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

Deer Dangers You Don't Know and What to Do about Them

April 8, 2014 2:42 am

(BPT) - It’s hard to live in suburbia these days and be unaware of the difficulties deer can cause homeowners. They lunch on your landscape and brazenly cross busy roads at the worst possible times. But did you know that deer can carry parasites that transmit debilitating diseases to people? Or that nationally, deer versus car collisions claim about 200 lives per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

Bambi’s less beautiful when you consider the deer dangers you don’t know. While damage to bushes, blooms, shrubs and gardens can be annoying at best and costly at worst, deer can pose other risks to the safety of your home and family, including:

* Disease dangers – Deer often carry ticks that transmit debilitating diseases like Lyme disease and brucellosis. Lyme disease can cause headaches, fever, fatigue, joint pain and rashes, and is often hard to diagnose. Left untreated, Lyme can damage the nervous system and even cause memory loss. Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms, including fever and headaches. In addition to affecting the central nervous system, it can attack the heart lining, too.

* Pet threat – Direct injuries to people caused by deer may be uncommon, but deer that dwell in suburbia often come in contact with pets. Even a small doe can cause considerable injury to a dog or cat if the deer feels threatened and cornered. Bucks with antlers can be even more menacing to pets, especially during rutting season.

* Real estate reductions – Everyone knows that curb appeal is king when you’re trying to sell a house. Deer eat six-to-10 pounds of food daily, tearing leaves from plants and bark from trees. Their foraging can weaken and even decimate plants. Deer damage to landscaping, especially trees, can seriously spoil curb appeal, sometimes causing potential buyers to think twice before purchasing a home in an area known for deer damage.

* Perpetual predation – Deer are prey animals, and an abundant population of them in a small area can draw predators looking for easy-access meals at your house, on a regular basis. Coyotes and bobcats won’t hesitate to attack family members and pets, plus they can carry diseases such as rabies.

To protect your home from deer damages – both known and unknown – it’s important to be pro-active. If you act before the deer do you may be able to prevent their destruction altogether. Once deer settle into an area, it can be difficult to convince them to leave. Since no one wants to unnecessarily harm deer, it’s important to try safe, preventive measures such as:

* Deer repellent – It’s possible to deter deer without the use of harsh chemicals. Bobbex Deer Repellent, a topical foliar spray, uses taste and smell-aversion ingredients to deter deer from browsing on foliage, shrubs and trees. All natural, it’s safe for use around sensitive plantings, your children and pets. It works in any climate, won’t wash off in heavy rain, and it has been found to be 93 percent effective – second only to a physical barrier – in testing by the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture. To learn more, visit www.bobbex.com.

* Fencing – While fencing is considered a sure-fire way to keep deer out, it’s not always desirable or practical to fence your yard. Many communities restrict the height of fences, some are unsightly, and deer have been known to jump fences as high as 10 feet.

* Devices – Noise-makers and lights that are motion-activated may scare deer away for a short time, but deer will eventually learn there’s no real threat and return to an area where deterrent devices are in use.

* Unpalatable plantings – Hungry deer will eat almost anything, but it is possible to plant some vegetation that deer are less likely to eat. Interspersing plants like yarrow, fuzzy lamb’s ear, catmint, and hellebore, may offer some protection for plants that deer find desirable.

For more information, visit www.bobbex.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Survey Shows Homeowners Will Liven Up Their Spaces with More Painting Projects

April 8, 2014 2:42 am

Colorful home improvements are planned across the country this spring as homeowners look to create dream spaces with paint.

According to a new National Home Design and Color Survey from Sherwin-Williams, seven-in-10 homeowners plan to undertake a house-related project in the next six months. Of those homeowners planning house projects, painting tops the list with 42 percent wanting to liven up their space with color, followed by landscaping (39 percent) and redecorating (30 percent).

This year, design inspiration is available during Sherwin-Williams National Painting Week, held the week of April 7. Each day, swpaintingweek.com features painting ideas, expert tips, product information and one-of-a-kind projects from top DIY design bloggers.

According to internationally celebrated interior designer, Jeff Andrews, adding paint color is one of the easiest ways to give a space a new look. Andrews, known for his innovative design approach and long list of clients including Ryan Seacrest, the Kardashian family and Michael C. Hall, believes great design involves imagination, inspiration and color.

