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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Valuable Fraud Prevention Tips for Homebuyers and Homeowners

March 10, 2014 3:45 am

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has consistently been a leader in the fight against mortgage fraud and offers the following tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim of mortgage fraud.

Misrepresentation of Information

Mortgage fraud occurs when someone deliberately misrepresents information in order to obtain mortgage financing that would not have been granted if the truth had been known.

This can include:

• Misstating one's position or inflating one's income or length of service at their job;
• Misstating employment status (ie. salaried/full time versus contract, part time, hourly or commission-based or self-employed);
• Misrepresenting the amount and/or source of the down payment;
• Purchasing a rental property and misrepresenting it as owner-occupied;
• Not disclosing existing mortgage and/or debt obligations;
• Misrepresenting property details or omitting information in order to inflate the property value;
• Adding co-borrowers who will not be residing in the home and do not intend to take responsibility for the mortgage.

Another common form of fraud is when a con artist convinces someone with good credit to act as a "straw buyer." A straw buyer is someone who agrees to put his or her name on a mortgage application on behalf of another person. In return for their participation, straw buyers may be offered cash or promised high returns when the property is sold. Often, straw buyers are deceived into believing that they will not be responsible for the mortgage payments.

Consequences of Misrepresentation

Borrowers who misrepresent information and straw buyers who allow a property to be purchased in their name are committing mortgage fraud and will be responsible for any financial shortfall in the event of default. They may also be held criminally responsible for their misrepresentation.

Reporting Fraud

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact your local police department.

Source: CAAMP

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Americans Weigh In On Best Options for Updates to Nutrition Label

March 7, 2014 2:33 am

The FDA unveiled proposed changes to the 20-year-old nutrition label on food packaging. Changes include increased focus on calories, added sugar, critical vitamins and minerals, recalibration of the daily-recommended value of sodium, and how serving sizes are determined. Data show missed opportunities, as the top three most beneficial changes are not addressed in new design proposal.

A new poll from Heart+Mind Strategies shows the single-most beneficial change to the nutrition label to be a radical design change as opposed to what information is shared. Nearly one third of Americans (32 percent) reported creating a star or check system for each food (where more stars means a healthier food) would be the most beneficial to them personally.

Additionally, some of the least beneficial changes involve the new nutrition label, such as the increased emphasis on calories and revised serving size calculations. Full ranking of the changes tested for the poll follows:

• Creating a star or check system for each food (32 percent)
• Separating good fats from bad fats (19 percent)
• Ditching the metric system (14 percent)
• Separating out natural sugar from added sugar (14 percent)
• Calculations based on larger serving sizes (12 percent)
• Enhanced focus on calories (7 percent)
• Listing added wheat (3 percent)

Notably, all changes tested in the poll were public recommendations by a variety of experts, organizations, and individuals.

"People are always looking for a quick, reliable way to digest a lot of complex information," said Heart+Mind Strategies CEO Dee Allsop, Ph.D. and research consultant on two government labeling projects. "In point-of-sale environments from the car dealership to the grocery aisle, a picture really is worth a thousand words and enhances consumer confidence in the decision-making process."

According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, more than 60 percent of Americans use the nutrition fact label when deciding to purchase food. Yet Heart+Mind Strategies found just over one-quarter (28 percent) report the nutrition label as being the most important decision-making influencer when buying food—taste is the leader (39 percent) and price just barely trails nutrition (26 percent).

When it comes to food and diet in general, Americans are predominantly focused on what they put in their bodies (70 percent) as opposed to what they keep out (30 percent). And more than half the country (53 percent) considers themselves the best judge on whether or not a food is right or wrong for them. Importantly, the nutrition label has the second most influence on that diagnosis (41 percent), while a doctor's recommendations bear relatively little weight on that decision at all (6 percent).

People are making food choices in a broad range of settings every day, from a grocery store or vending machine to restaurants or their own homes. Whether looking for something convenient, filling, or quick, there is always competition. The new nutrition label must not only be easy to understand, but easy to see (from say behind the vending machine glass or top shelf of the store), and quickly comparable to other choices.

Source: Heart+Mind Strategies

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Learning the Difference between Mold Contractors

March 7, 2014 2:33 am

Mold removal in a home or business is an expense that most property owners do not plan for. However, when toxic mold spores infest a residential or commercial building due to excessive moisture, flooding, sewage backup, or any other water damage, remediation is necessary to prevent harmful health risks to occupants of the property as well as preventing deadly structural damages to the building itself. Due to the inherent health risks, mold remediation is part of an industry that is heavily protected by third-party governing bodies like the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Certification (IICRC) as well as the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA.

Hiring a mold removal contractor is a process in which property owners must exercise extreme precaution before choosing the right company for the job. Finding the right contractor means more than finding the best bargain price for services. Residential and commercial mold remediation requires certified technicians and project managers to carefully map out a scope of work while completing the service with precision and caution. Knowing the difference between mold contractors who follow these strict guidelines as opposed to the general restoration companies who may potentially cut corners to save time and money can save property owners a lot of time, money, resources, and property damage.

First and foremost, proper containment must be set up in order to ensure the safety of the property's inhabitants as well as to prevent the spread of the toxic fungus to other areas of the home or business. Setting up suitable containment can only be learned via certification courses offered by third-party governing bodies of the restoration industry like the IICRC. Without utilizing proper training techniques or adhering to the IICRC's S520 Guidelines for Mold Remediation, home and business owners risk their health as well as the structural integrity of their infested property.

Another detail that highlights the difference between mold contractors and general contractors only attempting to remove mold is the use of chemicals and cleaning agents that should not be utilized when dealing with the eradication of toxic mold. The EPA and OSHA have devised a precise list of safe and eco-friendly cleaning agents that should be used during mold remediation. Many of these cleaning agents are deemed safe enough to use in hospitals and schools around the U.S. If a general contractor is unaware of the IICRC Guidelines and practices, it is likely that harsh, unapproved chemicals may be used during the mitigation process.

Source: SI Restoration

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Parents Urged to Check Their Window Coverings

March 7, 2014 2:33 am

The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) is reminding parents and caregivers of the potential dangers posed by window cords, and is urging them to only use cordless window covering products in homes with young children. Owners and renters alike should replace all corded window coverings in their homes with today's safer products.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), corded window coverings are one of the top five hidden hazards in American homes, with infants and children dying each year from accidentally strangling in window cords. Some of these incidents involve older products that are still in use and do not have the safety devices or designs instituted in the past decade.

"Parents who replace their window coverings with the cordless products available can feel more confident about their child's safety," explains WCSC Executive Director Peter Rush.

To maximize window cord safety when young children are present, consumers are urged to follow these safety guidelines:

• Install only cordless window coverings in homes with young children. Replace corded blinds, shades and draperies with today's safer products.
• If you cannot install newer products, order a free window cord retrofit kit from www.windowcoverings.org. The installation of the retrofit kit is not intended to be a substitute for installing cordless products in homes with young children.
• Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
• Ensure that all window cords are out of sight and reach, and that they are inaccessible to young children.

Source: Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC)

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It's Time to Spring Your Home Forward

March 6, 2014 2:27 am

It's hard to imagine that spring is just around the corner when parts of the country are still buried in snow and winter keeps on packing a frigid punch. This weekend marks the start of daylight-saving time, offering a welcome sign that spring is indeed calling while giving us all something to look forward to after a long, cold winter.  

On March 9, set your clocks ahead one hour and prepare to savor more daylight in the evenings. Daylight-saving time is the perfect reminder to complete basic maintenance projects that have been forgotten or postponed, so as you circle your home resetting the clocks, take some extra time to complete the following tasks and projects that are sure to bring the feeling of spring a little closer.   

Switch Out Light Bulbs – Replace conventional bulbs with energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs so you can start saving more energy and money. With the recent phase out of incandescent bulbs, energy-efficient halogen bulbs, a favorite among interior designers, have also emerged as a popular replacement option.

Replace Batteries – Remove your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detector batteries and replace with fresh batteries. Consider testing your devices to ensure they are working appropriately.

Change Air Filters – It's important to change air filters regularly to maximize the efficiency of your home's heater and air conditioner while ensuring the air you breathe is clean.

Spring Clean – Use the extra hour to conduct a thorough cleaning of your home. Start by clearing the clutter and organizing your kitchen, closets and commonly used living spaces. Freshen your home by adding a purifying houseplant with a favorite spring blossom to complement your home's decor.

Add Color – Let go of the blues and grays of winter and add a pop of color to your home in a fresh, airy paint color. Paint reigns as the No. 1 do-it-yourself project because of its ability to make an instant impact without breaking the budget. In just a few hours and with as little as $50, you can makeover the look of a room by adding an accent wall or reviving a dated piece of furniture.

Source: Lowe’s

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Insulation: The Key to Ending Drafts and Cutting Utility Bills

March 6, 2014 2:27 am

(BPT) - Whether it's the chill of winter or the heat of summer, our natural instincts are to adjust the indoor temperature so it is comfortable through every season. But if your home has any drafts or air leaks, expect indoor temperatures to fluctuate dramatically.

Leaks and drafts can hinder the performance of your heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Why? Conditioned air continually escapes the home due to the gaps within the building envelope, and HVAC equipment will work overtime to reach the thermostat's set temperature. What's more, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests that air leakage contributes to potential moisture problems that can affect occupant health and the home's durability.

While traditional stop-gap solutions, such as placing runners by doors, may provide some relief, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends homeowners take a comprehensive approach. First, detect where the air leaks are within your home. A certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater will be able to help you identify such areas as well as help assess your ventilation needs for indoor air quality.

Once all sources of air leaks have been identified, air sealing techniques and materials can be applied. Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most popular and common techniques that can help address air leaks. However building experts will suggest considering solutions that go further in terms of air-sealing. A recent study by the Building Science Corporation showed that heat transfer was much lower in a home equipped with spray foam insulation than with other, more traditional materials such as fiberglass or cellulose. The reduction, about 15 percent, indicates minimal thermal transmission and better block of heat transference, which can have a significant impact on how homeowners heat and cool their home.

Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and help reduce the strain on HVAC equipment. Spray foam insulation both insulates and air seals the entire building envelope letting homeowners cut their monthly heating and cooling bills by as much as 50 percent in some cases.

As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year-round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com.

While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months.

Source: www.icynene.com

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How to Find a Qualified Window Installer

March 6, 2014 2:27 am

If you’re thinking about replacing the windows in your home, make sure to invest as much time in finding a qualified window installer as you do in selecting the right windows for your house.

Locating a qualified window installer in your area may be easier than you think. Along with the traditional ways of locating installers, such as the Yellow Pages and searching businesses online, here are some fast and easy recommendations from the experts at Simonton Windows to help you find the best installers in your area:

Tip #1 – Go to a window manufacturer’s website to see if they have a preferred installer program. Many window manufacturers require contractors to go through classes and training sessions to make sure they understand the specifics of proper window installation. Once they achieve a preferred installer status, these professionals are then promoted on the company’s website in a geographic breakdown, so it’s easy for you to locate an installer that meets the company’s criteria in your area.

Tip #2 – If you’re purchasing your windows through a major home improvement center, such as The Home Depot, they will have an installer program. You can hire your installers through the home center at the same time that you order your windows.

Tip #3 – Ask your local lumberyards, distribution centers and building product dealerships for recommendations on quality window installers in your area.

Tip #4 – Visit a website like 1800contractor.com, Home Advisor or Angie’s List. Let them match you up with installers in your specific geographic area to receive installation quotes.

Tip #5 – Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations of installers they’ve used in the past. Select those whose services have been stand-out top quality with your friends.

Source: Simonton.com

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Make Lawn Mower Engine Tune-ups a Rite of Spring

March 5, 2014 2:24 am

It's easier than ever to get your lawn mower ready for spring. From a tune-up kit to an oil evacuation kit to free oil recycling, an engine tune-up for your push lawn mower engine takes only 30 minutes or less. Riding mower engines may require an oil filter or fuel filter, which could add five to 10 minutes to the job.

