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truffles-in-italy

Autumn in Italy Offers a Bounty of Truffles

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Italy, especially the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.   The weather is perfect, the crowds have dwindled, and the harvest showcases Italy’s culinary delights.  Fall festivals abound throughout Italy honoring grapes, olives, chestnuts, mushrooms, and the pricy truffle. Truffles have been a […]

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Italy, especially the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.   The weather is perfect, the crowds have dwindled, and the harvest showcases Italy’s culinary delights.  Fall festivals abound throughout Italy honoring grapes, olives, chestnuts, mushrooms, and the pricy truffle.

Truffles have been a delicacy for thousands of years.  There are references by Greek and Roman philosophers as well as in ancient Egyptian writings.   Tartufo, in Italian, is a fungus found growing near the roots of certain trees.  Its enticing aromas and earthy flavor, along with the fact that it has not been cultivated since the late 1800s makes it one of the most coveted foods in the world.

There are a handful of truffle varieties making them available most of the year.  The Italian white truffle is the most expensive and aromatic, prevalent in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy, the most well-known truffle heralding from the area around the city of  Alba where the International Truffle Festival is held every. Their season lasts from October to December, and every restaurant and home will be serving freshly shaved white truffles over Tajarin, local egg pasta.  Next, to being invited into a hunters home, we highly recommend you head off to  Ristorante La Pina for this delectable dish served only during the truffle season.  [Piazza Risorgimento, 4 Alba  phone  +39 0173 442800 http://www.lapiola-alba.it/en/]

The Italian Black truffle, known as the Perigord, is the cherished truffle located in Umbra and available from October through early January. It makes sense that it is also home to Urbani, the world supplier for this prized delicacy. [Santa’Anatolia di Narco, http://urbanitartufi.it/en/]   Their truffle museum is worth a trip, but if you can’t make it to Umbria this fall, Urbani has opened a test kitchen and tasting room in Manhattan, called Truffle Lab NYC.  Here you can enjoy truffle dinners or partake in cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs.  Or just stop in for the freshest Italian truffles flown in daily from Umbria.  [10 West End Ave, NY NY 10023   www.urbani.com]
The Italian Summer Truffle is more readily available and in season from March through November. It is found in throughout most parts of Tuscany and the region of Le Marche.   Papavero Villa Rentals has many properties in the picturesque area called Le Crete  – the heart of the Siena province countryside. We arrange a wonderful day hunting the white truffle of Le Crete Senesi,  the Marzulo and third known simply as the black summer truffle.  Each has its own season allowing a truffle hunt throughout the tourist season.   You will join a local villager and his trained dog through the woods in search of this delicacy followed with lunch in a trattoria or even his own home accompanied by the famous Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  Before the hunt,  if time allows, you will tour the small truffle museum in San Giovanni, a quaint medieval village set among the forests that provide the white truffles. Every person in the area hunts for truffles for their own table, but since they last at most four days, they sell the overflow to agents hired by prestigious restaurants around the world.   They say that if you put an Alba white truffle next to theirs, you cannot tell the difference.

 

If you prefer to hunt for fresh truffles in comfort, here are some of Italy’s 2017 Truffle Festivals

PIEDMONT

ALBA  –  Alba’s white truffle fair and market is one of the best and worth a special trip.  The event runs from this year from October 7 to 26th November with gastronomic stands and ends with the truffle world auction and the white truffle walk for tourists.  During the fair, there are concerts and lots of entertainment as well.  The week before leads up to this event with the famous donkey Palio and the chef contest; the finalist will then enter the world’s most prestigious cooking contest the Bocouse d’ Or in France next January.   http://www.fieradeltartufo.org/

MONCALVO –  this year will be held from the 22nd through the 29th Ocboter.  Located among the picturesque area of Monferrato with stoic castles, panoramic landscapes, and quaint villages. Moncalvo will be celebrating with truffle tastings and dinners leading up to the auction on the last day.

 

TUSCANY

San Giovanni d’Asso  – second and third weekends in November

Volterra –  Last weekend in October and the first weekend in November

San Miniato ( Florence Province) Last weekend in October and the first weekend in November

Corazzano, San Miniato  ( Florence Province) the first  Sunday in October

Balconevisi, San Miniato ( Florence Province) the third Sunday in October

Montespertoli ( Siena Province) Third weekend in November

Borgo San Lorenzo, Mugello ( Florence Province) third weekend in November

Montaione ( Siena Province) Last weekend in October

Arezzo ( Arezzo Provoince) first weekend in October

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playing-golf

Playing Golf Has Never Been Better

With more golf courses in America than there are McDonald’s (15,000 vs. 14,000), there is a reason why so many golf courses exist in America. Whether you play golf or not, most people at one point in time wanted to try it; and people who play wish they played more.  There are many reasons to […]

With more golf courses in America than there are McDonald’s (15,000 vs. 14,000), there is a reason why so many golf courses exist in America. Whether you play golf or not, most people at one point in time wanted to try it; and people who play wish they played more.  There are many reasons to value golf but here are some highlights for those who always wanted to learn or needed a reminder.

Exercise – The average golfer burns 1,442 calories playing golf while walking. If they take a golf cart, they burn 822 calories.  A Swedish Study concluded that golfers lived five years longer than non-golfers (although nearly all golfers in Sweden walk.) Everyone wants to be healthier, so what better way to get exercise than while playing the game of golf. Sure, beats running on a treadmill in my opinion.

Outdoor Benefits – Being outside has been shown to lower blood pressure (although missing an 18-inch putt may reverse that), improve your ability to focus, help fight anxiety, eliminate fatigue, reduce inflammation, improve short-term memory and demonstrate a de-stressing effect.

Fundraising – Do you know an organization that needs an extra $2,000 or $100,000 this year? Golf courses can help. In 2016 golf raised $3.9 BILLION and since 2012 it has raised over $20 Billion in money for charities. In 2016 each charity event nationwide averaged $26,400 for the cause. No matter what size organization you are, golf courses can help you raise money for a great cause, or by simply playing in one of their events, you can help a charity succeed in their mission.

Business – Want a senior management position? You should strongly consider playing golf because executives who play golf make 17% more than those who don’t. 54% of business professionals see golf as the perfect networking tool. An estimated 90% of Fortune 500 CEO’s play golf and 50% of golfers agreed to the statement, “the way a person plays golf is very similar to how he or she conducts business affairs.”

Why is golf good for business? Because golf:

  1. Provides access to an environment where business deals are done
  2. Challenges people to go beyond their comfort zone for personal enrichment
  3. Instills confidence both on and off the course
  4. Gives insight on how to read others
  5. Offers you a sneak peek into the integrity and ethics of your golf partners
  6. And most important…lets you open up and have fun!

Fun – What do you do for fun with friends, colleagues, and family? Some people play golf for the business reasons listed above, and some play with a group of friends they may not see if it wasn’t for that annual event. Some play with their brothers, sisters, parents, children, and relatives. Golf provides an opportunity to bond and create memories that last a lifetime.

There are also many other reasons people play golf. Some like competitive events and some just like to relax and have a few drinks. The best part is you don’t have to be good at the sport to have fun and enjoy all the benefits.

Sources:

http://www.appraisers.org/docs/default-source/discipline_rp/golf-courses-an-ever-changing-challenge.pdf?sfvrsn=0

https://www.pga.com/play-golf-america/new-golfer/golf-good-business

https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7#walking-in-nature-could-improve-your-short-term-memory-1

http://wearegolf.org/charity/contributions/

https://onpar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/a-little-scientific-research-for-all-those-19th-hole-debates/

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carnivore-diet-vs-keto

The Carnivore Diet vs. the Keto Diet

So what is all of this buzz around Carnivore vs. Keto? The buzz isn’t that new actually. It can be traced back to its origins in 1923 with Dr. Russell Wilder. He worked with treatments to impact Epilepsy, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Keto relates to his Ketogenic Therapy, which became the Ketogenic Diet, now the Keto […]

So what is all of this buzz around Carnivore vs. Keto? The buzz isn’t that new actually. It can be traced back to its origins in 1923 with Dr. Russell Wilder. He worked with treatments to impact Epilepsy, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Keto relates to his Ketogenic Therapy, which became the Ketogenic Diet, now the Keto Diet. This is well explained at the CharlieFoundation.org

Ketogenic influence has increased in popularity over other buzzes like Paleo since Paleo has become heavily diluted and incorrectly marketed. Many people get them confused due to the marketing and food companies jumping on the bandwagon and trying to make a buck off of the buzz. Many publications are crossing the relationships in a confusing way too. It is okay if you’re confused, after all, the big buzzwords these days now include Keto, Ketogenic, Carnivore, Paleo, Paleolithic, NSNG (No Sugar No Grains) Low Carb, LCHF (Low Carb High Fat), and more.

I want to preface the rest of this article by reminding you that each of us are at a different place on the health education timeline. What might be working already for me, might not work for you… just yet. It’s important that people realize that there are short-term vs. long-term decisions here. I.e., fad diets (short) vs. lifestyle choices (long). Legitimate and sustainable healthy lifestyle transformations happen with a proper allotment of time. Choose your steps and changes that will create a sustainable, positive change.

Another quick note on “DIET.” This term has become a bad four-letter word due to marketing turning it into short-term psychological impacts on our mindset. A “LIFESTYLE” change is what you’re really looking for, especially if you’re living an unhealthy lifestyle with daily energy impairment, health problems, medical issues, etc. Committing to healthier lifestyle choices could bring you improved energy, alertness, awareness, stress reduction, and more.

I’ve always been a person living in a somewhat of a Keto Lifestyle, I just didn’t know it. Over the recent years, I had barely eaten bread, so I simply stopped. This allowed me to move and get cleaner into a No Sugar No Grains Lifestyle. I live a pretty ketogenic lifestyle. Meaning, I am more fat-adapted. I’m just not always in a pure state of healthy ketosis. Fat, healthy fats, are your body’s preferred source of long-burning energy.

70% of our diet aka fuel intake, should be roughly centered around healthy fats if you’re looking to live more ketogenic. What are healthy fats? Coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, or even avocado oil are all great sources. Other natural sources of healthy fats include heavy whipping cream, grass-fed butter, half and half, etc. Those dairy-based sources of fat are not overly processed like traditional milk. So their whole fat purity reigns supreme. When you cut the fat, you’re left with lactose aka milk sugars.

Now whether we’re talking Paleo, Keto, or Carnivore, it’s important to remind ourselves to try and source our food aka fuel as clean as possible. So finding grass fed, chemical free, hormone free, etc. will help us reduce our daily toxic exposure. Unfortunately, not all food companies have to clarify this on their labels. So if you can source whole food solutions from farms and markets you know care about this, then you’re winning. Fun note, a chemical-free muffin is still a muffin and is not Keto, it’s converted to an unhealthy sugar bomb.

Now let’s help clarify the simplicity of a Carnivore. Carnivores are actually simply focusing on wild game, red meat sources, and then beef as the foundation if those aren’t available. These red meat sources are actually super rich in minerals and vitamins overtop of other meats like chicken or turkey. An excellent reference on this would be Dr. Shawn Baker MD of the Carnivore Training System at Shawn-Baker.com. I also recommend checking out Dr. Anthony Jay Ph.D. of AJConsultingCompany.com. He is starting the first 100% Carnivore Study, to analyze the impacts of a 100% red meat lifestyle for 90 days. He’ll be measuring the before and after effects on the length of our Telomeres of our DNA which determine aging.

So are you Keto, Carnivore, or Paleo? I can only dive so deep in this short article. The most important thing we can take away is that we need to get back to our roots, away from manufactured “food,” and start finding the healthy lifestyle choices to improve our lives. Yes, I live a marriage of Paleo / Keto / Carnivore / NSNG / LCHF lifestyles. So I’m not 100% Carnivore since I’m currently consuming avocados, pasture-raised eggs, bacon, and lots of red meat, other well-sourced Keto-friendly products.

It takes 28 days to build a habit, it takes 30 days to prove you can implement potentially sustainable actions to a healthier lifestyle. To tell you the truth, be prepared at 90 days, but actually, 120 days to establish a legitimately sustainable body and lifestyle transformation.

So take your health seriously my friend and give yourself time to commit and to see these transitions happen. So you could read these benefits for years to come.

 


 

Disclaimer… The information provided above is my own research, opinions, and experiences. Scott Mulvaney (LIVETHEFUEL) is not liable for any personal decisions. Please always consult a professional doctor when appropriate, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

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100 Years Young: Four Ways to Keep Your Company Young for Years to Come

When it comes to staying “young” as a company, it may seem counterintuitive to learn from companies that have been in business for a long time. However, by looking closely at the best practices of seasoned businesses, you’ll find what often makes them successful is consistent adherence to a core set of best practices. Following […]

When it comes to staying “young” as a company, it may seem counterintuitive to learn from companies that have been in business for a long time. However, by looking closely at the best practices of seasoned businesses, you’ll find what often makes them successful is consistent adherence to a core set of best practices. Following are a few ways you can make sure your business stays current and on the right track.

  1. Investing in Technology and R&D

Prioritizing investments in technology and R&D for innovation can have many benefits. First among these is helping your customers solve their greatest challenges. Customers value the ability to voice their opinions, and by integrating customer feedback into new product development efforts, your organization will be better positioned to sustain long-term customer satisfaction, loyalty, and valuable relationships.

Fostering a mindset of continuous improvement allows employees to identify areas of opportunity for innovation. Equip employees with top technologies and resources, enabling them to enhance your company’s processes and efficiencies.

Overall, your company will remain successful in introducing disruptive products and services when you offer key differentiators and unique value that clearly separate you from the competition. Connecting your brand and offerings with current topics, technologies and trends help your company remain relevant.

  1. Attracting / Retaining Talent

Employees are your company’s biggest asset and showing them you care will help you more successfully attract and retain top talent. Committing to, and valuing, ongoing professional development ensures your employees are up-to-date on knowledge and skills training and are engaged. Consider tuition reimbursement for continued education, encouraging your employees to dream big and simultaneously achieve professional and educational goals.

Show you care about employee well-being on and off the clock with a health and wellness program – and experience increased employee efficiency and productivity. A Quantum Workplace report showed that when employees believe their employer cares about their health and well-being, they are 38% more engaged, 28% more likely to recommend their workplace, and 18% more likely to go the extra mile for the organization.

Maintain a talent pipeline with a healthy internship program. When you give fresh minds insight into your business and your challenges, you gain their energy, ideas, and insight into potential future hiring opportunities.

  1. Keeping Focus on Customer Engagement

Customer engagement should be a priority across your entire organization, with everyone following the same true north. This can and should be achieved year-round by getting to know your customers better, actively listening to them, constantly asking questions and knowledgeably answering their questions. A customer event can be a great way to achieve these objectives and integrate with your overarching product strategy by soliciting invaluable feedback. Being customer-centric energizes employees when they understand the linkage between their job and the real end goal of the business—to serve customers.

Training presents another important opportunity for customer engagement, while potentially providing solutions to help customers address skills gaps. Education can and should be delivered in many forms—from manuals and hands-on classes to online and self-help—to meet the needs of diverse learners.

  1. Encouraging Diversity of Thought

Ideas can come from anywhere. However, by consciously cultivating diversity of thought, you can stimulate creativity. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, consider different cultures, backgrounds, and personalities for new hires and develop collaborative, diverse project teams to contribute to new ideas and solutions.

This can also be done via reverse mentorship. Given the growth in technology, younger workers can teach mature employees new ways to solve problems and use the latest and greatest technology.

Finally, creating an environment where employees can be themselves will allow for thought diversity. It starts on the individual level before it is a culture. Visible leadership enhances this. Available, authentic executives who engage with employees at all levels helps create a culture of trust and respect while enhancing communication and collaboration.

 


 

Eric B. Luftig is a Vice President at Victaulic, which is celebrating 100 Years of Innovation in 2019. He leads a global team across a variety of departments and areas of focus. Eric is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Chemical Engineering and has a broad professional background having been in a variety of operational and commercial leadership roles.

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Cigar Review

601 White Connecticut Churchill Nicaragua                             7.0” x 502                             Medium                       93-Rated One word comes to mind when I hold this cigar: beautiful. The chestnut-hued Ecuador Connecticut wrapper is flawless and fitted with a […]

601 White Connecticut Churchill
Nicaragua                             7.0” x 502                             Medium                       93-Rated
One word comes to mind when I hold this cigar: beautiful. The chestnut-hued Ecuador Connecticut wrapper is flawless and fitted with a triple-cap, in true Cuban form. The cigar is perfectly rolled, solid from head to toe and sits heavy in the hand. Then there’s the flavor, a rich bevy of wood and cream, complemented by nuts and a touch of sweetness from the wrapper. The Churchill burns slow and cool, offering a buttery-smooth bouquet from start to finish.
Bugatti Ambassador Toro
Dominican Republic                            6.0” x 54                          Medium             91-Rated

An oily Habano wrapper from Ecuador blankets this Toro from Bugatti, hugging a 4-country blend of tobaccos from the Dominican, Nicaragua, Brazil and the United States (Pennsylvania). The superior balance in flavor leads me to believe each leaf has been aged significantly, followed by an extensive post-roll nap. The smoke is thick and creamy, imparting a rich core of flavors. I get sweet oak and cashew, just before a pleasant spice lingers after each puff

Henry Clay Limited Edition 2018 Perfecto
Honduras        5.75” x 52                               Medium-Full                        93-Rated

Disclaimer: This is not your grandaddy’s Henry Clay. Not by a longshot. The Perfecto shape is perfectly sculpted, exhibiting a complex yet balanced flavor and profile throughout. The Habano 2000 wrapper offers a rustic, earthy nuance reminiscent of Cuban cigars, just before its long-leaf mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos coat the palate with roasted espresso bean, toasted cedar and sweet cream. I’d consider this cigar medium in body, but many will find it to be medium to full.

Hoyo La Amistad Silver Pancho
Nicaragua                    5.5” x 52                               Full                         94-Rated

This cigar had me at AJ Fernandez. I personally love his cigars, and Hoyo La Amistad Silver is no different. I’ve had about a dozen since it arrived, and find the Pancho to be my favorite vitola. The Ecuador wrapper is rich and hearty. The Nicaraguan blend of long-fillers is equally rich – Esteli leaves imparting a dense core of cocoa, coffee and spice, and Condega leaves offering a gentle sweetness and wonderful aroma. Lots of flavor, with a full-bodied profile to match.

RoMa Craft CroMagnon Aquitaine EMH Robusto Extra
Nicaragua                     5.0” x 56                               Full                       92-Rated

Easily the most complex cigar in the bunch, this 56-ring Robusto dishes out a hefty dose of spice throughout the burn thanks to a bold ligero wrapper grown from Habano seeds. Underneath, a Cameroon wrapper offers a slight nutty influence, while securing 3 different Nicaraguan long-fillers. During the burn, the cigar gradually grows stronger, hitting the full-bodied range while dishing out notable hints of white pepper, earth, leather and sweet cedar. Satisfying.

