Monthly Archives: May 2016

Renovating? The Type of Project Matters

Homeowners undertaking a renovation may either reap rewards come resale, or regrettably find themselves in the red. The latter, says Scott Robinson, president of the Appraisal Institute, is more likely—somewhat.

“Home improvement projects are not necessarily investments in which a homeowner should expect a dollar-for-dollar return,” explains Robinson, who oversees the nation’s largest association of real estate appraisers. “Rather, these projects can increase the likelihood of a sale, or that a property will be comparable to other properties in a neighborhood.”

Robinson advises renovators to consider if the improvement is in keeping within what’s standard in the community.

“Projects that take a home significantly beyond community norms are often not worth the cost when the owner sells the home,” Robinson says. “If the improvements don’t match what’s standard in a community, they’ll be considered excessive.”

Robinson notes renovators may find it best to hold off on large-scale projects if they’re unsure of how long they’ll be in their home. Generally, the longer a homeowner stays in a home, the greater the opportunity for a return on investment.

A real estate appraiser can conduct a feasibility study, which offers an unbiased analysis of what the home would be worth before and after a project. During the study, the appraiser will analyze the property, weigh the cost of rehabilitation, and provide an estimate of the property’s value before and after the improvement.

Currently, the projects with the highest expected return on investment (ROI) are attic insulation, manufactured stone veneer and a garage door replacement, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Other projects with potential payoffs are an entry door replacement and a minor kitchen remodel.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Five Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

If you are anything like me, you look a the lawn mower and just hope it magically starts… when it does not respond to mind control, I close my eyes and pull the cord as hard as a can and home the drat thing does not take off without me!  This article is perfect for all levels of lawn mower users… and even if you cannot change the oil yourself, you will at least know when to find someone to change it for you!

The lawn mower is the workhorse when it comes to outdoor maintenance. To keep your machine in working order all season long, continued care is essential. One of the most important maintenance tasks is changing the mower’s oil, say the experts at Briggs & Stratton, an outdoor power equipment provider. Oil from the previous season may be mixed with grass and other debris, inhibiting its use and the machine’s overall performance. Generally, oil should be changed at least once a year, or after 50 hours of operation for a push mower and after 100 hours of operation for a ride mower.

Most homeowners can conduct an oil change for a push mower in less than 15 minutes—a significant savings compared to having it serviced by a professional. The steps:

  1. To allow oil to drain more easily, run the engine for a short time to warm it up.
  2. Shut the engine off and disconnect the spark plug. Remove the oil fill cap or dipstick, and place a pan (or other container) under the oil fill. Tip the mower on its side, with the air filter side facing up and the oil fill facing down, to drain the oil.
  3. Once oil has been collected, fill the mower with new oil. Pour in an amount (and specific type) recommended by the manufacturer; this information can be found in the operator’s manual. Screw the oil fill cap back into place, and wipe up any drips with a rag or towel.
  4. The oil may also be changed using the oil drain, which is located on the underside of the mower deck. Consult the operator’s manual for instructions specific to the mower.
  5. For a ride mower, unscrew the plug from the drain funnel located at the bottom of the engine, and let the old oil flow through the hose into a pan or bucket.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Gala Proves the Power of Partnership in Helping Our Nation’s Defenders

PenFed Foundation Joins Forces with Key Partners To Present Awards and Dedicate Resources

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 12, 2016—In a remarkable and inspirational display of unity and patriotism among government, business and community leaders, the PenFed Foundation honored veterans and their families last night at its annual Night of Heroes Gala.

Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg at the PenFed Foundation’s Night of Heroes Gala.

Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg at the PenFed Foundation’s Night of Heroes Gala.

Among the top honorees were Julie Keys, who accepted the Hero at Home award from her son, retired Army Staff Sgt. Adam Keys, and Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who was presented with the foundation’s Military Hero Award.

“I’m very pleased and proud that the PenFed Foundation could play a role in organizing the gala and honoring the award recipients,” said Foundation President and CEO James Schenck. “But it’s important to remember that this event is the result of a profoundly unified effort by many key partners and numerous volunteers. We could never have done this without the generosity and support of our corporate sponsors, local benefactors and dedicated Soldiers and veterans. It’s a dynamic and heartfelt example of what disparate groups can accomplish by joining forces and working together to reach a common and extremely important goal.”

