RE/MAX 440
Susanne Porter ABR, CRS, GRI
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 267-261-4608
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Cell: 267-261-4608
Fax: 267-354-6883 
SuePorteratREMAX@aol.com
Susanne Porter ABR, CRS, GRI

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Would You Sell Part of Your Home to Investors?

November 14, 2016 1:57 am


We bring you important points in housing each week—and this week (literally!) is no exception.

A new startup, Point (Point.com), aims to make homeowners free of debt and able to unlock the wealth in their home—but to do that, a homeowner must sell a portion of the equity in his or her home to Point’s investors.

How does it work? A homeowner provides some basic information about their home and household finances. Point instantly assigns homeowners pre-approval or denial based on the information they provide.

If pre-approved, Point provides a provisional offer based on the data provided—that offer is typically for between 5 percent and 10 percent of the home’s current value. To be eligible for Point, the owner(s) need to retain at least 20 percent of the equity in their home after Point's investment. The homeowner then completes a full application and provides documentation for the Point underwriting team. 

Within approximately a week, Point will schedule a home valuation visit, which the homeowner covers— generally between $500 and $700. Once the valuation is complete, Point will share the appraiser's report with the homeowner.

If the valuation is deemed acceptable by the homeowner, Point will finalize the offer following the appraisal and receipt of all supporting application documents, and call the homeowner to meet with a notary to sign the Point Homeowner Agreement.

Point then files a Deed of Trust and Memorandum of Option on the property in the county recorder's office. Once filings have been confirmed, Point transfers the offer funds (with less than 3 percent escrow and processing fees) electronically to the homeowner’s bank account.

If the homeowner sells his or her home within the agreed-upon terms, then Point will be automatically paid from escrow. If the homeowner does not sell his or her home, he or she can buy back Point’s stake at any time during the term, at the then-current appraised property value. 

Would you sell part of your home to investors?
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Protect Your Mobile Device from Hackers

November 11, 2016 1:54 am


By now, the smartphone acts as an extension of a limb—everyone from teens to geriatrics walks around with that familiar head tilt eyes on the screen. And while technology has made everything from banking to shopping much easier, it has also made things much easier for hackers.

To battle this, the American Bankers Association (ABA) is recommending 12 tips to help consumers safeguard their data and protect their mobile devices from fraudsters.

“Mobile usage has grown tremendously in recent years and consumers are using their phones to access and transmit very sensitive information,” says Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “It’s extremely important that consumers avoid doing their banking and shopping on unsecure networks to limit their exposure to online threats."

ABA recommends that consumers take extra precaution to protect the data on their mobile device by doing the following:

• Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.

• Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.

• Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.

• Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.

• Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”

• Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.

• Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.

• Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.

• Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

• Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.

• Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. 

• Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Source: American Bankers Association (ABA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Heat Your Home More Efficiently

November 11, 2016 1:54 am


Cold weather months come with the added expense of heating your home. Whether you heat your space to the point you can parade around in a bathing suit or pile on sweaters and socks as your thermostat stays low, you can glean some tips for using natural gas more efficiently.

1. Seal off unused rooms by closing the registers and keeping the doors shut tightly.

2. Keep furniture away from heating registers.

3. Install a timer that kicks the heat on an hour or so before you will arrive home from work, and shuts if off when you leave.

4. Make sure a clean furnace filter is installed.

5. Wash only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.

6. Clean out the dryer lint trap before each load.

Source: www.MissouriGasEnergy.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Understanding Bankruptcy: What You Should Know

November 10, 2016 1:51 am


While most Americans hope they never need to file for bankruptcy, many don't know exactly what bankruptcy is. Bankruptcy is a proceeding in a federal court in which an insolvent debtor's assets are liquidated and the debtor is relieved of further liability.

Medical expenses continue to be the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. According to the United States Courts, bankruptcy filings fell 6.9 percent (819,159) in June 2016 compared to the number of filings in June 2015 (879,736). This number of bankruptcy filings has not been this low since December 2007.

Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of filing for bankruptcy, courtesy of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC).

Advantages
One of the most important advantages of filing for bankruptcy is that consumers can obtain a fresh financial start. If you are eligible for Chapter 7 most of your unsecured debts may be forgiven or discharged. A secured debt is one which the creditor is entitled to collect by seizing and selling certain assets if payments are missed, such as a home mortgage or car loan. You may be able to keep (that is, exempt) many of your assets, although state laws vary widely in defining which assets you may keep. Collection efforts must stop as soon as you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Disadvantages
A bankruptcy can remain on your credit record for 7-10 years and can affect your future finances and ability to borrow funds. A bankruptcy may impede your chances of getting a mortgage or car loan for some time. Not all debt will be discharged. Examples of debt that cannot be discharged include child support, alimony, some student loans, divorce settlements and some income taxes. You should check with an attorney on the specific categories of debt that will be allowed for discharge.

