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

What Are the Benefits of a Homeowners Association?

July 27, 2016 12:46 am


Homeowners in large-scale associations enjoy a number of association-managed services, many of which are beyond those offered by municipalities. The level at which these services are provided is just one of the benefits drawing homeowners to association living, according to a recently released survey by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR).

FCAR’s Large-Scale Association Survey, which evaluated associations with 1,000 or more lots (including residential, age-restricted and private club communities), found that large-scale associations offer high-caliber services, from roadway maintenance and stormwater management to recreation and security. In effect, large-scale associations act as governmental entities—an advantage for homeowners who would otherwise not receive services at the municipal level.

Large-scale associations also manage the environmental costs of development, as municipal organizations do, according to the survey’s findings. Most associations impose land use restrictions that protect conservation areas, waterways and wetlands.

Civic involvement is prevalent in large-scale associations, as well, the survey found—residents may be invited to attend community-related forums, for instance, or cast an opinion at a polling location within the association.

Community associations, which include condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities, became commonplace by the late 1960s, and, according to a Community Associations Institute statement on the survey, “now represent the greatest extension of housing ownership since the New Deal housing reforms and GI Bill after World War II.”

Source: Community Associations Institute (CAI)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Are You Paying Too Much for Flood Insurance?

July 26, 2016 12:46 am


Property owners of both residential and commercial units purchased more than $3.5 billion in flood policies last year through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The reason? More lenders may be requiring flood insurance—and yours could ask for it, too.

Insuring your home against flood risk is important, but it is also important to understand its cost. One way to ensure cost-control is with an error-free elevation certificate, says Michael Allison, president of AmeriFlood Solutions, Inc.

The elevation certificate is a document that indicates the elevation of the property, which determines insurance premium rates. The certificate must be free of errors and omissions—either could potentially cost thousands in needless expense, Allison says.

“A signed and sealed elevation certificated does not ensure accuracy,” Allison said in a statement. “More than 50 percent of the elevation certificates reviewed by our staff have errors. Further, outdated elevation certificates may not reflect building improvements or uncover documentation errors or omissions that can cause insurance agents, brokers and carriers to rate flood policies inaccurately. That can add up to a considerable difference in the amount paid for coverage or measures implemented to mitigate flood damage.”

Allison recommends reviewing the elevation certificate with an insurance broker or agent or flood risk expert—they can help you determine if you are paying too much (or too little) for flood insurance.

Source: AmeriFlood Solutions, Inc.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

The Case for Siding with Brick

July 26, 2016 12:46 am


There are many benefits to building and owning a home with a brick exterior—many of which outweigh the cost.

“The initial cost of a brick home is quite competitive, especially since most homes require less exterior cladding than people think,” said Ray Leonhard, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA), in a statement. “An average 2,700-square-foot, two-story house only needs 2,265 square feet of cladding material when accounting for windows, doors, etc.”

According to “The Installed Cost of Residential Siding,” a report by the BIA comparing brick to other types of siding, brick wall cladding can cost up to 15 percent less than stone veneer, up to 8 percent more than vinyl siding, up to 6 percent more than fiber cement siding or wood shingles, and up to 3 percent more than stucco or wood siding.

In approximately 65 percent of the major housing areas assessed in the report, brick costs less than stone and wood siding—an important distinction for new-home builders in hot markets like Austin, Texas, Charlotte, N.C., and Denver, Colo.

Some brick manufacturers offer 100-year warranties—a testament to the durability of the material, Leonhard said. Brick is relatively low-maintenance, with no painting required, and boasts insulation properties that not only reduce energy consumption, but also reduce noise.

Brick homes are also better outfitted to guard against fire and wind, which can be a boon in disaster situations, Leonhard added.

To learn more about brick homes, visit GoBrick.com.

Source: Brick Industry Association (BIA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

What Makes a Homeowner Happy?

July 26, 2016 12:46 am


What makes a homeowner happy? A safe community? A short commute? What about walkability?

The answer is all of the above, according to HomeAdvisor.com’s recently released Homeowner Happiness Index, an industry indicator ranking the happiest cities in the nation.

“A homeowner’s quality of life is more likely to be dependent on their community and access to important attractions and services than it is on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in their home,” said Dr. Karen Ruskin, HomeAdvisor’s happiness expert, in a statement.

Square footage is indeed less of a factor in determining a homeowner’s happiness, the Index shows. Natural light, on the other hand, is an important consideration—naturally-lit homes tend to appear more spacious.

The Index also reveals a happiness trend among empty-nesters and married couples without children, who reported feeling satisfied more so than other homeowners.

“Empty-nester homeowners feel most connected with their neighborhoods and are most satisfied with the condition of their homes,” Ruskin said. “They have likely settled in a community they enjoy and in which they plan to stay—and they generally have the most economic stability and time available to make their houses happy homes.”

Homeowners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, St. Louis and Seattle are among the happiest, according to the Index.
 
“Our research shows that homeowners are happiest in urban cities with good weather, an active culture, arts scene and higher income levels,” said Ruskin.

Homeowners outside of these areas don’t have to capture happiness in a bottle to feel a higher sense of satisfaction. Simple improvements, such as outfitting the home for entertaining, can make a world of difference.

To find out where your city ranks on HomeAdvisor’s Happiness Index, visit HomeAdvisor.com/survey.

Source: HomeAdvisor.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

What Do Back Taxes and iTunes Have in Common?

July 23, 2016 12:46 am


Nothing!

According to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, fraudsters have begun to solicit bogus back taxes through iTunes gift cards, selling card codes for profit. The scammer typically initiates the scheme by posing as a representative from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the phone, informing the victim that he or she has fallen behind on taxes, and threatening the victim with arrest should they not be paid immediately. The scammer then instructs the victim to purchase an iTunes gift card in the amount of the so-claimed back taxes, and reveal the card code, under the guise that this action will spare arrest. Once the victim shares the card code with the scammer, the scammer sells the code on the black market.

To avoid becoming a victim of the iTunes back taxes scam, remember:

• Funds on iTunes gift cards can only be applied to purchases in the Apple app/iTunes store; do not “pay” anyone, aside from Apple, with an iTunes gift card.

• iTunes gift cards cannot be used to pay taxes—the IRS only accepts cash, check or credit card as forms of payment.

If you believe you have been a victim of this scam (or any other type of fraud), report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at FTC.gov. 

Source: AARP Fraud Watch Network
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Eggshell? Semi-Gloss? A Guide to Paint Finishes

July 23, 2016 12:46 am


Selecting paint colors for your home can be challenging—and the task isn’t complete when you finally choose a color!

Deciding the appropriate paint finish is also a consideration. Below, a primer (no pun intended) on the five most common paint finishes:

Eggshell – If you can envision the very subtle sheen of the shell of an egg, you have an idea of how eggshell paint will appear when applied to a wall. With only a slight hint of shine, eggshell paint is ideal for most walls, and stands up to cleaning.

Flat – Flat (or matte) paint does not reflect light, making it another wise option for most walls. Flat paint camouflages bumps, small cracks or imperfections, and is washable.

Glossy – High-gloss paint has a near-reflective quality, mimicking the look of enamel or plastic. It is best applied (for dramatic effect) on cabinets, furniture or trim in contemporary or formal settings. Glossy paint magnifies surface imperfections, so sanding is essential before applying.

Satin – Satin paint has a smooth, velvety appearance, and is most often applied to doors, ceilings, windows or trim. It is particularly suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and in areas that see a lot of traffic.

Semi-Gloss - Semi-gloss paint is commonly applied to cabinets, doors and trim because it is easy to clean. Be diligent when preparing the surface for semi-gloss paint—the finish will accentuate a poorly-prepared area.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Unpacking Summer's Hottest Housing Trends – Pt. 3

July 23, 2016 12:46 am


Household arrangements are adapting to the post-recession economy, with micro apartments, co-living and tiny homes defining trends this summer, according to ApartmentList.com. In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we explored the first two of those trends; now, we’ll conclude with the last: tiny homes.

Touted for their cost-effectiveness, efficiency and environmental-friendliness, tiny houses have gained popularity over the last few years, appealing to those who value experiences and people over space.

Per ApartmentList.com, buying (or building) a tiny house comes at a lesser cost than that of a full-sized home. Many tiny homebuyers and owners place their houses on wheels to comply with zoning regulations and ensure maximum mobility.

Parking spaces for a tiny house are scarce, but an RV park or tiny house eco-village are available in some areas.

The tiny house movement is not without controversy. Reports recently surfaced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to outlaw tiny houses, but a report by Snopes.com squashed them as rumors. (The HUD proposal only pertains to the classification of structures—even tiny houses—marketed as year-round residences, ensuring compliance with building codes and safety standards.)

According to the American Tiny House Association, tiny houses built on foundations should be constructed according to local codes. Mobile tiny house builders, on the other hand, should consult the Association’s guidelines at AmericanTinyHouseAssociation.org.

For more summer housing trends, visit ApartmentList.com.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Unpacking Summer's Hottest Housing Trends – Pt. 2

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


Part 1 of this series, which breaks down three of summer’s hottest housing trends—named by ApartmentList.com—sized up the micro apartment movement, currently gaining steam in cities like San Francisco and Seattle.

Co-living is another trend to watch this season, according to ApartmentList.com. Co-living arrangements are ideal for those looking for communal habitation.

Co-living arrangements are often comprised of multiple residents sharing a house, or sharing full floors in apartment buildings. Most co-living units are fully-furnished with unlimited essentials like coffee and toilet paper. Residents in the co-living arrangement share amenities like the kitchen, laundry room, workspace, gym or spa.

Companies who manage co-living units generally offer leases on a month-to-month basis, in response to mobile lifestyles. The cost of co-living is cheaper compared to a typical apartment of the same size—in San Francisco, for instance, the Coliving Club costs $998 per month.

Dezeen.com—home of one of industry’s most well-known architecture and design magazines—recently featured New York City's WeLive co-living project, a development of 200 fully-furnished and serviced shared residential units. The feature reports prices start at $1,375 per person for a space in a shared unit and $2,200 for an individual studio, plus a monthly amenities fee of $125.

