Your no-nonsense real estate guide
The only thing rising in this weather is your home’s energy bill. Below, we outline a few easy ways to green your home and lower your monthly utility costs.
Hire an inspector
First, hire a home inspector who specializes in energy efficiency. The inspector can pinpoint spots with thin insulation or drafts. You can easily seal these with caulk or a special sealing kit can drastically reduce the amount of heat that is escaping the house.
Program your heat
Next, install a programmable thermostat and set it to cool during the day or at later at night when everyone is asleep. Prefer to save on the cost of a new thermostat? Just manually adjust yours as you go to bed or leave for work.
Homeowners who strategically lower their home temperature have been found to save up to 15 percent on energy costs in the winter months.
Don’t overspend on laundry
Your winter layers may require you to more loads of laundry. Save by washing in cold water, and always remove the lint after each dryer cycle.
Fewer pending sales, slightly lower sales prices and fewer new listings are hallmarks of the autumn market – and this year is no different. But while numbers are down on a month-to-month basis, the market is still outperforming last year.
What does this mean? Homeowners like you are returning to positive equity and finding selling to be a viable option. Those who are looking to trade up are in an especially good position.
According to data from RealtyTrac, 40 percent of people with a mortgage now have at least 20 percent equity in their homes. This shift has primarily been due to robust price increases across the country. Nationally, rapid gains in sales prices have been commonplace. For example, September’s average sales price in our market was up 12 percent over last year.
"While exact data on move-up buyers is hard to come by, the share of first-time buyers has been declining, dropping to 28 percent of purchases in August from 31 percent in August 2012, while at the same time sales have surged by double digits,” reads an MSN report.
"From that, it appears second-time-around buyers are becoming a bigger part of housing sales as home prices and interest rates have started to rise."
While the housing recovery has enabled many to purchase homes for their first time, experts note that trade-up buying is another good sign the market is improving.
"An important sign of a healthy and sustainable recovery is increased housing turnover driven by trade-up buying, which is more or less discretionary spending," says MSN. "These buyers are typically more responsive to market conditions and financial incentives."
'Tis the season for houseguests! Whether you've been living in the same home for many years or recently purchased a new property, follow these tips to ensure your overnight visitors feel warm and welcome in your home.
The sleeping spaces
Whether your guests have a bed or will be relegated to a space on the floor, provide an assortment of blankets and pillows to ensure maximum comfort. While many people now use their cell phones as their alarm, you can also provide an easily programmable travel alarm clock on a small side table. Last, put out a small tray or bowl where guests can store their wallet, keys and other personal items as they sleep.
The bathing basics
Be sure to show the guests which bathroom they should use during their stay. On the counter, provide easily forgotten essentials like shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. If the bathroom isn’t connected to your guests’ sleeping space, consider lighting the way with a nightlight.
The fridge factor
Most houseguests won’t touch the cupboards without asking but you should still be sure to label anything that’s “off-limits” – lest you end up with Aunt Franny drinking all the egg nog before the party starts! Conversely, try to have a few easy-to-access snacks to tide your guest over as you prepare the big holiday meal.
It’s all relative
You know your guests and relatives better than anyone, so take them into account as you prepare your home. If your sister is a coffee drinker, be sure you can offer her some in the morning. If your cousin is bringing their three children, set out your own kids’ long-forgotten favorite toys and books to occupy them. Holiday houseguests come but once a year – by being proactive, you can ensure their visit is more pleasant than it is stressful.
Boomerang buyers - homeowners who have gone through a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy - are returning to the market in high numbers. According to John Burns, a national research firm for the housing industry, one in 10 buyers today have been through a foreclosure or short sale.
Getting back in the game
To qualify for an FHA mortgage, you’ll have to wait three years after a foreclosure or short sale. The wait can be shorter if your default was out of your control due to lack of employment, health issues or something similar. For conventional financing, you’ll have to wait four years with some wiggle room for the same extenuating circumstances.
Credit score is still critical
A high credit score is still the magic number for securing loan financing, so those who have defaulted on a loan will need to work hard to increase their score.
Still, lenders approve loans on an individual basis so even with the ding of a foreclosure or short sale on their record, hopeful buyers can prove themselves in other ways.
For more information on securing a loan after a financial hardship, reach out today. We’ll put you in touch with one of our Edina Realty home mortgage consultants, who always keep your information secure and confidential.
It's a common misconception among homeowners that plumbing maintenance is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Below, we share four easy tips to help you avoid a predicament with your pipes.
Locate your main shut-off valve
In case of a plumbing emergency, the main shut-off valve will need to be shut off. Be sure that all adults in the house know where the valve is so they can react if necessary.
Diagnose and repair a leaky toilet
Not sure if you have a leak? Pour six drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. If, after a half hour, the water in your toilet bowl has changed to the color of the food coloring, then you have a leak.
It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to a leaky toilet, and usually the issue can be fixed by the homeowner for less than $20. Simply bring a photo of the inside of your tank to a local hardware store and their employees should be able to diagnose a fix.
Clean out showers and drains
Practice preventative maintenance on your shower and drains by regularly running Drano or another cleaner through the pipes. Looking for a cheaper option? Pour ½ cup baking soda down your drain, then add in ½ cup vinegar over it. Cover the top of the drain to ensure the fizz stays down. When it has calmed, add in another ½ cup of vinegar and cover again. After fifteen minutes, wash the drain out with a gallon of boiling water.
Hire a plumber
If you have an older home or it’s been a while since you had your home inspected, consider hiring a plumber to assess your pipes. Specifically, they should look at your water heater, which is used daily, and your septic tank, which is more complicated.