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July
12

Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI). Here are our top 4 Home Improvements For Max ROI. 

 


 

#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel

It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. All manageable projects that update the new look of a dated bathroom. You'll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.

Cost to Complete: $10,500 | Return on Investment: $10,700 or 102%

#2 Upgraded Landscaping

A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them. A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property.

Cost to Complete: $5,000 | Return on Investment: $5,000 or 100%

#3 Minor Kitchen Remodel

If your kitchen's floor plan is good but requires a new look, refacing cabinets, adding a tile backsplash. changing the countertop, or adding under cabinet lighting is a great place to start. Add professional detail without the cost by changing drapes, fixtures and window molding.

Cost to Complete: $15,000 | Return on Investment: $14,913 or 98.5%

#4 Exterior Improvements

Outdoor spaces add curb appeal and a place to enjoy the aforementioned landscaping improvements. Consider repainting your house or investing in vinyl siding. For an updated look, remove old awnings from windows and doors. A new front door will add a welcoming feel .

Cost to Complete: $7,000 | Return on Investment: $6,700

Source: HGTV

 

June
28

 

Buying a Home is a Big Deal

It's a life event, and it's an important decision. If you're looking to buy, you'll want to find the right neighborhood, right mortgage, and perfect home. If you're looking to sell you'll want to find the right price and the right time to put your home on the market. But this important step is often overlooked … Searching for the perfect agent for yourself.

This person should be someone compatible with you (and your family), but also someone who has the experience to make the process enjoyable. Cora Bett Thomas suggests that you interview your agent, asking them these 5 key questions for finding the perfect agent:

What do you do differently than anybody else?

Find out what sets them apart. What type of Brokerage to do they work for? How are they going to go above and beyond for you and the service you need?

What experience do you have?

Have them tell you about the most interesting listing or sale they've ever made. How long have they been in the business in your area? If they are new to the market they may still be learning the area. Have they helped sell your type of property before? Have they helped a buyer in your situation? All real estate transactions are different, so you want to make sure your agent knows how to guide you through the process, or has the resources behind them to support your needs.

How do you communicate?

Communication is a big deal. Some people prefer phone calls, others a text or an email. The frequency of communication is also a deal breaker. You should have your choice of how you like to be communicated with, but no matter the case they should be communicating with you very often and very clearly.

How active are you as an agent?

Are they actively soliciting listings and going out and finding customers? That is the key. This is not a 9-5 job, this is a smart job. Your agent needs to know more than just the transaction at hand. Are they caught up on the national market as well as your local market? Be sure to ask about community involvement. An agent who has relationships around your town will help get you connected.

How are you going to market my property?

There's more to it than just putting the For Sale sign in the yard. Your agent should be explaining what your property offers to a wide audience. They should be using videos, digital marketing, Instagram, Facebook, and all social media platforms to help sell your home.

Ready to Sell or Buy a Home?

You want the home buying and selling process to be just as important to your agent as it is to you. Come see us at Cora Bett Thomas Realty, because we have the right agent for you!

June
14

Tips for Tree Risk Assessment and Limb Failure.

Tree Risk Assessment

While not a perfect science — given the unpredictability of nature — there are many signs to look for that could indicate the potential for tree failure. Some caused by improper pruning practices, and others occur naturally. In this article we will discuss signs and growth patterns that may indicate a trees potential likelihood for failure, along with how you — as the manager of your own little slice of our urban forest — can be educated when hiring a tree service contractor in hopes of mitigating these potential risks.

It's easy and understandable to be concerned about large trees near or over your home with the annual threat of hurricanes. As long as your house is within striking distance of a tree, there is the potential for impact if such a storm does occur; or, if structural problems with the tree go unnoticed or untreated. The goal of this article is to familiarize you with some common defects so you can be informed and are able to address potential issues. Also knowing how to identify some of these problems and understanding mitigation options will help you weed out potential "tree choppers."  These individuals may feed off of your fear of property damage and make unnecessary recommendations that can cost you significant money and oftentimes be damaging to your trees.

Tree Risk Assessment

First off, check to see if your tree is over or within striking distance to any targets. These include structures, high traffic areas, playgrounds, etc. If it isn't, move on to others. If it is, let's take a closer look:

Does the tree have any large, dead limbs? These are most easily spotted in summer when healthy limbs generally have leaves.

Do you notice a lean in the tree? Has the lean noticeably worsened over time? You could see heaving of the ground/roots on the opposing side of the lean. Are the majority of the limbs (weight) on the side of the lean, or does the canopy balance out the lean?

Now let's look at the larger branches, leads (large tree parts that grow from the truck off of which branches are attached), and trunk. Do you see any decay on these? Binoculars may be helpful. Keep an eye out for cavity dwellers: bees, raccoons, etc.. These are an obvious sign of hollow areas. Look at the "forks" of the large limbs. This is the area where the trunk branches out to smaller sized leads and limbs and often times where limbs break in high wind. The optimal fork will have somewhat of a "U" shape on the top side. Spread your fingers wide, and look at the base where they meet your hand. Notice the small webbing like appearance — that is what we are looking for in an optimal tree fork. This is the strongest growth form. If you instead see a harder, more "V" like connection, often times with swollen or discolored bark — this could be included bark.

Included bark will cause a weakened attachment of the leads predisposing them to possible failure. A supplemental support system (Cables and/or braces) may be necessary to prevent failure.

Moving on, let's look at the trunk and base of the trunk, "root flare" (Root flare is the base of the trunk where the trunk meets the roots)- do you see any cracks, cavities, loose or missing bark, conks or water Stains? Do you see flat areas as opposed to the mostly uniform roundness? Do you see any deep recesses or ridges at the lower portion of the trunk near the root flare? These are often times an indicator that the trunk may be hollow. If you don't spot any of these, let's move on to the roots.

Do you see any mushrooms or other such fruiting bodies? These could indicate root rot issues. Has there been a driveway recently installed, or other such disturbances that may have damaged the anchoring system of the tree? Do you see any lifted areas of soil or roots? Is the area a low spot? Oversaturated soil due to poor drainage could cause a tree to uproot easier in high winds and is also a breeding ground for root rot causing pathogens further weakening roots.

Risk Assessing Multiple Trees on Your Property

Now let's take a broader look at all of the trees on your property that could be a risk. Here is a list of potential hazardous trees and the risks they pose.

  1. Trees left after development. Often densely wooded lots are cleared with the exception of just a few trees. These trees are more likely to fail in high winds, given they previously shared wind load with other trees. They are usually tall with very thin trunks, low live-crown ratio, and lack a root flare. Root flare is swelling at the base of the trunk caused by added structural wood as a result of wind loading and is a desirable structural feature.
  2. Water Oaks and Laurel Oaks. These trees have a short life span and often develop decay and included bark with age. Keep in mind that just because the leaves are green and appear healthy, the trunk may still be largely hollow. Further inspection may be necessary by an ISA Certified Arborist if the tree is in a critical location.
  3. Trees that have previously been topped or lions tailed. We will dive further into this later in this article.
  4. Large limbs that extend well past the crown of the tree.
  5. Trees in low lying areas. Soil may provide poor anchoring, upping the potential for uprooting in high winds.
  6. Trees with excessive leans.
  7. Trees with low live-crown ratio - usually Pines. Live-crown is measured from the lowest limb to the top of the tree. Optimally this just be about ⅔ of the total height of the tree. The more limbs are concentrated above the halfway mark of the tree, a lever arm action is created in high winds.
  8. Bradford Pears. These are the perfect candidate for limb failure given all of the limbs generally grow from the same area on the trunk, resulting in weak attachment.

How Improper Pruning Practices May Result in Tree Hazards

Topping

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree limbs to stubs or to lateral limbs that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Often times people assume that by shortening a tree they are ensuring it is receiving less wind load or is less of a hazard because it now won't reach the target if it falls. While the immediate result of topping is just that, many more problems arise down the road. Depending on the severity of the hack job, the tree may die shortly after. Remember — trees need leaves to supply food to sustain. If the tree does survive this travesty, it will sprout out numerous shoots all from one area at the end of the nubbed off limbs. These shoots grow to large limbs over a few years and are weakly attached and prone to break much more than before. Compounding this issue is the trees reaction to topping. It will allocate all of its energy to putting out new shoots/leaves and very little energy to the sealing process, leaving the end of these limbs open for decay. The newly grown limbs will be even more prone to failure. Avoid topping trees.

Lions Tailing

Lions Tailing is when all of the inner limbs of a tree are removed, leaving only the foliage near the ends of the large limbs - resembling a lion tail. The misunderstanding is that by doing this the wind will more easily flow through the tree reducing its wind resistance; however there is actually the adverse effect. Now that all of the wind resistance is at the tip of the limb, a lever arm is created and forces are amplified. Instead of removing this interior growth, weight/limbs should be shortened. As an example, try holding a 5-pound weight with your arm fully extended. Now rest the 5-pound weight directly on your bicep. The latter is much easier. Furthermore, the tree will react to lions tailing by exponential sprouting where the limbs were just removed in an effort to replace lost leaf area. You will hire someone to do it all over again and again. Avoid lions tailing limbs.

Making Large Pruning Cuts on Mature Trees

Large limbs/leads of trees over your house or valuables can be nerve wracking. The first thought is often to remove the entire tree part (i.e limb or lead) all the way back to the trunk. This may not be the best choice. It's important to know that every cut is a wound. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to seal - if ever. Open wounds from large cuts are the perfect opportunity for decay causing pathogens to enter the tree. Instead of having large limbs removed, consider removing weight/limbs from the tip to lighten the load.

Hiring a Tree Professional

Now that you are informed, this should be much easier. Avoid "point and cut" companies. These are the ones who know little about arboricultural practices but have a chainsaw and are willing to cut wherever you point. Find an ISA Certified Arborist — preferably with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. They have the knowledge to guide you on what is best for both you and your trees. Yes the initial cost may be a little more, but the results will save you far more down the road. My hope is that this brief "do it yourself" tree risk assessment is helpful. Importantly, this is a very watered down version as a guide to help you spot defects and hazards and should not be a substitute for a tree professionals thorough inspection and advice.

By Shem Kendrick
ISA Certified Arborist SO-7151A
Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
TCIA Tree Care Specialist

Coastal Arbor Care

912-272-0175
www.Coastalarbor.biz

June
5

Cora Bett Thomas Realty is a Proud Leading RE Member

When you think of Cora Bett Thomas Realty you think of the 100 mile coast and the Low Country, but did you know the agency has a world-wide connection? Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates is the Savannah representative for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World ("Leading RE"). As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides global accessibility with a local focus.

