RE/MAX 440
Bill and Rachel Burke

Bill and Rachel Burke
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-453-7653
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6810

My Blog

Make Spring Cleaning a Family Affair

March 23, 2015 2:18 am

Spring cleaning your home can be overwhelming without help. If you’re a parent, enlist your children with these creative (and fun!) ways to clean, courtesy of Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert for Merry Maids.

• Host a Fashion Show

Go through closets and play dress up with the kids. Put away the show-stopping outfits and make piles of items that no longer fit to donate or discard.

• Skate Over Dust
Remove furniture and rugs from hardwood surfaces in your home and have your kids slide over the floor with microfiber cloths wrapped around their feet (supervision required). Have a trash bag on hand to collect dust afterwards.

• Celebrate Christmas in Spring
Help children sort through toys and games that are no longer being used for donations. Bonus - kids may re-discover items they love!

• Establish a Finders Keepers Rule
Entice little ones to help with cleaning under couch cushions or beds with a finders keepers rule, letting them know that any money found while cleaning is theirs for the taking. Hide coins in places that need the most attention, and provide each child with a jar to collect their spring cleaning savings.

Source: ServiceMaster

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Curb Appeal: 4 Ways to Attract Buyers

March 23, 2015 2:18 am

(Family Features) If you're planning to list your home for sale, curb appeal is a must. The exterior of your home sends an important message about its value, and the first impression can set expectations for both buyers and appraisers. Boost your home’s curb appeal with these tips.

1. Evaluate the Landscape - Curb appeal is about the big picture, which includes your lawn, shrubs and features such as flower beds and rock gardens. Keep grass neatly trimmed and prune vegetation for a well-kept look. Give your home a thorough assessment from the street. Are trees or shrubs obscuring an appealing architectural detail? Does vegetation dwarf your home, making it seem small? Would a pop of color from some flowering plants add to the overall look?

2. Beware of Dirt - Because you see your home every day, you may not realize the exterior has become dull with a layer of dust and dirt. An adjustable pressure washer can help you wash siding, garage doors and shutters without stripping paint, as well as delicate items such as glass top patio tables. Switch to high flow mode to clean second story windows, eaves and gutters or to blast away hard-to-reach cobwebs and insect nests.

3. Update with Paint - If a power wash isn’t enough, it may be time to revisit your home's exterior color scheme. Even modest adjustments, from pale beige to a deeper tan, for example, can completely alter the look. If a complete paint job isn’t in the budget, freshen up the trim, door and shutters.

4. Remember the Details - Decks, fences, mailboxes, birdbaths, gazebos and other decorative features all factor into your home's exterior image. Thoroughly clean these items, repair any loose or broken pieces such as fence slats, and apply a fresh coat of paint or stain, if needed.

Source: Briggs & Stratton

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Mortgage Rates Move Down in Time for Spring Buying Season

March 20, 2015 12:18 am

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) showing average fixed mortgage rates moving down across the board. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate continues to run below 4 percent – a good sign for the spring homebuying season.

“The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 3.78 percent this week following mixed housing data,” said Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Housing starts dropped 17 percent to a seasonally adjusted pace of 897,000 units, below market expectations. However, housing permits increased 3 percent in February. As we head into spring, home builders remain positive about home sales in the near future although the NAHB Housing Market Index dropped another 2 points to 53 in March.”

Freddie Mac’s PMMS® found that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 0.6 point for the week ending March 19, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.86 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.32 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.06 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.10 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM average 3.32 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.97 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.01 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.02 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.46 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.49 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

4 Signs of Leaky Plumbing

March 20, 2015 12:18 am

Did you know that the average home can lose roughly 11,000 gallons of water each month due to running toilets, dripping faucets and other household leaks? Find and eliminate wasteful leaks with these tips from the specialists at American Leak Detection.

1. Check for drips by leaving a glass underneath a faucet. Stopping these drips can easily save enough water for over 30 showers, and usually only requires replacement of an inexpensive washer or valve seat.

2. Are you regularly adding or refilling water in your pool or spa? This may be a sign of one or more leaks.

3. Leaky toilets can be spotted by adding a teaspoon of food coloring to the tank; if you see the color in the toilet bowl, then the flapper valve needs to be replaced.

4.
If your water bill has been creeping up recently, stop all running water in your home and check your water meter to see if it is moving.

Source: American Leak Detection

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

HVAC Safety As Warm Weather Approaches

March 20, 2015 12:18 am

For individuals owning furnaces and other HVAC units, it's important to keep safety in mind as the spring and summer season approaches.

“Many homeowners don’t realize the potential risk factors involved when their HVAC unit is not properly maintained after the cold winter months,” says Interstate Co-Owner Raymond Kishk. “Not only can heating and cooling systems pose a serious threat to one’s health, it can also pose a serious threat to the life of the equipment.”

Here is a brief checklist of suggested heating and cooling end-of-season maintenance one can do to prevent any health risks:

Clean and change your air filters. Do you have any idea what is in the air you breathe? In the past we have found the following caught inside an air filter, lint, dust, debris, pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust mites. Not to mention, changing filters often saves you money.

Close the gas valve. When you stop using your unit for heat, make sure to close the gas line. Gas could be escaping into the room, which is very dangerous. Troubleshooting and diagnosing any problems can be difficult for someone who has no knowledge of the system, so calling a professional can give you peace of mind knowing your unit is safe for use.

Change your belt and lubricating motors. Replacing belts allows for the motor to run efficiently. A motor would work twice as hard if the belt is loose. Cleaning & lubricating motors is also a must do pre summer season. Not doing so is causing the HVAC system to draw more power to circulate the air in your house leading to higher energy bills.

Clean you evaporator and condenser coil before using your air conditioner. Dirty coils will increase operating costs because adequate heat transfer is not provided, which will lead to a reduction in cooling. A evaporator coil is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria that can greatly impact the indoor air quality.

Source: InterstateAir.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Brush Up on Pothole Protocol

March 19, 2015 2:15 am

With a record-breaking winter and many regions experiencing months of relentless snowfall, motorists should remain vigilant when driving over potholes, caution the experts at Hankook Tire. According to the company’s Quarterly Gauge Index, just 14 percent of drivers follow the correct protocol when maneuvering around potholes.

Hankook encourages drivers to adhere to these tips when approaching a pothole:

Don't Swerve – Dodging a pothole by swerving can lead to accidents with other cars because you're not staying in your lane. Instead, AAA advises that drivers safely slow down as much as possible to prevent any potential damage to your vehicle's tires, wheels or suspension components.

Check Your Tires – The Quarterly Gauge Index found that 45 percent of Americans have sustained damage to their vehicle when driving over a pothole. Whether it's a blown tire, bent rims or broken suspension components, hitting a pothole can cause serious damage to your car. Make sure you check your tires after going over one, even if you don't think any damage was done.

Learn to Change a Tire – According to the Quarterly Gauge Index, 22 percent of Americans do not know how to change a tire. Learn the process and always make sure you pack a spare tire in your trunk.

Source: Hankook

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

3 Ways to Boost Retirement Savings

March 19, 2015 2:15 am

Despite a significant share of Americans neglecting retirement savings, it is never too early or too late to start saving. According to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC), 32 percent of Americans are not contributing any portion of their household income toward retirement savings.

To help you prepare for a secure retirement, consider these tips:

1. Between the age of 21 and 30, the cost of education becomes a major hurdle as the long process of student loan repayment begins. Trouble with this debt can put retirement savings plans on hold. Getting help from a nonprofit student loan counselor at this stage can help avoid costly interruptions in growing retirement savings.

2. Building wealth is an essential goal for people between the age of 30 and 45. In addition to retirement savings, homeownership allows people to build equity in their property as they pay down their mortgages. To stay on track, it is wise to get advice from financial counselors through free programs, like the NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus initiative (www.sharpentoday.org).

3. After the age of 45, it is a good idea to increase contributions toward retirement savings while reducing budget expenses. Downsizing should also include credit card debt. If debt management is a problem, speaking with a nonprofit credit counselor is a good way to identify solutions.

Source: NFCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Water, not Fire, Causes Most Chimney Damage

March 19, 2015 2:15 am

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water can create more damage to chimneys than fires, and the rainy spring season can exacerbate issues. Whether the chimney is masonry or factory-built, prolonged water exposure can result in cracks or gaps where creosote can collect, increasing the risk of fire or carbon monoxide exposure.

The experts at the CSIA advise homeowners to look for:

Rust stains
– More particular to factory-built fireplaces, rust is a critical red flag that water is accessing your chimney and threatening the integrity of the structure. Rust stains could reveal themselves around the outside of the upper chimney or along the inner lining of the fireplace.

Dripping or standing water – This may seem obvious, but water pooling anywhere in and around your masonry or factory-built chimney and fireplace structure means water has an access point to your home.

Bent or damaged flashing – The metal materials used to help seal your chimney from rooftop water runoff must be flush to the chimney structure. Flashing, crickets or other devices can warp or separate from the chimney over time, exposing your structure to water.

If you notice any of these signs, the CSIA suggests using a chimney cap, applying waterproofing agents or calling a certified chimney sweep professional. A chimney cap, also known as a rain cover, works to protect your chimney the way your roof works to protect your house. Waterproofing agents added to the interior of the chimney create a barrier while still allowing moisture to escape. Never use paint or any non-vapor-permeable water sealer because these can trap moisture inside the chimney, hastening deterioration.

Source: CSIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

10 Things You Didn't Know about Caffeine

March 18, 2015 2:12 am

Whether it’s a strong cup of Joe, an energy drink, green tea or a chocolate bar, 85 percent of Americans consume caffeine every single day, says Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumer League (NCL). But the majority of Americans, she says, aren’t caffeine literate.

Here are 10 things you might not know about caffeine, courtesy of the NCL.

1. Sixty-four percent of Americans consume coffee daily; 17 percent consume tea; 17 percent consume soda; and 2 percent consume energy drinks.

2. Caffeine takes 15-45 minutes to take effect. The average person will eliminate half of the original amount consumed between 4-6 hours.

3. Pregnant women should avoid caffeine, and it is not recommended for children.

4. Birds, dogs and cats cannot metabolize caffeine – so don’t feed your pets chocolate (or give them coffee!).

5. The earliest rumored consumption of caffeine was by a Chinese emperor in 3,000 BC, who is said to have accidently discovered that when certain leaves fell into boiling water, a fragrant and restorative drink resulted. We now call this drink tea.

6. Caffeine is found in the seeds and leaves of more than 60 plants around the world. Coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, kola nuts, guarana plants and yerba mate are just a few that contain caffeine.

7. Regardless of whether caffeine is naturally occurring (coffee or tea), or in its synthetic form (cola or energy drinks), the chemical structure is identical, and its effect on the human body is the same.

8. The darker the coffee roast, the less caffeine in the coffee bean. Unroasted, green coffee beans have a higher concentration of caffeine. For teas, it’s the opposite: the darker the tea, the higher the caffeine.

9. Safe caffeine intake falls around 400mg per day for healthy adults, which is about 6-7 cups of black tea, 4-5 cups of home brew coffee, 2-3 Starbucks Grande Lattes, 8 cans of Diet Coke, or 5 cans of Red Bull. A typical serving or portion of caffeine is usually an 8 fl oz cup of home-brewed coffee, a 20 fl oz diet cola, a 1.5 fl oz espresso shot and an 8.4 fl oz energy drink – all of which amount to approximately 70-90mg of caffeine.

10. Aside from the ‘pick-me-up’ that is a well-known effect of caffeine, there is evidence that caffeine has some positive effects against diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Too much caffeine, however, can result in side effects like jitteriness and sleeplessness.

Source: NCL

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Is Your Home Flood Ready?

March 18, 2015 2:12 am

Are you prepared for potential flooding this season?

“With the change of seasons comes the risk of snow melt, heavy rains, and rising waters—we’re all at some level of flood risk,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Region V administrator. “It is important we prepare now for the impact floods could have on our homes, our businesses and in our communities.”

Take action with these simple steps to protect what matters most before a flood threatens your area.

1. Ensure you’re insured. Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect your home against the damage floodwaters can cause. Homeowners’ insurance policies do not typically cover flood losses, and most policies take 30-days to become effective. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.

2. Keep important papers in a safe place. Make copies of critical documents (mortgage papers, deed, passport, bank information, etc.). Keep copies in your home and store originals in a secure place outside the home, such as a bank safe deposit box.

3. Elevate mechanicals off the floor of your basement—such as the water heater, washer, dryer and furnace—to avoid potential water damage.

4. Caulk exterior openings where electrical wires and cables enter your home to keep water from getting inside.

5. Shovel!
As temperatures warm, snow melt is a real concern. Shovel snow away from your home and clean your gutters to keep your home free from potential water damage.

Source: FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags: