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

A Winning Kitchen Remodel Recipe: 4 Secret Ingredients for Success

March 12, 2013 3:02 am

For the first time since 2008, kitchens have become the No. 1 remodeling project for homeowners, according to RemodelorMove.com. But before you join the rush to remodel your kitchen, you should carefully consider whether the project is a good idea for your finances and family.

To help you make the right decisions, there are new and free tools available online to help you decide if remodeling is a good decision; estimate how much it will cost to remodel your kitchen, find, save, categorize, and share kitchen design ideas and pictures, and get answers to your remodeling questions.

Here is some sage advice to help you get started the smart way on your kitchen remodel:

First, decide if remodeling is right for you. You should consider a multitude of variables, such as: Can we comfortably pay for this remodel? Is my family emotionally ready to deal with the disruption? Would it be easier or less expensive to move instead?

Next, get a cost estimate. Remodel cost calculators are available to give you an instant estimate. It's important to get an estimate early in the planning phase to give you plenty of time to arrange your finances, compare prices on everything from appliances to countertops to cabinetry, and make sure your kitchen remodel is as budget friendly as possible.

Make organization a top priority. You'll be dealing with a thousand tiny details, ranging from paint colors to cabinets to floor plans. Letting any one of these details fall through the cracks could mean extra expense and delays.

Bring in the experts for answers. You may find that talking with a real estate agent, interior designer, architect, mortgage banker, or remodeling contractor can help you understand the true costs and benefits of remodeling.

If you approach your kitchen remodel with an eye for cost-effectiveness and organization, not only will you have a gorgeous new space to cook in, you can even increase the value of your home.

Source: RemodelorMove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Heat Your Home the Natural Way

March 12, 2013 3:02 am

Wondering how to bring heating and related energy costs down while maintaining home comfort? In addition to plugging air leaks, the Alliance to Save Energy is encouraging homeowners to use sunlight as a cheap alternative to heating their home.

The Alliance provides the following tips for homeowners to heat their home for less this winter:

-Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.

-Let a programmable thermostat “remember for you” to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by up to 10 percent–and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.

-Keep furnace filters clean. Check and change your filter every month during heavy-use winter months to assist air flow so your system doesn't have to work harder to keep you warm.

-Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills and can often pay for itself in energy savings.

-Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The federal government’s ENERGY STAR website (www.energystar.gov) can help you find a qualified individual.

For more information, visit www.ase.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Drivers Going Through the Claims Process

March 12, 2013 3:02 am

When submitting a claim to an auto insurance company, one of the most important people in the process is the insurance adjuster. This is the person who handles most of the major aspects of the claims process, from examining the damage on a vehicle to determining fault. After filing a claim with an insurance company, the claims department will assign the claim to an adjuster. Expect to hear from an adjuster shortly after filing a claim, as he or she will be the main contact at the insurance company throughout the process. Getting to know the insurance adjuster’s role and what you should expect from the adjuster helps make the claims process go smoothly.

The adjuster’s job is to determine whether the person making a claim is owed payment under the insurance policy. The adjuster will:

• Take a statement from the claimant and any witnesses regarding the accident.
• Examine the damage to the car.
• Determine the current value of the car.
• Review all statements and police reports regarding the accident.
• Determine fault.
• Review injury claims.
• Determine what benefits apply, if any.
• Deal with the other party’s insurance company, if applicable.

These are just a few of the tasks the insurance adjuster must handle in order to ensure a properly and fairly processed claim. When a claim is being processed, expect to hear from the adjuster regularly. The adjuster’s contact phone number will be provided, should any questions or concerns arise or if you simply want to find out the status of a claim.

Your insurance adjuster should:

• Provide updates on the claim status.
• Address concerns regarding the claim.
• Represent the driver’s interests to the other insurance company if not at fault.
• Assist with all needs as covered in the policy, such as a rental car.
• Work toward a fair settlement and listen if any disagreement comes up with determinations, including fault and value of the car.

A good claims department should be one of the major factors in choosing an insurance company. When shopping around to compare car insurance rates, take a look at each company’s customer satisfaction ratings for claims processing. Good insurance adjusters are fair, work quickly and ensure everyone is satisfied. Don’t hesitate to question or voice concerns about a claim and if the adjuster is being unfair, ask to speak to someone in a senior position to address any concerns.

Source: InsuranceHotline.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Effective Home Employment

March 8, 2013 3:02 am

More and more U.S. employees are seeking opportunities to work from home, while many managers and business owners are still reluctant. Some middle managers may be fearful that allowing employees to work from home will adversely affect productivity. However, this does not necessarily have to be true. With the right practical advice, small business owners and contractors who work from home can make the best use of their time without letting their setting affect their workload.

Clear communication and well-understood expectations are essential for making home-based employment work. These five tips can aid those seeking to make home-based employment a smooth transition without a lapse in their work day.

1. Ensure you know what your employer’s expectations are: See to it that there are no unanswered questions about work hours, breaks, company equipment, and so forth.

2. Ensure that your results are communicated to your employer: Working long hours will not matter if your boss is not aware of what you accomplish.

3. Set up an effective work space: Make sure you have a work area that is free of distractions and is also comfortable and separate from the rest of your house.

4. Establish boundaries with your family and friends: Make sure they are aware of the demands of working from home.

5. Assess your progress on a regular basis: Record your achievements and mark your progress along the way. Make regular evaluations of your work habits.

Working from home is ultimately successful when it is treated like a job. In order to convince an employer you are serious about it, the bottom line is to behave in as professional a manner as possible.

Source: Jenkins Coaching

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Americans Expect Home Prices and Mortgage Rates to Increase

March 8, 2013 3:02 am

Consumer attitudes toward the economy and housing continue to diverge this winter, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2013 National Housing Survey results. On the one hand, consumers continue to express strong positive attitudes toward housing. On the other hand, sentiment about the economy and household finances is stalled. Average 12-month home price expectations and the share of consumers who believe home prices will go up over the next year both rose to record highs, and the percentage of Americans who say mortgage rates will rise reached its highest level since August 2011. At the same time, Americans’ views on their personal financial situation, household income, and the direction of the economy fell or remained flat.

“Despite fiscal headwinds and political uncertainty, consumer sentiment toward housing is robust and continues to gather strength,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, gradually reducing the population of underwater borrowers and helping to boost the share of consumers who say that now is a good time to sell."

“Since reaching its trough last September, the share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to rise has trended up,” continued Duncan. “However, despite historically low mortgage rates, nearly half of borrowers have never refinanced their mortgage. Combined with the scheduled year-end HARP deadline, rising rate expectations should prompt some borrowers to refinance soon to take advantage of more favorable mortgage terms and add to their disposable income, helping to offset ongoing fiscal drag.”

Survey Highlights


Homeownership and Renting

The average 12-month home price change expectation increased 0.5 percent over last month to 2.9 percent, the highest level since the survey’s inception.

At 48 percent, the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months also reached a survey high, while the share who believe home prices will go down held steady at the survey low of 10 percent.
The percentage who think mortgage rates will go up increased by 4 percentage points to 45 percent, the highest level since August 2011, while those who think they will go down held steady at 7 percent.
Twenty-five percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell a house, the highest level since the survey’s inception in June 2010.

At 3.9 percent, the average 12-month rental price change expectation increased 0.2 percent over January.
Fifty percent of those surveyed say home prices will go up in the next 12 months, holding steady from January at the highest level since the survey’s inception.

The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased by 2 percentage points to 67 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

At 38 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track has held steady over the past three months.

The percentage who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell by 2 percentage points to 41 percent.

Twenty-one percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month.

Thirty-one percent report significantly higher household expenses compared to 12 months ago, a 7 percentage point decrease and the lowest level since June 2010.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Six Sleep Tips for Making Daylight Savings A Smooth Transition for Children

March 8, 2013 3:02 am

Sunday, March 10 will mark the switch for many of us in Daylight Saving Time as we set the clocks forward by one hour. Many find this transition more challenging than its "fall back" counterpart because it feels like we're losing an hour of sleep as we adjust to an earlier wake time. However, we eventually make up for this temporary loss as we fall into an earlier bedtime and it all ends up evening out. Dr. Sasha Carr, Certified Child Sleep Expert and Founder of Off to Dreamland in Norwalk, Conn., offers six tips for making the transition as smooth as possible for the whole family.

1. If you have a young baby with multiple naps and feedings per day or your little one has extra challenges adjusting to changes due to special needs or a delicate temperament, make the change more gradual. Begin moving waking, naps, and bedtimes 15 or 30 minutes a few days ahead of the official time change and keep moving earlier every day or two until you're at a full hour ahead. Spread it out over a long weekend by starting on Thursday or Friday so that by Sunday or Monday your schedule now matches the new time on the clock.

2. If your child is older, napping just once or not at all, or has a very adaptable temperament, try the quick-and-simple-approach immediately switching to the new clock. However, make the switch on Friday night / Saturday morning rather than Sunday just to give everyone an extra weekend day to adjust to the change. This is especially helpful if your child is in school.

3. Adjust feeding or mealtimes and other scheduled activities along with sleep times, and be especially consistent with your usual routines during the adjustment phase. So, for example, if bath time is usually at 6:00 followed by bedtime at 7:00 and you're moving everything up 30 minutes that day ahead of the change, make sure that bath time is at 5:30.

4. Make an effort to expose everyone in the family, yourself included, to bright light early in the morning to help ease the transition to your earlier wake times. Likewise, try dimming the lights or drawing the curtains in the early evening to encourage the new earlier bedtimes.

5. As we head into spring and summer and the sun shows up earlier in the morning and sticks around longer into the evening the further north you live, remember to keep your child's sleeping environment dark using blackout shades or heavy curtains in order avoid having a "little rooster" who arises at dawn.

6. If you happen to already have a little early riser, especially a baby or toddler who is not in daycare and whose daily schedule you can control, now may be your chance to make a change. Try shifting everything, including feeding or mealtimes, only 30 minutes back instead of the full hour. This way their wake time, feeding times and bedtime will all happen 30 minutes later on the clock after the time change.

Source: Dr. Sasha Carr, Family Sleep Institute/Off to Dreamland

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Families Are Making Mealtime a Top Priority

March 7, 2013 3:02 am

In honor of National Nutrition Month, a positive step toward healthier habits at home may simply involve pulling up a chair at the kitchen table. Research shows that families who regularly eat together are more likely to consume more fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods. What is surprising is how frequently family meals are actually happening. A new study shows that American families are stronger than ever - making time to eat together, talk to one another, and enjoy spending time together at meals.

While many may think the traditional ideal of a family gathered for dinner is a memory of a bygone era, Welch's Kitchen Table Report found that 71 percent of respondents say their families eat dinner together as often as or more today than their families did when they were children. Moreover, 84 percent of respondents say that one of their favorite parts of the day is when their family eats together.

"Parents are making mealtimes a priority in order to share a moment with their children," commented registered dietitian and Welch's Health and Nutrition Advisory Panel member, Sarah-Jane Bedwell. "That's good news because research has shown an association between regular family meals and improved family nutrition."

Despite all this good news, the modern American family still faces challenges that impact family mealtime. Four-in-ten survey respondents cite the lack of time to cook meals, especially healthy meals, as a top barrier to family mealtimes.

"There are easy solutions to combat the common obstacles facing families at mealtime," shares Casey Lewis, a registered dietitian and Welch's Health and Nutrition Lead.

To view the full survey or for family-friendly meal plans, heart-healthy recipes, and meal makeovers, visit http://www.welchs.com/health-and-nutrition/kitchen-table-report.

Source: Welchs

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Relative Size of Homes May Affect Overall Property Values

March 7, 2013 3:02 am

The size of a property relative to the average sized property in its neighborhood may affect its sale price, according to an article published this week in The Appraisal Journal.

The Appraisal Journal is the quarterly technical and academic publication of the Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. The materials presented in the publication represent the opinions and views of the authors and not necessarily those of the Appraisal Institute.

“The Impact of Relative Size on Home Values,” by Paul K. Asabere, Ph.D., and Forrest E. Huffman, Ph.D., examines the impact on pricing of the relative size of houses. Relative size impact refers to the effect on home values of house size relative to the average size of properties in the same neighborhood. Unlike absolute size, which is a property characteristic, relative size is a type of neighborhood effect.

In the study, the authors expand on previous research by developing new measures of the effect of relative house size and the pricing effects of relative size. The research uses standard regression analysis and a database of 5,996 home sales in 412 subdivisions in the San Antonio area over a one-year period from April 2001 through March 2002.

The study shows that larger houses sell at discounts while smaller houses carry premiums relative to the average house size within the same neighborhood. Houses that were larger relative to the average-sized homes in the neighborhood sold at an 11 percent discount while the homes that were smaller relative to the average home sold at a 4.7 percent premium.

Source: Appraisal Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Price Index Rises by Almost 10 Percent Year Over Year in January

March 7, 2013 3:02 am

CoreLogic® recently released its January CoreLogic HPI® report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.7 percent in January 2013 compared to January 2012. This change represents the biggest increase since April 2006 and the eleventh consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 0.7 percent in January 2013 compared to December 2012.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.0 percent in January 2013 compared to January 2012. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 1.8 percent in January 2013 compared to December 2012. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that February 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 9.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from February 2012 and fall by 0.3 percent on a month-over-month basis from January 2013, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown. Excluding distressed sales, February 2013 home prices are poised to rise 11.3 percent year over year from February 2012 and by 1.8 percent month over month from January 2013. The CoreLogic Pending HPI is a proprietary and exclusive metric that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. It is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month.

“The HPI showed strong growth during the typically slow winter season,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “With these gains, the housing market is poised to enter the spring selling season on sound footing. The improvements are materializing across the country, with all but Delaware and Illinois showing increasing HPI and 15 states within 10 percent of their peak values.”

“Home prices continued to gather steam across a broad swath of the country in January, continuing the positive trend we saw during most of 2012,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Many states across the western U.S. and along the East Coast saw average price gains of more than 6 percent, which is likely to boost home sale activity into the first half of 2013.”

Highlights as of January 2013:

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+20.1 percent), Nevada (+17.4 percent), Idaho (+14.9 percent), California (+14.1 percent) and Hawaii (+14.0 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+17.5 percent), Arizona (+16.5 percent), California (+14.5 percent), Hawaii (+13.9 percent) and Idaho (+13.2 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in January.

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to January 2013) was -26.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -19.9 percent.

• The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-51.6 percent), Florida (-43.0 percent), Arizona (-38.9 percent), Michigan (-37.4 percent) and Rhode Island (-35.5 percent).

• Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 92 are showing year-over-year increases in January, up from 87 in December.

Source: CoreLogic

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Making the Case against Receiving a Federal Income Tax Refund

March 6, 2013 3:02 am

Millions of Americans celebrate receiving an income tax refund each year. Many of these same people live each month under the burden of financial hardship, struggling to make ends meet, often falling behind on living expenses and debt obligations.

The February poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that a significant majority of respondents, 58 percent, intentionally plan to always receive an income tax refund, unnecessarily allowing Uncle Sam the use of their hard-earned money, only to have it returned to them without benefit of interest.

“Not only is the American taxpayer self-inflicting financial pain, they are doing so with intentionality,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “It boils down to a simple choice of determining if it’s more important to have extra money in their pocket each month or once per year.”

The average income tax refund in recent years has been in the $3,000 range, or approximately $250 per month. For many people, that amount can mean the difference between financial solvency and financial distress, yet they continue to have too much money deducted from their paycheck month after month. Further, although well-meaning, many who receive the refund don’t spend it wisely, and even for those who do, once the money is gone, the cycle of struggling to responsibly pay monthly bills begins all over again.

Many consumers argue in favor of an income tax refund saying that it is a forced savings. That is correct, but there is a better way to save. The NFCC advises consumers to implement the following three-step program when they receive this year’s refund:

1. Put this year’s refund into an interest bearing savings account. Upon receipt of the refund, seize the opportunity to establish an emergency savings account. This will protect against the financial unknown and create a position of financial stability.

2. Adjust W-4 withholding allowances. Although receiving a refund is not a good idea, no one wants to end up owing the government, either. To determine the correct number of withholding allowances, use the worksheet at www.IRS.gov, then submit the revised form to your employer. Know that changes such as the birth of a child, a death, or divorce may impact the number of necessary deductions, thus requiring further revisions. An adjusted form may be submitted at any time during the year.

3. Responsibly allocate additional monthly income as appropriate. Now that the money that was going to the government is coming to the consumer in the form of a larger paycheck, it is his or her responsibility to make smart decisions regarding how to spend it. Make it a priority to keep living expenses, the rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance premiums current. The next most important payment is any secured loan, for instance a vehicle payment, followed by unsecured debt such as credit cards. If the savings account has been tapped, replenish it. This system stops the dependency on an income tax refund, establishes savings, and provides additional money each month in order to remain financially stable.

“Since worker’s paychecks are smaller this year due to the Social Security deduction having been increased to its former level, it becomes even more critical that consumers find ways to increase their disposable income. For those receiving a refund, adjusting withholding allowances is an easy and effective way to put more money into their pockets each month,” continued Cunningham.

The actual poll question and answer choices are below:

Regarding income tax refunds:

A. I intentionally plan to always receive a refund each year = 58%
B. I intentionally plan to never receive a refund = 29%
C. I have not given it any thought = 13%

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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