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 ahs.com/realestate.
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.
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: http://www.car.org/newsstand/newsreleases/2015releases/1qtrhousingaff#
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.”
“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.”
“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.
Things are looking good for the real estate market. Contact me to see how the above information applies to your neighborhood.
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%.
MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES
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.
Here are some highlights from their latest survey:
Click here for an indepth market snapshot for California Real Estate