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

Simple Springtime Air Conditioner and Heat-Pump Maintenance Tips

March 21, 2013 4:04 am

The spring season is the ideal time to prepare cooling equipment for the hot summer months and ensure it operates at its highest efficiency.

"Heating and cooling is the single biggest energy consumer in a home, and accounts for about 40 percent of all the energy used by homeowners," said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI. "That's why taking steps to ensure the unit is running as efficiently as possible can help offset cooling costs this summer."

AHRI offers homeowners the following tips to keep their central air conditioning and heat pump units running efficiently:

• Check the air filter and change it if it's dirty, or according to the manufacturer's recommendation, to keep dust from collecting on the evaporator coil fins. Keeping your filter clean can cut energy consumption 5 – 15 percent. Turn off the power to the air handler before pulling the filter out so that the fan doesn't come on and blow dust throughout the home. Be sure to position the new filter according to the manufacturer's instructions.

• Clear away leaves, grass, weeds, plants, and other debris that block airflow through the outdoor condensing unit, which is the large metal box in your yard next to your home. Anything that collects on the unit's fins will block airflow and reduce its efficiency. Grass clippings thrown by the lawn mower are particularly common offenders.

• Occasionally clean the outdoor condensing unit by spraying it with a water hose.

• Check to make sure air vents inside your home are not obstructed by furniture. Air in your home needs to circulate easily through the vents. Your air conditioner works less when air can circulate freely.
AHRI also suggests that homeowners hire a professional to service their air conditioner. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in the system. Look for a technician that is certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE). You can find a NATE-certified technician online at www.natex.org.

Be sure to insist that the technician:

• Check for the correct amount of refrigerant and test for refrigerant leaks.
• Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system.
• Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems.
• Measure air flow through the evaporator coil.
• Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
• Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously.
• Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary.
• Check belts and oil motors for tightness and wear.

Finally, AHRI recommends that homeowners establish a service agreement with a reputable contractor that will take care of regular spring and fall maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency and catch problems early, before they can become bigger and more expensive. A service agreement also ensures that the homeowner has priority during the hottest and coldest months, when problems are most likely to emerge.

Source: AHRI

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Almost Two in Three Renters Lack Renter's Insurance

March 20, 2013 4:04 am

Only 34 percent of Americans who rent their homes or apartments have renter's insurance, according to a new survey released today by InsuranceQuotes.com, a Bankrate company.

InsuranceQuotes.com also found that 60 percent of Americans incorrectly pegged the annual cost of renter's insurance at $250 per year or more. Twenty-one percent thought renter's insurance cost a whopping $1,000 per year or more. The correct answer (according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners) is $185 per year.

"Renter's insurance is a lot more affordable than most people think," said Laura Adams , senior insurance analyst, InsuranceQuotes.com. "Most renters don't realize that their landlord's insurance usually only covers the structure and not the renter's belongings. And even in a safe area, renters can fall victim to theft, fire, water damage or another calamity. Fifteen dollars a month is a small price to pay in order to protect your possessions and liability in a lawsuit."

The InsuranceQuotes.com survey found that the most common reasons for lacking renter's insurance are "my apartment or rental home has good security" (cited as an important reason by 57 percent of those who lack renter's insurance), "renter's insurance is too expensive" (52 percent) and "my landlord has insurance" (48 percent).

Only 28 percent of those who have renter's insurance received the recommended three or more policy quotes before purchasing.

Source: www.InsuranceQuotes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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New NAHB Study Shows National Consumers Prefer Brick

March 20, 2013 4:04 am

Taking a deep dive into current home buyer preferences, a new study shows that consumers prefer genuine clay brick exteriors on a national scale. Scoring highest nationally among all ages, races, income levels and household types, brick ranked number one over vinyl siding, stone, stucco, wood and fiber cement.

Regionally, brick ranked highest in five out of nine census divisions including the South, West and Pacific areas, but second to vinyl siding in parts of the Northeast and Midwest and trailed stucco in parts of the West. The study, "What Home Buyers Really Want," was conducted online last July by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Economics & Housing Policy Group.

New home buyers ranked energy efficiency as the most important factor — a key brick benefit from its exceptional thermal properties that keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Consumers also indicated how much more they are willing to pay for their preferences. Key findings are summarized in a recent Builderonline article.

"The study shows that home buyers trust brick to deliver on all fronts," said Gregg Borchelt, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA). "From its natural beauty and durability, sustainability, low maintenance, extreme weather resistance and higher resale value, there's no substitute for genuine clay brick," he said.

On a national level, respondents ranked brick highest at 34 percent, vinyl siding at 21 percent, stone at 16 percent, stucco at 12 percent, wood at seven percent and fiber cement at five percent. To get brick, respondents reported they would add $7,500 in additional costs. Ranked by price point, brick topped other home exteriors in the $150,000 - $499,000 range, while vinyl was preferred in the $150,000 or less range; brick ranked second to stone in the $500,000+ range with stucco following in third place.

Although adding a brick front to a house would cost consumers an extra $7,500 over aluminum and vinyl siding and $6,750 more than wood and fiber cement, the study indicated that consumers preferred brick 60 percent more frequently than vinyl and 4.5 times more frequently than fiber cement. Brick was also preferred over twice as frequently as stone, which could be due in part to the fact that the study showed stone as having a 66 percent price premium over brick.

An earlier 2010 study by the NAHB Research Center comparing moisture resistance among typical residential exteriors evaluated genuine clay brick veneer as the highest in moisture resistance and dryness. Of the eight wall systems tested—accounting for approximately 90 percent of the cladding systems used today—brick veneer wall assemblies performed the best overall in controlling moisture.

Source: NAHB

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Rising Gas Prices Spark Demand for Electric Mowers

March 20, 2013 4:04 am

With the cost of gas rising steadily over the past decade, more and more homeowners have been reaping the financial benefits of electric yard care equipment, namely, lawn mowers. According to a Yale University study, the U.S. uses more than 600 million gallons of gas to mow and trim lawns every year and spills about 17 million gallons in the process. With increasing per-gallon gas costs, this translates into a large expenditure for U.S. homeowners.

Industry reports show that sales of electric lawn care equipment are on the rise and will continue to account for a higher and higher proportion of the country's lawn care equipment sales. The cost of mowing is significantly reduced for homeowners who switch to electric mowing. For example, Neuton Battery-Electric Mowers cost just 10 cents to recharge, and a single charge is sufficient for mowing lawns up to 1/3 acre. Electric mowers are also maintenance-free and much easier to use than their gas-powered counterparts. The drop-in/lift-out battery design of the Neuton makes "refueling" a breeze, and push-button starting takes the strain off your arms and back.

For those who own battery-electric mowers, proper battery care is important to minimize replacement costs. Owners should be sure to never fully drain the battery before recharging, as this can decrease its storage capacity significantly. After each use of the mower, the battery should be fully recharged. Do not leave it charging after it is full unless you are sure that your charger protects against overcharging.

Neuton batteries use an auto shut-off charger which charges for up to 14 hours then shuts off. Lastly, remove the battery and fully charge it before storing it for winter, and then charge it again before you start mowing in the spring.

Source: DR Power Equipment

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Smart Picks for Spring Home Improvements

March 19, 2013 4:04 am

Spring is the time to clean up and clear out, and it also marks the official start of home-selling season. "Home prices have stabilized across much of the country, and many Americans will be preparing their homes to show this spring," says Tom Kraeutler, home improvement expert and syndicated radio show host of The Money Pit. "Lots of small touches can make a big difference in everyday livability and cosmetic appeal."

Kraeutler and co-host Leslie Segrete offer the following tips for spring spruce-ups.

Strong, even patching in one step
"Repair a wall three times faster with 3M Patch Plus Primer," says Segrete. "It combines spackling and primer for a strong, even patch in just one step, and once it's dry, you can paint right over it." 3M Patch Plus Primer won't shrink, crack or flash, and keeps a firm hold on nails and screws.

Tame lawns and tackle overgrowth
This season, tame your lawn and tackle weedy overgrowth with a reliable weed eater. Weeding around the perimeter of your home and yard, after cutting your grass each week, will make your yard look tidier and even more appealing to prospective buyers.

Build a beautiful, easy-care deck
"A great deck boosts the value of your home, and you can build a beautiful, easy-care outdoor space with Trex Enhance decking," says Segrete. "It's a high-performance composite with the look and texture of real wood." Caring for a Trex Enhance deck is hassle-free, and Trex Hidden Fasteners give the surface a sleek look at a savings of 40 percent over other deck fasteners.

Minimize moisture in the bath
"Bathroom moisture can lead to mold and mildew, not to mention an uncomfortable environment for bathing or showering," advises Kraeutler. Consider a bath fan to automatically get moisture levels under control, and save energy in the process. Choose a fan that has automatically turns on when it senses a fast rise in humidity, and shuts off again when excess humidity has been removed.

Gear up for project safety
"Doing a project right means doing it safely, with protection for your eyes and ears," says Segrete. Make sure to wear the appropriate protection for both your eyes and ears when tackling a DIY job around the home. Safety should always be your number one priority.

Source: The Money Pit Home Improvement Show

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Green Ways to Beautify Your Home

March 19, 2013 4:04 am

(Family Features) When it comes to improving your home, it's easier than ever to make eco-friendly choices that save you money, are better for the environment and make your home more beautiful. Here are a few easy ways you can go green all over the house.

Light it Up - As you make the switch from incandescent bulbs, it's important to look for a bulb that will not only conserve energy and save money, but that gives you the kind of illumination you want. Look for an alternative with even light distribution, such as 3M LED Advanced Light. It lights up a room as beautifully as you would expect, and lasts for 25 years, delivering energy efficiency without compromise. It uses one quarter of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb and can save you up to $140 worth of electricity over the bulb's lifetime. In addition, it contains no mercury and does not need special disposal. Learn more at www.3MLighting.com/LED.

Decorate with Recycled Materials - Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or want to buy ready-made items, there are plenty of options that keep materials out of landfills. Look for furniture made from reclaimed wood, carpets made from recycled plastic, flooring made from sustainable resources such as bamboo or cork, and wallpaper made from managed timber sources. You can find glassware, dinner sets and accessories made from recycled glass, and textiles like curtains and blankets made from organic fibers.

Save Water with Style - Upgrading your water-using devices can help you use less water and save money. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that products with the WaterSense or EnergyStar labels will cut down on your water usage. For example, replacing faucets and aerators with WaterSense models can save you an average of 700 gallons of water per year. Replacing your showerhead could save 2,900 gallons of water per year, and a new toilet could save you 13,000 gallons of water per year. Look for the EnergyStar label on dishwashers and washing machines - they can use up to half as much water and 40 percent less energy.

Clean Green - Keep your home sparkling clean with eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. Look for products with plant-based ingredients that are free from artificial chemicals, colors and fragrances. And learn to make your own cleaners, too. Baking soda and vinegar are natural products with a lot of cleaning power.

Making some green improvements around your house is easier than you think - and the payoff is a beautiful home and a better environment.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Mortgage Rates Up on Signs of Improving Economy

March 19, 2013 4:04 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey(R) (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates rising this week on stronger signs of jobs growth and consumer spending. The 30-year fixed averaged 3.63 percent, its highest reading since the week of August 23, 2012. The 30-year fixed hit its average all-time record low of 3.31 percent the week of November 21, 2012.

News Facts
• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.63 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending March 14, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.52 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.92 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.79 percent with an average 0.8 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.16 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.61 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.64 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.79 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates rose this week on stronger signs of jobs growth and consumer spending," says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac. "The economy added 236,000 new workers in February which helped push down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent. This helped offset the effects of the payroll tax holiday expiration and led to a 1.1 percent increase in retail sales, which was well above the market consensus forecast."

Source: Freddie Mac

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Too Much Stuff: Helping Kids Cut the Clutter

March 18, 2013 4:04 am

A certain amount of clutter is part of childhood. It’s an artifact of the speed of children’s development and the range of their thoughts and ideas. Trying to keep children too neat squelches creativity and limits intellectual growth. So an obsession with neatness, if that’s your issue, is your issue. Concentrate on keeping things in hand, not with apple-pie-order.

At the same time, great disorder overwhelms a child’s sensibilities. Some children are more susceptible to this than others, and need more clarity in their stuff. Even for more typically mess-tolerant kids, understanding order is the first step towards self-discipline. Montessori knew this. She knew that an orderly environment is essential for intellectual and creative growth.

So what can you do to reduce kids’ clutter without becoming a neat-freak?

Reduce what’s immediately available. With your child, if possible, sort through things and box up stuff that’s not needed right now. Store these boxes in a closet or basement but do NOT fall into the trap of moving toys to rented storage space. No toys are worth their own apartment! The idea here is to make neatness easier by reducing the number of things needing space.

Remove what’s no longer wanted. Be ruthless. Don’t keep toys or clothes your children have outgrown for your future grandchildren or just because you spent a lot of money on it. Move it out – maybe first to boxed storage but then to Goodwill or to friends. Stuff that is broken and unwanted needs to go to the trash. Don’t save it “for parts.”

Replace the old with the new. If something new comes in, something old goes out, to boxed storage or out of the house completely. Some parents keep a 100 Toys list on the computer – the 100 toys that are in the playroom and a child’s bedroom. When something new is added to the list, something else is deleted. This rule requires a lot of self-discipline but it helps when your child is begging for some item to ask him to consider what he’ll get rid of to make room for the new toy.

Restrain new purchases. Not every nifty thing that catches your child’s eye deserves a place in your home. Resist the impulse to buy souvenirs when you travel or “bribe-toys” to shut your child up on a shopping trip. Avoid the necessity to “collect them all.” Recognize this for what it is – a marketing ploy.

Stuff is just stuff and the lifespan of most toys is pretty short. When you do buy toys and things, buy quality items with real play value.

The secret to an uncluttered life is a shift in perspective. No matter how cute and beloved something once was, your family doesn’t owe it anything, least of all a permanent place in your lives. Permanent places are reserved for the people in your family, and maybe for your pets. Inanimate objects must earn their shelf space or give it up.

Help your children to a proper perspective on “things” and guide them in knowing when to let things go.

© 2013, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.

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Signs You Should Part Ways with Your Financial Advisor

March 18, 2013 4:04 am

Everyone hopes that his or her financial business investments go smoothly and that the broker chosen can be trusted to look out for their best interests, yet sometimes, it’s best to know when to call it quits. Here are a few warning signs that should alert you that something is wrong with your relationship with your investment professional:

• Your broker does not return your phone calls.
• The transactions on your statements don't make sense to you.
• Your account statements include transactions you did not authorize.
• You find unidentifiable debits or credits on monthly account statements.
• You see a dramatic drop in value of stock in a short period of time.
• The market is "up," but you're losing money.
• The majority of investments recommended by the broker are declining in value.
• Your broker tells you to view market news as entertainment.
• Your broker fails to disclose important information regarding an investment purchase.
• Your broker begins trading in high risk and speculative investments.
• You are paying capital gains taxes, despite the fact that your account value is decreasing.
• Financial results are markedly different from publicly announced expectations.

If the warning signs start to add up, perhaps its best for your own interests to part ways with your financial advisor and seek other options.

Source: aboutsecuritieslaw.com

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Buyers Value Storage Space, In-Law Suites, NAR Survey Finds

March 18, 2013 4:04 am

Purchasing a home is an important life decision, and many factors can influence the home choices buyers make.

The National Association of Realtors® 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences examines the features buyers prefer when it comes to purchasing a home, as well as the differences in preferences when it comes to factors such as region, demographics and household composition. The survey captures buyers who purchased a home between 2010 and 2012.

Geography and demography strongly influence what buyers value in a home. The typical recently purchased home was 1,860 square feet and was built in 1996. Repeat buyers, buyers of new homes, married couples and families with children typically purchased larger homes. First-time buyers and single women tended to buy older homes. The typical buyer purchased a home with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Slightly over half of the homes purchased were on a single level.

Southerners tend to buy newer homes; they were more likely to want a home less than five years old and in a wooded lot with trees when compared to other regions. Not surprisingly, buyers in the South also placed a higher importance on central air conditioning.

While more than three-fourths – 78 percent – of all buyers purchased a home with a garage, garages were more popular among new-home buyers, Midwesterners, and suburbanites. Forty-one percent of homes purchased had a basement, but this feature was more popular among buyers in the Midwest and Northeast. Northeastern buyers also value hardwood floors more than people in other regions. Southerners typically bought the largest home at 2,000 square feet. Those in the Northeast followed closely behind with a typical home purchase of 1,850 square feet.

Among buyers 55 and older, 42 percent considered finding a single-level home very important, compared to just 11 percent of buyers under age 35. Single women also placed higher importance on single-level homes, while single men wanted finished basements. Both single men and married couples placed higher importance on new kitchen appliances.

Among all 33 home features in the survey, central air conditioning was the most important to the most buyers; 65 percent of buyers considered this feature very important. The next most important feature was a walk-in closet in the master bedroom; 39 percent of buyers considered this feature very important. Closely behind was having a home that was cable-, satellite TV-, and/or Internet ready, as well as an en-suite master bathroom.

When it came to actually buying a home, among buyers who considered central AC and cable-, satellite TV-, and/or Internet ready very or somewhat important, 94 percent bought a home with these features. The next most common feature was an eat-in kitchen; 89 percent of buyers who thought this was important purchased a home with an eat-in kitchen.

Buyers value some features so much that they are willing to spend more money to have them. Sixty-nine percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with central AC would be willing to pay $2,520 more for a home with this feature. Sixty-nine percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with new kitchen appliances would be willing to pay $1,840 more for a home with this feature. A walk-in closet in the master bedroom was the third most common feature on which buyers would spend more. Sixty percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with a walk-in closet would be willing to pay $1,350 more for a home with this feature.

The features on which buyers placed the highest dollar value were waterfront properties and homes that were less than five years old. Thirty-two percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $5,420 more for a home on the waterfront, and 40 percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $5,020 more for a home that was less than five years old.

The rooms that buyers were willing to pay the most for were a basement and an in-law suite. Thirty-three percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $3,200 more for a home with a basement, and 20 percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $2,920 more for a home with an in-law suite.

Source: realtor.org

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