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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

Insurance Makes for a Happier Holiday

December 24, 2015 12:40 am

The holidays can be a joyous occasion, especially if you’re a new homeowner. The season can be marred by disaster, however, if insurance considerations are not taken. Having the right insurance coverage as a homeowner can greatly reduce these hazards, say the experts at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

December, for example, is the peak month for fires caused by candles. Christmas tree-related fires, while not as common as candle fires, are much more likely, as well. Fire, smoke and water damage are covered under homeowners and renters insurance policies. To avoid incident, take care when decorating for the holidays not to put decorations too close to a heat source, and never leave the stove unattended while cooking. Always be sure to have smoke alarms in working condition.

December is also one of the most common months in which burglaries occur. Personal possessions are covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies—even holiday gifts stored in your car!

If you're traveling over the holidays, have mail and packages picked up or held by the post office, use automatic timers to turn lights on and off at appropriate times and have a dependable neighbor check on the house periodically to help mitigate the chance of disaster. Additionally, consider making your home more secure with dead-bolt locks, window grates and smoke/fire/burglar alarms. Keep in mind most insurers provide discounts for devices that make a home safer.

Online shopping can also present danger in the form of identity theft. Many standard homeowners insurance policies now include identity theft coverage, and most homeowners and renters policies provide some coverage for stolen cash or unauthorized use of your credit card.

To protect yourself, shop at reputable stores and check your credit card statements regularly, and if you find anything unusual, report it to your credit card company immediately. If your wallet is either lost or stolen, contact the police and your credit card company as soon as you can. 

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Healthy Habits to Adopt ahead of the Holidays

December 23, 2015 1:34 am

(Family Features)—With so many social events that revolve around food, it can be challenging to make healthy choices. To keep your diet in check, take time to establish a plan ahead of social gatherings, says nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert Mitzi Dulan.

“Whether you are hosting an event or attending someone else's celebration, planning ahead can help you stay on track,” says Dulan, a registered dietitian. “Having quick and simple strategies and recipes on hand makes it easy to eat well and keep you feeling great.”

Your plan should include:

Loving what you eat. Be mindful of the food you eat and make every bite count. Enjoying each delicious taste will make it easier to stick to a sensible eating plan. For the foods you do love, look for ways to make them better for you. For example, if pizza is your weakness, substitute a lower-calorie crust and choose toppings that help counteract added fat and calories.

Not skipping meals. Although skipping breakfast may seem like a good way to cut calories, it's a plan that can actually backfire, making you hungrier as the day wears on, and more likely to overeat or sneak unhealthy snacks. Start each day with a well-rounded breakfast to fuel your body. Apply a similar approach to events later in the day, as well. You may be tempted to skip a meal so you can enjoy the treats at a party, but chances are you'll end up overdoing it with high-calorie indulgences, so make sure you fuel up ahead of time.

Eating smaller portions. When you simply must indulge, go ahead, but to do so in moderation. One clever way to keep your portions small: use a tablespoon, not a serving spoon to dish out portions. Eat slowly so your body has time to tell your brain you're full.

Getting your fill in healthy ways. Overeating often comes down to a very basic cause: hunger. Becoming more conscious of how you answer your hunger will help you stay on track. Drinking water before and during events will help to fill you up so you are less likely to consume excess calories. Snacking throughout the day can also help keep hunger at bay; several small, healthy snacks, such as a handful of nuts or trail mix, can help keep you feeling full.

Source: Flatout Flatbread

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Have You Ticked the Boxes on this Holiday Safety Checklist?

December 23, 2015 1:34 am

While it’s no secret traffic incidents spike during holiday travel periods, it is lesser known that a majority of accidents occur in the homes of those celebrating locally, too. Whether you’re hosting holiday celebrations at home or heading to a party elsewhere, it’s important to remain vigilant about safety amid the festivities, urges the National Safety Council (NSC). Tips to consider include:

• Never use lighted candles near trees or boughs.

• Add an extra barrier to fireplaces, as glass panels can reach several hundred degrees within minutes.

• When cooking, wash hands, the sink, utensils and anything else that touches raw meat, and only use sharp knives.

• Make sure your fire extinguisher is up-to-date and your smoke detector batteries are new.

• Gift safely. Understand the dangers associated with coin lithium batteries, which come inside many toys, TV remote controls, watches and even musical holiday cards.

