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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Mortgage Rates Move Higher for Second Consecutive Week

May 20, 2013 1:56 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed-rate mortgages following U.S. Treasury bond yields higher this week on signs of stronger consumer spending.

Findings:
• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.51 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 16, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.42 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.79 percent.
• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.69 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.61 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.04 percent.
• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.62 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.58 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent.
• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.53 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.78 percent.

"Mortgage rates followed U.S. Treasury bond yields higher this week on signs of stronger consumer spending,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Advanced retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, above the market forecast consensus of a 0.3 percent decline. Excluding such items as automobiles and gasoline, sales were up 0.5 percent for the second time in three months.

"Households are also shoring up their balance sheets. Total household debt fell by about $110 billion in the first quarter. In addition, approximately three million homeowners were seriously delinquent (90 days or more delinquent or in foreclosure) on their first mortgages, down from a peak of about 5.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2009."

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National Poll Shows Ethics, Social Recommendations Fuel the Growing Sharing Economy

May 20, 2013 1:56 am

According to a new national poll, the emergence of the Sharing Economy is primarily driven by philosophical ideals, in addition to the financial benefits. The poll of over 2,000 adults was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Airbnb.

Leading the way in sharing are people under 35 years old (30 percent), who are more likely to be digitally savvy. Rachel Botsman, author of "What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live," estimates that the Sharing Economy is a $26 billion industry that will continue to grow rapidly as Americans look for new revenue opportunities in a down economy.

While many people who have shared property or belongings online started sharing to make extra cash (31 percent), evidence points to a shift in motivation for those who continue to participate in the new economic model. A plurality of sharers (36 percent) identified that the philosophical beliefs behind sharing—values often instilled in kindergarten—were their top motivation. This finding may partially explain the success seen by community marketplaces for sharing where financial and philosophical benefits are integrated.

"The down economy has created an appetite for sharing that is expanding economic opportunities for people to generate income with big ticket items like their homes, cars or skills," said Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert, author and TV personality. "Often people begin sharing as a way to make money, but we're seeing that philosophical benefits and social connections are the reasons people come back time and time again. The bridge between online and offline communities are creating the virility and stickiness that is propelling the 'Sharing Economy' forward."

Among sharers, the vast majority (77 percent) agree that being able to borrow or rent property or belongings online is a great way to save money, and two thirds (68 percent) agree that it is a great way to earn additional income. Six in ten sharers (61 percent) agree that earning extra money is a major motivation for sharing, and almost half (46 percent) put the earned money toward paying bills.

Responses indicated a general belief in the growth of the Sharing Economy. A majority (60 percent) sees the sharing economy as a new trend. A majority of those who have shared (55 percent) say that they would recommend sharing with others, indicating a potentially strong growth trajectory. This conclusion is consistent with analysts' projections around the growth of the Sharing Economy.

Source: Airbnb

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Figuring out Finances after Divorce

May 20, 2013 1:56 am

Divorces can be messy. Emotionally, spiritually and financially. If your partner handled the finances, then you can be left clueless. Budgets and bills can be overwhelming if you’ve never had to take them on before. Or, maybe it’s not the new responsibilities, but the divorce itself is cleaning out your savings. Alicia Klat a contributor to SupportInASplit.com offers four ways to help yourself, or a friend in need, find financial empowerment and the happiness that comes with it.

Break it up. Approach one element of finances at a time or set a time limit and work in 10-minute chunks. Removing the pressure to “do it all” in one sitting will help ease anxiety. 

Remain positive. Focus on the fact that you are taking action. Positive association around money objectives will reinforce a good energy.

Team up. You can’t do it all. If you’re feeling fluster, then ask for help. Know a financially literate friend? Make a date to review paperwork together. 

Source: Supportinasplit.com

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What Do We Like to Do Most in Our Yards? Relax, Says Poll

May 20, 2013 1:56 am

 With spring 2013 around the corner, many Americans will finally be venturing out to enjoy their yards. And according to an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive in December 2012, those with a yard/landscape will be looking forward to three yard and landscape activities most of all: relaxing, planting, and spending time with family. 

