Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
October 1, 2013 6:42 pm
Since September was National Home Furnishings Month, I want to take a look at some of the hottest trends in home furnishings for the fall and winter.
Lifestyle blogger Amy Henderson says keeping things eco-friendly is a growing trend as more people look to reduce their carbon footprints. Henderson says look for furniture composed of repurposed materials to limit the amount of waste you’re contributing to the planet.
She notes that the farmhouse look is falling back into style among many homeowners, but combining different decor is still a popular theme among professional interior designers. Whether you want to go more rustic in your contemporary kitchen or insert vintage decor into your modern bedroom, Henderson says take this concept to heart as you work.
Then there is the color - she says the right hues can instantly transform your space from looking dated to fresh. That being said, bright and vivid colors are the name of the game.
Specifically, she says, these tones are being seen in furniture – not just wall paint – which gives flair and visual interest to living areas that could use it. Henderson says before you dismiss paint swatches in bright blue or mellow yellow, think about what these hues could do for your home.
When it comes to furnishings, the folks at Stony Creek Furniture say smaller scaled furniture is very hot right now. And while it’s small on size, it’s huge on style and functionality.
They are also loving accent chairs - and advising clients to go a little wild on the pattern – maybe a dramatic black and white graphic. Designer Comer Wear of Century Furniture told Furniture Today magazine earlier this year that today's market offers an accent chair for every setting.
"Chairs are a perfect way to include a fabric that you don't want to show in a big way," he said. "We style and put together our showroom settings so our dealers feel comfortable with mixing and matching, but we also push the envelope at market to show unusual pairings of fabrics and frames."
Office furniture and desks, are also very popular since so many people work at home need a functional and stylish desk. The marketplace has answered with myriad choices in every style imaginable.
October 1, 2013 6:42 pm
With over half of all homeowners planning to make some type of improvement to their home this year, the question is, what exactly are they changing? Homeowners are choosing to wait until the high temperatures break and cooler weather hits to begin outdoor work, and home improvement companies are looking to unload new products to prepare for the new season, allowing homeowners to grab some great deals as autumn begins.
The most common fall home improvement projects include fencing, interior and exterior painting, window work, flooring, and roof repair, all of which are in preparation for the cold winter weather when home improvement projects are not at the top of your priority list. By getting these projects done before winter, you can put your home improvement projects to rest until spring without worrying about leaky roofs, cold air coming through cracks in the windows, and maintaining the value of your home with fencing and a fresh coat of paint.
"The cooler autumn temperatures make for the perfect time to focus more on the home and any remodeling projects," says Jeremy Floyd of Fence Center. "Such projects like adding in bamboo or aluminum fencing, not only increases your family's security, but the value of your home. Now that autumn is officially here, people are likely beginning to get these home improvement projects rolling."
According to Floyd:
- Projects such as flooring, such as wood, can only be done during certain months of the year because certain types of flooring employ adhesives that need temperatures inside the home to be within a certain range, usually between 70 and 80 degrees. Attempting to employ these types of flooring in the winter can make it difficult for the flooring to dry and bond, which will prove problematic down the road.
- Fall offers the perfect time to increase the security of your home, particularly for fencing, as the ground is not too hard to work with.
- Painting provides a pungent scent and sometimes toxic fumes, making fall the perfect time for painting. Without the humidity, paint can dry quickly, keeping the aromas of the paint to a minimum.
October 1, 2013 6:42 pm
If you are pinching pennies, a dollar store can be your best friend. Not everything there is truly a bargain. But consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends 10 dollar store purchases that offer good quality as well as big savings:
- Cleaning supplies – According the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, most dollar store cleaning supplies work just as well as name brands at a savings of 30% or more – and that includes sponges, mops, and scrub brushes.
- Food containers – Plastic food containers in all shapes and sizes cost a fraction of the name brands at retail stores and will keep your food fresh just as well.
- Gift wrap and bags – They will probably be of lesser quality than what you find at the party store. But they are just as attractive, and since most bags and wraps are discarded anyway, why pay so much more than you need to?
- Greeting cards – Cards may cost as little as fifty cents at the dollar store. You may not find a great selection, for many occasions you will find them a worthwhile buy.
- Holiday items – From Halloween centerpieces to Christmas décor and Valentine’s Day items, you will find a huge selection of holiday items and candy at the dollar store.
- Party supplies - You can find paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils in a variety of colors at the dollar store for about a third of the cost at party supply stores and less than half what you’ll pay at the grocery store. Also look for streamers, plastic tablecloths and helium balloons at great prices.
- Personal grooming items – Hair bushes, tooth brushes, tooth pastes and deodorants are significantly less expensive at the dollar store.
- Picture frames – You may be amazed at the variety of picture frames in all sizes available for a buck at the dollar store. Look like a hero and frame your children’s artworks for practically nothing.
- Scented candles – You can find these in a variety of sizes and colors for a dollar, compared to three bucks or more at other stores.
- Shampoo and conditioner – Unless you are loyal to one particular label, you will probably find that most shampoos and conditioners from the dollar stores do as good a job as their name-brand counterparts.
October 1, 2013 6:42 pm
A: It is a loan against the equity in your home. Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance of your original mortgage.
You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance, and processing fees.
Home improvement loans are often written as second mortgages. And sometimes you can get a college tuition loan by using a second mortgage.
In case of default, the loan is paid off from the proceeds of the sale of the property, after the first mortgage has been paid off first.
September 30, 2013 6:42 pm
No matter how careful we are with money, everyone has holes in the budget: small indulgences or careless mistakes that end up costing big dollars. The finance experts at Kiplinger’s point out six common money-wasters it makes good sense to avoid:
Carrying a balance – This can cost hundreds of dollars each year in interest – and also costs you down the line in the form of lower credit scores that trigger higher interest rates on loans. If you can’t pay off balances each month, at least keep your balance to less than 25 percent of available credit.
Paying late fees on missed deadlines – It’s easy to miss a payment occasionally. But if you miss a credit card payment by even one day, you will pay a late fee of $25 ($35 if it's the second time in six months) – and your credit score could also take a hit. A history of on-time payments accounts for 35 percent of your FICO credit score -- more than any other factor. If you have a good payment record, you should call your card issuer and ask that a one-time late fee be waived.
Buying insurance you don’t need – Unless you have people financially dependent on you, you may not need as much life insurance as you are paying for. You can also probably do without credit-card insurance (use the premium to pay down debt), rental-car insurance (most auto policies carry some coverage) and mortgage life insurance (a regular term-life insurance policy is more comprehensive).
Overspending on gas and oil – Most cars do fine on regular gas. Be sure tires are properly inflated for best gas mileage – and most cars today require oil changes every five or six thousand miles, not every 3,000 as they once did. Check your owner’s manual regarding regular maintenance – and opt for a fuel-efficient car.
Keeping unhealthy habits – The average price per pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $6.03, but health-related costs per pack are $35, according to the American Cancer Society. Over a year, those added costs can amount to $12,775 for a pack-a-day smoker. Another habit to quit: indoor tanning. There is a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services – and as with cigarettes, the true cost of tanning -- one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation -- is higher than the price you pay per session.
September 30, 2013 6:42 pm
(BPT) - Colder weather's arrival means homeowners across the country brace themselves for the battle against bold, foraging deer. But with recent reports that Lyme disease - transmitted by ticks that live on deer - is even more prevalent than health officials once thought, keeping deer away from your backyard is not just a cosmetic or financial issue any more. Your success at deterring deer could directly affect your family's health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year. Only about 30,000 of those actually get reported to the CDC. Many more likely go undiagnosed since Lyme symptoms can mimic other ailments and even disappear altogether for a time. Lyme disease is now the most common tick-borne illness, according to the CDC, and its health consequences can be severe.
