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

The 10 Worst Cities for Renters

June 20, 2012 7:56 pm

If you know anything about economics, you'll know that when the real estate market tumbles, the renter's market skyrockets.

Unless your credit score falls closer to 800 than 700, you could have a hard time getting a mortgage. Banks and homebuyers got burned in the 2008 real estate bubble, and they're trying to avoid that mistake again by only giving out loans to the most qualified.

What that means for everyone else is that the rents have surged. But when you pay your monthly rent, just be thankful you don't live in one of these top 10 worst cities for renters, as compiled by Forbes.

New York City, N.Y. While New York City topping this list is no big surprise, the average rent of $2,902 is shocking and over $1,000 higher than the average rent of the next highest rent city (San Francisco). You need to make $55,000 before taxes just to pay rent. Count me out.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. A bit of a surprise to be the second worst city to rent given that the average rent in this Midwest city is only $965. However, it's much cheaper to own here, so renters lose out.

San Francisco, Calif. The first of many California cities on this list. The average rent is $1,901. Just be happy you don't work in Manhattan.

San Jose, Calif. Only 50 miles south of San Francisco, San Jose's rents have skyrocketed as the line between Silicon Valley and the City of San Jose have blurred. With dot com millionaires come expensive housing. The average rent is $1,520.

Boston, Mass. Boston can be considered a glorified college town. Pity to parents who have to shell out an average of $1,752 so junior can go to school.

Washington D.C.The nation's capitol represents this list with an average $1,419 rent.

Oakland, Calif. Besides having high crime, Oakland also has high rent averaging $1,318 a month.

New Haven, Conn. The average rent here is $1,604. Is this the Yale effect?

Los Angeles, Calif.The average rent is only $1,398, but don't be deceived as Los Angeles is enormous, and the low average rent is depressed by a lot of units in parts of the city you'll never want to visit, let alone live.

Santa Ana, Calif. The fifth California city on this top 10 list. The average rent is $1,516.

Next time you want to complain about rising rent, just remember the poor renters in these top 10 worst cities for renters. Just be aware that there are laws that protect renters including laws that limit how much security deposit may be required and laws against housing discrimination. If you have experienced any of these issues, you may want to contact a landlord tenant attorney.


Source:
www.findlaw.com


Tags:

Word of the Day

June 20, 2012 7:56 pm

Junior mortgage. Any mortgage, such a second or third mortgage on a property, which is subordinate to the first one in priority.  


Tags:

Q: Can You Negotiate the Price of a New Home?

June 20, 2012 7:56 pm

A: In real estate, almost everything is negotiable, so it is certainly worth a try. Now, this does not mean the builder will fall down and roll over. It is very common for builders to claim that their prices are based on fixed construction costs. Perhaps, but timing is everything.

A builder is more likely to be flexible on price at the very beginning and end of a project. Early on, most developers want to move people in quickly so the project builds momentum. In the end, they may be more inclined to accept lower offers when only a few units are left.


Tags:

Plant-Based Perspective: How Is Your Cholesterol?

June 19, 2012 7:54 pm

I like to think I am pretty in tune with my body. I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, the next day I will have the urge to eat everything in my path. I know that I can keep mood swings in check by eating a blend of whole grains, healthy fats and protein. And, as a vegan, I know that I have to monitor my diet to make sure I am getting enough nutrients to avoid health problems like vitamin deficiencies!

But for everyone—vegans and omnivores alike—a blood test every now and then helps to make sure you are getting what you need.

The last round of blood work I did showed that my cholesterol is way too low. Embarrassingly enough, this excited me a wee bit as it gives me an excuse to eat more yummy heart healthy fats! Healthy fat and a normal cholesterol level is important–it gives you glowing skin, healthy nails and hair, stabilizes moods, regulates your metabolism, increases your energy and revs your libido! Vroom, vroom!

Many Americans have high cholesterol, and if that's the case for you, then eating heart healthy fats can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising your good cholesterol (HDL)! High five! So what are some great HDL promoting foods?

Flax oil. Right after visiting the doctor, I went out and got flax oil which I have been putting in my breakfast bowl of oatmeal, my smoothies and on top of salads and grains. It has an amazing nutty flavor and delivers tons of omega-3s!

Avocados. You may be thinking, but avocados have saturated fat! Well sure, but they also have monounsaturated fats, full of cholesterol-blasting oleic acid. I have been trying to eat more avocados in my salads or sliced on top of toast in the morning with tomato (tomato season is just around the corner!) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper—delicious!

Nuts. Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds is not only good for your cholesterol, but also provides you with fiber and iron. Anyone from my office will confirm that at some point between 3 and 5 p.m., I can be found in the office kitchen, sucking on a spoonful of nut-butter.

Regardless of your diet, it’s a good idea to get some blood work done several times a year. Be sure to tell your doctor to ask that the test checks your cholesterol and vitamin levels like folate, iron, b12 and zinc.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's Associate Editor, animal and plant lover and certified holistic health counselor. 


Tags:

Don't Let Pests Ruin Your Summer Fun

June 19, 2012 7:54 pm

The first day of summer brings warmer temperatures and more time outdoors; unfortunately, that also means you are more likely to get stung by fire ants, bees and wasps and bitten by mosquitoes. As you barbecue with friends or work in your garden, watch out for the following insects that can spoil your outdoor fun.

Mosquitoes

"While fire ants, bees and wasps are dangerous because of their stings, the number one pest to look out for this summer is the mosquito," says Jim Warneke, Orkin's Southeast division technical services manager. "They can carry serious diseases, some of which are fatal."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever and the virus that causes encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

"The CDC reported 712 cases of West Nile virus in 2011, and dengue fever rarely occurs in the United States," says Warneke. "Prime mosquito-biting times are dusk and dawn, so be sure to take the proper precautions and spray an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin, and wear long sleeves and socks if possible."

Mosquitoes only need a few ounces of water to breed and survive, making them very hard to control, so Warneke suggests removing any standing water from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are reddish-brown and sting when they are disturbed or feel threatened. They attach themselves with their mandibles to people or animals and inject venom through their stingers. Fire ant stings are very painful and can be fatal, but most victims experience painful red bumps.

Fire ants prefer warm and dry, sunny weather and avoid shady areas. Mounds can grow up to 24 inches in diameter and 18 inches high. They are most common throughout the southern U.S. but have been found as far west as California and as far north as Maryland.


Bees, Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets

Flying, stinging insects like bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are found all across the country, and they like to build their nests in inconspicuous places.

"Yellow jackets tend to build their nests in the ground, and paper wasps are notorious for building their nests under a building's eaves and soffits," says Warneke. "They also tend to build nests in ornamental plants and hedges. Bees, on the other hand, will build their nests in many different locations, from inverted, unused flower pots and barbecue grills to inside the walls of homes and buildings. They spend their time around flowering plants, so be careful when you are pruning your roses or other annual flowers."


Bee, wasp, hornet and yellow jacket stings are painful and can cause symptoms ranging from headaches, fever and fatigue to vomiting and convulsions. Stings can also be deadly to those who are allergic to their venom. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, bee, wasp, hornet, yellow jacket and fire ant stings are the cause of about 500,000 allergy-related emergency room visits each year and at least 40 deaths in the United States from anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction.

Africanized honey bees, also known as killer bees, are typical throughout the southeastern U.S., but can be found throughout the country. They, too, are opportunistic when it comes to building nests and will make their home just about anywhere, warns Warneke.

"It is best to stay away from all bees because they are difficult to identify," said Warneke. "All honey bees have a pheromone in their stingers that will attract other honey bees, and that could lead to additional stings."

Warneke recommends the following tips to help prevent flying, stinging insects from being attracted to your home:

  • Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.

  • Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows.

  • Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately, and keep drinks covered.

  • Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home.

  • Thin vegetation and do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home's siding. This could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and access for ants to enter your home.

 

Source: Orkin, LLC


Tags:

Five Rules for Buying a Foreclosure or Short Sale with Confidence

June 19, 2012 7:54 pm

 (ARA) - Buyers are still clamoring for real estate deals in this turbulent market. Foreclosures and short sales offer some of the best bargains, but also have a higher risk level. Still, more than four in five adults think foreclosures and short sales can be good deals, according to a recent American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) survey.

Some analysts say the rebound has begun and home prices may rise by the end of 2012. This means now may be buyers' last chance to take advantage of affordable properties and low interest rates. If you want to score a bargain before the housing market recovers, you'll need to follow a few rules to invest with certainty.

Make a wise investment by adhering to these five rules while shopping distressed properties:

Rule 1: Position yourself for success

Before starting your search, get preapproved for a mortgage so when a good deal presents itself, you're positioned to submit a bid right away to be the first offer on the bank's desk. Work with an experienced real estate agent who can help guide you through the daunting sea of foreclosures and short sales. Bidding can be complicated and time-consuming, especially when working with a home sale needing bank approval. A good agent will know how to navigate through the paperwork and red tape.

Rule 2: Do your research

A real estate agent can help you with research, but it's wise to do some on your own. Are there any undisclosed liens on the property? Is the seller behind on his property taxes? What permit records does the city have on file? This information will be critical during decision-making. Work with your agent to ensure the contract requires any delinquent taxes, liens or assessments will be paid prior to you taking ownership of the property.

Rule 3: Always get a home inspection

Eighty-four percent of adults surveyed by ASHI said they would be more likely to purchase a distressed property after a home inspection has determined its condition.

A home inspection gives you the confidence to move forward with your purchase because you'll have as much knowledge as possible about the condition of the property. An inspector will visually examine the condition of the home's roof, attic and insulation, foundation, basement and structural components, as well as interior plumbing and electrical systems. Be sure to find an ASHI-Certified Inspector (ACI) to ensure your inspector is experienced, as many states have minimal licensing requirements. To find a local ACI, use ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool on www.ASHI.org.

Rule 4: Budget for repairs

When looking at short sales and foreclosures, remember price is only one aspect to consider. A home will almost always require some type of repair. After receiving your inspection report, you can estimate costs associated with necessary repairs, maintenance or energy-efficient improvements.

Rule 5: Assess the neighborhood

Location should be a top consideration when purchasing real estate, and in a tough housing market, it's even more important. A home has limited worth if it's located in a less desirable neighborhood. High foreclosure rates can turn a once-desirable neighborhood into one many might likely avoid. These locations are likely to see a slower recovery than more populated or favorable areas less affected by the economy. Make location as important as price when making a purchase decision.

Protect yourself with knowledge and expert advice to make a confident, smart decision about your largest investment.

 


Tags:

Word of the Day

June 19, 2012 7:54 pm

Judgment. Court decree stating that one person is indebted to another. Also specifies the amount of the debt.


Tags:

Q: Can I Refinance a Home Loan More Than Once?

June 19, 2012 7:54 pm

A: You most certainly can. During the most recent refinancing boom, for example, many homeowners refinanced their home loans two or three times within relatively short periods of time because interest rates kept treading downward, making it extremely attractive to trade in one loan for another.

Just remember that refinancing is basically like applying for a mortgage all over again. Each time you refinance, you will still have to go through the application process, get a home appraisal, and likely incur closing costs. Also, if you have a pre-payment penalty clause in your present mortgage, you will have to pay that penalty if you refinance. So be certain that it is actually worth it for you to refinance.


Tags:

5 Job Search Mistakes New Grads Should Avoid

June 18, 2012 7:54 pm

While this year's college graduates are facing a tough job market, they can take comfort from the fact that many employers are seeking younger workers. So says Andy Chan, vice president of career development at Wake Forest University.

"Organizations know that younger workers come in with a great deal of energy and new ideas," Chan notes. "And they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done." But Chan suggests that young people -- like all job seekers -- will stand a better chance of being hired if they avoid these common job search mistakes:

Not being proactive enough: Create a hit list of the companies you would like to work for. Then really utilize your network to create an "in" at these companies. In addition to friends, your network might include parents, grandparents, their friends, your old Scout master, past teachers, and even the people you used to babysit for.

Not creating a customized resume:
Listing degrees and past experience is not enough. Use your resume to make a strong statement about yourself, your career goals, and what you can bring to an employer.

Setting expectations too high: Your first job may be just that; a place to learn a great deal, be super busy, and be surrounded by many people in the professional milieu you hope to excel in.

Appearing unprofessional: It's not just about how you look or behave in an interview. Sanitize your Facebook profile and other social media pages and ditch that smart aleck cell phone greeting your friends all find so funny.

Failing to follow up: It also isn't enough to send out resumes, go on interviews, and pray the phone rings. Write thank you notes or emails to the interviewer emphasizing your skills or strengths and hustle to follow up with a phone call to keep your resume from ending up in a slush pile.

Tags:

When Mom’s To-Do List is Doing Her In

June 18, 2012 7:54 pm

"We Can Do It!"  was a World War II-era battle cry that empowered women. Today, however, the expression for many women is more like, "We can do it -- if there's time." By their 40s, more than 80 percent of American women are mothers, according to the U.S. census. Meanwhile, they also make up roughly half of the workforce, a percentage that has doubled since Rosie the Riveterâ's proclamation. At least 50 percent of women say they don't have enough free time and 60 percent feel guilty for spending what little time they do have on themselves, according to a survey published in the March issue of Real Simple magazine.

Between motherhood and work, it is crucial that busy women also take time out for themselves, says Saniel Bonder, a wellness coach, Harvard graduate and author of the acclaimed new novel "Ultimaya 1.0: The Trouble with the Wishes of Leopold Stokes."

"Putting things into a new perspective and realizing that a really good mother and home manager -- or a mother who works outside the home -- can't be chronically tired and cranky is a first step to achieving a healthy balance between a mom and her to-do list,"  he says. Mothering is a marathon, not a sprint, Bonder says. Unhappiness, failure and disappointment are guaranteed when a woman continues to drive competing interests at excessive speeds, he says.

He offers tips for managing a mother's to-do list:
Make "me time" a priority every day. Set aside 5 to 10 inviolable minutes for triaging your day's to-do list  early on, when you've got plenty of energy and aren't already overwhelmed. " Do it with 'Mother Bear' fierceness. Go at it with ferocious intention to protect your "cub" -- except in this case, the cub is your own total wellness."

Serve everyone notice. Let your family, friends, and others who depend on you know that for everyone's sake, you are going to take better care of yourself and you're not going to try to be Superwoman any more.

Ruthless ranking. Rank each item 1, 2 or 3 in order of real importance. Make sure your priority is only the most important, and that you actually can do it. 

Indulge your inner child.
Make at least one of your daily No. 1 priorities something to pamper yourself something you know will really make you feel good but that you think you really don't have time for and shouldn't need. 

Talk back to your inner critic
. Do this out loud; shout it if you need to! Just say "no" a lot, to that fault-finding perfectionist in your head. You're right. It's wrong!

"Sustainability begins at home, and the true hearth of most homes today is the mother's well-being," Bonder says. Your children need to learn this from how you live, not just what you tell them.

Saniel Bonder received his bachelor's in social relations from Harvard University, partaking in a unique curriculum that focused on the fields of psychology, culture and social behavior.

Tags:
TwitterFacebookGoogleLinkedinYoutubepinterest