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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Map Out Your Winter Weather Safety Plan

February 5, 2015 4:57 am

Most homeowners retreat indoors when faced with a brewing winter storm, but even staying inside can be risky. Fierce winds and heavy snowfalls can leave homes without power or homeowners unable to travel.

Stay safe during winter weather this season with these tips.

Ensure you have water.
Power outages mean no water for homes that rely on wells, so families should stock up on drinking water. Filling up the bathtub before power is lost is also a good idea. The water can be used to flush the toilet if pumps stop working.

Buy non-perishable food.
Families should have three days of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food items on hand. Buy crackers, canned food and cereal.

Prepare for furnace failure.
Even gas furnaces will not supply heat in a power outage since the fan and pilot are electric. Wood stoves and fireplaces are safe ways to heat the home, but no other indoor fires should ever be lit. Operating outdoor BBQs (including propane) inside and inhaling deadly carbon monoxide is the leading cause of death during a power outage. If you don't have another heat source, dress warm and grab plenty of blankets.

Clear HVAC exhaust.
Heavy snow can also disable a furnace by blocking the exhaust vent on the outside of the home. Be sure to keep it clear as snow drifts push up against the house.

Keep medical supplies stocked.
Make sure the house has a supply of bandages, ointments and rubbing alcohol in case of cuts. Those who rely on daily prescriptions, such as insulin, should have an ample supply on hand.

Source: Aprilaire

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Inexpensive Steps to a Speedy Home Sale

February 5, 2015 4:57 am

If you’re a homeowner considering a move, you may be wondering what’s next. Do I need to renovate the kitchen? Repaint the exterior? Replace the flooring? Before taking on a costly remodel, consider this: these measures don’t always recoup the highest percentages in return. Many sellers have much more success by investing in upgrades that boost their home’s value in the process. The best part? Both sides of the transaction profit.

Consumer Reports recommends completing these updates:

1. Paint key rooms.
In the grand scheme of things, painting is one of the least expensive ways to freshen up your home for sale, but it can cost up to $300 a room if you’re hiring a pro to do your entire home. Save big by painting just a few select areas: high-traffic rooms, like the kitchen and bathrooms, and rooms with brightly-painted walls. You can save even more by doing the project yourself – a gallon of paint averages about $30.

2. Spruce up the exterior.
Your home’s exterior is the first impression for many buyers online and in person. Aside from keeping up with maintenance like mowing the lawn and trimming shrubs, assess the outside of your home for any repair work – a fading front door, cracked siding or a loose step – that needs to be completed before selling. And don’t forget about the roof. If it needs to be replaced, choose an inexpensive but durable option, like standard, three-tab asphalt shingles. They cost approximately $75 per 100 square feet, including installation.

3. Upgrade the bathroom.
Bathrooms can become a point of contention for buyers if they’re not in tip-top shape. Rather than taking on an expensive renovation, make minor upgrades that have an impact. Caulk the tub, re-grout tile, and install new fixtures. Larger, less costly fixes are also a possibility if you know where to look – a new vanity, for instance, can cost less than $1,000 if you shop around.

4. Make kitchen repairs.
Buyers want to be wowed by the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars to make that happen. Focus on making repairs that cost well under $500, like tightening a leaky faucet or eliminating burn marks on countertops. For a cheap alternative to repainting your cabinets, consider updating your hardware in a modern finish.

5. Clean, clean, clean.
Even if the home has been renovated top to bottom, a messy appearance can be the ultimate deal breaker. Fortunately for sellers, de-cluttering and de-personalizing doesn’t have to cost a dime. A short list that will help buyers visualize living in the home:
- Vacuum, dust and wipe all surfaces regularly while your home is on the market.
- Pare down closets to the bare essentials.
- Replace family or otherwise personal photos with neutral wall art.
- Cut clutter in cabinets and on bookshelves.
- Keep counter and tabletops clear, especially during an open house.
If the project is overwhelming, consider hiring a professional cleaning service or organizer to cut through the chaos. A pro can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Pricing Tactics Every Smart Shopper Knows

February 4, 2015 4:54 am

Are you digging out of debt from holiday spending? Retailers use several tactics to entice shoppers to spend more, especially during seasonal sales. Understanding these ploys can help you avoid accumulating more debt by overspending. During your next shop, arm yourself with a budget and knowledge of these pricing strategies.

Store Perception Can Lead to Increased Spending
There’s a reason why retailers spend big bucks on branding. According to a profile in the New York Times Magazine, shoppers are willing to pay more for an item if it came from a store perceived as high-quality. To avoid falling into this trap, shop around for everyday items. A white T-shirt, for example, can be well-made without being pricey.

Costs of Big-Ticket Items Makes Small Items Seem Worth It

On your next shopping trip, remember to keep things in perspective. Retailers will often place smaller items near big-ticket ones to justify a higher price – a $100 tablecloth is not worth $100 just because it’s sitting on a $5,000 table, for instance.

“Sale” Keyword Affects Perceived Value

Discounts compel shoppers to spend whether the price is saving them money or not. When comparing items, do the math before purchasing. An item for sale may not be worth its cost, especially when up against a regularly-priced item for less.

Prices Ending in 9 Mean Little to a Store’s Bottom Line

The majority of retailers use the 99 cents strategy to trick shoppers into thinking that the item really doesn’t cost the rounded-up whole number. That one cent may be a drop in the bucket for retailers, but it can burn a hole in your wallet if you’re not careful. Train your brain to look past this tactic to save the most cash.

Items Priced without Commas Seem Less Expensiv
e
According to a Journal of Consumer Psychology study, higher prices broken up with commas appear much less costly to shoppers – $2799, for example, reads cheaper than a $2,799 tag. Some stores use commas and others don’t, so look for the lowest price when shopping around.

Source: Apartment Therapy

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Should You Buy a Historic Home?

February 4, 2015 4:54 am

In the market for a historic home? Historic homes are coveted for their timeless charm, unique features and, of course, historical background. But owning your very own piece of history comes with its fair share of drawbacks – and many go beyond the surface of the home. If you’re shopping for a historic home, consider these factors:

Registration – When researching details of the home, find out whether it’s registered as historic on a local or federal level. A registered historic home can be subject to tax breaks, but it can also limit any changes a new owner may want to make.

Size – By nature, historic homes have a much smaller square footage than newly constructed units. Ceilings, in particular, are often lower, and bathrooms and kitchens rarely have the amount of storage new home owners are accustomed to.

Home Systems – As with any home, buyers shopping historic should have an inspection prior to purchasing. In historic homes, be mindful of blips on the inspection report that relate to the home’s internal systems – plumbing and electric – as these can be costly to update.

Chemicals – Lead and asbestos are big no-no’s these days, but not so when historic homes were built. Keep in mind that you will need to remove lead-based paints and popcorn ceilings, especially if you have children or elderly family members.

Source: Zillow

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Three Tips for DIY Painters

February 4, 2015 4:54 am

(BPT) – Ninety-four percent of homeowners plan to paint a room or rooms themselves this year, according to a recent survey by Sherwin-Williams. If you’re planning a DIY painting project of your own, keep in mind these tips.

Find color inspiration.
Choosing the perfect paint color is key to creating the look you want, but how do you know which color suits your home best? Per the Sherwin-Williams survey, more than half of DIYers (56 percent) say they look to nature for color inspiration; 36 percent take their color cues from Pinterest images.

Select the right finish.
Once you've decided on the perfect color, get the best finish for the space you’re painting. For durability and washability, choose a semi-gloss paint. Semi-gloss is a good option for areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

For high-traffic areas, like a hallway or a child’s bedroom, satin and egg-shell paints are preferred because they’re easy to clean and maintain. High gloss paints are also extremely durable and easy to clean, making them perfect for windows, doors and trim. For spaces that have something to hide, a flat finish will work to your advantage.

Paint your space in the correct order.
To avoid more cleanups than necessary, start by painting the ceiling, then the walls. If two coats of paint are needed, finish both coats before moving on to the next step. Next, paint windows from top to bottom, followed by the baseboards, trim and doorframe. Save the door for last.

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7 Strategies for Growing Your Retirement Egg

February 3, 2015 4:54 am

As the New Year begins, the vast majority of American workers vow to save more money. But life gets in the way, and the truth, for many, is that savings wind up getting short shrift. Financial strategists at The Motley Fool, a money guide for skilled and less-experienced savers, have put together a seven-strategy plan to help consumers maximize retirement savings:

Pay yourself first – You may have heard this before, but saving must be your number one budget item. The only way to ensure you hit aggressive savings goals is to put a sum of money away each month before the rent and other bills eat it up.

Start early – The sooner you start putting money away, the bigger the likelihood you will save enough for an easier retirement. Putting larger sums away at a more advanced age will likely not make up for the years you missed.

Take advantage of employer match – Most employers offer a match to employees' retirement savings either as a percent of salary or contributions. Either way, it's free money and an opportunity you shouldn't pass up.

The 500 Plan – This is a tough one, but the iPlanRetirement blog proposes a plan to save $1 million in just 20 years. You put away $500 every month for a year. The next year, increase the savings to $600 – and increase the savings by another $100 a month every succeeding year.

Save your raises – Most workers can count on an annual raise, at an average of five percent. If you stow the raise away each year for 20 years, you will be on your way to amassing $1 million.

Increase income, but not spending – If you aren’t getting raises, look for other ways to increase your income. Get a part time job. Buy and sell on eBay or at a swap meet. Use your crafting, writing or other talents to earn extra money.

Take on some risk – It’s hard to amass a hefty sum by depositing your money in a savings account. A major savings goal requires substantial returns, and the only way to realize those returns is to take on some investment risk. Do some studying first, or get advice from a professional financial advisor.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Avoid Plumbing Problems in 4 Steps

February 3, 2015 4:54 am

Did you know that hosting guests frequently in your home can put pressure on your plumbing system? Without proper maintenance before, during and after your get-together, your plumbing may need to undergo expensive repair work.

