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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

How to Up Natural Light Levels in Your Home

March 30, 2016 1:52 am

(Family Features)—Though Frank Lloyd Wright popularized the aesthetic relatively recently, natural light in the home has been coveted for centuries. Lighting design today combines both natural and artificial sources to mimic the appearance of ample natural light.

To achieve the look, adequate lighting is key. Most homes will require a mix of natural lighting with accent lighting, which shines light on architectural or decorative elements; ambient lighting, which provides overall lighting; and task lighting, which focuses light into specific areas.

With the variety of lighting products available on the market, the latter three can be adapted with ease to suit your home’s needs. The level of natural lighting, however, very much depends on your home’s location—a factor that can be limiting.

If your home doesn’t receive as much natural light as you’d like, sky lights may be the answer. Sky lights are a low-cost, high-impact feature that not only increases natural lighting, but also offers energy-saving benefits. ENERGY STAR-qualified, fresh air sky lights, in particular, can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, which can save you significant expense each month.

Light-filtering, light-blocking or light-controlling solar-powered blinds can also improve energy efficiency in tandem with sky lights, sometimes by as much as 45 percent. Some models are even operable by a programmable remote control, and may be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

Source: Velux Skylights

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Sustained Property Damage in a Disaster? Be Wary of Home Repair Fraud

March 30, 2016 1:52 am

Disasters can be devastating— but many homeowners will experience further devastation due to fraud.

“Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” says Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). “As any recovery gets underway, fraudsters often converge on affected areas to scam disaster victims out of their money while promising to do repairs. The last thing victims of disaster need is to be victimized again.”

Homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses. Typically, contractors go door to door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up or construction and repair services. One common scheme involves the contractor pocketing a down payment with no intention of completing the job. Another scheme involves contractors performing shoddy work or using inferior materials to increase their profit.

Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company—they will honor their policy, so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits repair work.

Wehrle and the NICB also suggest the following steps to take before hiring a contractor:

Get more than one estimate. Get everything in writing—cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.

Demand references and verify them.

Review the contractor’s driver's license. Write down the license number and his or her vehicle's license plate number.

Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms may be added later.

Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. Ensure reconstruction is up to current code.

Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier. Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language, and never he or she discourage you from contacting your insurance company.

Bear in mind, too, that almost all of these types of scams are unsolicited. Bottom line: if you didn’t request it, reject it.

Source: NICB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Ways to Safeguard against Scams

March 29, 2016 1:46 am

Scammers have devised every possible scheme—and then some—in attempts to swindle millions out of their hard-earned money. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 2.5 million consumers submitted complaints about scams in the last year alone. Knowing the signs of a con can help you avoid falling prey to these ploys, says Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a nationally-recognized non-profit organization.

“Scammers often use the Internet, phone, email and pop-ups in an illegal attempt to defraud millions of consumers,” says Trumble. “Understanding all the different outlets and mechanisms used by scammers, and how to best guard against fraud, can help consumers avoid falling for common traps. In an effort to assist consumers, we have created a set of tips to help effectively avoid scams.”

These tips are:

1. Read all statements. Read through all of your bank and credit statements to check for charges you are unfamiliar with. Be sure to report unrecognizable transactions immediately.

2. Do not send money to strangers. Many scammers try to get consumers to wire money. If you are purchasing goods through an online auction, consider using a credit card that offers protection.

3. Do not reply to messages asking for information. Messages from unknown sources asking for financial or personal information are tricks to try to get consumers to unveil sensitive information, also known as phishing.

4. Be cautious when shopping via phone. Cell phones lack anti-virus software, which can leave consumers at risk when entering payment information. Shopping through retailers’ apps often provides more security.

5. Do not share Social Security numbers online. Legitimate websites and businesses rarely ask consumers to provide Social Security numbers.

6. Do not share personal identifying information over the phone. Never provide any personal information, including Social Security numbers or bank information, unless you have initiated the phone call and know who you are speaking with.

7. Choose credit over debit. Most credit cards come with fraud protection, which enables consumers to get their money back if they fall victim to fraud.

8. Use strong passwords. For secure accounts, create passwords that are hard to guess and include multiple numbers and characters.

And remember, Trumble says, that the most common forms of scams are fraud, identity theft, debt-in-collection and imposter schemes.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgages Average 47 Days to Close

March 29, 2016 1:46 am

Given market conditions—and regulation changes—the time needed to close a mortgage loan currently ranges anywhere from 44 to 50 days. According to a recently released Ellie Mae® report, the breakdown averages are as follows:

Purchase Loans – 48 days

Refinances – 44 days

FHA Loans – 47 days

VA Loans – 50 days

“This could be due to lenders becoming more familiar with the new loan estimate and closing disclosure forms and business process around Know Before You Owe,” explains Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

The average 30-year rate across all loan types fell to 4.22 percent last month.

