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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Spring Cleaning Shortcuts

February 18, 2013 2:38 am

(Family Features) Spring brings a sense of fresh beginnings, and for many, that includes the annual ritual of spring cleaning. A survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute found that 62 percent of people engage in spring cleaning each year, and their top three priorities are the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

This year, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a long, dreaded process. Follow these quick tips to not only get your house clean in no time, but keep it clean in the long run.

Dealing with Dust
Dust buildup not only looks bad, but it can also be bad for allergies.
—Skip the feather duster - it just spreads dust around. For fast dusting, use multi-surface cleaning wipes to pick up dust from furniture and electronics. When you dust, work from the top down.
—Cut back on dust by making sure your vacuum cleaner bags and filters are clean and in good working order. This will keep dust and debris from being blown out into the air as you vacuum.
—Change your furnace filter regularly and dust or vacuum vents to keep buildup to a minimum.

Kitchen
—Use steam to clean the inside of the microwave. Bring two cups of water to a boil in the microwave, keep the door closed and let the water sit for a few minutes. The steam loosens dried-on food particles, making it easier to wipe them away. For a fresh scent, drop a slice or two of lemon in the water before boiling. Keep it clean by using food covers to prevent food splatters.
—Keeping the sink, counters and appliances clean and sanitized is fast and easy with a multi-purpose cleaner. A quick pump onto a paper towel, rag or sponge and you can wipe away messes and kill 99.9 percent of common household bacteria in no time. Use a cleaner that works on a variety of hard, non-porous surfaces.
—Don’t forget to clean the outside of the refrigerator and freezer. Clear off the clutter of notes, coupons and photos, and then clean the doors, handles and seals.

Bathroom
—To keep the counter clean of little messes and smudges, use an antibacterial product. Dab the cleaner onto a rag or tissue and wipe down the counter, faucet and any other hard, non-porous surfaces to clean and sanitize quickly.
—To get rid of soap scum, clean the tub and shower with a foaming cleanser that does most of the work for you, and simply rinse it off. Wash shower curtains and liners according to label instructions.
—To help prevent soap scum buildup in the future, try switching to a liquid shower gel. Bar soaps have binders that are a primary cause of soapy residue. You can also use a towel to quickly wipe down the tub and faucets after each shower.

Floors
—If you have the time and money to rent and use a carpet cleaner, now’s the time to do it. If not, target stains with a carpet cleaner and give all your carpets a good vacuuming. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and rugs to absorb odors.
—Steam mops are a great way to quickly clean multiple flooring surfaces without a mop and bucket. You can do a whole room in just a few minutes.
—A lot of the dirt and dust in a home is brought inside on the soles of your shoes. To keep carpets and flooring clean, place doormats inside and outside each entrance and always take your shoes off when entering.

Source: Windex

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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80 percent of Americans Support New Postal Service Delivery Schedule

February 18, 2013 2:38 am

The U.S. Postal Service released the results of a new survey today showing 80 percent of Americans support the new six-day package, five-day mail delivery schedule announced last week that the Postal Service intends to implement the week of Aug. 5, 2013. The survey, commissioned for the Postal Service, was completed by Ipsos, a leading independent market research company.

"These survey results illustrate the strong public support for our new delivery schedule in communities across the country," said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. "The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports this new delivery schedule as a prudent, responsible and reasonable approach to address our urgent financial situation."

The survey, conducted between February 8-11, shows consistently high support for the new six-day package, five-day mail delivery schedule among urban, suburban, and rural communities as well as among all age groups and income levels.

Support rose to 85 percent among all respondents when asked if they would support the new delivery schedule if it helped stabilize the financial situation of the Postal Service.

Market research previously conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news outlets indicated that nearly seven out of ten Americans (70 percent) supported the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs in its effort to return the organization to financial stability. By maintaining six-day package delivery, support for the new delivery schedule increased to 80 percent, according to the recent survey results. While recent surveys conducted by major news outlets again show seven out of ten Americans support moving to a five-day mail delivery schedule, the USPS poll results are slightly higher because it emphasized the continued six-day delivery of packages and that the new delivery schedule would help improve the financial footing of the Postal Service.

Source: USPS

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List of Improving Housing Markets Expands to 259

February 15, 2013 2:36 am

The number of improving housing markets expanded for a sixth consecutive month to a total of 259 metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). This total is up from 242 markets listed as improving in January.

Notably, the IMI list now contains markets from all 50 states, suggesting that the housing recovery has substantial momentum.

The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. A total of 20 new metros were added to the list and three were dropped from it this month. Newly added metros include such geographically diverse locations as Rome, Ga.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Racine, Wis.

Just over 70 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving in February. That marks a significant improvement from when the index was initiated with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metropolitan area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures’ respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 259 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in February, is available at www.nahb.org/imi.

Read this original post on NAHB's Eye on Housing blog.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homeownership Remains an Essential Part of the American Dream

February 15, 2013 2:36 am

In a recent survey of 1,060 homeowners conducted online by Research Data Technology, Inc. from November 16 to November 27, 2012, 79 percent believe that homeownership remains an essential part of the American dream. Additionally, 76 percent remain confident that if they wished to purchase a new home in the future that they would be able to sell their current home, obtain a mortgage and afford a down payment despite the recent recession and housing market crash.

Of those surveyed, slightly more than half believe the housing market will take 12 months or less to recover and only 19 percent are postponing a home purchase or sale because of a weak housing market.

"Low rates, affordable home prices and a recovering housing market have created a unique window of opportunity for potential homebuyers. The good news is that the housing market is steadily improving and upcoming lending regulations will hopefully provide the clarity needed for lenders to have renewed confidence," said Doug Lebda, chairman and CEO of LendingTree. "Consumers still value owning a home and despite a few difficult years, they remain optimistic that homeownership is a possibility. Now is a great time to invest in a home and make the American Dream reality, if purchasing a home aligns with your financial situation, goals and priorities."

Consumer confidence is even stronger when it comes to home-loan refinancing with 89 percent of those surveyed being confident that they will be able to refinance their mortgage with only 11 percent being uncertain. One in three surveyed had already refinanced their current mortgage, 28 percent still plan to do so and a remaining third are unsure of their plans to take advantage of the historically low interest rates.

Source: LendingTree

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Small Changes You Can Make to be More Heart Healthy

February 15, 2013 2:36 am

Do more. Eat right. Know your numbers. It can't be that simple, right? Northwestern Medicine® cardiologist Clyde Yancy, MD says it is that simple, and has some other little known facts that can help all of us improve our heart health.

While many of us may be focused on maintaining New Year's resolutions after overindulging during the numerous festivities of the holiday season, Dr. Yancy says there are some treats to be enjoyed throughout the year, if done in moderation and part of an overall healthy diet.

"Chocolate can be healthy because it's rich with cocoa and flavonoids," explained Yancy. "The cocoa increases blood flow, which can help mood and maybe even make you smarter, and flavonoids reduce inflammation, promoting healthy arteries and help fight aging by preventing and repairing cellular damage."

Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer's disease and some cancers. Before rushing off to eat a pound of dark chocolate, Yancy reminds us that moderation is the key. While chocolate may have healthy components, the high levels of sugar and fat can be detrimental to heart health if consumed in high quantities.

Another surprisingly heart healthy item is wine, red or white, but Yancy says it is likely not because of the alcohol. "A substance in wine known as resveratrol, which is found in the skins and seeds of grapes, may possess a number of benefits that protect the heart," said Yancy. Since red wines often have extended contact time with the grape's skins, they will naturally have higher levels of resveratrol. But, white wines also have healthy elements. Again, moderation is the key issue – too much wine will limit any health benefits of moderate consumption.

"While treats like chocolate and wine are fine, they must be part of an overall healthy diet that includes foods rich in nutrients," claims Yancy. One item that no diet should lack is fiber, specifically soluble fiber, which is shown to lower both bad cholesterol and risk of diabetes. We often think of oatmeal when we talk about fiber, but Yancy says that fiber can be found in some other surprising places. An apple a day keeps the doctor away is true because of the high fiber content in apples, and there's even more fiber in raspberries. The tip here is to eat the most colorful fruit to get the most fiber.

Beyond eating nutritious foods, exercise is a necessary part of any heart healthy lifestyle. All exercise is good for your heart, especially cardiovascular or aerobic activity sessions lasting 30 minutes, at least three to four times per week. Yancy says women shouldn't be as worried about eliminating a little extra bottom fat, but should focus more on fat around the organs, like belly fat. "Yes, fat is bad, but some kinds of body fat are not quite as bad as others," explained Yancy. "To keep a check on dangerous belly fat, we can measure this using the waist-to-hip ratio. With a ratio above 0.8 for women and 1.0 for men, the risk of heart disease increases."

Yancy believes that rather than just adopting the same resolution to lose weight, think more about the overall commitment to health with a balanced diet and exercise. "When you lead a healthy lifestyle that is focused on improving your overall wellbeing, the weight loss will come naturally," said Yancy. "Not only will you feel and look better, but your heart will be stronger and healthier."

Source: Northwestern Memorial Hospital

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27 Percent of Borrowers That Refinance Shorten Mortgage Term During Fourth Quarter

February 14, 2013 2:36 am

In the fourth quarter of 2012, 27 percent of borrowers that refinanced an existing mortgage chose to shorten their loan term, based on the Freddie Mac Quarterly Product Transition Report released today. Further, refinancing borrowers clearly preferred fixed-rate loans, regardless of whether their original loan was an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a fixed-rate.

News Facts
Of borrowers who refinanced during the fourth quarter of 2012, 27 percent shortened their loan term, while 69 percent of borrowers kept the same term as the loan that they had paid off; 4 percent chose to lengthen their loan term.

More than 95 percent of refinancing borrowers chose a fixed-rate loan. Fixed-rate loans were preferred regardless what the original loan product had been. For example, 83 percent of borrowers who had a hybrid ARM chose a fixed-rate loan during the fourth quarter, the highest share since the second quarter of 2010, while the remaining 17 percent chose to refinance back into a hybrid ARM.

Those borrowers who refinanced under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) were more likely to take out a long-term, fixed-rate mortgage. For example, of HARP borrowers who were refinancing out of an ARM, more than 95 percent chose a fixed-rate mortgage; in contrast, of borrowers that had an ARM but did not refinance through HARP, more than one-third opted for another ARM.

Based on 2012 calendar year data for twelve large metropolitan areas, borrowers who lived in lower-priced metropolitan areas were generally more likely to shorten their term compared to borrowers living in very high-cost housing markets. For the U.S. as a whole, 29 percent of borrowers shortened their loan term when refinancing. Whereas, 43 percent of borrowers in the Dallas metropolitan area shortened their term, compared with 14 percent of those in the San Francisco metropolitan area.

"Fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.36 percent for 30-year loans and 2.67 percent for 15-year product during the fourth quarter in Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, the lowest quarterly averages recorded in our survey," says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "For borrowers motivated to refinance by low fixed-rates, they could obtain even lower rates by shortening their term. Further, a shorter-term, fully amortizing loan reduces the loan balance faster and builds home equity sooner."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Power Outage Protection Tips

February 14, 2013 2:36 am

The powerful winter storm that pounded the Northeast with gusting winds and heavy snow resulted in power failures for hundreds of thousands of people. But, it doesn't matter what part of the country you call home, everyone is susceptible to power outages, particularly when it comes to severe winter weather. Being prepared is the best defense for such energy emergencies.

Here is a list of important things you can do to ensure the safety and security of your family during this and every power outage.

Develop a weather emergency plan. The plan should include a list of important phone numbers in case you need to quickly evacuate your home (i.e. doctors, family members, etc.). The plan should also include an evacuation route, as well as an established meeting place in case you lose communication with loved ones.

Grab a backpack or purchase a large plastic bucket with a lid from a local hardware store or home center. Stuff the backpack or bucket with three days' worth of food and water. Other items should include a flashlight, battery powered/hand-cranked radio, first aid kit, money, medications and a CD or USB drive containing important documents. Store the kit in a place that is easily accessible in an emergency situation. For more tips on how to prepare for weather-related emergencies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or tornadoes, visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) at http://www.flash.org.

Turn off major appliances such as water heaters, stoves and air conditioning units. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the system when power is restored.

Leave one light on so you will be able to see when power is restored to your home.
Have a battery-operated or weather radio, multiple flashlights and a battery-operated clock and fan, along with extra batteries.

Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris. Treat all down wires and anything touching them as though they have electricity running through it!

Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward into the power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug appliances directly into the portable generator.

If you're running a portable generator, be sure to use properly rated extension cords (electrical load and length). Also, make sure the portable generator is properly vented to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not place a portable generator in your home or an enclosed space with limited ventilation like a garage or a screened porch.

Familiarize yourself with your main electrical panel. You may have to turn off the main breaker or have to reset circuit breakers after an outage.

Inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call your local utility provider.

Consider installing a commercial-grade, automatic generator for your home. An automatic generator (aka standby generator) is permanently installed outside the home similar to a central air conditioning unit. It runs on natural gas or propane and hooks up to existing gas lines. Standby generators turn on automatically when the power shuts off. A transfer switch constantly monitors utility power and transfers the electrical load to the generator if power is lost, protecting the home even if the home owner is away. A standby generator can power critical and sophisticated appliances and systems in your home, including lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems and more.

To determine if a standby generator is right for you, be sure to do your homework and look for a unit that offers some of the following:

A commercial-grade engine that provides clean, consistent power, handles heavy loads and powers up quickly.

Make sure to purchase a standby generator with a minimum five-year warranty.

Don't forget about appearance. A standby generator sits outside your home, so look for a unit with a bold, clean look that is corrosion resistant.

Some units have remote monitoring/operating capabilities. This is important for those who spend time away from home.

Source: Kohler Generators

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Is DIY Home Remodeling Dying?

February 14, 2013 2:36 am

The RemodelOrMove.com Spring 2013 U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report documents strong growth in higher-end home remodeling projects where a homeowner will hire a general contractor and do little or none of the work themselves. So is Do-It-Yourself home remodeling on the way out?

The latest findings show that the influences of the recession are continuing to diminish. The most notable results from the survey are as follows:

-58 percent of homeowners report that the economy is having minimal effect on their plans for remodeling, which is up from the low of just 33 percent in the middle of the recession.

-Average estimated cost for the planned remodels has reached $114,000 to remodel or add on an average of 3.6 rooms, which is up from $80,000 and 2.6 rooms at the depths of the recession.

-Homeowners planning to hire a general contractor for their project is up to 73 percent of respondents; 55 percent will hire an architect, and 80 percent report they will do little or none of the work themselves.

-Kitchen remodels and bathroom remodels tie for the most popular projects with 57 percent of homeowners reporting that these projects are part of their remodeling plans.

-The wealth effect is helping to fuel the recovery in home remodeling as homeowners taking this survey reporting an average home equity of $130,000 – the highest since 2009.

So what does the future hold? Do-it-yourself home improvement has been, and will likely continue to be, a feature of the U.S. home ownership picture. The recent decline in interest is likely a short-term result of the disproportionate economic recovery – homeowners who are better off financially are proceeding with their remodels by hiring others to do the work, while homeowners who are more budget-conscious and more inclined to do some of the work themselves are slower to start their remodeling projects. It is likely that as the economic recovery expands, more homeowners interested in DIY will begin planning remodels, and the sentiment report will show a ratio of DIY and Hire-it-done more in line with pre-recession numbers.

Source: RemodelOrMove.com

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Top Home-Selling Tips for Spring Selling Season

February 13, 2013 2:36 am

For those wanting to sell their home come spring, here are a few data-proven home-selling tips for 2013. These important actions can be used by home sellers to maximize their chance of selling, get the highest price, and decrease time on market.

1. Friday is the best day to list a home. Homes listed on a Friday sell faster (81 days on the market, on average) for a price closer to their asking price (99.1 percent of the original asking price, on average) than homes listed on any other day of the week.

2. April is the best month to list, but definitely before June. Homes listed in April sell for closer to their original asking price, with a 99.2 percent sale price-to-list price ratio, compared with a 97.3 percent ratio for homes listed in December. The period of March through June had the largest percentage of homes that sold within 90 days of their debut.

3. Price your home right the first time. In the first week that a listing goes on the market, it receives nearly four times more visits on real estate websites than it does a month later.

4. Use professional photos on your listing
. Listings with photos taken with a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera sold for prices considerably closer to their asking price than those with point-and-shoot photos. Sellers made $5,700 more for a home priced between $400,000 and $500,000 when they used DSLR photos.

Source: Redfin

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National Mortgage Loan Delinquency Rate Drops Nearly 14 Percent in 2012

February 13, 2013 2:36 am

The national mortgage delinquency rate (the rate of borrowers 60 or more days past due) declined for the fourth consecutive quarter, dropping from 5.41 percent in Q3 2012 to 5.19 percent in Q4 2012. On a year-over-year basis, the mortgage delinquency rate has declined nearly 14 percent from 6.01 percent in Q4 2011.

"The national mortgage delinquency rate experienced its largest yearly decline since the conclusion of the recession, though we still remain far above normal levels," said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. Housing in TransUnion's financial services business unit. "For the most part, newer vintage mortgage loans are not the reason for the stubbornly high delinquency rate. They are performing relatively well. The elevated delinquency levels that we are still experiencing are a result of older vintage loans - borrowers who haven't been making their payments for a rather long time that are still in the system, inflating the overall rate."

During the height of the mortgage crisis, mortgage delinquencies rose 54 percent in 2007, 53 percent in 2008 and 50 percent in 2009. The subsequent decline has been a slow process with delinquency levels dropping 7 percent in 2010, 6 percent in 2011 and now falling 14 percent in 2012.

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia experienced improvement in their mortgage delinquency rates from last quarter. Only three states did not experience mortgage delinquency improvement from last year.

TransUnion expects the mortgage delinquency rate to continue its downward trend in the first quarter of 2013, though it will likely remain above 5 percent.

Source: TransUnion

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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