'what architecture might look like post-COVID'

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES - Remember coworking? When independent workers and start-up entrepreneurs would pile into communal offices, sharing overhead and necessities like printers, bathrooms and ventilation systems? A fantastic idea for saving money on real estate and office infrastructure. Not so hot when you're trying to prevent the spread of mortal ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Who should fix water line to a townhouse?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I live in a townhouse where the water meters are near the parking lot. Who is responsible for repairing the water line from the meter to the individual townhouse unit? Is it the townhouse unit owner, or is it the association because the water line is in the common area? - Clara

A: When you live in a community association, you agree to live ...Read more

For $30, you can spend a night in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' estate

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If the lyric "West Philadelphia, born and raised" takes you back to the '90s, wait until you roll up to Will Smith's "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" crib.

The multi-hyphenate talent-turned-Airbnb host is opening his former TV home to groups of up to two Los Angeles County residents (with IDs and from the same household in strict ...Read more

Alan Berner/Seattle Times/TNS

Facebook will buy REI's unused Bellevue headquarters complex, signalling offices are still relevant

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SEATTLE - Facebook will buy REI's so-new-it's-never-been-used Bellevue, Wash., campus for nearly $368 million, the social media giant announced today.

The move further consolidates Facebook's Eastside mini-empire in the upscale, multiuse Spring District east of I-405. Before the acquisition of the 400,000-square-foot REI offices, Facebook was ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Get a game plan for paying student loan debt in 2021

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

September is traditionally a time for back to school and, even in a time of COVID-19 restrictions, September was to be the month when student loan payments got back on track.

Well, like a lot of things, we're looking at yet another new game plan here. And it's one that savvy consumers might be able to use to their advantage.

Borrowers across ...Read more


Dealmakers clinch $68 billion of M&A in year's busiest weekend

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A blockbuster Sunday of takeovers has bled into Monday for the fastest start to a week for global dealmaking so far this year.

Companies led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. and U.S. pharmaceuticals group Gilead Sciences Inc. announced $68 billion of deals, the highest tally for the start of a week since late November 2019, ...Read more

Life skills: You still don't know your longtime neighbor's name. Is it too late to ask?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: One of your neighbors has greeted you by name for years, and you never got around to asking for a refresher on his name. Is it too late to ask now?

A: Oh my, if it has truly been years of greeting one another, then this is quite a conundrum.

Generally speaking, it's best to get in that name refresher ask no later than the second or ...Read more


Carla Fried: Interest rates and gas prices are low — voila, car loan binge

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The average new car loan in the second quarter of this year was $36,072, according to Experian Automotive, nearly $4,000 more than the typical loan a year earlier.

That would be a startling jump in a booming economy where jobs are secure, but in the midst of a recession expected to have long-lasting effects on job security, it's remarkable.

...Read more

Alfred Yson/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Hot Property: James Cameron seeks a titanic haul for Malibu compound

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES - Oscar-winning director James Cameron is eyeing a blockbuster sale in Malibu. His prized compound, a collection of two mansions he's owned for decades, hit the market last week at $25 million.

Cameron, a film industry veteran whose scores of credits include "The Terminator" and "Titanic," began compiling the estate in the late ...Read more