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  • Inflatable, portable PhotonGrill cooks your food with nothing but the sun

    The barbecue of the future is here. Meet PhotonGrill, an inflatable 100 percent solar-powered grill that lets you ditch the charcoal for greener cooking. Perfect for camping and areas with fire bans, the lightweight, fire-free and fuel-free PhotonGrill is designed for portability and easily folds down to fit in a backpack. The best part? Its NASA-inspired technology is so efficient the grill reaches 500F in just five minutes.

    Recently launched on Kickstarter, the PhotonGrill is available at a discount for early bird backers and comes with a lightweight carrying case, solar-optimized pan, BBQ tongs, and an air pump. The portable and durable grill weighs only seven pounds and can easily be set up in just three minutes. A pot can also be attached for cooking. An optional add-on module will transform the PhotonGrill into a highly efficient power generator so you can charge your electronics with sun-powered electricity wherever you go.

    Heres how the PhotonGrill works: once fully inflated, the grill, made of lightweight plastic film, takes on the form of a reflective parabolic mirror that concentrates the energy contained in the rays of light into a small area, creating highly-localized energy thats powerful enough to cook with. The design team says the technology was based on experiments carried out by NASA in the 1960s

    By using heat to thermally deform the plastics polymers structure, the plastic is able to remember and transform into the desired parabolic shape when inflated, says the PhotonGrill team, who also claim the grill has 1,000 watts of power. Set atop a stable tripod, the parabolic mirror is made with highly robust polymer foils tested to ensure they can withstand all contingencies, even a large splash of boiling grease. PhotonGrill is looking to raise $111,964 on Kickstarter to bring the solar-powered grill to production.

    Courtesy of California Association of REALTORS. Click Here for Original article.

  • Americans Think Homeownership is a Sound Investment

    Media Contact: Jane Dollinger / 202-383-1042 / Email

    WASHINGTON (October 14, 2015) A vast majority of Americans believe that buying a home is a solid financial decision, and most believe they could sell their home for at least its initial purchase price, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors. The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that a preponderance of Americans think that now is a good time to buy a home.

    The survey, which measures consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, found that more than eight in 10 Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and 68 percent believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Seventy-one percent believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013.

    When asked for reasons about why homeownership matters to them, respondents answers did not change significantly from past years. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top three reasons to own a home.

    "Homeownership is part of the American Dream, and this survey proves that dream is alive and thriving in our communities," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "Realtors believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals."

    The number of renters who are now thinking about purchasing a home has increased since the last survey in 2013, up from 36 percent to 39 percent. Sixty-one percent of renters stated that owning a home is a priority for their future. According to the survey, 80 percent of respondents believe that pre-purchase counseling programs and classes are very or somewhat important. Forty-five percent of homeowners who said they did not take a counseling program, reported they would have taken part in one had it been easily available to them.

    Attitudes about the housing market have improved in recent years. Forty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they feel activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared to 44 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011. Eighty-nine percent expect home sales in their area to either increase or remain the same. Concern about foreclosures has also declined, with only 15 percent of respondents indicating that foreclosure is a major concern.

    In addition to improved attitudes about the housing market, survey participants also showed an improved outlook regarding the economy. Only 36 percent think that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, a substantial drop from 45 percent in 2013.

    Perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained mostly unchanged compared to recent years; 78 percent of respondents point to college debt and student loans as the main obstacle to making a home purchase affordable. Seventy-six percent of participants said they have a full-time job but still did not make enough money to purchase a home. Seventy-four percent believe they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs.

    As the market has improved, concern about the cost of housing has increased. Two-thirds of survey participants said that home prices are more expensive than they were a year ago. There is additional concern over the lack of available housing; 41 percent said the lack of affordable homes is either a very big or fairly big problem in their area, an increase of 9 percent points from 2013.

    For adult millennials under the age of 35, the burden of student debt is their chief concern, with 86 percent of respondents naming college debt as an obstacle to homeownership. Over half reported that their housing costs are a financial strain on their budget, 65 percent are concerned about high rental prices, and 60 percent are concerned about high home prices. However, millennials tend to have a more upbeat and positive view about the future of the nation than older Americans, with 42 percent of millennials saying that the country is headed in the right direction compared to only 20 percent among those aged 50 and older.

    The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NARs Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

    Courtesy National Association of Realtors. Click Here for Original Article.

  • Can you believe it's already that time? 2017 flew by for me both in business and personally. I want to thank everyone who supported me this year and all the clients that made it such a great 2017.

    As we begin 2018, Dwell Realty is settling into the new office in the Tatitlek Building. If youhaven't had a chance to come see us, we will be hosting an open house on Wednesday, January 11th from 4 PM to 7 PM. Please join us for champagne, appetizers, and sushi in the bistro room! For directions, please click here.

    I have many plans to keep business thriving in 2018, including the launch of my email newsletter and blog campaign. Please feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter to receive bi-monthly content from me about Anchorage cultural and community events, real estate tips and tricks, and home maintenance tips!

    I am wishing everyone a joyful and bountiful new year, may you keep the strength to follow your dreams!

  • We all make New Years resolutions, but lets be honest, most are wishful thinking. By February, that lose 20 pounds or learn Spanish resolution has gone right out the window.

    But not for you, new homeowner. This year is different.

    Your first 12 months of homeownership set the tone for the entire journey. With just a few smart decisions, you can save money now and get more out of your investment later.

    So make room on that list between run a 5K and travel more. Here are essential New Years resolutions for new homeowners.

    1. Start an emergency fund

    Homeownership has a funny way of costing more than you think. Anemergency savings fundprovides a financial safety net, and your new home is the perfect reason to start one.

