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

While Away, Keep Thieves at Bay

July 20, 2017 1:00 pm

While summer is prime time for long vacations and weekend getaways, it’s also peak season for criminals on the prowl for empty homes. Keep your place safe and secure with these inexpensive technological tricks from home phone and security company, Ooma:
  1. Guard the front door. Thirty-four percent of break-ins occur at the front door, so consider installing a doorbell that routes to your phone. Use tools like two-way speakers to give visitors the impression someone is home. You can also install cameras and keep an eye on things from your phone, no matter where you are.
  2. Keep windows air-tight. Twenty-three percent of break-ins occur through first-floor windows. Use classic sash locks to keep windows locked, and install wireless motion sensors to be alerted if a window is raised.
  3. Examine your AC unit. Many burglars get into your home by pushing in AC units installed in windows. Consider removing window units when you’re leaving town, or install motion sensors near them.
  4. Call 911 in your town. If you see someone breaking into your home, but you’re clear across the country, what can you do? Ooma offers a Remote 911 service that allows you to call 911 to your home’s local emergency dispatchers.
  5. Secure sliding doors. The locks on sliding doors are generally very easy to pick. Be sure to install barrier bars in the tracks and set up motion detectors in the vicinity.
  6. Lights are your best defense. Nothing invites break-ins more than a dark house, so put your lights on timers, or install smart lights that you can control with your phone. 
Source: www.ooma.com/home-security/
 
For even more valuable real estate information, contact me today.

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Drumroll, Please...2018 Color Trends Are Here

July 20, 2017 1:00 pm

If you’re getting ready to paint, make sure you’re on point with the latest color trends. Consider the recently released 2018 Color and Design Trends Report from Dunn-Edwards Paints, featuring five color palettes.

To predict what will be trending next year, blogger and Dunn-Edwards color expert Sara McLean looks at the big picture of the many influences that drive color and design trends—everything from world events, lifestyle, fashion and food to trends in travel, wellness and individuality. According to Dunn-Edwards, here are the five color trends—and the inspiration behind them—that are set to be big hits in 2018:

1. Memories. This trend symbolizes a return to the classics of the 1940s French fashion chic, art deco and art nouveau. The color palette evokes a romantic spirit, with a design that is luxurious and feminine. Colors include blue-greens, lacquer red, dark-brown wood hues and bronzed caramel, lightened with touches of grayish pink and gold.

2. Natural Wonders. Inspired by nature and innovation, this trend reflects a desire to be surrounded by nature without leaving the city—a back-to-basics focus on well-being without giving up the modern comforts of city life. Colors are casual with springtime and seaside influences, including coral tones, aquatic blues and overexposed color with sunny contrasts like salmon, lobster, pebble and ocean.

3. The Stars. This trend takes its cue from the rise of fantasy experiences through virtual and augmented realities. Colors are inspired by the exotic world of fantasy, such as pastels layered with lacquer and glow. The influence of technologically based color creates layers of gloss and bling, with pops of rose, hot pink, dark blue and 1980s retro colors.

4. Adventures. This palette is reflective of myths, lore and legends, and the historical narratives of cultures and people throughout the world. The trend evokes the extravagant colors found in nature, such as reds, emerald greens, amber, lava black and mystic purple with infusions of lava black, earthy brown, dark reds, blues and purple.

5. Childhood Joys. Reflecting the comfort and routine of childhood along with the fun and games, picture books, fairy tales, science fiction and fantasy, moral tales and children's poetry, this color palette includes the classics of navy, burgundy, gray and beige, along with near-primaries of blue, green and orange.

Source: Dunn-Edwards

Interested in real estate tips? Contact me today for more information.

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For Seniors, Home Equity Is on the Rise

July 20, 2017 1:00 pm

Are you a homeowner age 62 or older? If so, there’s some good financial news for you. According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA), homeowners in that age bracket saw their home equity increase by a combined 3.1 percent to $6.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2017 from $6.13 trillion in the last quarter of 2016.

According to the NRMLA/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI), the growth in housing wealth for retirement-aged homeowners was driven by an estimated 2.6 percent ($199.3 billion) improvement in senior home values, and offset by a 0.6 percent increase of senior-held mortgage debt that equaled $9.2 billion. The RMMI, a quarterly measurement of home equity held by older homeowners, rose to 227.07 in Q1 2017, another all-time high since the index was first published in 2000.
 
This rise in home equity will help seniors who are choosing to age in place secure the funds to make the necessary modifications to their home, such as stairless entryways and wider bathroom doorframes.

One way seniors can tap into their increased equity is through a reverse mortgage, available to homeowners age 62 and older with significant home equity. According to the NRMLA, reverse mortgages are a versatile tool that enables seniors to borrow against the equity in their home without having to make monthly principal or interest payments as with a traditional mortgage or home equity loan. Under a reverse mortgage, funds are advanced to the borrower and interest accrues, but the outstanding balance is not due until the last borrower leaves the home, sells or passes away.
 
Here are some smart ways seniors can use their reverse mortgage loans:
  • Make home improvements that allow them to remain in the home. While you might not recoup your investment on a kitchen reno or new deck, it does make sense to make those improvements that make your home a safe living space for you, such as wider doors, ramps, railings and adding a first-floor master bedroom and bath.
  • Pay off high interest credit cards. You don’t want to be saddled with debt in your golden years, so use part of your funds to pay off high interest credit cards.
  • Gift part of the money to your children to help them pay off student loans or put a down payment on a house.
  • Lower income earned from other sources to avoid paying income tax on Social Security benefits
  • When using your reverse mortgage funds, the No. 1 thing you want to remember is to leave enough for yourself and living expenses. Consult your accountant or financial planner to come up with a smart and safe strategy. 
Contact me today for more real estate news and information.

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Transform Your Front Porch

July 20, 2017 1:00 pm

The lazy days of summer are peak season for front-porch sitting. But if your porch doesn’t quite match the iconic image of lazily rocking with a tall glass of lemonade, it may be time for a little design refresh.
 
Start at the beginning—your front door. A fresh coat of paint in a bright, cheery color will act as a focal point and breathe new life into your entire porch. Or, if you’re going for a natural effect, strip wooden doors and restain them in a light neutral or rich, darker shade. The idea is to have your front door contrast with the color of your home to help it stand out and add interest.
 
Adorn your door with a dose of personality, like a floral or berry wreath. Install hardware along one side and hang a basket of bright annual flowers, a stately fern, or one of your houseplants from inside.
 
You can get a similar effect from florals and greens by placing pots and planters in strategic locations on your porch, such as alongside the front door, in window boxes along the railings, or in graduated sizes on each step. All of these locations are ideal for a potted herb garden as well.
 
Your front porch is also a great spot to attractively display frequently used items. The DIY pros at marthastewart.com suggest using a Shaker peg rail for hanging sandy towels, beach chairs and straw hats. This can even be used to dry herbs and flowers. You can achieve the same look by hanging an attractive coat rack from indoors on the front porch.
 
Another great idea from Martha Stewart involves converting an old daybed or cot into a comfy seating spot for your front porch. Simply replace the mattress with a four-inch thick piece of foam or cushion, and sew up a slipcover with box pleats at the corners to hang over the metal frame. Paint the metal frame in a complementary color to your front porch. Place the seating against the house and line the back with an assortment of throw pillows to create an inviting lounge area.
 
Be sure to add some sparkle to your front porch for ultimate atmosphere. This can be achieved by hanging lights or lanterns from the lattice work above or wrapping string lights around the railing. A couple of well-placed hurricane lamps will create the same soft glow.
 
Once these simple steps are done, start using your porch for what it was intended for: relaxing with a good book and visiting with friends.
 
For more real estate tips and information, contact me today.

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In this Edition: Front Porch Design Trends

July 20, 2017 1:00 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines simple ways to transform your front porch into a relaxing oasis. Other topics covered this month include six tips to keep your home safe and secure when you're out of town and the top color trends that are set to make a big splash in 2018. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth the Cost?

July 20, 2017 12:39 am

The thought of a relaxing week on the beach with food and entertainment included in the price, and no travel decisions to make, may make you want to reach for a suitcase.

But are theses all-inclusive resorts the vacation panaceas they seem to be? California travel agent Ricardo Gomez points out the pros and cons.

The Pros:
Economy and convenience – Most all-inclusive resorts are located in beach locations close to major airports, and transportation to and from are provided – and the fact that pretty much everything is included is, of course, is the biggest perk. Enjoy three meals a day, plus snacks and beverages, without going for your wallet. Grab a beach umbrella, do some surfing, see a show or do some crafting. Except for personal care, like massages or manicures, there will be few extra charges – and daycare or babysitting may be available.

Planned activities – In most instances, couples and families can fill their days with all sorts of planned activities from beach games, boating, and water aerobics to swimming lessons and kiddie day-camping. There’s no need to make arrangements in advance or to rent the necessary gear.

The Cons:
Size, noise, and crowds – What’s less apparent are that most all-inclusives are huge. You may need to take a shuttle just to get from your cabana to the dining room – and you’d better stake out your spot on the beach early, because you’ll likely be bucking a crowd. At family resorts, be prepared for lots of happy but noisy kids, while adults-only resorts may find you faced with loud music and less than pleasant encounters with rude and/or inebriated guests.

A less than authentic experience – The menus and entertainment at all-inclusives are designed to please the masses, so while the food is plentiful, it may be mediocre and lacking in local flavor. In many cases, distance from town will preclude the option to explore the local culture, too, so your dining, entertainment and shopping options will be limited to what’s on-site.

If you want to try an all-inclusive resort, Gomez advises, don’t rely on what you see online. Check with a travel agent who has been there, or knows others who have.  To widen your options, choose a resort that’s a cab ride away from a major city or town.

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Your Garden’s Matured - Now What?

July 20, 2017 12:39 am

The fruits of your labor have finally paid off. Years of planting and nurturing perennials, shrubs and trees has now yielded a lush, abundant garden.

However, a mature landscape can need just as much care as a fledgling garden. Plants can become overgrown, crowding out sunlight and unwittingly hampering new growth. Shrubs and trees can start to encroach on your living space. Generally speaking, mature gardens can have an unkempt and straggly look, impacting your curb appeal and the overall look and feel of your home.

Here are some easy steps to restore order:

1. Divide large perennials. As perennials mature, they can get too large and actually yield fewer blooms. Dig them up and carefully separate them into smaller plants. You can plant these in new locations around your yard or give them away to friends and family. Be patient - transplants may take a year or two to bloom.

2. Trim trees. Don’t be afraid to give your trees a good pruning. Cut lower branches that may be intruding into other trees or outdoor seating areas, hanging too low over a fence, or jutting into your driveway. Trimming your trees will also allow sunlight back into your yard, which will help grass grow and flowers bloom.

3. Shape bushes. Use your hedge cutters to give your bushes and shrubs a healthy haircut. Restoring them to neat, shapely sizes will allow you to enjoy their foliage and blooms and provide symmetry and breathing room to your yard.

4. Cut back greens. Trailing evergreen shrubs and ivy might now be taking up a bit too much real estate in your yard, taking over trees, fences and stone walls. Cut them back and allow your yard’s architectural elements to take center stage again.

Getting control of your mature plantings will add brand new life to your garden beds and landscapes, while adding spaciousness and views to your yard again.

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How to Save on Home Energy This Summer

July 20, 2017 12:39 am

Looking to save some cash this summer? Turn to your house. Many of us are accidentally overpaying on our utilities by missing out on some major ways to save.

Southern Trust Home Services offers the following tips to keep the home cool and reduce energy bills:  

Use a programmable thermostat – It is wise to use a programmable thermostat and raise the temperature when the resident is not home. Doing this will prevent the system from using unnecessary energy to cool the home if no one is home.

