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 
peterpatkos@remax440.com
Peter Patkos

My Blog

Warm up Your Home in Style This Winter

December 11, 2014 4:21 am

With winter temperatures set to fall to frosty levels, many families will be spending time at home this season. Despite the weather, homeowners can create a warm atmosphere by tapping into the unexpected beauty found during the winter months.

“Though it is often overlooked, winter is the perfect season to draw inspiration from with a palette of rich, on-trend colors, adding a sense of warmth within in the home,” says Julie Richard, Ace Hardware design expert.

Ace’s design experts recommend pairing winter color trends with smart design for cozy indoor get-togethers:
  • Casual elegance is trending this winter. Create an accent feature in the kitchen by painting a set of mismatched breakfast room chairs in the same color for a unified, unrefined look that is both pulled together and relaxed.
  • For a timeless, layered look, mix and match different elements in the same color. Go for a glamorous neutral palette with a classic fur throw, a thick and luxurious white flokati or shag rug, knit wool throw pillows and classic tweed upholstery fabrics. This touchable palette is classic and chic in tones of gray, taupe and ivory and is the perfect warm up to the cold weather.
  • Try this chic, unexpected update to the outside of your home to catch every neighbor's eye this season: window frames, mullions and muttons painted in very dark colors.
  • Bring in tile accents. Rather than a glass accent tile, look for a hand-painted, glazed and natural tile to achieve a classic look. Concrete tiles with color and pattern are a great update for a modern treatment.
  • Comfort and coziness are a must as the weather cools down. Utilize natural materials throughout your home, such as wood and antiqued leather. Add cut white birch logs to your fireplace for a warm update and try an upholstery piece covered in an antique-style woven rug to add rustic flair.
Source: Ace Hardware

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Survey: Financing Hard to Come by for Remodels

December 11, 2014 4:21 am

How difficult is it for homeowners to get financing for a remodeling project?

Recent research from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) concludes that the majority of professional contractors place obtaining financing in a ‘neutral’ to ‘difficult’ range. NARI’s Remodeling Business Pulse, which monitors the health of the remodeling industry, indicates that just 30 percent of contractors believe it is either ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ for clientele to secure funds.

An overly cautious financing company creates the biggest barrier for homeowners, according to 38 percent of professional contractors surveyed. High-cost projects relative to the home’s value were also a factor, with 27 percent of professional contractors reporting that cost vs. value concerns also resulted in obstacles for homeowners.

Poor credit history followed, but only for a few – just 11 percent of professional contractors believe it to be an impediment to a remodel.

The research also reveals:
  • If cash or checks were not used, banks or credit unions were the dominant source of financing (72 percent). Credit card usage for renovations accounted for only 20 percent of responses.
  • Very few professional contractors arranged financing for their client (6 percent).
  • Ninety-six percent of professional contractors accepted checks as a form of payment; one-quarter accepted credit cards, home equity loans, bank home improvement loans or cash.
Source: NARI

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Five Ideas to Wrap up Holiday Decorating

December 10, 2014 4:21 am

With the holidays (and a house full of guests) fast approaching, lighten your load and wow visitors this year with these last-minute finishing touches to your décor.

Few things make a home feel more like the holidays than a spectacular display of lights. Provide a warm welcome to friends and family by using 100 lights for every foot and a half of tree or shrub you want to cover.

Line the staircase with potted poinsettias, which start as low as $6 each and come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Deck out the foyer by grouping scented candles or votives on a side table for some instant cheer as guests arrive.

Fill glass vases or jars with ornaments or pinecones, and string holiday cards or ornaments around a mirror or tuck cards into a frame for a classic twist on a festive favorite.

In the living room, single out one focal point to decorate. For fireplaces, frame your hearth with pre-lit, artificial or live Christmas trees, or hang a wreath above the mantle. If you choose live trees, water them daily and make sure the trunk is always submerged in water.

Source: Lowe’s

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HELOCs Go Beyond Home Improvements

December 10, 2014 4:21 am

While half of homeowners who have a home equity line of credit (HELOC) acquired the loan for home renovations, an increasing number of homeowners rely on the loan for other needs, according to a recent Consumer Borrowing Index survey from TD Bank. Research from over 1,350 U.S. homeowners with a HELOC provides insight into those needs, along with usage and perceptions of the loan.

"We're seeing an increasing interest in HELOCs this year, suggesting a rebound in consumer confidence related to rising home values," said Michael Kinane, Head of Mortgage and Consumer Lending Products, TD Bank. "Using this type of financing to add value to your property is a strategic move when it comes to today's real estate market. HELOCs currently offer consumers the convenience and flexibility to borrow what they need at a better interest rate than most other lines of credit."

A HELOC is secured by a consumer's home and typically requires 80 percent equity. According to the Index, 53 percent of homeowners report the value of their home has increased within the past few years, meaning consumers have more equity in their homes to borrow. The survey also revealed that 30 percent of homeowners are applying for a HELOC of $100,000 or more, though the average loan secured is only $87,000. Those who shopped around tended to get a higher value loan. Additionally, individuals who went with their primary financial institution but did consider other lenders secured an average HELOC of $92,000, or $5,000 more than those who only considered their primary financial institution.

According to the Index, the top motivators behind acquiring a HELOC are:
  • Debt consolidation (29 percent)
  • Major home purchases (24 percent)
  • Emergency funds (19 percent)
  • Education costs (20 percent)
The Index also found that consumers are often using HELOC funds for expenses beyond those originally intended. For instance:
  • While 24 percent of HELOC borrowers used the loan for emergencies, a smaller 19 percent actually anticipated using it that way.
  • Twenty-seven percent purchased a new vehicle, while only 21 percent reported they intended to use the loan for this reason.
  • Although 18 percent of borrowers used their HELOC for medical and healthcare expenses, a slightly smaller 14 percent had actually anticipated using the loan for this reason.
Despite the popularity of HELOCs, there is still uncertainty and misunderstanding among many homeowners regarding the terms and conditions of their loan. The Index found:
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers are paying some form of HELOC fee, such as an annual fee (30 percent), origination fee (30 percent) or prepayment fee (15 percent). However, one in five homeowners are unsure if they are paying fees.
  • Half of those surveyed do not know if they have any fixed-rate opportunities during their draw period, which on average is between five and 10 years.
  • The majority of millennials (59 percent) surveyed think that a HELOC interest rate is higher than interest rates for a student loan; 43 percent believe HELOC rates are higher than credit card interest rates.
Source: TD Bank

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Four Tips for Optimal Lighting at Home

December 10, 2014 4:21 am

With each passing year, everyone requires more light to see properly. In a Catch-22 scenario, the amount of light required to sustain visual performance increases with age, and, over time, human eyes become more sensitive to glare – with more light often leading to increased glare, how can homeowners ensure they’re getting adequate lighting at home?

The American Lighting Association (ALA) encourages homeowners to consider user age as a factor when designing a lighting concept at home. A few simple lighting adjustments that will benefit aging eyes include:
  • Turning on one or two table lamps while watching television to reduce the contrast between the bright screen and surrounding darkness
  • Using a torchiere for uplighting along with downward illumination for versatility
  • Installing a fixture with a separate, pivoting task light attached, or one with a glass bowl at the top to shine light downward
  • Exposing yourself to bright light, such as daylight, early in the morning and sleep in a dark room at night
“As people get older, it isn’t just the amount of light – it is also when it is applied that is key to regulating things such as circadian rhythm and REM sleep cycles,” says Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering for the ALA.

Source: ALA

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Childproof Your Home's Holiday Decor

December 9, 2014 4:21 am

Decorating your home for the holidays can be one of the most enjoyable family traditions, with children often forming lasting memories of holidays spent at home. During the excitement, it’s important to remain vigilant and identify potential safety hazards while decorating.

The Window Covering Safety Council recommends these child-safe decorating tips to ensure your home remains both safe and beautiful for children this season.
  • Inspect both new and old lights for broken sockets or frayed wires, and discard any damaged sets.
  • Switch off all holiday lights when your family goes to sleep or leaves the home.
  • Place your tree or menorah away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.
  • Always keep burning candles within sight and extinguish them before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, or ones with small pieces.
  • Do not use decorations that resemble candy or something a child would attempt to eat.
  • Keep hot food and liquids out of reach of children.
  • Make sure that tasseled pull cords on window coverings are short and continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall. Make sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner lift cords.
Source: WCSC

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Six Ways to Relieve Workplace Neck Pain

December 9, 2014 4:21 am

Chronic osteoarthritis conditions result from extended periods of sitting and poor posture – both of which occur in an office setting. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 27 million Americans suffer from some form of osteoarthritis, with the majority reporting increases in neck pain after spending hours hunched over a computer screen.

The next time you sit down at work, prevent or ease neck pain with these tips:

1. Take standing breaks.
Don’t be afraid to step away from your keyboard during the workday. Go outside to get some fresh air, stretch, or visit a coworker’s desk instead of sending an email.

2. Keep feet flat on the floor. This technique prevents your back from arching, straightening your posture.

3. Use a headset to talk on the phone. If you spend the majority of your day using the phone, reduce strain on your neck with a headset.

4. Avoid carrying heavy items on one shoulder. Alternate shoulders when carrying heavy items, such as a purse or briefcase, to avoid aggravating the muscles in your neck and upper back.

5. Disconnect during the evening. With the average full-time office employee spending more than 40 hours per week in front of a computer screen, consider unplugging your electronic devices and spending time relaxing.

6. Stay active. Movement helps reduce stiffness, increase flexibility and strengthen joints.

Source: Massage Envy Spa

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Holiday Home Concerns Differ between Men and Women

December 9, 2014 4:21 am

Men and women have slight differences in what concerns them most when protecting their home or apartment during the holidays, according to a recently released survey by Protect Your Bubble. Theft and burglary top the list of concerns overall, but men and women have different views when it comes to home appliances.

“Millions of people look forward to the holidays all year because it’s a joyous time to be with friends and family,” said David Anderson, Director of Product at Protect Your Bubble. “Conversely, the holiday season also amplifies anxiety for many since there is a multitude of ways harm can find us, from increased travel headaches and damaged devices in the snow to malicious identity threats during times of increased online shopping.”

Among the highlights of the survey:

Home Security Concerns

Overall, the majority of respondents (68 percent) said they are most worried about a theft or burglary during the holidays. Fire damage while home or away represented 17 percent of concerns, while water damage while home or away represented 13 percent of concerns. In addition:
  • More men are concerned with theft from their apartment or home, while most women are concerned with damage from pests or water.
Identity Theft Concerns

In response to all the recent attention on data breaches, most women say they do not plan on changing their shopping habits when it comes to identity theft (51 percent), while most men (38 percent) say the recent data breaches concern them and they will step up their efforts to protect their identity this holiday season. In addition:
  • Most men say they would use mobile payments about 50 percent of the time if it was as widely accepted as credit cards, while most women say they are still unsure of mobile technology.
Home Appliance Concerns
  • Most women are concerned with mechanical problems, while most men are concerned with getting prompt, in-home repairs.
  • Women are more concerned with protecting the refrigerator and washing machine, while men are concerned about protecting the microwave. Women are also slightly more concerned with food spoilage in their refrigerator should mechanical problems or power surge occur.
Source: Protect Your Bubble

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Housing Program Enhancements to Help Struggling Homeowners

December 8, 2014 4:21 am

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced enhancements to programs under Making Home Affordable (MHA) to better assist struggling homeowners and communities still recovering from the effects of the financial crisis. The enhancements are designed to motivate homeowners in MHA to continue making their mortgage payments on time, strengthen the safety net for those facing continuing financial hardships, and help homeowners in MHA programs build equity in their homes.

"[This] announcement signals our commitment to helping more hardworking families continue the American dream of homeownership," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. "These enhancements will expand the opportunity for more folks to stay in their home, stabilizing local communities and continuing our nation's positive economic momentum."

The Treasury and HUD established HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program®) in 2009 to provide relief to homeowners facing financial hardship. Through a combination of lowered interest rates and modified loan terms, monthly payments are reduced to affordable levels. In addition, many homeowners who remain current following their modification are eligible to earn up to $5,000 over the first five years of their modification, which is applied in repayment of their outstanding principal balance.

Under the revised guidelines, all homeowners in HAMP will now be eligible to earn $5,000 in the sixth year of their modification, which will reduce their outstanding principal balance by as much as $10,000. Homeowners will also be offered an opportunity to re-amortize the reduced mortgage balance, which will have the effect of lowering their monthly payment. Currently, approximately one million homeowners with HAMP modifications are eligible to earn the increased HAMP incentive.

In addition, in an effort to bolster the safety net for homeowners who face difficulty making their payments in HAMP Tier 1 or similar non-HAMP modifications, Treasury and HUD have introduced enhancements to HAMP Tier 2 and the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives® (HAFA) Program.

HAMP Tier 2 is an alternative modification that provides a low fixed rate for the life of the loan to homeowners who do not qualify for or cannot sustain a HAMP Tier 1 modification. The enhancements include reducing the interest rate for HAMP Tier 2 by 50 basis points, which will enable more homeowners to qualify for a modification, and extending the $5,000 pay-for-performance incentive to HAMP Tier 2 borrowers in good standing at the end of the sixth year of their modification.

HAFA assists homeowners who need to transition to a more affordable living situation through a short sale or deed-in-lieu. Treasury and HUD also announced that they have increased the amount of relocation assistance provided to homeowners to $10,000 to better reflect increased rents and the cost of moving in many parts of the country.

If you are a homeowner in need of mortgage assistance, please visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov to explore all options available to help you avoid foreclosure.

Source: HUD.gov

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Tips to Keep Household Tools in Tip-top Shape

December 8, 2014 4:21 am

(BPT) - From painting supplies to gardening and handheld tools, buying well-made home improvement tools can have an impact on project results. The tools you use may be an investment, so you'll want to take care of them to ensure they last for more than just one project.

Painting tools – Painting is the easiest and most cost-effective way to transform a space or revive an outdated piece of furniture. It's important to clean paint brushes and reusable rollers immediately after use. A mixture of warm water and mild soap suds is the best cleaning solution for latex- or water-based paints. When cleaning oil-based paints, varnishes, lacquers and shellacs, closely follow the manufacturer's instructions to select the proper cleaning solvent, such as paint thinner or denatured alcohol. Consider using one set of synthetic brushes or rollers for oil-based products and another set for latex products.

Avoid soaking paint brushes in solvent or water as this can damage the bristles. A paint brush comb is an easy way to keep your brushes in tip-top shape after cleaning. For best results, comb both the edge and center of the brush to prevent paint buildup during use and extend the life of any brush.

It's also important to hang brushes when storing them; never store a paint brush on its tip, which can result in "curling." After washing used roller covers, string them on rope or dowels to aid in drying. To ensure a nice, smooth finish the next time you have to paint, don't stand the paint roller on its end or lay it down.

Gardening tools – After a day spent doing yard work, it's important to clean off any shovels, hoes or rakes. Moist soil on metal surfaces can result in rust, so hose off tools and towel dry them after each use. Use a wire brush or wire-steel pad attached to a power drill to remove rust or other debris from metal tool parts. Make the most of your storage space or garage and hang garden tools by their handles to prevent damage and avoid clutter.

Store smaller garden tools like shears, trowels and soil scoops in a sand-filled trough. Fill a 13-inch by 15-inch plastic or galvanized container with sand to within an inch of the top, pour in 1/4 cup of motor oil and stir. Place the tools in the sand with the handles out. The sand helps the tools stay clean and sharp while the oil prevents any rust buildup. Keep the container in your garage or shed to avoid the elements.

Handheld workshop tools - Quality hammers, screw drivers, cordless drills and the like can be costly. Given enough time, rust will damage metal permanently. For rust removal on handheld tools and corroded nuts and bolts, soak them in vinegar for a few days and rinse with warm water. Another way to remove rust is to gently scrape the tool with a wire brush.

When cleaning power tools, wear heavy duty gloves and disconnect all power cords. With a toothbrush, clean around any switches that may interfere with the proper operation of the machine. If you are cleaning a chainsaw, jigsaw or similar power tool, use an air compressor to blow out any sawdust that's collected within the crevices.

A little extra time spent cleaning and storing tools after a home improvement project can keep them looking and working their best. Protect your tool investments and be the ultimate weekend warrior with proper storage and organization.

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