Archive for February, 2011

9 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor

When your heating and/or cooling system breaks down, it can be an overwhelming experience to find a contractor if you don’t have someone you already trust. You need to find someone quickly but don’t want to make the wrong choice.

As a Real Estate Agent specializing in Residential Homes and Condominiums, I have access to tips and information that can help you find a contractor you are comfortable with. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, be prepared by following these tips from EnergyStar.gov:

Study up – Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also, make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

Ask for referrals – Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.

Call references – Ask contractors for customer references and call them. Ask about the contractor’s installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.

Find special offers – A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

Look for ENERGY STAR – ENERGY STAR-qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

Expect a home evaluation – The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers’ specifications.

Get written, itemized estimates – When comparing contractors’ proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A low price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

Get it in ink – Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It’ll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

Pass it on – Tell friends and family about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

Following these tips should make your experience a little less stressful. For more tips and information on this topic and others, please contact me, at [email protected], and please forward these helpful tips to others who may be interested.

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You May be Paying too Much in Property Taxes!

If you purchased a home in 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007, you may be paying too much in property taxes.In 2010, the Orange County Assessor reviewed the value of 317,000 properties in the County, including single-family homes, condos townhouses, and commercial/industrial properties. Approximately 190,000 properties received a Taxable Value reduction for the 2010/11 tax year.

Property is valued each year as of January 1 for property tax purposes. The Market Value is compared to the Prop.13 Value. The lower value is the Taxable Value for that tax year.

Prop. 13 value is the market value of the property when you acquired it, plus a Consumer Price Index adjustment of up to 2% per year.

By law, the Assessor values property each year as of January 1.

The Assessor compares the Prop. 13 taxable value to the market value. The lower value is used for the property tax calculations each tax year.Property owners will receive a Property Value Notice from the Assessor in July. This notice provides the taxable value that will be used to calculate the property tax bill.

Prop. 8 allows for a temporary tax reduction in assessed value when the property suffers a “decline in value”. As a Homeowner, you do not automatically receive a “decline in value”assessment. You will however receive the automatic Prop. 13 increase.

We can assist you in submitting a request to the Assessors office for an informal review. Filing period is January 1 to April 30, 2011.

Please contact us for the supporting documentation, There absolutely is no charge for this service.

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