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

Top Five Natural Food Trends Revealed: Who is Buying and Why

September 9, 2013 2:24 am

New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group have released the top five natural products industry food trends in the U.S. market as consumers shift strongly to healthier eating and embrace a renewed focus on health and disease prevention. In 2012, U.S. consumer sales of natural, organic, and functional foods and beverages totaled $94.7 billion of the overall $703 billion food pie. Here are the current five natural food trends:

1. Convenience is King: One-hundred million (or nearly half) of American adults today are single and many of them live alone. Given that so many people are flying solo, we're spending less time in the kitchen. One potentially lucrative (at least in the long term) demographic is the millennials, as they are entering adulthood now and view health, nutrition and branding differently than boomers.

2. Allergen Concerns on the Rise: Six million children have food allergies, according to the Pediatrics Journal. Ninety percent of all food allergy reactions are caused by eight major foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Americans are awakening to their allergies, more manufacturers are creating entirely free-from products so consumers can enjoy without worry.

3. Meat Free Mentality: One-third of Americans now report eating vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time, and 48 percent of U.S. shoppers seek good-tasting vegetarian food, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group's 2011 national poll. Even if they are not full-fledged vegetarians or vegans, a growing number of consumers fall into the "flexitarian" bucket—meaning that they are looking to cut at least some meat from their diets and replace it with plant-based foods.

4. Labeling Goes Local: Seventy-five percent of natural food retailers say local is the most influential product claim in grocery right now. People, seeking to connect with where their food is sourced and support nearby businesses are increasingly seeking this claim. Local is expected to continue to gain prominence over the next three to five years, thanks to forces such as the Slow Food and Slow Money movements, which are effectively spreading the word about the social, economic and health benefits of buying close to home.

5. It's Cool to Care: Driven by passionate entrepreneurs who care as much (if not more) about creating positive change in the world as they do about making money, cause marketing is gaining ground. Food and beverage companies must take on a whole new approach to marketing and branding to win over consumers. By 2018, Whole Foods Market announced that all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores containing genetically modified ingredients must be labeled.

Source: Penton

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Survey Ranks Consumer Preferences for New Vehicles

September 6, 2013 2:21 am

Both car and light-truck shoppers ranked Quality/Dependability as the number one factor considered when making a new-vehicle purchasing decision, according to the latest survey from NADAguides.com.

Fuel Economy, cited as the most important preference of both car and light-truck buyers in last year's survey, was selected as the second-most important factor by car shoppers in this year's survey. Light-truck shoppers ranked Brand as number two, one spot ahead of Fuel Economy.

"While higher gasoline prices and stiffer federal regulations have raised the profile of fuel economy over the past few years, the survey results clearly indicate that car and light-truck shoppers are looking for a trouble-free ownership experience above all else," said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide.

Quality/Dependability, Brand, Fuel Economy and Vehicle Design were the top preferences for both car and light-truck shoppers surveyed.

Car Shopper Survey Results
Just like the results from the fall survey in 2012, car shoppers showed a significant preference for Vehicle Design, Safety and Fuel Economy, with an average 69 percent of respondents citing these factors as either important or very important.

On average, 60 percent of respondents shopping for a car rated Versatility/Utility and Power/Performance as either important or very important. Similarly, an average 58 percent of car shoppers rated cost of ownership factors, such as Warranty Coverage, Depreciation and Maintenance Fees, as either important or very important.

Car shopper preferences for Navigation System, Smartphone Connectivity and Driver-Assist Technologies were ranked the lowest by survey participants.

"With the advent of smartphones, particularly with its navigation capabilities, the desirability of built-in navigation systems seems to be waning among those surveyed," Banks added.

Light-Truck Shopper Survey Results
The preferences of light-truck shoppers surveyed were similar to car shoppers when determining the factors that had the greatest influence on their next vehicle purchase, although the ranking of each preference differed slightly.

Safety, Versatility/Utility, Vehicle Design and Fuel Economy rounded out the top-five preferences of survey respondents shopping for a light truck.

Similar to the survey respondents shopping for a new car, an average 58 percent of light-truck shoppers rated ownership cost factors, excluding Insurance Fees, as important or very important. Smartphone Connectivity, Navigation System and Driver-Assist Technologies were ranked by light-truck shoppers as unimportant or very unimportant.

Banks pointed out that only 50 percent of survey respondents shopping for light trucks considered Towing/Payload Capacity to be important or very important. The preference of Towing/Payload Capacity increased in importance for shoppers of full-size pickup trucks and large utility vehicles, while Fuel Economy dropped.

