Mortgage rates rose slightly in this week's survey of lenders by Freddie Mac, with the average for a 30-year fixed loan rising to 4.15 percent, from 4.12 percent last week.

Dear Debt Adviser: I was wondering if working with a credit counseling service to lower your interest rate affects your credit score. While our scores are good (715-730), we overextended ourselves and the interest/finance charges on our credit cards are outrageous (29.99 percent in some cases). Our goal is to get the balances down as much as possible. I know not using the card will be one of your suggestions, but it will take much longer because anything extra we pay is eaten up by the interest.

MIAMI - You can support entrepreneurs' apps, gadgets, clothing creations, restaurants - you name it - through the exploding phenomenon of "crowdfunding." But what can you show for your investment? A drawer full of T-shirts, tote bags and other tokens of appreciation.

QUESTION: Years ago I bought a house with my girlfriend, and it was titled in just her name, as was the mortgage loan. Several years later, we deeded the property into both of our names, even though we never got married. She has since died, and I have continued to pay the mortgage. Is there any reason that I should put the loan into my name?

The United States faces a retirement funds crisis: a rapidly growing number of people who retire without the financial capacity to support themselves during ever-increasing life spans. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse-mortgage program, which allows older homeowners to convert some or all of the equity in their homes into cash, ought to be a major policy tool for dealing with the crisis. It is a well-designed program that allows seniors to draw funds in a variety of ways to meet a wide range of problems, but it has been hobbled by major challenges that have kept it small. These include excessive complexity that leaves many seniors befuddled, negative media reports by befuddled journalists, deceptive merchandising by some loan providers, and hostility by AARP to which many seniors look for guidance on financial products.

A record amount of foreign money is flowing into the U.S. housing market.

For most seniors, waiting until age 70 before collecting Social Security, as opposed to taking a smaller amount earlier, is an excellent investment. A typical senior who could draw $1,350 a month at age 62 would see the draw increase to $2,376 at age 70. Yet more than 2 of every 3 workers eligible for Social Security take it early. The major reasons are time preference, risk of nonpayment, and income shortage. The last may be the most important, and for homeowners at least, it is the easiest to remedy.

QUESTION: I suffer from a diagnosed stress disorder and recently rented an apartment on the ground floor of a large rental community. Unfortunately, my unit is in a high-traffic area, and the noise and activity of the traffic is causing me great distress. I have asked the management to move me to a more remote location but was told that I'd have to pay a large fee and extend the lease. What can I do?

Retired high school teachers John and Judy Woffington are trading their home on a three-acre lot in Marshall, Pa., near Pittsburgh, for one that sits on about a third of an acre - not because they don't like the house they've owned for 34 years, but because the whole idea of mowing the lawn and shoveling snow has become too much.

It was a poetic convergence of tech trends at the corner of Fourth and Howard streets.

Pending home sales surged more than expected in May, the latest sign a sluggish housing recovery is picking up steam.



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