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

Simple Tips for Incorporating More Light into Your Living Space

January 9, 2015 3:27 pm

If you want to give your home the best chance of selling at the price you want, put a little light on the subject. After all, poor lighting can make a room look gloomy. And it’s well known in the real estate industry that buyers look for excellent lighting when shopping for a place to live. That means displaying the right combination of natural night, lamps and other sources of light.

This may seem obvious, but sunshine is a great way to light a room, so take down drapes and curtains and let the light shine in. Not only will this brighten a room, it will also help with your staging by making it easy for potential buyers to imagine what curtains, drapes and blinds they want to bring into each room. Also, be sure to clean the windows as they’ll be more prominent when curtains are taken out of the equation. Cleaning windows will also let the light shine brighter.

Lighting can also be used to showcase aspects of your home that you want to emphasize. While spotlight lamps are great for showcasing fireplaces or paintings, if you have dimmers, use them to create the right mood from room to room. If potential buyers look at your home when it’s darker outside, make the playroom bright and cheery and dim the lights in the dining room to set a more romantic mood.

It’s also important to take a good look at your fixtures and the shape they’re in. If they’re cracked, worn-out or just out of date, take the time to replace them. And go with something simple in order to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. Incorporating simple fixtures into the space will also help you keep more money in your wallet while making it easier for buyers to imagine what fixtures they’d like to install. Don’t overlook light switches either—they can get worn out and stained after years of hands touching them. Make sure they’re clean, and buy new ones if necessary.

You’ll also want to be sure to pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathroom. Add high-wattage bulbs in the kitchen, particularly in cooking areas. If your bathroom needs a little sprucing up, the right light can go a long way toward creating a bright space.

If you’re simply looking to bring the lighting up a notch in your home, there are some simple, inexpensive ways to achieve this goal. Whether it’s buying bulbs with a higher wattage, cleaning your lampshades (or buying new ones), trimming trees/shrubbery or cleaning curtains and drapes, incorporating extra light into your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

For more tips on bringing light into your home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Selling to the Masses: Appealing to Millennials

January 9, 2015 3:27 pm

As we make our way through 2015, the millennial generation (those between the ages of 24 and 32) will continue to move the real estate industry forward. Since they’re just about the perfect age for buying their first home, it’s important to think about these buyers when preparing your home for sale.

Many millennials are often turned on by the latest and greatest technology, so incorporating smart technology devices into your home will go a long way toward impressing them. A small investment in home automation may also be worthwhile, as this generation wants to be able to turn the lights on/off—and the heat up/down—through their mobile devices.

A recent survey by The National Association of REALTORS® revealed that millennials accounted for slightly over 28 percent of all home sales, trailing Gen Xers by a very slight margin. In addition, the report showed that the median age of millennial homebuyers was 28, their median income was $66,200 and they typically bought a 1,700-square-foot home costing $165,000.

When it comes to the inside of the home, millennials are impressed with entertainment rooms over dining rooms, and offices over extra bedrooms. They care about technology and environmentally friendly fixtures, so be sure to highlight these features.

If your neighborhood is getting younger and hipper, make sure you leave some information out about trendy restaurants, new stores and local hotspots. It’s also a good idea to compile some information about nearby pre-schools for those who may be thinking about starting a family in the not too distant future.

In terms of staging the home to attract millennial buyers, be sure to incorporate unique and cool looking furniture into the space. In addition, replace old curtains and carpets with something a little more hip. If you want to be sure you’re heading down the right path, ask any millennials you know for their honest opinion. If there are things they feel are old-fashioned, it’s a good bet that their opinion will be shared by others.

You may think your home won’t appeal to a millennial buyer because the neighborhood skews old, with a lot of families and high school-aged kids in the area, however, this signifies that there will most likely be a big turnover in the next decade. With so many millennial buyers entering the market, sellers shouldn’t dismiss the possibility.

To learn more about appealing to millennial buyers, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Automation and Its Value in Today's Tech-Driven World

January 9, 2015 3:27 pm

Smart homes are all the rage these days as technology continues to infiltrate the industry. In fact, smart home automation is not only set to continue to rise, it’s expected to become a $15 trillion industry in the next decade. And it’s quickly becoming one of the most asked about features among prospective homebuyers.

However, many people are still confused about these automated systems. While they may have seen them on TV, heard people talking about them on various social media sites or know someone who has already implemented some of these smart features into their home, until they have personal experience with these systems, they don’t truly understand the value.

When it comes to incorporating smart features into a home, connectability to a central system is key. This means that you’re able to control all of the home’s systems and appliances with the click of a button.

Today’s automated systems can control all sorts of things within the home—HVACs, appliances, lights, locks, electronics and even the security system. Making it even more convenient, all of this can be done through apps on a smartphone or tablet, so even if you’re away, you can call or click-in and lock the doors, shut the blinds, turn on the dishwasher, dim the lights, record your favorite TV show, turn on your sprinkler system or control the temperature.

Smart refrigerators are another popular feature in many homes today. Not only do these refrigerators allow you to create a list of groceries, they also add items to the list automatically. And if you happen to forget the list when you head out to the store, a simple call will have it delivered to your mobile device.

More advanced smart homes may have security systems complete with cameras, motion sensors and even a link to the local police station or security company.

If your home is equipped with these types of systems, it’s important that you talk with your agent so that they’re not only aware of these features, but so they can use them to their advantage when meeting with potential buyers. The last thing you want is for a prospective buyer to walk away because they see these systems as a nuisance.

A home with the latest gadgets and smart technology will pique the interest of a homebuyer and may lead to a quicker sale at a better price.

For more information about smart technology, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Ready to Sell? Top Tips for Selling Quickly and at a Good Price

January 9, 2015 3:27 pm

Preparing your home for sale can be a time-consuming process. But when it comes to selling quickly and for a good price, real estate professionals across the board agree that there are certain things sellers should pay attention to in order to ensure that the process goes smoothly for everyone involved.

Here are some of the most common pieces of advice you should take into consideration if you’re planning on putting your home on the market this year.

Don’t Neglect the Little Things. Go around the house and make a list of some DIY projects you can complete on your own and cross them off little by little. Concentrate on small tasks such as painting, caulking, cleaning windows and even fixing small plumbing issues. The more things you take care of before listing your home, the less a prospective buyer can find wrong with the space.

Remember Curb Appeal. First impressions are a big deal, so it’s vital that you put in the time to make sure both the lawn and the front of your house look their best. While you don’t necessarily have to splurge on a paint job, power washing the exterior of your home might be warranted. It’s also important to clean the gutters and remove any weeds from the lawn. In addition, plant some flowers, trim the shrubs and wash off the walkway and driveway. Make your curb appeal something house hunters will remember.

Remove Clutter. Clutter is a big turnoff, making a house look like a storage facility, not a home. Clear the clutter by saying goodbye to your magazines, boxes, old clothes and any other items you don’t need. Take a look at your house through the eyes of a prospective buyer and be honest with yourself. Do you really need everything in it?

Stage the House. When it comes to decorating, everyone’s tastes differ, so it’s important to keep in mind that just because you like something doesn’t mean others will. Trust the professionals when it comes to getting your house ready and hire a stager. They have the expertise and knowledge to know what helps homes sell, and with a small investment, your home will move faster and maybe even for a higher price.

Don’t be Unreasonable. The home-selling process can be time-consuming, but setting unrealistic expectations will turn the process into even more of a challenge. Therefore, it’s important to not only keep an open mind when it comes to suggestions from your agent, it’s also crucial to list your home at a reasonable price. In the end, remember that you hired your agent for a reason, so make the process a pleasant one for everyone involved by listening to—and working with—them.

For more tips about preparing your home for sale, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Home Automation

January 9, 2015 3:27 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters, brought to you through our company's membership in RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), examines some of the most common advice sellers should take into consideration before putting their home on the market. Other topics covered this month include simple ways to deal with clutter and how to appeal to millennial buyers. 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.


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The Hottest Bathroom Remodeling Trends

January 9, 2015 2:57 am

The modern bathroom is so much more than a utilitarian spot. It’s a place to relax (think home spa) and a fun way to use form and function to impress your guests and up the quality of your life. Designers and contractors reported recently on the hottest bath design trends to Wall St. Journal home advisors:

Showers and baths
– Whirlpool bath tubs in a variety of sizes are becoming more popular each year. For shower lovers, the news is dual shower heads for doubling the fun or ‘rain’ shower heads that provide a rain forest-like experience.

Vanities – Changing the vanity is the quickest way to give your bathroom a bold new look. Vanities today come in varied materials from marble to ceramic, glass and more – and all the rage these days are vessel sinks, with basins that sit on top of (instead of being recessed into) the counter top.

Mirrors – Modern bathroom mirrors are another easy way to bring personality into your bath. You can find mirrors in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, framed in anything you like from leather to snakeskin to colorful mosaic tile. The latest innovation? Fog-free mirrors to hasten your morning routine.

Floors – Ceramic tile, stone, and traditional porcelain continue to be popular choices. But laminate wood flooring is gaining in popularity – and the newest trend is electrically heated flooring to keep your feet warm on those cold winter mornings.

Lighting
– Traditional vanity lighting above the mirror is useful when you’re shaving or getting ready to go out. But lighting designs have come a long way. Consider using recessed or spot lighting to highlight certain features of your bathroom and give the place an airy feel – and dimmers are useful when you want to take a nice, long soak.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Your Budget: Rethink These Modern-Day "Necessities"

January 9, 2015 2:57 am

Compare your monthly expenses to those of your grandparents (maybe even your parents), and you’ll probably find that your expense list is quite a bit longer. Over the decades, more and more conveniences, habits, and gadgets have found their way into our everyday lives. And gradually we’ve accepted them as normal, even necessary. (For instance, who thinks twice about paying a cell phone bill—talk, text, and data—these days?)

If we’re honest, we’ll admit most of these things don’t make us happy. (Certainly, the personal debt burden doesn’t.) That’s why author Donna Skeels Cygan is nudging us to rethink our expenses and “pay attention.”

“We all know we need to spend less and save more,” she says. “Well, when you cut out some of the big-ticket items that we seem to think are necessities—but that really aren’t—you’ll have a lot less stress and more financial breathing room.”

Here, Cygan spotlights 10 modern-day expenses that might be keeping you from financial freedom:

A big fancy house. You see gorgeous pictures of others’ homes on TV and Facebook and think, My home needs to look like that, too. Newsflash: Most people don’t live in spacious, picture-perfect homes, regardless of the impression social media may send. And even if they do, are they really happier than those in smaller, more modest homes?

Moreover, consider why you want to upgrade your living space. Is it because you’re a six-person family in a two-bedroom house? Or is because you just want to impress the occasional visitor (who, if he or she is a true friend, won’t care about the size or lavishness of your house anyway)?

If you already own “too much home,” you might downsize to a more modest (and less expensive) one—and purge a lot of your extraneous possessions while you’re at it. One unexpected benefit is that you may find that your friends are envious of the fact that you’ve been able to simplify your life.

A new car. If your neighbor just got a new car, you may find yourself thinking, My car is six years old…maybe it’s time for a new one. But ask yourself: Is my current automobile impractical because of size, poor gas mileage, or the fact that it requires a steady string of repairs?

If not, take a step back and remind yourself, My car will last another six years if I maintain it, and maybe longer. I do not need a new car. I want to be financially responsible, which requires saving and investing my money wisely. Then, focus on the things you can do with the money you’re not putting toward a car payment.

More clothes, shoes, and accessories. Many of us want to look stylish and trendy, and some of us even view shopping as a form of entertainment. Problem is, a frequent shopping habit isn’t easy on the wallet…and it’s likely that most of your purchases languish in your closet, where they’re rarely (if ever) worn. So the next time you feel like hitting the mall, ask yourself if there’s anything you really need. If not, resolve to wait—perhaps until the next season change—to add to your wardrobe.

An expensive, exclusive education for your child. If the tuition is way over your head, it’s time to look into other options. Remind yourself that private schools and colleges often don’t deserve the prestige their PR departments have created. (And while your child’s future is important, you need to be saving for your own retirement—a fund many well-meaning parents neglect while funding their children’s educations!)

If your family decides to take out college loans, Cygan recommends making sure some of the loan balance will be repaid by your child. Knowing that his education isn’t a freebie will make it more meaningful to him—and may also sharpen his motivation to graduate in four years!

Over-the-top gifts. Every holiday season (and birthday and special occasion) you overspend on gifts and are left with a financial hangover when your credit card bill arrives. You need to have an honest conversation with yourself: Do you think the price of a gift has any correlation with the appreciation from the recipient, or with how your friends or family feel about you?

It is important to set a budget for holiday gift-buying and to think creatively about gifts (or better yet, plan special experiences instead of purchasing gifts).

Frequent restaurant meals. Yes, dining out is convenient. But done regularly, it can also be awfully expensive. Deep down, you know that with a little planning ahead and prep work, you can save a lot of money by cooking at home. You may also find that staying at home is relaxing, and chances are, most of your home-cooked dishes will be healthier than restaurant meals.

A full complement of gadgets, devices, games, and channels. Yes, it’s nice to have (literally) hundreds of channels to flip through. But how many of them do you actually watch? Would you be just as satisfied with a much less expensive video-streaming subscription? And what about “toys” like tablets, smartphones, and video game systems? While they’re entertaining and often legitimately useful, how much of your time and attention do they take up?

Think about what you’re not getting done and the time your family is not spending with one another. At the very least, it might be time to set screen-time limits, and to stop purchasing each new update for your gadgets.

Lavish vacations. How often have you booked a trip to some overhyped destination just because it’s what you do every year…or because it’s what the neighbors are doing…or because you’re seduced by a slick ad promising a “discounted” (but still pricey) air fare and hotel rate…or because you think you “deserve” it?

But the truth is, these trips rarely live up to our expectations…and the residual bills haunt us long after we’ve left Paradise behind. Be honest: Would a couple of long weekends in a rustic cabin in the mountains be nearly as enjoyable as a blowout trip to a fancy resort?

A constant parade of extracurriculars for your kids. These days, some kids are busier than many adults. Between school, homework, sports, music lessons, volunteering, and more, they’re “working” the equivalent of 70- or 80-hour weeks. But the truth is that enrolling your children in two or three activities each is causing you to spend yourself silly and is stressing out everyone involved (especially your kids, whom all of this is supposed to benefit most).

Yes, your intentions are good, but it might be time to cut back. Allow your children to choose one or two activities each—and if it’s something inexpensive like YMCA soccer (as opposed to a traveling team), so much the better. Be sure to use some of your newfound free time to do something meaningful as a family, whether that’s game night or a trip to the park.

Your gym membership. Belonging to a gym and participating in various types of exercises is healthy. But unless you’re a devoted, enthusiastic attendee of each spin or Pilates class, consider dropping that gym membership. Do you really use it enough to justify the expense? Plus, walking is free, and exercise videos are cheap. You might even be able to start a neighborhood walking club and get to know your neighbors!

“It’s important to put thought into the parts of your budget you can control, because some modern-day expenses—like the rising costs of healthcare, gas, and food—are out of your direct control,” Cygan concludes. “The first step is to recognize that ‘things’ rarely bring us joy—including those things our culture tells us we need. We don’t need them. And when we make changes based on our real values rather than following the herd, we’re more in control, which translates to real happiness.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Food Trends to Try in 2015

January 8, 2015 2:57 am

Is Paleo out? Are we eating carbs yet? Is kale still the queen of green? Nutrition preferences will remain largely health-conscious in 2015, according to Pollock Communications’ annual What’s Trending in Nutrition Survey. Clean labels, convenience, cost and taste will continue to dictate consumer choices when shopping for healthy foods.

What’s on deck for this year? The results are in:
• Superfoods. Seeds, nuts, Greek yogurt, kale, coconut products and avocado remain the prevailing food choices for consumers.

• Green tea. When it comes to better beverages, green tea received the highest marks. Dieticians also recommend the drink for its myriad health benefits.

• Good-for-you proteins. Most consumers rank animal-based proteins, such as meat, fish and poultry, high on their list of quality foods. Fish, eggs, legumes and soy are also popular proteins.

• Ancient grains. Consumers and dieticians agree that ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth, spelt and freekeh will be on many grocery lists this year.
Source: Pollock Communications

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Burst Pipes May Cause More Damage Than You Think

January 8, 2015 2:57 am

Each winter, frozen and burst pipes result in billions of dollars in property damage for homeowners. Aside from water wreaking havoc, environmental organization Clark Sief Clark (CSC) cautions that other issues, such as mold, can also add to mounting costs for repairs.

As water freezes, it expands and can put tremendous pressure on both metal and plastic pipes. If a pipe does break, supply lines can easily release hundreds of gallons or more of water each day. This water will gradually make its way to the lowest elevation it can reach – second floor incidents, for example, can cause water damage on lower levels of the property, including basements and crawl spaces.

Along with the destruction caused by broken pipes to materials and furnishing, mold can also quickly begin to grow in damp conditions. The presence of mold can impact the indoor air quality, triggering everything from allergies to asthma. Some types of mold are even known to cause infections in people with weak immune systems.

“In addition to concerns over the presence of mold in a property that has suffered damage due to a burst pipe, many older properties still contain asbestos and lead-based paints that can be an issue for anyone in the area during cleanup and repair activities,” says Franco Seif, CSC.

Source: CSC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting Professionals Top Choice for Homeowners

January 8, 2015 2:57 am

According to home network Porch.com, painters ranked highest for homeowner searches in 2014. This search term was followed closely by plumbers and handymen.

"It's no surprise that painters show up so high in the results," said Asha Sharma, Porch. "Painting is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to freshen up a home. For home sellers, interior and exterior painting provides a really good return on investment as you prepare to sell. On the homebuyer side, painting is a great way to add some personal touch whether it's repainting interior walls or improving the exterior curb appeal."

In addition to painters, plumbers and handymen scored big given the yearlong need for homeowners to solicit their services. Whether homeowners need help with projects like appliance installation, pipe repairs, or water heater maintenance, plumbers are a need that every homeowner is likely to encounter along their home journey. On a similar note, handymen and handywomen are often called about to help homeowners complete numerous projects around the home.

The remaining popular searches included:
  • Electrician
  • Roofer
  • General Contractor
  • Landscaper
  • Carpenter
  • HVAC Contractor
Interestingly enough, these results were relatively the same across the country, with each of the four major regions seeking similar services.

Source: Porch.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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