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

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Averages 3.66 Percent

June 27, 2012 6:14 am

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates easing amid worsening economic indicators. Both the 30-year fixed and the 5-year ARM registered new average record lows.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.66 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending June 21, 2012, down from last week when it averaged 3.71 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.50 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.95 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.98 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.69 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.77 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.80. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.25 percent.

The1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.74 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.78 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.99 percent.
According to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac, “Treasury bond yields eased somewhat this week on some worsening economic indicators bringing mortgage rates back into record low territory. Industrial production fell in two of the last three months ending in May, and below the expected market consensus forecast. In addition, consumer sentiment fell in June to its lowest level this year, according to the University of Michigan survey.

"However, there were also some positive indicators on the housing market. Construction on one-family homes rose for the third consecutive month in May to an annualized pace of 516,000. Furthermore, homebuilder confidence rose in June to its highest reading in over five years."

Source: Freddie Mac

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Home Prices Rise in April

June 27, 2012 6:14 am

Data through April 2012, released recently by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that on average home prices increased 1.3 percent in the month of April for both the 10- and 20-City Composites. This comes after seven consecutive months of falling home prices as measured by both indices.

April's data indicate that on an annual basis home prices fell by 2.2 percent for the 10-City Composite and by 1.9 percent for the 20-City Composites, versus April 2011. While still negative, this is an improvement over the annual rates of -2.9 percent and -2.6 percent recorded for the month of March 2012. Both Composites and 18 of the 20 MSAs saw increases in annual returns in April compared to those published for March; only Detroit and New York fared worse in April, posting annual returns of +1.2 percent and -3.8 percent respectively, falling below their March returns of +3.9 percent and -3.0 percent. For the seventh consecutive month, Atlanta posted the only double-digit negative annual return at -17.0 percent, its 22nd consecutive month of negative annual returns. Ten of the 20 MSAs saw positive annual returns – Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Tampa and Washington D.C. No cities posted new lows in April 2012.

In April 2012, both Composites were up by 1.3 percent in the month, resulting in annual returns of -2.2 percent and -1.9 percent, respectively.

"With April 2012 data, we finally saw some rising home prices," says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. "On a monthly basis, 19 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites rose in April over March. Detroit was the only city that saw prices fall, down 3.6 percent. In addition, 18 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites saw better annual rates of return. It has been a long time since we enjoyed such broad- based gains. While one month does not make a trend, particularly during seasonally strong buying months, the combination of rising positive monthly index levels and improving annual returns is a good sign.”

As of April 2012, average home prices across the United States are back to the levels where they were in early 2003 for the 20-City Composite and to mid-2003 levels for the 10-City Composite. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks through April 2012, the decline for both Composites is approximately 34 percent. Both Composites recently reached their index level lows in the current housing cycle in March 2012, down approximately 35 percent from their peaks.

Source: Case Shiller

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Americans Want to Know: What’s in My Hot Dog?

June 26, 2012 6:12 am

As National Hot Dog Month approaches in July and Americans prepare to chow down on an estimated 150 million wieners on Independence Day alone, a new survey finds that while many Americans differ in preferences for what's on their hot dogs, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about what's in their hot dogs.

Despite consumers' hunger for hot dogs, the survey, sponsored by organic and natural meat firm Applegate, also found that 74 percent agree that most are of "low quality."

The survey found that 81 percent of people who consume hot dogs would rather purchase franks with a short ingredient statement that listed beef, water, sea salt and spices versus one with items like sodium phosphate and sodium nitrite. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents thought it was important for hot dogs to be made from animals that were not administered antibiotics or hormones, underscoring just how important this issue has become for shoppers.

In an effort to help Americans better understand what's really in their hot dogs, Applegate launched www.whatsinyourhotdog.com earlier this month. On the website, visitors can interact with videos and graphics rife with wiener puns and fun frank facts.

The "What's In Your Hot Dog Survey" showed that when it comes to condiments, the yellow stuff cuts the mustard. Mustard was the top topping, followed by ketchup, onions and relish. The topping used least often is tomatoes.

The survey revealed some regional favorites for dressing a dog.
  • For Southerners, chili edges out relish and onions and comes in just behind mustard and ketchup.
  • Midwesterners enjoy pickles on their franks more than any other region of the country.
  • It's cheese please for hot dog eaters in the Western United States.
  • Northeasterners like to top their franks with sauerkraut.
Source: Applegate.com

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Nearly Half of Americans Have Insufficient Emergency Savings

June 26, 2012 6:12 am

Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) do not have enough emergency savings to cover three months' expenses, up from 46 percent last year at this time, according to recently released research from Bankrate.com. Twenty-eight percent have no emergency savings (up from 24 percent last year). The generally recommended cushion is six months' expenses, and only 25 percent of Americans have saved that much (compared with 24 percent last year).

A similar Bankrate.com poll that was taken in 2006 found that, at the time, a whopping 61 percent of Americans failed to have enough emergency savings to cover three months' expenses. "While we've seen some improvement since then, the bottom line is that much more progress is needed," explains Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. "Having sufficient emergency savings is critical to avoiding high-cost credit card debt when unexpected expenses arise."

There are two noteworthy improvements, however:
  • Thirty-two percent of Americans are currently reporting that they are less comfortable with their savings versus one year ago, a new low and down from the peak of 47 percent that were less comfortable in August 2011
  • Eighteen percent are less comfortable with their debt than 12 months ago, a new low and down from the peak of 27 percent in October 2011 and November 2011
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI).

Source: Bankrate.com

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What to Expect From a Housing Counselor

June 26, 2012 6:12 am

As a still recovering economy continues to affect many homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments, more and more Americans are forced to consider reaching out for help.

For those facing foreclosure — or who fear they may face it in the future — a call to a HUD-certified housing counselor can help. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) highlights the effectiveness of housing counseling in helping homeowners remain in their homes.

To help homeowners better understand the housing counseling process, the financial experts at MMI offer the following rundown of what to expect from a session with one of MMI's HUD-certified housing counselors:

Prior to calling, make sure you know and/or have access to the following information, as the counselor will ask for these things in order to better assess your situation: your monthly income; monthly expenses; debts and assets; and mortgage information – including servicer, payment amount, interest rate, amount of loan, date loan was acquired and your last contact with servicer.

A typical phone call lasts about an hour and begins with the privacy disclosure. Your counselor will then take time to answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to discuss your specific hardship (the reason you're having difficulty making payments), which will give your counselor an accurate understanding of your situation in order to make the best possible recommendation.

Your counselor will explain your options based on your specific situation. Upon gathering the necessary information (listed above) and reviewing your specific hardship, your counselor will recommend the nonprofit resources and services that will be of most benefit to you. Then you will be offered information on all of the options available to you, as well as the foreclosure information specific to your state.

You will then review an action plan, which your counselor will create based on the information covered in the session. You will receive a written copy of the action plan, which will be used to prepare a recommendation to your lender based on the option that best fits your needs (if you choose an option).

At the conclusion of the counseling session, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in a conference call with your lender to go over the recommendation and see if your lender will be able to assist you. You should note that, while telephone contact is not required and is completely optional, it is an important part of the process in order for your lender to help you avoid foreclosure.

In the event you are not able to work with the lender to keep your home, you will be told what to expect and you may be offered a post-foreclosure counseling session. In this session you will learn more about what to expect after you transition out of the home.

If you are already in foreclosure, the most important thing you can do is stay in contact with your lender and seek help as soon as possible. While the foreclosure process varies by state, there a number of options that may allow you to slow or suspend the foreclosure activity — all of which your counselor can explain to you in detail.

Source: Money Management International

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Vanilla Top Ice Cream Flavor with Americans

June 25, 2012 6:12 am

Vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor, premium ice cream is the best-selling type of ice cream and frozen yogurt is resurging in popularity among Americans. These are a few of the findings from a recent survey of International Ice Cream Association (IICA) member companies, which make and distribute an estimated 85 percent of the ice cream and frozen dessert products consumed in the United States. IICA and the International Dairy Foods Association, its umbrella organization, announced the results of the recent survey today at the 30th Annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party, the official launch of National Ice Cream Month, which runs throughout the month of July.

Of the companies participating in the survey, 92 percent said that vanilla is the most popular flavor among their consumers. Chocolate chip mint and cookies-and-cream ice cream tied for second place with 3.7 percent saying it was most popular.

Premium ice cream, which has a lower amount of aeration and a higher fat content than regular ice cream, is the most popular variety with consumers, according to the ice cream company survey. Nearly 70 percent cited premium ice cream as the most popular product, while 10 percent said that novelties are most popular. Novelties are defined as separately packaged single servings of a frozen dessert, such as ice cream sandwiches and fudge sticks.

While survey participants noted a strong demand for premium ice cream and novelties, 52 percent said they are seeing increased demand for frozen yogurt. Nearly 15 percent of respondants said they are also seeing an increased demand for no-sugar-added ice cream.

When asked about inclusions, which are ingredients added to ice cream, the majority of companies surveyed said that pecans are the most popular nut and strawberries are the most popular fruit added to their frozen products. Sixty percent of the participating companies named pecans most popular, and 32 percent cited peanuts as most popular with their consumers. More than three-quarters of respondents named strawberries as the top fruit, while 12 percent said cherry and another 12 percent named raspberries as the favorite fruit inclusion.

Among novelties, the ice cream sandwich is most widely made; 91 percent of participating companies make and market ice cream sandwiches. Nearly 75 percent of the companies responding offer an ice cream cone novelty. Bars, sticks and mini-cups are also popular products, according to the survey, which allowed for more than one response in this category.

Approximately 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the U.S. in 2011. The U.S. ice cream industry generated total revenues of $10 billion in 2010.

Source: International Ice Cream Association

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Introducing 'America's Vainest Cities'

June 25, 2012 6:12 am

Tampa, Fla., is home to the vainest people in America, while the citizens of Des Moines, Ia. are the least concerned with appearances, according to a report in Men's Health magazine.

To determine the rankings, Men's Health added up each city's percentage of Botox users, folks who go for dye jobs, and people who will spend anything to look younger. Also tallied were sales of at-home hair dyes, teeth whiteners, and shapewear , as well as per-capita rates of cosmetic procedures, cosmetic dentists, plastic surgeons, and tanning salons. Foursquare provided information on where people check into those salons most often.

The 10 Most Vain and 10 Least Vain cities are as follows:



































Most Vain

      Least Vain 

Tampa, FL

      Memphis, TN

Plano, TX

      Toledo, OH

Atlanta, GA

      Detroit, MI

Las Vegas, NV

      Burlington, VT

Dallas, TX

      Fort Wayne, IN

Pittsburgh, PA

      Kansas City, MO

Houston, TX

      Fargo, ND

Miami, FL

      Sioux Falls, SD

San Francisco,CA 

      Lincoln, NE

Providence, RI

      Des Moines, IA

Source: Men's Health magazine

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Existing-Home Sales Constrained by Tight Supply in May, Prices Continue to Gain

June 25, 2012 6:12 am

Limited supplies of housing inventory held back existing-home sales in May, but sales maintained a strong lead over year-ago levels and home prices are on a sustained uptrend in all regions, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million in May from 4.62 million in April, but are 9.6 percent above the 4.15 million-unit pace in May 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said inventory shortages in certain areas have been building all year: "The slight pullback in monthly home sales is more likely due to supply constraints rather than softening demand. The normal seasonal upturn in inventory did not occur this spring. Even with the monthly decline, home sales have moved markedly higher with 11 consecutive months of gains over the same month a year earlier."

There are broad-based shortages of inventory in the lower price ranges in much of the country except the Northeast, and in the West, supply is extremely tight in all price ranges except for the upper end. "REALTORS® in Western states have been calling for an expedited process to get additional foreclosed properties onto the market because they have more buyers than available property," adds Yun. Widespread inventory shortages also are found in much of Florida.

Total housing inventory at the end of May slipped 0.4 percent to 2.49 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace; there was a 6.5-month supply in April. Listed inventory is 20.4 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply. Unsold inventory has trended down from a record 4.04 million in July 2007; supplies reached a cyclical peak of 12.1 months in July 2010.

"The recovery is occurring despite excessively tight credit conditions and higher downpayment requirements, which are negating the impact of record high affordability conditions," Yun explains.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types rose 7.9 percent to $182,600 in May from a year ago, the third consecutive month of year over year price gains. The last time there were three back-to-back price increases from the same month a year earlier was from March to May of 2006. "Some of the price gain results from a shrinking share distressed homes in the sales mix," Yun explains.

Distressed homes - foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts - accounted for 25 percent of May sales (15 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), down from 28 percent in April and 31 percent in May 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 19 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 14 percent.

All-cash sales slipped to 28 percent of transactions in May from 29 percent in April; they were 30 percent in May 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in May, down from 20 percent in April and 19 percent in May 2011.

Source: The National Association of REALTORS®

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The Perils of Resume Padding

June 22, 2012 6:08 am

Recent headlines have brought renewed focus to the issue of resume padding. According to a recent survey by FindLaw.com, 8 percent of Americans admit to embellishing or exaggerating information on their resume.

As some recent corporate scandals have highlighted, the consequences of resume padding can be severe. More than a quarter of the people who admitted padding their resumes — 27 percent — said they subsequently lost their job when the false information was later discovered. An additional 3 percent said they were not offered a job after their resume padding was uncovered.

Resume padding involves presenting false or misleading information about one's education, work experience, professional credentials, job skills or other important personal data.

"With the Internet, employers now have more means to verify information on a resume," explains Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. "Even connections with other people via social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn can reveal inconsistencies with the information that you are presenting to employers. In this age of social networking, people need to be careful not only that their information is truthful and accurate, but also that they are not saying one thing to one person or company, and something different to someone else — whether it's an employer, prospective employer, friend, family member or acquaintance."

Source: FindLaw.com

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Shared Households Increased 11.4 Percent from 2007 to 2010

June 22, 2012 6:08 am

In 2010, there were 22.0 million shared households in the United States, an 11.4 percent increase from 2007, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. This total of shared households accounted for 18.7 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 2007.

The report, “Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic Well-Being: 2007–2010,” analyzes data on household composition and income from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey. The report reveals that adults joined or combined their households in greater numbers and in higher proportions following the most recent recession than they did prior to the recession.

In spring 2007, there were 19.7 million shared households — defined as a household with at least one "additional" adult. An additional adult is a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is neither the householder, the spouse nor the cohabiting partner of the householder. By spring 2010, the number of shared households had increased to 22.0 million while all households increased by only 1.3 percent.

"Although reasons for household sharing are not discernible from the survey, our analysis suggests that adults and families coped with challenging economic circumstances over the course of the recession by joining households or combining households with other individuals or families," reports Laryssa Mykyta, an analyst in the Census Bureau's Poverty Statistics Branch and one of the authors of the report.

The report compares official poverty rates to personal and household poverty rates. Official poverty rates compare total family income with a threshold that varies with family size and composition. Household poverty rates compare household income with the relevant threshold. Personal poverty rates compare the income of the individual, couple or subfamily with the relevant threshold.

For adults heading shared households, both official and household poverty rates for 2010 were lower than for their counterparts in other households.

This contrasts with personal poverty rates. Personal poverty was 8.2 percentage points higher for householders in shared households than for householders who were not in shared households in 2010 (21.7 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively).

The difference between official and personal poverty rates was more dramatic for additional adults. While 15.7 percent of these adults were classified as in poverty using the official measure, 45.9 percent had personal income below their poverty threshold.

"It is difficult to assess the precise impact of household sharing on economic well-being," adds Mykyta, "but the higher personal poverty rates for adults heading shared households suggests that this group has fewer individual resources than their counterparts. However, lower official and household poverty rates among adults who head a shared household suggest that household sharing lessened economic strain."

Source: The Census Bureau

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