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

Question of the Day

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

Q: Can I deduct improvements made to my home?

A: Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Your gain is defined as your home's selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

The IRS defines improvements as those items that "add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses" such as putting in new plumbing or wiring or adding another bathroom.

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


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Word of the Day

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

Title report. A statement of the current condition of title for a parcel of land.

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


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Prepare the Home for 2011 Hurricane Season

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-Batten down the hatches-plus the windows, the doors and the roof. Hurricane Season 2011 starts on June 1, and based on expert predictions, it could be a whopper.

At Colorado State University, forecasters believe the number of named storms will reach 16, and they predict there's a 72 percent chance that the entire United States coastline will be affected by at least one major hurricane landfall in 2011. The Weather Research Center in Houston has forecast at least 10 named storms in 2011 with six of them projected to intensify into hurricanes. And, they're predicting that coastal areas in west Florida, Louisiana and Alabama have a 90 percent chance that they'll be in the line of a dangerous hurricane.

"Homeowners all along the East Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico should prepare for potentially severe weather this year," says Jill F. Hasling, president of the Weather Research Center. "Now is the time to evaluate your home's exterior and determine how well it is prepared to withstand hurricane-force winds, torrential rain and flying debris."

Hasling speaks from experience. In 2008, Hurricane Ike reached into the Houston area doing significant damage to structures near the Weather Research Center. "We had impact-resistant Simonton StormBreaker Plus windows installed on our facility more than five years ago and they made all the difference in keeping our building safe during that storm," says Hasling. "We strongly advise people to make it a priority during Hurricane Preparedness Week, which is May 22 to 28, to completely evaluate the four most vulnerable areas of the home-windows, entry doors, the roof and the garage door. If any of these are compromised, the wind and rain that enters the home can cause extensive damage."

According to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler, selecting the right door for a home is also a critical decision. "Hurricane-force weather conditions can be extreme for hundreds of miles inland, so it's important that homeowners seriously consider upgrading with impact-resistant building products," says Kraeutler, host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Money Pit. "The Tru-Defense Door System found on Therma-Tru fiberglass entry doors maximizes the seal between the door and the frame to help keep out the damaging effects of wind and rain. This system is engineered to work together and meets building codes across the country, including in severe weather zones. One of the great things about this type of energy-efficient door construction is that it can be requested on both entry doors and patio doors."

Therma-Tru offers impact-resistant decorative glass options for its fiberglass entry doors, plus a line of Opaque Impact Rated Doors that are recommended for areas with the most potential to experience severe weather conditions. The doors are designed with a steel plate inside to help withstand hurricane force winds and are Florida code and High Velocity High Winds approved for Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

A home's roof is another vulnerable area during high winds and driving rain. Roofs should be examined yearly to determine if there are missing shingles, curling or splitting shingles, lifting shingles or loss of granules. Both straight line winds and pressurized winds can cause different damage-from uplifting the shingles off the roof to pushing intense wind-driven rain and flying debris onto the roof.

"Once air pressure moves through a hole in a roof and into the home during a hurricane, it can literally blow out the walls and windows of the house," says Kraeutler. "It's vital for homeowners in potential hurricane areas to have well-installed, solid roofs overhead to protect their homes and prized possessions."

Backed by a limited 50-year warranty, the virtually maintenance-free polymer slate and shake roofing tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes have achieved Class 4 ratings for impact resistance along with the Miami Dade County Acceptance (High Velocity Hurricane Winds) and TDI, showing that the roofing tiles can withstand hurricane-force winds. In addition, DaVinci roofing tiles are rated Class A for fire retardance and have achieved the highest rating for straight line wind testing at 110 mph.

"Homeowners should make sure they have proper bracing, such as galvanized metal hurricane straps, to connect the roof to the walls of the home," says Kraeutler. "This can help prevent uplift during hurricane-force winds. For a second step, consider impact-resistant polymer roofing tiles that have been formulated and tested to withstand hurricane strength winds and severe impact. That's a winning combination for a roof."

Kraeutler stresses that homeowners should always follow direction of local authorities regarding evacuations and emergency procedures during severe weather. "More than likely in extreme weather situations, you'll have to evacuate," says Kraeutler. "But when you invest in impact-resistant building products that are always 'on guard' you can leave knowing that your family's home and cherished possessions are secure. That can bring incredible peace-of-mind during a highly stressful time."

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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Custom Home Builders Expect Changes to Come in Environmentally Friendly Home Building

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-While green has already become the epicenter for new products and services alike, Frankel Building Group-full service custom home builders in Houston-is literally tapping into the sheer foundation for the changes to come within the building market for the next five to ten years. Efficiency, functionality and technology are going to evolve exponentially. Soaring energy costs are going to create a shift in the way people live and the way people use and conserve energy. Solar power, decreasing square-footage, layout and design are going to progress and adapt with the changing times ahead.

