The Best Way to Save Tons of Money on Your Home in 2016

The Best Way to Save Tons of Money on Your Home in 2016

by Realtor.com2016 money.jpg

It’s New Year’s resolution time—when we vow to drop 18.5 pounds, start training for a triathlon, cut back on sodium, and maybe even give up our crippling HGTV addiction. What’s that you say? You want to make a resolution you might actually keep?  OK, try this on for size: Resolve to save buckets of cash by making simple changes around home, sweet home.

Whether you live in a mansion or a condo, homes consume a ton of expensive energy—whether in the form of electricity, water, or gas. The good news? You can lower these bills—freeing up cash for all kinds of other pursuits such as that new kitchen reno you’ve been dreaming of or even a vacation far from home. What’s more, these changes are far from painstaking; some are as simple as switching your lightbulbs or tweaking the settings on appliances.

Collectively these tiny changes can add up to huge savings. Try a few or all to reap the benefits of a fatter bank account in 2016—and beyond.

Get an energy audit

Consider this a checkup for your home: Many local utility companies offer energy audits (often for free), where experts assess your home’s energy consumption patterns looking for improvement areas where you could cut back on guzzling electricity, gas, or water (and also lower your utility bills). Auditors may do this remotely by poring through your records, or they visit your home to examine everything from its windows to duct work to shower heads—saving you as much as 30% of your monthly bills.

For more information go to energy.gov, or head to the Residential Energy Services Network, where you can enter your ZIP code to find an auditor near you.

Adjust your water heater

Most people set their water heaters on high. The amount of energy needed to keep gallons of water at scalding for no reason? A lot. Lowering it by just 10 degrees Fahrenheit will save you from 3% to 5% on your heating costs. Also, buy your heater a nice blanket to keep heat in and tack on an additional 4% to 9% in savings.

Swap your lightbulbs

Switching to low-energy lightbulbs is a quick and easy way to reduce lighting costs. A 60-watt bulb retailing for $6 will save between $30 and $80 over its lifetime. The average household has 50 bulbs—so that’s a minimum $1,500 in savings! But there’s no need to go out and buy $300 worth of lightbulbs all at once. Swap out the bulbs you use every day—kitchen and bedroom—and leave the barely used ones in basements or attics until they burn out.

Kill your home’s energy vampires

Those little lights all over your house that indicate printers and chargers are on but not in use? They’re “energy vampires” sucking dollars out of your wallet, an average of $165 a year for a typical U.S. household. The low-tech solution? Unplug these items before bed, which will save you as much as 10% on your energy bill. The high-tech solution? Power cords such as the Embertec Emberstrip AV+ ($79.95) that will turn off equipment when it senses they’re not in use.

Wash your clothes this way

Switch to cold water washes. Yes, your clothes will still get clean—some stains come out more readily in cold water—and you’ll save about $60 a year. As dryers account for 12% of energy in an average household, consider line-drying clothes in nice weather to save you almost $200 per year. Or, if you do use a dryer, clean your vent, which will reduce energy costs by $9 to $12 per month, says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance.

Strip your windows in the winter

In the winter “even the smallest gaps around a window or door frame allow air to leak inside,” says Mark Liston, president of Glass Doctor. “An eighth of an inch gap under a 36-inch wide door will let in as much cold air as a 2.4-inch diameter hole punched in a wall!” That means in the winter, sealing cracks around windows and frames is a no-brainer that can bring down the heating bill between 10% and 15%.

Film your windows in the summer

And as for the summer, when the sun beats through your windows and bakes your home? For that, you can add window films—an imperceptible layer that acts like sunglasses, filtering out infrared and UV rays. A whole roll of it will run you around$25 but can translate to an average of 20% to 25% reduction in energy costs via the AC. Added benefit: It keeps colors in paintings and carpets from fading, says Mike Byrd, program manager for Madico, which provides window films for the Smithsonian, the Louvre, and many other architectural landmarks.

Cut the cord

Getting rid of cable and your landline will save you about $100 a month. Keep your fast Internet and consider buying a $35 Chromecast—a device that slings streaming shows from your cellphone to your TV.

Margaret Heidenry, “The Best Way to Save Tons of Money on Your Home in 2016,” Realtor.com, n.p., 6:00 am ET December 30, 2015 

Marina del Rey New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show!

