Marianne's Tip of the Week

 Help Your Garden Resist the Summer Heat & Drought

Week of June 4, 2023 

Summer is gardening season and a great time to add curb appeal to your home with colorful flowers and lush plants. But too much heat and not enough rain can turn your dream garden into a nightmare.  Here are some tips to help your plants survive the summer heat.

  1. Help your plants retain water by adding a thick layer of mulch.  Mulch helps keep moisture in the soil by preventing    evaporation. It also reduces water-thirsty weeds. 

  2.  Water your garden and lawn in the evening instead of the morning.  Daytime sun and heat increase evaporation.

  3.  Grow native plants.  Plants native to your area are generally more adaptive to the local climate and can withstand the summer temperatures and rainfall amounts common in your area.  Visit this site to see which plants are native to where you live.


Have a Safe and Happy July 4th Week!

Week of July 4, 2023

Its July and summer is in full swing!  Backyard BBQs, beach days, fireworks, and enjoying the warm weather, are great ways to have fun this week.  Here are some resources and tips to help make sure this week is as safe as it is enjoyable.

  • When it comes to backyard BBQs and grilling, proper food preparation and storage is a must.  Don't reuse marinade from raw foods and make sure meat is cooked to the proper internal temperature. In hot weather, leftovers should be moved to the refrigerator after one hour to stop the growth of bacteria.  For more food safety tips click here.

  • Nothing says July 4th like an awe inspiring firework display.  The safest way to enjoy a show is to leave it to the experts and attend planned, public event.  However, if you do plan to purchase your own legal fireworks, the National Safety Council has put together an extensive safety list that can be found here.

  • If you're in the Philadelphia area checkout the free concert and amazing fireworks display in our Nation's birthplace.  Details can be found here.

  • A pet's safety should also be considered this week.  PetMD suggests keeping your dog inside on hot days and during large celebrations. Dogs don't sweat the way humans do and can have trouble cooling themselves down. Some dogs are nervous or get overly excited in crowds.  Keeping them in a quiet, calm place indoors keeps everyone safe.  PetMD also has some great suggestions for pets who are afraid of loud noises and a list of human food that can be harmful to dogs.   Check out the site here.

Happy Independence Day!



Help Protect Your Home Against Extreme Weather 

Week of July 30, 2023


Extreme weather events are on the rise. The National Association of Realtors recently published an article with some useful tips to help homeowners protect their homes from some of the most common extreme weather events.  Following these tips could help you avoid severe damage to your home.



  • Clear a space of at least 100 feet around your home and remove dead or dry vegetation and other flammable materials.

  • Install tempered glass windows which are more resistant to breaking during a wildfire.

  • Cover vents and windows with metal mesh screens to prevent embers from entering the home.

  • Install a wildfire-resistant fence around the property to provide an additional flame barrier.

  • Ensure that your homeowners insurance covers damage from wildfires.


  • Consider elevating the home’s foundation if it's in a flood-prone area.

  • Install backflow valves on all pipes to prevent sewage backup during a flood.

  • Seal your foundation.

  • Install a sump pump to prevent water from seeping into your basement or crawlspace.

  • Store valuables and important documents in a waterproof safe on an upper floor or off-site.

  • Purchase flood insurance.

    Severe Storms and Hurricanes

  • Install impact-resistant tempered windows, doors, or storm shutters to protect against high winds and flying debris.

  • Reinforce your roof with hurricane straps or clips to prevent it from being blown off.

  • Keep your trees trimmed to remove weak branches that may fall on your house during a storm.

  • Have a backup power source, such as a generator, in case of power outages.

  • Review your insurance coverage and make sure it covers wind and storm damage.

    Extreme Heat

  • Install a high-efficiency air conditioning system to reduce energy usage and costs.

  • Plant shade trees or install shading devices such as awnings or shutters to block direct sunlight from entering your home.

  • Seal air leaks around windows, doors, and ductwork to prevent hot air from entering.

  • Use a programmable thermostat to control the temperature and save energy.


  • Use drought-resistant plants in your landscaping.

  • Use a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers to conserve water.

  • Install low-flow fixtures and appliances to reduce water usage.

  • Collect rainwaterin a barrel to use for watering plants.

  • Replace your lawn with artificial turf or drought-tolerant ground cover.

  • Even with these precautions in place, there is no guarantee that a home will make it through an extreme weather event unharmed. However, taking these steps can reduce the risk of property damage. Consult with a professional to determine the best strategies for your situation.



Common Outdoor Entertaining Mistakes

Week of August 6, 2023

Its August but there is still plenty of time for outdoor entertaining, gathering and lounging. From end-of-summer barbeques, family movie nights before school starts, and fall football tailgates, an entertaining-ready outdoor space means more impromptu gatherings and a more overall serene outdoor space. If your outdoor living area could use some sprucing up, take note of these common outdoor decorating mistakes.

