Saturday, March 23, 2013

SELLING YOUR HOME: Patio Appeal May Add Value To Your Home

Depending on where you live, a patio might not be the kind of thing you think about during the cold, and maybe snowy, winter months. But a patio is what many people enjoy on a sunny warm afternoon. It just feels good to sit outside and sip some iced tea or lemonade. That's the picture your real estate agent would want to capture when listing your home for sale.

Patios are appealing because they can create a sense of peace, open space, freedom, and they can seem to extend the square footage of livable space on those good weather days.

Set out on your patio some simple but comfortable patio furniture when you're listing your home and you might find that prospective buyers take a seat and think about your home. Good! Let them soak in the energy of the home. The way it feels. The way it allows them to relax. Set some brochures out on a side table. Maybe even a good book. You'd be surprised what these buyers pick up. If they enjoy themselves while sitting on your patio, you're likely to have piqued their interest in your property.

So, what if you have a backyard but no patio; is it worth investing in one? The answer depends on your financial situation but there's no doubt that having a patio or a deck - a space outdoors to relax - is a plus.

Inventory for Jamaica Plain Homes is at the lowest in many years

Inventory for Jamaica Plain Homes is at the lowest in many years

This is the lowest inventory in over 10 years and is translating to quick sales with multiple offers at over asking price. In short, it has quickly turned into a Sellers Market. Call me to find out what your home is worth.

Friday, March 22, 2013

INSURANCE: 7 Flood Insurance Myths

Much of what you know about federal flood insurance may be flood insurance myth.
Myth #1: Hurricanes, not floods, are the No. 1 natural disaster and cause the biggest economic losses in the United States.
Hurricanes grab the headlines, but because floods happen in virtually every part of the country, they cause more losses than any other type of natural disaster.
What causes floods?
  • Rising rivers
  • Storms
  • Early snowmelts
  • Manmade problems from the construction of roads, shopping malls, homes, and industrial complexes
  • Hurricanes

Myth #2: Everyone who lives in a flood zone has to buy flood insurance.

Nope. You must buy flood insurance only if you meet all three of these criteria:
  • You buy a home in a special flood hazard area where there’s a 1% chance of flooding in any year.
  • Your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • You buy your home using a loan from a federally insured financial institution, or a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-guaranteed loan.
If you don’t meet these three requirements, no one will make you buy flood insurance.

About 5.6 million home and small-business owners live in the more than 21,000 communities that participate in the flood insurance program, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Myth #3: Flood insurance is always expensive.

Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program is sometimes expensive and sometimes cheap, depending on how much your home and its contents are worth.
  • It can cost up to $6,000 a year if you buy the highest possible coverage of $250,000 and live in a high-risk area.
  • It could cost $472 for $35,000 in damage coverage in a high-risk area.
  • It can cost as little as $129 a year for $20,000 of rebuilding coverage and $8,000 in contents in a low-risk area.
Premiums vary a lot based on where you live. If you want to buy $250,000 of building coverage and $100,000 of contents coverage, you’d pay about:
  • $6,000 in a high-risk coastal area
  • $2,700 in a high-risk inland area
  • $400 a year in a low-to-moderate-risk inland area.

Myth #4: Taxpayers are footing the bill for federal flood insurance.

The NFIP doesn’t spend any tax dollars. The government sets the premium rates high enough

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SELLING YOUR HOME: Find the Best Agent to Sell Your House

Ask detailed questions about their experience and skills to help you find the right agent for your home sale.

1. How long have you been selling homes?

Mastering real estate requires on-the-job experience. The more experience agents have, the more likely they’ll be able to handle any curveballs thrown during your home sale.

2. What designations do you hold?

Designations like GRI (Graduate REALTOR® Institute) and CRS® (Certified Residential Specialist), which require that agents complete additional real estate training, show they’re constantly learning. Ask if agents have designations and, if not, why not?

3. How many homes did you sell last year?

Agents may tout their company’s success. An equally important question is how many homes they’ve personally sold in the past year; it’s an indicator of how active and aggressive they are.

4. How many days on average did it take you to sell homes?

Ask agents to show you this data along with stats from their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can see how many days, on average, their listings were on the market compared to the average for all properties in the MLS.

5. How close were the asking and sales prices of the homes you sold?

Sometimes sellers choose their agent because the agent’s suggested listing price is higher than those suggested by other agents. A better factor is the difference between listing prices and the amount homes actually sold for. That can help you judge agents’ skill at accurately pricing homes and marketing to the right buyers. It can also help you weed out agents trying to dazzle you with a lofty sales price just to get your listing.

6. How will you market my home?

The days of agents putting a For Sale sign in the yard and hoping for the best are long gone.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TECHNOLOGY: Beyond Smart Home Security, Rise of Smart Appliances Coming in 2013

A new smart home appliance survey recalls a plot in a machines-take-over movie, but the new technology can actually help save the planet as well as energy costs.
about security issues, rather than gabby appliances telling them what to do.

More than half tech-savvy consumers told CEA they wanted to be remotely alerted to security problems and smoke detectors going off when they weren't at home.

They also said, at home and away, they wanted to be able to see who is at the front door and who enters or exits their home.

Terminating high utility costs
Apparently a similar number of households want to also juice up major appliances with smarts, according to Parks Associates, an international market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services.
Park Associates said 44 percent of all U.S. broadband households would allow their power company to manage and monitor their home appliances to reduce energy consumption and save money.

They may just get their wish.
"Manufacturers are developing connected appliances to stay competitive in a mature market, where connectivity can differentiate products and add value through remote monitoring, enhanced functionality, and energy savings," said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls and Energy, Parks Associates.

"Appliance manufacturers LG and Samsung have launched Wi-Fi-enabled appliances, and most major manufacturers are launching new connected products in 2013, which will continue to increase consumer awareness and strengthen the value proposition of connected appliances," Kerber added.

Manufacturers have already loaded appliances with sensors that do more than manage energy use; they also enhance control and convenience.

Smarter than consumers
For example, some washing machines "know" how much water to use for a given load of clothes. Clothes dryers shut down when they become "aware" the clothes are dry, even if the consumer has set the timer for a longer drying duration. Microwaves "sense" when a casserole has been zapped long enough.

Park Associates says households also want machines with smart troubleshooting features to help resolve appliance problems.

Perhaps, one day, they'll repair themselves.

The research and a recent energy summit, "The Role of Cloud-based Services and Connected Appliances in Energy Management," do however have an ominous "rise of the machines" ring to them.

Let's just hope this isn't the beginning of Skynet, the antagonist in the Terminator movie series - self-aware AI machines that ban together as war machines to replace humans.
But seriously, "The appeal of energy monitoring for appliances could be boosted by educating consumers about appliance energy consumption, which would ultimately provide more savings to consumers," Kerber said.