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Colleen Gular


Colleen Gular
423 North Main Street | Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone: 215-348-7100 | Office Phone: 215-348-7100 | Toll Free: 800-360-7100 | Fax: 267-354-6836
Cell: 267-266-2084 | email: cgular@remax.net

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Squeaky Clean Tips to Simplify Your Laundry Routine

January 31, 2013 2:26 am

(Family Features) If it seems that you can never quite diminish the size of your laundry pile, you’re not alone. Laundry is a part of everyday life and the more people in your household, the bigger the pile and the more often you need to wash. Designate one place in your home to be the laundry zone and sort through these time-saving tips to make your laundry routine faster and easier, leaving you with more time to do the things you love.

De-clutter and reorganize. Clear some space from your shelves to give yourself more room to work in the laundry room. Get rid of old containers, trash and even those stray socks missing their pair. Place a small basket or tray near the washer for collecting small items and loose change found in pockets. This prevents clutter as well as accidents in the wash. Larger baskets labeled delicates, lights and darks help to keep clothes easily sorted and off of the floor.

Essentials at-the-ready. Keep frequently used items easily accessible by placing them on a shelf designed to fit on top of your washing machine. Store smaller items in stackable baskets or bins so they aren’t in the way. Make sure your detergent is placed high enough so that little hands can’t grab it, but within reach for older kids to take over their own laundry chores.

Get rid of hassle and bulk. Save yourself from the trouble of heavy bottles and messy spills. Choose a multi-purpose detergent that comes pre-measured. These single-use, pre-measured packs can remove stains and eliminate tough odors. Just toss one in the washer with your laundry and go.

Sort and go. Give everyone in the family their own small mesh laundry bag for items that tend to get lost and mixed-up such as socks and underwear. Collect the bags and throw them in the washer and dryer together so that everything stays sorted.

Prep for final steps. Save time from ironing by pulling clothes directly from the dryer after the cycle is complete. Keep a stack of hangers nearby to hang clothes immediately for a wrinkle-free wardrobe. Designate an area of nearby countertop or a table to make folding and organizing clothes out of the dryer quicker.

Source: Arm & Hammer

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Bad Neighbors Can Reduce Property Values

January 31, 2013 2:26 am

The Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers, cautioned homeowners and potential homebuyers that bad neighbors can significantly reduce nearby property values.

Bad neighbors can include homeowners with annoying pets, unkempt yards, unpleasant odors, loud music, dangerous trees and limbs, or poorly maintained exteriors. A homeowner or prospective homebuyer should visit a street on several days at various times to learn more about what is happening in the neighborhood. A home’s proximity to a bad neighbor also can impact the rate of potential decline in value.

“I’ve seen many situations where external factors, such as living near a bad neighbor, can lower home values by more than 5 to 10 percent,” says Appraisal Institute resident Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA. “Homeowners should be aware of what is going on in their neighborhood and how others’ bad behaviors could affect their home’s value.”

Appraisers refer to this as external obsolescence, which is depreciation caused by external factors not on the property. According to The Appraisal of Real Estate,13th Edition (Appraisal Institute, 2008), external obsolescence may be caused by economic or locational factors, and may be temporary or permanent, but it is not curable by the owner, landlord or tenant.

The Appraisal Institute urges homeowners to take the following steps when dealing with troublesome neighbors:

1. Speak with other neighbors. Get consensus when identifying issues, and approach the bad neighbor together.

2. Look up original and updated subdivision restrictions. If talking to the neighbor doesn’t work, see if they’re violating any restrictions. If so, writing to the code office of the municipality and reporting the bad neighbor could spur an investigation into the nuisance. Depending on the offense, a call to the local health department also may be warranted.

3. Hire an attorney. If all else fails, the cost of an attorney likely will be less than the home’s potential loss in value.

“Even though homeowners do have some recourse, it’s important for prospective homebuyers to carefully examine the neighborhood where they’re considering living,” Borges says. “That way they can hopefully prevent any problems in the first place.”

Potential homebuyers also should be aware of a property’s proximity to commercial facilities, such as power plants and funeral homes, as these also can negatively affect a home’s value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Move to Improve Arthritis

January 30, 2013 2:24 am

More Americans are walking, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the news is a step in the right direction, the report also highlights a need for many more Americans to join the movement.

Importance of Movement
According to the CDC report, the number of Americans who walk at least 10 minutes at a time one or more days a week increased from 55.7 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2010 – a jump of about 6 percent. Among people with arthritis, the increase was about 4 percent.

While Americans are moving more than in years past, the CDC report also revealed fewer than half of all Americans are getting the government-recommended 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity like brisk walking to improve their health. Movement is especially important for people with arthritis and is one of the many ways to fight off arthritis. Walking, biking, swimming or even tennis can help reduce risk and improve pain.

Move to Improve
The Arthritis Foundation is taking steps to increase walking and physical activity to limit the effects of arthritis. As the nation’s leading cause of disability, arthritis affects one in five adults in the United States – more than 20 percent of the adult population. High rates of arthritis among people with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, make physical activity an even more important way to manage disease.

The Arthritis Foundation is calling on the nation to:

Get Moving —The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease exercise program is a great resource to start moving. It’s safe, easy and motivating. And researchers have found that Walk With Ease can reduce pain, increase balance and strength, and improve overall health.

Wave With the World — If you’ve been touched by arthritis, join 50,000 people from 70 countries around the world waving in support of people with arthritis. Upload a photo at www.worldarthritisday.org/waving and post the photo on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #WorldArthritisDay. Be sure to include a personal message about how arthritis affects you or someone important to you.

Source: Arthritis Foundation

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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More than 25 Percent of Renters Have Lost Their Security Deposit

January 30, 2013 2:24 am

Everything from pet damage to moving out before the end of a lease could get your security deposit withheld by your landlord, but just how often does this happen? What are the most common causes of tenants getting the cold shoulder when it comes to getting their deposit back?

Rent.com surveyed 1,000 U.S. renters, and the results were startling:

· More than a quarter (26 percent) of all renters have lost their security deposit at some point.
· Thirty-seven percent of men and 44 percent of 18-24 year olds said they did not get their deposits back because they moved out early.
· More women (9 percent) than men (3 percent) lost a deposit due to pet damage.
· Thirty-six percent of renters who did not get their deposits back said the landlord gave no explanation.

In addition, to help make sure you get your deposit back at the end of your lease, here are several tips for maintaining your apartment and your relationship with your landlord:

-When renting, it is always best to get written permission from your landlord before doing any renovations, changing paint color, etc.

-Read your lease. Many renters miss the specific guidelines laid out by their landlord regarding the return of their deposit. A list should be made and agreed upon regarding the conditions of the apartment at the end of the lease BEFORE you sign it.

-Snap a photo. It’s always a good idea to take some photos of the apartment when you first move in. Make sure they are time- and date-stamped! Then, repeat the process on move out day. This way pre-existing damage is documented and the blame cannot fall on you.

-Be reasonable and your landlord might be too. There is no guarantee that a landlord will negotiate you breaking your lease, but maybe there is a compromise that can be met. For instance, you could help find a replacement tenant, agree to pay rent for an additional number of months or until a new tenant is found, etc.

Source: Rent.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Exterior Replacement Projects Provide Biggest Return on Investment for Homeowners, Say REALTORS

January 30, 2013 2:24 am

Homeowners looking for the most return on their investment when it comes to remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

“REALTORS® know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck because a home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Gary Thomas.
“Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale. REALTORS® know what home features are important to buyers in your area and can provide helpful insights when considering remodeling projects.”

Results of the report are summarized on NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com, which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,100 on average. A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

Three different siding replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding, expected to return 79.3 percent of costs, vinyl siding, expected to return 72.9 percent of costs, and foam backed vinyl, expected to return 71.8 percent of costs. Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000.

The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight and tied with the vinyl siding replacement with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. The improvement project projected to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup less than 44 percent.

“A REALTOR® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most upon resale in their market,” said Thomas. “Each neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies depending on where you live. When making a home remodeling decision, resale value is just one factor that homeowners should take into consideration. Consult a Realtor® to make sure you are making the best decision.”

Source: The National Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Family Physicians Say It's Not Too Late for the Flu Vaccine

January 29, 2013 8:22 am

With one of the worst flu seasons upon us – and the peak of the season yet to come – the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) is urging those who have not yet received the flu vaccine to do so soon.

"It's absolutely not too late to get vaccinated against the flu virus this year," said Dr. Karen Mitchell, a family physician and MAFP Board member. "As long as the flu virus is circulating, it's never too late."

Influenza seasons can be unpredictable, and in some years peak activity can last well into the spring. According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season can begin as early as October and last until late May. Michigan has already reported a high level of Influenza-like illnesses throughout the state.

"There's a good match between the flu and the flu vaccine this year, which means if you get vaccinated, you are very likely to be protected against the flu," said Mitchell. "And, there's still plenty of vaccine available, so check with your primary care physician and make it a priority to get vaccinated."

Anyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated annually. It's also especially important for those at high risk, such as individuals who are over age 50, have a suppressed immune system or chronic illness, are pregnant, or are caretakers for anyone in a high-risk group.

"It's far safer to get the flu vaccine than to take a chance on getting the flu," said Mitchell.

If you do experience flu-like symptoms, there are anti-viral prescription drugs that can lessen your symptoms and shorten your illness. These treatments can mean the difference between a milder illness and a hospital stay for those at high-risk.

Stop the Spread

The easiest way to stop the spread of the virus is to get vaccinated: if you don't have the flu, you can't spread it. In addition, MAFP recommends the following steps for prevention:

-If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home – except to get medical care or other necessities – until your fever subsides for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicines).
-Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs, meaning coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow—never into your bare hands.
-Wash your hands regularly.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
-Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

"These actions aren't a substitute for vaccination," said Mitchell, "but they will help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other illnesses."

Source: Michigan Academy of Family Physicians

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Pending Home Sales Down in December but Remain on Uptrend

January 29, 2013 8:22 am

Pending home sales declined in December, but have stayed above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 4.3 percent to 101.7 in December from 106.3 in November, but is 6.9 percent higher than December 2011 when it was 95.1. The data reflect contracts, but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is an uneven uptrend. "The supply limitation appears to be the main factor holding back contract signings in the past month. Still, contract activity has risen for 20 straight months on a year-over-year basis," he said. "Buyer interest remains solid, as evidenced by a separate REALTOR® survey, which shows that buyer foot traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic."

Yun said shortages of available inventory are limiting sales in some areas. "Supplies of homes costing less than $100,000 are tight in much of the country, especially in the West, so first-time buyers have fewer options," he said. "We expect a seasonal rise of inventory in the spring to help, but a seller's market may be developing. Much of the West is already a seller's market for homes priced under a million dollars, but conditions are much more balanced in the Northeast."

Even with tighter inventory, a pent-up demand and favorable affordability conditions bode well for the market. Yun expects existing-home sales to increase another 9 percent in 2013, following a 9 percent rise in 2012.

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 5.4 percent to 78.8 in December but is 8.4 percent higher than December 2011. In the Midwest the index rose 0.9 percent to 104.8 in December and is 14.4 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South declined 4.5 percent to an index of 111.5 in December but are 10.1 percent higher December 2011. In the West the index fell 8.2 percent in December to 101.0 and is 5.3 percent below a year ago.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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New Resource for Consumers Facilitates Smoother Moves

January 29, 2013 8:22 am

Unpakt, an instant pricing application helping consumers find reputable moving companies and book their moves online, recently partnered with Harris Interactive to conduct a comprehensive online survey revealing consumer feelings toward the moving industry. With this new platform, consumers can compare movers, receive exact price quotes rather than estimates, and manage a move online, all while considering both consumer and mover feedback to improve the process overall.

Unpakt's survey revealed that Americans move an average of 8.2 times in their lifetime. Moreover, 88 percent of Americans chose to move by themselves rather than hire a moving company. This could be largely due to survey findings that indicate almost half (46 percent) of Americans are afraid movers will steal their belongings during a move and 69 percent of Americans fear that movers will damage belongings during a move.

In terms of the cost of moving, one frequent complaint from consumers after using a moving company is that they paid more for the move than anticipated. This is likely because of hidden fees, given that many moving companies use estimates rather than exact price quotes. Of Americans that paid more for their last move than initially anticipated, 57 percent paid upwards of $175 all the way through $1,000 more for the move than expected.

Well over half of Americans also agreed that it is hard to find a good moving company.

"As someone who has been in the moving industry more than 25 years, I have seen firsthand exactly why consumers are uneasy about working with moving companies," said Sharone Ben-Harosh , founder of Unpakt. "Today's informed consumer is able to easily compare costs, receive guaranteed prices and access customer reviews when booking travel or searching for good restaurants, so the same should be true of booking a move and finding a reputable mover. Unpakt is now providing these services."

Survey data found that 58 percent of Americans said they would be most likely to use online reviews or online research to search for a reputable moving company. The online tool also allows customers to create an inventory of all their furniture and boxes and quickly enter moving date and location information. Once the information is submitted, Unpakt provides a comparison of guaranteed prices from Unpakt's pre-screened movers. From there, the customer can book the move on-the-spot or save the search and revisit the booking process at a later date.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Healthier Dishes for Your Table

January 28, 2013 4:30 am

(Family Features) Bringing healthier foods to the table can be easier – and more delicious – than you might think. When you add high-quality proteins such as soyfoods to the menu, you open up the door to a wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals.

The plant-based proteins of soy are packed with benefits for your body. They:

• Have all the essential amino acids needed for growth.
• May help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol and increasing the flexibility of blood vessels.
• Are equivalent to animal sources of protein but have no cholesterol and little saturated fat.

In fact, both the national 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the MyPlate nutrition guidance recommend soyfoods such as soymilk, veggie burgers, soy nutrition bars, soy sausages, tofu, soy yogurt, soy protein shakes and edamame. You can easily enjoy soy proteins in a lot of different ways.

Meat and poultry lovers can enjoy soy, too, by incorporating soy crumbles and other soy products into their favorite dishes. This recipe for a Veggie Taco Salad makes a satisfying, nutritious entrée for the whole family.

You can find more delicious recipes and information about soybeans and their journey from the farm to your plate at www.soyfoodsmonth.org.

Veggie Taco Salad
Makes 4 servings

2 cups soy crumbles (you can find these in your grocer’s freezer section or refrigerated meat section)
3/4 cup salsa
5 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup black beans

Topping Options:
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream

In large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook crumbles and salsa over medium heat about 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently.

In large bowl toss together lettuce, corn and black beans. Arrange on 4 serving plates. Top with crumbles mixture. Sprinkle with toppings.

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 180 Calories, 4 g Total Fat, 14g Protein, 26g Carbohydrate, 8g Fiber, 600mg Sodium

Source: Soyfoods Association of North America

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Mortgage Rates Rebound

January 28, 2013 4:30 am

Fixed mortgage rates increased following positive economic news, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to 3.66 percent this week, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.35 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate jumped to a 4-month high of 2.94 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year mortgage climbed to 4.08 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were all over the map, with the 3-year ARM increasing to 2.96 percent, the 5-year ARM dropping to 2.71 percent and the 7-year ARM holding at 2.88 percent.

The past week saw positive reports on housing starts and a drop in weekly unemployment claims, which coupled with good news on the corporate earnings front, powered mortgage rates higher. With the debt ceiling debate delayed, the most dire economic scenarios are alleviated for now, which should keep a floor under bond yields and mortgage rates at least until talk of government spending cuts heats up. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

The last time mortgage rates were above 5 percent was Apr. 2011. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 5.07 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,082.22. With the average rate now 3.66 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $916.05, a difference of $166 per month for anyone refinancing now.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/RTI.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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