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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

Solar panels, elevators, a dog shower? Here are 12 cutting-edge items for your next home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Shopping for a new home? It's not all about square footage, counter tops and closet size.

Homes are changing. You've got homework to do. Decisions to make. Some will affect your pocketbook for years. Others will improve your quality of life the day you move in.

And one ... well, it'll just make your pooch less smelly.

Here's a quick tour of ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Escrow taxes and insurance, or pay them yourself?

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: Escrow taxes and insurance, or pay them yourself?

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

Real estate Q&A: Mortgage loan is just in my name. What happens if I die before my partner?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I own my home with my life partner with "right of survivorship" and understand that if one of us were to pass, the other would solely own the home. However, the mortgage loan is just in my name. What happens if I die before him? -- Rochelle

A: There are many different types of mortgage loans, and each has its own rules and intricacies.

The ...Read more

Ask a landlord: An owner's take on the housing crisis, Prop. 10 and good/bad tenants

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- For Gustavo Gonzalez, being a landlord runs in the family.

His Mexican-immigrant parents own rental units in the Bay Area, and four of his five siblings are landlords too. It was Gonzalez's parents who encouraged him to buy his first apartment building about 20 years ago, when he was just 29. Now he owns or co-owns four ...Read more

The world's biggest real-estate bubbles, from Hong Kong to Toronto

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Chicago may be freezing cold for parts of the year, but it has one big advantage over global cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong: it's affordable.

The Windy City is the only undervalued housing market in a survey of 20 financial centers by UBS Group AG, partly due to its widely publicized fiscal problems and rents rising faster than ...Read more

Amazon was back in Chicago last month, as its search for HQ2 narrows

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Amazon was back in Chicago last month to take another look at a South Loop site along the river, as the e-commerce giant narrows its search for a planned second headquarters with up to 50,000 jobs.

In mid-August, members of Amazon's HQ2 site selection team made the return visit to Related Midwest's 62-acre planned development, called The 78, ...Read more

Here's How: Keep Front Door from Rubbing on Carpeting

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We had a home built and installed a fiberglass front door. When we open it, it hits the oriental carpet on the tile floor. How did this happen and what can we do other than cut off the bottom? -- Larry G.

Dear Larry: Unfortunately, the problem you are experiencing is all too common in new homes. The weatherstripping on the bottom of...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The One Thing We Need to Keep Going

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Encouragement. For me it is a basic need, or perhaps a character flaw. I'm not quite sure. All I know is that I need encouragement, and I need it often. I have a feeling that you do, too. This matter of getting out of debt, living below our means and learning how to manage our money can be a very discouraging proposition at times.

I want to be ...Read more

Southern California home prices rise 7 percent, though some say the market is slowing

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Southern California home prices kept rising in August, but sales fell as questions grow over whether the torrid housing market is finally cooling.

The median sales price in the six-county region rose to $535,000, up 1 percent from July, research firm CoreLogic said Wednesday. The median -- the point where half the homes sold for more and half ...Read more

Miami named worst city for renters in the U.S. for the second year in a row

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

MIAMI -- For the second year in a row, South Florida has been named the worst metro area in the U.S. for renters. A new study by the website Apartment List shows that 62.7 percent of renter households in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach in 2017 were cost-burdened -- which means they paid more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

That's ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Peaches: Tips, Tricks and a Recipe

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

And just like that, it's peach season. That's a big deal where I live, in northern Colorado. We love peaches! We've been enjoying Peach Street Fairs, the Palisade Peach Festival, peaches piled high in every store produce department and featured on nearly every restaurant menu.

FREESTONE OR CLING?

While there are many varieties of peaches, ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: 3 Ways to Earn Extra Cash for Christmas

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

It's still autumn but not too early to start planning for Christmas. If you're ready to make this year a debt-free Christmas, I've got three very useful ways to find the extra cash you'll need to do that.

Time is of the essence because Christmas will be here before we know it!

SWAGBUCKS

Swagbucks is an online rewards program that gives users ...Read more

The Journey: Minister enjoys retirement on modest pension, Uber gig

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As he prepared to celebrate his 80th birthday recently, Michael Halleen reflected on several career reinventions, including one he's making now.

Most days, the longtime minister wakes early and hits the streets of Minneapolis before 5 a.m. as an Uber driver, mostly for airport runs. He drives the early morning rush and then heads home to his ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Credit freeze: A misunderstood freebie that you actually want

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Just one year ago, consumers woke up and discovered that hackers had one heck of a field day with their Social Security numbers and other information in a massive data breach at Equifax.

Equifax's screwup would forever leave millions just that much more vulnerable to ID theft. Face it, it's not like you can change the locks on the side door. ...Read more