RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
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 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in One Afternoon

March 16, 2018 4:12 pm

Do you dread opening your kitchen cabinets? Afraid of what might topple out and hit you in the head? Dread digging around for that spice you know is there somewhere? Never fear, Martha Stewart to the rescue with these great, painless organizational tips for taking your cabinets from mayhem to marvelous.

Start With Baskets and Bins
Hit up a yard sale or your local dollar store—or better yet, dig around in your garage or basement—and gather several sized baskets and storage bins to sort and house small items that tend to cause clutter, such as spices, teas, dish towels, cake decorating items and cleaning supplies.
Add a Life-Changing Lazy Susan
Tired of digging in the recesses of cabinets to unearth items? A lazy Susan turntable can change all that, especially when installed in a corner cabinet. You can even try one in the fridge. 

Spice Racks and Shelves
Invest in a wire spice rack that fits into your cabinet or mount one on a wall. Use plastic-coated wire shelves to double the storage capacity of existing shelves in your cabinets.

Cutting Boards and Pans
Get creative and install rows of tension rods between cabinet shelves in order to store cutting boards, baking sheets and other non-breakable flat items vertically. Think of it as a DIY plate rack.

Glasses and Plates
Group by style and function. For example, put all everyday glasses on one shelf, stemware on another. Stack ceramic plates in one group—no more than four to six together—and fine china in another.

Once your organizational system is in place, your cabinets will be neat, accessible and most importantly, stress-free.
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Home Improvement on the Rise: Be Sure to Prep for Your Project

March 16, 2018 4:12 pm

According to data compiled by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the amount spent on remodeling and home improvements is expected to see healthy growth by 2025.

While in 2015, the home improvement market reached $340 billion, the market is expected to increase 2 percent annually on average through 2025. That said, this forecast is slightly below the average pace of growth over the past two decades.

Demographically speaking, older homeowners are expected to account for the majority of spending in the market, but climbing mortgage interest rates and rising house prices pose problems for potential younger homeowners. Despite the challenges, millennials are still expected to represent a growth segment in the next wave of homeowners, many of whom will be buying affordable homes in need of renovations.

According to Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, “The shortage of affordable housing in much of the country makes the stock of older homes an attractive option for buyers willing to invest in upgrades."

Is there a home improvement project in your future? Make sure to take the following steps before you swing the hammer:
  • Consider the cost versus value. Do some research online and ask a local real estate expert how much return on investment you can expect from your project.
  • Talk to City Hall and find out if you’ll need a permit for your project.
  • Be realistic about DIY. Can you really tackle the project yourself, or is it prudent to hire a professional?
  • If hiring a construction pro or contractor, get recommendations and interview at least three. Make sure they’re licensed and get written estimates in advance. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


REALTORS® Fight for Permanent Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

March 16, 2018 4:12 pm

If you or someone you know fell on tough times and experienced a foreclosure, short sale or loan modification, mortgage forgiveness tax relief helped ease the burden. However, these tax provisions recently expired, which could mean the debt that lenders forgive in these scenarios could now be considered taxable income.

However, according to recent testimony from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) before the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy at a hearing evaluating recently expired tax provisions, the exclusion for forgiven home mortgage debt following a foreclosure, short sale or loan modification due to financial hardship should be made permanent to provide relief to troubled borrowers and minimize the damage to families, neighborhoods and communities.

NAR has long advocated for mortgage forgiveness tax relief, policy that was first established in 2007 at the onset of the housing and economic downturn, which has expired and been extended several times. In early 2018, it was retroactively extended to cover 2017. Without the exclusion, the debt that lenders forgive is considered taxable income and adds a tax burden at a time when an individual or family has experienced a true economic loss. NAR believes most of these people are already in financial distress and likely unable to pay additional taxes.

The good news is, home equity is on the rise and short sales and foreclosures are down. However, there are still about 2.5 million homes that are underwater, according to industry data. While this is far less than the height of the recession when nearly a quarter of mortgaged homes in the U.S. had negative equity, NAR believes the tax exclusion is still a critical part of helping those homeowners in financial distress get back on their feet.

Talk to your real estate agent to find out the current state of your home equity, and for more information about NAR's mortgage debt cancellation tax relief efforts, visit

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips for Buying a New-Construction Home

March 16, 2018 4:12 pm

Thanks to the shortage of available inventory in most markets, you can expect to start seeing more and more new construction. Buying a new-construction home is different than buying an existing home, however, so be ready to attack the process with a different mindset and specific strategies. Here are five important tips to keep in mind from U.S. News and World Report:

1. Choose an agent who works with builders. Start by selecting a real estate agent who has expertise working with builders and new-construction properties. He or she will be able to steer you toward a reputable firm whose designs suit what you’re looking for, in the location you desire.
2. Research the builder. Be sure to do your own research on the builder to determine the quality of their product and their overall credibility. Check online reviews, the state licensing board, local court records and even Google to find out if the builder has any pending lawsuits, complaints or disciplinary actions. Take it a step further and talk directly to past clients. A reputable builder will be happy to offer referrals.
3. Spend your money on size and location. When building from scratch, it’s tempting to spend your money on upgrades such as high-end countertops and bathroom fixtures, but that can quickly put you over budget. Instead, focus on choosing the right location and getting the square footage you need. Upgrades can always be made down the line.
4. Learn how to read a floorplan. Floorplans are foreign territory for many of us, so talk to your builder and real estate agent about how to accurately interpret them. Many builders offer virtual reality technology that turns the floorplan into a realistic 3D experience. Better still, visit a home that was designed with your floorplan so that you can get a firsthand feel of what you’re buying.
5. Get a warranty and an inspection. Most builders offer warranties, so be sure to ask if yours does and, if so, what exactly it covers. Certain companies, for example, offer a one-year warranty on workmanship, a two-year warranty on mechanical and electrical elements, five years on water leaks and 10 years on structure. Also, be sure to get an independent inspection before you move in. A home inspector will help identify any problems before the builder’s warranty expires.
The above guidelines will help make your new-construction buying experience a happy and successful one.
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


In this Edition: New-Construction Purchase Guidelines

March 16, 2018 4:12 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines five tips you must keep in mind if you’re planning on buying a new-construction home. Other topics covered this month include a foolproof plan for organizing your kitchen cabinets and how to prevent fraud on your smartphone. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Cocktail Party Tips for Newbies

March 15, 2018 9:12 am

One of the best ways to ease into home entertaining is the cocktail party: it’s festive, yet relaxed, and saves you the stress and expense of providing a full-course meal. A cocktail party also places understood parameters on the length of the party, denoting an affair that takes place prior to dinner.

If you’re new to cocktail parties, however, it’s easy to get tripped up in the do’s and don’ts. Here are some great tips from the experts at for making your cocktail party a great success:

Keep the guest list in check. While too few people will make any party a bust, cocktail parties should be fairly intimate in nature as opposed to an all-out bash. Aim for a dozen or so guests.

Streamline the cocktails. Have enough beer and wine on hand to accommodate your guests, then make your party festive by serving one or two specialty cocktails to suit the season, such as margaritas and cosmos in summer, or Manhattans and martinis in winter. Pre-mix your specialty cocktails and have them available in decorative decanters or pitchers so that guests can help themselves.

Have enough food, but not too much. Resist the urge to go overboard on food by keeping in mind that guests are not expecting dinner. Prepare a couple of hot hors d’oeuvres, then make the rest no-prep items, such as olives, seasoned nuts, one or two fine cheeses, and crudites.

Do all your prep in advance. Most importantly, make sure all your work is done in advance so that you can actually participate and enjoy your party. Make your hot appetizers ahead of time, place everything out before guests arrive, including small plates, napkins, water and anything else that might be needed so that you’re not running around handling requests. All that’s left to do? Enjoy!

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5 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

March 15, 2018 9:12 am

(Family Features)--Although women are making strides in the corporate world, there is still work that can be done to level the landscape.

Research from Catalyst, a global nonprofit focused on empowering and accelerating women in business, shows the needle is moving, albeit slowly. In nearly 10 years, the number of women in senior roles in the United States increased just 1 percent. At Standard & Poor's 500 index companies, overall women's representation is far behind: 5.2 percent CEOs, 11 percent top earners and 26.5 percent senior-level officials and managers. Less than 5 percent of senior level positions are held by women of color. Men still lead more than 95 percent of the most powerful companies in the United States.

If you're looking for ways to promote change in your workplace, explore these five steps that can help build a work environment where everyone can advance and succeed:

Engage in programs that celebrate women of color. Tap into resources that honor women in leadership and foster growth for aspiring women leaders from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, such as those available through Catalyst. The nonprofit offers a host of ongoing workshops, programs, trainings and consulting services designed to promote inclusive workplaces, along with events around the world. For example, the "Catalyst Skyline Takeover," which is a visual realization of the international business community's commitment to greater diversity, inclusion and gender equality in workplaces around the world features dozens of global companies "lighting up" their buildings with the female symbol.

Assess and formalize pay scales. As numerous studies indicate, wage disparity is one of the most obvious signs of inequality in the workplace. A fair pay scale outlines specific responsibilities and corresponding compensation rates and can be applied to roles across the board regardless of race, gender or other potential discriminatory factors.

Ensure growth opportunities exist. Leveling the pay scale is an important step, but ensuring equal access to the positions at the higher end of that scale is an essential supporting move. Simply saying you'll pay a woman the same as a man in the same job falls short if all candidates, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity are not given the same chance to compete for more senior positions.

Implement mentorship programs. Positive role models can give future leaders the vision to dream big and the guidance to make those dreams a reality. Putting aspiring women leaders in close contact with other women who have attained success in their field helps set a course toward achievement. It also helps men to advance and develop unbiased leadership. Since the majority of business leaders are currently men, change for women can only be accelerated if all those in leadership positions work together.

Support parental involvement. Historically, the issue of parenting and the workforce has been dominated by discussions around maternity leave policies, but more recently, that dialogue has evolved. Men, too, desire more time with their families, and through equal parental leave policies, workplaces can allow women and men within all types of family structures to thrive in their careers and at home.

Source: Catalyst

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Prevent Home Flooding Disasters

March 15, 2018 9:12 am

When it comes to home damage, a busted pipe can create major havoc. But how can you plan ahead to save your space for water damage?

"The best solution is prevention," says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating. Below are Petri's top prevention tips.

Locate and tag your valves. It's important to be able to locate and turn off a main water or gas valve quickly in case of emergency. Petri offers this as a free service, but most plumbers will find and tag these for you.

Inspect and maintain your pipes. Most home flooding damage is caused by corroded, rusty or frozen pipes. Have your pipes inspected annually to check for problems and proper insulation. Even with spring around the corner, temperatures are still dipping below freezing, and burst pipes are still a possibility.

Look for signs of a problem. Pay attention to signs of a leak, including an increase in your water bill, banging pipes, rust stains, moisture on the walls or floor, or wet soil at the foundation. Also, search for weaknesses in supply and drain lines around toilets, water heaters and washing machines.

Protect drain lines. Never pour grease down the drain. Plant trees away from drain lines so roots won't damage pipes. If you live downhill or below street level, you may need a plumber to install a backflow prevention assembly to prevent sewer drainage from backing up.

Tackle problems quickly and professionally. If you suspect a leak or other plumbing issue, don't procrastinate repairs or have someone who isn't qualified attempt the project. A minor inconvenience can become a major problem if it isn't handled quickly and effectively. You risk more significant damage to floors or ceilings, as well as possible mold contamination.

Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating

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There’s an App for Personal Finance, Too

March 14, 2018 9:12 am

Where would we be without our favorite apps? From tracking our steps to buying our movie tickets, smartphone applications have enhanced and simplified our lives on many levels. According to financial expert and author Eric Tyson, you can also make your financial life easier and more convenient with personal finance apps.

While not every app is right for every person, Tyson, the author of “Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies®” says the following personal finance apps are usually safe bets:

FRED. The St. Louis Fed's signature economic database, FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), provides a wealth of data on the economy and financial markets through this app, without ads.

Vanguard. According to Tyson, the Vanguard app "has a broad array of cost-effective funds with solid long-term performance.” He also recommends the T. Rowe Price and Fidelity apps, and advises checking to see what apps are offered from your favorite investment firm or bank.

Goodbudget. Tyson likes the simplicity and practicality of this expense-tracking app. The basic version provides up to one year of expense-tracking history in 10 main categories. There’s also a paid or premium version, which provides up to five years of expense tracking with unlimited categories, as well as email support.

GasBuddy. This free app will show you gas prices at various service stations in your area so you can compare and get a good price when you fill up.

Tollsmart Toll Calculator. This is a low-cost app that lets you compare toll costs for alternative routes.

Camelcamelcamel. A price tracker that scans items on Amazon, shows you their price history, and sends you alerts when a product you're interested in drops in price.

PriceGrabber. This app scans items everywhere online, allowing you to save money on commonly purchased items.

Eric Tyson, MBA, is a best-selling personal finance author, counselor, and writer. He is the author of five national best-selling financial books including “Investing For Dummies,” “Personal Finance For Dummies,” and “Home Buying Kit For Dummies.” He has appeared on NBC's Today show, ABC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS, and CNN.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Make a Living Landscape

March 14, 2018 9:12 am

Whether you just moved into a new home with a less than optimal landscape, or you're ready to revamp the landscape in your existing spot, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) shares these tips to help homeowners become backyard ready and make the most of their outdoor living room.

Assess the Existing Living Landscapes. Take a look at what currently exists in your yard to determine what you love about it and what you’d like to change. Don’t be afraid to ask the previous owner about the plantings. They might be able to provide a list of landscape items to make your job easier.

Plan for Outdoor Living. Determine what will work with the existing living landscape for your entire family, including your kids and pets. Take into account your family needs and lifestyle. Then, research options for enhancing your family yard with hardy turfgrass, climate-appropriate plants and a mix of adaptive and native plants to foster biodiversity. Plant to preserve your corner of the ecosystem with a good mix of grass, trees, shrubs and flowering plants to support our pollinator friends: birds, bees and butterflies. 

Plant With Your Pets in Mind. If you have a turfgrass lawn, you’ve got a playground. However, you should know that there are many types of grasses—and some are better than others for pets, especially dogs. Also, if your yard has artificial or synthetic grass, you’ll want to replace it with real turf. Plastic grass is bad for the environment, hard to keep clean, and can get too hot for your pet’s paws. And, remember, avoid toxic plants that can be harmful to pets.

Remember: Right Plant, Right Place. When you’re ready to dig in and plant in your family yard, remember the “Golden Rule” of living landscapes: put the right plant in the right place. Select plants that will thrive in your climate zone. The microclimate in your new neighborhood may be very different from the one you just moved from—even if you didn’t relocate a great distance. Familiarize yourself with your plant hardiness zone to determine what types of turf, trees, shrubs and plants will thrive in your new location. 

Learn About Restrictions and Rules. Some neighborhoods with homeowners associations (HOAs) have restrictions about what you can and cannot plant in your yard. Other communities may have watering limitations during part of the year requiring a smart irrigation system. Become familiar with the rules so you can plan accordingly.

Conduct an Outdoor Power Equipment Inventory. The power equipment you needed at your previous home may not suffice at the new property, or perhaps it’s time to upgrade your equipment to better suit your needs. Take an inventory of your existing outdoor power equipment (lawn mower, leaf blower, etc.) and match it against the needs of your yard. At the very least, now’s also a good time to get your outdoor power equipment serviced for the upcoming season.

Source: OPEI,,

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