Realty Executives Midwest

Serving Darien, IL

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Save on Your Heating Costs this Winter

(Published on - 10/12/2016 3:23:47 PM)

The laws of thermodynamics can be expensive. When the big winter weather arrives, the heat can leach from your home through a variety of obvious and unexpected ways, resulting in high heating bills. Wouldn’t you rather put that money into holiday shopping or upgrades for your house? 

The most obvious culprits are in plain sight: Doors and windows. The weatherstripping around doors shouldn’t admit any light, and when it comes to windows, you’ll want to look for holes in the caulking. You could even upgrade your windows to double-pane, or go with storm windows to improve insulation. But the less obvious and less dramatic options are available to you, too. Here are 5 tips you may not have thought of when it comes to heating leaks and your overall energy spend:

 

  • Cover up your water heater. For $20 - $40 you can secure a water heater blanket at most hardware stores. This will help keep your water heater insulated, which in turn means the water heater will use less energy to keep you in those warm showers. You might even consider dropping your water heater temperature from 140F/60C down to a safe but reasonable 120F/49C. 

  • Swap out rugs and drapes. In the warmer months, you may enjoy sheer window coverings or go with bare floors, but in the winter laying in heavy drapes and thicker rugs will help trap heat. (Plus, it makes a room feel all the more cozy when it’s cold outside!) 

  • Shutter your fireplace when it’s not in use. Is cold air whistling down your chimney? Does your flue close completely? Unless your fireplace is in constant use, remembering to seal it up when you’re not burning wood is a good place to save. Just remember to open the flue before you use it, or else you’ll end up with a smokey hazard! 

  • Swap out your furnace filters. The harder you make your furnace work to exchange air, the more you’ll pay for it. Stay on top of filter changes in the winter. The money you spend on filters will lower your bill and help save on your furnace’s wear and tear. 

  • Invest in a programmable thermostat. From your basic clock-based models to your fancy smart thermostats like Nest, programmable thermostats will help you turn down the heat when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping. A modest expense will pay for itself many times over as the winters add up.

 

Stay warm on the cheap this year! If you find yourself looking for a more energy efficient home, we are also here to help!

Realty Executives Midwest
1310 Plainfield Rd. Ste 2 | Darien, IL 60561
Office: 630-969-8880
E-Mail: experts@realtyexecutives.com


Understanding Your Home’s Equity

(Published on - 10/12/2016 3:23:36 PM)

The dream of home ownership is about more than just a stable place to live, exempt from the whims and decisions of landlords. For many, home ownership is a piece of the wealth building picture, essential to a future retirement or financial independence. The idea is pretty basic: You purchase a home and pay it down while hoping the value of the home increases over time. Generally speaking, this is what happens over a long enough period of time. As you go, you build what’s called “equity.”

Equity is defined as “the market value of a homeowner's unencumbered interest in their real property—that is, the sum of the home's fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property.” If you were to sell your home and pay off the balance of the mortgage (and any other debts, such as home equity credit lines or liens), the cash you would have leftover is your equity. Your “equity position” changes over time due to a variety of factors.

As you’ve probably noted, the biggest variable in your home equity position is the home’s true market value. A variety of factors can influence your home’s value, including: Market demand for homes in your area, local amenities, schools, your home’s particular features, upgrades you’ve made, condition issues, and quite a bit more. So how can you tell your equity position?

First, you need to know what you owe on your home. This is as simple as checking your mortgage statement to see what your principle balance is on the loan. This number can differ slightly from your actual payoff amount due to closing dates, interest, and other issues determined during the sale, but generally speaking your principle balance is the number you need to know. If you have any other debt on the home, you need to add the value of this debt to the principle balance. This might include credit lines, liens, or second mortgages, for example.

Next, you need to know the value of your home. While there are sites such as Zillow and Trulia out there which will tell you what your home’s value is, these “automated valuation models” are generally not very accurate when it comes to your home’s value, as they exclude many crucial factors. Often they come in quite a bit higher. They can, however, give you an idea of general changing trends in your market over time.

Hiring an appraiser is one way to determine your home’s value from a more bank-like perspective. While an actual sale may be above the appraisal, this thorough, conservative option is a good way to go. The downside? You may have to pay up to $500 for the appraisal.

Of course, we are happy to help you get a handle on your home’s current value with a comparative market analysis (CMA). Just get in touch today.

Realty Executives Midwest
1310 Plainfield Rd. Ste 2 | Darien, IL 60561
Office: 630-969-8880
E-Mail: experts@realtyexecutives.com


Protecting Your Home from a Gas Leak

(Published on - 10/12/2016 3:22:39 PM)

With the winter months upon us, it's especially important to be on the lookout for gas leaks. Heaters which may not have been used recently, lines which may have been damaged in storms... they can all be the source of gas leaks.

I wanted to offer you these tips, shared by Pacific Gas & Electric in California. Did you know that an underground utility is damaged in America every eight minutes? Gas lines are among the most frequently damaged utilities.

Here’s how you can spot a natural gas leak:

  1. Smell: Natural gas supply is mixed with a sulfuric "rotten egg" smell. This way, even small amounts of gas may be detected.
  1. Sound: Hissing, whistling, or "roaring" coming from underground or a gas appliance may be an indication of a gas leak.
  1. Sight: Though gas is invisible, its effects are not. Spraying dirt, constantly bubbling water in ponds and creeks, and vegetation which always dies in a certain spot may be an indication of escaping gas.

Here’s what to do in the event of a gas leak:

  1. Alert others and move upwind from the location of the suspected leak.
  1. Do not use anything that could be a source of ignition, such as vehicles, cell phones, matches, electric switches, doorbells, and garage door openers.
  1. Call 911 to notify authorities, including the police and fire department.

If you’re planning any digging in an area where gas lines might be present, be sure to contact your utility company before you begin digging. Most companies have free services which will help you identify the location of gas lines and advise you on how to dig with those lines in mind.

Be a safe neighbor and share these tips!

Maybe you’re looking for a home with great natural gas features like an outdoor fireplace or kitchen? We would love to help you find that home today.

Realty Executives Midwest
1310 Plainfield Rd. Ste 2 | Darien, IL 60561
Office: 630-969-8880
E-Mail: experts@realtyexecutives.com


Promises of a Great Agent

(Published on - 10/12/2016 3:22:26 PM)

There are thousands of licensed real estate agents, but of those licensed, how many are dedicated professionals? Many can make a good first impression, but to truly represent your needs, they’ll need to be able to make good on the promises only pros can make. One way to separate the pros from the merely qualified is to ask them if they’re willing to make some promises about how they conduct their business. Here’s what any great agent should be able to say from day one:

  1. “I promise to keep you in the loop and the lines of communication open.” Communication is fundamental to a working relationship, and a great agent knows that a buyer or seller may have questions and concerns which need addressing as soon as possible. You should never feel your agent is missing in action.

  2. “I promise you this is my full-time career.” Those with experience in real estate have graduated from the part-timer’s realm to the ability to support themselves with their income in real estate. People are pros when they go full-time.

  3. “I promise to be open to work with the people you want to work with.” A true professional is open to working with the lenders, insurance brokers, inspectors, and other companies you feel most comfortable with. Pros may recommend those who they know and trust, but a great agent will never confine you to their personal network of cronies. They’ll also let you know if someone you recommend may not meet their professional standards.

  4. “I promise to give you honest advice.” A professional real estate agent is engaged, concerned, and will tell give you the best counsel when it comes to serving your needs. Sometimes, this advice may not be easy to hear, especially when it comes to pricing, budget, or repairs. An agent who doesn’t give advice may well be checked-out and giving you less-than-ideal representation.

  5. “I promise a professional attitude across the board.” Honesty from your agent doesn’t mean abuse, neglect, name calling, or undue pressure to see things their way. In every interaction you should feel your agent walks, talks, and projects the image of a competent professional. Stress is part of real estate. The stakes are high and emotions are always just beneath the surface. A pro agent will have the fortitude and discipline to maintain a professional demeanor under fire. 

If agents you meet can make you these promises, are you sure they’re right for you? We can certainly make these promises and would welcome a conversation about your real estate goals this year. Should we talk soon?

Realty Executives Midwest
1310 Plainfield Rd. Ste 2 | Darien, IL 60561
Office: 630-969-8880
E-Mail: experts@realtyexecutives.com


3 Big Myths About Home Shopping

(Published on - 10/12/2016 3:13:20 PM)

I’m here to save you pain, buyers. There are myths about the home shopping experience that must be addressed. I like to make the home buying experience as stress-free as possible, so please hear me out on these three big myths about home buying:

 

Myth #1: “That house has been on the market so long I bet we can work the seller down easily.”

Not necessarily. Exceptionally high days on market could mean almost anything. The seller could be bullheaded about their price. The seller may not be particularly motivated to sell for emotional or other personal reasons. Don’t forget: A sales-weary seller isn’t likely to respond to your host of rational reasons why their house should be a bargain.

 

Myth #2: “I want to look at foreclosed homes because they’re a real bargain and the banks need to unload them.”

Banks, like entrenched sellers, don’t always make decisions which seem rational based on obvious information. You can have a hard time divining the reason a bank chooses to reject an offer for a foreclosed or distressed property, and their decision may be based on financials which seem counterintuitive. The truth is, many distressed sales can be longer and more fraught than regular sales.

 

Myth #3: “I liked this house a lot, but with this market, I bet it will still be there if I decide to buy it.”

It’s very, very painful to see a client love a home but fail to make a move to purchase that home. If you fell in love with it, why wouldn’t someone else? Just because a property has been on the market a little while doesn’t mean it will stay on the market. The bonus myth in this one? Your “perfect” home is probably going to be a home with some small compromises. If you don’t make an offer on a home, you’re effectively saying, “I’m comfortable losing this home.”

 

My job as an agent is to represent your interests and do my best to protect you along the way. If you’re pursuing a home purchase in the near future, please get in touch. There are many other ways I can lower your stress and help you find a great home.

Realty Executives Midwest
1310 Plainfield Rd. Ste 2 | Darien, IL 60561
Office: 630-969-8880
E-Mail: experts@realtyexecutives.com


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