June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
jcroissette@remax440.com

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3 Tips for Staying Hydrated This Summer

July 28, 2014 1:33 am

(Family Features) As warmer temperatures heat up the summer nationwide, being prepared for the season's outdoor activities means more than sunscreen protection and appropriate dress. Health experts state that keeping yourself hydrated by drinking enough water and other beverages when temperatures rise is critical to safely enjoying the fun of the season.

"While we typically put time and thought into what we'll serve at family barbeques or which foods to bring to the beach or park, we sometimes overlook the need to hydrate throughout the day, particularly on hot summer days," says registered dietitian Lisa Katic.

If you feel thirsty or worn down, it's a sign you're likely already past the need to re-hydrate," Katic suggests. She offers three hydration-related tips to remember when packing the cooler for summer outings or enjoying warm weather days:

1. Bring enough water.

Remembering to drink water before, during and after activities is important, but especially when doing outdoor or intense activities in the summer months. Experts with the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association note that water intake improves overall mental and physical health, and improves heart function while reducing both actual and perceived exertion. The Institute of Medicine recommends a total fluid intake of 11 eight-ounce cups (91 ounces total) a day for women and 15 cups for men (125 ounces total), including fluid from all foods and beverages. Katic recommends keeping an extra supply of bottled water in your car, garage, pool and other easily accessible places. Remember, if water isn't your favorite beverage choice, there are plenty of other beverages to choose from, all of which can help keep you hydrated.

2. Diet beverages help with hydration.
Katic says there are too many myths about diet beverages, such as sodas and teas. For example, you may have heard that they can make you hungrier or dehydrate you. This simply isn't the case based on the body of science. In fact, a recent clinical trial published in the June issue of the journal "Obesity" found that dieters who drank diet beverages as part of an overall weight loss program were able to not only lose weight successfully, but also reported feeling less hungry.

3. Don't forget foods can hydrate too.
Summer snack favorites such as watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe are fruits with a high water content of 90 to 91 percent, while veggies like lettuce, tomatoes and celery are even higher, containing as much as 95 percent water.

Beyond the heat of summer, Katic says it's also a good idea to make hydration a part of your everyday life year round. "Staying hydrated also has been shown to reduce the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, exercise asthma and hyperglycemia."

Source: EatRight.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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10 Investment Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

July 28, 2014 1:33 am

1. View the home as a form of recreation, not an investment.
If you buy one, make sure, above all, that this is a house and an area you enjoy. It will be worth the cost if you spend as much time there as possible, put your heart and soul into caring for it or plan to keep the home in the family for future generations.

2. Approach joint property investments carefully.
These types of agreements can start wars even in the warmest families. Set down some rules about the percentages of ownership accorded each party and what rights those percentages confer.

3. Don't buy outside the country.
In other countries, rules about title and ownership are not as clear as they are in the United States. In many countries, you run the risk of your property being ransacked or nationalized.

4. Research all four seasons before you buy.

It's a good idea to visit the area in which you plan to buy during every season.

5. Make sure the house and location make a good rental.
If you're really going to work to rent out the property, make sure it's well suited for vacationers.

6. Work with an agent who knows the area.
The agent can also be a great resource for little-known information on hidden bonds and community events.

7. Don't buy a timeshare.
Even in a good economy, it's hard to sell a timeshare.

8. Buy an existing home instead of land.
To build a house from the ground up, you may have to deal with coastal authorities, local building restrictions, aggressive homeowners associations and sketchy contractors.

9. Factor in extra costs.
In additional to the loan, you'll have to cover taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities. If you live more than an hour away, you might have to factor in the cost of a caretaker or property manager.

10. Buy only what you can afford.
You simply enter what you make and what you owe, and the calculator will tell you how much more the banks will lend you.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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4 Questions Every Home Seller Asks

July 28, 2014 1:33 am

Are you thinking about selling your home this spring? If so, you're likely to have many questions—especially if you've never sold a house before. It's helpful to understand the basics.

Brett Furman, a broker/owner in St. Davids, Pennsylvania suggests asking these four questions every home seller asks:

What makes a house sell? The five biggest factors are price, terms, condition, location and market exposure.

When is the best time to sell? As soon as you decide it is. In order to receive top dollar for your house, it is important to give yourself as much time as possible to get the house ready. More time means more potential buyers have a chance to see your home, ultimately resulting in more offers and more options for you.

Is there any seasonality to the market? Early spring and early fall are the prime seasons. People like to move in by the holidays or the start of a new school year. "The time of year you sell shouldn't dominate when you sell. It's best to do it when you're ready and, if possible, give yourself as much time as you can," says Furman.

What about price trends, interest rate and the economy in general? When interest rates are low, there will likely be more potential buyers. When inventory is tight, it benefits the seller.

"The ultimate decision of when to sell your house is guided by your family's needs. These factors usually won't have a bearing on when you list your home for sale," says Furman.

Source: www.homesellerhandbook.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Ways to Save at the Amusement Park

July 25, 2014 12:57 am

According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, more than half of Americans plan to visit an amusement park this summer, with more than a quarter spending over $1,000 on the visit. Families can keep costs down by making the visit budget-friendly. Here are five ways to save on amusement park admission:

1. Plan (and purchase) in advance. Rather than purchasing day-of tickets, consider purchasing tickets online. Some parks offer discounted rates if purchased ahead of time, which can save a significant amount on the ticket cost combined. It's also worth checking park websites for flash sales and other discounts. Purchasing tickets as part of a combined package with other attractions can also save on individual costs.

2. Look beyond park-specific promotions. Coupon sites like RetailMeNot and flash sale sites like Groupon and LivingSocial often post a collection of deals and discounts to amusement parks. Membership groups like AAA and AARP also offer discounts to theme parks, and some credit cards provide special promotions to cardholders.

3. Don't overlook multi-day passes. For families spending more than one day in the area, or who live within close distance to an amusement park, purchasing a season- or multi-day pass can help save hundreds. Season passes can also provide additional bonuses like exclusive ride times and free or discounted parking.

4. Spend the night. Many parks partner with nearby hotels to extend special offerings to hotel guests, such as discount tickets, complimentary breakfast or early park entry. Some packages also include transportation to and from the park to help families save on the cost of parking.

5. Time your visit wisely. Some parks offer discount tickets after a certain hour in the day. If you don't mind a shortened visit, or don't have time to spend an entire day at the park, check to see if there are half-day or evening tickets at a discounted rate. Visitors may save as much as half-off by taking advantage of off-peak deals.

Source: Family Vacation Critic

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Combining Focal Points: Your Fireplace and Television

July 25, 2014 12:57 am

(BPT) - When choosing a focal point for a room, designers and homeowners alike often plan for a single feature – windows, TVs, artwork, or fireplaces – to take center stage. However, the explosion of flat screen TVs for every room in the home has created a debate – can you really have more than one focal point?

Online resources and various design blogs have made it easy for homeowners to discuss that question, with many in favor of combining two features that typically stand out on their own – fireplaces and TVs – on one wall to blend the warm and comforting aesthetics of a fireplace with easy TV access.

In large rooms with adequate space, TVs above the fireplace can create an ideal angle of vision. In fact, stacking TVs and fireplaces can be a great choice for several reasons:

Easy design: Combining two elements in one location makes it easier to design the rest of the room, allowing for a single grouping of chairs and couches. In some room designs, it also leaves room for other areas to be turned into reading corners or small work spaces.

Enhanced functionality: Open-concept floor plans and homes that have the kitchen, eating and living area combined into an open great room are perfect for placing the TV and fireplace on the same wall. This arrangement provides optimal viewing of the TV while cooking in the kitchen or relaxing in the eating area, while also incorporating the warmth and comfort of the fireplace.

Subtle style: Higher placement makes a TV less obvious when a person first walks into the room. Visitors notice a beautiful fireplace, especially when lit, and may only observe the TV if it’s turned on. Plus, there are other decorating tricks designers can use if a homeowner really doesn’t want the TV to stand out, like hiding it behind a painting or mirrors.

For a quick living room update, consider placing your TV above the fireplace to create a warm, welcoming and inviting space. You might also install a fireplace to your existing TV room to add relaxation and ambiance.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Make Outdoor Living Easier with the Right Lights

July 25, 2014 12:57 am

Looking to spend your days outside this summer? How about your nights? Enjoy outdoor living long after the sun goes down with lighting that adds both beauty and safety. From evening dinners to late night cocktails, the right outdoor lighting can provide sophistication and ambiance to set the mood.

Light the way to a better outdoor living space this season with the helpful tips from the experts at Trex:

Safety First
– A well-lit outdoor living space is not only welcoming, but helps make guests feel more secure while walking. Brighten walkways with warm, focused lights like Trex LandscapeLighting Path Lights. For stairs, consider using riser lights to illuminate each step.

Added Ambiance – Don’t let harsh lighting spoil a nice summer night. Add soft lighting to specific areas on your deck or patio, such as a kitchen and seating and dining areas. Trex LandscapeLighting Spotlights use the latest LED technology to shine a beautifully bright light through a modest head. When not in use, they’re designed to practically disappear into their surroundings.

Customization – Outdoor lighting allows you to transform your deck into a customized creation. Highlight architectural features, gazebos, pergolas or trellises bringing together design and function. For a sophisticated look find lights that provide illumination for landscaping and small structures.

Source: Trex

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Easy Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bills

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

Cutting coupons and shopping sales are good ways to save on groceries – and since the average U.S. household spends more than $4,000 a year on food, saving money is a worthwhile goal.

