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
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
Lease-purchase option. Opportunity to purchase a piece of property by renting for a specified period, with the provision that the lessee may choose to buy after or during the leasing period at a predetermined sale price.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
Q: Do Builders Provide Financing?
A: Many builders offer financing incentives to help move more buyers into a project. In fact, major building companies often have their own mortgage brokerage subsidiaries, while many other builders routinely refer buyers to "preferred" local lenders. If it is a buyer's market in your area, you can be sure developers will offer incentives such as low-down-payment financing or interest rate subsidies.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
(ARA)—Termites live to eat. Their hunger causes $5 billion worth of damage each year in the U.S., damage most homeowner's insurance doesn't cover. In fact, a colony can devour a foot of 2-by-4 wood in only six months. And since termites are masters at going undetected, they can destroy entire support beams before you discover their presence. That's why it's so important to know what to look for.
The warning signs of termites
Most termite species like to stay underground and within walls, where it's dark and damp. Here are some signs to look for:
Mud tubes - The easiest sign to detect. These pencil-width paths lead from a nest directly into your home and make it easy for termites to avoid sunlight. Check the surrounding land, any crawl spaces and your basement.
Swarms - Reproductive termites grow wings and fly during spring and fall. Check for this type of termite and the wings they shed.
Piles - Drywood termites leave sawdust-like piles around windowsills and cracks in woodwork or beams. You might also see what looks like collections of dirt at the base of walls and in corners.
Weakened wood - Long, thin cracks and sagging can be signs that wood has been hollowed out by termites. (Holes in wood are not commonly caused by termites, and may be a sign of beetles or carpenter ants.)
What a termite control professional can do for you
Termite professionals have years of experience and expertise when it comes to using the right treatment method for your unique situation. Different techniques are required based on the location of termite activity, the type of foundation you have and even the number of porches and patios. And just because the obvious signs of an infestation aren't there, such as mud tunnels or splitting wood, it doesn't mean that termites aren't. There are a number of professional termite control products on the market today, including DuPont Altriset. It works by paralyzing the mouths of termites within hours of exposure, stopping further damage immediately.
Your risk and how to reduce it
Risk level varies, largely depending on where you live. However, there are common measures that will make your home less appetizing to termites.
Termites like moisture - Eliminate water in gutters and puddles or any other areas where water might gather on or near your home. Repair any plumbing or drainage problems. Laying down plastic barriers in crawl spaces, basements and attics will help keep them dry.
Don't provide termites with extra food - Remove lumber or freestanding wood from the base of your home. Don't plant trees too close and clip away any vegetation, such as shrubs, that might be touching the foundation or walls.
Damp spots and cracks are an open invitation - Check outdoor faucets and gutters for leaks and ventilate humid crawl spaces. Repair cracks and holes in the foundation with caulk, closing off termite entry.
Don't take any chances - Have your home inspected each year by a professional. It doesn't take long and can mean early detection - saving you time and money.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
According to a recent study on snacking trends, conducted by Symphony IRI Group, more than half of consumers said that when it comes to snacking, they opt for taste over health! This is scary news, as it can lead to overconsumption of processed foods high in salt and fat, and devoid of nutritional value. That’s no way to fuel your body.
However, there are signs of positivity peaking through here—the study also notes that 60 percent of consumers also say that they are trying to eat foods that help maintain or improve their health.
When snacking, I try and go for foods that have either a healthy fat/protein combo, or fruits and veggies high in nutrients, low in calories and full of water—important with the recent scorching temperatures!
One of my favorite go-to snacks are veggies dipped in hummus—which is chock full of protein and heart-healthy fats from tahini and olive oil. I also love unsalted nuts mixed with dried fruit, an apple with peanut butter or low maintenance fruit (read, no peeling! Just washing) like grapes or strawberries—which are just coming into season, folks!
Snacks high in protein and healthy fat are good for your heart, but your brain, too! Protect that noggin’, people! It’s the only one you’ve got!
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's Associate Editor, animal and plant lover and certified holistic health counselor.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
Numerous factors should be taken into account prior to purchasing a timeshare. A review of the background of the seller, developer, and management company, along with a review of the current maintenance budget, will assist the prospective seller in making an informed decision. Local real estate agents, Better Business Bureaus, and consumer protection offices also are good sources of information. While many reputable builders do exist, purchasing an undeveloped property carries additional risks. One means of protection is to hold money in an escrow account in case the developer defaults. The commitment from the seller that the facilities will be finished as promised should be written into the purchase contract with a date certain.
Timeshares provide the convenience of prearranged vacation facilities, but keep in mind that future circumstances may alter future planning ability. Timeshare plans typically do not include recession provisions for poor health or job loss. Vacationing tastes and favored activities may also change over time. These factors should be considered in evaluating a purchase.
Timeshare resales usually are difficult and often sold at a loss to the seller. Therefore, timeshares are typically not considered an investment as a second or vacation home might be. There are many investment options in the property area, but investment should not be a major factor when purchasing a timeshare. Renting is also difficult and many time-share owners pay advance fees to rental agencies, which may not be able to find any renters for a given time frame.
Total costs include mortgage payments and expenses, as well as travel costs, annual maintenance fees and taxes, closing costs, broker commissions, and finance charges. Annual timeshare maintenance fees can be high depending on the amenities of the resort. The larger and more upscale the resort, the higher the fees. These fees cover all of the costs of operation but are typically several hundred dollars a year. These fees can and do rise over time. All of these expenses should be incorporated when determining the overall cost of purchasing a timeshare.
Purchase documents for any type of real estate transaction are binding legal contracts and should be reviewed by an attorney. The contract may provide for -- and some states require -- a set "cooling-off" period during which the timeshare purchaser may cancel the contract and obtain a refund. The contract may include a non-disturbance clause and/or a non-performance clause. A non-disturbance provision ensures continued use of the unit in the event of default and subsequent third party claims against the developer or management firm. A non-performance protection clause allows the purchaser to retain ownership rights, even if a third party is required to buy out the contract. All promises made by the salesperson should be written into the contract. If not, such provisions will almost certainly be unenforceable in a court of law.
Timeshares and vacation club memberships in foreign countries are subject to the law of the jurisdiction in which the timeshare is located. A contract outside the United States for a timeshare located in another country will not be protected under U. S. (federal) or state contract property laws.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
(ARA) - Windows do a lot more than just let the light in and keep the weather out. They're both key elements in your home's overall design and in the unique look of each individual room. If you're redecorating for warm weather, updating your window treatments is a great, cost-effective way to completely change the look of a space.
"People often switch their window treatments when the seasons change, but may only think of replacing heavy winter drapes with some frothy sheers," says Lauren Foster, a home design consultant with Blinds.com. "Today's versatile window shades offer ample opportunities to create a truly unique, seasonally appropriate look quickly and easily."
When warm weather arrives, it's time to open windows and let the sun shine in. Leaving windows curtain-free, and decorating with window shades instead, allows you to welcome the season into the room and show off the window's intrinsic beauty. Foster points to the window shade treatment trends that will be hot this spring and summer:
Prints and patterns - Long gone are the days when window shades were drab solid white or cream. Today, you can find a plethora of colors, patterns and even textures. Websites like Blinds.com stock a huge inventory of options, from Roman shades in passionate purple and energy-efficient cellular shades in celery green, to roller shades in sprightly floral patterns. Brands like Laura Ashley, Bali and Graber literally offer dozens of color, pattern and style combinations, making it possible to find a window shade to complement virtually any design theme.
Bringing the outdoors in - Wood blinds have been a design staple for decades, and with good reason: they're durable, beautiful and practical. This year, wood blinds play to the trend of bringing the outdoors in. Woven roller shades that feature bamboo, sisal, grass, jute and straw are versatile enough to create both rustic and sophisticated effects in any room.
Exterior shades - Sometimes, the inside of windows isn't the only spot where you could use some shade. Exterior shades will be "in" this season, as homeowners seek to maximize the appeal and design impact of their outdoor living spaces. Exterior shades not only provide much-needed protection from the sun for patios and porches, they can help underscore an outdoor space's status as an important element of your home's overall design.
Cordless - Cordless shades have been available for a while, but their popularity is growing among homeowners and interior designers for a number of reasons. Cord-free blinds and shades create a clean, uncluttered look, allowing the beauty of the shade to shine without visual distraction. The cord-free adjustment mechanism holds blinds and shades securely in position, eliminating the need to constantly adjust them, and making it easier to raise them evenly. Finally, eliminating cords improves safety for children and pets, making cordless shades and blinds a must for children's bedrooms and play areas.
"The arrival of warm weather is a great time to redecorate, and few updates make it easier to freshen a room than changing shades and blinds," Foster says.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
Lessee. Someone who rents under a lease; the tenant.
June 22, 2012 4:52 pm
A: You would think not since it is new and the developer has to adhere to local construction guidelines. However, err on the side of caution – always hire an inspector, whether the home is old or new.
You can ask the builder to provide copies of any inspection reports on the property, architectural plans, surveys and pertinent construction documents for your inspector to review.
