RE/MAX 440
Dale Joy
dalejoy1@verizon.net
Dale Joy
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-584-1160
O: 610-584-1160
C: 215-460-5153
F: 267-354-6852 
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Clever Storage for Kids' Rooms

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

(Family Features) To many parents, the process of keeping kids’ rooms clean never seems to end. And while a kid’s room may never look quite like the perfect rooms in magazines, a few clever solutions can make it easier to get – and keep – toys, books and clothes more organized.

Think Vertical
If your child’s room is small or doesn’t have a lot of built in storage, vertical storage may be helpful.
• Add wall hooks or a peg rack at a height your child can reach and hang up sweaters, pajamas, jackets and book bags.
• Tiered organizers that hang from a closet rod can hold small stuffed animals, clothing items, or shoes.
• Wall hangers with pockets can be hung on the back of a door to hold shoes, small toys and craft supplies.

Boxes, Baskets and Bins, Oh My

Use containers to keep toys and other items sorted and make it easy to put away. Label the outside with words or pictures to help your child know exactly where to put things.
• Home Bento boxes have internal flex dividers, which let you divide up the space within the box however you need it. Use them for small clothing items, craft supplies, small toys and games. They stack on top of each other, making it easy to maximize shelf space.
• Baskets are lightweight and often have handles, so it’s easy for a child to take them off the shelf and put them back. Basket liners let you coordinate the look to match your child’s room.
• Plastic storage bins can hold larger toys and play sets, off-season clothing and shoes. You can find bins to fit on shelves and under the bed, as well.

Make it Fun
There’s no reason something as pragmatic as storage can’t be fun, too.
• Keep pens, pencils and markers together in a plastic paint can or flower pot the kids have decorated.
• Place Velcro strips on toys and on playroom walls. Kids will enjoy sticking their toys to the wall, and you’ll enjoy a cleaner play space.
• Get an unpainted wooden crate from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores, and paint, stain or decoupage it with whimsical colors and designs.

Source: Joann Fabric and Craft Stores

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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CoreLogic Home Price Index Rises by 10.2 Percent Year Over Year in February

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

CoreLogic® has released its February CoreLogic HPI® report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 10.2 percent on a year-over-year basis in February 2013 compared to February 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006 and the 12th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 0.5 percent in February 2013 compared to January 2013.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 10.1 percent in February 2013 compared to February 2012. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 1.5 percent in February 2013 compared to January 2013. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that March 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are also expected to rise by 10.2 percent on a year-over-year basis from March 2012 and rise by 1.2 percent on a month-over-month basis from February 2013. Excluding distressed sales, March 2013 home prices are poised to rise 11.4 percent year over year from March 2012 and by 2.0 percent month over month from February 2013. The CoreLogic Pending HPI is a proprietary and exclusive metric that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. It is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month.

“The rebound in prices is heavily driven by western states. Eight of the top ten highest appreciating large markets are in California, with Phoenix and Las Vegas rounding out the list,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

“Home prices continued their march upward in February. Nationally, home prices improved at the best rate since mid-2006, marking a full year of annual increases and underscoring the ongoing strengthening of market fundamentals,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Continued home price appreciation will provide fuel needed to drive further recovery in the home purchase market.”

Highlights as of February 2013:

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+19.3 percent), Arizona (+18.6 percent), California (+15.3 percent), Hawaii (+14.6 percent) and Idaho (+13.5 percent).
• Including distressed sales, this month only three states posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-4.4 percent), Alabama (-1.5 percent) and Illinois (-1.0 percent).
• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+18.3 percent), Arizona (+16.4 percent), Hawaii (+15.5 percent), California (+15.3 percent) and Idaho (+15.3 percent).
• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2013) was -26.3 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -19.3 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Buying a New TV? Know What to Look For Before You Shop

April 19, 2013 3:10 am

Whether buying a toy for your new home or simply replacing an older model, buying a new TV can be an exciting purchase. With new technology rapidly outdating the old, some consumers may not be aware of what's available or know what to look for when the time has come. Here are a few tips and items to consider when scouting out a new television for your home.

Widescreen and HD is Where It's At: With much of today's programming being presented in widescreen format, it's best to have a TV that can properly display it. Rarely are new shows broadcasted in the old 4:3 standard aspect ratio. For the best picture display, purchase a widescreen TV and make sure it has HD capabilities. Depending on your budget, you can choose between 720p or 1080p, which refers to the number of horizontal lines of pixels displayed on the screen at any given time. For TVs 30 inches or under, you may not see a difference between the two. For larger screens, it's best to pick 1080p if your budget allows for it. Once you go HD, you'll never go back!

Decide Between a Plasma or LCD:  Knowing the difference between these types of TVs is crucial before making your decision. LCD televisions (short for liquid-crystal display televisions) utilize a technology based on polarized light, where two polarized panels are located in front of and in back of a thin layer of liquid crystal gel that is divided up into individual pixels. Plasma televisions, on the other hand, use ionized gas to form plasma (a type of gas with ionized particles) which emits units of light called photons. Thousands of cells, coated with phosphors, give off colored light when struck with these photons. This, in turn, creates the picture you see on the screen.

There are pros and cons to both technologies. Plasmas tend to have darker darks and brighter whites. If you decide on plasma, conduct some further research on contrast ratios. However, if your TV room is an area that receives a lot of sunlight, you may want to choose an LCD, as those screens will not create any glare due to incoming light. Deciding which technology you want to pursue and purchase is an important decision that must be made before you can begin looking at brands, sizes, etc.

Investigate the Back Panel: Do you have lots of video sources you'll need to plug in? Make sure to check the back panel to see what kind of inputs the TV has and if you'll be able to fully utilize all of your external devices (receivers, video game systems, Bluray players, etc.). You don't want to get your new TV home and have to juggle inputs--it never hurts to have too many.

Look for an Energy Star-compliant TV: Energy Star is a guideline imposed by the EPA and the Department of Energy to regulate energy saving measures for consumer electronics. Make sure your new TV is Energy Star compliant. It's a "green" effort that is good for the planet and one that will also save you money in the long run.

These tips only scratch the surface in terms of what you should know before making such a large purchase. However, once you narrow down your wants and needs, you can dig deeper in the quest of finding the TV of your dreams.

Sources: CNET Asia, Squidoo.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top Ten States with Most Hail Losses

April 19, 2013 3:10 am

 Wind and hail storms remain some of the most frequent and severe causes of property damage. This year, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center conducted the first-ever indoor hailstorm, in an effort to research building products and ways to educate consumers.

Damage caused by wind and hail cost policyholders more than $3.9 billion in 2012. The states with the most wind/hail losses include:

  • Texas—47,000 claims
  • Illinois—41,000 claims
  • New York—34,000 claims
  • Ohio—31,000 claims
  • Missouri—25,000 claims
  • Tennessee—24,000 claims
  • Indiana—23,000 claims
  • New Jersey—23,000 claims
  • Kentucky—22,000 claims
  • Colorado—16,000 claims

While hail storms most frequently impact the Great Plains and Midwest, every state in the nation is susceptible.

Heading Off Hail Damage:

  • If weather conditions are prime for hail storms, pull cars, boats, RVs, lawn and patio furniture into a covered area.
  • When building or remodeling, consider impact resistant roofing to reduce hail damage to your home. State Farm currently offers insurance premium discounts to homes with qualifying impact-resistant roofing products in 26 states and one Canadian province.

If You Experience Hail Damage:

  • Work with your insurance agent or claims adjustor to fully understand the claims process and how covered repairs will be handled. State Farm customers who have reported a loss can expect to be contacted by a claim representative who will review your policy and explain your coverage, outline the claim process, and answer questions.
  • Choose a reputable roofing contractor. Look for a licensed or bonded roofer and request references. Not all jurisdictions require licensing of roofing contractors. Ask to see certificates of insurance to be sure both liability and workers compensation insurance coverage is carried, and are in force during the time the roofing work is being done.
  • You may also contact your local Better Business Bureau or the National Roofing Contractors Association for assistance in locating a professional contractor in a specific geographic area.
  • If anyone visits your home without an appointment and professes to represent your insurer, ask for identification and contact your insurer to confirm before allowing access.

Source: State Farm

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Spring Cleaning is a Good Time for Preventive Home Maintenance

April 19, 2013 3:10 am

 As homeowners are starting spring cleaning projects, they should also give a thought to insurance too. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department recommends taking the time for minor fixes now, to save homeowner insurance claims later.

"Making sure things are in good working order this spring can make a big difference in home safety, as well as insurance matters," said Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine.

One of the most commonly overlooked areas during spring cleaning is behind your washer and dryer. Lint can escape a poorly-connected dryer filter hose and build up against the wall, causing a fire hazard.  Household appliance fires are one of the most common reasons given for homeowner insurance claims. Other homeowner damage and claims can be prevented with these simple tips:      

Kitchen fires – The majority of fires begin in the kitchen due to food left unattended on the stove or the ignition of built-up grease. Thoroughly clean the oven and stove top.

Fireplace ashes – After cleaning out the fireplace, don't discard ashes in a combustible container and don't store them in, or around, the house or garage.  Store discarded ashes away from your home and be sure you have poured water into the container so that any remaining embers are extinguished.

Washing machine hose – Check the washing machine hoses for dry rot, cracking and tightening. Hoses should be replaced every few years. Water to the unit should be turned off when not in use.

Refrigerator ice maker line – Check lines annually since they can become pinched and start to leak, causing damage to flooring and cabinets. 

Sinks and toilet valves – As your home ages, regularly check all plumbing fixtures and connections. Look for corrosion and rust around valves. If your home is more than 20 years old, consider having a plumber check and replace all connections and hoses. 

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Insurance

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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First-Quarter Economic Growth Stronger Than Expected

April 18, 2013 3:10 am

Recent data indicate that economic growth in the first quarter has accelerated to an above-trend—but likely unsustainable—pace of 3.2 percent, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. A significant buildup in business inventories provided a one-time boost to first quarter growth and is expected to resume a more balanced level in the second quarter. Meanwhile, several other key indicators late in the first quarter, including a downbeat March jobs report, were soft, presaging a more moderate pace for the rest of the year. The Group expects growth to come in at approximately 2.3 percent for 2013—still modest by recovery standards, but a pickup from the 2012 and 2011 pace of 1.7 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.

“The April forecast reflects the growing realization that 2013 is off to a good start from a GDP perspective, but we expect the stronger-than-expected first quarter pace to slow somewhat in the second quarter,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “On the downside, tax hikes, sequestration, and the euro-zone crisis still pose significant risks to our forecast, and the fiscal tightening will likely affect consumer spending and other economic activity in coming months. However, the housing recovery continues to broaden and may be more robust than we anticipate, helping to offset fiscal headwinds.”

The continued housing recovery and rising home prices are expected to provide a cushion to growth this year and present the most likely source of upside to the forecast. Residential investment has made a positive or neutral contribution to economic growth for seven consecutive quarters, ending in 2012, with similar activity expected in 2013. Housing’s contribution to growth also continues to climb, as sales reached multi-year highs in the early stages of 2013.

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Tips for Throwing a Successful Housewarming Party

April 18, 2013 3:10 am

After you move into a new home and your family is settled, a housewarming party is the perfect way to introduce your home to your friends, extended family and new neighbors. In order to ensure a successful soiree, proper planning must be taken into effect. Here are a few tips to help you through the process:

Decide on a budget.
The very first step is to decide on a budget. Depending on the space, you may need to limit your guest list. If money is a bit of an issue, stick to close friends only and consider having a potluck. Once a budget has been determined, you can continue making decisions from there.

What kind of party will it be?
You can mold your party into any sort you'd like. Choose a theme or have a costume party, if you'd like, but be sure to tell your guests well in advance. In addition, plan some activities or games. If you are blending many different groups together, try a nice icebreaking game that will assist your guests in getting to know each other. If themes and games don't suit your taste, create a playlist to set the tone for your party. To really set the tone, music is a must.

Make your menu decisions early. Decide on the menu early so you can give yourself plenty of time to go shopping for food. Cook or prepare anything you can in advance to give yourself some breathing room on the day of the party. Have some vegetarian options available, and be sure to choose items that adhere to your budget.

Be a good host and introduce everyone early on. Be sure to introduce your guests to each other upon their arrival. If you are learning names for the first time yourself, introducing that person to someone else is a great way to make sure you remember it yourself. Walk your guests around the party when they arrive and be sure to offer and refill the guests' beverages.

As always, display gratitude for your guests' time.
Be sure to send thank you notes, when appropriate, to thank your guests for their time and any gift they may have given you. Share any photos or videos you may have captured at the party or give out small favors the night of. If one of your guests has an event of their own in the near future, try to make a point to attend. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

It's not hard to make your housewarming event a great success, but planning is crucial toward achieving this goal. Start your planning as early as possible and enjoy!

Source: Relocation.com Blog

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Tips for Working with Professional Landscapers

April 18, 2013 3:10 am

If you're trying to sell your home this spring, working with a professional can boost your home's curb appeal and attract possible buyers to the door. As any landscaper wil tell you, the condition of your lawn can have a big effect on the value of your home. If you plan on hiring some help, here are a few tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Talk to several landscapers before deciding to hire one. Scheduling consultations with multiple landscapers is important. Have them come survey your property and make recommendations on what needs to be done. Use them as consultants, helping you narrow down the work that needs to be done versus extra frills you would like to add to the process. For smaller tasks such as mowing, weeding, gardening or raking, you may want to consider hiring a local teenager or family member in order to save money.

Request estimates. Now that you know what it is you want to have done, request an estimate from at least three of the consultants you met with. Depending on the company, costs could range greatly and the differences could be thousands of dollars. According to the Consumers' Checkbook, a tree-removal job could cost anywhere from $1,935 to $6,300 and lawn care could range from $229 to $805. Finding out what each company will charge you for the job is crucial to staying on budget.

