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High housing costs are driving out lower-income Californians, reports say

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

California lost lower-income residents to other states over a recent 11-year period, while gaining wealthier households from elsewhere in the U.S. The disparity reflects the state's sky-high rents and home prices, according to several reports released Thursday.

The studies, produced by Beacon Economics for public policy nonprofit Next 10, ...Read more

Here's How: Using the Right Glue

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am planning some home improvement projects and many suggest using glue, but don't specify the type. My hardware store has about 50 types of glue. What type of glue should I use for what? - Kyle B.

Dear Kyle: Many do-it-yourselfers feel using glue on projects is the nonprofessional, easy way to assemble parts. Actually nothing ...Read more

Want the next hot houseplant? Better get to the garden center fast

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Spring is my houseplant-buying season.

Buying houseplants is my way of striking back after being made the brunt of a particularly mean, ugly joke by Chicago weather.

Quick confession: Spring is also my houseplant-buying season because I routinely kill houseplants in the winter (and at other times, but mostly in winter.) Whatever my reasons, ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: Ask a real estate pro: How can I make my community's board listen to my ideas?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I live in a beautiful community that is well maintained by the board and its various committees. All is great, except for the roads -- they are ugly with oil marks and patched areas. I have asked after this, but it does not seem to be a priority of the board of directors. How do I get the board to address this issue? -- Philip

A: Most people...Read more

Cook County selling nearly 3,200 vacant lots to encourage redevelopment

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO -- Continuing its quest to spruce up city and suburban neighborhoods, the Cook County Land Bank is putting 3,189 vacant lots up for sale.

The lots will be made available at below-market rates to individuals, developers and organizations. The land bank is hoping those who buy the properties will redevelop them in ways that meet community...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Is a homeowner better off with an FHA loan?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Assuming the same interest rate, is there any way in which a homeowner is better off having an FHA rather than a conventional mortgage?

A: Having an FHA mortgage is potentially advantageous to a homeowner if she intends to sell her house, and if market interest rates are significantly higher than they were when she borrowed the money to buy ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Is a homeowner better off with an FHA loan?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Assuming the same interest rate, is there any way in which a homeowner is better off having an FHA rather than a conventional mortgage?

A: Having an FHA mortgage is potentially advantageous to a homeowner if she intends to sell her house, and if market interest rates are significantly higher than they were when she borrowed the money to buy ...Read more

Seattle sued over law meant to help renters with criminal records get housing

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Seattle is being sued by landlords over a new city law that mostly prohibits them from screening rental applicants based on criminal records.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, some property owners claim the law violates their constitutional due-process rights by preventing them from protecting themselves and their existing tenants. They claim it ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Difference Between Safe Debt and Stupid Debt Is Huge

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Today, my dear readers, I have a question for you: Is there a difference between borrowing and financing? Don't stress. I'll tell you. There is, and understanding the difference is important to your financial health.

Debt is the result of both borrowing and financing. But think of debt as a rope. You can use it to lift, rescue and tie things ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Yet Another Brilliant Way to Use WD-40 Around the House

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

I had to laugh when I opened my mail to read how one reader was able to restore his shower doors to being so clean and sparkly they looked brand-new! I had a can of his remedy sitting right there next to my computer.

Hold on! It was NOT there to be used as a computer screen cleaner. (I've never tried it; I do not intend to; and I hope you do ...Read more

Small Spaces: Counterintuitive Advice

Consumer / Small Spaces /

As they say, the devil is in the details. Sometimes the secret to getting a small space to feel larger is based on confusing principles that generate questions. If you put thought and care into redoing a kitchen or bathroom, you will undoubtedly encounter such issues: How far to take a countertop? Where to stop a paint color? How high to make ...Read more

German coworking firm plans 100,000-square-foot flagship on Chicago's Magnificent Mile

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO -- A German coworking firm has opened its first U.S. office in Chicago, and will add a Mag Mile flagship as part of an ambitious expansion.

Berlin-based Rent24 recently opened an approximately 15,000-square-foot office in a loft office building at 444 N. Wabash Ave., taking over the space of a local coworking business that previously ...Read more

This company has a solution for pricey, empty apartments: Turn them into hotel rooms

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With thousands of new luxury apartments flooding the uptown market in Charlotte, a San Francisco-based startup has a possible solution: Turn some of them into hotel rooms.

Lyric has leased a whole floor of one of the two SkyHouse Charlotte apartment towers. The company is renting the fully furnished rooms to travelers, who ...Read more

Taxes filed, time to chill? Not so fast, says IRS

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The April 18 federal tax-filing deadline has come and gone. Your taxes are paid, and maybe you already have your refund in hand. Nothing to do now but sit back and chill for eight months or so, right?

The Internal Revenue Service respectfully disagrees.

Given recent changes in tax tables created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, IRS ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Best Inexpensive Laptop Computers for Students in 2018

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

If you or someone you love will be heading off to college soon, a laptop will be absolutely essential. But where to start? Nowadays, students' computers are just as important as their student ID. But where to start?

College is expensive enough, so it's important to shop smart. But not to worry. My EC team and I have done the hard part, figuring...Read more

House Calls: First-Time Buyers

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hello, Edith: Is there a way for us to access your recent article on financing for first-time homeowners? We enjoy your column and thank you for any information you can provide. -- S. and J.

Answer: More than 20 years ago, I wrote a book called "The Home Buyer's Kit." It went through several editions but is out of print now.

Recently, though, ...Read more

Art of Design: Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

Consumer / Art of Design /

Interior design and decorating are somewhat bound by rules developed overtime to regulate housekeeping, maintenance and aesthetics. Some rules are the result of etiquette and protocol from the days when those things mattered a lot, and your home spoke volumes about your education, wealth and social standing. Many consider these rules a thing of ...Read more

On the House: Across from Philadelphia's cheesesteak mecca, a South Philly neighborhood fights over its future

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The corner of Ninth and East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia is no stranger to crowds.

On game days, weekends, and warm summer evenings, tourists, celebrities, and Philadelphians alike flock to the intersection, seeking ribbons of steak oozing with cheese. Here, at this Passyunk Square junction anchored by Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's ...Read more

His son 'has been kidnapped.' How this elderly Delaware man was swayed by an 'impostor scam'

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If you've ever feared your elderly mother or father might be scammed over the phone, then consider the story of Arthur Halprin, 82, retired physics professor living in Newark, Del.

A "sharp cookie" and a brilliant teacher, say friends and family, Halprin was swayed by a flimflam aimed at the elderly, known as the "impostor scam."

One morning ...Read more

One of Charlotte's biggest developers is being bought out by a Japan-based company

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Charlotte-based Crescent Communities, one of the city's oldest and most prominent developers, said Friday that it's reached an agreement to be acquired by Sumitomo Forestry America, a subsidiary of a Japanese firm.

Crescent is the developer behind huge projects such as the 26-story Ally Center at Stonewall and Tryon streets, the 1,400-acre ...Read more