Category Archives: Homeowners

Short-term Rentals Can Be Lucrative, But Do Your Homework

Did you know that currently there are more than 1,000 possible short term rentals in the Washington area. Facilitated by the Airbnb Web site, VRBO and the like, out of towners can rent a private room, a shared room and even an entire apartment or house.

While this cozy alternative to the traditional hotels and motels is inviting, there are many critics and possible downsides to renting your home for short-terms. Condominium unit owners should check their association’s legal documents as most allow only 6 month or one year rentals and some don’t allow any rentals. Ignoring this advice could cost you thousands of dollars, just as it did Kyle Piers in Boston, whom rented his unit for $200-$300 a night and was fined $9,700 for breaking his association’s laws.

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Short-term rentals can be more lucrative than long-term rentals, thus depleting the housing stock for long-term rentals. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, parent agency of the low-cost FHA-insured mortgages, may remove approval status and eligibility if they find that short-term rentals are in a community. Boards should be clear about what they will and won’t allow, with feedback from the communities homeowners.

For homeowners that are thinking of allowing short-term rentals in their home, make sure to do your due diligence. First make sure you use a service that has a detailed vetting process that verifies the identity of your potential guests with forms of ID matching them to social media or other forms of verification. Contact your insurance company to make sure you are fully insured or use the insurance through the booking service you go with. It is best to personally contact potential guests and go with your gut, if you have any hesitation, don’t rent to them. Taking a security deposit is highly advised. Keep your valuables, important documents, and official forms of identification in a safe place, preferably not in the home you are renting.

If you would like more information about short-term rentals or anything real estate related, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am ready and available to help you and yours with anything I can and nothing is too big or too small, if I can’t help directly I will work to connect you with other competent and knowledgeable people who can. If you have stories, information, and/or thoughts about short-term rentals please add them for the benefit of all.

Eco and Financially Friendly Home Adaptions, an Oxymoron No More

We care about the planet, but many can’t afford the large price tag of solar panels, geothermal heating, temperature regulating walls, triple pane windows, etc. Fret no more, there are many ways to reduce your homes environmental footprint without breaking the bank. We all know the standard ones: buy energy efficient appliances, try to set the thermostats at good levels, having house plants, energy efficient windows, turning off faucets and lights when not in use, etc.

As you might have guessed, many of these come down to conserving energy. Compact fluorescent light bulbs save 66% energy over incandescent bulbs, which equates to 400 pounds of greenhouse gas per bulb replaces. Homes that have multi-socket extension leads and switch them off while the attached devices are not in use, can reduce up to 15% of their energy consumption (ie power used by TVs, etc. while they are on standby). If possible put your fridge in a place that doesn’t get sunlight to save energy and about 4 inches from the wall for proper air flow. Also decide what you want to eat before opening the fridge, rather than leaving open for a long time (similarly for opening oven door while cooking). Using a microwave saves 50% less energy than a conventional oven. Take a shower instead of a bath, which can use as little as 14% of the water a bath uses.

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Heating and cooling are the lion share of most homes energy consumption. During the day open your blinds and drapes to let light in, which can save up to 10% of energy from the sun’s passive heating (reverse for days wanting to keep the house cooler). Using rugs on wooden floors can save 4% – 6% on energy bills. Have a party! Each person in your home can generate the same amount of heat as a 100-watt heater.

What finishes you use in your house also can make a huge difference. The fastest growing plant in the world, bamboo, is much more environmentally friendly to use for flooring than hardwood flooring. Use organic cotton or sustainable bamboo sheets, cotton linens account for 25% of the world’s insecticide use. Toilets account for 30% of total indoor water use, install a low-flow one. Install a low-flow shower head, a family of 4 can save 160,000 liters a year.

Compost organic matter to reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides as well as reduces the household waste that ends up in a landfill and eases the energy and costs associated with trash collection.

There are so many other simple and cheap things that can be done to nurture the planet we all inhabit. Please write in and share more great ideas! If anyone wants to also look into solar, geo-thermal, additional insulation, etc. please do not hesitate to contact me so I can give you the names of great contractors.