RE/MAX 440
Maureen Fitzgerald
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
 Phone: 215-643-3200 1824
Office Phone: 215-643-3200
Cell: 215-530-6438
Fax: 267-354-6880 
mfitzgerald@remaxcentralinc.com
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Maureen Fitzgerald

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Winter Heating Safety From Sports to Space Heaters

February 1, 2018 1:18 am

Although chilly, winter can be a magical season full of cuddling by fires and flying down ski slopes. However, winter also brings many Americans to the emergency room annually. Read the following tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for navigating the winter weather safely.

Space Heaters – Give Them Space

- Keep flammable materials, including curtains and bedding, at least 3 feet away from space heaters.
- Place the heater on a stable, level surface. Make sure it will not be knocked over.
- Never power the heater with an extension cord or power strip. Do not leave the heater on while you are not there or while you are sleeping.
- Have working smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom. The early warning provided by smoke alarms can save your life.

Snow Blower Hazards – Clear Snow Safely

- Most snow blower injuries occur when consumers try to clear snow from the discharge chute.
- First, stop the engine. Use a long stick, NOT your hands, to unclog wet snow and debris from the  machine.
- NEVER leave the machine running in an enclosed area. The exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide which can kill in minutes.
- Finally, don't add gasoline to a running or hot engine, and always keep the gasoline can capped correctly.

Carbon Monoxide – The Invisible Killer

- Use portable generators outside your home and place them at least 20 feet away. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage. The exhaust from portable generators contains poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) which can kill in minutes.
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every year, including furnaces and chimneys.
- Never leave a car running in a garage even with the garage door open.
- Most generator-related deaths from CO poisoning occur during the cold months. Have working CO alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.

Winter Sports Safety – Helmets Make a Difference

- Helmets aren't just for kids—they're for adults, too.
- Wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury.
- Choose a certified helmet that is designed for the particular activity you're involved in, e.g., bicycling, snowboarding, or snowmobiling.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hitting the Slopes? Here's Where to Go, and When

February 1, 2018 1:18 am

Are you a ski lover? As winter sports enthusiasts and beginners alike hit the slopes this season, Expedia plowed through travel data to determine the optimal month to save on hotel bookings in and around some of the world's most coveted snow destinations. From Colorado to the iconic Swiss Alps, to some lesser-known ski resorts in New Zealand and South Africa. Judging by the data, travelers have plenty of options to consider for their midwinter escape.

- Alta, Utah: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Snowbird, Utah: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Breckenridge, Colo.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Jackson Hole, Wy.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Zermatt, Switzerland: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Banff, Canada: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Gulmarg, India: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Livigno, Italy: cheapest average daily rates can be found in January
- Aspen, Colo.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in February
- Keystone, Colo.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in February
- Lake Tahoe, Calif.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March
- Vail, Colo.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March
- Park City, Utah: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March
- Mammoth Lakes, Calif.: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March
- Whistler, Canada: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March   
- Mayrhofen, Austria: cheapest average daily rates can be found in March
- Tiffindell, South Africa: cheapest average daily rates can be found in July
- Queenstown, New Zealand: cheapest average daily rates can be found in September

Source: Expedia.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Wood Flooring Trends to Watch

January 30, 2018 1:12 am

When it comes to trends in flooring for the year ahead, what’s old will be new as vintage and retro looks take center stage in the hardwood flooring arena, according to SMART Carpet and Flooring. Here are their top five hardwood trends to watch:

Wide plank hardwood floors. Featuring planks that are five or even seven inches wide, this look works well with both modern and rustic decor. Added perk? Wide planks make any space look larger.

Gray wood floors. While this is not a brand new look, its execution will be a bit different this year. While 2017 saw a trend toward warmer grays and "greige" (a combination of gray and beige), 2018 will usher in cooler tones.

Distressed wood floors. Whether eco-friendly reclaimed wood or budget-friendly, wood-look vinyl plank, distressed wood is one of the hottest new flooring trends. Incorporate distressed wood flooring - particularly the cooler gray tones mentioned above - to instantly put your home in style this year.

Varied-width wood plank floors. A trend that began gaining interest at the end of 2017, it’s expected to pick up steam in the year ahead. Reminiscent of historic homes, mixed-width wood flooring, which allows you to choose any combination of widths for a given room, creates a one-of-a-kind look driven by your personal aesthetic.

Parquet floors. The vintage, mid-century chevron flooring look is back in style, however, it now incorporates contemporary trends, such as cool gray flooring, distressed wood, or even wide planks for a modern take on parquet.

