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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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Majority of Refinancing Borrowers Choose Fixed-Rate Mortgages

May 15, 2012 5:38 am

In the first quarter of 2012, fixed-rate loans accounted for more than 95 percent of refinance loans, based on the Freddie Mac Quarterly Product Transition Report released today. Refinancing borrowers clearly preferred fixed-rate loans, regardless of whether their original loan was an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a fixed-rate.

Of borrowers who refinanced during the first quarter of 2012, 31 percent reduced their loan term by paying off a 30-year loan and replacing it with a 20-year, 15-year, or other shorter-term loan. In addition, 66 percent of borrowers kept the same term as the loan that they had paid off.

Sixty-eight percent of borrowers who had a hybrid ARM chose a fixed-rate loan during the first quarter, the highest share since the first quarter of last year, while the remaining 32 percent chose to refinance into the same type of product.

According to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, "Fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.92 percent for 30-year loans and 3.19 percent for 15-year product during the first quarter in Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey ®, well below long-term averages.”

“For borrowers motivated to refinance by low fixed-rates, they could obtain even lower rates by shortening their term,” adds Nothaft. “Further, under the enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program—HARP—announced by FHFA on October 24, 2011, certain risk-based fees are waived for HARP borrowers who refinance into shorter-term loans."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Crazy Reasons to Quit

May 14, 2012 5:38 am

A stronger economy often gives workers greater courage to change jobs, but the excuses offered for jumping ship can leave many employers perplexed. A new OfficeTeam survey reveals the wackiest reasons job seekers have given for handing in their notice. Here are some examples:
  • "Someone left because her boss lost the dog she had given him."
  • "Our employee said he was joining the circus."
  • "One person left because she lost her cellphone too many times at work."
  • "We had someone quit to participate in a reality show."
  • "An employee said it was his routine to change jobs every six months."
The survey was developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm; it is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada.

Some individuals simply had to follow their true calling:
  • "One worker left to become an apple farmer."
  • "A staff member quit to climb Mount Everest."
  • "There was an individual who left to play the trombone."
  • "An employee wanted to enter a beauty contest."
  • "One worker quit to join a rock band."
It may be hard to fault these professionals for their honesty:
  • "A guy said he was making too much money and didn't feel he was worth it."
  • "One person left because she didn't want to work so hard."
  • "An individual said he was bored."
  • "Someone quit because she was going to live off her trust fund."
  • "An employee said work was getting in the way of having fun."
  • "A person quit because informal dress was not allowed."
  • "The worker told us he just couldn't get up in the morning."
OfficeTeam offers five tips for leaving a job on good terms:
  1. Give proper notice. Tell your boss about your departure first so he or she doesn't hear it through the grapevine. Providing two weeks notice is standard, but if your schedule is flexible, offer to stay longer to train a replacement.
  2. Get things in order. Supply written instructions to team members on projects and make sure they have access to the tools and information needed to complete assignments.
  3. Stay positive. Take the time to say goodbye and thank you to colleagues. Provide your contact information and reach out to those with whom you'd like to keep in touch.
  4. Don't slack off. Use your last weeks on the job to complete as much work as possible on outstanding projects. You want to be remembered as a strong contributor to the end.
  5. Talk before you walk. Participate in an exit interview if it's offered. Be honest with your feedback, but keep it constructive and professional. Your comments and suggestions could potentially help to improve the workplace.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Most Consumers Expect More from Technology

May 14, 2012 5:38 am

What people want most from their smartphones, tablets, home theater and home appliances is simplicity, according to the new Ketchum Digital Living Index, conducted by global communications firm Ketchum. The study showed that 76 percent of consumers said they are not very satisfied with technology's ability to make their life simpler. Responses from 6,000 consumers in six countries revealed more prefer technology to be easy to use (54 percent) and simplify their life (46 percent) than entertain them (35 percent) or signal who they are to the world (11 percent).

"The most surprising finding in the study is the overwhelming desire for simplification. It seems counter-intuitive when technology is always about being bigger or better or faster, but the data show that what people really want is to understand how all of these devices can get them to their desired experience easily," said Esty Pujadas, partner and director of Ketchum's Global Technology Practice. "Manufacturers need to use less so-called jargon monoxide and communicate more about the human experience, not just about the object."

This is particularly true considering that the sheer volume and pace at which new technologies are brought to market can make it hard for people to keep up.

The Index reveals that there are four kinds of Digital Living natives:
  • The largest group are the Enthusiasts (37 percent of the study's global population), who are passionate about technology and willing to sacrifice simplification for empowerment.
  • The next largest are Infomaniacs (25 percent), who value getting information and discovering new experiences even more than relating better to other people.
  • Pragmatists (22 percent) are less likely to love technology, but value it as very helpful in relating better to others, getting things done, and managing health and wellness.
  • Disconnects (16 percent) are noticeably unemotional about technology; they place a high value on simplification instead of empowerment or enrichment.

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Consumer Sentiment Reaches a Post-Recession High

May 14, 2012 5:38 am

According to a recent Marketwatch report, the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters index rose to 77.8 from 76.4 in April. This figure represents the highest reading since January 2008, one month after the recession began. Additionally, the current economic conditions index jumped to 87.3, the best reading since January 2008, from 82.9 in April. That said, consumer expectations also fell.

According to the Marketwatch report, this picture could be explained by the combination of falling gasoline prices along with April’s report of slowing jobs growth, which could be weighing on expectations.

“That is good news, and is thematically consistent with the view that the softening in recent labor data has more to do with seasonal pay back than a shift lower in underlying job demand,” said Eric Green of TD Securities.

Source: Marketwatch

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Your Lawn May Look Good, but How’s Your 'Hardscaping?'

May 11, 2012 5:32 am

Spring sets all homeowners in motion to make sure their landscaping is up to par and ready for warm-weather entertaining. But while landscapes and lawns require ongoing maintenance, your home’s “hardscape” usually represents a one-time investment.

According to BobVilla.com, more and more homeowners are investing bigger dollars in their outdoor area’s hardscape by adding outdoor kitchens, fire pits and seating areas. Creating a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing outdoor space enhances both your quality of living and your home’s resale value. According to a Clemson University study, homes with an excellent outdoor environment can anticipate a sale price that is about 6 - 7 percent higher than expected.

Installing decks and pavers are popular hardscaping projects that pay immediate dividends, says Vila. But before you dive into your hardscaping project, make sure you have a long-term plan that realistically fits your budget. Outdoor kitchens are difficult to move once installed. When choosing a location for your fire pit, take gas and water line locations into consideration.

If you aren’t ready to commit to a hardscape plan, says Vila, then start slowly and get that grill you’ve been wanting and that portable fire pit that you can try out in different spots around your yard.
Source: Bobvila.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Moms Add Up

May 11, 2012 5:32 am

While Mother’s Day presents a special opportunity to show appreciation and devotion to our respective moms, it’s also the perfect time to see how the “mom demographic” is evolving.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau included in a Washington Post article, mothers are—not unexpectedly—a diverse lot.

Here are some interesting stats on American moms:
  • Mothers total about 85.4 million, with about four million giving birth in the past year.
  • In 2008, the last year recorded, the average age for giving birth was 25.1 years old. That 0.1 is important because it represents a slight age increase from the previous two years. Analysts say that increase is due mostly to fewer births among the younger set of mothers.
  • The number of stay-at-home mothers has remained relatively stable despite the challenging economy. In 2011, 23 percent of married mothers with children under 15 were classified as stay-at-home. In 2007, before the recession, it was 24 percent.
  • The number of single moms, however, has spiked. In 2011, 10 million mothers of children 18 or younger were single. In 1970, that number was just 3.4 million.
  • In 2010, about 39 percent of women who gave birth were not married, or were separated, or “married but with an absent spouse,” according to the census.
  • The most popular names bestowed upon babies in 2010 were Jacob and Isabella.
Source: WashingtonPost.com

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The Top U.S. Cities for New Home Construction

May 11, 2012 5:32 am

While construction activity came to a near-halt after the housing bubble burst, things are finally looking up, according to a recent report in Atlantic Cities.

As with all real estate, construction is also local, however. While construction is gearing up in some markets, it remains dormant in others. According to Atlantic Cities, understanding construction patterns is critical for understanding the future of cities, for two reasons.

First, construction activity is a bet on future growth, as developers will only build in areas where they believe future demand for housing is strong. Construction is a clear signal of builder confidence in an area. Second, construction has a long-term impact on urban patterns, affecting a city’s density and sprawl.

What do construction patterns say about the future of cities in America? Atlantic Cities cites recent Census Bureau data on construction permits issued by localities in 2011, including whether those permits were for single-family homes or units in multi-family buildings.

The metro areas with the most construction permits were:
  • Houston, Texas - 31,271
  • Dallas, Texas – 18,686
  • Washington, DC – 18,686
  • New York, N.Y. – 13,973
  • Austin, Texas – 10,239
  • Los Angeles, Calif. - 9,895
  • Phoenix, Ariz. – 9,081
  • Seattle, Wash. – 8,664
  • Atlanta, Ga. - 8,634
  • San Antonio, Texas – 7,127
More permits were issued in the Houston metro area than in any other metro, by far. Four of the top ten metros were in Texas. But this list is dominated by large metro areas, and bigger areas are expected to have more construction activity. Among the cities with the most amount of construction permits per 1,000 homes are: El Paso, Texas; Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Houston, Texas; Charleston, S.C.; Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Ark.; and Baton Rouge, La.

The rate of construction is highest in metros within Texas and the Carolinas and lowest in the Northeast and Midwest. The rate of construction is higher across Texas, the mid-South and Mountain states, but lower in New England, the Great Lakes, South Florida and most of coastal California.

Source: The Atlantic Cities – the atlanticcities.com

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Record Summer Forecasted for International Air Travel

May 10, 2012 5:32 am

Airline passengers can expect full flights this summer thanks to an improving economy and a record number of people traveling internationally.

In its annual summer forecast, Airlines for America (A4A), the trade association for leading U.S. airlines, predicted that from June through August, U.S. airlines will carry an average of 2.24 million travelers globally every day. Total passenger volumes remain 5 percent below the summer 2007 all-time high of 217.6 million.

A4A also expects a record number of people to travel internationally. Of the 206.2 million total passengers expected to travel on U.S. airlines this summer, 26.8 million will be traveling on international flights. This estimate surpasses last summer's record of 26.3 million passengers flown on international flights. Domestically, 179.4 million passengers are expected to fly this summer, comparable to summer 2011.

The good news for travelers, says A4A, is that airfares have not kept pace with the inflation rate, which rose 31 percent since 2000. Over the same period, average domestic airfares, per the Department of Transportation, rose just 9 percent, or 15 percent including optional ancillary services – less than half the rate of U.S. inflation.

A4A encourages passengers to consult its resource page for recommended travel tips. In particular, travelers are advised to keep in mind the following:
  • Review the website of the airline on which you are flying for respective policies, amenities, customer-service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
  • Before departing to the airport, be sure to check the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport delay map.
  • Remember that TSA requires that air travelers follow its 3-1-1 Rule for liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags when passing through security checkpoints.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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95 Million Americans Use Social Media to Shop

May 10, 2012 5:32 am

According to a new study, "SocialShop," released by Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide, 42 percent of Americans are using social media to shop – this equates to nearly 95 million social shoppers in the U.S. – and that number continues to rise. In fact, when asked how often social media is used to shop today versus a year ago, almost 73 percent of people confirmed they are using it more.

SocialShop – a national quantitative and qualitative research study – looks at social media usage from the eyes of a shopper to understand the influence each respective platform has on a person's buying behavior.

From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Groupon, people of all ages are using social networking sites and other user-generated content platforms as shopping tools. In fact, SocialShop found 42 percent of social shoppers are using Facebook more than they were a year ago, while 55 percent of shoppers are utilizing daily deals more and 46 percent of shoppers have increased engagement on review sites and forums.

For brands, using social media in the wrong way can have a negative impact on relationships. Forty-four percent of social shoppers said they had stopped interacting with brands on Facebook due to lack of relevant or valuable posts.

Within SocialShop, researchers identified six shopper archetypes reflecting the needs and habits of today's social shoppers:

Savvy Passionista - The Social Trendsetter
The Savvy Passionista is a heavy social shopper using social media channels to broadcast the latest trends and stay connected with favorite brands. Savvy Passionistas are indulgent and use social channels to express feelings and stay relevant and "in-the-know."

Opportunistic Adventurer - The Daily Dealaholic
Opportunistic Adventurers are on a mission to score fun and unexpected deals. With impulsive social shopping tendencies, this shopper demands timely and relevant deals.

Quality Devotee - The High Maintenance, High Standards Shopper
Quality Devotees use social media to shape purchasing decisions, validate choice and to feel empowered when making a purchase. No matter the time or research involved, Quality Devotees will find the best product available.

Strategic Saver: The Black Belted Negotiator
Strategic Savers use social media to comparison shop and spend time deal-digging only for their favorite brands.

Efficient Sprinter: The Few Dollars Shorter, Several Minutes Richer Shopper
Efficient Sprinters want to save time and use social media to select items that are considered most popular to simplify their shopping process.

Dollar Defaulter: The Dollar Sign Connoisseur
The Dollar Defaulter has just one social shopping goal: find the cheapest alternative. With utilitarian shopping needs, Dollar Defaulters choose only the lowest prices and do not feel loyal to specific brands.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Reclaiming Your Bedroom

May 10, 2012 5:32 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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