Monthly Archives: September 2013



Homeownership as a priority is on the upswing. And a look back shows perceptions about owning weren’t as negative during the recession as the media suggested.

Americans have favored buying over renting, even during the recent Great Recession, and this year is no different. The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey, by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, found Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision, and a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future.

During the recession, much media coverage of homeownership focused on the idea that lots of people thought renting was much smarter than buying. But that wasn’t necessarily the case as a look back shows.

The decline in home prices and turmoil in the housing markets did influence consumers’ perception of housing as a sound investment — but not by nearly as much as the media made it appear.

From 2007 to 2011, based on earlier Pulse surveys, the share of people who thought buying a home was a good financial decision dropped from about 85% to 73% and the share of people who were “not so strongly” positive grew. By 2013, we’re back to 80% thinking homeownership is a sound financial decision.

You can interpret that dip two ways. Some would say homeowners were resilient as prices declined. Others would say the recession was a wake up call for investors who viewed the real estate market as a short-term investment.

Regardless of which way you see it, most of us have returned to the much more realistic viewpoint that real estate is a solid, if long-term, investment.

This year’s Home Pulse survey also found:

Eight in 10 Americans think buying a home is a good financial decision.
68% believe now is a good time to buy a home.
36% of renters are now thinking about purchasing a home, up from 25% last year.
The proportion of renters who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31% to 25%.
Half of renters say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up to 51% from 42%.
Those renters should be in a good position to buy given that home prices are pretty affordable (unless you’re a bus driver in San Francisco). Rising interest rates could come into play, but anything around 6% looks good compared with the double-digit interest rates of the 1980s.

Attitudes toward the housing market have also improved over the years. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38%) said their local market was more active this year, compared with 51% of people who reported a slowdown in local activity last year.

There is also less concern than in the past about the drop in home values; almost half (49%) said housing prices in their area are more expensive than a year ago.



Repair or Replace Your Old Windows?

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: August 29, 2013

Repair is usually the smarter way to go — especially if you’re seeking energy savings. Here’s a guide to help you decide.

Think again. That’s one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make: Believing that the cost of new windows is worth it because of energy savings.

New windows aren’t the best cure for reducing your energy bills. Simpler and significantly cheaper projects, such as sealing all your home’s air leaks, will have much more impact.

Related: Take Back Your Energy Bills

But if energy savings isn’t the only reason you’re considering new windows, our repair-or-replace guide below will help you decide which way to go.

Oh, and another tip: If your home has lots of vintage features, new windows may actually reduce the price you could get when it’s time to sell.


Rotting Wood

  • Symptoms: Rotten frames, sashes and/or muntins (dividers) that allow water and air leaks into your house.
  • Cause: Wood deteriorates when it’s primed or painted incorrectly, seasoned insufficiently, or exposed to wet and humid weather consistently. Sprinklers that blast windows regularly also can cause rot.
  • Cost to repair: Depends on how much rot you’ve got. You can patch small areas with epoxy ($25). A handyman service can replace a rotten sill for $90-$250 (plus materials). Rotten frames require removing the window and rebuilding, which will cost as much as most window replacements ($300-$700).
  • Repair or replace? Repair if the damage is spotty. Replace if the frames are thoroughly rotten. Although, make sure you take a good look; they often look worse than they are.

Broken Panes

  • Symptoms: Cracks, scratches, or chips.
  • Cause: Johnny’s home run, storm damage, abrasive cleaners.
  • Cost to repair: Replacement glass, $3-$14/sq. ft.; hiring a handyman to install glass, $100-$300; replacing sash (the frame that holds the glass), $40-$250 (vinyl).
  • Repair or replace? Replace inexpensive vinyl windows. Repair vintage, aluminum-clad, and multi-pane custom windows that could cost upwards of $500 each to replace.

Broken Seals

  • Symptoms: Foggy condensation or streaks between double or triple panes. Also known as “blown” windows.
  • Cause: Heat induced contractions and expansions eventually destroy seals, promoting condensation between panes and/or exposing low-emissivity coatings and insulating gas to air (oxidizing).
  • Cost to repair: Once a seal is broken, it’s hard to save the pane. New gizmos promise to de-fog the glass with solutions and valves, but online reviews seem unhappy with the results. The most practical and permanent fix is to replace the pane or the entire sash.
  • Repair or replace? Repair. Installing a new sash ($40-$250) is a quick and easy repair that preserves the frame and renews the life of the window.

Cranky Windows

  • Symptoms: Windows won’t open or operate smoothly.
  • Cause: Sashes painted shut, dirt and grit accumulate in track and balances, hardware breaks.
  • Cost to repair: Opening a painted-shut window usually requires breaking the paint seal with a putty knife, then scraping and sanding old paint and putty. Cleaning tracks, balances and hardware cost pennies, while a handyman can replace those parts for $50-$270.
  • Repair or replace? Repair, unless replacement parts on old windows are impossible to find. If they are, then you should replace.

Note: Windows installed prior to 1978 may be covered with toxic lead paint, so hire a professional for safety reasons.

Drafty Windows

  • Symptoms: Air rushes in and out of gaps in sashes, frames, and dividers.
  • Cause: Cracked and pealing caulking, old weather stripping, loose sash, rotted wood.
  • Cost to repair: As little as $1.75 for a tube of painter’s caulk to seal gaps; weather stripping ($8/10 feet); or as much as $40-$250 to replace a sash. See above for rotted wood.
  • Repair or Replace? Repair. Even if you replaced all the windows in your house with energy efficient windows, you’d only see an average of 7-15% savings on your energy bill. But if you seal the leaks in your windows, plus other leaks in your home, you can save 10-20% on your energy bills. But the real savings is the money you didn’t spend on replacement windows.

More Tips on Saving Money by Repairing Windows
Tips on Choosing Energy Efficient WindowsImage