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

Take Time to Tackle Home Maintenance

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

(Family Features) Keeping a healthy home for your family means more than daily chores and the occasional deep cleaning. It’s important to add inspections of often overlooked areas and regular maintenance to your list of tasks.

“Every home can have unhealthy, harmful, or even hazardous areas,” said Mike Holmes, a contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. “It’s important to check them out, especially during regular maintenance. Addressing these ‘hidden hazards’ helps create a healthy home and keeps your family safe.”

Holmes recommends following his “SAFETY” checklist:

S - Seek out lead in the home.
If your home was built before 1978, it could contain lead. If you disturb any material that contains lead, tiny lead particles could become airborne at home. Talk to a professional to test the entire house, and take the necessary steps to ensure your family’s safety.

A - Address indoor air quality and change your air filter.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. Use an electrostatically charged air filter to help capture odors and airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Plus, changing your filter at the start of every season helps protect and maintain your system.

F - Fix leaks to prevent mold and mildew.
Mold spores need moisture to grow and thrive in warm, humid conditions. Inspect your home for excess water and moisture build-up from leaky roofs, faucets, basement drains, dishwashers and washing machines, and fix them immediately.

E - Exercise caution around appliances.
Before using appliances such as space heaters and toaster ovens, make sure they are working properly. Never drape an electrical cord over a sink. Also avoid overloading wiring or plugging too many appliances into a single wall socket. Be sure to unplug appliances when they’re not being used, and cover sockets with outlet protectors.

T - Test for dangerous gases.
One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon, according to the EPA. You can purchase a short-term home radon test for less than $20. Test the lowest lived-in level of your home, and if you have elevated levels of radon, call a qualified contractor immediately. Also, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month by pushing the test button on the unit. Remember to change the batteries every season, and replace the entire unit every 7 to 10 years.

Y - Yield healthier results with regular upkeep.

Keep up with regular home maintenance to help keep your home healthy and your family safe. Fix small problems now to avoid big repairs later. Remember, big repairs come with big price tags and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.

Source: 3M

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How to Keep a Speeding Ticket Out of Your Summer

August 8, 2013 1:58 am

(BPT) - Want to know how to avoid a speeding ticket? Easy - don't speed. But even the most law-abiding drivers with flawless records can make mistakes and find themselves pulled over. In fact, 34 million people in the United States receive speeding tickets each year, according to the National Motorists Association.

A ticket can raise insurance rates and tarnish your driving record, according to FindLaw.com. If you get arrested or fined for other traffic violations, those tickets can lead to stiffer fines and penalties.

"The big rule of speeding tickets is that most come at the discretion of the police officers involved," says Don Cosley, a criminal defense attorney of the Cosley Law Office in Chicago. "Unless the officers are working a state or federal grant where they are required to issue traffic tickets, how you interact with a police officer will play a considerable role in whether you drive away with a warning or a ticket."

"Always cooperate with law enforcement officers," Cosley says. "They've heard every excuse in the book. If you immediately start arguing or making smart comments, your chances of driving away with a ticket increase."

Here are some additional tips from FindLaw.com on how to avoid a speeding ticket:

• Watch for posted speed limit signs. According to a 2013 survey by Insurance.com, the top excuse for speeding is, "I didn't see the sign." The safest way to avoid a speeding ticket is to carefully watch posted signs and not exceed the limit. Even five miles per hour over the speed limit can land you a ticket - particularly near schools, road construction zones and other hotspots where police try to increase safety.

• Give yourself plenty of time. If you're running late, you're more likely to speed. One simple trick you can do to build in some travel time is to set your house clocks a few minutes ahead. Remember, you'll arrive even later if you get pulled over.

• Keep a clean driving record. Police cars are often equipped with computer systems that allow law enforcement to instantly look up your driving record. A driver with a clean record is more likely to be let off with a warning than one with several traffic violations.

• Stay off your cell phone. Cell phone use is legal in some states and illegal in others, but distracted driving should always be avoided. If you are observed speeding and using your phone at the same time, it will dramatically boost your odds of driving away with a ticket, rather than a warning, and it may increase fines associated with the violation.

• Avoid speed traps. Speed limits typically drop when you approach a small town or city. That's prime real estate for speed traps. Police often use highway overpasses, bridges or medians with a clear view of oncoming traffic to hunt for speeders.

• Don't stand out. Drivers who go too fast, swerve or aggressively pass other drivers are more likely to draw the attention of the police.

• Move over. After using the left lane to pass a car, move back over to the right lane. Cars that continue to pass other cars while in the left lane are easy targets for police. Also keep in mind that in some states, the left lane is only for passing.

• Cooperate with the police officer. Being cooperative and respectful toward the police officer who pulls you over is one of the best ways to avoid a speeding ticket. It also can help defuse a potentially stressful situation. If you are pulled over, start by turning off your car, put away your cell phone and place your keys on the dashboard and your hands on the wheel in the 10 and 2 o'clock position to show the officer that you aren't doing anything illicit before he or she arrives. Taking off your sunglasses also can be a show of respect. If it's nighttime, turn on the interior lights of your car.

• Save your arguments for traffic court. If you believe you don't deserve a speeding ticket, take your argument to court. Don't argue it with a police officer at the scene.

Source: FindLaw.com

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How to Quickly Sell Your Home

August 8, 2013 1:58 am

Why do some houses sell faster than others? Same house, same number of bedrooms, same size garden, same street. The difference? The house down the road is presented properly for a quick turnaround.

You must present your property in the best possible light. That means present it as you would wish to see it for the very first time. Let's start at the first thing a potential buyer will see - the front of the house. Is the gate hanging off the hinges? Is the path/driveway covered in weeds?

Does the front door need a lick of paint? Do the windows need cleaning? Whatever the season you're selling a house, there's always stuff to do, so get them done! First impressions count; don't put off your potential buyer before they've even got through the front door.

In the living room, make sure the TV is turned off, cushions plumped up, carpet vacuumed, toys and general stuff put away, the room freshly aired and flowers somewhere in the room. The living room, as with all rooms, should be freshly decorated and de-cluttered.

Next move on to the kitchen - the most important room in the house! Get it spotless. All dishes should be cleaned and put away, the table set, and the floor polished. Show that you have pride in your kitchen and that it’s an important room in the house. The smell of coffee or freshly baked bread or cut flowers always works as a treat.

The back yard should also be kept tidy. Make sure all toys and bikes are hidden away in the garage or shed, have the grass freshly cut and all weeds removed, and make sure the garden furniture is clean and well presented. And hide any gnomes!

Back in the house, the master bedroom should show with fresh clean linen and curtains open to give as much light as possible. Do the same with the kids’ rooms and again, hide any clutter, take down all the One Direction posters and make sure the bedrooms don't have any lingering smells.

Use these simple tips to help you sell your house quicker than your neighbor. Do these and more if you can and you will soon be shaking hands with your buyer.

Source: Flying Homes Ltd

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Top Ten Reasons Your Property Isn't Hurricane-Ready

August 8, 2013 1:58 am

If you used the plywood from your hurricane shutters to build a tree house there’s a good chance you aren’t hurricane-ready.

If hurricane season is anything like last year, being prepared is paramount. State Farm is reminding property owners that a little preparation can make a big difference when it comes to safety and security.

Is your property hurricane-ready? If you identify with a majority of our top ten list, you may not be ready:

1. Your roof is in poor condition and the shingles are questionable.
2. Your house has large trees looming over it and branches ready to fall.
3. There are none of those famous “hurricane straps” on your trusses or rafters.
4. The house was never bolted down to the foundation.
5. The plywood that’s supposed to serve as hurricane shutters was used to build a tree house.
6. Your six foot-wide patio doors rattle every time the wind blows.
7. The wind brace for your garage door is holding up a bird feeder.
8. The stuff in your yard; patio furniture, solid fence, pool cage, etc. is ready to sail away in the wind.
9. You have no emergency power system (generator).
10. You forgot to meet with your agent to review your homeowners coverage.

Forecasters expect to see above-average hurricane activity between now and November. The peak of hurricane season begins in August. Homeowners can protect themselves and their property with a few easy steps:

Review your insurance coverage. Make sure you have the right amount and type of insurance.

Create a home inventory. Make a list of your possessions and their estimated value.

Protect your property. Stock plywood and materials you may need to board up windows. Move garbage cans and other large objects inside the house or garage. Secure boats and cars.

Have an evacuation plan. Before the hurricane, decide what you will do. Find out the location of evacuation shelters. Determine if you will ride out the storm in your home (if local authorities permit you to stay), or establish a safe place inland. Plan an escape route. Tell relatives where you will be.

Source: State Farm

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4 Tips for the Buyer of a Previously Owned Home

August 7, 2013 1:58 am

Purchasing homes with a history can present some unique issues, especially if they are not visible to the average homebuyer. Sewer-related problems are potentially one of the most expensive and least evident of those issues. When shopping for a new home, outdated or broken appliances, peeling paint or dirty carpet are a lot easier to spot than plumbing issues. And, while a standard home inspection will cover some of the basics like water damage and water heater safety, other common plumbing problems often go unseen. Potential sewage and drain issues may lurk beneath the surface, unbeknownst to the buyer.

Here are four tips for buyers:

1. If it happened once, it will happen again. It is extremely likely that a home would have an ongoing history of sewer-related issues. According to Roto-Rooter Director of Plumbing Services, Larry Rothman, “In fact, it's almost a certainty. Some customers require sewer cleaning every six months, while others need us on an annual basis or every two years. The roots from the same problem tree will continue to grow back as long as the sewer pipe has voids and loose joints that allow the roots to get inside the pipe and the problem almost always gets worse over time, requiring more frequent cleanings to keep the roots under control because pipes will shift within the soil causing misalignment between sections.”

2. Sump pump problems may not be evident unless there has been a fair amount of rain. Not all basement homes have sump pumps, but most ought to have them to prevent basement flooding. Sump pumps are now a normal requirement in most new building codes for basement homes, but older homes were not subject to the new, stricter codes and the vast majority of older basements are at risk for some level of basement flooding if rainfall is particularly heavy and the ground around the foundation becomes saturated.

Rothman says, “An inspection of the plumbing, particularly the sump system, water heater and sewer line could potentially save a prospective homebuyer a great deal of money, potentially thousands of dollars.”

3. A sewer line inspection is not included in the standard home inspection. Homebuyers regularly waive this extra inspection in the purchasing process because it requires an additional cost of anywhere from $250 to $550. Additionally, many buyers do not know that responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality. Whatever the reason for skipping a sewer line inspection, buyers should reevaluate foregoing this important step in signing a deal. If a problem exists, excavation could be required costing thousands of dollars after the home has already been purchased. “Sewer inspection camera equipment is expensive and often is only utilized by well equipped plumbing companies, but the video inspection service itself is easy to complete and well worth the extra step,” said Rothman.

4. Sellers do not have to disclose information about plumbing problems. Ask questions! Know when the home was built; if it is 25 years old or older, it is more likely to have nonplastic pipes that are at least somewhat deteriorated and more susceptible to root entry. Take note of mature trees, visible root growth and cracked concrete and ask if they are related to any persistent pipe problems.

The benefits of purchasing a previously owned home can be wonderful. However, some of the things a buyer loves most about an older home, the charm, older fixtures, the mature landscaping, can all be indicators of potentially costly problems for the plumbing system below the surface. Homebuyers may be focused on kitchen designs, interior paint or landscaping, overlooking the possibility of serious plumbing problems. In fact, about 44 percent of people purchasing homes call a plumber for one reason or another within the first year at their new residence. Simply avoid any unpleasant surprises before it is too late by being thorough in the inspection and buying phase. Ask the right questions and prevent the added cost of repairs down the road.

Source: Roto-Rooter

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Driving with Dogs: Tips to Keep Everyone in the Car Safe

August 7, 2013 1:58 am

(BPT) - It's only natural for man's best friend to stay close by his master's side, but for dog owners who drive frequently, bringing Fido along for the ride can be risky. The problem is particularly worrisome for older drivers; a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham showed that for people 70 years and older, crash rates were higher among those who frequently drove with pets in the car. But for many drivers, leaving precious pets behind isn't an option. The best compromise is to find solutions that will get you from point A to point B without compromising the safety of human or animal passengers.

Distracted driving is a growing concern and a loose pet in the car certainly numbers among the potential hazards that can take your eyes - and mind - off the road and lead to accidents. While older drivers might not be as likely to be distracted by texting or smartphone surfing, even those who have spent many years navigating the roads need to honestly assess how having a pet in the car can divert their attention away from the road.

To stay safe on the road when Fido is with you, remember these tips:

• Don't allow pets in the front seats. Having a pet sit on your lap is obviously distracting, but if he's in the front passenger seat, the problem can be just as bad. In the front seat, your pet is more likely to be within your line of sight and obstruct your view of the road. An unrestrained dog in the front seat could also be easily injured if you have to slam on the brakes or swerve, or are hit from behind. The force with which airbags deploy also poses a safety hazard for dogs in the front seat - if you're in an accident and they inflate and hit your dog, he could easily sustain an injury.

• Create separation. There are a variety of pet barriers on the market that can keep your pet from moving between the front and back seats of your car. Installing a barrier will help keep your pet out of your way and diminish concerns about him being propelled forward in case you have to make a sudden stop.

• Restrain your pet. There are a number of options for pet restraints in your vehicle. Pet seatbelts and car seats will help keep a dog safely in place. Keeping a crate in the car is also a good option. Make sure it's secured and large enough so that he can stand up, turn around and comfortably sit or lay down. Add a soft pad in the bottom of the crate and it might just become your pet's favorite way to travel.

• Brush up on your driving skills. Today's driving environment is probably very different than it was when you first got your license. A refresher course, like those offered by AARP Driver Safety, is an ideal way to ensure that your skills are up to date. Brushing up on defensive driving techniques and the essential rules of the road will help keep everyone in your car safe - and you may even qualify for a multi-year automobile insurance discount from your insurance company (check with your agent for details). AARP Driver Safety courses are available in a classroom or online setting, in both English and Spanish.

Source: www.aarp.org/drive

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Make Your Movie Night Modern

August 7, 2013 1:58 am

(Family Features)--It's that time of year again when the year's biggest movies begin invading theaters. But big movies can also mean big lines and big bucks.

Sometimes, it's just more convenient and affordable to have a movie night at home. Hosting an at-home movie night can be even more fun than taking a trip to the theater if you make it a "Modern Movie Night." Here are some tips to help put a new spin on a movie night at home:

Plan Ahead - The official Redbox mobile app lets you browse movies and reserve them for pickup, right from your phone. You can even see which boxes have your favorite movies. Pick the closest box and a copy will be reserved for you.

Spruce Up Your Snacks - One of the best things about the theater experience is the delicious snacks. But you can make what you eat at home just as good by putting a modern spin on old favorites. For example, once your popcorn has cooled, add M&M'S to give it a colorful, delicious new look.

Digital Movie Buzz - Don't just plop on the couch for the evening. Get together with family and friends and enjoy some digital fun before the movie starts. Guess The Movie app or MovieCat challenge you with quizzes and classic movie questions. You can even compare your own review of favorite movies with scores from Rotten Tomatoes.

If the flick is a bust, live tweet funny commentary while you watch or write your own movie reviews at moviequotesandmore.com. Try playing the popular movie trivia game Scene It or play Charades using Vine video clips. You can also check out cast info on the IMDB app. End the evening with a movie discussion and your house may become everyone's favorite home theater.

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Top Tips to Relax and Save on Labor Day Trips

August 6, 2013 1:56 am

Looking to plan a getaway for Labor Day weekend? Here are some tips for travelers who want to get out and explore over the long weekend without spending too much money.

1. Celebrate the long weekend in the Big Apple. The Wellington is available Sunday and Monday night for as little as $157 a night. Walk to Central Park or Broadway from the hotel.
2. Booking early is always a smart move. Thousands of hotels offer lower rates for bookings purchased 21 days in advance.
3. Atlantic City is a relaxing and exciting Labor Day destination, with rooms filling up fast. Enjoy fun casinos and a walk on the boardwalk.
4. Some of the top destinations for Labor Day include Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Orlando, London, San Diego, Washington DC, Myrtle Beach, San Francisco and Miami.
5. Use Southwest Airlines' low fares to get to your destination. Many flights are available for as low as $59 to some of the most popular spots throughout the country.
6. South Beach sizzles over Labor Day. Try one of Getaroom.com's value boutique hotels such as the Harrison Hotel to enjoy nearby beaches, great Cuban food and world-class shopping.
7. New Orleans offers great food, music, and a glimpse into the nation's past. Enjoy first-class accommodations from $99 a night at the St. James hotel.
8. Many hotels in Las Vegas offer very low rates during Labor Day. Every major hotel has a pool and ice-cold air conditioning to help you beat the September heat. Try The Quad for rates as low as $32 a night and an unbeatable center Strip location.

Labor Day is a time to reflect on all of the hard work that made the country great and also marks the end of the summer travel season. With proper planning and some help, Labor Day travel can be enjoyable and within any budget.

Source: Getaroom.com

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Renters Insurance Can Provide Important Financial Protection This Hurricane Season

August 6, 2013 1:56 am

Although the majority of homeowners purchase insurance for their home, when it comes to renters, only 65 percent have renters insurance, according to a poll conducted for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The number of renters is steadily increasing. According to an April 2013 U.S. Census Report, the share of housing occupied by renters rose to 35.4 percent in 2013—up from 34.1 percent in 2009. And in some of the country's largest cities, renters significantly outnumber homeowners. In New York City, 69 percent of households rent their homes, followed by Los Angeles (61.8 percent), Chicago (55.1 percent) and Houston (54.6 percent).

"One of the biggest insurance problems after Sandy was the large number of renters who did not have coverage for their homes," pointed out Jeanne M. Salvatore, the I.I.I.'s consumer spokesperson and senior vice president. "It can be extremely expensive to have to re-buy the entire contents of your home, so a renter’s insurance policy provides very important financial protection when there is a hurricane or other covered disaster."

The good news is that renters insurance is relatively inexpensive. In fact, the average renters insurance policy cost only $185 per year in 2010 (the latest year this data is available), according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s less than $16 per month.

When you purchase renters insurance, your belongings are covered against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and water damage—for example, if an upstairs neighbor's tub overflows and damages items in your apartment. However, renters insurance does not cover damage from flooding. Flood insurance is available for renters from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program.

Renters insurance includes additional living expenses (ALE) coverage if you are unable to live in your home because of a hurricane, fire or other disaster listed in the policy. ALE pays for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

Like a standard homeowners insurance policy, renters insurance includes liability protection. This covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home or elsewhere by you, a family member or your pet and pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.

There are two main types of renters insurance policies:

1. Actual Cash Value coverage
pays to replace your possessions up to the limit of your policy, minus a deduction for depreciation.
2. Replacement Cost coverage pays the real cost of replacing your belongings (regardless of depreciation) up to the limit of your policy. This will usually cost about 10 percent more but is a much better value in the long run.

If you have expensive jewelry, furs, sports or musical equipment, or collectibles, you may want to consider adding a floater to your policy. Most standard renters policies include a limited dollar amount for such items. A floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and may even cover them if they are accidentally lost.

The best way to determine how much renters insurance you need is to create a home inventory. This is a detailed list of all of your personal possessions along with their estimated value. An up-to-date home inventory will also make filing an insurance claim faster and easier. The I.I.I. offers free home inventory software and a mobile app at www.knowyourstuff.org.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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Five Tips for Summer Picnic Food

August 6, 2013 1:56 am

Picnics are a great way to enjoy the last of those lazy summer afternoons in the sunshine and can be a cost effective family day out. Emma Bridgewater, the handmade kitchen and dinnerware company, has created the following five tips for the perfect picnic.

1) Keep food simple
Think about how practical certain dishes are when you prepare for a picnic. Dishes that work brilliantly around a dining table may not be so sensible served balanced on a picnic rug. Finger food eliminates the need for cutlery and will usually mean less mess at the end of the meal.

2) Choose foods that travel well
Hopefully you'll be taking advantage of a really beautiful day, in which case your picnic will be just one part of the day's fun. With this in mind, choose food that travels well. This will give your dishes a better chance of staying in tact, as well as keeping sandwiches from being disappointingly soggy by lunchtime. The most delicious sandwiches are often the simplest. Use lettuce or baby leaf spinach to surround mayonnaise-based sandwich fillings to keep the bread dry.

3) Create a finger-food salad
Chop up chunks of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks to make a finger-food salad. Serve in bowls with hummus for dipping for a delicious raw vegetable treat. This way you can still serve healthy food without the need for knives and forks.

4) Keep the desert simple
Bring a sponge cake and a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries or grapes for a refreshing end to your picnic. Avoid sticky foods and cover cakes and sugary deserts to keep insects at bay. Keeping desserts simple is also likely to reduce the amount of cleaning up required at the end of the picnic.

5) Serve fresh and fruity drinks
Homemade lemonade or fruit juices can be kept cool with an ice pack in your picnic basket. Serving drinks in sturdy tumblers with a wide base mean they won't get spilled when you spread out on a picnic rug on uneven ground. Wine glasses and champagne flutes may look elegant at a picnic, but can leave guests struggling to hold a delicate glass, cutlery and plate of food.

Source: http://www.emmabridgewater.co.uk/

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