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Carla Fried: Fewer homebuyers stuck paying above the asking price

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

For homebuyers and sellers, the original list price is the conversation starter, yet rarely the final word -- only about 15% of homes in the largest metro areas sold for the seller's original asking price during 2019's second quarter, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic.

Discounted sale prices occurred on 61% of homes sold, CoreLogic ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: I didn't pull permits for work on my house. Will that come back to bite me?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Years ago, I renovated my home doing much of the work myself. Since I was working on my house, all the construction was done far exceeding the minimum building code requirements, and it has held up well. However, I did not pull permits. I am planning on selling my home and concerned about this coming back to haunt me. Please help. -- John

A:...Read more

A bathroom without doors? A West Philly apartment tests the market

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

PHILADELPHIA -- Few phrases in home design inspire diverging opinions quite like "open-concept floor plan."

For decades, real estate agents and developers have pitched clients on the idea, arguing that flowing, wall-less spaces could be the solution for more natural light, more family togetherness, and more flexibility in how spaces are used. ...Read more

Oprah buys Jeff Bridges' Montecito ranch for $6.85 million

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Bridges has found a big-time buyer for his Spanish Revival-style compound in Montecito: Oprah Winfrey. The media mogul shelled out $6.85 million for the home -- the exact same price Bridges and his wife, Susan Geston, paid for it five years ago, records show.

Winfrey is adding to her stock of Montecito real estate while ...Read more

These cities have some of the happiest renters in the US

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When you think about renting in the Bay Area you might think of challenges like steep prices, low vacancies and endless apartment hunts. But a new report suggests you might be wrong.

A new study from Zumper, an apartment search platform, suggests that the Bay Area has some of the happiest renters in the country. For the 2019...Read more

Carla Fried: High-deductible health plans: How to think about your true costs

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If you have health insurance through an employer, chances are the premiums are a big -- and growing -- line item in your household budget. The independent, non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average household with family coverage pays more than $500 in monthly premiums. Over the past 10 years, the workers' share of family ...Read more

Carla Fried: Your financial adviser's job No. 1: Protect you from yourself

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

There are plenty of good reasons to seek out the help of a financial adviser. Your personal-finance plate is likely quite full: Save for retirement. Save for emergencies. Save your sanity when staring at college cost estimates.

A good pro will of course be able to help you sort through your financial life and develop a plan for how best to ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Scams heat up during Medicare open enrollment

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Medicare open enrollment is ongoing and ends Dec. 7. And you better believe the scammers know it.

Maybe it's someone making a call, claiming to be from your insurance company and demanding information on the spot. Some scammers say you'll need to buy a gift card or wire money soon so that you won't lose your health care benefits. Others are ...Read more

JPMorgan's Dimon laments income inequality, won't assail CEO pay

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

WASHINGTON -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called U.S. income inequality a "huge problem," but he stopped short of saying America's top executives were being paid too much.

In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes," Dimon said he is optimistic about the economy and admitted that his high-profile job ...Read more

Apple co-founder says Goldman's Apple Card algo discriminates

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

NEW YORK -- Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., two of the most recognizable companies in tech and finance, are caught up in a growing debate over whether lenders unintentionally discriminate when they use complex models to determine how Americans borrow money.

On Saturday, Bloomberg reported that a Wall Street regulator had opened a probe...Read more

Hot Property: A 'Very Brady' sale in Malibu

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- "Brady Bunch" actor Barry Williams, who has been busy renovating his former TV home on "A Very Brady Renovation," has sold his oceanfront home in Malibu for $5.82 million.

Found within celebrity-popular Malibu Cove Colony, the two-story beach house features high ceilings and walls of windows that take in sweeping ocean views.

...Read more

Vanguard cut fees, this time on 15 S&P and Russell index-based ETFs

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Just when you thought ETF expenses couldn't go any lower, Malvern-based investment giant Vanguard has slashed expense ratios on 15 S&P and Russell index-based ETFs, according to its latest annual reports.

While assets in the 15 ETFs grew over the funds' fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, expenses fell. Some of the annual expenses dropped by ...Read more

States try to ferret out unnamed landlords

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- This small Hudson Valley city features sweeping river and mountain views, charming rowhouses and Victorian homes that are drawing young professionals looking for a break from high housing costs downriver.

But the sight of abandoned or dilapidated houses next to renovated ones is a reminder that the city's revival still faces ...Read more

'I just wanted to have it over.' Auction stalls for 350-year-old Connecticut homestead after 9 minutes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

FARMINGTON, Conn. -- The historic farmhouse in Farmington passed down by the Wadsworths for 350 years will be staying in the family, at least a little bit longer.

An auction in the backyard of the house at 107 Main St. Wednesday afternoon broke off after just nine minutes, after bidding stalled at $125,000, with just two bidders upping the ante...Read more

Real estate Q&A: Neighbor's landscaper killed my trees and city is dinging me. What can I do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: A while back, I read your article about tree trimming along a property line. Recently a new neighbor moved in and proceeded to overcut several palm trees near the property line. I even told his landscaper to stop and was ignored. Now, most of the palms are dead, and I received a code violation notice from the city. I asked him to take care of...Read more

Carla Fried: Hacks to boost your happiness

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

This column is normally all about saving and spending wisely. But isn't the greater goal of managing our finances to produce happiness?

If the pursuit of happiness were an Olympic event, the United States would be nowhere near the medal ceremony. In the latest World Happiness Report, the U.S. ranked 19th among more than 150 countries. (For ...Read more

I've covered California's housing crisis for years. Living it is a different story

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

My move from Sacramento to Los Angeles began with acceptance. My rent was going to go up -- and it was going to go up a lot.

For close to four years, I've been writing for The Times about California's housing affordability problems. I've worked in the paper's bureau in Sacramento, focusing on government's response to rising home prices, rents ...Read more

Airbnb bans 'party houses' after California killings

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Airbnb plans to rid the short-term rental website of "party houses," the CEO announced after five people died in a shooting at an Airbnb party house outside of San Francisco on Halloween night.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a series of tweets that the company will crack down on such rentals, marking a shift away from the company's standard ...Read more

Carla Fried: Is lifestyle creep ruining your retirement plan?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Retirement planning is often reduced to a singular call and response.

Retirement?

Save more!

Increasing your savings rate will, obviously, land you in retirement with a bigger nest egg. But it may not be enough. You may also need to reduce spending to both bolster your savings and reduce the ultimate shock of a smaller retirement income.

The...Read more

Apple pledges $2.5 billion to address the state's affordable housing problem

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Apple said it will direct $2.5 billion toward affordable housing in California, the latest tech giant to pledge money to one of the state's most pressing problems.

The announcement, made Monday, follows similar big pledges this year from Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which put money toward housing in its home base of Seattle. And it comes ...Read more