Updates, Staging, Preparing – Oh my!

 

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High-end Kitchen upgrades

If you are considering selling your home or just want to make some improvements that will bring a nice return on investment… take a minute and read these articles!

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Copyright 2017 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

 

Got questions?? I’ve got answers – Let’s talk!

Tori Denton, PSA, Realtor

413-301-4614  or tedenton109@gmail.com

Thank you for making me #1 at Park Square Realty Westfield

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Keeping COOL Thoughout Summer

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Copyright 2017 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Shining the Light on Solar

Before you get involved in Solar energy – please do your homework. Whether you are the buyer or seller in this transaction, there are important things to consider when it comes to the transfer of ownership of your home.

 

Do you Lease or Own the panels?

OWNED PANELS: If the panels are owned by the seller, then they should be factored into the price of your home just as any other asset would be. This can usually be accomplished by searching comparable homes with owned solar panels.

A Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC): An SREC is created for every megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced by a solar generator. SRECs allow a seller with a solar array to use electricity that is produced by the panels and then separately sell the SREC to a utility company. You should factor in an SREC when valuing the asset.

Some solar owners use SREC brokers to handle the sale, so if you are a seller who is part of a ten-year SREC program you may want to consider selling your future credits through such a broker. If a seller does this, they would then value their solar panels based on the energy savings that they provide.

Buyers need to ask sellers if they are part of an SREC program and whether the SRECs will be transferred with the panels. If they are, a buyer would also want to know what the average annual output of the panels has been so that they can properly value them.

Leased Panels: If the panels are leased, it can be a bit more complicated. When a seller has leased solar panels, it is recommend that the seller contact the leasing company right away to let them know that they are planning to sell the home. In fact, some solar companies have set up departments specifically to work on lease transfers.

What’s a UCC-1: The solar company may reference a UCC-1 (Uniform Commercial Code – 1) that has been recorded with the property. A UCC-1 is a legal form that acts as a lien against the solar equipment on the property and is used by the solar companies to protect their interest in the leased panels. These finds should be recorded at your local registry of deeds. It is important to know whether or not a UCC-1 has been recorded with the property, because some lenders may have concerns that the UCC-1 will take priority over the mortgage in the event of a bankruptcy. Some companies will remove the UCC-1 filing and then replace it when the new mortgage is recorded.

Home Buyers: Buyers who are interested in a home with leased solar panels may want to remember to factor the monthly lease cost when determining whether or not you can afford the home. Your lender will most likely consider this when making a determination on your loan. Also, buyers should review your credit scores because the solar leasing companies are going to ensure that the buyer can assume the costs of the lease before they approve a transfer.

LEASED PANELS:  A seller client has three options when dealing with leased solar panels:

1. They can buy out the lease;

2. Transfer the lease to the new buyer; or

3. Attempt to transfer the panels to their new home, although this option may only be available in rare occasions.

As you can see Solar panels can at the very least complicate the purchase and sale of a house, and at the most stop the transfer all together if the item is not handled properly from the get-go! Please use caution when buying or selling a house with solar panels.

Got questions? I’ve got answers – please feel free to contact with your house Purchase and Sale concerns!

Tori Denton, PSA, Realtor®

413.301.4614

tedenton109@gmail.com

Need more information?

The Attorney General published the following helpful informational sheet on solar panels:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2016/advice-to-homeowners-considering-solar-panels.html

Source: Shining the Light on Solar BY MAR LEGAL STAFF July/August 2016

Fall, Thanksgiving, Remodeling Tips!

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Copyright 2016 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Remodeling estimates by zip code

NAHB Releases Remodeling by Zip Code Estimates for 2016

NAHB has released its latest projections of spending on improvements to owner-occupied housing by zip code. The projections show total spending on improvements, the number of owner-occupied homes, as well as average spending per improvement, in each zip code for calendar year 2016.  Also shown for each zip are 2016 projections for the five key variables NAHB uses to estimate home improvement spending in relatively small areas.

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The five variables are number of homes in the area, the share built in the 1960s, share built in the 1970s, owners’ average income, and their level of education.  To illustrate how these variables interact, consider the four zip codes where spending per improvement is over $18,000 (compared to $5,800 for the average zip code).  These four zips have relatively few homes built during the “sweet spot” for remodeling (between 1960 and 1980), but this is more than offset by home owners who are highly educated and have extremely high incomes.  At the very top of the list, spending per improvement is over $22,000 in zip code 10007 (which is in lower Manhattan and contains the World Trade Center), where 99 percent of home owners have a college degree and their average income is well over half a million dollars.

On the other hand, in the fifth zip code on the list (94028, Portola Valley in California), the average remodel is a little over $17,000, and this is driven in part by the age of the owner-occupied housing stock (with a third of it built between 1960 and 1980), although home owners in Portola Valley are also relatively wealthy and well-educated.

The zip codes where total spending on improvements is highest tend to be in large metropolitan areas and contain a large number of owner-occupied homes.  At the top of this list, NAHB estimates home owners will spend over $68 million on improvements in 2016 in zip code 20854, a close-in suburb of Washington, DC.  Zip code 20854 has over 15,000 owner-occupied homes (compared to 2,849 for the average zip), with average owners’ income slightly over $280,000.  Also, a very high 53 percent of the homes in this zip code were built between 1960 and 1980.

NAHB’s improvement spending projections for 2016 are based on a statistical model developed using data from the HUD/Census Bureau American Housing Survey and Census Bureau data for its approximation of zip-code area boundaries from the American Community Survey.

The 2016 projections of home improvement spending in more than 25,000 zip codes spanning the entire country are available for sale on NAHB’s website with discounts for NAHB members and NAHB Remodelers members.  Interested in remodeling?  Learn more about joining NAHB Remodelers.

The 2016 projections aggregated to the state level are available to everyone and are shown below:

Remod State 16

What’s new – Copper!

Copper Chic Surges (Even More)

Why it’s important: The old standby of copper—think of those pots your parents, grandparents, or Julia Child used—started its re-emergence last year. And the reason that it’s becoming a more widespread alternative to stainless steel, wood, and other materials isn’t all surface. Yes, copper can add sheen, sparkle, and a 1940s Hollywood glamour. But an equally big impetus is that it reduces more than 99.9 percent of bacteria in between routine cleanings, important because antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise, according to The Copper Development Association, based in New York.

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How this will impact real estate: This shiny, goldlike hue will become more prevalent in homes as concern grows about buying healthy houses without mold, toxins, and bacteria. To help, U.S. manufacturers are producing more options in copper than just refrigerator, oven, and other appliance fronts, the developments that initially helped revive the trend. Throughout homes, buyers can add copper sinks, door handles, light switches, and trim. To enhance its appeal, manufacturers are also expanding the types of hues available. Already, there’s a copper-penny color, brushed nickel, yellow brassiness, and bronze on the market.

Source:  Barbara Ballinger, Realtor Mag

3 Cost-Effective Home Improvements

3 Top-Priority Home Improvement Projects

Tackling home improvement projects can make the experience of homeownership even more personal and rewarding. Many of us have grand plans for DIY projects, only to put them off for months, and even years, as we try to find the money and time. So if dollars and hours are strictly budgeted, we suggest you start with these.

There are a number of value-adding projects you can start right now – even in the first year of homeownership – that will pay dividends in the long run. Keep these projects in mind:

#1: Painting

It is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a dramatic change to the look and feel of your home: painting. Whether you are painting indoors, outdoors, or both, this is a DIY project you don’t have to put off because of the money.

However, you don’t want to skimp on the quality of the paint. You may end up spending hundreds of dollars on extra gallons of paint and primer just because the quality of the paint was lacking.

#2: Kitchen Updates

When it comes to kitchen updates, little changes go a long way. You may have planned an enormous renovation for the kitchen but after researching costs, you realize your plans exceed your bank balance. That’s fine. Take a look at these affordable DIY kitchen updates that you can start right now.

  • Refinish or Replace Cabinet Doors
  • Upgrade Using a Low Cost Granite Countertop
  • Add New Light Fixtures
  • Install New Shelving in Empty Nooks
  • Embellish the Walls with Backsplashes

#3: Easy Landscaping

Finally, why put off improving your landscaping? It doesn’t take a professional landscaper to tackle any of these easy landscaping jobs.

