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 19, 2012 6:46 pm
The first day of summer brings warmer temperatures and more time outdoors; unfortunately, that also means you are more likely to get stung by fire ants, bees and wasps and bitten by mosquitoes. As you barbecue with friends or work in your garden, watch out for the following insects that can spoil your outdoor fun.
"While fire ants, bees and wasps are dangerous because of their stings, the number one pest to look out for this summer is the mosquito," says Jim Warneke, Orkin's Southeast division technical services manager. "They can carry serious diseases, some of which are fatal."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever and the virus that causes encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
"The CDC reported 712 cases of West Nile virus in 2011, and dengue fever rarely occurs in the United States," says Warneke. "Prime mosquito-biting times are dusk and dawn, so be sure to take the proper precautions and spray an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin, and wear long sleeves and socks if possible."
Mosquitoes only need a few ounces of water to breed and survive, making them very hard to control, so Warneke suggests removing any standing water from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots.
Fire ants are reddish-brown and sting when they are disturbed or feel threatened. They attach themselves with their mandibles to people or animals and inject venom through their stingers. Fire ant stings are very painful and can be fatal, but most victims experience painful red bumps.
Fire ants prefer warm and dry, sunny weather and avoid shady areas. Mounds can grow up to 24 inches in diameter and 18 inches high. They are most common throughout the southern U.S. but have been found as far west as California and as far north as Maryland.
Bees, Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets
Flying, stinging insects like bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are found all across the country, and they like to build their nests in inconspicuous places.
"Yellow jackets tend to build their nests in the ground, and paper wasps are notorious for building their nests under a building's eaves and soffits," says Warneke. "They also tend to build nests in ornamental plants and hedges. Bees, on the other hand, will build their nests in many different locations, from inverted, unused flower pots and barbecue grills to inside the walls of homes and buildings. They spend their time around flowering plants, so be careful when you are pruning your roses or other annual flowers."
Bee, wasp, hornet and yellow jacket stings are painful and can cause symptoms ranging from headaches, fever and fatigue to vomiting and convulsions. Stings can also be deadly to those who are allergic to their venom. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, bee, wasp, hornet, yellow jacket and fire ant stings are the cause of about 500,000 allergy-related emergency room visits each year and at least 40 deaths in the United States from anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction.
Africanized honey bees, also known as killer bees, are typical throughout the southeastern U.S., but can be found throughout the country. They, too, are opportunistic when it comes to building nests and will make their home just about anywhere, warns Warneke.
"It is best to stay away from all bees because they are difficult to identify," said Warneke. "All honey bees have a pheromone in their stingers that will attract other honey bees, and that could lead to additional stings."
Warneke recommends the following tips to help prevent flying, stinging insects from being attracted to your home:
Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.
Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows.
Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately, and keep drinks covered.
Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home.
Thin vegetation and do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home's siding. This could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and access for ants to enter your home.
Source: Orkin, LLC
June 19, 2012 6:46 pm
(ARA) - Buyers are still clamoring for real estate deals in this turbulent market. Foreclosures and short sales offer some of the best bargains, but also have a higher risk level. Still, more than four in five adults think foreclosures and short sales can be good deals, according to a recent American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) survey.
Some analysts say the rebound has begun and home prices may rise by the end of 2012. This means now may be buyers' last chance to take advantage of affordable properties and low interest rates. If you want to score a bargain before the housing market recovers, you'll need to follow a few rules to invest with certainty.
Make a wise investment by adhering to these five rules while shopping distressed properties:
Rule 1: Position yourself for success
Before starting your search, get preapproved for a mortgage so when a good deal presents itself, you're positioned to submit a bid right away to be the first offer on the bank's desk. Work with an experienced real estate agent who can help guide you through the daunting sea of foreclosures and short sales. Bidding can be complicated and time-consuming, especially when working with a home sale needing bank approval. A good agent will know how to navigate through the paperwork and red tape.
Rule 2: Do your research
A real estate agent can help you with research, but it's wise to do some on your own. Are there any undisclosed liens on the property? Is the seller behind on his property taxes? What permit records does the city have on file? This information will be critical during decision-making. Work with your agent to ensure the contract requires any delinquent taxes, liens or assessments will be paid prior to you taking ownership of the property.
Rule 3: Always get a home inspection
Eighty-four percent of adults surveyed by ASHI said they would be more likely to purchase a distressed property after a home inspection has determined its condition.
A home inspection gives you the confidence to move forward with your purchase because you'll have as much knowledge as possible about the condition of the property. An inspector will visually examine the condition of the home's roof, attic and insulation, foundation, basement and structural components, as well as interior plumbing and electrical systems. Be sure to find an ASHI-Certified Inspector (ACI) to ensure your inspector is experienced, as many states have minimal licensing requirements. To find a local ACI, use ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool on www.ASHI.org.
Rule 4: Budget for repairs
When looking at short sales and foreclosures, remember price is only one aspect to consider. A home will almost always require some type of repair. After receiving your inspection report, you can estimate costs associated with necessary repairs, maintenance or energy-efficient improvements.
Rule 5: Assess the neighborhood
Location should be a top consideration when purchasing real estate, and in a tough housing market, it's even more important. A home has limited worth if it's located in a less desirable neighborhood. High foreclosure rates can turn a once-desirable neighborhood into one many might likely avoid. These locations are likely to see a slower recovery than more populated or favorable areas less affected by the economy. Make location as important as price when making a purchase decision.
Protect yourself with knowledge and expert advice to make a confident, smart decision about your largest investment.
June 19, 2012 6:46 pm
Judgment. Court decree stating that one person is indebted to another. Also specifies the amount of the debt.
June 19, 2012 6:46 pm
A: You most certainly can. During the most recent refinancing boom, for example, many homeowners refinanced their home loans two or three times within relatively short periods of time because interest rates kept treading downward, making it extremely attractive to trade in one loan for another.
Just remember that refinancing is basically like applying for a mortgage all over again. Each time you refinance, you will still have to go through the application process, get a home appraisal, and likely incur closing costs. Also, if you have a pre-payment penalty clause in your present mortgage, you will have to pay that penalty if you refinance. So be certain that it is actually worth it for you to refinance.
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
While this year's college graduates are facing a tough job market, they can take comfort from the fact that many employers are seeking younger workers. So says Andy Chan, vice president of career development at Wake Forest University.
"Organizations know that younger workers come in with a great deal of energy and new ideas," Chan notes. "And they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done." But Chan suggests that young people -- like all job seekers -- will stand a better chance of being hired if they avoid these common job search mistakes:
Not being proactive enough: Create a hit list of the companies you would like to work for. Then really utilize your network to create an "in" at these companies. In addition to friends, your network might include parents, grandparents, their friends, your old Scout master, past teachers, and even the people you used to babysit for.
Not creating a customized resume: Listing degrees and past experience is not enough. Use your resume to make a strong statement about yourself, your career goals, and what you can bring to an employer.
Setting expectations too high: Your first job may be just that; a place to learn a great deal, be super busy, and be surrounded by many people in the professional milieu you hope to excel in.
Appearing unprofessional: It's not just about how you look or behave in an interview. Sanitize your Facebook profile and other social media pages and ditch that smart aleck cell phone greeting your friends all find so funny.
Failing to follow up: It also isn't enough to send out resumes, go on interviews, and pray the phone rings. Write thank you notes or emails to the interviewer emphasizing your skills or strengths and hustle to follow up with a phone call to keep your resume from ending up in a slush pile.
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
"We Can Do It!" was a World War II-era battle cry that empowered women. Today, however, the expression for many women is more like, "We can do it -- if there's time." By their 40s, more than 80 percent of American women are mothers, according to the U.S. census. Meanwhile, they also make up roughly half of the workforce, a percentage that has doubled since Rosie the Riveterâ's proclamation. At least 50 percent of women say they don't have enough free time and 60 percent feel guilty for spending what little time they do have on themselves, according to a survey published in the March issue of Real Simple magazine.
Between motherhood and work, it is crucial that busy women also take time out for themselves, says Saniel Bonder, a wellness coach, Harvard graduate and author of the acclaimed new novel "Ultimaya 1.0: The Trouble with the Wishes of Leopold Stokes."
"Putting things into a new perspective and realizing that a really good mother and home manager -- or a mother who works outside the home -- can't be chronically tired and cranky is a first step to achieving a healthy balance between a mom and her to-do list," he says. Mothering is a marathon, not a sprint, Bonder says. Unhappiness, failure and disappointment are guaranteed when a woman continues to drive competing interests at excessive speeds, he says.
He offers tips for managing a mother's to-do list:
Make "me time" a priority every day. Set aside 5 to 10 inviolable minutes for triaging your day's to-do list early on, when you've got plenty of energy and aren't already overwhelmed. " Do it with 'Mother Bear' fierceness. Go at it with ferocious intention to protect your "cub" -- except in this case, the cub is your own total wellness."
Serve everyone notice. Let your family, friends, and others who depend on you know that for everyone's sake, you are going to take better care of yourself and you're not going to try to be Superwoman any more.
Ruthless ranking. Rank each item 1, 2 or 3 in order of real importance. Make sure your priority is only the most important, and that you actually can do it.
