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Time for a Toilet Upgrade

Time for a Toilet Upgrade

Upgrade Your ToiletWhether it is a cosmetic or a mechanical reason for upgrading a toilet, you may not know all the choices that are involved to choose the right one for your home.  The current toilet may have cracks or leaks in the bowl or tank.  It could be the aggravation of constant clogging or inefficient flushing.  Maybe there is damage in the porcelain bowl or built-up mineral deposits that are clogging the inlet holes or siphon tube.

If frequent repairs have you on a first name basis with the plumber, it may be time to consider replacing the toilet.  There are a lot of things to consider and the following list may help you sort through the choices.

  • Round, oval or compact oval … There are two basic shapes of toilets: round and oval.  The round bowl requires less space and are less expensive.  The oval or elongated tend to be more comfortable but require more space from the wall than round ones.  Most manufacturers produce a compact oval model also.
  • One-piece, two-piece and wall hung … Manufacturers make one-piece models that mold the tank and bowl into one unit.  These can be a little more expensive, but they take up less space.  The two-piece with separate tank and bowl are more common.  The wall hung requires less space and make the room look larger, but installation will be more expensive.
  • Height … Standard toilet height is 15 inches.  An alternative to the standard is a comfort height which is more like a chair at 17-19 inches tall.  This can be an advantage for older and taller people as well as those with a mobility problem.
  • Trapway – The trapway is a channel from the bottom of the bowl to the drainpipe that also keeps gas entering the home from the sewer.  While the trapway shows on the outside of most models, there are skirted or concealed models available for a more aesthetic appearance.
  • Single or dual flush … Single flush toilets use the same volume of water each time it is flushed.  Dual flush toilets have two options for flushing liquid or solid waste.  This gives the user the ability to conserve water when appropriate.
  • Water per flush … In an effort to save water, in 1995 the Department of Energy required toilets to use 1.6 gallons per flush.  Since then, California and Georgia, increased the restriction to 1.28 gpf which saves 20% more water.
  • Gravity-feed or pressure assisted – For four hundred years, gravity has been used to move the water through a flushable toilet bowl to eliminate the waste.  As water restrictions were added, pressure assisted toilets were introduced to assist the lower volume of water.  A sealed cylindrical tank inside the ceramic toilet tank provides the additional pressure.  These types of toilets are nosier than conventional flush types.

Once you’ve decided on what features are important, you can shop brands that fit your needs.  If you’re curious to what kind of a job it is to install it, there are lots of videos on YouTube that will show you in detail what to expect.  Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, you’ll understand the process more.

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.

Going Green

Going Green

How many times have you heard the phrase, “location, location, location”? Most likely, it’s something you’re well acquainted with, especially in the real estate world. Location and price are two very important factors in determining desirability of a house, but recently sustainability and “green” housing options have also influenced desirability. Many realtors and real estate professionals are starting to hear from clients about their interest in green or sustainable housing.

Green construction is gaining momentum. Even real estate empires are turning towards sustainable technology; think Durst Organisation’s Bank of America Tower in New York City. Even the Empire State Building has been refurbished to utilize green construction and sustainable technology. The idea behind sustainable technology and green construction works to promote an understanding of the future of our earth. “If there are going to be 9 billion people on the planet in 2050, you’ve got to feed them, house them, find them work and they’re going to need more energy,” says former JP Morgan managing director Doug Lawrence.

Not only can you take part in saving the environment, but you can also reduce your carbon footprint. Sustainable technology is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint, your impact on the environment, and even change your finances by changing your utility payments.

Sustainable Technology

The number of homes being built in the United States with environmentally friendly features is only increasing. From 2006 to 2010, the percentage of these homes increased from 2% to 16%. That’s a big change for only a few years!

In 2013, nearly 400,000 households had rooftop solar panels according to an assessment done by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hopefully, that number will grow past 900,000 households by 2020. Combine those numbers with homes that are using environmentally healthy products or appliances like green label flooring, energy efficient appliances, and alternative energies… and you’ve got millions of homes “going green” throughout the country.

Environmentally sustainable housing options are increasingly common, even if a house isn’t entirely “green”. There are so many ways builders and developers can add in sustainable features to the homes they’re creating. To get a better understanding of those housing features might look like, here are some “green” or sustainable housing options:

  • Solar panels
  • Natural lighting
  • Water conservation
  • Energy star appliances
  • Renewable energy
  • Rain water collection
  • Recycled materials
  • Use of local materials

Is Energy Efficiency or Sustainable Technology for You?

If you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts.  For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue. Solar Power Authority is a fantastic resource to use in order to determine whether you can afford solar panels. Check them out here, and get a free quote on solar panel implementation.  Not only will you find out local costs of solar panels, but you’ll also be able to find industry leaders throughout the country.

Using the Real Estate Experts advanced search function, you can discover what homes near you are outfitted with your preferred green building features. Optional features include:

  • Active Solar Design
  • Drought Resist Landscaping
  • Electric Car Charging Station
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Exhaust Garage Fan
  • Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Geo-thermal HVAC System
  • High Efficient Toilets
  • Insulated Basement Walls
  • LED Lighting
  • Solar Hot Water
  • Locally Sourced Materials
  • Low Voc Paints/Seals/Varnish
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Programmable Thermostats
  • Radiant Barrier Roof Deck
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Sealed Attic
  • Sealed Combustion FP
  • Solar Passive Heating
  • On Demand Hot Water Circ
  • Solar Power Photovoltaics

Real Estate Experts

Are you interested in finding a home with green or sustainable features? Environmentally friendly homes don’t have to be as expensive as you think. At Real Estate Experts, we’re current on green living, energy efficient homes, and even sustainable options. We’re excited to help you find your dream house, and outfit it with whatever sustainable options that work for you. If you’re looking to build a home, we’re happy to help connect you with builders in our network who feature energy efficiency, or green materials.

Unsure of what updates to make before selling your home? Real Estate Experts are here to help. Visit us online.  Call us today at 919-813-6449 or e-mail us at  [email protected] for additional information.




Neighborhood Spotlight: Oaks at Turner Creek

Neighborhood Spotlight: Oaks at Turner Creek

Oaks at Turner CreekIf you are in the market for a newly constructed home in the Cary/Apex area, you will want to check out Oaks at Turner Creek, a new community located off Turner Creek Road, just across the street from Turner Creek Road Elementary School. You can’t go wrong with the quality of these luxurious, energy-smart M/I Homes, coupled with a coveted Cary location (Money magazine recently named Cary, North Carolina as the best place to live in North Carolina, and the 37th  best place to live in the US.)

Oaks at Turner Creek Location

Oaks at Turner Creek Location

Oaks at Turner Creek is a private community tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life,  yet convenient to Beaver
Creek Shopping Center, Streets at Southpointe Mall, and plenty of restaurants, grocery, and big box stores. You can choose from among 45 single-family homes that are surrounded by a beautiful treed buffer. Residents will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a kids’ playground, as well as walking trails surrounding a winding creek and pond.

Also located nearby are Duke University, NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Crossroads Shopping Center, and Research Triangle Park. Enjoy walking, hiking, and fishing at the nearby Thomas E. Brooks Park.

The Oaks at Turner Creek Home Prices

Homes in the community range from 2,500 to 3,200-plus square feet with three to five bedrooms.  Homes are priced from $409,990 – $505,180. Five unique floor plans are available. Amenities include open family gathering areas, generous Owner Suites, lofts, bonus rooms, and flex rooms. Each home can be customized with plenty of options, such as a gourmet kitchen, spa baths, downstairs guest rooms, and screened-in porches. All homes will include a two-car garage.

The Oaks at Turner Creek Green Living Options

M/I Homes of Raleigh builds 100% Energy Star Certified Homes to the specifications of their “Whole Home Standard,” saving you money on your energy bills while providing you complete comfort throughout your home. M/I Homes’ green features are the result of their commitment to the ultimate energy-efficient home. Each home is wrapped in a weather-tight envelope, with every seam sealed and every crevasse caulked. Each M/I home is  independently rated to certify the energy savings. For an M/I home, you can save up to an average of 30% over the cost of home built to standard code. Their ratings even beat Energy Star® targets.

Oaks at Turner Creek Plat


To find out more about this new community in Cary or to take a look at some of the homes, contact us today at  919-813-6449 or [email protected].  When buying a home, even new construction, it is important to have a buyers agent. At Real Estate Experts, we are fierce representative for our clients and known as expert buyer agents.  
Contact us and see how we can help you find just the home you are looking for.
Is The Cost Of Solar Panels Worth It?

Is The Cost Of Solar Panels Worth It?

Solar PanelsIf you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts.  For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue.

Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells. Basically, they are unique batteries that harness sunlight, transform it into energy, and then send that energy to an inverter, which converts it into electricity to power the home. Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

However, many homeowners are unsure whether the cost of solar panels will pay off long-term, as well as how it will affect the value of their home. If you are considering solar panels for your home, here are some factors to take into consideration:

How Much Energy do you Use?