Don’t miss the amazing fireworks display that is set to take place over the harbor in Marina del Rey on December 31st at 7 pm PST. Burton Chace Park will be hosting the free event, and it will be starting at 8:59 pm with the 60-second countdown live from Times Square in New York City being shown on the Jumbo screen. At 9:00 pm the fireworks will be set off from the Marina’s south Jetty!

Save the date: Thursday December 31st at 7 pm

“For more information, please call the Marina del Rey Visitors Center at (310) 305–9545 or visit marinadelrey.lacounty.gov.”9212024599_5f64fac384_o

Top Home Design Trends for 2016

2016’s top home design trends 

By Zillow.com

1. Art deco-inspired patterns and shapes

art deco

Art deco will make a bold new comeback in 2016. Look for the style’s trademark geometric patterns and honeycomb shapes to weave their way into everything from wallpaper to artwork, adding elegance and dimension to any space. Experts also predict gold statement lighting fixtures will become more popular.

2. Nubby wool rugs

wool rug

Nubby wool or other natural fibers will be the go-to texture for 2016, especially for area rugs. Their neutral hues create the perfect indoor/outdoor vibe, while softening bolder colors and dramatic statement pieces.

3. Encaustic tiles

encaustic

These intricate patterned tiles get their coloring from different types of clay rather than glaze, and can be used to create a beautiful, natural-looking focal point. Expect to see encaustic tiles pop up in a variety of rooms throughout the house in 2016, including kitchen backsplashes, bathroom shower tiles, accent walls and even fireplace mantles.

4. Artisan accent pieces

artisan pieces

Travel souvenirs, unique artisan pieces and flea market finds will take center stage in home design as more homeowners gravitate toward decorating with unique art pieces that tell a story. Look for a rise in partnerships between big box stores and global artisans to accommodate the increased demand for one-of-a-kind or handmade items.

3 fads to ditch from 2015

1. Mason jars

Mason Jar

The mason jar trend is exhausted, and will finally make its exit in 2016. After using them to invoke a rustic chic feeling everywhere from wedding decor to restaurants, experts and homeowners alike are finally ready to move on.

2. Chalkboard paint

Chalkboard

Chalkboards smudge easily, and unless decorated with perfect handwriting, are usually not the best way to label household items. This trend is not built to last in 2016.

3. Burlap details

burlap

Burlap is too harsh for indoor use, and is far overplayed for another year in the spotlight. Instead, homeowners will gravitate toward softer natural fibers that are more suitable for throw blankets, pillows and rugs.

The 5 Real Estate Trends That Will Shape 2016

It’s almost the new year. Get ready to break out the Cristal: We had a great 2015—the best year for housing since 2007. And our forecast here at realtor.com® projects an even better year in 2016.

How so? Well, with economic growth chugging along, employment will continue to increase, meaning that people will have more money coming in and they’ll be able to buy their first home or upgrade to a new one.

Here’s a closer look at the trends that will have the greatest impact on the housing market in 2016.

1. We’ll return to normal (Anyone remember normal?)

The year ahead will see healthy growth in home sales and prices, but at a slower pace than in 2015. This slowdown is not an indication of a problem—it’s just a return to normalcy. We’ve lived through 15 years of truly abnormal trends, and after working off the devastating effects of the housing bust, we’re finally seeing signs of more normal conditions. Distress sales will no longer be playing an outsized role, new construction is returning to more traditional levels, and prices rise at more normal rates consistent with a more balanced market.

2. Generational shuffle will make 2016 the best year to sell in the near future

Millennials emerged as a dominant force in 2015, representing almost 2 million sales, which is more than one-third of the total. This pattern will continue in 2016 as their large numbers combined with improving personal financial conditions will enable enough buyers between ages 25 and 34 to move the market—again. The majority of those buyers will be first-timers, but that will require other generations to also play larger roles.

Please,

Mr. Postman

Two other generations will also affect the market in 2016: financially recovering Gen Xers and older boomers thinking about or entering retirement. Since most of these people are already homeowners, they’ll play a double role, boosting the market as both sellers and buyers. Gen Xers are in their prime earning years and thus able to relocate to better neighborhoods for their families. Older boomers are approaching (or already in) retirement and seeking to downsize and lock in a lower cost of living. Together, these two generations will provide much of the suburban inventory that millennials desire to start their own families.

 

Assuming that most of these households will both sell and buy, it is important to recognize that 2016 is shaping up to be the best year in recent memory to sell. Supply remains very tight, so inventory is moving faster. Given the forecast that price appreciation will slow in 2016 to a more normal rate of growth, delaying will not produce substantially higher values, and will also see higher mortgage rates on any new purchase.

3. Builders will focus on more affordable price points

One aspect of housing that has not recovered yet has been single-family construction. Facing higher land costs, limited labor, and worries about depth of demand in the entry-level market, builders have shifted to producing more higher-priced housing units for a reliable pool of customers. That focus caused new-home prices to rise much faster than existing-home prices. Builders were able to be profitable and grow by following this move-up and luxury strategy, but their growth potential was limited by avoiding the entry level. That should begin to change in 2016.

We are already seeing a decline in new-home prices for new contracts signed this fall. In addition, credit access is improving enough to make the first-time buyer segment more attractive to builders. We’re looking for the strong growth in new-home sales and single-family construction as builders offer more affordable product in the year ahead. Consumers of all types should consider new homes, but availability will be highly dependent on location.

4. Higher mortgage rates will affect high-cost markets the most

We told you mortgage rates would go up in 2015, and they did—but they also went back down. We expect similar volatility in 2016, but the move by the Federal Reserve to guide interest rates higher should result in a more reliable upward trend in mortgage rates.

Thirty-year fixed rates will likely end 2016 about 60 basis points higher than they are today. That level of increase is manageable, as consumers will have multiple tactics to mitigate some of that increase. However, higher rates will drive monthly payments higher, and, along with that, debt-to-income ratios will also go higher. Markets with the highest prices will see that higher rates will result in fewer sales; however, across the U.S., the effect will be minimal as the move to higher rates will spur more existing homeowners to sell and buy before rates go even higher.

5. Already unaffordable rents will go up more than home prices

The housing crisis that politicians are ignoring is that the cost of rental housing has become crushing in most of the country. More than 85% of U.S. markets have rents that exceed 30% of the income of renting households. Furthermore, rents are accelerating at a more rapid pace than home prices, which are moderating. We’ve been seeing asking rents on vacant units increase at a double-digit pace in the second half of this year.

Because of this, it is more affordable to buy in more than three-quarters of the U.S. However, for the majority of renting households, buying is not a near-term option due to poor household credit scores, limited savings, and lack of documentable stable income of the kind necessary to qualify for a mortgage today.

This trend does not bode well for the health of the housing market in the future. It will only improve if we see more construction of affordable rental housing as well as more of a pathway for renters to become homeowners.

Westchester On The Rise

Silicon Beach is having a very big effect on Real Estate in Southern California

Areas like Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, and Playa Vista are at the forefront of the “tech movement” and experiencing all the benefits that are associated with the large amounts of highly paid employees flooding the market. However, the often-overlooked neighborhood of Westchester, is having something of a moment and it has the potential to be the next big thing.

Westchester’s 90045 ZIP Code is one of just a handful of places in the region where house prices have returned to pre-crash levels, with the median price for a single-family home hitting $795,000 in the third quarter, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. That’s a 25% increase in the last two years. And it’s all attributed to the recent phenomenon that has brought the tech to Silicon Beach.

Media, entertainment, and tech companies have been picking up office space as fast as possible in Playa Vista. Last month, Google spent $120 million dollars on 12 vacant acres zoned for a massive office complex. That amount of space equates to roughly 6,000 new workers in the area. (Google provides about 200 sq for each employee.)

If you drive through the area you will see a wide array of traditional postwar ranch homes that were built in the ’40s and ’50s for returning GIs and aerospace workers. Another thing you will see is a good amount of space. The lots are bigger and the houses aren’t maxed out like many other areas on the Westside. With that space being a desirable “commodity” in our market we are seeing more and more people becoming interested in this previously unknown neighborhood.

Lately, a wave of rehabs and additions has also driven prices higher. Work trucks are a common sight in Westchester these days with developers and new homeowners updating these old ranches into more modern homes. It’s quite hard to believe but in the last six months three houses have sold for around $2 million and several more are on the market around the $1.5 million mark.

