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

Homeowners: Your Flood Risk May Be Higher Than You Think

April 12, 2016 5:01 am

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reports less than 15 percent of homeowners and renters have flood insurance—but nine out of 10 natural disasters involve some level of flooding.

“Too few residences are covered by flood insurance policies because many homeowners and renters underestimate their flood risk,” says Jeanne Salvatore, the I.I.I.’s senior vice president for Public Affairs and chief communications officer, noting that 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate-to-low flood risk areas. “Most Americans should, at the very least, consider acquiring flood insurance because standard homeowners and renters policies do not cover flood-caused damage.”

Flood insurance is available to homeowners and renters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurance companies. Excess flood insurance policies can also be purchased by homeowners seeking coverage above and beyond the basic NFIP policy, which is capped at $250,000 for structural damage and $100,000 for contents. Those residing in a community that does not participate in FEMA’s NFIP also have the option to purchase an excess policy.

“There is a 30-day waiting period between buying an NFIP policy, and when the coverage takes effect, so those residing along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines may want to act soon, because hurricane season starts on June 1,” Salvatore adds.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects elevated risk of moderate flooding in the South and areas along the Missouri River basin this year.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

The Best (and Worst) Things to Buy in April

April 11, 2016 5:01 am

Seasonal shoppers save big bucks because they know what goes on sale when, and what purchases to delay until the timing is more favorable. Recent posts on DailyFinance.com and DealNews.com reveal the five best—and worst—things to look for in April:

• Green Goods – Earth Day may be near the end of April, but retailers use the entire month to promote green goodies, offering special deals on organic foods, natural beauty items and other earth-friendly goods for the home and garden.

• Restaurant Freebies – There are some savings available on Tax Day, when many restaurants offer free food incentives, including no-cost appetizers, beverages or desserts when you order a meal. Watch the ads in your local paper for offers in your community.

• Small Kitchen Appliances – Wedding season is around the corner, and the best deals are available now on toasters, coffeemakers, hand mixers, blenders and more.

• Vacuums and Cleaning Supplies – With spring cleaning in mind, prices go down on vacuum cleaners and other hard and soft cleaning goods in April. Look online, as well as in retail shops, for the best buys on the equipment you need.

• Winter Wear – With cold weather on the way out, retailers are clearing out winter clothing and accessories to make room for spring and summer styles. With a little due diligence, you may be able to score clearance winter goods at more than 50 percent off.

Which items should you delay purchasing?

• Grills – It’s tempting to want to start grilling as soon as the weather begins to warm up, but the best buys on grills and grilling gear are in May and June, experts say.

• Mattresses – You’ll start to see them go on sale in April, but the experts recommend waiting until May or June for deeper discounts—sometimes as much as 60 percent off original prices.

• Refrigerators – The new models come out in June, so wait a month and look for sales of as much as 25 percent off on this year’s models then.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Outdoor Renovations Top To-Do List for Homeowners

April 11, 2016 5:01 am

Break out those hammers, folks! Millions of homeowners are planning to renovate their homes in the next year—36 million, to be exact, according to a recent Bankrate.com survey. The majority of renovations will take place outside of the home, the survey found, including improvements to:

• Driveways
• Decks
• Fencing
• Landscaping
• Patios
• Pools
• Roofing
• Siding

“With more homeowners deciding to make upgrades to their homes this year, it's a sure sign that they're generally feeling more secure about the economy and in the housing market, as well,” says Mike Cetera, Bankrate.com's personal loans and credit analyst.

Millennial homeowners are more likely than others to renovate in the next year, according to the survey—and interestingly, homeowners with lower incomes are just as likely to renovate in the next year as those more flexible budgets.

For homeowners planning to finance a renovation, Cetera recommends considering a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). These charge lower interest rates than personal loans, but do require the home as collateral. Cetera also suggests applying for a zero-percent balance transfer credit card, if the homeowner exhibits creditworthiness. 

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

The Dirt on Cleaning: Chores Shared in Many Households

April 11, 2016 5:01 am

Housework is one of the many responsibilities that come with homeownership—and until recently, women were believed to take on the lion’s share.

“The perception that home care is only women’s work is inaccurate,” says Sarah Peters, global business partner with Nielsen, which recently released results from its Global Homecare Survey that deflate the widely-held notion.

Forty-five percent of respondents to the survey reported men and women either divide chores, or men perform them solo.

Thirty-one percent of respondents reported cleaning and doing laundry daily. One of those tasks, however, falls on women’s shoulders more often than men’s. Forty-four percent of respondents to the survey reported women doing the majority of the cleaning; 28 percent reported sharing the responsibility.

