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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 1, 2013 4:30 pm

Subdivision. A tract of land divided by the owner into smaller lots for homesites or other use.

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Q: What is a bridge loan?

July 1, 2013 4:30 pm

A: It is a short-term bank loan of the equity in the home you are selling. You may take out a bridge loan, or interim financing, to help with a knotty situation: closing on the home you are buying before you close on the property you are selling. This loan basically enables you to have a place to live after the closing on the old home.

The key to a bridge loan is having a qualified buyer and a signed contract. Usually, the lender issuing the mortgage loan on the new home will write the interim financing as a personal note due at settlement on the property being sold.

If, however, there is no buyer for the property you have up for sale, most lenders will place a lien on the property, thereby making that bridge loan a kind of second mortgage.

Things to consider: interest rates are high, points are high, and there are costs and fees involved on bridge loans. It may be cheaper to borrow from your 401(K). Actually, any secured loan is acceptable to lenders for the down payment. So if you have stocks or bonds or an insurance policy, you can borrow against them as well.

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State-of-the-Art Space Savers for Your Kitchen

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

In my quest to promote decluttering, we're going to briefly turn attention back to the kitchen -- specifically kitchen cabinets. There are many companies and places a homeowner can turn for ideas about how to create clutter free kitchens through the use of cabinet systems, like the ones designed by Ultracraft (http://www.ultracraft.com)

This company out of Liberty, N.C. has upgraded its organizing systems to include a number of innovative storage and decluttering systems as integrated with the cabinets the company offers through dealers and installers in virtually every state, according to its website.

Take Ultracraft's Hanging Trash Bin, for example. It tucks neatly away among your lower kitchen cabinet array and holds two 43-qt trash bins in only 18" of space, and features a floating lid to keep odors inside.

What about those unsightly sponges? Ultracraft features both a wood and metal tilt out tray that mounts just in front of your kitchen sink to hold those sponges and other cleaning tools, wool pads and even your drain stoppers.

Depending on the amount of spices you keep for cooking, you can choose either an integrated under counter pull-out, or cozy drawer based spice organizing system. The UltraCraft Mixer Stand accessory allows you to store your mixer, but more importantly, the tension adjusted springs will help you lift the mixer out with less effort.

The stand is sturdy enough to use while its sitting on the stand in the up position, and a pull out below the stand conveniently stores all of your mixer accessories.

You can move your plates to a low and convenient large drawer base and utilize Ultracraft's Plate Rack Organizer to make them easy to move from drawer to countertop to table. No more reaching, juggling and occasionally dropping plates that are stored up high in an upper cabinet.

And for those who have hard-to-reach under counter "blind base" cabinets, the company's Blind Base Chrome Pantry Pull Out unit helps homeowners access these often wasted recesses without them having to crawl on their hands and knees.

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5 Careers on the Rise

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

For those who are off to college in the fall, or anyone who may be thinking of a job change, there are at least five careers poised for major growth in the next decade in terms of both job openings and salaries.

From recent research at the U.S. Department of Labor, here are five hot career paths to consider:

Registered nurse – The baby boomers are aging, most people are living longer, and the Affordable Care Act will open medical care to record numbers of Americans. As a result, the job outlook for registered nurses is bright. Requirements are an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program and a passing grade in a national licensing exam.

Home health and personal care aide – As the population ages and health care costs force shorter hospital stays, the home health care field is expected to grow by an astonishing 70 percent in the next decade.  A high school diploma is all that is needed in most cases, and those working through home health or hospice agencies must pass a standardized test.

Veterinary technician – Like working with animals but don’t want to pursue a veterinary degree? Employment of veterinary techs is estimated to grow by 40,000 jobs by 2020. Techs must have postsecondary education in veterinary technology, take a credentialing exam, and, depending on state requirements, be licensed, registered, or certified.

Convention and event planner – If organized party planning is your thing, consider working as an event planner. Jobs in the industry are expected to grow by 44 percent in the next few years. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, public relations or hospitality management should get you headed in the right direction.

Software developer – We live in a world of electronics, and software developers are tasked with creating new applications and their underlying systems. More than 30 percent growth in the field is anticipated by 2020. In most cases, candidates have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field as well as strong computer-programming skills.

