RE/MAX 440
Kathy B. Hayes
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-362-0800
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 215-498-7058
Fax: 267-354-6839 
kathy@kathyhayesrealtor.com
Kathy B. Hayes

My Blog

Tips to Avoid Deck Collapse

May 28, 2014 4:54 am

Mike McGinnis, the owner of North Texas Fence and Deck wants to remind you that May is "Deck Safety Month". He notes that hardly a week passes that the news doesn't report on another tragic accident involving the collapse of a deck. Most deck collapses can be prevented with proper inspection and maintenance. When was the last time your deck was inspected? If you are building a new deck, avoid cutting corners. Hire a professional that is licensed and insured for projects of this nature.

Decks are enjoyed daily during the warm months. You don't want to make headlines with your family being injured, so inspect the bottom side of yours today. If you don't know what to look for, hire a professional deck builder to perform the inspection.

Decks collapse for several reasons. In some cases, builders have cut corners when building the deck, but in almost all cases, improper maintenance played a key role in the deck's failure and the subsequent injuries. McGinnis reminds homeowners and homeowner associations that decks are not made to last a lifetime with little or no maintenance. Decks are usually constructed of wood and even though the materials are pressure-treated, decks have a finite life cycle. Of course proper maintenance can extend its life.

When do homeowners need to replace a deck? Like anything else, the answer to that question depends on the type and frequency of preventive maintenance. But a good rule of thumb would be that if your home is more than 10 years old and you have not regularly inspected and maintained the deck, now would be a good time to get a free estimate on replacing it. Upgrading your deck can add a lot of enjoyment and value to your home.

Source: North Texas Fence and Deck

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Selling This Summer? 6 Upgrades to Secure a Speedy Sale

May 27, 2014 4:42 am

(BPT) - When the weather warms up, so does the real estate market. Spring and summer are traditionally the seasons when both homebuyers and sellers are most active across the country. If you'll be putting your home on the market this year, simple, cost-effective upgrades can help ensure a speedy sale at a good price.

"In the world of real estate, it's often necessary for sellers to spend a little on upgrades in order to achieve a satisfying home sale," says Bethany Richmond, communications director for the Carpet & Rug Institute. "Fortunately, some of the most impressive upgrades, such as new carpeting, are also affordable. Such upgrades ensure that you don't have to spend a lot to achieve a better selling price."

Here are six easy-to-do upgrades that are both cost-effective and high-impact:

1. Replace carpet
It's easy to see the impact of worn or dated carpeting. "If you don't like looking at it, buyers won't either," Richmond says. "Replacing old or damaged carpet delivers impressive appeal for a modest investment."

New carpet is one upgrade that has a high ratio of value to cost. It substantially increases perceived value for homebuyers without requiring home sellers to spend a bundle. "Even less expensive carpet styles will freshen the look of a room and prepare it for sale," Richmond notes. "You can get a lot more quality for just a little more money, she says, "and if you take advantage of spring carpet sales, installing new carpeting can cost even less."

2. Clean flooring
If your carpet is still in great shape, then simply having it professionally cleaned can make it look even better. A deep professional cleaning helps lift tough soils and provides a cleaner, fresher look to rooms. You can find an expert in your area by visiting www.carpet-rug.org. CRI experts can even provide insight into how to remove difficult stains.

Not only is carpet a good value, it's healthy, too. People with allergies or other sensitivities are installing carpet to improve indoor air quality. Recent studies support previous findings that carpet, when effectively cleaned, traps allergens and other particles, resulting in less dust, dander and airborne contaminants escaping into the air. Don't forget to clean all other flooring, including hardwood, laminates and tile. Buyers will appreciate a sparkling clean appearance throughout the house.

3. Repaint in neutral shades
Fresh paint is another smart and cost-effective upgrade for sellers. Buyers expect it, yet many sellers hesitate to repaint. Perhaps they like the existing colors or balk at the cost of professional painting services. Yet repainting in neutral colors makes a room look fresher and brighter, and gives buyers a visual "blank slate" against which to imagine their own decor. Do the work yourself and you can reduce the cost of repainting even further.

4. Update or upgrade lighting
You may find that disco-ball style globe light charming in your kitchen, but the average buyer doesn't want dated or unusual lighting. Replacing dated or worn fixtures, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, is a cost-effective way to give a room a more up-to-date, contemporary look. If you already have newer fixtures, consider replacing incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency options such as CFLs or LEDs. Although they're a bit more expensive to purchase, these bulbs last years longer - a selling point for buyers who will reap the value of not having to replace bulbs any time in the near future.

5. Install new faucets
A high-end faucet can completely change the look and usability of a kitchen or bathroom. In terms of cost versus value, an upgraded faucet, such as pull-out or even touch-free styles, can dramatically increase perceived value for a relatively modest investment. An upgraded faucet is a thoughtful touch that will set your home apart in buyers' minds.

6. Replace hardware throughout the home
You may have already thought of upgrading kitchen cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, but have you also upgraded hardware in your bathroom or on the front door? These seemingly small items have a major impact on the overall visual effect of a home. In desirable rooms such as kitchens and baths, designer hardware can elevate the entire look of the room. And upgraded door hardware will ensure buyers have a positive first impression from the moment they enter your home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Question Your Way to Investing Success: 14 Things to Ask a Potential Financial Advisor

May 27, 2014 4:42 am

Negotiating is always a give and take. That means not just listening to what a financial advisor has to say but also holding up your end of the exchange. Before you sign any agreement, you’ll want to find out what your prospective financial advisor is like as a person. You’ll want to find out about their business and their industry. You’ll also want to think hard about their true interests and whether those align well with your own.

All of this means asking questions…and lots of them! Get the advisor talking. Seek clarification. Show interest in what they have to say and ask them to tell you more. Below is a basic list of questions to get you started, along with more intensive questions to explore areas that should heavily influence how (or if) you enter into a professional relationship with a financial advisor.

The Basics
• What credentials have you earned? What did you study in college? What college degrees did you earn? From which colleges?
• How are you regulated? What role do you personally play in complying with all regulatory requirements?
• Will you give me two or three investment statements for your current clients (with their names and identifiers redacted, of course) so I can see how you actually invest?
• Do you have a fiduciary duty to me? Explain what that means to you. Are you willing to put that in writing?
• Do you think that, with hard work and careful study, a smart investment manager can pick stocks that will consistently beat the appropriate market averages? Why or why not?

Get Intensive
• Would you be willing to tell me all the ways you and your firm make money? If not, then why not?
• How do you deal with the problem that your interests and mine are sometimes in conflict?
• Does your firm receive any fees or “soft money” from anyone other than its clients?
• Do you consider yourself a “professional”? What does that mean to you?
• What percentage of your work is spent serving your current clients? How much is spent looking for new clients?
• When called upon to suggest an investment, describe to me your process for deciding what to recommend.
• What are reasons I should trust you?
• What are reasons I should hesitate to trust you? (And how do you work to minimize those reasons?)
• What differentiates you from your competitors?

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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NFCC Provides Snapshot of Typical Consumer Seeking Financial Counseling

May 23, 2014 3:54 am

Mid-year is often a time when many evaluate where they stand financially. To help consumers measure their financial health, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) has provided a picture of the typical consumer who came to an NFCC member agency for financial counseling in 2013, and encourages consumers to use this information as a financial check-up tool, benchmarking their situation against those who self-identified as being in need of financial guidance.

“More than 1.5 million consumers reached out to an NFCC member agency last year for answers and solutions to their financial concerns around debt, housing, budgeting and bankruptcy. Examining their financial profile can provide guidance for others, helping them determine their own level financial wellness,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

Consider some of the red flag characteristics of consumers who sought financial counseling from an NFCC member agency in 2013:

• The number one reason to seek counseling was “poor money management,” eclipsing “reduced income,” which had held the top spot since 2009. Why a red flag: An improving economy may put more money in people’s pockets, but if not managed properly, it can still result in financial distress.

• The age of the majority of consumers was fairly evenly divided between 25-54, with young adults in the 25-34 age group leading the way (24 percent), followed by the 35-44 range (23 percent), and the 45-54 group (21 percent). Why a red flag: Financial problems can occur at any stage in a person’s adult life which, if left unaddressed, can begin a negative spiral from which it can be difficult to recover.

• The average household take-home income was $35,081, with an unsecured debt of $17,548. Why a red flag: Owing too much relative to your income resulting in a high debt-to-income ratio not only makes it harder to meet all debt obligations, but can hinder future borrowing.

• Consumers seeking help carried an average of 5.7 credit cards. Why a red flag: The number of credit cards a person has is not as important as how they manage them. Whatever the number of cards, maxing out the lines of credit will likely harm a person’s credit score.

