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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

Eco Friendly Tankless Water Heaters

by Samia S. Morgan

Eco friendly and green methods are becoming more mainstream and popular with homeowners both for the environmental benefits as well as the economical savings. Potential homebuyers are also looking for houses that offer efficient and economical operating systems. Tankless water heaters are the one of latest technologies out there that can to help save money and the environment.

According to the DOE, hot water usage, specifically heating the water, is the 3rd largest day to day expense in the home. If you are looking to be more energy efficient and cut back on utility expenses, you may want to consider a tankless water heater

Conventional water heaters keep your water hot 24/7, while an on-demand system, using the tankless approach, only heats water when you need it. An efficient gas burner quickly heats cold water traveling through the system to a preset temperature.

There are several common manufacturers of tankless water heaters – check out www.smarterhotwater.com, sponsored by Rheem. They tell us that annual costs for conventional water heating and storage (average) can be as much as $285, where the costs for tankless are more than $100 less per year on average.

So why haven’t we all converted? Tankless water heaters cost more up front – sometimes as much as twice more than traditional water systems. But adoption is growing as consumers become more and more concerned with efficiency and long term value for their dollars. Here’s a few reasons to consider going tankless:

1. Energy friendly and efficient. On demand systems can reduce energy costs as much as 25%.
2. Reliable and convenient. You get a continuous supply – imagine never running out of hot water!
3. Sleek and small. No more bulky tanks taking up valuable storage. Typical tankless heaters aren’t much bigger than a small suitcase.
4. Life expectancy.  Tankless water eaters are built to last  - 20 + years or more.
5. Versatility. It’s size and operating system allow you to place nearly anywhere in your home that is convenient for you.

Tankless water heaters are expensive, as noted and can be expensive to retrofit. If you are purchasing a new home, or buying a home that you plan to say in for a long time, the savings and benefits are worth the expense. If you are in a short term arrangement, the conventional water heaters may still be all you need for now. Also, avoid electric style tankless heaters – the gas units are much more efficient and affordable.

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Don't Overlook Details When Closing

by Samia S. Morgan

With so many beautiful homes on the market today and at amazing prices, it can be easy to find the home you have always wanted. However, it is vital to not overlook the details and inspect for potential flaws. Your potential new home should be thoroughly inspected top to bottom, before you get to the closing table.

The professional home inspection should reveal most defects in the home and this will be your opportunity to revise your offer or negotiate the repairs into the deal.

Make sure that your offer includes a contingency for a home inspection. The home inspection will reveal significant defects with foundation, plumbing, electrical and damage if the home has any of these problems. The savvy home buyer will also test other features in the home that may not be a part of the inspection.  Check appliances, sprinkler systems, garage doors, and wet areas (for mold or water damage) and get a pest inspection. Your state may also require seller disclosures, in which the sellers must list any problems with the home.

Material facts are an important part of seller disclosures. A material fact can be any defect or situation that can impact the buyer’s decision to move forward on the purchase or the price and terms of the property sale. Structural defects, property taxes, fire or flood damage and a death in the home are examples of material facts.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing a new home, but don't be in such a hurry to close that you overlook flaws that can cause headache and extra expense down the road.

 

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Utilizing Your Current Space

by Samia S. Morgan
Many homeowners will at one time find that their current home is running out of space. A growing family or changing needs over the years contibute to homeowners need for more space. However, with the sluggish economy, many are unable to purchase a new home to fill their growing need for more room. The good news is that there are some solutions to utilize the space you have with some helpful hints below!
 
Take advantage and utilize attic and basement storage. For most attics you can store almost anything up here as long as you gauge the temperature and the moisture. The last thing you need if your attic gets moldy is for your clothes to get moldy! If your attic does have a lot of moisture, you can consider placing other items up such as old toys, sports equipment you aren't going to use right now, baby furniture, etc. Now, if you have no attic and no basement, but you have a lot of wall space, you could consider utilizing wall shelving units for things like books or pictures.
 
Make the most of your closets.  The problem a lot of people have with their closets is that they put too much in here and they don't utilize all the space available. If you need to reorganize your closet, it's a good idea to get your hands on some shoe racks, clothing bags (with hangers), storage systems, containers, etc. Try using some jewelry boxes as well for your earrings, watches, and necklaces. Storage systems are really popular right now for closets and most can be customize for your specific needs.
 
Don't overlook hidden space.  The solution to finding extra space can be found in the areas you might have not thought about before. Some ideas are building drawers and shelves beneath a staircase or installing ceiling shelving units in the garage. Nooks and corners you may have thought were useless might end up being the extra space you need!
 
