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Susan Tompor: 5 things to know about IRS Letter 6419 and the child tax credit

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Parents are flooded with paperwork every single day of the year. But this year, they absolutely want to keep track of one key letter — Letter 6419, to be sent to you by none other than the Internal Revenue Service.

Do not throw this letter away. Keep this letter with all of your other important tax paperwork, including your W-2s. Repeat, keep...Read more

Lynda M. Gonzalez/TNS

California transplants overwhelming other housing markets? Maybe not

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The pandemic may not have spawned an all-out urban exodus, but it has driven some residents of America’s most populous state to seek shelter elsewhere.

California, with its increasingly unaffordable locales and worsening housing shortage, had a net population loss of about 173,000 people between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. Move-outs weren...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Will my heirs be responsible for home loan I cosigned for my son?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I cosigned a home loan for my son. Will my wife or other heirs be responsible for the debt if he defaults after my death? —Carl

A: Last week, we discussed that a home loan is split into two parts, the promissory note where the borrowers promise to repay the loan and the mortgage that uses the home as collateral to make sure the loan is ...Read more

Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS

Selling the dream: How one real estate agent takes to the water to show off South Florida mansions

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

On a recent Saturday afternoon, real estate agent Bonnie Heatzig was escorting her clients, visiting from Washington, D.C., on a tour of luxury properties in Boca Raton.

But instead of stepping into her car for the start of the tour, they hopped into her family’s boat for a sunny two hour jaunt around Boca’s waterways and exclusive ...Read more

Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/TNS

Relief or 'poor tax'? Companies offer an alternative to apartment security deposits for Florida renters

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

TALLAHASSEE — As rents skyrocket, startup companies are touting what they consider to be a helpful solution to hefty security deposits pricing Floridians out of apartments.

Instead of forking over an upfront security deposit, tenants can agree to pay a monthly fee — typically about $25.

But there’s a catch: The money isn’t refundable ...Read more

Dania Maxwell/TNS

Sales of existing US homes drop for first time in four months

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Depressed housing inventory curbed U.S. sales of previously owned homes at the end of the strongest year since 2006, and a recent spike in mortgage rates risks a further tempering of purchases.

Contract closings decreased 4.6% in December from the prior month to an annualized 6.18 million, figures from the National Association of Realtors ...Read more

CHRIS DELMAS/Getty Images North America/TNS

Susan Tompor: Rapid rise in mortgage rates startles homebuyers; blame inflation fears

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

All the big unknowns surrounding the rapid jump in inflation — including how high consumer prices will go and how quickly the Fed will raise interest rates — have put the mortgage market on high alert in early 2022.

"Rates have gone up rather quickly and there's still a little upward movement going on," said Keith Gumbinger, vice president ...Read more

Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS

Florida condo collapse drives Fannie Mae to toughen loan standards on older buildings

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Buying a condo in an older South Florida high-rise? For people who want to finance their deal, it’ll be getting tougher to take out a loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises that make mortgages available to low- to moderate-income borrowers.

Reacting to last year’s tragic collapse of the Champlain ...Read more

Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: GM teams up with Marcus by Goldman Sachs for new digital-friendly credit card

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

General Motors, which first introduced its branded credit card 30 years ago, is moving to a new digital platform and partnership with Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

"Points earned today can be redeemed tomorrow," John Lazzati, managing director for consumer cards at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, said in a press call last week, announcing the major change....Read more


Black resident mortgage applications nearly twice as likely as whites to be denied

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A new study by the real-estate firm Zillow found that nearly 20% of Black mortgage applications nationwide were denied in 2020, nearly twice the rate of white applications.

Nationwide, the study found that Black mortgage applicants were turned down 84% more than white applicants, up from 74% in 2019.

While 20.5% of Black mortgage applications ...Read more

Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: Child tax credit money a no show in January; look for IRS letter instead

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many parents might be looking for money from the child tax credit payment this January but they're not going to see it arrive Jan. 15 or shortly afterwards.

What's more likely to show up is a tax letter from the Internal Revenue Service related to the child tax credit. Don't pitch it.

You might not be expecting to see a notice from the IRS but...Read more

TYGER WILLIAMS/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Vanguard CEO, top execs offer lackluster stock market forecast for 2022 and beyond

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Vanguard CEO Mortimer "Tim" Buckley and two top strategists at the firm said investors should expect the stock market to post far more modest returns over the coming decade compared with recent years while offering a guarded but positive outlook for the global economic recovery.

Over the next decade, investors should expect 2% to 4% U.S. equity...Read more

Ting Shen/Pool Via CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

FHFA nominee pledges to address racial homeownership gap

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Senate Democrats on Thursday pressed Sandra Thompson, the president’s nominee to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency, on how to leverage the agency to close the racial gap in homeownership.

Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Thompson would have a major role to play in closing the gap, as well as preserving affordable ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Consumer prices up 7.5% in the Midwest over the past year; faster than nation

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Sticker shock in the Midwest continued at a slightly faster pace than the rest of the nation.

The consumer price index jumped by 7.5% in December from a year ago in the Midwest. That was the highest spike for all regions of the country.

By contrast, the CPI soared 7% in December for the country from a year ago — reaching a nearly 40-year ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Will father's estate be responsible for mortgage on house co-owned with joint tenant?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: My father had a deed recorded that makes him and his friend co-own a house as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. He named me as the executor of his will. The property has a mortgage that is only in my father’s name. If there is still money owed on the mortgage when he dies, and his friend gets the house, will his estate get stuck ...Read more

Anda Chu/The Mercury News/TNS

This Northern California mayor wants to give everyone a right to housing

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As swelling homeless encampments continue to overwhelm California, one big city mayor has a bold idea: A legal mandate that would force governments to house each and every one of their residents.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg is pushing a “right to housing” ordinance in Sacramento that he hopes will spark similar measures throughout California. ...Read more


Single and looking to rent? This Kansas city is nation's most affordable, study says

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Wichita is the most affordable U.S. city for a single person to rent an apartment, an analysis of 1.2 million studio apartment listings has concluded.

The RentHop Singles Index ranks cities based on the median cost of a studio apartment relative to the average salary of single people who live there.

Researchers for the apartment rental service...Read more

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/TNS

California has a new COVID-19 mortgage relief program. Here's how to get help

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Federal COVID-19 relief dollars have already helped more than 140,000 California renters pay the debt they accrued to their landlords during the pandemic.

Now, the state is offering similar relief to qualified homeowners who’ve fallen behind on their mortgages. The new California Mortgage Relief program will pay up to $80,000 worth of ...Read more


Susan Tompor: Jackson Hewitt Online launches $25 flat fee; others pitch free

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Do-it-yourself types who are looking for a deal for online tax preparation are seeing plenty of promotions.

It's a marketing battle of the free online tax deals among some big names. But you're going to need to review the restrictions and rules to figure out just what deal actually saves you money and what doesn't.

Gig workers or self-employed...Read more

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

A tiny home transforms this Calif. backyard into a WFH retreat

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Nearly 30 years after purchasing a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Santa Monica, California, Michael Solomon and Naomi Lieberman turned their attention to their backyard, where they hoped to add a guesthouse that would accommodate their family and friends.

In what seems ...Read more