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

Gardening and Spring Activities Should Include Learning about Invasive Pests That can Devastate America's Trees

April 30, 2011 10:23 am

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2011-Now that spring has arrived, and summer is quickly approaching, The Nature Conservancy-along with nursery industry partners and scientists-encourages people to take the time to learn more about tree-killing invasive insects and diseases as they spend more time outdoors. Everyday citizens can help detect forest pests and prevent their spread if they remain observant of the trees and forests around their homes and nearby natural areas while gardening, hiking and performing other outdoor activities.

Results from a recent poll conducted by The Nature Conservancy indicate that 95 percent of the public consider trees to be an important part of the character and quality of life where they live, and that 93 percent are concerned about the insects and diseases that kill trees. The poll results also showed that 77 percent of the respondents live within 10 miles of a wooded area, underscoring the vital role the public can play in detecting the presence of tree-killing pests.

"More often than not, the presence of an invasive insect or disease that has spread to a new area of the country has been detected by a concerned member of the public," says Faith Campbell, senior policy representative in the Conservancy's Forest Health Program. "If we can better educate people about these non-native pests, the chances of controlling them will dramatically increase."

Imported trees and shrubs-as well as untreated crates and pallets-can have harmful hitchhikers, such as beetles buried in wood or tiny mites on the leaves of a flowering plant. These pests can kill trees in neighborhoods and parks, choke farmland, and devastate forests. Remarkably, new non-native plant pest introductions are detected at a rate of one every twelve days, adding to the burden of the more than 450 damaging tree pests already established in the United States.

"There are many tree species in the forest now that are suffering from attack by pests, including the beech, which produces nuts that feed bears, turkey and many other types of wildlife; and the hemlock, which creates majestic, cathedral-like, old growth forests that many people cherish," comments Gary Lovett, senior scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "The loss of these tree species creates ripple effects that ramify through ecosystems and affect our own lives."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering revising its regulations governing international plant trade. This revision would create a new category called NAPPRA (Not Authorized for Importation Pending Pest Risk Assessment), which is designed to increase the effectiveness of the USDA's plant pest prevention efforts, providing a way to stop pests well before they might arrive at a U.S. port of entry.

The Nature Conservancy encourages members of the public to become familiar with the insects and diseases that are threats in their region by using the many online resources available, such as www.invasivepests.org or www.forestryimages.org. Following are some of the invasive insects and diseases that are currently threatening trees and other plants that live in forests and other ecosystems across the country. These pests can be contained or mitigated if new outbreaks are detected sufficiently early.

The Nature Conservancy encourages members of the public who notice an insect or tree disease they don't recognize to take a photo or obtain a specimen of it, and compare it to website photos of the suspected pest. Or, they can take the photo or specimen to a county agriculture extension office, local nursery, or state agricultural office to obtain help with its identification. If they believe they have found a new outbreak of an invasive pest or pathogen, they should contact their state department of agriculture to find out where to send a sample of it and how it should be packaged to ensure nothing could potentially escape during shipment. For a listing of all the USDA-APHIS state plant health director offices, visit www.aphis.usda.gov and click on "Report a Pest or Disease" on the far right menu.

For more information visit www.nature.org or www.plantsmart.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Question of the Day

April 29, 2011 4:23 pm

Q: What about a vacation home as an investment?

A: Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy.

Other things to consider:

- Will you be able to afford repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities?

- What about fees to pay agents who rent the property for you?

- If you live several miles away from your vacation home, who will clean up between tenants and take an inventory of household items once the tenants leave?

- What if you are unable to rent your second home? Can your pocketbook withstand the strain of paying the mortgage?

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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More Consumers Say Privacy Is Biggest Concern when Using Mobile Applications on Smartphones

April 29, 2011 4:23 pm

RISMEDIA, April 29, 2011-Recently, at both APPNATION and the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit, TRUSTe, an online privacy solutions provider, announced the results of a survey of 1000 smartphone users nationwide on issues relating to privacy and usage of mobile applications and mobile web sites. The Q1 2011 online poll-conducted by Harris Interactive-included responses that reveal attitudes and perceptions about mobile privacy, primary areas of concern and current safeguards being implemented.

Nearly all respondents agreed that privacy is an important issue when using a mobile device and that they want more transparency and control over what personal information is collected and how it is shared. In addition, smartphone users want more choices about advertising and geo-location tracking. Thirty-eight percent say privacy is the number one concern when using mobile applications, followed by security (26 percent); identity tracking (19 percent); and sharing information with or without permission (14 percent).

"This survey makes it crystal clear that privacy concerns are a huge stumbling block to consumer usage of applications and websites on smartphones," says Fran Maier, president and executive chair, TRUSTe. "As growth of the mobile market continues to surge, the industry needs a dedicated approach to educate consumers about how their data is being used and lets them make choices whether or not to engage. Overcoming consumer hesitancy and addressing increased lawmaker and regulator concerns require privacy practices that include notice and choice. TRUSTe is committed to extending those capabilities to the mobile platform."

Tracking and Behavioral Targeting are Hot Buttons

The survey shows that behavioral advertising is one of the top consumer issues relating to mobile marketing, with a majority being apprehensive about advertising tracking and wanting the choice not to participate. Specifically:

An educated 68 percent of respondents indicate being aware of advertisers tracking mobile activity and delivering personalized content as a result

A significant 85 percent want the choice to opt in or opt out of targeted mobile advertisements

Seventy-five percent of smartphone users say they do not like advertiser tracking

While location tracking remains a concern, the survey reveals that some smartphone users do permit access to their whereabouts

Only 36 percent feel they have a choice regarding the collection and use of their location information

Less than one-third of those surveyed say their smartphone alerts them when location information is being collected. (Note: this is significantly more common for iPhone users.)

Survey Shows Consumers Crave More Control before Fully Trusting Mobile Opportunities

A whopping 98 percent of consumers say having easy access to controls over their personal information in a mobile application is important

Only 38 percent feel confident that mobile applications will protect their privacy

Just 25 percent believe their application store only makes available applications that safeguard their privacy

While 90 percent say they have downloaded at least one application for their phone, 85 percent restrict at least some type of information sharing on mobile applications

Forty percent of those surveyed do not use mobile applications or mobile websites that ask for or use their personal information, with 38 percent saying they don't access their online accounts via mobile devices at all.

TRUSTe's independent analysis of the top 340 free mobile applications shows that only 19 percent have a link to a privacy policy, which demonstrates how much work mobile application providers have ahead. In the Harris survey, 51 percent of consumers confirmed that they do look for a privacy policy on mobile applications, with just over one-half indicating having read one.

"Given the highly personal nature of the mobile phone, privacy remains a top priority for the MMA as we carry out efforts to provide standards and guidelines for marketers," says Michael Becker, managing director of North America for the Mobile Marketing Association. "The MMA is encouraged by the investment in privacy research, privacy management solutions and standards that many of its members are making. It is the continued implementation of these types of programs that keep consumer best interest in mind for the responsible and sustainable growth of the industry."

For more information visit http://www.truste.com/mobile.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

Subletting. The leasing of premises by a lessee to a third party for part of the lessee's remaining term.

Copyright 2010 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Question of the Day

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

Q: What about repairs made to get the home ready for sale?

A: If you realize a taxable gain after you sell your home, even with an exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs. These selling costs may include items that are otherwise considered to be repairs such as painting, wallpapering, even planting flowers if you complete them within 90 days of your home sale and provided they were completed to make the home more saleable.

Copyright 2010 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Unused and Expired Prescription Drugs Pose Safety Threats

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

RISMEDIA, April 28, 2011-In a nationwide effort to clear homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, Independence Blue Cross is supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day taking place on Saturday, April 30.

"At IBC, we focus on enhancing the health and wellness of the Philadelphia region, and so we are proud to be an advocate for responsible use and disposal of all prescription medicines once they are no longer in use," says Dr. Richard Snyder, IBC's chief medical officer. "National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day helps raise awareness of the serious dangers of improper drug use and disposal, and it also benefits the safety of our environment, which will have positive effects on the health of our community as a whole."

According to a national survey on Drug Use and Health, more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that each day, approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet. In addition, research indicates that usual methods of disposing unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-pose potential safety and health hazards.

This year on April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the DEA will offer hundreds of locations available for the public to dispose unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous; no questions asked. For more information and to find the collection site nearest you, visit www.dea.gov, click on "Got Drugs?" and enter your zip code.

During its inaugural National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in September 2010, the DEA collected more than 121 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 collection sites across the country. This year's collection numbers are expected to exceed the 2010 figures.

"Many do not know that prescription drug abuse is an epidemic. Unused prescription medicines that remain in homes can be misused or abused if they get in the wrong hands of children, family or friends," says Allan Korn, M.D., BCBSA senior vice president and chief medical officer. "BCBSA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide are leading efforts to increase patient safety and make it a healthcare priority and we commend the DEA's efforts of providing a safe and easy way for Americans to drop off their unnecessary prescription drugs."

