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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
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

10 Ways to Control Home Insurance Costs

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

Going without home insurance is risky, so most of us bite the bullet and pay the premium. But
there are ways to save on what you pay.

Forbes business experts suggest ten ways to ensure you have optimal coverage with the right
risk/cost balance:

●Increase deductibles – Insurance isn't meant to cover the small stuff. Set deductibles
as high as you can afford. For example, a $150,000 house could have a $1,500 or 1
percent deductible.
●Make improvements - Install a backup generator, a whole house surge protector, and
smoke/CO2 detectors. Refit roof trusses with strapping.
●Opt for hip roofs - Hip roofs offer the most slippery shape in high-wind settings or
storms. You don't want roof areas that can catch the wind and are prone to damage.
●Locate intelligently – Stay away from flood-prone areas. In high wind areas, look for
brick or stone houses. In quake-prone areas, look for wooden frame houses. Locate in
communities with professional fire departments. Have your home inspected before you
purchase.
●Don't make small claims – Frequent claims can drive up rates. Don't sweat the small
stuff. Insurance is meant to protect you from catastrophic loss.
●Reinforce your home – Install storm shutters, reinforce the roof, retrofit older homes for
earthquake resistance, and modernize heating, plumbing, and electrical to reduce risk
of fire and water damage.
●Improve home security – Add smoke detectors, deadbolts and burglar alarms or other
security systems.
●Combine policies with one insurer – Most insurance companies offer discounts for
multiple policy households. Combine home and auto insurance. Then buy an umbrella
liability policy over both to optimize cost.
●Eliminate unnecessary coverage – Don't buy coverage you don't need: earthquake
coverage is unnecessary in most zones; don't schedule jewelry if it's inexpensive, etc.
●Talk to your agent about discounts – Sometimes there is a discount for good drivers,
or retirees, or people with good credit ratings.
 

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Heads Up: Research before Retail Renting-to-Own

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

I know the temptation of wanting something now, even if the cost for that item does not equate with the amount of disposable cash on hand. With so many individuals opting to sign up for 'rent-to-own' programs, this advice from the Better Business Bureau is particularly valuable.

The BBB says rent-to-own stores are popular alternatives to using a credit card, for consumers with a poor credit history or people who don’t want to put down a deposit on merchandise. Today, there are 47 states with legislation that spells out consumers’ rights when engaging in a rent-to-own contract.  

Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receive complaints about rent-to-own stores that do not adequately explain their contracts, delivery of used or damaged goods, and illegal collection practices.

These include having reps show up at consumers’ front doors if a payment is late, placing harassing telephone calls and threatening to call the renter’s employer to report a late or missed payment.

Better Business Bureau recommends consumers take the following precautions before entering into a rent-to-own lease:

  • Take the contract home – Read all terms and conditions carefully before signing.  Determine what fees may be associated with the transaction, who is responsible for repairs or maintenance and what happens after a late or missed payment.
  • Research the company – Visit www.bbb.org to see what other consumers’ experience has been like, the volume of complaints and how they were resolved.
  • Check the law – The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations website, www.rtohq.org, provides links to state laws governing rent-to-own provisions.
  • Consider alternatives – See if you qualify for a short-term loan, retailer financing or a layaway plan. Look for deals on display models and consider buying the item at a garage sale, through a classified ad or at a second-hand store, though this option gives no warranty or maintenance agreement.
  • Keep in mind that the longer the lease, the more you will pay for the item, and like any other purchase, shop around first to compare prices.

 

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Busy Schedule? Tips for Staying Healthy When Things Get Hectic

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

(Family Features)--Life can sometimes feel a little too jam-packed with work, errands, carpools, cooking dinner and more. When that happens, healthy habits often fall by the wayside in favor of convenience. Fast food can replace home-cooked meals and exercise makes way for the television.

Registered dietitians and authors Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, who are also known as "The Nutrition Twins," have advice for feeling good and staying healthy despite a busy schedule.

Drink up: People often mistake thirst for hunger, prompting them to overeat. Keep seltzer, iced green tea or water with lime in the fridge. The next time you want a nosh between meals, drink a glass first and see what happens.

Sneak in exercise: If it feels like too much of a task to get to the gym each day, sneak in exercise wherever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work or push your kids on the swings for an arm workout. Even if you walk around the neighborhood for 15 minutes, it counts. Just get moving!

Bite into some energy: You might think a sugary candy bar from the office vending machine will perk you up, but a healthy, balanced snack will keep you on your toes longer. Make sure your snack has a quality, high-fiber carbohydrate, like fresh fruit, oatmeal or whole-grain crispbread, for long-lasting energy and a lean protein, such as a hardboiled egg or Greek yogurt, to help you feel satisfied. The two will work together to keep your energy up and your desire to visit the snack machine down.

Sleep tight: Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism down and negatively affects your immune system. When you're busy, that's the last thing you need. Set yourself a bedtime that's eight hours before you have to wake up and start getting ready for bed 30 minutes prior to that. The last step is tough, but don't bring your phone or computer to bed with you.


Source: www.Vitamints.com.

 
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Q: When is the best time to refinance?

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

A: Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.     

If you expect to sell your home shortly, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance.  And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more.  Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance.  

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'Hitting THe Wall' - Prep It Right For Your Wallpaper Project

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

I talk a lot about paint and painting - without giving wallpaper its due. So we'll continue to explore this exciting design trend, by getting into a few important prep tips for homeowners ready to "hit the wall" with a DIY wallpaper project this fall.

Master paperhanger Brian Hunter of Odessa Fla., designer-wallcoverings.com says using an appropriate primer/sealer ensures that the wallpaper will adhere correctly to the wall. He says it will also help the wallpaper seams to stay stuck down - especially important in bathrooms and kitchens where there is extra moisture.

Hunter says using an appropriate primer/sealer also ensures wallpaper will come off quickly and easily without damaging the wall underneath when it's time to redecorate.

The installers at wallpaperstogo.com offer these tips to make sure walls are properly prepared for new wallpaper:

Sizing Things Up - One-step primer/sealers have all but eliminated the need for wall sizing. A coat of acrylic primer provides a new, even surface making it easier to slide wallcoverings into position. It also prevents the wall from absorbing moisture, which protects against future damage. Alkyd (oil) primers are equally, if not more, effective. However, an acrylic primer or regular sizing should also be used over the alkyd primer to provide adequate slippage.

Something Old - If it's old, paint can become unstable and should be sealed with primer/sealer to ensure a successful wallcovering installation.

Filling the Holes - Holes, chips, cracks and irregularities should be filled with vinyl spackling compound before the primer is applied. Use a broad knife, force the compound well into the hole and smooth the surface.

Don't Forget to Wash - Scrape surfaces coated with flat (non-gloss) paint if old and flaking. Then sand smooth and wash with an all-purpose cleaner. Walls covered with high- or semi-gloss paint should be sealed with an acrylic primer. In a room where mildew occurs, wash the wall with a mixture of bleach and water - then rinse, let dry and apply primer.

 

We've covered trends and prep, so in our final segment on DIY wallpapering, we'll look at the final step of the process, installation!

 

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Knowing Your Family History Is Good for Your Health

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

Family Features—A number of celebrities have graced recent headlines by making some drastic decisions about their health, and in turn, raising awareness for the importance of knowing one's family medical history. For instance, according to the CDC, a history of breast, cervical or ovarian cancer indicates a strong risk of cancer in some women, and thus proactive and preventative measures, like having a mastectomy or hysterectomy, may be warranted.

While facing these decisions can be difficult, Brittney Wilson, a registered nurse, knows first-hand the positive effect that knowing one's family medical history can have on a patient's overall health. Since many diseases tend to follow genetic lines, it's important to know your roots in order to make better lifestyle choices. For example, if you have a history of common medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing them as well, but prevention is possible.

Nurse Wilson offers steps you can take to develop a family medical history record that will help inform your lifestyle choices and serve generations to come.

Step 1: Seek answers to lingering questions
You inherit half of your genetic profile from each parent. So, the first step in establishing your family medical history is to seek answers to any doubts or questions you may have about your parents' identity. In today's society, and with the rising rate of children born out of wedlock, this situation is actually more common than you might think. In fact, a recent survey conducted on behalf of Identigene, a DNA paternity test laboratory, concluded that one out of ten Americans has personally been in a situation where a paternity test was needed. In addition, nearly one out of five respondents said that they or a close friend or family member has questioned paternity. However, discovering your paternity can be fairly simple. A kit, such the Identigene DNA Paternity Test, is available at nationwide drug stores and supercenters, and offers 100 percent accurate and confidential results within a matter of days. 

Step 2: Talk to your family

The best way to gather information about your medical history is to talk with relatives about their health. An upcoming holiday gathering or family reunion is a great opportunity to start the conversation. Explain why you want to learn more about your family history and ask direct, specific questions to uncover any reoccurring medical issues and when they occurred. Consult existing documents, such as family trees, birth certificates and obituaries, to help obtain this information. From these materials, you can begin identifying potential patterns that should be discussed with a doctor.

Step 3: Be proactive about getting healthy

After identifying potential patterns, make a point to discuss them with your primary care doctor at your next annual exam. A medical professional might suggest necessary screening and proactive steps you can take to help stay healthy and avoid certain predisposed conditions in the future. It's also a good idea to continue to update your family medical history record to help future generations navigate their health.

Preventative care is the most cost effective and least invasive way to ensure your health and prevent illness. Being aware of your family's medical history is the first step towards making informed choices for a healthier lifestyle.

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Q: How can I protect my home from creditors?

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

A: Check with your state.  It may provide special protection through the filing of a homestead exemption, which exempts some or all of the value of your equity in the homestead – or home that you live in and the land on which it sits – from claims of unsecured creditors.

Whether to file a homestead exemption will depend on your situation. Contact your county recorder's office for details.   

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Word of the Day

September 20, 2013 7:24 pm

Assessment. Tax or charge levied on property by a taxing authority to pay for local improvements such as sidewalks, streets, and sewers.

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Fall House Cleaning: Chores to Do Now

September 19, 2013 5:21 pm

Everyone talks about spring house cleaning – a time to freshen up your living space to get it ready for fresh air and sunshine. But, advises a staffing supervisor for Molly Maids cleaning service, a clean house requires a fall cleaning routine as well:

Deep clean the closets – Sort out your wardrobe and clean out clothes closets. Donate whatever you are unlikely to wear again to make room for seasonal purchases.

Get rid of expired medicines – Check the medicine cabinet for expired meds and last winter’s leftovers. As you dispose of them, make note of things you need to buy, such as bandages, antiseptic creams or over-the-counter cough syrup.

Clean out the fridge – Dig deep for tired or expired foods, clean the shelves and organize the fridge. Remember to replace that old box of baking soda with a fresh one to guard against odors.

Clean the carpets – A little elbow grease now will get you ready for holiday entertaining. Deep clean summer’s grime out of your carpets or hire a professional carpet cleaner with equipment that may dig deeper than you can.

Clean ceiling fans and ceiling light fixtures – Open doors and windows all summer have likely left them coated with dust. Clean them thoroughly now that the doors are closed.

Wash the windows – Washing them inside and out may be a pain, but winter can be depressing enough without having to look through dirty windows.

Shine the silver – Before Thanksgiving is the best time to get out the polish and get your silverware ready for company.

Check the gutters – Autumn means gutters are full of falling leaves. Clean them out now with a special hose attachment that has a hooked end to get down into the gutters. Look into attaching “hoods” or “helmets” to the gutters so you won’t have to worry as much about cleaning out leaves in the future.

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Five Ways to Build a Better Shower

September 19, 2013 5:21 pm

BPT—The shower is a place to unwind from a stressful day, where you can forget your worries and pamper yourself. Remodeling the shower is extremely popular because it allows homeowners to create a spa-like experience in their own home, not to mention it's a good investment and can increase resale value. Before you start your remodel, here are five ways to create a shower that will give you some well-deserved peace and quiet.

1. Spacious shower

If you're gutting your bathroom, think about opening up the space to expand the size of your shower. Typically, showers are 36 inches wide by 36 inches deep; but now, luxury-style showers measure at least 48 inches by 96 inches. You can also create more shower space by selecting certain types of shower doors. Sliding glass doors can be a hassle to clean, as dirt can get into every little crevice. Hinged, glass doors, or if you have the space, a larger opening with no shower door at all, are better options for creating a modern, streamlined look.

2. Bring in the light

Do you have a small bathroom and don't have room for a spacious shower? Not to worry - make the shower look bigger with lighting. Adding a skylight above the shower will make it feel larger in size and give a sense of being in a high-end resort. The materials you use on the door can also brighten things up. Choosing a glass door lets more light fill the space while showing off a fancy showerhead or tile. The glass can be frosted for added privacy.

3. Showerheads in all shapes and sizes

Showerheads come in a wide variety of styles to add the desired look - and functionality - to your bathroom. From rainshowers to traditional showerheads and body sprays, the combinations are almost endless.

No matter what style or the number of sprays you choose, make sure to include a hand shower. It makes cleaning the shower a breeze, will help with washing the family pet, and gets all those hard to reach places during your daily shower.

4. A place to sit and relax

Shower benches and seats are becoming an essential component for rest and relaxation. It's a great way to add a spa-like element to your shower but also provides extra safety for your family. You can build a bench into the shower or attach one that folds up against the wall. Different styles and materials are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Teak is a popular choice in the shower as it withstands different temperatures, is resistant to bugs and humidity and is also easy to clean.

5. Storage in the shower

Finally, build niches in the shower wall to fit all the bottles used on a daily basis. Creating several built-in areas will eliminate reaching for bottles on the shower floor and make it easier for the family to stay organized. Make sure the shelves slope toward the shower to keep the areas from getting moldy or full of soap scum. If you aren't putting in new shower walls, you can also create more storage with a sturdy, corner shelf. Choose one with at least three shelves so Mom, Dad and the kids can each have their own shelf.

Source: moen.com  

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440 - PERKASIE

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