RE/MAX 440
Patty Jo Anzivine
pattyjovine@gmail.com
Patty Jo Anzivine
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
PH: 610-390-0415
O: 610-398-8111
F: 267-354-6902 
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New Resource for Consumers Facilitates Smoother Moves

January 29, 2013 8:22 am

Unpakt, an instant pricing application helping consumers find reputable moving companies and book their moves online, recently partnered with Harris Interactive to conduct a comprehensive online survey revealing consumer feelings toward the moving industry. With this new platform, consumers can compare movers, receive exact price quotes rather than estimates, and manage a move online, all while considering both consumer and mover feedback to improve the process overall.

Unpakt's survey revealed that Americans move an average of 8.2 times in their lifetime. Moreover, 88 percent of Americans chose to move by themselves rather than hire a moving company. This could be largely due to survey findings that indicate almost half (46 percent) of Americans are afraid movers will steal their belongings during a move and 69 percent of Americans fear that movers will damage belongings during a move.

In terms of the cost of moving, one frequent complaint from consumers after using a moving company is that they paid more for the move than anticipated. This is likely because of hidden fees, given that many moving companies use estimates rather than exact price quotes. Of Americans that paid more for their last move than initially anticipated, 57 percent paid upwards of $175 all the way through $1,000 more for the move than expected.

Well over half of Americans also agreed that it is hard to find a good moving company.

"As someone who has been in the moving industry more than 25 years, I have seen firsthand exactly why consumers are uneasy about working with moving companies," said Sharone Ben-Harosh , founder of Unpakt. "Today's informed consumer is able to easily compare costs, receive guaranteed prices and access customer reviews when booking travel or searching for good restaurants, so the same should be true of booking a move and finding a reputable mover. Unpakt is now providing these services."

Survey data found that 58 percent of Americans said they would be most likely to use online reviews or online research to search for a reputable moving company. The online tool also allows customers to create an inventory of all their furniture and boxes and quickly enter moving date and location information. Once the information is submitted, Unpakt provides a comparison of guaranteed prices from Unpakt's pre-screened movers. From there, the customer can book the move on-the-spot or save the search and revisit the booking process at a later date.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Healthier Dishes for Your Table

January 28, 2013 5:05 am

(Family Features) Bringing healthier foods to the table can be easier – and more delicious – than you might think. When you add high-quality proteins such as soyfoods to the menu, you open up the door to a wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals.

The plant-based proteins of soy are packed with benefits for your body. They:

• Have all the essential amino acids needed for growth.
• May help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol and increasing the flexibility of blood vessels.
• Are equivalent to animal sources of protein but have no cholesterol and little saturated fat.

In fact, both the national 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the MyPlate nutrition guidance recommend soyfoods such as soymilk, veggie burgers, soy nutrition bars, soy sausages, tofu, soy yogurt, soy protein shakes and edamame. You can easily enjoy soy proteins in a lot of different ways.

Meat and poultry lovers can enjoy soy, too, by incorporating soy crumbles and other soy products into their favorite dishes. This recipe for a Veggie Taco Salad makes a satisfying, nutritious entrée for the whole family.

You can find more delicious recipes and information about soybeans and their journey from the farm to your plate at www.soyfoodsmonth.org.

Veggie Taco Salad
Makes 4 servings

2 cups soy crumbles (you can find these in your grocer’s freezer section or refrigerated meat section)
3/4 cup salsa
5 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup black beans

Topping Options:
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream

In large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook crumbles and salsa over medium heat about 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently.

In large bowl toss together lettuce, corn and black beans. Arrange on 4 serving plates. Top with crumbles mixture. Sprinkle with toppings.

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 180 Calories, 4 g Total Fat, 14g Protein, 26g Carbohydrate, 8g Fiber, 600mg Sodium

Source: Soyfoods Association of North America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Rebound

January 28, 2013 5:05 am

Fixed mortgage rates increased following positive economic news, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to 3.66 percent this week, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.35 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate jumped to a 4-month high of 2.94 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year mortgage climbed to 4.08 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were all over the map, with the 3-year ARM increasing to 2.96 percent, the 5-year ARM dropping to 2.71 percent and the 7-year ARM holding at 2.88 percent.

The past week saw positive reports on housing starts and a drop in weekly unemployment claims, which coupled with good news on the corporate earnings front, powered mortgage rates higher. With the debt ceiling debate delayed, the most dire economic scenarios are alleviated for now, which should keep a floor under bond yields and mortgage rates at least until talk of government spending cuts heats up. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

The last time mortgage rates were above 5 percent was Apr. 2011. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 5.07 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,082.22. With the average rate now 3.66 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $916.05, a difference of $166 per month for anyone refinancing now.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/RTI.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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More Homeowners Believe Now is a Good Time to Sell

January 28, 2013 5:05 am

Redfin has released its latest survey of home sellers, capturing sentiment of homeowners with the intent to sell. Redfin based this analysis on survey answers from 895 respondents across the U.S. who indicated intent to sell their home in the near future. The Redfin Real-Time Home Seller Survey is a companion to the quarterly Buyer Survey and Agent Survey.

Results Snapshot:

• 81 percent believe prices will rise in the next 12 months, up from 75 percent in the fourth quarter
• 34.1 percent indicated that missing out on future price gains was a major concern, up from 30.6 percent, and overtaking general economic conditions (33.8 percent) as the top concern
• 49 percent indicated that they were planning to sell, up from 45 percent
• 47 percent would also consider renting out their home instead of selling, up from 43 percent
• 22 percent believe now is a good time to sell, up from 15 percent
• 54 percent believe it is a good time to buy, down from 58 percent

Based on increased home-seller confidence reported in last quarter's survey, Redfin was optimistic that inventory would start to pick up in early 2013. As prices continue to rise, Redfin expects what it now considers an inventory crisis to ease as the spring and summer home-selling seasons approach.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Upgrading to a Master Bedroom

January 25, 2013 4:24 am

If you just bought a home or are looking to spice things up, renovate your room into a full-blown master bedroom. A master bedroom provides luxuries both big and small to help you fully utilize your space for rest and relaxation. With these tips, you can customize your room’s lighting, windows and more, to open up the room and turn it into a real sanctuary.

In-suite Bathrooms
It’s always nice to have your own bathroom away from the kids or other household members. His and hers sinks and vanities are popular, as are separate tubs or showers. Incorporate some fun by adding things like a jetted tub or heated towel racks. If you plan to take the shower route, consider adding a shower bench or making it a steam shower. If you have the space to spare, the possibilities are endless.

Add a Balcony or Patio
If your bedroom is on the end of the house or on a higher floor, adding a balcony or patio could really add some flavor to the room. French doors add an intense amount of natural light to the room and can open up to your balcony. If big enough, add a small patio set so you can read, tan or eat outdoors. Outside electrical outlets are perfect for music. A private patio is a great way to escape stress and have some alone time.

Attach a Library or Living Room

Creating your own library or living room may be easier said than done, but if you’re building from scratch it’s an option you should definitely consider. A library can also serve as an office for working at home. If a living room is what you desire, consider mounting a small flat screen television on the wall. A small loveseat and ottoman would provide you with the chance to catch some of your favorite shows in your own space without having to lie on the bed.

Create a Nook

Turning a corner of your bedroom into a reading area can be great to help you relax, especially if you don’t have the room for an attached living room. Add a fireplace next to your reclining chair or ottoman to add ambiance in the winter time. A bedside fireplace would definitely add to your home’s resale value.

Walk-in Closets Are a Must
A walk-in closet is essential for any master bedroom suite. The bigger you can expand it, the better. Not only will you have extra storage space for your belongings, but you can customize the shelving and drawers to suite your personal style. Add full length mirrors and maybe even add a window for some natural light. Creating your own closet will also add to the resale value of the home.

With a little bit of money and the proper time and space, you could transform your modest bedroom into a relaxation haven. As you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’ll be glad you did.

Source: FrontDoor.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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2013: Transition to 'Normal'?

January 25, 2013 4:24 am

The trend of gradual but below-potential economic growth seen in 2012 is expected to carry over through 2013 and into 2014. This modest growth path combined with the real GDP growth rate during the recovery from 2009 to this point of 2.2 percent annualized give credence to claims that the recovery’s slow pace has become the “new normal,” according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. The fiscal cliff and ongoing debt ceiling debate, which are likely to suppress consumer spending in the first half of 2013, continue to present potentially strong headwinds to meaningful growth activity. Overall, a 2 percent growth rate is forecasted for 2013, similar to the subdued pace of 2012.

This is despite the fact that the housing sector, which has become a bright spot in the economy since home prices began to rebound in 2012, is expected to provide a rising contribution to GDP in 2013 and in coming years. Recent data indicate that the housing recovery has transitioned to a faster upward track, boosted by an improving labor market and low mortgage rates. Overall, home sales, home prices, and home building activity as well as homebuilder confidence appear to be on the upswing, having risen to multi-year highs.

“What we view as sub-par economic growth may actually continue to be par for the course for the near term,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “We expect the fiscal policy climate to act as a drag on growth this year with possible implications on the direction of the economy in the long term. As fiscal policy debates subside later in the spring, we expect to see some upward trend in economic activity, with growth accelerating moderately in the second half of the year. That momentum will find support in the form of continued, albeit slow, improvement in the housing sector. In the longer term, the gradual return of manufacturing to the U.S. and increasing domestic energy production will work together to accelerate economic growth. However, we anticipate overall growth in 2013 will remain below its potential, extending what has been a slow recovery.”

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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National Foundation for Credit Counseling Launches Spanish Version of MyMoneyCheckUp

January 25, 2013 4:24 am

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) announced the expansion of MyMoneyCheckUp™, the NFCC’s free innovative online financial resource tool for consumers. The tool is now available in Spanish at https://www.miayudafinanciera.org and www.DebtAdvice.org, bringing Hispanic populations and communities a unique and much-needed method of assessing personal financial health.

“Our mission at the NFCC has always been to provide the public with the resources necessary for financial stability,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The introduction of MyMoneyCheckUp™ in Spanish allows us to bring the tool to a much wider audience.”

As of 2011, the Hispanic population comprised 16.7 percent of the United States population, the largest minority group following African-Americans. In addition, 20.3 percent of U.S. households speak a language other than English.

Recognizing the need for expanded financial resources to the Hispanic community, Experian provided a generous grant to translate MyMoneyCheckUp™ into Spanish.

“Experian is so pleased to work with the NFCC Member Agencies in helping families with their financial capability and in making this valuable tool available to a wider audience,” said Maxine Sweet, Experian Vice President of Public Education. “We have a shared goal of helping everyone learn to live credit smart. That starts with a clear understanding of your financial position and having readily accessible tools to help guide your future.”

The English version of MyMoneyCheckUp™ originally launched in 2011 to provide consumers with a means of evaluating four key areas of personal finance: budgeting and credit management, saving and investing, planning for retirement, and home equity.

After answering a series of topic-specific questions, a personalized assessment of the individual’s overall financial health and associated behaviors is generated. With areas of concern identified, the analysis suggests changes that consumers are encouraged to implement in order to become more financially independent. The traditional red, yellow and green traffic light colors signal whether the consumer should continue on their current money path, proceed with caution, or stop and make a change respectively. Individuals can also complete an optional budget to further help them assess their financial health.

“When developing the tool, one goal was to make financial education more readily accessible to a broad segment of the population. Thousands of Americans across the country have already benefited from the English version of MyMoneyCheckUp™. It is our hope that the Hispanic community will now take advantage of this simple and free personal finance assessment tool, and embrace the opportunity to improve their financial stability,” continued Cunningham.

Since 1951, The NFCC and its members have promoted financial education, sound money management, and positive financial habits to millions of people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, giving them the knowledge, capability, and support needed to achieve their financial goals. The NFCC Member Agency services are provided for free or at low cost, and are available in both English and Spanish.

For more information, visit www.DebtAdvice.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Rise of Craft Beer in the U.S.

January 24, 2013 4:22 am

While the economic downturn has affected consumer spending across many sectors, craft and craft-style beers are defying recessionary trends with an impressive upward trajectory. Indeed, latest research by Mintel on the craft beer market in the U.S. shows that sales of craft beer nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012—increasing from $5.7 billion in 2007 to $12 billion in 2012.

Moreover, the trend toward craft beer options is set to enjoy robust growth through 2017, with Mintel forecasting the segment to grow to $18 billion by 2017 — a result that will see the segment tripling in the decade between 2007 and 2017.

Jennifer Zegler, beverage analyst at Mintel, says:

"The growth rates seen by craft beer are impressive, especially during a period when domestic and imported beers have shown a flat to declining performance. Unlike its domestic and imported beer counterparts, craft beer has been able to defy overall beer market trends and continue expansion during the economic downturn and subsequent slow recovery."

The rise of craft beer in the US has been supported by increasing consumer demand. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of consumers who drink beer indicate that in 2012 they drank more craft beer sold at stores compared to 2011. Meanwhile, more than one in five (22 percent) report consuming more craft beer in bars or restaurants.

When looking at age, research shows that craft beer's sweet spot is with 25-34 year old consumers. While overall, some 36 percent of U.S. consumers drink craft beer, half (50 percent) of older Millennials (25-34 year olds) do so. And craft beer also wins on taste. Some 43 percent of both Millennials and Generation X say that craft beer tastes better than domestic beer, compared to 32 percent of Baby Boomers.

In addition, 50 percent of overall craft beer drinkers express interest in locally made beer, and 25 percent are interested in purchasing craft beer where it was brewed. Another 39 percent say that they are influenced to purchase a craft beer if it has a personality to which they can relate.

"Buying local is not limited to supporting one's homebase; it also provides consumers with the ability to support towns that they do not currently call home. To bring that local feel to consumers regardless of location, craft breweries should consider partnering to create multibrewery variety packs that would offer consumers a taste of one city, state, or region. These taste-of-an-area packages would allow consumers to experience smaller breweries from their own or other geographies," Zegler concludes.

Source: Mintel

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Will 2013 be the 'Year of the LED?'

January 24, 2013 4:22 am

With prices for energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) dropping, LED holiday lights lasting for years, and 32,000 LEDs glowing on the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball, 2013 could be the “Year of the LED,” predicts the Alliance to Save Energy.

“We see LEDs grabbing more market share in 2013,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “Their retail prices are coming down, and more U.S. consumers are realizing that their lifespans of up to 25 years make them a good deal.”

IMS Research also projects that starting in mid-2013, market growth for LEDs will skyrocket in North America. And next year, consumers will have even more choices when looking for LEDs, which are now available in 100-watt-equivalents alongside the 40-, 60-, and 75-watt replacements. They are also available in an array of decorative bulbs.

Goodbye Inefficient 75-watt Bulbs
The New Year will also usher in “year two” of the ongoing three-year transition to energy-efficient lighting for the U.S. market. Inefficient 75-watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured in the U.S., just as inefficient 100-watt incandescents were phased out a year ago.

“As the second phase of the national transition to energy-efficient lighting begins, the Alliance is continuing to work on its own and through the LUMEN Coalition to dispel myths and misinformation and to enlighten American consumers about the benefits of today’s lighting products,” Callahan continued.
Options include energy-efficient halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and LEDs. Halogen incandescents use about 30 percent less energy than inefficient incandescents, while CFLs and LEDs save 75 percent or more.

Energy Star Options
“As always, we advise looking for the Energy Star label, the government’s symbol of energy efficiency, to ensure that you are getting an energy- and money-saving product,” said Callahan.

Lighting accounts for 10 percent of home energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The growing array of energy-efficient lighting options allows consumers to cut those expenses by $50 to more than $100 a year, depending on how many inefficient bulbs they replace and which efficient options they choose.

Consumers can learn more about energy-efficient lighting on ase.org/lighting.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 10 Moving Destinations in 2012

January 24, 2013 4:22 am

The housing market began to improve in 2012 as confidence in homeownership improved. With more people buying, it poses the question, where are they buying? And where are they moving?

Penske Truck Rental released an annual list of top moving destinations within the U.S. To create this list, the company compiled information based on requests for one-way moves in 2012.

Atlanta has topped the list for each of the three years that Penske has compiled this ranking. The Dallas/Fort Worth area made the jump from fourth to second place. Four markets (Chicago, Houston, Denver and Seattle) retained their rankings from 2011.

“This list fits the general geographic shifts of the country’s population with our customers being drawn to the Southeast and Southwest regions,” states Don Mikes, Penske senior vice president of rental.

So where were people moving in 2012? See the top 10 destinations, below.

2012 Top 10 Moving Destinations:

*Please Note: The previous year’s ranking is noted in parentheses

1. Atlanta (unchanged)

2. Dallas/Fort Worth (4)

3. Phoenix (2)

4. Orlando, Fla. (3)

5. Chicago (unchanged)

6. Houston (unchanged)

7. Denver (unchanged)

8. Seattle (unchanged)

9. Charlotte, N.C. (10)

10. Sarasota, Fla. (9)

Source: www.pensketruckrental.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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