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Posted by Julie Shanks on 12/1/2019

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of your home. Each room in a house requires its own tone and brightness.

In the bathroom, you’ll want bright vanity lights to see what you’re doing in the mirror. In the kitchen, you’ll want plenty of natural light to work by in the morning, and lights bright enough to see at night. The home office is a matter of personal preference--some people like bright lighting to keep them awake and alert, whereas others like to work in a calming environment that is more dimly lit.

In addition to adding character to your home, lightning is also a matter of conserving energy. Homes that are using energy efficient lighting can save $75 a year on their utility bill by replacing old incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, energy efficient bulbs have a longer life span, so you’ll have to change fewer of them over the years.

In today’s article, we’re going to talk about energy efficient lighting for your home and which options will best suit your needs.

Traditional incandescent bulbs

Many people have gotten used to the tone and warmth of traditional incandescent bulbs. However, with these bulbs 90% of their energy is given off as heat. In terms of lighting your home, that is 90% wasted energy.

Furthermore, due to upgrades in technology, incandescent bulbs are no longer manufactured and difficult to find.

Energy-efficient options

There are three main choices available for energy efficient bulbs. Halogen incandescent bulbs can be purchased in a range of shapes, colors, and sizes for your home. Although they meet energy ratings, the other two options are much more cost-efficient.

CFL or “compact fluorescent lamps,” are about 70% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and they also come in a range of sizes and colors. However, if you’ve ever noticed some lights that take time to brighten or “warm up” you were probably looking at a CFL bulb. For this reason, they aren’t the best choice for extremely dark areas, such as a basement, where you need a lot of light immediately to find your way around.

The third option is LED lights or “light emitting diodes.” The most energy efficient of the three, LEDs are brighter and longer lasting than the other options.

While they were once the most expensive bulbs on the market, reserved for small electronics displays, LEDs have become much cheaper in recent years. They are available in various sizes, colors, and are able to be dimmed. They’ll also use the least amount of electricity over a twenty-year timespan in your home, up to ten dollars less than CFLs.

Choosing the right bulb

Now that you know about the three types of energy efficient bulbs, you’ll be able to consider their benefits and drawbacks for each room in your home. LEDs will last longer, they reach their maximum brightness immediately, and they’re able to be dimmed, making them an excellent option for most rooms in your home. However, they are more expensive on average than CFL or halogen bulbs.




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Posted by Julie Shanks on 8/26/2018

Estimating the market value of your home isn't a precise science. There are several factors that go into assessing the value of a home and the process is complicated by changes in the market that can sway home prices in either direction. Since homes are so expensive and are such a huge investment, the pragmatist and worrier in us all wants it to be a clear cut decision backed up by facts. Unfortunately, no two people will ever arrive at precisely the same number for the value of a home. The good news is that you can use this ambiguity to your advantage when bargaining with prospective buyers. To learn more about the six main factors that determine a home's value, read on.

Condition

Homebuyers don't want to walk into what could be their new house and discover months of expensive repairs and upgrades waiting for them. Especially for busy, young professionals there is great appeal in a home that is move-in ready. If your home needs some work, it will knock off some digits from your asking price.

Location

We would all love to say that having a home near the ocean or the mountains is our top priority. But, let's face it--having a place that is close to your work and that is in a good school district will probably take precedence over our daydreams. Location factors that add value to your home could include close proximity to schools, shopping, highways, and other amenities. However, if your home is far away from them or is in a neighborhood that appears run-down or dangerous you will find the value of your home decreasing. An easy way to get a ballpark figure for your home value is to look up the value of other comparable homes in your neighborhood.

Age

Age is just a really expensive number. For some, buying an old home is a dream they've always had. Old homes have character and offer challenges when it comes to DIY repairs and renovations. For others, an old home means more headaches and more expensive utilities if it's drafty or outdated.

Features

Curb appeal is important, but once your prospective buyers are inside you'll have to keep them around with great, convenient household features. Lots of storage space, updated kitchens with new appliances, finished basements, or a beautiful backyard with a view can all add thousands to a home value.

Size

Square-footage is important to many homebuyers. In spite of the current trends around minimalism and being eco-friendly, the numbers show that Americans are buying increasingly larger homes and vehicles.

Market

You've probably heard the terms "buyer's market" and "seller's market" thrown around in conversations about real estate. They are essentially descriptions of the supply and demand of homes. Many buyers with few homes means you're in a seller's market, whereas a surplus of vacant homes and few prospective buyers means it's a buyer's market. This is closely tied to location, different cities and suburbs experience different rates of growth and decline depending on the local economy.




Tags: Real Estate   home   home value   value  
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Posted by Julie Shanks on 5/20/2018

Two terms that you may have heard when talking about real estate is fair market value and assessed value. These two terms are not the same or even interchangeable terms. 


The assessed value of a home can often be higher than the price the house is being sold. These properties can often be seen as a “bargain” in the real estate community. The problem is that this is often a red flag. The property may be overassessed by the town which means the taxes are higher than necessary. 


Homes can also be listed at a higher price than the assessed value. Contrary to popular belief, a low evaluated cost doesn’t mean that the value of the home is less than the asking price. The asking sale price for a property is based on many factors, none of which are what the town deems the property is worth. 


Fair Market Value


Fair market value is what a buyer is willing to pay with no outside influence. As a homeowner, the best way to determine the fair market value of your home is to look at what’s real estate agents call a “Comparative Market Analysis” or CMA. The agent will look at similar properties in the area that have recently sold- generally within the last six months. This analysis will often include things that the assessor doesn’t take into account when pricing a home.


The Appraisal


When you buy a home, and the appraisal is done for the lender when the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, the purpose is specific. The lender is protecting themselves and the buyer. The lender wants to be sure that the property they are lending money on has a value greater than or equal to the purchase price of the home. Appraisals are also done in this manner when homeowners are refinancing the house. 


Challenging Assessed Values


Often, homeowners will buy a property and then later challenge the assessed value of a home for tax purposes especially if the owner feels that the assessed value is worlds apart from the fair market value of the home. If you believe that the assessed value is out of sync with the fair market value of the house and out of line based on the values of another home in the town, you need to file what’s called a tax abatement. Your city or town hall has all of the necessary information for submitting these forms. From there, each city and town has their own timelines for how long the tax assessor has to address this.                  




Tags: home value   best value  
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Posted by Julie Shanks on 12/31/2017

Shopping for a house is a high-stakes game. If you’re a first-time buyer, it can be difficult to gauge the value of various components and features of a home. Appraisals are designed for just this reason.

However, an appraisal is a subjective tool to determine a rough estimate. Furthermore, there are a number of things you can’t learn from an appraisal--such as how convenient the home would be for your work commute.

In this article, we’re going to help you, the homebuyer, determine the true value of a home as it would mean to you in your everyday life. Read on for tips on finding out the value of that home you’ve been dreaming of and deciding whether it’s really the best home for your budget.  

Appraisals are a baseline

When lenders are in the process of approving your home loan, they’ll want to decide whether the home you’re buying is worth the amount you’re paying. To achieve this, they’ll typically hire a third-party appraiser.

Find out from your lender which appraiser they use and read their online reviews. This will ensure that they’re a trustworthy source of information. Also be sure to check that the appraiser is certified and that they work with a diverse range of clientele (not just your lender!).

Since you’ll likely be paying the appraisal fee as part of your closing costs, make sure you’re happy with the appraisal and appraiser.

Key appraisal factors

After the appraisal, consider getting a second opinion or inspection of any of the key components of your home that may impact the appraisal. Some of these factors include:

  • The roof, HVAC system, and septic systems

  • The energy-efficiency of the home

  • The current market value in the area

  • The general upkeep of the home--a few cosmetic problems shouldn’t affect the home value much, but serious neglect can cause long-lasting and expensive issues like mold, water damage, pest invasion, and more

What an appraisal can’t tell you

Now that we’ve discussed the nuts and bolts of home value, we have to venture into what value means to you and your family. You’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions, and some of them won’t have a cut-and-dry answer.

First, how well does this home fit into the work life of you and your spouse? Will it mean a shorter commute, and therefore lower transportation costs and more free time? Putting a dollar value on an extra thirty minutes not spent in traffic can be difficult, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to take part in.

Furthermore, does the house have features that will make it a better asset in years to come? Energy-efficiency, proximity to in-demand schools, businesses, etc., can all be selling points for future buyers that are willing to pay more for your home.


Using a combination of a certified appraisal and some introspection, you should be able to come to a confident conclusion as to the value of the home as it means to you and your family.




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Posted by Julie Shanks on 12/3/2017

There’s no doubt that we all have our preferred colors, whether it’s for our cars, our clothing, or our homes. However, there are colors that are favored over others--colors that work well in any environment.

When it comes to painting the inside and outside of your home, good colors decisions can make your home appeal to more buyers and get you higher offers.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about which colors are ideal for your home if you’re hoping to increase its purchase value.

General rules for choosing paint colors

While there are specific colors and techniques for each room of a home, there are also general rules that apply to painting in general.

First, note that it is pleasing to the eye if a room transitions from dark to light vertically--the floor being the darkest, the wall color in the middle, and the ceiling the brightest. While we can’t say with certainty why that is, a good guess would be because that’s house things usually appear in nature, with the sky being the brightest thing in your line of sight.

Next, understand that painting with darker colors and matte finishes may make a room appear darker and smaller. Glossy or semi-gloss paint with bright colors will reflect more light and make a room look and feel more spacious.

You may have noticed some homes tend to have a continuity to them that is hard to explain. There’s a good chance this is because of the colors used. Having a color palette for your home that uses different shades of a color is a good way to tie the whole home together

Finally, while there are many colors that will work in various rooms of the home, blue happens to be the most preferred color to new buyers. It’s a safe bet that a light blue will work well if you’re at a loss for what color to paint a room.

Next, let’s take a look at each part of your home to find the best colors to use.

  • Exterior. Choosing exterior colors, such as your siding, doors, and trim can be a difficult decision for most homeowners. It’s a good idea to stick with colors associate with the architectural style of your home. Also, be sure to take note of the colors in your neighborhood--you don’t match your neighbors completely, but you don’t want to stand out too much either. A good way to differentiate your home is to use a bold accent color on your front door or shutters.

  • Kitchen. The kitchen should be a warm and welcoming place. Colors like white, gray, and light red all work well in the kitchen. Choose a color that doesn’t overshadow your appliances and cabinets--let those be the bold colors of the room.

  • Bedrooms. Bedrooms, especially children’s rooms, are a place where you have more room to experiment with fun colors. Nearly any color can work in a bedroom, even darker colors, if complemented by light-colored decorations and furnishings. If your master bedroom has a bathroom connected to it, try using the same or a color that will complement the bedroom.

  • Home office. Offices are surprisingly versatile. Many different styles work for different people and their vocations and hobbies. If your home office has a classic look--wooden desk, gold lamps, etc.--a brown or tan color will work well. However, if the office is more modern and creative, a white, gray, or bold green or blue are fitting.

  • Bathroom. For the main bathroom, use a bright color as bathrooms tend to be one of the smaller rooms in a home. Bright colors are also easier to work in the mirror by to improve lighting.




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