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

Make Sure Your Home is Air-Tight

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

Space heating can account for up to 60 percent of most homeowners' energy bills. This is especially true with older homes, which can often be drafty, lightly insulated and may still have older, less energy efficient windows, doors and heating systems. This can add up to substantially higher home heating costs.

One of the best ways to cut down on your bills and keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer is by making sure your home is well sealed. CMHC offers the following tips on how to improve the airtightness of your home, to help you save money, reduce your environmental footprint and make your house more comfortable to live in:

• Air sealing not only cuts heat losses and gains, it also improves comfort by reducing drafts, helps improve the performance of the insulation in your walls and attic by stopping cold winter wind from washing through it, and, it can help prevent moisture build-up in your walls and attic.

• Finding air leaks can often be a challenge. Sometimes they are detectable by feeling for cold drafts in suspect locations. Other times, you may be able to see daylight shining in through unwanted openings. Blackened insulation is often another sign. For a more thorough assessment, consider hiring a qualified residential energy service provider to perform a "blower door" test of your house. During this test, your house is forced to leak, making it easier to find air leakage locations with smoke emitting devices or a special thermographic scanner.

• A blower door test can also tell you the size of the hole all the leakage areas would add up to if they were all located on one location. This is helpful when you want to know how leaky your house is relative to other houses. If a blower door test is done before and after air sealing, you can also find out how much you have reduced the air leakage of your home.

• Some of the more common air leakage points can include ceiling pot light fixtures installed through ceilings into attic spaces, electrical boxes in ceiling and exterior walls; inside to outside wiring, plumbing and duct penetrations; bathroom exhaust fans installed in attic ceilings; older windows and doors; the joint between windows and the surrounding walls; and floor-wall joints.

• Once you have located the leaks, you can use a variety of different approaches to seal them. For instance, leaky windows and doors can be sealed with gaskets or new weatherstripping. Gaps around wiring, pipes and ducts can be sealed with caulking or spray foam. Electrical boxes can be sealed with special gaskets that fit behind the box plate covers. Joints between walls and floors and around the top of your foundation may be sealed with caulking or spray foam depending on the size of the gap. To find out the right options for your home, be sure to consult a contractor with expertise in air leakage control.

• If you are replacing your exterior siding, it's a good time to add an exterior air barrier (and more insulation) that wraps your house in a draft proof cover from the basement to attic.

• While air sealing is always a good idea, you might have to add mechanical ventilation in the form of a bathroom fan, a range hood, or better yet, a heat recovery ventilation system, to help maintain healthy indoor conditions. Air sealing can also adversely affect the ability of some fuel-fired furnaces, boilers and hot water tanks to safely vent combustion products so an additional source of outdoor air may be needed. Consult a qualified mechanical contractor for guidance on ventilation system options and combustion air needs for your home before you start.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Six Safety Tips when Working Around Electricity

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

Safety should always be a priority when working outside near overhead power lines. Safe Electricity reminds everyone to do the following when working outside:

• Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles. Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep in mind that wind can blow large objects out of your control.

• Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from power lines. Even if you do not come in contact with a power line, the electricity can arc to close objects and people.

• Be careful when working on or around your roof—installing or cleaning gutters, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, or doing repair work. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.

• Never climb trees near power lines.

• Never trim trees near power lines. Leave that to the professionals.

• Always follow safety procedures, no matter how boring and mundane they seem.

Source: SafeElectricity.org

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Real Estate Deal Breakers

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

Home sellers in today's market should know that plenty of buyers with good credit are simply being cautious. Though this tends to keep sales down, in most areas it’s still a buyer’s market and people can afford to be picky.

"Most buyers in this market will try to re-negotiate based on the findings of their home inspection. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs or lower the price, they walk away," says Kathleen Kuhn, president and CEO of HouseMaster. “More and more home sellers are getting a pre-listing home inspection that helps identify potential deal-breaking issues before the house is listed on the market,” Kuhn continues.

"This way, sellers can fix problems and worry less about a buyer walking away later in the deal process."

According to Kuhn, the following are "The Fearsome Four" when it comes to real estate deals:

Roofing Concerns: A new homeowner does not want the expense of roof replacement shortly after closing. Many sellers believe that if their roof is not leaking, it is in acceptable condition. However, underlying issues can exist.

Electrical Problems: Some panel models were discontinued and might even pose a fire hazard. Although they are straightforward to replace, the potential fire risk can be scary for prospective buyers.

Structural Issues: Fortunately, major structural issues are the least common defect found in homes, but when they do occur, they can be costly to repair. Note that a professional home inspector won’t assess the extent of repairs needed when these conditions are found. Structural engineers and other professionals should be consulted to get specifics on the scope of repairs needed.

