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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What to Do After a Car Accident

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Every year hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are involved in traffic accidents. Many of these accidents result in only minor injuries, but massive insurance claims. It is wonderful if you find yourself physically unscathed after an accident. However, you will at some point have to deal with your insurance company as well as the insurance agents of others involved in the accident.

Filing an insurance claim and handling insurance adjusters can be quite a task, and it is important to get legal advice. However, here are some things you may want to do on your own in order to better protect yourself.

Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This should include pen and paper, a camera (sometimes your cellphone camera can be damaged in an accident), a medical card listing emergency contacts and any known allergies, a flashlight and, if possible, a set of cones or emergency flares.

Contact your insurance company as soon after the accident or injury as possible. Don’t forget to keep safety first, and move vehicles off to the side and out of the way if possible. Unless you have some very serious injuries to take care of, your insurance agent is the first person to call in case of an accident or injury.

Do your best to get as many details of the accident as possible. This will include taking pictures of the damaged vehicles and any injuries. Make sure to take pictures from different distances as well as from different angles. Also, do try to take down the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident who may later be able to help your case in the event the other driver disputes your account of events.

Source: www.florida-accident-law.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Bring Your Personal Design Style to Life

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(Family Features) You’ve made the decision to remodel your home. The budget range and project scope have been set, but now you aren’t sure how to begin this new adventure. Following a few simple guidelines and tips can simplify the process of turning your vision into a ravishing remodel.

Set the Style Scene

Many homeowners know exactly where their preferences fall on the style spectrum, while others have no idea. As a first step, identify your personal style before moving forward with any steps of the remodel. There are even websites that offer a style quiz to help you determine where your style falls.

Even if you think you know what you want for a space, develop a mood board to help you visualize your design style. A mood board will ensure that others, such as professionals or family members, understand your vision. Gather items on your board such as colors, patterns and images that make you feel good. You (and a designer) can make sense and draw meaning from it later.

There are some great resources online for developing these boards. Pinterest, a tool that enables users to “pin” their favorite items, is extremely useful for finding ideas and forming a vision.

Turn Dreams into Design


Once you are in tune with your style, engage a designer. The remodeling process is overwhelming and designers are a great resource.
“One of the biggest advantages to working with a designer on a home project is that they really understand functionality, while accomplishing your desired style,” says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education at KraftMaid Cabinetry. “By telling a designer the details of your lifestyle and gripes about your current layout, they can turn out a well-designed space that will fit all of your needs.”

Working with professionals doesn’t have to break the bank and can actually save you time, money and provide peace of mind in the long run. Avoid costly mistakes and ensure that the professionals you hire are fully certified and qualified for the task.

Great kitchens and baths start with great design. At the end of the day, you’ll be thankful for the time spent during the dreaming and designing phases of your remodel. These steps will help bring your dream to life, just the way you imagined it.

Source: KraftMaid

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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New Study Finds U.S. Diesel Vehicles Have Lower Total Cost of Ownership than Gasoline Vehicles

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

A new study released found that diesel vehicles saved owners between $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs during a three- to five-year period when compared to similar gasoline vehicles, according to data compiled by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

"Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO (total cost of ownership) that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles," according to the study. "The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle."

Fuel efficiency has always been a major attraction of clean diesel vehicles. Because diesels are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than gas cars, drivers save money with diesels even when diesel fuel prices are slightly higher than gas prices.

The findings in this study will also be helpful to car buyers as they research their next vehicle purchase. This is an exciting time for diesel vehicles as the number of diesels is expected to more than double in the next two years. This will give drivers a broad selection of vehicles to fit their individual driving needs.

Highlights from the diesel-gasoline comparisons include:

• Total Cost of Ownership: In the three year timeframe comparison, diesel vehicles in the mass market passenger car segment are estimated to save owners significant money, with the VW Jetta owner saving $3,128, the VW Jetta Sportwagen owner saving $3,389, and the VW Golf owner saving an estimated $5,013. In the luxury segment, all the diesel versions of the Mercedes-Benz E Class ($4,175), Mercedes-Benz GL Class ($13,514), Mercedes-Benz M Class ($3,063), Mercedes-Benz R Class ($5,951) and VW Touareg ($7,819) save owners money in the three year timeframe.

• Fuel Efficiency: All of the diesel vehicles had better miles per gallon than the gasoline versions with the diesels having between 8 to 44 percent higher miles per gallon.

