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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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Simple Ant Prevention

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

(Family Features) Of all the pests that can take up residence in your home this summer, ants are among the most common, and they don’t discriminate.

“Treat ants proactively, even if you only see one or two,” advises Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s “Desperate Landscapes.” Cameron’s long experience in home remodeling and carpentry makes him an expert on how to detect and discover entry points for potentially destructive ants to enter the home. “Taking preventative measures will help you protect both the inside and outside of your home from these pesky insects.”

Here are a few of Cameron’s tips and tricks to help protect your home and outdoor spaces from ants:

Treat Using a Systematic Approach
Even if you only see a few, adopt a systematic approach to help treat the ants you see and even those you don’t. Start by treating the perimeter of your home using a product such as Raid Max Bug Barrier to defend against ants that want to enter your house. Next, use an instant-action product indoors to kill them on contact. Treat areas such as baseboards and entry points, as they are prime locations for ants to infiltrate homes. Finally, place baits in areas where you see individual ants or ones following a trail or path to protect against bigger problems in the future. Do not place ant baits in areas where sprays were used.

Clear Damp Areas
Ants love to build their colonies in moist areas, especially those in which organic mulch, leaves, weeds, branches and brush remnants collect. Places such as where rain gutters overflow are perfect environments for ants, so be sure to clean them out regularly. If you have an ant problem year after year, see if there is any wet debris up against your home and get rid of it. Use stone mulch and cut back weeds around the foundation.

Store Food Properly
To help protect the inside of your home from ants, store food in sealed containers, use dried goods in a timely manner and sweep up crumbs immediately. Even a small crumb on the floor is a large meal for an ant colony. Also, be sure to clean up after your pets. Many ant problems are the result of pet food bowls being left out with food remnants in them. Be sure to have an instant-action spray on hand, such as Raid Ant & Roach Killer, to kill bugs on contact. Be sure to read the label carefully when treating in and around food-prep areas.

Monitor Mounds
Outdoor mounds are nests that are underground. They are a big cue for a colony of ants, so when you see them, be sure to treat them right away with a pest control product.

Check Trees
Carpenter ants are the largest of all ant species and usually get into homes from nearby trees. Inspect trees on your property for nests and treat as needed. Most carpenter ant nests are found in decaying wood in trees with holes or imperfections. In fact, carpenter ants can hollow out the wood throughout your home, causing problems that can be costly to repair.

To learn more about how to keep bugs out of your home, visit www.RaidKillsBugs.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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June Existing-Home Sales Slip but Prices Continue to Roll at Double-Digit Rates

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

Existing-home sales declined in June but have stayed well above year-ago levels for the past two years, while the median price shows seven straight months of double-digit year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dipped 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.14 million in May, but are 15.2 percent higher than the 4.41 million-unit level in June 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is enough momentum in the market, even with higher interest rates. “Affordability conditions remain favorable in most of the country, and we’re still dealing with a large pent-up demand,” he said. “However, higher mortgage interest rates will bite into high-cost regions of California, Hawaii and the New York City metro area market.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.07 percent in June from 3.54 percent in May, and is the highest since October 2011 when it was also 4.07 percent; the rate was 3.68 percent in June 2012.

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 1.9 percent to 2.19 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 5.0 months in May. Listed inventory remains 7.6 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.4-month supply. “Inventory conditions will continue to broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth,” Yun remarked.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $214,200 in June, up 13.5 percent from June 2012. This marks 16 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases, which last occurred from February 2005 to May 2006.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Half of America's 74 Million Cats are Not Receiving Regular Veterinary Care

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

A study conducted by Bayer HealthCare found that more than half of the nation's cats (52 percent) had not been taken to the veterinarian within the last year for needed checkups. Because the first two years of a cat's life equal 24 years of a human's life – with each successive year equivalent to four human years – annual examinations are essential to keeping cats healthy and preventing potentially serious disease problems.

Feline resistance single biggest obstacle to veterinary visits
According to the Feline Findings Study, 58 percent of owners report that their cats hate going to the veterinary clinic and, for 38 percent of them, just thinking about it was stressful. The study found that most cats fear being placed into a cat carrier and transported by car, so many owners simply opt not to put up with the hassle.

The Feline Five: five things cat owners can do to improve feline healthcare
"There are five easy steps owners can take right now to increase the likelihood their cats will be healthy," said Bayer's Dr. von Simson. "We call them the Feline Five."

1. Make the cat carrier a familiar, comfortable place.
Reduce feline resistance to the cat carrier by placing it near to where the cat rests with soft bedding, leave the door open and occasionally place treats in the carrier.

2. Familiarize your cat with your car.
Prepare your cat for the car ride to the clinic by taking her on rides in the carrier as you run normal errands.

3. Recognize the importance of regular check-ups.
Since the first two years of a cat's life equal 24 years of a human's life – with each successive year equivalent to four human years – your cat needs veterinary check-ups at least annually.

4. Realize that cats keep secrets, so you must be a cat detective.
Health problems often go undetected for a long time because cats hide signs of illness, so be attentive.

5. Know the signs of illness and injury.
 Signs include: changes in interactions, activity, sleeping habits, food and water consumption, grooming and/or vocalization; unexplained weight loss or gain; signs of stress; and/or bad breath.

Source: Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Ways to Better Your Bones

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

There are few things scarier than a broken bone—especially as we age. But, while it isn’t possible to break-proof your bones, there are some pretty reliable ways to strengthen and protect them.

From Prevention Magazine, here are 10 good tips for keeping your skeleton healthy:

● Get enough D – More than half of adults don’t get enough of this vitamin, essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Cod liver oil is a great source, so are salmon, tuna, whole eggs, and D-fortified milk and yogurt.

● Cut back on caffeine – Too much caffeine has been linked to hip fracture. Limit your intake to 2-3 small cups per day, and watch what you’re getting from sports drinks and supplements.

● Say ‘ohm’ – Studies show that doing yoga exercises regularly helps increase bone density. Start with a gentle yin or relaxation yoga class.

● Restrict the vino – Alcohol is known to have a negative effect on bone health. Keep intake to no more than two drinks in an evening.

● Prevent falls – We all lose bone density as we age. Clear away clutter, take your time, and be aware of your surroundings to guard against falls and broken bones.

● Skip the skinny look – Eat sensibly. Being overly thin may put you in more danger of broken bones because you may be depriving them of protein.

● Eat like a Greek – Increase Omega-3s and monounsaturated fats with olive oil, lots of fish, and minimal red meat.

● Don’t smoke – As if you needed another reason! Nicotine and free radicals may harm our body’s bone making cells.

● Exercise – Moderate exercise, including brisk walking, is known to help build bone density.

● Mind your meds – Some commonly prescribed drugs, such as steroids or protein pump inhibitors, can cause bone-thinning. Check with your doctor to develop a plan to counter this unwanted result.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Health Risks of Noise Pollution

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

Noise pollution is a significant cause of sleep deprivation, stress, hypertension, and heart risk. The problem is, it invades our work places and homes constantly.

Recent studies published in “Environmental Health Perspectives” indicate that noise levels at night may also increase the risk of heart attack by chronically elevating stress-related hormone levels. It's clear that noise adversely reduces people's health and quality of life.

Environmental noise is one of the major causes of disturbed sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is critical for proper physical and mental functioning in healthy individuals.

Apart from various effects on sleep itself, noise during sleep causes increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, narrowing of the blood vessels, changes in respiration, cardiac arrhythmias, and increased body movement.

Secondary effects measured the following day include fatigue, depressed mood and well-being, and decreased performance. People who sleep in a noisy environment have a shallower and less restful depth of sleep. This creates more health stresses on the body.

Most homes are built to protect against heat and cold. Often, they are not effective in blocking out noise. Studies of hundreds of offices and homes show that the most significant amount of noise comes through windows, not walls. While many people spend thousands of dollars on "sound proofing" the walls of their buildings, laboratory studies show that more than 90 percent of all the exterior noise comes in through doors and windows. Walls are almost never the problem.

Dual pane windows have been shown to be ineffective at handling noise issues. They are designed to handle heat and cold. The engineering needed for sound is quite different than for handling temperature. That's why people looking for noise relief who simply replace their dual pane windows are often disappointed.