Not space planning

An outdoor living space is similar to your interior living areas. If something about your outdoor space feels off, it may be the layout. Like your living or family rooms, the layout should be the top priority. The layout should include furniture that correctly fills the space, a focal point and various areas, such as outdoor dining, conversation and lounging spots. You can delineate areas with outdoor rugs or planters.

Forgetting the accessories

Like an indoor living area, accessories and accents can unite the whole area. Outdoor decor such as garden stools, lanterns or cordless table lamps, outdoor throw pillows, blankets and plenty of potted plants, flowers and candles all lend to the ambiance.

A lack of greenery and color

The best way to add charm and personality to an outdoor space is with plenty of flowers and greenery. You don’t need to be an avid gardener to make this happen. Potted flowers, shrubs and trees typically only require sun and regular watering but will significantly affect the area’s ambiance.

Uncomfortable seating

Uninviting seating options, such as wrought iron chairs with no cushions, don’t entice you to take a seat and stay a while. Having comfortable and generous seating options with cushions outfitted in outdoor fabric, such as sofas, swivel chairs or inviting lounge chairs, creates a welcoming and inviting relaxing spot.

Nowhere to rest a beverage

When you’re enjoying time outdoors, having a spot to rest a beverage is paramount. Every seat should have an adjacent table to set down a beverage and snacks. Outdoor accent tables or garden stools should be plentiful, so there’s always an easy spot to set down a drink.

A lack of lighting

If your outdoor area lacks lighting, your gatherings will likely end when the sun goes down. Having a layered outdoor lighting plan means your get-togethers can extend into the evening hours, meaning more time to catch fireflies, gather around the fireplace and enjoy the cooler evenings outdoors. Ensuring the walkways are lit, hanging overhead lighting, such as string lighting and lanterns and installing lighting on the home’s structure, such as a chandelier from the outdoor pergola and plenty of coach lamps on the house, will ensure that your backyard is adequately lit. Table lamps and candlelight will add additional ambiance.





Outdoor Projects That Pay Off the Most 

Week of August 20, 2023


1. Standard lawn care service: 217% (percent of value recovered)

Project: Complete six standard seasonal applications of fertilizer or weed control on 5,000 square feet of lawn.

Cost estimate: $415

Estimated cost recovered: $900


2. Landscape maintenance: 104%

Project: Mulch, mow, prune shrubs and plant about 60 perennials or annuals.

Cost estimate: $4,800

Estimated cost recovered: $5,000


3. Outdoor kitchen: 100%

Project: Install an inset grill, stainless steel drawers, ice chest sink and concrete countertop with veneered masonry stone.

Cost estimate: $15,000

Estimated cost recovered: $15,000


4. Overall landscape upgrade: 100%

Project: Install a front walkway of natural flagstone; add two stone planters, five flowering shrubs and a 15-foot-tall tree.

Cost estimate: $9,000

Estimated cost recovered: $9,000


5. New patio: 95%

Project: Install a backyard 18-by-16-foot concrete paver patio.

Cost estimate: $10,500

Estimated cost recovered: $10,000



What to Do If You Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Amount That's Less Than What You Were Hoping For

Week of Sept 3, 2023

Before you start looking for a new home, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. That will let you find out how much money a mortgage lender is willing to give you to buy a house so you don’t waste your time focusing on homes that are out of your price range. If you get pre-approved, but the amount is less than you were hoping for, there are several ways to handle the situation.

Pay Down Debt

A lender looks at multiple factors when evaluating a mortgage pre-approval application. Your debt-to-income ratio is one of them. That’s the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes toward debt.

If your DTI ratio is high, a lender won’t feel comfortable offering you a large mortgage because you might not be able to keep up with the payments. Paying off some or all of your debt can reduce your DTI ratio and help you get pre-approved for a bigger mortgage.

Make a Larger Down Payment

The amount you put down on a house will affect the size of the mortgage that a lender is willing to give you. If you take out a conventional loan and put down less than 20%, you’ll have to purchase private mortgage insurance. That will add to your total monthly housing costs and reduce the amount of money that you can apply to a mortgage.

Putting down 20% or more will let you avoid PMI and free up more money that you can put toward a home loan. If you can make a larger down payment, a lender might pre-approve you for a bigger mortgage.

Try a Different Lender

Mortgage lenders look at the same factors when evaluating applications, but they consider that information in different ways. If you provide the exact same information to another lender, you might get pre-approved for a higher mortgage amount.

Adjust Your Expectations

Maybe you need to rethink your goals. Many people buy an expensive house, put a large percentage of their monthly income toward their mortgage, and become “house poor.” So much of their income goes toward housing costs that they struggle to cover other bills and have little or no money left over for other priorities, such as investing for retirement and taking vacations.