• Fuel Costs: All of the diesel vehicles had lower fuel costs than all the gas versions of comparable vehicles, with 11 of the 12 vehicles showing double digit reductions in fuel costs, ranging from 10 to 29 percent. Similar to the three-year comparisons, five-year estimated fuel costs for diesel vehicles are less than those of comparable gas versions. The percentage difference in terms of the reduction from gas to diesel costs decreased for some diesel-gas comparisons as diesel prices began to increase around the 2005 timeframe.

• Depreciation: Eleven of the 12 diesel vehicles held their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the three-year timeframe with eight vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 17 percent up to 46 percent.

• Nine of the 10 diesel vehicles hold their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the five-year timeframe, with five vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 10 percent up to 39 percent.

The report analyzed the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for clean diesel vehicles and comparing their TCO to their gas vehicle counterparts. The study developed three- and five-year cost estimates of depreciation by modeling used vehicle auction data and fuel costs by modeling government data. The study also combined these estimates with three- and five-year estimates for repairs, fees and taxes, insurance, and maintenance from an outside data source.

Source: Diesel Technology Forum

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The White House Beats Out A-List Celebrity Pads as the Home Most Americans Want To See

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Despite the insatiable fascination with the lives of Hollywood celebrities, if given the opportunity to view only one famous home, one in three Americans (31 percent) would choose to see The White House instead of the luxury home hideaways of known stars such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (14 percent), Jennifer Lopez (10 percent) and Jay-Z and Beyonce (6 percent) -- proving that First Families are always en vogue.

The inaugural "HGTV HomePulse Survey," the first in a series commissioned by Scripps Networks Interactive and Vision Critical to monitor consumer perspectives on home-related topics such as real estate, renovation, decoration and budgeting, also uncovers that Americans' true obsession is with improving or enhancing their own homes.

Home Improvement Spending Trumps Vacation
The survey of approximately 1,000 randomly selected respondents ages 18+ finds that more than 81 percent believe that "money spent on improving my home will show a good return," while 66 percent agree that "now is a good time to invest in my home." In fact, Americans love their homes so much that 61 percent indicate that they would "choose to spend on their homes rather than on something else like a vacation or the latest electronics."

"We expected the 'HGTV HomePulse Survey' to confirm that people love their homes and are willing to spend money to improve them, but we didn't expect that they would be willing to give up something as important as a vacation to do it," said Denise Conroy, senior vice president, marketing, HGTV. "The appetite that Americans have for where they live transcends other popular interests and indicates a much deeper relationship between consumers and their homes."

When it comes to the preferred home improvements, men and women tend to agree on the need to expand the overall square footage of their home. However, 31 percent of women vs. 17 percent of men would opt to update the decor while 19 percent of men vs. three percent of women would choose technological enhancements. Interestingly, while many people want to create a comfortable home on the inside, 1 in 3 respondents tagged "a beautiful outdoor space" as extremely important to them.

Sending Out an SOS
Americans are passionate about home improvement, but in need of advice and information when working with professionals. Only 1 out of 5, about 22 percent, is confident that they are knowledgeable enough to keep a contractor honest.

Pursuing the American Dream
The "HGTV HomePulse Survey" also reveals that 76 percent of all non-homeowners are optimistic that they will eventually own a home, undoubtedly underscoring an improving housing market. Also worth noting is that a whopping 64 percent of non-home owning Millennials believe they will be ready to own their own home in their 30s.

Source: HGTV

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Home Remodeling More Popular Than Ever as New Home Prices Rise

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

According to the Census Bureau, a 28.9 percent rise in new home sales since last year -- coupled with a lack of premium existing properties on the market -- is causing home renovation spending to hit a six-year high. Power Home Remodeling Group cautions homeowners to spend smartly on remodeling projects by investing in fundamental improvements such as roofing, siding and window replacement that will earn the biggest return on investment in this time of cautious optimism as the housing industry continues to slowly improve from the recession. According to Remodeling Magazine, homeowners who invest in an upgrade to vinyl siding will recoup around 72 percent of the renovation's costs in added value to the home.

"Homeowners are investing money in their homes again as the cost of renovations is less than the cost of buying a new property and selling their existing property. Though it may be tempting for homeowners to make personalized improvements, it is important to spend money wisely when renovating and focus on upgrading basic home functionality to get the biggest bang for their home improvement buck," says Corey Schiller, Power's chief executive officer.

