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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
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Selling Your Place? Tips for Negotiating

October 21, 2013 6:09 pm

In talking with real estate professionals across the country, I noticed that most of them are expressing concerns about dwindling or dismal inventory for sellers to consider.

Most are advising that if potential buyers learns about a property that appeals to them, they should run - not walk - to check it out. Even those who are the first to learn of a new listing should be prepared to negotiate against other aggressive and possibly well-financed contenders.

In the next few segments, we'll take a look at what prospects need to know when they are pursuing, or competing to get into a new home in a tight inventory market. We'll also provide some insight to sellers who want to get their price.

A blog at helpinghomesellers.com, has good advice for sellers who want to respond to low ball offers. The site suggests instead of getting into a debate about money, try sweetening the pot with a variety of counter-offers, including:

  • Paying for some of the buyers’ title insurance, closing costs and/or points.
  • Pay homeowner’s association fees for a year.
  • Look into buying down the buyers’ mortgage rate for the first year.
  • Cover a year's cost for a lawn-maintenance/snow removal service.
  • Pay or provide an allowance toward moving expenses.
  • Provide the buyers with a home warranty.
  • Pay for the lawn and pool services for a year.
  • Offer a golf club membership, pool membership, or cable subscription.
  • Offer an allowance to repaint, new carpeting or for window treatments.

Incentives, especially for first time homebuyers, can often do the trick, the site states.

Investopedia.com says even in declining markets it is extremely important to be cognizant of comparable properties, and to price one's home to entice potential buyers to view it and ultimately bid on it.

That site says sellers should reject the temptation to hold out for top dollar, or to price the home at the upper end of what the market will bear. To get a sense of what similar homes are selling for, Investopedia.com recommends:

  • Attending open houses
  • Perusing the newspaper for local listings
  • Ask a real estate agent to print up comparable listings on the multiple listing service (MLS)
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Word of the Day

October 21, 2013 6:09 pm

Consideration. Something of value, usually money, given to induce another to enter into a contract.

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Q: In Home Improvement, When Should I Tackle the Job Myself or Call in the Pros?

October 21, 2013 6:09 pm

A: A lot will depend on your time, level of expertise or willingness to handle the job, amount of help from friends or relatives, and how much you want, or need, to save by doing the job yourself. You could save up to 20 percent of the project cost through your own hard work.

There are several do-it-yourself books that offer guidance, and some home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, offer classes that can be helpful getting you on the right track.

Be aware, however, that you may end up spending more time, and up to double your estimated budget, if problems arise. Also, you may have difficulty selling your home if the workmanship looks shoddy.

Unless you are very experienced, home improvement experts suggest that you stick to painting, minor landscaping, building interior shelving, and other minor improvements.  

Remember, too, that you may need to deal with local agencies to get permits, inspections, variances, and certificates of occupancy.

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Beyond Granite: New Looks for Countertops

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

For most of the past decade, at least, according to The Marble Institute, more than 75 percent of homeowners remodeling their kitchens have chosen granite for their counter tops.

Given granite’s durability, longevity and good looks, that’s not surprising. But at $60 to $100 per square foot installed, it is expensive - and extraordinarily heavy, often requiring reinforcement of base cabinets.

If you are considering a remodel, the National Kitchen and Bath Association suggests considering one of these non-granite counter top solutions:

Carrara marble – Marble is softer than granite, and more apt to scratch. But it develops a warm and lovely patina over time that appeals to many people.

Wood – Wood counter tops are enjoying a popularity surge because of its warmth, style and durability. Butcher block is the most common type, but slabs can be crafted from a variety of woods. Maintenance requires only a little oil now and then to prevent drying.

Soapstone - A smooth, matte natural stone that comes in a hues ranging from soft grey to charcoal, sopastone is one of the only natural surfaces that is not affected by acids – so spilled coffee or orange juice won’t leave a stain. It is also heat resistant and requires no special cleaners are needed, but mineral oils can be used to enhance the stone’s natural beauty.

Engineered quartz – These engineered countertops are created by mixing 95 percent ground natural quartz with 5 percent polymer resins. The result is a super-hard, low-maintenance, natural looking countertop that’s available in a wide range of colors. It is scratch and heat resistant, though you may not want to set a hot frying pan on it.

Stainless steel – Complementing many of today’s appliances, stainless steel is stain- and heat-resistant but it can be scratched or dented.

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Physician Shares Tips for Surviving “the ‘Easy Life

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

Dr. James L. Hardeman has seen firsthand the consequences of unhealthy habits during his 30 years as a practicing physician, and he says they’re just not worth it.

“There are very clear, biological reasons why we are compelled to eat sugary, fatty foods; but if there was ever a case of ‘too much of a good thing,’ it’s a sedentary lifestyle coupled with delicious, readily available food,” says Dr. Hardeman, author of “Appears Younger than Stated Age,” a pragmatic guide to looking younger.

As we evolved, sugar, salt and fat were rare yet necessary commodities, and that’s why we enjoy them so much, he says. But there are devastating consequences associated with too much rest, sugar and fat – including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea, he says.

