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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Want to Sell Faster? Optimize Your Home’s Best Features

May 29, 2012 7:24 pm

Recent data has shown it looks as if the market may be turning! Home prices have crept upward for the second month in a row, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. However, if you’re trying to sell your home, this news doesn’t mean you should be sitting back and waiting. Draw in buyers by focusing on certain focal points that can give your property a selling edge, ensuring a faster sale—and a higher selling price.

Don’t worry--there is no need to build a pricey addition or completely gut your existing property. By evaluating your home’s top selling points, you can add modern touches to these features to create a new, fresh feel without doing major renovations.

Point 1: Glam up your bathroom and kitchen. Nice bathrooms and kitchens are attractive qualities in a house, and you can make yours look luxurious without going overboard.

If you can’t afford double sinks, a whirlpool tub or a walk-in shower in your bathroom, try making subtle adjustments. Small tweaks, like a new mirror or updated lighting, can have a huge effect on the atmosphere of a room.

Expand the range of your kitchen by adding a center island with barstools, updating major appliances and giving a second thought to your countertops. Slab countertops, especially granite, are really popular choices. And as far as appliances go, stainless steel is the real deal.

Point 2: Opt for wood. Does your home have large, open rooms? Make them appear even larger with the right flooring. Hardwood floors are timeless. Consider ripping up old carpet and refinishing the wood beneath. Hardwood too expensive? There are many synthetic alternatives that are nearly as appealing as hardwood, at a fraction of the cost.

Point 3: Organization is key. Do you have a ton of open wall space? Make the most of them with built-ins. Buyers love built-in organizational systems, like entertainment credenzas or bookshelves. Built-ins are relatively easy to have installed, and can give your home a unique edge.

Don’t forget about closets! Expanding the closets in bedrooms and bathrooms, or adding a walk-in pantry in the kitchen, can add additional sparkle to your home.

Point 4: Don’t forget to landscape. Do you have a large yard? Be sure to keep the grass neatly mowed and any gardens well tended. Adding a deck or patio is a great idea, but if your budget won’t allow it, simply place some outdoor furniture around the yard in small clusters, so buyers can imagine themselves spending time outside with family and friends.

I Love Lamps: The Top 5 Table Lamp Trends

May 29, 2012 7:24 pm

Decorating styles for 2012 have been big, dramatic, and full of rich, vibrant color. The idea is to be unique, grab attention and make a statement. Furniture design has seen lots of daring color so far, including primary colors in fabrics, Union Jack-themed couches and side tables, and dramatic tables with a steampunk, industrial loft look.

Accessories and home accents are just as bold, with chic tones of silver, gold and tangerine tango, the designer color of the year. Not to be left out, a wide range of new designer lamp looks have followed, offering exciting new looks that will add a new brightness to your home decorating. Here are our top 5 table lamp trends for you to explore. 

Big and Bold Bases
Lighting designers have gone big and bold with the lamp bases themselves. “The footprint of many lamps has gotten larger over the last couple of years,” says Lamps Plus blogger and designer Marcia Prentice. “The idea is to make the lighting a dramatic and sculptural focal point for the room.” On-trend looks include designs with a carved, antique appearance and organic-shaped bases that mimic forms found in nature. Elaborates Prentice, “To bring in an organic look, I love using big lamps that have a big wooden base or designs that have the look of driftwood or salvaged wood.” 

Bright Colors
Fashion often leads the way in the exploiting new color trends. Runway inspired decor makes its presence felt in a range of brightly colored modern table lamps. Cool teal blue, more intense cobalt blue, bright and poppy tones of lavender, and glittering color treatments are all making a splash this year. And then there’s tangerine tango, the Pantone color of the year. “This is a really intense color, so a little goes a long way,” notes Prentice,, “but it provides a wonderfully warm and intense blast to spice of bedrooms, seating areas and more.” 

Clear Glass and Mirrors
To balance out some of the other big and bold room elements, designers are turning to glass and mirrored lamps. Designer and blog writer Lesley Myrick says that “Glass table lamps offer a clear and pure form that provides sparkle without fighting with other colors or shapes in a room design. With glass lamps, you can see through the body to get a glimpse of the other things going on in the space. They don’t conflict with other things going on.”

Mirrored table lamps offer more punch, reflecting textures and colors used throughout a room. “Mirrored lamps are really cool to use in smaller rooms or anywhere you want to add a little splash and dazzle,” says Myrick. Both the glass and mirror offer a taste of the hot Hollywood Luxe design look, a style that draws inspiration from classic Hollywood set design and home styles from the 1930s and 1940s.
Metallic Table Lamps
It’s not just splashy colors and eye-catching glass that’s turning heads. Bold metallic tones of silver and gold are also being used. Observes Prentice, “Metal table lamps offer wonderful texture and glitter. They really make an impact in a room, especially when set against more organic elements or soft wall paint colors.” New designs are even bringing back an old favorite from, the brass table lamp. “Brass is a really appealing metallic tone for lamps,” says Prentice. “I love using them to give an extra layer of richness for a room.” 

Custom DIY Looks
With the boom in DIY home projects and Etsy crafting, there’s also a big movement of customizing table lamps to create unique designs. Adding new trim or ribbons to a shade is one easy way to add a little personalization. “I’d also suggest looking at a new finial,” suggests Myrick. The lamp shade finial is the decorative top of the shade. These screw down onto the lamp spider to hold the shade in place. “You can find lots of really unique, inexpensive finials; there’s everything from cool abstract shapes to animals and more.”


Tips for Moms: How to Fit Exercise into Your Busy Schedule

May 29, 2012 7:24 pm

Whether you're a new mom of an infant or the proud mama of a boisterous brood, you are busy. Doctor appointments, sports practices, late-night feedings, recitals, school, work--all of these things demand your time and energy. Who has time to exercise? 

You do! You can make time for exercise if you're motivated and realistic. You may just need to think outside the box with a few of these tips. 

Commit Yourself
Whether it's a New Year's resolution or the beginning of the month, make a commitment to see an exercise regimen through. You're not going to get very far if you just sporadically start exercising whenever you feel like it. Have a plan and stick to it! 

Get the right equipment
If you're starting with jogging the correct footwear is integral to your performance and safety, so make sure you have the right fitness and sports equipment before you get started. 

Set Goals
In order to make that commitment, you'll want to set realistic, motivating goals. Some people are motivated by losing weight, while others are motivated by checking a workout off a list. Realistic goals include losing a pound a week, exercising for 30 minutes a day five times a week, or doing regimented training for a race, fun run or similar fitness-centered event. 

Give Yourself Rewards
You deserve to be rewarded if you meet your goals. You should stay away from food rewards, which can be counter-productive. Instead, treat yourself to something special such as a visit to a spa, shopping trip or a vacation abroad. 

Include the Kids
As a mom, your biggest challenge may be building a fitness routine around your kids' schedules. Instead, try building exercise into your kids' routines. Not only will this help you, but it will teach them the important habit of regular exercise. Go for walks or bike rides together. Do exercise videos together. Walk the dog as a family. Play games that will raise your heart rate such as tag or tossing a ball around. If your child is at a sports practice, walk or jog laps around the field or gym while you wait. 

Use Variety
A lot of people give up exercise because they get bored and lose motivation. The way to combat boredom is to incorporate variety into your workouts. A natural way to do this is to coordinate your exercise with the weather. If the weather is pleasant, exercise outside-play sports, go for walks, or move around at the park. Fitness classes like aerobics, yoga and Pilates can also be fun and challenging. 

Bring a Buddy
Working out with a friend or your partner is a great way to spend time together and stay motivated. You may even be able to find a group of moms who exercise together-with kids in tow. Talk to your friends and family and figure out some group exercise routines that work for you. 

Use Small Sessions
Try breaking 30 minutes of exercise into three 10 minute sessions broken up during the day. If you're having difficulty finding space in your day, separating your workouts maybe the best way to make adjustments to your busy schedule. 

With these tips you'll be well on your way to a fitter, healthier and happier you-without completely changing your schedule. You have the time to exercise; all you have to do is find what motivates you and build fitness into your routine. 


Word of the Day

May 29, 2012 7:24 pm

Grantee. Person named in a deed who acquires ownership of real estate; the buyer.

Q: What Kind of Return Can I Expect from Home Improvements?

May 29, 2012 7:24 pm

A: This will vary depending on the type of work that is done. Remodeling magazine publishes an annual "Cost vs. Value Report'' that can answer this question in more detail, based on the top 15 home improvements. A recent study it conducted says the highest remodeling paybacks have come from siding and window replacements, major kitchen remodeling, bathroom and family room additions, and mid-range master bedroom suites.

An important point to remember is that remodeling not only improves a home’s livability, it also enhances its curb appeal with future buyers.

Potting Pointers for Summer Planting

May 25, 2012 3:08 pm

This summer, I’m going to pot –I mean, I'll be following the lead of the Ballard Design Studio pros who say this is the year to start decorating with planters.

Getting started is as easy as strategically placing a few potted containers to create lush, easy-to-maintain landscaping for your outdoor space. A mix of foliage plants and flowers provide instant color, and planters provide you with a great design tool because you can use them to define a space.

Use leafy green plants in a row of planters to create a cozy conversation area or direct a natural flow of traffic to and from the patio. And trees potted in containers are great for blocking off a workstation or hiding unsightly areas.

And remember, when grouping containers together, stagger heights for the biggest visual impact. Here are a few more "self-contained" tips from the pros at Ballard:

• Create a combination of thriller, filler and spiller plants. A thriller is a bold plant that creates height. A filler is a mounding, billowy plant and a spiller is a low trailing plant that spills out of the sides toward the ground.
• Consider texture and color combinations.
• Make sure all of the plants are either shade lovers or require sunlight, depending on the location of your planter.
• Think about presentation when choosing number of plants. Will the planter be seen from all sides or just one?

The Ballard design pros also advise you to use planters as makeshift beverage tubs and place them in convenient gathering spots — by the grill, pool or a seating area — and keep the drinks flowing. Or, place planters filled with towels, flip-flops, sunscreen and hats nearby - planters are an attractive, weatherproof alternative to woven baskets or unsightly plastic tubs.

And if you want to make your first easy stab at window box or patio gardening, create a feast for the senses with potted herbs. Aromatic herbs such as mint, lavender, basil and rosemary infuse the air with their natural scents and enhance your favorite dishes.


Practice Safe Picnicking

May 25, 2012 3:08 pm

Memorial Day Weekend is here! And with it, the start of picnic season. As you plan your next outing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds you that foodborne bacteria multiply faster in warm weather, and this can lead to food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness).

Prior to barbecue time - defrost meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator or by submerging sealed packages in cold water. You can also microwave-defrost, but only if the food will be grilled immediately afterward. If marinating, use the fridge not the countertop. Never reuse marinade that contacted raw foods unless you boil it first, or set some of the marinade aside before marinating food to use for sauce later.

Handling fruits and vegetables – thoroughly wash all produce before eating even if you plan to peel it. Fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated or kept on ice to maintain quality and safety.

When packing picnic gear - place food from the refrigerator directly into an insulated cooler immediately before leaving home, and use lots of ice or ice packs to keep it at 40 °F or below. Pack raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate cooler if possible, or wrap it securely and store at the bottom of the cooler where the juices can't drip onto other foods. Place beverages in a separate cooler; this will offer easy drink access while keeping perishable food coolers closed. If your picnic site doesn't offer clean water access, bring water or pack moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands. Don't forget to pack a food thermometer!

Keep cold foods cold - load coolers into the passenger compartment of the car; it's cooler than the trunk. Once at the picnic site, keep food in coolers until serving time, out of direct sun – and avoid opening the lids often.

When grilling - have clean utensils and platters available. Cook meat, poultry and seafood to the right temperatures; use a food thermometer to be sure (see Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart). Keep cooked meats hot until serving time, at 140 °F or warmer; set them to the side of the grill rack to keep them hot. When removing foods from the grill, place them on a clean platter – never use the same platter and utensils you used for raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Watch the time and outside temperature - don't let hot or cold perishables sit out in the "Danger Zone"(between 40 °F and 140 °F) for more than two hours – or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 °F. If they do, discard them.


Pull Weeds, Not Muscles, When Gardening This Summer

May 25, 2012 3:08 pm

Gardening can be a rewarding experience, but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2010 more than 41,200 people in the United States were injured as a result of working in their gardens.

Planting cascades of flowers and adding other landscaping features to your yard involves tools and equipment that, if used without precaution, could result in serious injuries.

"Whether you're an expert gardener or first-timer, carefully planning your gardening project from beginning to end is important," said orthopaedic surgeon Christopher Doumas, MD an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons spokesperson. "Many gardening injuries such as back strains or cuts from sharp tools can be prevented if the proper planning and safety guidelines are put into action."

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends following these gardening safety tips and sharing them with family and friends.

• Plan what you want to do in advance and do not be in a hurry.
• Wear protective gloves, sturdy shoes and long pants when working in the garden to protect against insect bites and injuries such as stepping on sharp objects or cuts from handling sharp tools.
• Familiarize yourself with the plants that are in your garden. If you identify poisonous plants or trees, ensure you keep young children away and educate them about the potential risks. If you cannot identify a plant or tree, take a sample to your local garden center for identification.
• Keep gardening equipment in good working order. For example, when using a hedge trimmer for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
• To avoid injuring your back when lifting heavy objects in the garden, position yourself close to the object you want to lift. Separate your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support, bend at the knees, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles as you stand up. If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself. Get help.
• To avoid back and knee injuries caused by repetitive bending and kneeling in the garden, consider using a garden stool to help relieve pressure on your spine and knees.
• Gardening in the early morning or late afternoon helps avoid the heat of the sun. However, early morning and evening are dangerous times for UVA rays, which harm the skin, so a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and sunglasses are recommended regardless of time of day.
• Stay hydrated with fluids, especially if you're working up a sweat.
• Do not drink alcoholic beverages before gardening as you may be operating equipment and using sharp tools.
• Children should not be allowed to play in or near where sharp tools, chemicals or gardening equipment are being used or stored.
• Remove stones, toys and other objects from the yard before you start gardening.

Source: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Word of the Day

May 25, 2012 3:08 pm

Word of the Day 

Graduated payment mortgage. Mortgage loan for which the initial payments are low but increase over the life of the loan.

Q: What Should I Know about Putting My Home for Sale?

May 25, 2012 3:08 pm

A: Once your home is available to be shown strive to keep it in tip-top shape. This will require a lot of effort on your part, but you want buyers to feel welcomed and not turned off by unmade beds, cluttered floors, and grungy bathrooms.

Realize, too, that your life will be temporarily inconvenienced. When an agent – yours as well as others – calls wishing to bring a buyer to see the home at the last minute or on the same day, respond favorably. Remember your goal is to get the home sold, and that can only be accomplished if people get to see it. Flexibility is the key to a quick sale.

Plan not to be present when buyers pass through. It is awkward and unsettling for them to have the owners present. If you cannot leave, sit in the backyard. But do not attempt to have conversations with the buyer. Speak only when spoken to; be brief and polite.
Finally, pay special attention to pets, particularly dogs. They can be intimidating. Put them on a leash and in the backyard. Better yet, when possible, take them with you. And be keen to pet odors. They can turn buyers away.

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440 - PERKASIE

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