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

Report: Rents Stabilizing

July 6, 2016 1:13 am


Out-of-this-world rents may soon come back down to Earth.

Nationwide, rents are trending upward, but only steadily so, with the average rent at $1,277, according to a recent report by Axiometrics, provider of comprehensive apartment market intelligence.

“Annual effective rent growth” was 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016, down from a rate of 5.1 percent one year ago. This measurement, determined by Axiometrics, was positive in nearly 100 percent of the data provider’s top 50 rental markets.

Still, some rental markets in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) lie outside of the trend. The top 10 MSAs for annual effective rent growth, according to the report, are:

1. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. (10.4 percent)

2. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (7.9 percent)

3. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (7.6 percent)

4. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (7.4 percent)

5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (7.3 percent)

6. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6.7 percent)

7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (6.6 percent)

8. (TIE)

• Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. (6.3 percent)
• Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (6.3 percent)
• Salt Lake City, Utah (6.3 percent)
• Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6.3 percent)
• San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (6.3 percent)

9. (TIE)

• West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, Fla. (5.8 percent)
• Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (5.8 percent)

10. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (5.5 percent)

Overall, annual effective rent growth is concentrated in markets in the West and South, which boast encouraging employment prospects. Rents in these markets are expected to grow, and some outside of marginal increases, in the future.

Source: Axiometrics
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Buying a Home? Tips to Grow Your Down Payment

July 6, 2016 1:13 am


A down payment is an initial payment made by a homebuyer with financing, generally ranging from 5 to 20 percent of the home’s value, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

A down payment of 20 percent will save the expense of private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is often imposed on borrowers who finance more than 80 percent of their purchase, and can also result in a lower mortgage interest rate.

To grow your down payment to 20 percent, the ABA Foundation recommends:

Saving – Open a separate savings account strictly for your down payment. Setting these funds aside from other types of savings will reduce the chance you’ll draw from it in times of need.

Budgeting – Your down payment will depend on the amount you plan to spend on a home. Assess your current financial obligations to determine how much you can save each month toward the down payment. Consider that many obligations can be reduced or even eliminated.

Tracking – Keeps tabs on the discretionary income you spend—this can help pinpoint areas where you can spend less and save more.

Researching – You may be able to save more with a down payment assistance or other housing-related program. Discuss the options available in your area with your real estate professional.

Bear in mind a 20-percent down payment is not a necessity, and ultimately, your budget and savings will determine the percentage. Contact a real estate professional for further guidance.

Source: American Bankers Association (ABA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Debt Regret: 3 Questions Students Should Ask

July 5, 2016 1:13 am


Student loan debt has ballooned to over $1.3 trillion, with more students than ever securing loans to finance a college education. The cost and results of that education—soaring tuition, burdensome debt and scant employment opportunities—have left some wondering, “Was it worth it?”

Post-secondary education is a necessary step on the path to higher earnings, but many with debt do not believe college was worth the cost, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports—45 percent, to be exact. Of that percentage, 78 percent earn less than $50,000 a year, and 69 percent experience difficulty paying loans.

These findings present a cautionary tale for students entering college. Consumer Reports advises them and their parents to develop a financing plan that takes into account the following questions:

1. What do I want to get out of college?
2. How much will college cost?
3. How can I reduce costs?


It is crucial to enter college with a clear picture of your goals after graduation, according to Consumer Reports—taking “exploratory” classes or changing majors can cost thousands in unnecessary tuition.

The cost of college will be determined by several factors, including your academic transcript, your family’s financial circumstances, and the school you attend. To make the most economical decision, consider the bottom-line, “net price” of your education, Consumer Reports suggests.

Traverse all possible avenues to cut costs, too, Consumer Reports recommends. Is community college an option? Are scholarships available? Can studying abroad save you money? Factoring these measures into your plan can save you thousands in future debt and interest.

For more guidance related to student loans, visit ConsumerReports.org/StudentDebt.
 
Source: Consumer Reports
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is It Time to Evaluate Your Trees? Pt. 1

July 5, 2016 1:13 am


Having the trees on your property inspected regularly can help identify distress or decay before it becomes critical—and costly.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) (TreeCareTips.org) recommends hiring a trained arborist to conduct a formal risk assessment. Several risk assessment methods exist, but three are the most widely accepted in North America:

• International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Hazard Evaluation Method
• ISA Tree Risk Assessment Best Management Practice (BMP) Method  
• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Community TreeRisk Evaluation Method

These methods are employed most often by tree care professionals, municipal forestry programs and government agencies. Before hiring an arborist, discuss which method will be used to evaluate your trees.

After the assessment, the arborist may give you a written or oral report with recommendations to mitigate any risks your trees may pose. Generally, there are three ways to reduce risk: removing the tree, treating the tree or treating the site. More than one option may be used depending on the situation, according to the TCIA.

An assessment is a wise step to take even if your trees appear safe, the TCIA adds. It is best to have a professional verify the safety of the trees on your property, especially if they hang over your house or other structures on your property.

In Pt. 2, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each assessment method.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Budget? Remodeling Spend on the Rise

July 5, 2016 1:13 am


Homeowners are sinking more money into renovations, driving up the average remodeling spend—and many are doing so without a set budget.

That’s according to results of the recently released Houzz & Home survey by Houzz.com, which revealed that approximately one-third of homeowners either exceed their remodeling budget (by thousands!) or do not have a budget at all. Those who exceed their budget often do so due to costlier materials or design changes.

Homeowners are set on re-doing the kitchen and bathrooms first, budget or no budget, according to the survey. Many of these renovations are undertaken by recent homebuyers who want to improve their new home, by those who “finally” have the financial means to do so, or by soon-to-be home sellers.

The survey revealed recent homebuyers tend to invest more, on average, in remodeling projects—$66,600 versus $59,800 by other homeowners. Home sellers, on the other hand, spend less—$36,300, on average.

Whatever the spend, most homeowners pay for the project with personal funds or savings, according to the survey. Some, still, use credit cards or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Homeowners are shelling out these funds to professionals, such as remodelers, general contractors or a design-build company, the survey found. Some homeowners are hiring architects or interior designers, as well.

Upgrading your home to sell? Talk to a real estate professional. He or she can offer guidance as to which projects recoup the most money at resale.

Source: Houzz.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Can You Guess the Most Popular Fourth of July Eats?

July 4, 2016 1:07 am

As we celebrate Independence Day, there’s one food item that will be on the majority of tables across America: hamburgers. According to a recent Instantly survey, hamburgers were named the top menu item for the Fourth of July, surpassing hotdogs by nearly 40 percent. The most popular side dishes will be potato salad, corn on the cob and baked beans, respectively.

When it comes to snack items, the overwhelming majority of Americans will reach for Frito-Lay brand chips, including KC Masterpiece, Kettle Chips and Doritos.

These classic food items uphold a longstanding tradition for many Americans, with 34 percent selecting these items based on historical preference. Nearly three-quarters of Americans who are dieting or watching what they eat consider the Fourth of July a “cheat” day.

Source: Instantly

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Smoking Allowed? Sure, It Makes for Great Barbecues!

July 4, 2016 1:07 am

There's plenty of summer left, and plenty of opportunities to entertain. That means preparing spectacular feasts for your family and guests.

If you're looking to broaden your culinary toolkit, maybe it's time to graduate from a grill to a smoker. The National Barbecue Association (nbbqa.org) offers these tips if you're looking into doing some home cooking with a new smoker.

Howard Singer, pitmaster of Smokin' Howie's BBQ Team, says the price for smokers can range from under $100 to thousands of dollars.

Singer says think about which features are most important to you and establish a budget. If you are truly a beginner, you can buy a simple, vertical smoker for under $50.

An experienced home barbecuer can get a more advanced, but still inexpensive, unit that produces great results for around $300. If you are looking for something more sophisticated with a heavy reliance on automation, then be prepared to spend $600 or more.

Singer says paying more does not guarantee the quality of your food. Your total process is more influential than the price of your smoker.

What is the difference between a horizontal/off-set and vertical smoker?

Singer says vertical smokers are smaller, more portable and can operate by wood, electric or gas. They can range in price from under $50 to around $400 and are simple to use, with fuel on the bottom and meat on racks above.

On the other hand, horizontal/off-set smokers have the firebox on the side and the meat goes into a separate chamber next to the firebox. Singer says horizontal smokers are much heavier and not as portable, however.

Ultimately, Singer says if you have very limited outdoor space to place your equipment, a vertical smoker is the way to go.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Renting a Vacation Home? Know Your Options

July 4, 2016 1:07 am

Peer-to-peer vacation rental listings are on the rise, but some renters find more favor with rental management companies, according to a recent industry study.

While there are benefits to both peer-to-peer and managed rentals, tales of rentals-gone-bad seem to spike when the home is booked directly with the host homeowner—renters cited in the study said they felt safer staying in a managed rental than staying in a peer-to-peer listing.

Unlike direct-from-homeowner rentals, vacation rental managers oversee the process from start to finish, and have established standards for quality, service and security for their properties. Peer-to-peer rentals leave the standards up to each individual homeowner.

“The reality is most homeowners don't have the time to adequately meet guest expectations when it comes to safety, cleanliness and assistance, and as a result they find the tasks daunting,” says Gail Mandel, CEO of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which conducted the study.

“Guests should know they do not have to go it alone,” Mandel adds. “But if they do, they should keep in mind important tips, like renting from a reputable source, watching for signs of fraud and only using secure payment methods.”

Source: Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Outside the Cereal Box: BBQ for Breakfast

July 1, 2016 1:07 am


Trend alert!

Barbecuing for breakfast is taking hold in backyards—and in fact, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), the trend is only going to grow in popularity.

Why the urge to BBQ breakfast? The HPBA lists a few reasons:

Anything—anything—can be barbecued.

From bagels or oatmeal to cereal or eggs, any breakfast item can be prepared on the grill. (Cereal? It’s true! Warm up dry cereal with butter on a grill-safe griddle, and add it to cold milk or yogurt.)

Barbecuing adds a smoky bite.

Barbecuing imparts smoky flavor on beloved breakfast classics. Charcoal, gas and wood pellet barbecues will add a fresh-off-the-grill taste to bacon and sausage, and apple- or cherry-flavored chips can take pancakes to the next level.

Brunch just got better.

Cook brunch items low and slow on the grill early in the morning—they’ll be ready by mid-day, and you’ll be able to enjoy them that much sooner!

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the one that is most often overlooked in this hectic world,” says Jack Goldman, president and CEO of the HPBA. “Weekends are the perfect time to slow things down, fire up the grill, and enjoy some much needed family time around an open flame. Those who try it will immediately discover that barbecuing your breakfast can be just as enjoyable—and delicious—as your evening meals.”

Source: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Summer Reset: Colors and Ideas to Refresh Your Home

July 1, 2016 1:07 am


Summer’s here, and with it comes the desire to embrace the season through the décor in our homes.

“This time of year offers an opportunity to create your perfect summer oasis by bringing sunny shades from the outdoors into your home,” says Nathan Fischer, design expert with Ace Hardware. “Use the time and creativity summer offers to experiment with fun, colorful hues and tackle new projects to give your home a much-needed refresh.”

Fischer, along with fellow Ace design experts Katie Reynolds and Julie Richard, list these summer colors to try:

• Red is having a moment! Pair deep reds with frosty neutrals—the combination will make a big impact in any room. Mix in red as an accent table or planter.

Beachy blues never seem to go out of style. Use them in bathrooms, bedrooms or on woodwork for a year-round dose of summer.

• Bright shades of creamy orange and punchy purple will bring your home to life. Use cheery-colored accessories in frequently-used spaces, such as the family room or office.

To take these on-trend colors to the next level, incorporate these five elements, says Fischer, Reynolds and Richard:

• Layered Design
• Organizational Storage
• Room-to-Room Cohesion
• Statement Pieces
• Warm-and-Cool Juxtaposition

How will you embrace summer in your home?

Source: Ace Hardware
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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