Jane Hodges

Seattle, WA 98116 USA
Website: http://www.janehodges.net

Professional Experience

I am an award-winning journalist who covers business -- real estate, small business, personal finance, marketing -- and some lifestyle topics (travel, food), and have been a stringer for M&A news service Mergermarket for more than a decade. My book on the rethink of homeownership, Rent Vs. Own (Chronicle Books), published in 2012. My work has appeared in national papers (WSJ, NYT), magazines (Fortune, Success, Business 2.0), Web sites (Realtor.com, CBS/BNET, MSNBC.com, Entrepreneur.com), and locally (Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, 425 Magazine). I excel at explaining complex business scenarios for consumer and also trade audiences. I also write outside the business beat: I published an astrology gift book series with Chronicle Books/Rhino Records (Cosmic Grooves, 2001), wrote a monthly astrology column for Southwest Airlines Spirit (2006-8), and have published fiction (Brooklyn Review) and essays. Corporate work: Expedia, Motif Investing, Zillow.


Book Author
5 Years
22 Years
23 Years


21 Years
Business (general)
21 Years
Real Estate
15 Years


Magazine - Large Consumer/National magazines
21 Years
Magazine - Trade magazines/publications (B2B)
21 Years
Online/new media
17 Years

Total Media Industry Experience

23 Years

Media Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Mergermarket (10+), Seattle Times (10+), Mens Journal (1-2), Coffey Communications (3-5), Beth Kobliner Company (1-2), Washington State Visitors Guide (1-2), Realtor.com (1-2)

Corporate Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Zillow (1-2), Expedia (1-2), Motif Investing (3-5), Northwestern Mutual (6-10), Guidevine (3-5)

Other Work History

Staff jobs: Seattle Times (2 years); Fortune (1 year); Small Business Computing (1 year); Advertising Age (2 years). Freelance: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Seattle Times, Business 2.0 (contributor 1999-2001); Industry Standard; Fortune Small Business; Washington CEO; Spirit Magazine (Southwest Airlines); Seattle Weekly, etc. Book experience: Author of Cosmic Grooves music/astrology series for Chronicle Books/Rhino Records, published fall 2001; contributor, PS: What I Didn\'t Say essay anthology (Seal Press, 2009); contributor, Single State of the Union essay anthology (Seal Press, 2007)

Technical Skills

Light HTML coding,

Foreign Language Skills

French -- reading, writing, speaking


Authors Guild

Computer Skills

Word, Wordpress, Excel, Powerpoint, Submittable, Google drive/document sharing, have worked with various content management systems (typically customized for different clients)


Audio recorder; laptop; cell; car; digital camera (basic shots have appeared in The Seattle Times and MSNBC.com), film camera

Work Permits & Visas

U.S. Citizen


On request


Mediabistro Book Club pick, May 2012; Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards, 1st place, consumer reporting, 2009; National Association of Real Estate Editors, Bivins Fellowship 2007; 2nd place in Best Freelance Report category, 2006


Authors Guild, Society of Professional Journalists; National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE), Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)


Home Improvement and Relocation

If you're debating whether you should build in-home wine storage or outsource the job to a local wine storage facility, you've got a lot to consider.
Should you hire a professional energy auditor or just go it alone using online tools as a guide? I discuss the pros and cons of working with a pricey pro versus relying on personal homeowner smarts.
Savvy consumers are using container-based moving companies to help them get from Point A to Point B on their own terms. If you’re a DIY personality type and want to pack up your belongings yourself but not pilot the moving truck, then talk to PODS (Portable On Demand Storage); U-Pack; 1-800-Packrat; or even mainstream movers.
For The Seattle Times, I wrote a first-person piece about a major patio remodel at my home and the design/design edit and build process...
I was one of the launch contributors for HouseLogic, a homeowner-savvy site for people concerned about home decision-making with an eye toward wise investments.
Homeowners interested in improving their community's recycling program may want to pitch civic leaders on incentives, single-stream recycling, pay-as-you-throw programs, solar trash compactors, and providing citizens with information on alternative recycling options (like salvage stores, mail-in recycling options for electronics, etc.)
So you've hired an energy auditor to scour your home. Now how do you decide what tasks to tackle first?
If you decide to pursue a DIY home energy audit, what can you expect to encounter?
Self-employed and telecommuting workers, beware: Working from home keeps cars off the road, but may load up your utility bill if you're not careful to concserve energy.

Wall Street Journal: "Cranky Consumer" and investing pieces

It's easy to get stuck in a makeup rut, using the same cosmetic shades and techniques. Could we regain our game face for the new year with the aid of experts? To find out, we booked consults at four Seattle counters to see how pros would fix our 40-year-old face.
Target date funds, common in 401k plans and many investor portfolios, are supposed to be "set it and forget it" investments. But fund analysts and financial advisers caution that in the final decade before retirement, target-date funds can diverge widely in strategy. And that means they need close scrutiny from investors, rather than benign neglect.
High-Tech Tests for Running Shoes: Many stores now offer customers evaluations using treadmills, cameras and other methods that purport to help find the right shoes for a runner's physiology. But how well do they work? To find out, we test four stores.
Choosing a retirement plan is complicated for most self-employed workers, in part because they have so many choices. Some fairly recent 401(k) product debuts for higher solo earners capable of socking away up to $49,000 per year are adding to the list of options.
Is Coworking right for freelancers and entrepreneurs? To find out, I worked with two other reporters to test spaces in four cities, then I penned the results for this December 31 Wall Street Journal story...
Small businesses and people who work from home may find themselves in a bind if a computer goes on the fritz. How would we get by if our trusty laptop went into a technological coma? Fortunately, a handful of companies rent computers (desktop or laptop, Mac or PC) and other ordinary office equipment on short notice, either overnight or on a same-day basis. I try out three services that provide computer substitutes, as well as a local FedEx Office location that rents computers by the minute.
With last week's unveiling of a retooled health-care plan by President Barack Obama and the renewed partisan bickering that followed, both the timing and the extent of any significant changes in the industry remain uncertain. So what does that mean for mutual funds that hold health-care stocks? Well, there doesn't seem to be any consensus on that, either.
Where should you store your wine? I investigate from Seattle for this multi-contributor article in the Wall Street Journal.
Renting a car can be a frustrating business. What if renting a car was more like borrowing one from a neighbor? The Cranky Consumer tests services that let you rent vehicles from individuals.
Finding the right bike is tough. To find out if specialty stores could help perfect a fit, I tested service at Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), Sports Authority, Performance Bicycle, and Gregg's Greenlake Cycle.
This is a WSJ piece on online marketplaces where people can sell their wedding gowns and other wedding accountrements.
I contributed Seattle reporting to this WSJ story about the experience of "going green" at the beauty salon and how "eco" salons differ with their processes, environment, prices... and smell!
In this Cranky Consumer column for The Wall Street Journal, I test online will-writing services.
Should college savers stow exchange-traded funds in 529 plans? There are pros and cons.
I ask financial advisers to choose just one fund for a newbie investor: Assuming a recent grad has up to $10,000 to invest, what one mutual fund or ETF should launch their portfolio, and why?
Selling a good night's sleep is big business and buying one at a mattress retailer is complicated. Warranties, delivery plans, and sales formats vary widely.
Interested in volunteering? We comb through volunteering matchmaker sites to find out where the gigs are and which sites provide what sorts of opportunities.
A couple lets me use them as guinea pigs to test custom wedding vow writing services. The results were mixed, but definitely affordable -- and, more importantly, entertaining.
Where can you go online for restaurant reservations and/or dining deals? I test out four services in this Wall Street Journal report.
In an increasingly global economy, international-stock mutual funds and ETFs are widely seen as an important part of a well-balanced portfolio. But do single-country exchange-traded funds, in particular, help investors get better international representation?or saddle them with unintentional concentration in particular sectors, companies and economies?
With the country's unemployment hovering around 10%, many professionals are on the hunt for the perfect job. But what job? What industry? To the rescue are online career-assessment tests that aim to help workers (and daydreamers) identify suitable jobs and work environments. We took four tests to learn what fields are a good fit for a longtime reporter: the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Kolbe A Index, the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP) test, and a service called Careerkey.
Do the discounts and shopping experiences at warehouse club stores justify the membership fees and the trip to the clubs' often far-flung locations. To find out, I visited BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco Wholesale, and Sam's Club over two days in mid-May. For comparison, we hit a Wal-Mart.
Some retirement plans are replacing mutual funds with lower-cost 'collective trusts.' One drawback: It can be harder to compare the trusts' performance.
I reported on home milk delivery for one of The Wall Street Journal's "Cranky Consumer" columns. The verdict? It's a win-win.

Business and real estate work

Homeowners who've avoided foreclosure are nonetheless grappling with the impacts of lost home equity. Living underwater presents many challenges, like not being able to sell and relocate for a better job, tap home equity to fund a child's college tuition, or worry over recouping remodeling costs.
A Seattle lender offers 0% bridge loans to try stimulating the middle of the housing market, which includes "move-up" homes that have sat and sat on the market. Will it work?
It's tougher than ever to sustain a good credit score, but it's vital to take a look at your numbers if you're applying for a mortgage. I report on what numbers lenders want to see when applying for FHA and Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae backed loans and on tips to improve scores.
About a third of first-time buyers in 2011 got a gift (26 percent) or a loan (7 percent) from families to finance their home purchases, consistent with assistance levels seen during the last decade. But industry observers think the level of parental generosity is even higher.
The government and the banks it bailed out are stuck with lots of foreclosed homes. One silver lining: Individual and institutional real estate investors are snapping up junked homes, and then renovating them to the latest green standards.
More Americans than ever are showing willingness to walk away from underwater homes, according to a recent survey. Chris Kelly is a perfect example of someone who never thought she would strategicall default. But she did.
I wrote a feature for Seattle Met's annual real estate cover story on the current market, interviewing different types of buyers and what they're finding--and not--for sale.
Joleen Post, a marketing manager at a real-estate company who moonlights at a fitness facility, is fiscally fit. She owns a home in Southwest Seattle, drives a car that's paid off, has a little over $10,000 saved, and has whittled her mix of student-loan and credit-card debt below $3,000.
If running a bed-and-breakfast sounds like the best work-from-home business opportunity since sliced quiche, you're in luck: About a dozen B&Bs are on the market around the state, many in the Puget Sound area.
Renters, long happy to sidestep the drama homeowners have suffered in the roller-coaster housing market, are now facing their downside of the real estate market’s correction: Rent increases.
This piece explains the pros and cons of different Web sites that promise to give consumers free home value quotes. Some of these sites give vague information, requiring you to hook up to a Realtor. Other sites, however, will spit out a number painlessly. As this article shows, the numbers generated fall into a broad range.
Real estate has offered plenty of bad news in recent months, as homeowners have lost equity (or homes), lenders have inherited foreclosures, and those looking to sell their place might as well give up. But for first-time buyers, the time is ripe to snap up deals.
The fragmented seniors housing market has faced recession-related setbacks, but a demographic wave of new retirees means that developers and investors are forging ahead in it to prepare for demand.
Builders specializing in communities for "active seniors" over 55, such as PulteGroup's Del Webb brand and D.R. Horton, are offering new home designs featuring snore rooms near the master bedroom for couples who can't catch a good night's sleep together due to differing schedules, nocturnal habits or medical conditions.
Should you invest in real estate again -- via mutual funds, ETFs, or REITS? I explore that question for the Wall Street Journal's Investing in Funds section in early July 2009.
For households where one person has a steady, full-time job and another has chosen (or landed in) freelance, startup or commission-based "gigs," sorting out a budget and investment strategy that works for the whole house isn't easy. I investigate what financial planners suggest for them.
Cash buyers have made dents in distressed markets and often show up at foreclosure sales or in the luxury marketplace. But increasingly they're buying starter or mid-priced homes in Seattle.
In Seattle, it's a renters market. And a buyers market. Seems like everyone wins... except for landlords. Experts say these dynamics aren't going to change any time soon.
I provide an overview of green home materials and considerations for home remodeling projects both major and minor.
Foreclosure bus tours have come to Seattle. I follow along as a dozen investors and would-be buyers tour the damage and look for bargains among a mix of inventory including a house boat, a roofless shell, a million-dollar view home, and several homes in need of lots of aesthetic love and elbow grease.
New, greener building codes taking effect in Washington state during July 2010 have builders nervous about the higher cost of building to greener standards. The builders have a point: Green building does cost more, but buyers won't always pay for it.
"Passive" home construction, a long-available but little-discussed style of green building, is gaining ground in the Pacific Northwest. This profiles a residential project in Seattle, explaining how passive standards distinguish themselves from other energy certifications.
The stigma of debt and foreclosure seems to be lifting as foreclosures mount throughout 2009. In addition, for homeowners ineligible for refi/modifications under the Obama plan, walking away may remain a common last resort for many months to come.
Many new in-city condo and apartment buildings are offering smaller footprints to satisfy not only downsizing Baby Boomers but, especially, members of Generation Y who are moving out of dorms and parents' places and setting up their own households. This story scans a few projects in dense west coast cities.
I frequently write Cranky Consumer articles for The Wall Street Journal. These pieces review how well various service-based businesses treat their customers and deliver on their promises, and they often feature new types of businesses and services.
Feature for MSNBC.com about a new breed of contractor -- a "board-up" specialist -- who repairs and manages upkeep on repossessed properties.
This piece explains to a consumer reader what short sales are, why they're a problem for the market, and how buying or selling a short sale differs from buying a conventionally-listed property.
Spring typically is the year's busiest season for residential real estate, but this year some normally upbeat sales agents are showing signs of nervousness as they confront sluggish growth and tough lending standards.
Cohousing, or "intentional living"communities where residents occupy their own houses or condo units but otherwise share everything from potlucks to P-Patch duty, is resurfacing in metro Seattle for the first time in more than a decade. Two new sites seek members.
In a housing market where home prices are still seeking a new normal and financial changes stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act are slowly unfurling, appraisals once seen as homebuying formalities have a seemingly newfound power to stop deals in their tracks.
Realtors who represent distressed property do a lot more work than meets the eye, negotiating with dozens of parties just to ready a home for market.
As the real estate market has turned, so too has the real estate consumer. Many adults are no longer sold on the merits of owning a home. Indeed, some are just as happy to rent — and instead of seeing owning as a benefit, they see it as no better than or even less appealing than renting.
Despite continued bad news about the economy and real estate's role in it, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the real-estate sector have rebounded during the past year. Should you go there?

Small business and strategy pieces

This is a four-story package I wrote for BNET, a business strategy site from CNET.com that is now CBS-owned. The focus was on service and actionable information for business-minded readers.
According to a recent survey by Gensler, the prominent corporate architecture firm, half of all employees say they would work an extra hour per day if they had a better workplace. So why do so many companies maintain dark, cramped, ugly, or poorly designed offices? In this story I examine trends in office design, and discuss how these new looks provide a better environment for productivity as well as aesthetic enjoyability.
I contributed several stories to this feature package about ways companies can conserve cash and avoid failure in the current difficult economy -- from refinancing debt to prioritizing vendors, from non-core divestitures to using credit revolvers creatively.
Meetings are a fact of life, whether you’re running a three-person startup or a growing company. But not all managers can run them, and that can prove detrimental: Unproductive meetings can steal valuable work time, hurting company performance and competitiveness.
A smart storefront and the right location are vital in retailing, but commercial real estate in eye-catching urban corridors can be expensive and hard to find for independent retailers. As a result, many startup retailers are bunking up with partners both to economize and build their businesses.

Writing samples

The size of your nest egg isn’t the only thing you should be focused on as you close in on retirement. So say financial planners and experts, who point to several financial moves investors can make in the years before they leave work that might help them preserve their savings, reduce their tax bills and provide for loved ones and heirs.

Travel stories

New York Times piece covering the emergence of Seattle's South Lake Union as a destination for locals as well as tourists.
This is a New York Times travel piece I wrote about an emerging neighborhood in Portland, Oregon -- the Alberta St. "Arts District"


US News and World Report personal finance editor Kimberly Palmer polls experts -- including me -- on common mistakes made by first-time buyers.
Sites like Airbnb.com let anyone put their spare couch, bed or house up for rent. Upsides for hosts: Greet people from all over the world, pocket some cash. Pluses for guests: Stay at unique places on the cheap. But staying at someone's home differs from a hotel set-up. How do you make it work?
There are still good reasons to own... US News runs through ten of them.
Mortgage rates are low. The housing market is flooded with distressed sales. Is it time to buy your first house, before rates and prices go up again and it’s too late? That’s the wrong question, according to the new book, Rent vs. Own (Chronicle). The right questions include: Can I afford to buy? How will a house and a mortgage really affect my financial situation? Do I really qualify for those low advertised mortgage rates?
Is renting always cheaper than owning a house? Is a home a good investment? How important are low interest rates when you're deciding whether to buy or rent a home? KUOW asks Jane Hodges, the author of "Rent vs. Own."