RE/MAX 440
Joanne Stahl
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111 1426
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 610-392-6547
Fax: 267-354-6236 
jstahl@remaxcentralinc.com
Joanne Stahl

My Blog

3 Ultra Modern Fixtures for a Futuristic Bathroom

December 28, 2015 12:13 am

(BPT)—As a homeowner, one of the most worthwhile investments you can make is to upgrade your home’s bathroom. Bathroom renovations enhance not only real estate value but also your overall enjoyment of the space, and appointments these days are light years ahead of the materials used in other types of remodels.
If you’re considering an upgrade, go for one (or all!) of these ultra modern, futuristic fixtures:

• Space-Age Showers – From showers with dual spray and steam functionality to smart showers that “customize the clean,” a variety of high-tech, luxury upgrades are transforming the simple shower into a spa-like experience. Smart showers, which can be programmed based on temperature and pressure, can also be controlled remotely, allowing you the ability to start the water flow and set the temperature before stepping in. Shower technology has also expanded to include waterproof sound systems that stream your favorite music through a shower head speaker.

• Mind-Blowing Mirrors – If you're a bathroom multitasker, intelligent mirrors keep step with the busy pace of your lifestyle. Low-end varieties, such as an anti-fog mirror, use heat or special coatings to ensure the surface remains free of condensation even after showering. On the higher end are digital mirrors that incorporate a touchscreen display, WiFi, TV and Internet functionality.

• Far-Out Faucets – Touch-free faucets have been around for some time, but modern digital electronic faucets do far more than turn on sans touch. Electronic faucets use infrared technology to turn off when a user's hand moves away, and allow users to program the temperature of the water and the duration of the flow. Some faucets even feature software embedded in touchscreen technology that helps monitor your water usage! 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Tips for Charitable Holiday Giving

December 25, 2015 2:13 am

It’s an unfortunate reality – the potential for giving scams becomes greater during the holiday season. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, donors should take care when giving to organizations this time of year. If you’re considering making a donation, remember to:

Give Thoughtfully – Take the time to check out the charity to avoid donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Be proactive and find trusted charities.

Check Registration – About 40 of the 50 United States require charities to register with a state government agency (usually a division of the State Attorney General’s office) before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.

Verify Where Donations Go – How will your donation help? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. In addition, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.

Look for Transparency – After funds are raised, it’s important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until the audited financial statements are available.

Exercise Caution with Assistance Funds – Some families may decide to set up their own assistance funds. Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Make sure that collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA or lawyer. This will help provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately.

Avoid Unfamiliar Links – Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted.

Opt for Established Organizations – This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization may mean well, but may not be well managed.

Review Tax Deductibility – Not all organizations are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors can support these entities if desired. Contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual or family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

Source: BBB.org

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Property Tax Primer: Is Your Assessment Correct?

December 25, 2015 2:13 am

There are millions of articles out there on the best ways to prepare your home for sale. But what about preparing to stay, and dealing with a reassessment or revaluation that may be inaccurately boosting your local property taxes?

For some answers, I turned to Vision Government Solutions, a supplier of land management software technology and services to local government organizations, enabling efficient assessment, billing, collections, mapping, and permitting.

According to Vision, the following four questions and accompanying information can help you to decide if your assessment is correct.

1) Can I sell my property for that amount?

The first thing that you should do is ask yourself if you could sell the property for approximately that amount.

2) Do assessment officials have the correct information on my property?

You can review the information that the assessing department has collected on your property to make sure the data is accurate either online, or at your local assessor's office. While reviewing your property, make sure that all measurements on the sketch are accurate. Note that all measurements are taken from the exterior. You should also check the land size and interior data to ensure accuracy.

3) How much are similar properties in my neighborhood selling for?

If your city or town has property information available on the Internet, you can do a sales search by going to the appropriate website. Make sure that you choose recent sales that are similar to your own property. For instance, if you owned a 2,000 square foot colonial that is assessed for $350,000 and has one-half acre of land, you would fill out the choices as shown below.

4) How much have similar properties in my neighborhood been assessed for?

If you do not have any recent sales activity in your local area, you can look up the assessed value of similar parcels that are located near your property. Be aware that what may appear to be a similar parcel may in fact be very different from your property.

Whether it's just a few, or hundreds of dollars in taxes saved, it often pays to confirm the agency handling your property information has the most accurate and up-to-date data.

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Are You Ready for Winter's Worst?

December 25, 2015 2:13 am

As sure as winter follows fall, winter storms aren't far behind, either. Take time to review a number of important reminders to keep you, your family and home safe during winter storms. Let's review a handy pre-storm prep list recently released by the multi-state utility Eversource Energy:

During/After a Storm

- Be attentive to severe weather warnings.

- Leave your home if authorities order an evacuation, especially if your home is in an area that floods easily.
In frigid weather, if your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to call your plumber and ask about draining your home’s water pipes so they don’t freeze and burst.

