RE/MAX 440
Karen Kemmerer
Karen Kemmerer
701 W. Market Street | Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7653 x1125 | Office Phone: 215-453-7653 | Fax: 267-354-6831
Cell: 267-446-7748 | email: kkemmerer@remax440.com

Perkasie PA Real Estate News

Five Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Is your relationship with your financial advisor productive? Are you confident about your financial decisions after leaving a meeting, or are you left scratching your head at the proposed investment strategy? Take the lead with your financial advisor by asking these five questions.

1. Are we on the same page?
Have you communicated your investment goals clearly to your financial advisor? With a clear goal in mind, outline long-term objectives, as well as your approach to investing. Setting these expectations will help you avoid searching for a new advisor or worse – potentially damaging your portfolio.

2. How will you achieve my financial goals?
Whether you’re seeking to gain returns or minimize your taxes, it’s important that your financial advisor informs you exactly how he or she is going to make those goals a reality. Be wary of false promises – no matter what your advisor tells you, the stock market is unpredictable. Another red flag: your advisor has not reviewed your tax returns.

3. Can you explain this better?
Financial advisors often use professional terms that may or may not resonate with the average investor. While it’s great that they know their stuff, don’t be afraid to ask that he or she explains everything in detail. If a financial plan seems too complex, even after an explanation, request that the plan be condensed so that you adopt a feasible strategy that meets your needs and understanding.

4. What other resources do you have?
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your advisor to direct you to other sources of financial information. Ideally, your advisor will have a list of websites, books or pamphlets to further educate you about your investment options.

5. How often will you contact me?
To keep the lines of communication open, establish a schedule with your advisor for quarterly phone calls, annual meetings, etc. Be sure to state which method of communication you prefer, and whether you want your spouse to be involved in the conversation.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Seasonal Home Decor: 5 Fall Trends

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

With fall in full swing, homeowners should take time to transition from summertime decor to autumnal accents throughout the home. Usher in the change of seasons by pairing these trends with rich, saturated colors.
  • Go natural. Natural and organic patterns are a big trend this fall -- add branch-patterned textiles and wall coverings for a dose of whimsy. A swirled or marbleized pattern is also popular and works well on accent pillows or bedding. For an unexpected twist, try an oversized natural organic print painted onto a dining room wall. For a crisp, monochromatic look, paint the design in two shades of the same color.
  • Glamour-ize. Try changing out the hardware on an accent chest or dresser, or hang a fun light fixture in an office, powder room or bedroom in a gold finish. It's okay to mix finishes in this case -- gold blends nicely with bronze and black finishes used elsewhere in the home.
  • Create coziness. Cooler weather encourages the transition from sleek and modern kitchens to a more cozy, relaxed feel for the space. Add décor and accessories created from reclaimed wood for a warm, rustic space this season.
  • Add sparkle. Large mirrors and mirrored surfaces add depth and interest to any space. Use a leaning floor mirror in a dining room, a large round mirror over a fireplace or entry console, or a large hanging mirror in a small space to reflect light and make a space appear larger. For a real wow factor, use a collection of vintage mirrors along a hallway or staircase to create a striking gallery display.
  • Mix it up. Avoid matching and coordinating sets, décor and fabrics. Bring in a mix of styles, old and new, and crisp and soft. This will make your home look lived in and add a designer touch.
Source: Ace Hardware

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Traveling in 2015? Here's What You Can Expect

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Planning ahead is always a wise travel move, and it's certainly not too early to start thinking about making plans for 2015. Before booking their next trip, travelers should consider the travel industry trends that will shape 2015 so they can make the most enjoyable and cost-effective travel decisions. Keep in mind these 10 upcoming travel trends.

1. Rates and occupancy levels will be higher, especially in major cities and upscale hotels, due to the recovering economy. Do your research to find deals on higher-end hotels, and of course book early.

2. Travelers going to Europe will increase as Americans start spending more again on travel, and inter-Europe travel also rises. Look at traveling to Europe during the off seasons of 2015 for the best deals.

3. The one trend that doesn't change is booking in advance. Promotions to encourage early bookings will grow. Hotels use these to sell rooms by offering deals that are valid for just a few hours, typically for stays anytime.

4. Specialty vacations will continue to increase and become much more mainstream. Consumers are looking to blend their interests and activities with their travels, and vacations that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/yoga/health will see big growth in 2015.

