RE/MAX 440
Dale Joy
dalejoy1@verizon.net
Dale Joy
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-584-1160
O: 610-584-1160
C: 215-460-5153
F: 267-354-6852 
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Don't Get Chilled by Winter Repair, Maintenance Scams

February 15, 2016 4:00 am

Into every property-owner's life some harsh weather may fall. So when winter weather crosses the line, don't compound the annoyance by getting scammed or burned by unscrupulous responders disguised as timely do-gooders.

Connecticut's Consumer Protection Commissioner recently released a raft of great tips and advice applicable to home and property owners anywhere a weather-related incident may occur.

Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris says, "A serious storm or natural disaster could require quick home repairs that you weren’t expecting, but it’s important to act, and not react. Hiring unqualified, unregistered, unverified workers could put you and your home in a deeper mess."

Commissioner Harris says snow removal is not considered home improvement work - even removal of snow from roofs. But it’s best to have someone who is qualified in roof work to remove snow from roofs; someone unfamiliar with certain types of roofs could cause damage and void the warranty. If your roof is damaged and needs repair, hire a registered home improvement contractor; roof repair may even be covered under local, county or state protections.

When hiring anyone to clear snow and ice from your driveways and walkways, Commissioner Harris says be sure to negotiate the price upfront and know the scope of the work. And anytime there is damage to your property, notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.

Don’t hire home repair contractors who go door-to-door, who call, or who post notices on bulletin boards or telephone poles or online, such as Craigslist, before checking them out thoroughly.

You should NEVER pay in advance for any work, especially in an emergency situation. Depending on the length of the job, you may need to pay some upfront, some half-way through the job, and the final payment once the job is complete to your satisfaction. Payment should be made by credit card or check, rather than cash.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Valentine’s Day: A Dozen Fun Facts

February 12, 2016 4:00 am

All in the name of love! Valentine’s Day celebrants shelled out nearly $19 billion on outings and gifts last year, and that number shows no signs of dwindling this time around. The big bucks will be spent in three categories:

Candy
What New Year’s resolution? Fifty percent of Americans will buy candy for a loved one, spending a sweet $1.7 million total on the tell-tale, heart-shaped boxes.

Cards
Did you know Valentine’s Day card sales rank second to those of Christmas cards? Fifty percent of Americans will buy greeting cards this year, totaling upwards of 180 million. That’s a lot of time spent licking envelopes!

Flowers
Over 200 million roses are produced each year for Valentine’s Day. This year, one out of four Americans will buy flowers, with more than 40 percent of purchases being red roses.

Some Valentine’s Day shoppers also plan to splurge on jewelry—it’s the glitter things that count, after all! Fun facts: nearly 10 percent of all diamond jewelry is sold as Valentine’s gifts, and almost half of proposals happen on Valentine’s Day.

Some, still, are even spreading the love to their four-legged friends. About one in five Americans will buy a Valentine’s Day gift for their pet this year, proving that unconditional love goes both ways between pet owners and their beloved companions.

Source: FatWallet

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Replacing Windows? 3 Tips for the Kitchen and Bath

February 12, 2016 4:00 am

(BPT)—Dollar for dollar, one of the most valuable improvements you can make to your home is replacing the windows. New windows not only increase energy-efficiency, but also offer optimal natural lighting and ventilation.

The best rooms for new windows? Your kitchen and bathrooms, say the experts at Pella Windows and Doors. Before embarking on the project, they suggest these three tips:

1. Select a window material that fits your needs.

Kitchens and baths require windows that are easy to clean and can withstand moisture, so materials like vinyl or fiberglass are ideal. Fiberglass windows can withstand extreme heat and cold, are energy-efficient, and have the look of painted wood without the need for additional painting or staining.

2. Choose a window style with function in mind.

Kitchen windows are often placed above counters or sinks, and bathroom windows tend to be located above tubs, beside showers or above bathroom counters. The placement of these windows can sometimes make them hard to reach, so choosing a window style that's easy to open and close is a must. Sliding windows or casement windows—which crank open and close—are ideal for these hard-to-reach areas.

Ventilation is another key consideration in kitchens and bathrooms. A properly placed window can help decrease the amount of heat and moisture retained when cooking or showering. Awning windows, which can be pulled in or pushed out, are a good option, and perform best when placed close to the ceiling or above eye level.

