3 new trends in A/C technology to cool your home

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In the desert, we’re used to hearing big compressor boxes outside our houses that clunk on-and-off night-and-day to cool us off during the hottest times of the year.

But new developments have been shaking up the world of air conditioners in the past few years. If you’re in the market for a new heating and cooling system, you may already have heard about these three technology trends:

1. MINI-SPLITS: SMALL “BOXES” TO COOL A ROOM OR TWO

A mini-split is a small, ductless, split-system air conditioner that can be a great solution for a garage, a bedroom or any room that’s hotter than the rest of the house.

Just to explain: A split system is one with an air handler in one place and cooling machinery in another place, often outdoors. A mini-split is a very small version of that.

A mini-split is not like a window air conditioner though because it has an outdoor condenser plus a small indoor unit or handler with small-diameter tubes running between inside and outside units. You can’t see the tubes much because they run through walls to the outside of your home.

Mini-splits are quieter and more efficient and can hook up three or four rooms to the same outdoor unit, but one unit can’t cool a whole house. They can also be used for heating.

Because they have no ducts like the ones in your attic, they avoid energy loss associated with leaky ducts. This indoor air handler is about a yard wide by three feet wide by a foot tall and a foot in depth. It can hang from a ceiling or be mounted on a wall.

The downside: They are expensive and can cost $3,500 to $4,500 per system. Although they’re small, you notice them more than you would notice the vent in a wall or ceiling for conventional air conditioner.

2. VARIABLE SPEED: LONGER, QUIETER COOLING AND SMALLER POWER BILLS

“Variable speed” refers to how the fan motor operates for the air handler, the indoor part of an HVAC system that moves cool or warm air through ducts in your house. It’s often in a closet or in the attic. The compressor, of course, is usually in the backyard or on the roof.

Air conditioners that are 10 years old or more have a single-stage compressor outside that comes on and runs full-blast until the house cools off to what the thermostat says. They turn on and off all day in the desert to reach that temp. That means the AC might have a shorter life span and need more repairs.

But with a variable speed furnace or air handler and a two-stage or variable speed compressor, your AC will be more efficient. It will have longer and quieter cooling cycles. That means you can save money on your utility bill. By running more, variable speed systems move air more often through air filters. So, there could be less dust and fewer allergens in your house.

When you replace an old or broken system, a contractor will probably offer you a variable speed AC as an alternative. These models have much better SEERs. SEER, of course, stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The government mandates that new AC equipment be at least a SEER 13. But variable speed ACs can be much higher than that.

The downside: Variable speed air conditioners are more expensive. For a 2,000 square-foot, one-story home the cost of a replacing an air conditioner with one of these models could be from $2,000 to $3,000 more. As time goes on and more companies make them, prices can drop. Your savings on power bills will get better and better, making variable speed more logical. Of course, this is new technology, and you want it installed by someone trained in differences with the new units as well as how to maintain them.

3. ZONED COOLING: CONTROL EACH ROOM INDIVIDUALLY

Homeowners who buy variable speed ACs are often interested in “zoning” so that they can control the temperatures in individual rooms via thermostats.

This can eliminate the friction among family members when one room is too cold and another is too hot. Do you walk into your home and hit one switch to turn on every light in the house? Of course not. You only light rooms that are occupied. Now you can do that with air conditioning and heating, too. This kind of control can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year and make every room in a house comfortable.

This is how it works: A zone control panel “talks” to your air conditioning system, thermostats around the home and special dampers in your duct system. The dampers are metal discs that electronically open and close, sending air into rooms where the thermostat calls for heating or cooling. You can even shut off cooling in an unoccupied room, for example. Some manufacturers have even produced zoned systems that don’t have ducts but have separate “head units” inside vents.

The downside: Obviously, with all the technology and changes required for zoning, retrofitting an existing house can be somewhat costly. But when building a new house, putting in this system would be easier and less expensive.

For more information on the home buying or selling process, contact The Net More Home Store today.

Source: Rosie Romero

5 essential money moves for first-time home buyers

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You've decided to go for it.

Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for a first-time home buyer -- it's difficult to know exactly what to expect. The learning curve can be steep, but most of the issues can be resolved by doing a little financial homework.

Take these five steps to help make the process go more smoothly.

Check your credit

The homebuyer's credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a loan these days.

"In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan," says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner with McKinley Carter Wealth Services in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Scour credit reports reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.

Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn't mean your credit is stellar, however. The amount of credit you're using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time -- and money, if you owe more than lenders would prefer to see relative to your income. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate assets and liabilities

So you don't owe too much money and your payments are up to date. But how do you spend your money? Do you have piles of money left over every month, or are you on a shoestring budget?

A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of what is owed and what is coming in.

"You should understand a little bit about monthly cash flow," says Winesburg.

"If I were a first-time home buyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going," he says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

According to Winesburg, the self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years' earnings history to show.

Organize documents

When applying for mortgages, home buyers must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years' W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements -- every page, even the blank ones.

"Why it has to be every single last page, I don't know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out," says Floyd Walters, owner of BWA Mortgage in La Canada Flintridge, California.

Buying a home can take a long time, but knowing what you need and where to find it can save time when you're ready.

Qualify yourself

Ideally, as a first-time home buyer, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there's not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the old standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

"Find out what you can afford and then you can back into everything else. We know the money you have available to put down, we know the monthly payment and we can solve (the equation) for the third variable -- and that is the home price," Winesburg says.

Figure out your down payment

It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

"I've helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they're more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free," says Winesburg.

"Each state is different, but most of this money comes from the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which is a federal block grant to create affordable housing," he says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you're starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time home buyers should take.

For more information on the home buying or selling process, contact The Net More Home Store today.

Source: Bankrate

5 Mistakes buyers and sellers make with home inspections.

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A home inspection isn’t just about identifying problems with the house. A thorough inspector considers the appointment a master class in your new home.

“We want to teach them how to maintain the property, because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, ACI and RHI, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and president of Inspections by Gibson.

Getting a home inspection? Here are the 5 mistakes to avoid.

1) Not researching the inspector.

Too many buyers and sellers take whatever name is recommended without doing research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, says Troy Bloxom, president of the National Association of Home Inspectors and owner of Home Inspections Plus, near Anchorage, Alaska.

A few questions to ask:

  • How long have you been inspecting homes?
  • How many inspections have you done?
  • What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
  • What was your job before you were a home inspector? (Ideally, your pro was in contracting or building.)

You want a certified professional who stays current. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to know, and you want someone who’s keeping up with ongoing education,” says Kurt Mitenbuler, owner of Kurt Mitenbuler & Associates.

You’re looking for an inspector who can analyze the home’s strengths and weaknesses — then explain them.

2) Not attending the inspection.

Attendance may not be mandatory, but it’s a good idea.

Just reading that inspection report isn’t enough for most homeowners to get the full picture, Gibson says. “If they don’t see it, they don’t understand it.”

Gibson adds that he turns down 50 inspections a year “because people can’t be there or don’t want to be there.”

Mitenbuler says, “Any home inspector who doesn’t let you follow him around? That’s weird. Ask me any question you want.”

Set aside enough time for the whole thing, Gibson says. The inspection will take an entire morning or an afternoon. Some inspectors will sit with you after the inspection to explain things and answer questions, he says.

Many localities don’t allow inspectors to offer advice on whether to buy the home, Mitenbuler says. But a good inspector can give you an estimate of how much money you’ll need to put into repairs and upgrades and talk about how well that fits your budget.

3) Not reading the inspection report.

Too many buyers and sellers just glance at the inspection report, Gibson says.

You need someone who uses “clear, concise” language in person and in written reports, says Mitenbuler.

One clue: Scan a few inspection reports, he says. Either check the website or ask for a sample.

A knowledgeable pro will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix, Mitenbuler says.

Reports are often in digital format, with photos to illustrate the home’s strengths and weaknesses, Gibson says.

4) Not getting a pre-sale inspection.

Many sellers elect to leave the pre-sale inspection to the buyers, says Bloxom.

But that’s a mistake.

When the buyers get an inspection (and if they’re smart, they will), the sellers will have little time to complete repairs and keep the sale on track, says Bloxom.

But if sellers have the home inspected before putting it on the market, they have more time to get repairs done, he says. With the extra time, they can shop around and control costs.

Both buyers and sellers often wait too long to engage an inspector, Gibson says. You should find an inspector long before you have (or make) an offer, he says. Some buyers and sellers will wait for the second-to-last day before they even call, Gibson says: “Any good inspector will be booked out.”

5) Not prepping the home.

Inspectors are peeved when homeowners don’t prepare the house.

“Don’t force the home inspector to empty the closet to get into the attic,” Mitenbuler says. If you have a crawl-space hatch, move anything sitting on top of it.

Got a lock on a utility closet, basement or shed? The inspector needs access. So open it or provide keys.

For homeowners, inspections “are invasive,” he says. “I get it.”

For a seller, the best tack is to be at home to meet the inspector, introduce yourself, provide your cell number — and then you can take off, Mitenbuler says.

To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs, Bloxom says.

Too many times, when faced with a list of needed repairs, a seller will DIY or try to get them done on the cheap, he says. But that shows up during the re-inspection and could mean another round of repairs — and a 3rd or 4th inspection, Bloxom says.

For more information on the home buying or selling process, contact The Net More Home Store today.

Source:

bankrate.com

 

 

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New Listing!!

2042 E. Saltsage Dr. Phoenix, 85048

3 bed 2.5 baths, 1755 sqft $319,000

 Wonderfully upgraded 3 bed 2.5 bath home in the highly sought after Ahwatukee Foothills community. Interior features include an upgraded kitchen with granite countertops and a stainless refrigerator next to the large pantry. There is also beautiful 18-inch tile downstairs, new carpet upstairs and new interior paint throughout. The master bedroom features vaulted ceilings and a deck with amazing golf course and mountain views and the master bath has dual sinks and a separate tub and shower. Exterior features on this north south facing, hillside corner lot include a refreshing pebble tech pool and covered patio for outdoor fun. This beautiful home is turn key and a must see.