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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

Word of the Day

September 25, 2013 4:03 pm

Binder. Short purchase contract used in some areas to secure a real estate transaction until a more formal contract can be signed at a later date; usually accompanied by an earnest money deposit.

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Q: What if I am not happy with the listing agent and want to terminate the contract?

September 25, 2013 4:03 pm

A: Experts say unhappiness is not a legal reason to terminate a valid home sale-listing contract. Legally, to cancel a listing, you must be able to prove the agent's lack of "due diligence."  This means the agent isn't taking the normal steps to properly market your home, such as putting your listing into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), advertising on the Internet and in local newspapers, and posting a for-sale sign on the property.

If your home is overpriced, perhaps you need to consider reducing the price to spark buyer interest.   Otherwise, you may need to meet with the listing agent and his or her supervising broker to discuss the problem.  If the agent is doing an awful job, you might suggest the listing be transferred to a more effective agent within the same brokerage firm. Remember, limit the listing contract to 90 days, in case you become unhappy and would like to get another agent after the contract expires.

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Should You Buy the Car at the End of Its Lease?

September 24, 2013 6:00 pm

Most people nearing the end of a car lease term are confronted with the same question: "Should I buy the car or move on to a new one?" Edmunds.com, a resource for car shopping and automotive information, says the biggest step toward answering that question comes down to two important numbers: the car's buyout price – called the residual value – and its current market value.

"The residual is the pre-determined estimate of the car's value – and the guaranteed buyout price – at the end of the lease term," says Edmunds.com Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed.

Other factors to consider when deciding whether to buy or return a leased vehicle:

  • Many lease agreements include a "purchase option" fee, which is a fee of up to a couple of hundred dollars that must be paid on top of the residual price. Factor this into the expense of buying it.
  • If you're unhappy with your residual value – especially if it's higher than the market value – there may be some leeway to negotiate it down. Check with the lease holder – either the bank or a "captive finance company" – for its flexibility.
  • Procrastination may be an option. If you're not ready to buy or return the car at the end of the lease term, you can continue to lease on a month-to-month basis at the same price.

Source: www.edmunds.com.  

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Your Student's First Report Card of the Year

September 24, 2013 6:00 pm

The school year is in full swing now and your child will soon bring home his or her first report card of the school year. Use this as an opportunity to open the lines of communication with your child and his or her teacher and make positive strides forward for the rest of the year.

"Many students and their parents dread report cards, but we encourage parents to use these tools to help their children," says Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. When evaluating report cards, Huntington suggests that parents keep several things in mind:

  • Getting angry is unproductive. If your child's report card is disappointing, it may be difficult to keep your emotions in check. However, remember that if you are upset, your child is probably even more so. Yelling and scolding will not help and will only add more stress to the situation. Take the time you need to privately deal with your own feelings before you approach your child to talk.
  • Communication is critical. If the grades and remarks on the report card are a total surprise to you, perhaps it is time to improve your communication both with your child and his or her teacher. First, have an open, straightforward and non-judgmental conversation with your child about school. What does your child like about school?
  • What subjects are difficult? Is there anything outside the classroom he or she is struggling with? Once you've talked with your child, arrange a meeting with the teacher. Identify the areas of the report card that concern you most and talk about what the teacher sees in the classroom. Ask for his or her advice on what steps to take next to make improvements and how you can best support your child at home. As you go forward, be sure to keep up good communication throughout the school year.
  • It's not all bad. A report card full of poor grades may be disheartening, but pay attention to the positive signs that may be less obvious. Take note of improvements from last year and encouraging comments from teachers, for example. If this is difficult, find other ways to boost your child's self-esteem. Is your child creative? Is he or she passionate about helping others, including friends? Does he or she have a positive attitude, despite the struggles with which he or she is dealing?
  • Surprises may be worth investigating further. Don't ignore new developments or signs of problems that you've not seen before, as your child may experience different challenges throughout his or her school career. In the beginning of a school year when students are learning many new skills, it isn't uncommon for problems to arise. A gap in skills, a faster paced class or a new teaching style can cause issues for students. 


Source: www.huntingtonhelps.com.

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Efficient Ways to Light Your Home

September 24, 2013 6:00 pm

When adding energy-efficient upgrades to your home, it's important to ensure even the most fundamental of enhancements—such as lighting—offers the ease of use, reliability and value expected from traditional, incandescent options.

Advancements in bulb technology
Though they have had a presence in homes for the last three decades, the compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulb has greatly improved since its infancy. Some enhancements include reduced price, availability in standard warm tones and "A-line" shaped bulbs that mimic the look and feel of traditional incandescent bulbs.

New technologies include GE's Bright from the Start CFL. This hybrid halogen-CFL light bulb provides instant brightness, and is now available at Target in a 100-watt incandescent replacement -- in addition to other wattages -- for table or floor lamps, as well as globe lights for vanity lighting and floodlights for recessed lighting used in rooms throughout the home.

While new lighting advancements bring a wealth of benefits to many homeowners, there are still some mixed messages about the value of CFL bulbs, as a whole.

Common myths related to CFL bulbs
As the lighting industry shifts to provide more energy-efficient lighting options, more and more homeowners are giving CFLs a try. However, a variety of myths about CFL lighting still exist today, many of which are no longer true, including:

1. CFLs produce an unattractive blue light. Today's CFLs can produce a soft white color similar to incandescent bulbs. Check the packaging for Kelvin numbers within a range of 2,700 to 3,000 for a warmer light appearance.

2. CFLs take a long time to get bright. While many CFLs takes up to a minute to reach full brightness, there are now more advanced options. GE's hybrid-halogen CFL, uses a Brightness Booster, or a halogen capsule, for instant brightness, eliminating to wait for bright light.

3. CFLs are only available in corkscrew shapes. Many options are now available that mirror the traditional shape of incandescent bulbs for a variety of applications. One option is a 100-watt replacement bulb for table or floor lamps, as well as globe lights commonly used for bathroom vanity lighting and recessed lighting in kitchen, living and dining rooms.

Source: www.gelighting.com.

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Word of the Day

September 24, 2013 6:00 pm

Redlining. Practice of refusing to make loans in certain neighborhoods. Also applies to insurance companies that refuse to offer policies in certain neighborhoods.

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Q: What's the Best Way to Negotiate Price?

September 24, 2013 6:00 pm

A: Be patient, know your home’s worth, adopt a positive attitude, and do not let emotions – anger, pride, greed, or prejudice – get in the way of negotiating the best deal.

Your home obviously means a lot to you, but you have already made the decision to move on, so begin to think of your home as “the house” or “the condo,” instead of “my home.”  

When reasonable offers come along, take them seriously.  You can always counter any offer made by the buyer that comes near your asking price.  Do not spoil a good deal over a few hundred dollars.

 

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Tips to Tackle a Wallpaper Installation Project

September 23, 2013 5:54 pm

Let's getting into a few important installation tips for homeowners ready to "hit the wall" with a DIY wallpaper project this fall.

The folks at Seabrook Wallpaper publish a very easy-to-follow, but lengthy installation guide at their website, and another great resource - wallpaperdirect.com - provides video and illustrations can be found here.

If you really want to get creative with wallpaper, you can check out these cool ideas from a recent item from Home-Dzine:

Wallpaper staircase - If you are looking for ways to add interest to a plain staircase, here's an easy way to customize a staircase and make it a feature in the home.

Cover the vertical board of each stair with wallpaper. Follow the instructions on the wallpaper paste package to ensure the paper is well stuck down.

Wallpaper tabletop - It's so easy to dress up a table top, sideboard, coffee table or cabinet with pieces of wallpaper. Using wallpaper is an affordable way to add design that can be changed to suit the occasion.  Simply cut the paper to size and lay it across the top of the table. If you plan to change it regularly, do not stick it down. Place a sheet of glass over the top in order to protect the paper and table.

Wallpaper a closet or cupboard - What about using colorful wallpaper to add interest to a closet or built-in wardrobe, or even a bathroom cabinet.

Just attach wallpaper cut to the correct size to the back of the cabinet. Use bold, contrasting paper to make the cabinet or cupboard stand out in the room.

Wallpaper bookcase - Create an instant feature by adding wallpaper to the back of a bookcase or wall cabinet. Choose a pattern and color that blends well with decor in the room but allows the bookcase to stand out and shine.

With all the attention being paid to hot new trends in wallpapering, maybe it's time to plan a DIY project to convert a wall, a room, or an entire interior this fall or winter.

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8 Quick Fixes for a Tired Bathroom

September 23, 2013 5:54 pm

Remodeling a home can be expensive and exhausting. But you can breathe new life into tired rooms with just a small budget, a little sweat equity, and a healthy imagination.

California decorating consultant Gina Fulton suggests eight quick fixes to freshen the look and increase the functionality of an old, drab bathroom:

New paint – Choose a color that brightens the space and shines with personality. Paint one wall in a bold shade. Or wallpaper one – or all four walls – in a whimsical or elegant design that says something about you.

Vanity – Choose a new one if you can afford it – or paint the existing vanity in a bold or pastel color that offsets or complements the color of the walls.

Drawer pulls and towel racks – The bathroom is a small space, so you may want to splurge on unique hardware that adds a touch of class.

Sinks or faucets – If it’s been a while since you’ve perused the hardware aisle, you may be amazed at the wide variety of affordable sinks and faucets. Consider an art-glass basin or a high-arcing faucet that adds fresh perspective to the bath.

Lighting and mirrors – Replace a small mirror with a larger one. Surround it with dressing-room lights. Or frame it to match or contrast the walls.

Flooring – Install inexpensive tile, hardwood or bamboo flooring that updates and complements your new design.

Artwork – Choose a theme – perhaps impressionist prints, French boudoir prints, or even a series of framed family vacation photos. Keep visual interest in mind, but be sure to use surfaces that won’t suffer from steamy air.

New towels and shower curtain – Whip up a sink skirt for a stand-alone sink. Embellished towels and coordinating shower curtain can pull your new design scheme together and enhance the updated look.

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Three Easy Tips to Create a More Natural Bedroom

September 23, 2013 5:54 pm

BPT—The formerly "fringe" back-to-nature movement has become mainstream in America and nowhere is the desire for a more natural approach to living more prevalent than in our homes. From organically grown fruits and vegetables to VOC-free paint choices, the trend is toward fewer additives, synthetics and chemicals.

But for all the farmers market-purchased food in the kitchen and goat milk soaps in the bathroom, one room that has been neglected in the quest for a more natural home is the bedroom. However, it doesn't take very much to make the bedroom more natural or "green." Here are three easy and effective tips:

Choose natural bedding materials

Down and feathers come from nature, are biodegradable and renewable; consequently they have the lowest carbon footprint of any bedding fill material. Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults use down and feather bedding precisely because it is eco-friendly, according to a recently completed Harris Survey commissioned by the American Down and Feather Council (ADFC).

Being a natural insulator, down helps regulate body heat for an optimal sleeping experience, which allows homeowners to turn down the thermostat at night and save on heating costs. The survey found that 55 percent of U.S. adults who use down and feather bedding have chosen it precisely for its natural warmth.

Add fresh plants and flowers to your decor

Live plants act as natural air filters and some plants - spider plants, Boston ferns, rubber plants and palm trees - are particularly effective absorbers of chemical pollutants emitted from carpets, furniture and electronic equipment. Adding fresh flowers and plants to your bedroom helps with the natural cycle of carbon dioxide and oxygen, improving the overall air quality in your bedroom.

Take advantage of nature's best heater: the sun

In the cold winter months, open blinds, draperies, and shutters during the day to let solar energy warm and brighten your room naturally. In the hot summer months, be sure to do the opposite, and close your window coverings to prevent your bedroom from overheating and causing air conditioning units or fans to work harder, thus using more energy.

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