February 8, 2016 Call: 215 321.2378 x140

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A Guide to Hiring the Best Contractor for Home Renovations

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If you’re planning to complete some renovations on your home before putting it on the market, you may be unsure of the best way to go about finding the right contractor for the job. While there are probably many contractors available who can do your renovations right, here’s how you can get to the bottom of who will work the best for you.

Make A Few Phone Calls
Once you’ve done some research and determined a short list of prospective contractors, you’ll want to call each contractor to determine that they can complete your project in good time and are the right candidate for the work required. If they’re not available or are cagey about your question, this can be an easy way to whittle down the list.

Arrange a Meeting in Personrenovations
While a phone interview should provide you with some good insights right off the bat, you’ll also want to meet your potential contractors face to face before making any final decisions. If you get along well with the contractor and they are able to answer the questions you ask with confidence, it’s a good sign that they may be the right pick for your project.

Check Out References
Once you’ve decided between a few candidates, make sure you contact their former clients to determine how happy they were with the work and the contractor. Since you may have a date in mind for when you want to put your home on the market, it will be important to know if the job was completed in good time, as well as if any final issues were left hanging in the air unfinished.

Consider the Estimated Costs
Last but not least, you’ll want to have each contractor break down the project and provide a projected cost for labor and materials. You should be able to get a good sense of exactly what it’s going to cost and which bid is the most realistic. While it may be tempting to go for the lowest bid since you’ll probably be moving soon, you’ll want to strongly consider which contractor and which price will turn out the best in the end.

It can seem complicated to hire a contractor for your home renovations, but by conducting simple interviews and checking references you should be able to determine who the best person for the job is. If you’re curious about renovations and how they can impact the purchase price of your home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more insights.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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February Events in Bucks County PA.

Get ready to bundle up for some fun in Bucks County this month! From comedy nights to Presidents’ and Valentine’s Day celebrations, these happenings are worth braving the bitter cold of winter.feb1

• January 30-February 21 - Four women in the 1950s meet every Wednesday to share recipes and secrets in A Taste of Things to Come at the Bucks County Playhouse. The Betty Crocker Cooking Contest may not change their lives, but the 1960s sure will!

• Through February 24 - Be prepared to laugh during Joe Conklin’s Comedy Night! “The man of a thousand voices,” Joe Conklin and three hilarious comedians will be at 360 Nightclub at Parx every Wednesday.

• February 4 - Calling all Harry Potter fans! The Doylestown Bookshop is holding Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells. Celebrate the magic of J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters with a night of games, activities, and food.

• February 6 - In celebration of African-American History Month, the Mercer Museum will present an Afternoon with Benjamin Bannekar. Actor and storyteller Bob Smith will portray the distinguished surveyor, mathematician, astronomer, and farmer. Guests will be invited to “meet” Bannekar and learn about the tools he used to form the basis of his work.

• February 7 - Stay warm inside with the kids and learn about Native Americans during the Lenape! Join the fun at Churchville Nature Center where there will be entertainment including Native American Stories and games.feb2

• February 11 - Come out to the Sellersville Theater to hear an incredible night of music from the award-winning artist Ana Popovic. Her music blends smoking electric funk with slide guitar, jazzy instrumentals, and her soulful vocals. It’s a sound you won’t want to miss.

• February 12-14 - Love is in the air this month in Bucks County and we will post a list of fun Valentine’s Day activities for you and your special person.

• February 15 - Celebrate President’s Day with a bounce! Bounce U of Langhorne is throwing a Presidents’ Birthday Party. Bring the little ones for lots of bouncing, cupcake decorating and games!

• February 15 - Learn the history behind one of Bucks County’s historic towns. Jeffrey Marshall, the President of the Heritage Conservancy, will talk to the Newtown Historic Association about “The Man Who Built Newtown” at the Half Moon Inn.feb3

• February 18-21 - Take a step back in time with “Old Blue Eyes” during Steven Maglio’s Sound of Sinatra at the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Listen to Maglio’s take on Sinatra’s greatest hits as he evokes the legend’s vocals.

• February 19 - The 80′s are back for one night only! Get your groove on during an 80′s Dance Party at the Plumsteadville Inn Restaurant & Bar. Be sure to dress in your best 80′s garb for a chance to win a prize!

• February 21 - Did you know George Washington is turning 284 years old? Come out to Washington Crossing Historic Park to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday with children’s activities and cake. Don’t forget to bring a homemade birthday card!

• February 21 - If you like wine and cupcakes, you’re in luck! Crossing Vineyards and Winery is holding a Pairing Wine & Cupcakes Class. Sample some of the vineyard’s award-winning wines complimented with different cupcake flavors. Yum!

• February 24 - Come see Tammy Schane in her portrayal of Martha Dana Mercer at the Heritage Conservancy. Willie Mercer’s wife and hostess at Aldie Mansion for more than 30 years, Martha Dana Mercer spent a lot of time giving back to her community.

• Through February 27 - When the Moulin Rouge starts to lose business to the club down the street, the owners come up with a plan to get their customers back. But will it turn deadly? Find out at the Murder Mystery, Murder at the Moulin performed by Without a Cue Productions every Saturday at Fisher’s Tudor House.

• February 27 - Terry Klinefelter and Friends are bringing their beautiful jazz music to the James A. Michener Art Museum. Terry Klinefelter is an experienced jazz artist who has performed at the Kimmel Center and Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Be sure to grab advanced tickets for a night of great jazz!

**Photo courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse
**Photo courtesy of Sellersville Theater
**Photo courtesy of Bristol Riverside Theatre
**Photo courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
**Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com

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How to Discuss Repairs with a Seller after a Home Inspection

home inspection1When it comes to selling a home, it is a common belief that once the offer is accepted, there is nothing else to be negotiated. However, issues and obstacles that can arise during the home inspection can be a cause for discussion with the seller. Whether you’re currently searching for houses or your offer has already been accepted and you’re preparing for the next step, here are some tips in the event that the home inspection isn’t up to par.

Be Cautious About What You Say
Without a doubt, anything that you discuss with the real estate agent regarding the property you’re looking at is going to be addressed with the seller. Instead of telling the agent everything is fine and dandy, maintain a poker face with any deficiencies in the home so you can assess them after the inspection. While a seller may think they have you on the line if all seems fine during the inspection, maintaining your peace and negotiating after the fact may end up providing a better post-inspection deal for you.

Decide What Deficiencies Are Most Important
Before negotiating any repairs or defects with the seller and how this can benefit you, ensure you prioritize what deficiencies must be fixed and what you can live without. There may be leaks and small dings in cupboards that may not be much of an issue, whereas damage in a hardwood floor that you don’t want to renovate may serve as a deal breaker. Deciding what is most important will ensure that the seller knows you’re really interested, and it will likely convince them that the fixes will make for a successful sale.

Request A Credit for Repairshome inspection4
If a seller knows you’re interested in a home, you may be able to get a little bit of leeway in terms of what you can negotiate following the inspection. Instead of expecting them to deal with the hurdles of home repair, ask the seller to consider a credit so that you can ensure the repairs are completed on your own. This will not only enable you to have the repairs completed the way you would like them done, it may also make the moving process a smoother transition for all of you.

There are certain deficiencies that can show up during the home inspection, so it’s important to consider how re-negotiation can benefit both the buyer and the seller. If you’re curious about home inspections and other aspects of purchasing a home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

If you have any questions about buying a new home, or are selling your home and need advice on staging tips for your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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Some Ideas on Beating Cabin Fever During A Big Snow Storm

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The snow will be falling this Friday evening through Saturday with snow totals expected to accumulate to as much as 17 inches, or more in areas of Bucks County. Hopefully everyone is prepared and ready for what a major snow storm brings and have stocked up on essential winter storm supplies.

Now what? Being snowed can be pretty exciting for the first few hours, until the novelty wears off and boredom and anxiety set in. Keep you and your family happy and entertained with a few ideas to beat cabin fever.

Catch up on your must reads: Know how you’re always wishing you had more time to read? Well, guess what — you have all the time in the world right now! Catch up on must reads from the past year, or tackle something you’ve always meant to read but — ahem — haven’t had time to.

Get crafting! What better time to attempt that DIY project you’ve been wanting to try, than a day you’re stuck indoors? One tip: keep your projects easy and fun, and make sure you have all the supplies you need ahead of time. A snow day is not the time to get in over your head on a difficult project!

Stage an indoor scavenger hunt: If there are kiddos in your housebound group, send them on a mission to keep them occupied. Give them a list of unusual household things to find, and set a time limit to make things more interesting.

Break a Sweat: if board games are making everyone sluggish, get everyone up and moving with something that’s more active. Games like Charades or Win, Lose, or Draw can break both the silence and monotony of being snowed in your home.

Do some baking: make some of your favorite baked goods. It will not only take up some time, but it will make the house smell great. The other perk is that you get to eat it afterwards

 

 

 

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The Heritage Conservancy and Barns of Bucks County Tour

conservancy2The Heritage Conservancy is based in Bucks County, PA, and is committed to being the region’s premier, nationally accredited conservator. They are a community based organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of significant open spaces, natural resources, and our historic heritage. A champion of conservation best practices, Heritage Conservancy believes that everyone is responsible for stewardship and seeks to enlighten, engage, and empower others to help achieve this mutual vision.
Their national accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission affirms the organization’s commitment to excellence, trust, and permanence. The Heritage Conservancy is a proud member of Pennsylvania Land Trust Association(PALTA).conservancy1

The Barns of Bucks County is a self – guided tour event that the Heritage Conservancy host. In Bucks County’s history and heritage there are some incredible barns. Many of them stood witness to the American Revolution and the founding of this country. Whether these barns are still used on working farms or reused as houses or offices, they remain relevant guardians of our history.

You can learn more about these “castles in the field” and about the Conservancy’s self-guided driving barn tours of Bucks County from the expert, Heritage Conservancy President, Jeffrey L. Marshall. You can register with Tammy at 215-345-7020 ext. 107. The cost is free for Conservancy members and $10.00 for non-members.

*Courtesy of Heritage Conservancy

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How to Tell If You’re Ready for Home Ownership

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Are you ready to make that leap from living at home or renting to owning a home of your own? While everyone moves at their own pace, here are some signs that you can use to determine if it is time to own your own home. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you can use to justify your decision.

Are You Sticking Around?
If you plan on moving soon for a job or think that you won’t be in town much longer, it may be better to rent. However, if you are thinking about living in the same town or within the same county for years to come, it is time to put down roots. The stability that comes with home ownership may make you more prepared for a marriage and/or a family if that is something that you want. This stability may make you more attractive if you are single and searching for a long-term relationship.

Do You Have a Steady Job?
Those who have a steady job and know that they have a stable salary may want to make the move to home ownership. As long as there aren’t any other major debts eating into your income, you can probably handle a mortgage and other costs associated with home ownership. The equity that you build in your home can help you build wealth for the future if and when you want to retire. Your home may also make a great rental property in the future, which can help you diversify your portfolio and ownership2keep you solvent for years to come.

Watching Television Shows Related to Home Ownership
You may have caught yourself recently watching shows revolving around people or couples who are looking for homes. You may also be watching programs dedicated to giving tips as to how you can upgrade your home. If you watch these shows frequently, it may be a sign that you are ready to move out on your own and take on the exciting challenge of being a homeowner.

Are you ready to be a homeowner in the near future? Only you can say for sure if it is time to make that leap. However, those who are looking for a long-term housing solution may be ready to make that move. For more information, it may be worthwhile to talk to a real estate agent today.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages, or advice about buying a home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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What to Expect at a Mortgage Loan Closing

closingSo you’ve found the perfect home, the seller has accepted your offer, and now you’re just waiting for the mortgage to close before you wrap up the sale and take possession of your new home. It’s time for the closing, and you may be wondering what to expect. Here’s what you need to know

The Day Before: Walking Through the Property
The day before your closing, you’ll be given an opportunity to walk through the property and do a final inspection. During this inspection, you’ll be able to look for any damage that may have occurred between contract and closing, which means you can negotiate repairs with the seller.

It’s generally a good idea to schedule your closing date around the 20th of the month, so that if you do find any problems during the walkthrough, you can address them before you take possession.

The Mortgage Closing: Title Insurance, Contracts, And More
closing1Typically, the mortgage closing and the home sale closing happen at the same time. During your closing meeting, you’ll need to sign, and bring a variety of documents in order to take possession of the home. You’ll want to ensure that you bring your good faith estimate, proof of homeowners’ insurance, contract, and inspection reports to this meeting.

You’ll also want to bring any and all documents that you sent to your bank as part of the home buying process. At this meeting, you’ll discuss the sale with the seller, the seller’s agent, the representative from the title company, the closing agent, the lender, and any attorneys that may be present. By the end of the meeting, you’ll receive a variety of documents, including a deed of trust or mortgage contract and a settlement statement.

You may also be required to sign a mortgage note, which is a note that states you intend to repay the mortgage loan. This note details the terms of your mortgage, including the amount of the loan and what action the lender is entitled to take if you miss payments.

A mortgage loan closing doesn’t have to be complicated. Although there’s a lot that will happen at a closing and there are a number of documents you’ll need to bring. A qualified mortgage advisor can guide you through the closing process. Contact your local mortgage professional today for a list of what you’ll need to bring and what you can expect to happen at your closing.

If you have any questions regarding mortgage process, or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.
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2015 NEW YEAR’S EVE DINING IN BUCKS COUNTY

As 2015 comes to a close, it will be out with the old and in with the new. Before you start your New Year’s resolutions, finish this year with a great celebratory meal and kick start 2016 with a full belly, courtesy of Bucks County’s premier restaurants and dining hot spots.

To celebrate the New Year in Bucks County with a bang, check out these eventsdinner1

• Imagine a winter wonderland with spectacular views of the Delaware, a special menu and a cozy spot aside fire pits overlooking the river. End the year right at the Black Bass Hotel with a delicious four-course meal on New Year’s Eve. Try their signature Lobster Bisque with Crème Fraiche or go big with Lobster Stuffed Filet Mignon! Then, celebrate the new year with a three-course Champagne Brunch with delicate crepes and hearty breakfast platters.

• The Brick Tavern Inn is offering a special menu for their New Year’s Eve dinner. Listen to a variety of music, played by Lou Pompilio on guitar, as you nosh on tasty starters and entrées such as Escargot or Veal Oscar.

• Get ready for your New Year’s Eve celebrations with an exclusive four-course prix-fixe menu at Caleb’s American Kitchen! Choose from tasty dishes and desserts like Grilled Tofu or Flourless Chocolate Cake. Bring your own wine and champagne to toast 2016!dinner2

• The Washington House wants you to finish 2015 in style with their special five-course New Year’s Eve Champagne Dinner. Choose from a selection of dishes and scrumptious desserts before you cheer the new year with a glass of champagne!

• Make your New Year’s resolution to experience it at Rat’s Restaurant. Dine a la carte or indulge in a special five-course tasting menu paired with wine and champagne. Welcome the new year with a dance party and don’t forget about their New Year’s Day Brunch with salads, smoked fish, charcuterie, seafood, hot breakfast and lunch items and carving and omelet stations.

• Join Genevieve’s Kitchen this New Year’s Eve! Dine on a delectable prix fixe feast dinner menu that includes Cornish Game Hen, Fazzoletti pasta and Cannoli for dessert!

•  Enjoy an experience to savor on New Year’s Eve with the multi-course prix fixe Holiday Celebrations Tasting Menu at the Stockton Inn! Taste delicious choices like the Poached Oyster and Braised Pork Belly.

*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com
*Please check individual restaurants for pricing, hours and reservations.
*Photo courtesy of the Black Bass Hotel
*Photo courtesy of Brick Tavern Inn 

 

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How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement

disclosureWhen you close on a home purchase, you can expect to receive a great deal of paperwork. If you applied for your mortgage before October 3, 2015, one important document you’ll be given is the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure. This disclosure form plainly lays out your upfront and long-term mortgage costs, making it easy to see what you’ll need to pay and when.

However, these disclosure documents aren’t always easy to read. Here’s what you need to know about your Truth-In-Lending Disclosure and the various terms contained inside it.

Finance Charges
The finance charges are the total dollar amount you’ll expect to pay over the course of the mortgage in the form of interest, insurance premiums, and prepaid charges. Several of the fees you’ll need to pay may not be included in your finance charges. This figure will be based on the assumption that your mortgage loan continues through to the end of its term without any prepayments, refinances, or additional payments.

Annual Percentage Rate
The annual percentage rate resembles an interest rate, but in fact, it’s higher. The APR is calculated based on a combination of the interest you’ll pay over the life of the mortgage as well as prepaid finance charges in order to give you a good idea of what it will actually cost per year to carry the loan.

The APR includes the loan origination fee, the discount fee, points, tax service fees, the mortgage broker fee, the assumption fee, mortgage insurance premiums, closing fees, and more.

Special Features
Your Truth-in-Lending disclosure statement will also include certain special terms and features specific to your loan that you’ll want to watch for. If you applied for a variable rate mortgage, the disclosure will state that your interest rate can change and affect the APR. It will also discuss the final balloon payment, if your loan requires one.

Your TILA statement will also tell you if your mortgage has a demand feature – a clause that can require you to pay the balance of the mortgage early if you violate the terms.

The Truth-in-Lending disclosure statement is a critical document that plainly outlines the terms of your mortgage, making it a document you’ll want to refer to if inconsistencies arise. By knowing how to read a TILA statement, you’ll be able to fully understand your mortgage terms and determine whether any key terms have changed between mortgage initiation and closing.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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New Year’s Celebrations in Bucks County

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to celebrate the end of 2015 and kick off 2016 in Bucks County. It doesn’t matter what you like to do, there is a place to start the New Year off in the Pennsylvania country side. Whether you would like to dance the night away, solve a mystery, or watch a dazzling fireworks display there is something for everyone. Some fun New Year’s events for the kids are also included.new years1

• Celebrate the New Year with Dr. K’s Motown Revue at the Sellersville on New Year’s Eve. This band is the ultimate tribute faithfully recreating a powerhouse performance that’ll keep you dancing to the Motown beat!

• A “Dicken’s of a Murder Mystery Dinner” at Fisher’s Tudor House is sure to keep you guessing who is behind the latest murder performed by Without A Cue Productions as you dine on a tasty dinner on New Year’s Eve.

• Ring in your new year with glitz and glamour during the Glitter & Gold New Year’s Eve Party in the 360 Nightclub at Parx Casino! Get ready to raise your glass to 2016 like an A-list celebrity while you sparkle and shine on the one-of-a-kind LED-lit glass dance floor that pulsates to the beat of the hottest local talent!

• Join McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn for a New Year’s Eve Party! Countdown to 2016 with a buffet, cash bar and 50s musical entertainment.

• Spring Mill Manor’s annual New Years Eve Party includes dancing, dinner and a champagne toast at midnight. Grab your friends and reserve a table today!new years2

• Eat, drink, party and stay at the Logan Inn this New Year’s Eve! The VIP package includes a four-course dinner and accommodations for two with chilled champagne and a party with dancing.

• Book your stay for the New Year’s Eve Party at the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia Bucks County, the perfect place for a night full of celebration! Overnight accommodations, dinner buffet, premium open bar, entertainment, breakfast and more are included in this special party package.

• Have a blast at The Raven in New Hope on New Year’s Eve. Start with a four-course dinner and move on to an exciting dance party to ring in 2016!

• Ring in 2016 with Doug Church- The True Voice of Elvis at the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel. Enjoy
hors d’oeuvres light, a buffet dinner, open bar, champagne toast and balloon drop!

FOR THE KIDS

• C is for Celebrate at Sesame Place® and there’s no better way to celebrate the New Year than spending time with family. Bring the little ones out to watch the illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Night Parade and watch an exciting fireworks display immediately afterwards.

• Start the new year with a splash at Adventure Aquarium! It’s the perfect way to begin 2016 with family, friends and fish. Visit your favorite animals during twilight tours, dare to walk through the Shark Tunnel and end with fireworks over the Delaware River.

*Please check individual venues for pricing, hours and reservations.

 

*Photo courtesy of Sellersville Theater
*Photo courtesy of PARX Casino
*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com

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