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

Renting a Vacation Home? Know Your Options

April 5, 2016 4:52 am

Peer-to-peer vacation rental listings are on the rise, but some renters find more favor with rental management companies, according to a recent industry study.

While there are benefits to both peer-to-peer and managed rentals, tales of rentals-gone-bad seem to spike when the home is booked directly with the host homeowner—renters cited in the study said they felt safer staying in a managed rental than staying in a peer-to-peer listing.

Unlike direct-from-homeowner rentals, vacation rental managers oversee the process from start to finish, and have established standards for quality, service and security for their properties. Peer-to-peer rentals leave the standards up to each individual homeowner.

“The reality is most homeowners don't have the time to adequately meet guest expectations when it comes to safety, cleanliness and assistance, and as a result they find the tasks daunting,” says Gail Mandel, CEO of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which conducted the study.

“Guests should know they do not have to go it alone,” Mandel adds. “But if they do, they should keep in mind important tips, like renting from a reputable source, watching for signs of fraud and only using secure payment methods.”

Source: Wyndham Vacation Rentals

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Survey: Homeowners Lacking in the Lawn Care Department

April 5, 2016 4:52 am

Many homeowners have landscapes to tend to—but only a fraction know how to maintain them.

Findings from a recent survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) suggest the majority of homeowners lack lawn care know-how, demonstrating misperceptions across the board. Survey data reveal nearly three-quarters of homeowners believe they know how to care for their lawns, yet significant percentages fell short when asked about specific maintenance measures:

• Sixty-four percent falsely believe grass seeds need to be fertilized in spring.

• Fifty-seven percent falsely believe that if a lawn is not green, it is not healthy.

• Thirty-two percent admit they are not sure how often a lawn should be watered.

Still, this gap in knowledge has not deterred homeowners from seeking a lush lawn—even if that means soliciting professional expertise. Over 90 percent of respondents to the survey have had landscaping services performed in the last year, with approximately 80 percent relying on someone in their household and more than 40 percent hiring a professional to carry out those duties.

Source: NALP

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Achoo! 2016's Top 10 Spring Allergy Capitals

April 4, 2016 4:49 am

Fifty million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, with tree pollen the primary cause of symptoms in spring.

The most challenging cities for allergies this season, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), are:

1. Jackson, Miss.
2. Memphis, Tenn.
3. Syracuse, N.Y.
4. Louisville, Ky.
5. McAllen, Texas
6. Wichita, Kan.
7. Oklahoma City, Okla.
8. Providence, R.I.
9. Knoxville, Tenn.
10. Buffalo, N.Y.

“AAFA's annual Spring Allergy Capitals report provides important insights into cities where people are most affected by seasonal symptoms due to environmental factors such as pollen, behaviors such as allergy medication usage and the availability of board-certified clinicians,” explains Cary Sennett, AAFA's president and CEO. “Whether you live in one of these allergy capitals or anywhere else, it's important to work with your health care providers to recognize the elements that trigger your allergies and determine the best treatments to enjoy your life unencumbered by seasonal nasal allergies.”

“Many different types of seasonal nasal allergy treatments are available, including prescription medications and new combination therapies, mono-therapies, short- and long-term treatments that may help relieve symptoms,” adds Dr. Purvi Parikh, a board-certified allergist and immunologist. “Because spring is the time when most people with allergies experience their worst seasonal allergy symptoms, it's important that allergy sufferers seek advice from a health care professional before the season hits full force.”

To view the complete list of cities in the Spring Allergy Capitals report, visit www.AllergyCapitals.com.

Source: AAFA

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30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Unchanged

April 4, 2016 4:49 am

Mortgage rates remain largely unchanged, albeit mixed, following a Federal Reserve update last week, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) stands at 3.71 percent, with an average 0.5 point, and the 15-year FRM averages 2.98 percent, with an average 0.4 point.

“Dovish comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday triggered a rally in Treasury markets and drove the 10-year yield down 13 basis points from [the previous] week's high,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Yellen's comments came too late to affect this week's mortgage rate survey, and the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.71 percent. However, if the Fed's cautious tone persists, mortgage rates may register the impact in subsequent weeks.”

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averages 2.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the survey reports.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Do My 2015 Energy Improvements Qualify for a 2016 Tax Break?

April 4, 2016 4:49 am

Improved biomass burning products—think wood stoves— are an emerging trend, recently identified at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s (HPBA) HPBExpo. HPBA anticipates the trend toward reduced emissions and increased efficiency will accelerate this year, as homeowners and builders take advantage of new tax credits offered for energy-saving improvements.

According to the IRS, if you made energy-saving improvements to more than one home that you used as a residence during 2015, pick up IRS Form 5695.

You may be able to take a credit of 30 percent of your costs for qualified solar electric property, solar water heating property, small wind energy property, geothermal heat pump property, and fuel cell property.

The IRS reminds qualified filers to include any labor costs properly allocated to the onsite preparation, assembly, or original installation of the residential energy-efficient property, and for piping or wiring to interconnect such property to the home.

The credit amount for costs paid for qualified fuel cell property is limited to $500 for each one-half kilowatt of capacity of the property.

You may also be able to take a credit equal to the sum of 10 percent of the amount paid or incurred for qualified energy efficiency improvements installed during 2015, and any residential energy property costs paid or incurred in 2015.

This credit is limited as follows:

• A total combined credit limit of $500 for all tax years after 2005;

• A combined credit limit of $200 for windows for all tax years after 2005;

• A credit limit for residential energy property costs for 2015 of $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan; $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler; and $300 for any item of energy efficient building property.

Download the form to review and see if you qualify here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i5695.pdf.

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Students: 5 Questions to Ask Financial Aid Offices

April 1, 2016 4:46 am

There’s no question about it: college is a large investment. But there are a few questions students should ask regarding financial aid, says Mark Kantrowitz, author of “Filing the FAFSA” and senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.com.

Those questions are:

1. Do you meet full demonstrated financial need or is there an unmet need? (Unmet need is the difference between the student's demonstrated financial need and the student's financial aid package.)

2. How does the college reduce the need-based financial aid package when a student wins a private scholarship? (Scholarship displacement can affect college affordability.)

3. Do you practice front-loading of grants? (Front-loading is a financial aid strategy used by colleges to award more grants and scholarships to a student in his or her first year of attendance. In subsequent years, the college will reduce the amount of grants and scholarships and offer more self-help aid, such as student employment and student loans.)

4. What percentage of students graduate with debt and what is the average cumulative debt at graduation?

5. How does one appeal for more financial aid if the financial aid award is insufficient or the family’s financial circumstances have changed or will change?

By asking these questions, students can make informed decisions about which institution to attend, as well as ensure a successful financial future after graduation.

Source: Edvisors.com

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Remodeling the Bath? 5 Touch-of-Luxury Tubs

April 1, 2016 4:46 am

For their range of high-end amenities, luxury homes have one feature in common: a show-stopping master bath. The average remodeler can get a similar luxe look by up-scaling the project, say the experts at Cornerstone Design and Remodel, a San Diego, Calif.-based firm. The feature that’s most worth the investment? A deluxe bathtub.

According to Cornerstone, the most popular luxury tubs are:

1. Claw-Foot Tubs
Claw-foot bathtubs are the epitome of Old World luxury, with vintage feet that raise the tub several inches off the floor. This tub is ideal for those looking to add a statement piece to their bathroom.

2. Drop-In Tubs
With drop-in bathtubs, the plumbing is concealed underneath the tub. Drop-ins can be installed with a surrounding shelf for seating, and may also include whirlpool settings.

3. Freestanding Tubs
Freestanding bathtubs can help highlight the flooring, while also adding a sense of spaciousness. These tubs can be installed anywhere in the bathroom, proving them versatile.

4. Soaking Tubs
Soaking tubs have a supportive shape different than traditional bathtubs, allowing the bather to sink lower and retain the water temperature. These tubs are capable of being equipped with a hydrotherapy system.

