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

The Best Plants for Fall

September 6, 2016 12:51 am


Spring may be known as a prime time for planting, but fall is equally optimal.

“Autumn is the perfect time to assess landscaping needs and fill any gaps that exist in your landscape,” says Natalia Hamill, a horticulturist at Bailey Nurseries. “While you're at it, you can add plants that provide a pop of color—like a throw pillow for your garden.”

Hamill says a variety of plants, including shrubs and trees, can be planted during fall, and many will bloom come springtime.

It is important to determine where and what your landscape is lacking, Hamill says. Consider, too, the climate in your area—different plants react in varied ways to temperature swings. Hamill recommends consulting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map and adjusting your plan of action, if necessary.

The best plants for fall, according to Hamill, are:

Birchleaf Spirea – The Pink Sparkler variety shows exquisite pink blooms in early summer and fall—though fall flowers re-emerge further down the stem for a full appearance.

Dogwood – The Cayenne variety produces blue berries in late summer, along with lush green leaves, followed by rave red stems through fall and winter.

Hydrangea – The BloomStruck variety turns deep red in fall, complementing the seasonal change of the trees.

Maple – The Scarlet Jewell variety shows crimson red leaves in early fall, before those of other red maples, and rave red flowers in spring.

Ninebark – The Amber Jubilee variety shows golden orange and yellow hues, ideal for fall, followed by delicate white blooms come spring.

Source: Bailey Nurseries
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Design Leans Toward Balance, Color

September 6, 2016 12:51 am


As borders continue to blur between home and work, there is a strong desire to bring nature—and, therefore, balance—into our homes.

Milou Ket, a Dutch designer and international trend analyst, expects interior design to shift with that in mind, forecasting more homes filled with natural elements including greenery, hanging plants and herbs.

To incorporate nature-inspired decor and lend balance to your home, Ket recommends introducing aged or worn furnishings, along with personal treasures. Warm textures are also ideal—fur, cork, hides, paper, shearling or wood. Top color choices include beige, gray, off-white and yellow, with accents of copper, gold and walnut.

Another trend to watch, Ket says, is “handicraft” accents, influenced by designs common to North Africa, the Middle East and other regions. Mix in handcrafted pieces, such as baskets and vegetable-dyed products, in shades like amber, brick, mustard and indigo.

Feelings of softness and warmth are also coveted at home, and current design trends are evocative of both, Ket adds. Place fine linens in a bedroom, for instance, or tactile materials, such as handmade crochet or knits, in the living room. Top color choices include blue, lavender, mint, rose and turquoise.

Color is as important as ever, as well, Ket says. Vibrant colors were everywhere a few seasons ago, but now, brightness in doses is best. Add a splash of color, such as cobalt blue, with pillows or on a single chair or sofa.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Sellers Score in Sought-After School Districts

September 6, 2016 12:51 am


Homeowners in sought-after school districts move to the head of the class when they list their homes for sale, garnering higher offers than sellers in less desirable districts, according to a recently released study by realtor.com®.

“It’s common knowledge that buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a home in a strong school district,” says Javier Vivas, manager of Economic Research for realtor.com®. “Our analysis quantifies just how good it is to be a seller in these areas.”

The study reveals that homes within the boundaries of a strong district are 77 percent more expensive than those within a lesser district and 49 percent more expensive than the national median—$400,000 compared to $225,000 and $269,000, respectively. Homes within the boundaries of a strong district also sell eight days faster than those within a lesser district.

“On average, homes in top-rated districts attract a price premium of almost 50 percent and sell more than a week faster than those located in neighboring lower-ranked school districts,” Vivas says.

The top 10 districts commanding the highest premiums, according to the study, are:

1. Beverly Hills Unified (Los Angeles, Calif.)
2. Highland Park Independent (Dallas, Texas)
3. Kenilworth No. 38 (Kenilworth, Ill.)
4. Indian Hill Exempted Village (Hamilton, Ohio)
5. Winnetka 36 (Winnetka, Ill.)
6. Manhattan Beach Unified (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7. Scarsdale Union Free (Westchester, N.Y.)
8. Saddle River (Bergen, N.J.)
9. San Marino Unified (Los Angeles, Calif.)
10. Mariemont City (Hamilton, Ohio)

The top 10 in-demand districts, or those earning the most listing views on realtor.com®, are:

1. Rocky River City (Cuyahoga, Ohio)
2. Clear Creek Independent (Harris, Texas)
3. School Town of Munster (Lake, Ind.)
4. Orange (New Haven, Conn.)
5. Etiwanda Elementary (San Bernardino, Calif.)
6. Longmeadow (Hampden, Mass.)
7. Strongsville City (Cuyahoga, Ohio)
8. Plymouth-Canton Community (Wayne, Mich.)
9. Regional School District 05 (New Haven, Conn.)
10. Trumbull (Fairfield, Conn.)

“While highly-ranked school districts in these markets have pushed home prices higher than their surrounding areas, the majority of these high-demand markets are relatively affordable when compared to the national median, which is a big factor contributing to their popularity,” Vivas adds.

Source: realtor.com®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Stress Less…on a Spur-of-the-Moment Trip?

September 2, 2016 12:51 am


Preparing to vacation can be stressful—determining what to bring, delegating tasks while you’re away…it can make you forget why you were getting away in the first place!

A recently released report reveals the least stressful trips are the ones we don’t plan for—those last-minute excursions that leave us little time to prepare. The report, by Booking.com, states spontaneous trips “boost happiness” and “reduce stress,” and can even make us “more productive at work.”

Most spontaneous trips, according to the report, occur at the end of summer, while some occur when severe weather threatens or over school holidays.

One of the most fun parts of a spontaneous trip? The “hotel room ritual,” the report found. Last-minute travelers say the first thing they do when they enter a hotel room is:

• Check Out the Bathroom/Shower (48 percent)
• Admire the View (47 percent)
• Jump on the Bed (22 percent)
• Scope Out the Mini-Bar (8 percent)
• Take a Selfie (5 percent)

When was your last spontaneous trip? Do you have a hotel room ritual?

Source: Booking.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Forget Your Cereal—Is Your Home 'Fortified?'

September 2, 2016 12:51 am


Few things are more concerning than learning of weather-related disasters that take a toll on homes, neighborhoods and entire communities, so the prospect of promoting consumer access to cutting-edge, home-building and -retrofitting was worth stopping the presses.

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and Munich Re launched an app, FORTIFIED Home On the Go, to help homeowners build safer, stronger structures in the face of increasing severe weather events. FORTIFIED™ Home is “a set of engineering and building standards designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades to minimum building code requirements that will reduce damage from specific natural disasters.”

The app walks homeowners (and architects and contractors) through the home-strengthening process. It provides animations, technical specifications and videos for building and retrofitting single-family homes.

Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the IBHS, says the FORTIFIED Home program provides a uniform set of construction and retrofitting standards to help improve a home’s resilience.

Rochman notes people often ask why the FORTIFIED Home programs are necessary, especially in jurisdictions where building codes have been established. She says codes provide minimum life safety protection to ensure occupants can exit a home safely; however, the codes are not intended to ensure homes are habitable after a catastrophic weather event, or to protect the contents inside of them.

Carl Hedde, head of Risk Accumulation for Munich Re, says the $60 billion in insured losses from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the almost $30 billion in insured losses from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 are just two examples of why the app was needed.

Hedde says the FORTIFIED Home On the Go app is primarily an educational tool. It is available free from the iTunes Store.

For more details on the FORTIFIED Home program, visit DisasterSafety.org/FORTIFIED.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Closing Time: 5 Tips to Prep Your Vacation Home for Vacancy

September 2, 2016 12:51 am


Summer is coming to a close, and, with it, the task of closing up a vacation home for the season.

Preparing your vacation property for vacancy involves several steps, says Charles Crews, spokesperson for Michigan-based Consumers Energy. The most important measures, listed below, can help minimize damage brought on by the harsh elements of winter and early spring.

1. Shut off the water supply. Shutting off the water supply to your vacation home will reduce the chance the pipes freeze and burst, which can be costly to repair. Once the supply is off, drain the hot water tank, pipes and sewer traps, or, place antifreeze (the product designed for RVs, Crews recommends) into empty toilet bowls.

2. Clean the fireplace. Cleaning the fireplace will prepare it for use next season—be sure to close the damper flue once it is swept, Crews advises. Remove any debris from the chimney opening, and place a cover over it to keep hibernating animals out.

3. Store outdoor equipment. Storing outdoor equipment will prevent it from damage should severe weather occur while you’re not present. Stow away chairs, grills and tables in a secure area. (Remember to disconnect the grill’s propane tank and store it, too!)

4. Remove edibles. Removing edibles from your vacation home will keep rodents and pests at bay—they can cause extensive damage if they access the home. Do not store food, even if it is non-perishable.

5. Arrange for maintenance. Arranging for winter maintenance on your vacation home can lessen the potential for damage come spring. If you expect your home will weather a winter storm or two, consider having a local snow removal company stop by periodically throughout the season to remove ice or snow from the driveway, roof and walkways.

In the market for a vacation home? Contact a real estate professional today!
 
Source: Consumers Energy

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Off to College? Money-Saving Tips for First-Years

September 1, 2016 12:51 am


Starting college is exciting, but move-in can overshadow important financial considerations for freshmen.

“A college career comes with newfound independence, and for many students, this change comes with a new level of personal responsibility,” says Joe Mason, chief marketing officer of Allianz Global Assistance USA.

