June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
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Fourth of July Travelers Number 40 Million-Plus

July 3, 2015 1:15 am

Rising income, driven by a strong employment market, is prompting over 40 million Americans to take a Fourth of July trip this year, according to recent AAA projections. Despite some seasonal increases, gas prices remain well below year-ago levels, which has also helped boost Americans' disposable income.

“Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday for this reason, and more Americans are planning a holiday getaway than any year since 2007,” says AAA President Marshall L. Doney.

The all-American road trip remains as popular as ever, with nearly 85 percent of travelers planning to drive to their destinations. Over 3 million travelers will travel by air, and another 3 million-plus will travel by cruise, train or bus, AAA estimates.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers will encounter moderately higher lodging rates and airfares this Fourth of July weekend, with the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel costing $145 and the average nightly stay in a Three Diamond hotel costing $195. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will also be higher at an average of $227.

Source: AAA

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Can You Guess the Most Popular Fourth of July Eats?

July 3, 2015 1:15 am

As we gear up to 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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How to Capture Stunning Fireworks Photos

July 3, 2015 1:15 am

Capturing a firework burst is no easy task. Nighttime conditions and a relatively small window of opportunity present challenges for photographers, regardless of skill. But with the right amount of preparation and a few technical tweaks, anyone can shoot stunning fireworks photos. Here’s are three tips to get you started:

Come prepared
– Before you start snapping shots, be sure you have all the essentials on hand. Bring an extra battery and memory card, and a flashlight for when the sun sets. Turn off the flash and remove any filters.

Set up
– A tripod works best, but if you don’t have one, put your camera on a stable surface. Place it upwind of fireworks to avoid smoky images. Set your camera’s scene mode to fireworks or night for optimal results.

Point and click
– Press the shutter release just before the fireworks explode, and use a long shutter speed to capture changing colors and individual formations. Experiment with wider shots to include the surrounding landscape.

Source: Consumer Reports

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9 Safety Guidelines for Fireworks

July 2, 2015 1:12 am

Fireworks are a time-honored tradition on Independence Day. If you’re planning to host your own firework-filled festivities at home, keep in mind these safety guidelines issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

• Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.

• Do not buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

• Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Comission

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What Can the Founding Fathers Teach Us about Roofs?

July 2, 2015 1:12 am

The benefits of homeownership were not lost on the Founding Fathers. In fact, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson took steps to protect their investment, including upgrading the exteriors of their homes. Both Washington and Jefferson’s homes, which still stand today, offer home improvement insight that can inform homeowners today.

Washington, for instance, complained of his home being “plagued with leaks.” To prevent water from entering his Mount Vernon estate, he replaced his roof with a wood-shingled version common to the 1700s. Jefferson, who had a knack for architecture and engineering, considered a variety of roofing materials when planning the construction of Monticello, and eventually settled on tin shingles. Although they used different materials, both roofs made sense for each of their needs.

What’s the lesson here? Homeowners should take a cue from the Founding Fathers by considering all of their options before replacing the roof, or undertaking any home improvement project!

Source: Metal Roofing Alliance

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Lightning Protection a Must for Homeowners

July 2, 2015 1:12 am

Lightning strikes may seem like a rare occurrence, but they can wreak havoc on your home if they strike your property, says Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety President and CEO Julie Rochman.

“People often underestimate the harm that lightning can cause, but make no mistake–it’s a dangerous force to be reckoned with,” says Rochman. “We encourage both home and business owners to take the necessary precautions to protect their property from the damaging effects of a lightning strike, such as power surges.”

• For protection from lightning strikes in the general area of your home or an externally produced surge, a whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire.

• Install additional protection for important or expensive electronic equipment. This should include localized surge protection for power cords to the electronic equipment and any telephone and cable/satellite television lines connecting to the equipment. Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.

• Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the strike and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. Be sure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards.

• Stay off landline/wired telephones and utilize a cell phone if necessary. In your home, do not stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the television, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.

Source: IBHS

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Don’t Let Money Get Away on Your Getaway

July 1, 2015 1:12 am

Travel is one of those luxuries everyone wants to afford, but may not be able to fit into their budget. In fact, 32 percent of Americans report they cannot afford to take a summer vacation, according to a recent Skift survey. But for families feeling the squeeze, there are ways to enjoy a guilt-free vacation. The nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) recommends planning a budget-friendly trip with these tips.

1. Plan in Advance

To save big, plan ahead by packing lunches, snacks and drinks. Instead of filling your cooler full of ice that will melt, freeze water bottles to cool your food down. When they melt, hand them to your kids for drinks. With a picnic lunch, you can avoid inflated amusement park prices and allot more money to other vacation activities. If you are staying in a hotel or flying, make sure to book your ticket in advance before prices skyrocket.

