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RE/MAX 440
Janine VanLuvanee
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie  PA 18944
 Phone: 267-259-2810
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Cell: 267-259-2810
Fax: 267-354-6259 
jvanluvanee@remax440.com
Janine VanLuvanee

My Blog

The 15 Most Popular Kitchen and Bath Features

March 17, 2016 12:52 am

Kitchens and bathrooms remain the primary focus for homeowners upgrading their homes—and many are introducing cutting-edge features into their designs. These modern appointments, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), are mostly centered in the kitchen.

“Because kitchens are so central to the home, people feel it’s important to spend time and money selecting materials and appliances that reflect who they are and make them feel good,” says Dawn Zuber, chair of the AIA’s Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN). “Architectural lighting is a key component in good kitchen design, too, as it allows people not only to see what they are doing, but to highlight the cabinets, countertops, and appliances that are important to them.”

According to the AIA, the most popular kitchen features and products are:

1. LED Lighting
2. Computer Area/Recharging Station
3. Upper-End Appliances
4. Larger Pantry Space
5. Drinking Water Filtration System
6. Double Island
7. Adaptability/Universal Design

“Many of the new kitchen features that were really growing in popularity a few years ago have leveled off, such as larger pantry space and double islands,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Popularity in LED lighting and upper-end appliances continues to grow at a strong rate.”

In bathrooms, the most popular features and products are:

1. LED Lighting
2. Stall Shower (No tub)
3. Doorless Shower
4. Large Walk-In Shower
5. Adaptability/Universal Design
6. Water-Saving Toilets
7. Radiant Heated Floors
8. Upscale Shower

Source: AIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best and Worst Times to Book a Flight

March 16, 2016 12:46 am

Did I really get the best deal, or should I have waited for more savings?

With airline rates seemingly changing on an hour-by-hour basis, it can be difficult to determine the best time to book a flight. A recently released study hopes to narrow down that window.

“54 days [out] is a good number to start with, but it’s important to know that every trip is different," says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, which conducted the study. "That's why we have what we call the ‘Prime Booking Window,’ which is between 21 and 112 days before departure. For most domestic trips, the best time to buy will be somewhere in that range.”

The Prime Booking Window is ideal for bargain hunters because fares fluctuate often, sometimes day to day. Look for cheap airline tickets frequently during this period, and don’t hesitate to book if a deal pops up, Klee says.

This finding debunks the perception that first-comers reap the most savings. Those booking 197 to 335 days out may have their pick of flight times, nonstop options and seats, but they also pay an average of $50 more per ticket than they would during the Prime Booking Window. Similarly, those booking 113 to 196 days out pay an average of $20 more per ticket than they would in the Prime Booking Window.

On the other end of the spectrum, fares vary wildly 14 to 20 days out. Depending on how full flights are, travelers may get a fantastic deal, or they may pay significantly more, Klee says. As expected, popular flights during peak seasons are less likely to have low fares in this window, according to the study.

And last-minute bookers— those making arrangements at zero hour—pay an average of $75 more per ticket than those booking in the Prime Booking Window. That premium shoots up to $200 in the six days before the flight.

“Generally, a trip price starts off high, slowly drops and then starts to climb a few weeks before the flight,” Klee explains. “People ask all the time if it's true that at the last minute the airlines have unsold seats that they practically give away, but that's rarely the case.”

Source: CheapAir®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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An Entertainer's Dream: The Blueprint for a Built-In Bar

March 16, 2016 12:46 am

(BPT)—Planning to entertain guests in your home? Become the host or hostess with the most (or most-ess) with a feature that’s a mainstay at most parties: the built-in bar.

“Today, the term ‘built-in bar’ covers a variety of possible set-ups,” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center (www.hardwoodinfo.com).

At its simplest, a bar may occupy the end of a kitchen island—nothing more than a short length of dedicated countertop above a neat grid of cubbyholes to store wine and a small fridge. Slightly more ambitious bars comprise a niche or door-less closet fitted with wood shelves and cabinets, a countertop and perhaps a faucet and sink. A step above are more imposing versions, like the modern equivalent of a traditional butler's pantry—fully-plumbed stations where not only drinks, but also hors d'oeuvres can be prepared and served.

"Many houses and apartments have a closet or unused space that can easily be converted into an attractive and useful built-in bar," says Laura Bohn, a New York-based interior designer. "If you live in a house with stairs, the space beneath them is often an ideal place to install a small, modestly-equipped drinks center. It should be able to accommodate enough countertop to prepare cocktails, enough storage for a liquor cabinet, and maybe enough room for a fridge or wine cooler."

One advantage of using such confined spaces for built-in bars is that they can be closed off when not in use, so that a commandeered closet looks just like a closet, or an appropriated staircase looks just like a staircase.

However, "a well-designed, well-crafted hardwood mini-bar needn't be hidden. Made of walnut, cherry or some other distinctive wood—my favorite is maple—it can be an integral and pleasing a part of the décor," Bohn adds.

Ideally, larger butler's pantry-style built-in bars are located discreetly in transitional spaces between kitchens and adjacent dining or living rooms. In today's open-concept homes, such built-in bars, often dubbed buffets, are likely in either the kitchen or living area itself—wall-spanning installations in full view of guests.

"Walnut is very popular right now for this type of bar," says Christine Donner, a Connecticut-based kitchen designer. "It is an elegant wood and its cool tones complement the white-and-silver palette that my clients currently favor. It can be bleached to a lighter tone, left natural or stained much darker, almost all the way to black. Limed oak, bleached to a lovely honey-blonde color, has a marvelous midcentury-modern feel that is slowly catching on, too."

And functionality is as important as aesthetics. "Wine connoisseurs often have an extensive collection of varietal-specific glasses that they want displayed, so I get asked a lot for glass-fronted cabinets with interior lighting," Donner says. "Much of this stemware is oversize or extra tall, so I make sure the shelves can accommodate their height. And I always include solid-door cabinets to stow motley collections of assorted liquor bottles."

Cabinetry can also be used to conceal icemakers, refrigerators, bottle-cooling drawers, dishwashers and other unsightly appliances and equipment.

A sink, while not a necessity, can be practical, as well.

“Less for the water coming out of the spout than as a place to dump out old drinks or melted ice,” says Donner.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make a Note: 8 Home Maintenance Chores to Stay on Top Of

March 16, 2016 12:46 am

Regularly scheduled maintenance checks can help prevent equipment breakdowns while keeping all of your mechanical, plumbing, HVAC and other critical home systems running smoothly and efficiently.

Homeowners should schedule the following checks once every six months, according to Homestructions.com:

Check Washer and Dryer – Check hoses for leaks, replace the hoses if needed and clean the lint from the ducts of your dryer.

Clean A/C Coils – Dirt and dust will settle on the condenser coils of your A/C, and this prevents your unit from cooling down the air. Be sure to clean the dust that is sitting on the coils and grills of your unit to extend the life of your A/C.

Seal Tile Grout – The only way to prevent the moisture from accumulating under tile is to seal the grout. Prevent mold and mildew growth by sealing once every six months and you can prevent moisture from sitting in areas that will not dry out.

Homestructions.com also recommends adding the following chores to your maintenance calendar each month:

Change A/C and Heater Air Filters – If you have a forced air system, by changing the filter, you can improve the air quality in your home and also reduce the stress you put on your A/C and heating system.

Check Water Softener Salt Levels – If the amount in the salt drum is low, add salt to prevent hard water.

Clear Dishwasher Clogs – If you use your dishwasher on a regular basis, make time to clean out the drain bin on a monthly basis. All of those food particles that are caked onto your dishes will wash down into the drain bin and clog the drain if it is not cleaned.

Maintain the Garbage Disposal – If you do not flush the disposal with hot water and baking soda, the grime will accumulate and lead to a serious problem.

