Christopher T. Hanna
 
Christopher T. Hanna
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown, PA 18104
Phone: 610-704-8316
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Fax: 267-354-6842
channa@remaxcentralinc.com
 
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Pre-Boomers Happy with Homeowners Insurance, Gen Y Most Critical

September 29, 2014 1:31 am

According to the recently released J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Household Insurance Study, satisfaction with homeowners insurance is highest among Pre-Boomers, or those born before 1946. Gen Y consumers, or Millennials, who comprise the largest group of homebuyers in the United States, are more critical of their homeowners insurance than any other generational group.

Gen Y consumers expressed the most concern with interactions with service providers and claims processing.

“Millennials are a critical demographic for insurance companies, given that they are the largest group of homebuyers and renters,” said Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power. “Insurers in one or both of these product categories need to pay very close attention to Millennials, evaluate the usability of their website and find new ways to communicate with customers, such as through the use of email, apps and online chat.”

Insurers that are most successful in understanding and meeting the expectations of Gen Y customers have a higher rate of executing on the following service practices than insurers less successful in understanding Gen Y needs: informing customers of other products and services; providing access to policy information online; ensuring complete understanding of the bill; limiting bill errors; resolving issues in one contact; and limiting customer-reported problems.

“In short, insurers benefit from ensuring that their Gen Y customers are well informed, and that there are no issues or problems in servicing their policy,” said Monet. The study also revealed:
  • Overall customer satisfaction with homeowner insurers is up since 2013, increasing 3 points on a 1,000-point scale. This increase is driven largely by an improvement in price factor.
  • Sixty percent of customers indicate their homeowners insurance premiums have remained the same during the past 12 months, up from 58 percent in 2013.
  • The proportion of customers who experience an insurer-initiated premium increase dropped slightly to 29 percent in 2014 from 30 percent in 2013.
Conversely, satisfaction with renters insurance is highest among Boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964. Echoing similar sentiments, Gen Y is also the most critical of renters insurance.

Source: J.D. Power

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Dress Up Your Home with a Chandelier

September 29, 2014 1:31 am

Twenty years ago, a chandelier was a sure thing in two rooms in the home – the foyer and dining room. Homeowners today have extended those parameters, using chandeliers as statement-making additions to everything from bedrooms to closets. What’s influencing this trend?

“The two-story foyer is essentially disappearing from new architecture,” says Jeff Dross, Corporate Director of Education and Industry Trends with Kichler Lighting. Pendants are making inroads into dining rooms, too, so chandelier use is naturally migrating to other spaces.

Where homeowners spend most of their time has changed, too. Master bedrooms with expansive vaulted ceilings have turned into mini living environments to accommodate relaxing and reading. Bathrooms have become larger, and guest areas are not just throwaway spaces anymore. It is that switch from pure function to aesthetics that is also driving the appearance of chandeliers in unexpected places.

While chandeliers come in a range of styles, sizes and colors, the functions of chandeliers have certain commonalities. Their height and structure naturally pulls the eye up and around a room, creating movement. Color or crystals can add visual interest, as can the mix of materials that make up the arms of a fixture.

“The illuminated candles and brilliant sparkle of crystal chandeliers provide multiple light points and create a vivid, less static environment,” says Mike Hadank, Director Retail Sales of North America, Swarovski Lighting. “Chandeliers add a sense of elegance and mood to any space.”

The American Lighting Association suggests that homeowners remember these two points when installing a chandelier:
  • Don’t hang the chandelier too high. “People will hang it a mile from the table,” says Dross. A rule of thumb: Keep it about 30 inches from the bottom of the chandelier to the top of the table.
  • Scale up the chandelier size for the dining room. Dross recommends a chandelier that is slightly oversized in a dining room. “It fills the space a little better when it is a touch larger. If it’s a pipsqueak-size chandelier, it loses its impact. If you really like a small chandelier, put in two of them.”
When it comes to design, Dross is seeing an upswing in contemporary styles as Generation X and Y consumers move into their own homes and work on their own renovations, as well as Baby Boomers looking to redo their own decorating styles. As oversize furniture becomes less popular, the scale of contemporary chandeliers works better for newly streamlined spaces.

Source: ALA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Lost Phone? 8 Ways to Prevent Financial Risks

September 26, 2014 1:31 am

On average, an individual loses his or her cell phone at least once a year. In the U.S., 113 cell phones are lost every minute. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and mobile security firm Lookout, lost phones pose risks financially – 51 percent of smartphone users log in to mobile banking. In the hands of hackers, your billing address may change, your funds may be transferred out of your account, or your account may even be cancelled.

The FCC and Lookout recommend taking the following steps to protect your finances.

Before losing your phone

  • Set up a pin or passcode to keep your phone locked at all times.
  • Include contact information on the phone’s lock screen.
  • Install antitheft software with a GPS tracker, remote wiping system and alarm.
  • Keep a record of the device’s make, model number, serial number and IMEI or MEID number.
After losing your phone
  • Activate antitheft software immediately.
  • Contact your mobile provider to cut off access.
  • Monitor financial accounts for any unusual changes.
  • File a police report, if theft is suspected.
Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Sustainability and Functionality Key Décor Trends in 2015

September 26, 2014 1:31 am

Décor trends in 2015 favor functionality, with designers turning to self-renewing materials that are both stylish and environmentally friendly. Looking towards the new year, celebrity designer Vern Yip lists these six trends to watch.

1. View the floor as an extension of the living space. Opt for materials that are both stylish and comfortable, such as cork flooring. Warm, soft on the feet and eco-friendly, cork's natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for "on-the-floor living.”

2. In open concept homes, mix and match old with new, high with low or light with dark. Using timeless and resilient materials, or those that can be used and reused, allows homeowners to be eclectic and bold.

3. Geometrical and angular designs are making a comeback. Think of zigzag, herringbone or chevron patterns to bring mid century flair back into your home.

4. Living outdoors is a great way of maximizing living space. Make it cozy with pillow, tiki lights or a bonfire pit. In cold temperatures, use heat lamps positioned around the border of the patio.

5. Look at the floor, which is a home's largest surface area, as a canvas. It offers ample opportunities to add visual interest and achieve a unique look. Think about combining textures and colors. Create a pattern of alternating colors and grains.

6. Break away from a sea of neutrals. Replace old pillow covers, throws or lampshades to reflect the hues and tones of the season. Or, create an accent wall with a printed wallpaper or painted design. Do keep your larger items white or neutral, so that you can easily mix and match seasonal colors with permanent pieces.

"The variety of stylish product choices available to today's environmentally-conscious consumers is remarkable," says Yip. He points to the many color choices of no-VOC paint, new agave plant and sisal fiber area rugs as great examples of the intersection between style, functionality and environmental responsibility.

Source: APCOR

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Hidden Clutter Caches in Your Home

September 26, 2014 1:31 am

Did you know that clutter can accumulate even in the neatest of homes? Families with minimal clutter can benefit from de-cluttering in unexpected spaces. In fact, storage solutions often amass the most unnecessary items, becoming a seemingly organized catch-all.

Consider removing clutter from these storage areas around the home.

Filing Cabinets
– While an effective filing system is necessary for saving important documents, take time periodically to remove papers that you are no longer required to keep.

Pantries – Once a month, clear your pantry of expired food products, specialty items you no longer have use for, or non-expired items you want to donate.

Bookshelves – Avid readers have difficulty letting go of books. Scan your bookcase for a few books each year that you might lend to friends or donate. Pack away or donate collections you are not actively adding to.

Computers
– Digital storage is one of the biggest culprits of clutter. Condense or delete unnecessary folders and files to free up cyberspace.

Source: Unclutterer.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Raise Money-Wise Kids

September 25, 2014 1:31 am

Kids are never too young to learn the skills of saving, budgeting, and other basics for becoming a money-wise individual.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by T. Rowe Price found that 60 percent of kids whose parents frequently talk to them about budgeting feel they are smart about money, as opposed to just 34 percent of kids whose parents do not.

Financial experts agree that the sooner parents start imparting key money concepts, the more effective they will be in raising financially responsible adults. While it may seem like an involved topic, it's as simple as starting a conversation.

"There is a clear correlation between talking with kids about financial topics and their habits," said Judith Ward, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price. "Parents can invest in their kids by talking to them weekly about money matters."

The survey also found that parents are having more financial conversations with boys rather than girls.

"Boys and girls should have the same opportunities to learn about money matters at home so they can grow into financially savvy adults," Ward says. "By talking to kids of either gender about things like saving for college, parents can help kids get involved and excited about their future."

How can parents start the conversation? First, learn to engage in frequent money conversations with your kids. While you can sit down to discuss in a formal manner, casual dialog may be more effective and memorable. From trips to the grocery store to a visit to your neighborhood bank, there are plenty of real-world situations where you can teach your kids about spending, saving, and other money concepts.

Ward offers these tips to help parents initiate conversation:
  • When discussing weekend plans: When your kids plan for weekend fun with friends, ask them how much the activities will cost. Find out if they have budgeted for these expenses and if they are saving for any other upcoming events.
  • When talking about their future: Ask your child what they wish to be when they grow up. This is a great opportunity to talk about what kind of college degree may be required for the profession, how much getting the degree can cost, and the need to save for it in advance.
  • When talking about extracurricular activities: When talking about extra activities like soccer, dance, karate, piano lessons and others, talk with your kids about the cost of each. Help them understand that all of these add up to a lot of money, so they can help you save by only doing the ones they really enjoy.
Use these simple tips to help integrate money conversations into your daily lives -- your kids will thank you.

Source: T. Rowe Price

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Millennials Maintain Homeownership Goals

September 25, 2014 1:31 am

A recent survey of younger Americans illustrates that the goal of homeownership remains an important part of the American Dream.

The economic future of Millennials is key to the future of housing demand. A record number of individuals aged 18 to 34 years are delaying household formation as a consequence of the Great Recession. We referred to this situation as the ‘Great Delay,’ as slow wage growth and rising student loan burdens have reduced attainment of traditional goals associated with the American Dream, including marriage and homeownership.

An important research question is whether these delays represent deferrals due to economic conditions or true changes in preferences and goals.

A recent survey from the Demand Institute provides new evidence. The study surveyed 1,000 18 to 29 year olds about current conditions and market preferences. The findings indicate that homeownership remains an important long-term goal.

Among the findings for Millennials:
  • Over the next 5 years, 8.3 million new Millennial households will form.
  • Seventy-four percent plan to move over the next five years, with the top reason being need for better housing.
  • Sixty-four percent expect to be married in five years and 55 percent expect to have kids.
  • Seventy-five percent believe homeownership is an important long-term goal and 73 percent believe ownership is an excellent investment.
  • Twenty-four percent currently own a home and another sixty percent plan to purchase.
  • Thirty-six percent expect their next home to be a multifamily rental, while another 36 percent expect it to be a single-family owner-occupied residence.
  • Forty-eight percent prefer their next home to be in the suburbs, while 38 percent want urban locations.
  • Eighty-eight percent own a car.
  • Student loans do delay homeownership (but college raises lifetime incomes).
  • Forty-four percent think it will be difficult to qualify for a mortgage.
Source: NAHB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Your Mortgage Data from Hackers

September 25, 2014 1:31 am

Because they’re part of the financial industry, mortgage lending sites have the benefit of regulation that extends to online cyber security. Though mortgage websites are more secure than others, homeowners must still take steps to ensure their mortgage documents remain inaccessible to hackers. Research a lender thoroughly before handing over any personal information, and confirm that their website is secure by considering these qualifications.
1. Is the site securely connected? The best indicator of a secure connection is the ‘https’ URL and lock symbol beside it. If a pop-up warning arises, don’t ignore it.

2. Does the site require a password? Make sure the password prompt requires a strong code with combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

3. Does the site offer an alternative message form? Seek out another form of communicating with your lender other than email.

4. Has the lender informed you of their security measures? If not, ask. You will be able to gauge whether or not security is a priority for them by their response.
Once you’ve evaluated a website for security clearance, continue to view credit reports throughout the year to find evidence of identity theft, especially if you have a new mortgage. Be aware that while some information will be public record (address, purchase price, etc.), sensitive data such as a Social Security number and tax returns should always remain between you and the lender.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seasonal Home Decor: 5 Fall Trends

September 24, 2014 1:31 am

With fall in full swing, homeowners should take time to transition from summertime decor to autumnal accents throughout the home. Usher in the change of seasons by pairing these trends with rich, saturated colors.
  • Go natural. Natural and organic patterns are a big trend this fall -- add branch-patterned textiles and wall coverings for a dose of whimsy. A swirled or marbleized pattern is also popular and works well on accent pillows or bedding. For an unexpected twist, try an oversized natural organic print painted onto a dining room wall. For a crisp, monochromatic look, paint the design in two shades of the same color.
  • Glamour-ize. Try changing out the hardware on an accent chest or dresser, or hang a fun light fixture in an office, powder room or bedroom in a gold finish. It's okay to mix finishes in this case -- gold blends nicely with bronze and black finishes used elsewhere in the home.
  • Create coziness. Cooler weather encourages the transition from sleek and modern kitchens to a more cozy, relaxed feel for the space. Add décor and accessories created from reclaimed wood for a warm, rustic space this season.
  • Add sparkle. Large mirrors and mirrored surfaces add depth and interest to any space. Use a leaning floor mirror in a dining room, a large round mirror over a fireplace or entry console, or a large hanging mirror in a small space to reflect light and make a space appear larger. For a real wow factor, use a collection of vintage mirrors along a hallway or staircase to create a striking gallery display.
  • Mix it up. Avoid matching and coordinating sets, décor and fabrics. Bring in a mix of styles, old and new, and crisp and soft. This will make your home look lived in and add a designer touch.
Source: Ace Hardware

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Traveling in 2015? Here's What You Can Expect

September 24, 2014 1:31 am

Planning ahead is always a wise travel move, and it's certainly not too early to start thinking about making plans for 2015. Before booking their next trip, travelers should consider the travel industry trends that will shape 2015 so they can make the most enjoyable and cost-effective travel decisions. Keep in mind these 10 upcoming travel trends.

1. Rates and occupancy levels will be higher, especially in major cities and upscale hotels, due to the recovering economy. Do your research to find deals on higher-end hotels, and of course book early.

2. Travelers going to Europe will increase as Americans start spending more again on travel, and inter-Europe travel also rises. Look at traveling to Europe during the off seasons of 2015 for the best deals.

3. The one trend that doesn't change is booking in advance. Promotions to encourage early bookings will grow. Hotels use these to sell rooms by offering deals that are valid for just a few hours, typically for stays anytime.

4. Specialty vacations will continue to increase and become much more mainstream. Consumers are looking to blend their interests and activities with their travels, and vacations that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/yoga/health will see big growth in 2015.

5. Similarly to other industries, companies will find ways to make travel and travel offers more personalized for individuals. Vendors in 2015 will try to match their offers to consumers' specific needs and wants, which creates a win-win where travelers are more likely to enjoy their trips, and vendors make more sales.

6. There will be more ways to book travel in 2015, including unpublished rate programs.

7. From purchasing rooms and airfare to mobile-based check-ins, the industry will shift to allow consumers to be more in charge. This means mobile functions as well as automation, such as replacing room service with 24/7 grab-and-go options and self-luggage check in.

8. Mobile dominates travel. Airlines and hotel operators will have to accommodate the desires of mobile travelers who expect to be able to complete bookings through apps, pull boarding passes, and perform nearly any other function. Easier access to charging will also need to be addressed.

9. Value will be a focus for leisure travelers. Consumers always want to feel like they are receiving good value for their money. This doesn't always mean rock bottom pricing, but includes other aspects such as location, amenities, convenience and more.

10. A trend that combines the need for mobile-friendly travel with "value" is for hotels to offer free (and fast) Wi-Fi. Travelers simply expect to be connected whenever they are at a hotel, and free Wi-Fi can be more important than any other amenity. It's one of the most requested hotel perks, and hotel review sites are filled with notes about Wi-Fi (or lack thereof).

Source: GetaRoom.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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