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Want higher CD yields? Say ‘oui’ to this investment (access required)

Like most of us, I am looking for higher yields on my certificates of deposit. I have a $7,000 CD, which paid 4.5 percent, that recently came due, and a neighbor, whose husband works in France for an American drug company, told me that they recently bought 300 shares of a French utility called GDF Suez, because it yields 9.2 percent.

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Beware when signing Form 4506 (access required)

I understand that when homebuyers sign closing documents, they are routinely required to sign a blanket form allowing the lender to access IRS records with no time limit. The form says not to sign it unless dates are specified on the form, but lenders routinely insist they be signed without any specification as to which years of IRS records are covered.

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Positive signs for the homebuilding industry (access required)

Solid gains in both single-family and multifamily housing production is reported by the National Association of Home Builders. Nationwide, housing starts rose 12.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units in December, according to newly released data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This is the highest level of new home production since June of 2008.

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‘Benefit base’ is key in annuity payouts (access required)

Your answer last month to CC in Vancouver, Wash., about taking $9,000 from his annuity for income confuses me. His adviser said that if he took more than 6 percent of his initial $112,000 investment, or $6,720, his annuity value would be reduced by the difference between the $9,000 he would take and the $6,720 he was allowed to take, or $2,820.

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Inspecting the inspector (access required)

We recently purchased a house that was built in the 1950s. Since moving in we found out that the house has had settling issues and had work done to shore up the foundation a few years back. There are numerous cracks in the interior plaster walls (ceiling, above doors and windows, closets), some of which have been filled in and painted over, others that are open.

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Broker’s no joker: Sell RAX shares (access required)

In the summer of 2009, I had $5,000 to invest in my individual retirement account, and my broker recommended I buy 500 shares of Rackspace US Inc. at $9, and I'm glad I did. The company is in San Antonio, and my husband and I have a friend working there who tells us how enthusiastic he is about this company.

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