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Credit card defaults on the rise as holiday bills come due

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Americans are defaulting on their credit cards at the highest rate in nearly a year. Experts blame the improving economy: Consumers are feeling more confident in their overall financial situations and they're loosening their purse strings because of it. That confidence led to higher retail sales through the holiday season, but the credit card ...Read more

Kushner's Deutsche Bank-backed property stung by tenant troubles

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

NEW YORK -- In a six-floor retail space near Times Square, the Guy Fieri restaurant has closed and construction hasn't begun on celebrity chef Todd English's food hall. A tourist attraction featuring a 1/87th scale model of New York City was behind on rent for two months as of December, according to loan documents.

It wasn't supposed to be this...Read more

Here's why banks aren't paying more for your savings … unless you're wealthy

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The economy continues improving, but here's one thing that's not: what banks pay ordinary savers for their deposits.

Since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has raised short-term interest rates five times, including last month. But for regular savers, those higher rates have barely budged what banks pay in deposit interest -- and ...Read more

Hot Property: Its guesthouse has a guesthouse

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Thomas Tull -- founder and former chief executive of Legendary Entertainment -- and wife Alba Tull have listed their 33-plus-acre compound in Thousand Oaks for sale at $85 million.

At that price, the private and gated estate in the North Ranch area is rubbing elbows with the high-priced mansions that are often associated with L.A...Read more

Susan Tompor: High-tech features on new cars drive up auto insurance rates

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

DETROIT -- The gee-whiz gadgets on new cars -- the backup cameras, the large touch screen controls, the blind-spot monitoring -- make us all feel a little safer about navigating the roads.

But high-tech, advanced safety features come at a fairly steep price, so they're driving up car insurance rates, too.

"If they're damaged, they're much more...Read more

On Philanthropy: 6 trends to affect philanthropic landscape in 2018

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

When it comes to the world of philanthropy, 2018 promises to be transformational. Pessimists are concerned about the impact of new federal tax laws, the increase in income inequality, and the growing need for critical social services. Optimists see more reason for hope, believing that we have entered the "golden age of giving."

Watch for these ...Read more

In the military? You may be eligible for a new retirement plan

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If you serve in the military, you may have an important decision to make in 2018: whether to stay in the current retirement system – the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan -- or opt into the new Blended Retirement System (BRS).

Once you make your choice, you won't be able to go back, even if you change your mind before the Dec. 31, 2018...Read more

Social media contacts help slash costs of yard makeover

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Anyone who wants to accomplish a water-wise yard renovation on a small budget should take a lesson from Happy Aston. When her family purchased a home in the College Area in 2015, Aston knew she'd need to make the front yard makeover a priority. The yard was filled with dying grass, weeds, yellow nutsedge and an ornamental pear tree.

Friends and...Read more

Real estate Q&A: It's legal for your neighbor to point camera at your front door.

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I live in a condo, and I have a neighbor whose front door directly faces mine. He has installed a video surveillance system on his door, and it records every time I open the door. I have asked him to take it down because it makes me extremely uncomfortable. He refused. I feel a loss of privacy, and I feel violated. Is this legal? -- Adrienne ...Read more

Tips on saving for a new home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to become a homeowner, now is the time to start a plan to save for that new dream house. While a 20 percent down payment is often no longer necessary, you'll still need a bit of savings even for lower rates in San Diego's pricey housing market. And keep in mind, a larger down payment might save you money ...Read more

Seattle-area rents drop significantly for first time this decade as new apartments sit empty

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SEATTLE -- Rents are dropping significantly across the Seattle area for the first time this decade, as a flood of new construction has left apartments sitting empty in Seattle's hottest neighborhoods.

The average rent across King and Snohomish counties dipped 2.9 percent in December compared with the prior quarter, according to a new quarterly ...Read more

New Bay Area housing trend: Living in the backyard

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The walls weren't even up yet on the granny flat Limei Huang is building in her San Jose backyard when people started lining up to rent the space.

The first offer came from the worker who laid the unit's foundation. After his day's work, he called Huang up and asked: When it's finished, can I move in? Not long after, Huang ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Taking an HECM reverse mortgage for a limited time

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

"I am interested in your opinion of the following plan: Take a HECM reverse mortgage on my home, which is worth $1,000,000 and will appreciate by 3.5 percent a year. I would draw on the HECM for cash to invest or monthly income, then sell the house after 12 years, repaying the HECM from the house appreciation."

Your letter points up the ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Taking an HECM reverse mortgage for a limited time

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

"I am interested in your opinion of the following plan: Take a HECM reverse mortgage on my home, which is worth $1,000,000 and will appreciate by 3.5 percent a year. I would draw on the HECM for cash to invest or monthly income, then sell the house after 12 years, repaying the HECM from the house appreciation."

Your letter points up the ...Read more

The Journey: Social Security numbers to know

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The 2 percent cost-of-living hike in Social Security benefits this year isn't the only number affecting workers and retirees.

Workers will pay more into the system – the taxable maximum rises to $128,400, an 8 percent increase from just two years ago.

Earnings thresholds for withholding benefits of recipients under full retirement age also ...Read more

Susan Tompor: How do you pay off all that credit card debt?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Like the holiday pounds, credit card debt doesn't just melt away -- especially after the latest binge.

The cold reality is credit card debt hit a record $1.02 trillion in November, according to figures released by the Federal Reserve. And Americans racked up on average $1,054 in debt to treat others -- and, frankly, themselves -- during the ...Read more

Hot Property: She hopes to be thigh-high in bids

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Finding no takers for her Palm Springs oasis, which has been on and off the market since 2008, Suzanne Somers is trying other means to squeeze interest into the 73-plus-acre property.

The actress -- and face of the Thigh Master exercise machine -- and her husband, producer Alan Hamel, are putting their longtime desert home up for...Read more

On the House: Which home renovations are worth the cost? Fewer than you think

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

When it came to real estate in 2017, the residential housing market had, in many ways, a banner year: Home prices across the nation surged to pre-recession levels, mortgage interest rates remained low, and the number of residential sales picked back up again after years of sluggish growth.

Overall, that meant the 2017 market was largely a boon ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: What can I do about my neighbor wasting water?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Our neighbor in our townhouse community wastes an excessive amount of water cleaning her sidewalk and driveway. We have asked her not to waste water, but she responds that it is covered by her maintenance dues, so there is no reason to worry about it. I am troubled by her waste of valuable resources. Is she allowed to get away with this? -- ...Read more

St. Louis Port Authority looks to use powers beyond riverbanks

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Port Authority wants to expand its boundaries beyond the 19-mile stretch of heavily-industrialized Mississippi River frontage to cover the entire city limits, a change that would let the port authority use its broad economic development powers anywhere in the city.

Under Missouri law, port authorities have wide ...Read more