One of the first steps incoming students should take, Mason says, is to locate an area bank. Proximity to charge-free ATMs is key, especially if the student is studying far from home.

Allow for parking expenses, as well—many institutions impose fees on students who park on campus, Mason explains. Keep an allowance handy to avoid more costly tickets.

Password-protecting all electronic devices is also important, because it will prevent cyber criminals (on campus and off) from accessing identifying financial information, Mason says.

Look into tuition insurance, Mason adds. Tuition insurance will cover losses should the student have to take an unexpected leave of absence.

“While day-to-day money management strategies are important, it is just as critical to prevent larger financial losses,” Mason says. “Increasingly, parents and students are choosing to protect their college savings with tuition insurance, just as they protect other large investments, such as their homes and cars.”

Eight in 10 financial advisors recently surveyed by Allianz recommend tuition insurance for students taking out loans to finance their college education.

“Safeguarding your tuition investment is a smart financial decision. Even the best students can struggle with adjusting to the demands of a university, fall ill or need to leave school for another unforeseen reason,” Mason says.

Source: Allianz Global Assistance USA
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Starting Your Smart Home Transformation

September 1, 2016 12:51 am


(Family Features)—The smart home movement is here to stay—but converting yours may seem intimidating. Transform your home to the times in just a few simple steps, courtesy of the experts at Chamberlain (Chamberlain.com):

Budget
Smart home technology once reserved for the well-off is now mainstream, so your budget will go further than it used to—in fact, you can get smart for less than $100. Two of the most important considerations when establishing your budget is your desired level of integration and the size of your home.

Brainstorm
Consider products that will make your household more convenient—a smartphone-controlled sound system if you entertain often, for instance, or a wireless washing machine starter for those days you forget to turn it on. Brainstorm room-by-room to determine areas that could benefit from smart home efficiency.

Pair
There are several smart home products available on the market today, so it is important to purchase ones that integrate with one another, as well as function with products you may add in the future. Pairing products will not only improve your smart home experience, but also spare you the expense on extraneous support products.

Prioritize
Going smart at home can be overwhelming. Install the products you plan to use daily first—an automatic garage door opener or a programmable thermostat, for example. Reserve seasonal products, like a smart sprinkler system, and install them at a later date.

Make your smart home transformation seamless with these steps—they’ll get you across the threshold into your new smart home!

Source: Chamberlain
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Design Book: The 2017 Color of the Year

September 1, 2016 12:51 am


The Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year informs interior décor decisions for designers and homeowners, echoed in seasonal trends throughout the year. In 2017, that color will be Poised Taupe, an understated, “modern take on a timeless classic” blending the best of browns and grays.

“Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of brown, taking a color to an entirely new level,” explains Sue Wadden, director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams, of the choice. “Not cool or warm, nor gray or brown, Poised Taupe is a weathered, woodsy neutral bringing a sense of coziness and harmony that people are seeking.”

According to Wadden, Poised Taupe signals a new direction in neutrals, which have historically been either cool or warm. Two in five surveyed by Sherwin-Williams identified taupe as a “timeless neutral,” neither too cool nor too warm.

Poised Taupe is drawn from Sherwin’s “Noir” palette, and pairs with a range of colors, including aureolin yellow, lava red, pomp-and-power purple, and teal.

“Consumers yearn for spaces that feel welcoming and hug them as they enter,” Wadden says. “Earthen brown combined with conservative gray, creating Poised Taupe, embodies all of these emotions.”

Source: Sherwin-Williams
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Last Holiday: What's in Store for Travelers This Labor Day

August 31, 2016 12:51 am


The unofficial end of summer is almost here, when scores of travelers will take to the roads for one last holiday in the sun.

So, what’s in store this Labor Day Weekend?

A recent poll of Labor Day travelers, conducted by Hankook Tire, reveals:

• Most travelers (73 percent) will drive to their Labor Day Weekend destination.

• Most travelers will have a wet Labor Day Weekend, with 55 percent heading to a beach, 29 heading to a lake and 13 percent heading to a water park.

• Most travelers agree: traffic is the worst part of Labor Day Weekend (71 percent), followed by long airport lines (24 percent) and no train seating (5 percent).

• Most travelers agree: an SUV or truck (48 percent) is the best vehicle to take on a Labor Day Weekend trip, followed by a luxury car (26 percent), a convertible (10 percent) and a sports car or an off-road vehicle (8 percent each).

• Most travelers (90 percent) will check their gas before trekking to their Labor Day Weekend destination, but many (45 percent) will not check if they have a spare tire on hand before departing.

That last finding is important—no matter where you’re off to this Labor Day weekend, conduct a thorough check of your vehicle before traveling. Hankook Tire’s experts say this includes checking the oil and tire pressure, as well as the spare tire.

Source: Hankook Tire America Corp.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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