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

Dips, Sips and Spills: The Secret Lives of Partygoers

July 12, 2016 12:46 am


Every partygoer’s broken the rules of party-dom at one time or another. Turns out, a lot of us have secretly committed a party no-no at gatherings with our families and friends:

• One in four people in a recent poll by Boxed Wholesale admitted to double-dipping chips and crudités at a party. I dip, you dip, we all dip!

• More than one-fifth of people in that same poll admitted to spilling a drink on the floor at a party and not cleaning it up. Classic spill-and-run.

• Forty percent of people in the poll admitted to wiping their hands on something other than a napkin at a party. Caught orange-handed!

• Close to one-third of people in the poll admitted to drinking out of a cup they weren’t sure was their own. Let’s…raise our glasses?

Thankfully, these faux pas haven’t broken us of habits like bringing the host a gift, helping clean up and sending a thank-you note, according to the poll. Courtesies still exist!

Source: Boxed Wholesale
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Living Comfortably in These Cities Will Cost You

July 12, 2016 12:46 am


Hankering to wing off to Worcester, or relocate to Rochester? Wherever you’re considering moving, it’s important to know whether your income can sustain a “comfortable” life there.

Finder.com recently crunched the numbers to determine just that in close to 80 cities around the country.

Among the key findings of Finder.com’s analysis—and shocking no one—is San Francisco, Calif. at No. 1, requiring the highest salary of all the cities analyzed, and Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose in the top 10. In these cities, the salary required to obtain a mortgage for the average home is higher than the salary required for mortgage payments, average debt and average expenditures.

The salary needed to live comfortably in San Francisco, according to the analysis, is $180,600—the average home in the Golden Gate City costs $1,119,500. In Los Angeles, the salary needed to live comfortably is $90,244; in San Jose, $129,864.

The city with the lowest salary requirement is Jackson, Miss., where residents can live comfortably for $43,265.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports the average salary was $52,250 in 2013. In the Finder.com analysis, this figure is sufficient income to live in 36 of the 78 cities analyzed.

For its analysis, Finder.com defined living “comfortably” as:

• Having the ability to purchase an average home (with a 20 percent down payment);
• Having the ability to cover average per-person expenditures; and
• Having the ability to pay off annual non-mortgage related household debt.

Using those controls, Finder.com analyzed factors such as the state’s median home price, average interest rate for a 30-year, 20-percent-down mortgage, and average non-housing expenditure.

To learn income requirements for a comfortable life in your desired city, visit Finder.com.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What's Behind the Gates? Higher-Priced Homes

July 12, 2016 12:46 am


Homeowners behind gates can expect an average $30,000 more for their home come sale—a premium, however, that can be offset by costly community amenities, according to research from the American Real Estate Society (ARES). The premium is due to actual and perceived benefits, such as privacy and safety, on the part of the buyer.

“This [research] provides clear evidence that homes in gated communities sell at a premium relative to comparable homes in non-gated communities,” said ARES Publication Director Ken Johnson in a release. Johnson is a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University's College of Business.

The premium may be less in gated communities where amenities like a clubhouse, pool or tennis court drive up maintenance costs for residents, ARES researchers found. Examining a sample of gated communities, researchers discovered a $19,500 decrease in sale price in communities with these types of amenities.

“Additional maintenance costs associated with these amenities often outweigh their benefits, and it appears that while a gate has value, additional neighborhood amenities do not always provide additional value,” explained Mark A. Sunderman, one of the ARES researchers.

“From the perspective of both the buyer and the seller, this information should help each to better price property,” Sunderman continued. “A good understanding of what adds value and what does not should help create increased marketability of gated homes.”

“The long-held belief that gates add value is supported by the data, as long as the impact of the amenities is properly factored in,” Johnson added. "This should set buyers' minds to rest as to whether or not they are actually receiving a boost in value when they purchase inside a gated community.” 

Source: Florida Atlantic University (FAU)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Out There: Rent…or Live on a Cruise Ship?

July 9, 2016 12:43 am


Rents in the U.S. are on the rise, limiting housing options for many. While the industry is working to address affordability concerns, one search engine has developed an alternative solution.

According to a report by CruiseWatch, a cruise search engine, renters in some cities are better off cruising on a ship continuously for a year than paying rent for the same period.

“To go on non-stop cruises and save some money is an impressive proposition,” said Britta Bernhard, co-founder of CruiseWatch, in a statement.

We’ll let that, ahem, sink in.

Using Census Bureau data and their own cruise statistics, the search engine compared cost-of-living expenses to cruise prices.

The average rental household in New York City, for instance, spends approximately $637 a week on living expenses, compared to the $313.25 per-week average for a cruise—a savings of over $16,500 a year.

The average household in Honolulu, on the other hand, would save over $7,500 a year cruising instead of renting. Those in Los Angeles would save $2,058 a year; those in San Francisco would save $7,154 a year; those in Stamford, Conn. would save $3,878 a year.

Cruisers can expect the most savings starting their year-long cruise in winter, when prices are at their lowest, according to the report.

Cruising for an entire year is enticing. Would you pay for a cruise instead of paying for rent?

Source: CruiseWatch
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Aging-in-Place Primer: Lots of Risks Lurking

July 9, 2016 12:43 am


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2013 report, “Consumer Product-Related Injuries to Persons 65 Years of Age and Older,” shed light on the aging-in-place risks facing those who remain in their homes as they age. The report, which assessed the products most associated with injuries and fatalities, revealed most incidents involved falls.

The CPSC recently developed a companion report evaluating incidents unrelated to falls. According to the report, nearly 30 percent of product-related fatalities reported to the CPSC were not as a result of a fall. The most fatal non-fall hazards include:

• ‘Swimming Activity, Pools, Equipment’ (379 incidents)
• ‘Clothing, All’ (Fire-Related) (293 incidents)
• ‘Bathtub and Shower Structures’ (253 incidents)
• ‘Cigarettes, etc., Lighters, Fuel’ (252 incidents)
• ‘Home Fires/CO/Gas Vapors with Unknown Product’ (244 incidents)
• ‘ATVs, Mopeds, Minibikes, etc.’ (174 incidents)
• ‘Cooking Ranges, Ovens, etc.’ (165 incidents)

Non-fall fatalities were reported more by adults age 65 to 69 than those older, the report found. (In contrast, fall-related fatalities peak between the ages of 84 and 89.)

With the life expectancy of the average American rising from 70.8 years in 1970 to close to 80 today, it is important for homeowners aging-in-place to understand the risks associated with products in their homes.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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America's Best Bargain Beach Towns

July 9, 2016 12:43 am


Looking to settle seaside? Beachfront property can be a sound investment for vacation- and profit-seekers, but it comes at a premium in most coastal markets.

All is not lost! Some beach towns are within reach—if you know where to look. Housing data source RealtyTrac® recently ranked the best bargain beach towns in the country, based on factors such as median home price and average summer temperature. The top 15 are:

1. Keansburg, N.J.
2. Mastic Beach, N.Y.
3. Crisfield, Md.
4. Riverside, R.I.
5. Palm Beach, Fla.
6. Emerald Isle, N.C.
7. Dauphin Island, Ala.
8. Madison, Conn.
9. Florence, Ore.
10. Bethany Beach, Del.
11. Fort Bragg, Calif.
12. Vashon, Wash.
13. Kihei, Hawaii
14. Pawleys Island, S.C.
15. Port Aransas, Texas

“Buying a second home or investment property in a beach town can help families save on summer vacations for years to come and also potentially generate vacation rental income,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement. “While real estate close to the ocean tends to be pricier, bargains are still available, particularly in smaller towns off the beaten path where home prices have been slower to bounce back from the housing downturn.”

The RealtyTrac analysis examined more than 1,000 cities in coastal counties across the nation, compiling the ranking based on the top 15 states that met “bargain” criteria.

Source: RealtyTrac®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Preparing Your Pool for Home Showings: Look beyond the Water

July 8, 2016 3:13 pm

Having a beautiful pool can be a great selling point on a hot day when buyers are looking at your home, but having blue water is just the tip of the iceberg when preparing the pool area for a home showing.
 
While blue water is a must, caring for a pool while your home is on the market extends far beyond the color of the water. All pool owners know that you need to vacuum a pool and add chemicals, but it’s important that the right mixture is used, and that the pool is cleaned regularly. Whether your pool is in the ground or above the ground, balancing your water chemistry remains the same. Make sure you remove leaves and debris each day as well.
 
In addition to keeping the water clean and vacuumed, it’s a good idea to think about the landscaping surrounding the pool.
 
Many people prefer to go with some combination of mulch or stone to serve as a transition between the pool and the lawn. A quick trip to your local gardening store will get you all you need for this project. These materials can also provide drainage from water runoff so that your lawn or deck don’t become saturated with water. These areas can also be dressed up with statues, lawn ornaments and tolerant plants.
 
Adding wood or composite decking around a pool and utilizing non-slip protective coating on the surface is also a good idea. Incorporating non-stick mats near the pool will provide a little extra footing when people enter and exit the water.
 
Most states require a fence to surround the pool, and if yours is falling apart or looking worn-down, be sure to get it fixed. Prospective buyers will be paying close attention to all areas surrounding the pool, and a bad fence can stop a sale in its tracks.
 
Keep the pool colorful with the addition of some bright neon rafts or solar lights that float in the pool as decorative pieces. Don’t go overboard with pool toys and tubes, however, as a cluttered swimming pool can be just as off-putting as a cluttered living room.
 
Potential buyers may also wonder about the pool’s energy requirements—especially if it’s heated—so keep information handy about average energy and gas costs for the summer months in relation to the other months of the year.
 
When your house does sell, it’s always a nice gesture to leave instructions for operating the pool so that the new owner understands all the particulars of any valves and switches that must be turned on and off.
 
For more tips to keep your pool in tip-top shape, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tree Care Crucial as Prospective Buyers Embrace Wooded Lots

July 8, 2016 3:13 pm

A recent study by the National Association of REALTORS® found that many prospective homebuyers consider the amount of trees on a property as a major selling point. In fact, 18 percent of repeat buyers and 25 percent of new buyers said that being on a wooded lot—or one with numerous trees—was important to them.
 
That’s why it’s critical for sellers to make sure the trees on their property are in good shape, a task that can typically be handled without calling in the pros.
 
The first thing you’ll want to take care of is pruning. While the Arbor Day Foundation notes that healthy growth comes after pruning while dormant—suggesting that pruning is best done during the winter months—tackling the job during the summer can also be beneficial. Be sure to check the foundation’s website (www.arborday.org) to learn the best times to prune certain types of trees so that you don’t damage them or make them more vulnerable to fungus. 
 
Summer pruning is done to direct the growth of a tree, slowing the branches you don’t want or dwarfing the development of a tree or branch. The reason for the slowing effect is that you reduce the total leaf surface, thereby reducing the amount of food manufactured and sent to the roots. Another reason to prune in the summer is for corrective purposes. Defective limbs can be seen more easily, as can limbs that hang down too far under the weight of the leaves.
 
When removing branches, use sharp tools to minimize damage to the bark. Young trees are best pruned with one-hand pruning shears with curved blades, while a pole pruner is recommended for trees with high branches.
 
The Arbor Day Foundation advises homeowners to follow the one-third and a quarter rules of pruning, meaning no more than a quarter of a tree’s crown is removed in a single season, and main side branches are at least one-third smaller than the diameter of the trunk. You should also never prune up from the bottom more than one-third of the tree’s total height.
 
When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in a desired direction (usually outward).
 
Once your trees are cared for, remember to take new photos of your yard and add them to your online marketing materials, giving buyers another reason to come and see your home.
 
For more information about caring for the trees on your property, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Tips to Get Rid of Stubborn Carpet Glue

July 8, 2016 3:13 pm

Moving into a new home is a great opportunity for homeowners to tackle a variety of projects to get the house looking like their own—with changes and renovations beginning almost immediately after taking ownership of a property. And more often than not, floors are job No. 1.
 
