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

Homeowners Excited About Remodeling Again

October 10, 2013 3:00 am

Planese, Inc. announced that homeowners across the country are now willing to spend 30 percent of the value of their home when they remodel; remodeling expense as a percentage of home value has been trending upward since 2007. Consumers also plan to use materials that are more expensive and spend an average of $102,000 to improve their homes.

These findings are part of the Fall 2013 Remodeling Sentiment Report, a forward-looking report based on data from the Planese and remodelormove.com survey of homeowners nationwide that analyzes and documents trends in the home improvement industry. Planese compared the responses of today's homeowners throughout the nation against the findings reported both during the recession in 2010 and at the height of the remodeling boom in 2007.

"The wealth effect is taking hold; consumers are spending again, which bodes well for the entire home improvement industry," said Dan Fritschen, CEO and co-founder of Planese, Inc. "More people are feeling secure enough during this economic environment that they are remodeling. It's no longer the most affluent; we are at the beginning of a multi-year trend."

More homeowners (74 percent) plan to hire a general contractor, which is up significantly from the 64 percent reported in 2010 and 2007. The percentage of people who plan to engage an architect (56 percent) has bounced back from the low of 47 percent in 2010 during the recession. As the scope of projects increases, so does the need for an architect.

The projects planned are larger; the average number of rooms to remodel is four. Homeowners are more likely to remodel a kitchen (55 percent), which tends to be expensive and often is a discretionary expenditure, than a bathroom (48 percent), which is often viewed as a necessity.

The survey also found that homeowners are less likely to do any of the work themselves. Today, 43 percent plans to do none of the remodeling work themselves as compared to 36 percent in both 2010 and 2007. In addition, more homeowners say they will use expensive materials when they remodel (17 percent) today, as compared to 9 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2007.

Survey Results:

Cost to remodel /home value
2007 – 25 percent
2010 – 28 percent
2013 – 30 percent

Plan to perform none of the work
2007 – 36 percent
2010 – 36 percent
2013 – 43 percent

Plan to use a general contractor
2007 – 64 percent
2010 – 64 percent
2013 – 74 percent

Plan to hire an architect
2007 – 54 percent
2010 – 47 percent
2013 – 56 percent

Plan to use expensive materials
2007 – 9 percent
2010 – 10 percent
2013 – 17 percent

Plan to add a bathroom
2007 – 52 percent
2010 – 53 percent
2013 – 48 percent

Plan to remodel a kitchen
2007 – 57 percent
2010 – 48 percent
2013 – 55 percent

Source: http://www.planese.com/

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Four Tips for Fall Car Care Month

October 9, 2013 3:00 am

October is Fall Car Care Month, so use it as an excuse to make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead. Taking a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later, says the Car Care Council.

Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends the following proactive steps to make sure your car is ready for winter driving.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it's wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades – Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don't properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. When changing the blades, be sure to also check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.

Tires – Check the tires, including the tire pressure and tread depth. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Brakes – Have the brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

"Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes," says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Source: www.carcare.org

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Fall Decorating Tips to Warm Your Home

October 9, 2013 3:00 am

When the weather begins to turn cold, take cues from fall to warm up your world. Think about the decorating styles that appeal to you and use the following tips for guidance:

Look to Elemental Colors: Air, Earth, Fire and Water; nature inspires the most beautiful colors. Colors reflecting air will make your home breathe. Earth inspired colors will ground and calm a room. Colors pulling from water inspire playful fun, and lastly those reflecting fire will say bold confidence.

Take Natures Cues: As the air turns cool, nature gives us clues as to which colors make your home feel warm and cozy in the fall. Look around at the fall foliage and you'll see vibrant golds, rich reds, deep chocolate browns and toasty oranges. These colors inspire life and energy as the days get darker and cooler. Look for ways to incorporate these colors and sceneries into your room décor. National Geographic Wallpaper or wall murals can help create this inviting nature setting.

Go Natural: With the increasing focus on the environment, there are abundant products available today that reflect and are good for nature. These products often incorporate earthy colors and textures; a perfect theme for fall. Choose eco-friendly shades which are PVC-free and 100 percent recyclable.

'Tis the Season: Carve out a tall pumpkin and use it as a flower vase or use small pumpkins for candles. A throw pillow, bowl of fresh citrus fruit or a bouquet of cut flowers are inexpensive ways to provide some color pop while welcoming your guests with the feel of nature.

Come Together: Gather around the fireplace. Rearrange your furniture to set your fireplace, instead of the TV, as the focal point of the room. Footstools, ottomans, and floor pillows by the fire create an inviting, warm atmosphere that will get you through the harshest days of winter. If you don't want the hassle of starting and maintaining a fire, try placing tall white candles in the fireplace for a similar glow.

