April 27, 2015

Know the market before you sell your home!

Whether you're moving out of your current home in Louisville, or getting ready to move across country, you have a vested interest in its value. What you really need to know is how much similar homes in your area are selling for. The same information is also useful if you are in the market to buy a home.

Trusting a neighbor for information on home prices may have once been the norm, but in the current market, it might lead to misinformation. Sellers or buyers can get inaccurate information on a sale because a neighbor may be embarrassed to admit it was a short-sell or they lost their house.

Because real estate sales are a matter of public record, home sale prices are easy to find. However, the days of searching town or county records have been replaced with Web searches that exchange privacy for free information.

  1. Visit a residential real estate website such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com or Homes.com.  Navigate to the "homes sold" page, and type in the address of the home you’re looking for.
  2. Contact a realtor. Even though everyone has access to online websites or neighborhood gossip for details on homes prices, local experts are still recommended for the most accurate information. Find out which realtor closed the sale, then phone or email them to get the price.

Double-checking both the online info and the realtor’s for the sake of accuracy is good practice.

April 13, 2015

20 Ways to Live Green in Your New Home!

Going green isn't as tough as you think. Making smart, environmentally friendly choices ensures that you do your part, while feeling good about your contribution to our planet's wellbeing.

Here are 20 ways that you can live green and be a better friend to the environment.

  1. Recycle and compost.
  2. Lower your thermostat a few degrees. Also, turn down the temperature of your water heater.
  3. Look for cleaning products that are biodegradable, phosphate-free and not tested on animals.
  4. Reduce your use of paper towels. Use re-useable, washable cloths whenever possible.
  5. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Even if you just change your porch light, laundry or utility room light to CFLs, you’ll be saving energy.
  6. Teach your kids to turn off the lights and the TV when they leave a room. Appliances draw energy, cost money and create carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  7. In the market for new appliances? Buy Energy-Star certified products.
  8. Planning to re-paint? Use paints low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful chemicals found in many paints and stains.
  9. Put a rain barrel by your downspout to collect rainwater to use in your garden later. If you are landscaping, plant drought-resistant plants using a method called xeriscaping.
  10. Plant a tree on your property. Or more, if you have space. Trees provide wildlife habitat and help cool the planet.
  11. Clean your indoor air with houseplants. They can clear toxins like benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air. (These chemicals are found in paint, varnishes, foam insulation, cleaning products and other common household materials.)
  12. In the housing market? Consider a property within biking or walking distance of your office, or close to public transit, so you can leave the car at home.
  13. Pack a litter-less lunch. Use reusable food storage containers that are free of harmful bisphenol.
  14. Save water. Take shorter showers. Put a water-saver nozzle on the showerhead and all faucets. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth (a great way to teach kids about not wasting water) or while shaving. Use cold water to wash clothes.
  15. Use an outdoor clothesline or indoor drying rack whenever possible.
  16. Use a ceiling fan to save on heating bills. Because hot air rises, if you run the fan in reverse at a low speed, it will help circulate the hot air.
  17. In the summer, keep your blinds or drapes closed during the day, then open them in the evening. And in the winter, do the opposite. 
  18. Get an energy audit and find ways to improve your home's energy efficiency. Common to-dos include improving insulation, upgrading windows, installing weather stripping, trading up to a high-efficiency furnace and installing a programmable thermostat.
  19. Buy local, buy in bulk, and use your own shopping bag. See if you can find food that was not transported from far away. Many stores carry local produce from neighboring farms. Read the labels on fruits and vegetables to see where they were grown. Buy in bulk and avoid foods that use large amounts of packaging. Buy from farmers markets or co-ops when you can. Take your own shopping bags to the market – plastic is a petroleum product.
  20. Keep your freezer full — it runs more efficiently than an empty one. Save water by running the dishwasher or clothes washer only when full.