Rue Magazine’s Texas Feature

We obviously love Texas around here, so this month we’re excited that Rue Magazine is featuring exclusively Texan homes! Take a look through the beautiful interiors in Rue’s brand new August issue right here. Do you like the interiors? We love that Rue is giving Texas some recognition. We have a lot of great architecture and stunning views on our farm and ranch listings, or if you want a city-feel, we have lots of listings within walking distance from downtown Brenham, Texas, too.  Feel free to contact us if you’d like to buy or sell anywhere in Texas. We would love to represent...

App of the Week: HomeSnap

As you look for a home in this real estate climate, it’s important to choose the right real estate app for your smartphone. At Coldwell Banker Properties Unlimited, we definitely recommend starting with our own Coldwell Banker app, but between Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and every other real estate app available today, we have found a diamond in the rough: HomeSnap! HomeSnap is like magic! Download the app, use it to take a picture of a home you’d like to know more about (whether it’s currently for sale or not!), and voila! An estimated (or exact, if the home is on the market) price, square-footage, bedrooms, and sometimes even pictures! So easy! If you give HomeSnap a try and decide you’d like to take a look at more houses, need a little more guidance, or have any questions, feel free to contact one of our Realtors–or call our office and we’ll pair you with someone who specializes in what you...

Air Conditioning Equipment: Repair or Replace?

By: Oliver Marks Published: December 4, 2009 If you’re deciding whether to repair or replace central air conditioning equipment, assess the quality of your house’s ductwork and insulation first. If your air conditioner is more than eight years old, repair is probably not worth the expense, unless it’s a simple problem like debris clogging the condenser unit or a worn fan belt. Still, to best weigh your repair-or-replace decision, ask your contractor to assess not just the condition of your existing equipment, but also the ducts that deliver the cool air and the overall quality of the insulation in your house. Improving those elements might increase the effectiveness of the system as much or more than installing new machinery. Assess the efficiency of your current system Even if your central air conditioner is just eight to 10 years old, it could suck up to twice the electricity that even a low-end new one would use. That’s because it operates at or below 10 SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is the amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Until 2006, 10 SEER was standard, but these days, the minimum allowed by federal law is 13 SEER. That translates to 30% less electrical consumption and 30% lower cooling bills than equipment installed just a few years ago. For an 1,800 square foot house, a new 13 SEER unit will cost $3,000 to $4,000. You can double your energy savings by jumping up to 16 SEER, which will reduce cooling expenses by 60% over a 10 SEER unit. At $5,000 to $6,000, these super-efficient units are more expensive,...

Whole-House Fans: Maximum Cool, Minimum Cost

By: Laura Fisher Kaiser Published: January 28, 2011 A whole-house fan is a simple and inexpensive method of cooling a house. Maximum cooling from your whole-house fan Whenever the outside temperature drops below inside temps, open some screened windows and flip on the fan to pull cool, dry air through the house and exhaust hot airthrough your roof vents. For a morning “pre-cool,” run your whole-house fan just before sunrise, then close the windows to seal in the cool air as the day warms up. In the evening when outside temps dip, turn on your fan to cool off the house, which takes about 20 minutes for a 2,500 sq. ft. house. In general, whole-house fans are more effective in multi-story homes than single-level. Also, certain regions of the country have better potential for whole-house fan cooling than others. Design options for whole-house fans Ceiling-mounted whole-house fans are the most popular. Installed in the attic between the ceiling and living space, they move large amounts of air. Ducted whole-house fans are quieter because they are mounted in the attic, away from living space. Flexible ductwork runs from low-key room grilles to the fan. The air can be vented directly out of the house, rather than through attic vents. Variable speeds let you flush air quickly through the house at high speed or create a continuous, gentle air flow at low speed. Programmable thermostats and temperature controls add convenience, but make sure your house is prepared: Heating and cooling are turned off. No fire in the fireplace (so flames don’t get sucked out into the house). Windows are open (without enough ventilation from open windows, the...

It’s Gonna Cost You More to Recharge Your Air Conditioning

By: Dona DeZube Published: March 20, 2012 The cost to recharge your air conditioning is going up, up, up. Here’s why: Recharging your air conditioning system can really empty your wallet this spring and summer if you have a unit that’s more than two years old. The refrigerant that older air conditioning units use, R-22, is being phased out, and with less R-22 to go around, prices have spiked. If your AC unit was manufactured in 2011 or later, it uses a different refrigerant, R-410A. Lucky you. Last spring, R-22 was $180 for a tank about the size of a propane BBQ tank. This spring, the same tank cost me $400 wholesale here in Baltimore. The tank has enough R-22 to recharge a bunch of AC units, so if your AC guy tells you he needed a whole tank of R-22 to recharge your one AC unit, it’s time for either a new AC or a new AC repair guy. The EPA is phasing out R-22 between now and 2030, limiting its production every year. When R-22 leaks out into the atmosphere, it eats a hole in the earth’s ozone layer. Limited supplies of new R-22 equal rising prices, so expect the cost of recharging a leaking AC to continue going up, rather than down, until you replace your current system with one that uses R-410A. The shortage of R-22 may be bad news for your wallet, but it’s good news for the environment, because the higher the price of R-22 goes, the more worthwhile it is for an AC repair person removing an old unit to capture and...

Friday Five: States Reach $26B Settlement with Banks

By: Gavin Mathis A settlement on foreclosure fraud and a positive outlook for housing in 2012 are in the news this week. State and federal officials finally reached a landmark $26 billion settlement on Thursday with five of the nation’s largest banks for fraudulent lending practices. The lengthy negotiations came to a close after the attorneys general of California and New York joined more than 40 other states on the proposed settlement. With news of continued low mortgage rates and a positive housing outlook for 2012, the settlement came on top of an already-good news week for home owners. The New York Times: States Negotiate $26 Billion Agreement for Homeowners After months of painstaking talks, government authorities and five of the nation’s biggest banks have agreed to a $26 billion settlement that could provide relief to nearly 2 million current and former American home owners. It’s part of a broad national settlement aimed at halting the housing market’s downward slide and holding the banks accountable for foreclosure abuses. Bloomberg: Banks Paying Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures Banks, accelerating efforts to move troubled mortgages off their books, are offering as much as $35,000 or more in cash to delinquent home owners to sell their properties for less than they owe. Wall Street Journal (Developments): Fannie Mae: Outlook for Home Prices Rises Again The consumer outlook for U.S. home prices improved again in January, extending a recent upward trend in housing market sentiment, according to mortgage market firm Fannie Mae. Views on the direction of the U.S. economy also continued to improve. Property Casualty 360: Multiple Industries Join Together to Urge Long-Term NFIP Extension The insurance and other industries affected by...