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

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Hurricane Mid-Season Reminder: Check In on Insurance

September 9, 2016 12:45 am


Hurricane season presents insurance considerations for homeowners in many areas of the country. Midway through the season is an ideal time to check in with your insurance provider regarding coverage, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“This is the midpoint of the season, and it's vital to remain vigilant,” says Lynne McChristian, a representative for the I.I.I. “If it's been a year since you last talked to your insurance professional about your coverage and options, then have the conversation now while you still have time to make changes.”

According to the I.I.I., many insurers, especially in Florida, will not permit changes to policies once a hurricane warning or watch is in effect. As such, it’s essential to consult with your provider before a storm strikes, if only to confirm you’re covered.

The I.I.I. recommends updating your policy if you’ve made improvements to or remodeled your home, or if you’ve obtained new belongings. Ensure your policy provides coverage not only to rebuild your home in the event of disaster, but also to replace your possessions.

“Ask about additional coverage you should consider,” McChristian says. “For example, does your policy cover sewer backup? If your home is more than five years old, you may also need building ordinance and law coverage, which covers the added costs to rebuild a damaged home up to the improved, latest building codes.”

Updating your home inventory, which is a list of your possessions and their value, can also be beneficial should you need to file a claim. According to the I.I.I., doing this not only hastens the claim process, but also makes filing for federal disaster aid simpler. A free home inventory app is available at KnowYourStuff.org.

Consider flood insurance, as well, the I.I.I. suggests. (More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to those living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones.) Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through a private insurer.

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Macro Trends in Home Design

September 9, 2016 12:45 am


From health-centric workplaces to socially-connected shops, macro trends inform design in industries across the board. Macro trends in the home, however, have higher staying power.

The macro trends currently shaping the design in our homes are the “country chic/farmhouse,” “glamour/Hollywood regency,” “gold,” “industrial” and “mid-century modern” aesthetics, says Ted Roberts, manager of Industrial Design for Schlage®. Roberts, who ascertains trends through industry events and tradeshows, believes these movements are going nowhere soon.

“While home trends tend to stay relevant longer, with homeowners updating decor about every five years, our team is continually monitoring art and fashion trends to inform home decor,” Roberts says.

The country chic/farmhouse aesthetic, according to Roberts, has evolved from being rooted in dark-toned woods to supporting lighter wood finishes. Often, it overlaps with industrial-style products, such as exposed plumbing and light fixtures. The industrial trend, conversely, has transitioned from an all-encompassing theme to well-appointed accessories, like Edison bulbs and pulleys.

The hallmark of the glamour/Hollywood regency aesthetic, on the other hand, is geometric designs, seen in accent pieces, lighting and small furniture, Roberts explains. The trend has moved from clean, drastic contrast to black-and-gold and softer grays, with Art Deco elements.

The gold component in the glamour/Hollywood regency trend is echoed in the gold and satin brass finishes now standard in new home design, Roberts adds. The patina is now being paired with whites and tans, rather than dark shades.

The mid-century modern take, too, is as popular as ever. The aesthetic’s color palette, which conventionally popped with oranges and yellows, is now brimming with blacks, blues and grays. The trend, Roberts says, is one of the most of-the-moment designs, and will continue to be more so than any other macro trend.

Do these macro trends make an appearance in your home?

Source: Schlage®

 

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With Age Comes…Nevermind: Millennial Outlook 'Positive,' but 'Realistic'

September 8, 2016 1:12 am


Millennials expect healthy financial prospects, but hold no illusions for the long-term—a “positive,” “realistic” outlook atypical of their age, according to the recently released Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress Study. The majority of millennials in the study were confident they will achieve their financial goals, though some expressed concern about retirement.

“It’s encouraging to see that millennials are striking a balance between being realistic about the implications of extended longevity and remaining positive about building a solid financial future,” says Rebekah Barsch, vice president of Planning for Northwestern Mutual.

Notably, the millennials in the study were more likely than any other generation to recognize a lack of planning as a hindrance to security in retirement, and many believed the availability of Social Security is “not at all likely.”

Most considered themselves “highly disciplined” financial planners, even though slim wages and student loan debt were causes for concern. The former, the study found, has a negative impact on their career goals.

“The early stages of a career can be rewarding in many ways, but not necessarily financially,” says Barsch. “With the right financial plan in place, millennials can alleviate some of the pressure and feel confident about pursuing their career aspirations, rather than just a paycheck.”

Just one in five of the millennials included in the study had a financial advisor.

The takeaway? Millennials maintain a financial disposition that belies their years: a rosy outlook tempered by faith in the economy, and foresight.

Source: Northwestern Mutual
 

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The Best Time for Deals on Patio Gear Is…Now!

September 8, 2016 1:12 am


We’re all familiar with annual end-of-season sales on patio equipment and furniture—but when, really, is the best window for savings?

For the answer, I turned to coupon clearinghouse LOZO.com, which finds reliable grocery coupons from hundreds of trustworthy brands and websites. (You may have seen reporting on them on Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show or TLC's Extreme Couponing.)

LOZO.com points out that with fall and the holiday season approaching, the closer retailers get to their seasonal inventory change-over, the greater the discounts—that's why you can count on end-of-season sales for just about every seasonal item.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are particularly eager to move patio furniture, because it’s big, bulky, and takes up valuable store space. Unlike some seasonal items that gradually progress through sales (25 percent off, 40 percent off, 50 percent off, and so on), patio furniture quickly discounts.

According to LOZO.com, the best course of action is to carefully track the store(s) you might buy from and check stock and discounts. Don’t hesitate to ask a salesperson for details on how much inventory is still available, when it will be discounted, and for how much. Check back regularly to see if the sales have gotten any sweeter—LOZO.com recommends springing for the patio purchase when it reaches 75 percent off or more.

For more guidance on savings for your household, visit LOZO.com.
 

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Is a Fixer-Upper Worth It?

September 8, 2016 1:12 am


Fixer-upper homes tend to be less expensive than top-to-bottom remodels, but the markdown may not equal the cost of a basic renovation, according to a recently released report by Zillow Digs®. The report’s findings show median fixer-uppers list for 8 percent less than market value, which allows for a reno budget of just $11,000.

“Fixer-uppers can be a great deal, and they allow buyers to incorporate their personal style into a home while renovating, but it’s still a good idea to do the math before making the leap,” explains Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. “While an 8-percent discount or $11,000 in upfront savings on a fixer-upper is certainly a good chunk of change, it likely won’t be enough to cover a kitchen remodel, let alone structural updates like a new roof or plumbing, which many of these properties require.”

The margins vary by market, with fixers in more expensive areas yielding the highest upfront savings—prices for median fixers in San Francisco, according to the report, are marked down 10 percent, which, due to high property values, affords buyers $54,000 for renovations.

Fixer-upper market snapshots included in the report:

New York/Northern New Jersey
Markdown: 4.4 percent
Reno Breakeven: $12,000

Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, Calif.
Markdown: 2.7 percent
Reno Breakeven: $12,000

Chicago, Ill.
Markdown: 13.8 percent
Reno Breakeven: $19,000

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Markdown: 5.4 percent
Reno Breakeven: $6,000

Philadelphia, Pa.
Markdown: 13.7 percent
Reno Breakeven: $17,000

Is a fixer-upper worth it? As Gudell notes, it’s best to do the math—and discuss your options with your real estate professional.

Source: Zillow Digs®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Eyewear Safety: 'In Sight' from Regulators

September 7, 2016 12:06 am


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report cautioning against improper use of eyewear, specifically contact lenses. Improper care, however, can also be detrimental, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cleaning your contact lenses properly is crucial to maintaining optimal eye health—but lens wearers who use over-the-counter cleaning solutions containing hydrogen peroxide may be at risk for vision damage, the FDA warns. Safe handling of these types of solutions is essential.

“Over-the-counter products are not all the same,” says Bernard P. Lepri, an FDA optometrist. Before using a product, it is best to consult with your eye care provider, he advises—he or she may recommend a hydrogen peroxide-containing cleaning solution if you have an allergy or sensitivity to preservatives found in other types of solutions.

If you have been instructed to use a hydrogen peroxide-containing product, read and understand all instructions and warnings (typically in red boxes on the label) before use. The FDA mandates you follow the disinfecting process with a neutralizer, which is included with the product at purchase. A neutralizer will convert the hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.

Neutralization can be one-step or two-step: the one-step process involves neutralizing your lenses while disinfecting; the two-step process involves neutralizing your lenses after disinfecting with a tablet. Lenses should be left in the solution for at least six hours to allow time for neutralization to complete.

“You should never put hydrogen peroxide directly into your eyes or on your contact lenses,” Lepri cautions. “That's because this kind of solution can cause stinging, burning and damage—specifically to your cornea.”

It is paramount not to share a product that contains hydrogen peroxide with other contact lens wearers, either, the FDA states.

To learn more about lens safety, visit www.FDA.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm487420.htm.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
 

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Moving? 5 Tips to Relocate the Garden

September 7, 2016 12:06 am


Moving itself is strenuous—moving fragile belongings, like plants, can be even more challenging.

Relocate the garden with these tips, courtesy of Ferguson Moving & Storage:

• Prepare plants for the move with a liberal dose of water. Damp roots and moist soil will help keep them thriving while being transported, and watered stems will hold up better during the move.

• Plant smaller flowers and shrubs in lightweight, temporary pots—this will make them easier to re-plant at the new home.

• Reduce the weight of heavy planters during the move by partially filling them with packing peanuts.

• Pack plants in the primary vehicle, if possible—not a moving truck or van.  If they must be packed in the truck, load them last so that they can be removed and tended to upon arrival.

• Make the moving company aware of the plants (to mitigate erratic driving) and request that they be unloaded as soon as possible at the new home.

Source: Ferguson Moving & Storage
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


New School Year, New Paint Job

September 7, 2016 12:06 am


Painting inside your home can be a challenge in summer, especially if you’re a parent with children home from school. Back-to-school season is a better time for do-it-yourself paint projects, says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert with the Paint Quality Institute.

“With kids out of the house, interior painting is several grades easier, and with proper planning, you can ace the job in record time,” Zimmer says.

Her tips for parent painters:

Plan a palette. Start by picking up color cards at your local paint store. Bring them home and gauge them against your decor to plan a cohesive palette.

Buy smart. Purchase 100-percent acrylic latex paint in a glossy finish, which is easy to maintain—ideal when cleaning up child messes.

Prep the room. Slide furniture away from the walls and cover it with protective tarps. Fill any holes or patch any nicks on the walls, and wipe them down once finished. Remove any switch plates or outlet covers. Apply painter’s tape to protect the ceiling, the floor and any woodwork.

Cut in. Use an angled trim brush to “cut in” the edges of the wall—applying a three-inch strip of paint where the walls meet the ceiling, doors, molding and/or windows.

Work the “W.” Use a roller to cover the wall in three-foot by three-foot sections, working from one side of the wall to the other. Roll out the paint in a “W” pattern, then fill in the pattern and move on to the next section. Be sure to finish an entire wall before taking a break—a line may be visible otherwise.

Trim last. Wait until the next day to paint any trim—this will allow ample time for the walls to dry. Using a two-inch angled brush, work from top to bottom (e.g., crown molding to window trim to baseboards) when painting.

For more painting tips and tricks, visit blog.paintquality.com.

Source: Paint Quality Institute
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Best Plants for Fall

September 6, 2016 12:30 am


Spring may be known as a prime time for planting, but fall is equally optimal.

“Autumn is the perfect time to assess landscaping needs and fill any gaps that exist in your landscape,” says Natalia Hamill, a horticulturist at Bailey Nurseries. “While you're at it, you can add plants that provide a pop of color—like a throw pillow for your garden.”

Hamill says a variety of plants, including shrubs and trees, can be planted during fall, and many will bloom come springtime.

It is important to determine where and what your landscape is lacking, Hamill says. Consider, too, the climate in your area—different plants react in varied ways to temperature swings. Hamill recommends consulting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map and adjusting your plan of action, if necessary.

The best plants for fall, according to Hamill, are:

Birchleaf Spirea – The Pink Sparkler variety shows exquisite pink blooms in early summer and fall—though fall flowers re-emerge further down the stem for a full appearance.

Dogwood – The Cayenne variety produces blue berries in late summer, along with lush green leaves, followed by rave red stems through fall and winter.

Hydrangea – The BloomStruck variety turns deep red in fall, complementing the seasonal change of the trees.

Maple – The Scarlet Jewell variety shows crimson red leaves in early fall, before those of other red maples, and rave red flowers in spring.

Ninebark – The Amber Jubilee variety shows golden orange and yellow hues, ideal for fall, followed by delicate white blooms come spring.

Source: Bailey Nurseries
 

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Home Design Leans Toward Balance, Color

September 6, 2016 12:30 am


As borders continue to blur between home and work, there is a strong desire to bring nature—and, therefore, balance—into our homes.

Milou Ket, a Dutch designer and international trend analyst, expects interior design to shift with that in mind, forecasting more homes filled with natural elements including greenery, hanging plants and herbs.

To incorporate nature-inspired decor and lend balance to your home, Ket recommends introducing aged or worn furnishings, along with personal treasures. Warm textures are also ideal—fur, cork, hides, paper, shearling or wood. Top color choices include beige, gray, off-white and yellow, with accents of copper, gold and walnut.

Another trend to watch, Ket says, is “handicraft” accents, influenced by designs common to North Africa, the Middle East and other regions. Mix in handcrafted pieces, such as baskets and vegetable-dyed products, in shades like amber, brick, mustard and indigo.

Feelings of softness and warmth are also coveted at home, and current design trends are evocative of both, Ket adds. Place fine linens in a bedroom, for instance, or tactile materials, such as handmade crochet or knits, in the living room. Top color choices include blue, lavender, mint, rose and turquoise.

Color is as important as ever, as well, Ket says. Vibrant colors were everywhere a few seasons ago, but now, brightness in doses is best. Add a splash of color, such as cobalt blue, with pillows or on a single chair or sofa.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.