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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7 Things to Remove From Your Home When You List It

January 2, 2017 2:30 am

When listing your home, there are a lot of things to think about. How you stage your space should definitely be at the top of that list. While you may not have the means to bring in a pro stager, you can put your best foot forward by removing the following from your space.

Family photos. While these treasures may mean the world to you, personal items like this make it difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves in your space. Pack up these photos for the move—you'll need to do this eventually anyway, so consider it a head start.

Odors. From a musky basement to the closet where the kitty litter box is kept, odors in your home are a huge turn off. Rip up mildewed carpet, open windows, light candles--whatever you need to do to keep a buyers nose from wrinkling.

Clutter. While you may love your corners stacked high with books and your shelves piled with mementos and knick-knacks, clutter can be distracting for buyers. Pick a few key items to leave out on shelves and pack the rest away.

Non-neutral design elements. Black lights in the basement or lacy, frilly curtains in the sunroom may seem fun to you, but these bold design elements can throw a buyer. Create a neutral atmosphere wherever possible.

Junk. Clear any old, unused items from your closets, storage spaces, basement and attic. You're going to have to get rid of these items when you move anyway, so you may as well do this now so your buyer can envision their own items filling up these spaces. 

Pets. While it may not be possible to banish your furry friends while your home is for sale, you can make sure they're out of the way when a buyer is visiting. You never know what allergies or fears buyers may have, so put the animals outside or bring them over to grandmas for an hour, if possible.

Worn-out furniture. That sagging, stained couch in the basement may not be a big deal to you, but it can be an eyesore to an outsider. An empty space is better than a poorly furnished space, so adjust where needed.

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5 Financial Resolutions for the New Year

January 2, 2017 2:30 am

When it comes to making resolutions, many Americans hope to stash away more cash. Below are several easy financial resolutions you can make to bolster your bank account.

Open a separate savings account to force yourself to build an emergency savings fund. Make it separate from your main financial institution, with no ATM card, so you will be forced to go into a branch to withdraw money.

Educate yourself. Check out some books on personal finance or subscribe to a magazine or personal finance blog.  

Pull your credit score and report. A good way to start the year is to find out exactly where you stand financially. Download your credit report (one free each year from each of the three main reporting bureaus) at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Plan ahead. Get in the habit each night of preparing for the next day: Packing lunches, prepping breakfast and dinner.  That way you will not be tempted to buy convenience food on the run, because you are rushed.

Unsubscribe. Remove the temptation of impulse buying online by unsubscribing from retail email.  This can take some time, but, ultimately, you will save time and money by not being bombarded with emails "deals", tempting you to buy.

Source: www.greenpath.org

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Shopping for a New Car? Game on!

December 29, 2016 2:24 am

Dreaming of a shiny new car in your driveway? Then come back down to earth and create a solid game plan. While the prospect of a new set of wheels is very exciting, it’s critical to slow down and make wise decisions—after all, a car is a big investment. Here are some tips for becoming a savvy car consumer:

1. Get your loan first, advises Consumer Reports. Even before you know what type of car you’re going to buy, do some loan comparison shopping online and find out what sort of interest rates you’re looking at—a difference of only two percentage points can add up to more than $1,000 over the life of the loan. Focus on the annual percentage rate (APR) and go for the shortest timeframe possible—you will end up paying much less for your car over four years as opposed to five.

2. Do upfront research online. According to financial expert Clark Howard, start with the annual April auto issue of Consumer Reports, which features their list of recommended cars to buy. Once you’ve decided on the cars you’re considering, search online for the dealer cost of the vehicle with the options you want. Then, says Howard, get some online price quotes and contact dealers to see if they’ll match the quote.

3. Know your “shopping style” and stick to it, says Kelley Blue Book. Many car buyers get swept away in the moment—or by an effective salesperson—and end up buying a car they didn’t have in mind. So have a clear understanding of what matters most to you in new car - such as value, image or safety - and don’t be talked out of it.

3. Time to choose: new, used or lease? There are several options available when it comes to buying a car, and thanks to the popularity of leasing, you can add certified pre-owned (CPO) to the list. According to BankRate, a CPO may offer the best of all worlds—they’re cheaper than brand-new cars, usually have some warranty left and must meet certain criteria to ensure their condition. Know the pros and cons of each option and decide what will work best for you in advance.

4. Don’t skimp on the test drive. Forget the quick spin around the block—ask the dealership if you can take the car for a few hours or maybe even for the weekend. You want to make sure you’re experiencing the car in a variety of ways (i.e., highway and street) and  in several conditions (i.e, rain, snow, nighttime). BankRate also suggest that you spend some time in the car while it’s in park—play with the seat adjustments and other controls, and survey the backseat and trunk space.

Following the above steps will help stave off buyer’s remorse and keep you happily rolling along in your new ride for years to come.