While many homeowners perform annual tune-ups on their lawn mower engines, there are still many across the country that don't perform this important basic small engine maintenance, putting their equipment at risk.

"Homeowners simply want their lawn mower to start when they need it for that first cut of spring and a simple tune-up can make the difference between a hassle-free start and frustrating trips for service," said Synoilva Shaw, with Briggs & Stratton. "While the source of most starting problems is old gasoline, which goes stale in about 30 days, a tune-up can help extend the life of the mower engine and keep it running at peak performance."

Lawn Mower Tune-Up in 4 Easy Steps

Briggs & Stratton research shows that tuning up a push mower engine can reduce engine emissions by as much as 30 percent and involves just four easy steps:

-Changing the mower oil
-Replacing the air filter
-Replacing the spark plug
-Adding fuel preservative to the gasoline

Small Engine Tune-up Kit

A basic push mower engine tune-up kit costs under $12.99 and includes an air filter, spark plug, bottle of oil and a pouch of fuel treatment and stabilizer. A lawn tractor tune-up kit includes the same as a push mower kit with the addition of a fuel and/or oil filter and costs under $39.99. Tune-up kits are available for purchase online or at authorized dealers and home improvement stores. 

Oil Evacuation Kits for Lawn Mowers

Two options are available for oil evacuation kits – one that removes oil only and another that removes both oil and fuel. These kits help eliminate the need for consumers to tip the mower to drain the oil during a tune-up, making it easier to change the oil and reducing the possibility of an oil spill in the garage or driveway. Oil evacuation kits costs between $23 and $31 and are available for purchase online or at authorized dealers and home improvement stores. 

Disposing of Used Engine Oil

Participating Briggs & Stratton dealers nationwide make recycling oil easy and have recycled more than 200,000 gallons of used engine oil to date. Simply drop off your used oil in a closed container and let your dealer take care of the rest.

Look Before You Pump

Certain gasoline blends should never be used in lawn mower engines and other small gas engines. Fuel blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol, like E15 or E85 gasoline, or gasoline containing other alcohol blends can damage small gas engines. Look for the "Look Before You Pump" warning logo on new models or find more information from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute at www.opei.org.

Source: Briggs & Stratton

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Spring Fever? Here are Five Simple Ways to Turn your Current Deck into a Dream Outdoor Oasis

February 28, 2014 2:06 am

(BPT) – It's easy to dream of perfectly pristine outdoor spaces when looking at the decks in magazines and online, but too often what we want and what we have don't align. If your deck suffers from weathered wood, loose railings or dated balusters, you're not alone. The good news is there are surprisingly simple ways to give your deck a facelift and transform it into the outdoor oasis you want in as little as one weekend.

Consider these five ways you can update your deck and grow your real estate value:

1. Add or update post caps
One of the easiest ways to add a dash of design and even some color and light to your deck is to update your post caps. If you currently have post caps, most can be removed by gently tapping them with a mallet. Then it's an easy DIY project to add new post caps simply by using exterior construction adhesive. These decorative caps come in a variety of styles, including basic wood that can be stained to perfectly coordinate with your existing color scheme. If you want to add a bit more pizzazz to your outdoor space, try classic copper post caps or solar powered caps that illuminate once the sun sets.

2. Replace balusters

Balusters are connected to the railing vertically and provide an important safety feature. But they also add to the visual appeal of the deck and are a main feature in your line of sight. If your wood balusters are worn, you can instantly upgrade your outdoor space with new options. Metal balusters, for example, come in a variety of designs to match any home's style - from contemporary to traditional. Have a stunning view from your deck? Enjoy uninterrupted sight lines with glass balusters that simultaneously maintain a deck's safety and visual appeal.

3. Bring back deck boards
After seasons of changing weather and lots of foot traffic, your wood deck boards may be showing wear. Protect the integrity of the wood and refresh the look of your outdoor space by cleaning deck boards and giving them a new coat of paint or stain. Start by scrubbing or power spraying off dirt and grime, and then let wood dry thoroughly. Next, use stain or paint made specifically for decks to help protect the wood from the elements. Just as indoor paint transforms a room inside your home, new stain or paint on your deck boards will make your outdoor area look new and refreshed, making you feel like you have a whole new outdoor area.

4. Refresh railings

When it comes to deck railings, there are endless options to match any style or price point. You can go with an off-the-shelf product or customize one to fit your personal design aesthetic. For example, Deckorators co-extruded composite CXT railing is ultra-low maintenance and gives you the options to mix-and-match railings, posts, balusters and caps for a look that's entirely your own. Not looking to do a full railing replacement? Sand down wood railings and apply a new coat of stain for an instant update.

5. Install lighting
A great deck will serve as an extension of your home both day and night, but if you don't have proper lighting, you'll be heading indoors once the sun goes down. Add visual appeal and an element of safety to your deck with easy DIY lighting options. Lighting on your stairs adds a splash of drama and makes it easy to get around. Balusters are an often-overlooked item that can provide a great lighting location too. Solar Baluster Lights install around 3/4-inch round balusters with nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver. Finally, Solar Accent Lights can be placed on posts to illuminate pathways and deck edges.

Expanding a home's livable space to the outdoors is a top home improvement trend. With these simple tips, your deck will find new life and you'll be able to enjoy plenty of time outdoors with Mother Nature.

Source: www.deckorators.com

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How to Keep Cold and Flu Infections Out of Your Life

February 27, 2014 2:00 am

If you want to avoid catching a cold or the flu, keep yourself and your surroundings as hygienically clean as possible. Although that can sound like a daunting task, it need not be with a slightly more conscious cleanliness effort. Keeping illness-causing organisms at bay can be largely accomplished by adopting three basic behaviors.

1. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are unavailable.
3. Keep common surfaces around you clean using such aids as microfiber cloths and mops.

If you're going to focus on just one behavior to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible, it should be on keeping your hands clean because that's primarily how germs and viruses infect your body. They hitchhike rides on your hands and then wait for you to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes. At that point, it's all over. You're infected.

Everyone's hands, particularly during cold and flu seasons, are veritable germ factories, so keep them away from your face, says Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, an adjunct associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine. You should even think twice about your eating habits in order to remain cold and flu free, Dr. Fryhofer says.

"I try to bring something (to work) I can eat with a spoon or fork, rather than a sandwich I have to handle," Dr. Fryhofer told www.webmd.com. If not, be extra careful and wash your hands prior to eating.

If soap and water are unavailable, the medical community has long advocated the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. But keep in mind that such sanitizers are only intended to kill bacteria and should not be used to clean your hands of traditional soiling, says Adam Soreff, Director of Marketing for UniFirst, a leading provider of work uniforms and facility service products to businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

"Soap and water should be your first hand-cleaning choice whenever readily available," Soreff says. "But in public areas, such as hallways, offices, and cafeterias, seek out alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations to help keep hands free of infectious organisms."

Hand sanitizers, Soreff notes, should contain at least 60 percent alcohol to kill germs. "Anything less than that runs the risk of being ineffective."

GOJO Industries, the makers of Purell® Hand Sanitizer, offers this guidance to get maximum germ-killing action from sanitizers: "Place enough product in your palm to thoroughly cover your hands. Be sure to sanitize the front and backs of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails. Rub hands together briskly until dry. No rinsing required. No towels needed."

During cold and flu season, you should also be particularly vigilant when touching common surfaces. That's because people who are already infected may have come in contact with those surfaces and left germs and viruses behind. So be wary when touching such things as door handles, computer keyboards, light switches, desks, and countertops. Even flooring can harbor infectious organisms which can hop aboard something you drop, such as a pen or paper clip.

The bottom line: To stay healthy during the cold and flu season, always keep soap, sanitizers, and soiled surrounding surfaces front of mind.

Source: UniFirst

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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