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

Take a Turn on a Zero-Turn Mower

September 13, 2016 2:15 am


When is being referred to as a “zero” a good thing? If you were among thousands of attendees at the 2015 Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), you know it’s when it's zero-turn!

GIE+EXPO, the largest trade show for garden, lawn and outdoor power equipment, is held annually in Louisville, Ky—and the belles of last year's ball were zero-turn mowers.

Altoz, manufacturer of high-performance zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers, unveiled the XR series of products at the event. Steve Noe, a blogger at OutdoorPowerEquipment.com, notes Altoz equipment is now available with Briggs & Stratton, Honda, Kawasaki and Kohler engines.

Manufacturer Wright introduced a 72-inch model to its growing line of Stander ZK mowers at the event, as well. The machine’s left/right hydro systems, mowing speed and push-button deck lift all contribute to improved efficiency and productivity, Noe says.

The Poulan Pro p54zx was another top contender at the event, with ToolsAroundTheHouse.com ranking it the sole five-star performer on its list of best zero-turn mowers on the market. The machine features an electric clutch, a high-back seat and a hydro-gear EZT transmission, among other features.

Whichever zero-turn mower you opt for, safety is paramount—like other large mowers, they pose rollover and tip-over dangers, especially on uneven surfaces. Because only the rear wheels are powered (the front wheels are for pivoting), zero-turn mowers are much more difficult to stop, especially when riding down a steep slope. Ride safe!
 

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New Homes: Manufactured, Modular or Site-Built?

September 13, 2016 2:15 am


(BPT)—Building or purchasing a new home has several advantages: for one, control over design and location, as well as the ability to own sooner (and often for less money) in markets with short supply.

New homes can be built or purchased in one of three types of construction: manufactured, modular and site-built. Each has its pros and cons.

“A newly constructed home may be any of the following three types: manufactured, modular or traditional site-built,” says Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Home Building Group. “Whichever type selected will be built to strict state and federal code and can vary by style, custom features available, energy-efficiency, speed of construction and affordability.”

Manufactured

Manufactured homes are built in a controlled factory environment using many of the same building materials used in site-built homes. The entire house is assembled in the factory in sections, and then transported by truck to the home site for final installation.

Manufactured homes are subject to internal inspections and must meet building standards defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to receive final certification. Because the house is built indoors, the construction schedule is not subject to weather delays, so a manufactured home can be completed and set up on-site in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

Manufactured homebuilders purchase construction materials and appliances in volume, which helps keep the cost of manufactured homes lower than what you would pay for a site-built home. (In 2015, the average cost of a manufactured home was just $47.55 per square foot, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction [SOC] data.)

Modular

Modular homebuilding combines elements of site-built and manufactured home construction. In modular home construction, the home may be either 100-percent factory-built or a mix of both factory-built and on-site built. Modular homes can ship to the home site fully complete or with work left to be done—this allows for full customization.

Modular homes are often shipped in sections that are assembled at the site by use of a crane. The home is typically placed onto a permanent foundation, and can be multiple stories high. Modular homes can also have basements, garages and unique roof profiles that make them indistinguishable from traditional site-built homes.

All the building codes that apply to site-built homes also govern modular homes. Because much of the construction takes place inside a factory setting with materials in stock, modular homes can also be completed faster than site-built homes. They also benefit from similar bulk cost-savings as manufactured homes.

Site-Built

As the name implies, site-built construction assembles the house on the site where it will permanently stand when finished. All the materials that go into the house—from wood for the frame to pipes for the plumbing and shingles for the roof—are transported to the site for assembly of the house, which could take several months. Transporting and buying exact measurements of building materials that will be used (versus buying bulk) contributes to the final cost of the house.

During construction, materials may be stored onsite and exposed to weather until construction crews are ready to use them. Similarly, the interior of the home is exposed until the roof, walls and windows are all in place.  They are subject to various state and local building codes to ensure safety before the home is ready to be sold.

Site-building is a time-tested, traditional way of building homes, and is the most common method of construction. Construction times vary, but can range from less than three months to a year, according to data from the SOC. The average price per square foot of a single-family site-built home was just over $100 in 2015.

The type of construction you choose will depend on your budget, needs and preferences. Advances in manufactured and modular homebuilding mean it's now possible to build one of these homes with the same high-end features you would find in a quality site-built home.

Source: Clayton Home Building Group
 

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Estate Planning in a Globalized World

September 12, 2016 2:15 am


Estate planning is complex, now more so for families faced with navigating the process on a multinational stage. Issues beyond U.S. borders may be especially impactful, says John O. McManus, an attorney and founding principal of New York- and New Jersey-based McManus & Associates (www.McManusLegal.com).

“We live in an increasingly globalized world—today, many people travel regularly for work and pleasure, and have loved ones and investments abroad,” McManus says. “Whether you are a U.S. citizen with assets abroad, a U.S. resident living overseas with ties back home, or have loved ones overseas from whom you could receive gifts or inheritances, it is important to keep up-to-date on multinational estate and tax planning issues.”

According to McManus, one of the primary issues is Brexit. European Union (EU) membership permits free movement to live and work throughout the EU, so those moving into and out of Britain should prepare for potential residency and passport complications.

Another consideration is assets, McManus says. Those with assets abroad are subject to U.S. estate and income tax on those assets. This applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens—a non-resident alien is taxed only on U.S. source income, including capital gains from the sale of a U.S. real property. Non-resident aliens planning to immigrate to the U.S. should consider purchasing U.S. real estate through a foreign corporation and making unlimited non-U.S. gifts to U.S. persons (directly, or in a foreign) trust prior to immigrating, so as to avoid estate and gift taxes, McManus advises.

There is “financial fine print” that can present challenges, as well. U.S. citizens working overseas have FBAR reporting obligations if the value of their foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the year, McManus explains. For unmarried citizens living abroad, Specified Foreign Financial Assets (Form 8938) must be filed with their U.S. income tax return for foreign financial assets worth more than $200,000 on the last day of the taxable year, or $300,000 at any time during the year; for unmarried citizens living in the U.S., they must be filed with their income tax return if worth more than $50,000 on the last day of the taxable year, or $75,000 at any time during the year.

Likewise, U.S. citizens receiving $100,000 or more in bequests/gifts from a foreign individual are required to file Form 3520 by April 15 of the year following the gift, lest a 25 percent penalty.

One other consideration is portability, McManus adds. Portability permits a surviving spouse to use the Deceased Spouse’s Unused federal estate tax Exemption (DSUE) of their most recent deceased spouse, in order to increase the estate tax exemption amount. Portability is generally only available to U.S. citizens and residents—non-U.S. citizens or residents should establish a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDoT) to have the DSUE amount of the decedent included in the surviving spouse’s applicable exclusion amount, McManus advises.

In addition, having more than one will can be beneficial—the advantage, McManus explains, is that they can be tailored to different jurisdictions; the disadvantage, however, is the expense needed to prepare them, as well as the additional complexity in the overall estate plan. Multiple wills may be prudent if there is substantial real property or investments in privately-owned companies abroad, McManus says.

Source: McManus & Associates
 

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Mortgage Rates Sink, Prompting Refis

September 12, 2016 2:15 am


Mortgage rates on average have moved lower, with the 30-year fixed-rate recently sinking to 3.44 percent, Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) reports.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell two basis points to 3.44 percent [last] week,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti says. “As mortgage rates continue to range between 3.41 and 3.48 percent, many are taking advantage of the historically low rates by refinancing. Since the Brexit vote, the refinance share of mortgage activity has remained above 60 percent.”

The 15-year fixed-rate (FRM), conversely, averages 2.76 percent with an average 0.5 point, according to the survey. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate averages 2.81 percent with an average 0.4 point. The 30-year FRM has an average 0.6 point.

Source: Freddie Mac
 

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Home Improvements for Fall: A Checklist

September 12, 2016 2:15 am


Fall is one of the best times of year to knock out some home improvement projects, especially ones you may have been putting off. Vicki Payne, host of the television program “For Your Home with Vicki Payne,” says fall is also ideal for maintenance before colder temperatures set in.

“With cooler fall weather comes the realization that your home will soon experience [colder] weather,” Payne says. “To get your house ready, start by giving your exterior a thorough review. Everything should be checked, cleaned up and made ready to handle Mother Nature when she comes blowing in within the next few months.”

Payne’s checklist:

Assess the roof. Look for loose or missing shingles, as well as algae, deterioration, mold or splitting. If the roof is in poor shape, consider upgrading to a synthetic roof—the composite product resists elements like fire, high winds and impact. (Hot Product: DaVinci Roofscapes)

Check the doors. The weather stripping should be intact—this helps keep drafty cold air out.

Check the siding and trim. Make sure there are no insect infestations or rotting boards (if wood). Should these items need replacement, consider a low-maintenance alternative like fiber cement siding or PVC trim. (Hot Products: James Hardie, Ply Gem)

Clean the gutters. Remove leaves and debris to avoid back-ups or clogs come winter. Ensure, too, that gutters are securely attached to the home and sloped for proper drainage.

Evaluate the deck. If the deck looks worse for wear, consider replacing it with Western Red Cedar or composite decking—both stand up to the elements. (Hot Product: TAMKO)

Inspect the garage door(s). Make sure it is operating properly and has strong air filtration seals. A replacement may be in order if the door is not functioning or aesthetically outdated. (Hot Product: Haas Door)

Seal the windows. At the very least, ensure the windows have strong weather stripping. Consider installing energy-efficient panes (with the ENERGY STAR® label) to keep heating costs down.

Secure railings. Loose or unstable railings can be dangerous. Check all balusters and handrails for signs of damage. If it is time for a replacement, consider adding cable rails or glass balustrades for a contemporary finish. (Hot Product: Fortress Railing)

Spend time on landscaping. Rake leaves as they fall—remove them and any other underbrush from the property before frost or snow arrive. Re-mulch in areas that need it, and trim back bushes and trees.

“Homeownership means continually maintaining the exterior elements of a house,” says Payne. “With its cooler weather, autumn is the ideal time to evaluate, upgrade and improve those key exterior elements to ensure your home is ready for the winter months ahead.”

Source: For Your Home with Vicki Payne
 

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Is Your Workout Class Working?

September 9, 2016 2:09 am


More of us than ever are signing up for workout classes—and that’s a good thing. But, as the editors at Women’s Health point out, there’s a tendency for beginners to do too much, too soon, instead of gradually building strength. They caution signs of a too-strenuous workout:
 
Your Breathing Is Choppy
In any workout class (especially yoga, where rhythmic cadence is important), you must pay attention to your breath. If it’s getting shorter and shorter, or you start to gasp, slow down until you feel you’re breathing normally.
 
Your Heart Rate Is off the Charts
Monitoring your heart rate throughout your workout is a good way to ensure you’re training without overdoing it. If you’re not monitoring your heart rate, listen to your body—if you’re unable to string words together, or if you feel faint, rein it in.
 
Your Muscles Are Quaking
A little shaking is fine—it can be an indicator of the muscle fatigue your instructor is aiming for—but if you can’t control the quaking, you’ve likely gone too far and could be putting your joints at risk. Reduce your intensity, or rest, before attempting to join in again.
 
Your Technique Is Off
If you’re not performing exercises properly, the class may be too challenging for you—but a good instructor will provide modifications as needed so long as you are continuing to gain strength and endurance.

Fitness classes can support a healthier lifestyle, but don’t hesitate to dial back if these signs crop up in the first few sessions. Exercise to your capacity, and only push your limits when you—and your body—are ready.
 

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Hurricane Mid-Season Reminder: Check In on Insurance

September 9, 2016 2:09 am


Hurricane season presents insurance considerations for homeowners in many areas of the country. Midway through the season is an ideal time to check in with your insurance provider regarding coverage, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“This is the midpoint of the season, and it's vital to remain vigilant,” says Lynne McChristian, a representative for the I.I.I. “If it's been a year since you last talked to your insurance professional about your coverage and options, then have the conversation now while you still have time to make changes.”

According to the I.I.I., many insurers, especially in Florida, will not permit changes to policies once a hurricane warning or watch is in effect. As such, it’s essential to consult with your provider before a storm strikes, if only to confirm you’re covered.

The I.I.I. recommends updating your policy if you’ve made improvements to or remodeled your home, or if you’ve obtained new belongings. Ensure your policy provides coverage not only to rebuild your home in the event of disaster, but also to replace your possessions.

“Ask about additional coverage you should consider,” McChristian says. “For example, does your policy cover sewer backup? If your home is more than five years old, you may also need building ordinance and law coverage, which covers the added costs to rebuild a damaged home up to the improved, latest building codes.”

Updating your home inventory, which is a list of your possessions and their value, can also be beneficial should you need to file a claim. According to the I.I.I., doing this not only hastens the claim process, but also makes filing for federal disaster aid simpler. A free home inventory app is available at KnowYourStuff.org.

Consider flood insurance, as well, the I.I.I. suggests. (More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to those living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones.) Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through a private insurer.

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
 

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5 Macro Trends in Home Design

September 9, 2016 2:09 am


From health-centric workplaces to socially-connected shops, macro trends inform design in industries across the board. Macro trends in the home, however, have higher staying power.

The macro trends currently shaping the design in our homes are the “country chic/farmhouse,” “glamour/Hollywood regency,” “gold,” “industrial” and “mid-century modern” aesthetics, says Ted Roberts, manager of Industrial Design for Schlage®. Roberts, who ascertains trends through industry events and tradeshows, believes these movements are going nowhere soon.

“While home trends tend to stay relevant longer, with homeowners updating decor about every five years, our team is continually monitoring art and fashion trends to inform home decor,” Roberts says.

The country chic/farmhouse aesthetic, according to Roberts, has evolved from being rooted in dark-toned woods to supporting lighter wood finishes. Often, it overlaps with industrial-style products, such as exposed plumbing and light fixtures. The industrial trend, conversely, has transitioned from an all-encompassing theme to well-appointed accessories, like Edison bulbs and pulleys.

The hallmark of the glamour/Hollywood regency aesthetic, on the other hand, is geometric designs, seen in accent pieces, lighting and small furniture, Roberts explains. The trend has moved from clean, drastic contrast to black-and-gold and softer grays, with Art Deco elements.

The gold component in the glamour/Hollywood regency trend is echoed in the gold and satin brass finishes now standard in new home design, Roberts adds. The patina is now being paired with whites and tans, rather than dark shades.

The mid-century modern take, too, is as popular as ever. The aesthetic’s color palette, which conventionally popped with oranges and yellows, is now brimming with blacks, blues and grays. The trend, Roberts says, is one of the most of-the-moment designs, and will continue to be more so than any other macro trend.

Do these macro trends make an appearance in your home?

Source: Schlage®

 

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With Age Comes…Nevermind: Millennial Outlook 'Positive,' but 'Realistic'

September 8, 2016 2:06 am


Millennials expect healthy financial prospects, but hold no illusions for the long-term—a “positive,” “realistic” outlook atypical of their age, according to the recently released Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress Study. The majority of millennials in the study were confident they will achieve their financial goals, though some expressed concern about retirement.

“It’s encouraging to see that millennials are striking a balance between being realistic about the implications of extended longevity and remaining positive about building a solid financial future,” says Rebekah Barsch, vice president of Planning for Northwestern Mutual.

Notably, the millennials in the study were more likely than any other generation to recognize a lack of planning as a hindrance to security in retirement, and many believed the availability of Social Security is “not at all likely.”

Most considered themselves “highly disciplined” financial planners, even though slim wages and student loan debt were causes for concern. The former, the study found, has a negative impact on their career goals.

“The early stages of a career can be rewarding in many ways, but not necessarily financially,” says Barsch. “With the right financial plan in place, millennials can alleviate some of the pressure and feel confident about pursuing their career aspirations, rather than just a paycheck.”

Just one in five of the millennials included in the study had a financial advisor.

The takeaway? Millennials maintain a financial disposition that belies their years: a rosy outlook tempered by faith in the economy, and foresight.

Source: Northwestern Mutual
 

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The Best Time for Deals on Patio Gear Is…Now!

September 8, 2016 2:06 am


We’re all familiar with annual end-of-season sales on patio equipment and furniture—but when, really, is the best window for savings?

For the answer, I turned to coupon clearinghouse LOZO.com, which finds reliable grocery coupons from hundreds of trustworthy brands and websites. (You may have seen reporting on them on Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show or TLC's Extreme Couponing.)

LOZO.com points out that with fall and the holiday season approaching, the closer retailers get to their seasonal inventory change-over, the greater the discounts—that's why you can count on end-of-season sales for just about every seasonal item.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are particularly eager to move patio furniture, because it’s big, bulky, and takes up valuable store space. Unlike some seasonal items that gradually progress through sales (25 percent off, 40 percent off, 50 percent off, and so on), patio furniture quickly discounts.

According to LOZO.com, the best course of action is to carefully track the store(s) you might buy from and check stock and discounts. Don’t hesitate to ask a salesperson for details on how much inventory is still available, when it will be discounted, and for how much. Check back regularly to see if the sales have gotten any sweeter—LOZO.com recommends springing for the patio purchase when it reaches 75 percent off or more.

For more guidance on savings for your household, visit LOZO.com.
 

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