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Consumer News and Advice Archive


Giving ‘Green’ Has New Meaning This Holiday Season

RISMEDIA, Dec. 18, 2007-More consumers are interested in environmentally conscious gift-giving, as the selection and quality of green gifts have improved and awareness has grown. According to a recent survey by Opinion Research Corp, about 58% of Americans are interested in receiving a green gift this year. ...


Why Buying Now Can Be a Smart Move

RISMEDIA, Dec. 17, 2007-Although much of the housing market is in a slump, this is still a good time for most to buy a home. ...


Can I contest my property taxes?

Many people do, mainly because determining value can often be tricky. This is especially true in a changing market when local prices either take off dramatically or plunge precipitously, like during the Texas oil bust of the 1980s. ...


Are special tax breaks available for historic rehabilitation?

Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the ...


Are victims whose homes are damaged by natural disasters granted any tax relief?

Damage, destruction, or loss of property from fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters are deductible from both state and federal income taxes. ...


Can I deduct improvements made to my home?

Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Your gain is defined as your home's selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation. ...


What is guaranteed replacement cost insurance?

The most comprehensive insurance policy is guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which will pay to rebuild your home even if the cost to rebuild is more than your policy limit. ...


What about a vacation home as an investment?

Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy. ...


Should I buy a vacation home?

The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market. Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end. That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes. They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well ...


Can an older homeowner who is cash poor but house rich use their home to tap into the equity?

Yes, but not so much by refinancing. A reverse mortgage is a better, and increasingly popular, option for older Americans to convert home equity into cash. Money can then be used to cover home repairs, everyday living expenses, and medical bills. ...


Can I refinance a home loan more than once?

You most certainly can. During the most recent refinancing boom, for example, many homeowners refinanced their home loans two or three times within relatively short periods of time because interest rates kept treading downward, making it extremely attractive to trade in one loan for another. ...


Newly Designed Attic Vent Prevents Wild Fire Embers from Entering Home

RISMEDIA, Dec. 12, 2007-Brent Berkompas, founder of Brandguard Vents, knows first hand the destructive power of massive wildfire. As a firefighter, responding to the 2003 and 2007 Southern California wildfires, Berkompas noticed that fire embers were a significant cause of fire damage, attacking the structures at their most vulnerable points...the ...


Regional Spotlight: Tax Rebates Await N.Y. Homeowners

By Jay Romano ...


When is the best time to refinance?

Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are two percentage points below their existing home loans. ...


Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?

It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But ...