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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Real Estate Spending Trends - Grounds, Lawn and Landscape Care

June 7, 2013 9:46 pm

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

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Easy Ways to Tackle Interior Project Planning

June 7, 2013 9:46 pm

Home remodeling and redecorating can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be an awful lot of hard work. Among the many areas of focus for project work are stages of planning, getting any required licenses or permits, interviewing subcontractors and getting proposals with bids, looking over materials and making selections and making sure the entire project is on track and remains that way through completion. And many people find enjoyment as well as fulfillment with making material selections: choosing just the right color combinations and patterns, the best products and service for the budget and top quality providers to help build your projects. Consider the following suggestions when planning your interior project plans:

1) Budgeting Basics--Start by seeing if you have to completely remodel or if perhaps you can redecorate instead, and save money and time. Remodeling often means ripping apart old structures and then building new ones; like for extra space for a new window or set of shelves or a new room, ceiling or floor. However, with redecorating, you can frequently add simple new structures to those in your existing environment like a new bookcase, new curtains and plush carpeting, or new textured ceiling paint with all paper plus new hanging pictures and plush cushions.

2) Contractors, Invoices, Project Materials and More—Next, you will have a lot of decisions to make: which project materials to buy, which vendors to use, which subcontractors to hire, how to agree to payments, how to handle problems and other important issues and emergencies along the way, etc. So start a project notebook with an accompanying folder specifically for this project. Keep all important documents, receipts, bids, business cards, designs, paint colors, fabric swatches and other info there, to ensure that everything is in one place.

3) Project Parts - Some areas of your project may have sub-categories or basic design elements that will involve work with different areas of focus for each part. For example, you may be remodeling one floor, so you'll have several main areas of focus under this heading like: bedroom walls, hallway and bedroom floors, all window treatments, upgraded lighting and new wood furniture. Use dividers in your notebook, extra folders or extra see-through sleeved pocket folders that fit into your binder to handle these separate areas of focus, so you can concentrate on specific tasks within each area.

With the proper planning, you can choose the easiest and most affordable redecorating or remodeling options that best suit your home's needs.

Source: MyHomeImprovementTips.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Recruit the Kids - It's Moving Season!

June 4, 2013 9:26 pm

With Memorial Day behind us, that means summer is right around the corner. In the real estate industry, everyone knows summer is one of the busiest times to move. It's the most convenient time for families, but what happens when the kids are adamant about not moving?

Planning a move can be hard, but planning a move with children can be even more difficult. When it comes to moving, most children aren't happy abandoning their childhood homes. Author Irene Agapion-Palamaris claims that children can be happy about moving if you prepare them in the right ways.

In her new children's book, Marilyn is Moving, Agapion-Palamaris tells the story of a spunky little girl named Marilyn and her emotions when she finds out she is moving. After her attempts at stopping the move proved to be unfruitful, she becomes involved in the selection process of her new home. It's then when she realizes moving can be fun.

With tips learned as a real estate agent, Agapion-Palamaris tells the story to help children understand the importance of the move. Here are a few tips to help make a move easier on children:

1. Be upbeat about the move from the start. Emotions are contagious. If your child notices your excitement for the move, he or she will feed off of your positive energy and will likely come around quicker.

2. Hold a family meeting to discuss the details and time line. If your children feel that they are an important part of the process, they will be more open to conversation regarding the move. Allow them to help make simple decisions, which will boost their feelings of self-worth.

3. Show the children the new house (if possible). Show your child what his or her new room will look like and offer suggestions for what they can do with the new room. This will increase excitement.

4. Start making plans for the designs of their rooms. What child doesn't like a totally awesome paint job? Let the child choose a color or pattern for the walls. With the correct supervision, children will feel like it really is "their room."

5. Host a moving party with all your children's neighborhood friends. Reinforce that it is not a "goodbye," but a "see you soon." Make plans with other children and their parents for a visit to see the new home. By keeping in touch with his or her friends, your child will adjust to the move more quickly.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Technicians Uncover Critter Hideaways

June 4, 2013 9:26 pm

When spring and summer arrive, homeowners across the country are experiencing overheating dryers or dryers that are not working efficiently.

In many cases, the problem is lint build up. It is estimated that poorly maintained or clogged dryer vents are the leading cause of appliance fires, resulting in more than 15,500 dryer fires every year. These are only the reported cases.

Lint is not the only problem. "Spring is nesting season for birds and all types of small rodents," said Rhonda Nole, a Dryer Vent Wizard franchisee from California. "Dryer vents make warm, fuzzy condos for little critters."

Nole and her technicians, who service Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties as well as Lake and Mendocino, have had more than their share of unusual discoveries from birds, rats, squirrels, and lizards to objects like Barbie doll heads, cell phones, golf tees and more.

According to Nole, it's a mystery how some of these items, including animals, get into vents, even when there are wire screens in place. She revealed how one customer had a rat terrier that would sit and bark at the dryer for hours. Nole described other serious issues she and her technicians have uncovered including bad connections behind the dryer, burnt out wiring and even fires that have already occurred inside the dryer -- without the owner's knowledge.

"Many people are unaware that lint can smolder for hours and eventually result in a flash fire," added Nole, who works to educate customers about proper maintenance and regular check ups.

Homeowners should be aware of problems such as these to prevent fires and even take advantage of energy savings.

Source: Dryer Vent Wizard

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Critical Tips When Purchasing a Latex Bed

June 4, 2013 9:26 pm

The mattress buying season has rolled around again. Google Trends shows that mattress sales consistently spike starting in June and peak in August. As consumers are heading out into the marketplace, here are five things everyone should know about buying the right latex mattress:

- Get 100 percent natural latex for the best results and longest life span.
- Buy from a store that sells only natural latex and knows how to properly blend the right densities and kinds of latex.
- Research the mattress through real customer reviews. Look for at least 30 reviews with a four-star rating.
- Look for a dealer with strong credentials. Pay attention to high BBB ratings and strong customer service ratings and reviews.
- Make sure that the dealer offers rock solid return policies – not a store credit – and that they honor them.

In addition, even the most comfortable mattress in a store may not work once you get home, so it is vitally important to make sure you buy from a retailer that offers a good trial period and a real money back guarantee.

Source: Habitat Furnishings

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Be Prepared for Severe Weather

June 3, 2013 6:12 am

(Family Features) Thousands of people are impacted by severe weather threats every year, yet many are unprepared to handle Mother Nature’s wrath. Before storms strike, families should have an emergency supply kit on hand and a crisis plan in place.

Create a Crisis Plan


Busy families spend most of their days apart, at school, work, sports practices or other activities, so your family may not be together when disaster strikes. Before an emergency occurs, gather your family to make important decisions about what to do in the event of a crisis:

• Establish meeting places in your home, neighborhood and a nearby town.
• Discuss the best ways to communicate. Make sure to share cellphone numbers and email addresses with family members, school personnel and close neighbors.
• Schools, daycare providers, workplaces and apartment buildings should all have site-specific emergency plans that you and your family need to know about. Keep a copy in a readily-accessible location.
• In your cellphone’s address book, label the contact information for one person as “ICE” or “In Case of Emergency.” If you are in an accident, authorities are trained to check phones for an ICE listing.

Keep Emergency Supplies On-Hand

An emergency supply kit is made up of basic household items that become critical in a crisis. Essential supplies include:

• Each family member will need food, infant formula, pet food and water for three days. The average person needs one gallon of water per day for drinking and sanitation. Check your supplies every six months for expired food or water.
• Extra cash and copies of personal documents.
• A battery-powered or hand crack radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert are essential.
• Stock a small toolbox with a flashlight, extra batteries, wrench for turning off utilities, manual can opener, and whistle to signal help.
• A cordless telephone.
• Medications and measuring spoons for each family member.
• Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a safe room in a damaged home.
• Change of clothing for each family member, along with personal hygiene items, diapers and trash bags.

Source: Panasonic

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fixed Mortgage Rates Highest in a Year

June 3, 2013 6:12 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates following long-term government bond yields higher. The average 30-year fixed moved up nearly half a percentage point since the beginning of May when it averaged 3.35 percent. Regardless, mortgage rates remain low historically, helping to keep home-buyer affordability high, which should continue to aid home sales and construction as the housing market continues to recover.

Findings:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.81 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending May 30, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.75 percent.
• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.97 percent.
• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.66 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.84 percent.
• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.55 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates followed long-term government bond yields higher following a growing market sentiment that the Federal Reserve may lessen its accommodative policy stance,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Improving economic data may have encouraged those views. For instance, the Conference Board reported that confidence among consumers rose in May to its highest level since February 2008. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite index for March rose to its highest reading since November 2008 (seasonally adjusted). All 20 cities had positive monthly gains, led by a 3.2 percent increase in Las Vegas."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Reasons to Invest in a Home Comfort System This Summer

June 3, 2013 6:12 am

In 2013 alone, homeowners are expected to spend more than $150 billion on home improvements. This forecast comes from the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. With countless options available, many homeowners are left overwhelmed with the best way to spend their home improvement dollars. New York-based interior designer, author and TV star Cortney Novogratz recommends starting with an investment in home comfort.

“I tell my clients that you can spend a little less on decorative items so that you can really invest in the high-quality systems that are going to make your home functional and comfortable, especially in the summer months,” says Novogratz. “I urge my clients to ask themselves, what’s going to help you live better in your home? Often, that’s your cooling and heating system.”

While known for her eclectic decorating style that mixes high-end collectibles with flea-market finds, Novogratz is no stranger to what makes a home more habitable. She emphasizes that a quality cooling and heating system is one of the most important investments homeowners can make. Novogratz offers five reasons why a cooling and heating system is a smart investment for home remodeling this summer:

1. The impact on comfort. Many homes in the U.S. have cooling and heating systems that result in parts of the house being either unbearably hot or uncomfortably cold. Advanced technology should precisely adjust the temperature to a homeowner’s preference in each room. This allows homeowners to cool the rooms they use the most, while saving energy in less used areas of the house.

2. The utility costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 50 percent of the average home’s energy bill can be linked directly to cooling and heating costs, amounting to approximately $1,100 per year. The right air-conditioning and heating system is the single most significant way a homeowner can save on utility costs, especially in the summer, when cooling costs can skyrocket. Ductless systems avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork, which the EPA estimates can account for more than 30 percent of energy consumption. Homeowners may be eligible to receive a tax credit of 10 percent, or up to $300, for qualifying systems through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

3. The impact on the environment. By using systems that are made of mostly recyclable parts and use an environmentally friendly refrigerant that won’t pollute the environment, homeowners are doing their part to help conserve energy and resources.

4. The way you live in your home. Many times the cooling and heating system is a nuisance. Window air conditioners are unsightly, and traditional systems require extra space to accommodate ductwork, creating awkward room shapes and drop ceilings. Most newer systems can be easily installed in new construction and in older buildings. They can be controlled anytime, anywhere through a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device.

5. The quality of air your family breathes. “What is especially important to me with these systems is that I can be in control of the air my kids are breathing,” says Novogratz. Circulating room air effectively and having multiple allergen filters can greatly improve a home’s indoor air quality.

Source: Cortney Novogratz

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Americans Are Among World's Top Tippers

June 2, 2013 6:12 am

TripAdvisor® announced the results of its tipping survey of more than 9,000 respondents of which 1,600 are in the U.S. According to the survey, 99 percent of Americans tip on vacation and of the group, 57 percent always do while traveling, compared to the average of 43 percent who always tip among seven other countries.

Americans are Likely to Leave a Tip
We asked travelers in local markets around the world how likely they are to tip on trips. Below are statistics on how often travelers from each country surveyed always tip while on vacation:

1. Germans – 69 percent
2. Americans – 57 percent
3. Russians – 53 percent
4. Brazilians – 40 percent
5. French – 39 percent
6. Brits – 39 percent
7. Spanish – 36 percent
8. Italians – 23 percent

TripAdvisor surveyed respondents in eight countries across the globe: U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, and Brazil.

U.S. Tipping Trends
The greatest amount of U.S. respondents (59 percent) tip on vacation when staff go the extra mile.

Tips on Tipping
When traveling to other countries, only 16 percent of U.S. respondents said they always feel they are informed on how much to leave.
To better their knowledge of tipping abroad:

• 73 percent reference travel guides
• 48 percent read online reviews
• 46 percent check online forums
• 35 percent ask friends or family who have visited the country
• 26 percent get the lowdown from the locals

Tools for Tipping
To calculate the gratuity, mental math trumps technology:
• 85 percent calculate the tip in their head
• 18 percent use their smartphone
• 7 percent carry a tip conversion sheet

Tipping Troubles
Sixteen percent of U.S. respondents report they have been asked to leave a tip by staff, nine percent cite they have been confronted about the tip, and three percent admit that a tipping situation has ruined their vacation.

Source: TripAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Foreclosure Inventory Down 24 Percent Nationally from One Year Ago

June 2, 2013 6:12 am

CoreLogic® released its April National Foreclosure Report, which provides data on completed U.S. foreclosures and the national foreclosure inventory. According to CoreLogic, there were 52,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in April 2013, down from 62,000 in April 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 16 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures remained flat at 52,000*, the same number reported for March 2013.

As a basis of comparison, prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.4 million completed foreclosures across the country.

As of April 2013, approximately 1.1 million homes in the U.S. were in some stage of foreclosure, known as the foreclosure inventory, compared to 1.5 million in April 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 24 percent. Month over month, the foreclosure inventory was down 2 percent from March 2013 to April 2013. The foreclosure inventory as of April 2013 represented 2.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage compared to 3.5 percent in March 2013.

“The shadow of foreclosure and distress continues to fade, with the annualized sum of completed foreclosures having declined for 17 straight months,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Six states have year-over-year declines in the foreclosure inventory of more than 40 percent, and in Arizona and California the year-over-year decline is more than 50 percent.”

“The shadow inventory continued to drop in April as the number of completed foreclosures fell by 16 percent on a year-over-year basis,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Fewer distressed properties combined with improving home prices and a pickup in home purchases are significant signals that the ongoing recovery in the housing and mortgage markets continues to gather steam.”
Highlights as of April 2013:

• The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in April 2013 were: Florida (102,000), California (79,000), Michigan (68,000), Texas (53,000) and Georgia (47,000). These five states account for almost half of all completed foreclosures nationally.
• The five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in April 2013 were: South Dakota (81), District of Columbia (100), North Dakota (461), Hawaii (466) and West Virginia (527).
• The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Florida (9.5 percent), New Jersey (7.4 percent), New York (5.1 percent), Maine (4.4 percent) and Nevada (4.3 percent).
• The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Wyoming (0.5 percent), Alaska (0.6 percent), North Dakota (0.7 percent), Nebraska (0.8 percent) and Virginia (0.9 percent).

Source: Corelogic

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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