RE/MAX 440
Tom Loughridge
Tom Loughridge
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie  PA 18944
PH: 215-453-0913
O: 215-453-7653
C: 267-716-0920
F: 267-354-6868 
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My Blog

Are You Using Your Credit Card Responsibly?

October 23, 2015 12:46 am

There are several myths surrounding the use of credit cards – in fact, the majority of credit card users surveyed recently by CompareCards wrongly believe they use their cards responsibly.

"Even though more than half of respondents don't fully pay off their credit cards on a monthly basis, they believe they are using them responsibly," says Chris Mettler, founder of CompareCards. "This is concerning, as it reveals that many consumers may not be aware of just how much their spending habits impact their credit and long-term debt."

The results of the survey indicate credit card users vary in how often they fully pay their monthly credit card bill – just 35 percent always pay in full. The survey also found nearly a third of respondents have four or more credit card cards, and an equal amount use their credit cards very often for purchases.

Additionally, over 20 percent of respondents have $5,000 or more in total debt.

Credit card habits affect a person’s credit score, which can determine whether he or she qualifies for a loan to purchase a home, among other decisions.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


HVAC Testing Necessary for Off-Season Homebuyers

October 23, 2015 12:46 am

Did you know colder climates can make it harder to determine the functionality of a home’s systems? If you’re purchasing a home at a time when temperatures are falling, it’s important to enlist the services of a seasoned home inspector, says the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA), especially when assessing the HVAC system.

When temperatures fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a home inspection report can only verify that a unit will turn on, not if it actually cools. In winter, the coldest spot in a refrigeration circuit is in the compressor crankcase, located outside the home. Because refrigerant naturally migrates to the coldest spot in the unit, if the system is tested, the refrigerant may travel into the compressor, causing damage.

Ensure your home inspector pays special attention to the testing of the HVAC unit, and request the seller provide a home service contract as part of the transaction to help insulate yourself from costly repairs or replacements for undetected problems. In addition to HVAC systems, home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for items such as dishwashers, ovens, disposers, and electrical and plumbing systems, but do not cover pre-existing conditions. Paying particular attention to the contract’s terms and conditions can help avoid confusion when a service call is needed.

To offer reassurance that the system is operating properly, real estate agents representing the buyer will generally ask the seller to sign a form stating the date of the last time the air conditioning system was fully functioning. If a home has been on the market for an extended period of time, however, this statement may not provide accurate information on the current condition of the unit.

“If a house has been sitting empty and an undetected leak has slowly depleted the refrigerant, the new owner will have no idea until they turn the air conditioning on in the summer,” says Jeff Powell, NHSCA chairman. “At that point, a service call to get the refrigerant level back up and the unit running will likely cost upwards of $250 to $300. They also need to understand that low levels would indicate a leak in the line that will continue to deplete refrigerant until it is located and fixed. That translates into more repair dollars for the homeowner.”

In the past, some homeowners have opted for a temporary fix by simply having refrigerant added to their systems to keep them operational. However, a dramatic increase in the cost of refrigerant can make this approach as costly as a repair.

Source: NHSCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Mortgage Rates Trend Downward

October 23, 2015 12:46 am

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), average fixed mortgage rates have followed Treasury yields lower, further benefitting the housing market. The survey finds the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaging 3.79 percent and the 15-year FRM averaging 2.98 percent.

"Following Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo's remarks last week Treasury yields dipped,” explains Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “In response, 30-year mortgage rates fell three basis points this week to 3.79 percent. The housing market continues to benefit from low mortgage rates, with housing starts for September beating expectations and the NAHB's Housing Market index registering a ten year-high in October."

The PMMS also shows the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averages 2.89 percent, and the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averages 2.62 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Dish on Food Trends in 2016

October 22, 2015 2:43 am

As culinary options continue to expand in availability, more consumers are embracing nontraditional foods when browsing restaurant menus or shopping grocery aisles. In the year ahead, specific food trends will grow even more in popularity, according to Sterling-Rice Group (SRG)’s 2016 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends report. What trends will you try?

Mail-Order Meals – Established meal kit providers will give way to smaller start-ups that tap niche cuisines and dietary trends.

Switchels – Sweetened with honey, maple or molasses, this Colonial refresher boasts dual health benefits from its apple cider vinegar and ginger components.

Labneh – Salted and thick, this Middle Eastern-style yogurt-cheese plays well with olive oil, spices, seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Bottled Soups – With more fiber and less sugar than pressed juices, swig-able soups pack nutrients and flavor in a convenient bottled package.

