Friday, February 28, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Bottom Line on Energy Efficient Upgrades
Wondering which energy-saving upgrades are worth it? These simple steps tend to pay for themselves quickly:
Installing weather stripping to an older home can reduce heating costs by 10 to 20 percent.
Adding or upgrading insulation in an under- or un-insulated attic or basement can pay off quickly on energy bills.
Upgrading from incandescent light bulbs requires spending more on replacement bulbs, but with the energy savings and longer lifespan, LED bulbs pay for themselves in about three years, and CFL bulbs can pay for themselves in as little as three months.
Replacing inefficient showerheads with a water-saving modelwill save the average family 2,900 gallons per year and 370 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Switching to low-flow toilets can reduce the water used for toilets by 20 to 60 percent (or 13,000 gallons per year) for an average savings of $110 per year.
Using a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the indoor air temperatures lower or higher to save on heating and cooling costs can pay for itself in less than a year.
Upgrading to Energy Star appliances can reduce energy costs dramatically, especially if your current fridge or dishwasher was manufactured before 1990.
Switching to a front load washing machine can save you $150 a year, using 35 to 50 percent less water and up to 50 percent less electricity than a conventional top-loading model.
Installing a water heater blanket is an inexpensive way to save you 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs.
Upgrading an older heating system to a high-efficiency furnace is a good investment if your system is older than 20 years.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Everyone has seen the beautifully staged listing photos of on-market homes, with everything so neat and tidy and put-together. That’s easy enough to do for a 1-hour photo shoot – here are some tips for keeping your home in “showable” condition and being ready for the stream of buyers who will come through your home.
- Declutter your home. Everyone accumulates a lot of stuff over the years. When your home is on the market, you really do want to simplify and make your home as clutter-free as possible. This makes your home feel bigger, and allows a new buyer to picture themselves living in the space. One benefit is that it actually gives you a headstart on packing, and can make your home feel refreshed. It also gives you less to tidy-up at the end of the day.
- Deep clean once, then stay on top of it. A home buyer will be able to tell the difference between a squeaky clean home and one that has seen better days. Before you go on market, it’s a good idea to spend a weekend deep-cleaning your home, or hire a service to do a top-to-bottom job. This will make it much easier to keep clean and tidy, and will likely inspire you to get out the counter wipes. Get some good smelling cleaning products and make it a habit to wipe down countertops, give the shower a once-over, run a vacuum over the high-traffic areas, and straiten the towels at the beginning of each day.
- Kitchen and Bathrooms. Most buyers really care about the condition of kitchen and bathrooms. If you have to prioritize where you spend your time prepping, make sure these areas are very show-worthy.
- Minimize meal prep. Consider making a bunch of freezer meals or having easy-to-prep food on hand. No one likes to be caught mid-dinner with a showing request, and to be honest, cooking smells can be overwhelming for home visitors.
- Keep a “To-Go” bag at the door. More than likely, you will get last-minute calls from agents asking to see your home. Keep your bags prepped and ready to dash out the door. If you have kids – have your bags stocked with toys, books and snacks. Same with pet owners. It helps to have your wallet, keys, and phone all pulled together to make a quick exit.
- Be proactive. Plan chunks of time to be out of your home. Plan a weekend away or make dinner plans. Work with your agent to encourage visits during those times that you will be out.
- Set up a showing schedule that works for you. If you have a set dinner time, or kids that nap during a certain hour, don’t be afraid to restrict showings during those times. Your agent can instruct agents not to show during those times.
- Be flexible. Try to go with the flow and remain flexible. Remember that the more people that see your home, the quicker you will get an offer. by Shannon Ressler