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

What Mom Wants Most: QT

May 7, 2012 5:16 am

According to a Wakefield Research study conducted for Godiva Coffee, 87 percent of Americans (moms included) believe it's the quality of time spent with Mom, not the quantity of time, that's most important. Godiva offers a few inexpensive ways of spending QT with Mom that are bound to make her happy this Mother's Day:

Surprise her with breakfast in bed: Nothing shows your love for Mom like waking up before she does to prepare her a delicious breakfast. Just remember to clean up the kitchen afterwards.
Work yourself into her schedule for a day: Help Mom run her errands and be her chauffeur to enjoy the great conversation that comes while driving around together doing everyday things. Come with her favorite coffee ready in a to-go cup.
Stroll down memory lane: Sit down for tea and stroll down memory lane with old photo albums and/or videos. For bonus points, help Mom scan them onto a computer to share on Facebook.

Source: www.godivacoffee.com

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Gen Y Disconnected from Docs

May 4, 2012 5:14 am

The generation gap between today’s young adults and the health care industry is widening, unfortunately. A new study reveals that there is a distinct disconnect between the expectations of the digitally connected Generation Y and the realities of health care's current infrastructure.

In an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of ZocDoc, polling more than 2,000 adults nationwide regarding their sentiments on health care access, 18 – 34 year olds reported the following results:
  • 54 percent say the process of dealing with their health is frustrating.
  • 63 percent feel that they are at the mercy of their doctor's or dentist's front desk staff when making an appointment.
  • More than half admit to delaying seeking medical care because the process is a “pain.”
Generation Y is accustomed to having information available at their fingertips, as this age group makes up only 23 percent of the population but represents the largest group of smartphone and tablet owners. With much of the health care industry plagued with antiquated processes and a lack of transparency or real-time information, this survey illustrates that this generation is feeling a divide between the immediacy and access they have come to expect in all aspects of their lives as compared to what today's health care system offers them. Among applicable 18 – 34 year olds:
  • 79 percent said that they can evaluate a new gadget easier than they can a new doctor or dentist.
  • 76 percent said it is easier to find information on a hotel that fits their needs than to find information on a doctor or dentist that fits their needs.
  • 64 percent feel that when choosing a new doctor or dentist, they do not know how to adequately evaluate whether or not they fit their specific needs.
  • 79 percent admitted to picking a doctor or dentist primarily based on whether or not they accept their insurance.
"This study highlights the need for the health care space to play technological catch up to other industries," says Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, assistant professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. "If we are not technologically savvy enough to make health care user friendly for our young population, then this generation will be less likely to regularly seek out the preventive care they need and deserve. As a physician, that's incredibly concerning."

Eighty-two percent of applicable 18-34 year old adults also said that having to wait weeks to get in to see a doctor or dentist is “unacceptable,” yet this long wait time is unfortunately becoming the norm throughout the country. The average wait time to see a doctor in most cities is approximately three weeks with some cities' wait times averaging up to 70 days.

Source: ZocDoc.com

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Home Finance Delinquencies at Three-Year Low

May 4, 2012 5:14 am

Total delinquent first mortgage balances were under $500 billion as of this past March, the lowest since January 2009. Also, as of March 2012 there were a total of 49.5 million outstanding first mortgages, nearly an 11 percent decrease from the peak of more than 55 million in March 2008.

This is the latest data from Equifax's March National Consumer Credit Trends Report and Creditforecast.com, a joint product of Equifax and Moody's Analytics. According to the report, the decline can be attributed to high foreclosures and loan payoffs and low homebuyer demand.

Of delinquencies within existing home equity credit lines, an overwhelming 79 percent come from loans originated from 2005 to 2007. The number of revolving home equity loans is at a five-year low, with 11.6 million outstanding as of March 2012. Credit levels are also continuing to drop, falling 25 percent from the peak of $1.3 trillion in 2008.

