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Edward E. Hodgson Jr.
1110 North Broad Street | Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215-362-2260 | Office Phone: 215-362-2260 | Fax: 267-354-6844
Cell: 215-850-6973 | email: ed@edhodgsonrealtor.com

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Is That Driver On The Road Next To You Asleep?

May 9, 2013 1:08 am

Driving with untreated sleep apnea is equivalent to driving with a .06-.08 blood alcohol level. Recent studies have shown that truck drivers are at high-risk for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders—affecting 28 percent of Commercial Truck Drivers. In the aviation industry, alternating shifts and rapidly changing time zones present unique obstacles when it comes to sleep apnea and safety in the air. Eighteen percent of train operators attribute "near miss accidents" at work due to their sleep apnea. Over 100,000 vehicular accidents and 1,500 deaths annually are caused by sleep deprivation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. According to the CDC, sleep quality, duration, behaviors, and disorders need to be monitored in order to show its health impact on Americans. One of the many concerns with sleep deprivation is driving and flying sleepy especially for those in the transportation industry. Disturbance of sleep compromises mood, performance, and alertness which can result in the inability to pay attention and react to signals, which then can lead to injury or death.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 100 million people worldwide have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or sleep apnea. In the U.S. alone over 23 million Americans (approximately 25 percent of OSA sufferers) have been diagnosed with OSA and an estimate of millions more whom have not yet been diagnosed; so many of these people are pilots in the air, engineers on the railroads, or commercial truck drivers on the interstates. With these staggering numbers, the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is growing exponentially.

Most with sleep apnea use CPAP therapy to manage their sleeping disorder. The transportation industry is now recognizing the importance and need for their workers to comply with their prescribed CPAP usage, but for those transportation specialists, CPAP therapy is much more difficult to manage while on the road. Maintenance and keeping the equipment clean and sanitized comes with its challenges, especially for those who are traveling.

It is critical to ensure those Americans who are in the transportation industry are experiencing proper sleep apnea treatment and therapy coupled with an effective, effortless, and transportable way to clean their equipment on the road. This will help to better protect the traveling public from the dangers associated with those in the public transportation industry who suffer with sleep apnea.

Source: www.betterrestsolutions.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Consumers Tip Scales of Home Price Change Expectations

May 9, 2013 1:08 am

More than half of Americans now expect the country’s home prices to climb within the next year, illustrating a growing optimism toward the health of the housing industry. The share of respondents to Fannie Mae’s April 2013 National Housing Survey results who expect home prices to go up rose another 3 percentage points in April to 51 percent. By comparison, at the same time last year, only 32 percent expected an increase in home prices.

“For the first time in the survey’s three-year history, the majority of Americans surveyed now expect home prices to increase,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Crossing the 50 percent threshold marks a significant milestone as most Americans believe a housing recovery is truly occurring throughout the country. Reflecting that increased optimism toward housing, the share of Americans who think it is a good time to sell has doubled during the last year. Many homeowners who have been underwater are gradually returning to positive equity, and selling is now becoming an available and attractive option again.”

The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell climbed 4 percentage points in April to 30 percent, compared to 15 percent at the same time last year. Americans’ increasing optimism toward the selling market may bode well for continued improvement in housing activity, as recent market data suggest that five out of eight people who buy a home first have to sell.

Findings:

Homeownership and Renting


• The average 12-month home price change expectation held steady at 2.7 percent.
• The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months hit a survey high of 51 percent, while those who believe home prices will go down remained at the survey low of 10 percent for the fourth month in a row.
• The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up fell 3 percentage points to 43 percent, while those who say they will go down increased slightly to 7 percent.
• At a survey-high 30 percent, the share of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a house increased 4 percentage points over March.
• The average 12-month rental price change expectation held steady at 4.1 percent.
• Forty-eight percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next year, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month’s survey high.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 65 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

• At 39 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track increased 4 percentage points over March.
• The percentage of people who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months fell 5 percentage points to 16 percent.
• Twenty percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, holding steady from last month.
• Eleven percent reported significantly lower household expenses compared to 12 months ago, a 3 percentage point increase over March.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Reclaiming Your Bedroom

May 8, 2013 1:09 am

Our bedrooms are supposed to be our safe havens – our private sanctuaries. Yet more often than not, they’re home to piles of laundry to put away, dusty work-out equipment, and mismatched shoes. How can one relax in that environment?

Thanks to some great strategies from author Julie Morgenstern via HGTV.com, your bedroom can soon become the zen-like environment it was intended to be. Here are Morgenstern’s top tips for organizing and reclaiming the boudoir:

1. Under-bed Storage. Sliding or rolling under-bed storage bins serve as a wonderful extension of your closet space. Use them to rotate seasonal items, store bigger, bulkier items like backpacks, purses and blankets, or house a change of sheets. These items will remain nicely hidden with the help of a bedskirt. Be sure to label the bins to avoid frantic and messy searching.

2. Put Shoes in Their Place. One of the quickest fixes to a bedroom closet overrun with shoes is to invest in a shoe rack. Morgenstern recommends an expanding tiered shoe rack below your clothes as opposed to an over-the-door hanging shoe bag. Once you have a clear visual on just how many shoes you actually own, odds are you’ll realize it’s time to give some away.

3. Control Jewelry Chaos. A hanging jewelry organizer can help tame that tangled mess of necklaces and earrings on your bureau. These organizers usually come with or snap onto a hanger and have plenty of clear pockets to keep items free and clear of each other.

4. Create a Reading Nook. That lovely chair you have in your room was not meant to be adorned with dirty laundry and back-logged magazines. Morgenstern says it’s time to rescue your reading chair by adding the proper organization, such as a side table with drawers or shelves for your reading materials, journal or e-reader. If you’re a magazine and/or newspaper fan, a magazine rack would work best

5. Make Your Bed Every Day. So simple yet so tempting to blow off. Treat your bed as the sanctuary it is by positioning it for use every day, says Morgenstern. If you spend three minutes each morning to tuck and fold, you'll develop a habit of keeping order in the room, which may translate into motivation for picking up the pile of clothes on the floor.

6. Put Specialty Garments in Storage. If your wedding dress or special occasion fur is taking up space in your primary closet, have it professionally cleaned and boxed, then put it away in an attic or basement.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Choosing Your Most Sustainable Mortgage Option

May 8, 2013 1:09 am

I recently ran across some good advice from Scott Sheldon (bayarearealestatetrends.com) who blogs about how the shrinking inventory of available housing is taking some homebuyers' focus off the bottom line.

Sheldon says pre-approved buyers typically focus on purchase price, when in most cases, it’s the monthly payment over time relative to the purchase price that dictates whether or not that particular property can be identified as an opportunity.

Sheldon goes on to say that consumers are beginning to place more emphasis on sustainable payment over time considering they could be paying more for the property than anticipated. And today's real estate market conditions are causing many buyers to switch mortgage loan programs during the pre-approval phase and well into after they’ve gotten into contract.

While qualifying for the mortgage is the end result, to perform on a purchase contract, Sheldon says the appropriate loan program promoting long-term payment sustainability becomes the next critically important piece of the puzzle.

In his blog, Sheldon details the following borrowing options:

• Conventional loans represent the lowest cost combination of rate and payment over time. This type of financing represents the cream of the crop available in the market today. When it comes to conventional loans, twenty percent down to avoid monthly mortgage insurance, with the lowest possible payment being 3 percent is common.

• FHA loans—including first-time homebuyer options—are typically geared toward consumers entering the real estate market for the first time. This type of financing, however, is eligible for anyone and is not solely a first-time homebuyer program.

• Fannie Mae's Homepath.com program offers two main advantages: no appraisal requirement and no monthly mortgage insurance requirement. The cost of these two advantages comes in the form of a higher risk based pricing, an inherently higher cost loan.

• VA loans for military families through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees loans for veterans looking to purchase real estate. The program allows for 100 percent financing and no money down and does not contain any monthly mortgage insurance.

Source: www.bayarearealestatetrends.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Natural Fun Takes a Backseat to Tech Time for Kids & Families

May 8, 2013 1:09 am

From weekday afternoons huddled in front of gaming consoles to weekends spent downloading the latest smartphone app, kids today spend a significant amount of time indoors tethered to technology. A survey commissioned by Busch Gardens® found that 85 percent of moms worry that their children don't experience enough natural, unstructured outdoor playtime – the kind of activity so common in previous generations.

According to the survey of nearly 900 moms conducted by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Busch Gardens®, kids spend only two hours during the week participating in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes, and exploring nature, and these activity levels increase only slightly on the weekends to a little more than two hours.

"As parents, we remember our own moms opening up the screen door on a summer day and telling us 'go outside and play,' and we did, playing with friends from the neighborhood, roller skating and concocting elaborate games," said Stacy DeBroff , founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting. "We fear we're raising a generation of kids with 'Natural Fun Deficiency' who rarely play outside unless as part of planned activities with a coach nearby carrying a whistle and a clipboard."

Based on the survey results, both moms and kids see technology as a deterrent to kids playing outside – 68 percent of moms think their kids spend too much time plugged in, and 44 percent of kids prefer texting to kickball.

However, the obstacles to outdoor-based family time include more than just technology. More than two-thirds of moms feel that family fun often takes a backseat to day-to-day obligations.

Here are some tips to combat 'Natural Fun Deficiency':

For Kids
• Keep it Low-Key: Don't worry about creating a master outdoor curriculum for kids. Instead, encourage them to build a fort, suggest they invite the new neighbor kids over for a backyard soccer game, or challenge them to make the ultimate mud pie.

• Team Up with Fellow Moms: When it comes to planning play dates, the survey showed that almost 60 percent of moms never or rarely think about organizing an outdoor-focused get-together, despite the fact that 75 percent of moms want their kids to be more open to outdoor adventure. Work with other moms to banish time in front of the TV or gaming console and instead suggest that kids go outside for a backyard scavenger hunt or game of kickball.

• Group Learning Activities: Surprise the kids with learning experiences disguised as pure fun.

For Families

• Plan a Family Getaway: According to the survey results, 70 percent of moms rely on vacations as a time for kids to unplug and get away from technology. Planning a family getaway can be a great way for everyone to set aside pressures and obligations and re-connect as a family.

• Explore the Great Outdoors: To jumpstart natural, outdoor fun, identify vacation spots with enough outdoor activities to entice everyone in the family. For example, a beach vacation offers opportunities for swimming, water sports, and beach exploration, while a visit to a theme park provides everything from thrill rides to water fun to animal encounters in natural settings.

• The Family Who Plays Together, Stays Together: Support kids' newfound outdoor experiences by creating fun, easy-to-arrange family activities. Take advantage of extended daylight hours to eat dinner on the patio or schedule an impromptu picnic dinner in the backyard. Or walk the dog as a family each weekend morning.

Source: Busch Gardens

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Will Really Make You Happy?

May 7, 2013 1:08 am

The idea of a happy and meaningful life has become unnecessarily complicated in some circles, says author and certified positive psychology coach Lynda Wallace, who left a high-powered executive career with Johnson & Johnson to pursue her real passion—helping individuals and groups achieve greater happiness and success.

“Happiness has been appropriately cited as a goal in political debates on issues from taxation to the social safety net to marriage equality, but the debate is often confused,” says Wallace, author of “A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life,” which topped Amazon’s Self-Help Best Seller list.

“Some people claim that happiness is all in your DNA or bank account. The truth is that happiness is largely a matter of everyday choices and actions. There are straightforward, well-researched and effective things every one of us can do to create greater happiness in our lives and in the lives of those we care about.”

The essential elements of a happy life are not mysterious, she says.

Research shows that the happiest people do four basic things that make the difference: they focus on what is good and positive in their lives; cope effectively with life’s inevitable challenges; develop strong relationships; and pursue meaningful goals.

“We can all become happier by putting our efforts into these areas,” Wallace says.

One of the first steps we can take is to get past some of the common misperceptions about happiness that can stand in our way. Wallace offers these four examples.

• Misconception 1: Happiness is about getting the big things right. It’s natural to think that if we were suddenly rich, beautiful and living on the beach somewhere, we’d be happy. But that type of good fortune turns out to have a surprisingly small impact on happiness. The happiest people are most often not those in the most enviable circumstances, but those who cultivate positive emotional outlooks and actions. So how can we do it? “Take concrete steps to practice optimism, gratitude, kindness and self-compassion in your everyday life,” says Wallace. “The cumulative effect of those everyday choices can have a tremendous impact on how you experience your life.”

• Misconception 2: Happy people suppress negative emotions. Happy people actually experience sadness, grief, worry and other so-called negative emotions nearly as frequently as unhappy people do. The difference is what happens when those feelings occur. Happier people are generally able to experience negative feelings without losing hope for the future. “They give themselves permission to feel sad, angry or lonely, but they remain confident that things will get better. As a result, their sadness progresses into hope and action rather than regressing into anxiety and despair.”

• Misconception 3: Pursuing happiness is self-centered. The strongest of all conclusions drawn by researchers into emotional well-being is that our happiness is determined more by our relationships with other people than by any other single factor. The happiest people build their lives around good, trusting relationships. “If other priorities are getting in the way of your relationships,” says Wallace, “take steps to shift the balance back to where it will really make a difference.”

• Misconception 4: I’ll be happy when I achieve my goals. Have you ever noticed that when someone wins the Super Bowl or an Academy Award, or when you achieve a long-sought ambition, that wonderful sense of accomplishment and happiness seems to fade faster than you’d expect? “That’s just the way our brains work,” says Wallace. “Committed goal pursuit is one of the keys to a happy life, but most of the happiness we get from striving for goals comes while we’re making progress toward them, not after we achieve them. That’s why it’s so important that we choose goals that are in synch with what we love and value, and that we make a conscious effort to enjoy them along the way.”

Source: www.lyndawallace.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Garden Detective: Clues to Determine and Deter Unwanted Animals in Your Yard and Garden

May 7, 2013 1:08 am

Holmes and Watson, Riggs and Murtaugh, Starsky and Hutch—when it comes to sleuthing out just what critter is munching on your spring garden, you may feel like your partnership with Mother Nature is as contentious as any that ever graced the big, or small screen. After all, how are you supposed to fight the "crime" of a decimated garden if you can't identify the suspect who's been devouring your daylilies?

And while Mother Nature may happily grace your garden with rain, warmth and sunshine, she may not always be on the same team when it comes to keeping critters out of your gardens and landscapes. Foraging pests can destroy your yard literally overnight.

It is possible to thwart garden thieves, but first you have to know what animals have been dining on your plants and shrubs. Once you've identified the culprits, you can settle on effective animal repellents that will persuade pests to leave your garden alone. Here are some facts to get your detective work under way:

Devouring deer - Ragged bites, typically a foot or more above the ground indicate deer damage. Deer are notorious for devouring gardens and landscapes. You'll see them, and their offspring, every year, making dinner of your daisies, daylilies and other ornamental plants.

Ravenous rabbits - If plant damage is low to the ground—a few inches above the soil—and includes stems clipped cleanly at an angle, you're probably dealing with rabbits. These four-legged foragers will eat just about any kind of vegetation, including your fabulous flowers, bushes and other woody plants. If you don't want bunnies nesting and raising families near your garden, remove brush and other debris that could provide them with shelter.

Voracious voles - When flower bulbs disappear from the ground or plant roots go missing, chances are you have voles—mouse-like creatures that burrow underground and that are highly destructive to gardens. Exit holes are further indications that voles are tunneling under your garden. Teeth marks around the base of trees, droppings or trails in the grass can also indicate the presence of voles.

Greedy groundhogs - Mounds of dirt beside burrow entrances are a sure sign of groundhogs, a garden pest that eats just about every type of green plant. Groundhogs can destroy a garden. These solitary herbivores live in burrows underground.

Once you've identified the culprits assaulting your garden, you'll need the right tools to take care of them. Most traditional pest-control measures—row covers, netting, noise deterrents, predator urine or even human hair strewn around the yard—simply don't work. Fences can do the job, but they're expensive and you may live in a community that restricts the type and height of fences you can erect.

Some small animal repellents, however, do work. Bobbex-R is all-natural, environmentally friendly and proven effective at protecting ornamental plantings from small, four-legged garden critters. In testing by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the product—which works through smell and taste aversion—received a 100 percent efficacy rating at repelling rabbits. Usable in any weather, it won't burn plants or wash off. Use it as a bulb dip to deter underground damage, or spray it at the mouth of burrows to prevent animals from re-entering. It’s safe for humans, pets, birds and aquatic life, too.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Multifamily Industry Launches New "Apartments. We Live Here." Campaign

May 7, 2013 1:08 am

The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA) today unveiled a new integrated campaign titled "Apartments. We Live Here." The campaign tells the story about how in communities across the country, apartments work—helping people live in a home that's right for them. Whether it's young professionals starting out, empty nesters looking to downsize and simplify, workers wanting to live near their jobs, married couples without children or families building a better life, apartment homes provide a sensible choice to meet their specific housing needs.

Utilizing print, radio and digital ads, direct mail and a new, experimental info-driven experience at www.weareapartments.org, the campaign highlights the 35 million apartment residents building their lives and the $1.1 trillion economic contribution the industry and its residents add to the economy each year.

"'Apartments. We Live Here.' is about connecting policymakers all across the country not only with the dollars and jobs associated with multifamily construction and operations, but with the millions who call an apartment home," said Kim Duty, NMHC Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Industry Initiatives. "Communities are stronger when they have a mix of housing, and that includes apartments."

"Our population is changing and we need housing options like apartments to keep up. In 1955, married couples with children made up 44 percent of America, but today they're only 20 percent. The fastest growing groups over the next decade will be young adults and empty nesters—those who may find apartments a good fit. We need more housing choices for America, which is what the 'Apartments. We Live Here.' campaign is all about," said Greg Brown, NAA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.

The advertisements serve as a window into the home of apartment residents by highlighting their personality through snapshots of their daily lives. The first wave of the campaign will begin in Washington, D.C. on May 6.

The ads and additional campaign information can be found at http://weareapartments.org/about-campaign.

Sources: NMHC, NAA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Ease First-Time Homebuyer Jitters

May 6, 2013 1:08 am

Traditionally, spring marks a busy period of time for housing market activity. With the heat of summer seemingly only weeks away, first-time homebuyers should learn strategies for finding their ideal home while keeping financial priorities in check. Buying a home can be the largest and most important financial decision one can make, so it is important to be aware of all the factors that go into making a responsible purchasing decision.

The first step is figuring out how much you can afford to spend on homeownership, which means an honest assessment of the household balance sheet. Once you have a clear idea of where you stand financially, you can then make a responsible decision of what you can afford, including your down payment, monthly mortgage costs and other expenses like utility costs, property insurance and taxes.

Here are a few tips:

Making an affordability assessment
Housing costs, including mortgage payments, property insurance and taxes, should not take up more than one-third of your income. In addition to this, servicing your overall debt, including loans, utilities, credit card payments and lines of credit, should not account for more than 40 percent. If you can land safely within these parameters, then homeownership is an affordable and realistic option.

Coming up with the down payment
In general, the bigger the down payment you come up with, the less interest you'll pay over the life of your mortgage. Financial institutions may offer special accounts designed to help you save for that first home. Consider opening a savings account specifically to fund your down payment. One easy way to save is to set up an automatic monthly deposit from your checking account to your savings account, allowing you to build the balance over time.

Choosing the right mortgage for you
Your mortgage needs to fit in with the rest of your financial priorities -- which could mean increased flexibility or security. Consider the following when choosing your mortgage:

• Choose a shorter amortization period - In general, the shorter the life of the mortgage, the lower the overall interest cost. Consider choosing a 20-year amortization rather than a 30-year amortization to save you money on interest costs and help you become debt-free sooner.

• Fixed vs. variable - Variable-rate mortgages have been a winning strategy over the long term, but fixed rate mortgages (currently at historic lows) provide cost certainty and peace of mind.

• Stress-test your mortgage payments - Use a mortgage payment based on a higher rate to stress-test your budget; total housing costs (mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance, etc.) should not consume more than one-third of household income.

Applying for pre-approval
A pre-approval establishes the amount you can reasonably afford to borrow towards the purchase of your first home. Consider the following benefits to getting pre-approved:

• Have a good idea of your finances - You will receive a better idea of how much you are qualified to borrow, saving time looking at homes that meet your affordability range. Your term and amortization, as well as estimated monthly payments, are provided at approval so you can use these figures when planning your overall budget.

• Moving quickly - If you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll be able to move quickly to make an offer when you finally find the perfect home for you.

Source: BMO Harris

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spring Season Raises Growing Concerns for Deck Collapses

May 6, 2013 1:08 am

Spring is synonymous with deck season and barbecuing, but is also the time of year when the majority of deck collapses occur. There is also a heightened risk of deck failures in areas that get a considerable amount of winter moisture, and freeze and thaw weather.

An improperly built or deteriorating deck can cause unnecessary and often serious injuries, even death. Between 2003 and 2007, deck failures or collapses caused close to 35,000 injuries and several deaths in North America. With over 40 million decks and patios in North America over 20 years old, there is a significant safety concern as collapses have been increasing at an alarming rate, causing injuries and property damage.

"The reasons behind a deck collapse can range from the age of the deck, to poor maintenance, exceeding load capacity and poorly built systems," said Tory Weber, CEO of SigmaDek. "We see homeowners who put a hot tub on the deck, fill it with thousands of pounds of water, then add eight people to it, and never do an inspection first."

The North America Deck and Railing Association shares tips for consumers to consider before deck season. They should look for:

• Split and decaying wood: This includes ledger board, support posts, joists, deck boards, railings and stairs.
• Sound flashing: Flashing is a metal or plastic guard that directs water out and away from sensitive areas. It's often installed where the deck and house come together, keeping moisture and debris from collecting between the house and the deck's ledger board.
• Loose or corroded fasteners: This includes nails, screws or anchor in the ledger board.
• All railings and banisters are secure.
• Stairs are in place and secure.
• Any source of fire is placed well away from flammable surfaces.

Source: SigmaDek

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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