Home & Leisure


Zillow to make cash offers for houses in 20 cities based on its estimates

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

How accurate are Zestimates?

Spot on, says Zillow. The company is now so confident in its ability to estimate the value of a home without ever setting foot inside, it will make a cash offer on select houses.

The company announced the initiative this week — 15 years after first posting its Zestimates, the oft-watched home-value estimates that...Read more

Juan Figueroa/Staff Photographer/The Dallas Morning News/TNS

CDC's eviction moratorium is blocked by federal judge in Texas

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was blocked by a Texas judge who said the federal government overstepped its authority in stopping landlords from throwing out tenants.

U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, said that while states have the authority to regulate ...Read more

Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Tenants struggle amid patchwork of state rental relief efforts

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Late last year, Congress gave Michigan more than half a billion dollars to protect renters in the state from eviction. There was just one catch: State leaders had to sign off on distributing the money.

Nearly two months later, the funding—along with the rest of the federal aid given to Michigan for schools, vaccine distribution and business ...Read more

Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Cheaper rent in San Francisco? For some Oakland tenants, the city across the Bay is more affordable now

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN FRANCISCO — Even on a foggy San Francisco morning, the view from Scott Simmons’ 25th-floor apartment stretches from downtown to Golden Gate Park. The home of the 42-year-old tech worker is also spacious for a one-bedroom, featuring hardwood floors, new appliances and granite countertops.

A year ago, when he was sharing a two-bedroom ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Can a builder terminate contract for new home after I missed deposit deadline?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I signed a contract about a year ago with a small builder to purchase a new home. Since then, housing prices have increased a lot, especially in this neighborhood. My contract called for an additional earnest money deposit to be made a few weeks ago, and I inadvertently missed the deadline. The seller sent me a letter saying they were ...Read more


Mark A. Stein: Don't let technology run you out of a job you like

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Ever feel like your employer is bringing in new software for the express purpose of driving you so crazy you’ll quit? You’re probably not alone.

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research crunched decades of data on 50,000 businesses and 11.6 million workers and found that the faster a company installs new software, the faster it...Read more


Arianne Cohen: Key to closing the gender gap — husbands who parent

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Want to avoid gender pay gaps? The solution starts (and mostly ends) with your bedmate.

Economist Patricia Cortés is an expert on the gender pay gap. If you ask her advice on how to avoid a gender pay gap in your own life, her answer is surprisingly close to home. Actually, it’s in your home: “If I’m honest, my advice is to marry a man ...Read more


Home prices in US cities jump at fastest pace since 2014

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities surged in December, with low mortgage rates fueling the housing market.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of property values climbed 10.1% from a year earlier, beating the median estimate of 9.9% in a Bloomberg survey of economists. It followed a 9.2% gain in November and was the biggest jump since 2014.

...Read more

Passive investing: A crucial retirement investment strategy misunderstood by nearly everyone

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A survey of nearly 6,000 households asked, in multiple choice format, the definition of “passive investing.” More than half chose “didn’t know.” Another 29% incorrectly chose “buying and holding without being influenced by short term market fluctuations.”

Only one in five retirement savers, in the quiz by Hearts & Wallets, ...Read more

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: Tax shocker awaits remote workers who hit the road

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many people who suddenly ended up working remotely during the pandemic in 2020 found themselves plopped at their kitchen table in front of a laptop.

But more people than you might imagine hit the road and worked out of someone else's kitchen or spare bedroom, maybe visting a relative or a summer home, in another state.

So what happens now at ...Read more


Mutual funds are not long for this ETF world

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Writing earlier this year, I picked on fixed-income exchanged-traded funds, arguing that without the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented intervention in corporate credit markets, it’s unclear whether these relatively new vehicles for investing in bonds would have survived the liquidity crunch of March 2020.

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit ...Read more

Social Graces: Here’s what to say if a friend stops wearing a mask in public

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: What should you do if your friend who has been vaccinated stops wearing a mask in public?

A: I like to ask reasonably intelligent people questions that might help me better understand their decision-making. So my initial interaction would be something like this:

1) “I understand you were recently vaccinated. Is that why you’re no ...Read more

Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Carla Fried: No need to baby an electric vehicle

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The transition to a world of electric vehicles has officially shifted into higher gear. In January, General Motors announced a goal that by 2035 only electric cars and trucks would roll off its assembly lines. China is on record telling its automakers it expects 40% of new car sales in 2030 to be EVs.

Even if you’re not motivated by climate ...Read more


US existing-home sales unexpectedly rise to three-month high

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly rose to a three-month high in January as Americans sought to take advantage of ultra-low mortgage rates that have powered the boom in housing.

Contract closings increased 0.6% from the prior month to an annualized 6.69 million, after a downwardly revised 6.65 million in December, according to ...Read more

Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS

Taxpayers want to know how COVID-19 will affect their bill

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many people created workspaces — at their own cost — in their homes last year if they were no longer going to an office to work, and some may be wondering if they'll get a tax break on setting up their home office.

"Unfortunately, no," said Alex Kindler, a partner at H2R CPA in Green Tree, Pa.

"If you're an employee who telecommutes, there...Read more

Ken Lambert/Digital Image/TNS

Seattle has finally reached peak car, and only one other densely populated US city has more cars per capita

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A few years ago, during the height of Seattle’s historic population boom, I wrote about a remarkable trend: The city was adding cars as fast as people.

That trend appears to be over, at least for now. Census data shows that Seattle’s car “population” — the number of vehicles owned or leased by city residents — has finally leveled ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Do I have to renew lease for tenants who don't pay rent on time?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Our tenants are nice people but consistently pay their rent late. Their annual lease expires in September, and I do not want to renew it. With everything going on, am I allowed to do this? —Barbara

A: A lease is a contract, and you and your tenant are bound by its terms.

Your first step is to review your lease agreement to see if you ...Read more


Susan Tompor: How the timing of your tax return could affect your third stimulus payout

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The ever-so-anticipated third stimulus check is supposed to give people a financial lift during the pandemic.

But it's raising new questions during tax season, such as: Do I really need to file my 2020 federal income tax return as soon as possible to get a bigger payout?

Increasingly, we're hearing buzz that some people who lost their jobs or ...Read more

Betsy Edgerton: Buy used. It's environmentally sustainable, frugal a good habit

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

One way to reliably fund 529 college savings accounts

Ours isn't a consumer household — it's more a way station for items we need at present, usually acquired, used and later given away or recycled. My 12-year-old son just dropped by my desk, wearing his typical winter outfit of jeans, a t-shirt and a fleece, all from consignment stores (two ...Read more


Arianne Cohen: How not to be marginalized in male-dominated work team

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As body cams are revolutionizing the issue of police brutality — irrefutable proof is so much stronger than mere witness accounts — so might an experiment in videotaping workplace teams convince skeptics about the seemingly unalterable process by which women are railroaded into silence and powerlessness on the job.

Sure, any woman with work...Read more