RE/MAX 440
Howard C Schaeffer
howardschaeffer@remax.net
Howard C Schaeffer
4789 Route 309
Center Valley  PA 18034
PH: 610-791-4400
O: 610-791-4400
C: 610-554-7759
F: 267-354-6233 
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News Corp Announces New Leadership at Move, Inc.

December 17, 2014 10:27 pm

News Corp announced Wednesday that Ryan O’Hara will become Chief Executive Officer of Move, effective January 5, 2015. O’Hara will replace CEO Steven Berkowitz, who has led the company since January 2009. News Corp acquired Move, a leading provider of online real estate services, including realtor.com®, last month. “We are excited to have secured Ryan […]
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Start Me Up! A Profile of RentalRoost

December 8, 2014 10:21 pm

A few years ago, I wrote a post on Econsultancy detailing my escalating frustration with property websites and agents when looking for a place to live. So I was particularly pleased to hear about RentalRoost, a U.S. company aiming to disrupt the property market and place more power in the hands of the buyer. We […]
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Stock of Residential AD&C Loans Up 17 Percent over Last Four Quarters

December 2, 2014 4:29 pm

One factor holding back a stronger rebound in home construction has been the tight availability of acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans. However, the stock of residential AD&C loans outstanding has been on the rise, posting a 17 percent gain since the third quarter of 2013. According to data from the FDIC and NAHB analysis, the […]
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Three Tips for Picky Eaters

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

(Family Features) When it comes to promoting a healthy diet, it can be difficult to convince children to eat their fruits and vegetables. The last thing you want to do is spend quality family time persuading picky eaters to complete a nutritious meal. Get kids excited about adding vegetables to their favorite dinner meals with these tips.

1. Spark interest by getting kids involved. It's easy to get kids more engaged in mealtime by including them while you're preparing and cooking family meals. Teach kids how to measure out herbs and spices, or have them pick out their favorite vegetable to serve with dinner.

2. Embrace variety to keep dinnertime boredom from creeping in. Just like adults, kids can become bored with the same old rotation of veggies every week. Don’t be afraid to branch out from the basics; many grocery stores now carry produce once deemed too ‘exotic’ for their shelves, and most children won’t know the difference.

3. Introduce new foods slowly, pairing them on the table with familiar foods. It can be difficult to get little ones to try new foods -- especially fruits and veggies, so introduce foods slowly. Add in new flavors and tastes alongside their favorite dishes. Try serving your family's favorite dips, salsa or hummus with veggies to get them more willing to expand their taste preferences.

Starting at a young age will help kids establish healthy, well-rounded eating habits to last a lifetime. There's no better time than dinnertime to start modeling smart behaviors for them to follow.

Source: Birds Eye

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Students and First-timers Need to Know about Renting

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

I recently heard a nightmare rental horror story from a friend whose son recently moved to Boston for college, and was forced to find his own place in a short period of time when on-campus options dried up.

So I went looking for advice for student and first-time renters and developed some great source material offered through the California College of the Arts (cca.edu), which posts the most common mistakes that haunt most first-time renters. Among those mistakes are:

Underestimating monthly expenses - When renting an apartment for the first time, it’s easy to forget to include rent in your monthly budget. (General rule of thumb is to allot one third of your monthly budget to rent.)

Depending on where you rent, gas and electricity, cable television, Internet access, and a phone line are standard items to include in your budget. Also consider the cost to commute to the college via public transportation - if you drive factor bridge tolls, gas, and parking, and remember to include food, entertainment, and school supply expenses, too.

Renting in a less-than-desirable neighborhood - The quality or appearance of your apartment is far less important than feeling safe. Good rent often means having undesirable compensatory factors when apartment hunting.

Bypassing the new roommate interview(s) - A best friend is not always a best roommate. Think about your lifestyle and what you want and need in your living space. Before you commit to live with a potential roommate, identify your needs.

Many friendships have ended because of different expectations within the apartment regarding cleanliness, noise from guests, and judgments about acceptable drug/alcohol use.

Agreeing on what you want and need in your living space is not the only factor to take into consideration when thinking about moving in with a friend; you must also consider if the friend is reliable enough to keep up paying rent and bills on time.

Our next report will provide even more advice to help avoid the most common issues that affect student or first-time renters.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Holiday Shipping 101

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

(Family Features) If one of your holiday tasks is shipping gifts to family and friends across the nation, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure your packages get to them in time for the festivities.

From shipping deadlines to packaging, there are many factors to consider when sending gifts, especially during a busy time like the holiday season. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help make shipping holiday gifts more convenient than ever. John Budzynski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Postal Service, offers these suggestions to help make your holiday shipping simple and stress-free.
  • Take advantage of services that make shipping more convenient. The U.S. Postal Service lets you order free Priority Mail shipping supplies from usps.com and delivers them right to your door.
  • Be informed about policies for handling fragile gifts or items that may be hazardous, such as perfume, cologne and other liquids.
  • Always include a return address. It tells the shipper where to return the package if it can't be delivered.
  • Pack smart. Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape.
  • Buy postage online and print at home. It not only saves time, but money too; in most cases, you can receive up to an 11 percent discount.
  • Don't get caught in the holiday rush. Schedule a free package pickup from your home or office.
  • Check key shipping dates to ensure your package arrives in time for the holiday. The U.S. Postal Service recommends these deadlines for delivery by Dec. 25:
Dec. 2 - International First-Class Mail
Dec. 2 - Priority Mail International
Dec. 10 - Priority Mail Express International
Dec. 15 - Standard Post
Dec. 17 - Global Express Guaranteed
Dec. 20 - First-Class Mail
Dec. 20 - Priority Mail
Dec. 23 - Priority Mail Express
Source: U.S. Postal Service

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What to Buy in November

November 28, 2014 5:23 am

Whether or not you trust in the Black Friday hype, the financial mavens at Bankrate.com say November is almost always a good time to find bargains on certain other kinds of merchandise:

Cookware – In time to get you revved about holiday cooking, many retailers slash the price of pots, pans and cookware gadgets this month. (It’s also a good time for bargains on flour, sugar, butter, chocolate and other baking ingredients.)

Tools and hardware – Check the big box home and hardware stores for significant discounts this month on drills, hand tools, tool storage and more. The best deals will be on merchandise you can carry home yourself.

Off-brand TVs – While the best deals on premium TVs may not happen until the December/January timeframe, when retailers are making room for the newest models, experts say November is the time to look for deep discounts on off-brand models, especially in the 46-to-55 inch screen size.

Wedding gowns – According to the author of "Bridal Bargains," November and December are excellent months to shop for a wedding dress because there's a decrease in demand as women aren't interested in shopping for one during the typically busy holiday season. (Some stores will even haggle a bit during this slow sales time.)

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips

November 28, 2014 5:23 am

The Internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.

But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn't without risks. These tips from USA.gov can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.
  • Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.
  • It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.
  • Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.
  • Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can't be given away as gifts if they've been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to "gift an item" but it varies depending on the provider.
Source: USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Kitchen Fires Spike during Holidays: Keep Your Family Safe

November 27, 2014 5:34 am

(BPT)—During the holidays, more Americans spend time in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends. That additional kitchen time also means added risk of home fires. In fact, according to claims data from Liberty Mutual Insurance, three times more fires occur on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day than on any other days of the year, yet many Americans aren't practicing basic kitchen safety.

More than half of Americans plan to cook for family and friends during the holidays, with 42 percent of those cooking for groups of 11 or more, based on findings from a survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance. However, the majority of people admit to engaging in dangerous cooking behaviors which increase the likelihood of kitchen fires, including leaving cooking food unattended to watch television, talk or text on the phone, or do laundry. Even more concerning is that nearly one-third admit to disabling a smoke alarm while cooking.

These dangerous cooking behaviors not only risk the safety of your loved ones, but can result in significant economic repercussions. In 2011, cooking was involved in an estimated 156,300 home structure fires, and caused 470 deaths, 5,390 injuries and $1 billion in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

"The hectic nature of entertaining during the holidays makes it easy to overlook even the most basic cooking safety rules," says Tom Harned, fire safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and Chief Fire Officer in Gilbertsville, Pa.