The survey also explored the motivators behind purchases related to housework, revealing a notable trend: environmentally-friendly products matter. A significant portion of respondents to the survey reported a preference for cleaning products that are organic and/or all-natural, with sustainable packaging and high-efficiency capabilities that consume less resources.

Source: Nielsen

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

7 Quick Ways to De-Stress

April 8, 2016 4:55 am

Too many of us put relaxation on hold, despite knowing stress management is crucial for good health. Would you take the time to de-stress more often if there were quick ways to do so? Personal trainers and life coaches suggest seven ways worth considering:
 
1. Keep a Journal –Writing is ideal for mental clarity because it makes you think out issues and reflect on what’s happening in your life. Writing in a daily journal for 10 minutes each evening can relax you, and even help you sleep better.
 
2. Go to the Movies by Yourself – If you can manage it, think about it: it gets you away from everything and everyone, you’re not allowed to talk, and you have to silence your cell phone. Perfect.
 
3. Go for a Walk – Even a short walk around your home or office can help put the world in perspective. Walk at a moderate pace and do your best to observe and appreciate the sights and sounds along the way.
 
4. Take a Breath – Three minutes of slow, deep breathing can do wonders for clearing your mind, improving your focus and easing your daily stress.
 
5. Do Something You Like – Take a warm bath or a 20-minute power nap. Phone a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Treat yourself to your favorite snack (especially if it’s dark chocolate.) Be kind to your body just for a little bit and feel the difference in your stress level.
 
6. Listen to Music – Listening to soothing music, even for 10 or 15 minutes, slows your breathing and heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes tense muscles.
 
7. Create a Relaxation Space – Even a designated chair in your office can be your go-to space. Keep some magazines, crossword puzzles or a book of poems nearby, but leave your phone behind and don’t answer it while you are in your space.

Have you done any of the above to combat stress? What other ways do you unwind?

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Going Solar? Resources for Homeowners

April 8, 2016 4:55 am

A growing number of homeowners are powering their homes with solar energy—in fact, rooftop solar power grew over 60 percent in the last year. Considering solar for your home? Consult these resources from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC):

Be Solar Smart Checklist
www.IRECUSA.org/consumer/checklist.pdf

The IREC’s Be Solar Smart Checklist outlines questions consumers should ask themselves and other parties involved in the process in order to assure a fair deal and safe installation.

Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights
www.IRECUSA.org/consumer/bill-of-rights.pdf

The IREC’s Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights lays out the standards consumers should expect from parties involved in the process. It addresses issues such as advertising, contractual transparency, privacy, safety, warranties, and more.

Resources are available from other organizations in the industry, as well. This information, found at www.IREACUSA.org/consumer-protection/consumer-resources/, includes:

• Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power (Solar Energy Industries Association)

• “When Going Solar, Should You Lease or Buy? The Pros, Cons and Costs of Installing a Solar Photovoltaic System” (Consumer Reports)

• A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing: Leases, Loans and PPAs (Clean Energy States Alliance and the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative)

• Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

• North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)

“After a home, a solar system could be one of the biggest investments a consumer makes,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Energy and Environment, Consumer Reports. “It's important for consumers to have independent information to guide them through the process to make sure reality meets their expectations and benefits of installing solar are realized.”

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC)

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Prepping Your Garden in Spring for Summer Bounty – Pt. 1

April 8, 2016 4:55 am

Spring is here, and thousands of homeowners across the country are eyeballing their starter plants, heading to garden centers and plotting out where and what they'll be planting this year.

If you're a little late in launching plans for a home garden, experts say the coming weeks are the best time to get started. The good news is, with little effort and the right equipment, you can enjoy its beauty and harvest, whether in a garden compact enough for a corner of a deck or patio, or one expansive enough to grow food that sustains your family virtually year-round.

According to Brian Bath of “Modern Farmer” (modernfarmer.com), now’s the time to take your gas-powered equipment in for a seasonal tune-up and cleaning. While your power equipment is getting primed for work, Barth says to dig into a thorough check of your hand and digging tools:

• Sand off any rust using steel wool, use a sharpening stone to restore a sharp edge to the blades, and coat the blades and moving parts with a light penetrating oil. (A local hardware store will often offer these services if you’re not up for the task, Barth says.)

