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RE/MAX 440
Cathy Antonucci
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie  PA 18944
 Phone: 215-453-7653 1156
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Cell: 215-589-5656
Fax: 267-354-6233 
cantonucci@remax440.com
Cathy Antonucci

My Blog

Customer Service Crucial to Keeping Clients Happy

October 25, 2016 2:33 am

Nothing spooks your customers faster than poor customer service, according to the inaugural J.D. Power 2016 Home Security Satisfaction Report. While the recent study shows that 31 percent of customers have considered switching providers, those who indicate they will change providers in the next 12 months are doing so predominantly because of poor customer service.

“It’s such a basic principle—provide good customer service—but it requires a commitment throughout an organization,” says Greg Truex, senior director at J.D. Power. “Spending time and money on designing, building and selling a product is great, but if the execution of the customer experience is lacking, it can all be for naught.”

The customer service experience is significant because 40 percent of all customers contact their provider at some point with a question, problem or request. Satisfaction is significantly higher among customers who say the response was helpful (869 on a 1,000-point scale) than among those who didn’t find the response helpful (655). Satisfaction also is higher among customers who don’t contact their provider (867) than among those who do (850).

Following are additional findings of the report:

- Satisfaction is 62 points higher among customers who do not consider switching providers than among those who do consider switching (880 vs. 818, respectively).

- The three leading reasons customers select a system are brand reputation (54%), price (46%) and positive reviews/online rating (45%).

- Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) customers indicate they’re able to control their system outside of their home, while only 59% indicate they control it from their mobile device.

- Following are loyalty findings related to delighted customers:

- More than 9 in 10 (92%) delighted home security customers (overall satisfaction scores above 900) say they “definitely will” recommend the brand to others, compared with the report average of 72%.

- Nearly 9 in 10 (85%) delighted customers say they “definitely will” remain a customer of the brand, compared with the report average of 68%.

- Delighted customers make an average of 6.6 recommendations to family and friends, compared with the report average of 4.9.

Source: www.jdpower.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Americans Remain Concerned About Credit Card Debt

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

Americans are growing more concerned about their credit card balances, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) poll, which revealed that 69 percent of the respondents are most unsure or worried about paying down credit card debt.

“Credit cards are a useful and effective financial tool for those who keep their balances under control,” says Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC. “Balances sometimes grow beyond the point where they can easily be repaid, which is a sign that it’s time to reach out to a financial professional for guidance.”

Those polled are also worried about insufficient savings for emergencies and retirement, student loan debt and lack of affordable housing.

So what's the best way to work down your payment? Bump your monthly contributions. Paying only the minimum monthly payment is like treading water. It would take someone almost 26 years to pay off $7,800 at 15 percent interest. During that time, the amount of interest paid in addition to the principle balance would be $9,229. Paying extra each month will slash the interest you're shelling out.

If you are struggling to afford extra payments, consider consolidating balances if you have multiple accounts – but make sure to choose an account with a lower interest rate.

Source: www.NFCC.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Millennials See a Drop in Mortgage Rates

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

As the Fed considers bumping interest rates, the average rates on home loans offered to millennials dropped to 3.763 percent in August, according to the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker™. While this is a nice dip, the average loan amount to millennial borrowers actually increased to $181,326, compared to July’s average of $180,413.

The Tracker also noted that, after increasing the past few months, the average FICO score for millennial borrowers remained stable at 725 in August. The percentage of millennial conventional loans in August continued to climb, resulting in 63 percent of total closed loans, up from 62 percent in July. Meanwhile, FHA loans continued to represent 35 percent of all closed loans in August, down from both June and May’s 37 percent share. The average debt-to-income ratio (DTI) rose to 24/36. Loan-to-value (LTV) increased to 88 in August.

“In August, millennial borrowers enjoyed the lowest average interest rates we have seen all year,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae. “And we are seeing average loan amounts creep up for conventional and FHA loans as millennials take advantage of these low rates.”

Women were listed as the primary borrower on 32 percent of closed loans. Consistent with July data, among women who were listed as the primary borrower, 39 percent were married and 61 percent were single. Comparatively, among male primary borrowers, 59 percent were listed as married and 41 percent were single, a significant difference from women. The average age for borrowers remained consistent in 29.0 for female primary borrowers and 29.3 for male primary borrowers.

In August, female primary borrowers had an average FICO score of 725 and male primary borrowers had a slightly higher average score of 727. FHA loans represented 40 percent of total loans to female primary borrowers, compared to just 33 percent of male primary borrowers.

Owensboro, Ky. remained the top Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for millennial borrowers, with 60 percent of its mortgage loans closed in August going to members of this generation. Dickinson, N.D. Dakota, Terre Haute, Ind., and Hutchinson, Minn. each had 47 percent of mortgage loans closed by millennial borrowers. When sorted by population, top MSAs included St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (34 percent) followed by Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (32 percent).

Source: http://elliemae.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Superheroes Reign This Halloween

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

This Halloween, expect to see a bevvy of pint-sized superheroes littering your 'hood. The beloved princess costume has been de-crowned after an 11-year reign, according to NRF’s 2016 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. But perhaps the spookiest finding of all from this survey is that spending on Halloween costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion.

Findings show that over three million children will dress as their favorite action or superhero, 2.9 million will dress as their favorite princess and 2.5 million plan to dress as a cat, dog, bunny or other animal. 

Top Kid's Costumes
  1. Action/Superhero
  2. Princess
  3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Lion, Monkey, etc.)
  4. Batman Character
  5. Star Wars Character
  6. Tie: Witch AND DC Superhero (excl. Batman)
  7. Frozen Character (Anna, Elsa, Olaf)
  8. Marvel Superhero (excl. Spiderman)
  9. Zombie
  10. Spiderman
So what will millennials rock on All Hallow's Eve? Nine percent will reach for a Batman costume, followed by 6.1 percent opting for witch hats and brooms and five percent planning to dress as an animal. 

Adults, 18 -34-Years-Old
1. Batman Character (Batman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc.)
2. Witch
3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
4. Tie: Marvel Superhero (Deadpool, Spiderman, etc.) AND DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman, excl. Batman)
5. Vampire
6. Video Game Character
7. Slasher Movie Villain (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.)
8. Pirate
9. Star Wars Character
10. Zombie

For the mid-range adults, more will turn to witches, pirates and political figures for their costume inspiration.

Adults 35+

1. Witch
2. Pirate
3. Political (Trump, Clinton, etc.)
4. Vampire
5. Batman Character (Batman, Catwoman, etc.)
6. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
7. Tie: DC Superhero (Superman, Wonder Woman, excl. Batman) and Star Wars Character
8. Tie: Ghost and Zombie
9. Scary Costume/Mask
10. Marvel Superhero (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, etc.) 

And what would a holiday be without dressed up pets? Sixteen percent of consumers plan to dress their pets in costume this year and 86.7 percent of those consumers already have a plan for their pet’s costumes. Pumpkin, hot dog and bumble bee are at the top of the list again this year.

Furry friends

1. Pumpkin
2. Hot Dog
3. Bumble Bee
4. Tie: Lion and Star Wars Character
5. Devil
6. Batman Character
7. Witch
8. Superman
9. Action/Superhero
10. Cat

Sources: www.ProsperDiscovery.com, www.nrf.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Not to Help Your Child Succeed in School

October 21, 2016 2:30 am


Children are under a lot of pressure to get good grades at an early age in order to pave the way for a successful academic future. Parents are often at a loss as to the best way to help their children do well in school, and their best intentions, unfortunately, can backfire.

While every child is different, the tactics that usually don’t work:

Nagging - Constantly reminding your children to do their homework and study will have little to no effect on their motivation. Most of the time, they know exactly what they need to do and are simply procrastinating. Have a conversation with your child to review what’s due the next day or within the coming week, jot it down, and then leave them to it.

