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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

Make Long-Term Care Plans before They Are Needed

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.

Housing
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.

Primary Care
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.

Family Care
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.

Paid Care
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.

Source: www.longtermcare.gov.

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Word of the Day

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.

 

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Q: Is There Anything I Should Not Tell My Agent?

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.

 

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Tips to Simplify Your Kitchen Revamp

July 16, 2013 3:34 pm

PERKASIE, PA, Jul 16, 2013—Whether you're looking to sell your home, are trying to fix up a newly purchased one, or are simply aiming for your dream cooking space, redoing your kitchen is a lot of work. The kitchen has more appliances and fixtures than any other room in the house, and it takes a considerable amount of time, work, money and planning to power though a successful kitchen revamp. Below, Thomas Skiffington, Real Estate Professional of RE/MAX 440 & RE/MAX Central offers tips to simplify your kitchen remodel,

Appliances
It is tempting to discard existing appliances when you build new cabinets around them. Rethink the idea. If the appliances are workable, keep them – and save yourself from $1,000 to $5,000, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Fixtures
If possible, resist the urge to move your stove to the other side of the room, or swap the location of your sink. “Consider keeping the present location of major fixtures, appliances and utilities relative to the plumbing, gas and electrical outlets,” says Skiffington. Rearranging plumbing, wiring and jacks can be very expensive.

Cabinets
Refacing existing cabinets can reduce the cost of your kitchen remodel considerably and eliminate the need for new flooring, countertops and appliances. If you must get new cabinets, options such as spice racks and slide out wire baskets can be added later. Also, install cabinets without soffits to decrease labor cost; and avoid trim moldings, or use a simple trim. If you must have a new wood trim to match the new cabinets, order pre-finished trim to decrease labor cost; avoid having the painting or staining done on-site.

Stay Neutral

“If you're revamping your home for a sale, you probably want to choose neutral colors for fixtures, appliances and laminates,” says Skiffington.

Refinish the Floor
Depending on your home, Skiffington notes that you may be able to avoid the need for a new floor by sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor that may be underneath the existing vinyl flooring.

For more information on remodeling your home, please contact RE/MAX 440 & RE/MAX Central at tskiffington@remax440.com, 12154537653, or RE/MAX 440 & RE/MAX Central.

Tom Skiffington works with his team members on a daily basis to bring success to all his sellers and buyers in culminating closed transactions in the least amount of time at the best possible price. His philosophy -- "because excellent service is so important, my team of real estate specialists and the RE/MAX support staff assist me with each and every real estate transaction. From the minute you hire me as your Realtor, my partners help me to find you a new home or to sell your present home. My team is committed to provide you with the best service in the industry. Right through closing, we will work hard for you. To us, you are Number One!" Introducing Tom's Team Members -- Carol Copelin, Buyer Agent for the Skiffington Team. When you decide to purchase a home with the Skiffington Team, Carol will make sure you have all the necessary information to view and see homes as quickly as possible. She will also coordinate all the paperwork to make sure your offer is presented properly. Her expertise is extraordinary and you can expect courteous professional service. In her spare time, Carol enjoys reading a good book and traveling. Josh Moser, Listing Manager for the Skiffington Team. When you decide to put your home on the market, Josh will be there with you every step of the way helping you feel confident with the process and making decisions in this goal, a Hassle Free accomplishment. With Josh on your side you can't go wrong. His hobbies include reading, fitness and snowboarding. Tom also makes his moving truck available to clients -- Below are some of the awards Tom has achieved. Accomplishments CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, E-Pro, CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist), SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist), RECS (Real Estate Cyberspace Society) Inducted into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Chairman's Club Platinum Club 100% Club and various other awards Tom has consistently exceeded 150 transactions per year for the last several years Licensed in 1988 Continuing Education Certified ECOBroker Energy Advantage Certified ECOBroker Environmental Advantage Certified ECOBroker Green Market Advantage Areas of Specialization Tom specializes in representing buyers and sellers alike in both residential and commercial sales in Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh Counties. Special Interests/Hobbies Tom's hobbies include computer technology and communications.
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Move to Nationwide Dynamic Building Codes Gaining Traction

July 14, 2013 3:01 am

I have been following developments related to new dynamic building codes, as a way of moving new home building and retrofitting toward peak energy efficiency practices.

The Buildings Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) recently released its 2012 Annual Report. With the creation of the National Energy Codes Collaborative, groups have ensured the future success of code adoption by maintaining strong lines of communication and coordination among the many entities working to advance dynamic building energy codes, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

It took no fewer than eight organizations to create this informal coalition to ensure better coordination and communication by sharing technical resources, knowledge, and best practices.

From January 2012 to January 2013, the number of states adopting the 2009 standards for residential construction grew from 22 to 28. BCAP staff will be continuing efforts to add more 2009 code adoptions in 2013, while assisting several states that are considering adoption of the most recent 2012 codes.

BCAP will also continue to build its new strategic direction by working with its partners to create practical solutions addressing barriers to energy code adoption and compliance.  

Those 2013 initiatives include:

  • The application of energy codes in existing buildings;
  • Raising energy code compliance rates through outreach to design professionals, code officials, and consumers to shape collective and holistic efforts towards building energy efficiency;
  • Expanding collaborative and comprehensive partnerships with diverse stakeholders;
  • Sharing these visions and resources with a wider audience through OCEAN and showing that energy codes improve building energy efficiency when stakeholders move forward together.

By continuing to hone its means of identifying Energy Star homes and products, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed the transition to new, more rigorous requirements for homes to earn the Energy Star label.

Homes certified under the new requirements are at least 15 percent more efficient than those built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and include additional energy–saving features to deliver a performance advantage of up to 30 percent compared to typical new homes.

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Move to Nationwide Dynamic Building Codes Gaining Traction

July 14, 2013 3:01 am

I have been following developments related to new dynamic building codes, as a way of moving new home building and retrofitting toward peak energy efficiency practices.

The Buildings Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) recently released its 2012 Annual Report. With the creation of the National Energy Codes Collaborative, groups have ensured the future success of code adoption by maintaining strong lines of communication and coordination among the many entities working to advance dynamic building energy codes, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

It took no fewer than eight organizations to create this informal coalition to ensure better coordination and communication by sharing technical resources, knowledge, and best practices.

From January 2012 to January 2013, the number of states adopting the 2009 standards for residential construction grew from 22 to 28. BCAP staff will be continuing efforts to add more 2009 code adoptions in 2013, while assisting several states that are considering adoption of the most recent 2012 codes.

BCAP will also continue to build its new strategic direction by working with its partners to create practical solutions addressing barriers to energy code adoption and compliance.  

Those 2013 initiatives include:

  • The application of energy codes in existing buildings;
  • Raising energy code compliance rates through outreach to design professionals, code officials, and consumers to shape collective and holistic efforts towards building energy efficiency;
  • Expanding collaborative and comprehensive partnerships with diverse stakeholders;
  • Sharing these visions and resources with a wider audience through OCEAN and showing that energy codes improve building energy efficiency when stakeholders move forward together.

By continuing to hone its means of identifying Energy Star homes and products, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed the transition to new, more rigorous requirements for homes to earn the Energy Star label.

Homes certified under the new requirements are at least 15 percent more efficient than those built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and include additional energy–saving features to deliver a performance advantage of up to 30 percent compared to typical new homes.

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Green Ways to Make Summer Sun Work for You

July 14, 2013 3:01 am

(BPT)—When summer sun has you slathering on sunscreen and retreating indoors to air-conditioned rooms, it's easy to forget the winter doldrums that made you eagerly anticipate sunshine and warm temperatures. Winter snow and dreary days seem far away, and you find yourself craving a respite from too much sun.

But all that summer sun can work in your favor. From powering your hot water heater or fresh air skylight to saving money by running your clothes dryer less, here are a few ways you can put the sun to work for you this summer.

Solar water heating

Replacing an old water heater proactively is a good idea for a number of reasons. First, if it's older, it's probably not as energy efficient as newer models. And, when hot water heaters die, they can do so spectacularly, flooding the room where they're housed and leaving your family without the water they need to shower off summer sweat and keep clothes and dishes clean.

Consider replacing your current water heater with a solar water heating system. While such systems may cost more to purchase and install than a conventional one, various federal and state tax credits and other green product incentives mitigate those costs. Plus, solar hot water systems reduce energy costs in the long run.

"The cost of a solar water heating system will vary depending on the size of the home and the volume of water you need to heat," says Ross Vandermark of Velux America, marketers of solar-powered fresh air skylights and solar water heating systems. "On average, however, they can cut your water heating bills by 50 to 80 percent, which is pretty impressive when you consider that the U.S. Department of Energy says water heating can account for up to 25 percent of a home's energy consumption."

Solar-powered fresh air skylight

You can also save money and improve your indoor air quality by opting for a solar-powered fresh air skylight. Energy efficient solar powered skylights and accessories like solar powered skylight blinds, which can increase energy efficiency by another 45 percent, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as is the installation cost.

Energy Star-qualified, no leak solar-powered fresh-air skylights improve indoor air quality by allowing excess moisture and unhealthy air to escape your home. They also passively vent hot air that rises to your ceiling in summer, reducing the load on your mechanical cooling systems while reducing your power bill. In rooms where a fresh air skylight isn't an option, tubular skylights like Sun Tunnel products allow light inside, reducing the need for artificial light and brightening areas like hallways, closets, and other interior spaces both large and small.

Clothes drying

Humans have been using solar power to dry clothes for about as long as we've been wearing fabric. Hanging clothes to dry in the sun allows you to trim your electric or gas use (depending on how you power your clothes dryer) as much as $85 a year, plus it reduces the wear clothes experience tumbling in a dryer, the website The Daily Green points out.

The California Energy Commission says on average, it costs 30 to 40 cents per load to dry clothes in an electric machine, and 15 to 20 cents if your dryer runs on gas. By comparison, line drying requires an initial outlay to cover the cost of the line device, and then the sunshine and fresh air are free.

Cooking

Sure you love cooking outdoors, but when summer really heats up, no one wants to slave over a hot grill. Why not use the sun's power to cook food without the need to hover over and watch it? Solar cookers are the answer.

One popular type, box cookers, can accommodate multiple dishes at once and are used in countries around the world where the sun is the most reliable source of energy. They cook at moderate to high temperatures and require less supervision than your gas grill. You can buy one online or build your own - a great family project that can help teach kids about solar power and greener living.

Finally, if you're not ready to learn a whole new way of cooking, why not simply borrow a page from great-grandma's recipe book and use sunlight to brew tea? Just place a few bags of your favorite tea in a glass jar with water (make sure to keep the tags and strings hanging over the rim of the jar), cap the jar and place it in the sun until the tea steeps to your desire flavor level.

 

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Word of the Day

July 14, 2013 3:01 am

Point.  Fee charged by a lender to get additional revenue over the interest rate.  A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.

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Q: What is the first step to buying a home?

July 14, 2013 3:01 am

A: Make sure you are ready – psychologically and financially. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have steady income?  Is my debt lower than my total income?  Do I have enough money to pay for the down payment and closing costs? Am I working hard enough to improve bad credit?

A house needs constant care and attention. Also ask yourself if your budget will allow for unexpected repairs and upkeep.  Once you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you are several steps ahead of the game and that much closer to becoming a homeowner.  

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Know The Facts, Don't Get Trapped In A 'Pocket' Listing

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

With the tight availability of homes for sale, and the recent uptick in home values, those searching for a first or new place to live are facing a lot of challenges. One of the ways savvy prospects may try to tap into available home inventory is through so-called "pocket listings" - basically off-MLS listings.

Recently, both a California and a Florida REALTORS® association has distributed warnings or advisories about these marketing tactics.

While they are not illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to the home seller and follows the rules, CAR says pocket listings “may not be in the best interest of the property owner — particularly if a client does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS.”

Since an MLS exposes a home to areas far and wide, it creates competition and can maximize profit for the seller. However, some sellers don’t want that kind of exposure, and they see a bigger advantage in keeping their home out of the MLS.

The Florida REALTORS® memo states that a broker could face allegations that their failure to put the property in the MLS deprived the seller the ability to attract the highest and best price for their property.

Florida REALTORS®’ Vice President and General Counsel Margy Grant says, “In some cases, a non-MLS listing could lead to allegations of discrimination. REALTORS® would turn down a seller who wants to withhold a listing from MLS in order to keep a specific race or other protected class out of his neighborhood. However, the fair housing laws go a step further, and these listings could break the law even if discrimination isn’t intended.”

Since a non-MLS listing is marketed to a private and usually small group, the makeup of that group becomes important. If the makeup of the listing group tends to mirror the makeup of the neighborhood, it could appear to perpetuate discrimination without meaning to do so.

So if you are utilizing pocket listings as a seller, the Florida association warns you to be careful because multiple pocket listings in a single neighborhood could be seen as a way to discriminate without being obvious.

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440 - PERKASIE

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