You will want to estimate the electrical needs of your home. Electricity is measured in kW, and estimates for a home in the United States place electricity use at around 1 kW per hour. The average electricity price is 10 cents per kW. Each month has 730 hours, which means the estimate for the average US home electric bill is $73. You can use an online energy calculator based on your own appliances, at sites like Save on Energy or Consumers Power, to find a more accurate estimate of your energy needs.

How Many Panels are Required?

The size of a system depends on two things: insolation and how much energy is needed. Insolation is the amount of full sun during a given period of time, and differs depending on the region you live in. In North Carolina, the average amount of full sun hours are: High, 5.05; Low, 4.00; Average 4.71. This places North Carolina at about average efficiency compared to the rest of the country. Again, you will refer to how much energy you use in order to calculate the number of panels. The average solar panel can generate around 10 watts per square foot.

What is the Cost of Solar Panels?

Keep in mind, you will be paying not only for the cost of the panels themselves, but for installation and the electrical system required to prepare your home for utilizing the energy produced. The average cost of solar panels is from $7 to $9 per watt, which means that a 5kW system could cost between $25,000 and $35,000. You may be able to take advantage of incentives offered by your utility company or other sources to offset the cost. Unfortunately, there is no tax credt available to North Carolina homeowners investing in solar energy. In 2015, state lawmakers voted to let North Carolina’s 35 percent tax credit for investment in renewable energy expire.

So is it Worth it?

There are many factors to consider before you take the plunge to invest in solar panels. The very informative website Solar Power Authority provides a wealth of detailed information to help you compare top solar companies, calculate your solar savings, and use their resources to make the best solar decision for your budget. However, if you are considering selling your home within the next several years, the return on investment will be minimal. You will not be able to add the cost of your solar energy system to the asking price of your home.

If you want to look for a home with green features, let our top real estate agents at Real Estate Experts know.


What Is A Smart Home? Are They Hot or Not?

What Is A Smart Home? Are They Hot or Not?

Smart Home

Smart homes are hot right now in residential real estate. Recent consumer polling data shows that buyers are willing to pay more for a smart home.  A survey of nearly 22,000 prospective buyers conducted by John Burns Real Estate Consulting earlier this year found that buyers are prepared to pay thousands of dollars for smart home products.

What is a Smart Home?

What is a Smart Home? There has been some confusion among both real estate professionals and the public. defines a smart homes as a that which is, “equipped with network-connected products (also known as smart home products connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or similar protocols) for controlling, automating, and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety, or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer, or a separate system within the home itself.”

In order to be recognized as a smart home, the property must have a smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property or a smart temperature feature, in addition to a reliable Internet connection. It must also include at least two additional features, from this list:

  • Lighting (smart light bulbs and lighting systems)
  • Safety (smart fire/carbon monoxide detectors, and nightlights)
  • Entertainment (smart TVs and TV streaming services)
  • Heating/Cooling (smart HVAC system, smart fans, or vents)
  • Outdoors (smart plant sensors and watering systems)
  • Security (smart locks, smart alarm systems, or cameras)
  • Temperature (smart thermostats)
  • Appliances (smart refrigerators and smart washer/dryers)

Currently, less than one percent of homes fit the smart home definition. However, experts predict that applications of home technology will climb to a $71 billion dollar market by 2020, an increase of nearly 30 percent. Although it may cost more at the outset, smart home systems can provide long-term savings by adjusting the house temperature based on the homeowner’s lifestyle, saving as much as 20 percent on the homeowner’s heating and cooling bills.

HGTV’s Smart Home in Raleigh

Smart Home Thermostats

The HGTV Smart Home 2016 contains three Nest brand smart thermostats.

This year,  HGTV selected Homes by Dickerson to build the “HGTV Smart Home 2016”.   The home features the latest in remote control features such as appliances, window coverings, built-in charging stations, a house-wide audio system, and skylights. This home helped peak interest in smart homes nationwide, especially since HGTV was giving the home away. (Theresa Smith of Glenwood, Maryland, was the lucky winner).

According to Ron Reinbaum, Senior Vice President of home promotions for Scripps Networks, Smart Homes are here to stay, and not just for the well-to-do. “Costs vary widely by product, builder, and region, but rest assured there is smart home technology to fit just about any budget,” he said. “Whether you’re building a new home from the ground up or retro-fitting an existing home, the resulting energy efficiency helps offset the cost of going with the upgraded technology. And the good news is that, just like any new technology, it becomes more and more affordable as time goes on and additional options hit the market.”

To learn more about Smart Homes and explore a “living lab,”, visit  If you are thinking about building or buying a smart home, contact us today at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected]. Visit us online at