Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can You See the Savings?

LED 200.jpgIf you’ve considered changing your light bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs but decided not to make the investment because the prices were too high, you might want to investigate again.  The prices have come down considerably.

An initial investment now will generate immediate returns through energy costs and because they last longer, you won’t need to replace them for years.

The life of LED bulbs is projected to be from 35,000 to 50,000 hours compared to an incandescent bulb at 750 to 2,000 hours.  For normal home use, a LED bulb could last more than 20 years.

80-90% of the energy used by fluorescent and incandescent bulbs is wasted by the heat generated.  In contrast, cool LED bulbs converts 80% of the electrical energy to light energy.

• The color of LED lights is bright white, more like daylight, instead of the warm yellow of incandescent or the greenish tint of fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs light up instantly instead of building to their intensity like some of the fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs are more durable because they don’t have filaments or thin-glass bulbs like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Shop around to find the best price on LEDs. If the LED only lasted 20,000 hours, you might have to purchase 20 incandescent bulbs during that same period of time.  Using the chart below, you can see that the LED uses about 10% of the wattage without compromising on the brightness.

Watt comparison.png

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas with the Stars

The shining lights and sparkly bulbs are always a bit mesmerizing, but Hollywood sure does know how to take it up a notch.   This week, we took a peek (thanks to HGTV's Holiday Home Makeovers) at some celebrity Christmas trees that are definitely unique, but sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

To see the full slide show and others like it click HERE


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Perfect Last Minute Gift

seasons greetings.pngIt’s part of holiday tradition to celebrate with family and friends and to share gifts with our loved ones.  There’s no measuring how much is spent on the combined effort and money to find the perfect gift. 

The challenge is to identify the right gift in the right color and size; something they really want and need; and something that won’t break the budget. 

“Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent” are suggestions that have been offered on numerous Internet sites attributed to an anonymous writer.  They may be just what you need to find the perfect gift. 

• THE GIFT OF LISTENING...but you must really listen. No interrupting; no daydreaming; no planning your response; just listening.

• THE GIFT OF AFFECTION...be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds.  Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

• THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER...clip cartoons and share articles and funny stories.  Your gift will say “I love to laugh with you."

• THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE...it can be a simple "thanks for the help" note or a full letter.  A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime and may even change a life.

• THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT...a simple and sincere, "you look great in red" or "you did a super job" or "that was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

• THE GIFT OF A FAVOR... go out of your way every day to do something kind.

• THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE...there are times when a person wants nothing more than to be left alone.  Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

• THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION...the easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone.  It’s really not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Trend Alert

'Tis the season for projections and predictions regarding the coming year's trends. As always we urge you to use caution when considering decor and design trends as most are sure to come and go in the blink of an eye- you may recall our Trend With Caution blog...
We've done some research and come up with the top "trends" that we think are most likely to catch on in a long-term way:

The return of warmth: For a while now industrial materials and stark minimalism have left homes feeling a bit cold and harsh. Not any more. Hammered and dulled brass is gaining popularity along with a comfortable mix of wood, tile, and metallic finishes. Clean lines and a lack of clutter aren't going anywhere, but they're likely to be surrounded by a bit more warmth.
Photo credit: Neil Kelly Co.

Don't do it yourself:  As the recession seems to be waning people are a bit more at ease hiring someone to do their home projects. The DIY theme of the past decade is giving way to the expertise of local professionals ready and willing to help you.

Technology comes home: From electrical sockets with USB ports to motion sensing faucets, technology is making its way into the house. And not only are home appliances and devices getting smarter, but they can now link to your smart phone in some instances. Control your home's temperature and set the security system from across town?  Why not!

Nature and nurture: Interior Designs incorporating raw finishes and natural materials are on the rise. This extends to eco-friendly materials that are kind to the environment and welcome calming nature indoors. Energy efficient appliances and "green" amenities are becoming an expectation rather than a perk.

We'll keep you posted on how these themes for the year progress is our local market. Keep an eye out!

Are there trends that you're curious about or would like to see us write about? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Up to $500 for Doing Home "Work"

energy home.pngThe energy-efficient home upgrades tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31st this year.  If you need to make improvements to your home, this could be an incentive to do it before the end of the year.  If you have already made qualifying improvements without realizing the tax credit is available, it may seem like a holiday gift you weren't expecting.
The equipment must be installed to qualify for the credit which can put you under a time crunch.  Heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and home weatherization may qualify.
The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been available for purchases since January 1, 2011.  The tax credit is 10% of up to $5,000 of qualifying improvements which would make a maximum of $500 tax credit.
The cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in the different years this law has been in effect is $500.  If it has been claimed in previous years, the taxpayer is not eligible for this credit for additional new purchases.
For more information, see energy.gov or talk to your tax professional.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Happenings: Midland in December


Dow Gardens Poinsettia Tree
December is inevitably a busy month, but why not take an afternoon or evening to break from the craziness and enjoy the holiday season?  Midland, Michigan offers a wide array of events, entertainment, and opportunities during the holidays and we don't want you to miss out on any of them!  Here's our short-list:


The Dow Gardens Christmas Walk
December 12th-14th, 20th & 21st  5pm-7pm  Cost: FREE
  Looking for a winter wonderland to stroll though? Look no further! Paths lined with luminaries, beautiful music throughout the gardens, and picturesque scenery- Dow Gardens has it all!  Santa's Reindeer will even be there the 12th and 13th for your children to meet! Click HERE for a schedule of the musicians and choirs featured this year.

