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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

Few areas of the country are immune to natural disasters or severe weather. Whether you live in a hurricane zone or face icy winters, it is important to prepare your home and family to weather the storm and know the potential health and safety risks that may arise in emergency situations.

Beyond inconvenience, widespread and long-term power outages resulting from storms raise a much more serious concern: carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. While the poisonous gas can come from any fossil fuel-burning appliance or vehicle, the risk posed by generators is of particular concern because of this year’s devastating storm season.

“Simple preparation, along with an understanding of the risks of CO, are key factors for protecting your home and loved ones both during storm season and throughout the year,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “The risk of CO can occur anytime — not just during emergencies — which is why installing and regularly testing CO alarms are an integral part of any home safety plan.”

What is CO?

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” the gas is colorless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without a CO alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year.

CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose — often until it’s too late. Symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses, and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardio-respiratory failure or death.

Sources of CO may include, but are not limited to, generators, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.

What should you do?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing CO alarms on every level of the home, including the basement, and within 15 feet of all sleeping rooms. These alarms are the first line of defense against CO poisoning. Checking alarms regularly and following manufacturer instructions for alarms and all home equipment play an equally vital role.

In case of power outage, never use a generator indoors. Portable electricity generators must be used outside only and should never be used in a garage or in any confined area that can allow CO to collect. When running a generator, be sure to remain 15 to 20 feet away from the outside perimeter of the home and be careful to follow operating instructions closely.

Additional areas to consider include the kitchen stove, a frequent source of CO poisoning in the home. Ensure the kitchen vent or exhaust fan is running to limit exposure. For any fuel-burning appliances in the home, make sure to have a professional inspect them regularly to detect any CO leaks. This includes items such as the furnace, oven, fireplace, dryer and water heater.

If you have an attached garage, it is extremely important to never leave your car running inside. Even if the garage door is open, CO emissions can leak inside the home.

CO alarms should be battery-powered or hardwired with battery backup. To help ensure your family is protected, First Alert offers a variety of alarms to meet all needs, including a table-top alarm with a 10-year sealed battery and digital display to see detected CO levels in parts per million. Additional alarm options include plug-in and wall-mount alarms, hardwired alarms with battery backup, and a combination smoke and CO alarm for 2-in-1 protection.

In addition to carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, along with smoke alarms, should be an integral part of a comprehensive home safety plan.

Most importantly, if your CO alarm sounds, go outside for fresh air immediately and call 911. To learn more about CO safety or other home safety tips from First Alert, visit www.firstalert.com.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content.

The temperature may not have dropped just yet, but make no mistake, fall is coming. Soon enough, baseball will give way to football, green leaves will turn yellow and red and your lawn care routine will take on a whole new set of tasks. Fall lawn care isn’t the long marathon of the summer yard season, but it packs plenty of work into a few short months before the winter. You can make this lawn care blitz a little bit easier by applying the following tips.

* Stimulate your lawn. While your grass may no longer need its weekly mowing in the fall, you can’t ignore it until spring. Look for brown, tan or white patches on your lawn, as this can be a sign of mold growth. Apply a lawn fungicide to halt this growth and an organic fertilizer to stop its spread and support future root growth.

* Blow those leaves away. Raking leaves can be a Herculean task, so simplify the process by investing in a lithium-ion blower. The Greenworks 60-volt Backpack Blower is a heavy-duty solution perfect for homeowners with a quarter to three-quarters of an acre to cover. And for yard-lovers that prefer a handheld blower, Greenworks has you covered there too! Both solutions are lightweight and reduce noise while eliminating emissions, and because they're battery powered, you don’t have to bother with mixing gas and oil.

* Seed and sod. If you do notice patches of dead grass in your yard — a common occurrence if fallen leaves have not been blown away — don’t wait until spring to address the issue. Over-seeding the area can rectify the problem if the spaces are small. If your lawn has significant portions that have died, it may be time to look into sodding options instead for more comprehensive coverage.

* A fresh spray clean. A season’s worth of wind and rain can leave the sides of your home looking pretty dingy. Fall cleanup is the perfect time to give your home a reset by spraying down your siding, decks, and patios. Greenworks 2200 PSI Electric Pressure Washer is an environmentally friendly gas-alternative solution with five nozzles that allow you to adjust the tool’s water pressure based on the task at hand. The pressure washer is also designed with Smart Response Technology to adjust motor RPMs as nozzles are changed, ensuring the perfect water flow for every job — and the on board LED display guides you to the best job for each nozzle, letting you clean your home in a smart, efficient way.