A solution that has shown to reduce noise levels by 75-95 percent is adding soundproof windows. These are add-on windows which install quickly on the interior of a room. They blend with the window frame and dramatically reduce the level of outside noise that comes into the room. The technology behind these specifically engineered windows is grounded in engineering sound-eliminating window systems for recording studios.

Independent laboratory tests confirm noise reductions of 92-99 percent, as verified by audio instrumentation. While the human ear cannot detect that level of precision, the difference in noise levels in a room is significant.

If you live in a major city or on an otherwise noisy block, soundproofing your windows may just be the solution you need for uninterrupted sleep.

Source: Soundproof Windows, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Make DIY Home Repairs Safely

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

When it comes to home maintenance and repairs, many homeowners opt for the DIY approach. Not only is it a fun way to get your hands dirty, but it can save money on the expenses of hiring a professional. However, many DIYers neglect to fully prepare themselves for accomplishing the task at hand. This results in surprisingly common mistakes that could easily be avoided. So before you choose to DIY something in your own home, take a look at our list of common mistakes homeowners make and learn what you can do to prevent them from happening to you!

Electrical Repair

When it comes to DIY around the house, there's one area that should more often than not be left to the professionals—electrical repairs. According to Root Electric, anywhere from 4,000-6,000 people are injured each year from electric accidents, with a high percentage coming from those performing DIY electric repair attempts.

Neglecting Safety Tips

A great deal of at home DIYers neglect useful and common safety tips during projects. For instance, wearing protective eye wear and dust masks are crucial to a person's safety while doing household repairs. Additionally, it's important to be extra careful and watchful no matter the size of the project you are doing.

Not Taking Out Required Permits

Another common mistake homeowners make when completing home improvement projects themselves is neglecting to take out the required permits. Not only is this not meeting legal standards, but not following certain procedures can be unsafe.

Starting a Job Unprepared

It's great to want to tackle a household task without calling in the professionals, but make sure you are fully prepared. A common mistake most homeowners make is not checking to ensure they have the necessary materials. Before you get in over your head on a project, double check your supply list.

Source: Homesessive.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Sure Your Home is Air-Tight

July 20, 2013 7:44 pm

Space heating can account for up to 60 percent of most homeowners' energy bills. This is especially true with older homes, which can often be drafty, lightly insulated and may still have older, less energy efficient windows, doors and heating systems. This can add up to substantially higher home heating costs.

One of the best ways to cut down on your bills and keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer is by making sure your home is well sealed. CMHC offers the following tips on how to improve the airtightness of your home, to help you save money, reduce your environmental footprint and make your house more comfortable to live in:

• Air sealing not only cuts heat losses and gains, it also improves comfort by reducing drafts, helps improve the performance of the insulation in your walls and attic by stopping cold winter wind from washing through it, and, it can help prevent moisture build-up in your walls and attic.

• Finding air leaks can often be a challenge. Sometimes they are detectable by feeling for cold drafts in suspect locations. Other times, you may be able to see daylight shining in through unwanted openings. Blackened insulation is often another sign. For a more thorough assessment, consider hiring a qualified residential energy service provider to perform a "blower door" test of your house. During this test, your house is forced to leak, making it easier to find air leakage locations with smoke emitting devices or a special thermographic scanner.

• A blower door test can also tell you the size of the hole all the leakage areas would add up to if they were all located on one location. This is helpful when you want to know how leaky your house is relative to other houses. If a blower door test is done before and after air sealing, you can also find out how much you have reduced the air leakage of your home.

• Some of the more common air leakage points can include ceiling pot light fixtures installed through ceilings into attic spaces, electrical boxes in ceiling and exterior walls; inside to outside wiring, plumbing and duct penetrations; bathroom exhaust fans installed in attic ceilings; older windows and doors; the joint between windows and the surrounding walls; and floor-wall joints.

• Once you have located the leaks, you can use a variety of different approaches to seal them. For instance, leaky windows and doors can be sealed with gaskets or new weatherstripping. Gaps around wiring, pipes and ducts can be sealed with caulking or spray foam. Electrical boxes can be sealed with special gaskets that fit behind the box plate covers. Joints between walls and floors and around the top of your foundation may be sealed with caulking or spray foam depending on the size of the gap. To find out the right options for your home, be sure to consult a contractor with expertise in air leakage control.

• If you are replacing your exterior siding, it's a good time to add an exterior air barrier (and more insulation) that wraps your house in a draft proof cover from the basement to attic.

• While air sealing is always a good idea, you might have to add mechanical ventilation in the form of a bathroom fan, a range hood, or better yet, a heat recovery ventilation system, to help maintain healthy indoor conditions. Air sealing can also adversely affect the ability of some fuel-fired furnaces, boilers and hot water tanks to safely vent combustion products so an additional source of outdoor air may be needed. Consult a qualified mechanical contractor for guidance on ventilation system options and combustion air needs for your home before you start.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Beyond Finances: Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

July 20, 2013 7:44 pm

According to a recent PulteGroup Home Index Survey, more than half of renters aged 18-34 say their intention to buy a home has increased in the last year.

While their intentions are in many ways driven by personal, aspirational reasons – more space, family stability and the pride of homeownership – the low mortgage rate environment, increasing rental costs and scarcity of desirable rental options makes homeownership an even more attractive proposition for many.

"The propensity for young adults to test the waters of homeownership continues to increase and has become more evident as renters are seeing the overall value of owning a home," says Deborah Wahl, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at PulteGroup, Inc., noting that more than 50 percent of Millennials reported that the desire to own/build equity was the primary reason for purchasing a new home. "However, beyond finances, it is important for potential buyers to take several other factors into consideration."

Below are tips for first-time homebuyers looking for the right housing match:

Know Your Financial Situation
– Start saving for a down payment and talk with mortgage lenders about available loans well in advance of your purchase. Understand that there are special federal, state and locally administered financial programs for new homebuyers, such as FHA and HUD loan programs. Additionally, it's important to take into account other factors beyond your mortgage, including homeowners insurance and property taxes. By doing your homework, you will know what you can afford and comfortably make a decision about this important investment.

Compare Owning vs. Renting – Buying can be smarter than renting from a financial standpoint, but it has other advantages, as well. Owning a home provides you with a great deal of freedom and decision-making autonomy. No more will you have to worry about the noisy neighbor upstairs or accidental scratches on the wall from decorations. You'll have the power to select paint colors and plant flowers throughout the yard. Also, houses tend to offer more storage space.

Weigh New vs. Used – If you want to choose the floor plan and customize a home to fit your needs and lifestyle, building a new home may be the right choice for you. Popular options new homes offer today include more open, larger spaces, master bedroom suites, island-centric kitchens and bigger outdoor living space. Customizing a new home also provides the opportunity to design your home and include amenities that meet the needs of your growing family – if that's in your future. Additionally, new homes can be up to 30 percent more energy efficient and often come with a builder warranty. If you're handy and don't mind a fixer upper, resale can be an attractive route as well.

Examine the Location – Consider your surroundings when deciding upon where you want to live next. If you plan to start a family, research the local school district and other family offerings such as nearby parks and community centers. For fun, test out the local retail scene and entertainment options to see if it caters to your lifestyle. If you're a commuter, determine if the area is supported by adequate public transportation or provides easy access to major highways. Many in the housing market also care about ensuring they still live within close proximity to family and friends, as only 21 percent of homeowners are willing to move away from their families.

Select the Right Builder – If you decide on a new home, select a builder who has experience in the type of home and in the location you want. Make sure they have a history of building quality homes and are financially stable. Moreover, how easy are they to work with? Some builders today have gone digital to enhance customer service and help buyers stay on top of the latest with their new home. Look for online design centers that can help you make important design decisions, for example, or portals in which you can stay up-to-date on how your new home is progressing. Lastly, take time to check their references and talk to past customers.

Confide in Trusted Sources – More than 90 percent of home shoppers today are plugged-in to the Internet and use it as their main source of information. While this is particularly true with Millennials, don't forget to seek advice from two trusted groups: real estate agents and your personal network, including your parents. Approximately 60 percent of Millennials say they would rely on both sources, as each has extensive experience in purchasing homes and can provide personal guidance toward the successful purchase of their home.

"With third party data showing that 90 percent of Millennials plan to purchase a home at some point in their lives, it's important for first-time homebuyers to have access to the right tools and information to ensure their first home purchase is one they are proud of for years to come," adds Wahl. "With many options to choose from, starting from a point of knowledge will go a long way towards achieving their dream of homeownership."

Source: Centex

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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When the Doorbell Rings, Americans Want X-ray Vision

July 20, 2013 7:44 pm

Since the invention of the electric bell ringer in 1831, Americans have relished the benefits of the ever-present doorbell to let them know someone's calling. A new nationwide survey shows that no matter how long we have doorbells as fixtures on front doors, we still have very strong and personal reactions to hearing them ring.

The 2,000-person survey was conducted by an independent market research firm and sponsored by VTech® Communications, Inc. Beyond turning into a superhero to see who's there (30 percent want X-ray vision), survey respondents said that an intercom to engage with the visitor (22 percent), followed by the immediate desire to continue activities unnoticed (16 percent), were their top spontaneous reactions to hearing the bell.

A Relentless Need-to-Know
No doubt, maintaining a sense of security is a top reason nearly all consumers (95 percent) say they won't open the door before checking to see who’s there. The majority (89 percent) said they sometimes hesitate to open the door when the bell rings, especially late at night (57 percent), when there's an unfamiliar face (42 percent) or when home alone (31 percent).

Other fun facts from the survey show:

• Mars and Venus reactions to a ringing doorbell. Women are more concerned about security than men – 60 percent of women check who is at the door due to safety worries compared to 45 percent of men. Men, instead, were more apt than women to peek out of curiosity or to screen visitors.

• Curiosity sparks the home dwellers. Emotions vary for an unexpected doorbell ring, with curiosity topping the list (43 percent), followed by annoyance (21 percent), surprise (12 percent) and anxiousness (12 percent).

• A ringing doorbell is worst during a snooze. Sometimes the doorbell rings at the most inconvenient times. The greatest bother to Americans is a doorbell ringing when they are asleep (40 percent), followed by when they are eating a meal (23 percent) and when they are in the shower (21 percent).

• Pets are the secret weapon for home security. The majority of consumers (69 percent) take some measure to protect their homes with 43 percent hoping the family dog will warn them of any trouble. Nearly one third (31 percent) use alarm systems and almost a quarter use motion-detecting lights (23 percent).

"We wanted to find out what Americans think about their doorbells and if this fixture on the front porch is still something people feel attached to," said Matt Ramage, senior vice president, product management, VTech Communications, Inc. "We saw that knowing who's at the door still provides a sense of comfort and security – while satisfying an equal desire for curiosity and convenience. As Americans embrace more digital solutions in the home, we can now take the doorbell concept a step further to accommodate all of those needs."

Source: VTech

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Summer Travel Safety Tips for your Hot Vacation Plans

July 20, 2013 7:44 pm

As the economy continues to rebound, Americans are preparing for summer vacation trips around the country. According to PhoCusWright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report, six in ten U.S. adults traveled for leisure in 2012, the same number as in 2011. However, vacationing away from home can present safety risks as well as pleasures.

"You can help make family trips more enjoyable by taking a few simple steps to reduce the possibility you will become an easy target for thieves who prey on tourists, or that your home will be robbed in your absence," says Allstate Claims Director of Property Innovation Bryan Corder. "Following some simple precautions can make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons."

To help you enjoy a safe family vacation:

Make sure your home is protected while you're away:
• Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a neighbor to pick them up every day.
• Put several household lights on timers so they turn on and off at appropriate times.
• Arrange to have grass mowed while you're gone.
• Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway overnight, or anything else that might suggest someone is home.

Make sure you don't pack unnecessary items and that your valuables are protected:
• Clean out your wallet or purse before you go; take only essential credit cards.
• Carry your purse close to your body, or wallet in an inside front pocket.
• Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to getting robbed.
• Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage. Keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.

In unfamiliar locations, you and your family should try to blend in with the crowd and not look too much like tourists:
• Don't display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags and other items that might draw attention.
• Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
• Stick to well-lit, well-traveled streets at all times.
• Leave an itinerary of your trip with someone at home in case you need to be contacted. Carry an extra passport photo with you just in case you need to replace a stolen passport.
• Don't use your home address on your luggage tags. You don't need to let anyone know where your empty house is located. Consider using your business card instead.

Source: Allstate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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