In the wake of the 'Great Recession', many homeowners were left with homes that were no longer worth the mortgage they paid for the home. For example, if you paid $500,000 for your home (Home 1) with a $400,000 mortgage, and Home 1 is now worth only $300,000, you are 'underwater'. With so many underwater homes, the number of short sales increased dramatically in the past 5-8 years, to the chagrin of many homeowners in neighborhoods where property values were effected. No neighborhood was safe from this, and consequently, short sale and foreclosure prices met market value (so many of these sales caused regular prices to factor in these distressed prices) and there were no longer 'good deals'. These sales became a burden, instead of an opportunity.
Here in 2016/2017, now that less foreclosure inventory is coming on the market, and short sales are no longer 50% of all sales, the market has improved greatly. However, there are still many homeowners waiting on the sidelines to sell, but don't want to risk their credit to unload their property (by using a short sale option).
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney nor a mortgage broker. Please seek professional advice before taking action on what I write. Or call me, I'll hook you up with the right professionals.
I want to tell you about an experience I have had that really must be shared and passed on to anyone who owns a home. It should save you money in the long run, so I think it’s a worthwhile read.
In many states, there are companies that do what is called a Home Energy Audit, where they spend the better part of the day making your home more energy efficient. This service includes replacing all your light bulbs with 90% efficient LED bulbs, caulking around windows, doors and trim, replacing shower heads, and weather-stripping the doors that require it (and more).
The crew begins by looking around, and making sure the home is safe – in other words, if you have mold, asbestos, etc, they will require those things taken care of before doing anything. Otherwise, Javier and Chris, Team 1, began by giving me advice, and a whole boatload of advice (I will share after I finish my story). Then they began to complete the tasks I mentioned, while taking size measurements of the home for insulation, looking at appliances and checking if they are eligible for upgrades, and so much more. They insulated around pipes from hot water heater/boiler, they replaced the shower heads with brand new, more efficient heads, and just kept going. It was amazing.
After they finished, they ran a blower-door test (that is what I called it). Basically, they took a big fan, sealed the main, front door with plastic, and assuming all doors and windows were shut, took a reading to determine how much air was being pulled in through spaces you might not otherwise see (e.g. holes in the walls, in between trim, and around doors/windows). After the control test, they caulked in as many places as possible, finished with the weather-stripping of other doors, and then ran the test a second time, getting a differential reading after the fact. This information allows them to determine how much energy you should theoretically save, and that would then translate to a dollar value in savings. This information has not yet been sent to me, but after their calculations are run, based on your utility bills (which you provide), the information is given by email.
For about 6 hours of time, and $125, my home is more efficient and warmer. Now, this sounds like the story of a cheap salesman, but I really like when something gets me excited, and this did. The reason it’s so inexpensive, is because it is a government subsidized program, intended to help homeowners reduce the amount of energy they waste – I would consider it an educational experience, better than taking a class on the subject (possibly dependent on the technician).
There is so much more to this program, and it might seem too good to be true, but the purpose is to make our homes more efficient, and to save money for years. If you are income eligible (see picture on left), you can get this test for free. At the end of the day, they gave me some rebates for appliances, geothermal, insulating the whole house, and more. Instead of spending top dollar, you can get some money back. If income eligible, you might be able to get some of these upgrades for free (again, subsidized by the government). I love green initiatives, and this was the tip of the iceberg. The tips and bonus tricks below were all extra value provided by my team to me, so I will share. End of salesman-ey rant.
What I Learned
The first tidbit of information requires me to generalize: most homeowners looking to save on utility bills, immediately jump to needing new windows, a furnace, insulation, etc. However, save yourself the money, and prioritize what you could do in the following order to help your energy efficiency:
If you spend the time caulking and spray foam insulating where appropriate, both costing under $10, you can go a long way towards reducing the air that comes in. This in and of itself will dramatically help (hence why it's mentioned in the tips below as well).
To that end, here are some tips:
I am a big proponent for eliminating your carbon footprint, so every effort you make not only saves you huge amounts of money, but also is part of what you should do as a human on earth to help in small ways.
As I mentioned, the point of this is not to sell you something, the point is to save you money, and make you more comfortable in the cold months. I did this Home Energy Audit on my home, and on a few properties that I manage a year or so ago, and decided it was time to make sure anyone and everyone knew about it.
Send me an email, or give me a call and I am happy to tell you about the company that I used to do this, and make sure you get connected to the guys that came here. I don’t offer this information freely only because I want to explain a few more things about income eligibility that I would prefer not to write here. Javier and Chris gave me a slew of little suggestions to help get into income eligibility status, and other tips to help you get more out of this program.
Even if you do not qualify for income eligibility, the program is well worth the $125.
Good luck, and have a great winter!
You are a seller, and you might not know me - or you do, maybe you were referred to me from a past client, or maybe we have done business together.
In any case, my goal in this business is to leave you more educated when you leave me than at our first contact. To that end, I determined it might be valuable to have a transparent breakdown of what happens after that first contact when selling a home, so you can understand why and how I do this process.
So, after first contact, we would have decided upon a time to meet in the next few days, in order for me to meet you, and see your home. This is important because as I price the home, having seen the home allows my information to be most accurate, and thus the price more accurate. The alternative is a much wider range of sales price, with no guarantee as to whether that would work out, in the end.
This might seem like a pushy/obligatory meeting, but it is not. I come with clipboard and tax card, and we meet for the first time; You then show me the property, and tell me all about the pros and cons.
More than likely, this first meeting would include some value-based suggestions regarding cleanup, staging, and de-cluttering. These suggestions are given with intent to manage your expectations: if we work together to sell the home, I expect you to do everything to can to take these suggestions, as they result in higher prices and quicker sales (there is a method to my madness!).
As you might know, my goal is to educate everyone I interact with, so the least you get out of meeting with me, is information. After we meet, I do thorough due diligence:
Upon our second meeting, I share with you the information gathered, as well as a price range in which I think your home can sell. Depending on the location and price point, there are so many flexible options to listing a home at a given price, that not all is lost if our expected sales prices don't match. Please Note: I am not giving you a price in order to get your home as a listing, I am giving you a determination of fair market value.
I educate you about my marketing, and what is necessary to get the home sold (I would check out The Game Plan for more information on marketing).
If you have read this far, then you are considering going through these first steps with me. I promise to give you as much solid information as I can, with the expectation that one day you might think of me first when you decide to sell.
In any case, enjoy the information, and hopefully this process doesn't seem too overwhelming. I like to think knowing what is in store makes you feel more comfortable about this fact-seeking mission.
We (Joe and Chris Balestriere) are Realtors in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Our blog is meant to educate buyers and sellers and equip them with tools to get the most out of their Realtor, whether it is us or someone else. We focus on technology and how it enhances the work we do for our clients--we are not top CT Realtors by accident.