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

Pests on Your Property? Don't Spray Yet!

July 28, 2016 1:49 am


As a homeowner, you may be inclined to eliminate pests from your landscape at first sighting. We don’t blame you!

Most pests, however, are harmless, and in fact beneficial, to a landscape’s ecosystem. Pest-related damage, though alarming, is likely a sign that a natural process is occurring.

“A landscape without insects and microorganisms would be a very unhealthy environment,” explained Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), in a statement. “The trick is to the balance the threshold of healthy with having too much of a good thing, when the naturally-occurring insects and diseases become a problem.”

According to the TCIA, pests are one of many rungs on the ladder of the ecosystem, contributing to decomposition and other natural processes. Commercial pest removal sprays disrupt those processes.

“This is where an integrated pest management (IPM) program may benefit your landscape plants,” Andersen said.

To implement this system, the TCIA advises exercising proactive measures, such as irrigation and mulching, and consulting a tree care professional—the latter will be able to provide recommendations should pests become a problem.

“A healthy landscape is less susceptible to pest outbreaks and is more resilient if an outbreak does occur,” concluded Andersen.

Source: Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Self-Driving Cars to Transform Cities, Housing

July 28, 2016 1:49 am


Self-driving cars have made headlines as a revolutionary invention, but little has been written about their revolutionary impact—until now.

According to a recently released report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the preponderance of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) could result in less accidents, less pollution and less traffic in urban centers brimming with commuters.

“There is a compelling case to be made for SDVs in cities,” said Nikolaus Lang, co-author of the report, which postulates that cities will be irrevocably altered by the self-driving car, in a statement. “Ride-shared, electric robo-taxis can substantially transform and improve urban transportation, and, by direct extension, livability, by providing more people with easier access to mobility, making streets safer, and freeing up space no longer needed for parking.”

The report estimates universal use of SDVs, including robo-taxis, could reduce the number of cars on city streets by 60 percent, reduce vehicle emissions by 80 percent, and reduce accidents by 90 percent.

Developments such as these are not far off, if the report’s findings bear out—58 percent of drivers in cities around the world are open to an SDV, and many are willing to pay a premium for one. The initial upfront cost, they reason, pales in comparison to the potential savings, including on gas and parking fees.

Savings could even be realized in housing, the report adds—SDVs may make it “more convenient to live farther from the expensive city core.”

Policymakers believe SDVs will soon have a transformative effect on cities, as well. Sixty percent of those included in the report expect at least one city to ban conventional car ownership by 2025.

That city, with few cars, less road incidents and minimal pollution, will serve as a paradigm for others, and a catalyst for widespread adoption, the report concludes.

Source: The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Tips to Create a Multi-Tasking Home Office

July 27, 2016 1:49 am


Did you know approximately 40 percent of employees telecommute to the office?

Remote work has made the home office a necessity for many of us, but without space to spare, dedicating an area for work can be difficult.

Enter the multi-tasking office—not only functional during working hours, but also practical for a range of activities, from entertaining to exercising.

To make a multi-tasking office in your home:

Use every square inch. Work with the room’s existing layout—tuck a desk into an attic dormer, for example, or convert a closet into a workspace.

Divide the room visually. Cordon off work space with curtains, a folding screen or partition, concealing other areas of the room not in use while “at the office.”

Look up. Make use of wall space for maximum storage. To stay organized while the room is not an office, install layered shelving on just one accent wall.

Go mobile. Attach locking coasters to the desk and other furniture; this will make moving pieces simple when it is time to repurpose the space.

Double up. Turn the space into a guest bedroom—take a break (or host clients) on a compact daybed that doubles as a sofa, or install a stowaway Murphy bed against the wall.

Source: Brandpoint
 

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Does Your House Match National Construction Trends?

July 27, 2016 1:49 am


The U.S. Census Bureau recently unveiled the latest national annual data on the characteristics of new, privately-owned residences, gathered in the 2015 Survey of Construction (SOC). The SOC’s statistics divulge trends in homebuilding, painting an insightful portrait of the American home today.

