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Edward E. Hodgson Jr.
1110 North Broad Street | Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215-362-2260 | Office Phone: 215-362-2260 | Fax: 267-354-6844
Cell: 215-850-6973 | email: ed@edhodgsonrealtor.com

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Create a Perfect View with the Perfect Patio Door

July 21, 2014 6:12 am

(BPT) - It's the time of year to get outside, dine on the deck, bask in the backyard or relax on the patio.

Is your home ready for summer entertaining or is it time for a remodeling or replacement project? If the answer is the latter, now's the time to get more out of your home by improving access to the great outdoors. You can do this by replacing your patio door. Replacing it can transform your home's view and comfort year-round.

1. Select a style: hinged or sliding. Hinged patio doors, often called French doors, add an elegant look to your home. Choose from popular options like two movable doors that swing open from the sides to allow room to move in big furniture or groups of guests, or movable and fixed door combinations that can hinge from the center, or a single door for simple elegance. You can also create a custom design, complete with sidelights or transom windows, to span your home's unique architecture.

If floor space is limited, or if your patio door opens to a balcony, consider a sliding patio door that takes up less floor space. Look for a patio door with the sliding panel on the outside, so that when the wind blows against it, the design creates a tighter, more energy-efficient seal to help keep your home comfortable.

2. Choose energy-efficient options. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to easily select energy-efficient patio door styles, including ones manufactured with vinyl, fiberglass or wood frames.

Vinyl doors offer exceptional energy performance and outstanding strength and weather resistance. Low-maintenance vinyl sliding doors will look great for years, without the need for painting.

For a durable product that withstands extreme weather, plus resists dents and high traffic from people or pets, consider a fiberglass patio door. Sleek, strong, highly-energy efficient fiberglass withstands extreme heat, cold, and moisture. With a long-lasting powder coat finish, fiberglass doors don't need painting and resist sagging and warping, even in dark colors or hot climates.

Alternatively, consider the natural warmth, beauty and energy-efficiency of wood patio doors. They are available in virtually any shape, size, grille pattern, and exterior color. You can save time by choosing factory prefinished wood interiors and trim.

3. Decide on decorative options. Optional between-the-glass shades or blinds help reduce dust accumulation, eliminating the dreaded chore of cleaning blinds or shades. Blinds or shades between-the-glass are a natural for patio doors, since they don't interfere with the operation of the door itself, yet make it a breeze to control light and privacy. Plus, shades and blinds without cords are safer options for homes with pets or children.

Choose from grilles permanently applied to the exterior of glass surfaces or with the added convenience of between-the-glass grille options that make cleaning a breeze. You can also consider removable grilles to transform your home's look from contemporary to Colonial in a snap.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Dishwasher Must-Haves

July 21, 2014 6:12 am

One of the smartest investments you can make when remodeling your kitchen is to replace outdated appliances. Sleek, modern versions instantly transform a tired kitchen into a contemporary hub of home activity. If you’re considering a new dishwasher, keep in mind these features before purchasing:

Speedy Cycles – This feature is a must for big families or households that entertain guests frequently. At the very least, look for a dishwasher that has a 20-minute quick cycle.

Time Indicator – Knowing how much time is left on a load is helpful if your dishwasher is loud. Many newer models have eliminated the timer, so be sure to shop around for one that offers a digital reading.

Soil Sensors – If you want to save on your utility bill, opt for a dishwasher with a soil sensor. Most come equipped with technology that automatically adjusts to a load’s soil level, conserving water and energy.

Adjustable Upper Rack – This one’s a no-brainer; an adjustable upper rack makes it easy to accommodate large dishes.

Alternative Flatware Storage – If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with the cleanliness of your dishes, choose a model with slots above the utensil baskets. This not only provides a thorough clean, but gives you the option to wash larger utensils.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Painless Ways to Pay Down Your Mortgage

July 21, 2014 6:12 am

Paying off a mortgage is a long-term commitment—30 years in most cases, and costing hundreds of thousands in interest. But if your goal is early retirement with a paid-off mortgage, you can meet that goal—and save many thousands in interest along the way—by paying down the principal with a few extra bucks here and there.

The caveat, said Moneycrash.com financial advisor David Bakke, is that you specify on these extra payment checks to your lender that the funds are to be used for principal deduction only.

Bakke offers four ideas for paying down your mortgage early while hardly feeling the pinch:
  • Lower the interest rate – Stay alert to opportunities to lower your mortgage rate. Dropping 1.5 to 2 percent interest from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can lower your payment by several hundred dollars per month. That’s money you can put toward retirement savings, vacations, or kids’ college accounts – or toward paying down your mortgage even faster.
  • Turn a small luxury into an extra payment habit – Consider the small, perhaps daily luxuries you are willing to forego; the $4 latte every morning…a magazine subscription you don’t need. Stash that money and use it toward principal reduction.
  • Turn underperforming investments into equity - Many people have investments that are returning less, as a percentage, than their home mortgage interest rate is costing them. If that's the case, and you have no reason to think that the investment will turn around soon, it might pay to put that money toward paying down the principal on your mortgage.
  • Stash those regular or unexpected little windfalls – Got an unexpected tax refund? A larger-than-expected birthday check? Or perhaps you save a few bucks on groceries each week by using those clipped coupons? Stash the money you saved, or any other extra amount, and apply it each month to mortgage principal.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Four Steps for Attacking Garage Organization

July 18, 2014 5:39 am

(Family Features) Organizing the garage may be one of the most feared tasks in household history. According to a recent Gladiator GarageWorks survey, nearly three out of four households can only park one car in their two-car garage, illustrating the need for a serious garage intervention.

The importance of having a well-organized garage isn’t only for improved functionality – it also helps add overall value to a home. More than 80 percent of real estate brokers or agents recently surveyed said that a cluttered, unorganized garage can have a negative impact on a potential home buyer’s first impression.

There are a few steps that can help homeowners prepare for the ultimate battle against clutter and reclaim their space in the garage:

1. Clean and Prep
Clutter is one of the biggest issues with garage organization. The only way to know what is in the garage is to remove all of the items inside and start with a clean slate. As you remove items from the garage, be realistic about what you do and do not use and separate them into three categories: keep, donate and toss.

2. Have a Game Plan
First, measure the garage so you can make an accurate plan for storage solutions and factor in large items, such as lawn mowers and sporting equipment. Next, decide how to group similar items and what your storage needs are. For example, do you prefer to hang items on hooks, store in baskets or be able to hide items in cabinets? Start exploring your options.

3. Build Your Storage System
Use the walls in your garage to get gear off the floor and maximize storage space by choosing storage solutions that are durable and long lasting. For instance, stackable plastic storage bins or shelving units can sometimes reduce clutter, but they aren’t always built to handle extreme temperatures in the garage.

4. Add Final Touches
Once you have stored large items in your garage, it’s time to add some final touches to maximize efficiency and make your workspace functional. Keep a trashcan nearby your work area so it stays free of garbage and debris. Hang tools near your workbench so you can easily put them back in their proper place. Utilize smaller bins and storage containers for screws, nails and other small items so they don’t clutter your space.

Source: Gladiator GarageWorks

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Research Shows Four out of 10 Americans Have Lost Their Mobile Device

July 18, 2014 5:39 am

Four out of 10 U.S. consumers surveyed have suffered the loss of their mobile device, according to new research from Inhance Technology, the global leader in device protection programs for the wireless retail, insurance and loyalty industries.

Men (46 percent) are more likely to have had their smartphone or tablet lost, stolen or damaged beyond use compared to women (37 percent). Eighteen to thirty-four year olds are particularly vulnerable with 63 percent reporting loss, theft or damage.

The survey also found that 40 percent of U.S. consumers are most likely to lose their mobile device while commuting. A quarter (25 percent) are most likely to suffer loss of their mobile in a bar or night club. Eighteen percent lose their device at home.

Source: Inhance Technology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Ways to Keep Homes Energy Efficient While on Vacation

July 18, 2014 5:39 am

Summer months are a popular time for many families to take a vacation. If you plan on spending time away from your home this summer, remember to prepare it for your absence. With the proper preparations you can cut electrical costs and keep your home and electronics safe while you are away.

The Energy Education Council offers these tips to help prepare your home for vacation:
  • Change thermostat settings before you leave. When temperatures are warm outside, it is unnecessary to keep your home as cool as you normally would since you will not be in it. Turn the thermostat up to a warmer temperature or turn it off entirely. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can adjust it to cool down the house just in time for your return home.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics. You will not use your computer, television, or toaster while you are away, but they will use continue to use energy and waste money if you do not unplug them. Even when appliances are turned off, many of them go into standby mode and continue to draw power. Unplug appliances and electronics to prevent phantom power draw. This also protects your electronics if there is a power surge in your absence.
  • Adjust the water heater. The water heater can account for 15 to 25 percent of the average energy bill. Water heaters continue to use energy to keep the stored water warm. Since you are not using this water while on vacation, either adjust the water heater temperature to the lowest setting, or turn it off if you will be gone for more than three days.
  • Put lights on a timer. If you plan on leaving lights on to deter burglars, set a timer. You can save money by not having lights on constantly and make it appear that people are home by varying the times the lights are on.
Additionally, there are other ways to make your home more efficient throughout the summer, not just while on vacation:
  • Clean your air conditioning unit. Blocked or dirty air filters and coils can reduce your system's ability to push and pull air through vents, so make sure to wash or replace filters. Also remove debris from around the outside unit.
  • For inside lighting, use CFL or LED bulbs. Not only do they save energy, but they also give off less heat than regular incandescent bulbs, keeping your home cooler.
  • Make sure all air leaks are sealed. Inspect caulking around windows, doors, and any openings into the home. Weather stripping and caulking will help maintain your home's temperature.
  • Close your drapes or curtains during sunny or hot days. This helps prevent the summer sun from warming up your home through the windows.
  • Clean off ceiling fans. Make sure they are circulating air in the correct direction for the season. During warm months, ceiling fans should operate in a counter-clockwise direction. This creates a cooling effect at less cost than air conditioning.
Source: Energy Education Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Sell Quickly with Master Suite Upgrades

July 17, 2014 5:27 am

(BPT) - All signs point to a recovering real estate market. Experts say more inventory will be available and buyers will have an easier time getting mortgages, all of which means more competition among sellers.

If you plan to put your home on the market this season, you might be looking for the most cost-effective renovations to set your house apart from the competition. Assuming you've already taken care of the two top rooms to renovate - kitchen and bathroom - what's your next move?

Three words: master suite upgrades.

Americans spend a lot of time in the bedroom. The master suite is, arguably, the area of the house where you most want to feel like the king or queen of your domain. After you've wowed potential buyers with a great kitchen and bathroom, a beautiful master suite could be the feature that seals the deal.

A mid-range master suite addition recoups 67.5 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. Fortunately, you can create a big impact on a master suite with a modest remodeling budget.

Many masters occupy the second floor, making them prime locations for an upgrade that is attention-grabbing, energy-efficient and practical, all without being costly: skylights.

Natural light and fresh air can make a room feel larger, more open and more welcoming. Opening a wall to add a window is rarely practical, but skylights can bring natural light and improve air quality in a master with less fuss. If yours is on the first floor, tubular skylights can deliver natural light into spots where a traditional skylight won't work.

For your second-floor master, an ENERGY STAR-certified solar-powered, fresh-air skylight provides daylight, privacy and more security than an open window (always a concern for a bedroom), as well as cost-effective passive ventilation. Add solar-powered blinds and skylight energy performance ratings improve by as much as 45 percent. Even better, the installation of solar-powered skylights and blinds, plus installation costs, can be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

Often, sellers focus on big-picture issues and overlook the small details that win buyers' hearts. For example, while it's important to paint the walls a neutral, appealing color, don't forget to repaint baseboards, window trim, ceilings and inside closets, too - all significantly affect the overall look of a room.

Be sure to repaint the master bathroom in a color that complements the master bedroom. Add decadent but cost-effective touches like plush towels, a towel-warming rack and an upgraded shower head and faucets. Consider the shower door. Is it old and shabby-looking with glass that has become hazy? Replacing it is a simple, quick fix that will put a bright face on the shower stall. Swap out a straight shower curtain rod for a curved one that greatly increases the spaciousness of the shower area.

Add light, airy curtains to make the room look bigger and brighter, luxurious bedding to impart a restful atmosphere, and you'll have created a master suite that's sure to be an asset when it's time to sell.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


More Young-Adult Households Adopt Smart Energy

July 17, 2014 5:27 am

Research shows young homeowners, those with children, and those in a home for 3-4 years are leading the adoption of Internet-connected energy devices. Parks Associates reveals more than 10 percent of U.S. households with homeowners aged 25-34 own at least one smart home energy management device.

The entry of major service providers such as ADT, AT&T, and Comcast is helping to increase homeowner awareness and adoption of smart home solutions. Product lines from major retailers such as Staples and Lowe's will increase competition in this space as they introduce home energy products to their large base of consumers.

Smart energy management products provide remote alerts and status updates to consumers, who can then access and control the device from a smartphone or other mobile device. Smart programmable thermostats, smart lighting, smart outlets, plugs and power strips, and smart kitchen appliances are all entering the market in growing numbers.

Furthermore, seven percent of these households plan to purchase a smart thermostat in the next year; however, findings show that they prefer smart home systems with extended capabilities that integrate multiple devices, not stand-alone products.

Source: Parks Associates

Published with permission from RISMedia.


10 New Uses for Household Items

July 17, 2014 5:27 am

You know that egg carton you threw out in the trash? Tear the top off the next one, and stow the business half in a desk drawer. It’s the perfect way to keep rubber bands, push pins, paper clips and more in neat, uncluttered order.

So prompts lifestyle blogger Brit Morin, who offers 10 more ways to get double duty from ordinary household items:
  • Disposable ice packs – Fill small balloons partially full and freeze them. Pack them in an ice chest for a colorful way to keep food and drinks cold on the move.
  • Package opener – Hate that clamshell packaging that seems impossible to open? Use a can opener to slice through one side of the plastic.
  • Add a key – Save your manicure by using a staple remover to pry open a key ring to add or remove a key.
  • Melon baller – An ice cream scoop used as a melon baller will give you larger, prettier portions of fruit for your next company platter.
  • Candle lighter – Don’t burn your fingers using a match to light those birthday or outdoor candles. Light the end of a strand of spaghetti and use that as your lighter.
  • Bathroom caddy – Short on bathroom space? Hang a plastic shoe organizer on the back of the door to hold curling iron, hair dryer, big bottles of body lotion and more.
  • Jewelry holder – Keep bracelets, chains and necklaces from snarling by storing them individually in the cups of a plastic ice cube tray placed in a dresser drawer.
  • Shoe holder – Don’t throw out that empty cardboard wine carton. Laid on its side in your closet, it can behave like a cheap shoe organizer to keep your shoes off the floor.
  • Pool noodle boot keeper – Done with your pool noodles for the year? Cut them in half and stuff them in your boots to help the boots stand up in your closet.
  • Herb chopper – Protect your fingers by chopping herbs with a pair of scissors instead of a knife. Snipping them directly into the bowl, platter or measuring cup saves washing the cutting board, too.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Give Your Kitchen a Facelift with Updated Appliances

July 16, 2014 5:15 am

(Family Features) Ever hear the saying “kitchens sell a home?” Well it’s true; the kitchen is the most important room in the home. Whether you’re considering putting your house on the market or investing in your home for personal long-term enjoyment, an upgraded and attractive kitchen can make your home irresistible.

While a well-designed kitchen incorporates elements of luxury and style, it’s also important to focus on kitchen updates that will make everyday life easier — so you can spend less time doing chores and more time making memories with the family.

A simple way to give your kitchen an instant facelift is to replace old, outdated or mismatched appliances with newer models. They are not only aesthetically appealing but they can simplify the cooking and cleanup process. Here are some key points to consider when purchasing:

Maintenance-free stainless steel appliances
When potential home buyers walk into a kitchen, the first thing they will look for are updated and matching appliances. An appealing kitchen is one with a complete set of matching appliances for a modern and inviting appearance.

Many buyers love the look of stainless steel appliances but are reluctant to purchase because of fingerprints and watermarks. To alleviate that concern, look for new technologies that resist streaks and smudges.

Maximizing time and space in the kitchen
When trying to maximize space in your kitchen, built-in and counter depth appliances are the way to go. In fact, counter depth appliances, like refrigerators, give you back over four inches of kitchen space. Built-in wall ovens and cooktops increase countertop space as well as cooking capacity, not to mention a sleek looking kitchen and entertaining space.

Consider the different types of cooktops available too — gas, electric or induction. Induction cooktops are in high demand because they offer more precise and efficient cooking methods.

Flexible storage options that can save you money
When it comes to purchasing refrigerators and freezers, it’s important to find something that allows for adjustable storage to meet personal, lifestyle needs. Owning a secondary freezer allows you to make one and a half less trips to the store each month and saves an average of 60 hours per year at the grocery store, according to Frigidaire research. Overall, those who own a secondary freezer say it allows them to stock up on family favorite foods, and the extra storage space lets them take advantage of sales and buying in bulk.

Making a few easy kitchen upgrades can add instant value and save you time, making your home more enjoyable for you and your family.

Source: Frigidaire

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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