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

Tackle Clutter Tonight; Tips to Organize Your Apartment

March 26, 2012 6:28 pm

Spring is in! That means it’s time for a little deep cleaning; time to clear away clutter, organize closets, and tackle the pantry (again!) If you are ready to tackle clutter in your apartment, now is a great time. There’s still enough of a hint of winter that you won’t succumb to Spring fever and ditch it all for a day at the park, but there’s enough warmth and daylight that you won’t mind a few trips out to the dumpster.
Marcia Bollinger, president of Apartment Finder, offers the following tips from Apartment Finder’s blog, The APT, to help usher in a nice clean Spring: 

1. Make a Plan. Decide which projects take priority. Does your closet need a massive redo? Are your kitchen drawers so filled with clutter they won’t open? Are you buried under an avalanche of assorted storage containers every time you open your kitchen cabinet? Once you decide what you want to tackle, put it on your calendar. Setting a date will keep you from finding excuses to put it off, and it will give you time to plan.

2. Be Creative. You have a target date and a list of projects—now what? Before you begin, think about what storage features you are lacking. Get imaginative. For example, try using bins to create easy weeknight meals in a basket. A bin labeled “spaghetti night” would contain pasta, a jar of sauce, and a loaf of Italian bread—an ideal solution to the “what-am-I-gonna-make-for-dinner” blues. 

3. Make Some Room. If your closet is also in serious need of attention, perhaps you’ll want to focus on this space, as well. Shoe organizers are handy in the closet, and so are storage bins. Take everything out of the closet until you have an empty space. Sort everything you haven’t worn or used in the past year into two piles: toss and give away. Place items back into your closet by type (pants, skirts, suit jackets, etc.). If you have empty wall space in your closet, add hooks (the removable type is perfect). The more hooks, the better—use these for belts, ties, and scarves. 

For more great tips on apartment living, visit Apartment Finder’s blog, The APT.

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Personal Loans Top Consumer Choice for Financial Help

March 26, 2012 6:28 pm

The ongoing economic sluggishness has left many consumers facing high levels of personal debt, burdened with bad credit scores, and buried by bills with inflexible due dates. According to ReallyBadCreditOffers.com, borrowing is up and personal loans are the overwhelming choice amongst 18-32 year olds.

But what are personal loans? Personal lending offers borrowers access to money without the hassle of requiring a security deposit that may or may not be available.

People use personal loans for a variety of different things. According to a 2009 release from Prosper.com, 49 percent of personal loan applicants are seeking a personal loan for the purpose of debt consolidation.

What is the average interest rate paid by personal loan borrowers? This, of course, depends on credit score and perceived creditworthiness. "A" borrowers pay an average of 10 percent. But "D" borrowers can pay more than 25 percent.

The most popular reasons that people turn to personal loans include: 

• Utility Bills
• Emergency Expenses
• Auto Accident Repair
• To Avoid Late Fees or Penalties
• Medical Emergencies

Source: www.reallybadcreditoffers.com, www.rebuild.org

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Word of the Day

March 26, 2012 6:28 pm

Commingle funds. Mixing of clients’ funds, or escrow, with an agent’s personal funds in an account; considered to be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the broker’s real estate license.

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Question of the Day

March 26, 2012 6:28 pm

Q: Do I have to be concerned with building codes and permits?
A: Depending on how your contract is written with the home improvement professional, either you or the contractor will be responsible for securing government approval to perform most remodeling jobs.
Building codes set minimum public-safety standards for such things as building design and construction. Codes vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next, but specialized codes generally exist for plumbing, electricity, and fire. Each usually involves separate inspections and inspectors. 

In addition, permits are generally required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered. They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure. 

Some jurisdictions require permits to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done. Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

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Get Outside: Tips for Spring Family Fun

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

As the weather warms, ample opportunities arise to get your kids outside and explore, play, and adventure. According to a recent survey from L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation, 60 percent of parents say their children spend less than an hour a day outdoors.

"Getting your children outside does not have to mean going for a long hike or needing expensive equipment, it can often be as simple as pitching a tent in your own backyard," says Rob Hutchison, Outdoor Discovery School Instructor at L.L.Bean. "By engaging your kids in the outdoors and making activities both educational and fun, they are more apt to develop a love of the outdoors and a desire to stay active."

Families can enjoy the outdoors —together— in more ways than before.

• The Sunny Day Rule – Now that the weather allows, encourage the "sunny day rule." When the sun is shining, unplug. This will get kids (and parents) away from the television, computer and video games and into the backyard.
• Clouding & Stargazing – These activities can be done from your own backyard with no equipment required. Pique your children's interest in weather, the atmosphere and space by creating a game identifying the various types of clouds and going out into the night to gaze at the stars and constellations overhead.
• Birding – Turn your backyard into a bird-friendly habitat. Birding is a family-friendly activity for those living in the city, suburbs or country. Back yards are a great place to create a safe place for birds to feed and nest. In addition to getting your family outdoors and identifying the various birding species, the maintenance aspect of this activity, including cleaning out feeders and nesting boxes, provides a good lesson in responsibility for children.
• Biking – Fun, not fitness, should set the pace for family cycling. Teach good road habits and hand signals in an empty parking lot. Play follow-the-leader on the painted lines to practice accurate steering, control and balance. And, always remember to wear a helmet.
• Family Camping – It's important to involve children early in your plans for family camping, allowing them the opportunity to engage in exploring different possible destinations and the trip prep process. Practice setting up a campsite in your backyard and teach the importance of "Leave No Trace" principles.
• Discover the National Parks – The U.S. National Park Service National Park Week is April 21-29. During this week, more than 350 national parks offer free admission, all week long. L.L.Bean's ParkFinder is a great tool that allows you to search thousands of national and state parks across the U.S. to find the one that's the right for your family's next outdoor adventure.
• Don't Be Afraid to Try Something New - Getting your kids—and yourself!—outside their comfort zones provides a great opportunity for personal growth. Check online or in your local paper for fun outdoor activities or clubs in your area. Pick a new one every week or month to keep your Spring and Summer fresh and fun. 

Source: www.llbean.com/100.

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Small Business Social Media Tips

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

If your business isn’t already implanting social media into your marketing plan, you are falling behind. With today’s consumers becoming more and more tech savvy, connecting via social media platforms is essential for business success. Here are a few simple tips: 

Know Your Audience. It is important to understand your audience and potential customer base before venturing into social media. Who is your audience? What age group? What social media platform are they most active in? What are they looking for, and what can you provide them? 

Know Your Goals. Knowing what you want—whether it’s increased sales, brand awareness, engagement or feedback—can help you better shape your social media strategy. 

Know Your Competitors. What is the competition doing with social media? And more importantly, what are they NOT doing. Know the trends in your market so that you can beat out competition and stay ahead. 

Stay Consistent. You want to be considered a valued, regular source of online content. If you start Tweeting, make sure you do it frequently so that consumers stay connected. Have a blog? Post regularly so your readers know they can depend on you for fresh, up-to-date content.

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Word of the Day

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

Cloud on title. Defect in the title that impairs the owner’s ability to market the property. This might be a lien, claim, judgment, or encumbrance.

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Question of the Day

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

Q: Are property taxes deductible?

A: Yes. Like the mortgage interest paid on a home loan, property taxes are fully deductible from your income. You may deduct them every year on your primary residence, second home and other investment properties.

However, escrow money held for property taxes cannot be deducted until the money is actually used to pay the property taxes.

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Wishing You Well: Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

As more homes and neighborhoods ripple outward from America's more urban or suburban centers, more and more homeowners are finding themselves having to get their water supply from a well versus municipal water sources.

Joe Finnerty's Lehigh Valley Real Estate blog covered the subject very well this month— no pun intended. Check it out here. 

According to Finnerty's post, there are three main concerns with a well:

1) Is the water safe to drink and use (also referred to as potable)?
2) Does the well have adequate capacity?
3) What is the depth of the well? (The deeper the well, the better the water, usually.)

If purchasing a home for the first time with a well, a buyer should consider having a test done to detect Coliform— especially if the well is near a septic system.

According to Finnerty, homeowners can also test for lead, pesticides, and other chemicals. If a problem is found with the well water, an ultra-violet light (to kill bacteria) or water conditioner may be needed.

If a well does not have an adequate water supply, and it is deep (300-500 feet), Finnerty says hydrofracking may fix the problem.

If the well is shallow or hydrofracking doesn't work, a new well may be needed— typically, in the $3,500 to $5,000 range— and an estimate should be obtained for a new well and location. Usually, a permit is needed to install a new well, according to the Pennsylvania-based site— check your local building codes or office to be sure.

The Canadian city of Guelph publishes an informative downloadable guide for water sources that can help orient any new first time well owner, or a prospective buyer who is looking at a home that draws well water.

Reference that information here.

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Wallet Woes: Sell Your Home on a Budget

March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

Between maintenance, cleaning and replacing those out-dating appliances, selling your home can be expensive. The following are a few wallet friendly things you can do to spruce up your home for sale.

• Declutter—remove personal items, pack up bookcases and store non essential pieces of furniture.
• Can’t afford to replace the carpets? Get them steam cleaned.
• Keep the lawn mowed.
• Replace dated light fixtures.
• The color yellow is said to be inviting. Plant yellow flowers, such as marigolds or daffodils, along the front walk or by the front door.
• Wash the exterior windows.
• Polish all hardwood or ceramic floors.
• Paint front door and replace old hardware.
• Power spray the house so it’s gleaming.
• Buy new cabinet handles, sink and bath faucets and doorknobs.
• Paint or replace the mailbox.
• Re-grout kitchen tiles.
• Re-paint rooms and trim.
• Replace any water stained shower doors or refinish a stained tub.

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