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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
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

August 30, 2011 6:59 pm

Fannie Mae. Common name for the Federal National Mortgage Association, which buys and sells loans in the secondary mortgage market.
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Question of the Day

August 30, 2011 6:59 pm

Q: What is a second mortgage?

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home. Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance of your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance, and processing fees.

Home improvement loans are often written as second mortgages. And sometimes you can get a college tuition loan by using a second mortgage.

In case of default, the loan is paid off from the proceeds of the sale of the property, after the first mortgage has been paid off first.
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7 Tips for Making School Sports Safer

August 30, 2011 4:59 pm

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

Playing sports at school can provide much more than physical exercise. It is a great way for kids to build coordination, discipline, and self-confidence. But, reminds the U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH), children between the ages of five and 14 sustained more than 2 million sports and recreational injuries over the past 10 years.

While most sports injuries are minor, taking reasonable precautions can do a lot to keep kids safer during sports practices and games. The NIH offers seven ways to help parents (and coaches) keep young athletes happy and healthy:

• Group children appropriately – Insofar as possible, form teams according to the weight, size and skill of the players rather than by chronological age—especially for contact sports. Smaller kids trying too hard to keep up with bigger peers may be injuries waiting to happen.
• Get medical clearance – every child should be screened by a medical professional before taking part in a sport.
• Check the grounds – Be sure all playing fields—and sports equipment – are safe and properly maintained. Defective equipment can increase the risk of harm.
• Check the coaching staff – Ideally, a certified athletic trainer will be on site—or someone who has experience in preventing and recognizing sports injuries.
• Check protective gear – Be sure your child is using properly-sized, safety-tested, and well-fitted protective gear—and that he/she understands how to use it correctly.
• Don’t push – Never push a child to play if he/she feels uncomfortable or incapable of participating—and don’t ask an injured kid to “play through” the pain. No child should be required to play if he/she feels tired, cranky or ill.
• Seek needed medical care – If a child sustains an injury, or exhibits persistent pain or symptoms that interfere with play, medical care may be indicated even though the child claims to be fine.

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9 Things to Do in Last Weeks of Summer

August 30, 2011 4:59 pm

There are few things finer than relaxing in the garden with a glass of something cool while the sun is shining down. But this is the ideal time to take stock of what’s going on both in the garden and indoors.
Here, aspect.co.uk suggests some things to look out for during the end of summer months. 

1. Wooden garden furniture needs looking after year round, but especially so after long dry spells or sever sun exposure which will make varnish peel and bleach the wood. Treat your furniture with teak or linseed oil on a regular basis and it will look good all year long.
2. Decking, while durable and good-looking, also needs its beauty treatment. Scrub it down with a specialist cleaning product and rinse well. Then, just as with furniture, apply a light coat of suitable oil. This will help your decking resist wear and tear and looking like new.
3. Weeds proliferate in summer months. Clear paths and graveled areas.
4. With energy prices rocketing, check the hot water settings on your boiler. You will probably find that you can cut down the hours the boiler runs by at least 50 percent.
5. It’s at this time of year that you may notice your external paintwork is looking a bit tired. Get a reputable decorator round to give you a quote—and get the job done before winter!
6. Is your roof going to stand up to the winter? Call in an expert and get some advice.
7. If your house isn’t already properly insulated, now’s the time to contact your local authority and see what grants are available for this vital home improvement.
8. Go through every place where your clothes are stored and check for moths. If you find any evidence at all, remove every piece of clothing from that location and either wash or have them dry-cleaned.
9. Clear out the attic! If you haven’t used things in there since this time last year, it’s time for them to go.
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What to Do after the Disaster

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

The Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has these tips for individuals impacted by Hurricane Irene and now cleaning up in the aftermath:
• Notify your insurance company of any losses.
• Keep a notebook to track dates and times of conversations with individuals pertaining to your claim.
• Save receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, prescriptions, etc.
• Take photos of each room for future reference and insurance claims. This will provide a digital inventory of some visible contents.
• If electrical appliances—including televisions and computers—are damaged by water, do not turn them back on when power is restored. This can result in electric shock and/or do further damage to the appliance. Electronics can often be cleaned & restored by contractors who know what they're doing.
• Drywall, insulation and carpeting/padding impacted by the muddy water will probably need to be removed and replaced.
• Beware of scammers offering restoration services.
• Wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick-soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes.
• Wash your hands frequently—especially before touching your face or eating.
• Be careful of muddy water —there can be sharp items such as broken glass, nails, etc.
• Avoid cross contamination—don't wear dirty clothes or shoes to the clean part of the house.
• Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
• Don't use bleach to disinfect since it is corrosive and can react with other substances. Use household disinfectants.
• Open windows to ventilate the area. Open drawers and cabinets for interior drying, but don't force them open.
• Remove standing water from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting.
• Hard surfaces can be disinfected as well as some soft goods, depending on washability.
• Transport computers and musical instruments to a dry environment.
• Remove lamps and other items from wet furniture tops.
• Dry out as much as you can to prevent further damage. 

More information is available on the RIA website: www.restorationindustry.org.
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Protect Your Deck Now, Enjoy It Later

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

Colder temperatures, snow, and ice can do some damage on the exterior of your home, especially to wooden decks. Harsh winter weather can deteriorate the wood, ruin the look, and depreciate the value of your deck. Take extra care of it now so that your deck is in tip-top shape for backyard BBQs in the spring. There are three steps to winterizing your deck: 

First, you should give your deck a good wash. There are a number of substances that can get on your deck during the summer that could cause problems during the winter. For example, mold and mildew can cause erosion on various types of wood. Cleaning the deck can also prevent dry rot, which is wood decay caused by fungi. Start by removing furniture and planters for storage. 

Moisture between caught between the deck and planters or furniture can seep into the wood during the winter and stain the surface. Sweep off dirt and debris while making sure to clear the space between the planks for ventilation. A leaf blower can help you clear the surface quickly. Then wash your deck with deck soap—you can find specific formulas for each type of wood. After washing, give it a good rinse with the hose. 

The next thing you want to do is restore the deck by stripping and refinishing the wood. It is important to strip and refinish the deck before staining to ensure sealants adhere to the wood and cover evenly. Power washing the deck is recommended to remove old paint and stains. Make sure to maintain a consistent distance from the surface of the deck at all times to produce a smooth surface. 

The last and most important step is protecting the deck with water repellant stain. Stains or sealants prevent water, snow, etc., from penetrating the wood and causing decay. Ask your hardware or home improvement store about the best high-quality stain for your type of deck. 

Using a paint sprayer can make staining faster and provide a professional finish. A paint sprayer can also help you cover those hard to reach areas like railings, posts and underneath the deck. Spray on a non-windy day to prevent overspray, keep a consistent distance away from the surface, and maintain a steady speed while spraying. 

The deck is one of your home's greatest assets. Prolong the life of your investment by winterizing it each year.

For more project tips and information about what tools to use, visit www.wagnerspraytech.com.
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Product Trend: Energy Efficient Fridges

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, New Department of Energy efficiency standards will cut energy use of many new refrigerators by 25%. This will help consumers save money as well as reduce pollutions and encourage investment.

The latest standards are based on a joint recommendation filed in 2010 with DOE by the groups and refrigerator manufacturers represented by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
A typical refrigerator in 2014 will use about one-fifth as much electricity as one from the mid-1970s, and they cost about 60% less comparatively while also growing up to 20% larger.

Additionally, DOE estimates that these new fridges will cut CO2 emissions by 344 million metric tons over 30 years—which is equal to the annual emissions of about 67 million cars.

For more information, visit www.ase.org.

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Budget-Friendly Family Fun

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

These days, enjoying one another's company on a budget is even more important for families. So take a break from the ordinary and settle into the comforts of the best playground around—the home.
Remember that family time should be silly, lighthearted, and above all, about creating special bonding moments with the kids. Following are a few entertaining at-home activities the entire family can enjoy without dipping into savings. 

Explore the great indoors. Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. Divide the family into teams and race to see who can find the most items on the list first. Don't forget to have prizes for the winners. Better-for-you treats make for the perfect scavenger hunt prize or for snacking on-the-go. 

Switch it up with backwards day. Shake up the evening routine by doing everything backwards. Put on your comfy pajamas right after school and even flip them backwards or inside out. Get together for a board game with a twist and move the pieces from finish to start. Make your end of day meal more festive by serving breakfast for dinner or eating dessert as the first course. The kids will certainly get a kick out of bending the rules. 

Create a backyard obstacle course. Collect some old produce boxes from your local grocery store; they're usually available free of charge. Then, stagger the boxes on your lawn for the kids to run through in different patterns. Set up a backyard bowling game with recycled empty bottles just before the finish line. You can add other obstacles such as a limbo stick, hopscotch with ropes or anything else you like from materials around the house—the sky is the limit. 

Make dinner a family affair. Research consistently shows that families who regularly eat together are closer and happier than those who don't. 

For more budget-friendly family recipes and activities, visit www.Meals.com.
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Word of the Day

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

Exclusive-right-to-sell listing. Listing that gives the broker the right to collect a commission no matter who sells the property during the listing period.

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Question of the Day

August 29, 2011 4:59 pm

Q: Is a home equity line of credit similar to a second mortgage?

A: A home equity loan, like a second mortgage, lets you tap up to about 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus your current mortgage balance. But because it is set up as a line of credit, you will not be charged interest until you actually make a withdrawal against the loan, although you will be responsible for paying closing costs.
The withdrawals can be made gradually as you begin to pay contractors and suppliers for handling your remodeling project.

The interest rates on these loans are usually variable. Of particular importance: make sure you understand the terms of the loan. If, for example, your loan requires that you pay interest only for the life of the loan, you will have to pay back the full amount borrowed at the end of the loan period or risk losing your home.
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