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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Three Simple Tips to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

BPT—As temperatures dip, it's important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. Not only can the elements be hard on your vehicle, but the chemicals that are used to fight the elements such as road salt and chemical compounds to melt ice are as well. Being prepared and knowing how to take care of your vehicle can help you avoid costly repairs and will extend the life of your vehicle.

Step 1: Check your windshield wipers

You never think about the condition of your windshield wipers until they don't work properly in a rain or a heavy snow fall. Rule of thumb is that you should change your wiper blades every six months. This will ensure you have the necessary vision on the road to drive safely even in less than ideal weather conditions.

Step 2: Protect your engine

You may not think about what's under the hood of your vehicle during the winter months, but protecting your engine and the components that make your vehicle run is important. Premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple recommends using Purple Ice, a year-round radiator conditioner that will provide corrosion protection and is fully compatible with antifreeze. A single bottle will treat a radiator for 30,000 miles when mixed with antifreeze to maintain maximum performance.

Step 3: Emergency road kit

Even if you take the best care of your vehicle, in some instances you cannot avoid a breakdown or incident when you're on the road. Take the time to pack an emergency kit that you can keep stored in your truck. It could be a lifesaver if you have to put it in use. Include a: flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, first aid kit, ice scraper/snow brush, jumper cables, road flares, white towel or window sign to indicate you need help.

Before the colder weather sets in, getting your vehicle ready in advance will ensure you're prepared for the winter driving months.



Still Time for Overlooked Tax Savings

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

With only two months remaining in the 2013 tax year, renowned tax attorney Bruce Givner, who handles many celebrity and high-net-worth clients, offers several commonly overlooked opportunities for year-end income tax savings.

1. Make a charitable contribution deduction, even if you don't know who the beneficiary will be. There are a number of ways to make a charitable contribution deduction, such as a charitable lead annuity trust, a charitable limited liability company, and a charitable reminder trust. But even if you haven't determined who the ultimate beneficiary will be, you can still open a donor advised fund at a community foundation and receive the deduction this year while you decide on the beneficiary next year.

2. Invest in oil and gas drilling partnerships. These types of partnerships offer 90-100 percent deductions for the investment, and may provide distributions of 5-9 percent in gas, or 15 percent in oil, over decades. They can also be legacy assets for heirs. Gas prices may be at historic lows right now, but as the U.S. opens up its export market to a hungry global marketplace, prices are likely to increase over the coming decades.

3. Form a Section 831(b) captive insurance company. For closely held businesses, this can be the largest deduction available to you as the first $1.2 million of premium can be received tax free by the captive. It's typically owned by you (the operating business owner) or by a trust that benefits your heirs. Currently permissible in 30 states, formation can be complicated and captive managers may charge a hefty fee. Nonetheless, the overall advantages—to asset protection, risk mitigation, and income and estate tax benefits—can be stunning.

4. Make sure you have a defined benefit pension plan. Skewing the benefits to the owner-employee is still the safest and second biggest deduction available to businesses with 30 employees or less. Enlisting a skilled tax attorney to work with the actuary can help you achieve a very favorable result.

Bruce Givner has practiced tax law for more than three decades. He specializes in income tax planning, estate tax planning, asset protection, sophisticated retirement planning, tax litigation, charitable giving and more.




Don't Let the Sugar Monsters Catch You This Halloween

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

Halloween is the start of a season of sweet eating. While indulging is important every now and then, it's important to keep your oral health in mind.   As the American Dental Association (ADA) prepares to kick off its 154th Annual Session in New Orleans on Halloween, dentists want to offer some candy-eating tips that will help keep cavity-causing sugar monsters at bay.

"Avoid snacking on candy and drinking sugary beverages throughout the day," advises Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., an ADA pediatric dentist spokesperson who practices in Augusta, Maine. "The plaque on your teeth contains bacteria that feeds on sugar and releases acid that attacks teeth. Continual sipping and snacking subjects your teeth to continuous acid attacks which could lead to the breakdown of tooth enamel that might eventually lead to cavities."

