RE/MAX 440
Faye Riccitelli
friccitelli@remax440.com
Faye Riccitelli
423 North Main Street
Doylestown  PA 18901
PH: 267-221-6840
O: 215-348-7100
TF: 800-360-7100
F: 267-354-6949 
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Conduct a Safety Assessment in Your New Home

October 4, 2014 5:55 pm

Moving into a new home can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Amid unpacking boxes and getting organized, set aside time to walk through your home and evaluate features that impact security. Keep these three areas in mind during your your assessment.

Doors
– All deadbolts should be inspected immediately upon arrival. Ensure that the bolt is made of steel or other durable material, and at least one inch in the length to deter intruders. In addition, check that exterior entryways are protected with solid core doors, rather than the hollow version found in a home’s interior.

Lighting
– More is better than less when it comes to outdoor lighting. Alert you and your family before an incident occurs by installing motion sensor lights along walkways and near the corners of your home.

Plantings – Overgrown shrubs provide the ideal hiding spot for criminals. Prune plantings regularly around access points, such as windows and doors. Alternatively, plant thorny bushes to eliminate the hiding spot altogether.

Source: Safewise

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Ways to Save this Halloween

October 4, 2014 5:55 pm

(Family Features) As many families with small children know, Halloween is a highly anticipated holiday packed with clever costumes, yummy candies and spirited parties.

But for many parents, the costs associated with this much-loved occasion can be downright frightful. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of $72 on Halloween this year, which comes to $7 billion in spending nationwide. With so many ghoulish get-togethers taking place, many parents are looking for ways to stretch their dollars without missing out on any of the fun.

Enjoy more thrills this season with these money-saving tips.

Choose costumes with options. Going to several Halloween parties, but don't want to spend money on extra costumes? Check out costumes that serve a dual purpose, or choose one costume that can be re-used with different accessories.

Save on ghostly gatherings. There are many ways to celebrate without emptying your pocketbook. Invite friends over for a Halloween potluck and encourage each guest to bring a dish to share with a spooky name. Rent or download classic horror films for an after-dinner movie marathon everyone will enjoy.

Shop from home. Save time and avoid the headache of running around town looking for the perfect costume by shopping online. Buy from retailers that allow shoppers to browse and purchase online, and then pick up in-store for no additional fee.

Trick or treat locally. Many parents spend Halloween evening carting children around to various locations across town. Save gas money by only allowing your little goblins to trick or treat within your neighborhood. This will help you get to know your neighbors and get a little exercise in, too.

Source: Kmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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FICO 9 Changes Could Impact Credit Score

October 4, 2014 5:55 pm

With the rollout of FICO’s updated scoring system slated for the near future, it’s important for consumers to continue to practice good credit habits. The Better Business Bureau advises that FICO 9 will result in these three changes, which may impact your credit score.

1. Lack of credit history will be a non-factor. FICO 9’s new algorithm assesses loan risk instead of history, eliminating challenges for young adults or those with little to no credit.

2. Medical debts will hold less weight. Incurring debt from a medical circumstance is often unavoidable. Once FICO 9 goes into effect, experts estimate that those with medical debt and an otherwise good credit history will see a 25-point increase in their score.

3. Collected debt will not be heavily evaluated. Debts paid to a collections agency will have much less of an impact thanks to a forgiveness policy that could result in the addition of 100 points or more to your score.

Source: BBB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Safety Resources

October 1, 2014 1:31 am

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time when Internet users should implement preventative measures to ensure online safety. Whether you want to protect yourself, your family or your business, consult these resources for information on how to stay safe this month and beyond.

Department of Homeland Security
– DHS.gov/stopthinkconnect

Federal Trade Commission – OnGuardOnline.gov

Federal Communications Commission – FCC.gov/cyberforsmallbiz

Better Business Bureau – BBB.org/data-security/

National Fraud Information Center (National Consumers League)
– Fraud.org

National Cyber Security Alliance – StaySafeOnline.org

Microsoft – Microsoft.com/security/saferonline

Source: StaySafeOnline.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Insurance Options for Renters

October 1, 2014 1:31 am

The number of renters has grown dramatically in some of the most populous U.S. cities, yet few renters actually purchase insurance. Thirty-seven percent of renters have renters insurance, paling in comparison to the 95 percent of homeowners who have a homeowners insurance policy, according to a survey by the Insurance Information Institute.

“Renters insurance provides a very important financial safety net when there is a disaster,” points out Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer for the Institute. “And, renters insurance is relatively inexpensive—the average cost of a renter’s policy is only $187 per year, or less than four dollars per week. Many renters are under the misperception that their landlord’s insurance policy will reimburse them if their personal property is damaged or destroyed, but that’s just not the case,” says Salvatore. “Fortunately, renters have a range of insurance options to choose from.”

The following types of policies are available to renters.

Renters/Tenants Insurance
Renters insurance provides financial protection against damage to or loss of personal possessions due to hurricanes, fire, lightning, theft, explosion and other disasters listed in the policy. There is even coverage for water damage caused by burst pipes or a neighbor who forgets to shut off the water in the tub. Coverage is available on either an actual cash value basis (depreciated value) or for its replacement cost (no deduction for depreciation).

Renters insurance also provides coverage for additional living expenses, in the event you are unable to live in your home due to a fire or other insured disaster. It also includes liability insurance if you, a family member (or even your pet) accidently injure someone and they sue you.

Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurance companies. It provides coverage for personal possessions on an actual cash value basis, generally up to about $100,000. Excess Flood Insurance is also available if a renter would like more coverage than is in the NFIP policy or if federal flood insurance is not available in their community.

Earthquake Coverage
Renters can purchase insurance for damage to their personal possessions due to earthquakes from private insurance companies or in California from the California Earthquake Authority. Coverage is available either in the form of an endorsement or as a separate policy. Earthquake insurance provides protection from the shaking and cracking that can destroy buildings and personal possessions. Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is provided by a standard renters insurance policy.

Umbrella Liability
An umbrella liability policy can be a cost-effective option for increasing your level of liability protection. The policy kicks in when the limit on your renters insurance has been reached. It will also provide coverage for libel and slander. Umbrella policies generally cost about $150 to $300 per year and will also provide additional liability protection if you own a car, boat and even a snowmobile. Because the personal umbrella policy goes into effect after the underlying coverage is exhausted, most insurers will require specific underlying limits on your policies. For instance, you may be required to have $300,000 of liability insurance on your renters insurance policy and at least $250,000 on an auto insurance policy.

Floater or Endorsement for Expensive Items
If you own expensive jewelry, collectibles, musical instruments or even high-end sports equipment, you may want to add a floater or endorsement to your renters policy. This would provide broader coverage for risks such as “mysterious disappearance.” So even if you lose the item, you would be covered.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Ways to Improve Your Home's Air Quality

October 1, 2014 1:31 am

With cooler weather on the horizon, homeowners everywhere are preparing with maintenance tasks in and out of the home. While working on these projects, remember to address your home’s indoor air quality, especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time inside once winter weather kicks in.

Refresh the air in your home with these 10 tips.

1. Vacuum frequently
– Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstered furniture twice a week to eliminate airborne allergens.

2. Add houseplants – Plants naturally produce oxygen, a process which removes carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air.

3. Clean green – Chemicals from cleaners can be released into your home and be detrimental to the health of you and your family. Swap toxic products for organic cleaning supplies or homemade, natural cleaners, such as vinegar, that are just as effective.

4. Cut cigarette smoke – Quitting is the only way to eradicate second-hand smoke pollutants, but if quitting isn’t an option, you can minimize its effects by sending smokers outside and away from windows and doors.

5. Purify your air
– Especially helpful in bedrooms, air purifiers clear the air of toxins lingering around your home. Select one based on the type of purification needed and the size of the room it will be used in.

6. Replace your HVAC filter – Furnaces and air conditioners only work well if they are properly maintained. Change out the filter regularly to keep the air circulating through these devices clean.

7. Conduct radon testing
– Every year, pick up a radon testing kit at any hardware store and test for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer.

8. Test your smoke detectors – If you don’t already, be sure you have detectors installed in every bedroom and hallway. Test the batteries frequently and heed detector warnings signaling a low battery.

9. Install carbon monoxide detectors – For maximum protection against carbon monoxide, install detectors near the kitchen and in hallways outside of bedrooms.

10. Create natural air cleansers – Instead of relying on spray fresheners or candles, diffuse pure essential oils to produce a fresh scent.

Source: Homes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Medication Safety Tips for Cold and Flu Sufferers

September 30, 2014 1:31 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cold and flu season will pick up this October and peak between January and March next year. Each year, Americans catch approximately 1 billion colds, and seven in 10 consumers will turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat symptoms.

As the countdown to cold and flu season begins, the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition (AAC) advises consumers to stay safe when recuperating by reading medicine labels carefully to avoid doubling up on medicines with acetaminophen, the most common drug ingredient in America.

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 different medicines, including prescription and OTC pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids and numerous medicines for cough, cold and flu. It is safe and effective when used as directed, but there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.

When treating symptoms during the upcoming cold and flu season, follow these safety guidelines:
1. Always read and follow the medicine label.
2. Know if medicines contain acetaminophen, which is in bold type or highlighted in the "active ingredients" section of OTC medicine labels and sometimes listed as "APAP" or "acetam" on prescription labels.
3. Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time.
4. Ask your healthcare provider or a pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.
Source: AAC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Rising Incomes to Support Housing Market in 2015

September 30, 2014 1:31 am

The U.S. economy is showing renewed vigor and is poised for a pickup in growth, according to a recent report by TD Economics, an affiliate of TD Bank.

"Job growth is gaining speed and confidence is rising," says TD Chief Economist, Craig Alexander. "The strength in job growth will support consumer spending and energize housing demand, shifting the economy into third gear."

After averaging 2.2 percent in 2014, the economy is forecasted to grow by 3 percent in 2015. With faster growth, the unemployment rate will continue to fall, reaching 5.5 percent by the end of next year.

Stronger job and income growth will support the housing market. "The dearth of new household formations is strongly related to the lack of job opportunities among young people," says Alexander. "As employment rises, the housing recovery should also pick up speed as these first-time buyers come back into the market."

Between January and August, the economy generated over 1.7 million jobs, nearly 300,000 more than the average over the previous three years. The acceleration in job growth has been accompanied by broader signs of labor market improvement. Businesses are reporting high levels of job openings and increasing confidence in the durability of the economic recovery.

With the expected improvement in growth over the next year, the economy is likely to have shown sufficient progress for the Federal Reserve to begin raising short-term rates.

"After almost seven years of zero interest rates, the recovery in 2015 will have finally moved to a stage where rates can begin to move higher," says Alexander. "But, this will occur gradually."

TD Economics expects the Federal Reserve to begin its rate hiking cycle mid next year and bring the fed funds rate up to 0.75 percent by the end of the year. By the end of 2016, the fed funds rate will likely only be at 1.75 percent – still high enough to stimulate the economy.

Source: TD Economics

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What to Consider before Borrowing Home Equity

September 30, 2014 1:31 am

In the first quarter of 2014, lenders approved $13 billion in home equity loans and lines of credit (HELOCs). Economic conditions have continued to improve, as the recession fueled by underwater mortgages gives way to rising home values across the country.

While this shift signals the beginning of a renewed confidence in borrowing against a home’s equity, homeowners should tread carefully. If you’re considering borrowing, keep in mind these facts.
- With fixed interest rates and payments, home equity loans may be a safer option. HELOCs have variable rates, so an increase may be detrimental to your payment plan.

- Lenders still require adequate income and credit, and most will set a maximum limit of 80 to 85 percent of the home’s value.

- Debtor habits can spell disaster for those who borrow equity against their home. Don’t borrow for unnecessary expenses, such as vacations.

- Homeowners should work toward paying back the loan quickly; however, it is acceptable to extend the life of the loan if making an investment in the home, such as a kitchen renovation.
Source: Bankrate.com

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Support Healthy Eyesight with Optimal Foods

September 29, 2014 1:31 am

According to a recent survey conducted by DSM Nutritional Products, 83 percent of adults in the U.S. believe worsening eye health is inevitable with age. What many don’t realize is that there’s a connection between healthy eyes and proper nutrition, and it goes beyond eating carrots.

“Incorporating certain nutrients into the diet can support a lifetime of healthy vision and help protect against serious conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” says Dr. Kimberly Reed, optometrist and Ocular Nutrition Society board member. “The latter affects more than 2 million Americans and can lead to severe visual impairment.”

Studies have found that the typical American diet lacks the nutrients people need and many adults struggle to get the recommended amounts from food alone. Just 10 percent of adults are getting nutrients crucial to eye health – lutein and zeaxanthin.

The survey also found that many Americans aren’t focused on maintaining their eyesight. In fact, if given the opportunity, nearly a third of adults would take a material luxury item over a lifetime of perfect vision, and more than 1 in 5 Americans are more concerned with maintaining their youthful appearance than healthy eyesight.

According to Reed, one essential way to maintain eye health throughout life is to focus on a diet packed with the nutrients known to support eye health, including:
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Colorful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges, and tangerines
  • Omega-3 (DHA/EPA): Fatty fish, including salmon and herring, fish oil, and algae
  • Vitamin E: Oils, wheat germ, almonds and peanuts
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and berries
  • Zinc: Beef, pumpkin seeds and lentils
“It is difficult to obtain all of the nutrients that support eye health from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author. “To fill in the gaps, consider adding a supplement specifically formulated for eye health and vision to your diet.”

Source: VitaminsinMotion.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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