Diane Minguez
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RE/MAX 440   Diane Minguez
1110 North Broad Street  Lansdale, PA  19446
Office Phone: 215-362-2260    Phone: 267-575-6818  Fax: 267-354-6882  Cell: 267-575-6818
dminguez@remax.net

My Blog

Don’t Get Burned by an Online Purchase

March 21, 2017 1:48 am

Online shopping has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, according to recent Pew Research, eight in 10 Americans are now shopping online - that's 79 percent of U.S. consumers who shop on the web or their phones, up from just 22 percent back in 2000.

However, despite the amazing level of convenience, there are important risks involved when shopping online. According to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau (BBB), the risk often involves the sale of “gray market” goods. The gray market consists of popular merchandise manufactured for export, and then re-imported to the U.S. to be sold for less than current market prices. This often means products with no warranty and items not manufactured according to U.S. regulatory standards.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize that risk and nab a great deal. The BBB offers the following five tips to protect yourself when making an online purchase through an unfamiliar website:

Research the seller. If you are not familiar with a website, check it out with the BBB. If you buy through an auction site, check the seller's rating and customer reviews.

Ask the seller about the merchandise. Sellers are obliged to tell you if they are selling gray market goods. Most states require sellers to disclose when an item is not covered by a valid U.S. warranty, as is the case with gray market merchandise.

Carefully inspect the merchandise and make sure it is in working order. Gray market goods may not be factory-fresh, having gone through the hands of several third parties. Check to see whether the manual and other printed material is in English.

Where can it be repaired? Since gray market merchandise will most likely not be eligible for repair by the manufacturer's authorized service center, ask where you can get repairs done competently.

Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card allows you to dispute the charges if the item was misrepresented online or is broken.

Taking these precautionary steps will ensure that your online shopping endeavors are not only convenient but fruitful.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Have Healthy Skin

March 21, 2017 1:48 am

We think about dietary health and physical fitness, but how often do you think about the health of your skin? Not enough, according to the American Skin Association.

"Our skin is our largest organ and protects us from harmful bacteria, pollution, and toxins in the environment," explains Dr. Jean L. Bolognia, professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "As we age, those defenses weaken, making us more susceptible to infection, pain, and hospitalization. The need to establish skin healthy behaviors and protect our skin throughout our lives is more critical today than ever before."

The American Skin Association (ASA) recently announced the official launch of its Seven Principles for a Lifetime of Healthy Skin. Read them below.

Minimize exposure to UV light. Limit time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., apply broad spectrum sunscreen daily, wear sun protective clothing, and avoid tanning beds and similar artificial tanning devices entirely.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular water intake, sleep and exercise. Do not smoke. 

Visit your dermatologist once a year or as needed. 

Examine your skin daily, and report concerning changes in skin condition and/or color to your dermatologist or Health Care Professional as soon as possible.

Hydrate your skin daily, especially after bathing or showering. 

Maintain good hygiene for skin, hair and nails by giving gentle and constant attention to avoid irritation.

Immediately attend to wounds. To avoid infection and scarring, never pick or squeeze blemishes. 

Source: www.americanskin.org.

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Stressed? You’re Not Alone

March 20, 2017 1:48 am

No matter where your political affiliations lie, it’s been a stressful time for Americans. In fact, according to a recent research from the American Psychological Association (APA), two-thirds of Americans reported feeling stressed about our nation’s future, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans.

In the APA’s report, "Stress in America™: Coping with Change,” more than half of Americans (57 percent) reported that the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

"The stress we're seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it's hard for Americans to get away from it," says Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA's executive director for professional practice. "We're surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most."

At the same time, more Americans said that they experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress in recent months.  The percentage of people reporting at least one health symptom because of stress rose from 71 percent to 80 percent over five months. A third of Americans have reported specific symptoms such as headaches (34 percent), feeling overwhelmed (33 percent), feeling nervous or anxious (33 percent) or feeling depressed or sad (32 percent).

How to deal with all this stress? The APA recommends watching your information intake. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s more important to know your limits and work to diminish exposure to distressing information.

Here are some other strategies for reducing stress:

- Limit your social media intake. Social media is supposed to be relaxing and entertaining but has become a hotbed for all sorts of harsh political opinions. Avoid those “friends” for the time being whose posts set your blood boiling.
- Get plenty of exercise. Now more than ever, it’s important to take some time and unplug. One of the best ways to do so is to get outside and walk, run or take the kids to the park. Fresh air and activity will stop stress in its tracks.
- Volunteer. Whether it’s volunteering at the soup kitchen or reading to your child’s class, getting involved with a good cause is a surefire way to generate positive feelings and focus on helping others instead of worrying about big-picture problems.

Source: American Psychological Association

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Why Should Homebuyers Size up Smart Homes Carefully?

