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

Tips on Locating the Source of Water Leaks

August 21, 2012 1:12 am

Water damage almost always presents itself in a uniquely identifiable way. Ceilings and drywall may stain, swell, or soften. Telltale lines may exist demonstrating where water ran down or across a given surface area. Even dried out locations where water once was will provide clear evidence of a water damage problem, such as circular stains or discolorations.

As with any case of water damage, the key is to find the source of the water problem and shut it off, plug it, or repair it in order to prevent any more water from coming in. Repairs serve very little purpose if the door remains open for water to continue to have access.

If there is condensation on the windows or doors, that is a clear sign that the seals have failed. These will need to be replaced in order to stop the leak. Window replacements vary when it comes to cost, but high quality double paned windows are preferred in order to keep the problem from recurring.

Stains on the ceiling are a clear indication that the roof has failed somewhere. However, the mistake that is most commonly made is thinking that the leak must be directly above the ceiling stain. This is many times not the case, since water may run along wooden beams or pipes for a considerable distance before flowing downward. It becomes necessary to go into the attic or upper crawlspaces and check the roof interior thoroughly for signs of leakage. If the light from outside is visible through the roof, that is one clear sign, but many times it may not be so obvious. Look instead for striations or other signs that water has run across a surface and trace the leak back to its source.

Overflowing gutter systems may also be a source of water leaks in the home. If a search of the roof does not turn up any signs of damage, the gutters should be checked to make sure they are unclogged and channeling water in the right direction. Overflowing gutters can send water down the sides of the exterior walls where it may gain access to the interior.

Leaks around appliances may almost always be traced back to the supply hoses running to or from the unit. Old or worn hoses should be replaced in favor of newer steel braided hoses, which are more expensive but also less prone to leak problems.

Source: Restoration Local

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Selling Your Vacant Home

August 21, 2012 1:12 am

Selling a vacant home can be challenging. Empty homes lack character and warmth, and can sometimes seem oddly eerie. So how do you make sure your vacant home sells? Here are a few tips that can make the process go by quicker, all while keeping your home at a high selling price.

Sweat the small stuff. Once furniture is removed from a space, even the slightest imperfections become apparent. Spend extra time fixing up any noticeable damages, repainting and caulking, getting new carpets, pressure washing and fixing up anything in need of repair.

Air it out. It’s amazing how quickly an empty house can begin smelling stale and musty. Before a showing, throw open windows and doors to allow for fresh circulation, and consider some mildly scented candles or air fresheners.

Amp curb appeal. Since the house may be lacking inside in terms of character, make sure the exterior packs a punch. Not only should you clear clutter and debris from your yard, keep grass neat and repair those broken fence posts, but you should also consider planting new flowerbeds, upgrading that tired front walk or even hiring a landscaper.

Consider staging. Even if you have moved all your furniture out, you may want to consider hiring a staging company that offers furniture rental. These professionals can make an empty space into a scene of warmth and comfort. Potential buyers are not just looking for a roof over their head. They are looking for a place to start a new chapter in their life. You want to show them everything your property has to offer. Since vacant homes often sell for considerably less—typically 15-20 percent lower than the asking price—hiring a staging company is usually a solid investment.

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Fashion Dos and Don'ts of Back to School Style

August 20, 2012 1:10 am

Long gone are the days of awkward haircuts and uncomfortable first-day-of-school outfits. TOTSY.com, a private sales site for kids’ clothing, offers the following tips for parents as they get ready to dress their little ones for the first day:
  • DON'T make them wear anything too matching, whether it's a boldly patterned top and bottom paired together, or the matching licensed character ensemble. Or even worse, matching with their siblings…
  • DO leave the blankie at home. It's okay to tell your child to leave their favorite stuffed animal behind. One day they'll thank you for it!
  • DON'T get too fussy over their outfits. Leave the fancy dresses and vests at home—we all know arts and crafts time and the leftover lunch ends up smeared everywhere.
  • DON'T ever forget a kid's greatest accessory—their smile!
  • DO remember that what was considered cute when they were sitting in high-chairs and strollers may not be quite as adorable now. Look at them head off to school with the other kids—they're growing up!
  • DON'T let them leave without a hug and kiss! They may seem too cool for plastic lunchboxes or Velcro sneakers, but don't let them forget that Mom and Dad never go out of style.
  • DO your research and buy this year's hottest accessories in advance. Last minute shopping always leaves your kids with oddly colored and patterned backpacks, notebooks, pencil pouches and such. Shopping beforehand also ensures that you won't forget the necessities.
  • DON'T overdo the hairdo. Go back to the basics with girls and try some wavy curls, soft and patterned headbands, ponytail or bun. Meanwhile, test out rock n' trendy 'dos with the boys—the classmates will love a mild faux-hawk but hate the bowl cut.
Source: Totsy

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Apartment Firms Staff Up to Meet New Rental Demand

August 20, 2012 1:10 am

Reflecting the growing demand for apartment homes, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of multifamily firms grew their staff last year and 62 percent increased their merit bonus pool, according to the National Multi Housing Council's (NMHC) 2012 Apartment Compensation Survey. The annual survey, based upon the data of over 50,000 employees at 93 major apartment firms, provides detailed analysis of industry hiring practices - including salary, variable pay and total compensation of nearly 100 industry positions.

Firms that added staff increased their total number of employees by an average of 11 percent, with maintenance, leasing and property management positions being in the highest demand. These same positions were also most likely to receive a salary increase, typically three percent. Overall, 81 percent of firms reported an increase in their total compensation budgets.

The uptick in hiring comes on the heels of a strengthening multifamily market. Over three quarters (77 percent) of firms rated their financial performance better in 2011 than 2010, and 78 percent expect 2012 to improve further. The optimism also feeds into projected 2013 budgets, as 69 percent expect their merit budgets to grow next year.

Additional survey findings:
  • The staff turnover rate was a steady 30 percent in 2011 and 31 percent over the three-year period of 2009-2011.
  • In addition to salary, bonus and health benefits, 53 percent of apartment firms offered a wellness program, nearly half (49 percent) of firms allowed telecommuting and 23 percent provided a flexible hours program.
  • More than 60 percent of firms offered education assistance to various staff, and more than 74 percent offered housing discounts to on-site property management or maintenance staff.
Source: National Multi Housing Council

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Housing and Manufacturing Adding Momentum to US Recovery

August 20, 2012 1:10 am

While the U.S. economy continues to face an uphill recovery, a variety of sectors are witnessing significant growth, according to the Fall Outlook for Financial Markets report by Harris Private Bank, a part of BMO Financial Group.

The report revealed that in the second quarter of 2012, the U.S. economy slowed to an annualized 1.5 percent growth rate – down from a 2.0 percent pace in the previous quarter. However, there were some positive indicators:
  • The housing sector continued to stabilize as a result of low interest rates and early recognition of troubled loans.
  • The manufacturing sector made gains through inventory building, rather than user demand, focusing on stock as current inventory levels are below historic norms.
Overall, incomes in the U.S. rose 0.5 percent, pushing the nation's savings rate to 4.4 percent as consumer spending stagnated.

The report also noted that the U.S. is not alone in its economic challenges, with China, India, Brazil and Europe all facing issues. The U.S. Treasury's benchmark 10-year note closed July at an all-time low yield of 1.47 percent, and sovereign bonds in perceived havens such as Germany, Austria, Finland and Japan all reported 10-year yields below 1.5 percent.

In the Eurozone – despite policymakers' best intentions – bond yields in Spain and Italy remain at crisis levels, which could make a bailout necessary in both countries. Meanwhile, China and India posted slowed growth results in the last quarter; Brazil also stalled in the face of its stronger currency.

In the energy and commodity sectors, widespread declines caused profits to decrease more than 15 percent; basic materials companies witnessed a profit setback of nearly 19 percent. However, the report noted that reported growth in the U.S. should pick up once lower energy and commodity input costs filter into third quarter income statements.

The S&P 500 benchmark index gained nearly 12 percent in 2012; however, foreign markets have had less positive results. The MSCI EAFE index of advanced economy stocks gained approximately five percent this year, while emerging market equities have seen growth of slightly more than six percent for the year.

Source: Harris Private Bank

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Consumers Anticipate Spending More Money on Electronics for Back-to-School Shopping This Year

August 16, 2012 1:10 am

According to a recent TechBargains.com study, one-in-four shoppers indicated a plan to purchase tablets and 28 percent plan on buying laptops while shopping for back-to-school items. Forty percent of people expect to buy computer accessories and another 23 percent plan to pick up smartphones. The survey also found that 36 percent of shoppers expect to spend more money on consumer electronics this year for back-to-school necessities than last.

Surveyed consumers anticipate spending more money on electronics and computers this year because tech gadgets have become increasingly critical to the learning process. Consumers have demonstrated they are getting the most for their money by turning to online shopping and coupon codes in search of the best deals available.

The survey results indicate that 75 percent of consumers may plan to purchase a PC laptop over a Mac. Thirty-seven percent of consumers who may plan to purchase a tablet anticipate buying an iPad compared to 22 percent of those expecting to buy a Google Nexus and 14 percent, a Kindle Fire. Of the consumers planning to purchase a tablet, 14 percent said they would be using it as their primary device in place of a desktop or laptop, an interesting statistic given the current tablet-versus-laptop war.

Source: TechBargains.com

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Tips on Buying a Samurai Sword

August 16, 2012 1:10 am

Choosing a samurai sword, or “katana,” can be a complicated process for a first-time buyer, given the wide selection of types and vendors on the online market today. Here are few factors to consider while seeking out the ideal sword:

The primary question to ask is: How will the sword be used?

A display sword is primarily about aesthetic appeal. While this decorative sword isn’t necessarily of lesser quality, it should not be used for practice. These swords are usually crafted with more attention to engravings and other details, rather than blade strength. Always use the manufacturer’s hardware to mount a display sword. A falling sword is one of the most dangerous things that could happen to a sword owner.

A functional sword – to be used for cutting practice, for example – needs to be more durable. Novice sword-buyers are often best off with a “beater” sword, termed that for the fact that it’s made to be used. Beaters favor function over style – they have thicker, heaver blades to make them less breakable and more able to take on a wide range of cutting targets. These swords are modeled after historical or famous swords, but are often not very accurate in their details. They also tend to be much more affordable than higher quality swords.

A high-quality sword, intended for long-term or frequent use, should have these features:

-The sword should be made of high carbon steel. Non-carbon steel swords can shatter on impact. Cheaper swords are made of stainless steel, which tends to be brittle.

-The sword should be heat-treated and tempered to ensure that the blade is not too brittle or too soft, for user safety.

-The sword should have a full tang. The tang is the insert that attaches the blade to the handle. If the sword does not have a full tang, it’s more likely that the sword will break during use.

-The sword should weigh less than three pounds to ensure it’s properly balanced for optimal cutting speed.

It is possible to find stylish and fully functional swords anywhere from $150 - $300. Though a high-quality sword will be pricier than a beater or some display swords, it will also last longer under duress and is a worthwhile investment for an authentic collection.

Source: Valiant Swords

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Simple Tips for Choosing the Right Home Insurance

August 16, 2012 1:10 am

When buying a home, choosing insurance can seem like a peripheral consideration. But even with everything else to think about during the process, taking the time to choose the right policy will pay off should a claim ever become necessary. Home insurance comes in three main types: basic, broad, and comprehensive. Each of these levels adds more coverage and provides for a wider range of perils. The one that is selected depends upon a few factors; some homes may only qualify for the lower levels, and of course budget is a consideration.

Basic Home Insurance
A basic home insurance policy will cover the house, contents, and homeowner’s liability for specific perils. This means that it will only provide coverage in the event of a claim stemming from the perils that are named in the policy. These include basics like fire and theft. Anything not listed will not be covered.

Basic home insurance is a good choice when looking to save money, as it is the least expensive option. It’s often selected for second homes such as a cottage. It may also be a good choice on a home that needs a lot of work as such homes might not yet qualify for comprehensive coverage under the insurance company’s rules.

Broad Form Home Insurance
A broad form policy offers a little more than a basic policy and usually will cost a little more. It’s a middle ground between the two and is a good choice to those who need to save money but want more than the most basic coverage. In a broad policy, coverage for the structure will be raised to an all perils level, meaning unless it is specifically excluded on the policy, it will be covered. However, contents coverage remains at a named perils level.

