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

Travelers Today Are More Stressed Than Ever Before

May 23, 2017 12:30 am

While traveling can be exciting and fun, it can also be stressful. You’re in an unfamiliar place, you don’t know your way around, and you may not even speak the language! And despite the increase in easy technology -- there’s an app for everything these days! -- many travelers are reporting more stress today than a year ago.                                        
A new survey put on by Wyndham Vacation Rentals® has identified the main factors that are freaking today’ s travellers out.i

Too many choices: Two in three (67 percent) vacationers have become stressed due to 'information overload' and are paralyzed with too many choices when researching and planning. Two in five (41 percent) get stressed about scheduling things to do during their trip.

Trouble leaving the daily grind behind: Once on vacation, it takes time to unwind and forget about the stress of work and personal responsibilities. Three in 10 (30 percent) U.S. travelers don't feel truly relaxed until the second day of vacation or later.

Relationship-testing moments: Two in three (67 percent) have argued with a travel companion as a result of stress caused by planning or taking a vacation. One in four (25 percent) have even broken up with a significant other while traveling. The good news? One in four (26 percent) have also met the love of their life on vacation.

Source: About Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Keep the Family Safe All Summer

May 23, 2017 12:30 am

Summer is a season of fun. But in between all that outdoor playtime, it’s important to pay mind to safety. Injury Prevention Specialist Jennifer Hoekstra shares the following tips for families kicking off the summer season:

Stay out of cold water.  Favorite swimming spots can still be cold in early summer months. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day in many inland lakes.  Resist the urge to swim until water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.

Watch out for heat stroke. Know how to identify heat stroke.  Limit your exposure to high temperatures and take breaks by going indoors to rest in air conditioning.  Try finding a shady spot and be sure children have adequate rest and hydration after play.

Drink water, not a diet cola. You cannot stay properly hydrated on Diet Coke or alcoholic beverages.  Drink lots of water if you are going to be in the heat.  If you experience dizziness or light-headedness, find a cool shady spot, sit down, and drink more water.  

Know your prescriptions. Many prescription drugs can trigger increased sensitivity to sunburn. Read labels carefully on any medication you are taking before going out in the sun.

Wait before you take a bite out of that peach! Take the time to wash any fruits or vegetables purchased at local farmers markets.  It is likely these items have not been washed and may have dirt or bacteria lingering.

Don't leave kids alone in the car. This warning is simple and very serious.  Do not leave your children unattended in your vehicle for any period of time. Within 10 minutes the temperature inside a vehicle rises by 20 degrees and by 40 degrees in an hour. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911.

Be a water watcher.  Whether your children are in a backyard swimming pool, at a community center or swimming in a lake, always watch them. Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning among children 4 and under.

Pick out the right shades. Bring along a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Most brands come with labels stating if they are effective against the sun's harmful rays.  Grab your kids a colorful and fun pair too.

Always assume the fire is hot. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a fire pit for 24 hours after use. Coals don't have to be glowing red to be hot and dangerous.

Don't walk distracted. When walking to friends' houses or the neighborhood pool, teach kids to put down their cell phones and not take photos while walking or crossing the street.  Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing and use designated crosswalks.

Source: http://www.spectrum-health.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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It’s Electric! How to Keep Yourself Safe During Home Improvement

May 20, 2017 12:30 am

Electricity is coursing around us every day. From the power lines overhead, to the cables connected to our favorite devices, we live in an electric world. Considering how often we come into contact with electricity, it makes sense that safety should be top of mind -- especially if you’re embarking on a home improvement project.

Since 2014, Dominion Energy has received nearly 100 reports of homeowners, private contractors and individuals accidentally coming into contact with electrical lines at a home or business. Every incident was preventable with proper knowledge about the risk of electric shock.

"Each year, we receive dozens of reports of home improvement contractors accidentally putting a ladder into a power line while they are replacing siding or a homeowner coming into contact with a power line while power washing or painting their home's exterior," says Rob Locke, director of safety and training at Dominion Energy. "What we find in these cases is that these types of accidents are absolutely preventable and we want to ensure that our customers know how to stay safe around electrical equipment."

Below are some tips from Dominion to insure proper electrical safety.

- Look up, down, and all around for power lines before using a ladder; they may be hidden behind tree branches.

- Keep all ladders and tools in the safe zone—at least 10 feet from power lines. Make sure that if your ladder or tool were to fall, it would not contact a power line or electrical equipment.

- Remember that tree branches near power lines can conduct electricity, especially when wet. Never lean against a tree or tree branch that is near or in contact with a power line.

- Don't count on a wooden ladder to protect you—wood can still conduct electricity, especially if it's wet.

- When you're on a ladder, your balance and control are limited. Be careful if you are handling or working near pipes, conduits, gutters, antennas or other long objects.

Source: https://dominionenergy.com/safety/electric-safety.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Your Decor Secret Weapon: Books

May 20, 2017 12:30 am

Does your home need a design refresh? Look no further than your books!

According to the book decor experts at BoothandWilliams.com, using books is a fun, easy and creative way to personalize your home. Whether vintage or contemporary, big or small, books can help you create a theme, add a pop of color or make a bold statement. Here’s how:

1. Add a studious touch to your nursery (and encourage early readers while you’re at it) by grouping classic books from your childhood - think Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter.

2. Get creative with glass and lucite-topped tables by grouping books both on top of and below the table. Not only does this tactic add visual interest, but serves as a great space-saver as well.

3. Add some fashion-sense in the right spots by gathering a few biographies on designers, beauty books or photo books on famous fashions on your night stand or in the powder room.

4. Have a sunny kitchen-table nook, covered porch or sun room? That’s the perfect spot for a collection of gardening books or art books showcasing botanical prints, Monet’s gardens, or Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

5. Add a touch of masculinity to an office or man cave with books on classic male themes, such as sports, history or automobiles.

6. Make books part of the furniture by stacking them high next to your sofa or on top of a trunk or other prized possession. This allows them to not only become an attractive focal point, but a unique end table that you can top with a small lamp or frame.

7. Coffee table books are not just for looks - they can also serve as great conversation starters. Assemble books that are not only great to look at but that reflect your interests and passions, such as travel, music or history.  

Source: BoothandWilliams.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Travel-Bound College Graduates

May 20, 2017 12:30 am

Traveling after college graduation is a common choice. Whether they have yet to land a full time job, are unsure of where to settle, or just want to see the world, new graduates are often donning backpacks and snapping up plane tickets. If you or a loved one plans to hit the road after graduation, take the following tips into mind.

Tips for grads traveling

- Create an itinerary to maximize your travel experience.
- Traveling can be expensive, so make sure to build out your budget before the trip.
- When choosing a destination, try and think of where your money will go the furthest. For example, heading to Southeast Asia may yield more adventures than the amount you will spend on tourist attractions in a large European city.
- Plan ahead. Do you need visas, an updated passport, medical shots?
- Someone should always know where you are when you are traveling. If traveling in a foreign country, register for free with the state department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and identify a contact for the US Embassy and those at home to easily get in touch with you.
- If you are travelling anywhere that uses a foreign language, try to pick up some essential phrases.  
- If you are able to stay in just one or two places throughout your travel, you may be able to take advantage of long-term rental prices.
- Take advantage of the new culture around you—try a salsa class, learn to scuba dive, eat blowfish.
- Travel with purpose. Get a head start on your professional career and look for volunteer or internship opportunities abroad.

Source: Hotwire.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Gardening Fun Again

May 19, 2017 1:42 pm

Remember when you first ventured out into your yard to turn your landscape into the oasis you’d always imagined? Chances are your newbie enthusiasm may have become tarnished over the years as gardening has gone from therapeutic to back-breaking. Here are some tips for easing the strain of yard work, hopefully renewing your love of Mother Nature in the process.
 
