June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
jcroissette@remax440.com

My Blog

Health Risks of Noise Pollution

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

Noise pollution is a significant cause of sleep deprivation, stress, hypertension, and heart risk. The problem is, it invades our work places and homes constantly.

Recent studies published in “Environmental Health Perspectives” indicate that noise levels at night may also increase the risk of heart attack by chronically elevating stress-related hormone levels. It's clear that noise adversely reduces people's health and quality of life.

Environmental noise is one of the major causes of disturbed sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is critical for proper physical and mental functioning in healthy individuals.

Apart from various effects on sleep itself, noise during sleep causes increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, narrowing of the blood vessels, changes in respiration, cardiac arrhythmias, and increased body movement.

Secondary effects measured the following day include fatigue, depressed mood and well-being, and decreased performance. People who sleep in a noisy environment have a shallower and less restful depth of sleep. This creates more health stresses on the body.

Most homes are built to protect against heat and cold. Often, they are not effective in blocking out noise. Studies of hundreds of offices and homes show that the most significant amount of noise comes through windows, not walls. While many people spend thousands of dollars on "sound proofing" the walls of their buildings, laboratory studies show that more than 90 percent of all the exterior noise comes in through doors and windows. Walls are almost never the problem.

Dual pane windows have been shown to be ineffective at handling noise issues. They are designed to handle heat and cold. The engineering needed for sound is quite different than for handling temperature. That's why people looking for noise relief who simply replace their dual pane windows are often disappointed.

A solution that has shown to reduce noise levels by 75-95 percent is adding soundproof windows. These are add-on windows which install quickly on the interior of a room. They blend with the window frame and dramatically reduce the level of outside noise that comes into the room. The technology behind these specifically engineered windows is grounded in engineering sound-eliminating window systems for recording studios.

Independent laboratory tests confirm noise reductions of 92-99 percent, as verified by audio instrumentation. While the human ear cannot detect that level of precision, the difference in noise levels in a room is significant.

If you live in a major city or on an otherwise noisy block, soundproofing your windows may just be the solution you need for uninterrupted sleep.

Source: Soundproof Windows, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Make DIY Home Repairs Safely

July 24, 2013 6:04 am

When it comes to home maintenance and repairs, many homeowners opt for the DIY approach. Not only is it a fun way to get your hands dirty, but it can save money on the expenses of hiring a professional. However, many DIYers neglect to fully prepare themselves for accomplishing the task at hand. This results in surprisingly common mistakes that could easily be avoided. So before you choose to DIY something in your own home, take a look at our list of common mistakes homeowners make and learn what you can do to prevent them from happening to you!

Electrical Repair

When it comes to DIY around the house, there's one area that should more often than not be left to the professionals—electrical repairs. According to Root Electric, anywhere from 4,000-6,000 people are injured each year from electric accidents, with a high percentage coming from those performing DIY electric repair attempts.

Neglecting Safety Tips

A great deal of at home DIYers neglect useful and common safety tips during projects. For instance, wearing protective eye wear and dust masks are crucial to a person's safety while doing household repairs. Additionally, it's important to be extra careful and watchful no matter the size of the project you are doing.

Not Taking Out Required Permits

Another common mistake homeowners make when completing home improvement projects themselves is neglecting to take out the required permits. Not only is this not meeting legal standards, but not following certain procedures can be unsafe.

Starting a Job Unprepared

It's great to want to tackle a household task without calling in the professionals, but make sure you are fully prepared. A common mistake most homeowners make is not checking to ensure they have the necessary materials. Before you get in over your head on a project, double check your supply list.

Source: Homesessive.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Simple Ant Prevention

July 23, 2013 5:56 am

(Family Features) Of all the pests that can take up residence in your home this summer, ants are among the most common, and they don’t discriminate.

“Treat ants proactively, even if you only see one or two,” advises Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s “Desperate Landscapes.” Cameron’s long experience in home remodeling and carpentry makes him an expert on how to detect and discover entry points for potentially destructive ants to enter the home. “Taking preventative measures will help you protect both the inside and outside of your home from these pesky insects.”

Here are a few of Cameron’s tips and tricks to help protect your home and outdoor spaces from ants:

Treat Using a Systematic Approach
Even if you only see a few, adopt a systematic approach to help treat the ants you see and even those you don’t. Start by treating the perimeter of your home using a product such as Raid Max Bug Barrier to defend against ants that want to enter your house. Next, use an instant-action product indoors to kill them on contact. Treat areas such as baseboards and entry points, as they are prime locations for ants to infiltrate homes. Finally, place baits in areas where you see individual ants or ones following a trail or path to protect against bigger problems in the future. Do not place ant baits in areas where sprays were used.

Clear Damp Areas
Ants love to build their colonies in moist areas, especially those in which organic mulch, leaves, weeds, branches and brush remnants collect. Places such as where rain gutters overflow are perfect environments for ants, so be sure to clean them out regularly. If you have an ant problem year after year, see if there is any wet debris up against your home and get rid of it. Use stone mulch and cut back weeds around the foundation.

Store Food Properly
To help protect the inside of your home from ants, store food in sealed containers, use dried goods in a timely manner and sweep up crumbs immediately. Even a small crumb on the floor is a large meal for an ant colony. Also, be sure to clean up after your pets. Many ant problems are the result of pet food bowls being left out with food remnants in them. Be sure to have an instant-action spray on hand, such as Raid Ant & Roach Killer, to kill bugs on contact. Be sure to read the label carefully when treating in and around food-prep areas.

Monitor Mounds
Outdoor mounds are nests that are underground. They are a big cue for a colony of ants, so when you see them, be sure to treat them right away with a pest control product.

Check Trees
Carpenter ants are the largest of all ant species and usually get into homes from nearby trees. Inspect trees on your property for nests and treat as needed. Most carpenter ant nests are found in decaying wood in trees with holes or imperfections. In fact, carpenter ants can hollow out the wood throughout your home, causing problems that can be costly to repair.

To learn more about how to keep bugs out of your home, visit www.RaidKillsBugs.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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June Existing-Home Sales Slip but Prices Continue to Roll at Double-Digit Rates

July 23, 2013 5:56 am

Existing-home sales declined in June but have stayed well above year-ago levels for the past two years, while the median price shows seven straight months of double-digit year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dipped 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.14 million in May, but are 15.2 percent higher than the 4.41 million-unit level in June 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is enough momentum in the market, even with higher interest rates. “Affordability conditions remain favorable in most of the country, and we’re still dealing with a large pent-up demand,” he said. “However, higher mortgage interest rates will bite into high-cost regions of California, Hawaii and the New York City metro area market.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.07 percent in June from 3.54 percent in May, and is the highest since October 2011 when it was also 4.07 percent; the rate was 3.68 percent in June 2012.

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 1.9 percent to 2.19 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 5.0 months in May. Listed inventory remains 7.6 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.4-month supply. “Inventory conditions will continue to broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth,” Yun remarked.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $214,200 in June, up 13.5 percent from June 2012. This marks 16 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases, which last occurred from February 2005 to May 2006.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Half of America's 74 Million Cats are Not Receiving Regular Veterinary Care

July 23, 2013 5:56 am

A study conducted by Bayer HealthCare found that more than half of the nation's cats (52 percent) had not been taken to the veterinarian within the last year for needed checkups. Because the first two years of a cat's life equal 24 years of a human's life – with each successive year equivalent to four human years – annual examinations are essential to keeping cats healthy and preventing potentially serious disease problems.

Feline resistance single biggest obstacle to veterinary visits
According to the Feline Findings Study, 58 percent of owners report that their cats hate going to the veterinary clinic and, for 38 percent of them, just thinking about it was stressful. The study found that most cats fear being placed into a cat carrier and transported by car, so many owners simply opt not to put up with the hassle.

The Feline Five: five things cat owners can do to improve feline healthcare
"There are five easy steps owners can take right now to increase the likelihood their cats will be healthy," said Bayer's Dr. von Simson. "We call them the Feline Five."

1. Make the cat carrier a familiar, comfortable place.
Reduce feline resistance to the cat carrier by placing it near to where the cat rests with soft bedding, leave the door open and occasionally place treats in the carrier.

2. Familiarize your cat with your car.
Prepare your cat for the car ride to the clinic by taking her on rides in the carrier as you run normal errands.

3. Recognize the importance of regular check-ups.
Since the first two years of a cat's life equal 24 years of a human's life – with each successive year equivalent to four human years – your cat needs veterinary check-ups at least annually.

4. Realize that cats keep secrets, so you must be a cat detective.
Health problems often go undetected for a long time because cats hide signs of illness, so be attentive.

5. Know the signs of illness and injury.
 Signs include: changes in interactions, activity, sleeping habits, food and water consumption, grooming and/or vocalization; unexplained weight loss or gain; signs of stress; and/or bad breath.

Source: Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Guide to Effortless Summer House Painting

July 19, 2013 1:40 am

You can boldly embrace summer this year with a new coat of paint on your home's exterior. While exterior painting may seem a daunting task, College Pro Painters has tips to help you achieve an effortless and elegant exterior painting experience with some before, during and after painting tips.

Before you go searching for paint swatches, take these points into consideration:

-What is your house's style? Pay heed to the style of your house - its age and architectural background - with a little research. Choosing colors that adhere to its style, whether it's southwestern, colonial revival, Tudor, or ranch style will help your house to truly own its new color.

-What are the styles and colors of your neighbors' houses? Neighborhoods often feature a particular set of house shades, and selecting colors that are compatible with these (but not necessarily the same) will keep your home from sticking out like a sore thumb.

-Are there decorative features you want to play up as you paint? In your exterior painting plans, do you also plan to paint the shutters? Front door? Columns? Trim? Choosing accent colors to play up these features will give your home more visual interest and depth.

-How do color tones affect the appearance of your home? A general rule of thumb in house painting is that lighter colors will make a house appear bigger, while darker or more intense colors make a house seem smaller. Color tones will affect the longevity of the paint and your home's ambiance.

-What colors are already present in your home? If your home has decorative stone or brick elements, your house's exterior should complement those colors - especially their tone. You can also create a vibrant continuity between your home's exterior and interior by choosing exterior colors that pair with your interior design.

During your research of house painting trends and possible painting companies keep in mind:

-Grays of all shades from slate to feathered gray have been extremely popular recently. Because they're so neutral they can be paired with less standard colors to add a pop of excitement.

-Primary colors - Variations of primary colors, especially more subdued blues are paired with bold primary accent colors on the doors or shutters to enhance the visual interest.

-Color families - If you're looking for cohesion, consider choosing different shades from the same family. The variety will give your home dimension while still keeping it consistent and classy.

-College Pro's Rule of three - An exterior color scheme should, in most cases be composed of three colors, allowing for a base color and contrasting accent colors to highlight your home without overwhelming the exterior.

-A comprehensive house painting company - Choosing an exterior painting company to work at your home may seem a little unsettling. After all, the company's employees will be entering your family's personal space. That's why it pays for you to select a company with many years of experience and high customer satisfaction standards to meet all your needs.

After your newly painted house is the envy of the neighborhood, here are easy updates to spruce up the rest of your home's exterior too:

-Replace Old Hardware - Replacing old door knobs or latches will complete the new, sparkling appearance of your home.

-Paint/Stain and Repair your Deck-- A dingy deck can drag down the appearance of your house's exterior. Paint or stain your deck to compliment the new shade of your home. (Mid-range stains are particularly popular now.)

-Put Your Personal Stamp on Your Mailbox - Show off your new exterior painting job and invest in a new mailbox or redecorate the one to compliment your house.

-Gear up your garden - Adding potted plants or flower boxes near your front door and in your windows can make your home appear much more inviting for visitors!

Source: College Pro

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Insulate Now for a Comfortable Summer

July 19, 2013 1:40 am

Hot summer days are here, and in many regions, hot days mean hot, restless nights, even when the air conditioning is running. With temperatures on the rise outside, it's time to think about how to keep cool indoors without breaking the bank. To keep the heat out and the cool air in, now is the ideal time to insulate.

Many homeowners consider adding thermal insulation to their home in the fall, in preparation for a cold winter. But insulating in the summer can help provide immediate relief from rising temperatures and elevated electric bills that result from running an air conditioner. Just as heat escapes through improperly-insulated walls during cold winter months, it can creep back in through these walls during the summer.

Homeowners are encouraged to insulate now for a cool, comfortable summer and thermal protection all year long.

-During summer months, air in an attic can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Without proper attic insulation, that hot air can make its way down into the home, sabotaging an air conditioner's hard work. If the second story is hotter than the first floor, add extra insulation or replace failing insulation in the attic.

-Crawlspaces built into and under homes should also be properly insulated. Consider adding insulation to the underside of the home's floor and around the crawl space walls.

-Basements are often overlooked as a key place to insulate, but in the summer, a basement is typically the coolest place in the house. To keep that cold air in, adding a layer of insulation to exterior-facing walls and in the basement ceiling will help prevent drafts and escaping cool air.

Source: Roxul, Inc

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Supporting Healthy Aging: Finding Solutions for Social Isolation

July 19, 2013 1:40 am

After Marilyn, 83, lost her husband and companion of 63 years last spring, she dropped many of her activities and grew apart from her friends. Her daughter Mary, 61, wondered if the changes she saw in her normally active mother were due to aging or because she was depressed. Mary began helping with shopping, cleaning and coordinating doctors' appointments. She began losing sleep and worrying about her mother when she wasn't there while also juggling the responsibilities of a full-time job and a first grandchild on the way.

Much like Mary, today's adult children increasingly find themselves balancing a variety of responsibilities. Known as the "sandwich generation", many adult children are struggling to care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. Added to this delicate balancing act is the issue of social isolation among seniors, a problem that impacts both aging parents and their caregiving children.

The effects of social isolation

The social isolation and loneliness experienced by Marilyn reflect an issue of growing concern in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, about 37 percent of seniors 75 and older live alone. According to the World Health Organization, social isolation is associated with higher rates of premature death, a lower sense of well-being, more depression and a higher level of disability from chronic diseases.

Research also shows that social isolation increases "caregiver burden," with potentially negative effects on health and quality of life. This currently impacts approximately one-third of baby boomers who provide assistance to an aging family member, with about 70 percent of caregivers aged 45 to 64 actively working, according to Statistics Canada and BMO Retirement Institute.

Finding the right solution


The good news is there are solutions to reduce the risks of social isolation for seniors and their family caregivers, including maintaining or restoring an active social life. "Staying socially active, in a variety of physical, social and emotional activities can truly enrich life for seniors and help them build new social connections," says Laura Forsyth, director of Life Enrichment at Chartwell Retirement Residences.

The right support services can often help prolong independence and help manage care needs for an aging parent while reducing the stress on adult children. If the time has come to consider your options, a retirement residence may be the solution.

Source: Chartwell.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Real Estate Appraisers Optimistic About Future

July 18, 2013 3:36 am

More than three-fourths of U.S. real estate appraisers are very or somewhat positive about the demand for their services over the next one to two years, according to an Appraisal Institute survey recently released.

Eighty percent of residential appraisers and 78 percent of commercial appraisers said they are upbeat about their future, according to the survey conducted in May-June by the nation's largest professional association of real estate appraisers.

"Appraisers have faced a challenging real estate market in recent years, and it's great to see that so many valuation professionals are feeling optimistic about the future," said Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA.

According to the survey, 95 percent of residential appraisers and 49 percent of commercial appraisers said there is currently more demand for their services than a year ago.

Additional survey results include:
-Eighty-four percent of residential appraisers said their local residential real estate market is strong, and 46 percent of commercial appraisers had the same opinion about their local commercial markets.
-Eighty-six percent of residential appraisers and 55 percent of commercial appraisers said demand for their services is strong.
-Thirty-two percent of residential appraisers and 45 percent of commercial appraisers anticipate more demand for their services during the ensuing one to two years.

"Real estate trends are typically local in nature, and it's a positive sign for the nation's economy that appraisers around the country reported increased demand for their services," Borges said.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Six Apps for Scoring Extra Savings at the Supermarket

July 18, 2013 3:36 am

Bad shopping habits can be tough to break – just ask the 63 percent of Americans in ShopSmart's new national grocery shopping survey who admitted to buying things they don't need because of a coupon or a sale. The September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine highlights new mobile tools that can get supermarket shoppers organized while saving them time and money at the store.

"A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming if you go in unprepared," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Make the most out of your supermarket's website for coupons and download a few convenient apps that can help you save big on the things you need the most."

More than one in 10 respondents said they either never make a list or they make one but never stick to it. However, many are sticking to their lists more often than they did a couple of years ago. ShopSmart recommends the following free apps to help shoppers prepare for their next trip to the supermarket:

1. ZipList allows users to create a master checklist for things they buy frequently; the app also finds coupons and sorts participating stores by aisle. Works on: Android, Apple.

2. Weekly Ads & Sales
gives users access to weekly circulars without having to deal with the paper clutter. An added feature is its ability to track sales for the largest grocers, such as Kroger and Safeway, plus specialty retailers including Best Buy and Old Navy. Works on: Apple.

3. Grocery iQ matches items on users' grocery lists with applicable coupons and works best for people who tend to stick to the same list week after week. Works on: Android, Apple.

Coupon apps with extra features such as automated deals, rewards for frequent use, and instant savings can be a great way to score extra savings at the grocery store.

4. SavingStar registers users' loyalty cards and allows them to browse a list of exclusive offers. The "One or Many" deals feature lets users buy items over multiple trips to hit the required quantities. The deals usually have a big payout, such as $5 off $30 spent on Charmin, Gillette, and Ivory products. Works on: Android, Apple.

5. Cellfire sends coupons directly to users' loyalty cards and features an optional store alert, reminding them about coupons when they walk into a store. Works on: Android, Apple, BlackBerry.

6. Ibotta pays users back, usually 25 to 50 cents, when they take a poll or watch a short video, then buy the item, take a picture of the receipt, scan the bar code and submit it. It might not seem worth the effort at first, but those quarters can add up – especially when bonuses start to kick in after frequent use. Works on: Android, Apple.

Source: ShopSmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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