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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
July 16, 2013 3:34 pm
I was facing a dilemma recently about how to secure an air conditioner in a ground floor window. So the two following resources quickly filtered to the top.
Several law enforcement agencies across the country offer similar advice for securing your window units:
1) Install an air conditioner bracket to the outside of the unit so the bracket not only supports the air conditioner, but attaches to the bottom of the unit and the house.
2) Add a sliding window lock to each side of the window frame. Depending on the type, the locks are bolted or screwed in. They prevent burglars from sliding the window up and down.
3) Measure the length from the side of the unit to the wall. Purchase and attach a steel corner brace to each side of the air conditioner. Connect the other end to a secure section of the wall. Use screws or bolts to secure the brackets in place preventing thieves from pushing the air conditioner in or pulling it out.
4) Install a small window sensor alarm. Magnetic controls set above the air conditioner will go off if the unit is moved or the window is opened. The high-pitched noise will alert anyone in the home and likely scare the burglar away.
Ehow.com suggests burglar-proofing your ground floor window unit like this:
- Drill a downward-slanting hole through the upper right corner of your bottom window's trim and into the trim of the upper window where they overlap; repeat on the left side. Insert a long nail or eyebolt in each hole. This locks the window in its current position so a burglar can't slide it up to pull the AC out.
- Drill screws through sections of the AC frame that overlap the window trim to secure the unit in place.
- Install steel window bars across the top and bottom of the unit's exterior. Attach the bars with two 5/16-by-3 inch lag screws on each side. Follow the installation instructions that accompany the security bars to ensure proper attachment and placement.
- Attach a warning sticker noting an AC alarm system to the side of the unit, regardless of whether you actually have an alarm system.
July 16, 2013 3:34 pm
(BPT)—Whether you're driving across the country on your annual family road trip or taking a weekend to enjoy the open road, there are plenty of ways to save on the cost of fuel. Here are some easy tips that will help you save money at the pump and stretch the fuel in your gas tank.
Prepare your vehicle. Regular service can spot problems that reduce gas mileage, such as a broken thermostat, low transmission fluid or even something as simple as a dirty air filter.
Prepare yourself. Select a route ahead of time and study it to know exactly where you're going, and where you'll make stops. ExxonMobil's Fuel Finder app includes real-time maps, driving directions and station information for nearly 10,000 Exxon and Mobil retail locations across the continental U.S.
Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving - speeding, rapid acceleration and quick braking - wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use cruise control to stick to the speed limit on long, straight highways. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed and your car will work a lot harder the faster you go.
Avoid the heat. When possible, try to get on the road early in the morning or later in the evening as cooler temperatures set in. Not only will it help you save on air-conditioning expenses, but air that is cooler is denser and can actually increase power and mileage.
Follow these simple driving tips and you'll see more savings that you can enjoy on your summer vacation. Let's hit the road.
July 16, 2013 3:34 pm
(Family Features)—The best time to make decisions regarding long-term care is well before it's needed. An unexpected illness or injury may force you or a loved one into making hasty decisions.
Long-term care is a set of services and supports for people who are unable to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are self-care activities, such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, and bowel and bladder management. About 70 percent of people turning 65 can expect to need some kind of long-term care services as they age. Experts encourage everyone over age 50 to take the time, while you have it, to research options and make important choices. Long-term care planning means developing a personal strategy now for how things should be handled later when you or a loved one is in need of care. Important considerations include the following:
Staying In Charge
An important part of long-term care planning is outlining how you would like things to be handled. Expressing preferences clearly about how any declines in ADLs should be handled, what financial resources are available, and who should provide needed care is a good way to retain control. All adults over age 18 should execute legal documents that appoint one or more individuals to make health care and financial decisions for them in the event they become unable to make decisions for themselves. Adults who lose the ability to make decisions before executing these documents must have the court system appoint someone to make decisions for them. An attorney can also prepare an advance care directive, which is a set of written instructions detailing what medical care you want or do not want.
Those who would prefer to stay at home for as long as possible should make a plan to do so, and consider making modifications as needed. Home modifications are often intended to allow maximum self-care, and to help avoid a fall. Avoiding a fall can help delay or avoid the need for long-term care. Typical modifications include widening doorways, adding wheelchair ramps, improving lighting, mounting stairway chair lifts, installing medical alert systems and adding handrails or safety grips. An important consideration for anyone planning to stay home is to ensure the bathroom can be used safely. Ideally, your residence should maximize your ability to continue performing ADLs, and help you avoid a fall.
Maintaining a good relationship with a primary care physician is key. Regular check-ups can lead to early diagnosis of any physical, mental or emotional decline. Be honest and open about symptoms, daily habits or changes in appetite. Be sure to have the primary care physician review all medications. Ongoing medication management is an important part of staying healthy and avoiding a fall.
Unpaid family members are the most common source of long-term care help. But, they may not be able to provide all the care you need, or be there every hour of the day. If you intend to rely on family members for long-term care services be sure to involve them in your long-term care planning. Make sure they are willing and able to be caregivers for you.
As part of your long-term care plan, look into caregiving services in your area, including in-home care providers and elder daycare centers. Find out about elder shuttles, meals on wheels and other low-cost services offered in your community. Several types of housing come with support services for people who cannot fully take care of themselves due to aging and/or disability.
Public housing is available for low-to-moderate income elderly and persons with disabilities.
Assisted living homes are group living settings that offer housing in addition to assistance with ADLs and other services, such as meals. Generally, they do not provide medical care.
Continuing care retirement communities provide a range of housing options, including independent living units, assisted living and nursing homes, all on the same campus.
Nursing facilities, or nursing homes, are the most service-intensive housing option, providing skilled nursing services and therapies as needed.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the different types of facilities available in your area. Ask family and friends for any recommendations they may have and take advantage of information available on the Internet.
July 16, 2013 3:34 pm
Value. Market value or present worth. To have value, a property must have utility, scarcity, effective demand, and transferability.
July 16, 2013 3:34 pm
A: Most definitely! Never reveal the top dollar you are willing to pay for a home. It will severely undercut your chance to negotiate the home price with the seller. While an agent may spend a lot of time showing you homes and sharing information, the reality is that she works for the seller, who ultimately pays each and every agent involved in helping to complete the home sale. The seller pays the agents in the form of a commission, a percentage of the proceeds from the home sale. The exception is hiring your own real estate professional, now commonly known as a buyer’s agent or a buyer’s broker.