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Landscape Staging Tips and Preparing Your Yard for Spring

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When you are preparing to list your home for sale, you may take various steps to stage the interior so that it is appealing to a potential buyer. In addition to various steps you may take with staging the interior, you want to pay attention to your yard as well. During the spring months, many yards look fresh and vibrant, but they also need some extra care in order to boost curb appeal and make a great first impression on buyers.

Focus on Your Flower Beds
Whether you have one small flower bed or several sprawling areas of beds, you should ensure that all of the vegetation looks fresh and tidy. Trim bushes, and add bright spring annuals to brighten up the space. Pull weeds, and add a layer oflandscaping1 fresh mulch to your flower beds to give them a finished, well-maintained look.

Keep the Lawn Neat and Tidy
During the spring months, your lawn may revive from its dormant winter state, and you may find it growing rapidly. The green hue of a spring lawn can have a powerful benefit to curb appeal, but you want to keep the lawn trimmed and edged regularly to give it a manicured appearance. This can also minimize the impact of the look of weeds that may occasionally crop up throughout the spring months.

Pay Attention to Your Patio and Entrywaylandscaping3
While your vegetation will require some effort to maintain while you list your home, you do not want to overlook your patio and entryway. These are often visible from the street, and they will be viewed up-close when buyers tour your home. Ensure that the area is clean, and power wash it if necessary. Consider updating front door hardware and the entry mat if they appear worn or dated. You may also need to sweep these areas regularly while your home is listed for sale.

Staging your property can help you to sell your property more quickly and for top dollar, but your staging efforts should not be focused entirely on the interior of your home. Your landscaping also requires extra effort when you are getting your home ready to sell, and these tips can all help you to spruce up your landscaping with beautiful results. You may seek more customized information tailored to your property when you speak with a real estate agent about listing your home.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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Bucks County’s Living History Museum

The Moravian Pottery & Tile Worksliving museum1

Around the turn of the 20th century, Bucks County became known for its thriving art scene. Henry Chapman Mercer (1856 – 1930), one of the pioneers of the American Arts and Crafts movement, set up his Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown. Workers in the factory created handmade decorative tiles that were used in buildings around the world, including the casino in Monte Carlo, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and the Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg. Today, the Tile Works operates as a living history museum by the Bucks County parks department. Artisans still make tiles using Mercer’s original molds and techniques.

Mercer’s true legacy is in what he left behind. The Tile Works is one of three concrete buildings he built within a mile radius, now called the Mercer Mile. Next door to the tile works is the Fonthill Museum, Mercer’s former home. This concrete castle now houses a collection of Mercer’s tiles and prints, and offers a glimpse into his life.

As a historian and archaeologist, Henry Mercer amassed an eclectic collection of Americana, and in 1916 Mercer built a second castle to house his artifacts. The building now operates as the Mercer Museum and is a work of art in itself. The museum opens into a six-floor living museum2atrium, and the collection’s largest items – including a whaling boat, stagecoach and horse-drawn carriages – are suspended from the upper floors, while smaller items – like his collections of musical instruments and redware pottery – are housed in small alcoves on every level.

The Moravian Pottery & Tile Works is located at 130 E. Swamp Rd. in Doylestown, PA.  It is open daily at 10:00 am to 4:45 pm, you can call 215-348-6098 for more information.

 

*Courtesy of www.visitbuckcounty.com
*Courtesy of
http://www.buckscounty.org

 

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Flea and Farmers Markets to Visit in Bucks County

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Now that Spring is here it’s time to get out and enjoy the vast countryside in Bucks County. The location of Bucks County makes it a prime spot for both flea and farm markets. Whether you are looking for unique antiques or farm-fresh produce, Bucks County is sure to meet your shopping needs!

For the season’s freshest produce and everyday staples, stop by Maximuck’s Farm Market in Doylestown. This family farm uses the latest eco-friendly techniques to provide the best quality products, like their hydroponic lettuce and greenhouse tomatoes.

Explore Rice’s Sale and Country Market where bargain-hunters can browse more than 400 vendors selling everything from fresh produce to vintage clothes. Open every Tuesday and Saturday, Rice’s is a Bucks County tradition, operating for more than 150 years.

Since 1932, the Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market has been attracting shoppers from across eastern Pennsylvania. Its indoor farmers market offers fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, dairy products and more. Vendors at the indoor/outdoor flea market sell the finest antiques and vintage wares. If you aren’t in the mood for shopping, come to try your luck at Walk-In Bingo!

For 100 years, Shady Brook Farm has been growing and selling delicious fresh produce right here in Bucks County. Shady Brook’s farm market sells everything from home-grown produce and locally-raised organic meats to mouth-watering baked goods and seasonal flea2favorites. Visitors can also hop on the wagon and take a ride out to the fields for a pick-your-own experience! Shady Brook Farm also manages the Market at Del Val, a second farmer’s market located at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown.

Try the best of local food, produce and handmade goods at the Indoor Farmer’s Market in New Hope. Every Thursday head to Event Center by Cornerstone between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to visit this one-stop-shop for everything local.

 

*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com
*Photo courtesy of Shady Brook Farm

 

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Tips on Lowering Your Mortgage Interest Rate

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Mortgage interest rates are at historical lows right now, but they are expected to start rising soon. That’s why savvy buyers are taking steps to ensure they get the best possible interest rates on the market and then lock those rates in for the long term. But even if interest rates are already low, that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce them further.
So how can you save even more money on your monthly interest payments? Here’s what you need to know.

Buy Down Your Rate with Interest Points
Interest points are a form of pre-paid interest that can help you to greatly reduce your interest rate. When you buy down your rate using interest points, you’re essentially paying interest up-front in order to reduce your monthly payments. Each point that you purchase could reduce your monthly rate by up to 0.25%, which makes interest points a worthwhile investment when considering you’ll be paying interest for the entire life of the loan.

Refinance at A Lower Rateintrest rate2
Refinancing is a great way to benefit from historically low interest rates if you originally bought your home during a time when interest rates were high. With a mortgage refinance, you essentially pay off your first mortgage with a second mortgage, which you can negotiate as a completely new loan. This is a great option if you originally had poor credit when you first bought your home, but have since improved your credit score.

Set Up Automatic Monthly Mortgage Payments
If you want to reduce your monthly interest rate, you’ll need to offer your lender something in return. One great way to get a lower interest rate is to set up automatic bank withdrawals that pay your mortgage for you every month. In exchange for this guaranteed monthly payment, your bank will be more flexible regarding your rate.

Opt for A Mortgage with a Shorter Termintrest rate3
If your income is about to see a large increase, choosing a shorter-term mortgage is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay. Shorter mortgages, like a 15-year fixed mortgage typically have lower interest rates than longer mortgages. You can save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan by choosing a shorter mortgage term.

Mortgage interest rates are the scourge of many a home buyer, but with smart buyer strategies and the guidance of a qualified mortgage advisor, you can reduce your interest rate and save thousands of dollars on your home purchase. Want to learn more about how you can reduce your interest rate, or negotiate better mortgage terms with your lender? Contact a mortgage professional for more information.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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Tourism Season Kicks Off in Bucks County

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The beginning of May marks the unofficial kickoff to tourism season in Bucks County. U.S. Travel Association’s Annual National Travel and Tourism Week is from May 1 – 7, 2016.

With so much to see and do, the week-long celebration will put you in the mood to get out and enjoy Bucks County and learn about the impact of tourism in the community!

Thru May 6 - Bucks County Community College Flower Show
View beautiful flower arrangements at Bucks County Community College’s ”Spring into Summer” Flower Show. All arrangements are created by Floral Design Certificate students.

Thru May 29 - 41st Bucks County Designer House & Gardens
Tour the stunning home and grounds of the Foxwood Manor, an 1830′s farmhouse in Jamison where the region’s top designers and landscapers transform the manor’s rooms and outdoor areas. After the tour, visitors can browse through unique boutiques or grab a bite to eat at the Hungry Fox café. Proceeds from the Designer House benefit Doylestown Hospital.

May 4 – 8 - “In the Mood” at Bucks County Playhouse tourism3
Enjoy the jazzy, rhythmic and patriotic music of the 1930′s & 40′s at the Bucks County Playhouse. The 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra is joined by the singers and dancers of “In The Mood” to create an authentic Big Band era experience.

May 6 - First Fridays on the Delaware in Bristol Borough
Head to the gorgeous riverfront of the Delaware River in Bristol Borough. This free, family-fun event has something for everyone. For the kids (and kids at heart!), there will be face painters, balloon artists, hula hoopists and other fun activities. Adults can enjoy live music, an art walk and the beer garden at The Historic King George II Inn. This event will be held every first Friday of the month from May through September.

May 7 - 6th Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest- SOLD OUT for 2016
Sip on some of the best-tasting beers from more than 65 breweries around the country and toast to history at the 6th Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest. All proceeds benefit Washington Crossing Historic Park, the site where George Washington made history when he crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776.

May 7 – 8 - 5th Annual American Artisan Showcase & Mother’s Day Tea 
Visit the Byers’ Choice American Artisan Showcase in Chalfont. The show features more than 70 handcrafters and allows the opportunity for the public to purchase unique crafts. A special box-lunch tea will be offered on May 7.

 


*Photo courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse
*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com

 

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When Not to Refinance Your Current Mortgage

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Refinancing your home can be a great way to reduce monthly mortgage payments, interest rates, or even pay off your debt faster. And while it is a useful tool in budgeting for millions of homeowners, a home refinance may not necessarily be useful in every situation. In fact, there are some situations where refinancing can cost you a great deal of money.

So when should you skip the refinance and simply keep with the original plan? Here’s what you need to know.

If You’ve Already Paid Off Much of Your Mortgage
When you first start paying a mortgage, most of your monthly payment goes toward the loan’s interest rather than its principal amount. But as you start paying down your mortgage, more and more of your payments are applied directly to the principal. And if you only have 10 years left on your mortgage, the vast majority of your payments are being applied to the principal.not refiance1

Refinancing a mortgage essentially restarts the loan over from scratch – so if your mortgage is mostly paid off, a refinance will put you back where you started and cause you to owe much more money in interest payments.

If You’re Not Prepared to Pay More Closing Fees
Refinancing can be a great way to lower your interest rate, extend your loan, or get better terms, but it also comes at a cost. Since refinancing essentially starts a new home loan, you’ll need to pay all of the closing costs associated with a new mortgage, and on average, closing costs can total up to 5% of your home’s value. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to pay for your closing costs for a second time, refinancing your mortgage will harm you more than it will help you.

If You’re Giving Up an FRM for an ARMnot refiance2
If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, you have a great guarantee that your mortgage rate will stay the same. If you already have a low interest rate, trying to get a lower interest rate will make it difficult for you to break even on your closing costs. Unless you go with an adjustable-rate mortgage, which typically has lower closing costs. But opting for an adjustable-rate mortgage is a poor idea right now.

Today’s interest rates are at historical lows, which means they have nowhere to go but up. If you refinance with an adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll end up paying more money than if you simply kept your existing fixed-rate mortgage.

Refinancing is often a useful tool, but it’s not always helpful in every situation. A qualified mortgage advisor can tell you whether refinancing is right for you. Contact a mortgage professional to learn more.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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May Spring Events & Festivals in Bucks County

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Spring has sprung and there’s no better way to shake off the winter blues than spending a beautiful day at one of these events in Bucks County! Located only 25 miles from Philadelphia and 75 miles from New York City, Bucks County’s countryside is the ideal destination for a spring getaway.

Here are some of the top festivals and events taking place throughout Bucks County this spring:

April 30-May 1 - 35th Annual Shadfest 2016 – Spend a spring weekend in downtown Lambertville, NJ at the 35th Annual Shadfest. Plan your visit by booking a stay in the town of New Hope. Take a short stroll over the bridge to join the city of Lambertville in celebrating local artists with great food and entertainment.

April 30 - Opening Day at Sesame Place, Sesame Place®, the nation’s only theme park dedicated to the award-winning children’s television show, Sesame Street®, in Langhorne, PA, opens for 2016 on April 30 and you spring2won’t want to miss the exciting lineup of events planned for this season. Rock out during the park’s spring concerts featuring favorites such as Choo-Choo Soul (May 7 and 8) and The Imagination Movers (May 14 and 15). Enjoy a spectacular fireworks show on Memorial Day Weekend (May 28 and 29), as music featuring Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster and Count Von Count fills the air. Plus, a brand new show featuring everyone’s favorite furry friends will premier in the Sesame Place Neighborhood Theater TM (formerly Monster Rock Theater) this season. More details on the show will be released in March.

May 7 –  Washington Crossing Brewfest - SOLD OUT FOR 2016 - Raise a glass and toast the 6th Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest in Washington Crossing, PA. Sip on some of the best-tasting beers from more than 65 breweries from around the country. All proceeds from the Brewfest benefit the park – the site where George Washington made history when he crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776.

May 7-8 - Mother’s Day - 5th Annual Byers’ Choice American Artisan Showcase, is made special at the 5th Annual Byers’ Choice American Artisan Showcase in Chalfont, PA. Browse through a wide selection of handmade crafts from over 70 of the most spring3talented craftsmen in the region. While you shop, enjoy live music, and chow down on delicious gourmet food from different vendors. Also make sure to walk around the garden and appreciate the lovely weather.

May 14-15 - Moravian Pottery and Tile Works Festival, Admire the splendor and individuality of the handmade historic and contemporary ceramic tiles featured at this festival from more than 50 artists, dealers and collectors. Located in Doylestown, PA, a free tour of the Tile Works - a “working history” museum built by archaeologist and art collector Henry Mercer that still produces handmade tiles today – is included with admission and rare handcrafted tiles will be available for purchase.

May 21-22 - Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village, The Annual Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village in New Hope, PA returns May 21-22. Enjoy the delicious fruit any way you want whether it be baked in pie, made into jam, dipped in chocolate or simply eaten as is! During the festival, be sure to walk the 65 shops of the 18th-century-style village.spring4

May 15 and 22 - Annual Spring Winery Tour, Comprised of nine unique, family-owned wineries, the Bucks County Wine Trail is ready to celebrate the season! This two-part self-guided wine tour takes visitors through five wineries in the Southern portion of Bucks County on May 15 and four more wineries in the Northern portion of Bucks County on May 22.

May 15-22 - New Hope Celebrates Pride Week, Follow the rainbow to New Hope, PA and celebrate the 13th Annual Pride Week & Parade! The area’s largest Pride Parade will take place on May 21, where a mile-long rainbow flag is carried down Main Street. Also check out other great LGBT events throughout the week, including a block party and vendor fair. Stay for the weekend at one of the quaint B&Bs in and around New Hope.

May 21 (Rain date: May 22) Arts Alive! Quakertown, PA takes to the streets during the 15th Annual Arts Alive! the area’s premier adjudicated artisan and crafter event. More than 100 juried exhibitors show off their wares, along with original music acts, live alpacas, a food court and wine-tasting area, and trolley transport around town.

 

*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com
*Photo courtesy of Sesame Place
*Photo of Crossing Vineyards courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
*Photo courtesy of Byers’ Choice 

 

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4 Easy Strategies to Improve a Low FICO Score

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If you’re worried about your bad credit, you’ll want to do everything in your power to improve your rating as quickly as possible – especially if you have a major purchase coming up. Improving your credit rating can give you access to better interest rates on mortgages or even help you to get that job you’re after.

So how can you boost your FICO score quickly and easily? Here’s what you need to know.

Get Your Credit Report and Dispute Any Errors
Credit reporting agencies don’t always keep 100% perfect records, and there’s a good chance that your credit report contains at least one error. One recent FTC study found that 25% of consumers have an error on their credit report, and that in 5% of cases, the errors were actually severe enough to impact the loan terms that borrowers were able to negotiate.

You can get your annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies for free. Carefully read over it. If you see any errors – if your name is misspelled, if they have the wrong address on file, or if there are late or unpaid charges that you didn’t make – you can dispute the items in question.fico2

Negotiate Overdue Payment Terms with Your Creditors
If you’re overdue on a payment, it will weigh heavily on your credit score. As your payment history makes up a full 35% of your FICO score, this is one area where you’ll want to invest a great deal of time and effort.

Contact any creditors you owe money to and ask if you can negotiate your bill. The ideal outcome for you is to have the creditor report your debt as paid in full, so see if you can secure that promise in writing in exchange for an accelerated payment schedule.

Try Maintaining a Lower Utilization Ratio
Your utilization ratio refers to the amount of credit you use at any given time. If this number goes beyond 30 percent, you’ll start to see your credit score drop. Ideally, you should aim for a utilization ratio below 10 percent – this will prove to your lender that you can responsibly pay for the credit you use.

Automate Your Payments on Recurring Billsfico3
Automating your monthly payments can be a great way to boost your credit score. Whether it’s your mortgage, your credit card, or your student loan, a pre-authorized monthly payment will ensure that everything gets paid on time and give you a great credit history.

Your FICO score is a number that will determine your eligibility for mortgages and other loans. Call your local mortgage professional to learn about what kind of a mortgage your credit score can afford you.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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This Upcoming Weekend Happenings in Bucks County

Looking for something to do this weekend in Bucks County, here are a few event happenings for you to attend and enjoy with the family. weekend1

April 23-2427th Annual Neshaminy State Park Civil War Reenactment, - Celebrate the history of Bucks County! Located in Bensalem, PA, one of the largest reenactments on the East Coast will open each day with battle reenactments and plenty of opportunities to become immersed in history. Catch a glimpse of what life was like during the Civil War during authentic live performances.

April 22 - Civil War Cycle Tour at the Bucks County Civil War Museum 
Bike your way through the history of Bucks County on a Civil War Cycle Tour! You’ll see the homes and graves of historic generals, and learn about how Bucks County is linked to the Underground Railroad and the slave whose story was turned into a movie.

April 22 - Earth Day Moonlight Walk at Peace Valley Nature Centerweekend2
Celebrate Earth Day under the glowing light of the moon from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Peace Valley Nature Center, located in Peace Valley Park in Doylestown has 14 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails that surround the serene Lake Gelena.

April 23 - 9th Annual Earth Day and Potluck Lunch at the Farm at Snipes Farm and Education Center
Help the farm crew kick-off the 2016 growing season! Snipes Farm and Educational Center teaches the importance of sustainable farming through hands-on educational experiences to people of all ages. You’ll learn about what’s new at the farm and celebrate the community by bringing food to add to the table for the potluck lunch.

 April 23 – Hulmeville Garden Club & Garden Club of Bristol Borough Host Tea & Tunes weekend3
 10 a.m. - Children’s event, pot up a spring vegetable and talk with horticulturists
11-2 p.m. - Tea served by Bucks County Technical High School culinary students
12-2p.m. - Live jazz music, The Frank Butrey Trio
2 p.m. - Appreciation ceremony

 

*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com
*Photo of Civil War Reenactment courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
*Photo of Silver Lake Nature Center courtesy of Justin DeRosa.

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Documents First Time Home Buyers Need for the Buying Process

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With all the work that goes into finding the kind of home you’ll want to put an offer on, it can be easy to forget about all the little things that happen after the deal has been made. While the paperwork involved in purchasing may seem like a long way off, here’s a quick review of some of the documents you’ll need when the time comes to seal the deal.

Your Credit Report
It’s important to review your credit before putting an offer in, so ensure that you request your credit report in advance and review it for any errors that may be present. If there are any discrepancies negatively impacting your credit score, you’ll be able to have them corrected before they can cause an issue with your real estate purchase.1st time2

Pay Stub Proof
In order to ascertain your ability to pay off your monthly mortgage, you will need to provide at least two pay stubs from your current place of employment. You won’t want to give away your originals, but a photocopy of your last two paychecks usually serves as adequate verification.

Recent Bank Statements
The number of bank statements required to prove your credit history may change depending on the lender you’re dealing with, but you’ll probably need photocopies from the last two to three months. This will be a means of proving your financial health as well as your ability to pay your monthly mortgage in the event of interest rate hikes or other fiscal setbacks.

Tax Return Copies
Your federal tax returns will provide further proof of your employment and financial standing, so the last two years of these – complete with your signature – will need to be submitted. Keep in mind that any schedules you’ve filled out to complete your yearly returns should also be included.1st time3

Additional Asset Statements
In addition to recent bank statements, if you have any stocks and bonds, mutual funds, RRSPs or other investments, you should also provide statements of proof for these. While these accounts will only require your most recent statements, they will be beneficial in providing a more comprehensive picture of your finances.

There are many aspects of purchasing a home that can be time consuming, but having the documents you need beforehand can save a lot of stress when crunch time comes. If you’re planning on purchasing a home soon, you may want to contact a real estate professional for more information.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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