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May 2009 Archives

  • What's the Internet say your home is worth?

    Query Quoted
    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on May 30, 2009 9:00 AM


    Pop quiz: How much is this trailer worth? Answer at the end of this post.

    We’re asking sources in the Public Insight Network to help us out on a research project, and we’re asking all you Marketplace Money listeners to help out, too. (For some background, check out Tess’ interview about why people use sites like Zillow in this economy on this weekend’s Marketplace Money with Nic Retsinas, Director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.) We want to know how home appraisal web sites have changed from the boom times to the lean times today. And we need lots of you to help.

    But just to give you a flavor of what we’re hearing from you as we gather data, here’s a look under the hood:

    Dan Fitzgerald of Warren MI is trying to refinance his home. He checked his home value on and observes,

    If Cyberhomes is right, I’m about 40 percent upside-down on my mortgage. Good thing I don’t need to move unless GM goes out of business…uh, oh…

    Andrew Kubik of San Diego, whose online home estimates ranged from $967K to $1.1 million, uses data from these sites to reduce his property taxes:

    In California, we can apply to have our property taxes temporarily reduced under proposition 8. So I use Zillow to get recent comparable sales and parcel numbers to complete my form. I got my tax base lowered from $1,140,000 to $1,090,000 in 2008 (for tax bill savings of $500), and have applied to have it lowered to $950k for 2009 based largely on current listing in my area and other information garnered from

    And to answer the pop quiz at the top of the post…

    Continue reading What's the Internet say your home is worth?.
  • Do you have the guts to start a business in the recession?

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on May 29, 2009 1:38 PM

    Some might say that a recession is a tough time to start a business, but to others there’s no better opportunity. After all, if you can make a business idea succeed NOW, you’re clearly doing something right…. right?

    Marketplace wants to know if you’re taking the small business plunge. Do you dream of IPOs, or are you creating a business to simply provide income and stability for your family? Maybe you’re filling a niche where you see opportunity, or turning a passion or hobby into a business. Maybe having your own business is the key to a happy retirement, or to having a greater sense of control in a turbulent economic time.

    Got a story about what it’s like to start a business in the middle of this recession? Tell it here.

  • What does the Internet say your home is worth?

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on May 23, 2009 10:00 AM

    And how do you feel about what it tells you? Go here to dive right in.

    But if you need a little more info to entice you, keep reading:

    At Marketplace Money, we’re trying our hand at a crowdsourcing project. We need your help to understand the variances homeowners are finding with the results given by home appraisal websites like Zillow, Trulia, Roost, etc. We want to know if people are using these sites in new ways while the market is down, as opposed to the “how much money could I make if I sold now…?” daydreams homeowners were having on these sites a year or two ago.

    We want you to visit some home appraisal sites, test out your home’s address, and then use this link to report what you find. We also want to know why you may have used these sites in the past, and how you feel about them. Thank you!

  • How are you and your credit card doing?


    Today President Obama is expected to sign into a law a bill that will change the relationship between credit card companies and their customers. But we’ve heard from people in the Public Insight Network, that the recession has already forced them to change how they use credit. What about you?

    Tell us how your credit habits are changing.

  • What's YOUR American Dream?

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on May 12, 2009 1:53 PM

    NAD.jpgThis week Marketplace and other American Public Media programs are exploring the history and the future of the American Dream. The Public Insight Network helped in our reporting by helping us refine some of our ideas, and we even found some sources there.

    But the story doesn’t end this week. Tell us about your particular American Dream, and become a source for public radio’s ongoing reporting on the recession, sustainability, and our changing personal economies.

  • Post-layoff, did you burn bridges or stay in touch?


    Through the Public Insight Network we’ve heard lots of stories and met many people who have girded themselves for layoffs, and many for whom the dreaded pink slip appeared.

    But what happens after the layoff? Talk to us.

    Getting laid off can be an isolating experience during which it’s easy to lose touch with coworkers and a company that may have had an important place in the employee’s life. But some laid-off employees are staying in touch with former coworkers and their old company through online social networks.

    Sonja Cole of Montclair NJ got laid off from a publishing company in February. She’s been a social media ninja ever since:

    Facebook has been great for staying close with people I used to work with because so many of us were laid off at the same time, it felt like we all just scattered. With sonja.jpg Facebook I can keep in touch with people who still have jobs at my old company (who might be able to hire me back), and it helps me keep in touch with the other people who were laid off with me, give them moral support and help with their job search if I can. Twitter has been a great way for me to let people know about my own business that I am trying to get off the ground now. I follow everyone I can find from my old company to let them know about my new business and try to develop leads that way.

    If you’ve been laid off, how have you kept up relationships with your former employer, or your coworkers? Did you burn bridges, or leave on good terms? If you have any experience staying in touch via social networking or a “corporate alumni community,” what’s that like?

    Respond here to keep your response private to the newsroom, or just hit us up in the comments for the whole world to read your sordid tale.

  • Is the recession cramping your prom style?


    Prom shoes.jpg (Photo: St0rmz)

    Prom season is upon us. But so is a recession. Schools, businesses, and students are all making concessions to squeezed wallets.

    What about you? Do you have a killer tip for how to save money on that dress or tux rental? Did your school opt for the high school gym instead of renting a hall? Got a thrift store find you can’t wait to unveil at the dance? Marketplace wants to hear your recession prom story.

  • Good News Friday: The ten best things about swine flu

    This week we’ve been asking people in the Network how they’re handling the swine flu alerts — and if they work in public health, how they gauge the situation. Some people are sobered, some see very real potential downsides to their personal or business lives, and others have lots of advice. But amongst it all, there’s some good news:

    1) 3M masks.jpgRespirators are selling like hotcakes. Not bad for 3M, one of the world’s largest producers of medical masks. Industrial hygenist Elizabeth Tobias of Minneapolis wants you to know: “More expensive is not better. If it’s a respirator and it states NIOSH N-95 - then the protection is all the same. The difference is in optional features or models to accommodate different facial structures/features.”

    2) Good PR for the Boy Scouts. How many times have I heard “be prepared” this week?

    3) Falling out of favor ever since the invention of the refrigerator, the pantry gets fashionable again. Where are you going to put all that rice, B&M beans and canned veggies? The larder!

    4) Better manners. Aren’t we all supposed to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we sneeze or cough anyway?

    5) Mormons get it right. The LDS church is famous for encouraging its members to lay in a year’s supply of food and essentials. A lot more people than just Mormons are looking for that expertise right now.

    Continue reading Good News Friday: The ten best things about swine flu.

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