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

5 Principles of Lawn Care

June 17, 2016 12:21 am

Forget the HD TV.

Millennial homeowners would sooner have an enviable lawn than a top-of-the-line television—a preference in surprising contrast to that of older homeowners seasoned in lawn care.

Millennials’ affinity for their lawns—a finding from recently released research by John Deere—comes despite a lack of maintenance know-how.

Millennial homeowners who wish to make their lawn the best on the block should follow basic lawn care principles, says Mark Schmidt, principal scientist for John Deere.

“By learning best practices and using properly maintained equipment, homeowners will likely see an improvement in the overall appearance of their lawns,” Schmidt says.

These principles are:

1. Water – Water your lawn before the sun reaches midday, preferably before 10 a.m. Water for a long time once, instead of watering for a short amount of time more often. Avoid mowing the lawn if it is wet.

2. Food – Fertilize cool season turf in early spring and fall. Fertilize warm season turf in spring and summer.

3. Height – Mow the lawn no more than one-third of the grass blade down—any more can cause damage and an unsightly lawn.

4. Time – As with watering, mow your lawn around peak sun periods—in the morning or late afternoon is best. This minimizes stress to the lawn.

5. Maintenance – Tune-up your mower once each year according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This may include sharpening the blade, inflating the tires and replacing the spark plug.

Following these principles to the letter will keep your lawn lush and thriving for years to come. Who says you need a television?

Source: John Deere

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Relocating? 3 FAQs on Safety, Schools

June 17, 2016 12:21 am

Relocating to a new city can be challenging, especially if you’re thoroughly unfamiliar with the area. Which neighborhood is right for me? How is the school system? What should I know as a resident?

ApartmentList.com answers these questions and more in their recently rolled out relocation educational series:

1. How can I qualify for an apartment?
If you’ll be renting in your new city, seek out rents appropriate for your salary in order to qualify. Generally, according to ApartmentList.com, this means you should earn at least two-and-a-half to three times the total amount of rent for the duration you plan to live in the unit.

If you’re looking at a monthly rent of $1,500, for example, and you plan to rent for 12 months, you need to provide proof that you’ll be earning (or have already saved) at least $45,000. Proof of this can be in the form of past pay stubs or an offer letter (with your salary included) from your new employer.

2. How do I ensure the neighborhood is safe?
Safety, ultimately, is subjective. ApartmentList.com advises relocators to contact the local police station, research statistics on websites such as CrimeReports.com, or tour the neighborhood for a first-hand perspective.

3. How can I find out more about schools?
Contact the local school district office, or the principal or a PTA member of a school you may be interested in, ApartmentList.com recommends. Consulting with someone who has experience with the school can be telling.

For more answers to your relocation questions, contact a real estate professional or visit ApartmentList.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Want to Retire at 55? 3 Tips

June 16, 2016 2:21 am

Exiting the workforce early is a common dream—some might say fantasy—for many of today’s employees. It can be done, as MSN Money recently reported, so long as you plan ahead.

To retire at age 55, do:

Live Below Your Means – It’s tempting to upgrade from your starter home or buy a new car every few years, but, as The Millionaire Next Door author Thomas J. Stanley points out, retiring early happens for most people only after years of frugality. In general, it’s best to save 25 times your annual salary by retirement.

Stay Investment-Aggressive – Experts say it’s a misconception that conservative asset allocation is the only way to go. All but the very wealthy will need a healthy allocation to stocks for growth. Joe Heider, president of Cirrus Wealth Management in Cleveland, recommends that people within a few years of retirement scale back their portfolios to 60 percent stocks, and hold steady at that allocation into their retirement years.

Budget for Healthcare – Since you won’t be eligible for Medicare until age 65, you will need to secure health insurance. If you won’t have retirement health benefits, one option is to buy an individual or family plan from your state’s marketplace. Retiring couples can expect estimated healthcare costs of $17,000 per year until Medicare eligibility, according to a recent Fidelity study.

These strategies, coupled with a trip (or two) to a financial advisor, can pave the path to an early—still financially secure—retirement.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Highest-Ranking Home Improvement Stores in the Nation

June 16, 2016 2:21 am

Looking to stock up on home improvement supplies?

Look no further than Ace Hardware, which scored highest in customer satisfaction among home improvement retailers in J.D. Power’s widely recognized annual study. Ace has now landed the coveted top spot 10 years in row, ranking positively in areas such as staff “availability” and “knowledge.” Midwest retailer Menards was named second in the study, followed by Lowe’s in third.

Other high-ranking retailers include:

• The Home Depot (No. 4)
• True Value (No. 5)
• Sears (No. 6)

“The retailer's staff is most critical to differentiating the experience provided to customers, especially when it comes to the timeliness of greeting customers, answering their questions or providing advice,” said Greg Truex, senior director of the at-home practice at J.D. Power, in a statement about the study.

Customers are happiest when staff members understand the questions they ask and provide product or purchase advice, according to study findings.

More homeowners are taking on improvements to their houses this year, partly in response to a rosier economic outlook. The Home Improvement Research Institute estimates home improvement spending will jump to $332 billion in 2016.

Source: J.D. Power

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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From Obstacle to Opportunity: 10 Markets for First-Time Homebuyers

June 16, 2016 2:21 am

First-time homebuyers today face many obstacles on the path to homeownership—but in some markets, there are less obstacles and more opportunities.

According to recently released research by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), some metropolitan areas have surpassed others in terms of feasibility for first-timers, due to increased housing affordability and promising employment growth. These areas, listed alphabetically, are:

Austin, Texas
Charleston, S.C.
Denver, Colo.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Ogden, Utah
Portland, Ore.
Raleigh, N.C.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Seattle, Wash.
Washington, D.C.

“Even with potentially higher incomes, prospective millennial homebuyers residing in some of the most expensive cities in the country face the onerous task of paying steep rents while trying to save for an adequate down payment,” explains Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “However, for those currently living in or looking to move to a more affordable part of the country, there are metro areas right now with solid job growth and that offer a smoother path to homeownership.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Shoppers: June Deals for Dads, Homeowners

June 15, 2016 2:21 am

For shoppers on the hunt for a bargain this summer, June sales offer discounts on everything from dad-approved duds to home improvement supplies.

“Shopping in June is prime for homeowners,” says Brent Shelton, online shopping expert with FatWallet (FatWallet.com). “Thanks to June's big Father's Day sales, smart savings on a variety of items for dads, and most anyone, help to ease spending woes for needs and wants this summer.”

FatWallet recently compiled a list of the top on-sale items this month. They are:

4K TVs – Expect to see price drops on 4K televisions this month, especially during Father's Day sales, from retailers like Best Buy, Dell and eBay. Watch, too, for “halfway to Black Friday” sales, which will price 4K TVs between $500 and $800.

Home Improvement Supplies – This month, Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears and other home improvement retailers will offer discounts on building materials, hardware, paints and stains, and more.

Menswear – Seasonal apparel for men—mostly geared toward outdoor activities—will be on sale for at least part of the month at retailers like Backcountry, REI and Patagonia.

Smart Technology – This month, smart gadgets for the home and outdoors will be offered at a steal compared to the rest of the year. Look to score on Bluetooth-enabled headphones and speakers and smart home devices.

Tools – Dads and handypeople alike can expect savings on cordless and power tools and storage sets this month. Look for 50 percent-plus discounts on products by Black & Decker, Craftsman and Milwaukee.

For more scoop on summer sales, visit FatWallet.com.
 
Source: FatWallet

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Safety Tips for Garages and Gates

June 15, 2016 2:21 am

Gates and garage doors are two of several access points intruders may use to gain entry into a home. With one out of every 15 garage doors lacking up-to-date security features, it’s worth assessing the safety of your own garage, gates or openers.

“At LiftMaster, safety is our top priority,” says John Villanueva, vice president of marketing at LiftMaster. “To help those at home ensure their operators are working as they should, we developed a simple 3-Step Safety Check that can be done in a matter of minutes and should be conducted throughout the year when checking other home safety devices, like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.”

The 3-Step Safety Check:

1. Ensure “photo eyes,” or black sensors, are installed on the sides of the garage door, no higher than 6 inches from the ground.

2. Block a photo eye with an object taller than 6 inches. Try to close the garage with the opener—the door should remain open.

3. Place an object in the path of the door. Try to close the garage with the opener—the door should reverse once it touches the object.

If the garage door opener fails, consult with a professional as soon as possible. He or she will solve the problem with recommendations and/or service.

A professional should also be called whenever the garage doors or gates require maintenance, or if you plan to install new doors or gates.

For more on garage door and gate safety, visit www.LiftMaster.com/For-Homes/Garage-Safety.
 
Source: LiftMaster

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Can Smart Appliances Save Me Time?

June 15, 2016 2:21 am

Do you have enough hours in the day? We bet most of you wish you had more!

While connected appliances can’t make a day longer, they can help recapture more of your time. In fact, one recent study showed connected appliances save a typical household 100 hours a year.

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), these time savings can be sourced from several areas. If you’ll be away from home for a while, for example, connectivity ensures your appliances stay in working order while you’re gone. Should an appliance need repair, connectivity revolutionizes the process—manufacturers are already developing features in which repair technicians remotely identify problems and, in some cases, remotely repair them.

Day-to-day, a connected dishwasher, for instance, could “learn” when you typically wash dishes and begin washing them automatically. Clothes washers, in another instance, can give you guidance when it comes to cleaning a certain type of garment, saving you time spent researching.

What’s more, connected appliances have the potential—with the Smart Grid—to drive energy cost savings and improve the environment, automatically reducing energy use based on users' preferences, or allowing users to access renewable energy when available.

Want to learn more? Download AHAM’s white paper, Home Appliance Connectivity: Limitless Potential (www.aham.org/industry/ht/d/Join/pid/84076), for an introduction to the possibilities connected home appliances hold, as well as what manufacturers are doing to keep them safe and secure.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Fuel Your Day the Healthy Way

June 14, 2016 2:21 am

(Family Features)—When it comes to bettering your health, everyday lifestyle changes can be powerful. Take a cue from Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin and cohorts Zack Test and Carlin Isles, who rely on basic nutrition and fitness principles to fuel their days the healthy way:

Eat Breakfast – Start your day right with a nutritious meal, such as a hard-boiled egg and steel-cut oatmeal topped with fruit and almonds. Prepare your breakfast the night before to eliminate excuses come morning.

Drink Water – Drinking more water daily is one of the best ways to stay fit. Aim for at least two cups of water two hours before physical activity, one or two cups 15 minutes before exercise, and a half-cup or one cup every 15 minutes during.

Snack – Don’t forgo nutrition when hunger pangs hit. Be prepared to fuel up while on-the-go (or after a workout) with portable, nutrient-rich snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate or herbal tea.

Most importantly, take the time to recover after workouts. Allowing your body time to heal will not only stave off injury, but also build energy for your next bout of physical activity.
 
Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Staying Put in Retirement? Survey Explores Income Options

June 14, 2016 2:21 am

Is relocating out of the question for soon-to-be retirees?

The majority of those closing in on retirement prefer to live out their golden years in their current home, according to a recently released survey by The American College of Financial Services. Eighty-three percent of respondents to the survey—The Home Equity and Retirement Income Planning Survey—do not want to relocate, and nearly all respondents have no desire to rent.

“One very interesting notion was that the desire to age in place increases significantly as you get older,” says survey author Jamie Hopkins, professor of Retirement Income Planning and co-director of The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income Planning. “We saw more uncertainty between the ages of 55 and 62. But once we started getting past 62 and you start moving into retirement, we saw that these individuals really don't expect or want to leave their homes.”

Forty-four percent of respondents to the survey have considered tapping into their existing home’s equity in retirement, but just one-quarter (25 percent) are comfortable with using it as income.

Notably, just 30 percent of survey respondents demonstrated a basic understanding of reverse mortgages.

“This is really going to open a lot of eyes about just how little people moving into retirement with some home equity know about reverse mortgages,” Hopkins says of the findings.

As evidenced by the survey, reverse mortgages are worth consideration if only to educate the homeowner.

“Hopefully that's the biggest takeaway from this survey," Hopkins added. “Advisors and consumers need to start thinking about home equity, including reverse mortgages, as part of the retirement income planning process.”

Source: The American College

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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