Instead of snacking and sipping all day, Dr. Shenkin recommends eating candy and drinking sugary beverages with meals. Saliva production increases during a meal, rinsing food particles from the mouth and neutralizing plaque acid which helps prevent tooth decay.

Dr. Shenkin said it's not only how often you eat, but it's also what you eat that might spook your teeth.

"Beware of candies like gummies and taffy, which stick to your teeth longer than something like chocolate, which easily washes away with saliva or by rinsing," he says. "Also, remember that hard sugary candies remain in the mouth longer, giving bacteria more time to create acid that weakens tooth enamel."

The ADA offers the following tips to help reduce tooth decay and still enjoy Halloween:

Get those juices flowing: Consider chewing sugarless gum after meals. Certain sugarless gums have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for scientifically proving that chewing the gum for 20 minutes after meals helped prevent tooth decay.

Go with the flow: Drinking optimally fluoridated water has been shown to reduce cavities from 20 to 40 percent.

Take 3: Floss once a day, brush for 2-minutes twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and eat three healthy meals a day.

Check out those vitamins: Eating calcium-rich foods such as cheese, leafy greens and almonds are good for the teeth. Protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs and fish are good sources of phosphorus. Both of these minerals can help rebuild tooth enamel and bone.

Take a trip: Visit your dentist regularly.

Source: American Dental Association



Word of the Day

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

Breach of contract. When one party fails to live up to the terms and conditions of a contract, without a valid, legal excuse.


Q: What Are the Specific Responsibilities of the Contractor vs. the Architect?

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

A: Beyond having the architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities.  The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion.  The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural detail.  Since many jurisdictions require architectural drawings to be reviewed to ensure the plans sufficiently meet local codes, the architect may also be responsible for applying for and securing the permits. Make sure that everyone, you included, understand who is responsible for what before work begins in your home.



Co-Signing a Lease? 5 Legal Considerations

October 29, 2013 6:54 pm

Are you co-signing a lease or rental agreement, or thinking about it? If so, there are many legal considerations that you should think about first.

When you co-sign a lease, you are essentially signing the lease as if it were your own. This means that you are exposing yourself to full liability on the lease. You won't be the back-up person, but the main person.

Co-signing a lease for someone is definitely not a decision to make lightly, even though you won't be a tenant. Here are five legal considerations to keep in mind:

  • Your credit score. Co-signing a lease means that you're agreeing to assume the financial liability of the lease. So for example, if the tenant is unable to pay rent, then that responsibility falls on you. If you can't make those payments, or are facing some kind of financial crunch, you could default. This, in turn, could adversely affect your credit score.
  • Damages. As a co-signer, you could also possibly be held liable for paying for any damages to the apartment. Depending on what the lease specifically says about security deposits and damages, you should be prepared to cover a whole host of payments if the tenant can't.
  • Subleases. Depending on what the lease says about subleases, you as a co-signer may also be responsible for any sublessees who move in. That means when a tenant assigns or sublets their rented unit to someone else, you could still be liable if the sublessee fails to make payments.
  • Other roommates. If the person you're co-signing with has a roommate or multiple roommates, you may want to reconsider signing the lease, or at least taking a good look at the terms in the lease. While you may trust the family member or friend who's asked you to co-sign, you just never know how other roommates will act and whether or not they'll be a huge liability.
  • Legal claims. Lastly, don't forget: When you co-sign a lease, you're assuming not only financial responsibility, but opening yourself up to legal liability as well. If a landlord wants to, he can exercise the option of going after a co-signer, as opposed to the actual tenant, regardless of whether or not all other alternatives have been exercised first.
  • To learn more and better prepare yourself for the process of co-signing, you may want to consult an experienced landlord-tenant attorney near you.