Other highlights of the data include:
  • First mortgage balances were 3.5 percent below their year-ago level in March, having now posted year-over-year declines in the previous 36 consecutive months.
  • Seventy-one percent of all first mortgage delinquencies are from loans taken out in 2005-2007.
  • The share of first mortgage loans transitioning from current status to 30-days past due is at its lowest level since June 2007.
  • The share of first mortgages transitioning from 60-days past due to 90-days past due is at its lowest level in 59 months.
  • Loans in severe delinquency status, defined as those 90 or more days past due or that have started the foreclosure process, has fallen steadily over the 24 months ended March 2012 and now stands at $477 billion.
According to Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts, "We're seeing effects of the economic recovery within existing accounts in the form of fewer delinquencies and foreclosures, but not a substantial amount of new activity as home sales and resulting new home financing fail to keep pace with payoffs and foreclosures.”

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Mortgage Rates Reach Another Record Low

May 4, 2012 5:14 am

Mortgage rates fell for a fourth consecutive week and the fifth time in the past six weeks, with the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to 4.05 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.45 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate retreated to 3.25 percent – also a record low – while the jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage nosed higher to 4.62 percent. Adjustable mortgage rates were mixed, with the average 3-year adjustable inching higher to 3.07 percent, while the 5-year ARM tied a record low of 3.02 percent initially set in February.

News of disappointing economic growth in the first quarter and continuing elevated unemployment claim filings propelled mortgage rates lower. The looming jobs report is likely to be the catalyst for further rate movement but the tepid theme of recent economic data is sure to keep a lid on bond yields and mortgage rates in the coming weeks. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government debt.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was November 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.05 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $960.60, a difference of $281 per month for anyone refinancing now.

Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

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Got Allergies? Know Your Antihistamines

May 3, 2012 5:14 am

The sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes of spring send millions of people to the pharmacy for relief. If your allergies aren’t severe enough to warrant a prescription medication, there are countless over-the-counter options available. But which will work best for you? National drug-store chain Rite Aid offers the following guidelines to understanding antihistamines.

First of all, antihistamines fall into two groups: first generation, which has a sedation effect; and second generation, which is likely to cause less drowsiness. Both types are considered as effective as prescription medications. In fact, many of them were formerly only available with a prescription.

First-generation antihistamines, including nonprescription diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), doxylamine, and brompheniramine, may cause substantial drowsiness—enough to make it difficult to think clearly or control your movements—as well as the typical dry mouth and eyes of an antihistamine. Only take this type of medication if you’re spending the day at home.

Second-generation antihistamines include the nonprescription loratadine (Claritin®), cetirizine (Zyrtec®), fexofenadine (Allegra®), and generic versions. Compared with first-generation medicines, many of these are less sedating and some may be more convenient since they continue working for up to 24 hours. According to Rite Aid, however, even newer generation antihistamines cause drowsiness in some people, so proceed with caution.

For multi-symptom allergy sufferers, many antihistamines are available in combination with other medications, such as a decongestant. A decongestant may lessen a first-generation antihistamine’s sedating effect, as well.

Pay close attention to drug interaction warnings. Antihistamines can interact with medications for other conditions—especially sedatives, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxants. Alcohol can also intensify the sedating effect of any antihistamine. In addition, make sure you are not using two products with the same ingredients. For example, a decongestant/antihistamine combination product along with a single ingredient antihistamine product.

If you’re not responding well to an antihistamine, try another one; however, read the label carefully to ensure it offers a different active ingredient.

Lastly, says Rite Aid, if you’d like to avoid medication all together, consider a saline rinse. Known as nasal irrigation, this method flushes out the sinuses and may ease your symptoms.

Source: riteaid.com/allergy

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Foreclosure Sales Low, But Inventory Remains High

May 3, 2012 5:14 am

While March foreclosure starts increased a modest 8.1 percent since last month, overall, they were still down more than 31 percent year-over-year. Also in March, first-time foreclosure starts hit a five-month high. However, despite the increase, the number of first-time foreclosure starts in March was still far below those seen throughout much of 2011 and all of the previous three years.

