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

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Towards Homeownership, Design and Function

February 13, 2012 3:34 am

Better Homes and Gardens magazine recently released proprietary research and insights into the ideas, inspirations, and strategies driving consumers as they consider the function, style and efficiency of their homes.

In a presentation given at the International Builders Show, Jill Waage, editorial director for Home Content for Better Homes and Gardens revealed survey results about consumer attitudes towards home ownership, upkeep and renovations, design and personalization, and more. A primary point revealed in the presentation shows that, despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumer thoughts toward homeownership remain strong with 8 in 10 saying home ownership is still a good investment and an important part of the American Dream. The BHG survey also found that consumers are more proactive in designing and curating their homes and, in fact, are spending more time planning design changes for the home (up to 38% from 33% the year prior).

Among the survey's key findings:
• Owning a home is still an important part of the American Dream (According to 8 in 10 surveyed).
• Consumers are taking more time to plan for home improvement projects (39% in 2011 compared to 33% in 2010) and are shopping around for more deals and bargains before committing to home improvement plans (42% in 2011 compared to 40% in 2010).

• Consumers find it more important than ever to get the most value out of every dollar (61% in 2011, up from 56% in 2010), and will spend more time looking for bargains and deals in order to get the most value for their money (Up to 54% in 2011, from 52% in 2010).
• Consumers are more willing to get rid of excess "stuff" and not willing to mortgage for more storage space. Multi-purpose rooms are a necessity in the home. Consumers aren't interested in "bonus rooms" or "media rooms" unless they have a multi-functional purpose.
• Style upgrades claim even greater prominence as being the most important feature in consumers' upcoming home improvement plans, followed by storage. For future projects, style upgrades on countertops, flooring, faucets and fixtures is up to 55% in 2011 from 50% in 2010. Expanded/improved storage space stayed flat at 39% in 2011, same as in 2010.
• In terms of remodeling priorities for consumers, baths are outpacing kitchens. Bathroom remodeling stayed constant in 2011 and 2010 (31%) and kitchen remodeling was stable at 25% in 2011, compared to 24% in 2010.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Keep Children Safe at Home

February 13, 2012 3:34 am

While some safety measures around the house are routine, there are some potential hazards that could be dangerous for young children. According to information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 1990, more than 200 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords. With this in mind, here are a few tips provided by the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) reminding parents to practice window cord safety and to make safety a priority in the home: 

• Install only cordless window coverings in homes with young children. Replace window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with today's safer products.
• Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
• Make sure cribs are properly assembled and meet current safety standards, and that crib mattresses fit snugly.
• Keep all window pull cords and inner lift cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short and continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall. Make sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner lift cords.
• Lock cords into position whenever horizontal blinds or shades are lowered, including when they come to rest on a windowsill.

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Enhancing Family Time at Home

February 10, 2012 3:30 am

Today’s technology-centric, fast-paced culture often leaves little time for family bonding. However, building family ties and a sense of security at home is needed more than ever given the upheaval generated by current events around the world.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much time or effort to foster a bit of family bonding, yet the impact is significant and lasting. “Family activities that make the ordinary day special build memories that can last a lifetime,” says family counselor Jeanne Richards. She suggests trying the following fun ideas to start strengthening family ties.
  • Family game night – One night a week, turn off everything electronic in favor of family game night. Even the youngest children can participate in simple board games. Once in a while, try Charades or Pictionary to keep the evenings lively.
  • Family dinner night – Whether it’s pizza, pasta or simple sandwiches, plan weekly or monthly evenings when the whole family can work together in the kitchen to prepare a shared meal. Be sure someone is responsible for a simple dessert like cupcakes, cookies or brownies.
  • Movie night – If board games bore you, choose a movie the family can watch at home together. Pop some popcorn and/or pack up individual “goodie bags” that everyone can enjoy.
  • Wilderness walks – As weather permits, take a nature walk together. Identify plants and animals. Help the youngest kids collect pine cones or shells, or even leaves from which they can make collages.
  • Craft night – Children can make tons of things out of simple things like beads, feathers, pasta, glue and string. Add some paints and colored paper and let everyone’s imaginations take hold.
  • Check the library – Most public libraries schedule regular shows and special events, many of them free of charge. Check the program and choose one or two events the family can attend together.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Selling Your Home? Start at the Top

February 10, 2012 3:30 am

In today’s competitive real estate market, many homeowners go to great lengths to help their home stand out from the competition, from staging to landscaping to replacing windows. An important place to start, however, is at the top. Does your roof add or subtract from the salability of your home?

Any signs of aging or staining will alert a buyer to a potential "leaky roof" issue and/or mold in your attic...and nothing scares away a buyer quicker than mold. Following are some tips for making sure your roof is in showing condition, courtesy of GAF, a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing.
  1. One of the first things a prospective buyer notices, a home's roof can represent 40 percent or more of your home's curb appeal, so make sure it is cleaned before putting your home on the market. Nothing turns a buyer away faster than a black or dirty looking roof. Get rid of any black staining or signs of debris on the roof.
  2. Head into your attic and look for signs of a leaky roof. This is the best spot for noticing water damage. Have any leaks repaired right away. Even if leaks go unnoticed by a buyer, they will be discovered by the home inspector and cost you more money to fix quickly or could potentially lead to losing the sale all together.
  3. Investigate your roof for missing granules on shingles, curling on the edges of shingles or shingles that have come loose. Again, it is best to make these repairs quickly before heading into the sales process.
  4. Make sure to keep records of all repairs/enhancements made to your roof prior to your home’s sale. Have your real estate agent add these details to the listing information. A sound, attractive roof can be just the competitive differentiation your home needs.

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Keeping Your New Home Environmentally Sound

February 10, 2012 3:30 am

While the focus is often on redecorating and buying new furniture when moving into your new home, there are several steps you should take to ensure your home’s environment is safe and comfortable, in addition to aesthetically pleasing.

According to contractor Danny Lipford and Honeywell Home Environment, the following simple strategies will protect your home and its occupants for years to come…and save you money in the process.
  • Choosing the Right Supplies. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful gases that can be emitted by some paints, solvents, cleaners, adhesives, furniture, and shelving. Try to find products with low or no VOC levels. When using products that contain high levels of VOCs, open windows or, better yet, turn on an air purifier that has a VOC pre-filter to help remove VOCs from the air that passes through the unit.
  • Pay Attention to the Temperature. Set back your thermostat about 10 degrees when you’re away from home for eight hours or more. You could shave as much as 10 percent off your energy bill without sacrificing comfort. Many of today’s thermostats can be programmed to adjust during the day and at night while you’re sleeping. When you are at home, try turning down the thermostat a few degrees and use a portable heater in the rooms you are in the most.
  • Watch Humidity Levels. A too-dry environment is not only bad for your family’s health, but for your home itself. Humidifiers offer solutions during dry winter months or in dry climates to help protect valuable wood furniture from drying out and cracking and prevent wood floors from buckling and separating.
  • Fight Dust. Pollutants like dust and mold that settle in the home can be attributed to poor air circulation. A whole room fan should be used to ventilate the home properly. Look for models that have a wide ventilation range and are also quiet.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 10 Moving Destinations Reveal Sunny Trend

February 9, 2012 3:30 am

Americans are following the sun, according to Penske Truck Rental’s second annual “Move Ahead” ranking of top moving destinations. Similar to the firm’s 2010 findings, warm locales top the list of top relocation spots.
  1. Atlanta
  2. Phoenix
  3. Orlando, Fla.
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth
  5. Chicago
  6. Houston
  7. Denver
  8. Seattle
  9. Sarasota, Fla.
  10. Charlotte, N.C.
Atlanta once again tops the list as market destination of choice and no region moved up or down more than two positions, with Dallas/Fort Worth jumping up two, from fourth to second. Half the list (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Sarasota, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.,) remained in identical positions.

The Penske list is compiled through online consumer truck rental reservations and through the firm’s call centers.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Like a Color? Just 'Chip It'

February 9, 2012 3:30 am

Next time you’re surfing the Web and come across a color that moves you, capture it and replicate it with a new interactive tool from Sherwin-Williams: “Chip It!”

This innovative Web-based tool allows consumers to select any online image and instantly identify the Sherwin-Williams paint colors that correspond to the colors contained within the picture. This allows consumers to identify the colors that inspire them while browsing the Internet in order to use them for their own decorating purposes.

To get started, consumers create a profile at www.letschipit.com and then add the Chip It! bookmarklet to their Internet browser toolbar. This bookmarklet allows users to identify up to ten Sherwin-Williams paint colors represented in online photos simply by scrolling over the image. From there, consumers can add the photo and corresponding color palette to their Chip It profile, share the creation socially or print it out.

"We know that finding the right color is the biggest roadblock for consumers when they are ready to paint a room – they want it to be right the first time," says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "Consumers seek inspiration from a wide range of places. We want to help them take that inspiration and turn it into a reality."

For more information, visit www.letschipit.com.

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HUD Adds 31.5 Million Dollars in Funding for Very Low-Income Seniors

February 9, 2012 3:30 am

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced the addition of $31.5 million in funding aimed at providing very low-income senior citizens with access to affordable housing. The funding is designed to help non-profit organizations in five states produce additional accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services for the elderly.

The capital advances and rental subsidies are provided through HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly. Section 202 grants provide very low-income elderly persons 62 years of age or older with the opportunity to live independently in an environment that provides support services to meet their unique needs. In addition to funding the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of multifamily developments, HUD’s Section 202 program also provides millions of dollars in rental assistance so that residents in selected developments only pay 30 percent of their adjusted incomes.

HUD provides Section 202 funds to non-profit organizations in two forms:
  • Capital Advances. This is funding that covers the cost of developing, acquiring, or rehabilitating the development. Repayment is not required as long as the housing remains available for occupancy by very low-income elderly persons for at least 40 years.
  • Project Rental Assistance Contracts. This is funding that goes to each development to cover the difference between the residents’ contributions toward rent and the cost of operating the project.
Residents must be “very low income” with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area. However, most households that receive Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area. Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $13,500.

Source: hud.gov

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6 Tips for Fighting Winter Weight Gain in Pets

February 8, 2012 9:30 am

Winter weight gain is an all too common struggle, and not just for humans. Weight gain in dogs and cats is more prevalent in the winter as well. When a dog that's used to getting a daily walk around the neighborhood is now only running outside for speedy breaks – or a cat that's accustomed to a romp around the yard is now reluctant to spending time outdoors – it naturally follows that the food they've consumed is not being burned as energy. Plus, when colder temperatures set in, activity levels drop, metabolisms slow, and hibernation mode sets in. It's the age-old evolutionary method for preservation.
To help pet parents keep winter weight gain at bay, petMD.com offers the following tips:
  • Create an exercise plan. This can include brisk walks, weather permitting, or activities like fetch modified for indoor play.
  • If getting enough activity may prove troublesome, consider cutting back on calories. This can mean cutting back on treats or decreasing the amount of kibble doled out. If you're worried about your pet feeling deprived, add fresh vegetables into the mix. Carrots make a great treat substitute.
  • Visit your veterinarian at the start of winter to get an accurate picture of your pet's current health. It is easier to maintain if you know what you're starting with.
  • If your pet is on the heavier side, or has a history of weight issues, continue to see your veterinarian once a month for a check-up to make sure the weight is not creeping on.
  • Learn the signs indicative of a pet being overweight or obese. The two areas it is easiest to spot weight gain in are the spine and the ribs.
  • If weight gain still does occur, consult your veterinarian for a cat or dog weight loss plan. You do not want to cut back drastically on food without a veterinary opinion.
The most important thing for pet parents to remember is that prevention is key. Stopping winter weight gain from occurring is much easier than helping your pet lose weight.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Survey Shows Jump in Student Loan Debtors Seeking Help

February 8, 2012 9:30 am

With student loan debt now topping U.S. credit card debt and few or no options available for distressed borrowers (including parents who co-signed loans and now face the loss of nest eggs, retirement homes and other assets), America faces the very real possibility of another major economic threat, according to a new survey and report from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA).

The NACBA survey of 860 bankruptcy attorneys nationwide found that:
  • More than four out of five bankruptcy attorneys (81 percent) say that potential clients with student loan debt have increased "significantly" or "somewhat" in the last three-four years. Overall, about half (48 percent) of bankruptcy attorneys reported significant increases in such potential clients.
  • Nearly two out of five bankruptcy attorneys (39 percent) have seen potential student loan client cases jump 25-50 percent in the last three-four years. An additional quarter (23 percent) of bankruptcy attorneys have seen such cases jump by 50 percent to more than 100 percent.
  • Most bankruptcy attorneys (95 percent) report that few student loan debtors are seen as having any chance of obtaining a discharge as a result of undue hardship.
  • More than four out of five bankruptcy attorneys (82 percent) see the limited availability of student loan discharge in bankruptcy as "a big problem" barring a fresh start for clients.
  • Seven out of 10 bankruptcy attorneys see the lack of ability to separately classify student loan debts for debtors using chapter 13 as a "big problem."
  • Nearly two out of three bankruptcy attorneys (65 percent) say that student loan provider debt collections have become "much more" or "somewhat more" aggressive in the last 18 months.
  • More than three out of five bankruptcy attorneys (61 percent) dealing with potential student loan debtor clients have seen cases of debts more than 15 years old still being pursued.
  • Titled "Student Loan 'Debt Bomb': America's Next Mortgage-Style Economic Crisis," the companion NACBA paper points out:
  • College seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $25,250, up five percent from the previous year. Borrowing has grown far more quickly for those in the 35-49 age group, with school debt burden increasing by a staggering 47 percent.
  • Students are not alone in borrowing at record rates, so too are their parents. Loans to parents for the college education of children have jumped 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year. Parents have an average of $34,000 in student loans and that figure rises to about $50,000 over a standard 10-year loan repayment period. An estimated 17 percent of parents whose children graduated in 2010 took out loans, up from 5.6 percent in 1992-1993.
  • Of the Class of 2005, borrowers who began repayments the year they graduated, one analysis found 25 percent became delinquent at some point and 15 percent defaulted. The Chronicle of Education puts the default rate on government loans at 20 percent.
During January 2012, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) invited more than 4,500 of its members to participate in an online survey. With 860 completed responses tallied, the online survey attracted a high percentage (19 percent) of potential respondents. The full survey questions and responses are set out in the survey report at http://www.nacba.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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