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Real estate Q&A: Can our lender add insurance policy cost to our monthly mortgage bill?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Our mortgage was set up so that we directly pay the property taxes and insurance. Our insurance renewal bill went way up, and we did not have the funds to pay it, so it lapsed. Our lender must have found out because they bought an even more expensive policy and are tacking the cost onto our monthly mortgage bill. Can they do this? — Cathy

...Read more

Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News/TNS

Real estate scams are on the rise. Here's what you need to know

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Landlord Sonja Kluesener first suspected something fishy when three potential renters contacted her about the Zebulon home she’d just listed on Zillow, and there was a significant price difference.

In her ad, she’d listed the three-bedroom ranch-style cottage at $1,700 per month. But they reported finding a similar ad on another listings ...Read more

Jeffrey Epstein's estate settles racketeering suit with Virgin Islands AG

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

NEW YORK — The co-executors of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate have agreed to a $105 million settlement to resolve U.S. Virgin Islands’ racketeering claims against the late financier and corporate entities he controlled, a lawyer for the estate said Wednesday.

Under the terms of the deal, the estate and 10 Epstein-created entities will pay the ...Read more

Carline Jean/TNS

Mortgage rates drop to lowest level in almost two months

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Mortgage rates have dropped for the third week in a row, sending some relief to potential homebuyers.

The average 30-year fixed rate for a mortgage reached 6.49%, following a few weeks of decreases from the record highs of over 7% seen last month, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Mortgage rates declined again last week, ...Read more

Home prices drop for third straight month as US market cools

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The U.S. housing market pulled back even more in September, with prices slipping 1.2% from a month earlier.

It was the third straight decline for the seasonally adjusted measure of prices in 20 large US cities, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index.

The housing market suddenly started to cool this year, driven in part by higher ...Read more

US government to back mortgages of more than $1 million

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The federal government plans to back mortgages of more than $1 million, catching up with the dramatic rise in U.S. home prices in recent years.

The 2023 limit for mortgages on single-family homes in high-cost areas, such as parts of New York and California, will be $1.089 million, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a statement Tuesday....Read more

How to build wealth when you don't own your home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Darla Kashian recalls closing on her first home, then getting laid off the next day.

She was working at a startup company as the dot-com crisis began. Panicked, she took the first job offer she got. Kashian, who is now an RBC Wealth Management adviser, looks back and thinks she shouldn't have used all of her savings toward a down payment.

"I ...Read more

Matt Stone/Boston Herald/TNS

A heavy burden: Winter energy bills are going up, no matter how you heat your home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Winter heating bills will be higher this year for most homeowners, regardless of how you heat your home.

Residential customers will spend about 28% more to heat with natural gas than last winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, though gas prices appear to have stabilized somewhat since dramatic increases at the end of last winter.

...Read more

Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS

How to spend your FSA money before it expires at the end of the year

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A fitness tracker, gym membership, ergonomic chair, an air conditioner — if you didn't know your FSA or HSA may cover these items, you may not be getting the biggest bang for your buck out of these popular health care savings accounts.

Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts both allow people to squirrel away pretax money to ...Read more

Handout/TNS/TNS

Tax burden may rise for some seniors as Social Security benefits increase next year

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

It seems like such good news — Social Security benefits are going up 8.7% next year, thanks to inflation. But for a lot of people, their tax bill could go up, too.

That’s because tax rates on Social Security benefits are not changing with inflation.

Taxing Social Security benefits began in 1984 as part of a sweeping reform of the system. ...Read more

Is the South Florida real estate market crashing?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

2021 was a record year for real estate in South Florida, yet the last eight months of 2022 have been about the market slowing. Questions linger as to how bad the decline in the market is and whether it’s headed for a crash.

There’s little doubt that the market has slowed over the past six to eight months: closed sales are down as buyers ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: Does condo association have to pay for repairs after water leaked under slab?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: We had a water leak below the slab at our condo. We filed a claim with our insurance company which is paying for the repair. Our condo association won’t pay my deductible. Many residents have told me that since the leak was outside the condo, the association is responsible for the entire cost. What do I do? — Louis

A: Each condominium ...Read more

Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS

In LA, hidden armies of workers keep mega-mansions on the market

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

In Southern California, a mansion is a micro-economy.

Every luxury property has a developer who envisioned it, an architect who built it, an agent who sold it, and a deep-pocketed buyer who had to have it.

To run the place — to have the guests greeted, drinks poured, floors polished, windows washed, cupboards stocked, the perimeter secured, ...Read more

Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS

'Ghost homes' haunt Baltimore's housing market. City officials think they have a creative solution

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Stepping over needles on the sidewalk, Alexander Cruz walked up to the crumbling front stoop of a West Baltimore home. He craned his neck and looked through an open third-story window to see whether the roof had caved in yet.

Cruz’s company had a deal to buy this vacant rowhouse, one of at least 15,000 in Baltimore. He wanted to renovate it, ...Read more

Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS

California outlawed Section 8 housing discrimination. Why it still persists

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Robert Gardner said he knew it was time to move after he came home to find his Valley Village apartment broken into and ransacked.

He originally moved there for safety, a change the South L.A. native comfortably afforded on minimum wage because a coveted Section 8 voucher covered most of the rent.

But recently, Gardner noticed more drug ...Read more

Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press via ZUMA Wire/TNS

The nation's vacant homes present an opportunity -- and a problem

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With construction costs for new homes and interest rates soaring, vacant housing is drawing more attention as a shortcut to quickly getting more units on the market.

But whether vacant homes are a curse or an opportunity depends on where you live.

As housing affordability plummets and rents rise, putting more families with low incomes at risk ...Read more

ROBYN BECK/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS

Some states open college savings accounts for every newborn

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

States, cities and community groups that offer free money to families to jump-start college savings face a dilemma: The families most in need often fail to sign up.

To solve the problem, some states have transformed the accounts into automatic programs that help all families — especially the disadvantaged — imagine a college future for ...Read more

Alex Wong/Getty Images North America/TNS

Warren Buffett's portfolio: Here are the stocks Berkshire Hathaway is buying or selling

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Warren Buffett is arguably the world’s most famous investor, and his investment moves are closely followed. Each quarter, the company he runs, Berkshire Hathaway, discloses its current holdings to shareholders.

Here are some of the changes Buffett and his two investment officers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, made during the third quarter, ...Read more

As inflation boils, younger Americans face extra holiday spending pressures

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The hottest inflation in 40 years, decades-high financing costs and rising recession risks are dashing Americans’ hopes for the first normal holiday season in two years — and a recent Bankrate poll suggests younger Americans could experience the most stress.

Nearly 1 in 4 Generation Z and millennial holiday shoppers (or 24%; ages 18-41) ...Read more

6 ways to save money on holiday travel

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Holiday travel tends to be stressful, but this year, it may be even more financially so, thanks to inflation. According to a survey by Bankrate, only 43 percent of U.S. residents plan to travel for leisure purposes involving an overnight stay this holiday season. And of those who are traveling, 79 percent are modifying their travel plans due to ...Read more