Holly Jolly Days
December 14th & 15th   Noon-4pm  Cost: FREE
Carriage Rides at Holly Jolly Days
  Downtown Midland is a great place to do a little holiday shopping and during Holly Jolly Days you can enjoy special discounts and all sorts of holiday festivities.  Free horse-drawn carriage rides, free hot cocoa in several stores, a special coupon offering $5 off your purchases of $25 at numerous shops, and of course the Santa House! Click HERE for your special Holly Jolly Days Coupon!

Santa House
December 3-27th  Schedule Varies  Cost: FREE
The Midland Santa House
   You may have seen Santa arrive in town during the Santa Parade last month.  Since then, He's been hanging out at his Midland residence on Main Street! The Santa House is about as picturesque and festive as it gets and it is sure to delight any child.  Stop by to take a picture with Santa, chat with an elf or two, and maybe even see the reindeer.  Note that the Santa House is closed on the 24th & 25th and although it reopens for the 26th & 27th Santa will not be there.

Midland Mall Holiday Arts & Crafts Show
December 13th-15th  Mall Hours  Cost: FREE
   A great place to find your holiday, the Midland Mall is open Friday and Saturday from 9am-10pm and Sunday from 11am-8pm.  The craft show is a great place to find unique gifts for those special people on your list.  Vendors and gifts for purchase include artists, antiques, collectibles, sports items, and more!

Midland on Main
December 31st  Main Event: 8pm-12:30am  Cost: $15; $100 VIP Pass
   Michigan's largest new years eve ball drop happens in our very own downtown! There's something for the whole family at this Time-Square style ball drop.  A kid's concert will happen from 5:30-6:30pm, teen activites will follow from 7:00pm till midnight.  This year's entertainers include TV celebrity Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding to those of us that grew up in the 90's), Dani Vitany & Ten Hands Tall, and "Chicagoland's premiere cover band" 28 Days! 4 warming tents, 8 full-service bars, additional entertainment, and a fireworks show ensures that this year's party will be a night to remember!  Get your tickets HERE.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Maintenance

home maintenance 250.jpgWith a 2,000+ mile long winter storm affecting much of the country, there are plenty of home owners who wish they were better prepared.  Even when you live in warm climates, some of these things are important to check periodically.
Preparing for the change of seasons can make your home more comfortable and protect your investment.  Regular maintenance extends the various components of a home and can generate savings in operating costs while avoiding expensive replacements.
  • Weather strips around doors and windows should be checked for possible air leaks.
  • Caulking around windows and doors should seal out moisture and air leaks.
  • HVAC should be inspected and serviced by a professional annually.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested regularly.
  • Ductwork and supply lines from water heaters should be insulated.
  • Fireplace chimneys should be cleaned regularly and fireplaces should be inspected for cracks in mortar and to see if the damper closes properly.
  • Gutters should be free of leaves and debris to prevent rainwater build-up.
  • Tree branches touching or hanging over your roof should be trimmed.
Please contact us if you need a service provider recommendation or visit our website- we have an entire page devoted to our trusted local business partners!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spotlight Listing: Park Place Rentals

In addition to being one of the top Real Estate agencies in town, Park Place Homes is also a full service property management company. Our property manager, Brad Vander Vliet, can help you find a home to rent or find a tenant for your rental home. He is also able write lease agreements and handle all your property management needs throughout the duration of a lease.

As your property manager, you can count on our comprehensive knowledge of the real estate market. This means that your rental will be fairly priced, showings of the home will be coordinated for you, and your rental will be visible to other real estate brokers resulting in increased exposure for your property. Valuable advertising of the property will be done through newspaper, newsletters, numerous internet sites, and our existing client base.

All Park Place rentals undergo required inspections for rental certification and their condition is reviewed prior to occupancy and at lease termination. Periodic property reviews, credit and background checks of prospective clients, and a comprehensive lease agreement protects the property, the owner, and the tenant.

Interested in learning more about Park Place Homes Property Management?  You can email brad, brad@parkplacehomesonline, or call him at our office: 989-698-1100.

If you're in the market for a rental, browse our current listings and click on them for more information!
    

                                 

                                 
You can always check our website for updated information on rental homes and property management.  Click on the "Renters" tab to see available listings at any time!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Motivated Sellers, Better Prices and Less Competition

winter house 250.jpgThe Winter Home Buyer Report conducted in the second week of November by REALTOR.com® revealed the sentiments of current home buyers expecting to buy a house during the winter months.  It appears that there is pent-up demand with buyers who were unable to purchase a home recently.

Most cited as an impediment to purchase was the challenge of low inventory.  Strong demand coupled with short supply explains why home prices have been increasing.

"This summer and spring home buying season was particularly challenging for buyers, especially first-time home buyers trying to compete with all-cash offers and bidding wars because of reduced inventory.  In fact, a quarter of the winter home buyers revealed they are in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last home buying season," said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications at REALTOR.com®.  "While buyers are still experiencing challenges with inventory and approximately one in five buyers plan to put down all cash, there are advantages to looking for a home in the winter. Motivated sellers, better prices and less competition between buyers are some of the top reasons winter home buyers are interested in purchasing a home during the colder months of the year."

Some interesting statistics taken from the report are:

Biggest challenges when searching for a home during winter:

34 percent shared that there is not enough inventory on the market
• 29 percent believe that winter weather makes house hunting unpleasant
 

Traditionally, the industry has found that the fourth quarter of the year has a lower sales volume and is generally attributed to distractions from the holidays and not wanting to make a move during consistently inclement weather.  Even in areas that are not affected by extreme winter weather, there seems to be a mindset about moving in the winter.

Indications are that it may be advantageous for sellers to put their home on the market now rather than wait until after the first of the year.