For more information visit www.ibx.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Spruce up Your Home This Spring

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

RISMEDIA, April 28, 2011-Now that Spring is here, wood care manufacturer Ronseal is urging people to spruce up their homes and do those jobs they've been putting off all winter.

1. Get rid of those unsightly holes. General wear and tear and unfinished DIY tasks mean houses are full of holes and cracks. Apply a filler to resolve the problem. Easy to use, these products will help even the most novice DIYer achieve smooth, professional results-whether it's a hairline crack or a gaping hole!

2. Knock wood knots on the head. Unsealed knotty wood such as pine can cause paintwork to discolor quickly if a good exterior wood paint hasn't been used. To keep your wood looking good for longer apply primer and undercoat to bare or previously painted wood, to prevent knots from showing through.

3. Finish floors with finesse. A beautifully painted floor can be a real focal point in the home. Make sure all of that hard work lasts by choosing a highly durable, slip resistant paint.

4. Hide those horrible damp water marks. Apply an anti-damp paint directly to damp walls and ceilings. Many of these paints dry in just one to two hours, leave a smooth white finish with just one coat and are ideal for interior surfaces including plaster, cement and stone.

5. Don't neglect window frames, doors and skirting boards. Varnish is the easiest way to achieve beautiful interior wood.

For more information visit www.ronseal.co.uk.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Get a Head Start on Next Winter with a New Roofing System

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

By John Voket, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 28, 2011-It wasn't very long ago that your RIS Consumer Confidant was peering out across several feet of snow, which also weighed heavily on many neighbors' roofs. And while it is too late for the winter of 2011, there's no harm in preparing early for next winter with some ideas about rooftop snow melting systems.

First, a little orientation: there are four main types of roof snow melting system that an individual can choose from, according to our contacts at WarmQuest in Salt Lake City (Warmquest.com):

Gutter melting: Heated cables can be placed in the gutters of a roof. This is primarily meant to keep gutters clear of possible build-ups of ice.

Heat roof edges: The heated cables here are installed strategically on the edge of the roof to prevent icicles from forming.

Heated roof: This is pretty self-explanatory. The entire roof is heated to melt snow either as it comes down, or in stages while it is still too cold to melt the snowfall as one.

Heated problem areas: A roof is assessed for weaknesses and heating elements are fitted where needed. Every roof has different weaknesses and must be evaluated on an individual basis.

The main goal of having a roof ice melting system is to prevent the buildup of ice dams and large icicles around eaves, drains, and valleys. Companies like WarmQuest offer low voltage systems that can be installed under asphalt, shake or tile shingles, have a low level of visibility and can be stapled or nailed down, as long as it is on a non-conductive surface.

Do you have metal roofing? No problem-the company's Tuff Cable can be installed in a Heatizon Heatsink Kit, or Invizimelt Aluminum Panel for deicing under metal roofing.

WarmQuest claims the systems are easy to install, and guarantee the electrical equipment is ETL listed and conforms to UL Standards.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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How to Get Your Security Deposit Back

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

By Stephanie Rabiner

RISMEDIA, April 28, 2011-Security deposits are part of rental life, but that doesn't mean that they aren't the bane of every renter's existence.

It's rare that a tenant doesn't have security deposit landlord issues, with delays and too many deductions.

If you're currently having (or want to prepare for) security deposit problems, this is what you need to know about landlord disputes over security deposits.

Every state has a specific deadline for how long a landlord may hold a tenant's security deposit after he has moved out. Within that time limit-normally 14 to 60 days-the landlord must mail the security deposit, plus any applicable interest and an itemized list of all deductions made for cleaning, repairs and unpaid rent.

If you're having security deposit landlord issues, chances are that your landlord has either deducted more than normal wear and tear, has wrongfully deducted past due rent, or just hasn't sent the money at all.

The first step in recovering your security deposit is to simultaneously send a letter -be sure to keep a copy-and make a phone call to your ex-landlord requesting your security deposit. Give him a few days to respond.

If the polite route is ineffective, you have the right to take your ex-landlord to small claims court.

Small claims courts typically have a maximum recoverable limit of $7,500 and don't permit parties to be represented by attorneys. Small claims judges are generally understanding, and as long as you bring evidence of your claims, you should be able to effectively present your case.

Should you win in small claims court, your ex-landlord must pay your security deposit and any court fees. If he fails to do so, you can always file papers to have the sheriff collect the judgment for you.

For more information visit www.findlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

April 29, 2011 7:23 am

Survey. An exact measurement of the size and boundaries of a piece of land taken by civil engineers or surveyors.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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