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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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Association of REALTORS Offers Homeowners Tips

April 3, 2013 9:42 pm

Attention to detail and proper preparation can alleviate much of the stress and save time for first-time home buyers.

Coby Crump, president of the Lubbock Association of REALTORS® said to keep personal finances, the bigger picture, and professional assistance in mind to make for a smooth sale.

Before even beginning to look at the first house, Crump said, it would behoove buyers to sit down and consider their financial situation.

"You can waste a lot of time if you view homes without knowing what you can really afford," Crump said.
In addition to monthly payments and a down payment, it is important to consider property taxes and insurance. A REALTOR® can be beneficial in assessing one's finances.

"When considering finances, be sure to get pre-approved for any loans," he said. "This allows the comfort to search for homes in a buyer's price range. It can also show a seller that he or she is interested and serious, and can allow for an offer to be made quickly."

Crump added to keep the bigger picture and ultimate goal in mind when faced with annoyances or hiccups in the process. Be realistic and be prepared to make minor concessions.

"You don't have to set low expectations about your home purchase," he said. "Just know that you may need to give a little on one of your search criteria."

With all hiccups or potential problems, it is helpful to have professional assistance; and this includes a professional inspector and a REALTOR®.

A professional inspector can determine what needs to be repaired or replaced. A REALTOR® will prove to be an invaluable partner for the duration of your buying experience. A REALTOR® belonging to the National Association of REALTORS® is held to a high standard of ethics.

"Your REALTOR® will look out for your best interests and help you find your ideal home while helping you to avoid making mistakes you could regret," Crump said.

Source: Lubbock Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spring Cleaning and Curb Appeal

April 3, 2013 9:42 pm

Spring is here and many homeowners are looking to revamp their curb appeal. What simple steps can be taken to improve your home’s value besides reviving your gardens? By updating or repairing your roof you can upgrade your curb appeal by 40 percent. Here are a few tips on how to protect your roof this spring as well as new trends and styles that will make your roof stand out and increase the value of your home.

1. Start off by checking the roof framing structure to make sure it is not compromised. Visually scan the roof for any sagging or uneven areas.

2. Inspect the gutter systems to make sure they are not clogged with branches, leaves, or other debris.

3. Make sure that gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure so that they don’t cause overflow and build-up or fall off the fascia board.

4. Check the valleys of the roof to ensure that they are also free and clear of debris that can add weight to the roof and also act as a barrier to rain.

5. Metal flashing should also be used around roof vents, pipes, skylights, and chimneys. One of the most common causes for roofing leaks is due to problems with flashing.

6. Walk around to carefully inspect the shingles on the roof – look for curling edges, missing granules, etc.

Source: Alyssa Hall, GAF

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top Financial Tips for People with Dementia

April 3, 2013 9:42 pm

For people living with dementia, these top tips are the first step in encouraging people, their family members and caregivers to think about what they need to do to future-proof the management of their finances. Tips include a variety of strategies from arranging a power of attorney and applying for the correct benefits, to organizing bank accounts.

"Dealing with finances when you are living with dementia can be a minefield. People in the early stages of the condition often feel locked out of the system, with all the many passwords and personal details they are expected to remember," said Angela Rippon, co-chair of the Dementia Friendly Communities Champion group and Alzheimer's Society ambassador. "When a carer takes over, the pressure of getting to grips with power of attorney and trying to make decisions in the best interests of a loved one can be very stressful."

The following may help you or your loved one living with dementia better organize and plan for their financial well-being.

Top tips for managing money if you are living with dementia


1. Discuss money management with your family - Money can be a difficult subject to talk about but it's important that you plan how you want your finances to be managed if you became unable to look after it yourself.

2. Make sure that all important papers are in order and that you know where to find them. These might include bank statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, a will, tax and pension details and bills or guarantees.

3. If you have financial assets, such as property or savings, you can set up a trust. This ensures that the assets are managed in a way that you choose, both now and in the future. There are a number of different kinds of trusts and ways of arranging them.

4. Set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA). This enables you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things such as paying bills and collecting income when you no longer want to make those decisions. It's important you set up an LPA early so that you can give your full and informed consent.

5. Speak to the local bank manager. The discussion can look at extra support that may be available as your condition progresses and ways of managing money e.g. using a signature card instead of a PIN number.

Top tips for caregivers managing the money of a person with dementia

1. Make sure your loved one is receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled. Contact your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions or Citizens Advice Bureau to find out exactly what should be being received. As a caregiver, you may also be entitled to benefits such as caregiver's allowance.

2. For some, a joint account may be a useful way of managing finances in the early stages of dementia. However, most joint bank accounts are set up to operate only when both parties have capacity to use it. If a bank knows that someone is acting as a lasting power of attorney, they will usually want a separate bank account for that person.

3. Separating your account when it comes to paying for care it is also advisable. This is because a local authority ought to be means testing the person who is in receipt of the service (e.g. home care or residential care), and no one else.

4. Protect your loved one's finances by stopping junk mail and unwanted telephone calls by signing up to the Mailing and Telephone Preference Services. Put a "no cold callers" sign on the door. These can be obtained from the local trading standards department and will help prevent door-to-door salesmen from visiting.

Source: Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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More Women are Flying Solo to See the World

April 2, 2013 9:40 pm

So you’re a woman and you want to see the world – on your terms. Join the crowd! More and more women are traveling alone or with girlfriends; an estimated 32 million in the past year, according to the Travel Industry Association.

“It’s the new trend in travel and, really, it’s a no-brainer,” says Ruth Yunker, an intrepid solo traveler and author of “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” a humorous recounting of her extended stay in Paris as part-time resident, part-time tourist. “Women hold the purse strings, so to speak, and we don’t necessarily want to see and experience our travel destinations in the same ways men do.”

The numbers tell the story:

• 28 million single women ages 35 and older – a growing demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Earnings for women with a college degree have increased 31 percent since 1979 while men’s grew just 16 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• In 2011, 28 percent of married women made more than their husbands, up from 17.8 percent in 1987.

If you’re a woman who has dreamed of taking off on a safari, jaunting across Europe or sampling fried seahorses in Beijing, Yunker offers valuable advice:

1. You are dying to travel. You have a list of 10 favorite places you’re going to get to … one day. Buy the airline ticket six months in advance. A non-refundable ticket. Don’t fret. Don’t get stopped by all the details. Just do it. There. You’ve taken the first step. You can, and will, worry about all the other details later. But with this ticket, you are now on your way.

2. Bring a few creature comforts from home. I bring my own pillowcase for the airline pillows, my ragged at-home comfy wear instead of new nightgowns for the hotel or apartment, and a clipboard for working crossword puzzles.

3. Pack only clothes you currently actually wear. Do not buy a ton of new clothes for the trip. A suitcase packed with new clothes is a trip doomed to tears. The old clothes fit you now. You know without thinking how to look pulled together. The new clothes are uncomfortable. They don’t go with anything yet, and they scream brand new traveler!

4. Bring some currency from your destination country with you. Do it. Everyone will tell you otherwise. They’ll say it’s so much cheaper to change your money once you get there. Maybe. But in the mayhem of the airport, suitcases going in every direction, do you really want to be finding the currency exchange? Just getting to the hotel/apartment will be job enough. So do arrive with Euros or whatever currency you need. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, just enough to ease your arrival.

5. Once at the hotel, unpack your toilet articles and arrange them in the bathroom in the same order you do at home. It makes things easier. It’s so nice to be able to leave the hotel/apartment without having had a meltdown looking for misplaced mascara.

Source: www.ruthyunker.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Help 2.7 Million with Foreclosure Prevention Actions

April 2, 2013 9:40 pm

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed more than 540,000 foreclosure prevention actions during 2012 with 130,000 in the fourth quarter alone. This brings the total foreclosure prevention actions to nearly 2.7 million since the start of conservatorship in 2008, including more than 1.3 million permanent loan modifications. These actions, which have helped more than 2.2 million borrowers stay in their homes, are detailed in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s fourth quarter 2012 Foreclosure Prevention Report, also known as the Federal Property Manager’s Report.

The quarterly report has information on state delinquencies and an updated, interactive Borrower Assistance Map for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, with information on delinquencies, foreclosure prevention activities and Real Estate Owned (REO) properties.

Also noted in the report:

-The number of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac delinquent borrowers declined 14 percent in 2012 as mortgage delinquencies dropped in every state except New Jersey and New York.

- Foreclosures continued a downward trend with foreclosure starts in the fourth quarter falling to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2008.

- 46 percent of troubled borrowers who received loan modifications in the fourth quarter had their monthly payments reduced by more than 30 percent.

- More than one-third of loan modifications completed in the fourth quarter included principal forbearance.

- Over 32,600 short sales and deeds-in-lieu were completed in the fourth quarter, bringing the total for 2012 to nearly 141,500.

- REO inventory continued to decline as property dispositions outpaced property acquisitions during the fourth quarter.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $5.7 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions.

Source: FHFA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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48 Percent of Homeowners Forgo Calling 811 Before Beginning a DIY Digging Project

April 2, 2013 9:40 pm

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, announced results from a recent survey that found 48 percent of American homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects that include landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox or building a deck, pond or patio, will put themselves and communities at risk by not calling 811 to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities increases the likelihood of unintentional damage, which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair costs. An underground utility line is damaged every eight minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to CGA data.

There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the United States, according to data compiled by CGA from various industry groups. That figure equates to more than one football field's length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller's information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

This national public opinion survey of 624 homeowners, conducted Feb. 28 – March 5, also found that 85 percent of homeowners would require a contractor to call 811 before digging on their property, even though nearly half (48 percent) of the homeowners themselves would not call 811 in advance of a digging project they would perform.

The survey also identified the top reasons why people who do not plan to call 811 before digging thought they did not need to make this phone call. Among survey respondents who plan to dig this year but don't plan to call, 56 percent said that they felt they already knew where utilities were buried on their property; 49 percent did not think they would dig deep enough to come in contact with utility lines, despite the fact that utilities can sometimes be just a few inches below the surface due to erosion and other topography changes.

As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

-Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.

-Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.

-Confirm with your local one call center that all lines have been marked.

-Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at www.call811.com/faqs.

-Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.

-If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't marked.

Source: CGA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Remodeling Your Children's Rooms

April 1, 2013 9:40 pm

The room is empty, the bed is made, and even stranger--it's dead silent. When your children move away to college or their own apartment, the question remains: What should you do with the room they leave behind? Remodeling unused bedrooms is a great way to deal with the changes in your household, plus, you can utilize the space into something far more practical than if you kept the room as your child left it.

Talk to your children and ask them what furniture they'd like to keep for the future and what can be thrown away. What belongings need to be saved? Can some be moved into the attic or basement for storage? If your child is only away at college (as opposed to a more permanent move), tailor the remodel after his or her personal taste. Color choices and style can be made with the child in mind, yet still be given a fresh new look.

Furthermore, here are a few examples of what you can do with the extra space:

Home offices are always great to add to your home. Whether you have a business, use it for work or simply for bill paying, an office is a great way to continue keeping your home (and its paperwork) organized and clean. A computer desk and chair, shelves, bookcases and cabinets will be a great start for any new office.

A game room will provide entertainment for years to come. With a few tables and a few games, you'll have a running start to an entertainment-based room. You may even want to add a mini-fridge or shelving for assorted snacks and food stuffs. It can be simple, but fun at the same time.

Alternatively, your game room can double as a media room as well (size depending). Do you love movies or have a guilty pleasure of television? Add a TV, surround sound system and a couch to continue entertaining your guests with. Large DVD cases can be purchased to display all of your CDs, DVDs, books and more. During the week, your entertainment room can also be a reading room and place of rest. The options are endless.

Cancel that gym membership and create your own personal exercise room. If you love working out and love it even more so from the comforts of your own home, consider purchasing a couple exercise machines, yoga mats and work out DVDs. Don't forget about a CD player or iPod speakers--the motivation to any solid work out!

These options only scratch the surface of what you can do with your extra space. Turn any hobby of yours into a room of personal paradise. Painting rooms, sewing rooms, large walk-in closets, and more can be used from the space left behind by your newly adult children. Renovating will be an exciting and rewarding project for you to take on--one that will match your interests and give your home a fresh feel.

Source: Relocation.com Blog

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Tips for First-Timers Buying a Property at an Auction

April 1, 2013 9:40 pm

In a time of growing repossessions around the world, auction purchases are becoming an increasingly common way to purchase property. Auctions are recognized as one of the best places to find a bargain buy, as well as providing a quick, secure and straightforward transaction process, with minimum fuss and in a completely transparent environment that is ultimately decided by the drop of a hammer.

Once you have achieved the first step of deciding to actually purchase a property at an auction, the next stage—as it is whenever you attempt to purchase property—is to make sure you’re prepared. If you’re planning on attending an auction, heed the following tips for a smooth transaction.

1. State of Mind

No matter how calm a person you may think you are, buying property at auction can be daunting as well as exciting. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and feel overwhelmed, so the last thing you want to do is panic and end up bidding too high for something and exceeding your budget. It's always advisable to have a maximum amount in mind before you go to the auction.

It is also recommended that you attend at least one auction before you attempt to purchase, allowing yourself to soak up the atmosphere and to familiarize yourself with how the whole thing works.

2. Property View
Once you're comfortable with the auction environment and you have chosen the auction that you wish to attend, the next essential thing to do is request a catalogue to view the properties available. Then, arrange with the auctioneer to see the properties you’re interested in.

The auctioneers will have allotted times for each property. Although bidding on and buying a property you've never seen before may sound exciting, the chances are it will prove costly one way or the other. Remember, there's no point in purchasing a house at a knock-down price if it needs knocking down.

3. Researching the Property
Make sure you thoroughly research the property and compare its price and condition to similar properties in the area listed with local estate agents. You will very often find that the guide price of auction properties are set relatively low in order to entice bidders, so have in mind what you think the true market value of the property is…then bid accordingly.

4. Legal Matters
There’s normally a legal pack on the property you’re interested in available from the auctioneers. It is essential that you digest this thoroughly and if you're unsure about something, have a solicitor go over it; there may be more concerns with an auction property than that of one on the open market.

5. Finances
The completion period for auction properties is 28 days, so it is vital that you have your finances set up before hand, whether it's making sure you have the cash available or a mortgage set up in principle. A 10 percent deposit on the property is always required on auction day. It's not unusual for buyers to lose their deposit because they couldn't come up with the rest of the balance.

6. Auction Day
As well as having your 10 percent deposit on the day of the auction, make sure you also have identification documents. What’s more, auctions can be crowded affairs, so get there early if you want a seat. When the time comes to bid, make sure you can be seen by the auctioneer and that he or she is aware of when you're actually bidding, as opposed to scratching your nose.

7. Bide your Time while Bidding
Finally, what the whole build-up comes down to, bidding for the property of your choice. Bidding at auction is a strange sensation; it's exhilarating and extremely daunting, especially as the pressure mounts and you are bidding for something that is popular and a number of other bidders get involved.

Stay as calm as possible, think clearly and bide your time while bidding. Remember to not exceed the maximum figure that you have set for yourself; it can be very tempting to go over budget, particularly if you've invested a lot of time and effort prior to auction. A good way to avoid this is to take someone with you who will help keep you in check.

If you’re bidding on a property and it fails to meet its reserve price, this doesn't necessarily mean it is the end of the matter. The auctioneers can still act as agents and are able to negotiate between you and the vendors after the auction. Likewise, it is sometimes possible for a deal to be tied up prior to auction, so it may be worthwhile checking this possibility out with the auctioneers beforehand.

By familiarizing yourself with the auction process, you can increase your chances at coming out a winner with a new home in hand.

Source: TheMoveChannel.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Organizing Tricks for Every Season

April 1, 2013 9:40 pm

The start of a new season means that it's time to clean up the house, swap out clothes in your closets, and break out the seasonal tools in the garage. Check out the following tricks that will prepare any homeowner with the organizing skills necessary to keep everything tidy year-round.

Store it in the fall

1. Garden tools and pots: Hose off dirty gardening gear and stack pots in tiers. For pots with fragile surfaces, layer newspaper between vessels to protect from scratches and chips. Outdoor garden storage benches and cabinets are also great for storing tools and pots over the winter. To find gear easily come spring, group like items together.
2. Summer clothes: To free up precious closet real estate, measure the number of feet of hanging space your clothes take up and get a garment rack wide enough to accommodate it all. Stow in a dry basement or attic. And be sure to clean clothes before putting them away—even if they look spot-free. Stains that seem invisible can oxidize over time and be hard to get out if left untreated.
3. Beach towels, picnic blankets, outdoor linens, and tableware: Clear the linen closet of summer beach towels and outdoor tablecloths and place mats; stash in giant plastic tubs. Cradle outdoor dishes and cups on top. Park the bin in a basement or attic.

Store it in the winter
1. Garden rakes: Hang long-handled rakes and garden tools from a pegboard. Affix the board to any garage or shed wall, leaving about an inch of space between the wall and the board to accommodate hooks.
2. Seasonal decorations: Stow jack-o-lanterns and cornucopias in opaque bins—clear bins let in light, which can damage memorabilia. Seasonal bins, which can be found at discount stores, are a great way to store items for specific holidays so that you can quickly and easily tell what’s for Halloween or Thanksgiving.
3. Bikes: There are many types of bike racks; some mount into studs on the wall, others mount from a track system. Check out your options and choose one that works for your space. Hang it in an empty spot on a wall in the garage.

Store it in the spring
1. Boots: Stuff boots with boot forms to help them keep their shape. You can also use balled-up gym socks in a pinch. Lay each pair of boots flat in a plastic bin. Stack bins at the back of your closet or put under your bed.
2. Sleds and ice skates: Most sleds have holes for a steering rope; thread heavy rope through the holes, then hang sleds in the garage. Stash disc-type sleds in a large clear contractor bag. Tie a knot at the top and hang from a hook, flat against the wall of your garage.
3. Bulky coats and bedding: Wash or dry-clean throws, quilts, and duvets, then store in space bags in a linen closet. Short on closet space? Use a rolling garment rack with a zippered front closure to keep out moisture and moths. For bug protection, place cedar blocks at the bottom of the bag before putting it in the basement or attic.

Store it in the summer
1. Backpacks and lunch boxes: Clean backpacks and wash lunch boxes, then air them out in the sun before putting them away in a storage tote labeled "Back to School." Store the tote in the back of an entryway closet or in the attic. If you don't have a large storage area, use your child's closet: Put the lunch box inside the backpack and hang it on a hook in the side or rear of the closet.
2. Artwork and school papers: "Condense and preserve" is your mantra for children's school papers and projects. Condense what you need to store by weeding out items your child is no longer attached to. Preserve especially important projects by asking your child to pick out five pieces he/she wants to save. Put the rest in a portfolio labeled with your child's name and school year. Store it at the back of his/her closet or in the attic.
3. Wool rugs: Roll up cleaned and vacuumed rugs to keep them free of deep creases or bends, then wrap them in large plastic bags. Store them up high on a garage shelf or in your attic.

For more information, visit www.ShopSmartmag.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Majority of U.S. Homeowners Believe Now is a Good Time to Renovate

March 28, 2013 1:10 pm

Significantly more U.S. homeowners are moving forward with renovation projects compared to this time last year, according to the second annual Houzz & Home survey that garnered more than 100,000 responses. A majority of the homeowners surveyed also believe now is a good time to remodel (53 percent), and 58 percent of those planning projects in the next two years will hire professional help. The study also found that three-quarters of homeowners believe that now is a good time to buy a home.

Together with last week’s Commerce Department report showing the rate of single-family home construction at its highest level in four and a half years, the results of this study point to a strengthening economy, housing and renovation market.

The number of homeowners who say they will delay their projects because of the economy has dropped to 45 percent from 52 percent last year, and homeowners are more likely to cut back in other areas, such as vacations and other big ticket purchases, rather than delay or decrease budgets for their home plans.

While improving the look and feel of the space is still the key driver for recently completed projects (83 percent), the number of homeowners who remodeled to increase their home value has increased to 54 percent from 47 percent in 2012.

Bathrooms and kitchens top America’s renovation project list again this year, with 28 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel or addition, and 23 percent planning a kitchen remodel or addition in the next two years. In terms of dollars spent, kitchens command the lion’s share. Over the last five years, nearly four in ten home improvement dollars have gone into kitchens and survey data indicates future spend is likely to follow the same trend.

Over the last five years, homeowners on average spent $28,030 to remodel their kitchens, however, spending varies widely at different budget levels. Homeowners spent an average of $54,942 nationwide for a high-end kitchen, $22,390 for a mid-range kitchen, and $7,133 for a lower-budget kitchen.

The study also found that homeowners renovating at the higher-end were more likely to go over budget than those doing more modest renovations, though a significant number reported going over budget at all project levels. Fifty-six percent of those doing a high-end renovation, 42 percent of those who did a mid-range renovation, and 31 percent of those whose renovation was lower-budget also spent more than expected on their projects.

Other Key U.S. Findings:
• Spending more time in a room does not necessarily correlate with decorating dollars. Homeowners report spending the most time in their family/TV rooms, but not the most money there. Nobody was willing to admit to spending significant time in their bathroom – but apparently the time we do spend there is worth significant investment. The percentage of money spent on kitchens and bathrooms far exceeds the percentage of time spent in these spaces.

• A majority of the homeowners surveyed who are planning to complete a project in the next two years will hire a general contractor (58 percent), and a third a kitchen/bath (36 percent) or carpet/flooring professional (34 percent). Twenty-three percent plan to hire architects and 22 percent plan to hire interior designers.

• When it comes to hiring a professional for their project, 67 percent of homeowners surveyed rated a “personality I can work with” as a 5 (very important) on a 5-point scale.

• 34 percent of U.S. homeowners cited making their home more energy efficient as a key driver for completing their most recent project.

Source: Houzz

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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