  1. Stay ahead of weeds. If only you could get your flowers to grow as quickly as those pesky weeds. Help tackle the weeding challenge by staying on top of it. Rather than waiting for weeds to become widespread and overwhelming, pull them when they’re small. Also, whenever possible, make sure to do your weeding after a rainstorm. Weeds come up from wet earth more easily than arid dirt.
  2. Dedicate yourself to deadheading. Your flowering plants will last longer and produce blooms for weeks, if not months, if you make deadheading old blooms a regular process. This will save you the chore and expense of having to dig up and replace dead annuals.
  3. Containers are your best friend. Container planting can be easier than planting in garden beds. This tactic also allows you to put flora and fauna exactly where you want it, with the option to move it when the mood strikes. Remember that container plantings dry out more quickly, so be sure to keep the water flowing.
  4. Plant more perennials. While it may take a few years for perennials to spread and offer up abundant blooms, it'll be worth the wait. More perennials mean less time, money and effort spent on planting annuals every year.
  5. Cheat a little. Instead of trying to get grass or plants to grow in areas where they just won’t take, use a decorative covering to fill in bald spots instead. Mulch, gravel, larger rocks or sea shells will all do the trick. You can even strategically arrange a bench or bird bath in these areas for instant décor value. 
Remember, gardening is intended to bring joy, not stress, so start taking the necessary steps today.
 
For more real estate tips, contact me today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Vinyl Siding: Know Your Options

May 19, 2017 1:42 pm

One of the most popular choices for your home’s exterior, vinyl siding has made considerable advancements—both in design and technology—since it first debuted in the 1970s. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the $12,000 national median cost of a vinyl siding replacement job returns a solid 83 percent on investment, should you decide to sell your home. Here’s a primer from vinyl siding experts Ply Gem on what makes siding a great choice for your home:
  • Design options: Today’s vinyl comes in a wide range of colors—from pastels to rich hues—profiles, architectural trim and accessory products to assist architects, builders and homeowners in customizing home designs.
  • Improved durability: One of the most attractive qualities of vinyl siding is its durability over other exterior home options. Homeowners should look for a siding option that's resistant to every element, including rain, wind and sun. Quality siding should be able to resist the harshest of weather conditions, maintaining its strength and color for the lifetime of the home.
  • Energy savings: Research shows insulated vinyl siding contributes to savings in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Look for siding made with premium recycled content.
  • Savings over time: Vinyl siding is a long-term investment. Because vinyl siding can be installed faster and requires little maintenance without the need to paint, stain or caulk, over the lifetime of the product, it's less costly when compared to other siding options, including fiber cement, brick and wood. 
Source: Ply Gem
 
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Mom Wants: A Home for Grown Kids

May 19, 2017 1:42 pm

As housing costs rise and student loan debt grows, mothers are becoming increasingly concerned about their children’s ability to afford a home. According to a recent survey of 1,000 mothers by The NHP Foundation, a not-for-profit provider of affordable housing, many are concerned about the ability of their adult children to live on their own. Nearly a third (29.86 percent) of the moms surveyed are anxious about their grown children needing to stay with them for an extended period of time.
 
These concerns are no surprise, considering that 53 percent of the moms surveyed make family financial decisions either alone or with “some input” from a partner. These moms often act as CFO of the family, taking a more active role than ever in the household’s finances and investments.
 
Many women are also living with extended family. In fact, 17 percent of those with a partner and children also report parents or other relatives living with them, emblematic of the modern “sandwich generation.”
 
Here are some other interesting findings from the report:
  • Nearly 63 percent of moms say their adult children are not fully prepared to live on their own.
  • Only 30 percent of moms say that their adult children who live with them are actively looking for other places to live, and less than half (41 percent) say their kids pay rent. One positive note: 67 percent of adult children help around the house, and 65 percent of them are employed.
  • Mothers are very aware that their grown children don’t have it easy. Ninety percent are concerned about rising housing costs, with 43 percent saying they are “very concerned” on their kids’ behalf. Nearly 40 percent of moms worry at least once a day about their adult children’s ability to afford desirable housing.
  • Once kids do move out, only one-third of moms would co-sign a loan for their children, and even fewer (24 percent) would help subsidize rent or a mortgage. Nearly 36 percent say they aren’t prepared to help their adult children financially in any way. 
To combat these and other rising concerns about housing affordability, The NHP Foundation is looking to the government to continue programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and to new private and public partnerships designed to increase its stock of quality affordable housing. The NHP Foundation has also been selected by the University of Virginia School of Public Policy as part of a study seeking new models to help ensure that this and future generations are able to afford desirable places to live.
 
Source: www.nhpfoundation.org
 
Interested in real estate tips? Contact me today for more information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tax Refund? Spend It at Home

May 19, 2017 1:42 pm

According to a recent study from Edward Jones, only 6 percent of Americans are planning to invest their 2016 tax refunds this year. The study, which surveyed 1,004 respondents across various age groups, regions and income levels, found that the majority of Americans (53 percent) plan to put their tax refund toward necessary expenses, such as student loans and credit card payments.

Thirty-one percent of respondents plan to save their refund, and 9 percent plan to put it toward something fun, like a vacation or entertainment. For homeowners, however, investing your tax refund to improve your home—and increase its value in the process—can be the smartest move of all. Quicken Loans suggests looking at these key areas of your home, which often translate directly to the bottom line:

The kitchen. New appliances or countertops are a great way to invest your refund dollars. Also consider giving your kitchen a less-expensive facelift by painting the cabinets.

The bathroom. Bathrooms are high on the list of priorities for homebuyers, so use your refund to make sure yours is up to par. Consider adding new faucets, a low-flow toilet or a new sink counter.

The walls. One of the most important—and most affordable—home improvements is a fresh coat of paint. A sunny shade or calming neutral will instantly change the look and feel of any room.

The windows. An important investment for not only the look of your home, but its energy efficiency as well, new windows are always a smart investment.

The exterior. Whether it’s building a patio, repairing the roof, or installing new siding, improving your home's exterior is never a bad idea.  

Putting your tax refund into your No. 1 asset will not only improve your home’s value, it'll also go a long way toward enhancing your living environment. In the end, any way you slice it, it’s an investment for years to come.

Contact me today for more tips on improving your home's value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime

May 19, 2017 1:42 pm

You know the feeling. You look around your home and are struck with a case of the blahs. The immediate thought is to set out on a shopping spree for new rugs, new lamps, new linens or whatever it takes to revamp your space. Unfortunately, your wallet may say otherwise. But don’t despair. With a little creative thinking, you can update the look and feel of your home without spending any money at all. Here’s how:
 
The old switcheroo. Believe it or not, switching furniture from one room to another can completely change the look of a room. Try swapping out a living room end table with your bedroom nightstand. Or move that stately floor lamp from your den into your dining room. With just a little muscle, you will instantly arrive at a brand-new look.
 
Find buried treasure in your linen closet. If you’re like most homeowners, it’s more than likely been a while since you’ve cleaned out your linen closet. And I bet you won’t believe what you’ll find in there. Curtains, tablecloths, throws and bedding that was tucked away years ago and forgotten about can be reintroduced to various spots in your home for a brand-new look.
 
Enlist old paint. Remember all those half-full cans of paint leftover from various projects over the years? Put them to use to change the look of a room by painting one wall, a piece of accent furniture or even cabinet doors. You saved them because you thought they’d come in handy someday. Well, today’s that day.
 
Get digging. Want to switch up the flow of your yard? Look around and see what plants, shrubs and small trees can be relocated to a brand-new spot. Be sure to do some research online ahead of time in order to determine the correct way to transplant certain items to ensure your green friends survive the move. You can do this even more easily by repositioning container plants and patio furniture.
 
Embrace the online community. Before you spend money on new furniture and décor items, check out some of the increasingly popular websites for scoring free stuff. The Freecycle Network, for example, is made up of 9 million members worldwide. The nonprofit describes itself as a grassroots movement, comprised of local volunteers who moderate activity to keep dealings on the up-and-up. Membership is free to boot.
 
With the right mindset and a little creative thinking, your home will be on its way to a brand-spanking-new look.
 
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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