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

5 Reasons to Shop at Your Farmer's Market

July 5, 2012 5:22 pm

Summer in full swing means farmer's markets are popping up all over the place. Why should you swap your weekly grocery store trips for market excursions? Read on to find out.

Support small farmers –
With large industrial farms monopolizing most of the produce you find in stores, farmer's markets are one place where small farmers can continue to make a living. Just like you can control what industry you support by the food you put on your fork (yes to kale, no to dairy !), you can choose to support small over industrialized by choosing to spend your money at the market.

Support your local economy – Similar to supporting small farms, supporting local farms puts money directly back into your local economy. Helping out small businesses—including local farms—is a great way to do your part and give back to your community.

Gain a sense of community - Even if your farmer's market produce is a smidge more expensive than what you can get at the grocery store, there is nothing like chatting with the farmer about his corn harvest, or running into familiar faces week after week. Shopping at the local market, the way people did before huge fluorescent-lit grocery stores were the norm, can foster a sense of closeness within the community that is irreplaceable.

Eat seasonally – By planning your meals around your farmer's market purchases, you're making most of your meals local. Since we are so accustomed to being able to get any kind of product at any time of year in our grocery stores, we rarely focus on seasonal produce. Eating seasonally helps reduce your carbon footprint (less fuel used to transport those veggies!) and allows you to appreciate those seasonal gems—hello, garden tomatoes!--when they do make it to your plate.

Eat fresh – Hands down, fresh picked garden produce tastes better because it's fresher than anything you can purchase in the grocery store, which was shipped and stored for who knows how long. Spring asparagus and summer strawberries taste sweetest when fresh, so dig in!


Are Landlords Liable for Power Outages?

July 5, 2012 5:22 pm

Almost half of the United States is suffering from extreme heat, and millions of people are experiencing power outages.

For tenants in apartments without power, they have the option of suffering through the heat in their units or going out and spending time at a place where there is air conditioning like an indoor mall or a friend's house.

But tenants who have no choice but to remain home may be wondering if they have any recourse for their suffering in the dark. Particularly, tenants may be wondering if they can sue their landlords for the power outage.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is probably "no." If the power outage and lack of air conditioning are caused by reasons outside of the landlord's control like a regional power outage or just hot weather, tenants probably cannot sue the landlord. Your landlord is probably suffering just like you.
However, if the landlord is somehow responsible for the power outage, then the landlord could potentially be held liable. Fox example, if a building has extremely outdated wiring that causes a fuse to blow, and a building experiences a power outage, the landlord could potentially be liable for creating the condition that caused the outage.

Liability may also occur if a landlord intentionally cuts power to an apartment to retaliate against a tenant. If that happens, an experienced landlord-tenant attorney can help protect your rights.

There is a massive heat wave on the East Coast and millions are experiencing a power outage. While tenants probably have little recourse if they want to sue their landlords, tenants can try to keep cool by drinking plenty of water, going to an air conditioned place or cooling center, or taking a dip in the pool.



Tips for Taking Care of Your Home

July 5, 2012 5:22 pm

You probably protect your car with oil changes and yearly maintenance check, right? Such a big investment needs proper TLC.

Just like your car, your home systems and appliances all need periodic maintenance checks to make sure they're operating safely and efficiently. A professional preventative maintenance program can help homeowners when it comes to the upkeep of their heating and cooling system, plumbing, electrical system, and most major appliances. Having professional preventative maintenance services performed is key to ensuring tasks are done right and can save you time and money in the long run.
American Home Shield, a unit of the ServiceMaster Company, provides these expert tips to help keep your home's systems and appliances in great shape:

Air Conditioning
• Check filters every month. Clean or replace as needed.
• Keep the condensing unit free of debris.
• Trim shrubs and plants near condensing unit to ensure proper air flow and circulation.
• Bent condensing unit fins can often be easily straightened with a fin comb.

Washing Machine

• Inspect cold and hot water supply hoses for cracks and deterioration.
• Look for signs of water or oil leakage.
• Check to make sure the machine is level, and adjust it, if needed, by turning the legs clockwise to lower them or counter-clockwise to raise them.

• Clean the lint screen after each load of clothes has been dried.
• For gas and electric dryers, check and tighten supply connections.
• Check to see if the dryer is level; if it's not, the drum may vibrate and damage the unit. To adjust the level, turn the legs clockwise to lower them or counter-clockwise to raise them.

Water Heater
• Drain and flush sediment from tank twice a year.
• Check pressure-relief valve once a year to make sure this crucial safety device is not clogged.



Word of the Day

July 5, 2012 5:22 pm

Maintenance fees. Paid by a condominium unit owner to the owners’ association for upkeep of the common areas.


Q: How do I find government-repossessed properties?

July 5, 2012 5:22 pm

A: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker's commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.


Now Hiring: Top 5 Careers to Prepare For

July 2, 2012 5:18 pm

If you or someone you know is casting around for the next hot career opportunity, there are five booming career paths worth prepping for now, according to career counselor Cynthia Shapiro, author of, “What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get a Job Around Here?”

“Studies show that employers in these fields right now expect to hire from 10 to 25 percent more people in the coming months than they did in 2011,” Shapiro said.

While a bachelor’s degree is not required for these well-paid jobs, Shapiro added, job-seekers will likely need to obtain certification in the chosen field from an accredited technical school or training program.

Whether or not you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may want to look into further training for these top five growing career fields:

· Medical assistant – Medical assistants help doctors’ offices run smoothly. Duties may include scheduling appointments, managing paperwork, sterilizing instruments and/or measuring patients’ vital signs. The field is expected to grow by over 30 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

· Paralegal – Paralegals help attorneys prep for trials, hearings and corporate meetings by researching case law, organizing paperwork, and writing legal documents and arguments. The field is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent through 2020.

· Accountants - Working with companies, individual clients, or even the government, accountants help clients prepare, analyze, and verify the accuracy of their financial documents. Some may offer budget analysis and financial and investment planning. More than 16 percent growth in the field is expected through 2020.

· Public Relations Specialist – PR specialists work with clients – ranging from individuals and businesses to universities, hospitals and non-profit organizations – to build and maintain positive images and relationships with the public. They may write press releases, speak to media contacts or develop new public relations programs. The labor department estimates more than 20 percent growth in the field through 2020.

· Computer Software developer – Developers create new software products ranging from video games to word processing systems, and could be in charge of a company’s entire software development program. They are also called upon to fix or improve existing programs. Job growth of more than 30 percent is projected through 2020.


Helpful Hints for Your Eco Friendly Backyard Wedding

July 2, 2012 5:18 pm

Some of the best weddings I have ever attended have taken place in family yards and at private homes. So it was thrilling to become familiar with the Green Bride Guide, a top wedding resource and leading advocate for eco-conscious living.

The Green Bride Guide has a directory of over 1,500 green service providers that can help plan a green outdoor party this summer, and they also offer plenty of ideas to make your private wedding or gathering environmentally friendly.

When thinking about your next big soiree, or your big day, the Green Bride Guide suggests these green alternatives:

All Natural Charcoal - Fire up the grill and get cookin' with Lazzari 100 percent natural mesquite charcoal - made from ecologically harvested wood, this is a carbon neutral, flavor enhancing alternative.

Green Grilling - Neatly packaged in a 100 percent-recycled cardboard cylinder with recycled paper stuffing, the Eco BBQ set from includes fork, spatula, tongs and 20 wooden Skewers. All materials are constructed of FDA compliant materials such as stainless steel, and bamboo.

Refreshing Green Drinks - Drink refreshing green mojitos made from organic rum, club soda, pure cane sugar, organic limes and crushed organic mint grown from your garden. Drink from recycled glass containers or reuse mason jars for hefty shatter-proof drinking glasses. Put a biodegradable straw in there to sip from and you're good to go!

Sustainable Serving Ware - Choose from a wide variety of Susty Party Plates, which are made from recycled plastic and can be reused. Ditch the old paper plates and plastic and go sustainable.

Safe De-Bugging - When the sun sets, nothing ruins an outdoor party faster than mosquitoes. So try all natural citronella torches from Made from bug repellant beeswax and soy candles with essential oils, the candles burn for eight hours.



Buying a home: Prepare by Getting your Finances in Order

July 2, 2012 5:18 pm

(ARA) - For those considering buying a home, the current real estate market presents some unique opportunities. One of the side effects of the economic roller coaster ride of the past few years is that home prices have gone down and more homes have gone on the market. For buyers, that means more choices and better deals. However, those same tumultuous years can also teach buyers a lesson: Make smart buying decisions and be wise with your finances.

Impulsive buying is never a good idea when it comes to a purchase as significant as a home, but it was something of a trend at the height of the mid-2000s. Now, with banks lending far more cautiously, you need to be absolutely certain that your finances are in order - and healthy - to be able to get the best deal on your purchase.

There are a number of steps you can take to get ready to buy a home, and you might need to work on them simultaneously. Consider that you'll need to start saving, if you haven't already, but you'll also need to review your credit score and do what you can to either maintain it or work toward healthier credit. Both of these tasks will help make the home-buying process better for you.

Your credit is an important factor in determining the terms under which you can get a mortgage. Broadly speaking, the better your credit is, the more positively you'll be viewed by lenders - and that can lead to better interest rates. And because you'll be paying off your home for years to come, it's important to get the best rate possible.

Start by checking your credit report. You're entitled to one free check of your report, from several credit reporting agencies every year. As much as you need to check your report to find out what shape your credit is in, it's also essential to review it for inaccuracies or fraudulent activity, both of which can have a negative impact on your score.

If your credit health needs some work, start taking action immediately. Paying bills on time, reducing your overall debt and limiting new credit inquiries can all help to build your credit - but be patient as it can take time for your positive actions to take effect. Nevertheless, the sooner you make the effort, the sooner you'll see results.

Making a prudent decision about buying a house comes down to an honest assessment of what you can afford. Keep in mind that you might be approved for a loan that's larger than what is practical for you to afford. While it may be tempting to buy a pricier house, the stress of struggling to make payments could diminish your enjoyment of your new home and even put you at financial risk. One rule of thumb is that most borrowers can afford a home loan that runs about two and a half times their annual salary.

Buying a home is a complex process, but one that is ultimately very rewarding when done right. By organizing your finances well in advance, you'll help set yourself up for success.



Word of the Day

July 2, 2012 5:18 pm

Loan servicing. Task of collecting monthly payments, handling insurance and tax impounds, delinquencies, early payoffs, and mortgage releases.


Q: What happens at a trustee sale?

July 2, 2012 5:18 pm

A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.

Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.