RE/MAX 440
Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

My Blog

How to Win a Competitive Bid for Your Next House

June 4, 2014 6:18 am

With housing prices continuing to increase due to a low housing inventory, the market is proving to be competitive as buyers attempt to secure their dream home. According to Don Frommeyer, CRMS, President of NAMB (The National Association of Mortgage Professionals), there are several techniques potential buyers can utilize to make sure their offer sticks in the midst of a bidding war.

“Many people think the real estate market is easy for buyers, but in reality, it’s still quite vigorous and with fewer houses on the market, buyers must set themselves apart with competitive bids,” says Frommeyer.

Below are the techniques Frommeyer suggests considering to maintain a competitive bid:

- Escalation Clauses: An escalation clause offers $1,000 above the highest bid and automatically kicks in when other offers are present. Buyers can set a cap on their escalation clause to ensure their bid doesn’t unknowingly go above what they’re comfortable with. This technique allows the seller to know the bid is serious, while also offering buyer protection by safeguarding a realistic offer from the potential buyer instead of a random counteroffer.

- Cash Offers: CoreLogic reported that all-cash offers have grown to almost 40 percent nationwide. Having a cash offer with proof of the funds is extremely valuable in a competitive housing market as it typically involves fewer obstacles making it more likely to close. However, all-cash offers do not mean no financing is required—buyers may be using alternate forms of financing that count as cash by leveraging assets.

- Quick Closing: Have all financials in place before placing an offer. A pre-approved loan and regular contact with a lender can show the buyer how serious the bidder is.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Creating Inviting Outdoor Spaces for Entertaining

June 3, 2014 6:06 am

(BPT) - From barbecues and games of bocce to parties and candlelit dinners, your outdoor space can be a hub for entertaining friends and family.

"Try to create a living room for your outdoor space," says Kate Anthony, owner of Kate & Company Design Studio and Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California - San Diego, a campus of Argosy University. People spend a lot of time on their indoor living room spaces, and she recommends extending the interior home out to your exterior.

Whether you have a small patio or sprawling backyard, interior design experts from The Art Institutes system of schools provide six simple tips for making the great outdoors a great place to eat, play and entertain.

1. Focal points
Edward Varias, owner of E.V. Design and Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California - Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University, says a focal point brings everyone together, and can include furniture, a fountain, a fireplace, or any piece that will provide a "wow" factor. An outdoor rug can serve as a focal point and help define an area, and a fire pit makes a great place for guests to gather.

2. Seating groups
"Define the space for the type of entertaining you need," says Varias. Determine the size of your space, the number of people you will typically be entertaining and whether you will use the space for eating, drinking and socializing, or playing games. In a larger space, you can mix dining, hanging out and garden spaces to provide your guests with more areas to enjoy.

For a small space, seating can be a simple bistro table and two chairs. For larger spaces, you can incorporate sofa and chair groupings, along with a small coffee table. Anthony adds that a circular furniture pattern allows everyone to see each other, which is great when playing cards.

3. Vistas
"Select several vistas or view points for people to explore depending on the space; utilizing the space in several locations creates gathering areas, such as a garden to explore or seclusion for meditating," says Varias. Anthony encourages people to think about creating areas for games such as bocce and says that seating or rugs can help establish designated areas without fences or barriers.

In creating vistas, you can use a combination of natural and manmade elements. This can include creating garden areas with rocks and fountains and adding little surprises such as statuettes, pagoda lanterns and seating for two, says Varias.

4. Landscaping
The first step in landscaping is cleaning up the space and trimming bushes, trees and overgrown plants to create a fresh palette. Anthony recommends hiring a professional landscaper as they will be able to tell you what plants are appropriate for your climate. If a landscaper isn't in your budget, Varias encourages you to take advantage of the people at your local home and garden stores. They will be able to make recommendations based on your climate and the look you are trying to achieve.

Plants can help add color, style and definition to your space, and Anthony says not all plants need to be in the ground. "You can create great little vignettes throughout the yard by using varying sizes of planters." Potted plants can also be brought in during the winter to keep them looking great year after year.

5. Lighting
Lighting can set the tone for any type of nighttime event. Varias recommends providing ample lighting for your focal points and providing a mix of electric lighting and ambient lighting such as candles and candelabras. Other easy DIY lighting includes strings of lights, which can be used year-round and simple solar lights.

6. Accessories
Anthony recommends bold accessories for outdoor spaces. Your starting palette will be very neutral, with a lot of greens and browns, and you can add pops of color with pillow cases or colored plants. Storage is another area to consider. You won't want your hose and garden tools lying around the yard, so a storage bench or shelving can keep everything nicely organized.

The tips above can be adapted for spaces of varying sizes and can range from simple DIY to high-end customized projects.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Prepare for Hurricane Season with Expert Tips

June 3, 2014 6:06 am

Over the last 10 years, hurricanes have caused more than $300 billion in damage to homes and businesses, affecting tens of millions of Americans.

"While it's impossible to prevent a hurricane, there's a lot homeowners can do to prepare for the damage they can cause and to help minimize disruption and loss," says Peter Duncanson, director of disaster restoration training for ServiceMaster Restore. "From developing an evacuation plan to making small investments around the home, homeowners can take simple steps to make sure they're prepared in the event a hurricane hits their area."

Below are tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore on how to prepare for a hurricane:

Communication is Key – During a hurricane, power and cell phone tower outages are common, literally breaking down lines of communication. One of the best and easiest steps to help prepare for the worst is to communicate your evacuation plan in advance to friends, family and loved ones.

Secure the Basic Necessities – When preparing for something that could likely uproot you and your family from your home – or leave you without the option of going to the store – be sure to have at least one week's worth of the basics: water, non-perishable food, medicine and clothing.

Protect Your Investment – If you have to evacuate your home, make sure to protect what's left behind, including insurance and financial documents. Make a list of your possessions and take pictures of everything inside and outside your home. Keep copies of important financial documents and insurance policies with you, so you have a record if you need it.

If a Hurricane Strikes – Never underestimate the power or strength of a hurricane and make sure you're prepared to the best of your ability. If you have to evacuate, do it. If you need help during the cleanup process, call a professional who has the experience, resources and expertise to work with you and your insurance company to help restore your home to normal.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Hiring a Fire Damage Firm

June 3, 2014 6:06 am

Fire is probably one of the worst disasters that can happen to a homeowner or business owner in our modern time. We tend to surround ourselves with a variety of items that might cause a fire to occur, whether it be a faulty electrical outlet or a faulty kitchen stove. However, when a fire occurs, the after effects can affect the home for long periods of time. When looking for a professional fire damage company there are some key factors that you need to observe and take note of.

One of the first things that a professional fire restoration firm looks at is what can or cannot be salvaged. Certain items can be salvaged and reused if you as a customer choose to have them restored to their original condition. Also, these experts have the required and necessary training needed to ensure that the residue left over from the fire is removed properly along with the deodorization of the materials that were smoked damaged. This plan of action needs to be taken quickly in order to prevent even more damage to your possessions.

Begin the fire damage restoration as soon as possible. The main reason is that there is a cost issue in the restoration of fire damaged goods. This price can go dramatically up. One of the key reasons for this is the time it takes to remove all of the ash and smoke residue from the items increases dramatically in a period of only a few weeks. Also, there are acidic effects that fire damage causes which can result in the destruction of metals and carpeting in a home, and this will more than likely bring about higher replacement costs. Examples of this may include the discoloration of plastic materials, the wearing down of metals, and the distortion of wall colors.

Fire damage restoration firms should be IICRC certified. This will signify that they have the professional capabilities to handle the intricacies of fire damage. Fire damage may appear to be a simple job, but in actuality there are a number of details that need to be looked over in order to prevent the issues from spiraling out of control. Ask fire damage questions in order to help you understand the factors that play into the situation. If you have the unfortunate chance of having a fire occur, always choose a qualified fire restoration firm.

Source: SI Restoration

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Five Simple Tips to Enhance Your Home's Personality

June 2, 2014 5:54 am

(Family Features) Your home can say a lot about you. A state-of-the-art kitchen outfitted with a double oven likely means you enjoy cooking and entertaining friends and family. Likewise, a backyard complete with play sets, a treehouse or a basketball hoop is a sure sign your house is also a hangout for the neighborhood kids.

“My house is more than just a haven for my family. It’s a real life scrapbook, art gallery and personal sanctuary,” said Michelle Hinkley, mom to three young boys and the lady behind the home and lifestyle blog “As much as I want it to be functional, I enjoy spending a little extra time finding ways to keep our home uniquely us.”

If you’re thinking about ways to add some personality to your space, consider these five simple (and wallet-friendly) improvements:

1. Paint your front door.
First impressions start at the front door. Consider your home’s exterior and outdoor surroundings as you’re selecting a new hue, but when narrowing down your paint palette, also focus on the tints that best reflect your family’s vibe.

A bright green door is both welcoming and fun, while a shiny black finish adds glamour. Even a crisp, white hue can be anything but boring, offering a clean backdrop for potted plants and accessories that change with each season.

2. Replace a fixture.

If cooking is integral to your personality, consider updating one of your kitchen’s most frequently used appliances: the faucet. Today’s kitchen faucets come equipped with a variety of features and make for a relatively simple DIY project.

3. Install new hardware
Small details can make a big impact. Customize furniture, closets or built-ins with stylish drawer pulls. Styles range from the whimsical, hand-painted options available at craft fairs to more substantive handles and pulls available at your local hardware store. Take your time selecting pieces you love for a look that’s both unique and functional.

4. Start a collection
Showcase your personality by decorating your space with small items or collectables. A collection of sea glass bottles or vases, for instance, could pay tribute to a favorite vacation spot, while ceramic animals in bright colors show off your quirky and creative side. To create a cohesive focal point, focus on collecting items similar in colors, materials or textures.

5. Build or craft something
If you’re really daring, try creating some inexpensive home decor for your space. Sites like are great resources for compiling inspiration; many blogs also offer step-by-step guides for a variety of projects for the home. Whether you’re creating a one-of-a-kind piece of art or building a coffee table from scratch, your next project could be a fun opportunity to help truly customize your home.

For more great tips, visit

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Online Shopping and Mail Order Businesses Jump 27 Percent

May 30, 2014 5:18 am

Electronic shopping is showing rapid growth compared to the rest of the retail trade sector, with the number of establishments growing 27.4 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics released. Drawn from County Business Patterns: 2012, the new data provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses establishments grew from 23,697 to 30,185 between 2011 and 2012. Employment climbed 13.7 percent to 365,508. In contrast, for the retail trade sector as a whole, which includes traditional "brick and mortar" stores, the number of establishments rose just 0.1 percent, while employment climbed 0.7 percent.

"Unlike traditional stores, which are located throughout the country, online shopping establishments and jobs are in concentrated areas," said William Bostic Jr., the Census Bureau's associate director for economic programs.

Census Explorer: Retail Edition, the latest version of the Census Bureau's interactive map, gives users easier access to neighborhood statistics and shows the geographic concentration of electronic shopping and mail-order houses.

Reversing a four-year decline, the data show that the total number of U.S. businesses with paid employees grew by more than 77,000 establishments to 7.4 million in 2012, an increase of 1.1 percent from 2011.

The greatest employment increases in electronic shopping and mail-order houses were concentrated in counties within Southern California, the New York metro area, Chicago metro area, and other metro areas such as Memphis, Tenn. (Shelby County), Las Vegas (Clark County), Grand Rapids, Mich. (Kent County), Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) and Minneapolis (Hennepin County). In addition, two counties in North Carolina (Guilford and Wake, home of Greensboro and Raleigh, respectively) and one in Missouri (Clay, near Kansas City) also had large gains in employment for this industry.

Other geographic highlights:
• Combined, California, Texas and Florida accounted for more than half of the establishments added between 2011 and 2012. In contrast, these three states accounted for one-quarter of all establishments in 2012.
• The number of paid employees in the U.S. rose by 2.2 percent between 2011 and 2012; this represented an increase of more than 2.5 million employees. Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio led all states in number of employees added.
• The number of paid employees in Puerto Rico rose to 690,597 in 2012, an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year. Annual payroll totaled $16.9 billion in 2012, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Industry sector highlights
• Retail trade had the highest total number of establishments of any sector in 2012 (1.1 million), while health care and social assistance added the largest number of establishments over the year, at 15,157. Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services added more than 476,000 employees in 2012 to lead all sectors, an increase of 5.1 percent.
• Nationally, the manufacturing sector added 1,578 establishments (an increase of 0.5 percent) and nearly 208,000 employees (an increase of 1.9 percent).
• Annual payrolls nationally grew in all industry sectors; the overall increase was 4.8 percent to $5.4 trillion.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Published with permission from RISMedia.


PMI Impacting Majority of Homebuyers' Purchasing Decisions

May 30, 2014 5:18 am

Research recently released by TD Bank revealed that 37 percent of those who purchased a home in the past 10 years – and 43 percent of those who did so within the last two years – required mortgage insurance (MI). Of those who required PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance), 65 percent said that the addition of a mortgage insurance premium left them paying a higher monthly mortgage payment than they originally expected.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 Americans who have purchased a home in the past 10 years. The findings indicate the growing impact PMI has on mortgage payments, which is often required when homebuyers are unable to make a 20 percent down payment to purchase a home. With average PMI costing approximately $100 per month, mortgage insurance can become a significant expense for many borrowers before they reach 20 percent equity in their property. Further, FHA loans now require MI for the life of the loan which considerably increases the total cost of homeownership for borrowers who cannot make a 20 percent down payment.

