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

Out of Town? Don’t Risk a Water Leak

October 3, 2017 1:50 am

When you head out of town on vacation, you probably take several steps to make sure your home isn’t broken into while you’re away, from leaving lights on to pausing your newspaper delivery.

But did you know that your home is at a greater risk of damage from water leaks than fire and theft when you’re away? According to property and casualty insurance company Chubb, the time between when a leak occurs and when it is discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage, making leaks that occur while you're away much more damaging in terms of both cost and severity.

In the past 10 years, the frequency of sudden pipe bursts has nearly doubled. In 2015, water damage accounted for nearly half of all property damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A study from Chubb finds that, despite the fact that 91 percent of homeowners rate themselves as "vigilant" or "doing an okay job" at preventative home maintenance, and that close to half (45 percent) have or know someone who has experienced a water leak in the past two years, only 18 percent have installed a water-leak detection device.  

Of all homeowners, high-net-worth individuals are particularly at risk. When compared against other income segments, for instance, high-net-worth individuals are the most likely (55 percent) to report being "vigilant" about conducting preventative maintenance, yet are the least likely (26 percent ) to rank internal water leaks as their top home-related concern. High-net-worth homeowners are also the income group least likely to periodically inspect appliance hoses (33 percent compared to 61 percent of middle class homeowners, the most of any income group), a frequent cause of internal water leaks.   

While there are a number of steps homeowners can take to mitigate the risk, Chubb recommends that when they go through their pre-departure process of locking doors and windows, identifying a neighbor to keep an eye on their home, and ensuring some lights are left on, that homeowners also add shutting off the water main to the checklist.

Additional findings from the survey include:

- The majority of homeowners (63 percent) cite the threat of relocating for an extended period of time (between one month and a year) as their first or second most potentially concerning water damage-related event.

- A quarter of all homeowners have never had their appliances inspected, despite being the surest way to prevent a leak from occurring.

- Many homeowners also cited the loss of irreplaceable items (59 percent) and repairing structural damage (46 percent) as the top most potentially concerning water damage-related events.

- The majority of homeowners are unfamiliar with the most common sources of internal water leaks, with close to half (49 percent) identifying the water heater as the most likely source (independent analyses indicate plumbing supply systems pose the greatest risk).

Source: Chubb

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Traveling for the Holidays? Read This First

October 3, 2017 1:50 am

The holiday season is the busiest time for travel, when millions of Americans jet off to see family, and many more zoom to warmer destinations to escape the cold. But with volatile weather looming in many areas of the country, the holiday season is the most important time to load up on travel insurance.  When considering travel insurance during the holidays, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

Where are you traveling? Depending on your destination, hurricanes, snow storms or flooding can impact your plans. While some destinations are more prone to issues during the holidays, you never know when weather can act up. Trip cancellation coverage can help protect the investment in your trip due to severe weather and trip delay coverage can make those annoying airport delays more tolerable by covering meals and hotels when the airlines don't.

When are you traveling? It seems hard to believe another major hurricane could hit in 2017, yet hurricane season lasts through November 30. With snow hitting as early as October in some places, it is worth considering your dates and the likelihood of weather-related issues. Also, the holiday season can be the busiest and most crowded travel time of the year, making delays and service disruptions more likely.

What will you be doing? Will your vacation consist of sitting on the beach, skiing throughout New England, or hitting your dream golf course? Many travel insurance plans are designed for the more adventurous or sporty vacations. Look for plans that offer coverage for hazardous sports, lost ski days or lost golf rounds. Traveling with your own equipment? Look for a plan that covers loss or theft of your equipment.

Who are you traveling with? Do your kids, spouse or travel companions always seem to be the first to get sick when the weather turns cold? If so, travel insurance is even more important to consider during flu season. Most comprehensive travel insurance plans will allow you to cancel if a family member or traveling companion gets seriously ill before your trip.

What are you bringing with you? While we recommend you ship as many gifts as possible, for items you take on with you, keep in mind that luggage can, and does, get lost. According to airline information technology company, SITA, more than 23 million pieces of luggage are mishandled a year. Travel insurance can provide coverage for each holiday traveler's baggage and personal belongings, so if something does get lost, replacement items are covered (up to a certain limit), even in the short term. Certain travel insurance can even play a role in offering peace of mind if you are bringing your pet along, knowing that if something does go wrong, beloved animals will be taken care of or be transported home in certain circumstances.

