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Preparing Your Home for Summer

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The calendar may claim summer begins on June 21st, but for most of us, it’s already fully in gear. Kids are getting out of school, families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbecues are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following are a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process. Outdoor Spaces Gardening– It’s not too late to start your garden!  If you’re thinking of getting your green thumb engaged, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season. Outdoor living– My home has an outdoor space that, like many, suffers in the grey of winter and the rainy spring. To get it properly in the summer spirit I need to get it prepped for hosting. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbeque. BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners. Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges. Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen. Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool get this ready for a summer season of fun in the sun, (unless you are lucky enough to enjoy your pool year-round). Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out! Summerize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather […]

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Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

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Spring is right around the corner. If you have cabin fever from being inside, cleaning and freshening up your house can help you get through this last month of winter and be ready to get outside when spring arrives. Once you check these items off your to-do list, you’ll be able to relax by the fire with a good book and enjoy the last weeks of winter. Mop entryway floors. Clean your floors regularly to prevent damage from road salt and melting snow. Place a basket of old towels near the door to wipe up water and salt as soon as it is tracked inside. Rotate or flip your mattress. Extend the life and comfort of your mattress by flipping or rotating it. At the same time, vacuum box springs and the mattress to eliminate allergy causing dust- mites. Organize your laundry room. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from the ridges in your washer. Throw away laundry products you never use and replace damaged sorting bins. Clean out your spice cabinet. Throw away expired spices and other seasonings, which may not only lose their taste, but could harbor mold and bacteria. Sanitize hand-held devices. Prevent germs that cause the spread of colds and the flu by disinfecting your phone, remote controls, tablets, as well as your door and cabinet knobs. Dust blinds, ceiling fans and fixtures. Wipe down or use a feather duster to remove the dirt that builds up on blinds, ceiling fans, light fixtures other small electronics. Add color to your table. Treat yourself to some fresh flowers to add cheer to your kitchen table while waiting for spring blooms to make their first appearance. Plan your summer vacation. Reserve your vacation home now to get the best selection of available properties. Start your planning today at Long & Foster’s Vacation Rentals website.

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Empty Nesters: Remodel or Sell?

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Your kids have moved out and now you’re living in a big house with way more space than you need. You have two choices – remodel your existing home or move. Here are some things to consider about each option. Choice No. 1: Remodel your existing home to better fit your current needs. Remodeling gives you lots of options, but some choices can reduce the value of your home. You can combine two bedrooms into a master suite or change another bedroom into a spa area. But reducing the number of bedrooms can dramatically decrease the value of your house when you go to sell, making it much less desirable to a typical buyer with a family. The ROI on remodeling is generally poor. You should remodel because it’s something that makes your home more appealing for you, not because you want to increase the value of your home. According to a recent study, on average you’ll recoup just 64 percent of a remodeling project’s investment when you go to sell. Remodeling is stressful. Living in a construction zone is no fun, and an extensive remodel may mean that you have to move out of your home for a while. Staying on budget is also challenging. Remodels often end up taking much more time and much more money than homeowners expect. Choice No. 2: Sell your existing home and buy your empty nest dream home. You can downsize to a single-level residence and upsize your lifestyle. Many people planning for their later years prefer a home that is all on one level and has less square footage. But downsizing doesn’t mean scrimping. You may be able to funnel the proceeds of the sale of your existing home into a great view or high-end amenities. A “lock-and-leave” home offers more freedom. As your time becomes more flexible, you may want to travel more. Or maybe you’d like to spend winters in a sunnier climate. You may want to trade your existing home for the security and low maintenance of condominium living. There has never been a better time to sell. Our area is one of the top in the country for sellers to get the greatest return on investment. Real estate is cyclical, so the current boom is bound to moderate at some point. If you’re thinking about selling, take advantage of this strong seller’s market and do it now. Bottom […]

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Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Buy a Home

