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
Search for Properties
Peter Cerruti

My Blog

Tax Filers: Educational Credits to Consider

October 17, 2016 12:51 am


For most taxpayers, this time of year marks the beginning of the return planning process—and with the school year in swing, there is no better time to explore eligibility for educational tax credits.

There are two educational credits available, according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. Taxpayers can only claim one of these credits per student, per year, even if they are eligible for both.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is available for “qualified education expenses,” such as tuition, up to $2,500 per student. Only taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $80,000 or less (or $160,000 for married couples filing jointly) can claim the full credit.

The Lifetime Learning Credit is available for similar expenses, including tuition, up to $2,000 per return. Only taxpayers with a MAGI of $55,000 or less (or $111,000 for married couples filing jointly) can claim the full credit.

Both credits, which must be claimed through Form 8863, can be claimed by the taxpayer who pays qualifying expenses for an “eligible student,” which includes the taxpayer, spouse and dependents who are enrolled in an “eligible college, university or vocational school, according to the IRS.

Visit the Education Credits page on the IRS website, www.irs.gov/individuals/education-credits-aotc-llc, for more information, or to determine eligibility.

Source: U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Protecting Pets: 6 Disaster Safety Tips

October 17, 2016 12:51 am


Pets are family, and in times of distress, it’s important to treat them as such. Bookmark these safety tips for reference the next time a natural disaster occurs, courtesy of national humane organization American Humane.

1. Update Your Pet’s Information – Ensure your pet’s license information and microchip registration are up-to-date. Register your pet with mobiPET, a free AMBER-type alert system for missing pets.

2. Prepare a Kit for Your Pet – Assemble a kit with pet essentials: bowls, carrying cases, food, medication, water, etc. Keep it in an accessible area, preferably with your own emergency kit.

3. Note Your Pet’s Preferences – Be aware of the places your pet likes to hide—they may seek shelter there if they are separated from you during a disaster.

4. Secure Pet Exits – Make certain your pet cannot leave your home during a storm—bar access to cat doors, especially.

5. Keep Your Pet in Tow – If ordered to evacuate, take your pet with you—do not leave your pet behind. House your pet at a safe boarding facility, or stay at a pet-friendly hotel.

6. Understand Changes in Your Pet – Your pet’s outdoor (and indoor) environment may change after a storm. Your pet may exhibit notice by acting out or being self-protective—be sensitive to these changes, and comfort your pet in a quiet area, if possible.

Source: American Humane
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

What Is a Home Service Contract, or "Warranty?"

October 17, 2016 12:51 am


The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) defines home service contracts, or “warranties,” as contracts offering repair, replacement or service for major appliances and systems that break down as a result of “normal” use. Home service contracts, according to the Association, are a significant means of savings for homeowners, with coverage ranging from disposals and ovens to HVAC systems.

“The wholesale value of these contracts easily exceeds $1 billion in savings to consumers annually,” said Mike Bartosch, president of the NHSCA, in a recent statement.

Home service contracts are not the same as homeowners insurance. Said Bartosch, “Home service contracts and homeowners insurance policies are mutually exclusive products in all 50 states. NHSCA members are not insurers and do not sell an insurance product. Further, insurance products don’t cover service, repairs or replacement to home systems and appliances required as a result of normal wear and use.

“If a system or appliance stops working, contact your home service contract provider,” Bartosch added in the statement. “If a home system or appliance is damaged by a falling tree, catches fire, or is subject to vandalism, contact your insurance agent.”

Real estate professionals often offer home service contracts—in this case, “warranties”—to homebuyers and/or sellers. The term “warranty,” according to the NHSCA, refers to the seller’s action of purchasing a service contract for the buyer should issues arise during the first year of ownership. If you’re a buyer or seller, consult with your real estate agent or broker to learn more about the options available to you.

For more information, visit HomeServiceContract.org.
 
Source: National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Car Care: 5 Things Drivers Should Stop Doing

October 14, 2016 12:51 am


A car only lasts as long as you care for it.

“Because auto care isn’t always a top priority for car owners, they might not realize they are doing things that adversely affect the performance, safety and value of their car,” says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine maintenance can go a long way toward saving money, avoiding headaches and protecting your vehicle investment.”

The Car Care Council recently outlined five things drivers should stop doing if they want their car to last:

STOP: Driving Carelessly
Driving carelessly is not only dangerous to yourself and those around you—it can cause damage to your car, too. Always observe the speed limit, and avoid aggressive starting and stopping, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

STOP: Ignoring the Check Engine Light
We know, we know—you’ll schedule that vehicle service appointment eventually. Putting off service when the check engine light comes on could lead to costly repairs down the road. (Literally!)

