August 10, 2007

Although our firm never represents sellers or their property, we do pay attention to trends from the marketing/selling side of the profession because it affects our buyer-clients.

Everyone likes to tour a properly staged home because it is pleasant and comfortable. But from our point of view, staging alone is seldom enough. This recent article in Realty Times moves far beyond a quick coat of paint, de-cluttering and enlightened furniture placement to stage a home for viewing by buyers. And that a good thing.

A updated and well-maintained home is what we want for our clients. Some of the old ideas of preparing a home for sale by focusing on surface fixes and cosmetic enhancements (same witch—new dress) seem to be retreating in the face of the powerful buyer’s market that has gripped so many areas. Author Al Heavens discusses ways of actually improving the product instead of simply dressing it up.

We would like to think that this represents a permanent trend driven by changing business or cultural values rather than a temporary market-driven fad. But we doubt it.

Once this current market cycle has ended…well…who knows for sure? We will keep reminding our clients to remember that a witch in a new dress is still a witch.


Cool (and FREE) Online Energy Audit

July 11, 2007

Energy Audit? How boring!

At least that’s what I thought—until I saw detailed, practical suggestions that could save as much as $1600 a year in household expenses.

This co-production of the DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is quite a device. It will take you as far as you want to go with information and strategies customized specifically for your home including pay-back times for improvements.

Here’s what they say (in part), “The Home Energy Saver quickly computes a home’s energy use on-line based on methods developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Users can estimate how much energy and money can be saved and how much emissions can be reduced by implementing energy-efficiency improvements. All end uses (heating, cooling, major appliances, lighting, and miscellaneous uses) are included.”

“The Home Energy Saver’s Energy Advisor calculates energy use and savings opportunities, based on a detailed description of the home provided by the user. Users can begin the process by simply entering their zip code, and in turn receive instant initial estimates. By providing more information about the home the user will receive increasingly customized results along with energy-saving upgrade recommendations.”

It’s easy to use, free and you can store your profile and return to it later. Did I implement all their recommendations?

Well no, but I did change a few things that promised the quickest payback for the investment. I figure I’ll save at least a few hundred dollars this year in reduced water costs with my new low volume flushing toilets. (Believe it or not they work great!)

And the new energy efficient picture windows have already reduced drafts and made my front room more comfortable. Of course they also conserve heating and cooling energy—so I’m saving money there.
I’m not the only one who found this site helpful. Find out how you can make your life better and reduce your household costs at the same time.

Check it out. Let me know how it worked for you. [George Black]