Lauren Davis
REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West | 508-254-0449 | [email protected]


Posted by Lauren Davis on 4/14/2021

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

As you go about your day at home, you might change the thermostat settings more than once to balance your comfort with saving money. But what if you were able to leave all that fine-tuning to a digital system and achieve your goals with little to no effort on your part? Well, if that sounds like a fantastic plan, you’ll love to see what a programmable thermostat has to offer. And you’ll likely delight in learning that new home builders are installing these smart devices more often than not. Here’s what you need to know.

How Do Programmable Thermostats Work?

When you have a programmable thermostat hooked up, you can tell it to alter the temp settings for the heat or air conditioning at specific times throughout the day. Then, it will kick the heating and cooling on as instructed to perfect the temperature in your home.  

Do you like it chilly at night, but warm all day? You can do that. Or you can have it turn down the thermostat when you’re not home and kick it on full blast an hour before you’re set to return. You can also change it up season by season to keep your home comfortable while minimizing what you pay for energy.

No matter what settings you want, you can input your preferences right on the interface or through an app on your smartphone. If you have an app-linked device, you can even make changes while you’re away from home.

Benefits of Using Smart Thermostats

With a smart programmable thermostat installed, you get to enjoy all the following benefits.

Save Energy

You can save a lot of energy using a programmable thermostat. You just need to set it to 68 degrees all day, and then have it automatically turn down to around 66 degrees at night. Then, before you get up in the morning, it can bring the temperature up to 68 again to help you wake up right. You’ll likely notice your home’s energy usage decreasing, helping minimize your household’s carbon footprint.

Keep Bills Low

By using your smart thermostat to keep your home at 68 degrees or so all day and even lower at night, you can enjoy saving up to 10% per year on your energy bill. If you pay an average of $2,400 per year on energy, you’ll likely see a savings of around $240 just from setting your thermostat at the right level.

Stay Comfy

When you dial in your temperature settings around the clock using a programmable thermostat, you get to stay comfy without having to make manual adjustments. You’ll know that your heating and air conditioning systems will kick on at just the right moment to bring your livings space to your ideal temp. You may even wake up feeling more rested than ever before as the lower nighttime temperatures improve your sleep quality.

Protect Pipes

If you’re away from your home for days at a time in the winter months, you may worry about the heat turning off and allowing your pipes to freeze. Thankfully, with an app-connected smart thermostat on hand, you can check that your heater is running day and night.

With all these benefits in mind, it just makes sense to only use a programmable thermostat in your home.

Tips for Using Your Programmable Thermostat

When using a programmable thermostat, you’ll want to set a precise temperature for at least four separate times.

Preferably, set up a temperature for when you:

  • Wake up each morning
  • Leave the house for the day
  • Return home after work or school
  • Go to bed at night

By doing so, you can enjoy all the benefits of having a smart thermostat on your side. You may need to try out different temperatures to best balance your energy bills and comfort. But rest assured that it’s well worth the time and effort in doing so.





Posted by Lauren Davis on 4/7/2021

Image by Aline Oliveira from Pixabay

If you've been dreaming of buying a home or have started looking at houses and mortgages, you've likely seen ads and information that directly targets the first time home buyer. Buying your first home is a significant milestone and one of the most financially beneficial things you'll ever do, and there are some mortgage programs designed to help first time buyers succeed in this life changing endeavor. If you're buying a home for the first time, you should know what programs and perks are available to you so you can strike the best possible deal. Even someone who has purchased a home in the past (but is now a renter) may be able to qualify for some of these plans. 

What is a First Time Home Buyer?

On the surface, its simple -- a first time buyer is one who has never owned a home or had a mortgage. For some programs, though, a first time buyer can also be someone who has not owned a primary residence in the past three years. If you fit either of these categories, you should check out the programs offered for this increasingly large group of buyers. 

Programs for First Time Buyers

First Time Buyer Mortgage Perks: Just about every mortgage company now offers some kind of perk or benefit for first time buyers; talk to your real estate agent to learn more about your options as you shop for your home. FHA, VA and USDA loans are particularly good for first time buyers, since they offer low down payments and more relaxed credit requirements. 

Grants: The Federal government and both state and local governments offer first time buyers assistance in the form of grants. The idea behind these grants is to bolster the buyer's ability to make a purchase, often by helping them out with a downpayment. Grants vary by location and do not have to be paid back; they are designed to help first time buyers get past one of the big barriers to ownership -- that 10 or even 20% downpayment. New Jersey has a grant program for first time home buyers; this plan is replicated by most other states as well. Search your state or city name and "first time home buyer grants" to learn more -- or better yet, work with an experienced real estate agent and get the scoop directly from them. 

Good Neighbor Next Door: This plan can help you save up to 50% of the purchase price of a home if you are a civil servant - police officers, firefighters, teachers and others who serve the community can benefit from this national program, with details seen here.   Because of the nature of the loan, most borrowers are first timers and can purchase homes they would otherwise be unable to afford. 

HomePath: Fannie Mae offers this program for first time buyers; it can save you up to 3% on your closing costs. You'll need to attend a class, must be a true first time buyer and purchase a qualifying property to save. Other perks include a first look at foreclosed properties as they arrive on the market, making this an ideal program for areas with a lot of competition for buyers. 

First Time Buyers Can Find Big Savings

The time to learn about first time home buyer benefits is now -- before you make a purchase. Once you have a mortgage, you no longer qualify and you could miss out on some substantial savings. Get in touch today if you are buying your first home -- we can help ensure you know about all the ways you can benefit and help walk you through the ownership process, every step of the way. 




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Lauren Davis on 3/31/2021

Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

It's no secret that people are living longer and maintaining more active lifestyles as they age. While the ultimate goal is to stay agile and able, we all know that at some point, we may not be able to do what we once could. 

Accessible home can help us continue to live comfortably and independently with minimal assistance. So whether you're planning on aging in place or welcoming your aging parent into your home, check out the three primary types of accessible designs along with specific features to look for.

1. Accessible Design

A home with an "accessible design" meets government requirements in your area. These may be established by HUD or the state. But they usually dictate things like:

  • Number of steps into the home
  • Whether countertops are wheelchair accessible
  • Doorway width
  • Some states may require bathtub handles and lower light switches. Pedestal style sinks would allow a person in a wheelchair to roll up under the sink to reach the water more efficiently. 

    2. Adaptable Homes

    Very able people understandably may not want to live in an accessible design. That's because, at times, it can make things less convenient for them and may look "clinical" rather than aesthetically-appealing. It all depends on your priorities. For example, often accessible homes sacrifice storage space for knee room under counters and sinks.

    Adaptable homes are built in such a way that they can adapt to changing needs. For example, under-counter cabinets may be easily removed if someone in the house starts using a wheelchair.

    These homes often have structural features that are accessible by nature, like wider doors and open floor plans. They may also have hideable accessibility features like a detachable grab bar.

    3. Universal Design

    The idea behind universal is that it meets many kinds of needs and is usable by most people. Because it's not specifically-designed around a particular type of disability, the design may not be ideal for any one person. Universal plans work well for multi-generational or multi-ability level households.

    A great example of universal design is moving several outlets two to three feet above the floor so that you don't have to bend over to plug something in. 

    A universal home may also be generally accessible but have one suite that is more accessible than the rest of the house. It may have one bathroom that has a walk-in tub, grab bars next to the toilet. You may have a ramp on one of the entrances. 

    Choosing an Accessible Home

    When selecting an accessible home, it's important to realize there may be overlap in how these terms are used. Inspect the home yourself to see if it meets your needs now and into the future. For more tips for the savvy homebuyer, follow our blog.