Leading RE has a global membership that spans six continents and 70 countries. Each year, Leading RE connects more than 565 firms and 130,000 sales associates who produce over 1.2 million real estate transactions. Membership to Leading RE is by invitation only, so the network of real estate professionals all uphold the highest standards and strive for exceptional experiences for all clients.

As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in virtually any market worldwide. Listing your home with Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates connects your for sale sign to firms all around the world, thanks to Leading RE.

Cora Bett Thomas Realty is a charter member of its Luxury Property division, Luxury Portfolio International. Your home will be featured on the very best websites and get exposure from more than 150 websites, because of this connection. Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates has set the standard for marketing, professionalism and growth among luxury brokers in the region.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today for more information on what our Membership in Leading RE means for you as a buyer or seller.

May
8

Painting a Picture for Savannah's Future

Cora Bett Thomas Realty welcomed a special guest last week. Robert Morris, Senior Director for Corporate Communications at the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), took some time to explain the impacts and the future of the port of savannah to our agents.

The ports are Georgia's gateway to the world, and with its growth, right here in Savannah, real estate sees a positive impact.

The Georgia Ports Authority brings 42,500 jobs to Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, and Effingham counties. As you may know, our terminal here in Savannah is a record-setter. It's the single largest and the fastest growing U.S. Container Port. That growth isn't stopping anytime soon, as they are working on an estimated $1.019 billion project to deepen the Savannah River by 5 feet. Right now that project is 50 percent complete.

Robert presented these outstanding numbers to Cora Bett's team through his passion for art. Interestingly enough, Robert studied art at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. His art has been widely exhibited in major American museums, galleries and libraries. His paintings were displayed throughout his presentation.

From May 22 through January 12, the public will have an opportunity to see his artistic side at the Ships of the Sea Museum. 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.

The numbers speak for themselves and truly show the impact that GPA have on our community, but it is Robert's artwork that really paints a beautiful picture and captures the aesthetic impact it has on the port of Savannah.

May
6

Hurricane Preparedness Week 

In the Lowcountry, we are less than a month away from the beginning of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared. We have recently had two seasons with close calls and you can read what  we learned about preparing here 

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is an upcoming event in the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. The season will officially begin on June 1, 2019, and end on November 30, 2019. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. 

While predictions right now favor average activity for hurricanes in the Atlantic, it is still important to be ready. Don't wait until the last minute to make preparations. One of the most important things you should do, and do immediately, is to check your homeowner's insurance. Most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Check your flood zone at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources DFIRM Flood Map. Then, make sure to have adequate flood insurance for your home. Flood insurance coverage usually takes 30 days to go into effect.

Make sure that you are aware of your community's  evacuation plan and evacuation route. A great way to be prepared for a hurricane and to stay informed during a hurricane is to sign up to receive local alerts and warnings.

Pay attention to local weather forecasts. Storm paths change quickly and without much warning, so listen out for local weather alerts. Also listen to local officials for warnings and instructions, such as evacuation orders. Follow the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, or CEMA, on Twitter and Facebook and check in often for updates.

The FEMA mobile app is also a great resource for hurricane preparation, and includes checklists for hurricane preparation. The FEMA mobile app also provides weather alerts from the National Weather Service and maps of open hurricane shelters and recovery centers. 

Create and review your family's emergency communication plan and make sure that your family is all aware of the contents and location of your emergency supplies. Another important way to be prepared is financially. Strengthen your financial preparedness in the event of a hurricane by collecting and securing important financial, insurance, medical, and other personal records. 

Protect Your Investment

If you have an investment and/or rental property, do not neglect it, even if it is vacant. Instead, make sure to conduct a full hurricane preparedness check on the property every year. This ensures that your property is ready to withstand the high winds and heavy rainfall that is common during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. The staff at Cora Bett Thomas Property Management are available to conduct a Full Weather check on your property, which includes:

  • Complete Roof Inspection
  • Siding and Entry Inspection
  • Window inspection
  • Comprehensive Plumbing and HVAC Check

Once the check has been completed, you can approve any work or repairs that need to be done to ensure that your property is ready to withstand the forces of Mother Nature. The peace of mind that comes from having your property ready will be worth the effort and expense.

These are just a few tools and resources that can help you and your family get prepared, and offer some peace of mind as we approach the 2019 Hurricane Season. 

March
29

Real Estate Virtual Realty

By: Demetri Chrissos

From the alarm clock that wakes you up every morning to the maps that get you from point A to B on time, we are living in a technology-first world. Connectivity is inevitable. Most likely all of these resources can be found in the palm of your hand, on your smartphone.

The same goes for the world of real estate. Highly developed gadgets are improving by the minute, and Cora Bett Thomas has always put a huge emphasis on the importance of technology.

"It's time to embrace this new world of real estate."

Real Estate Virtual Realty

"My goal is to be open to new ideas and be a step ahead of the technologies in the ever-changing world of real estate," says the founder of Cora Bett Thomas Realty, Cora Bett Thomas. "It's time to embrace this new world of real estate."

Technology has truly transformed the way realtors think, operate, and serve their clients. There are now 3rd party websites showcasing properties, and 3-D home tours, right from the luxury of your home. You can feel like your inside another home with the click of a mouse.

Real Estate Virtual Realty

To make it even more real, Cora Bett recently introduced her team to Virtual Reality glasses. They are made by Google and branded with Cora Bett Thomas Realty's logo, costing only a few dollars to produce and compatible with most any smartphone. These VR glasses, paired with the Matterport 3D camera, give users the chance to see and feel a property layout without actually stepping foot inside (as seen in photo).

It can be an incredible tool for agents who want to show a variety of interiors to those who are just starting their search. They don't fully replace the showing of properties (yet) but they add an element of service for clients and customers. It will also grow as a tool for visitors looking to just rent our vacation properties

The DIY cardboard trend in technology can be seen elsewhere. Nintendo recently came out with the Switch, a console designed to be portable and enable players to bring gaming experiences out of the family room and into the world. They've even created cardboard cutouts that can create a steering wheel, a fishing pole, and more. This provides affordable access and the "Do It Yourself" experience for those who otherwise wouldn't get to experience these innovations.

As technology changes, easy and affordable access to it is one of the most important factors. By sharing and introducing Cora Bett Thomas Realty clients and agents to virtual reality, we're contributing to the conversation.

February
15

A Southern Beauty for Over 200 Years

Savannah doesn't lack for natural beauty. A number of varieties of flowers and plants make the Historic Downtown District sparkle. None so much as the camellia embody the genteel beauty of Savannah. These evergreen shrubs boast large and colorful blossoms and adorn Downtown Savannah like jewels.  

Camellias have been a part of the southern landscape for over 200 years. The plants were first introduced to the United States by way of Charleston, South Carolina in 1786. Camellias can serve several functions in landscape planting. They are staples in most of the squares in the Historic District. Camellia bushes can be used for foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings and hedges. 

The colors of the camellia blossoms found in Savannah range from snowy white to deep ruby red. Camellia bushes can grow to a height of up to six feet tall and two feet wide. Some of the most beautiful variations of camellia blossoms include pale pink blossoms with darker pink stripes. The broad, glossy dark green leaves of the camellia contrast beautifully with the lush and fragile blossoms of the camellia's blossoms. When the camellias come into full bloom in the winter, their stately and refined elegance call to mind the Southern belles of Savannah's history. 

Some of our favorite squares to admire these Savannah belles are along Bull Street: Chippewa Square and Wright Square. Both of these squares are dotted with artfully spaced camellia bushes. Calhoun Square, on Abercorn Street also hosts photo-worthy camellia bushes. Although these bushes in this square are a bit shorter than their sisters in Chippewa and Wright Squares, they are no less stunning.

The natural beauty afforded by the camellia shrubs and blossoms is something that Savannah visitors and locals alike can enjoy. The camellia blooms add a dash of color to our occasionally gray winter days, and remind us of the promise of warmer weather just ahead.

January
24

Whether you are thinking of selling your house or buying a home, today's real estate headlines can be confusing – perhaps even concerning. What is actually happening with mortgage rates? Are home values dropping or are they just rising at a slower pace? What impact will the economy have on the housing market?

If you are either a buyer or seller (or both), you need to know what it will mean to your family if you go ahead with the move. You need to understand three things:

1. What is happening in the housing market right now?

Consumers must get past those fear-mongering headlines and gain a deep understanding of what is truly happening. How strong is buyer demand right now? How much competition do listings have today compared to what they will have in the spring? People want to make an educated decision on what is probably their family's greatest financial asset.

2. Why is it happening?

Understanding the individual pieces that impact the sale or purchase of real estate is important. Understanding how those pieces impact each other is critical. How does the amount of a down payment impact the mortgage rate a buyer will be offered? Can you still price your house a 'little ahead' of the market and still be sure it will sell?

3. How do the first two affect your local market?

Basically, you want an understanding of the overall housing market and a simple and effective explanation of how it will impact your personal real estate goals.

Bottom Line

The best way to get all three is to work with a professional at Cora Bett Thomas Realty who understands this shifting real estate market and can expertly guide you on the journey to reach your housing goals. Let's get together to discuss what today's market means for you.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM 

October
11

… Should You Wait to Buy?

Should You Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased by close to a quarter of a percent over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to rise another quarter of a percent by next year.

In addition to the predictions from the four major reporting agencies mentioned above, the Federal Open Market Committeerecently voted "unanimously to approve a 1/4 percentage point increase in the primary credit rate to 2.75 percent." Historically, an increase in the primary credit rate has translated to an overall jump in mortgage interest rates as well.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM 

October
9

Fall Home Maintenance

Fall is here! Well, at least according to the calendar, fall is here. The weather in Savannah may not feel like summer's over, but now is the time to get to work on some colder-weather maintenance for your home. This way, you can have everything ready before the weather changes. Read on for our handy list of home maintenance to-dos for fall home maintenance.

Exterior Fixes

Regularly clean gutters and downspouts.

Fall is when gutters can fill up quickly and we still have a few weeks of hurricane season so keep them clean to protect your property. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.

Check for rotting wood.

Check for soft spots, which can indicate rotting wood. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around your windows, doors, railings and deck. Use caulk to fill the holes, or completely replace the wood if it is rotted.

Paint.

Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.

Roof.

Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it's time to consider replacing  the entire roof.

Garden

Split.

Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove your dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials.

Clean.

Clean your gardening tools before storing for the winter. Better still, make sure your storage area/shed is clean before storing your tools.

Trim.

Cut dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a late tropical storm or future winter storm. Wait until late winter to prune healthy trees and shrubs though.

Fertilize.

Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you're done, spread fertilizer then grass seed. It's also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

Interior

Pest prevention.

Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. If you have gable vents that lead into your attic, it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.

Check the important gadgets.

Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home and their importance can't be overstated. Check your furnace filters and check for drafts.

fall home maintenance

Clean out your fireplace and chimney.

A wood burning fireplace is a wonderful feature to have in your home. However, unless you are well versed in chimney construction, contact a reputable chimney sweep service to do a check before the cold weather sets in. Items such as bird or animal nests built during the summer, as well as excessive soot deposits from the previous winter, can easily obstruct flues and dampers, thereby increasing the chances of chimney fires. 

Take a few hours here and there for some basic fall home maintenance. It will help you spot developing problems, and, consequently, prevent costly repairs. For best results, use the tasks above as a guide; everyone's home is different and over time you will develop a fall home maintenance routine specific to your property.

August
9

Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values

Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values

Will home values continue to appreciate throughout 2018? The answer is simple: YES! – as long as there are more purchasers in the market than there are available homes for them to buy. This is known as the theory of "supply and demand," which is defined as:

"The amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price."

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. Every month this year, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year and for the first five months of 2018, supply (the number of available listings) had decreased as compared to last year. However, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed the first year-over-year increase in supply in three years.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year since the beginning of 2018:

Home Prices are Still Rising

The increase in the June numbers doesn't mean that prices won't continue to appreciate. In that same report, Lawrence Yun, NAR's Chief Economist, explained:

"It's important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what's needed to satisfy demand levels.

Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up."

Bottom Line

The reason home prices are still rising is that there are many purchasers looking to buy but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick.

From KCM

July
6

Be Prepared for Bidding Wars.

Bidding War

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

"Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach."

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

"A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets."

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

"Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country."

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

Contact us to discuss our exact market conditions so that we can help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere. We're here to help you get into your dream home. 

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

June
21

Protect Your Dog on Hot Pavement.

Dog on Hot Pavement

Summertime is nearly here in the Lowcountry. This means longer days full of sunshine, which is great if you're at the beach, but not so great if you're trekking across hot pavement. It's always fun to go shoe shopping for summer sandals, but don't forget about your four-legged friends' feet. Sure, shoes are available for dogs, but those can be uncomfortable (and hot!) in the summer. A cheaper and more comfortable option is a paw protection wax . 

Paw protection wax is an all-natural product that forms a barrier on dog's paws. Formulated with vitamin E to moisturize, help soothe wounds and keep paws healthy paw wax is nontoxic, hypoallergenic, and easy to apply. The wax is absorbed into the paws and forms a semipermeable shield, which allows perspiration to escape through the toes. In addition to snow, ice, and hot pavement, paw protection wax also protects from irritants such as sand, salt, and rough terrain. 

Paw protection waxes are made from food-grade waxes that are non-toxic and non-allergenic, so it's ok if your dog licks their paws after an application of the balm. You can even use it on yourself as a protective balm against windburn. 

One of our favorite paw protection waxes is Musher's Secret, a dense, but breathable wax originally developed in Canada for sled dog races and it's ideal for protecting your dog's paws from extreme temperatures — hot or cold. While any paw protection wax will need to be reapplied depending on your dog's activity, a little bit of the product goes a long way. Just a small amount on each paw is good for a week's worth of walking.

Make the most of the summer days in Savannah for you and your pooch, and keep their paws protected. 

Where to Find Paw Protection Wax

Locally, find paw protection wax at Woof Gang Bakery locations. But just call ahead to make sure paw protection wax is in stock at your nearest location because of its popularity. Find your nearest store here.

You can find Musher's Secret online at Amazon.

And don't forget to pick up a travel dog bowl to keep your pal hydrated too!

May
31

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin on June 1, 2018, and end on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the formation of tropical cyclones is possible at any time of the year, as shown by the formation of Subtropical Storm Alberto this spring. Alberto marked the fourth consecutive year a storm developed before the official start of the season.

2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Last year's season ended with 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin annually averages 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has stated that there is a 75% chance that the 2018 season will see near or more than the average number of storms in the basin. In addition to the NOAA prediction, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. The 2017 hurricane season was very active, in part, because of a weak La Niña that developed last year.

La Niña is a natural weather phenomenon defined by cooler than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region. Despite occurring in the Pacific, La Niña affects global weather patterns. One affect is decreased wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, which creates conditions more favorable for tropical storm development. 

The La Niña has since disappeared and according to NOAA some weather suggest that the opposite phenomenon of La Niña, El Niño could possibly develop later in the season. El Niño features warmer water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region, creating greater wind shear in the Atlantic and fewer tropical storms.

Even though there is appears to be a small chance we will see El Niño and subsequently have below average Hurricane Season, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. Historically, Savannah has been spared direct hits from hurricanes. As you can see from our map, the frequency of hurricanes directly impacting the 100 Mile Coast is very low. However, we did have to deal with Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 storm in 2016. There was an evacuation, and Savannah residents, politicians and emergency workers learned many lessons. But rather than just hoping that a hurricane doesn't make landfall on our fair coastline, go ahead and prepare yourself and your property for severe weather.

Home Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

What We Learned in 2016

May
21

Home maintenance reminders

Owning your own home is an investment as well as a big responsibility. By identifying and addressing a few routine and simple maintenance issues, you can ensure you and your family's safety, as well as save time and money on costly repairs.

AC Service and Filter

Make sure to change your AC filter regularly. Better still, spend a few extra bucks and spring for quality filters that are designed to filter allergens. If you are using a smart thermostat such as Nest, the system will give you reminders when you're due to change your filter. It's also important to make sure that you keep the grate around the filter clean and as free of dust and dirt as possible.

Dryer Duct 

By keeping your dryer duct clean, you not only reduce the risk of a lint fire, you can also reduce the risk of mold buildup. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that every year more than 2,900 home fires are started by clothes dryers, and the leading cause of these fires is a buildup of lint due to lack of simple maintenance on the part of the owner. 

Lint Trap

This seems like a no-brainer, right? And yet, people overlook this easy step, or either put it off for far too long, leaving dryers with lint traps that are full to the brim. An overfilled lint trap, like a clogged and dirty dryer duct, can be dangerous, not to mention a waste of energy. A lint trap that is too full prevents your dryer from working to its full capacity, which means your dryer is using more energy and costing you more money.

Wood-burning Fireplace

If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, it's a good idea to have both the fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. A professional will have the necessary tools for inspecting your flue and making sure that no debris or animals are in your chimney.

Pressure Washing

Regularly scheduled pressure washings will prevent grime and mildew from breaking down your home's exterior, causing you to worry less about having to replace rotted wood, chipped paint and premature aging of your home. It will also raise your home's curb appeal and can help addd value to your home.

These items are by no means a comprehensive list. But, by including these things in your maintenance routine, you can avoid possibly costly repair bills in the future and ensure a positive impact on your health, safety and wallet.

Thinking About Selling Your Home?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty if you are looking to get your home on the market this spring. 

May
11

Savannah has quite a lot to offer to both residents and our guests from out-of-town and Savannahians love to share their knowledge of what to do, see, eat, and of course, drink. Here's a list of some of our favorites. Consider this a starter course and be sure to find your own favorites!

Where to Stay

In Savannah, the possibilities are endless: there are dozens of B&Bs, such as The Gastonian, The Ballastone, The Kehoe House, and The Eliza Thompson House, as well as hotels such as The Brice, The Cotton Sail, and Andaz, not to mention any number of rentals available on Cora Bett Thomas Vacation Rentals. The most important thing to consider is location — we recommend staying in the Historic District — most everything on this favorites list will be in walking/biking/pedicab distance and you get to immerse yourself in history. 

Where Should I Get Breakfast?

The Mate' Factor, on Habersham Street, is quite amazing. When we last talked about this place, it was still fairly new. Now, it is a beloved neighborhood staple. It is still a cozy little den that can calm even the most agitated spirit, but now we've been able to enjoy the menu offerings even more. The egg and cheese sandwich is a thing of beautiful simplicity: 2 eggs, a healthy drape of cheese, and on a fresh made roll. Come the hotter months, an iced green drink is the beverage of choice, but in the cooler temps, an Old St. Joe will satisfy your coffee cravings.

Fork and Dagger is a no-frills place that is serving up some of the best breakfasts you've ever seen (hint — lox and cream cheese bagels featuring authentic NY bagels). A personal favorite of Cora Bett herself is Collins Quarter. A beautifully appointed and delicious Southern take on an Aussie style coffee bar and restaurant. Looking for a quick sugar high or a delicious biscuit? Check out Rise Biscuits and Donuts on Broughton Street.

The Coffee Fox

Great Cup of Coffee?

In Savannah, there is no shortage of good coffee right now. We're lucky enough to have a lot of folks with a passion for coffee, and we get to reap the benefits. For us, The Coffee Fox is near the office, so that's where we often go. They serve locally roasted Perc coffee, and they have a delicious horchata latte that is great to treat yourself. We're also pretty much now 100% devoted to the Coffee Fox and their Espresso Tonic.

On the weekends when taking long morning walks hit up either The Sentient Bean or Gallery Espresso — both have great coffee and have been serving up caffeine fixes and small bites for a while. We've also had coffee at Savannah Coffee Roasters and at The Foundry, and enjoy and recommend both of these places. Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of these businesses, but be aware: some of them have pretty simple coffee menus, so if you're looking for a Hazlenut Latte or a Toasted Almond Frappucino, these places might not be your cup of ... yeah. 

Brewery?

Two Tides Brewery is the new kid on the block, and we've heard nothing but great things about them, their beers, and their brewery. We've yet to visit, but since we are often entertaining beer-loving friends and family, all signs point to us visiting Two Tides. Stay tuned. As for Service Brewing and Southbound Brewing, well, they are still killing it. And of course, Savannah's old standard, Moon River. All of these places keep churning out more and more beers, and engaging the community with events. We can't say enough good things about our local breweries.

Art Scene?

In Savannah you can hardly take a step without bumping into great art, but if you're looking for a specific venue, the Telfair Museums is a well-known group of museums that includes the Jepson Center for the Arts and the Telfair Academy, and the SCAD museum is also a great place to visit. We recommend stopping in at Blick Art Materials on Broughton Street, and check out the works by Panhandle Slim. There's also the Art Rise First Friday Art March in Starland, which is on the first Friday of every month. It's a great way to check out local vendors and artists in one night. Also, check out the recent addition of Roots Up Gallery, located in the Downtown Design District, which showcases a number of local artists.  

Farmers' Market or Food Market?

The Forsyth Farmers' Market is great — it's one of the first farmer's markets to implement the use of EBT (or tokens) as a form of payment. Not only does the market serve great locally-grown food and flowers every Saturday from 9am-1pm, but the Market is also working to bring fresh produce to urban areas that are unable to access such goods regularly. Do yourself a favor and buy fresh, local food and at the same time support community outreach and education. Win win. The FFM is still rocking and rolling, with more and more vendors every month. Not only is the FFM a great way to support local farmers AND mingle with your neighbors, but they are also engaging in initiatives to bring healthy eating to lower-income families via urban gardening and fresh-food truck deliveries.

Barbecue?

We recommend Sandfly Bar-b-q at the Streamliner Diner. The building alone is worth a visit, but the food is worth sittin' a spell. While the regular menu is good in and of itself, hope that you show up on a night when the "Daily Special" is the "Pulled Pork Quesadilla with Ghost Pepper Cheddar." Enjoy with any of the craft beers listed (but ask for the draft specials first), and finish it up with whatever homemade dessert is perched serenely under the plastic dome of the cake stand at the bar. You also cannot go wrong with Wall's B-BQ, tucked a away in a lane in the Historic District. The crew over at Wall's serves up  delicious Southern smoked meats, but leave room for the variety of amazing scratch-made sides.

Savannah Locals Guide

Hottest new dinner spot?

There are a number of new places opening their doors and receiving a lot of attention, such as Savannah's iteration of the Charleston favorite, Husk. But if you want to find the locals, Atlantic is the place. This place is so good. Perched on the corner of Drayton and Victory (which makes it a challenging drop off for Uber drivers, so be prepared to give them some coaching), this neighborhood eatery/imbibery is a local favorite. The lot formerly housed a gas station, so the dining room is small, but there is outdoor seating available. Atlantic does not take reservations, but again, the patio makes it worth the wait. Small plates ideal for sharing and reasonably priced, as well as a well-curated wine list, is what makes this place truly Savannahian, as it is ideal for any and every occasion. We also highly recommend El Coyote, which is just down the street from Atlantic. This Mexican-based restaurant is long on style and substance. You can taste the difference in the food and cocktails, but your wallet won't feel the sting.

Best cocktail bar?

Alleycat Lounge. No question about it. This place is always packed by locals and tourists who have been let in on the secret. This lounge has a menu that can take an entire night to read, but if you leave unsatisfied in your drink order, then it is your fault. These guys know their business, and their business is cocktail-making. Strike up a conversation with anyone on the Alleycat crew and they will help you choose the perfect cocktail if need be. 

Live music?

The live music scene in Savannah just continues to blossom. This year, the Savannah Music Festival held its first outdoor, all-day, multiple-band finale, and it was amazing. If you miss that, you can still catch classic acts such as the funky Voodoo Soup and our homegrown outlaw country band, Damon and the Shitkickers. You can hear Damon and the guys just about every Saturday happy hour at the Jinx. El Rocko Lounge and the Worm Hole feature a constantly rotating lineup of new musical acts. 

Where to Stay Out Late?

It's pretty easy to get a little inebriated in Savannah — that's the price you pay for allowing people to leave bars with to-go cups. But as far as specific places go, The Rail Pub, recently named the country's best dive bar, is a wonderful place to stop in for happy hour or a no frills beer and a shot experience. Or if you're really thirsty, you can grab a 40-ounce Miller Light for $5 (just remember that you should tip at least a buck or 2, so handing over a $5 bill isn't advisable). McDonough's is where people often end up at the end of the night, whether they intend to or not. This dive is actually pretty large and well-lit, but trust me — it's a dive, and all kinds of trouble can be found here. Including karaoke seven nights week as well as one of the few late night kitchens. 

Late-night eats spot?

Our new favorite is The Diplomat Luncheonette. Don't let the name fool you — they are open for lunch (and they deliver!), but this place also reopens at night (usually around 10pm or so). The sandwich shop is located beside local favorite, The Original Pinkie Masters, and serves up delicious gigantic sandwiches on fresh homemade bread, accompanied by some of the most magnificent sides (I'm looking at YOU, charred broccoli with feta). 

Beach day?

Tybee Island, of course. South Beach is great to avoid crowds, but there will usually be just enough folks around to take up the few parking spots at that end. North Beach has more parking, plus you can walk up to the bar at North Beach Grill and get a drink. The most important thing is to not set up right by the pier and pavilion if you are looking for a little more of "chill" day at the beach. Instead, set up at either end of the island and then walk around. Fannie's on the Beach has a deck that overlooks the beach and pier, so if you have an aversion to sand, grab a drink and a chair and watch the waves from there. After the beach, stop at Huc-A-Poo's before leaving the island for a slice of pizza. The "Poo" is a great local hangout and they have been doing it right for years. 

Most underrated spots in the city?

The Frali Gourmet, which is located on Liberty Street across from the Savannah Civic Center. The family run operation has been selling fresh pasta and sauces for years, but they also have a full dining menu, and it is amazing. The family has a connection to one of Savannah's most famous but closed Italian restaurants of the past as well. The menu features a variety of fresh pastas, your choice of homemade sauces, and you can add proteins to your liking. Call ahead for larger parties and the crew will gladly make arrangements. 

In Vino Veritas is a wine bar that we have mentioned before, and most people visit for the wines on tap. But locals stick around for the shareable drink specials, such as ½ off bottles and BOGO bottles late night. The wine bar currently offers small cheese and charcuterie plates, but rumor has it that a partnership with another local favorite is in the works for some killer brunch and daytime food. Stay tuned.

Daytrip?

Bluffton, South Carolina. It's only a 30 minute drive, and it's a scenic one — lots of palmettos and oak trees and of course the drive over the Talmadge Bridge. Bluffton has its share of shops and eateries, and it's an easy jaunt. Plus, you get to travel to another state and back in less than a day. One of our favorite restaurants in the area for breakfast and true Southern fare is Cahill's, which is right outside of Old Town Bluffton. This restaurant-slash-market has been around forever and serves up some of the most delicious breakfast food. It is hands down the BEST chicken and waffles we've ever had, especially the spicy chicken version. The larger than average fresh squeezed orange juice mimosas don't hurt, either.

May
4

May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home. This makes May the best month to sell your home.

For the study, ATTOM performed an "analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017" and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month:

May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

ATTOM even went a step further and broke their results down by day.

Top 5 Days to Sell:

  • June 28th – 9.1% above market
  • February 15th – 9.0% above market
  • May 31st – 8.3% above market
  • May 29th – 8.2% above market
  • June 21st – 8.1% above market

It should come as no surprise that May and June dominate as the top months to sell and that 4 of the top 5 days to sell fall in those two months. The second quarter of the year (April, May, June) is referred to as the Spring Buyers Season, when competition is fierce to find a dream home, which often leads to bidding wars.

One caveat to mention though, is that when broken down by metroATTOM noticed that while warmer climates share in the overall trend, it turns out that they have different top months for sales. The best month to get the highest price in Miami, FL, for instance, was January, and Phoenix, AZ came in with November leading the charge.

If you're thinking of selling your home this year, the time to list is NOW! According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in an average of just 30 days last month! If you list now, you'll have a really good chance to sell in May or June, setting yourself up for getting the best price!

Bottom Line

Contact Us Today! Let's get together to discuss the market conditions in our area and get you the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy! 

From KCM

April
22

In the majority in the US, buying a home is more affordable than renting.

buying a home

The results of the 2018 Rental Affordability Report from ATTOM show that buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 54% of U.S. counties analyzed for the report.

The updated numbers show that renting a three-bedroom property in the United States requires an average of 38.8% of income.

The least affordable market for renting was Marin County, CA, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, where renters spend a staggering 79.5% of average wages on rent, while the most affordable market was Madison County, AL where 22.3% of average wages went to rent.

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Average rent rose faster than income in 60% of counties
  • Average rent rose faster than median home prices in 41% of counties
  • While median home prices rose faster than average rents in 58% of counties

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let's get together to find your dream home.

March
5

housing

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon "spring forward!" Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn't happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with the recent increase in rates, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Many more buyers are jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2017 all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2018, let's get together to evaluate the opportunities in our market.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

January
23

Home Buyers

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream homes or if they should first try to go through the buying process on their own. In today's market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide If You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with landmines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your "dream home."

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in order to secure your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today's market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating his or her commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family's head; the salary that puts food on their family's table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

January
12

What Did You Discover During the Snowpocalypse?

Winterizing Your Home | Cora Bett Southern Realty News

Savannah doesn't always experience winters that are as harsh as other parts of the country. Every winter in Savannah there will be a few days when you discover an extra draft or two around the house. But as this season has already shown us, it's always good to have strong plan to winterize your home. A draft or two during a typical cold snap is pretty tolerable, but a few days and nights well below freezing can make a older Southern home more uncomfortable. Here are a few tips for making sure your home is ready for whatever the rest of this winter throws at you.

4 Easy Post Storm Winterizing Your Home Tips

Winterizing Your Home | Cora Bett Southern Realty News

Run Fans in Reverse

Many homes in Savannah have ceiling fans, which are absolutely necessary in the sultry summer weather. But many people don't realize that running fans clockwise will change the distribution of the air in your house produce a warming effect. Most ceiling fans come with a handy little switch that will reverse the direction of the fan blades from counterclockwise (cooling by driving air down) to clockwise (warming by drawing air up).  Just don't forget to switch them back!

Reduce Drafts

Drafts can waste anywhere from 5%-30% of your home energy use. This is a problem that can be easily remedied with a draft snake. Make one of your own by using a rolled bath towel, or get creative with scraps of cloth and fillings such as sand or kitty litter for added heft.

Mind Your Thermostat

It's easy to forget to turn down the heat when you're leaving your house, but doing so is one of the easiest ways to save money. Most houses shell out 50%-70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling. For every degree that you lower your thermostat during the winter, you will save between 1% and 3% on your heating bill. Better still, invest in a programmable thermostat such as a Nest.

Put Up Some Plastic

Like the draft snake, this is an easy and inexpensive and temporary method for winterizing your home. Pick up a window insulation kit at your local discount or hardware store. If properly installed, the plastic will be virtually invisible. A little patience, the kit and a hair dryer and you will have less drafty and more efficient home. Speaking from experience, you will notice a difference in the amount of heat that your home retains from insulating your windows with one of these easy-to-use kits. 

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