• Be aware of how much alcohol you are serving, and make sure party guests who are drinking have alternative transportation.

• Buckle up, even on short drives.

• Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.

• Safeguard medications from teens and young children while visiting others or hosting guests in your home.

Source: NSC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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2016's Top Paint Color Palettes for the Home

December 23, 2015 1:34 am

New Year, new color.

Nothing transforms the look of a room like a new coat of paint—especially when the color is both on-trend and timeless.

“We believe a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways for people to change their homes for the better,” says Valspar Color Strategist Sue Kim. “But with so many colors to consider, it’s nice to have a little help on the often stressful color selection journey—even when looking for the right shade of white. Choosing a white for doors, trim, ceilings or even a wall can sometimes be harder than choosing a color, so we are simplifying that this year by highlighting four of our most popular."

These varying degrees of white complement Valspar’s color palette picks for 2016, which are:

“Comfort Zone” – Busyness has replaced leisure as a status symbol. Schedules are filled to the brim, we’re all constantly plugged in, and lines are blurred between work and leisure. This palette offers an antidote to this fast-paced lifestyle, with a selection of soft, calm colors, such as fallow brown and powder blue, that balance and restore the mind, body and spirit.

“These muted mid-tones counter-balance busy living are perfect for creating a restful, yet stimulating environment to unwind, relax and recharge,” says Kim. A chalky white blends quietly with these comfy colors.

“Simply Perfect” – The movement toward simplified living inspired this palette of versatile, stylish grays, such as dim gray and silver, that work well in any setting.

“There’s no question that gray is the dominate shade of the decade and today’s default neutral,” Kim says. A clean white is the perfect accent for any of these go-to grays.

“You Do You” – Different is the new normal. Going against the grain is encouraged and applauded, often with the phrase “you do you.” It’s a mantra leading to this trend palette of expressive and uplifting zingy brights, including coral pink, bondi blue and arylide yellow.

“Generations Y and Z are fueling a broader acceptance of individuality, challenging stereotypes and standards of beauty,” says Kim. “These confident, inspired hues encourage you to express yourself in a full color anywhere you’d like whether it be a full room, an accent wall, trim or furniture.” A pure white anchors the boldness of these brights.

“Good Company” – Most of us have high demands for transparency, integrity and authenticity—the fair trade movement and farm-to-table organic food trend are prime examples. This trend is interpreted in this palette, a collection of rich, familiar and enduring artisanal shades, such as camel brown and viridian, inspired by heritage and handcrafted products and materials.

“These deep, pigmented colors evoke a connection to our heritage. We trust the tried-and-true and that is why they are so welcome in our homes today,” says Kim. A linen white embraces the natural richness of these tones.

Source: Valspar

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Top 10 Scams of 2015

December 22, 2015 12:25 am

Varied and sophisticated, schemes by con artists have become more common than ever—and the most popular type this year were tax scams, according to the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) list of Top 10 Scams in 2015. Tax scams garnered more than 2,400 complaints this year from individuals duped by fraudsters posing as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or the Canadian Revenue Agency.

The scenario plays out like this: You receive a phone call from someone who claims to be with the IRS or the CRA. They claim you owe money in back taxes and will be arrested or face legal consequences if you do not pay (usually by wire or prepaid debit card). The caller ID is spoofed to appear to be a government agency or the police.

Debt collection scams, which entail a phone call from someone claiming you have unpaid debt, came in second on the list. The caller will usually threaten wage garnishments, law suits or even jail time if you do not pay immediately.

Third on the list were scams linked to sweepstakes, prizes or gifts, which involve a phone call, letter or email claiming you’ve won a prize in a sweepstakes. In order to receive the prize, you are instructed to send a fee to cover expenses associated with delivery, processing or insurance.

“Scammers are all basically imposters,” says Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Three of the top four scams reported to us are those that scare people with threats of arrest, lawsuits or other frightening actions. Scammers are pretending to be government agents, lawyers, debt collectors and police officers. They engage directly with you, so your best bet to avoid being scammed is to stop engaging, hang up the phone, delete the email and shut the door.”

Rounding out the top 10 list of scams are:

Tech Support Scams – You are contacted by “technicians” claiming to have detected a virus or security threat on your computer, and, for a fee, can log in and correct the problem remotely. These callers are actually hackers trying to steal money or sensitive computer passwords, or damage computers with malicious software.

Government Grant Scams – You receive a phone call, email or letter informing you that you’ve qualified for a government grant. In order to receive the grant, however, you are instructed to send money as a processing or a delivery fee, usually by wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

Advance Fee Loan Scams – While searching for loan information, you see an enticing ad and click through to the website. You fill out an application and soon receive an email or phone call advising that you are approved for the loan, but you must first send a processing fee, security deposit or insurance. You pay the “fee,” but never see the loan.

Credit Card Scams – The scammer pretends to be from your bank or credit card issuer, and they claim that you are now eligible for a lower interest rate, or that they need to verify a recent transaction. The consumer provides the scammer with their credit card number and security code to “verify” their identity.

Work-from-Home Scams – While looking for a job online, you answer an ad for making big bucks while working from home. The job may be stuffing envelopes, posting advertisements, or shipping packages. You could have your identity stolen when you fill out the employment forms, or even end up handling stolen merchandise.

Fake Check or Money Order Scams – This can happen any time someone is paying you for goods or services, even when you are selling something online. You receive a check in the mail that is larger than the amount owed, and you are asked to deposit the check and wire the difference. The check is a fake and when it bounces, you’re out the money.

Lottery Scams – You receive a call, letter, or email advising that you have won a large amount of money in a foreign lottery, but you have to pay upfront for taxes and fees. Such lotteries are illegal. Sometimes you may be sent a check as partial payment, but the check will be counterfeit.

To ward off these types of scams and others, the BBB recommends the following tips:

• Don’t be pressured into making fast decisions.
• Take time to research the organization.
• Never provide your personal information to people you do not know.
• Don’t click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
• Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
• Never send money for an emergency situation unless you can verify the emergency.

Source: BBB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Switch Up Seasonal Décor

December 22, 2015 12:25 am

Looking to liven up the décor in your home? Beat the winter doldrums?  Tie in signs of the season? How about all three?

“Winter is a season that naturally contains an abundance of inspiring color and décor, from the bold colors in a lit fireplace to the frosty weather outside,” says Nathan Fischer, Orange Country, Calif.-based design expert for Ace Hardware. “Our color and décor trends this season aim to bring all of the best elements of winter into your home.”

Those trends include warm colors, such as Venetian red and tango pink, paired with cool tones, like ghost white and slate gray. Décor in line with the season, says Fischer, includes the following:

• Wood, metal and woven textures combined with complementary cool tones

• Light, airy drapes hung just below the ceiling line

• Strategically placed pillows in a variety of patterns but with similar color palettes

• Vintage mirrors in unexpected places, like behind the sofa

• Continued color palettes in adjoining spaces, such as in an entryway and hallway 

Source: Ace Hardware 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Forecast: Mortgage Credit Standards Ease Further in 2016

December 22, 2015 12:25 am

Lenders expect credit standards for government and GSE-eligible mortgages to continue easing in 2016, and many report they have already loosened strictures that prevented prospective homebuyers from obtaining a loan, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey.

“Several factors point to constrained housing affordability in 2016, particularly for first-time home buyers, including slow single-family supply response and limited inventory of starter homes on the market, strong inflation-adjusted house price appreciation outpacing household income growth, and an upward bias in mortgage rates,” explains Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “However, on net, lenders told us in our fourth-quarter Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey that they have eased and expect to continue to ease credit standards, which was a consistent trend throughout 2015."

The share of lenders expected to ease standards for GSE-eligible loans climbed to 16 percent, while the share expecting to tighten standards dropped to 2 percent, per the survey. Housing affordability stands to increase if these findings bear out in the coming year.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Winter Survival Kit for Your Home

December 21, 2015 1:22 am

(Family Features)—Year after year, winter proves to be a challenging season, especially when it takes its toll on your home and surrounding property. This year, prepare for the inevitable with these tips:

• Clear gutters and repair roof leaks to avoid clogging from snow. Don't put cleaning your gutters off until the weather conditions are too unbearable. It is important to clear out your gutters and repair your roof to help avoid major damage from snow and ice.

• Check out your heating system and replace furnace filters as the temperature drops. You don't want to realize your heater doesn't work and that you're without a warm living space as colder weather sets in.

• Check your windows and doors for cracks, leaks or drafts and repair them as soon as possible. This improves efficiency within your home and keeps you warm from the cold air and wind. Install a door draft insulator to help prevent air leakage.

• Drain and turn off your sprinkler system. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people don't remember to complete this task. Drain and turn off your sprinkler system, as well as your hoses, to prevent freezing and other problems.

• Insulate your pipes by wrapping them in insulation or newspapers and plastic. Doing so will lower the chance of frozen pipes later on. Keep the faucets dripping water so that water is always flowing through the pipes, rather than standing still.

• Invest in a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are at their peak during the winter months, so protect yourself from this harmful gas by installing carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and on every level within your home.

• Keep a winter emergency kit in your home. Include water, blankets, a battery-powered flashlight, a battery-powered radio, emergency flares, energy bars, a pocket knife, rope, jumper cables, a lighter, rock salt and sand in the kit.

• Rock salt or sand your walkways, driveways and other pathways to improve traction and melt snow and ice. Rock salt melts ice when the temperature is about 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Sand does not melt ice, but improves traction during dangerous conditions. You may consider adding both to your driveway and walkways to ensure optimal safety. 

Source: Snow Joe

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Holiday Hazards Are Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

December 21, 2015 1:22 am

Despite the merriness of the season, the hustle and bustle of the holidays poses a number of hazards for homeowners and renters. A whopping 23 million Americans have had packages of gifts stolen from their homes, for instance, and 16 million have experienced a house fire during the holidays, according to insuranceQuotes.com—and that’s just the beginning.

“The holidays are a great time, but all the commotion and celebrating can sometimes cause people to be too relaxed,” says Laura Adams, senior analyst for insuranceQuotes.com. “No one is thinking of a broken leg or a house fire as they’re sipping eggnog and socializing with family, but these things do happen and it is better to be prepared than to let it ruin your whole holiday."

Other causes for concern? Guest injuries, which have occurred in seven million households, and sewer backups, which have occurred in 47 million households.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover claims related to these hazards, but only up to a certain amount. Purchasing extra liability coverage, often called umbrella insurance, is a wise move, says Adams.

And if you plan to give jewelry or end up receiving jewelry as a gift this year, take care to insure it, too.

“It can be a very expensive mistake not to insure a valuable piece of jewelry,” Adams says. “Most standard homeowners and renters insurance policies only insure jewelry up to a couple thousand dollars. Additional jewelry insurance can be purchased for as little as a few dollars each month—a very affordable price, especially when compared to the cost you would incur if you had to replace the item out of pocket,” Adams says.

Source: insuranceQuotes

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Smartest Home Products of 2015

December 21, 2015 1:22 am

From learning thermostats to smartphone-enabled locks, the presence of connected technology in the home grew leaps and bounds in the last year—and in fact, before the year’s out, tech research giant Gartner predicts connected devices will number somewhere near three billion. Without a doubt, 2015 is the year of the smart home.

“2015 was huge because we saw products become easier to use and less expensive,” says Jason Ballard, president and co-founder of home improvement firm TreeHouse. The smartest home products of the year, according to Ballard, include:

• Air Quality Monitors – These smart devices monitor the air in your home and tell you how to make it better. The Foobot, for example, detects volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity.

• Combination Smoke Alarms – The combined smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that hit the market in 2015 have features including industrial-grade smoke sensors, self-tester functions and durability to last up to a decade. One brand in this category, Nest Protect, is the first home alarm you can hush from your phone without any extra hardware required.

• Home Security – Smart locks and video cameras are becoming easier to install, and less expensive. For about $200, you can use your phone to lock and unlock your door. Certain smart locks, such as those produced by August Lock, have the ability to create virtual keys for guests and keep track of who comes and goes. Nest Cam, a home security camera, boasts live streaming, night vision and activity alerts.

• Lighting – In the biggest lighting innovation since LED bulbs hit the market, you can now automate your lights completely to make it seem like you're home when you're not. With geo-fencing technology, your lights can welcome you home or switch off automatically when you leave your home. Most brands in this category let you change the color of lighting in your home, and some, like Philips Hue, can even keep you informed about the weather or incoming calls.

• Smart Sprinklers – Today’s smart lawn watering control systems use your laptop to schedule watering times and automatically adjust for the weather. The Rachio Intelligent Sprinkler Controller, for instance, saves 20-50 percent on water bills.

“‘Smart home’ no longer means building the Jetson’s house,” Ballard adds. “It means adding products to your home that make it safer and healthier.”

Source: TreeHouse

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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