RE/MAX 440
Diane Minguez
dminguez@remax.net
Diane Minguez
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
PH: 267-575-6818
O: 215-362-2260
C: 267-575-6818
F: 267-354-6882 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

My Blog

Keep Your Home Fire-Free

October 31, 2012 1:14 am

A fire is one of the greatest homeowner fears. Not only could you lose your home and valuables but, more importantly, your family could be at risk! To put your mind at ease, and protect your home from potential fires, follow these simple tips.

-Change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every six months.
-Always turn car engines off when pumping gas.
-Give space heaters their space – at least three feet from anything flammable – and turn space heaters off before bed.
-To extinguish charcoal grill fires, close the lid and vents and if the fire persists, douse the grill with water from a distance. Remember: never use a charcoal grill indoors.
-Keep charged fire extinguishers handy in the home and in vehicles.
-Use baking soda instead of water on grease fires.
-Program ICE (In Case of Emergency) in cell phones for EMS, police and fire contacts.
-Long grilling utensils are best to avoid burns.
-If an appliance smokes or smells, unplug it immediately and have the appliance repaired or replaced. -Store matches and lighters safely out of kids' reach.

Source: Firehousesubs.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Ways Your Neighbors Can Hurt Your Property Value

October 31, 2012 1:14 am

Neighbors can be the greatest people in the world, or they can be your worst enemies. But the reality is that most neighbors fall somewhere in between -- yes, even if you think you love them. There are dozens of ways your neighbors can hurt you or your property value without ever letting it be known. That's not even including the usual ways, such as noise and failing to maintain their homes. Consider the following five examples.

1. Using your Wi-Fi. If you haven't put a password on your Internet, do it now. If your neighbor logs onto your network and downloads child porn or copyrighted content, you may be on the hook. The authorities (and record companies) will force you to spend a lot of money explaining that it wasn't you.

2. Stealing your land. Little known is the concept of adverse possession. If your neighbor plants bushes or erects a fence or driveway on your property, those few inches (or feet) will eventually become theirs. Be vigilant about property lines so your neighbors can't hurt you.

3. Fences. In some jurisdictions, both neighbors are responsible for the upkeep of shared fences. If your neighbor isn't fulfilling his duty, you may end up paying for half a replacement fence.

4. Bed bugs. This is one of the worst ways neighbors can hurt you. If you live in a condo, duplex or row house, they'll infest everything. And unfortunately, it's very hard to pinpoint their source, so everyone may end up being responsible for remediation.

5. Trees. When a branch hangs over into your yard, the tree is technically encroaching upon your property. You arguably have a right -- and duty -- to cut some branches so the tree isn't so side-heavy. If you don't, and they fall and cause damage, the injured party may try to hold you responsible. Ouch.

Source: Findlaw.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Remodeling? Follow These 5 Steps First

October 30, 2012 1:08 am

Having the flexibility to turn your home into your dream house is an amazing feeling, and remodeling can be fun. But imagine being halfway through your kitchen remodel only to realize the money you budgeted isn't enough to cover completing the project. This is a perfect example of why proper home remodeling planning is so important. Below are five steps everyone should follow before the remodeling process takes place.

1. Draw a plan to define a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like. Write down any and all thoughts you have in regards to the desired room design. Draw where you think furniture pieces may go; describe how certain elements will be incorporated. The plan can change throughout the remodeling process, but having that visual at the start will help guide the project as things progress. If you are having difficulty formulating a remodeling plan, call a professional handyman or designer to help with direction and give you more ideas.

2. Research the various elements involved in your plan. Oftentimes, other people have carried out the same projects themselves and can offer valuable advice. Save time by learning from others' experiences, rather than by your own trial and error. If you find your kitchen remodeling, for example, is beyond your capabilities, a skilled handyman may offer expertise that can enhance your plan beyond your expectations. Once you have done your research, you will have a better idea of how much money and time are required to complete the plan.

3. Create a budget that you are comfortable devoting to your project. Before you begin purchasing materials and securing labor, you need to set a limit to ensure that spending does not get out of control. At this point, your plan may need alterations to fit within your budget restraints. Proper budgeting ensures your plan can be carried out to completion. In order to complete the kitchen remodeling, however, you will most likely need some professional help.

4. Gather help from experienced craftsmen to ensure your success. While some handy homeowners may opt to remodel alone, having others help will make the process a smoother experience. In some cases, that can be as simple as collecting friends and family to share the labor. Unfortunately, this type of help does not always give you the professional results you hope to achieve. Sometimes it may be best to bring in a professional.

5. Get the appropriate permits required by your local government to make sure your project complies with local building codes. Make sure to apply at your local town office for any necessary permits involved in your remodeling project. If you are unsure of how to go about this or which permits you require, handyman services can be extremely helpful.

Source: www.handymanconnection.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Halloween Drinking Data May Scare You Sober

October 30, 2012 1:08 am

Newly released data on individuals monitored every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption shows drinking increases 20.4 percent on a weekday Halloween, compared to drinking the rest of the year.

The data was compiled by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which monitors heavy drinkers 24/7 to ensure compliance with court- or treatment-mandated sobriety. For these individuals, drinking is a violation, and the consequence is often jail time, making the increase particularly noteworthy.

Drunk people generally make poor decisions, and deciding to get behind the wheel of a car is just one of the potential issues. According to AMS, on average, 99.3 percent of the 16,000 individuals they monitor each day have a completely Sober Day, making the uptick in Halloween drinking particularly significant. A Sober Day is defined as a 24-hour period with no drinking and no attempt to tamper or circumvent testing, and the data must be verified and court-validated. The study looked at data from more than 258,000 offenders monitored since 2003 in 48 states.

The Littlest Trick or Treaters
According to a post on Sobering Up, a blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction and criminal justice, there is never a good night to drink and drive, but with the U.S. Census Bureau estimating that 41 million kids will be out trick or treating this year, Halloween is a holiday that warrants extra care when traveling to and from your Fright Fest.

AMS encourages everyone to make a plan for getting home safely before you leave, rather than deciding how to get home after you've been drinking. Enforcement agencies throughout the country are taking impaired driving on Halloween seriously, and many will be running roadside sobriety checkpoints in conjunction with the Halloween impaired driving prevention initiative, running from October 25 through November 4, and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Source: Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Keeping Your Home, Pets and Children Safe During Hurricane Sandy

October 30, 2012 1:08 am

As the East Coast braves the threat of Hurricane Sandy, the American Humane Association has offered the following emergency tips to help keep pets and children safe this hurricane season:

Before the Storm
-Tie down or anchor outside objects that might fly about and injure someone.
-Bring children and pets inside; bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier that’s large enough for them to turn around and lie down in comfortably.
-Review your evacuation plan and double-check emergency supplies, bowls, water, food.
-Have a carrier at the ready.
-If your family must evacuate, take your pets with you.

During the Storm
-Choose a safe room for riding out the storm—an interior room without windows—and take your entire family there, including your pets.
-Stay with pets. If crated, they depend on you for food and water.
-Keep your emergency kit in that room with you (food, water, litter, meds).
-Know your pet's hiding places. That's where they may run; keep them with you.
-Secure exits and cat doors so pets can't escape into the storm.
-Do not tranquilize your pets. They'll need their survival instincts should the storm require that.

After the Storm
-Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside and assess damages before allowing children or animals out.
-Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier, and children close at hand. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.
-Give pets time to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
-Keep kids and animals away from downed power lines and water that may be contaminated.
-Keep an eye on children's emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.

Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet's behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their home.

Source: American Humane Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips To Avoid Getting Burned by High-Tech Scams

October 29, 2012 1:02 am

It's easier than ever to get burned these days—in fact fraud and identity-theft complaints tracked by the Federal Trade Commission topped 1.2 million last year, up 19 percent from 2010 and a whopping 800 percent since 2000. And the fraud artists are using new channels and technology that didn't exist 15 years ago, including social media, pop-up ads on your computer, and text-message "smishing" scams.

According to a Consumer Reports' investigation, two other factors compound this problem. The first is that according to experts, the need for law enforcement to pursue terrorists has shifted FBI resources from fraud cases. And making the problem even more difficult for consumers is the trend toward "last dollar" fraud, aimed at taking the last dollar from the unemployed or underemployed.

Here are some of the latest high-tech scams and what you can do to prevent getting ripped off by them:

We'll remove the virus we found for $100. Some scoundrels fly under the radar via telephone. A tech-support person, purportedly from a trusted company like Dell or Microsoft, calls to warn you that its security systems have remotely detected a virus on your computer and offers to remove it—for a fee of $100 or more. Of course, there is no virus, so you pay for unnecessary service. The crook may also take the opportunity to install mock antivirus software that later starts "finding" nonexistent malware. That can cost you a bundle for removal. Worse, the tech may also install software that scans your computer to steal your passwords and hijack your computer to generate ads and spread spam.