  • Lay fertilizer and grass seeds for a beautiful spring lawn.
  • Line your walkway with natural plants and flowers to accent your paths and driveway.
  • Install path lights around your garden, patio, and outdoor staircases to add safety and charm to your exteriors at night.
  • Make your front doorway more dramatic by adding elegant edging or fancy millwork around the archway.

These are just a few of the many projects that you can tackle during your first year of homeownership that will not only be rewarding personally, but can add value to your new purchase. Looking for more ideas? Your real estate agent can be a great source of information and can help you determine which projects add more value in your particular area.

3 Home Energy-saving Myths Revisited

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Myth 1: Replacing single-pane windows is a good investment.
According to the Energy Star program, replacing old single-pane windows with double-pane, low-E windows will save you money every month. While that’s true, it’s not the entire story. In an average house with 20 or more windows, it could take up to 30 years to recoup the cost. Most people don’t stay in their home that long. 

Money-saving alternative: Storm windows are less expensive, customized to fit over existing single-pane windows and installed by homeowners. Storm windows save energy by creating a second layer of air that reduces drafts and escaping heat. Newer models can be left on year round, as they open and close. 

Myth 2: Exterior caulking is the best way to seal leaks. 
The purpose of exterior caulking is to keep water out, not prevent heat from escaping. Making your house more energy efficient usually requires improvements on the inside. 

Money-saving tip: Underneath the house, the floor joists and sill plates around the foundation are usually poorly insulated. A simple bead of caulk where wood meets foundation can help reap rewards. Elsewhere, however, more is needed. In the attic, blown-in insulation will make a dramatic difference in energy savings (especially in older homes) helping keep hot air inside in winter and outside during summer. 

Myth 3: Closing registers saves energy.
Forced-air heating systems are more efficient with the registers open. And over time, ducting can develop leaks, so closing registers only forces more air out of the leaks. 

Money-saving tip: If you have easy access, patch or replace old ducting with obvious air leaks. Reduce the need for forced-air heat by placing more efficient space heaters in rooms you spend the most time in. 

Small losses of energy can add up, but locating them often takes specialized equipment. That’s why one of the best home improvement investments you can make, both to identify energy loss and get inexpensive and simple solutions to close those gaps, is arranging an energy audit through your utility company. Don’t forget to ask about rebates or incentives when you schedule the appointment! 

Source: The Family Handyman

Tax Credits- You don’t want to miss this one!

Tax Credit Rewards Homeowners Who Make Home Energy Improvements

If you installed energy-efficient home improvements in 2014, you may be eligible for a $500 tax credit. Among the home improvements that might qualify for the tax credit:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Insulation
  • HVAC systems
  • Water Heaters
  • Roofs
  • Skylights
  • Biomass stoves

Tax credits are valuable because they offset the tax you owe, dollar for dollar. For example, if you owed $10,000 in taxes, a $500 tax credit would reduce what you owe to $9,500.

The Residential Energy Tax Credit had expired at the end of 2013, but just last week, Congress renewed it through 2014. That means you may be able to claim the tax credit when you file your 2014 federal taxes. Congress did not extend the tax credit through 2015.

Warning: It may take a while for the IRS to update its website with information about the renewal, and to post a 2014 version of Form 5695, which you’ll use to claim the credit.

Check the Energy Star website to see if the specific energy-efficiency home improvements you made qualify for the credit. Give that site a few weeks to get updated with the latest information, as well.

The Fine Print

In general, you’ll get a 10 percent tax credit for installing energy-efficiency improvements. But, your tax credit is capped for some items. For example, you can’t claim more than $200 for windows, and a new air conditioner will earn you no more than a $300 tax credit.

There’s also a lifetime cap of $500, so if you took the tax credit in prior years, you have to subtract the credit you claimed from $500. For example, if you took $400 in 2013, you can only take the remaining $100 in 2014.

The cost to install your energy-efficiency improvements may, or may not, be included. For example, window installation is included, but insulation installation is not.

This tax credit applies only to your main principal residence.

This is great news for home owners. Check with your accountant to see if your improvements qualify.

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