Donna Maicher
HomeMy ListingsView Area Listings•  Foreclosures•  Short SalesInside ToursMortgage InfoCommunity InfoSchool InfoAbout MeContactLoginHelpful LinksBlog
RE/MAX 440   Donna Maicher
101 Quakertown Ave.  Pennsburg, PA  18073
Office Phone: 215-679-9797    Phone: 215-679-9797  Fax: 267-354-6869  Cell: 267-249-6850
donnamaicher@comcast.net

My Blog

Pricing Tactics Every Smart Shopper Knows

February 4, 2015 1:30 am

Are you digging out of debt from holiday spending? Retailers use several tactics to entice shoppers to spend more, especially during seasonal sales. Understanding these ploys can help you avoid accumulating more debt by overspending. During your next shop, arm yourself with a budget and knowledge of these pricing strategies.

Store Perception Can Lead to Increased Spending
There’s a reason why retailers spend big bucks on branding. According to a profile in the New York Times Magazine, shoppers are willing to pay more for an item if it came from a store perceived as high-quality. To avoid falling into this trap, shop around for everyday items. A white T-shirt, for example, can be well-made without being pricey.

Costs of Big-Ticket Items Makes Small Items Seem Worth It

On your next shopping trip, remember to keep things in perspective. Retailers will often place smaller items near big-ticket ones to justify a higher price – a $100 tablecloth is not worth $100 just because it’s sitting on a $5,000 table, for instance.

“Sale” Keyword Affects Perceived Value

Discounts compel shoppers to spend whether the price is saving them money or not. When comparing items, do the math before purchasing. An item for sale may not be worth its cost, especially when up against a regularly-priced item for less.

Prices Ending in 9 Mean Little to a Store’s Bottom Line

The majority of retailers use the 99 cents strategy to trick shoppers into thinking that the item really doesn’t cost the rounded-up whole number. That one cent may be a drop in the bucket for retailers, but it can burn a hole in your wallet if you’re not careful. Train your brain to look past this tactic to save the most cash.

Items Priced without Commas Seem Less Expensiv
e
According to a Journal of Consumer Psychology study, higher prices broken up with commas appear much less costly to shoppers – $2799, for example, reads cheaper than a $2,799 tag. Some stores use commas and others don’t, so look for the lowest price when shopping around.

Source: Apartment Therapy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Should You Buy a Historic Home?

February 4, 2015 1:30 am

In the market for a historic home? Historic homes are coveted for their timeless charm, unique features and, of course, historical background. But owning your very own piece of history comes with its fair share of drawbacks – and many go beyond the surface of the home. If you’re shopping for a historic home, consider these factors:

Registration – When researching details of the home, find out whether it’s registered as historic on a local or federal level. A registered historic home can be subject to tax breaks, but it can also limit any changes a new owner may want to make.

Size – By nature, historic homes have a much smaller square footage than newly constructed units. Ceilings, in particular, are often lower, and bathrooms and kitchens rarely have the amount of storage new home owners are accustomed to.

Home Systems – As with any home, buyers shopping historic should have an inspection prior to purchasing. In historic homes, be mindful of blips on the inspection report that relate to the home’s internal systems – plumbing and electric – as these can be costly to update.

Chemicals – Lead and asbestos are big no-no’s these days, but not so when historic homes were built. Keep in mind that you will need to remove lead-based paints and popcorn ceilings, especially if you have children or elderly family members.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Three Tips for DIY Painters

February 4, 2015 1:30 am

(BPT) – Ninety-four percent of homeowners plan to paint a room or rooms themselves this year, according to a recent survey by Sherwin-Williams. If you’re planning a DIY painting project of your own, keep in mind these tips.

Find color inspiration.
Choosing the perfect paint color is key to creating the look you want, but how do you know which color suits your home best? Per the Sherwin-Williams survey, more than half of DIYers (56 percent) say they look to nature for color inspiration; 36 percent take their color cues from Pinterest images.

Select the right finish.
Once you've decided on the perfect color, get the best finish for the space you’re painting. For durability and washability, choose a semi-gloss paint. Semi-gloss is a good option for areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

For high-traffic areas, like a hallway or a child’s bedroom, satin and egg-shell paints are preferred because they’re easy to clean and maintain. High gloss paints are also extremely durable and easy to clean, making them perfect for windows, doors and trim. For spaces that have something to hide, a flat finish will work to your advantage.

Paint your space in the correct order.
To avoid more cleanups than necessary, start by painting the ceiling, then the walls. If two coats of paint are needed, finish both coats before moving on to the next step. Next, paint windows from top to bottom, followed by the baseboards, trim and doorframe. Save the door for last.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

7 Strategies for Growing Your Retirement Egg

February 3, 2015 1:27 am

As the New Year begins, the vast majority of American workers vow to save more money. But life gets in the way, and the truth, for many, is that savings wind up getting short shrift. Financial strategists at The Motley Fool, a money guide for skilled and less-experienced savers, have put together a seven-strategy plan to help consumers maximize retirement savings:

Pay yourself first – You may have heard this before, but saving must be your number one budget item. The only way to ensure you hit aggressive savings goals is to put a sum of money away each month before the rent and other bills eat it up.

Start early – The sooner you start putting money away, the bigger the likelihood you will save enough for an easier retirement. Putting larger sums away at a more advanced age will likely not make up for the years you missed.

Take advantage of employer match – Most employers offer a match to employees' retirement savings either as a percent of salary or contributions. Either way, it's free money and an opportunity you shouldn't pass up.

The 500 Plan – This is a tough one, but the iPlanRetirement blog proposes a plan to save $1 million in just 20 years. You put away $500 every month for a year. The next year, increase the savings to $600 – and increase the savings by another $100 a month every succeeding year.

Save your raises – Most workers can count on an annual raise, at an average of five percent. If you stow the raise away each year for 20 years, you will be on your way to amassing $1 million.

Increase income, but not spending – If you aren’t getting raises, look for other ways to increase your income. Get a part time job. Buy and sell on eBay or at a swap meet. Use your crafting, writing or other talents to earn extra money.

Take on some risk – It’s hard to amass a hefty sum by depositing your money in a savings account. A major savings goal requires substantial returns, and the only way to realize those returns is to take on some investment risk. Do some studying first, or get advice from a professional financial advisor.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Avoid Plumbing Problems in 4 Steps

February 3, 2015 1:27 am

Did you know that hosting guests frequently in your home can put pressure on your plumbing system? Without proper maintenance before, during and after your get-together, your plumbing may need to undergo expensive repair work.

Avoid plumbing problems with these tips from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing:

Replace the flapper. A worn or old toiler flapper can create problems in the bathroom and make it tough to flush. Replacing the flapper is quick, easy, and can help things flow smoothly during times of heavy usage.

Water down your disposal. Certain vegetable and fruit peels can be tough on a garbage disposal. When using your disposal, use plenty of water to help move scraps down the drain.

Place plungers in key areas. Plungers are not just for toilets. You can keep a clean plunger under the kitchen sink to help with clogs or slow moving drains. To use a plunger properly: pull the flange out from the bottom and use a quick pulsing motion to help remove a clog.

Have a plumbing inspection. Don't wait for a problem to surface and then call a plumber. A plumbing inspection, done by a trusted professional, can identify potential trouble areas before you have a house full of guests and a major plumbing emergency.

Source: Benjamin Franklin Plumbing

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Filing a Claim for Winter Storm Damage? What You Need to Know

February 3, 2015 1:27 am

With winter weather set to hit a large swath of the country over the coming weeks, damage to property is likely to occur. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advisers homeowners to be mindful of these insurance factors following severe weather conditions.