A growing number of the neighborhood’s postwar ranch houses are being torn down and rebuilt, often at twice the size. Some of them look more like houses you’d find closer to the beach and they’re often aimed at buyers who’ve been priced out of those neighborhoods. Many of those buyers are looking for more contemporary and modern homes. Westchester didn’t really have those until now…

According to Cyndi Hench, president of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa, the neighborhood is definitely evolving. Although it remains home to some of the children of the old Hughes engineers who moved there in the ’50s, it’s drawing more newcomers.

And when some apartment buildings going up on the edges of the neighborhood are done, and when Google opens its Playa Vista development, Hench expects her quiet pocket of town will be right in the middle of the action.

“This is going to be a different place in five years,” she said. “Westchester will definitely be on the map then.”

NOW OPEN: Marina del Rey Hotel & Salt

Marina del Rey Hotel

Image Source: Pacifica Hotels

The Marina del Rey Hotel has just reopened after recently completing their $25 million renovation to modernize the historic waterfront hotel.

The revived 164-room hotel now boasts the following upgraded 4-star amenities, among many others:

  • Full-service restaurant
  • 24-hour room service
  • Concierge assistance
  • Outdoor, marina-facing pool and sundeck
  • Outdoor wedding venue

Image Source: Pacifica Hotels

The hotel, which originally opened in 1964, completed their renovation just in time for the hotel’s 50th Anniversary. Marina del Rey Hotel has served as the central meeting point for local yacht clubs, fashion shows, and high-profile Los Angeles functions over the past half-century. The hotel provides easy access to a multitude of local attractions including Venice Beach, Fisherman’s Village, Ballona Wetlands and Santa Monica Pier. Nearby water activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and sailing.

Be one of the first to experience the new Marina del Rey Hotel. We know we will be trying it out soon. As well as their new restaurant. (Scroll down for details on that!)

SALT Restaurant

Image Source: Pacifica Hotels

SALT’s California Cuisine will consist of seasonally inspired and locally sourced dishes. Ingredients are sourced from local farmer’s markets to create an incredible Marina del Rey dining experience. SALT’s own rendition of Californian cuisine explores simple favorites with a contemporary twist. We can’t wait to try their new creations. Creamy hummus, which is complemented with a touch of California avocado and served with crisp grilled pita and fresh vegetables. Delicious lobster pasta featuring Maine lobster and Udon noodles in a succulent brown butter sauce.

Image Source: Pacifica Hotels

Check out their menus here and call 424.289.8223 to make a reservation.

Upcoming County Development and Via Marina Construction

We would like to keep you all informed on the upcoming construction that will be happening around the marina due to the Marina del Rey 18-Inch Waterline Replacement Phase IIIB project.

The project involves the construction of approximately 5,950 linear feet of new 18-inch diameter steel pipeline to replace the existing, aged, and undersized 10 and 14 inch-diameter water mains along Via Marina from Marquesas Way to Bora Bora Way, and along Fiji Way from Admiralty Way to the end of Fiji Way. All fire hydrants and customer service connections will be improved as well.

Marina-del-rey-project-2014

For Map Legend Please Visit: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/pdd/marinadelrey/

The purpose of the project is to improve the Marina del Rey Water System to meet domestic and fire protection water demands more effectively.  This project is the fourth and final part of a multi-phase plan to replace the existing Marina del Rey Water System.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the construction dates will be as follows:

Construction Start:    December 15, 2014
Construction End:     August 2015
Construction Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm

A portion of the Fisherman’s Village parking lot will be used as a staging area for construction, but an overflow parking lot located directly across the street will be available for patron use throughout construction.

Also, please note that construction activities may cause traffic delays between the hours of 8:00am – 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.  One lane will be open at all times for motorists along Via Marina and Fiji Way for the duration of the project and flagmen will direct traffic when needed.  For the safety of everyone, please exercise caution while in the vicinity of all construction activities by observing all traffic controls and flagmen.

Along with traffic control, the Marvin Braude bike path located along Fiji Way will be rerouted throughout construction.  All cyclists will be directed to cross the intersection of Admiralty Way and Fiji Way to use temporary bike path lanes located along the outer northbound lane of Fiji Way, and the detour will end at the terminus of Fiji Way.  Please note tha the temporary bike lane detour will have two directions of bicycle traffic riding on the outer northbound lane.  Signage will be posted to indicate all closures and detours.

For more details, please click here for the project flyer or visit the Marina del Rey Infrastructure Program website at http://dpw.lacounty.gov/go/mdr