RE/MAX 440
Sandy Hershey

Sandy Hershey
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-909-2929
Office:  610-584-1160
Fax:  267-354-6987

My Blog

Multiple Offer Dilemma? Make your Offer Stand Out Against the Competition

August 16, 2013 12:21 am

Finding your dream home is no simple task. You may start by considering a price range or maybe you’re looking for a particular style of home. Often times, home buyers have to meet certain work or family needs – location, a particular number of rooms, the need for a big backyard or a specific amount of garage space.

There are several factors to consider as you narrow the search down to just a few properties. But what do you do when you find your dream home, only to discover other potential buyers have already made offers? In today’s competitive market, buyers need ways to make their offers stand out against the competition. When faced with a multiple offer situation, follow these tricks of the trade:

Include a Sales Price Escalation Addendum with your offer
A Sales Price Escalation Addendum is a document attached to your offer that allows it to be increased by a specified amount, which is activated if competing offers meet certain perimeters. The Sales Price Escalation Addendum is triggered if the seller receives one or more legitimate additional offers, which have a higher net value – the final sale price, after closing costs and buyer concessions have been agreed upon – than the offer with the escalation addendum. Specific values will vary from offer to offer, but this addendum gives your offer room for adjustment.

Don’t ask for Closing Cost Credits and Increase your Earnest Money Deposit
In the real estate business, money talks! Closing costs credits assist the buyer in purchasing the home and reduce the net cash to the seller. Oftentimes with multiple offers in the current sellers’ market, these requests have the offer thrown out immediately. Like a security deposit, earnest money is the initial deposit with the offer as an act of good faith. It shows the seller that you’re serious about your offer and moving towards the purchase. If the offer is accepted, this money goes towards the eventual down payment. When there are multiple offers, increasing the earnest money tells the seller you’re committed to the purchase, and they should give your offer more consideration.

Be prompt with inspection scheduling
When submitting an offer, every property is subject to inspection. Having a tightly scheduled inspection period not only shows you’re serious about moving forward, but also indicates to the seller that you’re in control of the situation. Industry standard is 17 day inspection period, reducing to 10 or 12 days is much more appealing. Being proactive expedites the sales process to closing, which will make any seller happy. By initiating the inspection process and keeping a tight schedule, you make your offer look more serious and closing attainable, which is the mutual goal.

Make sure your agent reaches out to the listing agent prior to submitting an offer
This will help expedite the offer process, again setting your offer apart from the competition. Using the selling agents preferred vendors for items such as termite, title and escrow go a long way to suggesting a smooth transaction. Also, the buyer may need a rent-back period after the sale, and give an idea whether they are willing to give any credits for repairs, etc. This eliminates many of the minor countering items and reduces back and forth negotiating up-front.

Use DocuSign
This cloud-based electronic signature technology facilitates the exchange of contracts, tax documents and other legal materials. DocuSign simplifies the real estate buying process by organizing all of your documents, making them mobile and easily accessible. Also, your electronic signature will be honored and secure. Since all the documents are saved as electronic files, they can be easily emailed to listing agents. Again, this shows that you are a serious buyer, working with you may be easier than others and they should consider your offer with more earnest.

Keep in mind offers can be too high
Some homebuyers may think no price is too high to pay for their dream home, but the highest offer is not always the strongest. Mortgage lenders must approve the value. Lenders won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised market value of the property. Even though the seller may love an offer higher than list price, the bank may not approve.

Following these steps through your next real estate purchase will help you compete with multiple, legitimate offers on your dream house, making yours stand out above the rest.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


6 Tips to Lawsuit-Proof Your Pool Party

August 15, 2013 12:18 am

With the dog days of summer upon us, here's hoping your pool party doesn't belly-flop into a lawsuit.

When it comes to potential pool party liability, safety is key. Before you fire up the grill and play another round of Marco Polo, take all the necessary pool safety precautions or you could get sued.

Here are a few tips on how to lawsuit-proof your pool party:

Prevent "toxic" pool injuries. During a party, lighting is key. But beware of dumping chemicals in the pool without considering the potential consequences. Last year, two ravers filed a lawsuit, alleging chemicals that made a pool glow under blacklights caused them partial vision loss. Swimming pool chemicals injure thousands yearly, but are largely preventable.