Don't be hasty when it comes to saying 'yes.' If your landscaper suggests an add-on of any sort, think it through before OK-ing it. Oftentimes, the landscaper you hire will recommend various fertilizers, treatment or sprayings, but make sure there is a good reason and necessity for it. The more your landscaper provides, the higher your bill will be.

Quite possibly the most important step: Don't pay until the job is finished. If possible, pay nothing until the job is fully completed. If the landscaper requires a payment, do so with a credit card. If the job isn't finished to your satisfaction, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. By not paying up front, you also have more leverage in terms of ensuring that the job is completed the way you want it. Keep this in mind while you're hiring professional help.

Hiring a professional landscaper can improve your curb appeal by leaps and bounds. However, keep these tips in mind to make sure you get the most for your money.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Consumers' Checkbook

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Deep Clean Forgotten Areas of Your Home

April 17, 2013 3:08 am

(Family Features) Common household items can suffer from the wear and tear of everyday use, but a few simple cleaning tricks will help keep them in good condition and extend their lifespan, saving you money and angst in the long run. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Dryer: Make sure to empty the dryer’s lint trap on a regular basis. Keeping this often forgotten area lint-free will increase the efficiency of a standard tumble dryer by allowing warm, moist air to flow freely out of the appliance as clothing dries.

Additionally, keep in mind that some brands of dryer sheets can leave an invisible film on the lint trap. To test yours, run water through it - if it holds water, it’s suffering from build-up. If this is the case, scrub it with a stiff brush and soapy water every six months.

Carpet: Vacuum at least once a week to remove the dust and debris that settles in carpet fibers on a regular basis. If you have shedding pets, or family members w ho suffer from allergies, you may need to vacuum more frequently. Deep clean your carpet at least twice per year to remove the dirt, stains and allergens vacuums can leave behind.

Shower Head: If the water pressure in your shower is less than ideal, chances are your shower head is suffering from mineral deposits that inevitably accumulate over time. To promote better water flow, remove the shower head from the wall, if possible, and soak in white vinegar for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly in the sink, reattach to wall and turn on the water to observe your shower head working at its best again.

If you can’t remove the shower head from the wall, bring the solution directly to the problem: slip a rubber band tightly over the shower head, fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and submerge the shower head until all holes are covered. Secure in place with the rubber band and soak 15 to 20 minutes before removing.

Refrigerator: Commonly overlooked, the refrigerator’s condenser coils – often located in the back on older units and beneath the doors on newer models – are instrumental in allowing the appliance to cool properly. Since dust, grime and pet hair can build up on the coils, it’s important to clean them twice a year to ensure your refrigerator is running as efficiently as possible. To do this, unplug the unit for safety, then locate the condenser coils. Vacuum them with the wand attachment of your vacuum, going back over any stubborn areas with a stiff brush if needed. If there’s still grime left, you can use a rag and warm, soapy water, but make sure to let the coils dry completely before plugging the unit in again.

Once they’re on your radar, these simple cleaning tips are easy to incorporate into your routine. With a little time and upkeep, you’ll find the items you use on a daily basis are in better shape than ever before.

Source: Bissell

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Consumer Spending Index on a Steady Course

April 17, 2013 3:08 am

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) ticked down slightly in March, but has remained relatively steady with a reading over 4.0 the past five months. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

"The drastic ups and downs among factors including wages, home prices and unemployment claims have subsided, delivering more stability to the Index, which remains at a level consistent with real personal consumption growth of around 2 percent at an annual rate," said Patricia Buckley, director, economic policy and analysis, Deloitte Services LP, and author of the monthly Index. "Rising real home prices and small but steady consumer spending increases are among factors suggesting the country may be poised for growth this year, should the economy avoid negative impacts from Europe's financial troubles or the debt ceiling debate this summer."

The Index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell slightly this month to 4.12 from a reading of 4.37 the previous month.

"Consumers have maintained their level of spending in recent months and retailers should be encouraged by the economic signals," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. "However, retailers do not have the wind entirely at their backs this month: Consumers with their tax refunds may be a welcome sight in April, but the month will come without the usual Easter holiday to boost sales. Retailers should simultaneously focus on consumers' pent up demand and tax refunds, coaxing shoppers to leave behind the winter's chill and replace the items that were on the back burner, while giving them a promotional incentive to combine those purchases in the retailer's store."

Highlights of the Index include:

Tax Burden: The tax burden moved down only slightly from the previous month, but was up 2.01 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims moved down to 355,750 in February, a 3.1 percentage point decrease from a year ago.

Real Wages: Hourly real wages modestly dipped to $8.74 from the previous month, but remain relatively flat from the previous year.

Real New Home Prices: Real new home prices moved up 0.6 percent to $106,027.

Source: Deloitte

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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