731 W Skippack Pike
August 28, 2014 12:54 am
Overwatering your lawn is not only detrimental to your water bill, but can also disrupt the ecosystem, advises the Environmental Protection Agency. Healthy lawns are inhibited by too much saturation, so skip the daily sprinkler and water only when necessary. Here’s why:
- Your lawn only needs one inch of water a week in growing season, and overwatering can encourage growth of root systems that are shallow, not strong.
- Weeds thrive in moist conditions, and an overwatered lawn prevents oxygen from reaching the roots, which leaves the grass vulnerable to insects and plant diseases.
– Overwatering can lead to runoff, which carries fertilizers and pesticides into storm drains and larger public waterways.
If you notice your lawn is turning brown in color, don’t panic. This signals the start of a natural dormant period, which is not at all harmful to your lawn.
To cut back on watering, consider scaling down the size of your lawn by planting trees, shrubs and other ground coverings. In addition, richer soil holds water for longer stretches of time, so add mulch or compost to conserve even more.
Source: Consumer Reports
Published with permission from RISMedia.
August 28, 2014 12:54 am
According to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank, the majority of Americans (80 percent) across all ages say they are knowledgeable about how to achieve a good credit rating. Half check their score once a year, while 30 percent check it every few years or less. One fifth do not know their score.
On average, Americans believe a good credit score is 660. Among millennials, that number drops to 625, and those aged 35-54 and 55 and older believe a good score is 675.
Overall findings indicate that while most Americans believe they have a solid understanding of what a good credit score is, there is confusion around attaining it. Harris offers a number of basic tips to manage and improve a credit score, including:
Check your credit report.
This should be done at least 60-90 days before applying for a loan in order to make sure that the report is correct. If it is incorrect, notify a credit agency before you apply for a loan. Checking your score will not change the number.
Pay your bills on time.
When a bill is paid late, or is even 30 days past due, it can show up on your credit report for up to seven years.
Use credit when needed.
If you never use credit of any kind, it doesn't mean that you'll have a great credit history. Lenders generally prefer to see some type of satisfactory payment history.
Use your cards lightly.
Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your score by paying the balance off and keeping it low.
Consider that credit needs to be built up.
A credit score is something that can take time to improve, so don't expect immediate changes and plan ahead. Your credit behavior can take months to be reflected in your score.
"The good news here is most Americans are not far off in what they believe is considered a good score, which we generally tell customers is in the 680-720 range. However, there's some room for improvement," notes Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, Head of Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank. "Encouraging education around credit scores is a major focus for us. A credit score stays with you as you go through your financial life, and can impact major decisions.”
Survey results cited in this report are from interviews with an online sample of 1,004 Americans conducted between July 2nd and July 4th, 2014. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
Source: BMO Harris Bank
Published with permission from RISMedia.
August 21, 2014 12:12 pm
With the new school year starting soon, school districts are reminding parents that truancy isn't just the student's and school's problem, but may have serious ramifications for parents as well.
Truancy is the legal name for skipping school. In most states, truancy occurs whenever a student a certain age or under (17 in most states, 16 in some) is absent from school without an excuse from a parent or guardian. Although skipping school is often romanticized in pop culture, according to U.S. News & World Report, school districts are cracking down on both truant students and their parents.
So what can happen if your child skips school?
Discipline for 'Truant' Students
Though truancy refers to skipping school in general, a "truant" is generally a child who has skipped school more than the number of times allowed by a particular school district.
Students who are considered truant will be subject to discipline by the school district, which can include being barred from participating in sports or other activities, suspension, or even expulsion from the school. Increasingly, however, schools are getting tough on truancy by also referring truancy cases to juvenile courts.
In Arizona's Pima County, for example, a student who has three unexcused absences from school is referred to the Center for Juvenile Alternatives, which works with the county's juvenile court system to offer the student, and the student's parents, the choice of a diversion program or court-ordered sanctions.
Criminal Charges against Parents May Be Possible
An increasing number of states are also filing criminal charges against the parents of truant children.
For example, dozens of parents in Baltimore were sentenced to jail for their children's chronic truancy. And one California mother was sentenced to 180 days in county jail after her two kids missed a total of 116 days of school in 2011.
A couple in Virginia even faced criminal charges after their kids were repeatedly tardy for school. The couple faced up to $3,000 in fines under Virginia's truancy laws after their children were late to school 85 times over the course of several months.
