RE/MAX 440
Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

My Blog

Freddie Mac: Housing Market Further Stabilizes

September 1, 2015 1:54 am

In more encouraging news for housing, Freddie Mac recently reported two additional states and four additional metro areas have entered “stable” territory–a promising sign of a normalizing market. According to Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®), Arkansas and Tennessee are in stable range, as well as the Omaha, Neb., Scranton, Pa., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Madison, Wis., metro areas.

Housing nationally stands at 80.3 on the MiMi, which indicates an outer stable range. Earlier this summer, 45 of the 50 states and 95 of the 100 metro areas were showing improvement. Based on the MiMi, the market has improved 5.41 percent in the last year.

“Housing markets are the strongest they’ve been in years with the National MiMi above 80 for the first time since 2008. Nationally, all MiMi indicators are heading in the right direction,” says Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer. “Robust homebuyer demand has put total home sales on pace for the best year since 2007 and look for that trend to continue as the MiMi purchase applications indicator remains on the upswing.”

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


3 Inspiring Ideas for a Kitchen Redo

September 1, 2015 1:54 am

(Family Features) Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to be expensive. Draw inspiration from these ideas, offered up by the experts at Lowe’s (, purveyor of the Frigidaire Professional line, among other housewares.

• Incorporate the farm-to-table trend with a farmhouse sink, which will work in kitchens with existing farmhouse or transitional styles. Go for classic white or a darker metal finish, such as an antique copper single-basin, to make a vintage statement.

• Don’t get voted off the island – install one instead. Create a warm and inviting space with a large, distressed-finish island, or, if space doesn’t permit, an industrial-style kitchen cart. Both will serve triple duty as a prep area, storage and space for guests.

• Though not traditionally considered an appealing color in kitchens, gray actually generates a bright, clean, calming effect, and gray walls beautifully compliment stainless steel appliances. Contrasting cabinetry and doors will make the color stand out even more, bringing the once muted shade front and center.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Back-to-School Shoppers Feeling the Strain

August 31, 2015 1:54 am

School-aged children are not the only ones dreading heading back to the classroom. According to a recent survey, saying goodbye to summer break generally causes parents to feel stress about the financial burden of back-to-school shopping. In fact, most parents plan to spend an average of two weeks shopping and upwards of $300 per child for back-to-school necessities.

According to the survey, over a third of parents plan to shop for back-to-school season only during August sales, even though there were deep discounts available as early as July. Parents will likely be purchasing character-themed school supplies from some of Hollywood’s biggest box office hits – count on Minions, Jurassic World, Spongebob and Star Wars themes as most popular.

Back-to-school does bring good news for some – a majority of parents are happy to have class back in session, particularly because they will have more time to themselves and are eager to return to a routine budget.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Why You Need an Agent to Sell Your Home

August 31, 2015 1:54 am

Every seller wants their home to go to the best buyer for the best price–but that can seldom be accomplished without the help of a qualified real estate professional. “Selling your home through a REALTOR® can help you make sure you get the best value overall,” says Kimberly Nicole, a Texas real estate agent catering to upscale, elite homes and their clientele.

Not convinced? Here, Nicole explains why you should work with a REALTOR® instead of going at it alone:

A REALTOR® knows how to navigate the selling process.

At the start of the process, a REALTOR® will host extensive discussions with a client to head off rock blocks. A REALTOR® is aware of the client’s concerns, needs and priorities, navigating each step of the way. A REALTOR® will stay on top of the latest regulations to help clients meet their requirements.

A REALTOR® knows the area.

A REALTOR® will know what the property values are in the client’s community and have a good sense of market fluctuations, pricing the property competitively for the market

A REALTOR® knows how to prepare the listing.

A REALTOR® will advise you on what repairs need to be completed, potentially before listing the home on the market, and will recommend qualified contractors to get the job done. A REALTOR® can also set up an inspection to better assess the condition of the home.

A REALTOR® knows how to professionally list the property.

A REALTOR® will manage your listing across multiple channels to get maximum exposure, coordinating with photographers and videographers to ensure your listing is presented flawlessly. “Hitting the right emotional and responsive chords with buyers is the goal,” Nicole says. “[A REALTOR®] determines who the likely audience is, and markets directly to that audience.”

A REALTOR® helps sellers prepare for showings.

“Staging is extremely important,” Nicole says. “That first impression is vital.” If the client lives in the home while it is being shown, a REALTOR® may advise keeping the home staged, maintaining curbside appeal, removing pets during showings, de-cluttering closets or rearranging furniture.

A REALTOR® knows how to objectively negotiate.

A REALTOR® will help clients evaluate offers as they come in, including multi-bid circumstances. “Each side has different concerns, and each party needs to know where the other stands,” says Nicole. A REALTOR® will also help clients navigate the closing process, including explaining all paperwork clearly to the client.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Add Instant Fall Curb Appeal

August 31, 2015 1:54 am

(BPT) – To make the most of your home’s outward appearance, it’s important to implement seasonal curb appeal. With autumn approaching, consider sprucing up your home’s exterior with these fall touches:

Replace your front door with an ENERGY STAR® alternative, complete with decorative glass accents or sidelights to keep cool weather out and natural light in. For entry door inspiration, check out Pinterest, your resident showroom or your local home improvement store.

