4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Contact a local real estate professional to learn what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in your area.

 

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/02/4-tips-to-improve-your-home-and-save-on-your-energy-bill/

October 23, 2019   No Comments

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

The best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The latest Existing-Home Sales Report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals that demand for housing continues to be strong, but the supply is struggling to keep pace. With this trend likely continuing throughout 2020, now is a great time to sell your house.

THE EXISTING-HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in this report was not actually sales. In reality, it was the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory at the end of August decreased 2.6% to 1.86 million homes available for sale.
  • Unsold inventory is lower than the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018.
  • This represents a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR,

“Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up
home prices.”

In real estate, there is a simple guideline that often applies here. Essentially, when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see greater appreciation. Between a 6 to 7-month supply is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and can expect depreciation in home values (see below):Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell | Keeping Current MattersAs we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report also shows that 49% of properties were on the market for less than a month when they were sold. In August, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 31 days. As Yun notes, this should continue,

“As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates…The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.” 

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market, and supply will fail to catch up with demand if a sizable supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers who are out there searching for your house to become their dream home.

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/14/existing-home-sales-report-indicates-now-is-a-great-time-to-sell/

October 23, 2019   No Comments

5 Reasons to Consider Living in a Multigenerational Home

5 Reasons to Consider Living in a Multigenerational Home

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans currently live in a multigenerational household?

According to Generations United, the number of multigenerational households rose from 42.4 million in 2000 to 64 million in 2016. The 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors shows that 12% of all buyers have a multigenerational household.

Why Are Many Americans Choosing to Live in a Multigenerational Household?

The benefits to multigenerational living are significant. According to Toll Brothers,

“In recent years, there’s been a steady rise in the number of multigenerational homes in America. Homeowners and their families are discovering new ways to get the most out of home with choices that fit the many facets of their lives.”

The piece continues to explain the top 5 benefits of multigenerational living. Here is the list, and a small excerpt from their article:

1. Shared Expenses

“…Maintaining two households is undeniably costlier and more rigorous than sharing the responsibilities of one. By bringing family members and resources together under one roof, families can collectively address their expenses and allocate finances accordingly.”

2. Shared Responsibilities

“Distributing chores and age-appropriate responsibilities amongst family members is a tremendous way of ensuring that everyone does their part. For younger, more able-bodied members, physical work such as mowing the lawn or moving furniture is a nice trade-off so that the older generation can focus on less physically demanding tasks.”

3. Strengthened Family Bond

“While most families come together on special occasions, multigenerational families have the luxury of seeing each other every day. By living under one roof, these families develop a high level of attachment and closeness.”

4. Ensured Family Safety

“With multiple generations under one roof, a home is rarely ever left unoccupied for long, and living with other family members increases the chances that someone is present to assist elderly family members should they have an accident.”

5. Privacy

“One of the primary trepidations families face when shifting their lifestyle is the fear of losing privacy. With so many heads under one roof, it can feel like there’s no place to turn for solitude. Yet, these floor plans are designed to ensure that every family member can have quiet time… [and] allow for complete separation between the generations within the household.”

Bottom Line

The trend of multigenerational living is growing, and the benefits to families who choose this option are significant. If you’re considering a multigenerational home, reach out to a local real estate professional to learn more about the options available in your area.

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/23/5-reasons-to-consider-living-in-a-multigenerational-home/

October 23, 2019   No Comments

Selling or Staying: Best Trends of 2019 to Give Your Old House a Fresh Look

(TNS)—Your house is outdated, but where do you begin making changes? It might still have its original cabinets from 1978 or it’s been years since you changed the cosmetic details. Whatever end of the decor spectrum you’re on, a few modern tweaks can take your space from past to present.

How Revamping Your Space Can Sell It
For sellers, making a few small tweaks can help set your house apart from the competition, says Jason Saft, a real estate agent at Compass in New York. Some sellers choose to hire professional stagers to increase the look and appeal of their home. According to a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, or NAR, staging can have an impact on selling a house:

  • 40 percent of buyers’ agents reported that home staging had an effect on how most buyers viewed the home.
  • 83 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home helped buyers picture the house as their future home.
  • 25 percent of buyers’ agents said that staging increased the dollar value offered between 1 percent and 5 percent, compared to similar homes without staging.

Like staging, investing in the right updates can increase your return on investment. Experts agree that in a competitive market, the right changes can make all the difference, so keep reading.

Homeowners Can Enjoy a ‘New’ Home Without Moving
The onward and upward attitude toward housing has shifted amid rising home prices and squeezed inventory. And as more people age in place and make their starter homes their forever homes, the remodeling industry has exploded.

Now a $400 billion business, the residential remodeling market has seen a surge in activity, growing over 50 percent since 2010. In 2017, 29 percent of homeowners completed at least one remodeling project, according to the latest “Improving America’s Housing” report published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Some reasons for the uptick in home improvement projects are lagging construction and aging homes; some 40 percent of American homes are at least 50 years old, according to the report.

Americans are now more likely to stay in the same home than they were 35 years ago, according to NAR.

Many folks are skipping starter homes and going straight to affordable single-family homes in the suburbs, says Jessica Lautz, vice president of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at NAR. This has led to record levels of equity, as home values continue to climb.

Top Home Trends of 2019
From smart-home systems to outdoor living rooms, experts weigh in on the year’s most popular design features that will help give your house a fresh look that both sellers and homeowners can benefit from.

Smart-Home Systems
For the uninitiated, integrated smart-home systems are basically a variety of devices that are linked to a single hub, which coordinates everything. They range from six-figure customized systems to out-of-the-box gizmos you can install yourself for a couple hundred dollars.

Smart-home technology can be grouped into two basic categories: convenience and security. Convenience tech includes things like automated thermostats and Bluetooth audio (yes, you can have your very own theme song play when you enter your home). The security category includes cameras and alarm systems.

“Buyers want cameras and app-based home automation systems,” says Smitha R. Ramchandani, a broker associate at Sotheby’s International Realty in Summit, N.J. “They want to remotely control their lighting systems and blinds. If they’re away, they want to be able to turn off the thermostat.” 

Outdoor Living Rooms
Think of your outdoor space as another room, Saft says. Younger buyers often want to see social trends reflected in their living space and, as rooftop bars and other outdoor gathering areas gain popularity, this is appealing in a home, too.

“Outdoor living rooms are much more popular. Buyers are not looking at just a backyard; it’s another room,” Saft says.

Creating a backyard living room might be as easy as rearranging patio furniture and adding some lights and Bluetooth speakers. Homeowners starting from scratch should begin with an even foundation, which might mean putting in a concrete slab or wooden deck. Use pillows and blankets to add texture and warmth. Lighting plays an important part in creating an inviting ambiance. An easy way to add lights is to use simple string lighting, lanterns and LED candles.

Farmhouse Modern Look
From home makeover shows to big-box retailers, the trend best known as “farmhouse modern” is a favorite across the country, Saft says.

This is a look that’s easy to replicate in almost any style of home. The modern farmhouse look takes natural elements (reclaimed wood, rattan, wicker) and gives them a sleek, architectural look. Nowadays, these trends are accessible to anyone thanks to stores like Target partnering with high-end brands such as Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, owned by former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, Saft says.

“People are really getting into an eco-conscious lifestyle,” Ramchandani says. “Things that appeal to today’s homeowners are natural finishes and fabrics, like cotton, that have a more organic appeal. They want a rustic, homey feel.” 

Bold Accents
Playful and expressive might be two words to describe home trends in 2019. Buyers are responding to wow-factor elements in homes, whether it’s a unique, colorful kitchen back splash or a single statement wall in the living room.

Colorful kitchen cabinets are replacing the all-white look, too, Saft says, so homeowners who want to update their kitchen without dumping a ton of money into it can simply repaint their cabinets. Cobalt blue and greens are popular color choices. Pair colorful cabinets with mixed metals, like pewter and brass, and your kitchen has suddenly entered 2019.

“I’m noticing and people are really gravitating toward bold designs—people want boldness in color. Like a tertiary color scheme, the white-on-white kitchens and the white-on-white walls are fading away,” Ramchandani says.

Peel-and-stick wallpaper is an inexpensive, easy-to-install product for creating a dramatic wall, without the time and labor that traditional wallpaper requires. From wild prints to simple patterns, there’s a wide variety of paper to choose from.

Next Steps for Homeowners
For sellers, talk to your real estate agent about which updates are worth making for your particular property and buying demographic. Saft points out that what a Manhattan buyer might expect is different than what someone in the suburbs is looking for. Your real estate agent should know your market well and be able to give you strategic advice.

For homeowners who don’t want to move but want to use the equity in their homes for renovations, they might consider looking at home equity loans (HELs) or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). In both cases, the lender uses your home as collateral, so if you can’t make the monthly payments, you could end up losing your home.

The advantage of home equity loans for some buyers is that they’re tax-deductible if you use them for home renovations. They also have fairly low interest rates, which are usually less than what personal loans and credit cards offer.

Another option for homeowners who want to lock in a lower interest rate while tapping their equity is a cash-out refinance. This will replace your current mortgage with a new home loan for a larger amount than your existing loan balance, and you’ll be able to withdraw the difference between the two mortgages in cash if you have enough equity. Refinancing typically makes the most sense when you can lower your interest rate and/or monthly payment—and stay in your home long enough to recoup the costs of refinancing (known as the break-even point).

Also, if you do a cash-out refinance, using the equity on things that won’t have a return later might end up costing you. Home renovation projects might be worth it if it’s going to increase your quality of life while also adding value to your property. A kitchen remodel or new roof, for example, might be good investments, whereas a Jacuzzi or high-end fixtures generally won’t offer enough ROI to make the expenditure worthwhile.

Before you use your home equity to finance a home remodel, be sure to talk with your financial adviser to make sure it’s in line with your goals and budget.

 

Written By Natalie Campisi

Source: https://rismedia.com/2019/09/12/selling-staying-trends-2019-house/

September 16, 2019   No Comments

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.

P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.

TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,

“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate – including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”

This organization also provides a map showing annual property taxes by state (including the District of Columbia), from lowest to highest, as a percentage of median home value.How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | Keeping Current MattersThe top 5 states with the highest median property taxes are New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest median property taxes are Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama, and Delaware, followed by the District of Columbia.

Bottom Line

Depending on where you live, property taxes can have a big impact on your monthly payment. To make sure your estimated taxes will fall within your desired budget, contact a local real estate professional today to find out how the neighborhood or area you choose can make a difference in your overall costs when buying a home.

Written By KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/09/04/how-property-taxes-can-impact-your-mortgage-payment/

September 16, 2019   No Comments