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

Halloween Candy Safety Measures All Parents Should Take

October 28, 2014 3:54 am

Halloween is a fun and exciting time for kids, but hazards exist when sorting through candy after a night of trick-or-treating. Parents must take precautions to determine whether a piece of candy is safe to consume, including:
  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until you have looked them over.
  • If candy treats are not commercially wrapped, or are found in torn, damaged or loose packages, throw them out.
  • Wash your hands before opening and eating candy treats.
  • Remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys from the loot bags of young children. Do not let children under three years of age play with any toys containing small parts.
  • Wash fresh fruit thoroughly and cut it open before eating it. Inspect for holes, including small punctures and cuts, and if any, do not eat the fruit. When in doubt – throw it out.
  • Consider giving out treats that do not contain ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg. These ingredients can cause severe reactions in individuals who have allergies or sensitivities.
  • Parents or caregivers of children with food allergies should read labels carefully and avoid candies that do not have an ingredient list, or that have a "may contain" statement for ingredients to which the child is allergic.
  • If your child has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector because of a food allergy, make sure they have it available whenever they are eating.
Source: Health Canada

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What Baby Boomers Can Expect when Entering the Real Estate Market

October 28, 2014 3:54 am

The real estate industry has changed dramatically over the years, and continues to evolve even today. For baby boomers who may not have bought or sold a home recently, entering the market can be especially overwhelming. Whether you’re planning on upsizing or downsizing, here are three things you should know about the industry.

1. Research begins online. Some baby boomers have been out of the real estate game for many years. It’s important to search the Internet before setting up an appointment with an agent. This will help you gauge your local market, learn forecasts for sales in your area, and read reviews and feedback.

2. Local expertise matters.
An experienced agent with local market knowledge is still your best bet when it comes to getting your home sold. They can help you evaluate comparably priced homes in your neighborhood and guide you through the negotiation process.

3. Paperless transactions are here to stay.
Thanks to technology, a buyer or seller doesn’t need to be present to sign a contract, and agents don’t need to wait for faxes to come through. Embrace mobile applications to make the process quick and efficient.

Source: Zillow

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Mortgage Rates Decline Further

October 27, 2014 4:06 am

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates hitting fresh lows for the year for the second consecutive week amid declining bond yields. At 3.92 percent the average 30-year fixed rate is at its lowest level since the week of June 6, 2013.

"Fixed mortgage rates continued to fall last week after the yield on 10 year Treasuries dropped to their lowest point of the year,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Existing home sales beat expectations in September clocking in at an annual rate of 5.17 million units, up 2.4 percent from August. Housing starts were up 6.3 percent in September adding a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million units. Building permits rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.018 million units in September.”

The survey shows:
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.92 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending October 23, 2014, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.97 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.08 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.18 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.91 percent last week with an average 0.5 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.00 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.41 percent last week with an average 0.4 point, up from the previous week when it averaged 2.38 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.60 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

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Four Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

October 27, 2014 4:06 am

A recent Federal Trade Commission study showed that approximately 26 percent of consumers have credit report mistakes that could lead to higher loan and insurance payments. More than a quarter of participants in the study found at least one error on their credit reports, and five percent had errors serious enough to affect loan terms.

“Credit reports play a crucial role in determining consumers’ financial discipline and responsibility,” said Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Chairman of Debt.com. “Detecting credit report errors allows consumers to correct inaccurate information that could potentially lead to denied loans and high interest rates.”

Dvorkin advises that consumers review their credit report and take steps to correct any issues. He recommends:

Correcting errors on credit report - Consumers should check their credit score at least three months before making a purchase. If they identify mistakes, consumers should write a letter to the credit bureau and organization responsible for reporting the inaccurate information. In the letter they should explain why the information is incorrect and what should be changed on the credit report.

Asking for a credit-line increase - The credit utilization ratio is one of the major factors that contribute to the overall credit score. Using too much of the available credit can have a negative impact on a credit score. While it’s possible to fix this issue by paying down debt, sometimes consumers may not be able to afford it. To avoid having a low score, consumers should call their card provider and ask for a reduction of their interest rate. This could help consumers to pay off their balance quicker.

Consolidating your debt – Another quick way for consumers to improve their credit score is to consider consolidating their credit card debt. This can make it easier to pay down debt and also increase the average age of revolving credit lines, which can help the credit utilization ratio.

Consumers shouldn’t add an installment loan to their credit portfolio “just because,” but if they are in need of a student or personal loan, they may be able to quickly improve their credit score. Creditors want to see that consumers can handle a wide array of debt, so having this type of loan can be beneficial. If consumers are in dire need of improving their score, taking out a small personal loan that they can pay back over time could help.

Using an old card – If consumers have a card that they haven’t used in a while, they can start making purchases with it again. Not using a card for an extended period of time could lead to credit card providers no longer reporting it to the three major bureaus. By simply using an old card, consumers can increase their credit utilization ratio and extend their history.

Source: Debt.com

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Six Steps to an Organized Life

October 27, 2014 4:06 am

With harried schedules, many homeowners fall short on keeping their homes organized. Clutter can create a sense of chaos, preventing families from enjoying time together at home.

Help your family remain stress-free by adopting these organizational habits in and around your home.
  • Before leaving a room, take 30-60 seconds to pick up items that are out of place. This little bit of time will make a huge difference.
  • Arrange objects creatively. Maximize space even if it means hanging hooks on cabinet drawers to hang pot holders or utensils.
  • Labels can be your best friend. Be innovative and use them outside of the office. They are perfect for locating items in the pantry, closet, laundry room and more.
  • Put a weekly pantry and refrigerator cleanout on your to-do list. This gives you time to throw out the old items and empty containers to make clutter-free room for new groceries.
  • Be socially responsible and recycle. Keep a few bins around to recycle your cans, plastic and paper. This is such an easy way to teach children responsibility while keeping the earth clean.
  • Put storage accessories to use. These can range from those that are built into cabinets or even a few strategically placed bins to keep everything together. This is especially great for drawers, making them easier to clean out.
Source: Welborn Cabinet, Inc.

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Seven Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft

October 24, 2014 4:35 am

Identity theft is a fast-growing problem, with multiple, large companies being victimized by major data breaches in the past year – and the pace is accelerating. More than 200 million data records were stolen in just the first quarter of 2014, according to research by SafeNet. One in three people who are victims of data breaches will quickly become victims of fraud, found Javelin Strategy and Research.

"Data breaches continue to be a pervasive problem in the digital age, and we expect that trend to continue," said Scott Mitic, Senior Vice President at Equifax. "Our tendency to share personal information online leaves that information vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves."

Whether viewing this information via computer, tablet or smartphone, your use of modern-day technologies increases your risk for identity theft. Equifax advises consumers to protect themselves by following these tips.
  • Make sure your security software is updated on both your computer and smartphone. Free solutions are available from reputable sources.
  • Keep your phone locked with an access code. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
  • Download the latest software updates for your device to fix security holes.
  • Be on the lookout for email scams.
  • Keep your social media accounts private and don't share common identifying information like your mother's maiden name or your birth date.
  • Use unique and complex passwords.
  • After a data breach, change your passwords, place a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies, close affected accounts and monitor your credit report.
"As we go about our daily lives, it can be easy to forget how the technology we use every day can makes us the target of identity thieves," said Mitic. "But by arming yourself with knowledge and the right techniques, you can help protect your personal information."

Source: Equifax Inc.

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Estate Planning: Digital Rights Explained

October 24, 2014 4:35 am

Unlike Vegas, what happens online goes everywhere and stays there forever. The permanence of our online lives poses a few, often unconsidered challenges for estate planning, especially regarding our social media identity and money invested in digital books or music.

For instance, that moment when a social media post tells you "Bob 'likes' Palatial Pizza" – even though Bob passed away over two years ago. While awkward, is anything at risk? And are there options for a family or friend to take the site down?

What's at risk?
"Every social networking site has its own policies regarding giving a friend or family access to update or take down a site," says Sarah White, an attorney in Marietta, Georgia and part of the Attorney Network for ARAG®, a leader in legal insurance. Choosing to leave a site up puts everyone at risk for some potential drama caused by people (known as trolls in the online world) who may leave insulting or inflammatory comments.

For many families, however, leaving the account open is a good choice. "It's a way to let people know of the passing and to offer a place for people to share thoughts, feelings and memories," says White.

Can I plan ahead?

If you'd like to be more proactive about how your social media identity is managed, check your state law. "Some states allow you to name someone who can take control of, handle and terminate your digital accounts at death," says White. "These new laws override any policy the social networking site may have."

To designate someone as the caretaker of your digital accounts, create a list of your user names and passwords and keep it with your will and final instructions.

What happens to my iTunes and Kindle books?
"The problem with allocating the digital books and songs you think you own is that you don't really own them," says White. "What you own is a license to use the digital files. Specifically, Amazon and Apple grant nontransferable rights to use Kindle books or to listen to songs on iTunes, but you can't pass them to a child or spouse."

Estate planning laws in many states haven't caught up to technology yet. As people spend more money on digital content, the law will soon catch up to technology, enabling that content to be passed on like other property.

Source: ARAG

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Fix Five Sources of Energy Waste for Less Than 20 Bucks

October 24, 2014 4:35 am

With cold weather slated for the months ahead, homeowners everywhere are seeking ways to cut down on energy costs. Black Hills Energy recommends homeowners implement cost-effective fixes – many costing less than $20 – to eliminate sources of energy waste.

“Nearly half of all energy use during the colder weather months is dedicated to heating homes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Jill Linck, Energy Services Division for Black Hills Energy. “We want to arm consumers with simple ways to increase heating efficiency in their homes, as well as to check other, less obvious sources of energy waste, including appliance use.”

In honor of Energy Awareness Month, the experts at Black Hills Energy recommend checking these energy consumers for cost-saving solutions.
  • Air leakage: Air leakage occurs when cold outside air enters and warm air escapes through cracks and openings, increasing the cost of keeping a home at a consistently comfortable temperature. Feel for leaks by floating your hand around the perimeters of doors and windows, electrical outlets, and even cable and telephone line entry points, then seal any problem spots using caulk and a $5 caulking gun. Adding weatherstripping to doors and windows is another low-cost way to keep the winter chill out and the warm air in.
  • Dirty air filters: Dirty furnace air filters can clog and cause higher resistance of air flow, particularly during high-usage months. Diligent cleaning of air filters each month for about $20 with filter spray and oil, and replacing them about every three months keeps warm, clean air flowing throughout a home.
  • Kitchen culprits: It’s hard to resist opening the oven door to check on baking cookies or a Thanksgiving turkey, but did you know the temperature inside an oven drops 25 degrees every time the door is opened while in use? This increases cook time and wastes energy. Instead, turn on the oven light for a peek inside. When using the stovetop, use the right sized pot or pan for each burner – for example, a six-inch pan atop an eight-inch burner wastes 40 percent of the burner’s energy.
  • Duct leaks from the furnace to the vent: HVAC ducts that leak conditioned air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to heating and cooling bills. Sealing seams with duct mastic means a furnace doesn’t have to work overtime to keep your family cozy. Duct mastic is available for under $15 per gallon, and can be applied with an inexpensive paint brush.
  • Thermostat control: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adjusting a thermostat down 5 degrees to 10 degrees while you’re asleep or while you’re out of the house can help you save on heating and cooling bills. Utilize programmable thermostats for when you’re typically out of the house, too. A good rule of thumb is to keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees.
Source: Black Hills Energy

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Five Rules for Teen Drivers

October 23, 2014 4:35 am

Distracted driving has become a national epidemic, and teens are some of the worst offenders. Novice drivers have enough to focus on without added interruptions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and DriveSafe Driving Schools encourage the parents of teen drivers to always set the rules before their teens hit the road.

"We want parents to know that even though their teens might be gaining some independence, the parents' job doesn't end there," said Ben Baron, DriveSafe's owner. "Teens are still kids. They still need rules and restrictions, and believe it or not, parents—they'll listen to you," he added.

Address the five most dangerous behaviors for teen drivers by setting these rules.
1. No drinking and driving.
2. Buckle up every trip, every time, in the front seat and in the back seat.
3. Put down the phone.
4. Follow all posted speed limits.
5. Do not drive around with more than one passenger at time.
Source: DriveSafe Driving Schools

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Six Pumpkin Carving Safety Tips

October 23, 2014 4:35 am

Jack-o’-lanterns are a Halloween staple. Many families share in the tradition of carving pumpkins, but many also experience injuries as a result. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hospitals treat four to five times more hand injuries in October than any other time of year.

Take precautions when carving your jack-o’-lantern by following these steps.

1. Prepare a first aid response. Before starting any pumpkin carving project, have a plan for responding to accidents quickly. If a cut occurs, apply pressure to the wound with a clean, dry cloth. If there are no signs of healing after 15 minutes, go to the emergency room.

2. Use a specialized carving kit. Most pumpkin carving kits come with tools that are not only safer for carvers to use, but more effective at sawing, poking and scooping jack-o’-lanterns.

3. Set aside enough time to get the job done. When carving a pumpkin, slower is better. Make sure you have time to pay careful attention to the task at hand.

4. Carve in clean, dry area. Slippery surfaces can lead to injury, especially when dealing with sharp objects. Keep your area and tools dry at all times.

5. Carve the pumpkin before gutting. To avoid injury, carve your design into the surface of the pumpkin before removing seeds and pulp. This will mitigate the chances of placing your hand inside the pumpkin when cutting later.

6. Have an adult do the carving for children. Do not let children younger than 14 carve pumpkins. Get kids involved by having them draw a face or pattern on the surface of the pumpkin, and have them clean out the inside with a spoon or their hands.

Source: Consumer Reports

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