If the amount you got pre-approved for is well below what you were hoping for, it might be a much-needed reality check. You might have to accept the fact that you simply can’t afford an expensive house right now. If you buy a more modest home, you’ll be able to take some time to build equity and pay down debt, then upgrade to a house with a higher price tag later.




Fall Home Maintenance Guide

week of Sept 17, 2023

September 23, 2023 is the official start of the fall season which means its time to start thinking about preparing your home for cooler weather.  Fall home prep goes beyond bringing out the cozy throws and autumnal candles. In home ownership, new seasons come with extra maintenance responsibilities to help keep your home in excellent condition and ready to face the upcoming weather challenges. As you prepare for the cooler temperatures, read on for the fall home maintenance tasks every homeowner needs to complete this season.

Change the filters and batteries

The HVAC filters should ideally be replaced every three months. The start of a new season is an ideal time to do so because of the temperature changes. Changing the filter in the fall is especially important so your heater works optimally the first time you need to turn it on, so your home is more energy efficient and keeps your heating bills where they should be.

Batteries on the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be changed twice a year, so changing the batteries in the fall and spring is easy to remember and to ensure that these necessary alarms are correctly working.

Clean the gutters

Over the spring and summer, your gutters fill with leaves, seeds and other debris. Before the leaves fall in the autumn, clean out the gutters so they don’t overflow. This will also help the snow drain better once the first heavy snowfall comes.

Check the doors and windows for air leaks

Drafty windows and doors can be a significant source of heat loss and higher energy bills. One way to determine if your doors and windows leak is to put a piece of paper under the door and if the paper slides around, it’s time to have the doors and windows resealed.

Drain and seal the outdoor spigots

Once the fall gardening season is over, the next step is to drain the outdoor fixtures attached to your house, disconnect the hoses and attach the outdoor spigot covers. If you don’t drain the outdoor spigots and disconnect the hoses, you risk the pipes bursting if the water freezes in the winter.

Protect the outdoor furniture

After your final outdoor fall fire, it’s time to cover up the outdoor furniture. Whether you cover the furniture with weather-proof covers or bring it indoors, protecting it from the upcoming winter weather will ensure you can use your outdoor furniture for many summer seasons.

Repair the driveway

If your driveway has cracks, repairing this damage before the temperatures drop can help protect the cracks from traveling throughout the driveway. When a crack freezes, it can then expand and damage the driveway.

Test the snow blower

If you rely on a snow blower to clear the snow from your driveway, testing it before the first snow will save scrambling to make any repairs when you need it. If it’s not working correctly, have it serviced in the fall so it will be ready to run once the first heavy snow arrives.



Moving Checklist

week of October 8, 2023


Whether you're moving into your first home or moving into your next home, moving can be both exciting and stressful. Following the checklist below provided by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will help you make a smooth transition to your next destination.   A convenient printable version of the list can be found here.


8 Weeks Before

  • Call moving companies for estimates.

  • Remove and dispose of unnecessary possessions.

  • Start compiling an inventory of your possessions.

  • Get a floor plan (with room dimensions) of your new home to help you decide which furnishings you want to keep and which room they will go in.

  • Start a file of moving-related papers and receipts.

  • Locate schools, healthcare professionals and hospitals in your new location.

  • Arrange to transfer your children’s school records and family medical records.


6 Weeks Before

  • Secure off-site storage, if needed.

  • Choose a mover and sign contract.

  • Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent about coverage for moving and secure more, if necessary.

  • Contact insurance companies (auto, homeowner’s, medical, and life) to arrange for coverage in your new home.


4 Weeks Before

  • Create a file of important papers, such as auto license, registration documents and title; any medical, dental and school records; birth certificates; wills, deeds, stock certificates, and other financial documents.

  • Notify the following of your change of address:

  • Post office

  • Banks

  • Credit card companies

  • Relatives and friends

  • Insurance agent, lawyer, tax/financial advisor

  • Magazine subscriptions

  • Notify utility companies of date to discontinue/transfer service and/or establish service at your new home. Also arrange for final readings and bills, including refunds on prepaid services. Notify your state’s department of motor vehicle of your new address.

  •  If moving from an apartment, arrange for refund of your security deposit. 

  • Discontinue additional home services (housekeeper, gardener/lawn service, snow removal, and pool cleaner), if applicable.

  • Start using up things you can’t move, such as perishables.


3 Weeks Before

  • Make travel plans, if necessary.

  • Make arrangements with condo or homeowner’s association to reserve elevator usage time if moving into or out of a high-rise building.

  • Arrange to close existing bank accounts and open new accounts in new area.

  • Arrange for child care on moving day.

2 Weeks Before

  • Arrange special transport for your pets and plants.

  • Contact your moving company and review arrangements for your move.

1 Week Before

  • Pack moving-essential boxes—important documents, travel clothes, personal items and prescription medications.


2–3 Days Before

  • Confirm all final arrangements with your mover and other service providers.