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Refocus, Recharge & Remember

I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last few years that we have seen more division, vitriol, and contempt than we care to remember, and often wish we could forget.  It seems that our 24/7 access to platforms of information has created a microscopic view of every issue while providing a voice for anyone with an […]

I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last few years that we have seen more division, vitriol, and contempt than we care to remember, and often wish we could forget.  It seems that our 24/7 access to platforms of information has created a microscopic view of every issue while providing a voice for anyone with an axe to grind. Social media seems to bloom with opinion mobs discrediting, discriminating and dissecting every nuance of person, culture or existence.

I’ve personally tried to clean up my feeds by unfollowing, blocking or deleting things that add stress, anxiety, or anger to my day. It’s nearly impossible. And yet, I want to know what’s going on in the world and ‘fight the good fights’ pertaining to life today.  It’s difficult to navigate around or through the constant battles of this group vs. that group, on issue after issue. Tell me you feel the same. It’s exhausting. Part of the problems exists because we’re too focused on our differences and forget how much we need each other.

I think its time for a reset. This piece is about remembering perspective, focusing on possibility and expressing genuine gratitude as we turn the corner into 2019. No, not some half-hearted resolutions that fade away by mid-February, but a purposeful state of being on how we can be our best self and in turn, help others. When we do that, everyone benefits.  Our relationships flourish with our significant others, our kids, friends, colleagues, bosses and our customers. Our ‘best self’ literally sends positive vibrations into the air with an infectious nature.

It’s important for us to remember that we can’t fixate on THINGS while forgetting about PEOPLE. All of the collective work that is done here in the Lehigh Valley centers on the people and the relationships we build.  Nothing else matters. And there is some great work being done by so many people who are committed to great causes.

Perspective is a powerful thing. Sometimes we need to see the world from a different view to appreciate what we have, be it the little things or major life circumstances.  Valley Youth House is a perfect example. They have a great mission – to be the catalyst for youth to achieve their desired future through genuine relationships that support families, ensure safe places and build community connections. Until recently, I was personally unaware of how many kids spend their holidays in a shelter due to homelessness or some kind of living complication.  This year alone, with the help from donors, over 1,200 youth will receive a holiday present through the annual Holiday Gift program.  Christina Schoemaker, Senior VP of Development & Marketing, shares, “We are so thankful for the members of our community who help Valley Youth House fulfill our mission…the selfless generosity and heartfelt kindness displayed will help make the holidays brighter for the neediest of youth and families served by our community.”

When it comes to possibility, PBS39 is throwing its support behind a program debuting in the coming months.  Jim Macdonald, Director of Marketing, explains, “We are working with The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to launch ‘Lehigh Valley Reads’…designed with the goal of having every student in the Lehigh Valley reading at grade level by grade 3. This is an important goal because up to grade 3; students are learning to read. After grade 3, they are reading to learn – and learning opens up a world of possibilities for each one of them.”

I believe the best form of gratitude can be expressed by helping others in need. We know from studies done by the National Institute of Health, among many others, that acts of kindness and feelings of gratitude flood the brain with dopamine.  This natural high often motivates you to do even more good. At the same time, we’re all busier than we should be, distracted more than we even recognize and often too tired to add another “to do” on our list.  It takes a committed approach for each of us to go beyond ourselves and offer something to others.

These are just some thoughts I’ve had throughout the year, and I hope we can all work on developing our best selves, whatever that may be for each of you. Make 2019 a year with inspired purpose, and I promise you’ll be better for it…others will too.

As a parting thought:

“Givers advance the world. Takers advance themselves and hold the world back.”

-Simon Sinek.

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title-insurance

Title Insurance: What is it and why do I need it?

Purchasing a home is the largest investment that most people make in their lives.  As part of the home buying process, title insurance is often required, especially if you are financing the purchase, and is always recommended.  However, many people do not understand what title insurance is or why they are required to purchase it.  […]

Purchasing a home is the largest investment that most people make in their lives.  As part of the home buying process, title insurance is often required, especially if you are financing the purchase, and is always recommended.  However, many people do not understand what title insurance is or why they are required to purchase it.  Instead, people tend to view title insurance as a necessary closing cost with little or no explanation.  This article addresses what title insurance is and why it is important.

Title insurance is an insurance policy that covers title issues that arise after you purchase or refinance a property.  Title insurance guarantees that the seller of the property owns it free and clear of any liens or encumbrances and that the seller is able to transfer clear title to you as the purchaser.  If a title issue comes to light that negatively impacts the property after you close on the purchase, title insurance will kick in and do what is needed to resolve the issue.  For example, you may find when you try to sell the property that a prior mortgage was never satisfied or you may learn at some point that a prior deed was fraudulently recorded.   Likewise, a search of a property with a mortgage foreclosure in the chain of title may reveal a glitch somewhere in the process that causes a cloud on the title.  Without title insurance, you would be responsible for any costs needed to clear the issue.  This may involve hiring attorneys, paying outstanding liens or unsatisfied mortgages, or possibly even losing the property.

Unlike homeowner’s or mortgage insurance, both of which cover potential future issues, title insurance covers from the time of purchase back in time.  The title insurance premium is a one-time fee that is paid at the time of settlement.  In Pennsylvania, the premiums charged by most title insurance companies are regulated and approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.  Your title insurance premium includes a title search of the property, the preparation of standard closing documents including the settlement sheet, and the handling the settlement itself.  Tax certifications, notary fees, recording fees, and similar fees are paid in addition to the title insurance premium.  In Pennsylvania, the buyer is commonly the party to pay these fees.

Both lender’s title insurance policies and owner’s title insurance policies are available in connection with a transaction.  If you are taking out a loan to purchase the property, the lender will almost always require you to purchase a lender’s policy.  Lenders also require a lender’s policy if you are using real estate that you own as collateral for a loan separate from a purchase.  A lender’s policy is issued in the amount of the mortgage and protects the mortgagor in the event that an issue arises.  Many lenders also require endorsements to the policy (for an additional fee, of course) based on specific circumstances of the purchase.  For example, endorsements are often required in lieu of a survey, if a property is part of a condominium or planned unit development, or if the loan has a variable interest rate.  A lender’s policy lasts throughout the term of the mortgage.

In addition to a lender’s policy, most purchasers also elect to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy.  An owner’s policy is issued in an amount equal to the property’s purchase price and protects you (as opposed to the lender) as long as you own the property.  When purchased along with a lender’s policy, the cost for an owner’s policy is minimal.

Many lenders, real estate agents, and builders are affiliated with title insurance companies and, in turn, often recommend an affiliated agent to issue the title insurance policy and handle settlement.  These affiliated relationships must be disclosed to buyers in writing and you, as the buyer, always have the right to shop for and choose the provider of these services.  Since the cost of title insurance is regulated and any cost savings would be minimal, you are encouraged to choose the agency that you are most comfortable dealing with to protect one of the largest investments that you will ever make.

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Mortgages, Spelled Out

Mortgages, Spelled Out

Picture the spelling bee in your mind.  The elementary school-aged child stands under the bright light, alone listening intently as the pronouncer provides the history of the word the child is required to spell.  The voice echoes through hidden auditorium speakers, “its background is both Old French and Latin; the root word is ‘mort.’” Then […]

Picture the spelling bee in your mind.  The elementary school-aged child stands under the bright light, alone listening intently as the pronouncer provides the history of the word the child is required to spell.  The voice echoes through hidden auditorium speakers, “its background is both Old French and Latin; the root word is ‘mort.'” Then there’s silence.

“Mortgage.  M o r t g a g e; Mortgage” spills the child nervously into the microphone.  Rightfully so; it’s one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

Logic and reason suggest the process itself should then be equally as challenging; and lonely, right?

No and No.

First, let’s do a quick little test.  Don’t worry; there’s no right/wrong answer no pass/fail; only bragging rights among friends.

Grab a pen or a pencil and a blank sheet of paper.  Ok; close your eyes.  No cheating now… Don’t look at your wristwatch (if you don’t wear a watch because Apple or Samsung tell your time don’t look at your phone).  Spin that watch under your wrist.  Flip that phone over.

Now open your eyes.  The task?  Sketch a detailed picture of your watch/phone screen.  Artistic talent is not a criterion.

You have 15 Mississippi’s; without a watch or phone timer, you’ll have to do it like we did on the school playground… count it out loud or in your mind; it’s part of the test.  Ready, set… GO.

Did you manage to draw each and every detail?  Is the sketch higher or lower than the standard you quickly advanced yourself credit for?   Here’s a good question… did you draw the actual time and date?

Right.  Items we interact with time and time again on a daily basis.  When asked to sketch a rendering with elementary distraction we find it harder a task than we initially thought.  Now imagine nothing was more important; life depends on it.

Ok.  Let’s go get a Mortgage.

Wait.  Wait.  Do we want to put no money down or a lot of money down?  Do we want to borrow a lot or just a little?  What’s the best use of our money?  Are you a first-time buyer or is this your 2nd or 3rd time buying a home?  Are you a Veteran?   What is a transfer tax in the State of Pennsylvania and how much is it?   Appraisals… cool… I get a copy, right?  Can I afford all of this?  What effects do real estate taxes have on the process?  Just what is a title company/closing attorney and what crucial, important role do they play? What’s a flood zone?  What are points and do they benefit the lender or me? How does all of this work in the present market conditions?

We will need to choose a type of loan, a term for that loan and the type of rate.  We can choose among conventional, FHA, VA, Rural Housing (USDA), first-time buyer, construction, swing or Jumbo.  All of these loan programs offer solutions to meet specific needs; individual needs.  Some require little to nothing out of pocket while others are tailored to what you determined is best for you.  Terms are available between 10 and 30 years each with options for fixed or adjustable rates.

Regardless of the type, term or rate the Federal Government requires lenders collect a 2-year history of residency, a 2-year work history, 2 years of income tax returns & w2s/1099s, 2 months of bank statements and 1 month of pay stubs in order for a mortgage loan to be compliant with its regulatory standards.  Everything we need to succeed… hey, we come across all that in the course of our day, month and year (que Emeril; BAM!).  Thanks Emeril.  That’s really good news because time is running on the low side… the closing date just around the corner and it’s pretty important; it’s where we’re going to live.  We can sketch that out, right?

Right so… how is it that we defy logic and reason?  Service; S e r v i c e.

Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, month by month award winning service paints a perfect picture of your immediate future.  It starts with meeting the Loan Officer, then to processing, after that the money is wired and into the title company you go!  Pick up the keys.   Regardless of what the industry would lead you to believe… that can be done with eyes closed.

A free consultation with a quality loan officer will answer all of your questions select the loan type, the term and the rate structure that meets your individual needs.  That won’t be done in general; rather, it’s at this moment that you meet your banker as both an educator and trusted advisor.  In the midst of your search you and your real estate agent and your loan officer will communicate on a consistent basis.  You and your real estate agent ratify the purchase contract.  Lastly, the loan officer will collect a formal application tailored specifically to you.  You’ll walk out knowing exactly how what you’ll be spending.

Processing will review the necessary documents you’ve submitted ensuring they meet regulatory standards and work with you to achieve compliance.  When put to task and coupled with your help processing can complete your review and approval in a day or two.

The closing department then works together with the title company your real estate agent recommended.  The property’s ownership history is clean.  The cost to close is sharpened to the penny and the loan funds are wired to the title company in advance.  You’ll receive a copy of the finalized settlement cost statement reminding you of how much cash is required and your transaction is funded.

The total process can be completed in just 8 days; many times, over.  Whether a buyer’s market, a seller’s market or in between you need service you can trust, and it is present in the industry.  You can be a priority.  Your closing date provides more than enough time for that level of service.

Call and ask questions, too; they’re important.  Find the artist that draws your picture day in and day out.  One who uses one of the easiest words to spell, not one of the hardest.  Time will fly when you’re having fun. F u n; Fun.

We’ll stand on your stage, by your side and at the ready – holding a perfectly painted picture in one hand and Webster’s dictionary in the other.

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Quality of Life in the Lehigh Valley

As a fiscal conservative and small business owner keeping my eye on the bottom line is something I must do if I expect to stay in business.   However, living in the Lehigh Valley and selling homes here as a Realtor, makes quality of life as important to me as quality of schools, proximity to major […]

As a fiscal conservative and small business owner keeping my eye on the bottom line is something I must do if I expect to stay in business.   However, living in the Lehigh Valley and selling homes here as a Realtor, makes quality of life as important to me as quality of schools, proximity to major highways and employment.   Who wants to live in a place that has nothing to do, no place to go and no entertainment?   We are lucky to live in an area where local government has budgeted for and is aware of how good quality of life can affect the economy of the region as a whole.

First, let us talk about parks and recreation, starting with the biggest amusement park in the area, Dorney Park.  Wow has that changed since I was a kid and you could drive right through it.  Now it rivals any amusement park in the state if not the country.  Not a bad deal either, if you get your kid a season pass and take advantage of some of their promotional deals.

Trexler Nature Preserve is an outdoor park on 1,100 acres with the Lehigh Valley Zoo near its center. The preserve provides a habitat for elk, plains bison, and whitetail deer. There are miles of trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking, and bird watching. The Lehigh Valley Zoo is a big attraction all by itself within the preserve. The zoo features penguins, giraffes and loads of other animals.   Another scenic state park is Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center which is a 1,186-acre PA state park near Wind Gap in Bushkill Township.  The park offers 18 miles of cross-country skiing trails, fishing, and hiking

How about Lehigh Valley Rails to Trails which are former railroad beds converted to trails for biking, walking or jogging.  The Saucon Trail runs about 7 miles from Hellertown to Coopersburg ending at the Living Memorial Community Park.  Ironton Rail Trail is a 9.2-mile course that includes a 5.2 mile almost fully paved loop through developments and parks.  If you love nature and enjoy outdoor fitness, find a trail near you.  You won’t be disappointed.

Next, let’s talk sports.  If you have not seen an Iron Pigs game at Coca-Cola Park, you don’t know what you’re missing.  From the great food to the live music to the entertainment between innings.  It’s great fun, and the baseball is not bad either.  If hockey is your thing, you have to go to a Phantom game.  They play at the newest arena in the area, the PPL Center.  You can catch Villanova play Lafayette in hoops or catch an Elton John concert.  If winter sports are what you’re into, then we have two outstanding resorts, Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie and Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton.  Both have skiing, tubing, restaurants and banquet facilities.

Golf anyone?  Boy, do we have the golf courses.  I think we are spoiled here in the Lehigh Valley. We have about 12 courses within 25 minutes of Allentown.  The prices are reasonable for a round and average from $25.00 to $70.00 per round.  Try finding those prices closer to Philly.  You can’t!

If you’re a car enthusiast, the valley has some great places to visit.  America on Wheels Museum focuses on the history of transportation technology.  See some iconic automobiles and learn about the history of the industry.  Held at the Macungie Park, Das Awkscht Fescht is one of the country’s largest antique and classic car shows for over the last 50 plus years.  Also held at the Macungie Park the weekend before Labor Day, is the Wheels of Time Rod & Custom Jamboree. The car show boasts over 2,000 street rods and custom vehicles.   There is live entertainment, games for the kids and plenty else to see.

I’m just scratching the surface with what I mentioned.  I left out the State Theatre, the Crayola Experience, Sands Casino, SteelStacks, the wineries and micro-breweries, and all the great restaurants.  The Lehigh Valley offers such a variety of things to do, places to go and things to see, making it a great place to live and work.  What does that do for all of us you ask?  Well, it keeps your property values up.  It makes it really inviting for companies and industry to move here which keeps unemployment down and disposable income up.  It helps the tax base which provides for good schools and good government.

The Lehigh Valley is an exceptional place to live!!

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real-estate-leases

Why are Real Estate Lease Negotiations Often Like Playing Poker?

There are two main reasons. The first is that there is often a lot of bluffing. Each side will bluff as long as is necessary to get what it wants. The second reason is that in poker, there’s only one winner of each hand. Each person wants to win, and therefore everyone else must lose. […]

There are two main reasons. The first is that there is often a lot of bluffing. Each side will bluff as long as is necessary to get what it wants.

The second reason is that in poker, there’s only one winner of each hand. Each person wants to win, and therefore everyone else must lose. Players watch their opponents for signs of weakness, or for giving away information about what they have. So, it’s “Win/ Lose.”

Sometimes this attitude carries over into lease negotiations. One side or the other (or both) perceives that the negotiations have to be “win-lose.” “I win, and you lose” is an expression frequently used.

The problem is that “win/lose” often doesn’t work when negotiating a lease. If you made a deal (i.e., signed a lease) but didn’t trust the other side, or if the negotiations were bitter and you signed a lease anyway, you’re facing a potential disaster. You’ve signed a lease, and now you have to live with it. You’re stuck with the other side, probably for years. If you saw the Academy Award-winning movie “The Sting” and remember the brutal, high stakes poker game between Paul Newman and Robert Shaw, you will understand what I mean. That is NOT the kind of negotiation to have and expect that the relations between the parties (who were enemies) will automatically improve.

Early in my real estate career, I was told a story about a large negotiation that occurred in New York in the early 1980s. The landlord desperately needed to lease a large amount of space, and the prospective tenant knew it. The tenant not only obtained a below-market rent but pressured and then obtained so many significant concessions that eventually the deal became very personal to the landlord. The landlord reluctantly signed the lease but exacted his revenge when it was time to negotiate a renewal of the lease. The story may be apocryphal, but the message was clear to me: don’t infuriate the other side.

Sophisticated negotiators know better than to infuriate the other side. To them, it’s more important first to know their needs and priorities and identify if someone can reasonably meet those needs. It’s “win-win” rather than “win-lose.” Bluffing is part of the process, but only to a point. If you don’t get what you need, you’ve lost.

In the early 1990s, I was the lead negotiator for the lease of over 60,000 sq. ft. of office space for my employer. (This was a large deal at the time.) The landlord’s chief representative was the nicest negotiator I have ever met. She was pleasant in every instance where we disagreed, and our side never felt any hostility. As a result, we simply recognized that there were disagreements, so we resolved them amicably. The needs of both parties were met.

Stephen R. Covey described this very well in his masterpiece book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” when he discussed “Win/Win or No Deal.”

There are many, many parts to a commercial lease. What is very important to one side may be minor to the other side. So, one of the keys is to find out what the other side really wants and simultaneously determine if those things are important to you, while you decide what you want and see how important they are to the other side. Rent is only one aspect.

So, what could be important? Here are some examples: timing (how soon can the tenant occupy the premises); length of lease term; options to renew; annual rent increases; options to expand to adjacent space; an option to decrease the amount of space leased; option by the tenant to terminate the lease early; an option by the tenant to purchase; the landlord’s right to relocate the tenant within the building or complex; hours of operation (if in a retail building); the tenant’s right to not remove its renovations and improvements after the lease ends; and the tenant’s right to self-repair (if the landlord doesn’t perform the repairs as required). There are many more.

In my career, I have represented two multibillion-dollar organizations hundreds of times each as both landlord and tenant. I have also represented clients (both landlords and tenants) who only had 2-5 employees.

Life is too short to become involved in lease negotiations that eventually resemble brutal poker games. I strongly recommend that you avoid them at all costs.

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