Karen Kemmerer
 
Karen Kemmerer

Perkasie PA Real Estate News

Appliances: What to Buy and Where to Shop

September 23, 2015 2:07 am

Homeowners have spoken.

A recent J.D. Power study named the top appliance brands and retailers most popular with homeowners, chiefly based on attributes available on their respective websites. With a majority of consumers seeking information online before purchasing, website content, navigation, speed and design all played a vital role in the ranking.

According to the study, the top 10 appliance brands based on website satisfaction are:

1. GE Appliances
2. KitchenAid
3. Amana
4. Kenmore
5. Bosch
6. Maytag
7. Electrolux
8. LG
9. Samsung
10. Frigidaire

The top five appliance retailers based on website satisfaction are:

1. Lowe’s
2. Best Buy
3. The Home Depot
4. Sears
5. h.h. gregg

Per the study, homeowners place high value on product reviews and pricing when it comes to making an appliance purchase. More than half of appliance shoppers who experience a “less complicated” visit on a brand website “definitely will” consider purchasing other products by the brand.

Source: J.D. Power

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The Green Home, Defined by Buyers

September 23, 2015 2:07 am

Depending who you ask, a green home can be associated with anything from “high efficiency” to “lower utility bills.” But what is a green home, really?

To find out, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently surveyed a sample of homebuyers, gathering perceptions and preferences that can help homebuyers in the market for a green home decide which items to prioritize on their wish lists. According to the survey, the top influencers in the green home purchase decision are:

- Safe community (90 percent)

- Energy-efficient (88 percent)

- Low maintenance (85 percent)

- Lower operating costs (85 percent)

- Durability/resilience (84 percent)

The survey also found most homebuyers (32 percent) seek out terms like “efficient,” “energy-efficient” and “water-efficient” when shopping for a green home. Fifteen percent of green homebuyers look for terms like “eco-friendly,” “environmentally-friendly,” “environmentally-responsible,” “environmentally safe” or “environmentally-conscious.” Just 8 percent of green homebuyers seek homes outfitted with “solar,” “solar power,” “solar energy” or “solar panels.”

Source: NAHB

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Bank Chip Cards Made Simple

September 22, 2015 2:07 am

In an ongoing effort to reduce fraud, banks across the country are issuing new credit and debit cards with an embedded computer chip – a small, metallic square on the front of the payment card, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA). The advanced security of the chip card will make it extremely difficult for fraudsters to counterfeit or copy the card.

“Banks are continually looking for ways to leverage technologies to protect their customers whether it’s at a store, at the ATM or online,” says ABA President and CEO Frank Keating. “This chip technology is another layer of security for the millions of in-person transactions made every day.”

The computer chip assigns a one-time code, making every transaction unique and the card more difficult to counterfeit or copy. The new cards will still have a magnetic stripe for cases where the merchant does not have an activated chip reader.

Using chip cards is simple:

1. Insert your card into the chip-enabled terminal with the chip first, facing up.

2. Leave the card in the terminal until the transaction is complete. You may be prompted to sign your name. Be sure to take your card at the end of the transaction.

3. If there isn’t a chip-enabled terminal, use the card the traditional way and swipe.

Source: ABA

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First Look: The Most Popular Closet Design Trends

September 22, 2015 2:07 am

An organized closet starts with a well-planned design. And currently, closet trends point to see-through storage solutions, his and her finishes and spotlight lighting concepts, according to a recent Zillow Digs® Home Design Trend Forecast.

"Say goodbye to dark, mundane closets as today's homeowners want functional yet stylish organization solutions they can show off rather than hide behind closed doors," says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs home design expert. "Homeowners will start to view closets as an extension of other rooms in the house, paying close attention to decor and layout like they would with a bedroom or living room."

Expect to see transparent storage materials, such as frosted doors and see-through drawers, gain popularity among homeowners and in big-box stores. These light and bright materials are just as functional as they are stylish, and are ideal for displaying favorite items.

"Closets, especially bedroom closets, are becoming more like clothing exhibitions to display purchases more as collections, making transparent materials key," says Nina Magon, Zillow Digs designer and principal of Contour Interior Design.

And closet storage will no longer be one-size-fits-all. Instead, split closets with contrasting finishes and color palettes will become all the rage, especially in bedrooms. Expect to see a rise in creamy tones and metallic accents contrasted with dark wood or leather finishes.

Directed lighting or spotlights will also become a go-to closet feature. Spotlights help create the boutique-like ambiance that so many homeowners are gravitating towards.

Source: Zillow Digs

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5 Home Upgrades to Make This Fall

September 22, 2015 2:07 am

(Family Features) Fall is the perfect time of year to tackle home improvement projects, especially those that enhance existing features or add new functions to your home. This season, consider making cost-conscious upgrades, such as:

1. Revitalizing worn woodwork – Nothing ages a home's appearance faster than tired, weathered woodwork on the front porch or back deck. Apply a fresh coat of stain or paint to your outdoor woodwork to breathe new life back into your home’s exterior.

2. Updating kitchen cabinetry – Rather than spend a fortune on new cabinetry, give your existing cabinets a facelift. After a thorough wipe-down, apply a coat of paint and install new hardware – simply changing out dated pulls for more contemporary versions can completely update the look of your kitchen.

3. Adding power supply – Adding function can be as valuable as aesthetic appeal. To prepare for fall’s unpredictable climate, consider installing a standby generator for the appliances in your home, such as refrigerators and washing machines and dryers.

4. Replacing lighting – Changing up the lighting can completely transform a space. Use window treatments to control natural light, and floor and table lamps for subtle task lighting.

5. Installing a new floor – Replace heavily worn carpet in high traffic areas with a more durable option, such as wood or tile. Or, consider removing and replacing grout on tile floors, then sealing the floor to protect the finish.

Source: Briggs & Stratton

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Fantasy Football No Longer a Boys Club

September 21, 2015 2:04 am

When it comes to Fantasy Football, don’t count women out. According to a recent poll by Leger, The Research Intelligence Group, approximately one-quarter of this year’s Fantasy Football players will be women.

"We're seeing a small, steady trend showing the rate that women are playing Fantasy Football is growing faster than that among Fantasy Football players in general," says Leger Senior Account Manager Lance Henik.

In what could be considered a surprise finding, most of the women who play Fantasy Football are older than their male counterparts. According to the poll, the average ages of Fantasy Football players among men and women are approximately 38 and 39 years of age, respectively. To that end, more than half (59 percent) of male players are between 18 and 39 years of age, while the majority of female players (72 percent) are in the 30- to 49-year range.

Men, however, continue to be more entrenched in Fantasy Football play than women. The poll indicated that men are still more likely to participate in multiple leagues or teams when compared to women. Approximately two-thirds of men (66 percent) who are going to play Fantasy Football plan on joining two or more leagues; among women, this drops down to half.

Source: Leger, The Research Intelligence Group

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5 Ways to Winterize Your Landscape

September 21, 2015 2:04 am

Autumn is an important time of year for home maintenance, especially outdoors. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recommends homeowners prepare their yards for colder months before the fall chill sets in.

“It’s a common misconception that just because most plants and gardens aren’t actively blooming in the fall, they don’t require maintenance during the colder months,” says NALP Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen. “Many homeowners work hard all spring and summer to care for their yards and gardens, only to let them languish once colder weather arrives.”

According to Henriksen, there are five simple steps homeowners can take to care for their landscape through fall and winter.

1. Start Planting

Fall is the time to plant flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, as well as perennials, trees and shrubs. The warm soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.

2. Rake Leaves
Rake and remove leaves to avoid damage to grass. Doing so can also protect water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass, plants and other organic debris to release soluble forms of phosphate and nitrates. If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring snow melt and early spring rains, they can end up in surface water.

3. Apply Mulch
Applying two to three inches of mulch in the fall is beneficial in protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures in the winter months, and also helps to preserve moisture if the region does not receive enough precipitation.

4. Wrap Plants
Many plant varieties like roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles can be damaged by sub-freezing temperatures. To provide plants with extra protection from the wind and cold, wrap them in burlap or a frost protection fabric and plant them along a building or fence that offers wind protection.

5. Fertilize
Look for a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn's needs and follow application instructions on the product. The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, on weight basis. If you aren’t sure what your lawn needs, consult with a lawn care or landscape professional. A soil test can determine what ratio is best for your lawn. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, as some locations regulate the time of year that fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff.

Source: NALP

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4 Reasons to Improve Your Home This Fall

September 21, 2015 2:04 am

(BPT) – For nearly 74 million homeowners, a new fall tradition has emerged: home improvement.

According to a recent Metrostudy Residential Remodeling Index, several factors point to a rise in home improvement projects this season.

Energy-Efficiency – With colder weather on the horizon, homeowners shudder at the thought of higher heating costs. They upgrade windows, layer in more insulation, service or replace old furnaces and, in some cases, do all of the above.

Weather – Home improvement projects can be challenging, particularly for DIY-ers. Lower temperatures and humidity create a much more comfortable environment for completing projects.

The Holiday “Wow”
– Everyone wants their home to sparkle when they welcome family and friends during the holidays. Completing a home improvement project during the fall sets up a big reveal when the holidays roll around.

Falling Prices – Fall is an excellent time to save money by finding great deals on home improvement supplies and service. Year-end sales begin and discounts can be steep. Also, contractors are busiest during the warmer months - their business cools as the weather does.

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A Crash Course in Personal Finance for College Students

September 18, 2015 2:01 am

Call it Finance 101.

According to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), college students give themselves good grades for financial literacy – but many lack knowledge of the basics. Specifically, 57 percent of students surveyed rated their personal financial management skills as “excellent” or “good,” but 48 percent reported having less than $100 in their bank accounts in the last year.

“For many students, college is their first time making independent financial decisions,” says Ernie Almonte, CPA, CGMA and chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “With this opportunity comes serious responsibility, and if they aren’t making informed, intelligent decisions, it can have a negative impact on the rest of their financial lives.”

Nearly 40 percent of students surveyed reported borrowing money from family or friends and just over 10 percent reported missing a bill payment in the last year. To boot, only one in four college students say they seek out personal financial management information and incorporate it into their spending and saving habits.

Members of the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission say that establishing and following a budget is one of the most important things a person can do to take control of their financial situation and build for the future. Other steps to take include:

Reviewing your plan – Look at your budget on a monthly basis and see if there are differences between your budget and your actual spending. If there’s a gap, determine if your budget or spending needs to be modified.

Building a credit score – It's a good idea to start to establish a positive credit history by having a credit card in college. But it’s critical that you don't use it unless you can pay it off, or if it’s an absolute emergency.

Setting a goal for earnings – Figure out how much money you’ll need to get through the semester for expenses like cellphone service, transportation costs (i.e. car payment, insurance, bus fare, etc.), and rent and utilities if you're living off campus. Use that as a goal for how much money you’ll need to save working over the summer in order to start the semester from a position of financial strength.

Source: AICPA

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Are Your Energy Dollars Going Out the Window?

September 18, 2015 2:01 am

Concerned about high utility bills? Recent studies demonstrate that up to 40 percent of household energy costs are spent on heating and cooling the home. Unfortunately, a lot of this money is going out the window – literally.

According to San Diego Window Fashions, window coverings can help. Aside from blocking natural light and finishing a room aesthetically, window coverings act as insulation for your home, trapping air between the glass and the covering to regulate the interior temperature.

Aluminum blinds and vertical blinds offer the least insulation, since they have gaps that impair the coverage of the windows. Window shutters are better, but still have some gaps. Cellular shades are best, as the cells are designed to trap air, and, when custom-designed, sit flush in the window frame.

To ensure your home is insulated, combine cellular shades with window curtains. Curtains that are designed correctly with pelmets prevent air from escaping upwards into a room, and a total black-out lining prevents air from escaping.

Source: San Diego Window Fashions

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