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Maureen Fitzgerald
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
 Phone: 215-643-3200 1824
Office Phone: 215-643-3200
Cell: 215-530-6438
Fax: 267-354-6880 
mfitzgerald@remaxcentralinc.com
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5 Tips for Filing a Flood Insurance Claim

October 20, 2015 12:40 am

If your property has been heavily damaged during severe weather, filing an insurance claim should be first on your list of post-storm to-dos. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), when filing a homeowners or auto insurance claim, the first step is to call your insurance professional as soon as possible to start the claims process. If the storm caused you to relocate, let your company know where you are currently residing and how best to reach you.

Flood damage to either a residence or business is covered by policies provided by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as a few private insurance companies. Keep in mind that standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies do not cover flood damage. The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy covers flood-related damage.

When filing your flood insurance claim:

1. Locate the insurance company name and your policy number before calling your insurance professional.

2. Provide a list of damaged property to help your adjuster prepare a loss estimate. This includes a written inventory along with receipts, bills and photos, if possible.

3. Check with your adjuster before discarding flood-damaged items. If local authorities require disposal of these items for health or safety reasons, photograph them first for your records.

4. Understand that flood claim payment checks from your insurance company are often made payable to both you and your mortgage lender.

5. Make sure you understand what forms need to be filled out and when.

Homeowners, renters and businesses who sustained flood damage but were not covered by an NFIP policy may be eligible for state and federal assistance.

Source: I.I.I.

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Mortgage Rates in 3-Month Holding Pattern

October 20, 2015 12:40 am

Mortgage rates remain below 4 percent – a trend that’s stayed virtually unchanged for 12 weeks straight, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Rates as they stand are:

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) – 3.82 percent (with an average 0.6 point)

15-year FRM – 3.03 percent (with an average 0.6 point)

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) – 2.88 percent (with an average 0.4 point)

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM – 2.54 percent (with an average 0.2 point)

Recent comments by the Federal Reserve suggesting it may not raise short-term interest rates, coupled with weaker-than-expected consumer demand, have pushed Treasury yields lower. This turn of events indicates interest rates may remain lower a while longer.

“As the shock of the September employment report wore off, Treasury rates drifted higher,” explains Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate climbed six basis points to 3.82 percent, marking 12 consecutive weeks below 4 percent.”

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Costumes Will Reign Supreme This Halloween?

October 19, 2015 2:40 am

It seems the Force will be with everyone this Halloween.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey, “Star Wars”-themed costumes will be most popular among adults, children and pets, along with “Minions”-themed ensembles.

“As we’ve seen for the past several years, Hollywood and pop culture both have a tremendous impact on how adults and their children decide to dress the part each Halloween, and it’s evident some of the biggest newsmakers of the year will be out in full force this fall,” says Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO.

More than 1.4 million adults and 1.8 million children will don a “Star Wars” get-up this year, according to the survey. Additionally, about one in 10 Halloween celebrants plan to dress their furry friends in costumes, including those of beloved “Star Wars” characters.

“It’s easier than ever for consumers to find creative Halloween costumes given the popularity of Pinterest and Instagram and the immediate access to pop culture trends,” says Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst with Prosper Insights, conductors of the survey. “It’s always a nice surprise to see what tops the list each year and to see just how creative people will get when it comes to what their own and even their pets’ costumes will be.”

Other top costumes for adults include:

- Witch

- Animal

- “Batman” Character

- Zombie

- Pirate

- Vampire

- Action/Super Hero

- Doctor/Nurse

- Slasher Movie Character

- Political

Other top costumes for children include:

- Princess

- “Batman” Character

- Action/Super Hero

- Animal

- “Frozen” Character

- Zombie

- Witch

- Pumpkin

Other top costumes for pets include:

- Pumpkin

- Hot Dog

- “Batman” Character

- Devil

- Bumblebee

- Dog

- Cat

- Shark

- Princess

Source: NRF

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The Dos and Don'ts of Home Fire Safety

October 19, 2015 2:40 am

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, fire safety and preparedness is of the utmost importance. To protect against fires, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following dos and don’ts.

DO keep a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Stay safe with smoke alarms outside of every bedroom and each separate sleeping area.

DO address your needs. If you require eyeglasses, a hearing aid, a cane or a wheelchair, ensure they are next to your bed to quickly grab if necessary. If there is a fire, you may have less than three minutes to get out of your home. Be ready to act immediately.

DO make a fire escape plan with at least two ways out of every room. Identify a meeting place in the front of your home to verify that everyone is safe and help firefighters ensure everyone exited safely.

DON’T forget to test your smoke alarm every month. The risk of fatality in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. If your alarm doesn’t sound when tested, it’s time to replace it.

DON’T assume you’ll hear the fire alarm if it sounds. If you test the alarm and can’t hear it, consider getting a strobe light that will flash or a bed shaker that will shake when the smoke alarm sounds.

DON’T stop to call 911 until you’re safely outside and away from danger. Stay outside until the fire department says it’s safe to go back inside.

Source: FEMA

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4 Tips to Make Your Home Hurricane-Ready

October 19, 2015 2:40 am

Many homeowners make preparations in the days leading up to a hurricane’s landfall, but that may not be soon enough, according to the disaster preparedness experts at Generac Power Systems.

"Hurricanes are unpredictable, so it's especially important for residents in areas that are in the projected path of the storm to prepare as early as possible," says Clement Feng, Generac's senior vice president of marketing. "Proper preparedness can make all the difference in severe weather situations."

If you’re not sure where to start, Feng recommends:

• Charging your electronics. Like storms, the power outages associated with them are very unpredictable. Our homes and lifestyles today are more reliant on technology than ever, so charge your cell phone, computer and other electronic devices before the storm hits. Put new batteries in flashlights and have a backup case of batteries in a watertight container.

• Removing outdoor furniture and loose foliage. Hurricane winds can reach 100 miles per hour or more depending on the storm's category. Outdoor furniture or loose foliage can become a projectile, causing damage to your home or nearby buildings. Bring them inside to eliminate the risk.

• Stocking up on essentials. Having gallons of water, a storage room with food, extra batteries and waterproof emergency numbers on hand is a smart idea on its own, but will come in extra handy if you can't leave your home during a hurricane.

• Choosing a backup power source. Generators can be lifesaving when severe weather causes an outage. From keeping refrigerated medicine cold to powering lights or a cell phone charger, generators are an important lifeline to keep families and homes safe and protected. Both portable and home standby generators offer benefits, and residents of all kinds are encouraged to include this technology as part of their preparedness plans.

Source: Generac

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Weight Loss Tips that Have Nothing to Do with Diet or Exercise

October 16, 2015 2:34 am

A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for losing weight. But, says fitness trainer Kate Nugent, developing certain habits outside of your diet and exercise regimen can do a lot to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Help yourself along by trying these tips:

Get some sleep – A good night’s sleep can boost your mood, improve your work performance, and even help you keep your weight down. Studies show that people who regularly make do with less than seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to be overweight.

Sit down and chew – Studies also show that people who rush through meals, eat over the sink, or gulp down food also tend toward overweight. Sitting down to a meal and chewing thoroughly results in better weight control.

Snack right before food shopping – Going to the grocery store hungry leaves you open to temptation. Eat an apple or another fruit or veggie before shopping to help you make better food choices.

Eat from a plate, not out of a bag – It’s important that you see how much of a snack you're ingesting before you dive in. Count or pour out the portion you’re allowing yourself. Don’t eat out of the bag.

Use a smaller plate – This is about visual deception. Dishing out your meal onto a small plate will make the portions seem larger.

Out of sight, out of mind – Stow snack and junk foods out of plain sight; give healthier foods prime real estate in the fridge. Then go ahead and grab what you see first.

Stop wearing sweats around the house – Wearing something loose and comfy tends to make you pay less heed to what you’re eating. Wear clothes that encourage you to pay attention to what you ingest.

Relax a little – Stress has been shown to induce over-eating. On even your busiest days, take a couple of 10-minute breathers to read, listen to music, or just take a quick lie-down.

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How to Prevent Property Damage from Critters

October 16, 2015 2:34 am

Even though human encounters with raccoons, squirrels and other foragers are uncommon, property damage and other nuisance behaviors are common, says Jim Doiron, a Terminix service manager. While keeping your yard clear from food waste, fallen tree berries and other tasty debris is a given, there are a few other preventative steps you can take, says Doiron:

1. For outdoor garbage, use a bin stored in a well-lit area that won’t tip, and add a weight or tie to the lid to stop scavengers from making a mess.

2. Around the house, make sure water hoses are completely off and try to remove all stagnant water.

3. Trimming trees and bushes back can stop critters from climbing rooftops and making nests.

4. Check the basic structural integrity of your home. Make sure you have reinforced screens, covered vents and secured soffits to keep foragers from moving in with you.

Source: Terminix

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7 Ways to Reduce Household Pollution

October 16, 2015 2:34 am

When it comes to pollution prevention, no gesture is too small. In fact, there are several actions households can take that have far-reaching benefits for the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

• Maintain heaters, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other energy-using equipment, to reduce the amount of energy consumed.

• Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

• When you purchase electronics and appliances look for the ENERGY STAR® label and buy the most energy-efficient items possible to meet your needs.

• Save water and protect the environment by choosing WaterSense-labeled products in your home, yard, and business and taking simple steps to save water each day.

• Use re-useable lunch container bags, rather than paper or plastic.

• Practice safe take-out – say “no” to extra napkins, plastic-ware and condiments.

• Use only recycled paper and other recycled products.

Source: EPA.gov

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To Spray or Not to Spray? Plant Pesticides Explained

October 15, 2015 2:25 am

When it comes to landscape care, fall and early winter are prime time for professionals to use pesticides – a broad term that includes products that eradicate insect pests and herbicides that kill weeds. As a homeowner, it’s important to evaluate if the use of these pesticides is practical.

“Many people might not have to use pesticides at all,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “For example, an infestation last year may only require all the old plant material be cut out. Often, cultural practices (pruning, raking leaves, etc.) will go a long way toward solving pest problems.”

If you decide to use pesticides to care for the trees and other plantings on your property, Andersen recommends purchasing the least toxic application. Most chemicals available to homeowners have the words “caution,” “warning,” or “danger” on their labels – try to avoid those with “warning” and “danger” labels, as they are more hazardous. Don’t be tempted to use agricultural chemicals, which are not designed for use by homeowners.

Keep in mind that if used improperly, herbicides can kill valuable mature trees and shrubs, along with sprouting weeds.

“Herbicides should not be applied on or near desirable trees, or on areas where their roots may extend or in locations where the herbicide may be washed or move into contact with their roots,” Andersen explains. “Even properly applied chemical applications may be affected by rainfall. Some herbicides can be washed off paved surfaces or soak into the ground through the cracked joints – the very place with the greatest concentration of fine tree roots.”

Remember to never use the same equipment to spray herbicides and other pesticides, and avoid mixing herbicides with other kinds of pesticides. Don’t mix or store pesticides in food containers, and don’t measure pesticides with measuring cups or spoons. Always store pesticides in the original container, and keep the label intact.

Most importantly, consult with a professional who can diagnose the pest problem ahead of time – he or she can recommend the best solutions that will save you time and money.

Source: TCIA

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Home Equity Loan, HELOC Delinquencies Decline

October 15, 2015 2:25 am

In more encouraging news for housing and the overall economy, loan delinquencies fell in two of three home-related categories in the recently released American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. The categories on the decline are home equity loan delinquencies, which fell to 2.90 percent, and home equity line of credit delinquencies, which fell to 1.42 percent.

“There is a strong correlation between rising home prices and falling home-related delinquency rates,” says James Chessen, chief economist of the American Bankers Association. “As the housing market continues to gain strength, we expect home equity loan delinquencies to continue their downward trend.”

Property improvement delinquencies edged up slightly to 0.91 percent. The American Bankers Association (ABA) defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

“The steady forward march of the economy has continued to strengthen consumers’ financial positions,” says Chessen. “Consumers continue to impress with their ability to manage debt prudently and keep spending under control. The drop in gas prices last year has provided a big boost to disposable income and has freed up money that makes debt obligations a bit easier to handle.”

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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