Stephen M Marchese
RE/MAX 440
Stephen M Marchese
731 W Skippack Pike | Blue Bell, PA 19422
Phone: 215-530-8791 | Office Phone: 215-643-3200 | Fax: 267-354-6216
Cell: 215-530-8791 | email: smarchese@remaxcentralinc.com


My Blog

The Pitfalls of Joint Banking

September 17, 2015 1:07 am

Joint bank accounts are often viewed as an easy way to give financial caregivers the ability to manage money on behalf of older adults. In some cases, they are used so the co-signee inherits the funds upon the death of the primary account holder. However, both parties rarely understand the risks associated with joint accounts - or the alternatives available to them, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation and the AARP.

“At any age, joint accounts may work for some, but we urge you to use caution before signing on the dotted line,” says AARP Chief Public Policy Officer Debra Whitman. “If you don't look before you leap, you could fall into trouble with your finances.”

Before deciding if a joint account is right for you, consider the following factors:

• The co-signee becomes financially responsible for taxes on the account. That means should the primary account holder owe the government back taxes at any point, the co-signee would be just as responsible to the IRS for that money.

• The money is just as much theirs as it is yours. Once someone is listed as a joint account holder, the co-signee and the primary account holder own that money equally in the eyes of a financial institution. Both parties will have the ability to withdraw funds whenever they see fit.

• Creditors can come after those funds. If an account owner were to incur substantial medical bills or face a lawsuit, the funds in the joint account could be used as a liable asset. A creditor might not differentiate between primary account holder and co-signee.

“Setting up a joint account essentially removes the financial firewall between both parties,” says ABA Senior Vice President of Bank Community Engagement Corey Carlisle. “There are often alternatives available that will protect the assets of older customers, as well as those of financial caregivers.”

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Relocating? Follow BBB's Tips to Avoid Problems

September 17, 2015 1:07 am

Consumers across the country have filed more than 8,000 complaints against moving companies in the last year, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Here's five tips from BBB to help your move go as easily—and trouble-free—as possible.

Plan early – summer is high season for movers, especially since an estimated 37 million Americans a year change residences. Reputable movers will want to do an on-site visit before writing up an estimate to see if there are any impediments which may extend the amount of time required to complete the move.

Ask for proof – Reputable movers will be able to show you proof they are registered with the state of operation, and are licensed and insured.

Get Full Value Protection insurance – Under “Release Value” insurance, movers assume liability of no more than 60 cents per pound per article at no extra charge. With Full Value Protection, your mover is liable for the replacement value of any lost or damaged goods. Under this option, they also have the choice of repairing the item, replacing it with a similar item or making a cash settlement offer for the cost of replacing the merchandise at its current market value.

Know your rights – Under federal law, movers are required to give to you a copy of the federal publication “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”.

Visit ProtectYourMove.gov – You will find a wealth of resources from the Motor Safety Carrier Association at ProtectYourMove.gov. This information clearly outlines your rights and can help you make an educated decision before hiring a mover.

The BBB also recommends consumers thoroughly research prospective moving companies at bbb.org before selecting one.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Road Trip: Survey Discovers a Driver Paradox

September 16, 2015 1:07 am

Something’s not adding up. According to a recent survey commissioned by eDriving, nearly twice as many people (85 percent) think they’re “very good” drivers than think the same of their spouse or significant other – in fact, only 33 percent of people grade their spouse or significant other as a “very good” driver.

Hardly anyone admits to being a bad driver – just 2 percent of people classified themselves as “not very good.” These self-evaluations just don’t match the verdicts of the observers who see the most and know the best, says Celia Stokes, CEO of eDriving.

"The discrepancies here point out an interesting and important truth: most drivers are over-confident, and the people who drive with them the most are probably very aware of their bad habits behind the wheel," says Stokes. “All of us who drive know that the drivers around us have more than their share of driving vices, but we may be blind to our own!"

Source: eDriving

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Is It Time for a New Water Heater?

September 16, 2015 1:07 am

(Family Features) Water heaters are energy-intensive appliances. In fact, they are the second largest energy user in the home, and as they age, they become less efficient, according to the Propane Education & Research Council.

If you don't know the age of your current water heater, or think it may be reaching the end of its lifespan, it may be time to replace it, says home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of "Today's Homeowner.” Lipford advises keeping these three factors in mind when evaluating your water heater:

1. Cost
– According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the average family spends $400 to $600 each year on water heating costs, and as an older unit ages, its efficiency continues to erode. Rising water heating costs year after year could be a sign that it's time to replace your unit. By switching to a new energy-efficient water heater or a new energy source, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.

