RE/MAX 440
Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Nearly 100 Million Americans Will Travel at Year-End

December 22, 2014 2:54 am

According to AAA projections, the amount of travelers during the year-end holiday period (December 23 to January 4) will grow by 3.8 million this year, signaling positive economic circumstances for an increasing number of families. With almost 100 million Americans set to travel, this upward trend marks the highest growth rate since 2009.

Low gas prices continue to help boost disposable income this holiday season, with today’s national average price of gas at $2.55 per gallon, 69 cents less than a year ago. Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip. Just 5.7 million will use airplanes as their main mode of transportation.

The calendar is also having a positive effect on the number of travelers expected this year. Because Christmas lands on a Thursday, travel season is one day longer than last year’s, offering more options for departures and return trips. This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules.

"'Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. "While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession.”

Source: AAA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Stay Organized at Home over the Holidays

December 22, 2014 2:54 am

Holiday parties, travel and shopping leave little room for keeping a household in order. Before the guests (and gifts!) arrive, stay organized by setting up smart solutions in key areas of your home.

Kitchen
– To avoid cluttering up your counter, get into the habit of immediately displaying, filing or recycling holiday mailings. Store papers you want to keep in a central location so that you will remember to revisit them later. If desired, create a space for displaying holiday cards.

Living Room
– When unpacking and packing your holiday decorations, eliminate items that you no longer use from your inventory. Keep your decorations in clear, plastic containers with other seasonal decor so that they can be easily identified next year. If you don’t have a space for storing gift wrap, use a narrow workstation with wheels so that it can be carted away and kept in a closet.

Mudroom
– Prepare for mess from winter weather conditions and a steady stream of holiday visitors by installing coat and shoe storage. Consider using vertical solutions to keep your floor free of clutter.

Garage – Stock up on items essential for winter weather, including salt, firewood, de-icer and shovels. Take advantage of wall space by installing a hanging pegboard.

Source: HomeFinder.com

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Plumbing in Pre-Owned Homes: What Buyers Need to Know

December 22, 2014 2:54 am

While shopping for a home, most buyers can easily point out peeling paint, outdated appliances or a dirty carpet. What most buyers won’t notice are plumbing issues. Though a standard home inspection will cover the basics, like water damage and water heater safety, other common issues often go unreported. Buying a home with a history, in particular, can present sewer-related challenges for potential new owners.

If you’re in the market for a pre-owned home, keep in mind these four factors when evaluating the home’s plumbing.

1. If it happened once, it will happen again.
Homes with past plumbing issues have a high probability of failure in the future. “The roots from the same problem tree will continue to grow back,” says Larry Rothman, director of Plumbing Services for Roto-Rooter, citing a common example. Re-occurring problems should be resolved before completing the sale of the home.

2. Sump pump problems can go unnoticed.
Despite being a standard requirement for new construction, not all pre-owned basement homes have sump pumps to prevent flooding. If it hasn’t rained recently, any sump pump issues may remain hidden. A thorough inspection of the sump system, water heater and sewer line can save a prospective buyer thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement.

3. Sewer line inspections are not generally included in standard home inspections.
Homebuyers regularly waive this extra inspection in the purchasing process because it requires an additional cost of anywhere from $250 to $550. Additionally, many buyers do not know that responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality. Whatever the reason for skipping a sewer line inspection, buyers should reevaluate foregoing this important step when making a deal.

4. Sellers do not have to disclose information about plumbing problems.
Ask questions! Learn when the home was built; if it is 25 years or older, it is more likely to have non-plastic pipes that may be deteriorated. Take note of mature trees, visible root growth and cracked concrete and ask if they are related to any persistent pipe problems.

Source: Roto-Rooter

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Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Spike on ‘Super Saturday

December 19, 2014 2:54 am

More than half of holiday shoppers have gifts left to purchase by the time ‘Super Saturday’ arrives – the last Saturday to shop for holiday gifts before Christmas, according to a survey from RetailMeNot.com.

For many of these last-minute holiday shoppers, it’s not simply a matter of running to the store to purchase one remaining gift. Nearly 1 in 5 shoppers surveyed admitted to waiting until Super Saturday to begin shopping for all of their presents.

The survey also found:
- Financial reasons are less likely to spur last-minute holiday shopping, with less than 25 percent reporting that they weren’t waiting due to lack of savings.

- Nearly half of consumers (43 percent) report waiting until the 11th hour because they didn’t know what to get their intended recipient.

- Thirty percent of consumers waited to shop because they received an unexpected gift and felt the need to reciprocate.

- Forgetfulness is also a factor, with more than a third of consumers reporting that they forgot to buy a gift.
Source: RetailMeNot.com

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How to Safely Remove Snow from Your Property

December 19, 2014 2:54 am

Shovels aren’t the only things residents in snowy regions need this winter.

Upwards of 115,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices or clinics last year as a result of snow removal-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Before digging out after a snowstorm, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends residents review these safety tips.
  • Push snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow and lift it with your legs. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
  • Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
  • Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, seek immediate emergency care.
  • Follow instructions while snow blowing. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.
  • Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds. Consider unplugging the snow blower. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
  • Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
Source: AAOS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What 3% Down Payments Mean for Millennials

December 19, 2014 2:54 am

Following a move by mortgage lenders to loosen standards for homeowners, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will begin backing home loans with down payments as low as three percent. This could bode well for the millennial generation, many of whom have yet to own their first home.

“This is exactly what our industry needed to propel millennials into homeownership for the first time and to keep Main Street growing and thriving,” said Don Frommeyer, CEO of NAMB – The Association of Mortgage Professionals.

Under the new programs, first-time homebuyers and low- and moderate-income individuals who finance a fixed-rate mortgage can expect a less stringent lending process as opportunities for loan approvals without the required five percent down payment become readily available.

Applicants seeking the lower down payment must demonstrate an ability to repay the loan, secure mortgage insurance and attend pre-purchase counseling.

Source: NAMB

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Financial Habits You Should Adopt Today

December 18, 2014 2:54 am

There’s no better time than the present to alter your financial situation, and consumers can cement their futures financially by adopting smart habits.

“Being mindful of your financial goals and knowing how credit works are important tools to effectively managing personal finances,” says ACA International CEO Pat Morris. “Good financial habits can help ensure a sound financial future, and being armed with knowledge can help you maintain that all-important good credit score.”

To practice better money management, ACA International recommends the following:
  • Protect personal information. Be cautious when giving out credit card, bank account or Social Security information over the phone or online. Require a certain level of authenticity from the third party. Monitor accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card provider. If you believe your identity has been stolen, check your credit report for activity and contact your local police department.
  • Understand credit and use it wisely. When used properly, credit can be helpful when determining eligibility for things like home mortgages and auto loans. Too often, it becomes a difficult burden for households struggling to make payments. Know the terms and conditions of your credit cards, shop for low interest rates, make payments on time and understand the ramifications of making a late payment or missing a payment. Learn the ins and outs of credit reporting and its impacts on building a good credit score.
  • Communicate with creditors. Don’t ignore calls or letters from creditors or debt collectors. If you are having trouble making payments, contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangement options to make things more manageable. After confirming with the debt collector that the debt is indeed yours, discuss applicable repayment options. Don’t be intimidated – legitimate debt collectors want to help you.
  • Know your rights. Consumers have important rights when contacted by a creditor or debt collector. Visit www.askdoctordebt.org, a free and anonymous resource for more information about credit.
Source: ACA International

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Seniors: Stay Safe at Home This Winter

December 18, 2014 2:54 am

Wintery conditions can cause major problems for homeowners, especially when power outages threaten safety. Concerns spike for seniors who are particularly vulnerable to cold weather hazards. Brooklyn-based home healthcare provider All Heart Homecare Agency recommends that seniors take note of these guidelines for a safe season.

Exercise regularly – Consistent physical activity mitigates your risk for trips or falls. Elderly individuals who frequently build their fitness have a much smaller possibility of injuring themselves when snow and ice hits.

Dress warmly – If inclement weather is in the forecast, be prepared. Wear layers and cover your extremities with gloves and a hat to withstand chill. Proper footwear is also important to prevent icy slips.

Stock the pantry – Keep your home stocked with enough food to withstand a prolonged power outage or storm. If you require nutritional counseling, it may be smart to have a home health aide on standby.

Prepare any vehicles – Snow tires are essential for residents in blizzard-prone areas. Pay close attention while driving or cease driving altogether during a snowstorm unless it is an absolute emergency. Keep warm clothing, blankets, hand warmers and food in your vehicle at all times.

Source: All Heart Homecare Agency

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Most Popular Design Trends in 2015

December 18, 2014 2:54 am

What once was old is now new again at home, according to a report recently released by Zillow Digs®. The report, which combines data from a survey of leading interior design experts and an analysis of the most popular photos on Zillow Digs, anticipates the resurrection of wallpaper and mid-century modern accents in the coming year.

“Home design will embark on a dramatic shift in 2015, moving far away from the bright jewel tones and overused chevron and ikat patterns that took 2014 by storm,” says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs design expert. “Unexpected textures and an eclectic, modern vibe are about to find their way. Expect to see a more sophisticated look in 2015.”

The most popular home design trends include:

1. Wallpaper
"Wallpaper is coming back in a big way," says Zillow Digs designer Jamie Beckwith of Beckwith Interiors. From digital prints to textured wall coverings, this trend is primed and ready to take off in 2015. Expect to see a rise in available color and texture selections in home stores to accommodate the increased demand for patterned or textured accent walls.

2. Modern, Mid-Century Modern Elements

Mid-century modern elements will weave their way in to 2015 home decor – from architecture to furniture—and will be one of the biggest up-and-coming design styles. While this trend will be popular, Zillow Digs experts advise homeowners to be careful when integrating into homes, as the trend shouldn't overwhelm the house.

3. Gold Fixtures
Reminiscent of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, this retro statement hardware color will make a comeback in 2015 with a new modern twist: bright gold with a sleek finish for extra shine. Homeowners will no longer be limited to silver or stainless steel fixtures, and will feel free to mix and match finish colors, or go bold with all gold.

4. Cowhide Accents
Cowhide is the ideal accent texture for 2015's modern, approachable design aesthetic. Zillow Digs designers say cowhide will find its way into pillows, rugs, throw blankets and artwork. Its neutral hue and natural texture make it the perfect complement for bolder statement pieces.

5. Shades of Blue

Blue will be the most popular accent color and is the perfect complement to Marsala, the 2015 Pantone® Color of the Year, according to the Zillow Digs designers. "Pops of indigo blue or deep navy will become a staple in home design this year, as their deep natural hues become extra vibrant against warm earth tones like Marsala," said Zillow Digs home design expert, Kerrie Kelly.

Source: Zillow

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Don't Slip Up - Renter's Insurance Isn't Just for Possessions

December 17, 2014 2:54 am

About once a year I get a reminder from Peter Frascarelli, CPIA, president of PIACT - the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. He has often discussed how renters insurance covers personal items in the event of damage from a variety of events.

If your belongings encounter smoke, broken water pipes, electrical surges, vehicle damage, vandalism, windstorms or an explosion, many renter's insurance plans can cover replacing or repairing items.

However, Frascarelli says, there are some restrictions on what renters insurance will cover.

Generally, natural disasters like earthquakes and flooding are not covered, although most insurance companies offer additional coverage for these situations.

But the most important point Frascarelli makes is regarding renter's liability exposures. Did you know if someone twists an ankle on the wet bathroom floor, the renter is responsible for covering the treatment for the injury.

All the more reason for both current and prospective renter's policyholders to double-check to ensure your policy will cover the medical payments for the injured person, and up to what amount.

One way to ensure you are compensated for any belongings you may lose in a fire, storm or other catastrophe Frascarelli says, is to take an inventory of all possessions.

Your inventory should list each item, its value and serial number. Photograph or videotape each room, including closets, attics, cellars, storage buildings and your garage.

Keep receipts for major items in a fireproof place. And, keep several copies of your inventory and receipts in another location.

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, according to Frascarelli.

Just like any other type of homeowners insurance policy, a renter's insurance premium will depend on a number of factors: where you live; your deductible; your insurance company; and whether you need additional coverage.

To save the most on premiums, Frascarelli says consider increasing your deductible - and ask about discounts for protective devices including smoke and fire detectors and burglar alarms.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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