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RE/MAX 440
Mary Southern
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
 Phone: 610-207-2110
Office Phone: 610-584-1160
Cell: 610-207-2110
Fax: 484-991-1837 
mary@marysouthern.com
Mary Southern

Mary's Blog

Real Estate for Your World

Make Holiday Travel Hassle-Free with These 5 Tips

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

During the 2014 holiday season, millions of passengers will be traveling through U.S. airports. This translates into long lines, congested traffic and stress, particularly for those traveling with small children. The travel experts at The GO Group recommend:

Checking your flight before you leave for the airport – Nothing is worse than arriving at the airport and discovering that your flight has been delayed or cancelled. To ensure this won't happen, have your airline notify you about flight status via text or email, or phone your airline before you leave.

Avoiding rush hour – Try to avoid departing during rush hours, which are 6:45 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:45 to 6:30 p.m. Both the traffic to and at the airport will slow you down.

Arriving early – Domestic and international passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure during the holidays when crowds and security are greatest. Be prepared for even longer times in the event of inclement weather and increased security during unforeseen crises or security threats.

Skipping the boarding pass line – If your airline has the option, print your boarding pass before you get to the airport so you do not have to wait in line. Even easier, store your boarding pass in your phone which can be scanned at the airport.

Bypassing lengthy TSA screening – The holidays draw people who don't travel frequently and aren't familiar with the screening process. Traveling with children always takes more time, too. Avoid the aggravation by applying for The TSA Precheck which, for a fee, allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited security screening at 300 participating U.S. airport checkpoints.

Follow these tips for safe, stress free and happy travels!

Source: The GO Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homebuyers Have Mixed Emotions When House Hunting

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

While mostly positive about the process required to own a home, homebuyers report mixed emotions when hunting for the home of their dreams, according to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank.

While overall stress levels about the home buying process are moderate, Americans still have some concerns. Their biggest worry is that they will find something wrong with the house once they move in (79 percent). In addition, 69 percent fear that housing prices will drop after the purchase, and 61 percent fear the possibility of not being able to afford their mortgage.

Based on the survey, homebuyers reported feeling a mix of excitement and fear when shopping for a home.

Feelings Associated with Home Buying

                          All Homebuyers          First-time Homebuyers
Excited             44 percent                   47 percent
Hopeful           33 percent                   43 percent
Cautious         32 percent                   26 percent
Optimistic       28 percent                   26 percent
Happy              26 percent                   37 percent
Anxious           25 percent                   31 percent

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Save on Splurge-Worthy Home Styles

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

(Family Features) In the design world, alternative materials that emulate high-end looks are coveted for their lower price point, low maintenance qualities and close resemblance to the real thing. For a lavish update to your home’s décor, incorporate these budget-friendly alternatives.

1. Bling
– Sparkling golden tones are on trend this season, but few homeowners have the financial means to deck out their homes with mirrors, sconces and other decorative items made of genuine gold. Fortunately, these are available in finishes that mimic the look of real gold, with price tags that won’t break the bank.

2. Trendy tile
– Instead of spending a fortune on hardwood flooring or natural stone, consider installing wood- or stone-look porcelain tiles that eliminate concerns for water damage, warping or wear and tear.

3. Natural elements – Feature walls made of natural materials like grass cloth and bark can add a unique quality to any room, but can also be damaged easily in high-traffic areas. Get the look for less by selecting a vinyl option that simulates the natural material.

4. Stylish wall treatments
–Forget expensive faux paint finishes that give the illusion of depth. Using some simple painting tools, multi-tone paint and a material such as joint compound, you can inexpensively create a stucco surface that adds genuine texture you can see and feel.

5. Touchable textiles – Contemporary designers rely on opulent textiles like leather, suede and fur to create a high-end atmosphere. Enjoy the same look without the expense by opting for synthetic versions, which prove more practical for everyday wear and tear.

Achieving a trendy, lavish style for your home doesn't have to cost a fortune, and often, imitation materials will deliver comparable results that stand up better to the test of time.

