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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Telltale Signs You're Ready to Move

February 12, 2015 1:51 am

Moving to a new home can be life-changing. The reasons for a move vary: you may have a growing family, you might be empty-nesting, or you may just need of a change of pace. But how do you know you’re really ready to move? Watch for these classic signs:

You’ve thought through the details. You’ve worked out the logistics – where you want to live, when you want to move, what kind of home you want – and feel confident about your decision.

Your family situation is changing. Shifting family dynamics may mean it’s time to either move-up or downsize. If your household spatial needs are changing, re-evaluate your current residence to determine whether it’s time for a new chapter.

You did your homework. Investing in a new home is not to be taken lightly. You’ve taken steps to align your finances with your goals – you’ve saved enough for a down payment, crunched numbers, kept tabs on interest rates and corrected any errors on your credit report.

You’re ready to make a dream come true. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to own a home in the suburbs. Or a waterfront property. Or a horse ranch. If you’re ready to transition to your ideal home, it may be time for a move.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Educating Children about Money Management

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

Discussing finances as adults can be uncomfortable, but talking to your children about money, budgeting and saving can be much more challenging. “School doesn’t teach responsible money habits to children,” says financial expert Caren Hendrie, “so it’s up to parents and families to change the money attitude. There needs to be a shift in the discussion topics for kids at the dinner table to cover themes about money, financial strategies and good spending habits.”

Hendrie recommends teaching financial responsibility to young ones by letting them make their own money decisions and consider consequences for those choices. When they’re older or start earning money, teach them to invest in their savings.

Other ways to educate children include:
  • Showing them how to calculate change by playing counting games. This skill will not only build their confidence when dealing with money, but also save them from being ripped off in the future.
  • Curbing their desires for instant gratification and retail therapy by making a savings plan. Help them recognize that earning money is much easier than saving it.
  • Explaining household expenses and budgeting when they want something unaffordable. If a child wants something priced out of your comfort level, offer a cheaper alternative or give them the option to make up the difference.
Source: Hendrie Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Limit Exposure to PCB-Containing Caulk

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

Caulk can be found in virtually every home. The flexible material seals gaps and joints to make them water and airtight. Some older caulks used in homes may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), an additive that resists water and chemicals and can detrimental to health. This variation of caulking was primarily used in homes built between 1950 and 1980.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing for PCBs in peeling, cracking or deteriorating caulk in older structures. Exposure to PCBS can happen through direct contact with PCB-containing caulk and surrounding materials, as well as by breathing in contaminated air dust.

PCBs were also used in other building materials such as paints, mastics, sealants, adhesives, specialty coatings and fluorescent light ballasts. They can persist in old materials and contaminate surfaces, dust, soils and indoor air.

Source: EMSL

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Add Square Footage with a Finished Basement

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

(BPT) - Making the most of your basement doesn't have to mean costly contractors and expensive remodeling scenarios. Several easy DIY projects (with the aid of the right tools) can help you gain precious square footage. Ready to get started? Give these projects a try:

Build walls.
Use 2-by-4s to mark where the walls will stand and place studs 16 inches apart. Then nail the panels to the wall where the edges meet the studs and cover the seams with drywall tape. Once the walls are up, mud the seams and areas where nail pops appear. A drywall saw or power saw will help you shape your drywall perfectly, but if you don't own one, simply rent it. Don't forget to add drywall stands to your rental list.

Freshen up your floor.
If your basement is completely unfinished, you probably have cold, concrete floors. How you improve them is up to you, but if you want a polished, marbled look, rent concrete floor finishing equipment. If you’d rather have the appearance of hardwood, laminate flooring panels are inexpensive and easy to install. If you want the feel of carpet beneath your feet, don't forget to add the pad first.

Eliminate odors.
Dehumidifiers can help eliminate musty or stale odors in your basement. You can purchase one at your local home goods store and when you get it home, try to place it near the washtub sink if your basement has one. This will allow you to drain right into the sink and save you from having to empty the dehumidifier regularly.

Install a sump pump.

