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

How to Find a Qualified Roofer

October 2, 2014 1:28 am

Many homeowners may opt to bring in a roofing contractor instead of performing a roofing evaluation themselves. So in this report, we'll tap Clement and the experts at DaVinci Roofscapes for some additional advice on finding a good roofing contractor.

First, check to make sure the roofer you are considering is insured and licensed. Then, ask for a written job estimate and references along with warranty information for both the roof you select and the roofer's installation services.

Here are some other recommendations to help find qualified installers in your area:

1. Go to a roof manufacturer’s website to see if they have a preferred installer program. Many manufacturers have special designations for roofing contractors that are skilled at installing their roofs.

2. Ask your local lumberyards, distribution centers and building product dealerships for recommendations on quality roofing installers in your area. You can also ask architects and general contractors if they have a recommendation for a roofer they feel does exceptional work.

3. Visit a website like 1800contractor.com, Home Advisor or Angie’s List. Let them match you up with installers in your specific geographic area to receive installation quotes. And, make sure to check the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce for roofer listings in your area.

4. Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations of reputable roofers they’ve used in the past. Select those whose services have been stand-out top quality with your friends.

5. Visit the National Roof Contractors Association (NRCA) website. In the "Consumers" section on the homepage there's a "Find a Contractor" button - plug in your zip code to find an NRCA member roofer in your area.

You'll also find other valuable information on this website regarding your roofing project.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Save on Thanksgiving Travel with These Tips

October 2, 2014 1:28 am

Holiday travelers looking for the best deals online should book before late October, according to Priceline.com, a leader in online and mobile travel. With flight and seat reductions creating more competition for available seats over the holidays, booking sooner rather than later is key. To narrow down the best deals, follow these tips.

Depart and return on less expensive days. For Thanksgiving travelers, the best days to depart are November 20, 21, 24, 25 and 27. For returning trips, the best days to book are November 27 or 28, or Dec. 2

Pick times of the day that are normally less busy. Keep in mind the time of day that you'll be flying. Travelers will find the most affordable seats departing early in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) or late evening (after 8 p.m.). Mid-day (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is a bit more expensive, but still reasonable. Most expensive are the peak business travel hours (8 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.).

Send those presents on ahead. Gifts for loved ones can mean extra baggage fees, not to mention the security screeners will not be happy to see those wrapped boxes. Save yourself the hassle by mailing or shipping presents in advance (after you've wrapped them, of course).

Weigh and measure your baggage. Check your airline's maximum requirements for checked and carry-on bags to make sure you won't incur extra fees. Note: baggage fees are charged separately for your outbound and return flights.

Source: Priceline.com

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Five DIY Projects to Complete before Winter

October 2, 2014 1:28 am

(BPT) - The leaves are starting to fall off the trees, the birds are flying south and you can feel the temperature dropping. Winter is on its way and while squirrels pack away food before the first snow fall, you'll be relieved to know that you still have time to finish some projects listed below to get your home ready for winter.

Tackle the yard.
Your yard will fall into dormancy during the winter, but a little prep now can help your green space bounce back in the spring. Fertilize your lawn using a lawn spreader from your local rental store to turn this all-day chore into a task that takes just a couple of hours. And don't waste the rest of your day raking the yard; instead, rent a leaf blower to finish this task in a fraction of the time.

Seal the gaps. Find the places where cold air sneaks into your home and you will drastically reduce your heating bills throughout winter. Feel along your windows and doors for any drafts. Seal larger cracks with caulk and cover your windows in plastic wrap for comprehensive protection. If you have a real chimney, don't forget to close the damper to prevent cold air from billowing down the chimney.

Clean the carpets. The winter season can be hard on your carpets as snow, salt and dirt get tracked in from outside. Cleaning them before winter begins puts them in the best possible shape for the colder months ahead. You can hire a professional carpet cleaner or rent one to conquer the task yourself.

Protect pipes from freezing. A ruptured pipe can ruin your home and everything in it. Ruptured pipes occur during winter when the pipes freeze and the frozen water inside expands. You can protect against this by never letting your home's temperature fall below 65 degrees. Wrap pipes running along the exterior walls in heat tape, and be sure to check pipes on those bitterly cold nights.

Empty the gutters. If left unchecked, falling leaves and other debris will clog your gutters and downspouts, which can cause ice dams in the winter. Start by trimming or removing trees and hedges near the gutters. If you lack the tools to complete this project, you can rent a brush cutter, tree trimmer or ladder to do the job. Once obstructions have been removed, clear the gutters to prevent a future home disaster.

These simple steps will help you winterize your home so you can enjoy a happy, hazard-free holiday season.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Safety Resources

October 1, 2014 1:28 am

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time when Internet users should implement preventative measures to ensure online safety. Whether you want to protect yourself, your family or your business, consult these resources for information on how to stay safe this month and beyond.

Department of Homeland Security
– DHS.gov/stopthinkconnect

Federal Trade Commission – OnGuardOnline.gov

Federal Communications Commission – FCC.gov/cyberforsmallbiz

Better Business Bureau – BBB.org/data-security/

National Fraud Information Center (National Consumers League)
– Fraud.org

National Cyber Security Alliance – StaySafeOnline.org

Microsoft – Microsoft.com/security/saferonline

Source: StaySafeOnline.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Insurance Options for Renters

October 1, 2014 1:28 am

The number of renters has grown dramatically in some of the most populous U.S. cities, yet few renters actually purchase insurance. Thirty-seven percent of renters have renters insurance, paling in comparison to the 95 percent of homeowners who have a homeowners insurance policy, according to a survey by the Insurance Information Institute.

“Renters insurance provides a very important financial safety net when there is a disaster,” points out Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer for the Institute. “And, renters insurance is relatively inexpensive—the average cost of a renter’s policy is only $187 per year, or less than four dollars per week. Many renters are under the misperception that their landlord’s insurance policy will reimburse them if their personal property is damaged or destroyed, but that’s just not the case,” says Salvatore. “Fortunately, renters have a range of insurance options to choose from.”

The following types of policies are available to renters.

Renters/Tenants Insurance
Renters insurance provides financial protection against damage to or loss of personal possessions due to hurricanes, fire, lightning, theft, explosion and other disasters listed in the policy. There is even coverage for water damage caused by burst pipes or a neighbor who forgets to shut off the water in the tub. Coverage is available on either an actual cash value basis (depreciated value) or for its replacement cost (no deduction for depreciation).

Renters insurance also provides coverage for additional living expenses, in the event you are unable to live in your home due to a fire or other insured disaster. It also includes liability insurance if you, a family member (or even your pet) accidently injure someone and they sue you.

Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurance companies. It provides coverage for personal possessions on an actual cash value basis, generally up to about $100,000. Excess Flood Insurance is also available if a renter would like more coverage than is in the NFIP policy or if federal flood insurance is not available in their community.

Earthquake Coverage
Renters can purchase insurance for damage to their personal possessions due to earthquakes from private insurance companies or in California from the California Earthquake Authority. Coverage is available either in the form of an endorsement or as a separate policy. Earthquake insurance provides protection from the shaking and cracking that can destroy buildings and personal possessions. Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is provided by a standard renters insurance policy.

Umbrella Liability
An umbrella liability policy can be a cost-effective option for increasing your level of liability protection. The policy kicks in when the limit on your renters insurance has been reached. It will also provide coverage for libel and slander. Umbrella policies generally cost about $150 to $300 per year and will also provide additional liability protection if you own a car, boat and even a snowmobile. Because the personal umbrella policy goes into effect after the underlying coverage is exhausted, most insurers will require specific underlying limits on your policies. For instance, you may be required to have $300,000 of liability insurance on your renters insurance policy and at least $250,000 on an auto insurance policy.

Floater or Endorsement for Expensive Items
If you own expensive jewelry, collectibles, musical instruments or even high-end sports equipment, you may want to add a floater or endorsement to your renters policy. This would provide broader coverage for risks such as “mysterious disappearance.” So even if you lose the item, you would be covered.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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10 Ways to Improve Your Home's Air Quality

October 1, 2014 1:28 am

With cooler weather on the horizon, homeowners everywhere are preparing with maintenance tasks in and out of the home. While working on these projects, remember to address your home’s indoor air quality, especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time inside once winter weather kicks in.

Refresh the air in your home with these 10 tips.

1. Vacuum frequently
– Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstered furniture twice a week to eliminate airborne allergens.

2. Add houseplants – Plants naturally produce oxygen, a process which removes carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air.

3. Clean green – Chemicals from cleaners can be released into your home and be detrimental to the health of you and your family. Swap toxic products for organic cleaning supplies or homemade, natural cleaners, such as vinegar, that are just as effective.

4. Cut cigarette smoke – Quitting is the only way to eradicate second-hand smoke pollutants, but if quitting isn’t an option, you can minimize its effects by sending smokers outside and away from windows and doors.

5. Purify your air
– Especially helpful in bedrooms, air purifiers clear the air of toxins lingering around your home. Select one based on the type of purification needed and the size of the room it will be used in.

6. Replace your HVAC filter – Furnaces and air conditioners only work well if they are properly maintained. Change out the filter regularly to keep the air circulating through these devices clean.

7. Conduct radon testing
– Every year, pick up a radon testing kit at any hardware store and test for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer.

8. Test your smoke detectors – If you don’t already, be sure you have detectors installed in every bedroom and hallway. Test the batteries frequently and heed detector warnings signaling a low battery.

9. Install carbon monoxide detectors – For maximum protection against carbon monoxide, install detectors near the kitchen and in hallways outside of bedrooms.

10. Create natural air cleansers – Instead of relying on spray fresheners or candles, diffuse pure essential oils to produce a fresh scent.

Source: Homes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Medication Safety Tips for Cold and Flu Sufferers

September 30, 2014 1:28 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cold and flu season will pick up this October and peak between January and March next year. Each year, Americans catch approximately 1 billion colds, and seven in 10 consumers will turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat symptoms.

