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

Homeowners: Make the Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting

October 8, 2014 1:41 am

At the start of 2014, manufacturers of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs ceased operations in a nationwide bid to support energy-efficient alternatives. As a result, homeowners seeking new bulbs can only purchase LED (light-emitting diode) or other comparable lighting.

"LEDs use about 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and the average homeowner would use about 25 incandescent bulbs before just one LED bulb burned out," says Lou Manfredini, Ace Home Expert. "Though the upfront cost might be more than you are used to paying, LEDs save money over time on both replacement and energy costs.”

Manfredini suggests that homeowners upgrade lighting fixtures in all areas of their homes. He recommends following these guidelines.
  • Upgrade your bulbs in phases. Replace hard-to-reach bulbs first – like those in vaulted ceilings – along with the bulbs you use the most. It could be decades before you have to borrow your neighbor's ladder to change a light bulb again and you'll see the most immediate energy savings by swapping out the fixtures that are turned on for the longest period of time each day.
  • Choose the right light. Be sure to consider the fixture when choosing the proper LED bulb. Omni-directional lighting provides the widest range of light distribution and is the best choice for any main fixture like vanities, pendants, table lamps, ceiling lights and chandeliers. Non-omni-directional bulbs are best for areas like closets or stairwells where you want a spotlight effect.
  • Decide on a soft or bright light. LED bulbs are extremely efficient and will be a part of your home décor for 15-30 years, so you want to create the right ambiance. For rooms that are used primarily for entertaining or relaxing, warm bulbs are a great choice. Their amber tint will give off a cozy, soft white light. Bulbs resembling daylight are perfect for crafting or reading rooms, as they make whites brighter and help if you are concentrating on details. When in doubt, 800 lumens is a good, all-purpose brightness level for most spaces.
  • Get the best look and longest life from your LED light bulbs. Be sure to get dimmable or 3-way bulbs for fixtures and lamps on these types of switches. And, if you have traditional dimmer switches, you'll need to update to a universal dimmer switch. The upgrade is usually quick and easy and will regulate the currents to the electronic circuits in an LED bulb so it won't flicker, hum or burn out prematurely.
Source: Ace Hardware

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Fall Allergy Sufferers Advised to Reduce Indoor Allergens

October 7, 2014 1:40 am

Fall is often a miserable time for people suffering from allergies and asthma due to high levels of ragweed pollen, outdoor mold and other triggers. For individuals dealing with allergy issues this year, Mike Tringale, senior vice president at AAFA, offers a few tips:

1. Consult a board-certified allergy specialist in your area. The AAFA website includes a list of local and regional clinics that specialize in allergy and asthma treatment and education.

2. Understand your diagnosis and reduce exposure to those specific triggers. While it is very difficult to completely remove household allergens, with the proper measures, allergens can be reduced to manageable level.

3. Place Certified allergen-barrier bedding on your mattresses and pillows. Wash your bedding at least once a week in 130+ degree hot water to kill mites and their eggs.

4. Frequently dust hard surfaces with moist cloths or dry dusters that trap allergens.

5. Use high-filtration bags in the vacuum and clean the carpet frequently.

According to Tringale, Americans spend more than $10 billion each year on non-medical products that they hope will help reduce their exposure to asthma and allergy triggers at home.

Source: Protect-A-Bed

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Stay Productive with Smart Home Office Design

October 7, 2014 1:40 am

(BPT) - Whoever first said, "You can't go home again," probably wasn't considering the 38 million home-based businesses in the United States, or the approximately 37 million households that have active home offices. More workers are plying their trade from home, as employers recognize the value of flexibility for their work force and more employees decide to enter the ranks of American entrepreneurship.

It's not just small business owners or lucky full-time employees who are working from home, either; the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 24 percent of people employed outside the home work at home at least some of the time. If you're poised to become home-based, here are some things to consider as you're putting your home office in order:

Location is key


Without the need to fight rush-hour traffic during a twice-daily commute, you may think the location of your home office isn't that important. Actually, it is. Where your office is located in your home can affect your productivity and even your personal life.

