RE/MAX 440
Margie Kollar

Margie Kollar
1110 North Broad Street  Lansdale  PA 19446
Phone:  215-822-8171
Office:  215-362-2260
Cell:  215-620-5500
Fax:  267 354-6859

My Blog

Mortgage Default Rates Stabilize

August 25, 2015 1:12 am

The S&P Dow Jones Indices recently pointed to a stable consumer credit default rate, showing activity indicative of an improving economy. The Indices are a comprehensive measure of changes in consumer credit defaults.

The first mortgage default rate remained unchanged at 0.80 percent. The second mortgage default rate also remained unchanged at 0.55 percent. The auto loan default rate increased to 0.86 percent, and the bank card default rate decreased to 2.79 percent.

“The stable consumer credit default rates confirm the recent economic improvements seen in the unemployment rate and GDP growth,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Recent increases in outstanding consumer credit combined with stable default rates and strong consumer sentiment point to stable individual financial conditions. However, wage increases are running at about 2 percent annually–or under 1 percent after inflation–which means that there is little margin for error should the economy stumble. At the same time, concerns over the impact of an expected Federal Reserve rate increase are exaggerated. Interest rates on consumer loans are unlikely to be affected and no immediate economic fallout is anticipated.”

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Your Home Protected against the Most Common Natural Disaster?

August 25, 2015 1:12 am

Flooding is the most frequent natural disaster in the United States. According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), just three inches of floodwater in a home will require replacing drywall, baseboards, carpet, furniture and other necessary repairs, costing $22,500 in a 2,000-square-foot house. The deeper the floodwater, the higher the repairs – 12 inches of water in a 2,000-square-foot house can cost $50,000 or more!

Having flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can save homeowners and renters thousands of dollars in repairs from flood damage. Homes located outside flood-prone areas need flood insurance, too. Nationally, 25 percent of the total structures that flood each year belong to policyholders whose properties are not in high-risk areas.

Flood insurance is available to homeowners and renters in communities that participate in the NFIP and enforce their local flood plain management ordinances. To determine if a community participates in NFIP, visit www.floodsmart.gov. Homeowners in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) must buy flood insurance if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. When obtaining flood insurance, keep in mind there is normally a 30-day waiting period when purchasing a new policy.

Homeowners can insure their homes for up to $250,000 and contents for up to $100,000. Renters can cover their belongings in amounts up to $100,000. Flood insurance premiums average about $700 a year for homeowners.

Source: FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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9 Internet Safety Tips for Travelers

August 24, 2015 1:09 am

Nearly half of Americans reserve travel accommodations on mobile devices as tech-ed out travel grows in popularity, but travelers aren’t any less vulnerable to a number of digital dangers, says the National Cyber Security Alliance. Before you leave home and while you’re on the go, protect yourself from cyber crimes with these tips from the Alliance.

• Keep a Clean Machine - Before you hit the road, make sure all security and critical software is up-to-date on your Internet-connected devices and keep them updated during travel. It is your best line of defense.

• Plan Two Steps Ahead - Turn on two-step authentication (also known as multi-factor authentication) for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social and financial accounts.

• Password-Protect All Devices
- Use a passcode or security feature (like a finger swipe) to lock your phone or mobile device.

• Think before You App - Review the privacy policy and understand what data (such as location and entry to your social networks) the app can access on your device before you download. Delete apps you are no longer using.

• Own Your Online Presence - Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices. It is okay to limit how and with whom you share information – especially when you are away.

• Manage Location Services - Location tools come in handy while planning your trip or navigating a new place, but they can also expose your location ‒ even through photos. Turn off location services when not in use.

• Be Wary of WiFi Hot Spots
- Do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsecure networks. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a personal hotspot to surf more securely.

• Turn Off WiFi and Bluetooth When Idle - When WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they connect and track your whereabouts. If you do not need them, switch them off.

• Protect Your Finances - Be sure to shop or bank only on secure sites. Web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://" means the site takes extra security measures. However, an "http://" address is not secure.