Lyme disease is named for the river-side Connecticut town where it first emerged in 1977. A number of children in the area began exhibiting arthritis-like symptoms, a hallmark of the disease. A bull's-eye target-shaped rash at the bite location may be the first indication that a person was bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease, but not everyone will see or develop the rash. Symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, neck stiffness and heartbeat irregularities may get mistaken for flu or other illnesses.
In the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-central states, deer ticks carry the disease. On the Pacific Coast, blacklegged ticks (who also like traveling on deer) spread Lyme disease, the CDC says.-
Year-round, especially during fall and winter, you should check your own body, children and pets for ticks. Deer ticks are often so small you won't even feel their bite, so visual inspection is important. If you suspect you've been bitten, talk to your doctor right away.
The CDC says that reducing your exposure to ticks is the best defense against contracting Lyme disease. While you can't vaccinate your family against Lyme disease (the vaccine maker stopped production in 2002, citing lack of consumer demand), you can "vaccinate" your backyard against deer that carry Lyme-bearing ticks. Keeping deer away from your backyard can help reduce your chances of encountering ticks in your home environment.
Look for a proven effective, natural deterrent that has been independently tested, like Bobbex Deer Repellent. The topical foliar spray uses taste and smell aversion ingredients to deter deer, moose and elk from browsing and causing other damage to ornamental plantings, shrubs and trees.
As part of your deer and Lyme prevention efforts, keep these facts in mind:
- Prevention is easier than cure - in both cases. Even after treatment with antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of Lyme patients have symptoms that last for months or even years, the CDC reports. Once deer move into your yard, they can be difficult to evict, and they can cause hundreds of dollars in damage. It's easier to keep deer away - and avoid Lyme altogether - than to rectify the problems created by deer and the ticks they carry.
- A single whitetail deer can consume 8 to 12 pounds of foliage a day.
- Home remedies rarely work for keeping deer away, and trying to treat Lyme on your own can have severe health consequences. Untreated Lyme disease can cause arthritis, severe joint pain and swelling, and even chronic neurological problems such as numbness, tingling in the hands or feet and short-term memory problems, the CDC says.
- Even though many plants, bushes and trees will lose their leaves during fall and winter, it's important to continue applying deer repellents year-round. Remember, deer forage aggressively when food becomes scarce. Fall and winter are the times when they're most likely to enter your yard - bringing their disease-carrying cargo with them while ravaging your foliage, trees and shrubs.
September 30, 2013 6:42 pm
Multiple listing. Agreement that allows real estate brokers to distribute information on the properties they have listed for sale to other members of a local real estate organization. Allows the widest possible marketing of those properties. Commissions are split by mutual agreement between the listing broker and the selling broker.
September 30, 2013 6:42 pm
A: Zoning ordinances and maps are a matter of public record. Visit your local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board and get a copy of your local ordinance.
In some areas, if you have a legal description of the property (name, address, tax map, and parcel number), you can call the zoning office or city hall, or even e-mail your request for information.
Some communities also have their zoning maps and ordinances online and in local libraries.
September 29, 2013 6:36 pm
With autumn approaching, I have begun rummaging around the basement for gear that will be required to take care of the annual pre-winter property cleanup. While poking around on the web later, a few new fall cleanup tools popped up that looked pretty interesting.
The right knife. Gardeners.com started off with something very simple, but apparently with high utility. They recommend anyone heading out for yardwork carry the Hori Hori Knife (available everywhere - around $25).
It can be used to cut back perennial foliage, plant bulbs, divide plants, cut open bags, pop dandelions out of the ground, set out transplants, cut twine, even pry the lid off a paint can. The sharp, serrated steel blade easily divides plants, severs weed roots and cuts through twine and packaging.
It's sharp enough to cut back perennials during fall cleanup, according to its makers. Just grab the tops in one hand and slice off the dying foliage near the ground with the knife.
WORX Electric Leaf Shredder. If you're raking up mountains of fall foliage, you can reduce them to a manageable size with an electric leaf shredder, and do good things for your landscape and the planet. Instead of bagging the leaves and having them hauled away, shred them and use them! This shredder can reduce 11 bags of leaves into just one. (available everywhere - around $125)
GreenWorks Electric Chipper. For heavier chopping jobs, the electric chipper fills the bill. The Electric Chipper chops twigs and branches up to 1-3/8" in diameter. It's quieter and cleaner than gas-powered chippers, but effectively turns hedge trimmings, storm and pruning debris into landscape mulch. Just plug it in, put on your safety glasses, press start and you're ready to go. (available at dozens of DIY and gardening sites and stores - around $150).
The WORX JawSaw. This electric chainsaw is concealed within the jaw-like housing, allowing an operator to safely and easily cut branches up to 4" thick. Between cuts, the blade retracts back into the housing. Steel teeth hold branches in place while cutting. Cut fallen branches where they lay, without lifting.
September 29, 2013 6:36 pm
BPT—As the months pass and the end of the calendar year approaches, it's time to update your do-it-yourself list. Several home winterization projects will help keep your home in good repair come spring.
While some projects should be left for the experts - like cleaning out the chimney - there are several most homeowners can accomplish themselves. These projects are easy to tackle, and the end result will make a huge difference to your home all winter long and into the spring months.
Flushing gutters - Leaves and small tree branches often fall onto the roof of your home during the summer months, and then wash into the gutters when it rains. Sometimes they'll flush out, but other times this debris can build up, and prevent the water from draining down the gutter pipe. In winter, this water can back up and freeze, causing an ice dam, which can then damage the roof shingles, and cause leaks into the home and garage when it rains. Be sure to flush the gutters clean, and if you've noticed icicles in certain areas in the past, consider installing a heating cable to help keep the water melted and moving down the gutter and into the yard.
Sealing concrete cracks - When water gets into cracks in your sidewalk or driveway and freezes, it can expand, creating a much larger crack come spring. Over time, large cracks will eventually turn into damaged concrete, requiring complete replacement. Tiny cracks that appear shortly after the concrete is poured are not a problem, but those that appear over time and continue to grow are good candidates for repair. There are a variety of patching materials from Sakrete that can be used to repair cracks. Small narrow cracks can be filled with latex, polyurethane or other products typically found in caulk type tubes or plastic squeeze bottles. They have the advantage of not requiring mixing and being applied directly into the crack.-Sakrete Top n Bond is a much more versatile product that can be used to repair any cracks ranging anywhere from extremely fine to several inches across. In addition, Top n Bond is a portland cement-based product just like the concrete slab. This allows for a better blending of the both the existing slab and the repair material. Should the need or desire to completely resurface the slab arise in the future, the Top n Bond will easily bond to the surface for a "like new" surface.
Repairing potholes - Any missed cracks in past years with asphalt driveways probably have become potholes by now thanks to the freezing and thawing of water during the winter month. But you don't need to replace the entire driveway to take care of these problems. Sakrete U.S. Cold Patch is a strong patch product made from 95 percent recycled materials with no odor or mess. Just sweep the area in and around your pothole, pour in the patching mixture, and roll over the area with a car tire, allowing you to use the driveway immediately. Make certain the entire hole is completely filled and tamped down to prevent water from seeping into the patch. Because U.S. Cold Patch doesn't contain solvents and raw asphalt, there is no danger of tracking the material into the house or garage.
Extra insulation against heat loss - Colder temperatures affect pipes, doorways and windows. Protect pipes from freezing by wrapping any pipes exposed to the cold with pipe insulation. Also check your doors and windows for leaks or gaps. Find gaps by lighting a candle and holding the flame near the closed window and door seams. If the flame flickers, air is moving through the seam where there is a gap. Fill those gaps with caulk or weather stripping to form a better barrier against the cold.
These home DIY projects don't take a lot of time to accomplish, and will benefit your home and property during the winter months and as spring arrives. Be sure to put them on your home winterization to-do list each fall, so you can enjoy the winter in comfort.