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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
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Peter Cerruti

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6 Safety Tips to Remember This Thanksgiving

November 24, 2015 2:43 pm

Whether your home is playing host on Thanksgiving or you’re gathering elsewhere with family and friends, safety hazards do exist. The most common risk? Fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In fact, three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on a typical day.

“A combination of factors collectively increases the risk of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “People are often preparing multiple dishes with lots of guests and other distractions, which can make it all too easy to forget what’s on the stove. That’s when cooking mishaps are most likely to occur. A little added awareness about potential fire hazards and taking a few basic precautions in the kitchen can go a long way toward keeping your Thanksgiving fire-free.”

Those precautions include the following:

1. Remain in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and keep a close eye on what you fry! Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Regularly check on food that’s simmering, baking or roasting, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.

2. Keep items that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels and curtains away from the cooking area.

3. Be alert when cooking. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

4. Double up on disposable aluminum pans if using to cook a turkey. This will help avoid puncture and dripping liquid, which can cause an oven fire.

5. Avoid using a turkey fryer. The use of turkey fryers can potentially lead to devastating burns and other injuries and the destruction of property due to the large amount (and high temperature) of oil used. If you prefer a fried turkey, look for grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants that sell deep-fried turkeys.

6. If necessary, smother small fires with a lid. If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stovetop and decide to fight the fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Source: NFPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Mortgage Delinquency Rate Falling

November 24, 2015 2:43 pm

The mortgage delinquency rate, or the rate of borrowers 60 days or more delinquent on their mortgages, is sliding downward as housing continues to move toward a more balanced market, according to a recent TransUnion Industry Insights Report. In fact, the mortgage delinquency rate has declined nearly 30 percent in the last year alone, and 65 percent from its 2010 peak.

“The decline in serious mortgage delinquencies is continuing and even ramping up, with steadily increasing absolute drops over the last year,” says Joe Mellman, vice president and head of TransUnion’s mortgage group. “We believe this is due to a combination of factors, including strong performance by recent vintage mortgage loans, improving home prices and the continued funneling of delinquent accounts through the foreclosure process.”

According to the report, the rate is dropping across all age groups, with millennials and those aged 60 and older at least risk for delinquency, and every state across the board is experiencing yearly declines.

“This is now the third straight quarter where we’ve not only seen year-over-year mortgage origination growth, but also significant increases in the higher risk populations of near prime and subprime—hinting at a loosening of credit and/or a change in the mix of borrowers seeking mortgages,” adds Mellman.

Source: TransUnion

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Steer Clear of Pothole Damage

November 23, 2015 2:43 pm

Over the last five years, half of car owners experienced damage to their vehicles as a result of potholes – and poor road conditions have cost the insurance industry and consumers at least $27 billion over the same period, according to a recent survey by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) and Trusted Choice®.

To help motorists avoid costly pothole damage this winter and beyond, the organizations recommend:

• Keeping an eye on traffic patterns. A number of cars that slow down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.

• Avoiding the urge to swerve out of the way of a pothole at the last minute. You may swerve into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Risking damage to your car is wiser than risking the loss of your life or that of another person.

• Pulling over as soon as it is safe if you hit one. If you notice damage, record details and specific damage—just as you would in the event of a collision with another motorist—in case you need to file an insurance claim.

• Reporting potholes to your state or local transportation department. Some states and localities have pothole hotlines.

Motorists who think their state or local government will pay for damage to their cars may be out of luck. Laws in this area vary by jurisdiction and, even where such remedies are available, conditions may apply, such as a requirement that the jurisdiction had notice of the pothole.

Source: IIABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Credit Scores Nationwide Make the Grade

November 23, 2015 2:43 pm

Confidence abounds nationwide as the country moves toward a more balanced economy, with the overall national credit score registering higher in the last year, according to the Experian® State of Credit study.

“If I were to give a grade to the overall picture of credit in the United States, I would give it an A minus,” says Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics and new business development at Experian. “I’m optimistic about the state of credit as we are seeing more loans being extended, late payments are decreasing and consumers are continuing to gain more confidence in originating loans. There definitely is growth and momentum—we’re back to prerecession levels in nearly every category, which means lenders are in a prime position to capitalize on this market and foster business growth.”

Per the study, the national VantageScore® credit score moved up by three points in the last year, from 666 to 669. Instances of late payments, including bank card and retail, decreased by 4.4 percent in the last year and 17.3 percent since the height of the recession in 2010. Average debt is up 2.1 percent to $29,093 per consumer.

“Knowing where you stand from a credit perspective is critical to improving or maintaining your financial well-being. Everyone should understand the value of having positive credit references,” says Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education. “Reports like this one provide an avenue to build awareness and help consumers across the nation think about how they can make positive changes in how they manage credit.”

Source: Experian

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Turned Down for a Mortgage? Read This before Reapplying

November 23, 2015 2:43 pm

Turned down for a mortgage? You’re not alone. Many borrowers are finding it difficult to navigate lending requirements and reapply for a loan to buy a home, despite significant improvement in the housing market.

If your mortgage application was rejected, take heart. Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency, says prospective homebuyers can successfully reapply if they consider the following factors:

Cash Flow – One of the primary roadblocks to obtaining a mortgage is cash flow. At a minimum, borrowers need a 3-percent down payment and about $1,500 for closing costs. They must also take moving and ongoing maintenance costs into account, including utility deposits, appliances, a lawn mower, curtains and other miscellaneous expenses. As a general rule, prospective homebuyers should have at least $10,000 saved before shopping for a home.

Credit – Many young people today haven’t used credit, aside from student loans, so lenders have difficulty assessing their ability to pay back the home loan. Borrowers who fall into this bucket need to focus on building a positive credit history with three trade lines, such as a credit card, auto loan and signature loan, for at least two years before attempting to reapply.

Lifestyle – Many consumers assume if they can qualify for a loan, they can afford a house. With lenders approving 31 percent of gross salary for a house payment and 43 percent for all debt service, it’s easy to buy a house one can’t afford. It’s important to remember the mortgage is only part of the financial picture. Ongoing costs such as commuting, utilities, HOA fees, landscaping and general home maintenance need to be seriously considered, as well. It’s wise to limit house payments to 28 percent of gross income, and all debt service to no more than 34 percent.

“Many individuals and families are ready to pursue their dreams of homeownership after overcoming financial struggles, but they don’t always have a clear picture of what it takes, or how a mortgage could impact their long-term financial picture,” says Sullivan. “The more knowledge they obtain before entering the lending process, the better.”

Source: Take Charge America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How Household Spending Changes in Retirement

November 20, 2015 2:40 pm

On average, households spend less once they retire—but not all households, and not in the same ways, report analysts at the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). In fact, according to a recent EBRI study, nearly half of retired households actually spent more than they did just before retirement. That spending, however, declines over time—by the sixth year of retirement, just a third spend more than they did pre-retirement.

“We also found that households that spent more in the first two years of retirement were not exclusively high-income households,” says Sudipto Banerjee, research associate at EBRI and author of the report. “Rather, they were distributed across all income levels.”

Furthermore, the median household had a home mortgage payment before retirement, but none after, indicating paying off a mortgage could be a factor in the timing of retirement, according to the study.

Other findings include:

• In the first two years of retirement, median household spending dropped by 5.5 percent from pre-retirement spending levels, and by 12.5 percent by the fourth year of retirement. The spending reduction slowed down after the fourth year. 

• In the first two years of retirement, two in five households (39.3 percent) spent less than 80 percent of their pre-retirement spending. By the sixth year of retirement, a majority (53.1 percent) of households did so. 

• In the first two years of retirement, 28.0 percent of households spent more than 120 percent of their pre-retirement spending. By the sixth year of retirement, 23.4 percent of households still did so.

Source: EBRI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

November 20, 2015 2:40 pm

Average fixed mortgage rates remain largely unchanged as analyst expectations turned from world events to the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) October minutes, Freddie Mac recently reported. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.97 percent with an average 0.6 point; the 15-year FRM averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 point.

"Treasury yields stabilized about 5 basis points below last week's level as the market shrugged off economic data and world events and turned its attention to the minutes of the October FOMC meeting,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate ticked down a basis point to 3.97 percent. The FOMC minutes were couched in careful Fed-speak, and early market reaction was mixed, with most analysts reading their own expectations into the minutes."

Additionally, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.5 point, and the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.64 percent with an average 0.3 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Renters Have Spoken: Apartment Dwellers Favor Walkability, Concierge-Style Service

November 20, 2015 2:40 pm

Just shy of 40 million Americans call an apartment home—and according to recently released research, many are seeking amenities rivaling that of a five-star hotel. Amenities found in the research, compiled by the National Multifamily Housing Council/Kingsley Associates 2015 Apartment Resident Preferences Survey, include walkable neighborhoods, package pick-up services and online rental payment options.
“There have been 1.6 million new renter households created in the past five years,” says Rick Haughey, vice president of Industry Technology Initiatives with the National Multifamily Housing Council. “Many of these new residents are making a lifestyle choice to rent instead of buy and are thus looking for personalized services and amenities. The apartment industry is stepping up to provide those experiences.”
While many factors are considered during an apartment search, some of the most important concern location convenience and community amenities, the research found. Apartment renters have strong opinions about walking versus driving to their regular destinations:

• Walking wins over driving for getting to the grocery store (by 7 percentage points);
• Walking wins over driving for getting to a restaurant or bar (by 6 percentage points for both); and
• Walking wins over driving for getting to public transit (by 19 percentage points).

Conversely, driving is preferred over walking when:

• Traveling to work (by 24 percentage points);
• Traveling to school (by 7 percentage points); and
• Traveling to a college or university (by 6 percentage points).

Package pick-up services are also favored by apartment renters, according to the research. Currently, 88 percent of management offices accept packages for residents, and 72 percent of residents want a package storage or holding area. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say they are not willing to pay for a package locker, but if there were a charge, they would expect to pay around $20 per month.
In addition, 78 percent of apartment renters would like to the option to pay rent online, and 63 percent were interested in paying rent with a credit card.
Source: NMHC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Social Security Sweet Spot: Deciding When to Claim Benefits

November 19, 2015 2:40 pm

Many of us plan to claim Social Security benefits upon reaching full retirement age—but according to a recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), knowing exactly when to claim benefits is unclear. In response to those findings, the CFPB has released “Planning for Retirement,” an interactive tool designed to help individuals before making a claim.

“Millions of Americans are likely to face financial insecurity in their retirement years,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Deciding when to start claiming Social Security benefits is one of the most important financial choices a consumer will make. The CFPB’s ‘Planning for Retirement’ tool can help consumers clearly see their options.”

According to the report, many Americans collect Social Security benefits early, despite living longer. On average, Americans reaching age 65 today will live to age 85, meaning they’ll likely need sufficient income and savings to cover 20 years or more in retirement. Additionally, approximately two-thirds of the nearly 40 million Americans aged 65 and older who receive Social Security benefits depend on it for 50 percent or more of their retirement income. For a growing number of beneficiaries aged 80 and older, Social Security benefits account for 70 percent or more of their income.

Americans are eligible to claim Social Security retirement benefits without any reduction at their “full retirement age,” according to the Social Security Administration. For people born after 1942, full retirement age ranges from 66 to 67, depending on the year the person was born. Individuals can also claim their benefits several years before, agreeing to take less money each month, or they can claim several years after and get bigger monthly checks.

Generally, the amount an individual receives from Social Security is a one-time choice. This means if an individual claims the reduced or increased benefit, they receive that amount for the rest of their life, with annual cost-of-living adjustments.

The tool can be found at


Published with permission from RISMedia.


7 Steps to a Safer Home for the Holidays

November 19, 2015 2:40 pm

Gearing up for guests this holiday season? If so, now’s the time to ensure your home is safely outfitted for company. According to the remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), homeowners who expect visitors, especially elderly individuals, should assess their homes for hazards, and, if necessary, increase accessibility to accommodate their needs.

“Welcoming loved ones to your home is a cherished holiday tradition,” says NAHB Remodelers Chair Robert Criner, a remodeler from Newport News, Va. “By making some simple home modifications, you can ensure that family and friends will enjoy a comfortable visit and be able to maneuver around your house without trouble this year.”

Steps to take include the following:

1. Secure rugs and carpets. Secure area rugs with non-slip pads or double-sided carpet tape so that they are snug to the floor. Temporarily remove throw rugs, including bathroom mats, to prevent guests from tripping on the edges.

2. Test stair railings. Check that stair railings inside and out are tightly fastened. Make repairs where needed.

3. Turn up the lights. Put night lights in bathrooms, the guest bedroom, hallways and in the kitchen. Make sure there is a lamp or light switch within reach of the guest bed so that your visitor can keep a light on until safely tucked in. Well-lit outdoor walkways and entrances are also important when coming or going at night.

4. Clear outdoor walkways. Rake leaves, salt for ice and shovel snow from sidewalks and driveways to prevent falls.

5. Add non-slip treads or a mat to the shower. Be sure the shower your guest will use has a non-slip floor. To enhance traction, apply non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat.

6. Offer the best seat. Choose the best seat for your guest’s comfort—not too high, not too low. A firm cushion can prevent them from sinking too low in to the seat, and arms can help a person easily get up and down.

7. De-clutter. Move objects or even furniture that a person usually has to maneuver around. Secure cords to the wall or baseboards with hooks to prevent tripping. Clear stair steps of any objects, such as shoes, books, and other personal items, that tend to collect on the lower treads.

Source: NAHB

Published with permission from RISMedia.