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 21, 2012 6:52 pm
Lease. Contract that conveys the right to use property for a period of time in return for a consideration, usually rent, paid to the property owner.
June 21, 2012 6:52 pm
A: You can find out more about an existing property and neighborhood before you buy than you can a new home in a newly developed community.
When the home is on the outskirts of town, ask the developer about future access to public transit, entertainment venues, shopping centers, churches, and schools. Also review local zoning ordinances. A remote area can quickly turn into a fast food haven.
You want to ensure the neighborhood will not spiral out of control and lose its residential appeal.
Other things to consider:
• Ask homeowners already living in a development about the builder. If none currently live there, find out where the builder has previously built and speak to those owners to find out if the builder followed through on promises and needed repairs.
• Ability to make changes. Most homes in a development resemble each other. But the developer may impose restrictions on house color, landscaping, renovations, and other items that a homeowner may want to alter.
• Do not buy into the highfalutin images created by marketing experts. Form your own opinions about a property and only buy where you feel comfortable. After all, you are the one who will be living there.
June 21, 2012 4:52 pm
Stress over financial matters can affect both your health and your family's well-being. To ease stress, take charge of your financial health with the following tips.
Gather your documents and store them safely. Over time, you accumulate all sorts of important papers from medical histories to bills and insurance information. It's a good idea to keep all these important documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or fire-proof strong box. Here are some things you'll want to store safely and be able to retrieve quickly:
• Insurance plan information - life, health, dental, home owners, renters, auto, boat, etc.
• Mortgage information
• Tax information - returns, purchase and charitable contribution receipts
• Investment paperwork - savings, stocks, bonds and retirement records
• Will and trust or health care directives
Keep ATM receipts for a month, and paycheck stubs, bills, credit card, bank and investment statements for a year. Hold on to tax returns, medical bills, mortgage and home records longer -- up to three to seven years.
Set a monthly budget. It's important to keep track of your finances and what you're spending money on in order to determine where you can cut back. Keep an accurate account of your finances for several months, then start trimming expenses where possible. There are excellent software packages available to help you keep your income and expenses balanced.
Set a savings budget and stick to it. Whether it's for your children's college tuition, a home down payment or for retirement, it's important to make your savings goal part of your monthly budget. Set aside a regular amount -- starting as early as you can.
Keep an emergency fund. Financial emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Instead of adding to your debt through a credit card withdrawal or bank loan, keep an amount equal to six months expenses on hand. Get started by arranging a bi-weekly or monthly automatic transfer into your savings account.
Stay on top of your credit score. Good credit opens many doors -- auto and home ownership, backup credit lines, even co-signing your child's student loans can be influenced by your credit score. In addition, spotting fraudulent accounts -- such as credit cards opened via identity theft -- is much easier when you're managing your credit score. Free credit report services with email alerts are available online.
Look to life insurance to help protect your family. If the unexpected happens, you want to know your family is safe, and that includes your finances. Talk to a life insurance professional for help in selecting the coverage and life insurance provider.
June 21, 2012 4:52 pm
With a heat wave spanning most of the country this week, those of us who love outdoor exercise should take precaution. The following tips can help you exercise safely when temperatures soar.
Stay safe when working out in the heat by taking the following precautions:
1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids. The rule of thumb is usually “8x8” – eight 8-oz. glasses per day, but consider upping your intake during a heat wave to avoid dehydration.
2. Wear appropriate clothing. Choose lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing for outdoor exercise activities.
3. Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Plan your daily outdoor exercise routine for the early morning or late evening when the temperature is considerably cooler.
4. Step it down a notch. Consider cutting your routine time, distance or exertion in half to alleviate strain.
5. Take precautions. Use the buddy system, let somebody know your exercise path and schedule, or bring your phone along.
6. Go indoors. If possible, escape the heat and utilize indoor, air-conditioned workout facilities.
There are many exercise opportunities for outdoor spaces during the summer months. Just remember to listen to your body and take the appropriate safety precautions.
June 20, 2012 6:46 pm
Buying a new tech gadget only weeks before the price drops, or before a new model comes on the market, can be maddening, notes consumer tech advocate Becky Worley. From her own list of Silicon Valley sources, Worley provides advice to consumers on what tech gadgets NOT to buy now:
Windows Laptops – New laptops with Intel's new Ivy Bridge processors will come out this fall. They'll run faster and have better battery lives, and Windows 8, the new operating system from Microsoft, is rumored to be released in October. It will come pre-loaded on all new PCs.
MAC products – Macbook Air and Macbook Pro lines were just updated with faster Ivy Bridge processors, and a new Macbook Pro has an eye-popping screen. But Apple will release a new operating system in July called Mountain Lion. While any Macbooks purchased now will get a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion, it might be easier to wait until July and have them install it for you. (BTW, Apple products go on sale one day a year — the Friday after Thanksgiving – with a 10% discount. Whether that’s worth waiting for is up to you.)
iPhones – If the rumors are right, a new iPhone will debut this fall with a better processor, better camera, and faster connectivity. It will probably have a bigger screen with higher resolution.
TVs – Prices are generally lowest before Christmas and after the Super Bowl. Since no major innovations are expected any time soon, expect manufacturers to woo customers this winter with especially attractive prices.
Kindle Fire – This $199 device may have been rushed to market in time for Christmas last year, which may mean the next iteration due out this fall will be significantly refreshed. Amazon will probably keep the price low, especially if Google comes out with a 7-inch competitor.
June 20, 2012 6:46 pm
(ARA) - Summer is a great time for a road trip. With kids out of school and longer hours of daylight, many families will head out on the highway to a variety of summer vacation destinations. For many, night-time driving will be an unavoidable necessity if they want to make the most of their vacation time.
It's important to keep night-time travel as safe, comfortable and convenient as possible for everyone who rides in your vehicle. If you'll be driving at night during this summer's vacation, here are some tips to help ensure you enjoy good travels:
Prepare your vehicle
Before you begin your trip, make sure your vehicle is in top shape for traveling at night. Take care of any necessary repairs or maintenance, no matter how minor they seem, including things like checking that tires are properly inflated and the air filter is clean and functioning properly.
Visibility is an important consideration for night driving. All windows, headlights and tail lights should be clean and unclouded. Check headlights to ensure they're properly aimed; poorly aligned headlights can make it difficult for you to see the road, and can blind drivers in other vehicles.
Look after your passengers
Before setting out on your summer driving trip, be sure interior climate controls function properly and that all passengers have the proper safety restraints. Infants and children should ride in the back seat throughout the trip.
Although it may be tempting to allow children to lay down in back seats and sleep during night drives, children should be properly buckled up whenever traveling in a vehicle. Put infants and toddlers in car seats appropriate for their weight and age. Children younger than 12, shorter than 4 feet 9 inches, or less than 80 pounds should use a booster seat, according to SafeKids.org.
Take care of yourself
As the driver, you are the most important piece of safety equipment in the vehicle. Make sure you are well-rested before setting out on the road. Update eyewear prescriptions and take all necessary medications with you inside the vehicle so you're not tempted to skip a dose while driving.
Finally, avoid frustrated driving by minimizing distractions. Plan your route before you leave home so that you don't have to deal with confusion over where you're going or the distraction of trying to figure out directions while driving.
June 20, 2012 6:46 pm
If you know anything about economics, you'll know that when the real estate market tumbles, the renter's market skyrockets.
Unless your credit score falls closer to 800 than 700, you could have a hard time getting a mortgage. Banks and homebuyers got burned in the 2008 real estate bubble, and they're trying to avoid that mistake again by only giving out loans to the most qualified.
What that means for everyone else is that the rents have surged. But when you pay your monthly rent, just be thankful you don't live in one of these top 10 worst cities for renters, as compiled by Forbes.
New York City, N.Y. While New York City topping this list is no big surprise, the average rent of $2,902 is shocking and over $1,000 higher than the average rent of the next highest rent city (San Francisco). You need to make $55,000 before taxes just to pay rent. Count me out.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. A bit of a surprise to be the second worst city to rent given that the average rent in this Midwest city is only $965. However, it's much cheaper to own here, so renters lose out.
San Francisco, Calif. The first of many California cities on this list. The average rent is $1,901. Just be happy you don't work in Manhattan.
San Jose, Calif. Only 50 miles south of San Francisco, San Jose's rents have skyrocketed as the line between Silicon Valley and the City of San Jose have blurred. With dot com millionaires come expensive housing. The average rent is $1,520.
Boston, Mass. Boston can be considered a glorified college town. Pity to parents who have to shell out an average of $1,752 so junior can go to school.
Washington D.C.The nation's capitol represents this list with an average $1,419 rent.
Oakland, Calif. Besides having high crime, Oakland also has high rent averaging $1,318 a month.
New Haven, Conn. The average rent here is $1,604. Is this the Yale effect?
Los Angeles, Calif.The average rent is only $1,398, but don't be deceived as Los Angeles is enormous, and the low average rent is depressed by a lot of units in parts of the city you'll never want to visit, let alone live.
Santa Ana, Calif. The fifth California city on this top 10 list. The average rent is $1,516.
Next time you want to complain about rising rent, just remember the poor renters in these top 10 worst cities for renters. Just be aware that there are laws that protect renters including laws that limit how much security deposit may be required and laws against housing discrimination. If you have experienced any of these issues, you may want to contact a landlord tenant attorney.
June 20, 2012 6:46 pm
Junior mortgage. Any mortgage, such a second or third mortgage on a property, which is subordinate to the first one in priority.
June 20, 2012 6:46 pm
A: In real estate, almost everything is negotiable, so it is certainly worth a try. Now, this does not mean the builder will fall down and roll over. It is very common for builders to claim that their prices are based on fixed construction costs. Perhaps, but timing is everything.
A builder is more likely to be flexible on price at the very beginning and end of a project. Early on, most developers want to move people in quickly so the project builds momentum. In the end, they may be more inclined to accept lower offers when only a few units are left.
June 19, 2012 6:46 pm
I like to think I am pretty in tune with my body. I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, the next day I will have the urge to eat everything in my path. I know that I can keep mood swings in check by eating a blend of whole grains, healthy fats and protein. And, as a vegan, I know that I have to monitor my diet to make sure I am getting enough nutrients to avoid health problems like vitamin deficiencies!
But for everyone—vegans and omnivores alike—a blood test every now and then helps to make sure you are getting what you need.
The last round of blood work I did showed that my cholesterol is way too low. Embarrassingly enough, this excited me a wee bit as it gives me an excuse to eat more yummy heart healthy fats! Healthy fat and a normal cholesterol level is important–it gives you glowing skin, healthy nails and hair, stabilizes moods, regulates your metabolism, increases your energy and revs your libido! Vroom, vroom!
Many Americans have high cholesterol, and if that's the case for you, then eating heart healthy fats can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising your good cholesterol (HDL)! High five! So what are some great HDL promoting foods?
Flax oil. Right after visiting the doctor, I went out and got flax oil which I have been putting in my breakfast bowl of oatmeal, my smoothies and on top of salads and grains. It has an amazing nutty flavor and delivers tons of omega-3s!
Avocados. You may be thinking, but avocados have saturated fat! Well sure, but they also have monounsaturated fats, full of cholesterol-blasting oleic acid. I have been trying to eat more avocados in my salads or sliced on top of toast in the morning with tomato (tomato season is just around the corner!) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper—delicious!
Nuts. Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds is not only good for your cholesterol, but also provides you with fiber and iron. Anyone from my office will confirm that at some point between 3 and 5 p.m., I can be found in the office kitchen, sucking on a spoonful of nut-butter.
Regardless of your diet, it’s a good idea to get some blood work done several times a year. Be sure to tell your doctor to ask that the test checks your cholesterol and vitamin levels like folate, iron, b12 and zinc.
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's Associate Editor, animal and plant lover and certified holistic health counselor.