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

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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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Top DIY Tips to Protect from Ticks and Mosquitoes

May 28, 2013 3:36 am

Welcome to the unofficial start of summer with outdoor parties, barbeques, parades and celebrations under the stars. However, a perfect storm of weather conditions over the past months have made conditions ripe for what is being predicted to be a powerful crop of mosquito and tick populations to wreak havoc on outdoor plans.

Reported cases of Lyme disease continue to rise with more than 280,000 Americans being diagnosed since 2002, with an additional 30,000 diagnoses just last year. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An illness that can have lifelong debilitating effects such as arthritis, fatigue and even neurological deficits, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged or deer ticks.

In addition to performing a daily tick check, there are specific actions a homeowner can take to reduce the tick and mosquito population in their yards, thus reducing exposure for themselves, guests and pets:

The 6 Cs to Tick-Proof Your Yard

1. Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don't position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.
2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.
6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as "tick tubes." Strategically placed, "tick tubes" prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

When outdoors away from home, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved, long-legged, light-colored clothing. Tuck pant legs into socks to refuse ticks an entry point. Spray clothing and any exposed skin with a product containing 20 percent DEET. Clothing and other gear, but not skin, can be treated with Permethrin, which will kills ticks and mosquitoes on contact and should last through several washings. Check carefully for ticks after being outdoors.

5 Ts to Control Mosquitoes
1. Tip. Reduce standing water to eliminate mosquito threats, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs.
2. Toss. Remove excess grass, leaves, firewood and clippings from yards.
3. Turn. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes or plastic toys.
4. Remove tarps. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment and grills aren't taut, they're holding water.
5. Treat. Utilize a mosquito elimination barrier treatment around the home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body. Mosquito Squad's treatments eliminate up to 90 percent of the mosquitoes and ticks on a property.

Source: Mosquito Squad

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Outdoor Home Solutions

May 24, 2013 2:20 am

(Family Features) In the warmer months, we find ourselves outside more often, enjoying nature while playing with the kids and maintaining our lawns. But this additional time spent outside means more home and garden tools and more opportunity for a mess.

Here are some simple tips to keep your outdoor spaces cleaner and more organized:

Storage Bench – Use a storage bench to keep your gardening gloves, tools and children’s outdoor toys. Available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, you can find the bench that fits your décor. Plus, they offer an extra seating area when you have company.

Bundle Cords – No one likes the unsightly appearance or hazard of cords. Before your gatherings, bundle together stereo and electronic chords that are exposed, as well as any cords that run across the lawn.

Paver Pots – Use old pavers to create plant containers. Simply stack the pavers together making a square shape. The heavy weight of the pavers keeps the dirt and plant contained together.

Deck Space – Use the space under your deck for additional, out-of-sight storage. Tuck plastic lidded storage containers underneath for easy access to children’s sporting goods and toys.

Mesh Bags – Pool toys, rafts and inner tubes need a space to dry off. Use mesh bags so these summer toys properly are properly dried, preventing mildew or molding.

Proper Plant Care – Stock up on essentials for a healthy garden, including the tools to make plant seedlings thrive.

Repurpose Furniture – Turn old furniture pieces, such as old filing cabinets, into instant garage storage solutions. Take out the drawers of the cabinet and turn it on its side. Each empty drawer area provides a spot for large items like brooms, shovels and rakes.

Fence Storage – Turn old coffee or paint cans into storage bins for smaller gardening tools like hand shovels and pruning shears. For easy access while in the garden, cut holes and use rope to hang around a close-by fence post.

Tires – Stack old tires on top of each other for an outdoor toy container that kids can easily access. Paint the outside to match the color of your house or whatever color you fancy.

End of Season Storage – Keep your garage area tidy by organizing similar tools together. Use One-Wrap ties to keep gardening tools grouped together, or to keep hoses tightly coiled and out of the way. This product also comes in a variety of colors and sizes so that you can keep everything neat and organized.

Source: www.velcro.com

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