Repair and maintain nearby wires. Swimming pool electrocutions happen more often than you may think. If you have electricity powering lights or a pump that supplies water to a slide at your party, make sure the equipment and wiring is safe. And if you notice some precarious overhead wires, it may be best to call your local power company to get it checked out.

Protect young children. Pool parties are fun and games, but not for kids who don't know how to swim. Death and nonfatal injury rates for drowning are highest among children under four. To protect the little ones, install a self-closing gate around the pool, have them wear "floaties" during the party, and always keep them supervised.

Prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Slip 'n Slides are fun. Slip 'n falls? Not so much. Keep partygoers off slick surfaces so they don't slip and fall into a lawsuit. You may want to lay rubber mats around the pool and make sure the diving board is in good working order.

Prevent drunk driving. A pool party often entails adult libations - brewskies, pinot grigio and margaritas - but don't let people drive home drunk. If you do, and someone gets hurt, then you could be on the hook for social host liability.

Prevent pool hopping. When the party's winding out, take precautions to keep mischievous "pool hopping" teens out. Though they're trespassers, your best bet is to fence-in and lock your pool when the party's over.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Chocolate or Vanilla? Cup or Cone? America Weighs In

August 15, 2013 12:18 am

The decision is a very hard one. Should you go traditional or a little more out there? It's hot and all you want is that nice cold treat. But which flavor are you going to go with? If you want to follow what other Americans do, chocolate is the way to go, as over one-quarter (27 percent) say it is one of their two favorite ice cream flavors, followed by vanilla (23 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (22 percent).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,242 adults surveyed online between July 17 and 22, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

For one in five Americans, butter pecan/Swiss almond is tops (19 percent), as is mint chocolate chip (19 percent), followed by strawberry (14 percent), rocky road (12 percent) and peanut butter (10 percent). Less than one in ten U.S. adults say one of their two favorite flavors is coffee (9 percent), cherry vanilla (8 percent), pistachio (7 percent), black raspberry (6 percent), a seasonal flavor such as eggnog or pumpkin (5 percent) or peach (3 percent). One in ten (10 percent) have a different favorite flavor, and 2 percent say they do not eat ice cream.

There is a little bit of gender divide when it comes to favorite flavor. For women, chocolate is on top (29 percent), followed by mint chocolate chip (23 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (22 percent). For men, vanilla is the narrow favorite (27 percent), then chocolate (26 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (21 percent).

How do you want that?

Now, once the flavor is chosen, the decision doesn't end there. How should you actually eat the ice cream? More than two in five Americans (45 percent) say their favorite way to eat ice cream is in a cup, followed by cone (31 percent), sundae (16 percent), and sandwich (4 percent) while 5 percent say their favorite way to eat ice cream is something else – maybe in a cake? Men are more likely than women to prefer cups (49 percent versus 42 percent) and sundaes (17 percent versus 14 percent). Women, however, are more likely to say their favorite way to eat ice cream is in a cone (36 percent versus 25 percent).

And, any toppings?

Now there is one more major decision to make. Are you in the mood for something crunchy, or maybe something warm? Maybe there's a choice for something a little 'healthy,' or even pure decadence? Ah, what topping should you have on that ice cream?

Over half of Americans (53 percent) say hot fudge is among their favorite toppings for ice cream, followed by two in five who say nuts (41 percent). Just under two in five say whipped cream is among their favorite toppings (39 percent), while 38 percent say caramel. Three in ten say their favorite is fruit, such as strawberries or bananas (31 percent), while one in five choose sprinkles (20 percent), followed by 17 percent who go for candy bits and one in ten who say marshmallow (11 percent). There are some purists out there, as 16 percent say they prefer their ice cream plain.

Source: Harris Interactive

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Five Great Financial Freebies

August 15, 2013 12:18 am

There are free financial products and services to be had, but consumers may have to shell out money to get some of them. The September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, features an up-close look at five truly free financial products and services including checking accounts and tax filing.

"Beware of the word free, especially when it comes to financial services," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Free financial advice in particular can really end up costing you."

Five Great Financial Freebies

1. Checking accounts. Truly free accounts are getting harder to find, but there are still some available without no minimum-balance rules to follow and no monthly fees. Consumers are most likely to get them at credit unions, small or internet banks, and brokerage houses. For example, two online banks, Ally and Schwab, offer free checking accounts plus free checks, zero ATM fees, and interest (though puny) on a balance.

2. Personal finance help. Some free budgeting programs can help set short- and long-term financial goals and create a spending plan that will help consumers meet these goals. Mint ( has ads but it's easy to set up and navigate a plan; Yodlee ( is clunkier but has more features and no ads.

3. Retirement money. Some employers match funds that employees contribute to their 401(k). Consumers whose 401(k) is maxed out should consider a Roth IRA if it is offered by their employer. There is no tax break on investments, but withdrawals, including earnings, are free from federal tax if they are taken on or after the age of 59 and have held the Roth IRA for more than five years.

4. Trip insurance and other perks. Credit cards may offer free trip insurance that might come with other perks, such as price protection (meaning the card issuer will refund the difference if a better deal is found on something recently bought) and coverage of items purchased on the card that are lost or damaged within a limited time. Check the card's terms to see what it offers and read the fine print for restrictions.

5. Tax filing. At FreeFile on the IRS website, there's no charge to prepare and file federal taxes. But one version on FreeFile has income limitations that are updated annually. This year it was available to households with a 2012 adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less. Other services, such as Express1040, FreetaxUSA, TaxACT, and TurboTax Federal Free Edition, offer free tax preparation and filing for federal returns that are relatively straightforward.

Source: ShopSmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Dining Out With Kids: More Delight Than Disaster

August 14, 2013 12:12 am revealed that parents enjoy dining out with their kids citing many benefits to the experience with family quality time and education opportunities topping the list. A recent survey by the company found that 59 percent of parents dine out with their children once a week or more. In fact, 70 percent say that going out to eat with their kids is a great way to spend time with the family.

The survey also reveals that 66 percent of parents feel that taking children out to eat offers educational benefits and provides the opportunity to try new foods they normally would not have at home. And, 57% say that eating out is a good time to emphasize good table manners.
Additional findings include:

American Cuisine – The most popular cuisine choice for family dining is American, with 40 percent reporting it as their family's favorite. Italian came in second with 25 percent of the votes, followed by Mexican with 21 percent.

Food Options – Parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with the menu selection restaurants provide for their family with 83 percent reporting that most restaurants have kid-friendly food options, and 56 percent feel that restaurants have healthy food options for kids.

Entertaining the Kids – As for keeping the kids entertained while in a restaurant, 74 percent of parents report that good, old-fashioned conversation is the best entertainment, followed by crayons and paper (53 percent).

Dining Deals are the Best – Nearly all respondents (96 percent) have used a coupon or a deal when dining out with their children, with 37 percent reporting they do so more often than not.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Parents Spend 26.7 Billion Dollars in Back-to-School Gear

August 14, 2013 12:12 am

While parents report spending on average $90 per child on school supplies each year, a recent national survey shows that many of those pricey items will be lost. Michelle Brandriss, a mom and founder and CEO of Name Bubbles, advises parents to "label it or risk losing it; help keep items coming home."

Before the back-to-school season, Name Bubbles asked parents across America, between the ages of 18 and 44, a series of questions in an effort to learn more about one of the busiest times of the year. Of the more than 400 parents surveyed, 80 percent admitted that their children lost items at school last year. Of those parents, 73 percent never recovered the lost and unlabeled school supplies, and 27 percent spent more than $50 replacing those lost items. In contrast, the parents who did label their children's school supplies always recovered their lost items.

"Organization is the key to a successful school year," said Brandriss. "Whether you label school supplies, backpacks, jackets, or sports gear, name labels help students keep track of their belongings and avoid having them end up in the lost and found."

Most Frequently Lost Items and Percentage of Kids Who Lose Them:

1. Hats and gloves - 57%
2. School supplies - 52%
3. Outerwear - 43%
4. Lunch boxes - 36%
5. Book bags - 14%


Published with permission from RISMedia.


The Eight Best Reasons to Use a Professional Pest Control Company

August 14, 2013 12:12 am

Many people consider themselves would be "do it yourselfers" and with all the information available online, it makes sense that many household projects can be undertaken by a layman or weekend hobbyist. When dealing with pest control issues, however, it may be a better idea to let a pro handle it instead of just buying some poison and going to town.

Here are the best reasons to use a professional pest control company when you have a pest problem in your home:

8) Discount for Additional Services – Generally, the more services you purchase from your exterminator the more you save per service. As a result, each service becomes cheaper per service.

7) Referral Discounts – Many pest control companies offer discounts to clients who successfully refer them to their friends. This is a way to get money back for a service you have already purchased.

6) Exclusion Services – Once your exterminator has indentified the causes of your pest issues, he/she can either perform the corrections to the structure or recommend someone who can. By changing these conditions, pests are less likely to return.

5) Prevention - You pest control company is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to ways to prevent pests. They will assist you with information on what you can do to prevent termites, ants, roaches and more.

4) Identification – Not sure what the pest is that may be bothering you? Your exterminating company will be able to get an ID of the pest, even if you are not covered for that pest. Maybe you have a mysterious bite; again the pest control company can help.

3) Formulating a Plan – A professional exterminator understands the needs of your home or business. So he/she will formulate a planned approach to the implementation of service to aide in eliminating and reducing a pest invasion.

2) Risk– Using pest control products comes with a risk to your health, the health of your family and the environment. Pest Control companies are not only trained to use pesticides safely, they are also regulated by state and national laws that help protect non target animals from exposure to the insecticides.

1) Cost – The purchase price for an insecticide is generally cheaper for a professional exterminator since they are able to purchase their products at a wholesale price and in bulk. More importantly, they will use the right product for the pest that is infesting your home or business. Knowing the insect and the correct product to use is half the battle. Ants are not just ants, for example. Different species of ants may require a different type of product and application. You as the property owner may not be able to properly identify the pest; hence, spending more money on products in an attempt to correct your pest issue.

Source: Earth’s Best Pest Control

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Securing Your Summer Home for the End of the Season

August 13, 2013 12:04 am

Many homeowners close their home by shutting the door, locking it and setting the alarm. If you own a home that you won’t be living in for months at a time, this simply isn’t enough to guarantee security.

According to Chris Falkenberg, a former U.S. Secret Service Agent and president of Insite Security, an unprecedented amount of people fail to take the necessary steps to ensure their homes are properly protected for the fall and winter months. While working with clients and companies on risk preparedness and physical security planning, Falkenberg suggests the following tips for keeping homes safe while you’re away.

Have a Professional Check Your Alarm
Having a professional check your alarm system on an annual basis can help ensure that you are never prone to failures when your safety and security is on the line. A trusted and experienced electronic security installer will be able to assess your system prior to closing the house up for the season to determine if any part should be replaced in a preventative nature. “Like any other electrical component, alarms will fail as some parts simply wear out. You don’t want them to fail when you need them most,” says Falkenberg.

Close Contacts
If your alarm is set off, someone needs to be alerted that something is awry at your home. If you live too far away to travel to the home yourself, having a family friend or contact in the community that is available on short notice to go to the house and open the door for police is a must. Police can then conduct outside inspections and look for indoor damage from water or excessive cold and hot temperatures. Your alarm will detect the problems but it is the response to those signals and the further analysis that gives the alarms their best value.

Assess Fire Risk before Leaving
Fires are a huge risk to summer homes. It’s extremely important to make a thorough assessment of fire risk, both as to what equipment can be put in the house to prevent fire and also what kind of insurance coverage you should have if a fire does occur in a closed summer home. Falkenberg recommends having your insurance placed into effect by an independent agent who writes insurance for many different carriers and one who will make sure that all your valuables are covered. You don’t want to find out that you weren’t adequately covered after an incident occurs.

One fire risk that is always an issue is turpentine, other types of flammable cleaning liquids and the rags used for cleaning and finishing, says Falkenberg. Homeowners often leave dirty rags and flammable objects around to spontaneously combust. Though the risk has been known forever, it’s a common mistake often overlooked. Be aware of this if you are renovating, and make sure the contractor is cognizant of this as well.

Install a Sprinkler System if Possible
If you are building a new summer house, installing a residential sprinkler system is a smart idea. Sprinklers can greatly reduce the risk of fire, however, because they cannot be turned off remotely or electronically. They can also be a prime source of water damage. Have an important contact ready on call, and make sure they know where the water values are to shut off the system.

