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

Prevent House Fires and Boost Home Safety with a Few Key Tips

May 2, 2013 1:06 am

Every year home electrical problems cause more than 28,000 house fires and massive property damage. Electrical wiring is the root cause of many of these fires, of which countless could have been prevented. To ensure electrical safety in your home, Constellation, an independent energy provider, is encouraging everyone to review key electrical safety tips.

Faulty or fixed wiring or improper use of electrical cords and other electrical items cause most home fires. Heed the following tips to maximize your home's safety:

• Pay Attention: Flickering lights, buzzing noises, and faceplates that are warm to the touch are all signs that a circuit may be overloaded or wiring may be wearing thin. Each one of those signs is cause for immediate attention from a licensed professional electrician.

• Listen to Your Breaker: If you are continually tripping a switch and having to reset your breaker box, your house is trying to tell you something. There may be a fixture with faulty wiring or too high an electrical load on the breaker. Again, seek professional help.

• Review and Replace: Frayed electrical cords, wobbly ceiling fans, and loose faceplates are more than mere annoyances. You should routinely inspect your home and replace or repair items in need of attention.

• Safety First: Even the best preparation and newest equipment is not a guaranteed protection against fire. Working smoke detectors on all levels of your home is an absolute must. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and you know the proper way to use it.

For more information and safety tips, visit www.esfi.org and www.constellation.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Spring Pest Season Is Upon Us

May 2, 2013 1:06 am

Spring has sprung! As we begin cleaning, it’s important to keep a look out for pets, as ants, roaches, spiders and other pests that overwinter will likely start to become more active in the next few weeks.

"Now that spring has officially begun, and once temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees, pests will begin making their way out in full force," says Matt Peterson, Orkin's Southeast Division technical services manager. "Insects stay in a hibernation-like state during the winter since cold temperatures slow down their metabolism and reproduction cycles, but as the weather begins to warm, their systems start moving again."

Ants
Many homeowners consider ants to be one of the most serious pests. There are more than 10,000 species worldwide, and about 50 of those in the United States. Ants can infest homes by coming in through the tiniest of cracks, and controlling them is difficult because they leave an invisible pheromone trail for others to follow once they find a food source. There are three main categories of ants: nuisance, health (such as fire ants) and structural (such as carpenter ants).

"Another common sign in the spring is a group of ants with wings which can be confused with termite swarms," said Peterson. "It's a common misconception because of their similar appearance. Correctly identifying an ant infestation determines the best treatment method."

Roaches

In addition to entering a home through cracks and crevices, vents and pipes, other items like grocery bags, boxes and purses can transport cockroaches and their eggs. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, if you see one during the day, that means they were likely forced out by overcrowding—a possible sign of a severe infestation.

Cockroaches are filthy pests. They pick up germs on their legs and bodies and can spread disease, contaminate food and cause allergies and asthma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roaches can also carry organisms that cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever and viral diseases.

"Roaches burrow in mulch or bark for the winter," said Peterson. "But since the ground temperature has been getting warmer, you may start to see more and more of them as the temperatures begin to increase."

Spiders
According to a recent Omnibus survey, the biggest concerns with spiders are that "they could bite, sting or attack me" (50 percent) and "they're creepy" (44 percent). However, there are only two species of spiders in the U.S. that are harmful to humans – the brown recluse and the black widow. Most other spiders are just nuisance pests and like to feed on other insects, so if you see spiders around the inside of your home, that could be a sign of a larger pest problem.

"Sanitation is really the most important factor when it comes to helping to prevent spiders," said Peterson. "Some spiders like moisture and others like dry, warm areas."

Peterson recommends the following tips to help prevent ants, roaches and spiders from being attracted to your home:

  • Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows.
  • Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately.
  • Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home.
  • Thin vegetation and do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home's siding. This could provide access for ants and roaches to enter your home.
Source: www.orkin.com.

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Get the House Ready for Guests in 20 Minutes or Less

May 1, 2013 1:06 am

The spring and summer entertaining season has arrived. From Mother's Day brunches and Father's Day barbecues to bridal showers and graduation parties, people host an endless string of events in their homes during this time. However, busy schedules can often make it difficult to prepare for guests and give the house a thorough cleaning from top to bottom.

To help hosts get their homes in order, Bissell partnered with home and lifestyle expert Evette Rios to share quick and easy tips that will have a house guest-ready and fresh in no time.

Rios advises starting with the following tasks: do the dishes, make the bed, clear clutter, and vacuum and sweep high-traffic areas, like the kitchen and living room, to clear up dirt, crumbs and hair. Sprinkle some deodorizing powder on carpets, wait for a few minutes and vacuum as usual. Not only does the powder clean up to three times better than vacuuming alone, it also eliminates odors and leaves behind a light fresh scent.

"While these tasks may seem very small, they make a huge impact on the home's appearance and create a sense of order," Rios said. "It will give the impression that you've spent a lot of time and energy on chores when you've only used a few minutes of your day."

Everyday household items can also double as effective tools for cleaning and freshening. Old socks, pantyhose, cotton swabs and vanilla extract are just a few of the items that Rios cites as her must-haves when she needs to tidy up quickly. An old sock is great for dusting blinds; inexpensive pantyhose from the drug store wipe away residue that collects on decorative candles; and a cotton swab dipped in vinegar cleans hard-to-reach grime in window tracks.

"Some of these tips may seem unconventional, but they really work wonders," Rios said. "One of my favorite tricks to freshen a room is to put a few drops of vanilla extract on an unlit light bulb. When it's turned on, the bulb heats up the extract and lets off a delicious scent. Guests love that the house smells so sweet!"

Whether entertaining last-minute guests or planning an all-out party, hosts with the most will be able enjoy all their events when the stressful task of rigorous cleaning beforehand is made simpler.

Source: BISSELL

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REALTORS Urge Preserving of Homeownership Tax Policies

May 1, 2013 1:06 am

As Congress pursues comprehensive tax reform it should focus on doing no harm to housing and America’s 75 million homeowners by maintaining current tax laws for homeownership and real estate investment, the National Association of REALTORS® said.

NAR President Gary Thomas testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee concerning Federal tax provisions that affect residential real estate. Thomas said that homeownership has had long-standing support in the country because of its many benefits to individuals and families, communities and to the nation’s economy.

“REALTORS® know that homeownership is an investment in your future and for many people, owning a home helps them gain a foothold into the middle class,” said Thomas. “NAR remains committed to preserving the current tax measures for homeownership so that millions of Americans can continue to build the kind of financial security that owning a home can provide.”

In his testimony, Thomas said the current tax code contains housing-related provisions that help facilitate homeownership, build wealth for families and provide stability to communities. Altering these policies could marginalize current and future home buyers as well as jeopardize the nascent housing recovery and the overall economy.

Thomas urged specific support for maintaining the current deduction for home mortgage interest. The mortgage interest deduction helps many families become homeowners, which is the foundation for a healthy middle class, and it is vital to the health and stability of housing markets.

The mortgage interest deduction primarily benefits middle- and lower income families. Sixty five percent of families who claim the deduction earn less than $100,000 per year, and as a percentage of income, the biggest beneficiaries are younger middle-class families.

“The mortgage interest deduction makes sustainable homeownership more affordable for millions of middle-class families; these families are the nation’s backbone,” said Thomas. “Protecting these hard-working Americans should be Congress’ top priority as it pursues comprehensive tax reform. On behalf of our one million REALTOR® members and millions of homeowners, we urge Congress to do no harm to housing.”

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Real Estate Spending Trends - Grounds, Lawn and Landscape Care

May 1, 2013 1:06 am

A new U.S. online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of PLANET, the national trade association of landscape industry professionals, shows that consumers are looking to increase spending on hardscapes (outdoor kitchens, patios, decks, water features, and walkways) and other specialized services (irrigation and lighting). Hardscaping is comprised of outdoor living spaces and paved, non-living components of a landscape.

The study surveyed 2,219 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,830 have a lawn or landscape. Consumers were asked about their spending on professional lawn and landscape services from lawn care and landscape maintenance to tree care, water features, and outdoor lighting.

Overall Spending Trends

While overall consumer spending is expected to remain steady in most categories, landscape maintenance (mowing, edging, leaf cleanup) will see a modest increase in spending ($700 on average in the coming year vs. $600 in the past year), while spending will increase to hire a professional for hardscapes and specialty services ($2,300 on average in the coming year vs. $1,680 in the past year).

“Despite the sluggish economy, our core landscape maintenance services are holding steady, while consumers are deciding to increase their investment in projects that encourage ‘staycations’ and outdoor entertaining, and ultimately improve the resale value of the home,” said PLANET CEO, Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP.

Who is spending the most on landscape services?

Men outpace women when it comes to hiring professional landscape help over the past year (39 percent vs. 32 percent), and younger adults, ages 18 to 34, stand out as most likely to have hired professionals for the building of outdoor living spaces, patios, and walkways over the past year (9 percent vs. 3 percent of those age 35+).

In general, 35 percent of those with a lawn/landscape have hired professionals to do lawn and landscape services over the past year, with those in the South (38 percent) and West (40 percent) being more likely to have hired a professional than those in the Midwest (29 percent.)

Why do consumers find value in hiring landscape services?

The most often cited reasons for hiring a professional for lawn/landscape services are as follows: “They don’t have the knowledge, skills or physical ability” (42 percent), and “they don’t have the right equipment” (42 percent) to do the landscape work themselves.

Interestingly, younger adults (18 to 34) were more likely than their older counterparts to say “don’t have the patience” as a reason to hire a professional.

“Eighteen to 34 year olds might be more digitally connected than their parents, but they are still putting a high priority on outdoor entertainment areas. They are looking to landscape professionals to take on work that is not only time-consuming, but also requires a high degree of expertise to be done well,” added Hickman.

Source: www.loveyourlandscape.com

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Americans Set Higher Standards for Their Communities

April 30, 2013 1:02 am

Americans' expectations for their communities have risen and in some cases changed, according to findings released from the Y Community Snapshot. Respondents rate education and community involvement as increasingly vital to building and sustaining strong communities, a +7.4 and +4.8 percent change from 2012. The survey also found a 30 percent gap between what people say is most important in creating a strong community today and how satisfied they are with their own community's performance in those areas.

Y Community Snapshot participants ranked providing a safe environment for children as the top priority for a second consecutive year. Their local school systems were ranked as the second most important factor impacting their community's strength – up from fifth place last year. In addition, 64 percent of parents believe an educational achievement gap exists within their community, specifically as it relates to an individual's income, status or wealth.

The Y Community Snapshot, commissioned by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), is a consumer survey measuring how Americans view quality of life in their communities nationwide. The survey is based on factors such as community member involvement, and the quality of a community's services ranging from education to promoting healthy lifestyles.

According to the survey, Americans are looking more to education to help improve the quality of life in their community. In fact, five of the top 10 most important community strength drivers focused on education and children. Forty percent of respondents believe that it's the responsibility of schools, colleges and other educational institutions to improve the quality of life across communities.

Additionally, the ability to offer employment opportunities and job training for teens and young adults jumped into the top 10 most important drivers for building a strong community, with an increase of more than 5 percent over last year.

Other key findings include:
  • Public education is the number one area respondents say they would allocate local tax dollars to in order to strengthen their community. Nearly half of parents (46 percent) rate their community's school system or child's school as average or below average in providing the resources, services, people and programs to help students who want or need additional or extra assistance, support and opportunity.
  • Three of four respondents (72 percent) feel the "educational achievement gap" reduces, limits or negatively impacts a young person's chances, opportunity or ability to succeed in adult life.
  • About three-fourths (72 percent) of parents say they currently use or have used some form of childcare (defined as "any service,” excluding personal babysitter, where someone else is caring for your children, including daycare).
  • Over 40 percent (43 percent) of parents who currently use or have used childcare rely upon before or after-school programs or daycare.
Source: YMCA

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Demand for Pet Friendly Rentals on the Rise

April 30, 2013 1:02 am

Findings from a recent Apartments.com survey reveal it is more likely renters could be living next door to a pet owner compared to recent years. This year, 75 percent of renters surveyed said they are pet owners, compared to 43 percent in 2012. These findings align with the improving U.S. economy, according to an American Veterinary Medical Association survey released last year; the difficult economy played a very strong role in the first decline in pet ownership since 1991.

Half of the pet-loving renters surveyed by Apartments.com would like to believe their fellow apartment residents also adore their four-legged companions. Fortunately, it turns out they are not far off, as nearly 60 percent of renters who do not own pets said they still enjoy living around others with pets.

While nearly 65 percent of the pet owners surveyed said they live in a two-bedroom apartment or larger, many indicated they were ambivalent to the size of their space when choosing a pet. In fact, more than 75 percent said the size of their apartment only played "some importance" to "no difference" when picking a pet. The five most popular apartment pets among the pet owners surveyed are:
  1. Cat: 45 percent
  2. Small dog: 38 percent
  3. Medium dog: 21 percent
  4. Large dog: 19 percent
  5. Fish: 6 percent
Budget-savvy renters should plan for costs associated with living with pets, as 63 percent of pet owners indicated they are required to pay a pet deposit. In fact, a majority spend more than $150 annually in deposits and/or monthly fees.

However, deposits and fees do not always cover every type of pet. Renters should be specific in clarifying what types of pets are allowed, as pet restrictions vary from one apartment building to another. In fact, only 28 percent of renters surveyed said they live in a building that has no restrictions on what type of pet they are allowed to have.

The survey also reveals nearly seven out of 10 respondents adopted their pet from a rescue or shelter. As part of this survey, Apartments.com committed to donating $1 for every survey response to North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.

Source: Apartments.com

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How to Recognize and Understand Hidden Fees in Your 401(k)

April 30, 2013 1:02 am

You wouldn’t authorize a company to dive into your checking account at will to withdraw money for undisclosed “services rendered,” right? But according to financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, that’s exactly what many Americans are unwittingly doing.

“While a new law now requires disclosure of previously hidden fees applied to 401(k) plans, it’s up to you, or your financial advisor, to find and review that information and determine whether the fees are reasonable,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc.

By some estimates, up to 90 percent of fees attached to retirement plans are hidden. As of July 1, 2012, the new Department of Labor rule requires all hidden fees attached to retirement plans and mutual funds be disclosed to employers and employees.

Rousseaux offers these tips for examining and understanding retirement plan fees:
  • Trading fees: Trading fees apply to mutual funds, which generally comprise more than half of a 401(k). These previously undisclosed fees are brokerage commissions that are charged to the plan holder every time a fund is traded. The charge is a percentage of the fund’s value, usually ranging from less than 1 percent to less than 2 percent. In some cases, trading fees can double the cost of the transaction. “If your funds are being frequently traded, you may be spending quite a bit on trading fees – in addition to the other fees associated with managing the fund,” Rousseaux says. “If you can’t determine whether the trading fees are reasonable, you should consult with an independent financial advisor.”
  • Revenue sharing: These fees occur when mutual funds and other plan providers pay a third party for administrative services such as record-keeping, which the fund is expected to perform. These may be labeled “sub-transfer,” “agent/sub-TA” or “shareholder servicing” and they’re built into the plan’s expense ratio, so it’s not a double charge. Again, the idea is to review these charges and ensure they seem reasonable.
  • 12 b-1 fees: This term – named for the section in the regulation that allows for it – applies to marketing and distribution costs. They’re generally paid as commissions to brokers who service retirement plans and they also may be paid to non¬investment professionals such as record keepers or insurance companies. Most mutual funds have share classes that provide for varying revenue amounts from 12b-¬1 fees. Brokers and record-keepers have an incentive to use funds with 12b-¬1 fees and to share classes with higher 12b-¬1 fees because they make more money.
Rousseaux notes that it’s also important to look at the expense ration for your plan, which should now be stated in dollars under terms of the new Labor Department regulation.

“Generally, the lower the ratio, the bigger the fund will grow,” he says.

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Tips for Traveling With Pets

April 29, 2013 1:02 am

As more vacationers hit the road or fly the friendly skies with their four-legged friends, hospitality and tourism operators throughout the U.S. are increasingly catering to travelers with pets. But, there are still several important things they'll need to consider before packing their bags.

• Don't wait until the last minute to make travel arrangements: Planning ahead is the key to success when traveling with pets. Allow enough time (ideally, three-to-six months, at least) to make informed decisions about the best way to get there, where to stay, what to bring, and what to do. Try to avoid any stressful, last-minute surprises, which can really put a damper on the vacation.

• Ask the right questions: The term "pet-friendly" is often widely used in the tourism business, so asking the right questions is essential. Does the hotel or vacation rental company charge additional clean-up fees and deposits for pets? If traveling by air, what are the airline restrictions for pets? Also, when zeroing in on where to stay, ask about what pet-friendly beaches, restaurants, parks, etc. are nearby. Try to take the time to jot down questions in advance before asking them.

• Consult the Internet: Today, there are more options than ever before for consumers traveling with pets. However, more choices also means there are more decisions to make. The good news is that the web offers a plethora of information on all aspects of pet-friendly travel. A few good places to start are BringFido.com, FidoFriendly.com, and the AAA Pet Book.

• Pack smart: Traveling with pets and big, heavy baggage can not only be stressful, but expensive, as well, especially when traveling by air. At the same time, there are certain must-have items when traveling with pets, such as dog bowls, beds, pet food, toys, and crates. Find out in advance if the hotel or other accommodation comes equipped with these necessary things to help avoid over packing. One particular advantage to staying in a pet-friendly vacation home versus a hotel is that it is more likely to come equipped with beds, feeding supplies, etc. for pets.

• Take steps to help keep pets happy and relaxed: Before heading out for a long journey with pets, try to create an environment that will help soothe and relax them. Some travelers even find aromatherapy or essential oils in the crate, such as lavender, to be an effective way to put their pets at ease when confined to a small space.

Source: Luv San Diego Surf

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Cool Versus Warm Home Exteriors

April 29, 2013 1:02 am

The popular question in the 1970s was “What’s your sign?” In today’s culture, that question has turned into “What’s your color?” According to national color expert Kate Smith, people tend to identify their personalities with specific colors, all of which fall into either the “warm” or “cool” classifications.

“Just as a person may see themselves as having a ‘cool blue’ personality that is calm, confident and in control, a home exterior also has a color personality,” says Smith, chief color maven and owner of Sensational Color. “A ‘cool’ home may feature blues, greens and purples as the primary colors in the siding, entryway and roofing. On the flip side, a ‘warm’ home exterior would have more focus on neutral colors plus hues in yellow, orange and red.”

Smith recommends trying to match up your own personality with the colors used on the home in order to create a cohesive living environment. “Start at the top of the house with a blend of colors in the roofing tiles to set the overall tone for the home,” says Smith.

“For example, a Canyon blend of brown tones features dark mountain, medium autumn and dark autumn colored slate roofing tiles that reflect a warm personality, while an Aberdeen blend includes dark gray, light brown, dark purple, green stone and dark stone tile colors to mimic a cooler personality. You can then move down the house by picking up complimentary colors for the second most visible aspect of the home--its siding.

“There are wonderful accent variations within cool and warm color families that can contrast with the overall color scheme to provide visual balance on a home’s exterior. For instance, you could have a warm Cambridge blend Bellaforté roof on a home that includes light brown, medium brown, dark stone and dark tan tiles matched up with neutral colored siding. Then, add a pop of a cooler color such as deep teal or hunter green for the shutters, trim and front entryway.”

What’s My Color?
For some homeowners, the challenge starts from within. First, they need to determine whether they have a cool or warm color personality before deciding on their home’s personality.

“If you are an outgoing individual who gets all you can out of life, holds a position that requires some form of leadership and don’t tremble at the idea of public speaking, then you’re most likely a warm personality,” says Smith. “These people gravitate to the colors of tomato red, terra cotta, burgundy or olive.

“However, if you are a trusted friend, volunteer in your community, lead by example and are a natural peacemaker, then you’re likely to be a cooler color like navy, aqua or forest green. Certainly there are different ‘ranges’ on the color spectrum, so it’s possible you and your home could be on the high end of the cool tone with a personality reflected more in shades of electric blue. Or, you may be on the low end of the warm tones with a quieter, shy personality that is attracted to these hues for the warmth, strength and energy they give you.

“There’s definitely a color for every person. The challenge is identifying that color and then reflecting it on the exterior of your home.”

For more information, visit www.davinciroofscapes.com.

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