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 Decorations Provide a Cutting Edge...if Done Right

December 20, 2012 3:46 am

Holiday decorating, when tastefully done, can be the eye candy you need to sell your home. With a little holiday flair, you can transform your home into a winter wonderland that will grab the attention of any type of buyer.

Since you don't want to turn off any potential buyers, leave the inflatable Santas and reindeer in the attic. Not only do they take up much-needed space in your front lawn, but they also make symbolic statements that you are best avoiding.

Choose one theme or look and stick with it throughout. Pay attention to proportion and balance; make sure your decorations suit the home appropriately and add to rather than hinder the home's décor.

Don't overdo exterior holiday lighting; rather, use them for a determined purpose. Christmas lights can be used to light up a walkway for night viewings and can add a nice sparkle to that pine tree sitting in your front yard. If your house ends up looking like something out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you have gone too far. Scale back and be more conservative than you usually would be with your decorating.

Keep your decorations elegant and simple. When decorating, think "winter" and not "Christmas." White lights help give your home a seasonal look without symbolizing any specific holiday, while pine wreaths serve the same purpose for the exterior or interior of the home.

If your family cannot do without a tree, stick to tall and thin trees. You want your home to feel open and spacious even with sporadic decorations about. Stick to two or three colors when decorating your tree; less is more when trying to sell your home. Lastly, be sure to take your tree down before the new year.

If your home is on the market, you can still give it a festive and seasonal look without going overboard. By brightening your home up for the season, you can incite buyer interest in your home.

Source: energizedseller.com

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Tips for Using Portable Generators Efficiently and Safely

December 19, 2012 3:46 am

When storms terrorize your neighborhood, knocking out the power for indefinite periods of time, portable electric generators are a great way to keep the electricity flowing. Especially during this time of year, portable generators can keep your house warm should you lose power on a cold, chilly night.

Despite the many pros to using generators, there are a few common dangers that should be avoided in order to ensure safety while running a generator, including carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electrocution or electrical shock. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Reliance Controls offer the following tips for safe usage and warn against the improper use and installing of portable generators:

• Never use a gasoline-powered generator inside your home or garage. High levels of carbon monoxide are generated quickly and opening doors or windows will not prevent build-up. Always use your generator outdoors and away from the home and open windows. Use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of hazardous gas.

• Store generator fuel safely. Keep it away from living areas and fuel-burning appliances. Properly label your containers as well. Make sure the generator is off and cooled down before attempting to refill it.

• Check the extension cords you plan on using beforehand. Make sure they are rated for the load, free of cuts or worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.

• Be careful not to overload the generator. Only use it when absolutely necessary to power essential appliances.

Another ESFI recommendation is that you do not connect your generator directly into your household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch being installed. A transfer switch is an electrical device that is permanently installed near the service panel in your home. It prevents the utility power and the generator power from powering your household circuits at the same time. A transfer switch also eliminates the possibility of backfeeding, which is when generator power travels back up the utility service line. Backfeeding can result in fires and serious injury or even death to you, utility workers or electricians working on nearby electrical systems.

The National Electrical Code®, which sets national standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks, requires that transfer switches be used with all portable generators supplying alternate power to a home or business.

Source: www.transferswitches.com.

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Most Homeowners Not Downsizing

December 19, 2012 3:46 am

Whether a millennial, Gen Xer or baby boomer, homeowners overwhelmingly want their next home to be the same size or larger than their current home, according to a recent survey by national homebuilder PulteGroup, Inc. This latest PGHI survey polled current homeowners on size and feature preferences for their next home.

"It was interesting to see that 84 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 don't have plans to downsize their next home, even among baby boomers," said Deborah Meyer, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of PulteGroup. "The PGHI survey results also show that today's buyers are equally focused on smarter use of the spaces within their homes."

Further proof that increased house size is on the rise comes from recent U.S. Census Bureau data which indicates the average size of a newly built home was 2,480 square feet in 2011, which is an increase of 3.7 percent from 2010. This represents the first annual increase since 2007.

Generational Differences
More than half of millennials, homeowners between the ages of 18-34, would like their next home to be larger than their current home with 68 percent of those respondents saying the larger home would be used to accommodate their growing family.

Meanwhile, showing the diversity of Gen Xers, nearly 40 percent of respondents ages 35-54 want a larger home to accommodate a growing family (37 percent) and need more room and storage space (29 percent).

One of the most interesting survey results came from baby boomer respondents. Only 28 percent of those ages 55-59 said they want their next home to be smaller, citing retirement and becoming an empty nester as the top reasons for downsizing.

Forget Formality, Homeowners Want More Space
According to the survey, 21 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 rarely use their formal dining room while 17 percent said they rarely use their formal living room. When asked to rank the most important feature in their next home, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents want larger, open spaces, including master bedrooms, larger rooms and open floor concepts.

When asked to rank their top five "must haves" in their next home, respondents indicated they want:

• Larger rooms
• Master bedrooms suites
• More storage space
• Patio/outdoor living space
• Energy efficiency

While men and women ages 18-59 agree on having a master bedroom suite, 62 percent of women said they also would like to have more storage space while 45 percent of men want more technology in the home. And, as older men (55-59) embark upon retirement, they rank having a study/den in their top five must-have features.

Family Closeness Still a Factor in Choosing a Home's Location
Homeowners are willing to give up a lot to get what they want in their next home, but across all generations they don't want to give up being close to their family.

When asked what homeowners 18-59 would be willing to give up for the "must haves" in their next home:

• 52 percent cited being close to public transportation
• 35 percent said they're willing to give up being close to entertainment and shopping
• 28 percent said they would give up being near parks and better schools

However, the last thing homeowners want to give up is being near their family with only 21 percent saying moving away from their family would be an option.

Source: PulteGroup

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5 Factors to Keep in Mind When Pricing Your Kitchen Remodel

December 18, 2012 3:44 am

Homeowners who are looking to remodel their kitchen should keep the following factors—that can significantly affect the price of their remodel—in mind as they begin to make plans to upgrade their kitchen. According to Kitchen Tune-Up, homeowners should pay attention to the following five factors before they begin a renovation.

1. Wood species or cabinet covering material. The material that covers the cabinet will effect the overall pricing of a kitchen renovation, but not as much as you might think. A stainless steel clad cabinet will be the most expensive and a melamine (thin plastic laminate) surface will be the least costly. Cherry is usually about 7-10 percent more than oak, while hickory, oak and pine usually run very close in price. Unusual cabinet woods like alder, mahogany, fir, rift cut woods, redwood, teak, etc. will usually cost more than common oak or pine.

2. Kitchen layout. The layout of the kitchen and the cabinet configuration will largely affect the price of a remodel as well. For example, a lazy susan will cost more than a sink cabinet, a stack of drawers will be higher priced than a one drawer/two door base cabinet, a U-shaped kitchen costs more than an L-shape with an island and a wall oven/cooktop combination makes the kitchen cost about $1,000 more than a free standing range. Setting a budget to design within can often save homeowners many hours of re-design.

3. Cabinet door style. A door with many details will usually cost more than a simple door. If an arch is added to a square panel, homeowners can expect to pay more. A door with lots of grooves or molding generally costs more than a simple door and a full overlay door (door that covers almost the entire cabinet face) costs more than a traditional overlay door. Doors set inside the cabinet frame (called inset) cost more than doors that are mounted over the cabinet frame.

4. Type of cabinet finish. The type of cabinet finish you choose will vary the pricing of a kitchen remodel as well. Painted cabinets will run 10-15 percent more than a standard stain finish and glazes or layered finishes will run 7-15 percent more than a standard stain due to the extra labor.

5. Cabinet construction methods and materials. Don’t skimp in the area of cabinet construction in order to save money on your kitchen renovation as better construction methods make a kitchen durable. In fact, cabinet construction may be 60 percent of the entire cabinet cost.

For more information, visit www.kitchentuneup.com.