This information was recently reported via The March Mortgage Monitor report from Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS). According to the report, the national foreclosure inventory stayed relatively stable in March, remaining at the historically high levels maintained since the end of 2010. This national performance masks underlying differences between judicial states, where foreclosure inventory levels stand at 6.5 percent, and non-judicial states, where foreclosure inventory levels are more than 2.5 times lower at 2.45 percent.

The March data also showed that mortgage delinquencies have continued to decline, reaching their lowest level since August 2008, with seriously delinquent inventory (loans more than 90 days delinquent) declining in both judicial and non-judicial foreclosure states. Likewise, the rate of new problem loans (seriously delinquent loans that were current six months ago) continues to improve nationally, in both judicial and non-judicial states.

On the origination front, the data showed that February mortgage originations rebounded somewhat from their January lows, and that, despite slightly higher interest rates, prepayments increased in March. Mortgage prepayment activity – a key indicator of mortgage refinances – increased broadly, across all investor categories.

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Four Killer Questions to ask Your Agent

May 3, 2012 5:14 am

As prices slowly start to rise and inventory begins to shrink in many areas, you may finally be ready to put your home on the market. However, selling your home in today’s gradually recovering market is still tricky business and requires the expertise of a professional real estate agent.

Take your time when selecting the right agent to work with. You’re about to embark on a major endeavor so having the right chemistry—and the right level of trust—are essential. Here are four important questions to ask a prospective agent that will help you determine if he or she is the right person to list your home with:
  1. How long have you been a real estate agent? The number of years an agent has been in the business is important information for you to know—and there are pros and cons to every level of experience, so don’t rush to judgment. For example, if an agent has only been practicing for a couple of years, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Agents who started in real estate after the bubble burst only know how to operate within current market conditions and won’t waste time on outdated strategies that worked during the housing boom, but that won’t work now. Measure their success by the home’s they’ve sold so far and how they overcame the particular challenges of those sellers. Conversely, if you’re prospective agent is a real estate veteran, be sure to ask how he or she has adapted their approach for the market downturn. While their years of experience are invaluable to you, make sure they’ve changed accordingly with the times.
  2. What will you specifically do to market my home? In today’s technology-based environment, don’t settle for a general response, such as “online marketing” and “virtual tours.” Ask prospective agents which specific listing syndication sites your home will appear on, how many photos/videos of your home will be included, how social media will be utilized, and what sort of mobile platforms are available. Ask for examples of other homes the agent is currently listing so you can get a good idea of how your home will be marketed.
  3. What will it take to make your home stand apart? Savvy agents will offer specific details on what simple—or potentially significant—improvements need to be made to help your home compete on the market. Ask what features/qualities were common among recently sold homes. For example, if home offices were a popular selling point, quickly redecorating a spare bedroom into office space could make a big difference to prospective buyers.
  4. How will you determine the best possible price for my home? Pricing is a complicated and critical issue in today’s market and before you ask an agent this question, decide how quickly you want/need to sell your home. With a slightly lower listing price, your home could sell very quickly. With a slightly higher price, be prepared to wait. Ask your agent what the average listing time is for homes in your area. Ask which homes sold quickly and why. Ask what investments you may be able to make in your home that would result in a higher selling price. Ask what the current housing supply in your market is so you can get an idea of how in-demand your home may or may not be. All of these factors are crucial to determining the best listing price for your particular circumstances.

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Making Space for Students

May 2, 2012 5:14 am

Your college-aged children will soon be heading home for summer break, providing a good chance to re-evaluate their living conditions while at school. 

Whether it’s an on-campus dorm or a nearby apartment, student housing is often snug at best. According to the professionals at Cort Furniture, however, regardless of how little space you have, students still need a place to eat, places for guests to sit, and room to move around. How you choose to arrange your furniture can make all the difference in making a small space stylish and comfortable. Cort offers the following tips on their furniture blog. 

- Make the most of all sources of light. Light, especially natural light, makes any room look larger. Using mini blinds instead of curtains is a great way to let lots of light in without sacrificing the need for privacy. Mirrors can help spread light in a room, and light from a tall lamp placed in a corner will bounce off of the walls behind it, illuminating and opening up the room. 