For many, there’s nothing better than ripping up a carpet and discovering beautiful wood flooring underneath. The problem is, removing carpets can be a painful process, one that leaves marks on the floor due to the glue that kept them in place over the years.
 
These problematic remnants are typically harder to remove than the actual carpet itself, but with a little elbow grease and some basic DIY instructions, homeowners will be enjoying their new hardwood floors before they know it.
 
The first step toward tackling stubborn carpet glue is to determine what type of glue you’re dealing with. Not all carpet glues are the same, requiring different solutions and steps depending on the type you’re working with. Therefore, before you can remove any adhesive from the floor, you must determine what type of glue you’re dealing with. Tar-based adhesives are dark brown or tan, while yellow-looking adhesives typically signify that a carpet was glued down with a more general adhesive.
 
Once you’ve determined which type of glue you’re dealing with, go to your local hardware store and buy the appropriate removal material. General adhesives are best removed with some basic adhesive remover, while tar-based glues need mineral spirits to get the job done. Both require a good deal of that elbow grease we spoke about earlier.
 
The process of removing the glue is simple. Start by scraping off any spots you can, but don’t dig in too deep, as you don’t want to damage the floor. Next, add the adhesive remover, spreading it out evenly. Read the instructions carefully to ensure you keep it on for the correct amount of time. Also, since many of these adhesive removers can be toxic, be sure to wear gloves and keep the windows open to allow proper ventilation.
 
Use a plastic putty knife to scrape the glue away as this won’t scratch or scuff the floor like a metal tool will. If the glue isn’t completely wiped away, follow the instructions again and add more remover to the spot. This time, use an old towel to wipe away the remaining glue.
 
Once all the glue is gone and the floor has dried, vacuum the area so no glue particles remain. Buy some floor cleaner and polish up the wood floor so it looks brand new, and enjoy.
 
For more tips on removing carpet glue, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Websites House Hunters Should Visit before Getting Too Involved in the Process

July 8, 2016 3:13 pm

Thanks to the internet, there’s an endless supply of information available for those in the market for a new home, but sometimes, determining which sites are most beneficial can be overwhelming.
 
Here are seven websites that all homebuyers should keep an eye on as they make their way through the process.
 
Realtor.org. The official site of the National Association of REALTORS®, realtor.org provides MLS listings that are updated multiple times an hour. In addition to allowing prospective buyers to check a home’s value, realtor.org also offers research reports and housing statistics for different areas around the country. It also has a section full of tips for improving the house-hunting process from experts in the industry.
 
Homes.com. This site provides millions of homes for sale and rent throughout the U.S., with spot-on local information to make the buying process easier. It also offers a first-time homebuyer’s guide, an ask the experts section and plenty of blogs providing helpful information on topics such as insurance, mortgages and moving.
 
Zillow.com. Dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, Zillow connects homebuyers with the best local professionals who can help. Offering a living database of more than 110 million U.S. homes, consisting of homes for sale, homes for rent and homes not currently on the market, zillow.com also offers its signature Zestimate home value to help prospective buyers better understand home pricing.
 
Trulia.com. This popular site provides comprehensive school and neighborhood information on homes for sale in neighborhoods all across the country. Trulia provides insight about the house, the neighborhood and the real estate process while connecting people with the right agents.
 
Quizzle.com. A website that offers a free credit score and a free Equifax credit report every six months, quizzle.com provides prospective buyers with a clear analysis of where they stand. If you’re interested in purchasing a home, it’s important to visit this site early in the process so that you can rectify any problems before it’s time to apply for a mortgage. 
 
Hud.com. This informative site, powered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has several valuable resources for those in the market to buy a home, including information about fair housing, predatory lending, RESPA and your rights as a borrower.
 
Crimereports.com. While it’s not something house hunters immediately think of, this site is an important one for those concerned about the safety of their neighborhood. Simply enter an address and it will list any recent incident reports, as well as notify you of any sex offenders living in the area.

For more information about online resources to help you through the process, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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