Source: NADAguides.com

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The Hazards of False Alarms and How to Prevent Them

September 6, 2013 2:21 am

The event of a security system's alarm being inadvertently activated, or a false alarm being triggered, is a growing issue in communities throughout the nation that extends far beyond inconvenience. A professionally installed security system is designed to provide its users protection from loss of property, physical damage and even personal injury. However, when local authorities are constantly dispatched in response to false alarms, this not only results in losses of both taxpayer-funded work time and money, but also cultivates a habit of hesitation among law enforcement officials when a real alarm signal is received. In the event of a true emergency, the impact that the high volume of false alarms can have on the appropriate and timely response from law enforcement, as well as on the peace of mind and well-being of a community, has become increasingly problematic.

As a result, to combat the high volume of unnecessary false alarms and in an effort to raise awareness of the wasted law enforcement resources, many cities and states across the United States have begun implementing two different types of false alarm prevention programs.

1. False Alarm Fines: A penalty is issued to users with repeated false alarm responses to a specific property over a period of time. Beyond a fine, this can even lead to placement on a "No Response" list by law enforcement.

2. Verified Response or Enhanced Call Verification: New laws now being enforced by many cities and states require that an alarm call first be verified, either by audio or video, or in some cases, multiple calls to the end user, before law enforcement is dispatched.

Sonitrol has compiled some simple steps to ensure the proper operation and efficiency of an electronic security system. Making sure the security system is used properly and the users are properly trained are the easiest and most essential actions to reducing false alarms. By following these basic procedures, false alarms can be greatly reduced or even eliminated from homes and business:

1. Make sure the security system provider's central monitoring station has current contact information so that the correct and timely notifications can be made.

2. If the security system has motion sensors, keep pets out of the area of protection to prevent unintentional activation of the system.

3. Make sure that the perimeter security of the protected facility is maintained. Repair all loose fitting doors and overhead doors that do not seal properly. Be sure all door and windows are locked when the facility is closed.

4. Be sure that all users are trained on how to arm and disarm the system, as well as how to call and cancel an unintentional alarm. This includes neighbors who have keys to a house while the user is on vacation.

5. Make sure that exit and entry delay times allow enough time to exit the premises when arming the system and enough time to disarm upon entry.

6. Keep the system properly maintained. Obsolete or malfunctioning equipment will add to the false alarm problem.

7. Strongly consider upgrading to newer technology, specifically to a system that offers a verified solution, if the current system is older. Just like PCs and mobile devices, technology in security systems is constantly changing for the better.

8. Make sure that the stand-by batteries are properly charged. If the stand-by batteries, designed to run a security system in the event of a power failure, are not functioning properly, neither will the security system.

9. Make sure that communication lines (phone line, internet, cellular) are in proper working order. Security systems require communication between the premise and central monitoring station to operate properly.

10. During any renovations, please contact the security provider so that they may assist in the modifications of the security system to avoid any problems associated with construction.

Source: Sonitrol

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Mortgage Rates up on Signs of Stronger Economic Recovery

September 6, 2013 2:21 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving back up near their highs for the year amid recent data pointing to signs of a stronger economic recovery, as well as positive news coming from the housing and manufacturing sectors.

Findings:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.57 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 5, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 4.51 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.55 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.54 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.86 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.28 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.24 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.71 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.64 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.61 percent.

"Mortgage rates edged up this week on signs of a stronger economic recovery,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. .”Real GDP was revised upwards to 2.5 percent growth in the second quarter of this year. In addition, residential construction spending rose for a ninth consecutive month in July. Lastly, the manufacturing industry expanded by the fastest pace in August since June 2011."

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8 Ways to Cook Healthier Meals

September 5, 2013 2:15 am

Some Moms sneak veggies into their picky eaters’ diets by grating a little carrot into the tuna salad or even zucchini into chocolate cookies. Nutritionist Rachel Warren suggests eight more easy ways to make all your family meals more nutritious:

Split the fats and spare the sugar – Most recipes don’t need to be followed exactly. Sautee ingredients in a mixture of butter and olive oil instead of butter or corn oil – and you can shave a quarter cup of sugar from most cake and cookie recipes without sacrificing taste.

Dress chicly – Instead of using dressings made with oil, puree an avocado with herbs of your choice and pour it over your salad. Or use a little balsamic syrup (thicker and sweeter than balsamic vinegar) to dress salads or drizzle on meats before grilling.

Skim the cream - Take fat and calories out of classic comfort foods by mashing potatoes with unsweetened almond milk and roasted garlic – or creaming spinach or other vegetables with tapioca flour and unsweetened almond milk instead of butter and heavy cream. You can even halve the suggested amount of cheese without giving up much flavor.

