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Todd Bishop

Todd Bishop
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-257-7302
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6919

My Blog

Mom, Me and Junior: Insuring a Multigenerational Household

October 5, 2016 2:24 am


American households today are poles apart from those in recent years, as living arrangements continue shifting to accommodate adult children, aging parents, and the generation between them. This change, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), can impact your insurance needs.

“Longer life spans, decisions to marry later and the tight job market have forced many middle-aged adults to share their homes with family members across generations,” explains John M. Huff, president of the NAIC. “When there is an increased headcount under your roof, there are likely new insurance implications.”

Huff and the NAIC point to an “empty nest reversal” trend, in which baby boomers (and some in Generation X) have become responsible for housing an adult child and an aging parent—an arrangement that may require changes to insurance coverage.

In the case of adult children (“boomerang kids”), communicating expectations is essential, especially because housing an adult child can be costly. Some questions to consider, according to the NAIC:

• Will the adult child be solely responsible for health insurance?

• Will the adult child’s driving record result in a higher automotive insurance premium? Will the adult child be responsible for the additional cost?

• Will the adult child’s big-ticket items (e.g., electronics) result in a higher homeowners insurance premium? Will the adult child be responsible for the additional cost?

Moving in aging parents also requires consideration. According to the NAIC, questions to ask include:

• Is the aging parent covered by Medicare?

• Is the aging parent current on insurance premium payments (including those for life insurance, if applicable)?

• Is the aging parent in need of long-term care insurance?

These questions, though at times unsettling, can help you as a homeowner in a multigenerational arrangement obtain insurance coverage that aligns with the needs of your household. If you anticipate moving in an adult child or aging parent in the future, keep these questions in mind as you prepare for the change.

Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Weddings Get Social

October 4, 2016 2:21 am


Brides are using social media more than ever to announce their engagement, discover new ideas, connect with vendors, share moments throughout their wedding planning journey, and post their honeymoon experiences, according to a survey by The Knot.

First Comes the Ring…Then Comes the Post
Three out of five brides surveyed reported announcing their engagement on social media within the first 24 hours of saying "yes," and 86 percent shared their news within the first week. Sixty-two percent reported increasing their social media usage after their engagement, with seven out of 10 admitting to using social media for wedding planning more than anything else. The top three social media channels used during wedding planning are Pinterest (89 percent), Instagram (38 percent) and Facebook (38 percent).

Hashtagging the Big Day
Once the word is out, couples focus on creating a personalized wedding hashtag to share photos leading up to and throughout the wedding day. Sixty-six percent of couples (up 11 percent from 2014) plan on using or have used a personalized hashtag in conjunction with their wedding.

Snapping the Ceremony
Only 30 percent of brides surveyed reported being aware they could create and purchase a custom Snapchat geofilter for their wedding day and wedding-related events, but of those, 44 percent actually created one and used it. An additional 30 percent are considering it for their upcoming nuptials.

Leave It to the Guests…to Share Photos
Couples are leaving the posting to guests on the wedding day—three out of four couples (74 percent) reported wanting to be disconnected from social media on the big day.

Social Media Love on the Honeymoon
Seventy percent of brides surveyed admitted to sharing about their nuptials on social media within 24 hours of the wedding, and 70 percent reported posting throughout their honeymoon.

Source: The Knot
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Incentives Help Homeowners Go Solar

October 4, 2016 2:21 am


Solar energy is economical, effective and efficient—and solar incentives today, according to a recently released report, make it even easier to adopt.

The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA)’s “Incentivizing Solar Energy: An In-Depth Analysis of U.S. Solar Incentives” is a comprehensive quantification of solar incentives that analyzes the cost for a typical solar facility in 15 states. The publication also details the federal, state, and local incentives available for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

In many states, the incentives collectively exceed the total cost of installing a solar PV facility, particularly for third party-owned (TPO) facilities, according to the report. When a homeowner leases a solar PV facility (or purchases its energy output through a long-term contract), the TPO receives the federal ITC and 5-year accelerated depreciation, based on the fair market value of the facility, rather than its installed cost.

Balancing cost versus return continues to be a challenge, the report cautions—the non-incentivized cost of producing a kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy with residential solar PV is much higher than the non-incentivized cost of producing a kWh of energy with a large-scale solar PV; consequently, incentivizing residential solar PV may not be as economical as it should be.

For example, net metering programs, which pay homeowners with solar PV systems high rates for their excess electricity production, shift fixed utility infrastructure costs onto non-solar homeowners, who are typically less affluent than those with a solar PV system.

Still, on a dollar-per-kWh basis, even the least-incentivizing package exceeds the incentives provided for large-scale solar PV projects, the report shows.

More information on the incentives can be found at SolarEnergyFuture.org.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mud Rooms, Offices Rank High for Homeowners

October 4, 2016 2:21 am


A mud room and an office come in at the top of homeowners’ wish lists—and a gym and a movie theater have dropped off it, according to the recently released American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey.

“Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mud rooms and home offices indicate that consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality,” said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, in a statement on the survey. “Things have changed a lot from a decade ago, when home theaters and exercise rooms were some of the most popular ‘special function’ rooms in homes.”

In addition to a mud room, an office and outdoor living space, homeowners are remodeling for a designated guest room (e.g., an Au Pair or in-law suite) and a sun room or three-season porch, according to the survey.

Remodeling for accessibility is also common, though somewhat less so as more new homes are being designed to accommodate “aging in place.” Popular accessibility projects, the survey found, include adding a first-floor master bedroom, an elevator and handles.

“Although accessibility features remain an important issue to homeowners, demand for some of these features has leveled off in the custom residential arena,” Baker said. “As more homes become equipped to handle an aging population of homeowners, less custom work needs to be done to address specific accessibility issues.”

Automated features are in-demand, as well, some with the dual benefit of convenience and energy efficiency. Up-and-coming features that homeowners have begun to request, the survey found, include an air purification system, a backup power generator, an electrical car docking station, solar panels and “super” insulation.

Source: American Institute of Architects (AIA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Want to Get to Know Your Neighbors? Take Fido for a Stroll

October 3, 2016 2:21 am


Every one of us believes we’re a good neighbor—99 percent of the homeowners recently surveyed by the Community Associations Institute (CAI), that is. According to the CAI survey, most of us believe we possess neighborly characteristics, including being “friendly,” “helpful,” “quiet” and “respectful” of privacy.

Being neighborly goes beyond a passing wave, however. The survey found neighborly behaviors foster a sense of community, with 86 percent of respondents having pride in their neighborhood, and recommending it to those in their circle. Seventy-four percent of respondents routinely participate in social gatherings in their community, as well, while 54 percent volunteer for neighborhood activities and 30 percent take part in neighborhood recreation.

“Across the nation, Americans are demonstrating how to make home more enjoyable—they're volunteering, taking part in their local government, and participating in neighborhood social activities,” says Thomas Skiba, CEO of CAI. “As champions of building better communities, we know there is usually a strong correlation between the level of homeowner involvement and the long-term success of a community.”

Interestingly, 83 percent of respondents become acquainted with their neighbors not at neighborhood events, but while walking their dog. Remember that the next time you move to a new neighborhood!

Considering a move to a new community? Contact me for assistance today!

Source: Community Associations Institute (CAI)

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Just In: Credit Report Change Could Benefit Buyers

October 3, 2016 2:21 am


An upcoming change on credit reports could be beneficial for homebuyers.

Equifax, one of the nation’s three leading credit reporting bureaus, recently announced the addition of up to two years of debt balance and repayment history on its credit reports. The change became effective Sept. 24, 2016.

The change, Equifax stated in a release, will impart heightened understanding of creditworthiness as it relates to approval of a loan. Recent research out of Fannie Mae shows that borrowers who pay off their credit card debt every month are 60 percent less likely to become delinquent on their mortgage, compared to borrowers who only make the minimum payment. Including debt balance and repayment information in the report will give mortgage lenders deeper insight when evaluating an application, beyond assessing the applicant’s credit score.

“For nearly three decades, mortgage lenders have used the same static formula to determine whether or not someone receives a home loan,” stated Craig Crabtree, general manager of Equifax Mortgage Services, in the release. “Leveraging trended credit data to evaluate how borrowers actually manage and pay off their credit debt could have enormous potential in terms of opening up credit and providing many Americans with access to mortgage loans that they previously may not have qualified for.”

Planning to buy a home soon? Contact me today to discuss your credit and lending options.

Source: Equifax

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What's Good for Homebuyers Is Good for the Housing Market

October 3, 2016 2:21 am


What’s good for homebuyers is good for the housing market.

That’s the takeaway from two recently released reports from Freddie Mac—one that confirmed mortgage rates at a 10-week low, and one that revealed two more metropolitan areas have transitioned to normal levels of housing activity. Both indicators bode well for homebuyers.

“Investors flocked to the safety of government bonds, causing the 10-year Treasury yield to continue its descent following the FOMC's decision to leave rates unchanged,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage responded by dropping six basis points before landing at 3.42 percent—a 10-week low.”

The average rate of the 15-year fixed mortgage also declined, down to 2.72 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s mortgage survey.

Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®), on the other hand, showed that housing activity in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Ind. has picked up—overall, housing in 38 states (plus the District of Columbia) is at normal levels.

