4 Things You Need to Know When Buying or Selling Your Home

TipsBuyingSellingCWho doesn’t love a good scoop or a little insider information—as long as it’s legal?

And when it comes to buying or selling a home, it turns out that some of the very best tips—those that could line your pocket with green instead of dust bunnies—may only come from someone with Brian Williams’ imagination.

Want to know why, for example, your local Starbucks may be the greatest predictor of home-value appreciation? Then read on.

3 Warning Signs Your Homeowners Insurance May Go Up

InsuranceIncreaseCIf you’re worried that you’ll soon be paying more for your homeowners insurance, you may not be far off. In fact, that’s a more reasonable concern than, say, wondering whom Gwyneth Paltrow is consciously uncoupling from.

In fact in some states, premiums have risen so drastically—Texas being one of them, soaring 14.9 percent—that they’ve become a hot and controversial political topic. So, what causes a rate hike? The answer to this basic question lies in actuarial calculations, that is, insurance companies’ need to “collect enough money and pay only a few claims in order to make a profit after business expenses.” By understanding this premise, you may be able to avoid a hit.

Even If You’re Not a Movie Star, You Can Save on Your Energy Bills

Mortgage calculator. House, noney and document. If only we had Leonardo DiCaprio’s millions, we too could spend what amounts to a small fortune heating our mansions with solar panels without the worry of wondering whether the investment will ultimately cut down on our energy use. Sadly, we don’t have his millions. (Heavy sigh.)

Which means that most homeowners will have to forgo purchasing a $3,000 energy-efficient toilet (what’s a celeb’s L.A. mansion without at least one, right?), and instead have to look for more realistic ways to shave dollars off their heating bill this winter.

“Many of us don’t realize how much we are needlessly spending to keep warm,” says bankrate.com.

How Do You Cut Your Energy Bills? With the Help of Miley Cyrus, of Course

MileyEnergyBillsCIf twerking and foam fingers are not how you rang in the new year (ala Miley Cyrus), don’t abandon the 21-year-old completely because she may be able to help cut your energy bills this winter.

No, music’s newest bad girl and self-proclaimed provocateur is not likely to start tossing $100 bills from atop the Empire State Building, but read on for the tie-in.

According to a recent announcement by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), not only can 90 percent of homeowners look forward to higher heating bills through March, but it also turns out that the average price of electricity hit or matched record highs throughout last year.

Women Lead the Way in Making Decisions — Especially for the Home

DecisionRoofsCCarrie Bradshaw knows shoes. And according to experts, had she moved to the suburbs from New York City, she might actually know shingles as well. Ironically, (and as unlikely as it may seem), these two things — shoes and shingles — actually go together.

To explain, there is a shift going on when it comes to marketing to women. In fact, females make more than 80 percent of purchasing decisions, but it’s only recently that companies have begun embracing women consumers in ways that show they actually understand the societal changes taking place.

For Winter Roof Checkups, Start in the Attic

WinterAtticFriendCYou’re supposed to check your roof twice a year. You know this. But somehow you just never got around to it. Now the weather has turned sharply colder, and who relishes the idea of climbing up a ladder to check the health of your roof — even if it means saving a few dollars on your heating bill, since the roof is the key to a home’s energy efficiency?

As it turns out, while even a quick, eyeball roof check from ground level is recommended this time of year, there is another way.

You could climb into your attic instead.

Rev Up Your Retirement: Get the Best Price for Your Home

FinanceRetirementCEven if your retirement seems far away, it’s never too early to think about retirement funds. For many people, retirement means selling their current home.

Data from a recent survey show that more than half of the baby boomer generation plan to sell their current homes as part of their retirement. If selling your home is on your retirement agenda, a little thought now about how to get the best price can make a big difference when it’s time to put it on the market.

Here are some small steps that can pay off in a big way:

Selling Your House? Which Improvements Are Worth It?

If you’re planning to put your house on the market, you may be considering some home improvements. Data suggest that certain upgrades to your home can help lure picky potential buyers seeking added value for their higher mortgage payments.

How can you make your home more appealing to buyers without breaking your budget? Read on to see which improvements are worth the money, and which aren’t.

Not Worth It

•    Special setups for home-based workers. Although more and more people are working from home, splurging to rewire your house with that in mind isn’t worth it; data show less than a 50 percent return on your investment.

Some Responses Surprise When People Answer What They Treasure Most

What do you treasure most under your roof?

The query is meant to give you some pause, but the question, along with tons of heartfelt answers and comedic photos, is making laps on Facebook as more homeowners join the conversation. Some answers are pretty telling of certain American values, like the emphasis on family and pets. Some of the other responses, however, were surprising, and all were revealing.

S.J. Williams of Vail, Ariz., named his ‘69 Chevrolet Longbed Stepside truck as his most treasured item. “It’s been in my family for 25 years and is the last of a 24-car collection.”

Lessons to Remember for the Next Superstorm

If Hurricane Sandy taught us anything, it’s this: Almost anyone can suddenly wind up living like a caveman for days or weeks on end.

Geography didn’t matter. (Huge swaths of New York City, not normally associated with ferocious weather systems, lost power, heat and hot water.) Neither did social status. (Homes of the rich and poor along the Eastern seaboard were equally devastated.)

Here are some lessons learned from the superstorm to help protect you from becoming a future statistic: