RE/MAX 440
Carol L Hirst
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
 Phone: 610-405-3069
Office Phone: 215-643-3200
Fax: 267-354-6238 
CLHirst@comcast.net
Carol L Hirst

My Blog

Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to Know When It’s Time to Sell

November 28, 2017 1:42 am

Part of being a homeowner is dealing with the intermittent thought, “Hmm, maybe I should put my house on the market...”

Obviously, deciding to sell your home is no small decision. In fact, it’s right up there with deciding to buy a home in the first place. Here are four indicators that can help you decide whether now actually may be a good time to list your home:

You’re out of space. While it might be nice to have more room for your shoes, does that warrant a new home? On the other hand, is there a baby on the way? An in-law moving in? If your household is getting ready to grow, it may be time to move on to a house that will accommodate your expanding needs.

You’re in a hot market. If “sold” signs are popping up frequently in your neighborhood and prices are rising quickly, it might be worth talking to your real estate agent. If now is the time you can potentially make a big return on your investment, you might want to consider making a move.

You’re sick of yard work. If raking leaves and restaining the deck are no longer considered fun projects, you may be at a stage where you’re looking to scale down to a more streamlined, less work-intensive living situation.

Your life has changed. If you’ve had a major life event—marriage, divorce, new job, retirement—it may necessitate a new home and/or a new location that makes more sense for your new life. Consider whether your current home is still the right fit.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Burn Bright With These Candle Safety Tips

November 28, 2017 1:42 am

(Family Features) --Candles are one of the most common sources of home interior fires. While they can be beautiful and atmospheric, they can also be dangerous, especially in busy homes with lots going on.

Never leave lit candles unattended, and take these additional precautions to have a safe and fun season:

-When candles are lit, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over.
-Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
-Be conscious of nearby surroundings. Never place a candle near drapery, decorations or other flammable items that may easily catch fire. Also avoid drafty areas or fans, which can accelerate flames or accidentally blow a flammable item onto a candle.
-Know that the safest way to extinguish a candle is with a snuffer.
-Consider using wickless or flameless candles. There are numerous options that cast a warm glow so you can enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How-To Have a Safer Office Holiday Party

November 28, 2017 1:42 am

If you're planning an office holiday party for your crew, you likely have a laundry list of items to tackle, and safety shouldn't be at the bottom of that list. To help, XpertHR offers nine ways an employer can minimize the risk of liability when it comes to holiday parties:

Enforce Discrimination, Harassment and Employee Conduct Policies. Workplace policies regarding discrimination, harassment, employee dating, employee conduct and its dress code remain in effect even during the holiday party, and employees as well as supervisors will be liable for violations.

Have Supervisors Set a Good Example. Supervisors should lead the way and set a good example for the rest of the employees by enforcing and complying with the employer's policies regarding discrimination and harassment, as well as the employer's code of conduct.

Exercise Caution if Serving Alcohol. If an employer decides to serve or allow alcohol, it should designate a management employee to monitor alcohol intake and make sure employees do not become too intoxicated or incoherent.

Keep the Focus Off Religion. In planning for a holiday party, it’s important for an employer to avoid overly religious symbols and music.

Do Not Make Attendance Mandatory. Some employees may not want to attend the holiday party, and if attendance is mandatory, it may be considered working time, which may entitle hourly employees to overtime.

Carefully Plan the Menu and Entertainment. Make sure to take the individual needs and concerns of diverse employees into account.

Be Inclusive of All Employees. Invite employees working in all offices or job sites, in addition to those who telecommute or work remotely.

Consider Whether to Invite Spouses or Significant Others. Remember to be inclusive of all employees, and respect their personal relationships.

Respond to Complaints in a Timely Fashion. Once on notice that an employee is complaining of discrimination, harassment or inappropriate conduct, the employer and HR have a legal duty to follow up and document the complaint and begin an investigation if warranted.

Source:  XpertHR

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Mindful Driving Tips

November 23, 2017 1:42 am

Distracted driving rarely ends well. But with so much going on in your life (and your backseat), staying focused while on the road can be difficult. World champion drag racer Elaine Larsen of Larsen Motorsports knows all about the importance of focus while on the road.

"It's all about common-sense driving techniques, awareness and proper maintenance," Larsen says. Below are her top mindful driving tips.

Minimize distractions. For Elaine in her jet dragster, that means no talking into her headset; for the rest of us, that means no texting and driving and being mindful of other distractions like a blaring radio or friends or pets who have come along for the ride.

Focus on where you’re going. Whether that means checking traffic conditions before you leave, monitoring road closures or construction, or even scouting your route in advance, familiarity with what's outside your windshield contributes to safe, more focused driving.

Keep your windshield clean and clear, and keep an eye on what's happening down the street. That helps reaction time if something unexpected happens.

Keep the inside clutter-free. Ever tried to put the brakes on with an empty soda cup stuck beneath the pedal? Be sure to have your insurance and registration paperwork within easy reach, as well.

Before leaving, conduct a visual inspection. Tires properly inflated? Any loose parts hanging down? Headlight and taillight assemblies intact? You may also want to consider checking the terminals on your battery for corrosion.

Source:  Florida Institute of Technology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Stop Sitting so Much

November 23, 2017 1:42 am

Did you know that even if you run three miles every morning, it won’t offset the potential damage done by spending the next eight hours sitting at your desk? Some even say that sitting is the new smoking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, too much sitting poses a wide range of health risks, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Prolonged sitting also takes its toll on your emotional health, increasing anxiety and stress during the course of the day.

But what are you to do if you have one of the myriad of jobs that revolve around a desk—compounded by more sitting behind the wheel and an hour or two in front of the TV at night? Here are some simple—yet hugely important—ideas to get you up and moving around throughout the day:

Have a few calls to make? Stand up while you make them. Better yet, if you’re on your cellphone, do a little pacing while you talk.

Do more in-person communication. Instead of shooting off another email or text, take a stroll over to your colleague’s desk to deliver your message in-person.

Have walking meetings. Ditch the conference room and take a stroll to the nearest Starbucks for your next meeting. Or take a few laps around the nearest track.

Get a standing desk. There are a lot of affordable options in this arena, including simple attachments that allow you to raise your desktop when you’d like. Or, if you can afford a splurge, opt for a treadmill desk.

Never work through lunch. Even if it’s just a 20-minute break, get out and move around at lunch time. Run an errand or take a few laps around the parking lot. Inclement weather? Go browse the shelves at your local library, or at the very least, eat standing up in the break room.

Set your phone alarm to remind you to get up and move at least once every hour, even if it’s just standing and stretching.

Any kind of casual movement that gets you upright will help the effort. Your mind and body will thank you.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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For Parents and Grandparents: Fall-Proofing Your Home This Holiday Season

November 23, 2017 1:42 am

Whether you're a new parent or grandparent, raising a young child is full of fun, excitement, and sometimes, safety scares. If you're expecting a crowd this holiday season that includes a little one, or if it's your first holiday with your own tot, below are a few tips from AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) to keep safety scares and falls minimal.

Reduce clutter. It's easy to accumulate clutter, such as boxes of décor and stacks of gifts from holiday shopping. Take the time to declutter your home, especially the hallways and stairs.

Designate a play area. Children may receive lots of new toys for the holidays and scatter them around the house. It's important to contain those toys in a dedicated play area and clean up after playtime to avoid tripping.

Keep walkways clear. Keep the path between your front door, driveway and mailbox well-lit and clear of debris.

Install nightlights. Keep the halls/walkways in your home well-lit and consider a nightlight in the bathroom. A clear path is especially helpful for family members or guests who are trying to get to the restroom in the middle of the night.

Secure all loose area rugs. Place double-sided carpet tape or slip-resistant backing on all loose rugs around your home. Don’t forget bathroom rugs.

Rearrange furniture. Ensure no furniture is blocking pathways between rooms.

Consider stair gates. If young kids will be visiting your home for the holidays, or you have children who live in your home, consider installing childproof gates at the top and bottom of your stairs to prevent children from accessing them without adult supervision.

If a fall happens, do not panic. Take several deep breaths, assess the situation and determine if you’re hurt. If you’re badly injured, do not try to get up. Instead, call for help from a family member or neighbor. If you’re alone when a fall happens, slowly crawl to the telephone and call 911 or a relative.

Source: AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Stretching a Small Living Room

November 22, 2017 1:42 am

Some people see a small living room as a cozy, intimate space. Others say they simply feel cramped. For those who fall into the latter category, professional decorators offer the following seven tips for making any living area look more spacious:

Clear out the clutter. Nothing makes a room look cramped like having too much stuff in it. Move magazines, collections and small décor items onto shelves, into drawers, or behind table skirts.

Open the pathway. When furniture blocks the view into a room, the whole room looks smaller. Move the sofa out of the middle of the room and choose low profile furniture, like short sofas, low tables and armless chairs. Remember that less is more. Get rid of any pieces you don’t need, and place taller pieces against the wall rather than out in open space.

Choose lighter hues. Warm, dark colors create a feeling of intimacy, while light, cool colors make any room seem more open and airy. For maximum effect, choose light shades of blue or green—or a combination of the two.

Let the light in. Any room will look more spacious if it’s well-lighted, either naturally or with a bit of help. Get rid of draperies and add more lamps, or install track lighting or recessed lights.

Try see-through pieces. By using materials you can see through, anything beyond them seems further away. Glass or lucite tops for dining or coffee tables will open up the view and make the room look bigger.

Use reflective surfaces. A mirrored wall will make any room look larger. If that seems to be too much, try a large framed mirror on one wall to help create an illusion of space and light.

Keep it monochrome. Select solid color upholstery instead of bold plaids or patterns. Use texture for interest and stick to neutral tones.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Tax-Deductible Charitable Donations

November 22, 2017 1:42 am

At the end of the year, thousands of Americans rush to make charitable donations to offset their taxes or help out their favorite causes. According to Senior CFP Board Ambassador Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, too often, Americans  may not recognize two keys to smart giving: careful vetting of charities, and tax planning that helps make the most of a gift.

"Considering how many people make charitable gifts at year-end, it's amazing how little thought and research can go into the process," Schlesinger says. "There are fake charities and scam artists who take advantage of generosity."

To combat this, Schlesinger offers the following checklist for Americans who are preparing to make end-of-year donations.

Step 1: Confirm the charity is legitimate by searching the IRS tool, Exempt Organizations Select Check. Cross-reference by asking the organization for its employee identification number, and then searching the same database for it.

Step 2: Research the charity's financial health. The Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, GuideStar and Charity Navigator offer guidance on how charities spend money. Many Americans want to understand what portion of a donation goes to overhead, versus the cause itself.

Step 3: Determine how to donate. Options include donations of goods, checks, wire transfers and credit card payments. Americans can also donate appreciated securities and write off the current value of a stock, or make donations directly from their IRAs, though some rules apply.

Step 4: Keep good records. For any donation valued at $250 or more, the IRS requires a bank record, payroll deduction or written communication identifying the organization, the date and amount of the contribution and a description of the property.

To be deducted from 2017, donations must be given or postmarked by midnight on December 31.

Source: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Heat and Air Maintenance for the Holidays

November 22, 2017 1:42 am

With the holiday season right around the corner, your home will likely see more foot traffic. From friends stopping by with gifts, to parties and that yearly visit from the in-laws, your plumbing, heating and air units may be working overdrive.

"Attention to a few items in the home can help prepare you for visiting family and friends during the holidays," says Mike Nicholson, owner of Nicholson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. "Now is the time to take action on winterizing certain things in and around the home. It will give you peace of mind as the weather turns colder and holiday guests visit your home."

Nicholson offers these five tips to make sure the home is ready for colder weather and holiday visitors:

Check the plumbing: With the influx of visitors, toilets and fixtures will get a lot of use. Now is the best time to take care of any maintenance and repairs. If drains aren't flowing well and freely, plunge water into the drain first before you try to remove the trap in an attempt to clear it. Be mindful that some do-it-yourself, chemical drain cleaners can be harmful to your pipes. Instead, consider trying a natural remedy: pour equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar to clean out a partial clog.

Tune up the heating: Winter often brings extremely cold temperatures, so you want to be sure your heating unit is working at peak efficiency. To make sure everyone is warm during the cold weather, try changing out your filters to give your system the best chance of success. You may also need a comprehensive heating system check. A system tune-up and filter replacement can go a long way toward preventing problems from putting a chill on your holiday plans.

Clean air ducts: To provide fresh, allergen-free air to your holiday houseguests, you will want to perform a thorough duct cleaning. When your ducts are filthy, your filters clog up faster and force your system to work harder to distribute air. This decreased efficiency leads to higher energy bills and excessive wear and tear on your system. Removing the registers and vacuuming the outlet is a good start, but you may want to opt for a whole-house duct cleaning to really do the job.

Seal drafty windows and doors: Applying caulk or weather stripping where cold air creeps in will help with energy savings. If cold air creeps in, that too will put a strain on the heating system's ability to keep your house warm and cozy for the holidays.

Winterize the exterior: To prevent pipes from bursting, ensure outdoor spigots are shut off as freezing weather approaches. Have some rock salt on hand to de-ice sidewalks to make sure your holiday visitors are safe.

Source: Nicholson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fraud Prevention Tips from a Pro

November 20, 2017 1:39 am

Frank Abagnale’s life as a teenage fraudster was brought to life in the Steven Spielberg film, “Catch Me if You Can,” based on the book Abagnale wrote about his years as a youthful con artist. After being caught, incarcerated and recruited by the FBI, however, Abagnale went on to serve the U.S. by developing sophisticated methods for defeating cyber crime for government entities, banks and businesses. Having turned down three presidential pardons, his work continues tirelessly to this day.

Here are a few of Abagnale’s tips for preventing fraud and cybercrime in our everyday lives:

Shred wisely. Not all shredders are created equal. Documents shredded by ribbon-cut shredders can be reassembled fairly easily, and cross-cut shredders are not foolproof either. The only shredder that permanently destroys a document is a micro-cut shredder.

Put away your debit card. Abagnale says the only way to really protect your money is by using a credit card - that way, if the card is stolen and used for fraudulent charges, you are legally protected by the credit card company. If your debit card information is compromised, however, so are the funds in your bank account for an indefinite period of time. One obvious caveat: use your credit card, but pay the balance in full each month. The idea only works if you don’t accrue interest and debt.

Use social media wisely. For Facebook in particular, do not use a profile picture that depicts a clear headshot photo. This can easily be captured by identity thieves. Instead, use a more abstract photo of yourself or show yourself in a group with others. Abagnale also recommends not including your birthdate and place of birth in your Facebook profile - more clues that make it easier for your identity to be stolen.

Avoid writing checks. Mailing checks to pay bills means the face of your check passes through many hands - exposing your key personal and checking account information to many people. Pay electronically instead, advises Abagnale.

Remember, anyone can fall victim to identity theft and fraud, so no precautions are too extreme!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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