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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

Word of the Day

November 13, 2012 5:34 pm

Blockbusting. Illegal practice of creating panic selling in a neighborhood for financial gain. Typically exploits racial and religious bias to get homeowners to sell low so the properties can be resold at a mark up.
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Question of the Day

November 13, 2012 5:34 pm

Q: What Are Some Costs Associated with Selling My Home?
A: Besides the costs related to making repairs and improving the overall appearance of the home, as the seller you will also need to pay the following:

  • A real estate commission, if you use an agency to sell.
  • Advertising costs, marketing materials, and other fees if you sell the home yourself.
  • Attorney, closing, or other professional fees.
  • Title insurance
  • Excise tax for the sale.
  • Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, homeowner association fees, and fuel tank rentals.
  • Any other fees normally paid by sellers in your area, including points, survey, and appraisal fees.

To get a better handle on all costs, ask a real estate agent. Agents deal with this information daily and can give you a pretty good estimate of the closing costs you can expect to pay.
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Junk in The Trunk (or Closet) Won’t Help You Sell Your House

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

I recently ran across some great advice from Bob Fales, a real estate professional in Hampstead, Maryland. Fales says if you are selling your house, having a cluttered closet will damage your chances of getting the best price.

He believes that people will view cluttered closets as a sign your house doesn’t have enough storage. So here are some tips Fales offers to better organize your closets:

First, he says, invest in a closet organizer. Imagine how you (and potential buyers) would feel to see your closets tidily organized.

A closet organizer is probably the best way to achieve the look you are going for - and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Fales says you can buy ready-made units that fit into most closets.

Most use a modular system that allows you to mix and match units and fit them together as you wish. You can choose between units made of solid panels or wire systems.

Alternatively, you can mix and match them both to meet your needs.

Closet organizers should include shelves for bulky items such as sweaters, drawers for smaller items, and rods for clothing that needs to be hung up. Consider also storage for shoes, such as a rack that hangs on the back of a door.

When designing your system, make sure you consider things such as the length of the clothes that are to be hung, and how much space you need to devote to items such as sweaters. Then, consider which items you need to access easily on a daily basis and which can be stored out of reach.

A closet that isn’t packed with useless stuff is easier to keep organized and will keep your clothes from getting crushed.
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Hassle-Free Shipping Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

For the millions of Americans traveling over the holidays, the details of planning and pulling off a trip can make the season anything but jolly. Fortunately, you can take some of the hassle out of holiday travel by planning—and shipping—ahead.

Ship Gifts Ahead
Instead of lugging gifts on an airplane or having gifts take up space in the car, consider shipping them to your destination ahead of time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before sending your gifts on their way:

  • Use the proper materials: a new cardboard box designed for shipping, professional-grade packaging tape, and packaging material such as foam packaging peanuts or bubble cushioning (at least two inches all around).
  • Put a label inside of the package, including both the destination and return addresses.
  • Use a shipping option that provides a package tracking number.
  • Take batteries out of toys, electronics, etc., before shipping, and wrap them separately inside the package.
  • Seal home-made holiday treats in an airtight container or plastic bag before packing them in a shipping box. Use an expedited air service, such as UPS Next Day Air.

If you don't have the time or proper packaging supplies, or just need some help preparing gifts for shipment, you can take them to certified packing experts at The UPS Store and take advantage of their Pack & Ship Guarantee.

You can avoid long lines at the post office -- The UPS Store has extended hours during the holidays and also offers USPS services.

Key Dates for Holiday Shipping

Mondays are typically the busiest shipping days.

  • The busiest week of the 2012 season is expected to be December 17 to 21.
  • Most UPS Ground packages require five days or less to reach their destination, but if you're shipping coast-to-coast, it may take longer.
  • If you are shipping internationally, contact The UPS Store location nearest you to determine the best date to ensure on-time delivery.
  • The U.S. Postal Service says packages to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should be mailed by Dec. 1 in order to arrive in time for Christmas; mail going to other military overseas APO/FPO locations needs to be sent by Dec. 16.

