Going Green

By Graham Farran

I recently took a continuing education class all about Going Green, something I didn’t know much about, so I was surprised by what I learned and how much each of us can impact our environment. It was a great class and information worth sharing.

It’s surprising that focus on our environment really didn’t begin until 1969 in the United States. It was then that a series of river fires plagued our nation. Rivers in industrial areas were so polluted with chemicals from factory run off that they caught on fire, and that caught the attention of the public. During the same period, we also saw a decline of certain species, including our national bird, the bald eagle, which became a concern. Out of this concern came Earth Day in 1970, and then-president Richard Nixon formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect our environment.

So, what does “Going Green” mean? It means understanding that there are consequences to the environment for the resources we use and the choices we make. We can reduce our effect on the earth by reducing our ecological footprint which is much more encompassing than our carbon footprint. The 4 major ways we can control and reduce our ecological footprint are:  1) The food we eat, 2) Goods and Services we buy and use, 3) Mobility or how we get around, and 4) Homes we live in. For this article, I’ll just focus on one of the four, “Homes we live in”, and 5 ways we can improve our “Ecological Footprint” and make our homes greener.

#1 Energy Use: Decrease our energy use

Homes are one of the biggest contributors to carbon gas emissions. There are lots of ways to save energy in our home and there are many tips below. You may want to start by getting a “Energy Audit” by a 3rd party that looks at your insulation, windows, doors, and the amount of energy to heat and cool your home. You can find vendors at this URL: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/home-energy-audits.

  • Add a programmable thermostat – only run the HVAC when needed
  • Wrap your water heater with insulation
  • Add Solar tubes – take advantage of natural lighting
  • Close the fireplace damper while not in use
  • Run the dishwasher only when full
  • Use insulated window curtains to block the heat in the summer but let it in during the winter
  • Switch to all LED lighting
  • Buy Energy star appliances
  • Add solar panels – use natural light
  • Glazing or tint windows to keep the heat out in the summer
  • Add ceiling fans to circulate the air
  • Add dual or triple pane windows
  • Alter your landscaping by adding tall trees that shade the house
  • Buy an energy efficient HVAC. There is a SEER rating for efficiency of HVAC systems. The higher the number the better – 14 or higher is good

2) Water Efficiency: Conserve water by adding features that decrease indoor/outdoor water use

  • Add low flush toilets OR dual flush toilets
  • Replace your water heater with a tankless water heater
  • Install low flow shower heads
  • Add water collection devices. Rain barrels, capture rain water from the downspouts
  • Reuse the grey water from your sink for your yard
  • Landscaping for energy efficiency. Use natural landscaping in your area that doesn’t require supplemental irrigation

3) Sustainability: Using renewable products is a key

  • Consider renewable and resource-efficient materials
  • Eco-Friendly flooring such as Bamboo, Cork or Hemp
  • Recycled flooring
  • Walking Score – when you buy a new home look at its walking score, can you walk to services?

4) Materials used:  Any time you update or remodel consider using environmentally friendly products

  • Use recycled glass products for
    • Countertops
    • Flooring
    • Backsplash
    • Lamps
  • Linoleum vs vinyl is more eco-friendly
  • If you are adding insulation, consider recyclable
    • Cotton
    • Cellulose – recycled paper

5) Indoor environmental quality: Be healthier and safer for occupants

  • Use Eco-friendly carpeting with natural fibers
  • Use natural insect repellants
  • Use green paint, VOC paint (Volatile Organic Compounds)

There are many benefits to “Going Green”, such as reducing your carbon footprint, saving money, tax incentives and a healthier lifestyle. If we all implemented just a portion of the ideas presented in this article it would make a huge difference to our “ecological footprint” and go a long way to protect our environment ensuring future generations clean water, clean air and the beauty of nature.

210 Pine Tree Drive Williams, OR 97544

Private, Rural Property in the Applegate Valley | $329,000 | MLS# 3007501 | Feel the pride of ownership of this home nicely situated on a level 5.7 acres in Williams. The property features an artesian well, garden area, 2 seasonal creeks & 2 acres fully enclosed with fencing. Gated entry provides added privacy & security. The 1, 620 Sq Ft mfd home has 3 bedrooms & 2 full bathrooms. Enjoy nature and landscaped surroundings from the large 20×51 ft deck. Other notable features include a wood stove, vaulted ceilings, skylights, large walk-in closets, and a big kitchen with lots of storage & counter space. The detached one car garage includes an extra room for storage along with a dog kennel. Plenty of parking for vehicles, trailers or RVs. This property is in the 3 Rivers School District. It is truly a private oasis with close proximity to vineyards, hiking trails, the Applegate River, Jacksonville & everything else the beautiful Applegate Valley has to offer!

    1044 Newcastle St. Medford, OR 97501

    Refinished & Retro- Inspired | $339,000 | MLS# 3006960 | Completely refinished home in an established & desirable neighborhood! This gorgeously updated 3 bed 2 bath home has enjoyed refurbishing of nearly every inch and shows pride of ownership inside & out. It is conveniently perched between Medford & Jacksonville for easy access to all that the 2 cities have to offer. Home features a spacious living room with a cozy gas fireplace, wood accents & vaulted ceiling & an adorably updated kitchen with tile plank flooring, retro appliances, granite counters & an open floor plan! Excellent master suite features a vaulted ceiling, big walk in closet & a large master bathroom including tile shower, double vanity & plenty of storage. 3rd bedroom is currently being used as a cute office with built-ins. The slider off the dining takes you to the covered patio & large yard with plenty of space for kids or pets. The Hampton Place Subdivision is beautifully kept, highly desirable & feeds Jacksonville Elementary so don’t wait to make an appointment!

    6 Ways Real Estate Builds Your Wealth

    By Graham Farran

     

     

    Real Estate has been a great investment for me and many of our companies’ clients. Many novice investors look at appreciation as the main benefit to investing in Real Estate, but I see that as just icing on the cake.  Here are the 6 major ways that you can build wealth with real estate.

    #1 Real Estate gives you Predictable & Stable Income.

    In any area you can find out what the “market rent” is and it’s very consistent. Rents in Southern Oregon run around $1 per square foot, higher in areas like Jacksonville and Ashland and cap out at about $3500 month regardless of the home. When you invest in Real Estate you can predict almost exactly what your income will be.

    #2 Real Estate Investments can be Leveraged

    Your investment can be 4 to 5 times greater than your down payment. The lending bank requires 20% to 25% down for an investment property and they will invest 75% – 80%. So, with $40,000 down you can buy a $200,000 investment. When it comes to your return on investment, you make a return on your cash investment or you can make a return on the spread between the interest on the loan and the rate of return on the property. In some cases, the leverage can be a lot higher; like buying a home with only 3% or 4% owner occupied financing and then turning it into a rental after a required one-year period of living in it. You can also buy a duplex or tri-plex with a small down, owner-occupied loan then live in one of the units and rent out the rest. Where else can you use other people’s money to buy and investment? You can’t borrow $200,000 to invest in the stock market and secure it with the stock you buy. So, leverage is, to me, the biggest benefit for investing in Real Estate.

    #3 Real Estate Appreciates in Value

    While appreciation is not guaranteed, real estate values in the US have increased an average of 6% a year over time. I always analyze a real estate investment based on its return without adding in appreciation, and see appreciation as icing on the cake.

    #4 Real Estate Provides Equity Buildup

    Equity builds in two ways.  Every year your tenants rent checks go towards paying down your mortgage so you build equity by debt reduction. At the same time appreciation causes home prices to go up which also causes your equity to build, so your equity grows in two ways

    #5 Real Estate is Improvable

    You can increase the value of your investment property with “elbow grease” and “sweat equity.” Real Estate is an investment that with hard physical work you can personally increase its value, or write a check to a contractor to improve its value.

    #6 Real Estate provides many Tax Breaks

    There are 4 ways of saving on your taxes by investing in real estate.

    • DEDUCT all expense incurred in owning real estate. Property upkeep,
      maintenance, improvements and interest paid on the mortgage. The deductions offset income and reduce your overall taxes.
    • DEPRECIATE your rental home (minus the value of the land). The deductions offset income and reduce your overall taxes.
    • DECREASED tax rate when you sell real estate. Real Estate profits, whether they be rent income or profits for the sale of a home are subject to capital gains tax which is far less than the tax you pay on earned income.
    • DEFER any taxes due by using a 1031 Exchange. As long as you re-invest in like properties, your profits from a real estate investment never get taxed until you sell that investment property and don’t re-invest. What I’m seeing now is elderly couples passing away and leaving their real estate investments to their children who, upon inheriting the properties get to value those properties at current value without paying any taxes. Taxes are only paid if they sell those investment properties in the future for more than the value of which they inherited it, and then, they only owe tax on the value that it has appreciated since they inherited it.

    So, how do you get started?

    Unless you can come up with 20 – 25% down for an investment property the best way to get started is buy a home, live in for one year, then convert it to a rental home. By doing this you can get an owner-occupied loan with as little as Zero to 3% down.  You can even buy a duplex or tri-plex, with an owner-occupied loan and live in part if and rent out the rest. If you already have a home, see if you have enough equity to borrow against for the down for  your first rental property.

    Once you own your first rental property, it’s much easier to get the down for your second rental property. Here are three ways:

    • Save the profits from your first rental property
    • Borrow against the equity of your property (HELOC loan) 
    • Refinance your rental home and take out the equity

    As time goes on and you have many rental properties, you can accelerate the acquisition of your rental properties. You can use your rental profits or equity to buy a few rental properties per year. You can count your rents minus your expenses as income to qualify for more investment loans. My personal experience has been I’m busy with my day job so when I get around to looking at the equity in my rental homes, I’m always pleasantly surprised. I find that the loans have been paid down substantially enough to give me a debt reduction and appreciation has caused the value of the home to go up substantially, even doubling in some cases. After I analyze how much equity I have built up the only questions is…. what can I buy next?

    3273 Woodbriar Drive Medford, OR 97504

    A Country Chic Dream | $279,000 | MLS# 3006557 | This single level home greets you with an open floor plan and vaulted ceilings, providing a spacious living area. This home has been tastefully updated throughout including the kitchen with new countertops, tiled flooring, stainless steel appliances and an abundance of cabinet space. In the master bedroom, you can find 2 oversized corrugated metal sliding farm doors leading into the walk-in closet and bath. Exiting the eat in kitchen from the sliding glass door, you are embraced by a park-like backyard with mature landscaping. There is a large patio that offers an outdoor kitchen, tile counters and bar top perfect for entertaining! There is an attached 2 car garage with a widened driveway and plenty of RV parking. Come fall in love with the country chic style and pristine care that was put into this home!