Solar Power for Homes Increases Resale Values

Here’s an idea to boost your home’s resale value: install a residential solar power system. Recent studies show that homes that have solar energy systems can increase their values to the point that the increase in sale price covers the investment made by the homeowner in the solar installation itself.

The Proof is in the Research

In the spring of 2011, the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) released the findings of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley which studied California home sales between the years 2000 and 2009. Of the approximately 72,000 homes tallied, researchers noted that the 2,000 houses that had solar energy systems sold for a significantly higher price than the others, all other things being equal. This “solar premium” was estimated to be between $4 and $6 per watt or around $17,000 for a 3100-watt system. Interestingly, it was found that very old systems and those that were built into new construction did not command the price premium of houses whose installations were not too old and not too new, but apparently “just right”.

Another study released in July of 2011 by the National Bureau of Economic Research also noted the solar premium enjoyed by solar-powered homes. This report showed that home solar power systems were responsible for a 3.5% hike in sale prices in the counties of San Diego and Sacramento between 2003 and the present. In addition, the DOE states in its “Homebuilder’s Guide to Going Solar” that a solar-powered home will sell nearly twice as fast as a house without solar. They also mention polls where consumers indicate that they would like to see builders of new homes offer solar as a standard feature.

Consumers are Warming to Solar Energy

Why are buyers willing to pay so much more for these homes? Quite simply, because they expect to pay much lower monthly energy bills. DOE notes that for every $1 that is saved on yearly utility bills, the value of the home increased by $20. This certainly shows the emphasis consumers put on energy savings! These savings build up quickly, too: some quick figuring on the Calfinder blog shows that, on average, households using home solar power systems can expect to save approximately 50% off of their annual electricity bills. Add solar thermal into the mix, and the savings increase even more.
It is evident that installing solar power systems for homes now ranks right up there with other home improvement projects, such as renovating kitchens and baths, which give back as much or more than their original cost when the homeowner decides to sell. As far as home solar power is concerned, remember that this particular improvement has the added advantage of drastically decreasing a household’s energy bills after the project goes online. That is something that can’t be said about a redesigned kitchen or bath!

What Could You Save?

To figure out what you could save with a solar energy installation, use one of the many solar calculators online to figure out variables such as your current energy usage and costs, how large a solar system you would need, etc. The best calculators will also let you fill in any state or local rebates or subsidies, which you can find at DSIRE. You just may find that, whether you are planning to sell or not, a solar-powered home is a great investment anyway.

Add Storage Space for Your Resident

One common problem many homeowners have is storage space. Many people accumulate a wide variety of items. However, they have no convenient place to store them. Some prefer to rent a unit to store items, while others who want a more secure location are looking for different options. With their skill and expertise, a residential architect can help you add storage space to your home.

Since you see your home every day, you may not see the different uses it may have. A residential architect can come and bring a different perspective on how to use the space in the house. One of the best times to think about adding storage is when you are remodeling your home.

Think About How Much More Space You Will Need

You can still add it even if you are not remodeling your home. You just need to think about how much more space you will need. If you have stairs, then think about putting storage space under and around them. This space is often overlooked and remains unused. Space can be used for shelving or a place for cabinets. It can also be a great place for a display.

Don’t Make the Same Mistake

The attic is one option for storing items. Many people make the mistake of just stacking boxes in an attic and not maximizing the space. If the structure of the house allows it, the attic can be converted into a functional and useful space with the help of a residential architect. The architect can help map out the best places to install storage in the attic and what materials will be best.

Alcoves and Corners

Various alcoves and corners in your home can easily become storage spaces. Cabinetry can be added to the corners of different rooms. Also, alcoves can be transformed with the aid of a residential architect to work stations or project areas.

Check Your Local Building Codes

Before doing any work on your home, make sure to check your local building codes. Even minor construction to a home may require a building permit. A residential architect will be able to help with the permit process and make sure all projects are up to code.

There are many benefits to adding storage to your home. Your home will be more well-designed and have an added appeal to buyers when it is time to sell. Adding more storage space to your home is a great investment. With all the added functionality, you will have more style and value in your home.…

Family Home Residential Appraisal Analysis

Ever wonder how appraisers come up with the reconciled opinion of value for the residential appraisal? This article will provide some insight to the layperson on how this occurs. We must first identify the problem to be solved (a type of value sought such as market value, insurable value, and more), the market value being the most common. We must also determine what we need to do to solve the problem (scope of work). Once we do this, then we proceed.

First, not All Appraisers Appraise the Same

This can be related to a few things such as appraiser knowledge, appraiser experience, appraiser not being technologically savvy, appraisers not willing to change, and other reasons. For these reasons and others, you will never get 5 appraisers to come up with the same opinion of value (appraisal). We should, however, be in the “ballpark”. So here we go.

Subject Data on Residential Appraisal

Let’s start with the subject that is the house being appraised. We visit the home, measure to obtain square footage and sketch, take photos (front, rear, and street) at a minimum. These days we require to take interior photos as well. We visually inspect inside and out looking at upkeep, quality, room additions, upgrades, and many other factors. We look at the subject neighborhood and any positive and/or negative aspects such as power lines, train tracks airplane flight paths, overall neighborhood appeal, and more. Please note, that when we use the term “inspect”, it is referring to visualization.

Sales Comparable Approach

After gathering all the necessary information and data for the subject. The appraiser turns his attention to finding appropriate comparables. Comparables are homes that have recently sold within the subdivision of the subject or close to the subject generally not more than 1 mile away. Comparables can also be listings, houses that are on the market for sale but have not yet sold. These comparables or comps as they are affectionately referred to need to be similar to the subject in terms of square footage, design, and amenities.

Any differences in any of these items require what we call adjustments to the comps. The adjustments can be based on quality or quantity (qualitative or quantitative), they can be a percentage or a dollar amount. The adjustments give the comps an adjusted sales price which is what we base the opinion of value. Some of us appraisers not all, also employ the use of charts and graphs to support our adjustments.

Cost Approach to Residential Appraisal

The appraiser also has to consider land value, depreciation, and cost of improvements. This is what next should be important to think about. It’s only accurate when we are appraising new home construction.

Income Approach

Income is only considered when the house is a rental property and provides income. In this approach, income and operating expenses, gross rent multipliers are count. There is much more that goes with the two latter approaches to value. However, we will continue with the main approach to value for the residential homes which is the Sales Comparable Approach. After adjustments are ready for the sales comparables, we form an opinion of value, review, and submit our report.

It is important as appraisers before we submit any report. This is what we as appraisers have to consider in all of our reports. Make sure we are adhering to the standards in all approaches to an opinion of value that we may use.

This article provides a brief overview of the consumer on how appraisers provide an opinion of value. There is, however, so much more to analyzing the data gathered and preparing an accurate and credible appraisal report.…

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Contractor

So you’ve decided that it is time for some house remodeling but aren’t sure if you should hire a contractor or DIY. Do you even know what is involved? Why would you want to hire someone to remodel your home when you can do it yourself? There are many advantages to hiring a contractor over a DIY project and we will cover these in this article.

They are better equipped to handle difficult jobs

One advantage of hiring a contractor is that they are better equipped to handle difficult jobs. A general contractor has a variety of different skills, from carpentry to electrical work to landscaping. While general contractors usually perform larger home renovations, others (subcontractors) specializing in a specific field, such as plumbing, roofing, or electrical work will do a great job on smaller jobs as well. This gives homeowners the opportunity to save money by hiring a contractor instead of doing everything themselves.

Added security

Another advantage of hiring a contractor is the added security. In this day and age, there have been plenty of home invasions and break-ins, including home renovations. By hiring a contractor to help with the house remodeling process, homeowners have peace of mind knowing that their work is done by someone who is not only licensed and insured but that they are experienced and qualified. This ensures that their work will be as safe as possible.

The ability to choose what kind of job to complete

A third advantage to hiring a contractor for small renovations is the ability to choose what kind of job to complete. When doing a project in your home, it is easy to be distracted by the bright lights and bustling noise, so hiring a contractor allows homeowners to set their own schedules and work on whatever project is most appropriate.

The contractor is the price

The final advantage of hiring a contractor is the price. If you are looking into home renovations, you are probably wondering how you can afford to pay for all of the work yourself. You may not have to hire a contractor for your entire home renovation project, but it is possible to do some things yourself and save money at the same time.

The cost of hiring contractors for house renovations is lower than the price of hiring an individual to do the job. Contractors can also help you out with costs associated with doing the renovation themselves. If you know how to install window treatments and trim, for example, a contractor may offer to do some of these tasks at a reduced rate.…