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

Rebuilding Your Rocky Credit Score One Piece at a Time

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

A credit score is mainly based on your history of managing debts, such as whether you tend to make payments on time. It plays a significant role in your everyday life because the next time you apply for a loan or a credit card—or perhaps a new apartment or insurance—your score could affect the final decision, including your costs.

For the many consumers with damaged credit scores and those with no credit record, here are some ways to improve your credit scores from the FDIC:

Consult with a reputable credit counseling service to help develop a customized plan to improve your credit score, which can help you prioritize your spending choices. Counseling services are available to help consumers budget money, pay bills and develop a plan to improve their credit histories.

Bear in mind, however, that not all counselors are looking out for the consumer's best interests. Be cautious of counseling services that advise you to stop making payments to your creditors or to make your payments to the counselors instead. These programs can be costly, may result in your credit score becoming even worse, and they could be scams. For suggestions on finding a reputable counseling service, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at FTC.gov.

Understand what information is most likely to influence your credit score. In general, the most significant factor affecting your score is whether you repay debts on time, and how much you currently owe on each account compared to its original loan amount or credit limit.

Additional factors include how long you have had your current loans and credit cards, and the types of credit accounts you have.

To obtain and review a free copy of your credit report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

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7 Easy Ways to Dress Up an Entryway

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

The entryway or foyer of your home conveys an important first impression to your guests. For homeowners bent on making it a great first impression, designers at ElleDecor.com suggest seven easy ways to make an entryway look larger, brighter, and more welcoming:

Use the Power of Mirrors – A well-placed mirror can instantly open up a space and add a luxurious feel. Splurge on a good one, framed or not as you wish, to grace your entryway for the long haul.

Keep Fresh Flowers on Hand – Nothing freshens up a room quite like a vase full of fresh flowers. They are aesthetically pleasing and will keep your entryway smelling wonderful. Using long-lasting silk flowers will hold down monthly costs, but think about replacing them with fresh flowers before a dinner party or other event.

Play with Patterns and Colors – Your entryway should reflect your personal style. Add a jolt of color, especially in a light, bright foyer, or bring in an unexpected wallpaper pattern to turn the space into something special.

Rethink the Lighting Fixtures – Swap out the lighting fixtures that came with the house for something you really love. The right overhead chandelier or well-detailed wall sconces can add drama and grace to any entry.

Add a Statement Piece – It may be a patterned rug, a tufted bench, a console table or a pair of smaller tables. There should be some element in your entryway that serves as a centerpiece and sets the tone for the rest of your home.

Do Use Some Artwork – Art brings a level of elegance to a room. A well placed piece of art, or a gallery wall of smaller pieces, can be the perfect finishing touch for an entryway that reflects your taste and style.

Don’t Overcrowd the Space – If you're blessed with an entryway big enough for several pieces of furniture, by all means, go for it. But if the area is on the small side, skip the console table because the area will look better with just a few small pieces. A plant stand and a mirror may be all that is needed to dress up a small entry.

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How to Properly Store the American Flag

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

Aging flags often become heirlooms and keepsakes that need to be stored carefully, says Richard R. Gideon, a flag historian. “There is a pretty large body of flag collectors out there,” he says.

The fabric used to make flags often becomes fragile over time. The key to successful storage is finding a place where your flag won’t be exposed to dirt or damaging ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light.If you don’t have a storage room in your home.

If you don’t have storage room in your home, a self-storage unit can be an ideal place to keep a special flag. Here are four tips on how to properly store the American flag.

1. Keep Dust and Dirt Off Your Flag. If your flag is dirty, avoid dry-cleaning it. Before you put a flag into storage, Gideon recommends cleaning it with a low-pressure vacuum and covering it with acid-free paper, which can be found at art supply stores. If your flag needs additional cleaning, Gideon suggests asking a local museum to refer you to an expert in textile conservation.

2. Keep Your Flag in a Dark Place. Never store a flag where it can be exposed to sunlight, says Philip Kauppinen, owner of Grand New Flag. Like a color photograph left in the sun, your flag gradually will begin to fade.