According to the SOC, the median size of a single-family house built last year is 2,467 square feet. Of the 648,000 single-family homes built last year:

• 600,000 have air conditioning
• 282,000 have at least four bedrooms
• 246,000 have at least three bathrooms
• 183,000 have a fiber-cement exterior
• 137,000 have an open foyer
• 122,000 have a patio and porch
• 66,000 have at most two bedrooms
• 25,000 have at most one and one-half bathrooms

The median size of a single-family house sold last year is 2,520 square feet, according to the SOC. Of the 501,000 single-family homes sold last year:

• 453,000 are detached homes
• 348,000 were paid for with conventional financing
• 327,000 have a two-car garage
• 278,000 have two stories
• 200,000 have one story
• 131,000 have at least a three-car garage
• 49,000 are attached homes
• 42,000 were VA-guaranteed
• 24,000 have at least three stories

The median sale price of a new single-family house sold last year was $296,400—the average sale price, conversely, was $360,600, per the SOC.

To learn how your home aligns with these trends, view the interactive graphic, “New Single-Family Homes in 2015,” at www.census.gov/construction/chars/interactive/.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Savings from Raised Homeowners Insurance Deductibles Vary by State

July 27, 2016 1:49 am


Raising the deductible on any type of insurance policy typically reduces the premium. Raising the deductible on a homeowners insurance policy, however, may not guarantee savings, according to a recently released study by insuranceQuotes.

Insurance policies—and opportunities to save on them—vary by state, the study reveals. In North Carolina, for example, policyholders reap a 16.4 percent savings when the deductible is raised from $500 to $1,000; in Texas, on the other hand, policyholders save just 1.8 percent for the same raise.

The states with the highest savings rates on a $500 to $1,000 deductible raise, based on the study’s findings, are:

1. North Carolina (16.38 percent)
2. Rhode Island (14.02 percent)
3. Connecticut (12.23 percent)
4. Massachusetts (10.54 percent)
5. Nebraska (10.15 percent)
6. Pennsylvania (9.88 percent)
7. New York (9.85 percent)
8. Alabama (9.69 percent)
9. Iowa (9.52 percent)
10. Maine (9.40 percent)

“Choosing a higher deductible means you share more potential financial risk with an insurer and also makes you less likely to file a claim,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for insuranceQuotes. “In return, insurers charge a lower premium.

“What you do with your home insurance deductible should depend on where you live,” Adams says. “If there’s no significant savings, it may not make financial sense to increase your deductible. Be sure to review your coverage every couple of years to make sure your policy and insurance provider is still right for you.”

To learn the savings rate in your state, and rates for higher raises, visit insurancequotes.com/home/raising-homeowners-deductible-saves-money-071316.

Source: insuranceQuotes
 

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Paint Project: Liven Up Your Landscape

July 26, 2016 1:49 am


No plants needed!

One of the most cost-effective products to liven up your home’s landscape is paint, says Debbie Zimmer, design expert with the Paint Quality Institute.

“Just focus on fun items like birdhouses, mailboxes and planters that can be colorfully painted in the comfort of your home, then moved outside later on,” says Zimmer, who recommends approaching the project with coordination in mind. If the home’s exterior is green, for example, paint items in related shades from the palette.

Don’t discount creativity, Zimmer adds. Paint the mailbox with motifs that represent your hobbies, interests or personality, or paint patterns on planters to emphasize greenery. Visually interesting symbols and textures will add life to your landscape.

Zimmer also advises using 100-percent acrylic paint for the project, so that the finish withstands the elements long-term.

“Paints and coatings made with 100 percent acrylic are extremely durable, fade-resistance and flexible enough to expand and contract in extreme temperatures,” Zimmer explains. “As a result, they can protect outdoor creations from the elements for many years to come.”

Source: Paint Quality Institute
 

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Snack Happy: 3 Tips to Eat Healthier

July 26, 2016 1:49 am


Too many of us attempting to consume a more healthy diet, feel better or lose weight have tried every regimen, with limited long-term success.

Consumer editors at Business Insider recently consulted with nutritionist Andy Bellatti to nail down the diet tips that work—and the ones that don’t. Bellatti, a registered dietician, offered three simple tips to healthier eating:

1. Eat Real Food
Swap the powders, processed substitutes and supplements for fresh veggies, nuts and whole grain foods. These “powerhouse” foods, so named by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are not only chock full of vitamins and nutrients, but are also packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and satisfied until your next meal.

2. Look for Ingredients with Measurable Benefits
Most health guidelines are based on specific, measurable benefits—from drinking a certain amount of water each day (end goal: stay hydrated) to eating a specified amount of protein (end goal: maintain and build muscles).

While some standards depend on lifestyle factors like height, weight, gender, or amount of daily exercise, others—like eating calcium- and fiber-rich foods—apply to everyone. Stick to foods with measurable benefits and steer clear of fad products that promise to “cleanse your aura” or “give you glowing skin in 48 hours.”

3. Look to Your Lifestyle Mentors
Instead of subscribing to a specific meal plan, or banishing certain foods from your diet altogether, take a lesson from the people you know who are living a healthy lifestyle. In most cases, the people in your life who are the healthiest are taking practical steps: choosing water over soda, eating very little fast food, and exercising regularly.
 

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What Are the Benefits of a Homeowners Association?

July 26, 2016 1:49 am


Homeowners in large-scale associations enjoy a number of association-managed services, many of which are beyond those offered by municipalities. The level at which these services are provided is just one of the benefits drawing homeowners to association living, according to a recently released survey by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR).

FCAR’s Large-Scale Association Survey, which evaluated associations with 1,000 or more lots (including residential, age-restricted and private club communities), found that large-scale associations offer high-caliber services, from roadway maintenance and stormwater management to recreation and security. In effect, large-scale associations act as governmental entities—an advantage for homeowners who would otherwise not receive services at the municipal level.

Large-scale associations also manage the environmental costs of development, as municipal organizations do, according to the survey’s findings. Most associations impose land use restrictions that protect conservation areas, waterways and wetlands.

Civic involvement is prevalent in large-scale associations, as well, the survey found—residents may be invited to attend community-related forums, for instance, or cast an opinion at a polling location within the association.

Community associations, which include condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities, became commonplace by the late 1960s, and, according to a Community Associations Institute statement on the survey, “now represent the greatest extension of housing ownership since the New Deal housing reforms and GI Bill after World War II.”

Source: Community Associations Institute (CAI)
 

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Are You Paying Too Much for Flood Insurance?

July 25, 2016 1:46 am


Property owners of both residential and commercial units purchased more than $3.5 billion in flood policies last year through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The reason? More lenders may be requiring flood insurance—and yours could ask for it, too.

Insuring your home against flood risk is important, but it is also important to understand its cost. One way to ensure cost-control is with an error-free elevation certificate, says Michael Allison, president of AmeriFlood Solutions, Inc.

The elevation certificate is a document that indicates the elevation of the property, which determines insurance premium rates. The certificate must be free of errors and omissions—either could potentially cost thousands in needless expense, Allison says.

“A signed and sealed elevation certificated does not ensure accuracy,” Allison said in a statement. “More than 50 percent of the elevation certificates reviewed by our staff have errors. Further, outdated elevation certificates may not reflect building improvements or uncover documentation errors or omissions that can cause insurance agents, brokers and carriers to rate flood policies inaccurately. That can add up to a considerable difference in the amount paid for coverage or measures implemented to mitigate flood damage.”

Allison recommends reviewing the elevation certificate with an insurance broker or agent or flood risk expert—they can help you determine if you are paying too much (or too little) for flood insurance.

Source: AmeriFlood Solutions, Inc.
 

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The Case for Siding with Brick

July 25, 2016 1:46 am


There are many benefits to building and owning a home with a brick exterior—many of which outweigh the cost.

“The initial cost of a brick home is quite competitive, especially since most homes require less exterior cladding than people think,” said Ray Leonhard, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA), in a statement. “An average 2,700-square-foot, two-story house only needs 2,265 square feet of cladding material when accounting for windows, doors, etc.”

According to “The Installed Cost of Residential Siding,” a report by the BIA comparing brick to other types of siding, brick wall cladding can cost up to 15 percent less than stone veneer, up to 8 percent more than vinyl siding, up to 6 percent more than fiber cement siding or wood shingles, and up to 3 percent more than stucco or wood siding.

In approximately 65 percent of the major housing areas assessed in the report, brick costs less than stone and wood siding—an important distinction for new-home builders in hot markets like Austin, Texas, Charlotte, N.C., and Denver, Colo.

Some brick manufacturers offer 100-year warranties—a testament to the durability of the material, Leonhard said. Brick is relatively low-maintenance, with no painting required, and boasts insulation properties that not only reduce energy consumption, but also reduce noise.

Brick homes are also better outfitted to guard against fire and wind, which can be a boon in disaster situations, Leonhard added.

To learn more about brick homes, visit GoBrick.com.

Source: Brick Industry Association (BIA)
 

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