Category Archives: Real Estate

Ways To Decrease Your Energy Bill This Winter

Ways To Decrease Your Energy Bill This Winter | Money Savvy Living

 

The leaves are changing colors, the days are getting shorter, and everything is being flavored with pumpkin spice. Why? Because winter is just around the corner.

 

Wintertime often evokes charming images of snow-covered mountains, holiday cheer, and warm hot chocolate by a fireside. Unfortunately, however, winter also delivers to homeowners a not-so-pleasant gift: an increased energy bill.

 

The last thing any homeowner wants is to worry about an expensive energy bill when he or she is already stressed about purchasing gifts for the entire family. After all, the holidays are supposed to be about giving, togetherness and relaxation, right? So give yourself one less thing to worry about this winter season and use these ways to decrease your energy bill this winter (so you can even afford to buy your sister’s coworker’s daughter’s dog the perfect gift).

 

Be Mindful of Unnecessary Electricity Use (And Peak Hours): You don’t have to be an energy-efficient guru to reduce your winter electricity bill, you just have to start with a few small tasks. Although it might be hard to get used to, try unplugging all devices that you do not actively use (i.e.  toaster, blender,  curling iron, etc.). These things can add up and will eventually increase your energy bill overtime. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that unused, but plugged in, devices waste over 100 billion kilowatt hours per year. So think again before deciding to leave your cell phone charging all night. It is also important to note that there are peak hours in the day where electricity is at its most expensive. Power companies charge more for electricity during these peak hours, usually between 6am to 10am and 3pm to 9pm, due to the fact that these are times when most homeowners are running their dishwashers, doing laundry and blasting their heaters. If you have a flexible schedule, consider changing the times you use the most energy to cut down on costs.

 

Lower Your Thermostat 2 Degrees: It can be tempting to crank up your heater to 80 degrees on those cold winter nights, but little do you know, wasting that heat is costing you a fortune. Consider setting your thermostat a few degrees below comfortable and add an extra blanket to your bed. Turning your heater down just two degrees, if you are running your heater for the majority of the day, can save you up to $180 per year.

 

Install A Tankless Water Heater: Traditional electric water heaters account for up to 11 percent of a homeowner’s total energy bill. They keep a tank full of water heated at all times, which is a big waste, especially for homeowners who spend most of their days at the office. A tankless water heater warms up water on demand and only as needed, which can save you the cost of having to keep 40 to 50 gallons of water consistently hot. A tankless heater typically uses 30 to 50 percent less energy than a traditional water heater and operates solely on natural gas. Another advantage of a tankless water heater is that it will provide a continuous flow of hot water. This means, if you want to reward your long day with 45 minute shower, go for it! While the upfront cost of a tankless water heater is more expensive, it is sure to keep your energy bill low for years to come.

 

Go Low-Flow: Installing “low-flow” appliances, such as sinks and showerheads, is another great way to keep your energy bill low during wintertime and beyond. Although the words “low-flow” don’t sound terribly appealing, most homeowners report that after a while, they barely notice a difference. Since low-flow appliances require less water, less energy is required to heat that water, ultimately saving you energy and money. A great tip to save you even more money is to insulate your water tank and then set the thermostat two degrees cooler. Because of the insulation, you won’t be able to tell the water is actually colder.

 

Although winter is still a few months away, it is never too early to start taking the steps that will lead you to a cheaper energy bill.

 

If you liked these great tips, you can also check out other articles that Than has contributed to Money Savvy Living:

Technology has made Buying a Home Easier for Millennials | Money Savvy Living

Technology has Made it Easier Than Ever for Millennials to Find Their Dream Home

 

*This guest post was contributed by Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders, former NFL player, author, and businessman.

Than MerrillBio: Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders, is one of the most successful real estate investors in the nation. As a graduate of Yale University and a former NFL player, Than attributes his success in sports, business, and investing to coaching and education. Than exhibited his real estate prowess as he starred on A&E’s Flip This House, is a highly sought after speaker, and bestselling Amazon author of “The Real Estate Wholesaling Bible.”  Merrill is also active in philanthropic efforts and started a non-profit charity, with his wife Cindy, called Equal Footing Foundation. In addition to his own charity, Merrill spearheaded the creation of FortuneBuilders Gives; the company’s philanthropic initiative to provide opportunities for employees and students to give back to their communities.

Connect with Than on social media:  Website \\  Twitter  \\  Google+  \\ LinkedIn

Technology Has Made It Easier Than Ever For Millennials To Find Their Dream Home

 Technology has Made Buying a Home Easier for Millennials | Money Savvy Living

 

The advent of technology is predominantly responsible for the current shape of the real estate landscape, or at least how it operates.  That said, I am convinced that those who are fully committed to adopting the latest technological trends are in the best position to capitalize on opportunities that arise in the real estate industry.

 

There isn’t a generation more prepared to harness the power of technological advancements than millennials.  Having been exposed to more technology at a younger age, it is only natural that younger homebuyers are more inclined to lean on it in their respective home searches than older generations.

 

Let’s take a closer look at how technology has shaped the way millennials research, shop and close on their first homes:

 

It has never been easier to research a respective property than it is today, and one thing in particular has more to do with making research accessible to everyone than everything else combined: the Internet.  Not surprisingly, online platforms and real estate valuation tools have left millennials more informed in their own home searches than the generations that have come before them.  With just a few clicks of a mouse and a little ingenuity, it is entirely possible for prospective homebuyers to compile a list of viable homes that meet their criteria.

 

According to the National Association of Realtor’s latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 94 percent of millennials used online portals in their home search last year.  Today, those home searches have transcended desktop searches, and now take place on mobile devices.  In fact, more than half of younger buyers preferred to search for their first home on a mobile phone or tablet.  Of those surveyed by the NAR, 31 percent of millennials and 26 percent of Gen Xers ended up purchasing the home they found on their mobile device.

 

Of particular importance, however, is the difference in volume and time spent searching for a home between those that used the Internet and those that didn’t.  According data released by the NAR, buyers who used the Internet last year spent twice as long searching for a home and saw twice as many houses than those that neglected to use online tools.

 

If for nothing else, new technology within the real estate sector has awarded millennials the opportunity to make more informed decisions.  All the information they need on a property is just one click away.  Moreover, they no longer have to settle for the houses brought to them by a single real estate agent.  They essentially have a much wider pool of properties to choose from, and can therefore be more selective in their search process.

 

First-time buyers will have a better chance finding a home they can afford today than they have in the past.  With access to the MLS, online valuation tools, and even mobile applications, millennials have every reason to shop within their means.

 

Speaking of a wider pool, more refined search results will also benefit those in search of a loan.  Outside of finding the right home, the Internet has made the mortgage process itself more accessible to those who may not understand it entirely.  It’s much more likely that millennials will turn to the Internet to help them find the right mortgage for their current situation.

 

No longer are first-time homebuyers expected to walk into a bank and accept the lending terms of the closest traditional institution.  Not unlike their home search, they can shop around for the mortgage that best suits their needs.

 

First-time homebuyers have the added benefit of being able to reference pages like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which exists specifically to help those who may have questions about the home buying process.  Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers first-time homebuyers a step-by-step blueprint and even determines how much home they can afford.

 

Armed with a better knowledge of how mortgages work, millennials are less likely to take on monthly premiums they can’t afford, which, I am sure I don’t need to remind you, contributed to the Great Recession nearly a decade ago.

 

Above all else, new technology within the real estate sector has awarded first-time homebuyers the opportunity to make more informed decisions.  There may have never been another generation more prepared to actively participate in the housing sector than millennials, which bodes well for real estate and the economy as a whole.

 

I want to make it abundantly clear; just because millennials are more inclined to use technology in the search for their first home, it doesn’t mean real estate agents will be relegated to the wayside.  In fact, real estate agents are more relevant than ever.  According to the NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 87 percent of buyers in 2015 purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, and millennials are no exception.  While today’s first-time homebuyers may not need an agent to begin their search, there is a good chance they will need help interpreting the information they are presented with; someone to confirm what they read online.

 

Consequently, technology has also changed the way first-time homebuyers interact with real estate agents.  Instead of your typical phone call, it isn’t uncommon for most conversations to take place via text or email.  First-time homebuyers, for that matter, tend to place a priority on those agents who can answer their questions fast and reliably.

As millennials quietly start to represent the largest pool of buyers in America, their preferences will start to shape the way real estate business is done.  Those who become early adopters of the technology they use should be able to capitalize on what has already been deemed the easiest time to find the home of your dreams.

 

*This guest post was contributed by Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders, former NFL player, author, and businessman.

Than MerrillBio: Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders, is one of the most successful real estate investors in the nation. As a graduate of Yale University and a former NFL player, Than attributes his success in sports, business, and investing to coaching and education. Than exhibited his real estate prowess as he starred on A&E’s Flip This House, is a highly sought after speaker, and bestselling Amazon author of “The Real Estate Wholesaling Bible.”  Merrill is also active in philanthropic efforts and started a non-profit charity, with his wife Cindy, called Equal Footing Foundation. In addition to his own charity, Merrill spearheaded the creation of FortuneBuilders Gives; the company’s philanthropic initiative to provide opportunities for employees and students to give back to their communities.

Connect will Than on social media:  Website \\  Twitter  \\  Google+  \\ LinkedIn

Get Your Home Ready To Sell In 3 Simple Steps

Get Your Home Ready to Sell | Money Savvy LivingAs a licensed Realtor, I’m constantly giving advice to clients about how to best prepare their homes for showings. My recommendations don’t just come as part of my profession, but are based on my own experience as a seller. You see, over the last 14 years, my husband and I have been in the position of seller nine times. Seriously, NINE times! Each time we market our home, we follow these simple steps:

 

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter.

This can be anything from rooms overstuffed with bulky furniture, kitchen counters covered with appliances, to closets overflowing. All of these things distract from your home’s selling features. Since you will have to pack everything eventually anyways, clearing out the things that you can now, will make moving that much easier. When you pack, you will have to go through literally every item in your home. If you love it or regularly use it—keep it. If not, this is the perfect time to part with those things you really don’t need: sell items online, have a garage sale or donate charity.

The goal is to make each room feel spacious and functional. It can be a good investment to rent a storage unit for the few months your home will be on the market. It will provide a place to keep all those items that you don’t want to part with, but can’t stay at the home during showings.

 

Take Care of Deferred Maintenance

Though your home might not be brand new, it will be the buyer’s “new” home. If you want top-dollar you have to make buyers feel like they are walking into a move-in-ready home. On the other hand, if your home is full of half-finished projects or has several fixes that need to be made, you are literally leaving money on the table. Spend the time to freshen up paint and make needed repairs. Don’t forget the curb appeal—spruce up the landscaping, put down new mulch, and pressure was the exterior if needed.

 

Make Your Home Shine

Now that your home is decluttered and all of your fixes have been made, there is one final step—cleaning. This step can feel especially hard if you have children. My kids can take a beautiful, show-ready home and have it looking like a tornado came through within minutes! And since keeping the kids out of the house constantly isn’t an option, I had come up with a system to get the house ready.

  • Before your home hits the market deep-clean: wash windows, dust the woodwork, clean the carpets, scrub the bathrooms, clean the garage…you get the idea. This will make it so much easier to go through the house and tidy up quickly before showings. If the major cleaning is done it takes little effort to keep things in order.
  • Before each showing, make a “clean sweep” through each room: open the curtains/blinds, turn on the lights, and make sure nothing was overlooked.

There are a couple of commonly heard “tips” missing from my list. I don’t recommend that clients repaint their home in neutral or completely depersonalize. I think that homes void of color and personality tend to feel cold and uninviting. I’ve never removed my wedding photos from the wall or taken down pictures of my children. In fact, I advise my clients to keep these personal touches, as well as add some colorful pillows, throws, and flowers prior to showings.

Alison

 

Alison is a Licensed Realtor, Recipient of the OAR Award of Achievement, and President’s Sales Club 2013 & 2014.

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