How the Coronavirus Is Reshaping Home Design: 10 Crucial Features a House Should Have Today

 | Apr 21, 2020

Life as we know it has changed dramatically in the coronavirus era, affecting work, school, travel, and more. And it’s shed light on the way we live at home, underscoring the fact that there’s nothing more important than safe shelter for our family.

To that end, COVID-19 is influencing what people want to see in home design.

“After the pandemic, our homes are going to reflect the lessons learned during this painful period, such as ways to disinfect ourselves and our possessions,” says Jamie Gold, a wellness design consultant and author of “Wellness by Design.”

In a postvirus world, we won’t soon forget our shelter-at-home memories. Going forward, if there’s even the slightest chance (god forbid) that we’ll need to repeat this awful practice, homeowners may want to prepare by buying or renovating a house with amenities that’ll make it just a bit more bearable.

To help, here are 10 features to look for in a new home—or demand in your current one—once we’ve bid the coronavirus adieu.

1. More bathrooms

Photo by Excel Builders

A family member who’s caught a virus needs his own loo to keep germs in one place, so the addition of a second (or third or fourth) bathroom in homes will be important.

“This option used to be about convenience, but in the age of quarantines, sharing a bathroom could be dangerous,” says David Sipp, owner of two Mr.Handyman franchises in Indiana.

And since hand-washing is a constant nowadays, a half-bathroom or even just a sink right by a home’s entrance may become fairly standard.

“There’s renewed focus on [sinks near front entrances] in an attempt to get people to wash before entering the home,” says architect Kobi Karpof the eponymous firm.

2. Better mudrooms

Photo by Michael Robert Construction

Taking off your shoes before entering the house has long been recommended to cut back on grime and germs. But now that a recent study found that the novel coronavirus can cling to shoes’ soles and then get tracked inside, even more people may start removing their shoes right as they enter a house. This could make the presence of mudrooms—including larger, souped-up versions with seating areas and cubbies—more appealing than ever.

3. Bigger pantries

Photo by Closet Factory

You probably weren’t alone if you found your food storage was lacking in the early days of the coronavirus—and the fix will be bigger and better pantries. Room for nonperishables is key so you can cut back on the number of grocery store trips you make.

No room for a dedicated pantry? Sipp anticipates a need for more food storage like shelving and cabinets in other parts of the home, like the garage and basement.

“And larger pantries won’t necessarily live in the kitchen area, but will instead be more of an add-on in the laundry room or entryway,” says Gold. The reason: Deliveries can be made contact-free, away from living areas, and trips into the house will be reduced.

4. More freezer space

Photo by Perlick

Remember the old-fashioned chest freezer your grandmother had? Look for it again, along with more built-in freezer drawers, in future home design. Panicky pandemic shoppers are snapping up all manner of foods, and the result has been a sold-out stock of freezer units.

5. Bathroom bidets

Photo by Murphy’s Design

The French know a thing or two about healthy bathroom design—and we’re finally taking notice. Bidet use was already on the rise before the coronavirus, and since toilet paper shortages have hit hard, more and more folks are looking to install this amenity.

Bidets are gentle and hygienic, and even when TP is back on store shelves, these devices will still be in demand, says Gold.

Want something cheaper than installing a whole new appliance? Consider the washlet, which is a seat fitted to an existing toilet that’s equipped with a spray nozzle.

“There’s less need for tissue with a washlet,” says Melanie Turner, an architect at Perkins & Will.

6. Closed-off spaces

By Marie Burgos Design New York

“COVID-19 has brought to light a heightened desire for discrete areas, no matter how small, and convertible spaces like guest rooms that can be used for playtime or as a homework spot,” says Turner. But open floor plans probably won’t disappear—instead, a better balance between private, semiprivate, and public spaces is coming.

“The reason is the need for homes to multitask better, which means if you have two partners suddenly working from home and a couple of kids home schooling, you’ll have more quiet, separate spaces for everyone to function effectively,” says Gold.

7. Brass and copper fixtures

Photo by AFT Construction

Adapting to a new, more germ-conscious way of living starts with a return to copper and brass (a copper-zinc combo) for doorknobs and fixtures. In fact, brass kills bacteria more effectively than stainless steel, according to research.

Brass and copper are excellent metals for the home because both are naturally antimicrobial and corrosion-resistant.

“Copper is one of the best for its antimicrobial properties and has been used for decades in plumbing—and brass and bronze are also very popular because of their inherent ability to kill germs, plus over time they give a desirable rustic look,” said Karp.

8. Hands-free light switches, faucets, and more

Photo by Broedell Plumbing Supply, Inc.

“We already have hands-free faucets, light switches, and voice-control features to operate windows, showers, thermostats, and sound systems. Plus there’s a hands-free door opener that’s being introduced for homes,” points out Gold, who anticipates seeing them in homes now more than ever.

“We’ve had touchless entry and infrared detection systems in place for years in hotels, so I expect to see these technologies applied for opening home cabinets, fridges, and drawers in the near future,” adds Karp.

9. Closed HVAC systems

Photo by Global Source Lighting/San Ramon Lighting

For people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, more sophisticated HVAC systems, including those that can be closed from the outside world for limited amounts of time, might become more common.

“We have to weigh the benefits of fresh air with the desire to temper or limit intake at very specific times,” says Turner.

10. Nicer home offices

Photo by Mast & Co. Builders

This one’s obvious, and it runs the gamut from a fully equipped workspace in a separate room to smaller iterations like nooks under the stairs or a retrofitted closet.

Having a quiet area in which to work will be a must-have, and if you can include the ability to work while standing up or moving, your wellness will be enhanced, says Gold.

“As people video chat and Zoom more with colleagues from home, they’re becoming hyperaware of the changes they’d like to see in a home office, including better lighting and more storage. And since a return to the workplace will be gradual, high demand will continue for an office that’s comfortable and functional,” says Sipp.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes creates content for Livestrong.com, the National Sleep Foundation, American Airlines Vacations, Oxo, and Mastercard.
Posted on July 3, 2020 at 9:56 am
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Mortgage Impact from COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

 

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

 

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
  2. You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

 

Forbearance is…

  • With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
  • Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
  • Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

 

Forbearance is not…

  • Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

 

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

 

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

 

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.

Posted in Buying by Sandy Dodge

Posted on July 1, 2020 at 8:55 pm
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Home Prices Now, and What to expect for the rest of 2020

Matthew Gardner’s Weekly housing talk.

Twelve weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and we are certainly seeing the impact it has had on the housing market. Today’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew” covers home prices now, and what to expect for the rest of 2020.

 

Posted on June 9, 2020 at 7:26 am
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , , , ,

Interest Rates Across Time, It’s All Relative

The Cost Across Time

The Cost Across Time [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to climb according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
  • Lock in a low rate now while you can!
Posted on January 14, 2019 at 3:47 am
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , ,

2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

Originally published on Inman News.

Posted December 18 2018, 9:15 AM PST by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

Posted on January 9, 2019 at 10:39 pm
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , ,

Are we In A Housing Market Bubble?

Whenever the national economy slows or home prices slip—rumors run rampant that we’re in a housing market bubble that’s about to burst.It’s no wonder that people are skittish after the Autumn 2008 financial crisis—an event experts label as the “worst economic disaster” since The Great Depression.

Homeowners are concerned that another crashing economy will result in an underwater mortgage or worse, cost them excessive home equity and make it impossible to sell at a profit.

But how can you tell if the housing market is in a bubble that’s ready to pop?

Knowledge is power—and the only way to separate fact from fiction. So let’s take a look at the answers to the top questions home sellers have about housing market bubbles.

housing-market-bubble

What is a housing market bubble?

Simply put, a housing bubble describes the real estate market condition when home prices rise above average at a rapid rate—fueled by high demand and low inventory.

“A housing market bubble is where housing prices have exceeded what can be sustained by the market,” explains Florida real estate agent Brett Keyser, who ranks in the top 1% of all active real estate agents in Sarasota and Manatee County in total number of sales.

“It’s unsustainable because the house prices get so high that nobody can afford them. That’s where a bubble is, in this big disparity between what buyers are able to pay and the price sellers are willing to sell at. If that’s such a big difference, then you have a pop and prices come tumbling down. Otherwise it would be called a market correction.”

This fast and excessive increase in home values often occurs artificially because of speculation. Investors, fueled by rising home prices, begin snapping up properties at an accelerated rate, causing inventory to shrink unnaturally and prices to rise higher and faster than ever.

What causes a real estate bubble?

As home prices rise, more and more potential home buyers get priced out of the market. With fewer people able to afford homes, demand drops—and so do prices. That’s when the housing bubble bursts.

To really understand why this happens, look to the economic principle of supply and demand—a top factor that determines home values.

In real estate, inventory refers to the months of supply or how many months it would take the number of listed homes to sell. For example, if there are 600 homes available for sale in your market, and 100 sell every month, then there’s a six-month supply of inventory.

Anything under six months is considered low inventory.

Demand is all about the number of home buyers actively looking to purchase a home. Factors that drive demand up include low unemployment, low mortgage interest rates, and high rents (making homeownership less expensive than renting).

When inventory is low and demand is high, buyers get into bidding wars for properties, driving the final sale prices up. Then, when new homes come on the market, they set their asking price at or over those inflated sold prices.

If low inventory is the issue, can’t building more houses help lower prices and keep the bubble from bursting?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It takes a lot longer to build a house than it does for a homeowner to decide to sell. Because of this, home builders are essentially in the game of speculation, anticipating what buyer demand will be when their homes are completed and ready to sell.

“Home builders don’t want to flood the market with too much inventory because if they do, they’re going to lose out,” says Keyser. “They’re gonna have all of this inventory on the books and they’re going to have to slash their prices.”

If home prices are on the rise for a long time, does that mean we’re in a bubble?

Determining whether or not we’re in a housing bubble isn’t as simple as looking at a chart tracking home values—because rising home prices don’t automatically mean we’re in a housing bubble.

Home prices rise naturally apace with a growing economy. That’s why real estate is considered as a solid, low risk investment—because land is an appreciating asset.

housing-market-bubble
Source: corelogic.com

And when home prices level off or even dip slightly, that doesn’t mean we’re automatically facing a housing market crash. So, even though home prices have been steadily rising since the housing market crash in 2008, that doesn’t mean we’re heading for another one.

“I do not see a bubble forming although there are several overvalued housing markets in the U.S.,” says Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist with Windermere Real Estate.

“The principal reason why I am not forecasting a crash per-se is that, unlike the 2008 crash, the increase in housing prices and demand is not being driven by speculators, rather it is being driven by demand form solid economic growth. Additionally, home buyers this time around are remarkably qualified to service their mortgages and are also putting down substantially higher down payments.”

That doesn’t mean that another crash isn’t possible. The real estate cycle fluctuates naturally between buyer’s, seller’s, and balanced market conditions—which means home values fluctuate, too.

When home prices sink, there’s always a chance that your home’s value could decrease until it’s less than you owe on your mortgage.

“Theoretically, it could be possible for owners to owe more on their homes than they are worth,” explains Gardner. “This acts as a disincentive to continue to pay their mortgages and we would see a significant rise in foreclosures.”

So there is a chance that we’ll see downturns in the real estate market in the future, due to rising interest rates and reduced demand—and perhaps even a dip significant enough to result in upside-down mortgages and foreclosures.

However, we probably won’t see a housing market crash as severe as the one in 2008.

housing-market-bubble

What did a housing market bubble have to do with the market crash in 2008?

The 2008 financial crisis was so complex that dozens of books have been written to explain what went wrong. While there’s no need to dig deep into all the nuances of that economic calamity, understanding the role the real estate market played will ease any worries about it happening again.

The “perfect storm” that resulted in the housing market crisis had a number of

contributing factors, such as loans that required a 3.5% down payment or less, and the granting of too many adjustable-rate mortgages.

But the biggest factor was this: Mortgage lenders gave those low down payment, adjustable-rate mortgages to high-risk buyers who didn’t have the documentation to prove their economic stability and ability to pay that mortgage back.

housing-market-bubble
Source: thebalance.com

“The mortgage community was not regulated and they were allowed to get away with giving no documentation loans. Any Joe could say he was making half a million dollars to get a loan to buy five houses, but it wasn’t verified,” explains Keyser. “So flippers and investors artificially drove up prices, which eventually reduced demand. Then those investors couldn’t sell at a profit or afford their mortgages, so everything had to come crashing down.”

housing-market-bubble
Source: fred.stlouisfed.org

To make matters worse, many of those no-doc loans got bundled up and sold on the stock market as secure products—but they weren’t. Where investors thought they were buying into an appreciating asset, they were actually buying up bad debt.

The increasing demand for these mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street led banks to grant more and more no-doc loans to high risk, financially unstable buyers. When the housing market took a downturn and home prices began to dip in 2007, all of those homeowners with high-risk mortgages began to default on their loans, which led to mortgage companies filing for bankruptcy—which led to the subprime mortgage crisis.

In order to prevent the economy from collapsing completely, the government stepped in to bailout the banks with the creation of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conservatorships. This need for government intervention led to massive economic reforms.

“After the financial crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank Act and a lot of other financial reform laws went into effect that essentially said, ‘We’re not going to have this happen again.’ We’re not going to allow these no-doc loans,” says Keyser. “Now it’s so secure, they practically want to get your blood type now before you’re actually going to get a loan.”

What happens when the bubble bursts?

We know what did happen when the housing bubble burst in 2008—home prices sank so low so fast that people were paying off mortgages on houses now valued at half or less than they paid for the property.

This led to homeowners defaulting on their loans and losing their homes to foreclosure, which eventually contributed to mortgage companies collapsing.

“The housing bubble can only burst when there’s so much disparity between existing home prices and affordability,” says Keyser. “We’re talking huge numbers here, so that even a $10,000 or $50,000 price reduction on the house isn’t going to make a difference.”

Given the financial reforms, the chances of another catastrophic housing bubble burst are slim, and even the experts admit that it’s difficult to spot a housing bubble until it pops.

However, there are signs to help you spot a downturn in real estate. When interest rates rise, months of supply rates rise, and demand begins to wane, savvy homeowners and soon-to-be sellers know that the current seller’s market is rife for shifting to a balanced or buyer’s market.

And when the housing market shifts, your financial planning and home sale strategies need to shift, too.

housing-market-bubble

What should homeowners and sellers do if a bubble is looming?

“What goes up must come down,” or so says Isaac Newton (and Blood, Sweat Tears). But in the real estate world, what goes up, comes down, and goes back up again.

When a bubble is looming, homeowners who are in no rush to sell should hold on to their homes until the market recovers. Since your property is an appreciating asset, you can rest assured that home prices will eventually rise to previous levels again—although it may take time.

Homeowners would also be wise to refrain from pulling equity out unnecessarily. It’s never wise to pull value out of an asset that’s destined to be worthless, so put off using home equity for things like travel, home remodeling, or extravagant purchases.

However, if you need to sell your house and you’re worried about a looming dip in the housing market, you need to do everything you can to sell your house quickly.

“If you’re on the market in the middle of the pop, good luck. You’d better price your house very aggressively and get it sold or else you’re gonna ride its value all the way down,” advises Keyser. “However, I don’t think that we’re anywhere close to a bubble. I see a potential pullback or market correction. But a bubble is a lot bigger than a pullback.”

Given recent history, fears of another housing market crash are only natural. Luckily, recent federal regulations make it unlikely that we’ll see another world economy-shaking crash.

However, if the real estate market looks like it’s headed for a correction or a slightly more significant downturn, savvy home sellers know to take the necessary steps to protect their investment in their home.

Posted on January 9, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Investing In a Green Home Will Pay Dividends In 2019

Posted in Selling by John Trupin

As we step forward into 2019, eco-friendly “green homes” are more popular than ever. Upgrading your home’s sustainability improves quality of life for those residing in it, but it is also a savvy long-term investment. As green homes become more popular, properties boasting sustainable features have become increasingly desirable targets for homebuyers. Whether designing a new home from scratch or preparing your current home for sale, accentuating a house with environmentally-friendly features can pay big dividends for everyone.

While the added value depends on the location of the home, its age, and whether it’s certified or not, three separate studies all found that newly constructed, Energy Star, or LEED-certified homes typically sell for about nine percent more than comparable, non-certified new homes. Plus, one of those studies discovered that existing homes retrofitted with green technologies, and certified as such, can command a whopping 30-percent sales-price boost.

There are dozens of eco-friendly features that can provide extra value for you as a seller. To name a few:

 

Cool roof

Cool roofs keep the houses they’re covering as much as 50 to 60 degrees cooler by reflecting the heat of the sun away from the interior, allowing the occupants to stay cooler and save on air-conditioning costs. The most common form is metal roofing. Other options include roof membranes and reflective asphalt shingles.

 

Fuel cells

Fuel cells may soon offer an all-new source of electricity that would allow you to completely disconnect your home from all other sources of electricity. About the size of a dishwasher, a fuel cell connects to your home’s natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. One unit would pack more than enough energy to power your whole home.

For many years, fuel cells have been far too expensive or unreliable. But as technology has improved, so too has reliability. Companies like Home Power Solutions and Redbox Power Systems have increased the reliability of these fuel sources while reducing their size. Much like we’ve seen computers and cell phones shrink in size while improving reliability and power, fuel cells continue to be refined.

 

Wind turbine

A wind turbine (essentially a propeller spinning atop an 80- to 100-foot pole) collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, a small version can slash your electrical bill by 50 to 90 percent.

But before you get too excited, you need to know that the zoning laws in most urban areas don’t allow wind turbines. They’re too tall. The best prospects for this technology are homes located on at least an acre of land, well outside the city limits.

 

Green roof

Another way to keep the interior of your house cooler—and save on air-conditioning costs—is to replace your traditional roof with a layer of vegetation (typically hardy groundcovers). This is more expensive than a cool roof and requires regular maintenance, but young, environmentally conscious homeowners are very attracted to the concept.

 

Hybrid heating

Combining a heat pump with a standard furnace to create what’s known as a “hybrid heating system” can save you somewhere between 15 and 35 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Unlike a gas or oil furnace, a heat pump doesn’t use any fuel. Instead, the coils inside the unit absorb whatever heat exists naturally in the outside air, and distributes it via the same ductwork used by your furnace. When the outside air temperature gets too cold for the heat pump to work, the system switches over to your traditional furnace.

 

Geothermal heating

Geothermal heating units are like heat pumps, except instead of absorbing heat from the outside air, they absorb the heat in the soil next to your house via coils buried in the ground. The coils can be buried horizontally or, if you don’t have a wide enough yard, they can be buried vertically. While the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of a hybrid, air-sourced system, the cost savings on your energy bills can cover the installation costs in five to 10 years.

 

Solar power

Solar panels capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. Similarly to wind turbines, your geographical location may determine the feasibility of these installments. Even on cloudy days, however, solar panels typically produce 10-25% of their maximum energy output. For decades, you may have seen these panels sitting on sunny rooftops all across America. But it’s only recently that this energy-saving option has become truly affordable.

In 2010, installing a solar system on a typical mid-sized house would have set the homeowner back $30,000. But as of December 2018, the average cost after tax credits for solar panel installation was just $13,188! Plus, some companies are now offering to rent solar panels to homeowners (the company retains ownership of the panels and sells the homeowner access to the power at roughly 10 to 15 percent less than they would pay their local utility).

 

Solar water heaters

Rooftop solar panels can also be used to heat your home’s water. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average homeowner who makes this switch should see their water bills shrink by 50 to 80 percent.

 

Tax credits/rebates

Many of the innovative solutions summarized above come with big price tags attached. However, federal, state and local rebates/tax credits can often slash those expenses by as much as 50 percent. So before ruling any of these ideas out, take some time to see which incentives you may qualify for at dsireusa.org and the “tax incentives” pages at Energy.Gov.

 

Regardless of which option you choose, these technologies will help to conserve valuable resources and reduce your monthly utility expenses. Just as importantly, they will also add resale value that you can leverage whenever you decide it’s time to sell and move on to a new home.

Posted on January 9, 2019 at 9:40 pm
Renuka Getchell | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , ,