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

Winter Blues? Warm Up at Home

December 28, 2012 3:32 am

For many of us, winter means more time spent inside and less time spent in the great outdoors, which can often lead to a classic case of cabin fever and winter blahs. According to Debra Duneier, author and creator of EchoChi, with a few simple steps, you can transform your home into a place that makes you feel happier and healthier this winter:

• Use color creatively. Add warmth and excitement to your life by accessorizing your home with red, yellow and orange, says Duneier. These colors have a stimulating Chi (energy vibration) and have the energy of summer. This invigorates our environment, making us feel more optimistic and energized.

• Bake something. Turn on the oven to fight off the wintery chill. After all, who doesn’t feel better by the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking? Try a variety of ingredients like vanilla or cinnamon and experiment with baking an old family recipe, advises Duneier. Winter provides the perfect opportunity to slow down and reconnect to your home and family through baking.

• Use fragrance to bring the outdoors in. Scented candles can be especially helpful in the winter when we spend so much time indoors. Home fragrance can reconnect us to the natural world through our sense of smell. The scents of flowers, fresh rain, the forest, or ocean air are all essential to our well-being. Choose candles made of soy or bees wax with 100 percent cotton wick to ensure a toxic-free experience.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

December 28, 2012 3:32 am

On average, an approximate one-quarter-million homes and offices have at least one room damaged by a frozen pipe per year. In order to ensure your home stays safe and your pipes don’t freeze, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® suggests three easy-to-remember steps: Foam, dome and drip.

Foam: Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold, winter months.

Dome: Place an insulating dome or other coverings on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.

Drip: Allow a slow drip from your faucets to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, the released pressure in the water system will reduce the likelihood of a rupture. If you are going out of town and suspect the temperature will drop, turn off the water and open all of the taps to drain the water system. This way pipes won’t freeze and you won’t return home to a mess.

Your local home improvement store will have all of the tools and expertise you will need to complete these steps. Foam, dome and drip your way to a safe winter season, free of costly home repairs.

For more information, visit www.greatwinterweatherparty.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips on Why a Sunroom Can Make a Great Winter Living Space

December 27, 2012 3:30 am

Many people typically think of sunrooms as a summer addition - a place to soak up the sunshine and bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor living. But these tips serve as a reminder to homeowners that sunrooms, conservatories and patio enclosures, when built properly, can easily be a cozy cold-weather retreat.

While sunrooms and patio rooms do make an excellent warm-weather family hub, that only tells part of the story. Getting a true year-round sunroom means getting a glass room addition with a superior build quality that can be used during even the coldest months, with no need to abandon it as soon as the winter weather arrives. The difference between cheaply-made three-season rooms and a four-seasons sunroom is that the latter is a room addition you can utilize all year long, even when it's cold outside.

When buying a Sunroom or Conservatory, it's the glass that makes all the difference in providing insulation in the colder winter months. Try to find energy-efficient glass, exclusive to its own room, that does just that. The sunroom will block out more of the heat in the summer and stay warmer during the winter, allowing the homeowner to enjoy year-round comfort, even when there's thick snow on the ground.

Another great benefit of any sunroom or conservatory is the way it can flood a home with natural daylight. Exposure to natural light makes people feel healthier and much lighter in spirit, so a room addition that lets in a lot of light is a great way to keep those "winter blues" away.

When it's too cold to venture outdoors, a sunroom will bring the outside inside, 365 days a year. It can serve as a wonderfully tranquil space to enjoy the plants, trees, birds and other wildlife in the backyard all from the comfort of an armchair. At night, it's a romantic spot to do a little star gazing, or watch the gently falling snow from in front of the fireplace.

During the summer months, it's easy to live life outdoors, but it's just as easy to forget how tight a home may be on space, especially during those long winter days when families can be all cooped up together. Sunrooms, conservatories or patio rooms are more than just an extended porch; they can make great playrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchen extensions. Matching the addition to a family's needs creates a comfortable home for all to enjoy, winter or summer.

For more information, visit www.FourSeasonsSunrooms.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips to Overcome Winter Gloom and Sell Faster

December 27, 2012 3:30 am

If your home will be for sale this winter, it is important to master certain seasonal issues that are less significant or even non-existent at other times of the year. Here are a few tips to aid in the successful sale of your home:

• Brighten it up: Counter the cloudy days of winter by making your home stand out. Keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled. You never know who will be driving by to take a peek.

• Don't overlook a place for shoes: Prospective buyers and guests will likely be schlepping through your home with muddy shoes and boots. Make sure you have a designated spot for wet footwear, like a festive rug or area in the breezeway. You want to ensure that your home stays just as clean for whoever will be touring the home next.

• Keep it fresh: Homes, especially ones not currently being lived in, have a tendency to get stuffy in the winter time. Air out the home on warmer days or have a nice room fragrance available, like a candle or spray. As always, keep pets hidden or away from the main quarters to make sure no additional smells enter the home.

• Keep a steady temperature: Don't cook your prospective buyers. Keep the home at a steady 65 degrees during showings. Those touring will likely not be taking off their jackets, so there's no reason to make them sweat.

• Don't ignore the exterior: Just because it's winter doesn't mean you should neglect the yard. Be sure to keep walkways clear of ice and debris to ensure everyone's safety. Always shovel the driveway and walks promptly after a snowfall or ice storm.

With these tips and a little bit of thought, adjusting your selling methods to suit the season can only help in the long run.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Five Ways to Turn a Resolution into Reality

December 27, 2012 3:30 am

While approximately 90 percent of Americans break their New Year’s resolutions by January 31, there are strategies to help you stick to your guns and make your goals for 2012 a reality. Consider these tips from life coach, Dr. Maya Bailey:

• Be clear and specific. Dissect general resolutions, such as “I want to be more successful,” to come up with the specific steps to reach that goal. For example, define what success means to you: More money? More time to spend with family? More notoriety? This will help clarify the necessary steps for reaching your goal, says Bailey.

• Confront your mental blocks. Ask yourself what blocks and obstacles you will have to overcome to reach your goals, advises Bailey, and take inventory of your own self-limiting beliefs. Uncover the beliefs that have historically blocked you from moving forward and replace these with new, positive thoughts right away.

• Determine where you need improvement. Once you’ve conquered your self-limiting beliefs, figure out which areas of weakness tend to hold you back from reaching your goals: Disorganization? Avoiding people? Lack of consistency? Sometimes our bad habits derail us from reaching our goals, so seek to strengthen such areas, says Bailey.

• Have a timeline and a plan. Declaring a resolution is a great first step but if you don’t put some parameters around it, such as a deadline, chances are high that it might never happen. A plan and a timeline build in necessary accountability to your resolution, Bailey explains. Consider enlisting a colleague, spouse or coach to help in the accountability department.

• Keep the prize in mind. Did you know that most top athletes mentally rehearse and visualize themselves performing at their best? If you're really serious about manifesting what you want this year, take advantage of this important strategy, says Bailey. Picture yourself a year from now having achieved all your resolutions for 2012, ready to take on the challenges of yet another year. This positive mental image will serve as an important motivator throughout the year.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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RREIN RC - Tips on Why a Sunroom Can Make a Great Winter Living Space

December 27, 2012 3:30 am

Many people typically think of sunrooms as a summer addition - a place to soak up the sunshine and bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor living. But these tips serve as a reminder to homeowners that sunrooms, conservatories and patio enclosures, when built properly, can easily be a cozy cold-weather retreat.

While sunrooms and patio rooms do make an excellent warm-weather family hub, that only tells part of the story. Getting a true year-round sunroom means getting a glass room addition with a superior build quality that can be used during even the coldest months, with no need to abandon it as soon as the winter weather arrives. The difference between cheaply made three-season rooms and a four-seasons sunroom is that the latter is a room addition you can utilize all year long, even when it's cold outside.

When buying a sunroom or conservatory, it's the glass that makes all the difference in providing insulation in the colder winter months. Try to find energy-efficient glass, exclusive to its own room that does just that. The sunroom will block out more of the heat in the summer and stay warmer during the winter, allowing the homeowner to enjoy year-round comfort, even when there's thick snow on the ground.

Another great benefit of any sunroom or conservatory is the way it can flood a home with natural daylight. Exposure to natural light makes people feel healthier and much lighter in spirit, so a room addition that lets in a lot of light is a great way to keep those "winter blues" away.

When it's too cold to venture outdoors, a sunroom will bring the outside inside, 365 days a year. It can serve as a wonderfully tranquil space to enjoy the plants, trees, birds and other wildlife in the backyard all from the comfort of an armchair. At night, it's a romantic spot to do a little star gazing, or watch the gently falling snow from in front of the fireplace.

During the summer months, it's easy to live life outdoors, but it's just as easy to forget how tight a home may be on space, especially during those long winter days when families can be all cooped up together. Sunrooms, conservatories or patio rooms are more than just an extended porch; they can make great playrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchen extensions. Matching the addition to a family's needs creates a comfortable home for all to enjoy, winter or summer.

For more information, visit www.FourSeasonsSunrooms.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homeowners Insurance: Four Need-to-Know Items for Unoccupied Homes

December 26, 2012 3:30 am

Many people looking for unoccupied homeowners insurance for an empty residence will find that the process can be difficult. Many companies will not cover such a dwelling or charge high premiums because of the increased risk associated with vacant properties. The chances of burglary and vandalism are higher. The potential of unnoticed damage, which can compound problems and costs, also increases. There may also be an issue with squatters.

If a residence is vacant for more than 30 days, a standard policy may become invalid. In order to find homeowners insurance that will cover this type of property for a reasonable price, here are four things that should be known to reduce risk and help lower rates.

1. Make the home look occupied. There are many things that can be done, such as asking a neighbor to park their car in the driveway and putting lights on a timer. It is also recommended to leave furniture in the home when securing your home. Be sure to also have newspapers and other mail stopped.

2. Prepare the central heating and water. If a house will be empty during winter months, the risk of frozen pipes and water damage increases. By keeping the heat on at a low setting, this risk is reduced.

3. Set up regular inspections. The majority of problems with vacant properties are simply because of unnoticed issues and compounding damage and costs. By having a trusted third party make regular visits, this can be avoided and add peace of mind.

4. Secure the property and remove valuables. All entry points should be secured with an alarm set. Valuables should be removed so they do not attract attention that could lead to burglary.

By following these tips, you can reduce the risk and hopefully use it as leverage to receive lower insurance rates.

For more information, visit www.HomeownersInsurance.net.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Important Tips for Seeking Senior Housing

December 26, 2012 3:30 am

People are living longer today. The century-long expansion in the world’s population that is 65 and older is the product of dramatic advances in medical science and health lifestyles. Currently, 13 percent of the U.S. population is 65 and older, up from 4 percent in 1900. As Baby Boomers turn 65 in higher and higher annual numbers, it is estimated that one in five Americans will be over age 65 and about 5 percent over 85. All this calls for growing care and services for the elderly population and pre-planning for lifestyles in the future.

The senior housing industry has been growing dramatically over the last 15 years as many adult children are now in the workforce and unable to provide the attention to their parents’ needs, whether physical or social. There are a number of things to be considered when choosing lifestyle alternatives.

-Location. Keeping your parents close to home should not be the number one consideration. Although it is important that the community be convenient for family and friends to visit, being close to amenities they need and trust will make their senior living experience rewarding and more fulfilling.

-Type of community. Visiting to make sure the current residents have similar interests, backgrounds and values will allow for a more enriching life in the golden years. Many communities invite prospective residents to tour their community and enjoy lunch with the community, which is a wonderful way to ascertain if the culture is a fit. Many communities offer a weekend stay to experience more fully what the community has to offer.

-Staff. Is the staff appropriately dressed, personable and outgoing? Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner? Does the staff call residents by name and interact warmly? The answers to these questions will determine quite a bit toward whether the community is right for your loved one.

-Medical needs. Does the community have on-site medical supervision? If not, is there an agency that is associated with the community that can help when needed?

Finding and choosing a housing option for an aging loved one can be a difficult process. Be sure to keep seniors' needs as your top priority in order to find a community that properly suits them.

For more information, visit www.alternativeforseniors.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Ideas for Recycling Your Christmas Tree

December 26, 2012 3:30 am

Christmas has come and gone and most families will be looking to get rid of their tree in the coming week or two. The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) estimates that 30 million natural trees are sold each year. Recently, 93 percent of respondents told the association that they participate in some sort of tree recycling program. Instead of bringing it to the dump, there are plenty of ways you can recycle your tree and use it for other purposes. Here are a few suggestions:

Curbside pickup: For those with enough yard space, leave your tree on the edge of your front yard for town or city pick-up. Some towns use leftover trees for mulch for use in public spaces like parks. You may even be able to pick up some of that mulch for your own projects. Check with your city's government or parks and recreation department or visit earth911.org to find out more information about how your area uses and distributes leftover mulch.

Yard decoration: For non-city dwellers, trees can be put up in your yard to provide shelter for small animals or add to the ambiance of the winter season. Branches can also be cut off and used to protect bare patches in your yard throughout the season.

Donate it for habitat protection: Old trees can also help stabilize habitats, such as areas devastated by natural disasters like hurricanes. They are also sometimes used as safe havens for breeding rare or endangered birds, or as waterways for schools of fish. The NCTA details many of these programs on their website.

Be creative when deciding to recycle or reuse your Christmas tree. For more information, visit www.christmastree.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

December 24, 2012 3:24 am

As more buyers are turning to the Web to begin their home search, sellers in today’s market are relying on virtual tours for that crucial first impression. If you are selling your home, take some time to get it virtual-tour and open-house ready to interest more buyers and entice a faster sale.

Virtual tours show buyers a 360-degree view of the interior of a home and allow them to narrow their home search conveniently from their personal computer. Since potential buyers will be sorting through hundreds of photos and virtual tours throughout this process, it is important to understand that your home looks different through the lens of a camera than in person.

Just as you would prepare for an open house, prepare for your virtual tour shoot by removing clutter. Move personal belongings out of sight or use this as an opportunity to donate or throw away items that you no longer use. The goal is to maximize the space of your home and depersonalize it enough to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

Here are some tips to help cut down the clutter:

-Remove excess furniture to make rooms look larger.
-Clear off the kitchen counter and hide everyday items, such as kitchen utensils, toasters, hand soap and magnets on the fridge.
-Store children’s toys, bicycles, gardening tools and other clutter out of sight.
-Place toiletries and cleaning products in cabinets or closets. Most virtual tours will only photograph the major rooms in your home.
-Take family photos off of walls and shelves while the home is being shown.
-Recycle old magazines and newspapers that take up extra space throughout the home.

The next step is to give your home a good, thorough cleaning. Since cameras often capture more than the eye can see, it is important to spend some time cleaning your home from top to bottom. Areas that are often overlooked during the cleaning process include windows and stainless steel appliances. Be sure to keep them streak free and clean to ensure the best photo.

Another cheap way to prepare your home for buyers is to brighten it up by replacing old or dim light bulbs. Consider using a higher wattage light bulb in rooms or areas that don’t get direct sunlight. You can also add a brightly-colored throw or vase to lighten up a space that has dark flooring or furniture.

Some other tips to consider for the virtual tour include:

- Take your own digital photographs to see how each room looks on camera.
- Get layout and style ideas from home and design magazines.
- Don’t forget about ceilings and floors. Most virtual tours today show all angles.
- Limit seasonal decorations.
- If exterior photos are included, park vehicles elsewhere and make sure your lawn is freshly mowed and garbage cans are out of sight.

Source: The Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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