Standard homeowners insurance covers:
  • Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property. Also, wind-driven snow or freezing rain that gets into the home because the home was damaged by wind.
  • Tree limbs that fall on a house or other insured structure on the property—this includes both the damage the tree inflicts on the house and the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500.
  • Damage from ice and other objects that fall on the home.
  • Damage to the house and its contents caused by weight of snow or ice that creates a collapse is covered.
  • Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams, a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls. However, there is generally a requirement that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to prevent these losses by keeping the house warm and properly maintaining the pipes and drains.
  • Additional living expenses (ALE)—in the event that a home is severely damaged by an insured disaster. This would pay for reasonable expenses incurred by living elsewhere while the home is being fixed.
Damage caused by flooding is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies. Melting snow that seeps into a home from the ground up would be covered by flood insurance, which is provided by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, and a few private insurers. Flood insurance is available to both homeowners and renters.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

4 Ways to Keep Clutter from Overtaking Your Life

February 2, 2015 1:24 am

Are your closets brimming with household items? Are you using your garage to store anything but your vehicle? Has every nook and cranny become a catch-all for clutter? Many homeowners believe the solution to clutter is to purchase more – baskets, coat racks, storage units and anything else that will help them stay organized.

"It's easy for homeowners to accumulate an abundance of items over the years. In order to keep your home clean and contented, it's important to edit out unnecessary objects," says Karen Powell, founder and CEO of Decor&You. "Especially after the holiday gift giving and receiving season, now is a great time to consider donating unwanted items to local charities and help others in your community."

Rather than bringing more items into the chaos, evaluate the items currently overcrowding your home and de-clutter your existing storage spaces. Here’s how to do it.

Create a habit: By setting aside designated dates throughout the year to sort through storage spaces, you'll eventually form a new habit. Whether you decide to de-clutter biannually or bimonthly, establish realistic times based on your household and lifestyle. For some, it might be best to align your 'editing out' days with the change of each season. Remember to pencil these specific tasks into the calendar. Doing so will increase the likelihood that they are completed on a regular basis.
Make it a family affair: While the de-cluttering process isn't always considered fun, sorting through storage and buried objects can be very nostalgic. For items holding sentimental value, having the family together for one last reflection can provide closure and make it easier to donate or discard. Including your family, especially children, will help them to develop a clutter-avoiding habit, too.
Reflect, and then make a purchase: When you’re shopping and you spot something of interest, it's easy to immediately justify the purchase. Consider its purpose instead. Is it serving as an aesthetic piece? Is it replacing something outdated? What about its placement -- will it be in the open on your fireplace mantle or end up shoved in a storage bin? Use these reflections to dictate whether a purchase should be made, and establish a rule to refrain from buying excess goods. A good rule of thumb: for every two items purchased, one pre-loved item in the same category must be donated or discarded.
Take 10 minutes a week: Beyond the designated times per year, take ten minutes each week to quickly evaluate what areas of your home need to be tackled and if there is anything simple you can do now to relieve the process in the future. Checking your kitchen pantry or refrigerator for expired goods will save you an enormous amount of time when the big clean-up rolls around.

Source: Decor & You, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Mortgage Rates in Holding Pattern

February 2, 2015 1:24 am

Mortgage rates were mixed last week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate reversing last week's move and settling at 3.80 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.29 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.13 percent, down 3.18 percent from last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage was down 3.81 percent from the previous week at 3.80 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were mostly higher, with the 7-year ARM climbing to 3.37 percent and the 10-year ARM rising to 3.65 percent.

Mortgage rates remain at the lowest levels since May 2013, despite an improving U.S. economy. The economic sluggishness overseas and increased stimulus from other central banks around the globe have kept the Federal Reserve 'patient' about raising interest rates and helped bring both bond yields and mortgage rates lower. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

One year ago, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.50 percent. At that time, a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,013.37. With the average rate now at 3.80 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $931.91, a savings of approximately $81 per month for anyone refinancing now.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor

February 2, 2015 1:24 am

(BPT) – Trusting a contractor with both your home and money can feel overwhelming. Spare yourself time, expenses and sanity by following these steps for choosing the best remodeling contractor.

1. Decide what you want out of your newly remodeled home. Start thinking about goals, amenities and a rough timeline, making sure you can clearly articulate your ideas to a contractor. Idea centers such as Houzz.com can serve as inspiration for kick-starting your remodeling project. This phase is also ideal for researching sustainable building products. By using green products, homeowners save money on heating and cooling costs, and builders can decrease the construction's carbon footprint.

2. Ask for advice. You're not the first person to remodel your home, so don't go through the process alone. Talk to friends, relatives, neighbors and coworkers about their remodeling experiences. In addition to collecting referrals, ask targeted questions about how those contractors communicated throughout the process and mitigated any setbacks. If you know a building inspector, ask which contractors regularly meet code requirements.

3. Research and contact businesses. Start gathering information on your referrals and local prospects by visiting their websites or making phone calls. Make sure these remodeling contractors have the required licenses, liability insurance and ability to obtain local permits for your project. Most will also tell you if they belong to a professional association such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or National Association of Homebuilders. The Better Business Bureau also issues warnings about those that might not be trustworthy. Through your research, select three to five potential contractors.

4. Set up meetings with contractors.
After identifying your top candidates, schedule face-to-face meetings with each to discuss your project. Ask questions and make sure communication is fluid and straight-forward. How many projects does the contractor handle at one time? Are his or her past projects similar in scope to yours? If you find a particular meeting goes especially well, ask for references and a bid on your project.

5. Compare bids and references. Think of this step as putting the finishing touches on your selection process. When contacting references, ask them to rate their satisfaction with the project. Did the contractor meet time and budget requirements? As soon as the bids come in, look at the cost breakdown of labor and building materials. The best contractor is not always the cheapest. Now's the time to find out if a contractor uses the best quality products that meet your budget.

6. Choose your contractor and sign a contract. With all of your research on hand, select the best contractor for your project. After confirming with the contractor, draw up a contract that includes a description of the work, products to be used, cost and completion dates and let the project begin.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Keep Food Items Safe during Power Outages

January 30, 2015 1:03 am

Power outages can happen at any time. Aside from the discomfort of living without electricity, refrigerated or frozen food items may spoil if power is out for a number of days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking the following precautions when an outage occurs.
  • Use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer. Check before an outage to ensure that the refrigerator temperature is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Know where you can get dry or block ice. Make ice cubes and freeze containers of water or gel packs to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers. Keep coolers on hand to store refrigerated food if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
  • Freeze refrigerated items that you may not need immediately and group food together in the freezer.
  • Stock your pantry with a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or refrigeration.
  • When the power does go out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours, and a full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if unopened.
  • When power is restored, check the temperatures inside your refrigerator and freezer before consuming any food.
  • If the power was out for no more than 4 hours, refrigerated food should be safe as long as the doors were kept closed. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, eggs, or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more.
  • If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, food is safe and may be refrozen. If you did not have a thermometer in the freezer, check each package to determine its safety; you can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals, it is safe to refreeze or cook. Be aware that perishable foods that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause foodborne illness if consumed, even after they are thoroughly cooked.
Source: FDA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:
FacebookLinkedin
<br />
<object allowNetworking="all" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" id="" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=7,0,0,0" width="250" height="318" align="middle" data="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw">
<param name="movie" value="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw" />
<param name="flashvars" value="param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&memberId=thespringbox" />
<param name="quality" value="high" />
<param name="wmode" value="transparent" />
<param name="allowNetworking" value="all" />
<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" />
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
<param name="bgColor" value="0x000000" /><embed bgColor="0x000000" allowNetworking="all" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" src="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw" flashvars="param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&memberId=thespringbox" quality="high" wmode="transparent" width="250" height="318" align="middle" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" /></object>
<div style="font:11px/12px arial;width:250px;margin-top:2px;"><a href="http://www.springwidgets.com/widgetize/23/?param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&width=250&height=318" target="_blank">Get this widget!</a></div>
<p>