RE/MAX 440
Home My Listings View Area Listings Inside Tours About Me Contact Login Helpful Links Mortgage Info Community Info School Info Tom's Blog Buying Selling Financing Glossary Home Ownership Testimonials

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
TwitterFacebookGoogleLinkedinYoutubePlaxo

Tom's Blog

Lessons in Leftovers: Make Sure They're Safe

September 17, 2012 6:02 pm

Saving leftovers to eat later is a great way to practice portion control and save money, but it's important to make sure leftovers are safe to eat according to Home Food Safety, a collaborative program of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods.

"Oftentimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Instead of overeating at home or a restaurant, save part of your meal to eat later," says registered dietitian and Academy Spokesperson Melissa Joy Dobbins. "Just make sure you're storing and reheating leftovers properly to keep them from making you sick."

Keep these food safety tips in mind when reheating leftovers:


  1. Refrigerate leftovers to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below within two hours of them being served to you. (In hotter weather over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate after one hour.)
  2. Seal leftovers in an airtight, clean container, and label it with the expiration date
  3. Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and use a food thermometer to make sure all types of food reach the safe minimum internal temperature throughout before you eat.
  4. Check on the shelf life of leftovers and discard when it's past the expiration date. When in doubt, throw it out!

"Unfortunately, you can't rely on sight and scent alone to tell if food is spoiled or contaminated with foodborne pathogens," Dobbins says. "That's why it's important to follow these simple steps, but a majority of Americans do not always do so, putting them at risk for food poisoning."

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 23 percent of Americans always use a food thermometer to check the doneness of their foods, and only 28 percent regularly check the refrigerator thermometer.

"It's important to properly store and reheat leftovers, whether at home or the office," she says. "Encourage your work place to regularly clean the office refrigerator and ensure it remains under 40 degrees Fahrenheit."

Source: www.homefoodsafety.org.
Tags:

5 Tips to Help Families Pay for College

September 17, 2012 6:02 pm

Most parents want to be able to provide a solid education for their kids. But with money tight in many households, tuition fees can be a major stressor, especially households with several college-aged kids.
Financially preparing for college in the face of rising high education costs can be a daunting task, but a sound savings strategy today can ease the strain of tomorrow's tuition costs.

"Exploring various options and planning early can make the cost for a college education much more tolerable," said Pete Schmidt, Vice President, Regional Sales Manager covering the Twin Cities for BMO Harris Financial Advisors, Inc., a part of BMO Financial Group. "Saving should be a priority as soon as possible because the decisions you make now will have a significant impact on how much money you have when your children are ready to head off to college."

Below are a few options to help families pay for college:

  • Consider a 529 Plan: Designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs, a 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by the state or an educational institution. 529 Plans can be used to help pay the costs of qualified higher education expenses at colleges nationwide. The federal tax law even provides special tax benefits to plan participants1. A common strategy is to set up an automatic transfer out of a checking account to a 529 Plan account. This helps spread out the cost over a longer period of time.
  • Set Up a Savings Account: Using cash for costs outside of tuition, such as books and a meal plan, will keep student loans and credit card debt down. Start a savings account specifically for these types of expenses. The student can also participate by depositing a percentage of money from summer or weekend jobs and from monetary gifts into the account to give them a sense of ownership. It's never too early or too late to begin saving for a college education.
  • Share your Plan with Others: If grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members know about your college savings plans, they can help out. They can deposit into a 529 Plan or savings account or buy Savings Bonds as birthday and holiday presents and help build up even more money to use toward college costs.
  • Apply for Federal Student Aid Programs: Through the use of grants, work-study programs, and federal loans, there are a variety of resources available to help fund a college education. Eligibility is different for each program. For further information, visit www.ed.gov.
  • Research Scholarship Opportunities: Scholarships are available to a variety of people through individual universities, county offices, privately held businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Your school's guidance counselor can be invaluable in providing information on local scholarship opportunities or scholarship information for specific colleges being considered, and a search of the Internet can provide additional resources for finding scholarship opportunities for a college education.

Source: www.bmoharris.com/financialadvisors.
Tags:

Boost Curb Appeal with Exterior Renovations

September 17, 2012 6:02 pm

(ARA) - If you were to take a look at a typical neighborhood today, you would see patterns of familiar home designs such as split-level, ranch or colonial. Most of these American styles were built between 1955 and 1985, when there was a need for mass-produced housing. Due to this suburban sprawl, many homes lost the originality and architectural appeal of classic styles built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

If you, like so many others, currently live in one of these houses, its lack of personality and curb appeal may have you thinking about making a change to the exterior. Yet the overwhelming amount of home design choices may have you wondering how to get started.

“Many times, homeowners are afraid to do more than replace existing windows or siding with new versions of the same product, simply because they can't visualize the possibilities for their home exterior,” says John Stephenson, senior vice president of marketing for Ply Gem, an exterior building products company.

To help picture what's possible in exterior home design and simplify product and color selection, homeowners now have the option to turn to digital home remodeling tools. Online visualizer tools, such as The Designed Exterior Studio by Ply Gem, allow consumers to find inspiration and experiment with renovation ideas, even before meeting with a contractor. Users can virtually update a home exterior with new colors and style options for siding, stone veneer, windows and more. Homeowners can save their designs, and easily share with a remodeling contractor.

“When meeting with a contractor about a remodel, doing research and having a visual of a preferred exterior style and color palette is a great way to get the conversation started,” says Stephenson. “The existing American housing stock has so much potential for beautiful design and architectural styling; new online visualization tools are designed to help both homeowners and their contractors realize the potential for these older homes.”

Before getting started on an exterior remodel, it's also important to understand the level of changes you want to make. Read through the following tips on making the most of an exterior renovation and provides some insight on how to prepare and get started.

  • If your home has great bones, but lacks curb appeal and originality, a simple refresh with new siding, windows and accents in different colors and textures can make a big difference.
  • New windows are also a noticeable architectural feature with the added benefit of increased energy efficiency in the home. Some key elements to consider for beautiful window design include style, grille pattern and color.
  • For an even more personalized home exterior upgrade, consider cosmetic, nonstructural architectural changes, in addition to the replacement of windows and siding.
“Adding elements to the roof such as window dormers or gables, or changing the entryway with a porch, can give your home personality and create a look that is reminiscent of classic architectural styles,” says Deryl Patterson, principal, BSB Design architecture firm. “These additions also provide visual interest to the exterior, giving it balance and elevation. In combination with appropriate material textures and colors, you can transform your home into an architecturally authentic style.”

Source: www.plygem.com
Tags:

Word of the Day

September 17, 2012 6:02 pm

Tax credit. An allowed deduction that can be subtracted from your income tax. If you are entitled to a $1,500 credit, and your income tax would otherwise be $10,000, the credit would reduce the tax due to $8,500.
Tags:

Q: What Are Some of the Legal Considerations Relative to Remodeling?

September 17, 2012 6:02 pm

A: There are many, including those surrounding zoning, permits, variances, and building codes. All of these regulations are the government’s way of controlling the physical development of land and public-safety standards for such things as building design, construction, alteration, repair or demolition. The regulations vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next and can result in fines or serious consequences. There are also often engineering approvals and requirements related to grading, site drainage, utility connections, wells and septics, and sometimes fire regulations. Another area of legal considerations involves contractual issues tied to responsibilities for permits and approvals, code and regulations compliance, insurance, financing, and warranties. If construction financing is to be provided by a lender, there will often be requirements relative to progress inspections, construction draws, lien waivers, title insurance, holdbacks, etc. It may be worthwhile to hire an attorney to provide guidance on these issues and to assure the completeness and fairness of the remodeling contract.
Tags:

Protect Yourself with The Latest Consumerfed Data (Part3)

September 14, 2012 5:58 pm

In our last segment we started drilling into the cache of data available in the latest federal Consumer Complaint Survey Report (consumerfed.org), compiled by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI).

Several of the top complaint categories involved homeowner, finance and mortgage issues, so we'll continue looking at some specific concerns to help protect you, your home and finances from unscrupulous schemes.

After one of the owners of a New Jersey furniture store embezzled money and assets from the business, forcing its abrupt closure, the Somerset County Division of Consumer Protection received 21 complaints from consumers who paid in full but never received their orders.

The cumulative loss was more than $60,000, while other customers were left with no recourse for damaged delivery, partial deliveries, and repairs that were promised but never made. And wouldn't you know it - the business filed for bankruptcy, offering little recompense to the consumers.

This story out of Jersey prompts the reminder: if you are paying in full for household goods or services that will be delivered at a future date, pay with a credit card, which gives you the right to dispute the charges if the merchandise never arrives or the services are never performed, or if what you get is not what you were promised.

