Donna Maicher
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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

Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Spike on ‘Super Saturday

December 19, 2014 2:36 am

More than half of holiday shoppers have gifts left to purchase by the time ‘Super Saturday’ arrives – the last Saturday to shop for holiday gifts before Christmas, according to a survey from RetailMeNot.com.

For many of these last-minute holiday shoppers, it’s not simply a matter of running to the store to purchase one remaining gift. Nearly 1 in 5 shoppers surveyed admitted to waiting until Super Saturday to begin shopping for all of their presents.

The survey also found:
- Financial reasons are less likely to spur last-minute holiday shopping, with less than 25 percent reporting that they weren’t waiting due to lack of savings.

- Nearly half of consumers (43 percent) report waiting until the 11th hour because they didn’t know what to get their intended recipient.

- Thirty percent of consumers waited to shop because they received an unexpected gift and felt the need to reciprocate.

- Forgetfulness is also a factor, with more than a third of consumers reporting that they forgot to buy a gift.
Source: RetailMeNot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Safely Remove Snow from Your Property

December 19, 2014 2:36 am

Shovels aren’t the only things residents in snowy regions need this winter.

Upwards of 115,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices or clinics last year as a result of snow removal-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Before digging out after a snowstorm, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends residents review these safety tips.
  • Push snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow and lift it with your legs. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
  • Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
  • Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, seek immediate emergency care.
  • Follow instructions while snow blowing. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.
  • Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds. Consider unplugging the snow blower. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
  • Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
Source: AAOS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What 3% Down Payments Mean for Millennials

December 19, 2014 2:36 am

Following a move by mortgage lenders to loosen standards for homeowners, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will begin backing home loans with down payments as low as three percent. This could bode well for the millennial generation, many of whom have yet to own their first home.

“This is exactly what our industry needed to propel millennials into homeownership for the first time and to keep Main Street growing and thriving,” said Don Frommeyer, CEO of NAMB – The Association of Mortgage Professionals.

Under the new programs, first-time homebuyers and low- and moderate-income individuals who finance a fixed-rate mortgage can expect a less stringent lending process as opportunities for loan approvals without the required five percent down payment become readily available.

Applicants seeking the lower down payment must demonstrate an ability to repay the loan, secure mortgage insurance and attend pre-purchase counseling.

Source: NAMB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Financial Habits You Should Adopt Today

December 18, 2014 12:36 am

There’s no better time than the present to alter your financial situation, and consumers can cement their futures financially by adopting smart habits.

“Being mindful of your financial goals and knowing how credit works are important tools to effectively managing personal finances,” says ACA International CEO Pat Morris. “Good financial habits can help ensure a sound financial future, and being armed with knowledge can help you maintain that all-important good credit score.”

To practice better money management, ACA International recommends the following:
  • Protect personal information. Be cautious when giving out credit card, bank account or Social Security information over the phone or online. Require a certain level of authenticity from the third party. Monitor accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card provider. If you believe your identity has been stolen, check your credit report for activity and contact your local police department.
  • Understand credit and use it wisely. When used properly, credit can be helpful when determining eligibility for things like home mortgages and auto loans. Too often, it becomes a difficult burden for households struggling to make payments. Know the terms and conditions of your credit cards, shop for low interest rates, make payments on time and understand the ramifications of making a late payment or missing a payment. Learn the ins and outs of credit reporting and its impacts on building a good credit score.
  • Communicate with creditors. Don’t ignore calls or letters from creditors or debt collectors. If you are having trouble making payments, contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangement options to make things more manageable. After confirming with the debt collector that the debt is indeed yours, discuss applicable repayment options. Don’t be intimidated – legitimate debt collectors want to help you.
  • Know your rights. Consumers have important rights when contacted by a creditor or debt collector. Visit www.askdoctordebt.org, a free and anonymous resource for more information about credit.
Source: ACA International

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seniors: Stay Safe at Home This Winter

December 18, 2014 12:36 am

Wintery conditions can cause major problems for homeowners, especially when power outages threaten safety. Concerns spike for seniors who are particularly vulnerable to cold weather hazards. Brooklyn-based home healthcare provider All Heart Homecare Agency recommends that seniors take note of these guidelines for a safe season.

Exercise regularly – Consistent physical activity mitigates your risk for trips or falls. Elderly individuals who frequently build their fitness have a much smaller possibility of injuring themselves when snow and ice hits.

Dress warmly – If inclement weather is in the forecast, be prepared. Wear layers and cover your extremities with gloves and a hat to withstand chill. Proper footwear is also important to prevent icy slips.

Stock the pantry – Keep your home stocked with enough food to withstand a prolonged power outage or storm. If you require nutritional counseling, it may be smart to have a home health aide on standby.

Prepare any vehicles – Snow tires are essential for residents in blizzard-prone areas. Pay close attention while driving or cease driving altogether during a snowstorm unless it is an absolute emergency. Keep warm clothing, blankets, hand warmers and food in your vehicle at all times.

Source: All Heart Homecare Agency

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Most Popular Design Trends in 2015

December 18, 2014 12:36 am

What once was old is now new again at home, according to a report recently released by Zillow Digs®. The report, which combines data from a survey of leading interior design experts and an analysis of the most popular photos on Zillow Digs, anticipates the resurrection of wallpaper and mid-century modern accents in the coming year.

“Home design will embark on a dramatic shift in 2015, moving far away from the bright jewel tones and overused chevron and ikat patterns that took 2014 by storm,” says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs design expert. “Unexpected textures and an eclectic, modern vibe are about to find their way. Expect to see a more sophisticated look in 2015.”

The most popular home design trends include:

1. Wallpaper
"Wallpaper is coming back in a big way," says Zillow Digs designer Jamie Beckwith of Beckwith Interiors. From digital prints to textured wall coverings, this trend is primed and ready to take off in 2015. Expect to see a rise in available color and texture selections in home stores to accommodate the increased demand for patterned or textured accent walls.

2. Modern, Mid-Century Modern Elements

Mid-century modern elements will weave their way in to 2015 home decor – from architecture to furniture—and will be one of the biggest up-and-coming design styles. While this trend will be popular, Zillow Digs experts advise homeowners to be careful when integrating into homes, as the trend shouldn't overwhelm the house.

3. Gold Fixtures
Reminiscent of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, this retro statement hardware color will make a comeback in 2015 with a new modern twist: bright gold with a sleek finish for extra shine. Homeowners will no longer be limited to silver or stainless steel fixtures, and will feel free to mix and match finish colors, or go bold with all gold.

4. Cowhide Accents
Cowhide is the ideal accent texture for 2015's modern, approachable design aesthetic. Zillow Digs designers say cowhide will find its way into pillows, rugs, throw blankets and artwork. Its neutral hue and natural texture make it the perfect complement for bolder statement pieces.

5. Shades of Blue

Blue will be the most popular accent color and is the perfect complement to Marsala, the 2015 Pantone® Color of the Year, according to the Zillow Digs designers. "Pops of indigo blue or deep navy will become a staple in home design this year, as their deep natural hues become extra vibrant against warm earth tones like Marsala," said Zillow Digs home design expert, Kerrie Kelly.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Don't Slip Up - Renter's Insurance Isn't Just for Possessions

December 17, 2014 12:36 am

About once a year I get a reminder from Peter Frascarelli, CPIA, president of PIACT - the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. He has often discussed how renters insurance covers personal items in the event of damage from a variety of events.

If your belongings encounter smoke, broken water pipes, electrical surges, vehicle damage, vandalism, windstorms or an explosion, many renter's insurance plans can cover replacing or repairing items.

However, Frascarelli says, there are some restrictions on what renters insurance will cover.

Generally, natural disasters like earthquakes and flooding are not covered, although most insurance companies offer additional coverage for these situations.

But the most important point Frascarelli makes is regarding renter's liability exposures. Did you know if someone twists an ankle on the wet bathroom floor, the renter is responsible for covering the treatment for the injury.

All the more reason for both current and prospective renter's policyholders to double-check to ensure your policy will cover the medical payments for the injured person, and up to what amount.

One way to ensure you are compensated for any belongings you may lose in a fire, storm or other catastrophe Frascarelli says, is to take an inventory of all possessions.

Your inventory should list each item, its value and serial number. Photograph or videotape each room, including closets, attics, cellars, storage buildings and your garage.

Keep receipts for major items in a fireproof place. And, keep several copies of your inventory and receipts in another location.

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, according to Frascarelli.

Just like any other type of homeowners insurance policy, a renter's insurance premium will depend on a number of factors: where you live; your deductible; your insurance company; and whether you need additional coverage.

