RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Digitally Transforming Your Business

October 17, 2017 7:27 am

(Family Features)—One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations.

As small business owners look to transform digitally, they face a number of options, from upgrading their technology to optimize shipping operations and decrease costs to adopting digital marketing tactics to better understand and target their customers. While it can be difficult for a small business that is well-established using analog processes to switch to digital, the key is to start with the final objective in mind; in other words, begin by defining your end goal. Once you've determined the desired outcome of digitizing your business, these tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.

Reach customers through digital marketing.
An important step in digital transformation is revisiting how you attract and interact with current and prospective customers, who are increasingly turning to a combination of physical and digital channels to engage with brands and businesses. If you think of digital marketing and email or online ads, you're on the right track, but effective marketing requires more than simply hitting send on an email or counting clicks on an ad. Email marketing should be focused on providing helpful, relevant content to your target audience based on its preferences. Recipients can come to appreciate your insights on industry news and helpful information, so your sales pitches are likely to be more warmly received.

Beyond the content, an effective strategy establishes connective links between all your marketing touchpoints, from email to blog and even to your traditional tactics, such as direct mail and more, all with the goal of boosting credibility and visibility via search engine optimization and foot traffic.

Optimize operations through the cloud.
As technology evolves, more tasks can be handled online and more traditional analog devices are connected to the internet and the cloud. Adopting the use of these digitally connected devices can not only make fulfilling tasks easier and more efficient, but also track patterns and collect data that brings new value to small business owners. For example, with a surge in parcel volumes year over year (thanks, in part, to a sustained e-commerce growth, according to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index), consider a cloud-enabled shipping solution, such as the SendPro C-Series, to simplify sending operations. This digital multi-carrier platform leverages the latest cloud technology to enable offices of all sizes to easily select the ideal sending option for every parcel or letter, while also providing full tracking information and delivering savings.

Make decisions based on analytics.
Beyond providing efficiency and simplicity, connected and cloud-enabled devices can generate and track valuable data, which can, in turn, be analyzed and used to make important business decisions. In a business environment dominated by ever-changing consumer preferences, data-driven insights are key to serving the needs and securing the business of today's hyper-connected consumers. By utilizing data and analytics, your business can be better equipped to deliver superior customer experiences, support product and service innovation, and optimize business processes.

Use mobile to communicate with customers.
Even the smallest of businesses can take steps toward better mobile communication, such as ensuring their websites are mobile-friendly and responsive to different device types. This is especially important as mobile usage continues to climb in the U.S., and consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices for information to guide purchase decisions. Your business can also capitalize on location intelligence capabilities to deliver timely coupons and promotions to customers in the immediate vicinity.

Source: pitneybowes.com/us/digital

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips to Care for Your Floors

October 17, 2017 7:27 am

You may spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep your home tidy and up-to-date, but how often do you look down at your floors? David Gowling, an industry veteran from DMS Flooring Supplies, says flooring is one of the biggest factors on overall feel of a space.

It may be tempting to opt for cheaper flooring materials and methods in intermediary areas, but putting in a little extra time and effort can increase a property's rental and resale value—and make its occupiers proud to call it their home.

David expands on this issue with his five favorite tips to ensure your flooring looks stunning from the ground up.

1. Put in the Ground Work: Subfloor Prep Is Key
As with everything in life, a good foundation is key. Before the carpet is laid, ensure all the floorboards are screwed tightly to eliminate creaks and squeaks. Fill in all holes which might let high heels slip through and puncture the carpet. Working on rough concrete? Level the floor with a suitable levelling compound. As for smoother concrete, a good underlay will cover any minor imperfections.

With laminate or wood flooring, it's vitally important the subfloor is level—if it's a floating laminate or engineered floor across a bumpy subfloor, there will be a lot of bounciness! Once level, be sure to use a decent quality underlay with a moisture barrier to inhibit any potential dampness from seeping into the flooring. Fit the floor before you install the skirting—this will let you hide the expansion gap with the skirting board and avoid having to use beading trim. This will give a really crisp finish.

When preparing chipboard floors, always ply-line the floor with a solid 6mm-thick plywood. However high quality it may be, all chipboard can shrink. Ply lining will stabilize the floor perfectly. Once the ply is securely fixed, apply a feather finish and scratch-coat the floor with a trowel. This will fill in all the minor holes where the nail heads have fired through the ply, while also filling in any hairline joins.

Coming back to concrete floors: Depending on the type of levelling compound used, it may also be necessary to prime the floor with a primer. There are certain levelers that dry so hard their tensile strength has a grabbing effect on the subfloor. If not properly bonded with a primer, the compound can dome up and pop off the floor. This can result in lumps, which will result in the new floor being ruined. Always read the instructions on the sub-floor levelling products and don't cut corners.

2. Make an Entrance: Mats Matter
While hardly glamorous, entrance matting is not to be forgotten or skimped on if the property is to be well kept. Gowling gives his opinion on choosing a more modern mat:

"Coconut matting was popular for a while, but because it's very thick and it can lead to the need for doors to be trimmed to accommodate it, which is a lot of trouble to go to for something as boring as a doormat. It also sheds thick hairs, which end up getting trampled throughout the property.

"Dark brown or anthracite ribbed matting makes a great alternative. This stuff comes in a 2m-wide roll, so make sure enough is ordered to cover your hall from one end to the other. Fit it as far into your hallway as possible and it'll grab more dirt, and also reduce the amount of actual flooring needed."

3. Take Your Stairs to the Next Level
This is where the real fun begins! The true measure of any house is in the care taken with its least interesting spaces. Stairs and halls must look nothing less than beautiful. Prep all hallway floors, and for the primary flooring material, fit some wood-effect luxury vinyl tiles, and go one step further by framing all the areas with a border.

Fit staircases with a decent-quality carpet on a tough underlay, like Cloud 9 Contract. This will minimize noise and provide cushioning underfoot, which instantly improves the standard of the home. A spongy underlay can cause carpets to go saggy on the stairs over time.

4. Bathrooms and Kitchens: The Vinyl Solution
Kitchens and bathrooms always take a beating—particularly in shared houses—so poor flooring choices in these areas can look ragged and tired within a year. Ceramics may be a longer lasting solution, but they often take damage—accidents happen, and a chipped or cracked floor can become a problem to repair.

Laminates and wooden floors are simply not worth the risk in wet areas. As laminate is made from a high-density fiber board (HDF) core, water will find its way into any cracks, causing your boards to swell up. Gowling heartily recommends luxury vinyl flooring as an alternative.

5. Bedrooms
The obvious choice for any bedroom is a nice soft carpet for maximum warmth and comfort; however, its installation needn't be overthought. For smooth subfloors, a felt-backed carpet can provide a low-cost solution. They're inexpensive, quick to fit, don't require a gripper or underlay, and are easy to switch if a new color is required.

To maintain the tough flooring theme running into the bedrooms, go for a laminate, a wood, or—again—a luxury vinyl tile. This hard-wearing flooring option will retain its fresh look for years.

"While luxury vinyl tile might cost double what a laminate or carpet may cost, it will last five times longer and bring in loads of benefits—especially if you're doing up a rental property. You can expect to increase your capital growth, your rent, your rental security, and, most importantly, easier sleep knowing you've built yourself a beautiful property that are a cut above the rest," says Gowling.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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All Hail Fall! But Is Your Home Ready?

October 17, 2017 7:27 am

As we usher in sweater weather and pumpkin spice lattes, it's important to take the time to make sure our homes are ready to transition to cooler weather before the harsh days of winter are upon us. The experts at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors make it easy by offering the following fall prep checklist. Tick these off in between your apple-picking and leaf-peeping:

1. Seal and caulk. Survey your home for gaps where heat can escape and water can seep through. Common problem areas include exterior door and window frames, and gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home.

2. Check the roof. Get out the binoculars and check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. You want to catch any issues before winter storms take their toll. If you spot anything that looks like a problem, call in a professional inspector right away and find out what repairs need to be done.

3. Unclutter gutters. Now is the time to get rid of all that debris that piled up in your gutters over the summer. Check the seams between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts. Pillar To Post suggests looking into leaf guards, which can be real time savers if your gutters can accommodate them.

4. Tuck hoses away. If winter temps in your area drop below freezing, be sure to drain garden hoses and store them indoors. Shut off outdoor faucets and drain exterior pipes and sprinkler systems.

5. Schedule a furnace check-up. Before peak heating season hits, schedule an inspection for your furnace. According to Pillar To Post, most utility companies will provide basic inspections at no charge, but there can often be a long waiting list. While you’re waiting, replace disposable furnace air filters or clean permanent ones. come fall and winter. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type. Clean filters will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and energy.

6. Ditto for the chimney. Now is also the time to schedule a cleaning for your chimney. Creosote build-up must be removed in order to prevent chimney fires.

Source: Pillar To Post Home Inspectors

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Get a Handle on Your Safety Valves

October 16, 2017 7:27 am

Few things are more important to a homeowner than knowing how to quickly and safely shut off utilities, says Paul K. Improta, president and CEO of Connecticut's Underwriters, Inc.

Improta says all of the adults in your home should know how to immediately locate and shut off any gas, electricity and water systems in case of an emergency. Not knowing where to immediately find these shut-offs could put a homeowner and anyone inside the residence at risk.

Improta suggests sharing a few utility shut-off procedures from Ready.gov with everyone in your household to help prevent property damage or personal injury.

Shutting off the Gas - Gas leaks can be life-threatening, so it's important to act fast. If you smell gas, hear hissing or suspect a leak for any reason, open a window and quickly get your family to safety. Call for help, and, if possible, disrupt the gas supply using the outside valve. Procedures vary, so contact your gas company ahead of time for meter-specific guidance. Remember, once the valve has been closed, it should only be reopened by a qualified professional.

Cutting off Electricity - Before making household repairs, stop the flow of electricity by accessing your home's circuit breaker or fuse box. To locate the panel, look for a gray metal box, typically concealed in a garage, laundry room or closet. Identify the main circuit breaker if you need to power down the whole house or use branch circuits to de-energize individual appliances.

Turning off the Water - In the event of a broken pipe or full-blown disaster scenario, find the main shut-off valve. In cold weather climates, the water shut-off is usually placed in a basement or front closet. You can also check the outer perimeter of your home for a hose bibb faucet or meter box. To repair minor leaks to a toilet or sink, cut the water at the source.

While you can't prepare for every possible emergency situation, learning these key utility shut-offs is an easy way to keep your home and family safer.

Learn more at www.ready.gov/safety-skills.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Your Pet Prepared for an Emergency?

October 16, 2017 7:27 am

As recent natural disasters have shown us, anything can happen anywhere, anytime. And while the impact can be devastating to life and property, there are also our furry family members to consider. Would you be ready to properly care for your pet should a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other emergency occur? 

In his recent blog for the Pet Health Network, Dr. Mike Paul, DVM, offers some great strategies for keeping your pet safe during a natural disaster:

Microchipping – The best way to make sure you're reunited with your pet should you get separated during an emergency is a microchip.

According to Paul, animals instinctively flee from terror or you could be forced to evacuate and leave your pet behind. These pets are often rescued and end up in an overwhelmed animal shelter post-event. Without the proper identification—at the very least a collar and ID tag—the odds of reuniting with your pet are slim. A permanent microchip implant is the best option, of course, as it can't be lost.

Proper transport – In the event of an evacuation, make the process easier by having the right-sized carrier or cage for cats and small dogs, or a sturdy leash and harness for larger dogs.

Food and water – Just like you have a food and water supply available for you and your human family, make sure you're prepared for your pets, as well. Be prepared with a few sealed gallons of water and a sealed container of food, says Paul.

