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

Holiday Scammers: Signs to Watch For

November 13, 2014 2:25 am

Scammers love a holiday, and all types of hoaxes tend to increase during the holiday season. The most common schemes to watch out for include:

Charity scams:
Bogus charities claiming to benefit disaster victims, sick children, police, firefighters and veterans and are among the most successful schemes, especially in duping older donors.

To avoid being scammed, don’t click on attachments or links in solicitation emails, which can unleash a virus into your computer. Ask callers for the organization’s phone number, then call the number to make sure a campaign is underway. Authenticate charities by checking names and reputations at the Wise Giving Alliance (operated by the Better Business Bureau), Charity Navigator or GuideStar, or by contacting the state agency that regulates charities where you live. Never provide a credit card number to telemarketers and beware of any group that offers to send a courier to pick up cash or a personal check at your home.

Benefit scams:
According to the Better Business Bureau, some scams promise cash payouts for pensions, but typically pay only 30 to 40 percent of their actual worth. Other hoaxes involve self-proclaimed "advocates" who promise benefits by transferring retirement assets into an irrevocable trust.

Beware of official-sounding names, and don’t depend on nursing homes, community centers and assisted living facilities to protect you; often they are paid a fee to let volunteers give presentations.

Car scams: Another ruse involves classified ads offering cars or other items in exchange for an upfront payment that never materializes.

Make sure you see the car and test drive it. Check Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book for realistic pricing information by vehicle year, make and model – and check out local inventory via AutoTrader.com. Get a photocopy of the vehicle title and registration, and do a CarFax check of its vehicle identification number to ensure its existence, location, and accident and repair history.

Source: AARP New York

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Most Homeowners Leave Home Improvement Projects Unfinished

November 13, 2014 2:25 am

According to a recent survey released by Black+Decker, more than half of U.S. homeowners (52 percent) currently have unfinished home improvement projects and the vast majority (78.7 percent) have two or more incomplete projects.

“We’ve all been there – the project is halfway done, but life gets in the way. Walk one step away from a project and there’s a chance you’ll never go back,” says Allison Nicolaidis, president of Black+Decker. The survey revealed that time is the biggest factor in leaving a project incomplete, with respondents reporting that they do not set deadlines when taking on a project.

Finances are the second biggest reason home improvement projects go unfinished, followed by skill-level.

The most common unfinished projects are room improvements (repairs, maintenance, updates, upgrades), followed by walls, including plaster repair, painting or shelf installation. However, family events are the biggest motivation for homeowners to complete those projects.

When asked how they feel about home improvement projects, respondents were most likely to feel “challenged,” but also “proud” and “accomplished.”

Source: Black+Decker

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Home Protection Tips For Snowbird Travelers

November 13, 2014 2:25 am

With last year's polar vortex fresh in the minds of many Americans, the flock of snowbird travelers could grow considerably this season as folks head to the sunny states. Whether families spend a couple of weeks or the majority of the winter in a different state, preparing a residence for a prolonged absence is important. Snowbird travelers must protect their homes from the forces of nature and potential burglars or trespassers.

Protect your home before you fly the coop with these tips.
1. Forward mail, stop newspapers and have a neighbor collect fliers. A house with mail and papers piling up is a sure sign the owners have flown the coop.
2. If absent during the growing season, snowbird homeowners must make sure someone is mowing the lawn. This maintains the appearance that someone is in the residence and keeps the property in compliance with local ordinances.
3. Ensure motion sensing exterior lights are working, some interior lights are on timers and alarm systems are activated.
4. Close fireplace flus to prevent birds, bats and rodents from making their way indoors.
5. Clean the kitchen and pantries before leaving. Even a small amount of garbage or loose food could be signal to bugs that the buffet is open.
6. For season-long trips, it's a good idea to unplug and defrost freezers and refrigerators and turn off the water.
Source: Aprilaire

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During Holiday Gatherings, Spend Time Assessing Aging Family Members

November 12, 2014 2:37 am

With fuel prices the lowest in four years, more than 40 million Americans are expected to take to the roadways, railways and airways as they head home for the holidays. Take advantage of one of the few occasions when multiple generations gather under one roof to observe signs of decline in aging loved ones.

"Adult family members visiting their parents over the holidays should be aware of the obvious,” says Mary Merrell Bailey, an estate planning attorney. Bailey suggests watching out for a combination of the following factors:
  • Is the mail piled up or unopened, or are there notices from creditors?
  • Were mom's family recipes burned or not cooked enough?
  • Is there insufficient food in the pantry or decaying food in the refrigerator?
  • Are the pets being cared for and is the home being maintained as usual?
  • Does the car have signs of damage?
  • Are there changes in personality, hygiene, or ability to engage in dinner conversation?
According to Bailey, spotting issues early on can help ensure that seniors who are living independently will receive proper care if their condition progresses. Mismanagement of financial and legal affairs, which often occurs with diminished capacity, can be addressed through legal guardianship proceedings.

Source: Your Caring Law Firm

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How Millennials Can Affordably Personalize a Home

November 12, 2014 2:37 am

(BPT) - Every generation of homeowners has its design priorities. Baby boomers, for example, tend to seek home design that accommodates aging in place, while Generation X desires features that facilitate busy lifestyles. Millennials, on the other hand, crave decor that blends personalization, energy-efficiency and family-friendly features. Since many millennial homeowners are just starting out in their personal and professional lives, affordability is essential.

Millennials can achieve a personal look without breaking the bank. Meet your needs with these tips for budget-friendly design.

Paint is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to give your favorite interior spaces an instant facelift. Gray has become the must-have neutral, while pops of color add energy throughout any season. Place an accent color on a singular focal wall or add a border between the ceiling and the wall color for a subtle pop that adds timeless style.

Repurpose furnishings. Whether it's an heirloom china cabinet that's been in your family for generations, a rocking chair from a secondhand store or that shabby but still comfy sofa from your parents' living room, repurposed furniture can add a personalized look to your decor at a fraction of the cost of new items. Inspect all the parts of a refurnished piece to ensure they're in good repair; tighten screws, apply wood glue where needed and add a fresh finish or new upholstery. Personalizing a repurposed piece creates a unique look at little cost, and by reusing an older piece, you're doing something good for the environment, too.

Upgrade lighting
for a cost-effective way to personalize the look of a room. There are a variety of fixtures available to suit every decorating taste. Simply switching out an ordinary fixture in the breakfast nook, dining room or family room for a design that speaks to you can elevate a room's personal feel. Outfit new fixtures with electricity-sipping CFLs or LEDs. Such bulbs produce the same level of light as incandescent bulbs, and they use about 80 percent less electricity. Plus, they can last eight years or longer.

Make your own wall art for a deeply personal touch. You don't need to be an artist or even particularly crafty to create your own wall decorations. Look online for wall art that appeals to your sense of style, then search for instructional videos and guides that can help you achieve the same look on your own. Whether you opt for hand-framed prints you created yourself, an arrangement of mirrors as an accent on one wall or creative treatments of your favorite family photos, wall art is an easy, cost-effective way to create a personal look in any room.

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Step Up Your Energy Efficiency This Winter

November 12, 2014 2:37 am

Days are getting shorter, the weather outside is getting cooler, and the holiday season is right around the corner. It is during this time of year people are spending more time indoors, cranking up the heat, and using more lighting throughout their home, which ultimately leads to higher energy bills. Porch.com, the world’s home improvement network, advises homeowners to reduce their energy bills by choosing energy efficient light bulbs.

“People don’t have to invest a lot of time and money to make a difference. Little changes such as switching to energy efficient light bulbs add up,” says Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of Porch.com. “In fact, an average American household can save over $200 per year by replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs.”

For those who have not switched over to energy efficient light bulbs (compact fluorescent lights [CFLs], light-emitting diodes [LEDs], and halogen incandescent light bulbs), the American Lighting Association recommends investigating different lighting options. “Only around 10 percent of the energy in old style incandescent light bulbs goes towards lighting, with the remaining 90 percent of energy spent on producing heat,” says Larry Lauck, American Lighting Association.

In fact, the wasted heat produced by just 34 incandescent 60W bulbs producing 850 lumens of light each would be enough to cook your Thanksgiving turkey at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It would take a whopping 258 LED bulbs, or 850 lumens each, to waste the same amount of heat.

Lauck advises that the first thing homeowners do is identify the lights in their home that are on for a significant amount of time. For many people, this could be porch lights or outdoor lighting. Both are best suited for LEDs as they have the greatest energy savings and last over 20 years.

When considering lighting options in a kitchen or bathroom, Lauck encourages homeowners to talk to a professional. Unlike old style incandescent light bulbs which all have a universal warm yellow hue, energy efficient light bulbs come in an array of colors ranging from cool to warm hues. Professionals can speak to color temperature, dimming features, and energy efficiency to help homeowners choose the right light bulb for their space.

Source: Porch.com

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How to Safely Prepare a Thanksgiving Meal

November 11, 2014 2:49 am

(Family Features) One of the most memorable moments at any holiday dinner is when the turkey is brought to the table. Make sure your holiday meal is a special one by following these simple tips for preparing your turkey safely.
  • Don’t unwrap a frozen turkey before thawing.
  • Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds in weight. For example, a 20-pound bird takes four days to thaw. Thaw it faster by covering with cold water in the sink and changing the water every half hour per pound of turkey.
  • Refrigerate the turkey as soon as it has thawed or cook it immediately.
  • Lay a tent of foil loosely over the turkey to prevent over-browning.
  • Never partially cook a turkey. Always cook it completely once started.
  • The turkey is done when the meat thermometer is 180°F and the stuffing is 165°F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, look for the red stem to go up on the pop-up timer. Press a thumb and forefinger into the thick part of the drumstick to see if it feels soft or wiggle a drumstick to see if it moves easily.
  • For easier carving, let the turkey stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
Source: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv

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Three Winter Home Upgrades That Add Resale Value

November 11, 2014 2:49 am

According to the Appraisal Institute, homeowners should take steps to winterize their homes in order to reduce energy costs, increase comfort in cold months and improve resale value.

“With the fall season coming to a close, now is a great time for homeowners to consider making seasonal updates to their properties,” says Appraisal Institute President Ken P. Wilson, MAI, SRA. “Not only can these types of home improvements make the cold weather manageable, many can provide a nice return on investment in resale value.”

The Appraisal Institute encourages homeowners to focus on three main updates this winter: windows, exteriors and furnaces.

Adding vinyl or wood windows to a home can have an average payback of nearly 80 percent, according to the Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. Vinyl and wood replacement windows have a higher projected return on investment than many other home improvement projects, including a bathroom addition, family room addition, garage addition or roof replacement.

That same study found that a combination of interior and exterior replacement projects retained the most value in home improvements. For example, a minor kitchen remodel returned nearly 83 percent of homeowners’ original investment, while a wood deck addition returned more than 87 percent.

A furnace doesn’t just provide heat and comfort during cold months, but proactively tuning or replacing a home’s furnace can alleviate issues when considering resale. According to Consumer Reports, the average lifespan of a furnace is 15 to 18 years. Homeowners should keep this timeframe in mind when debating servicing versus replacement.

Homeowners should contact an appraiser before deciding on any winterization projects. “A qualified, competent appraiser can make recommendations about which updates will likely provide the most impact on resale value, as well as how to not exceed community norms for the local area,” Wilson says.

Source: Appraisal Institute

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Hot Home Color Trends for 2015

November 11, 2014 2:49 am

(BPT) – It’s a strategy interior designers often use to create stunning rooms that wow the instant someone enters them: the use of creative color. Homeowners looking to deliver impressive interior style can take cues from what will be the trendiest hues of 2015 and beyond.

Homeowners can convey a variety of emotions in their favorite rooms by embracing different color palettes. From the sweet charm of pastels, to the comfortable ambience of neutral tones, to majestic deep and bright tones, 2015’s top color trends include:

Dreamy tones – Fantastical pigments like teal, charcoal and eggplant evoke a sense of wonder. Escape the everyday and recharge with dream-like shades in the master bedroom. Pair them with crisp white trim and opulent gold or zingy citrus accessories.

Frosted pastels – Soft blues and greys replace traditional pastels. For high contrast in the living room, combine these muted colors with striking accents, like ebony fireplace tiles or mauve window treatments.

Vibrant hues – Set the stage for lively conversation in the kitchen with energetic, attention-grabbing pure shades like red, blue, or orange. Balance brightness with grey on adjoining walls.

Nuanced neutrals
– Weathered, rustic colors, like pea green and copper, bring a dusty earth palette to a whole new level. Marry function and comfort in the guest bedroom with a mix of sandy beige and soft burgundy in the guest bedroom.

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7 Kinds of Toys to Avoid This Holiday Season

November 10, 2014 3:01 am

As leaves begin to turn and pumpkin patches spring up on every corner, it is a clear sign the holidays are approaching—and with them, the annual predictions of toys that will be ‘hot’ this season.

But full-time Mommy April McCormick, who blogs on parenting for first-time Moms and Dads, suggests (with tongue only slightly in cheek) that certain types of toys should be strictly avoided if you wish to maintain a peaceful household:

Toys that make annoying noises—Kids love them, but the police car or fire truck that belts out screeching sirens on command may have a hidden agenda designed to send parents to the loony bin.

Toys with sensors that go off when you walk by—Try sneaking out of your child’s room after a marathon effort to get him to sleep when some watchful robot in the corner of the room senses your footsteps and bleeps him back into wakefulness.

Toys with teeny tiny parts—If they don’t end up in your child’s mouth or in the dog’s mouth, they will surely turn up to inflict mighty pain every time you step on them barefoot.

Toys that are part of a set or collection—Warning: you will then have to buy every style, color and special release in the collection and then look out for the next hot set of collectibles.

Ride-on toys your kid can’t manage alone—Do not buy a trike or bike until she’s old enough to ride it on her own. Otherwise, you risk major back pain from leaning over for hours at a time until she is able to master it.

Children’s books you do not love—Better pick one you won’t tire of. If it becomes his favorite, you will be asked to read it a minimum of 10,000 times.

Toys that require assembly of more than three parts—(Think Barbie’s Dream House and related.) Three pages of instructions you can’t make sense of is enough to drive you to drink. Sometimes the empty carton the thing came in is more fun than the toy, anyway.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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