And lastly, be sure your fire extinguisher is charged—this is more of a safety reminder than a maintenance issue.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Does Credit Matter for Retirees?

March 15, 2016 1:40 am

The answer, says Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of credit reporting agency TransUnion, is a resounding yes.

“Despite the misperception that credit loses importance later in life, the fact remains that your credit score is a vital financial tool at every age,” says Chaplin. “Baby boomers need to prepare their credit score for retirement so they have the tools to fund financial obligations later in life.”

Nearly half of baby boomers incorrectly believe their credit score matters less after age 70, and many have a mixed understanding of the relationship between credit scores and financial obligations, according to a recent survey by the agency.

Seventy percent of boomers cited in the survey agree that a healthy credit score is required for refinancing a mortgage, but less (61 percent) recognized the importance of a healthy credit score when co-signing on loans, and even less (32 percent) said they believed a strong credit score may be necessary to enter a nursing home or long-term care facility.

“As Americans age, good credit can not only help them finance medical expenses and long-term care, but also help them support children, grandchildren and other family members as they take on middle-life expenses, like buying a house or paying for school,” Chaplin explains.

There are several actions pre-retirees can take to establish and maintain good credit throughout retirement, says Chaplin. One of the most important is to stay credit-active by using credit cards regularly and paying them off in full each month.

“Most retirees are past the point of making major purchases such as a new house or car,” Chaplin says, “but that doesn’t mean you should stop using your credit cards.”

Bear in mind unused cards may be closed due to inactivity, Chaplin adds. A credit card closure will impact your available credit ratio and have a negative impact on your score.

Source: TransUnion®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Leak Detectives: 3 Tips to Save Water at Home

March 15, 2016 1:40 am

 Did you know more than one trillion gallons of water are wasted each year by easy-to-fix household leaks?

“Not only do leaks waste precious water, they could be adding 10 percent to your utility bill,” says Shawn M. Garvin, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “By taking just minutes to detect leaks at home, the average family could save more than 10,000 gallons of water every year.”

To locate leaks in your home, simply, check, twist and replace:

Check for silent toilet leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank at the back of the toilet. Wait 10 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak.

Twist faucet, shower and pipe connections tightly to avoid leaks, or screw on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator.

Replace broken or leaky fixtures with WaterSense-labeled models, which are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well (or better) than standard models.

To learn more about conserving water in your home, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak.

Source: EPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is It Better to Own Near Target or Walmart?

March 15, 2016 1:40 am

Research has shown that homes situated near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods see significant increases in value. Can big-box retailers have a similar effect?

According to an analysis by housing data leader RealtyTrac®, homes near a Target store see higher home value and appreciation than those near Walmart—but homeowners near Target pay higher property taxes.

Of homeowners who sold last year, those near a Target saw an average 27 percent increase in price since they purchased their home (an average price gain of $65,569); those near a Walmart saw an average 16 percent appreciation (an average price gain of $24,900). Homeowners who own near a Target pay an average of $7,001 in property taxes, which is 123 percent more than the $3,146 average paid by homeowners who own near a Walmart.

Homes near a Target also have a higher value: $307,286, on average. This is 72 percent higher than the $178,249 average value for homes near a Walmart.

Comparatively, the average price appreciation nationwide is 22 percent (an average price gain of $40,626), the average property tax nationwide is $4,283, and the average home value nationwide is $215,921.

Source: RealtyTrac®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

March 14, 2016 12:34 am

Cold weather can be hard on everyone—including your pets. When it’s chilly outside, it’s important to consider their safety. Remember: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them!

“Our pets are members of our family, and the fact that they can’t tell us what they are feeling can make them the most vulnerable members when cold weather hits,” says Deborah C. Mandell, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and veterinarian at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “There are some simple steps any pet owner can take to make sure pets stay safe.”

These steps, Mandell says, include bringing your pets indoors and ensuring they have access to food and drinking water. If your pet cannot come indoors, protect them in a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough for them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in their body heat. Raise the floor of the shelter a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Bear in mind, adds Mandell, that salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them. Be sure, also, to wipe up antifreeze spills immediately and store it out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion.

Source: American Red Cross

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners: Make This the Year for Eliminating Fertilizers

March 14, 2016 12:34 am

We often discuss holistic ways to improve your health, household and environment. With warm weather approaching, it's time to consider eliminating chemical fertilizers.

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), most commercial fertilizers boost plant growth rapidly. But too commonly, these high potency fertilizers are overused, ending up as phosphorus and nitrate in groundwater and small streams.

In New England and along Long Island Sound, we've seen the poisoning of aquatic life and severe oxygen deficiencies result from these chemicals reaching local and regional water sources.

So, what you can do? The NWF says:

• You can reduce fertilizer potency and application rates and still improve plant health. "Natural" fertilizers, such as composts and pasteurized manures, are preferable, as they release a much greater variety of nutrients more slowly.

• If commercial fertilizers are used, choose a slow-releasing fertilizer.

• Make and use compost in the landscape and save landfill space.

• Plant cover crops, like buckwheat and clovers. These plants add or "pump up" nutrients to the root zone and physically improve the soil.

• Try composted sludge, which is derived from sewage or industrial processes.

• Grow native plants. Many native plants will grow very well with only an annual application of leaf mulch or with an annual cultural practice, such as mowing or burning.

What if your basement, garage or shed is stocked with fertilizers or other gardening chemicals?

The Integrated Pest management experts at the University of California, Davis have a few tips on disposing of pesticides and fertilizers:

• If you can’t use up your pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers, consider giving them away.

• Sewage treatment plants aren’t designed to remove all toxic chemicals from wastewater. Pouring garden chemicals into a storm drain, down the sink or in the toilet is never an option—and it is against the law!

• The only allowable way to dispose of pesticides is to use them up according to label directions or to take them to a household hazardous waste site.

To find Household Hazardous Waste Disposal sites nearest you, visit www.earth911.com, enter your zip code and what you need to recycle, and the interactive map will get you there.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spring Cleaning: A Room by Room Checklist

March 14, 2016 12:34 am

For many homeowners, spring cleaning is a much-needed, yet overwhelming task. In fact, some even avoid it altogether!

The truth is, spring cleaning is best approached by breaking down the task room by room, says Merry Maids home cleaning expert Debra Johnson.

“The most common cleaning challenge homeowners face is figuring out where to start," says Johnson. “Having a set cleaning plan and breaking it up room by room makes tasks more manageable, and may even help you clean areas you often ignore.”

Johnson’s plan includes:
 
Kitchen

• Deodorize the garbage disposal with a half cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar mixed with hot water.
• Degrease the microwave by heating up half a lemon in hot water for 10 minutes, then wiping grime away.
• Empty the refrigerator and wash shelves with warm, soapy water.
• Use dishwashing liquid and warm water to clean cabinet fronts, and degrease appliances with an all-purpose cleaner.

Bathroom

• Steam-clean the floor to restore the true color of the tiles.
• Use a non-abrasive cleaning detergent to scrub the inside of the tub, toilet and sink.
• Wipe inside of cabinets, clean the mirror and toss old cosmetics and expired medicines.

Bedroom

• Dust behind headboards.
• Sort closets and create a "keep" and "donate" pile for your clothes.
• Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and vacuum slowly.
• Wash bedspreads, mattress covers and duvets. Flip your mattress before making the bed with clean linens.

Living Room

• Launder or dry clean curtains, then dust windows, window sills, coffee tables and shelves.
• Remove all accessories from tables and shelves, thoroughly dusting with a microfiber cloth as you go.
• Wash or dry-clean pillows and steam-clean any remaining upholstery and carpeting.

Tackle each room separately using this checklist, says Johnson. Your spring cleaning chores will be finished in no time!

Source: Merry Maids

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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