Source: SMART Carpet and Flooring

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Room-by-Room Renovations

January 30, 2018 1:12 am

(Family Features)--If your favorite room is outdated and dingy, a renovation may be all you need to make the old feel new and to fall in love with your home all over again.

Upgrading your home can be a big job, and unless it's part of a pre move-in plan, few homeowners find it practical (or even possible, from a budget standpoint) to execute a large-scale project. However, tackling the updates one room at a time and focusing on small changes that bring big returns can put those overdue enhancements well within reach.

Kitchen
It's the heart of the home, and it's where many homeowners sink big money to make upgrades. Kitchen renovations don't have to require a second mortgage though. Re-facing rather than replacing cabinetry can bring about a whole new look for a whole lot less money. This is a good option when the existing cabinets are still in good working condition and you're just looking for an aesthetic change. Other small-scale options, include swapping out the countertop and sink, changing the lighting fixtures and updating tired floors with contemporary wood or tile.

Bathroom
When plumbing is involved, project costs can skyrocket, but there are some relatively simple ways you can give your bathroom a facelift on a modest budget. For starters, swap out all the fixtures from lighting to faucets. A new vanity is another instant upgrade, whether you opt for an updated version of the original or select a whole new style for a completely fresh look.

Also consider upgrades that can increase natural light and fresh air without compromising privacy, such as the addition of skylights to your ceiling, or "fifth wall," which can completely change the lighting dynamic of the room. In addition to balanced, natural light, skylights can open to help refresh your space and keep it odor- and moisture-free.

For extra style and light control, consider complementing the room's decor with skylights featuring colored blinds, which are available in more than 100 colors and styles, and also offer remote control operation for convenience in raising and lowering the blinds and opening skylights to let in fresh air.  

Living Room
A common space where the family gathers is likely to sustain the greatest wear and tear, and because you spend so much time there, it's also a room where you're likely to find a list of things that irk you. Creating a new color scheme is a simple fix that transforms the space, but changing the palette of the walls is just the beginning. Also consider taking your redesign to the ceiling with vibrant colors, creative wallpapers or even exposed beams. Round out the room by swapping out lamp shades, adding vibrant throw pillows, replacing old curtains or blinds, or tying the color scheme together with a new area rug.

Bedroom
In your private sanctuary, all the typical options for updates apply for sure. However, this is a space where the furnishings can be an especially impactful way to influence the ambiance, especially if a construction project in the room where you sleep is impractical. Changing out the style of the bed frame and complementary pieces creates a whole new vibe for the room. Then bring in a new collection of textiles for the bedding and drapery to help round out the pseudo-renovation.

Laundry Room
If you're looking for modest ways to update your home, be sure to consider spaces like the laundry room. Although you likely use this space less frequently than common spaces like the living room or kitchen, plenty of essential activity happens in the laundry area. Practical features like added storage space, cheerful color on the walls and easy-to-clean flooring can all make this room's tedious tasks more enjoyable.

Which Skylight is Right?
Skylights can serve multiple functions, both aesthetic and practical. Understanding the different types of skylights can help you choose the right fit for your home.

Fresh Air
Solar-powered skylights rely on the sun's energy to open and bring both air and natural light into your home. Some models, such as those offered by Velux, feature a rain sensor that automatically closes the skylight at the first sign of precipitation. They're also easy to operate with a touch-screen remote control.

Electric skylights are wired into your home electrical system and open and close via a radio frequency, touch-screen remote control.

Manual skylights open with a hand lever; a control rod is generally available for out-of-reach installations.

Fixed
An economical choice for visually expanding areas such as hallways, stairwells and other closed-in, dark spaces, these static skylights are intended to fill a room with natural light.

Energy Performance
Adding a solar blind to a skylight results in more savings via potential tax credits as well as reduced energy usage. The blind functions to block heat penetration when closed, but during cooler weather it can stay open to allow warm, sunny rays to supplement the home's climate control system.

Source: Velux

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 5 Cities for Aspiring Millennial Homeowners

January 30, 2018 1:12 am

Are you a millennial dreaming of owning your own home? You're far from alone. Becoming a homeowner is high on the list for many millennials, and a new study from GoBankingRates broke down the best spots to buy.
To determine the best cities for millennial home buyers, GOBankingRates analyzed the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. based on the following factors:

- Unemployment rate, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- The percentage of millennials who own homes, sourced from Adobo
- The average millennial home value, sourced from Adobo
- Mortgage affordability, sourced from Zillow

The outcome? Turns out, more than 40 percent of millennials in Minneapolis, St. Louis and Detroit are homeowners. Despite relatively high home prices and mortgages in Nashville, the city ranks No. 3 on the list due to its thriving job market. Pittsburgh has the most affordable mortgages of any city included in this study. The city also boasts a high percentage of millennial homeowners, with 37.5 percent owning their living spaces.