STOP: Neglecting the Tires
Your car’s tires get you from Point A to Point B—don’t neglect them! Bald or underinflated tires can be detrimental to the gas mileage and performance of your car, as well as your overall safety.

STOP: Running on Empty
We don’t mean the gas tank (though that can be harmful, too!). Check the fluid levels of your car regularly, and refill, if needed, to keep your car functioning at optimal capacity.

STOP: Skipping Out on Service
Periodic inspections by a professional service technician, which include assessment of the car’s components and parts, can help you keep unexpected repair costs to a minimum, and extend the lifespan of your car.

Source: Car Care Council
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Big DIY Results on a Little Budget

October 14, 2016 12:51 am


(Family Features)—With an abundance of home improvement shows now on television, DIY has evolved from an intimidating trade for the pros to an easy-to-manage project for even the least handy.

Transforming a home from disaster to delightful through DIY projects is much easier than you think, and can save you a bundle in the process. If the thought of doing your own handiwork has you wiping your brow, think again with these easy improvements:

Stained Tubs – Grime and grit build-up in the tub is difficult to remove, making an already annoying mess even more of a headache. Depending on the type of material your tub is made of, you can opt for an abrasive powder, baking soda, or even a pumice stone to rub out those nasty spots.

Wall Dents and Holes – Wrestling matches among the kids, rambunctious pets and moving furniture all take a toll on your walls. Dings and scratches are easy to fix with a little spackle and paint, but with the right resources, so are bigger blemishes—even outright holes.

When you use a repair kit, there's no need to hire a pro or buy a bunch of tools. Such kits, for holes up to five inches in diameter, include everything you need to fix anything from a can-light hole in the ceiling to a door knob hole in the wall—no experience required.

Dripping Faucets – Plumbing can be especially intimidating, but one of the most common plumbing annoyances—a dripping faucet—can be fixed in a few minutes with just a few dollars.

Usually, the cause of a drippy faucet is a washer or O-ring that has gone bad—you can simply replace those parts. Turn off the water, then use a screwdriver or hex wrench to loosen and remove the faucet fitting. You should be able to easily see the washer and ring fittings. Just replace the old with the new and reassemble. (Note: If the drip is coming from a faucet with separate handles for hot and cold, you'll want to isolate which handle is the culprit before you get started.)

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

How Mortgages Factor In to Debt Profiles

October 14, 2016 12:51 am


Most Americans identify a mortgage as the largest source of debt they carry—an unsurprising statistic, given that the majority of monthly budgets are spent on housing. A mortgage, however, is commonly referred to as a “good kind” of debt, one that leads to long-term wealth and security.

GOBankingRates (GOBankingRates.com) recently took a pulse on the debt profile of some 3,000 Americans, finding 39 percent of those surveyed carry mortgage loan debt—“good” debt. On par with that percentage are the 38 percent surveyed who carry credit card debt—not-so “good” debt. Thirty-one percent surveyed carry auto loan debt; 27 percent carry student loan debt; and 21 percent carry medical debt.

The results of the survey reveal the median mortgage debt is $59,500, though that median trends much higher among those with high incomes. To compare, the median credit card debt among those surveyed is $2,000; the median auto loan debt is $8,000; the median student loan debt is $9,100; and the median medical debt is $600.
Importantly, over half of those surveyed (51 percent) say they are “debt-free”—GOBankingRates attributes this belief to the fact that most of us overlook what we perceive to be minor debts, placing more importance on larger amounts, like mortgages.

Good, bad, major or minor, making payments consistently is key, says GOBankingRates Life + Money Columnist Cameron Huddleston.

“Our survey found that Americans are saddled with various types of debt, from mortgages and student loans to credit card and medical debt,” said Huddleston in a statement on the survey, “but it is a burden that can be overcome. The best way to dig yourself out of debt is to make paying off what you owe a priority.”

Source: GOBankingRates.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Scam Watch: Fake Election Pollsters on the Prowl

October 13, 2016 12:51 am


Scammers are out in full force under the guise of Presidential election pollsters, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently warned.

The ruse? According to the BBB, a fraudster calls an unsuspecting consumer offering a reward in exchange for opinions about the election. The fraudster may ask seemingly valid questions in an attempt to gain the consumer’s trust. Once the consumer answers the questions, the fraudster asks for the consumer’s credit card number—this information, the fraudster says, is needed to pay for the shipping and taxes on the reward. The fraudster makes off with the credit card number, making the consumer vulnerable to unauthorized charges or—worse—identity theft.

Watchfulness is key to avoiding this and other campaign cons, according to the BBB. Polling organizations never offer rewards in exchange for opinions, nor ask for credit card information.

Those wishing to make a donation to a campaign should do so directly through the campaign office, not through an email or social media link, the BBB advises.

Source: Better Business Bureau (BBB)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

A Hurricane Damaged My Home—Now What?