Source: American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)
 

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Knowing Your Role as a Financial Caregiver

November 10, 2016 1:51 am


Over 90 million Americans care for a loved one living with a disability, disease or experiencing reduced financial capability as a result of aging, according to the Caregiver Action Network. In addition to doling out love and services, these caregivers play an important role in ensuring that all finances—from routine to complex—are managed wisely, helping their loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible.

ABA Foundation, through its Safe Banking for Seniors program, offers the following tips to help individuals understand their role as financial caregivers:

Learn the rights and restrictions that apply to your role. Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustees, and federal benefits fiduciaries, are fiduciaries with a duty to act and make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. Learn the legal responsibilities of your assigned authority in order to better execute your role.

Manage money and other assets wisely. Financial caregivers may be in charge of daily, unexpected and future expenses their loved one may incur. Especially if the beneficiary has a fixed income or limited finances, it is extremely important that caregivers minimize unnecessary costs and budget accordingly to ensure that all money is properly allocated.

Recognize danger signs. Seniors have become major targets for financial abuse and fraud. Make sure to stay alert to signs of scams or identity theft that may put your loved one’s assets in peril.

Keep careful records. When acting as a financial agent, proper documentation is not only encouraged but required. Make sure you keep well-organized financial records, including up-to date lists of assets and debts and a streamline of all financial transactions.

Stay informed. Monitor changes in financial status of the beneficiary and take appropriate action, as needed. Also, be sure to stay up to date on changes in the laws affecting seniors. 

Seek professional advice. Consult a banker or other professional advisors when you’re not sure what to do. 

Source: American Bankers Association (ABA)
 

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Where to Live If You Want to Build Wealth

November 10, 2016 1:51 am


If you're looking to live in a wealth-building area, then results from a new Bankrate survey may be a bit of a surprise: pack your bags and move to the San Francisco Bay area.

Yep. Despite having some of the highest rents in the country, the Bay Area is the best U.S. metropolitan area for building wealth. The Bankrate survey ranked 21 large metro areas in five categories: savable income, human capital, debt burden, homeownership and access to financial services. 

The nation’s highest savable income is a big part of San Francisco’s No. 1 overall ranking. The average Bay Area resident can sock away $16,657 per year, almost twice the national average, after subtracting local expenses from incomes. While it’s a very expensive place to live, there are plenty of high-paying jobs, so residents are able to keep their non-mortgage debts low (fifth lowest among the 21 markets) and their credit scores high (second highest).

Minneapolis/St. Paul is second-best overall (aided by the lowest average unemployment rate over the past five years), Washington, D.C. is third (only San Franciscans are able to save more), St. Louis is fourth (it offers the best access to financial services) and Detroit is fifth (it has the highest homeownership rate and the lowest non-mortgage debt burden).

“Different metro areas affect households’ abilities to amass wealth in different ways,” says Bankrate.com analyst Claes Bell, CFA. “In some metro areas, like San Francisco, homeownership can be prohibitively expensive, but higher-than-average salaries can help residents stash more money away in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. On the other hand, Minneapolis-area residents don’t earn as much, but the area’s affordable housing and recovering real estate market provide opportunities to build wealth over the long term through home equity.”

Source: Bankrate
 

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The Best Paying Jobs for College Grads

November 8, 2016 1:48 am

The good news for recent college graduates is that with unemployment at a four-year low, there are plenty of jobs to be had. The bad news is that competition is stiff for the highest-paying positions.

Where are these coveted jobs, and how much do they pay? Employment counselors recommend several directions savvy degree-holders might take:

Purchasing Manager – Most companies hire purchasing professionals to acquire the goods and services they need to run their business. Candidates need to be personable as well as analytical, and a degree in business or economics is a plus. Annual starting salaries average $58,000.

Computer Hardware Engineer – Computer science majors can use their skills to design and modify computer parts that increase speed and efficiency. Starting salaries average $58,000 per year.

Biomedical Engineer – One of the fastest-growing fields today is biomedical engineering, which mixes medicine with biology, math, physics and chemistry to create equipment that solves medical problems. Median starting salary is $54,800.

Mathematicians – Mathematicians provide solutions for the problems businesses face, with numbers to back up their work. Starting salaries for people good at math average $56,400.

Sales Manager – These are the professionals who oversee a sales force, setting quotas, policies, and best practices, dividing the work into territories and monitoring goal achievement. Candidates with some sales background and a business management degree can expect starting salaries of $51,760.

Nuclear Engineer – While some nuclear engineers work in power plants, others explore uses for radiation and nuclear energy in medical and industrial applications. Qualified candidates will start at about $63,900.

Aerospace Engineer – Starting salaries for aerospace engineers, who design new developments for airplanes, spacecraft, and defense systems, are an average $59,400.

Petroleum Engineer – Hold onto your hats. Salaries for these math and science whizzes, who develop methods for extracting oil out of different areas, begin at an average of $93,000.

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Decorators Share: Transitioning from Fall to Winter

November 8, 2016 1:48 am

Decorating for seasonal transitions—spring to summer, summer to fall—is a trick many decorators use to stretch the longevity of their designs. Decorating for the transition from fall to winter is no exception.

There are many transitional trends this fall and winter. Real or faux marble accents, such as coasters or cutting boards, and statement pieces, such as side tables and wallpaper, are on the incline, Decorilla.com reports.

Coziness is necessary in fall and winter, and accessories that evoke this feeling are in. According to PopSugar.com’s Kate McKenna, decorating for coziness this year involves a mix of bold patterns, glossy metallics, soft neutrals and matte blacks.

Those matte blacks could translate into a full-on monochromatic design, especially as the holiday season sets in, predict the experts at Harding Botanicals, a Massachusetts-based company.

Rose quartz, which was named this year’s color of the year by Pantone, is another trend that eases effortlessly from fall to winter. The experts at Harding suggest pairing it with champagne, pearl or silver shades.
Come the holidays, red and green continue to be popular, this year with accents of blue and white, DecoratorsWisdom.com reports.

Experiment with motifs like silver tree shapes, blue, silver or white snowflakes and snowmen, the website recommends—or, combine accents like silver candlesticks and vases with natural arrangements of greens and berries.

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Plan Ahead for Winter Power Outages

November 8, 2016 1:48 am

With the snowy weather of winter comes a less beautiful seasonal sensation: power outages. To keep your family safe and cozy sans power, follow these tips:

Before the storm:
• Stock-up on batteries and flashlights.

• Evaluate the family's non-perishable food supply and restock if necessary.

• Review how to manually open the electric garage door.

• A practice run will help ensure a family knows how to properly locate and operate any equipment required during the power outage.

During/after:
• Never use a gas stove, oven or grill to heat a home.

• During the first few hours of the outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer closed. Snow can be used as ice to keep items cold in a cooler. 

• Choose mittens over gloves and wear layered loose clothing to stay warm.

• Always operate your portable generator outside of your home.

“Having a backup power solution ready ahead of a utility power outage prevents most of the headaches that go with living without power. With backup power, families won't necessarily need to worry about potentially dangerous temperatures, for example,” says Melissa Thomas, marketing assistant manager, Briggs & Stratton Standby power. “This gives families the security they desire to comfortably ride out long winter months.”

The most popular backup power solutions are portable generators and permanently-installed standby generator systems. Both types of backup power can keep a home's lights, the furnace and necessary appliances working in the event of a weather-related power outage or other emergency. Understanding the differences and capabilities between the two options makes selecting the best generator for a family's needs much easier.

Portable Generators: Immediate Backup Power Supply
Portable generators are generally low maintenance, compact and easily maneuverable on the property. These units are typically powered by gasoline and work well as an immediate solution during a power outage.

Additionally, they are designed to provide reliable electricity to a few essential items and appliances such as a refrigerator, basic light circuits and portable electric heaters at the same time.

While portable generators can provide users with flexibility and comfort, they need to be used appropriately at all times in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never run a portable generator inside a home or in a garage.

Standby Generators: High-Wattage Backup Power Supply
Families who want a backup power source that offers uninterrupted power should opt for a home standby generator system. Home standby generators need to be professionally installed, so homeowners should allow time for the installation process and associated costs.

These home generators are connected to the existing propane or natural gas line of a house. When utility power to a house is interrupted, the home generator automatically turns on within seconds. Home standby generators can power more of a home's high-wattage appliances, like the furnace, electric water heater, stove and clothes dryer.

Source: www.briggsandstratton.com

 

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One Home System Not to Overlook

November 7, 2016 1:48 am

Over 25 million houses in the U.S. have a septic system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Proper maintenance of the septic system is essential, but often overlooked—out of sight, out of mind.

An un-maintained septic system can contaminate groundwater, harming the environment by releasing bacteria, household hazardous waste and viruses to local waterways, according to the EPA. Maintaining the system not only protects the environment and public health, it also saves homeowners from having to make costly repairs due to neglect.

The EPA’s tips for homeowners include:
Protect It and Inspect It – Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional, or according to their state or local health department's recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary—typically every three to five years.

Think at the Sink – Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the kitchen sink. These substances can clog the septic system’s pipes and drain field.

Don’t Overload the Commode – Do not flush foreign items, such as cat litter, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers/wipes and feminine hygiene products down the toilet. These can all clog, and potentially damage, the septic system.

Don’t Strain Your Drain – Be water-efficient by spreading out water use, including laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
Shield Your Field – Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drain field, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

Source: www.epa.gov/septicsmart.

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