Greg Hanner's Blog

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Posted by Greg Hanner on June 25th, 2014 8:57 AMLeave a Comment

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As we 
enter the winter months, many current or potential home Sellers ponder whether they should take their home listings off the market for the holidays or avoid listing their home then in favor of bringing their homes back to market in the Spring time.  The correct answer really depends on the Seller’s individual situation.  If you as a Seller simply don’t want to move during the winter, then by all means, take your home off the market. 

Frankly, keeping a listing on the market through the holidays has many advantages that are easily overlooked.  Those who already have their home on the market and who have done their homework by getting their home properly staged with decluttering and making it as presentable as possible.  Those Sellers already have their heavy lifting done. No one knows what the future will bring. 

Who knows if the market will be much different in the spring? There are three possibilities: Better, the same, or worse. If it's worse, then you definitely want to try selling now. If it's the same, you might as well try selling now. If next spring is better, then try selling now and if it doesn't sell, then you'll encounter a better market and more chances to sell in the spring. 

If your home has been on the market for a while and has not sold, the holiday and winter season isn’t going to make the prospects of selling worse.  Holidays don’t make homes less appealing to Buyers – often they are MORE appealing since they give the sense of home and warmth being decorated and ready for your holiday celebrations with friends and family.  Your lack of success as a Seller may be pricing not being realistic.  What a home Seller needs to realize is lack of showings is often a reflection of a property being overpriced.  If your home has been listed for a while and you have had a lack of showings, ask your listing agent if other similar properties have sold in your area and at what price.

Some Sellers fear “days on market” and think that they can stack the cards in their favor and fetching a higher price by re-listing in the spring time.  Listings don’t get stale, only bread does.  Don’t kid yourself, any good Buyer’s agent will look at the property history for any home that their Buyers like and they will see your listing history and exactly what your prior listing prices were and when your listing was active or removed.  Buyers don’t buy a home because of low “days on market” count or price history; they buy because a property has availability and appeal to them at the then current asking price that’s affordable to them at the point in time they make an offer to you as a Seller.

If your home is already on the market and you as a Seller have a lot going on with children’s activities, shopping, parties and holiday guests, you may be feeling that removing the added pressure of having your home available in “show time condition” might just push you over the edge.  The emotions and pressure can become overwhelming, that’s a normal thought that enters many Seller’s minds.  Some Sellers have the added pressures of out-of-town guests coming and staying in their homes during the holidays and that adds weight to the scale in favor of pulling the home off the market.  These two thoughts are the primary reasons for taking a home off the market during the holidays and the winter.  It is understandable why you would be tempted to take your home off the market during the holidays and the list of justifications is long.

Before you extrapolate that thought and potential feeling of being overwhelmed to taking the step of removing your home from the market for the holidays, you might want to consider the following advantages that keeping the home on the market might bring to you.  Here are key reasons to that you might want to keep your home listed or to bring your home to market during the holidays and winter months:

  • The obvious but important first advantage (of listing during holidays and winter) is the reality that not doing so is actually a disadvantage. I found this best stated by Top-selling Realtor Jennie Ling.  She says taking your home off the market during the Christmas season is a mistake. As vice president of Virginia Cook REALTORS® in Texas and the number one sales person in her company for almost every one of her more than 35 years in the real estate business, Ling exclaims, "The house sure isn't going to sell off the market! What is the advantage of that? So you're busy. Let your Realtor do the work. You can leave in the morning, go to work, go shopping, and let your Realtor take care of things."

  • Although Buyer activity may appear to slow down, the Buyers who are actively looking during the holidays are that much more serious. The home market is no more affected at Christmas than during other "busy" period. If that were so, the market would shut down throughout the year as families concentrate on spring weddings, June graduations, summer vacations, and autumn back-to-school activities.

  • Only the truly motivated home buyers and sellers are the ones who will be out there over the holiday season. While many Sellers close their doors just before Thanksgiving and don’t open them again until mid January, the folks that are willing to give of their time and perform the due diligence required during this period are really serious about buying or selling.

  • It’s good for you as a Seller if you keep or put your home on the market since there is less competition

  • Buyers have more time to look at homes during holidays, especially during vacations.

  • One thing that you and your agent should try to do is get the best photos of your home.  If you have none before the leaves have fallen, then taking photos of the current conditions is appropriate.  Try to get photos of the outside of your home before the snow falls.  If your home is still available in the spring, you and your agent should up definitely update your photos when the foliage blooms.  I have to laugh when I see a home listing photo with snow covered yard in the spring or summer months.

How do you feel about listing your home during the holidays or winter months?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on November 9th, 2013 11:18 AMLeave a Comment

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That's a question that homeowners and prospective owners both have asked themselves and others many times before.  Buyers tend to have different shopping profiles and knowing what kind of a Buyer you are will help you identify what your weaknesses are and what you might want to do differently so that you can have less stress and a more positive buying experience.

The obvious elephant in the room is rising mortgage interest rates.
 Yes, they have risen a lot over the last 6 months.  Get over that if you missed the lows.  The important thing is that they are still at very cheap rates when one looks at them in terms of the past 30-50 years.  Why you didn't buy 6 months ago when the mortgage rates were cheapest is water over the dam and one needs to focus on what can be done going forward.