Other Measures Do Not Replace Strong Locks
Just because you have an alarm system doesn’t mean you should neglect having strong locks in place. Secure your home with extra deadbolt locks prior to closing. For houses with lots of glass exposure, consider security window film to make it harder to break.

“The important thing to take away is that this is a starting point—a series of things to think about when trying to consider security risk and mitigating that risk,” says Falkenberg. “People need to focus on themselves and then make sure their security is squared away, or alternatively, get somebody who knows a lot about security to help advise them or safeguard them while they’re away.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Save Cash with These Summer Cooling Tips

August 13, 2013 12:04 am

Although we seem to be nearing the end of the summer, there's still plenty of heat left, and it's important to stay cool and safe these last few weeks. Why not save a little money in the process?

Although the weather can impact your energy use, there are some simple ways to lower your electric bill.

The average homeowner spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs, with summer cooling contributing a large part to the total. Of all your summer electric use, air conditioning is the number one cause of higher energy bills.

But whether you run air conditioning or fans to prevent that hot-weather meltdown, the following tips, provided by DTE Energy, will help you stay comfortable without overloading your checking account:

• Increase your thermostat setting. For every degree you increase your thermostat above 72 degrees, you'll reduce your cooling costs by up to 3 percent. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat and let it automatically adjust the setting for you – and apply for a $10 rebate! Find out how at

• Change or clean your furnace filter once a month. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can cause your air condition unit to run longer. Vacuum registers and vents regularly, and don't let furniture and draperies block the air flow.

• Use ceiling fans to assist your air conditioning. Set them to run counter-clockwise (or downward air flow), which provides better air circulation. Remember to turn them off when you leave the room.

• Close blinds, draperies and shades on windows facing the sun to block out the heat, and wait until cooler times of the day to run your dishwasher or clothes dryer.

• Have your central air conditioning unit tuned-up by a professional, plus clear away weeds and debris so that air can circulate freely around the unit.

• One last tip – Be sure to drink plenty of fluids in hot weather and enjoy the summer!

Source: DTE Energy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Take Time to Tackle Home Maintenance

August 13, 2013 12:04 am

(Family Features) Keeping a healthy home for your family means more than daily chores and the occasional deep cleaning. It’s important to add inspections of often overlooked areas and regular maintenance to your list of tasks.

“Every home can have unhealthy, harmful, or even hazardous areas,” said Mike Holmes, a contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. “It’s important to check them out, especially during regular maintenance. Addressing these ‘hidden hazards’ helps create a healthy home and keeps your family safe.”

Holmes recommends following his “SAFETY” checklist:

S - Seek out lead in the home.
If your home was built before 1978, it could contain lead. If you disturb any material that contains lead, tiny lead particles could become airborne at home. Talk to a professional to test the entire house, and take the necessary steps to ensure your family’s safety.

A - Address indoor air quality and change your air filter.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. Use an electrostatically charged air filter to help capture odors and airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Plus, changing your filter at the start of every season helps protect and maintain your system.

F - Fix leaks to prevent mold and mildew.
Mold spores need moisture to grow and thrive in warm, humid conditions. Inspect your home for excess water and moisture build-up from leaky roofs, faucets, basement drains, dishwashers and washing machines, and fix them immediately.

E - Exercise caution around appliances.
Before using appliances such as space heaters and toaster ovens, make sure they are working properly. Never drape an electrical cord over a sink. Also avoid overloading wiring or plugging too many appliances into a single wall socket. Be sure to unplug appliances when they’re not being used, and cover sockets with outlet protectors.

T - Test for dangerous gases.
One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon, according to the EPA. You can purchase a short-term home radon test for less than $20. Test the lowest lived-in level of your home, and if you have elevated levels of radon, call a qualified contractor immediately. Also, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month by pushing the test button on the unit. Remember to change the batteries every season, and replace the entire unit every 7 to 10 years.

Y - Yield healthier results with regular upkeep.

Keep up with regular home maintenance to help keep your home healthy and your family safe. Fix small problems now to avoid big repairs later. Remember, big repairs come with big price tags and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.

Source: 3M

Published with permission from RISMedia.