Real Estate: Home improvements provide sound investment

According to national statistics, new home sales are down, and existing home values have dropped. That makes home ownership a confusing investment. Should you buy, sell, or hold tight in your current home?

A home is often the single largest investment for a person or family, so the importance of making good decisions as a homeowner can’t be overstated.

Many Americans are choosing to stay in their current house and make improvements that enhance their home’s comfort and beauty. Others are investing in their homes to sell at the best price when the market improves.

Replacing inefficient windows saves heating/cooling dollars for people who plan to stay in their homes. They also build the resale value of a home, no matter what the homeowner’s selling timeline may be. Craig Evanich, president of Renewal by Andersen, says current economic factors reinforce why replacement windows are a sound investment. “Heating prices remain at or near historic highs, and average home prices have fallen back recently,” he explains. “Replacing windows is a smart home improvement option when you consider how it can address the challenges of both economic realities.”

Saving energy dollars

While energy prices aren’t increasing as much as they have in the past couple of years, they still remain high. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, replacing poor-performing windows can save up to 40 percent of heating energy in winter alone. When you consider that ENERGY STAR estimates the average American household spends $1,900 annually on energy bills, the dollars can quickly add up.

The federal government is doing its part to promote the use of energy-efficient windows. People who purchase and install qualifying windows and doors in 2006 or 2007 may be eligible to receive a one-time credit of up to $500 on their federal income tax.

Improvements in window quality have also helped promote energy savings in recent years. According to Evanich, every Renewal by Andersen window comes standard with High-Performance Low-E4 glass that helps reflect heat back to its source. This glass is 64 percent more energy efficient than ordinary single-pane windows and 35 percent more energy efficient than ordinary double-pane windows in winter.

Building home value

More than 1 million homes are renovated or remodeled each year, so keeping homes up to date is important. While some buyers are interested only in aesthetic improvements, most are also interested in improvements that offer day-to-day comfort. Replacement windows offer both.

Convenience is a key feature of many new windows. Renewal by Andersen replacement windows made with Fibrex framing material, for example, do not require upkeep such as ongoing scraping and painting. And its High-Performance Low-E4 glass reduces exterior water spots by 99 percent when activated by sunlight.

As for home value, Remodeling magazine estimates a homeowner may recoup 83.7 percent of the cost of installing low-maintenance replacement windows at resale. That means on an $8,000 window replacement project, homeowners may recoup $6,696 at time of sale.

Finding the right replacement windows

Evanich suggests shopping for quality windows that enhance your home.

Other tips include the following:

Look for the ENERGY STAR label. Products with the ENERGY STAR label can help you achieve substantial savings on heating and cooling costs.

Look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. It means the window’s performance is certified and provides an “apples-to-apples” comparison between products.

Check the U-Factor (a window with a lower U-Factor has better insulation properties—in colder climates, a factor of 0.35 or lower is recommended).

Make sure windows are properly installed to provide long-term energy efficiency.

Courtesy of ARA Content

from the March 14-20, 2007, issue

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