Withdrawing Your Child from School
If you're dissatisfied with your school's curriculum, treatment of your child, or rules regarding truancy, one option is to withdraw your child from public school altogether.
Although withdrawing your child from public school will allow you to homeschool your child, you may still be responsible for adhering to any state laws regarding truancy as they apply to homeschooled children.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
August 21, 2014 12:12 pm
Modern kitchens are generally built with space and convenience in mind. But if you’re living with an older kitchen, there are easy additions you may want to consider to maximize available space and cooking area.
The Wall St. Journal’s home and living editors provide their top six suggestions:
- Kitchen island – A kitchen island can double or triple both food preparation and storage space. An inexpensive portable island can give you space and flexibility.
- Wall oven – It’s a lot easier to baste a turkey at eye level than it is when it’s below the stove – and there’s something to be said for the extra elbow room it will give you when you are multi-tasking in the kitchen. Lastly, a wall oven with two compartments gives you extra baking space and the availability of convection or rotisserie options.
- Cabinet organizers/lazy susans/pullout shelves – Easy access to pantry items and pots and pans make food preparation easier and faster. Consider having lazy susans, pull-out shelves and other organizers built into your kitchen cabinets.
- Pot and pan racks – If cabinet space is an issue, think about wall-mounted racks to keep you most-used pots and pans within easy reach. A trip to the home store or a look online will yield plenty of options.
- Dishwashers – Today’s large capacity and energy-efficient dishwashers are a boon to the family cook. Install one if you don’t already have one built in – or replace the one you have if it’s more than seven or eight years old.
- Ventilation system – Experts say that cooking churns out airborne contaminants like nothing else in the home – and even food that smells great while it’s cooking doesn’t smell so good hours or days later. With the right ventilation system, odors and contaminants will become a thing of the past.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
April 17, 2013 7:18 pm
Chances are, whether you’re a buyer or a seller, there’s at
least one room in your home that you wish could be bigger. We don’t blame you.
After all, who couldn’t use more space? But, before you pick up that sledge
hammer and start moving walls, keep reading. This week, we have tips on how to
get the most out of the space you already have.
Pick the Right Color:
In this case, lighter paint colors are the clear winner. While darker
colors may have more personality, they also have a tendency to leave the room
feeling closed off and a tad claustrophobic. Remember, when selling, neutrals
are also key. If possible, your best bet is to continue the light shade into adjacent
rooms, so that it tricks the eye into believing the space continues.
Let the Light In: Natural
light can do wonders for opening up a room. It essentially helps the room to
visually connect with the wide open outdoors.
So open up those curtains! If no natural light is available, try to make
light cover as much of the space as possible. Reassessed lighting is great for
filling in hard to reach corners.
Add a Mirror: We’re
sure you’ve heard of this one, but it’s an old standby for a reason. Just make
sure to focus the mirror directly across from the focal point of the room and
you’ll add a ton of visual space to the room in seconds.
Keep It Simple: Obviously,
you’ll want to limit furniture and accessories to the essentials. You want the
room to have as much open space as you can get. If you’re feeling extra fancy,
go for duel-purpose or modular pieces. That way, you can minimize clutter while
maximizing functionality and storage.
Clean, Clean, Clean: We
know we say this a lot, but it’s really self-explanatory. Any room will look
much more open when there isn’t clothes on the floor and clutter in the
April 3, 2013 11:45 am
Regardless of whether you have a new job offer or just want
to get a jumpstart on retirement, sometimes you need to sell your home as fast
as possible. Selling can seem daunting enough without the extra pressure of a
time crunch, but don’t fret! This week, we’ve got tips to help sell your home
in the blink of an eye.
Be Realistic on
Price: We know that selling your
home is emotional. You paid a lot for it and then put your blood, sweat, and
tears into improvements, it makes sense that you’d want to get everything back.
Unfortunately, though, markets change and that may not be possible. Our best
advice is to listen to your realtor on this one. She knows what comparable homes
are going for in the area and will give you a fair estimate. Remember,
well-priced homes move while overpriced ones tend to sit.
If you really want to move in a hurry, you need to make your home as enticing
as possible to buyers. One way to do that is to offer some extras. Consider
whether it might be worth it to offer to pay the buyers’ closing costs.
Alternatively, consider leaving behind the washer and dryer or the big screen
TV that fits perfectly over the mantle.
Be Flexible: As
we’ve said before, getting out the door for showings can be a hassle, but we
promise it’s beyond worth the trouble! The more willing that you are to let people
come through your home – even if it’s at a moments notice – the more traffic it
gets. Think of it this way, people can’t submit an offer on a home that the
seller won’t let them see.
March 20, 2013 4:02 pm
Spring has finally arrived! It’s time to shake off those winter
cobwebs and usher in a fresh start. Regardless if you’re looking to sell in the
next few months or if this is your forever home, a little spring cleaning is a
great way to give your home a rejuvenated feel. To make this process a snap,
we’ve compiled a handy room-by-room list of chores that will leave you feeling squeaky
(including baseboards, if you’re feeling industrious)
windows to air things out
bedding and swap out flannel for cotton
winter apparel for summer, if you’re short on space
and reseal grout
towels and bath mats
old beauty products
out the fridge
out and organize food storage containers
expiration date on pantry foods
Family Room/ Living
cushions on furniture
placement of photos/knick-knacks
batteries on electronics
out filing cabinets
all computer updates
out computer hard drive and back it up
down phones and keyboards
in fresh office supplies
important items are protected from the elements
out seasonal items (candles,
out purses and bags
March 6, 2013 3:50 pm
Curb appeal refers to the way your house looks from the
street. As the very first impression prospective buyers have of your home,
there’s no overestimating its importance. However, we want to let you in on a
little secret – it can be super easy. This week, we have a few simple tips that
won’t break the bank AND can be completed in time for you to get to your
weekend plans. (Go ahead and have that beer, you deserve it!)
Embrace Flowers: Especially
now that spring is around the corner, flowers are a great way to add some
visual interest to the front of your home. Window boxes can easily add a pop of
color to the house while keeping your new garden contained. But, if that’s too
much work, most garden centers sell partially mature plants already in
decorative pots. Arrange a couple of these on your doorstep and you’re good to
Doorway: It’s important for potential buyers to get a welcoming feeling
from your home. Make sure it happens before they even enter the front door.
Throw down a welcome mat, hang up a wreath, and change out old hardware so that
your doorstep gives off that “homey” feel. Also, don’t be afraid to give your
door and screen a quick wipe down, you’d be surprised what a big difference it
Make Use Of
Identifiers: When selling, you want to make sure that people know which
house is yours, even if they’re just doing a quick drive-by. Choose a set of
decorative numbers from your local home improvement store and display them in a
spot that is easily identifiable from afar. (It wouldn’t hurt to put a second
set on the mailbox, too.)
Light The Way:
Typically, buyers go out on showings after they come home from work, which
means it will likely be dark by the time they get to your house. A dark
entranceway can feel uninviting. By placing lights at the start of your walkway
and around the doorway, you can ensure a welcoming start to the showing – not
to mention it highlights all of your hard work!
Do A Final Spruce: This
one is up to you to decide. Are there some rogue weeds sprouting up? Does the
grass need to be cut? Did the kids leave their soccer net out in the yard again?
Clean things up so that your home looks as put together as possible. You don’t
want potential buyers to get distracted from all your home has to offer.
February 27, 2013 4:58 pm
Figuring out how to finance your home can be daunting,
especially when you’re a first-time homebuyer. Really, how often do you deal
with that amount of money, right? Don’t
worry, this week, we’ve tried to take some of the stress out of it by providing
you with a cheat sheet.
Traditionally, there are two types of mortgages: FHA (Federal
Housing Administration) and conventional loans. Obviously, each option is going
to have its pros and cons. Read below, to decide which option works best for
you and your family:
First implemented during the Great Depression in order to
increase home construction, FHA loans fall under the umbrella of the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is important to note that the FHA
does not make loans. Rather, it insures loans made by private lenders, so
shopping around is key.
Low Down Payment: The main selling point of an
FHA loan is the 3.5% minimum down payment requirement.
A minimum credit score of 580 is needed to
Low Credit Score Minimum: FHA boasts a minimum
required credit score of 500
However, buyers with credit scores between 500
and 579 are required to make a down payment of 10%
Higher Typical Lending Limit: Buyers in
higher-cost areas can borrow up to $729,750
No Payment Penalty
Mortgage Insurance Requirement: Both upfront and
annual insurance premiums are necessary.
Limited options: 15 year fixed-rate, 30 year
fixed rate, or 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages are the most common.
