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
jcroissette@remax440.com

My Blog

Financial Habits You Should Adopt Today

December 18, 2014 4:27 am

There’s no better time than the present to alter your financial situation, and consumers can cement their futures financially by adopting smart habits.

“Being mindful of your financial goals and knowing how credit works are important tools to effectively managing personal finances,” says ACA International CEO Pat Morris. “Good financial habits can help ensure a sound financial future, and being armed with knowledge can help you maintain that all-important good credit score.”

To practice better money management, ACA International recommends the following:
  • Protect personal information. Be cautious when giving out credit card, bank account or Social Security information over the phone or online. Require a certain level of authenticity from the third party. Monitor accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card provider. If you believe your identity has been stolen, check your credit report for activity and contact your local police department.
  • Understand credit and use it wisely. When used properly, credit can be helpful when determining eligibility for things like home mortgages and auto loans. Too often, it becomes a difficult burden for households struggling to make payments. Know the terms and conditions of your credit cards, shop for low interest rates, make payments on time and understand the ramifications of making a late payment or missing a payment. Learn the ins and outs of credit reporting and its impacts on building a good credit score.
  • Communicate with creditors. Don’t ignore calls or letters from creditors or debt collectors. If you are having trouble making payments, contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangement options to make things more manageable. After confirming with the debt collector that the debt is indeed yours, discuss applicable repayment options. Don’t be intimidated – legitimate debt collectors want to help you.
  • Know your rights. Consumers have important rights when contacted by a creditor or debt collector. Visit www.askdoctordebt.org, a free and anonymous resource for more information about credit.
Source: ACA International

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Seniors: Stay Safe at Home This Winter

December 18, 2014 4:27 am

Wintery conditions can cause major problems for homeowners, especially when power outages threaten safety. Concerns spike for seniors who are particularly vulnerable to cold weather hazards. Brooklyn-based home healthcare provider All Heart Homecare Agency recommends that seniors take note of these guidelines for a safe season.

Exercise regularly – Consistent physical activity mitigates your risk for trips or falls. Elderly individuals who frequently build their fitness have a much smaller possibility of injuring themselves when snow and ice hits.

Dress warmly – If inclement weather is in the forecast, be prepared. Wear layers and cover your extremities with gloves and a hat to withstand chill. Proper footwear is also important to prevent icy slips.

Stock the pantry – Keep your home stocked with enough food to withstand a prolonged power outage or storm. If you require nutritional counseling, it may be smart to have a home health aide on standby.

Prepare any vehicles – Snow tires are essential for residents in blizzard-prone areas. Pay close attention while driving or cease driving altogether during a snowstorm unless it is an absolute emergency. Keep warm clothing, blankets, hand warmers and food in your vehicle at all times.

Source: All Heart Homecare Agency

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Most Popular Design Trends in 2015

December 18, 2014 4:27 am

What once was old is now new again at home, according to a report recently released by Zillow Digs®. The report, which combines data from a survey of leading interior design experts and an analysis of the most popular photos on Zillow Digs, anticipates the resurrection of wallpaper and mid-century modern accents in the coming year.

“Home design will embark on a dramatic shift in 2015, moving far away from the bright jewel tones and overused chevron and ikat patterns that took 2014 by storm,” says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs design expert. “Unexpected textures and an eclectic, modern vibe are about to find their way. Expect to see a more sophisticated look in 2015.”

The most popular home design trends include:

1. Wallpaper
"Wallpaper is coming back in a big way," says Zillow Digs designer Jamie Beckwith of Beckwith Interiors. From digital prints to textured wall coverings, this trend is primed and ready to take off in 2015. Expect to see a rise in available color and texture selections in home stores to accommodate the increased demand for patterned or textured accent walls.

2. Modern, Mid-Century Modern Elements

Mid-century modern elements will weave their way in to 2015 home decor – from architecture to furniture—and will be one of the biggest up-and-coming design styles. While this trend will be popular, Zillow Digs experts advise homeowners to be careful when integrating into homes, as the trend shouldn't overwhelm the house.

3. Gold Fixtures
Reminiscent of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, this retro statement hardware color will make a comeback in 2015 with a new modern twist: bright gold with a sleek finish for extra shine. Homeowners will no longer be limited to silver or stainless steel fixtures, and will feel free to mix and match finish colors, or go bold with all gold.

4. Cowhide Accents
Cowhide is the ideal accent texture for 2015's modern, approachable design aesthetic. Zillow Digs designers say cowhide will find its way into pillows, rugs, throw blankets and artwork. Its neutral hue and natural texture make it the perfect complement for bolder statement pieces.

5. Shades of Blue

Blue will be the most popular accent color and is the perfect complement to Marsala, the 2015 Pantone® Color of the Year, according to the Zillow Digs designers. "Pops of indigo blue or deep navy will become a staple in home design this year, as their deep natural hues become extra vibrant against warm earth tones like Marsala," said Zillow Digs home design expert, Kerrie Kelly.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Don't Slip Up - Renter's Insurance Isn't Just for Possessions

December 17, 2014 4:24 am

About once a year I get a reminder from Peter Frascarelli, CPIA, president of PIACT - the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. He has often discussed how renters insurance covers personal items in the event of damage from a variety of events.

If your belongings encounter smoke, broken water pipes, electrical surges, vehicle damage, vandalism, windstorms or an explosion, many renter's insurance plans can cover replacing or repairing items.

However, Frascarelli says, there are some restrictions on what renters insurance will cover.

Generally, natural disasters like earthquakes and flooding are not covered, although most insurance companies offer additional coverage for these situations.

But the most important point Frascarelli makes is regarding renter's liability exposures. Did you know if someone twists an ankle on the wet bathroom floor, the renter is responsible for covering the treatment for the injury.

All the more reason for both current and prospective renter's policyholders to double-check to ensure your policy will cover the medical payments for the injured person, and up to what amount.

One way to ensure you are compensated for any belongings you may lose in a fire, storm or other catastrophe Frascarelli says, is to take an inventory of all possessions.

Your inventory should list each item, its value and serial number. Photograph or videotape each room, including closets, attics, cellars, storage buildings and your garage.

Keep receipts for major items in a fireproof place. And, keep several copies of your inventory and receipts in another location.

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, according to Frascarelli.

Just like any other type of homeowners insurance policy, a renter's insurance premium will depend on a number of factors: where you live; your deductible; your insurance company; and whether you need additional coverage.

To save the most on premiums, Frascarelli says consider increasing your deductible - and ask about discounts for protective devices including smoke and fire detectors and burglar alarms.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Travel Smarter This Holiday

December 17, 2014 4:24 am

Tensions are generally higher on roads and airways over the holidays, and with more Americans than ever planning to travel this season, it’s important to be prepared. To avoid frustration and headaches, Getaroom.com recommends the following tips.

1. Consider traveling on a holiday. Travel on Christmas Day is often much cheaper than in the days leading up to the holiday. If you have kids that want to spend Christmas morning with close relatives and Christmas evening with those further away, traveling on Christmas Day may be your best bet.

2. Save on car rentals. If your vacation is only four to five days in length, you might want to search for weekly rates on car rentals, rather than daily costs. Stay away from car seat or GPS rentals offered with the car, as well as supplemental insurance

3. Fly a smart route. Avoid layovers in areas where snowstorms are prone to happen. If you’re traveling from San Diego to Miami, for example, avoid layovers in Detroit, Chicago or Denver, where winter weather can wreak havoc. Select a route that flies through less unpredictable climates, such as Houston or Atlanta.

4. Get a ride to the airport. Airport parking rates tend to skyrocket over the holidays, so get a lift from a friend or use a recommended car service.

5. Account for extra time. Long lines at the airport can put you at risk of overbooking situations, so arrive well in advance of your departure time. If several flights are overbooked and you miss your original flight, airlines have limited obligations to assist you.

Source: Getaroom.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The High-Tech Homeowner Wish List

December 17, 2014 4:24 am

Tech-savvy millennials aren’t the only ones seeking an upgrade at home. This holiday season, more homeowners are seeking to outfit their homes with devices designed for maximum convenience and security. Which features do high-tech homeowners covet most? Consumer Reports highlights the top choices on smart homeowner wish lists:
Wireless meat thermometer – Perfect for entertaining, a wireless meat thermometer provides hosts with wireless alerts when food reaches a safe temperature.

Smart slow cookers – Smart slow cookers can be controlled and monitored directly from a smartphone – ideal for homeowners who are gone for most of the day. And despite this technological addition, most versions can still be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Robotic vacuum cleaners – Who doesn’t want to come home to a clean house? Robotic vacuum cleaners are a good option for homeowners with little time on their hands, and can be set to run whenever people or pets aren’t present.

Color-changing LED light bulbs – For those who want to consume less electricity and save on bills each month, a color-changing LED light bulb can be brightened or dimmed depending on desired usage. There are even models with color-changing and pulsating options to create a fun atmosphere for guests. Simply set the bulbs up on your Wi-Fi network at home.

Touchscreen locks – The ultimate in home security, a touchscreen deadbolt connects to your home using compatible automation or security devices. Combined with standard key and remote smartphone capabilities, a touchscreen door lock can be your most powerful safety measure against intruders.
Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Simplicity Rules Home Design in 2015

December 16, 2014 4:21 am

With the end of the year drawing near, many homeowners plan to set aside time to outline household expenses for the coming year – and many will be factoring home improvements into the equation, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute.

If you’re carving out room in next year’s budget for home upgrades, consider incorporating some of the trends set to fuel the design industry. For 2015, the Delta Faucet Company points to natural aesthetics, bold motifs and streamlined style. How do you turn those abstract trends into concrete home improvements? Get started with these tips:

Natural Aesthetics
Organic shapes, woods washed with color, powdery surfaces and uneven edges – the natural trend continues to gain favor among home design enthusiasts. Look for overstated colors found in nature, such as blurred bronze, worn copper or oxidized tones. Integrate softer hues into the home with earth tones such as soft gray, sky and sand.

Inspiration: Transform a stained piece of wood into a kitchen countertop, or incorporate stag horn ferns into a wall mount.

Bold Motifs
Simply put, this trend has an outgoing, courageous disposition. Look for feminine curves paired with boisterous colors, such as subtle creams next to loud lace or robust oversized floral patterns.
Pretty and practical is the name of the game.

Inspiration: Showcase your favorite print in a large frame for a beautiful living room backdrop, or collect a variety of frames in different finishes and shapes to construct a unique home gallery.

Streamlined Style
Simplistic design paired with angled blocking results in a balanced and clean environment. Combine geometric profiles with luxury and warmth by pairing tempered metals, such as a clean copper, with marble.

Inspiration: Increase bath space by mounting wall units with steel frames for a clean, structured look.

Source: Delta Faucet Company

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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10 Steps to Secure Social Networking

December 16, 2014 4:21 am

According to a recent survey from Internet security leader Trend Micro, just 38 percent of people know how to limit what they post online, further propelling the concern that heavy social media use can lead to identity theft. Put simply, posting information online can be the gift that keeps on giving.

“Most of us are far too trusting with our personal information online,” says Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of Cloud and Emerging Technologies at Trend Micro. “We don’t realize how quickly little bits add together to form a startlingly accurate picture of our personal lives. This unintentional disclosure of personal data can have very real consequences.”

To mitigate your risk of leaving a trail for cyber thieves to follow, Trend Micro recommends:
1. Only post updates or photos you won't mind sharing with strangers. What goes online stays online.
2. Keep tabs on all your tags and mentions. Getting tagged in a post might seem harmless, but it can also decrease your privacy.
3. Make sure only your intended audience sees your posts. If your friends have less restrictive settings, it’s possible for others to view your information.
4. Never click on a link posted or sent by someone you don’t know.
5. Use a two-factor authentication for all social media accounts, and activate any other security measures you have access to.
6. Check privacy policies and adjust your settings to your comfort level. Keep track of these policies on an ongoing basis – they change often.
7. Double-check your security. Use privacy scanning software to check current privacy settings in different social networks.
8. Report and block spammers. This can help sanitize your feed as well as notify a social media site to take down the spammers’ accounts.
9. Always verify with your contacts any link they send your way, preferably through another form of correspondence.
10. Be careful whom you accept as a friend on social networks. Identity thieves can and do create fake profiles in order to steal your personal information.
Source: Trend Micro

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Buyers: Evaluate a Home's Exterior

December 16, 2014 4:21 am

(BPT) – Buying a home is one of the most important investments you’ll make for yourself and your family. Before making a purchase, ask yourself these four questions. Determining the answers in advance will allow you to enjoy your new home now and in the years ahead.

1. What exterior style speaks to you? Your home is an extension of your lifestyle and a reflection of your personality. When shopping for a new house, contemplate curb appeal. First impressions matter, so it's important to consider architectural style, exterior color and details like trim and landscaping.

2. Is your home protected from the elements? With the climate ever-changing, extreme weather is a reality in all corners of the country. Look for homes with siding and trim products that protect from hurricanes, blizzards, wind, wildfire and more.

3. Is your new home built using sustainable products? Green building continues to be a growing trend, in part because an energy-efficient home can save you money on heating and cooling bills. By choosing a home clad in 100 percent sustainable and efficient material, you're consuming less energy and reducing your environmental footprint.

4. What maintenance will your new home require? Selecting a home made with low-maintenance building materials can lower the chances of large ticket home repairs in the future. Ensure the materials have a strong warranty to protect your investment.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Four Ways to Reduce Your Water Footprint

December 15, 2014 4:21 am

(BPT) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average American family uses 300 gallons of water each day for everything from brushing their teeth and washing clothes to running the sprinkler and flushing the toilet. But what about other uses for water?

‘Invisible’ or ‘virtual’ water is hidden in the things you eat, products you use and clothes you wear. According to the Value of Water Coalition, 86 percent of all water used is invisible to most consumers because it's used to produce food, beverages and products. One T-shirt, for example, requires 700 gallons of water to manufacture; one car uses 40,000. Growing a single apple requires 19 gallons of water.

"As consumers, we need to focus on the water we can't see to make an even bigger impact in helping the environment, saving money and conserving the world's most precious resource," says Roman Lis, a principal engineer at MWH Global. "The good news is there are simple steps we can take, starting where we live and work.”

MWH Global recommends these four tips to reduce your invisible water consumption:

1. Add up your daily habits. Find out how much water - real and invisible - you use each day as a starting point to determine the best steps to consider in reducing your consumption. You can log your daily habits into the Water Footprint Calculator at www.waterfootprint.org. Choose the extended water calculator, which tallies the water you use at home and the water that's in the food you eat and products you buy.

2. Make simple switches. Consider substituting products that use more water with others that have a smaller water footprint. For example, drink more tap or filtered water instead of buying bottled water. Find favorite recipes that replace or use less meat. (It takes 1,230 gallons of water to yield one beef steak.) Buy more clothes with artificial fibers instead of cotton which is made with more water.

3. Use water-efficient appliances. T
oilets, dishwashers and washing machines use a significant portion of a household's visible water consumption. When it's time to replace an appliance, do your research. Find out the amount of water an appliance uses from the manufacturer's data and compare various products to identify the ones that have the lowest water consumption. Replacing an old toilet, for example, can reduce the toilet's water consumption by 20 to 60 percent.

4. Choose more sustainable products and practices. It's not always easy to know the water footprint of your favorite products since there aren't any labeling requirements. However, some product labels or websites may note the company's sustainable practices, including water, for acquiring, producing and distributing goods. Try to select products you trust as being made in more environmentally and water-friendly ways. Look for companies that have high sustainability ratings.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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