Go Green by Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

Any steps you take to make your house more energy efficient can save you money every day from that day forward. Implementing one or more of these doesn’t have to take a great deal of time either. Sometimes the hardest step is the first one; so, to help you get started making your home more energy efficient, here are some ideas:

Install programmable thermostats
A programmable thermostat is one of the least expensive and most beneficial ways to cut your energy costs without sacrificing comfort. Over half of your gas and electric bill is for heating and cooling. Installing and programming your thermostat only takes a few minutes, but once installed, it pays for itself in a short period of time and keeps on paying dividends through lower energy costs.

Improve seals in windows and doors
A home loses between five and 30 percent of its heat or cooling though drafty windows and doors. Replacing old windows with newer double-pane energy-efficient windows should be a priority, and the windows can pay for themselves in three or four winters. For doors, make sure that each outside door has a door sweep installed, and use foam weather-stripping around each exterior door’s frame to cut down on drafts. Use a caulking gun to fill in gaps around the exterior doors in your home, and while you’re at it, caulk your windows as well.

Install ceiling fans
Installing ceiling fans can keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Simply reverse the fan’s direction depending on the season, and you will find that you can put off turning on the furnace/air conditioner for an extra week or two. When buying ceiling fans, spending a little extra to get a good one is definitely worth it.

Wrap and insulate your water heater
Lowering your water heater’s temperature from 140 to 120 degrees can cut your energy bills by up to ten percent. Buying and installing an insulating blanket can pay for itself in no time and save even more money month after month.

Replace that old furnace
This is an expensive proposition. However, if your home has a furnace that is 15 or more years old, buying a new Energy Star-certified furnace can reduce your heating costs by as much as 50 percent. If you sit down and figure out how much money you will save every month by cutting your heating costs in half or even by a third, it is a lot easier to write that check for a new furnace.

Turn down your thermostat
For every degree that you lower your thermostat, you save between one and three percent on your heating bill. Try lowering your thermostat by three degrees for a week and see if you notice the difference. While sitting and watching TV or reading, wear socks and have a blanket handy to stay warm and comfortable. At night, throw an extra blanket or two on the bed.

The majority of these energy-saving tips cost little money, but can have a big impact on your heating bill and energy usage. Cut three percent here, seven percent there and another four percent or more in other parts of your house, and it won’t take long to start seeing real savings without sacrificing comfort. Reducing your carbon footprint is always a good idea, and the money you save can go toward even more energy efficient home improvements like new appliances or more insulation in the attic.

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Writing a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Purchase Real Estate – Step By Step

In this article, I would like to give you an idea of when to use a Letter of Intent (LOI) to purchase real estate. Next, we will look at how to write a LOI step-by-step.

First my disclaimer. Laws vary from state to state and do change from time to time. This information should not be construed as legal advice. When you engage in any type of real estate or legal transaction, you should seek competent legal and real estate advice from a professional.

There – we got that out of the way!

OK. Now let’s look at when to use a Letter of Intent vs. a Purchase Offer. I am specifically going to address this when looking at buying an apartment building or commercial real estate.

The standard contract used when purchasing real estate is called a Purchase Offer, or a Purchase and Sale Agreement. You probably used this to buy your own house or condo.

Again, this is the standard agreement generally used in most real estate transactions. It is a formal proposal, usually drafted by your real estate agent or broker along with you. If the Seller agrees to all of the terms and conditions in the contract, they will simply sign the document. It then becomes a legally-binding contract between Buyer and Seller.

A Letter of Intent (LOI) on the other hand, is generally used as a “starting point” of discussion when purchasing real estate. It is a great tool to use to begin discussions, and usually is followed up with a formal Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Why use a Letter of Intent?

A Letter of Intent is a great tool to use in order to gauge the viability of purchasing a property given the price and terms you are looking for.

A lot of times, I will use a LOI when I am trying to purchase an investment property for much less than the Seller is listing the property. I may also use a LOI if I am unfamiliar with the property and the area. I like to use a LOI in these cases to start the negotiating process while I do some due diligence work during the process.

Alright. Let’s look at how to write a Letter of Intent step by step.

1. At the top of the letter, write today’s date.

2. Include the Seller or Broker information at the top of the letter.

3. Explain that you are presenting this as a Letter of Intent to purchase the property.

4. Explain who you are – whether you are buying through an LLC, investment group, etc.

5. Describe the property you are purchasing – the property name and address.

6. Include the price you would agree to purchase the property.

7. Define the due diligence period – it may be anywhere from 30 to 90 days, possibly even longer in a complex project.

8. Identify how you would like to finance the project – Seller financing, loan assumption, bank financing, etc.

9. Describe what you would like to review during the due diligence period – financial information, leases, rent roll, etc.

10. Include the earnest money you would be prepared to put down during due diligence.

11. Identify a Closing Date target – it may be within 30 or 45 days of conclusion of the Due Diligence Period. This will vary based on the project.

12. End the letter stating if these terms are acceptable, to let you know and you will follow up with a formal Purchase Agreement to move forward on the purchase.

13. Sign the letter.

There you have it – the essential elements to include in a LOI. Nothing too complicated – and if it is too complicated you will likely scare off a serious Seller!

The LOI is really just a simple business letter outlining the price, terms, and conditions that you would like to get when purchasing the property. Those are the basics, and everything will vary from project to project.

Again, a LOI is a great tool in your toolbox to begin discussions when purchasing real estate. Keep these steps in mind when you are looking to make your next purchase of an investment property.