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

Top DIY Tips to Protect from Ticks and Mosquitoes

May 28, 2013 3:36 am

Welcome to the unofficial start of summer with outdoor parties, barbeques, parades and celebrations under the stars. However, a perfect storm of weather conditions over the past months have made conditions ripe for what is being predicted to be a powerful crop of mosquito and tick populations to wreak havoc on outdoor plans.

Reported cases of Lyme disease continue to rise with more than 280,000 Americans being diagnosed since 2002, with an additional 30,000 diagnoses just last year. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An illness that can have lifelong debilitating effects such as arthritis, fatigue and even neurological deficits, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged or deer ticks.

In addition to performing a daily tick check, there are specific actions a homeowner can take to reduce the tick and mosquito population in their yards, thus reducing exposure for themselves, guests and pets:

The 6 Cs to Tick-Proof Your Yard

1. Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don't position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.
2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.
6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as "tick tubes." Strategically placed, "tick tubes" prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

When outdoors away from home, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved, long-legged, light-colored clothing. Tuck pant legs into socks to refuse ticks an entry point. Spray clothing and any exposed skin with a product containing 20 percent DEET. Clothing and other gear, but not skin, can be treated with Permethrin, which will kills ticks and mosquitoes on contact and should last through several washings. Check carefully for ticks after being outdoors.

5 Ts to Control Mosquitoes
1. Tip. Reduce standing water to eliminate mosquito threats, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs.
2. Toss. Remove excess grass, leaves, firewood and clippings from yards.
3. Turn. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes or plastic toys.
4. Remove tarps. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment and grills aren't taut, they're holding water.
5. Treat. Utilize a mosquito elimination barrier treatment around the home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body. Mosquito Squad's treatments eliminate up to 90 percent of the mosquitoes and ticks on a property.

Source: Mosquito Squad

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Outdoor Home Solutions

May 24, 2013 2:20 am

(Family Features) In the warmer months, we find ourselves outside more often, enjoying nature while playing with the kids and maintaining our lawns. But this additional time spent outside means more home and garden tools and more opportunity for a mess.

Here are some simple tips to keep your outdoor spaces cleaner and more organized:

Storage Bench – Use a storage bench to keep your gardening gloves, tools and children’s outdoor toys. Available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, you can find the bench that fits your décor. Plus, they offer an extra seating area when you have company.

Bundle Cords – No one likes the unsightly appearance or hazard of cords. Before your gatherings, bundle together stereo and electronic chords that are exposed, as well as any cords that run across the lawn.

Paver Pots – Use old pavers to create plant containers. Simply stack the pavers together making a square shape. The heavy weight of the pavers keeps the dirt and plant contained together.

Deck Space – Use the space under your deck for additional, out-of-sight storage. Tuck plastic lidded storage containers underneath for easy access to children’s sporting goods and toys.

Mesh Bags – Pool toys, rafts and inner tubes need a space to dry off. Use mesh bags so these summer toys properly are properly dried, preventing mildew or molding.

Proper Plant Care – Stock up on essentials for a healthy garden, including the tools to make plant seedlings thrive.

Repurpose Furniture – Turn old furniture pieces, such as old filing cabinets, into instant garage storage solutions. Take out the drawers of the cabinet and turn it on its side. Each empty drawer area provides a spot for large items like brooms, shovels and rakes.

Fence Storage – Turn old coffee or paint cans into storage bins for smaller gardening tools like hand shovels and pruning shears. For easy access while in the garden, cut holes and use rope to hang around a close-by fence post.

Tires – Stack old tires on top of each other for an outdoor toy container that kids can easily access. Paint the outside to match the color of your house or whatever color you fancy.

End of Season Storage – Keep your garage area tidy by organizing similar tools together. Use One-Wrap ties to keep gardening tools grouped together, or to keep hoses tightly coiled and out of the way. This product also comes in a variety of colors and sizes so that you can keep everything neat and organized.

Source: www.velcro.com

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Home Buyers Undeterred by Looming Seller's Market

May 24, 2013 2:20 am

According to a recent survey of home buyers, buyers are undeterred by the recovering market and seem to be willing to pay more for what they want. Respondents cite low inventory and rising prices as key concerns when shopping for a home, but while the percentage of people worried about inventory has remained steady throughout 2013, concern about rising home prices has more than doubled year over year. Despite this, homebuyers are accepting the reality of a seller's market and expressing a willingness to pay more. Notably, unease about the overall economy continues to recede.

• Moving toward consensus that this is a seller's market: Sixty-seven percent see now as a good time to sell, up from 48 percent last quarter.
• Home buyers anticipating further price increases remained unchanged: The percentage of homebuyers who anticipate further price increases in their neighborhood remained virtually unchanged from last quarter. Both quarters, 79 percent indicated a belief that prices will increase in the next 12 months. This quarter, 23 percent think prices will rise "a lot," up just slightly from 22 percent last quarter.
• Rising prices are an increasingly common concern: Forty-eight percent of buyers listed rising prices as a major concern, up from 40 percent last quarter. Sixty-five percent cited low inventory as a major concern in the first quarter, down slightly from 66 percent last quarter.
• Increasingly willing to pay more: Forty-one percent of buyers indicated that low inventory has caused them to consider paying more for a home, up from 34 percent in the first quarter and just 26 percent in the fourth quarter.

Source: Redfin

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Yourself from Mortgage Fraud

May 24, 2013 2:20 am

Mortgage scams can occur when desperate borrowers are struggling to keep their homes or when uneducated first-time buyers agree to outrageous terms. The people who perpetuate mortgage scams promise to help, but prey on the weak, doing little to no work, charging excessive fees, and using tactics that often put homeowners at greater risk of losing their homes.

Predators can come in the form of lenders, appraisers, mortgage brokers or even home improvement contractors. These frauds have been known to do the following: sell properties for much more than they’re worth using false appraisals, encourage borrowers to lie on applications, charge high interest rates based on factors that are not credit history, charge fees for unnecessary or nonexistent services, knowingly lend more money than a borrower can afford to repay, and use high pressure tactics to sell home improvements and then finance them at high interest rates.

Every year, misinformed homebuyers become victims of lending or loan fraud. In order to avoid these types of fraud and become a smarter consumer, it’s important to understand the home-buying process. Keep these words of advice from HUD and Fannie Mae in mind and prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

• Interview several real estate professionals, and ask for and check references before you select one to help you buy or sell a home. The more background you know about an agent, the safer you will be.

• Know about the general pricing of houses in the neighborhood to prevent yourself from paying too much.

• Shop for a lender and compare costs. If someone is trying to steer you toward just one lender, be suspicious.

• Never, under any circumstances, let anyone convince you to make a false statement on your loan application, such as overstating your income, the source of your downpayment, failing to disclose your debt, or lying about the length of your employment. Lying on an application for whatever reason may result in criminal penalties.

• Don’t let anyone convince you to borrow more money than you know you need or can afford to repay. If you fall behind on payments, you could lose your house and all the money you already put in.

• Don’t sign a blank document or one containing blanks. If information is added after you sign, you could still be held responsible for the terms. Insert “N/A” or cross out any remaining blanks.

• Ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. Never sign if you are unsure of something. Have your contract and loan agreement read over by an attorney skilled in real estate law. You can also take your documents to the HUD-approved housing counseling agency nearest you for further assistance, recommendations or free counseling.

A good rule of thumb: If a deal to buy, repair or refinance sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Source: HUD, Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Missed Must-Sees: U.S. Landmarks that Most Americans Have Never Visited

May 23, 2013 2:20 pm

Hotwire.com® announced results from its second annual American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Interactive among over 2,000 U.S. adults. Expanding on last year's list, the survey revealed even more well-known landmarks that a majority of Americans have never visited, including The Space Needle, Yellowstone National Park, the Gateway Arch, Hollywood Sign and Las Vegas Strip. And with the weather warming up by the minute, there's no better time for Americans to take advantage of discounts to start crossing these sights off their wish lists at a fraction of the cost.

The Space Needle, Seattle, Wash. (78 percent of U.S. adults have never visited)

If there's one thing more famous than Seattle's coffee, it's the city's iconic Space Needle – a 605-foot tall tower that defines the skyline of Downtown Seattle. Constructed in 1962 to commemorate the Seattle World's Fair, the tower was once the largest structure west of the Mississippi River. And while it may have been knocked off the top spot by newer U.S. buildings, it's still a remarkable sight. Visitors to the Space Needle can take an elevator ride to the top, where there's a restaurant and an observation deck, both with beautiful views of Downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier.

Average hotel price: $99
Average air price: $410
Average daily car rental rate: $29

Yellowstone National Park (73 percent of U.S. adults have never visited)

Even with its status as one of the U.S.' most famous landmarks and the first national park, almost three-quarters of all Americans have yet to visit Yellowstone National Park. Spanning three states, the park takes up almost 3,500 square miles and is home to mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers and hundreds of species of animals. Visitors to Yellowstone have many options when it comes to outdoor activities in this colossal destination. After a trip to the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser, which erupts about once every hour and a half, folks can kayak through the West Thumb area, or even hike through any number of the park's 1,100 miles of trails.

Average hotel price: $136
Average air price: $613
Average daily car rental rate: $21

*Prices based on travel and stays in Jackson, Wyoming

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri (70 percent of U.S. adults have never visited)

Standing tall at 630 feet, St. Louis' Gateway Arch is truly a modern marvel, and the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Coming up on the 50th anniversary of its completion in 1965, the arch is more than just a jaw-dropping site. As part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, this towering spectacle commemorates the westward growth of the United States, and is sure to please history buffs and everyday travelers just the same.

Average hotel price: $63
Average air price: $361
Average daily car rental rate: $25

The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California (69 percent of U.S. adults have never visited)

If Los Angeles has any one iconic landmark, it's the world-famous Hollywood Sign. Featured in countless films and TV shows, the 45-foot tall letters should look and feel familiar to visitors from all over the world. But folks don't have to look at the sign from afar; with just a 40-minute hike up the Hollyridge Trail, visitors can get up close and personal with the landmark and enjoy a breathtaking view of metro Los Angeles at the same time.

Average hotel price: $98
Average air price: $383
Average daily car rental rate from San Antonio: $28

Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada (45 percent of U.S. adults have never visited)

With a nickname like "Sin City," it might be a little surprising that Las Vegas is the survey's least-ignored landmark to date. But it's even more surprising to think that this larger-than-life Nevada mecca still has yet to be experienced by 45 percent of Americans. A constant influx of new hotels like the luxurious Cosmopolitan and vivacious nightclubs like the Hakkasan are making this desert getaway even more attractive to visitors beyond just the usual crowd from nearby southern California.

Average hotel price: $91
Average air price: $378
Average daily car rental rate: $28

Source: Hotwire

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Clean-Up Tips Following Tornadoes

May 23, 2013 2:20 pm

In the wake of the tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma this week, the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has these tips for individuals struck by tragedy in the wake of these or future tornados. To begin the clean-up and damage assessment process:

-Notify your insurance company of the loss.
-Keep a notebook to track dates and times of conversations with individuals pertaining to your claim.
-Save receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, prescriptions, etc.
-Take photos for future reference and insurance claims. This provides a digital inventory of some contents and damage.
-Homeowners with appropriate insurance coverage may hire any restoration company they choose and are not limited to those suggested by an insurer.
-If electrical appliances such as televisions and computers were damaged by water, do not turn them back on when power is restored. This can result in electric shock and further damage to the appliance. Electronics can often be cleaned & restored by knowledgeable contractors.
-Drywall, insulation and carpeting/padding impacted by rain will probably need to be removed and replaced.
-Wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick-soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes, since there can be exposed nails, glass and other sharp objects.
-Wash your hands frequently -- especially before touching your face or eating.
-Avoid cross contamination -- don't wear dirty clothes or shoes to a clean or undamaged part of a structure.
-Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
-Don't use bleach to disinfect since it is corrosive and can react with other substances. Use household disinfectants.
-Open drawers and cabinets for interior drying, but don't force them open.
-Remove standing water from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting.
-Hard surfaces can be disinfected as well as some soft goods, depending on washability.

Beware of scammers offering restoration services. Check references and visit the Restoration Industry Association website -- www.restorationindustry.org -- to find a contractor.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Summer Must Haves to Keep Kids Safe

May 23, 2013 2:20 pm

Summer is right around the corner and June is National Child Safety Awareness Month. Summer is full of fun, travel, going to the beach and more. Here are eight summer must-haves to keep kids safe this summer:

1. Parking Pal Magnet: Safer unpacking

This is a super safety product; unpacking the car at the beach can be challenging -- beach chairs, coolers, beach umbrella, towels, toys, kids, etc. The Parking Pal Magnet is a magnet to place on a safe part of the automobile and a child places their hand on the magnet to stay in place safely while the car is unloaded. Parking Pal makes trips to the beach and anywhere else this summer easier and safer.

$8.99
www.parkingpalmagnet.com

2. SwimZip Swimwear: Safer swimwear

We are all aware of the dangers of exposure to the sun. SwimZip Swimwear offers super cute swimsuits in UV50+ protection. SwimZip blocks 99% of the UVA and UVB cancer causing rays from your little ones skin! We all might as well purchase SwimZip suits because it offers safety from the sun for kids so simply.

$17.99 - $29.99
www.SwimZip.com

3. The Noblo Umbrella Buddy: Safer beach umbrella use

Invented by two moms to stop fly away beach umbrellas (and the injuries that can result from this), the Noblo is a simple to use beach umbrella anchor. Three easy steps: 1) Fill noblo with sand, 2) velcro to beach umbrella, and 3) relax at the beach. Noblo will take care of your beach umbrella.

$14.99
www.thenoblo.com

4. Zoe b organic Beach Toys – Safer toys

Zoe b organic beach toys are made from corn, not petroleum. They’re safer for our kids, containing no toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates. They’re also safe for our oceans: if washed out to sea, these toys will fully break down in two-three years (not 500 years, like ordinary plastic). They’re the world's first biodegradable beach toys. They come in a five piece set: bucket, sifter/lid, shovel, and two cups, and come in turquoise/lime or pink/orange.

$22.00
www.zoeborganic.com

5. Eye Cream Shades - Safer eyes

Eyes Cream Shades is a leader in providing quality sunwear for kids ages six months and above. All Eyes Cream frames are fashion forward, comfortable, as well as durable; and all lenses are polycarbonate and provide 100% UVA & UVB protection. As everyone knows, sunglasses are not "toys" or novelty items, but serve an important health function -protecting precious eyes.

$22.50
www.eyescreamshades.com

6. S'well Water Bottle -- Safer days with proper hydration

S'well is a fashionable, reusable, sustainable water bottle company. Their bottles are double walled in stainless steel leaving liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. Not only will you have a great water bottle for the beach, but you will help in S'well's effort to bring clean water to the world's poorest communities. Water is essential for life, but one billion people (one sixth of the world's population) do not have safe access to it. To address this crisis, S'well is a proud to partner with WaterAid.

$35
www.swellbottle.com

7. Dr. Robin All Natural Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30+ - Safer sun protection

With all the information about sunscreen/sun exposure, a safer choice is Dr. Robins. It’s made in California and specially formulated by a Pediatric Dermatologist. Believing less is more, Dr. Robin created this broad spectrum mineral sunscreen without irritating chemicals, phthalates, parabens, or fragrance. Dr. Robin's special formula is: Gluten-free, water resistant, formulated to minimize allergic reaction, and coral reef safe.

$24
www.drrobin.mdt

8. Little Toader AppeTEETHERS - Safer teething toy

While adults and children have fun this summer, so can babies with AppeTEETHERS by Little Toader. AppeTEETHERS are fun, safe and effective teething toys that look like real food. While BBQing this summer, baby can enjoy a Chompin' Chicken Wing or Baby-Q Ribs…coming soon are fruits, veggies and sweets. These patented silicone teething toys are free of BPA, phthalate, PVC and lead providing the perfect amount of resistance to soothe babies' sore gums and best of all they are fun.

$9.99
www.littletoader.com

"One super important safety necessity at the beach is to show your children where the lifeguard stand is and tell them to go to the lifeguards if they are lost. It’s easy to get disoriented at the beach and children do not always think to go to the lifeguards," shares Kathleen Pisano, inventor of Noblo.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Your Outdoor Space Help Sell Your Home

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

Spring is finally here, and it's a beautiful time of year to spruce up your property and get it ready for the warmer weather. For many people, this means creating an outdoor environment that is inviting and fun to use during the warmer months. This is just as important if you're planning on selling your home as if you're going to be living in it.

Nicer weather means that people want to spend more time outdoors working, playing, socializing, and even eating. Most homeowners invest some time preparing their yards and gardens for warmer days, and the same rules apply when prepping your home for sale. Buyers will be tempted by the accessibility and appeal that you enjoy in your yard.

Making your yard and the outside of your home enticing doesn't have to be expensive. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a few key investments – most likely the same investments you make every year as the weather warms up. Here are a few small fixes and embellishments that you can use to your advantage when making your outdoor space appealing:

Clean it up. Your outdoor space can give prospective buyers the impression of an additional "room" when viewing your home. And as with any other room in your home, you want everything to be in order. Stow lawn tools and outdoor toys in a garage, shed, or storage bench when you are not using them. Clean up anything that has gotten grimy during the cold winter months. Wash windows and clear gutters. Rent a power washer from a local home supply store to clean off siding, decks, patios, and fences that look dirty.

Make quick fixes. Replace or repair anything that has taken a beating. Paths and patios should be free of chipped or cracked tiles or paving stones. Shore up fences that are damaged or leaning. Repaint any trim or decking that is in bad shape. Make sure all of your outdoor lighting is working.

Make your landscaping stand out. While you don't necessarily want to plant a huge vegetable garden that will require maintenance (and for which you may not reap the benefits), well-placed and carefully maintained plantings are an easy and attractive way to make your home stand out. If you don't have the time to maintain flower beds, add a few pots and planters brimming with bright blooms. Hanging baskets of flowers are available at virtually any home store or nursery, while small pots of fresh herbs are pretty and you can take them with you when you move. As always, stay on top of weeding and keep grass trimmed and bushes and trees pruned. Investing in some fresh mulch will give your yard a clean appearance.

Add charm. A prospective homebuyer will likely be drawn to the allure of dining al fresco, so if you have a grill or barbecue area, make it inviting with some attractive outdoor furniture. If you have a pool, open it and maintain it. Keep the water sparkling and inviting, and store pool toys out of sight. And don't forget how your property will look during evening hours. Outdoor lighting comes in all shapes and sizes, and much of it is very affordable. Invest in some fixtures that highlight your property's best features. And keep lawn ornaments to a minimum. Remember that buyers want to imagine themselves in your home, so it's best to give them room to imagine their own belongings in your outdoor space.

With summer just a few weeks away and winter just a memory, it's time to get out and enjoy the nicer weather. The best part of preparing your lawn and yard for sale is that you can enjoy the benefits while you are waiting for an offer to come through.

Susie Shortsleeve is a REALTOR® Weston, Mass.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Rate Increases Ahead for Some National Flood Insurance Program Policyholders

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

Changes are coming to the critically important National Flood Insurance Program that could impact real estate transactions and property owners across the country. That’s according to experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages the government’s flood insurance program, who spoke to REALTORS® at the Flood Insurance 101 session during the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

Kristin Robinson, senior advisor, summarized last year’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which reauthorized the critically important NFIP through 2017 so property owners could affordably access flood insurance.

The National Association of REALTORS® strongly supported the legislation and believes the government’s insurance program saves taxpayers property and money because it increases the number of self-insured properties and reduces the cost of post-flood disaster governmental assistance.

The NFIP is responsible for writing and renewing flood insurance policies for more than 5.6 million home and business owners in more than 21,000 communities nationwide where flood insurance is required for a mortgage. Before Congress passed the legislation, the program operated under short-term extensions. In the past five years, there were 18 extensions and several lapses in program coverage, delaying or cancelling thousands of real estate transactions daily according to NAR’s own research, wreaking havoc on real estate markets.

Robinson said the NFIP is $24 billion in debt following several disastrous storms in recent years since the costs and consequences of flooding continue to increase. “For decades the program has made flood insurance available at subsidized rates that did not reflect the true risk of flooding; artificially low rates and discounts are no longer sustainable,” she said.

Andy Neal, actuary, addressed the gradual phase-out of subsidized rates, which was included in last year's legislation to preserve the flood insurance program and critically important property insurance coverage for the nation’s homeowners. Neal said rate subsidies are being phased out over the next several years to help increase the NFIP’s soundness and financial stability.

The majority of policyholders, more than 80 percent, are not subsidized and won’t be impacted by subsidized rate changes since they are already paying full actuarial rates, he said. However, these owners could see routine annual rate increases.

“Only about 20 percent of NFIP policies receive subsidies, mostly older structures built before the community’s first flood insurance rate map was issued, which are known as pre-FIRM properties. Some of these policyholders will be impacted by the gradual phase-out of subsidized rates; an even smaller number will see immediate changes to their insurance policy rates,” said Neal.

Rate changes are likely to affect owners of subsidized pre-FIRM non-primary residences, business properties, and properties that have experienced severe repetitive flood losses. Owners of some pre-FIRM condos and multi-family units will also see their rates gradually increase. Owners of pre-FIRM primary residences will retain their subsidies unless the policy lapses; it suffers a severe, repeated flood loss; or it’s sold to a new owner, which is retroactive to July 6, 2012, when the legislation was enacted. Some grandfathered principal residences will also lose their subsidies over a several year period, but not until the communities’ flood map is revised.

Neal recommended that home and property owners talk to their insurance agent to determine if their property is currently being subsidized. He said flood insurance rates vary based on a property’s location, elevation and flood risk and can be as low as a few hundred dollars up to $10,000 or more if the property is well below flood level and had severe repeated flood losses.

While higher rates may place a greater burden on families, there are investments homeowners can make to either reduce or better access their flood risk so they can continue to protect their families and possessions from damaging floods. According to Neal, homeowners can lower their risk by elevating their property and potentially reduce their flood insurance rates by having an elevation certificate completed to determine the property’s elevation relative to the base flood elevation. Elevation certificates can cost several hundred dollars to complete but could potentially lower homeowners’ flood insurance premiums.

Some homeowners with flood insurance policies have already received quotes for higher rates, which may be caused by several other factors such as improvements to mapping. As FEMA improves its mapping technology and draws more accurate flood maps, some homes may now be located in a flood zone, or a higher risk zone, where flood insurance is more expensive. Also, some insurance agents may adjust rates to correct previous mistakes made about the home's features when they are re-evaluating an insurance policy at renewal.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Travel Tips to Get Your Family Road Ready

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

As we approach the traditional kick-off of the summer travel season, Rand McNally 's editors have compiled a list of Top 10 travel tips to keep the "Are We There Yet’s?" at bay. These easy-to-implement suggestions will help keep families and friends road-ready instead of road-weary.

At Home

#1: Engage everyone in the planning. If you already have an endpoint in mind, have the family fill in the blanks. Ensure something from each person's list makes it onto the itinerary – from a particular food stop to a funky festival, or an unusual place to take a break.

#2: Scope out something new along the way. Tap into websites as well as magazines, guide books, friends and family to find interesting places to visit. Even the non-readers of the group can get involved with helping you select – simply cite the kid-friendly amenities at each of the possibilities, and note what excites them the most.

#3: Map out the trip. Get out the GPS or pull up a mapping site on the computer, and begin plotting your journey. Encourage youngsters to hone their map-reading skills by finding places and attractions and highlighting routes between locations. Bonus for those math and map inclined in the family: Ask the kids to figure out the distance and direction between various points using the map keys.

#4: Gear up the car. Take your vehicle in for a once-over, ensuring that all necessary repairs and maintenance are done – and maybe a fresh wash and vacuum for good measure. Gather the essentials you need for both your car and the people in it, including a first-aid kit; a tool kit and work gloves; jumper cables; tire jack; rain ponchos; road-side emergency gear; and extra blankets, food (energy bars are great for this), and water.

#5: Shore up things at home. Set timers for lighting, and arrange for mail pickup, lawn mowing and pet care. Clear the refrigerator of all perishable foods and take out the garbage. Do not leave a house key hidden outside your home. Adjust the thermostat, unplug small appliances so they don't drain energy unnecessarily while you're away, and turn off computers and other electronics susceptible to power surges. Share your itinerary with family or a trusted neighbor – but never post these details on a social networking site!

En Route

#6: Delegate road-trip tasks. Give everyone a job while on the road: navigator, treasurer, keeper of the spare keys, fun-and-games maestro, photographer, historian/documentarian, snack server. Alternate roles throughout the trip.

#7: Keep everyone engaged. Digital devices are great for keeping kids distracted, but, every so often, have everyone look up and around – connecting with each other and the journey is a benefit of being together in a vehicle for hours. See how many different state license plates each person can spot. Play 20 Questions with answers related to the trip. Watch road signs looking for towns beginning with a specific letter. Name the state capitals, or mottos as you are passing through them.

#8: Keep things interesting. Surprises – a new toy, game, or app to share or special snacks – help with those "can't-keep-it-together" moments. Be sure to allow time for unplanned stops at festivals, historical markers, produce stands, quirky attractions, or other interesting road-side finds.

#9: Stay happy and healthy. This means eating healthfully, stopping when you first feel hungry rather than waiting till everyone's ravenous and cranky. It also means hydrating – preferably with water as well as juice and other nutritious beverages. And, finally, it means resisting the urge to simply press on. Don't hesitate to stop whenever you need to reorganize, regroup, rest or relax.

#10: Share the journey. At day's end, have everybody share their favorite sights and experiences. Vote on the best photos taken that day. At the end of the trip, select the best overall picture and sight or experience.

Source: Rand McNally

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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