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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

Q: What Is a Variance?

March 22, 2013 11:52 am

A: It is a request made to your local jurisdiction to deviate from current zoning requirements. If granted, a variance will allow you to use your land in a way that is normally not permitted by the zoning ordinance.

However, do not view a variance as something that changes the zoning law because it does not. Rather it waives a certain requirement of the zoning ordinance. For example, it may allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to accommodate a building, or permit the building of a gazebo in the back yard.
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Three Stress-Free Tricks to Refresh Your Home from Floor to Ceiling

March 21, 2013 5:50 pm

(BPT) - Spring is the time of year for renewal. So, it's no surprise that springtime finds most people planning to rejuvenate their spaces. Four out of five Americans have a room in the home in need or redecorating, according to a 2013 study by Homegoods. Unfortunately, all too often the decorating process is a source of stress and anxiety for homeowners. How will you ever afford new furniture in your living room? How can you be on-trend without dating your home?

Follow these three tips to give your home a stress-free, springtime makeover:

Reclaiming your home's foundation


Chances are your floors took a beating during the winter. Spring is the ideal time to install new flooring and revamp one of your home's most important components. As the foundation of your home, your flooring needs to complement your personal taste, while living up to your lifestyle in terms of traffic, household members and pets, exposure to moisture and maintenance required. With the countless color and design options, the wide range of flooring materials and your own budgetary considerations, you may find selecting flooring to be particularly stressful.

Tapping into the customer-focused trends of high-end and online retailers, Tarkett empowers customers as they shop for flooring. The system lessens the unknowns, simplifies the choices and introduces an interactive, multi-faceted shopping experience. The system begins with sorting multiple flooring options into six inspirational color families: Champagne Celebrations, Cool Conversations, Earthy Connections, Evening Receptions, Fireside Chats and Warm Gatherings - each offering its own feel and color space to help you find the perfect floor to coordinate with your existing furnishings and adjoining floors. Visit www.tarkettna.com/Inspiration/iSelectStory to walk through the iSelect process and find the perfect, customized floor for your taste, lifestyle, budget and even health.

Sweat the small stuff

Instead of worrying about the new armoire you can't afford, focus your energy on the finishing touches which can revitalize a space quickly and inexpensively. Paying attention to the details is a cost-effective and fun way to express yourself in spaces throughout your home, while also making each space feel complete.

Mirrors have a magical effect on a room by making a space feel larger, reflecting light throughout and adding a touch of panache. You can find a wide variety of hanging mirrors to fit your taste at discount retailers or you can purchase a mirror at an estate sale or secondhand store and "upcycle" it with a textured coat of Krylon Dual Hammered Finish spray paint in Silver or Dark Bronze.

The sky's the limit

If you really want to embrace the warm weather and revitalize a room, it may be time to look up. One of the most popular design trends of 2013 is painting your ceiling. This blank and all-too-often-overlooked canvas has tremendous potential to transform a bedroom, living room or dining room. It can be as simple as repainting a white ceiling a very pale blue or gray to create the illusion that there is no ceiling. Or if you're feeling bolder, you can make your ceiling a major accent element that gives a dull room a bright or daring splash of color.

Spring decorating should be an enriching experience, rather than a stressful one. Whether it's budget, time or simply choosing among the vast number of options available, the usual redecorating stress triggers can be eliminated by focusing on simpler, cost-effective and empowering decor solutions.
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5 Credit Card Rip-Offs to Watch Out For

March 21, 2013 5:50 pm

Unless you are in the habit of checking every transaction on your monthly credit card bill, you may fall prey to the extra or unauthorized charges that find their way to the statements of one out of every four credit card users each year.

These ‘grey fees’ appearing on your bill may not actually be fraudulent, according to the consumer watchdogs at BillGuard. More likely, they are legal if unwanted charges that were hidden in the fine print of another transaction.

Financial expert Farnoosh Torabi urges consumers to examine credit card bills closely. Be on the lookout for – and question the responsible merchants – about grey area charges that may have been incurred in five common ways:

  1. Free-to-paid goods or services – Often incurred while shopping online, these are fees for turning free trials into ongoing paid purchases. For example, you sign up online for a free trial of cosmetics or vitamins. It seems like a good deal, but the fine print in the offer may include ongoing charges and/or future deliveries. Unless you cancel the ongoing service, you may continue to be billed.
  2. Unwanted offers – Say you purchase a pair of running shoes online. Unless you read the fine print, and perhaps uncheck a box, you may also inadvertently sign on for a subscription to a runner’s magazine or some other unwanted ancillary product.
  3. Negative opt-out marketing – You order something online and when it arrives, another product is included in the package. Don’t assume it is a free gift. Read the fine print on the invoice, because in accepting it, you may be agreeing to receive additional products monthly, for which you will be billed.
  4. Automatic renewals – Just because you’ve cancelled a service or subscription, such as a gym membership or even a credit card, doesn’t mean it has been instantly cancelled. Check your statements for annual or other fees that may have been charged before the cancellation took effect.
  5. Cost creep – It may amount to only pennies or dollars monthly on the cost of what you pay for product insurance or cable or other services. But watch your bills and be alert for unexplained cost creep-ups that keep occurring without explanation.
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Five Tips for Purchasing NCAA Tournament Tickets

March 21, 2013 5:50 pm

Are you a basketball lover? Planning on purchasing tournament tickets?

"The NCAA Tournament is one of the most exciting dates on the sports calendar," says Gary Adler, NATB General Counsel and Executive Director. "It's important that March Madness fans do their due diligence to make sure that the tickets they buy are legitimate. Consumers need to know the following tips to ensure a great experience from the time they purchase a ticket to the time they sit down in the arena to watch their favorite college team in action," Adler adds.

5 Tips for Safely Purchasing Tickets to NCAA Tournament Games:


  1. Check to see if the reseller is a member of the NATB at www.natb.org
  2. Know the difference between a ticket broker (legitimate and accredited reseller) and a ticket scalper (unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller).
  3. Check the ticket broker's refund policy. Only buy from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.
  4. Always use a credit card-do not use cash.
  5. Always ask for section, row and seat number to avoid obstructed view seats or seats that do not exist.
Lastly, feel free to ask questions to make certain you get all the answers you need to feel comfortable with your ticket purchase.
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Word of the Day

March 21, 2013 5:50 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.
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Q: How Do Building Codes Work?

March 21, 2013 5:50 pm

A: Building codes set minimum public-safety standards for such things as building design, construction, use and occupancy, and maintenance. The codes are established and enforced by local politicians and government officials, who also tend to modify them constantly. The codes are usually enforced by denying permits, occupancy certificates, and by imposing fines.

While codes vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next, specialized codes generally exist for plumbing, electricity, and fire. Each usually involves separate inspections and inspectors.

There are building codes for most remodeling jobs. So if you have done significant remodeling, make sure you save proof of the permits involved in the project. There is a good chance potential buyers may request them. Failure to obtain the appropriate permits before you undertake a project could later result in fines or other serious consequences, such as having a structure ordered to be torn down because it was constructed improperly.
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5 Resolutions for Your Business

March 20, 2013 5:42 pm

Almost on a daily basis, news reports detail the marketplace factors that can affect businesses large and small. No matter what the potentially game-changing info coming out of Washington, D.C., or China, though, there are winning strategies that not only endure but should be part of every workplace’s culture, says financial expert and small-business advocate Chris Hurn.

“With some merit, analysts are always reviewing contingencies that may change investments by businesses; most recently, the ‘fiscal cliff.’ But there are many ways to invest in your own business regardless of the economic climate,” says Hurn, author of “The Entrepreneur’s Secret to Creating Wealth: How the Smartest Business Owners Build Their Fortunes.”

Hurn reviews the resolutions business owners and entrepreneurs should consider to make 2013 the most positively transformative year:

• Consider buying: After a business has survived three to six years and is stable, commercial property ownership is a natural next step with benefits that new entrepreneurs often overlook, says Hurn. Ownership is a path to more stability and long-term wealth, and the government program administered by the Small Business Administration – SBA 504 – offers long-term financing at below-market fixed rates.

• Self-investment: Often in business, one measure of strength reflects your strength of character, so invest in yourself! Identify business books that focus on areas you need to develop or lessons shared by successful business people you admire. Commit to reading at least one per month.

• Company culture: Your company’s culture has a lot to do with your success. Come up with three ideas that will improve your company’s culture and take action on them. Improved health, the most universal resolution, can have a profoundly positive impact on the workplace, from boosting morale to increasing productivity.

• Refresh/jumpstart marketing:
Identify three new marketing initiatives that you can implement on a regular and ongoing basis. Start small and track which ideas seem to have teeth. Remember — repetition and consistency are keys here.

• Become an authority in your field:
Research publications in your industry and pitch yourself as a media source. This can net you some free PR later in the year. The key is to focus on media outlets – become a familiar name so they can turn to you as a reliable source. You have to convince contacts that you know your stuff and that you’re available to comment when there’s news to report. If you simply don’t have time for this, consider investing in a reasonably-priced PR firm.

Chris Hurn is CEO and co-founder of Mercantile Capital Corp. based in Orlando, Fla.

For more information, visit www.TheEntrepreneursSecretBook.com.
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Get Active & Save Big Bucks with a Passive House

March 20, 2013 5:42 pm

I like to think of one's home as a pretty active environment. But recently, designer Jamie Wolf of Wolfworks in Avon, Conn. (homesthatfit.com) provided a little lesson about the Passive House movement.

Tens of thousands have been built over the past two decades in Europe, establishing an impressive and dependable performance record. And Wolf notes that more international governments are establishing Passive House standards as a key element of their policies to reduce energy use for the long term.

Wolf recently completed the first home in Connecticut certified to the international Passive House standard based on principles originating in the US in the '70s and perfected in Germany in the 1990s

The secret to how Wolf's Passive home is the application of several critical design principles:

  • Super Insulation: insulation tuned to the local climate level to assure a stable, draft-free interior
  • Thermal Bridge Free Construction: detailing that assures energy isn’t transferred through building materials
  • Air-Tight Construction: rigorous attention to sealing all potential air leakage sources
  • Net-Gain High Performance Windows: triple glazed, tilt-turn windows tuned to gain more energy than they lose
  • Balanced Ventilation: system recovers heat from steady balanced air flow, “the house literally breathes”
  • Lighting and Plug Loads: LED and CFL light sources in nearly all fixtures and the best Energy Star appliances

Generally, construction of a Passive House is about five percent more costly than typical construction, however, savings start immediately. Based on analysis done by Home Energy Rater, Wolf says the Connecticut Passive house is predicted to produce income of $380 year, with a predicted annual savings of $5,652 over a code built home.

And the Net Present Value of the energy savings (with inflation) over 30 years discounted at the after-tax mortgage interest cost is estimated to be $199,087.

You can also learn more about whether a passive house may be right for you, by visiting passivehouse.us.
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An Easy Way to Save Energy and Money

March 20, 2013 5:42 pm

(Family Features)—As the cost of energy continues to rise, homeowners everywhere are looking for ways to cut back on their usage and exercise energy efficiency in their homes. Lighting your house is no minor expense, with recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy showing that an average household dedicates 10 percent of its energy budget to lighting and spends approximately $1,900 per year in total on utility bills.

Remember you can make a difference and green your lifestyle with a simple step that will also save you money. Changing your traditional incandescent light bulbs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps often recognized by their spiral design) to LED light bulbs will save not only energy but also dollars off your electricity bill. The bulbs feature longer life spans than traditional light bulbs, while still emitting warm tones to make your home cozy with illuminating, comfortable light. And because LED bulbs consume far fewer watts to deliver the same level of brightness as traditional bulbs, they can save you money daily by reducing that light's energy use by up to 85 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Making the switch to LED bulbs in your home is easier than you think. Quality LED lighting products such as the new line of bulbs from Samsung now available at retail stores, offer average life spans between 15,000 and 40,000 hours depending on the bulb. This can amount to an approximate average of 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.

Samsung is well-recognized in the LED industry because it has experience making nearly all of the components in LED bulbs. They offer consumers high-quality, reliable products, an important fact to consider when investing in LED light bulbs that will power your home and fixture lighting for decades to come. Both energy and cost-effective, these bulbs are the perfect solution when transitioning from traditional bulbs to the highest-quality, affordable and long-term lighting.

Five Reasons to Switch to LED Lighting Now:

1. Energy Savings:
Samsung's LED bulbs use 75 to 85 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, which means savings for your energy bill and extra cash in your pocket. In fact, Samsung's new A19 lamp -- a replacement for a traditional 40-watt screw-in light bulb -- only uses about $1.20 in electricity over the course of an entire year.

2. Convenience: Long-lasting life spans of 22 to 36 years means you will only have to change the bulbs a few times in your lifetime -- this means you won't be bothered to replace a dimming bulb for decades at a time.

3. Versatility: LEDs come in all different shapes and sizes to fit any room or fixture in your home. The bulbs create a warm, natural illuminating light that set a comfortable ambience of your choosing inside, and many can be controlled by a dimmer to cascade any amount of light within your rooms.

4. Save Money: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing just 15 bulbs in your home with more energy efficient versions can save an average of $50 off your energy bill annually -- or up to $1,800 on your energy bill over the course of your LED bulb's lifetime.

5. Instant Lighting: Instead of waiting seconds or minutes for your lights to reach full brightness, LED lamps light up immediately to full brightness to illuminate your space.

Source: www.samsung.com.
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Word of the Day

March 20, 2013 5:42 pm

Principal. The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.
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