Depending on where you live and how often you use your water heater, a tankless water heater could drastically lower your annual water heating costs compared with electric storage tank models, which are working to heat water even when it's not needed. In comparison tests with electric units, propane-powered tankless water heaters saved more than $300 annually.

2. Lifespan – Most water heaters should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. To make the right choice for replacement, you should factor in the annual cost of ownership, which is the cost of original equipment, installation and expected annual energy costs divided over the unit's lifetime.

Both high-efficiency propane storage tank heaters and tankless models deliver lower annual ownership costs than electric or heating oil. At the same time, tankless water heaters also have a much longer lifespan than storage models -- they can last 5 to 10 years longer than storage water heaters.

3. Carbon Footprint – Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model means reducing your carbon footprint. Compared with standard efficiency electric storage tank models, propane produces two times fewer emissions. The difference amounts to about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of driving a car more than 18,000 miles.

Source: Propane Education & Research Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Tree Mulching Best Done in Fall

September 16, 2015 1:07 am

Tree owners often feel compelled to spray, prune or apply something to their trees and landscape plants on a regular basis. But, unless there is a specific reason, the best thing to do to keep your trees healthy is apply a layer of composted mulch.

“Fall is a great time to be out in the yard spreading shovels full of composted wood-chip mulch under your trees,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Trees with mulched root zones are usually larger, more vigorous, develop faster and have higher rates of survival than plants surrounded by turf grass or bare dirt. Mulches retain soil moisture and reduce erosion and soil compaction.”

Mulched trees also have fewer weeds, which reduces the need for the roots to compete for limited resources. The soil under the mulch also likely stays warmer longer into the winter and also warms faster in the spring, helping extend the growing season for plants. Organic mulches are a favorite among professional arborists. Other organic mulches include bark chips, ground bark, composted lawn clippings, leaves and straw. These mulches are high in cellulose and low in nitrogen, and should be free of weed seeds.

How Wide is Wide?
A good mulch bed should extend out at least three feet from a tree’s trunk in all directions, though extending out to the dripline is preferred. This is where the fine, absorbing tree roots extend out into the soil. Keep organic mulches several inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and diseases.

How Deep is Deep?
The mulch bed depth should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches. If there is grass in the area that needs to be mulched, put a five-page layer of newspaper over the grass, get it wet, then add mulch on top. This will help keep the grass from growing up through the mulch. For poor soils, use well-composted mulch to build up the nutrients. Soils that are healthy will do fine with a highly stable softwood bark (such as cypress bark), which doesn’t break down as easily.

The biggest no-no when mulching is to create a “mulch volcano” that is piled high around the base of the tree. This practice traps moisture around the tree trunk and root flare leading to decay and, eventually, structural failure. Avoid fine mulch – thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and prevent the penetration of water and air. Low oxygen levels (from packed-down mulch) creates a toxic “sour” mulch – which may give off pungent odors, and even worse, the compounds produced (methanol and acetic acid) can kill young plants.

While mulch does decompose, you do not want to accumulate excessive mulch year after year by adding fresh mulch every spring. If you want the look of fresh mulch, break up the old with a rake, and only add a layer of new on top if there is less than 4 inches in depth.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Why Wood Is Good for Custom Builds

September 15, 2015 1:07 am

Because wood construction consumes much less energy than concrete or steel, using wood when building a home can reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly, according to The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative (TheMostNaturalResource.com). "Wood construction is incredibly fast and effective, with the added benefit of producing a building that stores carbon rather than emitting it," says architect Michael Green.

As timber grows, it soaks up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and that carbon is stored in wood products. This creates a carbon sink that helps mitigate climate change. About half of the dry weight of wood is stored carbon. In contrast, 16 percent of global fossil fuel consumption goes into manufacturing steel, concrete and bricks.

Wood's strength-to-weight ratio is comparable to concrete and steel. Engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (glulam) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) make it possible to build taller wood structures. These mass timber construction materials are highly fire-resistant and cost-effective. Prefabricated CLT panels can also be installed quickly, speeding up construction time.

“As global demand for wood continues to increase with population, we need to be sourcing our timber from sustainably managed forests," says Thomas Maness, dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Source: The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

10 Storm Prep Tips to Keep Your Property Safe

September 15, 2015 1:07 am

When severe weather is imminent, homeowners should take every precaution to ensure their properties remain free of damage. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), there are several steps homeowners can take, including:

1. Secure any parts of a fence that appear weakened or loose.

2. Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.

3. When a storm is approaching, move lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, garden tools and other yard objects inside. Anchor heavier yard objects deep into the ground.

4. If you have shutters, closely monitor local weather conditions and make sure you have enough time to deploy them if high winds are predicted to hit your area.

5. Check doors, windows and walls for openings where water can get in. Use silicone caulk to seal any cracks, gaps or holes, especially around openings where cables or pipes enter the house.

6. Place all appliances that are on the ground floor, including stoves, washers and dryers, on masonry blocks or concrete.

7. Move furniture and electronic devices off the floor, particularly in basements and on the first floor level.

8. Roll up area rugs and get them off the floor to reduce the chance they will become wet and grow mold or mildew. This is particularly important if the property will be left unattended for an extended period of time, and if long-term power outages are a possibility.

9. Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh.

10. Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets could possibly be under water.

Source: IBHS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

5 Design Tricks to Revamp Your Home

September 15, 2015 1:07 am

(BPT) – Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to spend a fortune or go to design school to revamp your home. "It's all about simplicity," says Susan Yoder, interior design expert for builder Clayton Homes. "A little goes a long way when it comes to home décor and living spaces. Only a few simple changes can make a big difference and allow you to create a room you'll be itching to show off to friends and family."

To breathe new life into your space, Yoder recommends these tips.

1. Pops of Color. "Nothing livens up a room like a bright pop of color," Yoder says. If you have neutral-toned furniture, add lamps, curtains and accessories in bold hues. If you're up for a painting challenge, an accent wall is a great way to incorporate color into a space. Choose your favorite color from a throw pillow or wall art piece in the room to pull the look together.

2. Varying Textures. A room tends to get boring when it focuses on only one texture, so it's important to create a sense of balance. Try varying the fabric types on your sofa and curtains. Add in some metal or wooden accents to draw the eye around the room. You can even play with lighting to reflect off certain objects and create visual interest.

3. Antique Feature. Choose an antique or unique piece of décor to be the inspiration for the room. This could be a rug, lamp, chair or even a chandelier - anything that gets you energized and motivated. Get creative and run with the theme it creates. Or if your style is more modern, an antique object will stand out among your contemporary décor.

4. Symmetrical yet Functional. The furniture collection in a room should form a restful, symmetrical layout. It's all about balance. There should be between three and 10 feet between each seat. Additionally, instead of pushing each piece up against the wall to create more space, give your furniture a bit of breathing room a few inches from the wall. This makes the room appear open and airy.

5. Clutter-free Organization.
Getting rid of clutter is a grand challenge for most homeowners. When you decide to take on the mess, drawers and cabinets are your best friends. Take some time to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Store any leftover items that can cause clutter in an organized, out-of-sight area.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

The 3 P's of Car Care

September 14, 2015 1:07 am

Maintenance is crucial to your vehicle’s longevity. Whether you’re new to car ownership or a seasoned pro, stick to the three P’s of automotive care, says Rich White, executive director of the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms. Being car care aware and taking proactive steps in advance will help ensure that your vehicle is in proper working order so you will be better prepared if you encounter a problem while on the road,” says White.

The three P’s are:

1. Preventative
– Reduce the chance of unplanned, costly car trouble by following a vehicle service schedule and performing routine maintenance. Motorists can consult the Car Care Council for a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.

2. Proactive – If you find your vehicle needs repairs, be sure to address them in a timely manner to avoid more extensive work down the road. Before traveling longer distances, perform a pre-trip inspection before your journey begins so you have an opportunity to have any repairs made by a trusted technician.

3. Prepared – Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case an unexpected situation arises. The kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets. Be sure your cellphone is fully charged as well.

Source: Car Care Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Watch Your Back: Leaf and Snow Removal Tips

September 14, 2015 1:07 am

(Family Features) Come fall and winter, a bad back (or the fear of throwing out a perfectly good one) can be a hindrance when removing leaves or snow from your property. To keep yourself – and your yard – in peak form, the experts at John Deere recommend using outdoor equipment that is ergonomic, or less taxing on the muscles and joints.

When shopping for an ergonomic rake or shovel, look for models with a secure grip and a height that is comfortable – but bear in mind that the longer the handle, the more energy you’ll need when hefting a load of snow.

When it’s time to rake and bag leaves, consider mulching with your mower to alleviate strain on the back. Be sure to mulch leaves only when they are dry, as mulching wet or damp leaves can cause build up or clumping under the deck of your power equipment.

When it’s time to remove snow, use a riding mower that is compatible with a front blade attachment to push snow out of the way, or a snow blower that is more powerful than the standard single-stage, walk-behind throwers.

Additionally, there are myriad options available for lawn care services, many of which carry over into winter for snow removal. Keep in mind that you may pay a premium for an initial visit, but rates are generally lower when you commit to an ongoing maintenance plan.

Source: John Deere

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags: