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

Reclaiming Your Bedroom

May 10, 2012 5:20 am

Our bedrooms are supposed to be our safe havens – our private sanctuaries. Yet more often than not, they’re home to piles of laundry to put away, dusty work-out equipment, and mismatched shoes. How can one relax in that environment?

Thanks to some great strategies from author Julie Morgenstern via HGTV.com, your bedroom can soon become the zen-like environment it was intended to be. Here are Morgenstern’s top tips for organizing and reclaiming the boudoir:
  1. Under-bed Storage. Sliding or rolling under-bed storage bins serve as a wonderful extension of your closet space. Use them to rotate seasonal items, store bigger, bulkier items like backpacks, purses and blankets, or house a change of sheets. These items will remain nicely hidden with the help of a bedskirt. Be sure to label the bins to avoid frantic and messy searching.
  2. Put Shoes in Their Place. One of the quickest fixes to a bedroom closet overrun with shoes is to invest in a shoe rack. Morgenstern recommends an expanding tiered shoe rack below your clothes as opposed to an over-the-door hanging shoe bag. Once you have a clear visual on just how many shoes you actually own, odds are you’ll realize it’s time to give some away.
  3. Control Jewelry Chaos. A hanging jewelry organizer can help tame that tangled mess of necklaces and earrings on your bureau. These organizers usually come with or snap onto a hanger and have plenty of clear pockets to keep items free and clear of each other.
  4. Create a Reading Nook. That lovely chair you have in your room was not meant to be adorned with dirty laundry and back-logged magazines. Morgenstern says it’s time to rescue your reading chair by adding the proper organization, such as a side table with drawers or shelves for your reading materials, journal or e-reader. If you’re a magazine and/or newspaper fan, a magazine rack would work best
  5. Make Your Bed Every Day. So simple yet so tempting to blow off. Treat your bed as the sanctuary it is by positioning it for use every day, says Morgenstern. If you spend three minutes each morning to tuck and fold, you'll develop a habit of keeping order in the room, which may translate into motivation for picking up the pile of clothes on the floor.
  6. Put Specialty Garments in Storage. If your wedding dress or special occasion fur is taking up space in your primary closet, have it professionally cleaned and boxed, then put it away in an attic or basement.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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'Million Messages in May' Launches to Save Lives

May 9, 2012 5:18 am

The National Organizations for Youth Safety® (NOYS®), joined by celebrities from around the world, announces the launch of the "Million Messages in May" campaign, in support of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month™ observed annually in May. 

Traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of youth in the U.S. and throughout the world. The campaign's mission is to draw attention to Youth Traffic Safety by generating the transmission of one million traffic safety messages in May via Facebook, Twitter, email and texting. 

To jumpstart the viral push, Million Messages in May spokespersons Tayler Malsam, 23, driver of the NASCAR® Nationwide #19 G-Oil Toyota Camry, and Bryton James, 25, an Emmy winning star of CBS' daytime drama "The Young & The Restless," were joined by a powerhouse lineup: NBA Stars , Chase Budinger, Stephen Curry, Corey Maggette, Anthony Tolliver and Nolan Smith; Actors, Tatyana Ali, Noah Munck – iCarly; Christa Orecchio - National Nutrition Expert; and pro skateboarder, Greg Lutzka. Collectively, since May 1, through tweets and Facebook posts, these celebrities have already helped NOYS send over 5 million messages. 

The "Million Messages in May" campaign is designed to use star power and social networking to encourage NOYS' supporters to share safe driving messages via the top networking platforms in the world. 

"On average, people spend around 6 to 7 hours a month social networking. Imagine the impact it could have on saving lives if everyone sent a traffic safety message, even just once a day, while chatting, tweeting, or Facebooking," said James. 

"We want everyone to 'do what you do' to save lives," said Malsam. "Send and forward messages, ask your friends to stay focused, avoid distractions. Don't text and drive, and be sure to buckle up," said Malsam. 

According to NOYS Executive Director, Sandy Spavone, "the Million Messages in May social networking campaign supports the goal of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, which is to engage and empower teens to develop and implement youth-led teen traffic safety projects that provide peer-to-peer education, support enforcement efforts, and advocate for stronger teen driving safety laws. The NOYS coalition hosts this global campaign.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Creating a Storm Preparedness Kit

May 9, 2012 5:18 am

We’ve already seen a substantial dose of severe weather this spring and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is encouraging Americans to be prepared with the right emergency kit.
According to Consumer Reports, federal authorities recommend keeping the following in your emergency kit, which represents a three-day supply of necessities. If your family has special needs—i.e., small children, life-threatening allergies, elderly grandparents—your kit should be tailored accordingly: 

• One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
• Non-perishable food and a manual can opener
• A battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Important family documents in a waterproof container
• Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers 

Experts also advise families to create an emergency plan that outlines how families will communicate in the event of a crisis, including where everyone will gather. Keep in mind that text messages will often get through when a phone call will not. 

Consumer Reports suggests adding a power inverter to your emergency supply kit, a shoe-box sized gizmo that can be connected to your car's 12-volt system and convert direct-current (DC) power into the alternating-current (AC) power required to run a refrigerator or sump pump. Although not as powerful as a standby generator, it can get you through an outage and doesn't need gas.

Source: consumerreports.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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79 Percent of Refinancing Homeowners Maintain or Reduce Mortgage Debt

May 9, 2012 5:18 am

The recently released results of Freddie Mac’s first quarter refinance analysis show that refinancing continues to be a favorable option for homeowners seeking to strengthen their fiscal house. 

According to the report, in the first quarter of 2012, 79 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage either maintained about the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying-in additional money at the closing table. Of these borrowers, 58 percent maintained about the same loan amount, and 21 percent of refinancing homeowners reduced their principal balance; the share of borrowers that kept about the same loan amount was the highest in the 26-year history of the analysis. 

"Cash-out" borrowers, those that increased their loan balance by at least 5 percent, represented 21 percent of all refinance loans; the weighted average cash-out share during the 1985 to 2008 period was 50 percent. 

The median interest rate reduction for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was about 1.5 percentage points, or a savings of about 27 percent in interest rate, the largest percent reduction recorded in the 27 years of analysis. Over the first year of the refinance loan life, the median borrower will save about $2,900 in interest payments on a $200,000 loan. 

The net dollars of home equity converted to cash as part of a refinance, adjusted for inflation, was at the lowest level in nearly 17 years (since the third quarter of 1995). In the first quarter, an estimated $5.3 billion in net home equity was cashed out during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $7.0 billion in the fourth quarter and substantially less than during the peak cash-out refinance volume of $83.7 billion during the second quarter of 2006. 

Among the refinanced loans in Freddie Mac's analysis, the median prior loan life was 4.3 years. One-half of the loans that were paid-off had been in place from between three and seven years, that is, had been originated between 2005 and 2009.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Working Moms Want Flex Time not More Time

May 8, 2012 5:16 am

In celebration of Mother's Day, job-matching service TheLadders released a new survey revealing that working mothers care more about having flexible hours after returning to work than spending more time at home while on leave. In fact, when asked to prioritize six "work situations" as a working mother, the majority (44 percent) chose flexibility as most important versus only 5 percent who said they would opt for longer maternity leave.

In addition to flexible working hours and extensive time off, working mothers ranked the scenarios as follows: ability to work from home (29 percent), convenient working hours (20 percent), on-site day care (2 percent), and generous paternity leave (0 percent). The female professionals surveyed are in the following industries: construction, education, engineering, finance, human resources, law, marketing, medical/science, operations, real estate, sales and technology.

TheLadders Mother's Day survey also revealed the following:
  • The number-one reason respondents returned to work is for "financial reasons," although resuming employment because they "enjoy their career" is a close second. Needing benefits (health/child care) and just wanting to "get out of the house" were less motivating rationale.
  • When asked how having a child impacts the way that working mothers feel they are regarded by coworkers, almost half (42 percent) felt their colleagues are "supportive and understanding," while 18 percent believe that others "behaved the same." Almost a quarter (24 percent) said their coworkers are "supportive, but don't understand my situation" and a frustrated 16 percent said their teammates are "resentful of my competing priorities or schedule."
  • Balancing a career and a family is a huge struggle for 87 percent of respondents with 55 percent admitting that "excelling at both is overwhelming," 13 percent "struggled at first, but now it's under control," 16 percent "always put family first and work has suffered for it," and 3 percent "always put work first and family has suffered for it."
Source: TheLadders

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Where the Gardeners Are...and What They’re up To

May 8, 2012 5:16 am

According to market research firm Scarborough, nearly 164 million homeowners in the United States, nearly half (49 percent) gardened in the past 12 months.

Gardening homeowners are 10 percent more likely than all homeowners to be baby boomers and 33 percent have at least a college degree. Forty-seven percent of gardening homeowners hold full-time employment and 26 percent have an annual household income of $100K or more. Twenty-two percent of gardening homeowners are retired.

Where do these gardening homeowners live? The top local markets for adult homeowners who have gardened in the past 12 months are Seattle, Wash. (63 percent are homeowners who have gardened); Portland, Ore. (63 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (62 percent); Milwaukee, Minn. (58 percent) and Columbus, Ohio (58 percent). The local markets with the lowest penetration of gardeners among homeowners are St. Louis, Mo. (43 percent); Mobile, Ala. (40 percent); West Palm Beach, Fla. (40 percent); Miami, Fla. (38 percent) and Las Vegas, Nev. (37 percent).

Gardening isn't the only home improvement these adults made in the past 12 months. Thirty-one percent of gardening homeowners made interior paint or wallpaper improvements and 15 percent made carpeting or floor covering improvements in the past 12 months. Gardening homeowners also showed their preferences for other green activities as they are 25 percent more likely than all homeowners to pay more for eco-friendly products and 25 percent more likely than all homeowners to donate money to environmental causes. Gardening homeowners are 26 percent more likely to buy locally grown food.

Thirty-seven percent of gardening homeowners who access the Internet spend 10 or more hours per week online and those who have made an online purchase in the past year spent, on average, $910. Gardening homeowners are 23 percent more likely than all Internet-enabled homeowners to shop for pet supplies on the Internet in the past 12 months, 19 percent more likely to shop for furniture online and 16 percent more likely to shop for health and beauty items online in the past 12 months. Fifty-seven percent of online gardening homeowners have engaged in social networking online in the past 12 months.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Summer Travel on the Upswing

May 8, 2012 5:16 am

Nearly one-in-five (18 percent) Americans plan to take more vacation trips this summer than last summer but are keeping value for their travel dollars top of mind, according to a national survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Choice Hotels International among 2,199 U.S. adults in April.

According to the survey, a vast majority (87 percent) of Americans indicate that they plan to take more or about the same number of trips this summer compared to what they did last year. Further, over two-in-five (42 percent) Americans report that they plan to take two or more trips this summer.

Results also indicate that a vast majority (84 percent) of Americans who will take vacations plan to travel primarily by car for at least one of their trips and plan on racking up an average of 1,172 miles on their leisure travel this summer. Americans report that they plan to take an average of two trips away from home during the summer months.

And these aren't just day trips that summer travelers are looking to take this year. Almost all (94 percent) of Americans traveling this summer plan to spend at least one night away from home and a majority (72 percent) expect to spend at least one night in a hotel. In fact, over one-third of American travelers plan to spend five nights or more in hotels during their summer vacations.

So what are travelers looking for in making their summer travel plans this year? One word: value. Nine in ten Americans that plan to travel this summer and stay in a hotel indicate that getting a good value for their money is extremely important, very important or important in their hotel selection.

Americans who will vacation this summer rank free breakfast the highest among areas where hotels can demonstrate that they provide good value for the money (75 percent). Among other areas of opportunity for hotels to provide value for the majority of summer travelers are best rate guarantees (62 percent), free parking (60 percent), and free high-speed Internet access (58 percent). Americans that plan to travel this summer feel that hotels (27 percent) deliver the greatest value for the money when compared to cruise lines (17 percent), rental cars (10 percent), airlines (9 percent), and gas stations (7 percent).

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Existing-Home Sales Decline in March but Inventory Down, Prices Stabilizing

May 7, 2012 5:16 am

Existing-home sales were down in March but continue to outpace year-ago levels, while inventory tightened and home prices are showing further signs of stabilizing, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March from an upwardly revised 4.60 million in February, but are 5.2 percent above the 4.26 million-unit pace in March 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the recovery is in the process of settling into a higher level of home sales. "The recovery is happening though not at a breakout pace, but we have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases," he said. "Existing-home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year.  With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year."

Total housing inventory at the end of March declined 1.3 percent to 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace, the same as in February.  Listed inventory is 21.8 percent below a year ago and well below the record of 4.04 million in July 2007.

Investors purchased 21 percent of homes in March, down from 23 percent in February and 22 percent in March 2011.  First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of transactions in March; they were 32 percent in February and 33 percent in March 2011.

Single-family home sales declined 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.97 million in March from 4.07 million in February, but are 5.9 percent above the 3.75 million-unit pace a year ago.  The median existing single-family home price was $163,600 in March, up 1.9 percent from March 2011.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Is Consumer Backlash Inevitable?

May 7, 2012 5:16 am

Customers have always been fickle, but never before has it been so easy for them to channel discontent into social-media campaigns with potentially disastrous consequences for companies. In The Conference Board Review cover story, "Anger Management," writer John Buchanan explores how technology has helped spur "a massive power shift," emboldening consumers to express their outrage. Still, counsels Buchanan, there's plenty that organizations can do to keep their customers from turning on them.
 
"The kind of business move that used to generate mild grumbling and then grudging acceptance," writes Buchanan, "now brings immediate denunciations, viral social-media protests, front-page headlines, and the worst fate of all: being made an example of." Buchanan highlights companies like Netflix and Verizon, which recently suffered the wrath of unhappy customers. He illustrates how and why changes in policy quickly snowballed into major PR debacles for these organizations.

It's not just bad management decisions that can spark massive consumer revolts. It's often a lack of empathy, explains Buchanan. While this is hardly a novel complaint, what's different now is the ability of consumers to connect through social media, create a firestorm, and force companies to take notice and, many times, alter policy. What might begin with one dissatisfied tweet can quickly turn into an avalanche of negative publicity for an organization.

"Companies have to realize that the business environment has changed," Buchanan writes. "But they haven't yet. And they haven't realized how intense the consumer anger is." By doing a better job of listening to their consumers, businesses might be able to avoid backlashes. For example, executives should interact more with customers, online and in the field. And companies should engage their PR departments more when making decisions that will impact consumers. Unfortunately, Buchanan points out that market research is "a discipline that has been devalued at a time when managers wrongly believe that they can grasp customer sentiments by having a summer intern monitor tweets and Facebook posts about the company's brands."

At the same time, it's not only consumers that are scrutinizing and reacting to marketing decisions. Increasingly, boards are second-guessing management and judging leaders by how well they cater to and respond to customer demands. Ultimately, the message is clear: Pay attention to your customers.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Mom Wants Most: QT

May 7, 2012 5:16 am

According to a Wakefield Research study conducted for Godiva Coffee, 87 percent of Americans (moms included) believe it's the quality of time spent with Mom, not the quantity of time, that's most important. Godiva offers a few inexpensive ways of spending QT with Mom that are bound to make her happy this Mother's Day:

Surprise her with breakfast in bed: Nothing shows your love for Mom like waking up before she does to prepare her a delicious breakfast. Just remember to clean up the kitchen afterwards.
Work yourself into her schedule for a day: Help Mom run her errands and be her chauffeur to enjoy the great conversation that comes while driving around together doing everyday things. Come with her favorite coffee ready in a to-go cup.
Stroll down memory lane: Sit down for tea and stroll down memory lane with old photo albums and/or videos. For bonus points, help Mom scan them onto a computer to share on Facebook.

Source: www.godivacoffee.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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