June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
jcroissette@remax440.com

My Blog

New Home Sales Hit Two-Year High

November 2, 2012 6:38 am

If you think housing news is full of nothing but doom and gloom these days, think again. There's actually a lot of great news on the housing front – new home sales hit a two-year high in September!

And, don't worry, this isn't one of those fraction-of-a-percent increases that doesn't seem like a whole lot to get excited about. Instead, the number of brand new homes sold around the country went up 5.7 percent when compared to August. Even better, they went up a whopping 27 percent since September 2011.

Want some more good news? The median price of those homes went up, too – all the way to $242,400. That's almost 12 percent higher than it was this time last year. In fact, the sales numbers are the highest they have been since April 2010. And back then, sales were up because people were taking advantage of the homebuyer tax credits that were about to expire.

This time around, though, there's no tax break to spring people into action. So, what's behind the increase?

Low interest rates

This reason shouldn't come as much of a surprise though, as mortgage rates have been hovering at or right above record lows all year long. As was expected, mortgage rates continued to drop in September. In fact, before the end of the month, the average rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage was 3.49 percent (a record low), and the average rate on a fixed 15-year mortgage was all the way down to 2.77 percent (another record low). When you combine that with the appeal of a shiny, brand new house, it was simply too much for some buyers to turn down.

Fewer foreclosures
In the months leading up to September's better numbers, a majority of the country saw fewer foreclosures. Specifically, during the third quarter (which runs from July 1st to September 30th), foreclosure activity was down in 62 percent of U.S. cities. In fact, in some of America's biggest cities – including Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego – foreclosures have dropped more than 25 percent over the past year. With fewer bargain-basement foreclosure homes to choose from, buyers had to look at more traditional options. In the end, they wound up buying new homes.

Source: RealtyPin

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Natural Food Brands on the Rise

November 1, 2012 6:36 am

Natural raw organic foods are on the rise in the U.S. According to Super Market News, recent information released at the Canaccord Genuity Global Growth Conference indicates a growing and prosperous healthy food industry in the United States. Whole Foods Market, which recently announced plans to triple its number of natural food store locations, boasted a 36 percent gross margin over the last two quarters. General Mills announced that 68 percent of its retail products have been made healthier this year, touting reduced sodium and more whole grains, and Annie’s, an organic snack food line, released plans for two new products set to launch in early 2013. Natural food producer Wholesome Goodness also recently announced plans to sell products in Rite Aid stores nationwide.

While recent business performance seems to indicate a positive outlook for the healthy food industry, here are the top 10 superfoods recommended for those interested in natural, health or raw food options:

1. Walnuts
2. Blueberries
3. Avocados
4. Broccoli
5. Spinach
6. Whole grains
7. Yogurt
8. Salmon
9. Dark chocolate
10. Flaxseed

Source: MassageSchoolSanDiego.com

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10 Trends for Baby's Room

November 1, 2012 6:36 am

If your spare room or study is destined to become baby’s room soon, you may want to consider some of the latest trends in nursery design, where fashions change as frequently as in any other room of the house.  From major baby furniture and design professionals, here are the top ten new trends: 

The old and the new – Some designers are mixing it up by setting a sleek, modern crib between two ornate period chairs spray–painted to match – or making an antique cradle the centerpiece in an ultra-contemporary setting. 

Ditch the area rugs – Consider soft, vibrantly colored peel-and-stick floor tiles, which may be cleaned with a damp sponge and/or replaced as needed. Choose a single color or do something fun with alternating squares or patterns. 

Try faux leather – One designer recommends gluing faux leather, available in many colors and patterns, on the sides of old baby furniture or even on the walls for a washable, practical designer look. 

A second place to sleep – Practical designers are putting a crib and a bed in baby’s room. The bed is great for a visiting Grandma or a Mom who needs to crash in baby’s room once in a while. Later, simply remove the crib and your toddler is good to go. 

Scrap the pastels – For a sleek look, use a dark wood crib with crisp white linens and matching dark wood furniture, some of which may be converted for later use. 

Think orange – At least one designer has ditched pale pink or blue walls in favor of citrus-y, gender-neutral orange – with accents and furniture in white, grey, or aqua for a sweet, sophisticated look. 

Comfy armchairs – Many Moms are ditching the rocker or glider for a plush, comfy armchair that will “grow” with the child – and be a favorite spot for story-reading. 

Use real art – Hip designers are choosing real artwork – selected serigraphs, watercolors, even inexpensive originals instead of traditional A-B-C or baby animal wall décor. Or use kid-friendly maps and charts. 

Bold light fixtures – Mobiles should not be the only thing baby can stare at. Choose bold, colorful or shiny Lucite light fixtures to add accent and interest. 

Garden shop – Earthy designers are choosing white walls and furniture accented with bright garden colors and patterns – like blooming plants painted on the walls and flowery designs in pillows, curtains, and rugs.

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Tips on How to Avoid Common Locksmith Scams

November 1, 2012 6:36 am

There are several things that homeowners and drivers can do to ensure the locksmith they employ is legitimate so that they don’t fall prey to a scammer.

When a consumer calls a locksmith, the first thing to notice is how the call is answered. If the person answering the phone says something general such as "locksmith services," hang up. A legitimate locksmith will identify the name of their company. The reputable locksmith will discuss the services needed, provide a quote over the phone and will stand by the quote once the work is completed with a receipt showing all charges. Beware of the "too good to be true" lowprice scammers will offer - it usually is.

Also, check the yellow pages of the phone book. Local locksmiths will usually have an ad that contains information about services they offer, a local phone number/address, and professional organizations they belong to such as the Better Business Bureau or Associated Locksmiths of America. If there’s no ad, check for a listing that has a local address.

While doing research online, go to sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and Service Magic. These sites offer real reviews by real people. Companies are not allowed to review themselves on these sites or buy advertising. Also, go to findalocksmith.com/search for listings in your area.

When ordering service from a locksmith, notice the vehicle they arrive in and how the locksmith is dressed. Scammers will arrive in unmarked vehicles and not in any kind of uniform. A reputable company will have clearly marked vehicles and uniforms with identification.

When it comes to finding a reputable locksmith, always remember these tips and trust your instincts.

Source: Pop-A-Lock

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5 Travel Tips for Family Vacation

October 31, 2012 6:36 am

While most people equate vacation with summer, many families are busy preparing for their winter holidays. Here are a few tips for making things go a little more smoothly.

Plan for down-time. Even though you may want to pack your itinerary to the brim with activities, be sure to allow for down-time daily, to avoid exhausted and cranky kids—and parents!

Be a good guest. Are you staying with friends or family? Then plan some activities where just you and your immediate family are together. This gives your hosts a breather, and allows your family more bonding opportunity. Also, consider exchanging some info with your hosts ahead of time, like the rules of their house, and your kids’ sleep habits, to make transitioning easier for everyone.

Include a date night! Quality time with the kids is awesome, but remember to get some one-on-one time with your honey, if you can manage.

Talk before you go. To anticipate future travel bumps, talk with your kids about what they can expect on the trip—good, and bad. Talk about the length of the flight, or lines at the amusement park, table manners at restaurants, etc.

Ease back into it. After you have returned from your trip, your kids are likely to be exhausted. Leave room for at least one day of adjustment before sending them back to school to avoid cranky behavior and frustration. Family trips are the stuff that memories are made of, and this list will help to make sure the memories are great. Bon Voyage!

Source: Swparents

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Keep Your Home Fire-Free

October 31, 2012 6:36 am

A fire is one of the greatest homeowner fears. Not only could you lose your home and valuables but, more importantly, your family could be at risk! To put your mind at ease, and protect your home from potential fires, follow these simple tips.

-Change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every six months.
-Always turn car engines off when pumping gas.
-Give space heaters their space – at least three feet from anything flammable – and turn space heaters off before bed.
-To extinguish charcoal grill fires, close the lid and vents and if the fire persists, douse the grill with water from a distance. Remember: never use a charcoal grill indoors.
-Keep charged fire extinguishers handy in the home and in vehicles.
-Use baking soda instead of water on grease fires.
-Program ICE (In Case of Emergency) in cell phones for EMS, police and fire contacts.
-Long grilling utensils are best to avoid burns.
-If an appliance smokes or smells, unplug it immediately and have the appliance repaired or replaced. -Store matches and lighters safely out of kids' reach.

Source: Firehousesubs.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Ways Your Neighbors Can Hurt Your Property Value

October 31, 2012 6:36 am

Neighbors can be the greatest people in the world, or they can be your worst enemies. But the reality is that most neighbors fall somewhere in between -- yes, even if you think you love them. There are dozens of ways your neighbors can hurt you or your property value without ever letting it be known. That's not even including the usual ways, such as noise and failing to maintain their homes. Consider the following five examples.

1. Using your Wi-Fi. If you haven't put a password on your Internet, do it now. If your neighbor logs onto your network and downloads child porn or copyrighted content, you may be on the hook. The authorities (and record companies) will force you to spend a lot of money explaining that it wasn't you.

2. Stealing your land. Little known is the concept of adverse possession. If your neighbor plants bushes or erects a fence or driveway on your property, those few inches (or feet) will eventually become theirs. Be vigilant about property lines so your neighbors can't hurt you.

3. Fences. In some jurisdictions, both neighbors are responsible for the upkeep of shared fences. If your neighbor isn't fulfilling his duty, you may end up paying for half a replacement fence.

4. Bed bugs. This is one of the worst ways neighbors can hurt you. If you live in a condo, duplex or row house, they'll infest everything. And unfortunately, it's very hard to pinpoint their source, so everyone may end up being responsible for remediation.

5. Trees. When a branch hangs over into your yard, the tree is technically encroaching upon your property. You arguably have a right -- and duty -- to cut some branches so the tree isn't so side-heavy. If you don't, and they fall and cause damage, the injured party may try to hold you responsible. Ouch.

Source: Findlaw.com

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Remodeling? Follow These 5 Steps First

October 30, 2012 6:36 am

Having the flexibility to turn your home into your dream house is an amazing feeling, and remodeling can be fun. But imagine being halfway through your kitchen remodel only to realize the money you budgeted isn't enough to cover completing the project. This is a perfect example of why proper home remodeling planning is so important. Below are five steps everyone should follow before the remodeling process takes place.

1. Draw a plan to define a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like. Write down any and all thoughts you have in regards to the desired room design. Draw where you think furniture pieces may go; describe how certain elements will be incorporated. The plan can change throughout the remodeling process, but having that visual at the start will help guide the project as things progress. If you are having difficulty formulating a remodeling plan, call a professional handyman or designer to help with direction and give you more ideas.

2. Research the various elements involved in your plan. Oftentimes, other people have carried out the same projects themselves and can offer valuable advice. Save time by learning from others' experiences, rather than by your own trial and error. If you find your kitchen remodeling, for example, is beyond your capabilities, a skilled handyman may offer expertise that can enhance your plan beyond your expectations. Once you have done your research, you will have a better idea of how much money and time are required to complete the plan.

3. Create a budget that you are comfortable devoting to your project. Before you begin purchasing materials and securing labor, you need to set a limit to ensure that spending does not get out of control. At this point, your plan may need alterations to fit within your budget restraints. Proper budgeting ensures your plan can be carried out to completion. In order to complete the kitchen remodeling, however, you will most likely need some professional help.

4. Gather help from experienced craftsmen to ensure your success. While some handy homeowners may opt to remodel alone, having others help will make the process a smoother experience. In some cases, that can be as simple as collecting friends and family to share the labor. Unfortunately, this type of help does not always give you the professional results you hope to achieve. Sometimes it may be best to bring in a professional.

5. Get the appropriate permits required by your local government to make sure your project complies with local building codes. Make sure to apply at your local town office for any necessary permits involved in your remodeling project. If you are unsure of how to go about this or which permits you require, handyman services can be extremely helpful.

Source: www.handymanconnection.com

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Halloween Drinking Data May Scare You Sober

October 30, 2012 6:36 am

Newly released data on individuals monitored every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption shows drinking increases 20.4 percent on a weekday Halloween, compared to drinking the rest of the year.

The data was compiled by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which monitors heavy drinkers 24/7 to ensure compliance with court- or treatment-mandated sobriety. For these individuals, drinking is a violation, and the consequence is often jail time, making the increase particularly noteworthy.

Drunk people generally make poor decisions, and deciding to get behind the wheel of a car is just one of the potential issues. According to AMS, on average, 99.3 percent of the 16,000 individuals they monitor each day have a completely Sober Day, making the uptick in Halloween drinking particularly significant. A Sober Day is defined as a 24-hour period with no drinking and no attempt to tamper or circumvent testing, and the data must be verified and court-validated. The study looked at data from more than 258,000 offenders monitored since 2003 in 48 states.

The Littlest Trick or Treaters
According to a post on Sobering Up, a blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction and criminal justice, there is never a good night to drink and drive, but with the U.S. Census Bureau estimating that 41 million kids will be out trick or treating this year, Halloween is a holiday that warrants extra care when traveling to and from your Fright Fest.

AMS encourages everyone to make a plan for getting home safely before you leave, rather than deciding how to get home after you've been drinking. Enforcement agencies throughout the country are taking impaired driving on Halloween seriously, and many will be running roadside sobriety checkpoints in conjunction with the Halloween impaired driving prevention initiative, running from October 25 through November 4, and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Source: Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.

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Keeping Your Home, Pets and Children Safe During Hurricane Sandy

October 30, 2012 6:36 am

As the East Coast braves the threat of Hurricane Sandy, the American Humane Association has offered the following emergency tips to help keep pets and children safe this hurricane season:

Before the Storm
-Tie down or anchor outside objects that might fly about and injure someone.
-Bring children and pets inside; bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier that’s large enough for them to turn around and lie down in comfortably.
-Review your evacuation plan and double-check emergency supplies, bowls, water, food.
-Have a carrier at the ready.
-If your family must evacuate, take your pets with you.

During the Storm
-Choose a safe room for riding out the storm—an interior room without windows—and take your entire family there, including your pets.
-Stay with pets. If crated, they depend on you for food and water.
-Keep your emergency kit in that room with you (food, water, litter, meds).
-Know your pet's hiding places. That's where they may run; keep them with you.
-Secure exits and cat doors so pets can't escape into the storm.
-Do not tranquilize your pets. They'll need their survival instincts should the storm require that.

After the Storm
-Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside and assess damages before allowing children or animals out.
-Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier, and children close at hand. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.
-Give pets time to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
-Keep kids and animals away from downed power lines and water that may be contaminated.
-Keep an eye on children's emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.

Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet's behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their home.

Source: American Humane Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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