The study, conducted among more than 2,800 U.S. adults (ages 18+) on behalf of PLANET, the national trade association of landscape professionals, finds that yard/landscape ownership is highly prevalent (88 percent) among Americans. In fact, 81 percent of those with a yard/landscape say the upkeep of their yard/landscape is important to the look of their home.

Why Take Care of That Yard/Landscape?
When asked the chief reason for maintaining or improving their yard/landscape, yard/landscape owners are most likely to cite showing pride in their home (42 percent) as the primary motivator, although creating an outdoor relaxing space (16 percent) and raising or protecting their property value (15 percent) also win double-digit support.

But, when it comes to what the yard or landscape is commonly used for, relaxing rises to the top (26 percent), followed by planting flowers/vegetables (17 percent) and spending time with family (14 percent).

Not surprisingly, those with children under 18 in the household are more likely to view the yard as a place where the whole family can interact, and where kids can play. 

• 70 percent of people aged 55 and over and 75 percent of retirees say that the upkeep of their yard/landscape is important to them vs. 40 percent of 18-34 year olds.
• Yard owners 55 and over are much more likely than any other age group to use their yard mostly for relaxing (33 percent vs. 26 percent for the 45-54 age group, 18 percent for those 35-44, and 22 percent among those 18-34.)

Hiring Professional Help
Since taking care of a landscape often requires help, if yard/landscape owners were to look to landscape professionals for help, the most important factors they would look for would be price (69 percent) and quality of work (68 percent). Interestingly, men place more value on quality of work, whereas women cite price as particularly important.

“Our members dedicate their lives to helping homeowners keep their yards and outdoor spaces healthy and inviting,” said PLANET CEO, Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP. “We’re glad to see that consumers are taking pride in their well-kept landscapes and find them important areas for relaxation and quality time with family.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Easy Ways to Tackle Interior Project Planning

May 20, 2013 1:56 am

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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Protecting Home Improvement Investments: Why House Paint Fails

May 15, 2013 8:28 pm

I am always surprised when I stumble across great information for homeowners in unlikely places. In the latest instance, it is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory with its comprehensive report on why house paint fails.

The prospect of painting even a small building is one of the more involving and expensive improvement projects a homeowner can take on themselves. And many opt to leave it to professional painters.

Either way, take into account the following things that could cause all that hard and expensive exterior painting work to fail:

  • Wood was wet when it was painted. If only the surface of the wood is wet, then only 1 sunny day is usually needed for drying prior to painting. If the wood is saturated, several sunny or windy days are necessary for drying prior to painting.
  • Unfinished siding was exposed to several weeks of sunlight before painting. Sunlight degrades the unfinished wood surface, thus it will never hold paint as well as fresh wood. If the unfinished wood was exposed more than 3 to 4 weeks, lightly sand or power wash the surface to remove the thin layer of degraded wood before applying paint.
  • Wood was installed directly over foam or foil-faced insulation board. Water can travel in behind the siding of the house through various routes but has to travel out through the wood, pushing the paint off.
  • House has no interior vapor barrier. The absence of an interior vapor barrier is related to the problems of high levels of humidity inside the house during the heating season and wood that was installed directly over foam or foil-faced insulation board.
  • Wood siding is dirty. If the siding is dirty, the surface of the siding should be power washed or cleaned with detergent and a stiff bristle or brass brush and rinsed well. Never use steel or iron, which causes iron stain and may glaze the surface.
  • Brown stains appear on the surface of the paint. Paint does not have to fall off to fail. Moisture traveling through wood pulls water-based extractives through the paint, leaving brown stains on the surface of the paint. If the wood is kept dry, the water-based extractives in the wood will not bleed through paint.

Read the entire report at www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/finlines/knaeb95a.pdf.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Important Finance Lessons for Your Teen

May 15, 2013 8:28 pm

More high school students than ever will be collecting diplomas in the coming weeks, an increase attributed in part to new career-oriented schools that help students appreciate the link between learning and earning.

“After 40 years, we’re finally seeing significant improvements in high school graduation rates. The national average shot up from 72 percent in 2001 to 78 percent in 2010,” says retired business executive Cary Siegel, author of “Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School? 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By.”

“While it’s wonderful to offer initiatives like career-prep schools, I worry these new high school and college graduates won’t have a clue about how to manage their paychecks.

“I wish I’d learned these things in school – I would’ve made fewer mistakes,” he says. “My main goal was to retire early enough to spend time with my kids while they were still young, and I was able to do that. It’s not because I’m rich; I’m not! It’s because I learned how to effectively manage my money.”

All high school and college grads should leave school armed with that knowledge, says the father of five teenagers ages 13 to 17.

Siegel offers three of his favorite tips:

Just say no to credit cards. (And don’t get one in college!) Credit card companies inundate college students with special offers. They want to hook you early on! But getting hooked on credit cards is as bad as getting hooked on drugs. The more you use them, the easier they are to use, and since you’re not required to pay off the balance each month, you can quickly spiral into debt. You pay for that debt, too. The average interest rate on student credit cards in April was 17.4 percent – which means for every dollar of debt you have, you’re charged almost 18 cents every month.

Know what your bills are and take action when they go up. It’s amazing how many people don’t know what they’re paying their service providers each month. (If you don’t know within $5 what each monthly bill is, you’re probably overpaying on many of them.) When your cable, Internet or cellphone company tells you it’s increasing its rates, call the company and ask to speak to a manager or someone in the retention department. Be polite and don’t raise your voice. Ask for detailed rationale for the increase; often, this will immediately stop the increase. If it doesn’t, stress how long you’ve been with the company and your excellent payment history.

Spend an hour a week learning about personal finance. Once you start, you’ll find you’re learning so much, you’ll spend more than an hour exploring. Some free resources include the Internet and the library. Look for a financially savvy individual, write up a list of questions, and ask if you can interview them. You may not have to look any further for this than your own family. Just one hour a week adds up to a lot of time over a few years: 52 hours your first year, and more than 200 hours during four years of college. “I’m fairly certain that is more time than 95 percent of other college students spend on learning personal money management,” Siegel says.

Source: www.carysiegel.com

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Top Five Summer Home Maintenance Tips

May 15, 2013 8:28 pm

The warmer weather has us all heading outside to soak up the sun, but it’s also a good reminder to take care of some basic things around your house. With more than 400 locations in the U.S. and Canada, Pillar To Post offers their top five home maintenance tips for the warmer months:

Inspect air-conditioners: If you have central air, you’ll want to clean the exterior condenser unit and all of its components, removing debris and trimming back any plants that are growing near it. You should also rinse down the interior of the unit, straighten out bent fins and lubricate the motor. You’ll also want to clean or change the air filters, inspect the drain line for debris and make sure all hoses fit securely. You can do this all yourself with guidance from the unit’s owners’ manual or call in a professional. If you have window units, the job is a little bit easier. You simply have to install the units and clean the filters. This is also a good time to deep clean all the fans and ceiling fans in your home.

Mulch: Adding a layer of mulch to gardens and other non-grassy areas helps prevent weeds. It also helps the soil to hold moisture and nutrients during the warmer months, giving your plants a better chance of growing.

Inspect for leaks: Checking exterior hoses and faucets for leaks can lead to big savings. Even a small leak can cost big bucks. Many small leaks can be fixed with a piece of electrical tape. You’ll want to call in an expert for larger leaks.

Clean siding: Avoid streaks by applying the cleaner starting at the bottom and working your way up and rinsing from the top down. Cleaning your home’s siding yearly can help prevent mold, mildew and staining. Taking the time to keep your home’s siding clean will also keep it looking brand new, adding value to your home.

