It’s that time of year again in Greater Oakland County Michigan when winter approaches, so there’s no better time then now to give your home an energy check up. Energy costs have shot up, and you may be paying a lot more than necessary to be comfortable in your home throughout the year. Most homeowners in Greater Oakland County have a number of easy, inexpensive options for reducing energy consumption and energy bills. The older your home, the more likely it is you can dramatically cut your utility costs, improve your comfort level and be environmentally responsible in the bargain. As we can clearly remember Winter 2013 in the Greater Oakland County area was the toughest in years and it really took a toll on may homeowners and their tight budgets.
Here’s where to look for opportunities to save as much as $500 a year on energy expenses:
Heating And Cooling Systems
- How old are your systems? If brand-new, you’re likely to have super high-efficiency units. If less than five years old, they’re likely to be high efficiency and certainly worth keeping. Older systems may or may not be costing you more money than necessary. If yours are 20 years old or more, replacing them could keep you more comfortable and cut your utility costs by a third or better. You may want to look at solar heating (free energy!) as part of a heating system upgrade. Though the initial investment in any new system may seem steep, consider that dramatically lower bills will recoup your cost in just a few years. After that, it’s pure savings.
- Make sure your heating and cooling systems get a tune-up every year. For under $100, a professional cleaning and maintenance check annually should more than pay for itself.Do you change your systems’ air filter monthly? Doing so costs little, but improves system efficiency, thereby saving money.
- Do you have an electronic thermostat? If not, install one and program it to use less energy (higher temperature in summer, lower in winter) while you’re away from home during the day, and at night while you sleep.
- Before going on vacation or a business trip, turn the thermostat down to 55°F in winter, or up to 80°F in summer. That’s comfortable enough to keep indoor plants alive, and to keep pipes from freezing during cold weather.
- How old is your water heater? Is it a high-efficiency unit? If your heater has given you 10 or more years of service, you would probably save money by replacing it.
- What temperature is your water heater set to maintain? Most factory settings are at 140°F, usually higher than necessary for a ready supply of hot water. Experiment with turning the temperature down and see if you even notice a difference. Start with 130°. If you find that adequate, drop it to 120°.
- Don’t forget to turn the water heater way down (preferably off) when you’re away from your home on business trips or vacation. Why pay for hot water nobody is going to use?
- Does your water heater have an insulating blanket? Are exposed hot water pipes wrapped in insulation? Keep them wrapped and you’ll spend less.
- Have you installed low-flow shower heads? Again, the cost of the fixtures will be repaid with annual savings, not only in reduced energy to heat the water, but also in lower water bills.
Air In/Air Out
- Do your outside walls and attic have insulation in them? To check the walls, remove a cover plate from an electrical outlet on an outside wall. If you can’t find any insulation, make the investment to minimize the amount of expensive “conditioned” air that escapes your home. Also consider adding attic insulation if you have 3″ or less. Go up to 12″.
- Do some of your air ducts run through your attic or basement? Make sure they’re wrapped in insulation.
- Does your home have more than one return register per floor? It probably should. No matter how many you have, make sure they are not blocked by furniture or curtains.
- Do you use your old fireplace? Though charming, fireplaces are certainly not energy efficient in today’s homes. Consider replacing it with an airtight woodstove or fireplace insert that sends heat back into your home.
- If you must use your old fireplace, make sure it has a flue that closes tightly and keep it closed when you are not using the fireplace.
- Does your home have new, energy-efficient windows, doors and storm doors? If not, consider investing in replacements with low-E or thermal-paned glass.
- Do windows and doors have properly installed weather-stripping and caulking in good repair? If not, it’s an inexpensive fix that takes a little bit of time but pays high rewards in savings.
- Is your refrigerator less than 2 years old and energy-efficient model? Consider replacing refrigerators over 10 years old. At the very least, replace gaskets if they no longer fit tightly.
- Does your dishwasher have an energy-saving feature? Be sure to use it!
- Consider replacing often-used incandescent light fixtures with fluorescent fixtures.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
- Use lower-wattage bulbs throughout the house.
- Replace outdoor security lights that stay on all night with motion-sensitive fixtures.
Timings everything when selling a home in Greater Oakland County. Is now a good time to sell? I think so. Today’s affordable interest rates have encouraged lots of buyers into the market — and we know who they are. If you’re ready to sell your home, listing with us will plug you into a broad network of well-connected real estate professionals in Greater Oakland County who can deliver buyers to your door. Give me a call to find out how I can help you sell your home quickly for top dollar. If you’re selling in today’s market, you want to make your house outshine the competition. Buyers in Greater Oakland County are most likely to choose your house if it offers something special. Here are 12 ways to make sure you land a “Sale, Sweet Sale.”No matter how hot or slow the market in Oakland County MI, selling a home can be a complicated and stress-provoking experience. But it doesn’t have to be! Taken one well-informed step at a time, the process can be smooth — even easy. And that’s what our HOME SELLERS COURSE is all about.The course’s 10 lessons will arrive regularly in your e-mail, guiding you through the home-sale process, step by step, from listing through settlement.
Whether your selling in Novi, Northville, West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Plymouth or any other area in the Greater Oakland County area, this information will help you stand out and get your home sold for the best price possible.
12 Incentives to Offer Home Buyers
1. Offer a warranty.
Purchase a buyer’s home warranty to protect against future problems.
2. Help with closing costs.
Cash-poor buyers concerned more with out-of-pocket costs than monthly payments will especially appreciate this one.
3. Consider financing help.
Provide seller financing or buy down the buyer’s mortgage rate for the first year.
4. Help with utilities.
Pay some or all estimated utilities for 6 or 12 months.
5. Help with fees.
Pay a year’s condominium or homeowners association fees.
6. Pre-pay memberships.
Buy a one-year pool or community golf club membership, cable TV subscription, or other recreational activity.
7. Consider a moving allowance.
Pay the buyer’s documented moving expenses, or provide an allowance toward moving costs.
8. Treat them to window treatments.
Offer redecorating cash for new carpet or drapes.
9. Mow down any objections.
Buy a lawn-maintenance service for a year, or offer a riding mower if the lot is large.
10. Give them a dock on the bay.
If you live in a waterfront community, offer to rent a boat slip for a year.
11. Reimburse buyer the cost of points.
This is often a double benefit for buyers, who save both on the points themselves and on their federal taxes. The IRS now allows buyers to deduct the cost of seller-paid points as a Schedule A mortgage expense.
12. Price your home below comparable properties.
Prove your home’s good value in greater Oakland County by having an appraisal done and setting the price below the appraised amount for better results. Ask what buyers are looking for in the Greater Oakland County area. What are they saying about the homes they don’t buy? And what is it about the homes that are selling that makes them so popular? By determining your ideal target buyer, you will better understand how to merchandise your home. My experience in your specific neighborhood can help you answer all these questions and more.
Free Home Buyer-Seller Guides are Free and no obligation, these Free Home Buyer & Home Seller Guides are very valuable for any Home Buyer or Home Seller in the Greater Oakland County Mi area. These Free Home Buyer-Seller Guides are packed with 52+ pages of information to assist Home Buyers and Home Sellers in the real estate market in the Greater Oakland County area. Buying or Selling a Home is one of the biggest investments anyone will ever make, these guides give you insightful information that is FREE and will help you sail along in the Home Buying and Home Selling process. Free Home Buyer-Seller Guides are emailed directly to your email inbox and are a valuable tool regardless if you Buying or Selling a Home in the Greater Oakland County Area.
Sign, sign everywhere a sign
We all know this song, and it couldn’t be more accurate and appropriate this time of year in the Greater Oakland County area. As a Realtor the signs are not only an annoyance but also make it very hard for my buyers to find the property as the yard signs are buried around in the mass of political signs. I’m not clear if the home buyers are offended or if the political signs have any impact on their choice of neighborhoods in the Greater Oakland County area, but some ask me more details about the neighborhoods than usual and others aren’t shy about sharing their political views.
Growing up I was told never to discuss politics with anyone, now as a relator trying to avoid my political views with my home buyers and sellers is a task, for some reason this year seems especially heated so I avoid at all cost. This political season seems to resemble the Bush and Kerry election time when that was quite heated to some. The question that bothers me is “why do some home buyers choose a neighborhood based on a political view?” some buyers not wanting to live near republican’s or others that don’t want to live near democrats. Areas in Greater Oakland County such as Novi, Northville, Plymouth, West Bloomfield and Farmington Hills seem to be diverse and reserved, but something seems to be a little different this go around.
Do the signs influence the home buyers? Do the home sellers even care?
When discussing this with my home sellers they don’t seem to care much about what the buyer thinks of their signs or political views this time around, but they don’t realize that this could be detrimental to getting their home sold in some cases but their political views are so strong it’s useless to try and convince them otherwise about their signs. Some home buyers on the other hand don’t seem to care either, once they see the signs and feel that based on the signs they are not interested in the neighborhood. A seller cannot discriminate against a buyer and it isn’t even about that, it’s about political views and not getting or finding the right home based how strongly their views are either way.
It’s important for neighbors to have common values, and for the next couple of weeks at least, values and voting preferences seem to be one in the same, but in my opinion it shouldn’t matter to either Buyer or Seller. It is their choice to have a political sign In their yard and to support any candidate they wish, home buyers if they wish can also make their decision based on any reason they wish, but as Realtor s it is a fine line to walk and can be detrimental to our hard work every day to get caught up in politics when it comes to both buyers and sellers. Me for one will be happy when this political season is over and things get back to normal for a short time, but please don’t let the signs be up all winter till spring.
When it comes to pricing your home to sell in Greater Oakland County, you’ll find lots of “experts.” The neighbors may want you to set a high price, thinking it will make their homes more valuable. Your company may encourage you to set a lower price so the home will sell quickly and you can move to your new assignment. You might be thinking in terms of what you paid for your home, how much you’ve spent on it, or how much profit you want from it.
But who sets the price? When you put your house on the market in Greater Oakland County, you set the asking price. But it is the market that determines the selling price. If the asking price is set correctly, the house is likely to sell fairly quickly. If set too high, the house may languish on the market, unseen by the right buyers.
Pricing It Right
A correct asking price is crucial to a timely sale. That’s where we come in. But how do we know how to advise you on price?
- First, we look at the prices brought by similar homes recently sold in the area, and compare their features to those in your home.
- Then we survey the competition, seeing what homes are currently on the market, how they compare to yours and how long they have been up for sale.
- Next we look at how the number of buyers compares to the supply of homes for sale.
- We take stock of the direction of the market. Are prices rising or falling? Are homes selling quickly for the asking price?
- Finally, we look at the incentives other sellers are offering, such as paying some closing costs, and what conveys with the property, like draperies or washer and dryer.
As you noticed, neither how much you paid for your home nor how much money you wish to profit from the sale affect the market value of your home.
Avoid “Testing The Market”
Many times, sellers are tempted to price their homes a little high in hopes of getting more money from the sale. But often the opposite happens, and they sell – after a long time on the market – at a price below what the home would have sold for if it had been priced correctly at first. This is because most buyers look only at homes they can afford.
- If a home is overpriced, many potential buyers don’t bother to consider it because the asking price is above what they can afford to pay.
- Buyers who do tour the overpriced home see that it doesn’t measure up to others in the same price range.
- By pricing the home close to market value, on the other hand, the sellers make the most of their best opportunity to sell to the home’s true market during the highest traffic period – the first weeks after the new listing comes out. That’s when real estate agents call in the buyers they have been working with to see what’s new on the market.
“The best game plan is to price your home over market to give yourself room for negotiation if offers come in low.”
REALITY: Most homes sell within 5% of what similar neighborhood homes have recently brought. Pricing your home too high will actually scare buyers away. They’ll assume you are unrealistic and likely to be difficult to deal with. In addition, buyers who believe your home is out of their price range won’t even look at it.
The best way to deal with a low offer is by making a counteroffer or rejecting the contract outright. Having an experienced real estate agent in your corner will help you price your home to sell quickly, while netting you the best possible return.
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