“Consumers are smart to contact a trusted organization for financial help,” continued Cunningham. “However, the one mistake many of them have in common is that they wait too long to reach out for assistance. Delaying taking action allows the problem to escalate, often causing financial damage that could have been prevented.”

Consumers who recognize similarities between their situation and those who sought assistance from an NFCC member agency should follow their lead and take action now. To be automatically connected to the office closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or for assistance in Spanish call (800) 682-9832. Inquire about the NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus™ program which has helped tens of thousands of people find solutions to their financial problems. To learn more about what the program has to offer, visit www.SharpenToday.org or www.agudicehoy.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Most 2014 Summer Vacation Plans Not Even Made

May 23, 2014 3:54 am

Airfarewatchdog™ has released the results of its 2014 Summer Travel Survey. Over 13,000 Airfarewatchdog subscribers responded to the poll, which indicated that most respondents plan to fly for vacation, but that 61 percent have yet to fully book their trips.

Flying High

• 77 percent of the Airfarewatchdog survey respondents said they are flying (or a combination of flying and driving) to their summer vacation destination while only 15 percent are planning to drive.

Most Travelers Saying "Yes" to a Summer Vacation

• 83 percent are taking at least one vacation this summer—and they're spending.

Of those who are vacationing:

o The average overall summer travel budget is $4,467.
o 32 percent are taking 4–7 vacation days.
o 22 percent are taking 8-11 vacation days.
o 17 percent are taking more than 15 vacation days.

Last-Minute Planning Takes the Lead

• 46 percent still haven't booked their summer vacation.
• Only 38 percent of travelers have fully booked their vacation.
• 15 percent have only booked a part of their vacation.

Which Is the Best U.S. Airline?

• An overwhelming 29 percent said that Southwest Airlines is their favorite airline to fly, followed by Delta at 18 percent and JetBlue at 11 percent.

Airfares a Major Deterrent, but Still a Bargain Compared to Years Before

• While many of us have to travel by air, there are still points of pain.
o From a wide range of choices, expensive fares were the highest booking deterrent (74 percent) in the survey results. But not all fares have consistently risen over the years. New York to Liberia, Costa Rica cost $302 RT in May 2005, but recently it cost $288 RT. That $302 fare adjusted for inflation is equivalent to $366 today— so in almost 10 years, that fare has actually dropped $78 in inflation-adjusted terms.
o Fees (all of them) were the second-highest deterrent (22 percent).
o Lack of space/legroom on the plane rounded out the top three (18 percent).

"Judging by the average spend on vacations this summer of nearly $4,500, it would appear that big budget travel is making a comeback,” says Airfarewatchdog president, George Hobica.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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10 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day in Your National Parks

May 23, 2014 3:54 am

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, invites Americans to join in remembering our brave veterans in national parks across the country. On Memorial Day weekend, many sites throughout the National Park System will hold events in memoriam of the greatest sacrifice made by those protecting our nation, while other sites stand as permanent tributes to fallen soldiers year-round.

"Memorial Day is about honoring all who have served," said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "National parks guard and honor the legacy of our brave military men and women in places such as battlefields, historical parks, and national monuments."

From the American Revolutionary War to the events of September 11, 2001, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation work to protect the memory of those lost in service to their country. This Memorial Day, everyone can observe this day of reflection in a national park, paying respect to the ultimate devotion and sacrifice made by fellow Americans.
Celebrate and honor the memory of U.S. military members by:

1. Learning what it was like to be a soldier in the American Revolutionary War at Independence National Historical Park (Pennsylvania) with activities and presentations throughout the day.

2. Remembering the lives lost in the first battle of the U.S.-Mexican War at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park (Texas), one of the foundations’ American Latino Heritage Fund sites.

3. Paying tribute to America's fallen troops -- from the War of 1812 to today -- at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve's Chalmette National Cemetery (Louisiana).

4. Reflecting on the sacrifices of this nation's military personnel at Shiloh National Military Park (Tennessee) by listening to living historians as they interpret wars from colonial times to today.

5. Visiting the numerous sites at National Mall & Memorial Parks (Washington, D.C.) and taking time to remember the contributions and service of American veterans both at home and abroad.

6. Recognizing the valiant dedication of the first African American military pilots in World War II at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama), one of the foundation’s African American Experience Fund sites.

7. Joining Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Maryland) as they pay tribute to the graves of fallen War of 1812, Civil War, World War I and II, and Korean War veterans.

8. Honoring of the lives of ordinary passengers and crew members, who joined together for an extraordinary act of selflessness at Flight 93 National Memorial (Pennsylvania).

9. Exploring the Lincoln Memorial (online) through an interactive website that showcases the memorial and park ranger reflections on its history.

10. Watching PBS's live National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday, May 25, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET, and enjoying the musical tributes by groups such as the U.S. Army Chorus, U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, and the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants.

Source: National Park Foundation

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Home Design: The Value of the Ideal Exterior Color

May 22, 2014 3:42 am

(BPT) - When it comes to designing a home - whether it's new construction or a renovation - choosing beautiful exterior colors and complementary accent hues is critical to creating an appealing household.

"To select the right colors for your home, view siding colors as an exterior project tool that both turns a home into a showpiece and increases its value," says Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of the United States.

Color and architecture trends vary from city to city across the United States. The homes and buildings within a neighborhood define its character and in some ways, culture. Before deciding on the best design, take into consideration the local geography and design trends.

Here are four general recommendations to help a homeowner determine the best color choices for a home:

* Location - Consider the neighborhood as a whole. Think about the next-door neighbor and the homes down the street. Regardless of the neighborhood, the streetscape - sizes and facades of homes, landscape architecture, balance of light and shade - plays a role in creating an idyllic neighborhood and affects the value of individual homes and communities, overall. The natural surroundings also play a significant part in color selection. For example, a green wooded area would blend better with earth tones than a home near the blues and grays of the ocean.

* Color combinations - Selecting the right combination of colors for a home varies, but a good rule of thumb is to use three to six, depending on the siding and trim of the home. A best practice is to avoid selecting more than two siding colors, one trim color and one accent color for features like doors and shutters.

* Balance of color choices - A home's visual balance can be disrupted by color hues that don't mix or match. The eye is naturally drawn to light colors, so consider pairing a brighter, lighter garage door with a darker siding shade. Contractors, builders or remodelers can help guide homeowners on choosing multiple siding colors and trim hues that not only create a classic look for a home, but also help it blend in with its surrounding environment.

* Color performance - A home is a reflection of the person and family in it. It's also an investment. If exterior products are both functionally and aesthetically sound, they offer a greater curb appeal, which can also help with resale value when the time comes.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Safely Spring into Home Improvement Projects

May 21, 2014 3:30 am

Many people across the country are celebrating the end of a long, cold winter by de-cluttering their homes and tackling a growing list of other spring cleaning projects around the house. Whether you're starting up the lawn mower for the first time this season, climbing a seldom-used ladder, or simply moving furniture to clean those hard-to-reach places, spring cleaning chores create a number of safety hazards that could lead to injury if the proper precautions are not taken.

"Thousands of Americans are injured from cleaning and home improvement projects each year, and it is often because we fail to recognize the dangers of these seemingly simple, low-risk chores," said orthopaedic trauma surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Gregory John Della Rocca, MD, PhD. "By recognizing the risks involved in using items such as ladders, lawn mowers and power tools—and knowing how to use them properly—you can reduce your risk of injury."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013:

• More than 511,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors' offices and emergency rooms for injuries related to ladder use;
• Approximately 301,425 people were injured from lawn mower-related injuries;
• Nearly 7,500 were treated for injuries related to power tools; and
• More than 569,000 injuries were related to sofas, couches, davenports, divans or studio couches.
In an effort to prevent these unfortunate injuries, AAOS offers the following recommendations to stay safe as you prepare your home for the change in seasons:

Ladder Safety
• Always place ladders on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft, wet or otherwise unstable;
• Make sure your shoelaces are securely tied and your pant legs do not extend underneath your shoes;
• When working on a ladder, leaning too far to one side or reaching too far overhead can make you lose your balance and fall. As a point of reference, your belly button should never go beyond the sides of the ladder;
• Never climb a ladder without someone nearby who is able to spot you;
• If working outside, make sure the ladder is away from electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions; and
• Use a sturdy step ladder instead of a counter-top or furniture, such as a table or chair, when cleaning high, hard to reach areas.

Lawn Mower Safety
• Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure it is working correctly;
• Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment;
• Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris from the blade;
• Wear protective gloves, goggles, closed-toe, sturdy shoes and long pants when using a lawn mower. Never mow barefoot or while wearing sandals or flip flops;
• Do not leave a lawn mower unattended when it is running. If you must walk away from the machine, shut off the engine; and
• When using lawn mowers, be sure that children are not playing in the area being mowed. Never carry a child on your lap when utilizing a ride-around lawn mower or tractor.

General Safety
• Use proper technique when lifting and carrying to avoid back injuries:
• Separate your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the knees, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles as you stand up; and
• If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself.
• Read directions carefully before operating power tools and other equipment;
• Be cautious when using extension cords. To avoid tripping or falling, be sure they are properly grounded and do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways;
• Take frequent breaks while working around the house and drink plenty of fluids before, during and after to prevent dehydration; and
• Always keep a phone within reach in case of accident or injury.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top 5 Ways to Create the Ultimate Backyard This Summer

May 21, 2014 3:30 am

The start of summer means entertaining friends and families, hosting cookouts and barbeques, and spending time outdoors. These days, the backyard has become an extension of the family room and kitchen.

According to a U.S. online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), spending on decks and patios has been on the increase. Consumers reported they intended to spend 37 percent more in 2013 to hire professional help for patios and other hardscape and specialty services.

PLANET offers their top five ideas to transform an ordinary yard into the ultimate retreat, family fun, or entertaining space this summer.

Add an Outdoor Kitchen. Outdoor kitchens have been growing in popularity for years and are often the center of family life in the summer. They can be as extensive as a complete kitchen made of stone, brick, or concrete pavers with a stove, stone or brick oven, counters, and even a sink or refrigerator, or they can be as compact as a patio with a grill and table. There are a wide variety of options for every space, purpose, and price range.

Add Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor lighting highlights a home's landscape, special trees, as well as walkways and porches, providing both curb appeal and safety. "Nightscaping" makes gathering spaces usable and enjoyable for entertaining after dark. Landscape professionals can design lighting to complement or highlight important areas of the yard, and there are a variety of basic do-it-yourself options, such as adding a set of solar walkway lights.

Add a Fire Feature. A portable fire pit or chiminea, or building a stone fireplace into the deck or patio extends the time people can spend in their backyards, making a cozy entertaining space on summer nights or well into the fall and winter.
Add a Water Feature. Water features, ranging from small fountains to ponds, streams, or water walls, create a sense of peace and calm, help people connect with nature, and may attract wildlife.

Create a Wildflower or Herb Garden. Wildflowers or herbs make great container gardens or ground cover. They are beautiful and smell great. Many home chefs grow their own herbs and many landscape companies now create edible gardens for clients. These gardens are also a benefit for the environment and for wildlife, providing food and safe cover for small animals.

"Outdoor living spaces have evolved from a grill and a picnic table to lavishly landscaped patios and decks with couches, lounge areas and dining spaces under shaded arches, trellises, and porticos," said Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP, CEO of PLANET. "Americans have had a long love affair with the backyard barbeque, and now, they are taking it to the next level."

Source: PLANET

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Don't Be Bored with Your Deck

May 16, 2014 2:30 am

With the Memorial Day holiday less than two weeks away, you may have realized your backyard deck is a wreck. But even if you have no deck at all, it may be time to start dreaming of something bigger and better.

Want to spruce up your outdoor living space? Plow & Hearth offers the following tips to up the style, function and comfort factor of your outdoors:

• When selecting furniture for outdoor use, be sure to pay attention to the materials from which it was made. Woods like teak, cedar, eucalyptus and cypress are durable, long-lasting and require little maintenance. While wicker can be made of natural materials like rattan and bamboo, it is often crafted of resin—a durable, low-maintenance, easy-to-clean material.
Wicker is often lightweight, which makes it easy to move around to create new seating looks whenever you wish.

• The addition of deck planters can really make a deck come alive (literally!) Self-watering planters are an ideal choice, because their reservoir system ensures plants get the water they need to grow.

• It's important to find the right style of furniture for an outdoor space. Adirondack chairs remain a favorite outdoor option. Rockers and gliders offer a traditional, comfortable way to enjoy a leisurely afternoon on your deck.

• Adding a trellis is an effective and affordable means to add vertical interest to an otherwise boring wall on the deck. Trellises can be almost any size.

• Looking for the perfect lighting so the deck can be enjoyed late into the evening? Solar lighting is an eco-friendly, energy-saving option, plus it requires no wiring or cords, which means installation is quick and easy. (And adequate lighting even makes the deck safer for use at night.)

Source: Thompson’s WaterSeal

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