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End-Of-Year Giving!

by Scott Darling

With a little less than a month left in the year, many begin to think about charitable donations.  Once you’ve decided on an amount to give, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

 

  • - Did you give last year?  Do a quick check of the organization’s website, or give them a call to see what sort of strides they’ve taken.  If you’re not satisfied, or don’t see progress, consider another charity. 

  • - As difficult as it can be to narrow your donation to one organization, a larger gift can be more beneficial as one gift, instead of spreading your donations around. 

  • - Keep in mind that there are thousands of charities who don’t have it in their budgets to advertise.  Consider giving to a local charity, or a national one that’s lesser known. 

  • - Once you’ve narrowed down your list, call the charities if you can’t find their mission statements online, and ask questions.  It’s the best way to get the information you need. 

  • - Although there’s nothing wrong with giving to your alma mater or the hospital that took such great care of a family member, find out if your local homeless or domestic violence shelter needs help.  These kinds of organizations usually struggle to make ends meet in providing services.   

  • - Make sure your charity is legitimate, and it’s very important to check their finances. Charity Navigator’s website will let your search a charity’s name and get feedback. 

  • - Because donations are tax-deductible, the IRS has a search tool that allows you to see what organizations are eligible for tax-deduction gifts. There are other handy options, such as seeing what organizations are no longer allowed to be considered exempt. 

  • - Avoid scams--charitable giving is at a high at the year’s end, and crooks abound.  Use the above IRS search tool to make sure your charity is legitimate charity. 

  • - Keep receipts, check stubs or letters of thanks for when you’re filing taxes.  If your donation isn’t monetary, but something valued at over $5,000, the IRS requires an appraisal for your deduction. 

  • - Do you volunteer? Any out-of-pocket directly related expenses--even mileage--are tax deductible.  

  • - Keep in mind that last-minute online donations made December 30-31 are eligible for a tax write-off.  

 

Deciding who should benefit from your generosity can be a tough or easy decision, depending on what you already know. Just look for charities that depend on your generosity to keep their doors open, or who need your physical presence to be successful.  Giving isn’t always about money.  

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: http://yis.org/end-of-year-giving/

Safely Decorating with Outdoor Lights!

by Scott Darling

It’s time to get the holiday house decorating in high gear, and you may have bought new light strands, but plan on mixing them with ones you have, or adding LED lights.  Safety is important this time of year, and making the days merry and the nights bright means taking a few precautions. 

 

  • - Check your old lights for frayed wires, nicks or cuts along the outer cord, and broken bulbs. Broken bulbs can be replaced, but toss the frayed strands, or those with cuts. 

  • - Decorating the exterior of your house means the lights you use must be made for outdoors.  Check the packaging or tag on the string to make certain. 

  • - Use clips or hangers that are UL-approved--do NOT nail, tack, or staple lights to any fixture. 

  • - If you’d like to light a tree in your yard, make absolute certain no power lines run through the branches, and keep any lighting at least ten feet from power lines. 

  • - Make sure your extension cords are specifically made for outdoor use, and have a three-pronged ground plug.  Your receptacle should be a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet in case of electrical overload, it will shut off power.  Portable outdoor GFCI’s are available for very little cost at Amazon. 

  • - Read and heed all labels when it comes to connecting strings of lights.  If the label says only three can be connected to one another, start a new chain of lights after the third strand is in place.  Also keep in mind that only strands with the same number of bulbs should be connected--in other words, don’t connect a 100-strand with two 25-strands. 

  • - Keep extension cords away from high-traffic areas, and out from under welcome mats or pavers. 

  • - Many people start decorating long before Christmas, but be aware that most non-commercial light strands are only safely exposed to the elements for 90 days.  Any longer, and deterioration to the insulation will begin.   

  • - Avoid using a metal ladder if you’re having to get up high with your lights--use wooden or fiberglass instead. 

  • - Never leave lights on when you’re not at home, or asleep.   

  • - If you’re considering adding LED’s to your holiday display, make sure you don’t mix connecting with incandescent.  Going all-LED will be costlier upon start-up, but will save money on your power bill, as well as in replacement costs--LED’s can last up to twenty years. 

 

You don’t want a friendly neighborhood competition to turn into disaster, nor do you want a classic Clark Griswold power outage at home.  Know your home’s electrical limits, and use common sense and care while you’re decorating. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: health.usnews.com

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for October 2017

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for October 2017

Chester County PA single family homes saw pending sales increase by 16.2% in October 2017 when compared to October 2016. 502 homes sold in October with a median sales price of $340,000, a 11.5% increase from October 2016.  The average sales price increased by 4.6%, and homes were on the market 12 days less.

If you are thinking about selling your home get a free instant home evaluation Learn More

Tips for Creating a Pet-Friendly Home

by Scott Darling

The addition of a pet to a home is one of the biggest and best decisions a family can make.  Is your home ready for the task? Follow these tips for making your home pet-friendly. 

 

Outside 

  • 1. A safe environment is as important for a pet as it is for children.  The first step in keeping them safe is a fence.  Not only does it keep your pets in, it keeps others’ animals out. 

  • 2. Have an ID tag on your pet’s collar, with your name and contact information just in case they do get out.  Having them microchipped is an excellent option for identification purposes. 

  • 3. When house-training, encourage your pet to use a specific area of the yard for easy clean-up, keeping the smell away from the house.  Welcomepup.com blog has a potty-area diy. 

  • 4. A pathway to the door of gravel, cement, or other materials that aren’t plant-based will help knock off any debris that catch on paws before they come in. 

  • 5. If your animals have to stay outside when you are away for a short time, make sure they have shelter, food and, most importantly, water. 

  • 6. A play area in your yard would be great for dogs, especially, but make sure you have paths they can walk and run on, and nothing hazardous to them if they get too excited in their play. 

  • 7. Incorporating a water feature that doubles as a pet-friendly cooling-off spot is perfect for Summer outdoor play for your pets. 

  • 8. Consider the plants in your landscaping, and make sure you have nothing that can make your pet ill if they ingest it.  A great list of poisonous-to-animals plant list.  

  • 9. Make sure window screens are secure when you open them, in case Kitty wants to enjoy a nap in the open area--you don’t want her falling out of the window. Investing in a “cat condo” would be ideal for indoor cats to enjoy the outdoors safely. 

 

Inside Your Home 

  • 1. When looking for safety hazards, you should have an animal’s eye view.  Have someone get onto the floor and look for wires, window treatment cords, and anything else that is hidden from a human’s view, but could be attractive and harmful for a pet. 

  • 2. It would be ideal to have a pet-washing area in the mudroom, but if that isn’t possible, think about shelving or a storage cabinet near the door for towels, leashes and outdoor toys. 

  • 3. A cat’s litter box should be in a quiet area away from food.  It would be optimal to have one more box than cats. 

  • 4. Keep garbage in a container with child-proof lid, as dogs and cats both can figure out how to get into the trash and make a mess, and maybe eat something harmful. 

  • 5. Area rugs should be machine-washable and inexpensive, in case you need to throw them away after multiple washing, or too much dirt. 

  • 6. Crate-training is best for dogs, but most animals need a space of their own.  Provide a comfy pet bed, toys and food and water in a quiet area of the house. 

  • 7. Keeping pets brushed, toenails trimmed, and bedding changed and washed regularly is essential in keeping you from doing a lot of extra cleaning and floor repairs.  A hard surface, scratch-resistant floor is perfect for homes with pets. 

  • 8. Smaller pets that require their own habitat have specialized needs: safety from larger pets, child-proof habitat covers, a room with certain temperature and humidity setting. 

  • 9. Check with your local municipality to see if you need permits for exotic pets. 

 

Having a pet of any kind is a big responsibility.  As they become part of the family, make sure you provide the best home, the same as you would for a relative.  When your pets are happy, it just adds to the sweetness that pets bring to life. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: pinterest.com

Preventing Pests

by Scott Darling

We normally associate pests and insects with Summer time, but now is a good time to think about what you can do to prevent creepy crawlers coming in to your home. It’s a simple matter of checking the outside as well as the inside, and staying ahead of them. 

Exterior 

  • 1. When you mulch plants, keep it from piling up against the house’s foundation. Insects can use the mulch for overwintering, but if you could add a border of rock or stone between the mulch and the house, or even use cedar mulch, it would discourage pests. 
  • 2. Inspect your foundation carefully for cracks or holes, as well as places where utility pipes and wires enter your home.  Cover or fill them with wire screen mesh, cement, or metal flashing. 
  • 3. Outside lights, when left on, draw flying insects, but if you can change the bulbs from incandescent to halogen, they are less attracted to the glow.  
  • 4. Check doors and windows for openings, and seal them with caulking or weatherstripping, and repair any holes in your screens. 
  • 5. Keep trash cans and surrounding areas clean, and make sure lids fit tight. Recyclables should be rinsed well, and container lids put back on before tossing them in the recycle bin. 
  • 6. If you have anything that can retain water, empty it as often as possible, and use a larvicide in your landscape’s water features.   
  • 7. If you use firewood, store it away from your home, at least thirty feet. 
  • 8. Gutters should be cleaned periodically, not only for their efficiency, but to help keep pests from making a home in the debris. 

