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November 28, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

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For most homeowners, a drop in outdoor temperatures means an increase in the heating bill. As chilly weather returns to the east, it’s time to start thinking smart about heating costs and winter energy conservation.

Here are five top tips to lower your heating bill this winter season:

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save hundreds of dollars on your annual heating bill, and replacing a manual thermostat with an electronic, programmable unit is simple and inexpensive. Many homeowners can handle the installation without professional help (and home improvement stores will often help you, inexpensively, if you’re not confident in your DIY abilities).
  • Close Curtains or Shutters at Night, and Open Them In Daylight Hours. Window coverings like curtains or shutters provide insulation and help prevent nighttime heat loss through your windows. During daylight hours, open your curtains and shutters so sunlight can enter, warming the interior of the house.
  • Turn the Water Heater Down to 120 Degrees. Reducing the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees can save up to ten percent on your home’s annual water heating costs. Most people can’t even tell the difference between water heated to 120 degrees and 140 (the maximum temperature on most water heaters) – but you can see the difference on your monthly electric bill.
  • Replace Worn Weather Stripping Around Doors and Windows. Warm air leaks out any available opening, including the spaces around the edges of your doors and windows. Replacing old, worn, or damaged weather stripping can have a measureable effect on your heating bill, and reduces drafts through doors and windows too.
  • Clean and Unblock Vents and Ventilation Ducts. Blocked vents and air ducts can reduce air circulation and prevent much-needed heat from reaching your home. Before winter sets in, inspect all visible vents and move furniture and rugs away from openings, ensuring the free flow of air. (Be sure to check floor vents behind the furniture, too.) Arrange for professional cleaning of the air ducts, too. Clean ducts can lower your heating costs and improve air quality in your home.

In addition to these tips, smart homeowners should keep a sharp eye on doors, roofs, and windows, watching for places where heat can escape and blocking or repairing leaks as soon as possible. Consider new insulation in your roof or attic if the existing insulation is old or damaged. By paying a little extra attention to these helpful tips, you may save hundreds of dollars on your winter heating bill.

 

November 22, 2016

Recognizing Warning Signs of Damage to Your Basement

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Many homeowners think about the basement rarely, if at all. Most basements are used for storage, and rarely accessed, but damage to the basement (or foundation) can cause serious damage to your home. Homeowners should inspect basement areas regularly, and be on guard for any of these warning signs of trouble in the underground areas of a home:

  • Cracks in Walls or Basement Foundations. Cracks in basement walls and foundations may appear slowly, over time. Hairline cracks may indicate normal settling or shrinkage. Larger cracks, especially those exceeding a quarter inch in diameter or accompanied by noticeable shifting or displacement of the wall, are signs of potentially serious problems. If you notice significant cracks or settling in your basement, contact a professional for an evaluation right away.
  • Basements flood for many reasons, some more serious than others. However, flooding may lead to additional problems, like mold or bacteria growth, unpleasant smells, and even foundation problems. Flooding may also be a sign of other issues with a home, like faulty pipes, poor grading, or cracked foundations. Serious or regular flooding merits a professional inspection (and repairs).
  • Musty or Unpleasant Odors.Basements often develop a musty smell from lack of ventilation. Many musty odors can be fixed with proper cleaning or the addition of dehumidifiers and other moisture removal aids. However, smells that don’t go away after cleaning, or that carry the scent of sewage, often indicate serious problems like mold or sewer leaks.
  • Mold Growth. Mold thrives in damp, unventilated environments, and basements often offer exactly the conditions mold requires to thrive. Inspect your basement regularly, and arrange for immediate removal of any growth. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air, and spores from the basement can easily infiltrate other parts of the house through your heating and ventilation system. Don’t risk your family’s health – inspect the basement for mold on a regular basis.
  • Sinking Floors.Sinking or settling in the basement floor is a potentially serious sign of problems with the home’s foundation or the earth beneath the house. Settling, either across the entire basement floor or in localized areas, can be a sign of soil erosion beneath the home, a damaged foundation, or issues with the house’s footing pads—all of which, if left untreated, will result in extensive damage and costly repairs.

If you notice any of these signs of trouble in the basement area, contact a professional contractor, mold remediation team, or other experienced home repair specialist for assistance. Solving the problem may cost a little time and money now, but could save thousands of dollars down the line.

If you’re considering selling your home, but don’t want to invest in repairing a problem basement or foundation, consider selling directly to 4 Brothers Buy Houses instead. We never ask the seller to make repairs, and purchase homes in any condition. Click here for a free, fast, no-obligation quote and offer today!

November 13, 2016

September 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

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*Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com

4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.*

September Median Housing Sales Remained Close to September 2015 Figures, With Slight Price Decreases Since Last Month.

In September 2016,median home sale pricesin the Washington D.C. region were$399,000 – slightly below last September’s $400,000 figure, but sales volume increased more than $2 billion dollars, a slight increase over last September’s figures. The median sales price in September was almost $21,000 lower, on average, than August 2016’s median price. The price of single family homes decreased by 2.8% in September, but condominiums showed a 1.5% average price increase.

On average, Falls Church City remainsthe most expensive place to buy, with a September median sales price of $595,000 (though, notably, that price is 26.5% lower than last year’s prices); and Prince George’s County is still the most affordable, with September median sales pricesof $260,000.

New Listings and Inventories in the D.C. Region Increased Slightly in September 2016, but Remain Lower than September 2015’s Numbers.

According to figures published by RBIntel.com:

On-sale housing inventory was up almost 8% in September, compared with August figures, but the total number of properties on the market was more than 14% lower than inventory available for sale in September 2015.

New sales listings increased in September, with 6,779 new properties on the market – more than a 23% increaseover August’s new listing numbers. Single-family houses saw a slight decline in new listings (off 1.3% from August) and new townhouse listings also declined, but almost 3% more condominiums went on the market in September than in August.

Average “Days on Market” Increased Slightly in September 2016.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in September 2016 was 24 days –two dayshigher than August 2016, but three days lower than the average DOM in September of 2015.

Falls Church City was the slowest regional market in September (median days-on-market: 33), and Washington D.C. became the fastest-moving area, with amedian DOM of 16.

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.