Last-Minute Shipping Dates (for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24)

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19 -- Ship UPS 3 Day Select
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 -- Ship UPS 2nd Day Air
  • Friday, Dec. 21 -- Ship UPS Next Day Air

Ship Luggage Ahead
To cut down on baggage fees and time in line at the airport, you may want to think about shipping your luggage. There are several ways you can do this: shipping a suitcase as-is; packing and shipping a suitcase in a box; or purchasing a luggage box instead of using a suitcase.

By putting luggage in a box, you can protect your luggage and provide a good surface for a shipping label.

Here are some helpful tips for packing and shipping your luggage:


  • Be sure to notify the place you will be staying that you are expecting a package. That way, they will sign for the package even if it arrives before you do.
  • Make sure you have the correct destination address. Some hotels and resorts have a separate luggage receiving address.
  • Put an additional address label inside the luggage or box in case the outside label is damaged or lost.
  • Cut down on your hassle by having your shipment professionally packed at a local pack-and-ship retailer, such as The UPS Store. Expert packing is especially recommended for fragile items and odd or oversized items.
  • By using a shipping option such as UPS, you can track your luggage all the way to its destination, even via cell phone or other web-enabled wireless devices.
  • If you are shipping your belongings ahead to your destination, you'll probably need to send items back home as well. One option is to pack a flattened box and a roll of packaging tape for sending home gifts, souvenirs, or even dirty laundry.
  • Because of the duties and taxes associated with international shipments, it is not recommended that luggage is shipped internationally.

The average weight of an empty suitcase is 10 pounds. To reduce weight -- and shipping costs -- skip the suitcase, and pack your clothes and other items directly in a sturdy box. Select The UPS Store locations now offer two sizes of luggage boxes that can replace a suitcase. A large luggage box weighs about 4 pounds and a small box about 3 pounds.

Both boxes meet airline baggage restrictions, so you could take them on your flight instead of suitcases, if you wish. The small box can be carried on, and the large box can be checked in without assessing an additional oversize charge.

With a little forethought and a bit of planning, a few proactive steps can help ensure your holiday travel goes smoothly. To learn more about rates and your best holiday shipping options, use the online cost calculator at www.theupsstore.com.

Be Prepared

Minimize travel hassles by doing some prep work before you leave town.

If you're checking baggage, don't pack items you can't do without. If your luggage gets lost or delayed, you'll miss those essential items. Pack them in your carry-on bag.

Whether you're driving or flying, make the time go faster with plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Load up mobile devices with games, songs, ebooks and movies. Give each child their own entertainment backpack with age-appropriate toys and activities.

Make sure your vehicle is road-ready. Have it looked at by your local auto shop to be sure everything is in good working condition. Make sure tires are inflated properly. And pack a winter safety kit, just in case.

Shipping Safely
Due to FAA restrictions, you cannot ship hazardous materials, including colognes and perfumes, aerosol sprays, nail polish and cigarette lighters via air service.

There are two good rules of thumb to follow to avoid shipping hazardous materials:

If it's flammable, take it out of your luggage.

If you're in doubt, remove the item from your luggage, or ask a The UPS Store packing expert.

Source: www.theupsstore.com
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Celebrating the Holidays with Your Pet

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

Holiday time means more family time—and that includes time with your four-legged family members. If your pet deserves some special holiday love, here are some "pawfect" ideas to help you celebrate the holidays together.

Stocking Stuffers - Hang a stocking on the mantle for your pet and fill it with holiday toys and treats. A new chew toy, a catnip-filled mouse, special treats to eat -- there are plenty of ways to fill up a pet stocking with fun, budget-friendly items.
Showing Holiday Spirit - Dress up your pet with some seasonal winter outfits. Too cutesy for you? A holiday colored collar can give a more subtle effect.
Safe Treats - Dogs would love to nibble on your holiday table scraps, but that's not always a good thing. Keep your treats out of their reach, and make pets their own holiday bites with the new Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat Maker. You can make delicious doggie snacks using ingredients already in your pantry, like peanut butter.
Share the Love with Pet-Themed Gifts - The Top Fin Grinch and Max Sleigh Fishbowl is a fun, decorative piece that will look great in your child's room. Personalized food dishes, mats and pet beds are always a special gift to give. Or, win over the wine lover in your life with pet-themed wine glasses and accessories.
Gifts that Give Back - You can help save homeless pets by purchasing collectible Luv-A-Pet plush toys. This year choose from Chance, the adopted dog; Lucky, the adopted cat; and a special Bret Michaels-inspired version of Chance. Ten percent of the purchase price goes to PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America.