Source: TravelInsurance.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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6 Tips to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

October 3, 2017 1:50 am

(Family Features)--As days get shorter and temperatures drop, many homeowners overlook their lawns' needs. Unfortunately, winter can be brutal and make it hard for lawns, trees and shrubs to thrive the following spring.

Just like chapped lips and dry skin, plants struggle to find moisture in the winter, too. Symptoms include scorched and dropped leaves, mottling on leaves and even dead leaves and twigs. Dry or frozen soil can prevent plants from replenishing needed water, which can result in winter burn. In addition, when temperatures drop below a plant's natural tolerance, it can impact their health and vigor and cause them to decline prematurely.

"Many homeowners may not realize that late fall is a good time to help prepare your lawn and landscape for a healthy spring growth," says Ben Hamza, director of technical services for TruGreen. "Homeowners should remember to perform common maintenance practices on their lawns and landscapes, such as late fall fertilization on lawns and trees and shrubs, and continue to water during dry periods. Taking the extra time in the fall can pay dividends in the spring.

To help prepare your lawn for the winter months, perform the following practices:

1. Clear leaves. It's important to remove leaves or mulch them with a properly equipped mower as they can suffocate grass. Matted leaves left over a lawn throughout the winter months can delay spring green-up. After clearing leaves, homeowners can compost what was collected to nourish plants and shrubs, reducing the impact on the landfill.

2. Replace unhealthy patches. Fall's favorable weather conditions, as well as moist and warm soil temperatures, create the ideal opportunity for successful seeding of bare lawn areas and overseeding of healthy grass to improve your lawn thickness and density.

3. Trim. Trees and shrubs are also vulnerable to winter weather and should be properly groomed and fertilized to avoid winter injury.

4. Give a good fall feeding. The roots of lawns, trees and shrubs need energy to prepare for a healthy, green spring revival. Keep fertilizer on target to prevent run-off and sweep fertilizer granules that may reach pavement back onto your lawn.

5. Give sprinklers a break. In most parts of the country, failing to winterize your sprinkler system can result in major problems that can also lead to costly repairs, such as cracked pipes, broken valves or damage to the lawn itself. Follow your owners' manual instructions to safely put your system to rest. Be sure to blow out underground systems to eliminate any remaining water that may freeze and expand.

6. Mow against snow mold. Keep lawns trimmed until growth ceases. This can help prevent snow mold, which mostly occurs in northern states due to extended snow cover and matted turf. Tall or improperly mowed grass is most at risk of developing snow mold.

Source: TruGreen

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Making Sure Your Home Office Is More Office Than Home

September 29, 2017 1:29 am

Working from home either full- or part-time is increasingly the norm in today's flexible business environment. For some of us, the transition from brick and mortar to a virtual or home office is seamless. For others, it can be challenging. Here are some small, but important, steps to take to make sure your home office is a truly productive space.

Set a space aside. With laptops and iPads, a home office doesn't necessarily revolve around a desktop computer anymore. If you're using a laptop, try not wander during the course of the day. Set aside a room or corner of your home that is specified for work; otherwise, you'll get distracted as you bounce from the couch to the kitchen table to the patio.

Limit noise. Nothing is more distracting than the dog barking, the neighbor's leaf blower or your partner watching TV in the next room. Make sure you choose a quiet place for your home office, and close the door behind you. Tell anyone else who may be in the house that you're working and can't be disturbed. Ditto for neighbors who think they can pop by because you're home.

Have the right equipment. Nothing hampers productivity more than not having all the necessary tools. Make sure you're equipped with whatever is essential to do your job—color printer, scanner, speaker phone, webcam, etc.

Make sure you’re connected. If you're not seamlessly connected to those working within the office, then your work-from-home situation won't, well, work. Make sure you can access all the office drives, and if you have a landline at the office, make sure it forwards directly to your mobile or home-office phone. Make sure you're able to teleconference in for meetings, as opposed to being a scratchy, hard-to-hear voice through the speakerphone.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Build a Better Business Plan

September 29, 2017 1:29 am

(Family Features)—Creating a business from the ground up is no small endeavor. From planning to financing to putting standard business services in place, there's a lot to tackle. All of that is in addition to operating the day-to-day business.

Once you've settled on a business model that meets your needs, developing a business plan is an essential next step. These five tips can help you get started:

Think long-term. A solid business plan should account for your start-up, of course, but also the longer range future of your operations. Consider how you want your business to look five years down the road. Create goals and build in milestones to chart your progress on that long-term path.

Write it yourself. No one can embrace your vision as completely as you can, and developing the plan yourself gives you a deep understanding of every aspect of the business, which is essential for good management. Even if you hand over certain responsibilities down the road, being aware of each aspect of your business can make you a stronger, more successful leader.

Review the plan over time. Know that time brings change. The business climate and other variables that influenced your original plan will likely shift over the course of your ownership. That's why it's important to revisit your plan at least annually to ensure your original roadmap is still on the right track strategically.

Share your plan with others. Inviting input from an adviser or experienced friend or colleague is a great way to spur new ideas and identify potential problem areas. Be sure you're prepared to accept constructive criticism to help shape the best possible business plan.

Stick to it. After all the sweat equity you invest in creating your business plan, the worst thing you can do is allow it to collect dust on a shelf. Use the plan to guide you in launching and growing your business. When business is booming and you're too busy to think strategically, you'll be grateful to have a well-conceived plan to rely upon.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Bosses: How to Better Serve Your Team

September 29, 2017 1:29 am

If you're leading a team of employees—whether it's a team of 10 or a team of 100—you should spend some time thinking about how to be a better boss. The best leaders not only look at the big picture, but spend time nurturing their individual relationships with their staff.

With this in mind, Robert Half Management Resources offers five tips for leaders:

Take a genuine interest. Talk to employees about their career goals and what keeps them up at night. You can only address their motivations and concerns once you know what those are.

Add meaning to the job. Employees should know how your firm's products and services improve the lives of customers and how their individual contributions support the company's mission.

Provide regular business updates. Make the organization's objectives an ongoing topic of conversation. Explain to staff the rationale behind operational goals and the steps being taken to attain them.

Tap experts. People won't feel confident in leadership if they don't have the support they need. Bring in consultants who provide in-demand knowledge not available internally, such as for a change initiative or merger integration. Interim professionals also can assist with spikes in activity, helping staff better manage heavy workloads.

Sell the firm to staff—again and again. Managers woo job seekers during the hiring process but often fail to keep the courtship alive. Keep employees apprised of the firm's successes and regularly promote the many great reasons to work there.

Source: roberthalf.com/management-resources

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Your Commute: From Painful to Purposeful

September 28, 2017 12:53 am

Whether you're trapped in your car during rush hour or on a seemingly endless train ride, commuting can take its toll on even the most zen-minded among us. Try these tactics to not only preserve your sanity, but actually add a little productivity to your day, as well.

Catch up with loved ones. Whether via Bluetooth in your car or by text on public transportation, commuting time is a great opportunity to connect with Mom or your college roommate. When else would you have the free time to do so?

Learn something. This is a great time to bone up on your vocabulary, learn a new language, or take an online course in a subject that always fascinated you.

Get inspired. Whether it's a motivational podcast, a spiritual book, or a meditation app (for train/bus riders only, please!), commuting is great time to breathe deep and open your mind.

Binge watch. Are you stressed about all the series you have yet to watch?! Consider yourself lucky to be a commuter then. Download the latest season and be ready for the water cooler convo the next morning.

Rediscover the art of the album. With the dawn of digital music and playlists, listening to an album or CD from start to finish became a lost art. Yet musicians intended you to listen in exactly this way to appreciate the chronology and sequencing of their releases. Use commuting time to rediscover music the way it was meant to be listened to.

Trying out some of the above activities can help transform your commute from wasted time to a fulfilling hour or so each day.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Travel Tips for Fall

September 28, 2017 12:53 am

Are you hoping to hit the road (or air) this fall? You're far from alone. With the prices lower than summer, the weather still temperate and the foliage in full bloom, many choose fall as the season to get away.
Below are a handful of fall travel tips from MultiVu.

Stay Within Budget: Fall is a great time to travel. There are a lot of deals in places like New York City, San Francisco, and D.C., but to find these deals, comparison shopping is key. On sites like Booking.com, you can check out affordable hotels, villas, apartments, or even boats or tree houses to stay in. They also have a customer service team to help travelers out 24 hours a day. Whether searching for an accommodation through the website or app, check out the guest-verified reviews.

Get Your Ride Ready: With stable gas prices, road trips are really popular with families this time of year. Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is road-ready and those tires are in good shape. Two big things: check your tire pressure and your tire tread—you can do that with a penny. Remember all tires are not created equal.

What to Pack: Fall is an active season for families. For starters, make sure you pack the right clothing. Also remember, hurricane season is not over—any bad weather can put travel plans in jeopardy. That's why more travelers are now looking to protect their travel investment, according to Allianz Travel Insurance. Travel insurance can reimburse your prepaid non-refundable expenses if you have to cancel a trip due to a natural disaster or for extended travel delays. It will also protect you against baggage issues and medical emergencies. If you do ever have to file a claim, you can do it straight from the TravelSmart app.

Source: MultiVu

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A Closer Look at Vision Health

September 28, 2017 12:53 am

(Family Features)—An estimated 4.3 billion people suffer from the same health problem regardless of gender, age or ethnicity: vision impairment. Whether moderate or severe, vision impairment can have far-reaching social and economic impacts.

As the number of Americans with visual impairment is expected to double by 2050, vision health has an obvious role in the national health conversation. Uncorrected vision is highly noticeable among certain groups, like the elderly and workers who rely on vision for safe and effective job completion. According to the Vision Impact Institute, two other groups significantly impacted by poor vision are drivers and children.

Drivers
A study from the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that one of the major causes of visual impairment is uncorrected refractive error (URE), and that preventable URE causes nearly 80 percent of the global burden. The number of people impacted by URE is especially troubling when taking into account day-to-day activities such as driving. A report from the American Academy of Optometry revealed that even moderate visual field loss causes drivers to have significantly poorer capabilities in completing tasks, such as matching speed when changing lanes and maintaining lane position.

When you consider how changing technology and business models like ride-sharing companies and delivery services are adding drivers to the road, this impact becomes all the more crucial. If eye exams were part of the standard for renewing driver's licenses, then these issues could be called out by an eye care provider in advance of potential accidents on the road.

Children
Today, vision impairments and eye disorders are the third-leading chronic conditions among children in the U.S., with costs for direct medical care, vision aids, devices and caregivers amounting to $10 billion per year. In the U.S. alone, the total economic burden of eye disorders and vision loss was $139 billion in 2013.

Uncorrected vision problems in children can have serious negative impacts on their educations and future employment opportunities. In 2014, researchers studied the impact on academic performance after providing a vision screening and free eyeglasses to low-income and minority elementary school children in the U.S. The study found that among fifth grade students, both the screening and eyeglasses significantly improved student achievement in math and reading.

As 80 percent of all learning occurs through vision, a simple pair of eyeglasses could correct poor vision and drastically change the course of a child's life.

Source: visionimpactinstitute.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Do These Every Day for a Cleaner Home

September 26, 2017 1:44 am

Want a cleaner home but feel like you don't have the time? Think again. These quick (think five minutes or less) tasks can help tidy your home with minimal effort.

Post-shower swipe – To keep mold at bay, store a washcloth in your shower you use for wiping down the surfaces after you turn the water off—just make sure everyone in the family knows the purpose of the rag so it doesn't end up on anyone's face! Swap the rag out once a week.

Early morning clutter sweep – As you wait for the coffee to brew or the dog to finish his breakfast before your walk, run through the lower level of your home and take care of any clutter piles: junk mail in need of opening, shoes or jackets dumped by the door or blankets on the couches that may need folding.

Nightly surface wipe – Every night before you head to bed (or the TV room), grab a rag and wipe down your counters, kitchen or dining table, and any other surface that collects food particles, dirt or dust.

Closet self control – It can be tempting to strip off your clothes after a long day and dump them in a pile on the floor or toss them on a chair, nut properly putting your clothes away—either in the hamper, back in the closet, or in a pile for dry cleaning—will help tide weekly clutter.

Clean as you cook – Does your soup have 15 minutes left to simmer? Start on the dishes, sop up splatter on the counter or floor, or tackle the trash. Waiting until the end of the meal can make it all too easy to say, "I'll clean up in the morning."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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