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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Tips for Home Buying in Sandy Affected Areas

November 19, 2012 6:06 pm

Much of the East Coast was devastated with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, and the storm certainly left its mark. If you were in the process of buying a home -- or refinancing your current mortgage – in a Sandy-affected area, you are most likely experiencing delays with your lender now. Now you're wondering if the closing will ever happen! Rest assured, eventually everything will return to normal, but in the meantime, here are some tips you can follow to help make everything a little easier:

1. Expect delays
Clearly, no one can predict the exact path of a storm -- or the magnitude of its destruction -- before it actually makes landfall. Now that it has passed, if you live in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy, be prepared to play the waiting game. Just like everyone else, lenders are trying to sort through the situation the best they can. However, if your rate lock expires due to a delayed closing, ask the lender to honor the rate. Typically, they will. After all, they know neither of you are to blame for the delay, so you should get the same rate they were offering before the storm.

2. Be prepared for extra inspections
Before the lender approves the loan, they will want to make sure the property is still structurally sound after the storm. That means they will most likely require an exterior inspection of the home. They might even request an interior one as well. If the property you intend to buy (or refinance) is located in an area declared as a disaster by the federal government, (which includes parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), you can bet that the exterior inspection will be a requirement. But even if you don't live in a specially-designated disaster area, your lender may still require extra inspections. This is designed to protect you and the lender, though! After all, they don't want to approve a loan on a property (and you don't want to purchase one) that could have possibly been damaged by the storm without knowing the extent of those damages.

3. Consider requesting an inspection yourself
Just because your lender doesn't require a re-inspection of the home, doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for one! After all, you're going to be the one living in the home, so you need to know what condition it is in, and if the storm affected the property's value. How do you determine that? It's easy. Ask for a re-inspection or an appraisal to get an accurate, up-to-date analysis of the home's condition and value.

4. Determine who is going to pay for damages
After all of the inspections and appraisals are complete, you should have a list of any damages caused by the storm, and you should roughly have an idea of how much it will cost to repair them. But who is going to pay for those home repairs? Sort all of this out before you sign any paperwork! If you and the seller agree that they will pay for any needed repairs, get it in writing, as part of your legal purchase contract. If the damages are fairly minor, ask the seller to reduce the asking price in the amount of the needed repairs. In other words, ask that they credit you for the money you'll have to spend to fix up the place. Another option is to have the seller set up an escrow account with the amount of money needed to make the repairs, after a contractor has given a price estimate.

By following these simple (yet time-consuming!) steps, you will get approved for the loan you were expecting to receive prior to the storm, and be able to purchase the home you wanted before Hurricane Sandy came along and delayed the process.


6 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

November 19, 2012 6:06 pm

With the holidays soon to be in full swing, your stress levels may be through the roof. You have gifts to buy, food to prep, and you really wanted to redo your dining room before the in-laws arrived. Therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang offers the following tips on how we all can have a stress free, balanced and happy holiday season.

1. Remember what the holidays are really about - spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones. It's about giving love and joy to others. Watch your expectation; make sure they are realistic. We try for perfection during the holidays and we tend to forget what the holidays are really about. Remind yourself that the holidays are about being close to your loved ones while everything else come second.

2. Take care of you; during the busy holiday season we forget about ourselves. We worry so much about setting a nice table; buying and cooking the food; decorating the house; buying the presents; etc., we forget to take a time out and spend some quiet time alone. Yes it's the season of giving to others, but make sure to put yourself on your priority list and put yourself high up on the list. If we aren't feeling mentally, physically and emotional healthy, how we will be able to have a good holiday? The more time you put aside for you, the healthier and happier you will feel this holiday season.

3. Start early - before the holiday season is in full swing, start making your things-to-do lists, start your holiday shopping early this way when the holidays approach you're not scrambling for presents. Buy wrapping paper, holidays cards, etc. Wrap your gifts as you buy them. Be proactive. Having a lot done ahead of time is a huge stress relief and then you will enjoy going out for any last minute things knowing that the bulk of it is complete.

4. Ask for help - there is no reason why you have to do everything on your own. Delegate this holiday season. Ask each person who is coming to prepare a dish or a dessert. Make your holidays not about the cooking but more about the socializing. If everyone brings a dish this will make your shopping and cooking much easier. Don't feel guilty about it. Each year have everyone make it a point to help each other so everyone can enjoy the holidays. This can also be a great way to clean up after the holidays. Delegate the clean up from the dishes to vacuuming the house. If everyone chips in, it won't be so bad.

5. Be up front financially - tell family and friends what you can and can't do early on. If you know this will be a tough financial holiday season, then recommend other options such as: buying for the kids only, a grab bag, the charity option (everyone gives to a charity - whatever they can afford) instead of a gift, play a fun game like Yankee Swap where everyone buys one gift (set a value for it), or learn from our children - homemade gifts!

6. Gratitude - this is the time of year that we should spend more time counting our blessings, remembering what we have instead of worrying about what we don't. Instead of "Keeping up with the Jones's," take a minute to appreciate the abundance of love, health, family and friends. Teach your kids about abundance. They should know that the most important things in life are the things that make us the happiest: good relationships with family and friends, a partner we can share our life with and a full schedule of social activities that involve lots of smiling and laughing.


Word of the Day

November 19, 2012 6:06 pm

Buy-down. Cash payment to a lender to reduce the interest rate a borrower must pay on a new mortgage loan. Commonly used by builders to sell new homes.

Q: How Can I Make Energy Efficient Improvements to My Home?

November 19, 2012 6:06 pm

A: Begin by focusing on those small cracks and crevices around doors and windows. According to Lowe’s, a 1/8” space between a standard exterior door and its threshold is equivalent to a two square inch hole in the wall.

Close those gaps to save up to 15% in heating and cooling costs and also reduce the demand on your heating and cooling system. Other energy efficient steps: lower your water heater’s thermostat setting; blanket or insulate the water heater to reduce the amount of heat lost by the unit, particularly if it is located in an unheated area; insulate water pipes, at least the hot water pipes to prevent heat lost that can cause your water heater to work harder; change furnace filters to prevent reduced airflow through the heating/cooling system and overheating that can lead to premature compressor damage in the A/C systems; and install water-saving shower heads.

Planning a Hassle-Free Party

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

(BPT)—Planning a large celebration can be challenging. From setting a date that works for everyone to creating a fun party atmosphere, there is a lot of work that goes into planning the perfect event. Regardless of who the party is for, there are some ways to ensure your big party comes off without a hitch.

Renting makes sense

Few of us host large gatherings on a regular basis, so it's not surprising if you don't have enough seating on hand for a large group, or a supply of chafing dishes to keep everything warm on your buffet. Since you may only use these items once or twice a year, it doesn't make sense to buy them - plus, where would you store them for the rest of the year?

Fortunately, it's possible to rent just about everything you could possibly need to stage a large-scale celebration. Rental stores in your area carry party necessities from chairs and tables to place settings and stemware to festive decor. Just remember to reserve your items early, especially if your party is during a busy time of year like the holidays.

Where not to skimp
Saving money is vital when you're planning a big event. It's smart to look for the best deals you can find on rental items, and to find creative ways to save money. But every host knows there is one aspect of the party that can't be skimped on - and that varies from event to event, and crowd to crowd.

If you know your party will be heavily attended by foodies, you may want to spend a bit more on gourmet fare and cut costs in other areas. If your guests are the kick-up-their-heels type of crowd, it may make sense to invest more in live music or a DJ. Hosting a bevy of social butterflies? They may appreciate more upscale seating that affords them plenty of comfy places to sit and chat.

Knowing what you can rent to save money and where you have to spend is an essential part of staging a smashing soiree and saving money at the same time.

Special ways to spice things up
Every party should have at least one element that gives guests a delightful surprise. Maybe it's a make-your-own dessert station for the company holiday party, or a chocolate fountain for your large family gathering.

Whether it's adding elegant lighting and centerpieces for your New Year's Eve party, or a large screen television and games for your football party, adding a special touch can really set the tone for the event. It's easy to find these types of rental party items that make for a special surprise for your guests.


There’s No Better Time to Sell Your Home Than the Holidays

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

If your property has languished on the market since summer or fall, REALTOR® Rae Catanese has this uplifting news.

Catanese recently blogged that anyone shopping for a home during the holidays is most likely a serious buyer, and she wouldn’t sway people from listing their home for sale during the holiday season for several reasons.

She says typically there is less inventory on the market which will bring you more showings. The more showings you have the better chance of receiving an offer.

Bottom line, according to Catanese, is that you have less competition and may be able to get a higher price for your home than you would if people had more to choose from.

Also, your home and your neighbor’s home probably have more curb appeal decorated. Catanese believes the holiday season “gets people in the mood” to buy.

Since many people think about how their lives will change in the upcoming New Year, Catanese thinks buyers may be more likely to envision themselves starting a new life in a new home, and the decision to purchase could be less stressful.

In general, Catanese says people are more generous, happy, and friendly, which could make the negotiating process go a bit more smoothly in your favor.

Also, be flexible and prepared to show your home at a moment’s notice. People have less time during the holidays so you may wind up getting requests to show your home with very little time to prepare.

Buyers may also accommodate an early closing with a rent back or extended occupancy allowing the seller to stay in the property until after the holidays are over.

When marketing your house during the holiday season, you may have fewer actual showings, but the buyers may be more qualified and motivated. Sellers will have less competition, possibly resulting in a quicker sale and higher sales price.

Word of the Day

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

Building codes. Minimum construction standards set by state or local laws for public safety and health. Includes the design, construction, repair, and quality of building materials, as well as the use and occupancy of structures.

Q: Are There Routine Steps I Can Take Now to Avoid Major Home Improvements Later?

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

A: Get in the habit of taking an annual inventory of every single space in 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 major repairs to your home later.

3 Ways to Stay Healthy in Winter

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

We may be coming into the season of giving, but one thing nobody wants to give – or get – this winter is a a sneezy, runny-nosed, hacking-kind-of-cough-inducing cold. While there are no guaranteed ways to avoid colds or flu, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reminds us there are simple precautions everyone can take to minimize the spread of disease at home and in the workplace:

Practice good hygiene – Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water or hand sanitizer is a good way to avoid contamination from counters, desks and other hard surfaces we touch many times a day- and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze keeps viruses from becoming airborne. For maximum family protection, be sure your kids know and follow these rules as well.

Get a flu shot –
Vaccination is probably the best way to bypass the flu. If shots are not available in your workplace, they are available free or low-cost at local flu clinics everywhere.

Stay home when you are sick - Cold and flu symptoms may include cough, fever, chills, runny nose, headache, body aches and sore throat. One person infected with influenza has the potential to infect many other people for up to five days after their symptoms begin. If you or your kids experience cold or flu symptoms, it is important to stay home to avoid spreading disease to others.

  • Stay at home and get plenty of bed rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Ask your doctor which medications might be appropriate for you.

If you absolutely cannot avoid going to work or school while you are sick, avoid large gatherings and meetings. Try to use telephone and e-mail correspondence rather than face-to-face contact with co-workers.

Four Fast Shower Fixes

November 16, 2012 5:58 pm

(BPT) - For many people, the shower is an escape from reality ... perhaps the only 'me time' in an otherwise hectic day. But if your current shower isn't living up to your relaxing expectations, it may be time for a facelift. Don't think you have the time or money? Don't throw in the towel just yet - an improved shower is within your reach. Simply follow these four quick and easy fixes that will make an amazing improvement to the everyday enjoyment of your shower.

Curves ahead
Shower curtains may keep water where it should be, but they also have a tendency to make a shower feel smaller, dark and cramped. An easy solution to this problem is to install a curved shower rod. These unique rods add an elegant and luxurious look to the room while also moving the curtain away from your body, creating a more comfortable experience and adding up to 7 inches of elbow room. Whatever curved shower rod you choose, be sure to coordinate the finish to match the rest of your bath fixtures.

Downsize and organize

Fewer people are living alone these days, reports the National Association of Home Builders, which means you likely share your shower with others. A shower shelf is an ideal solution to provide adequate storage and keep everyone's everyday essentials neat and easily within reach.

Chance of showers
A simple showerhead update can dramatically improve your showering experience. With several styles available, the only difficult part is figuring out which one will suit your needs the best.

  • Rainshowers - If you're looking for relaxing, full-body coverage, a rainshower is the right choice for you. These showerheads are often larger than their standard counterparts, allowing the user to receive all-over coverage rather than a concentrated spray.
  • Handheld showers - With a handheld shower you're able to bring the water flow directly to you. This type of shower allows for any family member - no matter the size or age - to safely and easily shower.
  • Standard showerheads - Standard showerheads are far from basic. With many collections offering multi-function spray settings, it's easy to create a personalized showering experience.

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