3. Consider additional features and options.

If you want to maintain privacy while maximizing natural light in the bathroom, choose a window with obscure or opaque glass. Streamline the look and function of your kitchen or bath with between-the-glass cordless blinds or shades, which minimize allergens and eliminate clutter. Because these window coverings are tucked between the panes of glass, you won't have to worry about moisture or stains.

Source: Pella Windows and Doors

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In Tune: Households Happier with Music

February 12, 2016 4:00 am

If you’ve ever attended a concert, you know firsthand how powerful music can be. But what about the music you listen to at home?

Sonos explored the answer to that question in its recently released “Music Makes it Home” study. Listening to music out loud in the home, the report found, leads to stronger relationships, increased intimacy and quality time spent together, and happier families. Most strikingly, households that listen to music out loud spend an additional three hours and 13 minutes per week together than those that do not.

"The truth is, people may be sharing a home, but they aren't sharing much else. Music may be able to change that by bringing everyone back together," says Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, neuroscientist, musician and author of the international bestselling book, “This is Your Brain on Music.”

Households that listen to music out loud also experienced heightened feelings of happiness, notably while completing chores or cooking, according to the study.

Households included in the study ranged from roommates and spouses to multi-generational families and first-time cohabitating couples.

Source: Sonos®

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The Top Source of Workplace Stress? Unpredictability

February 11, 2016 4:00 am

It pays to prepare for the unexpected. “Unpredictability” was named the top source of work-related stress by 26 percent of respondents in a recently released CareerCast poll, with the most taxing occupations including enlisted military, firefighters, police officers, public relations executives and event coordinators.

"Life is filled with stressors—from worrying you're going to lose your job because the company lost a big account to having a sick child at home," says Kyle Kensing, online content editor for CareerCast. "Much of the pressure we feel occurs in the eight or so hours we spend at work and we asked our readers to sound off on their stress factors."

Other common factors influencing work-related stress levels include:

• Workplace Environment (21 percent)
• Deadlines (20 percent)
• Safety of Others (16 percent)

The least stressful aspect of the workplace is business travel, named a stressor by just 1 percent of poll respondents. Few people felt the following stressors contributed to work-related stress levels, as well:

• Potential for Promotion (3 percent)
• Personal Well-Being in Danger (5 percent)
• Length of Work Day/Week (7 percent)

If you find yourself one of the majority stressed over unpredictability at work, you may find reprieve as a hair stylist, medical records technician, jeweler or librarian—professions named least stressful, according to poll results.

Source: CareerCast

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5 Steps to Ensure Water Quality at Home

February 11, 2016 4:00 am

The lead contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., has brought to light possible occurrences in other areas of the country. Unsafe lead levels in tap water can be harmful, particularly to pregnant women and children. If faced with contaminated tap water, steps to reduce exposure should be taken as soon as possible. Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

• Clean out faucet aerators by unscrewing the aerator at the tip of the faucet and removing any debris. Aerators are located at the tip of household faucets and have a screen to collect particles and sediment.

• Flush hot water tanks to remove sediments that may have been deposited into the tank.

• Clean whole-house water filtration systems by flushing the system and changing the cartridge.

• Have your water tested to be sure lead levels are below 150 parts per billion.

• Pregnant women and children under six should drink bottled water until they get results showing their water is below 150 parts per billion. After that point, they should only drink water that has been through an NSF-certified, lead removal filter.

Source: EPA

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Coast to Coast: The Top Growth States and Cities

February 11, 2016 4:00 am

More Americans are calling the coasts home. Two states—one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast—ranked among the highest for new residents in the last year, based on incoming one-way U-Haul truck rentals. U-Haul migration trends don’t correlate directly to population or economic growth, but the data are a strong gauge of how well states are attracting and retaining residents.

The coastal states topping the list are North Carolina and California, with Florida, Ohio and Virginia also experiencing a flood of new residents in the past year.

Clear growth cities have also emerged in the U-Haul statistics. The top 10 are:

1. Concord, Calif.
2. Roseville-Sacramento, Calif.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Madison, Wis.
5. Chicago, Ill.
6. College Station, Texas
7. Henderson, Nev.
8. Manhattan, N.Y.
9. Manteca, Calif.
10. Missoula, Mont.

Source: U-Haul

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The Most Romantic Cities in America…for Foodies

February 10, 2016 3:57 am

Love it or hate it, the appetite for a romantic dining spot will be insatiable this Valentine’s Day—and some cities heed the call better than others.

"For generations, people have celebrated love by sharing a meal at enchanting, elegant restaurants," says Caroline Potter, chief dining officer of OpenTable, which recently rounded up a list of the most romantic cities in America for dining.

"The cities on this list, from the charming coastal community that is Virginia Beach to the top dining destination of Chicago, are those in which deliciously romantic dinners are de rigueur for couples in all stages of courtship,” says Potter. 

The list was tabulated by factoring in the percentage of restaurants rated “Romantic” on OpenTable, the percentage of tables seated for two, and the percentage of people who dined out for Valentine’s Day last year in each city. The full list:

1. Virginia Beach, Va.
2. Newport, R.I.
3. Milwaukee, Wis.
4. Atlantic City, N.J.
5.  Santa Fe, N.M.
6. Birmingham, Ala.
7. Oklahoma City, Okla.
8. Omaha, Neb.
9. St. Louis, Mo.
10. Colorado Springs, Colo.
11. Baltimore, Md.
12. San Antonio, Texas
13. Annapolis, Md.
14. Madison, Wis.
15. Fort Worth, Texas
16. Greenville, S.C.
17. Memphis, Tenn.
18. Louisville, Ky.
19. Savannah, Ga.
20. Austin, Texas
21. Tulsa, Okla.
22. Greensboro, N.C.
23. Chicago, Ill.
24. Lexington, Ky.
25. Columbus, Ohio

Source: OpenTable

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Americans Expect Stable Home Prices, Higher Earnings

February 10, 2016 3:57 am

With the first month of 2016 on record, Americans are exhibiting confidence, albeit tepid, about the economy in the year ahead. According to a recently released survey by the New York Federal Reserve, the expectation for changes in home prices remained stable, while expectations surrounding earnings and spending growth have increased slightly.

Per the survey, home price change expectations in the next year hovered at 3.0 percent. Looking one year ahead, expected earnings growth rebounded to 2.1 percent, primarily driven by younger, lower-income and lower-educated workers. The expectation for household spending growth rose to 3.0 percent.

The survey also presents findings regarding credit availability, perceptions and expectations for which have trickled downward. The perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months decreased to 11.8 percent.

Expectations for household income growth also dipped, this time to 2.2 percent, chiefly determined by older, less-educated respondents to the survey.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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Homeowners: Make Way for the Super Kitchen

February 10, 2016 3:57 am

More activities than ever take place in the kitchen—so much so that a new movement has emerged. “Super kitchens,” coined by Houzz.com and revealed in its recently released Kitchen Trends Survey, blur the lines between the heart of the home and other living spaces.

“The modern ‘super kitchen’ supports family, friends and work and does it in style,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Our findings show that homeowners expect kitchen renovations to go far beyond improving flow, storage or aesthetics. The ‘super kitchen’ has literally become a living room, family room and office, with finishes, layouts and decor that challenge us to define where the kitchen ends and the rest of the home begins.”

According to the survey, homeowners have adapted their kitchens to serve a multitude of needs, including:

• Dining Space (69 percent)
• Entertainment Space (49 percent)
• Space for Socializing (43 percent)
• Homework Space (25 percent)
• Space for Television Viewing (19 percent)
• Reading Space (14 percent)

To meet these needs, homeowners have adjusted the layout of their kitchens—46 percent have made the space completely open to other interior rooms, and one in five were opened to the outdoors. Thirty-five percent of homeowners renovated their kitchens into a U-shaped layout; 28 percent remodeled their kitchens into an L-shaped layout.

Homeowners have also added features traditionally reserved for living and dining rooms to their super kitchens, including:

• Dining Tables (25 percent)
• Chandeliers (23 percent)
• Televisions (14 percent)
• Desks and Workspaces (7 percent)

Why the shift to super? Aside from necessity, many homeowners report simply being unable to stand their outdated kitchen—a motivation that surpassed budget concerns. Approximately half of homeowners (52 percent) spent $25,000 or less on kitchen renovations; nearly identical percentages (31 and 30 percent, respectively) spent $25,000 to $50,000 or $50,000 or more on kitchen renovations.

Source: Houzz

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