“PMI has had a definitive impact on many homebuyers – including making them rethink or delay the purchase of a home in light of not being able to meet monthly mortgage payments,” said Michael Copley, executive vice president, Retail Lending, TD Bank. “While FHA loans may be available, homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, may not realize the options available to them that don't require PMI insurance.”

Other findings include:

• 27 percent of those who purchased a home within the last 10 years felt that PMI costs impacted the home they purchased. For those who purchased a home in the last two years, that number increased to 35 percent.
• 53 percent of respondents reported experiencing a negative impact because of the additional cost of PMI. Over four in ten of those requiring PMI reported having to cut back on small and daily purchases and/or larger household purchases.

Generations are Feeling the Pinch

The survey also found that 43 percent of Millennials (ages 18-34) did not make a 20 percent down payment and required mortgage insurance, as compared to 37 percent of Gen X-ers (ages 35-54) and 23 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 55 and older).

• Regardless of age, respondents felt that the impact of PMI left them paying more than expected – 60 percent of Millennials, 60 percent of Gen X-ers and 58 percent of Baby Boomers.
• Compared to Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, Millennials requiring PMI felt most impacted in home purchasing decisions, such as delaying the purchase of a home or purchasing a smaller home (30 percent vs. 18 percent for Gen X-ers and 14 percent for Baby Boomers).
• 46 percent of Millennials responded that they’ve had to cut back on small/daily purchases and/ r cut back or delay larger household purchases due to the additional cost of PMI, while 38 percent of Gen X-ers and only 26 percent of Baby Boomers experienced similar cut backs when requiring PMI.

Prospective buyers should meet with a lender or financial institution to find a loan solution that meets their needs and monthly budget. Homeownership is always attainable with the right financial planning.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Avoid Deck Collapse

May 28, 2014 4:54 am

Mike McGinnis, the owner of North Texas Fence and Deck wants to remind you that May is "Deck Safety Month". He notes that hardly a week passes that the news doesn't report on another tragic accident involving the collapse of a deck. Most deck collapses can be prevented with proper inspection and maintenance. When was the last time your deck was inspected? If you are building a new deck, avoid cutting corners. Hire a professional that is licensed and insured for projects of this nature.

Decks are enjoyed daily during the warm months. You don't want to make headlines with your family being injured, so inspect the bottom side of yours today. If you don't know what to look for, hire a professional deck builder to perform the inspection.

Decks collapse for several reasons. In some cases, builders have cut corners when building the deck, but in almost all cases, improper maintenance played a key role in the deck's failure and the subsequent injuries. McGinnis reminds homeowners and homeowner associations that decks are not made to last a lifetime with little or no maintenance. Decks are usually constructed of wood and even though the materials are pressure-treated, decks have a finite life cycle. Of course proper maintenance can extend its life.

When do homeowners need to replace a deck? Like anything else, the answer to that question depends on the type and frequency of preventive maintenance. But a good rule of thumb would be that if your home is more than 10 years old and you have not regularly inspected and maintained the deck, now would be a good time to get a free estimate on replacing it. Upgrading your deck can add a lot of enjoyment and value to your home.

Source: North Texas Fence and Deck

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Selling This Summer? 6 Upgrades to Secure a Speedy Sale

May 27, 2014 4:42 am

(BPT) - When the weather warms up, so does the real estate market. Spring and summer are traditionally the seasons when both homebuyers and sellers are most active across the country. If you'll be putting your home on the market this year, simple, cost-effective upgrades can help ensure a speedy sale at a good price.

"In the world of real estate, it's often necessary for sellers to spend a little on upgrades in order to achieve a satisfying home sale," says Bethany Richmond, communications director for the Carpet & Rug Institute. "Fortunately, some of the most impressive upgrades, such as new carpeting, are also affordable. Such upgrades ensure that you don't have to spend a lot to achieve a better selling price."

Here are six easy-to-do upgrades that are both cost-effective and high-impact:

1. Replace carpet
It's easy to see the impact of worn or dated carpeting. "If you don't like looking at it, buyers won't either," Richmond says. "Replacing old or damaged carpet delivers impressive appeal for a modest investment."

New carpet is one upgrade that has a high ratio of value to cost. It substantially increases perceived value for homebuyers without requiring home sellers to spend a bundle. "Even less expensive carpet styles will freshen the look of a room and prepare it for sale," Richmond notes. "You can get a lot more quality for just a little more money, she says, "and if you take advantage of spring carpet sales, installing new carpeting can cost even less."

2. Clean flooring
If your carpet is still in great shape, then simply having it professionally cleaned can make it look even better. A deep professional cleaning helps lift tough soils and provides a cleaner, fresher look to rooms. You can find an expert in your area by visiting CRI experts can even provide insight into how to remove difficult stains.

Not only is carpet a good value, it's healthy, too. People with allergies or other sensitivities are installing carpet to improve indoor air quality. Recent studies support previous findings that carpet, when effectively cleaned, traps allergens and other particles, resulting in less dust, dander and airborne contaminants escaping into the air. Don't forget to clean all other flooring, including hardwood, laminates and tile. Buyers will appreciate a sparkling clean appearance throughout the house.

3. Repaint in neutral shades
Fresh paint is another smart and cost-effective upgrade for sellers. Buyers expect it, yet many sellers hesitate to repaint. Perhaps they like the existing colors or balk at the cost of professional painting services. Yet repainting in neutral colors makes a room look fresher and brighter, and gives buyers a visual "blank slate" against which to imagine their own decor. Do the work yourself and you can reduce the cost of repainting even further.

4. Update or upgrade lighting
You may find that disco-ball style globe light charming in your kitchen, but the average buyer doesn't want dated or unusual lighting. Replacing dated or worn fixtures, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, is a cost-effective way to give a room a more up-to-date, contemporary look. If you already have newer fixtures, consider replacing incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency options such as CFLs or LEDs. Although they're a bit more expensive to purchase, these bulbs last years longer - a selling point for buyers who will reap the value of not having to replace bulbs any time in the near future.

5. Install new faucets
A high-end faucet can completely change the look and usability of a kitchen or bathroom. In terms of cost versus value, an upgraded faucet, such as pull-out or even touch-free styles, can dramatically increase perceived value for a relatively modest investment. An upgraded faucet is a thoughtful touch that will set your home apart in buyers' minds.

6. Replace hardware throughout the home
You may have already thought of upgrading kitchen cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, but have you also upgraded hardware in your bathroom or on the front door? These seemingly small items have a major impact on the overall visual effect of a home. In desirable rooms such as kitchens and baths, designer hardware can elevate the entire look of the room. And upgraded door hardware will ensure buyers have a positive first impression from the moment they enter your home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Question Your Way to Investing Success: 14 Things to Ask a Potential Financial Advisor

May 27, 2014 4:42 am

Negotiating is always a give and take. That means not just listening to what a financial advisor has to say but also holding up your end of the exchange. Before you sign any agreement, you’ll want to find out what your prospective financial advisor is like as a person. You’ll want to find out about their business and their industry. You’ll also want to think hard about their true interests and whether those align well with your own.

All of this means asking questions…and lots of them! Get the advisor talking. Seek clarification. Show interest in what they have to say and ask them to tell you more. Below is a basic list of questions to get you started, along with more intensive questions to explore areas that should heavily influence how (or if) you enter into a professional relationship with a financial advisor.

The Basics
• What credentials have you earned? What did you study in college? What college degrees did you earn? From which colleges?
• How are you regulated? What role do you personally play in complying with all regulatory requirements?
• Will you give me two or three investment statements for your current clients (with their names and identifiers redacted, of course) so I can see how you actually invest?
• Do you have a fiduciary duty to me? Explain what that means to you. Are you willing to put that in writing?
• Do you think that, with hard work and careful study, a smart investment manager can pick stocks that will consistently beat the appropriate market averages? Why or why not?

Get Intensive
• Would you be willing to tell me all the ways you and your firm make money? If not, then why not?
• How do you deal with the problem that your interests and mine are sometimes in conflict?
• Does your firm receive any fees or “soft money” from anyone other than its clients?
• Do you consider yourself a “professional”? What does that mean to you?
• What percentage of your work is spent serving your current clients? How much is spent looking for new clients?
• When called upon to suggest an investment, describe to me your process for deciding what to recommend.
• What are reasons I should trust you?
• What are reasons I should hesitate to trust you? (And how do you work to minimize those reasons?)
• What differentiates you from your competitors?

Published with permission from RISMedia.