• If a door replacement is out the budget, swap out door hardware instead for an instant facelift. Select finishes that compliment features like outdoor light fixtures, the mailbox or house numbers.

• Before cold weather sets in, consider repainting the exterior trim framing your home. This will refresh the look without costing as much as an entire exterior paint job. Choose a color that coordinates with the home’s primary exterior color.

Fall plantings add beauty and life to your home’s exterior. Arrange pots filled with hardy plants, like mums, sedum or asters around your front door, porch or deck. Incorporate planters or containers of varied sizes, shapes and colors.

Add exterior accent lighting to the front of your home for more lighting as the days get shorter. Consider illuminating a walking path with ground-insert solar lights, using solar spotlights to bring out landscaping, or installing matching light fixtures outside your front door, garage door or patio door to provide well-lit entrances.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Melting Pot: Global Cuisines Gain Popularity

August 28, 2015 1:51 am

A variety of ethnic cuisines are increasingly becoming part of everyday American diets, according to recent research by the National Restaurant Association – more so than they were five years ago. The research points to 80 percent of individuals consuming at least one type of ethnic cuisine each month.

“Americans generally are more willing to try new food than they were only a decade or so ago – especially in restaurants – underscoring that the typical consumer today is becoming more adventurous and sophisticated when it comes to different cuisines and flavors,” explains National Restaurant Association Director of Research Communications Annika Stensson.

Which cuisines reign supreme? Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines are most popular in terms of familiarity and frequency of consumption. Individuals are least familiar with Ethiopian, Brazilian/Argentine and Korean cuisines.

Brazilian/Argentine, Greek, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines are most commonly consumed on-premises at restaurants. Chinese, Ethiopian, Mexican and Italian are most commonly consumed via restaurant takeout or delivery.

Source: National Restaurant Association

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FHA to Issue Borrower Guidelines for Energy-Efficient Improvements

August 28, 2015 1:51 am

As part of the White House’s National Clean Energy Summit, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) plans to issue a set of guidelines supporting borrowers seeking to make energy-efficient home improvements, allowing them to use Single Family FHA financing for properties with existing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans that meet certain conditions.

PACE can vary from state-to-state, but generally allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency improvements for up to 20 years through assessments attached to the property. PACE allows homeowners to benefit from the improvements immediately and spread the cost over time. When the property is sold, the PACE loan remains with the property and the next owner is responsible for repaying the loan.

The Single Family FHA guidance will allow lenders to evaluate the conditions under which borrowers purchasing, refinancing properties, or modifying their loans with existing PACE assessments will be eligible to use FHA-insured financing. Through this guidance FHA is committing to develop more specific guidance in the near future that will include these requirements: PACE liens that preserve payment priority for first lien mortgages through subordination are eligible; PACE assessments must be fixed-rate and fixed repayment schedule; PACE assessments must be recorded and identifiable to the lender; and PACE assessments must be attached to single-family properties, as defined by FHA, which are 1- to 4-unit dwellings.

The FHA will also be partnering with the Department of Energy (DOE) to incorporate its use of the DOE’s Home Energy Score into Single Family existing FHA’s Energy Efficient Home (EEH) program. The FHA will provide flexible underwriting to recognize the reduced costs of utilities.

Homebuyers or homeowners who want to obtain an FHA-insured purchase or refinance mortgage for a single-family home that receives a Home Energy Score of 6 or higher will be eligible to increase their income qualifying ratio by 2 percent above the standard Single Family FHA limit.

The DOE developed the Home Energy Score as a low-cost, reliable method to estimate a home’s energy use. It is the equivalent of a vehicle miles-per-gallon rating for homes. The calculation methodology relies on a 10-point scale in which a “1” corresponds to the least energy-efficient homes and a “10” corresponds to the most energy-efficient homes. According to the DOE, the average U.S. home will score a “5.” The official DOE-recognized Home Energy Score can only be assessed by a qualified energy assessor.

Source: HUD

Published with permission from RISMedia.


More Homeowners DIY Exterior Improvements

August 28, 2015 1:51 am

More homeowners are taking a “design-it-yourself” approach when it comes to improving the exteriors of their homes – in fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by Royal® Building Products, homeowners aren’t afraid to step in and make their own design decisions to better their home’s outward appearance.

“Today's homeowners are more empowered than ever to be a part of the decision-making process when it comes to the exterior design of their homes,” explains Marilyn Chase of Royal Building Products. Over half of respondents to the survey desire a say in the material used for the exterior of their home, as well as a say in the specific products being used to build it.

Nearly 65 percent of homeowners believe making upgrades to a home’s exterior is a wise investment, and an identical percentage believes a renovation to the exterior adds value.

When making exterior improvements, the majority of survey respondents say they would take aesthetics, curb appeal and the overall neighborhood into consideration. Interestingly, nearly three-quarters of respondents believe coordinating the exterior color of a home with the interior color scheme is unimportant.

Structural pains when making exterior improvements present concerns. Approximately half of survey respondents expressed fear over rotting, cracking, and moisture and wind damage.

Source: Royal® Building Products

Published with permission from RISMedia.


School's In Session: Is Your Backpack Safe?

August 27, 2015 1:51 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.


Homeowners Insurance Lessons 10 Years after Katrina

August 27, 2015 1:51 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.