Your Guide to Going Solar

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For homeowners looking to reduce their home’s carbon footprint, increase its sustainability, and add value to their property, going solar is an obvious choice. Understanding how solar works and how to maximize its benefits are key first steps in your journey to becoming a solar energy-producing household.

 

How does solar work?

 

The technology that turns your house into a solar energy-harnessing hub is called photovoltaics, more commonly known as PV. PV works by fielding direct sunlight and absorbing its photons into the solar panels’ cells, which then creates electricity that provides energy for your home. This energy reduces your home’s output of carbon and other pollutants, which translates to cleaner air and water.

 

With the sun as the power source, the majority of the power generation occurs during the middle of the day, making summer the highest producing season. But don’t worry, it all evens out in the end.

 

Rooftop panels work best when they are exposed to sunlight, free of shade or shadow from nearby trees or structures. Given the sun’s east-to-west path, south-facing roofs are best-suited for maximizing your solar power. To see if your roof is set up for success, consult a mapping service or solar calculator to establish your roof’s suitability. If your roof isn’t up to standard, there are options such as ground mount solar installations and community solar gardens that you can explore.

 

Components

 

  • Solar panels: Capture the sun’s energy
  • Inverter: Converts the sun’s energy to a form that powers devices
  • Racking: The foundation that holds your solar system in place
  • Batteries: To store the energy generated
  • Charge controller: To control how quickly the batteries charge

 

What are the benefits of solar power?

 

  • Sustainability: Having a renewable source of energy coursing through your home reduces your household’s carbon footprint and increases your eco-friendliness.
  • Savings: How much money you save by going solar depends largely on how much energy your household consumes and the energy output of your solar panels. The cost of going solar has continued to decrease every year, so you are more likely to save as time goes on. For information on state incentives and tax breaks, explore what options apply to your home by visiting DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency).
  • Utilities: Whether your utility company charges a flat rate for electricity or charges variable rates throughout the day based on electricity production—i.e. higher rates in the afternoon, lower rates at night—solar power offsets the price you are charged for electricity. It becomes even more valuable during those higher-rate periods or during seasonal fluctuations in utilities costs.
  • Sell it back: Homeowners can sell their solar energy back to utilities through “Net-metering” plans. When your power generation rate is greater than your household’s consumption rate, the end result on your electric bill is a net energy consumption. Refer to DSIRE for region-specific regulations and policies.  
  • Home value: A recent study by The Appraisal Journal found that homes with solar PV systems increased their sale price by an average of 3.74%, equaling a premium of $14,329.  

 

Although the right solar solution looks different for each household, what remains true across the board are the environmental benefits and increased home values that solar power brings. Taking all this information into your research will improve your home’s renewable energy and reduce your carbon footprint.

Park City Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of select neighborhoods in the Park City real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you in making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent. 

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

COVID-19 had a significant impact on employment in Utah, causing the loss of more than 144,000 jobs in March and April and raising the state’s unemployment rate to 10.4%. For comparison, peak unemployment following the Great Recession was only 8%.

That said, it appears as if Utah’s massive contraction in employment is behind us (at least for now). Employment in the state rose by 40,400 jobs in May, an increase of 2.8% in just one month, allowing the unemployment rate to drop to 8.5%.

Although it is certainly too early to say that we are out of the woods, we seem to be headed in a positive direction. That said, COVID-19 infection rates in Utah started increasing in June and may slow the economic recovery if the direction is not reversed. Regardless, I do not believe that it is likely to have a significant impact on the housing market.

 

HOME SALES

❱ In the second quarter of 2020, 131 homes sold in the Park City area, a drop of 37.3% from the second quarter of 2019, and down 22.9% from the first quarter of this year.

❱ Home sales were a mixed bag, with increases in 4 neighborhoods but declines in 14. The areas that saw sales activity increase are all very small.

❱ The drop in sales came as inventory levels rose more than 300%. The most likely explanation is that concerns over COVID-19 outweighed the additional choice of available homes.

❱ Pending home sales were 15.6% lower than a year ago, but only 3.1% lower than in the first quarter. This makes me hopeful that the market will start to stabilize as we move through the balance of the year.

 

 

HOME PRICES

❱ The average home price in the Park City neighborhoods contained in this report rose 1.9% year-over-year to $1.159 million. Sale prices were 0.6% higher than in the first quarter of 2020.

❱ The most affordable neighborhoods in terms of average sale prices were Kimball, Heber North & East, Wanship, Hoytsville, Coalville, and Rockport. The most expensive were Upper Deer Valley Resort & Empire Pass, Promontory, and Thaynes Canyon.

❱ Prices rose in a majority of neighborhoods, with significant gains in the Promontory, Thaynes Canyon, Jeremy Ranch, and Lower Deer Valley Resort & Deer Crest neighborhoods. Annual sale prices dropped in seven markets, with the Canyons Village area experiencing the steepest decline.

❱ The Park City market is relatively small, but with some very expensive real estate. It will be interesting to see if COVID-19-related impacts persist or if we start to see a return to normal activity.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

❱ The average time it took to sell a home in the Park City area rose three days compared to the second quarter of 2019.

❱ The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in nine market areas and rose in nine compared to a year ago.

❱ In the second quarter of this year, it took an average of 101 days to sell a home. Homes sold fastest in Summit Park and slowest in the Canyons Village neighborhood.

❱ The greatest drop in market time was in the Tuhaye/Hideout neighborhood, where it took 91 fewer days to sell a home than during the same period a year ago.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Clearly, the Park City housing market was still reacting to the influences of COVID-19 during the second quarter. I see demand, but the pandemic is still making the direction of housing uncertain. That said, I remain hopeful that we will start to get some clarity as we move through the balance of the year. Assuming the state gets new infection rates back under control, I can see the market start to perform at its potential in the second half of the year. As such, I am leaving the needle in the same position as last quarter.

 

 

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Setting Up Your Home Gym

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As the stay-at-home hours add up, setting up a home gym is not only physically beneficial, but can bring some added mental wellness to the new normal many of us find ourselves in. In comparison to a gym membership, even with the up-front investment of purchasing equipment, an at-home gym can deliver savings in the long run. With far-ranging fitness gear options online, there are more ways to save than ever before.

 

Location, location, location

 

Before the lunges, pushups, and weightlifting, the first step in setting up your at-home gym is deciding where to build it. You’ll want plenty of room for the activities and workouts you have in mind. Rooms with low ceilings or narrow walls are not well-suited for a gym. They will limit your ability to perform any kinds of jumping exercises or workouts with wide ranging movements. This space is dedicated to physical activity and the environment should support that. If extra space is hard to come by in your home, consider taking your gym outdoors to a patio, multipurpose space, or other less commonly used area.

 

A space with level, hard flooring, like wood, laminate, or tile, is the best fit for your gym, especially if you plan on establishing a workout plan based around lifting or cardio. Having spatial awareness at all times is important while working out, so you’ll want plenty of light in your home gym. Mirrors are a common fixture in gyms, consider adding one to your wall to analyze your technique.

 

Gear up

 

  • Strength training: Simple workout tools like kettlebells and dumbbells allow you to perform a variety of workouts without taking up much space. Kettlebells are a great tool for incorporating cardio workouts with added weight. Dumbbells at a lower weight are better for toning exercises, while those at heavier weights are better for low-repetition, bulk exercises.
  • Cardio training: Smaller workout tools such as jump ropes, wrist and ankle weights will add intensity to your cardio workouts. Yoga mats provide proper support while performing core exercises or other body weight circuit workouts during your cardio sessions.
  • Large equipment: To get the most out of large workout equipment like treadmills, stair climbers, and bikes in your home gym, plan for them to be a significant part of your workouts.
  • Additional: Applying a layer of gym flooring will help prevent damage and provide added support. If you prefer music and/or video to accompany your workouts, add speakers and a TV to get the motivational juices flowing.

 

Establish a routine

 

Your home gym is no good if it gets no use. With zero commute time to account for, arrange a workout routine that suits your daily schedule. Even if you have 30 minutes, getting into a routine of working out is the key to building up your healthy lifestyle in this new normal of home life.

 

Once your home gym is set up, it can be either your individual fitness sanctuary or an opportunity to work out with others. Invite a friend to exercise via video chat and schedule times to feel the burn together. With more virtual fitness classes available now than ever, surf the web to find the classes that best fit your schedule and desired workout intensity.

Buying with Your Pets in Mind

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For many of us, pets play a central role in our home life, so taking into account what is best for them when buying a home is important for both their happiness and that of your entire household.

 

Your neighborhood

 

When looking for homes that are well suited to both you and your furry companion, consider the area surrounding the home. If your pet is an indoor/outdoor animal, it’s important to examine the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood. If your pet spends time outside, a busy neighborhood could be dangerous, and depending on the level of traffic, he or she may need to be on a leash at all times.

