Climate Change, Energy Costs, Tax Credits & Good Real Estate News


Climate Change

As you can see from the title of this blog, there’s a lot to talk about in this last week of 2009.  I must admit that I am both surprised and disappointed by some of the research statistics that have been have been touted in the last few months of 2009 regarding the environment.  For example, even though 93 percent of all climate scientists conclude that the rapid rate of climate change the world is experiencing is a result of human activity, only 43 percent of Americans believe them.  I have to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan here and say,  “everyone is entitled to their own opinions—but not their own facts.”

Only forty percent of Americans say that heating and cooling costs are very important.  Given the fact that the state of the economy is a real concern for most people, it seems incongruous to me that the majority of Americans don’t see a correlation between  energy costs and their personal finances.  Wouldn’t any sure fire way to reduce expenses be a positive for a person or family’s bottom line?

Energy Improvment Tax Credits

The federal government thinks energy costs and climate change are important enough to offer some pretty good incentives to consumers/taxpayers.  You can get a tax credit of up to $1,500 for energy efficient home improvements that you make during 2009 and 2010.  So if you buy Energy Star appliances, water heaters, HVAC systems, windows, doors or roofs you are probably eligible for this tax credit.  This is a onetime credit and can be used in 2009 or 2010.  Be sure to go to the Energy Star tax credit page to get details for receiving the credit. 

But  In spite of this great incentive to consume less energy and save money, a new survey finds that when asked “if someone gave you $10,000 for home improvements, how would you spend it?” A majority said they would pick ways to make their homes look better, rather than burn less energy.  Most of the 508 people surveyed said their energy costs would have to rise by $1,500 per year for them to see these costs as “very important”.  Hmmmmm?

Winterize Your Home

But if you are concerned about saving energy and money and even if major purchases aren’t in your budget, there are many small things you can do to save money and energy this winter. According to the US Dept. of Energy drafts cause 5-30 % of the wasted energy in a home. You can simply roll a towel and use it to stop the draft. If you want to be a little fancier you can buy or make a draft snake.   Buy a window insulation kit at the hardware store.  Make sure to have your furnace serviced twice a year and change your furnace filters once a month during the heating season.  Here are seventeen more tips  for winterizing your home. 

 Good Real Estate News

The economy is showing signs of improvement, jobless claims are way down and the sales of existing homes has risen by 44% year over year from this time last November.  In the Northeast sales have risen 57%!  This is good news. Banks are lending and the first time and move up buyer tax credits have been extended until April 30, 2010. Settlement doesn’t have to take place until June 30, 2010.  A single person can earn up to $125,000 and as long as he/she hasn’t owned a home in the last 3 years, they’re eligible for the first time home buyer tax credit of $8,000. A couple can earn $225,000. Move up buyers who have lived in their home for five out of the last eight years are eligible for a $6,500 tax credit with the same income limits.

Happy New Year!





What To Do With That $8,000 Tax Credit

In order to claim the Home Buyer tax credit you have to be a first time homebuyer.  This can also mean you haven’t owned a primary residence in the last 3 years. You also can’t earn more than $75K as a single person or $150K as a married couple although partial credits can be claimed with higher incomes.  Don’t miss the low interest rate-tax credit boat.  You must purchase by December, 1, 2009.  Here are more details and  FAQs provided by the National Association of Home Builders.  And here’s some REALLY GOOD news.  You can amend your 2009 taxes to claim the credi this year!

So here are some ways you can use your tax credit to reduce your carbon footprint and make some earth-friendly improvements to your new home. 

New energy efficient Energy Star rated appliances

New energy efficient Energy Star rated Furnace and/or A/C unit

Insulate the attic and walls of your home with either cellulose blown in foam insulation

A tankless hot water heater

A solar hot water heater

Sustainable landscaping with native plants and strategically oriented trees

These are just a few ideas of how you can use the homebuyer tax credit.  But if you purchase certain of these items you can also claim an energy efficient tax deduction on your 2009 taxes. And if you live in Virginia and you wait until October 9-12, 2009 to purchase, you can take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

When you’re ready to take advantage of the Stimulous Package and buy a home, call me, your going green real estate advisor.

Gayle Fleming, EcoBroker Certified            703-6251-358