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
January 3, 2013 5:46 pm
If Santa left a shiny new iPhone under your tree, you probably already know how to call, text, and check email. But, say the communications experts at Business Insider, there are tips and tricks that can help you maximize your time and effort. Bonus: most of these tips will work just as well with your iPad.
Turn off LTE to save battery – On the iPhone 5, you can save battery life in a pinch by going to Settings, then General, then Cellular. Or choose the Enable LTE toggle; if you need to save battery and can spare some Internet speed, turn this option off.
Lock the screen orientation – To lock your screen orientation, double tap the home button and swipe to the right. You'll see a gray circle opposite the rewind button. Tap that once and a lock will appear, so when you turn your phone sideways the orientation will stay put.
Automatically download new apps – A handy feature if you have several Apple devices: New apps and music will download automatically to all of them if you go to Settings and navigate to the middle of the page. Select the Store option, and once inside, under Automatic Downloads, switch on options for music, apps or both.
View websites in full screen – While browsing a web site in Safari, turn your iPhone to the side (landscape) and tap the full-screen icon (arrows coming together in the bottom right) and you can view a website without distraction.
Create a custom vibration – This can let you know who is calling or texting without having to look at the phone. Go to Settings, then tap Sounds at the bottom of the page. You'll be able to select custom vibration or record your own – and you can adjust the length of it, too.
Use Siri to set location-based reminders – Siri can be used to set a reminder, like saying "remind me to call mom at 4 today." But you know you can set location-based reminders on your iPhone 4S. Say "Remind me to call mom when I get home," and you'll be notified accordingly.
January 3, 2013 5:46 pm
If you made a resolution to solve any credit issues or address mortgage challenges in the new year, then this is for you. We recently heard from some of the nation's most tried and true 'watchdogs' about an issue he will be monitoring closely in 2013 - mortgage fraud.
One is the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) -- a nonprofit leader in crime prevention. For more than 30 years, its mascot, McGruff the Crime Dog and the council have been watching out for consumers and 2013 will be no different.
The FBI is also on the case, since its most recent Mortgage Fraud Report indicates that more than $10 billion in loans originated with fraudulent application data in 2010. Another agency, the Federal Trade Commission has issued some red flags that can tip you off to scam artists’ attempts to get you to sign on the bottom line of a fraudulent mortgage or loan document.
In this segment, we'll begin to review these important tips, beginning with the usual suspects:
- A lender who isn’t interested in your credit history. A lender may offer loans or credit cards for many purposes — for example, so a borrower can start a business or consolidate bill payments. But one who doesn’t care about your credit record should give you cause for concern.
- It’s also a warning sign if a lender says they won’t check your credit history, yet asks for your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number. They may use your information to debit your bank account to pay a fee they’re hiding.
- Ads that say “Bad credit? No problem” or “We don’t care about your past. You deserve a loan” or “Get money fast” or even “No hassle — guaranteed” often indicate a scam. Banks and other legitimate lenders generally evaluate creditworthiness and confirm the information in an application before they guarantee firm offers of credit — even to creditworthy consumers.
In the next segment we'll pick up with some additional tips on how to avoid mortgage and loan fraud. But in the meantime, if you think you’ve had an experience with an advance-fee loan scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP.
January 3, 2013 5:46 pm
(Family Features)—When it comes to getting the house clean and tidy, closets often get left off the to-do list. From hall closets and linen closets to bedroom closets, "out of sight, out of mind" thinking quickly leads to clutter -- and then frustration when you can't find what you need when you need it.
But a little planning and a few simple tips can help you get your closets in user-friendly shape in no time.
Put your closets on your calendar.
Take stock of your schedule and commit some time to tackle your closets. Set realistic expectations -- you don't have to conquer all your closets at once. It may make sense for your family to forego TV one evening a week and focus on one closet at a time, for example.
Start by sorting.
Eliminate excess -- but don't throw it away.
- If you haven't worn a piece of clothing in the past year -- or you can't remember the last time you wore something -- then you don't need it. Other items to purge from your closet: children's clothes and shoes that are either too small or too worn out to pass down to a sibling or a friend.
- Sort your remaining clothes by season and then into piles to keep or pass down. If you have limited closet space, keep only the current season's wardrobe in your closet. Carefully pack and store the rest for later.
- Linen closets stay more organized when you stack similar sized items together. Sort sheets by size, and group washcloths, hand towels and bath towels together.
- For closets that hold everything from the vacuum cleaner to art supplies and anything in between, work one shelf at a time. Sort items by categories and dedicate one shelf or area of the closet to each group.
As the saying goes, one man's trash is another's treasure. There are easy ways to donate your unwanted items to benefit those in need. One example is DonateStuff.com
, where you can request pre-paid UPS shipping bags that make it simple and free to send in unwanted clothes, shoes, accessories and household linens. Your donation benefits one of three national nonprofits of your choosing: AMVETS, Easter Seals, or The Purple Heart. It's tax deductible, and it reduces waste. Americans throw away an average of 68 pounds of clothing each year. You can learn more at www.donatestuff.com
Green up your storage.
When it's time to put things back into place, instead of buying new containers to hold things, look around the house for boxes and containers you already heave. Baskets, crates and even empty shoeboxes can be reused to keep your closets more organized.
You don't have to wait until the next neighborhood yard sale before you sift through your closets again. As with most household chores, a little maintenance goes a long way to keep your closets looking neat and clean. You could even keep a bag in each of your kids' closets and encourage them to set aside gently used and outgrown items on a regular basis.
You'll be amazed at how much happier clean closets can make the whole house feel -- especially when you turn the stuff you don't need into a good deed.
January 3, 2013 5:46 pm
A: From the very beginning, get in the habit of taking an inventory at least once every year of every nook and cranny of your home to check for potential problems. Examine the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring – basically everything. Try to fix trouble spots as soon as you uncover them. This proactive approach will help you avoid larger expenses later on, so leave no stone unturned when taking your inventory.
January 2, 2013 5:40 pm
Decorating the nursery is a distinct pleasure for most expectant parents. But it isn’t easy to choose furniture and accessories that offer style, comfort and practicality that will last for many years.
Design mavens at the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, Ky. spotlighted six new products for parents who are looking for something different. They aren’t cheap, but they offer unique and modern styles created with beauty, safety and comfort in mind:
The Babycotpod – The most contemporary bassinets ever, Babycotpod designs feature an egg-shaped collection of baby furniture that is handcrafted of fine hardwoods with custom-painted exteriors. The Nuna and Cascara models offer a unique, sophisticated and comfy sleep space with built-in hood and carry handles. Prices begin at about $800.
The Gro-Crib - A crib that turns into a toddler bed, a day bed, a desk and a play table – with no screws or hinges. Designer David Singelyn’s crib has no mechanical fasteners and takes only minutes to put together. Not cheap at $1,400, but when you consider how many pieces of furniture you get in one, it’s great for those who can afford it.
Baby Dee Dee Sleep Nest – A cross between a soft, washable duvet and a wearable baby sleeping bag, this new innovation with shoulder snaps and a glow-in-the-dark zipper wraps baby in a soft cocoon, eliminates the need for loose blankets, and makes it easy to change diapers in the dark. Costs about $35.
The Petit Nest – An eco-friendly, made in America collection of cribs, dressers, gliders, wall art and more designed to last long beyond baby’s early years. Whimsical, playful styling with a distinct point of view that can later be integrated into the design of any home. Cribs and dressers cost between $1,400 and $1,700.
Ububub cribs – Unique, modern wood cribs with smooth, rounded edges and clear Lucite sides for best visibility for you and your baby. They feature a low profile, adjustable mattress positions, and no bars for baby to get stuck in. Cost? About $1,600.
Spa Baby Hot Tub – A soothing green ‘baby bucket’ that calms squirmy babies and keeps them safe at bath time. Provides a chest-high warm soak in a natural, womb-like position. Cost is about $38.
January 2, 2013 5:40 pm
As we process and mourn the losses of the unthinkable Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy that has affected us both physically and emotionally, we must stay strong especially for the children who were traumatized that day. In an effort to help the families, Psychotherapist, author, and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, shares 8 tips on how to help kids deal with trauma.
It's difficult to comprehend even the possibility of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Many of us are experiencing both physical and emotional affects as we all mourn the losses from that day and have deep sympathy and condolences for all those that were directly affected including the first responders.
In this time of sadness, we must remain strong especially for the kids who were traumatized. Here are eight tips to help kids deal with trauma:
Empathetic listening - Be empathetic to what the kids have been through. Put yourself in their shoes.
Be a good listener - Listen to your kids both verbally and non-verbally.
Be honest - Be honest and open, but age appropriate. Remember, age is just a number; know the child's maturity level and how much they can handle.
Assure the situation is temporary and they are safe - Let the child know the situation is temporary and they are doing everything in their power to make sure everyone is safe.
Allow time for a Q&A - Talking out in the open is an important way to cope.
Healing takes time/comfort as much as you can - It takes time to heal/comfort. Give the kids time to heal and be as warm as possible and comfort them as they heal.
Try to keep a sense of normalcy and routine- Don't make any sudden or drastic changes, if possible.
Watch your own behavior- If your kids see you upset and stressed, they will become more stressed. Kids are visual learners so watch your behaviors.
Diane Lang - Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist - is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert.
January 2, 2013 5:40 pm
It’s the question we ask ourselves almost every day: What’s for dinner?
Entwined in this daily dialogue is wondering whether we’ll need to dash into the grocery store on the way home from work. The next time we make one of those supermarket pit stops, Dr. Eudene Harry, author of “Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps,” would like us to veer in a new direction.
“When people shop on the go, they tend to gravitate toward old standbys and foods they can multipurpose with – usually not the most nutritious choices possible. But by substituting a few items on your list, you can not only look and feel more youthful, you’ll boost your resistance to certain cancers and other illnesses.”
Some of the most nutrition-packed foods not only taste great, they’re readily available at the grocery store and easy to prepare, Harry says.
“The more you eat, the more you’ll crave them.”
Here are five food combos for shoppers with healthy eating on their minds:
• Tomato, garlic, chicken and almonds: Tomatoes contain one of the world’s most concentrated sources of cancer-fighting lycopene, which is best absorbed from tomatoes that are cooked. Garlic has been used for centuries for various health purposes and is a known free-radical destroyer. Nuts help to lose weight, maintain healthy blood pressure and support moods; almond crumbs are a great substitute for bread crumbs on chicken. Pair these goodies with whole wheat couscous for a full dinner.
• Tempeh: With its high protein, fiber and isoflavones content, and meaty texture, tempeh is heavily utilized by vegetarians. It’s made from soybeans processed in a manner similar to cheese making. Like tofu, tempeh takes on the flavors with which it is cooked or marinated, including zesty-tangy balsamic vinegar – perfect for accentuating salads.
• Mashed cauliflower gone Greek: Mash some cauliflower with Greek yogurt! Not only does the “original” yogurt have a thicker texture and richer taste, it’s also denser in lactobacilli, the healthy bacteria that may delay the onset of cancer. And yogurt is low in fat and high in protein, which is essential for many body functions, including building and repairing muscle tissue, organs, bones and connective tissue. Rather than add fatty, cholesterol-filled butter and sour cream to starchy potatoes that stick to your ribs, why not pair two healthy options with mashed cauliflower with Greek yogurt and fresh black pepper for simple goodness?
• Sushi – wild salmon, minced cucumbers, shredded carrots, kelp, sesame seeds and rice: A sushi roll is much more filling and satisfying than a non-sushi eater would think. Many grocery chains offer ready-made rolls, but they are also fairly easy to make. A bamboo roller is a great start; place a sheet of nutrient-dense kelp as the first thing on the roller, and add, lengthwise, desired ingredients. Your first try is not likely to be perfect, but the tasty and healthy ingredients will be there.
• Fruit salad for dessert: Bring together chopped apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple with blueberries and grapes for a sweet and juicy post-dinner palate-cleanser. Lemon juice prevents fruits from bruising. If that’s not enough, combine the salad with Greek yogurt – perhaps blended with vanilla or almond extract – and fiber-filled granola for a parfait.
Dr. Eudene Harry holds a bachelor’s in biology from New York University and completed both her medical degree and residency training at Thomas Jefferson University. Currently the medical director for the integrative and holistic Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, she has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years, is board certified in both emergency and holistic medicine, and for more than a decade practiced emergency medicine as an attending physician in Level II trauma centers.
January 2, 2013 5:40 pm
Counteroffer. An offer made in response to an earlier, unacceptable one; it terminates the original offer.
December 19, 2012 2:44 pm
It's no secret that mortgage lenders are requiring more information from potential borrowers than they did prior to the 2008 financial meltdown. But for self-employed borrowers, qualifying for that mortgage loan is particularly difficult. In the past, self-employed business owners were easily approved for stated-income mortgages – or, loans that didn't require tax documents or bank records to verify income.
But because of more stringent lending policies, self-employed individuals in particular can expect far more scrutiny than in the past. In particular, lenders are looking for proof of stability, or a pattern of income. Fair or not, the self-employed are not considered as "safe" a bet as someone on an established salary.
Simply stated, lenders want to establish that the borrower can sustain a mortgage over time. Accordingly, lenders are likely to require at least 2 years of the most recent tax returns as well as financial statements, and possibly a quarterly profit loss statement. In their assessment of finances, lenders will typically require an overall debt-to-income ratio of 41 percent or less, though some will be less stringent depending on other factors such as excellent credit. Speaking of credit scoring, because some lenders consider self-employed borrowers a higher risk, it is possible to offset that risk with a high credit score. A score above 740, for example, can greatly enhance a self-employed applicant's chances for approval. For self-employed applicants, the secret to success is to prepare in advance.
Here's what you can do to increase your chances for success:
1. Pay-off your debts
Since your debt-to-income ratios will be considered, paying off some of those liabilities can lower your levels to acceptable proportions.
2. Get your credit report in advance
If there is anything negative in your credit history, take action to correct it before you apply for a mortgage. And, in the process, make every effort to raise your score above 740.
3. Adjust your income accordingly
Self-employed business people are typically very aware of beneficial tax deductions that will reduce their amount of taxable income. The problem is, lenders will determine your eligibility for a loan based on your taxable income! With a deflated taxable income, it's entirely possible that you'll qualify for a loan that's far below what you need. So, a year before you're ready to apply for a mortgage, talk to your accountant and see how to maintain quality deductions, while also taking a high enough income. One solution may be to defer certain expenses to a later tax year. In fact, deferment of expenses can also enhance financial reserve levels. Remember, lenders are looking for stability – or, your ability to pay over time. Your cash reserves will be a key element.
4. Meet with your potential lenders face-to-face
Online or telephone-based lenders are extremely convenient, but for the typical challenges that confront the self-employed applicant, it's better to meet with a specialized loan officer in person. Specialized experts are far more likely to direct you to a loan package that meets your specific needs.
5. Consider a joint mortgage
If you're married to someone who draws a regular paycheck on a W-2, consider having them apply as the primary applicant – with you listed as the secondary applicant.
6. Make a bigger down payment
Lenders tend to believe that with a greater personal investment, the borrower is less likely to default. In fact, some lenders will actually require self-employed applicants to submit a down-payment of at least 20 percent.
December 19, 2012 2:44 pm
Does your bedroom lack excitement?
When it comes to spicing up how your bedroom looks, the folks at Ballard Designs know a lot about turning a plain old bedroom into a space bursting with visual excitement. Consider these aspects:
Color - Since your bedroom is a place for repose, choose three colors that work well together and stick to the “60-30-10 color principle” - 60 percent dominant color, 30 percent secondary color and 10 percent accent color. For your dominant color, think soothing neutrals - a lighter or softer shade of a color whether it’s sand, green, gray or blue - that has a touch of earth tone in it.
Not in the mood to paint? Add color with bedding, wall décor and other accents.
Use bedding to highlight your secondary color with lighter or darker shades and varying textures of fabric, or limit the palette to two contrasting patterns and a solid in sheets, duvet and shams. Reserve bold hues and playful patterns for accent pillows, a bedside throw rug, artwork, vases and lampshades that support primary and secondary colors.
And don’t forget layering - a key decorating practice that creates the perfect combination of comfort, warmth and texture. You’ll find that most bedroom decorating ideas are in some way related to creating layers around the room.
Ballard Designs recommends considering these four features of your bedroom when layering:
- Bedding – Sheets, a soft blanket, bedspread, quilt or duvet, along with a throw and pillows in different shapes and sizes are all building blocks that help create an inviting, sumptuous bed. Even a headboard fits in the mix and adds to the overall look, especially if it’s upholstered.
- Windows – A simple shade or bamboo blinds under drapes create a soft, layered look while controlling the amount of light in your room.
- Flooring – A wool or cotton rug breaks up the expanse of wood flooring or covers up old carpeting while adding an extra layer of color and warmth.
- Lighting – Create gentle, restful lighting from multiple light sources. A floor lamp or pair of sconces adds ambient lighting, a bedside lamp provides task lighting for reading and an overhead fixture bathes the room in light when needed.