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

Spring Brings New Life to the World and a New Look to Your Home

April 5, 2013 3:44 am

As animals slowly begin to wake from hibernation and the cold weather recedes with spring's first flowers, homeowners start to think of ways to improve and beautify their home in concert with the awakening of the natural environment around them. Spring and summer are often the best times to update your home's exterior painting because the most severe weather of the year has passed and it may be time to repair damage that was caused by this weather.

There are many reasons to consider home painting, but four of the main motivations that drive homeowners are:

1. The increase in real estate value
One of the best ways to increase your home's market value is with exterior painting. Compared to renovations and remodeling, house painting is a much cheaper alternative. According to Remodeling Magazine, the average cost of a complete kitchen remodel in 2012 was $57,000, compared to an average of $3,000-$5,000 for exterior home painting (CostHelper.com). Although pricing may vary, you can see that the potential return on your investment is much greater with exterior home painting.

2. Enhancing your home's curb appeal
Like the feeling of wearing a new favorite outfit, your home will be dressed up and ready to shine with a new coat of exterior paint. It can help your home stand out in the neighborhood and have people slow down to look at your beautiful new exterior! If you're looking to sell your home, boosting curb appeal is a great way to attract the interest of potential home buyers.

3. Protection of your home's exterior
Many people forget the protective qualities that paint provides. It adds a layer of protection against harsh weather, especially ice and snow, and acts as a seal to keep out moisture from the rain.

4. Supplying new life to an old home
Exterior house painting could be the perfect option for you if you have been looking for a way to reinvigorate your home with the splendor that was felt when you first moved in. Changing your home's exterior coloring could even provide you and your family with a more positive outlook on life in general; your bright and beautiful newly painted home will be ready and waiting for you after a long day.

Painting the exterior of your house on your own may not seem like a difficult task to undertake at first, but hiring a professional painting company is also one of your many options.

Source: College Pro Painters

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Spring Can Bring Increased Risk of Flooding

April 5, 2013 3:44 am

This spring, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®) encourages families to prepare for flood dangers prevalent from now through hurricane season. Spring is a timely reminder of the dangers associated with flooding and the steps residents and community leaders can take to protect against flood damage.

Floods are the most common and costly weather disaster in the United States. While we enjoy spring’s warmer weather, the season also brings conditions that can increase flooding, especially in many areas of the Midwest. An early spring thaw can produce large quantities of runoff in a short period. Frozen land prevents melting snow or rainfall from seeping into the ground, causing water to run off the surface and flow into lakes, streams and rivers, causing excess water to spill over their banks. Add seasonal storms to the mix, and severe spring flooding can result.

”While residents in the Midwest are at particular risk for flooding during the spring months, flooding can occur in all regions of the country at any time of the year,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, FLASH President and CEO. “For that reason, FLASH also encourages residents to look ahead and prepare for hurricane season, which officially beings June 1 and is quickly approaching.”

Fortunately, there are some easy steps families can take to protect themselves against flood risks. First, they should visit www.flash.org to find ways to strengthen their homes and safeguard them from flood damage. Families also should put together an emergency supply kit, keep important papers and valuables in a safe and flood-proof place, and create a family emergency plan that considers insurance coverage, especially flood insurance. Everyone should visit Floodsmart.gov to learn about their flood risk and how to financially protect themselves by purchasing flood insurance.

Many people incorrectly think that their homeowners insurance covers flood damage. Typically, only flood insurance covers flood damage, which is why it is essential. It only takes a few inches of water to cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage. Between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was more than $34,000. Because there typically is a 30-day wait before a policy takes effect, waiting until flooding is forecast is too late. The time to act is now.

Source: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®)

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Energy Tax Credits Provide Homeowners Relief as April 15 Tax Deadline Nears

April 4, 2013 3:42 am

While the 2012 tax season deadline may be looming large for consumers, there is a way for homeowners to save on their 2012 or 2013 federal taxes by making energy efficient upgrades to their homes. Windows and doors meeting ENERGY STAR® requirements, qualify for federal tax credits for homeowners in 2012 and 2013.

With the approval on January 1, 2013 of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, homeowners who made energy efficient upgrades to their homes in 2012 or plan to make such changes in 2013 may receive a federal tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of the installed product, up to $500 for doors and $200 for windows.

"The tax credits now in play for energy efficient window and door purchases are an attractive incentive for consumers to purchase replacement windows and doors," says Gary Pember, vice president of marketing at Simonton Windows. "The new tax credit stipulates that the entire home does not have to have all of its windows and/or doors replaced. The tax credit can apply to having just a few products replaced in the home to make it more energy efficient.

"In addition, the tax credit can be issued for both replacement windows and doors; and for installation of a 'new location' energy efficient window or door in an area of the home where there previously wasn't an opening (such as in a home addition or renovation of existing home space). Homeowners should always consult their tax advisor to determine if they qualify for any tax credit."

The tax credit is retroactive to purchases made starting January 1, 2012 and expires on December 31, 2013. Installation of the product(s) must take place in the homeowner's principle residence and the credit does not include installation costs. Products must be ENERGY STAR qualified for the region they are installed.

"Fiberglass doors are some of the most energy-efficient doors available in the marketplace today," says Derek Fielding, senior product manager for Therma-Tru Corp. "Compared to a solid wood door, a fiberglass door has four times more energy efficient value. Homeowners nationwide find that the benefits of fiberglass doors are plentiful. Along with their energy efficiency, they add tremendously to the curb appeal and aesthetics of a home. Installation of a new entry door also helps enhance the overall value of the home."

Full details on the federal tax credits can be found at the ENERGY STAR web site at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.

Source: Therma-Tru, Simonton

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Tips for National Window Safety Week

April 4, 2013 3:42 am

April 7-13 is National Window Safety Week and Andersen Corporation is encouraging homeowners to familiarize themselves with ways to help prevent window-related accidents. As part of its LookOut For Kids® window safety program, Andersen is providing materials and tips to help educate consumers and caregivers.

“Windows and doors do more than provide views, sunlight and breezes. They can provide an important path to escaping a fire or emergency, yet left open, they can be a potential fall hazard,” said Andersen Corporation Director Mark Mikkelson. As we open our windows to the fresh air, here are some safety tips.

DO:
-Close and lock windows and doors.
-Position beds and other furniture away from windows.
-Consider installing window opening control devices or window guards.

DON’T:
-Leave young children unsupervised.
-Depend on insect screens to keep children from falling out of windows.
-Paint, nail or seal windows shut.
-Forget about window and door safety when making repairs to your home.

Source: Andersen Corporation

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Making Your Neighborhood Safer

April 4, 2013 3:42 am

(Family Features) How safe do you feel in your neighborhood? Unfortunately, residential crime happens more often than you might think, which leaves many homeowners feeling uneasy. But there are steps you can take to protect your home and your neighborhood. One of the best preventive measures you can take is to simply get to know your neighbors.

A national poll by Nextdoor.com, a free and private social network for neighborhoods, found that 67 percent of homeowners feel safer in their home and neighborhood because they know their neighbors. In addition, 76 percent said they thought their neighborhood would be safer if they communicated more with neighbors.

“The single most important thing you can do to create a safe neighborhood is to get to know your neighbors,” said Matt Peskin, director of the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), a nonprofit dedicated to community crime and drug prevention. “People who know each other look out for one another. And now with online tools making it easier, there’s no excuse not to connect and communicate with those who live around you.”

Nextdoor has partnered with NATW to expand its efforts around community-based crime prevention. Here are their tips for creating a safer neighborhood:

Create a neighborhood watch online and off. Host an in-person meeting to discuss how to communicate with neighbors in emergency situations or organize foot patrols.

Keep the neighborhood clean. A clean neighborhood is a deterrent for criminal activity. Organize volunteers to pick up litter, cut grass and hedges, and make property repairs. Make efforts to beautify vacant lots with a community garden or flowers.

Turn the lights on. Keep a dim porch light on all night to discourage crime. Encourage others to do the same. Consider also leaving an interior light on when gone for the evening or longer.

Update your home security. Ensure all exterior doors have deadbolt locks. Lock all windows and connect them to your home alarm system. Shut and lock gates and garages to reduce hiding places. And keep ladders in a locked garage or shed.

Get to know the police. Make an effort to meet your neighborhood officers. Report questionable behavior or activity in your area. Attend or help organize an event, like National Night Out, that strengthens ties between police and residents.

Source: Nextdoor.com

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Association of REALTORS Offers Homeowners Tips

April 3, 2013 3:42 am

Attention to detail and proper preparation can alleviate much of the stress and save time for first-time home buyers.

Coby Crump, president of the Lubbock Association of REALTORS® said to keep personal finances, the bigger picture, and professional assistance in mind to make for a smooth sale.

Before even beginning to look at the first house, Crump said, it would behoove buyers to sit down and consider their financial situation.

"You can waste a lot of time if you view homes without knowing what you can really afford," Crump said.
In addition to monthly payments and a down payment, it is important to consider property taxes and insurance. A REALTOR® can be beneficial in assessing one's finances.

"When considering finances, be sure to get pre-approved for any loans," he said. "This allows the comfort to search for homes in a buyer's price range. It can also show a seller that he or she is interested and serious, and can allow for an offer to be made quickly."

Crump added to keep the bigger picture and ultimate goal in mind when faced with annoyances or hiccups in the process. Be realistic and be prepared to make minor concessions.

"You don't have to set low expectations about your home purchase," he said. "Just know that you may need to give a little on one of your search criteria."

With all hiccups or potential problems, it is helpful to have professional assistance; and this includes a professional inspector and a REALTOR®.

A professional inspector can determine what needs to be repaired or replaced. A REALTOR® will prove to be an invaluable partner for the duration of your buying experience. A REALTOR® belonging to the National Association of REALTORS® is held to a high standard of ethics.

"Your REALTOR® will look out for your best interests and help you find your ideal home while helping you to avoid making mistakes you could regret," Crump said.

Source: Lubbock Association of REALTORS®

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Spring Cleaning and Curb Appeal

April 3, 2013 3:42 am

Spring is here and many homeowners are looking to revamp their curb appeal. What simple steps can be taken to improve your home’s value besides reviving your gardens? By updating or repairing your roof you can upgrade your curb appeal by 40 percent. Here are a few tips on how to protect your roof this spring as well as new trends and styles that will make your roof stand out and increase the value of your home.

1. Start off by checking the roof framing structure to make sure it is not compromised. Visually scan the roof for any sagging or uneven areas.

2. Inspect the gutter systems to make sure they are not clogged with branches, leaves, or other debris.

3. Make sure that gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure so that they don’t cause overflow and build-up or fall off the fascia board.

4. Check the valleys of the roof to ensure that they are also free and clear of debris that can add weight to the roof and also act as a barrier to rain.

5. Metal flashing should also be used around roof vents, pipes, skylights, and chimneys. One of the most common causes for roofing leaks is due to problems with flashing.

6. Walk around to carefully inspect the shingles on the roof – look for curling edges, missing granules, etc.

Source: Alyssa Hall, GAF

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Top Financial Tips for People with Dementia

April 3, 2013 3:42 am

For people living with dementia, these top tips are the first step in encouraging people, their family members and caregivers to think about what they need to do to future-proof the management of their finances. Tips include a variety of strategies from arranging a power of attorney and applying for the correct benefits, to organizing bank accounts.

"Dealing with finances when you are living with dementia can be a minefield. People in the early stages of the condition often feel locked out of the system, with all the many passwords and personal details they are expected to remember," said Angela Rippon, co-chair of the Dementia Friendly Communities Champion group and Alzheimer's Society ambassador. "When a carer takes over, the pressure of getting to grips with power of attorney and trying to make decisions in the best interests of a loved one can be very stressful."

The following may help you or your loved one living with dementia better organize and plan for their financial well-being.

Top tips for managing money if you are living with dementia


1. Discuss money management with your family - Money can be a difficult subject to talk about but it's important that you plan how you want your finances to be managed if you became unable to look after it yourself.

2. Make sure that all important papers are in order and that you know where to find them. These might include bank statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, a will, tax and pension details and bills or guarantees.

3. If you have financial assets, such as property or savings, you can set up a trust. This ensures that the assets are managed in a way that you choose, both now and in the future. There are a number of different kinds of trusts and ways of arranging them.

4. Set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA). This enables you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things such as paying bills and collecting income when you no longer want to make those decisions. It's important you set up an LPA early so that you can give your full and informed consent.

5. Speak to the local bank manager. The discussion can look at extra support that may be available as your condition progresses and ways of managing money e.g. using a signature card instead of a PIN number.

Top tips for caregivers managing the money of a person with dementia

1. Make sure your loved one is receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled. Contact your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions or Citizens Advice Bureau to find out exactly what should be being received. As a caregiver, you may also be entitled to benefits such as caregiver's allowance.

2. For some, a joint account may be a useful way of managing finances in the early stages of dementia. However, most joint bank accounts are set up to operate only when both parties have capacity to use it. If a bank knows that someone is acting as a lasting power of attorney, they will usually want a separate bank account for that person.

3. Separating your account when it comes to paying for care it is also advisable. This is because a local authority ought to be means testing the person who is in receipt of the service (e.g. home care or residential care), and no one else.

4. Protect your loved one's finances by stopping junk mail and unwanted telephone calls by signing up to the Mailing and Telephone Preference Services. Put a "no cold callers" sign on the door. These can be obtained from the local trading standards department and will help prevent door-to-door salesmen from visiting.

Source: Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland

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More Women are Flying Solo to See the World

April 2, 2013 3:42 am

So you’re a woman and you want to see the world – on your terms. Join the crowd! More and more women are traveling alone or with girlfriends; an estimated 32 million in the past year, according to the Travel Industry Association.

“It’s the new trend in travel and, really, it’s a no-brainer,” says Ruth Yunker, an intrepid solo traveler and author of “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” a humorous recounting of her extended stay in Paris as part-time resident, part-time tourist. “Women hold the purse strings, so to speak, and we don’t necessarily want to see and experience our travel destinations in the same ways men do.”

The numbers tell the story:

• 28 million single women ages 35 and older – a growing demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Earnings for women with a college degree have increased 31 percent since 1979 while men’s grew just 16 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• In 2011, 28 percent of married women made more than their husbands, up from 17.8 percent in 1987.

If you’re a woman who has dreamed of taking off on a safari, jaunting across Europe or sampling fried seahorses in Beijing, Yunker offers valuable advice:

1. You are dying to travel. You have a list of 10 favorite places you’re going to get to … one day. Buy the airline ticket six months in advance. A non-refundable ticket. Don’t fret. Don’t get stopped by all the details. Just do it. There. You’ve taken the first step. You can, and will, worry about all the other details later. But with this ticket, you are now on your way.

2. Bring a few creature comforts from home. I bring my own pillowcase for the airline pillows, my ragged at-home comfy wear instead of new nightgowns for the hotel or apartment, and a clipboard for working crossword puzzles.

3. Pack only clothes you currently actually wear. Do not buy a ton of new clothes for the trip. A suitcase packed with new clothes is a trip doomed to tears. The old clothes fit you now. You know without thinking how to look pulled together. The new clothes are uncomfortable. They don’t go with anything yet, and they scream brand new traveler!

4. Bring some currency from your destination country with you. Do it. Everyone will tell you otherwise. They’ll say it’s so much cheaper to change your money once you get there. Maybe. But in the mayhem of the airport, suitcases going in every direction, do you really want to be finding the currency exchange? Just getting to the hotel/apartment will be job enough. So do arrive with Euros or whatever currency you need. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, just enough to ease your arrival.

5. Once at the hotel, unpack your toilet articles and arrange them in the bathroom in the same order you do at home. It makes things easier. It’s so nice to be able to leave the hotel/apartment without having had a meltdown looking for misplaced mascara.

Source: www.ruthyunker.com

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Help 2.7 Million with Foreclosure Prevention Actions

April 2, 2013 3:42 am

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed more than 540,000 foreclosure prevention actions during 2012 with 130,000 in the fourth quarter alone. This brings the total foreclosure prevention actions to nearly 2.7 million since the start of conservatorship in 2008, including more than 1.3 million permanent loan modifications. These actions, which have helped more than 2.2 million borrowers stay in their homes, are detailed in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s fourth quarter 2012 Foreclosure Prevention Report, also known as the Federal Property Manager’s Report.

The quarterly report has information on state delinquencies and an updated, interactive Borrower Assistance Map for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, with information on delinquencies, foreclosure prevention activities and Real Estate Owned (REO) properties.

Also noted in the report:

-The number of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac delinquent borrowers declined 14 percent in 2012 as mortgage delinquencies dropped in every state except New Jersey and New York.

- Foreclosures continued a downward trend with foreclosure starts in the fourth quarter falling to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2008.

- 46 percent of troubled borrowers who received loan modifications in the fourth quarter had their monthly payments reduced by more than 30 percent.

- More than one-third of loan modifications completed in the fourth quarter included principal forbearance.

- Over 32,600 short sales and deeds-in-lieu were completed in the fourth quarter, bringing the total for 2012 to nearly 141,500.

- REO inventory continued to decline as property dispositions outpaced property acquisitions during the fourth quarter.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $5.7 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions.

Source: FHFA

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