Choose a room that's in your home's heavy traffic lanes, and you could face frequent interruptions. Park your desk in the game room over the garage and you may feel isolated from the rest of the house. Try to stuff a desk in a corner of your bedroom and you'll spend most of your life stuck in the same room - you may even feel less inclined to sleep there if you're always working in your bedroom.

You'll need to balance personal and professional priorities in order to decide which room in the house makes the most sense for your home office.

Good lighting sets the stage for success

The harshness of artificial lighting is a common complaint among people working in offices outside the home. A window in one's office has long been a sign of prestige in cities across the country, and having abundant natural light in a home office is one of the many advantages of working from home. Natural lighting has a mood-boosting impact that's been well-documented, making office workers feel happier, healthier and more productive. What's more, use of natural light can help reduce reliance on artificial lighting and trim utility bills accordingly.

Furnishings create a foundation

Considering how much time you'll spend in your home office, it's important to invest in furnishings that will be functional, comfortable, inspiring and in step with your lifestyle.

If you prefer to sit while you work on a computer, the comfort of your office chair will be key. Prefer to get in a bit of healthful exercise while you work? Consider an ergonomic desk that allows you to stand while you type. Many versions of standing desks also can be lowered for use while seated.

Desks should incorporate storage and easy access to electronic components. Be sure your furniture choices not only fit your needs, but the room's, too. A huge desk may make you feel like a Wall Street CEO, but your enjoyment will evaporate if you don't have space to walk around the desk in a small office. It's important to keep office furniture appropriate to the scale of the room you'll be working in.

Ensuring your home office is set up to inspire can help you achieve greater productivity and satisfaction as you work from home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Most Manufactured-Housing Borrowers Have Costly Loans

October 7, 2014 1:40 am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report which found that manufactured-home owners typically pay higher interest rates for their loans than borrowers whose homes were built onsite. The report also found that manufactured-home owners are more likely to be older, live in a rural area, or have lower net worth.

“Manufactured housing is a critical source of affordable housing for some consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “These consumers may be more financially vulnerable.”

Manufactured homes are commonly referred to as “mobile homes” or “trailers.” They are a specific type of factory-built housing. After the homes are built in a factory, they are then transported on their framework to a retail center or the placement site if they have been purchased. Manufactured homes are required to be built and installed in accordance with standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The report concluded:
  • One out of seven homes outside of a metropolitan area is a manufactured home. Manufactured homes account for only about 6 percent of all occupied U.S. housing. Outside metropolitan areas, however, one out of every seven homes is a manufactured home. These homes are more prevalent in the southeastern and western states. South Carolina has the highest prevalence of manufactured housing in the country, followed by New Mexico.
  • Manufactured-home owners are more likely to be older: Nearly one out of five families that live in manufactured homes do not have children in the home and are headed by someone aged 55 or older—compared with less than 15 percent of families that live in site-built homes.
  • Manufactured-home owners are more likely to have lower net worth. Bureau research has found that manufactured home residents tend to have lower net worth than other families. The 2004–2010 Surveys of Consumer Finances indicate that the median net worth among households that lived in manufactured housing was just about one-quarter the median net worth of families living in all other types of housing.
One of the main differences between a manufactured home and a home built onsite is that manufactured homes may be titled as either real estate property or personal property. A home built onsite is almost always titled as real estate property. For a manufactured home to be titled as real estate property, the home generally must be set on a permanent foundation on land that is owned by the home’s owner. If a manufactured home is titled as personal property, it generally must be financed through a personal property loan, also known as a chattel loan.

Source: CFPB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Organic Foods Best Option for American Families

October 6, 2014 1:40 am

Refuting prior claims to the contrary, conclusive evidence has been found that organic crops, and the food made from them, are nutritionally superior to their conventional counterparts.

A recent study by The Organic Center (TOC), a non-profit associated with the Organic Trade Association, serves to dispel consumer confusion about the benefits of organic. A 2012 Stanford University study claimed that organic foods were no healthier than non-organic, setting off a heated debate on the nutritional value of organic products.

“The nutritional differences between conventional and organic crops have always been a much debated topic,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for TOC. “This significant study reevaluates the issue from a more inclusive, statistically accurate standpoint and strongly shows that organic fruits and vegetables have definite health benefits to conventionally grown products.”

Key findings from the study include:
  • Organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60 percent higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of serious chronic diseases.
  • For the millions of health-minded individuals watching their caloric intake, the amount of extra antioxidants one would consume each day by eating the recommended five servings of organic fruits and vegetables would be equal to one to two additional servings of conventionally grown produce.
  • Conventional foods are four times more likely to contain pesticide residues than organic foods. Exposure to pesticides has been found to affect brain development, especially in young children, and pose a greater risk for pregnant women and men and women of reproductive age.
  • On average, organic crops had 48 percent lower cadmium levels than conventional crops. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal that can cause kidney failure, bone softening and liver damage. It can accumulate in the body, so chronic exposure is dangerous even at low levels.
These findings present a positive update for U.S. families – another recent survey from the Organic Trade Association revealed that eight out of ten now purchase organic products, and nearly half of those families do so out of concern for their children’s health.

Source: OTA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Majority of Millennials to Buy Home with Credit

October 6, 2014 1:40 am

The majority of millennials plan to purchase a home with credit, according to a recent survey of Americans and their credit behavior commissioned by BMO Harris Bank. The survey found that 81 percent of millennials will use a line of credit versus a mortgage or loan when purchasing a home, differing from attitudes expressed by the Sandwich Generation.

Millennials expect to turn to credit for other major future purchases, as well. When financing their entrepreneurial goals, 63 percent will primarily use some form of credit. Millennials were also more likely to use credit when paying for a wedding (29 percent) and to finance a big vacation (32 percent).

"It's not uncommon to use some form of credit for the major purchases in life,” said Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, Head of Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank. “What's most important is having a plan in place before making the purchase of how you're going to pay it off. If it's on a credit card, sporadic, large purchases may harm your credit score by tipping the balance on your credit-to-debt ratio, which should stay under 35 percent. Interest accumulation is another factor to consider.”

Millennials relying on credit should follow these guidelines:
  • Think big picture. Credit card use is one piece of the puzzle in building your credit score. Using a loan or line of credit for major purchases also plays into your rating. Paying down these loans in a timely manner will be beneficial.
  • Opt for low-rates. If you are carrying a balance on a higher rate credit card, consider moving your balances to a low interest-rate loan or line of credit, or a lower-rate credit card.
  • Travel smart. Using a credit card to pay for a vacation (or part of one) can be an opportunity to build up rewards points. Certain cards will also provide insurance for travel-related mishaps, like lost luggage.
  • Consolidate your debt. If eliminating the debt is not possible in the short-term, amalgamate the debt you do have to minimize interest. If you have too many cards, consider getting a line of credit to help clear the balance.
Source: BMO Harris Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

13 Household Fire Safety Tips

October 6, 2014 1:40 am

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 17,500 Americans are injured in fires each year. Given that statistic, families must develop a fire escape plan. Aside from practicing fire drills with everyone in the household, take these steps to ensure safety.
  • Identify fire safety risks inside your home and immediate surroundings. Equip your garage with smoke detectors since garage fires can start easily and spread quickly.
  • Identify two exits -- designate two exits from every room in your home -- a door and a window. Make sure doors and windows open quickly and easily to help ensure a quick exit; if not, replace them for safety's sake.
  • Keep exit routes free of clutter to help reduce tripping or falling hazards, as you may be crawling through smoke or in the dark in a power outage to exit in an emergency.
  • Create a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year with everyone in your household. Make sure house sitters or babysitters are also familiar with your plan.
  • To make your own plan, download a fire escape grid from Pella and draw a floor plan of each level of your home.
  • Install and regularly test smoke alarms in bedrooms and near sleeping areas on each level of your home.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, preferably in a cabinet with a child-resistant lock.
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room, or before you go to sleep. Consider replacing traditional candles with electric candles, especially in homes with children and pets.
  • Completely extinguish outdoor fires like fire pits or grills when you're done with them, and never leave outdoor fires unattended.
  • If your home features more than one story, equip it with a fire escape ladder, easily accessed from upper-level bedrooms. Mark their location on your home fire plan and share this information with your family.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in your home, especially in the kitchen where many home fires start. Replace expired extinguishers.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking. If you must leave for a short time, turn off the stove. When baking, check the oven regularly, and use a timer to help make sure it's shut off when cooking's done.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from things that can burn. Turn off heaters when you leave the room, or before you go to sleep. Keep flammable objects, like rugs, bedding, clothing, furniture, curtains and decorations, away from portable heaters.
Source: Pella Windows and Doors

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Conduct a Safety Assessment in Your New Home

October 3, 2014 1:40 am

Moving into a new home can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Amid unpacking boxes and getting organized, set aside time to walk through your home and evaluate features that impact security. Keep these three areas in mind during your your assessment.

Doors
– All deadbolts should be inspected immediately upon arrival. Ensure that the bolt is made of steel or other durable material, and at least one inch in the length to deter intruders. In addition, check that exterior entryways are protected with solid core doors, rather than the hollow version found in a home’s interior.

Lighting
– More is better than less when it comes to outdoor lighting. Alert you and your family before an incident occurs by installing motion sensor lights along walkways and near the corners of your home.

Plantings – Overgrown shrubs provide the ideal hiding spot for criminals. Prune plantings regularly around access points, such as windows and doors. Alternatively, plant thorny bushes to eliminate the hiding spot altogether.

Source: Safewise

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Four Ways to Save this Halloween

October 3, 2014 1:40 am

(Family Features) As many families with small children know, Halloween is a highly anticipated holiday packed with clever costumes, yummy candies and spirited parties.

But for many parents, the costs associated with this much-loved occasion can be downright frightful. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of $72 on Halloween this year, which comes to $7 billion in spending nationwide. With so many ghoulish get-togethers taking place, many parents are looking for ways to stretch their dollars without missing out on any of the fun.

Enjoy more thrills this season with these money-saving tips.

Choose costumes with options. Going to several Halloween parties, but don't want to spend money on extra costumes? Check out costumes that serve a dual purpose, or choose one costume that can be re-used with different accessories.

Save on ghostly gatherings. There are many ways to celebrate without emptying your pocketbook. Invite friends over for a Halloween potluck and encourage each guest to bring a dish to share with a spooky name. Rent or download classic horror films for an after-dinner movie marathon everyone will enjoy.

Shop from home. Save time and avoid the headache of running around town looking for the perfect costume by shopping online. Buy from retailers that allow shoppers to browse and purchase online, and then pick up in-store for no additional fee.

Trick or treat locally. Many parents spend Halloween evening carting children around to various locations across town. Save gas money by only allowing your little goblins to trick or treat within your neighborhood. This will help you get to know your neighbors and get a little exercise in, too.

Source: Kmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

FICO 9 Changes Could Impact Credit Score

October 3, 2014 1:40 am

With the rollout of FICO’s updated scoring system slated for the near future, it’s important for consumers to continue to practice good credit habits. The Better Business Bureau advises that FICO 9 will result in these three changes, which may impact your credit score.

1. Lack of credit history will be a non-factor. FICO 9’s new algorithm assesses loan risk instead of history, eliminating challenges for young adults or those with little to no credit.

2. Medical debts will hold less weight. Incurring debt from a medical circumstance is often unavoidable. Once FICO 9 goes into effect, experts estimate that those with medical debt and an otherwise good credit history will see a 25-point increase in their score.

3. Collected debt will not be heavily evaluated. Debts paid to a collections agency will have much less of an impact thanks to a forgiveness policy that could result in the addition of 100 points or more to your score.

Source: BBB

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>