"Houses have gotten so sophisticated and energy efficient. Features such as dual speed air conditioning units, high efficiency water heaters, and insulated attics are considered standard," states custom home builder Scott Frankel.

"Building standards and codes are getting more and more official and difficult. The number of people that just call themselves builders is going to be minimized," states Frankel. "Your builder isn't just a contractor with a pencil in his ear, he needs to be like your doctor or accountant; a professional. You are going to him for expertise so that you have a healthy, excellent home that is sustainable long term."

Frankel Building Group's mantra provides families with green, sustainable living that is abiding, durable and timeless. Frankel Building Group aids in cutting costs, nevertheless, helping families live healthier and easily maintainable lives.

For more information visit www.frankelbuildinggroup.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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'Food Shock' Report Details Dangers and Hidden Costs Related to Technology in Food Production

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-While the costs to feed our families continue to rise, the solutions being put forth by many so-called experts and government agencies could be placing our health in even greater jeopardy. It's been estimated that by 2050 there will be an additional three billion people on our planet, putting a greater strain on our food supply. To alleviate this burden there has been a push for science to play a greater role in food production, more specifically biotechnology and nanotechnology.

While technology has brought forth many advances in our world, its involvement in food production should not just be accepted with open arms. Advocates may boast of greater crop production and the development of insect and disease-resistant plants, but they have yet to address the effects this technology has had on the nutritional value of the fruits and vegetables being grown. Knowing that the big businesses who will benefit from the implementation of these technologies aren't about to tackle an issue that could cost them billions, OffTheGridNews.net has published their own special report, Food Shock: Why 2011 Could Be The Most Important Year Ever To Plant A Family Garden, which not only describes the threats presented by these "advancements" but also provides a real alternative to solving the food supply problem and the rising costs of fruits and vegetables.

Authored by noted survivalist Bill Heid along with television/radio personality Brian Brawdy, the "Food Shock" report-offered at no cost to those who sign up for the free weekly newsletter from OffTheGridNews.net-carefully details the events that have put us in such a perilous position in relation to our food supply and explains why popular solutions that are being floated about by "experts" simply won't solve the problem, and in fact could do more harm.

We have already seen this come to light as genetically modified fruits and vegetables-the product of science-fail to deliver the same nutritional value found in naturally grown fruits and vegetables. Of course what the "experts" have argued is that while naturally grown fruits and vegetables may be better, they simply aren't realistic.

This is the real value of the "Food Shock" report as it provides the reader with the understanding that they are capable of growing their own fruits and vegetables in a home garden, something that has been done since man began walking the earth. With a home garden a family not only has their own healthy fruits and vegetables growing right in their back yard, they are also saving a great deal of money.

For more information visit www.offthegridnews.net.

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 Plan a Beautiful Wedding Day without Breaking the Bank

May 11, 2011 1:29 pm

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-As the British royal wedding-with its pomp and pageantry-begins to fade into memory, we find the traditional wedding season upon us-and with it a flurry of plans and preparations to make our own wedding events look lavish without costing a fortune.

There are plenty of ways to cut corners, says wedding planner Bridget Eastman, without sacrificing quality. Tuxedo shops will often bid low for your business, and there are semi-professional musicians and photographers available at less-than-market price. Just be sure to check their samples and references before making a choice.

Additionally, if there's a wedding planned in your family, consider these tips before you write a single check:

The wedding dress-Every bride deserves a lovely and flattering dress. In a sense, it sets the tone for the wedding. But before you spend a fortune, consider getting online and buying one secondhand. In most cases, a wedding dress has been worn only once. With a little alteration and a professional dry cleaning, it may become the dress of your dreams at a fraction of its original price. Other options? Consider borrowing one, or having one made by a trusted professional seamstress.

Location-If the budget is slim, plan an afternoon or early evening wedding in a park, on a golf course, or in someone's backyard garden. Twinkle lights and tulle can transform the trees, and the tasteful placement of balloons and candles can be both festive and inexpensive.

Flowers-Shop around for a florist who will make your bouquets and corsages at a cut rate price when you buy other flowers from them. Borrow a book on flower arranging from the library. Plan to make your own boutonnieres and store them in the fridge a day before the wedding, and if you or a friend become proficient at all, consider making your table decorations.

Food and drink-If the cost of catering is too prohibitive, enlist the aid of family and friends to plan and prepare your wedding feast. Beautiful sandwiches and a selection of salads-or some quiches or casseroles and fruit-may be all you need before you cut the cake. And champagne punch instead of beer, wine or liquor, will look elegant and cost less.

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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Raising Happy Children; Tips for Creating a More Balanced Lifestyle

May 10, 2011 7:29 pm

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, May 10, 2011-There's been a lot of media attention on child rearing lately, in the wake of Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," which unapologetically promotes the strict regimentation of children.

Some educators and psychologists believe putting pressure on children prepares them for a competitive world. Others believe that pushing kids too hard robs them of honing their decision-making skills and the joy and freedom of childhood.

"The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle," says Jim Taylor, Ph.D, an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. "Accomplished, well-rounded children are mindful and respectful of their parents' expectations, but also in control of the daily activities that foster their own happiness."

Taylor suggests five areas in which parents can help their children develop happiness and balance in their lives:

Self-esteem Parental praise and support gives children confidence and a belief that they are worthwhile and competent. Confident children are more apt to achieve.

Positive attitude Children often take cues from parents who see the glass 'half full' or 'half empty.' A positive attitude is far more likely to result in achievement and happiness.

Passion Children should be encouraged to follow their innate passions, whether for sports, music, writing or other activities. Parents who expose kids to a variety of activities can help them find the pursuits that motivate them.

Relationships People who have strong relationships with others tend to be the happiest, research shows. Parents should encourage the need for friendship and opportunities to give and receive love.

Humanity Happy children find lasting happiness not from "things," but from experiences. A wise parent will encourage a day at the park or the theater over a day at the mall.

Giving Children should be encouraged to find personal fulfillment in helping others. Pursuing their passions will help them find inner happiness, but giving to others can provide deep satisfaction and happiness outside of themselves.

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

May 10, 2011 10:29 am

Title. Actual ownership; the right of possession; also the evidence of ownership such as a deed or bill of sale.

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


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Question of the Day

May 10, 2011 10:29 am

Q: Is it true some lenders grant loans based on very little documentation?

A: Not too long ago, they offered in abundance what are called "stated income loans," more commonly referred to as "no doc" or "low-doc" loans, mortgages that require no documentation or little documentation to verify the borrower's income and assets. In return, the borrower-who must have very good credit-makes a big down payment, generally 25 percent or more, and pays a higher interest rate.

Given current market conditions and the sub-prime debacle, these loans have become more difficult to find, cost more, and are mainly funded by hard money lenders who do not conform to bank standards.

The loans are common among self-employed borrowers who have difficulty substantiating all of their income and service industry employees, such as waiters and hair stylists, whose pay is hard to pinpoint exactly. Borrowers also may use no-doc loans when they derive most of their income from commissions or have very complicated income structures.

In reality, calling the loans "no-doc" and "low-doc" are misnomers. Some "low-doc" loans require plenty of documentation, such as tax returns and profit-and-loss statements. Even "no-doc" loans require a credit report and a property appraisal.

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


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Online Businesses Need to Bolster Defense against Cyber Crime

May 10, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 10, 2011-By the very definition, businesses with an online presence- including retailers, tourism, sports or financial services-rely on Internet connectivity to generate revenue. These organizations are the perfect targets for security attacks of all types including information theft, denial of service (DoS) attacks, application vulnerabilities, etc. Radware (NASDAQ: RDWR) a provider of integrated application delivery and network security solutions for business-smart networking, is recommending that all online businesses take a more offensive approach in the way they fight against these attacks by adopting a more complete solution that counters the attack at its real origin.

In addition to the broad spectrum of attacks that have developed in the past years, the motivation for these attacks has evolved from basic financial to vandalism and social activism ("Hacktivism") developing into a "power struggle" between the attacker and the object of the attack as these businesses try to fend off yet another attack. And yet, online businesses have not adjusted their network security solutions to these changes-with many still relying upon traditional defensive-only mitigation technologies. And, these security technologies based on signature detection or behavioral analysis have proven to be inadequate-at best they offer defensive-only business protection against perimeter attacks. Although effective in certain situations, i.e. mitigating the effects of an attack, they are unable to address the underlying cause itself. They are incapable of taking the reins and obtaining the advantage from the attackers.

Online businesses need to reassess the security solutions they have in place so as to best protect their businesses. And, to cite Carl von Clausewitz's adage "The best defense is a good offense," the mitigation of attacks should be done by slowing down or even completely shutting down the zombie computers that generated these attacks. This is the only way to reverse the power relationship that exists between attackers and defenders. This may even convince the attacker to stop targeting one business and attacking another which may be less secure.

Radware has created a list of tips that each online business should follow in order to instill a top-level offensive strategy in fighting cybercrime and protecting their networks.

Good Offense Tips:

1. Study normal usage patterns. Using behavioral analysis tools, profile and characterize the normal usage habits of the application as well as the behavior of users accessing online services.

2. Identify types of behavior: Create a methodology to detect deviations from normal activity of in different types of applications. This will help in clearly identifying abnormal behavior and thus identify users who appear to be acting suspiciously.

3. Analyze and mitigate the attack. Isolate the transactions of the suspicious user and block them at the network's perimeter

4. Analyze the attack tool. Analyze the use of the attack tool deployed and its weaknesses.

5. Create an offensive. Create a method that will exploit the attack tool's weakness identified previously to deactivate the tool wherever located, thus cleaning the "bad traffic" end-to-end beyond the perimeter borders.

6. Measure the effectiveness. Assess the tool used and the success rate. Make adjustments if deemed necessary.

For more information visit www.radware.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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