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 
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Mary's Blog

Word of the Day

April 30, 2012 8:14 pm

Easement. Limited right to cross or use for some specified purpose the property of another. It may be permanent or temporary. Water, sewage, and utility suppliers frequently hold an easement across private property.

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Question of the Day

April 30, 2012 8:14 pm

Q: Are 40-year mortgages a good idea?
A
: The main reason buyers sign on for these type of loans, which add 10 years to the traditional 30-year mortgage, is to take advantage of smaller monthly payments.
According to real estate experts, the shorter-term loan is usually more advantageous for the homebuyer. The drawback becomes apparent simply by calculating the cost of additional interest payments, which can total thousands for the privilege of just saving the difference of a few dollars in monthly mortgage payments.

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Road Warriors: Budget-Friendly Road Trip Tips

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

With warm weather season in full swing, now is the time to start planning your fun family getaways. If you are concerned about affording it all, author and financial expert Farnoosh Torabi offers the following tips to help you have fun and save money on your next vacation. 

Bank on gas-saving apps
Look to budget-friendly websites, such as www.GasBuddy.com, which also offers an app that helps you find the closest gas station with the best prices near you. Another gas-saving app is Gas Hog. It costs 99 cents and calculates your car's fuel economy, then provides tips on ways to make your car more fuel-efficient. 

Rent a car
It turns out that, contrary to popular belief, it can actually be cheaper to rent a car for weekend getaways than it is to drive your own. According to a study by Brett Smith, co-director, manufacturing, engineering and technology for the Center for Automotive Research, when renting a compact car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car at its weekend rate, the savings can come to 12 cents per mile. If your getaway is a 300-mile round trip, the fuel savings could be more than $20. 

"By renting a car, you reduce the stress and mileage placed on your own vehicle, and you can upgrade or downgrade depending on the size of your family and fuel economy needs," explains Torabi. 

Pack and save
On road trips, most people grab a few snacks every time they stop for gas. Over time, those candy bars and sodas can really add up. A family of four can easily spend $15.00 for drinks and snacks at just one stop. "One easy way to lower the cost of your trip is to pack your own food. Pack a cooler full of bread, peanut butter, string cheese, water, juice and plenty of fruit. You'll be less likely to splurge while filling up the tank, make healthier choices, and save a bundle over all," says Torabi. 

Book hotels on Sunday nights
This is when the weekend rush is over and hotel managers have time to talk on the phone and discuss available discounts. Ask to get a free night's stay if you're staying for more than two nights. That's at least $100 saved right there. 

Better yet - skip the hotel
Find cheap -- but chic -- guest rooms in local homes and apartments through websites such as www.AirBnB.com and www.OneFineStay.com. 

"With a little planning and flexibility, your family can enjoy a vacation they'll remember for years to come," says Torabi.

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Shop Smart: Tips for Buying Kids' Shoes

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

When it comes to buying shoes for your children, there are so many different styles available; it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which one to choose. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your child needs proper foot support during childhood's critical growth years. 

A child's foot can grow up to about the age of 18, and the most important development happens in the first seven years. Here is a quick look at how fast kids' feet grow: 

• Under 12 months old, every 2 months.
• 12 months to 2.5 years old, every 3 months.
• 2.5 to 4 years old, every 4 months.
• From 4 to 6 years old, every 6 months. 

Shoes that do not fit properly can be uncomfortable and unhealthy. That is why it is important to always measure a child's feet before buying shoes. Every shoe fits differently, so do not buy shoes based solely on the size printed on the shoebox. Make sure your child tries on every shoe and watch them as they walk to make sure they seem comfortable and fit properly. 

Shoe Buying Tips
When you find shoes that you like, hold them in your hand and examine them. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), experts in foot health and development, recommends you look for the following features: 

Flexibility. Typically, the younger the child, the thinner and more flexible the soles should be. The sole should be easily flexible and be able to bend in your hand without effort. It should bend with your child's toes -- where the ball of the foot will be rather than in the middle of the shoe.
Toe room. While your child is standing, you should be able to press about a half inch, roughly a finger's width, between the longest toe and the front of the shoe. The area of the shoe just below the laces should crease when your baby takes a step.
Materials. The upper part of the shoe should be made of breathable materials such as leather, rather than synthetic materials. The insoles should be cushioned for comfort. Feel around inside the shoe for irregularities in stitching, glue or stapling. Look for a stiff heel cup. Press on both sides of the heel counter. It should not collapse. 

To help parents find shoes that fit properly, here are some helpful shoe buying tips:
• Make sure to see a professional trained in fitting shoes for infants, toddlers and young children. For example, Stride Rite's Fit Training Program received the APMA Seal of Acceptance. The seal recognizes products evaluated by a committee of podiatrists that contribute to better foot health.
• Have your child's feet measured every 2 to 3 months until toddler years, then every 3 to 4 months after that.
• Feet are seldom precisely the same size. Always buy for the larger foot.
• Do not buy shoes that need "breaking in." Shoes should be comfortable from the beginning. Observe your child walking around in both shoes for longer than a few minutes. Then, check each foot to make certain there are no irritation marks.
• Make sure the shoe is not too heavy. A heavy shoe can make your child walk irregularly, preventing the development of a normal walking pattern.
• If a child complains of foot pain or discomfort, schedule a check-up with your local podiatrist who specializes in children's foot care. 

Source: www.striderite.com and www.apma.org.

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Word of the Day

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

Due-on-sale. Clause in a note or mortgage giving the lender the right to call the entire loan balance due if the property is sold or otherwise conveyed.


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Question of the Day

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

Q: Which is better, a 15-year or 30-year loan?
A:
The 15-year mortgage offers you a chance to save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. This is because the interest rate is typically lower and amortization is half that of the 30-year loan, which means that the total interest paid on the 15-year note, as compared to a 30-year note, is significantly less because of the shorter borrowing period. 

Put another way, a 15-year loan accrues principal much more quickly than a 30-year loan, so you get to own your house in half the time. 

However, because you are building equity faster and paying down the loan sooner, a 15-year mortgage requires higher monthly payments. 

Get a lender to help you calculate the overall savings of the 15-year loan versus the 30-year mortgage. In the end, though, base your decision on your circumstances and overall financial plan, such as whether you are nearing retirement age and also will have to shell out college expenses for children, in which case a 15-year loan may not be for you. Remember that your spending habits, budget, and financial goals should all be considered before making a final decision.

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Spring into Home Improvement with Weekend Wonder Projects

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

(ARA) - Sprucing up your home for spring doesn't have to mean spending huge amounts of time and money. In fact, there are many projects that you can complete in a weekend that will improve the look and feel of your home. With a little guidance and the right tools, you can easily get your home in top shape by Monday morning.

Paint refresh
Commonly recognized as one of the easiest and most cost-effective interior updates, painting is a weekend project that can completely transform the aesthetic of your home. When purchasing paint, a quality product will ensure your end results are beautiful. Low-quality, inexpensive paint will likely require a number of coats to get the coverage needed - resulting in more time and money spent. To avoid increased time and cost, use a premium line of paint like Pratt & Lambert's Accolade, which guarantees excellent hide and outstanding durability. Popular among interior designers, Accolade is available in more than 1,000 colors to complement any style. When choosing paint for your next weekend project, remember that a quality product will achieve the best end result and save you time and money in the long run.

Lighting update
Tired of the same old lamps sitting on your end tables but don't have the funds to revamp your lighting decor? A new lamp shade will completely change the look of any piece. You can also easily transform pieces by renewing the lamp bases; a quick walk down the spray paint aisle will show limitless possibilities of colors and finishes. You can even renew plastic pieces with Krylon Fusion for Plastic, the first paint of its kind. Create a cohesive look by bringing that new finish to your hanging fixtures as well.

Accessorize
Adding trendy, fun accessories will give any room a new and more put-together look. Think vases and bowls, wall art and rugs. When adding accessories, look for colors that complement what is already in the room. Plants and flowers can also add energy and color, some with the added bonus of a pleasant aroma.

Furniture renewal
One easy way to update furniture on a budget is by recovering it or using slip covers. Premade covers are available in a wide variety of fabrics and designs, or you can create a custom cover for your sofa or armchair. More ambitious crafters may actually reupholster furniture to create a completely new-looking seating option. After repadding and covering cushions, sand and stain or paint wood pieces for a completely modern feel.

Modern flooring
Carpet has seen better days? Replace it. Hardwood is scuffed and dull? Refinish it. You can also achieve the look of natural wood or stone flooring with luxury vinyl tile. This affordable option is no longer your grandmother's vinyl, now available in a variety of natural finishes that are both durable and modern. If replacing isn't in your budget, simply give your flooring a good cleaning and use accent rugs to cover blemished areas.

Check off a project on your home improvement to-do list this weekend, and enjoy the results through spring and beyond.

Source: www.aracontent.com

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How to Manage Your Borrowing Responsibly

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

At some point, most everyone will need to borrow money, whether it's for school, a car, a home, a business, or to meet daily expenses during a personal financial downturn. Of course, how that money is borrowed and how it is paid back can make a big difference in the total cost and a person's overall financial standing.

"Knowing how, when, and how much to borrow can be difficult to determine," says Ken Hall, Senior Vice President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "But a little research and planning can go a long way to ensuring responsible borrowing and personal financial health."

Hall offers some advice on responsible borrowing and how to make sense of the options available.

• Know your credit score. This number is vital, and will often determine whether you can borrow money, how large a loan you can secure, and what interest rate you'll pay. Creditors will look at this score to gauge your ability to pay back a loan. It's made available via three main agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Credit reports from these agencies should be checked regularly to ensure accuracy.
• Manage your credit score. There are many factors that play into a credit score, including your credit history, outstanding debts and your total number of credit accounts and loans. Paying off debt, making payments on time, and not opening new credit accounts will all help bring your credit score up.
• Understand your responsibility before co-signing anyone else's credit or loan. If a friend or family member makes that request, be sure you know what you're signing and have the ability to make payments in the event the primary signator is not able to.
• Prioritize your debt, whether you're paying it off or taking out a loan. If you're faced with multiple sources of debt, make a list and determine which should be paid off first. If possible, make more than the minimum monthly payments to keep interest costs down. When taking on more debt, avoid new credit cards where possible and focus debt where it can help you over the long run – in a home or a college education.
• Set your kids up for success by educating them on borrowing. Give them small loans and charge interest as they're paid back. Explain how credit cards work, and how much interest is paid when the bill comes. As kids get older and closer to college, talk to them about student debt and their prospects for paying those loans back after graduation.

Source: http://www.harrisbank.com

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Pest Problem? Survey Shows You’re Not Alone.

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

Have you ever had a pest invasion in your home? Then you may not be surprised to learn that 84 percent of America's homeowners experienced a pest problem in the past 12 months, according to a national survey by HomeTeam Pest Defense. The top pest issues for homeowners in the last year were ants (49 percent), spiders (43 percent), flies (37 percent), mosquitoes (34 percent), mice (30 percent) and wasps (29 percent).

"Pests have appeared earlier than usual this year due to warm winter, early spring and recent heavy rains," saysRuss Horton, national technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense. "We have already seen termite swarms in Texas, Georgia and Florida, odorous house ants in the Mid-Atlantic, and scorpions in Arizona."

Additionally, HomeTeam's national survey found that 80 percent of homeowners are concerned about pests in their home. The top pests homeowners worry about are termites, cockroaches, rats, bed bugs and mice. Termites are the greatest pest concern, worrying one in four, and 13 percent actually experienced termites in the last 12 months. Nearly one quarter (22 percent) of homeowners have experienced structural damage to their home from a pest problem.

Eighty percent of homeowners are also concerned about being exposed to bed bugs when traveling, and most (81 percent) are not confident they know how to prevent bringing bed bugs into their home.

While many homeowners (54 percent) treated pest problems on their own, two-thirds of the do-it-yourselfers were unable to resolve their problem completely. Half of homeowners (51 percent) say using a pest control service is a necessity, and working with a company that guarantees its work was very important to almost everyone (95 percent). Treatments that will not harm children and pets were a high priority for 80 percent.

"There are easy ways to help lower your risk of infestation now and throughout the spring and summer," adds Horton.

HomeTeam offers the following quick tips to prepare your home and prevent pest infestations:

• Seal cracks and small openings around doors, windows, garage doors and utility entry points.
• Get rid of standing water around the home.
• Cut back tree branches and bushes, keeping them away from the side of the house and roof.
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
• Fix dripping taps and leaking pipes to remove the water and humidity that some pests need to survive.
• Empty garbage cans and recycle bins regularly.
• Store food in sealed containers on countertops, cupboards or in the refrigerator.

Additional data is available from the HomeTeam Pest Defense survey related to national pest trends and the pest control habits of homeowners, as well as highlights from the four major regions of the country and several local markets. The survey also revealed interesting findings in:

• Parenting/Children: Forty-five percent of parents with children age 6-17 are not confident their child knows which pests are harmful and should be avoided.
• Pets: Fleas and ticks remain the top pest issues for pets. More than half (53 percent) of pet owners have ever experienced an issue with fleas.
• Real Estate: Half of people (51 percent) say they don't think about pests when house hunting, but several pests including termites, bed bugs, rodents and cockroaches are deal breakers if seen in a potential home.

Source: www.rollins.com, www.pestdefense.com.

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Trend Watch: Color and Customize Your Kitchen

April 27, 2012 2:08 pm

(ARA) - If you want your home to reflect your personal style, why not start in the kitchen? The kitchen, commonly the most popular room in the house for everyday life and entertaining, doesn't have to be cookie cutter with coordinating color schemes.

Current trends give homeowners leeway to add personal flair to the kitchen with bursts of color, unique designs and unexpected patterns.

Walls painted in neutral hues, and appliances and fixtures in monochromatic finishes, create a nice "blank canvas" that you can dress up with bold accessories or patterned fabrics.

If you want to kick up your kitchen decor another notch, explore your color options. Colorful kitchen products and appliances abound. Mixers, blenders, teapots and even faucets are available in a variety of colors, such as blue, red, pink or yellow and can add an unexpected pop to your space.

"Color blocking is something that is trending in both fashion and interior design," says Judd Lord, Delta Faucet Company director of industrial design. "People want to express themselves through home decor just like they do with their own style."

If you want to stay on top of current trends, then try experimenting with the 2012 Pantone color of the year - Tangerine Tango. Radiating warmth and energy, the bright hue can energize a room. Incorporate the color on a small scale with table linens or go bold and paint one of the walls to add dimension.

You can also spice things up by creating a more eclectic look. One way to do this is by mixing and matching cabinetry hardware designs. There are many different styles, sizes, colors and materials, making it easy create your own custom space. Or switch up your kitchen table and chairs, using different styles instead of a matching set. Try an antique table with chairs that are structured and modern or upholstered with a variety of bold patterns. Add in a bench on one side to make it even more unexpected.

For more of a subtle, eclectic look, combine a variety of dinnerware pieces that hang together with one consistent thread, such as bold color or an unexpected pattern. The best part is you don't have to stress if you break a plate, can't find the exact piece to match the collection, or have more guests than matching dinner sets.

Customize your kitchen space by adding a hint of color or playing around with mixing and matching wherever you feel comfortable. You're going to spend a lot of time in your kitchen, so have fun with it and make it your own.

Source: www.aracontent.com

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