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 Shake Up Your Front Door

August 28, 2013 2:00 am

Builders, remodelers and homeowners interested in "shaking up" home exteriors should look to the roof first, according to color specialist Kate Smith.

"I always recommend people add color from the top down on a home exterior, starting at the roof and working their way down to the windows, door and trim," says Smith, chief color maven at Sensational Color. "However, I have the most fun with adding color to the front door. When you have a paintable door, you have the ability to add a 'pop' of welcoming color to any entryway."

"In each case the entry door is a prominent feature of the home that deserves special attention. This is the one specific area of the house where a homeowner shows off his or her personality. They may choose a bold red for the door that says 'I'm an extrovert' or a mellow yellow that declares 'I like being part of this community.'"

According to Smith, here’s a look at what different paint colors on entry doors of the home say about the occupants inside:

- Red tells the world to “look at me!” This bright color says I’m not afraid of standing out or saying what’s on my mind.
- White says that I prefer things that are organized, neat and clean. Even if my home isn’t always this way, I wish it was!
- Green tells the world that you have traditional values and enjoy being a member of the community.
- Black says I’m consistent, conservative and reserved in my manner as well as my approach to color. With a black door I’m saying my design style is timeless rather than trendy.
- Blue tells people you are naturally at ease in most situations and people are attracted to your easygoing personality.
- Yellow says you have a personality similar to green, but a bit less traditional. You’re most likely a leader or organizer of a group.
- Purple reveals a “free spirited” person who is comfortable taking risks, thinking differently and dreaming big.

Source: Therma-Tru

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Making Smart Home Improvements

August 28, 2013 2:00 am

When today’s homeowners decide that it’s time for an upgrade, they often look for ways to create a safer, more functional space. Members of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association agree that clients are making savvy choices.

Jim Nowlin, president of the Council, said most of the recent projects for his company have focused on kitchens and bathrooms.

“The master bath seems to be the biggest thing,” he said. “People are completely gutting and remodeling their bathrooms, adding larger showers, heavy glass enclosures and new cabinetry.”

Nowlin added, “Instead of plain-Jane tile, homeowners are choosing nice decorative tile work with mosaic patterns."

Gonzalo Garcia, vice-president of the Remodelers Council agrees.

“Clients are calling for the conversion of a bath tub to a shower,” he said. Luxury items, like overheard shower heads, also known as rain showers, are high on the list.

Garcia said another trend is the addition of a catch-all room. “The big home theatre is out, and it’s been replaced by a multi-purpose room,” he noted.

These new living spaces might hold a big screen television, library shelves, a work desk and craft tables.

Contractor Larry Abbott said clients are looking for ways to protect their investments and ensure longevity, usefulness and value in the home. He said energy efficiency remains a top priority in the industry. Attention to windows, doors, attic and wall insulation and meticulous weather-stripping is key. Abbott said LED lighting is also popular.

“Although the upfront costs are sometimes hard to swallow, homes are cooler – and most importantly, only cost pennies per year to operate,” he said. “The LED range of color can greatly enhance the beauty of art work and fine features in the home like stone countertops.”

Abbott said that many of his clients are interested in adding a room to the house.

“They are fixing up quarters above the garage either for a parent or for their grown children who haven’t settled on a profession or found their own nest yet."

Source: Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Back-to-School Health Checklist for Parents

August 27, 2013 2:00 am

Summer fun is almost over for about 50 million American students. To ensure that students of all ages go to class in the best possible health, the nation's emergency physicians are advising parents and guardians to do a little homework of their own and go through a back-to-school health checklist.

"Nothing is more important than making sure your child's health is in check," said Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Make sure all of the necessary forms and information are organized and easily available to those who need it." 

