How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Hacking

Half of the country is freaking out. That's about how many people are potentially affected by the unprecedented Equifax hack. If you're the average person who's afraid of having your data stolen - and by data, we mean your name, Social Security number, birth date, addresses, credit card numbers, and driver's license number that were reportedly involved in this breach - you may have already taken some steps to limit the damage. But what if you're in the process of buying a home or are getting ready to do so? How does this hack affect you, and what can you do to make sure you are protected?

Hurricanes, Homes and Heros

We were all glued to the television this past week as the destruction of hurricanes Harvey and Irma swept through the South.  It is likely personal for many of us.  We have family in Puerto Rico who gathered together to ride out the storm.  Fortunately, they are fine but we were extremely concerned. .  

The other thing that we saw on the television were heroes.  Americans of all races, creeds helping save lives without bias.  This is what is great about America.  It is my wish that we can build from this destruction on the goodness that was displayed.  So many organizations have stepped up to help: The National Association of Realtors, Rotary International and our local hero Direct Relief International.  Bless them all. 


For decades, the home mortgage interest deduction has been one of the most sacred of cows in the U.S. tax code. Now, Republicans crafting legislation to overhaul the federal tax system and cut rates are considering placing new limits on the home mortgage interest deduction. And thousands of Californians could feel the pain.

Making sense of the story:

  • Homeowners now are allowed to deduct interest paid on as much as $1 million of mortgage debt. Congressional Republicans and White House officials are looking at reducing the limit to $500,000, which would lead to billions of dollars more in federal revenue every year.
  • Homeowners still would be able to deduct interest on the first $500,000 of a mortgage, but would lose the deduction for interest paid on any amount above that level.
  • Most Americans would not be affected by such a change, either because they own their homes outright, their mortgages are less than $500,000, or they don’t have enough deductions to file an itemized tax return.
  • But in states with high earners and pricey real estate, reducing the mortgage interest deduction would force hundreds of thousands of homeowners to pay more taxes.
  • The California Association of REALTORS® estimates if Congress were to move forward with a cap on the mortgage interest deduction for loan amounts up to $500,000, a quarter of California’s home sales would be impacted, and those home buyers would end up paying more in taxes. And for those in Southern California, nearly one-third would be affected.

Zillow says consumer agency is threatening legal action over its ad practices

You're probably familiar with the online realty marketing giant Zillow because of its voluminous home sale listings and its controversial "Zestimate" property valuation feature.

But you may not know this: Zillow is in hot water with the federal government over alleged violations of anti-kickback and deceptive practices rules.  SANTA BARBARA LIVING - REAL ESTATE DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN THESE ACTIVITIES.