March 20, 2017 1:48 am

Smart homes and their related technology are only a few years old. That means that first generation of smart homes are just beginning to hit the marketplace as owners relocate or vacate those properties.

A recent NBC news report pointed out that while smart homes are still a small part of the overall market, they are expected to grow significantly in the next few years as more homeowners install these devices and homebuyers come to expect them.

As a result, the National Association of REALTORS is now teaching its agents how to spot IoT devices and how to deal with them at closing.

Recently, Parks Associates announced new research showing that approximately one-third of smart home device owners experience problems with their smart home devices and nearly 10 percent report problems connecting a smart home device to the home network router.

Consumers encounter these issues more often when setting up smart sprinkler systems, networked security cameras, and water leak detectors compared to other smart home devices the study found.
Ed Oswald at cheatsheet.com says there are four major reasons why homebuyers might do well to consider a smart home purchase - or upgrade - very carefully:

1. It can be hacked. This started happening way back in 2014, when security researchers showed that hackers can take complete control of Belkin WeMo smart home devices.

2. The technology is moody. When you use a smart switch or press a smart button to operate a connected device, the signal first heads to your smart hub, then the hub sends it to the cloud, where it is sent back to your hub, and finally to your device. What happens when this fails? Those devices don’t work.

3. Many competing “standards.” The sheer number of smart home platforms and technologies is staggering, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WeMo, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and a host of others. Not every platform talks to one another, and many aren’t even compatible with others, making the problem worse.

4. The price is too high. Before you know it, you could be in deep — to the tune of hundreds if not thousands of dollars. And what if you want to switch smart home technologies? There’s no guarantee what you just bought will even work.

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Simple Spring Cleaning Tips

March 20, 2017 1:48 am

We all know we’re “supposed” to clean for springtime. While we should ideally be cleaning our spaces well year-round, a little seasonal push can sometimes offer the motivation we need to give our home a good scrub. Below are a handful of simple spring cleaning tips from BISSELL.

- Get an early start and dive in before the weather tempts you to spend Saturdays outdoors—this will ensure you won't skip any important tasks.

- When it comes to deep cleaning any floor surface, make sure to vacuum or sweep first, and move as much furniture as possible for a blank slate.

- Don't forget about the furniture. Items like couches, beds and cabinets are in constant use year-round and need a thorough clean.

- Clean from the top of the room down. Get the cobwebs in the corners, ceiling fans and the tops of appliances clean and work your way down to the floor. That way you don't have to clean anything twice.

- Use your vacuum crevice tool to clean dust off of baseboards, from between kitchen chair spokes and on the stairs.Source: www.bissell.com.

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Food Trends: What’s the Hype on Coconut Oil and Gluten-Free?

March 16, 2017 1:48 am

Nutritional guidance, like ready-to-wear, tends to go in and out of fashion. Eggs, once slammed for their high cholesterol, came back into dietary good graces in 2015 when a government report dropped its warning. More recently, gluten-free foods have been proliferating in supermarkets while coconut oil appears to be the new rage for chefs.

What’s going on here, and what’s a consumer to believe?

A report published this year by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology offers some clarity on which foods are the best choices for health-conscious individuals:

Fresh fruits and fresh veggies, especially berries and leafy greens, remain the number one source of nutrients and antioxidants, and are best eaten raw or cooked, rather than juiced.

Whole grains and legumes, low- and nonfat dairy products and limited quantities of lean meat and fish are also among the mainstays of a heart-healthy diet.

Eggs, like nuts, remain a good source of protein, but moderation is key. Eggs, which do contain a fair amount of dietary cholesterol. Should be limited to one or two a day while nuts, which are high in fat, should be limited to a handful.

Coconut oil, like palm oil and all other oils, including olive oil, should be consumed in moderation because they are high in fat, although olive oil is still recommended as the heart-healthiest of the bunch.

Gluten-free foods are valuable for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, but there is no evidence for recommending them for use by the general population.

Dietary supplements, for which there no compelling findings of cardiovascular benefits or antioxidants, are recognized as a costly substitute for their fresh food counterparts.

Sugar and processed foods are best avoided whenever possible.

The report concludes that following these dietary guidelines can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, although physical activity and family history are also factors in determining personal health.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Prep Your Home for Floods

March 16, 2017 1:48 am

Floods in your home are often unexpected. Whether from immense rain or a busted pipe, there is often little time to act. With this in mind, it’s important to have a few things prepped in case of a sudden flood.

Here are a few tips from Puzio to help homeowners prepare before a flood occurrence:

Obtain a Flood Insurance Policy and Know Your Coverages - Find out if you have a flood insurance policy. If you don't have a flood insurance policy, contact your insurance agent today. Make sure you are clear on your coverage amount before a flood occurs.

Protect Important Documents - Keep copies of all important documents in a safe place outside the home if possible, including mortgage papers, passport, bank information and insurance policies.

Itemize and Take Photos of Property - Create an itemized list and take pictures of your home, property and possessions as proof of your pre-flood assets, and store them with your important documents offsite if possible.

Establish an Emergency Contact List - Create an emergency contact list with the phone numbers of your family, employers, insurance agents and financial information. Update and exchange contact information, and store your list with your important documents offsite.

Build or Buy an Emergency Kit - Keep an emergency kit on hand with a battery-powered radio, flashlight, batteries, candles, waterproof matches, bottled water and non-perishable food for a minimum of three days.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top 25 Highest Paying Jobs of 2017

March 16, 2017 1:48 am

Are you the parent of a college student, or thinking of jumping into a new career yourself? While it’s important to follow a path you love, it doesn’t hurt to keep pay in mind. Below are Glassdoor’s 25 highest paying jobs in the country, alongside how many positions are currently available via Glassdoor.com.

1. Physician
Median Base Salary: $187,876
Number of Job Openings: 7,770

2. Pharmacy Manager
Median Base Salary: $149,064
Number of Job Openings: 2,370

3. Patent Attorney
Median Base Salary: $139,272
Number of Job Openings: 525

4. Medical Science Liaison
Median Base Salary: $132,842
Number of Job Openings: 391

5. Pharmacist
Median Base Salary: $125,847
Number of Job Openings: 5,496

6. Enterprise Architect
Median Base Salary: $112,560
Number of Job Openings: 1,320

7. Physician Assistant
Median Base Salary: $112,529
Number of Job Openings: 13,547

8. Applications Development Manager
Median Base Salary: $112,045
Number of Job Openings: 516

9. R&D Manager
Median Base Salary: $111,905
Number of Job Openings: 185

10. Corporate Controller
Median Base Salary: $110,855
Number of Job Openings: 259

11. Software Engineering Manager
Median Base Salary: $109,350
Number of Job Openings: 1,011

12. IT Architect
Median Base Salary: $105,303
Number of Job Openings: 250

13. Software Architect
Median Base Salary: $104,754
Number of Job Openings: 1,147

14. Nurse Practitioner
Median Base Salary: $104,144
Number of Job Openings: 12,566

15. Solutions Architect
Median Base Salary: $102,678
Number of Job Openings: 4,174

16. Data Architect
Median Base Salary: $102,091
Number of Job Openings: 1,438

17. Actuary
Median Base Salary: $99,507
Number of Job Openings: 463

18. IT Program Manager
Median Base Salary: $98,883
Number of Job Openings: 250

19. UX Manager
Median Base Salary: $98,353
Number of Job Openings: 263

20. Systems Architect
Median Base Salary: $97,873
Number of Job Openings: 1,167

21. Plant Manager
Median Base Salary: $97,189
Number of Job Openings: 1,286

22. Scrum Master
Median Base Salary: $95,167
Number of Job Openings: 2,072

23. Financial Planning & Analysis Manager
Median Base Salary: $94,862
Number of Job Openings: 501

24. Nuclear Engineer
Median Base Salary: $94,852
Number of Job Openings: 155

25. Attorney
Median Base Salary: $94,695
Number of Job Openings: 1,010

Source:  Glassdoor

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When it Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

March 15, 2017 1:48 am

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered...including how happy your pet will be.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future.

According to NAR’s 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.   

No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet.

Other interesting statistics from the report include:

- 67 percent of REALTORS say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you’re selling your home, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors.
- 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring.
- 80 percent of REALTORS consider themselves animal lovers, so you’ll have lots of support in accommodating your pet’s housing needs when buying!

Source: National Association of REALTORS

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How to Help Friends and Family Members with Post-War PTSD

March 15, 2017 1:48 am

Helping a family or friend reintegrate into society after leaving war can be complicated, but when your loved one has PTSD, it can be even more intricate. To date, an estimated 400,000 service members live with invisible wounds of war, including combat stress, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to a report released by Institute of Medicine in 2014, 47 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD in 2013 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan did not receive treatment. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) believes it is imperative to raise PTSD awareness and offer education in our communities.

"PTSD is a normal reaction to a very bad situation, and no one should be ashamed of suffering and seeking help," said John Roberts, WWP warrior relations director. "Combat veterans need to know that PTSD does not have to be a lifelong sentence. It can be treated and managed. Life can be better." 

Here are tips for helping warriors who are coping with PTSD:

- Let veterans determine what they are comfortable talking about, and don't push.

- Bring veterans to a quiet place or suggest some deep breathing exercises when the stress seems overwhelming.

- Encourage creative outlets like writing to help veterans clarify what is bothering them and help them think of solutions.

- Avoid unhealthy habits as ways to solve problems. Alcohol and drug use make things worse in the long run.

- Stay aware of your surroundings. Crowds, trash on the side of the road, fireworks, and certain smells can be difficult for veterans coping with PTSD.Source: Wounded Warrior Project

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