October 13, 2016 12:51 am


Anyone whose home’s been damaged by a hurricane knows the days following the storm can be hazy.

The first and most important step to take after the storm is contacting your insurance provider to begin the claim filing process. It’s important to do this as soon as you’re able, according to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), but to tread carefully when doing so.

“Families will have to dig deeper into their pockets, because insurers have been steadily increasing hurricane wind coverage deductibles and imposing other policy limitations,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of Insurance for CFA, in a statement on Hurricane Matthew, the most recent storm. “This liability shift to consumers may take some by surprise, since disclosures are often buried in renewal paperwork that consumers may not understand or even read.”

It’s important, according to CFA, to keep records of each event in the claims process, especially when making a claim due to a major catastrophe. Keep your claim number handy, and hold on to receipts for repair work or temporary housing. Record brief notes, including dates and times, of all communications with your insurer. Take stock of your belongings as best you can—having a list will help expedite the claims process.

In the meantime, take steps to prepare for the insurance adjustment, CFA recommends. Be sure to get estimates from a few local, reputable contractors for reference before the adjuster arrives to assess the damage—and, remember, you’re not obligated to use a contractor recommended by your insurer. Clarify whether the adjuster is an independent professional or an employee of the insurer—if the former, confirm they’re authorized by the insurer to make decisions related to your claim.

Remain vigilant through the process, as well. Though flooding is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies, some insurers employ an “anti-concurrent-causation” clause—this means that the insurer will not cover wind damage if flooding occurred concurrently, or at the same time, according to CFA. (Your claim may be denied because of this clause—if that’s the case, consult with an attorney, CFA advises.) Some insurers may also unfairly categorize losses as the result of flooding, rather than high winds.

“Because so many consumers experienced claims problems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, we urge homeowners dealing with losses caused by Hurricane Matthew to be vigilant with their insurance companies to ensure that they receive a full and fair settlement,” Hunter said.

However, “not all insurance companies handle claims badly, so go into the claims process with an open mind,” Hunter added.

Source: Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Do You Know How Often Smoke Alarms Should Be Replaced?

October 13, 2016 12:51 am


Most of us don’t.

You may already be aware you should test the smoke alarms in your house each month. Did you know you should also replace those alarms every 10 years?

Most homeowners, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), are unaware of this guideline—in fact, nine out of 10 in a recent survey by the organization did not know alarms expire. What’s more: one in five has an alarm in their home that is more than 10 years old, and an identical proportion does not know how old their alarms are at all.

“While the public generally knows that smoke alarms play an important role in home fire safety, some smoke alarm messages are not as well understood,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, in a statement. “Not knowing how often smoke alarms need to be replaced—or that they even have an expiration date—are among them.”

Homeowners should inspect their smoke alarms for the “date of manufacture,” which is generally on the back or side of the device—this date indicates age, according to NFPA. The date of manufacture is not the same as the date of purchase or date of installation.

“Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” Carli added. “That’s why it’s so important to make sure they’re working properly."

Aside from testing alarms on a monthly basis, Carli and NFPA recommend replacing the batteries as soon as the warning chirp sounds.

Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Top 10 Leaf-Peeping Locales This Fall

October 12, 2016 12:51 am


On the road in search of color-changing foliage this fall? Take in awe-inspiring autumn vistas at these leaf-peeping locales, recently ranked by Booking.com.

1. Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee)
Come for: 100-plus species of native trees
Stay for: Blue Mountain Mist Country Inn & Spa, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

2. Aspen (Colorado)
Come for: Aspen trees
Stay for: Limelight Hotel, Aspen, Colo.

3. Lake Superior (Minnesota)
Come for: North Woods, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Stay for: Grand Superior Lodge, Two Harbors, Minn.

4. Geneva Lake (Wisconsin)
Come for: 19th century shoreline properties
Stay for: Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, Wis.

5. The Berkshires (Massachusetts)
Come for: Antique shops, art galleries
Stay for: Orchards Hotel, Williamstown, Mass.

6. June Lake (California)
Come for: Outdoor recreation, Sierra Nevada
Stay for: Double Eagle Resort & Spa, June Lake, Calif.

7. The Green Mountains (Vermont)
Come for: Long Trail
Stay for: Edson Hill, Stowe, Vt.

8. The Poconos (Pennsylvania)
Come for: Outdoor recreation, seasonal events
Stay for: Skytop Lodge, Skytop, Pa.

9. The Ozarks (Missouri)
Come for: Orange sassafras, purple sweetgum and red maple trees
Stay for: The Lodge at Old Kinderhook, Camdentown, Mo.

10. Hudson River Valley (New York)
Come for: Adirondack Mountains
Stay for: Blue Pearl Woodstock, Woodstock, N.Y.

Source: Booking.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags: