Monthly Archives: January 2014

Personal Finance Review

Personal Finances“It’s amazing how things can change over time.  Even short periods of time.  Knowing where your money is going is a critical step in financial planning.  This article explains how to periodically review your expenses to make sure you are not spending more than you should.”

DC Metro Realty Team – Denise Buck & Ed Johnson 

You’ll need to earn $2.00 for every $1.00 you want to spend assuming you pay 50% of your earnings on income tax, social security and Medicare. On the other hand, you get to keep 100% of every dollar you save on your personal expenses because the taxes have already been paid.

Periodically, review your expenditures with the diligence of an exuberant IRS agent on commission. It’s an exercise that most people don’t feel they have time to do but the rewards make it entirely worthwhile.

  • Get comparative quotes on insurance – car, home, other
  • Review and compare utility providers
  • Review plans on cell phones
  • Review plans on cable TV, satellite for unused channels and packages or receivers
  • Review available discounts on property taxes
  • Consider refinancing home – lower rate, shorter term or cash out to payoff higher rate loans
  • Consider refinancing cars
  • Call credit card companies to ask for a lower rate
  • Review all of the automatic charges on your credit cards – consider no-fee cards
  • Search for late fees that are regularly being paid and eliminate them.
  • Review all bank charges for accounts and debit cards; determine if they can be reduced or eliminated.

If you don’t want to review your credit card accounts, consider reporting the cards stolen so that new numbers will be issued. You can notify the companies that need your number. Companies who might have your number won’t be able to automatically renew services that you may no longer be using. You can be assured that they’ll contact you when the old number doesn’t go through and you can re-evaluate the decision at that time.

Home Inspections can Improve Marketability

Home Inspection“Home Inspections are key to any home purchase. You know it’s going to be part of the Buyers Contract.  Why would they even consider buying your home without one?  They want to make sure everything is in good working order when they move in.  Why not beat the Buyer to the punch and get one done yourself so you know exactly what needs to be done.  It also shows that you care enough about your home to have gone ahead and had one completed.  So remove the stress of not knowing what might be wrong and order a Home Inspection yourself.”

DC Metro Realty Team – Denise Buck & Ed Johnson

One of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report. Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers. The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract.

If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller. It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home.

The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market. There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller. The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected.

If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector.

The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home. In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home. On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price.

Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan. Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period. The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership.

Contact me for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.

Winter Maintenance Tips

Tool House“Here in the Mid Atlantic Region we see all types of weather.  Generally, our winters aren’t too bitter, however you still need to prepare for the cold days that will inevitably be here.  Even when you live in warm climates, some of these things are important to check periodically.”

DC Metro Realty Team – Denise Buck & Ed Johnson

Preparing for the change of seasons can make your home more comfortable and protect your investment. Regular maintenance extends the various components of a home and can generate savings in operating costs while avoiding expensive replacements.

  • Weather strips around doors and windows should be checked for possible air leaks.
  • Caulking around windows and doors should seal out moisture and air leaks.
  • HVAC should be inspected and serviced by a professional annually.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested regularly.
  • Ductwork and supply lines from water heaters should be insulated.
  • Fireplace chimneys should be cleaned regularly and fireplaces should be inspected for cracks in mortar and to see if the damper closes properly.
  • Gutters should be free of leaves and debris to prevent rainwater build-up.
  • Tree branches touching or hanging over your roof should be trimmed.

Please contact us if you need a service provider recommendation.

Denise.Buck@DCMetroRealtyTeam.com

Ed.Johnson@DCMetroRealtyTeam.com

Can You See the Savings? – Use LED Light bulbs

lightbulb“Using LED light bulbs can save you far more than you realize.  Once you read this article you will be amazed at the potential savings.”

DC Metro Realty Team – Denise Buck & Ed Johnson

If you’ve considered changing your light bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs but decided not to make the investment because the prices were too high, you might want to investigate again. The prices have come down considerably.

An initial investment now will generate immediate returns through energy costs and because they last longer, you won’t need to replace them for years.

The life of LED bulbs is projected to be from 35,000 to 50,000 hours compared to an incandescent bulb at 750 to 2,000 hours. For normal home use, a LED bulb could last more than 20 years.

80-90% of the energy used by fluorescent and incandescent bulbs is wasted by the heat generated. In contrast, cool LED bulbs converts 80% of the electrical energy to light energy.

• The color of LED lights is bright white, more like daylight, instead of the warm yellow of incandescent or the greenish tint of fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs light up instantly instead of building to their intensity like some of the fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs are more durable because they don’t have filaments or thin-glass bulbs like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Shop around to find the best price on LEDs. If the LED only lasted 20,000 hours, you might have to purchase 20 incandescent bulbs during that same period of time. Using the chart below, you can see that the LED uses about 10% of the wattage without compromising on the brightness.

Watt comparison.png