Power offers the following tips for exterior home improvements that update a home's style and curb appeal while also making it more valuable:

• Vinyl Siding – Updating the exterior of your home with vinyl siding will help increase your home's curb appeal while boosting its energy efficiency. Replacing the exterior of your home with vinyl siding will cut down on the maintenance of your home's facade and the project can recoup up to 72 percent in added home value.

• Energy Efficient Windows & Doors – New, energy efficient windows are ideal for insulating a home from extreme temperatures that change with the seasons. If a window overhaul is unrealistic, replacing windows in key rooms of the home where the sun rises and sets can make a huge impact. Old or improperly sealed doors can also significantly affect a home's energy efficiency by allowing air to easily escape. Installing a new door can provide more effective insulation than older ones. Window and door replacement can recoup up to 74 percent in added home value.

• Roofing – Though roofing typically lasts between 20 to 30 years before needing a full replacement, weather can loosen or damage shingles, putting a home at risk for water damage and air leaks. Fixing small issues before they turn into a huge headache can help save you time and money in the future. However, if your roofing needs to be replaced, the project can recoup up to 62 percent in added home value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Housing-Cost Burdens Rise for Renters

June 25, 2013 12:20 am

The most recent edition of the Center for Housing Policy (CHP)’s annual Housing Landscape report finds that severe housing-cost burdens among working renter households have risen for the third consecutive year. Housing Landscape 2013 explores the latest American Community Survey data from 2011, showing that 26.4 percent of working renters spent more than half of household income on housing costs. While severe housing-cost burdens stayed relatively stable for working homeowners between 2008 and 2011, roughly one in five working homeowners experienced severe housing affordability challenges throughout this period – despite falling home prices and mortgage interest rates.

The Housing Landscape report defines a working household as one with an income less than 120 percent of the median for its area, and with members working at least 20 hours per week on average.

The share of working renter households with a severe housing-cost burden grew over the three-year period due primarily to falling incomes and rising rental housing costs. Nationally, working renters saw their housing costs rise by 6 percent from 2008 to 2011, while their household incomes fell more than 3 percent. Lead report author Janet Viveiros says renters are stretched so thin by growing housing costs that many face impossible choices.

“The growing rate of severe housing-cost burdens among renters is not a new trend, but it is clearly an unsustainable one,” says Viveiros. “While rental costs have steadily risen over the last few years, wages for these working families have not fully recovered from the hit they took between 2008 and 2009. Spending most of your paycheck on rent means cutting back on other necessities, including healthcare and even food.”

Co-author Maya Brennan noted that the causes of rising housing-cost burdens among working renters include a difficult economy and an increased demand for rental housing, partly due to the crisis on the homeownership side of the market.

“While the economy pushed both owners’ and renters’ incomes down, the shift away from homeownership is pushing rents up due to increased demand. What we’re seeing with the rental market is not explainable by population trends alone—it clearly reflects the movement of former homeowners into rentals as well as delays in home purchases by current renters,” Brennan explains. “But this increase in rental demand has not been matched by an increase in supply. This imbalance leads to rising rents in markets across the country.”

Working homeowners may have dodged the upswing in housing costs that hit renters, but they have not avoided the effects of falling incomes. In fact, while housing costs among homeowners fell some 3 percent over the study period, household incomes among these homeowners fell even more than they did for renters, down more than 4 percent over the three-year span. However, NHC President and CEO Chris Estes cautioned that a high and growing proportion of all working households—renters and homeowners combined—cannot afford their housing, and that little is being done to help.

"The challenge we face is that despite the range of successful tools to help offset this crisis, we are still in a long trend of flat—and even slashed—funding for these important programs,” says Estes.

Estes notes that a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission highlighted the success of federal housing programs like HOME, the housing voucher and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and encouraged expanded funding for these programs to help respond to the housing affordability crisis.

Key national findings from the Housing Landscape 2013 report include:

  • Nearly one in four working households spends more than half of its income on housing. The share of working households with a severe housing cost burden increased significantly between 2008 and 2011, rising from 21.8 percent to 23.6 percent.
  • Declining incomes have exacerbated housing affordability problems for working renters. The median housing costs of working renters rose nearly six percent between 2008 and 2011 while their median incomes fell more than three percent.
  • Severe housing-cost burden was most prevalent among working households earning less than 30 percent of area median income (AMI). Eight in 10 working households earning less than 30 percent of AMI (but working an average of at least 20 hours per week) were severely burdened in 2011, a much higher share than for other income groups. Increases in housing-cost burdens occurred primarily among working households with incomes at or below 50 percent of AMI, but even some working households earning between 51 and 120 percent of AMI are faced with severe housing-cost burdens.

