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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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How to Rid Your Home of Pests Before Winter Hits

September 30, 2016 2:27 am


No matter where you live, there’s always the potential for neighborhood residents—pests—to make your home their home.

Ridding your home of pests is best done before winter sets in, says Steve Evans of Underwriters Laboratories (SafeBee.com). Evans warns that mice and other rodents are known to chew the protective sheathing off electrical wires, leaving the underlying metal exposed. Unprotected wiring can short-circuit and spark, possibly leading to a house fire.

Fortunately, most homeowners can prevent pests from ever becoming a problem by sealing up every crevice in their home—but only if the situation is under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pest problems that call for professional evaluation should be dealt with as soon as possible, and preferably by a licensed exterminator.

If sealing is outside of your skill set, a drywall or masonry contractor may be needed, adds John Drengenberg of the CDC. Ensure the contractor fills holes inside the home first—outside holes should remain open temporarily so that rodents can exit.

Be cautious when cleaning, Evans says. Avoid sweeping or vacuuming in areas that have been infested—doing so can stir up dust and waste. Instead:

• Open windows to air out the infested area for at least half an hour before cleanup. Stay out of the area while it airs out.

• Wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask to avoid coming into contact with contaminated air or dust.

• Spray the infested area with bleach solution (one-part bleach to 10-parts water) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use disposable rags to remove any waste. Mop the floor with the same bleach solution.

• Dispose of trash in a sealed plastic bag.

• Remove your gloves and scrub your hands with hot, soapy water.

Do not attempt to clean the area if it is heavily infested, Drengenberg says. Consult with a pest control professional—he or she will not only perform the cleanup, but also educate you on health and safety.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spruce Up for Fall with Color

September 30, 2016 2:27 am


From cool blues and smoky greens inspired by scenic mountaintop views to warm neutrals reminiscent of transitioning leaves, this season’s paint trends, according to Ace Hardware design experts Nathan Fischer, Katie Reynolds and Julie Richard, create classic, elegant palettes that bring the outdoors in. Below, the designers’ top paint picks and ideas for fall:

• Changing the color of the front door to a natural green, with accents like Adirondack chairs or planters in the same color family.

• Make your home feel warmer with colors like chocolate brown or creamy beige in a variety of accessories, such as lampshades or a rug.

• Neutrals don't have to be boring. Try incorporating rich beige with lavender undertones to add a whimsical twist to a room.

• White walls are anything but simple. Go for soft, off-whites to achieve a clean, polished and timeless look.

• Use darker neutrals—think cool charcoal or deep brown—sparingly on accent pieces, such as a side table or a headboard, to add sophisticated dimension.

• Implement forest greens, which create a masculine aesthetic, in intimate spaces, like a bedroom or library.

• Mix in darker teal hues as an accent color, with more muted greens on walls or larger visual areas.

• Paint interior window frames in a cool-toned black to create the steel-frame, “modern-farmhouse” look popular this season.

• Go for the bold with a wowing red on kitchen stools, side tables or even picture frames—statement-making colors complement a neutral space.

Source: Ace Hardware
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Gym-Free Fitness Ideas

September 29, 2016 2:27 am


(BPT)—There’s no question visiting the gym is beneficial to your health—but a busy schedule, a tight budget (or, we’ll admit, laziness) can keep you from committing to a gym routine.

Being fit, fortunately, doesn’t require a gym membership, says Tavis Piattoly, an expert nutritionist and sports dietician who is the co-founder of My Sports Dietician. Piattoly’s gym-free, no-fuss regimen includes these anywhere, anytime ideas:

At Home – Don’t feel like trekking to the gym? No problem, says Piattoly. Do jumping jacks, lunges, planks, push-ups, shoulder presses with dumbbells, sit-ups or squats at home.

At Work – Overcoming the sedentary office lifestyle is as simple as parking farther from the door or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a five-minute break every hour to complete chair squats or seated leg raises, Piattoly advises.

On Errands – Avoid making the “I don’t have time” excuse—take a walk (or run) in the parking lot while you wait for your children to attend their extracurricular activities.

Outside – Outside, the fitness possibilities are endless, Piattoly says. Fishing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, paddle boarding and skiing are all excellent forms of outdoor exercise.

With Friends – It’s a fact: fitness is fun with friends. Piattoly suggests organizing a group for Frisbee, a pick-up game, a recurring relay race or swimming.

Fitness, gym-free or otherwise, is not complete without a balanced diet. The best meals, according to Piattoly, are ones with complex fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein, eaten every three to four hours. And, if your nutrients are lacking, Piattoly recommends a daily omega-3 supplement, which benefits several areas of the body.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting Tips When Selling Your Home

September 29, 2016 2:27 am


Getting ready to sell your home? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers’ attention is a fresh coat of paint—plus, it's a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated, which can translate to increased value.

Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers the following tips on choosing interior colors that appeal to buyers:

• First, McLean cautions painting everything white or beige, because your home might end up looking more utilitarian than stylish. Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors—warm browns and milky tans (think latte). Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges. Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays.

• Take the flooring into consideration, McLean recommends. Lay color chips on the floor to see how they pair—warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may warrant other colors.

• While neutrals are safe, don’t make the entire home so neutral that it’s boring, McLean adds. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade will add a designer look.

• Give a room life without getting too personal, says McLean. Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors—and buyers’ first thoughts may be that they will need to repaint.

• The best rooms to paint, according to McLean, are the kitchen and baths. In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, and olive and sage greens can make it feel garden-y and fresh. If you don't have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint, either in a solid color or with a decorative stencil. Bathrooms (and the laundry room) can tolerate brighter colors because they’re smaller, so play around a bit, McLean suggests—oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

• “Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall, near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry,” McLean says. “Live with the samples at least a full day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning may look dungeon-y at night.”

• Remember to consider the gloss level, McLean adds. Flat, velvet or eggshell finishes are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. (The higher gloss levels are easier to clean, so they are ideal for high-traffic areas.) Look for trim paint that is water-based, but with the upscale look of oil-based, suggests McLean.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Outdoor Renos Valuable Now and Later

September 29, 2016 2:27 am


Remodeling your house? Add an outdoor redo to the project.

According to a report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), an outdoor renovation can add significant value to a home come resale. The most valuable updates, per the report, are:

• Seeding the Lawn (Reaps 417 percent of its cost)
• Implementing a Standard Lawn Care Program (303 percent)
• Sodding (143 percent)

An outdoor renovation can also up the enjoyment factor—the “Joy Score,” according to the report. The highest project on the Joy Score scale? A pool, though it is one of the least profitable at a 50 percent return-on-investment.

The most appealing projects following a pool, the report found, are an overall landscape upgrade and a new wood deck.

“Realtors® understand the importance of curb appeal because when it is time to sell, a home's exterior is its first impression to potential buyers,” says 2016 NAR President Tom Salomone. “Realtors® also know that these projects—from flowerbeds to fire pits—can bring homeowners who have no plans to sell even more enjoyment and satisfaction in their home.

"Homeowners looking to take on large, expensive outdoor projects should do so for themselves, for the enjoyment they and their family will gain from the finished results, and not only to improve the value of their home for when they sell,” Salomone continues. “Smaller projects will bring potential sellers the most value back upon resale—and have the benefit of costing less up front.”

“Homeowners working with a landscape professional to embark on renovations—whether that means enhancing their turf and growing a lush lawn, rehauling their entire landscape, or incorporating new features like patios and exterior fireplaces—can rest assured that they are making a smart, worthwhile investment,” adds Missy Henriksen, vice president, Public Affairs, NALP. “Further, that investment is coupled with the immediate happiness received by beautiful landscaping and the long-term enjoyment of outdoor living spaces, which are priceless.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Ways to Host a Rooftop Party

September 28, 2016 2:27 am


Next time you’re in the city, look up—rooftops have become the hot new entertaining space for not only restaurants and bars, but also urban dwellings. Offering great views and fresh air, the roof transforms an otherwise cramped gathering into a unique outdoor festivity.

Next time you take the party to the top, be a good neighbor by following these etiquette tips from Instrata Lifestyle Residences Concierge Caitlin Porpora:

1. Know your building’s rules. Before having a rooftop gathering, be sure to contact the building manager to make sure you’re up to speed on rules and regulations.

2. If you’re entertaining a large group, be considerate of your neighbors. Take turns using common amenities like grills and lounge chairs, clean up after yourselves, and keep the noise levels reasonable.

3. Invite neighbors to join the party. If you’re worried your event might irk other residents, invite them to join in the festivities. Even if they decline, the invitation invokes good will and increased tolerance.

4. No breakables, please. Even the trendiest hotels in New York City use only plastic glasses at their rooftop bars. Follow suit and avoid any accidents that could arise from broken glass or ceramics.

5. Consider the smell factor. Avoid cooking anything that will cause strong, unpleasant odors, or that might create a lot of smoke while on the grill.

6. Don’t make a scene. Rooftops are usually shared spaces so keep your party under control—you don’t want to become the talk of the building.

7. Limit cell phone use. If you have to make a call, keep it brief and quiet.

8. Don’t be a party crasher. Some buildings require residents to rent out the space for a nominal fee. If you haven’t been invited, but would like to use the roof deck, as well, politely approach the host to see if you can join in.

Source: Instrata Lifestyle Residences

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Ready Your Home Heating System for Winter

September 28, 2016 2:27 am


There are three words no homeowner wants to hear in winter: “The heat’s out.”

That’s exactly what can happen if you don’t maintain your heating system, say the experts at the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). To ensure that doesn’t happen, AHRI’s experts recommend the following prep list.

1. Call the Pros – Have your heating system serviced ahead of winter to keep it operating efficiently all season long. Consult the database of certified professionals at NATEX.org (North American Technician Excellence [NATE]) for a technician in your area.

2. Clear the Pump – Remove debris that may have accumulated around the heat pump throughout the year—leaves and the like can block air flow through the outdoor unit, reducing its efficiency.

3. Install a Smart Thermostat – Set up a programmable thermostat to not only maximize energy savings, but also to keep your house’s structure and systems protected while you’re not home.

4. Remove Obstructions – Move furniture away from baseboards, radiators or vents to keep heat flowing freely throughout the home—obstructed airways can result in higher energy consumption.

5. Replace the Filter – Swap out the filter in your heating system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A clogged filter can muck up the heat exchanger with dust; a fresh filter can reduce energy consumption by as much as 15 percent.

Source: Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Ask: Will a Rise in the Key Interest Rate Impact My Mortgage Payment?

September 28, 2016 2:27 am


Approximately 90 million people could see an increase in their monthly debt payments, including their mortgages, should the Federal Reserve Board raise the key interest rate 0.25 percent, according to recently released research by TransUnion. Most of those people, however, would be able to afford the increase—in fact, 90 percent would see their debt payments go up by less than $10 per month, at an average $6.45.

“Most consumers have the financial capacity to absorb a $7 increase in their monthly payments, especially if they can plan ahead for the increased obligation,” said Nidhi Verma, senior director of Research and Consulting for TransUnion, in a statement.

Ten percent, however, do not. TransUnion researchers report that segment is susceptible to “payment shock,” a “change in monthly payment obligations.”

“Fortunately, we believe it is highly unlikely the Fed will raise rates more than 25 basis points at any one time over the near term,” said Verma. “This pace gives potentially impacted consumers an opportunity to adjust. In many cases, making minor changes to household spend would allow consumers to accommodate the payment shock.”

The key interest rate, or “benchmark,” informs the movement of mortgage rates, which, to date, remain attractively low.

Source: TransUnion

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Researchers: Retirement a 'Wobbly Three-Legged Stool'

September 27, 2016 2:24 am


Americans expect to encounter instability in retirement, as a “wobbly three-legged stool”—employer-sponsored benefits, personal savings and Social Security—teeters in the balance, according to recent research out of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS).

“Today's workers are grappling with retirement security and challenged by the wobbly three-legged stool comprising Social Security, employer-sponsored retirement benefits and personal savings,” explains Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS. “Although the Great Recession ended years ago, millions of Americans are still regaining their financial footing. As each year passes, people’s fears about our current retirement system come more sharply into focus.”

Seventy-one percent of Americans surveyed by TCRS expressed concern that Social Security will not be available when they are ready to retire, and just 16 percent “strongly” agreed that they are building a sustainable nest egg. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed reported expecting to continue to work in retirement, while 15 percent reported that work will be their primary source of income.

“Amid retirement savings shortfalls, American workers are attempting to prop up our system’s three-legged stool by adding a fourth leg: working during retirement," Collinson says.

“Baby boomers’ vision can only be achieved if they are proactive about staying employable and if employment opportunities are available to them. As part of their retirement planning, baby boomers should create a ‘Plan B’ if retirement happens unexpectedly due to job loss, health issues, or other intervening circumstances,” adds Collinson.

Of the baby boomers surveyed by TCRS, 78 percent reported expecting retirement accounts (e.g., 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs) to be their primary source of income in retirement; 34 percent are expecting Social Security to be the primary source; and 33 percent are expecting a pension plan to be the primary source.

Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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FHFA Tosses Refinancing Lifeline to High-LTV Borrowers

September 27, 2016 2:24 am


Mortgage borrowers with high loan-to-value (LTV) ratios now have more options when it comes to refinancing.

The offering, recently announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and to be implemented by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (“the Enterprises”), will provide much-needed liquidity to borrowers current on their mortgage but unable to refinance through conventional programs because their LTV ratio exceeds the Enterprises’ maximum limits.

FHFA Director Mel Watt says providing a sustainable refinance opportunity for high-LTV borrowers who have demonstrated responsibility by remaining current on their mortgage makes financial sense, both for borrowers and for the Enterprises.

In order to qualify for the new offering, borrowers:

• Must not have missed any mortgage payments in the previous six months;
• Must not have missed more than one payment in the previous 12 months;
• Must have a source of income; and
• Must receive a benefit from the refinance, such as a reduction in their monthly mortgage payment.

Full details will be available in the coming months through the Enterprises, but the offering will make use of the lessons learned from the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and its streamlined approach to refinancing. The new offering is more targeted than HARP, but as with HARP, eligible borrowers are not subject to a minimum credit score, there is no maximum debt-to-income ratio or maximum LTV, and an appraisal often will not be required. Unlike HARP, however, there is no eligibility cut-off date. Borrowers with existing HARP loans are not eligible for the new offering unless they have refinanced out of HARP using one of the Enterprises traditional refinance products.

The new high-LTV refinance offering will be available to borrowers until October 2017.  For more information, visit HARP.gov, follow @FHFA on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, or consult with a real estate professional.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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