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Q&A: You'll likely get more money in your paycheck this month, thanks to tax changes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The new federal tax plan is now in effect -- and it's going to mean more spending money for most people, at least in the short term.

Most workers across the country will have less tax money withheld from their pay, now that the Internal Revenue Service has released new withholding tables and instructed employers to make adjustments.

How much ...Read more

An unusual Minneapolis update removes the kitchen island

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The starting point: When architect Bryan Anderson bought his 1924 bungalow in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood, he knew he wanted to make some changes. He'd bought the house from longtime friends, so he'd already spent a lot of time in the kitchen. "They had an annual Super Bowl party, and we'd stand around the island," he said. "For that it ...Read more

Hot Property: Encino sale hits it out of the park

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Former professional baseball player Jimmy Rollins has circled the bases on a record home sale.

A trust tied to the former Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop has bought a gated estate in Encino for $10.65 million, setting a new record for the community.

The sale price is also among the highest ever recorded ...Read more

New real-estate survey offers helpful insight for buyers and sellers alike

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- They are gnawing questions that many homebuyers inevitably ponder: What are my chances of getting the house I've fallen in love with at a price I can afford, which happens to be well below what the seller is asking? What are the odds that pesky contract contingencies, such as mortgage financing or the appraisal, could jeopardize my...Read more

Downtown San Jose's Google village takes major step forward with government property deals

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Google's village in downtown San Jose cleared a major hurdle on Wednesday with an agreement involving proposed prices for the sale of government-owned properties to a development venture led by the search titan.

"This is an important step forward. It is one step, but a vital step," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Wednesday....Read more

Bay Area home prices continue double-digit gains on historic streak

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Tight housing supply pushed Bay Area home prices higher yet again in December, extending year-over-year, double-digit gains for the fifth straight month -- and overall gains to an historic 69 straight months.

The median sales price for a single-family home in the nine-county region rose to $765,000 in December, up 13.8 ...Read more

Here's How: An Attractive Deck Can Be Built at Ground Level

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am planning some landscaping, which will include a deck. My backyard is level, so the deck will not be up on posts. Is it wise and possible to build a deck which is flush against the ground? -- Suzi H.

Dear Suzi: Adding a deck is probably the least expensive living area you can add to your home and it can be an attractive addition...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Use This for That

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

One of the best ways to recycle responsibly -- and save a few bucks at the same time -- is to find a second life for something you might otherwise toss in the trash. Some ideas are pretty well-known, like using plastic grocery bags for trash can liners and the lid from a liquid detergent container for a biscuit cutter. So, when a reader sends in...Read more

Steps to make moving less of a burden

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Congratulations! That brand-new house -- with the empty closets and the gleaming floors -- is all yours. Now all you have to do is move your stuff. Depending on how long you've lived in your last home, that could be a daunting task.

With a little preparation and a lot of organization, moving into your new home won't break the bank -- or your ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: If neighbor with emotional support animal doesn't follow rules, what can we do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Can an association make rules regarding "emotional support animals" -- such as excessive barking, noise, restricted to a certain area for doing their business, always on a leash, things like that. Our Co-op has a NO PETS bylaw, which we have not changed. These ESA owners claim they can do whatever they want and no rules apply. Is that true? -...Read more

This bank has committed $125 billion — yes, billion — to mortgages for Hispanics

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

MIAMI -- Any company with a 166-year-history is likely to have ups and downs. For banking giant Wells Fargo, the last few years have definitely been a low.

In 2016, following an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, the bank disclosed that its sales force had potentially created millions of fake accounts in order to meet sales quotas. The ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Case for Quartz Countertops

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

In a recent column, I suggested to a reader that quartz countertops would be a good choice in her quest to find the most durable and easily cared for option, because quartz doesn't stain, doesn't require any kind of sealant and cleans up like a dream. And it's cheaper than granite. In no time, I received this email response:

Dear Mary: I was in...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: How to buy a house before selling the one in which you live

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A homeowner who wants to exchange the house in which she lives for another one that better meets her current needs and capacities can save herself much grief and expense by buying the new house before selling the old one. Buying the new house first means having to move only once instead of twice. The downside is that financing a house purchase ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: How to buy a house before selling the one in which you live

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A homeowner who wants to exchange the house in which she lives for another one that better meets her current needs and capacities can save herself much grief and expense by buying the new house before selling the old one. Buying the new house first means having to move only once instead of twice. The downside is that financing a house purchase ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How to Fix a Bathmat That's Lost Its Anti-Slip Backing and More

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Got a slippery throw rug? A bathmat that's lost its backing after just one too many trips to the clothes dryer? Today's first reader can certainly identify.

I've got great news for both of you, and it's something you may have already that's sitting on a shelf in the garage.

Dear Mary: Is there any way to rescue throw rugs that have lost their ...Read more

Small Spaces: Flexible Guest Room

Consumer / Small Spaces /

There are many ways to create a flexible guest room. You can often grab inspiration from hotel rooms because they operate from the perspective of providing not only the obviously required bed but also a working desk, comfy seating and a TV. Maybe some of the surfaces are too harsh for home use, but you can adapt the basic ideas easily and turn ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Ask Me Anything: Lease or Buy Car, Laundry Detergent Confusion

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Pop quiz: What do car leases and laundry detergent have in common? Both can be confusing! Just ask today's readers, whose respective questions washed up in my inbox.

Dear Mary: My wife and I are having a disagreement. I want to lease a new car now, because ours is old and paying for repairs is like flushing money down the drain. She wants to ...Read more

House Calls: Office or Bedroom

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I'm enclosing two pictures. The first photo is the closet in our entryway. The second photo shows how the back of the closet is a wall shared with a 12-by-15-foot room that we use as a home office.

We're thinking about putting a door on the backside of the closet so it could be accessed from the office. We're thinking that this ...Read more

Millennials: Waterbeds are returning, and Bainbridge Island waterbed inventor wants you

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Millennials, the inventor of the waterbed has a message for you. Especially those of you living in the Pacific Northwest, like he does.

You need a waterbed.

Charlie Hall is 71 and a millionaire because of waterbeds and some of the other 40 patents he holds. (You know the Sun Shower, with the solar-heated bags that let you bathe when camping? ...Read more

Art of Design: Perfect For You

Consumer / Art of Design /

As a designer, I am often asked whether I like the interiors of the latest restaurant or the lobby of a hyped hotel. And when I am asked, I'm always cautious to answer. Not because I'm afraid to offend anyone, but rather because as a designer, my "likes" will possibly different. Since the 3rd Century BC in Greece, the expression "beauty is in ...Read more