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

Fixed Mortgage Rates Highest in a Year

June 3, 2013 12:12 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates following long-term government bond yields higher. The average 30-year fixed moved up nearly half a percentage point since the beginning of May when it averaged 3.35 percent. Regardless, mortgage rates remain low historically, helping to keep home-buyer affordability high, which should continue to aid home sales and construction as the housing market continues to recover.

Findings:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.81 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending May 30, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.75 percent.
• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.97 percent.
• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.66 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.84 percent.
• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.55 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates followed long-term government bond yields higher following a growing market sentiment that the Federal Reserve may lessen its accommodative policy stance,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Improving economic data may have encouraged those views. For instance, the Conference Board reported that confidence among consumers rose in May to its highest level since February 2008. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite index for March rose to its highest reading since November 2008 (seasonally adjusted). All 20 cities had positive monthly gains, led by a 3.2 percent increase in Las Vegas."

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Five Reasons to Invest in a Home Comfort System This Summer

June 3, 2013 12:12 am

In 2013 alone, homeowners are expected to spend more than $150 billion on home improvements. This forecast comes from the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. With countless options available, many homeowners are left overwhelmed with the best way to spend their home improvement dollars. New York-based interior designer, author and TV star Cortney Novogratz recommends starting with an investment in home comfort.

“I tell my clients that you can spend a little less on decorative items so that you can really invest in the high-quality systems that are going to make your home functional and comfortable, especially in the summer months,” says Novogratz. “I urge my clients to ask themselves, what’s going to help you live better in your home? Often, that’s your cooling and heating system.”

While known for her eclectic decorating style that mixes high-end collectibles with flea-market finds, Novogratz is no stranger to what makes a home more habitable. She emphasizes that a quality cooling and heating system is one of the most important investments homeowners can make. Novogratz offers five reasons why a cooling and heating system is a smart investment for home remodeling this summer:

1. The impact on comfort. Many homes in the U.S. have cooling and heating systems that result in parts of the house being either unbearably hot or uncomfortably cold. Advanced technology should precisely adjust the temperature to a homeowner’s preference in each room. This allows homeowners to cool the rooms they use the most, while saving energy in less used areas of the house.

2. The utility costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 50 percent of the average home’s energy bill can be linked directly to cooling and heating costs, amounting to approximately $1,100 per year. The right air-conditioning and heating system is the single most significant way a homeowner can save on utility costs, especially in the summer, when cooling costs can skyrocket. Ductless systems avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork, which the EPA estimates can account for more than 30 percent of energy consumption. Homeowners may be eligible to receive a tax credit of 10 percent, or up to $300, for qualifying systems through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

3. The impact on the environment. By using systems that are made of mostly recyclable parts and use an environmentally friendly refrigerant that won’t pollute the environment, homeowners are doing their part to help conserve energy and resources.

4. The way you live in your home. Many times the cooling and heating system is a nuisance. Window air conditioners are unsightly, and traditional systems require extra space to accommodate ductwork, creating awkward room shapes and drop ceilings. Most newer systems can be easily installed in new construction and in older buildings. They can be controlled anytime, anywhere through a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device.

5. The quality of air your family breathes. “What is especially important to me with these systems is that I can be in control of the air my kids are breathing,” says Novogratz. Circulating room air effectively and having multiple allergen filters can greatly improve a home’s indoor air quality.

Source: Cortney Novogratz

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Americans Are Among World's Top Tippers

May 30, 2013 3:36 am

TripAdvisor® announced the results of its tipping survey of more than 9,000 respondents of which 1,600 are in the U.S. According to the survey, 99 percent of Americans tip on vacation and of the group, 57 percent always do while traveling, compared to the average of 43 percent who always tip among seven other countries.

Americans are Likely to Leave a Tip
We asked travelers in local markets around the world how likely they are to tip on trips. Below are statistics on how often travelers from each country surveyed always tip while on vacation:

1. Germans – 69 percent
2. Americans – 57 percent
3. Russians – 53 percent
4. Brazilians – 40 percent
5. French – 39 percent
6. Brits – 39 percent
7. Spanish – 36 percent
8. Italians – 23 percent

TripAdvisor surveyed respondents in eight countries across the globe: U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, and Brazil.

U.S. Tipping Trends
The greatest amount of U.S. respondents (59 percent) tip on vacation when staff go the extra mile.

Tips on Tipping
When traveling to other countries, only 16 percent of U.S. respondents said they always feel they are informed on how much to leave.
To better their knowledge of tipping abroad:

• 73 percent reference travel guides
• 48 percent read online reviews
• 46 percent check online forums
• 35 percent ask friends or family who have visited the country
• 26 percent get the lowdown from the locals

Tools for Tipping
To calculate the gratuity, mental math trumps technology:
• 85 percent calculate the tip in their head
• 18 percent use their smartphone
• 7 percent carry a tip conversion sheet

Tipping Troubles
Sixteen percent of U.S. respondents report they have been asked to leave a tip by staff, nine percent cite they have been confronted about the tip, and three percent admit that a tipping situation has ruined their vacation.

Source: TripAdvisor

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Foreclosure Inventory Down 24 Percent Nationally from One Year Ago

May 30, 2013 3:36 am

CoreLogic® released its April National Foreclosure Report, which provides data on completed U.S. foreclosures and the national foreclosure inventory. According to CoreLogic, there were 52,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in April 2013, down from 62,000 in April 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 16 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures remained flat at 52,000*, the same number reported for March 2013.

As a basis of comparison, prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.4 million completed foreclosures across the country.

As of April 2013, approximately 1.1 million homes in the U.S. were in some stage of foreclosure, known as the foreclosure inventory, compared to 1.5 million in April 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 24 percent. Month over month, the foreclosure inventory was down 2 percent from March 2013 to April 2013. The foreclosure inventory as of April 2013 represented 2.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage compared to 3.5 percent in March 2013.

“The shadow of foreclosure and distress continues to fade, with the annualized sum of completed foreclosures having declined for 17 straight months,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Six states have year-over-year declines in the foreclosure inventory of more than 40 percent, and in Arizona and California the year-over-year decline is more than 50 percent.”

“The shadow inventory continued to drop in April as the number of completed foreclosures fell by 16 percent on a year-over-year basis,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Fewer distressed properties combined with improving home prices and a pickup in home purchases are significant signals that the ongoing recovery in the housing and mortgage markets continues to gather steam.”
Highlights as of April 2013:

• The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in April 2013 were: Florida (102,000), California (79,000), Michigan (68,000), Texas (53,000) and Georgia (47,000). These five states account for almost half of all completed foreclosures nationally.
• The five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in April 2013 were: South Dakota (81), District of Columbia (100), North Dakota (461), Hawaii (466) and West Virginia (527).
• The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Florida (9.5 percent), New Jersey (7.4 percent), New York (5.1 percent), Maine (4.4 percent) and Nevada (4.3 percent).
• The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Wyoming (0.5 percent), Alaska (0.6 percent), North Dakota (0.7 percent), Nebraska (0.8 percent) and Virginia (0.9 percent).

Source: Corelogic

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Young Americans Display Interest in Buying a Home This Year

May 30, 2013 3:36 am

Among Americans ages 18 to 34, a total of 41 percent (46 percent men and 36 percent women in that age group) display an interest in buying a home this year. Of those in this age group who display an interest, 17 percent of men and about 6 percent of women see their finances as shaky but still think they can swing buying a home this year.

Among all Americans displaying an interest in buying a home this year, 10 percent of men and 4 percent of women said their finances were shaky but still think they can swing buying a home.

Leading market research firm Harris Interactive conducted a survey online among 2,064 U.S. adults ages 18 and older from April 18-22, 2013. The survey was conducted after the federal tax filing deadline, when Americans generally have a clearer picture of their financial health. Overall, across age groups, 30 percent of Americans display an interest in buying a home during the next year.

Other interesting findings of the survey are:

• Only 20 percent of those tax filers who are separated, divorced or widowed have or had an interest in buying a home this year, which is significantly less than those who are married (31 percent) or single and never married (38 percent).

• Of those displaying an interest in buying a home this year, those in households with children under 18 years old are significantly more likely than households without to indicate they can't afford a home this year (24 percent versus 14 percent, respectively). However, they are also twice as likely as those without to indicate that, after seeing their taxes, they know their finances are stressed but still believe they can manage buying a home this year (11 percent and 5 percent, respectively).

Source: www.dhltd.com

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A Group Vibe Can Help You Get Fit, Give Back

May 29, 2013 3:36 am

It may come as no surprise that sharing a diet plan or an exercise routine with a friend can help you stay on track.

