The 5 Dirtiest Things You Touch Every Day

E.coli bacteria

It’s had to find a germ researcher who doesn’t recommend eating off a toilet seat. “Everyone’s afraid of butt-borne diseases, but toilet seats tend to be the cleanest thing in the bathroom because we clean them so often,” says Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona.

Of course, Gerba and others who study the filthiest parts of your kitchen, bathroom, workspace, car and body don’t actually think you should serve your next meal on the throne. But if you’re wondering which everyday items are the germiest, he says it helps to think about those objects or places you ignore when you break out your mop and disinfectant.

One example: The hand-towel hanging next to your bathroom sink. “Bacteria like to grow in wet, moist conditions,” Gerba explains. Towels are made to absorb water, which is great for drying your skin, but not so great when it comes to discouraging bacterial incubation. “Most people don’t wash their hands properly,” he says. So when you grab that towel, you’re rubbing bacteria into an ideal growing environment—and one few people bother to wash more than once every week or two. You should be washing all towels—including the one you grab after showering—after two days of use, he says.

Another bathroom reservoir of germs is your toothbrush holder. “People never clean them,” Gerba says. A 2011 report from the public health organization NSF International found 27% of toothbrush holders were home to Coliform bacteria—a sickness-causing family of microorganism that includes Salmonella and E. coli.

In the kitchen, your trusty sink sponge is health enemy number one. In fact, that sponge is likely the dirtiest item in your home, Gerba says. “It’s probably home to hundreds of millions of bacteria,” he says. NSF agrees. Its researchers found that 75% of home dish sponges and rags contained Coliform.

You want a kitchen cleaning tool you can throw into the dishwasher to disinfect—like a brush, Gerba says. The same goes for cutting boards. “Most people just rinse or wipe them off,” he says. But only a run through the dishwasher—or a good scrub with dish soap—will get it clean.

When it comes to the items you touch most, Gerba says your cell phone is a big bacteria haven. Studies have found that one in six phones is contaminated with fecal matter, even though a simple swab with a disinfectant wipe is enough to clear away that icky residue.

Finally, when you’re out of your home, watch out for supermarket carts. “Almost 100% of them are home to E. coli because people are constantly touching the handles after holding raw food products,” Gerba explains. He says reusable grocery bags are also pretty nasty—again, because people rarely wash them.

While dozens of other everyday items could make this list—shoelaces, purses, car keys, keyboards, etc.—don’t run out and buy a lot of chemical-ridden cleaners. For one thing, many of them don’t work. For another, many contain substances that are linked to cancer and other health concerns.

Instead, worry about disinfecting your hands when you leave a public space. Gerba says most people pick up dangerous germs when they’re away from home. By simply rubbing on a hand sanitizer or washing your hands the moment you walk into the house, you’d probably cut your odds of catching something in half, he says.

Claire Richards Realty Group

CLAIRE RICHARDS ASSOC. BROKER & REALTOR

KARL ZIMMER REALTOR

610.256.278

West Chester Nominated as ‘Greatest Main Street in America’

Does West Chester have the greatest downtown in the United States?

WEST CHESTER, PA — As natives have been saying forever, West Chester’s downtown area is pretty unbeatable. It combines the history and quaintness of a small country town with the restaurants and nightlife of a major city. It’s walkable, diverse, and it’s only getting bigger. Now, it looks like the rest of the country is starting to take notice.

The borough has recently been nominated as one of ten semifinalists in the 2017 Great American Main Street Award.

West Chester was nominated alongside Berlin, Maryland, Cedar Rapids, Iowa., Chillicothe, Missouri, Columbus, Georgia, Covington, Kentucky, Goldsboro, North Carolina, Los Alamos, New Mexico, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Wausau, Wisconsin.

“The Great American Main Street Award is the highest recognition given out by the National Main Street Center. Each year, we celebrate exceptional Main Street America organizations for their work in creating more economically, socially, and culturally vibrant commercial districts,” said Patrice Frey, the Center’s President and CEO, in a statement. “This year’s winners are truly at the forefront of commercial district revitalization. They are a testament to the power of the Main Street Approach, and the great potential of downtown districts in cities and towns across the country.”

In their nomination of West Chester, the Center noted the borough’s creation of 241 new businesses over the last 16 years. They also noted West Chester’s winning of the Best New Shopping District award from Philadelphia Magazine and the Distinctive Destination award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Winners will be named this May at the Main Street Now Conference in Pittsburgh.

Claire Richards Realty Group

CLAIRE RICHARDS ASSOC. BROKER & REALTOR

KARL ZIMMER REALTOR

610.256.2780

 

4 New Year’s Home Resolutions That Can Save You Big Money

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If your New Year’s resolutions include saving money, we’ve got four great ways for you to achieve your goals

 

Refinance

If you haven’t yet refinanced your mortgage or home equity loan to take advantage of today’s low interest rates, there’s still time to lock in a great deal. If your current mortgages exceed your home’s value, you may still be able to refinance using one of the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Change Your Furnace Filters

New Year’s resolutions don’t get much easier than vowing to change your HVAC filter once a month to increase your furnace’s life span. To make this task easy, buy 12 filters and store them in the furnace room so they’re at hand when you need them. Put a reminder on your calendar, or tie this chore to another monthly chore, like paying your household bills, so you remember to do it each month.

Seal Those Home Air Leaks 

Sealing the air leaks in your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut your utility bills. Check to make sure your windows are caulked around the outside of the trim on the inside, and outside, of your home. Use foam to fill large gaps where the plumbing, electric or cable comes in the house.

Shop Your Insurance Policies

Yes, it’s a bother to shop for insurance, but if you haven’t checked what’s out there lately, you may be overpaying. The easiest way to get this chore done is to delegate. Copy the declarations pages from your current home, auto, life and umbrella policies, and ask an independent insurance agent to look for a better overall deal for you. Look for bundles …

You can also visit your current agent, or call your insurance company and ask for an annual review to make sure you’ve got the right coverage and are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.

If you need a referral to a good insurance agent, mortgage loan officer or home handy person, please contact me.  I have some great ones.

Thanks for listening.

Claire Richards Realty Group

Claire Richards  ~ Assoc. BROKER & REALTOR

Karl Zimmer ~ REALTOR

610.256.2780

Chester County, 4th Among Happiest Places In USA

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The county is the 4th happiest place in the entire nation, according to SmartAsset, the financial advising company that executed the research.

Chester County is the highest-income county in Pennsylvania, according to SmartAsset.

It boasts an income ratio of 2.3, which means the median income is more than twice the cost of living. In addition, Chester County has an average life expectancy over 80 years.

The happiest counties were shown to be on the East Coast; overall, 7 of the top 10 counties came from the Mid-Atlantic region.

happiest

Their methodology focused on metrics like life expectancy, physical activity rate, income ratio, cost of living, living wage, and divorce rates and marriage rates.

It’s not the first time Chester County landed in the study’s top 10. In 2015, the same study named Chester County the 6th happiest place in the nation.

Neighboring Montgomery County was the only other county in Pennsylvania to sneak onto the top 25 list, coming in at 23.

Now, don’t we feel better?!  Guess we will have to try more to get to number 1.

Thanks for listening.

CLAIRE RICHARDS REALTY GROUP

Claire Richards Assoc. BROKER & REALTOR  and  Karl Zimmer REALTOR

 

 

10 Tips for a Fool-Proof Thanksgiving

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Here’s how to deal with those Thanksgiving nightmares — including that still-frozen turkey, burned pie and lumpy gravy — that can jeopardize the big feast. Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-how-tos/10-expert-fixes-for-common-thanksgiving-fails.html?oc=linkback

Of course before we break bread with our loved ones. let’s all give thanks for our friends, family and country. Remember, all it takes is L O V E.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Claire Richards Real Estate Group


 

Millenials: Rich on Paper, Renters by Choice

malenials-2Owning one’s home has long been regarded as the epitome of success, but Zillow Group has found a surprising trend: Many people are choosing to rent despite having the resources to buy.

Across the country’s largest markets, 13.6 percent of active rental shoppers have strong credit scores (+700) and relatively high incomes, and 13.8 percent could afford to buy the median home in their market. Yet as the homeownership rate declined over the past decade, more Americans — from all social and economic backgrounds — have found their way into the rental market and stayed, and the numbers include many who can likely afford to buy a home but choose not to take the leap.

Three primary reasons might be driving this trend.

  1. Millennials are biding their time

Young adults are waiting longer to get married and have children, so purchasing a home is also farther down their list, even though 65 percent of people 18–34 years old — millennials — said homeownership is part of their American dream.

“I think millennials prefer to spend their money on other things than a mortgage, like travel and having experiences,” observed Chelsea Landon, a marketing specialist for Pacific Living Properties. “Sometimes we hear from renters that they want to buy in the near future, but for where they are in their lives right now, the renting lifestyle works for them.”

2. Jobs are there, but aren’t always a sure thing

Healthy job markets in many of the top metros continue to attract renters, but some of those people — young adults — might be choosing to rent because permanent employment isn’t necessarily guaranteed.

lack of inventory might also be driving people to choose renting over buying. Areas that have the most qualified renters also have the fewest homes for sale. Seattle’s inventory of entry-level homes was down 9.9 percent from August 2015 to August 2016; San Francisco had 8.8 percent fewer homes. Overall, U.S. inventory of entry-level homes is down 5.4 percent in the same time frame.

3. The rental lifestyle fits

Landon points out that many younger renters might choose to rent because it allows them to have a lifestyle and amenities they might not be able to afford if they purchased a home.

“It’s about the right location, the maintenance team that knows everybody, the management team that hosts activities,” Landon remarked. “We attract and retain renters in part because we’re providing services they couldn’t necessarily get if they owned their own home.”

At the same time, Landon has observed a trend of Gen Xers and boomers opting to sell their homes and take up the renting lifestyle as well.

“Empty nesters come back into the rental market looking for walkable locations,” she explained. “They also sell their homes looking to leave behind the responsibilities of being a homeowner, and maybe crave the flexibility to travel more often.”

Economics can certainly factor into the decision to rent a home instead of purchasing one — the combination of a healthy credit score and a high income doesn’t necessarily equal the ability to pony up a down payment — but it might also come down to renters simply making a lifestyle choice.

4. Millenials: Rich on Paper, Renters by Choice

Owning one’s home has long been regarded as the epitome of success, but Zillow Group has found a surprising trend: Many people are choosing to rent despite having the resources to buy. Across the country’s largest markets, 13.6 percent of active rental shoppers have strong credit scores (+700) and relatively high incomes, and 13.8 percent could afford to buy the median home in their market. Yet as the homeownership rate declined over the past decade, more Americans — from all social and economic backgrounds — have found their way into the rental market and stayed, and the numbers include many who can likely afford to buy a home but choose not to take the leap.

Three primary reasons might be driving this trend.

5.  Millennials are biding their time

Young adults are waiting longer to get married and have children, so purchasing a home is also farther down their list, even though 65 percent of people 18–34 years old — millennials — said homeownership is part of their American dream.

“I think millennials prefer to spend their money on other things than a mortgage, like travel and having experiences,” observed Chelsea Landon, a marketing specialist for Pacific Living Properties. “Sometimes we hear from renters that they want to buy in the near future, but for where they are in their lives right now, the renting lifestyle works for them.”

6. Jobs are there, but aren’t always a sure thing

Healthy job markets in many of the top metros continue to attract renters, but some of those people — young adults — might be choosing to rent because permanent employment isn’t necessarily guaranteed.

lack of inventory might also be driving people to choose renting over buying. Areas that have the most qualified renters also have the fewest homes for sale. Seattle’s inventory of entry-level homes was down 9.9 percent from August 2015 to August 2016; San Francisco had 8.8 percent fewer homes. Overall, U.S. inventory of entry-level homes is down 5.4 percent in the same time frame.

7. The rental lifestyle fits

Landon points out that many younger renters might choose to rent because it allows them to have a lifestyle and amenities they might not be able to afford if they purchased a home.

“It’s about the right location, the maintenance team that knows everybody, the management team that hosts activities,” Landon remarked. “We attract and retain renters in part because we’re providing services they couldn’t necessarily get if they owned their own home.”

At the same time, Landon has observed a trend of Gen Xers and boomers opting to sell their homes and take up the renting lifestyle as well.

“Empty nesters come back into the rental market looking for walkable locations,” she explained. “They also sell their homes looking to leave behind the responsibilities of being a homeowner, and maybe crave the flexibility to travel more often.”

Economics can certainly factor into the decision to rent a home instead of purchasing one — the combination of a healthy credit score and a high income doesn’t necessarily equal the ability to pony up a down payment — but it might also come down to renters simply making a lifestyle choice.

Thank you for listening.  Call Claire and Karl at 610.256.2780 for all of your rel estate needs.

 

5 Ground Rules for Home Buying Success

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There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home.  Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing your home and your life after the kids have gone, it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Making the wrong decision in buying a home can have devastating and long lasting effects, while making a wise decision in home buying can greatly enhance the overall value of the investment.  It is necessary to learn all you can about the world of home buying and mortgages before setting out to purchase the home of your dreams.

While there are plenty of web sites designed to help first time homeowners learn all they can, most financial experts say that there is no substitute for the good old one-on-one learning. Fortunately, most mortgage lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents will be able to provide this kind of one-on-one learning.

When buying a home it is often best to use a systematic approach as this is often the best way to be sure that all decisions are based on information and reason, not on impulse or emotion.  Buying a home can be an emotional process, nevertheless it is imperative to keep your emotions under control and not let them cloud your judgment.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

 Get your financing before you get your home

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding.  While the desire to get out there are search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gaining more respect from the listing agents.  By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

Look at the community, not just the home

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

Be fair with your first offer

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

Always get a home inspection

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

 Do not alienate the sellers of the home

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller.  It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale

Keeping the good will of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

Claire and Karl can help you understand and find your dream home.  Call them today at 610.256.2780 and thanks for listening.

 

Claire Richards Assoc. BROKER & REALTOR  

Karl Zimmer REALTOR

 

Single Women Kick Butt in the Housing Market

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Over the past 12 months, single women made up 17 percent of all homebuyers , purchasing at twice the rate of their single male counterparts, according to a new annual report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Furthermore, 2016 research from MGIC Connects shows single women representing the second largest home buying group, right behind married couples. This is even more impressive when you consider wage inequality, which is still a country-wide issue. In 2015, women made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men working a comparable job – a gender wage gap of a shocking 20 percent.

So, women are kicking butt in the housing market. But who are these ladies? According to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Buyers & Sellers Report, the median age of the single female buyer is 32 years old, and their median income is $49,000. But it’s not just 30-something ladies purchasing their homes solo, but baby boomers, divorced and out on their own, or downsizing from a family home they no longer need.

Related: How Single Women Are Changing the Home Buying Market

Unfortunately, all this forward movement for female homebuyers doesn’t come without the occasional stigma. A 2016 RealtyTrac study found that homes owned by single men are valued 10 percent higher, on average, than homes owned by single women. At the time of the study, the value of homes owned by single men averaged $255,226 – 10 percent above the $229,094 average of homes owned by single women. Womp womp.

According to the RealtyTrac study, the following markets have the largest percentage of housing inequality, with homes owned by men trumping value of those owned by women:

  • District of Columbia: 14% higher
  • Florida: 12% higher
  • West Virginia: 12% higher
  • Wisconsin: 12% higher
  • Texas: 10% higher
  • Alabama: 10% higher

Despite this, three states kick the gender gap in its numerical butt, with the average value of homes owned by single women ranking higher than those owned by single men. These gems are:

  • Massachusetts: 11% higher
  • Kentucky: 2% higher
  • Kansas: 1% higher

What’s in store for the future of female-owned housing? When you consider the consistent rise in the educated woman (meaning higher-paying jobs and more opportunities), well, things are looking pretty peachy.

Call Claire or Karl today 610.256.2780 for your personal, no obligation, consultation

Claire Richards Assoc. BROKER & REALTOR

Karl Zimmer REALTOR

Single Women Kick Butt in the Housing Market

women-single

Over the past 12 months, single women made up 17 percent of all homebuyers , purchasing at twice the rate of their single male counterparts, according to a new annual report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Furthermore, 2016 research from MGIC Connects shows single women representing the second largest home buying group, right behind married couples. This is even more impressive when you consider wage inequality, which is still a country-wide issue. In 2015, women made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men working a comparable job – a gender wage gap of a shocking 20 percent.

So, women are kicking butt in the housing market. But who are these ladies? According to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Buyers & Sellers Report, the median age of the single female buyer is 32 years old, and their median income is $49,000. But it’s not just 30-something ladies purchasing their homes solo, but baby boomers, divorced and out on their own, or downsizing from a family home they no longer need.

Related: How Single Women Are Changing the Home Buying Market

Unfortunately, all this forward movement for female homebuyers doesn’t come without the occasional stigma. A 2016 RealtyTrac study found that homes owned by single men are valued 10 percent higher, on average, than homes owned by single women. At the time of the study, the value of homes owned by single men averaged $255,226 – 10 percent above the $229,094 average of homes owned by single women. Womp womp.

According to the RealtyTrac study, the following markets have the largest percentage of housing inequality, with homes owned by men trumping value of those owned by women:

  • District of Columbia: 14% higher
  • Florida: 12% higher
  • West Virginia: 12% higher
  • Wisconsin: 12% higher
  • Texas: 10% higher
  • Alabama: 10% higher

Despite this, three states kick the gender gap in its numerical butt, with the average value of homes owned by single women ranking higher than those owned by single men. These gems are:

  • Massachusetts: 11% higher
  • Kentucky: 2% higher
  • Kansas: 1% higher

What’s in store for the future of female-owned housing? When you consider the consistent rise in the educated woman (meaning higher-paying jobs and more opportunities), well, things are looking pretty peachy.

Call Claire or Karl today 610.256.2780 for your personal, no obligation, consultation.

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