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

Q: Where Can I Find Foreclosure Properties?

June 29, 2012 5:14 pm

A: Look in the legal notices section of your local newspaper. A notice is also usually posted on the property itself and somewhere in the city where the sale will take place.

However, real estate agents are the best source for information about foreclosures before they begin. Often a property will be listed and the agent will know if it is approaching foreclosure. Perhaps the best way to get the information is to have your agent put the word out that you are looking for properties with pending foreclosures.

Another source can be the bank or financial institution that holds the mortgage. Of course, they generally will not give you the names of those who are facing foreclosure, but they may give the property owner your card or phone number.

Buying foreclosures is not easy. Savvy investors are highly skilled at nabbing these properties. Inexperienced buyers may find themselves surrounded by pretty stiff competition. They will need to get as much information as possible, including a "foreclosure inspection report" and an appraisal from the lender.


Rule Your Roots: Hardscaping

June 28, 2012 5:10 pm

In our last segment I introduced you to Tchukki Andersen, a Board Certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). We gave you some tips on preventing damage from roots and how to save your tree if the roots get cut.

"Most damage is found six feet or less from the tree," notes Andersen, "since roots become smaller and less damaging the further they are from the trunk."

But this is an important point to keep in mind before you plant. That small sapling could become a large shade tree with roots spreading 30 or 40 feet outward from the trunk in 10 - 20 years.

Andersen suggests these root management options to keep roots clear of hard surfaces or "hardscapes:"

              Installing physical root guides and barriers that redirect tree roots down and away from hardscapes with minimal impact on the tree

              Curving new hardscape features - such as a driveway or patio - around the tree roots

              Suspending hardscape features on small pilings to bridge over roots

So what's the right tree for your site?

Andersen advises selecting trees for your landscape that will cause less damage, matching species with site conditions and - most importantly - not planting large shade trees within 12 feet of hardscapes (sidewalks, driveways).

In areas within five to seven feet of a paved area or structure, plant trees that grow to a mature height of less than 30 feet. In areas within seven to 10 feet of a paved area or structure, plant trees that grow to a mature height of less than 50 feet.

Reserve trees that when mature reach higher than 50 feet for areas with at least 12 feet of clearance around the trunk; this allows adequate space for the roots. Also, before you plant check for overhead utility lines and leave adequate space for that tree to mature.


The Most Expensive DIY Mistakes

June 28, 2012 5:10 pm

Do-it-yourself home improvement can be a great way to add value to your home without having to pay builders or plumbers to do the work. But even the simplest of DIY jobs can quickly turn into an expensive mess when tackled incorrectly. Here's a look at some of the most costly DIY mistakes to avoid this summer.

Unrealistic goals: Home improvement can be an addictive hobby and many enthusiasts fall into the trap of running before they can walk. Suddenly a simple blocked drain or drain repair can flood an entire house and leave a DIY amateur struggling to fix the problem. If you suddenly find yourself uncertain of the job you're doing, down tools and look for advice either online or from a professional emergency plumber.

Poor safety: Falling off a ladder, inhaling fumes and slicing open fingers are just a few of the DIY-related injuries that happen every weekend in the UK. Unfortunately these accidents not only hurt your pride, they can also affect your work and therefore your income. Safety goggles and gloves are a must, as well as gaining a proper understanding of the power tools that you are using. You are advised to read the instructions manual that came with the tools for guidance. Opening windows, whilst painting, will help to keep the air free of dangerous fumes, while loose-hanging clothing should be avoided to stop them getting caught up when using power tools.

Not asking permission: Many homeowners are caught out when they tackle major improvements without first getting permission from the local authority. Fines for unapproved work can be hefty and the permit structure exists to make sure the job is done correctly. Many insurance companies also require proof that an improvement project followed official government guidelines, so ensure you check your rights first.

Cutting corners: Tight budgets are a reality for many homeowners, but cheap tools and materials are unfortunately a false economy. Using 1/4-inch drywall instead of 5/8-inch, for example, will allow more noise to leak from room to room. Taking a professional approach and investing in the right tools for the job will ensure a good quality finish.

Inaccurate measurements: Planning is a vital part of any project and rushing through measurements is a quick way to a DIY headache. All veteran home improvers follow the golden rule of 'Measure twice, cut once.'



Community Tips for Hurricane Season

June 28, 2012 5:10 pm

As the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins, homeowners should begin preparing for potential hurricanes. This means not only looking out for your own property, but your neighbor’s homes as well.

"Particularly during times of severe weather, neighbors should look out for each other and practice a sense of community," says Eileen Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks America CEO. Below are some tips to follow to get ready for hurricane season.

1. Anticipate dangerous weather affecting your neighborhood.

Have a disaster-supply kit ready for you and your family to use. Stay informed so you're aware at all times of the situation and threats you may encounter.

2. Make a plan to evacuate. Ensure that everyone in your household knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Practice your evacuation route, write it down, and give every family member a copy. Lock up your home, take all of your medications with you, and take your pets with you.

3. Be a good neighbor, particularly during times of severe weather.
Think of the elderly, physically disabled, and others in your immediate area who may need assistance evacuating their homes. If the power goes out, some neighbors may need guidance on what immediate steps to take and how to stay calm. Check in with your neighbors to see where you can lend a hand. Do they have the food, water and resources they need?

4. Make sure you have renters' or homeowners' insurance. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, ensure that you have purchased homeowner's or renter's insurance.

5. Put all important financial documents in one place that you can get to easily and take them with you in case of a severe weather emergency. If possible, make electronic copies and email them to yourself in case paper documents are destroyed in a disaster. In addition, consider sending copies to a family member out of town as a precaution. A copy of your home's deed should be among these important papers. A deed will make it easier for you to prove your house is yours in the event that public records are inaccessible or destroyed in severe weather. Take photos of all valuables.

Source: NeighborWorks America


Word of the Day

June 28, 2012 5:10 pm

Lien. A debt on a property which encumbers it until the obligation is paid; a mortgage, back taxes, or other claim.


Q: Should I Buy a Vacation Home?

June 28, 2012 5:10 pm

A: The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market. Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end. That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes. They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well as retirement. In the latter instance, some people are buying with the idea of turning a vacation home into a permanent retirement haven down the road, a move that puts them ahead of the game now.

Some of the tax benefits mirror those for a primary residence. Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible, which helps to offset the cost of the home payment. And if you treat your second home as a rental property, you can fully depreciate it as well. But you are only allowed to occupy it for two weeks a year, or 10 percent of the total rented time, whichever is less.

Before taking the leap, ask yourself if you can afford to carry two mortgages, maintain two households, and pay the extra utilities and maintenance costs. Also, learn about financing requirements and options, which can differ slightly from those on a primary residence.


Lessons in Landscaping: Root Rights

June 27, 2012 8:06 pm

Putting down roots is usually considered a good thing, right? But when you're literally putting down roots, as in planting a tree, you need to take several factors into consideration BEFORE you break out the shovels.

Trees are hardy plants, and their roots fight back against man-made limits around them, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). That's why planning is important - because as roots grow, they can break walls, pipes and patios, causing damage to properties.

"Before you plant a new tree, you need to understand how a tree could damage your property and take appropriate measures to prevent that damage," advises Tchukki Andersen, Board Certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the TCIA.

Woody tree roots thicken as they grow, gradually pushing toward soil near the surface which is best suited for root growth. As a result, they often grow against the underside of pavement and become intrusive.

Some masons and landscapers may deal with intrusive roots by grinding down or removing them. But this can be expensive and is very harmful, because it leaves a tree vulnerable to disease.

Cutting major roots also reduces a tree's ability to take up nutrients and water, leaving it more susceptible to drought. Finally, cutting roots can reduce a tree's structural support, which increases the danger of the tree toppling during heavy weather events.

The TCIA recommends when cutting problem tree roots:
• The farther you cut from the trunk, the less threat to the tree's health, and the less danger of creating a hazard
• Try not to cut roots greater than two inches in diameter
• Prune roots back to a side or sinker root (growing downward) when possible
Roots that may become severed recover better when you:
• Cut them cleanly with a saw instead of breaking them with a backhoe
• Mulch and water well after root pruning
• Consult a qualified arborist when cutting within a distance equal to five times the trunk diameter to the trunk
In our next segment we'll talk about root management and picking the right tree for your site.


Make Time for Mindful Eating

June 27, 2012 8:06 pm

How often do you scarf down lunch in front of your computer, inhale a snack in the car or eat your dinner while catching up on your favorite TV shows? While this may seem like a great way to save time—and we’re all about multitasking—it’s actually not a good habit to develop and can lead to over eating, and create a major disconnect between our mind and our appetite.

"When we are out of touch with our eating, and with our bodies, it is easy to overeat and for weight to creep upwards," says Jenny Conviser, Psy.D., co-owner of Insight Psychological Centers and a leading expert in the treatment of eating disorders. "Some of the strategies we use in working with patients who struggle with binge eating disorder, can be useful to everyone who wants to establish mindful eating patterns."

Even if you have a healthy relationship with food, you may not be giving it your full attention. Mindful eating helps you appreciate each meal, learn when you’re hungry and when you’re just stressed or bored, and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. The following tips can help you eat mindfully.

Create a peaceful eating space. Even if you’re just clearing a corner of your desk (not in front of your computer!), creating a clear spot for you to enjoy your meals can help you feel a sense of calm that is hard to harvest when sitting at a cluttered surface.

Make time. It should take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal. While most people scarf their meals down in less than half of that time, aim to take a 15-minute break to focus on eating your meals. When we eat on the fly, our brains often don’t register the meal completely, which can lead to over eating later.

Eat sitting down. This battles mindless munching while standing at the fridge or pantry. Since we aren’t eating in front of the TV anymore (right?!) this means taking your snack to a table and focusing on your food, which will make you less likely to over-eat just because you’re zoning out—or focusing on the newest episode of Real Housewives.

Hone in on hunger. When you have the urge to eat, picture yourself sitting down to a full meal. If this is appealing, then you’re probably hungry. If not, you may be stressed, tired or bored. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. Distract yourself instead. Call a friend, take a walk or work on a project. Hungry? Go ahead and eat, right away. Waiting too long to eat or skipping meals can lead to unhealthy binges later.

Use your senses. Now that you’re taking the time to focus on your food, begin to notice each sensation. Savor flavors and textures. Focus on smell, color and taste combinations. By being conscious of each bite of food, and enjoying food as a full sensory experience, chances are you will appreciate it more, and possibly need less to feel satiated.

Check in with yourself. Our portion sizes are usually out of control. Now that you’re focusing on your food, begin downsizing your portions or taking breaks midway through your meal to check in with yourself. Are you truly still hungry? If not, wrap up the rest of your meal for later.


5 Simple Tips to Safely Store Medicines while Traveling

June 27, 2012 8:06 pm

With summer here and vacation season underway, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation, in partnership with the PROTECT Initiative, have released five medicine safety tips for families traveling with young children.

According to a recent travel report, more than three in five U.S. adults (64 percent), or an estimated 154 million Americans, plan to go on at least one vacation over the next several months.

The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October 2012 is up from 64 percent last April, and 56 percent in April 2010.

"Thousands of young children end up in emergency departments every year after getting into medicine while their parents or caregivers are not looking," says Dan Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's Medication Safety Program. "Accidental ingestions don't take a vacation, so it's important for parents to keep medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight at home, and also when families are away from their homes and staying in hotels or as guests in other's homes."

Tips for safely storing medicines and vitamins on-the-go, include:
1. When packing for a trip, keep your medicines in their original child-resistant containers. Other containers, such as pill organizers and baggies, often lack child safety features and can be easily accessed by young children.
2. While staying in a hotel, secure your medicines and vitamins in a location that your children cannot see or reach, such as a high cabinet or passcode-protected hotel room safe.
3. As a guest in another person's home, do not be shy about asking where you should put your medicines and vitamins so they are up and away and out of the sight and reach of children.
4. Remember to never leave medicines or vitamins out on a table, countertop, or bedside table where your children could reach them no matter where you are – always make sure the safety caps are locked and put them away every time they are used.
5. Program the national Poison Help number – 1-800-222-1222 – along with other emergency contact numbers into your cell phone, so that they are available in case of an emergency.



Sustainable Home Solutions for Summer

June 27, 2012 8:06 pm

This time of year, the heat is literally on to make affordable, sustainable improvements to home comfort. "Our favorite products offer all kinds of savings," says Tom Kraeutler, home improvement expert and syndicated radio show host of The Money Pit. "They save water, electricity and even human energy, with simple installations and everyday convenience."

Kraeutler recommends five sustainable solutions for summer comfort.

Hands-free convenience for the kitchen

"The MotionSense Arbor pulldown faucet provides hands-free kitchen convenience," says Kraeutler. "Just activate it with a few simple hand movements, and you can wash hands, clean dishes and prepare meals, all with greater water savings and reduced risk of cross-contamination." MotionSense's Wave Sensor and Ready Sensor allow hands-free water flow, with a side handle for manual operation. Featuring transitional styling, it's available in Chrome, Oil Rubbed Bronze or Spot Resist Stainless finishes. Learn more about MotionSense at

Easy-care, efficient replacement windows
"If you have old, drafty windows that are hard to open or need frequent scraping or painting, replace them with beautiful, energy-efficient windows from Andersen," says Kraeutler. "Andersen's 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Insert Window is available at The Home Depot and is custom-sized to fit inside an existing window frame, with minimal disruption to your home." Easily installed from inside, it features a tilt-to-clean function for easy care and High-Performance Low-E4 glass. Design an efficient new view at

Smarter lighting control
Lights that are left on can be a big energy drain and bulk up your electric bill. Install the Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor, and lights will turn on automatically when you enter a room and off again when you leave. Maestro's sensing technology ensures that lights stay on when a room is occupied, and detects natural light so that fixtures only turn on when needed. It works with all types of light bulbs and doesn't need special wiring. Switch to automatic energy savings at

Better bulbs for your bottom line
"The right light can do wonders for your home's energy efficiency, ambience and comfort," says Kraeutler. "And Philips AmbientLED bulbs provide dimmable soft-white light that lasts over 22 years, on a fraction of the energy used by incandescents." Philips AmbientLED bulbs are available in a range of shapes and wattages, provide instant-on light, and are mercury-free. Find the right Philips AmbientLED bulb for any lighting fixture at

Customized cooling for summer

Mitsubishi Electric residential cooling and heating systems provide energy-efficient comfort to specific rooms or a whole house, all without ductwork. "These compact cooling systems are 35 percent more energy-efficient than central A/C systems and 40 percent more energy-efficient than window units, and that means big savings during the hottest days of summer," says Segrete. Mitsubishi Electric cooling units have long-life allergen filters, a whisper-quiet sound level, and offer a variety of convenient control options. Design more efficient cooling at