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

Great Ideas for Creating Happy Family Memories

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Creating close family memories does more than enhance the good times families share, according to educational consultant Dr. Michelle Borba. It actually increases our kids’ social skills and development and is a good first step toward helping our children grow into creating happy families of their own.

Borba, a former teacher who serves on the advisory committee of Parents Magazine, suggests six no-cost and surefire ways to create happy family customs our kids will remember into adulthood:

• Nighttime rituals – Read a bedtime story to the younger kids. As kids get older, convene in the kitchen for a bedtime snack about 9 p.m. and be sure everyone gets a good night hug and kiss before heading off for bed or finishing homework.
• Special greetings – Develop a few special family rituals for saying, “I love you” without words; perhaps rubbing noses like Eskimo kisses, or creating a unique family hug.
• Birthday memories – each family member gets to create his/her favorite birthday dinner menu, cake, or outing, and it then becomes a ritual to enjoy together.
• Celebrate successes – Create special ways to commemorate each family member’s special accomplishments; perhaps a fancy plate at the dinner table or a special flag posted at the front door.
• Family game night – Dust off the Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly games and designate a couple of hours one night each week for sharing old and newly learned family games. Or make it a Family Movie Night and watch one together, complete with popcorn.
• Annual traditions – Designate every Father’s Day as a fishing or picnic day. Go berry-picking every spring. Volunteer together every first fall Saturday at a local food bank or shelter – or make a commitment to participate as a family once or twice a year in whatever activity is a family favorite.

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Learn Your Laminate

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

I just ran across some informative input about the appeal of certain types of flooring to potential Real Estate buyers. Sarah Snodgrass (sarahsnodgrass.com) a full-time, full-service, real estate agent living and working in Kansas City, recently told her clients what she really feels about laminate flooring.
While wood laminate flooring manufactured by Pergo, Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong and other companies is less expensive and easier to install than real wood flooring, Snodgrass pointed to her own experiences when noting the drawbacks of wood laminate flooring. 

She also recommended that homeowners planning a floor improvement project stick with the timeless design and high quality craftsmanship of real wood floors. Snodgrass said there are a number of reasons why paying a bit more now can reap attractive returns when it's time to sell a home. 

According to Snodgrass, the Top 5 reasons to say NO to laminate flooring are:
1. It will disappointment buyers. "Everyone is going to be momentarily fooled, then ultimately disappointed to learn that what they are seeing is not real wood. This is especially true in older areas of town where hardwood floors are common and expected."
2. It is ugly. "I realize this is a bold statement, but really – can you honestly tell me that you like this better than real hardwoods?"
3. Buyers will think that you are cheap. "It is obvious that you thought wood floors would look good, but took the cheaper route. This will lead buyers to wonder where else you cut corners. Buyers are fearful of buying homes they think might have hidden or latent problems from poor craftsmanship, inferior materials, or cheap, inexperienced installation."
4. It is loud. "Unless you are in rubber soled shoes, your shoes will sound noisier than on real wood."
5. It looks dirty and dents easier. "Wood laminate shows and reflects dirt, and almost always looks dirty. Even when it is freshly mopped, you can sometimes see your cleaning streaks in the sunlight. I have also seen high heels and dogs’ nails create dents in wood laminate."

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Tips for Preventing Moss and Algae Growth in Your Lawn

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

As summer time approaches, you want to keep your lawn looking its best. Lawn moss and algae are damaging and unsightly infestations that can affect your lawn, so here are some lawn care tips to help prevent them and treat their onset. 

Moss and algae are harmful non-flowering plants that compete for space with healthy grass when it is on the verge of being in bad shape. 

Removing shade helps to keep your lawn strong by providing natural nutrients. So, if you have any trees in your garden, cut branches that prevent the whole yard from receiving sunlight. Also - take down any umbrellas or lawn furniture that may block sunlight from reaching the lawn when they are not in use. 

Drainage and aeration also help to solve the issues of compacted soil and too much moisture. You can spike the affected area to allow air in, break up the soil and eliminate excess moisture. You can also work to increase sunlight to the area, when possible, and improve growth of turfgrass. You should also avoid watering your lawn without spiking it first to allow for proper drainage. 

Source: TruGreen

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Superfood Alert: Grapefruit

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Grapefruit is naturally packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, this citrus superfood has a controversial reputation, as it has made headlines for not mixing well with some medications.

Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert and advocate, has teamed up with Sunkist to address the reasons for concern and encourage consumers to talk to their doctors before assuming they need to eliminate the nutritious benefits of grapefruit from their diet. 

Grapefruit, like some other fruit juices, can increase the absorption of certain drugs into the bloodstream, which can lead to adverse affects. When eaten as a part of a healthy diet, grapefruit can help protect the body against chronic diseases, strengthen the immune system, aid with weight loss and promote skin health. 

"The facts are that while some prescription and non-prescription medications have harmful interactions with grapefruit, the concern does not apply to all medications," says Dr. Moore. "Most drugs are labeled if there is reason for caution. As grapefruit is a rich source of vitamin C with no sodium or fat, people should talk to their doctor or pharmacist to verify whether grapefruit fits in your diet or not." 

Source: www.sunkist.com.

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Word of the Day

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Equity. Value an owner has in a piece of property less the debt against it. For example, if the market value of a house is $150,000 and the owner has paid off $10,000 of a $75,000 mortgage, the owner has $85,000 equity.

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Question of the Day

May 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Q: Does the government offer assistance with home improvements? 

A: Yes. Two very popular programs offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) include the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan and the Section 203(k) Program. In the first program, HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family house to cover alterations, repairs, and site improvements. The latter program, which also insures mortgage loans, is HUD’s primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single-family homes. Loans are also available from the Department of Veteran Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans. The Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan program, funded by the Agriculture Department, offers low-rate loans to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs. Funds are also available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards. The federal government isn’t alone in its efforts to provide assistance. Local and state governments offer special home improvement programs. Contact your governor or mayor’s office for more details.

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Gen-Y: Up to Bat as Next Wave of Homebuyers

May 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Thanks to a recent report from the Virginia Association of Realtors (varbuzz.com), I learned a lot about the next generation of homeowners and homebuyers. The VAR pointed to data from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which noted that in 2010, Generation Y surpassed the baby boomers to become America’s largest generation. 

According to the report, Gen-Y-ers currently are 15 to 32 years old, are moving into apartments and buying homes, and will dominate residential demand for much of their lives –just as the boomers did over the past 45 years. 

To get a sense of this young generation’s housing circumstances and future preferences, the ULI commissioned an online survey of a nationally representative sample of Gen-Y individuals ages 18 to 22 who are no longer in high school. 

The report is quite detailed, but the VAR focused on a few of the most relevant findings to its members, and future home sellers:
• For the first time in decades, America’s average household size is inching up as Gen-Y-ers (and even some Gen-X-ers) take longer to leave home or return to their parents after losing a job.
• Two-thirds expect to be owners, including over half those in their 20s. Among those who will be in their 30s, three-fourths believe they will be homeowners.
• Of those saying they do not expect to own by 2015, seven of ten claim they will own at some future time. • Over half those currently living with their parents believe they will have acquired their own homes by 2015.
• Hispanics are ahead of whites in their ownership expectations. Blacks have slightly more modest home buying goals, but the difference is not statistically significant.
• 21 percent expect to put down less than 10 percent as down payment; 39 percent expect it to be between 10 percent and 20 percent. And 40 percent expect to come up with a down payment of more than 20 percent.

The VAR also noted that since such a high percentage of future homeowners expect to put down less than 20 percent on a home purchase suggests—Gen Y may not be fully apprised of today’s tighter mortgage underwriting standards. 

Good food for thought if you are among the newest generation of real estate clients, or planning to sell in the near future.

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Check Your Deck: May Is National Deck Safety Month

May 3, 2012 5:22 pm

As homeowners rev into full spring and summer entertaining season, everyone should make time to check their decks for safety concerns that could lead to accidents and injuries. 

"Many of us have delayed home repairs and improvement until they are absolutely essential," says Rob Haislip, vice president of Archadeck. "Even then, sometimes homeowners don't have enough information to decide when something is optional or truly a safety hazard that could result in an injury." 

To help ensure safety, especially for decks that are more than 10 years old, Archadeck is sharing seven deck safety inspection guidelines with the acronym of "BE SAFER": 

Boards: Look at the condition of your deck boards. While most wood will show some minor cracks and splits over time, boards should be good and not rotting or damaged.
Every Connection: Decks should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors. Check every connection on the deck to make certain that they are not corroded or compromised. Look for nails backing out, red rust and other signs of corrosion that can weaken the integrity of the deck.
Structure: If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?
Attachment: The attachment of the deck to the house is where most deck failures occur. Ensure that the deck is properly attached to the house with bolts and is properly flashed for water protection. Nails should never be used.
Foundation / Footings: The foundation / footings support the weight, also known as the load, on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column to separate from a beam.
Exits: Check the areas where people exit from the deck, usually stairs. Check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers. Do the stairs require a handrail? Is there adequate lighting to safely use the exits at night?
Rails: Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing to make sure that they aren't loose or wobbly. Verify that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart. 

Source: http://www.archadeck.com/

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Word of the Day

May 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Encumbrance. Any impediment to a clear title. It can be a claim, lien, zoning restriction, or other legal right or interest in land that diminishes its value. The report of the title search usually shows all encumbrances.

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Question of the Day

May 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Q: Where can you find fixer-uppers?

A: They are literally everywhere, even in wealthy enclaves. What sets them apart is price. They have lower market value than other houses in the immediate area because they have either been poorly maintained or abandoned.
To determine if a property that interests you is a wise investment will require a lot of work. You will need to figure out what the average home in the area sells for, as well as the cost of the most desirable ones.

Experts suggest that novices avoid run-down properties needing extensive work. Instead, they recommend starting with a property that only needs minor cosmetic work – one that can be completely refurbished with paint, wallpaper, new floor and window coverings, landscaping, and new appliances.

Also, keep in mind that a home price that looks too good to be true probably is. Find out why before pouring your hard-earned money into it.
When looking for a fixer-upper, some experts suggest you follow this basis strategy: find the least desirable home in the most desirable neighborhood. Then decide if the expense that is needed to repair the property is within your budget.

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