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As long as there are fools, there will be scams (access required)

I'm a barber who loves your column and listens to lots of bad-luck stories. Your October column about the church people who invested $9,000 in 1,000 U.S. $1 silver certificates prompts me to ask why so many financial scams work. A customer told me he had lost $17,000 in an oil drilling partnership that had promised him a 32 percent return. Another invested $7,000 in Iraqi dinars, losing it all, and a bowling buddy lost $11,000 trading stock options.

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Time share purchasers feeling duped (access required)

My husband and I were in Las Vegas and made a horrible mistake in sitting through a time share presentation so that we could obtain half-price tickets to a show. The presentation was at an office on The Strip. Unfortunately, I did not research the company before the presentation. The salesman gave only his first name and had no business card. That should have been a clue about the company.

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Bigger houses becoming popular again (access required)

For many years, consumers were purchasing ever-larger homes. Then about five years ago, the trend turned to smaller homes. Today, there's yet another shift, back to larger homes. "Homeowners are desiring bigger spaces again, following five years of downsizing trends,” it was stated in a recent article published by the National Association of Realtors.

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Thou art thy brother’s (house) keeper (access required)

I have a question regarding a rental house that my brother and I jointly own. The house was our parents' home and was willed to both of us several years ago. The mortgage was paid off. We have a joint checking account in which we originally deposited $5,000, and we use the account for all house transactions. We have been leasing the home for $1,300 per month, and until recently we each took $600 a month out of the account. Due to taxes, insurance and maintenance, the original balance in the joint checking account is gone and the monthly $1,300 income is not enough to maintain the house and still provide a monthly $600 payout to both of us.

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Beware the rising stock (access required)

I am convinced the Standard & Poor's 500 is headed to 1600 or higher this year. I've completed these (enclosed) detailed calculations, concluding the S&P 500 will earn $107.42 and trade at 15.1 times earnings. Then by extrapolating these numbers, I place the Dow Industrials at about 15,864.

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Ex-wife accused of doing dirty deed (access required)

Some time ago I entered into a sales contract with my then-fiancee to buy a house. Both our names (hers was in her maiden name) were on the sales contract, which we both signed. I turned over my half of the down payment, we went to closing and we owned the house (or so I thought).

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Know your rights for canceling PMI (access required)

I want to get the PMI off my mortgage in February of next year, which will be two years from the time of my refinancing. All my payments have been on time. I have communicated with my current mortgage company that I wish to have the PMI canceled, and they informed me in writing that I have to wait for two years and that I have to get an appraisal, which I have to pay for, in order to make sure I will have 20 percent equity of the new appraised value.

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Housing prospects look good for 2013 (access required)

Sure, there are well-publicized negative factors that influence the housing recovery. But there are also very strong positives that are more apt to dominate the path of recovery in 2013 and beyond. Increasingly, economists are changing their signs on the recovery path, from "Danger, muddy road ahead" to "Prepare for good times."

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Buffalo nickels don’t make cents as investment (access required)

The Federal New York Mint is selling 1-pound bags of silver-clad Buffalo nickels of various dates for $49, which includes a free stone arrowhead with each order. If there are approximately 45 to 50 nickels per pound (my guess), and if silver-clad Buffalo nickels are worth an average of 75 cents each, about $35 per bag, then this sounds like a great investment.

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