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Home Improvements that Pay Off

by Samia S. Morgan

What is the most common misconception about the value of home improvement? That your investment translates dollar for dollar into added value. When investing in remodeling – from small updates to major renovations, take a good look at the real impact of the project on your home’s value.

The state of the market, the homes in your neighborhood (‘comps’), how long you hold on to your home and the kind of improvement all play a role in determining what you will recoup out of the initial investment. Sometimes remodeling pays of and sometimes it does absolutely nothing to increase your home appraisal.

Here are some of the home improvement winners:

  1. Kitchens: Updates to cabinets, appliances or flooring can really make a difference in both the appeal and actual value of your home. Kitchen makeovers rate an A+ for adding value.
  2. Additions:  These are great as long as the addition doesn’t take your home out of the neighborhood comps, well thought out square footage adds a value approximate to the investment you put into it.
  3. Extra bathroom:  An extra full bath, well done can come close to paying for itself, but gets only a percentage back of the actual cost.
  4. Decks: A great way to add square footage cheaply and create outdoor living space, which is a hot trend right now.
  5. Windows: As long as the windows are a standard size and you make the extra effort to get double pane, energy rated glass and trim, you will save money on utility costs while waiting to sell and they will make the home more appealing.

One home improvement that likely won't bring a return on investment is a swimming pool. Only put one in if you love to swim and plan to use it, don't install one on the assumption you will get your money returned. In some markets such as warmer clients a pool may be expected, in others it can be a wow factor if well done, but pools add no resale value to your home and may even be considered a liability.

A good piece of advise is to keep your home well maintained, make sure all the basics are take care of before you add any new features.

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California Enacts $10,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit

by Samia S. Morgan

The federally funded Home Buyer Tax Credit incentive offered a credit of $8,000 to first-time home buyers, along with a “long-time resident” credit of up to $6,500 to repeat buyers. The deadline for the at large credit was April 30th to have a binding contract and June 30, 2010 to close on the home (the closing date deadline has now been extended to September 30th, 2010.)

The National Association of Realtors reported a significant drop in May of existing home sales and the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance Monthly Survey of Real Estate Market Conditions showed a large drop in all home buyer traffic in May. Significantly, most of the drop was attributable to first-time homebuyers, who had been playing a major role in home sales since late last fall. The loss of traffic will result in June and July sales and fall closings.

“The decline of first-time homebuyer traffic is undoubtedly related to the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit,” noted Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Surveys. “Homebuyers had until April 30 to sign a purchase and sale agreement and receive the credit. Once we entered the month of May, the government stimulus disappeared.”

At least one market has responded to loss of the government stimulus. California enacted a new $10,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit just in time to miss the drop cause by the end of the federal Home Buyers credit.

California has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. The bill to enact the tax credit, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in March, provides $200 million for homes purchased between May 1 and Dec. 31 and between Dec. 31 and Aug. 1, 2011.

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Do You Know Your Debt To Income Ratio?

by Samia S. Morgan

If you are obtaining financing to purchase a new home, it is important to understand that your lender will look at what is called a debt-to-income ratio. Of course your lender will look at various different aspects of your financial situation but this is an important aspect and the loan could be denied if the ratio is too high. Below is more information on why is it important to you and how it effects your financing.

What the debt-to-income ratio means is that lenders will do a comparison of the money you earn to the money you owe. It includes credit card debt, existing mortgages, auto loans, and any other personal debt.

Your mortgage lender will look at your Debt-To-Income (DTI) to evaluate your ability to afford your new mortgage. You should have a good idea of what your DTI ratio is before you approach a lender or consider buying a new home.

You ultimately want to achieve a low DTI ratio. A high number means that you have less disposable income and less ability to maintain the home once you purchase it. With foreclosures at an all time high, lenders are not willing to assume any additional risk in lending.

Most lenders seek DTI ratios in the 20-36% range or lower, with no more than 28% of debt dedicated to the mortgage itself. While some lenders will consider higher ratios, DTIs in the upper 30% range are considered high risk.

There are several different calculators available online to help you determine your ratio, and you can always check with your financial institution for guidance on determining your DTI ratio.

Here’s a simple formula:

  1. Add all your monthly payments (mortgage or rent, car, credit cards, any other debt payments)
  2. Add your gross income (before taxes), bonuses, alimony, or any other outside income and divide by 12
  3. Then divide the total number in (1) by the final number in (2)
  4. The result is your DTI ratio


Whether you are ready to buy a new home or are just interested in your financial health, it’s a good idea to know your DTI and understand the steps to lower your ratio and become as close to debt-free as you can.

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Inspections For Termites

by Samia S. Morgan

In most states a termite inspection is a necessary requirement in the home sale process. If a home has termites, they can create significant damage and even destroy a home if left untreated.

In most cases if  evidence of termites is seen, there’s a good chance the infestation is already quite advanced.

If you are a homeowner and have any concerns about termites in home, the best course of action is to locate a pest control or termite inspection to confirm any problems.. Of course, pest inspections are an important part of the overall inspection process, so make sure you hire an expert in the field:

  1. Check out online or yellow page listings under Pest Control for a licensed, bonded inspector. Your real estate agent can also be helpful in location a company for you.
  2. Request estimates for the inspection cost and compare rates.
  3. Make sure that you get a copy of the inspection report and course of action needed before signing any contract papers.


As mentioned above, most states require a clear pest control if you are buying or selling a home. The inspector looks for termite infestation as well as other pest infestation, plumbing leaks, obvious roof leaks, dry rot and water damage. Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible for the inspector. Try to stick with companies that do inspection and treatment only – and leave any wood repair to carpenters or contractors.

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Independence Day In The Bay Area

by Samia S. Morgan

Everyone is gearing up to spend time with family and friends this 4th of July, so grab your flags and head to one of the many events being held in the Bay area this year!

Party at Pier 39

Pier 39/Beach Street & The Embarcardero,San Francisco, July 4th  Times:  3:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Cost:  Free  Info:  Beginning at 3:00:  free live band performances in the Pier 39 Entrance Plaza

3:00 - 5:00:  Mustache Harbor concert (music)

6:00 - 9:30:  Tainted Love concert performance (80's music hits)

9:30:  Over the bay -- City of San Francisco's fireworks show

All day:  Street performers; marionettes; face painting. Free admission.

Fourth of July Waterfront Festival

Pier 39, The Cannery, Beach Street, The Embarcadero & Fisherman's Wharf

Festivities at The Cannery begins at 11:00 a.m. at Courtyard Stage

Face painting:  11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Live music through 8:00 p.m.

Crissy Field

603 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA

Cost:  Free

9:00 p.m. -- Fireworks show

Info:  Get there early.  Very popular place to view fireworks.  Crowded!

 

4th of July Fireworks Cruise

Pier 39 Marine Terminal, The Embarcadero at Beach Street, San Francisco, CA

(415) 705-8200

8:15 p.m.:  Non-Alcoholic cruise sets sail from Pier 39

Cost:  Adults - $52;  Child age 5-11 - $42  Family Package:  $162 (2 adults and 2 children)

Tickets available online at blueandgoldfleet.com or at box office at Pier 39.  Boarding begins 30 minutes prior to departure.

 

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Mortgage Rates Remain At Record Lows

by Samia S. Morgan

Even with a sluggish real estate market, there is good news for homebuyers. Mortgage rates are and have remained steady and are still at a record low.

Qualified buyers can find rates as low as 4.375% for a 30-year fixed FHA loan. 15-year fixed FHA loans are being obtained at 4.5% with zero origination fee. 5/1 ARM FHA rates are at 3.5%

On a daily basis, FreeRateUpdate.com researches over 2 dozen wholesale lenders' rate sheets for brokers. They locate the most accurate and lowest rates available to those borrowers who are qualified.

The recent drop in stocks have caused the mortgage-backed securities prices to increase which push the mortgage rates down. Most of this is due to investors moving towards safer investments such as bonds.

If you are doing your research on the best rates available,  check out Google's mortgage results to compare available rates from various lenders. 

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Eventhough the official start of Summer is a few weeks away, homeowners all over the Bay area are already in the midst of home projects and lawn care. Below are some tips to help you get your home in tip top summer shape.

  1. Lawn tools and care – make sure your lawnmower and other lawn and garden tools are in good working order. Its a good idea to have a tune up and your blade sharpened. Adding fresh oil and fuel is also a good idea. Consider colored flowers and plants that will provide color in small spaces or on patios if you have limited garden space.
  2. Clean up patio furniture and your outdoor grill, wash your windows and tidy up walkways. Now is the perfect time to create an outdoor living area for your family and friends. String lights or simple lanterns can also be affordable ways to add nice interest to your porch or patio. If you have a pool, make sure your filter systems and pumps are clean and ready to operate at full steam.
  3. Treat for pests – find a reputable pest control company to do a general treatment for summertime bugs like spiders and mosquitoes; invest in citronella candles and family friendly bug spray.
  4. Have your AC system serviced – it’s a good idea to have a semi-annual checkup before the real heat of summer puts pressure on your HVAC system.
  5. Make sure your home is energy efficient – check weather stripping and window seals and make sure that none of that cool air inside is escaping outside; keep your temperatures moderate in the house so that your systems don’t go into overdrive during the hottest part of the day.

Enjoy the treats of long summer days – both indoor and outdoor comforts and pleasures. Summer always goes fast!

 

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

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Photo of Samia S. Morgan, Inc. Real Estate
Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633