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

Tips for Making Roof Color Choices with Confidence

March 13, 2013 3:48 am

Standard slate gray or bold terracotta? Solid brown or a blend of three warm brown tones? For some homeowners, the question of what color to cap off their homes is more challenging than the decision of what roofing product to use.

According to color expert Kate Smith, CMG, people are often paralyzed at the idea of making a roofing color decision. "Selecting exterior building product colors can be daunting for some people, specifically because of the long lifespan of those products," says Smith. With some roofs having as much as a 50-year warranty, it's a long-term color commitment to make. "While it's fairly easy and inexpensive to repaint the interior of a room, you want to maximize your roofing investment by selecting a color you can live with for many years. Many people need some support and guidance when making those larger color decisions."

Smith, a national color expert, offers these tips for homeowners trying to determine what roofing colors to select.

• Tip #1 – Take time and do your homework. Don't rush a decision. Try to envision a home exterior that you will like next year, five years from now, and then 20 years from now.

• Tip #2 – Consider your options. While a solid color roof may work for some home styles, a blend of several colors may offer a "softer" look with more accent options. Pre-bundled roofing color blends can be made with two, three, four or five different color blends that complement each other.

• Tip #3 – Investigate the different roofing color options available to you. Use a Color Design tool to create your own custom color blends.

• Tip #4 – Request life-sized samples of your favorite color roofing tiles to hold up against your current roof to see the change that a new color will make for your home.

• Tip #5 – Look at the other homes in your neighborhood. Your home should blend in or stand out from other homes, but never clash with the rest of the homes in your community. A roofing color can help achieve a harmonious look.

• Tip #6 – Get assistance from a professional. Just as selecting the roofing product is a big decision requiring the assistance of a professional, so is the choice of the roof color. Consult a color expert and use the color tools offered by experts and product manufacturers to gain a strong comfort level for your color choice.

Source: www.davinciroofscapes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips on Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place

March 13, 2013 3:48 am

There are many benefits to planting trees: they keep homes cool by providing shade, enhance property values and clean the air. However, if the right tree is not planted in the right place, it can potentially damage electric and gas lines, causing power outages, gas leaks and other serious public safety concerns. In fact, more than 90 percent of tree-caused power outages come from healthy trees and branches that fall or grow into power lines.

Even trees that are small when planted may grow to heights that can interfere with overhead distribution power lines, and planting any type of tree near larger, higher-voltage transmission power lines should be avoided all together. Calling 811 before digging will also help customers plant trees in a location where roots won't interfere with underground electric and gas lines.

Here are a few tips for planting the right tree in the right place, especially if you are planting trees near distribution power lines:

• Only plant a tree near distribution power lines if it will grow to less than 25 feet at maturity. (This information is available at your local nursery.)

• Avoid planting any type of tree near larger and higher voltage transmission power lines; only use low-growing plants.

• Whenever homeowners or contractors are grading, installing sprinklers or planting a tree, PG&E urges them to call 811 at least two days before starting a project to have underground gas and electric lines marked. For more information, visit www.call811.com.

• Keep all trees, equipment and people at least 10 feet away from power lines.

Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top Five Termite Facts & FAQs

March 13, 2013 3:48 am

According to pest control leader Orkin, this is the season for termite swarms in the southeast U.S. When temperatures are consistently above freezing, termites often swarm inside homes before moving outdoors to search for food and water. Here are answers to consumers' top five frequently asked questions.

Q: Are termites only active in the spring and summer?
A:
No, even though termites are most visible in the spring, they can damage property year-round. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause about $5 billion in damage per year in the U.S.

Q: What is a termite swarm, and if I see one, does that mean I have a termite problem?
A:
Swarmers, also known as the "reproductives" of the colony, are termites that come out each year to start new colonies. They usually leave the nest in the spring. Colonies do not typically start producing swarming termites until the colony is fairly mature and has more than likely been established for a while. If people see a swarm of termites inside their home, that could be a sign that termites have been there for at least five to seven years.

Q: How can you tell the difference between a termite and a flying ant?
A:
Although termite swarmers and flying ants can be easily confused, homeowners should not assume swarms are groups of flying ants. Termites are found in every state except Alaska and thrive in warm and damp, humid climates. This is a good example of why it is important to partner with a professional pest management company. They can help homeowners determine what type of pest they have and develop a customized approach to a treatment plan and solution. Another difference is that ants typically swarm in the summer, while termites generally swarm right at the onset of spring when winter is ending.

Q: I do not see any signs of termites, so do I need to worry about a preventive plan?
A:
Warning signs can be subtle and often go unnoticed until structural damage has already occurred. Signs of an infestation can include termite swarms, mud tubes and piles of discarded wings. After the termites swarm, which is typically during warm spring days, they can shed their wings and leave piles of them behind. Any area around your home that is in contact with the soil can be a potential termite entrance.

Q: What else can homeowners do to prevent a termite problem?
A:
Orkin advises homeowners to keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home. Also, do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home's siding. This could provide access for termites to enter your home. Finally, pay close attention to dirt-filled porches and crawlspaces. Termites could have easy access to wood through cracks in foundation walls or if wood is in contact with the soil.

Source: Orkin

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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A Winning Kitchen Remodel Recipe: 4 Secret Ingredients for Success

March 12, 2013 3:42 am

For the first time since 2008, kitchens have become the No. 1 remodeling project for homeowners, according to RemodelorMove.com. But before you join the rush to remodel your kitchen, you should carefully consider whether the project is a good idea for your finances and family.

To help you make the right decisions, there are new and free tools available online to help you decide if remodeling is a good decision; estimate how much it will cost to remodel your kitchen, find, save, categorize, and share kitchen design ideas and pictures, and get answers to your remodeling questions.

Here is some sage advice to help you get started the smart way on your kitchen remodel:

First, decide if remodeling is right for you. You should consider a multitude of variables, such as: Can we comfortably pay for this remodel? Is my family emotionally ready to deal with the disruption? Would it be easier or less expensive to move instead?

Next, get a cost estimate. Remodel cost calculators are available to give you an instant estimate. It's important to get an estimate early in the planning phase to give you plenty of time to arrange your finances, compare prices on everything from appliances to countertops to cabinetry, and make sure your kitchen remodel is as budget friendly as possible.

Make organization a top priority. You'll be dealing with a thousand tiny details, ranging from paint colors to cabinets to floor plans. Letting any one of these details fall through the cracks could mean extra expense and delays.

Bring in the experts for answers. You may find that talking with a real estate agent, interior designer, architect, mortgage banker, or remodeling contractor can help you understand the true costs and benefits of remodeling.

If you approach your kitchen remodel with an eye for cost-effectiveness and organization, not only will you have a gorgeous new space to cook in, you can even increase the value of your home.

Source: RemodelorMove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Heat Your Home the Natural Way

March 12, 2013 3:42 am

Wondering how to bring heating and related energy costs down while maintaining home comfort? In addition to plugging air leaks, the Alliance to Save Energy is encouraging homeowners to use sunlight as a cheap alternative to heating their home.

The Alliance provides the following tips for homeowners to heat their home for less this winter:

-Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.

-Let a programmable thermostat “remember for you” to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by up to 10 percent–and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.

-Keep furnace filters clean. Check and change your filter every month during heavy-use winter months to assist air flow so your system doesn't have to work harder to keep you warm.

-Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills and can often pay for itself in energy savings.

-Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The federal government’s ENERGY STAR website (www.energystar.gov) can help you find a qualified individual.

For more information, visit www.ase.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Drivers Going Through the Claims Process

March 12, 2013 3:42 am

When submitting a claim to an auto insurance company, one of the most important people in the process is the insurance adjuster. This is the person who handles most of the major aspects of the claims process, from examining the damage on a vehicle to determining fault. After filing a claim with an insurance company, the claims department will assign the claim to an adjuster. Expect to hear from an adjuster shortly after filing a claim, as he or she will be the main contact at the insurance company throughout the process. Getting to know the insurance adjuster’s role and what you should expect from the adjuster helps make the claims process go smoothly.

The adjuster’s job is to determine whether the person making a claim is owed payment under the insurance policy. The adjuster will:

• Take a statement from the claimant and any witnesses regarding the accident.
• Examine the damage to the car.
• Determine the current value of the car.
• Review all statements and police reports regarding the accident.
• Determine fault.
• Review injury claims.
• Determine what benefits apply, if any.
• Deal with the other party’s insurance company, if applicable.

These are just a few of the tasks the insurance adjuster must handle in order to ensure a properly and fairly processed claim. When a claim is being processed, expect to hear from the adjuster regularly. The adjuster’s contact phone number will be provided, should any questions or concerns arise or if you simply want to find out the status of a claim.

Your insurance adjuster should:

• Provide updates on the claim status.
• Address concerns regarding the claim.
• Represent the driver’s interests to the other insurance company if not at fault.
• Assist with all needs as covered in the policy, such as a rental car.
• Work toward a fair settlement and listen if any disagreement comes up with determinations, including fault and value of the car.

A good claims department should be one of the major factors in choosing an insurance company. When shopping around to compare car insurance rates, take a look at each company’s customer satisfaction ratings for claims processing. Good insurance adjusters are fair, work quickly and ensure everyone is satisfied. Don’t hesitate to question or voice concerns about a claim and if the adjuster is being unfair, ask to speak to someone in a senior position to address any concerns.

Source: InsuranceHotline.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Effective Home Employment

March 8, 2013 3:34 am

More and more U.S. employees are seeking opportunities to work from home, while many managers and business owners are still reluctant. Some middle managers may be fearful that allowing employees to work from home will adversely affect productivity. However, this does not necessarily have to be true. With the right practical advice, small business owners and contractors who work from home can make the best use of their time without letting their setting affect their workload.

Clear communication and well-understood expectations are essential for making home-based employment work. These five tips can aid those seeking to make home-based employment a smooth transition without a lapse in their work day.

1. Ensure you know what your employer’s expectations are: See to it that there are no unanswered questions about work hours, breaks, company equipment, and so forth.

2. Ensure that your results are communicated to your employer: Working long hours will not matter if your boss is not aware of what you accomplish.

3. Set up an effective work space: Make sure you have a work area that is free of distractions and is also comfortable and separate from the rest of your house.

4. Establish boundaries with your family and friends: Make sure they are aware of the demands of working from home.

5. Assess your progress on a regular basis: Record your achievements and mark your progress along the way. Make regular evaluations of your work habits.

Working from home is ultimately successful when it is treated like a job. In order to convince an employer you are serious about it, the bottom line is to behave in as professional a manner as possible.

Source: Jenkins Coaching

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Americans Expect Home Prices and Mortgage Rates to Increase

March 8, 2013 3:34 am

Consumer attitudes toward the economy and housing continue to diverge this winter, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2013 National Housing Survey results. On the one hand, consumers continue to express strong positive attitudes toward housing. On the other hand, sentiment about the economy and household finances is stalled. Average 12-month home price expectations and the share of consumers who believe home prices will go up over the next year both rose to record highs, and the percentage of Americans who say mortgage rates will rise reached its highest level since August 2011. At the same time, Americans’ views on their personal financial situation, household income, and the direction of the economy fell or remained flat.

“Despite fiscal headwinds and political uncertainty, consumer sentiment toward housing is robust and continues to gather strength,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, gradually reducing the population of underwater borrowers and helping to boost the share of consumers who say that now is a good time to sell."

“Since reaching its trough last September, the share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to rise has trended up,” continued Duncan. “However, despite historically low mortgage rates, nearly half of borrowers have never refinanced their mortgage. Combined with the scheduled year-end HARP deadline, rising rate expectations should prompt some borrowers to refinance soon to take advantage of more favorable mortgage terms and add to their disposable income, helping to offset ongoing fiscal drag.”

Survey Highlights


Homeownership and Renting

The average 12-month home price change expectation increased 0.5 percent over last month to 2.9 percent, the highest level since the survey’s inception.

At 48 percent, the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months also reached a survey high, while the share who believe home prices will go down held steady at the survey low of 10 percent.
The percentage who think mortgage rates will go up increased by 4 percentage points to 45 percent, the highest level since August 2011, while those who think they will go down held steady at 7 percent.
Twenty-five percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell a house, the highest level since the survey’s inception in June 2010.

At 3.9 percent, the average 12-month rental price change expectation increased 0.2 percent over January.
Fifty percent of those surveyed say home prices will go up in the next 12 months, holding steady from January at the highest level since the survey’s inception.

The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased by 2 percentage points to 67 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

At 38 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track has held steady over the past three months.

The percentage who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell by 2 percentage points to 41 percent.

Twenty-one percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month.

Thirty-one percent report significantly higher household expenses compared to 12 months ago, a 7 percentage point decrease and the lowest level since June 2010.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Six Sleep Tips for Making Daylight Savings A Smooth Transition for Children

March 8, 2013 3:34 am

Sunday, March 10 will mark the switch for many of us in Daylight Saving Time as we set the clocks forward by one hour. Many find this transition more challenging than its "fall back" counterpart because it feels like we're losing an hour of sleep as we adjust to an earlier wake time. However, we eventually make up for this temporary loss as we fall into an earlier bedtime and it all ends up evening out. Dr. Sasha Carr, Certified Child Sleep Expert and Founder of Off to Dreamland in Norwalk, Conn., offers six tips for making the transition as smooth as possible for the whole family.

1. If you have a young baby with multiple naps and feedings per day or your little one has extra challenges adjusting to changes due to special needs or a delicate temperament, make the change more gradual. Begin moving waking, naps, and bedtimes 15 or 30 minutes a few days ahead of the official time change and keep moving earlier every day or two until you're at a full hour ahead. Spread it out over a long weekend by starting on Thursday or Friday so that by Sunday or Monday your schedule now matches the new time on the clock.

2. If your child is older, napping just once or not at all, or has a very adaptable temperament, try the quick-and-simple-approach immediately switching to the new clock. However, make the switch on Friday night / Saturday morning rather than Sunday just to give everyone an extra weekend day to adjust to the change. This is especially helpful if your child is in school.

3. Adjust feeding or mealtimes and other scheduled activities along with sleep times, and be especially consistent with your usual routines during the adjustment phase. So, for example, if bath time is usually at 6:00 followed by bedtime at 7:00 and you're moving everything up 30 minutes that day ahead of the change, make sure that bath time is at 5:30.

4. Make an effort to expose everyone in the family, yourself included, to bright light early in the morning to help ease the transition to your earlier wake times. Likewise, try dimming the lights or drawing the curtains in the early evening to encourage the new earlier bedtimes.

5. As we head into spring and summer and the sun shows up earlier in the morning and sticks around longer into the evening the further north you live, remember to keep your child's sleeping environment dark using blackout shades or heavy curtains in order avoid having a "little rooster" who arises at dawn.

6. If you happen to already have a little early riser, especially a baby or toddler who is not in daycare and whose daily schedule you can control, now may be your chance to make a change. Try shifting everything, including feeding or mealtimes, only 30 minutes back instead of the full hour. This way their wake time, feeding times and bedtime will all happen 30 minutes later on the clock after the time change.

Source: Dr. Sasha Carr, Family Sleep Institute/Off to Dreamland

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Families Are Making Mealtime a Top Priority

March 7, 2013 3:32 am

In honor of National Nutrition Month, a positive step toward healthier habits at home may simply involve pulling up a chair at the kitchen table. Research shows that families who regularly eat together are more likely to consume more fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods. What is surprising is how frequently family meals are actually happening. A new study shows that American families are stronger than ever - making time to eat together, talk to one another, and enjoy spending time together at meals.

While many may think the traditional ideal of a family gathered for dinner is a memory of a bygone era, Welch's Kitchen Table Report found that 71 percent of respondents say their families eat dinner together as often as or more today than their families did when they were children. Moreover, 84 percent of respondents say that one of their favorite parts of the day is when their family eats together.

"Parents are making mealtimes a priority in order to share a moment with their children," commented registered dietitian and Welch's Health and Nutrition Advisory Panel member, Sarah-Jane Bedwell. "That's good news because research has shown an association between regular family meals and improved family nutrition."

Despite all this good news, the modern American family still faces challenges that impact family mealtime. Four-in-ten survey respondents cite the lack of time to cook meals, especially healthy meals, as a top barrier to family mealtimes.

"There are easy solutions to combat the common obstacles facing families at mealtime," shares Casey Lewis, a registered dietitian and Welch's Health and Nutrition Lead.

To view the full survey or for family-friendly meal plans, heart-healthy recipes, and meal makeovers, visit http://www.welchs.com/health-and-nutrition/kitchen-table-report.

Source: Welchs

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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