“The ‘easy life’ isn’t so easy in the long term,” he says.

Multiple studies indicate the multidimensional nature of healthy habits, including one recently published by the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden. The study tracked significant improvements in men who changed their lifestyle from inactive to active, and the results were impressive.

Waist circumference and blood pressure drastically improved after six months. But the study also showed that health also improved at the microscopic level, such as the functioning of genes and how they express proteins. Other studies indicate that gene improvement can occur after just one workout.

“Our bodies want to be healthy, and it’s just a matter of getting and staying motivated,” says Dr. Hardeman, who offers tips:

• Don’t fall into the “I don’t have time” trap. Time is arguably the most precious commodity any individual has – and that means life span. Don’t have time to chop veggies before dinner or work out after work? Then make time! You will almost certainly live longer by following a healthier lifestyle. Need more incentive than a vague sense of health? How about avoiding the lifestyle restrictions imposed by diabetes, or the medical interventions necessitated by a heart attack?

• Keep in mind the intake/output principle. Miracle diets don’t exist. While some people can burn calories more easily than others, it ultimately comes down to what you put into your body and what you do with that energy. If you want to lose or maintain weight, think of a 360-calorie muffin as a loan you have to pay back with 35 to 40 minutes worth of jogging, or a 55-minute walk.

• Keep doing fun things! Remember what it was like to be a little kid? Back then, simply running around during a game of tag was a blast! It’s never too late to turn exercise into play. Try snowboarding, dancing at a club, hiking a beautiful landscape or taking a bicycle ride with the family.

• Find the motivator that works for you. Many people find a partner helps them stay motivated to exercise. If you’re not inclined to walk in the morning, but you don’t want to let down your walking partner, then you’re more likely to walk anyway. Same goes for a dog that needs to be walked. However, the most dependable person to keep you motivated is you. If your routine is getting a dull, mix it up with an mp3 player. Whether it’s Metallica, Manilow or Mozart, you can program a personal adrenalin soundtrack to keep yourself fully amped.

Dr. James L. Hardeman has been a physician for 30 years.  

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5 Tips on Getting Control of Your Data

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

The proliferation of information generated by businesses worldwide continues to be the source of some of the biggest organizational challenges, expenditures and risks faced by companies today. The solution many have adopted to overcome this data deluge has been to add increasing amounts of storage resources on an on-going basis.

However, the capital and operational expense, exponential complexity, and management headaches of this approach make it a no-win game. For those looking to gain active control of all aspects of their file data, NTP Software® offers these five tips:

  • Understand what is happening in your environment – Critical insights for more efficient storage use come from learning how your storage is being consumed, where your problem areas are, and what can be done to optimize storage usage. Examining your organization's use of storage resources through an in-depth file assessment will reveal critical details that will show you how to create a plan for better managing your data.
     
  • Implement automatic, system-enforced policies to ensure each file resides on its appropriate storage tier – Once you understand how your organization is using storage resources, you can categorize your data and ensure that it resides on the appropriate storage tier to reduce costs, address compliance issues, and enable you to properly perform e-discovery. Less-frequently used data will move automatically to a more appropriate storage tier, giving you better control of your file data while optimizing storage resources and reducing long-term costs.
     
  • Control how much primary disk space users consume and what they place on the network – Primary disk is your network's most valuable and probably most expensive resource. Industry analysts tell us that as much as 40 percent of it is routinely wasted. By establishing appropriate usage policies, you can control how expensive space is used and what can be put there to preserve system performance and availability across the board. Implementing quotas, blocking the storage of unwanted files and providing tools to users that help them understand and clean up unneeded information is a cost-effective and easy way to control file data costs across the entire enterprise.
     
  • Ensure secure access to vital files regardless of where they reside – Once you have aligned your storage resources and policies as to what users can and cannot store on the network, your employees need to be able to securely access their existing files regardless of where they reside. Implement technology that helps you connect and control how and when users access data on the most common storage hosts, cloud or object stores as allowed by their current permissions. This gives you more value from your file data while enabling the reduced storage costs of a tiered architecture.
     
  • Protect data from unauthorized use or access – In the increasingly mobile workplace, providing access to an organization's file data from any Internet-connected device or cell phone provides worker flexibility but also opens up the possibility that sensitive information is out of your control. Rather than turning to an external cloud file system or consumer-oriented "sync and share" product, control corporate data with an end-to-end enterprise solution that provides users with the ability to create and interact safely with your organization's file data without violating federal data regulations or having it reside on their own device. This ensures that any intellectual property generated by employees is fully secured and treated the same whether it originates in the office, at home or on the road.

    "Many organizations are so overwhelmed by the amount of file data they need to manage that they haven't been able to actually do anything with that data to benefit the company or their users," says Bruce Backa, CEO of NTP Software. "By developing a plan and utilizing available tools that help them control, manage and protect their business-critical information, these organizations can effectively change storage from a liability into the asset that it needs to be. Implementing the above five tips will ensure that organizations are well on their way to reducing cost and gaining control of their file data today, and well into the future."

Source: NTP Software

 

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Word of the Day

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

Inspection. The act of physically examining and testing a piece of property to ascertain certain information.

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Q: What If My Contracting Job Is Botched?

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

A: If you are displeased with the results for obvious reasons, keep after the contractor to make the needed repairs.  When that fails, contact your local consumer protection agency.  Make sure you have a copy of the contract, receipts showing payments, and photographs of the work.

Although it has no legal authority, you also may want to contact the Better Business Bureau, as well as your state’s Contractor License Board.  And you can take the contractor to Small Claims Court to recover amounts usually under $2,000.

 

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Tips to Protect Your Sight during Home Eye Safety Month

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

Every year during October, Home Eye Safety Month, it’s helpful to review a few reminders about protecting and preserving your sight, and the sight of your loved ones, especially around the house where so many eye injuries occur.

According to Prevent Blindness America ’s 2013 Cost of Vision report, more than $1 billion is spent annually in the U.S. eye injury related costs, most of which injuries are preventable by wearing proper eye protection in and around the home.

A 2011 report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year with 50,000 of those leading to permanent or partial vision loss.

To prevent such injuries, PBA is urging the public to wear ANSI approved protective eyewear, which can be identified with a “Z-87” logo stamp, during household activities such as lawn mowing, cleaning with chemicals or painting.

Prescription glasses-wearers should wear safety glasses or goggles that fit over regular glasses, as regular eyeglasses do not always provide enough protection and may even cause further injury upon impact, the organization said.

When it comes to the little ones, PBA reminds you that there are many common objects in the home that can cause serious eye injuries to children. Teaching kids about eye safety is one way, and using eye protection for risky tasks is another.

Take a good look at these PBA home safety tips to help keep everyone safe in the:

Bathroom and Kitchen

  • Teach children not to run around with forks, knives, combs or toothbrushes.
  • Keep detergents, cleaning supplies, nail polish remover, mouthwash and makeup in locked cabinets or out of reach.
  • Set a good example by wearing eye protection when using ammonia-based cleaning supplies.

Bedroom

  • Keep clothes hangers in the closet.
  • Don’t allow children to play with small, pointed or sharp toys or objects in bed.
  • Don’t allow young children to use combs, brushes or hairspray unless you watch or help them.

Play Area

  • Teach children to put toys away.
  • Keep toys for older kids away from younger kids.
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Turn a New Leaf with a Fall Family Road Trip

October 18, 2013 7:54 pm

(BPT) - With the cooler temperatures of autumn flowing in, many Americans will be hitting the road to discover the natural beauty that the season brings. Whether they crave adventure, want to see the fall foliage or are just getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, families need to be prepared to ensure they are getting the most out of this travel season.

"When it comes to fall travel, there is no experience quite like the autumn day drive - it's your last taste of crisp air and warm colors before the blanket of winter hibernation sets in," says Editor in Chief of "Road & Travel Magazine," Courtney Caldwell. "The keys to a successful road trip lay within the amount of preparation you do for your family and vehicle before you put either into motion."

Nothing puts a damper on a weekend getaway like car issues that could have easily been prevented by simple maintenance.

The American Petroleum Institute's (API) Motor Oil Matters (MOM) program has been established to provide information to consumers on the importance of using high quality motor oils, and verifying the oils are properly identified on invoices and receipts. Oil-change locations and motor oil distributors that share MOM's commitment - and submit to independent, third-party auditing - have the opportunity to be recognized by MOM through the Motor Oil Matters distributor and installer licensing programs.

MOM and Caldwell recommend fall travelers arm themselves with a simple plan of action and preparation to help get to their destination:

Don't fall behind on your vehicle maintenance

Change that oil: Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. One of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your vehicle is maintained is to change your motor oil with an API-licensed motor oil that meets your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true, and make sure your value-priced oil change includes high quality motor oil. MOM has put together a checklist for consumers, to ensure they are confident when going into a shop. To download this checklist, please visit www.motoroilmatters.org.

Breathe free: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle's life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months.

Check your tires: Pay attention to your tire pressure and tread depth, as they are essential for increased automotive safety and optimum driving performance. The lower the tread depth is on your tires, the less traction you will have on wet and dry roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop.

Enjoy more than the season

Keeping everyone happy: Write out a packing list for each family member. Store these lists on your computer so you can adjust them for different seasons and trips. Kids can be easily entertained during long car rides in the backseat with trivia, coloring books, games, books, assorted toys and stuffed animals.

Stop and pop: Bathroom breaks are always a good thing. They force you to get out of the car and talk with locals. A 10-minute break every two hours also increases alertness and adds to the overall sight-seeing experience.

Expect the unexpected: Always have a car-safety kit packed for you and your family. It should contain: an auto escape tool, blankets, cell phone charger, cleaning items, flashlight, jumper cables, matches, pencil and notepad, warning lights or road flares, bottled water, non-perishable items and drinks, extra (hidden) cash, and a well-equipped first aid kit.

Keep it clean: Save and bring a handful of plastic grocery bags in the car to use for trash, damp clothes, or a "sick" bag for any car-sick passengers.

Source: www.roadandtravel.com.

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