5 Ways to Slash Heating Costs

Heating CostsNow that temperatures are dropping across the country, its time to think about how you can slash your heating bills for the season. Here are five low-cost and/or no-cost moves to help you save money while staying comfortable at the same time.

1. Add insulation. Adding insulation and weather stripping can slash your annual energy costs up to 30% by keeping out the cold or heat and minimizing the stack effect. Start by sealing large gaps around the chimney, furnace flue, plumbing pipes, ductwork, light fixtures, and soffits in your attic. Then lay insulation between attic-floor joists and on the hatch or door, or add more if it’s already there. Look for insulation that’s become dirty, a sign of air movement that reveals other gaps you must fill. Also, insulate ducts running through the attic.

2. Seal up the leaks. Caulking and weather-stripping cracks and gaps around your home are some of the most cost-effective steps you can take to conserve heat. Focus on the attic, basement, windows, and doorways. Also. check near pipes, vents, or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling, or floor. When sealing leaks, use “no-VOC” or “low-VOC” caulking to minimize potentially harmful indoor gases. Look for these products at your hardware store or online.

3. Program thermostats for savings. Shave up to 20% off your heating costs by lowering the thermostat 5 degrees F at night and 10 degrees F during the day if no one is home. Most electronic setback thermostats let you set different schedules for weekdays and weekends. Some automatically switch from heating to cooling, and many tell you when it’s time to change your furnace or air-conditioner filter.

4. Save money on hot water. Insulating hot-water pipes and lowering the temperature on your water heater from 130 degrees to 120 degrees can help you save up to 5% on your energy bills.

5. Shorten showers. Showers account for two-thirds of your water-heating costs, so even shaving off a few minutes can help. Replacing a showerhead that’s more than 12 years old with a low-flow model can save up to half the hot water used for showering.


Source:  The Real Estate Book

Pricing Property To Sell

How MuchHow you price your properties is an important part of your marketing plan and can have a large impact on the success of your business. Here are a number of strategies to help motivate buyers and move your property.

Under Market Value.  Underpricing can be a good way to generate multiple offers on a property and may help you make a quick sale. Pricing a home under market value of similar properties may also cause a bidding war among potential buyers and drive the price to market value or higher.  Most sellers are not willing to adopt this strategy, but it can be quite effective.

 Over Market Value.  Some realtors believe that overpricing will lead to higher initial bids on a property. Unfortunately, it may also make the property sit on the market longer. Overpricing is best used when the inventory of similar properties is low in the area. If you have the only three-bedroom, two-bath condo available in a luxury building, you may be able to command a higher price than similar units have sold for in the recent past.

Fair Market Price. The most straightforward strategy is to price the home in the same range as other properties that are of similar style, size and condition in the area. By doing so, potential buyers who know the value of the homes in the neighborhood will consider making an offer on the property if it suits them.

Pricing per square foot.  If you have a property and can’t find any homes in your area that are similar in style, you could base the price on the square footage. Look at recent sales of properties that are as close in size and condition as possible and determine the average price per square foot. You can use that as a guideline to determine the listing price.

Remember, the type of property, along with the current market conditions in the area, should always be considered when deciding on a pricing strategy. The most important thing is to choose the strategy that you are comfortable with and make adjustments if needed.  A qualified real estate professional can help you with your pricing strategy.

Source:  American Home Shield

Mammoth Lakes Real Estate Market Update

housing marketThere are several different data points to review when answering this question including median price, days on market and total inventory sold.   Below is a snapshot of the last two years closed transaction in Mammoth Lakes and 2013 so far.


2013 (as of Nov 30)



Median   Price




Median   Days on Market




Total Condos SOLD




Single   Family Homes

2013 (as of Nov 30)



Median   Price




Median   Days on Market




Total SF Homes SOLD




While this information is useful in observing trends, the current inventory must also be considered.  Below is a snapshot of the available properties available today:



Single Family Homes

Median   Price



Median   Days on Market



Total   Available as of 11/30


Relatively flat all of 2013


Relatively flat all of 2013

In summary, both condos and single family homes are selling more quickly than 2012 and at a higher price.  Although inventory  levels  have been low throughout 2013, total sales of both condos and single family homes will surpass totals for the previous two years.

What does this mean to you?  Prices are trending slightly up.  People interested in buying should increase their search and also need to be ready to move quickly when the right property is identified.   Sellers can expect to get more than they would have last year at this time.    Of course, there is no crystal ball.  Will the upward trend continue?  Time will tell.

Realty Trivia Challenge

TriviaWhat is considered the most expensive house ever built?

A. Bill Gates’ House in Medina, Washington

B. Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida

C. William Randolph Hearst’s Ranch in San Simeon, California

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Answer: C. William Randolph Hearst’s Ranch in San Simeon, California Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst certainly knew how to live the high life. The Hearst Castle aka “The Enchanted Hill” is a 90,000 square foot compound with 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walking paths. This magnificent property features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 entertaining rooms, a private cinema, zoo and airfield. It was built between 1919 and 1947 by architect Julia Morgan and cost more than 500 million in today’s dollars to construct. Overnight guests have included Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and President Calvin Coolidge.

Have you ever been to Hearst Castle?  If not, put it on your list of things to do when on the Central Coast.  My friend Brian proposed to his wife Michelle there…..romantic!


Source:  American Home Shield