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

Keeping Families Healthy and Happy with Minimal Chaos

September 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Daily routines for many families are filled with commitments that lead to chaotic schedules. Calendars are jam-packed with carpools, sports practice and other activities, so keeping the family happy and healthy with balanced meals and fitness can become a challenging priority. 

Organization and meal planning is key, says Kathy Kaehler, Snapware® brand partner and creator of the Sunday Set-Up™ Club. "As a mom, nothing feels better than being organized; it makes my day manageable." Kaehler recommends the following tips to help keep family health and happiness top-of-mind while minimizing the daily chaos of being over-scheduled:
Get a Jump Start on Tomorrow. Pack school bags, including nutritious lunches the night before. 

Set Up a Snack Station. Stay ahead of the bell by setting out containers of after-school snacks on the kitchen counter, so that kids have easy access to healthy snacks as soon as they arrive home. Kaehler recommends filling containers with nutritious snack combinations like carrot sticks with hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter, frozen grapes or frozen banana chips dipped in dark chocolate. 

Stay Active. Schedule a family bike ride, walk, or a soccer game on the lawn. It's important to set an example for your kids when it comes to exercise, and having these activities as part of their daily schedule allows exercise to be a part of their weekly routine. 

Prepare Healthy Dinner Options. Make sure kids get the very best nutrition from family dinners by preparing lean meat meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. To save time and reduce cost, cook once but eat twice by preparing double the portions needed for dinner and refrigerating the leftovers in leak-proof storage containers. A balanced portion of leftovers can then be served on a subsequent day. 

A little organization can go a long way toward making afternoons and evenings less chaotic and more enjoyable for the whole family. For more information on where to find affordable, BPA-free storage solutions visit www.snapware.com. 

This and other food and lifestyle content can be found at www.editors.familyfeatures.com.

Tags:

Word of the Day

September 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Homeowner’s insurance policy. Packaged insurance policy for homeowners and tenants that cover property damage and public liability, such as fire, theft, and personal liability.

Tags:

Question of the Day

September 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Q: Is private mortgage insurance always required on low-down payment loans?
A:
Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most loans with less than a 20 percent down payment. They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default. They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. PMI guarantees the lender will not lose money if this happens and a foreclosure is necessary.
A growing number of private lenders, however, are loosening up their requirements for low-down payment loans. In fact, the Homeowners Protection Act states that PMI must be dropped on any loan originated after July 29, 1999. Borrowers can request that PMI be canceled when they pay down the principal balance on their mortgage loans to 80 percent of the purchase price. Lenders must automatically cancel PMI when the balance hits 78 percent.

Tags:

Question of the Day

September 16, 2011 8:03 pm

Q: Do builders provide financing?
A: Many builders offer financing incentives to help move more buyers into a project. In fact, major building companies often have their own mortgage brokerage subsidiaries, while many other builders routinely refer buyers to "preferred" local lenders. If it is a buyer's market in your area, you can be sure developers will offer incentives such as low-down-payment financing or interest rate subsidies.

Tags:

Little Things Mean a Lot - Before You Buy, Consider the Practical Fit

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

Short of deciding who you will marry, few decisions are more exciting than choosing your first home. Enough bedrooms? Check. Room for a pool? Check. Presumably, you have answered the large questions before submitting your bid. But before you get caught up in the buying process, here are some small practicalities to consider: 

How will your furniture fit? Get the measurements of every room in the home and measure your larger pieces of furniture; the sofa, the bed, the computer desk or entertainment center. Sketch out the new room dimensions on graph paper so you can see at a glance how and where your furnishings will fit. 

What about wiring? As we depend more and more on broadband, fiber optics and high speed access, check out what connections are already in place-especially if you are looking at an older home. Is it ready for digital cable, satellite, etc? If such services are not already connected, are they available to neighborhood residents? 

What's the noise level after dark? The neighborhood may seem quiet during the day, but is it near a freeway or an airport? Is there a fire station or a railroad crossing nearby? If quiet is important to you, you may want to visit at night or during rush hour and check out the noise factor as those planes, trains, and automobiles-and busy fire trucks-whiz on by. 

How far to the nearest cup of sugar? If your dream home is in a new development, or in a rural section of town, how far will you need to go for a quart of milk at midnight? Is the local store open late? Are new shopping centers planned-and when will they be completed? 

Do you know how HOA rules will affect you? If there is a homeowners association in place, will it approve your plans to put in a deck or spa? Read the binding homeowner documents and become familiar with rules and restrictions before you buy into the community.

Tags:

Want to Save Money This Winter? Preparation now is the Key

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

Last winter hit hard across much of the United States, blanketing the country with snow and sending temperatures plummeting. If early weather prognosticators are correct, this winter could see even colder temperatures thanks to resurging La Nina weather conditions. Colder than normal weather often means greater energy usage and higher utility bills.

MXenergy, a Constellation company, is encouraging homeowners to act now to help protect their homes and wallets when winter approaches.

"Just as in so many other areas in life, when it comes to energy savings preparation is the key," says Marjorie Kass, MXenergy managing director of marketing. "The time to make your home more efficient for winter and lower your energy costs is not when brutal temperatures are here but rather now in order to maximize savings."

Winter Efficiency Tips
Seal It Up:
Proper insulation is one of the most effective efficiency improvements homeowners can make. Check doors and windows for drafts and install weather-stripping where needed. Check to make sure your attic has adequate insulation and that the attic hatch is properly sealed. Don't forget to examine air ducts and electrical outlets for drafts and seal leaks.

Take Care of Your Furnace: A properly maintained furnace is a much more efficient one. Have your furnace serviced annually by a licensed professional. Change filters at least once a month and should your furnace need replacing make sure to look for a high efficiency Energy Star model.

Simple Steps: Cutting energy costs doesn't have to cost you money. Simple actions such as closing off empty rooms, closing your fireplace flue, and opening blinds in the morning to let in the sun and closing them at night can all help decrease costs. In order to prevent trapped ceiling heat, run ceiling fans during the day in a clockwise direction to properly disperse heat throughout the room. Consider landscaping on the northern and windward sides of your home for added protection.

Maximize Your Savings: Many parts of the country have restructured energy markets that enable consumers to shop for energy. If you have a choice in energy providers, now is a great time to research available rates and lock in savings for the coming winter.

"Locking in a low fixed rate now with a reputable energy provider ensures price stability and protects against potential price increases when cold temperatures do arrive," says Kass.

For more information, visit www.mxenergy.com.


Tags:

Lacking Space? Try These Smart Storage Tips

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

For renters or homeowners with limited space, packing all of your belongings to fit can be a daunting task. When space is limited, creativity is necessary to make sure you can comfortably and properly store your things in your house or apartment. If you think you're running out of room, try these smart storage tips:

The first step toward being creative is to think vertically. Ceiling-tall book cases are great ideas to store all sorts of knick-knacks, books, CDs and DVDs. Photo albums or framed photos can also be placed on it. There really is no limitation as to what can be stored. If space allows for it, get two or three bookcases, one for each room. By doing so you'll eliminate any sort of clutter and be well on your way toward organization.

Use underneath storage space. Always use the space below coffee tables, end tables or even your bed as possible locations for some of your things. Large plastic containers can be used to protect from dirt or dust. These are stackable and will help you keep your belongings organized and clean.

Always utilize the insides of doors. Cabinet or closet doors can be a great place to hang items. Shoe-holders can be placed on every door in the residence and you don't have to store only shoes in them. Utensils, toiletries and more can be stuffed into these door-hanging pockets, clearing up your drawers, floors and counter-spaces. (Another similar idea for bathrooms: store towels and linens in a small wine rack).

Never underestimate the value of a few good old-fashioned hooks. Place them on the walls to hang pots and pans, utensils, or any other hanging artifact in your home. Not only will you save some space, but these hanging items will also double as decoration in your dining or kitchen area.

Most importantly, items that double as storage should always be incorporated. The best items: ottomans, stools or chests that can store items inside while also being used as seating or a footrest. Keys, umbrellas, footwear, magazines and more can be stored in these types of spaces, further de-cluttering your home or apartment.

For those with cramped quarters, deciding where to put things makes all the difference. With a little planning and clever placement, you can store all of your belongings and make the most of the space you have. 

Source: Relocation.com Blog

Tags:

Word of the Day

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

Highest and best use. Use of land that is most logical and productive. Refers to the greatest income it can bring the owner, as well as factors such aesthetics and benefits to the surrounding community.

Tags:

Question of the Day

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

Q: What is Freddie Mac?

A: Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae's counterpart, also offers low or no-down-payment home loans through partnerships it forms with various state governments to expand homeownership opportunities across the country, particularly for those persons with low or moderate incomes.

Coming up with a down payment has traditionally been one of the biggest obstacles to buying a home. Freddie Mac also works with lenders through its Alt 97 program to make mortgages that require only a 3 percent down payment available to borrowers. The program is not restricted to low or moderate income buyers.

Tags:

5 Cheap Fixes to Improve Your Home Security

September 16, 2011 5:03 pm

In some residential areas, a monitored home security system may be more a necessity than a luxury. But such systems can be expensive, concedes security advisor Bill Wilson, whose career has spanned the gamut from increasing protection from unwanted entry into residences, retail businesses and commercial buildings.

“Professional alarm systems and closed circuit TV are the surest way to increase any building security,” Wilson says. “But there are quick fixes homeowners can choose to lessen the chances of home intrusion.”

Wilson offers five inexpensive ways to increase home security:

1. Improve the lighting – Turn on garden and porch lights every evening, and install extra lights on a timer near all entry points and walkways—enough light to make any would-be burglar feel exposed. When you are away, a timer on several interior lamps can mask the fact that the home is unoccupied.
2. Trim the trees – Tree limbs near the roof can be an invitation to an intruder. Keep trees and shrubbery well-trimmed all around the house.
3. Check the locks – A good deadbolt is better protection from unwanted entry than a simple door handle lock. Also, if your sliding glass doors do not have built-in locks, cut wood or metal rods to size and drop them in the tracks to prevent the doors from opening more than an inch.
4. Don’t tempt fate – Protect small valuables such as cash or jewelry by storing them in a home safe. Don’t display expensive electronics near the windows. When you unpack newly purchased equipment, don’t advertise it at the curb. Cut up the packing boxes and put them into a trash container or drop them at a recycling center.
5. Look for inexpensive alarm protection –Any tripped alarm will deter a would-be intruder. If you can’t afford a monitored system, look for an economical unmonitored system or check local papers and online ads for used alarm system components.

Tags:
TwitterFacebookGoogleLinkedinYoutubepinterest