Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. I recently became married and had a wonderful celebration reception that included an hour of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for our guests. During that hour, the wedding party, including myself and the groom, were at another location with the photographer.

[Read more...]

Share

Choosing a home improvement contractor

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

When faced with the decision of which business to hire when you are in need of a home improvement contractor there are some very important things to consider. Do not be taken in by promises of guaranteed performances, quick jobs, and bargain prices. Don’t allow a salesperson to talk you into repairs and improvements you do not actually need or want.

[Read more...]

Share

*Should I be investing more aggressively?

submitted by Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL™, President, Harvest Group Financial Services

There’s no way to know the answer to that without reviewing your individual circumstances and financial goals. However, if you are investing too conservatively, it can have a profound effect on your long-term financial security. That’s particularly true for women. Women often start saving later, save less, and invest more conservatively than men, which decrease their chances of having enough income in retirement.

[Read more...]

Share

Middletown couple helps first-time homebuyers accomplish ‘The Dream’

It’s the classic example of which came first, the chicken or the egg?  “I’ve recently graduated college or trade school and found a good job.  I’ve been able to save a few dollars for a small down payment. I know I don’t want to pay rent forever but when can I actually buy my first home?”  Mike and Jill Kohler, owners of Net Equity Financial Mortgage and Real Estate Services in Middletown Township, think buying a home is not only possible, but likely for many.

[Read more...]

Share

Why move-up buyers should sell NOW

submitted by Lynne Kelleher, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Fox Roach Realtors Newtown Office

Do you store your cereal in the oven? Are you having difficulty shoving ONE MORE THING under the bed? Do you live out of your hamper because there’s no place to put away the clean clothes? If the police were called to your home, would they think it had been ransacked because your stuff is all over?

If you answered “Yes, good heavens YES!” to any of the above, I bet you’ve been thinking about moving. And if you’ve been on the fence about it, here’s what waiting could cost you.

Those in the know are predicting home prices will rise about 4% nationally and rates could increase another full point in the next year. If you’re selling your $300,000 home and moving up to a $400,000 home, here’s how it shakes out.

If you wait, your current home’s value would increase to $312,000. But now you’d need to pay $416,000 for your new home – a net increase of $4000 if we keep the numbers simple. Not horrible, right?

Here’s the kicker…if rates increase from 4.5% on the $400,000 sale (which is where they’re currently hovering), to 5.5% on the $416,000 sale, look what happens. Assuming a 20% down payment, your monthly payment for principal and interest increases from $1622 to $1957 – a whopping $335. Not chump change by any measure!

To put it another way – if you wanted to keep your payment at $1622, you could only afford a house for $344,000 at a 5.5% interest rate. Talk about an impact on buying power.

There’s no two ways about it – now is the time to sell, and move up, down or to Tahiti. So throw out, pack up and clean up, then get your home on the market. If it’s in good condition and priced correctly, it will sell and sell quickly.

Isn’t it about time you took your life off hold and moved forward?

Share

Consumer Troubleshooter

submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency

Q. I recently received a Visa debit/credit/gift card as a thank you for my volunteering at a local agency. The paper sleeve that the card came in did not indicate what dollar amount was on the card so I called the 888 number to determine the balance. I was surprised to learn that it was in the amount of $50! The following day I used the card to put $20 of gas into my car, leaving a balance of $30 on the card. Later that same day I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things; intending to use the gift card again. After completing the ringing up of my purchases, I slid the card through the machine at the self-checkout. Although my purchase total was under the amount of the balance that I had left on the card, the card was “denied.” I tried a couple of more times; even enlisting the help of the store attendant but still the card did not work. I later called the number on the back of the card to inquire what the problem was. They informed me that because of my initial purchase at the gas pump, there was a hold on the card. The balance of $30 would be available in three days. I don’t understand why using the card at the pump would affect the balance on the card. Can you explain this? F.V., Doylestown.

A. The simplest way to explain what happened is that issuing banks (the bank from where the card was purchased) do this to make certain that they will get paid. They may not find out until one or two days later what the exact amount of the gas purchase was and whether there is enough on the card to pay for it.

Banks are allowed to place a hold of up to $75 for up to three days on a gas purchase using credit at the pump. This includes “credit” purchases made by swiping your “debit” card. They do this because the exact amount of your purchase is not communicated to the bank immediately by the pump after you swipe, unlike most purchases. Also, the gas station wants to make sure that it will get paid.

A “hold” on your card can be avoided when using a debit card if you enter your PIN # at the time of the purchase. We at the Bucks County Consumer Protection Department do not recommend using this method. Using your PIN can lead to a greater chance of the theft of your debit card information which can lead to fraudulent charges against your account. For additional tips and brochures on many consumers related issues, visit

http://www.buckscounty.org/government/CommunityServices/ConsumerProtection/ConsumerTips.

Share

Why move-up buyers should sell NOW

submitted by Kathleen Layton, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Fox Roach Realtors Newtown Office

Do you store your cereal in the oven? Are you having difficulty shoving ONE MORE THING under the bed? Do you live out of your hamper because there’s no place to put away the clean clothes? If the police were called to your home, would they think it had been ransacked because your stuff is all over?

[Read more...]

Share

Finding the value of a business in a divorce

submitted by Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF, Abo and Company, LLC

One aspect of finding value for a divorce settlement is that you are not seeking the investment value of the business. Because the business usually isn’t going to be sold, its value to a specific buyer isn’t particularly relevant. For this reason, the value decided on for a divorce is different. Many of the considerations are the same as for determining the sale value, but there are some substantial differences.

[Read more...]

Share

Beer-A-Rama: Your neighborhood beer distributor for over 45 years

by June Portnoy

Established in 1968, Beer-A-Rama in Levittown has gained the reputation of providing exemplary customer service in a family, friendly atmosphere. This family-owned and operated beer distributor carries practically any beer of choice. It is your one-stop shop for domestic, imported and craft beers, along with sodas, snacks and ice.

All beer is sold in cases, and kegs are also available.

“We sell well over 1,000 different brands of beers, and will order any special requests that our wholesaler has in stock,” says Brie LaRosa, store manager.

[Read more...]

Share

April Breakfast Meeting of the NBA

The Newtown Business Association will hold its April Membership Breakfast on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 7:30 AM at Chandler Hall, 99 Barclay Street, Newtown.  Representatives from Newtown Township and Newtown Borough will give a “State of Newtown” address.

[Read more...]

Share