RE/MAX 440
Kathy B. Hayes
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-362-0800
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 215-498-7058
Fax: 267-354-6839 
kathy@kathyhayesrealtor.com
Kathy B. Hayes

My Blog

Catch Invisible Energy Thieves in Your Home

July 7, 2014 3:26 am

(BPT) - Today's consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before. They understand that making eco-friendly choices not only creates a positive impact on your surroundings, it can also translate into actual savings on monthly energy bills.

If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home part of the "green" initiative, follow these guidelines to help you protect both the environment and your bottom line.

Get the most out of your refrigerator. Most consumers focus on keeping the inside of their refrigerators clean, but keeping the outside clean is just as important. Dusty coils actually can impact the refrigerator's overall efficiency, because when dirty, they trap heat and prevent the refrigerator from cooling efficiently. The grills and coils should be cleaned once or twice a year and more often if you have pets. Use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment to clean the condenser cover and vents of your refrigerator. You can also use a soft bristled brush to access some of the hard-to-reach areas.

Insulate your home. Heating and cooling your home is one of your biggest energy costs, and if your home isn't properly insulated, you're losing money. Start by closing your windows and sealing any drafty areas you find. Hire a professional to insulate drafty areas of your home if you don't feel you can handle them on your own.

Cold is the new hot. A quick tip when it comes to laundry is washing clothes with cold water whenever possible. Look for washers equipped with "cold wash" technology, which achieves cold water savings with warm water washing performance. Another way to save water is to try to wash full loads, or if you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of water appropriately to avoid usage of extra water.

Turn it off. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips. Turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use as equipment still uses several watts of power when they are in standby mode. And be sure to unplug your cell phone charger when your device is fully charged.

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Mid-Century Modern Home Upgrades Go Back in Time

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

(Family Features) Mid-century modern inspiration draws from the 1940s through the 1960s, a twenty-year span when design was sleek, elegant and functional. Although the style originated more than 70 years ago, this trend has resurfaced with a fresh revival.

Retro colors and simplistic styles are just the beginning when it comes to transforming a home into a sophisticated, mid-century modern residence. Here are two easy, yet impactful upgrades you can do at home:

Vibrant Colors, Patterns and Texture
Mid-century modern design showcases quality pieces of furniture or accessories rather than décor on the walls. White or neutral color palettes are typical on the walls, but your space comes to life with accessories, bright colors, various patterns and textures.

Opt for lamps with curved bases paired with narrow lampshades, accent pillows that tout bright orange and geometric shapes, or retro art to add mid-century modern personality throughout the home.

Simplistic Furniture
Furniture from this era is characterized by clean, straight lines which play up the natural beauty of the design. Pieces that are stripped down to a simple form often speak louder than those with excess detailing. Simplistic kitchen chairs or cabinets with wood detailing in the living room are perfect ways to play up this modern design theme in your home.
Looking for one piece of iconic furniture to make a statement? Find an impressive Eames lounge chair featuring a wood and leather combination to act as the focal point for a sitting room or bedroom.

Whether the dining room features a gold bar cart stacked with your favorite beverages or the kitchen shines with a unique, vintage light fixture – blending designs from the past into a modern home will result in a personalized, sophisticated style that is sure to satisfy your design cravings and impress guests for years to come.

Source: Brizo

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How to Shoot Stunning Fireworks Photos

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

Capturing a firework burst is no easy task. Nighttime conditions and a relatively small window of opportunity present challenges for photographers, regardless of skill. But with the right amount of preparation and a few technical tweaks, anyone can shoot stunning fireworks photos. Here’s are three tips to get you started:

Come prepared – Before you start snapping shots, be sure you have all the essentials on hand. Bring an extra battery and memory card, and a flashlight for when the sun sets. Turn off the flash and remove any filters.

Set up
– A tripod works best, but if you don’t have one, put your camera on a stable surface. Place it upwind of fireworks to avoid smoky images. Set your camera’s scene mode to fireworks or night for optimal results.

Point and click – Press the shutter release just before the fireworks explode, and use a long shutter speed to capture changing colors and individual formations. Experiment with wider shots to include the surrounding landscape.

Source: Consumer Reports

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4 Tips for Hiring a Skilled Roofing Contractor

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

(BPT) - Purchasing a new roof is one of the most important - and biggest - investments you can make in your home. That's why it's crucial to have a knowledgeable professional on hand to guide you through each step of the process. In fact, choosing the right contractor is just as important as choosing the right roofing components. Remember the four "R's" to help ensure you have the best person for the job.

1. Research local contractor options.
A great contractor for your roof replacement project will be dedicated to outstanding craftsmanship and possess a high level of professionalism. Ask for referrals from friends and family or check out reviews on consumer rating sites. As a general rule, any contractor you consider should be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and hold at least $1 million in general liability insurance. Make sure to verify that he or she carries all required state and local licensing. As with any other professional service, it's also a good idea to "shop around" and obtain multiple quotes before making a commitment.

2. Rely on a trusted brand.
The top roofing manufacturers proactively seek out alliances with some of the best contractors in the business. Contractor networks are supported by the manufacturer and offer homeowners added assurance that participating professionals are skilled and reputable. These designated contractors are typically up-to-date on the latest industry standards and technologies, as well as being trained inside and out on the manufacturers' products.

3. Review any proposals thoroughly.
After a prospective contractor does a thorough inspection of your current roof, he or she should provide a written proposal and cost estimate for your roof replacement project. Review the proposal closely and inquire about such details as projected start and completion dates, expectations for payment and adherence to local building codes. The proposal also should clearly outline the scope of work for the job - including all products to be specified. In addition, this is an ideal time to ensure that the contractor will commit to supervising the job during each phase of the work, inspect it thoroughly when finished and leave your yard in the same shape it was found.

4. Request a comprehensive warranty.
Consider selecting a contractor who provides additional warranty coverage for excellent protection. Make sure your contractor takes the time to explain all available warranties so that you thoroughly understand the limitations and requirements before your roof is installed, and you know who to contact if there's a problem in the future.

It's important to make the extra effort to find a roofing contractor who will provide the support, know-how and breadth of services necessary to install a beautiful new high-performance roof for your home.

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Guidelines for Grill Safety

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

(Family Features) With the warm weather season in full swing, the opportunities for firing up the grill are plentiful. But before you reach for those barbecue tongs, there are some important grill safety tips you and your family should keep in mind.

1. Follow instructions. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembling, using and maintaining your grill.

2. Keep it outdoors. Outdoor propane grills should be located on a level surface at least five feet from the house, siding, outdoor furniture and anything else that could be a fire hazard.

3. Be smart when lighting and relighting. Keep the lid open and don't lean over the grill when lighting it. If the flame goes out, turn off the gas, keep the lid open and wait at least 15 minutes before relighting.

4. Check for leaks. Use a soapy water solution to check connections for leaks. Expanding bubbles indicate a leak. Follow this procedure when replacing a cylinder.

Source: Grilling for Heroes

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The Best Times to Score a Cruise Deal

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

For travelers looking to book a significant deal on a cruise vacation, timing is everything. Cruise Critic, the world's largest cruise website, shares five occasions when booking a cruise can yield big savings.

• Hurricane Season:
While Atlantic hurricane season typically stretches from June 1 – November 30, particularly good deals abound for sailings during its height (mid-August to mid-October). There are considerations to keep in mind – itineraries may change as ships re-navigate to avoid storms – but a majority of cruisers are unfazed by potential hurricane-related issues.

• A Year Out (or More): Travelers may just be setting out for this year's summer vacation, but it's not too soon to book next year's cruise. As sailings are announced – usually a year or more out – cruise lines tend to offer a number of added-value promotions. This includes anything from drink packages to gratuity or airfare – all added costs that cruisers will usually end up paying anyway, and could save hundreds of dollars.

• Last-Minute: The final payment for a cruise is usually 90 days out. At that time, cabins that have not been paid in full may be released, giving cruise lines a better idea of the occupancy that they have left to fill – which often means deeply discounted fares for potential cruisers.

• Off-Season: Each destination has its own high and low seasons – with cruise fares following suit. By booking a cruise during a destination's low-season, cruisers may have the option to visit their destination of choice at a much lower cost than offered during high-season – and without the crowds. Examples of low-seasons include Alaska in May and September, the Caribbean in late spring or winter (holiday weeks, excluded) or the Mediterranean in the fall.

Source: Cruise Critic

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Smart Kitchen Improvements

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

The kitchen is the center of our lives at home, serving needs way beyond its intended culinary purpose. With so much activity on a daily basis, it’s important that kitchens are equipped with functional features. Make improvements with these five smart upgrades:

Quartz countertops – Move over, granite! Quartz countertops are gaining popularity due to a wide variety of styles and low maintenance costs. They don’t need to be sealed, and are naturally resistant to spills and stains.

Smart faucets – Gone are the days of the simple stream. Homeowners will save time and money with smart faucets that boast varying stream patterns and pressures to ensure just the right amount of water is used.

Charging stations – Think about how many gadgets homeowners plug in each day – and how much easier it would be if they could all be charged in one location. Whether it’s a freestanding station or installed directly into an island or cabinet drawer, having an area to charge all electronics keeps everything within arm’s reach.

Induction cooktops - Additional seating at an island has long been the norm, but installing an induction cooktop transforms the island into a fully functional workspace. They’re also a snap to clean, blending seamlessly with the surrounding countertop.

Wi-Fi appliances – The future of total home management. Save time with new appliances that come with Wi-Fi capabilities, such as electric wall ovens. Homeowners can preheat the oven ahead of time with a few keystrokes on their phone or tablet.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Do Your Homework to Improve Your Mortgage Experience

July 1, 2014 2:15 am

I previously covered a report on which banks are making it easier for consumers to obtain credit and a mortgage, and provided a checklist to prepare when shopping for a mortgage.

So we'll conclude this little series of columns with some of the best practices Fannie Mae suggests once you have chosen a mortgage lender.

The agency suggests these tips to improve relations with lenders:

Get recommendations: Ask friends and family members for suggestions, especially if they've recently obtained a loan.

Check credentials: Mortgage bankers are regulated by either your state's department of banking or division of real estate. Check with the one appropriate to your state to see if a lender is in good professional standing. Mortgage brokers may be state regulated or not. If not, check with the local chapter of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers or the Better Business Bureau to see if their record is clean.

Do your homework: Learn about typical mortgages and ask questions when something looks amiss; a broker may be trying to pad closing costs or other fees at your expense.

Take care online:
There are plenty of attractive deals online, but first make sure you're dealing with a reliable broker or lender.
The National Consumer Law Center also recommends borrowers understand how much a broker is making from the lender, as well as from any fees a borrower might be paying. And the Center suggests borrowers get this information upfront and in writing.

Avoid a broker who appears to be double-dipping or getting a premium from the lender, as well as borrower/client fees.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires lenders to give borrowers information on all closing costs and escrow account practices. Any business relationships between the lender and closing service providers or other parties to the transaction must also be disclosed.

Consumers are reminded that many fees are negotiable. For more information on home buying and mortgages, visit Fannie Mae's website or call 202-752-7000.

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5 Ways to Green Clean Your Home

July 1, 2014 2:15 am

(BPT) - It's not necessary to use harsh chemicals and toxins to achieve a cleaner, fresh-smelling home. Homemade cleaning products and earth-friendly tactics can help you clean green. Be kind to Mother Nature with these ideas:

1. Begin by decluttering, which requires no chemicals at all.
As you're disposing of items you no longer need or want, be mindful of ways to keep them out of the waste stream. Donating gently used but no-longer-needed items such as clothing, furniture and books is a great way to reduce waste while cutting clutter.

2. Stock up on natural cleaning supplies.
Natural supplies such as as lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils, baking and washing soda, Borax, white distilled vinegar, spray and squeeze bottles, natural bristle scrubbing brushes, old newspaper, cotton dusting cloths and hemp or jute fiber scrubbing cloths.

3. Clean windows and floors to instantly brighten your house inside and out.
A simple solution of white vinegar and water (about two tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water) makes an effective, low-cost and green window cleaner. Spritz on windows using a spray bottle and use newspaper instead of paper towels for a streak-free clean. Don't like the smell of vinegar? Lemon juice works just as well.

Pull out the white vinegar again to mix up a great floor cleaner that works well on surfaces from hardwood to vinyl to tile. You'll need to add three or four cups of vinegar to about a gallon of hot water.

4. Prepare a multi-purpose cleaner to freshen surfaces throughout your home.

Mix two tablespoons of unscented liquid soap with four drops of lemon essential oil and two drops of tea tree essential oil. Pour the mixture into a gallon of warm water. Use this multi-purpose solution with a sponge mop or rag to remove dirt from floors and hard surfaces such as countertops and appliances.

5. Make your own air freshener.
Instead of chemical air fresheners that can irritate allergy sufferers, make your own room fresheners using cotton balls soaked in essential oil. Store in decorative ceramic dishes out of reach of children and pets.

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Easy Ways for Families to Save

July 1, 2014 2:15 am

(Family Features) The average family is always looking for ways to save a little bit of cash. While some efforts to save money may seem small and insignificant, it’s beneficial to look at the big picture. By saving here and there where you can, the amount can really start to add up. Here are several ideas for families who wish to be wiser with their dollars.

Buy used
From clothing to cars, you can typically find a gently used version of something you need at a much better price. Look for specialty stores who sell used video games for the little ones. Or, if you’re in the market for furniture or unique gifts, the local antique dealer or flea market is a great place to check out.

Cut back on entertainment
Do you have a cable package with all the bells and whistles? Is your entire family on a first-name basis at the local movie theater? Consider reducing your entertainment expenses and opt instead for less expensive, family-friendly activities, such as camping trips, hiking adventures or visiting a free art gallery.

Reap the rewards
From grocery store chains that offer gasoline discounts to clothing retailers who offer special member incentives, rewards programs provide truly great perks for families trying to save some dough. Even popular search engines are joining in on the fun of rewarding members for their loyalty.

Get rid of unused items
Encourage every family member to clean out their drawers, closets and spaces to get rid of things they no longer use. Start a yard sale or take the items to a consignment shop to earn extra cash. You can also donate the items to a local charity for a tax deduction.

Give homemade gifts
Family life comes with its many gift-giving opportunities — from birthdays to holidays to special life milestones. Because these occasions happen often, all of the purchases can add up. Put your creative juices to work and visit your local craft or hobby store for homemade gifts your family and friends will treasure.

Be smart with utilities
Encouraging your family members to adopt small, money-saving practices can save you big on monthly expenses. Simply turning off lights when they aren’t in use, reducing shower times and using a clothesline are just a few ways to reduce overall household consumption. These activities also offer an important lesson to children about conservation and sustainable practices.

Source: Bing

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