For now, co-living appears to be a viable arrangement in cities, where space comes at a premium. Will co-living take hold in outlying areas? Time will tell.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series: tiny houses.

For more summer housing trends, visit ApartmentList.com.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

3 Tips for Homebuyers in a Competitive Market

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


(BPT)—Homebuyers traditionally face competition at the height of real estate season. Now, with market indicators reaching record post-recession milestones, competition is stiffer than ever.

To gain an edge as a buyer, real estate professionals advise:

Getting Pre-Approved – Getting pre-approved for financing will give you significant leverage in negotiations with the seller—and knowing exactly what you can afford will keep you on track if a bidding war ensues.

Thinking Long-Term – As a homebuyer, your decision regarding which home to purchase should align with your future expectations. Planning to grow your family? Consider a larger house in need of work instead of a completely updated two-bedroom bungalow. Looking to downsize? Consider purchasing a ranch home without stairs.

Researching the Neighborhood – Researching areas in advance can save you time spent hunting for houses that do not suit your needs. Do you need easy access to commuter rail and bus lines? Where will your children attend school? These factors, and more, will influence your home-buying decision.

Keep in mind that in addition to these tips, the best ally in a competitive market is a real estate professional. If you’re ready to purchase a home, contact your local real estate agent for guidance.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Report: In Most States, It's Better to Own Than Rent

July 21, 2016 12:46 am


Did you know that in the majority of states, owning a home is more economically sustainable than renting one?

A recently released GOBankingRates.com report reveals that it is less expensive to own a home in 42 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—about 82 percent of the country. The report compares each state’s median list price and median rent of a single-family home, factoring in a 20 percent down payment, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, insurance and property taxes.

The average monthly payments for a mortgage and rent by state, according to the report:

Alabama
Mortgage: $859
Rent: $950

Alaska
Mortgage: $1,356
Rent: $1,690

Arizona
Mortgage: $1,223
Rent: $1,250

Arkansas
Mortgage: $769
Rent: $1,050

California
Mortgage: $2,221
Rent: $2,400

Colorado
Mortgage: $1,837
Rent: $1,700

Connecticut
Mortgage: $1,486
Rent: $1,700

Delaware
Mortgage: $1,375
Rent: $1,300

Florida
Mortgage: $1,297
Rent: $1,695

Georgia
Mortgage: $1,029
Rent: $1,200
 
Hawaii
Mortgage: $2,862
Rent: $2,347

Idaho
Mortgage: $1,199
Rent: $995

Illinois
Mortgage: $1,078
Rent: $1,600

Indiana
Mortgage: $745
Rent: $1,025

Iowa
Mortgage: $836
Rent: $1,095

Kansas
Mortgage: $836
Rent: $1,150

Kentucky
Mortgage: $849
Rent: $1,000

Louisiana
Mortgage: $1,022
Rent: $1,250

Maine
Mortgage: $1,104
Rent: $1,500

Maryland
Mortgage: $1,446
Rent: $1,700

Massachusetts
Mortgage: $1,941
Rent: $2,500

Michigan
Mortgage: $741
Rent: $1,000

Minnesota
Mortgage: $1,085
Rent: $1,400

Mississippi
Mortgage: $791
Rent: $1,100

Missouri
Mortgage: $768
Rent: $950

Montana
Mortgage: $1,348
Rent: $1,100

Nebraska
Mortgage: $884
Rent: $1,200

Nevada
Mortgage: $1,196
Rent: $1,275

New Hampshire
Mortgage: $1,240
Rent: $1,475

New Jersey
Mortgage: $1,428
Rent: $1,900

New Mexico
Mortgage: $1,043
Rent: $1,125

New York
Mortgage: $1,660
Rent: $3,295

North Carolina
Mortgage: $1,089
Rent: $1,175

North Dakota
Mortgage: $1,144
Rent: $1,250

Ohio
Mortgage: $700
Rent: $1,075

Oklahoma
Mortgage: $867
Rent: $1,050

Oregon
Mortgage: $1,562
Rent: $1,550

Pennsylvania
Mortgage: $934
Rent: $1,395

Rhode Island
Mortgage: $1,416
Rent: $1,750

South Carolina
Mortgage: $1,121
Rent: $1,250

South Dakota
Mortgage: $1,033
Rent: $1,100
 
Tennessee
Mortgage: $934
Rent: $1,195

Texas
Mortgage: $1,271
Rent: $1,425

Utah
Mortgage: $1,517
Rent: $1,275

Vermont
Mortgage: $1,226
Rent: $1,500

Virginia
Mortgage: $1,465
Rent: $1,650

Washington
Mortgage: $1,515
Rent: $1,650

Washington, D.C.
Mortgage: $2,719
Rent: $2,575

West Virginia
Mortgage: $832
Rent: $1,098

Wisconsin
Mortgage: $921
Rent: $1,200

Wyoming
Mortgage: $1,199
Rent: $1,100

Source: GOBankingRates.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:
TwitterFacebookGoogleLinkedinYoutubepinterest