Interior 

  • 1. The most important pest prevention tip for the inside of your home is cleanliness.  Keep crumbs off the counters and floors, clean food messes immediately, and keep food consumption limited to the kitchen. Wash up dishes before going to bed at night.  
  • 2. Storing open food in plastic containers with lids or plastic storage bags will lessen the chances of pests finding it. 
  • 3. Check stored grains, (flour, sugar, cornmeal), often, and discard it as soon as the expiration date passes.  Storing these in a sealed container is best. 
  • 4. Pet food is best kept in a storage container with a tight-fitting lid. 
  • 5. Keep inside garbage in a trash can fitted with a bag, and keep the lid closed. Remove the bag to the outside can as soon as it’s full. 
  • 6. Vacuum carpets frequently, especially if you have pets.  They can bring in little hitch hikers when they come in from being outdoors. 
  • 7. Inspect all baseboards, and replace or repair them if they’re broken, and walls should be checked for holes, and repaired as soon as possible. 

If you see pests in or out of your home, it’s best to call a professional to address the problem, and do it quickly so you don’t suffer an infestation.  Once you know you’re clear of bugs, it only takes a few minutes each week to keep them from feeling at home in your home.  

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: pestco.com

Gulph Mills PA Real Estate For Sale: 224 Balligomingo Rd

by Scott Darling

As they say... Location, Location, Location! This property provides quick and easy access to Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Wayne, Conshohocken, and the Main Line. Check out this updated 2 bedroom single family home with its new carpet, interior and exterior paint, and landscaping as well as all new gutters, chimney liner, and lighting fixtures. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the outdoors on the HUGE deck overlooking the wooded area surrounding Gulph Creek. A full walkout basement with utility sink, washer, and dryer provides plenty of space for laundry, storage, and a workshop. The basement can also be finished to create additional living space. Whether you're a first time buyer or even an investor, this charming home in Gulph Mills is a great find. Don’t wait! This property is priced to sell!

Glenmoore PA Real Estate For Sale: 670 Marshall Road

by Scott Darling

Lovely 3.5 acre lot in excellent location in Wallace Township! Slightly rolling topography suitable for your new home. Can easily have a walk out basement. Possible subdivision. There is currently an older mobile home on the lot that has a septic and well. There are tenants in the mobile home renting for $800/month. The mobile home is NOT financeable. It’s a 1974 mobile home. The detached garage belongs to the tenant. You can purchase with cash or lot/land/building financing. You may also want to consider keeping the current tenants until your building plan is ready, helping you defer some of your upfront costs. Close to Marsh Creek state park. Downingtown West/STEM Academy schools and Springton Manor elementary.  Also listed as Residential. See MLS# 7077092.

Fung Shui Ideas for Your New Home

by Scott Darling

Decorating a new home is a fun process.  Whether or not you are an experienced decorator,  you can look and feel like a pro with the aid of some fung shui.  Below are a few ideas on how to make it work for your new home.  

 

  1. 1. Many folks like to hang mirrors at their entrance way to make the space look larger and more inviting as well.  Be sure to place your mirror on a side wall as you walk in instead of directly across from the door.  This will help with the flow of things as guests enter your house.  They will be able to see themselves and feel welcomed as they arrive as opposed to feeling like they are being pushed out with their own reflection.   
     

  1. 2. Another way to make fung shui work for you  is to keep clutter to a minimum.  This is especially true in the bedroom because a bedroom is a place of rest.  If there is a lot of junk all around the room those who spend time there will likely feel a bit disheveled.  If you feel as if you don’t know enough about this topic to do the job right, you can always higher an expert to help get you started in the right direction.   
     

  1. 3. Make sure that if you want to have live plants in your home that you place them in areas where folks will be hanging out and spending quality time together.  Try not to place live plants in areas where sleep takes place such as the bedroom because you need items that give off restfulness.    
     

  1. 4. Leaving the toilet lid closed is a great, easy little trick that will help to make everyone who enters your bathroom feel good about the space.
      
      

  1. 5. Keeping the flooring all one type in the home helps the energy to flow freely.  Try not to use two different types of flooring butted up against one another if you can help it as this will weaken the energy of the home.   
     

  1. 6. Be sure to place your bed across from the door to the bedroom or at least at a spot where the door can be easily seen.  This will enhance the comfort level of the room as opposed to putting the bed on the same wall as the door.   

  2.  

Fung Shui is fun and interesting and it really does work to help the energy of the home  feel comfortable and welcoming.  

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: lakecountrykeys.com

Fall Home Maintenance

by Scott Darling

Fall is the perfect time of year to take care of your home. The days are still long enough to get plenty accomplished, and the cooler weather makes it less taxing than on those sweltering Summer days.  Getting things ready for the cold days ahead will be easy with these tips: 

 

Trees and Leaves 

  • 1. Rake or vacuum fallen leaves as they come down.  Deciduous trees drop their leaves at different times, making it easier on you, but it’s great exercise. 

  • 2. Mulch the leaves, or bag them for your local waste management to compost, if such a program is available.   

  • 3. Check trees for dead or diseased branches and trim them back.  Trees are going dormant this time of year, and there’s less chance for the diseases to spread after trimming. Call an arborist if the job is too daunting. 

  • 4. Fall is the best time of year to plant new trees! The roots don’t have to compete with the heat, they get plenty of water from the Autumn rain, and can settle in and get established.  

  • 5. Clean those gutters.  This can be a dreaded task, so hire a handy person or have the family pitch in to finish as quickly as possible. 

  • 6. Been thinking about changing the exterior color? Fall is a great time to paint, thanks to cooler temperatures. 

 

General Outdoors 

  • 1. Bring in any outdoor furniture, or protect it with covers  made specifically for handling cold weather.   

  • 2. Firewood needs to be covered with a tarp to minimize moisture from snow and rain. Lift the cover occasionally to let any trapped moisture escape. 

  • 3. Check all of your outdoor lighting, and replace any bulbs or fixtures.  

  • 4. Walk around all of the walkways and driveways, looking for cracks, and seal them with approved sealant.  Snow and ice can cause the surfaces to bulge and cause a falling hazard. 

  • 5. Clean the windows, inside and out, and replace screens with storm windows. 

  • Service and store the mower, string trimmer, and any other lawn tools you may use. 

  • 6. Drain water hoses and store them where they can’t freeze. If you have a sprinkler system, drain it and turn it off. 

  • 7. Check your outdoor fireplace or fire pit to make sure it’s safe for the upcoming cool evenings around the fire. 

 

Inside The House 

  • 1. Service the furnace. It’s easy to make sure filters are changed and ready to go, but a call to a heat and air contractor is the best way to make sure the heater is ready for Winter.  Sometimes a maintenance contract can save you money.  Ask your provider if they offer this service.  

  • 2. Check doors and windows for drafts, and seal with caulking or insulation strips. 

  • See that your chimney is free of creosote to prevent fires.  A licensed chimney sweep would be the best for making sure your home and family are safe from chimney fires. 

  • 3. Make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order, and replace batteries if necessary. 

  • 4. Go in the attic and look for any insulation issues, and replace or repair, if needed.  Be sure that pests can’t get inside and spend the winter in your attic! 

  • 5. Change the rotation on ceiling fans.  It should be going in a clockwise direction to help distribute heat away from the ceiling. 

  • 6. Wash and/or air out heavy blankets and quilts to get them freshened up for use. 

  • 7. If you have a basement in your home, check for cracks in the walls, and if there’s a sump pump, make sure it’s in working order. 

  • 8. Clean out closets and storage areas and have a tag sale with unwanted items that are still in great condition. 

  

Be ready for a relaxing, warm Winter inside your home.  Home maintenance--indoors as well as outdoors--is critical for keeping your home’s value up, as well as for our own comfort. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends For August 2017

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for August 2017

Chester County PA single family homes saw pending sales decrease by 8.7% in August 2017 when compared to August 2016. 701 homes sold in August with a median sales price of $350,000, a 10.8% increase from August 2016.  The average sales price increased by 10.5%, and homes were on the market 5 days less.

If you are thinking about selling your home get a free instant home evaluation Learn More

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Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275