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House Calls: Choosing a Broker

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: I am taking your advice to interview three agents before picking one to sell my home. Do you have advice about how to judge them when they get here? -- F. I.

Answer: Those initial interviews will cost you nothing, and you won't be obligated in any way. Even if you like the first one who calls, keep all three appointments before ...Read more

Art of Design: A Paler Shade of Gray

Consumer / Art of Design /

Over the last five to 10 year years, designers and homeowners have seen a shift in the go-to neutral color for walls and in interior design more broadly. The color has shifted from beige to linen white and now to various shades of gray. A pale shade of gray works well not only for walls but for flooring, fabrics and home accessories, too.

The ...Read more

Hot Property: Adding an Old Hollywood trophy

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- After spending much of the last year changing spots in Santa Barbara County, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are turning their attention back to L.A.

In recent weeks, the entertainment power couple has bought a Beverly Hills home steeped in Old Hollywood history for $15 million. They've also quietly sold another home in the ...Read more

Tariffs could cost you more to remodel your home

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Thinking about remodeling your home -- redoing a bathroom or the kitchen? Or maybe purchasing a new home from a builder? Or simply buying new appliances?

Then get ready to dig deeper into your wallet as the Trump administration's new $200 billion in tariffs begin to flow through to hundreds of the products that go into your ...Read more

1 in 3 Bay Area renters have less than $1,000 saved

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Nearly a third of Bay Area renters are one financial emergency away from missing a rent payment -- and potentially getting slapped with an eviction notice, according to a recent survey.

Twenty-nine percent of renters in the San Francisco metro area don't have enough money saved to cover an unexpected expense of $1,000 or more, according to new ...Read more

Bay Area migration means high incomes in, low incomes out

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

In the Bay Area, the poor are moving out, the wealthy are moving in and gentrification is picking up steam.

The region had the highest income disparity between newcomers and out-going families of any major city in the country between 2010 and 2016, according to a new study by BuildZoom and UC Berkeley.

The rising cost of housing is driving low...Read more

Here's How: Using the Proper Sandpaper Makes the Job Easier

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I have been trying to clean up and refinish some of the hardwood trim in my older home. I went to the home center store to buy sandpaper, but there are so many types. Which is best for what? -- Randy T.

Dear Randy: The sandpaper aisle at the home center store can be a bit overwhelming, sometimes even for professionals. It could be ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Readers Need to Know: Pay Down Debt or Invest? and Help! Horrible Odor in Leather Couch

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I love it when readers send me their questions. Today I pulled the following letters from the EC mailbag.

Dear Mary: We are better off than most. We have no credit card debt. We have several hundred dollars in cash stashed away in a safe in our house. And we have about $5,000 in savings. Our 401(k) accounts and Roth IRAs have a total value of ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: What happens to my timeshare when I die?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I was wondering what happens to my timeshare when I die. I have been trying to put my affairs (in order) to avoid my family having an issue after I pass. Thanks. -- Anonymous

A: Planning for the inevitable is one of the kindest gifts you can give those whom you leave behind. Dealing with a probate estate is time-consuming and expensive, as ...Read more

Self-driving cars are coming, but developers aren't reducing parking yet, survey finds

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Self-driving cars may be inevitable, but few office developers want to spend money preparing for the changes they will bring.

That's the conclusion of a recent survey of real estate professionals, despite the expectation that ride sharing and autonomous vehicles will drive down the need for parking in the decades ahead.

Most office developers ...Read more

Near Wrigley Field, it's construction season again — and the neighborhood's Taco Bell is down to its last out

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' shorter-than-expected postseason means it's time for another newfound rite of passage near Wrigley Field: the off-season construction zone.

Already years into a wave of real estate development, the neighborhood is about to experience more change.

That includes the looming demolition of Taco Bell's 24-year home across the ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Should mortgage borrowers escrow taxes and insurance or pay them on their own?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Mortgage lenders generally require borrowers to include taxes and insurance premiums in their monthly mortgage payments. The additional payments are placed in escrow until the payment dates when the amounts due are paid by the lender.

While mortgages are priced on the assumption that tax and insurance payments are escrowed, some borrowers can ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Should mortgage borrowers escrow taxes and insurance or pay them on their own?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Mortgage lenders generally require borrowers to include taxes and insurance premiums in their monthly mortgage payments. The additional payments are placed in escrow until the payment dates when the amounts due are paid by the lender.

While mortgages are priced on the assumption that tax and insurance payments are escrowed, some borrowers can ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Crash Course for College Freshmen

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

All across this great country, college campuses have welcomed a new class of freshman. These young people arrived with a lot of things, but financial literacy was likely not one of them.

If I could spend a little time with these awesome students, this is what I would attempt to cram into their heads and then pray that it penetrates their ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Best Sweet Corn Tricks Ever Plus More Great Reader Tips

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Last week's mail certainly proved my theory that we have the best expert community going on here at Everyday Cheapskate. Even better, we're willing to share.

MICROWAVE CORN ON THE COB

Dear Mary: I wish to share a sweet corn trick with you and your readers that allows you to cook fresh corn in the husk in the microwave. Cut through the husk ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Social Security and Medicare scam calls heating up: What to expect

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Hang up and keep hanging up. Or better yet, just don't answer.

Scammers are hitting mobile phones and landlines with all sorts of wacky pitches -- including false claims about what you need to do to get a new Medicare card.

"The best thing you can do is not answer calls you are not familiar with," said Mark Fetterhoff, a senior program ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: 3 Money Savers That Will Pay for Themselves Over and Again

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I have to admit to being a bit of a gadget freak. I'm drawn to tools and devices that do cool things. And when I discover that cool includes being a money saver, that turns a purchase into an investment with a guaranteed rate of return.

Here are several items I've found that can save a lot of money and whose cost you can generally recoup in ...Read more

House Calls: Buyers Should Think of Future

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We have read your column for several years while we are renting, and now we are ready to look at houses to buy. We have a real estate agent we like, but it would be great if you could send us some advice now that we're starting to look. We appreciate any advice. -- D. G. and R. G.

Answer: You may be sure about what kind of home ...Read more

Hot Property: Another notch in his tool belt

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Comedian and television personality Adam Carolla is wrapping up one home project and moving on to the next. He's put his Midcentury Modern-style spread in La Canada Flintridge on the market for $3.395 million and bought a fixer-upper in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood for $1.4 million.

Carolla, who hosted the show "Catch a ...Read more

Americans' credit scores hit record high

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- 704! That's the new, record-high average FICO credit score among millions of Americans, and it's positive news for home buyers, sellers, lenders and the economy overall.

What it signifies, according to Ethan Dornhelm, FICO's vice president of scores and analytics, is that 10 years out from the housing bust and the global financial...Read more