 

How conducive is the neighborhood for taking your pet on walks? If you frequently walk your pet, look for neighborhoods with sidewalks. If your pet enjoys being off-leash, consider prioritizing homes with green belts, parks, trails, or designated off-leash areas nearby. It’s also a good idea to identify where the local emergency pet centers and veterinarian clinics are to insure there is sufficient medical care for your pet in proximity to where you live.

 

Your House

 

  • Size: Is the house big enough? Depending on the type of pet, or breed of animal, space may be the most important factor in picking a pet-friendly home. If you are moving into a bigger space than you were in previously, understand your pet will likely take to the additional room differently. On the flip side, if you are downsizing, be mindful of how it might impact your pet. 
  • Yard: If you have a pet that spends time outside, it’s important to pay particular attention to the yard. Is it large enough? Does it have a secure fence? Is there easy access between the home and the yard?
  • Flooring: Pet-friendly flooring can be tough. Surfaces that can be repaired or refinished when scratched are typically the best options for homes with pets. Sealing additional layers will build up the resistance to damage from paws, claws, and general pet wear and tear.
  • Carpet: Cats are notorious for clawing and scratching at carpet, and dogs are infamous for bringing the outdoors in with them. Consider carpeting of a lesser quality in the area where your pets spend most of the time, or search for carpets that are stain resistant and easy to clean.
  • Stairs: Older pets and multileveled homes are at odds. Consider the age of your pet and how active you expect them to be so that you don’t find yourself in a position where you’re having to carry your pet between floors.

 

HOA?

When looking at a home, ask whether or not it is a part of a Homeowners Association and what restrictions may apply to the property. For instance, certain HOA developments limit the number and/or type of pets per household.

 

Most pet owners take the needs of their pets seriously. In fact, in a recent Realtor.com survey, 75 percent of the respondents said they would not accept an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pet. When it comes down to it, prioritizing your pet when buying a home not only insures your pet’s well-being, but that of your household, as well.

Celebrating 4th of July During COVID-19

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While this year’s Fourth of July festivities will not come with the large crowds and spectacle-filled public events of years past, it is an opportunity to celebrate from the comfort of your home, and ring in the summer in a more intimate setting. Here is your guide to an at-home Independence Day celebration.

 

Create a backyard oasis

Nothing says “summer” like spending time outside, and the Fourth of July is the focal point of that tradition. Creating a backyard oasis will bring an added dimension to your summertime plans and will give celebrating at home a special touch. Popular summer decorative items such as outdoor furniture, string lights, and plants bring comfort to the outdoors and are the makings for long evenings spent in the backyard with family and loved ones. 

 

BBQs & Picnics

With summer upon us, it’s the time of year to bolster your barbecue menu, and July 4th celebrations are the perfect occasion to take it to the next level. Here are simple takes on classic Independence Day dishes from the Food Network.

 

Picnics and Fourth of July go hand-in-hand, so get out your red, white, and blue napkins and continue the tradition—with a twist—in these times of social distancing.

  • Picnic basket swap: Organize a picnic basket swap in your neighborhood, where each household contributes a dish, dropping off the basket at each other’s doorsteps.
  • Socially distant picnic: If neighbors are comfortable with in-person meetups, picnic in a common area, while remaining properly distanced. Take safety precautions for interactions: wear masks except when eating, wash your hands before and after, and remain six feet apart at all times.
  • Virtual recipe share: Exchange your favorite recipes with a friend and find a time on July 4th to prep the meal. Arrange a video chat to eat together and share notes on how the dishes turned out.

 

Camp out, at home

With restrictions still keeping many parks and campsites closed, round up the family to camp among the wilderness of your home. A money-saving, hassle-reducing approach to a camping trip, this is an opportunity for you and your family to connect with nature in the security of your backyard.

Local burn ban policies may affect your ability to participate in a fixture of the Fourth’s tradition: sitting around the campfire. If that’s the case, heat up the grill and make your s’mores by wrapping them up in foil. Place the foil on the grill and let them heat until they reach that melted, gooey perfection.

 

Fireworks

With the status of large-scale firework celebrations varying city-to-city, some event organizers have opted to broadcast pre-recorded material in their place. Arrange for your household to tune in or organize a Zoom call with friends to watch the fireworks online together. If your hometown is moving forward with a public firework show, be sure to check their safety guidelines and follow CDC and Department of Health guidelines in attendance.

 

Though the methods of celebration may look a little different than what you’re used to, the reason for celebrating remains the same. This year is as important as any to commemorate our independence, and these ideas will help you and your household make this at-home Fourth of July a holiday to remember.