Source: Ellie Mae®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Touch-Ups for a Show-Ready Home

March 29, 2016 1:46 am

When selling your home, it pays to touch up the paint. The higher perceived value of a maintained home is well-documented, and there's no easier (or more economical) way to give the impression than with some fresh paint.

Before placing your home on the market, complete these 10 touch-ups:

1. If you want buyers to consider your home, make sure the front door is well-painted. A fresh coat of paint will make a great first impression.

2. Next up is the entrance hall, where buyers will get their initial glimpse of the interior. At the very least, touch up areas where the paint shows marks or chips.

3. Bathrooms often receive extra scrutiny from buyers, so give them extra attention. Touch up as needed.

4. Size does matter when it comes to the kitchen. If you want to make yours look bigger, paint the walls white or off-white. If repainting is not an option, remove food stains from the walls and conceal water spots by applying primer, then touch-up paint.

5. Assess your windowsills, especially if the view is a selling point. Sand, prime and paint them as needed.

6. Check your woodwork. Touch up chipped or marred paint on chair rails and floor molding.

7. Inspect areas that come in contact with soiled hands—window frames, door frames, edges of doors, and walls around light switches. You may be able to clean them if you used a glossy paint; if not, do more touch-ups.

8. Scrub cabinet doors clean of fingerprints, if possible, or touch up painted areas.

9. Water stains on the ceiling are a huge red flag for buyers. Be sure to prime and re-paint these potential deal breakers.

10. Put the finishing touches on your home. Look for stray flecks of paint, as well as marks and stains. Conceal them with some touch-up paint, and your home will be good to go...and show!

Source: The Paint Quality Institute

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Spring Clean Your Finances in 5 Steps

March 28, 2016 1:43 am

Spring may be the “season of clean” at home, but it’s also an ideal time to organize your finances and commit to long-term financial stability, says Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

“The arrival of spring motivates people to renew their surroundings, and what better way to focus that momentum than to check off everything on your financial to-do list?” asks Carlisle.

To go out with the old, in with the savings, Carlisle and the ABA recommend to:

1. Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first. 

2. Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child or became a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it.   

3. Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.  

4. Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.

5. Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

“Taking stock of your finances and planting the seeds of new saving habits today will go a long way toward alleviating pressures on your pocket throughout the year,” concludes Carlisle.

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Step-by-Step Guide to Green-Building a Deck

March 28, 2016 1:43 am

(BPT)—There are plenty of ways to go green at home—but one of the most impactful methods is outside: green-building a deck.

Whether you plan to install new or refurbish an existing structure, utilizing sustainable materials (and conducting eco-friendly maintenance after the fact) can green your deck, ensuring long-term enjoyment for the members of your household.

To begin green-building your deck, consider your board options. Generally, there are two types of boarding: wood and composite. Wood is a renewable resource; more trees can grow to replace the ones harvested for boards, and when your deck's usable life ends, you can recycle the wood it was made of.

However, pressure-treated lumber is not recyclable. While the preservatives it's treated with make it last longer than many types of untreated wood, it's less eco-friendly in the long run because it must be disposed of, instead of reused. If you prefer a wood deck, look for naturally weather- and pest-resistant wood varieties, like California red wood, western red cedar or ipe.

Composite boards are green, as well, in that many are made from recycled materials, such as reused plastic and reclaimed or recycled wood. Composites tend to last longer than wood, and require no special treatment like staining or sealing. Their longevity can make them a greener choice—but they can't be recycled.

Wood and composites are also commonly used for railings, but they may not be the most environmentally-friendly option, given the railings’ greater exposure to the elements. Stainless steel cable railing is 100 percent recyclable, and can offer un-obscured views.

If you choose to construct your deck of composites—and add a stainless steel railing—it will require little maintenance. Stainless steel is inherently weather-resistant.

If you opt to build your deck with wood, some types will require regular sealing and staining. Rot- and pest-resistant woods may not need to be sealed, but will weather to a silver-gray color unless you stain them every year.

Bear in mind many stains contain a blend of agents meant to inhibit the growth of fungus or deter pest infestations, and may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for stains and sealers that rely on natural ingredients, such as hemp oil, beeswax, carnauba wax and water.

Source: The Cable Connection

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Crafting Shelter for Birds, Spaces for Spring Singers – Pt. 2

March 28, 2016 1:43 am

In Part 1 of this series, we chirped about how easy it is to create better places and spaces for songbirds. In this segment, we'll zero in on getting more birds to flock to your yard.

According to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology (birds.cornell.edu), "birdscaping” your yard with native vegetation is an excellent way to attract more birds. Birdscaping involves growing plants with birds in mind. Growing a variety of native plants that provide food, shelter, and potential nest sites will attract the greatest diversity of bird species.

Some plants to consider include perennials, such as black-eyed Susans; annuals, such as sunflowers for their seeds; tubular-shaped nectar-producing flowers for hummingbirds; small trees and fruiting shrubs, such as crab apple, dogwoods, viburnums and service berries; and conifers, such as pines and spruces that provide cover, seeds and nesting sites.

Be careful about possibly harming your songbird families, the Cornell lab advises. A number of bird diseases affect wild birds, and some could potentially be spread when birds congregate at feeders.

Birds can also become ill from leftover bits of seeds and seed hulls that grow molds and bacteria.

To maintain a healthy feeding garden:

• Clean your feeders every two weeks—many feeders are dishwasher-safe.

• If your feeders are not dishwasher-safe, wash them thoroughly in soapy water, then soak or rinse in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

• Dry your feeders before refilling so that the food remains dry.

• Be sure to clean hummingbird feeders at least once a week.

• Rake the ground below your feeders to limit accumulation of waste.

To encourage more “audible” activity, the Cornell lab recommends providing adequate cover for songbirds in your yard, such as dense shrubs or piles of brush, where they can escape from predators.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Effective Is Your Security Lighting?

March 25, 2016 1:28 am

A recent social network interaction prompted a question about whether constant all-night floodlight illumination is safer and more intimidating to vandals or burglars than the sudden bright light from a motion activated system.

That subject is addressed by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Crime Prevention Unit. That law enforcement agency recommends single family homeowners light up the perimeter of your home during the night, including entrances, rear doors, and dark areas.

Lighting is a deterrent for someone who is tempted to commit a crime, according to the sheriff agency.
Besides suggesting the best place for outside lighting as under eaves, illuminating walls, and by gates and driveways, the San Diego sheriffs say that motion sensors are not as effective as dusk-to-dawn lighting as they can be set off easily and frequently by animals, thus desensitizing the residents to their activation.

Install a timer or photoelectric cell (sensor) on outdoor light fixtures so that they turn on automatically at dusk and go off at dawn, or simply convert your wall switch to an electric timer.

Also, ensure that surrounding landscaping does not obscure the lighting.

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) recommends the following home security lighting tips:

• Place two lights on either side of the main entry. Not only will this help homeowners locate keys and locks easier when coming and going, but it will also help you identify people through your peephole.

• Don’t use overhead lights at entrances and exits. Overhead lights will create a silhouette or cover the visitor’s face with shadows. The ideal situation is to have lower wattage lights on each side of the door at about eye level.

• For energy efficiency, use a motion-sensor and photocell combination device. This will ensure the lights only turn on at night when someone approaches your doorway. The motion sensor can also serve to alert you that someone is at your door.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Foolproof Home Organizer Checklist

March 25, 2016 1:28 am

If you've decided to keep a tidier, more organized household, use this checklist keep you on target:

Engage the family by assigning daily and weekly chores to everyone who is at least five years old. Post your checklist where everyone can read it, and offer a weekly treat – perhaps a special dessert, a family outing, or a family movie in with popcorn – if everything on the list is accomplished:

Daily Chores – Completing these six basic tasks every day will help keep chaos at bay. Make the beds. Put away clutter. Sort the mail. Clean up as you cook. Wipe up spills while they’re fresh. Sweep the kitchen floor.

Weekly Routine – Doing these six chores once a week will keep your home neat, clean, and functioning. Empty trash cans. Change and launder bed linens and towels. Empty the hampers and do the family laundry. Clean tub, shower, toilets and sinks. Mop or vacuum every room. Wipe mirrors and dust light fixtures. Wipe all kitchen surfaces, including inside of microwave and toaster oven.

Every Four to Six weeks – Clean out the refrigerator and freezer, dumping any foods or beverages past their prime and wiping down the shelves. Organize the pantry, tossing out expired items, especially flour and cereals. Clean the oven and the inside of the fridge.

Seasonal Chores – Four times a year, as the seasons change, you will feel like a champion housekeeper if you can remember to complete these tasks. Turn the mattresses, launder the pillows, and vacuum the mattress and box springs. Replace the baking soda that is keeping your fridge and freezer odor-free. Run a dust mop over the walls and ceilings. Sweep out the fireplace if need be.

Once Yearly – If you’ve pretty much been diligent for most of the year, the annual spring cleaning should be minimal. Dust hard-to-reach places like ceiling fans and window casings. Wash or dry clean curtains, window blinds, or drapes. Vacuum all upholstered furniture. Deep clean the rugs, carpets and floors.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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