“If it is very old, it is going to be delicate,” he says. “You don’t want to store it in direct sunlight, because that will make it fade and brittle.”

For long-term storage, experts do not recommend folding an American flag.

3. Store Your Flag Flat. There’s a military tradition of folding American flags in the shape of a triangle, with the stars on the outside, but that’s not part of the Flag Code adopted by Congress, according to Gideon. “That is a military tradition,” he says.

On its website, Heritage Preservation, a public policy group, points out that prolonged storage in a folded condition leads to permanent creases in flags.

If you’re using a self-storage unit that is too crowded to accommodate a flat table, carefully roll the flag around a mailing tube that’s been wrapped in acid-free paper.

4. Avoid Swings in Temperature and Humidity. This means keeping flags out of attics, where summer temperatures can soar, or basements, where mold may occur, unless those rooms are temperature-controlled.

If you decide to put your flag in a self-storage unit, choose one with air conditioning and humidity control.

Choose a temperature range that would be comfortable for living conditions. Regardless of their materials, flags do best at 55 percent to 75 percent relative humidity, Gideon says.

5. Respect the Flag. Handing a flag requires proper etiquette.Tom Piazze, first vice president of the Military Officers Association of America, says you should always show respect for an American flag, even when it is in storage. The flag is a symbol of America’s courage, strength and compassion, he says, and it also has come to symbolize democracy.

“The U.S. flag is an emblem of our nation, our country,” Piazze says. “It represents our beliefs, our way of life around the world.”

Here are some guidelines for handling a U.S. flag:

- The flag should never be used as a drapery or as a decoration.

- The flag should not bear any drawing, mark, insignia, word, number or figure.

- The flag should not touch the ground.

- Never throw away a U.S. flag. The flag should be destroyed by burning it in a dignified manner. Contact your local American Legion, VFW or Boy Scout chapter for information about flag retirement ceremonies.

Source: SpareFoot.com

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Memorial Day Travelers Approach 40 Million

May 27, 2016 12:57 am

On the road this Memorial Day weekend? You and millions more!

A near record-breaking 38 million travelers will trek to destinations all over the country this weekend, AAA projects—the highest travel volume since before the recession, and the second-highest ever. The top five destinations this year are:

1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
3. Washington, D.C.
4. New York, N.Y.
5. Miami, Fla.

Low gas prices will motivate many travelers to take to the roads this weekend, AAA forecasts. A gallon of gasoline averages $2.26—45 cents lower than last year.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” says Marshall Doney, president and CEO of AAA. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”

Source: AAA

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The Future Is Calling! Homebuilding Innovations to Watch

May 27, 2016 12:57 am

(BPT)—Technology’s evolving at a rapid pace, no more so than in our homes—and in fact, there are innovations pioneering the next phase of advanced homebuilding as we speak. Three of the most exciting:

Bio Concrete – Concrete is the world’s most common building material—but that doesn’t mean it’s the most durable. Chemicals, shifting Earth, temperature fluctuations and weather-related wear and tear all contribute to cracks and deterioration.

Several years ago, scientists in the Netherlands developed bio concrete, a type of concrete that can repair itself if cracked. The material is laden with limestone-creating bacteria that work to "heal" cracks, similar to the way bones heal themselves when broken.

Cross-Laminated Timber – An alternative to concrete, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is produced from small bits of timber glued into large slabs. CLT is as strong (and fireproof!) as steel. It is cut via a robotic router, which shapes the slabs based on dimensions fed to it by a computer. The pieces are then assembled much like IKEA furniture, cutting down construction time significantly.

Sound-Dampening Drywall – In a household where several devices may be running at any given moment, finding quiet can be a challenge. A new development in drywall reduces noise between rooms, blocking the amount of sound carried through walls and ceilings.

Which innovation are you most excited about? These may become the norm sooner than you think!

