RE/MAX 440
Margaret Schickling

Margaret Schickling
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-584-1160
Office:  610-584-1160
Cell:  610-802-0891
Fax:  267-354-6252

My Blog

Five Questions to Ask before Buying a Tablet

August 8, 2014 1:54 am

Whether you need a tablet for business or pleasure, buying one requires some leg work. With so many varieties available, it’s important to invest in a model that meets your needs and budget. Before buying a tablet, prepare by asking yourself these five questions.

What’s my budget?
First, decide whether to stick to a budget or splurge on a higher-end version. Some tablets are more expensive because they come loaded with features you may not need, or add-ons like a stylus or office software. Think about how you’ll purpose your tablet before spending too much on a product you won’t use.

Which operating system is right for me?
There are three operating systems available on tablets: Apple’s iOS, Android or Windows. If you already have a desktop or laptop with one system, it may be a no-brainer to keep things consistent. By using the same system across multiple devices, you can use all of the same apps and sync your documents and photos seamlessly.

What size do I need?

Many tablets come with pint-sized alternatives, such as the iPad and iPad Air or iPad Mini. Most tablet users opt for 7- to 9-inch screens, but it’s important to choose the correct size for your viewing pleasure. If you plan to use the tablet to take photos, for example, you might buy one with a smaller screen. On the other hand, if you’re using it to enjoy books or magazines, you may want to get one that’s large enough for reading.

How will I connect to the Internet?
Depending on your needs, you can purchase a tablet that is Wi-Fi only or one that is 4G-enabled. 4G capabilities cost more, but might be an option for those who need Internet access on the go. With a Wi-Fi version, you won’t have to pay a 4G bill every month.

Will I need a keyboard?

If you plan to use your tablet to type, you may want one that connects easily to a keyboard stand. Some tablets are actually detachable parts of a laptop whole, while others have keyboards as an added expense. Whichever you choose, take time to factor that, as well as protective cases and accessories, into your budget.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Know Your Rights: Mortgage Servicing Deadlines

August 8, 2014 1:54 am

The first step on the path to homeownership is deciding which mortgage company to work with. With so many lenders and loan options, it’s important to research each contender thoroughly before borrowing.

Consider selecting a lender that abides by these deadlines:

1. The lender credits on time. The lender must credit the payment the day it is received. In addition, make sure you are set up with periodic billing statements that indicate not only the payment due, but the balance on your loan and the escrow balance.

2. The lender contacts you on time. If you default on your mortgage, the lender is required to contact you no more than 36 days after the missed payment. They must also provide you with loss mitigation options in writing by the 45th day of delinquency.

3. The lender evaluates on time. Your modification application must be reviewed within 30 days. If the application is incomplete, the lender must inform and advise as to the best course of action.

4. The lender processes on time. If your home faces foreclosure, the lender cannot begin or complete that process during a loss evaluation (unless you’ve submitted an application 37 days prior to the scheduled foreclosure.)

5. The lender informs on time. If your lender thinks you did not keep your homeowners insurance, the lender must send you two notices before charging for force-placed insurance. If you send evidence to the contrary, your lender must cancel the insurance within 15 days of receiving it.

Source: Bankrate

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Relocating for Work? Small Communities Offer Big Opportunities

August 7, 2014 1:18 am

Folks looking to relocate to hot job markets may think they have to aim for major metropolitan areas with their higher than average housing markets. But the latest survey I reviewed from the U.S. Census bureau may be surprising.

It was oil- and gas-rich areas in and near the Great Plains that boasted many of the fastest-growing communities in the U.S. last year, with areas along and near the Gulf Coast also featuring several high-growth communities. In fact, all of the 10 fastest-growing micro areas between 2012 and 2013 were west of the Mississippi River.

The Census Bureau survey shows that of the nation's 10 fastest-growing metropolitan markets during the year ending July 1, 2013, six were within or near the Great Plains, including Austin-Round Rock, Odessa, and Midland, Texas; Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota; and Casper, Wyoming.

The nation's other fastest-growing metro areas between 2012 and 2013 were The Villages, Florida, whose population rose by 5.2 percent in that brief period. The Gulf Coast metro areas of Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala., and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., also made the top 10 list.

U.S. metro areas with populations of 1 million or more in 2012 grew 1.0 percent, compared with 0.5 percent for those with populations of less than 250,000. While the bureau survey says the 1,335 counties not inside either a metro area or micro area had a collective population decline of 35,674 between 2012 and 2013, with more than six in 10 of these counties losing population.

The nation's metro areas contained 269.9 million people in 2013, up about 2.3 million from 2012.

New York continued to be the most populous metro area, with 19.9 million residents on July 1, 2013, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago. While Houston had the largest numeric increase between 2012 and 2013, gaining about 138,000 people.

Conversely, the Census Bureau survey says its "Micropolitan Top 10" are Williston, N.D., (first in growth at 10.7 percent), followed by Dickinson, N.D.; Andrews, Texas; Minot, N.D.; and two areas in western Oklahoma (Weatherford and Woodward) along with Hobbs, New Mexico.

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8 Ways to Update Your Living Room without Spending a Lot of Cash

August 7, 2014 1:18 am

If you’re tired of looking at the same old living space, but can’t afford new furniture, California room designer Erin Pedersen suggests eight ways to give your living room new life without spending a lot of money:

Rearrange it
– Simply repositioning the furniture can make a huge difference. Cut out paper pieces to scale and waltz them around a sheet of paper cut to match your room until you find a new arrangement that works.

Paint it – A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to change the look of a room, especially if you contrast your chosen wall color against white baseboards and woodwork.

Add a rug – Whether your floors are wood or carpeted, an inexpensive area rug can liven up a space with little cost or effort.

Swap out artwork and accessories
– Changing out a few of the knick knacks in the room – and/or the prints hanging on the walls – can breathe new life into the space. Accessories are among the least expensive pieces in a room, so start over when you tire of them.

Make it seasonal
– Speaking of accessories, set a bowl of seashells on the mantelpiece in summer, and accessorize with beach or pastel pieces. In winter, switch to baskets of pine cones and candles in autumn’s deeper hues..

Throw in the pillows – Adding splashes of color is another great way to liven up a room. Comb the home store for pillow colors you want to live with.

Light it up
– If you have an overhead fixture, think about replacing it with something more contemporary. If you’re happy with the fixture, help bounce light around the room with a couple of new table lamps or wall sconces.

Paper it
– Wallpaper, out of fashion over the past few years, is now making something of a comeback. Try papering one wall for accent. Try one of the new repositional papers you can peel off and toss if you tire of it.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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3 Tips for Choosing an Assisted-Living Home for Your Parent

August 7, 2014 1:18 am

Seventy percent of people age 65 and older will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to a 2014 study by CareScout, a division of Genworth Financial Services.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their quality of life,” says Peder Johnsen, CEO of Concordis Senior Living, www.concordisseniorliving.com, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities.

“In fact, a person who needs some assistance with day-to-day living will often find he or she is much happier in a good assisted-living community with an atmosphere that reminds them of their former home.”

And it doesn’t have to be outrageously priced, notes Johnsen, a third-generation ALF operator whose family pioneered the contemporary congregate community model.

The median price for a private, one-bed home in an ALF community is $42,000, he says, citing the CareScout report. By contrast, a semi-private nursing home bed costs a median $77,000 a year.

But it’s up to prospective residents and their families to ascertain the quality of the community and whether it’s a good match for the person who will be living there.

“ALFs are not federally regulated and states vary widely on the breadth of oversight they provide, so you can’t necessarily rely on the law,” Johnsen says. “And don’t rely on salespeople either – that’s the biggest mistake people make.”

There are, however, a number of easy ways to see if a home has a truly caring atmosphere and well-trained staff.

Johnsen offers these tips:

•  Ask to see the home’s state licensing survey, an assessment that usually includes inspections, audits, interviews with residents, etc. Every state has an ALF licensing agency and all have some form of survey system for ensuring that certain standards of quality are met, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America.

“Requirements vary from state to state about how often the surveys are conducted and how the public can access the reports, but no matter what state you live in, you should be able to ask the ALF for its most recent report, or obtain it from the licensing agency,” Johnsen says. 

The surveys will tell you if problems were found – or not – and what the ALF did to address them.

•  Visit the ALF during non-business hours. Go before breakfast or after dinner – times when the administrators aren’t around. What’s the atmosphere? How do employees behave with the residents?

“That’s a good time to talk to residents, too,” Johnsen says.

Be a “mystery shopper,” he suggests. Pretend you’re just visiting the community – not scouting it out as a prospective customer.

•  Ascertain how truly “homelike” the community is. In your own home, if you don’t feel like eating breakfast at 7:30 a.m., you don’t have to. You can have breakfast at 10. You can get snacks when you want them.

“Depending on what’s important to your loved one, there are potentially many rules that can affect how ‘at home’ a person feels,” Johnsen says. “Some communities allow residents to have pets, others don’t. Some provide lots of activities. At some, residents can quickly and easily arrange for transportation or a service like hair styling.”

Not every community can offer everything, he notes. That’s why it’s important to look for those features that are especially important to your loved one.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Study Finds Young Adults More Likely to Attend College

August 6, 2014 2:45 am

American young adults ages 18-24 are more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and less likely to smoke than previous generations, according to a report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

The study examined several key themes, including education, civic, social and personal behavior, and health and safety.

According to the report, more young adults are graduating from high school and earning college degrees today than in 2000. In addition, the report found that among Hispanics in this age group, college enrollment during this time increased from 21.7 percent to 37.5 percent, the largest increase among all racial and ethnic groups.

Among other findings:
  • The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 26 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2012. Continuing a trend since the early 1990s, females are enrolling in college in greater percentages than males.
  • Fifty-eight percent of young men and 51 percent of young women lived with their parents in 2013.
  • Like the rest of the population, young adults are less likely to vote in congressional election years than presidential election years. In the 2012 presidential election year, 38 percent of young adults voted, compared with 20 percent in the 2010 congressional election year.
  • In 2012, 20 percent of young men and 15 percent of young women smoked cigarettes, a decline for both groups. However, young White adults are still more than twice as likely to smoke as Hispanic and Blacks this age.
Source: National Institutes of Health

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Navigate Car Rental Insurance Options before Taking a Summer Trip

August 6, 2014 2:45 am

If you’re renting a car this summer, you have more choices than ever. What hasn’t changed is the importance of protecting yourself with the right type and amount of insurance.

Long gone are the days of simply renting a car by the day or week from the closest established rental car company. Now you can rent a car by the hour, from almost any location, or even use a car-sharing service to rent someone else’s personal vehicle. By law, rental companies must provide the state-required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection.

In order to make the best decision regarding your coverage, make these two calls:

Your insurance professional
If you own a car, find out how much coverage you already have. In most cases, whatever insurance and deductibles provided by your auto policy would apply to a rental car, providing you are using the car for recreation, not business. However, if you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.

Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states, diminished value is not covered by insurers.

If you do not own a car and are a frequent renter, ask about a non-owner liability policy. This would provide insurance when you either rent or borrow another person’s car.

Your credit card company

Most credit card companies provide some level of insurance for rental cars – to find out the details of what is covered, call the toll-free number on the back of the credit card you will be using to rent the car and ask them to send you coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal auto insurance policy or the coverage offered by the rental car company.

Insurance benefits differ widely by both the credit card company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. They generally do not provide personal liability coverage. Some credit card companies may provide coverage for towing, but may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees.

Car-sharing services and hourly car rental providers are not standardized when it comes to insurance coverage. Many services will include insurance coverage in the cost of the rental. Others may not. Some may also charge fees for damage to the car. Some may offer supplemental coverage. Read the insurance information on the company’s website and don’t be afraid to call the rental car company or the car-sharing company as well as your insurance professional if you have any questions.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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How to Pick a Paint Color for Each Room in Your Home

August 6, 2014 2:45 am

It is common for homeowners to make cosmetic changes after buying a home. One of the simplest projects that has an immediate effect is a fresh paint job. Many homeowners attempt to visualize the perfect paint color in a given room, but are often left disappointed with the results. To avoid paint color remorse, keep in mind these tips before selecting a shade:

Size up the room – The size and scale of a room are important factors to consider when choosing a color. Typically, small rooms appear even smaller when painted in rich, dark tones. If you’re dead set on a dark color, paint one accent wall instead to keep the space open. Color intensifies in grander spaces, so if you select a dark color for a large room, be sure to choose the lightest shade in the palette.

Create flow – It’s also crucial that the color you choose coordinates with the other rooms throughout your home. Room colors can vary as long as there is a clear flow. Carry one color into the next room to create a sense of harmony.

Select a sheen – Gloss level depends on which look you want to achieve. Matte or flat finishes hide imperfections, but are susceptible to stains. Satin or eggshell finishes work best on smooth surfaces. Semigloss mixtures are shiny, but they are a snap to clean and stand up to everyday wear and tear.

Use sample jars – One of the easiest ways to tell if a color will look beautiful in your home is to test it out for yourself. Experiment with sample jars from your paint supplier – they’re affordable and will save you the hassle of painting again later on.

Cast different lighting
– No matter how the color appears in a can or on the swatch, your home’s lighting will alter it significantly. Fluorescent bulbs work well with cool tones (think greens and blues), whereas incandescent bulbs bring out warm hues and earth tones. Use those sample jars with different types of lighting and at various times of day.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Make Meals Better with Superfoods

August 5, 2014 12:06 am

Feeding your family with nutrient-dense foods can be as simple as making a few better-for-you choices. By definition, superfoods are calorie sparse and packed with beneficial nutrients that add health and flavor to meals. Because the human body cannot create these nourishing elements alone, the addition of these foods is essential for regular function and to defend against certain diseases and conditions.

The next time you visit the grocery store, stock up on food with these super nutrients:
  • Antioxidants: These compounds have been linked with helping memory function, reducing the signs of aging and battling diseases.
  • Calcium: This important mineral is necessary for muscle function and to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.
  • Fiber: An essential part of a healthy diet, fiber aids the body with food digestion. It has also been linked to maintaining a healthy weight, as well as a lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Protein: The human body requires protein to build and maintain skin, muscles and bones.
  • Potassium: A diet lacking this important mineral may increase the risk of high blood pressure, cancer, stroke and infertility.
  • Omega-3s: These essential fatty acids are necessary for many body functions and can also reduce the risk of arthritis.
  • Vitamin C: As an antioxidant, vitamin C can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also a popular remedy for the common cold.

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Tips to Reduce Moving Stress

August 5, 2014 12:06 am

You’ve found the perfect neighborhood and the ideal new house for your family. But before you can settle in and begin making your new surroundings feel like home, you have to cross one more dreaded hurdle: moving day.

"Finding a new home is a wonderful and exciting experience, but moving can be overwhelming -juggling packing, moving essential belongings and transforming your new house into a home," said Wendy Froehlich, vice president of marketing at Homes.com.

To help movers avoid unnecessary stress and reduce property damage, keep in mind these expert tips:

Plan ahead: The key to executing a move that is both efficient and stress-free is to plan your move weeks before the actual day. A moving file and calendar are great ways to keep all of your moving information, such as your lease or mortgage contract, utility hook up, power documents and other important information in one place.

Get organized: Organize boxes for their corresponding room in your new home, sealing them with colored duct tape to color code.

Don't crack under pressure:
Keep your plates in one piece by stacking plastic foam plates in between each one, and protect glasses by putting them inside pairs of clean socks.

Vacuum seal out-of-season clothing: Don't waste time fumbling through out-of-season clothing. Not only will it take up less space and be a breeze to pack, but it can go directly into storage in the new place.

Think of the little things: Keep sandwich bags handy to hold any small items you have to take apart, such as the screws for a mounted flat-screen television or your bed frame, and tape them to the backside. Label the bags accordingly to make unpacking and reassembling furniture a breeze.

Sweet dreams: Check the mattress tag; if a mattress is more than eight years old, it has accumulated dust, dust mites and sweat that can make it practically double in weight. Avoid the hassle of moving it and arrange to get a new one delivered to your new home. If the mattress is still in its prime, use a mattress protector to transport it safely to the new home.

Green thumb: Transport plants delicately by using a Christmas tree bag to keep all of the appendages safe and prevent snapping.

Survival kit:
Make life easier when arriving at the new home by packing an easily accessible overnight bag with clothes and necessary toiletries. Don't forget to include first day essentials, such as a box cutter, paper towels, trash bags and power strips.

Source: Homes.com

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