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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
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

July 18, 2013 5:40 pm

Useful life.  The period of time over which a commercial property can be depreciated for federal income-tax purposes.  Also known as economic life.

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Q: Is It Best to Save for the Ultimate Dream Home or Begin with a Less Expensive Starter Home?

July 18, 2013 5:40 pm

A: It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home.  Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years.  Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying bandwagon.

Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country.  In fact, home prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent to 3 percent annually over the next five years.

If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.

 

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Winterize Early to Avoid Repairs

July 17, 2013 11:36 pm

(BPT) - Autumn is on the way, so don't fall behind on your seasonal home repairs checklist. It pays to know which renovations to tackle now, which repairs can wait until next season, and what preventative measures can help you avoid large-scale, costly repairs.

"While staying warm is top of mind for many homeowners this upcoming winter, it is important to note that in order to stay warm and dry, homes must first be functioning properly," says Bill Jacques, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) president. "A home inspection can help homeowners prioritize maintenance projects as the seasons change and weather becomes more severe."

ASHI recommends fall as the ideal time to begin home inspector consultations and any necessary home repairs. Maintenance costs are generally lower when homeowners proactively prepare their home for winter weather instead of waiting to fix issues that appear.

Homeowners may want to consult with a professional home inspector on winterizing projects, including:

  • Cleaning gutters and downspouts - When ice damming occurs, water cannot drain from gutters and can sometimes seep into the home and damage ceilings and walls.
  • Roof, siding and shutter repairs - Heavy rains and high winds can call for window protection from shutters and the necessity of a sturdy exterior and roof for protection. ASHI recommends inspecting your roof, siding and shutters at least once a year.
  • Caulking cracks to stop cold drafts - Worn-out weather stripping around doors and windows allows cold air to seep into the home, which increases heating costs.
  • Inspecting chimneys - Adding a cap or screen to the top of a chimney will prevent birds nesting or animals entering. ASHI also recommends inspecting the damper for proper operation and checking mortar between bricks.
  • Checking batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors - Many fires or cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur during cooler months due to an increase in furnace and other heat source usage. If you have gas appliances, you need a CO detector for increased safety.

"The time to get serious about necessary home repairs is before the temperature starts dropping," says Jacques. "Once winter weather begins and your home has problems, you will be wasting money each month, so think about getting your home professionally inspected so you can keep the home in good condition and reduce problems from lack of maintenance. ASHI-certified home inspectors can help identify problems so you can keep your home in good condition."

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Get Out of Town: Essential Vacation Packing List

July 17, 2013 11:36 pm

(Family Features)--Even the most experienced travelers have arrived at their vacation destination only to realize the camera or sunglasses are still sitting on the kitchen counter at home. There is no worse feeling than leaving an essential item behind, causing you stress when you should be enjoying R&R.

Sure, there are those who subscribe to the theory anything can be bought at your destination. But who wants to waste valuable time at the local drug store when you could be on the slopes or at the beach? Start your trip by creating a packing list of essentials. Then you can fly off to paradise knowing everything you need is right in your suitcase where it belongs.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Toiletries

The two most important toiletry items are a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Caring for your hair may require shampoo, conditioner, a hairbrush, comb and styling supplies. If your trip includes an airplane flight, make sure bottled liquids are no bigger than 3 ounces and are sealed inside a zip top bag, for your carry-on items.

Other essentials include sunscreen, mosquito repellant, deodorant, soap, shaving supplies, moisturizer and lip balm.

Travel Essentials

Always travel with the essentials, such as your passport, driver’s license, itinerary, maps, membership cards, insurance information and travel confirmations.

A guidebook or two is also helpful. Purchase a pocket-sized edition with a good map to take on your trip. Look less like a tourist by flagging important pages in advance.

Everyone needs one good suitcase, but also bring along a backpack or crossbody bag for daytime touring and collapsible tote bag for souvenir shopping.

Today’s savvy traveler will need a laptop or tablet, camera, extra memory cards, music player, headphones and, of course, chargers for all your devices.

Snacks

No matter where you’re headed on vacation, snacks are always a great item to bring along. They cut down on food costs, keep kids happy and help everyone stay healthy. So, pack a small tote with trail mix, granola, energy bars, fresh fruit and crackers.

If you plan to indulge in ice cream or other frosty treats, pack toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and your mouth will feel cool and refreshed.

Bring an empty water bottle with you on every trip to stay hydrated. Other items to pack for the hotel room are juices, teabags, gourmet coffee, bottled coffee drinks and powdered drink mixes.

A great packing list will help you to stay organized while getting ready for your trip. It also ensures that everything you brought on vacation makes it back into your bag for the trip home.

Source: ARM & HAMMER

 

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Urban renewal

July 17, 2013 11:36 pm

Urban renewal. The acquisition of run-down city areas for purposes of redevelopment.

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Q: Can I Use an Agent to Purchase a Newly Built Home?

July 17, 2013 11:36 pm

A: Yes. In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers. But you also can use a buyer’s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home. An agent can be particularly valuable directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyers’ concerns.  

Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site. This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy. Otherwise, if you find a development on your own, make a first visit without the agent, and later make a purchase, the builder may refuse to pay the commission – even if, at some point, the agent became involved in the process.

 

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Cracks Kill Trees, Pose Liabilities to Property Owners

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

As homeowners continue to look for maintenance projects to help make their properties safer, and less of a liability, you should be paying attention to cracks - in the trees dotting your property.

According to our friends at the National Tree Care Industry Association, tree cracks can be one of the major warning signs of an unstable tree. Most cracks are caused by improper closure of wounds or by the splitting of weak branch unions.

  • They can be found in branches, stems or roots, and vary in type and severity:
  • Horizontal cracks run across the grain of the wood and develop just before the trees fail, making them very difficult to detect.
  • Vertical cracks run with the wood grain along the vertical length of the tree and may appear as shear or ribbed cracks.  
  • Shear cracks can run completely through the stem and separate it into two halves. As the tree bends and sways in the wind, one half of the stem slides over the other, elongating the crack. Eventually the enlarging crack causes the two halves of the stem to shear apart.
  • Ribbed cracks are created as the tree attempts to seal over a wound. Margins of the crack meet and mesh but are reopened due to tree movement or extremely cold temperatures. Thicker annual rings are created in order to stabilize the developing crack at the location of the wound. This forms the ribbed appearance over a period of many years.

These cracks put a tree at high risk of failure, and are especially dangerous when combined with other defects or with advanced decay.

A professional arborist can determine the potential for failure by measuring the shell thickness in a few locations around the tree's circumference, determining the width of the crack opening, and looking for the presence of any other type of defect.

Cracks are hazardous because they compromise the structure of the tree. They can eventually split the stem in two, and are very dangerous when combined with internal decay.

The presence of multiple cracks and decay indicates a potentially hazardous tree, so if you find one, consider consulting a local, certified tree care professional to explore your options.

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Remedies for Deadly Heat: More Than Just Hydration

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

(BPT) - Some parts of the country are experiencing record high temperatures this summer. Las Vegas hit 117 degrees and Phoenix topped the charts at 119 degrees. Salt Lake City also hit the triple digits as did several areas in California. Dry heat or not, residents and visitors were undoubtedly feeling it, and anytime the mercury gets remotely close to these temperatures, staying hydrated is of paramount importance.

This is especially the case for anyone participating in outdoor activities or any sort of exercise program. Our bodies produce sweat in order to regulate our core body temperature. As the moisture that appears on your skin evaporates, you cool off. In fact, human beings are the most effective mammal when it comes to regulating our body temperature. At the extreme, an adult can sweat as much as two to four liters per hour.

All of this water needs to be replaced, but remember that when you sweat you are not just losing water, you are also losing minerals such as sodium and potassium. According to Dr. David McCarron, adjunct professor at University of California, Davis, "You must replace the sodium and potassium along with the water. This is why athletes drink sports drinks like Gatorade, rather than just water. Replacing water without sufficient sodium can quickly produce hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition."

Hyponatremia symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and are often overlooked. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, confusion, seizures, coma and death. To avoid this condition, medical authorities advise marathon runners to consume extra salt and this advice should also be considered by anyone exposed to excessive heat. Salt is critical in maintaining hydration.

Sadly there have been several cases of illness and even deaths from hyponatremia over the past several years. According to the British Medical Journal, 16 runners have died as a result of too little sodium and over-hydration, and another 1,600 have become seriously ill. It is true that water intoxication is more commonly seen among extreme athletes but older individuals are also at high risk for several reasons.

As we age, our kidneys become less efficient at conserving salt when the body is stressed and common medications such as diuretics greatly increase that risk. That's one of the reasons that during severe high temperatures news accounts most often refer to elderly victims of the heat.

The proper balance of electrolytes in the human body is essential for normal function of the cells and organs. Electrolytes help to regulate cardiovascular and neurological functions, fluid balance and oxygen delivery.

Ideally, anyone engaging in outdoor activity in the heat or even an indoor exercise program should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during a session. If exercising exceeds an hour, a beverage that contains salt and an energy carbohydrate is far superior to plain water. The recommended concentration of salt in a fluid replacement beverage is one quarter teaspoon per liter. Most sports drinks contain salt, although the amount is not quite that high. Anyone can make an alternative to commercial fluid replacement beverages easily by adding one quarter to one half teaspoon of salt per liter or 32 ounces of water.

Every day, more and more Americans are motivated to start exercise programs. Physical fitness is a state of good health resulting from regular exercise and good nutrition. When you exercise, your body's metabolism works at a much higher rate, breaking down and regenerating tissues and creating waste metabolites that need to be flushed out of your system. However, regardless of your level of activity, you still need to maintain good hydration.

So remember to always drink plenty of water to beat heat, but also up your intake of electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium. Learn more about staying hydrated by visiting www.ALittleSalt.org.

 

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Get Some Sleep, Your Health Depends on It

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

Sure, we all know a good night sleep helps us feel rested. But did you know sleep is as important to disease prevention and diet and exercise?  According to  Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic and Director of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, many adults fail to get the recommended amount of sleep—some because they struggle with sleep problems like insomnia and some because they simply don’t make sleep a priority.

It’s time for that to change, Dr. Morgenthaler says. “Sleep should really be thought of as part of a three-legged table of health,” he explains. “One [leg] is good exercise, one is good diet and the other is good sleep, and they’re all equally important.”

More than one-quarter of the U.S. population experience sleep problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 40 million people suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

A sampling of people interviewed for Honor Thy Sleep get anywhere from 2 to 8 hours of sleep a night. For people on the lower end of that range, it’s simply not enough sleep, Dr. Morgenthaler says. “To feel well-rested and to avoid adverse health consequences, the average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night,” he explains.

For people suffering from a diagnosable sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, medical treatment can help solve sleeping problems. But for many people, poor sleep is simply the result of stress or bad bedtime habits. Making a few simple nighttime changes can lead to better sleep and better health.

Dr. Morgenthaler offers these practical tips for better sleep:

  • Make time for sleep. Adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night; teens need about 9 hours of sleep; school-age children require 10 to 11 hours.
  • Get regular exercise. Research shows that people who exercise regularly report getting a good night’s sleep more often than non-exercisers. Even when they slept the same amount, exercisers reported better sleep.
  • Go screen-free at bedtime. The artificial light of screens on laptops, tablets, smartphones, e-readers, television, etc., can actually confuse the brain into thinking it’s earlier than it is. The brain then delays its normal release of melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness.

 

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Q: What Is a Lease Option?

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

A: It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property. The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not.

Lease options are common among buyers who would like to own a home but do not have enough money for the down payment and closing costs. A lease option may also be attractive to tenants who are working to improve bad credit before approaching a lender for a home loan.

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