[schema type="organization" orgtype="LocalBusiness" url="http://4salebydonna.com" name="Real Estate Agent Donna Baker" description="Real Estate Agent showing homes for sale and available real estate in Monrovia, Pasadena, Arcadia the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California." city="Monrovia" state="Ca" postalcode="91016" email="donna@4salebydonna.com " phone="(626) 408-7766 "]
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For Monrovia Homeowners, Energy Savings Could Pay Twice

Fountain and Mark Twain

It’s been a welcome relief for Monrovia homeowners as the Bad Old Days of the energy crisis recede from memory. $4+-a-gallon gasoline, huge electric, propane and fuel oil bills that were the subject of national outrage have faded from the headlines. We’re now busy attending to the current challenges of daily living—and OPEC’s machinations aren’t front and center!

But for those area homeowners more attuned to what’s likely to be headed our way sooner or later, now is as good a time as any to prepare for the next spate of energy price surprises. And there are many new products—some in development, some already on the market—that soon could put a serious dent in the damage tomorrow’s energy bills might wreak.

Some of the interesting innovations:

  • Bladeless Fans. These are already out there—the weird-looking magnifying-glass-shaped electric fans that suck hot air in through the base and push a steady stream of air out via an impeller. The no-blades design promises to make them safer, and eventually less of an energy-eater.
  • Smart Thermostats. The best new ones connect to home systems and display how much energy is being used (and how much it’s costing). Being able to see the dollars and cents result of every temperature-setting decision, these “smart” thermostats can’t help but result in measurable energy savings.
  • Flooring Upgrades. Who isn’t attracted to the warmth of hardwood floors? That never changes, but when it comes to the cost factor, they can’t match the energy savings of radiant heat. Unlike older versions of radiant flooring, the new products like Warmboard don’t require running tubes in concrete to circulate hot water. Radiant solutions were already 25% more efficient than forced air—the newer systems allow greater control and lower water temperatures.
  • Sprinkler Controllers. Water bills can be eyebrow-raisers anytime—but if you’ve ever found yourself rushing outside during a rainstorm to figure out how to stop your automatic lawn sprinkling system from adding to the flood, that situation needn’t reoccur. The newest “smart” systems take weather, sprinkler type—even growing conditions—into account. As an extra, mobile apps allow you to supervise from afar.
  • Solar Shingles. They’re not yet at the price point of traditional solar panels (who would have thought that bolt-on solar panels would ever become “traditional”?)—but they are quicker to install and have the advantage of maintaining the traditional rooflines. They are becoming the renewable energy solution with curb appeal!

Investments in home renovations that give homeowners energy savings are investments that pay off twice: right now, as the monthly operating costs are realized; and later, when those advanced features make the property more attractive to buyers. If that “later” is also a time when a future energy crunch is on everybody’s minds, it can be an important selling feature.

That would also be prime time to give me a call!

Top 5 Tips for Real Estate Showings (while Parenting)

For San Gabriel Valley homeowners who are simply coping with the challenges of daily living, keeping the place clean when your small kids are in the house is one of those “trying” situations. If a real estate showing is added to the mix, it can become something close to a sanity-testing situation—“trying” in the same way that brushing your teeth while eating peanut brittle would be “trying.” ­

For veterans of the real-estate-showing-while-parenting situation, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There is ample evidence that prepping your place with kids underfoot can be accomplished without the loss of parental sanity. This word comes from survivors who have lived to tell the tale—and sold their houses, too, no less!

Here are five key tips that are cited most frequently—

  1. Involve ‘Em! This is the advice we also hear from psychologists commenting on housework in general. Rope the little ones into activity at a level that fits with their age level and attention span. Think ‘game,’ and you’re halfway there. Since there is no way you can stop kiddy messes from developing in the first place, create a “new normal” where the end of an activity is always cleaning up afterward.
  2. Reduce Overwhelm. For little ones, help right-size a big job (like “let’s clean your room” into a series of doable ones (“let’s put the books away”). A corollary is to limit any tidying job so that it doesn’t last longer than max 15 minutes (this will work for you, too—once you’ve let go of the idea that every task has to be finished once it’s started).
  3. Construct a Visual. Crafts are fun—so make a connection with cleaning. Tasks can be assigned via your own colorful chore wheel (a Wheel of Fortune with tasks), or a chore grab-bag. Be sure that after task completion comes a reward.
  4. Everything has a Place. Learning where things go is only possible when there IS such a place. It’s good news that kids usually find that returning things to where they belong is sort of fun all by itself. When the job is done, point out how nice everything looks!
  5. Make it an every day habit. Since real estate showings happen at unpredictable intervals, there will be much less to do if cleanups are part of the everyday schedule, anyway. For moms and dads whose goal is to avoid turning into The Hulk every time they want to prepare their area home for a real estate showing, the central key is to involve the kids in a steady-as-she-goes, continuous low-key cleanup system.

Many post-sale adults report that the benefits turn out to be long-lasting. In addition to being able to put the house in top real estate showing trim, they establish ongoing juvenile involvement in household chores—one that travels well (right into their new house, in fact)! If you are going to be listing your local home when small children are part of the equation, the upshot is that it can be turned into a decidedly positive educational experience.

Give me a call for other ideas about how to navigate these and other pre-sale waters when it’s your time to list!

For the Future of San Gabriel Valley Real Estate, an Eventful Week

Last week brought June (and the first half of the year) to an end with a lot of happenings—any one of which could have a significant impact on Monrovia and San Gabriel Valley real estate in the months ahead. The biggest event was another unpredicted swoon in mortgage interest rates.

On Wednesday, the first event came when the National Association of Home Builders released their quarterly Eye on the Economy commentary, which projected “little risk” of a financial crisis from the events in Europe. And in fact, global markets did a good job of rebounding from the previous week’s dips, ending the week pretty much in pre-Brexit territory. NAHB’s view of the stateside situation retained its optimistic tone, noting that “housing remains a bright spot for an economy overcoming yet another soft first quarter…” That was borne out statistically, with housing’s share of the economy on the increase.

CoreLogic’s MarketPulse for June supported that view, showing a home price index that rose 6.2% year-over-year, and completed foreclosures down nearly 16%—which put foreclosures at pre-Recession levels. They noted another interesting fact: cash sales as a share of the market fell to 33% of all sales, a level that matched what it was before the housing crisis. That’s the first time that has happened, and could well signify a final end to real estate’s recovery phase.

The National Association of Realtors® reported on home resales for the previous month, and it was more good news for sellers. Resales rose to a more than nine-year high, with median house prices soaring 4.7% from the same period in 2015. The annual rate was projected at more than 5 ½ million units, “the highest level since February 2007.”

Next, Harvard University released a State of the Nation’s Housing report, with findings that sounded similar. One standout item might be of special interest to local real estate investors with an eye on the rental market. Nationally, the rental market continued to grow in 2015, comprising “the largest one-year increase in renter household” ever.

But the main news had to do with mortgage interest rates and the hangover from the previous week’s vote on Britain’s exit from the European Union. Trulia’s Chief Economist wrote about what Brexit means for the U.S. housing market: “The answer is no one really knows…”

That view was countered at CBS’ Moneywatch with its bold headline, “Brexit will keep U.S. mortgage rates in the basement.” The opinion was grounded on a “powerful though indirect” correlation between the two factors. Citing Bankrate’s Chief Financial Analyst’s complex reasoning, CBS followed by spotlighting Friday’s market verification: “Mortgage rates are tumbling…to rates not seen since 2013.”

If CBS is right, area home buyers could benefit. “Mortgage shoppers are often beneficiaries of market volatility and uncertainty,” according to CBS. Of course, that only comes to pass when the right home at the right price has been found…which is where a timely call to my office enters the picture!