    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by Lauren Davis on 3/24/2021

    Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

    If you're like many Americans, your home is your biggest asset. And if you're thinking of selling your home to use the profits for a new home, sending the kids off to college or simply adding it to a retirement fund, there are a few things you may want to avoid to make sure your home sells. 

     Setting the Price too High

    Some sellers make the mistake of thinking their home is worth more than comparable properties. A lot of times, living in the home and becoming attached to it may cause an overestimation of the value of upgrades or dismissal of the lower price tag of similar homes with similar features.

    When you price a house too high, though, the property may stay longer on the market and go through several price reductions before it finally attracts interested buyers. And if you happen to be in a new home already, you might be paying two mortgage payments while waiting for a buyer to place an offer. Putting the right price on your home helps ensure buyer interest and a quick sale.

    Neglecting to Order a Pre-inspection

    Some buyers are open to fixing problems, but your cost during the negotiation phase may be significantly higher than it would have been if you hired a contractor to fix any preexisting issues.

    A way to solve this problem is to order your own inspection before you put your house on the market. This is also a great way to establish buyer trust, showing that you are transparent about the house's issues when you give them the report or show the report of the issues being fixed.

    Going Overboard on Presale Renovations

    You love your home, and you want to prove to the buyer that it is a gem. But sinking too much money into presale renovations can mean spending money that you may not get back during the negotiations. You also want to be careful that you're not spending your renovation budget on cosmetic enhancement when the house needs structural improvements. That is another excellent reason to invest in a home inspection prior to putting your house on the market. 

    Failing to Choose the Right Agent

    The real estate agent you choose to sell your home makes all the difference -- and with buyers' agents requesting up to 6 percent in closing fees, it's important to make sure you find someone who will work hard for you.

    What should you look for? Good chemistry tops the chart, since you need to be able to trust your agent to act in your best interest. Other important factors are familiarity with the local market, experience selling houses in your price range, access to good marketing databases, and evidence of a strong network.

    Ready to get started with the home selling process? Contact me, and we'll get the ball rolling!




    Tags: home seller   selling  
    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by Lauren Davis on 3/17/2021

    Image by Tom from Shutterstock

    Energy efficiency isn’t just for the inside of your home. What you plant outside can affect the bottom line inside. Choosing the right trees, grasses, and shrubs can help.

    Location, location, location

    Well placed trees can help to reduce your heating and cooling bills. Trees can keep your home cooler in the summer and protected and insulated in the winter. Determine where to plant the saplings so that when they mature, they shade your roof and upper rooms. Plant leafy deciduous trees to the East, West, or South sides of your home so that the shadows fall on your house. Eventually, they’ll keep you shaded in the blistering summer months. In the winter, those trees will lose their leaves allowing warmth from the sun to reach your windows through the bare branches.

    When planting trees on the north or northwest side of your house, utilize evergreens as a windbreak. They’ll reduce the amount of frigid air that hits your house in the winter. Strategically planted rows can create a windbreak for an entire side of your home. Cypress, fir, or low-branch pines create great windbreaks. Be sure to account for growth when you choose a planting location, 10 to 15 feet between each tree is a good place to start.

    Efficiency

    If you have central air conditioning, use shrubs and bushes to shade your condensing unit. Experts estimate that a protected A/C can boost efficiency by ten percent or more. Keep your plants and shrubs about three feet away from your condensing unit so that it has proper airflow. Trim trailing vines or branches that grow close to the equipment or ventilation.

    Groundcover

    Replace grass with stones or a concrete slab that reflects light and heat toward your home. That will keep your home warmer in the winter months. Dark wood chips, mulch, or green groundcover help to absorb daytime heat that is then slowly released throughout the evening and overnight. This process works to keep your home cooler during the day but adds warmth to outdoor entertainment spaces in the evening.

    If you’re searching for the perfect new house, let your real estate professional know about your desire for energy efficiency. They can help you find the ideal home to put your ideas into action.




    Categories: Uncategorized