Below are the 5 hottest home owning spots for millennials.

1. Minneapolis
- Percentage of millennial homeowners: 42.4 percent
- Average millennial home value: $222,528
- Unemployment rate: 2.3 percent

2. St. Louis
- Percentage of millennial homeowners: 40.2 percent
- Average millennial home value: $167,791
- Unemployment rate: 2.7 percent

3. Nashville
- Percentage of millennial homeowners: 37 percent
- Average millennial home value: $213,090
- Unemployment rate: 2.3 percent

4. Indianapolis
- Percentage of millennial homeowners: 37.4 percent
- Average millennial home value: $161,856
- Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent

5. Kansas City, Mo.
- Percentage of millennial homeowners: 37.1 percent
- Average millennial home value: $170,254
- Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent

Source: GOBankingRates

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Buying: 5 Steps for Beginners

January 29, 2018 1:09 am

Venturing out to search for your first home is one of the most exciting times of your life! Unfortunately, it is also one of the most daunting. Between a lexicon of new terms and an onslaught of online information, the process of shopping for a home is understandably overwhelming for first-timers. First, take a deep breath. Then follow these steps and you’ll be on the path to finding your first home in no time:

1. Start searching for a real estate professional. You’ll need a well-informed, trusted guide throughout this process so start looking for a real estate agent to work with. Ask friends and family members for recommendations then do your research online to evaluate any individuals and conduct in-person interviews as well. Be sure to speak with at least three agents before choosing someone to work with.

2. Figure out what you can afford. Before you start looking at neighborhoods and homes, determine what you can comfortably afford... the key word being “comfortable.” There are many unexpected expenses that arise when you’re a homeowner, so don’t stretch yourself too thin. Determine how much you can afford for a downpayment, then use an online mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payments might be for various-priced homes. Once you’ve arrived at your budget, stick with it.

3. Pick your neighborhoods. Choose your location before you start looking at homes, as where you live will ultimately be more important - both in terms of your day-to-day happiness and your investment - than the home itself. You may have to compromise a bit on location depending on the home you can afford. Your real estate agent can help advise you here.

4. Choose your musts. When thinking about the home you’d like to buy, take an honest look at needs vs. wants. Sure, there are a lot of things we’d love to have in our dream home, but figure out what are the nice-to-haves vs. the must-haves.

5. Search online. Once you’ve got your price range, your neighborhoods, and your must-haves down, start your search online to narrow down your options. Your real estate agent may also know of some homes that fit the bill right off the bat. This will mean fewer homes to visit in person and hopefully, lead to a quicker selection.

Above all, be open minded, flexible and patient in the home-search process. Your opinions and priorities may change as you learn more, and despite the best planning, curve balls happen. The journey will be well worth it, however, once you’re happily settled as a new homeowner.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Kitchen Renovation: Floor Function

January 29, 2018 1:09 am

(Family Features)--Whether designing a brand new kitchen or renovating your existing one, there are many elements to consider, and the floor should not be the last. Giving special attention to the material composition of your kitchen, particularly when it comes to the aspects that take the heaviest use - the floors, sink and countertops - can help ensure your renovation stands the test of time.

Though often taken for granted, the floor is generally the kitchen feature that sustains the heaviest use over time. Whether your tastes tend toward tile, wood or another option altogether, there are still numerous variables to explore.

Tile is an excellent choice for the kitchen because it stands up well to the heavy traffic and spills common in that space. However, tile can also be slippery and can be uncomfortable if you spend long amounts of time on your feet in the kitchen. Ceramic tile is the easiest to install but not as resistant to damage as porcelain or stone tile.

The latter options require more skilled installation, and stone especially tends to be more expensive. You'll also need to pay attention to factors like water resistance and texture, both of which affect safety and how easily the floors can be cleaned.

When it comes to wood, one of the first decisions is whether you prefer engineered or solid hardwood.

Engineered versions tend to offer greater durability and flexibility in installation while the texture and appearance of solid hardwood are its strongest appeals. Other variables include the wood type, which further affects the look and strength. Oak is most common, but other traditional selections include options like maple or cherry and specialty woods like teak or bamboo. Plank width influences overall aesthetic, with slimmer boards lending a more modern look. Color is also a consideration, as you'll need to determine whether you want to match, complement or contrast your cabinetry.