- Eliminate lines. The more things for the eye to see in space, the more cluttered and small the space will feel. Clean lines and simple shapes create the illusion of space. 

- Lighter neutral colors also have a calming effect on the eye, making the object seem less obtrusive in a space. Brighter colors make great choices for smaller, well-placed accents, such as pillows, pictures, or other design accessories. Just be sure to avoid creating a cluttered look by over-accessorizing. 

- Choose furniture wisely. Padded, overstuffed furniture, and furniture with a busy fabric makes a small room feel smaller, while solid colors and clean lines do the opposite. The same holds true for chairs and tables. Of course, making sure your student furniture rental includes dual-purpose pieces (such as storage ottomans and sleeper sofas) is always helpful, since economy of storage is likely an issue. A lighter wood or glass for tables is often a better choice than darker wood, which can make a table seem clunky.

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Getting Your Plumbing in Order

May 2, 2012 5:14 am

While many of us are knee deep in spring cleaning tasks around the home, there may be one area you’re overlooking: your plumbing. 

According to the septic experts at Connecticut-based Kaiser Battistone, there are several steps you should take annually to make sure your plumbing remains in good working order. The following suggestions were presented in a recent blog post from the firm: 

• Engage water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent sticking and the accumulation of rust.
• Run water through faucets and into drains that are infrequently used to prevent odors and check for leaks.
• Clean mineral deposits from the shower head by soaking it in vinegar overnight and scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
• Flush out corrosion causing sediment by carefully draining a few gallons of water from your water heater.
• Check faucets for drips and pipes for leaks.
• Inspect toilet tank and bowl for hairline cracks and leaks.
• Check to ensure that no flammables have been stored near your water heater in the past year.
• Make sure outside gutters and leader drains are cleaned out and clear of debris so water drains properly away from your foundation. 

If you encounter any problems when conducting your plumbing check up, be sure to call a professional right away to prevent a small issue from becoming an expensive disaster.

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Survey Says: U.S. Renters Planning to Purchase Home to Do So Within Next Two Years

May 2, 2012 5:14 am

Among renters who plan to purchase a home in the future, 60 percent have increased their intent to do so compared to 12 months ago, according to the recent PulteGroup Home Index (PGHI) survey issued by national homebuilder PulteGroup, Inc. Among this same group, 61 percent stated they intend to purchase a home within the next two years. 

Among the top reasons renters indicate they have increased their interest in buying a home include: 

• They like being able to call themselves homeowners (49 percent)
• They view it as a good financial investment (44 percent)
• They need more space for their family/kids (36 percent) 

The survey also revealed that deterrents – both real and perceived – still persist, preventing some renters from pursuing or achieving the dream of homeownership. The top three reasons indicated by current renters for not purchasing a home sooner include: 

• Not enough money for down payment (54 percent)
• The belief that renting is cheaper than buying (28 percent)
• Uncertainty with employment status (23 percent)
PulteGroup also offers the following tips to renters considering purchasing a home:
• Compare owning vs. renting – Buying can be smarter than renting. Instead of your monthly payments padding your landlord's pocket, they go towards owning your home. There are many advantages to homeownership, from tax benefits to more storage space.
• Get your finances in order – Line up your financing, start saving for a down payment and study available loan programs. By doing your homework, you will know exactly how much you can pay and what it will cost you.
• New vs. used – The PGHI survey showed that 63 percent of respondents will consider new construction when purchasing a home. If you want to choose the floor plan and customize a home to fit your family's needs, this may also be the right choice for you. New homes can be up to 30 percent more energy efficient and often come with a builder warranty. If you're handy and don't mind a fixer upper home, there are a bounty of resale options.
• Select the right builder – Begin by selecting a builder who has experience in the type of home and location you want. Make sure they have a history of building quality homes and are financially stable. Lastly, take time to check their references and talk to past customers.

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