Tips to keep your energy bills down this winter

*This article first appeared in the July 2019 Midland Express.

Living in Central Victoria, compared to metropolitan areas it is a few degrees cooler in temperature during the winter months. This can take some adjustment for residents– both physically and financially.

So other than sitting on the heater sipping hot drinks with multiple woolly jumpers on, there are a number of things you can do without scarifying comfort or spiking your energy bill.

Curtains and Blinds

Decorate your windows in your home with good quality curtains and blinds. Using curtains that are lined helps keep the heat in and the cold out by reducing the heat loss through your windows.

Save on appliance use, particularly the clothes dryer

One of the most expensive appliances to run in your house is a clothes dryer. Place an indoor clothes-drying rack in a room that you are heating (such as a living room). The heater is then warming you as well as drying your clothes. To avoid fire risk, never place clothes too close to any heater.

Harness natural heat

Taking simple measures to harness existing free sources of heating in your home by using the heat of the sun to warm up your house. During the day open up all your south and west facing curtains to allow the sun’s rays to stream in the windows and heat up your home. As soon as the sun begins to set, conserve the heat by closing all your curtains and blinds to insulate against heat loss.

Consider an energy audit

Engaging an experienced electrician to conduct an audit will help you measure how much energy each appliance is using, identify which appliances are wasting power due to age or maintenance issues and what you can do to make the move to a more energy efficient home.

Asking for monthly energy bills from your retailer is a great way to measure the impacts of any changes you make. Whatever you choose to do, preparing your house year-round can support the reduction of energy bills.

A Fence is not just a fence

Recently, I listed a gorgeous Victorian home in Kyneton. It is the kind of house that would generally sell very quickly in the current market but this one took a bit longer.

Why? Because the house was hidden behind a green colourbond that did not suit the home and its character appeal.

The owner soon replaced it with a white picket fence which immediately lifted the street appeal to potential buyers. The house was soon sold with a happy vendor and new owner in possession of a true Kyneton home of distinction.

Replacing or repairing boundary fences is often a simple thing to do to lift the charm of a home, support swifter selling and approving the overall amenity. If you want to replace your fence and you share a boundary, as many people do, you should reach out to your neighbour and discuss your intentions. Whether it is a replacement or a repair, generally your neighbours will need to agree to share the cost.

A good place to start is familiarising yourself with the Victorian Fences Act. The Fences Act contains rules about who pays for a dividing fence, the type of fence to be built, notices that neighbours need to give one another and how to resolve disputes that come up when discussing fencing works with your neighbour.

Secondly you should familiarise yourself with the Macedon Ranges Shire Council fence height restrictions and covenants. It is important to do this as if your fence is in breach of restrictions, you may need to remove it altogether or modify it until it complies.

In rare cases, where neighbours don’t wish to proceed with a new fence and refuse to pay, mediation may need to occur to bring the parties together in order to resolve the matters.

Whether it’s for privacy, keeping pets and kids inside or as a decorative feature, fencing adds safety, security and style to your home. Making sure you have happy neighbours or thinking long term about sales opportunities is something you might want to consider along the way.

Seasonal Maintenance – Autumn Selling

Seasonal maintenance might not be on the top of your list most weekends but if you are considering selling in the coming months, there are a few small things you can do now to maximize on your investment and capitalize on profits.

  • Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests. If you have fireplace or wood stove, get your chimney cleaned and serviced. If you plan on selling during the cooler months, having optimal heating will increase the possibilities of a sale.
  • Ensure windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace the weather stripping as needed. Drafty houses are harder to keep warm which not only mean higher electricity prices but an undesirable environment for prospective buyers.
  • Clean leaves and debris from guttering and the roof, and test spouting to ensure proper drainage. Overflow and puddles is not a great sign for people seeking a warm, dry home. Also, spending a little time cleaning out guttering can help you avoid autumn water issues.
  • If you are on septic and not town sewerage, make sure that it is checked and if required, emptied. The smell from some septic tanks can be off-putting to those considering living in your home.
  •  Winterise your landscaping. Protect your outdoor furniture by putting it into storage, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter so that they survive the colder months. Also, the leaf litter from your gutters makes a great garden mulch.
  •  Check for cracks. Has your house shifted in the dryer summer months? Some houses in the Macedon Ranges develop plaster cracks as the house adjusts to the lower water supply. Patch, repair and paint to ensure that the house is fresh ready for you to put the house on the market.

In all cases of selling your home, it is important to plan ahead. Think ahead and imagine what the experience will be like for buyers when they come to buy in the cooler months.

 

 

 

Setting the scene through staging

 

When it comes to selling your home, you want to take the time to make it absolutely irresistible to buyers.

Why? Because this will help you price your home in a way to realistically achieve maximum profit.

One of the primary steps for any seller in achieving the maximum profit goal is to stage your home for sale.

Home staging is where a property for sale in the real estate marketplace is set and styled. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thus selling a property more swiftly and for more money.

Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive space that anyone might want. People usually use arts, painting, accessories, lights, greenery, and carpet to stage the home, to give potential buyers a more attractive first impression of the property.

Basic Tips

  • Engaging a stylist might seem like an outlay at first but they have access to interior decor and finishes that can be used for the sale period and returned after the sale. Don’t view it as an expense rather an investment that will support a return on the overall sale price.

 

  • Consider staging as part of your marketing campaign is an intelligent strategy that will set you ahead of the pack. While photography is an integral part of the marketing package, if your home itself doesn’t look appealing, you are potentially closing yourself off to a captive audience.

 

  • Staging and styling isn’t about your personal taste and style, it is about your potential buyer and how they would see themselves in the property. While you might think a shabby chic style is the right way to go, a stylist or a trusted real estate agent know the market more broadly and might suggest a completely different direction. Don’t take this personally – it is advice that can help make the difference between a swift and profitable sale.

 

Where to start

Your real estate agents has your best interests in mind if your house is properly styled. It could make it easier for them to sell your home or help them get a better price for it. So ask your agents for recommendations. Also look online. There are many different companies operating across Australia. And visit other homes in your neighbourhood that are open for inspection to see what your competitors are doing and who they are using.

 

A swift spring sale and how to get it.

So you want a quick sale post winter but have not done anything to prepare for it?

 

Here are few things you can do within a month to get your property sold.

 

Week 1: Find a Great Agent.

Your choice of real estate agent can make tens of thousands dollars difference to your sale. When you’re trying to sell your home quickly, it’s important to consider these questions when finding the right agent:

  • Do they have strong local networks?
  • Do they have a strong buyer network?
  • Have they got a positive sales record?
  • Are they organised, remember appointments and follow up?
  • Are they an strong communicator?
  • Do they respond to your questions quickly and confidently?

Chat to some agents to gauge a response to these questions. You will gather a good sense of their authenticity and willingness to provide a great service very quickly.

 

Week 2: Do a faux “renovation.

Little tweaks and maintenance jobs can make a big difference in the overall feel of a home. Is the kitchen a little outdated? Replacing the fixtures, tap fittings and hinges can refresh a space in an instant. Is the family room furniture beaten up? Throw some slipcovers over it.

Whatever you choose, make sure that each room has a purpose.  That spare room you’ve been using as an office / guest room /dumping ground won’t help sell your home unless you show buyers how they can use it themselves. So pick a use (office, guest room, crafts room) and clearly stage the space to showcase that purpose.

 

Week 3: Hit the garden – hard!

 Post winter, your garden will no doubt look a little sad. It is time for you to freshen up the outside of your home as this will make a huge difference to your sale.

Mow the lawns, weed the garden and cut back any overgrown plants. Plant some mature plants in areas that need sprucing and ensure that any damage caused by pets is repaired.

 

Week 4: Prepare yourself for inspections

You’ll need to be very organised for your inspections. A good agent will help you choose the best time of day to host them, and provide guidance on staging your home to make a good first impression.

Consider these ideas for your inspection day:

  • Open up the house and let the fresh air in
  • Clean your house from top to bottom.
  • Clear all bench tops, removing any items that aren’t in use
  • Give every room a purpose – even odd shaped nooks
  • Place fresh flowers on the kitchen bench and coffee table
  • Put anything not in use that clogs the space in storage

While there is no guarantee on selling a house within a period, it is entirely possible to sell in a short period if you are organised and ready to work hard within that timeframe.

 

To kick start your sale, contact me and we can get your home ready for market.