Getting Angry - Worse than nagging, yelling at your children about homework and grades is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it ineffective, it disrupts the peace at home, which is counterproductive for everyone in the family.

Doing It for Them - It can be oh-so tempting to simply intervene and do that math sheet or English paper yourself, especially if your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, show them how to organize their time, break a project into chunks, or encourage them to see their teacher for extra help. 

Blaming the Teacher - Keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher is very important, so long as you remain as impartial as possible, and are open to constructive criticism about your son or daughter. Getting adversarial with the teacher just making things worse for your child.

Punishing - While threats may seem like a logical way to get your child to do well, negative reinforcement rarely works long-term. Instead, try positive reinforcement, such as a small reward (e.g., a trip to the ice cream parlor, an extra hour tacked onto Saturday night curfew) for handing in work on time or getting a good grade on a paper. This will encourage good work habits that will serve them well far into the future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Not My House! A Before-the-Storm Checklist

October 21, 2016 2:30 am


Storms can cause all types of damage to a property, from loss of belongings to mold growth and beyond.

“Preparing before a storm is critical in managing the aftermath damage,” said Peter Duncanson, director of System Development with ServiceMaster Restore, in a recent statement. “We know how devastating storm damage can be for people, and we want to help them mitigate it as much as possible and be prepared to respond quickly.”

Duncanson and his team at Service Master Restore suggest following this checklist:

• Obtain emergency supplies (or refresh reserves, if needed) of items such medication, non-perishable food and water.

• Organize important documentation, such as birth certificates, insurance policies and receipts, into accessible, waterproof storage.

• Take stock of possessions, preferably with photos, including the items’ make, model and/or serial number.

• Unplug all electronics.

• Raise furniture, as well as below-window treatments. Board up windows, if necessary.

• Determine points of contact for emergency communications, and share that information with all members of the household.

• Clear gutters.

• Store outdoor furniture or any other outdoor items, including toys and tools, that could become airborne.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The 10 Paint Colors Designers Use Most

October 21, 2016 2:30 am


With hundreds of paint colors to choose from, selecting the shades just right for your home can be daunting. Good Housekeeping magazine recently rounded up the top 10 paint colors most often used by professional home designers. Get inspired by them:

1. Palladian Blue – By Benjamin Moore, this blue-green-grey shade can be used in any room, and is especially ideal for cooling down a sun-filled room or adding tranquility to a bedroom.

2. Garden Stone – By Clark+Kensington, this classic warm grey shade is a designer favorite projected to stand the test of time.

3. Manchester Tan – By Benjamin Moore, this shade is a go-to warm neutral favored because it changes with the light, going from rich to fresh.

4. Compatible Cream – By Sherwin Williams, this creamy yellow shade is warm and inviting, but not too sunny.

5. Intense White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade gives off a light grey-ish tone. Designers use it as a backdrop for rooms with brightly colored furniture.

6. Sprout 0.6 – By Colorhouse, this shade has a slightly pinkish hue, and is often chosen for ceilings because it reflects flatteringly on people in the room.

7. Revere Pewter – By Benjamin Moore, this fail-safe neutral shade is the perfect alternative to white, ideal for open floor plans with just a hint of color.

8. Decorator’s White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade has pure white undertones that provide a crisp, clean look on ceilings or trim, or in bathrooms. 

9. Essential Grey – By Sherwin Williams, this shade is best paired with white trim for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic.

10. Wool Skein – By Sherwin Williams, this neutral shade coordinates well with any color.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Study: The Value of a Consistent Retirement Saving Strategy

October 20, 2016 2:30 am


Reports about the retirement outlook for Americans have been less than encouraging since the recession. Recent data, however, show that the tide may be turning, this time favorably.

The average 401(k) balance, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI), has grown in the last four years, through both workers’ and employers’ contributions, as well as gains. The average 401(k) balance among consistent contributors is now $130,493. “Consistent” contributors are defined as “those who remained active in the same 401(k) plan for the four-year period covering year-end 2010 through year-end 2014.” The median 401(k) balance among consistent contributors, comparatively, grew to $56,653. Approximately one in five consistent contributors have more than $200,000 in their current employer’s 401(k) plan.

These data are evidence that consistency is essential to wealth-building for retirement, says Sarah Holden, ICI’s senior director of Retirement and Investor Research.

“By studying the experience of workers who participate consistently across several years, this study shows more accurately the extent to which steady, paycheck-by-paycheck saving and compounding investment returns can help workers accumulate a sizable retirement nest egg,” Holden said in a statement.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Did You Know Where You Live Can Affect How You Look?

October 20, 2016 2:30 am


You’d rarely think to move somewhere based on how it can change your appearance. A recent study, however, shows that where we choose to set down roots could actually impact how well we age.

The “2016 RoC Wrinkle Ranking,” compiled by Sperling’s Best Places, a research firm, and RoC® Skincare, offers a city-by-city look at premature aging and skin damage, revealing what you can expect to see when looking in the mirror decades down the road based on what city you call home. The analysis assessed factors commonly known to affect skin health: environmental, lifestyle and occupational influences.

The study predicts that in the year 2040, San Jose, Calif., will claim the least wrinkle-prone title as the city with residents who age the best. This is due to its shorter commute times, smaller population size and an anticipated shift toward a wetter climate. 

Philadelphia, on the other hand, will reign as the most wrinkle-prone city, thanks to airborne pollution, lengthy commute times and higher-than-average smoking rates.

The study highlights a number of key factors:

Large metropolitan areas, like Philly, Washington, D.C. and New York City, will likely remain the most wrinkle-prone due to extreme urban environments, more congested commuting and lower air quality.

Smoking rates will likely approach zero in 35 of the 50 cities ranked, which will decrease overall rates of premature wrinkles. However, Nashville, St. Louis and Kansas City are expected to retain smoking rates significantly higher than the rest of the country – leaving residents of these cities more at risk.

Higher temperatures, along with less precipitation, will increase the occurrence of wrinkles in certain areas, such as the Great Lakes and the Northeast. Texans in communities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will see the greatest decrease in average annual precipitation.

How about it? Will the possibility of premature aging give you pause about your city?
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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At Home: 8 Energy-Saving Tips

October 20, 2016 2:30 am


Energy costs account for a considerable amount of every homeowner’s budget. According to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the average annual utility costs are $2,200. Trimming that expense, even by a few dollars, can save hundreds each year—and save the environment from the effects of excess consumption.

Start saving energy at home with these tips, shared recently by the CFA.

1. Air-dry dishes, instead of drying them in the dishwasher. Avoid turning on the dishwasher until it is absolutely full, as ell—cycling through a wash every night is a high energy-consuming task.

2. Buy ENERGY STAR® products. If it is time to replace an appliance, purchase a model with the ENERGY STAR label, which indicates the appliance meets energy efficiency standards. 

3. Install a programmable thermostat to control the temperature in the home at different times of day automatically—this can save $100 a year, making the expense well worth the cost.

4. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, which, according to the CFA, use up to 25 percent less energy. Replace them only when the incandescents burn out, however—the goal is to avoid unnecessary consumption overall.

5. Seal drafts with caulk or weatherstripping to prevent air leakage—this is proven to save hundreds in cooling and heating costs. Spray foam insulation can be used on the exterior of the home to seal gaps around the chimney, foundation, pipes and windows.

6. Set up motion detectors, or set timers, to control lighting when not in use. Use power strips where appropriate to keep energy use to a minimum at night.

7. Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water heaters, the CFA reports, are the second-highest energy consumers in homes. Turning down the thermostat on them by a few degrees can significantly reduce their energy use.

8. Conduct an energy audit. Many utilities companies offer free energy audits, which is a type of inspection that reveals the most energy-consuming (and costly) aspects in the home.

Source: Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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