Save energy at home to leave more green in your pocket!

Realtor View by Chaille Ralph Many consumers are mindful of the environment when making purchases these days. Look at the popularity of hybrid vehicles, alternative fuels, locally grown produce and a host of other products designed to use fewer resources and reduce pollution and waste. Housing definitely is on that list. You don’t think of houses being responsible for carbon emissions, but they are – to a significant degree. The energy used for heating, cooling, appliances and lighting most likely comes from a source that produces carbon emissions. Other factors, such as water use and building materials used to construct or remodel a home, can affect the environment significantly. You might think the best way to “go green” in housing is to start from scratch. And it’s true. If you’re building a new, custom home, you can make decisions that will increase energy and water efficiency greatly. You can select the most environmentally friendly building materials and construction methods. But if you’re not building a new home, there’s no need to throw up your hands. There’s still plenty you can do to make a difference. When looking to purchase an existing house, it’s possible to assess some aspects of its energy use. How old is the air conditioning unit? Does the landscaping consist of native plants? You might be able to secure energy bills from the current owner to review electricity and water usage (keep in mind your usage may vary considerably). You can hire a professional to determine how energy efficient or inefficient a home may be. Whether purchasing a home or wanting to make the best of the house you own, there are many steps you can take to improve energy efficiency. Here are some examples: Install rain barrels to collect roof runoff and use that water for irrigation. Replace water-thirsty plants with landscaping that requires little additional irrigation. Replace old windows with energy-efficient windows. Seal air leaks around windows, doors and other areas that may have gaps. Seal air ducts. Install additional installation. Replace appliances with newer models that have earned EPA‘s Energy Star designation. Replace heating and cooling units. Replace the water heater with a more efficient model. Change out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. You probably know efforts such as these offer benefits beyond helping the environment. They also save money. Yes, you pay more on the front end to make improvements such as those listed, but each one of them reduces your expenses – often paying for itself in short order. As energy costs continue to rise, the more you can do to cut consumption, the more it pays off. Be informed You can find information online about how to lower your energy consumption...

Read More

Curious about the return for your remodeling investment?

by Dana Dratch (Bankrate.com) Planning a home renovation? Do it for your own enjoyment, because there’s no guarantee you’ll get all of your expenses back when you sell. That’s one lesson from a 2014 Remodeling magazine study. The magazine looked at prices on 35 popular home renovation projects – and how much of that money homeowners can expect to recoup when they sell. In the study, prices were based on national averages for time and materials supplied by skilled professionals. While some projects moved the needle on home value more than others, most didn’t return 100 percent of the renovation cost at resale, according to the report. And the projects that yielded the least at resale all returned less than 61 cents on the dollar. If you renovate, “you have to understand that it may not add the value to your home that it cost you,” said Mark Ramsey, broker with The Ramsey Group at Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina. Home office remodel Cost (national average): $28,000 Return at sale: 48.9 percent This is not your typical stuff-a-desk-in-the-guest-room office. When Remodeling magazine priced out the project, it envisioned a professional-grade workspace with super-durable commercial-grade carpet and floor-to-ceiling hardwood built-ins, said Sal Alfano, editorial director for Remodeling magazine, who oversaw the study. At resale: Home offices don’t sell houses, said Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty in Warwick, Rhode Island, and past president of the National Association of Realtors. “To spend money making more of the house office-driven – it doesn’t excite people the way a home theater might,” he said. “Or redoing other rooms or updating the kitchen.” Sun room addition Cost (national average): $73,546 Return at resale: 51.7 percent Anytime you have to add onto the foundation – and the footprint of your home – the price climbs, said Michael Hydeck, owner of Hydeck Design Build Inc. near Philadelphia and past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the home and help heat adjacent rooms, Alfano said. At resale: Resale value will vary by region, Phipps said. “You have to look at what your market is.” Whatever you build, if you want to get the biggest bump to your home value, opt for a licensed professional and permitted work, said David R. Tina, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and an owner/broker with Urban Nest Realty. Upscale master suite addition Cost (national average): $224,989 Return at resale: 56 percent This isn’t your typical master bedroom remodel. Picture adding a luxe hotel suite onto your house: a 640-square-foot space with a kitchenette, sitting room, high-end gas fireplace and a spa-quality bathroom – complete with a stone-and-glass dual-system shower and a jetted corner tub set in marble. By contrast, Remodeling...

Read More

Steiner Ranch Holiday Event – November 2013

Beautiful Serving Stones sponsored by NEST Properties Austin and graciously crafted by Tom Henry! 100% of proceeds go to the Steiner Serves charity of the month – CASA (http://www.casatravis.org).  With the generous donations made, we’re assisting CASA in ensuring that the 1,000+ children in Foster Care receive at least one holiday gift this season.  And thanks to those who purchased the Steiner Serving Stones, an additional 17 children will receive holiday gifts on behalf of the Steiner Ranch community. Amazing! These stones will continue to be available at Cups and Cones and Hue Salon in Steiner Ranch through the holidays.  They make a GREAT gift and it’s a wonderful way to give back to the community!  Thank you for ALL of your support and generosity!...

Read More