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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

Origination fee. A charge by the lender for granting and processing a new mortgage loan.

Q: What Are Some of the Legal Considerations Relative to Remodeling?

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

A: There are many, including those surrounding zoning, permits, variances, and building codes. All of these regulations are the government’s way of controlling the physical development of land and public-safety standards for such things as building design, construction, alteration, repair or demolition. The regulations vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next and can result in fines or serious consequences. There are also often engineering approvals and requirements related to grading, site drainage, utility connections, wells and septics, and sometimes fire regulations. Another area of legal considerations involves contractual issues tied to responsibilities for permits and approvals, code and regulations compliance, insurance, financing, and warranties. If construction financing is to be provided by a lender, there will often be requirements relative to progress inspections, construction draws, lien waivers, title insurance, holdbacks, etc. It may be worthwhile to hire an attorney to provide guidance on these issues and to assure the completeness and fairness of the remodeling contract.

7 Cheap Ways to Bring Spring Home

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

The spring season seems to bring with it an urge to freshen our surroundings. But it may not take a full interior paint job or a roomful of new furniture to bring the essence of spring into your home.

Home and garden specialists suggest seven quick and inexpensive ways to brighten every room of your home:

  • Start with fresh fruit and flowers – Lift anyone’s mood by placing a clear glass vase on your dining room table, filled with lemons, tangerines, water and a moderate-sized bouquet of fresh spring flowers.

  • Set a spring-like table – Invest in a new set of everyday dishes in a bright, pleasing color or pattern. Add complementary placemats and napkins to complete the fresh, new look.

  • Give the kitchen new pop – Renew worn cabinets with a coat of off-white paint and a new set of eye-catching hardware. Replace the stand-by teapot on the stove with a new one in an eye-popping color.

  • Freshen the boudoir – Replace your heavy winter quilt or spread with a new, white duvet. Swap out the heavy drapes for sheers that let in the sunshine.

  • Accent one wall – You may not need to paint the whole room, but think about bringing new life to the living or dining room by painting one wall a bright, happy color as accent.

  • Change out accessories – You may be amazed at how much a few new lampshades, colorful pillows, and/or new picture frames can change the look of a room. Add a matching vase here and there, or new decorative pieces on the mantel or coffee table, to bring your living space into spring.

  • Put splash in the bath – A pretty pedestal sink, or a trendy bowl or vessel sink in a bold, new color, can bring your bathroom up to date. Make it spring-like by papering one wall in a pleasing print or switching out the towels and/or shower curtain to new ones with a bold, new look.


Two Must-Have features to Add to your Backyard This Summer

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

(BPT)—Is your backyard ready for bliss this summer? You probably look forward to spending as much time outdoors as possible during warmer months. But do you really have everything you need to ensure you can enjoy your outdoor living space from dawn to dusk - and beyond?

Here are three must-have backyard features that can keep your outdoor time comfortable, enjoyable and luxurious, no matter the time of day or night:


You don't go to bed when the sun goes down, and your outdoor fun doesn't have to end when night arrives. Strategically placed lighting can help keep your outdoor living space safe and inviting well into the evening. When choosing lights for your backyard, deck or patio, choose options specifically designed for outdoor use. Indoor lights can't hold up to the weather outdoors, and could pose a safety risk.

The American Lighting Association recommends using low-voltage mini lights, concealed in trees, under steps, railings or benches to light decks, porches and patios. You can also install spotlights in nearby trees and point the illumination toward your outdoor living space. Solar lights are also a great option for outdoors, since they cost nothing to operate and create a softer light than traditional electric bulbs.

Fire pit

Even on hot summer nights there's something enchanting about a fire pit in your outdoor environment. Whether you opt to have something built in to your patio or deck, or purchase something portable from your local garden or home improvement store, a fire pit or chiminea can add both ambiance and warmth to your outdoor environment. You can find a size and style to fit your outdoor design and needs, whether you choose a ceramic chiminea for roasting marshmallows or a large, CobraCo hand-hammered copper fire pit tub to create warmth and ambiance.

When choosing a fire element for your backyard, keep in mind the importance of scale. Your fire pit should be big enough to provide heat, light and ambiance, but not so large it overwhelms the space. Keep flames away from combustible surfaces, like furniture or stored wood, and never leave your fire unattended, especially when there are small children or animals around. Finally, make sure you always have a fire extinguisher on hand when using a fire pit, and follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

Your outdoor fun can go all day long - and well into the night - when you prep your backyard with the right tools and features to maximize comfort and enjoyment.



Word of the Day

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

Promissory note.  A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.  

Q: What Should I Know about Mechanics’ Liens?

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

A:  A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” against your property that provides contractors and suppliers legal recourse to assure payment for services.  The liens vary from state to state and allow for a cloud on the title of your property and foreclosure action.  Also, if you paid the contractor, but he failed to pay the subcontractors and laborers – who do not have a contract with you – then the workers may file a mechanic's lien on your home.  This could result in a double payment by you for the same job.  You can protect yourself from unwarranted liens by selecting your contractor carefully and managing your construction project responsibly.  Also, most construction lenders will specify a payment distribution process that involves the securing of lien waivers.  The remodeling contract should address this as well, assuring that the general contractor is responsible for all payments as well as any costs required to remedy lien disputes that may arise.  


A Seller's Guide to Multiple Offers

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

With the real estate heating up for spring, if you're selling your home, you could find yourself in the position of receiving multiple offers on your house in a short span of time – even within one day. So, with the ball in your court, how do you decide which offer is most attractive to you?

If you are considering multiple offers, the first thing your real estate agent may want to do is to make it clear to all parties that you have or expect several offers, and that all prospective buyers should be putting forward their "best offer." Although you and your agent are under no obligation to disclose the existence of multiple offers, it will probably benefit you as negotiations begin. Since you and your agent are the only party with visibility to all of the offers, you have the upper hand – each prospective buyer, without visibility to the terms of competing offers, will be forced to put forth the very best that he or she can manage in the hope of winning the sale.

As you peruse the terms offered, here are a few things to think about that may make some of the offers more attractive than others:

• Price.
At first glance, it seems intuitive that you would want to accept the offer for the greatest amount of money for your house. If you have multiple offers in front of you, you may be tempted to take the highest offer. And while a fair price is a large part of what makes an offer attractive, there are some additional terms that you should consider as well.

• Closing date.
When do you want the sale to close? If you are hoping for a quick close to the sale so that you can get into a new home or just to ensure that the sale is finalized and there are no surprises, you should take into consideration what each buyer is offering in terms of the closing and possession dates. Conversely, if you need to stay in your home a while longer while you are waiting on a new home or because you want to finish out a school year, it might be wise to accept a bid that will allow you to move out at a later date. You may want to also state which closing date you want, up front so that offers come in with dates that are attractive to you.

• Buyer's financing.
If you are serious about accepting an offer, you're going to want to make sure that the sale will actually go through. Your buyer's financing is of paramount importance; if a buyer is a risk to secure financing, you may want to look elsewhere. How can you determine this? Always consider a pre-approval letter over a mere pre-qualification. Pre-approval suggests a very good bet that the buyer's lender will extend financing based on a completed assessment of the buyer's risk. A buyer who is willing to put down a large amount of earnest money should also be seen as serious about the offer they are making.

• Other contingencies
. You will want to examine the contingencies listed in each buyer's offer. An offer contingent upon the buyer selling an existing home is far less attractive than an offer with no such contingency. Aside from a regular home inspection, a buyer may also request additional inspections for pests, air quality, asbestos, and other features of the property. A buyer with fewer of these requests may be more attractive to you than a buyer whose purchase is contingent upon multiple inspections.

Although it may seem like there is a lot to consider when comparing multiple offers, it's an enviable position to be in. The sluggish real estate market of the past few years has meant that fewer sellers have seen concurrent multiple offers. If you are fortunate enough to end up with multiple offers to choose from, consult your real estate agent and discuss which offer best fits your needs.

4 Jobs Doomed to Extinction – How Yours Can Survive

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

As automation becomes more sophisticated, and manufacturers take jobs overseas, some commonplace American jobs seem to be heading toward extinction. Employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) point to five occupations in which jobs are already scarce – along with pointers on using your job experience to gain a foothold in other occupations:

Postal clerks/carriers – The U.S. Postal Service is losing business to private delivery companies and the Internet. With plans to drop Saturday deliveries, USPS job prospects become even dimmer. But while demand for mail clerks is growing outside the postal service, those jobs pay about half of what the post office does. A better bet, says the BLS, is to become a shipping and receiving clerk for a government agency. Some of the duties are similar, and the average pay is about $45,000 a year.

Switchboard operator/ receptionist – Automated answering services are rapidly replacing people who answer the phone for businesses. The BLS suggests alternative careers as customer service reps or, if you would rather do the dialing, as bill collectors- who have a promising future and median annual pay of $31,920.

Semiconductor processors – These workers, who oversee the production of microchips, are being replaced by more efficient robots – and some of these jobs are leaving American shores. The BLS suggests becoming an electronic engineering technician. The position typically requires an associate's degree, as well as manual dexterity, critical-thinking skills and a propensity for math and science. But demand for electronic engineering technicians is projected to grow, with more opportunities arising in the computer systems design services industry.

Floral designers – Sadly, job prospects are wilting as consumers buy fresh-cut flowers from grocery stores instead of florists. The BLS suggests applying your eye for design to merchandise displays inside shops, in store windows and at trade shows. You'd be in higher demand and have the opportunity for higher pay (up to $33,850 a year.)


What’s Trending This Spring Travel Season

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

(BPT) - Now that spring has sprung, drivers will be hitting the road in earnest to enjoy the warmer weather. In fact, according to Hankook Tire's latest Quarterly Gauge Index, 56 percent of Americans are planning to take a road trip that involves driving 50 miles or more. On average, they estimate they will drive 1,025 miles. What is it about spring - besides the obvious pleasurable weather - that has so many people hitting the road?

Family time:
The same survey found that one third of Americans will consider taking a road trip for family reunions. Not only is the warmer weather ideal for driving, it is perfect for picnics, barbecues and other fun outdoor activities. Mother's Day and Father's Day are also on the horizon. Hankook Tire's Gauge Index found that those who drive to their mother's houses to celebrate Mother's Day drive an average of 320 miles, and those who drive to their father's houses to celebrate Father's Day drive an average of 355 miles.

Music concerts and festivals: The sounds of birds chirping aren't the only tunes filling the spring skies. From Coachella to the New Orleans Jazz Festival to Bonnaroo, music fans will rack up the miles to jam with their favorite artists.

Sporting events: With America's favorite pastime in full swing, many people will be traveling to their local ballparks to take in all the action. But why stop there? Avid fans also pack up and follow their teams to opponents' stadiums.

There is no shortage of reasons for taking a drive this spring, but before cruising away you will want to take care of a few items.

  • Spring cleaning - Carry your spring cleaning efforts to your vehicle and make sure it is tidy before heading out. Hankook Tire found out that 49 percent of American drivers polled stated they plan to clean their cars before their closets this spring, compared to 32 percent who said they will first clean their closets. The survey also uncovered that not all Americans share a spring cleaning mindset. Nineteen percent do not intend to clean their cars or their closets.
  • Check that tire pressure - Drivers should check tire pressure at least once a month to ensure proper inflation. When tires are underinflated, they wear out faster, are less efficient and waste energy and fuel. Properly inflated tires save you money at the pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires
  • Avoid potholes - Potholes are prevalent in the spring, when temperatures rise and high moisture levels cause sinkholes. Try not to drive directly over potholes to mitigate any damage to your tires.-
  • Be prepared for any weather - Spring isn't all sunshine, as rain is often sprinkled into weather forecasts. Tires like the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 have an advanced silica tread compound for improved traction in both wet and dry conditions. They also offer lower rolling resistance, delivering improved efficiency and fuel savings by minimizing wasted energy.

Q: What Are Allowances and What Should I Know about Them When Planning with a Remodeling Contractor?

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

A: Rather than price specific products or materials, many contractors prefer to use product allowances, an amount included in the contract to be used toward the purchase of these products and materials as they are selected by the consumer. Typical categories where allowances might be used include flooring, cabinets, and lighting fixtures. Allowances allow homeowners more time to finalize exact selections as the project progresses, and they can simplify the cost control process. The disadvantage, however, is that the cost of final selections can easily exceed the amount of money allowed, resulting in significant extra charges to the homeowner. Shop for each allowance category before you finalize the allowance amounts provided in the contract. This way, you can budget for additional funds or adjust allowances to better reflect the actual monies required.

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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