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Tim Lugara

Tim Lugara
423 North Main Street  Doylestown  PA 18901
Phone:  215-348-7100 1632
Office:  215-348-7100
Toll Free:  800-360-7100
Cell:  215-917-8673
Fax:  267-354-6961

Tim's Blog

The Top 20 Cities for Retirees

July 7, 2016 1:31 am


Many homeowners are planning to relocate as they transition to retirement—for some, those plans involve moving to a new city, or even a new state.

Bankrate.com recently ranked the top cities for retirees, based on factors ranging from cost of living and walkability.

“We found that smaller cities and suburbs fared the best,” said Bankrate.com Analyst Jill Cornfield in a statement. “Most seniors prefer to live in these types of communities because they offer access to big-city amenities without as much hustle, bustle and crime.”

The top 20 cities in the ranking:

1. Arlington, Va.
2. Alexandria, Va.
3. Franklin, Tenn.
4. Silver Spring, Md.
5. West Des Moines, Iowa
6. Nashville, Tenn.
7. Sarasota, Fla.
8. Rockville, Md.
9. Des Moines, Iowa
10. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
11. Scottsdale, Ariz.
12. Round Rock, Texas
13. Mesa, Ariz.
14. Bradenton, Fla.
15. Glendale, Calif.
16. Austin, Texas
17. Phoenix, Ariz.
18. Cape Coral, Fla.
19. North Port, Fla.
20. Charleston, S.C.

Bankrate.com’s ranking encompasses 196 cities in total. To see if your city made the cut, visit www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/ranking-best-worst-cities-to-retire-1.aspx.

Source: Bankrate.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Does Your HOA Have a Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan?

July 7, 2016 1:31 am


Wildfires can ignite anywhere, even beyond areas with drier climates. As a homeowner, understanding your risk is important.

Wildfire has become a topic of concern in homeowner community associations, a trend recently explored in the article “Where There’s Smoke” by the Community Associations Institute (CAI). In the article, CAI cites a record statistic: over 10 million acres were impacted by wildfire last year—more land than Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island combined.

What’s more, the article states over 3,000 homes in the wildland-urban interface—zones adjacent to unoccupied land and therefore at risk for wildfire—have been destroyed each year since 2000. Several factors are fanning the flames, including climate change and development.

To stave off the threat, community associations are leveraging risk mitigation programs. Your association may be following guidelines set forth by the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities program, which reduces undergrowth and tinder—fuel sources for wildfire—in residential developments. According to the article, mitigation steps may include:

• Clearing storm debris;
• Inhibiting landscape overgrowth; and
• Maintaining a fire break between residences and “native areas.”

Association policies, such as requiring water hoses or prohibiting charcoal grills, may also be imposed to reduce risk.

Obtaining sufficient insurance coverage—in addition to adhering to association policies—is crucial. The CAI article recommends you keep a digital inventory of your belongings in order to expedite the claims process should wildfire damage or destruction occur.

Seek out your association representative to learn more about your community’s wildfire risk mitigation plan. Discuss evacuation procedures and any other measures that may be enacted in the event of a wildfire.

For more information on wildfires, read the CAI article in full: http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/In_the_Line_of_Fire/2507995/310123/article.html.

Source: Community Associations Institute (CAI)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Smart Things to Do with $1,000

July 6, 2016 1:31 am


It’s a great feeling: you received a hard-earned bonus at work, or an unexpected gift from a relative. The impulse to buy something you pine for is strong.

Before you spend that $1,000, think what it can help accomplish if you take one of these five steps, say investment advisors at the Motley Fool:

1. Create an Emergency Fund – Statistics say 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings—not nearly enough to pay for emergencies. If you’re one of them, take that $1,000 to the bank and crank up your emergency fund. You’ll feel a lot better when you find your car needs repair and you don’t have to haul out the plastic!

2. Pay Off Debt – Carrying credit card balances wastes money on interest payments, affording you less spend-able cash. Use that $1,000 to pay down debt, which may also improve your credit score—ideal if you need to borrow money or apply for a home loan down the line.

3. Save for Retirement – Add that $1,000 to your 401(k), IRA or savings account. Those in their 30s who invest it in stocks could generate an average annual return of 8 percent—or, if you put it into savings, could grow it to $15,000 by age 65.

4. Invest in Your Child’s Education – While student loans are an option, the less debt your kids take on, the better positioned they’ll be to start adulthood on financially solid ground. If you’re on track for retirement, have adequate emergency savings, and aren’t carrying credit card debt, put that $1,000 in a traditional brokerage account, a 529 or another type of college savings plan.

5. Invest in Yourself – If a degree or certification stands between you and a promotion and a raise—or if you plan to launch a side business or a new career—put that $1,000 windfall into making your dream a reality.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Report: Rents Stabilizing

July 6, 2016 1:31 am


Out-of-this-world rents may soon come back down to Earth.

Nationwide, rents are trending upward, but only steadily so, with the average rent at $1,277, according to a recent report by Axiometrics, provider of comprehensive apartment market intelligence.

“Annual effective rent growth” was 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016, down from a rate of 5.1 percent one year ago. This measurement, determined by Axiometrics, was positive in nearly 100 percent of the data provider’s top 50 rental markets.

Still, some rental markets in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) lie outside of the trend. The top 10 MSAs for annual effective rent growth, according to the report, are:

1. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. (10.4 percent)

2. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (7.9 percent)

3. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (7.6 percent)

4. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (7.4 percent)

5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (7.3 percent)

6. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6.7 percent)

7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (6.6 percent)

8. (TIE)

• Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. (6.3 percent)
• Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (6.3 percent)
• Salt Lake City, Utah (6.3 percent)
• Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6.3 percent)
• San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (6.3 percent)

9. (TIE)

• West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, Fla. (5.8 percent)
• Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (5.8 percent)

10. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (5.5 percent)

Overall, annual effective rent growth is concentrated in markets in the West and South, which boast encouraging employment prospects. Rents in these markets are expected to grow, and some outside of marginal increases, in the future.

Source: Axiometrics
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Buying a Home? Tips to Grow Your Down Payment

July 6, 2016 1:31 am


A down payment is an initial payment made by a homebuyer with financing, generally ranging from 5 to 20 percent of the home’s value, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

A down payment of 20 percent will save the expense of private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is often imposed on borrowers who finance more than 80 percent of their purchase, and can also result in a lower mortgage interest rate.

To grow your down payment to 20 percent, the ABA Foundation recommends:

Saving – Open a separate savings account strictly for your down payment. Setting these funds aside from other types of savings will reduce the chance you’ll draw from it in times of need.

Budgeting – Your down payment will depend on the amount you plan to spend on a home. Assess your current financial obligations to determine how much you can save each month toward the down payment. Consider that many obligations can be reduced or even eliminated.

Tracking – Keeps tabs on the discretionary income you spend—this can help pinpoint areas where you can spend less and save more.

Researching – You may be able to save more with a down payment assistance or other housing-related program. Discuss the options available in your area with your real estate professional.

Bear in mind a 20-percent down payment is not a necessity, and ultimately, your budget and savings will determine the percentage. Contact a real estate professional for further guidance.

Source: American Bankers Association (ABA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Debt Regret: 3 Questions Students Should Ask

July 5, 2016 1:28 am


Student loan debt has ballooned to over $1.3 trillion, with more students than ever securing loans to finance a college education. The cost and results of that education—soaring tuition, burdensome debt and scant employment opportunities—have left some wondering, “Was it worth it?”

Post-secondary education is a necessary step on the path to higher earnings, but many with debt do not believe college was worth the cost, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports—45 percent, to be exact. Of that percentage, 78 percent earn less than $50,000 a year, and 69 percent experience difficulty paying loans.

These findings present a cautionary tale for students entering college. Consumer Reports advises them and their parents to develop a financing plan that takes into account the following questions:

1. What do I want to get out of college?
2. How much will college cost?
3. How can I reduce costs?


It is crucial to enter college with a clear picture of your goals after graduation, according to Consumer Reports—taking “exploratory” classes or changing majors can cost thousands in unnecessary tuition.

The cost of college will be determined by several factors, including your academic transcript, your family’s financial circumstances, and the school you attend. To make the most economical decision, consider the bottom-line, “net price” of your education, Consumer Reports suggests.

Traverse all possible avenues to cut costs, too, Consumer Reports recommends. Is community college an option? Are scholarships available? Can studying abroad save you money? Factoring these measures into your plan can save you thousands in future debt and interest.

For more guidance related to student loans, visit ConsumerReports.org/StudentDebt.
 
