August Newsletter from Robbyn Battles

<br /> Personal Marketer<br />

to you by

Robbyn Battles

Robbyn Battles
The House Agent
(818) 249-7492

Battles Real Estate
2606 Foothill Blvd.
La Crescenta, CA 91214

Financial Benefits of Trees

In addition to making your property more attractive and improving the air quality around your house, trees provide substantial financial benefits as well. The U.S. Department of Energy says three properly placed trees can save you $100-$250 a year. Planted in the right places, trees can reduce your air conditioning needs by 30 percent and save 20-50 percent in heating costs, according to the USDA Forest Service. Plus, they can add an average of 10 percent to your home’s value.

Here are some do’s and don’ts from the National Association of REALTORS® online resource HouseLogic to help you get the most value from your trees.


  • Plant deciduous trees on the west side of your house to provide cooling shade in the summer and warming daylight in the winter — if they lose their leaves.
  • Plant evergreens on the north side of your home to block winter winds.
  • Think about the tree’s full-grown size and shape before you dig.


  • Plant below power lines. Falling trees and branches can cause power outages.
  • Plant too close to your home’s foundation. Roots can damage the foundation or block sewer lines.
  • Plant in a place that’s considered hazardous; it could actually lower the appraised value of your home. offers an online “Tree Wizard” to help you select the right tree for the right place, based on your location and Plant Hardiness Zone, soil conditions, height restrictions, and more.

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Also in this issue…
Enhanced Light Bulbs Offer More Than Illumination
Foreclosures Continue to Fall
The Boomerang Effect
5 Tips for Lowering Closing Costs

Enhanced Light Bulbs Offer More Than Illumination

Thanks to the advent of more efficient lighting options such as LEDs and CFLs, we don’t have to buy light bulbs nearly as often. While this is good news for us and our wallets, manufacturers are trying to figure out how to keep us buying their products. Their answer: adding value to their bulbs by providing extra features.

One of the first enhanced light bulbs was Philips’ Hue bulbs, which could be dimmed or adjusted via smartphone to create different color schemes. But more products are entering the market with an expanding variety of features. Several bulbs currently available online have built-in speakers that can be used with your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. Others have integrated Wi-Fi radios that can extend the reach of your router.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show highlighted some up-and-coming ideas: a bulb with a built-in security camera and Wi-Fi radio that would allow you to keep an eye on your house unobtrusively, and an LED bulb with a smoke detector that operates on its own battery in case the light is switched off or electricity is lost.

We’re still in the early days of enhanced light bulbs, so they aren’t as simple to use as they are sure to become in time. And, as with any new technology, they can be pricey — bulbs with built-in speakers range from $20-$50 each.

Energy-Efficient Light Bulb Primer

  • CFL (compact fluorescent lamp)
  • Uses 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent.
  • Life span of 7-14 years when used three hours per day.
  • Brightens slowly.
  • Frequent on/off cycles can shorten its life.
  • Most don’t work with dimmers, photocells, timers, or motion sensors.
  • Small amount of mercury is released when a bulb breaks, so they should be recycled, not thrown away.

LED (light emitting diode)

  • Uses slightly less energy than a CFL.
  • Life span of 18-46 years when used three hours per day.
  • Brightens instantly.
  • Many work with dimmers, photocells and timers; some work with motion sensors.
  • Typically, the most expensive option.


  • Uses 25 percent less energy than a standard incandescent.
  • Short life of a year or two.
  • Instant brightness.
  • Dimmable.

Foreclosures Continue to Fall

RealtyTrac’s Midyear U.S. Foreclosure Market Report revealed that foreclosure numbers continue to decline. For the first half of 2015, foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions, bank repossessions, and completed foreclosures — totaled 597,589. That’s down 3 percent from the first half of 2014, and 13 percent lower than the second half.

Foreclosure starts also keep falling, down 4 percent from the previous year to 304,439 — the lowest number in 10 years.

“U.S. foreclosure starts have not only returned to pre-housing crisis levels, they have fallen well below those pre-crisis levels and are still searching for a floor,” says Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac. “Loans originated in the last five years continue to perform better than historic norms, with tighter lending standards and more cautious borrower behavior acting as important guardrails for the real estate boom of the past three years.”

The Boomerang Effect

During the housing crisis, 7.3 million homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale. Now, seven to eight years later, the first wave of these potential “boomerang buyers” has passed through the conservative period of time needed to repair their credit, and they may be ready to buy another home.

Credit information company TransUnion estimates that about 700,000 buyers will become eligible for credit this year, with more than 2.2 million eligible by 2019. According to RealtyTrac, “The boomerang buyers represent a massive wave of potential pent-up demand that could shape the housing market in the short term even more dramatically.”

5 Tips for Lowering Closing Costs

Closing costs, which encompass everything from agent commissions to lender fees to appraisals, can add up fast. The Wall Street Journal suggests trying to reduce the amount you have to pay with the following tips.

1. Shop around. Lenders are required to provide a good-faith estimate within three days of a loan application. Apply with several lenders to compare origination fees.

2. Ask about relationship discounts. Some lenders offer discounts or reduced origination fees for their customers. So if you already have a relationship with a lender, find out if you can use your loyalty to your advantage.

3. Negotiate. Origination and lender fees can usually be negotiated. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or see if a lender will match the deal another is offering.

4. Hire your own attorney. If an attorney is needed at closing, lenders can appoint one to represent you, but you’re not required to use that person. If you choose to use a lawyer, you could save money by hiring your own.

5. Get your own title insurance. Some states require you to use a lender-selected title insurance provider. If your state doesn’t, you could save money by choosing your own.