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
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
(Family Features)--Vacations should be filled with worry-free days and endless fun, whether you're zip-lining through the jungle or sunbathing on the beach. Navigating unknown territories, however, can cause unwarranted stress if you're not prepared. As you embark on your perfect getaway, consider these quick tips to ensure that it's a trip to remember, for the right reasons.
Stay Energized. Don't let the journey to your destination dampen the experience and start your dream trip on the wrong foot. Avoid fatigue caused by early flights and long drives by getting at least eight hours of sleep the night before your departure and don't succumb to stress-ridden packing procrastination. While traveling, easy access to sensible snacks, such as string cheese and nuts can keep your energy levels up. For long flights and hotel stays, consider sticking ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help combat distracting noises and bright lights that may detract from a restful sleep.
Stay Connected. Your smartphone, tablet and other portable devices keep you connected and make it easier to engage with the culture and exciting attractions that come with a new destination. Whether you're scouting the hottest restaurants, sourcing directions back to your hotel or keeping up with loved ones at home, being able to access your trusted devices is a must. Don't waste precious sightseeing time searching for outlets. Instead, recharge your devices on-the-go with the Motorola P4000 Universal Portable Power Pack. The lightweight and super slim device fits easily into a pocket or purse. It provides up to two full phone charges, plus it's compatible with phones by all manufacturers.
Stay Organized. Avoid spending aimless time digging through your belongings looking for your favorite bathing suit, when you could be enjoying the waves and a beautiful sunset. To stay organized while living out of your luggage, consider investing in a suitcase or duffel bag with multiple zipped compartments designed to house small, hard-to-locate items. Clear toiletry bags are also convenient, and allow you to quickly find your everyday necessities while on the road.
Stay Focused on Fun. It's easy to run out of time when you're exploring a new place. Carve out time for your top priorities by making a pre-trip list of must-do activities. Utilize your hotel concierge, resort guide books and online trip planning websites to help create your perfect itinerary and ensure you get the chance to enjoy it all.
Regardless of your destination, with some planning and essential tools, your vacation will be everything you dreamed of and leave you yearning for your next journey.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
Loan servicing. Task of collecting monthly payments, handling insurance and tax impounds, delinquencies, early payoffs, and mortgage releases.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
A: Yes. Two very popular programs offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) include the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan and the Section 203(k) Program.
In the first program, HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family house to cover alterations, repairs, and site improvements. The latter program, which also insures mortgage loans, is HUD’s primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single-family homes.
Loans are also available from the Department of Veteran Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans. The Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan program, funded by the Agriculture Department, offers low-rate loans to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs.
Funds are also available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards. The federal government isn’t alone in its efforts to provide assistance. Local and state governments offer special home improvement programs. Contact your governor or mayor’s office for more details.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, three out of four domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes. And, in 2012, planned travel spiked by 61 percent between May and October as the summer months and warmer weather hit the nation.
To help take the guesswork and stress out of trip planning this travel season, below are several trips to consider, courtesy of LiveLifeLocal:
The Internet is the best traveler's guide out there. An unplanned adventure can bring a sense of excitement to summer travel plans. But, when heading on vacation with a family or a large group, spontaneity isn't always an option. Online resources can make it easy to plan a full itinerary for your trip – whether it's a road trip across country or a day trip to a local town.
Plan ahead and pack smart. Packing for an extended trip can quickly take the joy out of traveling. Avoid this stress by packing compact. Other tips like using vacuum bags to conserve space or packing multipurpose items, such as a sleeping bag that works as a picnic blanket, can help eliminate clutter.
Don't let gas costs limit destination desires. The drive can be just as fun as the destination itself when it comes to summer road trips. Simple tips for how to save at the pump, like fueling up in larger cities and leveraging the cruise control, can help limit gas expenses and enable travelers to take advantage of the open road.
"With kids out of school for the summer, we see families and individuals alike out traveling and experiencing new events now more than ever," says Eric Trott vice president of marketing, Safeco Insurance. "Regardless of the vehicle you're traveling in, summer is the time to explore a new city or become a tourist in your own town. LiveLifeLocal is geared directly towards making that possible with inspiration of where to go and tips on how to get there."
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
(BPT) - Let's face it - moving is hard. Along with the stress of leaving a familiar place and adapting to new surroundings, moving means packing, loading, transporting, unloading and unpacking everything you own - as well as everything you forgot you owned.
While relocation may never be completely carefree, there are ways to ease the anxiety. A well-thought-out approach to boxing up belongings can help simplify the moving process and bring you one step closer to making your new house a home.
Box it up. To be prepared for packing, seek out a large quantity of clean, sturdy containers in a variety of shapes and sizes. When selecting boxes, you may choose to purchase new ones, helping to ensure they can withstand the rigors of moving. You can also purchase dividers, which come in handy for packing glasses and other small, fragile items. No matter what you are using, remember not to over-pack. As a general rule, heavier items should be placed into smaller boxes to avoid too much strain on the box (and your back).
Leave it. The easiest packing is no packing at all. Moving is the perfect time to clear the clutter out of your life. Before boxing up your belongings, decide what to keep. Clothing and housewares in good shape can be donated, and broken or unused old items can be tossed or given to someone who can repurpose them.
Mind the supplies. The right tools can go a long way toward easing the moving process. Pick up plenty of quality wrapping material, like Bubble Wrap Brand cushioning, as well as strong packaging tape to help make boxing up your belongings a painless process. Don't get caught up in common frustrations that cause stress and waste time, such as tape that constantly tear or splits or struggling to find the tape end. Choose a quality tape, like Duck brand EZ Start packaging tape (packagingtape.com), for your moving needs; the brand's Frustration Free special release technology ensures that you never lose the tape end. And EZ Start unrolls smoothly and easily, without splitting or tearing.
Organize and prioritize. Pack from room to room and label boxes based on box contents, where boxes will be unpacked in the new location and priority. EZ Start packaging tape provides a solution here, too - with different prints to choose from, boxes can be organized and prioritized according to the particular design used.
Get help. Be organized to help the entire moving day run smoothly, so that your volunteers aren't waiting around for a job to do. Providing tasty snacks and drinks is a thoughtful way to say thank you, as are gift cards for coffee, movie theaters or their favorite stores.
Pack a survival kit. Moving can be exhausting, and an all-day move may not wrap up until late in the evening. Don't spend your first night in your new home unpacking. Instead, pack a survival kit or an "Open Me First" box with essentials to get you through that first night. Make sure to include some fun items, such as your favorite movie or a batch of brownies, to reward yourself for a hard day's work.
Moving day may never rival a beach vacation, but these simple tips can make it a lot less stressful and help you enjoy your new home faster and easier.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
I was somewhat shocked to discover a recent Pew survey showing about half of homeowners who might qualify to take a mortgage deduction on their federal income tax, chose not to do it.
According to the survey, one of the largest tax expenditures in the U.S. tax code is the deduction for home mortgage interest. Tax filers who own a home and itemize their deductions are allowed to subtract interest paid on mortgage debt from their income.
The report states that before the onset of the housing crisis and the beginning of the Great Recession, the total mortgage interest deducted by tax filers hit its peak in 2007, resulting in $543 billion in deductions and roughly $85 billion in forgone revenue.
But between 2007 and 2010, the total deduction amount fell 28 percent, and the number of claims declined by 12 percent. The report also shows that the geographic distribution of this tax expenditure generally is skewed toward areas with relatively high incomes and property values.
The report, for the first time, uses detailed ZIP-code-level data from the Internal Revenue Service to show that the distribution of the deduction appears even more skewed at the metropolitan area level, with tax filers in and around major metropolitan areas generally claiming the deduction at much higher rates and greater average amounts than filers in less-populous areas.
Other factors influencing the distribution, including differences in housing turnover frequency and the proportion of tax filers living in rental housing.
With changes to tax expenditures under consideration, the Pew study poses that data showing the current geographic distribution of the mortgage interest deduction should initiate informed discussion about how changes to tax policy would affect home owners in individual states.
Any modification to the deduction — such as eliminating it, capping itemized deductions generally, limiting deductions to mortgage interest paid for first homes, or replacing the deduction with a credit — would likely alter the distribution of this federal tax expenditure across geographic areas.
Depending on how any changes are structured, federal taxes could increase in some areas and decrease in others. So the issue of home mortgage deductions may be a topic worth following whether you are taking advantage of the tax benefit or not.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
A: Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most loans with less than a 20 percent down payment. They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default. They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. PMI guarantees the lender will not lose money if this happens and a foreclosure is necessary.
