Easy Ways To Slash Your Home Utility Bills

Easy Ways To Slash Your Home Utility BillsMany homeowners don’t take advantage of simple measures to reduce energy bills. A survey by SaveOnEnergy found that nearly 50 percent of homeowners have not switched their regular light bulbs to energy saving bulbs. This simple measure can save more than $180 a year on electric bills.

As in the case with switching to energy saving bulbs, cutting your electric and other energy bills doesn’t have to require a lot of time, energy or money on your part. In fact, most of the following recommendations are easy to implement and costs just a few dollars. These free and easy lifestyle changes can add up and help you save a significant amount of money over the long run.

Close Off Cracks In Windows And Doors

You can save as much as $200 a year by closing off cracks around windows and doors. A lousy seal around your window or door will allow energy to drain out, which will also empty your wallet.

Visually inspect doors and windows for air leaks. If you see light entering around a window or door, then it means that you have a leak. You can seal these leaks by weatherstripping or caulking them. Also, inspect your storm doors and windows to make sure that they are in good shape. 

Install A Smart Thermostat

A good thermostat can help you save money on both cooling and heating costs. A smart thermostat saves you more than just money though. It also allows you to regulate the comfort of your home. Some smart thermostats will enable you to keep different rooms in your home at different temperatures.

You can also set up most programmable thermostats to stay at various temperatures during different times of the day. You can control most smart thermostats with your smartphone. The best part is that you don’t have to be handy to install a thermostat. Most people can install a smart thermostat in less than an hour.

Set Your Washer Temperature on Cold

If you are washing clothes in hot water, you’re wasting money. Newer laundry detergents no longer need hot water to get the job done. In spite of this, many people are still unnecessarily washing clothes in hot water. According to Consumer Reports, some laundry detergent work worse in hot water. You can cut your energy usage per load in half by using warm or cold water to do your laundry.

If saving energy and money is important to you and you’re in the market for a new home, be sure to pass this information on to your trusted real estate professional so they can help steer you toward energy efficient properties.

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know About

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know AboutWhether you are a homeowner looking to get the maximum return on investment, a buyer interested in fair market value or an industry insider grappling with the moving parts of the real estate industry, these are some trends and predictions you should know about.

Lower Home Supply Causing Significant Value Growth

Indicators point to a U.S. economy that has settled into a nice growth period. Unemployment rates have touched some record lows, wages appear to be on the rise and Millennials are entering high earning and home-buying years. Couple these factors with the fact that last year’s tax reform laws will likely put more money back in everyday Americans’ pockets and homes could be a hot commodity, so to speak.

Home supply — on the other hand — does not appear ready to meet the rising demand of buyers. Experts are predicting that rising demand will collide with the housing shortfall and prices will ramp up in 2019.

Home Values Could Rise Another 5 Percent By Year’s End

Some real estate insiders are pointing to National Association of REALTORS information that the number of available homes for sale has dropped for 35 consecutive months. The volume of sales is down because there simply are not enough homes being put on the market. Coupled with the uptick in the economy, sellers are in the driver’s seat right now and they are demanding top dollar for their homes.

That being said, it may be in the best interest of first-time homebuyers to get into the market sooner rather than later. The improved wages from the surging economy may not be able to keep pace with a potential 5-percent increase in property values by the end of 2019. It looks like a buy now or pay later real estate market.

It’s Not A Housing Bubble And Won’t Burst

The housing market has been on a tear over the last three years. Property values have appreciated fairly consistently for 35 straight months. Such data mirrors that of the housing market right before the crash. One of the driving force behind property values climbing back then was sub-prime mortgage lending. The practice was a ticking time bomb and the end was inevitable.

While some experts are calling for another housing bubble to burst due to an unforeseen flaw in the system, tough legislation and oversight are in place. It’s only human nature to be cautious when conditions appear similar to those leading up to a bad outcome.

This time around, rising home prices appear to be based on solid economic factors. Either contractors are going to start massive home-construction builds all over the country or the shortage will continue to drive prices up. While experts say we are not in a so-called housing bubble, the market may level off down the road to get in tune with consumer affordability.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, make sure to contact your trusted real estate professional to help you through the process.

