Edward E. Hodgson Jr.RE/MAX 440 photo collage
Home
Market Snapshot
My Listings
View Area Listings
Foreclosures
Short Sales
Inside Tours
Federal Home Buyers Tax Credit
Mortgage Info
Community Info
School Info
About Me
Ed's Blog
Contact Me
Login
Helpful Links
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

My Blog

http://rrein.rismedia.com/feeds/15985/news.rss

Foreclosure Mediation Can Save Millions of Homes, Says New Report

February 7, 2012 4:38 am

According to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), a proven solution is already in place to head off the mounting foreclosure problem in the United States. The report, “Rebuilding America: How States Can Save Millions of Homes through Foreclosure Mediation,” documents how states with strong programs are preventing foreclosures while saving money for investors and taxpayers.

The National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) is a non-profit organization specializing in consumer issues on behalf of low-income and other vulnerable people. This nationwide report reviews existing programs in 19 states and makes recommendations for best practices for all states to adopt, using foreclosure mediation data from the last three years to draw its conclusions. The report includes examples of programs that are more successful (Connecticut, Nevada, and New York) and those that are less so, and provides a history of documented servicer problems and the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Highlights and key recommendations from the report include:
  • Foreclosure mediation programs and conferences provide substantial community benefits at little or no cost. Mediation fees average from none to less than $1,000, typically paid by the homeowner and/or the mortgage lender. In comparison, investors lost an average $145,000 per home foreclosure in 2008, and foreclosures just in California have resulted in nearly $500 billion in aggregate direct and indirect costs.
  • Effective mediation programs do not prolong foreclosures. Most mediation programs work within the time frames for existing state laws. In Philadelphia, for example, the typical foreclosure case spent 53 days in a foreclosure conference while the average time frame to complete an uncontested foreclosure was 10 months.
  • Foreclosure mediation programs connect borrowers with housing counselors. Borrowers who receive housing counseling are much more likely to avoid foreclosure and obtain affordable as well as sustainable loan modifications. According to a recent study, 63 percent of borrowers who obtained modifications with counseling sustained the modifications, while only 8 percent of borrowers who obtained modifications without counseling sustained them.
  • Not all foreclosure mediation programs are equal; all states should adopt foreclosure mediation programs with enforceable standards and robust outreach as permanent features of state foreclosure laws as quickly as possible.
  • Strong foreclosure mediation programs can work hand-in-hand with other tools to rebuild the nation's broken mortgage market and should be used to maximize HAMP modifications. As documented in previous NCLC reports, servicers can make sustainable loan modifications yet many choose not to do so. The modified loans' default rate over one year dropped from 56.2 percent in 2008 to 25.7 percent in 2010. HAMP loan modifications were the most sustainable of all with a 19.4 percent (2010) and 17.3 percent (2011) redefault rate after one year.
  • Policymakers can use mediation programs to help preserve minority homeownership; gains made over the last decade are vanishing. Many minority families were initially targeted for unaffordable subprime loans, and are denied loan modifications more often and steered into less affordable non-HAMP loan modifications more frequently than non-minority homeowners. Mediation programs provide needed oversight over practices that continue to disproportionately impact minorities.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Know Your Water-Line Responsibilities

February 7, 2012 4:38 am

A recent national survey conducted by GfK Roper Custom Research finds that less than 50 percent of homeowners surveyed know that they are responsible for repairs to the water line on their property. In fact, according to the report, one-third of all responding homeowners assume their local utility is responsible for the cost of a burst water line between their house and the street, when this is usually not the case. Such lack of awareness often leads to unexpected and expensive repairs for homeowners.

Typically the homeowner is responsible for the water service line from the curb or well casing all the way to the home, connecting to the water heater, sinks, showers and more, explains HomeServe, a company that offers Water Service Line Protection. Temperature changes, shifting soil or the age of the line can all cause the line to become damaged. Many times this results in a loss of water pressure or a loss of water altogether. In other instances, the effects will not be noticed until there is a spike in the water bill due to an underground leak. Repairing a water service line can cost more than $2,000.

If a water line does break, don’t panic. The following will determine the degree of the problem and how you react to it:
  • The point of the leak on the water main.
  • The time of day the water line break occurs.
  • The severity of the water main break.
  • The age and type of the existing water line.
If the water main break occurs inside the basement, a sewer trap can be opened to give immediate relief or a sump pump with a float switch can be installed until a water line repair crew arrives. Typically, if the water line break is in the front of the house or the roadway, waiting for service during normal work hours poses no danger or threat to your property. If water service is interrupted to your property, oftentimes, a temporary connection will be made to a neighbor’s house.

