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 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Bathroom Remodeling for Style and Space

June 26, 2012 8:06 pm

(ARA) - Now, more than ever, homeowners are adding to the value and comfort of their homes by renovating bathrooms into private retreats with luxurious touches that rival those of an upscale spa or resort.

Ron and Susan Bishop of Adams Township, Pa., recently completed an extensive remodel of the master bathroom in their 20-year-old home. The remake covered nearly every square inch of the space, including the installation of new cabinets, tile, floor coverings and lighting. The couple says one of the biggest highlights is the custom shower enclosure, which uses a fused-on coating to keep its showroom appearance over time.

When considering an update for your bathroom, whether you choose to do an extensive remodel or a smaller project, most kitchen and bath designers agree on these tips:

Consider the size of the bathroom. If you have a small room, look for ways to make it feel more expansive. A sleek, stylish glass shower enclosure helps your bathroom appear more spacious, and in most instances, a frameless shower enclosure will provide the cleanest, most open look. If you decide to go with a framed shower enclosure, you'll have two choices: frameless sliding doors or framed doors. For framed doors, be sure the finish of the metal framing and handles matches your bathroom fixtures.

Think outside the box. Taking a creative approach to bathroom necessities can help you make the most of your space. For instance, the majority of shower enclosures are square or rectangular, but today's designers encourage you to think about other shapes. Don't be afraid to consider a circular or oval-shaped enclosure, a triangle or even a standard shape with an artfully bowed glass door, which can redefine the space and make your bathroom more versatile.

Brighten things up. Repainting your bathroom with light colors can make it feel more spacious. If your bathroom has windows or skylights, use window treatments and accents that maximize the amount of light that comes through to give the room a more airy feel.

Find the best use for your space. Move bathroom cleaning items to a hall closet if you are stretched for storage space in your bathroom, especially if you have freestanding storage units that are taking up valuable floor space. If you need more storage space, consider adding built-in compartments if possible between your wall studs to maximize useable space.

It's been shown time and time again that remodeling a bathroom can add to a home's value. Whether you want to sell or just enjoy your home more, it's one of the most practical and dramatic ways to make your home more appealing.

Source: www.ppgclarvista.com.

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Summer Travel Is Still in Style

June 26, 2012 8:06 pm

As the economy improves, consumers are hitting the road and increasing their summer vacation budgets, with 53 percent planning to spend more than $1,500 compared to 39 percent in 2011. Orbitz surveyed nearly 1,000 U.S. travelers about their summer travel plans and of those surveyed 77 percent are taking a vacation this summer with more than half (56 percent) planning to travel by car and 39 percent by air. The majority of consumers (60 percent) said gas prices will be a factor in where they travel this summer.

Based on the Orbitz survey, more consumers are planning to travel in July (31 percent) rather than in June (18 percent) or August (20 percent) with the rest of travelers still undecided. With increased airfares and hotel rates this summer, researching deals and being flexible on travel dates can stretch summer vacation budgets.

"Hotel prices in many of the most popular destination this summer are cheaper in June vs. July, including those in eight of the Orbitz top 10 summer destinations," says Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor of Orbitz.com. "Travelers that can be flexible on travel dates should consider a June getaway when daily hotel rates are 6 percent less expensive, on average."

3 Tips to Avoiding the Budget Barrier

Consumers should not let budgets be the barrier to taking a more than memorable vacation this summer. For those looking to take a fabulous vacation without stretching their finances, Tornatore shares a few summer budget travel tips:

• Follow the sale. Even with rising travel costs this year, summer promotions and deals are plentiful.
• Search all nearby airports and consider traveling on off-peak days and times to help curb higher airfare costs. Expanding search options to include airports within a reasonable radius to departure and arrival destinations will provide more flight and price options. Also, traveling on off-peak days such as early in the week versus the weekend will save consumers green this summer.
• Book a package deal. Avoid a la carte booking and combine air, hotel and car together to optimize savings.

