Donna Maicher
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RE/MAX 440   Donna Maicher
101 Quakertown Ave.  Pennsburg, PA  18073
Office Phone: 215-679-9797    Phone: 215-679-9797  Fax: 267-354-6869  Cell: 267-249-6850
donnamaicher@comcast.net

My Blog

Selling or Not, Remodeling Boosts Homeowner Happiness

December 11, 2015 1:55 am

Homeowners preparing to sell often make home improvements both big and small to garner top dollar from buyers—but those same projects can also be beneficial to homeowners remaining in their homes, according to the National Association of REALTORS® recent Remodeling Impact Report. In fact, the report states nearly 65 percent of homeowners experienced increased enjoyment in their homes after completing a remodeling project.

And when it comes to resale, kitchen and bathroom renovations, hardwood flooring refinishes, insulation upgrades, new wood flooring and converted basements rank high among REALTORS® cited in the report, as well as new roofing, new vinyl siding and new vinyl windows.

For homeowners staying put, projects that bring the most happiness include fiber-cement siding, new fiberglass or steel-front doors, new roofing and new garage doors.

"Remodeling projects can greatly improve both the value of and satisfaction with one's home, which are great things no matter the reason for a project," says Judy Mozen, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. "This report highlights the best projects to consider in either situation and showcases just how much of a difference a good and professional remodel can make in real numbers.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Travel Trends to Watch in 2016

December 10, 2015 1:52 am

From in-flight tablet holders to “space bins,” travelers will see many an innovation in the coming year, according to a recent report by Cheapflights.com. Trends to watch include:

• Extreme long-haul flights, thanks to declining oil prices. Emirates will launch a 17-hour, 35-minute fight from Dubai to Panama City starting in February, and Singapore Airlines has plans for a 19-hour flight from Singapore to New York beginning in 2018.

• Airplane design changes, such as charging pads, tablet holders and extra wide seats. There has been a flurry of patents set to re-engineer passenger seating and cabin configurations, as well.

• Tracking technology for unaccompanied minors so parents can see where their children are at any given moment. Child-free zones will also come into play.

• “Space bins” that offer more space than the traditional overhead compartment. Alaska Airlines is leading the pack, putting “space bins” into service by 2017.

• Supersonic flying, with the goal of traveling from New York to London in just 90 minutes. Initiatives by Airbus, Lockheed Martin and up-and-comer Skreemr are all underway.

Source: Cheapflights.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Picture of Household Debt in America

December 10, 2015 1:52 am

Household debt—including mortgages, credit cards, student and auto loans—has reached $11.9 trillion, a sign of progress for the economy, according to a recent report by NerdWallet (www.nerdwallet.com). Though many connote debt with a negative financial situation, certain kinds can be beneficial to building credit, including mortgages and auto loans.

“It's alarming that household debt is on the rise, but it's also important to recognize that not all debt is created equal," says Sean McQuay, credit card associate at NerdWallet. “Under the right circumstances, mortgage, student and auto loan debt can be helpful in building a bright financial future. That said, it's critical for Americans to understand their debt and recognize that certain types of debt are unnecessarily costly.”

Mortgage debt owed by the average household totals $165,892, according to the report. Credit card debt owed by the average household totals $15,355; student loan debt owed by the average household totals $47,712; auto loan debt owed by the average household totals $26,530.

The report also finds the average household is paying $6,658 in interest, which equals approximately 9 percent of the average household income ($75,591).

Source: NerdWallet

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Your Roof Reindeer-Ready?

December 10, 2015 1:52 am

The holidays are fast approaching! Amid the gift-giving, gathering with loved ones and decorating, the season serves as an important reminder for homeowners to make their roofs “reindeer-ready,” or review their roofs.

To do that, the experts at the Metal Roofing Alliance advise completing the following 10 checks, which can be done without a ladder:

1. For homes with asphalt shingles, look for black areas indicating cracking shingles.

2. For homes with shake or shingles, look for pieces that are curled upward, split, broken off or missing.

3. For homes with slate roofs, look for black areas that indicate slate is missing.

4. Look for heavy wear around the valleys, the areas where water runs off the roof into the gutters.

5. Look at the materials around the chimney and vent pipes and check for cracks, gaps and missing or fractured caulking.

6. Check eave overhangs for water damage.

7. Use binoculars to check around the chimney, trim and other flashings for signs of cracks, shingles that are coming up off the roof and general wear.

8. Conduct an interior inspection for stained or discolored ceilings, which most likely indicates roof problems.

9. Check your gutters for asphalt shingle granules.  Lots of granules mean less coverage on your roof. 

10. Remove branches, twigs and leaves from gutters and clear out down spouts to allow for snow and ice run off.

Source: Metal Roofing Alliance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Caregivers: 5 Signs of Declining Financial Capability

December 9, 2015 1:52 am

(Family Features)—If you've been entrusted to assist an elderly relative, you may struggle with knowing when it's time to take on a greater role. It is likely that at some point your loved ones' financial capability will be challenged as they age, making it more difficult to competently handle money-related matters on their own.

To best gauge their level of need, Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), recommends watching for the following signs:

1. Is the aging person taking longer to complete financial tasks? Does he or she struggle with everyday efforts like preparing bills for mailing, reconciling bank statements or organizing paperwork?

2. Is the person missing key details in financial documents? Are bills piling up and has he or she missed a payment? Is he or she able to prioritize his or her regular responsibilities?

3. Is your aging relative experiencing problems with everyday arithmetic? Maybe you recently went out to dinner with mom and dad, and while paying, they took an inordinate amount of time to calculate the appropriate tip.

4. Have you noticed a decreased understanding of financial concepts with your loved ones? Are they having increased difficulty comprehending health care matters like deductibles, or are they having a hard time understanding the bank statements they receive?

5. Are they having new difficulty identifying investment risks? Are they able to minimize the risks in potential investments? Did they recently fall victim to fraud or a scam because they could not spot the liabilities?

For both parties, approaching these discussions with candor and an open mind is critical, adds Beck.

"Especially if you're accustomed to handling money matters privately, learning to talk more candidly about your finances may be uncomfortable," says Beck. "However, allowing trusted individuals to take a closer look at your accounts can help you establish a realistic plan for the future, and help flag any potential concerns."

Source: NEFE

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Themes to Inspire a Kitchen Upgrade

December 9, 2015 1:52 am

The kitchen is the heart of the home—and whether you’re listing today or in the near future, it will be the prime selling point for buyers. To attract offers, it’s important your kitchen play into a cohesive theme that’s not only stylish, but also functional.

Not sure which theme is right for you? Get inspired with the ideas below, courtesy of the experts at Cornerstone Design and Remodel.

1. Minimalist – For fans of simplicity, minimalism thrives on light colors like eggshell or taupe, which help open up the kitchen. These muted tones work well as a wall color or in a floor tile. To continue the clean look throughout the space, install floating shelves and built-in storage spaces over cabinets, and avoid a kitchen island, if possible. For a finishing touch that breathes life into the design, add a house plant, herbs or other greenery.

2. Rustic –Rustic design is centered on natural finishes and accents. Install a dark, natural wood or stone tile on the floor, and look for deep, rich colors, like mahogany, for your cabinets and kitchen table. Warm light complements this style best, so avoid fluorescent bulbs in your lighting fixtures. Create a sense of quaint comfort with wall-mounted pots and pans and an in-kitchen fireplace.

3. Modern – Modern designs revolve around metallic and monochromatic color schemes. Think stainless steel appliances with white cabinets and a black-tiled floor, along with pendant lighting and well-organized countertops, to bring this theme to life.

4. Southwestern – For those who aren’t afraid of color, Southwestern-style design boasts artistic flair with cheerful yellows, oranges and reds. To carry this theme through your kitchen, install warm-colored tile, hang folk art or display pottery. Keep your appliances neutral to avoid “color clutter.”

5. Utilitarian – In utilitarian design, aesthetics are second to functionality. Focus on creating ample counterspace and storage. Add accessories that foster organization, like a wall-mounted spice rack, and one or two well-placed art pieces for personality.

Source: Cornerstone Design & Remodel

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowner Handbook: What to Do If the Pipes Freeze

December 9, 2015 1:52 am

From ice dams to broken branches, winter weather can damage your home and property in more ways than one. One of winter’s most destructive effects is frozen pipes, which can burst and cost thousands to repair.

If your pipes have already frozen, shut off the water main leading into the home, say the experts at Roto-Rooter. This will reduce pressure on the pipes and minimize flooding if the pipes burst. This is particularly important if you are going to be away from home.

Even with the water main turned off, there will be enough pressure to reveal leaks once the pipe has thawed. Inspect for leaks regularly.

If the frozen pipe is exposed and visible, use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the ice blockage. Do not use an open flame!

If you’d prefer the help of a professional, hire a plumber equipped with pipe-thawing equipment to get your pipes flowing again. The plumber can also assess any damage and make repairs if necessary.

If no leaks are found, a qualified plumber will examine pipes that experienced a hard freeze. Keep in mind some may need to be replaced because the material has experienced stretching and fatigue, putting the pipes at risk for future failure.

Source: Roto-Rooter

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are Chevy Malibus Popular in Malibu? Geocentric Vehicles Debunked

December 8, 2015 1:46 am

Geocentric vehicles—cars with a location in their name—are not always popular in the city or state of their namesake, according to a recent report by Edmunds.com. In fact, if the names were to reflect the areas where the cars are most popular, they’d look a little something like:

Buick Kincaid – Only 0.2 percent of new cars purchased this year in La Crosse, Wis., were a Buick LaCrosse. The largest concentration of Buick LaCrosse sales are actually located about 400 miles south toward Kincaid, Ill., where the sedan made up 8.9 percent of all new car registrations this year.

Chevrolet Montana – The Chevrolet Colorado is a top choice for Coloradoans navigating the rugged Rocky Mountain terrain—right? Wrong. Colorado is actually the 34th most popular state for the compact pickup, which makes up just 0.5 percent of the state's new vehicle registrations so far this year. Head two states north to Montana instead, where the truck has made up 2 percent of all new vehicle purchases this year.

Chevrolet Garciasville – As it turns out, there isn't a whole lot of Southern California love for the Chevrolet Malibu—only 0.1 percent of new car registrations in its namesake community carried the Malibu nameplate this year, ranking the beachside city as the 10,789th most popular locale for the vehicle. If you want to find the top town, you'll have to travel 1,600 miles to Garciasville, Texas, where more than 15 percent of all new car registrations this year were Chevy Malibus.

Dodge Castle Dale – The folks in Durango, Colo., aren't responding to the Dodge Durango—in fact, only 0.5 percent of car buyers in this picturesque mountain town opted for the Dodge SUV. One place where this vehicle is most appreciated is less than one gas tank away in Castle Dale, Utah, where 7.7 percent of all new car purchases this year were Durangos.

Hyundai Clements – Santa Fe might be the capital of New Mexico, but it's far from being the capital of its eponymous SUV. Only one-tenth of 1 percent of all new car purchases in this city were Hyundai Santa Fes year-to-date. One place where the Santa Fe SUV is truly appreciated, though, is Clements, Md.—5.6 percent of all new car sales in this unincorporated town were Santa Fes.

Hyundai Wilmington or Hyundai Fort Garland – There’s not much enthusiasm for the Hyundai Tucson in Tucson, Ariz. Only four-tenths of 1 percent of all new cars registered there this year were Hyundai Tucsons. Both Wilmington, N.Y., and Fort Garland, Colo., boast the largest share of Tucsons—6.7 percent of all new sales.

Kia Cedar Grove – Where's the "Sedona Spirit" in Sedona, Ariz.? Not a single new Kia Sedona has been registered in its namesake town this year. In Cedar Grove, W.V., however, nearly 13 percent of all new car purchases registered were Kia Sedonas.

Toyota Kilauea – Almost 2 percent of vehicles registered this year in Tacoma, Wash., were Toyota Tacomas, which is relatively impressive—except when you consider that 5,492 other cities and towns have a better showing. The town with the highest rate of Toyota Tacoma purchases this year is 2,600 miles of ocean away in Kilauea, Hawaii, with one out of every four new cars registered this year being a Toyota Tacoma.

Source: Edmunds.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Steps to a Home Fire Safety Plan

December 8, 2015 1:46 am

Did you know you may have just two minutes to exit your home in the event of a fire?

According to a recent survey by the American Red Cross, many have a false sense of security when it comes to fire safety, with some believing they have as much as 10 minutes to leave their home if a fire breaks out. Most parents believe their children know what to do in case of fire, despite only half discussing fire safety with their families—just 10 percent of families have actually practiced home fire drills, and only about 25 percent have identified a safe place where family members can meet outside the home, the survey found.

To keep your family safe from home fires, the Red Cross advises the following tips:

• Test your smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries when needed.
• Develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of day.
• Ensure there are two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.
• Pick a place outside of the home for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
• Practice the home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.

Source: American Red Cross

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Years in Housing: What's Changed?

December 8, 2015 1:46 am

From the recession to new regulation, the housing market has seen unprecedented change in the last 10 years. In that time, the United States Census Bureau has documented those changes through the American Community Survey, the nation’s largest ongoing household survey that produces statistics annually at all levels of geography.

"The American Community Survey is how America knows what America needs," Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson says. "From its beginning 10 years ago, it immediately proved to be a vital tool in providing a portrait of Gulf Coast communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Today, it is the premier source of statistics for anyone needing detailed local information for small towns, neighborhoods and communities both rural and urban."

Survey highlights over the past 10 years include:

• Between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, median monthly housing costs for owners with a mortgage increased in 177 counties and decreased in 1,163 counties. In 1,798 counties, the change was not statistically significant. In 171 counties, owners with a mortgage had a median monthly housing cost greater than $1,750, with 63 of these counties located in the Northeast.

• Between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, median gross rent increased in 719 counties and decreased in 204 counties. The change was not statistically significant in 2,217 counties. In 182 counties, renters had a median gross rent of more than $1,000, with 65 of these counties located in the South, 62 counties located in in the West, 49 counties located in the Northeast and six located in the Midwest.

• Between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, the percent of housing units that were owner-occupied increased in 115 counties and decreased in 931 counties. The change was not statistically significant in 2,096 counties. In 136 counties, more than 80 percent of the housing units were owner-occupied, with 73 of these counties located in the Midwest.

• Between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, median household income increased in 187 counties and decreased in 991 counties. The change in median income was not statistically significant in 1,964 counties. 260 counties had median household income greater than $60,000, and 223 had median household income of less than $35,000. Counties surrounding Washington, D.C. and New York City had among the highest median household incomes, along with counties in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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