How Triangle Homes Celebrate Earth Day

BuildSense HomeHappy Earth Day!  As an EcoBroker (a Realtor specially educated on issues regarding green homes) it’s great to know that the Triangle is a hotbed of activity in green home building.  I was drawn to Green Building because it provides options to save money, resources and provide healthier home environments.

In fact, May 3-4 and 10-11 will be a great time to see the best in local Green Homes on the Triangle Green Home Tour.  Founded in 2006, the Green Home Builders of the Triangle promote building of resource-efficient homes and were the hosts of the national Green Home Builders’ conference a few years ago, a testament to interest in green building in the area.  Randall Lanou is one of the premiere members of the group and is President of BuildSense Architecture.  Check out his entry at 1201 Watauga in Mordecai on the tour (pictured), or find out more on their BuildSense Blog.

In Raleigh, both custom home builders and production builders have embraced Green.  You can find many energy-efficient features on home built by Lennar, Meritage and others.  Green features are a part of the MLS, so a custom search can be made for you!

If you’re thinking of remodeling, or taking on just one project in your home, the folks at Common Ground Green Building Center in Durham a great resource.  Talk to Paul of any of the staff about beautiful and unique glass countertops, cork floors or low VOC paint.  Keep in mind even a small project such as improving insulation around your doors and windows or equipping lights with auto off switches (if you tend to forget as I do!) can be helpful.  A big part of what makes a home more earth-friendly is about using resources more efficiently.
It may not seem like it yet this year, but sun is a resource we’ve got great plenty of in the Triangle, making solar installations at home a viable option.  Local Cary Company Yes! Solar Solutions offers residential installations to lower your energy bill.
Read the Indy Week article about affordable solar and the Solarize programs starting in North Carolina. This grassroots initiative for community solar started in Portland Oregon several years ago, and has swept the country. The first North Carolina program was in Asheville in 2013, and Solarize Durham is the first in the Triangle, with more programs announced for Raleigh and other communities across the state. Solarize Durham, sponsored by Durham non-profit NC WARN and its designated installer Yes! Solar Solutions, launched January 15 and already has had over 100 homeowners sign up.

Not ready to build or buy a green home but wonder what you can do to make your home more earth-friendly?  How about composting?  Love the idea, but don’t have the time…or perhaps even the space to make your own?  Try Raleigh’s own Community Compost Shuttle.  They’ll pick up your compostable materials weekly and if you like, bring you back some compost to use!  Check the website to see if service is available where you live, serving most of the Triangle!

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Ready to Show Tip #2: Your Door and More

The door is both functional and symbolic. I was out with clients the other day and I noticed the restless anticipation the buyers had as they waited for me to open the lockbox (and yes, electronic lockboxes are coming soon to the Triangle to simplify & make more secure this process). While the buyer waits on the porch, they not only get extra time to look at the view, listen to traffic and observe the neighbors, but they are thinking “is this the one?” and getting keyed up (no pun intended!)

First impressions mean a lot! For this reason, and many more it’s important to evaluate every entrance. It’s not just the front door that will be given a once over. “Doors offer a huge bang for the buck” says ChrisNeumann, director of operations for Pyramid Builders in Annapolis.

Here are a few “Ready to Sell” tips:
• Update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs (brass is still NOT in!)
• Replace any rickety bi-folds on closets with double swing or heavier solid-core doors. Estimated costs: door hinges can cost $3, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99. TIP however, if you haven’t ever re-installed a door, be ready to do some adjustments.
• Even adjusting and planning current doors can help them close better, and it’s practically free.

As the lady said, “You Had Me At Hello.”

Ready To Show Tip #1: They don’t call it curb appeal for nothing…..

Car_tree_600We just survived “snowpocalypse!”  Now that we’ve removed the limbs that fell on the lawn (or the tree across the street in my case!) it’s left the front of many homes here in the Triangle in need of a bit of care.   Don’t let March become June without tending to the actual “curb appeal” of your home.  Clean out that front curb where the muddy stream ran down the street (that dirty sidewalk makes a less than perfect first impression too).  Check for loose or clogged gutters, and broken or missing flashing materials, which help to prevent leaks behind the gutters.  Get ready to trim the lawn (especially those early greens that shot up on our 60+ degree days!) and trim the bushes.  Soon, you’ll be wiping down that lawn furniture for spring use, and don’t forget to fix any loose or dangling shutters.  There!  All better, winter almost over.  Estimated cost:  Mostly free!  However, completely replacing gutters can be expensive.  Replacing just parts is more economical.  A 10- foot gutter starts at $6. downspouts start at $8.  If you want to get fancy, a new garage door costs about $1000, but a decorative garage door hardware kit starts at $19.

The Lovely Home Next Door….?

Plaid HouseLast week while showing a home to my clients, we noticed something unusual. Across the street was a very notable home. In fact it was plaid. Yes plaid – the whole house. It wasn’t awful but you certainly could say strange. The seller of the property we were viewing was home, and I had to ask him about the house. Subtext of question: is your neighbor a kook? He had a great answer prepared about the generosity and community spirit of said neighbor.

So what to do? Your home has a place that is not the neighborhood showplace nearby. Peeling paint, unkept yard…or just strange. When it comes time to sell, how can you frame this for your potential buyers? The first is to see if a plain old helping hand might be useful. I’ve had clients mow lawns, cut trees and help and financially stretched neighbor to clean up. It was appreciated by all. But you can’t change taste. If plaid or purple is what you’re looking at out the window, this is the time for a great story about the character, charm and personality of your great hood! And possibly, better blinds.

Bidding wars: they’re baaaack

bidding warRemember when sellers ruled the market, causing buyers to try and outbid each other for the best homes?

After several years of buyer supremacy, the bidding wars are back.

Today buyers must strategize to make the most attractive offer on the “hot” homes. One strategy I’ve used for some time–perhaps left over from the day when agents actually presented their client’s offer in person–is the personal letter.

This WSJ article does a great job of covering the winning letter and explaining why it’s made a comeback.

Why Asheville rocks

Asheville, NC: our beautiful mountain neighbor

Do you like the Carolina mountains? What about mountain river towns? How about awesome craft beer and mead? BBQ that’ll knock yer socks off? An arts scene like nowhere else? Then Asheville, just 250 miles west of Raleigh, is your kind of place!

Outdoor magazine put Asheville on its prestigious list of “Best Towns”–and if you’ve ever been there, you know why. Check it out!

(Check out a local Asheville honey wine maker, Fox Hill Meadery. A friend of a friend is the owner of this growing family-owned business.)

Campout! Carolina this weekend

Campout! Carolina is October 12-14

Ever wanted to turn your backyard into a wilderness campsite?

This weekend, October 12-14, is EarthShare North Carolina’s 6th annual “Campout! Carolina” event, where you can show your support for the environment just by camping somewhere… even your own backyard!

(Oh, and there are some cool prizes you can win too. REI in Cary is donating gear.)

Register/learn more at campoutcarolina.org. Get out there and enjoy our beautiful autumn weather!