Source: Consumer Reports
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is It Time to Evaluate Your Trees? Pt. 1

July 5, 2016 1:28 am


Having the trees on your property inspected regularly can help identify distress or decay before it becomes critical—and costly.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) (TreeCareTips.org) recommends hiring a trained arborist to conduct a formal risk assessment. Several risk assessment methods exist, but three are the most widely accepted in North America:

• International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Hazard Evaluation Method
• ISA Tree Risk Assessment Best Management Practice (BMP) Method  
• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Community TreeRisk Evaluation Method

These methods are employed most often by tree care professionals, municipal forestry programs and government agencies. Before hiring an arborist, discuss which method will be used to evaluate your trees.

After the assessment, the arborist may give you a written or oral report with recommendations to mitigate any risks your trees may pose. Generally, there are three ways to reduce risk: removing the tree, treating the tree or treating the site. More than one option may be used depending on the situation, according to the TCIA.

An assessment is a wise step to take even if your trees appear safe, the TCIA adds. It is best to have a professional verify the safety of the trees on your property, especially if they hang over your house or other structures on your property.

In Pt. 2, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each assessment method.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Budget? Remodeling Spend on the Rise

July 5, 2016 1:28 am


Homeowners are sinking more money into renovations, driving up the average remodeling spend—and many are doing so without a set budget.

That’s according to results of the recently released Houzz & Home survey by Houzz.com, which revealed that approximately one-third of homeowners either exceed their remodeling budget (by thousands!) or do not have a budget at all. Those who exceed their budget often do so due to costlier materials or design changes.

Homeowners are set on re-doing the kitchen and bathrooms first, budget or no budget, according to the survey. Many of these renovations are undertaken by recent homebuyers who want to improve their new home, by those who “finally” have the financial means to do so, or by soon-to-be home sellers.

The survey revealed recent homebuyers tend to invest more, on average, in remodeling projects—$66,600 versus $59,800 by other homeowners. Home sellers, on the other hand, spend less—$36,300, on average.

Whatever the spend, most homeowners pay for the project with personal funds or savings, according to the survey. Some, still, use credit cards or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Homeowners are shelling out these funds to professionals, such as remodelers, general contractors or a design-build company, the survey found. Some homeowners are hiring architects or interior designers, as well.

Upgrading your home to sell? Talk to a real estate professional. He or she can offer guidance as to which projects recoup the most money at resale.

Source: Houzz.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Can You Guess the Most Popular Fourth of July Eats?

July 4, 2016 1:28 am

As we celebrate Independence Day, there’s one food item that will be on the majority of tables across America: hamburgers. According to a recent Instantly survey, hamburgers were named the top menu item for the Fourth of July, surpassing hotdogs by nearly 40 percent. The most popular side dishes will be potato salad, corn on the cob and baked beans, respectively.

When it comes to snack items, the overwhelming majority of Americans will reach for Frito-Lay brand chips, including KC Masterpiece, Kettle Chips and Doritos.

These classic food items uphold a longstanding tradition for many Americans, with 34 percent selecting these items based on historical preference. Nearly three-quarters of Americans who are dieting or watching what they eat consider the Fourth of July a “cheat” day.

Source: Instantly

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Smoking Allowed? Sure, It Makes for Great Barbecues!

July 4, 2016 1:28 am

There's plenty of summer left, and plenty of opportunities to entertain. That means preparing spectacular feasts for your family and guests.

If you're looking to broaden your culinary toolkit, maybe it's time to graduate from a grill to a smoker. The National Barbecue Association (nbbqa.org) offers these tips if you're looking into doing some home cooking with a new smoker.

Howard Singer, pitmaster of Smokin' Howie's BBQ Team, says the price for smokers can range from under $100 to thousands of dollars.

Singer says think about which features are most important to you and establish a budget. If you are truly a beginner, you can buy a simple, vertical smoker for under $50.

An experienced home barbecuer can get a more advanced, but still inexpensive, unit that produces great results for around $300. If you are looking for something more sophisticated with a heavy reliance on automation, then be prepared to spend $600 or more.

Singer says paying more does not guarantee the quality of your food. Your total process is more influential than the price of your smoker.

What is the difference between a horizontal/off-set and vertical smoker?

Singer says vertical smokers are smaller, more portable and can operate by wood, electric or gas. They can range in price from under $50 to around $400 and are simple to use, with fuel on the bottom and meat on racks above.

On the other hand, horizontal/off-set smokers have the firebox on the side and the meat goes into a separate chamber next to the firebox. Singer says horizontal smokers are much heavier and not as portable, however.

Ultimately, Singer says if you have very limited outdoor space to place your equipment, a vertical smoker is the way to go.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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