Indulge your inner child. Make at least one of your daily No. 1 priorities something to pamper yourself something you know will really make you feel good but that you think you really don't have time for and shouldn't need.
Talk back to your inner critic. Do this out loud; shout it if you need to! Just say "no" a lot, to that fault-finding perfectionist in your head. You're right. It's wrong!
"Sustainability begins at home, and the true hearth of most homes today is the mother's well-being," Bonder says. Your children need to learn this from how you live, not just what you tell them.
Saniel Bonder received his bachelor's in social relations from Harvard University, partaking in a unique curriculum that focused on the fields of psychology, culture and social behavior.
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
(ARA) - Shopping for home furnishings and accessories can be a rewarding experience, but it can also drain your wallet. So when it's time to find just the right items to furnish or just brighten up your home, you want to get it right the first time, because most of us don't have the luxury to toss out all our purchases in a couple of years and start from scratch.
So how do you know if that couch or lamp is going to stand the test of time? "Look for something that is built well, like good quality tables that are a little bit older and not mass manufactured," says Claren Pappo, an Interior Design instructor at The Illinois Institute of Art - Tinley Park.
Depending on your decor, antiques may be your best bet. You've probably looked at a few decorating magazines and seen your share of furniture showrooms. That may give you a starting point. "But you need to figure out what you like," advises Heather Carter, academic director of Interior Design at The Art Institutes International - Kansas City. "Think about the connection your home has to you, don't just follow trends."
Color is also important when thinking about the longevity of your future. "Big furniture pieces like sofas and side chairs need to be in a neutral color scheme," recommends Daniela Kohl, Interior Design program coordinator at The Art Institute of Indianapolis. You don't want bright colors that you tire of quickly or can fall out of fashion.
Accessories, like throw pillows, can be trendier with the latest colors because they are much easier and less expensive to replace. But when it comes to lighting, you may want to splurge on something that is both functional and decorative.
"Invest in great lamps; they can stand the test of time," says Pappo. Artwork can really make your home fit your personality, and if you buy something you really like, you'll only grow to appreciate it more over time. "Artwork has great bang for the buck," says Carter. "Go to your local art district or art walk, find an artist you really like and buy their piece."
When picking out drapes or pillows, stick with good quality fabrics like silk or chenille, advises Kohl. Leather furniture will also stand the test of time. But don't go for artificial leather. "It will look worse, year after year," she says.
Finally, Pappo recommends considering how often you'll be moving around. "Think about the flexibility of your furniture and whether the pieces you've chosen will work in another home with a different floor plan."
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
New Medicare benefits could help keep older people independent, yet many aren't using them. Sometimes that's because they don't know about them. The Affordable Care Act introduced these benefits last year, but with its future in the hands of the Supreme Courts and a decision expected in June, so now is the time to get to the doctor, stat.
"Medicare is complicated. Often, our clients don't know about all the benefits, and their kids feel overwhelmed trying to help them," says Jody Guerrieri, co-founder and vice president of Preferred Care at Home. "But using the benefits can help keep people well and independent. It's important for those of us in the care industry to help people understand them. We'll even drive our clients to the doctor to make getting the services easy."
Here are four Medicare benefits people may not be aware of: Yearly wellness visit:
People with Medicare Part B don't just get the one-time Welcome to Medicare visit anymore. Now, they can meet with their doctor yearly to review their health and develop a personalized prevention plan with no deductible or co-payment involved.
Prescription-drug discount: When people reached the donut-hole coverage gap, they used to have to pay all their medication costs. Now, they get a 50-percent discount on covered brand-name prescription drugs.
Health counseling and therapy: Need to lose weight? Behavioral therapy for obesity is now covered. Want to stop smoking? Counseling is available at no cost if you don't have a related illness. (If you do, it's still covered, but coinsurance and deductibles apply.) You can also get nutrition therapy for diabetes or kidney disease, along with counseling for alcohol misuse and to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Health screenings: Bone-mass measurement is available at no cost for some people, as are screenings for colorectal cancer and diabetes. Newly covered screenings include those for depression, alcohol misuse and sexually transmitted infections. "Using these benefits can mean staying out of the hospital or nursing home," says Guerrieri. "A good home-care agency should help you do just that--not only through help at home but through support and education."
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
Joint tenancy. Property owned by two or more persons with equal and undivided interest and ownership and the right of survivorship. If one owner dies, the property automatically passes to the others.
June 18, 2012 6:42 pm
A: Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the government. The tax code does not allow deductions for the demolition or significant alteration of a historic structure.
For more information, contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6000, or visit its web site at www.nationaltrust.org. Many states offer tax incentives, reductions and abatement programs for owners of residential historic homes.