The metropolitan areas with the most marked improvement in housing over the last month, according to the Index, are Lakeland, Fla., Youngstown, Ohio, Chicago, Ill., Orlando, Fla. and Las Vegas, Nev.

Source: Freddie Mac
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Wise Ways to Use $100

September 30, 2016 2:12 am


Maybe you got a tax refund. Maybe a friend paid back an old debt. Maybe you got from one paycheck to the next and—amazingly—had $100 left over. You may be tempted to blow your windfall, but $100 doesn’t buy all that much these days. Far better, according to The Motley Fool, is to use that $100 in one of these 5 wise ways:

1. Start/Add to an Emergency Fund – Surveys reveal a shocking number of Americans do not have enough money set aside to cover a $1,000 emergency. Ideally, an emergency fund should hold three to six months of living expenses.

2. Start/Add to a Retirement Fund – It may not seem like much, but if you were to put that $100 in a 401(k) or IRA and choose investments that generate an average annual 8-percent return, after 40 years, it would amount to almost $2,200!

3. Pay Down a Credit Card – Carrying a credit card balance, no matter how small, means losing money every month to interest. Granted, that $100 on its own probably won't save you a lot in interest, but it will get you one step closer to becoming debt-free.

4. Buy Stock – A single Ben Franklin won't make you a fortune in the stock market, but you can use it to open a low-cost, no- or low-minimum brokerage account and start investing for your future.

5. Invest in Yourself – If a certification or skill is standing in the way of a higher salary, use that $100 to pay for a course or license that helps you command more money—if a $100 online web design course results in a $1,000 bump in salary, that’s a 900-percent return on investment!
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Rid Your Home of Pests Before Winter Hits

September 30, 2016 2:12 am


No matter where you live, there’s always the potential for neighborhood residents—pests—to make your home their home.

Ridding your home of pests is best done before winter sets in, says Steve Evans of Underwriters Laboratories (SafeBee.com). Evans warns that mice and other rodents are known to chew the protective sheathing off electrical wires, leaving the underlying metal exposed. Unprotected wiring can short-circuit and spark, possibly leading to a house fire.

Fortunately, most homeowners can prevent pests from ever becoming a problem by sealing up every crevice in their home—but only if the situation is under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pest problems that call for professional evaluation should be dealt with as soon as possible, and preferably by a licensed exterminator.

If sealing is outside of your skill set, a drywall or masonry contractor may be needed, adds John Drengenberg of the CDC. Ensure the contractor fills holes inside the home first—outside holes should remain open temporarily so that rodents can exit.

Be cautious when cleaning, Evans says. Avoid sweeping or vacuuming in areas that have been infested—doing so can stir up dust and waste. Instead:

• Open windows to air out the infested area for at least half an hour before cleanup. Stay out of the area while it airs out.

• Wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask to avoid coming into contact with contaminated air or dust.

• Spray the infested area with bleach solution (one-part bleach to 10-parts water) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use disposable rags to remove any waste. Mop the floor with the same bleach solution.

• Dispose of trash in a sealed plastic bag.

• Remove your gloves and scrub your hands with hot, soapy water.

Do not attempt to clean the area if it is heavily infested, Drengenberg says. Consult with a pest control professional—he or she will not only perform the cleanup, but also educate you on health and safety.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spruce Up for Fall with Color

September 30, 2016 2:12 am


From cool blues and smoky greens inspired by scenic mountaintop views to warm neutrals reminiscent of transitioning leaves, this season’s paint trends, according to Ace Hardware design experts Nathan Fischer, Katie Reynolds and Julie Richard, create classic, elegant palettes that bring the outdoors in. Below, the designers’ top paint picks and ideas for fall:

• Changing the color of the front door to a natural green, with accents like Adirondack chairs or planters in the same color family.

• Make your home feel warmer with colors like chocolate brown or creamy beige in a variety of accessories, such as lampshades or a rug.

• Neutrals don't have to be boring. Try incorporating rich beige with lavender undertones to add a whimsical twist to a room.

• White walls are anything but simple. Go for soft, off-whites to achieve a clean, polished and timeless look.

• Use darker neutrals—think cool charcoal or deep brown—sparingly on accent pieces, such as a side table or a headboard, to add sophisticated dimension.

• Implement forest greens, which create a masculine aesthetic, in intimate spaces, like a bedroom or library.

• Mix in darker teal hues as an accent color, with more muted greens on walls or larger visual areas.

• Paint interior window frames in a cool-toned black to create the steel-frame, “modern-farmhouse” look popular this season.

• Go for the bold with a wowing red on kitchen stools, side tables or even picture frames—statement-making colors complement a neutral space.

Source: Ace Hardware
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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