Friday, October 30, 2009

Save Money This Winter!


October 30, 2009----Fall is officially here and winter is peeking it's ugly head around the corner. According to John Belski's count of winter weather folklore, 19 of 26 weather folklore sayings are pointing to a cold and snowy winter. Now, this is not scientifically sound evidence or proof that this winter will be cold and precipitous, but we all know that the meteorologists don't always get it right. Many times, I think it is much more reliable looking at the signs from nature. A few examples from Belski's blog are:
  1. "When spring flowers bloom again during the fall, that is a sign of a cold winter coming up. So far there has been a "second season" bloom of the crabapples, viburnum, bamboo nandina and several others. COLD"
  2. "A warm November is usually followed by a cold winter. This November the temperatures are averaging several degrees above normal and it is expected to stay mild into Thanksgiving....COLD"
  3. "Wooly worms- there are 4 sayings here. The main one concerns the brown band. Wooly worms are black on both ends and brown in the middle. The wider the brown band, the milder the winter. This year the brown band is wider than usual...MILD There have been an average number of wooly worms around....NORMAL If the all black wooly worms are extra furry, it will be a cold winter....COLD If the wooly worms are visible before the first frost, it will be a cold winter....COLD"
  4. "August fogs-the foggier the August...the snowier the winter. We had 16 days with fog in August... SNOWY"
With that chilly forecast in mind, I want to give you some tips to save money on your heating bill this winter. Make sure you stay warm, but don't spend your savings account doing so. Some money saving tips you can do by changing habits, others will need to make an initial investment, but will see the pay off in the years to come.

  • Unplug any small appliances when not in use. (i.e. coffee pot, can opener, toaster, hair dryer, phone chargers, laptop computers, etc) Combined, these can use as much power as the refrigerator.
  • Wash your clothes with cold water. As much as 90% of the energy used when washing clothes goes into heating the water for a warm or hot cycle.
  • Clean your outside dryer vent to allow the heat to escape freely. Also, clean out your lint filter after every load.
  • Run your dishwasher with a full load and turn off the heated dry option. Burn some calories and hand dry or open the door and let them air dry. This saves more energy than you think!
  • Set your thermostat down 5 degrees when you are sleeping. You don't really need the entire house warm and toasty when your snoozing for almost 8 hours during the coldest part of the night. Warm up with an blanket on the bed. For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you will save up to 5% on heating costs.
  • Seal any cracks, leaks, or gaps around windows by caulking, sealing, or adding weather stripping. This can save up to 20% on home heating costs.
  • Turn off some lights. You don't need every light in the house on, just the lights for the room that you are in.
  • Set your water heater to a "normal setting" of 120 degrees. This will save you around 10% on your bills.
  • Replace furnace filters often and keep your furnace clean. The cheaper the filter, the more often you need to change it. Write it on your calendar in advance or else you will keep forgetting. This will save you up to 5%.
  • Take a shorter shower. If you cut your shower time in half, you will reduce your heating costs by about 33%.
  • Close some of your blinds, shades or curtains at night or when not at home. This creates a barrier and keeps more heat in your home.
  • If you are planning on buying a new appliance anyways, do your homework and purchase one that uses less energy. Some energy efficient washing machines use 50% less energy than those from years past.
  • Wrap your water heater with insulation. (Leave the air intake vent uncovered!) This will save you up to 10% especially if you have an older water heater.
  • Add insulation into your ceiling, attic and/or walls. Check around locally for reliable companies that are competitively priced. Ask your Realtor if they have a contact.
  • Replace old, drafty windows with some that are more energy efficient.
Many of these options are free, so why would you not want to implement them? Test it out, see how much money you save, then decide which tips you want to continue and which you are willing to spend extra energy costs on.

Check out the full list of Winter Weather Folklore on Wave3. Read More!

Melissa Simms
Realtor @ RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Much is My Home Worth?

Appreciation of Single Family Homes in Louisville, Kentucky

October 28, 2009

The chart to the right shows what single family homes have averaged since 1971 comparing the number of sales to the total dollar volume in sales to the average home price and the average percent of change. With information taken from the Louisville Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, this shows how the Louisville area has changed over the past 30+ years and the stability of the market in this area.

In 1972, the average home cost $25, 144. During the 1980's the Louisville market showed double digit appreciation. In order to get inflation under control, President Reagan raised interest rates into the double digits. In 1982 homes in Louisville went down -5.14% due to these sky high interest rates. The average home price this year was $53, 092.

Through the rest of the 1980's, 1990's, and beginning of the 2000's; the area along with the country saw over 23 years of appreciation. Homes appreciated anywhere from 1.81% to 10.41% during these years. With over two decades of appreciation and just a handful of years showing depreciation; WHY wouldn't you invest in real estate?

Current Look: In 2008, the market showed a decline of -5.90%; down but not as bad as other areas of the country. Since we are at the end of 2009, this year has thus far shown a decline of -2.03%. The Louisville market has gone down more, BUT seeing as the decline was less than the year before this is telling me that we must be coming out of the economic slump. The tax credits have helped to spur the market & will continue too up until their expiration in April 2010. The market won't be down forever. Louisville's history proves that real estate is a great long term investment. Buy NOW!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hints on Showing Your Home


October 19, 2009------It is very important to spruce up your home as much as possible so that when buyers visit, they are favorably impressed. Over the past years, we have found that by taking the following steps you can make your home more appealing, and increase the likelihood that it will sell quickly, and for the best possible price.

Steps to Take Now

  • Keep lawn neatly trimmed.
  • Clean all windows
  • Paint or clean entry porch & front door.
  • Replace all burned out light bulbs.
  • Tidy up closets. If possible, clean out your closets & store as many items as you can someplace else.
  • Eliminate clutter from counter tops, bookcases, and all floor areas.
  • If you have pets, determine if there is any area (preferably outside or in your garage) where you can confine them to when potential buyers visit.
  • Fix any leaky faucets or defective electrical switches.
  • Give your home a careful cleaning.
Steps to Take When a Buyer is About to Arrive at Your Home
  • Turn all the lights on, even if it's daytime.
  • Open all drapes.
  • Tidy up kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Freshen up any cat litter box, or hide it.
  • Keep the house comfortable. This may require turning the heat up to at least 68 degrees in the winter. If you have a working fireplace, light a fire.
  • Put money and valuables out of sight.
Steps to Take When an Agent is About to Bring a Buyer to Your Home
In addition to the above steps:
  • Try to leave the house during the visit. Buyers will be more comfortable if the owner isn't present.
  • If you can't arrange for your children to go somewhere else, keep them occupied in one room or outside on a nice day.
  • Let the sales associate show your house. Do not follow them around your house.
  • Save the business card of the sales associate who shows your house, so that you agent can follow up with them the next day.

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hey Louisville..Support a Local Restaurant!


October 11, 2009

Café Mantra- Bardstown Road

Pro: Cheap, cheap, cheap! Serve breakfast all day long.
Con: Slow service.

Havana Rumba- St. Matthews
Pro: Lots of choices!
Con: Packed.

Louisville Pizza Co. / Cubby Ray’s- Jeffersontown
Pro: Reasonably priced. Best pizza I’ve ever had!
Con: You won’t stay on your diet.

El Tarasco- Lyndon
Pro: Cheap, cheap, cheap! Lots of food & quick. Great margaritas.
Con: Parking.

Corner Café- Lyndon
Pro: Great, original recipes. Huge menu!
Con: Atmosphere.

Corbett’s- Summit Area
Pro: AMAZING food & service! Excellent flavor & presentation.
Con: Pricey for dinner. Make reservations for lunch (cheaper!).

Sakura Blue- St. Matthews
Pro: Lots of sushi choices.
Con: Small restaurant.

Great Harvest Bread Co.- Hurstbourne Lane
Pro: Delicious bread! Great sandwiches & soups. Just the right amount.
Con: Limited seating.

Uptown Café - Bardstown Road
Pro: Nice atmosphere. Amazing food. Many unique options (i.e. duck ravioli).
Con: Parking is bad on weekends.

Wild Eggs- Breckenridge Lane & Westport Village
Pro: Fun atmosphere! Best waffles ever. Have breakfast or lunch.
Con: Packed on weekends…go early.

And For Dessert!

Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen
Pro: Lots of choices for dessert. Everything I’ve had from here was great.
Con: They run out often. Order your pie ahead!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Louisville Housing Market vs. National Housing Market

October 8, 2009
This chart compares the national real estate market with the market in Louisville,KY.

X Axis= Year
Y Axis= Price of Home

Homes in Louisville did not have the extreme increase in price in the early 2000's as the national market, therefore the Louisville market did not and is not having as much of a decline in the value of our homes. This historical analysis shows us the stability of the housing market in Louisville.

Trust in your investment! After-all, it's one of the biggest investments you will ever make.

Melissa Simms

RE/MAX Associates

Monday, October 5, 2009

Set The Stage!!


October 5, 2009-----With more and more people watching home improvement shows on HGTV and TLC, we are finding that buyers now expect for homes to be perfect upon entry. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the knack to decorate, pick the “right” colors, or even arrange furniture, but since most buyers are visual you want to make sure your home has that “wow” factor.

Here are some tips to help you stage your home prior to placing it on the market. Do you want tips specific to YOUR home? Call me and I will check out your home personally and then give you my professional opinion along with a “To Do” list specific to your home.

Clean Up the Clutter
No one wants to walk into someone else’s mess. Get plastic bins & re-organize. Make piles for stuff you want to “Keep”, “Sell”, & “Donate”. Have a yard sale, make a trip to Goodwill, and box up the rest.

Make Your Home Odorless
Don’t let your home smell like you have a dog, cat, or smoker. Open the windows & air it out. Don’t just plan on spraying Lysol or burning candles. You may need to scrub the carpets, wash or re-paint the walls, or clean the air vents to truly rid the home. Read their packages for safety & to make sure they aren’t a fire hazard. Don’t think your house has its own scent? Have a friend or neighbor come over to tell you their honest opinion if the scent is too strong, unpleasant, etc.

Eat Off the Floor

Would you eat off your floor? If not, then you need to clean your home that you could eat directly off the floor. If that thought is not too far fetched your home probably meets others standards & would be clean enough for them to see their children or selves in.

Lighten Up
Open (and clean) the blinds. Take down any dark, dreary curtains. Paint the walls a neutral color, such as tan, beige, off-white, etc. Neutral colors reflect the light better and make the home appear clean. Take down old, out-of-date wallpaper & put up a fresh coat of paint. It will work wonders.Set Your Home ApartSelling during the winter? Buy some fresh, vibrant flowers to bring joy to your home or turn on the fireplace for a warm, cozy feel. Turn on the lights before you leave. It makes the home look livable even when first entering.

Keep the Peace

Take down any items that could be controversial. Have any politically charged collectibles, hunting or fishing decor (i.e. deer head & guns), drinking related items, inappropriate art for children? It’s best to go ahead and pack these up for storage.

Does It Look Like YOU Live There?

Yes- You need to do a bit more staging to your home.
No- Your ready to go!

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates