RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
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Mary's Blog

Shoppers: 5 Ways to Find the Best Deal

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


The best part about scoring a deal is feeling like you did! From ad-watching and coupon-saving to dedicated comparison shopping, there are many ways to get a deal when shopping. According to the Huffington Post, these five ways are best:

1. Black Friday Sales – Officially opening the holiday buying season, Black Friday sales in-store and online offer some of the year’s best prices on everything from electronics to household goods. Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers often publish prices in advance, and quantities are sometimes limited, so the early bird nearly always gets the buy.

2. Craigslist – The online classified service, now available globally, boasts bargain prices on new and used goods right in your neighborhood. (Keep in mind, however, that face-to-face interactions with strangers can be risky—if you are purchasing an item off Craigslist, insist on meeting the seller in a public place to conduct the exchange.)

3. eBay – The leader in online auctions, eBay remains the source for deals on everything, from appliances to xylophones. Once you open an account, you can bid on auctions, purchase an item immediately with the “Buy It Now” price, or use eBay’s “Best Offer” tool to negotiate a deal.

4. Honey – Honey is an app that does the coupon-clipping for you. Once installed, the app searches for and applies coupon or discount codes to your shopping cart when you’re ready to check out. It works with well over 100 stores, including Home Depot.

5. Retail Price-Matching – Retailers are losing out to online sales, so if you find a deal you like online, try matching the price in-store. Each retailer has rules about price-matching, but if you print out the online offer and bring it with you (or open it on your smartphone in the store), you may find you can snag the better price.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Real Estate Preferable to Cash and Stocks

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


Real estate is again the most popular investment option among Americans who do not need money for 10 or more years, ahead of cash, precious metals, stocks and bonds, Bankrate.com recently reported.

Preferred investment options, ranked by Americans in the Bankrate.com report, are:

• Real Estate (25 percent)
• Cash (23 percent)
• Precious Metals/Stocks (16 percent)
• Bonds (5 percent)

“The preference for real estate is well-suited for investment horizons of more than a decade, but the apathy many investors feel towards the stock market is detrimental to achieving their long-term financial goals,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst, in a statement. “Yes, the market is volatile, but the market has rewarded long-term investors that show patience and discipline.”

Cash, second in terms of preference in Bankrate.com’s report, are not a sustainable long-term investment, McBride added.

“While cash investments are entirely appropriate for short-term needs, such as an emergency fund, they are completely inappropriate for long-term investment horizons. Returns on cash investments often trail the rate of inflation, with savers losing buying power as a result,” said McBride.

In the report, households with an annual income of $50,000 or less tended to side with cash investments. Older age groups, including millennials aged 26 to 35, tended to favor real estate.

Source: Bankrate.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protecting Against Zika: How Homeowners Can Do Their Part

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


Zika has hit home. The good news? There are simple steps homeowners can take to lessen the spread of the virus, says Karen Reardon, vice president of Public Affairs with RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)®.

“Putting up mosquito barriers, reinforcing your home and property, removing standing water where mosquitoes breed and knocking down existing mosquito populations with EPA-approved solutions create a four-sided barrier of protection,” Reardon said in a statement.

Preventing the spread of Zika at home, according to RISE, includes replacing any damaged or sagging door or window screens, keeping doors and other entry points closed, and eliminating standing water on the property. Water often collects in birdbaths, buckets, flower pots, fountains, gutters and wading pools.

Personal mosquito barriers include wearing light-colored, long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, or repellant-treated apparel.

Homeowners should also ensure the members of their household use EPA-approved repellants. Products endorsed by the EPA, RISE states, have been deemed effective and safe. EPA-approved labels will indicate if the product is specifically for Aedes mosquito protection, which is the category through which Zika is transmitted.

Some homeowners are also going above and beyond these steps, according to a recent RISE survey: 53 percent of homeowners surveyed are planning to apply pesticides to their yards, and 47 percent are considering adding mosquito control to their lawn care routine.

Zika causes symptoms such as mild fever and rash, and may be tied to birth defects.

Source: RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Back-to-School: 5 Tips to Get Organized

July 20, 2016 12:46 am


There’s no better time than back-to-school season to organize for the upcoming school year. Begin with these five back-to-school, get-organized tips from the experts at Merry Maids:

1. Draw up a family calendar to keep schedules on track throughout the year. Hang it within view of all members of the household, including your child(ren), so that they know—and can change, if needed—appointments or obligations.

2. Set up color-coded files for your child(ren) to store assignments and projects as they come in through the year. Clear out the folders periodically, either over the weekend or over school vacations.

3. Organize a school supply cabinet with labeled baskets or bins. This will come in handy at homework time, guide your child(ren) during clean-up, and help you take stock when items need replenishing through the year.

4. Establish a time to pack lunches for the entire week—and enlist your child(ren) to help prepare them. Store the lunches in an accessible area in the refrigerator, so your child(ren) can grab-and-go each morning.

5. Designate a day each week for your child(ren) to participate in household chores—folding the laundry, picking up their toys, or setting the table, depending on their age and ability.

Putting school-time routines in place now not only starts the year off stress-free, but also ensures your household stays well-ordered in the months to come. Start with these tips!

Source: ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Ways to Waterproof Your House

July 20, 2016 12:46 am


Did you know water can enter and damage your home at any time, whether your house is in a low-lying area or otherwise?

“There are common water hazards that every homeowner faces at one time or another,” explains Michael Petri of Petri Plumbing and Heating, Inc. “It's a lot simpler than many people think to waterproof their homes and avoid those issues.”

Waterproofing your home not only guards it against flooding, but also eliminates unseen internal leaks. (Leaks, in fact, account for close to 15 percent of the average household’s water use.)

To waterproof your house, Petri recommends:

Scanning Pipes – Walk your property and note areas of mud or soil erosion, or wet spots on the driveway. These findings could indicate a broken pipe, which will require the services of a professional plumber to remedy.

Inspecting Sprinkler Heads – Look for vibrant green vegetation or moss growth on or around the sprinkler heads on your property. These may be signs of broken heads or damaged valves leaking into the ground (and potentially breaching your home).

Testing Toilet(s) for Leaks – Drip a few drops of food dye into the tank of the toilet. Wait 20 minutes; if a leak is found, replace the valve inside the tank.

These three types of leaks can develop in any house, both new and older, or on any property. If you suspect an irrigation or underground leak, call a professional plumber as soon as possible for help—continuous leaking can not only lead to extensive damage, but also can result in additional month-to-month costs.

Source: Petri Plumbing and Heating, Inc.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Role Does Insurance Play in Home-Sharing?

July 20, 2016 12:46 am


As the sharing economy hits its stride, more every-people are taking advantage of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. The ease-of-use of these platforms, however, should not detract from insurance considerations, says John M. Huff, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

“Sharing a home, car or even personal items with a complete stranger reflects a new level of trust between buyers and sellers,” Huff said in a statement. “When using companies like Uber and Airbnb, or lesser-known options such as Poshmark and TaskRabbit, failing to understand the insurance implications of these transactions can be costly. The NAIC encourages consumers to share with care.”

To determine adequate insurance coverage, home-sharers should discuss their intentions with their insurance provider, the NAIC recommends. The home-sharer may be required to supplement a standard homeowners insurance policy with additional liability coverage, home-based business coverage, or even landlord insurance.

The NAIC suggests the home-sharer confirm the damaged-related coverage an existing policy offers, as well. Home-sharers may opt to limit rentals to those who can show proof of homeowners, renters or personal liability insurance, so that they will be able to file a claim on the renter’s policy should the renter damage the property.

Most importantly, home-sharers should stay up-to-date on the policies and terms of use of each sharing platform. Home-sharing agreements are apt to change, and often, according to the NAIC.

Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Science Behind Grocery Shopping

July 19, 2016 12:46 am


Shopping is a science—one repeat savers know well. The savviest shoppers routinely apply it to recurring household expenses, like groceries, to reap the most savings.

Shopping app Ibotta recently cracked the code to the secrets behind the science of grocery shopping, revealing the best times to shop for everyday items.

Grocery bills, for one, are highest on weekends—the most popular time of week for shoppers. The savings, Ibotta found, are earlier in the week: better prices on beer, wine and ice cream can be found on Mondays and Tuesdays, and discounts on produce are common on Wednesdays.

Shoppers purchasing beer and wine on a Monday can expect up to a 9 percent discount off Saturday prices. The best stores for savings, according to Ibotta:

• Walmart ($7.75/six-pack beer)
• Target ($8.11/six-pack beer)

• Walgreens ($9.23/wine)
• Walmart ($9.39/wine)
• Sam’s Club ($9.61/wine)

Ice cream is also best bought on Monday, when shoppers can save up to 9 percent. Dollar stores, Ibotta found, have the steepest discounts: $3.01 at Dollar General, and $3.26 at Family Dollar.

Produce, on the other hand, is the least expensive on Wednesdays, especially at regional retailers like Albertsons or Food4Less.

Ibotta also pinpointed the purchase preferences of certain cities, with some intriguing findings: the city that purchases the most beer and wine, for instance, is Tampa Bay, Fla.—the “Booziest City.” The “Ice Creamiest City,” based on purchasing trends, is Richmond, Va. Seattle is named the “Healthiest City,” due to its penchant for organic, healthful food purchases.

And Green Bay, Wis., is the “Cheesiest City.” No surprise there!

Source: Ibotta
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Unpacking Summer's Hottest Housing Trends – Pt. 1

July 19, 2016 12:46 am


Housing’s on a hot streak this summer, as more buyers, sellers, investors and renters take advantage of the best real estate season in years.

Three trends are defining the season, according to ApartmentList.com: co-living, micro apartments and tiny houses. In this first segment of our series on these trends, we’ll drill down and unearth the facts behind micro apartments.

Rents can be a major challenge for people living in expensive markets like New York City. Enter micro—less than 400 square feet—apartments, where everything but the bare minimum is shaved away in a centrally-located unit.

The main purpose of a micro apartment is primarily function, though the spaces are made to appear roomier with strategic ceiling height, color and lighting, say the experts at ApartmentList.com.

Most who gravitate towards living in a micro apartment often do so for its amenities, and because they do spend a lot of time outside of home, explain the ApartmentList.com experts. Unlike co-living situations, micro apartments do not necessarily require a membership. Micro apartments have a more “permanent” feel compared to co-living spaces, as well.

The micro apartment trend has taken root in at least one market: Seattle, where a micro apartment development was recently unveiled. According to a blog by former Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn, the 170-square-foot units are affordable for individuals with “moderate” incomes, with an average rent of $575 per month.

McGinn also revealed Seattle's Planning Department continues to hear from builders who are interested in offering micro apartments. McGinn noted the demand for affordable housing in transit-friendly communities will likely continue to expand, especially in markets like New York and San Francisco.

Stay tuned for our upcoming segment, where we’ll dive into the next hot summer housing trend: co-living.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Current Economy Keeps Lid on Mortgage Rates

July 19, 2016 12:46 am


Mortgage rates, slow to react to Brexit, remain below 4 percent.

According to Bankrate.com’s weekly rate report, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is averaging 3.57 percent, with an average 0.23 discount and origination points. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate is averaging 2.85 percent, with an average 0.20 discount and origination points. The 7-year adjustable mortgage rate is averaging 3.23 percent, and the 5-year adjustable mortgage rate is averaging 3.04 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate is averaging 3.67 percent.

Borrowers obtaining a 30-year fixed mortgage at the current average rate can expect to pay $905.92 monthly. 

Close to three-quarters of mortgage experts surveyed by Bankrate.com expect rates to rise only marginally in the next week, due to the sluggish state of inflation, interest rates and economic growth globally.

Source: Bankrate.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Smart Home Takes a Swim

July 15, 2016 12:46 am


Smart home automation’s dipping into pools.

Many poolside mechanisms, such as the heater, pump and timer, can now be automatically controlled with smart home technology, optimizing energy use and performance and potentially extending their lifespan—a benefit that can result in thousands in saved repair or replacement costs, which are often a burdensome expense for pool owners.

“New automation options eliminate the inconvenience of trips to pool or spa equipment to reset timer clocks and thermostats,” said Kyle H. Chaikin, president of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA), in a statement. “Control the pool at poolside, from inside the house, on the golf course or halfway around the world with handy smartphone apps.”

According to the NESPA, pool owners can automate any or all of the following features:

• Chlorine Generator
• Cleaner
• Filtration System/Pump
• Fountain
• Heater
• Jacuzzi/Spa
• Lighting
• Timer
• Waterfall

Pool owners can take automation a step further by assigning control to their pool service provider, Chaikin added.

“Pool and spa automation fits perfectly into any busy lifestyle. You can monitor your pool and poolscape yourself, or you can turn it over to your pool service company who will monitor it in real time, and be able to respond in real time, should any issue develop.

“Automation equipment quickly makes your backyard ready to use right when you are ready to use it, regardless of the season,” Chaikin added. “Owning and operating a pool and spa today has never been easier or more fun.”

Source: Northeast Spa & Pool Association/The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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