* A hole in the ground supports future growth. Fall is arguably the best time of year to aerate your yard, allowing water, oxygen and fertilizer to more easily reach the root structure of your grass. Self-propelled aerators are relatively inexpensive, and you can also rent one if you plan to make this a once-a-year chore. Whatever you decide, tackling this chore now will allow your lawn to grow back thicker and fuller next year when it will be time to start thinking about spring lawn care once again.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content.

West Chester PA Real Estate For Sale: 224 Smallwood Ct

by Scott Darling

Beautiful Exton Station Townhome is now available! This 3 bedroom two and a half bath home has been gone over with a fine tooth comb getting ready for the market and now it’s ready for you to visit. The covered front porch welcomes you as you enter the foyer of this lovely home. Glance to the right and you will be amazed as you see the updated kitchen with granite counter tops and a designer backsplash highlighted by undercabinet lighting. There’s lots cabinets providing plenty of storage. The adjacent breakfast area brings in the beautiful outdoors with its large windows. The living room also is very bright and features a wood burning fireplace, recessed lighting and a sliding glass door to the spacious deck overlooking a vast open space to play on. A first-floor updated powder room wraps up this level. Upstairs is the master bedroom with a private bath and lots of closet space. Two additional bedrooms and a hall bath compliment the balance of this level. There is also a pull-down attic access for extra storage as needed. The basement is finished but also houses the utilities and a storage room. The square footage noted (1,400 SF) does not include the finished area in the basement so you’ll actually get more living space than expected. Included in your very affordable association dues is, a pool, tennis and basketball facilities and many other convenient amenities. The location to dynamite as it’s close to West Chester, Exton and the train station. Stop by for a visit. You’ll be glad you did.

Downingtown PA Real Estate For Sale: 15 Brookhollow Dr

by Scott Darling

Stunning home in Uwchlan Township and Downingtown East High School. Located in the Weaver’s Pond development and priced below other large Colonials in the area, this lovely home has a lot to offer. You can move in today knowing that your new home is updated and just waiting for you to make it yours. Close to everything and on cul-de-sac location. You'll be wowed by this home. As you enter through the front door, you are immediately greeted by a 2-story foyer and gorgeous hardwood floors. The eat-in kitchen includes oak cabinets, a center island, ceramic tile backsplash, Corian counters, and skylights - the perfect spot to enjoy your morning breakfast with the sun shining in. The family room has hardwood floors, a brick fireplace and sliding doors leading to the deck – perfect for moving indoor entertainment to the outdoors. The formal dining room, living room, powder room, and laundry facilities complete first floor living. All the rooms are very large and there's even a huge basement in case you need extra space. The master bedroom has a luxury master bath, large walk-in closet and large walk-in attic space for additional storage. You will want to make sure see this home.

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for July 2017

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for July 2017

Chester County PA single family homes saw pending sales increase by 8.8% in July 2017 when compared to July 2016. 639 homes sold in July with a median sales price of $350,000, a 2.9% increase from July 2016.  The average sales price increased by 3.8%, and homes were on the market 20 days less.

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

3 steps to a more secure home

by Scott Darling

More than 75 percent of Americans are concerned about the security of their home, yet few think about door hardware when it comes to added protection.

In fact, out of those who have ever purchased a new lockset or deadbolt, only 19 percent have done so with the safety of their home in mind, according to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). However, when it comes to protecting your home, the right lockset or deadbolt can provide the best first line of defense.

When purchasing new locks, it isn’t simply “one size fits all.” Choosing the right lock or deadbolt for your specific needs can sometimes seem overwhelming. Two in five Americans polled don’t even know what factors to look for when purchasing one.

While many of today’s locks deliver improved security for your home, be sure to follow these easy steps to ensure you’re properly selecting and installing the product that best suits your needs.

1. Look for the BHMA Certified Secure Home label.

The hardware industry has strict standards when it comes to the quality of locks and deadbolts, and BHMA is the only organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop and maintain these standards. Each lock or deadbolt that features the BHMA Certified Secure Home label on its packaging has been tested to these stringent standards — the highest performance standards for residential hardware. The label also indicates that the product has been certified in three different areas: security, durability and finish. Products without the Secure Home label are not assured to have been tested and certified by a third-party laboratory.

2. Check the ratings combination.

Once a lock or deadbolt is tested to ANSI/BHMA standards for security, durability and finish, it is given a rating of Good (C), Better (B) or Best (A) in each area based on its performance during testing. The rating system is defined by progressive levels of performance requirements. Be sure to select the lock or deadbolt that is rated highly in the area(s) most important to you. For example, when looking for a new interior lock, you may not require the same rating for security or finish as you would for a lock being installed on your front door.

3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

After purchasing the lock(s) best suited for your home needs, consult the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer for proper application. A BHMA Certified lock — or any lock, for that matter  cannot function to its expectations if it isn’t installed correctly.

The added protection that locks and deadbolts can provide you and your family is not something to be overlooked. By fitting your doors — both interior and exterior — with certified hardware, using proper installation techniques and being diligent about using your locks when at home or away, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of unwanted company.

To learn more about BHMA Certified locksets and deadbolts, or the BHMA Certified Secure Home label, watch this short video or visit www.securehome.org.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content.

The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of your gardening enjoyment, even if you don’t have the time or climate for a full plot of food plants. Herbs are perfect fall crops; they are prolific growers, can satisfy your desire for fresh, garden-grown greens and are one of the easiest ways to elevate your recipes from so-so to so good! Plus, they’re ready to harvest and growing your own will make a dent in your grocery bill.

The fall gardening experts at Bonnie Plants offer some gardening guidance for planting herbs this fall:

Getting started

Multiple factors will influence your choice of herbs, including fall temperatures, where you live, and your taste in seasonings.

If you decide to plant outdoors, it’s important to know when to expect the first hard frost. You can find the estimated first frost date in your area by checking out Bonnie’s online frost map.

You’ll want to choose herbs that like cooler weather, such as parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, chives, lavender and oregano. They’re all prolific producers and some, like mint and rosemary, are especially easy to grow. Availability of Bonnie’s fall varieties is limited to specific regions, so check your local garden retailers.

Pick a place

You may envision pots full of leafy, green herbs sitting on a sunny windowsill, while colorful autumn leaves, or even snow, fall outside. However, windowsills aren’t always a best bet for indoor herbs, especially if your windows are drafty or the herbs brush the cold glass.

Herbs need at least four to six hours of natural light per day to grow indoors, so choose a sunny spot near a window where they’ll be protected from drafts and cold. South- and southwest-facing windows will give you the most natural light throughout the day. Windows facing north won’t provide enough sunlight.

Picking the right pots

If you really love rosemary, you may be tempted to try to plant the largest pot appropriate for your kitchen, but stick with manageable-sized pots that will fit better indoors, allow you to keep your herbs more organized, and still produce plenty of yield. Be sure to choose pots that have good drainage and always use a premium potting mix.

Caring for container herbs

Any type of plant growing in a pot needs water, and herbs are no exception. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your herb plants’ watering needs. Remember, dry topsoil is not an indication plants need water. A quick and easy test is to stick your finger, or a pencil, into the soil right where the stem enters the soil. If the soil is moist at 1.5 to 2 inches deep, do not water. If dry, it’s time to water! Always water in the morning, at soil level and avoid watering the leaves, as bacteria can breed in cool, wet, damp and dark conditions, like night time.

Fertilize your food plants. Water is an obvious must, but irrigation can wash nutrients out of the soil. Plus, some potting mixes only have a short-term supply of fertilizer while others are slow-release. Read the label on your premium potting soil mix and follow the brand’s recommendations for fertilizing frequency. Timed-release granular fertilizer or a plant food you mix with water will help keep herbs nourished. Remember food plants are hungry!

Best bets on basil

Although basil is the most popular herb, it can sometimes struggle growing indoors. Start off growing it outdoors on a sunny deck. Be sure to continually pinch-off the prolific leaf growth, which encourages more growth and harvest, until the weather turns cool, then bring the pot indoors. Harvested leaves can be continually dried, although freezing does a better job of preserving the herb’s flavor. Tip: Try using old ice-cube trays, inserting basil leaves in cells, filling with water and freezing. When weather gets cold, you can easily pop your “basil ice-cubes” in recipes throughout the cold weather season. Basil is also tasty in some drinks, like lemonade and tea.

While clipping sprigs when cooking is a great way to harness the freshness of any herb, you can also store them and they’ll maintain their flavor. Preserving by drying and freezing aren’t your only options; try adding herbs as seasoning to cooking oils.

Whether you’re an expert gardener or a first-time fall grower, autumn is the perfect time to fall in love with the freshness, flavor and ease of herb gardening. You’ve still got time to get growing!

 

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content.

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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