Protect yourself: Find legitimate antivirus and antimalware software that Consumer Reports has rated, install it on your PC, and keep it up to date. Hang up on anyone outside your home who claims to find trouble on your PC.

You could win an iPad. Start bidding! Hot electronics are commonly used to entice victims into a shakedown. A pop-up ad on your computer invites you to bid on an iPad, laptop PC, or wide-screen TV, but you must include your cell-phone number to play. Submitting your bid sends a text message to your cell phone that, whether you respond or not, may authorize an unwanted $9.99 a month subscription to some useless service. The charge gets tacked onto your cell-phone bill, where you're unlikely to notice it.

Protect yourself: Guard your cell-phone number like a credit card; don't give it to strangers. Demand refunds from your cell provider if you've been crammed. Tell your wireless and landline carriers to block all third-party billing to your account, and check previous bills for cramming charges.

Buy a gourmet dog-food coupon worth $61—for just $16. You receive an e-mail that alerts you to a website—not the manufacturer's—where you can purchase high-value coupons. They're not your typical 25 cents off but special coupons for $2 to $60 off or free high-priced products like shaving razors, pricey pet food, diapers, infant formula, coffee, and even restaurant meals. Such giveaways are rarely circulated, but manufacturers do use them to introduce new products or as a goodwill gesture to win back a wronged customer. The problem is there's no way anyone can accumulate enough of those rare coupons to make a business of it, so the ones hawked through websites are likely to be counterfeit or stolen.

Protect yourself: Avoid such coupons.

OMG. Now you really can see who views your Facebook profile!!! Social-media networks are fertile ground for fakery. You might have received news-feed messages from Facebook friends raving about an app that claims to let you see who's checking out your profile. Such messages can be spam in disguise, leading to "bait pages." Other bait involves bizarre or salacious videos. Consumers who take the bait never get the promised software or film.

Instead, the link drives the curious to a fake Facebook website. You're asked to "like" the app or other bait, which forwards the spam to all of your friends. Then you have to complete a survey, which collects personal information and opinions.

Protect yourself: Don't reveal personal information online to anyone who initiated contact with you unless your trust is certain. Look for the survey company's name and go to its website independently by reopening your browser, or call it. Ignore product promos from Facebook friends. Use caution in granting access to your profile. And think before you "like."

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Paying Your Kitchen and Bath Contractor

October 29, 2012 1:02 am

As the real estate market continues to stabilize, more homeowners are spending money on remodeling projects. If they are not careful, homeowners can end up paying more than they ever expected. Here are some valuable tips on how to avoid three of the most common pitfalls.

A homeowner makes a large deposit, then gets no work done.
This is one of the most common scams among unscrupulous contractors. They ask for a big deposit or to pay for all of the materials upfront, then the homeowner never hears from them again. To avoid this pitfall, homeowners should not pay for work or materials upfront and should avoid any large deposits.

Suppliers or subcontractors come after the homeowner for payment.
Homeowners are responsible for suppliers and subcontractors who do not get paid on their job. They can even put a lien against the home where they did the work. To avoid this pitfall, there are several strategies a homeowner can use:

Pay the supplier or subcontractor directly.
Issue joint checks to the contractor and supplier/subcontractor.
Get an unconditional lien release from suppliers/subcontractors.

The homeowner is liable for an injury on the job, including lost wages.
If the general contractor does not have valid insurance, the homeowner is liable for any injuries on the job. This includes paying lost wages, if someone gets hurt and cannot work for a period of time. To avoid this pitfall, check that the general contractor has valid liability and workman’s comp insurance.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid these and other potential pitfalls is to work with a reputable contractor who has a history of paying suppliers and subcontractors on time. Happy remodeling!

Source: Cornerstone Design & Remodel

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Is Your Furnace Ready For Winter?

October 29, 2012 1:02 am

As temperatures cool down, homeowners are advised to inspect their home-heating appliances and perform any needed maintenance to avoid health or safety hazards.

Now is the time to perform maintenance on your home-heating appliances to check that they can be operated safely and efficiently. Customers are beginning to turn on their furnaces for the first time in months. Heating appliances should be serviced annually to keep them operating safely and efficiently. Failure to perform annual maintenance on gas appliances may result in exposure to carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, and even death.

Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced.

Here are some tips for a safe, warm and energy-efficient winter:

• Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
• Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
• Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
• Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
• When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor to have the condition corrected.
• Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Source: SoCalGas

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How-To: Take the 'Labor' out of Housecleaning

October 26, 2012 3:58 am

It's the stacks of dishes, piles of papers, and toys strewn everywhere that makes cleaning seem like an overwhelming chore for most homeowners. But once the clutter is removed, spaces look bigger, homeowners experience less stress and every room is easier to clean.

Below are five tips to make things easier:

Get organized
De-cluttering a home takes more effort and time than any other chore, but once it’s done, cleaning will be a snap. Start by tackling one room at a time. Go through the room and decide what to keep, what to sell or donate, and what items will go directly into the trash bin. Once that is finished, find a place to stow away all of the items you want to keep. Remember, the floor or the tops of tables, dressers or countertops are not storage areas. If you don't have enough storage space, invest in bookshelves, under-the-bed containers, or wicker baskets. Once your home is organized, don't bring in new items without eliminating something you already have.

Clean as you go
Housework is easier, less intimidating, and less time-consuming if you integrate individual chores into normal, daily activities. In the kitchen, for instance, clean as you cook. Fill the sink with soapy water and wash items as you use them or immediately place them in the dishwasher. While you wait for food to cook, get out the broom and dustpan and sweep the floor, or go through the mail and recycle what you don't need. In the bathroom, wipe down the tub or shower stall immediately after you've finished your morning routine. Do the same after you've used the sink. Remember to wipe the adjoining counter, too. All through the day, as you move from room to room, keep an eye out for items that are out of place and give them a home.

Keep cleaning supplies close at hand
Keeping supplies in the rooms where you will use them saves steps and time, and you will be more likely to clean up a mess as soon as you see it. Store a whisk broom and dustpan, a sponge or cleaning cloth, as well as other necessary cleaning products in the kitchen. Place appropriate cleaning supplies in each bathroom, too. If your home has several levels, keep a vacuum cleaner on each level.

Follow a schedule
For most busy people, it helps to build time to clean into their schedules. Clean the toilets every Saturday morning, for instance, and do the laundry on Thursday nights. Or you might choose to focus on one room each day. Schedule small cleaning tasks throughout the week, too, to make chores less onerous.

Now, not later
It only takes a few minutes to do some chores, so don't put them off. Make your bed every morning, throw out the trash as you leave the house for work, wash and fold the clothes while you're watching television, and pick up toys every night before bed.

Source: The Maids

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Take Steps to Scare Away Foodborne Illness

October 26, 2012 3:58 am

Halloween officially starts the holiday season, which means more get-togethers with family and friends and more festive meals prepared at home. But lots of people and little time can create opportunities for mishandling and improper cooking of raw food products.

It is always important to consistently follow certain safe food handling practices, whether making a meal for yourself or your family, or preparing a feast for 12. That's because all raw agricultural products – whether its produce, fruit, meat, or poultry – could contain bacteria that might make someone sick. But, there are steps people can take in the home to reduce their risk.

Four simple words – clean, separate, cook and chill – can serve as reminders to always handle and cook food safely to reduce the risk of illness to you and your family:

Clean
• Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, cutting boards and utensils thoroughly with soap and hot water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry, including frozen and fresh products. Hands should be washed before handling food and between handling different food items.
• Wash cutting boards between preparing different cuts of raw meat or poultry.

Separate
• Avoid cross-contaminating other foods. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, your kitchen and in your refrigerator.
• Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
• Do not rinse raw poultry in your sink - it will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops or onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Cook
• Cook poultry thoroughly. Poultry products, including ground poultry, should always be cooked to at least 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking.
• The color of cooked poultry is not a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, older adults and persons with impaired immune systems.

Chill
• Make poultry products the last items you select at the store. Once home, the products must be refrigerated or frozen promptly.
• After cooking, refrigerate any uneaten poultry within two hours. Leftovers will remain safe to eat for two to three days.
• Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below.
• Thaw frozen poultry in the refrigerator — not on the countertop — or in cold water.
• When barbecuing poultry outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked poultry on the same plate used to transport raw chicken to the grill.
• Always marinate poultry in the refrigerator, up to two days. Marinade in which raw poultry has been soaking should never be used on cooked poultry, unless it is boiled first.

Source: National Chicken Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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