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home Generator

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home GeneratorHome improvements are key investments when it comes to quality of life and property value. While decks, solar panels and smart technologies are trendy options, installing a home generator may be even more valuable. That’s because backup generators not only improve market value, they also protect you and your home during severe weather incidents.

Consider these four reasons why a home generator makes good sense.

Protect Against Severe Weather

The impact of severe weather can reach catastrophic proportions. Thousands of people are left without electricity for days — even weeks — after storms. Heat waves also put an inordinate strain on the power grid when all of those air conditioners and HVAC go into 24-hour overdrive.

The consequences of extended power losses are generally fouled foods in the refrigerator and freezer, unbearable temperatures and an inability to take corrective measures to the physical property itself. When the grid goes down, you may be left powerless as the losses mount.   

Keeps Critical Systems Operational

When the power goes down for an extended period of time, important electronics become inoperable. If you work from home or rely on electronic devices to earn a living, either you’re putting in for vacation time or losing money. But beyond the financial implications, many people need power for vital medical equipment to function. It’s simply too risky to not have a backup plan if you or a loved one suffers from a health condition.

Backup Generators Improve Home Security

We have all seen the national news coverage about post-storm or brownout crime waves. Looting and burglary ran rampant when residents are evacuated. That’s because criminals know full well that your alarm system went down with the power.

Consider the accumulated wealth you have at home and irreplaceable personal items. Those could be lost if your home gets robbed during a power outage. Fortunately, installing a home generator will allow you to keep the lights on and thugs away. Just having your lights on at night demonstrates that you have electricity and that acts as a powerful deterrent. A backup generator provides peace of mind against theft.

Backup Generators Improve Property Values

It only makes sense that a home generator will increase your property value. After all, home generator installations are direct financial investments.

According to Consumer Reports, installing a home generator can improve your home’s value by as much as 3-5 percent. Similarly, Remodeling Magazine indicated that the return on investment for a home generator installing can range as high as 150 percent. Of course, those figures may be weighed against the money you saved by being powered up when the grid was down as well.

The point of this discussion is that while new kitchens and smart homes are exciting ways to amp up your home’s values, improvements such as backup generators have a quiet value worth considering.

Your trusted real estate agent is available to suggest other home improvement tips that can help to improve the value of your property when you are getting ready to put it on the market.

Four Of The Best Vintage Design Trends For Your Kitchen

Four Of The Best Vintage Design Trends For Your KitchenSleek modern kitchens were all the rage a couple of years ago. But now, homeowners are re-creating the Happy Days right at home. Retro styles from the 50s and 60s are making a comeback in the kitchen. Just make sure you combine the old with the new. Using too many vintage touches can make your kitchen go from looking trendy to outdated.

Here are some of the most popular vintage trends for the kitchen. Discover some ways that you can incorporate them into your design scheme.

Funky Flooring

Hardwood is no longer the ideal kitchen flooring material. Funky pattern tiles and vintage black-and-white linoleum are currently making a comeback in the kitchen. You can play with a variety of colors and textures to create a vintage look. Some good things to try include red and cream tiles, checkerboard black and white patterns and colorful speckled flooring. Think about something that you would be likely to see in your grandparents’ homes.

Pastels

Pastel decor dominated the 1950s. They give off a soft but dynamic feeling that reminds one of a retro American diner.

Some classic pastel combinations include:

  • Sea foam green with soft pink
  • Buttery yellow and soft pink
  • Lime green with cream white
  • Robin’s egg blue and mint

You can add touches of pastel to your accessories, walls or curtains. Dish towels and other fabrics are also great ways to incorporate these colors into your kitchen.

Retro Appliances

There is no need to give up your modern-day efficiency to have vintage appliances. You can have modern performance and timeless design. Many kitchen appliance manufacturers are getting in on the retro trend. Ranges, refrigerators and dishwashers are now available in a variety of period-inspired designs. Try a pastel colored-range or a refrigerator with a stamped-metal body and chrome trim.

Vintage Wallpapers

Vintage wallpaper reflects a bygone era in an interesting, fun way. Want a 50s look? Try polka dot patterned wallpaper. For a look straight from the 1960s, redo your kitchen walls with a busy print. Or try repetitive geometric designs in bright colors like turquoise and pink. Vintage wallpapers are available through many large online retailers or Etsy and similar sites.  

Nostalgic details and salvage finds can help give your kitchen personality and flair. You won’t have to sacrifice modern convenience with today’s vintage kitchen appliances and accessories.

Whether sleek and modern or vintage and retro is your preferred style, be sure to give your trusted real estate professional your list of must-haves!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 16th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 16th, 2018Last Week’s economic readings included reports on inflation, mortgage rates, new jobless claims and consumer sentiment.

Inflation Slows in June

The Consumer Price Index for June inched down to 0.10 percent growth in June as compared to May’s reading of 0.20 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and May’s reading of 0.20 percent.

Year-over-year inflation rose by 2.90 percent. This was the highest rate of growth in six years. Inflation increased by a year-over-year rate of 1.60 percent in the prior year.

While inflationary growth signals strengthening economic conditions, it can also cause challenges for consumers if inflation outpaces wage growth. In recent years rapidly, rising home prices have outstripped inflation and wage growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week for the first time since June. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to an average of 4.53 percent; The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 4.02 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose 12 basis points to 3.86 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 6/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Analysts said that global economic trends caused the 10-year Treasury yield to rise as investors moved away from stocks.

First-time jobless claims fell by 18,000 claims to 214,000 new claims filed; this approached the lowest level of new jobless claims in 49 years. Analysts said that current low levels of new claims showed the healthiest jobs markets since the dot com boom in the 1990s.

Fewer first-time jobless claims suggested that more workers are confident about quitting their current jobs for new jobs. Improved consumer confidence in job security could mean that more consumers will be ready to buy homes.

Consumer sentiment also dropped in July according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.  Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 97.1 as compared to expectations of 98.9 and June’s reading of 98.2.  Concerns over recently imposed tariffs caused consumer sentiment to dip.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on retail sales, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

3 Generations Top Housing Market Trends

3 Generations Top Housing Market TrendsHistorians like to say that those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. In the real estate industry, the chances of that happening are slim because agents and other professionals follow market trends closely.

That being said, a careful examination of 2017 market trends and other factors can help highlight where the housing market is headed. Consider these top trends when deciding about whether to buy or sell a property.

Millennials Scooping Up Homes

According to resources such as Zillow, the low inventory and emergence of Millennials in the home-buying market helped break records last year. Millennials comprised upwards of 34 percent of the market and about two-thirds of them were reportedly first-time home buyers.

Given the shortage of entry-level homes for this demographic, 2018 and 2019 should have them in the driver’s seat in terms of buying trends. Although home prices are expected to rise in the single digits during the foreseeable future, the second wave of Millennial home buyers are likely to take a big bite of listed properties. As this group moves into their mid-30s, expectations are that last year’s 34 percent turns into about 43 percent of homes purchased. Millennials appear to be setting the pace.

Gen Z Home Buyers Expect Smarter Homes

Consider those born between 1995 and 2001 are adults or on the cusp of becoming adults. The front end of Generation Z is graduating college and looking for starter homes. This group is bound and determined to be different and they were basically weaned on technology.

Tech-friendly kitchens, lights and home-integrated devices have been trending and this demographic is likely to make them a priority when buying a home. Homeowners who are considering updating to a so-called “Smart Home” could be rewarded with resale value once Gen Z enters their collective mid-30s. Smart homes are trending and could go vertical with Gen Z buyers.

Generation X Returns From Great Recession

The housing crisis of 2007-09 put upwards of 10 million Americans out of their homes. Forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy, the financial aftermath of that catastrophe is coming to an end.

Those that filed for bankruptcy during the crash are in position to put their rebuilt credit to work. According to reports, approximately 1.5 million people could become eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2019.

A large portion of these potential returning homebuyers fall into the Gen X age group. They are likely to be savvier than the first time out. Many of these 50-somethings are expected to be frugal and cautious value buyers that could target properties that are traditionally considered starter homes. Regardless of how the trend plays out, Gen X is coming to a housing market near you.

If these emerging trends indicate anything, it’s that the shortage of homes on the market will only get tighter. Several large emerging demographics and returning buyers are going to speed an already fast-selling market. The trending idea may be to buy a home in today’s market and save money.

Your trusted real estate agent is sure to keep up to date on all the trends. Be sure to contact them as soon as you are ready to list your current home or find the new home of your dreams.

Check Out This Great Next Gen Kitchen Technology

Check Out This Great Next Gen Kitchen TechnologyThere’s perhaps no better indicator that we are living in the technology age than Smart gadgets infiltrating the kitchen. Whether they are little conveniences or big-ticket items, the chef in every home can benefit from the devices that help improve cooking, storage and food preparation. These are some of the next generation kitchen items that are making life a little easier and homes a tad more valuable.

Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge Provides Constant Contact

This big-ticket Samsung line has definitely taken refrigeration to the next level. It features a touchscreen that you can connect to with handheld devices to connect with your unit. One of the key features is that it enjoys an embedded camera and you can literally look at what is on your shelves while shopping for the evening meal. The days of being one ingredient short are over.

But beyond the shopping aid, the Family Hub lets you know when food is expiring, provides recipe suggestions, plays music and can utilize an Internet of Things method of ordering items for you. The Smart fridge has all the bells and whistles that can help improve your quality of life.

Smart Ovens Are Trending

Star Trek: Next Generation fans may recall Capt. Jean-Luc Picard ordering tea by simply saying “Earl Grey, hot.” The days of voice-activated meals may be closer than you think.

The latest lines of Smart ovens are integrating WiFi and connecting to recipe apps as well as that friendly home bot Alexa. Amazon reported that Alexa will be integrated into the kitchen and laundry room going forward. Several lines of Smart ovens on the market are already set up for tech-oriented homes. This Smart kitchen trend is likely to be popular with Millennial homebuyers who are flooding the real estate market.

Tech-Savvy Toaster Ovens Rule

The sometimes-forgotten toaster oven could be making a comeback in a huge way. Some of the new lines, such as Breville’s Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro could double for a full-sized unit. Reviews on the brand tout the device’s ability to cook a 13-inch pizza or 14-pound turkey.

But the next generation aspect of these Smart ovens are things such as the “air fry” capabilities. It also features 13 pre-programmable cooking options including dehydrate. Those college dorm room days of crumb-filled toaster ovens heating up pre-cooked frozen foods are last generation.

Futuristic PancakeBot Amazes

Tech buffs often see 3-D printers as the device that could make the largest difference in terms of machinery and even ending hunger. The 3-D technology has been put to use making amazing and artistic pancakes of all shapes and sizes. You simply program it with a computer image to create the pancake design you desire, pour in the batter and serve.

The next generation of Smart kitchens are shifting the way home cooks function. In terms of property values, integrating Smart technologies appear to be highly sought after and can be a difference-maker in home sales.

If high-tech kitchen gadgets are on your list of must-haves, be sure to let your trusted real estate agent know so they can help you find the right home for you.

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House Hunting

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House HuntingIn the ideal home-buying scenario, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, this is not always possible. Maybe you are relocating for a job and have to buy a house from across the country. If this is the case, you might have to limit the time that you spend house hunting.

Here are some tips to help you make your search as productive as possible. 

Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Before attending open houses and searching for a home, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will help you identify the exact price range that you should be shopping for. It will also let home sellers know that you are a serious buyer. If you are competing with other buyers, a seller will be more likely to take your offer seriously if they know that you can afford the home. 

Sometimes you’ll hear the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval thrown around interchangeably. However, these two terms are very different. A pre-approval is much more valuable when it comes to buying a home. Although you will have to provide a lot more information for a full pre-approval, this qualification will provide you with a specific loan amount that you are approved for.

A pre-qualification is just an estimate of the amount that you can afford based on your income and other factors. It is not as personalized or customized for your specific situation as a pre-approval. 

Find A Good Real Estate Agent 

Find a good real estate agent who is knowledgeable of the area that you want to buy in. Ideally, they have lived in the area for a long time and know the community. A good local agent can bring invaluable knowledge to the table about the city. They should be familiar with the homes in the area. They might even know about homes that aren’t on the market yet but will be soon. This knowledge can be invaluable when you are in a time crunch and want to get the most out of your house hunting time. 

Make A List Of Your Must-Have Amenities 

You don’t want to spend time looking at homes that won’t meet your needs. There are probably some things that you’d like to have in a house, as well as things that you must have. So, if you’re in a time crunch, the first thing you should do is make a must-have list. Make a second list of things that you’d like to have but that are not required. Don’t bother looking at homes that lack the qualities on your must-have list. 

Contact your trusted real estate agent to help with your home search today!

Home Buying: Repair Requests After A Home Inspection

Home Buying Repair Requests After A Home InspectionThe perfect home has been found, the one in the right neighborhood with the right amount of bedrooms and bathrooms. The home inspection is complete, but a few issues have been found. At this point, a home buyer has decisions to make. 

What Repair Requests Can Be Made After a Home Inspection?

Structural defects found during a home inspection are the responsibility of the seller and must be fixed. In addition, Realtor.com states that the following must also be repaired by the seller:

  • Water penetration such as mold or wet basement/crawlspace
  • Any code and safety violations like unstable decking or missing handrails

Cosmetic issues like bold paint choices or peeling paint, nail holes, and other normal wear-and-tear are the responsibility of the buyer, not seller.

Additional Repairs to Request 

Home buyers do have the option of requesting repairs they believe are the seller’s responsibility. These often go beyond obvious structural issues like a sinking foundation or mold in the basement.

Additional repairs that home buyers may request include but are not limited to:

  • Replacing pipes with leaks
  • Replacing galvanized pipes due to lead contaminant, low water pressure, and leaks
  • Upgrading electrical wiring in a home built before 1960
  • Fixing cracked window(s)
  • Installing new HVAC and/or water heater

Sellers may be willing to replace old sewer lines known as “tar paper” pipes. These “tar paper” pipes are called Orangeburg sewer pipes and often found in older homes. On average, this older type of sewer pipe has a 50-year life span. However, as it ages, it can begin to disintegrate with tree roots penetrating the material. A home buyer can hire a plumbing professional who specializes in sewer pipes to inspect the system as part of the overall home inspection.

There may be additional issues that the seller is not required to fix, but that leave the buyer unhappy. When this happens, it can be possible for the buyer to request a repair credit be added to the final contract. Typically, this works best when the repair or issue has a potential cost of more than $500. 

Qualified Home Inspection

Repair requests made by the home buyer, whether major or minor, usually are more credible when done in conjunction with a qualified home inspection. Not every state requires home inspectors to have specific certifications or even licensing, so it’s essential to work with real estate agent to select a qualified professional. A qualified and independent home inspector is the buyer’s responsibility. This inspector should have established credentials and belong to trade association, versus a friend or family member that “knows houses”. 

Home buying can be an overwhelming experience, but knowing which repairs to request the seller to fix after the home inspection, is one less item to worry about. Your trusted real estate agent is available to discuss these issues and more to ensure a smooth home buying or selling experience.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 9th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 9th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included monthly readings on construction spending, public and private sector job growth and June’s national unemployment rate. Weekly readings included Freddie Mac mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Construction Spending Rises in May

According to the Commerce, construction spending rose 0.40 percent in May; public sector construction spending rose 0.70 percent and private sector spending rose by 0.30 percent. Residential construction rose by o.80 percent, which analysts regarded as a good sign for the economy. Building more homes has long been identified as the only solution for persistent housing shortages that cause high demand for homes and rapidly rising home prices.

Analysts said that volatility and heavy revisions to government reporting, construction spending readings are subject to significant change. April’s reading of 1.90 percent growth was downwardly revised to 0.90 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgages were three basis points lower at an average of 4.52 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and were five basis points lower than for the previous week. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.74 percent and were 13 basis points lower than for the prior week.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 231,000 new claims as compared to 200,000 new claims expected.and 244,000 new claims were filed in the prior week.

Unemployment ticks up as Public and Private Sector Job Growth Slows

ADP payrolls fell to 177,000 private sector jobs were added in June as compared to 189,000 jobs added in May. The Commerce Department reported 213,000 public and private sector jobs added in June, which beat expectations of 200,000 jobs added in June. 244,000 jobs were added in May.

The National unemployment grew to 4.0 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 3.80 percent. Analysts attributed the rise in the unemployment rate to 600,000 new job seekers entering the market in June.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.