"When working with clients, I like to show them how color can play a significant role in creating their dream space.
National Painting Week is an opportunity for homeowners to see how paint can transform any living space, whether it's an accent wall, piece of furniture, or a complete room makeover," Andrews says.

Spring Survey Highlights: Warm Colors and Confidence Ahead

Sherwin-Williams conducted the National Home Design and Color Survey to determine homeowners' most desired projects and colors. Nearly two-in-three homeowners say they would like to add more color in their home, especially in the living/family room (25 percent), bedroom (24 percent) and bathroom (17 percent). Men are receptive to adding color, with 58 percent of them wanting to introduce more into their home.

Warm neutrals featuring a hint of red, yellow or brown are the most popular palettes for about a third of homeowners (32 percent). Twenty-five percent would like to incorporate cool neutrals, with a hint of blue or green. Homeowners 18 to 34 years old want a rich and dark color palette (23 percent), while those 65 and older prefer a soft and light palette (35 percent).

Sixty-four percent of homeowners say they are confident handling an exterior project on their own. Men are most comfortable with the following exterior projects: painting doors (45 percent), fences (38 percent) and decks (37 percent). Sixty percent of women also feel comfortable doing their own outdoor painting projects, and consider doors (38 percent) and trim/shutters (29 percent) to be the easiest tasks to manage.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Stepping Out for Spring? People with Diabetes Should Check Their Feet First

April 7, 2014 2:18 am

(BPT) - Spring is finally here and it’s an ideal time to get outside and be more physically active. For those with diabetes, regular exercise helps increase circulation and is a critical part of staying healthy. But, before lacing up your sneakers, remember these important steps to ensure your feet are in shape:

* Get the green light from your health care provider. Discuss the type of physical activity that’s best for you and ask your provider to examine your feet. In general, your feet should be professionally examined four times each year.

* Be mindful of everyday foot care. Sometimes, people with diabetes have serious foot problems yet feel no pain. This may be due to nerve damage, a long-term complication of diabetes. Everyday self care includes inspecting your feet for scratches, cracks, cuts or blisters and washing and drying them carefully, especially between the toes.

* Wear socks and well-fitting shoes. Because of the higher risk of foot problems among those with diabetes, avoid going barefoot, even indoors. Wear socks and shoes that fit properly.

* If you do notice a problem, it may be a foot ulcer. Ulcers occur most often on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers may also appear on the sides of the foot. Keep in mind, while some ulcers may not hurt, every ulcer should be seen by your health care provider right away.

* Get foot ulcers treated. If you have a foot ulcer, innovative treatments can help, such as EpiFix, a wound care product from MiMedx, used extensively to rapidly and effectively heal diabetic foot ulcers. EpiFix is a dehydrated human amnion/chorion membrane allograft that delivers essential wound healing growth factors, enhances healing and reduces inflammation and scar tissue formation.

* Let it heal. If you have an ulcer, help it to heal by staying off your feet. Walking on an ulcer may worsen the problem by making the wound larger or migrating it deeper into your foot.

“Foot problems, including ulcers, are common among people with diabetes, but they don’t have to hold you back if you take the proper precautions and seek early treatment,” says Dr. Matt Garoufalis, president at Physicians Surgery Care Center, Chicago, Ill., and immediate past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association. “Before you step out to enjoy the spring weather, have your feet checked by a health care provider to make sure you’re good to go.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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From the Ground Up: Smart Building Product Choices for Homeowners

April 7, 2014 2:18 am

Whether you're building a new house or remodeling a cherished older property, the product choices you make are critical to the long-term enjoyment of your home.

"I advise consumers to 'start from the ground up' when thinking about the product needs for their home projects," says Mark Clement, professional contractor and co-host of MyFixitUpLife home improvement radio show. "Invest time to research products so you're comfortable with the final outcome."

Clement says the basement is a great starting point. "The foundation selection can determine if you'll be able to use the basement for simple storage space or as an active living area," says Clement. "By starting with energy-efficient precast concrete panels from Superior Walls, you can get a basement that is dry and comfortable for year-round use that also adds resale value to the home."

Moving up the house exterior, the largest "holes" in the home need special attention. Of course, we're talking about windows.

"When you think that a pane of glass is all that really separates you from the weather outside, it becomes very important as to what that glass and its frame are made of," says Clement. "For my money - and for my home - we selected Simonton windows with fusion-welded vinyl frames and argon gas fill to maximize energy efficiency."

Other "holes" that need filling are the main entry door and secondary doors leading to your patio, deck or garage. Clement recommends fiberglass doors for the main entry due to their resilience to dents, dings and rot.

"I've seen many fiberglass doors in the Therma-Tru product line that either have a smooth finish for painting or have a realistic woodgrain that can be stained in oak, mahogany, walnut or cedar," says Clement. You can also "dress them up" with low-maintenance urethane and PVC trim pieces. "Decorative Fypon products I've worked with are easy to install, resist rot and insects along with adding curb appeal to the home," he says.

Finally, Clement reminds homeowners not to overlook the roof. The right roof selection can last for 50 years, while a bad choice could be "gone with the wind" if severe weather strikes.

"We invested in a DaVinci Roofscapes polymer slate roof for our home and have never regretted the choice," says Clement. "This composite roof resists impact, fire and high winds."

Source: myfixituplife.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Home, Smart Home with Wireless Technology

April 7, 2014 2:18 am

How smart is your home? You can make your home smarter and safer, and make your life easier, with these five simple switch-outs that make the most of emerging home technology, courtesy of Jack Thomasson, HGTV Smart Home House Planner.

• Entry level. You needn't throw away your key, but save it as a backup, and install a keypad at your front door instead. The latest keypads provide not only security, but also remote access via your smartphone. You'll never again have to wonder whether you locked the door; your smartphone, tablet or other Internet device will tell you if you did, and let you lock it if you didn't. Need to open the door for someone when you're not there? Keypads allow for that option as well.

• Perfect temperature. Want to come home to a cozy warm or comfortably cool house? Make the switch to a WiFi-accessible thermostat, and adjust the temperature of your home remotely.

• Guess-free garage. With wireless technology and your smartphone, you can check the status of your garage door and open or close it as needed.

• Who's there? Security cameras accessible from your smartphone let your house tell you who's making a delivery. In addition to viewing camera feeds, remote home monitoring systems allow you to arm or disarm your home security system and to receive specific notification by text, email or phone in case of emergency.

• Smart cookies. Preheat your oven while you're still at the grocery store. Certain apps and appliances will let you adjust and monitor your oven and other appliances remotely via your smartphone. You can adjust cooking temperature and set a timer, too.

Source: HGTV

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Home Prices Rise by 12.2 Percent Year-Over-Year in February

April 2, 2014 1:09 am

CoreLogic recently released its February CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI®) report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.2 percent in February 2014 compared to February 2013. This change represents 24 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 0.8 percent in February 2014 compared to January 2014.

At the state level, including distressed sales, 14 states showed double-digit year-over-year growth in February; and Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and the District of Columbia all reached new home price highs. Additionally, 22 states were at or within 10 percent of their price peaks.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationally increased 10.7 percent in February 2014 compared to February 2013 and 0.9 percent month over month compared to January 2014. Also, all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation when distressed sales were excluded. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

“As the spring home-buying season kicks off, house price appreciation continues to be strong,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Although prices should remain strong in the near term due to a short supply of homes on the market, price increases should moderate over the next year as home equity releases pent-up supply.”

“February marks two straight years of year-over-year gains in national prices across the United States,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The consistent upward movement in home prices should ultimately prove to be an important stimulant for higher levels of sustained market activity and growth in the housing economy.”

Highlights:
• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+19.8 percent), Nevada (+18.5 percent), Georgia (+14.2 percent), Oregon (+13.8 percent) and Michigan (+13.5 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+15.9 percent), Nevada (+14.6 percent), Florida (+13.1 percent), Washington (+11.5 percent) and Hawaii (+11.5 percent).

• Including or excluding distressed sales, no state posted home price depreciation in February 2014.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Survey Shows More than Half of Homeowners Plan Home Improvements in 2014

April 2, 2014 1:09 am

With consumer confidence and the real estate market on the rise, many homeowners are ready to begin home remodeling or maintenance projects.

According to an online survey conducted on behalf of SunTrust Banks, Inc. by Harris Poll, 56 percent of homeowners plan to spend money on home improvement projects this year. More than a quarter of homeowners (27 percent) indicated they will invest in an outdoor area such as a patio, deck, pool or landscaping in 2014. Bathroom remodels (17 percent), home repairs such as a new roof or HVAC systems (16 percent) and kitchen remodels (11 percent) were cited next. About five percent of homeowners plan to add square footage, and another five percent intend to complete a basement/attic remodel.

"People may no longer be as nervous about investing in their homes," said Gary Miller, business head of LightStream, a national online lending division of SunTrust Bank. "With the economy picking up and homes beginning to increase in value, the home improvement loan category has been energized."

Paying for Home Improvement Projects

Of those who plan to spend money on home improvements this year, 20 percent plan to spend $10,000 or more, according to the survey. "Although many people will use money from savings or from tax refunds, we're seeing a strong market for home improvement loans. Customers are telling us they're using loan proceeds to fund deferred maintenance projects as well as pool installations, solar energy systems, landscaping, and kitchen, bath and basement remodels," said Miller.

Television personality and high-end contractor Stephen Fanuka recommends having funds on hand before starting any home improvement project. "To help manage timelines and costs, have a signed contract detailing agreed-upon construction milestones," said Fanuka. "Payments should be made as benchmarks are completed. Keep a clear, ongoing record of the products and services you've purchased," said Fanuka. "That means, however, you'll need money in the bank to cover everything."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Buy a House with Less than 20 Percent Down

March 28, 2014 2:45 am

When many people start the process of buying a house they assume putting 20 percent down is required. However, this is not the case and many lenders and mortgage brokers offer options for borrowers looking for mortgages that have a small down payment. Don Frommeyer, CRMS, President of NAMB (The Association of Mortgage Professionals), shares his advice for potential homeowners searching for mortgages with less than 20 percent down payment.

“There are a couple of things you’ll want to make sure you have before researching mortgages, including solid credit standing and a steady income,” says Frommeyer. “The options are out there and exist to make sure that people have the ability to buy and invest in real estate, even in today’s competitive housing market and tight credit environment.”

Frommeyer suggests the following tips when buying a house with a low down payment:

- Maintain a Strong Credit Score: Credit score is one of the first things lenders look at when determining who is a qualified borrower. Make payments on time and keep in mind that even small mistakes may take some time to clear from credit scores.

- Look Beyond Your Local Banks: There are many options available outside of traditional bank mortgages. Mortgage brokers offer a wide range of mortgage loans with zero down payments; an example is VA Loans. Veterans of the military and qualified retired veterans are eligible to use this benefit for a 100 percent loan. They also offer FHA loans to qualified borrowers for as little as 3.5 percent down. And in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers low down payment options with financing to 100 percent. A good mortgage broker will have all of these options available and will have a variety of lenders that they can put these through to stay competitive in the market. And even conventional loans have the ability to do loans with 5 percent down payment.

- Document Income and Assets: Lenders look for a steady income and sufficient savings to ensure borrowers can meet monthly payments. Make sure to have all account statements ready to establish proof of funds; lenders look for savings accounts that indicate the borrower will be able to cover a few months of payments. In addition, hold jobs for at least two years or within the same industry to demonstrate longevity and stability.

- Be Prepared to Pay More Monthly: When you do loans with limited funds down, most will require some sort of mortgage insurance to complete the loan. Conventional loans require Private Mortgage Insurance on loan to values above 80 percent. FHA loans have Mortgage Insurance on all of their loans and the VA only has a funding fee.

- Explore Options: Frommeyer suggests going to at least two lenders to be able to compare good-faith estimates. This allows you to look at two completely different options and this will help talking to more than one source when looking for a mortgage. Compare the fees, estimates, closing costs, etc. thoroughly before selecting any loan.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Why Invest in Insulation during a Renovation?

