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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

My Blog

4 Strategies to Make House Hunting Easier

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

While house shopping can be fun, it can also be intimidating for those who are new to the experience. There are many factors to consider when looking to purchase a home- from what neighborhood to which floor plan and much more.

Focus on four key factors when looking to buy a house:

1. Location, location, location. A house needs to be near what's important to you and your lifestyle. How important is it to you that your home is close to your office? Is it more important to you that you're close to a good medical center or a convenient grocery store? Everyone has their priorities, and you have to consider your family's when thinking about location.

2. The house. Does the floor plan meet your needs? Does it have enough room for your family to grow if future growth is in your plans? Think of buying for the long term and consider whether the house meets your needs, not just now, but any future needs you can anticipate. And don't discount your gut feeling. If this home doesn't feel like home to you, then move on.

3. Affordability. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage before you begin visiting homes is the best way to know what you can afford. Often people fall into the trap of looking first, and falling in love with a home that's well out of their price range. Only look in whatever price range you can pre-qualify for.

4. Resale. As much as you like the idea of seeing you and your family growing old and gray in your new home, chances are you won't. Most people do not live in their house even for the full term of their mortgage. When home shopping, keep in mind that at some point you will probably want to put your home on the market, so don't compromise. If you decide a house has some aspects that you can overlook, you need to be aware that someone else may not feel the same way. When home shopping, choose a house that is not only appealing to you, but is also likely going to appeal to others down the road.

Source: RealEstate.com
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Heat Your Home the Natural Way

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

The New Year has arrived along with a nationwide blast of cold temperatures leaving homeowners wondering how to bring heating and related energy costs and usage down while maintaining home comfort. In addition to plugging air leaks, the Alliance to Save Energy is encouraging homeowners to use sunlight as a cheap alternative to heating their home.

The Alliance provides the following tips for homeowners to heat their home for less this winter:

-Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.

-Let a programmable thermostat “remember for you” to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to reduce heating costs by up to 10 percent–and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.

-Keep furnace filters clean - check and change your filter every month during heavy-use winter months to assist air flow so your system doesn't have to work harder to keep you warm.

-Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills and can often pay for itself in energy savings.

-Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The federal government’s ENERGY STAR website (www.energystar.gov) can help you find a qualified individual.

For more information, visit www.ase.org.
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Appliance Safety in the Home: How to Prevent Tip-Overs

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

In light of recent tragedies nationwide involving tipped over appliances, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently completed a review of various tip-over hazards that can occur in the home.

Families must be aware of leaving children unattended in the kitchen, even if the stove is turned off. Many accidents occur when children attempt to climb on top of a stove door causing the appliance to topple over. With senior citizens, the same can happen when they are leaning on it for support. If the stove is on at the time of the incident, the heat will only make injuries worse and risk of death greater. Most of the time, none of the appliances involved in these types of accidents were properly secured to the wall.

The CPSC recommends the following to prevent related tragedies in the future:

-Manufacturers should create better stability in their designs. Models should be able to support 100 pounds on an open oven door. Although this may require some major redesigns, the added safety bonus will benefit everyone.
-Manufacturers should design door hinges that lock in the open position should an oven start to tip forward.
-Install anti-tip devices that prevent an appliance from working unless they are properly installed.
-Appliances should be programmed to automatically shut off the heat should they begin to tip.

Consumers should be aware that these types of incidents can occur in their home. To prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones, be sure to secure your stove with tip restraints provided by your manufacturer. New appliances made after 1991 should have shipped with them included, but may or may not be pre-installed. The CPSC reports that it is not aware of a single injury or death caused by an appliance with tip restraints properly installed.

For more information, visit www.cpsc.gov.
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Surviving the Post-Holiday Shopping Blues

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

Opening gifts is a ton of fun. Opening the resulting bills is not. Yet, every holiday season millions of consumers use their credit cards to buy gifts when they don't have the cash.
During the next couple of weeks, those bills will start rolling in and a strong case of post-holiday remorse will begin to set in.

When faced with the post-holiday blues, debt can seem insurmountable. To help get a handle on the situation, heed the following advice:

• Realize that there are only two legal ways out of debt - cutting expenses or increasing your income. Decide which works for you and truly commit to it.
• Create a damage sheet. List the names of your creditors, amount owed each and current interest rates, then total it all up. Update that sheet monthly and tape it wherever you will see it regularly.
• Create a budget and a repayment plan. Track your expenses for one month so that you can be sure every expense is included.
• Periodic expenses can break a budget so allocate an hour each Sunday to address your finances. Staying on top of your expenses will help you stay in budget.
• Shelve your credit cards. Take them out of your wallet and leave them at home. In fact, store them with your damage sheet to remind you of your balances. If you have to use credit, don't charge anything you can't pay off within 90 days.
• Pay off the credit cards with the highest interest rates first.
• Establish a 2010 holiday savings account so that next holiday season, relying on credit won't be necessary. Factor it in as an expense.
• Take a good hard look at your spending habits. Credit is not an extension of your income!
• If you can't make a dent in your post-holiday debt, consider credit counseling from a reputable.

Treat this year's holiday charges as a learning experience and resolve to do better next year so that in January 2013, you can focus on starting the New Year debt-free.

Source: Money Management International
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Tips for Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

According to State Farm Insurance, an average of a quarter-million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter due to the freezing and bursting of pipes. Taking some simple precautions can save you the expense as well as the time of repairing burst pipes. The best way to prevent frozen pipes is to winterize your plumbing system.

To help keep frozen pipes from being a drain on your wallet, here is a series of tips for preventing or dealing with a frozen-pipe scenario.

To prevent your pipes from freezing:

• Cover faucets and exposed pipes with insulation, or wrap them with thick towels.
• Open cabinet doors. This allows heat to circulate and keeps interior pipes warm.
• Keep faucets running. A small trickle of water/constant drip is recommended.
• Secure basement doors, windows and crawl-space openings.
• Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets.
• Open outside hose taps so water can drain.
• Apply electrically-powered heat tape. (Follow manufacturer's instructions or call a plumber.)
Homeowners should also locate the main water shut-off valve, and learn how to use it. This can come in handy if pipes freeze and burst.

To safely thaw frozen pipes:

• Turn off the water at the shut-off valve.
• Open the nearest faucet. This allows water to drain out as the ice melts.
• Heat the exterior of the pipe with a hair dryer. Apply heat slowly and don't keep heat in one spot.
• Do not attempt to thaw exposed frozen pipes with an open flame, such as an acetylene torch.
If immediate assistance or repairs are needed, it is recommended that you call a qualified plumber. By following these prevention tips, hopefully your pipes will remain unfrozen and usable throughout the entire winter season.

Source: Mr. Rooter Plumbing
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Tips for Going Green in the New Year

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

There are many ways to make the New Year greener and healthier. Just making a few small changes can have a great impact on the planet and personal health. There are many easy changes to implement into daily life to make the world a greener place.

Composting: Building a compost pile as a homeowner is an easy way to add many beneficial ingredients to the soil while reducing garbage volume at the same time. It can also benefit the community by reducing the nearly 25% of compostable landfill waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Recycle paper and electronics: Recycling is beneficial in many ways and can be a convenient and an environmentally conscious step in the coming year. Anything from paper and plastics to metals and electronics can be recycled. This can save on the consumption of resources, the amount of landfill space being used and energy use. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills and incinerators, causing dangerous heavy metals and toxins to build up with serious environmental risks.

Go plastic free: Get rid of plastic once and for all this year by switching to reusable whenever possible. One way to save money and protect our environment from the harmful effects of plastics and the chemicals used and the emissions given off in producing them is to use reusable stainless steel water bottles and always carry cloth grocery bags anytime you are shopping.

Plant a garden: With the smallest amount of outdoor space, a garden can produce a wide variety of nutritious foods. Gardening can bring you back to nature while providing you and your family fresh wholesome foods with many benefits. If you don’t have room, consider a container garden or small herb garden to enhance your culinary experience.

Laundry: Whenever doing laundry, make sure it is a full load and wash clothes in cold water using a safe non-toxic laundry soap and hang clothes to dry for a clean, fresh and environmentally friendly way to do your laundry in 2012.

Support local farmers and eat in season: Most grocery store food has been picked in the fields, sent to distribution centers and shipped thousands of miles before ever hitting your grocery store shelf. In contrast, when you purchase from local farmers, you are not only putting a face with your food, but your food has been picked within a day or two of purchasing, making it ripe and delicious. Buying fresh local food has many advantages, including reduced vehicle pollution and packaging needed, while encouraging fresh and often-times organic and pesticide-free produce for better nutrition.

Unplug appliances and electronics: When it is time for an upgrade, consider purchasing new energy efficient models with an Energy Star label that guarantees that the product is energy efficient. This label is sponsored by the Department of Energy and the EPA and can offer substantial savings. If you are not in the position to purchase a new appliance, unplug the one you have if and when it is not needed or in use.

Turn it off: Turn the water off while brushing teeth and the lights off every time you leave the room. Consider purchasing low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and energy efficient CFL or LED light bulbs.

Use eco-friendly cleaning products: With just a few common household items, you can make your own cleaning products when you need them. Making your own cleaning products with ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon and tea tree oil can save you money, time and the packaging required for the store-bought brands. Homemade cleaners are also safer and healthier when using non-toxic ingredients.

Never purchase paper towels or napkins again: Instead, use old washcloths cut into smaller squares, old socks for dusting, old t-shirts cut up for cleaning and reusable cloth napkins and hand-towels while out and about.

Borrow or buy used: Borrow your books, music and movies from your local library to save money while cutting down on the paper and ink needed to manufacture new. Set up online accounts with Ebay, freecycle.org or shop thrift stores and garage sales when looking for anything from clothing to furniture.

Source: www.smilinggreenmom.com
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Survey Shows Shoppers on Smartphones Do More Research Than Buying

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

A recent survey revealed that while the number of mobile shoppers is increasing dramatically, they are using their mobile devices to research products more than they use it to make purchases. Shoppers are comfortable making purchases from their home computers, but are more hesitant using their tablets and mobile phones to buy online. The survey found that 58 percent of shoppers have made purchases via their mobile phone as compared to 94 percent who have made purchases via laptops and 75 percent via tablets. For those who shop with their phone, 79 percent use it to research products, 73 percent to browse stores, and 77 percent to compare prices. Of the 58 percent of shoppers who make purchases via their mobile devices, 69 percent use both the mobile browser and apps to buy products (18 percent only use apps; 13 percent only use a mobile browser). 

What consumers are purchasing also differs from their buying behavior on laptops. Laptop shoppers’ most popular items to buy online are consumer products like clothing and electronics, but shoppers buy more digital products like music and apps on their mobile devices. On mobile phones, 70 percent of shoppers purchased digital goods, 60 percent purchased consumer products, 46 percent purchased services, and 38 percent purchased consumable goods. The majority of shoppers (76 percent) say ease of use is the reason they would buy one category of products over another and 34 percent cite price point as the reason why they would buy in one category over another. 

While the use of mobile devices is increasing, the survey results strongly indicate that mobile devices are currently much better for window shopping than for buying - especially when it comes to consumer products. Mobile shoppers are still more comfortable purchasing using their laptops, although tablets are widely used for research and shopping. This demonstrates that consumers are open to new technology, but until mobile shopping is as easy as shopping on larger devices and security concerns are addressed, they will be more reluctant to fully embrace mobile buying. 

Source: TechBargains.com
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Foreclosure Prevention Actions Increase

December 21, 2011 5:56 pm

Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s (the “Enterprises”) foreclosure prevention activity increased in the third quarter of 2011 and totaled nearly 2 million foreclosure prevention actions since the beginning of conservatorship in 2008. During this period, the Enterprises completed one million loan modifications, helping borrowers stay in their homes.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s third quarter 2011 Foreclosure Prevention & Refinance Report, the increase in completed foreclosure prevention activity in the third quarter was driven primarily by loan modifications and repayment plans. Two-thirds of all borrowers who received loan modifications in the third quarter had their monthly payments reduced by over 20 percent. Additionally, the Enterprises' cumulative refinancings through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) increased 11 percent during the third quarter to nearly 928,600 loans.

Also in the report:
-The Enterprises have completed nearly 2 million foreclosure prevention actions since the start of conservatorship. Nearly 1.7 million of these actions have allowed borrowers to retain homeownership, with more than one million being permanent loan modifications.
-Loans modified since the start of HAMP are performing substantially better compared with loans modified in earlier periods.
-Serious delinquency rates continued to decline. However, the percentage of loans that have missed one payment increased during the third quarter.
-REO inventory declined for the fourth consecutive quarter as property dispositions continued to outpace acquisitions in the third quarter.

To view the third quarter 2011 Foreclosure Prevention & Refinance Report, visit: http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/22826/3q11FPRF.pdf. For more information, visit www.fhfa.gov.
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Kitchen Trends for 2012: Old World Out, Simplicity In

December 20, 2011 5:56 pm

Kitchens are where family and friends come to cook, eat and socialize. With 2012 just around the corner, kitchen design trends for the new year are an industry-wide hot topic, as experts predict where kitchen design is headed and which materials will be in vogue.

Home design experts predict that 2012 is going to be an exciting year for kitchen design because homeowners want more creativity in their homes and are becoming more thoughtful in their decision-making.

To begin a kitchen overhaul, homeowners shouldn’t be afraid to dispose of anything from the last two decades, especially Old World kitchen styles with heavy molding. Instead, homeowners should embrace new materials, like countertops made out of quartz, glass and wood, which can vary in style, shape and color. As we move into 2012, the overall trend is to keep it simple, energy-efficient, and comfort-oriented. De-clutter, go natural, lighten up and make it work for you and your household.

"Green design" will also become a standard request this year. Designers recommend homeowners choose to use energy-efficient items like compact fluorescent bulbs because they use two-thirds less energy. For those who do decide to “go green,” work with a professional lighting designer who can help introduce modern technology fixtures and more energy saving items.

For more information about home design, kitchen renovations and upgrades, follow @FaceYourKitchen on Twitter.
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Dreaming of a 'Black Christmas'?

December 20, 2011 5:56 pm

While retailers are busy trying to stimulate enough holiday sales to put them into the black financially, consumers are dreaming of a black Christmas, one that keeps them in the black on their personal ledger sheet.

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending tempted millions of shoppers to part with some cash, or at least pull out the plastic, many have now not only returned to financial reality, but have also returned their purchases.

According to a November poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website, 40 percent of shoppers intend to spend zero on holiday purchases, while 51 percent plan on cutting back on what they spent last year.

Here are some last-minute tips to help avoid buyer’s remorse, whether that guilt comes a few days after shopping, resulting in returning the purchases, or in January when the bills start arriving.

• Don’t make impulse purchases. Resist the temptation to buy anything just to be able to mark it off your list. A thoughtless gift isn’t worth the paper it’s wrapped in.
• Make your shopping trips short by having a shopping strategy. Know what you want, where you’re going to get it, and how much you’re going to spend. Your goal is to get in and get out of the stores, thus limiting the temptation to spend.
• While shopping, take frequent breaks and track your spending. Staying on budget equals staying in the black.
• Resist paying steep rush shipping charges. It’s better to find an alternative gift than to spend as much in shipping as you did on the gift.
• If you can’t find the right gift, know that a gift card always fits. Further, the recipient can use it during the steep after-Christmas sales and maximize the value.

Also, play it safe and inquire about the return policy before you buy. If the store offers a gift receipt, be sure to include it with the package, thus making a return much simpler.

If your holiday spending has you seeing red, visit www.DebtAdvice.org for more information.
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