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RE/MAX 440
Stuart Dubbs
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 484-239-0950
Fax: 267-354-6247 
sdubbs@remaxcentralinc.com
Stuart Dubbs

My Blog

Real Estate with Perspective

Protecting Your Home from Grill Fires

June 1, 2015 1:06 am

Did you know three out of five households own a gas grill? That may translate to a lot of tasty meals, but it also explains why there’s an average of 8,800 home fires each year related to grilling, says the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). But gas grills are not solely to blame–all types of grills pose risks for fires.

The NFPA advises backyard chefs be diligent during cookouts. Keep in mind most grilling fires begin on a courtyard, terrace, patio, exterior balcony or open porch. Protect these areas by:

- Checking for damage before using the grill for the first time each year;

- Using propane and charcoal BBQ grills outdoors only;

- Placing the grill well away from the home, deck railing and out from under eaves and overhanging branches;

- Keeping children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area;

- Keeping your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grates and in the trays below;

- Never leaving your grill unattended.

Source: NFPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Credit Know-How Breeds Buyer Confidence

June 1, 2015 1:06 am

The majority of homebuyers know credit is important when purchasing a home–and they feel significantly more prepared to buy if they know their credit scores, Experian reports. In addition, the majority of homebuyers understand the importance of their credit scores in securing favorable interest rates to refinance a home.

"No one likes to go into a lender's office, whether buying or refinancing, and not know the state of their credit; it makes them feel helpless," says Becky Frost, Experian Consumer Services.

Credit score uncertainty among homebuyers manifests in feelings of anxiety over interest rates and the ability to purchase a home. The good news is, more than half of future homebuyers indicate they are actively working to improve their credit, including taking steps to pay off debt, pay bills on time, keep low credit card balances, protect personal information from identity theft or fraud, and not open new credit accounts.

In more good news, 62 percent of future buyers are confident about their credit status, and 60 percent feel financially prepared to buy a home.

Source: Experian Consumer Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Taking Fido on the Road? Tips for Traveling with Pets

May 29, 2015 12:57 am

Each year, millions of pets accompany their families on vacation. If you’re planning on taking your furry friend on a trip, plan ahead with these tips from PetInsurance.com.

1. If traveling by car, secure your pet with a safety harness or well ventilated carrier to restrain them in case of a sudden stop or accident.

2. Never allow your pet to hang out the window. Opening the window just a few inches will allow your pet to safely enjoy the breeze without the risk of inhaling debris or being struck by any objects. This will also prevent any temptation your pet may have of jumping out of the car.

3. Feed your pet a smaller meal before your trip to prevent an upset stomach. Also remember to carry plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

4. Bring your pets' toys to accompany them during travel. The familiar smells can help comfort your pet and keep them occupied during the trip.

5. Never leave your pet in a car unattended. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures in a car can increase drastically.

6. Make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times in case she becomes separated or lost. Verify that your pet's ID tag is up-to-date, durable, and includes your mobile phone number.

7. Pack a recent photo of your pet along with current vaccination records. If your pet becomes lost, having a current photograph will make the search easier.

8. Book a pet-friendly hotel. With more than 25,000 hotels in the U.S. allowing pets, there are plenty of properties from which to choose. Don't assume all pets will be allowed – some hotels place limits on the size of the dogs they allow. Call to check that your dog will be welcomed.

9. Look up details about a veterinary hospital near your destination. If your pet has a medical emergency you'll be prepared and know where to go.

Source:
PetInsurance.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Should You Replace Your Roof? 5 Signs

May 29, 2015 12:57 am

Most homeowners don’t think about their roofs until leaky ceilings and puddles form inside their home. Why think about your roof if there isn’t a problem?

According to Metal Roofing Alliance Executive Director Bill Hippard, "Roofers are most in demand following severe weather such as heavy rain or high winds. If you put off doing repairs or replacing your roof until you have a problem, you may find that the contractor has a waiting list, and your problem will get worse before it can be addressed."

To avoid costly delays and repairs, look for these signs:

1. Missing shingles.
High winds can remove shingles from your roof, creating an invitation for leaks. You can use binoculars to inspect your roof without a ladder.

2. Shingles that are obviously cracked or peeling.
Even if the shingles aren't missing, if they're curling or torn, they're on their way to failing.

3. Stains or water marks on your ceiling can indicate a leaking roof even if you don't see a puddle. It's important to find the source of the leak and make repairs before the problem grows.

4. Discolored shingles can be a sign of mold or algae growth on your roof, particularly in warm, wet climates. The elements are hard on a roof, causing it to deteriorate and fail.

5. Age.
If you have a typical asphalt shingle roof, and it's more than 10-15 years-old, chances are, you're going to need to replace it in the near future.

Source: MetalRoofing.com

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Hot Trends in Outdoor Spaces–and Which Ones to Retire

May 29, 2015 12:57 am

Want to punch up your patio this year? Set your sights higher with a vertical garden, light the night with a hurricane candle, add a splash of lime on seat cushions or table linens, and you’ll be right on trend with the most popular outdoor picks named by a recent Zillow Digs Home Trend Forecast. Here’s how to incorporate them:

Vertical Gardens – Vertical or wall gardens offer a sophisticated home for succulents, herbs and other low-maintenance plants, and will be one of this season's biggest outdoor patio trends. Look for a rise in vertical gardens in condo and apartment decks, where outdoor floor space can be especially tight.

Hurricane Candles
- Hurricane candles are this season's most popular outdoor lighting solution, and will be equally as prevalent among budget and luxury spaces. When grouped together on tables or lined up along the patio floor, hurricane candles are romantic and create ambiance that can be enjoyed on any budget.

Lime Green Accents - Expect to see this fresh hue manifest in a variety of materials and textures, from throw pillows and vases to outdoor umbrellas. A highly versatile statement color, lime green offers the perfect complement to outdoor greenery, and pairs exceptionally well with other citrus tones, like tangerine and sunshine yellow.

Whenever new trends arrive, others must go. Here are the trends you should retire based on Zillow Digs’ assessment:

Tuscan Colors – "Khakis or yellow-based neutrals are out, as well as anything muddy or Tuscan-inspired," says Zillow Digs designer Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interiors. While these muted hues can bring warmth in moderation, they feel heavy and faux in outdoor spaces, which contrasts this season's fresh, streamlined aesthetic.

Shabby Chic Furniture – Intricate, shabby chic patio sets will fade away as this season is all about simplicity and clean lines. Detailed wrought iron patio sets will be replaced with sleek outdoor sofas and loveseats adorned with pillows and throws in this summer's hottest citrus colors.

Excessive Patterns – "People grow tired of busy patterns, so keep them to a minimum," says Thee. Instead, add interest and texture with natural greenery and pops of citrus colors. Look for more solid color choices on pillows and throw blankets this summer.

Source: Zillow

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Lawn Care Tip: How to Stave Off Pests

May 28, 2015 12:58 am

(Family Features) Many homeowners overlook an important aspect of lawn care that can affect the health of their yards. Your lawn is the perfect environment in which threatening weeds, diseases and pests can lurk, often with harmful consequences. In some cases, the primary damage may come in the form of these insects eating away at grass or the leaves of shrubs. Alternatively, insects may destroy grasses and plants at their roots.

Considering how quickly pest populations can multiply, being proactive in preventing and treating their presence is crucial. A regularly scheduled treatment plan is one of the best strategies to reduce your exposure to dangerous pests, and help defend your home and family from unwanted lawn visitors.

In addition to a regular treatment program, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend these pest reduction tips:

• Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.

• Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas.

• Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.

• Stack wood neatly and in a dry area away from the house or lawn.

• Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from wooded areas and in a sunny location, if possible.

• Remove any trash or debris from the yard that may give pests a place to hide.

Source:
TruGreen.com

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4 Types of Chimney Sweep Scams

May 28, 2015 12:58 am

Contrary to popular belief, the off-season is a great time to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. As with any home maintenance project, it is important to watch for red flags that could indicate a scam before hiring a professional. Here are the four most common chimney sweep scams, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

1. Pricing Tricks: Rates for chimney cleaning can certainly vary from region to region and job to job. But as a rule, a basic Level 1 chimney inspection and sweeping should cost no more than $300. Anyone offering an “unbelievably-low-price special” may be trying to make a quick buck rather than provide the full range of services needed to ensure your chimney is safe.

2. “Emergency” Repairs: Scammers will often attempt to prey on your lack of expertise and stoke your fear with claims that specific, extensive repairs must be made immediately to keep your family safe. Collect at least three estimates (with documentation) before you make a decision about big-ticket repairs.

3. Falsified Experience:
For the boldest scam artists, it’s not enough to mislead about the nature of the work they’ll perform. Some will lie about their industry experience and affiliations, too. Secure references, contact your local Better Business Bureau or state consumer protection office for background information, and do research to find out how long a company has been in the community.

4. Faked Credentials: A CSIA designation means that the individual has earned the industry's most respected credential by passing rigorous exams on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. Each CSIA-certified professional carries a photo ID marked with his or her credentials, so always ask to see it.

Source: CSIA

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9 Ways to Go Green in Your Garage

May 28, 2015 12:58 am

Though automobiles have become more environmentally-friendly, their traditional home – the garage – remains a warehouse of pollutants, according to the experts at EGOPowerPlus.com. Whether your garage is attached or detached, you can green your garage in as little as nine steps. Here’s how to get started.

1. If your garage lacks finished walls, lose the half-finished look by insulating and finishing them out. Use biodegradable, low or no-VOC caulks and non-shrinking, flexible adhesives to close gaps. Add a well-insulated garage door with R-values between 13 and 17.5 percent.

2. Clean walls and the floor with eco-friendly cleaners, such as those that are vinegar-based, to remove grime.

3. Set the alarm. Be sure your garage has both fire and CO detectors installed. If battery-powered, check regularly to ensure they are working.

4. If your garage is not included in your home HVAC system, explore solar-powered heating and cooling. At the very least, install an exhaust fan to circulate air more efficiently and get rid of dangerous fumes.

5. Replace traditional bulbs with energy-efficient LED lighting or CFLs. Install task lighting to reduce costs and still see what you're doing.

6. Install skylights if possible. Natural light reduces energy and brightens the feel of the garage.

7. Add a rain barrel just outside the garage, direct rain runoff and use the water for lawn and garden, car washing and other common uses (except drinking).

8. Half-full cans of paint or cans of oil are toxic. Check with your city to find approved disposal sites. For paints and chemicals you need to hold on to, store in a secure cabinet if possible (except for gasoline). If nothing else, place plastic wrap over the open top, pound the lid on with a hammer, and then store the can upside down to secure fumes.

9. Battery-assisted car engines are becoming more common, but if your car is gas-powered, you can manage pollutants with regular inspections and repairs. Leaking fluids such as oil, gas, brake fluid and anti-freeze flow into sewers and eventually into public water sources.

Source: EGOPowerPlus.com

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Solicited on Social Media? It May Be Card Cracking

May 27, 2015 12:54 am

Card cracking is a form of fraud in which consumers respond to an online solicitation for “easy money” and provide a debit card for withdrawal of fake check deposits. Criminals use platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to solicit consumers, often targeting people between the ages of 19- and 25-years-old, as well as college students, newly enlisted military and single parents.

Consumers who respond to these solicitations (now accomplices), provide a debit card, PIN and online credentials to give the criminal direct access to their account. The fraudster deposits worthless checks using mobile deposit and immediately withdraws the funds at an ATM. The consumer then calls to report a stolen debit card or compromised credentials, and the bank reimburses him or her for funds lost and the criminal provides the consumer with a cut of the money withdrawn using worthless checks.

To avoid becoming involved in this type of scam, the experts at the American Bankers Association advise following these tips.

• Do not respond to online solicitations for “easy money.” Card cracking advertisements will suggest that this is a quick, safe way to earn extra cash. Keep in mind that easy money is rarely legal money.

• Never share your account and PIN number. Keep this information private at all times. By sharing it with others, you expose yourself to potential fraud.

• Do not file false fraud claims with your bank. By filing a false claim, you are a co-conspirator to fraud. Banks’ detection techniques for card cracking are constantly improving and suspicious claims will be investigated.

• Report suspicious posts linked with scams. If you notice postings that appear to be linked with a possible scam, report them to the social media site. There is usually a drop down menu near the post to allow for easy reporting.

Source: ABA

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Landscaping Can Make or Break a Sale

May 27, 2015 12:54 am

When it comes to selling your home, appearances matter. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), 84 percent of respondents report the quality of a home’s landscaping would affect their decision to buy it. Moreover, 90 percent of respondents prefer to live in a home surrounded by trees, grass and other plant life.

These findings represent a continued love affair with outdoor spaces and manicured communities, despite an increasingly tech-focused, indoor lifestyle. Three-quarters of respondents feel it is important to spend time enjoying their homes’ outdoor spaces.

Seventy-one percent of respondents believe it is important that their neighbors have well-maintained yards, as well.

Source: NALP

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