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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: Are Victims Whose Homes Are Damaged by Natural Disasters Granted Any Tax Relief?

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

A: Damage, destruction, or loss of property from fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters are deductible from both state and federal income taxes.

If destruction is caused by an event deemed a federal disaster by the president, homeowners can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return. This helps to dramatically cut the wait for tax refund money that can immediately be used to make repairs or pay for living expenses.
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5 Ways to Brat-Proof Your Child

September 24, 2012 6:20 pm

A kid in preschool may not care if your child doesn’t say, “excuse me.” He may not even care if she uses her fork like a shovel. But he likely will care if your child keeps all the Legos to himself – or resorts to hitting instead of talking.

“Good manners still matter in today’s society,” says Robin Thompson, founder of etiquette.com. “Once your child is a toddler, it’s time to teach him or her that everyone else has feelings too, and that being polite is a wonderful way to make himself and others feel happier.”

Thompson offers five ways to start:

Lead by example – Children observe their parents’ behavior far more than you realize, and they learn how to act by watching you. Be sure to use, “please” and “thank you” even in your own home, and be on your best behavior when interacting with the neighbor, the postman, or the grocery store clerk.
Eat at the table regularly – Eating at the table instead of the on the couch in front of the TV gives you the chance to encourage your child to place her napkin on her lap, not to talk when her mouth is full, and wipe her mouth when she is finished.
Prompt kids in social situations – Encourage your child to say ‘please’ and thank you,’ to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye,’ to share with others, and to wait his turn.
Be consistent – All caregivers should be aware of the expectations you have set for your child and consistent in enforcing them. Even shy children catch on to what’s expected if everyone is on the same page.
Praise is a good teacher – Be sure to praise him when your child has exhibited good table manners, or behaved politely in a social situation. Praise is the best kind of reinforcement.
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The Ins and Outs of Metal Roofing

September 24, 2012 6:20 pm

Your roof is your home’s biggest protector, so it’s no wonder that people want the best possible material for their roof. One choice that is becoming increasingly popular is metal roofing. Hailstorms, hurricanes, heavy snow and wildfires can all cause extensive damage to a home. In the U.S., approximately 10 percent of homeowners now choose a metal roof when remodeling.

Extreme Weather
Metal roofing systems are designed to stand up to extreme weather conditions. For homes in hurricane-prone areas, metal roofing's durability is a key factor to consider when re-roofing. Many metal roofing systems have a 120-mph wind rating and uplift resistance that exceeds new building code requirements. They are also highly resistant to hail damage. Hail will not penetrate a metal roof. Metal roofing products have the highest impact resistance and hail rating granted by Underwriters' Laboratory (UL). Most metal roofing products earn a UL2218 Class 4 rating, meaning that a sample of the product did not crack when it hit twice in the same spot by a 2-inch steel ball, which would translate into a huge hailstorm.

Natural Disasters
Washington state homeowner David Gordon experienced firsthand the importance of selecting the right roofing system when the metal roof he chose protected his home from being engulfed by the deadly Cle Elum wildfire. In the high wind conditions common in a wildfire, burning pine needles and debris can easily ignite a traditional asphalt roof.

"The odd thing is, we choose our metal roof primarily to help with shedding the heavy snow loads we get in our area. As it turns out, our metal roof saved our home when the wildfire swept through our area," explained Gordon.

Durability
Metal roofing materials interlock, forming a protective barrier that other roofing materials do not provide. The interlocking system makes the roof stronger and more resistant to high winds.
"Smart homeowners recognize the investment value in a metal roof," says Bill Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance. "In fact, 61 percent of consumers who choose a metal roof cite durability as the top reason for their choice. "

Source: www.metalroofing.com.
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Made in America: Brick Options Rise with Housing Upswing

September 24, 2012 6:20 pm

As the U.S. housing market reports a cautious rebound, genuine clay brick manufacturers continue to invest in progressive technology for sustainable exteriors in more textures and colors at a wider price range. Historically a provider of steady jobs, brick manufacturers continue to increase environmental efficiency with environmentally-friendly plants to offer Made-in-America quality--and endless green building design options.

"Brick is where the imagination meets green living," says Gregg Borchelt, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA). "There is no substitute for American-made genuine clay brick exteriors — unlike synthetic building materials that are fabricated to look like something they're not," he said.

Over the course of 100 years, the American brick industry has provided good-paying jobs with employees working 15, 20 or even 30-plus years — often in small and rural communities where the plants are based. Like farm to table, genuine clay brick is made from local resources at least two brick plants are located within 500 miles of 49 of the country's top 50 metropolitan areas.

Leading examples include:

  • The first brick plant built to Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED)® Gold standards with virtually waste-free manufacturing -- the use of landfill gas, natural day lighting, a cool roof and indigenous landscaping all add to the plant's sustainability
  • A growing selection of machine-molded antiques with added textures for the look of handmade brick at a lower cost
  • Increasingly incorporating genuine clay brick as an element of sustainable building design
  • Brick apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod and Web-based programs: to envision and choose brick exteriors in various colors and textures, including matching mortar to the brick for a monochromatic, seamless look
  • Increasing details/design options to personalize the home, including custom arches, window sills, quoin corners, artistic brick designs above doorways and other locations

While some other exterior options may cost less initially, genuine clay brick offers a superior value through benefits including low- to no maintenance, superior durability, enduring beauty, superior moisture control, design flexibility with many color choices, patterns, textures and custom blends. Genuine clay brick is also free of volatile organic compounds with virtually no waste and is inherently fire resistant.

Source: www.gobrick.com
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Word of the Day

September 24, 2012 6:20 pm

Title. Actual ownership; the right of possession; also the evidence of ownership such as a deed or bill of sale.
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Q: Can I Deduct Improvements Made to My Home?

September 24, 2012 6:20 pm

A: Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Your gain is defined as your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

The IRS defines improvements as those items that “add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses” – such as putting in new plumbing or wiring or adding another bathroom.
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Weatherize Your Home to Save Dollars, Keep Out Drafts

September 21, 2012 6:10 pm

(ARA) - Many homeowners expect their heating costs to rise as cold weather creeps around the corner. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to keep your energy costs (and your thermostat) low during the winter.

“In colder climates, it's important for homeowners to keep their residences warm and energy bills low by weatherizing,” says Vageesh Bakhshi, category manager at ShurTech Brands, LLC. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can usually save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs by properly sealing their homes. Weatherizing is a simple and affordable DIY project that can be completed in just one day, or even a weekend.”

Weatherizing your house from top to bottom can help keep your family warm and toasty while saving money. Don't be left in the cold - learn ways to properly prepare your home for whatever weather this winter may bring.

Protect your home from the attic cold

The attic is often overlooked as a source of energy loss. Although insulated, the attic is a “big hole,” especially the attic stairway opening, which can allow cold air to enter the home, forcing you to turn up your heat. Combat the cold with an attic stairway cover -- they're flexible and lightweight, easy to install and help prevent cold drafts from seeping into your home through the attic stairway opening.

Combat the cold by sealing holes

Nooks and crannies are perfect for storing clothes and keepsakes, but they're also where you occasionally find thinning wall insulation and holes, which are the main culprits of escaping heat - and dollars. To ensure your home is well-protected, cover and seal holes with a spray foam or foam board to block cold air. Also make sure to check all plumbing, ducts and electrical wiring areas that penetrate through walls, floors, ceilings and soffits over cabinets. These areas are likely to have air leaks that can be easily caulked to block any potential air infiltration.

Winterize windows for added warmth
To keep your home warm and comfortable, it's important to cover all your bases, and windows are no exception. Casements are a prime location for heat to seep out and cold to creep in, so keep your house warm and draft-free by weatherizing windows with products like Duck brand Roll-On Window Kits. Made of a clear shrink film, these window kits provide an added barrier between the winter chill and your home, and come with a pre-taped edge for easy installation. Once spring arrives, simply peel the film from your windows and discard.

Fight strong winds with a storm door

When old man winter comes knocking, block his entrance with a storm door. These durable doors are installed in front of the home's access doors to protect against harsh weather, keeping your family warm and cozy. Storm doors increase the insulation of entrances by lowering the amount of air transferred with each entry and exit. When aligned well with the architecture of the home, they can add instant beauty and protection, while helping make your energy bill more appealing, too.

By following these weatherization tips, you can rest assured that your home's interior will be a little more protected from frightfully cold conditions.

Source: www.duckbrand.com.
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Squeaky Clean Tips to Simplify Your Laundry Routine

September 21, 2012 6:10 pm

If it seems that you can never quite diminish the size of your laundry pile, you're not alone. Laundry is a part of everyday life and the more people in your household, the bigger the pile and the more often you need to wash. Designate one place in your home to be the laundry zone and sort through these time-saving tips to make your laundry routine faster and easier, leaving you with more time to do the things you love.

De-clutter and reorganize. Clear some space from your shelves to give yourself more room to work in the laundry room. Get rid of old containers, trash and even those stray socks missing their pair. Place a small basket or tray near the washer for collecting small items and loose change found in pockets. This prevents clutter as well as accidents in the wash. Larger baskets labeled delicates, lights and darks help to keep clothes easily sorted and off of the floor.

Essentials at-the-ready. Keep frequently used items easily accessible by placing them on a shelf designed to fit on top of your washing machine. Store smaller items in stackable baskets or bins so they aren't in the way. Make sure your detergent is placed high enough so that little hands can't grab it, but within reach for older kids to take over their own laundry chores.

Get rid of hassle and bulk. Save yourself from the trouble of heavy bottles and messy spills. Choose a multi-purpose detergent that comes pre-measured.

Sort and go. Give everyone in the family their own small mesh laundry bag for items that tend to get lost and mixed-up such as socks and underwear. Collect the bags and throw them in the washer and dryer together so that everything stays sorted.

Prep for final steps. Save time from ironing by pulling clothes directly from the dryer after the cycle is complete. Keep a stack of hangers nearby to hang clothes immediately for a wrinkle-free wardrobe. Designate an area of nearby countertop or a table to make folding and organizing clothes out of the dryer quicker.

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

September 21, 2012 6:10 pm

Tenants in common. Style of ownership in which two or more persons purchase a property jointly, but with no right of survivorship and separate undivided interests. They are free to will their share to anyone they choose, a principal difference between this form of ownership and joint tenancy.
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Q: What is the first step to buying a home?

September 21, 2012 6:10 pm

A: Make sure you are ready – psychologically and financially. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have steady income? Is my debt lower than my total income? Do I have enough money to pay for the down payment and closing costs? Am I working hard enough to improve bad credit?

A house needs constant care and attention. Also ask yourself if your budget will allow for unexpected repairs and upkeep. Once you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you are several steps ahead of the game and that much closer to becoming a homeowner.
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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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