To save the most on premiums, Frascarelli says consider increasing your deductible - and ask about discounts for protective devices including smoke and fire detectors and burglar alarms.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Travel Smarter This Holiday

December 17, 2014 12:36 am

Tensions are generally higher on roads and airways over the holidays, and with more Americans than ever planning to travel this season, it’s important to be prepared. To avoid frustration and headaches, Getaroom.com recommends the following tips.

1. Consider traveling on a holiday. Travel on Christmas Day is often much cheaper than in the days leading up to the holiday. If you have kids that want to spend Christmas morning with close relatives and Christmas evening with those further away, traveling on Christmas Day may be your best bet.

2. Save on car rentals. If your vacation is only four to five days in length, you might want to search for weekly rates on car rentals, rather than daily costs. Stay away from car seat or GPS rentals offered with the car, as well as supplemental insurance

3. Fly a smart route. Avoid layovers in areas where snowstorms are prone to happen. If you’re traveling from San Diego to Miami, for example, avoid layovers in Detroit, Chicago or Denver, where winter weather can wreak havoc. Select a route that flies through less unpredictable climates, such as Houston or Atlanta.

4. Get a ride to the airport. Airport parking rates tend to skyrocket over the holidays, so get a lift from a friend or use a recommended car service.

5. Account for extra time. Long lines at the airport can put you at risk of overbooking situations, so arrive well in advance of your departure time. If several flights are overbooked and you miss your original flight, airlines have limited obligations to assist you.

Source: Getaroom.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The High-Tech Homeowner Wish List

December 17, 2014 12:36 am

Tech-savvy millennials aren’t the only ones seeking an upgrade at home. This holiday season, more homeowners are seeking to outfit their homes with devices designed for maximum convenience and security. Which features do high-tech homeowners covet most? Consumer Reports highlights the top choices on smart homeowner wish lists:
Wireless meat thermometer – Perfect for entertaining, a wireless meat thermometer provides hosts with wireless alerts when food reaches a safe temperature.

Smart slow cookers – Smart slow cookers can be controlled and monitored directly from a smartphone – ideal for homeowners who are gone for most of the day. And despite this technological addition, most versions can still be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Robotic vacuum cleaners – Who doesn’t want to come home to a clean house? Robotic vacuum cleaners are a good option for homeowners with little time on their hands, and can be set to run whenever people or pets aren’t present.

Color-changing LED light bulbs – For those who want to consume less electricity and save on bills each month, a color-changing LED light bulb can be brightened or dimmed depending on desired usage. There are even models with color-changing and pulsating options to create a fun atmosphere for guests. Simply set the bulbs up on your Wi-Fi network at home.

Touchscreen locks – The ultimate in home security, a touchscreen deadbolt connects to your home using compatible automation or security devices. Combined with standard key and remote smartphone capabilities, a touchscreen door lock can be your most powerful safety measure against intruders.
Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simplicity Rules Home Design in 2015

December 16, 2014 12:30 am

With the end of the year drawing near, many homeowners plan to set aside time to outline household expenses for the coming year – and many will be factoring home improvements into the equation, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute.

If you’re carving out room in next year’s budget for home upgrades, consider incorporating some of the trends set to fuel the design industry. For 2015, the Delta Faucet Company points to natural aesthetics, bold motifs and streamlined style. How do you turn those abstract trends into concrete home improvements? Get started with these tips:

Natural Aesthetics
Organic shapes, woods washed with color, powdery surfaces and uneven edges – the natural trend continues to gain favor among home design enthusiasts. Look for overstated colors found in nature, such as blurred bronze, worn copper or oxidized tones. Integrate softer hues into the home with earth tones such as soft gray, sky and sand.

Inspiration: Transform a stained piece of wood into a kitchen countertop, or incorporate stag horn ferns into a wall mount.

Bold Motifs
Simply put, this trend has an outgoing, courageous disposition. Look for feminine curves paired with boisterous colors, such as subtle creams next to loud lace or robust oversized floral patterns.
Pretty and practical is the name of the game.

Inspiration: Showcase your favorite print in a large frame for a beautiful living room backdrop, or collect a variety of frames in different finishes and shapes to construct a unique home gallery.

Streamlined Style
Simplistic design paired with angled blocking results in a balanced and clean environment. Combine geometric profiles with luxury and warmth by pairing tempered metals, such as a clean copper, with marble.

Inspiration: Increase bath space by mounting wall units with steel frames for a clean, structured look.

Source: Delta Faucet Company

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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