“Adding public commitment to personal dedication is often what keeps you from falling off the wagon,” said Crunch fitness instructor Amy Flores.

One overweight mom in Missouri lost 70 pounds in seven months by taking the strategy one step further, Flores said – posting her commitment on a Facebook Page and inviting several dozen friends to not just join her in losing weight, but to donate cash to a favorite cause for every pound they lost.

“Once she took her goal public,” Flores said, “she didn’t dare fall off the wagon until she reached goal – and the same strategy could work whether you want to shed pounds, stop smoking, or accomplish any other health and fitness goal.”

Flores offers three tips for those who want to put the strategy in place:

• Give people plenty of notice – Whether you want your friends to donate money for each pound you lose, or donate to a charity of their choice as they work to hit their own goals, determine a start date and post your notice publicly several weeks before you plan to begin.

• Make tracking easy – Create a donation page on a site like GoFundMe or Causes, which provide easy templates to help you set a goal, track your progress, and share it via email and/or Facebook.

• Offer alternatives – Some of your friends may be glad to participate with the cause you have suggested. But give these willing pledgers an option for choosing a charity they care about, which may inspire them to donate more generously.

However you choose to proceed, Flores said, getting others involved will strengthen your commitment to achieving your goal and inspire others to do the same in a fun and positive way.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Home Prices See Strong Gains in the First Quarter of 2013

May 29, 2013 3:36 am

Data through March 2013, released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that all three composites posted double-digit annual increases. The 10-City and 20-City Composites increased by 10.3 percent and 10.9 percent up until March, with the national composite rising by 10.2 percent in the last four quarters. All 20 cities posted positive year-over-year growth.

In the first quarter of 2013, the national composite rose by 1.2 pecent. On a monthly basis, the 10- and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4 percent. Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Tampa were the five MSAs to record their largest month-over-month gains in over seven years.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 10.2 percent gain in the first quarter of 2013 over the first quarter of 2012. In March 2013, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual increases of 10.3 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively.

"Home prices continued to climb," says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Home prices in all 20 cities posted annual gains for the third month in a row. Twelve of the 20 saw prices rise at double-digit annual growth. The National Index and the 10- and 20-City Composites posted their highest annual returns since 2006.

"Phoenix again had the largest annual increase at 22.5 percent followed by San Francisco with 22.2 percent and Las Vegas with 20.6 percent. Miami and Tampa, the eastern end of the Sunbelt, were softer with annual gains of 10.7 percent and 11.8 percent.

"Other housing market data reported in recent weeks confirm these strong trends: housing starts and permits, sales of new home and existing homes continue to trend higher.”

As of the first quarter of 2013, average home prices across the United States are back at their mid-2003 levels. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, the National Index was up 1.2 percent over the fourth quarter of 2012 and 10.2 percent above the first quarter of 2012.

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

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Save Energy with a Tankless Water Heater

May 29, 2013 3:36 am

Other than space heating, most homeowners use more energy to heat water than for almost any other household activity. Finding ways to reduce hot water energy use can therefore, be an important part of an overall plan to reduce household energy costs.

In many homes, water is heated in storage tanks. When there is no hot water being used, the tanks still consume energy just to maintain the water in the tank at a ready-to-use temperature. Tankless water heaters (also known as "on-demand" or "instantaneous" water heaters) use high inputs of gas or electricity to instantaneously heat water, rather than storing hot water for long periods in traditional hot water tanks.

Because they don't need to keep the water warm even when it's not in use, high-efficiency tankless water heaters can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat your water by as much as 40 percent or more, helping you cut down on your monthly utility bills. In addition to saving energy, tankless water heaters can also lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources.
If you're thinking of going tankless, the following information can help you make an informed decision:

• Tankless water heaters can be hung on a wall and are usually more compact than traditional hot water storage tanks. This allows them to take up considerably less floor space in your home. However, you still need to make sure you have enough space available to safely hang your tank and service and maintain it. If you're buying a fuel-fired model, you'll also need to make sureyou have the space available to safely run the venting system outdoors to an acceptable location.

• Proper sizing is another important consideration when it comes to choosing a tankless heater. To make sure your heater can supply all the hot water your family needs, purchase a unit that has a heating capacity enough for your entire household. If you purchase an undersized unit or if your hot water needs increase, try using timers or set the delay function on your appliances to avoid overlapping demands.

