RE/MAX 440
Peter Patkos
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-327-7491
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Fax: 267-354-6879
Peter Patkos

My Blog

More Homeowners Go Smart for Security

October 21, 2015 2:30 am

Of all the benefits that smart home technology has to offer, security is the most sought after. According to Iris by Lowe’s annual Smart Home Survey, more than three in five Americans cite security as the top reason for owning a smart home product, and over half of Americans plan to purchase security cameras in the next year. Close to half of Americans also report that smart home products would help cut costs and save money on energy bills, and make their home more convenient overall.

In addition, results from the survey reveal that when it comes to purchasing considerations, cost of equipment, monthly fees, ease of use and energy-efficient are the most important deciding factors. Interestingly, parents with children under the age of 18 in the home are nearly three times as likely to purchase smart home products in the next year as those without.

When breaking down the results cross-country, Southerners are more likely than those in the Midwest to purchase smart home products for security benefits. Smart home product owners in the Northeast wish they could adjust their thermostats or start their coffee pots from their beds, likely due to the region’s colder climate.

The number one place Americans are most likely to buy a smart home product is at a home improvement store, either in-store or online.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Most Popular Aging-in-Place Projects

October 21, 2015 2:30 am

For those who plan to age in place in their current home, household improvements in key areas can boost their overall quality of living. According to a recent Aging-in-Place Report by HomeAdvisor, more than half of homeowners aged 65-plus desire home automation systems, such as thermostats and lighting; nearly 15 percent desire assistive technology, such as automated countertops and shelving; and 10 percent desire in-home health monitoring systems, such as heart rate trackers or fall monitors.

The report also uncovered the most common projects related to aging in place. These are:

• Adding Grab Bars

• Building a Disability Ramp

• Installing a Stair Lift

• Adding a Personal Alert System

When hiring a professional to complete an aging-in-place project, almost three-quarters of homeowners make contact with the professional themselves, followed by the homeowner’s daughter.

Source: HomeAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.


12 "Digital Chores" for Your Household

October 20, 2015 2:27 am

From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, the Internet is the enabling thread that holds together our day. This increased connectivity, however, and our ever-growing number of connected devices have also made us more vulnerable to cybercrime. Against this backdrop, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) strongly recommend households complete the following “digital chores.”

• Create an inventory of all Internet-connected devices in your home.

• Use two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication (where available) ‒ and long, strong and unique passwords for all accounts.

• Own your online presence.

• Review privacy settings available on social networking sites, cellphones, and other social tools the family uses. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection.

• Secure your router. Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as "the Jones Family" or "123 Elm Street."

• Take action if your personal information is compromised. If you are a victim of cybercrime, report to law enforcement and other appropriate organizations, such as banks and credit card companies, etc.

• Connect smartly. Before connecting new devices, understand how to use any security and privacy settings and how to maintain the security of the device.

• Keep a clean machine. On a weekly basis, check every device to make sure everyone is keeping their devices secure by installing updates of apps, operating systems and security software to prevent against malware infections.

• It's also a good practice to protect homework, pictures, music and other vital family information by creating an electronic copy and storing it safely in the cloud, on a CD, USB or external hard drive once a week.

• Share with care. Always remember that before posting online about your kids, think about how it may be perceived now, how he or she might feel in the future, and who might see it. Engage in a conversation with your children about what they are comfortable with you posting and start by deleting posts that may make them feel uncomfortable.

• Include discussions about online safety and security as part of your regular conversations with your kids. Ask them what they do online, what new websites or apps they have used or want to use, and what their friends are doing online.

• Conduct a quarterly clean up. Go through files on your devices and delete things no longer needed, such as numerous draft documents, unflattering or no longer needed photos, old bookmarks, etc.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips for Filing a Flood Insurance Claim

October 20, 2015 2:27 am

If your property has been heavily damaged during severe weather, filing an insurance claim should be first on your list of post-storm to-dos. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), when filing a homeowners or auto insurance claim, the first step is to call your insurance professional as soon as possible to start the claims process. If the storm caused you to relocate, let your company know where you are currently residing and how best to reach you.

