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Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Today I want to discuss ways you can reduce the amount of waste you’re producing in your home. You may have noticed in past blog posts that I regard myself as an environmentalist and I care about how much waste I’m generating and the size of my carbon footprint. Saving the environment is critical to me. I’m sure you will also see this in future blog posts. But maybe these tips will give you some ideas of ways you can cut down waste in your own home.

Cited below for your convenience are timestamps that will direct you to various points in the video. Feel free to watch the full message or use these timestamps to browse specific topics at your leisure: 

0:05: Introduction
0:40: Composting
2:00: Visit CompostNow.org for help with composting
2:10: Use a SodaStream
2:40: Replace plastic bottles with reusable ones
2:55: Buy products with recyclable packaging
4:00 Choose Earthborn and Open Farm dog foods
4:20: Recycle coffee grounds
5:05: Use paper products made from bamboo and sugarcane
5:20: The company Grove Collaborative has bamboo and sugarcane products
5:25: Wrap up

If you have any ideas to diminish waste that you’re using I would love to hear about them. If you have any further questions about reducing your carbon footprint or concerning real estate please feel free to reach out to me by phone or email, I would love to help you.

What Property Management Companies Do & Why You Should Hire One

As a real estate investor, hiring a property management company is one of the best decisions you can make. 

Property management companies protect your investment and reduce your stress by taking care of it for you. Property managers who negotiate leases, handle rents, and take security deposits must be licensed real estate brokers. As licensed brokers, we operate under clear practical and ethical standards.

Specifically, there are several things a property manager can do for you. 

First, they can valuate your property so you know how much rent you can get. Next, they’ll position your property for renting the same way an agent positions a home for sale. Tenants today are as picky about which properties to rent as they’d be if they were going to buy, which means property managers must have high-quality systems in place to market your property. They can also screen your tenants, which is a critical process because you want tenants who you’re confident will take care of the property and pay their rent on time. 

Good property managers will communicate with you on a consistent basis


Some people think the most important thing a property manager can do is collect rent, and we agree that this is important, but it’s equally important that your investment is protected and maintained properly. When you switch tenants, we don’t want you spending a lot of time bringing the property up to par. We want you to spend the least amount of money possible and just handle basic wear and tear. Property managers also handle things like move-in and move-out inspections and all types of repair issues—no matter what time of day. 

Furthermore, good property managers will communicate with you on a consistent basis so you know which bills are being paid, what your monthly profits are, and how your accounting looks. 

We at Real Estate Experts go above and beyond for our property management clients, and one thing we do that very few other companies do is physically visit the outside of your property on a monthly basis and the inside on a quarterly basis. This way, we get a good look at the whole property and can take care of any problems. The other benefit of this is we develop great relationships with our clients, which minimizes any potential disputes and helps make sure the rent is paid on time. 

If you have any more questions about what a property management company can do for you, visit our website or drop us a line. We have plenty of property managers who’d love to speak with you. 

Rent, Sell, or Keep: What to Do with Your Home After Downsizing

Rent, Sell, or Keep: What to Do with Your Home After Downsizing

Downsizing your home

What To Do With Your Home If You Are Downsizing

As you grow older, downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home seems like an increasingly attractive option. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a complicated process. Before you even start dealing with the move, you need to decide what you are going to do with your existing family home. In this article, we will go over a few of the basic things to keep in mind.

Selling the House

This is perhaps the most obvious solution, and the one most people choose. After all, most people will need the cash from a home sale in order to be able to afford to buy a new place. However, it’s important to actually understand the local market before deciding.

According to the Triangle Multiple Listing Service, the average home in Chapel Hill sells for $400,000, and homes take an average of 62 days to sell. This is because Chapel Hill is not a particularly competitive market. What this means is that you cannot be guaranteed a quick sale.

This becomes especially relevant if you are selling a big family home. According to Business Insider, the large multi-bedroom homes owned by boomers are becoming harder to sell to the younger generation. In other words, your big house may be hard to sell, and you are less likely to make as much profit from downsizing.

There is also the matter of downsizing your possessions. Selling the house means you likely have to get rid of many items and furniture. You need to be organized and have a plan to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed. My Move recommends starting early and starting small, prioritizing the rooms you won’t have in your new house (like an attic or home office).

Renting Out the House

Renting out your house is a great option if you plan to sell the house someday but would rather hold onto it for now. Rent does not bring in a big cash sum, but it can provide a regular, ongoing source of income. This can be more convenient in terms of cash flow for someone on a fixed retirement income.

The average rent for a three-bedroom apartment in Chapel Hill is $1,875, and this is likely to be higher for a house. If you are looking to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center (average rent $1,068.75), you could be looking at a net monthly profit.

If, on the other hand, you are buying your new home, things can be a bit more complicated. For seniors, Bankrate recommends looking at 10-year or 15-year mortgages, which will allow you to pay off the smaller home faster. Using the SmartAsset calculator, we can see that a 15-year mortgage on a $400,000 home, with a $50,000 down payment, would cost almost $3,000 a month. If you wanted to pay off your mortgage with your rent income, your down payment would have to be as big as $200,000.

Of course, these are all approximate figures, which will vary pretty significantly. It is worth noting that a senior could get a traditional 30-year mortgage, which would be a lot easier to finance using rent income. However, experts do tend to recommend seniors minimize debt in retirement, and this may not be the most convenient option.

If you are considering renting your home, Real Estate Experts property management group will take care of your all important investment — your home.  If you want to learn about property managers and what we do and what Real Estate Experts does to protect your home, watch our video about What Property managers Do and visit our web site.

Keeping It in the Family 

This is obviously the best option if there is someone in the family who actively wants the home. There are several options here, from giving the house as a gift to passing on the mortgage to your family member. Each has its own tax implications, so do plenty of research before deciding. For instance, if you try to sell your house to a relative for a big discount, the IRS will still count this as a gift, and the gift tax will apply.

Deciding what to do with a family home when downsizing is never an easy choice. There are a lot of complex financial factors but also significant emotional and practical ones. For this reason, you need to give yourself plenty of time to consider all these carefully and discuss them with your family if needed. In other words: When it comes to downsizing, don’t rush things!

Real Estate Experts can help you evaluate your home and help you make the decision about selling or renting.  The foundation of our business is that is It All About You.  Our goal is to help you make the best decision that meets your family goals.  Contact us anytime!

How You Can Put Down Less Than 20% and Avoid PMI

How You Can Put Down Less Than 20% and Avoid PMI

How can you make a down payment of 20% or less and avoid PMI?

To start, you must have really good credit. In other words, your credit score must be in the high 700s. There’s a strong correlation between your credit score and how much mortgage insurance you pay—stronger than the correlation between your credit score and your interest rate. 

For example, let’s say you purchase a house for $230,000, you put down less than 5% for a conventional loan, and you have a credit score in the 700s. In this scenario, your PMI will be a little over $2,600. Lenders have different programs for all types of buyers, and if you have good credit, there are plenty of options available to you, but in this case, you have three choices in terms of what you can do with that PMI. 

First, you can take that entire $2,600 sum and add it into your loan. In effect, you would finance it, but you wouldn’t pay it on a monthly basis, which would leave your regular monthly payment at about $1,056. Second, you can just pay it monthly, which would increase your monthly payment to $1,105. Lastly, you can pay the $2,600 sum up front with your 5% down payment, which would decrease your monthly payment to $1,044. 

This was an actual scenario one of my clients faced recently, and she chose option No. 1. Keep in mind, though, that this is a simplified scenario because with each option there will be different interest rates and cash-to-close amounts, depending on which programs your lender offers. 

Whether you have good or bad credit, there are all types of programs available to you, so the best thing you can do is talk to a good lender and find out which one best suits you. To find a good lender, reach out to your Realtor and have them help you. Odds are, they work with plenty that they’d be happy to recommend to you. 

Here at Real Estate Experts, we work with an excellent selection of lenders that we can put you in touch with, so if you’d like to know more about this topic or you have any other real estate questions, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to speaking with you. 

An Update on the End-of-Summer Real Estate Market

An Update on the End-of-Summer Real Estate Market

Here’s a quick overview of the Triangle Area market as of August 2019:

In Chapel Hill, the year-to-date closed sales were down by over 9%, average prices increased by 4.4%, and the days on market was about 39 days. Additionally, there were three months of inventory available. That sounds really low, but the reality is that it’s actually a bit higher than surrounding counties except in Chatham County, which has about 4.4 months of inventory available. 

In Durham, the number of closed sales was up by around 7%, and the days on market were really low—it took just 22 days for the average home to sell in Durham. In terms of supply, Durham has just under two months of inventory available.

In terms of the averages for the overall Triangle area market, here’s what we saw for September:

  • Closed sales are up year over year by 2.6%
  • The average sales price is up by 4.3%
  • It takes homes an average of 31 days to sell
  • The Triangle area has an average of 2.5 months of inventory

The low inventory in our market isn’t necessarily stimulating an uptick in the market, and pundits are saying that it’s due to the lack of affordable inventory and the increase in prices that are holding the market back.

 

When the market is slow, I recommend that you find a qualified buyer’s agent or listing agent who will help you navigate the market so that you get the best deal.

 

While I agree with that, I also want to add that there are a lot more people out there who are choosing to rent over purchasing a home. So even though inventory is low, there just aren’t as many buyers out there. But you never know what could happen in any given market on any given day at any given price point. Just two days ago, I put a $259,000 home on the market in Chapel Hill (which is a very good entry price for the area) but I got four offers as of shooting this video.

In the end, when the market is slow, I recommend that you find a qualified buyer’s agent or listing agent who will help you navigate the market so that you get the best deal, regardless of market conditions.

If you require such an agent, or you have any questions, reach out to us. This is what we do every day, and we would be more than happy to help.

 

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 southern-energy.com.

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.

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