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
July 27, 2012 6:20 pm
A: Yes. A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the two most common and reliable ways to determine a home's value.
Your real estate agent can provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. Reviewing comparable homes that have sold within the past year along with the listing, or asking, price on current homes for sale should prevent you from overpricing your home or underestimating its value.
A certified appraiser can provide an appraisal of a home. After visiting the home to check such things as the number of rooms, improvements, size and square footage, construction quality, and the condition of the neighborhood, the appraiser then reviews recent comparable sales to determine the estimated value of the home.
You also can check recent sales in public records, through private firms, and on the Internet to help you determine a home’s potential worth.
July 27, 2012 4:20 pm
Just as fashion designers in the apparel industry sweat over every button, stitch and pleat, the floorcovering industry has its own designers who diligently follow trends in order to give homeowners the most current offerings on the market.
"Home decorating trends change in the same way clothing fashion does," says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). "What's in our closets evolves, and the same goes for the décor of our homes. Flooring's no exception."
Laminate flooring gets its beauty from a photographic image fused beneath a protective layer, which makes it particularly adaptable to new designs.
"Any design you can imagine is possible in laminate," Dearing says. "Unique and rare species that aren't possible in real wood, and marbles and stones that would cost thousands of dollars – all of it's possible in laminate design."
Here's what's hot with homeowners.
Extremely Realistic Looks – Look for authentic reproductions of the original material. "Enhanced realism is definitely the hottest trend in laminate flooring design," Dearing says. "Reclaimed looks, subtle embossing – the visuals have never been more realistic. The ever-changing laminate market has driven design to become more realistic."
While the rustic, time-worn look in wood continues to be a favorite style with homeowners, laminate flooring now can replicate distressed hardwood styles and hand-scraped finishes, nail holes, saw marks and other natural features of reclaimed wood. With wood looks comprising nearly 80 percent of laminate sales – ceramic tile, marble and stone replications constitute the balance – oak and hickory looks are faring well.
Growth in Bamboo – Manufacturers are moving beyond traditional wood looks with the introduction of near-flawless replications of strand-woven bamboo. It's the next big thing for laminate.
Dimensions of Design – The trend is thicker, wider, longer. Laminate planks are available in longer lengths and wider widths that more closely replicate wood floors.
Shining Bright – There's greater interest in high-gloss flooring. All finishes are available in laminate, from matte to high gloss and everything in between. And maintaining a scratch- and fade-resistant laminate floor is a breeze, so it will stay looking good for years to come.
The New Neutral – Grays in all tints, tones and shades are becoming a mainstay in the new color palette. They provide a neutral but interesting option for laminate design.
Going Green – Buying green has progressed from a trend to a way of life for many homeowners. Consumers are choosing products that have recycled content, and NALFA-certified laminate is inherently green. A product's lifecycle is also a green consideration, and laminate is known for its extreme durability.
Home Grown – There's been a surge in the significance of "Made in North America." Consumers feel more confident trusting the quality of laminate products manufactured at home under higher standards.
Value Shopping – With budget in the forefront of consumers' minds these days, homeowners are looking for high quality. But they want to be sure they're getting a good value. Affordable luxury is the objective. The most in-demand laminate designs have high-end looks at affordable prices.
Something Different – Cement is popular in commercial settings, and it's a laminate look that's drifting to homes.
SOURCE North American Laminate Flooring Association www.nalfa.com
July 27, 2012 4:20 pm
(ARA) - A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you're thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:
Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you'll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of "good debt" that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you're a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it's a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.
A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you've read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it's time to sell - whether you've stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term - you'll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.
Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense - housing costs - will be locked-in.
Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don't do much for you - such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it's the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.
Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It's been a buyer's market for a long time, but that's going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You'll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.
If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.
July 27, 2012 4:20 pm
Life is full of adventures, and no one wants to spend valuable family or free time in the laundry room. But between messy meals and everyday oopses, stains are bound to happen.
Aside from letting your washer and dryer do the heavy lifting, there are a few tricks of the trade worth keeping in mind when it comes to protecting clothing items, according to laundry expert Tara Aronson. "There's more to prolonging the life of your garments than simply checking pockets and choosing the right cycle," offers Aronson.
Put these five tips to the test to help better care for your garments, so you can spend less time sorting and treating stains, and more time with the family.
Spot, Treat, and Check - If you spill on a garment, immediately rinse or blot away the stain using cool water to prevent it from setting. Make sure to read fabric care labels and wash accordingly to help clothing last. And before you toss garments into the wash, be sure to double-check the pockets, as well as zip zippers and fasten buttons - this helps cut down on snags, holes, etc.
Sort, Sort, Sort - Sort laundry by color, wash cycle and water temperature required. Make it easier on yourself and your family by placing bins marked for whites, darks, mediums and delicates in your laundry room.
Choose the Right Cycle - High efficiency appliances, such as the line of Affinity washers and dryers from Frigidaire, can wash clothing on various cycles. This means you can launder sturdy items such as jeans on the permanent press cycle using warm water, causing less agitation, while washing swimsuits, fine knits and undergarments on the delicates cycle with cold water. The Affinity collection also features quick cycles, allowing you to wash and dry a load in 45 minutes, so you can run a full load while preparing dinner for the family.
Double-duty - If your clothing is heavily soiled, extra-large, or you want to use the cold water setting, add extra laundry detergent when you start the cycle. Some high efficiency washers feature a sanitize setting, which uses the hottest water available to thoroughly get rid of germs and grime.
Quick Dry - Dry only full loads—drying only a handful of garments prolongs the drying time by reducing the tumbling. If you have to dry a smaller load, add a few bath towels to help with tumbling.
July 27, 2012 4:20 pm
Option. The exclusive right to purchase or lease a property at a predetermined price or rent at some future time.
July 27, 2012 4:20 pm
A: The short answer: a home is ultimately worth what is paid for it. Everything else is really an estimate of value. Take, for example, a hot seller’s market when demand for housing is high but the inventory of available homes for sale is low. During this time, homes can sell above and beyond the asking price as buyers bid up the price. The fair market value, or worth, is established when “a meeting of the minds” between you and the buyer takes place.
July 26, 2012 6:18 pm
Sure, maybe zombie-lovers are flocking to Senoi, Ga., to check out filming of the hit cable series The Walking Dead. But there are also some great ideas to bring your place back from the dead in Senoia, home of the Southern Living 2012 Idea House - a historic 1830 circa farmhouse
In this segment we’ll look at the second half of our Top-10 list of Ballard Designs' hand-picked accessories that are breathing new life into the 2012 Idea House.
6. The Calissse 4-Light Pendant is a classic choice to use over a table, in an entry hall or stairwell. The tiered top and clear glass panes recall the romantic candle lit lantern fixtures of the 19th century. A hinged glass panel door allows easy change of bulbs. Priced at $250.
7. Or how about a Julian Apothecary Lamp? This light is designed in the style of traditional pharmacy lamps, the stem telescope, so you can set it to the perfect height. A pivoting shade and adjustable neck helps focus light exactly where you need it. Priced at $99.
8. Available in 18 different finishes, Ballard’s Louis XVI Armoire stands almost 7 feet tall and offers the storage of an additional closet. This armoire is crafted in Italy with fluted side rails, medallion accents and bulb feet. Paneled doors conceal three adjustable shelves and floating back panels, so you can also use it as a media center. Priced at $1799.
9. To compliment your Louis XVI Armoire, go for the matching dresser, also available in 18 finishes. This single Dresser has nicely turned legs crowned in carved rosettes. Beaded drawers with antique brass ring pulls feature protective dust panels and hand painted Italian paper drawer liners. Priced at $1099.
10. Fill Ballard's versatile Seagrass Hurricane with colorful stones, seasonal balls or submerged blooms. With its grand scale and natural texture, the Southern Living Seagrass Hurricane makes an instant statement, inside or out. Add candles or simple stems to create a memorable centerpiece for any occasion. Priced between $45 and $75.
Want to check out more 2012 Idea House accessories and furnishings? Visit ballarddesigns.com. And to learn about visiting the Senoia area and the 2012 Idea House through December 23, visit southernliving.com.
July 26, 2012 6:18 pm
The warm sunshine of summer brings with it more than just trips to the beach - it also brings an increase in auto theft and auto theft-related crimes, according to H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts), Michigan's statewide vehicle theft prevention program.
According to the FBI, July marks the start of the high season for car theft. In 2010, a car was stolen every 42.8 seconds for a total of 737,000 car thefts resulting in $4.5 billion in losses for American car owners.
"While you're out enjoying the summer sunshine, thieves are out looking for unsuspecting victims," saysTerri Miller, director of H.E.A.T. "Don't make yourself an easy target because you forgot to roll up your windows or left your keys in the car while cooling it down. Michigan drivers need to be educated, aware, and take an active role in protecting themselves and their property."
H.E.A.T. provides Michigan drivers with the following tips for keeping cars and belongings safe throughout the warm weather months:
• Lock It Up – Always lock your car when leaving it, and remember to set alarms or other anti-theft devices every time you get out. Close windows tightly, and don't forget the sunroof or convertible top. You can also add a second layer of protection to your vehicle by using a steering wheel locking device, a steering column protector or an alarm with a visible indicator.
• Watch Those Wheels – Invest in locking lug nuts and park in your garage whenever possible. Thieves target easy-to-steal tires and rims.
• Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Keep all personal belongings, including GPS systems, MP3 players, cellphones and other valuables, out of sight.
• Give and Go – No car is worth your life. If approached by a carjacker, give up your car. Most carjackings involve a weapon, so give them your keys and get away from the scene quickly.
• Keep Watch and Report Crime – Help keep your neighborhood safe by writing down descriptions, license plate numbers and other helpful information. Report any suspicious activity. If you know anything about auto theft, chop shops, carjacking or insurance fraud, report it day or night to your local police department.
July 26, 2012 6:18 pm
Thousands of children are treated for injuries related to playground equipment each year. The numbers are alarming and parents should pay attention.
Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show the following results for kids 3-16 years in the U.S in 2011:
• Approximately 104,157 were treated for injuries from swing sets
• More than 8,800 from seesaws or teeterboards
• Approximately 80,668 from slides and sliding boards.
"In addition to falls and other types of injuries, a playground's surface, design and maintenance also are major factors contributing to mishaps on the playground," says orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Dr. John Gaffney, DO. "For example, knowing what types of playground surfaces to avoid, or being aware of potential injuries that happen from common practices like going down the slide with a child in your lap are great places to start."
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following safety tips:
Tips for Parents:
• Avoid playgrounds that have concrete, asphalt, hard-packed dirt, or grass. Recommended surfaces include shock-absorbing unitary materials like rubber mats or loose fill such as double-shredded bark mulch, engineered wood fibers, sand, and fine or medium gravel of suitable depth.
• Steer children to age-appropriate playground equipment.
• Check to see that there is enough space for kids to easily get off the slide or merry-go-round. Don't let children crowd exit areas.
• Try the handgrips on monkey bars and other climbing devices to verify they are shaped and sized for easy grasp.
• Swing seats should be made of plastic or rubber. Avoid metal or wood.
• Avoid any equipment that has openings that could entrap a child's head.
• Be sure you can clearly see your children on the playground.
Tips for kids:
• Play on dry equipment.
• Hold on to handrails and climb all stairs or steps slowly.
• Slide one person at a time, sitting down and facing forward, and move away from the slide as soon as they reach the ground.
• Be careful crossing in front of moving swings or teeter-totters.
• Remove drawstrings and hoods from clothing that could catch on equipment.
• Use care in the sun. In hot weather, equipment exposed to direct sunlight can burn skin.
• Wear proper footwear — no bare feet.
July 26, 2012 6:18 pm
Open listing. Listing that gives a broker a nonexclusive right to find a buyer; the owner can still find a buyer himself and avoid a commission.