Jodi Bakst, Author at
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.

A Year-over-Year Update of Our Market

A Year-over-Year Update of Our Market

Today I’m here to bring you the numbers from our market.

The number of home showings in our market this April compared to April of 2018 was 67,507 and 77,455, respectively—a year-over-year decrease of 13%. When compared to March of this year, showings for April were also down 12%.

Traditionally, we tend to see the highest volume of showings in the month of March, so it’s not unusual to see a month-to-month drop between March and April. Be that as it may, the dropoff between April 2018 and this April is a bit more surprising.

This gives us every indication that the market is not quite as strong and fast-paced as it was last year.

Inventory was at 5,432 homes in April of this year and 5,516 homes in the same month last year, which constitutes a 2% increase. Additionally, we’ve seen an increased number of year-to-date closings.

However, when looking at inventory and closing statistics for our resale market, both have flattened out. This is a testament to the fact that the strongest source of growth in our market is in new construction.

The average closing price in our market has risen by about 5%, making it $333,000. More specifically, prices have increased by 3.7% in Durham, decreased by 7% in Orange County, increased by 6.2% in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro market, and increased by 6.3% in Chatham County.

Currently, homes are spending an average of 55 days on the market, which is a bit longer than we’ve been accustomed to lately. In Durham, homes are moving at a much more brisk pace: 29 days on average. Even still, that’s an 11% jump compared to last year.

As for Orange County, the average days on market is 43 days, which is a 13% rise. A similar effect is being felt in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, where homes are sitting on the market for 47 days, which is a 4% rise.

The average days on market for Chatham County has actually decreased to a whopping 55 days. This is due, in large part, to a large number of new construction homes under the $350,000 price range that have been springing up.  

Year to date, 51% of the inventory that has come onto the market has been priced at or below $300,000, and of that 51%, 77% of inventory has gone under contract or closed.  

Suffice it to say our market’s inventory is amazingly low on the whole. To break it down, the supply of inventory is as follows: 1.5 months’ worth in Durham, 2.6 months’ worth in Orange County, three months’ worth in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and four months’ worth in Chatham County.  

Price range and location are the two factors that make all the difference in the level of competition in your particular market. The North Chatham County market is a prime example of this. There, if your home is priced between $600,000 and $700,000, you’re in a much more buyer-friendly 10 months of inventory.

If you’d like to know how your home stacks up against the rest of the market, please reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to run the numbers with you and talk about the market!

How to Collect Rent and What to Do If Your Tenant Doesn’t Pay in Hillsborough

How to Collect Rent and What to Do If Your Tenant Doesn’t Pay in Hillsborough

A good tenant pays rent on time every month, but sometimes even good tenants run into trouble and your payment may be late once or twice during a tenancy. That’s understandable, but a tenant who chronically pays late is a big problem.

Increase the chances of having your rent paid on time with a solid rent collection policy, consistent consequences, and flexibility in how the rental payments are made.

Do You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Do You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very serious issue. The CDC has said that over 10,000 people each year get treatment for some kind of carbon monoxide poisoning, and well over 430 people die each year as a result.

Because of this, state legislatures across the country have changed the rules about when a carbon monoxide detector is required in a home or a rental property.

If your house or rental property uses gas in the furnace, stove, or any other appliances, or if you have an attached garage, a carbon monoxide detector is required by law. Even if the home doesn’t have gas appliances but it has an attached garage, it needs a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home.

Well over 430 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Why is there such a focus on garages? Well, in the event that a car housed in the garage was left running, the deadly fumes could get into the home.

I can say that once I learned about this rule, I immediately went out and replaced my carbon monoxide detectors on each level of my home. I recommend that you do the same, or at least replace the batteries in the ones you currently have.

If you have any questions for us about buying, selling, or investing in real estate, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Your Guide to Tenant Screening – How to Find Quality Tenants for your Burlington Rental

Your Guide to Tenant Screening – How to Find Quality Tenants for your Burlington Rental

Placing a well-qualified tenant is an important part of having a positive rental experience and a profitable investment experience. Many landlords don’t take the time and invest the resources that are required to screen thoroughly. That’s a big mistake. The wrong tenant can cost you money, cost you time, and deliver a lot of stress that you don’t need.

Follow these tenant screening tips to ensure you place a tenant who will pay rent on time, take care of the property, and follow the terms of your lease agreement.

Check Employment and Verify Income

Your application should collect all the information you need about a tenant’s employment and income. You want to be sure he or she earns enough to cover the cost of rent. Contact the employer to verify that the applicant is employed in the position listed, and that the dates of employment match up. Then, ask for salary information. Not every company will be willing to provide that, so you may need to ask your applicant to provide pay stubs.

If your applicant is self-employed or retired, ask to see tax returns or bank statements. Industry best practices say that you want to see income that’s at least three times the monthly rent. So, if your property rents for $1,000 per month, you want income that’s at least $3,000 per month.

Look at Credit and Criminal Histories

When you’re checking for criminal history and eviction records, it’s important to go beyond the county and look at nationwide records. This can be done with a few services online, or you can work with a property management company to check for criminal backgrounds and credit issues. Perfect credit will be hard to find, but set some standards for what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Medical debt hits a lot of people, and you might be okay with that. However, a long list of debts owed to utility companies and former landlords should cause you some concern about renting to that applicant.

Talk to Current and Former Landlords

Landlord references are critical and can give you a good idea of how your applicant has performed in the past with rental properties. Make sure you get accurate landlord information. Tenants with a bad rental history will likely not want to share the names and phone numbers of their actual landlords and property managers; you may find yourself talking to friends and family members. You can check property records to make sure you’re talking to the right person, or do an internet search for the apartment community the tenant once lived in.

Ask former and current landlords if rent was paid on time, or how many times it was late. Find out if there were any lease violations or incidents of property damage. Did the tenant have pets? Did the tenant receive the full security deposit back? Always ask if they would be willing to rent to that tenant again.

Working on a ComputerRemember to comply with all fair housing laws while you’re screening tenants. If you need help with this, contact us at Real Estate Experts. We’d be happy to be part of your leasing process.

Real Estate Experts provides comprehensive property management services in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Durham, N. Chatham County, Cary, Morrisville and now Mebane and Burlington, North Carolina.

Visit our new web site at or give us a call at 919-928-5131 x 1 to discuss our property management services.


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