Kerry Ziegler
Phone:  215-679-6877Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  kzhomes@comcast.netFax:  267-354-6922
Kerry Ziegler
Kerry Ziegler

My Blog

How to Plan Your Outdoor Space

March 19, 2018 1:57 am

If you’re a new homeowner - or a veteran homeowner who’s ready for a change - it’s a wise idea to approach your landscaping and outdoor living space with a well thought-out gameplan. Here are some steps to follow for creating a yard that will serve as a welcome extension of your home.

Start by considering how you’ll use the space. While your home may already have a front porch or back deck, there may be an area of your yard that you envision using more, so plan accordingly.

Take a good look at existing trees, shrubs and large plants and consider whether they should stay put or be relocated based on how you will use your yard.

Consider privacy. How important is privacy to you? Determine whether you’ll want to install fences or a row of trees to create a privacy barrier for your most frequented outdoor space.

Think about what amenities are most important to you. Do you plan on entertaining a lot? Then an outdoor kitchen and/or bar may be part of your plans. Cozy, quiet evenings outside? A small firepit or chiminea will do the trick.

Consider furnishings. Outdoor furniture has advanced to new heights, these days. Will you want a full set of cushioned chairs and couches? An outdoor carpet? Or will a simple set of adirondack chairs and a teak table set for dining suffice? Map out what will best suit your space and your lifestyle needs.

Plan for lighting. No matter how simple or extravagant your outdoor space becomes, the right lighting is essential. Plan on a mix of pathway lights and spotlights for practicality. Solar options are ideal. Also consider decorative options, such as string lights and lanterns for ambience.

Plant wisely. Make sure you choose plants that suit your level of gardening enthusiasm. If you’re looking for minimal maintenance, stick with perennials, evergreens and grasses. If gardening is your passion, go for more elaborate flowers and shrubs that flourish with extra care.

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Kickstart Healthy Habits

March 19, 2018 1:57 am

(Family Features)--When it seems that everyone around you is feeling under the weather, you can be your own best line of defense against getting sick. Help ward off sickness for yourself and your family with these self-care tips that help promote healthy habits and fight off illness.

Eat right. A diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables can give your body the immunity-boosting nutrients it needs to function properly. Avoid excess, empty calories and instead aim for meals that deliver a healthy balance of all food groups.

Wash, wash, wash. Kids and bacteria go hand-in-hand, literally. Kids' hands are everywhere, including some surfaces that may be more susceptible to bacteria. Hand-washing is a simple way to encourage healthy habits all year round. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand-washing is an important step to help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.  

Get up and move. Exercise is one of your strongest weapons against illness. A regular routine that gets your blood pumping is good for overall health and your immune system. It can help flush toxins and keep your body in top condition.

Just say no. When it comes to protecting yourself and your family, give yourself permission to draw hard lines about spending time with those who aren't feeling well. Reschedule play dates or other events that might unnecessarily expose your family to germs.

Rest up. When your sleep schedule is off, so is your whole system, and that makes you more susceptible to illness. Everyone's precise sleep requirements are different; you'll know you're getting enough if you feel rested when you wake up. If you're not, and more overnight rest isn't realistic, look for ways to sneak in some extra rest time during the day.

Enjoy the outdoors. Even when it's cooler than you'd like, brief time outdoors can do plenty to lift your spirits and, in turn, your overall well-being. The fresh air and vitamin D from a bright, sunny day are free and easy ways to give your body a boost and help ward off illness.

Source: Softsoap

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Prevent Fraud on Your Smartphone

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

While millennials may be viewed as the most smartphone-savvy generation out there, that may not always be the case when it comes to cyber security.

With mobile devices capable of holding an abundance of personal data, millennials are particularly vulnerable to fraud if they do not use simple, but critical measures to protect their devices. In fact, according to a recent TD Bank survey of millennials, 23 percent are not using the screen-lock password feature on their device, 67 percent will use the same password, or a slightly different version of a password, and one in five will keep a list of passwords stored on their device.

To help millennials—and all of us—from falling victim to cyber fraud via our mobile devices, TD suggests taking the following steps:

Use better password protection. Think of your password as a guard that stands between your personal information and potential online risks. Use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters (minimum 10 characters in total) and change them on a regular basis. When you create passwords with combinations of letters and numbers that are unique for every one of your online accounts, you'll make it more difficult to unlock your identity—helping to keep your information safe and secure.

Mobile musts: Your mobile device is vulnerable to fraudsters if left unlocked, so be sure to set a screen-lock password, which will protect your personal information if your phone is ever lost or stolen. Enable auto-lock so your device locks after a short period of time when not in use. If you lose your device and it is unprotected, notify your financial institution immediately and change your banking passwords.

Avoid using WiFi in public places: Accessing WiFi in busy public places, such as malls and airports, makes you more vulnerable to cyber fraud. Use your data to go online if you must in such locations—or wait until you’re in a more secure WiFi area.

Set up fraud alerts: If your device was lost, but then recovered or replaced, be aware that your banking information may have been compromised. Cover all the bases by having your bank notify you of potential fraud. Such alerts will let you know of any suspicious activity on your accounts and allow you to block access to your bank card. Do the same with any credit cards you have associated with your mobile device.

Check your statements and online accounts: If you lose your device and it is unprotected, be sure to notify your financial institution and review your banking information online. This will alert you to any fraudulent transactions more quickly and ensure your financial institution can take action to protect your accounts.

Taking the above precautions will make you a lot smarter—and safer—when using your smartphone.
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in One Afternoon

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

Do you dread opening your kitchen cabinets? Afraid of what might topple out and hit you in the head? Dread digging around for that spice you know is there somewhere? Never fear, Martha Stewart to the rescue with these great, painless organizational tips for taking your cabinets from mayhem to marvelous.

Start With Baskets and Bins
Hit up a yard sale or your local dollar store—or better yet, dig around in your garage or basement—and gather several sized baskets and storage bins to sort and house small items that tend to cause clutter, such as spices, teas, dish towels, cake decorating items and cleaning supplies.
Add a Life-Changing Lazy Susan
Tired of digging in the recesses of cabinets to unearth items? A lazy Susan turntable can change all that, especially when installed in a corner cabinet. You can even try one in the fridge. 

Spice Racks and Shelves
Invest in a wire spice rack that fits into your cabinet or mount one on a wall. Use plastic-coated wire shelves to double the storage capacity of existing shelves in your cabinets.

Cutting Boards and Pans
Get creative and install rows of tension rods between cabinet shelves in order to store cutting boards, baking sheets and other non-breakable flat items vertically. Think of it as a DIY plate rack.

Glasses and Plates
Group by style and function. For example, put all everyday glasses on one shelf, stemware on another. Stack ceramic plates in one group—no more than four to six together—and fine china in another.

Once your organizational system is in place, your cabinets will be neat, accessible and most importantly, stress-free.
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Home Improvement on the Rise: Be Sure to Prep for Your Project

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

According to data compiled by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the amount spent on remodeling and home improvements is expected to see healthy growth by 2025.

While in 2015, the home improvement market reached $340 billion, the market is expected to increase 2 percent annually on average through 2025. That said, this forecast is slightly below the average pace of growth over the past two decades.

Demographically speaking, older homeowners are expected to account for the majority of spending in the market, but climbing mortgage interest rates and rising house prices pose problems for potential younger homeowners. Despite the challenges, millennials are still expected to represent a growth segment in the next wave of homeowners, many of whom will be buying affordable homes in need of renovations.

According to Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, “The shortage of affordable housing in much of the country makes the stock of older homes an attractive option for buyers willing to invest in upgrades."

Is there a home improvement project in your future? Make sure to take the following steps before you swing the hammer:
  • Consider the cost versus value. Do some research online and ask a local real estate expert how much return on investment you can expect from your project.
  • Talk to City Hall and find out if you’ll need a permit for your project.
  • Be realistic about DIY. Can you really tackle the project yourself, or is it prudent to hire a professional?
  • If hiring a construction pro or contractor, get recommendations and interview at least three. Make sure they’re licensed and get written estimates in advance. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


REALTORS® Fight for Permanent Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

If you or someone you know fell on tough times and experienced a foreclosure, short sale or loan modification, mortgage forgiveness tax relief helped ease the burden. However, these tax provisions recently expired, which could mean the debt that lenders forgive in these scenarios could now be considered taxable income.

However, according to recent testimony from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) before the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy at a hearing evaluating recently expired tax provisions, the exclusion for forgiven home mortgage debt following a foreclosure, short sale or loan modification due to financial hardship should be made permanent to provide relief to troubled borrowers and minimize the damage to families, neighborhoods and communities.

NAR has long advocated for mortgage forgiveness tax relief, policy that was first established in 2007 at the onset of the housing and economic downturn, which has expired and been extended several times. In early 2018, it was retroactively extended to cover 2017. Without the exclusion, the debt that lenders forgive is considered taxable income and adds a tax burden at a time when an individual or family has experienced a true economic loss. NAR believes most of these people are already in financial distress and likely unable to pay additional taxes.

The good news is, home equity is on the rise and short sales and foreclosures are down. However, there are still about 2.5 million homes that are underwater, according to industry data. While this is far less than the height of the recession when nearly a quarter of mortgaged homes in the U.S. had negative equity, NAR believes the tax exclusion is still a critical part of helping those homeowners in financial distress get back on their feet.

Talk to your real estate agent to find out the current state of your home equity, and for more information about NAR's mortgage debt cancellation tax relief efforts, visit

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips for Buying a New-Construction Home

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

Thanks to the shortage of available inventory in most markets, you can expect to start seeing more and more new construction. Buying a new-construction home is different than buying an existing home, however, so be ready to attack the process with a different mindset and specific strategies. Here are five important tips to keep in mind from U.S. News and World Report:

1. Choose an agent who works with builders. Start by selecting a real estate agent who has expertise working with builders and new-construction properties. He or she will be able to steer you toward a reputable firm whose designs suit what you’re looking for, in the location you desire.
2. Research the builder. Be sure to do your own research on the builder to determine the quality of their product and their overall credibility. Check online reviews, the state licensing board, local court records and even Google to find out if the builder has any pending lawsuits, complaints or disciplinary actions. Take it a step further and talk directly to past clients. A reputable builder will be happy to offer referrals.
3. Spend your money on size and location. When building from scratch, it’s tempting to spend your money on upgrades such as high-end countertops and bathroom fixtures, but that can quickly put you over budget. Instead, focus on choosing the right location and getting the square footage you need. Upgrades can always be made down the line.
4. Learn how to read a floorplan. Floorplans are foreign territory for many of us, so talk to your builder and real estate agent about how to accurately interpret them. Many builders offer virtual reality technology that turns the floorplan into a realistic 3D experience. Better still, visit a home that was designed with your floorplan so that you can get a firsthand feel of what you’re buying.
5. Get a warranty and an inspection. Most builders offer warranties, so be sure to ask if yours does and, if so, what exactly it covers. Certain companies, for example, offer a one-year warranty on workmanship, a two-year warranty on mechanical and electrical elements, five years on water leaks and 10 years on structure. Also, be sure to get an independent inspection before you move in. A home inspector will help identify any problems before the builder’s warranty expires.
The above guidelines will help make your new-construction buying experience a happy and successful one.
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


In this Edition: New-Construction Purchase Guidelines

March 16, 2018 6:15 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines five tips you must keep in mind if you’re planning on buying a new-construction home. Other topics covered this month include a foolproof plan for organizing your kitchen cabinets and how to prevent fraud on your smartphone. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Cocktail Party Tips for Newbies

March 15, 2018 1:45 am

One of the best ways to ease into home entertaining is the cocktail party: it’s festive, yet relaxed, and saves you the stress and expense of providing a full-course meal. A cocktail party also places understood parameters on the length of the party, denoting an affair that takes place prior to dinner.

