Karen Kemmerer
 
Karen Kemmerer

Perkasie PA Real Estate News

Sustainability and Functionality Key Décor Trends in 2015

September 26, 2014 4:22 am

Décor trends in 2015 favor functionality, with designers turning to self-renewing materials that are both stylish and environmentally friendly. Looking towards the new year, celebrity designer Vern Yip lists these six trends to watch.

1. View the floor as an extension of the living space. Opt for materials that are both stylish and comfortable, such as cork flooring. Warm, soft on the feet and eco-friendly, cork's natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for "on-the-floor living.”

2. In open concept homes, mix and match old with new, high with low or light with dark. Using timeless and resilient materials, or those that can be used and reused, allows homeowners to be eclectic and bold.

3. Geometrical and angular designs are making a comeback. Think of zigzag, herringbone or chevron patterns to bring mid century flair back into your home.

4. Living outdoors is a great way of maximizing living space. Make it cozy with pillow, tiki lights or a bonfire pit. In cold temperatures, use heat lamps positioned around the border of the patio.

5. Look at the floor, which is a home's largest surface area, as a canvas. It offers ample opportunities to add visual interest and achieve a unique look. Think about combining textures and colors. Create a pattern of alternating colors and grains.

6. Break away from a sea of neutrals. Replace old pillow covers, throws or lampshades to reflect the hues and tones of the season. Or, create an accent wall with a printed wallpaper or painted design. Do keep your larger items white or neutral, so that you can easily mix and match seasonal colors with permanent pieces.

"The variety of stylish product choices available to today's environmentally-conscious consumers is remarkable," says Yip. He points to the many color choices of no-VOC paint, new agave plant and sisal fiber area rugs as great examples of the intersection between style, functionality and environmental responsibility.

Source: APCOR

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Four Hidden Clutter Caches in Your Home

September 26, 2014 4:22 am

Did you know that clutter can accumulate even in the neatest of homes? Families with minimal clutter can benefit from de-cluttering in unexpected spaces. In fact, storage solutions often amass the most unnecessary items, becoming a seemingly organized catch-all.

Consider removing clutter from these storage areas around the home.

Filing Cabinets
– While an effective filing system is necessary for saving important documents, take time periodically to remove papers that you are no longer required to keep.

Pantries – Once a month, clear your pantry of expired food products, specialty items you no longer have use for, or non-expired items you want to donate.

Bookshelves – Avid readers have difficulty letting go of books. Scan your bookcase for a few books each year that you might lend to friends or donate. Pack away or donate collections you are not actively adding to.

Computers
– Digital storage is one of the biggest culprits of clutter. Condense or delete unnecessary folders and files to free up cyberspace.

Source: Unclutterer.com

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10 Signs You Are Ready to Invest in Real Estate

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

When it comes to property investment, timing is everything. Ultimately, choosing the right time to enter the market will have a significant impact on the long-term success of your investment.

But how can you as an investor know whether the timing is right? Global property portal Lamudi has compiled a list of 10 tell-tale signs that now is the time to start building your investment portfolio.

1. You are financially ready. You have saved enough for the down payment and you have also established your emergency fund. You have taken into account home maintenance expenses. Your credit history is good and you are able to meet all the financial obligations.

2. You have set your long-term goals. You have a clear picture in your mind of the purpose of your investment and you are flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances. You are not hesitant and when the timing is right, you are able to adapt to the market needs and the development of technologies.

3. You have done your research. You know the neighborhood of your future property well enough to foresee the coming trends and the possible changes in the community. You have researched all the schools in the area as well as the best commuting means and you are able to predict the next homebuyers needs.

4. You have chosen a stable economy. The area is financially stable, economic trends are promising and equities are surging. No demographic fluctuation or no irregular variation of population have been recorded in the area.

5. You understand the country’s policies regarding real estate. The policies of the region promote and encourage a positive, innovative environment as well as drive further economic growth. The tax policy in the country is positive for homeowners. Global innovation index is rising in the area.

6. Infrastructure projects are underway and likely to lead to an increase in property values. The infrastructure of the area is being developed with a focus on: transport, energy, solid waste and water management developments.

7. The region is moving toward sustainable development. The region’s awareness of global and local environmental issues is increasing, the demand for eco-friendly homes as well as for sustainable rural and urban development is rising. As more and more people head toward sustainable living, investing in sustainable property will increase its value in the future.

8. The location draws a lot of interest. Whether it is the best travel destination or the hot jobs spot, the location is always on the top of the search engine. It has become a successful startup hub already or is planning to do so in the coming years, driving a lot of job seekers into the area. The number of enrolled students is increasing every year, the area draws interest of international students.

9. You have found a reliable real estate agent. If you are an overseas buyer, it is particularly crucial to make sure you have a good representative on the ground. Your real estate agent is trustworthy and knows the local market well enough to be able to help you make the choice.

10. You have researched local differences in the property market. Whether you plan to invest in a residential property and turn it into a rental or an office space, you are fully aware of all cultural differences that might occur when you deal with a property seller.

Source: Lamudi

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Keep Family Safe from Home's Hidden Hazards

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

(Family Features) In the U.S. alone, approximately 60 million people suffer from asthma and allergies, which can be triggered by mold for those who are allergic. As a responsible homeowner, it’s essential to be aware of the many threats, such as mold and fire, which may cause harm to your family and your investment.

Mold – Mold can grow practically anywhere within the home, and has the ability to produce irritants and allergens that compromise the health of your family. To keep mold-producing moisture out, Lucas Hamilton, building scientist and expert with CertainTeed, suggests:
  • When weather allows, ventilate your home by opening windows and doors to let moisture escape. If necessary, use a fan to allow air to circulate.
  • Because moisture is unavoidable in any home, its presence in the wall cavity is almost inevitable and can be dangerous if not addressed. Your best prevention is with quality insulation that provides a healthier indoor environment by reducing the risk of mold and mildew and improving overall indoor air quality.
  • While you won’t be able to stop rain from creating a wet mess in your basement or crawlspace, you can take action to steer water away. Make sure a proper grade exists in your yard to prevent water from reaching the foundation.
Fire – Beyond investing in quality smoke and fire detectors, there are several other things to consider to keep your home free from flames:
  • Before hanging up a mirror or wall art, make sure you aren’t driving a nail through the wiring in the walls — a danger that accounts for thousands of home fires each year. To avoid this mishap, switch out circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters, which detect sparks and prevent them from blazing.
  • The kitchen is a hot spot for fires to start. Always keep combustible items such as towels, pot holders and cookbooks at least 3-4 feet from burners, the oven and other heat sources.
  • Reduce the risk of fire by having your clothes dryer cabinet professionally cleaned every few years. If enough lint accumulates within the dryer, the heating element within the appliance can start a fire.
Take the proper steps now to avoid unsafe conditions within the home. In the long run, it can save you time, money and even the well-being of your family.

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Update Your Bedding with Three Hot Trends

September 25, 2014 10:22 am

Nothing transforms the look of a bedroom faster than new bed linens. Whether you want to create a serene atmosphere, liven up a neutral space or swap your bedding for a seasonal alternative, consider introducing one of this year’s trends – white, stripes or geometric shapes – that fit beautifully with any existing décor.

White – White is the color of soft, pillowy clouds. To avoid that sterile, ‘blank slate’ feel, layer white in varying shades and textures, such as a cream-colored throw blanket, sandy-white pillows or eggshell lampshades.

Stripes
– Typically found in nautical décor, stripes add visual interest and can be preppy, modern or vintage depending on the dimensions of the pattern. Wider widths and vibrant colors make a dramatic statement; pinstripes and muted colors are much more subtle.

Geometric – Geometric-shaped patterns speak volumes about one’s personality, so incorporate according to your style and preferences. Geometric prints on larger areas, such as a comforter, quilt or bed sheets, have greater impact, but smaller geometric bed accessories, such as pillows, have longevity.

Source: ApartmentTherapy.com

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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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