Bette McTamney
Bette McTamney
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack, PA 19474
Phone: 610-584-1160 1505 |Office Phone: 610-584-1160 | Fax: 267-354-6985
Cell: 610-256-9619 | bmctamney@remax440.com

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Better Days Ahead? Millennials Think So

March 18, 2014 1:21 am

Americans today have an increasingly positive view of the current U.S. economy, despite years of economic uncertainty. According to a recent survey of 1,004 U.S. adults, 74 percent feel the economy is better (41 percent) or the same (33 percent) as a year ago. But it is the country's millennial generation that has the best outlook.

According to the latest PulteGroup Home Index Survey (PGHI) by PulteGroup, Inc., one of the nation's largest homebuilders, 54 percent of millennials indicate the economy is better than a year ago. This optimism remains in line with recent Pew Research indicating 49 percent of millennials say the country's best days are ahead. With this increased confidence, nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of millennials view now as an excellent or good time to buy the things they want or need.

"No other cohort of adults is nearly as confident about their economic future as the millennials are right now," said Jim Zeumer, vice president of corporate communications. "This is definitely a change, as millennials have regularly been viewed as the disenfranchised generation vastly affected by the fallout of the recession. But now, with an increased sense of optimism, this generation is starting to feel as though they have the resources available to lead the lives they want or expect to in the future."

Specific to purchasing decisions, the vast majority (85 percent) of millennials plan to purchase a home in the future, with 65 percent preferring to spend more money on a home that is move-in ready compared to doing renovations. Additionally, 49 percent of millennials plan to purchase a home in the next two years. Of those planning to purchase in the near-term, 56 percent are current homeowners and 41 percent are renters. According to the Company's internal data, 41 percent of its homebuyers were millennials.

The survey also indicated that 58 percent of millennials increased their interest in purchasing a home in the past year as the positive attributes of homeownership resonate with this generation. They associate owning a home with happiness (62 percent), independence (61 percent) and achievement (59 percent). Further, millennials view a home as a financial investment (33 percent) and like the thought of calling themselves a homeowner (35 percent).

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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RREIN RC - More Than 4 Million First-Time Buyers Want to Enter the Housing Market in 2014, Buoyed by Strong U.S. Housing Confidence

March 14, 2014 1:57 am

Millions of current renters nationwide aspire to buy a home in the next year, according to the inaugural edition of the Zillow Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), suggesting strong demand among potential first-time homebuyers if market conditions are favorable. But existing headwinds, including tight inventory, rising mortgage interest rates and growing affordability problems in a handful of areas, may make it difficult for potential buyers to follow through on those aspirations as the market enters the busy spring home shopping season.

In 19 of the 20 large metro areas surveyed, more than 5 percent of all residents indicated they wanted to buy a home in the next year. Among current renters, homeownership aspirations were particularly strong, with about 10 percent of all renters nationwide saying they would like to buy within the next 12 months. The vast majority of these respondents also said they were confident or somewhat confident they could afford homeownership now. If all renters that indicated they wanted to buy actually did purchase a home in the next year, it would represent more than 4.2 million first-time home sales, more than double the roughly 2.1 million first-time homebuyers in 2013.

Homeownership aspirations among current renters were the highest in Miami, Atlanta and Las Vegas, three metro areas that were among the hardest-hit by the housing recession, according to the Zillow Homeownership Aspirations Index (ZHAI), a component of the broader ZHCI.

Mortgage interest rates are also on the rise, currently standing at about 4.2 percent nationally, according to the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, well above 2013 lows of roughly 3.3 percent.

"For the housing market to continue its recovery, it is critical that homes are both available and remain affordable to meet the strong demand these survey results are predicting, particularly from first-time homebuyers," said Zillow® Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "This data shows that the dream of homeownership remains very much alive and well, even in those areas that were hardest hit. But these aspirations must also contend with the current reality, and in many areas, conditions remain difficult for buyers. The market is moving toward more balance between buyers and sellers, but it is a slow and uneven process."

The Zillow Housing Confidence Index, sponsored by Zillow, Inc. and developed by Pulsenomics LLC, is measured on a 0 to 100 scale, with readings above 50 indicating positive sentiment. The overall ZHCI for the U.S. stood at 63.7 at the start of the year. Of the 20 metro areas surveyed, 11 had individual confidence levels higher than the U.S. as a whole. The overall U.S. ZHAI among all households, which measures consumers' plans to buy and their attitudes toward the social value of homeownership, stood at 62.4.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best Used Cars and Ones to Avoid

March 14, 2014 1:57 am

With prices at historic highs – even for models with high mileage and seemingly excessive wear – and with so many vehicles from which to choose, shopping for a used car can be a challenge. To help Americans choose the best used car for their money, Consumer Reports compiled a “Best & Worst Used Cars” list for model years 2004 through 2013.

The full report is available in Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue, which is on newsstands now, and at the 2014 Autos Spotlight page on ConsumerReports.org. Highlighted are the best small cars, sedans, and SUVs available in four price ranges: from $10,000 or less up to $25,000. Each performed well in CR's testing when new and had above-average reliability for the model years shown, based on CR's Annual Auto Survey. And all models came standard with electronic stability control (ESC).

"When shopping for a used car, it's really important to find a car that drives well and will hold up down the road. Our guide makes it easy for shoppers to choose a great used car by highlighting the best small cars, sedans, and SUVs in four different price ranges," said Rik Paul, auto editor, Consumer Reports.

In the $15,000-$20,000 price range the following cars made Consumer Reports' list of best used cars:

Small cars: 2012-13 Hyundai Elantra and 2011-13 Subaru Impreza
These are as roomy and as comfortable as larger, more expensive cars. The Elantra combines nimble and secure handling with a fairly comfortable ride. The Impreza sedan and hatchback both offer standard all-wheel drive along with sporty handling and a great ride.

Sedans: 2011-12 Toyota Camry, 2010-11 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and 2008 Acura TL
Both the four- and six-cylinder Camry deliver impressive fuel economy along with a comfortable ride, a roomy cabin, and superb reliability. For even better gas mileage, the Camry Hybrid gets 34 mpg overall and 41 on the highway. A sportier alternative is the Acura TL, which has long been one of our favorite sedans to drive.

SUVs: 2006-07 Lexus RX and 2009-10 Subaru Forester (nonturbo)
The Lexus RX is comfortable, nicely finished, and extremely reliable. The hybrid version gets good fuel economy. The Forester is more utilitarian but handles well and has an excellent ride. Access is easy, and the view out is the best among SUVs.

The Consumer Reports used “Cars to Avoid” list includes 2004 to 2013 models that have had multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability, according to CR's Annual Auto Survey. Among the more than 20 models that made the list are the BMW X5 (6-cyl.), Chrysler Town & Country, Ford Fiesta, and Volkswagen Beetle.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Revitalize Forgotten Furniture with a Simple DIY Transformation

March 13, 2014 1:42 am

(Family Features) Putting your own flair into an old piece of furniture or thrift store find is a creative and budget-friendly way to transform unused items into personal treasures.

Refinishing old tables, chairs and other wooden items can instill new life, making these pieces functional and contemporary once more. Whether you’re repurposing a piece entirely, or simply updating the look, there are a few things to keep in mind:

• Color: Do you have a specific room in mind to use your selected piece? If you have a place already chosen, consider a colored stain to match the room’s décor. If not, a versatile wood tone may be a better choice.
• Product: Is this your first project? If so, water-based products can be a simpler, DIY friendly alternative to oil based stains and finishes. Will your “new” furniture be in frequent or casual use? To protect from wear and tear on daily-use items, be sure to finish your project with an appropriate sealant or protective coat. Interior stain and sealers offer a protective element built into the product, such as Cabot Premium Wood Finish, which provides rich color and tough, durable results.
• Preparation: Although you may be anxious to put your new treasure to use, taking time to properly strip and prepare your wood for its new finish will ensure the best results.

This DIY project, created by Beth Hunter, author of the blog “Home Stories A to Z,” shows you how to take a tired, outdated coffee table from attic to amazing in three simple steps.

Supplies:
Chemical stripper
Hand-held paint scraper
Tack cloths or lint-free rags
Rubber gloves
Safety glasses
Orbital sander with 60-, 120- and 220-grit discs
Interior wood stain and sealer product, such as Cabot Premium Wood Finish (in the ready-to-use or custom-tinted to your color of choice)
Painters’ tape
Paint brush
300 grit sand paper

1. Use a chemical stripper to remove heavy layers of paint, stain or varnish. Follow the label’s directions, allowing the stripper to sit for the designated amount of time and then gently scraping and wiping away the residue (tack cloth or lint-free rag is important, so you don’t leave particles behind).

Tip: Remember to wear gloves approved for chemical handling and eye protection, and be sure to set up your project in a well-ventilated area. A respirator may be necessary to ensure you don’t inhale too many powerful fumes.

2. Once your piece has been stripped, wiped clean with a damp rag and allowed to thoroughly dry, you are ready to sand. Although for some small projects sandpaper sheets will do, you’ll get the best results using a quality orbital sander (there are many options in the $50 to $100 range, well worth the investment if you’ll be doing more projects in the future).

Using the sander, start with a low-grit, coarse sandpaper (60 grit) and work up to the high-grit, fine paper (220 grit). The low grit takes off any remaining finish quickly and roughens the wood, while the finer grits smooth the wood and create a pristine surface. After sanding, use a tack cloth to wipe down your piece and remove the dust.

3. Now you are ready to add color. For this project, a series of colors in the new Cabot Premium Wood Finish line were used, including Mussel Shell, Stormy Teal, Riverbed and Coffeehouse. The products in this line are water-based stain and sealers so they dry quickly, and are good choices for a DIYer because they stain and protect at once while providing high-quality, beautiful results. These finishes also offer smooth application without the need for a primer or conditioner and a simple soap and water clean-up.

If you will be using multiple colors, as with this project, tape off areas to make crisp lines. Use a brush to apply the product, and allow to dry as described on the package directions. Use ultra-fine grit sand paper, such as 300 grit, to lightly sand the first coat. Finish with a second coat.

Tips: For a richer color, use the finest sand paper possible to remove as little stain as possible between coats. Apply more layers for a darker look, or only one coat for a distressed look.

For additional DIY project ideas for your home, including tips and how-to videos, visit www.cabotstain.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Tips for Pet Parents on Suitable Etiquette for Pets

March 12, 2014 1:21 am

In preparation for getting outdoors this spring, Petco is helping pet parents refresh their manners with eight proper "pettiquette" tips for weather of all kinds.

1. Keep barking under control:
The pet parent with the barking dog is most likely not the most popular neighbor. Although barking is not always preventable, ensure pets receive proper training so they don't bark incessantly. Avoid leaving dogs alone for long periods of time, especially outdoors. Making sure pets have enough exercise and plenty of toys to provide mental stimulation will help curb barking.

2. Don't let cats wander: Although cats can exhibit very independent behavior, the outdoor cat that is always wandering into their neighbor's yard, may not be welcomed with open arms. Keep cats from visiting the family next door by providing them a cozy space inside the home with enough toys to keep them mentally stimulated throughout the day.

3. Keep the hair and smell at bay: When dining out with pets, ensure dogs are properly groomed to keep shedding to a minimum. A smelly dog shedding its winter coat is never pleasant near food so bathe pets regularly and use a shed control shampoo. When entertaining at home, make sure guests want to return by removing pet hair from furniture and smelling of the animal. Be sure the cat's litter box is scooped daily. Keep small animal and reptile habitats clean.

4. Clean up waste: Walking into the front yard and stepping in a pile of poop from a neighbor's dog can be upsetting. It may sound simple, but be sure to pick up waste when walking a dog. Products, like the eco-friendly Earth Rated Poop Bags, easily hook to the dog's leash making it simple to carry along on a walk.

5. Obey the rules
: Keep dogs leashed at all times while at parks and in other dog-friendly public places. Excited dogs who are off-leash may run and jump on people or children or hurt themselves by running away from their pet parent. Only take a dog off-leash at a dog park that allows it. Remember to obey all marked rules at the dog park and don't forget to close the gate behind you so other dogs can't escape.

6. Positive reinforcement is key: Barking orders is not the way to encourage a pet to behave, especially when it is done in public. Disciplining pets in front of others can make people uncomfortable. Instead, train pets by reinforcing good behavior with loving attention or a treat. Keep a calm tone and never raise your voice, especially when in public.

7. Use table manners: Never feed pets from the pet parent's lap or plate. Not only can certain people food be dangerous for pets, but this behavior can encourage pets to beg. Always feed pets from their own food bowl away from human consumption.

8. Not everyone loves animals: It may be hard to believe, especially since pets are such a part of family life, but not everyone is an animal lover. Some people may be allergic to dogs or cats and some can even fear animals. To avoid an unpleasant run in, never let pets run up to a stranger. When taking out other types of pets like birds, reptiles or rabbits, keep in mind that others may feel uncomfortable around these animals. On the other hand, these pets may attract more attention since they are not seen in public as often, so keep them safe by always encouraging strangers to ask before petting or handling them.

Source: Petco

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Freshen your Closet this Spring with These Tips

March 12, 2014 1:21 am

Spring is the perfect time to give your home a fresh start, and one of the best places to begin is with your clothes closets. Admit it: There are items lurking there that haven't seen the light of day in a very long time. Follow these tips from the cleaning experts at The Maids to rejuvenate your wardrobe and your storage spaces.

1. It's time to be ruthless and save only the items that you are excited to own and wear. Alternately, follow the one-year rule (or the two-year rule if you are a softie) and get rid of everything you haven't worn in that time period. The only exemptions should be for garments that hold special meaning for you. Gently worn items can be sold or donated to charitable organizations. Or, gather friends together for a clothing swap.

2. Some people might prefer to take everything out of the closet to begin the cleaning process. But if that sounds overwhelming, plan to break up the cleaning task over a few days. Sort out shoes one day, pants and skirts on another, and so on until you have examined everything. Launder any items that need it.

3. Organize the space in a way that makes sense to you. For instance, place warm-weather clothing on one side and cool-weather items on the other. Place like items together: all pants in one area, all jackets in another. Or you can group items by color.

4. Use containers to extend your space. See-through boxes are perfect for scarves, belts and jewelry. Hat boxes and old suitcases add personality to the space.

5. Vacuum or mop the floor; use a disinfectant to wipe down metal shelves and handles; and line drawers with paper.

6. If your closet is still full when you are finished cleaning, promise yourself that nothing new will go in until something old comes out.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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