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

Mary's Blog

Real Estate for Your World

5 Property Maintenance Tips for Fall

September 21, 2016 1:51 am


Fall is an often overlooked season when it comes to property maintenance, but it is one the most crucial times of year to care for your landscape—ahead of winter, when the elements make it challenging to take measures for a healthy yard come spring.

“While many homeowners consider spring and summer to be the time for tackling landscaping projects, fall is actually a prime season for lawn care and landscaping,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of Public Affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), in a recent release. “Being diligent in fall landscaping will allow your lawn and garden to withstand their long winter’s nap, and will certainly pay dividends next spring. In addition, thoughtful planning can allow your outdoor living spaces to be enjoyed throughout the cold weather months.”

The best place to start, according to Henriksen, is to consult with a lawn care professional. A professional can not only advise you as to what steps to take now, but also help you plan next year’s landscape.

Following that consult, the NALP’s tips include:

Mulch – Adding two to three inches of mulch around your trees and on garden beds will protect them from the elements come winter.

Rake – Removing dead leaves, either by composting or mulching with a mower, will give your lawn access to sunlight through winter, as well as stave off diseases.

Seed – Overseeding your lawn will fill in patchy areas at a time when grass grows sans weeds—ideal for healthy root growth. Fertilizing and aerating your lawn is also key.

Inspect – Assessing your trees for signs of damage, disease or stress before winter will help avoid breakage and safety issues in the months ahead. Having a professional on hand to trim or remove damaged trees is vital.

Plant – Planting fall varieties will bring life to your landscape now and next year—asters, black-eyed Susans, Chinese lanterns, goldenrod and snapdragons are all ideal.

Source: National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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A Multitude of Tips for Multiple Offer Situations – Pt. 2

September 21, 2016 1:51 am


Multiple offer situations, or cases in which more than one competing offer is placed on a home, can be challenging for a home seller.

Knowledge is half the battle when navigating the multiple bid minefield. Below are insights and tips from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) all sellers should be mindful of:

• In a multiple offer situation, your listing agent will share various negotiating strategies for you to consider—you might accept the “best” offer, for example, or you might inform all potential buyers that other offers are “on the table” and invite them to make their “best” offer. You might instead “counter” one offer while putting the other offers to the side, or “counter” one offer and reject the others.

• Each of the approaches above has advantages and disadvantages, and though your agent will explain them to you, it is ultimately your decision as to which strategy to take. Inviting buyers to make their “best” offer may produce an offer (or offers) better than those “on the table,” or it may discourage buyers who feel they’ve already made a fair offer and cause them to break off negotiations. Bear outcomes like this in mind as you weigh your options.

• A multiple offer situation will inevitably become a one offer situation, leaving other buyers disappointed. Fair and honest treatment throughout the process, as well as prompt, ongoing and open communication, will help buyers—successful or not—walk away without ill will.

Keep in mind, most importantly, that your agent’s guidance is based on experience, and is no guarantee as to how any particular buyer will react. Above all, your best line of defense is an agent seasoned in multiple offer situations.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What to Buy (and Not to Buy) in September

September 20, 2016 1:48 am


The perfect storm of Labor Day, back-to-school and end-of-summer clearance sales make September ideal for bargain-hunters. From consumer watchdog DealNews.com, here’s the scoop on what’s best to buy in September—and what purchases to put on the back burner:

Summer Apparel – No surprise here—retailers ranging from big-box outlets to designers blow out summer styles in September. Pro tip: Buy for your family now and stow it for next year.
 
Grills/Patio Furniture – Like summer apparel, leftover grill and patio furniture inventory goes on sale in September. Look for items stacked at the front of hardware and home stores for the best bargains.
 
Big-Screen TVs – The best big-screen buys in September are on mid-size models (the perfect size for apartments or dorm rooms), but larger sizes are often marked down, as well.
 
Mattresses – Historically, the best times to purchase a new mattress were in April or May—but Labor Day sales are becoming another contender. Pro tip: Double-down on a deal by using coupons on top of sale prices.
 
Laptops – Seventy-five percent of laptops are discounted considerably for back-to-school season. Big-box electronics providers are your best bet for the best deals.
 
Previous-Generation iPhones
– There are appreciable savings to be had on older iPhones in September, when the new model typically rolls out. Rock-bottom bargains on these devices can be found on online auction sites, like eBay.
 
Textbooks – Both buyers and sellers of textbooks can expect deals in September, when need is highest.
 
DealNews.com advises shoppers to hold off on buying washers, dryers and other large appliances, as well as some electronics, in September. While the month brings decent sales on these items, Black Friday sales in November have historically yielded better savings.
 

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National Preparedness Month: Tips for Homeowners

September 20, 2016 1:48 am


Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, often with no warning. September, National Preparedness Month, is the ideal time to prepare your household for these types of events.

“Your family's safety is top priority when a disaster happens,” says Pete Duncanson of ServiceMaster Restore. “It starts with having plan: Have a ‘go bag’ ready to quickly grab and go during an evacuation, have a meeting place for your family in the event you're displaced, and have an outside contact for your entire family. Plan for emergency food and medications for the entire family, including pets.”

The ‘go bag’ Duncanson refers to should contain three days’ worth of emergency essentials, such as water, non-perishable food, medications and clothing. Other supplies may include flashlights, a radio, your home insurance or utility providers’ contact information, or rain gear.

Make it a habit, Duncanson adds, to review your homeowners insurance policy documents (and any other important papers) a few times each year. Consider making electronic copies of them so that they can be easily accessed if they’re damaged in a disaster—a secured thumb drive is the best method to store them.

Most important when disaster strikes, Duncanson says, is to put safety first—not your possessions. Evacuate immediately if instructed to do so, even if you must leave behind your belongings.

If your home is habitable after a disaster but requires cleanup, avoid approaching the task by yourself, says Duncanson—a DIY effort can make damage worse, causing unnecessary expenses, and be detrimental to your health. Have a restoration professional assess the damage within 48 hours of the disaster to prevent bacteria or mold growth.

“When a disaster occurs in a home or business, response time is critical,” says Duncanson.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Safety Tips for Your Household This Fall

September 20, 2016 1:48 am


As a household, transitioning from a summer of spontaneity to a fall full of activities can move safety by the wayside. Still, it’s vital to carve out time in your schedule to prioritize it, says Rebecca Smith, vice president of Marketing for Master Lock.

“During the fall, many families’ schedules are busier than ever, but it’s still important for parents to make safety and security a priority,” says Smith. “Now that school year routines are established, it’s a perfect time to address safety topics with your children, such as guidelines for staying safe at home and on the go.”

Smith and Master Lock recommend the following tips for parents:

Teach your children to note their surroundings. As dusk and darkness creep up earlier each day, remind your children to follow safety precautions, whether walking home or just to a parked car. Instruct them to stick with a friend or in a group, if possible, and to stay in well-lit areas, avoid short cuts and observe traffic rules.

Review bike safety. If your children will be riding their bikes to school or extracurricular activities, review the rules of the road with them—following traffic signals, riding with traffic, stopping at stop signs, etc. Make certain, also, that they’re outfitted with bright-colored clothing and a helmet.

Establish a "home alone" routine. Set guidelines for older children who may be home without supervision, either after school or during activities on weekends. These may include calling to check in, locking the door immediately after entering the house (and not answering the door for strangers) and reviewing emergency phone numbers.

Observe fire safety. Establish a household fire evacuation plan, which involves visiting each room in the home to designate two exits (in each) and ensure they open. Determine a safe meeting place outside of the home, as well, and practice the evacuation periodically.

Putting these tips into practice will set safe habits for your children, now and beyond the season. For safety and security products for your home, visit MasterLock.com.

Source: Master Lock
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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4 Habits of Productive People

September 19, 2016 1:45 am


(Family Features)—Appointments, meetings, tasks…life can get hectic both professionally and personally. Staying productive on a packed schedule can be difficult, but it’s not impossible—especially if you practice the following habits:

1. Rest – It seems counterproductive (pun intended), but without enough rest, it's all the more challenging to stay on top of your schedule. It may be difficult initially to carve out time to rest, but it will pay off in the long run—even if you do something as simple as putting away your computer or phone an hour before bedtime.

2. Schedule Everything – Schedule all obligations on a calendar—mundane included. Having this information readily accessible frees up brain space for the more important tasks in your day.

3. Embrace Technology – Many tools today make keeping track easier than ever. One such tool is the “smartpad,” an alternative to paper notebooks with the benefit of digitizing every idea or reminder so that they’re available from any device.

4. Keep Clean – Messy areas can make you feel disorganized and overwhelmed, hindering your ability to be productive. Sprucing up at the end of each day helps you “wind down,” preparing you to be just as productive tomorrow.

What habits do you practice to stay productive?
 
Source: Wacom
 

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Climate Control, Lighting, Security Most Popular Smart Home Upgrades

September 19, 2016 1:45 am


More homeowners are springing for a smart home makeover, so much so that renovated homes today are more than twice as likely to include a smart system or device, according to the recently released U.S. Houzz Smart Home Trends Survey. The results of the survey, which, in conjunction with CEDIA, assessed nearly 1,000 renovators either planning, in the midst of, or who have recently completed a home renovation, indicate 45 percent of homeowners are incorporating (or have incorporated) smart home technology as part of a renovation.

“Our data sheds light on how renovating homeowners are embracing smart technology,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “These homeowners aim to improve the comfort, convenience, safety and energy usage of their home during their renovations, and smart technology appears to address many of their needs.”

Why the smart move? Homeowners are installing smart home technology for:

Safety/Security
Twenty-five percent of homeowners surveyed upgrade to features with smart technology to protect their homes against intruders (67 percent) or control and monitor the safety of their homes while they’re away (52 percent). The majority of those upgrading for safety/security reasons spend $1,500 or less.

Climate Control
Fourteen percent of homeowners surveyed upgrade to features with smart technology to improve the comfort of their homes (71 percent), reduce energy consumption (68 percent) or control and monitor the device while they’re away (41 percent). The majority of those upgrading for climate control spend between $1,501 and $2,500.