This allows better coverage for the home itself against more possible risks. Since the cost to rebuild a home is much higher than the cost to replace the contents in most cases, this type of policy protects homeowners a little better from a major financial loss.

Comprehensive Home Insurance
The top level of home insurance coverage offers all perils coverage for both the structures and the contents, giving the best possible protection from a wide range of risks. Homeowners may want to select a comprehensive policy to provide as much peace of mind as possible. While no policy can protect from every possible risk, this will give the most coverage available.

Although this type of policy is the most expensive, it is the most common choice for the average homeowner. Of course, not every home will qualify, but most well-kept or newer homes should have no problem. The investment in a higher premium will pay off in the event of a claim.

Source: InsuranceHotline.com

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Creating Escapes at Home

August 15, 2012 1:10 am

While traveling to a remote island to get away for peace and relaxation would be a wonderful retreat, you can easily avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily routine by creating peaceful escapes throughout your own home.

The bathroom, for example, is the only place where you can shut the door and have complete "you time" with little to no interruptions. "As people's lives get busier, multitasking is the norm - and our time in the shower is no exception," says Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights for Moen. A shower means a bit of precious alone time, and people take full advantage of the peace to think about the day, their lives and more. To add a bit of bliss in the bath, add a spa-like shower with multiple spray settings to meet every mood.

Your den area might be a go-to hangout place, but it's still easy to create peace among the chaos. De-cluttering is one of the simplest things you can do to create order and a sense of calm. Remove items that haven't been used in months and get rid of furniture that serves little to no function. The less clutter your den has, the better you'll feel. It's also important to open the windows whenever possible. Less mess and fresh air can easily change the outlook of a room. 

Don't let that drab patio furniture or lackluster backyard get you down. A few pieces of bright colors can really change your outlook. Start off by planting flowers to spruce up the look of your space - no matter how small. Even if you don't have a yard to put them in, flowers can be housed in pots, on balcony railings and even hung from the ceiling. They are the perfect addition of color and soothing smells.

Another great idea is to update your seating areas on your patio. A comfortable rocker, glider or lounge chair could be the perfect addition to create an inviting area for you to escape in a book or relax and unwind socializing with friends. If you already have seating, create an attractive and comfortable update with seat cushions, which can be found for reasonable prices at local retail stores and even outlets - giving your wallet a break.

Follow these tricks, and you'll be on your way to feeling great, inside and out.

Source: Moen

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Safety Starts in Your Yard

August 15, 2012 1:10 am

The garden is a place of fun and relaxation, but is also highly vulnerable to damage and theft. By taking a little time to make sure things are secure, you can save your home from thieves who may use your garden or yard to enter your house.

Shed
A shed is vital for storing expensive garden equipment, but could also attract opportunistic thieves. Check that the structure of your shed is sturdy, with two padlocked bolts fitted to the door. All windows should be also fitted with locks, while placing mesh across the inside will shield your tools and equipment from view. Larger items such as mowers and power tools can be further protected by a wall or floor anchor, but do remember that these will only be as secure as the surface they are attached to. Specialized shed alarms use either a door contact system or an infrared motion detector to warn you against intruders. If these are not an option, your home burglar alarm system could be extended to cover your yard and shed.

Boundaries
The rear boundary of your yard is the most vulnerable part of your entire house; 22 percent of burglars enter through the back door, according to uniform crime reporting program crime clock. Tall fences may deter them, and sharp plants are a natural alternative to unsightly barbed wire and can add extra height to your boundaries. A thorny trellis of roses, pyracantha or chaenomeles should help to stop a potential burglar in his tracks.

Lights
Garden lights are one of the best tools for night time security. Halogen floodlights can provide an attractive and subtle glow to your garden, or a passive infrared sensor can be used to trip brighter lights when motion is detected. Take care to angle the lights away from the road and neighboring houses, focusing on the entry points to your home. Sensors can also be used to switch garden lights on with sunset and off with sunrise.

Paths
Gravel can be used as a cheap warning sign of approaching thieves, while also making it difficult for them to make a quiet exit. Gravel is now available in a wide range of colors and sizes, with many types suitable for mixing with slabs and bricks.

Source: http://www.dyno.com/

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