If you’re new to cocktail parties, however, it’s easy to get tripped up in the do’s and don’ts. Here are some great tips from the experts at for making your cocktail party a great success:

Keep the guest list in check. While too few people will make any party a bust, cocktail parties should be fairly intimate in nature as opposed to an all-out bash. Aim for a dozen or so guests.

Streamline the cocktails. Have enough beer and wine on hand to accommodate your guests, then make your party festive by serving one or two specialty cocktails to suit the season, such as margaritas and cosmos in summer, or Manhattans and martinis in winter. Pre-mix your specialty cocktails and have them available in decorative decanters or pitchers so that guests can help themselves.

Have enough food, but not too much. Resist the urge to go overboard on food by keeping in mind that guests are not expecting dinner. Prepare a couple of hot hors d’oeuvres, then make the rest no-prep items, such as olives, seasoned nuts, one or two fine cheeses, and crudites.

Do all your prep in advance. Most importantly, make sure all your work is done in advance so that you can actually participate and enjoy your party. Make your hot appetizers ahead of time, place everything out before guests arrive, including small plates, napkins, water and anything else that might be needed so that you’re not running around handling requests. All that’s left to do? Enjoy!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

March 15, 2018 1:45 am

(Family Features)--Although women are making strides in the corporate world, there is still work that can be done to level the landscape.

Research from Catalyst, a global nonprofit focused on empowering and accelerating women in business, shows the needle is moving, albeit slowly. In nearly 10 years, the number of women in senior roles in the United States increased just 1 percent. At Standard & Poor's 500 index companies, overall women's representation is far behind: 5.2 percent CEOs, 11 percent top earners and 26.5 percent senior-level officials and managers. Less than 5 percent of senior level positions are held by women of color. Men still lead more than 95 percent of the most powerful companies in the United States.

If you're looking for ways to promote change in your workplace, explore these five steps that can help build a work environment where everyone can advance and succeed:

Engage in programs that celebrate women of color. Tap into resources that honor women in leadership and foster growth for aspiring women leaders from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, such as those available through Catalyst. The nonprofit offers a host of ongoing workshops, programs, trainings and consulting services designed to promote inclusive workplaces, along with events around the world. For example, the "Catalyst Skyline Takeover," which is a visual realization of the international business community's commitment to greater diversity, inclusion and gender equality in workplaces around the world features dozens of global companies "lighting up" their buildings with the female symbol.

Assess and formalize pay scales. As numerous studies indicate, wage disparity is one of the most obvious signs of inequality in the workplace. A fair pay scale outlines specific responsibilities and corresponding compensation rates and can be applied to roles across the board regardless of race, gender or other potential discriminatory factors.

Ensure growth opportunities exist. Leveling the pay scale is an important step, but ensuring equal access to the positions at the higher end of that scale is an essential supporting move. Simply saying you'll pay a woman the same as a man in the same job falls short if all candidates, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity are not given the same chance to compete for more senior positions.

Implement mentorship programs. Positive role models can give future leaders the vision to dream big and the guidance to make those dreams a reality. Putting aspiring women leaders in close contact with other women who have attained success in their field helps set a course toward achievement. It also helps men to advance and develop unbiased leadership. Since the majority of business leaders are currently men, change for women can only be accelerated if all those in leadership positions work together.

Support parental involvement. Historically, the issue of parenting and the workforce has been dominated by discussions around maternity leave policies, but more recently, that dialogue has evolved. Men, too, desire more time with their families, and through equal parental leave policies, workplaces can allow women and men within all types of family structures to thrive in their careers and at home.

Source: Catalyst

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