Tenderize with yogurt - The naturally occurring lactic acid in Greek yogurt helps break down protein to make meats, fish, and even veggies more flavorful and tender. Combine nonfat plain Greek yogurt with fresh herbs and seasonings to create an oil-free marinade and save about 110 calories per tablespoon.

Add a leaf to the beef – Boil or steam kale, a nutrient-rich veggie, then chop finely and add a half cup to a pound of ground beef for delicious, more nutritious meatballs.

Pick the right pan – Using a good quality non-stick pan will enable you to cook with less fat and still keep foods from sticking.

Turn up the heat on veggies – Cut up assorted veggies, toss them with a bit of olive oil and herbs on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes. Yummy flavor with crunchy, toasted edges and without any butter at all.

Curb the carbs - Lighten pasta dishes and boost nutritional content by replacing half the noodles with lightly sauteed julienne vegetables like peppers, snow peas, and mushrooms.

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Best Backyard Bets for Your Buck

September 5, 2013 2:15 am

(BPT) - From entertainment systems and fully functional kitchens to luxurious furnishings and decor, it's easy to drop a bundle on improving your outdoor living spaces. The choices seem to be unlimited. But no matter how much you love your deck or patio - and most Americans do - you probably don't have an unlimited budget for equipping your outdoor space.

Beyond tableware and seating, what are the best creature comforts to invest in? Which products and amenities will ultimately provide the most enjoyment and bang for the buck when it comes to outdoor upgrades? Narrowing the options to those with the greatest benefits and versatility is a smart approach. Here are some outdoor accessories that will prove to not only enhance your summer entertaining, but create pleasure throughout the year.

Music/entertainment
Electronics are an easy place to start. Tech-savvy or novice, most people have a smart device to stream or play downloaded music. Creating ambiance with music is a great touch for outdoor living and entertaining. Projecting the sound outdoors takes a powerful speaker system. Starting at $100, improved quality wireless speakers offer a simple way to pump out the tunes. Not only are these speakers lightweight and easy to use, they can be used for a myriad of events or functions outside the backyard realm. Wireless speakers are perfect to use in other parts of the home such as the garage and to take along on family outings such as picnics or camping trips.

Cooling options
On hot summer days, who doesn't enjoy a cool breeze? Air conditioning is impractical outdoors, so investing in a backyard cooling product could be a necessity as much as an amenity. Choose a powerful yet quiet portable evaporative cooler. Evaporative coolers are a better option than misters that drench or oscillating fans that simply blow hot air around. The coolers lower temperatures by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and are powerful enough to cool an entire deck.

Not only are they great in the backyard, these portable coolers are easily wheeled anywhere throughout the yard. They work great for spot-cooling in the garage or even on the go while camping or tailgating.

Lighting
Outdoor lighting options have come a long way in recent years. Solar options have made lighting simple and versatile. Styles range from traditional lanterns and landscape stake options to more decorative variations. When upgrading your solar lighting, consider the light styles that will give you mileage beyond the summer. For example, solar string lights commonly used for sun umbrellas are an excellent choice for reusing in the fall around Halloween decorations, around trees and as part of holiday decor. Get even more creative by packing these lights for nighttime family excursions such as firework shows or at the community center's movie showing on the lawn.

Beyond grilling
Installing an outdoor kitchen is a significant investment, but it's useful all year long. Research the bells and whistles that enhance your cooking habits and family lifestyle. Consider adding a pizza oven, rotisserie, refrigerator and warming drawers. Once your dream kitchen is built, you'll want to maximize it. It sounds trite, but don't forget you have it. Keep the house smelling like a bed of roses during a Lobster boil or crawfish feast by preparing it outside. When it's time for dad to make his famous chili, it can simmer for hours on one of the outdoor burners. Get the kids involved in making their favorite grilled cheese, pizza or even dessert. The key is using this area for more than grilling burgers or hosting a couple of parties. Incorporate it into your daily life.

At the end of the day, buy what brings enjoyment. The added benefit is the versatility.

Source: www.port-a-cool.com

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NFCC Poll Reveals Consumer Preferences When Seeking Financial Help

September 5, 2013 2:15 am

The August poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that when consumers are in financial distress, they prefer reaching out to a qualified professional for help as opposed to other options.

Most poll respondents, 45 percent, indicated they would contact a certified financial professional, while fewer would utilize online education, a financial self-help tool, or attend a financial workshop.

