As March ushered in spring, the seasonal changes were felt in the housing market.
Inclement weather in the Midwest and Northeast sent a chill in residential new home construction after an unseasonably warm February. The Commerce Department reported that March Housing Starts fell nearly 7 percent from February to an annualized rate of 1.215 million units. From March 2016 to March 2017, Housing Starts were up 9 percent.
Signs of future construction may be about to bloom, however, as Building Permits were up 3.6 percent in March from February and 17 percent from March 2016.
Home sales came in hot with Existing Home Sales reaching their highest pace in over 10 years in March, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Sales climbed 4.4 percent from February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million. March’s sales pace is 5.9 percent above a year ago and surpasses January as the strongest month of sales since February 2007.
March New Home Sales hit their highest level in nearly a year, up 5.8 percent from February to an annual rate of 621,000. The Commerce Department reported sales also were up nearly 16 percent from a year ago.
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Finance News How to Make Your Smartphone Battery Last Longer
By Miriam Cross, Kiplinger.com
Smartphone batteries weren’t meant to last forever. But replacing the battery in many new phones can be costly. Apple, for example, charges $79 if your iPhone isn’t covered under warranty or AppleCare+. By rethinking how you charge and store your device, you can prolong battery life and save money.
For starters, extreme temperatures, especially heat, are bad for the battery. (Apple recommends protecting your phone from temperatures higher than 95 degrees.) Especially when your phone is fully charged, the hotter it is, the worse it is for the battery. “Treat it like your pet,” says Anne Co, a chemistry professor at Ohio State University. Don’t leave your phone in your car on hot or cold days, or exposed to the scorching sun at the beach.
Keep your eye on the little indicator that shows how much battery capacity is left. Draining the battery to zero stresses it; better to juice up your device before it hits a 30% to 40% charge. BatteryUniversity.com, an educational website, estimates that a
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“Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars”
By Nathalia Holt
In the 1940s and 50s, there were no digital devices to perform the myriad of complex calculations required to ready America for space travel. So when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed mathematicians to compute plot trajectories and velocities, they recruited an elite group of women to get the job done.
Armed with only pencils, paper and mathematical prowess, these women were “human computers” who transformed rocket design, helped develop the first American satellites and made the exploration of the solar system a reality.
Best-selling author Nathalia Holt tells the stories of these women who broke the boundaries of both gender and outer space. Based on interviews with the remaining living members of the team, “Rise of the Rocket Girls” is a glimpse into the world of women and science, and how they transformed both.
“Rise of the Rocket Girls” is available on Amazon and at local bookstores.
Quote of the Day
Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
– Marie Curie
Mortgage News(Continued from cover)
Chill Remains in Key Sectors
In economic news, slowing job growth and retail sales, lower manufacturing numbers and a decline in consumer inflation in March challenged economic growth. The first reading of first quarter 2017 Gross Domestic Product, which is the broadest measure of economic activity, fell to 0.7 percent from the 2.1 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.
While economic news has had its share of ups and downs, the downs kept home loan rates near historic lows.If you have any questions about home loan rates or loan products, I’d be happy to answer them. Be sure to watch for next quarter’s issue of Homes & Money Newsletter coming to you in August.
Finance News(Continued from cover)
battery that runs down completely before recharging will last for 300 to 500 charge cycles, whereas regular half-charges will amp up the battery to 1,200 to 1,500 cycles.
Leaving your phone plugged in overnight isn’t a huge deal because the charger typically turns off once the battery charges completely. But to squeeze maximum life out of the battery, unplug your phone before it hits 100%. And before turning off your phone for long periods, such as for an overseas trip, run the battery down to a half-charge.
Swiffer and other disposable floor cleaning mops and pads help simplify cleaning the floors, but that’s not all they can do! Use your Swiffer for some new tricks with these tips.
Dust it. The same dry cloths you use on wood and tile floors can also be used to clean everything from TV screens to picture frames to house plants, or any other dusty surface. Mop cloths are also great at cleaning the nooks and crannies in your car.
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Home News(Continued from page 2)
Reach it. The extended reach of your lightweight handle is a lifesaver for clearing cobwebs in high corners, dusting walls to prepare them for painting, or swiping surface mold from bathroom ceilings. Dampen the cloth with a 1-to-1 bleach and water solution to clear surface mold and don’t forget to wear protective eyewear.
Clear it. Use your mop pads to give your dryer vent a much-needed clean. This prevents lint from getting into the dryer ducts and can help prevent a fire.
Flip it. Get more mileage from your cloths. When the first side won’t collect anymore dirt, flip it over and keep going (this works for wet cloths too!). When the second side is “full,” toss it in the wash with other cleaning rags and then air dry.
Sources: Good Housekeeping, BrightNest
Street Smarts PRIVACY ALERT: Smart TV Monitoring
“Smart” products are the latest tech wave promising many timesaving conveniences. But these products can potentially pose personal privacy risks. How much do you know about smart TV monitoring? Read on to learn more.
User tracking. Automatic content recognition (ACR) sends data to manufacturers about what plays on your TV from broadcast and cable channels, streaming services, and connected DVD players.
Use of ACR data. The information collected by manufacturers may be sold to “big data” brokers, similar to how “likes” on Facebook and Google searches are tracked, in order to compile and sell to marketers.
Opting out. You can turn off some data-collection features. However, you should be aware that many smart TVs will continue to collect non-identifying information from your set in order to provide basic functions.
Turning it off. Consult the owner’s manual for your TV to find out what data is being collected, what features you lose by opting out, and how to turn off ACR data collection. If you’ve lost or misplaced the owner’s manual, manufacturers usually post PDF versions for each model on their websites.
Smart devices can provide amazing conveniences. Just make sure to read the owner’s manual and understand the data collected by each device.
Source: Consumer Reports
Tomato Salad With Shallot Vinaigrette, Capers and Basil (Serves 6-8)
A simple summer salad with complex flavors.
3 tablespoons minced shallots
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices or wedges
2 tablespoons rinsed salt-packed capers
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh medium basil leaves, torn into approximately 1/2-inch pieces
In a small bowl combine shallots, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil to combine. Set aside.
Arrange tomatoes on a large platter and sprinkle with capers. Then season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter basil on top. Give vinaigrette a quick whisk, drizzle over salad and serve.
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Facts & Figures Stars and Stripes Forever
Enjoy some fascinating facts surrounding the history of our national flag:
The Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Act to specify a banner for the new nation. The design remained unchanged until 1794, when Kentucky and Vermont joined the Union, adding two stars and two stripes.
In 1818, the stripes were set at 13 to honor the original colonies, but legislation allowed new stars to be added each July 4 following the admission of a new state.
In 1916, Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation designating June 14 as Flag Day, but Congress didn’t pass legislation making Flag Day a national holiday until 1949.
The Textile Color Card Association of the United States specifies the official color palette for the flag. Aside from white, the exact shades are named “Old Glory Red” and “Old Glory Blue.”