Synthetic Stucco or Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS): Overall EIFS can be effective, economical alternatives to traditional stucco. Unfortunately, installation issues often lead to trapped moisture behind the siding, causing mold and extensive deterioration. In many cases the siding has to be replaced, often with a different type of siding that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Sellers lose some advantage when they are caught off guard by issues, including minor ones. Sellers can use tools like pre-listing home inspections and repair records to show that they are conscientious and have taken appropriate steps to sell responsibly and competitively.

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Clean Up with These Helpful Kitchen Tips

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

(Family Features)--So much of life happens in the kitchen – from hurried morning breakfasts to after-school snacks with the kids – it’s likely to be the most travelled room of the home.

Unfortunately, all this activity in one room can cause many messes and much required upkeep. By following a few simple steps, you can keep this important space tidy, clean and smelling great.

Here are some simple tips to keep your kitchen clean and inviting:

Add Some Citrus
Does your garbage disposal have an uninviting stench? Here’s one simple solution – use orange or lemon peels to freshen the drain or disposal. Simply run cool water from your faucet, turn on the disposal, throw in the peels and take in the fresh citrus scent. This is a perfect way to use old fruit that is no longer good enough to eat.

Make Dishes Sparkle
Dirty plates, pots, pans, glasses and utensils pile up quickly in busy kitchens. Get dishes sparkling clean with a dish liquid that leaves your hands feeling soft. In a recent survey conducted by Kelton, 33 percent of those who wash dishes by hand said their skin is usually dry afterwards.

Keep Up With Countertops
The kitchen countertop is the easiest place to collect a mess so it’s important to keep it tidy. Because so many countertops are made with fine woods, stones and other specialty materials, it is important to know what cleaning products you can use on them so they keep their beautiful appearance. In general, avoid abrasive cleaners and never use steel wool or other harsh brushes which can scratch the surface. Invest in protectors such as trivets for hot cookware, or trays for oil bottles and other cooking items that keep permanent residence on countertop space.

Love Your Oven
Ovens are often the most neglected appliance in the kitchen. Open them up to find baked-on spills, burnt-on food, as well as splatters covering the exterior. Be sure you’re giving your oven the maintenance it needs by cleaning it at least once each season. Whether you’re using a homemade cleaning concoction or a heavy-duty store-bought brand, it is important to scour every nook and cranny. Also, give attention to the range top and ensure all extra food debris has been removed and cleaned.

Source: www.palmolive.com

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Tips to Keep Young Children Safe and Sunburn Free All Summer Long

July 11, 2013 12:26 am

With summer fully here, the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) is reminding parents to think about summer safety during these hot, humid and sunny months. To beat the heat, parents can create fun indoor activities for their children to avoid heat exhaustion and limit UV exposure. Parents should pull down their window coverings to both help keep the sun out and to keep kids cool. The WCSC reminds parents and caregivers to only use cordless window coverings in homes with young children. To ensure window coverings are safe for your children, free window covering retrofit kits can be ordered through the WCSC website.

Safety should also be top of mind when play moves outdoors. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared July 2013 UV Safety Month, to educate Americans about the dangers of too much sun exposure. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and young children's skin is particularly sensitive to the sun. When enjoying outdoor activities this summer, the Skin Cancer Foundation offers this advice to parents to help keep their children burn free:

• Infants under six months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen.
• Babies six to twelve months of age should dress in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs. Sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside, and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
• Toddlers should be in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as much as possible. Parents should check the outdoor area where their child plays to make sure there is adequate shade. Also, provide them with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect their face, neck and ears.

Source: Window Covering Safety Council

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Generational Trends Shows Younger Buyers More Optimistic

July 11, 2013 12:26 am

Millennials are more confident than any other age group that their recent home purchase was a good financial investment, according to a new study recently released. The inaugural 2013 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends evaluated the generational differences of recent home buyers and sellers and found that while eight out of 10 recent buyers considered their home purchase a good financial investment, the number was even higher, 85 percent, for younger buyers under the age of 32.

"Homeownership is an investment in your future, and is how many younger American families begin to accumulate wealth," said Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research. "The oldest of the Millennial generation are now entering the years in which people typically buy a first home, and despite the recent downturn, homeownership still matters to them. The sheer size of the Millennial generation, the largest in history after baby boomers, is expected to give a powerful boost to long-run housing demand, though in the short-term mortgage accessibility and student debt repayment remain challenges."

The study found that the largest group of recent buyers was Generation X Americans, those born between 1965 and 1979, who comprised 31 percent of recent purchases, followed closely by Millennials, sometimes called Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, at 28 percent. Percentages of recent home purchases among prior generations was significantly lower, 18 percent were Younger Boomers, those born between 1955 and 1964; 14 percent were Older Boomers, Americans born between 1946 and 1954; and 10 percent were from the Silent Generation, those born between 1925 and 1945.

The median age of Millennial home buyers was 28, their median income was $66,200 and they typically bought a 1,700-square foot home costing $165,000. The typical Gen X buyer was 39 years old, had a median income of $93,100, and purchased a 2,100-square foot home costing $235,000.

Younger buyers had a tendency to stay closer to their previous residence, often staying within 10 miles, whereas older buyers moved longer distances, typically more than 20 miles from their previous home.

Younger buyers were more likely to buy in an urban or central city area than older buyers; 21 percent of Millennials bought a home in an urban location compared to only 13 percent of Older Boomer and Silent Generation buyers.

The reason for buying a home also varies across the generations; younger buyers most often cited the desire to own a home of their own whereas older buyers wanted to be closer to family and friends. When it comes to factors influencing neighborhood choice, younger generations cited convenience to jobs, affordability of homes, and quality of the school district. Older generations placed higher importance on convenience to family and friends and healthcare facilities.

When it comes to a home's green features, younger buyers placed higher importance on commuting costs than older generations who placed higher importance on a home's energy efficient features and living in an environmentally friendly community.

Millennials tended to make more compromises with their home purchase than any other generation. Millennials most often conceded on the price and size of the home, lot size, distance from job and style of home; whereas nearly half of Older Boomer and Silent Generation buyers made no compromises on their recent home purchase.

Ninety percent of Millennials frequently used the internet to search for homes compared to less than half of Silent Generation buyers. Younger generations of buyers were also more likely to find the home they purchased through the internet; older buyers most often learned about the home they purchased from their real estate agent.

Buyers of all ages gain many benefits from working with a real estate professional. Among the age groups, younger buyers are more likely to want an agent's help understanding the home buying process, presumably because many are buying a home for the first time. Younger buyers were most often referred to their agent by a friend, neighbor or relative whereas older buyers were increasingly likely to work with the same agent they previously used to buy or sell a home.

Source: NAR

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Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Juices: Handle Them Safely!

July 11, 2013 12:26 am

Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your very own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds us that safe handling of produce and fresh-squeezed juice is especially important because these foods are often consumed raw. What's more, foodborne bacteria multiply faster in warm weather – making food safety even more important as temperatures rise.

Follow these tips to prevent food poisoning from produce and fresh-squeezed juices:

Buy right
. Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. When selecting pre-cut produce, choose only those that are refrigerated or on ice. Bag fresh fruits and vegetables and keep them separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your grocery cart and shopping bags.
Store properly. Keep perishable fresh fruits and vegetables refrigerated at 40°F or below, including all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Wash thoroughly. Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. For pre-packaged produce, look on the package – if it says pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use it without further washing. And remember: even if you plan to peel produce, it's important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the outside to the inside when you cut into it.

Prepare safely. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. And if it looks rotten, discard it.

Prevent cross contamination
. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood and preparing produce that will not be cooked. Consider using separate cutting boards – one for meat, poultry, and seafood and a separate one for fruits and vegetables. If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after each use. And always wash hands before and after preparing food!

Check your juice. Children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking juices that have not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to control harmful bacteria. Look for pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers' refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles or cans. Untreated juices sold in refrigerated cases of grocery or health food stores, cider mills, and farmers' markets must contain a warning label indicating that the product has not been pasteurized. However, warning labels are not required for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass. If you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized – be sure to ask!

Keep all foods safe this summer by practicing the Four Steps to Food Safety: clean hands and surfaces often; separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods, particularly ready-to-eat foods; cook to safe temperatures; and chill foods promptly.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Paying Your Kitchen & Bath Contractor

July 10, 2013 12:26 am

With the market gradually recovering, more homeowners are spending money on remodeling projects. If they are not careful, homeowners can end up paying more than they ever expected. Here are some valuable tips on how to avoid three of the most common pitfalls.

Pitfall #1: A homeowner makes a large deposit, then gets no work done.

This is one of the most common scams among unscrupulous contractors. They ask for a big deposit or to pay for all of the materials upfront, then the homeowner never hears from them again. To avoid this pitfall, homeowners should not pay for work or materials upfront and should avoid any large deposits.

In some states, it is against the law for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent or $1,000 (whichever is less) for a downpayment. They cannot legally ask for upfront payment for materials or work. The one exception is if the contractor is ordering customer-requested custom materials.

Pitfall #2: Suppliers or subcontractors come after the homeowner for payment.

Homeowners are responsible for suppliers and subcontractors who do not get paid on their job. They can even put a lien against the home where they did the work. To avoid this pitfall, there are several strategies a homeowner can use:

• Pay the supplier or subcontractor directly.
• Issue joint checks to the contractor and supplier/subcontractor.
• Get an unconditional lien release from suppliers/subcontractors.

Pitfall #3: Homeowner is liable for an injury on the job, including lost wages.

If the general contractor does not have valid insurance, the homeowner is liable for any injuries on the job. This includes paying lost wages, if someone gets hurt and cannot work for a period of time. To avoid this pitfall, check that the general contractor has valid liability and workman’s comp insurance.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid these and other potential pitfalls is to work with a reputable contractor who has a history of paying suppliers and subcontractors on time.

Source: Cornerstone Design & Remodel

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Questions to Ask When Buying a House

July 10, 2013 12:26 am

Americans continue to have home-buying fever thanks to continued low mortgage interest rates. However, in order to help eager homebuyers avoid costly surprises down the road, GoBankingRates has put together a list of the most important – but often overlooked – questions home shoppers need to ask before committing to a home purchase and long-term mortgage debt.

1. Is renting vs. buying a better option?

Before you spend too much time looking for your dream home, you need to weigh all your options. David Bakke from the website Moneycrashers.com suggests you ask yourself the question, “Is renting vs. home buying a better option?” Depending on your situation, you may not be ready to buy, may need some time to save for a down payment, or may live in a more expensive housing market.

“If you have a lot of debt, a low credit score, or don’t have much money saved up, renting may be a better option,” advises Bakke. Someone with these factors may have to wait a few more years to be in a better financial situation before they are able to obtain a mortgage loan.

2. What is the neighborhood’s crime rate?

The second thing regarding what questions to ask when buying a house is the safety of your neighborhood and town. David Bakke sums it up great, “What is the crime rate in the area?”

3. What are my home ‘needs’ and ‘wants’?

According to Steve Aaron, a Beverly Hills REALTOR® featured on HGTV’s “Selling LA,” “No property is perfect. What are your ‘deal breakers’ vs. your wants. Where are you willing and able to compromise?” The point here is to have a shorter check-list of “must-haves” when looking at potential homes.

4. Where is the seller’s disclosure?

Even if you fall head-over-heels for a house, don’t be punch-drunk in love with it. Unlike a person, a home is just four walls — and there are plenty out there with many more being built. Aaron recommends to, “Ask the listing agent if there are any seller disclosures (known defects of material facts that can affect desirability or value) before you write an offer.” Just like a relationship, you need to take time to know your future partner, or in this case, your future home.

5. Can I make the needed home renovations or additions?

If you are looking to add on to your home or do renovations, it is wise to check the house’s zoning or area disclosure. Steven Aaron told me, “Know if the property is located in any type of historic or preservation area or area disclosure. There may be limits on adding on, aesthetics etc.”

Based on my personal experience from litigation and headaches caused by neighbors, homeowners’ associations and local, state and federal government regulations, a little homework goes a long way.”

Source: www.gobankingrates.com

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Your Guide to Coping on a Long Haul Flight

July 10, 2013 12:26 am

With cheaper and more regular flights around, an increasing amount of people are jet setting to the other side of the world, however, for people who are not used to flying or flying long haul then it can be quite daunting as well as tiresome. Here is a short guide on how to cope with the going long distance.

Firstly, if you're flying to somewhere like Sydney or Beijing, rather than opting for a straight flight thinking that you will get there quicker, it may be a good idea to search for flights with transfers or layovers so that you can get off the plane, stand up, have a walk around to get some fresh air.

Keep yourself entertained. Most airlines that operate long distance flights do have in-flight entertainment such as a TV at the back of the seat behind you. However, if you are on a seven- or 14-hour flight then you may want something more than a film to prevent you from getting bored. Most people pack away their books or magazines in their suitcase. Make sure that you pack these in your carry-on - you never know when you might fancy a read!

Throughout the flight, be sure to drink plenty of water. The temptation during long haul flights, when drinks are free, is to opt for hot, fizzy or alcoholic beverages, but you need to make sure that you keep hydrated, as dehydration is one of the worst aspects of flying.

Although most major airlines do offer a blanket or an eye mask, always be prepared. If you find it difficult to sleep on planes then ear plugs and eye masks may be something that you want to pack with you. It is also a good idea to ensure that you are wearing layers so you can adjust accordingly to the air conditioning and have a comfortable flight.

Finally, if you can, try and find a flight that sets off at night, that way you may find that for half of the journey you are sleeping and by the time you wake up you will nearly have reached your destination.

Source: SportsDirect.com

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