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
September 26, 2011 4:59 pm
When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. Take the following recommendations when preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.
Tip No. 1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
Tip No. 2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.
Tip No. 3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.
Tip No. 4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.
Tip No. 5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
Someone once said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." When it comes to earning money at home, there is no doubt about it.
Legitimate ways to work from home require preparation, expertise in a particular field, and/or a level of commitment, such as getting a license. Ads promising pay for little or no expertise, such as stuffing envelopes or telemarketing, are very often scams. In no case should you be asked to pay up-front money.
But working from home holds definite appeal, and the opportunities are out there for enterprising men and women who are willing to research and prepare. From a panel of formerly employed moms who operate home-based businesses, here are some tips on what they do and how they do it:
Child care. Caring for other children is a natural answer for those who want to stay at home with their own kids. But licensing laws are strict, as are home and backyard requirements. Check with your City Hall for information on preparing for a career in home child care.
Writing and editing. Freelance writers, editors and artists are used by any number of magazines, newspapers and publishing companies. If—and only if—you have experience and demonstrated communication skills, check with editors you have worked with in the past and ask for recommendations.
Transcription and typing. For skilled typists and transcribers, especially for those with some medical knowledge, work may be available from local hospitals, colleges and doctor's offices. Post notices in college student union halls, and ask your doctor's office or hospital about the possibility of doing medical transcription.
Accounting or bookkeeping. Experienced bookkeepers may find part-time but steady work opportunities from any number of local businesses who can't afford full-time help. It will take some footwork, but make the rounds to introduce yourself and your skills.
Sell items you create. Take stock of your handiwork. If you make birdhouses, create lovely wind chimes, or bake attractive breads, cupcakes or cookies, look for restaurants or retail outlets willing to take your stock on consignment.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
Trying to decide whether to do some home remodeling this year or leave your money in the bank? You can do both if you remodel with paint.
"The cost of do-it-yourself interior painting is so low, it's almost like remodeling without touching your bank account," says Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute.
The key, of course, is investing some sweat equity.
"While a professional painter might charge up to $500 or more to paint a room, if you're willing to provide the labor, you can complete the job for a small fraction of that amount," says Zimmer.
Looked at another way, do-it-yourself interior painting is a great way to "earn" money. Since painting a room is usually a two-day proposition, if a contractor-applied paint job costs $500 in your area, you're essentially paying yourself $250 a day to paint.
Absent the labor cost, do-it-yourself interior painting is downright thrifty. Your only outlay is for paint, application equipment like brushes and rollers, and some miscellaneous expenses for things like tape and a drop-cloth. Total cost? "Less than $100 a room," says Zimmer. That's little more than pocket-change in today's remodeling world.
Whether you've decided to do your own interior painting to save money or simply to have a hand in beautifying your home, Zimmer offers the following tips:
"Take the time to properly prepare the walls and other surfaces before starting to paint," she says. "That means cleaning them with a solution of detergent and water, after which they should be rinsed and allowed to dry. If there are any cracks or holes in the walls, this is the time to repair them with spackling compound or a good-quality acrylic caulk."
Zimmer also recommends using only high quality brushes and rollers. "These will help you apply the paint more evenly to get professional-looking results, even if this is your first time painting," she says.
When applying latex paints, be sure to use brushes and rollers with synthetic bristles and covers. According to Zimmer, the brushes will maintain the proper stiffness and the rollers will maintain their shape even when exposed to a lot of water.
Lastly, Zimmer recommends that do-it-yourselfers buy only top quality 100% acrylic latex interior paints, which she describes as "the do-it-yourselfer's best friend."
"If you're going to spend time and effort doing your own interior painting, you want the job to last, and that's where these paints really pay off," she says. "Top quality 100% acrylic latex paints are extremely durable, plus they resist fading, so your paint job will look great for years to come."
So if you think you're up to the job, put yourself to work doing your own interior painting. You'll be rewarded not just with the money you save, but also with the satisfaction of a job well done.
For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
The well-being of our family is a priority all year, but is especially considered during the holidays when statistics about accidents abound. Most of us, with the possible exception of Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” take extra precautions for the holiday season. If you’re buying or selling a home, here are a few tips for safety and security that ensure a safe and happy home during the holidays, and all year long.
1. Protect little ones.
Whether you are preparing for a visit from your grandkids, nieces and nephews, or you have kids of your own, a child-proofing kit makes safety easy with grip-and-twist doorknob covers, latches and plug protectors.
• Child-proofing kit (Safety 1st, #42023), oven lock (Safety 1st, #62342), cord channel kit (#69682)
2. Mark and secure entries.
The holidays can be prime time for burglaries, but updating your locks with an electronic deadbolt system can provide added peace of mind. If you install a set with a numeric keypad, you’ll never have to worry about leaving keys for your guests again. Mark your entry with path lights that clearly guide the way to the door.
3. Clear the air.
Place an air purifier in the guest room and common areas to remove allergens (especially pet dander) and prevent the spread of cold and flu germs. Choose one with a true HEPA filter for maximum effectiveness.
4. Be fire smart.
With holiday lights, candles and lots of cooking in the kitchen, it’s important to be prepared. Safeguard your family by keeping an extinguisher on hand for small fires, and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Check the batteries frequently to make sure they are in working order.
5. Equip your bath.
It’s a snap to convert your guest bath into a safer place for older guests and young children. Add a grab bar to make getting in and out of the tub easier, and a durable bath mat to help prevent slips in the shower.
For more information and ideas, please visit www.lowescreativeideas.com.
This article is adapted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas for Home and Garden®, November/December 2010 issue, Style & Solutions – Home Safety.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
With the weather cooling down, many are looking toward alternative heating options. One economic and environmentally friendly heating option is a wood burning stove. The following are some of the reasons why many consumers will be cozying up to these stoves this winter.
1. They are economic. While many list having to buy wood as a slash against a wood burning stove, ready cut wood costs around a third of the cost of natural gas, electricity or oil. Plus, with a bit of planning and research you may be able to score wood for free. Neighbor having that tree in their yard removed? Offer to cut it down if it means you can snag the resulting wood. Plus, with a wood burning stove helping to warm your home, your heating bill will be lower.
2. They are environmentally friendly. Burning wood is a natural heat source, and releases the same type of natural CO2 that is released into the air when a tree rots naturally.
3. They are safe. Wood burning stoves are safer than open fires as they are enclosed.
4. They are clean. As wood burning stoves are enclosed, there is less of a chance of your carpet or floor getting sooty or singed as it would with an open fire.
5. They provide an energy backup. A wood-burning stove can heat a kettle or a pan if you ever lost your main source of energy, such as your gas or oil.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
Inspection - The act of physically examining and testing a piece of property to ascertain certain information.
September 23, 2011 4:59 pm
Q: Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?
A: It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But beware—they routinely charge high mortgage interest rates, fees, and penalties for this privilege.
A quality lender will expect you to show that you have cleaned up your credit. Providing a reasonable explanation about the circumstances that led to the foreclosure—such as exuberant medical expenses—is also helpful
September 23, 2011 2:59 pm
Summer of 2011 concluded with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee causing widespread flooding up and down the Eastern seaboard, damaging not only homes and businesses but cars as well. Unfortunately, some flood-damaged vehicles—after being sold to salvage operators and dealers—will be cleaned up and then re-sold, with the vehicle's flood-damage history illegally hidden, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
"Unscrupulous salvage operators and dealers often try to conceal the fact that the vehicles they are selling have been damaged by a natural disaster," says Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. "It is not illegal to sell or buy a flood-damaged car, however, it is against the law to sell a water-damaged car without letting the buyer know that the car had been damaged by a flood."
To prevent this type of fraudulent resale of cars to unsuspecting consumers around the country, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has been helping law enforcement groups and insurance companies identify and catalogue water-damaged vehicles.
"By creating VINCheck, the NICB helps protect consumers, and we've reduced the potential for this type of fraud to occur," says NICB president Joe Wehrle.
To help used-car buyers learn more about the history of a specific car and whether it has been declared as salvage by a participating NICB member insurance company, the NICB created VINCheck, which provides consumers a free search of a car's vehicle identification number (VIN).
"To avoid inadvertently purchasing a flood-damaged car, it is important that you only buy a used car from a reputable dealer, have a certified mechanic look for flood damage and check the car's VIN number by using a credible industry database," notes Salvatore.
The I.I.I. suggests you be on the lookout for the following indicators that a car may have been flooded:
• Mildew, debris and silt in places where it wouldn't normally be found, such as under the carpeting in the trunk, or around the engine compartment
• Rust on screws and other metal parts
• Water stains or faded upholstery; discoloration of seatbelts and door panels
• Dampness in the floor and carpeting; moisture on the inside of the instrument panel
• A moldy odor or an intense smell of Lysol or deodorizer; this is a tactic frequently used by dealers to cover up an odor problem
If you suspect that your local car dealer is committing fraud by knowingly selling flooded cars as regular used cars, contact your insurance company, local law enforcement agency or the NICB at 800-TEL-NICB.
For more information, visit www.iii.org.
September 23, 2011 2:59 pm
Choosing the right type of flooring is an important part of any interior design project. You need to ensure your flooring choice suits your individual needs, lasts a long time and—most importantly—looks good. If you achieve this, your new floor will provide you with the perfect foundation for whatever else you have in store for your room.
So what type of flooring should you choose—luxury carpet, hardworking laminate or functional vinyl flooring? Your choice should depend on what room you're decorating.
Choosing a New Carpet
If you want to feel something soft, cozy and warm underfoot then nothing beats carpet. The feeling of warmth and comfort offered by a new carpet makes it the perfect flooring solution for a bedroom, living room and stairway. The wide range of colors, patterns and styles also mean a new carpet is sure to fit into any existing or future décor.
When shopping for a new carpet, you should also consider carpet remnants as they are a popular and cheaper solution if you have an odd-shaped room in your home.
Opting for Vinyl Flooring
Certain rooms in your home need practical flooring capable of withstanding a substantial amount of traffic or wear. That is why vinyl flooring is perfect for the kitchen and bathroom.
Capable of withstanding stains, heavy footfall as well as every day wear and tear, vinyl flooring is a perfect match for anyone wanting a practical flooring solution in their home. Vinyl is also water-resistant, making it the perfect choice for withstanding the effect of water spillage and steam.
Going for Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is becoming a more popular option. Suitable to multiple rooms in the home, laminate can give your room a modern and stylish look while also being practical and durable, making it perfect for the kitchen, bathroom, hall or living room.
For more information, visit http://www.carpetright.co.uk.
September 23, 2011 2:59 pm
There are not many patterns that have been in fashion for more than 300 years.
"Stripes are always in style," says Jan Jessup, director of communications for the Calico Corners—Calico Home stores. "Think of ticking stripes, sailor-shirt stripes, regency stripes, tone-on-tone stripes, menswear stripes, ombre stripes, multi-color stripes, awning stripes, nautical stripes, flag stripes, flour-sack stripes, pinstripes and seersucker stripes. Stripes take the prize for versatility!" she notes.
While stripes never seem to go out of fashion, they're back in a big way—literally. "Bold stripes and wide stripes are a hot look now," adds Jessup. "They're great companions to the strong graphic prints on the market in floral, aviary and other patterns." Stripes are clean-lined and streamlined—and can look modern without being trendy. A two-color or multi-color stripe is a way of bringing more color into a room without a riot of pattern.
"Stripes usually run vertically on furniture or window treatments—however, we're seeing more and more stripes run horizontally, like a bold rugby shirt," observes Jessup. "This is a more casual application and can be a fun look on informal furniture—or a way to rev up a more traditional piece." Stripes can also be mitered on pillows and table skirts for visual interest and to show off custom workmanship.
Why do stripes have such enduring appeal? "They're orderly when life is messy," says Jessup. They add the illusion of height to a room or a window. They can be quiet and elegant, as in ombre silk stripes. They can be breezy casual and colorful. "Stripes are great mixers with other prints and patterns," she adds. "The right stripe can add zest and freshen an existing interior. Stripes come in a splendid variety of scales, textures and colors. They're timeless, they're trendy, they're now."
For more information, visit http://www.CalicoCorners.com.