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RE/MAX 440
Stuart Dubbs
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 484-239-0950
Fax: 267-354-6247 
sdubbs@remaxcentralinc.com
Stuart Dubbs

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Real Estate with Perspective

School's In Session: Is Your Backpack Safe?

August 27, 2015 12:24 am

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), backpacks can be a source of injury if not worn correctly. “The effects of carrying an overloaded backpack should not be taken lightly,” says AAOS spokesperson Afshin Razi, MD. “Injuries to the muscles and joints can lead to sevee back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems that can take weeks or months to heal.”

With the start of a new school year upon us, the AAOS recommends lightening the load with these tips:

• Use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed and adjust the shoulder straps to keep the load close to the back. Depending on the student’s commute and accessibility of school, roller or crossbody bags can be good alternatives.

• Remove or organize items if too heavy and pack the heavier things low and towards the center. When lifting backpacks, bend at the knees.

• Carry only those items that are required for the day. If possible, leave books at home or school.

• At home and at school, keep walkways clear of backpacks to avoid tripping over them.

• Don’t ignore numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, which may indicate poor fit or too much weight being carried.

• Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of the student.

• If you’re a parent, purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of the student. Observe your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle.

• Encourage your child to stop at their locker throughout the day, as time permits, to drop off heavier books.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Insurance Lessons 10 Years after Katrina

August 27, 2015 12:24 am

Ten years after the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina is being remembered for its devastating toll on residents in six coastal states. Insured losses totaled over $41 billion and underscored the importance of recognizing the risk of and planning for natural disasters, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The following four key lessons from Hurricane Katrina can help homeowners build a preparedness mindset that will stand as a defense against severe weather threats.

1. Consider Purchasing a Flood Insurance Policy

A key lesson learned from Katrina was that neither a home nor a renters insurance policy covers flood damage. Yet, according to a recent I.I.I. poll, only 13 percent of American homeowners have a flood insurance policy.

Since 1968, flood coverage has been available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is also sold by some private insurers. Talk to your insurance professional to make sure you have enough insurance to replace your personal possessions and rebuild your home.

The maximum amount of NFIP coverage available to homeowners is $250,000 for the home and $100,000 for the home’s contents. For higher coverage levels, ask about excess flood insurance from private insurance companies.

2. Keep an Up-to-Date Home Inventory

An inventory of personal possessions makes it simpler to purchase the right amount of coverage, as well as making the claims filing process easier and more accurate. It can also be helpful when filing for financial assistance after a disaster.

3. Have an Evacuation Plan

In the event of a disaster, there may be only hours to evacuate. In order for an evacuation to go smoothly when a storm is imminent, it is important to plan and practice in advance. Have emergency supplies, including medicines, extra clothing, comfort items and important papers gathered and ready to go. Knowing where to evacuate to and the planned route is equally important. And be sure to take into account any special accommodations that need to be made for elderly relatives, a family member with special needs or pets.

4. Take Steps to Protect Property

Strengthening the roof, windows, doors and protecting all openings are important steps in safeguarding both the structure of a house and its occupants.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are You a "Metro Mover"?

August 27, 2015 12:24 am

According to Census data, nearly 20 percent of all movers in the United States and Puerto Rico, or about 8.5 million people, have moved to a different metropolitan area in the last year. These “metro movers” are relocating from metro area to metro area, with the majority moving between metros within the United States. A fraction of movers–approximately 25,000–moved from a metro area in the United States to a metro area in Puerto Rico.

Movers relocating between the metro areas of Los Angeles and Riverside, Calif. and the metro areas of New York and Philadelphia were among the largest migration flows.

“Nine of the top 10 metro migration flows were moves to nearby metro areas, with the largest flow of about 90,000 moving from the Los Angeles metro to the Riverside metro area,” says Kin Koerber, a demographer with the Census Bureau’s Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch. “Movers who left the New York City metro area for the Miami metro area were the exception, with about 22,000 people making this move.”

According to the data, just over five percent of the U.S. population, or 16.7 million people, now live in a different county within the U.S. than one year earlier.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Future Retirees to Retain Lifestyle with Social Security

August 26, 2015 12:18 am

Regardless of generation or ideology, Americans are putting stock in Social Security. According to a recent AARP survey, 80 percent of respondents plan to rely on Social Security, either substantially or somewhat, in retirement, and approximately one-third (33 percent) of respondents plan to rely on Social Security almost exclusively during their retirement.

Why the dependence? Over 80 percent of survey respondents consider it extremely important to have the ability to live independently in their home for as long as they want, and 80 percent want to ensure self-sufficiency so their children or other relatives won’t have to support them financially.

Challenges when preparing for retirement are also a contributor factor, with nearly 70 percent of survey respondents citing current financial obligations as an obstacle to saving. Almost half of respondents say they don’t have enough money left over after paying bills to save, and about 40 percent say they faced a major health issue in their family that has hindered saving.

Social Security has consistently found favor with the majority of Americans over the last 20 years. According to the survey, 66 percent of respondents, many of which are adults under age 30, say Social Security is one of the most important government programs.

Source: AARP

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Home Maintenance Projects to Do This Fall

August 26, 2015 12:18 am

As summer comes to a close, this time of year is ideal for homeowners to establish a fall home maintenance checklist. While warm weather still permits, be sure to pencil in these tasks, recommended by the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA), before cooler temperatures set in.

1. Turn off exterior faucets. Un-drained water in pipes can freeze easily, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

2. Remove leaves around your outside unit. The HVAC unit is likely your home’s largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a wet dry vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first to be safe.

3. Clean your gutters. Leaves clogging your gutters can cause big problems any time of the year. During cooler months, leaves can potentially cause water to backup into your attic, and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time, so you may need to check the gutters in both the fall and early winter.

4. Schedule a furnace tune-up. A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems. If you don’t have one already, install a quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and the main area of your home. Be mindful these detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. Batteries in all detectors, including smoke and fire, need to be replaced annually.

Source: NHSCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Must-Do's when Moving

August 26, 2015 12:18 am

(BPT) - Whether you’re mid-move or planning to in the future, relocating to a new home is not without challenges. To minimize moving stress and settle in quickly, check out these expert tips from appliance manufacturer LG.

1. Measure It Twice

Before you start packing, it's important, if possible, to visit your new home with a tape measure. Carefully measure and take note of the square footage and dimensions of every room in your new home. Do the same with any existing appliances and furniture you plan on relocating to your new home to ensure that everything fits through the door and in the space.

If you're purchasing new large appliances or furniture, be sure to measure everything in the store or take note of each item's dimensions online to make sure it fits. Removing or replacing a refrigerator, for example, is a time-consuming and expensive task that can be avoided with careful planning. If you aren't able to visit before moving in, ask your real estate agent for a copy of the floor plan.

2. Pack Strategically

Pack and label items by category, such as dishes, winter clothes and books, or by appropriate area, such as bedroom, kitchen and living room. To limit damage, be sure to pack fragile and valuable items carefully with padded packaging, and communicate fragile items clearly with your movers. To save even more hassle, pack a couple of boxes of essential items, specifically for the first night in your new home, which would otherwise be hard to find. You'll thank yourself when items such as cleaning supplies, fresh linens and a coffee pot are right at your fingertips.

3. Share Your New Address

Update your employer, bank, school, doctors, pharmacist and credit card company with your new address as early as possible. This can affect billing statements and formal records, which are a headache to change at a later date. Be sure to call your electric, cable and Internet companies to swap your address, and inquire about any potential changes in your service. Sign up for USPS mail forwarding to ensure all of your mail reaches you in a timely manner.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Expert Tips for a Healthy School Year

August 25, 2015 2:18 am

Beyond an annual physical, back-to-school is an ideal time for students and parents to take stock of their health. “The school year should be an enjoyable experience, and staying healthy–both physically and mentally–is one way to help get the most out of every day of class and extracurricular activities,” says Pennsylvania Medical Society President. Karen Rizzo, MD.

For students with food allergies, the cafeteria can be a minefield to navigate. It is important for students and parents to remain vigilant.

“Unfortunately, there’s no cure for food allergies,” explains Joel Fiedler, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Allergy and Asthma Association, “and sometimes the only line of defense for a person experiencing anaphylaxis is an EpiPen. Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening and can happen with seconds after being exposed to an allergen.

“Children in school settings can be vulnerable, particularly since they may not pay attention to what they are eating or touching during their lunch period and in some cases may not even know they have a food allergy,” Dr. Fiedler says.

Backpacks are also cause for concern, especially if they are too heavy for the size of the child. Says Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society President Thomas Muzzonigro, MD, “As a general guideline, don’t allow your child to carry a backpack that’s more than 15 percent of their own body weight. Lugging around a ton of books and other supplies all day can eventually be problematic.”

When a heavy backpack is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight's force can alter the child's posture. Many children will compensate by bending forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. It's a recipe for shoulder, neck, and back pain.

School buses present inherent dangers, as well–all it takes is one distracted or impatient driver to pose serious risks to students. Todd Fijewski, president of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians, encourages students to not dart in, out or around any bus, and to avoid texting and walking when getting on or off a bus.

Issues can also arise when a child feels apprehensive about the first day of school or a significant event during the year. Students should remain proactive–with the help of parents, if necessary–to effectively manage stress, advises Robert E. Wilson, MD, PhD, president of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society. Dr. Wilson recommends students regularly give themselves positive feedback, reward themselves with leisure activities, exercise, eat a balanced diet, and develop time management skills.

Source: Pennsylvania Medical Society

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Default Rates Stabilize

August 25, 2015 2:18 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 2:18 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 12:18 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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