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
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.