But if you’re willing to plan a bit, and expend a little effort, Money Talks consumer expert Stacy Johnson suggests 10 relatively easy ways to slash your monthly food spend:
  • Try generic – Store-labeled boxed and canned foods can save you up to 50 percent over famous-name counterparts. Some are better than the originals, others not so much. Try them to see which work for you.
  • Shop top and bottom shelves – Manufacturers pay for eye-level display. Bargains on similar products are often available if you scan the top and bottom shelves.
  • Seek other sources – Take time to check out discount retailers and local farmer’s markets to see how the savings add up. A package of romaine lettuce hearts for a buck at the 99 Cents store is half the price you’ll find at most supermarkets.
  • Plan meals around the ads – Use the bargains trumpeted in the market circular each week as the basis for family meals – and shop strictly from a list.
  • Make your own – Homemade cookies, sauces or jams made from cheap summer fruits taste better than many you can buy. Take advantage of seasonal bargains. Cook. Freeze. Enjoy.
  • Slice and dice it yourself – Buy the whole pineapple on sale for two bucks or the cut-up container for nearly twice that? You will reap big savings by cutting up chickens, grating cheese, and cleaning veggies on your own.
  • Plan for leftovers – Buying meats and other foods in larger quantities is often cheaper than buying small packages. Cook more than you need at one time and freeze leftovers for a second dinner or several lunches.
  • Substitute cheaper ingredients – A recipe may call for expensive gruyere, but a cheaper Swiss cheese will probably do. Check out The Cook’s Thesaurus or online sources for food substitutions that work.
  • Save free condiments – Those take-out packets of mustard, ketchup and soy sauce can save you money if you save and use them.
  • Cut down on bottled water – Unless the water from your faucet is not fit to drink, bottle it and keep it in the fridge. Fill commuter cups or refill bottles as needed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Five Remodeling Projects That Add Resale Value

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

When considering which rooms to renovate in your home, it’s important to keep in mind which upgrades are likely to give you the greatest return on your investment. A recent report by Remodeling magazine indicates the top five projects that recoup the most dollars at resale.

1. Kitchen – The best way to increase your home’s value is to do a complete kitchen renovation. Aside from stainless steel appliances and modern finishes on cabinets and countertops, upgrade the room’s electrical and plumbing systems to get the most bang for your buck.

2. Master bedroom – Whether you choose a full renovation or simple cosmetic changes, updates to a master bedroom are well worth the money. For a master bedroom overhaul, consider adding an en suite bath and fireplace. For smaller improvements, create a sitting area, install double sinks, and add plenty of closet space.

3. Open floor plan – Entertainment areas are a must in today’s homes, so reconfiguring a living space is a wise investment. Removing walls around your kitchen drives an open concept and makes it easy for homeowners to attend to guests.

4. Two-story addition – Although expensive, two-story additions expand square footage; one 2two-story addition can add up to three extra rooms. However, it is often a lengthy project that requires a family to relocate temporarily.

5. Basement
– Finished basements add living space, but they will only increase resale value if basements are common in the neighborhood and region. Be sure to carefully consider whether a renovation is right for you.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top 10 Best Cities for Recreation

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

WalletHub recently took an in-depth look at the nation’s best cities for recreation. Using 24 key metrics to compare 100 of the largest U.S. cities, the network highlights the most diverse opportunities for recreation, sports and culture. The survey explored a number of factors— from the cost of movie tickets and parkland acreage to the affordability of food prices and spending on parks per resident — that contribute to the overall quality of each city’s offerings.

The best cities for recreation:

1. Cincinnati, OH
2. Orlando, FL
3. Omaha, NE
4. Minneapolis, MN
5. Tampa, FL
6. St. Petersburg, FL
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Boise, ID
9. Buffalo, NY
10. Sacramento, CA

Source: WalletHub

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Low-Emissive Windows Are Key to Green-Home Building

July 23, 2014 12:33 am

According to the latest NAHB Remodelers survey, high-performing, Low-emissive (Low-E) windows are the most common green building products used by residential remodelers.

So what's the low down on Low-E? Enter Nick Gromicko and Ethan Ward representing the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (nachi.org).

They say Low-emissivity glass, aka low-E glass, uses a microscopically thin and virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layer incorporated in the glazing surface to control heat transfer through insulated windows, reducing energy loss by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Low solar-gain low-E glass is also spectrally selective and is best suited to cooling-dominated climates, where the biggest concern for windows is blocking heat transmission. These windows are made with sputtered low-E coatings that consist of either two or three layers of silver. They are sometimes called double-silver or triple-silver low-E windows.

The report goes on to say, that installing low-E windows can provide significant energy efficiency and savings, especially in hotter climates where windows with a low solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) are most effective.

Computer simulations have shown that advanced window glazing with spectrally selective low-E coatings may reduce electric space-cooling requirements of new homes in hot climates by more than 40 percent.

Full disclosure: Nick and Ethan also report that low-E windows are the culprit of melted vinyl siding installed on nearby houses and buildings. Apparently, intense heat reflected by the windows can be focused on neighboring surfaces, similar to the burning effect of pin pointing the sun rays through a magnifying glass.

The effect has caused numerous claims because of melted or distorted siding and several fires according to the NACHI report. In our next Remodeling Month report, we'll chill and take a look at energy saving HVAC systems.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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