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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
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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

August 6, 2012 6:08 pm

Promissory note.  A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.
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Q: Do I Have to Consider Contingencies Made by the Buyer?

August 6, 2012 6:08 pm

A: You can reject, accept, or counter any offer that is presented to you. Most offers include contingencies, which protect the buyer in case something goes wrong.
The two most common contingencies deal with financing, which makes the sale dependent on the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan commitment from a lender within a stated time period, and an inspection, which allows the buyer to have a professional inspect the property to their satisfaction.

There really is no reason not to consider these contingencies because they are quite reasonable and standard.

However, think twice about a contingency that is predicated on you making expensive home repairs, such as a kitchen renovation. Now, if the roof is caving in, that is an entirely different story. You may need to spend money to replace it or lower the asking price of the home.
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Laundry Lessons: Coming Clean

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

Let’s face it: Most of us don’t exactly look forward to doing laundry. As a result, it’s one of those chores that are easy to put off until later. But putting the laundry off until later can have a downside. Hidden dirt can build up in your clothes, and it may be harder to get visible stains like chocolate or grass out of clothing.

A national survey by Wisk revealed that four out of five people admitted to at least one dirty laundry secret. Top secrets include:
• Going more than a month without changing bed sheets. In fact, only half of those surveyed wash sheets once a week.
• Taking dirty items out of the laundry basket to wear.
• Repeating underwear -- nearly one in three women admit to wearing the same bra for several days in a row, while close to one in three men admit to having worn the same socks or underwear for several days.

Most people say they "just know" when an item needs to be washed, but what they may not know is that the average wash load contains 20 times more body oil and sweat than visible stains. These hidden soils can get trapped deep in the fabric of clothes and build up over time. Leaving the laundry until later also means it becomes harder to remove visible stains. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get rid of common stains:

Adhesive (tape, chewing gum, rubber cement) - Apply ice or cold water to harden surface; scrape with a dull knife. Saturate with prewash stain remover. Rinse, then launder.

Beverage - Soak stain in cool water. Treat with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of powder detergent and water. Launder with fabric safe bleach.

Blood - New stains should be soaked in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into any remaining stain. Rinse, then launder. Dried stains should be pretreated or soaked in lukewarm water with a product containing enzymes, then laundered.
Chocolate - Gently scrape off excess chocolate. Treat the stain with a prewash spray. Follow up with an enzyme detergent to remove residue before washing.

Cosmetics - Treat with prewash stain remover, liquid detergent, a mixture of detergent and water, or rub with bar soap. Work into dampened stain until outline of stain is gone, then rinse. If greasy stain remains, soak in an enzyme product. Rinse and launder.

Grass - Treat with prewash stain remover, or soak with an enzyme product. If stain remains, launder in hottest water safe for the fabric, with a fabric-safe bleach.

Mud - Let dry, then brush off as much mud as possible. For light stains, pretreat with a paste of dry detergent and water, liquid detergent, or a liquid detergent booster; launder. Pretreat heavy stains by presoaking with a laundry detergent, a product containing enzymes.

Source: Wisk Deep
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Your Pet Needs Top Nutrition, Too

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

So maybe you’re already monitoring your own nutrition, adding in more fruits and veggies and sipping plenty of water. But don’t forget your furry friends!

When it comes to caring for your pet, you do everything you can to ensure they stay happy and healthy. And while there are a variety of pet foods on the market boasting recipes made using wholesome ingredients, if pets aren't digesting that food correctly, they may as well be eating the inexpensive fillers you've been trying to avoid.

In fact, many pet owners don't know their dogs and cats have sensitive stomachs, which may make it hard for them to properly digest their current food, and could lead to a host of problems. "Pets need consistency, they need to eat the same food every day to avoid digestive upset," explains Dr. Al Townshed, staff veterinarian with Holistic Select natural pet food, "If pets can't absorb the nutrients in the food they eat, it can lead to malnutrition, lethargy, frequent vomiting and worse."

The good news is there are pet foods on the market that offer well-balanced, easily digestible nutrients. With this in mind, Dr. Townshend shares these tips for choosing the right food for your pet:

Check the Label
Look for natural, wholesome ingredients and avoid fillers. Remember, while proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals all play an important role in the health benefits of your pet's diet, there are other ingredients to consider to help ensure your pet is properly absorbing these key nutrients.

Probiotics
Your pet's digestive tract requires a careful balancing act of bacteria. Probiotics -- or good bacteria -- help keep your pet's immune system healthy. Cat and dog foods like Holistic Select natural pet food contain live probiotics that are added to the food after it has been cooked and cooled. This process assures maximum survival of the probiotics, so that your pet reaps the full benefits of their food.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics stimulate the growth and maintenance of good bacteria, like probiotics, in your pet's digestive tract. Examples of prebiotics include beet pulp and inulin, which is a fructose found in plant roots and is believed to aid in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, according to a 2005 study published by the National Institutes of Health.

Natural Fibers
Just as fiber plays an important role in human digestive health, it also plays an integral role in your pet's digestive health. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal and flaxseed promote digestive regularity. Flaxseed, for example, helps with the movement of food through your pet's digestive tract, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, and offers benefits for your pet's cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems.

Easily Digestible Enzymes
Several organs such as the pancreas help break down food within the digestive process by producing enzymes. Adding enzymes to pet food actually helps with this process by ensuring your pet is getting the nutrients from their food, while reducing stress on their organs -- this is especially crucial for aging pets.
When it comes to choosing a pet food for your dog or cat, keep in mind that more than just the main ingredients matter

Source: www.HolisticSelect.com.
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Bright Ideas for Your Summer Soiree

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

Summer is the time of year when many people get the urge to entertain just a little more frequently. Interior design expert and TV personality Genevieve Gorder says the best approach to summer entertaining is to make your space shine with a comfortable, approachable style. Genevieve has partnered with Mirassou Winery® to help brighten up entertaining spaces for sharing good times and making good memories. Try one of her easy entertaining ideas to make your home feel warm and welcoming -- putting your guests at ease as they raise a glass to your hosting skills:

• Create a home bar on any surface of your home. Arrange beautiful wine bottles on a vintage silver or brass tray, add wine glasses and two taper candle holders. With a bit of mood lighting, glassware and beverages, a bar is just that simple and guests know they can pour their own wine.

• Put every surface to use when entertaining large groups, such as stacking coasters on the mantle to expand your typical entertaining space. Add a pop of color so guests know they can use the mantle as a gathering place.

• The next time you have guests over for wine and cheese, create a buffet table that works your guests along the line visually. Start at the highest point with flatware and rolled linen napkins in tall vessels, then use cake tiers for flatbreads and crackers, followed by cutting boards for cheeses and accompaniments at the lowest point in the middle. Move the eye line back up again at the finish with vases of nuts and bottles of wine.

• Don't be afraid to mix elements on your dining table to make your presentation really shine. Think about mixing metals like brass and silver with white glass to create a powerful triad. Then use mismatched plates and chairs to bring a homey and casual feeling to a gathering.

• A fun activity for simple summer entertaining is hosting an at-home wine tasting. Ask guests to bring a bottle of wine from the same region -- such as California -- and then spend the evening trying different wines and learning which you like best.

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

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

Principal. The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.
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Q: Are Agents Responsible for Disclosing Material Facts?

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

A: They can certainly be held accountable, particularly if they had prior knowledge of a material fact or should have known about it.

For example, if the seller has to use pans to collect water after a heavy rain, it is the agent’s responsibility to question the seller about the integrity of the roof, and then relay this information to potential buyers. However, if the seller duly hides a defect from the agent for which the agent had no prior knowledge, then the agent is not accountable. Experts say agents are not home inspectors, but they are expected to use their best judgement when something appears suspicious.
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What to Buy—and What Not to Buy—in August

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

Nearly everyone is buying back-to-school clothes in August – whether they are going back to school or not – and rightly so, since every item of clothing from kids’ socks to designer shoes will be on sale this month.

But August is a good month to save money on a variety of other goods – and a good month to resist purchasing certain other items. Consumer advocate Jenny Lee keeps an eye on shopping opportunities – and recommends a few purchases it might surprise you to make or not make in August:

• Buy jewelry – Summer is a prime time for getting good buys on both fine jewelry and costume pieces. They are discounted by merchandisers to boost lagging sales until the holiday and Valentine’s Day rush kicks in.
• Buy swimwear – prices will never be lower as stores clear space for back-to-school and fall/winter fashions. Stock up now for both adults and kids.
• Buy hotel packages – As traditional vacation time comes to an end, hoteliers are looking ahead at potentially empty rooms in fall and winter. Cruise various websites now to snag economical, book-ahead deals.
• Buy grills and patio furniture – The selection may not be as great, but prices will be slashed on what’s left in August to make room for winter-friendly merchandise.
• Don’t buy fitness equipment – Prices tend to go higher as summer wanes. That’s because people are looking ahead to exercising in cold weather. Wait till winter when competition between merchants yields better prices on exercise gear.
• Don’t buy furniture – sales are basically over now as the newest fall styles are coming into furniture stores. If you can do with what you have through the holidays, wait on buying new furniture until January.
• Don’t buy bicycles – It seems logical that bikes would be on sale during the warmer weather. But historically, the best prices on bikes will come just prior to the holidays.
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Save Money by Putting Home on Autopilot

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

(ARA) - Every homeowner can remember a time when they wondered, "Did I lock the front door this morning?" or "Did I leave a light on?" Others can attest to that feeling of dread knowing their air conditioner is running full blast while they're away on a weekend trip. There's nothing worse than worrying about the security of your home - or your rising electric bill - while you're away.

Fortunately, recent advancements in home technology offer peace of mind when it comes to energy efficiency, security and time savings. Almost any home can be put on "autopilot" without breaking the bank. Many areas of the home can benefit from some simple technology upgrades.

Efficiency

Heating and cooling a home accounts for 50 percent or more of a home's energy bill, so it's important to incorporate the latest technology to make it as easy as possible to be as efficient as possible.

"We have seen some great advancements in home technology that maximize the energy efficiency of heating and cooling products," says Bobby DiFulgentiz, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox International. "For example, as thermostats become more advanced, homeowners now have the ability to optimize home comfort and energy savings."

One example of these smart thermostats is the Lennox icomfort Wi-Fi thermostat. Homeowners can maximize energy savings through its one-touch away mode and remote control capabilities. Additionally, the thermostat communicates with a home's HVAC system and provides real-time alerts to service providers regarding any maintenance issues that need attention. The icomfort Wi-Fi also is the only thermostat that can blend into its surroundings by using customizable "skins" that match wallpaper or paint, or even allow it to be disguised as a piece of art or a family photo.

Water usage also is a concern when it comes to efficiency. Homeowners can cut down on water bills by using home sprinkler systems that incorporate Wi-Fi technology. These systems allow homeowners to start or stop sprinklers from anywhere, avoiding water waste when heavy rains have already saturated the lawn. Many systems now even include wireless capabilities that prevent sprinklers from activating during rain or freezing temperatures.

Security

Homeowners can rest easy, thanks to automated systems that ensure their home is safe and secure. Companies now offer products that check, open and close garage doors directly from a smartphone, tablet or computer. There are also lock systems that respond only to the fingerprints of residents of the home. If that's not enough, new technologies send text or email updates when doors are locked or unlocked, and can remotely lock doors through Wi-Fi.

Time Savings

Finally, kitchen appliances are beginning to integrate technologies to streamline the day-to-day routines of homeowners, allowing for maximum time savings. Consumers can take the hassle out of finding the perfect cooking setting by using a microwave that can scan a bar code on a dish and automatically adjusts to the correct time and power for the particular product. Ovens equipped with Wi-Fi allow cooks to monitor their meals on a mobile device and put the crock pot to shame.

Families can also save time while enjoying the convenience of home automation. Wi-Fi-enabled mailboxes send text or email alerts when mail has arrived. Parents can even save the time it takes to beg their child to stop playing video games by using a tool that automatically limits the time spent on an electronic device.

Peace of mind isn't all about expensive, over-the-top upgrades. Home automation can save time and money, and offer customized comfort and security, often through simple technology tweaks.
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Smart Habits for College Freshmen

August 3, 2012 4:00 pm

(ARA) - Got your extra-long sheets? Check. Flip-flops for the shower? Check. What about your school-branded hoodie, hat and T-shirt? You may think you've thought of everything for your first year of college, but without a plan to achieve success you are still unprepared.

Sara Rathburn, associate dean of Student Affairs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Maximillian Matthews, student engagement advocate and coordinator of Academic Support at The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, offer habits to help you make the most out of your college experience and lay the foundation for an academically successful future.

1. Get involved
"Freshmen who feel connected to campus through student organizations and campus events tend to strive for success," says Matthews. Getting involved will not only enrich your college experience, but it will also pay dividends once you graduate. According to Rathburn, "Your college degree will one day show that you have knowledge in a field. Your out-of-class experiences will demonstrate that you have a skill base to go along with that knowledge."

2. Get out of your comfort zone
Don't be afraid of new experiences. "College is a time to test yourself - make mistakes, grow your strengths," says Rathburn. She recommends trying something completely new, such as joining a club dealing with a topic that is foreign to you.

3. Manage your time
"Make the most of every minute," says Rathburn. "Every hour of every day presents a choice - decide early on in your college experience that you will make the most of your time." Matthews agrees. "Freshmen should get in the habit of prioritizing and planning ahead to balance their workload and increase productivity," he says.

4. Manage your money
College not only helps you prepare to pursue a successful career, but can also teach you the skills that are necessary for financial success in the future. Rathburn suggests making meals instead of eating out, taking advantage of free local events, and making sure what you want is really what you need. "Don't sacrifice a financially secure future for fleeting fun now," she says.

5. Go to class

Even on days when you feel like sleeping in, Rathburn recommends making it a habit to go to class. She encourages students to make the most out of their time and financial investments.

6. Overcome fear of seeking help - talk to faculty and staff
Both Rathburn and Matthews recommend communicating with your professors. "Freshmen should get in the habit of letting their professors know when they will be late, absent or have questions about class material," says Matthews. Rathburn adds, "Speak up and make yourself known. Building connections can lead to greater opportunities today, tomorrow and in the years to come."

7. Personal organization

"Develop a system that works for you," says Rathburn. She recommends starting a filing system that is simple and can be built upon.

8. Learn about resources

Whether you need a tutor, help with a resume, or have questions about financial aid, campuses offer a variety of resources designed to help guide you through every aspect of your college career. Matthews recommends attending campus events, especially orientation. "Freshmen need to know who to go to when they need help, not only in academics but in financial aid and career counseling. This is why freshman orientation events are essential."

9. Remember your goals
"Stay focused," says Rathburn. "You are starting college for a reason - remember that reason. Let that reason motivate you when you are bogged down with homework or struggling with an assignment."

10. Be an active learner
"Active learning means concentrating on the current task, taking notes and asking questions," says Matthews. He says that if freshmen practice active learning from the beginning, "it will be natural for the remainder of their time in school."

Source: www.artinstitutes.edu
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