Now is a time that you might want to refocus your efforts to buy since the mortgage landscape is about to change for many buyers when 2014 arrives.  Getting a mortgage will be trickier and costlier next year.  This article is a great resource that outlines the changes coming for mortgages starting next year.

If you've been going at your home search on your own without the aid of a professional Buyer's agent who's looking out for your interests, then you've overlooked a resources that (in most cases) has no out-of-pocket costs to you as the Buyer.  It's normal for you as a Buyer to do research on your own and to browse all of the popular home search sites like, Zillow and Trulia - those are great places to start.  Here's info on why you might want to seek the services of a Buyer's agent who is also a REALTOR (not all licensed agents are REALTORS).

Do you find fault with every home you see?  If that's you, it might be time to step back and either adjust your search criteria or even take a break and return to the rental market while your head clears.  It's not uncommon to find that what you can afford and what you desire are two different things.  If what you can afford isn't desirable at this point in time, there's nothing wrong with going to the sidelines and renting until your purchasing power increases or until something new comes to market that you find appealing.  Key here is to forge a relationship with a Buyer's agent you respect and trust and then ask them to keep notifying you of new listings for properties that match your needs.  I've found that in some cases, it may take over a year to find the right property.  I've recently found the perfect home for a client that I've worked with for TWO years so I encourage you to not give up on finding a great home.

Have you missed out on homes you made offers on only to learn that other Buyer's offers were accepted instead of yours?  If your offers are consistently low and below others, you might not realize that in New London and Windham Counties in Southeastern CT, 2nd Quarter of 2013, the average selling to listing price between real warm blooded Buyers and Sellers doing 891 closed single family home deals was done by them agreeing on a sales price that was 94.84% of the listing price.  If your offers are way below that average, perhaps that's a reason why your offers are not being accepted.  Price discovery is something that both Buyers and Sellers go through.  The point here is that home ownership is all about enjoying a home and not chasing the deals that just won't happen.

Hope this info helps.  Questions welcomed.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on September 11th, 2013 4:45 PMLeave a Comment

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As a new home builder, I've been confronted with client's questions of what heating fuel is better a number of times over the years.  The answer is not as easy as one might think.  There are a number of factors that impact fuel choice.  

If the home is an existing home, then what's the age and condition of the existing boiler or furnace?  If the existing equipment is newer and in great shape, replacing that equipment long before it has reached it's service life can be a waste of money.  

Keep in mind that fuel choice is not what drives heating costs as much as reducing heat loss in the home.  Infiltration can be minimized by doing an energy audit and air sealing plumbing & mechanical penetrations in the framing, adding insulation to attic and basement ceiling (yes, heat loss down to a basement is wasteful).  Window and door performance is obviously a big component in the performance of the thermal envelop.  Sealing any duct leakage in HVAC ductwork that's in unconditioned space.  These are all things that should be looked at BEFORE making a fuel source change in an existing home.

Does the question pertain to an older existing home or a new home being built?  Starting from scratch, IMHO going with high efficiency propane or natural gas is a no brainer given that fuel source is within the US borders.  The new high efficiency LP propane gas or natural gas equipment is normally sealed combustion type setups where outside air is taken into the furnace or boiler and then the exhaust is sent back out via a PVC vent through the sidewall of the home.  There's really no standby heat lost since there's no vent connected to a chimney.  Additional savings are realized via the sealed combustion process since makeup air is not taken from the basement area or inside the home and that means replacement air does not have to be heated.

Let's now drill down on each fuel's BTU content (measure of heat output per unit of fuel).  Oil is top dog in terms of BTU's per unit of fuel.  However, oil equipment efficiencies are lower than gas since oil is a "dirty" burning fuel.  One has to then consider what are the BTU's delivered differences after fuel burned in order to really get a handle on which fuel is better.

The following worksheet compares Oil to Propane (includes 3 different propane equipment efficiencies):

I know some of you might be thinking "he's way off" on the propane pricing above since you are used to paying costs for propane when you are renting a tank or low consumption user.  If you use propane to make heat & hot water, most folks find that owning your own tank is the way to go since you can get the cost for fuel reduced substantially.  Many suppliers us a margin over cost for refills and if you don't like your current supplier, you are free to change to another supplier.

Bottom line, High efficiency gas obviously beats oil at today's current costs.  There's an added bonus in that the burner in a gas fired boiler does not need annual cleanings like oil fired equipment needs.  You still have to clean furnace air filters and humidifiers, but that's often a homeowner do-it-yourself maintenance item that's not that difficult.

If propane or natural gas is used for heating and domestic hot water, then using it for cooking and perhaps an energy efficient gas fireplace or garage heating is a natural extension of the fuel's capability.  Direct vent sealed combustion gas fireplaces are much more energy efficient than a traditional wood burning fireplace (think heat loss via need for replacement makeup air).  Many of my clients used their gas fireplaces for warming their homes during recent power outages due to 2 hurricanes and 1 blizzard in the past two years.

Hope this info helps.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on August 16th, 2013 1:19 PMLeave a Comment

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Being involved with custom home building provides me with a unique opportunity to interact with clients when I orient them to the systems in their new homes before they move-in.  There are many items that need recurring maintenance and I often wonder how others remember when to attend to their home's needs.  

That thought then migrates to what would my own family do if something were to happen to me?  How would they know what to do?  We should each have a written list of items that need regular maintenance.  It can serve as a checklist and taking care of things on a preventative schedule is much less stressful and better than waiting until when a system goes down or an emergency service call is required.

The task of homeowner maintenance is something that should be broken down and reminders noted on one's calender just like friends and relative's birthdays.  Having calender reminders set will help out immensely.  

Here are a few items that are critical maintenance items that are easy to overlook without reminders.

Exterior Maintenance:
  1. Clean Gutters - Spring & Fall.
  2. Lime Lawn - Early Spring and late Fall.  
  3. Clean Siding - Remove mildew, mold or dust from siding and trim
  4. Lawn and Garden - Establish a fertilization schedule which includes pest and weed control.  Pick up sticks and leaves ASAP.  Mower heights should be raised in summer.  Water lawns in early morning instead of late in the day or at night since doing so minimized fungal diseases in lawns.
  5. Pool - Opening/Operating/Closing checklists are easy to make and will make your pool a feature that's enjoyable and healthy for your family/friends.
  6. Driveway - Patch and repair cracks as they appear and seal your paved driveway every 2-3 years as needed.  Sealing annually isn't needed.  Wear of the surface of the sealer is the indicator that tells you when sealing is needed.
Interior Maintenance:
  1. Fuel Level Checks - If you are on "will call" and not automatic delivery for home heating oil or Propane gas, setting calender reminders to check for fuel levels before you run out of fuel is a must to avoid having the unnecessary expense of a service call for emergency delivery or oil burner service after running out of fuel.
  2. HVAC system service - Oil burners need to be serviced once per year (filters are changed, burner nozzels are changed, burner efficiency is checked, and combustion chamber and smoke pipes are cleaned).  A/C pressure levels are checked and condensate drain lines are checked for proper operation and confirmation that they are clear.
  3. Furnaces - Air filters and humidifiers need to be regularly changed.  Changing from heat mode to A/C mode in the Spring often is the trigger for shutting off your humidifier and turning a damper at the humidifier to closed position on the humidifier.  The opposite occurs in the Fall when you are done with your air conditioning and resuming heating your home.
  4. Well - Change your sediment filter as needed.  Pressure drop is a tell tail sign that your well sediment filter needs to be changed.  Water treatment systems often need to be check to be sure that softener salt levels are correct (let them run down to minimum level before refilling).  Acid neutralizing media often needs to be replaced once per year.  If you have a water treatment system that has an acid neutralizer, not having calcium media present has potential to cause serious damage to your home's water piping due to the aggressive nature that low PH water has.
  5. Central Vac - Most of the units are located out of view in your basement or garage and it's easy to forget to empty your central vac.  One should empty their central vac unit a minimum of twice per year and don't forget to clean (with compressed air or physically - not with water) any air filter media that might be present up high just below the motor portion of the unit.  If you use a regular vacuum, then knowing when to change or empty the unit should be obvious when performance is lacking or when you can see visually in units that have clear canisters for debris to be collected in.  
  6. Dryer vent line - I try to use my vacuum's narrow attachment and vacuum out excess lint that might be visible where my lint filter is. 
  7. Refrigerator - There is a fan that moves air across your refrigerator coils and that's how it cools (transfers heat from inside) your refrigerator/freezer into your Kitchen.  Using a special narrow attachment for your vacuum, you can decrease your energy bill by increasing your refrigerator's efficiency by simply making sure the refrigerator coils are clear of dust.  Many of today's refrigerators have grills that are removable at the bottom and you'll see the accumulation of dust under modern units that's easily removable.  Don't forget that many newer refrigerators have water filters that should be replaced a minimum of annually.
  8. Tub/Shower and Sink drains - I'm not a fan of using chemicals to clean clogs.  Hair is the #1 cause of clogs and one can easily take apart drain traps at sinks (sink drain tail pipe pop-up mechanisms catch a lot of hair there) and clear them so sinks drain quickly.  HERE is a good article with tips on clearing bathroom sink drains.  Tub/shower drains should flow quickly and if they don't, taking a part the drain overflow will allow one to get the drain mechanism out of the way so hair balls can be removed with a simple coat hanger (yes, it's a nasty job, but easily done).  HERE is a good video on the topic from a master plumber.  Trust me, those who use the tub/shower will appreciate not standing in soapy water after you clear the drain and the tub/shower basin stays cleaner.
  9. Smoke Detectors - Smoke detector batteries need to be replaced once per year.  The service life of Smoke and CO detectors is said to be 10 years.  Keep your family safe by remembering to service your smoke and CO detectors.
Hope this info helps and I'll add on to this list in the future as new ideas come to mind.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on April 22nd, 2013 9:41 AMLeave a Comment

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