- Your automobile is a good place to charge your cell phone or stay warm during a storm, as long as you keep it well ventilated and don’t go to sleep while the motor is running.

- You can always cook outside on a grill or camping cook-stove. However, never bring grills inside!

- Foods in your refrigerator and freezer should be consumed quickly, particularly in the event of a potentially lengthy outage, before they have a chance to spoil. If the temperature is cold enough outside, food can always be placed in a cooler outside to prevent it from spoiling.

- If you don’t have surge protectors or suppressors, unplug your sensitive equipment. Voltage irregularities can occur for any number of reasons during or after a storm, especially if there has been damage on or near your home. The safest thing to do is to unplug any sensitive electrical devices (TV, VCR, stereo, microwave, computer, answering machine, garage door opener, etc.).

- After a storm, Eversource advises you to stay away from downed wires and trees that might have wires caught in them. Report any downed wire you may see to your local electric utility or call 911 Assume all downed wires are “live” and stay away.

- Stay clear of all fallen tree limbs and electrical wires as well as anything they are touching such as puddles and metal fences.

- If you’re in a vehicle and downed wires are on the car or across the road, stay in your car until emergency crews arrive to handle the energized wires.

- It is safe to use a cell phone while inside your car.

- Don't drive over downed lines, and if a downed line is in or near water, keep your distance from the water, even a little puddle.

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Home for the Holidays: Travelers Top 100 Million in Record-Breaking Year

December 24, 2015 12:13 am

For the first time on record, the number of year-end holiday travelers will top 100 million, with nearly one in three expected to travel during the peak period of Wednesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 3, AAA estimates.

“The holidays are a time for joining with friends and family, and the record number of people traveling this holiday should make for a joyous travel season,” says AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. “Rising incomes and low gas prices are helping to fill stockings, and more people than ever will choose to spend those savings on travel this year.”

How will the masses migrate? Most will make the journey by car, with more than 90 million set to drive to their respective destinations. Just below 6 million travelers will fly, and slightly more than 3 million travelers will use other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is expected to fall below $2 by Christmas.

Source: AAA

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6 Tips for a Greener Christmas

December 24, 2015 12:13 am

Friends and family are what make the holiday season great. You can make it even better by reducing waste as often as possible during your celebrations. Reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can preserve natural resources, protect the environment and save money, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

To green your holidays this year, take a cue from EPA guidelines:

• Bring your own reusable bag when shopping for gifts. Buy items made with minimal packaging and recycled content.

• Wrap gifts in recycled or reused paper. Consider gifts that don’t use much wrapping, such as gift cards or concert tickets.

• Package baked goods in reusable or recyclable containers as gifts.

• Use reusable plates, glasses and silverware at parties. Make sure guests know where your recycling bin is for cans, bottles or other recyclable items they use.

• Share leftover food with family and friends. Donate untouched leftovers to a food bank or homeless shelter.

• After the party, fill the dishwasher completely before running it. You’ll save water and energy by running fewer cycles.

Source: EPA.gov

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Insurance Makes for a Happier Holiday

December 24, 2015 12:13 am

The holidays can be a joyous occasion, especially if you’re a new homeowner. The season can be marred by disaster, however, if insurance considerations are not taken. Having the right insurance coverage as a homeowner can greatly reduce these hazards, say the experts at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

December, for example, is the peak month for fires caused by candles. Christmas tree-related fires, while not as common as candle fires, are much more likely, as well. Fire, smoke and water damage are covered under homeowners and renters insurance policies. To avoid incident, take care when decorating for the holidays not to put decorations too close to a heat source, and never leave the stove unattended while cooking. Always be sure to have smoke alarms in working condition.

December is also one of the most common months in which burglaries occur. Personal possessions are covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies—even holiday gifts stored in your car!

If you're traveling over the holidays, have mail and packages picked up or held by the post office, use automatic timers to turn lights on and off at appropriate times and have a dependable neighbor check on the house periodically to help mitigate the chance of disaster. Additionally, consider making your home more secure with dead-bolt locks, window grates and smoke/fire/burglar alarms. Keep in mind most insurers provide discounts for devices that make a home safer.

Online shopping can also present danger in the form of identity theft. Many standard homeowners insurance policies now include identity theft coverage, and most homeowners and renters policies provide some coverage for stolen cash or unauthorized use of your credit card.

To protect yourself, shop at reputable stores and check your credit card statements regularly, and if you find anything unusual, report it to your credit card company immediately. If your wallet is either lost or stolen, contact the police and your credit card company as soon as you can. 

Source: I.I.I.

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4 Healthy Habits to Adopt ahead of the Holidays

December 23, 2015 2:10 am

(Family Features)—With so many social events that revolve around food, it can be challenging to make healthy choices. To keep your diet in check, take time to establish a plan ahead of social gatherings, says nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert Mitzi Dulan.

“Whether you are hosting an event or attending someone else's celebration, planning ahead can help you stay on track,” says Dulan, a registered dietitian. “Having quick and simple strategies and recipes on hand makes it easy to eat well and keep you feeling great.”

