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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

A Step-by-Step Moving Checklist

March 4, 2016 12:09 am

Made the decision to move? Congratulations! You’re one step closer to living in the home of your dreams. Make your move go as smoothly as possible by following this checklist, mapped out in timeline format by the experts at Roadway Moving.

60 Days Before You Move…

• Start strategically planning your move, step-by-step, to alleviate the stress of last-minute packing and planning.

• Think about holding a garage sale before your move to help reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your new home.

30 Days Before You Move…

• Check-in with your mover regarding details for move-in day.

• Confirm with your moving company that they will be able to connect or disconnect cable, Internet, electric and any additional services you're using.

• Begin packing and develop an unpacking plan for move-in day.

2 Weeks Before You Move…

• Clear out any rooms in your house that haven't been emptied yet.

• Collect all of your most valuable belongings, such as jewelry, and keep them separate from the rest of your packed items.

On Move-In Day…

• Compile a list of items you’ll need for your first night in your new home, such as bottled water, snacks, towels and toilet paper.

• Take inventory of all boxes that were picked up and delivered to your new home, making sure everything is there before the movers leave.

Source: Roadway Moving

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Can't Sleep? It May Be Your Neighborhood Street Lights

March 4, 2016 12:09 am

Is your neighborhood well-lit? It may be a well-intentioned safety measure, but it could also be contributing to a restless night’s sleep, according to a recently released study.

“Our world has become a 24/7 society. We use outdoor lighting, such a street lights, to be more active at night and to increase our safety and security,” says Stanford University’s Dr. Maurice Ohayon, author of the study. “The concern is that we have reduced our exposure to darkness and it could be affecting our sleep.”

Using nighttime data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Ohayon and a team of researchers assessed how much outdoor light some 15,000 test subjects were exposed to at night. People living in urban areas with populations of 500,000 or more were exposed to nighttime light that was three to six times more intense than those living in smaller towns or rural areas.

In the study, sleep disturbances were found to be associated with nighttime light exposure. People living in more intense light areas were 6 percent more likely to sleep less than six hours each night than people in less intense light areas. People living in more intense light areas were also more likely to be dissatisfied with their sleep quantity or quality than people less intense light areas. People with high light exposure slept less per night than those with low light exposure, according to the study, averaging 402 minutes, or 6.7 hours, per night.

“Light pollution can be found in any sizable city in the world,” says Ohayon. “Yet, excessive exposure to light at night may affect how we function during the day and increase the risks of excessive sleepiness. If this association is confirmed by other studies, people may want to consider room darkening shades, sleep masks or other options to reduce their exposure.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Shoppers: 5 Deals to Score in March

March 3, 2016 12:09 am

There’s a reason spring is synonymous with sales. Retailers across the board are clearing stock from the past season by doubling down on deals, attracting shoppers flush with cash from refunds.

"A wide seasonal inventory shift collides with tax refunds, offering March shoppers very timely savings on high-quality personal items," says Brent Shelton, online shopping expert for FatWallet.com. "Consumers will find some the lowest prices ever on last year's winter clothing, electronics, mobile devices and outdoor sports gear this month."

According to FatWallet.com, the best savings in March are on:

• Electronics – Televisions in demand last year will be pushed to clearance as newer models with 4K technology hit the shelves. Shoppers can also expect to save up to 40 percent on Bluetooth media devices, smart home technology and DSLR cameras.

• Smartphones – Newly released Android phones, tablets, wearables and virtual reality technology will result in a fire sale of last year’s models, as cell phone brands and carriers market discounts. During this time, shoppers can expect to save hundreds on older smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches.

• Sports Gear – Seasonal sports equipment will be on sale all month, with some of the lowest prices of the year seen on hockey, hunting, ice-fishing and skiing gear. Bicycles of last’s year make will also be discounted, as well as collegiate and professional team apparel.

• Travel – Last-minute Spring Break packages and March Madness hotel deals will be available early in the month. Later on, first-come travelers will see summer vacation deals and luggage savings.

• Winter Clothing – A selection of top-brand outerwear from retailers like Columbia, Land’s End, Patagonia and REI will be available at outlet prices, with some merchandise up to 80 percent off. Big-box retailers, such as Target, will also offer savings with extended seasonal clearances.

Source: FatWallet.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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30 Ways to Upgrade Your Outdoor Space

March 3, 2016 12:09 am

Yearning for the outdoors? We’re with you! Spring’s almost here, and quality outdoor time isn’t far behind. To get the most enjoyment out of your outdoor space, now’s the time to consider an upgrade (or two) while the weather’s still in between seasons.

Need inspiration? Here are the most common outdoor upgrades and add-ons, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), ranked in order of popularity:

1. Fireplace/Fire Pit
2. Lighting
3. Wireless Internet Connectivity
4. Dining/Seating Area
5. Outdoor Furniture
6. Planters, Sculptures and Other Garden Accessories
7. Grill
8. Pergola
9. Counter Space
10. Deck
11. Outdoor Heater
12. Arbor
13. Fencing
14. Sports Courts (Bocce, Tennis, etc.)
15. Porch
16. Spa Features (Indoor/Outdoor Saunas, Hot Tubs, Jacuzzis, Whirlpools)
17. Stereo System
18. ADA-Accessible Structures (Bars, Ramps, Shelving, etc.)
19. Movie/Television/Video Theater
20. Swimming Pool
21. Utility Storage (Tool Sheds, Garden Sheds, etc.)
22. Sink
23. Pavilion
24. Play Structures (Swing Sets, Treehouses, etc.)
25. Refrigerator
26. Outdoor Cooling System
27. Shower/Bath
28. Gazebo
29. Hammock
30. Labyrinth

Source: ASLA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Renting? 5 Tips to Consider

March 3, 2016 12:09 am

For many, renting is a necessary stepping stone on the path to homeownership. Embark on the journey wisely with these rent-smart tips, courtesy of NeighborWorks America.

1. Be on alert for rental scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available (“phantom” rentals) to trick prospective tenants into sending them money. Signs you may have encountered a scam include a person telling you to wire money, or send a security deposit and/or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease. To report a scam, contact local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

2. Get your finances in shape. Nearly half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Strengthening your credit can help save you from overspending. A good credit score is important because most landlords use a credit check to vet potential renters. Consider financial counseling to help build up your creditworthiness.

3. Know your options. Depending on your area, you may have the option to rent directly from a landlord or from a managed property. Weigh the pros and cons of both—you can easily get in touch with a property manager for maintenance issues, for example, but landlords may have flexibility when it comes to rent.

4. Obtain renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance protects the valuables inside your home, whether you're living in an apartment or renting a house. If there were an incident like a fire or water leak, the landlord's insurance will cover the building itself, but you would still need to replace your own property if it were damaged.

5. Research moving companies. Moving schemes are common, especially in larger cities. Conducting research before hiring a mover is essential. Look for online reviews, check out social media, and ask your family or friends for a recommendation.  Be sure to get estimates from a few moving companies to compare prices. 

Source: NeighborWorks America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Often Are We Unplugging from Technology?

March 2, 2016 2:09 am

Disconnecting from technology is challenging, but not impossible. In fact, many Americans are actively unplugging, according to a recent Harris Poll®. The poll found that 45 percent of Americans cut back on screen time at least once a week, whether to enjoy quiet or “me” time, or to spend quality time with their families. For most, “unplugging” means avoiding the Internet, email, social media, calls, text messages, apps, videogames and/or television.

But is that enough? According to the poll, 60 percent of Americans wish their family members would unplug more often, and nearly 30 percent have been told to unplug by others. What’s more, almost 40 percent believe it is “unrealistic” to unplug for more than a few hours at a time, and have a fear of missing out (FOMO) if they’re disconnected for too long.

The poll also found that the device most difficult to detach from is also the device inducing the most anxiety: mobile phones. Over 40 percent of Americans—especially Gen Xers and millennials—feel anxious when they don’t have their phones with them.

Still, unplugging gives way to other enjoyable activities. Reading ranks number one, according to the poll, followed by spending time with family, sleeping, relaxing and gardening.

Ironically, nearly 20 percent of Americans cited in the poll make an announcement on social media when they’re going to unplug. Go figure!

Source: The Harris Poll®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Decoding Energy Efficiency Lingo, According to Home Builders

March 2, 2016 2:09 am

With so much science involved in contemporary homes, your RIS Consumer Confidant knows folks can sometimes get lost in the lingo. So it was great to see a recent post from the National Home Builders Association (www.nahb.org) that helps efficiency-minded homeowners decode a few of the most often used energy efficiency terms.

According to the NAHB, the following simple definitions can help you understand popular energy-saving options for your home:

“Energy-Efficient” Home – A home that uses less energy than a traditional home without compromising service to owners and occupants. Energy efficiency can be achieved through things such as improved thermal envelopes, solar-oriented construction, low-e windows and efficient appliances. Note that energy efficiency and energy conservation are different in that conservation efforts reduce or eliminate services to save energy. Learn how efficient your home is and ways to improve your home's efficiency with ENERGY STAR's Home Energy Yardstick, available at energystar.gov.

“Net Zero-Energy” Home – A home in which energy production and consumption are equivalent. That means the energy produced by the home must meet the household's needs. Rooftop solar panels are perhaps the most common way for homes to produce energy. To help achieve net zero-energy, the home should be designed using a holistic, whole-house approach that strives for efficiency and reduces energy consumption without sacrificing service or comfort.

“Net Zero-Energy-Ready” Home – A home that is outfitted with the necessary structural and technological support to install energy-producing technologies. Net zero-energy-ready homes are appropriate for homeowners who plan to install energy-producing technology in the future, but do not have the means or desire to do so at the current time. When the homeowner is ready to install such technology, it will be a much simpler process.

“Net Positive-Energy” Home – A home that produces more energy than the household needs. A homeowner could receive credit from their utility company for the excess energy returned to the grid that is produced by the energy technologies and saved by energy-efficiency measures.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Renters Beware: Scams Pervasive on Craigslist

March 2, 2016 2:09 am

Apartment hunters in big cities know the drill: they spot a listing for a well-priced, attractive place and make an inquiry, only to be met with demands for an instant credit check or an upfront fee to access the full listing. Savvier home hunters spot these scams immediately, but others fall through the cracks, making popular rental listing sites like Craigslist a highly lucrative spot for fraud.

A recently released study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering found that Craigslist fails to identify more than half of scam rental listings, and that suspicious postings often linger for as long as 20 hours before being removed—more than enough time to snare victims, especially in competitive housing markets.

The research team at NYU analyzed more than 2 million rental listings on Craigslist over a five-month period to gain an end-to-end understanding of how such scams are structured and which strategies may undermine them. The team detected and analyzed about 29,000 fraudulent listings in 20 major cities, ultimately mapping the listings into seven distinct scam categories, most of which involved credit card payments.

One of the most common was a credit report scam, in which a fraudulent poster instructs a would-be tenant to click a link and purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a referral commission from the credit reporting site even though there is no property for rent.

In another scheme, the "cloned listing" scam, rental listings from other sites are duplicated and posted on Craigslist at a lower price. Scammers make money by requesting a rent deposit via wire transfer from prospective tenants. By responding to these ads and analyzing IP addresses and banking wire information, the researchers learned that most of these schemes originate in Nigeria and are administered by a small group of "scam factories."

Another pervasive scam involved "real estate service" companies, in which victims are asked to pay both an upfront fee and a monthly membership fee to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.

The cities included in the study were Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Mich.; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif,; Memphis, Tenn.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.

Source: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Common Money Mistakes Draining Your Funds

March 1, 2016 12:03 am

Everybody blows a little money now and then, but too many people make it a habit. To take control of your finances and keep more cash on hand, financial advisors suggest diligently avoiding these six common money mistakes:

1. Keeping up with friends – One way to get into financial trouble is trying to match someone else’s lifestyle. Sticking to a budget may mean missing out on a few indulgences, but the upside is a manageable credit card bill you can pay off in 30 days without paying interest fees.

2. Paying interest on credit cards – Speaking of interest rates, paying 20 percent on a credit card while earning 0.2 percent on your savings is costing you plenty. Leave yourself an emergency cushion, but use the bulk of your savings to pay off that credit card debt. If you don’t have savings to draw from, refer back to number one (above) and start living a cash-only lifestyle.

3. Buying new instead of used – These days, 100,000 miles is just the halfway point for a lot of cars, so buy one used that has already depreciated and comes with a lower monthly payment. Consider buying used for other goods as well, such as books, sports gear and appliances.

4. Signing up and spacing out – Be alert to automatic renewals and ongoing monthly charges for services you no longer use. Scan your monthly bills carefully. If you don’t want that extra phone service, gym membership, subscription or extra cable network you’ve been paying for, pick up the phone and cancel it.

5. Ignoring your employer’s 401(k) match – You’re throwing away money if you don’t claim every dollar your employer will contribute to your retirement plan. Find a way to pay in more of your own money, even if it means giving up that morning latte. (Wake-up call: That $5 coffee every day is costing you $150 a month, or $1,800 a year. Enough said.)

6. Letting bank fees drain your account – Switch to a bank that offers free checking. Avoid using out-of-network ATMs and stay on top of your balance to avoid overdraft fees. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Chinoiserie: 4 Ways to Try the Newest Décor Trend at Home

March 1, 2016 12:03 am

Chinoiserie—a style marked largely by Chinese motifs and techniques—is currently one of the hottest décor trends in homes in the Western Hemisphere. Originating in Europe in the 17th century, chinoiserie includes bamboo, cherry blossom or orchid accents, and shades of black, blue, gold, pink, red and white.

"Chinoiserie's elegant prints and colors can truly bring a room together," says Alissa Ahlman, chief merchandising officer for home décor superstore At Home®. "It's one of our favorite trends for 2016 as you can add it to your home in a big way via bright shades of pink or play it down with calming hues of blue."

To incorporate the trend in your home, the experts at home décor superstore At Home® recommend the following tips.

1. Punch up a seating area with chinoiserie throw pillows. Look for ones with tiger motifs or a pagoda-inspired design to drive home the aesthetic.

2. Introduce chinoiserie atop a dresser or bathroom countertop with black, rectangular boxes of varying sizes.

3. Mix in intricate chinoiserie patterns in neutral tones, such as a white side cabinet with lattice detailing in the guest bedroom.

4. Add a touch of glamour with gold accent pieces, such as a sparkling figurine on a mantel or marion votives as a tabletop centerpiece.

Despite its specific profile, chinoiserie design can be adapted to fit both traditional and modern spaces, and is ideal to complement an existing style. By implementing the trend thoughtfully, like in the tips listed above, you, too, can successfully integrate this new trend at home.

Source: At Home

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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