5 Tips For A Lower Heating Bill

Keeping a home warm during the colder months of the year can prove to be expensive. With energy costs on the rise, many households are facing higher energy bills each year.

1. Find unorthodox heat sources. More efficient sources of heat are available, particularly if the home is in a milder climate or if the home can be broken into zones.

If you’re currently using electricity to heat your home a heat pump can help lower your electric bills by 50 percent. Heat pumps cost about $7,500, but will pay for themselves with reduced energy costs. A geothermal heat pump is the best and qualifies for tax credits. They should and can be paired with things like radiant heat flooring in specific areas of the home, as they are more effective at using energy than either baseboards or radiators and can help supplement the heat in smaller spaces.

Radiant heat costs between $6,000 and $14,000 if covering your whole home, but you can often install it in a single room for around $700. Paired with a heat pump, this will keep your home warm while significantly lowering your energy bills.

2. Add extra insulation. The amount of insulation that your home needs is directly tied to the type of heat source you have. In my past experiences I’ve seen many homes actually under-insulated for their climate and their heat source, resulting in their furnaces or radiators having to work harder than they need to and causing a spike in energy bills.

Insulating even a single room in your home can dramatically increase comfort and help you lower your thermostat, resulting in smaller bills. Adding insulation to your attic can also “hold the heat in” your home a lot longer.

3. Take care of your furnace. Furnaces are one of the most commonly used ways to heat large homes. I find that most home owners don’t maintain their furnace enough. Cleaning or changing filters is a must.  If you don’t feel comfortable with furnace or AC maintenance you should contact a professional tradesman.

If your furnace is older than 10 years, replacing it can dramatically increase its efficiency. Older furnaces only run at around 50 percent efficiency, while newer models can reach rates of 90 percent, making them a much better choice for keeping monthly bills down. A new furnace costs around $3,000 to $5,000, but will pay for itself in lowered bills over time.

4. Make the switch to gas. If you’re currently heating your home with electricity or oil, you’re likely spending more each month than you would if you switched to natural gas. Gas furnaces are much more efficient than oil or electric heaters, which can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each month.

5. Complete an energy audit. Your home may be losing a great deal of the energy you use to heat it, without you even realizing it. An energy audit—or a comprehensive look at how your home uses and loses energy—will help you find ways to make your home more efficient overall.

It takes some of money to make these changes. But studies demonstrates  spending that money will save you big money down the road.

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OWNERS TITLE INSURANCE POLICY

Do you fully understand the VALUE of the Owner’s Title Insurance Policy? Overall Title Insurance protects the interests of property owners and lenders against legitimate or false claims made by previous owners or lien holders. In effect, it insures the investment unlocking its potential as a financial asset for the current owners. Just a few reasons that it is so  important to maintain your Owners Title Insurance with a Title Company.

  1. Dollar-for-dollar, Title Insurance may be the best investment a property owner can make to protect their interest.
  2. According to ALTA, title problems are discovered in more than 1/3 or residential real estate transactions. These “defects” must be resolved prior to Closing. The most common problems are existing liens, unpaid mortgages, and recording errors of names, addresses or legal descriptions.
  3. An  Owner’s Title Policy protects the owner for as long as he or she has an interest in the property; and the premium is paid only once, at Closing.
  4. Title Insurance is different from other forms of insurance because it insures against events in the future, as health, property or life insurance do. Title Insurance is loss prevention insurance.
  5. Title Insurance Companies rely on a search of existing records to identify possible defects in order to resolve them prior to issuing a policy. The Companies perform intensive and expensive work up-front to minimize claims. The better they perform, the lower the number of claims.
  6. Research titles may be extremely labor-intensive since only about 15% of public records are digitized. The industry invests a substantial amount of time and expense to collect and evaluate title records. As a result, the industry’s claim are low compared to other liens of insurance.
  7. Title Companies access, assemble and analyze title information, in addition to handling Escrow and Closing process so that they are able to provide customers with the most comprehensive service.

All Title Companies are held to a higher standard of business practices. They must be accountable for all the research and implementing all the guidelines required by law. The duty of the real estate agent is to connect his or her clients to a Title Company they are comfortable with. Although many selling agents will work with one they often find themselves working with other Companies when they are the listing agent. Communication between the realtors and Title Company is paramount. Everybody must be on the same page to avoid delaying the Closing.

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4 Things You Really Wish Your Sellers Knew

There are a few things that pop up in the course of transactions that you wish sellers already knew that lessens the chance of having to discuss so that you could avoid having some awkward conversations with them. Real estate pros chime in at realtor.com® with some of the top things they wish sellers knew about selling a home, including:

Your home decor isn’t always perfect for selling.

“While your home may be beautifully decorated, it still looks like your home, not the buyer’s,” Teresa Stephenson, vice president of a residential brokerage at Platinum Properties in New York, told realtor.com®. Clutter, in particular, can make a home feel cramped. “You don’t have to pay to have your home staged, but if you don’t buy into the concept that ‘less is more,’ you’ll pay when it comes time to sell,” Stephenson adds.

Stop being so secretive with your agent.

Sellers need to disclose any problems with the property, like a broken air conditioner, leaky faucets, water damage, or termite infestation. “Don’t keep any of your home’s flaws from your agent because you are scared it might hurt your sale,” says Karen Elmir, founder and CEO of the Elmir Group in Miami. The listing agent is on the homeowner’s side, but she must be aware of what needs to be fixed or what could become an issue in a transaction going forward.

Remodeling doesn’t guarantee a price uptick.

While remodeling projects may enhance a property, the projects homeowners take on are never a guarantee of payback at resale. “An ROI, or return, on a home’s upgrades does not necessarily increase value,” says Michael Kelczewski, a real estate pro with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Delaware and Maryland. The payback will greatly depend on what type of home improvement was completed.

Be ready to fix some things.

Sellers may have to spend a few bucks to get their home ready to sell. For example, they may need to “replace the trim the dogs scratched up,” says Katie Messenger, a real estate pro with Bello Dimora Real Estate Network in Kentucky and Cincinnati. “Clean the scuff marks off the walls. Power-wash the algae off the vinyl siding. To you, it’s totally normal because you’ve lived with these issues for years. To buyers, these will look like expensive repairs, which means they’ll have to lowball you, or not make an offer at all, because your house ‘needs a lot of work.’”

Well you’ve heard from the pros. Now you can hear it from me. I preach the same ideas to my clients.  I concur with the pros on all fronts. I take things a step further. I recommend Sellers conduct inspections, make repairs, a through cleaning, stage their home that favors most all buyers  before listing the property. When it comes time to negotiate the focus will be on Price and Terms and not who will fix this or that. I know from experience this formula WORKS!

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A Sign That More Housing Inventory Is Coming

The following article is stat driven and has been the barometer for the housing market climate. If you are the statistical type you will appreciate the info. If you’re not you should read it over. I think you’ll get the point.

Homeowners who have decided to stay put in their current properties may soon be ready for a move, helping to relieve stubbornly tight housing inventory. The evidence is in Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index, in which the number of consumers who say now is a good time to sell a home neared an all-time high. The index—which is a measure of about 1,000 consumers’ attitudes toward housing—rose 1.2 points in August to a reading of 88, reflecting a year-over-year jump of 21 percentage points in the number of consumers who looked favorably on selling. The August reading is just shy of the index’s record high of 88.3, set in July.

Meanwhile, the number of consumers who say now is a good time to buy dropped 5 percentage points in August to a new survey low for the second consecutive month. The number of those who look favorably on buying is down 16 percentage points year over year, Fannie Mae reports.

“In the early stages of the economic expansion, home selling sentiment trailed home buying sentiment by a significant margin. The reverse is true today,” says Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan. “The net ‘good time to sell’ share is now double the net ‘good time to buy’ share, with record-high percentages of consumers citing home prices as the primary reason for both perceptions. Such a sizable gap between selling and buying sentiment, if it persists, could weigh on the housing market through the rest of the year.”

Here are some additional findings from Fannie Mae’s August sentiment index reading:

  • 36 percent: Consumers who say now is a good time to sell, an uptick of 8 percentage points from July.
  • 18 percent: Consumers who say now is a good time to buy a home, a new survey low.
  • 48 percent: Americans who say home prices will rise, up 1 percentage point month over month.
  • 74 percent: Consumers who say they are not concerned about losing their job, a 1 percentage point drop in August.
  • 16 percent: Americans who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, unchanged from July. Source: Fannie Mae.

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Is Your Roof Reindeer-Ready?

The holidays are fast approaching! Amid the gift-giving, gathering with loved ones and decorating, the season serves as an important reminder for homeowners to make their roofs “reindeer-ready,” or review their roofs. These inspections can all be done with a ladder.

1. For homes with asphalt shingles, look for black areas indicating cracking shingles.

2. For homes with shake or shingles, look for pieces that are curled upward, split, broken off or missing.

3. For homes with slate roofs, look for black areas that indicate slate is missing.

4. Look for heavy wear around the valleys, the areas where water runs off the roof into the gutters.

5. Look at the materials around the chimney and vent pipes and check for cracks, gaps and missing or fractured caulking.

6. Check eave overhangs for water damage.

7. Use binoculars to check around the chimney, trim and other flashings for signs of cracks, shingles that are coming up off the roof and general wear.

8. Conduct an interior inspection for stained or discolored ceilings, which most likely indicates roof problems.

9. Check your gutters for asphalt shingle granules.  Lots of granules mean less coverage on your roof.

10. Remove branches, twigs and leaves from gutters and clear out down spouts to allow for snow and ice run off.

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 Source: Metal Roofing Alliance

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