Debit cards aren’t required to provide that protection, though some do voluntarily. Check with your card issuer before using it for that kind of purchase. And if you’re using a check or cash, pay only a small deposit, not the full amount - only pay the balance when the goods are delivered or work is completed.

If you do pay for purchases on installment against a debit card (versus a credit card) remember, businesses must have your express consent to take money from the account. Check your bank statements carefully and notify your bank immediately if you spot any unauthorized withdrawals.
Tags:

Want to Make Movies? Tips for Ambitious Amateurs

September 14, 2012 5:58 pm

Because technology is moving so quickly, it’s easy to miss out on gadgets that may impact one’s life.

“Anyone with a cell phone knows how accessible taking pictures and shooting footage is nowadays, but with a minimum of investment, movie fans can tell their own stories with the same professional hardware that legends are using today,” says seasoned filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber.

She completed her latest project, “Tides of the Heart” in collaboration with partner and renowned songwriter Daniel Jay Paul.

“It’s a feature-length music video – there’s no dialogue. The story is told completely through the music and Kerstin’s direction,” says Paul, whose latest album, “Clean Getaway,” not only makes up much of the score for the film, but also structures the plot.

“With the technology available today, you can really afford to experiment and innovate. That’s what keeps pushing the artistry to the next level,” he says.

Karlhuber and Paul offer suggestions for creative-minded individuals who have been kicking around ideas, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger on a project:

• The Canon EOS 5D Mark III: Canon v. Nikon … who cares? The point is that the big dogs in the film business, from James Cameron to Neill Blomkamp of indie-film success story “District 9,” are using digital gear that can be purchased by the average movie fan. The sharpest, crispest picture in the history of images can tell your story for a few thousand dollars.
• Adobe, CyberLink, Final Cut Pro, etc.: Film editing software, more than ever, is cheap, user-friendly and easy to acquire. There are several tutorial demonstrations available online, and if you need to come up with ideas for a project brainstorm with friends or family. That’s half the fun.
• Getting started: Sadly, most of the failure of creative projects – whether film, music, art or writing – involves work-ethic issues, or lack of confidence. Ask the following questions: How long have I been thinking about my idea? Is my vision doable? What’s keeping me from pursuing it? … And, perhaps the most insightful question – Why not?
• A little help from your friends: Chances are that if you’re a creative person, you have a few creative buddies who can help you troubleshoot concepts and technical issues. Lean on your artistic friends for moral support – they understand the struggle of the creative process. The same people may be a good source for constructive criticism, too, when the project is nearing completion.
• Consider trends: Karlhuber’s film has no dialogue and relies solely on Paul’s songs for sound. The most recent Oscar winner for best picture, “The Artist,” also features no dialogue, relying on old-school Hollywood visual drama. While this is a coincidence, Karlhuber says it has helped her film gain attention. “If your creative ideas happen to line up with a trending topic, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of the public’s zeitgeist,” she says.
Tags:

Are Books Doomed to Extinction?

September 14, 2012 5:58 pm

Michael Levin, a New York Times best-selling author, as well as editor, publisher, co-writer and ghostwriter, says he can see the writing on the iPad.

“Unless something changes, books as we know them are doomed, and not simply because people prefer to read on their iPads or Kindles,” says Levin.

“You’ll see the major publishing houses starting to go away in three to five years,” Levin says. “Their business model is in free fall. Already, we’re seeing books becoming shorter, cheaper, and diminishing in quality. You’ll soon see fewer really good authors bothering to write books, because books are no longer a meaningful source of revenue.”

Levin points to several developments he says foreshadow a sad ending for books:
• Attention spans are diminishing. Three-fourths of teachers said their students’ attention spans are shorter than ever, according to a poll released in June. By 11 years old, nearly half of the kids had stopped reading for pleasure. The poll, by publisher Pearson UK, is just the most recent survey/study documenting shrinking attention spans and a corresponding drift from books. “Part of the problem is children don’t see their parents reading,” Levin says. “Obviously, the kids’ aren’t the only ones with diminishing attention spans.”
• Major publishers are producing lower-quality books. The big publishing houses today are more interested in a quality marketing plan than in the quality of the book, so we’re being deluged by low-quality books. One reason is that many large publishers have stopped taking on the expense of marketing books, but they know it’s necessary for sales. So they take on authors with a marketing plan and budget. They’re also less interested in “star” authors, who demand higher royalties. They also lost authors when they eliminated advances in response to the 2008 recession.
• Books are moving to devices, where content is free and time is thin-sliced. Online, you don’t expect to pay for content. People will expect books available online to be either free or very inexpensive, and if those books turn out to be one chapter of ideas and eleven chapters of Hamburger Helper, they will be less willing to pay for them. Also, people don’t spend much time going into depth online; books are supremely inappropriate for the surface-skimming nature of the Internet. Once people have bought a bunch of ebooks they’ve never started, they’ll stop buying them altogether.
• Authors have a more difficult time earning a livable wage. Fewer authors can earn enough to make writing a full-time job. The audience is shrinking and fewer people are willing to pay $15 for a paper book when cheap alternatives are available. “We’ve already seen more books written to promote a product, service or company, or to brand the writer so he or she can pursue a more lucrative field,” Levin says. “Most books of the future will be marketing tools, since that’s the only way they’ll be profitable.”

Levin does find reason for hope, but it will require publishers to change how they do business.

“They need to stop trying to go after the mass market, which doesn’t exist anymore, settle on a niche and develop a brand. Publishers that stand for something in the reader’s mind – like Harlequin stands for romance – are built for the long haul,” he says.

Instead of publishing 500 low-quality books every year, major publishers should bring out only 50 top-quality winners and actually market them, he says. And publish how-to and other guidance and instructional books in concentrated form: short, powerful and to the point.

The rest of us have a job to do, too, Levin adds.

“People need to read, and they need to read to their kids or buy them books. If people stop demanding good books, there eventually will be none available,” he says. “The winners, going forward, will be that minority who still read and think for themselves. It’s a lot easier for government, the military, and the corporate world to control the way people think if they aren’t reading for themselves. That ought to be reason enough to save the book.”

Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc., has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others.

For more information, visit www.BusinessGhost.com.
Tags:

Word of the Day

September 14, 2012 5:58 pm

Subletting. The leasing of premises by a lessee to a third party for part of the lessee’s remaining term.
Tags:

Question of the Day

September 14, 2012 5:58 pm

Q: What Are Allowances and What Should I Know about Them When Planning with a Remodeling Contractor?

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.
Tags:




Learn more about Philadelphia County, Doylestown, Northampton County, Hilltown, Montgomery County, Ottsville, Chester County and Richlandtown and search all the real estate listings in the Perkasie area MLS. We have packed our site with tons of information about Revere, Hilltown, Ottsville, Doylestown, Perkasie Real Estate and Northampton County Real Estate plus what you need to know about buying and selling a home or condo. I offer full a full range of professional real estate services. On this Perkasie real estate site find Perkasie In Town and Suburban Properties, Land, Lots, Perkasie Golf Homes for Sale, Luxury Estates, Town Homes, Perkasie New Homes for Sale, Perkasie Condos, Town Homes, Real Estate, Perkasie Luxury Estates, Equestrian Estates and Perkasie Executive Homes For Sale. Search for Homes for Sale in Perkasie. You can also Search for Homes for Sale in Lehigh County and it's surrounding counties. Lehigh Valley Real estate ad Lehigh Valley homes or properties for sale.

Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

Franconia Pennsylvania real estate, Line Lexington Pennsylvania, Hilltown Pennsylvania, Revere PA properties, Trumbauersville PA properties, Gardenville PA, Kulpsville PA, Erwinna Pennsylvania homes for sale, Philadelphia County PA, Northampton County properties, Bucks County PA real estate, Blooming Glen Pennsylvania, Perkasie PA, Kintnersville properties, Richlandtown real estate, Mainland Pennsylvania, Bedminster PA, Montgomery County Pennsylvania properties, Hatfield PA homes for sale, Chester County Pennsylvania, Pipersville PA, Dublin Pennsylvania properties, Fountainville real estate, Upper Black Eddy properties, Plumsteadville properties, Souderton properties, Danboro Pennsylvania, Quakertown properties, Jamison Pennsylvania properties, Doylestown Pennsylvania real estate, Chalfont PA, Ottsville real estate, Sellersville homes for sale, Earlington PA homes for sale, Ferndale PA homes for sale, Colmar real estate, Lehigh County Pennsylvania real estate, Silverdale real estate, Tylersport PA homes for sale, Warrington PA homes for sale, Telford Pennsylvania properties