That goal, Schenck said, is to actively and aggressively help military community members secure their financial future by providing active duty military, veterans and their families with the resources they need to improve their lives through programs covering a wide range of financially oriented issues.

The black-tie event—which was planned, organized and executed by a group consisting of 90 percent volunteers—drew 600 military, government and industry leaders nationwide. Nearly every dollar of the record breaking $1.25 million raised last night will go towards helping service members and their caregivers to find the financial security they so thoroughly deserve.

In his remarks, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert McDonald, stressed the role the VA’s partnership with the PenFed Foundation will play in reaching his goal to enhance service at the VA. “Integrating best practices from private industry can help us reach our goal to make the VA number one for customer service. And we are working closer than ever with the PenFed Foundation.”

Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Deborah Lee James thanked the PenFed Foundation for leadership in serving wounded warriors, promoting financial literacy and filling in the gaps in government coverage. “Whether its providing interest-free emergency loans, or support for wounded veterans and their families, helping to purchase a home or free lodging for veterans undergoing treatment at the VA in Palo Alto, California, PenFed has been there,” she said. The evening’s honorees were recognized for their service and sacrifice at home, in the community, and for the nation.

Julie Keys spent more than five years living in a hotel in order to be near Staff Sgt. Keys as he endured multiple surgeries while recovering from wounds received in combat. “I just did what I had to do—what we all would do,” she said. Summing up her tenacity as an advocate for her son, she said, “He’s my child, and I will fight you to give him the very best that you can give him.”

Groberg, reflecting on his combat experience and the Medal of Honor, said, “I’m just honored that I was given the opportunity to serve my country as a Soldier. In a time when our enemies are trying to disrupt our way of life, I had the opportunity to face them and tell them that I’m not going to fold. This medal I wear around my neck could never represent one individual. I hope that for the rest of my life, I get to earn the right to call myself an American.”

Another honoree was Joe Plumeri, vice chairman of the First Data board of directors, who received the Community Hero Award.

“Our country is such an exceptional place,” Plumeri said in accepting the award. “What greater value can we provide to our country than to honor the people who protect us and serve us every day? I will tell you that I have roamed the world. I have had the good fortune to have been at many events in many countries, and believe it or not, things like this [gala] don’t exist any place else. There are no organizations like PenFed that does the things that they do.”

About the PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, credit-building, home ownership, and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the foundation provides. To learn more, visit:


First Look: Home-Buying Season Is Already Booming

The 2016 home-buying season is in full swing, with homes in April moving 7 percent faster than one year ago, even as asking prices continue to break records. This, according to new data released this week by

Median age of inventory is now 68 days, moving five days faster in April than a year earlier and 6 days faster than last month – pointing to solid momentum this spring. The median-priced home was listed at $245,500, 9 percent higher than one year ago and 2 percent higher than March. For-sale housing inventory is increasing on a monthly basis, but remains lower than one year ago.

“A robust buying season has already fully bloomed this spring, clearly demonstrated by our preliminary read on April inventory and activity on,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of “Pent-up demand, lower mortgage rates and strong employment continue to power the strongest and healthiest real estate market we have seen in a decade. Close to 550,000 new listings came onto the market in April, which helped total inventory grow 2 percent over March. However, we know that sales are picking up faster than inventory since the median age of inventory fell again by six days after falling a whopping 22 days in March. As a result we have 4 percent fewer homes available for sale compared to last year and homes stay on the market five fewer days.”

The median age of inventory for April is expected to be 68 days, down 7 percent year over year and down 8 percent from March.

The median listing price for April will likely reach a record high of $245,500, a 9 percent increase year over year and a two percent increase month over month.

Listing inventory in April showed a 2 percent increase over March. However, inventory decreased 4 percent year over year.’s Hottest Markets receive two to three times the number of views per listing compared to the national average. In terms of supply, these markets are seeing inventory move 17-45 days more quickly than the rest of the U.S. They have also seen days on market drop by an average of four days from March.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.