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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
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

Q: What are the pros and cons of owning a townhouse?
A: On the plus side, exterior maintenance and repairs are minimal; there are no neighbors above or below the home like in an apartment; and because the homes are attached, they may offer a greater sense of security. 

As for the disadvantages, if there is a homeowner’s association, buyers will have to pay a homeowner’s fee. There is also less privacy than with a detached single-family home. And there are limits on how you can make exterior changes to the home.
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Tips for Living Comfortably When You're on the Road

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

Traveling can leave you craving the comforts of home, especially when you're on the road for more than a day or two. Making life comfortable while you are away starts with choosing the right hotel and finding ways to keep your real-life routines rolling, so being miles from where you live still feels close to how you live. 

Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, co-founding editor of Apartment Therapy, founding editor of Apartment Therapy's culinary arts site TheKitchn.com, and author of "Good Food to Share," is a frequent traveler, and for the first time, she's taking her lifestyle expertise on the road. For this food expert, being comfortable and maintaining her routine starts with selecting a hotel with all of the amenities she needs, such as a fully-equipped, in-suite kitchen and separate living and sleeping spaces. 

Sara Kate offers the following tips for making life on the road feel more like home: 

Do Like the Locals Do
Find a local farmers market or local gourmet grocery store. Buy yourself flowers there -- a pot of your favorite violets on the counter or by the window will add color and life to your hotel room. Or, even just having a freshly-baked baguette or some fresh yogurt to snack on in your room can make you feel more cozy and at home. It's also a great place to go for a walk and explore the neighborhood. 

Get Exercise
Ironically, travel can be sedentary, so make sure to move your body. Look for hotels with 24-hour gyms or spacious suites, which provide the perfect setup to work out with your favorite DVD or get in your morning Pilates or yoga routine. Keeping your workout consistent, even while on the road, will help keep you energized throughout the day. 

Sip and Enjoy
Bring your favorite tea bags or coffee grounds -- whether you crave espresso or chai, one sip of your favorite coffee or tea will evoke memories of home and start your day off on the right foot. Find a hotel with an in-room coffee/tea maker so you can enjoy your morning drink while getting ready for your day. 

Source: www.hyatthouse.com.
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Protect Your Pets from Pests

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

For pet owners, warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with their furry loved ones. But it also brings the risk of flea and tick infestation. 

Veterinarians across the country are expecting an abundance of fleas and ticks this year, due in part to warmer winter temperatures in some areas of the nation. 

"Fleas and ticks are more than simple nuisances for your pets," says Laura Petree, DVM, Manager of Technical Services for Central Garden and Pet Company. "They can cause your pet discomfort, and in the case of ticks, put your pets and your family at risk for a variety of diseases." 

Dr. Petree says that flea eggs can account for 50 percent of a domestic flea infestation. One adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. If your pet has 10 fleas, your problem suddenly multiplies to 15,000 fleas in a month. "In order to effectively protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, you need to address any initial infestation problem, then keep the problem from coming back," she said. 

Preventing problems
Prevention is the best course of action. Making your yard unfriendly to pests is a good place to start.

Don't give fleas and ticks a welcoming environment.
Mow regularly, keep shrubs trimmed, and rake up leaves. Keep the garbage covered so it won't attract rodents -- that means fleas and ticks won't have any help getting close to your house.

You can spray your yard to kill adult fleas and ticks.
Outdoor sprays can be used on lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs. They kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets and other insects. Spray wherever your pet frequents the most. Allow it to dry before letting pets or people onto the treated area. 

Preventive maintenance should be a regular part of your pet care routine. Whenever you groom your dog or cat, check for fleas and ticks. Signs of fleas include redness and scratching, as well as what's known as flea dirt -- black flea droppings left on your pet's coat. Ticks are most commonly found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and in between the toes. Cats may also have them around the neck and face. 

Topical treatments contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and prevents re-infestation. They kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. 

Shampoos and mists can also be used to complement your pet's regular flea and tick control maintenance.

Shampoos clean your pet by eliminating adult fleas, ticks and flea dirt. The active ingredients must come in contact with the pests for a certain period of time in order to be effective. Results are immediate. However, because shampoos have no long-lasting effects, it's a good idea to follow the shampoo with a dip or maintenance product.

Mists are used to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitoes on dogs and cats instantly. Flea eggs and larvae will be prevented for one to two months. 

Controlling an infestation
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pet brings home some unwanted pests.

Here's what you can do:

Quickly kill biting adult fleas and offer several days of flea protection by using short-term control products for severe infestation problems. Sprays, dips, shampoos and other products can be used to help combat an infestation problem until it is under control. 

Vacuuming plays an important role in getting a flea infestation under control. Vacuum before the first home treatment, then daily for the next few weeks. This will help remove newly emerged fleas, flea dirt, eggs and some larvae from the carpets.

Treating your home with carpet powders, carpet sprays, room foggers or home sprays will help control fleas. Every area your pet frequents should be treated -- including the garage, basement, kennel and yard. 

Source: www.adamsfleacontrol.com.
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Time-Saving Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

It's no surprise that mothers make compromises every day. A recent survey of 1,000 American moms by Green Works naturally derived cleaners revealed that 57 percent admit to turning down bedroom time with their mate to clean the house. This number soars to 74 percent for new moms. 

In addition, the survey found that moms don't get to take breaks for special occasions. In fact, half of all moms reported cleaning the kitchen after a special meal on their own birthday and even Mother's Day. Thirty-six percent of new moms reported cleaning up the mess on their first Mother's Day. 

When it comes to keeping a clean home, moms will also compromise plans with friends. Half of the moms surveyed admitted to turning down time with pals to do laundry, and 64 percent responded that they have cancelled fun activities in order to clean. Even with all of these cleaning compromises, 90 percent still admit to feeling guilty for taking time for themselves. 

"The truth is that moms have a house full of cleaning priorities and not enough time to get it done," says Amanda Mahan, blogger for Green Mommy in a Plastic World and creative director for Green Works. "The logical solution becomes compromising personal time. But there are easy ways to cut down on time spent cleaning without compromising yourself or the clean." 

To help busy moms keep the house cleaning manageable, while making time for the people and activities they most enjoy, Mahan offers the following tips: 

Five minutes to clean laundry
• Take a few seconds to spot treat tough stains.
• Don't sort laundry before throwing it into the washer. Simply leave out garments that are likely to bleed and use the coldest water setting on the rest.
• Use the shortest wash cycle, then treat your load to an extra spin cycle. This will wick away extra moisture and cut down on drying time.
• If you have kids old enough to hit the mall, it's time for them to start pitching in. Assign specific tasks, such as sorting or folding. 

Five minutes to a clean bathroom
• Stash stray items in cupboard organizers for easy sorting.
• Use a gentle cleaning wipe that is naturally derived, yet packs a punch, such as the compostable Green Works wipes, to quickly give the mirror, countertop, faucet and sink a good once-over.
• Shake out the bathmat and use a few squares of toilet paper to wipe the floor.
• Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the toilet seat. Spray the inside with cleaner, and flush.
• Lastly, throw out the trash. 

Five minutes to a clean kitchen
• Stow away bulky appliances, pots and pans.
• Recycle old newspapers and take out smelly trash.
• Stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher or fill the sink with soapy water and submerge dishes into hiding.
• Hit hot spots with an old T-shirt and all-purpose cleaner, wiping down fridge door, counter, stove top and sink.
• Do a quick sweep of the floor. 

Source: www.GreenWorksCleaners.com/blog.
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Clean House Naturally and Avoid Toxic Cleansers

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

It's time to tackle the annual home cleaning. But just because you're thoroughly washing, scrubbing and disinfecting your home, doesn't mean you need to turn to cleansers with harsh ingredients and chemicals. In fact, you can easily clean using inexpensive products already in your kitchen, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Use these tips to clean your home naturally. 

Start seeing clearly: After months of winter weather, windows are often coated with a layer of grime. A solution of 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 liter of warm water can be used to gently remove dust or dirt from all glass surfaces including windows and mirrors. 

Freshen up the fridge: In addition to food spills, your refrigerator takes on odors from all the different foods stored throughout the year. Discard old items and be sure you are regularly cleaning out the fridge. Help reduce odors year-round by keeping a box of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda in the fridge at all times, replacing it every 30 days for best results. 

Reawaken your wardrobe: Start the season feeling good in clothes that smell fresh. Even when carefully stored, clothing can still be exposed to dust, and may require a good washing before wearing. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your next wash to naturally boost the power of your detergent. The combination will help balance PH levels to leave clothing cleaner and fresher. You can also freshen non-washable items like gym shoes, bags and sports equipment by sprinkling baking soda inside. 

Renew the everyday rooms: Avoid the fumes of harsh kitchen and bathroom cleaners by naturally cleaning surfaces with baking soda. A sprinkle of baking soda on a damp sponge will clean counters, stainless steel sinks, microwaves, ovens and much more without scratching. For tough grease, mix vinegar and lemon juice to leave your surfaces like new. 

Bet on a BBQ: After the inside of your home is looking spic and span, prepare for warmer weather and outdoor entertaining. Get your grill ready to prevent bad tasting hot dogs and hamburgers from ruining your next BBQ. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, then scrub away any residue and rinse clean. For really difficult stains, make a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part warm water and use a wire-bristled brush to work away at grime and grease stains. 

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

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

Counteroffer. An offer made in response to an earlier, unacceptable one; it terminates the original offer.
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Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 5:06 pm

Q: What are co-ops?

A: Cooperative apartments – known as co-ops – are not really owned by people as real property. Instead, people own shares of stock in the company that owns the building in which they live. But for all practical purposes, the experts say owning a co-op is almost like owning real property. Personal loans to “buy” a co-op apartment are written almost like mortgages. And the IRS treats co-op owners much like real property owners. They can deduct interest paid on their apartment loans and on their portion of the municipal taxes and mortgage interest paid by the corporation.
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5 Ways to Ensure a Healthy Lawn and Garden This Year

April 12, 2012 5:06 pm

With unseasonably warm temperatures across the nation all winter long, early spring looks a bit different this year with lush grass, budding trees and flowers blooming sooner than usual. New growth is a welcome occurrence for lawn and garden enthusiasts, but it also begs the question: should yard care be done differently this year?

According to Troy-Bilt®, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, the answer is yes.

"It's difficult sometimes to resist the urge to mow the lawn and plant new flowers as soon as the temperatures rise," says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. "Warm temperatures earlier in the season can cause many plants and grasses to begin growing sooner, but there's also more time for them to be exposed to damaging freezes, which could still come throughout spring." 

Troy-Bilt offers five tips for making sure your lawn and garden are healthy this year:

1. Don't plant annuals or fruit- or berry-producing plants early. Annuals and fruit- and berry-producing plants are especially susceptible to being killed off or damaged by frost. If you have these kinds of plants already in the ground, keep them well-watered. If you know the temperature will be dropping dangerously low on a particular night, cover the plants with mesh netting.
2. Begin pest and insect control earlier than usual. Cold winter temperatures keep pests and diseases in check, but this year many of those pests and diseases may not have died or gone fully dormant. Also, it's possible the warm winter could have thrown off the life-cycles of various insect species, which may mean the good insects we count on to gobble up the bad insects that harm grasses and gardens were born too early to do the job—so keep an eye out for new problems.
3. Protect ornamental bushes and shrubs that are out of their native range. Ornamental bushes and shrubs that are on the border of growing in their climate zone are usually more susceptible to blooming early at the first sign of warmer weather. If they do and there's a freeze, it's likely they'll lose their flowers for the season or produce fewer flowers this year. Protect them by watering well early in the season.
4. Begin weed maintenance earlier than usual. Your grass and garden aren't the only things growing sooner this year. Weeds had an early start as well. If you don't get an early start on weeding this year, your lawn or garden may get choked off and not grow as well this season.
5. Stay off the lawn, and resist the urge to cut the grass too short too early. A growing lawn is more susceptible to freezing than a dormant lawn. Staying off the lawn keeps the stress down on the grass and helps protect it if the temperature suddenly drops. Also, don't cut more than a third of the blade at a time. If you go lower and a freeze comes along, it could shock the grass and stunt its growth. 

Once you're ready to pull your lawn mower out of the shed for the first time this year, take some time to tune it up. If you've used your mower for more than a year, it may be time to sharpen or replace your blades. Also add fresh gas and oil. If your mower needs to be replaced, now is the time to start researching and hitting the stores. Not sure what kind of mower you need? Consider the following choices to find the mower best suited to your needs:

Walk-behind mower – If you have less than an acre of land or many obstacles in your yard, a reel, push or self-propelled walk-behind mower may make the most sense. 

Lawn tractor – For larger yards that would be difficult to cover on foot, consider a riding mower.
 
Zero-turn rider – If you're looking for faster mowing and easy maneuverability, a zero-turn rider may do the trick. A zero-turn radius enables quick turns and trimming. 

Source: Troy-Bilt
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Feeling Dirty? Prepare Your Home for a Visit from Cleaning Professionals

April 12, 2012 5:06 pm

It might seem absurd to have to prep your home to be cleaned. However, a friend once confided that a service couldn't clean her home well because it was too "dirty." The service wasn't talking about removing dirt, grease or pet hair; it was pointing out the difficulties of deep cleaning because of the surface clutter.

There are many ways to ensure that you'll get the most from professional cleaners. Consider a few of the following:

Clutter, clutter everywhere
Cleaning specialists focus on eliminating dirt, contaminants and allergens; they are not in the business of organizing. Piles of papers on the countertops, books stacked in the corners, or clothes in a heap on the floor should be removed to allow workers to thoroughly clean every surface. Since most services work around these objects, there will places in the home that don't benefit from a deep cleaning. And, in turn, that means you won't get the full benefits of paying for a service.

If you are short on time, throw the items in boxes and place them in the garage or basement. "Clutter" might include dishes in the kitchen sink, items on shower floors or bathtub ledges, clothing and toys, pet items, and piles of books, magazines or papers. 

Some services may consent to move piles around, but this takes time and likely will cost you more money. And because workers don't know where these things are meant to go, you may find yourself wasting time trying to find what they've put away or have placed in an unfamiliar stack.

Private matters
Save anything you don't want the workers to see, including bills, personal documents, or other items that should remain private. This precaution protects both you and the workers.

Special requests
If there is something special you want done, call the service several days before the scheduled visit to make arrangements. Leaving a note likely won't produce the desired results because workers might need extra time or additional cleaning products to comply with the request.

Give feedback
Once workers have cleaned your home, be sure to tell the service how you feel about the results. Building a relationship with the service and your cleaning professionals is the best way to ensure your continued satisfaction.

Source: The Maids, www.maids.com
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Top 5 Spring Fix-Up Tips

April 12, 2012 5:06 pm

 Spring has arrived, meaning it's time for home repairs. Spring fix-ups are a necessity after houses have been bruised and battered throughout the long winter months.

To help you get your home ready for the warmer weather, Mr. Handyman has released a list of the top five actions homeowners should take to get their houses in shape:

1. Gutter Installation/Cleaning – Gutters, one of the most underrated aspects of any home, will extend the life of the roof, soffits and fascia of a house. For the integrity of the roof, having the gutters cleaned is highly recommended.

2. Window Frame Repair – It's time to let in the fresh air and cool breezes. This is especially tricky with a busted window, which happens frequently when the weather is cold.

3. Power Washing Services – Getting the house, deck, and patio furniture professionally power washed can really increase curb appeal. Not only does power washing reduce wear and tear, it makes everything look good as new.

4. Deck Repair – Perform a careful inspection of the deck to determine areas that will need attention. Are railings solidly fastened? Is the surface splintered or have nails exposed? Does any framing need to be replaced? Make a list of all the work to be done to stay safe this summer.

5. Wood Rot Repair – Wood rot usually means there is underlying damage caused by water leaking behind the siding or between seams. Oftentimes, the leaking and rotting began years before, hidden from sight. Underneath, however, soaked wood has begun to rot and may be infested with insects.

Source: MrHandyman.com.
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