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

How to Spot Hidden Plumbing Problems in Your New Home

June 14, 2012 1:50 am

While homebuyers are often tempted to skip the sewer line inspection when purchasing their home, this can result in thousands of dollars worth of repair down the road. Veteran plumbing service Roto-Rooter offers the following suggestions for avoiding costly plumbing repairs:

Homebuyers should know that:

  • A sewer line inspection is not included in the standard home inspection and is regularly waived in the purchasing process.
  • Responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality.
  • A plumber can complete a sewer line camera inspection for $250 to $550. While not cheap, it’s a relatively small price to pay when buying a home, especially if it helps a buyer avoid thousands of dollars in repairs down the road (anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 depending on the extent of repair required).
Sewer line inspections are particularly important when:
  • The home is 20 years or older.
  • There are mature trees around the property.
  • The home has been vacant for a period of time.
  • The concrete surrounding the home is cracked or raised.
  • There is considerable visible root growth in the yard.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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'Home Price Index' Shows Consecutive Months Increase

June 14, 2012 1:50 am

According to the monthly economic publication from CoreLogic, the housing market continues its gradual pace toward recovery. MarketPulse, compiled by CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming and Senior Economist Sam Khater, provides insight into the current and future health of the U.S. economic climate with particular focus on housing and mortgage metrics.

Key findings in the June MarketPulse Report include:
  • The Home Price Index (HPI), including distressed sales, posted two consecutive months of year-over-year increases in April 2012, the first such increase since the summer of 2010 when the housing market was benefitting from tax credits.
  • Single-family construction activity increased 2.3 percent in April, and is up 25 percent over the last six months.
  • Months’ supply of unsold homes fell to just more than six months in April 2012 and is currently at the lowest level in more than five years.
  • As the flow of REOs has slowed over the last 18 months, negative equity has become a positive force in real estate markets by restricting supply in the face of increasing demand.
  • The housing market has transitioned from pricing dynamics driven by economic weakness and high shares of distressed sales to one of restricted supply, which will likely exist for some time to come—a reason for optimism in many hard hit markets.
  • Collateral credit standards are now more liberal than at any time in the past two decades when measured by the average combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) over time for purchase mortgage loans including first and junior liens.

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5 Sneaky Ways Your Neighbors Can Hurt You

June 14, 2012 1:50 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

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What's a Dad Worth? More in 2012

June 13, 2012 3:06 am

With Father's Day right around the corner, Salary.com recently released its yearly average for what stay-at-home and working dads would make if they were paid an annual salary for their work. And there's good news to report: Dad's getting a raise this year.

Salary.com surveyed more than 1,800 fathers to calculate Dad's earning power using its Dad Salary Wizard, an interactive tool allowing dads and their families to price the job of being a father. Dads reported which 10 jobs they spend the most time doing – from Computer Operator to Day Care Teacher to Facilities Manager – and how much time they spend doing each job. Using its extensive salary data, Salary.com calculated Dad's earning power based on the national base salary of those jobs.

This year, Salary.com determined that the average stay-at-home dad juggles a 52.9 hour work week. Taking into account overtime and using salary data provided by employers, an average stay-at-home dad's 2012 totally salary would be $61,814 - up from $60,127 in 2011.

Meanwhile, dads with jobs outside the home put in 32 hours of family work at home each week in addition to time spent on the job. A working dad's at-home 2012 salary would be $36,757 – up from $33,858 in 2011. A working dad's at-home salary should be combined with his actual work salary in order to determine his yearly compensation value.

"For any job, including being a father, it's important to understand the value of what you do – what employers will pay for your knowledge and skills," says Abby Euler, general manager at Salary.com. "We all know that you can't really put a value on the love and support dads give us, but it's a fun way to celebrate and recognize their hard work on Father's Day."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Understanding Travel Insurance

June 13, 2012 3:06 am

Travel insurance is protection against those unexpected bumps in your travel plans, and may be well worth considering now that hurricane season is underway. However, just like trying to buy homeowners insurance after the house is on fire, you can't buy travel insurance for a trip that's threatened by a tropical storm or hurricane that's been publicly named by the National Weather Service. That storm is now a 'known peril.'

"Trip cancellation and interruption protection, the most popular form of insurance coverage, is based on the occurrence of unforeseen events," says Jim Grace, president and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com. "Once a storm has been publicly identified, it can only spell trouble for travelers without insurance protection. You need to purchase travel insurance coverage before a storm is predicted and named, not when it's bearing down on you or your intended destination."

The key is to plan ahead. Will you be traveling through or to a hurricane-prone region? Do you live in a hurricane zone where weather could prevent you from taking a trip to somewhere else?

Not all travel insurance policies are created equally. Coverage for weather-related trip cancellations and interruptions differs by insurance company and plan. The covered cancellation reasons can include:
  • Cancellation due to weather: when common carriers such as airlines and cruise lines cease service due to weather
  • Cancellation due to hurricane warning: cancellation of your trip if your destination is under a NOAA-issued hurricane warning
  • Destination made uninhabitable: if your hotel, resort, or vacation rental is devastated by a storm
  • Primary residence made uninhabitable: if your own home sustains destructive storm damage
  • Cancel For Any Reason: an optional benefit that allows you to choose whether or not to cancel.

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Be Prepared: 5 Things That Can Go Wrong with Your Real Estate Transaction

June 13, 2012 3:06 am

Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life. However, it’s important to realize that any real estate transaction is a very intricate process fraught with many pitfalls along the way. As Lexington, Mass.-based REALTOR® Kristin Brown Orr explains, “Every sale is different, with different buyers, different sellers, and different intermediaries. It's no wonder people find the process so daunting with all of its legalities, documentation, and fine print.”

According to Orr, the more buyers understand the potential problems that can occur when buying a home, the more prepared they will be to protect their interests. To that end, Orr highlights five problems homebuyers need to be aware of…along with potential solutions:
  • Failed home inspection. If the home you are buying does not fair well upon inspection due to health or safety concerns like mold, radon, faulty electrical systems, or structural problems, the seller should fix these issues or extend you a credit or discount in the sale price so that you can have them fixed. If he refuses to do so, you have the right to back out of the sale and search for a new home.
  • Seller is poorly motivated to sell. If a seller's heart is not in a sale, he might be prone to missing or canceling appraisals and inspections – all of which could threaten your purchase.
  • Seller hasn't found a new home to move into. If a seller has trouble finding a replacement property and refuses to consider temporary arrangements, you might find yourself in a tricky timing situation – particularly if you have a closing date on the home you are leaving. Are you prepared to wait it out in temporary housing while you wait for the seller to move out?
  • Title issues. If your seller owes money on the property you are buying, either for repayment of a debt, failure to pay taxes, or because money is owed for repairs or work done on the property, creditors with an interest in that property may take out a lien, rendering the seller unable to sell until those debts are repaid. In the meantime, you won't be able to make the purchase.
  • Failure of the seller to make agreed upon repairs. If the seller has contractually promised to deliver the property to you in a certain condition and fails to deliver, you have the right to terminate the contract and back out of the sale if you are not prepared to accept the property as is. An alternative to this situation is to talk to your attorney about either requesting a sum of money to do the fixes yourself, or request a hold back.
“The concerns listed above may seem gloomy, but it's important to remember that most real estate transactions wrap up smoothly,” says Orr. “Being educated about the potential pitfalls will simply give you a leg up on any problems that may arise. Do your homework and beware of risks. Keep informed in order to safeguard against anything within your control and keep a watchful eye so that if something does go wrong, you can address it immediately and land yourself the home of your dreams.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Beware 'Crash Fitness' Injuries

June 12, 2012 3:06 am

As body-conscious consumers make their way to the gym to prep for sundresses and shorts, many will experience the unfortunate consequences of "crash fitness" – what happens at the gym when you try to do too much, too quickly – particularly after months of sedentary behavior. In order to help combat the uptick in pre-summer gym injuries, Gold's Gym and celebrity personal trainer Robert Reames, compiled the following top five injuries that people often succumb to while "crashing" at the gym and what you can do to prevent them:
  1. Shoulder/neck injuries: Due to today's volume of computer work, work in the seated position, driving and just overall poor posture, many people are naturally predisposed to shoulder and neck strain injuries. Poor posture combined with improper form at the gym can cause a quick unforeseen injury. Making a conscious effort to improve your posture is a step in the right direction!
  2. Lower back injuries: Gym-goers these days are often times hitting the gym too hard and too fast with little to no core-training or strength-training beforehand. Your core is your center and it comprises everything above your knees. Lifting too much too fast or using improper lifting technique can easily throw your back out. Check with a trainer if you are unsure of proper technique to maximize your workout while minimizing your chances for injury."
  3. Knee injuries: Many people who are looking to 'bulk up for summer' are lifting too much weight. They also have poor excessive range of motion or poor tracking at the knee joint. Begin slowly and focus on proper range of motion by not lifting too much weight all at once.
  4. Shin splints: Stretching plays a key role in avoiding shin splints. Proper stretching before a workout will help you elongate muscles, provide flexibility and promote healing after workouts are complete.
  5. Wrist injuries: Your wrist can be the weakest link of the chain and can compromise your large major muscle groups when working out. Improper stretching and 'overloading' weight can cause a wrist injury in a matter of moments. Take the weight 'slow and steady' and gradually add more weight to your exercises over an elongated period of time.

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Red Hot Kitchen Range Colors

June 12, 2012 3:06 am

What are the hottest colors in kitchen ranges right now? Would it surprise you to find out that according to BlueStar™, known for its chef-quality residential ranges, Ruby Red is this year's hottest color? Or that light pink, ultramarine blue and even violet purple have found a home in the kitchens of some of the most discriminating and prolific home chefs?

Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson, for example, has an infused copper range in his home kitchen, while acclaimed chef Jose Garces favors his own Cobalt Blue range. According to BlueStar, color is making a splash in kitchens for people who not only take cooking seriously, but who want to make a personal design statement in the most treasured and active area of the house.

People are discovering that small bursts of color can make a kitchen pop, and there's no more predominant accent than a range, according to kitchen designer Georgia Tanajewski, CKD, CAPS, owner - oneIIone Studio in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Pops of color introduce flavor without a full scale commitment to a single, bold color. A colored range can work independently as a 'statement piece' or as a subtle backdrop allowing cabinets to take center stage," said Tanajewski. "In addition to ranges, people are introducing color accents by adding distinct hues inside kitchen cabinets or using an open shelf concept to showcase decorative pieces. Another trend is an inclination toward matte, rather than high-gloss finishes, like the BlueStar Jet Black range."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homebuilders: Lead Paint Bill would Ease Regulations, Maintain Safety

June 12, 2012 3:06 am

Responding to concerns from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and affiliated trade groups, Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and a bipartisan list of original co-sponsors recently introduced legislation to make much-needed improvements to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Lead: Repair, Renovation and Painting” (LRRP) rule.

H.R. 5911, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012, is similar to legislation (S. 2148) unveiled earlier this year in the Senate by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and five other cosponsors that would help homeowners and remodelers to better comply with the costly work practices and record-keeping requirements of the rule without compromising safety standards.

“We commend Reps. Sullivan and Murphy for championing this bill that will not only make the EPA’s lead paint rule more workable, but continue to protect pregnant women and small children,” explains 2012 NAHB Remodelers Chairman George “Geep” Moore Jr., GMB, CAPS, GMR, a remodeler from Elm Grove, La. “This legislation will provide families greater flexibility to decide on their own remodeling activities and give them the peace of mind of knowing sound safeguards remain in place to protect against lead hazards.”

Additional co-sponsors include Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.)

The LRRP rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, requires that remodelers and contractors working in homes built before 1978 be trained and certified by the EPA on lead-safe work practices before they can legally work in those homes.

Three months later, EPA removed the “opt-out” provision in the LRRP that allowed remodelers working in a home built prior to 1978 to forego more expensive work practices according to the owner’s wish if no children under the age of six or pregnant women resided there.

By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP. The agency has estimated this will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling community, and more importantly, without making young children any safer.

Further, EPA has failed to approve a test kit that meets the “false positive” and “false negative” criteria stated in the regulation.

By failing to perform a study of lead exposure rates from work on commercial and public buildings, the agency has also exceeded its congressional mandate by starting the process of extending the LRRP to those structures through an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Both the House and Senate bills would address these concerns and offer other reforms for EPA enforcement of the lead paint rule. Specifically, the legislation would:
  • Reinstate the opt-out provision to allow homeowners without small children or pregnant women residing in them – not the government - to decide whether to require LRRP compliance.
  • Suspend the LRRP if EPA does not approve a commercially available test kit that meets the regulation’s requirements.
  • Allow remodelers to reduce fines if they correct paperwork errors found during an inspection.
  • Eliminate the “hands on” recertification training requirements that force some remodelers to travel long distances to training facilities to receive proper certification.
  • Prohibit EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until at least one year after the agency conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.
  • Clarify the definition of “abatement” to specifically exclude remodeling and renovation activities.
  • Provide an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations.
Source: NAHB.com

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Keep an Eye on Food Safety While Picnicking

June 11, 2012 3:06 am

As you plan your next outdoor event, whether it be a backyard barbecue or a family reunion, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds us that foodborne bacteria multiply faster in warm weather, which can lead to food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness).

The FDA provides the following tips to help ensure food safety while dining al fresco this summer:
  • Prior to barbecue time - Defrost meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator or by submerging sealed packages in cold water. You can also microwave-defrost, but only if the food will be grilled immediately afterward. If marinating, use the fridge not the countertop. Never reuse marinade that contacted raw foods unless you boil it first, or set some of the marinade aside before marinating food to use for sauce later.
  • Handling fruits and vegetables - Thoroughly wash all produce before eating even if you plan to peel it. Fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated or kept on ice to maintain quality and safety.
  • When packing picnic gear - Place food from the refrigerator directly into an insulated cooler immediately before leaving home, and use lots of ice or ice packs to keep it at 40°F or below. Pack raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate cooler if possible, or wrap it securely and store at the bottom of the cooler where the juices can't drip onto other foods. Place beverages in a separate cooler; this will offer easy drink access while keeping perishable food coolers closed. If your picnic site doesn't offer clean water access, bring water or pack moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands. Don't forget to pack a food thermometer.
  • Keep cold foods cold - Load coolers into the passenger compartment of the car; it's cooler than the trunk. Once at the picnic site, keep food in coolers until serving time, out of direct sun – and avoid opening the lids often.
  • When grilling - Have clean utensils and platters available. Cook meat, poultry and seafood to the right temperatures; use a food thermometer to be sure. Keep cooked meats hot until serving time, at 140°F or warmer; set them to the side of the grill rack to keep them hot. When removing foods from the grill, place them on a clean platter – never use the same platter and utensils you used for raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Watch the time and outside temperature - Don't let hot or cold perishables sit out in the "Danger Zone" (between 40°F and 140°F) for more than two hours – or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F. If they do, discard them.

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