Boost the Value of Your Home

Thinking of selling soon? Right now is the perfect time to start looking for ways to increase your home value. We are not talking about major renovations, those are expensive! Did you know that small tweaks here and there can help boost the value of your home? Choosing which improvements to make is not always an easy task and a lot of times homeowners believe that a huge remodeling project is the way to go. The truth is small and inexpensive fixes throughout your home can go a long way.

Buyers always picture themselves living in the home they are looking at, so make the first impression count. Buyers start making up their minds even before they go through the front door so make sure your front door is clean. Sometimes a simple wipe can dramatically change the look of the door. If the door knob looks worn out, replace it with a new one.

Dirty carpets will give the impression that the home is not well maintained. Consider investing in a professional carpet cleaner to instantly revive your home overall look. Look around your home for clutter! Cluttered areas can make a room look small and uninviting.  Get rid of the clutter and open up some space in your home.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and buyers usually spend more time there. It is still considered the most important room in the house so make sure it looks clean. Remove clutter on the counters for extra space. Also, easy fixes like replacing the sink faucet or replacing the cabinet and drawer handles can give your kitchen and instant updated look.

Bathrooms are the second most important rooms in a home. If your toilet is looking old, replacing the seat can make your toilet look brand new. Also, consider applying fresh caulk around the tub, it will instantly make it look spotless.

Although it may sound obvious, many homeowners forget about curb appeal. A nicely mowed lawn will quickly make your home more noticeable. Remove unwanted weeds and trim trees and shrubs to open the views and make the home brighter.

Finally do an overall home walk through. Any leaks? Any light bulbs that need to be replaced? Are the walls clean? Gutters in good condition? Furnace working properly? Buyers want ready to move-in homes that are in good condition. Investing in small repairs and maintenance now will not only add value to your home but it can also help to sell your home faster when the time comes.

The real estate market has improved and home buyers are back! Are you are wondering what your home is worth? If you are thinking of selling, please contact us for a complimentary market analysis in our service areas.

Brightening Up Your Anacortes Home

How to Brighten up Your Home!

Living in a Pacific Northwest city like Anacortes is truly amazing!  We have some of the most breathing taking scenery with the ocean and the mountains.  But on days like today, it has its downsides. March overcast skies can cause midday to feel dark and drab!  Here are a  few tips to help homeowners brighten up their living spaces:

One thing that Anacortes homeowners can easily do is switch to clear light bulbs; they provide a sharper light then that of an opaque bulb. If you are going to make the switch from opaque to clear, make sure you replace all your bulbs. If you leave a myriad of bulbs all over your house, you run the risk of your room looking hectic! Of course if you opt to use energy efficient bulbs, go with soft white, it is much more natural and calming then the plain old white.

The next item on your list to a brighter home is simply cleaning up a bit! After a good dusting and scrubbing, everything looks better.  Do not forget your exterior windows!  Also since it is still only March in Anacortes, you could also leave off the window screens and draperies when you are washing them.  It really helps let sunlight that filters through the clouds into your house, just don’t forget to put them back up come summertime!

Finally, a bit of redecorating along with their brightening up can always help! Try replacing old and out-dated light fixtures for some sparkling new ones.  While you are shopping for new fixtures you could always pick up a table lamp to match. A cute new lamp looks good in any room! Also, a new brilliant mirror is a great option too.  If you place a mirror near a light source, it will reflect back and instantly brighten your room.

These few suggestions are easy and inexpensive, and the best part is you do not have to do all of them and your home will look incredible!

If you are thinking of selling your Anacortes home, contact Jean Groesbeck at Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com or (360) 941-3734.

August Home Maintenance Tips!

Guest Blogger, Tim Hance from All Island Home Inspections, gives Anacortes homeowners some great home maintenance tips for the month of August!

Kitchen & Bathroom: Check under your sinks for signs of leaks from supply pipes and waste pipes. Also check for rust on the bottom of enameled steel sinks and water damage to the countertop.

Structure & Exterior: Check your home’s exterior wood for paint or wood stain needs.

Vinyl siding: Assess vinyl siding for cleaning needs. It requires less maintenance than most other sidings, but it still needs occasional cleaning.

Plumbing: Getting cold showers? The sediment in your water heater might be lowering your water temperature and the amount of available water. Flush sediment from your water heater.

Electrical: Inspect your outdoor electric wiring. While you’re outdoors during warm weather, take a few moments to inspect your outdoor electric outlets, lighting and wiring.

For more complete details and step-by-step guides see the article.

Tim Hance – All Island Home Inspections
Local, Certified & Licensed Professional Home Inspector
NACHI, NEFSI, AHIT, WSDA SPI, MS

If you would like to read more about how to keep your Anacortes home looking great, please see our blog!

New Residential Efficiency Program

On February 22, from 2:30 to 5:00 pm, Skagit County’s Sustainability Office will host an open house to kickoff the Skagit County Community Energy Challenge (“SCEC”). ¬†This ¬†program was designed to encourage and facilitate residential energy efficiency.

This program will help homeowners achieve energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction,  and creation of wildlife habitat.

The program will provide a home energy assessment and report which will show homeowners opportunities on how to lower their home bills through insulation, air sealing, and other measures.  The assessment, normally valued at $500-$600, will only cost the homeowner $95, and is the only cost for this program.   The remainder of the cost is being funded by a grant to Skagit County from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The SCEC provides valuable information to homeowners on how to make their home more sustainable (including rebate and incentive programs), and the necessary steps to make these recommended improvements.

The open house will be held in the lobby of the Skagit County Commissioners Administrative Building located at 1800 Continental Place in Mount Vernon.  Those interested in attending the program can email SkagitCEC@co.skagit.wa.us or call (360) 419-7607.

For more information on Skagit County, or homes for sale throughout Skagit County, please contact Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com or call (360) 941-3734.

2009 Energy Rebate Stimulus

2009 Energy Rebate Stimulus

For improvements made in 2009 and 2010, you can get an income tax credit of up to $1,500 for installing efficient new windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in your home. However, efficiency criteria will vary dependant on when these items are “placed in service” (installed). The home improvements tax credit applies for improvements “placed in service” from January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2010.¬†¬†

Tax Credits for Consumers:

Home Improvements

Tax credits are now available for home improvements:

  • must be “placed in service” from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010
  • must be for taxpayer’s principal residence, EXCEPT for geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, and small wind energy systems (where second homes qualify)
  • $1,500 is the maximum total amount that can be claimed for all products placed in service in 2009 & 2010 for most home improvements, EXCEPT for geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and small wind energy systems which are not subject to this cap, and are in effect through 2016
  • must have a Manufacturer Certification Statement to qualify
  • for record keeping, save your receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement
  • improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes (filed by April 15, 2010) ‚ÄĒ use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version) ‚ÄĒ it will be available late 2009 or early 2010
  • If you are building a new home, you can qualify for the tax credit for geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaics, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells, but not the tax credits for windows, doors, insulation, roofs, HVAC, or non-solar water heaters. More.
SUMMARY OF TAX CREDITS FOR HOMEOWNERS
Product Category Product Type Tax Credit Specification Tax Credit Notes
Insulation Insulation Meets 2009 IECC & Amendments 30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Insulation.

Check to see if you have Home Performance with ENERGY STAR in your areas. Adding insulation to your home is covered.

Windows & Doors Windows, Doors, and Skylights Before June 1, 2009:
Must meet ENERGY STAR criteria

After June 1, 2009:
U factor <= 0.30

SHGC <= 0.30

30% of cost, up to $1,5001 Not all ENERGY STAR labeled windows, doors, and skylights qualify for tax credit.

More information

Storm Windows & Storm Doors In combination with the exterior window over which it is installed:

  1. has a U-factor and SHGC of 0.30 or below
  2. Meets the IECC
30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Storm Doors and Storm Windows.
Roofing Metal Roofs,
Asphalt Roofs
All ENERGY STAR qualified metal and reflective asphalt shingles 30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Roofs.
HVAC Central A/C Split Systems:
SEER >= 16, EER >=13

Package systems:
SEER >= 14, EER >= 12

30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Central ACs.

FAQ on Air Source Heat Pumps.

Note ‚ÄĒ not all ENERGY STAR products will qualify for the tax credit.