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Check Out This Home Maintenance Safety Checklist

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(Family Features)--Keeping a healthy home for your family means more than daily chores and the occasional deep cleaning. It's important to add routine inspections of often overlooked areas and regular maintenance to your list of tasks.

"Every home can have unhealthy, harmful, or even hazardous areas," says Mike Holmes, renowned contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. "It's important to check them out, especially during regular maintenance. Addressing these 'hidden hazards' helps create a healthy home and keeps your family safe."

Holmes recommends following his "SAFETY" checklist to ensure your home is safer and healthier for your family.

S - Seek out lead in the home. If your home was built before 1978, it could contain lead. Your family could be exposed to it through the air, drinking water, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust in and around the house. If you disturb any material that contains lead, tiny lead particles could become airborne at home. Talk to a professional to test the entire house, and take the necessary steps to ensure your family's safety.

A - Address indoor air quality and change your air filter. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels -- sometimes even 100 times higher. Your lungs shouldn't be cleaning the air inside your home. Use an electrostatically charged Filtrete Brand air filter to help capture odors and airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Plus, changing your filter at the start of every season helps protect and maintain your system.

F - Fix leaks to prevent mold and mildew. Mold spores need moisture to grow and thrive in warm, humid conditions. When mold is disturbed, its spores can get into the air you breathe. Inspect your home for excess water and moisture build-up from leaky roofs, faucets, basement drains, dishwashers and washing machines, and fix them immediately. Also, reduce your indoor humidity to 30 to 60 percent, and use vents and exhaust fans whenever possible.

E - Exercise caution around appliances. Before using appliances such as space heaters and toaster ovens, make sure they are working properly. Never drape an electrical cord over a sink, as electricity should never come into contact with water or any other liquids. Also avoid overloading wiring or plugging too many appliances into a single wall socket because it can cause electrical sparks, leading to an electrical fire. Be sure to unplug appliances when they're not being used, and cover sockets with outlet protectors.

T - Test for dangerous gases. One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon, according to the EPA. You can purchase a short-term home radon test for less than $20. Test the lowest lived-in level of your home, and if you have elevated levels of radon, call a qualified contractor immediately. Make sure they have plenty of experience dealing with radon. Also, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month by pushing the test button on the unit. Remember to change the batteries every season, and replace the entire unit every 7 to 10 years.

Y - Yield healthier results with regular upkeep. Keep up with regular home maintenance to help keep your home healthy and your family safe. Fix small problems now to avoid big repairs later. Remember, big repairs come with big price tags and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.

Source: www.Filtrete.com

 

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Word of the Day

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Principal.  The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.

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Q: Is It True You Never Really Stop Fixing Up a Home?

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

A: From the day you move in to the day you sell your home, there will always be something that will need to be repaired or remodeled. You may want to undertake some changes simply to elevate your comfort level – like installing central air conditioning – or spruce up the home’s aesthetics, such as adding a few stained-glass windows.

But other work will need to be done to maintain the property and minimize problems later on.  For example, replacing a hazardous roof, fixing broken windows, and repairing leaky pipes.  These are all necessities. Left undone, they can lead to major problems and damages within the home.  

If you decide one day to sell, other improvements will likely be made to increase the home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.  

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Paint Your Home Pretty: Tackle your Home To-Do List

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(BPT) - We all have home improvement projects on our to-do lists. However, often the hustle

and bustle of life keeps us from getting them done. Following are a few projects you can

quickly tackle to help cross off some of your to-do list DIY projects featuring Krylon paints.

DIY Mason jar herb garden

We all have mismatched jars cluttering our cupboards or attics. Fortunately, Mason jars are

the ideal size to create anything from a flower vase, an herb garden or desktop organizer, and

the raised outer design adds a touch of whimsy and nostalgia. With just a bit of spray paint,

your clutter can be transformed into a clever creation.
 

After thoroughly cleaning the jars, simply spray several light coats onto the jars using your

favorite shades of Krylon ColorMaster spray paint. The unique formula dries in just 10 minutes

and is available in nearly 100 brilliant colors and finishes to meet all your color and durability

needs. Once dry, you now have a beautiful new vessel to hold anything from plants to pencils.

 

Terracotta potted plant house numbers

Why settle for "ho hum" house numbers? Instead convert ceramic or terra cotta pots into an

eye-catching address marker with creative curb appeal.
 

To start, be sure that each pot has a clean and smooth surface. Next, apply primer to the

surface and allow to dry, using a white primer for light colors and a gray primer for dark colors.

Next, paint each pot in a different color of spray paint and let dry. Finally, place a stencil for

each house number on the center of each pot and spray with a light coat of paint. Arrange your

pots in the proper order, fill with flowers and voila ... you now have an original and welcoming

way to announce your address.
 

Colorful hand-built and stenciled headboard

Does your headboard need help? Paint can take any piece of furniture from blah to beautiful.

So instead of replacing your hated headboard, rejuvenate it.
 

Start by sanding and cleaning your current headboard to ensure you have a smooth surface.

Next apply primer. Once dry, spray the headboard in your favorite color of spray paint. And

don't limit yourself to just one color. You can use painter's tape to cover different areas to

create a multi-color surface - or add embellishments, such as stencils. The opportunities are

endless.

Source: krylon.com

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Summer Travel Tips for Seniors

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(BPT) - Extra socks? Check. Toothbrush? Check. Photo ID? Check. What else could you be forgetting?

All travel requires some level of planning, but for seniors taking to the road or sky this summer, a little extra planning can go a long way toward ensuring an enjoyable vacation. Before embarking on your next adventure, consider these tips to make certain you have all your bases covered, from health to happenstance.

1. Keep your health in check: Make sure your doctor checks pre-existing medical conditions before you take extended travels and carefully manage conditions throughout your vacation. Also, pack enough of your medications to last the entire trip and keep them in the original prescription bottles labeled with your name.

Keep in mind that sitting for extended periods of time, whether you are driving or flying, puts you at risk for developing blood clots in the veins of your legs. Be sure to stand up and walk for a few minutes every hour to minimize your slight chance of getting a blood clot.

Make sure you stay well-hydrated throughout your trip by drinking at least two to three liters of water per day. Staying hydrated during long flights can also minimize chances of getting a blood clot.

2. Lighten your load: Pack light when possible to give your legs and back a break from hauling luggage around town or between flights. If you have to bring a second bag, make it a small one that can easily stack on top of your roller bag.

However, it's wise to pack a backup for some of your most important items. If you're traveling with a family member or friend, make sure you each have a cellphone. Pack a spare pair of glasses if you've been known to misplace them in the past. Bring spare batteries for hearing aids if you think they may be running low.

3. Keep in touch: Whether used to confirm reservations or contact authorities in case of an emergency, a cellphone can be the ultimate travel safety net. Consumer Cellular (www.consumercellular.com), the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members, provides cost-effective no-contract wireless service and cellphones to meet subscribers' unique needs.

Consumer Cellular's senior-friendly Doro PhoneEasy 618 is an easy-to-use phone with a one-touch emergency button and a camera for documenting your trip. Or for those who prefer the comfort and familiarity of their landline phone, the carrier's wireless home phone device allows for the use of your home phone in an RV, hotel room or anywhere with access to a cellular signal. Lastly, the carrier allows you to switch between plans without penalty at any time, so scale your service up or down for that month's bill to meet your travel needs, then resume your standard plan when you return.

4. Act your age: Seniors can often get discounts on attractions, events, meals and more by simply showing a photo ID or AARP membership card. Seek out discounts before you travel and make arrangements accordingly. Also, continue to ask about discounts throughout your vacation — you may save a few bucks here and there.

5. Leave time for recovery: A vacation should be fun and relaxing, but intensive driving or time zone changes can leave a traveler feeling exhausted. When outlining your trip itinerary, consider that you may need time initially to rest from your travels or recover from jet lag.

Whether you're embarking on a weekend getaway or taking the trip of a lifetime, spend a little extra time to consider the unique requirements you may have specific to your age, health and capabilities. Follow these five simple tips for a smooth, stress-free vacation experience and turn travel into a revitalizing fountain of youth.

 

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What Does Child Support Cover?

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

There is a growing misconception among some that child support should only cover a child's bare necessities, such as food and clothing. In truth, child support is meant to cover a broad range of expenses, which may include school fees, entertainment, medical, and extracurricular activities, among other things.

To help clarify this issue, all 50 states have established child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support a parent may be required to pay. As such, courts take into consideration a variety of factors, such as a parent's income and ability to pay, the financial needs of the child and the amount of support needed to maintain a child's existing standard of living, if at all possible.

Even so, courts do not require parents to prove the child support payments they receive go toward specific activities, except, for example, in cases where a child's basic needs are not being met. The assumption is that parents with physical custody of a child are paying for the necessary expenses to raise the child and, therefore, courts will not monitor the spending habits of a custodial parent.

Because child support laws vary greatly among the states, it is important to check the child support guidelines in your state to determine how support may be calculated in your particular case. http://family.findlaw.com/child-support/state-specific-child-support-information-and-guidelines.html

Below is a listing of what child support may be used for:

Basic Necessities -- Food, Clothing, Shelter

Obviously, children need food, proper clothing, and a safe and comfortable place to live. At a minimum, child support may be used to purchase groceries, snacks, beverages, and other food items. It may also be used to purchase shoes, jackets, and appropriate clothing. Also, child support may be used to pay for the child's related shelter costs, such as mortgage or rent, lighting, telephone, and utility bills.

Medical Care

Children need basic medical care. Most states require divorced or separated parents to carry some form of health insurance for their child. Typically, the parent with better employee-covered benefits will be required to carry the medical, dental and/or vision insurance plan.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Child support may be used to pay for uninsured or "extraordinary" medical expenses. "Extraordinary" medical expenses may include any out-of-pocket medical costs that exceed the cost of a basic health care insurance plan, including co-pays, deductibles, and surgery costs. In many circumstances, child support may be used to cover these and other expenses, such as dental braces, casts, eyeglasses, and other special health care costs (especially if a child has pre-existing special medical needs). Most states require both parents to split the cost of additional medical care (depending on their state's guidelines).

Educational Fees (School Fees, Supplies, and Related Costs)

Education is not free, even if a child is attending a public school. There are several fees needed to support school-aged children. Therefore, child support may be used to pay for many school-related needs, such as school clothes/uniforms, tuition fees, textbooks, lunch money, and private tutors, if necessary.

Childcare

If one or both parents are unable to care for their child due to work-related issues, then child support may cover the costs of childcare expenses. This may include the cost of daycare services, babysitters, nannies, or other childcare expenses and fees. This may also include the cost of child care during summer months, spring break, and some holidays.

Transportation/Travel

Since children need to get from one place to another safely, child support may be used to pay for basic transportation and travel cost. This may include the cost to maintain a car, including gas fees, car payments, registration, and insurance, or the cost to ride a bus or other form transportation.

Child support may also be used for travel cost -- especially when a child is traveling to visit the noncustodial parent in another area, for instance.

Entertainment

Many courts hold that a child is entitled to basic entertainment, which may include access to computers, television programs, games, and the Internet, among other things. This may also include visits to a movie theatre, amusement parks, camping trips, and other outings. Therefore, child support may be used for a child's age-appropriate entertainment desires, as agreed upon between the parents.

Extracurricular Activities -- Summer Camps, Sports Activities and More

Child support may be used to pay for a child's extracurricular activities -- typically those that fall outside of regular school hours. This may include after-school programs/classes, summer camp, sports activities, clubs (for example, Girl Scouts), and other non-school related activities.

College Expenses

In some instances, child support may be used to pay for a child's college expenses. Many states reason that a child's education should not suffer because of their parents' divorce or separation. These states will typically require a noncustodial parent to contribute to the cost of college, even after the child has reached the age of majority, if the child is attending full-time and has not yet graduated.

Courts will factor the essential financial and support needs of a child, and reflect those needs in a child support order. If a child's needs change, or if there is a significant change in a parent's circumstances, however, it may be necessary for a parent to file for a modification of existing child support, or contact a child support lawyer in their area.

Source: www.findlaw.com

 

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