Additional Findings from the Orbitz Summer Travel Survey

• More travelers feel guilty about leaving behind their pet (33 percent) than their children (30 percent) when they go on vacation.
• Americans wish the U.S. would follow Europe's suit regarding paid time off, with 44 percent of survey respondents believing the government should mandate companies to offer at least four weeks of vacation per year.
• Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents are getting summer travel ideas through social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest.
• 54 percent of consumers said they would attend the Summer Olympics in London this year if money were no object.
• The majority of consumers plan to travel domestically (81 percent), but more consumers are planning to travel internationally this year (19 percent vs. 11 percent in 2011).

Source: Orbitz.com

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Q: Do Builders Provide Financing?

June 25, 2012 8:06 pm

A: Many builders offer financing incentives to help move more buyers into a project. In fact, major building companies often have their own mortgage brokerage subsidiaries, while many other builders routinely refer buyers to "preferred" local lenders. If it is a buyer's market in your area, you can be sure developers will offer incentives such as low-down-payment financing or interest rate subsidies.  


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Smart Home Improvement: Save Time and Energy

June 25, 2012 8:06 pm

(ARA) - The weather is warm and the sun is shining, making it the perfect time to start your home improvement projects. Whether it's a little tidying up, or a full-on home repair, some tips will help you complete your projects without a lot of headaches.

Winning the battle against rust
As the sun begins to shine brighter, imperfections around the house begin to appear. Metal products that haven't been properly winterized or have simply been out in the elements too long can begin to show signs of wear and tear, and worst of all, rust. Combating rust can be a real challenge, and too often, people would rather toss out the rusty bench, garden tools or even the lawn mower and simply buy something new.

Continue cleaning up outside
Give the outside of your house a little TLC. Start with the roof and gutters, since they've collected a lot of buildup and have experienced their share of wear and tear throughout the colder months. No one wants to spend hours dealing with inside water damage or worse - mold. Stop the drama before it starts by inspecting the roof and gutters and looking for damage such as holes, loose shingles or leaks.

And while you're outside, give your siding a glance, too. While you were warm and toasty inside this past winter, the exterior of your house was getting a beating. Cold weather, snow, ice and even wind can cause problems to the siding, so be sure to address any issues quickly.

Check for a cool breeze
It's probably been a few months since the air conditioner was turned on, making now the perfect time to check that it's still running smoothly. Your air conditioner is important because it not only keeps your home cool during the hot summer; it also dehumidifies your house and keeps mold from developing inside the walls.

First, check the AC filters and replace them if they appear dirty, since a dirty filter can cause strain and damage to your air conditioner by making it work harder than necessary. Turn your air conditioner on for a test run; once it has been running for a while, check the refrigerant levels by feeling the pipe connected to your AC unit. It should feel cool to the touch - if it doesn't you may be low on refrigerant and will want to refill before the long, hot days of summer.

Make the inside sparkle
Outside projects shouldn't get all your attention. As you move inside, start off with small cleaning projects so you don't get overwhelmed. Scrubbing your bathroom, vacuuming your carpets and dusting every inch of the house can take some time - which most of us don't have. Simple tasks such as cleaning one room a day, clearing off cluttered countertops as you walk into the kitchen, creating an organization system and donating unused products to charity can get your house clean in no time.


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5 Tips for Safe Summer Play

June 25, 2012 8:06 pm

Summer is here and kids of all ages are hitting beaches, parks and backyards to enjoy the outdoor play that makes the season so much fun.  From gardening and building sets to sidewalk chalk and scooters, and from bubbles and water blasters to bicycles and skateboards, a broad range of outdoor toys will help to entertain the young and the young at heart.
 

No one likes to be that hovering mom or dad, but you can’t help hoping your little one is safe! To help assure that every play date is a safe one, check out the following five toy-related tips for a safe, active and fun summer:

1. Pay close attention to the age appropriate guidelines on toy product packaging. 

Age labeling is a safety precaution and is based on children's developmental skills and ability at a given age – and the appropriateness of the toy for that age.  Age labeling does not pertain to the intelligence of a child so you never want to select toys marked with an age older than the child's age. 


2.
 Make adult supervision a crucial element of outdoor play. 

Children are quick and inquisitive. They should never be left alone near water sources (pools, inflatable "kiddie" pools, beaches, etc.)...not even for a moment. Water toys should be kept out of sight or out of reach when not being used so children aren't tempted to play in or near the water alone.   The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a complete set of tips and information to help keep kids safe in and near the pool.


3.
 Buckle children up with helmets, knee pads and other protective gear when playing with ride-on toys.

Most parents are aware that protective gear (helmets, knee pads and arm pads) is crucial when riding a bicycle, but buckling up and protective gear is equally important for other ride-on toys, including tricycles, scooters, skateboards and skates.


4.
 Keep young bodies protected from the sun and heat. 

Outdoor play areas should be covered to protect sensitive children's skin from the sun's intense rays. Children should wear hats, 100 percent UVA sunglasses, and a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) when playing outdoors.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and re-apply every two hours or after prolonged contact with water.  Studies show that children do not always experience thirst before dehydration, so it is important that they drink plenty of fluids during and after play, even when they do not feel thirsty.


5.
Organize and store toys to prevent slips, trips and falls. 

Large, plastic bins with lids are perfect for organizing and storing smaller toys; bins should be marked by name so that toys for children of differing ages can be easily separated.  An outdoor shed should be set up with designated "parking" spaces near the door for bicycles and other ride-on toys; smaller items like skateboards and skates should be hung off ground-level or stored on shelves to prevent slips, trips and falls.


Source:
www.ToyInfo.org.


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Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids

June 25, 2012 8:06 pm

With recent headlines being blasted with heartbreaking footage of kids tormenting their bus monitor, you can’t wonder how those children were raised, or what their home life is like. While pointing fingers is no way to go, it’s true that healthy emotional habits developed in childhood are crucial to becoming well adjusted adults. 

You as a parent are able to tap into what your children’s belief systems are creating by observing their self expression and actions.  Become aware how they are acting out, you have a head start on molding their thinking processes to create confidence and high self-esteem.  Look for areas you can acknowledge who they are and what they do.  This will encourage positive beliefs, thoughts and actions.  When you hear your child criticize others, it is probably because he is feeling critical of himself and may not even be
aware of it.

5 Tips for emotionally healthy kids

  1. Allow children to express their thoughts and feelings.  Create a safe environment for them to speak what they feel without correcting their feelings.  Instead of “You shouldn’t feel that way, that’s not nice.”  Validate what they are expressing by listening and understanding even if you don’t agree with them.

  2. Teach children to enjoy relationships and set healthy boundaries with other children by asking for what they want.  Honor and accept that others can have opinions without having to prove the other person is wrong.

  3. Create body awareness; I believe we are not our bodies.  We are spiritual beings that exist forever, our bodies are temporary.  It is up to us to take care of them. The food we eat is the fuel that feeds our bodies.  Remove junk food from the kitchen and offer healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables.  Encourage water rather than juices with high fructose corn syrup.   Create family sports and fun activities that move the body every day.

  4. Young children are naturally spiritual.  They sense, feel, hear and sometimes are able to see spirit realm.  Encourage these gifts when you notice.  Be aware when they are speaking to invisible friends or gazing at something.  Teach them to communicate to God, angels, and even deceased loved ones such as grandma watching over.

  5. Encourage kids to venture out and try new things.  This builds self esteem; it allows them to discover what they are good at.  As they grow older encourage them to find ways of making money using creativity and fun.  Create family service projects for those less fortunate. Instill gratitude for what you do have. Remind them that they are the one to choose how they ultimately live their life, no one else.

Above all, exemplify the kind of life you would like your children to experience through your own thoughts, emotions and actions.  Become aware of the areas that need your attention. There is a plethora of information at your fingertips on transformation.  Become the expert in the area that most needs your attention.   Educate yourself.

Source: www.SWparents.com


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Word of the Day

June 25, 2012 8:06 pm

Lessor. Someone who rents to another party through a lease; the landlord.


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Five Homeowners Insurance Tips for First Time Buyers

June 22, 2012 5:02 pm

A first time homeowner can find buying a new home exciting and overwhelming. When shopping for quotes, there are five areas that are especially important. Here are tips to get the best coverage at the most affordable price.

1. Know the difference between the replacement cost and the market value. Depending on how much was originally paid for the property, the cost of rebuilding can be higher or lower than the market value. Rebuilding a home is usually cheaper than buying an existing structure unless the original property bought was a foreclosure in which case rebuilding might be more expensive. The key is to accurately determine the cost of rebuilding when finalizing the details on a homeowners insurance policy.

2. Take a home inventory and determine the proper amount of personal property protection. Generally, policies cover 50-75 percent of the replacement value of the house. However, this may not be enough to cover certain valuables such as jewelry, fine art, collections, electronics and other expensive items. A separate rider may be needed and this should be discussed with an agent.

3. Have enough liability protection. This protects a homeowner if they are sued for an injury that takes place on their property. Many policies will even cover a policyholder if an incident happened away from the house. Depending on their assets, some may want to consider an additional umbrella policy if they are worried about ever being sued for an amount in excess of what their coverage offers.

4. Know what is not covered. Carefully study the exclusions section of the homeowners insurance policy. This is important to be aware of so additional coverage can be purchased. For instance, if one lives in an area prone to flooding, they may need to buy additional flood protection.

5. Consider additionally living expenses if ever forced from the dwelling. If a house becomes unlivable due to a flood, earthquake, fire or other disasters, a family will need to pay for living accommodations, may need additional money for food and transportation, and other expenses. This coverage is "additional living expenses" (ALE) and is a benefit that is usually worth about 20 percent of the home's replacement value. Be aware of the benefits, limitations and exclusion.

When shopping for home insurance quotes, be sure to find a company that is financially stable and has a high customer satisfaction rating. Two resources to check these qualities are A.M. Best for financial strength ratings and J.D. Power and Associates for their annual customer service rankings.

Source: HomeownersInsurance.net

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Rules for a Safe and Cool Summer

June 22, 2012 5:02 pm

Summer officially starts this week, and with it comes the summertime hazards that accompany hot, dry weather and certain outdoor activities.

Summer safety rules:

• "Look Up and Live!" – Use caution and keep fireworks, balloons, kites and toys (such as high powered water guns or remote control aircraft) away from overhead electric lines. Contact with lines can lead to serious injury, fires and outages.
• Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line.
• Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground, is dangling in the air or appears to be damaged. Always assumed downed electric lines are energized and dangerous. Stay away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.
• Observe local laws. Contact your local police or fire department to make sure fireworks are allowed in your area. If so, keep a bucket of water or a water hose close by.
• Pay attention to overhead power lines when using long, aluminum poles to clean your pool. Watch where the other end of the pole is located in relation to power lines.
• Avoid playing around overhead power lines and power poles.
• Never climb trees growing near or touching overhead power lines.
• "Call Before You Dig" – Before starting outdoor projects that require any type of excavation, large or small, call 811 to ensure you know where gas and electrical lines are buried underground. Even small digging projects around the house for planting or fence posts require a call to 811.

Hot weather safety tips:

• When temperatures are unusually high, you can visit PG&E-supported Cooling Centers to escape the heat, free of charge. For information on Cooling Centers, or to find out if there is one in your neighborhood, contact your local city or county.
• If your neighborhood does not have a Cooling Center, plan trips to public places with air conditioning such as libraries, movie theaters or shopping malls.
• Avoid strenuous activities in hot, direct sunlight.
• Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol or caffeine when the weather is hot.
• Pay attention to your body. Muscle cramps, dizziness and nausea may be signs of a heat-related illness.

Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

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Word of the Day

June 22, 2012 5:02 pm

Lease-purchase option. Opportunity to purchase a piece of property by renting for a specified period, with the provision that the lessee may choose to buy after or during the leasing period at a predetermined sale price.

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