• If your home uses natural gas or propane, you may need larger gas pipes to accommodate the higher gas flows needed by the heater.

• In addition, when using a tankless water heater, you may need to let the water flow longer in your taps or shower before it becomes hot. To help cut down on your waiting time, make sure you purchase the right size heater for your home, and try to locate your new tankless heater as close as possible to the bathroom, kitchen or other areas where you expect to use the most hot water.

• Be sure to consult with a qualified professional contractor to assess your hot water needs and to provide guidance on what type of water heater would be most appropriate for your particular circumstances.

Source: CMHC

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5 Tips for Lighter, Brighter Summer Eating

May 28, 2013 3:36 am

(BPT)—Simple, fresh and delicious - that's summertime eating at its best. Less time in the kitchen means more time to enjoy the bright delicious flavors of just-picked berries, peaches, greens and other vegetables.

"It makes sense to eat lighter in the summer," says Chef William Tillinghast, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. "Hot weather slows down the digestion and heavy foods are harder to digest."

Chef Tillinghast got together with Chef Jeffrey Floyd, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, to offer these five tips for enjoying summer's gastronomic delights.

Buy local and seasonal - or grow it yourself

Summer brings locally grown specialties - berries of all types, melons, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet onions and more. Visit farmers' markets and ask what's in season. Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to explore eating seasonally. And nothing tastes better than tomatoes from your own garden.

Process produce as little as possible

The fresher the produce, the less preparation needed. "The longer the time between preparation and consumption, the more flavor is lost," says Chef Tillinghast. Try cutting up peaches and a honeydew melon, add fresh blueberries and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Serve immediately for an instant refreshing dessert.

Cook veggies quickly by stir frying. Cut vegetables small. Cook briefly with olive oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat (or put the wok on your grill). Add a little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper - it's the perfect side dish for a simple roast chicken, grilled steak or swordfish.

Keep flavors simple

Allow the flavor of fresh summer produce to shine. Chef Floyd loves this summer salad, adapted from "American Regional Cuisine," by The Art Institutes system of schools. Cut zucchini into matchstick strips. Combine with wedges of ripe tomato, finely sliced fresh basil, thin slices of sweet or green onion. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of lettuce, spinach or other greens. Add feta or bleu cheese crumbles if you like.

Use that grill

Grill eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers. Brush with olive or walnut oil if you like. Put veggies directly on the grill, use a griddle or wrap in a single layer in foil. Grilled peach halves and pineapple rings are also delicious.

Soup is for summer, too

"Cold soups like gazpacho, vichyssoise, avocado and cucumber, or various fruits, are refreshing," says Chef Tillinghast. For a delicious cold soup, peel and chop pears and apricots (or hull and cut up strawberries). Add a sprinkling of sugar and perhaps a little cinnamon or cardamom. Mash lightly with a fork and add sour cream or yogurt, half and half or milk - even champagne.

Beat the heat with lighter, simpler meals - you'll feel better and have more time for summertime fun.

Source: www.artinstitutes.edu

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2013 Hurricane Season Activity Predicted to Be Above Average

May 28, 2013 3:36 am

This year's hurricane season is predicted to be a busy one with above-average activity, according to a recent report released by Colorado State University. Sponsored by the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Preparedness Week aims to increase public awareness of emergency preparation and the upcoming season that runs from June 1 through November 30. Beginning on May 26, the week-long emergency preparedness event provides a good opportunity for those living in hurricane-prone areas to take steps to help ensure their family and home is safe before a storm hits.

After a 2012 hurricane season that produced twice as many storms as projected, forecasters anticipate 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four intense Category 3 or stronger hurricanes for 2013.

"Taking the right precautions and planning ahead are especially important this year as families think about how to mitigate the damage of a hurricane affecting their home," said Amanda Grandy , marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton Corporation. "An ideal way for homeowners to prepare for a power outage is to install a standby generator system."

Fueled by liquid propane or natural gas, standby generators automatically keep the power on when a home's primary power source goes out, allowing homeowners to run appliances like air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, sump pumps, clothes washers/dryers and lights.
In addition to preparing a home to maintain power following a storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Ready campaign offers ways for families to prepare their home for a hurricane, including:

• Cover all of the home's windows with precut plywood or hurricane shutters to protect windows from high winds and further secure the home by closing shutters.
• Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
• Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed to increase wind resistance.

Source: Briggs & Stratton

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