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How to Prepare Your Home to Save on Summer Utility Bills

By Ameeta Jain, HomeSelfe Co-Founder
Summer is right around the corner! When the temperatures heat up, you may notice that your utility bills slowly begin to increase as well. But don’t worry, there’s still time to prepare your home to save on utility bills this summer.

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Start with these simple tips:

Install a programmable thermostat.

Newer thermostat models allow you to set different temperatures for various times throughout the day. For example, you could set your thermostat to turn off while you’re at work and then cool down right around the time you’re on your way home. These programmable thermostats allow you to cut back the energy used by your air conditioner and therefore save on utility bills.

Apply window film.

You may have heard that installing drapes or blinds on your windows will help you cut down on the heat that flows into your home, which is true. However, some homeowners are hesitant about blocking their beautiful views with thick drapes or opaque blinds. A great option for homeowners to use that will allow them to see out their windows while also blocking heat from entering the home is window film. The best part? Many window films are designed for an easy install. Just measure the size of your window, cut the film, and stick it on to start your journey to save on utility bills.

Clean your air filters.

What’s one thing that could be standing between you and your ability to save on utility bills? Dirty air filters. Regardless of what kind of heating and cooling unit you have, cleaning the air filters on a regular basis is important, especially before the hot summer months. When filters get dirty, the heating and cooling system has to work harder and consume more energy to do its job. With clean filters, the system can cool your home more efficiently and help you save on utility bills.

Collect rainwater.

Are you living in an area that experiences heavy rainfall during summer? If so, consider using rain barrels this summer to collect rainwater and use it to water your garden. Rain barrels, typically made of plastic or wood, sit at the end of your gutter downspout and collect the rainwater as it flows out. When the storm is over, you’ll have a good amount of water that you can recycle on your garden during drier times. Using a rain barrel will help you cut down on your water use and therefore save on utility bills.

Add mulch to your garden.

Do you feel like you have to water your garden over and over to keep plants alive? Try laying down mulch throughout your garden. Mulch helps prevent evaporation so water will stay on the ground longer, giving your plants more time to absorb it. Now that your plants will be more hydrated, you won’t have to water them as frequently and will be able to save on utility bills.

Learn new recipes.

Many popular recipes require the use of an oven or stove, however these appliances can seriously heat up your home and cause you to crank down the thermostat to cool off. Before summer rolls around, think of meals you can make without these hot appliances, such as salads, sandwiches, or even recipes in a slow cooker, since these appliances don’t emit as much heat.

Remember, although these tips are for summer, they can be used year-round. It’s always a good time to reduce your energy consumption and save on utility bills!

Source: HomeSelfe

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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Sell Homes Faster with a Home Stager on Your Team

Think you have all the players in place on your real estate team? Think again if you’re missing a home stager. This important role takes a special interest in how the homes you represent are portrayed to buyers.

Home staging, according to the Real Estate Staging Association, is the act of preparing and showing a property for sale. It is a systematic and coordinated methodology in which knowledge of real estate, home renovations and creative design principles are applied to attract a buyer. Preparing the property involves all or part of cleaning, de-cluttering, updating and repairing, while showcasing is the process of arranging furniture, accessories, art and light.

Staging is not a new concept, but many real estate agents are misled that this powerful marketing tool is expensive and time consuming. Therefore, they only bring on a stager when the home is vacant or has a complicated layout.

But, let’s face it all you have to do is look at the multiple listing photos online to realize that all homes can benefit from at least one aspect of home staging. We know that a homebuyer will base his or her decision on buying within seconds of viewing the space and if it’s not a show-worthy home they see, chances are there will be no offer.

realestateteamThere are only two major factors that matter when selling: the listing’s price and condition. That’s where home staging comes in, but there is a real disconnect between what agents believe home staging actually is. The National Association of REALTOR®’s 2015 Profile of Home Staging Report revealed only 34 percent of seller’s agents stage all homes; however, 44 percent of agents surveyed suggest that the seller only de-clutter and fix property faults.

However, those tasks are a part of the entire home staging process. It’s a disappointing statistic because home staging not only enhances a sale, but it can benefit real estate agents too by beating out competition, growing business and attracting bigger payouts.

If you want to sell quickly at the highest price, pay attention to these details in a home.

Have Sellers Remember the Buyer

It’s important for a seller to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes to begin to detach from the home. This allows a seller to set their own feeling aside in the real estate transaction. Thinking like a buyer opens the seller’s eyes to the actual condition of the home and makes them more proactive to refresh their space and maintain the home while on the market.

What’s in the Details?

Home staging gives sellers a plan of action to tackle clutter, dirt and repairs before putting their home on the market. These are easy, cost effective suggestions the seller can do to make their home stand out among neighborhood competition. By removing clutter, the seller is reducing not only the amount of items in plain sight, but beginning the actual packing process. De-cluttering also makes the cleaning process easier to handle.

It’s an Emotional Roller Coaster

Home staging instantly connects the buyer to the home emotionally. Emotions are what drive a sale because the decision will affect the buyer’s family, lifestyle and reputation. When a home seller depersonalizes the house and ultimately thinks as a buyer would, that increases the chances of a buyer getting emotionally attached and truly believing the house was made for them.

Under Public Scrutiny

Home selling can be a grueling process for sellers when their lives become public display to strangers and their criticisms. If a homeowner is going to be living in their home when selling, they have to willingly be inconvenienced not only emotionally, but physically. So what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast. By having a home properly prepared for sale, you don’t have to wait a long time for the right offer, which means you don’t have to sit on the market constantly trying to upkeep the space.

Assessing Minor Repairs

A major detail that will deter low-ball offers is making necessary minor repairs. A home has to be worth the price tag that you’re trying to sell it for and home staging can not only deter low offers, but increase the value.

Before you list your next house consider consulting with a home stager to find the best way to transform a home, and get the deal closed quickly and stress-free.

 

Tori Toth is the Amazon best-selling author of “Feel At Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell.” She is also the founder of The Stage 2 Sell Strategy, the world’s first online home staging video course for home sellers. In 2009, Toth opened her staging company, Stylish Stagers, Inc., in New York City.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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6 Essential Things to Look for in a New Home

By Kara Masterson
Investing in real estate is one of the most financially sound things you can do, but buying a new home might feel intimidating when it is your first time. It is understandable that you’d want to make the best decision possible. Here are six things to look for that can help with your decision.

Efficient HVAC System

Heating and cooling count for a large percentage of a home’s monthly operating costs. An outdated heating and air conditioning system will drive up your bills and decrease your comfort. Make sure the HVAC system is one of the newer efficient models and has been well maintained.

Good Layout

Decorating a home is easy and inexpensive, but big renovations like knocking out walls or adding rooms can drive up your costs later on. It is better to start with architectural details that you already enjoy. Pay attention to how one space flows to another, ceiling height, number of rooms and the amount of natural light.

A Sturdy Roof in Good Repair

Many homebuyers forget to check out this important home feature. A damaged roof can indicate water damage and mold problems elsewhere in the home. Your real estate agent can supply you with information about any recent upgrades to the structure and a professional home inspection can supply you with any other data you need to know before making your decision. These agents can also help you find solid listings of homes that have recently repaired.

Upgraded Plumbing

Old homes can possess a lot of charm, but if you are considering buying a piece of vintage real estate, make sure you have the plumbing checked. Old metal pipes can leak or might be corroding and adding visible sediment to the water supply. Upgraded plumbing helps you avoid problems such as burst pipes and high water bills from inefficient plumbing features.

A Great Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. Even if you don’t plan to spend a lot of time there, you will want to make sure the kitchen adds a lot of value to the home in case you put it back on the market in the future. Renovating a kitchen can be costly, and so it is better to start out with a kitchen you know you can live with and enjoy.

The Right Number of Bathrooms

Adding a bathroom is not a simple task. Don’t settle for a home that lacks the right number of bathrooms to match your family’s needs. Two bathrooms at minimum are ideal.

Remember that details such as cabinet color, carpeting and other decorative features can be changed when you tire of them, but the architectural bones of the home is another story. Put more worth on a sound structure that you can do a lot with, and features such as a stone mantel, rather than easily replaced incidentals.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. 

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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