Turn on ceiling fans – If used in conjunction with an air conditioning system, the fans are very effective at lowering the indoor temperature by circulating the cool air throughout the room. In the summer, ceiling fan blades should rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down to the floor. In the winter the blades should turn clockwise to pull cool air up.

Postpone the use of appliances — On average, there are three major heat generating appliances in the home, the oven, dishwasher and dryer. It is best to use these devices in the evening instead of the hottest part of the day. If possible, skip using the oven during the summer and grill outside more often. Any use of the oven will heat up the home.

Keep the doors inside the home open — While in the winter, closing interior doors helps keep heat in specific rooms. Doing so in the hot summer months is detrimental to your cause. You want air to flow freely through rooms and throughout the entire home. Good airflow means a cooler home.

Change air filters regularly — Clogged filters will force the air conditioning system to work harder and use more energy, resulting in higher utility bills. Clean filters also improve indoor air quality.

Check the window coverings —Thermal drapes, cellular shades or blackout curtains will keep the heat outside and the cool air inside the home.

Schedule an air conditioner tune-up — Proper HVAC maintenance, which includes having a professional clean coils, fins, air filters and check for the proper refrigerant charge, is the best way to ensure that the unit runs efficiently and effectively.

Source:  Southern Trust Home Services.

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Home Got the Blahs? Add a Spot of Color

July 19, 2017 12:39 am

If there’s one design element we don’t change very often, it’s our home’s exterior paint color. After all, a quality paint job should last 10 years in the right climate. But the problem is, all that sameness can get boring. The solution? A small dose of color in the right places.  

According to design expert Debbie ZImmer with the Paint Quality Institute, a “pinch of a new paint color here and there” is all you need to make your home’s exterior more interesting.

Zimmer recommends starting at the front door. "It's usually visible from the street so everyone sees it, and it's also where visitors first come face to face with your home." The best way to add visual interest is by painting your front door a color that contrasts sharply with the rest of the exterior. Think bright red or deep green, or even black. Bonus points: dark colors are better at hiding dirt and fingerprints.

Another great way to shake things up with color is by painting the shutters. While shutters are often painted the same color as the front door, it’s more important that they work well with the color of your siding. Choose a color that complements or contrasts. For inspiration, take a spin around your neighborhood or towns where you really love the design of the homes. Take notes on shutter colors you like and how they play against the home’s exterior.

If you have a home that has interesting architectural elements, such as gingerbread on Victorian homes or unique trim around doors and windows, this is a great chance to add interest with color. Paint these decorative touches a bright or unusual color to liven up the entire look of your home.

Zimmer recommends a few other great places to add pops of color to your home, like the porch, deck furniture, wooden fence or even a birdhouse or doghouse.  A bright or unusual hue in an unexpected spot can change the entire look and feel of your home.

If you get overwhelmed by the amount of colors to choose from, Zimmer advises borrowing ideas from the brochures at your local paint store. "These often show color schemes with four or five hues that work beautifully together," she says.  "Find a palette that contains a color similar to your siding, then choose accent colors from the same palette for your doors, shutters, and trim."    

For more advice on exterior color and tips on painting, visit the Paint Quality Institute online at blog.paintquality.com.

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4 Tips for a Better Headshot

July 19, 2017 12:39 am

Need a new headshot for work or play? Before you hire a photographer and pick out your outfit, read the following suggestions.

Stay consistent with your brand. This is more than just your personal image - it’s the image of your brand. Whether you’re an upcoming actor or a real estate agent, make sure the photo captures the message you want to put out there. Are you sleek and sophisticated? Fun and approachable? Work with your photographer to relay that message.

Stay consistent to you. Your brand and your true personality need not be divided. If a stuffy, ultra professional headshot just isn’t you, then go with something more relaxed - but make sure this is also reflected in your branding.

Choose the right photographer. Make sure you pick a photographer whose work you like, and who can show examples of work that you want your headshots to emulate.

Location, location, location. Should you be in a studio? At the park? In your own creative space? Choose a setting that reflects your personality.

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