Companies such as HomeServe offer service plans for treating such water-line issues, which entitles you to 24/7 service. Find out the local water main servicers in your area and add their numbers to your emergency contact list.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

'Dirty Work' Still Left to Women

February 6, 2012 4:36 am

The role men play inside the home has certainly started to evolve compared to 30 years ago, and most men seem to be stepping up to help with household chores. But is it enough and are they given credit for their efforts by their female counterparts? Apparently not. The makers of Scrubbing Bubbles® recently released the second annual Dirty Work Index™ survey, and found when it comes to cleaning, women still play the dominant role and in fact, may not be ready to share the spotlight even though they want more help.

According to the survey, when it comes to cleaning, women think they do it all. In fact, 58 percent of women say it's their "job" to clean, and a quarter (25 percent) of all women feels as if they are the cleaning "leader" in their homes. Conversely, more than half of women confided that they want more overall help from their partner or spouse, but 38 percent don't trust them to meet their standards of cleanliness.

However, the survey revealed that men are helping around the house—they just aren't receiving credit where credit's due. Forty-five percent of men surveyed say it's their job to clean and contribute to the household accordingly. More surprisingly, nearly 75 percent of men claim to clean to make their spouse or partner happy – demonstrating they do care about helping out and are picking up the slack.

From February 2012 through June 2012, author and speaker John Gray will be offering tips and advice to couples on how to conquer household chores and create more harmony at home on the Scubbing Bubble Facebook page. In the meantime, he offers this advice for creating the best atmosphere at home:
  • Define the roles: It's important to identify all the household chores and discuss who will have ownership of each.
  • Discuss expectations: The results showed that women don't trust men to meet their standards of clean. Gray recommends that women actually show men how they want the house cleaned and that couples discuss what clean means to each of them.
  • Look for time-saving cleaning tools: Stock your home with cleaning products that are easy to use and efficient.
  • Remember to say thank you: Whether or not the bathroom shines the way you want, don't forget to say thank you for making the effort.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

8 Ways to Protect Yourself from an Appliance Fire

February 6, 2012 4:36 am

Appliances can pose a fire hazard even when they are not in use, according to a recent investigation by Consumer Reports. While human error can play a role, especially in fires involving cooking appliances and clothes dryers, Consumer Reports' in-depth analysis of federal fire data revealed that only about half of all appliance fires could be attributed to human mistakes—much of the rest appear to be caused by problems with the appliances themselves.

In fact, in the past five years, more than 15 million appliance units have been recalled by the CPSC and manufacturers for defects that could cause a fire; 7.3 million (almost half) of the recalled units were dishwashers. Consumer Reports offers the following eight steps homeowners can take to protect themselves:
  1. Register new appliances. It is critical that consumers register their products with manufacturers in order to be promptly notified in the event of a recall. Consumers concerned about their privacy or junk mail need only provide manufacturers with their name, contact information and the appliance's model number.
  2. Check for recalls. Consumers can sign up for alerts at www.recalls.gov. Those who move into a home with existing appliances should record their make and model and check company websites for any recalls or review customers' experiences with those products at www.SaferProducts.gov.
  3. Install fire-prevention equipment. Each level of a home and every bedroom should have a working smoke alarm. Consumer Reports recommends smoke alarms have both photoelectric and ionization sensors to provide the fastest response to any type of fire. Also, keep one full-floor fire extinguisher (rated 2-A:10-B:C or greater) on every level, plus a smaller supplemental unit in the kitchen.
  4. Inspect power cords. Check for frayed power cords and never route electric cords (including extension cords) under carpeting, where they can overheat or be damaged by furniture.
  5. Check home wiring. The electrical wiring in older homes cannot always handle the demands of modern appliances. Systems should be inspected by a qualified electrician. An upgrade to wiring may cost several hundred dollars, but is likely worth the added expense.
  6. Practice kitchen safety. Unattended cooking is a common fire-starter, whether using a range or microwave oven. If small children are home, maintain a kids-free-zone of at least 3 feet and use back burners when possible. Consumers should unplug their small appliances, including toasters and coffeemakers, when not in use and or when planning to be away for long periods.
  7. Clear range hoods. Grease buildup in range hoods is another fire hazard, so be sure to clean the vents regularly.
  8. Keep dryer vents clear. Clean the lint screen in the dryer regularly to avoid buildup, which has been listed as a factor in many fires. Use rigid metal dryer ducts instead of flexible ducts made of foil or plastic, which can sag and let lint build. Check ducts regularly and remove any lint buildup.
Source: www.ConsumerReports.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Mortgage Applications down Nearly 3 Percent Last Week

February 6, 2012 4:36 am

Mortgage applications decreased 2.9 percent last week from the previous week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 27, 2012.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.9 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 9.0 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 3.6 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1.7 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 17.1 percent compared with the previous week and was 4.3 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 80.0 percent of total applications from 81.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.6 percent from 5.3 percent of total applications from the previous week.

“The Federal Reserve surprised the market by indicating that short-term rates were likely to stay at their current low-levels until the end of 2014. Longer-term treasury rates dropped in response, and mortgage rates for the week were down slightly as a result,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. Fratantoni continued, “Although total application volume dropped on an adjusted basis relative to last week, refinance volume remains high, with survey participants reporting that the expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) contributed to roughly 10 percent of their refinance activity.”

In December 2011, Connecticut had the largest increase in refinance applications, increasing by 80.1 percent from November. Maine saw a 30.8 percent increase in applications for home purchase, which was the largest state-increase in applications for home purchase. Only 12 states had a decrease in home purchase activity in December, while every state in the U.S. saw an increase in refinance volume.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

College Decorating on a Budget

February 3, 2012 4:30 am

Even though the typical college student is on a tight budget, there are still clever ways to add style to dorm rooms and off-campus apartments.

According to doityourself.com, industry designers say this year's color trends are funky, bright and lively, but minimalist-inspired earth tones are also popular. While painting walls may not be allowed, students can add color with liquid fabric starch, which can be removed easily and reused.

Students should also be encouraged to create custom wall art with their own photography. Interior Designer Libby Langdon (libbylangdon.com) suggests retouching the pictures to black and white and then adding a stylish frame in chrome or black. A gallery effect can be achieved by grouping several pictures together. John Franke, a design expert of the Comfort Council , recommends buying plexi-glass fitted to the size of your desk and then placing pictures and artwork underneath.

The one item students are likely to use most in their dorm rooms is the bed. Selecting the right comforter, therefore, is essential, and should reflect the student’s sense of style. Instead of choosing drab sheets that blend into the background, select vibrant colors. And don’t forget about the floor. Interior Designer Sarit Catz (saritcatz.com) recommends using a washable and durable floor paint to make bland floors more appealing.

Given the limited space in most college housing, choose items that can double as storage space and furniture, such as a trunk that can also be a side table. And, while milk crates never go out of style on the college scene, consider silver mesh cubes for an updated look.

Langdon also suggests making your room look more spacious with the right lighting and mirrors. Tall standing lamps are usually good at providing an entire room with ample light for reading, as opposed to harsh fluorescents. A strategically placed mirror – opposite something attractive, like a poster or window – can magically make a room appear larger.

Source: doityourself.com

Tags:

Women Weigh in on the Super Bowl

February 3, 2012 4:30 am

While many may think the Super Bowl is a man’s domain, women have a lot to say about it, too. Online dating website Zoosk.com recently surveyed more than 1,000 single women in the U.S. to determine their thoughts on the Big Game. Here, some highlights from the survey findings:

  • 91 percent of single women view being taken to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis as a “dream date.”
  • 51 percent of women think the New England Patriots will win.
  • 49 percent of women think the New York Giants will win.
  • 66 percent of females think that the game is the best part.
  • 20 percent are only watching for the commercial entertainment.
  • 14 percent of women tune in for the halftime show.
  • 60 percent of single women think that Quarterback, Tom Brady is the sexiest Patriot.
  • 61 percent of single women think that Quarterback, Eli Manning is the sexiest Giant.
  • 34 percent of single women plan to participate in a pool this year.

The Zoosk poll was conducted online in January 2012 and fielded 1,012 responses from single women in the United States who use Zoosk.


Tags:

Behind on Mortgage Payments? What You Can Do

February 3, 2012 4:30 am

From losing your job to being confronted with unexpected medical bills, there are many factors in today’s world that can lead to falling behind on your mortgage payments. While it may be tempting to ignore the problem, taking proactive steps is the best way to protect your credit and avoid losing your home. The longer you wait to call, the fewer options you will have.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, many loan servicers are expanding the options available to borrowers in an effort to stem the foreclosure crisis. So try calling your lender again even if your request has been turned down before. And keep in mind that lenders are most likely swamped with such calls, so be prepared to be patient and keep trying .

The FTC says that you may qualify for a loan modification under the Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) if:
  • Your home is your primary residence
  • You owe less than $729,750 on your first mortgage
  • You got your mortgage before January 1, 2009
  • Your payment on your first mortgage (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, if applicable) is more than 31 percent of your current gross income
  • You can’t afford your mortgage payment because of a financial hardship, like a job loss or medical bills
If you meet these qualifications, have the following documentation ready and call your lender:
  • Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs
  • Your most recent income tax return
  • Information about your savings and other assets
  • Your monthly mortgage statement
  • Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on your home
  • Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on your credit cards
  • Account balances and monthly payments on your other debts, like student loans or car loans
  • A completed Hardship Affidavit describing the circumstances responsible for the decrease in your income or the increase in your expenses
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Tags:

Caregivers: Don’t Miss Out on Tax Deductions

February 2, 2012 4:30 am

People taking care of an elderly family member might be eligible for tax deductions they are not even aware of, from hearing aids, walkers and dentures to the cost of transporting an elder to the doctor. Furthermore, if they pay over half of the elder's expenses for food, housing and medical supplies, the caregiver might be able to claim the elder as a dependent, a deduction worth thousands of dollars. However, caregivers often don't know the tax laws and short-change themselves come tax time.

According to AgingCare.com, caregivers should be aware of the following potential tax deductions:
  • Medical Expenses. Nearly 100 medical costs can be deducted, related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of disease or costs for treating any part of the body. Those include equipment, services and supplies, ranging from glasses to eye surgery to acupuncture to prescriptions.
  • Long-term health care costs. An often-missed expense is the amount paid for long-term care services and long-term care insurance (that's a more limited deduction, depending on age). Rehabilitation, therapeutic, preventative and personal care services are among those that qualify as long-term care services, if your family member is chronically ill and if it's part of a plan set by a health care practitioner. Someone is considered chronically ill if they can't perform at least two activities of daily living (such as eating, toileting, bathing and dressing) without substantial assistance from someone else.
  • Mileage. From weekly doctor's appointments to out-of-town visits with a specialist or for a procedure, the miles you log for your parents' medical needs can be deducted. You can qualify for this deduction if your parent is considered a dependent. You can take 19 cents a mile for 2011, for medical mileage. If you're staying overnight for a medical purpose, deduct $50 per night, for each person, for lodging.
  • Home improvements for aging adults. Investing in ramps for a wheelchair-bound parent, handrails and grab bars in the bathroom or a stepless shower can be part of a deduction. It doesn't matter if the improvements are in your home or your parent’s home, as long as it doesn't add value to the house. According to the IRS, the cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in your property value. Other changes, such as widening doorways and hallways, lowering kitchen cabinets and installing lifts, also typically do not add value to houses.
  • Mortgage interest. If you are paying interest on your or your parents' home loans, construction loans or home equity lines of credit, it's deductible. There are some limitations, though, so you need to discuss with your accountant.
  • Estate tax on an inherited IRA. This is not as easy as deducting medical expenses or charitable contributions, but it is worth checking out. If you inherited an IRA from your parents, you could take a deduction for the federal estate tax paid on IRA income.

Tags:

Home Really is Where the Heart is, Says Survey

February 2, 2012 4:30 am

This just in: One-third of Americans would choose their dream home over their dream significant other! These and other interesting statistics come from a recent survey conducted by Rent.com about love in order to better understand renter habits about relationships and moving in together. Here are a few other highlights from the survey data:
  • 28 percent of men have delayed a break-up with someone they were living with because they didn’t want to look for a new place to live, while in comparison, 21 percent of women have done the same.
  • While 39 percent of respondents aged 18-34 have delayed a break-up with someone they were living with because they didn’t want to look for a new place to live, only 22 percent of respondents aged 35-54 and 17 percent of respondents aged 55+ have done the same.
  • 37 percent of those who delayed a break-up waited one year or more to end ties with their significant other, while 35 percent waited six months and 28 percent waited 3 months.
  • 40 percent of females who delayed a break-up waited one year or more to end ties with their significant other, while 32 percent of males waited one year or more.
  • 29 percent of females would choose their dream home over their dream significant other, while 32 percent of males would choose their dream home over their dream significant other.
  • 25 percent of respondents aged 55+ would choose their dream home over their dream significant other, while 44 percent of respondents aged 18-34 would choose their dream home over their dream significant other.

Tags:


Copyright© 2017 by  eWebEngine - A Division of Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies
Powered by Lone Wolf - Real Estate Technologies
Each RE/MAX office is independently owned and operated Equal Housing Opportunity
RE/MAX 440, PA
Agents Only