Local and National Real Estate News from your Doylestown PA Agent - Kim Bartells

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Study Finds Young Adults More Likely to Attend College

August 6, 2014 1:09 am

American young adults ages 18-24 are more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and less likely to smoke than previous generations, according to a report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

The study examined several key themes, including education, civic, social and personal behavior, and health and safety.

According to the report, more young adults are graduating from high school and earning college degrees today than in 2000. In addition, the report found that among Hispanics in this age group, college enrollment during this time increased from 21.7 percent to 37.5 percent, the largest increase among all racial and ethnic groups.

Among other findings:
  • The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 26 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2012. Continuing a trend since the early 1990s, females are enrolling in college in greater percentages than males.
  • Fifty-eight percent of young men and 51 percent of young women lived with their parents in 2013.
  • Like the rest of the population, young adults are less likely to vote in congressional election years than presidential election years. In the 2012 presidential election year, 38 percent of young adults voted, compared with 20 percent in the 2010 congressional election year.
  • In 2012, 20 percent of young men and 15 percent of young women smoked cigarettes, a decline for both groups. However, young White adults are still more than twice as likely to smoke as Hispanic and Blacks this age.
Source: National Institutes of Health

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Navigate Car Rental Insurance Options before Taking a Summer Trip

August 6, 2014 1:09 am

If you’re renting a car this summer, you have more choices than ever. What hasn’t changed is the importance of protecting yourself with the right type and amount of insurance.

Long gone are the days of simply renting a car by the day or week from the closest established rental car company. Now you can rent a car by the hour, from almost any location, or even use a car-sharing service to rent someone else’s personal vehicle. By law, rental companies must provide the state-required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection.

In order to make the best decision regarding your coverage, make these two calls:

Your insurance professional
If you own a car, find out how much coverage you already have. In most cases, whatever insurance and deductibles provided by your auto policy would apply to a rental car, providing you are using the car for recreation, not business. However, if you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.

Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states, diminished value is not covered by insurers.

If you do not own a car and are a frequent renter, ask about a non-owner liability policy. This would provide insurance when you either rent or borrow another person’s car.

Your credit card company

Most credit card companies provide some level of insurance for rental cars – to find out the details of what is covered, call the toll-free number on the back of the credit card you will be using to rent the car and ask them to send you coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal auto insurance policy or the coverage offered by the rental car company.

Insurance benefits differ widely by both the credit card company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. They generally do not provide personal liability coverage. Some credit card companies may provide coverage for towing, but may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees.

Car-sharing services and hourly car rental providers are not standardized when it comes to insurance coverage. Many services will include insurance coverage in the cost of the rental. Others may not. Some may also charge fees for damage to the car. Some may offer supplemental coverage. Read the insurance information on the company’s website and don’t be afraid to call the rental car company or the car-sharing company as well as your insurance professional if you have any questions.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Pick a Paint Color for Each Room in Your Home

August 6, 2014 1:09 am

It is common for homeowners to make cosmetic changes after buying a home. One of the simplest projects that has an immediate effect is a fresh paint job. Many homeowners attempt to visualize the perfect paint color in a given room, but are often left disappointed with the results. To avoid paint color remorse, keep in mind these tips before selecting a shade:

Size up the room – The size and scale of a room are important factors to consider when choosing a color. Typically, small rooms appear even smaller when painted in rich, dark tones. If you’re dead set on a dark color, paint one accent wall instead to keep the space open. Color intensifies in grander spaces, so if you select a dark color for a large room, be sure to choose the lightest shade in the palette.

Create flow – It’s also crucial that the color you choose coordinates with the other rooms throughout your home. Room colors can vary as long as there is a clear flow. Carry one color into the next room to create a sense of harmony.

Select a sheen – Gloss level depends on which look you want to achieve. Matte or flat finishes hide imperfections, but are susceptible to stains. Satin or eggshell finishes work best on smooth surfaces. Semigloss mixtures are shiny, but they are a snap to clean and stand up to everyday wear and tear.

Use sample jars – One of the easiest ways to tell if a color will look beautiful in your home is to test it out for yourself. Experiment with sample jars from your paint supplier – they’re affordable and will save you the hassle of painting again later on.

Cast different lighting
– No matter how the color appears in a can or on the swatch, your home’s lighting will alter it significantly. Fluorescent bulbs work well with cool tones (think greens and blues), whereas incandescent bulbs bring out warm hues and earth tones. Use those sample jars with different types of lighting and at various times of day.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Make Meals Better with Superfoods

August 5, 2014 12:24 am

Feeding your family with nutrient-dense foods can be as simple as making a few better-for-you choices. By definition, superfoods are calorie sparse and packed with beneficial nutrients that add health and flavor to meals. Because the human body cannot create these nourishing elements alone, the addition of these foods is essential for regular function and to defend against certain diseases and conditions.

The next time you visit the grocery store, stock up on food with these super nutrients:
  • Antioxidants: These compounds have been linked with helping memory function, reducing the signs of aging and battling diseases.
  • Calcium: This important mineral is necessary for muscle function and to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.
  • Fiber: An essential part of a healthy diet, fiber aids the body with food digestion. It has also been linked to maintaining a healthy weight, as well as a lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Protein: The human body requires protein to build and maintain skin, muscles and bones.
  • Potassium: A diet lacking this important mineral may increase the risk of high blood pressure, cancer, stroke and infertility.
  • Omega-3s: These essential fatty acids are necessary for many body functions and can also reduce the risk of arthritis.
  • Vitamin C: As an antioxidant, vitamin C can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also a popular remedy for the common cold.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Reduce Moving Stress

August 5, 2014 12:24 am

You’ve found the perfect neighborhood and the ideal new house for your family. But before you can settle in and begin making your new surroundings feel like home, you have to cross one more dreaded hurdle: moving day.

"Finding a new home is a wonderful and exciting experience, but moving can be overwhelming -juggling packing, moving essential belongings and transforming your new house into a home," said Wendy Froehlich, vice president of marketing at Homes.com.

To help movers avoid unnecessary stress and reduce property damage, keep in mind these expert tips:

Plan ahead: The key to executing a move that is both efficient and stress-free is to plan your move weeks before the actual day. A moving file and calendar are great ways to keep all of your moving information, such as your lease or mortgage contract, utility hook up, power documents and other important information in one place.

Get organized: Organize boxes for their corresponding room in your new home, sealing them with colored duct tape to color code.

Don't crack under pressure:
Keep your plates in one piece by stacking plastic foam plates in between each one, and protect glasses by putting them inside pairs of clean socks.

Vacuum seal out-of-season clothing: Don't waste time fumbling through out-of-season clothing. Not only will it take up less space and be a breeze to pack, but it can go directly into storage in the new place.

Think of the little things: Keep sandwich bags handy to hold any small items you have to take apart, such as the screws for a mounted flat-screen television or your bed frame, and tape them to the backside. Label the bags accordingly to make unpacking and reassembling furniture a breeze.

Sweet dreams: Check the mattress tag; if a mattress is more than eight years old, it has accumulated dust, dust mites and sweat that can make it practically double in weight. Avoid the hassle of moving it and arrange to get a new one delivered to your new home. If the mattress is still in its prime, use a mattress protector to transport it safely to the new home.

Green thumb: Transport plants delicately by using a Christmas tree bag to keep all of the appendages safe and prevent snapping.

Survival kit:
Make life easier when arriving at the new home by packing an easily accessible overnight bag with clothes and necessary toiletries. Don't forget to include first day essentials, such as a box cutter, paper towels, trash bags and power strips.

Source: Homes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Report Highlights Data Trends in Home Improvement

August 5, 2014 12:24 am

Preparing to buy or sell a home? Porch.com recently released a report that surveys over a half million home improvement projects, sharing the most popular online searches for home improvement professionals.

When asked which home improvement professionals they were most likely to search online before selling a home, 19 percent of homeowners searched for a general contractor in an effort to take care of projects before they list the home on the market.

Seventeen percent were more likely to search for an electrician, and 15 percent would call upon an HVAC professional. Handymen and plumbers rounded out the remaining percentages; 14 and 13 percent, respectively.

When asked which home improvement professionals were most likely searched for after buying a home, 41 percent searched for a painter. This reflects the continuing trend of new homeowners seeking to immediately tackle painting projects, both exterior and interior. Four percent searched for a home inspector, three percent an appliance installer, and two percent a roofer.

Based on survey responses, painting is the number one priority for many homeowners nationwide. In the South, painting was found to be 26 percent higher than the national average of searches, due to a generally warm and dry climate. In contrast, homeowners in the Midwest searched for landscapers. Homeowners in the Northeast were most likely to search for tree contractors.

Source: Porch.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Expert Tips for Laundry Machine Maintenance

August 4, 2014 1:18 am

Owning a washing machine and dryer can be a major convenience when it comes time to do laundry, but without regular maintenance, your machines may not be cleaning as efficiently or as thoroughly as you might think. Take these simple steps to get the most out of your washing machine and dryer.

With washing machines, check rubber water hoses for leaks or bubbles. Hoses with bubbles are prone to burst, wasting water and money. Manufacturers recommend replacing rubber hoses every two years, as the rubber can dry and crack over time.

Routinely clean the washing machine by running a wash cycle on the hottest water setting with a cup of bleach and no clothes. This will disinfect your washer and help to remove soap buildup. If your washer has a bad odor, use a product like Affresh to clean your washer and remove the odor.

