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
August 30, 2013 5:30 pm
(BPT) - A job transfer usually is a good thing. Hopefully the transfer signals a promotion as you take your career a step further up the ladder, bringing about new and fun challenges in the workplace. But the transition itself is often not easy, especially if it involves moving your home and family to a new location.
Businesses often give transferred employees less than two weeks (11 days) to accept a transfer offer and once accepted, an average of 33 days to move and report to the new job, according to Worldwide ERC, a professional association for workforce mobility. That isn't much time to find a new home, put the old home up for sale or subleasing and plan a move that could be across town, across state lines or across the country.
Resources are available to help ease the stress of your job transfer. They include:
Your company - Before you accept the job transfer offer, check with your human resources department on what services or financial compensation your company offers. Many companies outsource relocation services or cover selected services like providing rental moving trucks for employees. Be aware that the average cost of shipping household goods for a domestic transfer was around $12,459 in 2012, according to Worldwide ERC.
Truck rental - Much of the moving process involves the transfer of your household goods. Truck rental companies help to make this process much easier. For example, Penske, which is a member of Worldwide ERC, has a dedicated customer service and sales team within its existing call center to serve the specialized needs of employee relocations.
"Time, cost and ease of use are of the essence with an employee relocation move," says Don Mikes, senior vice president of rental for Penske. "We have a solid solution to make the process easy ranging from rental trucks, towing equipment and moving supplies to services beyond the truck such as self-storage and moving labor."
House hunting - Searching for a new home could be the most stressful part of relocating. Many employees will opt for temporary housing like apartments or extended-stay hotels for the first couple months of the transfer. This allows them to get a feel for the community and take the time to review homes for sale. However, if you prefer to purchase a home right way, contact the human resources department at your new location to ask for real estate agents referrals. Also take your search online. Between MLS listings with photos and online mapping tools, you can narrow your search quickly to preferred homes, allowing you to make an appointment once with your real estate agent to tour the homes and hopefully make an offer.
House selling - On the other end of the spectrum, you also have a home to sell. Many homeowners are opting to hire a management company and rent out the home, with the intent to sell in the future once they have their life organized in the new location and have the time to list the home with a real estate agent. Management companies handle the review of rental applicants, the background checks, collect the rent and take care of any emergency maintenance concerns that might occur, allowing the homeowner to concentrate his energies on the new job.
The job transfer process may feel overwhelming, but with these resources available to assist you with the transfer, you'll find yourself quickly settling into the new office and digging into the challenges of the new job.
August 30, 2013 5:30 pm
Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Mortgage loan on which the interest rate falls and rises with changes in prevailing rates. The mortgage rate is tied to a selected index and may be adjusted annually. Also called a variable rate mortgage.
August 30, 2013 5:30 pm
A: When you apply for a loan, long, steady employment is always seen as a plus, as is a large down payment, a good credit rating, a history of regular savings, and property located in a “good” neighborhood.
Not so good in the lender’s mind: frequent job changes without salary increases, self-employment in a new venture, bad debt history, no previous borrowing record, and dilapidated property.
Do not be discouraged. These are standard lender pre-dispositions when evaluating your application, but when it comes to making a loan decision, most lenders will tell you nothing is completely carved in stone.
Consider, too, that credit you have qualified for—say, credit cards—can work against you, even if never used. This is because those credit cards are looked upon as being open credit lines—and while they have not been used, they could be used, and potentially used up to the maximum dollar amount allowed by the credit card companies. As a result, their perceived risks lower your credit, or FICO, score.
August 30, 2013 3:30 pm
Most people train themselves to leap out of bed when the alarm clock sounds in the morning or at the call of a crying baby – but many have never learned to embrace the early-morning wake-up.
“Morning people are rarely understood by those who prefer to sleep in” noted a San Francisco psychologist. “They seem to start the day with a cheerful energy their opposites can’t seem to fathom.”
