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
April 2, 2013 5:46 pm
Living on a budget is never easy – and building an emergency fund or saving for a major purchase may seem too difficult a task. But, said single parent and money blogger Linda Ramos, it only takes a bit of discipline – and a firm commitment – to shave dollars off monthly expenses.
“The trick,” said Ramos, “is not just to save, but to take the dollars you would have spent and put them into a savings account. Then pat yourself on the back for your cleverness and restraint as you watch your money grow.”
Ramos suggests seven painless ways to cut expenses and save:
Better food planning – Forget fast food. Read supermarket ads and plan meals around what’s on sale. Prowl the Internet for meatless recipes and do vegetarian meals once or twice a week. Save on snacks or mindless munching by dividing boxes of cookies and crackers into snack-sized portions when you bring them home from the store…and force yourself to bank a few bucks weekly based on what you are now saving.
Check out the dollar store – It’s chock full of off-brand household products and grocery items – even fresh produce – priced well below retail, that will leave you with extra dollars you can feed into your savings account.
Cutting coupons – Clip discount coupons for groceries and local restaurants. If you must dine out, use a coupon – and if your grocery bill is reduced by $6 when you use your coupons, put at least half that into savings.
Make your cleaning products – Find ‘recipes’ online for making laundry detergents, fabric softeners and other household cleansers. Make your own, and bank a couple of bucks a week for what you save by shunning high-priced brands.
Try the thrift shop – Before you head for the mall, check the thrift shop for great bargains in hardly-worn kids’ clothing, gently used household goods and plenty more. Reward your savings account with a few of those unspent dollars.
Use the library – Stop magazine subscriptions and quit buying or renting movies, video games and more. There’s a huge selection at the local library that you can check out for free. Put a dollar into savings for every two you don’t spend.
Recycle – That means cans, bottles, newspapers and anything else you can recycle for cash – and you know what to do with that cash now, don’t you?
April 2, 2013 5:46 pm
Recording. Entering or recording documents affecting or conveying interests in real estate in the recorder’s office; until recorded a deed or mortgage generally is not effective against subsequent purchases or mortgage liens.
April 2, 2013 5:46 pm
A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.
Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Parents sending their children off to college for the first time typically have prepared years in advance for the big occasion. And since tuition rates continue to increase, parents are, more than ever, focused on having their child be successful and graduate, says David Porter, founder of a firm that designs campus wide dining programs and dining halls at colleges throughout North America, and author of “The Porter Principles: Retain & Recruit Students & Alumni, Save Millions on Dining and Stop Letting Food Service Contractors Eat Your Lunch.”
“The average cost for an in-state public college for the 2012–2013 academic year is $22,261, and a moderate budget at a private college averaged $43,289,” says Porter, who has worked with the University of Georgia, University of New Hampshire, Ferris State University, George Mason University and the University of Richmond, among others. “While many American families have seen a sharp decline in their household income, higher education for their children is still a top priority.”
So, what might parents be overlooking when trying to ensure their child starts off a career with a college degree? It’s the school’s dining program and the role it plays in campus life, including the location(s), facilities, the menu, meal plans, hours, operating days and more, Porter says.
“It can and will be the most powerful aspect of day to day life for your son or daughter to connect to their class, make friends, see and be seen and connect to the school,” he says. “The sooner they connect to one another, the more likely they are to return as sophomores and eventually graduate.”
Social architecture, he explains, is the conscious design of an environment to encourage social behaviors that lead toward a goal -- in this case, solidifying college students’ connection to one another, and a commitment to their school, through dining.
“Social architecture is a catalyst for students to connect, make friends and be social; it’s crucial to helping students connect with their school and develop bonds with other students, which are both critical to student success,” he says. “Students who live and dine on campus tend to have higher GPA’s and are more likely to graduate.”
A meticulously planned, student-focused and socially rich dining program on a campus can help a student graduate for the following reasons, he says:
• Crucial social steps: Out of the house for the first time, living alone or with roommates he or she doesn’t know, often far from home, studying challenging material and without the life skills of a mature adult – your child’s well-being is largely dependent upon the friends and colleagues he meets at school. Meals are when families, coworkers and friends come together and bond, and it’s also when students come together to meet new people, study or just blow off steam.
• Meal plan: These have often been the bane of a student’s existence, complete with limited food options, which are often scattered and frequently hamstrung with time limits. And, they can be expensive. But students won’t complain about a meal plan’s price is they’re happy with what they get. Many conscientious students today choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, or they have other diet restrictions, such as gluten, due to their health. A meal plan should complement a campus and the student clock, which is different from that of an administrator’s schedule.
• On-campus: Porter stresses the importance of unifying meal plans with dining halls; otherwise, students tend to experience the campus in a fractured manner. Meal plans that offer off-campus options are even more problematic, he says, because that steers the focus away from studies, students and other areas of university life.
• School pride: If universities are like businesses, then loyal alumni are like customer loyalty and positive word of mouth wrapped in one idea. When all of the factors come together for a pleasant, sociable, convenient and generally inviting dining hall, it’s a concrete and positive way students can see themselves as lifelong proponents of their schools.
David Porter, FCSI, is chief executive officer and president of Porter Khouw Consulting, Inc., a foodservice master planning and design firm. David has more than 40 years of hands-on food service operations and consulting experience and is a professional member of the Foodservice Consultants Society International. For more information, visit www.porterkhouwconsulting.com.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
The U.S. is the most severe weather-prone country on Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each year, there are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms with 10,000 being severe; 5,000 floods; and 1,000 tornadoes.
Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Tarrant County, leading provider of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for residential and commercial properties, offers the following tips for protecting life and property.
Have a disaster plan and emergency supplies in place. Your "Basic Emergency Kit" should include:
- Water - one gallon of water per person and pets for a minimum of three days
- Food - a three-day supply of non-perishable food for adults, children and pets and a can opener
- Battery-powered or hand crank commercial radio and a NOAA Weather
- Cell Phone with charger
- First aid kit, non-prescription drugs like pain relievers,
- prescription medications and supplies
- Copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account
- records in waterproof container.
- Sleeping bags or warm blankets
- Fire extinguisher
The beginning of spring is also a good time to inspect your property to
check for any damage winter left behind and to prepare for the spring
storm season. Below are some valuable tips for protecting your property
from severe weather.
- Clear yard of loose articles and debris
- Trim trees and shrubs
- Keep lawn furniture, outdoor toys, garbage cans secured or stored
- Inspect your roof and repair any loose shingles
- Repair siding, awnings, gutters and downspouts
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Metal theft continues to attract thieves across the country. Among the targets most often hit are recently foreclosed and vacated homes. These sites pose challenges to owners and banks who attempt to ward off would-be copper thieves, squatters and intruders.
While unsalable homes are still a relatively small part of the national inventory of foreclosed properties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the worse the economy is in a particular region, the more damaged and vandalized foreclosed homes are likely to be.
As the economy continues to climb out of a recession, Netwatch USA announces six tips to prevent vacant or foreclosed homes from falling victim to copper theft or potential occupation by trespassers or squatters.
Keep up with lawn care and exterior maintenance. This will not only increase curb appeal once it’s ready to sell, it will also let would-be trespassers know that the house is regularly visited and may, in fact, be inhabited. Be sure to keep gutters clean, snow shoveled, and the lawn mowed. Be sure to remove all ladders and tools after maintenance to prevent them from being used for break-ins.
Park a car in the driveway. If you have an extra car, keeping it in the driveway can be enough to make the house look inhabited. You may also want to ask a trusted neighbor to park in the driveway.
Invest in automatic interior and exterior lights. Keeping pathways, doorways, and interiors well-light may scare off potential burglars. Consider automatic lights for the exterior and lights on timers for the interior.
Lock up your circuit breaker. Effective lighting and certain surveillance equipment requires electricity, so lock the door to your circuit breaker. If kept unlocked, thieves can easily access the breaker and cut off the electricity, therefore disabling lighting and some traditional burglar alarms. To minimize electrical fire risk, turn off all unnecessary electrical circuits
Manage where the vacant property’s address is published. Until the property is ready to sell, keep the address as private as possible. Thieves will access lists of vacant homes which will make it easier and more efficient for them to find and break-in to homes.
Check that you have the correct type of insurance. Confirm with your insurance company to see if your policy needs to change now that the property is vacant. More often than not, carrying construction companies’ risk policy will adequately cover you from copper theft and vandals.
“Abandoned homes are, by their nature, a challenge to protect and are especially vulnerable to copper thieves,” says Netwatch CEO David Walsh. “Simply nailing plywood to windows and doors is not enough to scare off intruders and can easily be removed by saws and pry bars. Protecting your property with an effective surveillance system along with proper security measures will discourage potential copper thieves. "
For more information, visit www.netwatchusa.com.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Maintenance fees. Paid by a condominium unit owner to the owners’ association for upkeep of the common areas.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
A: It depends on whether one is required by state law. If your contractor offers a warranty, which ensures quality workmanship and required repairs if faulty products or workmanship is discovered, ask to see a copy of the written provisions to make sure you have sufficient protection from defective work. You may want to become familiar with your state law, if applicable.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
PERKASIE, PA, Apr 01, 2013—Whether you’re purchasing your first home or your third home, there are several mistakes that can cause serious trouble with your purchase. Avoid the following missteps to help smooth the searching and buying process.
1. Not using an agent
Many people try to cut costs when looking for a new home. However, a real estate agent is a professional, skilled at searching and price negotiating. They also have access to the MLS, and know the area you’re trying to buy in. “The money you spend on hiring an agent will come back to you, both in the form of a more pleasant buying experience, and in landing a better price,” says Thomas Skiffington, Real Estate Professional of RE/MAX 440 & RE/MAX Central.
2. Not getting a property inspection
“It’s vital that you insist on having your future home inspected by a professional before you close,” says Skiffington. It may look like it’s in top shape, but a visit from a qualified home inspector can give you peace of mind that the basement isn’t full of mold, or that the roof isn’t in need of replacement.
“You home inspection will help with negotiations, as well,” states Skiffington.
3. Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage
This is a waste of your time, your agent’s time, and the seller’s time. “Most agent’s won’t work with a client who has not been pre-approved, and sellers will be wary, too,” explains Skiffington.
Even if you have perfect credit and think getting pre-approved will be a cinch, doing this first will save you the hassle later, and show sellers that you’re serious.
4. Visiting properties you can’t afford
If your dream home isn’t currently in your budget, then you can do two of the following: Continue renting until you are in a better financial situation, or focus on your perfect starter home. Sure, it may not have that wrap-around porch or artist’s loft, but a home is a great investment.
“Pick a place you will be happy living in for the next five to 10 years, but do not visit homes you can’t afford,” says Skiffington. “Not only is this a waste of time for everyone involved, you will also break your own heart when you fall in love with a property out of your reach.”
5. Not assessing wants vs. needs
Similar to visiting homes you can’t afford, not adequately assessing wants and needs can be a waste of time, and prove to pull up properties out of your budget. You may need a place near a good school system, or that provides a quick commute. You may need a place with an extra bedroom for in-laws or future children. But do you need a fully renovated basement?
“Sit down with your family and figure out what is essential, and what would be a terrific extra,” recommends Skiffington. Let your agent know, and then start your hunt.
6. Searching before you’re ready
Just like you shouldn’t search before you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, you also shouldn’t search if you aren’t seriously ready to buy. Banking on that raise you’re getting next month? Hold off on the home search.
7. Not reading the fine print
This is where your agent can help you. Be sure to read and understand all documents before signing, even if your excitement—or a looming deadline—is pushing your pen to paper.
“Understand everything you have read, including all contingencies and fine print,” says Skiffington. “Then, sign away with confidence.”
For more information on buying a home, please contact RE/MAX 440 & RE/MAX Central at email@example.com, 2154537653, 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.
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
100% Club and various other awards
Tom has consistently exceeded 150 transactions per year for the last several years
Licensed in 1988
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.
Tom's hobbies include computer technology and communications.
March 28, 2013 10:06 pm
Buying a home is a huge step. Learning to maintain and improve it is a long series of baby steps, sometimes painful and sometimes rewarding.
To help get new homeowners off on the right foot, the editors at The Family Handyman –some of the sharpest DIY Veterans around—offer their best tips for choosing, maintaining and improving a home.
These hints include:
1. Scout the neighborhood: Ask questions. When you are checking out your future home, try going on separate occasions and different times of the day. Ask neighbors about the area, schools, etc. This will give you a real indication of what the people and place is really like. You’ll feel more confident with your decision to move in once you have done all the proper research.
2. Check crime stats: Before buying, get a report of police calls in the neighborhood. A bargain price may be due to the crime rate in the area.
3. Verify everything: Get the house history and insist on full written disclosure from the seller about remodeling, repairs, old damage, leaks, mold, etc. Check with the city or county, and get—in writing—the property's permit history, zoning, prior uses, homeowners' association restrictions and anything else you can find out. Forget “location, location, location” and think “verify, verify, verify!”
4. Get a licensed home inspection: This is extremely important. Don't let your real estate agent choose the inspector. Hire someone who works for you without any conflict of interest. Inspect the inspector before you hire. Ask to see a sample home inspection report. Comprehensive reports run 20 to 50 pages and include color photos showing defects or concerns. Also ask about the length of the inspection. A thorough inspection takes a minimum of three to four hours. You should walk through with the inspector, you’ll learn a lot about your house. You may pay more for a certified inspector, but in the long run, it’s worth it. For a list of certified inspectors by the American Society of Home Inspectors, visit ashi.org.
5. Get a home warranty: Piece of mind is important. A home warranty can save you from faulty appliances and you can get the brand new items you need.
6. Make a homeowner’s journal: Buy a ring binder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it. Storing all your house information in one handy place makes life easier for the homeowner and can be a sales “plus” when selling the house later.
7. Get to know your house before making big changes: Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking any major renovations such as additions or knocking down walls. What you initially think you want may change after you've lived there for a while.
8. Tackle one project at a time: It’s important to take it easy, one project at a time. If you tear right into the porch, kitchen remodel, and outdoor fence replacement at the same time – you’ll have the whole house and yard torn up at the same time. It might come together, but having everything going on at once will just add a lot of stress.
9. Check the furnace filter: Look for clues when it comes to the furnace. This can give you some insight into whether the previous owner took care of regular maintenance.
10. Don’t be afraid to DIY: Ninety percent of a DIY project is having the guts to try. Worst case—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
11. Finish projects . . . now: Don't learn to live with incomplete projects. If you do, the last couple of pieces of trim can linger for years!
12. Budget for trouble: The worst will happen sooner or later. As long as you’re prepared, it will just be an expense rather than a financial shock.
13. Ask neighbors about pros they trust: If you're looking for plumbers, electricians or other pros, ask your neighbors. You tend to get decent advice if you get it from people who live near you.
14. Offer to buy the tools too: You can always use more tools. If you buy from a couple that's downsizing, you might get a great deal if you purchase their garden tools, tractors, snow blowers and tools in general.