    Remember, if the furnace quits on a cold night, theres no landlord to call. Laid off unexpectedly or surprised by major car repairs? Mortgage payments are still expected on time and in full. Without an emergency fund, these expenses could force you into credit card debt or worse.

    Ideally, your emergency fund should cover several months of expenses, but its OK to start small. Set aside a portion of every paycheck with the goal of saving $500 as quickly as possible, and then contribute as much as you can moving forward.

    2. Take a closer look at your homeowners insurance

    Just because a standard homeowners insurance policy satisfied your lender, it doesnt mean youre adequately covered.

    Homeowners insurance isnt one-size-fits-all. There are unique coverage options and, more importantly, exclusions that homeowners need to be aware of, says Ryan Andrew, president of The Andrew Agency, an independent insurance agency in Richmond, Virginia.

    Does your policy cover the full cost of your jewelry or other valuables? Are disasters like earthquakes and floods excluded? Will the policy pay if your dog bites the new mailman?

    Your home is usually your biggest asset, Andrew says. Spend a few minutes reviewing your coverage and exclusions, and ask questions so you understand your policy.

    MORE:Choose the right amount of homeowners insurance

    3. Get an energy efficiency audit

    Heating, cooling and powering a home isnt cheap. Why be uncomfortable or spend more because your house wastes energy?

    After the dust settles, you may notice more about your home, particularly if you bought new construction, says Jessie Ferguson, director of operations at Renewablue, a home energy consulting company. Maybe the air smells funny or one bedroom is colder than the others. She recommends getting an energy-efficiency audit rather than guessing at the problem.

    Using blower door tests and infrared cameras, energy audits measure air leaks and detect air infiltration or missing insulation. Audits are performed by utility companies, city governments and some contractors.

    An energy audit is an inexpensive way to get real information about your house. Theyll tell you which fixes will deliver the best bang for your buck, Ferguson says.

    In addition to lowering your utility bills and making you more comfortable, a more efficient home may end up putting free money in your pocket, thanks to local, state and federal rebates.

    4. Consider a home warranty

    If the appliances in your new home are near the end of their life cycles, a home warranty may help shield you from the cost of replacement.

    Also called home service contracts, home warranties are annual agreements that offset the repair or replacement cost of major home components and appliances.

    Approach home warranty companies with caution, however. Read customer reviews and avoid gimmicks that seem too good to be true. Like insurance policies, home warranties are full of fine print, and homeowners often fail to realize whats excluded until they try to make a claim.

    They can be helpful in the first year of homeownership, when you have so many other things to think about and pay for, Ferguson says of home warranties. Just make sure you know exactly what youre getting.

    MORE:Are home warranties worth the cost?

    5. Create a disaster kit with a home inventory

    Your new home is your castle, but its not indestructible. A disaster kit that includes financial documents and a home inventory will speed up recovery if the unthinkable happens.

    A home inventory can be as simple as snapping pictures of big-ticket items in your home, or you could record items, brands, original prices, ages and condition in a spreadsheet.

    No matter which method you choose, a home inventory is the best way to make sure you have enough insurance coverage to replace your valuables, Andrew says.

    Store the inventory, along with copies of your personal identification, credit card information, vehicle records and other important documents, in a fireproof safe or another place thats easily accessible if you have to evacuate.

    6. Make a plan to build equity

    Unless you bought your home with cash, it will be many years until you own it outright. Make plans now tobuild equity fasterso you can unlock more benefits of homeownership even sooner.

    Equity is a fancy word for how much of your house is paid off. Home equity is a valuable asset; accrue enough and you can use it to finance major renovations or pay off student loans.

    You can build equity slowly just by making your monthly mortgage payments, or you can find ways to speed up the process. For example, take on smart home improvements or switch to biweekly payments to get equity rich even faster.

    The article6 For-Keeps New Years Resolutions for New Homeownersoriginally appeared on NerdWallet.

  •  

    Around 75% of Alaskas homes were built between 1970-1990. These homes are now reaching 40+ years old and they are aesthetically and functionally depreciating. In addition to normal wear and tear, Alaskan homes undergo severe weather patterns and cold temperatures that age the home more rapidly. With the majority of Alaskas homeowners in these older homes, many of them are looking to renovate and sell. But where are they going to relocate? Anchorage is running out of lots to build on, and new construction homes are not built fast enough match demand in housing stock. Try as they might, Alaska home building only produced a staggeringly low number of 200 homes in 2017, when at least 900 are needed to meet demand. According to a recent article in the Anchorage Daily News, more and more Alaskans are forced into cramped and low quality living situations to cope with low housing stock.

     

    So how does this affect you as a homeowner?

     

    In recognition of this housing problem, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation provides three renovation options for homeowners:

    Purchase RenovationThis loans occurs concurrently with the purchase of a home. Second for RenovationThis loan involves improvements to a home you already own. Probably the most beneficial for current homeowners in Alaska who are facing the challenge of owning a home built 1970-1990.- Loan up to $100,000 w/alternative evaluation- Loan up to $318,075 w/appraisal Refinance RenovationIncorporates renovations into new loan.

     

    Under the loan qualifications for AHFC, applicants must be Alaskan residents in an owner-occupied home. All renovations must be done by a licensed contractor or qualifications of the borrower to do such work must be provided.

     

    Why renovate?

    Not only will renovating your older home improve Alaskas aging housing stock, it can also increase your homes value and improve energy efficiency. Rather than trying to squeeze hundreds of new homes in Anchorages limited lot space, renew your homes life and worth by renovating.

     

    Sources:

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-life/2018/02/01/little-progress-on-overcrowding-affordability-or-quality-in-alaska-housing-says-report/

    https://www.ahfc.us/buy/renovation-loan-programs/