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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
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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

10 Tips for Fabulously Successful Corporate Events

July 26, 2013 10:18 pm

Successful corporate event planning is not for the faint of heart. Whether the event is for 100 or 3,000, there are all sorts of challenges and points that must be carefully considered.  

OBie O'Brien, Director of Sales at Manhattan Center, home of the Hammerstein and Grand ballrooms, (both of which have housed major events like Tech Crunch and others for AT&T, GM, Macy's, Fortune Magazine, HSBC and more,) offers the following tips that can help make your corporate party or event one to remember:

Planning is essential. Secure a suitable venue as far in advance as possible. You also might benefit from choosing a spot that is not just centrally located for ease of access and parking, but one that can expand if your RSVPs go higher than originally planned. Get your contract and deposit in early, as some venues book as far as a year in advance.

Set your budget. Unexpected expenses are sure to arise, but you need a strict budget.

Make double copies of all contracts, seating charts, vendors or anything else important. You wouldn't be the first person to leave that ever-so-important folder in a taxi.

Invite early & avoid major holiday weeks. Consider "Save the Date" emails. Insist on RSVPs for calculating your headcount. Plan on doing late RSVP call-downs.

Decide on a theme…or not. Is a theme necessary? Or does your organization carry the day?

Seating or standing? Are seating charts required? Who'll be in charge of those? Or is a more casual event planned where guests will mix and mingle more freely? Get details on guests to avoid any uncomfortable situations.

Equipment counts! Does the facility you want to book offer in-house microphones, projectors, speakers, video, recording or live air streaming? Or will you have to bring this all in, at possibly significant additional expense?

Staff? Will you need doormen? Servers? Bartenders? Does the facility offer an in-house production team and/or staff to fill certain requirements?

Are special accommodations required? Is there a hotel in proximity? Will your talent or others require rooms or suites? Are they convenient to the event?

Communication is key. Healthy dialog between the planner and all vendors is paramount to a successful event. Make sure your requirements are spelled out and that you give detailed instructions regarding what you expect from every vendor hired. Eliminate major headaches by taking time ahead of the event to clarify possible areas of confusion.

Source: MCStudios.com

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Select the Right Insurance for Your Home-Based Business

July 26, 2013 10:18 pm

(BPT) - Home-based businesses are booming.

About 36.6 million businesses operate from U.S. households, according to the Home Based Business Institute. And the Small Business Administration notes that 53 percent of all small businesses located in the U.S. are home-based, with those numbers expected to grow substantially in the near future.

But before you start planning your home-based bakery, personal training studio or computer repair venture, there's one important thing to think about. Charles Valinotti, head of underwriting & product with insurer QBE, says that you should make sure you have the right insurance to protect your at-home enterprise.

A homeowner's or renter's insurance policy might provide some coverage for a business that operates out of the home, he says.

"If someone is running a small accounting business with little-to-no customer foot traffic and doesn't have expensive office equipment, the homeowner's or renter's insurance would probably be acceptable to most insurance providers," Valinotti points out. "But if you have a pottery school with customers coming and going, and are using pottery ovens that might be a fire hazard, most insurers don't want to take on those kinds of risks."

Depending on what type of business you're brewing, Valinotti says there are three insurance options you'll want to consider:

  • Homeowner's policy endorsement: An endorsement is a special provision added to an insurance policy to enhance or restrict its coverage. Adding a simple endorsement can increase coverage for business equipment, such as computers. You'll also want to look into buying a homeowner's liability endorsement - available in most states - to cover on-site injuries to customers or delivery people. A liability endorsement is usually available to in-home operations with few business-related visitors.
  • In-home business policy: Valinotti says this policy is also known as an in-home business endorsement. Coverage can vary significantly between insurers. It provides more protection than what's found in a typical homeowner's policy. That includes more comprehensive property and equipment coverage, as well as protection for loss of income, extra expenses incurred, and liability for injuries caused by the products and services you offer.
  • Business owner's policy: If your home-based business is in more than one location, this policy might fit the bill, Valinotti says. It gives broader property and liability coverage than the in-home business policy. However, if you have employees, it doesn't include workers' compensation, health or disability insurance.

“Valinotti also suggests you don't forget about auto insurance if you're using your car for business to transport supplies or products, or to visit customers.

He recommends contacting your agent for more information on the right insurance for your home-based business. "If you're doing business at home, you need insurance. Finding the right coverage will go a long way to give you peace of mind and help make your special business possible."

 

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8 Tips to Protect Your Child's Skin during the Summer Months

July 26, 2013 10:18 pm

While we all may slather sunscreen on our kids before hitting the beach, according to Marty Visscher, Ph.D., Director, Skin Sciences Program at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, some parents do not understand the dangers of prolonged sun exposure on their child's skin.

"During the summer months, it is critical that parents make sure their child uses sunscreen and wears sun-protective clothing to reduce the risk of sun damage," Dr. Visscher says. She notes that the best sunscreen protection will have an SPF number of at least 30 or higher and it should be applied liberally to the skin at least once every hour for maximum protection.  

Some of the dangerous effects of sun exposure on the skin include sunburn, photosensitive reactions (rashes), and cell and tissue damage.  However, Dr. Visscher explains that there are several precautionary methods that parents can take to make sure their child is protected from too much sun exposure.

Dr. Visscher advises the following ways for parents to protect their child from the sun:

  • Apply water-resistant sunscreens that help protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays and that have SPF numbers of at least 30. 
  • Remember that sunscreen will wash off in water and it should be reapplied frequently at a minimum of every hour.  
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out into the sun.
  • Apply extra sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide to the nose and lips since those areas get the most exposure to the sun.
  • Speak with camp counselors to make sure the counselors apply and reapply sunscreen on their child (or at least supervise the child when he or she is applying the sunscreen).
  • Keep babies younger than six months out of the sun. Sunscreens may irritate baby skin, and an infant's developing eyes are especially vulnerable to sunlight.
  • Make sure your child wears sun-protective clothing that lists the garment's Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays).
  • Parents need to limit their child's playtime during the hours when the sun is at its strongest peak, which is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., in the summer months. If a child is outside during these peak hours, he needs to take breaks in the shade.

Source: www.cincinnatichildrens.org

 

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Word of the Day

July 26, 2013 10:18 pm

Property tax.  Assessment levied by city and county governments on real and personal property to generate the bulk of their operating revenues to pay for such public services as schools, libraries, and roads.

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Q: What Should I Weigh before Considering an Addition to My Home?

July 26, 2013 10:18 pm

A: Thoroughly assess your space.  You may find you have the room you need, particularly if there is unused or under-utilized areas in your home.  Perhaps a garage, attic, side porch, or basement can be converted to fit the use you have in mind.  Or, maybe, a small area can be carved from a larger area like a kitchen or living room to create a powder room.  These improvements are certainly cheaper than a major construction job.

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Tips to Help Negotiate a Higher Selling Price for Your Home

July 26, 2013 12:18 pm

These days, with shortages in pre-owned home inventories across many communities, it's a
seller's market. With that in mind, a recent post from Wisconsin's Dan Miller of
madcitydreamhomes.com caught my eye.

Miller believes with the right negotiating strategy, there's no reason why a home seller and his
or her Realtor® can't arrive at a final price that is markedly higher than the list price.

To that end, here is a sampling from Miller's Tips for Negotiating the Highest Possible Selling
Price:
● Be helpful and easy to work with. Buyers are generally open to negotiating with
someone whom they perceive as helpful and likeable.
● Proactively and openly communicate with all buyer agents who have showings
to date. Your agent's job is to encourage as many people as possible to write an offer,
and should let each showing agent know about the tremendous amount of interest in
your listing.
● Justify a selling price that is far above the list. It's not recent sales in the area
that will establish the final selling price - in this fast-rising market sold comps are often
old news. Miller says it's the momentum of the market that's setting the price on your
home. With high demand and low inventory, several different buyers are competing
for your listing. These real-time market dynamics ultimately determine the final selling
price of your home, not the sold comps.
● Provide all parties with a status update when your first offer comes in. You agent
should call and email each showing agent, letting them know a window they have to
submit their offer.
● Finally, Miller suggests that you negotiate and accept a secondary offer once
your primary is accepted. This is a great tactic for your agent to employ in the event a
primary offer falls through. It also gives you a position of strength as you negotiate
around the home inspection with primary. With a solid Plan B, the first buyer may
choose not to quibble with you over minor issues that arise during the inspection.
 

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Top Remodel Trends for the Modern Home

July 26, 2013 12:18 pm

(BPT) - Thanks to foreclosures and short sales, home buyers are snatching up great houses at reduced prices and remodeling to create stylish modern homes. Lucky for those buyers, many of today's top trends are relatively easy to recreate, and will add re-sale value to their homes.

"TV interior design shows are mostly about buying and remodeling a home, versus building from scratch or finding a new property that precisely fits a wish list with plenty of personal requirements," says Dani Kohl, program coordinator for the bachelor of science in interior design program at The Art Institute of Indianapolis and a practicing architect and interior designer.

The top remodeling trends include:

  • Uniting the kitchen and living space for an open-floor concept
  • Culture dictating an increase square footage for entertainment, haven from a busy work schedule or modern luxuries
  • Finding multi-functional uses for both spaces and furniture

On average, Kohl's residential clients are spending about $40,000 to $60,000 to renovate and remodel their homes. Most of the money is spent in the kitchens, master bedrooms and bathrooms.

"Gone are the days of the formal dining room and living room," says Kohl. "Walls are being knocked down to join the two rooms."

Parents want to be able to cook while watching kids do homework or entertaining guests. Kitchen islands most often serve as the main division between kitchen and living space, and are the entertainment centers of a kitchen.

"Kitchen islands are looking more like free-standing furniture pieces with elaborate marble tops and wood work, and interior designers are often finding functional yet hidden places to store the trash can and keep the dish washer from view," Kohl says.

Pedro Lima, an interior design instructor at The Art Institute of New York City and owner of Pedro Lima Interiors, says that temporary partitions between the living space and kitchen are also on the rise. These partitions can be of varying heights, whether it's a two-way fireplace or modern book shelving. Partitions are a great option for homeowners who want that open-floor plan for the kitchen and living room, while still maintaining a defined space for each.

Lima says that our current culture and habits are driving the changes in modern, interior spaces.

"When it comes to the master bedroom, we are looking at a more pampering atmosphere," he says. Both Kohl and Lima agree that clients want more of a spa-like feeling than ever before to create a bedroom that is a safe haven for over-worked homeowners.

"Master bedrooms now have their own seating areas and entertainment nooks, and have become personal spaces away from everything," Lima says.

An increase in square footage for closet space is another popular request, according to Lima. "We, as designers, are now looking into proper modular systems of rods and shelving, in addition to our architectural and design duties."

Closets are not just for storage anymore, either. "Now, we're looking at closets to serve as a dressing space in addition to serving as a place to store an increased amount clothes and shoes."-

How are clients gaining square footage for the needs of today's residential space without making a complete renovation and creating add-ons to their homes?

Lima says that downsizing to accommodate upsizing is part of the remodel plans too.

"Designers are spending more time at looking for innovative ways to add versatile furniture that serve multifunctional purposes," he says. "For instance, coffee tables also serve as storage spaces and additional seating, wall units have built-in desks, and couches open up to beds in home offices."

Whichever remodeling trend homeowners choose to apply, all trends point toward integration, simplification and organization, as homeowners seek to enjoy their homes and share it with family and friends.

 

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Save Cash with These Summer Cooling Tips

July 26, 2013 12:18 pm

Although we seem to be nearing the end of the summer, there's still plenty of heat left, and it's important to stay cool and safe these last few weeks. So why not save a little money in the process?

Although the weather can impact your energy use, there are some simple ways to lower your electric bill.

The average homeowner spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs, with summer cooling contributing a large part to the total. Of all your summer electric use, air conditioning is the number one cause of higher energy bills.

But whether you run air conditioning or fans to prevent that hot-weather meltdown, the following tips, provided by DTE Energy, will help you stay comfortable without overloading your checking account:

  • Increase your thermostat setting. For every degree you increase your thermostat above 72 degrees, you'll reduce your cooling costs by up to 3 percent. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat and let it automatically adjust the setting for you – and apply for a $10 rebate! Find out how at dteenergy.com/energystar.
  • Change or clean your furnace filter once a month. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can cause your air condition unit to run longer. Vacuum registers and vents regularly, and don't let furniture and draperies block the air flow.
  • Use ceiling fans to assist your air conditioning. Set them to run counter-clockwise (or downward air flow), which provides better air circulation. Remember to turn them off when you leave the room.
  • Close blinds, draperies and shades on windows facing the sun to block out the heat, and wait until cooler times of the day to run your dishwasher or clothes dryer.
  • Have your central air conditioning unit tuned-up by a professional, plus clear away weeds and debris so that air can circulate freely around the unit.
  • One last tip – Be sure to drink plenty of fluids in hot weather and enjoy the summer!

Source: DTE Energy

 

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Word of the Day

July 26, 2013 12:18 pm

Quit-claim deed.  A conveyance by which the grantor transfers whatever interest he or she has in the real estate without warranties or obligations.

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Q: How Much, on Average, Can I Expect to Spend on Home Maintenance?

July 26, 2013 12:18 pm

A: Expect to spend one percent of the purchase price of your home every year to handle a myriad of tasks, including painting, tree trimming, repairing gutters, caulking windows, and routine system repairs and maintenance.  

An older home will usually require more maintenance, although a lot will depend on how well it has been maintained over the years.

Tell yourself that the upkeep of your home is mandatory, and budget accordingly.  Otherwise, your home’s value will suffer if you allow it to fall into a state of disrepair. Remember, there is usually a direct link between a property’s condition and its market value: The better its condition, the more a buyer will likely pay for it down the road.

Also, adopt the attitude that the cost of good home maintenance is usually minor compared to what it will cost to remedy a situation that you allowed to get out of hand. For example, unclogging and sealing gutters may cost a few hundred dollars. But repairing damage to a corner of your home where gutters have leaked can potentially cost several thousands dollars.

 

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