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 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

My Blog

Add Style to Your Home's Entryway

July 20, 2012 2:34 am

Nothing says “welcome to my home” quite like an impressive entryway. Attention to detail and some added extra touches of hospitality can transform an ordinary entry into a warm and inviting approach to the home.

Professional contractor Mark Clement recommends homeowners start with the basics. Evaluate the look and condition of the front door. Determine if the current door needs to be replaced or just enhanced with some decorative pediments, crossheads and pilasters.

“A front door should have good energy efficiency features, a snug fit to the frame and an appealing color,” says Clement, host of the home improvement radio show MyFixItUpLife. “If you’re missing any of those elements, then I would invest in a new front entryway.

“My recommendation is a secure fiberglass door that resists denting and scratching, is easy to maintain, energy efficient and quiet. And, don’t forget to select decorative or privacy glass for the doorlites and potentially your sidelites to really add appeal to the home’s entryway.”

For his own 100+ year old home, Clement recently tackled the job of installing a new fiberglass front door. Clement painted his door teal.

“We needed a ‘door-lift’ for the front of our house - much like a facelift for the home,” says Clement, whose www.myfixituplife.com website offers home improvement insights to consumers. “We started with the new energy-efficient door, then finished with durable PVC millwork on the exterior of the door and urethane trim around the door’s interior.

“For most entryways I recommend a set of pilasters that stand up next to both sides of your door and attach to the surface siding. Then, add a crosshead and pediment that can ‘sit’ on the top of the entryway. With dozens of decorative pediment designs to choose from, such as a sunburst, rams head or peaked cap, you can add your own personality to the entryway. These low-maintenance synthetic products are all key focal features that make an entranceway more appealing.”

Clement points out that urethane millwork products are long-lasting, since their surfaces are not subject to chipping and peeling as you’d find with many wood trim pieces. The synthetic pieces also resist humidity, warping and rotting, making them ideal for all climate conditions.

Source: Therma-Tru

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Consumer Satisfaction with Mortgage Servicers Increases

July 20, 2012 2:34 am

Historically low interest rates, combined with proprietary and government loan modification programs, have helped reduce the number of homeowners in distress, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study(SM).

According to the study, 7 percent of homeowners indicate their loan status is "current" as a direct result of a loan modification or other payment arrangement, compared with 4 percent in 2011. In addition, 15 percent of customers say they have concerns keeping mortgage payments current, down from 17 percent in 2011.

Overall satisfaction with primary mortgage servicers has increased to 725 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 718 in 2011. The study measures customer satisfaction in four areas of the mortgage servicing experience: billing and payment process; escrow account administration; website; and phone contact. Satisfaction in all factors has increased from 2011.

Overall satisfaction among at-risk customers, those who are behind on their mortgage payments or are concerned about making future payments, improved the most, increasing by 27 points from 2011, compared with non-prime and prime customers (+3 point and -3 points, respectively). At-risk customers are the most likely to contact their mortgage servicer (75 percent), compared with non-prime (41 percent) and prime (32 percent) customers. Satisfaction among customers who contact their servicer via phone increased by 52 points from 2011.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing new mortgage servicing rules that, if passed, will go into effect in early 2013. Once in place, mortgage servicers will face new challenges in providing high levels of service, while ensuring the proper processes and procedures are in place to meet the new guidelines.

Consumers also play a role in creating a better experience with their mortgage servicer. J.D. Power offers the following tips, based on study findings, to help customers avoid instances that may negatively affect their mortgage servicing experience:
  • If you tried to refinance your mortgage in the previous 6-12 months and didn't qualify, consider trying again. New government programs have recently been implemented to assist current mortgage customers, making it easier to modify or refinance.
  • Make sure you're familiar with your mortgage servicer's payment options, terms and policies, specifically regarding late payments, in order to help keep your account in good standing and avoid going into delinquent status.
  • Avoid paying your bill on the last day of your grace period, as sometimes these payments don't post to your account right away, which may result in fees or other late payment penalties. Consider receiving your bill and paying your mortgage online and taking advantage of all the services and information that your mortgage servicer provides on their website.
  • Understand that it is also in the mortgage servicer's best interest to keep your account in good standing. If you currently have a delinquent mortgage, be proactive and talk to your servicer about working out a payment plan that will work for both parties.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Five Tips for Safe Outdoor Play

July 19, 2012 2:34 am

From gardening and building sets to sidewalk chalk and scooters, and from bubbles and water blasters to bicycles and skateboards, a broad range of outdoor toys will help to entertain the young and the young at heart. 

To help assure that every play date is a safe one, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) offers parents the following five toy-related tips:

Pay close attention to the age appropriate guidelines on toy product packaging.
Age labeling is a safety precaution and is based on children's developmental skills and ability at a given age – and the appropriateness of the toy for that age. Age labeling does not pertain to the intelligence of a child so you never want to select toys marked with an age older than the child's age. 

Make adult supervision a crucial element of outdoor play. Children are quick and inquisitive.  They should never be left alone near water sources (pools, inflatable "kiddie" pools, beaches, etc.)...not even for a moment. Water toys should be kept out of sight or out of reach when not being used so children aren't tempted to play in or near the water alone. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a complete set of tips and information to help keep kids safe in and near the pool.

Buckle children up with helmets, knee pads and other protective gear when playing with ride-on toys. Most parents are aware that protective gear (helmets, knee pads and arm pads) is crucial when riding a bicycle, but buckling up and protective gear is equally important for other ride-on toys, including tricycles, scooters, skateboards and skates.

Keep young bodies protected from the sun and heat. Outdoor play areas should be covered to protect sensitive children's skin from the sun's intense rays. Children should wear hats, 100-percent UVA sunglasses, and a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) when playing outdoors. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and re-apply every two hours or after prolonged contact with water. Studies show that children do not always experience thirst before dehydration, so it is important that they drink plenty of fluids during and after play, even when they do not feel thirsty.

Organize and store toys to prevent slips, trips and falls. Large, plastic bins with lids are perfect for organizing and storing smaller toys; bins should be marked by name so that toys for children of differing ages can be easily separated. An outdoor shed should be set up with designated "parking" spaces near the door for bicycles and other ride-on toys; smaller items like skateboards and skates should be hung off ground-level or stored on shelves to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Source: www.ToyInfo.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Dodd Frank Anniversary Poll: Three Out of Four Voters Favor Strong Oversight of Wall Street

July 19, 2012 2:34 am

Financial reforms enacted in response to the financial meltdown remain popular with Americans likely to vote in 2012, according to a new opinion poll by Lake Research Partners. The poll was commissioned by AARP, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). July 21, 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the Dodd Frank Act, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Key survey findings include:

  • Voters favor the Dodd Frank financial reform law by a 53-point margin (73-20). The support crosses party lines, with Republicans in favor by a 20-point margin, Independents by a 50-point margin and Democrats by an 83-point margin.
  • Voters support the CFPB by a 40-point margin. Two-thirds (66 percent) of voters overall and 69 percent of Independents agree that the CFPB is needed.
  • Two-thirds of voters - including 78 percent of Republicans - support a state's right to pass and enforce stronger consumer protections and preventing federal law from overriding them.
  • Americans clearly want stronger, not weaker, government oversight of financial companies. A majority (60 percent) of voters, including 65 percent of Independents, favor more government oversight. And 73 percent of voters support tougher rules and enforcement for Wall Street financial companies, compared to just 17 percent who say they don't need further regulation.
  • Voters want Wall Street to be held accountable and prevented from repeating the same actions again. Nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) agree with a statement that Wall Street must be held accountable and prevented from repeating the same actions again and believe this will help the economy. Just 28 percent agree with an opposing statement that Wall Street reform is a job killer that creates excessive government regulation and bureaucracy that stands in the way of our economic recovery.
  • More than nine in 10 (93 percent) are in favor of the policy that established additional mortgage and foreclosure protections so military service members are protected. 
  • Voters want clarity when dealing with financial companies: 92 percent favor a policy that requires banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and student loan and auto lenders to provide clearer explanations of their rates, terms and fees. Nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) favor having a searchable database so consumers can both report unfair financial practices and view complaints made by others. 
  • By a 3 to 1 margin, voters support the CFPB having authority to oversee consumer lenders, rather than giving authority back to the pre-Wall Street Reform regulators.  
  • Source: AARP, Americans For Financial Reform, Center for Responsible Lending and National Council of La Raza

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    Housing: Getting Back to Work

    July 19, 2012 2:34 am

    Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for July shows that while the construction industry continues to struggle on the jobs front, data suggests this sector is ready to get back to work. 

    Important highlights from the report include:

  • The unemployment rate for construction workers was 12.8 percent in June with nearly 48 percent out of work for at least six months, both metrics well above the national figure.
  • Over the past 12 months overall payroll employment across all industries was up 1.8 million, yet construction employment was up a mere 13,000, well below the sector's share of total employment (about 4.3 percent).
  • Regardless, hiring in the construction sector has increased on a year-over-year basis, and the unemployment rate for construction workers has fallen 2.8 percentage points since June 2011.
  • A gradual strengthening of economic growth in the second half of 2012 should rebuild job growth back to an average monthly pace of 150,000.
  • Expect fixed mortgage rates to remain at or near their historic lows fueling housing demand with a continued pick-up in housing starts, home sales, and even house prices in many markets.
  • According to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, "While housing may not have played its traditional role coming out of the Great Recession, at the end of the day, it has turned a very large corner and now it's time to get this sector back to work whether through construction jobs, remodeling, or home brokerage."

    Source: Freddie Mac

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    Keep Your Cool in Extreme Heat

    July 18, 2012 2:32 am

    With temperatures reaching record highs, keeping you cool is critical to maintaining good health. Following, are some important safety tips from The Minnesota Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help ensure your safety during extreme heat and humidity:
    • Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat and high humidity, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, movie theaters, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
    • Stay hydrated. The minimum daily water intake (on an average day) is 1/2 your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should have at least 75 ounces of water per day. When temperatures rise, drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your water and total fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar — these actually can cause you to lose more body fluid.
    • Pay special attention. Pregnant women, children, the elderly (65 years and older) and people with acute or chronic health conditions are more prone to heat stress. Make frequent checks on the status of friends, relatives and neighbors in these categories. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.
    • Do not leave anyone—children, disabled individuals, pets—in cars for even brief periods. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.
    • Use fans to increase ventilation. If the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air to the outside. At extreme high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illness.
    • Reduce body temperature. Cool showers, baths, and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.
    Source: Minnesota Chiropractic Association

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    Somewhat Stronger Wage Gains Likely Later This Year

    July 18, 2012 2:32 am

    Private sector workers will likely see somewhat stronger wage increases overall in the coming months, according to the final second quarter Wage Trend Indicator™ (WTI) released recently by Bloomberg BNA, a leading publisher of specialized news and information.

    The index rose to 98.67 (second quarter 1976 = 100) from 98.42 in the first quarter.

    "The latest WTI indicates the pace of wage growth will strengthen but probably not dramatically so," economist Kathryn Kobe, a consultant who maintains and helped develop Bloomberg BNA's WTI database, said. "We're still seeing mixed signals in the labor market, with small, steady job gains," Kobe said.

    Over its history, the WTI has predicted a turning point in wage trends six to nine months before the trends are apparent in the Department of Labor's employment cost index (ECI). A sustained increase in the WTI forecasts greater pressure to raise private sector wages, while a sustained decline is predictive of a deceleration in the rate of wage increases.

    Kobe said she expects annual wage gains overall in the private sector to reach 2.0 percent or more, compared with a 1.9 percent year-over-year increase in the first quarter, as measured by the ECI. The WTI does not forecast the magnitude of wage growth, only the direction.

    Reflecting recent economic conditions, five of the WTI's seven components made positive contributions to the final second quarter reading, while two factors were negative.

    Of the WTI's seven components, the five positive contributors to the final second quarter reading were forecasters' expectations for the rate of inflation, compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; job losers as a share of the labor force and average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers, both reported by DOL; and the share of employers planning to hire production and service workers in the coming months and the proportion of employers reporting difficulty in filling professional and technical jobs, both tracked by Bloomberg BNA's quarterly employment outlook survey. The negative factors were industrial production, measured by the Federal Reserve Board, and the unemployment rate, reported by DOL.

    Source: Bloomberg BNA

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    REALTORS Testify Broad Qualified Mortgage is Critical to Housing Finance System

    July 18, 2012 2:32 am

    The National Association of REALTORS® recently urged Congress and the Administration to develop a broadly defined Qualified Mortgage (QM) regulation.

    The QM regulation is designed to ensure that lenders only make loans to borrowers who have the ability to repay the loan. If the QM regulation is too narrowly defined it could threaten the burgeoning housing and economic recovery by denying creditworthy borrowers access to safe, quality loan products, said NAR's 2012 Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs Scott Louser in recent testimony before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

    In his testimony, Louser said that current underwriting standards are already tight and are contributing to the slow housing market recovery. NAR believes that an unnecessarily narrow QM definition that covers only a modest proportion of loan products and underwriting standards and serves only a small proportion of borrowers would undermine prospects for a full housing recovery and threaten the redevelopment of a sound mortgage market.

    Louser said that a narrowly defined QM would put many of today's loans and borrowers into the non-QM market, which means that lenders and investors would face a high risk of a steering or ability to pay violations. The increased risks would result in costlier loans that lack important consumer protections, he said.

    To that end, NAR supports a QM definition that provides strong incentives for lenders to focus on making well-underwritten mortgages affordable and abundantly available to all creditworthy borrowers, which requires a legal safe harbor for lenders and investors and a clear, objective definition of the QM that is not unduly restrictive.

    Source: National Association of REALTORS®

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    Back-to-School Spend Means Good News for Economy

    July 17, 2012 2:28 am

    According to the results of the PriceGrabber® 2012 Back-to-School Shopping Forecast survey, 63 percent of consumers plan to spend up to $500 this back-to-school shopping season (compared to 48 percent in 2011). Twenty percent of respondents plan to spend between $500 and $1,000 and 17 percent of shoppers said they don't have a back-to-school shopping budget this year.

    In June, PriceGrabber released its initial back-to-school survey results indicating nearly half (46 percent) of consumers are planning to spend more this back-to-school shopping season than in 2011. Conducted from May 22 to June 5, 2012, the survey includes responses from 4,450 U.S. online shopping consumers, with 1,509 of the respondents planning to shop this back-to-school season.

    Although tech product purchases are on the rise, consumers are once again putting basic school clothing and supplies at the top of their back-to-school shopping lists. When asked to select all of the items they plan to purchase this back-to-school shopping season, 83 percent selected general school supplies such as notebooks, binders, and pencils. Seventy-nine percent of consumers plan to send their children back to school in style with new clothing; 51 percent said they plan to purchase a backpack or tote bag; and 50 percent of shoppers said they plan to purchase books.

    This year, consumers are branching out, setting their sights on laptops and tablets for tech-savvy students heading back to school. According to survey results, 40 percent of respondents plan to purchase a tech-type item as part of their back-to-school shopping. When those respondents were asked to select all of the types of tech-related products they plan to purchase, 50 percent indicated a new laptop splurge and 49 percent selected a tablet computer. Twenty-eight percent of shoppers indicated they plan to purchase a smartphone and 10 percent selected a desktop computer.

    Many savvy consumers are utilizing the Internet this year to take advantage of the latest and greatest back-to-school shopping deals coupled with in-store purchases; 79 percent indicated they plan to shop online compared to 69 percent in 2011.

    Source: PriceGrabber.com

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags:

    If a Mom Takes Time for Herself When Everyone Else is Asleep, Does it Still Count?

    July 17, 2012 2:28 am

    The paradoxical results of a national survey regarding a mom's quest for time for herself reveal that while the majority of busy mothers (87.8 percent) are still carving out time for themselves on a regular basis, well over half (58.8 percent) of these women are finding that time either late at night or early in the morning. According to survey sponsors mom.me, this raises the question of how much sleep and other evening rituals are sacrificed in order for moms to find some “me-time.”

    "We commissioned this survey because we want to understand what women are doing when they aren't being a mom – because our editorial team is trying to speak to the woman inside the mom," explains Anne-Marie O'Neill, editorial director at mom.me. "While it is great to know that so many women are making time for themselves, by digging deeper we find that it is mostly at a time of the day when you can't leave the house and your friends are asleep."

    Taking me-time late at night can also suggest going out, but of those polled, very few (3.8 percent) actually did. Additional results reveal that most women are spending their me-time alone (81.4 percent), with about a third (30.8 percent) reading a book, and others watching TV (19.2 percent) or spending time online (11.8 percent).

    "We can extrapolate that moms could be cutting into their much-needed rest in order to carve out me-time. We hope that this survey can help instigate a conversation among moms about whether our assumption is true, and if so, how to change it," says Gail Berman, co-owner and founding partner of BermanBraun, the parent company of mom.me. "We built into mom.me a feature called 'Ask Other Moms' and hope to leverage this as well as our community on Facebook to drive this discussion."

    Source: mom.me

    Published with permission from RISMedia.


    Tags: