Energy-Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Soaring temperatures comes with sky-high energy bills. If you’re looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency as your HVAC kicks into overdrive, consider adding these energy-efficient home hacks to your weekend warrior to-do list.

Increase Insulation
Air leakages can occur anywhere in your home, resulting in your AC unit having to work that much harder to keep your home comfortable. Adding a new layer of insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy-efficient. Best of all, you can do this easy hack yourself! Before laying any new insulation, be sure to plug up any large openings and seal off small cracks, especially around attic hatches, window frames, and electrical outlets.

Smart Home Automation
It seems like almost every electronic device now has a smart alternative on the market. Though it’s easy to write off this technology as a luxury, most of these devices can actually go a long way in helping to reduce your energy usage each month. Whether it’s a thermostat that learns your family’s habits or a dishwasher that only runs during off-peak energy hours, smart home appliances and devices can go a long way in helping curb your family’s energy demands.

Close Your Blinds
Sometimes the best hacks are also the easiest—and cheapest! By simply closing your blinds, especially for south- and west-facing windows, you have the potential to save upwards of 7 percent off your energy bill, as well as lowering the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees. Considering that almost 30 percent of unwanted humid summer heat comes in from your windows, it makes sense to drop the shades on the afternoon sun. Better yet, if it’s in your budget, replace those worn-out windows altogether. ENERGY STAR has found that most homeowners can expect to see an average 12 percent drop in their home’s energy consumption after replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified alternatives.

Landscape to Lower Energy
Think of landscaping as your exterior blinds, and plant a few trees along the south side of your home to help block direct sunlight from ever making it to your windows. Ensure that any tree you plant is a leafy variety, rather than an evergreen, so that you can get exceptional shade in the summer and plenty of warming sun in the leafless winter months. Similarly, plant evergreen shrubs around your home’s foundation to add year-round insulation.

Cooking Counts
Summer is virtually synonymous with grilling, but did you ever consider just how much energy you can save by sparking up some charcoal instead of your oven? Not only will you be sparing yourself any operating costs, but you’ll also prevent your HVAC from having to combat the added heat your culinary masterpiece is likely to create.

The best way to make your home as energy-efficient as possible is to have a professional perform an energy audit. The typical audit usually only takes a couple hours of your time, but it has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in reduced energy expenses year-round. With a little planning ahead and a few upgrades, you’ll be saving energy daily!

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Energy-Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Soaring temperatures comes with sky-high energy bills. If you’re looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency as your HVAC kicks into overdrive, consider adding these energy-efficient home hacks to your weekend warrior to-do list.

Increase Insulation
Air leakages can occur anywhere in your home, resulting in your AC unit having to work that much harder to keep your home comfortable. Adding a new layer of insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy-efficient. Best of all, you can do this easy hack yourself! Before laying any new insulation, be sure to plug up any large openings and seal off small cracks, especially around attic hatches, window frames, and electrical outlets.

Smart Home Automation
It seems like almost every electronic device now has a smart alternative on the market. Though it’s easy to write off this technology as a luxury, most of these devices can actually go a long way in helping to reduce your energy usage each month. Whether it’s a thermostat that learns your family’s habits or a dishwasher that only runs during off-peak energy hours, smart home appliances and devices can go a long way in helping curb your family’s energy demands.

Close Your Blinds
Sometimes the best hacks are also the easiest—and cheapest! By simply closing your blinds, especially for south- and west-facing windows, you have the potential to save upwards of 7 percent off your energy bill, as well as lowering the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees. Considering that almost 30 percent of unwanted humid summer heat comes in from your windows, it makes sense to drop the shades on the afternoon sun. Better yet, if it’s in your budget, replace those worn-out windows altogether. ENERGY STAR has found that most homeowners can expect to see an average 12 percent drop in their home’s energy consumption after replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified alternatives.

Landscape to Lower Energy
Think of landscaping as your exterior blinds, and plant a few trees along the south side of your home to help block direct sunlight from ever making it to your windows. Ensure that any tree you plant is a leafy variety, rather than an evergreen, so that you can get exceptional shade in the summer and plenty of warming sun in the leafless winter months. Similarly, plant evergreen shrubs around your home’s foundation to add year-round insulation.

Cooking Counts
Summer is virtually synonymous with grilling, but did you ever consider just how much energy you can save by sparking up some charcoal instead of your oven? Not only will you be sparing yourself any operating costs, but you’ll also prevent your HVAC from having to combat the added heat your culinary masterpiece is likely to create.