Source: CertainTeed

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VA Loans: What They Are and How They Work

May 27, 2016 12:57 am

Most active-duty service members and veterans and some National Guard members and reservists can seek out home-related loans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VA home loan programs may be used to finance the purchase of homes, condominiums or manufactured homes, refinance an existing home loan, or install energy-saving improvements. The three main types of guaranteed home loan benefits are:

• Purchase Loans
• Cash-Out Refinance Loans
• Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans

Qualified vets need suitable credit, sufficient income and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. Private lenders underwrite and fund VA home loans according to VA standards. VA’s partial guaranty for these loans means that nearly 90 percent of all VA-guaranteed home loans are made with no down payment required.

If a VA-guaranteed loan becomes delinquent, the VA will work with the borrower to avoid foreclosure, including providing financial counseling and, in some cases, direct intervention with a mortgage loan servicer on the borrower’s behalf.

Any veteran or service member having difficulty making mortgage payments should call (877) 827-3702 to speak with a VA Loan Technician. More information about avoiding foreclosure can be found at: benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/resources_payments.asp.

Native American veterans who want to live on Federal Trust land can seek assistance through the VA’s Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program, which provides direct loans to eligible Native American veterans for the purchase, construction or improvement of a home.

The VA also offers grants to veterans with certain service-connected disabilities to build an adapted home or make modifications to an existing home. Three types of grants exist: Specially Adapted Housing, Special Housing Adaptation, and Temporary Residence Adaptation.

Homeless veterans, or those at imminent risk of becoming homeless, are urged to contact their local VA medical center, call (877) 424-3838, or visit va.gov/homeless.

Consult your real estate professional to learn more about the VA’s home-related services, or visit explore.va.gov/home-loans-and-housing.

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Wanderlust: 10 of the Most Beautiful Places in the World

May 26, 2016 12:57 am

Got the travel bug? Hop on a plane overseas to (or just daydream about!) these beautiful places, recently rounded up by Harper’s Bazaar:

Amalfi Coast – Hugging the coast through a succession of idyllic small towns like Positano, this eye-opening seaside escape in Italy offers postcard views at every turn.

Bora Bora – With its turquoise lagoons, coral reefs and overwater bungalows, this French Polynesian island is heaven on Earth.

Fiordland National Park – In early winter, fields of purple bloom across this park on the South Island of New Zealand, home to the breathtaking Milford Sound.

The Forbidden City – One of the most beautifully-preserved examples of ancient Chinese architecture, The Forbidden City in Beijing has served as the imperial palace for five centuries.

Japan (in Cherry Blossom Season) – Cherry blossoms steal the scene during blooming season, making it an ideal time to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

Krabi – A popular beach destination on the west coast of southern Thailand, Krabi is dotted with limestone cliffs and hundreds of islands just offshore in the Andaman Sea.

Marrakesh – Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Marrakesh has changed little since the Middle Ages. Wander through maze-like alleyways and discover the city's souks, palaces and gardens.

Oia, Santorini – The hillside town at the far tip of Santorini in Greece boasts brilliant sunsets, accommodations built into the cliffs, and magnificent views of the Aegean sea.

Tamil Nadu – This southern India state is home to most of the country's major Hindu temples, including the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and the Meenakshi Temple Complex.

Torres del Paine National Park – Truly off the grid, this park in the Patagonia region of Chile features jaw-dropping mountain views from every angle.

Which of these locales makes your list?

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Barbecuing This Weekend? 5 Food Safety Tips

May 26, 2016 12:57 am

‘Tis the season for eating out—doors, that is!

If you’re hosting a backyard soirée this summer, make food safety a priority when planning the meal. Seasonal temperatures can accelerate the growth of foodborne bacteria, compromising the safety of you and your guests, cautions the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“From picnics to cookouts, eating outside is a fun and tasty way to enjoy the warmer weather,” says Torey Armul, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy. “Be sure to follow proper food safety practices every step of the way to keep unwanted bacteria from crashing your party.”

These practices include:

• Washing Your Hands – Wash your hands before and after handling any foods. “Bring along hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol in case water is not available,” Armul says. “Remember to regularly clean your cooler, picnic basket and tote bags, because these items can be a breeding ground for bacteria.”

• Separating Raw from Ready-to-Eat – If you plan to cook food on-site, separate raw meats, poultry and seafood from other ready-to-eat foods. “Use one cooler for raw meats and another one for ready-to-eat foods, such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and desserts,” says Armul. “Bring two sets of plates and utensils: one for handling raw meats and one for serving cooked foods.”

• Using a Thermometer – Have a food thermometer on hand when cooking—all food must be cooked to a safe internal temperature, and a food thermometer is the only way to ensure it has reached this temperature. Download the Is My Food Safe? mobile app, found at eatrightstore.org, for a complete list of cooking temperatures.

• Keeping Perishables Cold – Keep perishables in a cooler packed with frozen water bottles and juice boxes. Stow the cooler in the shade and with the lid closed. “Pack a thermometer in the cooler to ensure it remains at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below,” Armul adds.

• Tossing After Two Hours – At the end of your gathering, throw out all perishable food that has been unrefrigerated for more than two hours (or only one hour, if the outdoor temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit). The clock starts as soon as your food is served.

These tips come courtesy of the Home Food Safety program, a ConAgra Foods’ campaign in partnership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To learn more food safety practices, visit HomeFoodSafety.org.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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Market Watch: 10 Up-and-Coming Tech Hubs

May 26, 2016 12:57 am

The tech field is booming—and so are tech cities.

Cities best suited for technology professionals boast high average earnings and steady employment in the sector. These factors, plus home prices, were recently analyzed in Homes.com’s New Tech City Index, ranking the top emerging tech cities in the country.

The 10 best, according to the Index, are:

1. Denver, Colo.
2. Framingham, Mass.
3. Oakland, Calif.
4. Atlanta, Ga.
5. Boston, Mass.
6. Austin, Texas
7. Santa Ana, Calif.
8. Baltimore, Md.
9. Durham, N.C.
10. Boulder, Colo.

Denver’s house prices have shot up over 40 percent in the last five years, cementing its place at No. 1, while Framingham, though less populated, is home to some of the nation’s most well-known—and well-paying—tech companies. Oakland’s proximity to tech centers like San Francisco and San Jose make it ideal for tech professionals, as well.

“Many areas exist outside of the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest where tech folks can find both their dream job and the home of their dreams,” says Grant Simmons, VP at Homes.com. “Cities like Denver not only offer tech-focused career opportunities, but also more bang for their housing buck, great schools and lifestyle options that suit both small-town and big-city appetites.”

Source: Homes.com

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Know Your Power Options When Hurricanes Hit

May 25, 2016 12:57 am

June 1 to November 30 is high time for hurricanes in many coastal regions. Stay ahead of whatever the season may bring by preparing your household with a communication plan and emergency kit, as well as assessing your home’s power needs.

“Being prepared going into hurricane season is the best way to stay safe and comfortable should a storm of any size result in a power outage,” says Dan Roche of Briggs & Stratton. “Having backup power is one way homeowners can comfortably ride out the effects of that storm from the comforts of home until utility crews can restore electricity.”

Two backup power options— portable generators and standby generator systems—prevent power interruption to a home.

These two types of generators help in different ways. Portable generators are ideal for those needing to power select appliances during an outage, or those who anticipate needing to power tools to clear away storm debris. Some portable generators can even be attached to a transfer switch coupled with step-by-step startup, shutdown and storage instructions.

Portable generators, however, present risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. As such, they must be used appropriately at all times. For safety tips, visit www.TakeYourGeneratorOutside.com.

Standby generators, on the other hand, are permanently installed outside the home and automatically keep the power on when the primary power source goes out. Fueled by propane or natural gas, standbys run appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, washers and dryers.

Standby generators require a professional install, so be sure to call a technician well in advance of a storm if you’re planning to use one.

Source: Briggs & Stratton Corporation

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