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RE/MAX 440
Susan Langenstein
423 North Main Street
Doylestown  PA 18901
 Phone: 267-446-6201
Office Phone: 215-348-7100
Toll Free: 800-360-7100
Cell: 267-446-6201
Fax: 267-354-6816 
susanlangenstein@comcast.net
Susan Langenstein

My Blog

Painting Professionals Top Choice for Homeowners

January 8, 2015 1:15 am

According to home network Porch.com, painters ranked highest for homeowner searches in 2014. This search term was followed closely by plumbers and handymen.

"It's no surprise that painters show up so high in the results," said Asha Sharma, Porch. "Painting is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to freshen up a home. For home sellers, interior and exterior painting provides a really good return on investment as you prepare to sell. On the homebuyer side, painting is a great way to add some personal touch whether it's repainting interior walls or improving the exterior curb appeal."

In addition to painters, plumbers and handymen scored big given the yearlong need for homeowners to solicit their services. Whether homeowners need help with projects like appliance installation, pipe repairs, or water heater maintenance, plumbers are a need that every homeowner is likely to encounter along their home journey. On a similar note, handymen and handywomen are often called about to help homeowners complete numerous projects around the home.

The remaining popular searches included:
  • Electrician
  • Roofer
  • General Contractor
  • Landscaper
  • Carpenter
  • HVAC Contractor
Interestingly enough, these results were relatively the same across the country, with each of the four major regions seeking similar services.

Source: Porch.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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U.S. a Magnet for Foreign Real Estate Investment in 2015

January 7, 2015 1:15 am

According to a recently released survey by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), the U.S. housing market will continue to appeal to foreign investors in the coming year. The survey, in its 23rd year, indicated that more than 90 percent of international investor respondents are planning to maintain or increase the size of their U.S. portfolio in 2015.

“As it periodically has been in the past, the United States is currently the target of much of the foreign investment in real estate globally,” said Thomas Arnold, AFIRE. “With a stable and transparent market and an economy that appears to be steadily improving without the fits and starts experienced in other regions, the U.S. has become the first stop for foreign real estate investors.”

By a wide margin, the U.S. was voted the most stable and secure country for investment and capital appreciation. Investors ranked multi-family as their preferred property type.

Two-thirds of survey respondents expect China to become the largest source of inbound capital to the U.S. in 2016 and beyond, with 72 percent expecting investments to be long-term, permanent inflow.

Source: AFIRE

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Most Popular Green Home Features

January 7, 2015 1:15 am

(BPT) - One of the top trends driving today's housing market is the demand for energy-efficient homes. If you're looking to purchase a new home, green features can save money both now and in the future.

Buyers can expect these upgrades to remain popular in 2015:

Tight Construction
– When searching for new construction, the building process is often as important as the features included. Buyers are looking for tight construction, with no drafty holes, cracks or seams.

Low-emissive Windows
– Double-paned windows with low emissivity (low-e) are on most buyer wish lists. Some versions come equipped with advanced window coatings that retain heat during winter and release it during summer, and block UV rays that may discolor carpets and furniture.

All-over Insulation – Homebuyers are seeking extra insulation at home, including the walls, roof and flooring. Properly installed insulation that meets national code requirements will better regulate temperatures at home, so the furnace and air conditioner won’t have to run unnecessarily. The result is lower utility costs across the board and a quieter, more comfortable home.

Atmosphere-controlling Upgrades – According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, space heating accounts for 41.5 percent of an average household’s energy consumption. To combat this statistic, buyers are looking for efficient heating and cooling systems, such as a heat pump, to reduce their impact environmentally and financially.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Brace Your Home for Frigid Weather

January 7, 2015 1:15 am

With record lows reported across the country, it’s no surprise that families will be staying indoors this winter. If you’re a homeowner, the best way to brace your home before the next wave of freezing temperatures is to control the humidity inside.

When relative humidity (RH) drops at home, moisture is pulled from anywhere it can be sourced – including people. This can cause uncomfortable issues such as dry skin and static shocks. A lack of humidity can also wreak havoc at home, causing failure of electronics, cracking of wood floors or damage of furniture. To avoid these dry air effects, add humidity back into your home with a humidifier.

Despite the initial cost, humidifiers can lower heating bills. Humidifying your home while the furnace is on creates a more comfortable atmosphere at a lower temperature. According to Energy.gov, turning down a thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating costs by up to 15 percent each year. In short, keeping your thermostat down and your humidifier on can add up to big savings.

Many homeowners have benefitted from a whole house-humidification system, which adds moisture to every room using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, these automated systems continually monitor humidity levels to adjust moisture output based on factors such as indoor and outdoor temperature. The best part? These automated systems continually monitor humidity levels, so there will be no condensation on windows or walls.

Source: Aprilaire

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Tips for Weight Loss Goals

January 6, 2015 1:12 am

Is weight loss at the top of your New Year’s resolution list? Beat the odds with these tips from the Calorie Control Council.

1. Be realistic. Losing ten pounds in two weeks is probably not going to happen. Most people don’t gain weight overnight – the same applies for losing it. Set a realistic goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week.

2. Pare down goals. Set intermittent goals to stay motivated. Instead of mapping out a plan for weight loss for the entire year, select a target weight to be attained by June.

3. Make substitutions.
Cutting 150 calories a day over the course of a year can result in a five to ten pound loss. Opt for lower calorie meals at restaurants and replace sugar with low calorie sweeteners at home.

4. Change your lifestyle. Swearing off carbs and desserts may be doable for a month or so, but it’s probably not something most people can stick with long term. Make changes that you can live with to maintain your weight loss moving forward.

5. Stay active. Hitting the gym or hiring a personal trainer are great, but come at a cost. Sneak in physical activity by parking farther away from the store, walking children to a play date and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Source: Calorie Control Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What's Next for Smart Homes

January 6, 2015 1:12 am

With more manufacturers pushing the envelope in smart home design, homeowners can expect a fully connected home in the not-so-distant future. From donation-enabled laundry to intelligent kitchen surfaces, find out what the experts at Whirlpool have in store for the “home ecosystem.”

Expanding on the popular digital cook top concept, the brand predicts a concept cooking environment and fully connected, social media hub that syncs devices and all your kitchen appliances. One possible innovation is an interactive backsplash with the potential to:
  • Connect to social networks and favorite websites
  • Store recipe cards in digital format
  • Track refrigerator inventory and create grocery lists
  • Keep tabs on expected guests with GPS
Whirlpool also anticipates the debut of thoughtful appliances that work for homeowners and the greater good. Laundry, for example, could become an act of charity with apps that automate donations for every load. Washers may also come equipped with at-home quiet modes triggered by a smartphone, and varied cycles for specialized clothing like active wear, infant clothing or hand-wash fabrics.

Source: Whirlpool

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Resolve to Save on Homeowners Insurance This Year

January 6, 2015 1:12 am

Trimming frivolous expenses is a popular New Year’s resolution for many, but if you’re a homeowner, there are greater opportunities to cut costs. Save smart this year with these tips from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

1. Raise your deductible.
An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25 percent on your annual premium. Ask your insurer about all available discounts.

2. Insure for rebuilding cost, not real estate value. The amount for which you can buy or sell a home fluctuates, but insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home – not the sale price. Make sure you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace all of your belongings in the event of a disaster.

3. Avoid dropping your flood insurance. It seems counterproductive to saving money, but damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. With 90 percent of all natural disasters involving some form of flooding, it’s worth researching flood zones and insurance costs and possibly elevating the structure.

4. Seek out satisfactory experiences.
When selecting an insurance provider, enlist family and friends for recommendations. Their suggestions may point to a company with more costly policies, but sound finances and superior customer service will ultimately save you money.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Tips for First-Time Tax Filers

January 5, 2015 1:09 am

(BPT) - Unless you majored in accounting, the thought of filing your own income tax return may evoke feelings similar to your first job interview. Though understandable, this is an unfounded fear, given the simple taxes most individuals have in their early to mid-20s and the easy digital tax programs available.

“All you need to file your own tax return is a little self-confidence, the desire to get your maximum refund, and a computer or mobile device," says TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. “You're well qualified to do your taxes because you're the expert of your finances."

Follow these tips to successfully file your taxes for the first time and every year after that.

Don’t procrastinate.
Waiting until the last minute causes undue stress, and rushing increases the potential for typos and overlooked information. While you can do your taxes in one fell swoop, it's unnecessary. Online tax programs save as you go, so you can stop and finish at your leisure. You may reap benefits from starting early because many tax programs point out potential savings requiring action before December 31 or April 15.

Compare tax products before using them.
Read expert and user reviews. Look at the situations and tax forms each includes, as some require you to upgrade for certain forms. If you have to file a state return, compare prices. Using a mobile filing app? Choose one that also provides access to your data on a browser for convenience and peace of mind in case you lose your smartphone or tablet.

Gather all forms and documents.
Before starting your return, compile all tax forms and documents, including:
  • Form W-2 from your employer (Received by January 31)
  • Form 1099 if you're self-employed or a contractor
  • Form 1098-E from your lender if you've paid student loan interest (Even if you don't receive this form, you can still deduct interest paid.)
  • Form 1098-T for tuition paid and scholarships or grants received
  • Statements for retirement savings accounts
  • Receipts for charitable donations
After filing, keep these papers or make electronic copies to save with a copy of your return.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Resolution You Can Keep All Year: The One-Day Identity Checkup

January 5, 2015 1:09 am

(BPT) - Exercise. Lose the weight. Answer every incoming email.

Those are the hard kinds of New Year's resolutions, because you have to think about them every day for the rest of the year. Many are forgotten long before Valentine's Day.

But here's one important resolution, one you can fulfill today and easily keep all year: protect your identity.

