Monday, May 26, 2008

Wallingford Electric Customers Get Double Jolt

Wallingford residents are about to get a double jolt when two increases to their electric rates go into effect. The summer rate increase, made during May to October, will add $7.46 to your monthly bill. But, because of the rising costs of wholesale energy, the Public Utilities Commission has also approved an additional $11.41 increase to the bottom line. This amounts to an $18.87 increase to your monthly electric bill during the summer months. This total is for an "average" residential customer who uses 870 kilowatt hours of electricity. If you are good at conserving energy, you'll see a smaller increase; if you run all your electric appliances full tilt all the time, your rates will jump accordingly.

According to the Wallingford Electric Division, the price they pay for wholesale power has increased from $37.6 million in 2004 to $62.1 million in 2008. The division buys its power from a Norwich-based co-op of municipal power companies.

I don't know about you, but any time the price of something I can't do without goes up, I get a little testy. The cost of gas has been headed north of $4.00 for some time with no end in sight, taking a lot of other things with it, like food, transportation, leisure activities, etc. I suppose it was only a matter of time before electric rates jumped on the bandwagon. The summer rate hike is only temporary, of course; it should be lowered again once the peak energy season is over in October. But I sure don't have to like it.

So what do ya do to ease the pain? Here are a few tips to take the bite out of those increases:

  1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent ones. (Make sure you dispose of the fluorescent ones properly!)
  2. If you ain't using it, turn it off! This includes lights, TV, stereos, computers, appliances, transformers, chargers, AC, etc.
  3. Take shorter showers. Heating water can be up to half of your electric bill!
  4. Rinse dishes and do laundry in cold water.
  5. Open your curtains on cold days to let the sunshine help heat the room; close them on hot days to keep heat out and help increase the efficiency of your AC.
  6. Use ceiling fans correctly to draw cold air upwards through the room. (Cold air sinks, remember?)
  7. Line dry your clothes when possible.
  8. Use programmable thermostats. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away.
  9. Don't open the fridge door too often, and fill up the fridge with food. Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool.
  10. Lastly, if you're looking for energy-saving investments, use ENERGY STAR® appliances and windows, install a whole house fan, increase attic insulation, consider using window shading, fix faulty weather stripping and caulking, or use a more efficient AC unit.
While these tips (and there are many more) won't eliminate your energy drain, it could possibly lower it enough to where you can still enjoy the warm weather, and rate hikes be damned.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wallingford Landmark Goes Up In Flames

No more popovers. No more Sunday brunch. No more intimate dinners in the railroad car. The Yankee Silversmith Inn is no more.

On June 17, 2007, an electrical fire started in the historic building's attic. It was quickly extinguished, but the sprinkler system did more than just put out the fire. Pouring 25 gallons of water per minute into the attic, the sprinklers caused considerably more damage to the building than the fire. Ten months later, the owner of the restaurant, Ralph Mesite, announced that the once proud Wallingford landmark would not reopen.

In a press release, Mesite stated, "After more than 10 months of hope and consideration, we have nade a decision that is best for our family business. It was a decision that was difficult and one that we wish we did not have to make. The water damage was pretty severe. If it had been a small fire, we'd have been open by now. But with the amount of repairs that had to be done and the building code requirements that would have had to have be met, it just didn't make good business sense in this economic climate."

Opened in 1953 by Robert Meyer and purchased from him by Ralph Mesite's father, George, at a bankruptcy auction, the Yankee Silversmith Inn was well known for its hearty New England fare and its Victorian charm. People came from all over the state and the region to avail themselves of the fine cuisine and ambient atmosphere of the 146-year-old building. The Mesite family is considering putting either another restaurant on the site or a shopping plaza. There are plenty of both along the stretch of Route 5 where the Inn is situated, and another restaurant on the site might, to some, seem like sacrilege. Only time will tell.

Rest in peace, Yankee Silversmith Inn. You'll certainly be missed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can Your Home Be Broken Into? Watch This Video!

So, you just bought a new house, you're moved in and the first thing you do is change the locks. You're all secure now, right?

Not quite. It's scary to think that this can be so easy; luckily, prevention is easy as well. Watch the video below to see what I mean.

Special thanks to Colleen Kulikowski, a fellow realtor in western New York, for bringing this video to our attention.

The Harriman Team has your safety in mind; please take measures to ensure that your locks are "bump-proof" today!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UPDATE: What The Real Estate Consumer Wants From Your Blog

If you remember, I wrote a post and posed a question on BuzzDash a month ago to try to get a feeling for what the real estate consumer is looking for when they read a real estate blog. Well, the poll has expired and the results, meager though they are, are in. Keep in mind that the debate settled into roughly two camps: those for posting mainly real estate info, like listings and market updates, and those who maintain that the blog should be predominantly community information based.

From April 9th to May 9th, 36 intrepid souls cast their vote for what they want to see in a real estate blog, and it seems the proponents of real estate info have prevailed: 69%, or 25 out of 36 people, agreed that they look first and foremost for listings. Another 14% (5 people) were looking for real estate related news, while only 11% (4 people) look for community information first. Two people, perhaps frustrated Michigan or Florida primary voters looking for something to vote on that really counted, chose "Other" as the thing that drew their attention in real estate blogs. Poor Souls.

I was actually surprised by the low turnout for this hotly debated and thought-provoking question, especially since the real estate market (at least where I live) seems to be raising its rotting corpse from the dead. Maybe BuzzDash was the wrong place to ask the question, but they do get a lot of traffic to their Real Estate polls so I thought this issue might get some attention. I have placed a similar poll on PollDaddy to see if there is any interest generated there, but I'm not hopeful.

Speaking of Poll Daddy, there are a few polls there of minor interest. Some of the more popular ones are:

  1. Who is the most ubiquitous real estate blogger? (Jeff Turner leading with 37% of the 38 votes cast, Jay Thompson trailing with 21%)
  2. What is the most important service your real estate agent provides? (53% say "Listing my property in the MLS"), and my personal favorite submitted by the inimitable Broker Bryant,
  3. If I wrote a book about real estate, would you...(A. Want a hard copy, B. Want an e-book, C. Have no interest, D. Be very interested, or E. Throw it in the lake. The majority would want the hard copy, a testament to BB's stature in the
I got a kick out of those polls, but back to my own poll. An inquiring mind wants to a real estate blog reader, what kind of info do you most want to see in a blog? Listings? Community info? A balanced mix of the two, or something else all together? Be you a realtor or a potential buyer/seller, feel free to post a comment here and let us know how you feel about this issue. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make up a good excuse as to why I voted to throw BB's book in the lake...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Show Me The Money!

Well, we've been away for a while, but we're back now. We were just busy doing something that not too many agents in these parts are doing right now...selling real estate. Due to Pat's tireless efforts to keep food on our table and a roof over our heads, we now have 12 contracts in excess of $48,000 set to close in the next 6-8 weeks (yeah, we're in a down market). Not too shabby, right? I think I'll keep her. But I digress.

We're going a wee bit off-topic today because we wanted to let you know that we've come into, shall we say, a sum of money. And it was all quite unexpected, too. These e-mails just started popping into our inbox and before you know it, we're gazillionaires. We know you've seen them, too...the ones from the many lawyers you keep on retainer in Nigeria, Great Britain and various other countries; the e-mails from poor unfortunates whose husband/father/pet has died and left you a paltry 8-figure inheritance; the notices from those banks you consulted for reminding you to let them know where to send your multi-million dollar fees to. Those e-mails.

Well, we hate 'em but we've seen them in droves recently, so we decided to keep track of the next 50 that came to us, just to see who was being so generous and how long it would be before we could retire from real estate. So we kept track, and here are the results that have freed us from financial worry:

In six weeks, we have received official correspondence from no fewer than 27 bank officers, 10 executors, 7 lawyers, 5 lottery officials, and the Most Reverend Brother Mike Adams to tell us that we are the fortunate recipients of funds in the amount of - are you ready - 104,878,360GBP (which, at the current exchange rate, equals $206,960,880) and $318,544,000, for a grand total of $525,444,880. Over half a billion dollars! We are truly...blessed. Makes that $48,000 we mentioned earlier look like chump change, doesn't it? We hardly know where to begin spending this windfall, it's just too much to handle all at once. Vast wealth is truly humbling, and gives you a whole new perspective on life. It causes you to ask yourself what you can do for those less fortunate than you: the homeless, the destitute, the victims of disease, disaster, and sub-prime mortgages. Well, we know exactly what to do. We'll share the wealth.

Anybody out there need some money? Just let us know...we'll put you in touch with our priestly benefactor, Brother Mike Adams. Has he got a deal for you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mortgage Rate Update

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

All rate quotes are for a 60-day lock with 0 points

Conforming limits are up to a $417,000 loan limit*

30 yr conforming fixed: rate = 6.000% APR = 6.241%

15 yr conforming fixed: rate = 5.500% APR = 5.655%

7/1 yr conforming ARM: rate = 5.625% APR = 5.926%

5/1 yr conforming ARM: rate = 5.375% APR = 5.769%

3/1 yr conforming ARM: rate = 5.125% APR = 5.422%


Jumbo loan limits range from $417,001 to $650,000*

30 yr jumbo fixed: rate = 6.250% APR = 6.477%

15 yr jumbo fixed: rate = 5.750% APR = 5.922%

7/1 yr jumbo ARM: rate = **** APR = ****

5/1 yr jumbo ARM: rate = **** APR = ****

3/1 yr jumbo ARM: rate = **** APR = ****

*Conforming loan limits listed above are for a single-family owner occupied residence.
Courtesy of The Harriman Team