One at a Time: Generally, buyers are only
allowed one FHA loan at a time
Conventional loan is not made by a
government entity nor insured by a government entity. Homebuyers can take out
an amortized conventional loan from almost any bank, a savings and loan, a
credit union or even through a mortgage broker.
More Options: The type of loan is decided
individually between you and your lending institutions, so other options like a
10 year fixed-rate or 7 year adjustable-rate may be available
No Mortgage Insurance: Typically requires a 20%
Can Have Many Conventional Loans at Once
Accepted Everywhere: Many condo complexes won’t
go for FHA financing. The same goes for non-owner investment properties
Stricter Requirements: Generally, conventional
mortgages require a down payment between five and 20 percent and credit score
Possible Payment Penalty
Click Here for More Info (and never hesitate
to talk to your Realtor):
February 20, 2013 1:35 pm
Let’s be honest, moving is stressful no matter what. But,
there’s an extra layer to worry when kids are involved. Luckily, kids are
extremely resilient and adaptable. They’ll be fine once they get through the
initial adjustment period. But, we wouldn’t just let you hang out to dry until
then! This week, we have 6 tips to ensure that you and your kids come through
your move with flying colors.
Have A Family
Meeting: Breaking the moving news can be a big deal. Order a couple pizzas
or cook a favorite meal, but make sure that everyone is convened in the same
place. Be honest: share both your excitements and anxieties relating to the
move, as well as preparing the kids for what to expect during the moving
process. Give each child a chance to do the same and reassure them that their
concerns are valid. Just remember to end on a positive note, framing the move
as a new, exciting opportunity.
Give Everyone a Job: No
one wants to feel like the whole process is happening without them. It’s up to
you to make sure that everyone feels included. Give each child a job that is
age appropriate – assembling boxes, labeling, organizing items. Don’t be afraid
to make a game out of it, so at the end of the day everyone feels accomplished.
Clean Out Clutter:
Moving is a great time to get rid of unused clutter. Have a garage sale beforehand. Make it clear
that any money from the sale will go towards a treat related to your new home. It
can be the bigger TV everyone has been wanting or a trip to the amusement park
in your new city. Help each child go
through their things and decide what they would like to get rid of. If this
process gets tough, remind them of the reward.
Stay In Touch:
One of a child’s biggest concerns about moving is a fear of losing friends. A
goodbye party is a great way to ease these fears with a celebration. During the
party, you can collect friends’ contact information and make plans to have
weekly phone calls or send postcards. Just be sure to follow through once you
(Pro Tip: One fun activity is to have each guest write down
or draw a favorite memory, then share it. After the party, you can collect
these memories on a board or in special box so that can be brought to your new
Stick To Routines:
It can be tempting to slack off on things a bit while in the midst of moving
chaos. But, children are creatures of habit who feel more comfortable with
things they know. If their location is in flux, it’s very reassuring to remind
them that everything else will remain the same in their new home. Stick to
those familiar bedtime and time out routines n matter how crazy things get.
And, don’t forget to maintain regular rewards as well!
Become a Tourist: This,
obviously, is especially necessary if your family is moving further than just
down the street. It’s important to make your new location feel like home as
quickly as possible. One easy way to do this is to explore the new area. Make
it fun, go on adventures. We guarantee that you’ll feel more comfortable in
your surroundings and so will the kids.
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If you are a home owner in the Blue Bell area and are thinking of placing it on the market, this site contains information about preparing your home for sale, selecting the right agent, pricing your home appropriately, marketing it effectively, going through the inspection processes, and receiving a timely market evaluation. This site features houses and condos for sale in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Looking for property in and around Blue Bell, Pennsylvania? Residential, Commercial, Land-Lot or Rental, we can help with all your real estate needs. On this Blue Bell real estate site find Blue Bell In Town and Suburban Properties, Land, Lots, Blue Bell Golf Homes for Sale, Luxury Estates, Town Homes, Blue Bell New Homes for Sale, Blue Bell Condos, Town Homes, Real Estate, Blue Bell Luxury Estates, Equestrian Estates and Blue Bell Executive Homes For Sale. Mary Mastroeni with RE/MAX Central - Blue Bell is here to help home buyers and home sellers through the real estate process in Montgomery and Bucks County. Blue Bell Homes for Sale and Blue Bell Real Estate - Buying or Selling Blue Bell Real Estate.
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