    Source: FindLaw

'Show Me State' REALTORS® Address Answers to Common Problems

October 29, 2013 6:54 pm

My mission is to help property owners, potential buyers and renters with common issues and concerns they might face by connecting them to resources. A recent visit to the website of Missouri-based Janet Mcafee Inc. proved that her 'Show Me State' REALTORS® are savvy problem solvers, handling issues that could face sellers or buyers anywhere.

REALTOR® Megan Holekamp blogged about disputes that arise between buyers and sellers regarding which fixtures the sellers can remove. She notes that the sale contract lists the items and fixtures that are automatically included with the sale.

She advises sellers to review this list prior to bringing the house on the market and remove items they would like to move to their new home. While excluding them from contract is an option, a safer decision is to replace the items with similar fixtures before listing, and photographing the interiors before and after.

REALTOR® Linda Benoist had a bachelor client living in a house that needed some updating and TLC. But he wanted to sell his home "as-is," so the home languished on the market for seven months without selling.

He subsequently took the house off the market and commissioned interior and exterior painting, installed new doors, removed carpeting, refinished hardwood floors and added accent millwork, updated the kitchen and bathrooms and hired a trusted stager to give the home a young fresh décor.

The home returned to the market and sold the first week.

To save money, REALTOR® Nancy Gulick's clients thought they would use an existing survey for the property they were purchasing. Unfortunately, not only would the title company not insure against claims arising from boundary disputes or easements, the existing survey showed an easement was located right under the center of the home.

So she worked with the closing department and title company to verify all easements of record. Then she advised the buyer to call upon a trusted surveyor to perform a boundary survey to locate all property improvements and easements of record.  

A new survey revealed the easement in question was located across the back of the property and not where the previous survey had located the easement.  With the new survey, the title company was happy to issue the buyer’s title insurance.


Thrift Store Bargains too Good to Pass Up

October 29, 2013 6:54 pm

Thrift stores are not just for the economically disadvantaged. According to Jeff Yeager, career bargain-hunter and author of, “The Cheapskate Next Door,” they are for anyone who wants to save money on a variety of goods and help out a non-profit charity besides.

But there are helpful hints for finding the best thrift store deals. Yeager points out a few:

Shop in the best areas – It stands to reason that thrift stores located closest to affluent residential areas will receive higher quality donations for re-sale.

Shop at the right time – Since many people gather up their donations and deliver them on weekends, selections may be better earlier in the week. But if you find a shop you like, ask a clerk when most ‘new’ merchandise hits the sales floor.

Shop off-season – Cold weather gear will be cheapest in summer, and you may find a great bikini – or even a bargain lawn mower! – in February.

Take your time – A lot of designer stuff turns up in thrift stores, though you may have to paw through a lot of merchandise to find it. You can often find clothing with original sales tags still attached or vintage accessories you can’t find anywhere else.

Haggling is in – Don’t be shy about asking for a discount or offering less than what an item is marked. In most thrift stores, prices are negotiable.

Try before you buy – In many thrift stores, all sales are final. Try on that pair of jeans before you buy, even if you think it is your size.

Think creatively – Old jars, tins, and baskets can make a great base for gifts. So can glass or silver-plated trays. Holiday décor can be refurbished as needed, and gently used books, toys, and board games may offer years of extended pleasure.


Word of the Day

October 29, 2013 6:54 pm

Escrow company.  A firm that specializes in handling the closing of a transaction.


Q: Are 40-year Mortgages a Good Idea?

October 29, 2013 6:54 pm

A: The main reason buyers sign on for these type of loans, which add 10 years to the traditional 30-year mortgage, is to take advantage of smaller monthly payments.

According to real estate experts, the shorter-term loan is usually more advantageous for the homebuyer. The drawback becomes apparent simply by calculating the cost of additional interest payments, which can total thousands for the privilege of just saving the difference of a few dollars in monthly mortgage payments.


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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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