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The Truth about Carpet, Asthma and Allergies

December 18, 2012 3:44 am

Not only does carpet add warmth and comfort to any room, it also helps keep the air free of allergens and pollutants when properly vacuumed and maintained. What falls to the carpet—such as allergens, common dust, pet hair and other pollutants—tends to stay on the carpet until it is vacuumed, unlike smooth surfaces that allow these particles to re-circulate. Properly maintained carpet leads to improved air quality and a healthier indoor environment because regular vacuuming with a Carpet and Rug Institute-certified vacuum cleaner locks pollutants in the machine and removes them from the air you breathe.

Here are several facts that support the use of carpet to help prevent asthma and allergy symptoms:

Know

-There is no scientific study linking the rise of allergy and asthma to the use of carpet. Indeed, several studies actually disprove any correlation.

-According to Carpet and Flooring Review, a 15-year Swedish study found no link between carpet usage and the incidence of allergy or asthma. In fact, even when carpet usage in Sweden decreased by 70 percent, allergy reactions in the general population increased by 30 percent.

-Carpet may even be helpful to people with asthma: an 18-nation study of nearly 20,000 people found a statistical relationship between carpeted bedrooms and reduced asthma and allergy symptoms and improved breathing.

-A 2003 study of more than 4,600 school children in New Jersey found that having carpet in a child’s bedroom was associated with fewer missed school days and less need for asthma medication.

Studies have compared the distribution of airborne dust associated with normal activities on hard and soft flooring surfaces. Findings show that walking on hard surfaces disturbed more particles. These particles became airborne and entered the breathing zone. In contrast, carpeted surfaces trapped more particles so that walking disturbed fewer particles. The result was less dust in the breathing zone over carpeted floors.

Do

Vacuum regularly and thoroughly. It may come as a surprise that something as simple as regular vacuuming can have a big impact on the air you breathe. When vacuuming, remember to keep the following guidelines in mind:

-Use slow, repetitive front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence. A quick once-over doesn’t do much. Move slightly to the left or to the right every four strokes.

-Don’t ignore the corners or crevices where dust builds. Use the proper attachments to clean those difficult-to-reach areas.

-“Top-down” cleaning saves you the step of vacuuming after dusting. Dust blinds, windowsills and furniture surfaces first and then vacuum away any fallen dust.

-Remember to remove and replace or empty vacuum bags when they are half to two-thirds full.

-Professionally clean your carpet every 12 to 18 months. Regular vacuuming removes soil and dust, but periodic professional cleaning is needed to remove embedded dirt. Check with the manufacturer of your carpet for professional service provider recommendations, many of which can be found at www.certifiedcleaners.org.

Purchase and install carpet certified with the Green Label or Green Label Plus. These programs make certain that carpet and adhesive products meet the most stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.

By appropriately cleaning and maintaining your carpet, you can hopefully keep your family healthier and control your allergies.

For more information, visit www.carpet-rug.org/.

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New Year's Resolutions for Potential Homebuyers

December 18, 2012 3:44 am

If you are a buyer waiting to spring into action, 2013 is the perfect time to jump in and invest in a new home. Not only are interest rates still incredibly low, but home prices are also extremely reasonable in many parts of the country. Being on the cusp of the New Year, it's the perfect time to make a buying plan to set yourself up for success in all of your buying endeavors. Make and keep the following resolutions from AOL Real Estate so that you can be sure to purchase a new home in the year to come.

I will save up for a substantial down payment. Saving for a down payment is a crucial part of the buying process. Although the days of no-money-down mortgages are surely behind us, you don't necessarily need a full 20 percent either. The more you can save now, the more you will save in the future.

I will whip my credit into shape before applying for a loan. No matter what type of loan or where you apply for it, your credit rating will be checked. The most ideal credit score ranges from 700-750. To ensure you get the best terms on your mortgage, prepare yourself financially before officially applying. Pay off credit card debt or any outstanding bills you may have in your name. The more confidence a bank has in you and your credit score, the better deal you are likely to receive.

I will consult the professionals. Whether buying your first home or moving to a new one, it's always a smart idea to consult with real estate professionals if you have any questions regarding any step of the process. A reliable real estate broker is an invaluable source for all of your needs and can recommend trusted financial advisors, home inspectors, etc. When in doubt, seek advice and counsel.

There are plenty of other goals you can set for yourself in the new year to help you get another step further in the home-buying process. By making these resolutions and promising to keep them, you can fully prepare to traverse the buying process and purchase a new property.

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5 Time-Saving Laundry Tips

December 17, 2012 3:42 am

(Family Features) From messy meals to remnants of craft time creations, parents know that life is full of all kinds of stain-inducing adventures. But the great times should live on through cherished memories, not through permanently stained clothing. When it comes to removing those stains – from mud to markers and everything in between – knowing how to care for your child’s garments means you can get out of the laundry room more quickly and focus on the activities your family enjoys.

Aside from letting your washer and dryer do the heavy lifting, there are a few tricks of the trade worth keeping in mind when it comes to protecting clothing items. Put these five tips to the test to help better care for your garments, so you can spend less time sorting and treating stains, and more time with the family.

1. Spot, Treat, and Check – If you spill on a garment, immediately rinse or blot away the stain using cool water to prevent it from setting. Make sure to read fabric care labels and wash accordingly to help clothing last. And before you toss garments into the wash, be sure to double-check the pockets, as well as zip zippers and fasten buttons – this helps cut down on snags, holes, etc.

2. Sort, Sort, Sort – Sort laundry by color, wash cycle and water temperature required. Make it easier on yourself and your family by placing bins marked for whites, darks, mediums and delicates in your laundry room.

3. Choose the Right Cycle
– High efficiency appliances can wash clothing on various cycles. This means you can launder sturdy items such as jeans on the permanent press cycle using warm water, causing less agitation, while washing swimsuits, fine knits and undergarments on the delicates cycle with cold water.

4. Double-duty – If your clothing is heavily soiled, extra-large, or you want to use the cold water setting, add extra laundry detergent when you start the cycle. Some high efficiency washers feature a sanitize setting, which uses the hottest water available to thoroughly get rid of germs and grime.

5. Quick Dry – Dry only full loads – drying only a handful of garments prolongs the drying time by reducing the tumbling. If you have to dry a smaller load, add a few bath towels to help with tumbling.

Source: Frigidaire

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Mortgage Rates Little Changed

December 17, 2012 3:42 am

Mortgage rates showed little movement, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate reversing last week's move and rebounding to 3.52 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.37 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate held at 2.85 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year mortgage remained at the record low of 3.98 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were mixed, with the 1-year ARM sliding to 2.97 percent, the 5-year ARM staying at 2.74 percent for a third consecutive week, and the 10-year ARM rising to 3.2 percent.

Mortgage rates showed little movement as the fiscal cliff talks looked more like a stalemate. But a newly announced stimulus plan from the Federal Reserve aimed at buying longer-term Treasuries should help bring both bond yields and mortgage rates lower, albeit modestly. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds. Don't expect any big moves in mortgage rates as long as the fiscal cliff talks drag on.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 3.52 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $900.32, a difference of $341 per month for anyone refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS

30-year fixed: 3.52% -- up from 3.50% last week (avg. points: 0.37)
15-year fixed: 2.85% -- unchanged from last week (avg. points: 0.27)
5/1 ARM: 2.74% -- unchanged from last week (avg. points: 0.35)

Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week's move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/mortgagerates.

Source: Bankrate, Inc.

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Get a Jumpstart on Your New Year's Resolution

December 17, 2012 3:42 am

While many people look to January 1 as the perfect time to start a health and fitness regimen, there are things that you can do now to get a jumpstart and also minimize the damage that you do to your waistline during the next few weeks. Fitness experts are offering the "12 Ways of Weight Loss" to get people thinking about making 2013 the year they get fit.

Studies show that just one week into the New Year, 25 percent of resolutions are forgotten and by the end of the year, nearly 90 percent have failed. Here are a few tips to get started on the road to success during the final days of 2012.

12 Ways of Weight Loss

12: Taper carbs starting at noon
Carbohydrate intake should always be monitored but an easy guideline is to curtail the carbs as the day wears on.

11: The 11 o’clock rule – eat and workout by 11 a.m.
If you haven’t had anything to eat or participated in any activity by 11 a.m., there’s a problem. Either you drank too much the night before, you’re having one of those lazy days that does nothing to enhance weight loss, or you’re starving yourself unnecessarily.

10: Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week
Instead of watching 28 hours of TV a week as the average American does, find ways to move more and watch less. Incorporate movement into your everyday life, even beyond exercise.

9: Eat approximately nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day
This doesn’t mean you need to eat nine different fruits and vegetables, though that would be great too. Keep in mind that one serving is equal to a small or medium piece of fruit, a half-cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of raw veggies.

8: Get eight hours of sleep each night
Research has proven that lack of sleep can contribute to a number of metabolic disturbances. Remember, cat-naps in the middle of the day do not qualify as quality sleep, so try to hit the sack in a timely fashion to get in the full eight hours.

7: Eat breakfast seven days a week
A cup of coffee does not count as a healthy, well-balanced breakfast. Get in some good carbs, protein, fruit…and then add that caffeine.

6: Exercise six days a week and have one day of rest
Not ready to conquer this level yet? No problem. Start with one, two or three days a week, with the goal of working your way up to six. And don’t forget to make it fun too.

5: Eat at least five ounces of protein a day
Protein is very satiating and balances out meals quite well – and it doesn’t always have to be animal-based. Vegetarian protein sources, like tofu, are great too.

4: Drink four glasses of water by 4 p.m.
Most people forget to drink water during the most active part of their day, so make 4 × 4 a habit. By doing this, you’ll avoid dehydration, headaches and nocturia (midnight bathroom trips), and it may help with weight loss too.

3: Weigh yourself at least three times a week
We don’t want you to be hyper-focused on the scale numbers, but research has proven that the earlier you identify weight gain trends, the easier it is to do something about them.

2: Exercise with a friend
Pooch or person, it doesn’t matter. Just get out and exercise with someone. You’ll feel more accountable to your partner and make him/her healthier in the process.

1: Have one splurge meal per week
Deprivation is challenging, so don’t completely abstain from your favorite foods, no matter what they might be. Just be sure that one meal doesn’t turn into two, three or four.

Source: Anytime Fitness

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Tips for Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

December 14, 2012 3:42 am

With only 12 shopping days remaining until Christmas and Free Shipping Day fast approaching on December 17, there are still numerous ways for shoppers to find substantial savings during the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday shopping season. The following tips are for the procrastinator in all of us:

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store—Take advantage of online coupons and Cash Back savings by avoiding the inevitable long lines in stores. Many merchants offer this option through Christmas Eve.
eGift cards arrive almost instantaneously—Add a little something extra or grab gifts for those that may have slipped your mind with an eGift card. This is a great last-minute option that won't come with a hefty last-minute shipping price tag. Also, consider gifts that keep on giving such as Wine.com and Omaha Steaks monthly gift packages. You can notify the recipient via email of their gift and they can select when to start shipping.
Stack Deals—Check and see if a merchant allows you to combine a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon. The end result will likely yield deep savings. Be sure to look for Cash Back rewards to stretch your money even further this holiday season.
Mobilize your shopping—Browse on-the-go with your smartphone for easy access to savings and deals. Use mobile apps and simply browse by store to uncover coupon codes, daily deals and automatic Cash Back rewards. If you decide to select an in-store pick-up option for shipping, then you can still take advantage of Cash Back savings even while browsing in store.
Relax, there's time—Many retailers are extending their deadlines so your gifts arrive by Christmas. You can shop even later with in-store pick-up and avoid express shipping fees – most stores offer this service for free. To ensure your gifts arrive in time:
Toys "R" Us: Purchase by Friday, December 21 and choose Express Shipping for most items; Order by 2:00 pm on December 24 for same-day in-store pick-up.
Sears: Purchase by Saturday, December 22 and choose Express Shipping for most items; Choose same-day in-store pick-up and allow at least 2 hours for processing.
• Apple: Order by Saturday, December 22 and choose Express Shipping.
Walmart: Order by Friday, December 21 and choose Express Shipping; Choose same-day in-store pick-up and allow 4 hours for processing time.

Source: www.ShopAtHome.com

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