RE/MAX 440
David J Feinberg

David J Feinberg
4789 Route 309  Center Valley  PA 18034
Phone:  610-509-4358
Office:  610-791-4400
Fax:  610-791-9575

My Blog

4 Home Improvements Projects to Tackle This Summer

July 23, 2015 1:30 am

Summertime is ideal for projects around the house to not only prepare for the coming months, but to also add value to your home. "The summer months continue to be quintessential for home maintenance, and it's important to stay on top of projects like inspecting your siding or windows, setting up larger replacements like a new roof, as well as other curb appeal enhancements while the weather is warmer," says Power Home Remodeling Group Vice Presidents of Operations Matt Hess. "Checking the right improvement projects off your to-do list will create the best return on investment for your home and save you money in the future — making life easier leading into fall and then the holiday season."

According to Power, homeowners should focus on completing one or all of these projects before the season ends.

1. Make your home more energy-efficient.

High energy bills during the summer months can be avoided by increasing a home's energy efficiency. Consider investing in new doors and energy-efficient windows that not only reduce expenses, but protect window treatments, floors and furniture from fading. Look for heat resistant windows that are much more effective at keeping heat and humidity at bay. Cut down A/C usage by turning the thermostat up during the daytime hours, or consider installing a programmable thermostat.

2. Beautify your home's exterior.

Enhanced curb appeal has been linked to increased value and return on investment. Inspect your exterior for loose or rotted siding, and consider power washing or repainting if it’s time for a revamp. You may want to consider installing a new roof, as well – the seasonal weather will work in your favor. And don’t forget about refreshing your home's landscaping to complete the new and improved look.

3. Create your own backyard paradise.

Turn your backyard into a getaway and every weekend will feel like a vacation! Consider the atmosphere first. Hang dim LED lights throughout the yard, cut back shrubbery and plant a variety of bright, tropical flowers. Then, think about entertaining. Spruce up summer dinner parties by making sure the grill has been inspected and cleaned and consider installing an outdoor speaker.

4. Bug-proof your home.

Call in an exterminator in the beginning of the season to avoid a run-in with an unwanted guest or an irritating buzz while enjoying your home this summer. Be sure to store trash properly and only throw out food in trashcans with a lid. To prevent entry into your home, make sure screens free of holes are installed on both windows and doors.

Source: Power Home Remodeling Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Financial Planning Tips for Younger Caregivers

July 22, 2015 1:30 am

Like the rest of the world, the United States’ population is aging. According to the U.S. Census, it is becoming much more common for younger people to take on the role of caregiver – and to invest significant amounts of their own money toward the care of their loved ones, often at the expense of their own financial futures, a recent MassMutual study reports.

“We often refer to the baby boomers as the sandwich generation, but Gen Y and X could be called the ‘club sandwich’ generation,” says MassMutual SpecialCare(SM) Program Director Joanne Gruszkos. “These younger adults are not only trying to get their own lives off to a sound start, perhaps starting a family, while often caring for siblings with disabilities or in some cases, spouses who are injured or disabled veterans, and anticipating caring for an aging parent in the future.”

Whether or not financial support is provided, caregiving requires time away from work that could impact the ability to earn a living. Study respondents who identified themselves as being caregivers indicated they have less time for themselves (47 percent), an increased stress or anxiety level (36 percent) and poor sleep (35 percent). Close to 20 percent of caregivers indicated a financial impact and half say their future financial and/or retirement plans are being impacted.

This outcome can be avoided with advanced planning, says MassMutual. The first step is to have an honest conversation with your family members about their own health care wishes and the plans they may have in place to carry them out. Will they be able to fund their long-term care, or will they rely on you? Having this conversation before being called upon will allow for time to put plans into place.

The next step is to get the information needed to plan. Seek trusted advisors who have special needs experience to guide you through important financial decisions. Identify the person who will care for your loved one and draft a letter of intent that will serve as a guide for that person to provide care, support and other assistance.

Plan ahead for expenses such as housing, education, work opportunities and daily transportation when determining your loved one’s lifetime financial needs. Research federal benefits provided to families affected by special needs. You may qualify.

Lastly, make sure you have beneficiary arrangements and a current will that align with your other planning strategies.

Source: MassMutual

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Prevent Flooding from an Appliance Failure

July 22, 2015 1:30 am

According to Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service experts, accidental flooding in the home is typically caused by an appliance or plumbing failure, not the weather. If flooding occurs when no one is home – or worse, when occupants are on vacation – the results can be catastrophic. Most incidents can easily cost the average homeowner more than $5,000 in repairs!

To prevent accidental flooding caused by appliance or plumbing failure, conduct a thorough inspection of the:

Basement Sump Pump
– Once a month, ensure the sump pump is free of debris and discharging water properly. To test the system, pour a few buckets of water into your sump pit. In a matter of seconds, the pump should discharge the water and shut off by itself. If your sump pump operates frequently, consider installing a battery back-up that will operate in the event of a power outage.

Washing Machine Hose – Many homeowners leave washing machine water supply lines turned on, so if a hose bursts, water can discharge at up to 500 gallons per hour. If you’re machine hoses are more than five years old, replace them with stronger, steel-braided hoses, which last twice as long.

Ice Maker Water Line
– Ice maker water lines usually fail because the refrigerator was moved and the line was pinched. Vibration can also damage a water line over time. Inspect lines once a year to ensure the water line is unobstructed. Additionally, consider replacing plastic or copper lines with steel-braided lines, which cost about $10.

Dishwasher Water Supply Line – A dishwasher’s water supply line usually leads from your kitchen sink’s supply faucets beneath the sink. The dishwasher drain hose also runs between the appliance and the sink or disposal. Inspect the line twice a year for signs of wear and tear or evidence of a leak.

Water Heater
– Whether failing slowly or suddenly, water heaters are known to rupture. Inspect the tank and all plumbing fittings twice a year, keeping in mind that life expectancy averages 11 years. Check on your water heater more often if it is more than eight years old.

After inspecting, place battery-operated flood alarms (which retail for about $15 each) on the floor near each of these appliances. If water is present, the alarm will sound and allow you time to act sooner. Automatic shut-off valves with their own audible alarms (which retail for about $100 each) can also save thousands in flood cleanup costs. For the best outcome, have a plumber install valves produced by the appliance manufacturer.

Source: Roto-Rooter

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Don't Get Taken to the Cleaners by Your House Cleaner

July 22, 2015 1:30 am

The home cleaning industry is rife with companies that outsource work to contract laborers in an effort to control expenses and maximize shareholder earnings. This type of business model puts the homeowner at risk. Why?

Home cleaning companies using contract labor do not have to provide workers compensation. While it assumed the contractor maintains his or her own policies, many gamble against the odds of injury on the job.

“In the unfortunate event that injury does occur, contract cleaning workers may seek (and get) medical reimbursement from the owners of the home they were cleaning when the injury took place,” says Maid Brigade President Bart Puett.

Homeowners may also be liable for Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes and penalties for the contract workers who do not make accurate and timely payments to the IRS themselves. Since the contract worker is not employed by the housecleaning company that dispatched them, the IRS may deem that the homeowner is the employer of that cleaner, and therefore responsible for these taxes.

Though the risk of finding a surprise tax bill in the mailbox is slim for most homeowners who hire cleaning help, it is best not to take chances.

When hiring a cleaning company, do your homework. “Homeowners should do their due diligence before hiring a house cleaner or professional cleaning service,” says Ernie Hartong, CEO of the Association for Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI). “To avoid the pitfalls that can occur when someone is working in your home, ask to see a copy of the company's business license and insurance policy before hiring. A professional company should gladly provide these to any consumer who asks."

Source: Maid Brigade

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are You Prepared for Emergencies while Traveling?

July 21, 2015 1:30 am

Does your health insurance cover incidents while traveling abroad? Depending on your domestic healthcare provider, specific plan and area of travel, medical coverage can vary widely. According to the InsureMyTrip.com, travelers should be familiar with any limitations on domestic health insurance policies while out of the country.

In most cases, InsureMyTrip says, there are gaps in coverage. The U.S. State department estimates very few domestic heath insurance companies will pay for a medical evacuation back to the United States, which can easily cost up to $100,000 or more, depending on the condition and location of the patient. Unless an individual has a supplemental plan (like Medicare Advantage or Medigap, Medicare does not cover travelers outside of the U.S.

Travel insurance can act as supplemental or primary coverage for emergency medical care (when a traveler requires a doctor or hospital visit while traveling abroad), emergency evacuation (when a traveler requires transportation to another medical facility, or back home for further care), and 24/7 emergency assistance (when a traveler needs help with a medical or safety-related issue, needs to find a doctor or hospital, or requires translation services).

Some travel insurance policies also cover pre-existing medical conditions. Most travel insurance providers offer two types of plans:

1. Comprehensive Travel Insurance
– Offers the most protection for travelers. Provides a variety of benefits, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation or coverage, 24/7 emergency assistance and baggage protection.

Example: For a $5,000 two-week vacation to Aruba, a comprehensive travel insurance plan will cost a couple in their fifties around $200. This includes a $50,000 medical limit and $250,000 for medical evacuation.

2. Travel Medical Insurance
--- Provides emergency medical coverage, 24/7 emergency assistance and emergency medical evacuation coverage. Trip cancellation is typically not included.

Example: For the same trip to Aruba, a travel medical insurance plan will cost a couple in their fifties around $80. This includes a $50,000 medical limit with a $250 deductible and $500,000 medical evacuation.


Both comprehensive and travel medical insurance plans are a valued supplement while traveling overseas, offsetting possible coverage gaps in some domestic health insurance plans.

Source: InsureMyTrip

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Study: Monthly Utilities Average Less Than $150

July 21, 2015 1:30 am

Despite an unchanged average monthly bill, more individuals expressed price satisfaction with their utility companies in a recent J.D. Power study, potentially reflective of an increase in confidence related to household income. Another contributing factor, the study found, may be less exposure to information regarding rate increases.

According to the study, the average monthly utility bill comes in at $132 per month.

Utility companies have stepped up service efforts as of late, primarily in power outage situations. Study participants cited an increase in proactive communication, including the cause of the outage, the number of customers impacted and more accurate restoration estimates, on the part of their respective utility providers.

Source: J.D. Power

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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An Architect's Disaster Safety Checklist

July 21, 2015 1:30 am

In the eyes of an architect, preparing your residence for a natural disaster requires a thorough understanding of the home’s structure. If you don’t know details relating to the construction of your home, the American Institute of Architects Disaster Assistance Committee recommends following this checklist:

1. Document your home before disaster strikes. Take photos of the inside and outside of your property and share with your insurance company prior to a natural disaster.

2. Become familiar with your home’s history. Seek out details like the age of your home, the type of framing used in construction, how recently the roof has been repaired or replaced, etc. This information will help guide you on what design changes or updates should be made before a disaster.

3. Prioritize inexpensive fixes and phase repairs, maintenance and retrofits so they are manageable. Use wind-resistant nailing patterns to secure roof sheathing

4. Communicate your building performance goals. Make your desire for storm-resistant and resilient design elements known to your contractor or architect from the outset of a project and include site selection, program and building life cycle in your conversations. Make sure that you are comfortable with their expertise in this area before proceeding with work.

5. Designate a safe room within your home
for certain hazards including tornadoes and earthquakes. Examples include a mud room, laundry room or even a powder room as space allows.

6. Design to meet your needs. Building codes are a life safety standard that affords minimal protection of property only. Hazardous conditions may not be up to date in local maps and regulations to reflect current realities and risk. A qualified architect can advise on additional measures to take.

Source: AIA.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways Students Can Avoid Borrower's Remorse

July 20, 2015 1:30 am

With no end in sight for tuition rate hikes, funding a higher education has become one of the most challenging financial issues for Americans. Students relying on loans have the added burden of paying off debt after graduation – and many aren’t even sure where to begin. To avoid borrower’s remorse, keep in mind these tips from the experts at Edvisors.com.

1. Exhaust free money first. By the time loans are repaid in full with any interest, it typically costs students about two dollars for every dollar they borrow. Rely on free aid first, such as grants, scholarships and education tax benefits. Consider earned income, such as student employment, education awards for volunteer service, employer tuition assistance or military student aid as options, as well. If you must borrow, consider a short-term tuition installment plan, instead of long-term debt.

2. Avoid taking on too much debt.
Families should only take on as much debt as they can afford to repay student loans in ten years or less. A good rule of thumb is to keep student loan debt at graduation less than the student’s expected annual starting salary – ideally, a lot less.

3. Borrow federal student loans before private ones. Always borrow federal student loans first because the loans are less expensive, more available and have better repayment terms and conditions than private student loans.

4. Know the difference between fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed interest rates remain unchanged for the life of the loan, while variable interest rates may change periodically. Even if the interest rate on a variable-rate loan is initially lower than the interest rate on a fixed-rate loan, the variable-rate loan may ultimately be more expensive if the interest rate increases significantly over the life of the loan.

5. Understand the consequences of cosigning. Cosigning a loan may help the borrower qualify for a loan and may reduce the interest rate. But, a cosigner is also a co-borrower, equally obligated to repay the debt. The cosigned loan will be reported on the credit history of both the borrower and cosigner. This may affect the cosigner’s ability to qualify for other debt, especially if the borrower is late with a payment or defaults on the loan.

Source: Edvisors.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Credit Seekers See More Approvals, Fewer Rejections

July 20, 2015 1:30 am

As the economy continues to stabilize, more Americans are experiencing improvement in credit application rates and credit rejection rates, including those of mortgages and mortgage refinances, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the Bank’s recent SCE Credit Access Survey, there are now more successful applicants and fewer rejected and discouraged credit seekers. Thirty-four percent of survey respondents who were credit applicants in the last 12 months were granted credit; a mere 8.1 percent applied and were rejected. Approximately five percent of survey respondents were too discouraged to apply, despite indicating a need for credit.

Application rates increased slightly for all credit types: mortgage, mortgage refinance, credit card, credit card limit increase and auto loan. The most noticeable increase was seen in those aged 40 or younger.

In addition, survey respondents reporting a voluntary credit account closing or credit limit reduction in the past 12 months dropped to 13 percent. Involuntary (lender-initiated) credit account closings or credit limit reductions remained within the 3-4 percent range seen at the onset of the recovery.

Survey respondents indicating the likelihood of applying for a mortgage in the next 12 months increased to record highs. The likelihood of a credit application being rejected, conditional on applying, fell for mortgages and increased slightly for mortgage refinances.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Hottest Trends in Tile

July 20, 2015 1:30 am

(BPT) - New designs, styles and technologies are making tile the most versatile and accessible flooring material in homes today. Whether tiling up a wall or carrying tile throughout the home, builders, designers and homeowners are thinking outside the box when it comes to this trend, says The Tile Shop, purveyor of tile and natural stone at more than 100 retail showrooms across the country.

"Tile has always been durable and easy to maintain," says Kevin McDaniel of The Tile Shop. "Tile has a long lifespan and classic good looks, making it a favorite flooring of choice wherever homeowners need a floor material that's both practical and beautiful. Even more design options are available now, making tile a smart floor surface in virtually any room of the home."

If you’re thinking of renovating your home, McDaniel suggests incorporating some of the hottest trends in tile, such as:

Rustic, Real Wood - Many of the larger-format, faux wood tiles mimic the look of real hardwood floors. Less expensive and more durable than real wood, these tile floors are practical yet beautiful choices for active households with children and pets. Details evoke the character of real wood, right down to the nails.

"Rustic faux wood is making a huge splash because of its warm, earthy coloring and unusual time-worn finishes such as aged paint, a finish hard to achieve with real wood. I foresee it continuing to be a very popular design trend," McDaniel says.

Longer Planks - While standard square tile sizes will always have their place in home decor, rectangular tiles - otherwise known as planks - are gaining popularity. New 12-by-24-inch tiles are ideal in bathrooms and 6-by-36-inch tiles or 8-inch by 8-feet planks (often in wood-grained looks) are a favorite for living areas.

"Using longer planks can help smaller spaces look larger, and create an appealing consistency across multiple rooms," says McDaniel. "While consumers may be familiar with traditional tile shapes such as square or hexagon, these longer tiles offer exciting new design flexibility."

Poured Concrete - While concrete is a trendy design material right now, it's not practical for every household or application. New tile styles create the look of poured or stained concrete at a fraction of the cost, and with all the durability, versatility and ease associated with tile. Tile options range from long rectangular 8-by-18-inch or 12-by-24-inch planks to 18-by-18-inch squares. Tiles are rectified (the edge is cut completely straight) and grout joints are very narrow to create the look of seamless concrete.

Heated Floors - While heated floors were once a luxury option for homeowners, they're becoming increasingly mainstream. Tile lends itself to radiant heat beneath the floor. Some retailers, including The Tile Shop, carry thermostats to control the heated floor.

High-Contrast Grout
- Using a high-contrast grout color can make the floor pop, and it's a tactic that works well with mosaic designs. Choosing the right grout color is just as important as the tile you select. Also popular is the concept of mosaic designs that mimic an area rug within a larger section of tile flooring and create the look of custom art within the floor.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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