Your plan should include:

Loving what you eat. Be mindful of the food you eat and make every bite count. Enjoying each delicious taste will make it easier to stick to a sensible eating plan. For the foods you do love, look for ways to make them better for you. For example, if pizza is your weakness, substitute a lower-calorie crust and choose toppings that help counteract added fat and calories.

Not skipping meals. Although skipping breakfast may seem like a good way to cut calories, it's a plan that can actually backfire, making you hungrier as the day wears on, and more likely to overeat or sneak unhealthy snacks. Start each day with a well-rounded breakfast to fuel your body. Apply a similar approach to events later in the day, as well. You may be tempted to skip a meal so you can enjoy the treats at a party, but chances are you'll end up overdoing it with high-calorie indulgences, so make sure you fuel up ahead of time.

Eating smaller portions. When you simply must indulge, go ahead, but to do so in moderation. One clever way to keep your portions small: use a tablespoon, not a serving spoon to dish out portions. Eat slowly so your body has time to tell your brain you're full.

Getting your fill in healthy ways. Overeating often comes down to a very basic cause: hunger. Becoming more conscious of how you answer your hunger will help you stay on track. Drinking water before and during events will help to fill you up so you are less likely to consume excess calories. Snacking throughout the day can also help keep hunger at bay; several small, healthy snacks, such as a handful of nuts or trail mix, can help keep you feeling full.

Source: Flatout Flatbread

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Have You Ticked the Boxes on this Holiday Safety Checklist?

December 23, 2015 2:10 am

While it’s no secret traffic incidents spike during holiday travel periods, it is lesser known that a majority of accidents occur in the homes of those celebrating locally, too. Whether you’re hosting holiday celebrations at home or heading to a party elsewhere, it’s important to remain vigilant about safety amid the festivities, urges the National Safety Council (NSC). Tips to consider include:

• Never use lighted candles near trees or boughs.

• Add an extra barrier to fireplaces, as glass panels can reach several hundred degrees within minutes.

• When cooking, wash hands, the sink, utensils and anything else that touches raw meat, and only use sharp knives.

• Make sure your fire extinguisher is up-to-date and your smoke detector batteries are new.

• Gift safely. Understand the dangers associated with coin lithium batteries, which come inside many toys, TV remote controls, watches and even musical holiday cards.

• Be aware of how much alcohol you are serving, and make sure party guests who are drinking have alternative transportation.

• Buckle up, even on short drives.

• Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.

• Safeguard medications from teens and young children while visiting others or hosting guests in your home.

Source: NSC

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2016's Top Paint Color Palettes for the Home

December 23, 2015 2:10 am

New Year, new color.

Nothing transforms the look of a room like a new coat of paint—especially when the color is both on-trend and timeless.

“We believe a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways for people to change their homes for the better,” says Valspar Color Strategist Sue Kim. “But with so many colors to consider, it’s nice to have a little help on the often stressful color selection journey—even when looking for the right shade of white. Choosing a white for doors, trim, ceilings or even a wall can sometimes be harder than choosing a color, so we are simplifying that this year by highlighting four of our most popular."

These varying degrees of white complement Valspar’s color palette picks for 2016, which are:

“Comfort Zone” – Busyness has replaced leisure as a status symbol. Schedules are filled to the brim, we’re all constantly plugged in, and lines are blurred between work and leisure. This palette offers an antidote to this fast-paced lifestyle, with a selection of soft, calm colors, such as fallow brown and powder blue, that balance and restore the mind, body and spirit.

“These muted mid-tones counter-balance busy living are perfect for creating a restful, yet stimulating environment to unwind, relax and recharge,” says Kim. A chalky white blends quietly with these comfy colors.

“Simply Perfect” – The movement toward simplified living inspired this palette of versatile, stylish grays, such as dim gray and silver, that work well in any setting.

“There’s no question that gray is the dominate shade of the decade and today’s default neutral,” Kim says. A clean white is the perfect accent for any of these go-to grays.

“You Do You” – Different is the new normal. Going against the grain is encouraged and applauded, often with the phrase “you do you.” It’s a mantra leading to this trend palette of expressive and uplifting zingy brights, including coral pink, bondi blue and arylide yellow.

“Generations Y and Z are fueling a broader acceptance of individuality, challenging stereotypes and standards of beauty,” says Kim. “These confident, inspired hues encourage you to express yourself in a full color anywhere you’d like whether it be a full room, an accent wall, trim or furniture.” A pure white anchors the boldness of these brights.

“Good Company” – Most of us have high demands for transparency, integrity and authenticity—the fair trade movement and farm-to-table organic food trend are prime examples. This trend is interpreted in this palette, a collection of rich, familiar and enduring artisanal shades, such as camel brown and viridian, inspired by heritage and handcrafted products and materials.

“These deep, pigmented colors evoke a connection to our heritage. We trust the tried-and-true and that is why they are so welcome in our homes today,” says Kim. A linen white embraces the natural richness of these tones.

Source: Valspar

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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