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
September 14, 2013 12:54 am
Family Features--Today’s newly remodeled kitchens boast more than just rich hues and shiny appliances – they have an eco-conscious ambiance that marries great style with respect for the environment.
Dreaming of a fresh, modern kitchen that is also eco-friendly and strikingly beautiful? Achieving this transformation is more attainable than you may think. Environmental lifestyle expert, Danny Seo, provides these helpful tips on how to add earth-friendly updates to your kitchen:
When searching for a new refrigerator, be sure to look for more than just the Energy Star label to ensure maximum energy efficiency. It is also important the new appliance fits your needs and the size of your kitchen. A larger refrigerator uses more energy. If the one you select is too big for your needs, you will be wasting energy and money.
Blocked wood countertops
With their rugged durability and timeless style, butcher block countertops are making a huge comeback. Though typically made from cherry, walnut and oak, greener options, such as high pressure laminate designs made by Wilsonart, can contribute to US Green Building Council LEED accreditation as an eco-friendly material to use in your home. For more information on their new Blocked Wood designs – Old Mill Oak and Truss Maple –visit www.wilsonart.com.
For a more sustainable approach to kitchen flooring, there are several options available. If you love the hard, classic appeal of wood, look for reclaimed, recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Bamboo is also a beloved choice among eco-conscious remodelers for its biodegradable nature and high renewability.
“Going green at home can be overwhelming, so I always advise people to not sweat the small stuff and focus on the one room of the house where it matters the most: the kitchen,” says Seo. “Being kind to the planet in the kitchen can also be kind on your wallet over time, so it's worth it to invest in sustainable upgrades.”
Recycled materials are the star of the show when looking to add green touches to your backsplash. There are three main types of recycled materials: ceramic, metal and glass. Old bottles and windows make up the materials in glass tile; old plates and clay vases are recycled to become ceramic tile; and those old soda cans become aluminum metal tile. All of these materials come in a variety of shades and styles to fit the look of your dream kitchen.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using an Energy Star labeled dishwasher is the most efficient use of energy and water, even more so than hand washing. When looking to update your dishwasher, pay close attention to the EnergyGuide labels, which include the annual estimated costs to run them. This valuable information can help you compare models to find the best fit for your family’s needs.
A dream kitchen that is both eco-friendly and chic is easier to attain than you think. With a few changes not only will you be smiling, but so too will Mother Earth.
September 14, 2013 12:54 am
Due-on-sale. Clause in a note or mortgage giving the lender the right to call the entire loan balance due if the property is sold or otherwise conveyed.
September 14, 2013 12:54 am
A: For the buyer, yes, but not the seller – even though the seller pays them. Since January 1, 1991, homebuyers have been able to deduct points paid by the seller whereas, previously, they could only deduct the actual points they paid on the home loans themselves.
September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
Wi-Fi is slowly becoming like tap water: If your business doesn't want to offer Wi-Fi for free, your customers may see your company as a stingy, anti-technological cretin.
This may be one reason why more and more small businesses are offering free Wi-Fi. In addition to boosting customer good will, gratuitous Wi-Fi acts as a valuable amenity to customer service-based ventures, reports Bank of America's Small Business Community Blog.
But offering anything new, even something for free, comes with its legal nuances. Here are five tips for entrepreneurs thinking about offering free Wi-Fi:
1. Create a Separate Wi-Fi Network for 'Guests.'
Free Wi-Fi for customers does not mean giving out passwords to your business' own Wi-Fi network. Create a separate guest network that provides customers access to the Internet from a router in your location -- one that isn't connected directly to your company's data.
Failing to keep a company's free Wi-Fi network separate from its private network may open your business up to data breaches and the liability that comes with the theft of customers' personal information.
2. Provide Notice of Your Wi-Fi Policy.
While it may be useful to include a "Terms of Service" for free Wi-Fi users to agree to before joining your business' free public Wi-Fi, you may also want to post information about your Wi-Fi policy somewhere in your physical location.
This is especially helpful if you plan on using free Wi-Fi to track customers and their spending habits. http://blogs.findlaw.com/free_enterprise/2013/07/legal-to-track-customers-via-in-store-wifi.html
3. Beware Unwanted Data Use.
You may not appreciate customers hogging in-store Wi-Fi with data-heavy streaming like Netflix or Hulu, but you'll appreciate it much less if your customers use your Wi-Fi to download inappropriate material.
Businesses can prevent certain kinds of Internet traffic with a decent firewall with packet filtering.
4. Use a Commercial Internet Account.
If you run a small business with mostly your own resources, it may be tempting to use your own residential internet account for free customer Wi-Fi.
However, a business account may protect you from some liability if your customers start downloading copyrighted materials.
5. Cover Your Bases With a Prepaid Legal Plan.
You may want to have a lawyer review your terms of service for your free Wi-Fi or ask an attorney about your Internet policy.
Bottom line: While offering free public Wi-Fi may pay off for your business, you'll also want to make sure you've taken steps to limit your potential liability.
Source: Findlaw.com, LegalStreet
September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
BPT—A new school year is starting and as many parents know, kids are likely to bring home more than their homework at some point. Many catch cold and flu viruses from their classmates, which can then spread to other family members at home. When kids are sick, they miss out on valuable learning experiences and social interactions in the classroom.
On average, elementary school children get eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu each school year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the older kids, it is about half that. That's why it's important that parents, teachers and kids work together to stop the spread of germs in the classroom. Everyone can follow these simple steps to help prevent the spread of germs that can cause cold and flu viruses this school year:
Get vaccinated: Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in flu prevention. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year to protect against the flu virus.
Stay home when sick: If possible, keep kids home from school when they are sick to help prevent teachers and classmates from catching their illness.
Sing and scrub: Make sure kids wash their hands the right way. They should wash frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice).
Do the elbow cough: Teach kids to cough into elbows, not hands, since hands are more likely to spread bacteria and viruses through touch.
Disinfect germ hot spots: The CDC recommends disinfecting frequently touched surfaces or objects when someone is ill. In the classroom teachers can use a disinfectant approved to kill cold and flu viruses on desks, computer mice and doorknobs.
"Creating a healthier learning environment starts with small actions that add up to a big impact," says Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive. "Parents play an important role and can lend a hand to teachers by reinforcing healthy lessons at home and donating useful items like tissues, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes."
To provide teachers with the resources they need to help stop the spread of germs in the classroom, the Clorox Company is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for "Canisters for Classrooms." For every parent that takes the "Canisters for Classrooms" pledge, Clorox will donate a canister of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to a school in need and $1 to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Schools Program, which creates healthier learning environments in more than 18,000 schools, reaching 11 million students across the country. To take the pledge and learn ways to help keep your family healthier this school year, visit www.CloroxClassrooms.com. Parents that take the pledge will also receive a coupon, so that they can donate disinfecting wipes and make a difference in their child's classroom, too.
September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
Motor vehicles can be dangerous, and when traveling with precious cargo, we know you want to be as careful as possible so everyone stays safe. The following safety tips can help keep your children save when traveling in a car.
Car Seat Safety
- Children should be rear-facing until they reach the maximum height and/or weight listed for their given car seat model, usually about the age of two.
- When using a rear-facing only seat, make sure your car seat base is installed at the correct angle. Babies must ride sitting semi-reclined so their airways remain open. Most infant car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors to assist in this process.
- Any child who has outgrown the weight or height limit for his/her rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat until they reach either four years old or 40 pounds. A child has outgrown his or her forward facing car seat when the top of his or her ears reach the top of the seat.
- Always use a five-point harness, and properly position the harness on your child per manufacturer specifications. For rear-facing seats, harness straps should enter the seat below the child's shoulders. For forward-facing seats, they should be at or above the shoulder. Harness straps should lay flat, with no sagging or twisting. The harness must be snug so you cannot pinch a fold in the harness strap at the shoulder after buckling. Place the top of the chest clip at armpit level as chest clips placed too low can cause internal injuries, since this part of the body is not protected by the rib cage.
- Installations should be tight. You should not be able to move your car seat side to side more than one inch. That said, you should use either the latch system or the seat belt but not both. The car seat should be able to move and flex a small amount to absorb some impact. Car seat harness straps should not be washed. Submerging straps in even plain water can compromise the fire-retardant chemicals that are on them, and using detergents or other cleaning agents can weaken the integrity of the straps.
- Children should not wear winter coats in harnessed car seats. The added bulk can prevent proper harness tightening. It can also compress during an accident, leaving too much room in the harness and allowing the child to shift dangerously.
Booster Seat Safety
- All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This typically is when they have reached four feet nine inches in height and are between eight and 12 years of age.
- When using a booster seat, make sure the lap belt lies low and snug across the child's upper thighs, below the hip bones. The shoulder belt should cross the center of your child's chest and shoulder. It should not cut across his/her neck or face. Never put the shoulder belt behind your child's back or under his or her arm.
General Car Safety
- The safest placement for kids is the center of the backseat. Children younger than 13 who ride in the front seat can risk serious injury – not only from other cars, but from the very airbags that are designed to protect passengers.
- Be sure to register your child's car safety seat. In the event of a recall, the manufacturer will reach you by mail to let you know of the recall and what steps you should take.
- Proper installation of child car seats is critical to their function. The Hanover recommends having your seats inspected. For a list of inspection sites closest to you, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (http://icsw.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/).
- In the event of a car accident, be sure to check with your independent agent to determine whether your car seat needs to be replaced.
September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
Qualification. Act of determining a potential buyer’s needs, abilities, and urgency to buy and matching these with available properties.
September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
A: The interest rate on a purchase money note is negotiable, as are the other terms in a seller-financed transaction. To get an idea about what to charge, sellers can check with a lender or mortgage broker to determine current rates on mortgage loans, including second mortgages.
Because sellers, unlike conventional lenders, do not charge loan fees or points, seller-financed costs are generally less than those associated with conventional home loans. Interest rates are generally influenced by current Treasury bill and certificate of deposit rates.
Understandably, most sellers are not open to making a loan for a lower return than could be invested at a more profitable rate of return elsewhere. So the interest rates they charge may be higher than those on conventional loans, and the length of the loan shorter, anywhere from five to 15 years.
September 12, 2013 2:39 am
With kids back in school, we enter the season where spreading germs is almost inevitable. It helps to teach kids to wash hands often, and to sneeze into the crook of an arm. But what we eat makes a difference.
From Prevention Magazine comes a list of nine power foods that help boost immunity from colds and flu for every member of the family:
Yogurt – Probiotics, the ‘live active cultures’ in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
Oats and barley – The grains contain beta-glucan, a fiber with potent antimicrobials and antioxidants. One or two servings a day in cereal, soup, or other dishes can boost immunity, speed wound healing and help antibiotics work better.
Garlic – Crushed into recipes several times a week, or taken regularly in tablet form, garlic, with its active ingredient, allicin, fights infection and bacteria.
Fish – Salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections. The selenium in most shellfish helps white blood cells produce a substance that helps drive flu viruses out of the body.
Chicken soup – Grandma wasn’t lying. Chicken soup acts like a bronchitis drug, blocking the migration of inflammatory white cells. Also, the salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Adding garlic and onions can increase immune-boosting power.
Tea - People who drank five cups a day of black tea for two weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than those who drank a placebo, in a Harvard study. The amino acid responsible, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—and in decaf versions.
Beef - Zinc is important for the development of white blood cells, the immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. A three-ounce serving of lean beef provides what you need. Vegetarians should consume zinc-fortified yogurt, milk, cereals.
Sweet potatoes – Skin is a first-line fortress against bacteria and viruses – and healthy skin needs lots of vitamin A. The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes – or other orange veggies, including pumpkin, carrots or squash – is a great way to get it.
Mushrooms – A handful added to pasta sauce, salads, omelets, or pizza increases the production and activity of white blood cells, which effectively help fight infection.
September 12, 2013 2:39 am
Too many people end up getting less than what’s due them from Social Security when they retire because they don’t know the rules and the real financial impacts, says independent retirement advisor Gary Marriage, Jr.
“There’s a lot of talk about the future of Social Security, but we still have this benefit and if you’re 50 or older, you should be planning to make the best use of it,” Marriage says.
Marriage, CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors, which specializes in maximizing retirees’ finances, shares important facts to keep in mind as you plan for how Social Security will factor in your retirement:
• “Can I convince you to wait a few more years?” Many people are understandably eager to retire as early as possible; others fear Social Security retirement benefits will suddenly vanish, so they want to get what they can as quickly as possible – at age 62. But if you’re counting on those benefits as part of your income, you should wait until you’re eligible for the full amount. That’s age 66 if you were born 1943-54, and age 67 if you were born in 1960 and later. If you’re in the older group, retiring at 62 cuts your benefits by a quarter; for the younger group it’s nearly a third. “Chances are, you’ll be better of mentally and physically if you wait anyway,” Marriage says. “Many studies show that people live longer and are more vital the longer they remain employed; more importantly.”
• The reductions in Social Security add up to a considerable sum. The average retirement benefit in June of this year was 1,222.43, according to the Social Security Administration. People born in the 1943-54 group who are eligible for that amount at age 66 will get just $916.82 a month if they retire at 62. If they live to age 90, that’s a total of $308,052.36. By waiting just four years, they’ll net an additional $44,007.48. Waiting until age 70 can make you eligible for a bump in benefits – up to 8 percent a year – but there are no increases if you delay longer.
• If divorced, were you married for at least 10 years? Were you married for a decade and aren’t currently remarried? You may be eligible to receive benefits based on the former spouse’s work record. Here are some of the other requisites: you must be age 62 or older, and the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own benefits. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit. Additionally, two years must pass after the divorce.