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If you’ve been looking to buy a house, it’s easy to get discouraged. With our local real estate market still the hottest in the country, a lot of buyers have become frustrated after losing out to multiple offers and all-cash sales. While some buyers are considering waiting out the market, here is why that’s not a wise move. 1. Historically, this time of the year is the best time to buy a home. The fourth quarter of the year has always seen the lowest demand for home sales. Kids are back in school. The holiday season is gearing up. It’s just not the time of year when people want to uproot their lives and move into a new home. That all changes in a few months. The market traditionally experiences the highest demand and the lowest inventory of the year between January and May. Your best bet is to make an offer now. 2. Home prices are expected to increase next year. A booming economy, rising population, and an influx of highly-paid workers are all expected to sustain the strong demand for housing through 2018. While the sharp home price increases of the past few years are expected to moderate, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner predicts that home prices will increase by 9 percent next year. 3. Interest rates are predicted to rise. Waiting means you’ll get less house for your money. It’s all about the One in Ten Rule. As Matthew Gardner explains, for every 1 percent increase in mortgage rates your buying power decreases by 10 percent. Even if home prices are flat a year from now (which is not expected), an increase in interest rates means you’ll have to borrow more money to buy the same house. With home valuations at high levels today, buyers should consider three things before they purchase a home: Can I afford the monthly payments, do I like the location, and am I planning to live in the home for at least five years? If you decide to move forward, your real estate agent can make the difference between winning the deal or not. Here’s what sets me apart: I will position your offer to have the greatest appeal to the seller (and sometimes that’s not just a higher price). I receive extensive training on how to create the most competitive offer and negotiate successfully in a multiple-offer situation. Other agents are […]

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At Home in the Outdoors

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More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider: DECK Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment (see the Tips column for data). Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much. Expanding and reconfiguring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity. PATIO Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping. Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built. GAZEBO For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional). Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings. OUTDOOR KITCHEN People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen […]

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Here’s Your Spring Maintenance Checklist

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Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance: Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage. Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation. Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise household spiders do help eliminate other bugs. Check your basement and attic for signs of other infestations. For more information on pest control go here: http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/categories/living/posts/when-things-go-bump-in-the-night HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay. Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way! Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice work out and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up. Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space. Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon. Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up […]

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What Buyers Want Today

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The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Here are a few items about buyers that I thought you’d find interesting. • The top reason buyers purchase a home is they want a place of their own. • Buyers chose homes fairly close to their last residence. In our region, buyers purchase a home within a 13 mile radius of their last residence. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let’s talk! I will help you successfully navigate the Seattle housing market.

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How Seller Gridlock is Controlling Seattle’s Housing Market

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The typical winter cooldown is over and it seems like a scorching spring housing market is already underway in the greater Seattle area. Recent statistics reported by The Seattle Times show “home prices in Seattle have nearly doubled over the last five years,” while the number of homes for sale has hit its lowest point since available records began in 2000. Home prices in King County jumped up 6.7 percent last month from the month before giving us the biggest one-month jump since early 2015 according to The Seattle Times. The biggest increase, the report continues, hit the suburbs. This sharp increase comes after a few months of slower price growth that is typical of winter months. Does this symbolize an early start to the spring market? When you combine these high prices with low inventory, an abysmal 1,400 homes available across King County last month, it would seem so. Our inventory has become so low that fewer people are even wanting to sell their homes. KOMO News reports that our housing market is now facing “seller gridlock” because owners are not selling since they do not have any good options available for buying or upgrading their homes. KOMO also explains homes are being purchased faster than new listings can even hit the market. According to the same article, not many expect the typical springtime increase in inventory to meet the demand our area is currently facing and could be facing for some time. Key advice many are sharing is to get started in the spring market sooner rather than later. Right now is the perfect time for sellers to get the most out of their home and take advantage of current market conditions. Read more from The Seattle Times and KOMO News.

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New Features vs. Character

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We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes: The neighborhood Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits. Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors. New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well. Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways). Design and layout If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available. Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts. If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open. Materials and craftsmanship Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.). However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building […]

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The Perfect Storm for Home Sellers

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Thinking of listing your home? Sellers today stand to benefit from a perfect storm of market conditions that are delivering the greatest possible return on investment.    Record-Low Inventory: Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County last month, an all-time low. Record High Prices: Prices are at historic highs, and are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. So, why not just wait and see if prices go even higher?  Just like with the stock market, it’s impossible to time the housing market. However, experts have predicted price increases to slow this year, and prices here are already showing signs of moderating. In addition, interest rates are expected to go up this year. A majority of the members of the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting board predict there will be three more increases coming in 2017. These increases will cause mortgage rates to rise, which means buyers will only qualify for less expensive homes. This reduced purchasing power starts slowing buyer demand. It’s the perfect time to list your home. Are ready to get started? I can prepare a valuation of your home based on current market conditions, walk you through the process, and answer any questions you may have.

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