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Firework Safety for the New Year

December 29, 2016 2:24 am

New Year's Eve is a wonderful time to celebrate. However, if libations flow freely on New Year's night, make sure you're not manning any fire works. Just like you wouldn't drink and drive, drinking and shooting fireworks is a huge safety hazard, resulting in many deaths and injuries every year.

Nancy Blogin, President of the National Council on Fireworks Safety notes: "Each New Year's Eve, consumers are injured because their judgment has been impaired by beer, wine, or other alcoholic drink. In the past several years, there have been reports of accidents where the person that was injured had been under the influence of alcohol and did not handle the fireworks in a responsible way.  The lesson is simple: alcohol and fireworks don't mix."

In addition, the National Council reminds shooters of consumer fireworks of these other important safety tips:

- Only use fireworks outdoors.
- Use fireworks as directed on the product label.
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Never give fireworks to young children.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Always have a bucket of water, or water hose, nearby.

Source: www.FireworksSafety.org.

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How to Use a Gift Card Exchange

December 29, 2016 2:24 am

We've all received a gift card we know we'll never use. Instead of letting the card gather dust or purchasing something you don't truly want, consider using a gift card exchange network to trade that card for one you value more, or swap it for cash value.

According to Cardpool, gift card buyers and sellers interested in using exchange services can follow these tips when considering their gift card exchange options:

Look for trusted exchange providers with a gift card purchase guarantee. For example, Cardpool guarantees that gift cards purchased from its website will be valid at the merchant for the dollar amount specified on your order for up to 180 days from the date of your purchase and up to a maximum of $1,000 per customer.  Do your research before selecting your gift card exchange company. Search news coverage and online reviews including the exchange company's status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Choose an exchange that verifies the gift card balance. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting with a site that is clear and visible.  

Understand how the buying and selling process works. Read the fine print. Check out reviews and see if former users are satisfied. Be an informed consumer and you will have a positive experience.  

Source: www.cardpool.com.

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Walking: For Your Health and for Your Home’s Value

December 28, 2016 12:24 am

Requiring little athletic ability and virtually no cost, walking has become a popular fitness option for people of all ages. But for a growing number of Americans, walking is about much more than exercise—it’s a lifestyle choice.

Developers and agents across the country can attest to the popularity of this real estate trend and the increase in walkable neighborhoods. A rise in urban living space nationwide is in direct response to consumer demand for the ability to walk to public transportation, restaurants, stores and more.  

While according to the 2015 National Community and Transportation Preference Survey, conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® and the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University, millennials prefer walking over driving by 12 percentage points, walkable neighborhoods are not just for the young—retiring baby boomers are also looking for a lifestyle that puts culture and entertainment within walking distance.

According to the report ‘Foot Traffic Ahead,’ conducted by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business in conjunction with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, walkable urban places are growing in all of the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S., gaining marketshare against suburban competitors for the first time in decades and garnering higher rent premiums, reports Curbed.

What makes a neighborhood walkable? According to Walk Score®, which helps people evaluate an area’s walkability when deciding where to live, walkable neighborhoods feature the following characteristics:

- A center of town, such as a main street our public space
- Enough people to allow local businesses to thrive and public transit to run frequently
- Mixed-income and mixed-use housing, including affordable housing near businesses
- Plenty of parks and public space
- A pedestrian-friendly design, i.e, buildings are close to the street while parking lots are located further back
- Schools and workplaces that are close enough for most residents to walk to from their homes
- Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians and transportation

And here they are—2016’s 10 most walkable cities, according to Walk Score:

1. New York City
2. San Francisco
3. Boston
4. Philadelphia
5. Miami
6. Chicago
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Seattle
9. Oakland
10. Long Beach

Lace up your sneakers and take a stroll in your neighborhood to get a sense of its walkability. There might be more within reach than you realized—and at the very least, your health will thank you.

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How-to Protect Your Mental Health

December 28, 2016 12:24 am

You protect your home, your passwords, and your finances—but how about your mental health? The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers simple tips everyone can implement to take care of their mental health.

- "Put your own oxygen mask on" before helping others: it's impossible to pour from an empty cup. 

- Recognize the difference between a false alarm and a real emergency -- anxiety is usually a false alarm. 

- Take time to develop your inner peace through meditation, mindfulness, or journaling your thoughts and feelings.

- When having a negative thought, try pairing it with a positive thought and a neutral thought. 

- Allow yourself to feel however you feel; don't try to change it or deny it.

- Schedule regular physical activities to protect against stress, reduce inflammation, improve self-image, and release feel good endorphins.

- Get outdoors when possible to help reduce stress and boost overall well-being.

- Volunteer to help others. It will give you a quick boost and an invaluable perspective of your community.

- Embrace perspectives different than your own. This will help promote positive change in the world around you and in yourself.

