Blog Archive for December, 2016

Post-holiday home touch-ups

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 29, 2016

The party’s over. Friends and family members have gone home. You’re taking down the holiday decorations, with far less enthusiasm than when you festooned your home with the sparkle, glitter, ribbons, bows, and scents that put you in the holiday spirit.

Now you’re seeing the fresh scars on the wood furniture, stains on the rugs and upholstery, nicks on the walls, and who put thumbtacks in the mantle?

Don’t assume the “bah, humbug” mode. These nagging little issues are simply an opportunity to start the new year fresh with some post-holiday home touch-ups.

  • Steam-clean your carpets, rugs, and upholstery. You’ve got a lot of indoor living to do in the months ahead. The fresh smell and revived look will perk up your spirits.
  • If you don’t want to patch and repaint the nail holes and nicks in your walls, apply wall decals. You can find anything from an inspiring quote to a panoramic image.
  • A minor furniture scratch can often be rubbed out with a 50-50 mixture of lemon juice and vegetable oil. Click here for other furniture repair tips.
  • Don’t wait for spring cleaning. While you’re moving your furniture back from its holiday location, dust and vacuum those spots that are usually hidden.
  • You probably spent a lot of time in your kitchen over the holidays. Did you experience frustration with clutter or disorganization? Now is a great time to reorganize this vital space. Clean out your cabinets and determine a more convenient way to store those small appliances that you suddenly discovered have more value than you realized (e.g., the immersion blender you never took out of the box). Discard old herbs and spices, replace them, and create a better system for keeping stock so you don’t run out of ginger just when you’re ready to make gingerbread cookies with the kids.
  • Before you stash all your holiday decorations back where they live for 11 months of the year, do a quick inventory. Are there any you don’t want to keep? If so, purge now and lighten your load.

It’s a new year. Start with a clean slate, a clean house, and a fresh perspective!

Don’t Wait! These Popular Closeout Communities Are Selling Fast!

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 23, 2016


Two of Tuskes Homes’ best-selling communities in Northampton County are selling out fast! Maple Shade, recently named winner of the Community of the Year award for a development over 50 units by the Lehigh Valley Builders Association, has only seven home sites remaining. Eagles Landing, a closeout community located in Nazareth Area School District, has less than ten home sites remaining. Both communities have move-in ready homes available now!



Maple Shade, which runs through both Bethlehem and Palmer Townships, has been a popular location with families and residents due to its convenient access to roadways, ample nearby golf and recreational opportunities, and beautiful floorplans and amenities. Maple Shade is also located just five minutes from Northampton Community College, and ten minutes from cultural Downtown Easton. This community starts in the high-$300s, and has just a few single-family home sites remaining.





Eagles Landing, located in the Upper Nazareth area near Routes 248 and 946, is a neighborhood of single-family homes starting in the low-$300s. Now in its final phase of development, this community boasts a 34-acre community park complete with walking trails, a picnic pavilion, athletic fields, volleyball court, playground, and plenty of room for families to enjoy quality time together outside. Nestled in the Historic Nazareth area, this community resides in the highly acclaimed Nazareth Area School District. Home to Martin Guitar, Nazareth is known for its accessibility to major commuting routes, top-rated schools, and shopping, cultural, and recreational opportunities.



These amazing communities are sure to sell out fast, so don’t wait to schedule an appointment! For more information regarding the remaining home sites available in these closeout neighborhoods, or for other questions about Tuskes Homes, please contact Martha Clifford at 484-626-1616.

Don’t hibernate. Sell your home in the winter.

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 22, 2016

You’ve probably heard that once the cold weather comes, you should just sit and wait to list your home.

What bad advice!

Buying and selling a new home in the winter presents a different set of challenges, as well as benefits. Simply waiting for the weather to change may not be to your advantage.

Before you decide to hibernate—and postpone your own chance to move to the home you’ve been dreaming of—make a plan to sell your home in the winter.

Why winter is actually a good selling season.

  • Buyers buy faster. Research studies have shown that houses listed in the winter (December-March) sell faster. On average, they’re on the market about a week less than those listed in the spring and summer.
  • Winter buyers are often more serious. They’re making the move to buy a house because of need. They’re changing jobs or being relocated (which often happens in the first quarter). Their family is expanding, either with a baby on the way or an elderly family member in need of moving in with them. Whatever the reason, winter home shoppers are frequently pushed to make a quick decision and move.
  • Mortgage rates rise with the temperature. Historically, the interest rates for home loans increase in the spring, giving winter homebuyers an edge.
  • Inventory is leaner. Because so many people subscribe to the myth that homes don’t sell in the winter, you will have less competition. With fewer homes on the market—and motivated buyers—you’re more likely to have an edge in price negotiation.

How to dress to impress.

  • Add light. The days are shorter and the light isn’t as bright in the winter. Don’t let your prospective buyers tour a dim home. Add more light where you need it—lamps, recessed lighting, sconces. Walk through your home late in the afternoon to see where you need more light.
  • Show off the summer landscaping. Your buyers are possibly seeing your yard under a blanket of snow, or worse yet, with dead grass and shrubs. Leave open a photo album that showcases your outdoor spaces in the spring, summer, and fall.
  • Keep the heat on. If your home is vacant, be sure the temperature is warm enough to welcome potential buyers. When they’re too cold, they’ll take a hasty tour and make a quick exit. Invest in a smart thermostat that you can control from your mobile device, or use a timer.
  • Stage it for winter coziness. Add some wintry touches that help your buyers feel at home in this season. A soft throw over an ottoman, coffee cups and a plate of scones or cookies on your kitchen table, and seasonal décor on your mantle all add to successful staging.

Never underestimate the power of a buyer’s motivation, and don’t postpone your own desires to move into your new home as soon as you can. Winter can be the right time to find the right buyer.


Tuskes Homes Wins Community of the Year Award at the 26th Annual LVBA Awards Ceremony

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 16, 2016

Community of the Year Award

Tuskes Homes has been named Winner of the Community of the Year Award for a community over 50 homes by the Lehigh Valley Builders Association. Since 1950, the Lehigh Valley Builders Association (LVBA) has represented builders and professionals in the homebuilding industry in Lehigh and Northampton counties. As one of the largest trade associations in the area, the LVBA is the authority for homebuilding in the Lehigh Valley, serving the region through the mission of enhancing industry professionalism standards and promoting its members’ abilities to meet the needs of the community for quality, affordable housing.

At the 26th Annual LVBA Awards Ceremony last week, Tuskes Homes was honored with the Community of the Year Over 50 Homes award for the popular community Maple Shade Estates, which has single-family homes across Bethlehem and Palmer Townships. Nearing sell out, Maple Shade has been a popular choice among families and residents due to its convenient location to local roadways, nearby golf and recreational opportunities, and beautiful floorplans and amenities. Only eight home sites remain at the Maple Shade community, with home prices starting in the high-$300s.

The LVBA Awards Ceremony was held in the Grand Ballroom at Hotel Bethlehem on December 5th. Accepting the award for Tuskes Homes was Dana Fratantoro of the Tuskes family, accompanied by members of the Tuskes Homes team. For more information regarding the awards, or to learn more about the closeout Maple Shade community, please contact Martha Clifford at 484-626-1616.

Maple Shade Estates Model Maple Shade Estates Model

Prevent a Christmas tree fire.

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 15, 2016

Every year, about 210 home fires start with a Christmas tree, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. One-third of these fires results from an electrical problem, says the U.S. Fire Administration. That twinkling symbol of holiday joy could end up causing you tremendous loss, unless you follow steps to prevent a Christmas tree fire.

  • Choose a fresh tree that isn’t on the verge of drying out. Rub your hand along a branch. If the tree is fresh, the needles will stay where they are. If not, you’ll end up with a handful, indicating that tree is not going to last through the holidays.
  • Set up the tree at least three feet from any heat source that could spark a fire, such as a radiator, fireplace, vent, wall sconce, lamp, or candles.
  • Cut off about two inches from the bottom of the tree’s stump so that it will better absorb the water it needs to remain fresh.
  • Fill the tree stand with water every day. During the first few days, the tree will soak up a lot of water.
  • Use only UL-certified strings of lights (and extension cords, if needed). Make sure the cords are not frayed, cracked, or damaged. Check for loose connections or broken light sockets.
  • Avoid overloading your extension cord. Limit your use to three strings of lights per extension cord.
  • Don’t leave on the tree’s lights when you’re away from home or going to bed. Either turn them off or unplug them altogether.
  • After the holidays, remove all electrical lights before taking the tree outside. Don’t store a dry tree in your garage or basement. Place it outside, away from the house until you can recycle or otherwise safely dispose of it.

If you choose an artificial Christmas tree, choose one that is specifically identified as “flame retardant”. Check the lights to be sure they are UL-listed and the cords aren’t twisted.

Everyone in your home will enjoy the holidays even more when you put safety first.

The price of procrastination: Mortgage rates are rising

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 8, 2016


Homebuyers have been reaping rewards of a struggling economy since the recession. Housing prices and interest rates dropped to historic lows in 2009, and have not fully recovered in the years that followed.

Like all good things—if you’re a homebuyer, that is—the bargain is coming to an end.

At this writing, the rate for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage is 4.01%. Three months ago, it was 3.579%. On the plus side, the current rate matches where we were in January 2016. We had a dip this year, but it’s not expected to happen again.

When you compare these numbers with the significantly higher rates in the early 2000s (approximately 6.3%), does this small change make enough difference to push the procrastinators off the fence?

Let’s look at the price of procrastination as mortgage rates are rising.

Purchase price: $295,000

30-year FRM

At 3.6%           $1,341 per month

At 4.6%           $1,512 per month

Over the life of the loan, paying one percent more for your mortgage will cost you an additional $61,560.

Housing prices are rising. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index posted a 6% increase in the past twelve months.

Based on the above scenario, you’ll spend $171 every month because you decided to wait. Are you getting more value? No. In fact, while you’re waiting, the price of your new home is increasing, along with the mortgage rate. That home you could have bought for $295,000 is probably going to cost you about $312,000 in six months or so.

If you don’t mind spending more money for a home, you can continue to wait, but be prepared to tack on the price of procrastination to your budget.

Give a meaningful gift this holiday—without shopping.

Categories: Blog | Posted: December 1, 2016

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We’re now in the throes of the holiday shopping season. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, everyone is looking for the best deal on a great gift.

Why not skip the malls and avoid worrying whether the package arrives in time? Give a gift that has greater meaning and lasting value—without spending any time shopping for it.

Give cheer to someone who needs it.

Rather than swap gifts with someone, suggest you put that effort to better use. Get together and make the holidays special for someone who isn’t receiving the joy they deserve. Adopt a US Soldier and send a care package for someone who is serving overseas. Go to your local church to get the name of a family that might be looking at a bleak holiday without your help, or visit The Box Project to find a family in need. Help the food bank in your area by donating food items that will feed people in your community. Visit a nursing home to find out if any residents are without family this holiday. Then plan a visit and bring a gift—or spread the cheer a little wider and bring joy to a group of them, with holiday music, treats, and just the happiness that comes from giving a smile to a lonely person.

Make a charitable donation in someone’s honor.

For the person on your list who is an ardent supporter of a cause or charity, make a donation in their name. Help a local animal rescue group or homeless shelter. Give to the charity that supports medical research in a disease they care about deeply.

Give a new skill.

Treat someone to the opportunity to learn and grow. Give a gift certificate for a class—cooking, painting, woodwork, crafts, furniture repair, or even learning a language. Take the class together or include your babysitting services to a mom or dad while they enjoy the learning experience.

Use your own skill.

There’s nothing as special as a handmade gift. If you’re a good cook or baker, prepare something truly special for your gift recipient. Use your musical talent or knowledge to make a special CD. Paint a picture, frame a photo, knit a scarf, hat, or socks. Pinterest is filled with ideas and inspiration for creative gifts for an ability level.

Gift-giving should bring joy to the giver and the recipient. When you put more meaning into the gift, you give and get so much more out of it!

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