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

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

Blanket mortgage. Single mortgage that covers more than one real property, i.e. – a house plus the vacant lot next door.
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Q: How Can I Get a Quick Sale, Particularly in a Slow Market?

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

A: One of the most important things to consider is price. You may want to reduce the price of your home or, at the very beginning, set it at a low price that will generate more buyer interest.

Cash is often an incentive, both for the buyer as well as the agent. You could offer the buyer a $1,000 to $2,000 decorating rebate upon closing the deal. It is also not uncommon to offer the selling agent a $500 bonus. However, some brokers – who supervise agents and run real estate offices – may prohibit such incentives, as do some Realtor boards. Check to find out.

Other common incentives: paying for the property inspection and warranty policy and getting your home preliminarily approved for FHA and VA loans, thereby making it more attractive to a larger number of buyers. Contact a lender who writes FHA-insured and VA-guaranteed loans.
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Q: What causes a foreclosure?

November 9, 2012 8:54 pm

A: A lender decides to foreclose on, or repossess, a property when the owner fails to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately, thousands of homes end up in foreclosure every year.  

Many people lose their homes due to job loss, credit problems, divorce, unexpected expenses, and during periods of economic instability.

Failure to pay property taxes may also cause a homeowner to lose his home.  Trouble can also arise when owners neglect to pay local water bills and home insurance premiums.
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Word of the Day

November 9, 2012 8:54 pm

Balloon loan.  Mortgage loan in which a larger final payment becomes due because the loan amount was not fully amortized.
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How-To: Simplify Holiday Shipping

November 9, 2012 8:54 pm

The holidays are usually pretty hectic, and the last thing you need is to stress over shipping your holiday gifts. With millions of packages moving across the country every day, knowing how to pack and when to ship your gifts can save you time and money, taking the hassle out of holiday shipping.
These tips from FedEx will help you ensure the safe and timely delivery of your holiday packages.

Smart Packing Tips

Use new, sturdy boxes with the flaps intact, and do not reuse boxes. Select a box that is large enough to accommodate the proper thickness of cushioning material.

Wrap items individually with cushioning material and center them in cartons away from other items and away from the sides, corners, top and bottom of the box.

Choose cushioning of appropriate density and thickness, and use enough to fill all void spaces in your shipping container. Position at least two inches of bubble wrap, peanuts or other packing materials on all sides, and use a heavy duty tape designed for packaging.

Double-box fragile items with three inches of cushioning in and around the smaller box.

For odd- or irregular-shaped items, be sure to wrap and tape all sharp edges or protrusions.

Position the shipping label squarely on the most visible side of the container away from any folds or seams. Provide complete sender and recipient addresses, including zip codes and telephone numbers. Make sure the label is properly and securely attached. FedEx also recommends placing an extra label, business card or letterhead with the shipper's address and phone number inside the package before sealing it.

Apply at least three strips of packing tape (no duct or masking tape) to the top and bottom sides of the container using the H taping method.

Don't be afraid to ask for packing and shipping help. There are more than 1,800 FedEx Office Print & Ship Center locations around the world that provide a variety of packing and shipping supplies and services.
Smart Shipping Tips

Send your gifts ahead. If you are traveling this holiday season, take the hassle out of carrying wrapped packages with you by sending your gifts ahead of your arrival.

Ship early in the season. This will allow you to avoid the lines and provide you with a greater selection of shipping service options.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines
For delivery in time for Christmas, the last day to ship with FedEx Ground is Monday, December 17, and the last day to ship with FedEx Express is Saturday, December 22.


Source: www.fedex.com.  
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