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Watermelon: All You Wanted To Know

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Image of a Watermelon

Watermelon


Selection Information


Usage: Raw in fruit salads or in fruit platters.

Selection: Good-quality watermelon will be firm, evenly-shaped, heavy for its size and have a deep-pitched tone when slapped with an open palm. One of the easiest methods is to simply turn the melon over. If the underside is yellow, and the rind overall has a healthy sheen, the melon is most probably ripe. The flesh of cut melons should have a fresh, firm texture, and the seeds should be fully mature and hard. Watermelons do not ripen any further once they are cut from the vine.

Avoid: Avoid product that is partially white or pale green, soft overall, has soft spots or is leaking a milky-white fluid. Melons shouldn't have any dents, bruises or cuts, but marks left from insect bites will not affect the melon's flavor. When using the open palm technique for ripeness, avoid melons with a high-pitched tone or a dead, thudding sound.


Seasonal Information


Watermelon is available year-round due to imports from Mexico. Domestic melons are available from May through October, with May through August as peak season.

Watermelons are grown in 44 of the continental United States. Most watermelons purchased in the West are grown in California and Arizona, but Florida, Texas and Georgia are also leading producer states.


Watermelon Nutritional Information


Serving Size: 154g

Amount Per Serving

 

Calories46
Calories from Fat 0

 

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0

0% 

Cholesterol 0mg

0% 

Sodium 2mg

0% 

Total Carbohydrate 12g

4% 

Dietary Fiber 1g

2% 

Sugars 10g

 

Protein 1g

 

Vitamin A 18%

Vitamin C 21%

Calcium 1%

Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Source: PMA's Labeling Facts


 


Seedless Watermelons are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They'realso a good source of Potassium, and a very good source ofVitamin A and Vitamin C.


Watermelon Tips & Trivia

  • With an open palm, slap the watermelon. A high-pitched tone indicates green or under-ripe product. A dull sound or dead thud indicates an over-ripe melon. A deep-pitched tone indicates a melon that is ripe. Slap a number of melons one after the other and you will be able to hear the differences in tone. Small melons are the hardest to test for ripeness since most will sound green even if they are ripe. If you need a small amount of watermelon, it is best to buy a piece of a larger one. It may be more expensive per pound, but you will be more likely to get good flavor.
  • Watermelon, considered one of America's favorite fruits, is really a vegetable (Citrullus lanatus). Cousin to the cucumber and kin to the gourd, watermelons can range in size from 7 to 100 pounds.
  • Today, there are more than 200 varieties of watermelon grown around the world, with 50 varieties making their home in the U.S.
  • The world record for the largest watermelon grown is 255 pounds, grown by Vernon Conrad of Bixby, Oklahoma!
  • The world record for watermelon seed-spitting is 66'11", held by Jack Dietz of Chicago.
  • Americans purchase and consume about 3 billion pounds of watermelon annually.
  • Historians say watermelons first grew in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. They were a source of water for thirsty traders, who began to sell the seeds in cities along the ancient Mediterranean trade routes.
  • Cultivation of watermelon spread throughout Africa and, by the 1600s, watermelon made its way to Great Britain, Spain, China and beyond. Watermelon arrived in North America courtesy of European colonists and African slaves.
  • Russians make beer out of watermelon juice.
  • During the Civil War, the Confederate Army boiled down watermelons as a source of sugar and molasses.
  • Melons may be kept at room temperature, un-cut, for about two weeks. Store whole melons at 50-60°F. Cut melons should be wrapped and stored at 40-50°F.

Yield: Based on average 20-pound and 30-pound watermelon sliced 1/2 inch thick for garnishes and 3/4 inch thick for buffets.

20 lb. melon
Number of 1/2-inch wedges (1/6 slice) 138
Number of 3/4-inch wedges (1/6 slice) 90

30 lb. melon
Number of 1/2-inch wedges (1/6 slice) 192
Number of 3/4-inch wedges (1/6 slice) 126


There are about 200 varieties of watermelon throughout the United States. All varieties can be classified into four general categories: Picnic, Ice-box, Seedless and Yellow Flesh.

Picnic
· 15-45 pounds
· Red or yellow flesh
· Round or oblong
· Light to dark-green rind, with or without stripes


Ice-box
· 5-15 pounds
· Red or yellow flesh
· Round
· Dark or light-green rind

Seedless
· 10-25 pounds
· Red or yellow flesh
· Oval to round
· Light-green rind with dark-green stripes

Yellow flesh
· 10-30 pounds
· Oblong to long
· Light-green rind with mottled stripes
· Yellow to bright-orange flesh

Taken from http://www.produceoasis.com/Items_folder/Fruits/Watermelon.html

9 Buyer Traps & How To Avoid Them

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team
No matter which way you look at it, buying a home is a major
investment.  But for many homebuyers, it can be an even more
expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to
at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap
them into either:
* paying too much for the home they want, or
* losing their dream home to another buyer or,
* (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.
 
A systemized approach to the homebuying process can help you
steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut
costs, but also secure the home that’s best for you.
 
This important article discusses the 9 most common and costly of
these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do
to avoid them.
 
 
THE 9 BUYER TRAPS
 
1. Bidding Blind.
What price should you offer when you bid on a home?  Is the
seller’s asking price too high, or does it represent a great
deal?  If you fail to research the market in order to understand
what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be
like bidding blind.  Without this knowledge of market value, you
could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at
all on an excellent value.
 
2. Buying the Wrong Home.
What are you looking for in a home?  A simple enough question,
but the answer can be quite complex.  More than one buyer has
been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process
only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too
big or too small.  Maybe they’re stuck with a longer than desired
commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to
deal with now that the excitement has died down.  Take the time
upfront to clearly define your wants and needs.  Put it in
writing and then use it as a yard stick with which to measure
every home you look at.
 
3. Unclear Title.
Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your
new home free and clear by having a title search completed.  The
last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch
of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property
such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the
like.
 
4. Inaccurate Survey.
As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an
updated property survey which clearly marks your boundaries.  If
the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural
changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new
swimming pool, a neighbor’s new fence which is extending a
boundary line, etc.).  Be very clear on these issues.
 
5. Undisclosed Fix-ups.
Don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that
will need to be attended to.  Both you and the seller are out to
maximize your investment.  Ensure that you conduct a thorough
inspection of the home early in the process.  Consider hiring an
independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and
out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector’s
report.  This inspector should be able to give you a report of
any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate
cost.
 
6. Not Getting Mortgage Preapproval.
Preapproval is fast, easy and free.  When you have a preapproved
mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of
freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when
you find the home of your dreams.
 
7. Contract Misses.
If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by
neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the
spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final
closing and settlement.  Agree ahead of time on a dollar amount
for an escrow fund to cover items that the seller fails to follow
through on. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them,
and check them off one by one.
 
8. Hidden Costs.
Make sure you identify and uncover all costs - large and small -
far enough ahead of time.  When a transaction closes, you will
sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the
"sub"-total - fees such as loan disbursement charges,
underwriting fees etc.  Understand these in advance by having
your lender project total charges for you in writing.
 
9. Rushing the Closing.
Take your time during this critical part of the process, and
insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign.  Make
sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of
the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted.
Is the interest rate right?  Is everything covered?  If you rush
this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last
minute snag that you can’t fix without compromising the terms of
the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.
 
 
One More Tip...
 
Find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or
"House-hunting Service," which takes the guesswork out of finding
just the right home that matches your needs.  This type of
program will crossmatch your criteria with ALL available homes on
the market and supply you with printed information on an on-going
basis. A program like this can help you to affordably move into
the home of your dreams.

Financing Myth #2

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

I’m better off going to lender that has “in-house” underwriting, right?

Many mortgage financing sources will boast that they can just step down the hall to their underwriter and get an expedient (presumably affirmative) loan approval.  This also tends to give one the false belief that  an underwriter who works within the same company is willing to be a little  more flexible.

We have found the exact opposite is probably a more accurate assumption.  In-house underwriters seem to need to be more cautious to avoid any implications of impropriety.  Some lenders even have a policy that underwriters reviewing branch office files must be strictly evaluated.  In some cases, it is even  company policy for the loan officer and underwriters to avoid directly discussing a loan file.  Situations may also arise where there is a long standing personality conflict between a loan officer and an underwriter.

Financing Myth #1

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

All Lenders and Mortgage Companies are the Same.  Aren’t all Lenders required to adhere to the same standards and guidelines anyway?

This is an excellent question.  We constantly find that there is a great deal of  misunderstanding relating to the idea that every lender has set of guidelines which have basically been cast in stone.  At our office, we sometimes refer to these as “... the They Sayers.”  An example of this is “... They say you can’t get a mortgage if you’ve just changed jobs or employers.”

There are many different types of generic guidelines are - FHA, VA, FNMA (commonly referred to as “Freddie Mae”), and FHLMC (commonly Freddie Mac”).  These guidelines and procedures change frequently and many lenders will deviate from standard financing guidelines.  You can make a big mistake by going to a lender who only offers one method of financing your homes.

 

For information on lenders we suggest, call us anytime!

Are Your Sunglasses Safe?

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

 

Summertime is sunglasses time.  For some of us, sunglasses are just something we grab off a rack at the drug store or supermarket.  For others, they’re a significant fashion statement.  But did you know that sunglasses are critical to protecting your eyes from the sun, and that wearing the wrong sunglasses can do more harm than good?

 

Most of us know about the danger of too much sun exposure on our skin – that’s why we buy sunscreen products.  The function of sunscreen is to protect our skin from ultraviolet (UV) light – invisible rays emitted by the sun.  Well, our eyes need the same kind of protection.  Exposing your eyes to too much UV light can damage the cornea, lens and retina, and lead to cataracts and/or macular degeneration, both of which can lead to blindness.  Sunglasses are also necessary for protecting the delicate skin around your eyes, where damage can cause skin cancer.  

 

So, what’s the next step?  Purchasing sunglasses with a label indicating 99 or 100% UV protection.  Don’t assume that a dark lens is doing the job – UV protection comes from a clear, chemical coating applied to the lens, not from the lens color.  And be sure your sunglasses cover the entire eye area; consider purchasing close-fitting, larger-lensed or wrap-around sunglasses for maximum protection.

 

And how does wearing the wrong sunglasses do more harm than good?  Wearing any dark glasses causes your pupils to expand to let in more light.  Sunglasses without UV protection let more harmful UV rays into your expanded pupil, so your eyes are actually being exposed to more potential damage than if you were wearing no sunglasses at all.

 

Finally – don’t save your sunglasses just for summer or sunny days.  Any daylight, any time of year, brings with it UV rays. 

 

When you think about it, the right sunglasses are a darn good investment.  All in favor, say “eye”!

20 Things You Should Know About Purchasing Property

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

1.      What is the neighborhood (and your neighbors) like...are their certain features in the area that would effect the value of this property in the future?

2.      What are the realty taxes on the home?

3.      What are the utility costs...especially electricity if the home is electrically heated?

4.      How far do I have to travel for schools, public transit, and shopping?

5.      What  major repair expenses do I have to look forward to within the next two  years?

6.      What is the traffic flow in front of or near the property... any main roads, bus routes or railway tracks?

7.      Are there any utilities easements or encroachments over the property?

8.      Is there a fairly recent survey that shows all the building  and additions on the property?

9.      Has the property had a home inspection done when the present owners bought that you could check to see what minor and major problems there were?  Ask the vender for a list of those problems that were fixed!

10. Has the homeowner signed a disclosure document? (After January 1, 1995 they became mandatory.)

11. How much are the closing costs...is there a better time in the month to close to minimize them?

12. Who has the best rates and service in the mortgage field...bankers or mortgage brokers?

13. How do you select the best lender to work with?

14. What are the other comparable homes in the area selling for?  You don’t want to overpay or get carried away by snazzy finishing touches in a home which may be priced higher than other neighborhood homes.

15. How flexible are venders usually on their asking price?

16. At what price do we start with when we go to put in an offer?

17. How is my financing approval determined?  Is there any beneficial existing financing on the property that I can assume?

18. What does the yard look like when it isn’t covered with snow?  Are there any problems with drainage or runoff after heavy rain or in the spring?

19. Does the basement show any signs of moisture...can it be fixed simply by cleaning/repairing the even though or is it a more serious problem?

20. What can I have included in the sale?  Are there any exclusions?

Change For Appraisers-Home Valuation Code Of Conduct

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team
Friday, 1 May 2009
Home Valuation Code of Conduct: Fix or Fraud?

Today is the official start of a new policy at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to only buy loans that were appraised under the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. The HVCC was the outgrowth of a lawsuit filed by New York Sate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against Washington Mutual and was designed to “improve the reliability of home appraisals,” according to FHFA, Fannie and Freddie’s regulator.

But don’t talk to an appraiser or a mortgage broker about it, or you’ll get an earful. Most of them claim it was crammed down the collective throat of Fannie and Freddie by the very powerful Mr. Cuomo, and that it puts good solid appraisers out of business, complicates the loan process for mortgage brokers, and inevitably hurts consumers.

“One of the biggest stories here is that my appraiser, I've been using for twelve years, he just got his business ripped out from him,” says Craig Strent of Apex Home Loans in Bethesda, MD.

The HVCC requires a firewall between appraisers and those who produce loans, i.e. mortgage lenders and brokers, and that ends up being Appraisal Management Companies, middlemen essentially, that order up independent appraisals. So the appraisal fee, which would have gone wholly to the appraiser, now gets split between the AMC and the appraiser. That’s sending a lot of good appraisers right out of the business.

“Yesterday, Thursday, appraisers may have had 50 or 60 clients that they could deal with, so if they were getting undue pressure from somebody they could just tell that client no, I'm not doing any more work for you,” says Jim Amorin, of the Appraisal Institute. “Today the number of players in the field have been drastically reduced to generally these appraisal management companies, so the pressure that's going to be brought to bear on appraisers we fear is going to be as strong if not stronger than it was before, the whole thing the code of conduct was trying to address.”

Another concern is that the AMC’s may hire appraisers who don’t know the particular neighborhood where the house is, and may use the lowest bidders, again, putting good local appraisers, who know their market best, out of business.

But the biggest issue is something Dana, a mortgage broker, cites in a blast to the RealtyCheck:

Based on Attorney General Cuomo’s website, the appraisal fraud in the mortgage industry was due to the practices used by some of the country’s largest banks pressuring appraisers to artificially inflate the value of homes.

Why is it that some of the largest banks in the country are allowed to have partial ownership in the Appraisal Management Companies ?? Isn’t this once again the fox watching the hen house??

Interestingly, as I wrote earlier, the HVCC arose out of a 2007 lawsuit against First American Corp. and its subsidiary, eAppraiseIT, whose largest client was Washington Mutual. It charged eAppriaseIT with conspiring with WaMu to “inflate real estate appraisals.”

If the whole idea is to get the appraisal system out of the banking/lending system, then why is it that First American Corp., still has joint venture appraisal management companies with: JP Morgan Chase (Quantrix), Citigroup (Finiti), Wells Fargo (Rels), making First American one of the largest Appraisal Management Companies in the nation? Oh, and there’s currently a class action lawsuit against Rels, claiming it rigged the appraisal process for Wells Fargo.

A press release from Attorney General Cuomo’s office, from March of 2008, states: Lenders will be prohibited from using “in-house” staff appraisers to conduct initial appraisals and Lenders will be prohibited from using appraisal management companies that they own or control.

I contacted Fannie Mae, Attorney General Cuomo’s office and the FHFA for comment, but nobody wanted to talk. FHFA Director James Lockhart gave me a statement, which, interestingly, hammers home the need to rid the system of fraudulent appraisals, but never actually, in words, directly supports the HVCC.

Taken from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/30521887/

Posted By:Diana Olick

Hiding Places

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

YOU ARE SHOWING YOURH OUSE IN AMINUTE, THESE QUICK TIPSWILL HELP YOU FIND THE SECRET HIDING PLACES WHERE BUYERS WILL NEVER LOOK!

What do you do when your realtor calls and wants to show your home in say, ½ an hour? Jump for joy first, since someone wants to look at YOUR home, right? Then, panic. As you hang up the phone, you notice that your teenagers have been at it again… your house is CLEAN, it’s just not TIDY. Now, what do you do? Since we all know that the first impression is important, especially if you want to sell your home in the next decade, we have a few tips that will help you quickly hide away “stuff”. But first, you have to know where the buyers are going to look, and ensure that these places are constantly tidy. Places that buyers will look include the oven, any closets, kitchen drawers, laundry room, and the kitchen pantry.

Think about it, these places give them an indication, essentially, of how much storage space there is. Fighting the Money-Hungry Home Selling Shark of Staging ahead of time means preparing for a showing on short notice will be a breeze. If your closets are overflowing, the buyers will think there just isn’t enough room to store their own things, since obviously you don’t have the space. Don’t defeat your efforts by stashing clutter in them at the last minute, no matter how tempting it may be! Enough of that! What you want to know is… at the last minute, where CAN you hide things?

UNDER THE BED.

It’s spacious, easy to get to, and no one in their right mind would get down on their hands and knees to look there during their first visit. In addition, kids are probably used to stashing things there anyway, and can help you

IN THE WASHER AND DRYER.

Who hasn’t seen the commercial where a little kid has stashed a pet in there? We don’t recommend putting your pets in there, but clothes and shoes and stuff can easily fit. Although buyers like to look in the laundry, to see the size and neatness, they won’t be looking to see if you actually have things in there. Our caution is to let everyone in the family know that it’s a hiding place, and to never start the machines without checking the contents first.

IN THE REFRIGERATOR.

This is risky, you know your kids are going to be in and out of the fridge – and how embarrassing would it be to have a shoe fall out? On the other hand, if you’ve just walked in from the grocery, you can certainly stash the entire grocery bag in there, until you’re ready to unpack it and put things away neatly.

BEHIND THE COUCH.

That is, if the couch is against the wall. We all know that things get trapped there anyway, so it could be a quick opportunity to drop a toy or wayward socks for a quick fix.

 

IN THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR.

Your garage or carport needs to be tidy. If it isn’t garbage day, yet you have bags

lying around, drop them in. Skateboards and roller blades are a hazard anyway, so drop them in too. Nobody has a right to check in your vehicle, take advantage of that fact!

Let me leave you with this quick story. My mother-in-law, being a naturally organized person, has clothes closets organized by color and like items, linen closets with towels and sheets stacked by size and color, jars in her kitchen pantry with labels facing the front like a grocery store shelf. This may seem extreme, buy when she showed the house for sale, one buyer actually told her that he’d buy her home for the state of her closets alone! He believed that if she paid that much attention to a closet, that she must have taken that kind of care with the rest of her home. Never underestimate the added value you can give your home by fighting the Home Selling Shark of Staging early on!

 

Open House: 1004 Sherman Avenue, Abington PA 19001

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Join Us For An Open House

1004 Sherman Avenue, Abington PA 19001

Visual Tour: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?T=1783973

This Home's Website: www.1004ShermanAve.com

Here Is A Description Of This Lovely Home:

Fabulous, Spacious Bright/Sunny Custom Built Single, Heart Of Abington; Home Sits On Large Level Lot; Front & Back Yard Boast Gorgeous Views w/Flowering Foliage; Stately Full Brick Front; Foyer w/Ceramic Tile Flr & Double Closet; Liv Rm w/Bay Window w/Great Views; Din Rm w/Access To Back Patio, Great For Entertaining; Updated Eat-In Kitchen w/Oak Cabinets,Ceramic Flrs, Window Overlooking Yard & Newer DW;Large MBR w/2 Closets & Master Bath; Udpated Hall Bath w/C/T Flrs & Bath Walls; Expanded Fam Rm Complete w/Dry Bar, Wood Stove Heats Entire Downstairs, Updated Powder Rm & Large Picture Window; Large Laundry Rm w/Cabinets, Laundry Chute, Cedar Closet & Door to Covered Patio/Yard; Large Partially Finished Bsmt w/Separate Rm Can Be Used As Office; Rear Yard w/Relaxing Large Covered Patio, Great For Entertaining Guests &  Shed For Extra Storage; Well Maintained Home-AC Compressor-3Yrs, Burner-2Yrs, Rugs-2yrs,Replacement Windows;Home Inspected, See Report Online; Wonderful, Move In Condition Home! Don’t Miss Out!

Sellers- Pre Inspect Your Home and Save Thousands

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Pre-paid Home Inspections
Avoid Home Selling Problems with the advance home inspection. Spend $495 up front and then sleep like a baby when the contract is done.

** Diane pre-inspects all of her listings. This helps her sell her listings 4 times faster than the average!

Most sellers make the mistake of not getting a pre-paid home inspection before putting their home on the market. This creates an environment that is ripe for the buyer to buy your home, see what's wrong with it, and then back out. This one mistake fosters a lack of sleep, an enormous amount of stress, and a big waste of marketing time, because after the buyer backs out, you have to put the home back on the market.

A Deal Going Bad After a Home Inspection
Is Like Wasting Two Months Of Your Life...


It doesn't have to be this way. If you get a home inspection done up front, and hand the completed report to the buyer, the buyer will be happy to save the $500 to get their own report done, and everyone will avoid the shock associated with the meticulous details of the report far along into the home-selling process.


About 20% of all homes that are sold hit the snag of "Oh my! Look at this home inspection!" and the buyer wants out. This is very inefficient since you did months of marketing, other prospective buyers and agents saw the home go under agreement, and then 21 days later, it is back on the market.
Having to put your home back on the market will cause you to lose a lot more than $500 when the home does sell.


Pre-paid home inspections are an "expert Real Estate Agent" strategy. Take care of what is necessary beforehand by handling the home inspection early. This will undoubtedly remove any obstacles a buyer might have in going to closing/settlement with you. You will not have to experience the emotional ugliness of thinking your home is sold, beginning your celebration, and then WHAM, getting slapped in the face with the famous phone call from your rookie agent, "the buyer doesn't like the home inspection so they are backing out".


Experts take you out of this stressful situation. They educate you, and counsel you on why this is necessary so that you can have a smooth, stress-free transaction before you move to your new home.


Not using an Expert Real Estate Agent will cause you sleepless nights.

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Photo of Diane Cardano & Associates Real Estate
Diane Cardano & Associates
CARDANO Realtors
1021 Old York Road, Suite 401
Abington PA 19001
Office: 215-576-8666
Fax: 215-576-8677