Air Source Heat Pumps Split Systems:
HSPF >= 8.5, EER >= 12.5, SEER >= 15

Package systems:
HSPF >= 8, EER >= 12, SEER >= 14

30% of cost, up to $1,5001
Natural Gas or Propane Furnace AFUE >= 95 30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Furnaces and Boilers.

Note ‚ÄĒ not all ENERGY STAR products will qualify for the tax credit.

Oil Furnace AFUE >= 90 30% of cost, up to $1,5001
Gas, Propane, or Oil Hot Water Boiler AFUE >= 90 30% of cost, up to $1,5001
Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan No more than 2% of furnace total energy use. 30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ: What if the fan qualifies, but the furnace does not?
Water Heaters Gas, Oil, Propane Water Heater Energy Factor >= 0.82
or a thermal efficiency of at least 90%.
30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Water Heaters.
Electric Heat Pump Water Heater Same criteria as ENERGY STAR: Energy Factor >= 2.0 30% of cost, up to $1,5001
Biomass Stove Biomass Stove Stove which burns biomass fuel to heat a home or heat water.

Thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% as measured using a lower heating value.

30% of cost, up to $1,5001 FAQ on Biomass Stoves.
Geo-Thermal Heat Pump Geo-Thermal Heat Pump Same criteria as ENERGY STAR:

Closed Loop:
EER >= 14.1, COP >= 3.3

Open Loop:
EER >= 16.2, COP >= 3.6

Direct Expansion:
EER >= 15, COP >= 3.5

30% of the cost All ENERGY STAR geo-thermal heat pumps qualify for the tax credit.

What about water-to-water geothermal heat pumps?

Must be ‚Äúplaced into service‚ÄĚ before December 31, 2016.

Solar Energy Systems Solar Water Heating At least half of the energy generated by the ‚Äúqualifying property‚ÄĚ must come from the sun. Homeowners may only claim spending on the solar water heating system property, not the entire water heating system of the household.

The credit is not available for expenses for swimming pools or hot tubs.

The water must be used in the dwelling.

The system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC).

30% of cost All ENERGY STAR solar water heaters qualify for the tax credit.

Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.

Photovoltaic Systems Photovoltaic systems must provide electricity for the residence, and must meet applicable fire and electrical code requirement. 30% of cost Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.
Small Wind Energy Systems Residential Small Wind Turbines Has nameplate capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts. 30% of cost Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.
Fuel Cells Residential Fuel Cell and microturbine system Efficiency of at least 30% and must have a capacity of at least 0.5 kW. 30% of the cost, up to $500 per .5 kW of power capacity Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.
Cars Hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel, and fuel cell vehicles   Based on a formula determined by vehicle weight, technology, and fuel economy compared to base year models There is a 60,000 vehicle limit per manufacturer before a phase-out period begins. Toyota and Honda have already been phased out. Credit is still available for Ford, GM and Nissan.

For more information visit: Fueleconomy.gov Exit ENERGY STAR

Use IRS Form 8910 PDF Exit ENERGY STAR for hybrid vehicles purchased for personal use.

Use IRS Form 3800 PDF Exit ENERGY STAR for hybrid vehicles purchased for business purposes.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles ¬† $2,500‚Äď$7,500 The first 250,000 vehicles sold get the full tax credit (then it phases out like the hybrid vehicle tax credits).

Effective January 1, 2009.

1Subject to a $1,500 maximum per homeowner for all improvements combined.

Efficient Cars

Starting January 1, 2009, there is a new tax credit for Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, starting at $2,500 and capped at $7,500 for cars and trucks (the credit is based on the capacity of the battery system). The first 250,000 vehicles sold get the full tax credit (then it phases out like the hybrid vehicle tax credits).

Tax credits are available to buyers of hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel, and fuel cell vehicles. The tax credit amount is based on a formula determined by vehicle weight, technology, and fuel economy compared to base year models. These credits are available for vehicles placed in service starting January 1, 2006. For hybrid and diesel vehicles made by each manufacturer, the credit will be phased out over 15 months starting after that manufacturer has sold 60,000 eligible vehicles. For vehicles made by manufacturers that have not reached the end of the phase-out, the credits will end for vehicles placed in service after December 31, 2010. See the IRS Website for updated information Exit ENERGY STAR.

IRS Guidance:

How do I apply for the rebate?