5. Walk-In Tubs
Walk-in tubs have a watertight door and built-in seat ideal for those with limited mobility. Aside from being an add-on, the seat allows the bather to sit upright comfortably.

Aside from these tubs, remodelers may also want to consider a custom-built model, which can be shaped into specific dimensions (or freeform) depending on the design plans.

Source: Cornerstone Design and Remodel

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7 No-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Spring

April 1, 2016 4:46 am

Ready or not, spring is here, and with it comes the urge to open up your home to fresh breezes and sunshine. The trouble with that, as some homeowners lament, is that the furnishings may look a little tired.

Before you replace a few big-ticket items, take a few tips from the editors of Home & Garden Magazine to spruce up your home without spending any money:

Bring the Outdoors In – Take a walk and gather a bunch of the season’s first lilies or daffodils, or even a branch or two of greenery. Fresh greens and flowers are the fastest and easiest way to put a little spring in your home.

Flip the Throw Rug – This may not work for oriental rugs, but for others, flipping a rug upside down may expose a textural difference or a slightly different hue that changes the look of the room.

Rethink the Layout – Sit down with a pencil and paper and try out some different furniture arrangements. A simple switch may make all the difference in changing the look of your home.

Use Leftover Paint – If it’s still sitting in the garage, use it to freshen up walls or cabinets that may have been scrubbed once too much.

Edit It Down – Sometimes, when a room looks tired, you don’t need to add anything new. Try removing a few things to edit down the space. You may find less is more.

Rearrange Displays – Instead of packing in row after row of books on a bookcase, try leaving space open on the shelves and display a few knick-knacks or art objects.

Change Out Wall Art – Move a few of your favorite paintings to another spot. Switch them out with a couple of prints or family photos. Check the attic for a vintage item or two and hang them on the walls for a fresh, new look. 

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Tips to Secure Your Home in Spring

March 31, 2016 4:46 am

Warmer weather is on the way! From freshening up the home to planning a pre-summer getaway, we all have tasks to look forward to come spring. Amid the spring fever, it’s important to be mindful of your home’s security, says Steve Kolobaric, spokesperson for security solution provider Weiser Lock.

Kolobaric’s safety tips include:

• Inspect entry points around your home for winter-related damage. Ensure window locks are functional and gates or fences are secure, and replace any burnt-out bulbs in outdoor lighting. If you’ve recently purchased the home, change the door locks if you have not done so already.

• If clearing storage areas while spring cleaning, be sure to cut, stack and tie cardboard boxes together when you place them in the recycle. Leaving boxes as-is, especially if they’re for expensive items like televisions, computers or video game consoles, can give thieves incentive to burglarize the home.

• When spending time outdoors, lock your front door. It may seem excessive, but most break-ins occur through an unlocked front door. Be sure to lock windows when closing them for the night.

• If traveling for spring break, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your property while you’re gone. Ask them to collect the mail, sweep (or shovel!) the walk way, or occasionally park a car in the driveway to make it appear someone is home.

Source: Weiser Lock

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3 Tips to Get Your Yard Summer-Ready

March 31, 2016 4:46 am

(Family Features)—Year after year, our yards endure the winter elements—and that wear-and-tear can mean less time outdoors come summer. To get your yard into summer shape, start preparing now with these tips, courtesy of the experts at Sun Joe, a leading outdoor power equipment provider.

Preparing the Garden
Prepare planting beds by using a tiller before seeding. Loosening up existing soil helps water and nutrients reach your new plants' roots. Add manure before tilling to create a healthy growing environment. Mulch around your plants—a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer will keep roots cool in the upcoming summer months.

Preparing the Lawn
Wait for the soil to dry out before starting work on your lawn—working with soggy soil can harm tender grass roots. Once the soil is dry, mow only once you need to; grass is at its healthiest if you cut no more than a third of the blade.

Preparing the Patio
Use a pressure washer to eliminate grime, which can build up significantly over winter. Whether you own your own equipment or plan to rent or buy it, be sure to read the instruction manual thoroughly before operating.

Source: Sun Joe

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