5. Similarly to other industries, companies will find ways to make travel and travel offers more personalized for individuals. Vendors in 2015 will try to match their offers to consumers' specific needs and wants, which creates a win-win where travelers are more likely to enjoy their trips, and vendors make more sales.

6. There will be more ways to book travel in 2015, including unpublished rate programs.

7. From purchasing rooms and airfare to mobile-based check-ins, the industry will shift to allow consumers to be more in charge. This means mobile functions as well as automation, such as replacing room service with 24/7 grab-and-go options and self-luggage check in.

8. Mobile dominates travel. Airlines and hotel operators will have to accommodate the desires of mobile travelers who expect to be able to complete bookings through apps, pull boarding passes, and perform nearly any other function. Easier access to charging will also need to be addressed.

9. Value will be a focus for leisure travelers. Consumers always want to feel like they are receiving good value for their money. This doesn't always mean rock bottom pricing, but includes other aspects such as location, amenities, convenience and more.

10. A trend that combines the need for mobile-friendly travel with "value" is for hotels to offer free (and fast) Wi-Fi. Travelers simply expect to be connected whenever they are at a hotel, and free Wi-Fi can be more important than any other amenity. It's one of the most requested hotel perks, and hotel review sites are filled with notes about Wi-Fi (or lack thereof).

Source: GetaRoom.com

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A Home Inspection Primer Pt. 1 - The Seller's Advantage

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Every month, I chat with real estate pros and related service providers about issues affecting many consumers and homeowners. One of the most frequent areas of discussion involves home inspections.

Nothing may have greater impact on both a seller or buyer than the home inspection. If it's done right, both parties can benefit - but if a home inspection is done poorly, it could haunt both the buyer and seller for a long time after the closing.

The site helpinghomesellers.com offers a wealth of good information regarding home inspections. In the next couple of segments, we'll relate some of these savvy tips on home inspections.

According to this consumer information site, a home inspection can be helpful to a seller because it shifts some of the liability over to the inspector. If a problem the inspector missed (that the seller was unaware of) arises at a later date, they may have a legitimate defense if the new buyer has a serious complaint.

Inspectors document existing problems, issues and anything that remotely looks like a potential problem. Then they present a written list of the areas inspected and of “concerns” to the buyers, who may be present to learn about maintenance recommendations.

So is it best to have everything repaired before the inspection? Not necessarily, according to helpinghomesellers.com.

If homeowners have a few minor problems that are not obvious, but an inspection would catch them, consider holding off on their repair.

Why not repair these? Repairing these "hidden" types of things in advance won't earn sellers many points.

If they are discovered (and they might not be), a seller can enhance the possibility of closing the sale by agreeing to have small items like a broken toilet or unstable downspout repaired.

Don't forget, even a house in "perfect" condition will likely produce something on a report to reassure potential buyers that their inspector is doing a professional job. Better they come up with something you were going to fix anyway, rather than to keep digging to come up with something to justify their fee.

Ultimately, helpinghomesellers.com says don't let a few hundred dollars in repair requests be a deal breaker. A seller shouldn't have to start all over again just because a buyer (or their home inspector) is getting the upper hand on this important contingency.

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How to Raise Money-Wise Kids

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Kids are never too young to learn the skills of saving, budgeting, and other basics for becoming a money-wise individual.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by T. Rowe Price found that 60 percent of kids whose parents frequently talk to them about budgeting feel they are smart about money, as opposed to just 34 percent of kids whose parents do not.

Financial experts agree that the sooner parents start imparting key money concepts, the more effective they will be in raising financially responsible adults. While it may seem like an involved topic, it's as simple as starting a conversation.

"There is a clear correlation between talking with kids about financial topics and their habits," said Judith Ward, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price. "Parents can invest in their kids by talking to them weekly about money matters."

The survey also found that parents are having more financial conversations with boys rather than girls.

"Boys and girls should have the same opportunities to learn about money matters at home so they can grow into financially savvy adults," Ward says. "By talking to kids of either gender about things like saving for college, parents can help kids get involved and excited about their future."

How can parents start the conversation? First, learn to engage in frequent money conversations with your kids. While you can sit down to discuss in a formal manner, casual dialog may be more effective and memorable. From trips to the grocery store to a visit to your neighborhood bank, there are plenty of real-world situations where you can teach your kids about spending, saving, and other money concepts.