Plan carefully and always wash full loads. This will decrease the number of loads required, lessening the amount of water used and extending the life of the washing machine. However, be sure not to overload the washer, as this can result in shortened life of the appliance and clothes that are not thoroughly cleaned.

With dryers, be sure to clean the lint trap after each load. While the lint trap doesn't catch all of the lint from your laundry, keeping it clear can help it catch as much lint as possible. This lessens the amount of lint that passes into the ventilation system and may block air flow.

Routinely check your dryer vent hose to be sure that it is not kinked or bent in a way that can restrict airflow. A bent air hose can limit the flow of air out of the dryer and increase the risk of lint building up in the hose. If your dryer vent hose is made of vinyl or plastic, replace with a rigid or flexible metal vent hose, as vinyl or plastic hoses can be a fire hazard.

Finally, don't overload the dryer. Using full loads can help cut down the number of loads you will do. However, overloading the dryer can restrict airflow, causing clothes to take longer to dry.

Source: Mr. Appliance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Locally Grown Foods Give Household Gardening a Boost

August 4, 2014 1:18 am

Gardening is growing as the number one hobby in America, with 5 million more households digging in and planting than in 2010, according to a recent National Gardening Survey. The edible gardening category, which includes vegetable gardening, herb gardening, fruit trees and growing berries, recently hit a six-year high in both participation and spending.

Looking to source locally grown food straight from their backyards, nearly 80 percent of gardeners aged 18-30 purchase vegetables to grow, according to the 2014 Home Garden Panel by Metrolina Greenhouses, the nation’s largest greenhouse.

Growing berries emerges as the most popular trend in edibles, likely due to the reported health benefits of antioxidant-rich foods.

Regardless of age, gardeners grow edibles for the pride of harvesting their own fresh produce, to experience the growing process and to share. Almost two-thirds report plans to share their harvest with family, friends or neighbors, lending to the growing trend of community gardening.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Pet Insurance: Worth the Cost?

August 4, 2014 1:18 am

The pet insurance industry, which has grown exponentially since TV star Lassie was first insured in the 1980s, offers more options to pet owners today than ever before – at rates that vary widely. For owners who consider Fido or Cuddles part of the family, the question is: is insuring them worth the cost?

As with life insurance for humans, the younger an animal is when covered, the cheaper the premium will be. Beyond that, say researchers at PetRX.com, pet owners need to weigh the pros and cons of insurance to decide what’s right for them.

The Pros:
  • Advances in veterinary medicine make it possible to treat pets with new surgical techniques, chemotherapy and other therapies that help prolong life. But it is expensive, and insurance can make it affordable.
  • Coverage can be customized with varying deductible amounts, accident-only options and other choices that impact the amount of the premium you pay.
  • There are more pet insurance companies than ever to choose from, making it easier to select the exact coverage and riders you want – such as dental care or prescription-only.
The Cons:
  • Because cost is not an issue, an emotional owner may agree to treatments that may prolong the pet’s life for only a short time – and with questionable quality of life.
  • You need to examine the fine print of your policy, as some pets may turn out to be uninsurable due to age or certain applicable exclusions, such as conditions that are considered common to a particular breed.
  • Studies show you are likely to pay out more in premiums than you will ever get back in service. According to Consumer’s Report, owners might be better off to skip insuranc premiums and put money aside in a special savings account to be used in the event of a pet emergency.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Set the Mood for Summer at Home

August 1, 2014 1:15 am

(Family Features) Creating a happy, energized home during the warmer months starts with getting organized. Set the mood for summer with these fun, simple and creative tips:

Get “chore-ganized.”
Before heading off to bed, take a few minutes to do basic prep work for the next day: slicing fruit for breakfast, portioning out sandwich meat for lunch, laying out clothes for the next day. Finish up by swiping counters for a clean slate in the morning. Taking care of a few chores the night before provides a few extra minutes to spend with the kids or relax over coffee before the start of a new day, which will give your mood a much-needed boost.

Cut down chore time.
Improve your mood by checking laundry off your to-do list. Streamline the process by clearing up clutter and creating plenty of open room for sorting and folding. Put all of your laundry-related items on shelves within reaching distance of the washer and dryer. A mounted ironing board is perfect for smaller spaces – you can keep it out of the way, yet easily accessible.

Elevate the ambiance.
Sensory triggers can affect your mood in positive way. Create a relaxing environment with lamps, dimmer switches and candles. Choose light bulbs that mimic natural light. Consider hanging a fixture in the center of the room and additional smaller lights around the periphery to create a wash of warm, beautiful light and eliminate any dark, shadowy spots.

Source: Snuggle

Published with permission from RISMedia.