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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
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

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.
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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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Word of the Day

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

Report of title. Document required before title insurance can be issued. It states the name of the owner, a legal description of the property, and the status of taxes, liens, and anything else that might affect the marketability of the title.
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House Cleaning: Ready for Guests in 20 Minutes or Less

April 29, 2013 5:12 pm

The weather is warming, and that means the summer entertaining season is well on its way. From Mother’s Day brunches and Father’s Day barbecues to bridal showers and graduation parties, people host an endless string of events in their homes during this time. However, busy schedules can often make it difficult to prepare for guests and give the house a thorough cleaning from top to bottom.

To help hosts get their homes in order, home and lifestyle expert Evette Rios to share quick and easy tips that will have a house guest-ready and fresh in no time.

“I love entertaining family and friends in my home, but with my busy work schedule, it’s tough for me to commit to an all-day cleaning marathon,” Rios says. “I want everything to feel fresh and clean without sacrificing too much of my free time.”

Rios advises starting with the following tasks: do the dishes, make the bed, clear clutter, and vacuum and sweep high-traffic areas, like the kitchen and living room, to clear up dirt, crumbs and hair.

“While these tasks may seem very small, they make a huge impact on the home’s appearance and create a sense of order,” Rios says. “It will give the impression that you’ve spent a lot of time and energy on chores when you’ve only used a few minutes of your day.”

Everyday household items can also double as effective tools for cleaning and freshening. Old socks, pantyhose, cotton swabs and vanilla extract are just a few of the items that Rios cites as her must-haves when she needs to tidy up quickly. An old sock is great for dusting blinds; inexpensive pantyhose from the drug store wipe away residue that collects on decorative candles; and a cotton swab dipped in vinegar cleans hard-to-reach grime in window tracks.

“Some of these tips may seem unconventional, but they really work wonders,” Rios says. “One of my favorite tricks to freshen a room is to put a few drops of vanilla extract on an unlit light bulb. When it’s turned on, the bulb heats up the extract and lets off a delicious scent. Guests love that the house smells so sweet!”

Whether entertaining last-minute guests or planning an all-out party, hosts with the most will be able enjoy all their events when the stressful task of rigorous cleaning beforehand is made simpler.

Source: www.bissell.com/freshtips
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Money Matters for the Newly Married

April 29, 2013 5:12 pm

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…money talk? It might not sound romantic, but if you’re newly married and you haven’t gone over financial facts, then it’s time to talk seriously about your money and your financial plan as a couple.

According to a study conducted by Money magazine, 13 percent of couples say they fight about money several times a month. "Worrying about your finances as a single person is hard enough. Adding in another person's financial aspirations and money issues can make it that much more daunting and complicated," says Dean Urbanski, Vice President, National Sales Manager, BMO Harris Financial Advisors, Inc.

"Agreeing on certain points financially can establish guidelines, direct actions and hopefully prevent future disagreements."

What should you do with your money now that you are joined financially? What should be on the list? And, equally important, how should the items on the list be prioritized?

According to Urbanski, the most important things to do in the short-term are the following:
  • Have a conversation. Sit down and have a frank discussion about each other's money history. Don't be ashamed of mistakes made in the past. Commit to not repeating the mistakes again in your new life together.
  • Create a spending plan or budget. Develop a written budget and make sure that each person knows about all of the expenses. In addition, you should decide together how both of you will contribute to household expenses. Even if one person is the primary bill payer, the other spouse needs to have an idea of what's going on.
  • Set goals together. Besides getting a handle on income and expenses, it's wise to talk about the future and what you want individually. This does not mean you have to have the same goals but it's important to get buy in from each other on your hopes and dreams.
  • Build an emergency fund. Create an emergency fund that equals three to six months of living expenses. If your adjusted gross income is below $166,000, put part of that money in a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
  • Save for your home. If a home purchase is in your plans, begin saving for a down payment on a home. But, don't overextend.
  • Save for your retirement. Save 10 percent of annual income, which includes contributing to retirement plans.
  • Avoid debt. Steer clear from credit card debt if at all possible.
Urbanski concluded, "It's always a good idea to seek out and work with a financial advisor who can help you both identify your financial goals and work with you to develop a financial plan that can help you achieve them as a couple."