Source: National Cyber Security Alliance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Deck Maintenance and Safety Tips

August 24, 2015 1:09 am

A well-maintained deck can provide years of outdoor enjoyment for family and friends–not to mention, a major selling point for buyers. To keep your deck looking its best, the experts at HomeAdvisor.com recommend following these seven tips.

1. Inspect for Rot – The devastating effects of wood rot and decay can be mitigated with regular inspection. Examine the deck’s ledger board, support posts, joists, boards, railings and stairs for signs of trouble, including soft spots and splitting, peeling pieces.

2. Fasten Weight-Bearing Board – To ensure your deck remains structurally sound, remove any nails attaching the deck to the home and replace with half-inch stainless or galvanized steel lag screws and bolts. If you notice a gap between the house and the deck, tighten the bolts.

3. Clean Flashing – Clear out any mud or debris caking the flashing, which helps to prevent board rot. Assess the flashing for compromised caulk or other signs of breakage. If the flashing is dated, consider hiring a professional deck contractor to replace it.

4. Secure Railings – Most municipal codes require deck railings to be at least three inches high and four inches apart, but check with your local authority to see what mandates exist in your area. Periodically, pull on the railings and banisters to ensure stability.

5. Evaluate Stairs – Take a look at stair risers and stringers (which hold the steps up from the side) to ensure they are securely attached. Generally, stair treads must be no more than four inches high–contact your local government office to be sure.

6. Tighten Fasteners – Fasteners are what hold deck boards together, such as nails, screws and anchors. Be sure to tighten loose fasteners and replace any that have rusted or corroded–leaving them in can speed up deterioration of the wood, and make your deck sag or sway.

7. Reapply Finish – If your deck’s finish has seen better days, consider reapplying with a waterproof finish that protects from mold, mildew and pests. To extend the finish, keep your deck free of leaves and dirt.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Factors Impact Car Insurance Costs?

August 21, 2015 1:00 am

Auto insurance providers examine a number of factors when determining risk and rate for each driver. According to a recent InsuranceQuotes.com report, age and marital status have a significant impact on car insurance costs – costs decrease every year until age 60, for example, except in states where insurance companies are not permitted to factor age into rate calculations.

Per the report, the sharpest drop in costs is from age 20 to 25 – a whopping 41 percent decrease. From age 25 to 60, rates drop another 18 percent. Senior citizens do not experience large penalties as they age; 75-year-old drivers may pay just up to 17 percent more than 60-year-olds, the report found.

Getting married young can save a great deal on car insurance, as well, except in states where insurance companies are not permitted to factor marital status into rate calculations. According to the report, a married 20-year-old pays 21 percent less than a single 20-year-old for the same policy. At age 25, the average marriage savings falls to 7 percent.

Source: InsuranceQuotes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Food Gardens: America's New Favorite Pastime

August 21, 2015 1:00 am

Cities and towns across the country have seen significant growth in the popularity of food gardening. In fact, according to a report by the National Gardening Association, 42 million households are growing food at home or in a community garden, the highest level in over a decade.

Who’s driving this aspiring farm-to-fork trend? Millennials. At 13 million strong, those aged 18 to 24 are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners, recently spending an overwhelming $1.2 billion on food gardening activities.

Households with children are also contributing to its rise in popularity, totaling 15 million. Additionally, the number of people living in urban areas that participate in food gardening has steadily increased to 9 million.

According to the National Garden Association’s report, the socioeconomic factors spurring the food garden movement include action by federal agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to increase awareness and education efforts, and more engagement and public-private partnerships to promote and build food gardens.

So, what are we growing? Per the report, over three-quarters of all households with a food garden grow vegetables.

Source: National Gardening Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Prevent Mold at Home

August 21, 2015 1:00 am

(Family Features) Mold in your home is a serious matter that can cause not only substantial property damage, but also significant harm to your health. Mold can vary, but often, it has a white to greenish or black spotty appearance. You may also notice a damp, musty odor in areas where mold is growing.

If you cannot see or smell any signs of mold, you can do some additional investigating with a DIY testing kit. A test kit will detect mold spores accumulating in household dust, including the types most associated with water damage and health issues.

Depending on the degree and type of mold you discover, you may be able to clean it up and eradicate the problem yourself. If the growth is extensive, you will require the assistance of trained professionals to locate, remove and prevent further spread of the mold contamination. Once the mold has been safely removed, you can take some steps to prevent chances of a reoccurrence, such as:

• Making sure the filter you are using is correctly rated for your HVAC system. A filter that is too restrictive for your air blower may overstress and burn out the motor

• Monitoring humidity with a meter. A humidity level more than 65 percent invites mold growth. An inexpensive electronic humidity meter can monitor your rooms and identify areas that need better ventilation or dehumidification

• Having a professional check for high humidity in an attic or crawl space

• Venting appliances properly and installing exhaust fans in rooms that see high levels of moisture, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens

• Identifying any sources of moisture or leaks throughout the home, including faucets and around windows and doors, and take steps to correct them

Source: Healthful Home

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Tips for Safe Browsing

August 20, 2015 12:57 am

For all the Internet’s advantages, users remain vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams and must take precautions online, say the experts at the American Bankers Association (ABA). To stay safe and secure while browsing, the ABA recommends users:

Secure your Internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.

Keep computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, Web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

Keep personal information personal.
Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, your mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.

Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.

Source: ABA.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Leave Tree Work to the Professionals

August 20, 2015 12:57 am

For the DIY homeowner, outsourcing tree work may seem like an unnecessary expense. In reality, the costs of tackling tree care on your own can run high. “Most homeowners simply don’t have the tools, knowledge or experience necessary to safely attempt their own tree work,” says Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Staff Arborist Tchukki Andersen.

Safe tree work requires extensive knowledge of tree physics and biology, which can take years of experience and study to acquire. For example, felling a tree in a controlled manner is not as simple as cutting through the trunk with a chain saw. It requires establishing a drop zone, making precise cuts, and sometimes guiding the tree safely to the ground with ropes as leverage.

Up-ended root plates or root balls are also unpredictable. Severing the trunk of a fallen tree from an up-ended root plate releases tension, which may be strong enough to pull the stump and root ball back into the hole, trapping anything nearby underneath it.

Other hazards may be invisible to the untrained eye. Rotten trunks and limbs, pest and fungal infestation and other defects can only be identified and treated by an experience tree care practitioner.

In addition, many trees grow near power lines and have their branches, leaves and limbs entangled in live wires. Navigating this danger is challenging even for professionals, and should never be attempted by homeowners under any circumstance.

Homeowners may also be unaware of proper tool usage, especially when using chain saws and ladders. Common mistakes are to use a dull saw, which forces the operator to use excess pressure and potentially lose control of the tool, and to saw branches on the ground, which can result in kickback. Ladders that are too short, on unstable ground or supported by a faulty limb can easily result in injury.

Tree work may also require tools the average homeowner does not own, such as stump grinders, wood chippers and aerial lifts.

The best option for homeowners seeking tree work or removal on their property is to consult with a professional arborist.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Delinquencies Fall as Credit Improves

August 20, 2015 12:57 am

Fueled by an improving credit landscape, the mortgage delinquency rate has rapidly declined, recently falling to 2.72 percent, according to TransUnion’s Industry Insights report. The rate is characterized as the rate at which borrowers are 60 days or more delinquent on their mortgages.

“This is the lowest mortgage delinquency level we’ve seen in several years–down from a peak of nearly 7 percent in early 2010,” explains Joe Mellman of TransUnion. “This is largely due to foreclosures and other seriously delinquent accounts continuing to work their way through the foreclosure process, as well as a reflection of the high credit quality of recent originations.”

Average mortgage balances per consumer continued to increase, up to $188,237, according to the report. The largest mortgage balance growth was observed in the Super Prime risk category, with balances rising 2.5 percent. The Prime risk group also increased by 0.5 percent; the Prime Plus remained approximately the same. Both the Subprime and Near Prime categories experienced mortgage balance declines of -2.9 percent and -1.0 percent, respectively.

Source: TransUnion

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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