Don’t let water damage ruin all your hard work. A sump pump can protect against flooding issues. Most new homes have a location marked for a sump pump; it will look like a small well. Follow the water pipes in your home and you can find it. Once you do, purchase a sump pump from your local hardware store and install.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Homeowners Favor Contemporary, Shaker-Style Kitchens

February 10, 2015 1:48 am

According to the 2015 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), contemporary is the watchword for kitchen design. More than half of designers expect to do more contemporary kitchens this year, running a close second behind transitional, or shaker-style, kitchens (40 percent) in terms of popularity.

Several designers also noted the rise in industrial chic, while others cited momentum for mid-century modern designs.

Traditional design ended 2014 as the fourth most popular kitchen style, although a quarter of designers will do fewer traditional kitchens in 2015. While decreasing in popularity, it remains a dominant kitchen style, with 63 percent of designers reporting that they did at least one traditional kitchen in 2014.

White is the most common color scheme for kitchens, followed by gray. About a third of respondents did black or blue kitchens in 2014, with about 20 percent expecting to do more kitchens in those colors. Almost 40 percent did kitchens in green tones in 2014.

Clearly passé are country/rustic, Tuscan and Provincial looks with distressed finishes, as well as color schemes in reds, bronzes, and terra cottas.

Solutions to make life easier in the kitchen are also slated for 2015. Pullouts and rollouts for kitchen cabinets were specified by more than 90 percent of NKBA respondents in 2014. Several designers report that they install multiples of appliances—most notably two dishwashers—in the same kitchen. About two-thirds of kitchens now have desks or home office areas, as well as flat-screen televisions and docking/charging stations.

Half of all NKBA designers specified an outdoor kitchen in 2014, up seven percentage points from 2013, a statistically significant increase.

Source: NKBA

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Confused about Interest Rates? You're Not Alone

February 10, 2015 1:48 am

Mortgage holders: Do you know your interest rate? According to a recent Bankrate.com report, just over a third of mortgage borrowers (35 percent) aren’t completely sure of the interest rate they’re paying. One in seven mortgage holders reported being “not too confident,” “not all confident” or simply have no idea what their interest rates are.

“Your mortgage is one of the most important numbers in your financial life, and there’s a good chance that one of your neighbors has no idea regarding how much he or she is paying,” says Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst at Bankrate.com. “Given how far mortgage rates have fallen, these people could be missing substantial opportunities to save money by refinancing.”

Mortgage rates are well below historical norms. The average fixed-rate 30-year mortgage is now 3.80%. It was well above six percent as recently as 2008, and in 2000, it was close to eight percent. Refinancing a $200,000 loan from 6% to 3.80% would save $267 per month; refinancing from 8% to 3.80% would save $536 per month.

Analysts expect mortgage rates to rise in the coming months.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Residents Facing Earthquake Risk Should Bolster Insurance

February 10, 2015 1:48 am

Earthquake insurance provides protection from the shaking and cracking that can destroy homes and personal possessions. Earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies, but coverage is usually available in the form of a supplemental policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is generally provided by standard homeowners and renters insurance policies.

Earthquake insurance carries a deductible, generally as a percentage rather than a dollar amount. Deductibles can range anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of the replacement value of the structure. This means that if it costs $100,000 to rebuild a home and there was a 2 percent deductible, the owner would be responsible for the first $2,000 dollars. Insurers in states with a higher risk of earthquakes often set minimum deductibles at around 10 percent. In most cases, consumers can get even higher deductibles to save money on earthquake premiums.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Be Wary of Phantom Debt Scams

February 9, 2015 1:48 am

A recent National Consumers League (NCL) analysis of more than 10,000 consumer complaints submitted in 2014 underscores a very real issue: “refund and recovery,” or phantom debt scams.

The predominant version of the “refund and recovery” scam involves a fraudster contacting a consumer claiming to be collecting unpaid debts. If the consumer questioned the debt, the scammer frequently threatened them with jail time, legal action or other consequences. Fake check scams, Internet merchandise scams and bogus prizes/sweepstakes scams are also common.

“Fraud remains one of the most pernicious threats facing consumers today,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are particularly concerned about scammers increasingly relying on the ‘old-fashioned’ telephone as a way to reach millions of potentially vulnerable consumers.”

The telephone was reported by nearly 43 percent of complainants as the way that they were first contacted by a scammer, ahead of the Web (almost 31 percent), email (almost 16 percent) and postal mail (almost 7 percent).

“Credit card transactions are a safer way for consumers to pay for products since they can dispute fraudulent charges with their credit card company,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “Unfortunately, when a fraud victim sends money via wire transfer or prepaid debit card, the chances of getting their money back are much lower.”

Source: NCL

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Take the Stress Out of Renovating

February 9, 2015 1:48 am

(BPT) - If you're ready to hire someone for your first-ever home renovation, you're likely focused more on the result of the project, not the process. Seasoned renovators will tell you that even a foolproof renovation plan will require some major lifestyle adjustments. For first-timers, it's important to be prepared - financially, logistically and mentally - for the project. Keep in mind:

Prior planning prevents poor performance. Some things in life can be over-planned, but renovation isn't one of them. Don't skimp on the planning process. You need to use patience and care when choosing a project that will increase your home's value and your enjoyment of the space. You'll also need to decide how you will finance the project, select a contractor and deal with potentially major issues.

Homeowners also need to define what they want to accomplish. For example, do you just need an updated look or do you want an entirely new living space? You can glean ideas from publications, websites and other resources and also seek out professional assistance, such as from an interior decorator.

Your contractor is going to become your new roommate. Most homeowners continue to live in their homes during a major renovation, so you'll be spending a lot of time with your contractor. Hire a professional contractor who is licensed, insured and certified. Look for a firm that is conscientious about everything it does, has an experienced team and is used to handling large projects.

To find an ideal firm, get referrals from friends and from the firm itself and look at company websites. During the interview process, talk to prospective firms about timeline, logistics, realistic expectations and budget management. It's important to understand the scope of the project and how your contractor proposes to handle any challenges that arise.

There will be dust. Dust will happen - guaranteed. Every phase of remodeling creates dust, and it's the top threat to livability during a renovation. In addition to the nuisance of dust settling throughout your home, it can cause difficulty for people with existing respiratory problems and damage your belongings. Before you sign a contract, make sure the remodeler has a dust control plan for your project.

The little things that will get to you. While your contractor is tearing down walls and re-creating your living space, life will still go on in your home. Piano lessons will continue, deliveries will take place, bedtimes will remain and meal prep will go on. Meanwhile, your contractor's crews need somewhere to park their work vehicles and might not remember to put every tool away (and out of reach of your kids) at the end of a day. It's important to communicate with your contractor about these logistics and how you can work together to make the renovation go smoothly with as little disruption to your lives as possible.

It will be worth it. A major kitchen remodeling project recoups more than 74 percent of its cost at the time of resale, and adding an attic bedroom returns more than 84 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. In addition to financial considerations, completed renovations can improve curb appeal and livability.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Performing a Paint Color Consultation

February 9, 2015 1:48 am

The color of your walls not only impacts how you feel, but sets the overall tone of a room, according to experts at HouseBeautiful Magazine. Selecting the right paint color will help convey the mood you want in your home. So how do you choose which color is right for you? Perform your own color consultation by asking yourself these questions.

What’s my style?
The most common dilemma when deciding on a paint color is whether you want to stick to a classic look or make a bold statement. Think about how certain colors make you feel – neutrals lend themselves to a more traditional aesthetic and are usually the most calming. More saturated colors, on the other hand, tend to energize and inspire. Take time to explore your style before committing to a paint color.

Should I use more than one color?
Overall, the color scheme of your house should be limited. One or two colors throughout is perfectly acceptable; however, it is important to break up the general theme with a few accent walls in complimentary colors.

How will lighting affect my choice?
Once you’ve decided on a color, pick the right shade in that family by choosing three similar hues – one that’s exactly what you had in mind for the room, one that’s a shade lighter, and one that’s a shade darker. Test out these samples next to a window and in a darker corner, and at different times of the day and night, to determine how lighting will affect its presentation.

Published with permission from RISMedia.





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