Source: Daltile

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Five Secrets to Savings This Holiday Season

November 4, 2014 1:51 am

With holidays often an expensive time for families, spenders should remain vigilant when shopping for gifts and household essentials. To score maximum savings, experts recommend shopping at specific times to take advantage of big sales or online bargains.

1. Beat Black Friday deals. The best way to score holiday bargains might be to wait for Cyber Monday. Last year, the biggest markdowns were on that day, followed by Thanksgiving (the biggest day for coupons), and Black Friday. Look for sales on electronics, but also expect more door busters in other categories, including clothing, home goods, and health and beauty items.

2. Buy groceries on Wednesday nights. Grocery stores often start their new sales on Wednesdays but may still honor the previous week’s deals. Many stores also get their deliveries on Mondays and Tuesdays, so shoppers should find a good selection. And shopping later in the day means that you might get extra markdowns on bakery items, meat, produce, and other perishables.

3. Scope holiday bargains. To maximize savings, shoppers should plan their holiday shopping in advance. A good first step is to sneak a peek at sales on websites such as blackfriday.com, blackfriday.gottadeal.com, cybermonday.com, and cybermonday2014.com.

4. Wait to buy. It can pay to hold off on buying toys and winter items, such as ski jackets and sleds, until the last minute because they tend to be cheaper right before the holidays. However, those who have a wish-list toy, or need a certain color and size, should not wait. Just choose a retailer that will issue a refund if the price drops.

5. Get gift cards for less. No present is easier than a gift card, especially those looking for a last-minute solution. But if they plan ahead, shoppers can buy gift cards for less at warehouse clubs like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club.

Source: Consumer Reports

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What You Need to Know about Indoor Allergens

November 4, 2014 1:51 am

Fall is ragweed season, which causes misery for millions of people who are allergic to its pollen. In fact, ragweed is considered to be the most significant allergy trigger in the fall, though there are other plants that also release pollen during this time of year. Depending on where a person lives, ragweed pollen may be present up to and through November.

Mold is another common outdoor allergen during the fall. Piles of damp leaves or other organic material make for an ideal place for mold to grow and release spores into the air.

“For those who experience allergies all year long, they should also consider possible indoor allergens that they may be exposed to on a regular basis,” said Joseph Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Common indoor contaminants include mold, dust mites, pet dander, latex, insect and rodent allergens. Families should take corrective actions to minimize their exposure or to eliminate the source of the allergen from their home.”

These air quality contaminants can be a concern to people spending time both outdoors and indoors, as these allergens can enter homes and buildings through open doors and windows, on people’s clothes and through air intakes in HVAC systems. For some people, these same airborne allergens could even trigger an asthma attack.

When people who are allergic to these substances come into contact with them, their immune system releases antibodies that attack the allergens. Histamines are released into the body and trigger the allergic reactions common to so many people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, “Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.”

Source: EMSL Analytical

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Five Ways to Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle

November 4, 2014 1:51 am

(Family Features) When you set out to make life changes such as weight loss or adopting a more active lifestyle, it can be tempting to look for shortcuts that expedite your path toward your end goal. However, long-term success is more attainable for those who take a slow and steady approach that puts health first.

"There are dozens of reasons people look to develop healthier eating habits, ranging from weight loss to disease prevention," said Rene Ficek, registered dietitian and nutrition expert for Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating (SSHE). "Regardless of the motivation, success begins with a well-balanced eating plan that is based on sound nutrition and physical activity."

Ficek offers this advice to individuals looking for a new approach to eating:
  • Adopting a healthy diet is the key to successful, long-term weight loss. A healthy diet provides adequate calories and nutrients to support your body's energy and nutritional needs while allowing you to shed an average of 1-2 pounds per week.
  • Be wary of diet plans that promise loss of five or more pounds per week, which is unrealistic and unhealthy.
  • Look for a meal plan that takes the guesswork out of eating right by serving calorie- and portion-controlled meals that reflect a well-balanced diet.
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you have been primarily sedentary, start slowly with a moderate walk each day, working up to more aggressive cardiovascular exercise and weight training to develop muscle.
  • Find ways to make your new lifestyle as convenient as possible, such as meal programs that save on grocery shopping and cooking time or gyms that specialize in short, well-rounded workouts.
Source: Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating

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Guard Financial Information Stored in Smartphones

November 3, 2014 4:24 am

With banking apps, note taking features and other platforms available on smartphones, users are increasingly susceptible to security breaches by way of stored financial information. If you access a bank account through an app or keep a list of answers to security questions in your phone, take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft and financial ruin.

1. Bank safely.
If you use a banking app, set it to require login information each and every time you sign in. Ensure your app is logged out and closed completely when you are finished.

2. Be cautious with email. If sending sensitive documents, such as tax returns or credit card information, do so at your own risk.

3. Swap passwords frequently. Change out your passwords on a regular basis, and do not use the same password for every financial account. Strengthen your password by using information that is in no way personal to you.

4. Download apps from reputable sources only. Reliable platforms include the iTunes store and Google Play. Be sure to read reviews before downloading.

5. Take note of permissions. Some apps request permissions that can do more harm than good. Do not hesitate to set specific consent parameters that keep the app from viewing too much information.

Source: Bankrate.com

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Avoid Cooking Fires in Your Kitchen

November 3, 2014 4:24 am

According to the National Fire Protection Association, two out of every five home fires involve cooking appliances, and half of those fires spark from grease, oil or fat. While you’re preparing meals, keep in mind these safety tips.
  • Stay in your kitchen when broiling, frying or grilling. If you’re baking, roasting or simmering, remain in your home and check on food frequently.
  • Ensure batteries in your smoke alarms are in proper working order. Keep a fire extinguisher with a minimum 5-B:C rating nearby for easy access.
  • Have a lid on hand to smother small fires. Cover the fire by turning off the burner and sliding the lid over the pan.
  • For oven fires, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to contain smoke.
  • If a fire is too big to control, leave your home immediately and call 911.
Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homeowners: Radon Testing Saves Lives

November 3, 2014 4:24 am

Exposure to colorless, odorless radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It can seep into homes, workplaces and other buildings through cracks in the walls or foundation.

"The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it," says Mike Holmes, star of HGTV series Holmes Makes It Right and owner of Mike Holmes Inspections. "One house can have radon levels next to zero while the house next door can be off the charts."

If the radon level in your house is high, it’s not hard to fix. A certified radon technician costs about the same as other common home repairs, like furnace or air conditioner replacements. With the help of a professional, homeowners can reduce radon levels by more than 80 percent.

Source: The Lung Association

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Most Insurance Covers Havoc Caused by Halloween Tricksters

October 31, 2014 1:48 am

Halloween can be scary, but having the right insurance coverage can take some of the fright out of the night. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), your insurance policies provide financial protection for a host of disasters whether they occur on Halloween or any other day.

“If you’re worried about Halloween tricksters who may cause damage to your home, there’s probably little to fear,” said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations, I.I.I. “But do contact your insurance professional with questions or concerns about your homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Standard homeowners and renters insurance will provide coverage for the following:

Vandalism
– In the event your home or your personal possessions are damaged by neighborhood tricksters, homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief. You are on your own, however, when it comes to removing the toilet paper from your front yard!

Fire – If a jack-o-lantern or other decoration goes up in flames and damages your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover fire-related losses. And, should the blaze make your home uninhabitable, additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will pay for alternate accommodations, such as a hotel, while your home is being repaired.

Injuries
– The liability portion of a homeowners or renters policy comes into play if a Halloween party guest, or a trick-or-treater is injured while at your house or apartment. These policies also include no-fault medical coverage so the injured person can file their claim directly with your insurer. And if Fido gets a little skittish from all the commotion and accidently nips a trick-or-treater, your liability coverage includes damages or injuries caused by pets.

Source: I.I.I.

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