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Tim White & Associates, REALTORS® are members of the National Associations of REALTORS® (NAR) and we keep up to date on marketing news and would love to pass this on you.  Follow us on our website, Facebook and Twitter.  We'll be happy to assist you anyway that we can.

 

Dec. 11, 2020

Tips and Tricks for Persistent Drafts

 

 

Oh, baby, it’s cold outside… and inside, too, if you’re standing close to a drafty window, door, or mysterious source of outside air. Persistent drafts are funny things. They can be massive pains when the wind blows just right, and almost unnoticeable when it’s still, making it both difficult to locate the problem, and hard to keep front of mind as you go about the rest of your week. But if you’ve got a persistent draft, transient or not, this can be the year you solve it. You’ll also save yourself a bundle in home heating and cooling costs throughout the year, so bonus.

 

Locating a Persistent Draft

Generally, people think to look at windows and doors when a draft is noticed, but what happens when the window doesn’t seem leaky and the door seals tight? Try:

  • Running your hand along the trim where it meets the wall. Sometimes windows aren’t properly weatherproofed when they’re installed, leaving the trim around the window unit to leak and leak and leak. Check that you’ve got a solid caulk bead all along your trim, even on the bottom of the window. An alarming number of air leaks result from skipping this step.
  • Examining outlets. Did you know cold air can come in through outlets on your exterior walls? It sure can. Sometimes it’s easier to find these by taking the cover off (turn your breaker off first, please).
  • Checking your chimney. If your damper isn’t closing properly, you may have a big time draft coming down through the chimney like Santa on Christmas Eve. It’s not always obvious when a chimney is leaking cold air unless you’re right below it, so make sure to check inside the fireplace.

If you can’t find a leak with your bare hands, try using a candle. Turn your ceiling fans and furnace off and run the candle slowly along ceilings, windows, doors, trimwork, outlets, fireplaces, and other potential sources of air loss. If you notice a flicker, mark the spot with a sticky note or other easily removable method. Go room by room, checking carefully in every possible spot.

Fixing Air Leaks

Once you know where your leaks are, the real work begins. It’s not just enough to know where the leak is; you need to know what to do about it. There are temporary fixes that will help eliminate drafts while you wait for a professional energy audit and weatherproofing, or you can try your hand at sealing common sources of air leaks.

Temporary solutions would include items like:

  • Gaskets for your windows. Some types of gaskets are meant to fill gaps at the bottom of the window frame. These are often only effective if you close the window on top of them and lock it for the winter.
  • Layers of window treatments. Windows are often a huge source of energy loss, so it would make sense that installing better window treatments can help slow the flow. This goes for both summer and winter. Install blinds hung on the inside of the window frame and an insulating curtain on the outside of it to slow those leaks coming from windows that have seen better days.
  • Door draft stoppers. Also known as “door snakes,” door draft stoppers can help keep the cold air outside if your door sweeps aren’t up to par. Choose a door draft stopper that’s slightly longer than the door in question, so the whole bottom is covered and the trim is overlapped.

More permanent solutions include removing trim and installing gap-filling foam, replacing door sweeps, installing gaskets in electrical outlets and junction boxes, taping the gaps in light fixtures, caulking trim work, and repairing fireplace doors and dampers.

https://blog.homekeepr.com/tips-and-tricks-for-persistent-drafts?sharedby=tim-white&utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Your+HomeKeepr+Daily+%7C+Your+Shareable+Blog+Post+is+Ready&utm_campaign=Thursday_Daily_Agent_Email

Posted in Blog
Dec. 3, 2020

Get Fired Up! Checking Your Furnace for Winter

 

 

Get Fired Up! Checking Your Furnace for Winter

 

When the last of the brightly colored leaves cling tightly to otherwise bare trees, you know that winter is coming. It’s a sad state of affairs, but happens every year, just like clockwork. The sleet, the snow, the ice, the cold, it all comes in a cycle, and because of that, you need to be paying particular attention to your furnace this time of year. Even if it hasn’t yet started raining down frozen apocalypse upon your head where you live, being ready for the day you’ll have to kick the heat on is a good idea. After all, you don’t want to find out that your furnace isn’t working properly when there’s a foot of snow in the forecast.

 

Furnace Basics

There are a lot of different kinds of ways to heat a house, but this article is about furnaces in particular. A furnace is a complex piece of equipment that not only contains a heat source, but also a blower to distribute heat throughout a home using a duct system. It’s part of a larger HVAC system, which generally also includes an air conditioner or heat pump. They can be mounted in attics, crawlspaces, garages, basements, and even outdoors in the right situation.