Inspect your crawlspace: Check for signs of termites and moisture. Even floors that appear dry can be damp. Dampness can cause damage to the entire house. If you have a dirt floor, installing a vapor barrier is recommended. If you have concrete, sealing it is ideal. This annual check is also a great time to check sewer lines, particularly beneath toilets and sinks, for evidence of leaks.

Source: Pillar To Post

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Tips toward Unplugging on Vacation

May 14, 2013 7:18 am

You have your iPhone, your BlackBerry or your Android. You have your laptop or netbook with WiFi. It's hard enough to unplug for the weekend, let alone an entire vacation, but for your own sanity and even that of your coworkers, you need to. There's no reason to take a vacation only to spend it working. The beach might be great, but think about how much better it would be if your phone was left in your hotel room.

Vacations are meant to help employees recharge so they can return to work re-energized and refocused. But if you're constantly checking in with the office, you won't get a real break. To help you unplug and look forward to your vacation, here are eight tips:

1. Plan ahead. Coordinate your vacation time with your co-workers, team and other executive staff to ensure that things run smoothly while you're out.
2. Designate your main point of contact and give them a detailed account of all your projects and work commitments along with your emergency contact information.
3. Try to leave the majority of your work-related hardware at home.
4. Inform your key accounts, vendors and clients when and how long you'll be out of the office.
5. If you have a lot of projects that will need attention while you're out, consider distributing your projects among your co-workers or team.
6. If you can't resist the temptation to check in, try to set up specific times or days you will be checking messages.
7. Leave your mobile devices in your room so you can concentrate on family and friends and not be tempted to check in during the day.
8. If you receive urgent voicemails or emails while you're out, ask your main point of contact to troubleshoot the issue.

Remember, your health is important and taking a vacation may be all the help you need.

Source: CareerCast.com

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Energy-and Water-Saving Tips for Your Apartment or Condo

May 14, 2013 7:18 am

Energy costs and growing concerns about the environment are prompting many homeowners to try to reduce the amount of energy and water they use. Cutting down on your energy use can also help you save money, whether you pay your utility bills directly or through your rent or condominium fees. If you live in an apartment or condo, the following tips can help you save energy and water, and make your home more comfortable:

• Seal any cracks or holes in your walls, ceiling, floors, windows and doors to keep drafts out, and keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
• Take advantage of natural heat from the sun by opening your curtains and blinds on sunny winter days, and closing them at night to keep the heat inside. Watch for any water that may form on the windows and wipe it up to prevent damage and mold growth. In the summer, keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day. If security isn't an issue, try opening windows in the evening and early morning to let the cool air in, and then closing them during the day to keep the heat out.
• Make sure the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms are clean, dust-free and working efficiently. Keep your refrigerator working efficiently by cleaning the evaporator coils once a year and ensuring the door firmly seals shut.
• Fix leaky faucets and toilets, and consider installing low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets.
• Use fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in your home. CFLs are 75 to 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Make sure you dispose of them properly as they contain small amounts of mercury that can be harmful to the environment.
• If you're purchasing appliances or electronic equipment, check the EnerGuide label on large appliances or the ENERGY STAR® ratings for electronics, home office products and small appliances. If you're purchasing a new washer, consider a front-loading model. Front-loading washers use up to 40 per cent less water and 60 per cent less energy than top-loading machines.
• If you're buying an air conditioner, look for a model with an energy efficiency rating (EER) of at least 11 and an ENERGY STAR® symbol on the label. Clean the filters every month and set your thermostat higher or off when you're not home.
• Turn off lights, appliances and electrical equipment when you're not using them. Take the stairs if you live near the ground floor. Try to run only full loads when washing clothes or using the dishwasher.
• Remember: always consult with your building manager or landlord before undertaking any maintenance, repairs or improvements to your unit. For major repairs, you may also want to hire a contractor or other qualified professional.

Source: CMHC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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