Make sure vaccinations are current and keep a record with you – Keep a small card or folded document in your wallet so that it's with you at all times. According to Paul, your pet's exposure risk may be much greater after a disaster.

Pet meds – Just like people, many pets rely on daily medications. Have a five-day supply at the ready should you need to leave your home.

Nerve busters – Understandably, an emergency situation can cause great anxiety for pets, so be sure to grab their favorite blanket or toy to help soothe them during the disruption.  

Of course, the best step you could take to prepare is to check with your vet. He or she will have more specific advice based on the particular needs of your pet.  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Honeymoon

October 16, 2017 7:27 am

For most, a honeymoon is one of the most memorable trips you ever make. Newly married and with the stress of the wedding behind you, you're able to relax and enjoy time with your new spouse. But not every honeymoon spot is created equal, and different locations will be a better fit for different personalities. Are you adventurous and interested in outdoor time, or would you rather sit by the pool with a good book? Below are a few factors to consider, from travel resource Vacation.

Budget: How strict is your honeymoon budget? Do you have enough money available for unexpected expenses on the trip, or would you rather know up front what you will be paying?

Drinks: Do you want to start the day with a mimosa, drink a piña colada by the pool at noon, see the sunset on the beach with a mai tai in hand, and then enjoy a multi-course dinner with wine? Or are you satisfied with just the occasional beer?

Activities: As a couple, do you like time to relax on vacations and forget about the stress of everyday life (and even weddings!), or do you want to be active?

Adventure: Is your dream honeymoon all about a lush, luxury resort, or would you and your betrothed rather focus on sightseeing and just have a comfy place to sleep at night?

Entertainment: Do you love the nightlife scene, or would you rather enjoy quiet evenings away from all the hustle and bustle?

Source: Vacation

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How to Turn Your Garage Into Living Space

October 13, 2017 12:18 pm

If you’re looking to add a little more usable space to your home without tackling a major addition, you might want to look to your garage. Here are some important considerations to think about first:
  • Are you currently using your garage? This may seem obvious, but start by thinking about how much you actually use your garage to park your car and as storage space for tools and lawn equipment. If you don’t have alternatives for parking and storage, turning the garage into living space isn't a great option.
  • What would you use the space for? While a garage might be perfect for a play space for your kids, an exercise room, or a makeshift office, it’s not necessarily ideal for a guest room. You only want to renovate to the extent that you’ll be able to use the space as a garage again if and when you want to.
  • Will minimal adjustments do the trick? To make sure your garage can quickly convert back to a garage when you want it to, create a space that only needs minimal renovations, such as synthetic flooring, an external heating/cooling unit, some finished walls and a fresh coat of paint. Then add an area rug and the necessary furniture and you’re all set.
  • What does zoning allow? Most importantly, find out what zoning will allow for in your town. And be sure to return your room to its status as usable garage space if and when you choose to put your home on the market, as the number of garages will impact the sales price.
Hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any real estate information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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There's No Such Thing As a Vacation From Social Media

October 13, 2017 12:18 pm

If you didn't post it on your social media channels, did it even happen? As social media continues to influence the way people travel, the recently released Travelzoo® Fall Travel Trends Survey uncovered that travelers are finding themselves at a crossroads between FOMO (fear of missing out) and the desire for relaxation, torn between their need to share their vacation adventures on social media and a wish to digitally disconnect while away.

FOMO, in fact, appears to be impacting travel decisions, as more than half (53 percent) of respondents said they feel pressure to book unique or exotic vacations, and 40 percent feel pressure to take more adventurous vacations. In fact, adventure is a growing theme among travelers, with one in six respondents feeling compelled to be more adventurous than they really are, while one in three (34 percent) feel a vacation is actually wasted without adventurous experiences. Younger travelers were most likely to say they felt they had wasted time on vacation, with 24 percent of millennials and 29 percent of Gen Xers saying they didn't experience enough at their vacation destination.

Much of this drive for fun is influenced by how vacation photos translate on social media. Nearly half (47 percent) of those surveyed agree that social media is driving up the need to experience more on vacation, and almost a third (30 percent) of travelers are booking trips based on whether they think the destination or activity will serve up visually compelling social media content.

Despite the desire to put up a positive and exciting front on social media, there's a growing interest in trips that allow travelers to disconnect even more. In fact, half of respondents said cutting digital ties enhances the appeal of a trip. Rationale for wanting to cut the cord was due to feeling they check email too often (28 percent), are jaded by the news (27 percent), and feel too tied to a phone (22 percent). With the mounting stresses of everyday life, it's not surprising that the top goals of most travelers are still relaxing (56 percent) and enjoying great food (44 percent).

Regardless of age, nearly half of respondents (44 percent) feel an original or meaningful experience is important when booking a vacation. Spiritual benefits or personal growth resonates with a quarter of all respondents, with Gen Zers (58 percent) and millennials (39 percent) placing more emphasis on those outcomes than baby boomers (18 percent) or those born before 1946 (28 percent).

Source: Travelzoo

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The 4 Ds of a Successful Open House

October 13, 2017 12:18 pm

If you recently listed your home for sale, your real estate agent might be planning to host an open house in the near future. Here are some ways you can help your home put its best foot forward:
  1. Depersonalize. Put away all personal photos, drawings from your children that are hanging on the fridge, birthday cards on the mantel and anything else that too closely connects you to your home. You want potential buyers to envision it as their home, and they can’t effectively do that if your presence is too pervasive.
  2. Declutter. This seems obvious, but we’re talking about more than just straightening up. Decluttering means getting rid of as much as you possibly can, making kitchen and bath counters, dining and accent tables, bureaus and bookcases as stark as possible. All you want to leave in place is the minimum necessary for décor, i.e., a vase of flowers, a coffee-table book or two, or an attractive bowl of sea shells…but not too many.
  3. Deodorize. Don’t try to cover up offensive smells with a spray or scented candle. Instead, get rid of them altogether with a deep clean. Call in a professional, if necessary. Bear in mind, you’ve gotten used to your home’s odors—good and bad—so adhere to your agent’s third-party opinion.
  4. Depart. Unless your agent instructs otherwise, make sure you’re not around for the open house. You want prospective buyers to freely inspect the ins and outs of your home and ask questions at will, without your potentially inhibiting presence. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Your Home Prepared for an Emergency?

October 13, 2017 12:18 pm

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that Mother Nature is unpredictable and fierce, and that no one is safe from her path.

But there are steps every homeowner could and should take to prepare for a natural disaster. Gold Medal Service, a New Jersey-based heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company advises taking the following steps to make sure your home is storm-ready:

Waterproof low-lying areas. Basements are particularly susceptible to water issues, so look into a variety of solutions, such as pump systems, waterproof sprays and interior drainage systems. 

Install or inspect generators. While going without power may seem like an inconvenience, it’s actually a serious safety issue. A backup generator is a great alternative power source, however, make sure it's professionally installed and periodically inspected.

Have your heating system inspected. Make sure the flues and vents throughout your heating systems are clean and clear of debris. Blocked vents can cause a dangerous carbon monoxide build-up in your home. Have a professional conduct the inspection if you're unsure how to do so.

Install and inspect alarms. Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are a life-saving must, however, if they're not functioning properly, it defeats the purpose. Make sure the batteries are fresh, and bring in a professional inspector to ensure everything is working properly.   

In addition to having your home’s systems inspected and ready to go, have the following in place for you and your family:
  • Water, flashlights, extra food and other necessities, such as medicines and eyeglasses
  • A solar charger for your cellphone
  • A battery-powered radio
  • A list of your city's emergency shelters
  • An updated insurance policy with adequate coverage
  • A rehearsed plan for what your family will do in the event of an emergency 
Source: Gold Medal Service

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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