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

My Blog

Ceiling Trends That Raise Rooms to New Heights

April 16, 2015 1:27 am

(BPT) - Want to infuse your home with architectural interest? Start at the top, says Brian Patrick Flynn, owner of FlynnsideOut Productions and whose interiors are regularly featured on HGTV.com.

"The ceiling is the most overlooked design element in a space, hands down," says Flynn. "Just like people, rooms need different layers to be one-of-a kind. That includes a ceiling that makes people look up and scan the entire space."

The largest solid surface in a room - besides the floor - is the ceiling. Instead of leaving it bright white or builder beige, convert this blank canvas into a decorative canopy of color and texture with these hot ceiling trends.

Layer on the Luster – Stamped metal ceilings have added shine and sophistication to American homes since they were introduced in the 1880s. Besides beauty, metal ceilings offer practicality. They resist mold and mildew, offer sag resistance and last longer than plaster or drywall. Regardless of the finish, the texture of the tiles creates a tactile top layer to the space.

Mix and Match Styles – Some interior designers are combining different decorating elements at the top, such as inlaying the recesses of coffered ceilings with gold or copper tiles. Flynn says he's also a fan of tongue-and-groove ceilings accented with beams. "This adds a ton of visual interest to the room, and can make it feel much larger.”

Create Character with Wood – From rustic timber to sleek teak, wood hues help set the tone in a room. Besides imparting a sense of warmth, the grains and knots in wood panels add a textural layer that contrasts nicely with smooth surfaces like painted walls and granite countertops.

Add Architectural Depth – Coffered ceilings first appeared in Roman architecture, and their geometric elegance has graced grand buildings ever since. Today, the cost and complexity of building coffered ceilings have been reduced by lightweight materials and easy-to-install prefabricated systems.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

6 Tips for Greener Home Maintenance

April 16, 2015 1:27 am

Did you know certain home maintenance tasks can be a detriment to the environment? If you’re one of the millions of homeowners who have maintenance on the agenda this spring, consider introducing eco-friendliness to your routine. Here are six ways to get started.

Dump toxic cleaners: When spring cleaning indoors, use water-based or organic household cleaners. Do not pour chemicals down the drain – recycle them at your nearest hazardous waste collection center. To find one in your area, visit your state’s website.

Open the windows: Nothing freshens up a home faster than outdoor air. If weather permits, open your windows to allow air from the outside to sweep away harmful indoor pollutants like radon, secondhand smoke and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – the latter are typically found in the building materials of existing homes.

Inspect plumbing
: A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water every day. To conserve water, conduct an inspection of your home’s plumbing system and repair any dripping fixtures immediately. To reduce bills, consider installing a low-flow faucet or shower head in at least one bathroom.

Ready the HVAC system: For those using an A/C this summer, clear the area surrounding the unit of any overgrown shrubbery or debris from winter storms. Obstructions to the unit can lead to increased energy consumption, resulting in higher utility bills.

Restore the lawn
: Patchy areas of your lawn can lead to higher erosion levels if left unrepaired, so restore any grass gaps as soon as possible. To really give your yard a boost and do good for the environment, spread grass clippings on your lawn – the nutrients will benefit the grass underneath and eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.

Compost waste
: If you’d rather not leave clippings on your lawn, consider composting them instead. You’ll save time and money on water usage because composted soil absorbs and holds moisture better than store-bought mulch.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

11 Ways to Boost Your Emergency Fund

April 15, 2015 1:24 am

Personal finance experts tell us everyone needs an emergency fund; a little stash of cash you can tap for unexpected car repairs, a lost or stolen smartphone, or any other little emergency life throws in your path.

But stowing away that stash can be easier said than done. From Lars Peterson, editor of consumer finance blog Wise Bread, here are 11 tips to help you begin:
  • Keep a spending book – track every dollar you spend for a month. Take a close look at the numbers. Where can you eliminate spending and put the savings away?
  • Eliminate budget busters – Can you step down to a cheaper cable package? Drink fewer Starbucks lattes? Use coupons when you shop for groceries and put the dollars you saved away.
  • Renegotiate what you can – Call your service providers and credit card issuers and ask for a cheaper rate. If you don’t get it, shop around.
  • Bank the savings – That’s the key. Once you’ve nipped away at your costs, you need to bank the savings.
  • Sell your old stuff – eBay, Craigslist, even garage sales. Sell the stuff you no longer need and stow the proceeds in your emergency fund.
  • Sell other people’s old stuff – Thrift stores and garage sales offer lots of good, used stuff at prices so low you may be able to resell it on Craigslist or eBay. Be alert to great buys on used household goods, jewelry and more.
  • Get a side job – Can you wait tables? Work retail? Take freelance gigs from Fiverr or TaskRabbit? Working an extra few hours a week can build your fund up fast.
  • Check your withholding – While it's nice to get a check from the IRS every spring, it's nicer to have the money now, going into your emergency fund every month. Use the IRS withholding calculator and adjust accordingly.
  • Offer to walk dogs or babysit for friends or neighbors – Stash the fees into your emergency fund.
  • Rent out your extra room – Make your place available on Airbnb for short-term housemates, or rent a room to a boarder, who may also help out with utilities.
  • Sign up for focus groups – Marketers and pollsters are so interested in what you think that they'll pay for your opinion. Visit a site like FindFocusGroups.com, and earn $50 to $150 for speaking your mind.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

For Some, Eco-Friendly Investments Too Much Green

April 15, 2015 1:24 am

As Earth Day approaches, those seeking to go green may be asking themselves, “At what cost?”

The majority of consumers (81 percent) believe environmentally friendly items are more expensive than non-green products, according to recent research from RetailMeNot.com. Yet 89 percent are willing to purchase at least one kind of product that has a positive impact on the environment, including energy-efficient light bulbs, energy-efficient appliances or electronics.

Big ticket items, however, like solar panels or hybrid and electric vehicles are far less popular eco-friendly investments.

Cost savings are the most effective factor when deciding to purchase green products, with close to one in three consumers likely to buy a green product if it were guaranteed to save them money over time. This opportunity to save far outweighed other factors, like high-quality or being linked to a good cause.

And just what would people do with the extra money they gained from purchasing an energy-efficient or eco-friendly product? Half of consumers would put that money into savings and nearly as many (40 percent) would put it toward bills or pay off debt.

Beyond supporting the green movement with their wallets, a majority of consumers are willing to make small changes in behavior to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, such as turning off lights when leaving a room, turning off water when not in use, recycling plastic, paper or metal, reusing towels before washing, and reusing plastic bottles or containers.

Source: RetailMeNot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

14 Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

April 15, 2015 1:24 am

As the housing recovery continues, kitchens and bathrooms remain the most popular areas for investment by homeowners, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Kitchens, in particular, remain the center of operations within the home, with energy-efficiency, water conversation and healthy home materials topping the list of homeowner must-haves.

“The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities,” says Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. “Rather, homeowners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.

“Another important trend we see appearing more, not only in kitchens but the entire project, is specifying healthier construction components such as paint, caulking, glues, grout and other potentially high VOC (volatile organic compounds) products, that may contain harmful ingredients and off-gas noxious fumes or vapors over time as they are curing.”

The survey concluded that the most popular kitchen products and features are:
  • LED Lighting
  • Computer Area/Recharging Station
  • Larger Pantry Space
  • Upper-End Appliances
  • Double Island
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Drinking Water Filtration Systems
Based on the survey, the most popular bathroom products and features are:
  • LED Lighting
  • Doorless Showers
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Large Walk-In Showers
  • Stall Shower without Tub
  • Water Saving Toilets
  • Radiant Heated Floors
Source: AIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

10 Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers

April 14, 2015 1:21 am

Though the tax filing deadline is imminent, taxpayers must remain thorough when filing their returns. To avoid processing hiccups, take note of these tips from the IRS.

1. File electronically.
Filing electronically, whether through e-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. And best of all, there is a free option for everyone.

2. Mail a paper return to the right address. Paper filers should check IRS.gov or their form instructions for the appropriate address where to file to avoid processing delays.

3. Take a close look at the tax tables. When figuring tax using the tax tables, taxpayers should be sure to use the correct column for the filing status claimed.

4. Fill in all requested information clearly. When entering information on the tax return, including Social Security numbers, take the time to be sure it is correct and easy to read. Also, check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.

5. Review all figures.
While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.

6. Get the right routing and account numbers. Requesting direct deposit of a federal refund into one, two or even three accounts is convenient and allows the taxpayer access to his or her money faster. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers entered on the return are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause a refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.

7. Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return. E-filers can sign using a self-selected personal identification number (PIN).

8. Attach all required forms. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms that reflect tax withholding to the front of their returns. If requesting a payment agreement with the IRS, also attach Form 9465 to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary schedules and forms in the sequence number order shown in the upper right-hand corner.

9. Keep a copy of the return. Once ready to be filed, taxpayers should make a copy of their signed return and all schedules for their records.

10. Request a Filing Extension. For taxpayers who cannot meet the April 15 deadline, requesting a filing extension is easy and will prevent late filing penalties. Either use Free File or Form 4868 – but keep in mind that while an extension grants additional time to file, tax payments are still due April 15.

Source: IRS.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Staying Safe in Severe Weather

April 14, 2015 1:21 am

Whether it’s a thunderstorm, tornado or flooding, severe weather can be detrimental not only to your wellbeing, but also to your property and neighborhood. If severe weather threatens your area, keep in mind these FEMA guidelines.

1. Become familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe weather hazards include the following:
  • Watch: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornados).
  • Warning: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions.
2. To prepare for power outages and the disruption of essential services, prepare an emergency supply kit for their homes and cars. When preparing a kit, remember water, medications, and items needed for the well-being of your pets.

3. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. Residents of mobile homes must plan in advance and identify safe shelter in a nearby building.

4. While community safe rooms offer significant reassurance and protection during a severe weather event, always make the safe and certain choice about where to seek shelter – particularly if there is little time to travel to the location of the community safe room. It is always best to seek shelter in your basement or in the lowest possible structure in your residence if time and warning are limited when severe weather hits.

5. Know your surroundings and your structures if you’re planning to attend an event, take a vacation, visit family, or if you are staying in a location other than your home like a hotel, campground or cabin. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the facility’s emergency plans including sirens and warnings, how to shelter in place, and steps to be taken in the event of an evacuation.

6.
Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.

7. After a disaster, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards before going back to a property with downed power lines or the possibility of a gas leak. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.

8. Staying informed is equally important when preparing for any emergency, particularly severe weather threats. In addition to monitoring the guidance and reports of local emergency and weather officials, monitor social media before, during and after emergencies. Consider following the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram handles of your local emergency management office, as well as hospitals, schools and voluntary organizations that serve your community.

Source: FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

5 Ways to Enhance Curb Appeal

April 14, 2015 1:21 am

Boosting your home’s curb appeal is a must when placing your home on the market. When readying your home for sale, consider making cost-effective upgrades that add value, rather than over-the-top remodeling projects. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, several exterior improvements recoup the most return, including new entry doors, siding and roofing.

“Choosing the right renovations to ensure your home stands out among the rest is key,” says Matt Hess, Power Home Remodeling Group, “and with intense focus on increasing curb appeal this year, we recommend moving that to the top of the to-do list and avoiding over-upgrades and mammoth projects where you won’t get your money back.”

These high-ROI exterior projects that enhance curb appeal include:

Replacing Entry Doors – Updating your home's front door can drastically impact its value and draw in a potential buyer. Think about replacing a door with half-glass panels or a change in color, and modernize the look with a mortise lock with lever handle and matching finish.

Creating Functional Outdoor Living Spaces
– Outdoor living is here to stay, and buyers are taking notice. Consider enhancing your backyard with a new high-end feature or large gathering area, such as a patio with comfortable furniture, a stone fire pit, an outdoor kitchen or a fireplace with an out cove.

Modernizing the Siding – New vinyl siding and trim can make even an older home look brand new. Choose a color that balances both personal taste and long-term ROI. Newer trends include bolder shades like deep blues and heavy greens, while bright white homes continue to resonate. For those who like a pop of color, consider a neutral siding – maybe a taupe or gray – with a bolder trim color.

Making Minor Updates to Landscaping – Add seasonal flowers or a stone border to spruce up your garden. You could also create your own wall garden to grow herbs in mason jars – a feature many buyers will appreciate, says the Power Home Remodeling Group.

Lighting Up with LEDs – LED lights continue to be a popular, inexpensive trend and are a great way to subtly light your yard. From rope lights to walkway or garden fixtures, there are all sorts of LED options that coordinate with your home's exterior. They are dimmable and low-maintenance – you don't have to worry about going outside to turn them off or on.

Source: Power Home Remodeling Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Tax Refund Outlook Differs by Generation

April 13, 2015 1:09 am

Two-thirds of millennials expect to receive a tax refund this year, more than any other age group, Bankrate.com reports. The likelihood of receiving a tax refund decreases with age: just 35 percent of people age 50 and older anticipate getting money back from the government.

Although experts generally frown upon receiving a tax refund because it amounts to an interest-free loan to the government, 38 percent of Americans prefer to receive a big refund and another 19 percent prefer a small refund.

"It's surprising that so many people still prefer to get a big refund, rather than adjust their withholding to get their money throughout the year," notes Bankrate.com tax analyst Kay Bell. "You'd think during lean times, they'd need the money more to meet their monthly expenses. But old and bad tax habits die hard.”

Twenty-two percent of all Americans would welcome higher taxes if they would lead to free health care for anyone who needs it. Additionally, 43 percent of millennials are willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for free college tuition for all students, versus just 20 percent of other adults. Senior citizens are significantly more likely than other age groups to support higher taxes for repairing and rebuilding roads, bridges and mass transit.

Most Americans will use their tax refunds to pay down debt (34 percent). Thirty-three percent plan to save or invest their windfall, 26 percent will spend it on necessities such as food or utilities, and just 3 percent will splurge on a vacation or shopping spree.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value

April 13, 2015 1:09 am

(Family Features) A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) found that sustainable, low-maintenance designs are top trends among residential landscape projects. The study, which asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements, points to a great demand for ecologically sensitive upgrades intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

According to the study, the top five upgrades are native plantings, adapted drought plantings, food or vegetable gardens, fire pits and fireplaces and low-maintenance landscapes. If you'd like to incorporate these ideas into your outdoor space, it’s best to hire a professional. Here’s why:

1. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will add value to your home, extend your living space and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer in a controlled setting. From arbors to fountains, they can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

2. Hiring a landscape architect is a terrific investment for your home. Research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

3. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who often work with landscaping or other construction companies to install their designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that's printed by another company.

4. Landscape architects are trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property's problem areas, as well as possibilities, and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

5. Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love and that will comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

Source: ASLA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags: