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Top Energy-Efficient Upgrades That Buyers Are Looking for in 2018


By Kaitlin KrullEditor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall.

As a real estate professional, it's imperative that you keep up with the latest housing trends. After all, the features that buyers are looking for are constantly changing. If you want to stay relevant in a competitive real estate market, you'll need to keep your ear to the ground and understand how your buyer works. In 2018, buyers are looking for homes that have been designed with the environment in mind, specifically with an increased capacity for energy efficiency and sustainability. Here are the energy-efficient upgrades that buyers are looking for this year:
Smart Tech Upgrades
Home automation has finally reached mass distribution for residential consumers. Many homes are now equipped with smart technology, such as home hubs, smart lighting systems, energy meters and thermostats, security systems, and other appliances. Because these devices learn your individual preferences and can be linked together for peak performance, they can actually help homeowners save money on energy bills. In 2018, buyers want homes equipped with the latest smart tech devices.
New and Updated Solar Panels

It's no surprise that homes with solar panels sell for more than homes without, but the latest developments in renewable technology mean that just having rooftop panels isn't good enough anymore for eco-conscious buyers. However, by upgrading existing units to incorporate a more streamlined look and efficient performance, homeowners can make their already eco-friendly properties more enticing for potential buyers. This can be done by investing in integrated solar roof tiles or battery storage systems (both of which were introduced by motoring company Tesla in the past few years) in order to prepare a solar-clad home for the future and attract buyers.
Natural Materials and Furnishings
As far as interior design is concerned, the simplicity of Scandinavian design is still trending. Here are some of the hallmarks of this minimalist style:

  • Natural elements such as untreated wood, bamboo, wicker and other natural textiles
  • Chemical-free paints and fabrics
  • Sustainably-sourced materials like FSC certified wood

The most eco-friendly homes are better for the environment in nearly every way. Buyers with a vested interest in design trends and a serious passion for the environment will go to great lengths for a home with these kinds of features.
Ultra Efficient Windows and Doors
Although windows and doors aren't exactly the most exciting part of a property, they make a difference in the minds of environmentally-conscious buyers. New energy-efficient windows equipped with two or three panes of glass offer added insulation, security and soundproofing for a home. They can also substantially lower energy bills. These multiple layers of glass—when coupled with low-emissivity coatings and insulating gases—can prevent heat from entering the home in summer and escaping in winter. This is a particularly useful upgrade for older buildings, and you can bet that buyers will notice when a period home has had its windows tastefully upgraded. 
Sustainable Design
This applies more to new builds, but it's worth noting that the design of a home can affect its energy efficiency rating in a significant way. Homes that have natural shade, for example, will generally stay cooler in the summer than homes that have no surrounding trees or shrubbery. A home's exterior can also affect privacy and noise pollution levels. Although eco-conscious buyers have embraced the idea of passive design for new buildings, they will still be interested in existing properties that take steps toward increased sustainability in other ways (i.e., by improving landscaping to add shade and privacy or installing shutters and awnings to minimize solar heat gain).
Current trends certainly suggest that eco-friendly living is here to stay, so buyers will only become more attracted by energy-efficient homes as time goes on. Therefore, it is crucial that real estate professionals understand the best ways to make a home more energy-efficient and the ways in which these upgrades can positively affect buyers. Just remember to keep an eye on developments across the industry, since technology changes at lightning speeds.
Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls, originally from the U.S., now living the expat life in the UK. Her writing is featured on and a number of home decor sites around the web. She can also be found blogging from time to time on her personal blog, A Vicar's Wife.  

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Mortgage Rates Move on Uptrend




By RISMedia Staff

Mortgage rates again moved up this week, continuing an uptrend, with the average 30-year, fixed rate at 4.43 percent, according to Freddie Mac's recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average 30-year, fixed rate was 4.40 percent the week prior. The average 15-year, fixed rate this week is 3.90 percent, while the average five year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate is 3.62 percent.
Mortgage rates are moved, primarily, by 10-year Treasury yields.

"Optimistic testimony on Capitol Hill from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent Treasury yields higher as Powell stated his outlook for the economy has strengthened since December," says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac. "Following Treasuries, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped three basis points to reach 4.43 percent in this week's survey. The 30-year rate has been on a tear in 2018, climbing 48 basis points since the start of the year and increasing for eight consecutive weeks."
Housing has begun to feel the impact of higher mortgage rates, with existing and pending home sales in January tumbling. 
"As we documented, historically when mortgage rates surge, housing swoons," Kiefer says, "but we think strength in the economy and pent-up housing demand should allow U.S. housing markets to post modest growth this year even with higher mortgage rates. We really have to wait for housing markets to heat up in spring, but early indications are that housing demand remains robust to these rate increases."
Source: Freddie Mac  

For more real estate information, including a FREE Home Market Analysis and Market Area Statistics, please contact me at or on my mobile phone at (251) 269-0950. 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Experience Matters


 I received a call from a friend in the lending business the other day.  A buyer was backing out of a deal because he didn’t understand the math behind investing in a condo.  His new, young agent wasn’t familiar with the math, and didn’t know how to guide him through the process of purchasing a condo as an investment.  It was the agent’s first condo sale, and apparently, it wasn’t going to happen.  (It never did, actually.)

In my discussion with my friend, I equated it with buying a Range Rover from a young Chevy salesman.  One wouldn’t make that kind of financial investment without having an education on the product or buying it from an expert. 
There are many real estate agents in the marketplace these days.  Do yourself a favor, find an experienced full-time agent that is an expert where you are looking.  You are making a HUGE investment, for some – if it’s a home – it’s the biggest investment of their lives.  You wouldn’t buy a home from someone who didn’t understand the market, process or the structure, would you? 
You’d be surprised how just many people trust a friend with no experience to handle a huge investment.  If I have a friend call me to purchase say, a hunting camp, I don’t suggest they use me to purchase it.  It’s not my area of expertise.  I can find the right agent for them though, and in this case, I did.  I knew enough to ask about mineral rights and timber on the camp, and told my friend, that was about the extent of my hunting camp know-how.  Even that impressed him, because he didn’t know to ask that.  
Here’s what I do know, and my 20+ years of real estate sales, investing and management have taught me:  Know your product and admit when it’s not in your wheelhouse.  Know the process.  Know the experts who can help out in a multitude of situations from topography to structural.
I manage condos all along the beach and invest in them.  All of my condos generate revenue.  I also invest in homes and own homes along the Eastern Shore.  I can sell condos, because I own them, have been on condo boards, and know that the math and management of a solid complex makes a huge difference in terms of an investment. 
I understand structure.  I understand the water.  There are many variables when selling on the water that many young agents do not understand from surveys to insurance.   Most importantly, I understand the complete process.
When you get me, you get me.  I don’t meet you once then pass you off to my team.  You talk with me, directly.  I do not bite off more than I can chew and I will never be one of those huge teams which has 10 people working for them, all with varying levels of experience.

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