Identity theft is a fast-growing crime, but there are ways to reduce your chances of being a victim. The identity theft protection experts at LifeLock recommend doing these five quick things today to help keep your identity safer all year long:

Use safe passwords

Are you among the people who use simple passwords like "123456" or "qwerty" or "abc123" to protect your personal information? Or even the word "password" itself? Many people do, so identity thieves can often break in just by trying the most popular passwords.

To create a safer password, avoid using words that are in the dictionary. And stay away from your own personal information, like a nickname, pet's name or birthdate. One option is to come up with a memorable phrase that includes numbers and symbols, and use the first letter of each word. "My Tigers are Number One in Football!" might become "MTaN1iF!" - a good example because it uses capital letters, lower-case letters, a number and a symbol.

Use multiple passwords

Stop using the same password for every account. Several big companies and websites have recently had their users' personal information stolen by hackers. If your password for one site is compromised, and you use the same password for your bank and credit accounts, it's much easier for a thief to get into all of them.

At least have a different password for each account that has personal or financial information. And consider using a password-management program, which lets you set more cryptic passwords for each site you visit and control them with one master password.

Stash that Social Security card

Do you carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet? Don't.

You may, on a rare occasion, need to show a Social Security card to an employer or a government agency. Aside from those days, keep it locked up in a safe place. Your Social Security number is a thief's ticket to everything from opening new accounts in your name to stealing your tax refund. Don't run the risk of losing it.

Protect your mail

Do your bank statements, credit card bills and utility invoices arrive by mail? If your mailbox is outside your house, thieves can take those bills and collect personal information that helps them steal your identity. And once those documents are in your house and no longer needed, they can be stolen from a trash can or recycling bin.

First, if your mail is delivered outside your home, install a locked mailbox. And use a shredder, or the shredding services offered by local shipping stores and some credit unions, to destroy documents once they're no longer needed.

But you can also take steps to keep that paperwork from ever arriving at your home in the first place. Have bills sent to you electronically; you'll get them by email, save paper, reduce clutter and never have to worry about stolen mail or shredding. Opt out of credit card and insurance offers by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com. And dramatically reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive by opting out of junk mail at www.dmachoice.org.

Be prepared for a loss


If your wallet or purse is stolen, you'll want to cancel all of your credit and debit cards before they can be misused. Keep a copy of each of your cards, or use a digital wallet program like LifeLock Wallet, which is available for your smartphone from the iOS and Android app stores. It gives you instant access to copies of your cards and also helps you track your balances, monitor transactions and cancel cards that are lost or stolen.

Do these things today and you can proudly declare that you'll keep at least one New Year's resolution all year long: Protecting your identity.

Source: LifeLock

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spruce Up Your Home this Year

January 1, 2015 1:00 am

(BPT) - Making a New Year's resolution is common, and many people set goals for ways to improve themselves. If you have set a goal to lose weight, learn a new skill or get promoted, congratulations. But while you are striving to attain your personal goal, have you ever thought of setting a goal to refresh your home in a way that will have your friends talking?

Setting a home improvement goal is more common than you may think and you can make a dramatic improvement to your home with a complete remodel. You can take on several smaller projects - any time of the year - that will leave you loving your home all year long. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

* A fresh coat of paint. Nothing reinvents a room like a fresh coat of paint. Yet many people put off painting a room because they can't afford professional painters and they don't have time to do the job themselves. But you can achieve that professional quality finish at a fraction of the time and cost by visiting RentalHQ.com and renting your own paint sprayer. Use your sprayer to add a neutral color, which provides visual appeal and works with most furniture patterns, leaving you plenty of decorating options.

* Change hardware. Faucets and cabinet hardware can quickly date a room. Replacing hardware can add beauty to your kitchen without adding a lot of extra cost. Be sure to find knobs and pulls that are the same size as the existing ones so you don't have to re-drill the cabinets. Do this for any furniture and in any room for an instant decor face-lift.

* Replace old tile. Outdated tile can make a bathroom look old and dull. Replacing it with new tile that is in style will give the space a rich, modern look. Tiling is a DIY project that anyone can tackle with the right tools. Rent the necessary items like a tile stripper, a tile saw and a mortar mixer to keep your costs down.

* Update curtains and blinds. Textiles play a major role in the overall decorating scheme of a room. New window treatments offer an inexpensive way to introduce bold color and patterns for an instant refresh. Pair your new curtains with decorative throw pillows for a striking impact to the living room.

* Recreate your flooring. If your carpet doesn't need to be replaced but it could use a little refreshing, cleaning your carpets will do the trick. If you can't afford to hire professional carpet cleaners or you feel like taking on the project yourself, renting a carpet cleaner can give your carpets the professional look you've been dreaming of. And if you have hardwood floors that need to be refurbished, renting a floor sander is an excellent first step for this project.

Home improvement projects do not have to include a complete overhaul to provide a new look. These smaller projects will dramatically improve your home all year long. To learn more about the tools you can rent for your next project and to see more ways those tools can help you, visit rentalhq.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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