Go Vibrant: Add a few splashes of vibrant color. They enrich any look and keep you from feeling drab. Deep colors also inspire confidence. Use an area rug to add warmth and personality to any room.

Go Circular: Designing a wreath is one of the easiest DIY projects you could hope for. And this time of year there is an abundance of colorful items to choose from at your local craft store or around your home. Get the kids involved and make it a family project.

Prepare for Winter: Now is the time to prep your home. There are several easy steps you can take. Consider insulating cellular shades or lined window treatments such as thermal curtains or foam-backed draperies for older, drafty windows. Insulate your water heater with insulation wrap. Seal leaks and drafts with caulk or weather strips. Clean your furnace and change your air filter. And lastly, but certainly not least, install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to conserve energy during the day while you're at work and at night while you sleep, but still come home or wake up to a warm, cozy home.

Source: www.americanblinds.com

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Hard Water: Bad for Your Home and Wallet

October 9, 2013 3:00 am

(BPT)—Nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water - water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium, according to The U.S. Geological Survey. The hardest water is commonly found in the states that run from Kansas to Texas as well as in Southern California. Hard water on its own is bad enough, making it difficult to wash clothes and dishes and leaving scaling on your pipes and showerheads as well as nasty brown rings in your sinks and toilets. However, it is also costing you money.

Research by the Battelle Institute found that with hard water, showerheads lost 75 percent of their flow rate in less than 18 simulated months and could not maintain the required flow rate because of scaling.

Water heaters are also negatively affected by hard water. When using softened water, researchers found that all the water heaters tested maintained 100 percent efficiency over a simulated 15-year lifetime, but with hard water, the gas and electric heater efficiency dropped by 25 percent - an incredible loss in energy resulting in significantly higher costs. In the case of the new instant tankless water heaters, hard water caused them to completely fail to function because of plugged-up scale, or mineral build-up associated with hard water, after only 1.6 years of simulated use - about a tenth the normal life of the appliance.

Another study conducted for the Water Quality Research Foundation assessed the impact of water hardness on automatic dishwashers. Soft water was up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers also found that for washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water.

You can take steps to eliminate the source of the scaling with a salt-based water softener. In order to make hard water into soft water, you have to remove the calcium and magnesium. The only way to do that effectively is with a salt-regenerated water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water, as well as any iron, manganese or radium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Magnetic and other non-salt based water softeners do not remove these harmful hard minerals.

Do-it-yourself water testing kits are available at most hardware stores, or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. The Water Quality Association's website lets you search by company name, state or ZIP code to help find a professional in your area to handle the testing.

Eliminating hard water minerals delivers significant benefits in terms of the efficiency and maintenance cost of appliances and plumbing. From a budgeting perspective, using less detergent and energy can add up to real savings for families and individuals. Plus the harder these machines have to work, the faster they wear out and need repair or replacement, representing another very significant expense for homeowners. For more information on water softening, visit water-softening.org.

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Fall House Cleaning: Chores to Do Now

October 8, 2013 2:57 am

Everyone talks about spring house cleaning – a time to freshen up your living space to get it ready for fresh air and sunshine. But, advises a staffing supervisor for Molly Maids cleaning service, a clean house requires a fall cleaning routine as well:

Deep clean the closets – Sort out your wardrobe and clean out clothes closets. Donate whatever you are unlikely to wear again to make room for seasonal purchases.

Get rid of expired medicines – Check the medicine cabinet for expired meds and last winter’s leftovers. As you dispose of them, make note of things you need to buy, such as bandages, antiseptic creams or over-the-counter cough syrup.

Clean out the fridge – Dig deep for tired or expired foods, clean the shelves and organize the fridge. Remember to replace that old box of baking soda with a fresh one to guard against odors.

Clean the carpets – A little elbow grease now will get you ready for holiday entertaining. Deep clean summer’s grime out of your carpets or hire a professional carpet cleaner with equipment that may dig deeper than you can.

Clean ceiling fans and ceiling light fixtures – Open doors and windows all summer have likely left them coated with dust. Clean them thoroughly now that the doors are closed.

Wash the windows – Washing them inside and out may be a pain, but winter can be depressing enough without having to look through dirty windows.

Shine the silver – Before Thanksgiving is the best time to get out the polish and get your silverware ready for company.

Check the gutters – Autumn means gutters are full of falling leaves. Clean them out now with a special hose attachment that has a hooked end to get down into the gutters. Look into attaching “hoods” or “helmets” to the gutters so you won’t have to worry as much about cleaning out leaves in the future.

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The Delayed American Household

October 8, 2013 2:57 am

According to a recent report by the Census, married couples with children account for only 19.6 percent of all households in the U.S. The new figure represents a drop of 4.5 percentage points from 2000 when 24.1 percent of all households in the U.S. were married couples with children. The share of total households in 1970 was 40.3 percent.

As the share of households that include married couples with children decreased, one-person households and other household types rose. The share of one-person households increased from 17.1 percent in 1970 to 27.5 percent in 2012.

The dramatic decline in married households with children is due in part to delays in household formation. Researchers point out that Americans, on average, are waiting five years longer to get married when compared to 1970. Additionally, Americans are waiting longer to have children. The average age at first birth in 2006 was 25 compared to the average age at first birth age of 21 in 1970.

While delays in household formation place downward pressure on the demand for single-family homes, the increasing share of those living alone places an upward pressure on the demand for rental units. Trends in new multifamily construction suggest builders and developers may be taking delayed household formation into account. The share of multi-family homes built for rent increased from an historic low of 47 percent during the third quarter of 2005 to above 90 percent in 2013. Additionally, the size of units built for rent remains relatively small when compared to owner-occupied units. The median size of rental apartments was 1,081 square feet in 2012.

In fact, builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium market are at all time highs. In the second quarter of 2013, the Multifamily Production Index MPI increased nine points to 61. The (MPI) is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 so that any number over 50 indicates that more respondents report improving conditions than worsening conditions.

Although builders and developers appear to be well positioned to take advantage of the trends in household formation, it is important to recognize that delayed household formation does not mean these household are not eventually formed. Instead, many individuals will eventually marry and have children or form other household types.

Other household types (family and nonfamily) increased from 12.3 percent in 1970 to 23.9 percent in 2012. Other family households include one-parent families, about half of all respondents in 2012, with the remainder being families that include an unmarried householder and relative(s). The share of households that include couples without children has been remarkably stable, near 30 percent.

Source: NAHB Eye on Housing

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Maximizing Kitchen Space for Holiday Entertaining

October 8, 2013 2:57 am

The holidays are right around the corner, which means that people all over the country will be preparing for the upcoming season’s many festivities, which usually center on food. And, for those who choose to host holiday parties, this also means a renewed focus on the heart of the home where food is prepared, guests congregate and the after-dinner coffee is brewed – the kitchen. Inevitably, this is the time of year we also start wishing we had that perfect “Martha Stewart” kitchen to showcase when our friends and family come over to celebrate.

When entertaining in small spaces like apartments, being creative with the kitchen and coming up with unique organization and storage solutions can make a big impact. Below are a few tips and tricks to maximizing kitchen space as we prepare for holiday entertaining.

Holiday Cheers!
Toasting to the holiday season can be difficult if there isn’t a convenient place to store the wine. An under-the-cabinet wine rack is the perfect solution to this storage problem that will also double as a great decorative piece for the kitchen. This way the wine is on display, organized and easy to access when entertaining.

Prep, Store, Dine!
Adding a free-standing kitchen island can serve multiple purposes. Not only can you use it for meal preparation, as well as for storage, but add a few stools and guests can also use it for additional dining space or keep you company while you’re cooking.

Forget the Mistletoe
Instead of hanging mistletoe from your ceiling, consider your pots and pans! These easy-to-reach pots and pans racks look great and provide extra room in kitchen cupboards to store all of your holiday entertaining pieces.

Deck the Shelves with Pops of Color
Empty wall space is like a blank canvas – there’s so much you can do! Build a few shelves to store and display kitchen accessories. This allows you to have utensils within reach, remove unnecessary counter clutter as well as get creative with pops of color that can be tailored to any holiday.

Source: Apartment Guide

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Don't Leave Fur Kids Behind During the Zombie Apocalypse

October 7, 2013 2:54 am

Although the predicted zombie apocalypse is most likely unfounded, if it is indeed fact and not fiction, it can't hurt for parents to prepare on behalf of their fur kids as well. With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect time to put together a survival plan, beginning with the following checklist from Petco to ensure pets make it through the night with their brains in tact.

The basics. Store things such as water, food (human food and pet food), a flashlight and extra batteries, portable food and water bowls, pet medications, etc. in a Bison Pet Scamper Dog Pack so Fido can get out the door quickly with his survival kit in the event of an attack.

Travel safe. For those frantically attempting to escape the zombie attacks via a vehicle, be sure to strap pets in safely to avoid injuries. Doggy seatbelts, car harnesses, crates, etc. are necessary to keep pets secure and harm-free during a bumpy ride.

Escape in disguise. Help pets blend into the zombie crowd by dressing up in a Petco ghoul or skeleton costume. As the old adage goes, "If you can't beat them, join them."

Stay physically fit and mentally alert. Only the strong and the smart will survive, so be sure to keep pets in top physical condition by exercising with them regularly and giving them food puzzles to keep them mentally sharp.

Keep calm. Zombies can startle pets and instinct may tell them to run for their lives, but it's important for pets and pet parents to stick together! When battling the zombies, keep a heavy-duty and reliable leash on hand. Also, to help cats and dogs stay calm, swaddle them in a Thundershirt, which will soothe them under stressful circumstances so they stay emotionally happy.

The zombie apocalypse can happen at any moment. Prepare for the worst!

Source: Petco

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5 Tips for becoming a More Energized Morning Person

October 7, 2013 2:54 am

Most people train themselves to leap out of bed when the alarm clock sounds in the morning or at the call of a crying baby – but many have never learned to embrace the early-morning wake-up.

“Morning people are rarely understood by those who prefer to sleep in,” noted a San Francisco psychologist. “They seem to start the day with a cheerful energy their opposites can’t seem to fathom.”

But there are ways to ‘trick’ the subconscious into getting more in tune with natural circadian rhythms, so that you get to sleep earlier and more easily and wake more rested and ready to tackle the day.

From a recent panel of behavioral therapists, here are five tips to help it happen:  

Open the curtains – Natural light helps regulate your body clock. Before you go to sleep, open the curtains or blinds in your room so that you are awakened by natural sunlight. Then open the curtains in other rooms so you have as much natural light in your house as you can get.  

Eat a good breakfast - Fueling your day with something healthy and tasty will give you the energy boost you need after having fasted through the night. It can also make getting out of bed less of a chore and more of a reward. Play around with quick and easy granola or muffin recipes that you really can look forward to.

Get outside early - Now that you're awake, it's time to soak up as much sun as you can. Walk or bike to work if you can, or make some time early to increase your exposure to natural light and increase your energy level.

Dim the lights at night – Less exposure to artificial light allows your body to power down and sync with the sun. After sunset, turning off as many lights as possible will help you relax into bedtime.

Power down early – Not only does the exposure to light keep your body awake, but the movement and activity on screens can keep your mind busy when it needs to be quieting down for bed. Turn off your electronic devices once the sun has gone to bed – and resist the urge to watch TV in the bedroom.

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Plant and Prepare Your Lawn for Spring

October 7, 2013 2:54 am

Most gardeners can't wait for spring to arrive so they can get outdoors and plant. But experts know fall is the perfect time to plant trees, shrubs and bulbs while tackling essential lawn care projects that will prepare your yard for a burst of growth next spring.

While soil temperatures remain warm - actually warmer than in the spring - air temperatures start to cool in the fall, creating the perfect setting to get outdoors and plant in pleasant, moderate weather. The cooler air temperatures also mean less stress during planting of trees and shrubs, while providing them a head start to develop root systems, acclimate and rest before spring's rush.

While fall offers the only time of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs, you don't have to wait until spring to add a burst of color to your yard. Pansies and mums thrive in abundance during autumn, complementing changing leaf colors in beautiful yellow, orange and red hues.

Also consider planting frost-tolerant vegetables in your garden such as:

Carrots: Try short or round varieties with rocky or heavy soil. Look for yellow, white, and purple selections for variety.

Beets: Known for their intense coloration, entire beet plants - roots and leaves - are edible. Try growing a sampling of striped, golden, and red beets. Beets can be roasted, pickled or sauteed.

Kale: Edible varieties of kale are just as hardy as their ornamental counterparts, which are widely used in pansy beds during winter. Try pretty "Red Russian" or tasty "Lacinato" for a calcium-packed treat.

Onions: An everyday kitchen ingredient, pungent onions are a garden staple. Whether growing white, yellow, or red, harvest early for immediate use or wait for bulbs to mature and dry them for storage.

Lastly, make sure your yard is able to withstand the stress of winter by maintaining lawn care in the fall. Start by aerating, which allows greater movement of water, fertilizer and air, to stimulate your lawn. Aeration also speeds the decomposition of grass clippings and enhances deep root growth. Then, apply the last main fertilizer feeding of the year and seed to avoid any bare spots in winter. Finally, lower your mower's deck for the last cutting to reduce disease potential during wet winter weather and to make raking leaves easier.

Source: Lowe’s

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