But there are ways to ‘trick’ the subconscious into getting more in tune with natural circadian rhythms, so that you get to sleep earlier and more easily and wake more rested and ready to tackle the day.
From a recent panel of behavioral therapists, here are five tips to help it happen:
Open the curtains – Natural light helps regulate your body clock. Before you go to sleep, open the curtains or blinds in your room so that you are awakened by natural sunlight. Then open the curtains in other rooms so you have as much natural light in your house as you can get.
Eat a good breakfast - Fueling your day with something healthy and tasty will give you the energy boost you need after having fasted through the night. It can also make getting out of bed less of a chore and more of a reward. Play around with quick and easy granola or muffin recipes that you really can look forward to.
Get outside early - Now that you're awake, it's time to soak up as much sun as you can. Walk or bike to work if you can, or make some time early to increase your exposure to natural light and increase your energy level.
Dim the lights at night – Less exposure to artificial light allows your body to power down and sync with the sun. After sunset, turning off as many lights as possible will help you relax into bedtime.
Power down early – Not only does the exposure to light keep your body awake, but the movement and activity on screens can keep your mind busy when it needs to be quieting down for bed. Turn off your electronic devices once the sun has gone to bed – and resist the urge to watch TV in the bedroom.
August 29, 2013 9:24 pm
I previously talked about the Streamlined Modification for mortgage holders who are delinquent in their payments by 90 days to 24 months. But there are many other options for homeowners in various other situations, who are looking to lower their payments or get out of rough financial waters.
Knowyouroptions.com, a site operated by Fannie Mae, lays out the following options for homeowners:
Refinancing - A new loan, with new terms, interest rates and monthly payments, which completely replaces the current mortgage. Even if a home value has decreased or the owner owes more than the home is worth, they may be able to refinance their loan as part of the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP makes payments more affordable by lowering the interest rate or adjusting the terms of a loan, and it creates no negative activity or event on your credit history.
Repayment plan - An agreement between the owner and the mortgage company that lets them pay the past due amount - added on to the current mortgage payments - over a specified time period to bring the mortgage current. The reayment plan resolves the delinquency; lets homeowners catch up on past due payments over an extended period of time; and is less damaging to a credit score than a foreclosure
Forbearance - An offer by a mortgage company to temporarily suspend or reduce the monthly mortgage payments for a specified period of time, providing a homeowner time to improve their financial situation. This option is less damaging to the credit score than a foreclosure
Modification - An agreement with a mortgage company to change the original terms of a mortgage - such as payment amount, length of loan, interest rate, etc. Candidates may also be eligible for the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).
Deal for Lease - A program that allows the homeowner to temporarily lease the home by transferring the ownership of the home to the mortgage company (called a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure) in exchange for a release from the mortgage loan and payments. the former owner can then rent the property back - at an affordable rate - and remain in the home as a tenant.
August 29, 2013 9:24 pm
Some Moms sneak veggies into their picky eaters’ diets by grating a little carrot into the tuna salad or even zucchini into chocolate cookies. Nutritionist Rachel Warren suggests eight more easy ways to make all your family meals more nutritious:
Split the fats and spare the sugar – Most recipes don’t need to be followed exactly. Sautee ingredients in a mixture of butter and olive oil instead of butter or corn oil – and you can shave a quarter cup of sugar from most cake and cookie recipes without sacrificing taste.
Dress chicly – Instead of using dressings made with oil, puree an avocado with herbs of your choice and pour it over your salad. Or use a little balsamic syrup (thicker and sweeter than balsamic vinegar) to dress salads or drizzle on meats before grilling.
Skim the cream - Take fat and calories out of classic comfort foods by mashing potatoes with unsweetened almond milk and roasted garlic – or creaming spinach of other vegetables with tapioca flour and unsweetened almond milk instead of butter and heavy cream. You can even halve the suggested amount of cheese without giving up much flavor.
Tenderize with yogurt - The naturally occurring lactic acid in Greek yogurt helps break down protein to make meats, fish, and even veggies more flavorful and tender. Combine nonfat plain Greek yogurt with fresh herbs and seasonings to create an oil-free marinade and save about 110 calories per tablespoon.
Add a leaf to the beef – Boil or steam kale, a nutrient-rich veggie, then chop finely and add a half cup to a pound of ground beef for delicious, more nutritious meatballs.
Pick the right pan – Using a good quality non-stick pan will enable you to cook with less fat and still keep foods from sticking.
Turn up the heat on veggies – Cut up assorted veggies, toss them with a bit of olive oil and herbs on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes. Yummy flavor with crunchy, toasted edges and without any butter at all.
Curb the carbs - Lighten pasta dishes and boost nutritional content by replacing half the noodles with lightly sauteed julienne vegetables like peppers, snow peas, and mushrooms.
August 28, 2013 7:18 pm
(BPT) - Chances are you've thought about adding a splash of color to the exterior of your
home, and you're not the only one. Many people have the same idea, but they don't act
because they're worried they will choose poorly. Selecting the wrong color for your home's
exterior isn't only costly, it's embarrassing as well.
"Many homeowners are afraid to add color to their home's exterior because they don't want to
make a mistake," says Sensational Color's Kate Smith, Color Marketing Group (CMG), a
career color trend forecaster. "Especially when people look at the style of their homes, they
can become confused by what colors will enhance their exteriors."
One common mistake homeowners make when seeking to add color to their home's exterior is
they fail to identify a full color palette. They set out to choose that perfect color for their home
without thinking about how it will interact with the newly-installed window frames or new roof.
Smith says the selection of your main color should take into account the colors of fixed
features related to your home, such as the brick, stone or stucco found on your foundation,
porch or walkway. Selecting color options for the trim, shutters and the front door should only
come after the main color has been selected.
Smith, author of the free 36-page ebook "FRESH Color Schemes for Your Home Exterior,"
advocates for taking a "top down" approach to adding eye-pleasing color palettes to the home
exterior. She says people who are interested in making a color change to their exterior should
start with the roof color and work their way down, taking into account the siding, window
frames, front entry door and trim.
The ebook includes specific tips for home styles including: ranch, colonial, bungalow,
Victorian, Spanish mission, European and new American homes. Smith provides several
color combinations for each home style as well as tips for making the homes complement their
"One of the hottest trends in the marketplace right now is to 'shake up' home exteriors with
color," says Smith. "This tutorial provides guidance on understanding the home's exterior
features and playing off them with color accents."
"No homeowner should feel locked into blah or standard colors on their home's exterior," says
Smith. "A shake or slate polymer roof can have an appealing blend of colors, such as browns
and autumn tones. Low-maintenance vinyl window frames and grids come in pine green,
chocolate and even brick red to add pizzazz to the home. And, homeowners can create a
welcoming front entrance by painting a fiberglass door a striking accent color. Tie that all
together with painted urethane trim pieces that add the 'icing on the cake' for the home and
you can really make a home more appealing with coordinated colors."
August 28, 2013 7:18 pm
Many of us have buyer's remorse after completing a purchase or closing a deal. But luckily, there are some situations in which you can cancel the deal within three days.
Caveat emptor (buyer beware) no more with these easy steps to cancel a recent contract:
1. Contact the Company
Before you use your state and federal law options for canceling your contract, you may want to try simply contacting the business via mail or email to release you from the contract. Depending on the type of contract, you may be able to cancel for free or possibly a small fee.
2. Check State Laws
Many states, like California, grant consumers a statutory "cooling off" period, typically three to five days, during which a consumer can cancel a contract for any reason by sending the seller a written cancellation notice.
Each state has its own methods and official forms for giving cancellation notice, but in most cases, a contract can be cancelled within three days if notice is sent by certified mail before the third day.
3. Determine FTC Options
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put in place several safeguards to protect consumers from making hasty contract decisions. In particular situations, there is a three-day cooling-off period during which a consumer can cancel a contract.
This FTC cooling-off period only applies to purchases made in a buyer's home or a location outside the seller's permanent place of business (e.g., at a trade show).
Regardless of the location, a buyer cannot cancel a contract under the cooling-off period for a transaction that:
- Totals less than $25;
- Involves business or education goods (i.e., not personal or household goods);
- Involves cars (even if it's at a car show);
- Involves arts and crafts at a fair-type venue; or
- Involves real property, insurance, securities.
4. Send a Cancellation Notice
If your contract is eligible for the three-day cooling-off period -- or even a longer period under state law -- you need to give cancellation notice to the seller.
Some businesses may offer their own cancellation forms, but you can always draft your own cancellation letter. Just make sure your notice includes:
- Your name, address, and contact information;
- Identifying information for the goods or services you're wishing to cancel (e.g., order number, account number, etc.); and
- An unequivocal statement that you are canceling the contract.
- As long as you send the notice by mail -- or even better, hand delivery -- within three business days of the sale, the company may not sue you for breach of contract.
August 28, 2013 7:18 pm
Labor Day weekend offers a chance for a final summer escape before the arrival of fall. An estimated 34.1 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, the highest turn out since 2008, when the recession was at its peak, the American Automobile Association reports. Gas prices are also down, nearly 5 percent, another plus for vacationers. However, for those renting a car, it can be confusing, frustrating and downright daunting. Unfortunately, many consumers do not even think about car rental insurance until they get to the counter, which can result in either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Before renting a car, I.I.I. suggests that you make two phone calls—one to your insurance professional and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.
- Find out how much coverage you currently have on your own car. In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business.
- If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.
- Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value (the reduction in a vehicle's market value occurring after a vehicle is damaged and then repaired), is not covered by insurers.
Credit Card Company
- Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. For instance, a platinum card may offer more insurance coverage than a gold card.
- Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. You may not have personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims. Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought.
- To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you its coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company.
- If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.
At the Rental Car Counter
Since insurance is state regulated, the cost and coverage will vary from state to state. Consumers, however, can generally choose from the following coverages:
Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
Also referred to as a collision damage waiver outside the U.S., an LDW is not technically an insurance product. LDWs do, however, relieve or "waive" renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for "loss of use," in the event the rental car company charges the renter for the time a damaged car cannot be used because it is being fixed. It may also cover towing and administrative fees.
Waivers, however, may become void if the accident was caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If you already have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, check with your personal auto insurer to make sure you are not duplicating coverage you already have. Should you decide it is necessary, this coverage generally costs between $9 and $19 a day.
By law, rental companies must provide the state-required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection. If you have adequate amounts of liability protection on your own car, you may consider forgoing additional liability protection. If you want the supplemental insurance, it will cost between $7 and $14 a day.
An umbrella liability policy, however, may be more cost effective. Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners (or renters) liability policies to provide extra protection, including accidents, while driving your own car or one that you rent. These policies, usually sold in increments of a million dollars, cost as little as $200 to $300 annually for a million dollars worth of coverage and another $50 to $100 for each additional million.
Those who do not own their own car and are frequent car renters, can also consider purchasing a non-owner liability policy. This not only provides liability protection when you rent a car, but also when you borrow someone else's car.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries caused in a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you may not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1 to $5 a day.
Personal Effects Coverage
Personal Effects Coverage provides insurance protection for the theft of items in your car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy that includes off-premises theft coverage, you are generally covered for theft of your belongings away from home, minus the deductible. If you purchase this coverage through the rental car company, it generally costs between $1 and $4 a day.
If you frequently travel with expensive items such as jewelry, cameras, musical equipment or sports equipment, it may be more cost effective to purchase a personal articles floater under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. With such a floater, your valuable items are protected at home as well as while traveling anywhere in the world and the coverage is broader.
August 28, 2013 7:18 pm
Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.