Ward offers these tips to help parents initiate conversation:
  • When discussing weekend plans: When your kids plan for weekend fun with friends, ask them how much the activities will cost. Find out if they have budgeted for these expenses and if they are saving for any other upcoming events.
  • When talking about their future: Ask your child what they wish to be when they grow up. This is a great opportunity to talk about what kind of college degree may be required for the profession, how much getting the degree can cost, and the need to save for it in advance.
  • When talking about extracurricular activities: When talking about extra activities like soccer, dance, karate, piano lessons and others, talk with your kids about the cost of each. Help them understand that all of these add up to a lot of money, so they can help you save by only doing the ones they really enjoy.
Use these simple tips to help integrate money conversations into your daily lives -- your kids will thank you.

Source: T. Rowe Price

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Millennials Maintain Homeownership Goals

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

A recent survey of younger Americans illustrates that the goal of homeownership remains an important part of the American Dream.

The economic future of Millennials is key to the future of housing demand. A record number of individuals aged 18 to 34 years are delaying household formation as a consequence of the Great Recession. We referred to this situation as the ‘Great Delay,’ as slow wage growth and rising student loan burdens have reduced attainment of traditional goals associated with the American Dream, including marriage and homeownership.

An important research question is whether these delays represent deferrals due to economic conditions or true changes in preferences and goals.

A recent survey from the Demand Institute provides new evidence. The study surveyed 1,000 18 to 29 year olds about current conditions and market preferences. The findings indicate that homeownership remains an important long-term goal.

Among the findings for Millennials:
  • Over the next 5 years, 8.3 million new Millennial households will form.
  • Seventy-four percent plan to move over the next five years, with the top reason being need for better housing.
  • Sixty-four percent expect to be married in five years and 55 percent expect to have kids.
  • Seventy-five percent believe homeownership is an important long-term goal and 73 percent believe ownership is an excellent investment.
  • Twenty-four percent currently own a home and another sixty percent plan to purchase.
  • Thirty-six percent expect their next home to be a multifamily rental, while another 36 percent expect it to be a single-family owner-occupied residence.
  • Forty-eight percent prefer their next home to be in the suburbs, while 38 percent want urban locations.
  • Eighty-eight percent own a car.
  • Student loans do delay homeownership (but college raises lifetime incomes).
  • Forty-four percent think it will be difficult to qualify for a mortgage.
Source: NAHB

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Protect Your Mortgage Data from Hackers

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Because they’re part of the financial industry, mortgage lending sites have the benefit of regulation that extends to online cyber security. Though mortgage websites are more secure than others, homeowners must still take steps to ensure their mortgage documents remain inaccessible to hackers. Research a lender thoroughly before handing over any personal information, and confirm that their website is secure by considering these qualifications.
1. Is the site securely connected? The best indicator of a secure connection is the ‘https’ URL and lock symbol beside it. If a pop-up warning arises, don’t ignore it.

2. Does the site require a password? Make sure the password prompt requires a strong code with combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

3. Does the site offer an alternative message form? Seek out another form of communicating with your lender other than email.

4. Has the lender informed you of their security measures? If not, ask. You will be able to gauge whether or not security is a priority for them by their response.
Once you’ve evaluated a website for security clearance, continue to view credit reports throughout the year to find evidence of identity theft, especially if you have a new mortgage. Be aware that while some information will be public record (address, purchase price, etc.), sensitive data such as a Social Security number and tax returns should always remain between you and the lender.

Source: Bankrate

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10 Things to Consider When Adding on to Your Home

September 11, 2014 3:45 am

A home addition is a complicated task requiring a great deal of planning and, sometimes, a great deal of money. In order to save time, stress, and dollars, consider the following checklist before embarking on your home improvement plan.
  1. Develop a comprehensive plan and budget
  2. Figure out how to fund the project
  3. Determine the size and scope of the addition
  4. Select the location
  5. Analyze heating and cooling requirements
  6. Evaluate electrical and plumbing requirements
  7. Decide on design elements and amenities
  8. Select a proven remodeling company
  9. Establish the final budget and schedule
  10. Prepare for inconvenience during the construction phase
Source: Republic West Remodeling

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How Financial Cleaning Can Lead to a Richer Long-Term Outlook

September 11, 2014 3:45 am

One lesson the average American should have learned from the recent financial crisis and gradual recovery is that putting more money into savings is, in general, good, says veteran financial expert Jeff Gorton.

“When things are fine, most of us are prone to commit less of our money to savings; when the economy is down, however, we realize that having money is far more important than spending it on things we don’t need,” says Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, and head of Gorton Financial Group.

The personal savings rate in July 2005 hit an all-time low at just 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in May 2009, near the beginning of the recession, the average American’s savings rate hit a high of 8 percent.

“That rate dwindled as the economy recovered, which is unfortunate because you can do more with accumulated money, including benefit from investments yielding compound interest, which means that interest also earns interest in an investment,” says Gorton, who suggests practical ways to trim spending in the short term in order to get your financial house in order and accumulate more money in the long term.

• Car buying says plenty about how a consumer views their money. For most Americans, the question is whether to buy new or used. The moment you drive a brand new car off the lot after the purchase, the car’s value drastically drops. Many of the benefits you may enjoy in buying a new car can be had with a certified pre-owned car: low miles, good-as-new functionality and, usually, that new-car smell. And, a given model will have a history, so you can avoid cars that have been recalled. Buying a certified pre-owned car will save you several thousands of dollars versus buying new.

Summer vacation is an important lifestyle enhancer for many couples, but consider replacing the $400-per-night hotel with a condo rented through a private owner, especially if your vacation will last for an extended period. A condo rental should cost you in the ballpark of $200 per night, which totals $2,800 savings for two weeks.

Your home is probably your most significant asset if you’re like most Americans. But with that grand house on the hill comes plenty of costs, many of which you may not need. As with a luxury car, rethinking the amount of luxury for a home can save you big on taxes, insurance and maintenance. The cost of maintaining a large home can be put toward lifestyle activities, such as travel and hobbies.

“Of course, these are all simply suggestions; money plays a major role in how we achieve happiness, and I’ve found through years of working with clients, a few tweaks here and there frequently yields greater satisfaction with their money,” Gorton says. “You don’t have to be on autopilot with your expenses.”

Source: www.gortonfinancialgroup.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Surviving Hurricane Season: Prep for Older Americans

September 11, 2014 3:45 am

Hurricane season is upon us, and just two years after Sandy, AARP is reminding older residents, their families and friends to get ready early this hurricane season. While Sandy claimed victims as young as toddlers, it was crueler to the city's elderly, with 27 New Yorkers aged 65 or older perishing in the storm.

For older individuals who often times have limited mobility, delayed reaction, and reliance on prescriptions for their health, prepping in advance for extreme weather can mean the difference between life and death.

That's why AARP is now offering key tips on how you can ensure the safety of elderly loved ones in the wake of disaster.

"Don't wait for the threat of a storm to start thinking about getting prepared. When power goes out, the elevator goes out, and many elderly are unable to make it down a flight of stairs in the dark to go grocery shopping for needed items, and when they run out of a prescription, it can become life threatening," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. "The simple act of checking in on the elderly can go a long way to helping them stay safe in times of a disaster such as Sandy, and in some instances may even save a life."

Before the first big storm of summer hits, AARP offers the following tips and resources for older residents:
  • Check on Rx supplies: If they are running low, most pharmacies will provide a three-day supply (bring verification of prescription, such as bottle or script from doctor, if available). To find out a pharmacy's status, check here: http://www.rxopen.org.
  • Groceries: Offer to assist with any grocery shopping. Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Meals: If the individual in need of meals is at least 60 years old, Meals on Wheels can be contacted here: http://www.mowaa.org/findameal.
  • Medical Emergency: Call 911. Medicare patients in New York can also now receive non-emergency care at a nursing home without a prior three-day hospital stay.
  • Personal Care Assistance: If an elderly loved one receives assistance from a home healthcare agency, find out how they respond to an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
  • Assist with Home Preparations: Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture and garbage cans, anchor objects that will be unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks, close windows and outside doors securely and move valuable items to the upper floors.
  • Update your Evacuation Kit: Your Evacuation kit should include an ID or Driver's License, birth certificate; clothes, food and water (for at least three days); cash and traveler's checks; maps of the evacuation route, alternate routes and a way to get to local shelters; and your car keys along with a full tank of gas.
  • Have a Supply Kit ready: Your Supply kit should include a flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, food, water and any medications you may need for at least three days.
  • Plan for Pets: If a hurricane requires you to leave your home and you cannot shelter pets at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area, pets are allowed at all city evacuation centers.
Source: AARP

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