You should already be performing basic maintenance on your HVAC system, no matter what season. This would include items like changing the furnace filter (or cleaning it if it’s an electrostatic one) and flushing the condensation line. Keep those up, even in the winter.

Getting Ready for Winter

As for winter-specific tasks, your furnace should have a pre-launch check at least yearly. If you’re already using it for heating, it’s not too late, just remember to do this before you fire it up next year. Go through this list and hit all the items on it:

  • Thermostat. Likely you use your thermostat year-round, but if you don’t, check that your furnace will come on and go off with the control on the wall. If your thermostat is very old, it might be a good idea to replace it with a programmable or smart thermostat to help you save more fuel or electricity this winter.
  • Pilot light. Older gas or propane-powered furnaces often have a standing flame pilot light, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a fire in your house. All the time. Make sure the pilot light is actually lit if your furnace has one, otherwise you’re gonna be cold, and there’s also a chance gas is leaking in your home. If it’s a newer furnace, it likely has an electric ignitor, which will light the furnace automatically when it kicks on. If you’re not getting heat from a furnace with an electric ignitor, follow the instructions on your furnace to reset it; if that fails, try resetting the breaker.
  • Detectors. Smoke and CO2 detectors should be checked regularly, but definitely before you fire up the furnace. They have test buttons on them for this purpose. If they don’t go off, check the batteries or connections if they’re hardwired. Any detectors that fail inspection should be replaced immediately.

These are all simple things you can do to get ready for furnace season. However, there are a few other tasks that you should call an expert in to check or maintain.

When to Call in the Pros

Obviously, you’ll need to call a pro if your furnace won’t come on despite your best efforts. But you should also have an HVAC professional out to clean the air handler, flame sensors, and other vital parts of your furnace. Some DIYers might be able to do this with no issue, but for the general public, it’s safer and much smarter to call someone who knows furnaces inside and out.

Where would you find such a person? Well, in your HomeKeepr community, where you can search for an HVAC professional in your area. It’s great to know that the pros you’re working with have been used by the people in your own networks and found to be at the top of their game.

 

https://blog.homekeepr.com/get-fired-up-checking-your-furnace-for-winter?sharedby=tim-white&utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Your+HomeKeepr+Daily+%7C+Your+Shareable+Blog+Post+is+Ready&utm_campaign=Monday_Daily_Agent_Email

 

Posted in Blog
Dec. 3, 2020

Keep it Clean this FLUE Season

 

Keeping it Clean This Flue Season

 

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire is a delightful holiday season tradition, but unless your flue has been inspected and cleaned, it’s not a very good idea. After all, a far less popular holiday pastime is running out into a winter night in your pajamas because your flue caught on fire. Flue fires account for about 46,000 home fires yearly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Although most homeowners made it out in time, the property damage that can result is often massive. Some flue fires will go undetected and may smolder for a long time, while others will quickly burn a house to the ground. This is why it’s so important to keep your flue clean and in good repair, especially if you’re using a fireplace or other wood-burning heating sources.

 

Flue Checks You Can Do Yourself

There’s a lot involved in caring for a chimney, but there are some checks you can do yourself to ensure your flue is as healthy as possible. If you notice any defects, however, you really should call in a pro because proper chimney cleaning and repair is vital to the functioning of your fireplace or wood stove. If you want to check your fireplace before calling for help, try:

  • Checking for creosote build-up. You can often see into the lower portion of your chimney or flue, provided the opening isn’t blocked by a wood stove insert. Shine a flashlight into the empty fireplace, up toward the ceiling, and take a look around. Creosote is tarry black stuff that clings to the walls and moving parts inside your chimney. It’s seriously combustible.
  • Examining your cap. Your chimney cap is one of the most underappreciated parts of your home. No, really. It keeps animals out while still letting air in, and prevents rain and show from coming down the chimney (it’s rumored that Santa can still bypass a chimney cap, but no one really knows how). If you can safely access the chimney cap, take a look at it. Is it straight and square? Does the material holding it in place appear to be intact? Big black streaks may be signs that there’s been a small chimney fire in the upper chimney in the past.
  • Inspecting the brickwork. It might sound like a small thing, but the brickwork on your chimney actually serves a really important purpose, and for it to do its job, it needs to be intact. And that’s not just the bricks, but also the material that is used to hold them together (the cream in your brickwork Oreo, if you will). If your brick faces have started to shear, or the bricks are loose, you definitely need to get this fixed right away. It’s a hazard to people below, as brick parts can fall and hit bystanders. Loose mortar is bricks waiting to fall down, so take it seriously as well.

What a Chimney Sweep Does

A chimney sweep is a flue professional who is well-versed in cleaning, maintaining, and optimizing your chimney. They’re really good at making sure it’s safe to start a fire in your fireplace, and can advise you on ways to improve your fireplace efficiency if you’re not getting the kinds of results you’d like. There are many, many options for modern fireplaces and retrofitting older fireplaces, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Most importantly, your chimney sweep will keep your chimney clean so that you don’t spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying about little chimney fires brewing in hidden parts of the flue. Using a combination of brushes and chemical treatments, they’ll remove all the highly combustible creosote. While they’re at it, they’ll also inspect your chimney, including the liner, brickwork, damper, and cap. It’s a lot of service, but many fireplaces only need to be inspected and cleaned yearly.

 

https://blog.homekeepr.com/keeping-it-clean-this-flue-season?sharedby=tim-white&utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Your+HomeKeepr+Daily+%7C+Your+Shareable+Blog+Post+is+Ready&utm_campaign=Thursday_Daily_Agent_Email#

Posted in Blog
Aug. 28, 2020

2020 US Census Everyone Counts

2020 US Census everyone counts

Let’s Make The 2020 Census A Success in NC

  September 2020 eBulletin

The North Carolina Complete Count Commission (NC CCC) is committed to making the 2020 Census a success for our state.  Visit census.nc.gov for information and resources.

Why the Census Matters

The US Census is a once a decade count of everyone residing in the United States. It will have a big impact on North Carolina’s communities through representation, funding, and reliable information.  The US Constitution requires a Census every 10 years to determine seats in the US House of Representatives.  North Carolina has 13 Congressional seats, but recent estimates show that our state may gain a seat after the 2020 Census.  A complete count will ensure that North Carolina’s voice will be appropriately represented in Congress.  The Census also provides the most detailed picture of our communities, and governmental funding programs rely on Census data to distribute billions of dollars each year.  In Fiscal Year 2015, the US Government distributed over $16 billion in North Carolina providing resources for schools, health care, highways, and more.  That’s $1,623 per person per year, and the State of North Carolina also distributes about $200 per person per year to counties and towns based on Census information.  Information from the Census helps local service providers and businesses plan for our dynamic state.  The Census is important to our future.  When you complete your 2020 Census form, you Make NC Count.

How do People Respond

The 2020 Census will shape representation, funding, and planning for North Carolina’s future; and being counted in the Census is quick, easy, and safe. This is the first US Census to allow internet or smartphone responses; you can complete your Census form online.  The Census invitation was mailed in March and included a web address, Census ID code, and phone number.  If you did not receive it you can still take it at https://2020census.gov/en.html. If you do not have internet access or would rather not reply online, you can provide your information by phone at 844-330-2020.  You can also use the phone number to request a paper Census form.  Census forms are available in 12 languages, and Census support is available in over 50 languages including American Sign Language.  Questionnaire support is available online via chat and over the phone. Census Enumerators are now visiting the addresses of non-responders to make sure everyone is counted.  The information you provide is confidential and by law cannot be shared for 72 years.  This includes all federal and state government agencies, law enforcement, courts, etc.  The Census questionnaire is short and can be completed in a few minutes.  Your confidential participation helps provide representation, funding, and planning data to serve your community for the next decade.  When you complete your 2020 Census form, you Make NC Count.

How the Census Works

The 2020 Census is a big operation – in fact, it is the largest peacetime operation conducted by the US government.  It takes a big operation to count everyone in a nation that is growing and becoming more mobile and diverse.  The task of the Census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.  This task is required by the Constitution to determine where Congressional seats should be apportioned.  Everyone counts in the Census – no matter your age, race, sex, or place of birth.  The Census counts everyone in every living situation whether you reside in a house, apartment, dorm, prison, barracks, or are homeless.  The Census counts everyone where they usually live on April 1, 2020; but the Census does not change your legal residence for taxes, voter registration, or other residency status. 

Participation is required by law. While you can skip questions on the Census form, this increases your likelihood of being visited by a Census Enumerator.

Confidentiality – Participating is Safe

Your Census response is confidential and protected for 72 years per Title 13 of the US Code.  Your personal Census information cannot be shared with any one or any government agency including law enforcement, immigration, IRS, etc.  Violation of Census confidentiality is punishable by five years in federal prison and/or $250,000 fine.  These severe penalties protect your Census privacy.  While participating in the Census is safe, knowing what to expect will help avoid potential scams and fraud.  The 2020 Census is short.  The Census form asks questions about housing tenure (owning/renting), phone number, number of people in the home, relationship, and name, sex, race, Hispanic/Latino origin for each person in the home.  The 2020 Census does NOT ask for social security numbers, bank or credit card account numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.  Census Enumerators are now in the field conducting 2020 Census non-response operations.  All Census workers will have ID badges with their photograph, US Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.  Census workers will carry a hand-held device and a clearly marked US Census Bureau bag.  If asked, Census workers will produce their supervisor’s contact information and/or regional office phone number for verification and a letter from the Director of the Census Bureau on US Census Bureau letterhead.  A Census worker will never ask to enter your home.  Your Census response is important to the future of your community, and your participation is safe.

 

https://bulletins.ncrec.gov/lets-make-the-2020-census-a-success-in-nc/

Posted in Blog
Feb. 13, 2020

Some 70,000 Valentines sent to 104-year-old in tribute to military veterans

Boxes containing thousands of Valentine’s Day cards sent to Major Bill White at his home in Stockton
© Reuters/KATE MUNSCH
By Nathan Frandino

STOCKTON, Calif. (Reuters) - William White, a 104-year-old U.S. Marine veteran who earned a Purple Heart in World War Two, is celebrating Valentine's Day this year like never before, surrounded by a mountain of 70,000 love letters and well-wishes sent from all over the world. 

The cards and notes to "Major Bill," a retired major who lives in an assisted living facility in Stockton, California, began pouring in after a fellow resident launched a social media campaign called "Operation Valentine," asking friends and strangers alike to send greetings to honor White. 

At the outset, the goal was a modest 100 cards - about one for every one of White's birthdays - but the response has outstripped all expectations. 

"It's just too fantastic," said White, surrounded by waist-high stacks of postal boxes filled with cards.

On a recent day, White's great-granddaughter Abigail Sawyer, 9, delivered a bundle of cards from her fourth grade class, many of them decorated with the American flag.

A week before Valentine's Day, which lands on Friday this year, at least 70,000 pieces of correspondence had arrived from people in every U.S. state and several foreign countries.

So much mail has been delivered that White's family has had to enlist volunteers to help open the cards and read the warm wishes to White, who retired after 35 years of active service, including time in the Pacific theater of WWII, when he was wounded at Iwo Jima. 

For those sending Valentines, White represents something bigger than himself. Many of them have conveyed a deep appreciation not only to White for his service, but to all veterans who died too soon to hear their gratitude. 

A woman identified only as Jane told White that her late grandfather also fought in World War Two as a U.S. Army paratrooper. Had he lived, she said, he would be turning 100 years old this year.

"I miss him so much," she wrote. "By sending you this card, I feel as though I am sending my grandfather a card."

It's all new to White, who said he never really celebrated Valentine's Day, even when his wife of 42 years was alive.

"It's something I've never heard of or seen," White said. "All of a sudden here, like a ton of bricks. I'm sort of speechless."

 

(Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Chizu Nomiyama)

 

 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/good-news/some-70000-valentines-sent-to-104-year-old-in-tribute-to-military-veterans/ar-BBZSj6m

 

Posted in Blog, Good News
Feb. 13, 2020

Home Price Hikes Widen Sellers’ Advantage

February 12, 2020


The majority of metro areas saw home prices rise in the final quarter of 2019 as housing inventories remained constrained and buyer demand stayed high, 
according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest quarterly report.

Median single-family home prices rose annually in 94% of the markets NAR tracked in the fourth quarter, or 170 of 180 metro areas. The national median existing single-family home price was $274,900, a 6.6% increase from the fourth quarter of 2018, NAR reported.

“It is challenging—especially for those potential buyers—where we have a good economy, low interest rates, and a soaring stock market, yet are finding very few homes available for sale,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “We saw prices increase during every quarter of 2019 above wage growth.”

Median home prices were highest in the Western region of the U.S., at $413,500. They were the least expensive in the Midwest, with a median of $210,200.

Eighteen metro areas posted double-digit price increases in the fourth quarter, led by Trenton, N.J. (18.2%); Boise City-Nampa, Idaho (13.7%); Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. (11.8%); Kingston, N.Y. (11.2%); and Albuquerque, N.M. (11.1%).

“Rising home values typically create wealth gains for existing homeowners … however, areas that are deemed ‘too expensive’ will obviously have trouble attracting residents and companies looking to do business there,” Yun says. “We need a good balance that benefits both current and future homeowners, but right now, the balance is still in favor of home sellers.”

Still, buyers are finding falling mortgage rates are helping somewhat in easing housing affordability woes lately. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.76% in the fourth quarter, down from 4.95% a year ago. “Because of the lower mortgage payment, the income needed for a family to afford a mortgage decreased to $48,960 from $52,896 one year ago,” NAR noted in its study.

But housing shortages abound, which means buyers are having fewer choices of homes for sale. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, 1.4 million existing homes were available for sale. That is 8.5% less than a year prior, NAR reports.

Posted in Blog, Market Updates
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates