Tips for Using Reviews when Shopping Online

For years, our main piece of advice on using reviews has been to look at a variety of sources, including well-known websites that have credible and impartial expert reviews. That’s still a very good place to start. But here are some other tips for using online reviews and deciding when to be skeptical:

  • When you search for a product online beware of the first few sites that come up as some of them may say (ad) and could be an article written by the manufacturer of the product saying great things about the product.  This is not an independent review but an infomercial trying to help sell the product.
  • Check how recent the reviews are, watch for a burst of reviews over a short period of time. That can sometimes mean the reviews are fake.
  • Check if the reviewer has written other reviews. If so, read those to get a better sense of how much to trust that reviewer. But if it seems that the reviewer has created an account just to write one review for one product, that review may be fake.
  • Don’t assume that, just by looking, you can spot the difference between a real review and a fake one. Some reviews may look suspicious, and some may look real, but it can often be nearly impossible to tell for sure. For example, you already know to watch out for reviews that seem too positive to be real, but some fake positive reviews give less than the highest possible rating in order to seem more credible.
  • Remember that fake reviews are not always positive. Sometimes, a company might post fake negative reviews to harm a competitor.
  • Always seek independent resources for a more balanced review of a product, i.e., Consumer Reports etc.

You won’t always know if a reviewer got something — like a free product — in exchange for writing a review. But, on some websites, you’ll see a label or badge next to the review that tells you the reviewer got an incentive. How you weigh those reviews is up to you.

* Excerpts from this article from FTC publications

Overcoming Financial Hardship to Buy a Home

Almost everyone was happy to see 2020 come to an end but, unfortunately, the pandemic continues.

For people who suffered from unemployment, reduced wages or lost commission income, the financial impact of covid-19 could linger even after the virus is under control. Renters who had planned to become homeowners can still work toward fulfilling their aspirations.

Read more…

How to find mortgage rates under 3 percent

The mortgage refinance market is swinging as lenders are dropping rates and homeowners are eager to get on the dance floor. Just as borrowers didn’t think the low mortgage rate party could get much better, United Wholesale Mortgage announced 2.5 percent interest rates for 30-year fixed purchase mortgages and refinances.

Read more…

CARES Mortgage Assistance

A new federal law put in place two protections for homeowners with federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE)-backed mortgages. Learn more about these options and if they’re right for your situation.

Read more…

4 Smart Reasons Why You Should Do Your Own Taxes

When you get your W-2 in the mail each year, it might fill you with a bit of dread. It’s time to call your accountant, wait in line some Tuesday night in March, and pay out a hefty chunk of your refund just to get someone to type your income and taxes paid into some computer software program. It all seems like a waste of time and money, with a thankless reward of handing over a check to the government at the end of it all.

Facing Foreclosure?

Scammers are targeting people having trouble paying their mortgages. Some claim to be able to “rescue” homeowners from foreclosures, while others promise to modify your loan – for a fee. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how to avoid scams that could make your housing situation go from bad to worse.

Read more…

7 first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid

It’s tough being a first-time buyer in today’s housing market.

Home prices are hitting record highs in many parts of the country, often selling for more than the asking price, and going from list to contract in a record 37 days, according to Redfin.

“We’ve never seen a faster or more competitive market,” says Redfin spokeswoman Rachel Musiker. “Basically this market isn’t for the faint of heart.”

Don’t make it even harder (or more expensive) for yourself by making these common mistakes:

Read more…