Source: www.bmoharris.com.
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Top Career Tips for Woman

April 29, 2013 5:12 pm

What becomes of the women who graduate with MBAs from Harvard Business School? Do most go on to fulfilling careers, or do they drop out of the work force when they become moms?

“The number that has been floated for years, and is quoted by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book ‘Lean In,’ is that 15 years after graduation, only a third of them are working full-time—and they’re working for their male classmates,’’ says executive and business coach Debora McLaughlin, author of “The Renegade Leader, 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits,” and the forthcoming “Running in High Heels.”

“That statement suggests that, even when they hold advanced degrees from an Ivy League university, women are less ambitious, less willing and less committed than their male fellow graduates. I just don’t believe that.”

In fact, McLaughlin is right. Harvard Business School recently surveyed more than 6,400 male and female alumni and found that well more than half the women aged 31 to 47 were working full-time. Sixteen percent were working part-time, and 10 percent were caring for children full-time.

Ninety-five percent of the men were working full-time.

“This tells me that women are making difficult choices. Certainly, to do what it takes to get into Harvard and complete an MBA, they’re ambitious,” McLaughlin says. “But women, especially those who want to become mothers, face extra challenges in trying to strike a work-life balance. And, let’s face it; it’s still a male-dominated business world that lacks understanding of the needs of working moms.”

No matter where a person – male or female – earns her master’s in business administration, there’s a lot they won’t learn in business school, McLaughlin notes. She offers her own MBA for successfully having it all:

• M – Management skills: A lot of the female professionals and business owners McLaughlin works with don’t enjoy managing people. “They may have gone into a particular industry because it’s their passion – whether it’s architecture, engineering or small business. They want to move up, but in business, that almost always involves assuming managerial responsibilities,” McLaughlin says. You can’t duck this and you won’t be successful if you’re half a manager. Find a mentor, an executive coach, a good course or just read up on current management tools – you’ll be happier and so will your employees. And you’ll be on the path to becoming an inspiring leader.

• B – Balance: Finding the right work-life balance for you is essential! If your dream is to own that corner office or grow your business into a Fortune 100, carefully “choose your regrets,” McLaughlin advises. Will you regret giving up your career to manage a home and children? Will you regret the lost mommy time if you continue working full time? Be bold, ask for what you need. “Why do women give up their careers and men do not?” McLaughlin asks. Striking a balance means being unapologetic about what you need when you need it. When you say “yes” understand what you are saying “no” to.

• A – Advancement: In order to achieve your dreams of success, you have to put yourself out there. “You have to show up and speak up, be authentic and unapologetic,” McLaughlin says. Although women now account for more than half the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the United States, they fill only16.6 percent of the seats on Fortune 500 boards and women CEOs represent only 4 percent. Get the experience that puts you in the position to be a board candidate, McLaughlin advises. Actively network, find female role models who can help you to achieve the kind of success you’re aiming for, and be seen and heard in the workplace.

“If you have a fingerprint to leave on the world and you want to live your life with the greatest impact, know that you can,” McLaughlin says. “You can have all that you want, when you want it.”

Debora McLaughlin is the best-selling author of “The Renegade Leader, 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits” and the forthcoming book, “Running in High Heels.”

For more information, visit www.TheRenegadeLeader.com.
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Word of the Day

April 29, 2013 5:12 pm

Qualification. Act of determining a potential buyer’s needs, abilities, and urgency to buy and matching these with available properties.
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Q: What Should I Know about Zoning Issues and Approvals?

April 29, 2013 5:12 pm

A: Zoning regulations establish how the land can be used, either for residential, industrial, commercial, or recreational purposes, or sometimes a combination thereof. Designed to protect property owners and communities from undesirable, or inappropriate, land uses and/or construction, zoning laws can be very rigid and inflexible. On the other hand, they can protect your property value and ensure against the stationing of a mega-store right next to your home. Before you begin any remodeling job, determine how your local zoning laws might affect your project. You can visit your local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board to get a copy of your local ordinance and determine how you will need to seek approval for your project. Take nothing for granted; some communities even require approval to erect fences.
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Helpful Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

April 26, 2013 5:02 pm

(Family Features) For years, research has shown that having a pet can be very beneficial to a person's health. In addition to warming your heart, a cute and cuddly friend can also help protect it by helping to lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve your overall mood.

From online websites to local drives, the opportunity to adopt is abundant. Millions of dogs and cats are looking for their forever home. With the many joys associated with pet ownership, there are also many things to consider. Here are several tips to be mindful of regardless of whether you are a first-time or seasoned pet parent:

Visit the Vet: Get your new buddy checked out at your local veterinarian's office. While many pet adoptions include a complete medical check-up with the adoption fee, it's still important to ensure they are up-to-date on all shots and preventatives. The vet is also a valuable resource to answer any questions you may have about the proper care of your new companion.

Get to Grooming:
Many people think it's only "for the dogs," but both canines and felines need to be groomed on a regular basis. Though this task may seem uncomfortable for your pet, beginning this routine will make the task more predictable for them. Your vet can help you select the proper brush and bath supplies for your pet.

Avoid Odors and Stains:
Accidents happen so be sure that you have a plan to fight stains and odor with the proper household cleaners. For your feline friends, make sure that the litter box is easily accessible. A litter like ARM & HAMMER™ Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter is long-lasting, with powerful odor destroyers to continuously eliminate even the worst odors and keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

Pet-Proof Your Home:
Make sure your home is a safe haven for your new furry friend, from the floor to the ceiling. Cats love to scratch and dogs love to chew. Providing them with the proper toys will not only keep them happy, but will also help protect your furniture and personal items.

Instill Good Behavior: Begin
good behavior habits from the moment you bring your pet home. Though nipping may seem adorable at first, this behavior may become a pattern that could become a big problem later. Use simple words to praise and command, setting boundaries and confirming you are the boss. For more formal training, seek your local animal trainer or enroll your pooch in an obedience class.

Source: www.UltraLastLitter.com.
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How to Get More for Your Money

April 26, 2013 5:02 pm

It used to be that "middle class" meant "comfortable." Yet today, some are finding that lifestyle is slipping away as they struggle to maintain their standard of living.

Today, the best way to maintain the lifestyle you're accustomed to is to become smarter with the money you do have.

Here are a few ways you can maximize your money:

Budget for your specific needs. When every dollar counts, you can't afford to let anything slip through the cracks. That's where a budget comes in. Creating one—and actually using it—can help you take control of your money. Start by keeping a spending journal so you can see where your money's going. Next, subtract your fixed monthly costs (i.e. mortgage or rent, car payment, utilities, savings, etc.) from your monthly income. The remaining money is what you have left for variable expenses, such as groceries, entertainment, gas, etc. How you divide this money is up to you -- the only catch is you have to stay within your budget limits.

Plan ahead to avoid ATM fees. Avoiding this extra cost is as simple as planning ahead. Paying $3 here and there may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. For example, paying $3 at a non-bank ATM, four times a month adds up to $144 each year. That's money that could have been put away in savings or spent on other items.

Find a credit card that benefits you.
Look for one that rewards you for the money you spend.

Save money on everything. With a bit of advance planning and research, you can save money on everything from groceries and gas to haircuts and entertainment. Many of these savings can be found online and through mobile apps. Follow your favorite businesses via social media to learn about exclusive discounts and sales. Mobile apps can help you find the lowest prices on gas and other items you use every day.

Source: BMO Harris Bank
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