Harned encourages all home chefs to follow these simple fire-safety tips:

1. Stay in the kitchen. Don't leave the kitchen when you are frying, broiling or grilling. If you leave the kitchen even for a brief time, be sure to turn off all the burners on the stovetop. Don't use the stovetop or oven if you are tired or have consumed alcohol or drugs.

2. Set a timer as a reminder that the range or stove is on. Ranges were involved in three of every five home cooking fires in 2011, with ovens accounting for 16 percent of home fires, according to the NFPA. Check your food frequently, and use a timer to remind yourself that the range, stove or oven is on. If you tend to do a lot of cooking, invest in a second or third timer. They're an inexpensive way to stay safe while ensuring that your holiday dishes do not overcook.

3. Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop. Pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and other flammable objects should be kept a safe distance from the stovetop.

4. Keep a lid or cookie sheet, baking soda and oven mitt nearby when you're cooking to use in case of a grease fire. Fire extinguisher use without training can cause a grease fire to spread and increase the chances of serious injury.

5. Ensure your smoke alarm is fully functional before the holiday cooking season begins. Install a photoelectric smoke alarm (or one having a hush button feature) that is at least 10 feet away from your kitchen and use the test button to check it each month. Replace the battery at least once per year and never disable a smoke alarm.

"If you're considering disabling a smoke alarm, think about this: almost two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms," says Harned. "In addition to following basic safety rules in the kitchen this holiday season, everyone should have a home fire escape plan with at least two ways out of every room. Practice at least twice a year to ensure the safety of everyone in your home all year long."

Source: Liberty Mutual

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

November 27, 2014 5:34 am

(Family Features)—Heather Loenser, DVM, knows first-hand the joys and challenges of traveling with her dog. She and her family recently adopted a year-old Border collie named Calvin.

"As a new dog in our house, Calvin is experiencing some separation anxiety, so we don't want to board him or leave him with a pet sitter," Dr. Loenser explained. "Even though he suffers from car sickness, when the family goes on vacation, Calvin comes with us."

Dr. Loenser is often called upon to help her clients prepare for vacations with their dogs. Her top five travel tips are:

1. Consider Car Safety

When it comes to car trips, practice safety first. In some states, it is illegal for dogs to ride unrestrained in a vehicle. The Center for Pet Safety tests vehicle restraints for dogs; their recommendations can be found at www.centerforpetsafety.org.

2. Be a Considerate Guest

Whether at a pet-friendly hotel or at the in-laws' house, not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Make sure your dog is well-groomed and don't forget canine etiquette. A quick refresher course in the basics commands: sit, down, stay, quiet and come will help make your dog welcome wherever you go.

3. Take First Aid on the Road

Accidents happen; be prepared with a mobile app offered by the American Red Cross. It contains veterinary advice for everyday emergencies, interactive features and a locator for American Animal Hospital Association-accredited hospitals across the nation. Download the app at: http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/pet-first-aid-app.

4. Avoid Dietary Changes

Stay as close to your dog's regular feeding schedule as possible and avoid giving extra treats or different types of foods that may upset their stomach. Dr. Loenser suggests giving regular meals in a food dispensing toy, which will also help use up some stored energy from the trip.

5. Consult Your Veterinarian

One of the main reasons dogs get left behind is, like Calvin, they suffer from motion sickness. "My clients often try over-the-counter remedies first," Dr. Loenser said. "However, OTC products are not very effective and have a sedative effect that can be unpleasant for the dog."

"I prescribe an FDA approved medication for dogs called CERENIA(r) (maropitant citrate) to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness in my canine clients 16 weeks and older - and Calvin." Dr. Loenser knows it is safe and effective because it's the medicine she uses every day to prevent and treat other causes of vomiting in her patients. She advises dog owners to talk to their veterinarians who can help find a solution for their dogs' car sickness.

"When you think about it, taking your dog along on vacation can be less expensive than paying for a kennel or dog sitter. That leaves more to spend on fun activities to enjoy with your dog."

Source: Cerenia

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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