A growing number of private lenders, however, are loosening up their requirements for low-down payment loans. In fact, the Homeowners Protection Act states that PMI must be dropped on any loan originated after July 29, 1999. Borrowers can request that PMI be canceled when they pay down the principal balance on their mortgage loans to 80 percent of the purchase price. Lenders must automatically cancel PMI when the balance hits 78 percent.
June 3, 2013 6:12 pm
Listing. Contract used for hiring a real estate agent to sell a piece of property. Also a piece of property that is for sale.
May 29, 2013 5:36 pm
The warmer weather has us all heading outside to soak up the sun, but it’s also a good reminder to take care of some basic things around your house. Here are the top five home maintenance tips for the warmer months, from Pillar To Post.
Inspect air-conditioners: If you have central air, you’ll want to clean the exterior condenser unit and all of its components, removing debris and trimming back any plants that are growing near it. You should also rinse down the interior of the unit, straighten out bent fins and lubricate the motor. You’ll also want to clean or change the air filters, inspect the drain line for debris and make sure all hoses fit securely. You can do this all yourself with guidance from the unit’s owners’ manual or call in a professional. If you have window units, the job is a little bit easier. You simply have to install the units and clean the filters. This is also a good time to deep clean all the fans and ceiling fans in your home.
Mulch: adding a layer of mulch to gardens and other non-grassy areas helps prevent weeds. It also helps the soil to hold moisture and nutrients during the warmer months, giving your plants a better chance of growing.
Inspect for leaks: Checking exterior hoses and faucets for leaks can lead to big savings. Even a small leak can cost big bucks. Many small leaks can be fixed with a piece of electrical tape. You’ll want to call in an expert for larger leaks.
Clean siding: Avoid streaks by applying the cleaner starting at the bottom and working your way up and rinsing from the top down. Cleaning your home’s siding yearly can help prevent mold, mildew and staining. It also keeps it looking brand new, adding value to your home.
Inspect your crawlspace: check for signs of termites and moisture. Even floors that appear dry can be damp. Dampness can cause damage to the entire house. If you have a dirt floor, installing a vapor barrier is recommended. If you have concrete, sealing it is ideal. This annual check is also a great time to check sewer lines, particularly beneath toilets and sinks, for evidence of leaks.
May 29, 2013 5:36 pm
Now is the time many people are planning summertime get togethers, so I wanted to pass on a few ideas about hosting an environmentally friendly backyard barbecue, graduation ceremony, wedding, or when enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.
While balloons are a popular celebrating tribute, do not release helium balloons into the air. In Connecticut, for example, it is illegal for any person or any group to intentionally release 10 or more helium balloons per day.
A summer breeze can transport balloons released in inland areas all the way to Long Island Sound or any adjacent water body. Once in the water, deflated balloons – just like plastic bags and other floating plastic garbage – look like food.
When marine animals eat the floating plastic, their digestive systems become blocked. The “Balloons Blow... Don’t Let Them Go” website (balloonsblow.org) is a resource for environmentally friendly alternatives, and ways to spread the word about balloons.
Other green summer event tips include:
- Using reusable plates, cups and cutlery if possible. If you use disposable plates or napkins, look for those made from recycled content, and avoid polystyrene foam products.
- "Compostable" utensils and plates are only “greener” if you have made arrangements for composting them. For light snacks, try to serve "finger food" or food that can be served with minimal plates and utensils.
- Use cloth or reusable tablecloths. These can be rented along with tables and other event supplies so that you don’t have to buy a lot of items unnecessarily.
- Serve drinks from pitchers or bottles rather than individual drink bottles.
- Serve locally grown foods whenever possible. It is possible to find many different fruits and vegetables, cheeses, breads, dips, beers and wines. Check with your state or county Dept. of Agriculture for Local Grown programs.
- Provide separate containers for trash and recycling and have them clearly marked. Make sure trash containers are paired with recycling containers. For some regionalized information on event recycling, go to www.ct.gov/recycle.
- For favors or centerpieces, choose edible or plantable items, which are less likely to end up in the trash. Buy local flowers or plants from farmers markets or farm stands, or, for real freshness, find a “pick your own” location.