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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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Personal Financial Situation Key Factor in 2012 Presidential Vote

June 19, 2012 6:04 am

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans (59 percent) report that their personal financial situation is either the single most important factor (12 percent) or one of several important factors (47 percent) in deciding which presidential candidate they will vote for in November, according to new research released today by Bankrate.com.

Americans are evenly divided with respect to which candidate they think will be best for their personal financial situation. Twenty-one percent support President Barack Obama, and an equal 21 percent support Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Fifty percent don't think it will make much difference either way, and 8 percent either don't know or refused to answer.

Franklin Roosevelt (in 1940) was the last sitting president to win re-election with unemployment above 7.2 percent. The latest figure reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (June 1, 2012) was 8.2 percent, down from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009.

"How Americans feel about the U.S. economy and their own finances will be central to the election on Nov. 6," reports Claes Bell of Bankrate.com. "While unemployment will probably be above that 7.2 percent historical benchmark when the election takes place, the key question will be whether Americans are comfortable with the progress that has been made since the economy took a turn for the worse.

Close to 3 million jobs have been recovered since October 2009, and Bankrate.com's Financial Security Index hit an 18-month high last month, but some recent indicators have been less positive.”
The new survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI).

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Census Bureau Estimates Changes in Household Net Worth

June 19, 2012 6:04 am

U.S. median household net worth declined 35 percent between 2005 and 2010, from $102,844 to $66,740 (in 2010 constant dollars), according to a set of detailed tables released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, excluding home equity, median household net worth increased by 8 percent between 2009 and 2010, from $13,859 to $15,000.

The Net Worth and Asset Ownership research show household net worth - the value of assets minus debts - by a variety of demographic characteristics in 2005, 2009 and 2010. The statistics come from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

"The overall decline in net worth reflects drops in housing values and stock market indices," explains Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck.

In absolute terms, median net worth decreased for all age groups over the period, but more so for older households than for younger ones. For householders 65 and older, it decreased from $195,890 to $170,128; for those under 35, the decrease was from $8,528 to $5,402. In percentage terms, however, the story was much different: a 37 percent decline for younger householders, compared with a 13 percent decline for older ones.

All educational groups also experienced declines. For example, those with a high school diploma saw their median net worth fall 39 percent and those with a bachelor's degree experienced a 32 percent decline.

Other highlights include:
  • More education is associated with higher net worth. In 2010, those with a graduate or professional degree had a median net worth of $245,763, while the median net worth of those with a high school diploma only was $42,223. Those with a bachelor's degree had a median net worth of $142,518.
  • In 2000, those with a bachelor's degree had a median net worth value almost twice as large as those with a high school diploma only; by 2010, this number had risen to almost three and one-half times as large. The same pattern can be seen when examining the graduate or professional degree to high school diploma ratio; this ratio has increased from 3.5 to 5.8 over the same period.
  • Householders age 35 to 44 had the largest percent decline in median net worth from 2005 to 2010 of any age group: 59 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Harvard: Home Sales Finally Poised to Improve

June 19, 2012 6:04 am

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its annual State of the Nation’s Housing report for 2012 and, according to NAR’s Speaking of Real Estate blog by Robert Freedman, it very closely tracks comments made by NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun earlier this week at a CRE conference on what’s holding back the housing recovery.

According to Freedman, the Harvard report points to increasingly strong market fundamentals and says home sales really could see serious improvement this year.

The main weakness is tepid job growth, which Yun also mentioned. The overhang of distressed properties is also a continuing problem.

Other issues include the unusually slow pace at which young people–the Echo Boomers—are leaving their parents’ homes and forming their own households. That’s a big missing link in home sales growth, and it’s certainly related to the weak job picture. Unless young people feel confident about getting a good job, they’re going to remain hesitant to start a new household.

The big beneficiary of the last several years has been the multifamily housing sector, which Freedman describes as “booming.” As the report puts it, “the number of renters surged by 5.1 million in the 2000s, the largest decade-long increase in the postwar era.” More rental growth is expected.

It’s in part because of this rental growth that homeownership is poised to improve. The Harvard report underscores how much more affordable mortgage payments have become relative to rental rates. At some point, renters are going to realize they’re losing money each month they continue to rent.

Another interesting point made by the report is the critical role older homeowners have played in preventing the U.S. homeownership rate from falling more than it has over these last few years. The rate today stands at about 66 percent, which is about 2 percent lower than it was a few years ago. Households 65 and older are the only age cohort that has continued to increase its share of ownership; all of the others, including the important middle-aged move-up cohort, have declined.

Source: Robert Freedman, Speaking of Real Estate Blog, the National Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Nearly 60 Percent of Americans Plan to Vacation this Summer

June 18, 2012 6:04 am

Whether the economy is improving on a large scale or not, a majority of Americans are planning to take a summer vacation by September 2012, according to the Morpace Omnibus research firm.

An online survey of 1,000 consumers nationwide from May 15 to May 22 revealed that 58 percent of Americans will be taking a summer vacation this year, with 26 percent not planning to take one and 16 percent undecided.

Among those who are planning a summer vacation, 61 percent plan to travel within the U.S. and more than 100 miles from their home. Some vacationers will take multiple vacations (such as long weekends) but closer to home stating that they will travel within a 100 mile radius of their home. Surprisingly, 17 percent plan to travel internationally.

The Morpace Omnibus also found that:

  • About 42 percent will be vacationing for "more than a week" (which could include multiple trips) and 35 percent plan to vacation for "about a week."
  • 51 percent of vacationers plan to stay in hotels, motels and inns. The next highest response was that 28 percent would stay with family or friends.
  • July is the most popular month for vacations, with 44 percent of Americans taking at least one summer vacation saying they would vacation that month.
  • Americans are still watching their budgets - 34 percent will spend $2,000 or more and the study had an average summer vacation spend of nearly $1,850 per respondent.
  • The majority of vacationers will use funds from savings accounts (72 percent) and/or credit cards (43 percent) to pay for their vacations.
  • Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    April Shadow Inventory Back to October 2008 Levels

    June 18, 2012 6:04 am

    A recent report reveals that the current residential shadow inventory as of April 2012 fell to 1.5 million units, representing a supply of four months. According to the report from analytics provider CoreLogic, this was a 14.8 percent drop from April 2011, when shadow inventory stood at 1.8 million units, or a six-months' supply, which is approximately the same level as the country was experiencing in October 2008. Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent (90 days or more) loans into the shadow inventory has been approximately offset by the equal volume of distressed (short and real estate owned) sales.

    CoreLogic estimates the current stock of properties in the shadow inventory, also known as pending supply, by calculating the number of distressed properties that are seriously delinquent, in foreclosure and held as real estate owned (REO) by mortgage servicers but not currently listed on multiple listing services (MLSs). Transition rates of "delinquency to foreclosure" and "foreclosure to REO" are used to identify the currently distressed non-listed properties most likely to become REO properties. Properties that are not yet delinquent but may become delinquent in the future are not included in the estimate of the current shadow inventory. Shadow inventory is typically not included in the official metrics of unsold inventory. 

    Data highlights include:

  • As of April 2012, shadow inventory fell to 1.5 million units, or four-months' supply and represented just over half of the 2.8 million properties currently seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or REO.
  • The four-months' supply of shadow inventory is at its lowest level in nearly three years. It parallels the unsold months' supply of non-distressed active listings that hit a more than five-year low in April, falling to a 6.5 months' from 9.1-months' supply just a year ago.
  • Of the 1.5 million properties currently in the shadow inventory, 720,000 units are seriously delinquent (two-months' supply), 410,000 are in some stage of foreclosure and 390,000 are already in REO (1.1-months' supply).
  • The dollar volume of shadow inventory was $246 billion as of April 2012, down from $270 billion a year ago and a 3-year low.
  • Serious delinquencies, which are the main driver of the shadow inventory, declined the most in Arizona (-37.0 percent), California (-28.0 percent), Nevada (-27.4 percent), Michigan (-23.7 percent), and Minnesota (-18.1 percent).          
  • Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    Why Summer is a Great Time to Remodel

    June 18, 2012 6:04 am

    Between spring cleaning and summer inspiration, it’s not uncommon to be bitten by the remodeling bug this time of year. From home improvement expert and author Dan Fritschen, here are great reasons why you should consider a home-improvement project this summer:

    It can happen while you’re gone. If you’re one of the many families who go to the beach, mountains, or Grandma’s house for a week or so during the summer, Fritschen suggests scheduling your remodel to coincide so that you’ll be out of the house while the job is done. The workers will have more space, you won’t have to worry about safety hazards and staying out of their way, and you’ll be able to come home to a new and improved house.

    Long days equals faster completion. Everybody loves long, warm summer evenings. And remodelers have another reason to be thankful for more daylight hours and warm weather: longer working days.

    You can eat al fresco. Summer is a wonderful time to remodel kitchens in particular because you don’t have to use them in order to eat well. While your kitchen is transformed, fire up the outdoor grill and eat on your patio furniture. “You could even spread a quilt in the yard andhave a good old-fashioned picnic!” Fritschen suggests.

    If exposure is necessary, it’ll be friendly. The fact is, you can expose your house to the elements more safely in summer. Whether you have an open wall because you’re adding on to your house, are replacing windows, or just want to open the windows and doors so the new-paint smell isn’t overwhelming, summer is the ideal time.

    You’re more likely to be inspired. For a variety of reasons, your creative inspiration mightpeak in summer. It’s a happy, colorful season that leaves many people feeling extra-energized and motivated.

    It’s easier to maintain neighborly relations. Even if you and your neighbors are the best of friends, loud, noisy construction in the neighborhood can be frustrating—not to mention having to deal with extra vehicles and (depending on the nature of the project) blocked-off sections of road. According to Fritschen, these annoyances are most likely to have minimal effect during the summer when people are less likely to be homebound.

    You can go underground to beat the heat. If you’ve been wanting to work on your basement, do it now…especially if heat is an issue for you. Your basement will be cool but not freezing, which will definitely be the case if you wait till later in the year.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    Two-in-Five New Dads Didn't Take Paternity Leave

    June 15, 2012 5:56 am

    Is work keeping new dads from maximizing their paternity leave? Two-in-five working dads (43 percent) who had a child in the last three years reported they didn't take any paternity leave.

    For those working dads who took some, but not the full allotted time off, 47 percent said they felt pressured by work to come back early. Of those who took some paternity leave, 59 percent took one week or less. This is according to CareerBuilder's annual Father's Day survey, conducted February 9 to March 2, 2012, among 729 full-time, working fathers with children 18 and under who are living with them.

    Across various categories, the stress of prolonged economic uncertainty post-recession appears to have affected more working fathers' balance between professional and family life.

    Bringing work home – More than one-third of working dads (36 percent) reported they bring home work from the office, up from 27 percent in 2008.  
    Likelihood of being a stay-at-home dad – Thirty-five percent of working dads said, if their spouse or partner made enough money to support the family, they would consider trading their careers for a role of staying home with the kids – down from 37 percent in 2008.  
    Willingness to take pay cut – While working dads want to spend more time with their families, the number of dads willing to take a pay cut to do so dropped since the recession. Thirty-three percent of working dads reported they would take a pay cut if it meant they have more quality time at home, down from 37 percent in 2008. 

    The survey found that 22 percent of fathers say their work has negatively affected relationships with their children and 26 percent said work negatively affected relationships with significant others. To help achieve a better work-life balance, Alex Green, general counsel for CareerBuilder and father of three, recommends the following:

    Talk about it. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Besides just listening to what is going on in your family's lives, talk about what is going on in your office, so everyone understands why you are away or have to do some work when you are home. 
    Scheduling is key to success. Add every family member's schedule to one master calendar so there are no surprises. Also, save vacation days for important events and talk to your supervisor about flexible work arrangements. 
    Establish a "no work" zone. Put down your BlackBerry and avoid checking emails from the time you arrive home until after your children have gone to sleep. 
    Consider flexible work arrangements. More companies are offering telecommuting options, flexible hours, condensed work weeks and other arrangements. Approach your boss with a game plan of how the new arrangement would work and how it can ultimately benefit the organization. 
    It’s ok to say no! In addition to actual work, sometimes activities associated with your job can take a toll on your free time. Determine what additional activities you can turn down and which are necessary so that you can free up more of your time outside of the office.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    City vs. Suburbs: What’s Best for the Kids?

    June 15, 2012 5:56 am

    According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 and 2010, there has been a distinct shift in the population during the past decade. While the population of urban areas grew by 12.1 percent, the country’s population overall grew by only 9.7 percent during those same years, revealing a trend toward urban living.


    With moving season in full swing, Rent.com surveyed parents regarding their attitudes about raising kids in the city versus the suburbs to gauge their primary concerns and preferences. According to the survey, city life has its pluses and minuses when deciding where to settle.

     

    For parents raising kids in the city, the question commonly arises – should we stay in the city, or should we go? Forty-two percent of survey respondents cited they have always lived in the city and are raising their kids there too, and 41.5 percent of respondents are equally dedicated to their suburban ties, choosing to remain in the suburbs to raise their families. Though, for those that did make a move when they had children, suburbia takes a marginal victory, as 10 percent of respondents cited a move from the city to the suburbs to raise their kids, while only 6.5 percent cited a move from the suburbs to the city to raise their kids.

    When it comes to making the move to a big city, Rent.com respondents agree that safety comes first with 82 percent of parents saying that a safe neighborhood is the most important determining factor when selecting an apartment or home in the city. In fact, over half, 56 percent, of survey respondents revealed that safety is their biggest concern when considering raising kids in the city. Forty-six percent of respondents agree that living in a suburb or smaller town when raising kids offers the advantage of a safer neighborhood when compared to raising them in the city.

    Survey respondents did acknowledge there are some real advantages to raising kids in an urban environment. In fact, almost 40 percent of respondents believe that the access to diverse cultures—people, food, art and more—is the biggest advantage to living in a city compared with the suburbs, while 16 percent said that opportunities for a better education made city living more appealing. Additionally, another 12 percent of survey respondents felt that the diversity of a city population is more conducive to raising kids since there is a greater chance to find like-minded friends and a place to fit in. On the contrary, a little under one-third of respondents did answer that the big city life does not offer any advantages over suburban living.

    One commonly perceived barrier that stands in the way of pursuing a city-centered life is cost of living; however, only about one in four respondents mentioned cost would be an issue when considering an urban move with the kids. Additionally, respondents weren’t too worried about the size of apartments and homes in the city, with only 9 percent of parents citing their biggest concern for city living being that they would not have enough space for their family.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    Advice for Buying Your First Home

    June 15, 2012 5:56 am

    Today’s real estate market presents lots of great opportunities for first-time homebuyers. The home-buying process can be difficult to navigate, especially for newbies. Here are some great tips for new homebuyers from Andovers, Mass.-based real estate professional Peggy Patenaude:

    • Get your (financial) house in order. Before you even begin your home search, make sure you check your credit scores on an online credit reporting site. Tackle any points of dispute and make sure your credit looks attractive to potential lenders. Then collect appropriate financial documents, including retroactive tax forms, bank statements, and pay stubs to submit to your lender. According to Patenaude, securing preapproval for a mortgage before you start your home search is the optimal path to take.

    • Do the math. There's no sense playing a guessing game when it comes to what your mortgage payment will be, says Patenaude. Use an online mortgage calculator to help you determine whether you can comfortably afford your monthly payments. Be sure to factor in taxes for your area and homeowner's insurance. Most lenders recommend that your housing payments exceed no more than 30 percent of your total income.

    • Do your research! Working with a professional real estate agent will enable you to learn the value of comparable homes in the areas you’re most interested. These "comps" will help reveal whether or not the home you are considering is priced fairly, explains Patenaude. 

    • Plan for upfront costs. Your mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance are ongoing, but don't forget to factor in the costs you will pay when you close your sale. Many fees contribute to closing costs.

    • Consult a REALTOR®. Ask trusted friends and local resources for recommendations of a REALTOR® who can guide you through your first-time buying experience. The expertise of a trusted real estate professional can be your greatest asset.

    • Don't lose sight of the grand scheme of things. While homeownership is a great way to build wealth, you must be prepared for a variety of unforeseen expenses that crop up when you own a home. Patenaude advises that you make sure your income and savings can accommodate the unpredictable elements of homeownership.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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    Make Driving More Budget-Friendly

    June 14, 2012 5:56 am

    According to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association, more than half of vacationers planning to drive by car will alter their leisure plans because of gas prices. Rather than changing family vacation plans, AutoZone suggests motorists proactively maintain vehicles to ease the pain at the pump and get the most out of their gas tanks.

    A few minutes of proactive maintenance, including checking and replacing oil and spark plugs at recommended intervals, can often improve fuel efficiency. Many motorists are unaware that simple routine maintenance can not only get you to your destination safely, but can help get the most out of your gas dollars.

    To help motorists maximize their fuel economy on their summer road trips, AutoZone offers the following tips:
    • Switch to a synthetic motor oil. Consider changing to a quality, synthetic oil. For the everyday driver, such oils can deliver up to 2 percent fuel economy improvement.
    • Check and maintain all fluid levels, such as engine oil and transmission fluids. And be sure your antifreeze/coolant is up to the task for hot summer temperatures to prevent engines from overheating. Replace fluids if needed according to recommended service intervals.
    • Replace spark plugs, oxygen sensors and air filters as recommended. Spark plugs can affect fuel efficiency, emissions and economy. As spark plugs wear, they do not burn fuel as cleanly, which is why it is important to change spark plugs at the proper interval. Motorists should purchase the correct type of spark plugs and replace them at the interval recommended by the manufacturer. If the owner's manual has been lost, many websites, such as the National Car Care Council's website (carcare.org), offer a recommended maintenance schedule for vehicles.
    • Replacing oxygen sensors can significantly improve gas mileage. Check and replace one-and two-wire sensors every 30,000-50,000 miles and every 60,000-100,000 miles for "heated" type oxygen sensors.
    • Replacing a clogged air filter can lead to increased performance and acceleration. Air filters should be checked at every oil change.
    • Be proactive. Proactive checks and preventative maintenance of critical engine components can be the difference between staying on the road and being stranded on the roadside.
    • Be prepared. Visit an automotive retailer to purchase a roadside emergency kit. Also keep items such as a tire pressure gauge, spare serpentine belt and jumper cables handy.
    • Extreme temperatures can mean battery failure. Corrosion caused by heat is the leading cause of battery failure, and batteries often do not give noticeable warning signs if they're about to fail. Retailers offer free battery testing in most states.
    Source: AutoZone

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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