Checklist:

  • Organize your child's medical history records and emergency medical contact information.  Provide copies of this information to your child's school and any day care providers with instructions to take it with them to the emergency department if your child is sick or injured. The form should include information related to prescription medications, medical problems, or previous surgeries as well as pertinent family history and emergency contacts. An emergency information form is also available for children with special needs. Complete a consent-to-treat form and give copies to the school nurse and any day care providers to keep in your child's record and to take with them if your child should need to go to the emergency department. The form will allow caregivers to authorize medical treatment.
  • Coordinate with the school nurse and your child's physician to develop action plans for any health issues, such as asthma or food allergies. Communicate these plans to all appropriate care givers.
  • Schedule medical and dental check-ups before school starts. Some children will need immunizations. Consider vision and hearing tests, since impairment can adversely affect learning. Consider a sports check-up if your child will be playing in sports. 
  • Review and do a dry run with your child of his or her route to school, explaining potential hazards along the way. If your child walks to school, make sure he or she understands potential traffic dangers.
  • If your child takes the bus, establish a safe, visible pick up/drop off spot, preferably with a group of children and in an area where they can be clearly seen by adults. If your child drives to school, make sure he or she obeys all laws and wear seatbelts.  
  • Make sure your children know how to telephone for help. Post emergency contact numbers by every telephone in your home. Have them practice how to call 911 or the local emergency number and give their names, address and a brief description of the problem.
  • Develop a family emergency plan in case something happens on the way to (or from) and while at school. Be aware of the emergency and evacuation plans for your children's schools.

Source: American College of Emergency Physicians

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Saving on Moving Expenses

August 27, 2013 2:00 am

Whether you are packing up your college student or moving into the home you purchased this summer, here are some great tips from U-Haul for making the process easier and more cost effective:

  • Plan ahead. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible and use online packing planners to help determine how many boxes you will need.
  • Pack your boxes strategically. Choose a packing room ahead of time and box up a few things each day. Mark each box with its contents and destination room. Have all your boxes packed before you go to rent your truck. Load the heaviest items first, in front and on the floor. Pack items firmly and closely.
  • The last thing you want is the expense of having your personal belongings damaged. Protect your items by using the proper moving supplies, such as biodegradable packing peanuts, bubble wrap or furniture pads made from recycled fabrics. 
  • Save money on your rental by avoiding the weekend rush and especially trying to avoid the end of the month when apartment leases expire. Typically, Sunday through Thursday offers greater equipment availability…plus, banks, utilities and government offices are open.
  • Take advantage of free-storage offers if you need more time to move all of your belongings.
  • Make arrangements in advance for loading and unloading help. Now is the time to call in those favors!
  • Prior to moving, look into your homeowner's insurance policy, as some policies will cover belongings while moving as long as the insurance policy is in force during the move.

Source: U-Haul

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Market Index: Home Prices Advance in 250 of 300 U.S. Markets

August 27, 2013 2:00 am

The just-released Homes.com Local Market Index, utilizing home pricing data for the period ending June 2013, showed gains for single-family properties in 87 of the top 100 markets, a slight drop from 95 in the previous reporting period.

Starting with June 2013 housing data, the Homes.com Local Market Index has expanded to include midsized markets ranked from 101-300, providing a closer look at smaller markets nationwide. The Index showed increases in 250 of the top 300 markets, off from 259 the previous month. Year over year, all midsized markets increased.

As a complement to the Local Market Index, Homes.com released an exclusive Rebound Report, highlighting how the housing recovery process is unfolding across the country. Rebound data for June 2013 in the top 100 markets revealed that 19 markets across the U.S. are fully recovered – up from the previous month’s 16 markets. Additionally, 41 U.S. markets now show a rebound of 50 percent or more, up from 38 in last month’s report.

The latest Homes.com Local Market Index reports the following:

  • Monthly increases in 87 of the top 100 markets and in 163 of the 200 midsized markets.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii remains the top gaining market on a year-over-year basis with a 23.67 index point increase.
  • California markets [Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.; San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.; and San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.] are among the top 5 and increased 21.43, 20.52, and 19.44 index points respectively.
  • Six of the top 10 monthly gaining markets are in the South, two are from the Northeast, and two are from the West.

Highlights from the Homes.com Rebound Report for the top 100 markets show:

  • 19 have made more than a 100 percent rebound, indicating a complete recovery in these markets. This is up from 16 markets posting a full recovery in last month’s report.
  • The three newest markets to achieve a full rebound are Indianapolis- Carmel, Ind., Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Syracuse N.Y.
  • 41 show more than a 50 percent rebound, up from 38 markets in the previous report.
  • Six of the top 10 markets are from Texas, with five exceeding a 200 percent rebound.

Source: Homes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Six Surprising Home Hazards

August 26, 2013 2:00 am

You might think home fires are due to someone leaving the oven running or the coffee pot on. However, an alarming number of appliance fires are caused by the units themselves as opposed to human error. The September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, indentifies six appliances that cause the most fires and tips on how to minimize the risk.

"It was shocking to learn that appliances can turn themselves on or suddenly short-circuit and go up in flames," says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "So it's important to learn the signs of trouble and know what to do if you have to deal with an appliance fire."

ShopSmart analyzed data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System from 2002 through 2009 and found appliances were the main cause of 69,000 fires – with about half of the incidents linked to a mechanical, electrical, or design flaw. Below are the appliances that accounted for most of these fires and ways which consumers can minimize their risk:

1. Ranges. Burners that turn on by themselves and delayed ignition on a gas oven's bake and broil functions are the leading contributors to a range fire.
Number of fires: 16,824
Play it safe: Look for any unusual error messages on the range's digital display. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food and be sure to keep flammable items, including oven mitts, away from the cooktop. Kids should be kept at least 3 feet from the cooking area.

2. Clothes Dryers: Lint buildup and blockages and gas leaks on dryers that run on gas can cause fires.
Number of fires: 8,717
Play it safe: Don't run dryers when asleep or when no one is home. Clean out the lint filter before each load and check vents annually for clogs. If using a gas dryer, install a carbon monoxide alarm near the laundry room to warn of leaks, which are poisonous.

3. Microwaves. Units that turn on by themselves and glass doors that shatter unexpectedly can lead to a potential fire. Some microwave fire victims said that the panel flashed the code "PAN" or "F2" as self-starting began.
Number of fires: 1,705
Play it safe: Don't store food or other items in the microwave. Look for unusual error messages on digital display panels and if the unit goes on by itself, try to turn it off. Know where it's plugged in and which circuit breaker controls it in case it won't turn off using the microwave's controls.

4. Refrigerators: Fires can be caused by electronic components that short-circuit, control boards that overheat, or by lightbulbs that stay on when the door is shut.
Number of fires: 1,514
Play it safe: Be aware of unusual error messages on fridges with digital displays. Check that the lightbulb goes off when the fridge is closed by pressing the switch, which is usually inside where the door closes.

5. Dishwashers: Fires can be caused by circuit boards and heating elements catching fire, and liquid rinse aids that can leak into circuitry, creating a fire hazard.
Number of fires: 1,015
Play it safe: Don't run a dishwasher when asleep or when no one is home. If the rinse-aid dispenser needs constant refilling, call for a repair. Know which circuit breaker cuts power to the unit in case it starts smoking or goes up in flames.

6. Toasters and toaster ovens: Two potential fire hazards are units that turn themselves on and mechanism jams while toasting.
Number of fires: 902
Play it safe: Unplug toasters when not in use and inspect them for any frayed power cords. Don't toast anything that doesn't easily fit into the slot.

The good news is that these incidents are rare given the millions of appliances sold, and there are ways consumers can protect themselves from an incident.

• Register new appliances to be notified of service problems.
• Check for recalls at recalls.gov. In the past six years, more than 18.6 million appliances have been recalled for flaws that could cause a fire.

Sources: Consumer Reports, ShopSmart magazine

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

August 26, 2013 2:00 am

If you have moved this summer, your children may be nervous about beginning classes at their new school this fall. While moving is a difficult and tedious process for all involved, it can be particularly daunting for children. Leaving behind friends, familiarity and comfort in exchange for alien territory and feelings of isolation may leave your child anxious, scared or depressed.

Helping your child adjust to a new school will take a little time and a lot of patience. Read on for some useful tips on how to aid them in their transition.

Talk about it. Your child may be harboring concerns without voicing them. Bring up the topic of starting a new school to initiate a dialogue–talking about her fears and apprehensions will lessen the burden. Validate her feelings by expressing empathy and offering examples when you felt similarly, and mention times in her past when she had to do something else for the first time–perhaps her first day at kindergarten or summer camp.

Research the school. The fear of the unknown will lessen if it becomes more familiar. Spend some time researching your child’s new school online and take notes of interesting classes or activities that you think would appeal to him. Encourage involvement in sports and other extracurricular activities, and be sure to point out classes or clubs of interest to your child that were unavailable at his old school. Getting him excited about whatever his new school has to offer will take his mind off of his nervousness.

Have a practice run. Before classes begin, go through the motions as if you were taking your child to school. Walk to the bus stop, map out the route to school if she will be walking, or drive her to school so she is familiar with where you will drop her off and what entrance she will use. You could also schedule a tour of the school, where you can check out the classrooms, cafeteria or other places she will need to find on her first day.

Get involved. Younger children are often comforted by their parent’s presence in the school. Join the P.T.A or volunteer as a classroom aid or a chaperone for class trips and school events. This will also help you to meet other parents and arrange play-dates for your children.

Keep home life routine. With so much change happening, it’s important to try and instill some level of stability for your child. Keep his home life as routine as possible–stick to your usual schedule for mealtimes, bedtime and playtime.

Expect regression. Even the most perfect angel may begin to exhibit undesirable behaviors as a reaction to increased stress levels. Your younger children may throw tantrums, have accidents, or crawl into your bed at night. Teens may become angry and withdrawn, rebel, or mouth-off disrespectfully. Maintain your authority as the disciplinarian, but try your best to be empathetic to what your child is experiencing.

Source: Movers.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Labor Day Travel Plans Up Six Percent

August 26, 2013 2:00 am

TripAdvisor® has announced the results of its annual Labor Day and fall travel survey of more than 1,200 U.S. respondents, revealing 33 percent of consumers are planning Labor Day trips, a six percent jump compared to last year’s holiday weekend (27 percent). What’s more, consumers are also packing to go on their autumn getaways soon, with 86 percent planning fall travel in 2013 – nearly equal to 85 percent that planned to travel last year.

Leaving for Labor Day

• Driving is the most popular mode of transportation (63 percent) this Labor Day, while 30 percent will take to the skies.
• Of those traveling for the holiday weekend, 42 percent plan to visit family and friends. Twenty-five percent are trekking to the great outdoors, 24 percent will make a beeline for the ocean, and 20 percent will go on a city escape.
• New York City is the most popular destination among those traveling for Labor Day this year, followed by Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston.

Fall Vacation Trends

The main motivators for travel this autumn are fewer crowds (22 percent) and a more pleasant climate (19 percent). Additionally, 32 percent of travelers plan to spend more on their fall leisure trip in 2013, while 57 percent expect to spend about the same as last year.

• More than one-quarter (27 percent) of respondents will take three or more trips this fall.
• 56 percent of fall travelers will take a vacation lasting a week or longer.
• 52 percent book their fall vacation three or more months in advance.
• 43 percent of travelers will enjoy a romantic getaway with a loved one this fall and 38 percent will travel with family.
• 42 percent are planning to visit a repeat destination, while 20 percent will venture out to discover a new locale.
• 42 percent of fall leisure travelers will enjoy a city trip and 34 percent plan to head to the beach.
• 74 percent are planning a hotel stay, 28 percent will stay with family and friends and 22 percent will rent a vacation rental home.

Top 5 Fall Activities:

1. View colorful fall foliage – 44 percent
2. Go wine tasting / visit a vineyard – 29 percent
3. Go to a food festival – 22 percent
4. Attend a football game / collegiate homecoming – 18 percent
5. Go to a state / county fair or fall festival – 18 percent

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Will Your Beneficiaries Beat the Odds?

August 23, 2013 1:51 am

Two-thirds of baby boomers will inherit a total $7.6 trillion in their lifetimes, according to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research -- that’s $1.7 trillion more than China’s 2012 GDP. But they’ll lose 70 percent of that legacy, and not because of taxes. By the end of their children’s lives -- the third generation -- nine of 10 family fortunes will be gone.

“The third-generation rule is so true; it’s enshrined in Chinese proverb: ‘Wealth never survives three generations,’” says John Hartog of Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. “The American version of that is ‘shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”

There are a number of reasons that happens, and most of them are preventable say Hartog; CPA Jim Kohles, chairman of RINA accountancy corporation; and wealth management expert Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo, CEO of Pillar Wealth Management. How can the current generation of matriarchs, patriarchs and their beneficiaries beat the odds? All three financial experts say the solutions involve honest conversations – the ones families often avoid because they can be painful – along with passing along family values and teaching children from a young age how to manage money. Give them some money now and see how they handle it.

Many of the “wealth builders,” the first generation who worked so hard to build the family fortune, teach their children social responsibility; to take care of their health; to drive safely. “But they don’t teach them financial responsibility; they think they’ll get it by osmosis,” says estate lawyer Hartog. If those children are now middle-aged, it’s probably too late for that. But the first generation can see what their offspring will do with a sudden windfall of millions by giving them a substantial sum now – without telling them why.