2. Drive Rather than Fly


Instead of flying, take advantage of falling gas prices by setting out on a road trip. Compared to last year, fuel cost is estimated to be a dollar less per gallon in the United States. Make the most out of your outing. Get your kids involved by using Google Maps to plot your destinations along the way. Bring fun trivia and car games to transform what could be a boring car trip into an exciting adventure.

3. Research Budget Activities and Special Deals

Do your research ahead of time to find out about special offers. Since it is summer and the economy is slow, many businesses and towns are offering free events and incredible deals on discount websites such as Groupon.com. Instead of taking a pricey walking tour, print your own map out online and create a do-it-yourself version Visit free concerts and museums.

If you find a free deal a few states away, use it as your choice for an expedition. While on your trip, pass up the over-priced souvenirs and use your smart phones to capture photos. When your trip is over, compile your pictures into a colorful scrapbook or calendar as a memento or great gift idea for a family member in the future.

4. Find Off-Season Destinations

If you can take off week days, plan to travel Monday through Thursday so that you beat the crowds and weekend prices. Consider winter destinations, like the Caribbean, as you will enjoy their off-season prices during the summer.

5. Rethink Your Lodging

Avoid staying in the most popular locations. If you are planning a trip to a major tourist city, consider staying in a city close by. When choosing where to stay, take into account the variety of options besides expensive hotels. Camping is not only affordable, but a clever way to un-plug from your busy routine and enjoy the outdoors. If camping is not for you, consider a quaint bed and breakfast where you can enjoy a sit-down breakfast with your family.

Source: ACCC

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Will It or Won't It? 8 Signs a Tree May Fall

July 1, 2015 1:12 am

One of the greatest dangers to life and property during natural disasters is posed by falling trees and limbs, say the experts at the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

“Growing trees will ‘catch’ more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, increasing the chances of failure,” explains Tchukki Andersen of the TCIA. “Preparing trees for a natural disaster is a must and should be done well in advance of the storm season. To help ease these dangers, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help you determine potential weaknesses and dangers.”

Andersen advises homeowners to inspect their trees for the following warning signs:

• Wires in contact with tree branches. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires.

• Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury.

• Cracked stems and branch forks that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section.

• Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark that indicate a decayed and weakened stem.

• Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness.

• Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them.

• Tight, V-shaped forks, which are much more prone to failure than open U-shaped ones.

• Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.

Remember, too, that a tree is a living thing, and its integrity and stability change over time, so don’t assume that a tree that has survived nine severe storms will necessarily survive a tenth, Andersen cautions.

Source: TCIA

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6 Good Credit Habits for Buyers and Renters

July 1, 2015 1:12 am

Your credit score has a critical impact on your housing options, and healthy credit is essential to buying a home or renting one. “An important step to finding a home, whether you’re renting or buying, is ensuring that you have a good credit history,” says Frank Keating, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association (ABA). “A strong credit score can open doors to better homes and lower mortgage rates.”

To build a good credit history, the ABA recommends adopting these habits.

1. Request a copy of your credit report–and make sure it is correct.
Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans, such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-82281-877-322-8228 FREE. Note that you may have to pay for the numerical score itself.

2. Set up automatic bill pay.
Payment history makes up 32 percent of your VantageScore credit score and 35 percent of your FICO credit score. The more you pay your bills on time, the better your score. Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic pay as possible.

3. Keep balances low on credit cards and ‘revolving credit.’
Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card's limit.

4. Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. If you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet or at your local bank.

5. Don’t close old paid off accounts.
According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can in fact damage it.

6. Talk to credit counselors if you’re in trouble.
Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit by visiting www.NFCC.org.

Source: ABA.com

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Losing Sleep? It's Not Your Mortgage

June 30, 2015 1:09 am

A select group of Americans are getting a better night’s sleep as the economy strengthens, a recent CreditCards.com survey reports. According to the survey, Americans age 65 and older are sleeping more soundly than succeeding generations due to minimal stress over finances. A percentage of Americans, however, do experience some level of sleeplessness over finances.

The most common concern leading to sleepless nights is retirement savings, followed by educational expenses and healthcare and insurance bills. Mortgage and rent payments and credit card debt are less distressing than in previous years, the survey reveals.

"The biggest change over the past eight years has been the steady increase in the number of people losing sleep over educational expenses," says CreditCards.com Senior Industry Analyst Matt Schulz. "That's the only one of the five categories that has gotten worse since the Great Recession. Unless something slows the rapid rise in college costs, this could soon be Americans' biggest financial fear."

Predictably, those with an annual household income of $75,000 lost sleep over at least one of these issues far less than those with an annual household income below $75,000.

Source: CreditCards.com

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