The Pandemic Is Changing Our Financial Lives, and What to Know About Refinancing Now

Welcome to NerdWallet’s SmartMoney podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

The pandemic is changing our financial lives and plans. Seven in 10 Americans say their household incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Harris Poll survey commissioned by NerdWallet. So it’s not surprising that most plan to take financial action after the pandemic ends, such as increasing their emergency savings and trimming nonessential spending. We’re also concerned about the home buying process. People worry whether it’s safe to tour potential homes and wonder if they could sell their existing homes. Many aren’t sure they could make mortgage payments or worry about tying up cash in a home purchase.

One of the few silver linings of the pandemic is lower interest rates, which has led to an increase in refinancing and to this week’s question from Sarah. She writes, “My husband and I … Read More

Hinsdale Woman Says She Was Scammed On Home Improvement Projects

HINSDALE, IL — Many suburban residents visit public Facebook pages to get recommendations on specialists in home projects. That’s how Megan Richards Martin, a public relations executive in Hinsdale, found someone to do work at her house. And she is sorry she did — she said she was scammed.

Martin was looking for someone to replace her fence, front porch, sidewalk and driveway on Oakwood Terrace. So she sought recommendations on the Hinsdale Area Moms Facebook group. And a person in the group led her to Ed Kavanaugh, an Elmhurst resident.

On April 6, Martin called police about the matter. According to a police report, Martin hired Kavanaugh of Elmhurst-based Goliath Construction in January and gave him $10,000 as a deposit. The company then removed the driveway and front porch. It also laid brick pavers for the front porch, but did not finish the project and never did any

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30 Easy Home Improvement Projects You Should Tackle This Summer

Summer can be the perfect time to refresh your home, both on the inside and out. And that’s especially true now — whether you plan to cash in on your vacation days for a staycation, or you’ll be working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can use that extra time for these easy home improvement projects.

Last updated: June 11, 2020

Give Your Doors a Fresh Coat of Paint

Painting your front door can give the exterior of your home a whole new look. Or, you can paint an interior door a contrasting color to give the room some more visual interest.

Expect to spend between $100 and $300 to paint an exterior door and between $50 and $200 to paint an interior door, according to HomeAdvisor.

Seal or Waterproof Your Deck

Get your deck in tip-top shape by sealing or waterproofing it. This DIY project costs

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L.A. County ends controversial PACE home improvement loan program

Los Angeles County has ended its controversial PACE home improvement loan program, a decision that follows years of criticism that the county enabled predatory lending and put people at risk of losing their homes.

County officials — who launched the PACE program in 2015 to fund energy- and water-efficient home improvements — said they made the decision after determining the program lacked adequate consumer protections.

Homeowners repeatedly alleged the private home improvement contractors who signed them up for PACE misrepresented how the financing would work, saddling them with loans they could not understand or afford.

The county also faced lawsuits alleging that government authorities failed to properly oversee the private lenders it partnered with to issue loans that, if unpaid, could lead to foreclosure.

The criticisms mirror complaints directed at other Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, programs across California that fund environmentally friendly home improvements such as solar panels,

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Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Wealthy but Not the Wealthiest Home Improvement Stars

Home improvement reality stars usually teach viewers how to save a buck on home renovation, selling, and buying. But most are making some bucks— a lot of serious bucks.

Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines
Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

For instance, Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper have become a household name for their no-nonsense, family-friendly approach to home transformations. For five years, the couple helped a slew of families create their dream home on a budget using their complementary approach to home building and design.

The couple has amassed a nice fortune in the process, each worth a cool $10 million apiece, according to GoBankingRates. In addition to their series, the couple’s vast company, Magnolia includes real estate, home improvement, and design services. With $20 million in combined wealth, the couple won’t have to worry about money. But they aren’t the wealthiest in the

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Should We Be Considering Home Improvement Stocks?

The home improvement duopoly has been thriving amid this stay-at-home initiative. Those home projects we “never had time for” before the quarantine have just made their way to the top of priority lists. With summer coming fast, society stuck at home, and Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW) remaining open, we have run out of excuses. Is it time to invest in these outperforming stocks? If we want in, how do we decide between LOW and HD?

Should We Still Consider Investing In Home Improvement?

The markets have priced in a good portion of the tailwinds that the “vital” home improvement giants have been a benefactor of. Both LOW and HD have outperformed the broader S&P 500, but have they run up too much? Is this boost in home improvement sales only a temporary jump?

Both Home Depot and Lowes reported year-over-year sales growth in Q1, boosted by the peculiar

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