“I had a client who gave both children $500,000. After 18 months, one child had blown through the money and the other had turned it into $750, 000,” Hartog says. Child A will get his inheritance in a restricted-access trust.

Be willing to relinquish some control. Whether it’s preparing one or more of their children to take over the family business, or diverting some pre-inheritance wealth to them, the first generation often errs by retaining too much control, says CPA Kohles. “We don’t give our successor the freedom to fail,” Kohles says. “If they don’t fail, they don’t learn, so they’re not prepared to step up when the time comes.”

In the family business, future successors need to be able to make some decisions that don’t require the approval of the first generation, Kohles says. With money, especially for 1st-generation couples with more than $10 million (the first $5 million of inheritance from each parent is not subject to the estate tax), parents need to plan for giving away some of their wealth before they die. That not only allows the beneficiaries to avoid a 40 percent estate tax, it helps them learn to manage the money.

Give your beneficiaries the opportunity to build wealth, and hold family wealth meetings. The first generation works and sacrifices to make the family fortune, so often the second generation doesn’t have to and the third generation is even further removed from that experience, says wealth manager Ashoo. “The best way they’re going to be able to help preserve the wealth is if they understand what goes into creating it and managing it – not only the work, but the values and the risks,” Ashoo says.

The first generation should allocate seed money to the second generation for business, real estate or some other potentially profitable venture, he says. Holding ongoing family wealth meetings with your advisors is critical to educating beneficiaries, as well as passing along family and wealth values, Ashoo says. It also builds trust between the family and the primary advisors.

Ashoo tells of a recent experience chatting with two deca-millionaires aboard a yacht in the Bahamas.

“They both built major businesses and sold them,” Ashoo says. “At this point, it’s no longer about what their money will do for them -- it’s about what the next generations will do with their money.”

John Hartog is a partner at Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. He is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, and taxation law. Jim Kohles is chairman of the board of RINA accountancy corporation. He is a certified public accountant specializing in business consulting, succession and retirement planning, and insurance. Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo is the CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, LLC, specializing in client-centered wealth management. All three are based in Walnut Creek, Calif., and advise ultra affluent families.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Does A Mortgage Broker Do?

August 23, 2013 1:51 am

Finding the right lender may be difficult for first time loan borrowers. More often than not borrowers may have a hard time finding the difference between using mortgage brokers and bankers. There are two ways a loan borrower may apply for a loan, mainly through a mortgage broker or going directly to a banker. While both may seem similar, their methods in obtaining the loan is different based on a few key factors.

First off, loan borrowers seeking to find a lender through bankers may prove to be a bit tricky. Banks tend to only supply their own loan products, which can be rather limiting. If a borrower wants to find a good loan deal, investing time in shopping for a loan and doing extensive loan lending process research is recommended. Looking for loans from bank to bank can be time consuming, but if a loan borrower has a history with a particular bank, they may get discount on loan products. The internet and a wide variety of comparison tools have also made searching for a lender easier and more efficient.

On the other hand, mortgage brokers often have an advantage over bankers with their extensive mortgage industry knowledge at hand and a larger selection of loan lenders. Brokers work with lots of lenders, often from all over the country. They may know the best deals that can be had when it comes to rates and terms, and because they work with lots of lenders they can usually find at least one that's willing to loan money to people with less-than-perfect credit and other special circumstances that most banks just aren't going to be interested in.

This comes at a price, however, in the form of commission. Mortgage brokers do not work for free when having a service rendered, and this will reflect with commission, or a referral fee, to be paid by either loan borrower or lender. Loan borrowers may be faced with a heavy commission fee they may be unable to pay. Also bear in mind that some mortgage brokers may be influenced by higher commission payments that loan lenders are offering. Borrowers should be fully aware that this risk is always there.

Although bankers and mortgage brokers both deal with the loan lending process, mortgage brokers go about loan lending in an entirely different process. Whether a mortgage broker is the right option for a loan borrower depends on their financial situation. One last piece of advice to offer when it comes to searching for a loan lender: Whether you choose a banker or a broker, it all depends on how much time you want to spend looking for a deal.

Source: LoanLove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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