“Regardless of which option someone selects, the important thing is to take that first step, because financial distresses rarely resolve themselves. Consumers should choose the course of action that is right for them, as the path to finding the appropriate solution can be as varied as the financial concern itself,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

Examples of options offered by NFCC Member Agencies include:

• One-on-one financial reviews either in-person, by phone or online with a certified financial professional.
• Dozens of NFCC Member Agencies offer online education courses through webinars, podcasts, videos and printed materials. Topics include the basics of banking, building wealth, buying a home, identity theft protection tips and holiday planning.
• MyMoneyCheckUp, the NFCC’s free financial self-assessment tool, is available at www.MyMoneyCheckUp.org or on the NFCC website at www.DebtAdvice.org. After answering simple questions related to topics such as budgeting and credit management, saving and investing, planning for retirement, and managing home equity, the tool evaluates the results and provides suggestions for improvement if necessary. The tool is also available in Spanish at www.miayudafinanciera.org/.
• Group workshops are offered at NFCC Member Agency locations, at community
events or on-site for employees of local companies. If interested in finding an upcoming workshop in your area, or to schedule a presenter, search online at www.DebtAdvice.org for an agency near you.

The actual August poll question and answer results are below:

Q: If I were having financial trouble, for help resolving it I would most likely:

A. Reach out to a certified financial professional: 44%
B. Attend a group workshop related to my concern: 3%
C. Take advantage of online resources related to my concern: 35%
D. Utilize a financial self-assessment tool to help pinpoint the problem: 17%

Source: Debtadvice.org

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Fall into Better Sleep for the Whole Family

September 4, 2013 2:15 am

School time is here, and as families switch from the looser schedules of summer to the schedule-driven fall, sleep is a critical factor of that transition. ResMed, a company working toward developing solutions for treating sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory conditions, offers tips for getting the whole family on a successful sleep schedule that will set them up for sound sleep in the year ahead, as well as a host of solutions for combating sleep issues.

"Bedtime is one of the first things to change as school starts, and one of the smartest things parents can do with the summer-to-fall sleep schedule transition is to follow a routine themselves," says Susie Justus, sleep coach and licensed vocational nurse for ResMed.

How Much Sleep Do We Need?
The first step to setting a family sleep schedule is figuring out how much sleep each person needs for their age group. According to the National Sleep Foundation, preschoolers ages 3-5 years old need 11-13 hours of sleep per night; school-aged children ages 5-10 years old need 10-11 hours of sleep per night; preteens and teens ages 10-17 need 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep per night; and adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Setting the Schedule

With long, lazy summer days, kids are used to staying up and sleeping in later—as are their parents. Here are some tips that can help smooth the transition into fall.

• Tell the summer sun goodnight. At the beginning of the school year, the days are still long: To counter this, create cozy sleeping spaces for the whole family using blackout shades. White noise in the form of fans can also help encourage rest by blocking distractions and keeping warm rooms closer to the ideal sleeping temperature of 65-72 degrees.
• Set and enforce a bedtime ritual for everyone. Universally turn off screens an hour before bedtime—that means you, too, Mom and Dad—and establish wind-down plans that work.
• Promote days that will promote sleep. Welcome the sun in the morning by pulling back drapes or enjoying breakfast outside. Exercise, limit excessive caffeine intake and avoid daytime naps. Don't go to bed too hungry or too full, as that can disrupt sleep.

Source: www.resmed.com

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Mistakes Homeowners Make When Moving and How to Avoid Them

September 4, 2013 2:15 am

Now that you’ve found your dream home, be sure the actual moving process goes just as smoothly. Here are five common mistakes movers make and a few suggestions on how to avoid blunders when moving to your new home:

Getting a quote over the phone or Internet.
A big mistake that consumers make when planning their moves is obtaining a quote over the phone or the Internet. Any quote obtained in this manner is a non-binding quote. The only way to obtain a guaranteed or binding quote is to have a visual survey of your household goods by a reputable mover. If you choose to accept a quote over the phone or Internet you are setting yourself up for a nasty scenario when the mover shows up at your new home and demands more money.

Waiting too long to line up a mover
Allowing time for a visual survey, receiving a written and binding quote, and reserving a truck for your move takes a lead time of four to six weeks. Although moves can be arranged in a shorter period of time, many consumers find that their choices are limited by availability, especially in the busy summer months. The time to obtain estimates for your move is before your home sells so that you are prepared when it does.

Misrepresenting what you are moving
It is very important to show the surveyor or estimator everything you are planning to move. If you forget to show items in a basement, garage, attic, or off-site storage unit and then add those items at time of pick-up, your estimate will no longer be binding. In the same vein, if you commit to packing your own items but don’t have time to finish, the van line will pack your items and charge you for the service. If you are uncertain of whether you will be taking something, or are not sure if you will have time to pack everything, ask the surveyor to put the items or service in the estimate. If you decide not to take something, or do not require the packing, the cost will be adjusted downward.

Paying a deposit upfront
Reputable movers do not ask for payment upfront to reserve trucks or dates. This is a classic red flag in moving. A reputable mover will expect payment upon delivery.

Finding a mover based upon price rather than reputation and service
If a mover gives you a price that is significantly lower than other movers, it is likely that you are being low-balled. If a surveyor has underestimated your weight in order to give you a lower price, you may find, on moving day, that the moving truck does not have enough room for your shipment. This is called an overflow. An overflow means that your items will not all travel together, will not all arrive at the same time, and will generally cause you a big hassle. Another way to lower costs is to compromise service. Look for a competitive bid from a professional mover who is certified and reputable. Although price is an important factor, don't base your decision on price alone.

If you are planning a move in the near future, be sure to avoid these five mistakes. By planning ahead of time and being honest with the movers about your plans and expectations, you can be well on your way to a smoother move to your new home.

Source: The Move Advocate

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8 Handy House Upgrades That Boost Resale Value

September 4, 2013 2:15 am

REALTORS®, house flippers and even economists all agree: when it comes to selling your house, time is money. And the more time it takes for your house to sell, the less likely it is that you'll receive your asking price. That’s why it pays to unleash your creative side and make home upgrades that will boost the appearance and appeal of your house in the current market. These worthwhile remodeling investments can be completed in a timely manner and ensure major resale returns!

Exterior Enhancements
If you're working on a limited budget and need to choose between interior and exterior enhancements, experts suggest that it's best to start with the exterior. Exterior home improvements give buyers a favorable impression of the home before they even step inside. This is especially important as more and more buyers are making preliminary visits to houses even before visiting with a REALTOR®. Here are some home improvement ideas you could follow:

• Replace Exterior Doors - Entryways, front doors, and garage doors are a focal point for visitors entering your home, so the sharper they look, the more excited buyers will be to see the interior. Plus, replacing a garage door, on average about $1,200, can generate an average resale value of $2,064!
• Renovate Landscaping - Cleaning up and landscaping your yard is a fairly inexpensive update that improves the overall appearance of your house's exterior environment. Landscaping increases the invitingness of your home, whereas lifeless and drooping plants can repel buyers.
• Replace the Roof - Though replacing a roof is generally an expensive endeavor, it also leads to big monetary returns. The average reroofing cost ($20,000) can lead to over $30,000 in resale value!
• Repaint the Exterior - Exterior paint freshens up the appearance of a house and gives it modernity and that very sought after curb appeal. This home improvement project is also one of the most recommended updates by REALTORS® as it greatly improves a buyer's first impression of the residence. If you can't make any other home improvements, the best option is to invest in some paint.

Interior Investments
Though well-crafted exterior home improvements entice potential buyers to visit the house, interior improvements turn those potential buyers into new homeowners. These upgrades are known for impressing home buyers at reasonable costs to the seller.

• Install Wood Flooring - Wood flooring is currently one of the most popular, if not the most popular flooring option for homeowners. But when it comes to resale value, it isn't necessary to go for a custom hardwood option. Laminate flooring for a 1,200 square foot home, which costs about $4,000, has an average resale value of $8,400!
• Repaint the Interior - In addition to giving a home a cleaner, sleeker appearance, interior painting in light, classic colors makes every room in your home feel larger and more open.
• Invest in Kitchen Remodeling - Though a kitchen remodel is a costly home improvement project, it also has the potential to significantly increase your resale value. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms for potential buyers and therefore, deserve attention when it comes to upgrades. By individual project:
 -New Kitchen Counters - Cost = $5,000; Resale Value = $8,600
 -New Kitchen Cabinets - Cost = $870; Resale Value = $1,496
 -New Appliances (stove, dishwasher and refrigerator) - Cost = $4,000; Resale Value $6,640
• Bathroom Remodeling - Even if your bathroom fixtures and cabinets are a bit older, updating the tile will give the entire space a bright, clean finish. If you would like to do a more complete bathroom remodel, consider upgrading your guest bathroom. Guest bathrooms are usually smaller than master baths, and so require a smaller investment for major improvements. Replacing a guest bathroom's counter and vanity gives an average resale value of $1,620.

Source: Handyman Connection

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