Jodi Bakst, Author at
Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Installing solar panels on your home offers many benefits—some you might not be aware of.

Why install solar panels on your home?

When you install solar panels, they become your home’s energy source. You can wipe out not only your current energy bill, but also any future increases to that energy bill. Solar energy is clean, renewable, reduces pollution, and reduces your carbon footprint.

There’s one more benefit to using solar energy, but time is running out to take advantage of it. 2019 is the last year to take advantage of the 30% federal income tax credit you get if you install solar panels. Next year, that tax credit will be reduced to 26%. In 2021, it gets reduced to 21%. Then in 2022, it drops all the way to 10%.

In years past, some states offered additional tax credits, but that’s not available in North Carolina anymore. If you live in an area where Duke Energy is your utility company, however, they offer a 40% to 50% rebate for using solar energy.

Now that you know the benefits, what about the cost? In the US, the average cost of installing solar panels after the 30% tax credit is between $10,000 and $14,000. For example, let’s say you install panels that cost $20,000 and your yearly federal income tax bill is $7,000. Since $20,000 times 30% equals $6,000, you’d only owe $1,000 on your federal income tax.

There are a lot of other factors to consider to calculate your exact cost like what your total energy needs are, which panels are most appropriate for your home, which system you plan on installing, etc. The best way to calculate these expenses is to contact a qualified solar installation company, and in the Triangle area, I can’t speak highly enough of Southern Energy Management. If you contact them, they’ll come out to your house and give you a full cost analysis. To find out more, check out their website

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of installing solar panels or you have any other real estate questions I can answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Do You Really Need a Buyer’s Agent?

Do You Really Need a Buyer’s Agent?

Do you actually need to work with a buyer’s agent? Actually, yes, but let’s discuss five reasons some people don’t think so.

Since the advent of the internet, buyers have a wealth of information at their fingertips. With that said, this could lead some to falsely assume they don’t need a professional agent by their side during their home search. Truthfully, though, forgoing this kind of representation is a major mistake. 

If you still don’t believe me, though, allow me to share five signs you (supposedly) don’t need a buyer’s agent:

  • You believe that working without an agent will save you money. Though many cite this as their reason for not hiring a Realtor, the truth is that working with an agent won’t cost you a dime. In North Carolina, sellers pay the commission fees for both agents.
  • You love stress. If you want to feel confused at every step of the way while buying your home, then working without an agent is a good way to do so. If you’d prefer a smooth, seamless transaction, however, you’ll definitely want to hire professional help.
  • You think the internet is the only resource you need. As I mentioned earlier, many people assume that the information they find online will be enough to guide them through a transaction on their own. Unfortunately, this isn’t so. Having the information is one thing, while knowing what to do with that information is another. Professional agents will be your best resource if you’re hoping for a stress-free transaction.
  • You don’t think you need the help. Some buyers don’t realize just how many steps go into the real estate process. When you consider everything that must be taken care of during your house hunt and beyond, though, it becomes quickly apparent that you will need expert help. Professional buyer’s agents have handled transactions like yours several times before, so you can be sure they know what they’re doing.
  • You are a fantastic negotiator. Real estate deals involve a lot of negotiating. And even if you happen to be a skilled negotiator in other spheres, chances are that you don’t have the level of real estate-related knowledge necessary to hold your own against the seller’s agent.

The bottom line is this: Many of the “reasons” people offer as to why they don’t need a buyer’s agent aren’t reasons at all. If you want a seamless real estate experience, professional representation is crucial.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Should You Sell Your Home to Open Door or Zillow? What’s In It For You?

Should You Sell Your Home to Open Door or Zillow? What’s In It For You?

Instant offer companies are commanding a strong presence in real estate, and they seem to be growing more and more popular by the day. What are they offering that some sellers can’t refuse?

These “iBuyer” companies offer to buy your home outright, which can be enticing to sellers who’d like to go straight to the closing table rather than through the process of preparing their home for the market and selling it the traditional way. Opendoor, Zillow, Knock, and Offerpad are just a few of the companies that cater to these types of sellers.

This begs the question: Why would anyone want to sell their home to an iBuyer?

Some sellers need to make a quick move because they’ve had a job change and their company doesn’t offer a relocation package; others would need to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to fix up their home for the market; still others are underwater on their mortgage and just need a quick sale.

As simple as it all sounds, there is some fine print. Instant offer companies aren’t available in every market or price point—namely, the higher ranges. If your home is worth more than $500,000, for example, chances are that no iBuyer will make an offer on it.

Part of your due diligence is to also contact a smart, skilled real estate agent who has an expert grasp of your market.

In addition to that, these companies are comprised of very savvy real estate investors, and their main objective is to make a profit. As a result, sellers who work with an iBuyer will almost always take a hit: The offer you’ll receive is usually below market value. That could mean you’re losing out on 5%, 10%, and sometimes as much as 20% of your home’s value.

Maybe you’re still convinced it’s worth it because you’re able to skip doing x, y, or z. Unfortunately, you stand to lose even more: iBuyers also charge you a fee in the 8% range, whereas the traditional agent will charge you a 5% to 6% commission. Those two factors combined are taking a big bite out of your equity.

There are two questions you really ought to consider before electing to sell to an iBuyer: Does it make more sense to work with a real estate agent who is there to protect your interest or to work with an investor who has their own interest at heart? Second, does the bottom line number actually work for you?

Now, having the power to choose is great, so if you’re in the right market and the right price range, by all means, contact an instant offer company to see what they have to offer. However, part of your due diligence is to also contact a smart, skilled real estate agent who has an expert grasp of your market.

If you have any questions or you’d like to know your home’s value and how we at Real Estate Experts can help you get the most profit out of your sale, please give us a call. We’d be more than happy to help!

A Summer Market Update for You

A Summer Market Update for You

The latest are numbers in for our real estate market and I’m excited to share them with you today. In the Triangle Area, new listings are down about 2.9% year to date. At the same time, inventory is down 8% and the median sale price is up 3%. 

The market has been pretty good so far this year, but there are indications that it’s slowing down. A healthy inflation rate is about 2%, but we’re a little below that now. A certain pressure is being applied on the Federal Reserve to decrease interest rates right now to stimulate the economy.

In the Chapel Hill market, listings are down, closings are down, average prices are up, and days on market remain flat at about 39 days. We currently have about 3 months of inventory right now—a low mark that puts us in a seller’s market.

The indicators in Durham are a little different. This year, listings are up, closings are up, average prices are up, and the average days on market is only about 23 days. They have about 2 months of inventory.

Planning in advance is easier with a local real estate expert.

If you’re thinking about selling your home anytime in the near future, it’s smart to plan in advance by reaching out to a local real estate expert early in the process.
This will help you plan accordingly, prepare your home, and get the most bang for your buck when it comes time to sell.

If you have any questions for me about the current market or about real estate in general, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Understanding the SEER System and Its Relation to Your A/C Unit

Understanding the SEER System and Its Relation to Your A/C Unit

Today, let’s talk about the things to keep in mind when it comes to replacing your air conditioning unit.

First, what is a SEER rating? Well, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio, and this basically measures the air intake and outtake of your unit and provides a rating system to weigh how efficiently it runs. Most air conditioners have a SEER rating of around 13 or 14, depending on that state’s requirements, with the maximum being 21.

I’ve personally replaced all the systems in my own home, with the exception of one little unit that is now 27 years old. It still runs, but given its age, I figure that it’s getting to be time to replace it, especially since it’s not all that efficient.

I had my trusted heating and air company come out and look at my systems, but they didn’t even price out a 14 SEER system; they said that a 14 SEER unit would eventually go out, and they instead gave me prices for 15 and 16 SEER units.

That’s when I decided to get a second opinion, but the second company to look at my units didn’t bother pricing out a 14 SEER unit, either. When I asked them why, they told me that a 14 SEER unit was exactly what I needed. The reason they gave me was related to my furnace—it was old, but not so old that it needed to be replaced. It was, however, so old that it didn’t have a variable speed motor.

This second company told me that yes, I could replace my unit with a 15, 16, or even a 21 SEER unit, but if I did, I wouldn’t get any benefit from it. That’s when the bells started going off in my head: The company that I’d been using for 15 years has been withholding information and trying to upsell me!

Since I got two different opinions on what I should do, I decided to get a third and fourth opinion. I posed the same question to companies three and four: “Does a 15 or 16 SEER system match my furnace?” Both companies were completely honest with me and told me no and that I should stick with a 14 SEER system.

Overall, the price for the replacement system went from $5,200 for a 16 SEER system to $3,150 for a 14 SEER—that’s a huge amount of savings!

After that experience, I went online to do some research. I found all kinds of information on the SEER rating, energy efficiency, and calculating cost-benefit ratios, but nothing about matching the SEER rating of a unit to the type of furnace you have.

In the end, if you want the efficiency of a 16 SEER system and you have a slightly older furnace that’s not really ready to be removed, then you’ll actually need to replace your entire furnace, too. Do you want to spend the money to replace two systems when you really only need to replace one?

The moral of today’s story is that you need to ask a lot of questions, even if you’re working with a company that you’ve known and trusted for years.

If you have any questions about this or other real estate topics, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.

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