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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Must-Have Features to Maximize a Home's Profit Potential

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

From crown molding to faux painting to door handles and cabinet handles/knobs with modern finishes, to more obvious upgrades such as appliances, window, counter, cabinet and floor treatments, to swimming pools and surround sound wiring…any functional or beautification enhancement to a home are considerations in establishing its true value and strategic sale price.

Consider these property value-enhancing upgrade ideas from Robert Jenson, a real estate professional from Las Vegas:

- Commercial-grade appliances in a kitchen, along with dual appliances such as ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, add greatly to resale value and are always a desirable upgrade.

- The "outdoor living room" concept is extremely popular right now. Whether a palapa, gazebo or other covered section, an outdoor furnished lounge area complete with wiring for lighting, fans, TV and surround sound, fire pit/fire place, and built in BBQ grill will add tremendous appeal. Water features will take this asset to the next level.

- Other custom upgrades and finishing such as front entry (or panty) doors with decorative glass inlays, decorative wrought iron stairway balusters, and faux painting treatments will readily set a home apart from the pack...particularly a track home in a master planned community.
- Fixtures should be considered even beyond the kitchen and bath. Door handles, for example, with modern finishes such as brushed nickel, are a great way to add custom appeal to an interior.

- Granite countertops need not be reserved for the kitchen. Master bathrooms in particular, if not all baths in the house, should utilize some kind of stone counter—marble, granite, travertine, etc.—for a particularly notable enhancement that is sure to differentiate a home from others on the market.

For homeowners considering an addition or enhancement, speak with a real estate professional to learn more about how you can enhance your property's value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Tips for Enjoying Your Backyard This Spring and Summer

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

As temperatures heat up across the country, you can make sure this is the best summer ever with the following 10 tips, time-savers, water-care ideas, and maintenance and safety suggestions for backyard living.

1 – Safety first. Follow a few common sense rules in the backyard and around the pool. Keep each child within arm's length at all times, designate an adult as water watcher, ensure that the pool's fence is always locked, and install both gate and pool alarms to alert you to unsupervised pool use.

2 – Use plants to dress up the landscape. A bit of backyard greenery can be both pretty and functional. Use shrubs for form, foliage-heavy plants for color, and sturdy perennials for reliability. Plenty of pretty perennials, such as coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, require little tending and offer cheery blooms throughout the growing season.

3 – Add years to backyard furnishings. If mildew spots appear on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric according to manufacturer directions and dry in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and salt; spread on the stain. Dry in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.

4 – Organize backyard toys and tools. Two simple storage rules for keeping backyard clutter to a minimum: air out wet things by storing them in big mesh bags or open-weave crates; toss all the little bits—sunscreen, dive toys, etc.—into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on the fence where everyone can easily find them.

5 – Stay healthy with a water workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can decrease your risk of chronic disease. If swimming laps doesn't excite you, there are other great ways to get moving. Try kickboxing using water as the resistance and enjoy the benefits of strength, endurance and balance. Depending on intensity, a typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up to 600 calories.

6 – Maintain a perfect pool. A pool filled with cloudy water equals no fun. Fortunately, there's a pool-care strategy—circulation, filtration, cleaning, testing and chemistry—that equals a stellar pool season. Maintaining a pool, its equipment and beautiful water requires proper water treatment. Make sure to complete the proper water testing and upkeep a regular care schedule for your pool.

7 – Convert an ordinary salt pool into a backyard oasis. Try using a special blend of minerals, pool equipment protectors, water enhancers and pH adjusters that all work to make silky, relaxing water.

8 – Soak in a sensational spa. A backyard spa can offer the same soothing effects as a professional spa with a few easy, affordable ideas. Place flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.

9 – Make a smaller footprint on the Earth. In order to be more environmentally friendly, make sure to always keep pool chemicals properly balanced. Overworked filters and motors waste energy and hike utility bills.

10 – Help pets swim safely. It may seem like fun to let the dog paddle around, but before you let a pooch jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting himself. Also check with the vet—swimming in a pool should be appropriate for the breed. Finally, make additional time to monitor the pool's water. A typical dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.

Source: www.bioguard.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Factors to Consider When Pricing a Home

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

Most sellers have an emotional connection to their home and feel it deserves top dollar when sold. Everyone naturally wants to get the most money for his or her product, but "sellers must not be hasty with this all-important decision," cautions real estate expert Robert Jenson, CEO of a Las Vegas real estate group.

"The most common mistake that causes sellers to get less than they hope for is listing the sale price too high. Overpriced properties languish on the market, and most end up selling at a lower price than would have been realized had it been priced properly in the first place."

To help would-be sellers foster maximum profits with their real estate transaction, Jenson offers this advice for establishing a fair, competitive and marketable sale price for a home:

Square footage: Total square footage is an important consideration when establishing a home's sale price, but this is usually just a starting point for buyers who will use it to narrow down the field, but make an actual purchase decision based on many other factors.

Location within community: Quiet cul-de sacs, golf or water frontage, and lots that offer privacy are value-adds that can justify a higher sale price over other homes in a community or be leveraged as an advantage against competing listings.

Views...or lack thereof: Whether it’s the ocean, a downtown skyline, the mountains, water or some other desirable landscape, buyers are willing to pay a premium for views, and a home should be priced accordingly. Just be realistic—views that can only be seen from the second story bathroom window don't count.

Upgrades and features: For a home to sell quickly and for the price desired, it must be "finished" with as many structural and interior design upgrades as possible. Any functional or beautification enhancement to a home are key considerations in establishing a home's true value and strategic sale price.

Community amenities: Guard-gated communities or those with amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool or fitness center are elements that raise a home's price per square foot. When pricing a home without these benefits, know whether you are competing against other homes that do offer such value adds so that you can price your home as aggressively and competitively as possible.

Comparable sales: Don't price your home based on price per square footage of other home sales in your community three or more months ago, as these don't offer a realistic portrayal of current market conditions. Focus on prices of active listings to hone a competitive pricing strategy.

Professional appraisal: Want to sell the home quickly? Price it at or below the appraised value as buyers are educated, are shopping deals, and will recognize your fair price and be more apt to pay it with less haggling.

Current mortgage conditions: Lenders now require higher credit scores and higher down payments, which can cash strap buyers holding out for the best deal possible. Savvy sellers will understand the mortgage industry's impact on the buyer and will price accordingly.

If you price your home fairly and reasonably, you'll have a greater chance at selling your home faster and for more money. Take these suggestions into consideration to perfectly price your home for the market.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Nearly One-Third of U.S. Homeowners Feel Motivated to Make Home Renovations Due to Improving Economy

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

With the housing market slowly bouncing back in many communities, homeowners are looking to make improvements to their properties. A new CouponCabin.com survey reveals that nearly one-third (32 percent) of U.S. homeowners feel the improving economy is motivating them to make home improvements that they wouldn't have done during the recession. Overall, more than six-in-ten (64 percent) U.S. homeowners report they are at least somewhat likely to make home renovations or improvements like re-tiling a floor, installing new carpet or re-doing a bathroom in the next 12 months. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com from April 3-5, 2013, among 2,232 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,389 are homeowners.

Some homeowners are more willing to invest in home projects now because they're feeling more secure financially. Nearly four-in-ten (38 percent) U.S. homeowners feel the improving economy has made them less nervous to spend money on home renovations.

Seasonality can also be a factor in motivating homeowners to spruce up their abodes. Nearly nine-in-ten (87 percent) feel spring is the ideal time to make home renovations or improvements. Home improvement stores are bound to be busy in the months to come, as 82 percent of those U.S. homeowners who plan to make home renovations or improvements in the next 12 months will shop at a home improvement store.

"Many homeowners have held off on home improvements over the past few years, but are cautiously making changes as the economy strengthens," said Jackie Warrick, senior savings adviser at CouponCabin.com. "No matter the size of the job, home renovations can be costly. It's important for homeowners to carefully approach projects and choose to do renovations that are most likely to raise the value of their home overall."

Whether it's a simple project like painting or a more complicated one like gutting a bathroom, the price tag for home renovations can be high. When it comes to how much homeowners are going to fork over for home renovations in the next 12 months, the survey reveals the following:

• Under $1,000 – 26 percent
• $1,000 - $4,999 – 49 percent
• $5,000 – $9,999 – 15 percent
• More than $10,000 – 11 percent

For some homeowners, getting their hands dirty can offset pricey home renovation costs. Nearly six-in-ten (59 percent) U.S. homeowners who are at least somewhat likely to make renovations in the next 12 months plan to do the work themselves. Those who aren't hiring a professional indicate the reasons for doing the work themselves include wanting to save money (68 percent), enjoying home projects (53 percent) and not trusting anyone else to do it (11 percent). Sixteen percent of those who will not be hiring a professional report that they'll have a friend or family member doing the home renovations.

Source: CouponCabin.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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FHFA Extends HARP to 2015

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to extend the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by two years to December 31, 2015. The program was set to expire December 31, 2013.

“More than 2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP, proving it a useful tool for reducing risk,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “We are extending the program so more underwater borrowers can benefit from lower interest rates.”

In addition, FHFA will soon launch a nationwide campaign to inform homeowners about HARP. This campaign will educate consumers about HARP and its eligibility requirements and motivate them to explore their options and utilize HARP before the program ends. HARP is uniquely designed to allow borrowers who owe more than their home is worth the opportunity to refinance their mortgage. Extending the program
will continue to provide borrowers opportunities to refinance, give clear guidance to lenders and reduce risk for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and taxpayers.

To be eligible for a HARP refinance, homeowners must meet the following criteria:

-The loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

-The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.

-The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously, unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March - May, 2009.

-The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent.

-The borrower must be current on their mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.

Borrowers should contact their existing lender or any other mortgage lender offering HARP refinances. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 2.2 million borrowers refinance their homes since HARP was introduced by FHFA and the U.S. Department of the Treasury in April 2009.

Source: FHFA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Energy Efficient Homes Are Lower Mortgage Risks Says New Study

April 8, 2013 9:42 pm

It's a well-known fact that energy efficient homes save their owners money but now a new study shows that they're also better mortgage investments. The report, titled, "Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks" found that homes with lower HERS Index Scores were deemed as low mortgage default risks, and that on average, mortgage default risks were 32 percent lower on ENERGY STAR labeled homes that were rated by a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater. The University of North Carolina's Center for Community Capital, and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) officially released the report on March 19, 2013.

The report is based on a study using a sample of 71,000 mortgage loans, compiled from across 38 states and the District of Columbia. CoreLogic, the lending industry's leading source for such information, provided the data and the sample was restricted to single-family, owner-occupied homes whose mortgages were contracted during 2002-2012. RESNET supplied both the addresses and the homes' HERS Index Scores to the University of North Carolina for the purposes of this study.

The impact of the report promises to be far-reaching, especially to consumers, with recommendations such as:
- The lower risks related with energy efficient homes should be taken into consideration when underwriting mortgage loans.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA should:

-Encourage underwriting flexibility for mortgages on energy efficient homes.

-Promote energy efficiency to consumers and their lenders.

RESNET Executive Director Steve Baden, who took part at the news conference and congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. when the report was released, said of the study, "This is a real game changer. The finding that the lower the HERS Score, the lower the mortgage risk should increase consumer, builder, lender, real estate agent and appraiser confidence in the HERS Index Score. In light of these findings, RESNET calls on the mortgage industry to rationalize the underwriting process to take in consideration energy savings in the mortgage loan."

Source: RESNET

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Netwatch Offers Six Tips for Vacant Home Protection

April 8, 2013 9:42 pm

Metal theft continues to attract thieves across the country. Among the targets most often hit are recently foreclosed and vacated homes. These sites pose challenges to owners and banks who attempt to ward off would-be copper thieves, squatters and intruders. While unsalable homes are still a relatively small part of the national inventory of foreclosed properties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the worse the economy is in a particular region, the more damaged and vandalized foreclosed homes are likely to be.

Netwatch USA offers six tips to prevent vacant or foreclosed homes from falling victim to copper theft or potential occupation by trespassers or squatters:

• Keep up with lawn care and exterior maintenance. This will not only increase curb appeal once it’s ready to sell, it will also let would-be trespassers know that the house is regularly visited and may, in fact, be inhabited. Be sure to keep gutters clean, snow shoveled, and the lawn mowed. Be sure to remove all ladders and tools after maintenance to prevent them from being used for break-ins.

• Park a car in the driveway. If you have an extra car, keeping it in the driveway can be enough to make the house look inhabited. You may also want to ask a trusted neighbor to park in the driveway.

• Invest in automatic interior and exterior lights. Keeping pathways, doorways, and interiors well-lit may scare off potential burglars. Consider automatic lights for the exterior and lights on timers for the interior.

• Lock up your circuit breaker. Effective lighting and certain surveillance equipment requires electricity, so lock the door to your circuit breaker. If kept unlocked, thieves can easily access the breaker and cut off the electricity, therefore disabling lighting and some traditional burglar alarms. To minimize electrical fire risk, turn off all unnecessary electrical circuits.

• Manage where the vacant property’s address is published. Until the property is ready to sell, keep the address as private as possible. Thieves will access lists of vacant homes, which will make it easier and more efficient for them to find and break-in to homes.

• Check that you have the correct type of insurance. Confirm with your insurance company to see if your policy needs to change now that the property is vacant. More often than not, carrying construction companies’ risk policy will adequately cover you from copper theft and vandals.

“Abandoned homes are, by their nature, a challenge to protect and are especially vulnerable to copper thieves,” said Netwatch CEO David Walsh. “Simply nailing plywood to windows and doors is not enough to scare off intruders and can easily be removed by saws and pry bars. Protecting your property with an effective surveillance system along with proper security measures will discourage potential copper thieves."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Freddie Mac Streamlined Modification for Delinquent Borrowers to Start July 1, 2013

April 8, 2013 9:42 pm

The following statement was released by Tracy Mooney, senior vice president, Servicing and REO, Freddie Mac:

"The Streamlined Modification will open a new gateway to mortgage relief for many of America's struggling borrowers. Starting July 1, 2013 servicers will proactively offer eligible borrowers a Streamlined Modification, which can cut monthly mortgage payments by as much as a standard modification but with less documentation. We look forward to working with our servicers to implement the Streamlined Modification initiative, which underscores our commitment to keep more financially troubled borrowers in their homes. Freddie Mac has helped an estimated 2.6 million families avoid foreclosure through mortgage modifications or refinancing since the housing crisis began."
News Facts:

• The Streamlined Modification will target borrowers who are at least 90 days delinquent on mortgages that are at least 12 months old, and meet other eligibility criteria.

• Eligible borrowers are not required to submit documentation, but can accept a Streamlined Modification offer simply by making the trial period payments. The modification becomes permanent once the borrower demonstrates their ability to pay by completing the trial period.

• The Streamlined Modification offers the same mortgage terms as the Standard Modification Freddie Mac announced in September 2011, which enables servicers to reduce a borrower's monthly mortgage payment by adjusting interest rates, extending payment terms to 40 years, and providing principal forbearance for certain underwater borrowers.

• Detailed guidance implementing the Streamlined Modification can be found at FreddieMac.com.

• Freddie Mac and its servicers have helped more than 785,000 distressed borrowers avoid foreclosure through mortgage modifications, forbearance, repayment plans, short sales and deeds-in-lieu since 2009. Freddie Mac has also helped more than 1.8 million families make homeownership more affordable through the Freddie Mac Relief Refinance program, which includes the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Year's Worth of Money & Energy-Saving Tips

April 5, 2013 9:42 pm

By John Voket

In the continuing pursuit to help homeowners save money while helping to make the world a little greener, I tapped The Alliance to Save Energy, which recently posted a dozen ways you can make your home more energy efficient in 2013 (ase.org).

Among those ASE saving ideas are:

New Year, New Light Bulbs - Replace old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient lighting like new CFLs, halogen incandescents or LEDs – to save between $50 and $100 a year in energy costs.

Spring is Here - Get ready to open up your home to new, efficient windows. Replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you up to $1,000 annually.

Don't be a Fool for Energy Vampires - Outsmart the energy vampires in your home by unplugging what you're not using. Use a smart power strip for automatic savings.

Think Global - In honor of EE Global 2013, share one of the other tips with an international friend, family member, or associate to help save energy worldwide.

Cool Off - Make sure your AC equipment is in top running order, since cooling puts the greatest stress on your summer energy bills.

Keep the Heat Out - Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking, and be sure your house is properly insulated to save up to 20 percent on energy bills.

Back to School Savings - If you and your kids are out at school and work, install a programmable thermostat – or even a smart thermostat – to raise your home's temperature while it's empty. This can reduce energy bills by up to 10 percent.

Temperatures Drop, and so do Bills - Keep the temperature of your water heater at 120 degrees, and insulate the hot water storage tank to save money on heating costs.

End the Year on a LOW Note - You made so many energy-saving changes this year, give yourself the gift of a home energy assessment to see how much more energy you can save next year!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spring Brings New Life to the World and a New Look to Your Home

April 5, 2013 9:42 pm

As animals slowly begin to wake from hibernation and the cold weather recedes with spring's first flowers, homeowners start to think of ways to improve and beautify their home in concert with the awakening of the natural environment around them. Spring and summer are often the best times to update your home's exterior painting because the most severe weather of the year has passed and it may be time to repair damage that was caused by this weather.

There are many reasons to consider home painting, but four of the main motivations that drive homeowners are:

1. The increase in real estate value
One of the best ways to increase your home's market value is with exterior painting. Compared to renovations and remodeling, house painting is a much cheaper alternative. According to Remodeling Magazine, the average cost of a complete kitchen remodel in 2012 was $57,000, compared to an average of $3,000-$5,000 for exterior home painting (CostHelper.com). Although pricing may vary, you can see that the potential return on your investment is much greater with exterior home painting.

2. Enhancing your home's curb appeal
Like the feeling of wearing a new favorite outfit, your home will be dressed up and ready to shine with a new coat of exterior paint. It can help your home stand out in the neighborhood and have people slow down to look at your beautiful new exterior! If you're looking to sell your home, boosting curb appeal is a great way to attract the interest of potential home buyers.

3. Protection of your home's exterior
Many people forget the protective qualities that paint provides. It adds a layer of protection against harsh weather, especially ice and snow, and acts as a seal to keep out moisture from the rain.

4. Supplying new life to an old home
Exterior house painting could be the perfect option for you if you have been looking for a way to reinvigorate your home with the splendor that was felt when you first moved in. Changing your home's exterior coloring could even provide you and your family with a more positive outlook on life in general; your bright and beautiful newly painted home will be ready and waiting for you after a long day.

Painting the exterior of your house on your own may not seem like a difficult task to undertake at first, but hiring a professional painting company is also one of your many options.

Source: College Pro Painters

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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