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

Money Saving Tips to Help You Stock Up

August 20, 2013 1:45 am

(BPT)—As summer winds down, many are heading into a busy buying season with Labor Day soirees and preparing for back-to-school. With the average family expected to spend an average of $634.78 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, consumers are seeking cost saving strategies to ensure they are getting the most bang for the buck.

With more access to information thanks to online resources and smartphones, the power is in purchasers' hands. In fact, the National Retail Federation forecast revealed that approximately 36 percent of shoppers will do more comparative shopping online for back-to-school 2013.

Other ways people are cashing in on the savings is going back to the tried and true - bulk shopping. Expert couponer, Kelly Snyder, of Kansas City Mamas says volume buying and storing goods correctly has made a positive impact on her family's finances. However, one important thing to keep in mind is what to do with all those purchases you bring home.

"The right storage is essential when purchasing in bulk," says Snyder. "Make sure you have enough storage space and invest in products and appliances that keep you organized and help preserve the integrity of your purchases."

Snyder points to refrigerators as a key investment piece for savvy shoppers who want to store large amounts of perishables. Snyder along with fellow top savings bloggers Briana Carter, of Bargain Briana, and Lauren Ortiz of Saving Addiction, offer their top tips to help shoppers best navigate through the sea of savings.

• Don't bypass a budget. Know how much you've spent in order to see your savings. By keeping a monthly budget, you'll never pay too much.

• Don't create a storage war. Being organized will help keep track of what you have and prevent wasting food or needless purchases. For perishables, dedicate one shelf each in your refrigerator for beverages, produce and leftovers. A large refrigerator with large freezer capacity, allows you to stock up on items on sale.

• Get rewarded for loyalty. Join loyalty programs of establishments you frequent the most. Eventually your purchasing power will return major perks. For example, Shop Your Way, a free membership and shopping community, allows Kmart and Sears customers to earn points for their purchases to redeem online or in store. In addition, members get alerts on special offerings, personalized deals, product reviews, events and sweepstakes for even more savings.

• Tracking gets you a treat. Create a price book to record costs for items over a six-week period. Make a purchase only when prices hit their low. You'll optimize savings and often won't need a coupon.

• Increase your buying IQ with a smartphone. Download money-saving and grocery coupon apps like SavingStar and Coupons.com, as well as apps for rewards programs like Shop Your Way.

• Remember coupons are king. While many still enjoy clipping paper coupons, downloadable eCoupons are more popular than ever. Now, eCoupons are more sophisticated by pushing savings based on style and shopping habits like those from ShopYourWay.com. Sears is the first retailer to offer eCoupons that are redeemable in-store, online and from a mobile device. This will not only save money, but save time too.

• Go generic or store brands. It's always better to go with a store brand if you don't have a coupon for a name-brand item. While these versions are cheaper, they often offer similar quality.

• Serve what's on sale. Buying sale items in bulk allows you to pre-cook meals in one day to be served over the week.

Sources: ShopYourWay.com, Kenmore.com, Cookmore.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Americans Not Deterred by Rising Mortgage Interest Rates

August 20, 2013 1:45 am

Consumer attitudes toward the housing market are increasingly positive despite the recent rise in mortgage interest rates, according to results from Fannie Mae's July 2013 National Housing Survey. The share of respondents who believe interest rates will go up over the next year increased another 5 percentage points to 62 percent, the highest level in the survey's three-year history. Consumers also expect home prices to climb 3.9 percent on average over the next 12 months, holding steady from the May and June survey results. At the same time, the share of respondents who say it is a good time to buy a house increased to 74 percent, while the share who say it's a good time to sell a house increased to 40 percent, matching the survey high.

"Consumers have taken the interest rate rise in stride. Expectations for continued improvement in housing persist, and sentiment toward the current buying and selling environment is back on track from its dip last month," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "These results are consistent with our own analysis of previous housing cycles, which finds that interest rates and home prices are not strongly correlated."

Findings:

Homeownership and Renting

• At 3.9 percent, the average 12-month home price change expectation increased slightly to match May 2013's survey high.
• The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell four percentage points from June's survey high to 53 percent, while those who say home prices will go down reached a survey low of 6 percent.
• The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months jumped five percentage points to 62 percent, the highest level since the survey's inception.
• The share who says it is a good time to buy a house increased slightly to 74 percent, and those who say it is a good time to sell a house increased four percentage points to 40 percent.
• The average 12-month rental price expectation fell to 4.2 percent, a 0.4 percent decrease from last month.
• Fifty-four percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a two percentage point decrease from June's survey high.
• Forty-five percent of respondents think it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move decreased slightly to 64 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances


• At 40 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track increased two percentage points from June.
• The share of people who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell three percentage points to 43 percent.
• The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago remained steady at the survey high of 26 percent.
• At 30 percent, the share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago fell six percentage points from last month.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Back to School Season Is Busiest Time for Families

August 20, 2013 1:45 am

With the lazy days of summer quickly dwindling, families everywhere are in “Back to School" mode. Getting back into a routine that can include everything from carpooling, packing lunches and attending an endless schedule of soccer games, ballet classes and play-dates galore, it's no wonder 61 percent of parents report that back-to-school season is the busiest time of year for their families. The results are part of a national survey of more than 5,000 parents of school-aged children.

The majority of parents (77 percent) reported that between all members of their families, they have three or more activities/events per week, on average, once school starts. Other results from the survey include:

• 80 percent of respondents said once school starts, they will be planning more meals and attending more sporting events for their kids.

• 57 percent of parents said they try to have one meal together each day as a family to help balance their schedules.

Macaroni Kid provides these tips for parents this Back to School season:

• Do a run through. Are your kids starting a new school or a new routine? Do a run through. Wake up at "school time," brush teeth, get dressed, pack lunch, have a school-appropriate breakfast and maybe even drive or walk to school. Then, take those packed lunches and head to the park for a final summer break picnic.

• Plan the menus. Give your kids several options in each category and let them weigh in on what they'd like to find in their lunchboxes. You won't have to guess each morning and they are far more likely to eat it if they've had a hand in selecting it.

• Clean your closets. Nothing gets you and the kids ready for smooth mornings like purged, well-organized closets.

Source: Balance Bar

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5 Home Security and Safety Tips for Seniors

August 19, 2013 1:45 am

Americans who reach age 65 are living an average of 18.5 more years—a four-year increase from 1960—according to a recent federal Aging Forum report. Friends and family can’t always stay with individuals who remain at home and require caregiver help, so home security is of high concern for this growing segment of the population. Consider these tips to help keep seniors secure at home:

1. Light the outdoors: Motion-activated outdoor lights can discourage potential intruders and alert seniors to potential emergencies. Standard, constant lights should also be installed at home exits like porches and garage doors, and turned on each night.

2. Install a security system: Many home alarm systems offer remote access through key chains that allow seniors who have trouble moving around to arm or disable a system from any room in their homes. Make sure the chosen system covers burglary, fire and medical emergencies. Some providers also offer personal emergency monitoring systems that seniors can use to alert medical professionals in case of an emergency like a fall.

3. Check IDs: Scam artists may promise money and prizes in exchange for payment or personal information like a Social Security number. Ask for identification from anyone that comes to the door. Checking with the affiliated business before letting a service or delivery person in is also a good idea. The website Snopes keeps track of circulating scams and hoaxes. Police should be alerted to any suspicious individuals and activity.

4. Use locks on a regular basis: Existing locks on all entrances and exits of a home are useless if they aren’t routinely used. Make a habit of keeping them locked and replace any in poor shape. Locks should be accessible to seniors from the inside in case of an emergency.

5. Schedule routine check-ins: Whether it’s with a hired caregiver or a loved one, seniors should check-in at least once a day in person or via phone to ensure that all is well.

Source: www.securitychoice.com

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9 Ways to Avoid Food Poisoning

August 19, 2013 1:45 am

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how unpleasant it can be. But you may not know how easy it is to put people at risk, even in your own home, and especially during warm weather.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers nine household tips for avoiding the food contamination that causes food poisoning and related illnesses:

1. Wash your hands – Before you handle any food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you go handle raw meat, go to the toilet, or pause to play with pets, wash your hands again before you go back to food preparation.
2. Keep work tops sanitary – Wash counter tops and cutting boards with soapy hot water or an antibacterial sanitizer before and after handling food, especially raw meat, fish, eggs, or veggies that have not yet been scrubbed.
3. Wash cloths frequently – Damp, dirty dishcloths and hand towels are a perfect place for bacteria to breed. Wash and dry them after using before using them again.
4. Keep raw meat separate – Raw meat can contaminate other foods, including fruits, salads and vegetables. Store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where it can’t drip onto other foods, and keep it separate from other foods during meal preparation.
5. Use care with spoilable foods – Mayonnaise and eggs left unrefrigerated for long periods are a proven food poisoning danger. On picnics or in the backyard, keep them cool until consumed and/or throw away leftovers that may have warmed.
6. Cook food thoroughly – Make sure meats and poultry are fully cooked through and piping hot when served, with little or no pink color showing.
7. Cool leftovers quickly – Cool leftovers within 90 minutes of eating, and store in the fridge or freezer. Use refrigerated leftovers within two days.
8. Keep your fridge cold – Bacteria can grow, even in the fridge, if the temperature is over 5 degrees Celsius or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid keeping the doors open for long periods and check the temperature with a thermometer from time to time.
9. Respect ‘use-by’ dates – Tests show how quickly bacteria can contaminate foods that are past their prime. Consume packaged and bottled goods by or before the use-by date to avoid possible problems.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Liven Up Your Home with Color

August 19, 2013 1:45 am

(Family Features) The summer months are all about color. From flowers in bloom to vibrant beach towels and colorful dresses, summer brings with it a multitude of hues.