- Evaluate who you want to see, be with, share with and just do that. You don't have to interact with everyone.

Source: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

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Have You Heard? Vinyl Is Making A Comeback

December 28, 2016 12:24 am

For many, it's a great feeling to pull out the old vinyl records and settle down in the den to enjoy those vintage sounds. But vinyl is also enjoying a popular comeback in other rooms of the house as well.

The folks at Contractor Quotes (contractorquotes.us) are handling a lot more vinyl floor installations in recent years, and are helping homeowners with advice on how to protect it from everyday wear and tear.

A recent blog on the company website points out that vinyl flooring is a great choice of material for bathrooms and kitchens because it's waterproof and extremely easy to clean. Moreover, vinyl is inexpensive, yet very attractive - providing a cushioned core which tends to be more comfortable to work on.

In addition, the blog says that vinyl plank flooring is warmer as compared to wood or tiles - and with proper cleaning and maintenance, the flooring can look great longer and its original shine and luster could last for years.

If you plan to install vinyl flooring contractorquotes.com has a few tips to consider:

- Make use of doormats. Dirt, dust and debris on shoes can cause damage to vinyl flooring. Even tiny pits of chemicals, gravel and asphalt are abrasive to vinyl and eventually will make the flooring yellow and scratched.

- Sweep the floor. Sweeping every day is one of the most effective ways to protect vinyl plank flooring.

- Clean spills immediately. Regardless of the liquid, clean it up immediately and dry the floor. Sugary drinks become more difficult to clean up as they dry, and even plain water could cause damage when left to sit for too long.

- Use vinegar for daily washing. A mild solution of apple cider vinegar is a harmless cleaning agent that can help keep vinyl flooring looking brand new. Avoid more harsh vinegars that might be tough on the floor.

- Get to know jojoba. Remove scuffs off vinyl flooring using jojoba oil and a soft cloth. As long as they are shallow surface scuffs, the jojoba oil should rub them off easily.

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Why Dogs Make Us Better People

December 28, 2016 12:24 am

There’s much more to owning a dog than gaining a cuddly companion. According to one study, dogs enhance our overall well-being, providing a range of emotional, behavioral and physical benefits for their humans.

But can dogs really make us better people? Yes, say 93 percent of dog owners who responded to a survey from BarkBox. Survey findings reveal that:

- Seven in ten (71 percent) dog owners report that their pup has made them happier, with nearly four in five claiming that their dog’s greeting actually makes it easier to get out of bed!
- About half of dog owners say their pooch has made them more patient (54 percent), responsible (52 percent) or affectionate (47 percent).
- More than four in five (83 percent) say their dog has made them more active, with 72 percent reporting that their dog plays a role in their exercise decisions.
- Eighty-five percent of dog owners say that their dog has helped them through a difficult time in their life.

Given the remarkable impact dogs have on their humans, it’s no surprise that the bond between people and their pups is iron clad. According to the survey, close to nine in ten (87 percent) dog parents say they love their dog “more than they ever thought possible” and more than half (56 percent) wish their dog could understand how much they meant to them. For many, the bond even rivals the selfless love between two humans.

So give your dog an extra treat and big hug tonight – you may owe them more than you think.
Follow me for more insights into family, lifestyle and real estate trends.

Source: Bark & Company

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Top Tips for Whiter, Brighter Teeth

December 28, 2016 12:24 am

When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked people what they would like to improve most regarding their smile, the response was overwhelmingly similar: white teeth. Similarly, the American Association of Orthodontists found that nearly 90 percent of its patients request tooth whitening.

Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer with Western Dental, offers helpful teeth whitening information and tips below:

Why do teeth change colors? Coffee, tea and red wine are three primary staining culprits. So are tobacco (tar and nicotine), aging, and certain medications (some antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure).

How does teeth whitening work? Whitening products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, two tooth bleaches. They break stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and the teeth brighter and whiter.

Does whitening work on all teeth? No. Bleach works well on yellow teeth, but not as much on brown teeth. And gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening doesn't work on caps, veneers, crowns and fillings.

Below are the top three ways to put a shine back in your smile:

Whitening Toothpastes: Western Dental recommends Opalesence as a safe toothpaste that has polishing agents to provide additional stain removal effectiveness.

In-Office Bleaching: Chairside appointments usually require only one office visit at Western Dental. A dentist will apply either a protective gel to the gums or a rubber shield to protect the gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth. A special light or laser might be used to enhance the action of the whitening agent.

At-Home Whitening Kits: Western Dental suggests using kits that include 10 upper and lower whitening trays with a 10-percent hydrogen peroxide gel solution that are applied to each arch for an hour a day, whitening teeth up to six shades lighter. Over-the-counter whitening strips are available, but the results are not as dramatic.

Source: www.westerndental.com.
 

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