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

Remodeling the Bath? 5 Touch-of-Luxury Tubs

April 1, 2016 2:16 am

For their range of high-end amenities, luxury homes have one feature in common: a show-stopping master bath. The average remodeler can get a similar luxe look by up-scaling the project, say the experts at Cornerstone Design and Remodel, a San Diego, Calif.-based firm. The feature that’s most worth the investment? A deluxe bathtub.

According to Cornerstone, the most popular luxury tubs are:

1. Claw-Foot Tubs
Claw-foot bathtubs are the epitome of Old World luxury, with vintage feet that raise the tub several inches off the floor. This tub is ideal for those looking to add a statement piece to their bathroom.

2. Drop-In Tubs
With drop-in bathtubs, the plumbing is concealed underneath the tub. Drop-ins can be installed with a surrounding shelf for seating, and may also include whirlpool settings.

3. Freestanding Tubs
Freestanding bathtubs can help highlight the flooring, while also adding a sense of spaciousness. These tubs can be installed anywhere in the bathroom, proving them versatile.

4. Soaking Tubs
Soaking tubs have a supportive shape different than traditional bathtubs, allowing the bather to sink lower and retain the water temperature. These tubs are capable of being equipped with a hydrotherapy system.

5. Walk-In Tubs
Walk-in tubs have a watertight door and built-in seat ideal for those with limited mobility. Aside from being an add-on, the seat allows the bather to sit upright comfortably.

Aside from these tubs, remodelers may also want to consider a custom-built model, which can be shaped into specific dimensions (or freeform) depending on the design plans.

Source: Cornerstone Design and Remodel

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7 No-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Spring

April 1, 2016 2:16 am

Ready or not, spring is here, and with it comes the urge to open up your home to fresh breezes and sunshine. The trouble with that, as some homeowners lament, is that the furnishings may look a little tired.

Before you replace a few big-ticket items, take a few tips from the editors of Home & Garden Magazine to spruce up your home without spending any money:

Bring the Outdoors In – Take a walk and gather a bunch of the season’s first lilies or daffodils, or even a branch or two of greenery. Fresh greens and flowers are the fastest and easiest way to put a little spring in your home.

Flip the Throw Rug – This may not work for oriental rugs, but for others, flipping a rug upside down may expose a textural difference or a slightly different hue that changes the look of the room.

Rethink the Layout – Sit down with a pencil and paper and try out some different furniture arrangements. A simple switch may make all the difference in changing the look of your home.

Use Leftover Paint – If it’s still sitting in the garage, use it to freshen up walls or cabinets that may have been scrubbed once too much.

Edit It Down – Sometimes, when a room looks tired, you don’t need to add anything new. Try removing a few things to edit down the space. You may find less is more.

Rearrange Displays – Instead of packing in row after row of books on a bookcase, try leaving space open on the shelves and display a few knick-knacks or art objects.

Change Out Wall Art – Move a few of your favorite paintings to another spot. Switch them out with a couple of prints or family photos. Check the attic for a vintage item or two and hang them on the walls for a fresh, new look. 

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Tips to Secure Your Home in Spring

March 31, 2016 12:16 am

Warmer weather is on the way! From freshening up the home to planning a pre-summer getaway, we all have tasks to look forward to come spring. Amid the spring fever, it’s important to be mindful of your home’s security, says Steve Kolobaric, spokesperson for security solution provider Weiser Lock.

Kolobaric’s safety tips include:

• Inspect entry points around your home for winter-related damage. Ensure window locks are functional and gates or fences are secure, and replace any burnt-out bulbs in outdoor lighting. If you’ve recently purchased the home, change the door locks if you have not done so already.

• If clearing storage areas while spring cleaning, be sure to cut, stack and tie cardboard boxes together when you place them in the recycle. Leaving boxes as-is, especially if they’re for expensive items like televisions, computers or video game consoles, can give thieves incentive to burglarize the home.

• When spending time outdoors, lock your front door. It may seem excessive, but most break-ins occur through an unlocked front door. Be sure to lock windows when closing them for the night.

• If traveling for spring break, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your property while you’re gone. Ask them to collect the mail, sweep (or shovel!) the walk way, or occasionally park a car in the driveway to make it appear someone is home.

Source: Weiser Lock

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3 Tips to Get Your Yard Summer-Ready

March 31, 2016 12:16 am

(Family Features)—Year after year, our yards endure the winter elements—and that wear-and-tear can mean less time outdoors come summer. To get your yard into summer shape, start preparing now with these tips, courtesy of the experts at Sun Joe, a leading outdoor power equipment provider.

Preparing the Garden
Prepare planting beds by using a tiller before seeding. Loosening up existing soil helps water and nutrients reach your new plants' roots. Add manure before tilling to create a healthy growing environment. Mulch around your plants—a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer will keep roots cool in the upcoming summer months.

Preparing the Lawn
Wait for the soil to dry out before starting work on your lawn—working with soggy soil can harm tender grass roots. Once the soil is dry, mow only once you need to; grass is at its healthiest if you cut no more than a third of the blade.

Preparing the Patio
Use a pressure washer to eliminate grime, which can build up significantly over winter. Whether you own your own equipment or plan to rent or buy it, be sure to read the instruction manual thoroughly before operating.

Source: Sun Joe

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Have You Sprung for Flood Insurance?

March 31, 2016 12:16 am

Homes in high-risk flood areas are not the only ones that need flood insurance. Approximately one in four of all flood disasters occur in areas with low to moderate risk of flooding.

Floods can happen anywhere, anytime—not just near the coast, lakes and rivers, warns the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut (PIACT), a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.

Torrential rain, snow melt and mudslides can all cause flood losses. Teri Walsh, PIACT president, reminds homeowners that generally, coverage provided by a standard home or business policy does not include damage caused by flooding or mudslides.

Walsh says this type of damage could be extremely destructive to your property, and without the proper insurance coverage, you could be devastated financially.

It's important to remember that, with very few exceptions (such as a lender requiring coverage on a brand new house), you must wait 30 days before coverage becomes effective.

A professional insurance agent can help with details on how the right coverage can protect you from the aftermath of flooding.

To find out your flood risk, explore coverage options or find an agent in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.

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5 Ways to Pare the Cost of Cooking

March 30, 2016 2:16 am

If you try out a new recipe and spend way more than you expected for ingredients, your pantry may need a bit of upgrading.

So says Zoe Bain, the senior food editor at Refinery 29, a home and lifestyle website, who believes a well-stocked pantry should hold enough cooking staples to give you a good start on a variety of family-friendly recipes.

A well-spent 20 dollar bill, Bain says, should help get your pantry up to snuff and save you shopping time, as well:

1. Stock Up on Essentials – Salt, pepper and a good, extra virgin olive oil will roast or sauté most veggies to perfection and get meats and other proteins nicely browned and ready to braise or stew or pan fry as you like.

2. Doctor It Up – Pick two or three acidic liquids, combined with the cooking essentials above, to prepare almost any needed marinade or salad dressing. These could be balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, whole grain mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

3. Add Some Spice – Start with dried oregano, thyme and basil, then add fresh or powdered garlic and some red chili flakes to give kick to anything you cook.

4. Build a Base – With a few of these basic ingredients on hand at all times, you have the perfect start for dozens of meal favorites: canned tuna, pasta and pasta sauce, canned beans, cream of mushroom soup and fresh or frozen bread.

5. Go for Necessary Extras – As you do your weekly (or bi-weekly) grocery shopping, be sure you keep the refrigerator stocked with milk, eggs, salad greens and veggies and keep a few fresh lemons in the fruit basket.

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How to Up Natural Light Levels in Your Home

March 30, 2016 2:16 am

(Family Features)—Though Frank Lloyd Wright popularized the aesthetic relatively recently, natural light in the home has been coveted for centuries. Lighting design today combines both natural and artificial sources to mimic the appearance of ample natural light.

To achieve the look, adequate lighting is key. Most homes will require a mix of natural lighting with accent lighting, which shines light on architectural or decorative elements; ambient lighting, which provides overall lighting; and task lighting, which focuses light into specific areas.

With the variety of lighting products available on the market, the latter three can be adapted with ease to suit your home’s needs. The level of natural lighting, however, very much depends on your home’s location—a factor that can be limiting.

