The sun is high and bright in the sky. Did you know the sun can save you money? Once considered expensive and desired only by the most committed environmentalists, rooftop solar is gaining popularity among value-conscious home owners.
Today, 1.3 million homes and businesses have solar systems, and solar is the top source for new electric generating capacity in the U.S.
The cost of solar panel systems has decreased dramatically. Tax incentives and Energy-Efficient Mortgages help make investing in solar more attractive financially.
As a result, homebuyers are adding solar to their new home wish list and appraisers are incorporating the value of green features into their appraisals. This means that installing solar panels will not only help you save on your electric bill now, but it may make your home more marketable when you are ready to sell.
And, if you don’t like the look of traditional solar arrays, solar-powered rooftop shingles that blend seamlessly into your existing roof are a great option.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping solar for your home:
- Calculate how much energy your household uses now – and will use in the future.
- You will still receive a bill from your power company. Even the most energy-efficient homes will still draw energy from the grid at various times during the year.
- Check out the incentives, tax credits, and grant programs available at www.dsireusa.org. Your installer will be knowledgeable on incentives as well.
- Protect your solar power investment. Be sure to learn about warranty coverage both by the panel manufacturer and the panel installer. Be sure to tell your home insurance provider about your new system as well. It is important to understand who is responsible for the various components of the system.
Once you have made the decision to go with solar, find an installer who is a member of the Home Builders Association of Greenville by visiting HBAofGreenville.com. You also can visit with solar installers by attending the Southern Home and Garden Show September 20-22 at the Greenville Convention Center. Visit SouthernHomeandGardenShow.com to see a list of exhibitors.
June is National Homeownership Month. Are you a homeowner yet?
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a majority of seniors (56 percent) and millennials (50 percent) who are planning to buy a home have moved beyond planning to searching.
The NAHB Housing Trends Report reveals that millennials expect house hunting to become easier in the months ahead, and they dispel the misconception that millennials view home buying as a burden. As a result, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national homeownership rate is on an upward trend.
The benefits of homeownership are numerous. Owning a home is an important step in Building wealth. Building home equity when the value of your home appreciates is one of the significant long-term financial benefits of homeownership.
Starting Your Home Buying Process
Purchasing a home requires research and planning. The first step is qualifying for a mortgage and saving for a down payment. In today’s tight housing market where demand often exceeds supply, pre-qualifying for a mortgage will give you an advantage when you are ready to make an offer over buyers who have not pre-qualified.
Financing Your New Home
Step one is to choose a mortgage lender. Visit HBAofGreenville.com for a list of lenders who specialize in new homes. In addition, some home builders can help you, but since you know how much money you can borrow, you will know how much house you can buy.
Prioritize Home Features
Before you start, make a list of the home features that matter the most: size, floor plan, finishes, location, and house type (detached, townhome, or condo) are important factors. New construction, newish, or a fixer-upper are also important questions to consider.
Start Your Search with a Realtor
Once you have financing and your priorities lined up, you can start your search online—most buyers do. However, a realtor who knows the market is an invaluable resource. Get help by visiting HBAofGreenville.com to find the professionals you need to help you find you dream home.
The recent cool weather recently may belie that we have officially entered summer, but now is a great opportunity to refresh your home. Simple home improvements made now can help you avoid significant repairs and costly utility bills later.
Temperature Check: Installing a programmable thermostat can help you save on heating and cooling costs. You can customize your indoor temperature throughout the day, which usually leads to lower utility costs. Celling fans are another energy-efficient way to feel cooler on hot days without spending a lot on utilities.
Heating and Cooling: Have you replaced your filter lately? If your air conditioner is in good shape, adding curtains, shades, or blinds to windows help keep your home cool by blocking out the sun’s intense rays, which can warm your home’s interior.
Replace Windows: New windows can also increase your energy efficiency and provide a return on investment. If old windows are replaced now, the new ones will help prevent heat gain this summer and heat loss during the winter. If you already have new windows, cleaning them will help refresh your home’s exterior.
Pressure Wash: A thorough exterior cleaning can help your home shine. Winter and spring storms cause debris and dirt to build up on the exterior of your home. Pressure wash to remove dirt, mildew, and unwelcomed residue. While you have the machine rented, clean walkways and decks to help your home stand out from the rest.
Landscape: Planting trees and pruning shrubs can brighten the exterior of your home. Before the heat of the summer takes over your lawn, check the condition of your sprinklers and garden irrigation for optimal use.
Inspect and Clean Your Dryer Vents: Dryer vents get clogged with lint, which can cause your dryer to perform poorly, has the unwanted effect of adding unnecessary heat to your home, and, of course, could be a fire hazard. While the weather is pleasant, inspect and clean the vent from inside and outside your home – and of course, clean the lint screen after every load.
Ready to build or remodel your dream home? Get help by visiting HBAofGreenville.com to find the Approved Professional Builder who can help you with your new home project.
Everyone writes about what Millennials want, but we forget that Baby Boomers are still a very large and formidable generational cohort. Boomers have a few distinct preferences when it comes to their home, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Boomer homebuyers overwhelmingly preferred to live in the suburbs compared to other age groups. When asked about community features, Boomers wanted to be near shopping. They also had a strong preference to live in a pedestrian-friendly community with trails and a park area. Compared to Millennials, playgrounds and swimming pools are not popular community features for Boomers.
Older buyers prefer a smaller house with high-quality finishes and amenities compared to Millennial homebuyers. Boomers prefer a one-story home, while Millennials prefer two-stories.
Nearly half of older homebuyers consider a full bath on the main level essential, compared to less than a third of younger homebuyers. A significant percentage of older homebuyers do not want a whirlpool tub, skylight or dual toilets in the master bath, while younger buyers do express a greater preference for these features. Specialty rooms, like a media or game room, appeal less to Boomers compared to Millennials.
Although most homebuyers in each generation consider energy efficiency an essential or desirable home feature, this preference increases significantly with age. A majority of Millennials (76 percent) want ENERGY STAR-rated windows in their homes, compared to an overwhelming majority of Boomers (91 percent).
Ready to build or remodel your dream home? Get help by visiting HBAofGreenville.com to find the Approved Professional who can help you with your new home project.
It’s too soon to tell if we are in a drought, but some local water systems are already asking customers to conserve water. Fresh water is precious, and we have a responsibility to use water wisely. Consider these easy, inexpensive steps to reduce the water you use while not changing your lifestyle.
Fix Hidden Leaks
The average family of four uses 400 gallons of water each day. Up to 10 percent of homes have easy-to-fix leaks that waste 90 gallons per day. Start by checking your toilets. A leaking toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day, and the typical fix — replacing the flapper — is simple and may not require tools.
Your water meter can tell you a lot about whether you have a leak. Pick a time when no one will be using water for a few hours — maybe before you leave for work — and note the meter reading. When you return, see if it has changed. If it has, you may have a leak. Be sure to do this more than once to be certain.
Cut Back on Running Water
Do you run the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving? Try turning it off when you are not actually using the water. You could save as much as eight gallons just in the time you brush your teeth.
If you have one, let the dishwasher wash your dishes — and make sure it’s fully loaded before you run it. Prewashing and washing dishes by hand uses more water than the dishwasher.
Outdoor Watering Done Right
Outdoor watering accounts for 30 percent of the average water bill — and most of that is used on lawns and landscapes. Yet up to half of the water is wasted because of inefficient watering methods and systems. Make sure you water only the landscape, water early and late, and aim the spray as low as possible to reduce evaporation.
To learn more about ways to save water or improve your home’s overall efficiency, visit EPA.gov/watersense.
To get help with your home improvement projects, visit HBAofGreenville.com to find the Approved Professional who can help you with your next project.
A recent poll by the National Association of Home Builders shows that older Americans are choosing to stay in their current homes as they age, rather than downsize or relocate as they have in the past.
That is a major driver in the continued growth of “aging-in-place” remodeling. This technique involves making home modifications — big or small — to help the homeowner live safely in their home as they age and experience changes in their health or mobility.
The “desire for better or newer amenities” and the “need to repair or replace old components” still lead the list of reasons to remodel. As our nation’s population gets older, and in particular as Baby Boomers get older, aging-in-place remodeling has become more popular.
According to the remodelers who were surveyed, some of the aging-in-place remodeling projects that have increased in popularity the most include:
- Grab bars in showers and near toilets
- Elevated toilets
- Curbless entry showers
- Widened hallways and doorways
- Additional lighting
If you are considering updating your current home or want a new home that better meets your needs as you age, consider an Approved Professional Builder for your project. Approved Professional Builders are screened by the Home Builders Association of Greenville to ensure that they:
- Maintain appropriate levels of insurance
- Free of unresolved judgements for at least one year
- Offer a warranty
- Use a written contract
- Have the appropriate licenses
This, of course, is just a starting point for your search for a home builder. You should check references and review a contractor’s previous projects, but why not get a head start by considering builders who are approved by the Home Builders Association of Greenville?
To learn more about the Approved Professional program at the Home Builders Association of Greenville, visit HBAofGreenville.com.