The best way to make your home as energy-efficient as possible is to have a professional perform an energy audit. The typical audit usually only takes a couple hours of your time, but it has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in reduced energy expenses year-round. With a little planning ahead and a few upgrades, you’ll be saving energy daily!

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Energy-Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer appeared first on RISMedia.

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$699,900 :: 1901 KENWOOD CRT, Birmingham MI, 48009

Property Photo

3 beds, 4 baths
Home size: 2,790 sq ft
Lot Size: 13,068 sq ft
Added: 08/29/17, Last Updated: 08/30/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21362299
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: HARROWGATE
Status: Active

A rare find lst floor master in the highly coveted Quarton Lake Estates. This fabulous three bedroom, two full and two half bath Cape Cod is located on a quiet cul-de-sac and features a custom gated entrance with fountain. Upon entering you proceed to a living room with marble surround gas fireplace, a beautiful lst floor master suite which flows into a lovely sunroom overlooking private professional landscaped yard with fountain, gardens and brick paver patio. The large open kitchen boast granite countertops, a peninsula, hardwood floors, sunny breakfast room, 1st floor laundry, two car attached garage, 1st floor library with custom paneled walls and cathedral ceilings, the two large updated bedrooms have hardwood floors and great closets, finished lower level features a natural fireplace, exercise area, work area and great storage. The house also includes a generator. See Listing Broker for Exclusions

Listed with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Winning Over Weeds

Gardening can be so idyllic—pruning abundant rose bushes, harvesting ripe tomatoes, nestling colorful annuals into window boxes…then there’s weeds.

Even the most enthusiastic gardener can become overwhelmed and disgruntled by an onslaught of weeds, taking the joy out of yard work and wreaking havoc on one’s back. Here are some strategies from FineGardening.com for winning the battle with weeds, both for your peace of mind and your garden’s good health.

Don’t awaken weeds. Every inch of soil contains weed seeds, but only those closest to the surface receive enough light to grow. Don’t unwittingly promote weed growth by turning and digging soil unnecessarily.

Don’t skimp on mulch. Not only does mulch make your garden beds more attractive, it helps prevents weeds by blocking out the light. Keep in mind, however, that chunky mulch allows some light in and certain mulch is full of weed seeds, so make your selection carefully. If you’re feeling ambitious, lay down a layer of fabric or cardboard and place the mulch on top. This will ensure no light and no weed seeds infiltrate your soil.

Weed after rain. Wet weeds come out much more easily than dry ones, so be sure to head out promptly after a storm. If you’re left to tackle dry weeds, use a hoe or steak knife to slice them right below the soil line.

Plant close together. Instead of spacing your plants out, place them closer together so that they’ll form a natural light barrier as they mature. This is a long-term strategy, but will help lead to weed-free gardens in your future.

Water selectively. Don’t accidentally encourage weed growth by watering them. Instead, employ soaker hoses and watering cans to water just your plants, as opposed to wide swaths of your garden where weeds lie in wait.

Most importantly, weed often. Letting the chore go will make weeds more prolific and more difficult to pull out. Arm yourself with these strategies and put weeds in their rightful place.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Low-Income Renters Struggle to Afford the Least Expensive Apartments

Housing affordability is a critical issue for low-income renters, many of whom do not have any emergency savings Continue Reading →

Most Important Features Millennials Want in Their Homes

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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There have been a lot of studies, think pieces and discussions trying to figure out millennials. Business owners were skeptical about hiring millennials a few years ago and now, as this younger generation continues to grow and succeed in life, the housing market seems to be the next millennial-facing industry.

There’s no doubt that millennials have finally entered the housing market. In fact, they currently make up 35 percent of buyers throughout the United States. Approximately 68 percent of all first-time home buyers fall into this age bracket, as well. But what do they want inside their homes?

Let’s take a look and see what millennials are looking for when it comes to buying a home.

Separate Laundry Rooms – Say what you will about millennials and their laundry habits, the majority of millennial homebuyers are searching for homes with an additional room just for laundry. Roughly 92 percent of homebuyers want a separate laundry room, coming in as the No. 1 thing millennials are looking for.

Outdoor Lighting – The second most desired feature for millennial homebuyers is exterior lighting. Roughly 90 percent of all people searching for a home in the current market want exterior lighting to illuminate their landscape.

Energy-Efficient Appliances – Another aspect of home-buying that cracks the top 10 for millennials is having energy-efficient appliances inside the home. (In fact, across every generation of homebuyers, 90 percent of people are looking for this feature.)

Hardwood Floors – Millennial homebuyers also prefer hardwood floors for their homes. Rather than choosing carpeting, approximately 82 percent of homebuyers are searching for properties with open hardwood floor plans.

There are still plenty of millennials who aren’t ready to buy a home just yet—but it looks like these are the kinds of features they will be looking for when they are ready to enter the housing market.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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$799,900 :: 2291 DORCHESTER RD, Birmingham MI, 48009

Property Photo

4 beds, 3 baths
Home size: 3,145 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,840 sq ft
Added: 08/26/17, Last Updated: 08/27/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21361465
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: PEMBROOK MANOR SUB – BIRMINGHA
Status: Active

Completion 60 days! Corner lot! Rare 3 Car attached garage! Birmingham custom colonial is currently being built and awaits you! High end quality meets custom craftsmanship in this spacious home. Featuring a stunning open kitchen, w/high end quality cabinets, granite countertops, island w/snack bar extension, large pantry, and stainless steel appliances. Open dining w/wine bar and spacious living room w/gas fireplace w/surround and recessed lighting. 9 foot ceilings and custom flooring on the first floor. Master suite with his and hers walkin closets. Luxury custom bathroom with dual sinks, large soaking tub and ceramic tile. 2nd floor laundry room. Open basement with 8ft ceiling w/egress window, High efficiency furnace and central air. Custom entry doors. Lawn sprinklers/sod. Work with our in house designer to pick out colors, selections and put your personal touches on your future home. Close to Pembroke Park.

Listed with Home Renewal Realty, LLC


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Top Entryway Decor Ideas for 2017

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By Katherine Medlin, guest contributor

The entryway is a significant space within a home — it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it sets the stage for the whole vibe of the home. Buyers can form opinions on a home within seconds of opening that front door. Your clients can make a few simple changes to their entryways to make that important first impression. Here are some hot trends for 2017.

Make the front door a focal point.

The door is the first thing visitors focus on at any home’s entryway, so make it impactful. Whether you advise your clients to paint it a bold color or add gorgeous greenery via a seasonal wreath, they can complement the home’s style and make a statement within a reasonable budget.

Invest in stylish but functional furniture.

Clients can create a welcoming vignette of furniture that beckons guests to the door. Design a space for dropping keys and handbags, and a place to sit and remove shoes. Think elegant console tables with drawers (that hide the clutter), woven baskets, and an antique rug. Remind sellers that they can take these new goodies with them when they move too!

Add art to the space.

Artwork in an entryway can make a big impact. Hang a beautiful piece of artwork or photography on the wall opposite the door. Choose carefully: You don’t want to put off buyers with something overly quirky. A mirror is a great choice and will help the entryway appear larger.

Illuminate the entryway with bold lighting.

The right lighting will give a welcoming feel to the entry, while being highly functional. Add a stylish lamp to the console table, or if the home has high ceilings or a two-story stairwell, go for a beautiful chandelier or pendant light in a timeless style.

Make a statement with striking wallpaper.

Wallpaper in bold patterns is making a huge comeback. Take a cue from designers in 2017 and work with the sellers to choose a striking paper for the entryway. This will add drama to the space and add that wow factor. To appease buyers who may not be sold on the pattern, choose a temporary wallpaper instead, which can be easily removed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine Medlin is an art historian with a keen interest in interior design and antiques. She writes for ApartmentGuide.com and the Southern lifestyle blog Pender & Peony. She is based in Knoxville, Tenn.

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$799,900 :: 2291 DORCHESTER RD, Birmingham MI, 48009

Property Photo

4 beds, 3 baths
Home size: 3,145 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,840 sq ft
Added: 08/26/17, Last Updated: 08/27/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21361465
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: PEMBROOK MANOR SUB – BIRMINGHA
Status: Active

Completion 60 days! Corner lot! Rare 3 Car attached garage! Birmingham custom colonial is currently being built and awaits you! High end quality meets custom craftsmanship in this spacious home. Featuring a stunning open kitchen, w/high end quality cabinets, granite countertops, island w/snack bar extension, large pantry, and stainless steel appliances. Open dining w/wine bar and spacious living room w/gas fireplace w/surround and recessed lighting. 9 foot ceilings and custom flooring on the first floor. Master suite with his and hers walkin closets. Luxury custom bathroom with dual sinks, large soaking tub and ceramic tile. 2nd floor laundry room. Open basement with 8ft ceiling w/egress window, High efficiency furnace and central air. Custom entry doors. Lawn sprinklers/sod. Work with our in house designer to pick out colors, selections and put your personal touches on your future home. Close to Pembroke Park.

Listed with Home Renewal Realty, LLC


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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You Don’t Have to Make a Down Payment on a VA Loan—Should You Anyway?

(TNS)Many VA borrowers know that the VA home loan doesn’t require a down payment.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which guarantees this type of mortgage, is practically famous for its zero-down option, which opens the doors of homeownership to veterans, active duty service members, surviving spouses and other VA-eligible buyers. Many VA borrowers have little or no cash to purchase their first home.

VA loans also don’t require mortgage insurance, which is usually the case when you don’t put down 20 percent.

Though a down payment isn’t required for a VA loan, borrowers can still make one. Should they? Or is the no-money-down strategy so attractive that a down payment never makes sense?

The answer depends on the borrower’s type of military service, homeownership experience, cash position and other factors.

Down Payment Lowers Funding Fee
The main benefit of making a down payment is paying a lower funding fee.

The funding fee supports the loan guaranty, which encourages lenders to offer VA loans at lower rates and with easier qualifying guidelines.

Borrowers typically finance their funding fee as part of their loan amount, rather than pay it upfront at closing.

VA borrowers in the Reserves or National Guard pay a slightly higher funding fee with or without a down payment.

Borrowers who have a service-connected disability are generally exempt from funding fees.

First-Use Funding Fees Lower With Down Payment
The funding fee for eligible first-time homebuyers is 2.15 percent of the loan amount with no down payment.

With a 5 percent down payment, the fee is reduced to 1.5 percent. With 10 percent or more down, it drops to 1.25 percent.

Subsequent Funding Fees Higher
The funding fee is 3.3 percent for VA buyers who use the program to buy their next home if they don’t make a down payment.

With a down payment, the funding fee for subsequent-use again drops to 1.5 percent with 5 percent down, and 1.25 percent with 10 percent down.

For example, the monthly principal and interest payment for a $200,000 home loan with no down payment, a 3.5 percent interest rate and 30-year term is $898.

Financing the 3.3 percent funding fee adds $6,600 to the loan amount and raises the payment by $30 to $928.

A 5 percent down payment reduces the fee to $3,000 and the payment to $912.

That means the borrower would save about $16 each month.

Down Payment Lowers Monthly Payment
Don’t forget that a down payment also lowers the borrower’s base loan amount and monthly mortgage payment.

“The 5 percent down payment factors in (to the savings) as well because you’re financing 5 percent less,” says Mike Dill, corporate trainer at Guaranteed Rate.

For borrowers who need to “target their payment within a certain range,” to use Dill’s characterization, a down payment could mean the difference between qualifying for the loan and not qualifying.

Down Payment Finances Future Closing Costs
A down payment could make it easier to sell a home if the buyers want to move before they build equity through monthly payments or appreciation and without paying closing costs out of pocket.

Closing costs to sell can be 6 percent or more of the home’s value.

“If you didn’t have any equity, potentially you’d have to write a check for that amount,” says Michael Frueh, director of Loan Guaranty Service at the VA in Washington, D.C.

The alternative could be a default or even foreclosure.

Other Uses for Your Cash
Despite these advantages, only 22 percent of VA buyers made a down payment in 2015, according to Frueh. The other 78 percent bought with no money down. The VA doesn’t track how many subsequent-use borrowers rolled over equity from a prior home they sold toward a down payment.

Frueh says the average VA borrower has only about $10,000 at closing.

That cash might be better used for home-related purchases, repairs or other purposes. As Dill says, “The advantages of putting money down are so slim compared with keeping that money in case you have repairs or as a safety net.”

Consider Return on Investment
Borrowers could invest the money they didn’t use for a down payment in other assets or use it to pay off consumer debt, such as an auto loan, credit card or student loans.

A borrower who purchased a $200,000 home and later sold it for $300,000 could net $80,000, use $30,000 to make a 5 percent down payment for a new $600,000 home and keep $50,000 in cash, tax-free.

Visit Bankrate online at www.bankrate.com.

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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