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
October 3, 2011 6:59 pm
Don’t have the eye of a designer and the taste of a decorator? Or perhaps just looking for a little extra guidance? No matter what level of skill one processes in design, according to Lloyd Princeton of iMatchDesigners, anyone can have the home and business they have always dreamed of from the inside out in one easy process.
Here, Princeton shares his personal advice on how to efficiently achieve the best results for your design project in the timeline and budget desired.
• Look and Style: Select someone whose design style fits the look you’re going for. If you don’t know what your style is yet, encourage them to flip through the designers past work and portfolios and see what jumps out.
• Personality: Find someone you feel you can be open and honest about your likes and dislikes. Most importantly, find someone who understands the role you to play. If you want to be really involved, you can consult them on all details. If you want to hand over the reins, the designers will take full charge and create your project with minimal consulting.
• Scope of Project: Make sure the designer outlines the complete scope of the project. This helps avoid unforeseen costs and other surprises. If budget is an issue, be willing to compromise. Know when to splurge on the main pieces—the sofa and chandelier—and when to choose less expensive pieces for accessories like end tables and lamps. Also breaking up the project into phases helps keep the budget on track.
For more information, visit http://imatchdesigners.com.
October 3, 2011 6:59 pm
If you eat food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria, you could get so sick that you have to be hospitalized. And for certain vulnerable people, the illness could be fatal.
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria germs can grow and spread in the refrigerator. So if you unknowingly refrigerate Listeria-contaminated food, the germs could contaminate your refrigerator and spread to other foods there and increase the likelihood that you and your family will become sick.
Those most at risk for listeriosis—the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes—include pregnant women, older adults and people with compromised immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.
Recently, a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis tied to contaminated cantaloupes has caused illnesses and deaths. Listeria has also been linked to a variety of ready-to-eat foods, including unpasteurized milk and dairy products, Mexican-style or soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, processed deli meats, hot dogs, smoked seafood and store-prepared deli-salads.
Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says FDA is aware of cases of foodborne illness caused by bacteria that can live in the kitchen and spread to foods.
Consumers are advised to wash all fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you plan to peel the produce first. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
To further protect yourself and your family from Listeria, follow these steps:
Keep Refrigerated Foods Cold
Chilling food properly is an important way of reducing risk of Listeria infection. Although Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, it grows more slowly at refrigerator temperatures of 40 degrees F or less.
• Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower and the freezer at 0 degrees F or lower.
• Wrap or cover foods with a sheet of plastic wrap or foil or put foods in plastic bags or clean covered containers before you place them in the refrigerator. Make certain foods do not leak juices onto other foods.
• Place an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, in the refrigerator, and check the temperature periodically. Adjust the refrigerator temperature control, if necessary, to keep foods as cold as possible without causing them to freeze. Place a second thermometer in the freezer to check the temperature there.
• Use precooked and ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can. The longer they are stored in the refrigerator, the more chance Listeria has to grow.
"If you have leftovers in your refrigerator, it’s best to throw them out after three days, just to be sure,” says Zink. “It's better to be safe than sorry."
Clean Refrigerator Regularly
Listeria can contaminate other food through spills in the refrigerator.
• Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away—especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry. Consider using paper towels to avoid transferring germs from a cloth towel.
• Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with warm water and liquid soap, then rinse. As an added measure of caution, you can sanitize your refrigerator monthly using the same procedures described below for kitchen surfaces.
Clean Hands and Kitchen Surfaces Often
Listeria can spread from one surface to another.
• Thoroughly wash food preparation surfaces with warm, soapy water. As an added precaution you should sanitize clean surfaces by using any of the kitchen surface sanitizer products available from grocery stores, being careful to follow label directions.
You can make your own sanitizer by combining 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach to one 1 quart of water, flooding the surface and letting it stand for 10 minutes. Then rinse with clean water. Let surfaces air dry or pat them dry with fresh paper towels. Bleach solutions get less effective with time, so discard unused portions daily.
• A cutting board should be washed with warm, soapy water after each use. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards can be washed in a dishwasher.
• Dish cloths, towels and cloth grocery bags should be washed often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
• It’s also important, to wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
For more information, visit www.FDA.gov.
October 3, 2011 6:59 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.
October 3, 2011 6:59 pm
Q: What happens at a trustee sale?
A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.
Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.
October 3, 2011 4:59 pm
Just-released statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation tell us a home is burglarized in the U.S. every 14.6 seconds—with an average loss to homeowners of more than $2,000 per theft. But, suggests Consumer’s Report, there are plenty of ways homeowners can help keep their homes from becoming a target for thieves.
Here are eight simple but effective suggestions for protecting your home and valuables:
1. Lock the garage door—leaving it open, or unlocked in your absence, is an invitation to thieves, who can simply close the outer door and gain access to your home from inside.
2. Don’t hide spare keys—Experienced burglars know where most keys are hidden; under a mat, above the door, in a planter box or under a statue. Instead of hiding one, give a spare key to one of your neighbors. 3. Don’t store ladders in an unlocked shed—Burglars can use them to gain access through an upper story window.
4. Think about a noisy alarm system—Silent alarms are fine, but most thieves know it will take at least 10 minutes for authorities to show up after an alarm is tripped. A noisy alarm will send them running.
5. Trim trees and landscaping—Trees near the house can offer a burglar easy access. Untrimmed shrubbery offers a pretty good hiding place.
6. Light up the dark—A darkened exterior gives a thief an entry advantage. Make sure your yards—front and back—are well lighted when you are away.
7. Secure sliding glass doors. Put a dowel down in the channel so the door cannot be opened wide enough to enter.
8. Don’t rely on a barking dog—Thieves may attempt to circumvent them by feeding them treats laced with tranquilizers or worse. Use timers to turn on lights, TVs, radios, etc. in random patterns.
9. Don’t ‘advertise’ at the curb—If you’ve just purchased a big-screen TV, a new appliance or other large item, cut the outer carton into small pieces that will fit inside the trash can.
10. Don’t post vacation photos on Facebook—at least not until after you are home. Wily thieves troll social media sites for such photos to learn when families are away.
September 30, 2011 6:59 pm
Junior mortgage. Any mortgage, such a second or third mortgage on a property, which is subordinate to the first one in priority.
September 30, 2011 6:59 pm
Children are magnets for colds. But when the “cold” won’t go away for weeks, the culprit may be allergies.
Long-lasting sneezing, with a stuffy or runny nose, may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis—the collection of symptoms that affect the nose when you have an allergic reaction to something you breathe in that lands on the lining inside the nose.
Allergies may be seasonal or they can strike year-round (perennial). In most parts of the United States, plant pollens are often the cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis—more commonly called hay fever. Indoor substances, such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander, may cause the perennial kind.
Up to 40 percent of children suffer from allergic rhinitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). And children are more likely to develop allergies if one or both parents have allergies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines that offer allergy relief as well as allergen extracts used to diagnose and treat allergies.
Immune System Reaction
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a specific substance, or allergen. The immune system responds to the invading allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals that typically trigger symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes, skin, or stomach lining, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
In some children, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma—a disease that causes wheezing or difficulty breathing.
If a child has allergies and asthma, “not controlling the allergies can make asthma worse,” says Anthony Durmowicz, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary doctor in FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products.
Avoiding the Culprit
If your child has seasonal allergies, you may want to pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high.
• In the late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the morning.
• In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
• Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal. For example, leaf mold is more common in the fall.
• Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.
It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner when pollen counts are high.
For most children, symptoms may be controlled by avoiding the allergen, if known, and using OTC medicines. However, if a child’s symptoms are persistent and not relieved by OTC medicines, it is wise to see a health care professional to assess your child’s symptoms and see if other treatments, including prescription medicines, may be appropriate.
While some allergy medicines are approved for use in children as young as six months, Dianne Murphy, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, cautions, “Always read the label to make sure the product is appropriate for your child’s age. Just because a product’s box says that it is intended for children does not mean it is intended for children of all ages.”
“Children are more sensitive than adults to many drugs,” adds Murphy. “For example, some antihistamines can have adverse effects at lower doses on young patients, causing excitability or excessive drowsiness.”
Children who don't respond to either OTC or prescription medications, or who suffer from frequent complications of allergic rhinitis, may be candidates for allergen immunotherapy—commonly known as allergy shots. According to NIAID, about 80 percent of people with allergic rhinitis will see their symptoms and need for medicine drop significantly within a year of starting allergy shots.
After allergy testing, typically by skin testing to detect what allergens your child may react to, a health care professional injects the child with “extracts”—small amounts of the allergens that trigger a reaction. The doses are gradually increased so that the body builds up immunity to these allergens.
Allergen extracts are manufactured from natural substances, such as pollens, insect venoms, animal hair, and foods. More than 1,200 extracts are licensed by FDA.
Some doctors are buying extracts licensed for injection and instructing the parents to administer the extracts using a dropper under the child’s tongue, says Jay E. Slater, M.D., director of FDA’s Division of Bacterial, Parasitic and Allergenic Products. “While FDA considers this the practice of medicine (and the agency does not regulate the practice of medicine), parents and patients should be aware that there are no allergenic extracts currently licensed by FDA for oral use.”
“Allergy shots are never appropriate for food allergies,” adds Slater, who is also a pediatrician and allergist. But it’s common to use extracts to test for food allergies so the child can avoid those foods.
Transformation in Treatment
“In the last 20 years, there has been a remarkable transformation in allergy treatments,” says Slater. “Kids used to be miserable for months out of the year, and drugs made them incredibly sleepy. But today’s products are outstanding in terms of safety and efficacy.”
Forgoing treatment can make for an irritable, sleepless, and unhappy child, adds Slater, recalling a mother saying, after her child’s successful treatment, “I didn’t realize I had a nice kid!”
For more information, visit www.fda.gov.
September 30, 2011 6:59 pm
Q: How do lenders define bad credit?
A: It is all those things that appear on your credit report that are unflattering. They include: missing a credit card payment, defaulting on a previous loan, filing for bankruptcy in the past seven years, or not paying your taxes.
Other black marks include a judgment filed against you – perhaps for non-payment of spousal or child support – or any collection activity.
September 30, 2011 4:59 pm
Despite the ups and downs across America’s Real Estate landscape, I was buoyed by a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that affirmed home ownership is still the American dream. In fact, nearly nine in 10 Americans say an important part of their American Dream is owning their own home.
This point was brought to my attention by Scott Cooney with ERA Goodfellow Homes, a leading real estate brokerage serving western Connecticut. He recently blogged that he has never witnessed real estate market conditions quite like what the U.S. and the region is experiencing today.
So is that good or bad news for consumers who are currently in the market for a new home? Cooney seems optimistic in offering these insights:
1. Homes are More Affordable - Current housing prices are down 27% on average across the nation from peak values five years ago according to the Freddie Mac House Price Index (June 2006 to March 2011), and the national housing affordability index continues to hover at record levels.
2. Rates are Low - With interest rates hovering around 4%, 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates remain near historical lows, based on an average 30-year fixed mortgage rate with an average 0.7 point as shown in the Primary Mortgage Market Survey data according to Freddie Mac as of July 7, 2011.
3. Timing is Everything - While conforming loan limits were set to be reduced on Oct. 1, (2011) many sources said the effects would be minimal and would only affect a narrow percentage of the housing market.
4. Financing is Available - If you have stable employment of at least two years; sufficient income to cover the monthly mortgage payment and living expenses; adequate savings to make at least a 3.5% down payment; and, in general, a credit score of at least 620, Cooney says you are well on your way to the American dream.
Just remember, according to Cooney, the FHA requires a minimum 3.5% down payment; while conventional mortgages will require a down payment of 5% or more. FICO score minimums may be higher or lower depending on loan type, income history, property type and other factors.
So take stock in Cooney’s advice, and don’t let those sensational headlines about the current real estate market dissuade you from pursuing your American dream of home ownership.
September 30, 2011 4:59 pm
According to Expert Home Solutions, the difference in the loan modification payment is often not different enough from the original. Sometimes the modification is canceled because there is no grace period and the homeowner misses his due date.
According to an article on CNN only 1% of homeowners in negative equity have received modifications. There have been 1.5 million HAMP trial modifications since the program began in March, 2009. 50% of the trial modifications have been canceled due to borrowers defaulting or banks rejecting homeowners after the trial period. Only 152,289 of the trial modifications converted to permanent status were active in 2010. 15 million homeowners are in default and only 1% have been able to get a modification that is still in force.
According to walletpop.com, only 4% of loan modifications get a principal reduction. With only 1% of the 15 million homeowners in default getting a loan modification that means that about 7,000 homeowners received a principal reduction by April 2010.
While this trend continues today, some homeowners want retirement with a reverse mortgage or want to leave a legacy to their family. In a modification with no principal reduction they will not be able to do either. Equity normally increases about 3% per year. If a home loan is $500,000 and now the home is worth $300,000, it will take 18 years to reach $500,000. This homeowner breaks even in 2029. If the owner short sales now, he can buy in two years and start building equity in 2013.
For more information, visit http://www.experthomesolutionsincusa.com.