If you feel that your home is in need of an update, adding a little pop of color can help. Start by thinking about the colors you want to add, where color can make the most impact and just how much you need to give your home a fresh look.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your adventure in color:

Explore Color
Begin by visiting your favorite clothing boutique, stopping into a paint store or flipping through home design magazines for inspiration. Choose the looks you are most drawn to or the colors that evoke a feeling of happiness or calmness. These colors reflect your personal style and will make you feel most comfortable in your home.

Start Small
After picking a color palette, don’t go out and paint your whole house with it; start small. Just changing your accent pillows, throws, lampshades or accessories can make a big impact when you are introducing a new color. Remember to make sure the color flows well throughout the entire space, especially if your home has an open floor plan with rooms easily visible from one to another.

Accent with Artwork
Another easy way to bring color to your home is by updating artwork and wall decor. Simply moving artwork from one room to another can give your home a refreshed look. Adding some newly purchased pieces can also breathe new life into your home!

Be Brave

If you’re ready to go all out with color, it’s fine to make a dramatic change. The kitchen is a great place to go big with color and it’s usually the gathering place in the home. To bring bold color in the kitchen, and to set the tone for your entire home, update your cabinetry.

Source: KraftMaid

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Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates largely unchanged from the previous week after bouncing around over the past few weeks on market speculation that the Federal Reserve will taper in its upcoming September monetary policy committee meeting.

-30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.40 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending August 15, 2013, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.62 percent.

-15-year FRM this week averaged 3.44 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.43 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.88 percent.

-5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.23 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.19 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.76 percent.

-1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.67 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.62 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.69 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates have been bouncing around over the past few weeks on market speculation that the Fed will taper some of its monetary stimulus. In fact, 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the Fed to reduce the amount of bond purchases at its September 17th and 18th monetary policy committee meetings,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Currently, mortgage rates on 30-year fixed mortgages are 1.1 percentage points above their all-time low set on November 21, 2012, which translates into $125 more per month in mortgage payments on a $200,000 loan."

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Timeless Roof Colors

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

According to national color expert Kate Smith, the most timeless roofing colors used on American homes include black, gray and cedar. Colors that are gaining popularity in “shaking up” today’s roofs include shades of green, clay and terracotta.

“Black never goes out of style for any use,” says Smith, president and chief color maven of Sensational Color. “From the little black dress to the luxury black car to a crisp black tuxedo, there is an upscale feeling about black that crosses product and category boundaries.

“It’s not surprising that black, which denotes power and authority, is perhaps the most popular roofing color. For a lighter shade of black, gray clearly is the next most timeless color for roofs --- especially because so many people have selected natural slate roofs over the years.”
Smith notes that bright colored roofs were far more common historically than people realize.

“Colorful roofs with a range of reds, greens and even golds were used in all styles of homes in the past,” says Smith. “And, for homes with wood roofing, nothing matches a natural cedar color for a timeless appeal. Again, the historical aspect of people using real wood shakes, which were widely available in rural areas, has driven the popularity of this color over the years.”

New Classic Roofing Colors
In today’s home environment, Smith points out that consumers are expressing themselves more often with different colors - and blends of colors - on their roofs.

“I’ve seen how people’s tastes vary and how they enjoy having 49 standard roof colors to choose from,” says Smith. “While a majority of people request the polymer roofing tiles in black and gray, some people really wish to ‘shake up’ their roofs. Those homeowners may select a green blend of roofing tiles that beautifully complements both warm and cool tones on the rest of the home. And, green roofs work well in wooded settings or can easily ‘soften’ the look of a home in an exposed location.”

For a Mediterranean style home, Smith suggests that a terracotta or clay color can add accent appeal to the exterior. To replicate the look of cedar, but get all the advantages of a polymer shake roof, Smith recommends a Tuscano blend of light, medium light, medium and dark autumn colors that combine to provide the timeless “color feeling” of cedar.

Source: www.davinciroofscapes.com

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Multiple Offer Dilemma? Make your Offer Stand Out Against the Competition

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

Finding your dream home is no simple task. You may start by considering a price range or maybe you’re looking for a particular style of home. Often times, home buyers have to meet certain work or family needs – location, a particular number of rooms, the need for a big backyard or a specific amount of garage space.

There are several factors to consider as you narrow the search down to just a few properties. But what do you do when you find your dream home, only to discover other potential buyers have already made offers? In today’s competitive market, buyers need ways to make their offers stand out against the competition. When faced with a multiple offer situation, follow these tricks of the trade:

Include a Sales Price Escalation Addendum with your offer
A Sales Price Escalation Addendum is a document attached to your offer that allows it to be increased by a specified amount, which is activated if competing offers meet certain perimeters. The Sales Price Escalation Addendum is triggered if the seller receives one or more legitimate additional offers, which have a higher net value – the final sale price, after closing costs and buyer concessions have been agreed upon – than the offer with the escalation addendum. Specific values will vary from offer to offer, but this addendum gives your offer room for adjustment.

Don’t ask for Closing Cost Credits and Increase your Earnest Money Deposit
In the real estate business, money talks! Closing costs credits assist the buyer in purchasing the home and reduce the net cash to the seller. Oftentimes with multiple offers in the current sellers’ market, these requests have the offer thrown out immediately. Like a security deposit, earnest money is the initial deposit with the offer as an act of good faith. It shows the seller that you’re serious about your offer and moving towards the purchase. If the offer is accepted, this money goes towards the eventual down payment. When there are multiple offers, increasing the earnest money tells the seller you’re committed to the purchase, and they should give your offer more consideration.

Be prompt with inspection scheduling
When submitting an offer, every property is subject to inspection. Having a tightly scheduled inspection period not only shows you’re serious about moving forward, but also indicates to the seller that you’re in control of the situation. Industry standard is 17 day inspection period, reducing to 10 or 12 days is much more appealing. Being proactive expedites the sales process to closing, which will make any seller happy. By initiating the inspection process and keeping a tight schedule, you make your offer look more serious and closing attainable, which is the mutual goal.

Make sure your agent reaches out to the listing agent prior to submitting an offer
This will help expedite the offer process, again setting your offer apart from the competition. Using the selling agents preferred vendors for items such as termite, title and escrow go a long way to suggesting a smooth transaction. Also, the buyer may need a rent-back period after the sale, and give an idea whether they are willing to give any credits for repairs, etc. This eliminates many of the minor countering items and reduces back and forth negotiating up-front.

Use DocuSign
This cloud-based electronic signature technology facilitates the exchange of contracts, tax documents and other legal materials. DocuSign simplifies the real estate buying process by organizing all of your documents, making them mobile and easily accessible. Also, your electronic signature will be honored and secure. Since all the documents are saved as electronic files, they can be easily emailed to listing agents. Again, this shows that you are a serious buyer, working with you may be easier than others and they should consider your offer with more earnest.

Keep in mind offers can be too high
Some homebuyers may think no price is too high to pay for their dream home, but the highest offer is not always the strongest. Mortgage lenders must approve the value. Lenders won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised market value of the property. Even though the seller may love an offer higher than list price, the bank may not approve.

Following these steps through your next real estate purchase will help you compete with multiple, legitimate offers on your dream house, making yours stand out above the rest.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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6 Tips to Lawsuit-Proof Your Pool Party

August 15, 2013 1:42 am

With the dog days of summer upon us, here's hoping your pool party doesn't belly-flop into a lawsuit.

When it comes to potential pool party liability, safety is key. Before you fire up the grill and play another round of Marco Polo, take all the necessary pool safety precautions or you could get sued.

Here are a few tips on how to lawsuit-proof your pool party:

Prevent "toxic" pool injuries. During a party, lighting is key. But beware of dumping chemicals in the pool without considering the potential consequences. Last year, two ravers filed a lawsuit, alleging chemicals that made a pool glow under blacklights caused them partial vision loss. Swimming pool chemicals injure thousands yearly, but are largely preventable.

Repair and maintain nearby wires. Swimming pool electrocutions happen more often than you may think. If you have electricity powering lights or a pump that supplies water to a slide at your party, make sure the equipment and wiring is safe. And if you notice some precarious overhead wires, it may be best to call your local power company to get it checked out.

Protect young children. Pool parties are fun and games, but not for kids who don't know how to swim. Death and nonfatal injury rates for drowning are highest among children under four. To protect the little ones, install a self-closing gate around the pool, have them wear "floaties" during the party, and always keep them supervised.

Prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Slip 'n Slides are fun. Slip 'n falls? Not so much. Keep partygoers off slick surfaces so they don't slip and fall into a lawsuit. You may want to lay rubber mats around the pool and make sure the diving board is in good working order.

Prevent drunk driving. A pool party often entails adult libations - brewskies, pinot grigio and margaritas - but don't let people drive home drunk. If you do, and someone gets hurt, then you could be on the hook for social host liability.

Prevent pool hopping. When the party's winding out, take precautions to keep mischievous "pool hopping" teens out. Though they're trespassers, your best bet is to fence-in and lock your pool when the party's over.

Source: Findlaw.com

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