The inspector should either be a professional home inspector, an engineer, an architect or a contractor. When hiring a professional inspector, look for one who belongs to a home inspection trade organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
This group has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Membership in ASHI is not automatic. Proven field experience and technical knowledge about structures and their various systems and appliances are required.
As for rates, they vary greatly. Many inspectors charge about $400, but costs increase based on the scope of the inspection.
June 21, 2012 6:52 pm
Summer is the season for sun and fun. The following tips, from pool maintenance to safety suggestions, can really help you enhance your outdoor enjoyment this year.
1 – Safety first. Follow a few commonsense rules in the backyard and around the pool: keep each child within arm’s length at all times; designate an adult as water watcher; ensure that the pool’s fence is always locked, and install both gate and pool alarms to alert you to unsupervised pool use.
2 – Use plants to dress up the landscape. A bit of backyard greenery can be both pretty and functional. Use shrubs for form, foliage-heavy plants for color, and sturdy perennials for reliability. Plenty of pretty perennials, such as coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, require little tending and offer cheery blooms throughout the growing season.
3 – Add years to backyard furnishings. If mildew spots appear on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric according to manufacturer directions and dry in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and salt; spread on the stain. Dry in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.
4 – Organize backyard toys and tools. Two simple storage rules for keeping backyard clutter to a minimum: air out wet things by storing them in big mesh bags or open-weave crates; toss all the little bits – sunscreen, dive toys – into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on the fence where everyone can easily find them.
5 – Stay healthy with a water workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can decrease your risk of chronic disease. If swimming laps doesn’t excite you, there are other great ways to get moving. Try kickboxing using water as the resistance and enjoy the benefits of strength, endurance and balance. Depending on intensity, a typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up to 600 calories.
6 – Maintain a perfect pool. A pool filled with cloudy water equals no fun. Fortunately there’s a pool-care strategy – Circulation, Filtration, Cleaning, Testing and Chemistry – that equals a stellar pool season. Maintaining a pool, its equipment and beautiful water requires proper water treatment.
7 – Soak in a sensational spa. A backyard spa can offer the same soothing effects as a professional spa with a few easy, affordable ideas. Place flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.
8 – Make a smaller footprint on the Earth. In order to be more environmentally friendly, make sure to always keep pool chemicals properly balanced. Overworked filters and motors waste energy and hike utility bills.
9 – Help pets swim safely. It may seem like fun to let the dog paddle around, but before you let a pooch jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting himself. Also check with the vet - swimming in a pool should be appropriate for the breed. Finally, make additional time to monitor the pool’s water. A typical dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.
June 21, 2012 6:52 pm
(ARA) - Did you know it's possible to save hundreds of dollars a year when it comes to automotive expenses? You can save money and keep your car running longer by doing a little research and by upgrading some of the car care products you already buy.
Here are some easy tips for you to keep your car running great while keeping more money in your pocket:
Worth the upgrade
Improve your car's fuel economy and engine life by upgrading to high performance synthetic motor oil. Studies have shown that high grade motor oil may improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and can significantly reduce engine wear. When compared to conventional motor oils, premium synthetic oils will allow you to go more miles between oil changes, reducing maintenance costs and time spent in the shop.
Keep your tires inflated
Improve your gas mileage by keeping your tires properly inflated. The U.S. Energy Department reports that 50 to 80 percent of the tires traveling on U.S. roads are underinflated which can increase fuel consumption by up to 3 percent. Make sure you inflate the tires to the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure and not by the number on the sidewall of the tire. Tires are produced to fit a broad range of vehicles, but manufacturers spec tire pressures that are specific to the car's components. For more fuel savings tips visit www.fueleconomy.gov.
Tune it up
Check your manufacturer's manual for the recommended tune up interval, but the general recommendation is two years or 30,000 miles depending on conditions such as extreme temperatures, weather and use of the vehicle. A tune up can include replacement of the fuel filter if applicable, changing the spark plugs, and replacing worn belts. Scheduling recommended tune ups is an important step in preventative vehicle maintenance that will make sure the vehicle gets the best gas mileage possible and will uncover problems before they become expensive to repair.
Get a quote
Take advantage of insurance companies that offer free quotes for your auto insurance. Prices can vary from company to company, so it pays to do a little research. Obtain at least three price quotes by using the Internet or calling an insurance agent directly. Have your current policy and coverage in front of you so you can compare the quotes you receive for the best value. For more ways to reduce insurance costs visit the U.S. Insurance Information Institute's website at www.iii.org.