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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

Traveling in 2015? Here's What You Can Expect

September 24, 2014 1:28 am

Planning ahead is always a wise travel move, and it's certainly not too early to start thinking about making plans for 2015. Before booking their next trip, travelers should consider the travel industry trends that will shape 2015 so they can make the most enjoyable and cost-effective travel decisions. Keep in mind these 10 upcoming travel trends.

1. Rates and occupancy levels will be higher, especially in major cities and upscale hotels, due to the recovering economy. Do your research to find deals on higher-end hotels, and of course book early.

2. Travelers going to Europe will increase as Americans start spending more again on travel, and inter-Europe travel also rises. Look at traveling to Europe during the off seasons of 2015 for the best deals.

3. The one trend that doesn't change is booking in advance. Promotions to encourage early bookings will grow. Hotels use these to sell rooms by offering deals that are valid for just a few hours, typically for stays anytime.

4. Specialty vacations will continue to increase and become much more mainstream. Consumers are looking to blend their interests and activities with their travels, and vacations that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/yoga/health will see big growth in 2015.

5. Similarly to other industries, companies will find ways to make travel and travel offers more personalized for individuals. Vendors in 2015 will try to match their offers to consumers' specific needs and wants, which creates a win-win where travelers are more likely to enjoy their trips, and vendors make more sales.

6. There will be more ways to book travel in 2015, including unpublished rate programs.

7. From purchasing rooms and airfare to mobile-based check-ins, the industry will shift to allow consumers to be more in charge. This means mobile functions as well as automation, such as replacing room service with 24/7 grab-and-go options and self-luggage check in.

8. Mobile dominates travel. Airlines and hotel operators will have to accommodate the desires of mobile travelers who expect to be able to complete bookings through apps, pull boarding passes, and perform nearly any other function. Easier access to charging will also need to be addressed.

9. Value will be a focus for leisure travelers. Consumers always want to feel like they are receiving good value for their money. This doesn't always mean rock bottom pricing, but includes other aspects such as location, amenities, convenience and more.

10. A trend that combines the need for mobile-friendly travel with "value" is for hotels to offer free (and fast) Wi-Fi. Travelers simply expect to be connected whenever they are at a hotel, and free Wi-Fi can be more important than any other amenity. It's one of the most requested hotel perks, and hotel review sites are filled with notes about Wi-Fi (or lack thereof).

Source: GetaRoom.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Home Inspection Primer Pt. 1 - The Seller's Advantage

September 24, 2014 1:28 am

Every month, I chat with real estate pros and related service providers about issues affecting many consumers and homeowners. One of the most frequent areas of discussion involves home inspections.

Nothing may have greater impact on both a seller or buyer than the home inspection. If it's done right, both parties can benefit - but if a home inspection is done poorly, it could haunt both the buyer and seller for a long time after the closing.

The site helpinghomesellers.com offers a wealth of good information regarding home inspections. In the next couple of segments, we'll relate some of these savvy tips on home inspections.

According to this consumer information site, a home inspection can be helpful to a seller because it shifts some of the liability over to the inspector. If a problem the inspector missed (that the seller was unaware of) arises at a later date, they may have a legitimate defense if the new buyer has a serious complaint.

Inspectors document existing problems, issues and anything that remotely looks like a potential problem. Then they present a written list of the areas inspected and of “concerns” to the buyers, who may be present to learn about maintenance recommendations.

So is it best to have everything repaired before the inspection? Not necessarily, according to helpinghomesellers.com.

If homeowners have a few minor problems that are not obvious, but an inspection would catch them, consider holding off on their repair.

Why not repair these? Repairing these "hidden" types of things in advance won't earn sellers many points.

If they are discovered (and they might not be), a seller can enhance the possibility of closing the sale by agreeing to have small items like a broken toilet or unstable downspout repaired.

Don't forget, even a house in "perfect" condition will likely produce something on a report to reassure potential buyers that their inspector is doing a professional job. Better they come up with something you were going to fix anyway, rather than to keep digging to come up with something to justify their fee.

Ultimately, helpinghomesellers.com says don't let a few hundred dollars in repair requests be a deal breaker. A seller shouldn't have to start all over again just because a buyer (or their home inspector) is getting the upper hand on this important contingency.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Keep Family Safe from Home's Hidden Hazards

September 23, 2014 1:28 am

(Family Features) In the U.S. alone, approximately 60 million people suffer from asthma and allergies, which can be triggered by mold for those who are allergic. As a responsible homeowner, it’s essential to be aware of the many threats, such as mold and fire, which may cause harm to your family and your investment.

Mold – Mold can grow practically anywhere within the home, and has the ability to produce irritants and allergens that compromise the health of your family. To keep mold-producing moisture out, Lucas Hamilton, building scientist and expert with CertainTeed, suggests:
  • When weather allows, ventilate your home by opening windows and doors to let moisture escape. If necessary, use a fan to allow air to circulate.
  • Because moisture is unavoidable in any home, its presence in the wall cavity is almost inevitable and can be dangerous if not addressed. Your best prevention is with quality insulation that provides a healthier indoor environment by reducing the risk of mold and mildew and improving overall indoor air quality.
  • While you won’t be able to stop rain from creating a wet mess in your basement or crawlspace, you can take action to steer water away. Make sure a proper grade exists in your yard to prevent water from reaching the foundation.
Fire – Beyond investing in quality smoke and fire detectors, there are several other things to consider to keep your home free from flames:
  • Before hanging up a mirror or wall art, make sure you aren’t driving a nail through the wiring in the walls — a danger that accounts for thousands of home fires each year. To avoid this mishap, switch out circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters, which detect sparks and prevent them from blazing.
  • The kitchen is a hot spot for fires to start. Always keep combustible items such as towels, pot holders and cookbooks at least 3-4 feet from burners, the oven and other heat sources.
  • Reduce the risk of fire by having your clothes dryer cabinet professionally cleaned every few years. If enough lint accumulates within the dryer, the heating element within the appliance can start a fire.
Take the proper steps now to avoid unsafe conditions within the home. In the long run, it can save you time, money and even the well-being of your family.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Update Your Bedding with Three Hot Trends

September 23, 2014 1:28 am

Nothing transforms the look of a bedroom faster than new bed linens. Whether you want to create a serene atmosphere, liven up a neutral space or swap your bedding for a seasonal alternative, consider introducing one of this year’s trends – white, stripes or geometric shapes – that fit beautifully with any existing décor.

White – White is the color of soft, pillowy clouds. To avoid that sterile, ‘blank slate’ feel, layer white in varying shades and textures, such as a cream-colored throw blanket, sandy-white pillows or eggshell lampshades.

Stripes
– Typically found in nautical décor, stripes add visual interest and can be preppy, modern or vintage depending on the dimensions of the pattern. Wider widths and vibrant colors make a dramatic statement; pinstripes and muted colors are much more subtle.

Geometric – Geometric-shaped patterns speak volumes about one’s personality, so incorporate according to your style and preferences. Geometric prints on larger areas, such as a comforter, quilt or bed sheets, have greater impact, but smaller geometric bed accessories, such as pillows, have longevity.

Source: ApartmentTherapy.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

September 23, 2014 1:28 am

Is your relationship with your financial advisor productive? Are you confident about your financial decisions after leaving a meeting, or are you left scratching your head at the proposed investment strategy? Take the lead with your financial advisor by asking these five questions.

1. Are we on the same page?
Have you communicated your investment goals clearly to your financial advisor? With a clear goal in mind, outline long-term objectives, as well as your approach to investing. Setting these expectations will help you avoid searching for a new advisor or worse – potentially damaging your portfolio.

2. How will you achieve my financial goals?
Whether you’re seeking to gain returns or minimize your taxes, it’s important that your financial advisor informs you exactly how he or she is going to make those goals a reality. Be wary of false promises – no matter what your advisor tells you, the stock market is unpredictable. Another red flag: your advisor has not reviewed your tax returns.

3. Can you explain this better?
Financial advisors often use professional terms that may or may not resonate with the average investor. While it’s great that they know their stuff, don’t be afraid to ask that he or she explains everything in detail. If a financial plan seems too complex, even after an explanation, request that the plan be condensed so that you adopt a feasible strategy that meets your needs and understanding.

4. What other resources do you have?
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your advisor to direct you to other sources of financial information. Ideally, your advisor will have a list of websites, books or pamphlets to further educate you about your investment options.

5. How often will you contact me?
To keep the lines of communication open, establish a schedule with your advisor for quarterly phone calls, annual meetings, etc. Be sure to state which method of communication you prefer, and whether you want your spouse to be involved in the conversation.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Ways to Avoid Fall Youth Sports Injuries

September 22, 2014 1:28 am

Football, soccer, cheerleading and volleyball are popular fall youth sports activities. As kids settle into the new school year, they're also excited to hit the field again. To help reduce the risk of common injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) offer safety tips to keep kids in the game and out of the doctor’s office.

"Overuse injuries are the most common types of sports-related injuries," said AAOS spokesperson Michael S. George, MD. "Often times the initial aches and pains felt during the progression of an injury are overlooked by young athletes. It's essential to teach them about the importance of informing a coach or parent about pain because an undiagnosed injury can become more severe in the long run."

Here are 10 ways to avoid injury:

1. Have a pre-season physical examination and follow doctor recommendations.
2. Warm up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises like walking or cycling.
3. Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds.
4. Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize muscle cramps. Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate properly.
5. Keep an eye out for unsafe play surfaces. Playing grounds should be in good condition.
6. Don't play through the pain. Speak with a sports medicine specialist or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries.
7. When participating, wear protective gear such as properly fitted cleats, pads, helmets, mouth guard or other necessary equipment for the selected sport.
8. Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries.
9. Pay attention to weather conditions such as wet, slippery fields that can lead to injuries.
10. Avoid the pressure to overtrain. Listen to your body and decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. This will reduce the risk of injury and help avoid "burn-out."

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Reasons Why Seller-Paid Points Matter

September 22, 2014 1:28 am

‘Seller-paid points’ refer to circumstances in which the seller pays points to reduce the interest rate on the buyer’s mortgage. A sample scenario:

A home is listed for $200,000. The seller is willing to accept $193,000. If the seller reduced the price to $193,000, the buyer would be able to purchase and both would walk away happy. However, if the price remained $200,000, the buyer could ask the seller to contribute $7,000 in closing costs – and both would still walk away happy.

The latter is much more beneficial. Here are four reasons why seller contribution to closing costs benefits the buyer.

1. Your interest rate and monthly payment will be lower.
Interest rates and monthly payments are always lower (rates typically 0.5 percent-0.75 percent lower) when the seller pays closing costs instead of reducing the price.

2. It’s easier to qualify for a mortgage. Because your interest rate and monthly payments are lower, your debt ratio may also be low, resulting in an easier approval process.

3. You’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan.
Your total savings will likely be more with seller-paid points – often 2-3 times more.

4. The IRS allows free tax deductions.
The IRS accepts tax deductions for seller paid-points, meaning you can claim $7,000 in closing costs that year, even though they were paid by someone else on your behalf.

Source: HomeQB.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Signs You Are Ready to Invest in Real Estate

September 22, 2014 1:28 am

When it comes to property investment, timing is everything. Ultimately, choosing the right time to enter the market will have a significant impact on the long-term success of your investment.

But how can you as an investor know whether the timing is right? Global property portal Lamudi has compiled a list of 10 tell-tale signs that now is the time to start building your investment portfolio.

1. You are financially ready. You have saved enough for the down payment and you have also established your emergency fund. You have taken into account home maintenance expenses. Your credit history is good and you are able to meet all the financial obligations.

2. You have set your long-term goals. You have a clear picture in your mind of the purpose of your investment and you are flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances. You are not hesitant and when the timing is right, you are able to adapt to the market needs and the development of technologies.

3. You have done your research. You know the neighborhood of your future property well enough to foresee the coming trends and the possible changes in the community. You have researched all the schools in the area as well as the best commuting means and you are able to predict the next homebuyers needs.

4. You have chosen a stable economy. The area is financially stable, economic trends are promising and equities are surging. No demographic fluctuation or no irregular variation of population have been recorded in the area.

5. You understand the country’s policies regarding real estate. The policies of the region promote and encourage a positive, innovative environment as well as drive further economic growth. The tax policy in the country is positive for homeowners. Global innovation index is rising in the area.

6. Infrastructure projects are underway and likely to lead to an increase in property values. The infrastructure of the area is being developed with a focus on: transport, energy, solid waste and water management developments.

7. The region is moving toward sustainable development. The region’s awareness of global and local environmental issues is increasing, the demand for eco-friendly homes as well as for sustainable rural and urban development is rising. As more and more people head toward sustainable living, investing in sustainable property will increase its value in the future.

8. The location draws a lot of interest. Whether it is the best travel destination or the hot jobs spot, the location is always on the top of the search engine. It has become a successful startup hub already or is planning to do so in the coming years, driving a lot of job seekers into the area. The number of enrolled students is increasing every year, the area draws interest of international students.

9. You have found a reliable real estate agent. If you are an overseas buyer, it is particularly crucial to make sure you have a good representative on the ground. Your real estate agent is trustworthy and knows the local market well enough to be able to help you make the choice.

10. You have researched local differences in the property market. Whether you plan to invest in a residential property and turn it into a rental or an office space, you are fully aware of all cultural differences that might occur when you deal with a property seller.

Source: Lamudi

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Social Media Safety for Teens: 6 Tips

September 19, 2014 1:27 am

Going back to school is about more than shiny shoes and trendy notebooks. It's also about kids making new friends and adding those friends on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More than 60 percent of teens in the United States have at least one social media account, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And while being online is a good way to keep in touch with friends, it's important for parents to be proactive about Internet safety.

Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child's personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. Help protect students from online dangers by following these safety tips:

1. Keep your child’s profile private so that only family and people you know see photos, important dates and other information.

2. Make sure they're not posting personal details, like phone numbers, home addresses, the name of their school or Social Security number.

3. Only allow them to publish photos and videos that don't jeopardize their safety or integrity.

4. Make sure they choose a strong password that can't be guessed, and that it gets changed every three months.

5. Never allow them to accept friend requests from people they don't know.

6. Keep an open dialogue with your children. Ask them to let you know if they've received private messages from a stranger, or from someone at school who is teasing, harassing or threatening them.

Source: USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Mix Old Treasures and New Trends at Home

September 19, 2014 1:27 am

(BPT) - It can be difficult to keep up with the latest changes in decorating styles at home, but an increasingly popular design trend may ease the burden, especially if you've kept some family treasures around. Designers are now focused on keeping those traditional accents, furniture pieces or wallpaper and blending them with clean, bright, contemporary elements.

You, too, can incorporate this style in any room of the home, allowing you to display grandmother’s mirror or repurpose aged marble countertops. Use these tips to get the most out of the old and usher in the new:

Accent with white - A great way to give an outdated room a contemporary balance is to accent with white on trim, molding, doors or decorative linens. Blending the soft wood tones of older furniture or dark wood floors with fresh white accents will make the room pop, breathing new life into a treasured heirloom piece you’ve had in your family for years. You can achieve a similar effect in your kitchen with stainless steel finishes.

Add small, vintage touches – Think of ways to repurpose older items. An old six-paned window with cracked and worn wood can become a frame for family photos. Wood from an old barn can be used for a coffee table or fireplace mantel. Mix up the chairs around your dining room table by blending both modern and contemporary styles. These small changes showcase two distinctive styles that work seamlessly together.

Incorporate focal points - If the shell of your room has a contemporary look, add a few traditional elements as conversation pieces. An antique lamp, an old trunk that becomes a side table or a church pew in an entryway can all be attention-getting additions. On the flipside, if your home features traditional wooden floors that have aged beautifully, let the floor take center stage with simple, modern decorations.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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