Avoid plumbing problems with these tips from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing:

Replace the flapper. A worn or old toiler flapper can create problems in the bathroom and make it tough to flush. Replacing the flapper is quick, easy, and can help things flow smoothly during times of heavy usage.

Water down your disposal. Certain vegetable and fruit peels can be tough on a garbage disposal. When using your disposal, use plenty of water to help move scraps down the drain.

Place plungers in key areas. Plungers are not just for toilets. You can keep a clean plunger under the kitchen sink to help with clogs or slow moving drains. To use a plunger properly: pull the flange out from the bottom and use a quick pulsing motion to help remove a clog.

Have a plumbing inspection. Don't wait for a problem to surface and then call a plumber. A plumbing inspection, done by a trusted professional, can identify potential trouble areas before you have a house full of guests and a major plumbing emergency.

Source: Benjamin Franklin Plumbing

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Filing a Claim for Winter Storm Damage? What You Need to Know

February 3, 2015 4:54 am

With winter weather set to hit a large swath of the country over the coming weeks, damage to property is likely to occur. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advisers homeowners to be mindful of these insurance factors following severe weather conditions.

Standard homeowners insurance covers:
  • Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property. Also, wind-driven snow or freezing rain that gets into the home because the home was damaged by wind.
  • Tree limbs that fall on a house or other insured structure on the property—this includes both the damage the tree inflicts on the house and the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500.
  • Damage from ice and other objects that fall on the home.
  • Damage to the house and its contents caused by weight of snow or ice that creates a collapse is covered.
  • Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams, a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls. However, there is generally a requirement that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to prevent these losses by keeping the house warm and properly maintaining the pipes and drains.
  • Additional living expenses (ALE)—in the event that a home is severely damaged by an insured disaster. This would pay for reasonable expenses incurred by living elsewhere while the home is being fixed.
Damage caused by flooding is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies. Melting snow that seeps into a home from the ground up would be covered by flood insurance, which is provided by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, and a few private insurers. Flood insurance is available to both homeowners and renters.

Source: I.I.I.

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4 Ways to Keep Clutter from Overtaking Your Life

February 2, 2015 4:51 am

Are your closets brimming with household items? Are you using your garage to store anything but your vehicle? Has every nook and cranny become a catch-all for clutter? Many homeowners believe the solution to clutter is to purchase more – baskets, coat racks, storage units and anything else that will help them stay organized.

"It's easy for homeowners to accumulate an abundance of items over the years. In order to keep your home clean and contented, it's important to edit out unnecessary objects," says Karen Powell, founder and CEO of Decor&You. "Especially after the holiday gift giving and receiving season, now is a great time to consider donating unwanted items to local charities and help others in your community."

Rather than bringing more items into the chaos, evaluate the items currently overcrowding your home and de-clutter your existing storage spaces. Here’s how to do it.

Create a habit: By setting aside designated dates throughout the year to sort through storage spaces, you'll eventually form a new habit. Whether you decide to de-clutter biannually or bimonthly, establish realistic times based on your household and lifestyle. For some, it might be best to align your 'editing out' days with the change of each season. Remember to pencil these specific tasks into the calendar. Doing so will increase the likelihood that they are completed on a regular basis.
Make it a family affair: While the de-cluttering process isn't always considered fun, sorting through storage and buried objects can be very nostalgic. For items holding sentimental value, having the family together for one last reflection can provide closure and make it easier to donate or discard. Including your family, especially children, will help them to develop a clutter-avoiding habit, too.
Reflect, and then make a purchase: When you’re shopping and you spot something of interest, it's easy to immediately justify the purchase. Consider its purpose instead. Is it serving as an aesthetic piece? Is it replacing something outdated? What about its placement -- will it be in the open on your fireplace mantle or end up shoved in a storage bin? Use these reflections to dictate whether a purchase should be made, and establish a rule to refrain from buying excess goods. A good rule of thumb: for every two items purchased, one pre-loved item in the same category must be donated or discarded.
Take 10 minutes a week: Beyond the designated times per year, take ten minutes each week to quickly evaluate what areas of your home need to be tackled and if there is anything simple you can do now to relieve the process in the future. Checking your kitchen pantry or refrigerator for expired goods will save you an enormous amount of time when the big clean-up rolls around.

Source: Decor & You, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Mortgage Rates in Holding Pattern

February 2, 2015 4:51 am

Mortgage rates were mixed last week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate reversing last week's move and settling at 3.80 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.29 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.13 percent, down 3.18 percent from last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage was down 3.81 percent from the previous week at 3.80 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were mostly higher, with the 7-year ARM climbing to 3.37 percent and the 10-year ARM rising to 3.65 percent.

Mortgage rates remain at the lowest levels since May 2013, despite an improving U.S. economy. The economic sluggishness overseas and increased stimulus from other central banks around the globe have kept the Federal Reserve 'patient' about raising interest rates and helped bring both bond yields and mortgage rates lower. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

One year ago, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.50 percent. At that time, a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,013.37. With the average rate now at 3.80 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $931.91, a savings of approximately $81 per month for anyone refinancing now.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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