If your home doesn’t receive as much natural light as you’d like, sky lights may be the answer. Sky lights are a low-cost, high-impact feature that not only increases natural lighting, but also offers energy-saving benefits. ENERGY STAR-qualified, fresh air sky lights, in particular, can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, which can save you significant expense each month.

Light-filtering, light-blocking or light-controlling solar-powered blinds can also improve energy efficiency in tandem with sky lights, sometimes by as much as 45 percent. Some models are even operable by a programmable remote control, and may be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

Source: Velux Skylights

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Sustained Property Damage in a Disaster? Be Wary of Home Repair Fraud

March 30, 2016 2:16 am

Disasters can be devastating— but many homeowners will experience further devastation due to fraud.

“Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” says Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). “As any recovery gets underway, fraudsters often converge on affected areas to scam disaster victims out of their money while promising to do repairs. The last thing victims of disaster need is to be victimized again.”

Homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses. Typically, contractors go door to door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up or construction and repair services. One common scheme involves the contractor pocketing a down payment with no intention of completing the job. Another scheme involves contractors performing shoddy work or using inferior materials to increase their profit.

Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company—they will honor their policy, so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits repair work.

Wehrle and the NICB also suggest the following steps to take before hiring a contractor:

Get more than one estimate. Get everything in writing—cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.

Demand references and verify them.

Review the contractor’s driver's license. Write down the license number and his or her vehicle's license plate number.

Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms may be added later.

Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. Ensure reconstruction is up to current code.

Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier. Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language, and never he or she discourage you from contacting your insurance company.

Bear in mind, too, that almost all of these types of scams are unsolicited. Bottom line: if you didn’t request it, reject it.

Source: NICB

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8 Ways to Safeguard against Scams

March 29, 2016 2:10 am

Scammers have devised every possible scheme—and then some—in attempts to swindle millions out of their hard-earned money. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 2.5 million consumers submitted complaints about scams in the last year alone. Knowing the signs of a con can help you avoid falling prey to these ploys, says Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a nationally-recognized non-profit organization.

“Scammers often use the Internet, phone, email and pop-ups in an illegal attempt to defraud millions of consumers,” says Trumble. “Understanding all the different outlets and mechanisms used by scammers, and how to best guard against fraud, can help consumers avoid falling for common traps. In an effort to assist consumers, we have created a set of tips to help effectively avoid scams.”

These tips are:

1. Read all statements. Read through all of your bank and credit statements to check for charges you are unfamiliar with. Be sure to report unrecognizable transactions immediately.

2. Do not send money to strangers. Many scammers try to get consumers to wire money. If you are purchasing goods through an online auction, consider using a credit card that offers protection.

3. Do not reply to messages asking for information. Messages from unknown sources asking for financial or personal information are tricks to try to get consumers to unveil sensitive information, also known as phishing.

4. Be cautious when shopping via phone. Cell phones lack anti-virus software, which can leave consumers at risk when entering payment information. Shopping through retailers’ apps often provides more security.

5. Do not share Social Security numbers online. Legitimate websites and businesses rarely ask consumers to provide Social Security numbers.

6. Do not share personal identifying information over the phone. Never provide any personal information, including Social Security numbers or bank information, unless you have initiated the phone call and know who you are speaking with.

7. Choose credit over debit. Most credit cards come with fraud protection, which enables consumers to get their money back if they fall victim to fraud.

8. Use strong passwords. For secure accounts, create passwords that are hard to guess and include multiple numbers and characters.

And remember, Trumble says, that the most common forms of scams are fraud, identity theft, debt-in-collection and imposter schemes.

Source: ACCC

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Mortgages Average 47 Days to Close

March 29, 2016 2:10 am

Given market conditions—and regulation changes—the time needed to close a mortgage loan currently ranges anywhere from 44 to 50 days. According to a recently released Ellie Mae® report, the breakdown averages are as follows:

Purchase Loans – 48 days

Refinances – 44 days

FHA Loans – 47 days

VA Loans – 50 days

“This could be due to lenders becoming more familiar with the new loan estimate and closing disclosure forms and business process around Know Before You Owe,” explains Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

The average 30-year rate across all loan types fell to 4.22 percent last month.

Source: Ellie Mae®

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