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Mary Mastroeni

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6 Plumbing Maintenance Checks

May 13, 2015 3:27 am

Routine maintenance can save homeowners thousands in potential repairs, especially when it comes to plumbing. There are several steps homeowners can take to check for red flags in their plumbing systems, says Patricia Bonacorda of Spartan Plumbing. She recommends these conducting these six maintenance checks at least once a year.

Lint Trap – It may seem unrelated to the plumbing system, but lint buildup can block the drain of your washing machine if left unattended. Clear your lint trap (typically found on the internal recess of the unit) or hire a plumber to install a wire trap filter to improve drainage.

Supply Hoses – Inspect hoses that connect to appliances, such as your dishwasher, icemaker and washing machine. Look for bulging or other signs of leakage. If you spot a leak, make repairs or replace with a stainless steel hose immediately.

Sinks – Hard water deposits can clog the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms, reducing energy-efficiency. If you notice mineral buildup, unscrew the screen at the tip of the faucet (the aerator) and soak it in vinegar overnight.

Toilets – Conduct a DIY litmus test by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tanks of toilets in your home. If the water in the bowl changes colors after a half an hour, call a plumber to assess the problem.

Water Heater – Check the thermometer to make sure the temperature is lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Increase the longevity of your unit by draining a few gallons of water from the tank to eliminate corrosion-causing sediment.

Sump Pump – If your home’s basement is protected from flooding by a sump pump, test the unit by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. It should activate automatically and shut off when the job’s done. For an added layer of protection, install a flood alarm.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting, Landscaping Top Curb Appeal Projects

May 12, 2015 3:27 am

According to a recent Sherwin-Williams National Home Design Survey, more than four out of five homeowners are seeking to improve their home’s curb appeal this spring – and the majority are planning a painting project to do so.

Painting can be an affordable way to freshen up any home’s exterior. Exterior painting projects range from repainting the front door or adding a fresh coat of paint to a fence to repainting the entire outside of a home.

“A fresh coat of paint and some minimal landscaping updates can make a lasting impression and improve the overall personality and feel of your home,” says John Gidding, an interior designer and landscape architect. “This is especially true for curb appeal, and this time of year is perfect for sprucing up your space.”

Homeowners also report seeking a landscape upgrade to enhance curb appeal. Homeowners say they’d choose to landscape and paint the interior of their home themselves, but are more likely to hire a professional for outdoor painting projects.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips for a Functional Laundry Room

May 12, 2015 3:27 am

(Family Features) From fitting laundry into your schedule to removing tough stains, keeping your wardrobe and linens clean is no easy task. To keep fabrics looking their best, use these tips.

1. Don’t Forget to Prep – Invest in multiple hampers to separate everything by color and fabric. When organizing laundry, close all zippers and untangle pant legs and tablecloths before starting a new wash.

2. Invest in Front Load – Upgrade to a front load washer and dryer for better cleaning and gentler handling of garments. Front loaders use gravity to tumble your clothing, so there's no heavy agitation that can damage or wear down sensitive fabrics.

3. Save on Time – Take back time spent waiting for cycles to be completed with speedy and efficient appliances. They boast maximum efficiency with less water usage per load and unparalleled energy efficiency.

4. Keep It Fresh and Clean – Use decorative baskets to keep supplies like softener, detergent and dryer sheets organized and tidy. This can also help prevent liquids from spilling onto appliances. To keep your washer and dryer free of odors, leave the doors slightly ajar.

5. Take Advantage of Tech – Utilize advanced features from appliances such as special steam settings which work to eliminate stains in the washer and remove wrinkles in the dryer.

Source: Electrolux

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Make Your Home Show-Ready

May 12, 2015 3:27 am

(BPT) - What makes someone decide a home is the right fit? If you're selling your home with an open house, there’s a lot you can do to wow would-be buyers. Make the best impression and boost offers with these five tips.

1. Work from the Outside In – Poor curb appeal can turn buyers off before they step foot inside your home. Make sure the outside is every bit as beautiful as the inside. Paint the exterior if you need to, plant flowers and mow the lawn.

2. Clean Up Shop – It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many homeowners don’t clean their homes before an open house. If nothing else, the kitchen and bathrooms must be spotless. If you don’t feel you can get your home ready on your own, hire a professional cleaning service to do the job for you. The money you spend will be well worth it when your home sells quickly and for top dollar.

3. Cut the Clutter – Even the cleanest homes still feel messy if there’s too much clutter. Before your open house, adopt a minimalist lifestyle to keep your home as clutter-free as possible.

4. Eliminate Stale Odors
– Don’t underestimate the benefit of fresh air in your home. Consider using essential oils to keep your home smelling great throughout showing. Simply tap a few drops and some salt into a decorative bowl and place near a sunny window or heat register to diffuse the aroma.

5. Make Wise Investments – If your home requires improvements, allocate funds for the rooms buyers care about most – the kitchen and the master bedroom. A granite countertop, new appliance, additional closet or fresh coat of paint will work wonders when it comes time to sell.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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There Are No Zero-Risk Zones for Flooding

May 11, 2015 3:27 am

Did you know standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood risk? A separate flood policy can protect you from footing the bill for flood-related repairs. This policy is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), or through a few private insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Recent flood insurance reforms are phasing in for areas at high risk for flooding, and flood maps are being updated to move some people into higher- or lower-risk zones. However, there are no zero-risk zones. Through the NFIP, the average cost of a policy for a homeowner, which includes coverage for both contents and the structure itself, is $700. Private excess flood insurance is also available if more coverage is needed than the maximum amount available from the NFIP.

Renters should also consider a flood policy. Most renters living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones are eligible for preferred rates, with contents-only coverage ranging from $44 to $266 a year, depending on the flood zone and amount of coverage.

Have a conversation with your insurance professional to make sure your coverage is up to date. Keep in mind that flood insurance policies through the NFIP have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so do not wait for a severe weather warning to start looking into flood protection. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Brace Yourselves - Summer Mold is Coming

May 11, 2015 3:27 am

Mold in the home can lead to serious problems, including respiratory irritation and warm weather illnesses, says the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Mold spreads due to air and moisture, and if an HVAC system produces condensation or is exposed to the elements, it can become an immediate breeding ground for mold.

To nip these problems in the bud, or rather, the spore, NADCA suggests an annual HVAC inspection. During an inspection, the condition of the property is categorized on the NADCA scale as Condition1, Condition 2, or Condition 3. Condition 1 represents normal ecology within the home; Condition 2 is assigned to homes which has been contaminated with settled spores or contains traces of actual mold growth; Condition 3 denotes a home with an active or dormant presence of spores and mold growth.

After the mold has been removed, be sure to keep the humidity in your house as low as possible. This can be achieved by using air conditioners and dehumidifiers in the more humid months, as well as making sure that there is plenty of ventilation in your home. Vents or fans over stoves and other moisture-bearing appliances are also a must.

Source: NADCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Signs of a Rental Scam

May 11, 2015 3:27 am

With a variety of websites to choose from and skyrocketing online search rates, it’s easy to miss the signs of a rental scam. If a deal seems too good to be true, take a moment to assess the situation before taking action. Here’s what to look for, according to the experts at RentalRoost.com

Can you see the property before making an agreement?
Insist on a face-to-face meeting with the landlord and a tour of the property. If the person on the other end says they’re “out of town” or otherwise unable to accommodate your request, it’s likely a scam.

Does rent compare to fair market rents in the area?
A major red flag to watch for is a rental priced out of the range of comparables in the neighborhood. A scammer will likely post unreasonably high rents to gain the most money – don’t fall for it.

Does the leasing agent have favorable reviews?

When searching for rentals, use reputable websites only. If you’ve found a rental that seems promising, conduct your own background check with a quick Google search. Look for complaints and anything that seems suspicious.

Is the landlord using a middleman?

Be mindful of any opportunities the landlord takes to delegate tasks. If he or she offers to pass along the keys through someone else, for example, you’re likely being duped.

Is the landlord requesting money up front?
Most scammers rely on wire transfers to secure your funds. No matter how appealing the deal seems, never wire money or otherwise pay without assessing the above factors.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Feng Shui Instrumental in Balancing a Home's Energies

May 8, 2015 1:57 pm

When it comes to real estate, sellers across the board will do whatever it takes to help their home stand out among the competition. And today, many sellers are turning to feng shui—a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for the people inhabiting it.

If you’re in the process of buying a home, the first thing you'll want to do is determine the kua number for the head of the family to learn if you're an east group or west group. If the head of the household is from an east group, the family will benefit from a house facing east, north, south or southeast. If the breadwinner is from the west group, the family will benefit from a house facing northwest, southwest, west or northeast.

Feng shui experts believe the natural environment is very powerful, so as long as your home has feng shui landscaping and physical surroundings, problems with the home’s direction can be overcome.

When looking for a home that exudes the best energy, try to avoid purchasing a home that sits on a dead end. You'll also want to stay away from houses located near cemeteries, places of worship, hospitals and prisons. And last but not least, don't live sandwiched between two buildings that dwarf your home.

Many who prescribe to the feng shui philosophy in regard to home sales believe that by arranging furniture and décor to align with nature, one can help sell their home faster. Feng shui is all about drawing harmony and good health into one’s life, and those who practice feng shui feel that this can be done by simply changing the location of a toilet or television set.

There are also a number of feng shui practices that sellers can incorporate into the home to create good energy to help get it sold.

For example, when staging a home using feng shui, it’s important that one uses lots of horizontal space to draw the eye to the corner diagonal to the door that leads to each room. Not only does this make the room feel larger, it also draws the eye to focus on a feng shui good luck area, which is very important to believers.

When it comes to bedrooms, you’ll want to move the bed into a position that has the most commanding view of the doorway, or the mouth of the Qi. Since the place you sleep is typically thought of as a sanctuary for privacy and peace, it’s important to arrange bedroom furniture in a way that will bring more harmony and balance to one’s life or marriage.

The kitchen is another important room to consider when incorporating feng shui into the home. A chef’s energy is said to be imparted from the food cooked in the kitchen, and a chef should never have their back to the door when preparing a meal. That’s why it’s vital that you place a mirror behind the oven or sink so you can always see what’s happening behind you.

And last but not least, don’t forget clutter. There’s nothing worse for feng shui followers (or your real estate agent) than having a home full of clutter. Be sure to keep the space tidy and free of any obstacles so buyers can experience a peaceful showing.

To learn more about incorporating feng shui into your home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Trees and Real Estate: How One Affects the Other

May 8, 2015 1:57 pm

A recent study conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® found that many home shoppers 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.

Additionally, 23 percent of recent buyers reported that being near a tree-lined park or recreational facilities was a deciding factor in their decision to buy in a particular community. This means that even if your home isn’t flush with trees, if the neighborhood is, it can go a long way toward helping your home sell faster.

When it comes to trees, the benefits are numerous. Not only do they provide shade, they also look elegant and help set up a boundary of privacy. Plus, when fall arrives, the changing leaves offer a breathtaking view.

If you're interested in buying a home that sits on a lot with a plethora of trees, it's crucial that you do your homework before signing any paperwork. Bringing in a professional to inspect the trees that sit on the property is a good way to ensure you know exactly what you're getting. Sick trees can pose a real threat, especially when you consider the impact falling branches can have on both the property and your home. Keep in mind that tree cleanup and removal is typically an expensive proposition, so you'll want to know well ahead of time whether you're going to need to take care of any issues in the near future.

But for all the people who enjoy the presence of a lot of trees on their property, there are just as many who would rather not have to deal with an overabundance of trees. For some parts of the country, the fall season can create an ever-falling collection of leaves and the time and money spent on raking can be a hassle. In addition, those with pools might not appreciate the blocking of the sun, and if you want satellite TV, being surrounded by woods will make this option rather difficult.

With a greater percentage of prospective buyers desiring trees today, it’s one feature that should certainly be highlighted within any and all marketing materials.

For more information about the role trees play in the home-buying process, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Man Caves Becoming a Staple in the Modern American Household

May 8, 2015 1:57 pm

When it comes to hunting for that perfect home, it's no surprise that men and women are attracted to different things. While women are typically more interested in a great looking kitchen, nice bathrooms and lots of closet space, men have their hearts set on finding a home that includes a space they can turn into their very own man cave.

As man caves continue to grow in popularity, it's more important than ever for sellers to point out space within the home that can be used for this very purpose.

In fact, according to a recent survey by Servicemagic.com, 40 percent of modern American households currently have a man cave, while another 13 percent are planning to add one in the next year.

While the purpose of a man cave is to provide a man a space to call his own, a place to proudly display collectables, posters and toys, if you're in the process of designing a man cave, you may want to think outside the box in terms of what to incorporate into the space. Items you could possibly showcase include neon bar signs, beer trays, vinyl records, vintage board games, shot glasses or matchbox cars. Sports fans can decorate with baseball bats, autographed photos and even Wheaties boxes that feature sports figures. Other popular items to build a room around include themes of bobbleheads, Pez, old action figures or superheroes.

Some man caves are more about the games inside than the decorations and collectables. Pinball machines, pool tables, basketball shooting games and shuffleboard tables have become increasingly popular over the years.

When one thinks of a man cave, they most often envision the downstairs game room complete with a bar and sports photos hanging everywhere. But not all man caves look this way. In fact, some are designed with a much more elegant touch.

Of course, no man cave is complete without the latest and greatest in technology. This means a large flat-screen television with the best high-definition around, a jukebox, play station or video game system as well as a high-quality sound system. Surround it all with some comfortable recliners and you have a room designed to meet the needs of males across the board.

For more information about creating your very own man cave, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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