Save Green with an Energy-Efficient Home

Save Green with an Energy-Efficient Home

Energy costs can deplete a significant portion of a homeowner’s budget. In fact, they account for almost half of a typical U.S. home’s utility costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. With energy bills rising steadily, it is even more important to manage energy costs. These tips can help you get started.


1. Schedule a professional home energy audit. A professional will assess the home from top-to-bottom, using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, the industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency is measured. Often they’ll perform a “blower door test,” which shows thermographic imaging to pinpoint exactly where energy is escaping from. As part of the assessment, they’ll also offer suggestions on which upgrades to consider for maximum benefit.

2. Check the insulation. A properly insulated home can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Not sure where to start? A significant amount of heat loss – up to 40 percent – is due to poorly insulated attics. It’s simple to determine whether the insulation is adequate. If you can see the wood joists of the attic floor, the homeowner may want to consider adding more insulation – a simple DIY project.

3. Install a programmable thermostat. Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats are automatically adjusted, and can be controlled with a broad choice of phone apps.  Homeowners are able to leave the heat or air conditioning at a lower setting during the day to keep their energy bills in check, and still come home to a comfortable house by changing the thermostat before they leave work. 

4. Conduct routine maintenance. Everyday tasks, like replacing a furnace filter, can make appliances run more efficiently and last longer. One often-overlooked chore is the draining of sediment from the water heater. Over time, sediment and mineral deposits can accumulate, reducing the water heater’s efficiency.

5. Know your numbers. The U. S. Department of Energy has issued new mandatory energy efficiency standards that affect residential central air conditioners, heat pumps and water heaters. For instance, water heaters larger than 55 gallons may require additional equipment, thereby increasing the size of some units.

6. Check the dates. The new standards for air conditioners and heat pumps went into effect Jan. 1, and the new water heater standards began April 16. However, an 18-month grace period is in place for installing non-compliant central air conditioners that were manufactured before the new standards went into effect. This grace period will expire June 30, 2016, pending existing inventory availability.

7. Utilize a home warranty contract. Some home warranty companies may help clients meet their energy efficiency goals by helping with situations that include refrigerant recapture, reclaim, and disposal; removal of defective equipment; mismatched systems; undetectable preexisting conditions; improper installations, repairs or modifications; and permits and code violations within stated limits. For more information on home warranties, services or coverage questions, contact American Home Shield at 800-735-4663 or visit

Saving money through increased energy efficiency is a win-win for a homeowner’s wallet and the environment.

This message originally posted by THE CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. ("C.A.R."). C.A.R. did not sell, rent, or otherwise provide your email address to any vendor or service mentioned herein, and C.A.R. does not in any way endorse or sponsor any product or service or vendor mentioned herein unless expressly stated.

Posted on June 16, 2015 at 9:03 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Lower interest rates and steady home prices ease California housing affordability for second straight quarter

Curious as to what you could afford in our area or across CA?

This is a great article from California Association of Realtors® summarizing all real estate markets in CA including a chart showing:

– median home price for all regions

-what the monthly payment would be for that home price

– minimum household income requirements to qualify for loan.


For release May 12, 2015

Seventeen regions see improvement from previous quarter, with Napa, Merced, Marin, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and Alameda counties leading the way

LOS ANGELES (May 12) – Lower interest rates and stabilizing home prices over the past year combined to make it easier for more Californians to purchase a home in the first quarter of 2015, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in first-quarter 2015 rose to 34 percent from the 31 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2014 and up from 33 percent in the first quarter a year ago, according to C.A.R.’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index (HAI).  This is the second consecutive quarter of improvements for the state and the highest level since second-quarter 2013. California’s housing affordability index hit a peak of 56 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

C.A.R.’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California.  C.A.R. also reports affordability indices for regions and select counties within the state.  The Index is considered the most fundamental measure of housing well-being for home buyers in the state.

Home buyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $87,700 to qualify for the purchase of a $442,430 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the first quarter of 2015.  The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $2,190, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 3.97 percent. 

The median home price was $418,570 in first-quarter 2014, and an annual income of $86,800 was needed to purchase a home at that price. The effective composite interest rate in first-quarter 2014 was 4.46 percent. 

Key points from the first-quarter 2015 Housing Affordability report include:

read more here:


Posted on May 14, 2015 at 7:52 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Freddie Mac is optimistic about 2015 for real estate

The April 2015 U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac revealed that they are optimistic about the real estate market in 2015. As a matter of fact, the sub-title of the report was “Great Expectations”. What made Freddie Mac so optimistic? Here are a few highlights from the report:

“For the remainder of the year we should see a resumption of solid economic growth and acceleration in housing activity. Notwithstanding a disappointing March jobs report the acceleration is already underway.” “With spring upon us, housing markets are poised to accelerate and we expect the best year for home sales since 2007. Despite harsh winter weather to start the year, home sales through February are only off from the 2013 pace by 7,000 sales… Pending home sales were up 3.1 percent in February to the highest level since June 2013. This marked the fourth consecutive month for rising pending home sales showing positive momentum in general for the housing market.”

Their projections…

“By the end of the spring home buying season in June, we should be well above the pace of home sales for any year since 2007.” “We are as optimistic about trends in housing markets moving forward as we have ever been since the depths of the Great Recession.”

Regarding prices…

“Due to strong growth, we are expecting house prices to increase 4.0 percent in 2015.”

But there were some warnings…

On available supply:

“With low mortgage rates, improving labor markets, and rising demand, one key issue for housing over the next two years will be the lack of supply of for-sale and for-rent homes.” “Many metro areas that have seen robust job growth and population increases are facing shortages of available for-sale inventory.”

On interest rates:

“However, by the end of the year long-term interest rates should only increase modestly, ending the year at about 4.3 percent for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

Note: Freddie Mac worded this as being not that crucial. However, a 4.3% mortgage rate is about a .75 increase over current rates.

Bottom Line

Things are looking good for the real estate market. Contact me to see how the above information applies to your neighborhood.

Posted on April 20, 2015 at 10:57 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Should you buy now or wait?

Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense
Posted: 31 Mar 2015 04:00 AM PDT
by Keeping Current Matters 

Whether you are a first time or a move-up buyer, there are two factors that will impact the amount of house you can afford in your price range: home prices & mortgage rates. Let’s look at what the experts are predicting over the next twelve months for these two areas:


Over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists were recently polled as a part of the Home Price Expectation Survey. They were asked to project where home prices are headed. The average value appreciation projected over the next twelve-month period is approximately 4.4%.


In the latest Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac, they predict that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will be 4.7% by this time next year. As of last week, the Freddie Mac rate was 3.69%.

With both home prices & interest rates projected to increase, now is the time.





Posted on March 31, 2015 at 8:56 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Home Prices – A Five Year Outlook

With inventory presently below historically normal levels, current & future home prices have been the topic of many real estate conversations. The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey was just released; giving insight into where experts believe prices will be leading up to 2019.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

Here are some highlights from their latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.3% by 2019.
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 11.7% by 2019.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 8:29 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Thank you for the love Julie Grove Miller!

Posted on February 16, 2015 at 10:49 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Updated Market Snapshot 2-9-15

Click here for an indepth market snapshot for California Real Estate

market snapshot

Posted on February 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Top 10 Markets to Watch in 2015

Markets to Watch in 2015

As the rebound effect fades, our 10 markets to watch have strong fundamentals for housing activity. These include solid job growth, which fuels housing demand, and a low vacancy rate, which spurs construction. We gave a few extra points to markets with a higher share of millennials. These young adults are getting back to work and that will drive household formation and rental demand. We didn’t include markets where prices looked at least 5% overvalued in our latest Bubble Watch report. Here are our markets to watch, in alphabetical order:

  1. Boston, MA
  2. Dallas, TX
  3. Fresno, CA
  4. Middlesex County, MA
  5. Nashville, TN
  6. New York, NY-NJ
  7. Raleigh, NC
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Seattle, WA



Posted on December 12, 2014 at 11:35 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

2015 California Housing Market Forecast

With more available homes on the market for sale, California’s housing market will see fewer investors and a return to traditional home buyers as home sales rise modestly and prices flatten out in 2015, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2015 California Housing Market Forecast.”

The C.A.R. forecast sees an increase in existing home sales of 5.8 percent next year to reach 402,500 units, up from the projected 2014 sales figure of 380,500 homes sold. Sales in 2014 will be down 8.2 percent from the 414,300 existing, single-family homes sold in 2013.

“Stringent underwriting guidelines and double-digit home price increases over the past two years have significantly impacted housing affordability in California, forcing some buyers to delay their home purchase,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “However, next year, home price gains will slow, allowing would-be buyers who have been saving for a down payment to be in a better financial position to make a home purchase.”

“Moreover, prospective buyers should know that it's a misperception that a 20 percent down payment is always required to buy a home. There are numerous programs available that allow consumers to buy a home with less down payment, including FHA loans, which lets buyers put down as little as 3.5 percent,” continued Brown.

C.A.R.’s forecast projects growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of 3 percent in 2015, after a projected gain of 2.2 percent in 2014. With nonfarm job growth of 2.2 percent in California, the state’s unemployment rate should decrease to 5.8 percent in 2015 from 6.2 percent in 2014 and 7.4 percent in 2013.

The average for 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates will rise only slightly to 4.5 percent but will still remain at historically low levels.

The California median home price is forecast to increase 5.2 percent to $478,700 in 2015, following a projected 11.8 percent increase in 2014 to $455,000. This is the slowest rate of price appreciation in four years.

“With the U.S. economy expected to grow more robustly than it has in the past five years and housing inventory continuing to improve, California housing sales and prices will see a modest upward trend in 2015,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “While the Fed will likely end its quantitative easing program by the end of this year, it has had minimal impact on interest rates, which should only inch up slightly and remain low throughout 2015. This should help moderate the decline in housing affordability we saw occur over the past two years.”

“Additionally, the state will continue to see a bifurcated market, with the San Francisco Bay Area outperforming other regions, thanks to a more vigorous job market and tighter housing supply.”

Posted on December 2, 2014 at 11:00 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |

Where Are Prices Headed Over The Next 5 Years

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why I like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.  

The results of their latest survey

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.8% in 2014.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 23.5% by 2019.
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 15.1% by 2019.

Individual opinions make headlines. This survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 10:56 am
Kara Brem | Posted in Uncategorized |