If something a little less traditional is more your speed, an option like foot-friendly cork or a modern take on vinyl may be more to your liking.

Source: Kohler

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Having a Party? Prep the Plumbing

January 29, 2018 1:09 am

If you're getting ready to host a house full of people, you're likely focusing on a zillion details, from food to home staging, music and more. But have you thought about your pipes? The professionals at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® recommend party hosts and guests follow these precautions to avoid common plumbing mishaps and help ensure fans can stay focused on the game:

Be mindful of what food goes down the garbage disposal. Fats, bones and vegetable peels can clog drains and damage the disposal. Rice and pasta can swell and clog the drain, as well. As a good rule of thumb, always toss scraps in the trashcan when it's possible.

Always use water when running the disposal. The garbage disposal works best when small particles are mixed with water. Use hot water down the disposal to keep grease moving down the drain, and run water for at least 30 seconds after everything has cleared.

Know what to do if the garbage disposal becomes clogged. If your disposal becomes clogged, turn it off, and shut off the water. Don't reach into a disposal, and never, ever use harsh chemicals to treat a clog. Instead, try a plunger.

Educate guests on what can and cannot go down the toilet. Commonly flushed items that may clog your pipes include napkins, paper towels, facial tissues and feminine products. Keep a trashcan near the toilet and remind guests to please only flush toilet paper down the commode.

Inform guests of any existing plumbing issues. For example, if the toilet handle needs a little jiggle in order to flush, spread the word and post a sign in the bathroom as a constant reminder.

Source: Benjamin Franklin Plumbing®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Stage Your Home On a Budget

January 25, 2018 1:06 am

Getting your home into prime showing shape is essential to helping it sell in the shortest amount of time for the best possible price. But while a professional home stager can work wonders, it just might not be in your budget. Don’t despair - here are some great ways to inexpensively stage your home all on your own:

Get rid of the excess. The first thing every home stager will do is get rid of the clutter. And that is something anyone can do on your own without spending a dime. Get some boxes and storage bins and start removing whatever you can, including: framed photos; anything hanging on the fridge or anywhere else; knick knacks; most books (save a few nice ones for staging); trophies and awards; kitchen gadgets; personal effects, such as glasses, keys, jewelry, etc. The golden rule? You can’t remove too much.

Rearrange the furniture. Go from room to room and make sure the furniture is arranged in a way that makes the room look as open and spacious as possible. If this means removing chairs or tables to open the flow, go for it.

Brighten things up. Replace heavy drapery with sheer panels, raise blinds and shades, and place higher wattage bulbs in lighting fixtures, adding a lamp or two where necessary. Maximizing natural and artificial light are essential to making your home look as bright and appealing as possible.

Paint where necessary. A small investment of paint in key areas will be worth it. Change any dark or oddly painted rooms to a light, neutral color, and prioritize any walls and rooms where the paint is dirty or showing signs of aging. Paint can also be a good option for updating kitchen cabinets that are otherwise too expensive to replace.

Add new accessories. A trip to your nearest discount store can send you home with a bundle of new accent pillows, throws, bathroom and kitchen accessories and a nice vase or two for the dining room and coffee tables. These decorative accessories will add a fresh feel and pops of color where necessary throughout your home. Just remember: less is more.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Slippery Slope: Ski and Snowboard Safety 101

January 25, 2018 1:06 am

Are you a ski or snowboard fan?  As the popularity of these winter sports continue to rise, according to a review article published in the January 1, 2018, issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the number of skier and snowboarder injuries also continues to rise.

"Skiing and snowboarding are associated with a large number of injuries, with specific patterns and anatomic areas affected," says Brett D. Owens, MD, lead review article author, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine as well as complex shoulder and knee surgeries and who is a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

"Snow sport athletes can best prepare for their sport with a general preseason conditioning program as well as familiarity and maintenance of equipment," says Dr. Owens. To stay safe on the slopes this year, read the following tips:

- Be prepared for the season with well-conditioned muscles and a body that is adequately hydrated.
- Be knowledgeable about how to use your equipment appropriately, and ensure everything is in optimal working condition.
- Check that the ski bindings can release from your boots when appropriate, and that boots fit appropriately.
- Check that the edges of your skis and/or snowboard are flat and sharp for maximum performance to minimize injuries.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Avoid alcohol or drug use.
- Be sure you have the ability to slow down and stop on busy days when many other athletes are also on the mountain.
- Use extreme caution when weather conditions are not optimal.
- Always follow signs and ski patrol instructions. Never ski or snowboard "out-of-bounds."

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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