Lighting
Twelve percent of homeowners surveyed upgrade to features with smart technology to reduce energy consumption (59 percent), improve the comfort their homes (54 percent) or change the “mood” or “vibe” of their homes (34 percent). The majority of those upgrading for lighting spend $1,500 or less.

The most common smart home devices, according to the survey’s results, are:

• Fire/Gas Alarms
• Cameras
• Door/Glass/Motion Sensors
• Door Locks/Video Doorbells
• Thermostat
• Television
• Speakers
• Video/Music Streaming
• Indoor/Outdoor Lighting

“While many homeowners report difficulty learning about and finding the right smart products to fit their needs, high levels of adoption and satisfaction among renovators are sound predictors of a wider reliance on these technologies among the general public in the near future,” Sitchinava concludes.

Source: CEDIA
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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A Multitude of Tips for Multiple Offer Situations – Pt. 1

September 19, 2016 1:45 am


Multiple offer situations, or cases in which more than one competing offer is placed on a home, can be challenging for a homebuyer, especially one new to the process.

Knowledge is half the battle when navigating the multiple bid minefield. Below are insights and tips from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) all buyers should be mindful of.

• While a listing agent can offer advice and suggestions, all decisions about how offers will be presented—and dealt with—are made by the seller. Your agent likely has other buyer clients, some of whom may be interested in the same properties as you are, so ask how offers and counter-offers will be presented and negotiated.

• Sellers can handle multiple offers in the following ways: accept the “best” offer; inform all potential purchasers that other offers are “on the table;” “counter” one offer while holding others awaiting a decision on the counter offer; or counter one offer while rejecting the others.

• Generally, purchase offers are not confidential—in some cases, sellers may make other buyers aware that your offer is in hand, or even disclose details about your offer to another buyer in the hope of convincing that buyer to make a “better” offer. You may want to discuss the possibility of making an offer confidential, or establishing a confidentiality agreement between you and the seller, with your agent prior to negotiations.

• There are advantages and disadvantages to various strategies. A low initial offer may result in obtaining the property for less than the listed price, or it may result in another buyer’s higher offer being accepted. On the other hand, a full price offer may result in paying more than the seller might have required. In some instances, there can be several full price offers competing for the seller’s attention—and acceptance.

Keep in mind, most importantly, that your agent’s guidance is based on experience, and is no guarantee as to how any particular seller will act (or react). Above all, your best line of defense is an agent seasoned in multiple offer situations.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Keeping Up with the Joneses—and All Your Friends on Facebook

September 16, 2016 1:39 am


The desire to “keep up with the Joneses”—that is, match a lifestyle—has spread to social media, with the circle of “Joneses” wider than ever, according to recent survey by Harris Poll and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The results of the survey reveal a pattern: most of us feel envious of our social media friends who share lavish experiences and purchases online, but we also share lavish experiences and purchases online.

“Social media has vastly expanded the number of ‘neighbors’ people are trying to keep up with,” says Gregory Anton, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Some people are purposefully curating a more glamorous image on social media and, unfortunately, it can have a negative financial impact on their friends and followers who feel compelled to keep up with them.”

Notably, a significant portion of survey respondents admitted to being likely to choose an experience or purchase based on how their social media followers will respond to it—and some even shared an experience or purchase because it seemed “expensive” or “fancy.”

The pressure to “keep up” is felt strongest by younger social media users, the survey also found. Millennial respondents were more than twice as likely as baby boomer respondents to report feeling envious of their social media friends’ and followers’ experiences or purchases.

“People, in particular those just beginning their careers, would be better served spending their money maxing out their 401(k) and paying down debt, instead of trying to one-up their friends on social media,” Anton says. “While smart financial moves may not get the most likes or retweets, building a solid financial foundation should take priority over building a social media following.”

Source: American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Climate Change Calls for Fortified Homes

September 16, 2016 1:39 am


With the likelihood of extreme weather events ever-growing, fortifying homes to withstand the elements has become crucial. One such fortification is window film, a once-commercial innovation that is now making its way into the residential market.

“Homeowners need to be aware of the risks posed by extreme weather,” Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA), says. “Professionally-installed window film provides an increased level of protection that can help to reduce damage to family members or their homes in the event of broken windows, no matter the cause of the breakage.”

Window film is a thin, permanent sheet of coating that binds shards of glass together, according to the IWFA. It protects primarily against the effects of high winds, which can produce projectiles that could shatter a home’s windows and endanger its occupants. It also comes with the added benefits of barring burglars and deflecting heat from the sun.

Window film does not reduce visibility to the outside of home, preserving views and security, and does not alter the appearance of windows themselves—it is available in many shades, from virtually clear to medium to dark.

Window film is subjected to third-party testing to confirm its performance, the IWFA states. It also adheres to safety guidelines and standards for burglary intrusion, human impact, fire safety and glass fragment protection.

For determine if window film is right for your home, learn more at IWFA.com.

Source: International Window Film Association (IWFA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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