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RE/MAX 440
Susan Langenstein
423 North Main Street
Doylestown  PA 18901
 Phone: 267-446-6201
Office Phone: 215-348-7100
Toll Free: 800-360-7100
Cell: 267-446-6201
Fax: 267-354-6816 
susanlangenstein@comcast.net
Susan Langenstein

My Blog

Four Travel Essentials for Holiday Road Trips

October 29, 2014 12:57 am

According to a recent RadioShack survey, 78 percent of Americans who plan to take a holiday trip will road trip to their destination. Almost three in five (58 percent) holiday travelers believe it's important to gear up with technology before their next holiday trip.

The great American road trip has been immortalized in pop culture through iconic scenes from movies like National Lampoon's Vacation, Little Miss Sunshine, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. While those movies are great for laughs, you might not want to live through some of the stressful moments during your real life road trip.

Before hitting the road, stock up on these travel essentials.

1. Emergency accessories.
The average distance for travelers from home to the destination of their next holiday trip is 760 miles. Traffic and winter weather will likely play a role in planning your journey, so outfit your vehicle with an emergency kit, tools for jumpstarting a dead car, and a portable crank radio.

2. Navigation tools. A third of holiday road travelers cite traffic as the most stressful aspect when thinking about their next trip. Invest in a GPS unit or extra data on your smartphone to arrive at your destination in a timely manner.

3. Entertainment. Three in 10 holiday road trips will include children under the age of 18, so expect fights over backseat boundaries if they get bored. Keep tablets and phones powered up with portable charging accessories and headphones.

4. Home security.
While traveling, feel confident that your home is secure and energy-efficient with home automation technology, like smartphone software and cameras.

Source: RadioShack

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Tips for Parents on Halloween Night

October 29, 2014 12:57 am

Halloween is a night filled with candy, costumes, a bit of fear and a lot of fun, but it can also be a dangerous night if you don't take the proper safety precautions. With ghosts, goblins, vampires and zombies roaming the streets, it's important that parents and children review safety protocols before trick-or-treating.

"Halloween is a magical evening where kids get to transform into anything they want to be," said Allstate's Executive Vice President of Product Operations Steve Sorenson. "But it's most important for them to be safe. By following a few basic safety tips, everyone can do their part to make the holiday a memorable occasion for all the right reasons."

Parents should take the following steps to ensure safety.
1. Review all appropriate pedestrian and traffic safety rules with children.
2. Make sure costumes, wigs and accessories are fire-resistant.
3. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to make sure they are visible if children are out after dusk.
4. Make certain that masks have large eye holes and nose and mouth openings. Parents should encourage children to remove their masks before crossing the street.
5. Provide well-fitting costumes and shoes to avoid trips and falls.
6. Make certain that swords and other accessories are made from cardboard or flexible materials. Children should not carry sharp objects.
7. Travel only in familiar, well-lit areas and avoid trick-or-treating alone.
8. Carry flashlights with fresh batteries to help children and motorists see more clearly.
9. Look both ways before crossing the street and use established crosswalks whenever possible.
10. Walk on sidewalks and not in the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
Source: The Allstate Corporation

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Build a Social Kitchen

October 29, 2014 12:57 am

Today’s kitchens are built for entertaining, digital networks and cooking, but creating one that meets all of these needs can be a challenge.

A recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports asked more than 1,000 Americans what activities they do in the kitchen at least once in a typical week and found that uses for the kitchen go beyond meal prep. Nearly half entertain regularly in the kitchen, 58 percent go online (think FaceTime and recipe downloads), and 61 percent use the space to do homework or other paperwork.

Design your very own social kitchen with these suggestions:
  • Open up the space – with care. Be judicious when eliminating barriers. Using half-walls or arched openings can create a sense of openness while maintaining traffic flow. Color can be a great connector between the kitchen and the larger living or dining room area.
  • Bring back the eat-in kitchen. Built-in banquettes are making a comeback. Casual dining is integral to the social kitchen, and it’s good for resale value. It’s also a place to do the bills or help with the homework and its base can provide additional storage.
  • Add an island. This central counter will give people a place to sit while the cook prepares the meal. Just don’t let it clog traffic – there should be 42 to 48 inches of clearance on all sides.
  • Build in charging stations. For many people, the kitchen is where their electronic devices live. Charging stations can be tucked into a cabinet or drawer that’s fitted with docks and electrical outlets.
Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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2014's Most Popular Halloween Costumes

October 28, 2014 1:33 am

Having taken the world by storm this year, Disney’s Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters will again come to life this Halloween. According to NRF’s 2014 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey, an estimated 2.6 million children plan to dress up as one of Disney’s Frozen characters, while about 1.8 million children will dress as one of the re-imagined classic characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Princess (3.4 million), animal (3 million), and Spider-Man (2.6 million) will be other popular choices for children.

The survey also found 75 million adults will dress in costume, and most will stick to traditional options, including a witch (4.8 million), animal (2.6 million), Batman character (2 million), and pirate (1.8 million).

“It’s clear people love to get creative with costumes, looking for inspiration from pop culture and politics to history, and even the make-believe and fantasy world,” said Pam Goodfellow, Prosper Insights (survey conductor) Principal Analyst. “We’re surprised each year with the range of different costumes, and I’m sure this Halloween will be no exception, especially given the historic number of people planning to buy costumes for themselves, their children and even their pets.”

Findings revealed that among the 14.3 percent of celebrants planning to outfit their pets, 10.8 percent will dress their furry friends as a pumpkin. Fido and Fluffy will also be found disguised as hot dogs, devils, bumblebees and cats.

Source: NRF

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Halloween Candy Safety Measures All Parents Should Take

October 28, 2014 1:33 am

Halloween is a fun and exciting time for kids, but hazards exist when sorting through candy after a night of trick-or-treating. Parents must take precautions to determine whether a piece of candy is safe to consume, including:
  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until you have looked them over.
  • If candy treats are not commercially wrapped, or are found in torn, damaged or loose packages, throw them out.
  • Wash your hands before opening and eating candy treats.
  • Remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys from the loot bags of young children. Do not let children under three years of age play with any toys containing small parts.
  • Wash fresh fruit thoroughly and cut it open before eating it. Inspect for holes, including small punctures and cuts, and if any, do not eat the fruit. When in doubt – throw it out.
  • Consider giving out treats that do not contain ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg. These ingredients can cause severe reactions in individuals who have allergies or sensitivities.
  • Parents or caregivers of children with food allergies should read labels carefully and avoid candies that do not have an ingredient list, or that have a "may contain" statement for ingredients to which the child is allergic.
  • If your child has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector because of a food allergy, make sure they have it available whenever they are eating.
Source: Health Canada

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Baby Boomers Can Expect when Entering the Real Estate Market

October 28, 2014 1:33 am

The real estate industry has changed dramatically over the years, and continues to evolve even today. For baby boomers who may not have bought or sold a home recently, entering the market can be especially overwhelming. Whether you’re planning on upsizing or downsizing, here are three things you should know about the industry.

1. Research begins online. Some baby boomers have been out of the real estate game for many years. It’s important to search the Internet before setting up an appointment with an agent. This will help you gauge your local market, learn forecasts for sales in your area, and read reviews and feedback.

2. Local expertise matters.
An experienced agent with local market knowledge is still your best bet when it comes to getting your home sold. They can help you evaluate comparably priced homes in your neighborhood and guide you through the negotiation process.

3. Paperless transactions are here to stay.
Thanks to technology, a buyer or seller doesn’t need to be present to sign a contract, and agents don’t need to wait for faxes to come through. Embrace mobile applications to make the process quick and efficient.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Decline Further

October 27, 2014 12:12 am

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates hitting fresh lows for the year for the second consecutive week amid declining bond yields. At 3.92 percent the average 30-year fixed rate is at its lowest level since the week of June 6, 2013.

"Fixed mortgage rates continued to fall last week after the yield on 10 year Treasuries dropped to their lowest point of the year,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Existing home sales beat expectations in September clocking in at an annual rate of 5.17 million units, up 2.4 percent from August. Housing starts were up 6.3 percent in September adding a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million units. Building permits rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.018 million units in September.”

The survey shows:
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.92 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending October 23, 2014, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.97 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.08 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.18 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.91 percent last week with an average 0.5 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.00 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.41 percent last week with an average 0.4 point, up from the previous week when it averaged 2.38 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.60 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

October 27, 2014 12:12 am

A recent Federal Trade Commission study showed that approximately 26 percent of consumers have credit report mistakes that could lead to higher loan and insurance payments. More than a quarter of participants in the study found at least one error on their credit reports, and five percent had errors serious enough to affect loan terms.

