RE/MAX 440
Cheryl Goedeke
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA   18944
Phone: 267-664-2288
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Fax: 267-354-6833
email: cheryl@remax440.com
Cheryl Goedeke

My Blog

Mortgage Rates Hover Near 2-Year Low

April 17, 2015 12:24 am

According to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey, mortgage rates pulled back this week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipping to 3.79 percent and the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate inching lower to 3.03 percent.

The jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage set a new record low of 3.90 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) were mixed, with the 5-year ARM nosing higher to 3.08 percent and the 10-year ARM drifting down to 3.54 percent.

Mortgage rates are at a 23-month low, a fact which could motivate buyers off the sidelines, particularly with the likelihood of higher rates later in the year. As evidenced by recent uneven data, the cold winter put a chill on the economy. The softness in economic releases continues to keep everyone guessing about the timing of the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.

Source: Bankrate.com

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Smart Homes Met with Mixed Attitudes

April 17, 2015 12:24 am

Though consumers expect smart homes to “arrive” well before smart cars or wearable tech, their enthusiasm is tempered by some confusion around the smart home concept, according to research firm iModerate. This stems from concerns over price, ease of use and physical and data security.

Participants in a recent iModerate study said they think a smart home would be most beneficial when they’re away from home. Specifically, they said a smart home would alleviate worries of leaving an appliance on, help lower energy bills and reduce burglary concerns.

However, consumers see the smart home as something of a double-edged sword: they believe it will offer peace of mind to them and their families, but they are wary of the security and privacy issues a smart home could expose. They like the idea of being able to peek in to their homes, to remotely control home functions, and to receive alerts if there is an attempted intrusion or mechanical problem that occurs while they’re away.

Conversely, consumers are fearful that security measures could backfire, data collected by smart home systems could be exploited, and smart locks could be easily hacked.

“We found our conversations with consumers fascinating in terms of how eager people are to embrace the smart home,” says Adam Rossow, partner, iModerate. “They perceive the technology would generally better the home experience. Only 7 percent indicated concern that it would make their homes feel cold and uninviting, whereas the majority envisioned smart home technology as a silent task-master, freeing up time they’d typically spend on household chores and, in turn, allowing them more time with their families.”

Source: iModerate

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Breaking Down Spring Home Project Costs

April 17, 2015 12:24 am

(Family Features) Before you grab your toolkit or enlist the help of a professional for spring projects this season, do your wallet a favor and conduct some research.

HomeAdvisor’s most recent True Cost Report found that 38 percent of homeowners don't know how much it will cost to hire a professional for home projects, and nearly 70 percent are concerned about overpaying as a consequence of not having reliable cost information.

If you’ve got any of these projects on the agenda this spring, keep in mind these tips.
  • Repairing the roof: Maintaining the roof protects a home from the elements and can raise property values. Small repairs keep a roof in good shape for several years and help avoid costly damages. Most homeowners assume repairing a roof can be costly. In fact, the average roof fix only costs $550, according to the True Cost Report.
  • Remodeling a kitchen: Kitchen remodels boost a home's resale value and add functionality to the most utilized space in a home. Many factors go into remodeling a kitchen, including flooring, plumbing, appliances and electrical, so bear in mind these additional costs when budgeting.
  • Remodeling a bathroom: Homeowners can choose from different types of bathroom remodels, depending on style preferences and budget. The average cost of remodeling a bathroom is $9,000, says HomeAdvisor.
  • Painting the home's exterior: Painting the home's exterior not only boosts its curb appeal, but it also acts as a home's primary defense against weather, insects, and other damage. Consider your region’s climate before selecting a color and/or finish.
  • Installing landscaping: Landscaping can dramatically change the look of a house and property. Adding landscaping such as an outdoor patio, flowers or shrubs can increase the value of a home. The True Cost Report points to an average cost of $2,938 for landscaping.
Source: HomeAdvisor

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HUD Grants to Assist 1.5 Million Households

April 16, 2015 6:21 am

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is helping individuals and families get smarter about homeownership with $36 million in counseling grants to hundreds of national, regional and local organizations to assist with housing needs. The counseling grants are expected to help over 1.5 million households locate housing or prevent future foreclosures and make more informed housing decisions.

The grants will help homebuyers:
  • Reevaluate their readiness for a home purchase
  • Understand their financing and down payment options
  • Locate affordable rental housing
  • Become financially literate, especially if struggling to repair credit issues
  • Seek reverse mortgages or HECM, especially if elderly
  • Review loan documentation
  • Avoid potential mortgage scams, unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals or unaffordable repayment terms
  • Prevent foreclosure through expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers and loss mitigation
Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Urban Institute continues to find substantial benefits to housing counseling for families who purchase their first homes and those struggling to prevent foreclosure.

To locate a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, visit HUD.gov.

Source: HUD

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Ceiling Trends That Raise Rooms to New Heights

April 16, 2015 6:21 am

(BPT) - Want to infuse your home with architectural interest? Start at the top, says Brian Patrick Flynn, owner of FlynnsideOut Productions and whose interiors are regularly featured on HGTV.com.

"The ceiling is the most overlooked design element in a space, hands down," says Flynn. "Just like people, rooms need different layers to be one-of-a kind. That includes a ceiling that makes people look up and scan the entire space."

The largest solid surface in a room - besides the floor - is the ceiling. Instead of leaving it bright white or builder beige, convert this blank canvas into a decorative canopy of color and texture with these hot ceiling trends.

Layer on the Luster – Stamped metal ceilings have added shine and sophistication to American homes since they were introduced in the 1880s. Besides beauty, metal ceilings offer practicality. They resist mold and mildew, offer sag resistance and last longer than plaster or drywall. Regardless of the finish, the texture of the tiles creates a tactile top layer to the space.

Mix and Match Styles – Some interior designers are combining different decorating elements at the top, such as inlaying the recesses of coffered ceilings with gold or copper tiles. Flynn says he's also a fan of tongue-and-groove ceilings accented with beams. "This adds a ton of visual interest to the room, and can make it feel much larger.”

Create Character with Wood – From rustic timber to sleek teak, wood hues help set the tone in a room. Besides imparting a sense of warmth, the grains and knots in wood panels add a textural layer that contrasts nicely with smooth surfaces like painted walls and granite countertops.

Add Architectural Depth – Coffered ceilings first appeared in Roman architecture, and their geometric elegance has graced grand buildings ever since. Today, the cost and complexity of building coffered ceilings have been reduced by lightweight materials and easy-to-install prefabricated systems.

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6 Tips for Greener Home Maintenance

April 16, 2015 6:21 am

Did you know certain home maintenance tasks can be a detriment to the environment? If you’re one of the millions of homeowners who have maintenance on the agenda this spring, consider introducing eco-friendliness to your routine. Here are six ways to get started.

Dump toxic cleaners: When spring cleaning indoors, use water-based or organic household cleaners. Do not pour chemicals down the drain – recycle them at your nearest hazardous waste collection center. To find one in your area, visit your state’s website.

Open the windows: Nothing freshens up a home faster than outdoor air. If weather permits, open your windows to allow air from the outside to sweep away harmful indoor pollutants like radon, secondhand smoke and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – the latter are typically found in the building materials of existing homes.

Inspect plumbing
: A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water every day. To conserve water, conduct an inspection of your home’s plumbing system and repair any dripping fixtures immediately. To reduce bills, consider installing a low-flow faucet or shower head in at least one bathroom.

Ready the HVAC system: For those using an A/C this summer, clear the area surrounding the unit of any overgrown shrubbery or debris from winter storms. Obstructions to the unit can lead to increased energy consumption, resulting in higher utility bills.

Restore the lawn
: Patchy areas of your lawn can lead to higher erosion levels if left unrepaired, so restore any grass gaps as soon as possible. To really give your yard a boost and do good for the environment, spread grass clippings on your lawn – the nutrients will benefit the grass underneath and eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.

Compost waste
: If you’d rather not leave clippings on your lawn, consider composting them instead. You’ll save time and money on water usage because composted soil absorbs and holds moisture better than store-bought mulch.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

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11 Ways to Boost Your Emergency Fund

April 15, 2015 6:21 am

Personal finance experts tell us everyone needs an emergency fund; a little stash of cash you can tap for unexpected car repairs, a lost or stolen smartphone, or any other little emergency life throws in your path.

But stowing away that stash can be easier said than done. From Lars Peterson, editor of consumer finance blog Wise Bread, here are 11 tips to help you begin:
  • Keep a spending book – track every dollar you spend for a month. Take a close look at the numbers. Where can you eliminate spending and put the savings away?
  • Eliminate budget busters – Can you step down to a cheaper cable package? Drink fewer Starbucks lattes? Use coupons when you shop for groceries and put the dollars you saved away.
  • Renegotiate what you can – Call your service providers and credit card issuers and ask for a cheaper rate. If you don’t get it, shop around.
  • Bank the savings – That’s the key. Once you’ve nipped away at your costs, you need to bank the savings.
  • Sell your old stuff – eBay, Craigslist, even garage sales. Sell the stuff you no longer need and stow the proceeds in your emergency fund.
  • Sell other people’s old stuff – Thrift stores and garage sales offer lots of good, used stuff at prices so low you may be able to resell it on Craigslist or eBay. Be alert to great buys on used household goods, jewelry and more.
  • Get a side job – Can you wait tables? Work retail? Take freelance gigs from Fiverr or TaskRabbit? Working an extra few hours a week can build your fund up fast.
  • Check your withholding – While it's nice to get a check from the IRS every spring, it's nicer to have the money now, going into your emergency fund every month. Use the IRS withholding calculator and adjust accordingly.
  • Offer to walk dogs or babysit for friends or neighbors – Stash the fees into your emergency fund.
  • Rent out your extra room – Make your place available on Airbnb for short-term housemates, or rent a room to a boarder, who may also help out with utilities.
  • Sign up for focus groups – Marketers and pollsters are so interested in what you think that they'll pay for your opinion. Visit a site like FindFocusGroups.com, and earn $50 to $150 for speaking your mind.

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For Some, Eco-Friendly Investments Too Much Green

April 15, 2015 6:21 am

As Earth Day approaches, those seeking to go green may be asking themselves, “At what cost?”

The majority of consumers (81 percent) believe environmentally friendly items are more expensive than non-green products, according to recent research from RetailMeNot.com. Yet 89 percent are willing to purchase at least one kind of product that has a positive impact on the environment, including energy-efficient light bulbs, energy-efficient appliances or electronics.

Big ticket items, however, like solar panels or hybrid and electric vehicles are far less popular eco-friendly investments.

Cost savings are the most effective factor when deciding to purchase green products, with close to one in three consumers likely to buy a green product if it were guaranteed to save them money over time. This opportunity to save far outweighed other factors, like high-quality or being linked to a good cause.

And just what would people do with the extra money they gained from purchasing an energy-efficient or eco-friendly product? Half of consumers would put that money into savings and nearly as many (40 percent) would put it toward bills or pay off debt.

Beyond supporting the green movement with their wallets, a majority of consumers are willing to make small changes in behavior to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, such as turning off lights when leaving a room, turning off water when not in use, recycling plastic, paper or metal, reusing towels before washing, and reusing plastic bottles or containers.

Source: RetailMeNot.com

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14 Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

April 15, 2015 6:21 am

As the housing recovery continues, kitchens and bathrooms remain the most popular areas for investment by homeowners, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Kitchens, in particular, remain the center of operations within the home, with energy-efficiency, water conversation and healthy home materials topping the list of homeowner must-haves.

“The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities,” says Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. “Rather, homeowners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.

“Another important trend we see appearing more, not only in kitchens but the entire project, is specifying healthier construction components such as paint, caulking, glues, grout and other potentially high VOC (volatile organic compounds) products, that may contain harmful ingredients and off-gas noxious fumes or vapors over time as they are curing.”

The survey concluded that the most popular kitchen products and features are:
  • LED Lighting
  • Computer Area/Recharging Station
  • Larger Pantry Space
  • Upper-End Appliances
  • Double Island
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Drinking Water Filtration Systems
Based on the survey, the most popular bathroom products and features are:
  • LED Lighting
  • Doorless Showers
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Large Walk-In Showers
  • Stall Shower without Tub
  • Water Saving Toilets
  • Radiant Heated Floors
Source: AIA

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10 Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers

April 14, 2015 6:21 am

Though the tax filing deadline is imminent, taxpayers must remain thorough when filing their returns. To avoid processing hiccups, take note of these tips from the IRS.

1. File electronically.
Filing electronically, whether through e-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. And best of all, there is a free option for everyone.

2. Mail a paper return to the right address. Paper filers should check IRS.gov or their form instructions for the appropriate address where to file to avoid processing delays.

3. Take a close look at the tax tables. When figuring tax using the tax tables, taxpayers should be sure to use the correct column for the filing status claimed.

4. Fill in all requested information clearly. When entering information on the tax return, including Social Security numbers, take the time to be sure it is correct and easy to read. Also, check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.

5. Review all figures.
While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.

6. Get the right routing and account numbers. Requesting direct deposit of a federal refund into one, two or even three accounts is convenient and allows the taxpayer access to his or her money faster. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers entered on the return are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause a refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.

7. Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return. E-filers can sign using a self-selected personal identification number (PIN).

8. Attach all required forms. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms that reflect tax withholding to the front of their returns. If requesting a payment agreement with the IRS, also attach Form 9465 to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary schedules and forms in the sequence number order shown in the upper right-hand corner.

9. Keep a copy of the return. Once ready to be filed, taxpayers should make a copy of their signed return and all schedules for their records.

10. Request a Filing Extension. For taxpayers who cannot meet the April 15 deadline, requesting a filing extension is easy and will prevent late filing penalties. Either use Free File or Form 4868 – but keep in mind that while an extension grants additional time to file, tax payments are still due April 15.

Source: IRS.gov

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