As the countdown to cold and flu season begins, the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition (AAC) advises consumers to stay safe when recuperating by reading medicine labels carefully to avoid doubling up on medicines with acetaminophen, the most common drug ingredient in America.

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 different medicines, including prescription and OTC pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids and numerous medicines for cough, cold and flu. It is safe and effective when used as directed, but there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.

When treating symptoms during the upcoming cold and flu season, follow these safety guidelines:
1. Always read and follow the medicine label.
2. Know if medicines contain acetaminophen, which is in bold type or highlighted in the "active ingredients" section of OTC medicine labels and sometimes listed as "APAP" or "acetam" on prescription labels.
3. Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time.
4. Ask your healthcare provider or a pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.
Source: AAC

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Rising Incomes to Support Housing Market in 2015

September 30, 2014 1:28 am

The U.S. economy is showing renewed vigor and is poised for a pickup in growth, according to a recent report by TD Economics, an affiliate of TD Bank.

"Job growth is gaining speed and confidence is rising," says TD Chief Economist, Craig Alexander. "The strength in job growth will support consumer spending and energize housing demand, shifting the economy into third gear."

After averaging 2.2 percent in 2014, the economy is forecasted to grow by 3 percent in 2015. With faster growth, the unemployment rate will continue to fall, reaching 5.5 percent by the end of next year.

Stronger job and income growth will support the housing market. "The dearth of new household formations is strongly related to the lack of job opportunities among young people," says Alexander. "As employment rises, the housing recovery should also pick up speed as these first-time buyers come back into the market."

Between January and August, the economy generated over 1.7 million jobs, nearly 300,000 more than the average over the previous three years. The acceleration in job growth has been accompanied by broader signs of labor market improvement. Businesses are reporting high levels of job openings and increasing confidence in the durability of the economic recovery.

With the expected improvement in growth over the next year, the economy is likely to have shown sufficient progress for the Federal Reserve to begin raising short-term rates.

"After almost seven years of zero interest rates, the recovery in 2015 will have finally moved to a stage where rates can begin to move higher," says Alexander. "But, this will occur gradually."

TD Economics expects the Federal Reserve to begin its rate hiking cycle mid next year and bring the fed funds rate up to 0.75 percent by the end of the year. By the end of 2016, the fed funds rate will likely only be at 1.75 percent – still high enough to stimulate the economy.

Source: TD Economics

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What to Consider before Borrowing Home Equity

September 30, 2014 1:28 am

In the first quarter of 2014, lenders approved $13 billion in home equity loans and lines of credit (HELOCs). Economic conditions have continued to improve, as the recession fueled by underwater mortgages gives way to rising home values across the country.

While this shift signals the beginning of a renewed confidence in borrowing against a home’s equity, homeowners should tread carefully. If you’re considering borrowing, keep in mind these facts.
- With fixed interest rates and payments, home equity loans may be a safer option. HELOCs have variable rates, so an increase may be detrimental to your payment plan.

- Lenders still require adequate income and credit, and most will set a maximum limit of 80 to 85 percent of the home’s value.

- Debtor habits can spell disaster for those who borrow equity against their home. Don’t borrow for unnecessary expenses, such as vacations.

- Homeowners should work toward paying back the loan quickly; however, it is acceptable to extend the life of the loan if making an investment in the home, such as a kitchen renovation.
Source: Bankrate.com

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Support Healthy Eyesight with Optimal Foods

September 29, 2014 1:28 am

According to a recent survey conducted by DSM Nutritional Products, 83 percent of adults in the U.S. believe worsening eye health is inevitable with age. What many don’t realize is that there’s a connection between healthy eyes and proper nutrition, and it goes beyond eating carrots.

“Incorporating certain nutrients into the diet can support a lifetime of healthy vision and help protect against serious conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD),” says Dr. Kimberly Reed, optometrist and Ocular Nutrition Society board member. “The latter affects more than 2 million Americans and can lead to severe visual impairment.”

Studies have found that the typical American diet lacks the nutrients people need and many adults struggle to get the recommended amounts from food alone. Just 10 percent of adults are getting nutrients crucial to eye health – lutein and zeaxanthin.

The survey also found that many Americans aren’t focused on maintaining their eyesight. In fact, if given the opportunity, nearly a third of adults would take a material luxury item over a lifetime of perfect vision, and more than 1 in 5 Americans are more concerned with maintaining their youthful appearance than healthy eyesight.

According to Reed, one essential way to maintain eye health throughout life is to focus on a diet packed with the nutrients known to support eye health, including:
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Colorful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges, and tangerines
  • Omega-3 (DHA/EPA): Fatty fish, including salmon and herring, fish oil, and algae
  • Vitamin E: Oils, wheat germ, almonds and peanuts
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and berries
  • Zinc: Beef, pumpkin seeds and lentils
“It is difficult to obtain all of the nutrients that support eye health from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author. “To fill in the gaps, consider adding a supplement specifically formulated for eye health and vision to your diet.”

Source: VitaminsinMotion.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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