State and local findings include:

  • Between 2008 and 2011, the share of working households with a severe housing-cost burden increased significantly in 24 states and decreased significantly in only one state: South Dakota.
  • Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the following five had the highest share of working households with a severe housing-cost burden in 2011:
    • California 34%
    • Florida 32%
    • New Jersey 32%
    • Hawaii 30%
    •  New York 30%
  • Among the 50 largest metropolitan areas, the following five metropolitan areas had the highest share of working households with a severe housing cost-burden in 2011:
    • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL  41%
    • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 39%
    • New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 35%
    • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 35%
    • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 34%

A closer look at the data reveals that the share of working households with a severe housing-cost burden increased significantly over the three years studied in 18 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, yet decreased significantly only in the Washington, D.C. and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., area. Of the 18 metro areas with rising cost burdens, nine are located in the South. Overall, the level of severe housing-cost burden among working households displayed a high level of variation at the metropolitan level. Levels ranged from a high of 41 percent in the Miami area to a low of 14 percent in Pittsburgh.

Notes: For purposes of this report, “working households” are defined as those with a household income of no more than 120 percent of the area median income in which the household members worked an average of at least 20 hours per week for the preceding 12 months. “Severe housing cost-burden” is defined as monthly housing costs (including utilities) exceeding 50 percent of household income.


Source: Center for Housing Policy

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Keep Your Backyard Pool Safe

June 25, 2013 12:20 am

As temperatures rise this summer, a day at the pool becomes one of the top things to do. However, more than 237,500 swimming-related and 25,522 diving injuries were treated in 2012 in emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) offer the following safety tips to avoid swimming and diving injuries:

Diving tips:

  • Don't ever dive into shallow water. Before diving, inspect the depth of the water to make sure it is deep enough for diving.  If diving from a high point, make sure the bottom of the body of water is double the distance from which you're diving.  For example, if you plan to dive from eight feet above the water, make sure the bottom of the body of water, or any rocks, boulders or other impediments are at least 16 feet under water. 
  • Never dive into above-ground pools
  • Only one person at a time should stand on a diving board.  Dive only off the end of the board and do not run on the board.  Do not try to dive far out or bounce more than once.  Swim away from the board immediately afterward to make room for the next diver.

Swimming tips:

  • Do not swim alone or allow others to swim alone. 
  • Make sure children are supervised at all times. Backyard pools should have a 5-foot minimum high fence that completely surrounds it.  
  • Don't attempt to swim if tired, cold or overheated. 
  • An inexperienced swimmer should wear a life jacket in the water. 
  • Carefully monitor weather conditions before and while swimming.  Avoid being in the water during storms, fog or high winds. 
  • Develop a plan for reaching medical personnel who can treat swimming-related injuries.  Anyone watching swimmers near the water should learn CPR and be able to rescue them. 
  • Never swim or dive under the influence.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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American Households Driving Economic Growth

June 25, 2013 12:20 am

Buoyed by rising home prices, American households will drive U.S. economic growth forward according to a report released recently by TD Economics, an affiliate of TD Bank.

"The outlook for the economy is characterized by the increasing resiliency and confidence of the private sector up against ongoing fiscal restraint," says TD Chief Economist Craig Alexander.

"In the first quarter, the headwind on the economy was tax hikes. In the second and third quarters, it will be spending cuts from sequestration. As these drags lift, a sturdier foundation for economic growth will be revealed."

TD Economics forecasts the economy will grow 1.9% in 2013. Economic activity should accelerate thereafter, with 2014 chalking up growth of 2.8%.

American households gaining confidence despite fiscal drag

The resiliency of the American consumer was on full display in the first quarter of this year. Despite a hefty increase in taxes that cut nearly 4 percentage points from income growth, consumer spending rose by an impressive 3.4 percent.

"The strength in consumer spending is evidence that the negative impact of deleveraging is waning and improved balance sheets are providing an offset to fiscal drag," says Alexander.

Fiscal cutbacks will continue over the next several quarters. Automatic spending cuts went into effect in March and will lead to the furlough (unpaid days off) of millions of federal employees over the next several months. This is likely to weigh on economic growth. However, the underlying recovery in the private sector will continue.

Housing rebound continuing but lots of room to grow

The improvement in household net worth has much to do with the turnaround in the housing market. Home prices have turned positive across the vast majority of the country.

"The housing market has done much of the hard work of clearing the overhang of unsold homes. It is now beginning to pay off in terms of rebounding prices," notes Alexander.

In many parts of the country, the challenge now facing the housing market is too little supply. "The next phase of the recovery will be a stronger rebound in construction," says Alexander.

Housing starts are still well below the level required to keep pace with household growth and depreciation. From their current pace of just under a million units, housing starts are likely to rise to 1.3 million units by the end of next year. The rebounding housing market will go a long way to supporting economic growth and offsetting the drag from fiscal policy.

The Federal Reserve will begin to slow asset purchases later this year

With increased confidence in the pace of economic growth, attention in financial markets has turned to when the Federal Reserve will begin to slow their support for the recovery.

The Federal Reserve has committed to continue its asset purchase program until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially. "This sets a pretty high bar. While we are getting closer, with the ongoing drag from fiscal policy, we're not quite there yet," notes Alexander.

"We anticipate that by September, the worst of sequestration will have passed and the Fed will have sufficient positive economic news to begin tapering their asset purchases, with the goal to end purchases outright in the first quarter of 2014."

TD Economics provides analysis of global economic performance and forecasting, and is an affiliate of TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank.

Source: TD Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Five Tips to Take before Hitting the Road

June 24, 2013 12:18 am

(Family Features)—Millions of Americans are expected to take a summer vacation this year. If you're one of those hitting the road to reach your final destination, here are a few reminders to help ensure you're road-trip-ready.

1. Check under the hood. 
Even if you properly care for your vehicle year round by keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance, it is wise to check your vehicle's oil, coolant and wiper fluid levels before heading out on the road. Hot summer temperatures can cause your engine to overheat, so keep an eye on all of the warning lights on your dashboard -- from the engine light to the gas gauge.

2. Inspect your vehicle. To help avoid any unfortunate surprises, do a thorough check of your vehicle, paying special attention to the only part that actually touches the road -- your tires. Be sure to properly check all four tires with a tire pressure gauge. The optimum tire pressure required for your car can be found on a sticker in the door jamb, on the inside of the glove compartment door or in the owner's manual.
"The proper inflation is essential for the performance and longevity of a tire," says Ron Margadonna of Michelin. "In fact, keeping your tire pressure at the recommended level can boost fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon."

3. Check the weather.
Unexpected storms are common during the summer months and the first few minutes of a rain shower can be a dangerous time for drivers. Oil and grease trapped on roadways rises to the surface and can create slippery driving conditions that can impact the traction and grip of your car. In fact, stopping on a wet road can take up to four times the normal distance as a dry road. It's best to slow down and increase the space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

4. Prep friends, family and your home. Remember to tell neighbors, friends and family that you'll be out of town. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye on the house and have someone pick up your mail and newspaper. It's also a good idea to set up timers on lamps and lights in various rooms throughout your home so it looks occupied.

5. Review the route. No matter how well you plan your journey, you can never predict what obstacles you might encounter along the way. Road construction, traffic detours or bad weather can be troublesome if you don't have a backup plan. It's best to review your route and understand the alternate roads that can help you arrive at your destination safely, stress free and ready to enjoy your vacation.

Source: www.MichelinMan.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Existing-Home Sales Rise in May with Strong Price Increases

June 24, 2013 12:18 am

Existing-home sales improved in May and remain solidly above a year ago, while the median price continued to rise by double-digit rates from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 4.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million in May from 4.97 million in April, and is 12.9 percent above the 4.59 million-unit pace in May 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the recovery is strengthening and to expect limited housing supplies for the balance of the year in much of the country. “The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive. However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50 percent,” he said. “The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth.”

Existing-home sales are at the highest level since November 2009 when the market jumped to 5.44 million as buyers took advantage of tax stimulus. Sales have stayed above year-ago levels for 23 months, while the national median price shows 15 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Total housing inventory at the end of May rose 3.3 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.2 months in April. Listed inventory is 10.1 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.5-month supply.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $208,000 in May, up 15.4 percent from May 2012. This marks six straight months of double-digit increases and is the strongest price gain since October 2005, which jumped a record 16.6 percent from a year earlier. The last time there were 15 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from March 2005 to May 2006.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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