“Credit reports play a crucial role in determining consumers’ financial discipline and responsibility,” said Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Chairman of Debt.com. “Detecting credit report errors allows consumers to correct inaccurate information that could potentially lead to denied loans and high interest rates.”

Dvorkin advises that consumers review their credit report and take steps to correct any issues. He recommends:

Correcting errors on credit report - Consumers should check their credit score at least three months before making a purchase. If they identify mistakes, consumers should write a letter to the credit bureau and organization responsible for reporting the inaccurate information. In the letter they should explain why the information is incorrect and what should be changed on the credit report.

Asking for a credit-line increase - The credit utilization ratio is one of the major factors that contribute to the overall credit score. Using too much of the available credit can have a negative impact on a credit score. While it’s possible to fix this issue by paying down debt, sometimes consumers may not be able to afford it. To avoid having a low score, consumers should call their card provider and ask for a reduction of their interest rate. This could help consumers to pay off their balance quicker.

Consolidating your debt – Another quick way for consumers to improve their credit score is to consider consolidating their credit card debt. This can make it easier to pay down debt and also increase the average age of revolving credit lines, which can help the credit utilization ratio.

Consumers shouldn’t add an installment loan to their credit portfolio “just because,” but if they are in need of a student or personal loan, they may be able to quickly improve their credit score. Creditors want to see that consumers can handle a wide array of debt, so having this type of loan can be beneficial. If consumers are in dire need of improving their score, taking out a small personal loan that they can pay back over time could help.

Using an old card – If consumers have a card that they haven’t used in a while, they can start making purchases with it again. Not using a card for an extended period of time could lead to credit card providers no longer reporting it to the three major bureaus. By simply using an old card, consumers can increase their credit utilization ratio and extend their history.

Source: Debt.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Six Steps to an Organized Life

October 27, 2014 12:12 am

With harried schedules, many homeowners fall short on keeping their homes organized. Clutter can create a sense of chaos, preventing families from enjoying time together at home.

Help your family remain stress-free by adopting these organizational habits in and around your home.
  • Before leaving a room, take 30-60 seconds to pick up items that are out of place. This little bit of time will make a huge difference.
  • Arrange objects creatively. Maximize space even if it means hanging hooks on cabinet drawers to hang pot holders or utensils.
  • Labels can be your best friend. Be innovative and use them outside of the office. They are perfect for locating items in the pantry, closet, laundry room and more.
  • Put a weekly pantry and refrigerator cleanout on your to-do list. This gives you time to throw out the old items and empty containers to make clutter-free room for new groceries.
  • Be socially responsible and recycle. Keep a few bins around to recycle your cans, plastic and paper. This is such an easy way to teach children responsibility while keeping the earth clean.
  • Put storage accessories to use. These can range from those that are built into cabinets or even a few strategically placed bins to keep everything together. This is especially great for drawers, making them easier to clean out.
Source: Welborn Cabinet, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seven Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft

October 24, 2014 1:29 am

Identity theft is a fast-growing problem, with multiple, large companies being victimized by major data breaches in the past year – and the pace is accelerating. More than 200 million data records were stolen in just the first quarter of 2014, according to research by SafeNet. One in three people who are victims of data breaches will quickly become victims of fraud, found Javelin Strategy and Research.

"Data breaches continue to be a pervasive problem in the digital age, and we expect that trend to continue," said Scott Mitic, Senior Vice President at Equifax. "Our tendency to share personal information online leaves that information vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves."

Whether viewing this information via computer, tablet or smartphone, your use of modern-day technologies increases your risk for identity theft. Equifax advises consumers to protect themselves by following these tips.
  • Make sure your security software is updated on both your computer and smartphone. Free solutions are available from reputable sources.
  • Keep your phone locked with an access code. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
  • Download the latest software updates for your device to fix security holes.
  • Be on the lookout for email scams.
  • Keep your social media accounts private and don't share common identifying information like your mother's maiden name or your birth date.
  • Use unique and complex passwords.
  • After a data breach, change your passwords, place a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies, close affected accounts and monitor your credit report.
"As we go about our daily lives, it can be easy to forget how the technology we use every day can makes us the target of identity thieves," said Mitic. "But by arming yourself with knowledge and the right techniques, you can help protect your personal information."

Source: Equifax Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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