March 28, 2014 2:45 am

(BPT) - When it comes to enhancing the value and comfort of a home, most homeowners will opt to address the cosmetic features of a home when completing a renovation project. Yet, it's often the things that homeowners don't consider that can have the biggest impact on the value of a home.

Across the country, the cost of heating and cooling a home has sharply increased. The price of gas, oil and electricity has driven up the cost of living for many homeowners. With this in mind, more homeowners are seeking budget-friendly solutions that provide not only consistent performance over the long-term, but also help keep costs down.

Before beginning a home improvement project, homeowners should consider the whole building envelope rather than just the cosmetic features such as chrome fixtures or granite countertops. High-efficiency windows are an excellent investment for any home to help drive down excessive energy waste and high utility costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that traditional windows contribute as much as 10 percent of the total air escaping from a typical home, while improperly sealed doors can contribute 11 percent.

Investing in an effective insulation solution also can make a significant impact on reducing utility costs. Building experts suggest that homeowners completing a home improvement project should be as involved as possible in determining the best insulation type for their home. This means that homeowners should actively research the types of materials available and how well they perform over the long term. While building code requirements and standards were much more lax in the past, recent amendments to the building code mandates that homes must meet certain criteria for insulation levels, heating management and carbon emissions.

One insulation solution that can meet and exceed the newest building code requirements is spray foam insulation. As a modern insulation solution, the benefits of spray foam insulation can have a significant and positive impact on a home. Available in a variety of densities, spray foam insulation combats against air leakage and works well in all types of homes across the country, regardless of climate. More information on the effectiveness of spray foam insulation is available online at www.icynene.com.

Traditional insulation materials are overly permeable allowing moisture and fluctuations in temperature to pass through the home's envelope easily. Yet, spray foam insulation both air seals and insulates to keep allergens and irritants at bay and eliminates air leakage to keep the conditioned air inside without the HVAC system working overtime to compensate.

Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures year-round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment. Insulation experts from Icynene note that quality spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Perfect the Art of Grilling Juicy, Tender Pork Chops

March 27, 2014 2:30 am

(Family Features) A recent survey by the Heart, Patio and Barbecue Association found that seven out of 10 home grillers consider themselves to be “better than average” at grilling. With warmer weather on the horizon, there’s no better time to put your skills to the test and perfect the art of pork chops on the grill. An incredibly flavorful, juicy and tender choice, pork chops – with cuts like Porterhouse, Ribeye and New York – are perfect for casual backyard entertaining and easy family dinners alike.

Tips for Tender Chops
Mastering grilled pork chops is easy no matter your skill on the grill. It’s all about selecting the right recipe, preparing the grill correctly and grilling your pork chops like a steak using a digital thermometer to ensure the proper range of doneness – between 145°F (medium rare), followed by a three-minute rest and 160°F (medium). To prep your grill:
• Arrange hot coals evenly on the fire grate of the grill or use all gas burners on medium-hot heat.
• Place pork directly above the heat source.
• Follow suggested cooking times – 3/4 inch chops should be cooked for 8-9 minutes and 1 1/2 inch chops for 12-16 minutes -turning once during cooking.

For a deliciously sweet and spicy recipe like Sweet Fire Pork Chops, seasoned with hot chipotle chile, zesty orange, garlic and sweet honey – choose 3/4-inch Porterhouse (bone-in loin) chops to create your new favorite masterpiece. For a complete meal, serve them with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed green beans.

Visit www.PorkBeinspired.com to learn about ways you can win with pork and to find more inspiring recipes that will keep your grill hot all summer long.

“Sweet Fire” Porterhouse Pork Chops
Servings: 4

Ingredients
4 Porterhouse (bone-in loin) pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Grated zest of 1 large orange
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey

Cooking Directions
In a small bowl, stir oil, ground chipotle, salt, orange zest and garlic together into a paste. Using a rubber spatula, spread chipotle mixture over both sides of pork. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in grill. Place chops on grill and close lid. Grill over direct heat, turning once, about 4-5 minutes per side, until the internal temperature of the pork on a meat thermometer measures between 145°F (medium rare) and 160°F (medium). During the last 2 minutes, brush chops on both sides with honey. Remove from grill and let rest for 3 minutes.

Source: National Pork Board

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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