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February 23, 2007

Oscar-Winner Richard Dreyfuss to Speak at March 26 Quarterly

width=90,height=130 Oscar-winning actor and social activist Richard Dreyfuss will be the keynote speaker at the Association's Monday, March 26 Quarterly Meeting and Luncheon at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue.

Immediate-Past Chancellor Alan M. Feldman will be honored at the event. Read more...

Assistance from Law Students Available for Pro Bono Cases

The Law School Outreach Committee, in conjunction with Chancellor Jane L. Dalton, is pleased to announce an easy, quick way to find law students who are willing to help the private bar with pro bono cases. If you are currently working on a pro bono case and need assistance, the area law schools are happy to find eager law students to help.

Signing up for help is easy. Given that all of the area law schools have different pro bono programs and methods for matching students, a "one-stop shopping" link has been created. Visit philadelphiabar.org and click on the Public Interest Section and then go to Pro Bono Corner. There, you'll see a list of the area law school pro bono programs. After each description, there is a link to a volunteer form. Just fill out the online form and it will be e-mailed directly to the school of your choice (and you can e-mail more than one school if you choose). The law school coordinator from that school will be in touch within 48 hours with your students.

This new online system will give attorneys another reason to take a pro bono case from any of our many Philadelphia public interest agencies. The area law schools are happy to help with this initiative and look forward to working with the new volunteers.

Mock Trial Competition Update

The information provided through the internet sign up to judge for the John S. Bradway Philadelphia High School Mock Trial Competition was temporarily unavailable to the coordinators of the program due to a technical problem which was recently addressed.

Everyone who signed up via the internet will be contacted by Roberta West with the information about dates for judging this week. If you have any questions, please contact Roberta West at Roberta.West@Temple.edu or 215-204-8948. Thank you for your participation and patience!

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Oscar-Winner Richard Dreyfuss to Speak at March 26 Quarterly

Oscar-winning actor and social activist Richard Dreyfuss will be the keynote speaker at the Association's March 26 Quarterly Meeting and Luncheon at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue.

Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for best actor in 1977 for his performance in "The Goodbye Girl." He was nominated for Best Actor in 1996 for his role in "Mr. Holland's Opus." He has appeared in dozens of films, including Stephen Spielberg classics "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Three of his films were recently included in the American Film Institute's list of the greatest 100 films.

"I am delighted that Richard Dreyfuss will be our speaker at the March Quarterly," said Chancellor Jane L. Dalton. "Although probably best known as a talented actor, Mr. Dreyfuss has been a longtime political activist. He is on the board of the National Constitution Center here in Philadelphia and has been studying the teaching of civics at Oxford University in England," she said.

"Mr. Dreyfuss speaks passionately and eloquently about the importance of an enlightened populace that understands the need for reason, logic, clarity, dissent, civility and debate. He urges that we educate our children to understand the important and unique ideals of the American republic, including the principals of freedom of thought, freedom of association and the personal responsibility of all citizens for their government," Dalton said.

Immediate-Past Chancellor Alan M. Feldman will be honored at the event. Feldman will be presented with a snuff box, an exact replica of the one presented to Andrew Hamilton for his defense of John Peter Zenger in 1735. The gold box is presented annually to the immediate-past Chancellor and is inscribed with the message, "Acquired not by money, but by character."

Tickets are $50 for Bar Association members and can be purchased online.

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How to Upgrade for an Upsell by Lisa Getson

Increasing the value of your home through basic improvements before putting it on the market can increase the selling price. Making improvements in your home will translate into higher offers from potential buyers. Depending on your budget, minor or major upgrades will both have an impact.

Start with the basics. Painting the inside of the house with neutral colors and carpet cleaning are good places to begin. Also, make sure all of your personal belongings are stored out of sight and rooms are clean. Clutter and dirt detract from any home's appeal. If you have more time and money to invest, there are certainly more things you can do to please today's buyers, who in return will place a higher value on your home.

The number one feature that buyers in today's real estate market look for in a home is hardwood floors. A home can be fitted with the most magnificent plush wall-to-wall carpet, and the first thing most buyers do is lift up a corner to see if there is hardwood underneath. If your home does not already have hardwood floors in key rooms such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen, and you are able to install them, I suggest doing so. If you are looking for something that is easy to install yourself and more affordable, many brands of laminate flooring are cost-effective with similar aesthetics.

The second feature most buyers typically want in a home is a new kitchen. If you have the budget to tackle modernizing your kitchen, you will almost certainly see a return on investment at sale. In today's busy world, most buyers simply don't have the time to handle large remodeling jobs, yet they are very specific about what they are looking for in a kitchen. Buyers want the floor to be either hardwood or tile. The days of linoleum are long gone. Also, stainless steel is the color of choice for appliances. The appliances don't necessarily have to be commercial grade, they just need to be of good quality. Furthermore, the number one item that buyers in today's real estate market are looking for in a kitchen is granite counter tops. If granite is out of your price range, any other updates to the kitchen will translate into better offers on your property.

Along with a new kitchen, buyers also look for new or newer baths in a home. If you have the time and money to invest in a remodeling project, baths are a good area to start. The most important bath in the home is the master bathroom. Most older homes do not have a bath in the main bedroom, but most buyers like the primary bath to be as sumptuous as possible. Realistically, it is ideal to have a nice- sized shower and, if possible, a vanity with double sinks. Again, the fixtures in the bathroom don't necessarily have to be the top of the line, but they should be of good quality. Also, if possible, buyers prefer the use of natural stone, such as marble. However, for a bath, tile is perfectly acceptable, but a neutral color is preferred.

A first-floor powder room is definitely something of choice for a buyer and if not already there, is advisable to add. This not only improves the value of the home but adds a convenience factor. A good way to add a first-floor powder room is to either convert a large closet that is not frequently used, or if the home has a garage that you have converted or are planning to convert into a family room, the powder room can go there.

The family room is definitely an essential in today's world. Years ago houses had large formal living rooms and no family rooms. With today's living being much more informal, almost all buyers prefer a family room over a formal living room as a place to watch television, use the Internet or listen to music. In addition, buyers prefer for the family room to be located next to or near the kitchen, especially if children are using this room as a playroom. It also helps if the family room exits to the outside. If you can add a family room thats great, or you can open up interior walls to expand the spacious feeling of the current family or living room. It will certainly enhance the value of your home at resale.

Aside from the features already mentioned, buyers like modern systems in a house, including updated heating, AC and water heating systems. Any required electrical upgrades will likely be identified in the home inspection process. Lastly, the roof should be well maintained, and the gutters should be kept clean. All of this maintenance will allow for their maximum life span and add to the value of the home.

In today's busy working world, most buyers are looking for a hassle-free home in which they can move right into and unpack their bags. Keeping your home in overall good condition is helpful in maintaining its value. A little fixing up, whether it be minor or major renovations, will make for easy living and will further enhance its resale value. With the right features, ordinary homes can become extraordinary homes. And extraordinary homes are more valuable homes.

Now that you have enhanced the value of your home, next month I will share my thoughts with you on what to do to "stage" it for resale. I also encourage all readers to write in with all of their real estate questions and concerns which I will do my best to answer.

Lisa may be reached at lisa.getson@prufoxroach.com.

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