Flood damage to either a residence or business is covered by policies provided by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as a few private insurance companies. Keep in mind that standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies do not cover flood damage. The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy covers flood-related damage.

When filing your flood insurance claim:

1. Locate the insurance company name and your policy number before calling your insurance professional.

2. Provide a list of damaged property to help your adjuster prepare a loss estimate. This includes a written inventory along with receipts, bills and photos, if possible.

3. Check with your adjuster before discarding flood-damaged items. If local authorities require disposal of these items for health or safety reasons, photograph them first for your records.

4. Understand that flood claim payment checks from your insurance company are often made payable to both you and your mortgage lender.

5. Make sure you understand what forms need to be filled out and when.

Homeowners, renters and businesses who sustained flood damage but were not covered by an NFIP policy may be eligible for state and federal assistance.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Mortgage Rates in 3-Month Holding Pattern

October 20, 2015 2:27 am

Mortgage rates remain below 4 percent – a trend that’s stayed virtually unchanged for 12 weeks straight, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Rates as they stand are:

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) – 3.82 percent (with an average 0.6 point)

15-year FRM – 3.03 percent (with an average 0.6 point)

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) – 2.88 percent (with an average 0.4 point)

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM – 2.54 percent (with an average 0.2 point)

Recent comments by the Federal Reserve suggesting it may not raise short-term interest rates, coupled with weaker-than-expected consumer demand, have pushed Treasury yields lower. This turn of events indicates interest rates may remain lower a while longer.

“As the shock of the September employment report wore off, Treasury rates drifted higher,” explains Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate climbed six basis points to 3.82 percent, marking 12 consecutive weeks below 4 percent.”

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


What Costumes Will Reign Supreme This Halloween?

October 19, 2015 2:27 am

It seems the Force will be with everyone this Halloween.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey, “Star Wars”-themed costumes will be most popular among adults, children and pets, along with “Minions”-themed ensembles.

“As we’ve seen for the past several years, Hollywood and pop culture both have a tremendous impact on how adults and their children decide to dress the part each Halloween, and it’s evident some of the biggest newsmakers of the year will be out in full force this fall,” says Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO.

More than 1.4 million adults and 1.8 million children will don a “Star Wars” get-up this year, according to the survey. Additionally, about one in 10 Halloween celebrants plan to dress their furry friends in costumes, including those of beloved “Star Wars” characters.

“It’s easier than ever for consumers to find creative Halloween costumes given the popularity of Pinterest and Instagram and the immediate access to pop culture trends,” says Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst with Prosper Insights, conductors of the survey. “It’s always a nice surprise to see what tops the list each year and to see just how creative people will get when it comes to what their own and even their pets’ costumes will be.”

Other top costumes for adults include:

- Witch

- Animal

- “Batman” Character

- Zombie

- Pirate

- Vampire

- Action/Super Hero

- Doctor/Nurse

- Slasher Movie Character

- Political

Other top costumes for children include:

- Princess

- “Batman” Character

- Action/Super Hero

- Animal

- “Frozen” Character

- Zombie

- Witch

- Pumpkin

Other top costumes for pets include:

- Pumpkin

- Hot Dog

- “Batman” Character

- Devil

- Bumblebee

- Dog

- Cat

- Shark

- Princess

Source: NRF

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Dos and Don'ts of Home Fire Safety

October 19, 2015 2:27 am

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, fire safety and preparedness is of the utmost importance. To protect against fires, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following dos and don’ts.

DO keep a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Stay safe with smoke alarms outside of every bedroom and each separate sleeping area.

DO address your needs. If you require eyeglasses, a hearing aid, a cane or a wheelchair, ensure they are next to your bed to quickly grab if necessary. If there is a fire, you may have less than three minutes to get out of your home. Be ready to act immediately.

DO make a fire escape plan with at least two ways out of every room. Identify a meeting place in the front of your home to verify that everyone is safe and help firefighters ensure everyone exited safely.

DON’T forget to test your smoke alarm every month. The risk of fatality in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. If your alarm doesn’t sound when tested, it’s time to replace it.

DON’T assume you’ll hear the fire alarm if it sounds. If you test the alarm and can’t hear it, consider getting a strobe light that will flash or a bed shaker that will shake when the smoke alarm sounds.

DON’T stop to call 911 until you’re safely outside and away from danger. Stay outside until the fire department says it’s safe to go back inside.

Source: FEMA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Tips to Make Your Home Hurricane-Ready

October 19, 2015 2:27 am

Many homeowners make preparations in the days leading up to a hurricane’s landfall, but that may not be soon enough, according to the disaster preparedness experts at Generac Power Systems.

"Hurricanes are unpredictable, so it's especially important for residents in areas that are in the projected path of the storm to prepare as early as possible," says Clement Feng, Generac's senior vice president of marketing. "Proper preparedness can make all the difference in severe weather situations."

If you’re not sure where to start, Feng recommends:

• Charging your electronics. Like storms, the power outages associated with them are very unpredictable. Our homes and lifestyles today are more reliant on technology than ever, so charge your cell phone, computer and other electronic devices before the storm hits. Put new batteries in flashlights and have a backup case of batteries in a watertight container.

• Removing outdoor furniture and loose foliage. Hurricane winds can reach 100 miles per hour or more depending on the storm's category. Outdoor furniture or loose foliage can become a projectile, causing damage to your home or nearby buildings. Bring them inside to eliminate the risk.

• Stocking up on essentials. Having gallons of water, a storage room with food, extra batteries and waterproof emergency numbers on hand is a smart idea on its own, but will come in extra handy if you can't leave your home during a hurricane.

• Choosing a backup power source. Generators can be lifesaving when severe weather causes an outage. From keeping refrigerated medicine cold to powering lights or a cell phone charger, generators are an important lifeline to keep families and homes safe and protected. Both portable and home standby generators offer benefits, and residents of all kinds are encouraged to include this technology as part of their preparedness plans.

Source: Generac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Weight Loss Tips that Have Nothing to Do with Diet or Exercise

October 16, 2015 2:21 am

A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for losing weight. But, says fitness trainer Kate Nugent, developing certain habits outside of your diet and exercise regimen can do a lot to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Help yourself along by trying these tips:

Get some sleep – A good night’s sleep can boost your mood, improve your work performance, and even help you keep your weight down. Studies show that people who regularly make do with less than seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to be overweight.

Sit down and chew – Studies also show that people who rush through meals, eat over the sink, or gulp down food also tend toward overweight. Sitting down to a meal and chewing thoroughly results in better weight control.

Snack right before food shopping – Going to the grocery store hungry leaves you open to temptation. Eat an apple or another fruit or veggie before shopping to help you make better food choices.

Eat from a plate, not out of a bag – It’s important that you see how much of a snack you're ingesting before you dive in. Count or pour out the portion you’re allowing yourself. Don’t eat out of the bag.

Use a smaller plate – This is about visual deception. Dishing out your meal onto a small plate will make the portions seem larger.

Out of sight, out of mind – Stow snack and junk foods out of plain sight; give healthier foods prime real estate in the fridge. Then go ahead and grab what you see first.

Stop wearing sweats around the house – Wearing something loose and comfy tends to make you pay less heed to what you’re eating. Wear clothes that encourage you to pay attention to what you ingest.

Relax a little – Stress has been shown to induce over-eating. On even your busiest days, take a couple of 10-minute breathers to read, listen to music, or just take a quick lie-down.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Prevent Property Damage from Critters

October 16, 2015 2:21 am

Even though human encounters with raccoons, squirrels and other foragers are uncommon, property damage and other nuisance behaviors are common, says Jim Doiron, a Terminix service manager. While keeping your yard clear from food waste, fallen tree berries and other tasty debris is a given, there are a few other preventative steps you can take, says Doiron:

1. For outdoor garbage, use a bin stored in a well-lit area that won’t tip, and add a weight or tie to the lid to stop scavengers from making a mess.

2. Around the house, make sure water hoses are completely off and try to remove all stagnant water.

3. Trimming trees and bushes back can stop critters from climbing rooftops and making nests.

4. Check the basic structural integrity of your home. Make sure you have reinforced screens, covered vents and secured soffits to keep foragers from moving in with you.

Source: Terminix

Published with permission from RISMedia.