Cheryl A. Snyder
Phone:  610-346-7908Office:  215-538-4400
Email:  csnyder@remax440.comCell:  215-801-0583Fax:  267-354-6905
Cheryl A. Snyder
Cheryl A. Snyder

Cheryl's Blog

Do You Know the 3 Keys to Home Staging?

August 10, 2016 12:31 am


Staging your home while it’s on the market is one of the most effective ways to sell it for top dollar.

Start by addressing natural light, say the experts at Stagetecture.com. Ample natural light makes the home appear larger and inviting. Avoid minimizing natural light with heavy window treatments—instead, hang sheers, and open them during showings.

Next, look to the outside of the home. Does the property have appeal? Hang mirrors across from the windows to accentuate scene-stealing views.

Inside the home, assess the color palette. Are the walls dark and closed-in? Consider repainting them with lighter colors to brighten the interior, Stagetecture.com’s experts recommend.

Above all, remember these three key tips:

Don't leave clutter in plain sight.
Make it easy for buyers to visualize their lives in your home. Tackle the noticeable areas, like counters and tables. Are there other areas, such as an entry closet doubling as general storage, that should be tended to, too? If there is an overabundance of personal items in your home, consider paring down.

Avoid staging with items that date the home.
Stage with contemporary styling. Remove old or worn furniture, pack away collectibles from earlier eras and hide décor that convey a sense of the home's age.

Don't fill rooms with furniture.
It is tempting to fill each room with furniture when staging it, but too many pieces can make the space feel crowded. Work toward creating a sense of purpose for the room while maintaining an open-concept look.
 

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Zero-Energy Houses: Here to Stay?

August 10, 2016 12:31 am


Zero-energy houses are a new type of green home built to return zero-dollar energy bills. The houses are becoming universally viable, due to advancements in energy-efficient technology and the declining cost of construction.

Owners of zero-energy homes pay nothing for energy consumption (other than a monthly grid fee), and cut their carbon footprint to near-zero. The typical zero-energy house is made of thick exterior walls, and is outfitted with an efficient HVAC system and solar panels. The home is connected to the grid, so that excess energy generated by the home throughout the day can be distributed back into the grid and power the home at night.

According to the Net-Zero Energy Coalition (NZEC), over 6,000 houses in the U.S. and Canada are “zero-energy ready”—able to self-supply at least 90 percent of their annual energy demand. Just 9 percent of the houses in the NZEC inventory are “zero-energy,” or able to supply 100 percent of their annual energy demand. “Net producers,” which are homes that supply 110 percent or more of their annual energy demand, comprise only 4 percent of the houses in the NZEC inventory.

Ahead of the curve is California, which is on track to build zero-energy housing in just five years. Lawmakers in the Golden State have made zero-energy technology accessible and affordable to residents. Other states have expressed interest in adopting similar policies.

These developments are fueling the zero-energy movement, says Ed Gorman, founder of Modus Development, responsible for the building Arizona’s first zero-energy residential community.

“The design and green features are what draw people in, and they stay because of the energy and cost savings,” Gorman says. “We’ll see more and more builders moving into this space.”

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall
 

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Dollar Store Buys to Help You Get Organized

August 9, 2016 12:28 am


Clutter in the bathroom, or anywhere in the house, can drive you nuts—whether it’s a counter spilling over with cosmetics or a junk drawer where even scissors get lost.

Getting organized may be easier—and less expensive—than you realize. According to House Beautiful magazine, one trip to the dollar store can cut household clutter. Their crafty ideas:

Hang a Shower Caddy in the Entry – Hang a shower caddy in the entryway to corral the mail—and perhaps the keys—where everyone in the family can find them. Turn the caddy into a chic accent piece with a coat of spray paint, or by adding potted plants.

Dispense Ribbon from a Paper Towel Holder – Stand a paper towel holder on end and pile on rolls of ribbon—and when you’re done, pop it into the nearest cabinet until you need it again!

Hang a Shoe Bag on the Back of the Bathroom Door – Not for shoes! The compartments in a shoe bag are spacious enough for lipsticks, nail polishes, hair ornaments and more—and each family member can have a designated space.

Store Crayons in a Travel Soap Container – Keep crayons handy in a travel soap container in the car—perfect for keeping little ones occupied!

Add Silverware Trays to More Kitchen Drawers – The compartments in a silverware tray will make it so much easier to find the zester, the corer, the measuring spoons, or whatever other kitchen gadget you need.
 

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Are You Making Clear Decisions About Replacement Windows?

August 9, 2016 12:28 am


When is the right time to replace windows?

That's a question I recently had to weigh, and, lucikly, my decision turned out to be a good one.

For those weighing that decision themselves, Window World of Altoona, Pa., offers a list of questions to help make a clear decision about whether to replace a window.

Should you DIY or hire a pro? The window fit, installation and type can make or break a replacement project. If you’re hiring a company to replace wood or metal windows, research the reputation of the firm. Look for a professional that backs their installation with a warranty on labor and parts, in addition to a product warranty.

How long do you plan to be living with your new windows? While aesthetic, energy savings and maintenance are common considerations, keep in mind that vinyl windows recoup an average of 78 percent at resale, and can be a selling point to prospective homebuyers—especially if providing a transferable warranty to the new homeowner.

Have you done your homework? Look for credible, independent, third-party endorsements on the windows you're considering, such as those from Good Housekeeping, AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association), NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) and the ENERGY STAR® label.

Have you considered your energy efficiency options? If your home is located in a warmer, sunny area, a product's Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measurement is important. Consider a window with heat-reflective, low-emissive glass to not only block the sun’s rays in summer, but to also prevent heat loss in winter.

To learn more about window replacement—and check out a handy window design tool—visit www.windowworldaltoona.com.
 

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What to Do If Your Home Has Radon

August 9, 2016 12:28 am


Do you know radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most homes with high levels of radon gas can be remedied. If you have tested your home for radon and have confirmed elevated radon levels (4 picocuries per liter in air [pCi/L] or higher), consult your local health agency or radon authority for help to:

Select a qualified radon mitigation contractor. The EPA recommends working with a state-certified and/or qualified radon mitigation contractor trained to remedy radon issues.

Determine an appropriate radon reduction method.

Maintain your radon reduction system. Some radon reduction systems mitigate radon levels by up to 99 percent.

The cost to reduce radon generally ranges from $800 to $2,500, according to the EPA. Most types of radon reduction systems cause some loss of heated or air conditioned air, which could also increase utility bills. How much of an increase will depend on the climate you live in, what kind of reduction system you select, and how your house is built.

For most cases, the EPA recommends methods that prevent the entry of radon. Soil suction, for example, prevents radon from entering your home by drawing radon from below the house and venting it through a pipe above the house, where it is diluted. In houses that have a basement or a slab-on-grade foundation, radon can be reduced by one of four types of soil suction: subslab suction, drain tile suction, sump hole suction, or block wall suction. In houses that have a crawlspace, radon can be redocued through sub-membrane suction, a process in which radon is drawn from underneath a high-density plastic sheet covering the ground below the house.

Other radon reduction techniques, according to the EPA, include sealing, pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, and natural ventilation.

For assistance with radon reduction, call 1-800-SOS-RADON, or visit EPA.gov/radon/.
 

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Hardwood vs. Laminate: What's Best for Your Floor?

August 8, 2016 12:19 am


Wood or wood-like flooring can give your home a brand new look—warm, updated, and inviting. There are several factors to consider before making the choice.

Natural hardwood flooring is more visually appealing, but is twice as expensive and far less durable than laminate lookalikes. On the other hand, laminates, like Pergo, which cost half as much as hardwood, will not increase your home’s resale value.

The experts at GeeksonHome.com tick off items to consider:

Cost – Laminate flooring, which is made of pressed wood, costs $2 to $3 per square foot, while natural hardwood flooring costs between $3 and $6 per square foot.

Durability – Hardwood flooring is sensitive to dents and scratches—a point to consider if you have young children or pets, or if your home sees high traffic. It can, however, be refinished several times over its lifetime, though that will incur additional expense.

Laminate, conversely, is impervious to stains and dents, but, because the wood veneer is very thin, it cannot be refinished.

Overall, the lifespan of laminate flooring is said to be 15 to 20 years, while hardwood flooring can last well over 50 years if refinished as needed.

Installation – Installing laminate flooring is faster and easier than installing hardwood flooring, because laminate comes in sheets rather than individual boards, and is usually glued down, rather than nailed into place.

Moisture – Hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture and high humidity. It should not be laid directly on a concrete floor or in basements, where moisture can cause the wood to contract, expand and warp.

Laminate, to compare, is stable. Moisture will not affect or damage laminate flooring, so it can be laid on concrete.

Bottom line: laminate flooring is less expensive, more durable and easier to maintain—and today’s laminate products do a better job of looking like natural wood than ever before. The quality of hardwood, however, is easy to recognize, will last a lifetime, and, if properly maintained, can add significant value to your home. 
 

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Homeowner Safety: Tips to Prevent Grilling Fires

August 8, 2016 12:19 am


Close to 10,000 home fires involving barbecues, grills or hibachis happen every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—and most start on a balcony or porch outside the home.

Lack of maintenance is one of the primary causes of fires, says Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for the NFPA. Grillers should remove grease and other build-up from the grill grates and trays often.

“It’s good practice to check for damage before using the grill for the first time each year, and to check the entire grill regularly,” Carli said in a statement.

Carli and the NFPA also recommend only grilling on propone or charcoal barbecues outdoors, away from the home and any other structures or materials that may catch fire, including tree branches. Children and pets should be kept at least three feet away from the grill at all times, and preferably out of the pathway to the home or hose.

Never leave the grill unattended, the NFPA advises. Often, fires begin when no one is looking.

For more fire safety tips, visit www.nfpa.org.

Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
 

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Breaking Down Apartment Costs Across America

August 8, 2016 12:19 am


Apartment costs can vary drastically between cities, or even neighborhoods. How far your budget takes you depends on one factor: location, location, location.

The experts at GOBankingRates.com recently released a study identifying the average cost of one-bedroom apartments across 50 cities. The national average median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,234, the study determined; the national average size of a one-bedroom apartment is 678 square feet.

The cities with the highest median rent, according to the study, are San Francisco, Calif. ($3,600), San Jose, Calif. ($2,536) and New York, N.Y. ($2,200). The cities with the lowest median rent are Wichita, Kan. ($470), Cleveland, Ohio ($525) and Detroit, Mich. ($550).

The study also ranked the availability of apartment amenities in each city analyzed. Those takeaways:

Cleveland, Ohio is the best city for parking, with 69 percent of one-bedroom apartments offering parking to tenants. Omaha, Neb. and Anaheim, Calif. rank second and third, respectively. New York, N.Y. is the worst city for parking, with just 5 percent of one-bedroom apartments offering parking to tenants. Boston, Mass. and Chicago, Ill. rank second and third, respectively.

Phoenix, Ariz. is the city with the most one-bedroom apartments that offer pools, at 95 percent. Las Vegas, Nev. and San Antonio, Texas rank second and third, respectively. Anchorage, Alaska is the city with the least one-bedroom apartments that offer pools, at 0 percent. San Francisco, Calif. and New York, N.Y. rank second and third, respectively.

Louisville, Ky. is the city with the biggest one-bedroom apartments, at 807 square feet. Jacksonville, Fla. and Atlanta, Ga. rank second and third, respectively. Portland, Ore. is the city with the smallest one-bedroom apartments, at 461 square feet. Milwaukee, Wis. and Honolulu, Hawaii rank second and third, respectively.

“Our research found that in high-priced rental markets, not only do you have to shell out significantly more for an apartment, but also, you get less bang for your buck than in lower-priced areas,” said Cameron Huddleston, Life + Money columnist for GOBankingRates.com, in a statement. “You’re less likely to get amenities such as covered parking, a fitness center or even a dishwasher with an apartment in expensive areas such as Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. However, there are several cities—such as Indianapolis, Louisville and Virginia Beach, Va.—where you can find apartments with ample space and affordable prices.”

Source: GOBankingRates.com
 

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More Urban Homeowners Are Buzzing over Beekeeping

August 5, 2016 12:16 am


Do you know that of the 100 crop species providing 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees?

Without a ready force of beekeepers to protect and sustain hives, the world's environmental balance threatens to teeter. The good news is, communities are permitting more property owners—particularly in dense urban settings—to establish and keep bee hives.

John Caldeira, an expert in urban beekeeping from Dallas, Texas, recently blogged (OutdoorPlace.org) about the growing corps of urban and suburban beekeepers establishing hives in backyards and on rooftops. According to Caldeira, urban beekeepers have the added challenge of ensuring their bees do not become a nuisance to neighbors.

Caldeira says relatively few communities in the U.S. outlaw beekeeping, but most do have nuisance laws that are intended to outlaw activities most people would find objectionable. Other communities have laws that put practical constraints on beekeeping, such as a limit on the numbers of hives on one property. Prospective beekeepers should always learn local legal restrictions before keeping bees, Caldeira says. 

Third-generation beekeeper Zan Asha published a feature in Grit urging aspiring beekeepers to research their new hobby—in the article, Asha says it's not uncommon for keepers to obtain bees without any idea how to care for them. Asha advises aspiring beekeepers to consult the massive selection of books, attend beekeeping classes or search YouTube for videos to learn about bee behavior, honey harvesting, and more.
 

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9 Smart Tips to Keep Your Home Spotless

August 5, 2016 12:16 am


Nobody likes to spend hours cleaning house—and sometimes, there are few hours to spare. How is it some seem to have a knack for keeping their homes looking spotless in no time at all?

Country Living magazine recently polled home bloggers to come up with nine tricks:

Take Your Shoes Off – Shoes carry dirt and germs. Mandate the family remove them when coming in the door—and put up a sign in the entryway asking visitors to do the same.

Make the Bed – Even if the bedrooms are not picture-perfect, a neat bed pulls together the room.

Squeegee the Shower Every Time – Squeegeeing only takes about 20 seconds, and it keeps the glass clean and shining.

Clean the Bathroom Sink – Quickly swipe the sink with a wipe to keep it sparkling. Keep the wipes handy under the sink.

Wipe Down Kitchen Counters – Use a homemade solution of one part vinegar with three parts water to keep counters clean.

Clean Up as You Go – Wash the pots and put away ingredients as you finish while you cook—the goal is to have nothing to do after dinner but put plates in the dishwasher.

Do a Five-Minute Cleanup Before Bed – Five minutes before bedtime, put everything back in its place—pick up the dog's toys, hang up jackets and put away the mail, for instance.

Put Your Clothes Away – Every master bedroom has one chair that starts off empty on Monday and ends up covered with clothes by Friday. Before you go to bed, put them away.

Open a Door or Window – Letting in fresh air helps keep your home feeling fresh.
 

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