Porridge – A classic, hearty dish, porridge can be prepared with a wide selection of grains, including rye, spelt, black rice or quinoa.

Source: Sterling-Rice Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips for Generator Use in Winter

October 22, 2015 2:43 am

With winter projected to bring unseasonably cold temperatures across much of the United States, homeowners should prepare now for possible power outages by inspecting and tuning up portable generators.

"Don't wait until it is zero degrees and the power goes out," says Dan Roche, director of marketing for Briggs & Stratton's Portable Power and Cleaning Systems division. "Because portable generators are not typically used unless the electricity goes off, it is important that users inspect, tune up and are prepared to safely use their generator before a power outage occurs."

To ensure your portable generator is operating efficiently, Briggs & Stratton recommends:

1. Thinking about fuel. If you have your generator in storage and do not plan to use it within 30 days, stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer. Add the stabilizer according to package directions and run your generator for a few minutes to circulate the solution through the carburetor. This is also a good time to rotate your fuel supply. Pour the gas from your stored fuel into the car and fill up the gas cans with fresh fuel, again adding fuel stabilizer for storage.

2. Changing generator oil. Make sure your portable generator has enough oil to keep it running smoothly. Many generators shut down automatically to protect the engine if the level gets too low. To keep yours protected and ready for a winter storm or home emergency, check the oil level whenever you add fuel by referencing the dipstick and filling to the full marker. Keep a few quarts of oil on hand in case of emergencies. Refer to your engine manual for exact specifications.

3. Inspecting replaceable parts regularly. In addition to the engine oil, check out the carburetor, air filter, fuel filter and spark plug regularly according to the portable generator owner manual. Maintain your generator according to the maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.

4. Getting a transfer switch. A manual transfer switch is the best way to use a portable generator for emergency use, as it connects directly to a home's electrical system to power furnaces, refrigerators, pumps and more. When engaged, a manual transfer switch isolates the generator power from the incoming utility lines, which is important to not endanger utility line workers and ensure the generator is not overloaded. A dedicated cable connects the generator to the transfer switch through an inlet box. This method protects the integrity of a home's electrical wiring, safeguards the generator and eliminates running multiple extension cords from the generator into the house.

5. Knowing how, where and with what. Keep a flashlight handy so you will be able to find your way to your generator and learn to start, adjust and shut off your generator to make sure you are familiar with how you will operate it when there is a power outage. Running your generator occasionally will not only help you learn to use it, but will also keep the engine well-lubricated.

Briggs & Stratton also encourages homeowners to think about where you will place the generator when you do need to use it. Do not run a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, basements, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can quickly build up in these spaces and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off. Place the unit outside and far from doors, windows, vents and other openings that could allow CO to come indoors or be drawn into potentially occupied spaces. Direct the engine exhaust away from potentially occupied spaces.

Source: Briggs & Stratton Corporation

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Modern Family: Connected Homes Pose Risks

October 22, 2015 2:43 am

Securing personal information has become all the more challenging in the era of the digital data breach, as households become increasingly connected with Internet-enabled devices. And according to a recent ESET® survey, many Americans have a false sense of online security despite data breach notifications indicating otherwise, leaving their homes’ “digital doors” susceptible to cyber threats.

“From the digital workplace to the connected living space and across age groups and demographics, today’s households are more connected than ever and the number of connected devices is growing at considerable pace,” says ESET Senior Security Researcher Stephen Cobb. “Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed had between one and five connected devices at home connected to the Internet, with 30 percent owning six or more. Even more telling, 30 percent of those surveyed today have two to three more devices at home compared to last year. With so many potentially vulnerable digital entry points, this survey underlines the importance of cyber security as a core commitment in our digital lives.”

Remarkably, more than 40 percent of Americans fail to properly secure their wireless router – the gateway to most digital devices – by not resetting the factory-set default passwords.

Parents, however, have been taken steps to educate their children about cyber security. Seventy-five percent of parents have had a “CyberEd” talk with their children, and 90 percent have made at least one rule about using the Internet and connected devices. Still, nearly 60 percent of parents don’t require permission before downloading a new app or game or joining a social network. Seventy percent don’t limit the kind of personal information their children share on social networks, and 60 percent allow password-sharing with friends.

“There is no question that with the explosion of connected devices in the home, a fresh set of rules must be initiated in every household so that the always-on, always-connected family can enjoy the Internet safely and with a great level of confidence,” says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). “What this study reveals is that Americans are managing their lives and clearly reaping the benefits of the Internet, but it is not risk-free. With a shift in the paradigm, families can make practicing good cyber security a way of life and our interconnected families and communities will ultimately be safer and more secure.“


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Holiday Shoppers Plan to Gift Themselves with Savings

October 21, 2015 12:43 am

The adage “a penny saved is a penny earned” may ring more true than ever this upcoming holiday season. According to a recent report, holiday shopping could take a backseat to saving as more Americans take steps to limit their spending. Their reasoning? Static income and a desire to save, says Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

“Stagnant income has kept a lid on spending, but also held back progress to saving – even though consumers increasingly recognize how important it is,” says McBride.

Per the report, Americans aged 50 to 64 are restricting their spending the most, but millennials are more than twice as likely as any other age group to limit their spending based on a need to save more. Those aged 65 and older are the freest spenders.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


More Homeowners Go Smart for Security

October 21, 2015 12:43 am

Of all the benefits that smart home technology has to offer, security is the most sought after. According to Iris by Lowe’s annual Smart Home Survey, more than three in five Americans cite security as the top reason for owning a smart home product, and over half of Americans plan to purchase security cameras in the next year. Close to half of Americans also report that smart home products would help cut costs and save money on energy bills, and make their home more convenient overall.

In addition, results from the survey reveal that when it comes to purchasing considerations, cost of equipment, monthly fees, ease of use and energy-efficient are the most important deciding factors. Interestingly, parents with children under the age of 18 in the home are nearly three times as likely to purchase smart home products in the next year as those without.

When breaking down the results cross-country, Southerners are more likely than those in the Midwest to purchase smart home products for security benefits. Smart home product owners in the Northeast wish they could adjust their thermostats or start their coffee pots from their beds, likely due to the region’s colder climate.

The number one place Americans are most likely to buy a smart home product is at a home improvement store, either in-store or online.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Most Popular Aging-in-Place Projects

October 21, 2015 12:43 am

For those who plan to age in place in their current home, household improvements in key areas can boost their overall quality of living. According to a recent Aging-in-Place Report by HomeAdvisor, more than half of homeowners aged 65-plus desire home automation systems, such as thermostats and lighting; nearly 15 percent desire assistive technology, such as automated countertops and shelving; and 10 percent desire in-home health monitoring systems, such as heart rate trackers or fall monitors.

The report also uncovered the most common projects related to aging in place. These are:

• Adding Grab Bars

• Building a Disability Ramp

• Installing a Stair Lift

• Adding a Personal Alert System

When hiring a professional to complete an aging-in-place project, almost three-quarters of homeowners make contact with the professional themselves, followed by the homeowner’s daughter.

Source: HomeAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.


12 "Digital Chores" for Your Household

October 20, 2015 12:40 am

From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, the Internet is the enabling thread that holds together our day. This increased connectivity, however, and our ever-growing number of connected devices have also made us more vulnerable to cybercrime. Against this backdrop, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) strongly recommend households complete the following “digital chores.”

• Create an inventory of all Internet-connected devices in your home.

• Use two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication (where available) ‒ and long, strong and unique passwords for all accounts.

• Own your online presence.

• Review privacy settings available on social networking sites, cellphones, and other social tools the family uses. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection.

• Secure your router. Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as "the Jones Family" or "123 Elm Street."

• Take action if your personal information is compromised. If you are a victim of cybercrime, report to law enforcement and other appropriate organizations, such as banks and credit card companies, etc.

• Connect smartly. Before connecting new devices, understand how to use any security and privacy settings and how to maintain the security of the device.

• Keep a clean machine. On a weekly basis, check every device to make sure everyone is keeping their devices secure by installing updates of apps, operating systems and security software to prevent against malware infections.

• It's also a good practice to protect homework, pictures, music and other vital family information by creating an electronic copy and storing it safely in the cloud, on a CD, USB or external hard drive once a week.

• Share with care. Always remember that before posting online about your kids, think about how it may be perceived now, how he or she might feel in the future, and who might see it. Engage in a conversation with your children about what they are comfortable with you posting and start by deleting posts that may make them feel uncomfortable.

• Include discussions about online safety and security as part of your regular conversations with your kids. Ask them what they do online, what new websites or apps they have used or want to use, and what their friends are doing online.

• Conduct a quarterly clean up. Go through files on your devices and delete things no longer needed, such as numerous draft documents, unflattering or no longer needed photos, old bookmarks, etc.


Published with permission from RISMedia.