• Break the handle on a shovel or digging fork last year? If it’s a good quality tool, it’s worth buying a new handle and replacing it, rather than tossing the whole thing in a landfill. Some gardeners go so far as to sharpen the digging blade of their shovels with a coarse file each year, but at the very least, wash off any accumulated dirt, dry down the blade, and spray it with penetrating oil to ward off rust.

In our next segment, we'll dig into prepping your vegetable garden!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

More Households Pouring Savings into Rainy Day Funds

April 7, 2016 4:55 am

More households are pouring savings back into rainy day funds.

According to a recently released survey by NeighborWorks America, a non-profit community development organization, more households are setting money aside for an emergency—71 percent of Americans this year versus 63 percent last year.

Predictably, those with a higher income are much more prepared to reserve emergency funds, a survey finding that underscores the fragile financial circumstances many still face. Specifically, 91 percent of Americans surveyed with an annual income above $100,000 have emergency savings, compared to 63 percent with an annual income below $40,000 and 39 percent with an annual income of less than $20,000.

The survey also highlights a significant gap in emergency savings capacity between homeowners and renters. Eighty-four percent of homeowners surveyed with an annual income between $40,000 and $59,000 have saved money in case of emergency; 58 percent of renters in the same income range have done the same.

A similar divergence also occurs at the higher income level: 97 percent of homeowners with an annual income of $100,000 or more report having emergency savings, compared to 67 percent of renters in the same income range.

Source: NeighborWorks America

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

That Lawn's a Looker! 5 Fertilizing Tips

April 7, 2016 4:55 am

(Family Features)—Behind every lush lawn is a power-packed fertilizer. Fertilizer supports healthy growth by heightening grass density, lowering ambient temperature and building resistance to the elements, pests and weeds, according to the experts at TruGreen. It also helps deepen pigment, resulting in a vibrant green lawn. We all want that!

Select and apply fertilizer specific to your lawn with these tips:

1. Identify the Grass – The grass will help determine which type of fertilizer to apply. Warm-season grass turns brown after the first frost; cool-season grass stays green nearly all year in cool and transitional zones, but will turn brown in summer in warm-season zones.

Southern states tend to support warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, while northern states house cool-season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. Across the central states are large sections of transitional areas, which are home to both warm- and cool-season grasses.

2. Determine Soil Type and Drainage – Your fertilizer selection will also depend on the soil type of your lawn. Sandy soil drains well, giving grass plenty of access to oxygen; however, nutrients can leach out with draining water. Clays and other poor-draining soils can be fertile, but can still result in unhealthy grass.

3. Learn the Number System – Bags of lawn fertilizer feature three numbers, such as 28-3-5 or 20-5-10, which represent the percentages of nutrients. The first number is nitrogen (N), which helps grass grow and become greener. The second number is phosphorus (P), which stimulates root and seedling development. The third is potassium (K), which promotes tolerance against disease and drought.

Avoid fertilizers containing high amounts of phosphorus, unless establishing new turf by seed, or if a deficiency indicates otherwise.

4. Know Your Options – Most in-store fertilizers come in two categories: quick-release and slow-release. Quick-release granules send nutrients to the soil fast, which helps the lawn green up in a shorter time span, but also increases the risk of damage and disease if the product is over-applied. Slow-release fertilizers may not provide immediate results, but they will require less frequent applications.

5. Set a Schedule – Striking the proper balance when fertilizing is essential. Too much can leave fertilizer burn, and too little can leave your yard prone to weeds. Be sure to follow the directions on the bag, or, consider hiring an expert to assess your lawn—he or she can pinpoint the ideal times to fertilize.

Source: TruGreen

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Tax Season: Claiming the Home Office Deduction

April 7, 2016 4:55 am

Many homeowners are eligible to claim a deduction for business use of their home—commonly known as the home office deduction—when filing their taxes. Eligible taxpayers have the option to choose the simplified method when claiming the deduction, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The simplified method is designed to reduce the burden of recordkeeping, as well as paperwork, for small businesses. This optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet.

By selecting the simplified method, home-based businesses need only complete a short worksheet in the tax instructions and enter the result on their tax return. Normally, home-based businesses are required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829), calculating allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions.

Self-employed individuals choosing the simplified method claim the home office deduction on Schedule C, Line 30; farmers claim it on Schedule F, Line 32; and eligible employees claim it on Schedule A, Line 21.

When choosing the simplified method, home-based businesses cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, but they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method.

Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees, are still fully deductible. Long-standing restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the business, still apply under the simplified method.

Further details on the home office deduction and the simplified method can be found in Publication 587 on IRS.gov.

Source: IRS.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags: