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July
18

Furniture Arranging Tips for Every Room

Furniture Tips

No matter your style, arranging your furniture in just the right way can turn a house into a home. When you use furniture arranging tricks from top designers, your rooms will look more spacious and inviting. Our brokers know a thing or two about presenting your space to look its best!

We know: Sometimes, nothing less than more space will do. Most of the time, though, you can give any room in your home a new lease on life by applying the techniques of interior decorating. It's easier than you might think – and if you have an afternoon to spend, it can be a lot of fun.

Let's take a closer look at furniture arranging insights that make a difference:

  • Choose a Focal Point
    Every room should have a single focal point. The focal point is where attention naturally flows. It helps to put the rest of the room in the right context. Sometimes, the focal point is obvious, such as a large window or fireplace. Otherwise, you can create one yourself and arrange other items around it.

  • Create Conversation Areas
    Think about how the space is intended to be used and how you can make social engagement easier. This is especially important in shared areas like the living room and dining room. Seating should be planned so everyone can participate comfortably and easily without raising one's voice or moving around.

  • Look for Balance and Harmony
    Balance is a key element that helps determine whether, when all is said and done, the pieces you put in a space will look "right." It can be hard to see balance while you're working on it, so be sure to examine each furniture item in terms of its size and placement. This way, a room won't be "lopsided."

  • Consider the Flow of Foot Traffic
    A thoughtful approach to traffic flow is essential for enabling a space to be "lived in" in an organic way. There must be enough room between items for people to pass between them, and this becomes even more critical in areas with high traffic. Leave a couple of feet between tables and chairs, too.

  • Roll Out Rugs for Emphasis
    The unspoken rule of area rugs is that when a rug is used in a space, it should be large enough so all the seating in that space fits comfortably on the rug. There's some leeway here for larger pieces, where the back legs can sit on the room's flooring if necessary to balance the load.

  • Don't Underestimate the Coffee Table
    Unlike so many other items you might want to introduce into a space, bigger really is better when it comes to a coffee table. The coffee table is both aesthetic and functional. It acts as the natural focal point of the room and also serves as a social oasis, particularly when visitors drop in.

  • Space Your Tables Appropriately
    Wherever you have coffee tables or side tables, you should have seating and vice versa. No seat should be without access to a table. Tables should be placed at approximately arm's length. With side tables, a height comparable to nearby chair arms is best; for coffee tables, a bit lower than the nearest seating.

  • Use Light to Your Advantage
    Natural lighting has a stupendous ability to make a room seem larger. Trade heavy window coverings for lighter ones, and you'll not only get more light but make the room appear warmer and more calming. Mix up overhead lighting, floor lamps, table lamps, and sconces to avoid pools of darkness in a room.

  • Introduce Art into Your Space
    Artwork, mirrors, and sculptural items can all go on your walls. Of these, the special reflective qualities of mirrors are best for enlarging a space. Every item you hang on the wall should be in proportion to the furniture item it hangs over or near, with selections of wall space chosen strategically for best effect.

  • Avoid Furniture Against the Wall
    When you desire to make the most of every inch of space in your home, it's only natural you might feel the temptation to move furniture items up against the wall. Even in a smaller room, the overall effect of furnishings is enhanced by leaving a few inches between their feet and the nearest wall or walls.

  • Bring it All Together
    As you coordinate your space, work with one small part of the room at a time. Step back frequently to assess how things are coming together, but try not to worry. You may not be totally sure about what's going well (or not) until you are done. Once you have the full picture, always feel free to change your mind. It's your space, so enjoy it your way.

Contact us to learn more about your local real estate opportunities.

April
25

Where to Display Your Indoor Plants

Indoor Plant Tips

If you're searching for a simple way to add natural beauty to your home and freshen your air, houseplants are an essential addition to your home. Houseplants absorb carbon dioxide and add oxygen to your home's air, working to remove toxins from your home. Our brokers know that having indoor plants also makes your home more inviting and appealing to potential homebuyers.  

However, it can be a little tricky incorporating plants into your home's existing decor. You also need to consider any specific needs for your houseplant, like whether it prefers a sunny or dark space. Here are some of the best spots to display your indoor plants. 

  1. Hang Plants in Front of Your Windows
    Perhaps you're short on floor space or don't have a lot of surfaces to devote to your houseplants. It's possible to add plants to your home without them taking up a lot of surface space. Add a hook to your ceiling or a plant hanger to your wall to hang your plants in front of a window. This is an excellent option for plants that thrive in a sunny environment. Plants with lots of volume and overflowing leaves will also add texture and visual interest to your home. 
  1. Use a Plant as a Centerpiece
    Searching for a fresh look for your table's centerpiece? Turn a houseplant into your dining area's focal point! Make sure to display the plant in a lovely planter or vase that coordinates with the room's existing decor. Or, if you feel like the plant on its own isn't enough, situate it on a decorative lazy Susan or a gorgeous tabletop tray. 
  1. Place the Plant by Your Home's Front Door
    A houseplant is an excellent piece of decor for greeting guests. Not only do houseplants instantly create welcoming decor, but they help remove odors from the air so that your home smells its best. Consider incorporating houseplants into your foyer or entryway decor for the odor-busting benefits and to make potential guests feel peaceful and at ease when they enter the home. 
  1. Situate Plants Around Your Fireplace
    During periods when you don't plan on using your fireplace or if you have a non-functioning fireplace, your fireplace's hearth and mantle are terrific spots for your houseplants to call home. Since a fireplace already adds a cozy touch to your home, make the space even more tranquil with your houseplants. You can place small houseplants and succulents along the mantle. Larger plants placed in decorative planters can adorn the hearth. Consider adding in other nature-inspired pieces, like decorative stones, seashells, and woven baskets, to add more interest to the space. 
  1. Devote a Corner to Your Houseplants
    If you have a free corner that you don't know how to utilize, transform it into an area for your plants. A metal beverage cart fits comfortably in the corner and can coordinate with practically any type of decor. You can use it to hold multiple plants or integrate the plants with other decorative items. Or, add some floating shelves to your corner walls and use them for smaller houseplants and succulents. 
  1. Decorate Your Windowsills
    Add visual interest to your windowsills by using them to hold succulents and small planters and vases. An additional benefit of housing plants with a windowsill is that it can help a room appear larger. Windowsills are a great home for plants that need sunny conditions to thrive. 
  1. Adorn the Top of Your Cabinets
    Cabinets that don't extend to your kitchen ceiling are a convenient spot for housing additional decor; they're an even better spot if you want to ensure that your kids and pets won't have easy access to your houseplants. This is also a fantastic spot for plants with vines or a lot of leaves that you need room to spread out. 

Want a home with more room for your plants or extra space outside for gardening? Contact us today to start your home search!

March
21

10 Things You Might Forget After a Move

Moving Tips

Moving to a new house can be a stressful and chaotic ordeal. You have a thousand different things to worry about. There's a good chance something will be forgotten.

Whether it's an item you didn't pack up or a task you neglected to do, it's not uncommon to get to your new home, only to say, "What happened to the ______?!" Here are some of the most common things people forget.

Often Forgotten Items and Tasks

  1. Important Documents
    This includes birth certificates, medical records, social security cards, etc. You only need to access them occasionally, so you put them away in a little-used space, where you can find them if you need them. Then during moving, you forget to check that little-used space, and it all gets left behind. They may be little-used, but they're also extremely important, and take a lot of time and money to get new copies of. Pack your important documents and records up well in advance of your move, to be sure you bring them with you.

  2. Valuables
    Do you have jewelry, valuable antiques, or even cash, hidden away for a rainy day? Maybe you're keeping something under a loose floorboard, or behind a panel in the wall. It's surprisingly common for people to leave their hidden valuables behind when they move. Wherever your "secret spot" is, don't forget to check it, and get everything out.

  3. Keys
    Keys are small, and easy to lose during a move. Take particular note of the keys you use that aren't on the keyring you carry with you, such as to cabinets, or safety deposit boxes. If they get lost or forgotten, at best it's a major hassle. At worst, it can be a disaster. Don't forget them. If you have any spare, hidden housekeys in the yard, collect those too, and give them to the new owners.

  4. Garden Tools
    While you're packing up everything in the house, don't forget the things in the garage, or in the yard. Is there a garden hose connected to an outdoor spigot? Shovels, spades, and rakes in the tool shed? Be sure to check your outdoor areas for forgotten items.

  5. Plants
    If you have any potted plants outdoors, it's easy to forget about them. The same goes for lawn ornaments. Anything that's not a permanent fixture of the yard, needs to be packed up and brought with you.

  6. Kitchen Appliances
    You've had your coffeemaker and microwave so long, it's like they're part of the decor. In your mind, you think of them as part of the kitchen, rather than belongings to be packed up. Then you get to your new home and realize this kitchen doesn't have a coffeemaker or microwave. That's because you left them behind.

  7. Dry Cleaning and Library Books
    If you're moving a long distance away, don't forget to take care of any local business before you go. Picking up your dry cleaning is a task that can fall by the wayside, as is returning library books. Then, when you're a thousand miles away, you suddenly realize you don't have your favorite suit, or you DO have the book your child did a book report on last month.

  8. Memberships
    If you pay for membership to any local clubs or facilities (e.g. a gym membership), see if there are branches near your new home, to which you can transfer your membership. If there's not, be sure to cancel, so you're not paying for a club you're too far away to attend.

  9. Mail and Bills
    Don't forget to make arrangements with the post office to forward your mail to your new address. Then, go through all the bills you receive at your current address and notify each of them of your new address. The last thing you want is unpaid bills or important letters that you didn't receive because they were sent to your old house.

  10. Healthcare
    Getting your prescription medication at a different pharmacy from your usual one can be a difficult process, and may take time. Don't wait until you run out of an important medication before making arrangements with a pharmacy in your new neighborhood. Take care of it ahead of time, so you don't have to deal with a gap in your medicine. It's also important to notify your doctor and your health insurance provider that you'll be moving. Depending on how far you're moving, you may need to switch doctors, or you may not be covered anymore by your current policy.

Forgetting things during a move is common, but if you have someone knowledgeable to help you, the ordeal becomes easier. Our brokers can guide you through the process and make it less chaotic, so you have more time to focus on the tasks above. Contact us and let us help you move into your dream house.

December
20

How to Sell Your Home in 2022

2022 Home Sale

If you've been thinking about selling your home, there's never been a better time to do it. Home prices have been surging to unprecedented highs all year. 

Many experts believe this trend will continue into 2022, so there is still plenty of time to capitalize on it. The good news is that selling your home is easy with the right professionals to guide you. Our helpful guide will walk you through the process one step at a time.  

  • Find a Broker 
    Finding a qualified real estate broker should be the first thing on your to-do list when preparing your home for the market. There are ways to sell your home independently these days, so some people decide to skip this step. This may sound like a good idea at first, but many of them come to regret that decision later on.  

    A real estate broker will take care of pricing, listing, and marketing your home – all of which you would otherwise have to do on your own. Their help will save you a lot of time and stress, and their expertise ensures that you get as much money as possible from the sale of your home.
     
  • Prepare Your Home for Sale 
    To get the best results when selling your home, you have to treat it like a product in a store: presentation is key. Here are a few things to do before your agent creates an official listing for your home.  
    • Declutter your space.
      Whether it's piles of half-read books, drinkware, or an impressive collection of chargers for your electronics, we all have some degree of clutter around our homes. When trying to sell your home, these things will only get in the way. Put them away and out of sight to keep the space clean, impersonal, and easy to navigate.
    • Switch to a neutral decor.
      Your home decor may match your tastes exactly, but it probably won't appeal to buyers. Do what you can to make the space look as neutral as possible. Remove posters and personal photos, store away any eclectic bits of furniture, and consider painting any rooms with bright or unconventional wall colors.
    • Get up to date on your maintenance tasks.
      Make sure that everything around the house is in good working order and looks presentable. Creating a maintenance schedule can help you stay on top of tasks if you think your home might be on the market for a while.  

  • Get Ready for Showings 
    Once you've drummed up some interest in your home, it's time to start showing it off to prospective buyers. Your broker will handle all the arrangements and scheduling considerations, so there's no need to worry about that. Instead, focus on getting your home and family ready.  

    Make sure you keep on top of your cleaning and have a place to go during showings. This can be difficult with kids, but it helps if you have a friend or family member living nearby who you can visit on short notice. 

  • Review Offers 
    After your home has been on the market for a while, you can move on to the fun part: reviewing your offers. The current market is extremely competitive for buyers, so you might have multiple offers to choose from. You might think it makes sense to just choose the highest one, and that may end up being true. However, there are a few other factors you should think about when weighing all of your offers.  
    • Are your buyers pre-approved by their bank? If they are, you can cut the closing process down by several days.
    • Have they asked for any concessions? 
    • Have they asked for a buyer's contingency?
    • What is the timeline on their offer? 

  • Close the Sale 
    Once you've decided which offer you will accept, it's time to let the buyers know and start working to finalize the deal. You'll have to take the home off the market, but you won't receive your funds right away. You will need to give the buyer time to inspect the property and decide if they really do want to go ahead with the purchase.  

    After financing matters are sorted out, you'll need to sign the title and escrow documents to finalize the sale. Once the buyers have been recognized as the official new owners and your money has been transferred to you, the process will be complete.  

  • Get Ready to Move 
    Remember, there is more to selling your home than completing the transaction: you also have to find a new place to live.  

    Whether you have another property ready to move into or plan to stay with friends or family for a while as you scout out a new place, you'll need to have all of your belongings cleared out before the new owners take possession of your home. If you need to go house-hunting yourself, with the right agent to help you, you're sure to find the right home for you.  

Selling your home could be your next big adventure in life - are you ready to get started? Our brokers can help you sell your current home and find a new one that suits your needs. Contact us today. 

November
29

How to Navigate a Competitive Real Estate Market

Competitive MarketHomes are selling very quickly! Securing a home in a competitive market can feel challenging, if not impossible. Below, we've rounded a few tips to give you the best chance possible at getting your dream home in the competitive market. Following our guide and working with our brokers will help you stay ahead of the pack and position yourself as a potential buyer.

  • Get Pre-Approved
    Before you even begin house hunting, get a pre-approval letter from a lender. Shopping with a pre-approval in hand shows sellers a lender has verified your income, creditworthiness, and other numbers, and you have the capacity to buy their house. A pre-approval letter will communicate that you're a serious buyer. If there are several offers on the table, interested parties without financing could be tossed out. Pre-approval qualifies you for financing and gives you a competitive edge. And keep in mind that pre-qualification is not the same as pre-approval.

  • List Your Needs and Wants
    Now is the time to break out a notepad and start making a list of your needs and wants. Needs are non-negotiable features that your next home must have. Wants are features you'd like your next home to have but would be willing to sacrifice if you find a good home. For example, you may need a large backyard for your children or pets. You may prefer hardwood floors or an updated kitchen, but those may not be deal-breakers. Knowing your non-negotiable items will help determine whether a home meets your minimum requirements. If it does, you'll be able to act quickly and make an offer in today's competitive market.

  • Find a Great Real Estate Agent
    A great real estate broker is your secret weapon when buying a home in a competitive market. Not only do they have a solid understanding of the current market and the neighborhood you're interested in, but they also have terrific connections and great negotiations skills, which will work to your advantage. Before you hire a broker, be sure to get referrals, check online reviews, contact several recent clients, and find out their experience. When you have a list of at least five contenders, ask important questions. The inside knowledge of an excellent broker can put you on the fast track to success.

  • Look for Homes Under Your Budget
    In a competitive market, you can expect to compete against multiple or dozens of bidders on one home. As such, it may not be a good idea to look for homes at the top of your budget because chances are another person will outbid you. A good strategy is to look for homes that are below your budget so you can have room to offer above the asking price without going outside your target price point or dipping into your savings. You may also consider an escalation clause, which states that you'll put your bid at a certain price point higher than other competing bids – but make sure you know when to stop.

  • Be Ready to Move Fast
    Once you've found a home that ticks the boxes in your needs list, put in an offer right away before someone snatches it up. Your offer should include all relevant information, forms, and disclosures the seller will need to make a decision. An incomplete offer could end up in the trash in a multiple offer situation. Pay attention to details and make sure your offer is complete. Your agent will be happy to help you draft your offer and have your negotiating strategies at the ready. Also, know how high you're willing to go if there are other offers and be ready to make tough decisions quickly and decisively.

  • Make a Large Down Payment
    Making a sizeable down payment is another way to strengthen your offer. Of course, you should save up enough for a down payment when buying a home, but it's more important than ever to do so when buying in a competitive market. You want to show the seller that you are serious, can afford the home, and is ready to put your money where your mouth is.

  • Keep Trying
    A competitive market could mean that you "lose" a few homes to other buyers. Home inventory is remarkably low and homes tend to sell remarkably quickly when they come on the market. If your offer isn't accepted, do not be discouraged. Keep searching and putting in offers until you're able to find a home that you love.

If you're ready to buy a home in the Pacific Northwest, Coldwell Banker Bain can help. We put our knowledge, skills, and experience on your side to help you find the perfect place to call home. Contact us today to get started.

September
27

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Fall Tips

Fall is here! And with it comes fall weather. So it's time to pay attention to home maintenance and repairs. If you're thinking about selling your home in the near future, our brokers can offer advice on important fall maintenance tips.

In the Pacific Northwest, the fall season is the beginning of chilly temperatures, heavy rainfall, and snow and ice. Preparing your home with necessary maintenance before cold weather sets in will protect against costly damages and keep your family warm and comfortable. Take a look at 10 fall maintenance tips that you should not ignore:

  1. Check Your Roof
    Look for damaged or missing roof shingles that may lead to water leaks in the attic and the walls. Water leaks can cause a variety of costly damages including rotten beams, ruined insulation, and dangerous black mold that is toxic.

  2. Clean Out Your Gutters
    While you have your ladder handy, clean out your gutters and downspouts. A shop vac works great for removing dirt, debris, and leaves, but if you don't have one try an old plastic spatula. It's considerably slower but it won't scratch your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause roof and siding leaks, as well as foul-smelling standing water that attracts mosquitoes and insects.

  3. Mow Your Lawn Shorter
    When temperatures start dropping, it's best to mow your lawn with a shorter cut. After you rake up dead leaves and debris, set your mower to cut the grass at 1-1/2 to 2 inches high. This will prevent tall grass and weeds from smothering new spring growth and reduce the chance of unwanted lawn pests and mold that often forms on snow.

  4. Prepare Your Lawn for Winter
    After mowing the yard, prep your lawn for winter weather with fertilizer and water. Choose a fertilizer that's labeled 4-1-2 with good nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels to help grass store nutrients. If you have sprinklers, give your lawn a good soaking, check sprinkler pipes and heads for leaks, and wrap your above-ground pipes with insulation before freezing temperatures arrive.

  5. Clean Out Your Chimney
    There's nothing like a warm roaring fire in freezing winter temperatures to keep your family cozy. Fall means it's time to call a professional to inspect and clean your chimney and test your fireplace flue for a tight seal that eliminates drafts. For added protection, invest in a chimney screen to prevent birds and squirrels from building nests because they look for safe, warm winter homes in the winter.

  6. Touch Up Your Exterior Paint
    If your house needs a paint job, take care of this task before winter. Paint doesn't handle extreme hot or cold temperatures well, even if it's outdoor paint. In freezing temperatures, paint gets very thick and doesn't spread evenly with rollers or brushes. Cold weather also prevents the paint from drying properly, so anything that blows into your house can stick to or leave ugly marks in the paint.

  7. Service Your Heating System
    If you're like most homeowners, you likely have a central heating and air conditioning system. To ensure heat during winter weather, schedule a fall appointment with a professional HVAC technician to inspect and clean your furnace unit, usually located in the garage or a hall closet. Since your heat hasn't been turned on in a year or so, it's essential to ensure that your burner isn't leaking carbon monoxide.

  8. Check Windows and Doors
    During the fall, inspect your windows and doors for unwanted drafts. Add weatherstripping to ensure tight seals, inspect and replace any damaged glass in windows and sliders, and replace or repair any damaged window or door frames. Drafts will make your home chillier during winter and your heating bills will be higher from running your furnace around the clock.

  9. Clean Heating and Dryer Vents
    Dirty vents obstruct proper airflow. Clogged interior air vents will prevent proper heating into your home and keep you feeling colder during the winter. Dirty dryer vents with lint buildup can make your dryer less efficient and even start a fire caused by static electricity that ignites.

  10. Check Your Safety Devices
    While doing fall maintenance, take time to check home safety devices. (1) Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace old batteries; (2) Check your fire extinguisher's expiration date and replace it if necessary; (3) Check your home for radon gas levels of 4 or above which is considered dangerous by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).  

If you're considering buying or selling in the Washington area, contact us for available properties. We have many available homes that may be just what you're looking for.

September
13

Best Home Security Upgrades

Home Security TipsMaking your home secure is rarely a one-and-done project, but it should be a top priority. As technology advances and criminals develop new techniques, it's important to regularly upgrade your home's security features. This can prevent break-ins, protect your loved ones and property, and give you peace of mind. If you're wondering where and how to start, the following suggestions by our brokers will help you take the right steps to protect your home against intruders.

  • Video Doorbell
    Simple to use, easy to use, and immediately obvious to anyone who approaches your door, video doorbells are a popular home security option. The doorbell has a camera, speaker, and microphone, so you can see, speak to, and hear visitors through an app on your phone or tablet, no matter where you happen to be. You can receive notifications and a live feed from your front door when someone walks by or presses the bell. When buying a video doorbell, look for two-way audio, high-resolution video, infrared night vision, and motion sensing.


  • Smart Cameras
    If you're worried about the security of your backyard, side alley, or garage, smart cameras can provide peace of mind. They come in a range of sizes, capabilities, and prices, with most having speakers and mics. The cameras connect straight to the Wi-Fi and can be controlled and viewed remotely using a smartphone app. Indoor options are smaller and more discreet and a great option if you want to keep an eye on the inside of your home. Features you'll want to look for in a smart camera include a wide field of view, audio recording, motion detection, and high resolution.


  • Alarm System
    A smart alarm system is another great security upgrade to consider for your home. There are many options available, from a range of battery-powered sensors you affix to your windows and door to motion sensors for hallways, rooms, and landings. The system will send you a notification if any movement is detected while it's armed.


  • Smart Lights
    Smart lighting combines convenience and enhanced security, but it isn't an obvious intrusive device. The Wi-Fi-enabled LED lightbulbs are simple to install and can be controlled from a smartphone app. You can dim the bulbs, choose their color, and turn them on or off – manually or on a schedule. To make things a little less predictable when you're away, you can set the system to light up at a random time and make it look like someone's home. Smart lights can also be linked to smart cameras, motion sensors, and alarms for enhanced security.


  • Solid Doors
    Most burglars use the door to gain entry into a house. It's also easier to carry valuables out the door. If your doors are weak and flimsy, a well-placed kick or slam could be enough to allow someone inside in seconds. Some of the best security doors are made of metal or solid core wood. Avoid hollow-core doors or those with a lot of glass. You can also reinforce your door with a barricade or a strike plate installed with 3-inch screws for greater strength.


  • Door Locks
    While you're at it, conduct an inspection and change your locks if they're damaged or easy to pick and bump open. This is also important if you have extra keys floating around with friends or strangers. Re-key your locks or replace them with smart locks. Smart locks communicate with your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, allowing you to lock and unlock your doors from anywhere. Traditional smart locks have a number pad or touchscreen, and then some rely on an app on your phone to handle the locking and unlocking functions. When buying a smart lock, it's important to know whether or not it can also accept keys.

  • Secure Windows
    Windows are also common entry points for intruders because they're often left open, and the latches aren't always effective. To improve the security of your windows, install key-operated levers or locks. Some other ideas to burglar-proof your windows include burglar bars, reinforced glass, shatterproof glass, sensors, and cameras. Prickly bushes can also help make your windows less desirable and harder to access.

Bonus Tip: Make sure to lock down and hide your Wi-Fi network, rename it, install anti-virus protection, create a strong password, and install a firewall. You don't want to leave your security system or smart home gadgets open to cyberattacks.

Are you in the market for a new home with smart security features? Contact us today, and we'll be happy to show you beautiful and secure properties in the Pacific Northwest. We can also provide expert advice and help you find the best value if you're looking to improve your home's security before selling.

August
23

Rainy Day DIY Projects

Rainy Day DIYDepending on your point of view, rainy days can be either the best or the worst. It's frustrating being stuck in the house with nothing to do. But with a little creativity, there are all kinds of activities you can participate in while waiting for the weather to clear - especially for new homeowners who are working to make their new house their own. Here are a few DIY projects that can help you pass the time and feel productive on a rainy day.

  • Build a Birdhouse
    This is a simple but rewarding project that you might even be able to get your kids to help you with. All you need are a few small wooden boards and some basic tools like a saw and a drill. Build the house, decorate it, and when the rain stops, hang it in the yard to give the local birds a place to hang their proverbial hats. Be aware: if you paint your birdhouse, sometimes the paint smell can keep birds away the first year. If you do choose to paint your birdhouse, go with light, muted colors that reflect heat rather than absorbing it and won't attract predators. And be sure to use non-toxic paint.

  • Make a Chalkboard Wall
    This one is much simpler than it looks. It doesn't require a large, unwieldy board or even the use of nails or screws. Rather, with a special kind of paint, you can give a wall or section of a wall in your house the look and feel of a chalkboard. Clean the wall thoroughly first, then apply a coat of chalkboard paint. Wait a couple of hours, then apply a second coat, then a third coat after another couple of hours. Let it dry for three days before marking it with chalk. Once the wall is ready, though, you can use it to make shopping lists, leave notes for family members, and more. Plus, you and the kids can use it for future rainy day activities, like playing tic-tac-toe or even just doodling. It's the rainy day gift that keeps on giving.

  • Change Knobs and Handles
    Look at your drawers and cabinets. Do you like the way the handles and knobs look? Maybe they're showing their age, or maybe they just don't fit with your aesthetic. The good news is, they're easy to remove and switch out for new ones. If you have the replacements handy, most likely, all you'll need is a screwdriver and maybe some new screws.

  • Do Some Odd Jobs
    There are probably plenty of small jobs around the house that you've meant to get to but just haven't had the time. Well, a rainy day is a perfect time. Take a screwdriver and tighten up that wobbly chair. Change the burnt-out bulb in your light fixture. Rearrange your pantry to make things easier to find. There are also several jobs that homeowners should perform periodically but most people tend to forget. A rainy day is a great opportunity to catch up. For instance, check your HVAC system's air filter and see if it's time to replace it. If the filter is white and translucent, it's still good. If it's dingy, gray, and opaque, then it's time for a new one. Another task that's relatively simple but a bit time-consuming is doing a deep clean of your dishwasher. Remove the bottom rack and do a quick clean of the drain on the bottom. Then, put a cup of vinegar on the top rack and run it through the cycle. Once it's done, sprinkle baking soda on the inside, and run it through a rinse cycle. When it's done, your dishwasher will not only be cleaner but function more efficiently.

  • Get Your Kids Involved
    Let's face it. The ones who are most likely to be bored on a rainy afternoon are your kids. You can let them sit and watch Netflix all day while you do home improvement tasks, or you can get them to help you. If they're old enough and responsible enough, take the opportunity to show them some basic DIY skills: how to use different tools safely, the importance of some of those odd jobs, etc. You can spend some time constructively and bond with your children at the same time. Then when the next rainy day rolls around, you've got a built-in helper for the next set of DIY tasks.

These are just a few things you can do on a rainy day to make your house feel more like home. Our brokers can get you set up in the perfect house to meet your needs. What you do with it after that is up to you. Contact us anytime, rain or shine, to learn more!

June
29

Gutter Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Gutter Maintenance

Knocking out a few simple tasks this summer will help ensure you don't run into any unexpected problems caused by poor gutter maintenance. This may include leaks, damage to your insulation, siding damage, and more. Don't let this happen to you! Follow these simple tips, and you'll be ready for whatever Mother Nature brings. 

  1. Remove Collected Debris
    If it's been a while since you've performed any gutter maintenance, a lot of leaves, sticks, and other debris may have accumulated in there. Start by putting on a pair of thick gloves and pulling out debris by hand. This is the first step to ensuring water has a clear path to flow off of your roof and out the downspouts. This allows it to move safely away from your home, so it doesn't cause damage. 
  1. Check for Nests
    Birds often like to make their nests in gutters since it offers them a high perch that is relatively undisturbed. By summertime, the babies have usually flown away, making now a great time to remove the empty nests from your gutters. Just be sure to check carefully for any signs of life before pulling them out. If you notice babies are still living there, consider leaving them undisturbed and checking back in a few weeks. 
  1. Clean Off Your Gutters
    Now that you've removed the large items from your gutters, use a gentle abrasive cleaning product or soap and water along with a scrub brush to give the inside of your gutters a thorough cleaning. This will allow you to remove any moss, mold, or algae built up inside your gutters. If you notice areas where there's a lot of growth, pay attention. This could be a sign that you have a drainage problem. 
  1. Check for Damage
    Once your gutters are clean, you'll be able to tell if there are any damaged areas you need to address. Carefully check all of your gutters for holes that need to be filled, areas of rust, or anything that's sagging or askew. You can typically fix sagging gutters by pulling them upward using a pair of pliers. If you notice any sections of your gutter that are extremely rusty, consider replacing them. 
  1. Repair Any Leaks
    As you're checking for damage, there's a good chance you'll come across some leaks. This often happens when there are visible holes or areas that are buckling. You can also check for smaller leaks along the cracks and seams by using a hose to run water through the gutters. Watch out for any areas where water comes out before it reaches the downspout. You can effectively fix most gutter leaks with a waterproof sealant, like silicone caulking. Depending on the type of damage, you may also use some metal flashing and attach it using roofing cement. Once the repair has dried, run water through again to make sure it's sealed. If not, you'll want to call in a gutter professional to take care of the problem. 
  1. Visually Inspect Your Roof
    Since you're already up on a ladder, take a moment to visually inspect your roof. Keep an eye out for loose shingles, which can cause leaks. If your gutters haven't been maintained for a while, this may also cause water to pond on your roof, leading to additional problems. Catching issues early can help you get them fixed before they become a much bigger deal. For safety reasons, avoid getting up on the roof yourself. If you notice any potential issues, call a professional roofer to come out and take a look. 
  1. Install New Equipment
    If you've been thinking about installing new downspouts or gutters, the dry season is the perfect time to take on this project. You may also want to consider installing gutter covers. This upgrade prevents leaves and debris from falling into your gutters. While it will take some effort to install, you'll love how much it cuts down on your future gutter maintenance! 

Whether you're planning to stay in your home for the long term or you're thinking about moving soon, our brokers encourage you to keep up with basic maintenance tasks. This will help ensure your home maintains its current value and its curb appeal. 

We're here to help. Your dream home is waiting for you, so don't wait. Contact us today to discuss your goals and get started.

May
17

What You Need to Know Before Adding a Fireplace

Adding a FireplaceWhen you love your home, it's only natural to want to make it even better. Life in the beautiful Pacific Northwest almost demands the comfort only a fireplace can provide, but how do you know it's a good investment for your home? You don't hesitate to make simple changes, like a fresh coat of paint. When it comes to something as significant as adding a fireplace, however, there are several factors to consider before making a final decision. 

  1. Can it be done?
    Local building codes are full of restrictions relating to construction. Ceiling height and fireplace emissions will all impact the cost and plausibility of adding a fireplace to an existing structure. Fuel source also needs to be considered. Will you be using natural gas, propane, or wood? Wood must be stored safely away from the exterior wall of the house and must be kept dry. Is the house already equipped for gas or propane? A general contractor can best advise a homeowner on the feasibility of adding a fireplace and provide estimates of both cost and time for execution.
     
  2. What are you willing to spend?
    Your options run from about $1,400 for a ventless gas unit to a traditional wood-burning fireplace for $20,000 or more. The former requires a unit for about $400 and installation costs of about $1,000. The latter required extensive materials, a mason skilled in the specific work required, and other skilled laborers to complete the changes to the surrounding walls. Wood and natural gas are the most common fuel sources. When determining which is most economically sound, consider not only the cost of wood but also the cost of maintenance. An annual inspection service is not expensive but critical to safe operation. A gas fireplace may be the best decision, financially speaking, if it is an option. It's also much kinder to the environment and requires less maintenance than its wood-burning counterpart.
     
  3. What can you expect as a return on investment?
    Much depends on other homes in the area. The National Association of REALTORS® tells us that about 46% of homebuyers nationwide are willing to pay extra for a fireplace. But the median amount they are willing to pay is $1,200. That's not good news to a homeowner that spends $10,000 to $20,000 to add a fireplace. Another consideration is the cost of the fireplace relative to the value of the house. In a million-dollar home, a $10,000 feature is a far more acceptable price increase than in a less expensive model.

  4. Where will you locate the fireplace?
    You have a lot of options! Your first thought might be the traditional living room or den, but you may prefer a cozy space in your bedroom where you can curl up with a pillow and a good book. If you have a "dead" zone in your home, far from the central heat source that is uncomfortably cold, a fireplace can be a great solution. The current trend of outdoor living spaces creates a wealth of luxury opportunities. Even though the unit won't provide additional comfort to the house itself, it means extending entertainment options to an exciting new level. You can, however, expect the total installed cost to be comparable to an indoor fireplace. 

  5. Can you expect energy efficiency?
    The decisions you make regarding the type and location of the fireplace will affect the level of energy efficiency. The outdoor fireplace will do nothing to heat the home itself, for example. A well-placed unit will allow you to focus the energy to heat the home in the space being used instead of heating the entire house at once. The traditional fireplace sends more of its heat up the chimney than into the room. But a sealed unit uses outside air to heat and transfer warm air into the room. This reduces the energy demands made of the central furnace or heating system. The question would then be whether the decrease in utility bills for the central air system is greater than the cost of managing the fireplace. 

While chilly fall and winter nights are quite a ways away, if you plan on adding a fireplace, now is the time to start doing your research.

And if you're looking for a new home with a fireplace or getting your house ready to list, contact us for professional assistance. Our brokers are always ready to help. 

April
5

April Showers: Guide to Installing a Smart System for Your Garden

Smart System for Garden

For nearly twenty years, smart homes have been surging in popularity as we embrace the technology that makes our lives easier. No longer limited to inside the home, technology has moved into the garden to make it more efficient as well.

Our brokers know how important a lush lawn and curb appeal are when appealing to potential buyers. Whether you're getting your home ready to list or just want to enjoy an attractive landscape, consider installing a few of these smart devices.

  1. Smart sprinklers
    Setting a timer will certainly allow you to water whether or not you are home. But why stop there? You can control the sprinklers when you're away from home using an application on your phone or computer. If you prefer, you can use a sprinkler that gauges the amount of water your garden needs based on data from weather reports or even from sensing the moisture in the soil. Never again will your sprinklers go on while it is raining. 
     
  2. Weather stations or sensors
    These innovative devices monitor the weather conditions in your garden including temperature, wind, and humidity to deliver the information you need to care for your garden. You can receive detailed weather metrics to help keep the inside of your home comfortable as well. When integrated into a smart home ecosystem, adjustments will be made automatically. 

  3. Soil sensors
    Traditionally, while it is possible to get secondary education in agriculture, most home gardeners don't have the education required to analyze soil to determine what action is necessary to create the perfect balance of chemicals and moisture for a healthy garden. Add the questions of proper temperature and light and most of us would be lost. But we don't need to know all of that information when we have sensors to guide us. Are they necessary to grow a garden? No, but they certainly can make the process easier. Take your gardening to the next level and receive alerts on your mobile device for when you need to take action to keep the garden healthy. 

  4. Robotic lawnmowers
    Preprogrammed to operate on a schedule of your choosing, these handy tools ensure a  perfectly manicured lawn with little to no effort on your part. Powered by electricity, they run quietly and without fumes. Boundaries are defined by wires. If it should happen to rain, sensors will direct the unit back to its base. 

  5. Outdoor lighting
    One of the least expensive smart upgrades you can make to your garden, lighting options are also the most versatile. Fountains and other water features come to life with strategically placed lighting. Path lights with changing colors add magical hues to simple safety measures. Motion sensors illuminate spaces to stop would-be thieves in their tracks as spotlight cams capture their images. And who could deny the elegance of soft lighting in a seating area nestled in a flowery haven? Remote controls let you adjust the lighting according to your needs. 

  6. Wi-Fi booster
    Working from home and going to school online can be tedious and frustrating. But you can banish that cooped-up feeling by taking work and studies outside. It's possible for a Wi-Fi repeater or extender to do the trick, and add enough coverage to your garden to work or study efficiently. Unfortunately, that may not be sufficient. If not, you can dramatically expand your home network with a powerline adaptor. These exciting new options use the electric wiring of the house to transmit communication signals. They don't even require a complicated installation. 

  7. Entertainment options
    Whether you would enjoy dancing in the moonlight or watching movies under the stars, you can convert your garden to the perfect entertainment venue with waterproof Bluetooth speakers, outdoor television sets, or projectors. If you enjoy hosting dinner parties, smart grills and smokers can allow you to cook a delicious meal while socializing with your guests. They'll give you a short alert on your phone when you need to break away to attend to the food. 

When you're ready to find the perfect place for your own garden paradise, contact us. We'll be happy to show you the finest homes throughout the area. 

February
22

Renovation Ideas Even Your Pets Will Love

Renovation Ideas for Pet OwnersAre you one of the more than 100 million people in the United States who own either a dog or a cat? More and more, pet owners are thinking about their furry friends when planning home renovations, and it's easier than ever to incorporate pet-friendly features as part of larger renovation projects in your home. And it's not just your pets who benefit! Many of the most popular pet-friendly renovations can also save floor space, help keep your home cleaner, and enhance the look of some of the most frequently used rooms in your home. Our brokers have the details on some popular pet-friendly features that you can incorporate into your next home renovation project.

  1. Add Feeding Stations and Storage for Pet Items When Updating Your Kitchen
    Thinking of updating your kitchen cabinets or adding an island for increased counter and storage space? Consider incorporating a pet feeding station into your design plan. A feeding station makes it easier to keep your kitchen clean and keeps you from accidentally kicking pet bowls when walking through the kitchen. Make sure to incorporate some extra storage space near the feeding station to store food and other items for your pet. In addition to keeping things clean, built-in feeding stations will also save floor space in your kitchen.

  2. Pet Bathing Stations Make Bath Time a Breeze
    Bathing pets can be a real challenge, especially if you have a large dog or an older pet. Many homeowners are now incorporating pet bathing stations, with bathrooms and mudrooms the most popular places to put them. You can create a smaller bathing station specifically for your pet, with a spray nozzle and plenty of room for bathing supplies. If you don't want to add a dedicated bathing station while renovating your bathroom, consider a walk-in shower with a handheld showerhead to make it easier to keep your pet clean.

  3. A Mudroom Is a Great Choice for Pets and Kids Alike
    When shopping available homes for sale, you may have noticed an extra room in some homes near the foyer or the door that opens to the home's backyard. Commonly known as mudrooms, these rooms are ideal for cleaning off muddy paws and shoes without tracking dirt through the rest of the home. A mudroom is also a great place to keep the supplies that you'll need to take your pet for a walk and the toys that your pet loves to play with when they are in the yard. A mudroom can be as small or large as you like. The key is simply to build your mudroom near the door that pets (and kids) will use most when coming into the house from outside.

  4. Cat Highways Are a Perfect Addition for Your Feline Friend
    Cats love to climb, so adding a "cat highway" is a great way to encourage your feline friends to play and get some extra exercise. You can buy a cat highway that's ready to install from your favorite pet supply store or create something new yourself. The key is simply to give your cat safe, sturdy spaces to climb around the house. By keeping the bulk of your cat highway above eye level, you also save floor and wall space that can be used for other needs.

  5. Add Ramps on Outdoor Stairs to Help Older Pets
    Many older dogs, especially if they are larger breeds, can have trouble getting up and down the stairs that lead into your home. Even for younger dogs and smaller breeds, limiting how much they use stairs can help save wear and tear on joints. Adding a ramp to outdoor stairs is a simple solution that can help with the health of your dogs, and it's easy to incorporate a ramp when you're updating your deck or patio. Even if you're not undertaking a larger renovation project, it shouldn't be too difficult to add a ramp to your existing stairs.

  6. Create Dedicated Sleeping Spaces for Pets
    Every pet should have its own space for sleeping, but pet beds and crates take up valuable floor space. They're also not always the most pleasant thing to look at aesthetically. Just like with feeding stations, you can incorporate built-in pet beds into a wide variety of home renovation projects. You can even put them in multiple rooms! Create a stylish, cozy place for your pet to sleep, and save some space in the process.

Still searching for a home that both you and your pets will love to call your own? Our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the area.

December
21

Interior Design Trends to Watch in 2021

Seattle Interior Design Trends

The year is coming to an end, but for many homeowners, there is no end in sight to the amount of time they'll be spending indoors. The extraordinary increase in work from home and learn from home have turned the house into an office, a school, and a social space for entertaining. As we move into 2021, our brokers understand that a change of scenery might be necessary. Here are a few burgeoning interior design trends for you to consider in 2021.

  1. Warm Color Schemes
    So much time spent indoors has made us all look a little too long at our walls. While some colors like blues seemed bright, some homeowners discovered that these cooler colors are invoking the blues. A change of paint is in order for 2021, with homeowners adopting warmer or neutral colors to create a more inviting space. Colors that stimulate the mind, such as blues, greens, and yellows, may be used only in workspaces like offices.


  2. Low-Cost Chic
    The "chic" style is quite diverse, and it's headed to a home near you. Some will opt for a Shabby Chic or French County Chic style that mixes vintage or antique furniture with contemporary pieces to create an elegant space. Homeowners will be scouring garage sales and flea markets into the New Year to find live-in pieces that are worn with refinement.


  3. Timeless Traditional Style
    There's a reason classic traditionalism is both "classic" and "traditional." It's such a timeless look that it's easy to integrate into any space. More importantly, it's an effective way to try something new without going all-in on a more eccentric décor style, such as the chic or ultra-modern design. The symmetry and harmony that a classic traditional style brings to a room also creates a feeling of order and control to a space.


  4. Sustainable Modern Pieces
    Although home renovation budgets are tighter than ever for some homeowners, many are still committed to sustainable living. 2021 will continue to see sustainable designs with a modern touch. Whether utilizing recycled and repurposed materials or adopting the latest bioplastics, an interior designer will seek to incorporate materials with a low impact on the environment.


  5. Global Inspiration
    Wanderlust is higher than ever, which means we shouldn't be surprised to see a global influence in many interior designs. Natural materials like woods, glass, and stone will come together with earthy, neutral tones to make the space feel more at one with nature. Some homeowners may also integrate regional décor, such as those inspired by wildlife or global cultures.


  6. Industrial Interior Style
    With so many homeowners utilizing their spaces for work and school, the industrial style is becoming increasingly popular. This style prioritizes multipurpose and open spaces through both form and function. Clean, crisp lines define the parameters of the space with multi-use furniture like dining room tables that double as workspaces filling the area.


  7. Modern Rustic Styles
    The rustic style is quite popular in many regions, and we should expect to see this style given a modern touch in 2021. These homey interiors are warm and welcoming for guests and owners alike. Redesigned classical pieces or redefined "traditional" pieces give these spaces a blend of old and new for the homeowner who seeks a style that screams "today."


  8. Creative Storage Spaces
    Chances are high that most homeowners either have too much stuff or not enough space. As we roll into 2021, some homeowners will carry over the minimalist trends from the last two years, but others will instead seek to maximize storage opportunities. Installing shelving or refashioning closet spaces to organize items more efficiently can instantly enhance storage.


  9. Wallpapered Ceilings
    If you're surprised that wallpaper has made a comeback over the years, then you'll be even more so knowing the wallpapering the ceiling is shaping up to be a hot 2021 trend. Though it sounds strange, it actually adds dimension to the room and challenges the design status quo by mixing patterns. It also allows homeowners to inject a little character into their spaces without it dominating all four walls.


  10. Indoor/Outdoor Living
    One interior design trend that bleeds into the exterior, homeowners are opting to maximize their indoor/outdoor living spaces. Using furniture and furnishings typically staged for interiors, homeowners are creating multi-use spaces on their patios and balconies that are comfortable, convenient, and ready for diverse usage.

Do you envision a brand-new home in 2021? Let us help you with your search. Contact us today to schedule a showing of our latest Seattle homes for sale.

November
9

Staging Your Home During the Holiday Season

Holiday Season Home Staging

Staging your home is as important as ever when it comes to homes for sale. Staging has a valuable role to play in traditional showings and virtual ones.

A well-staged property has the potential to sell faster and claim a higher closing price. Our brokers use staging as part of our commitment to get our clients great results.

One of the most valuable aspects of staging is that it allows potential buyers to imagine their own future life in the home. Creating the right mood means striking a balance: As the seller, you can't be in the way, but the home must still look welcoming – that is, as if someone lives there.

Never is that balance more vital (or trickier) than during the holiday season.

The Best Ways to Stage Your Home for Selling During the Holidays

Opinions and backgrounds differ, of course, but most people have strong positive feelings around the holiday season. It's a wonderful time to come together in a spirit of giving and joy. With the right approach, you can harness that positivity within your own staged home.

But what's the best way to do it without going overboard?

These proven home staging techniques can help:

  1. Always Start with Cleaning
    No matter what, cleaning is always step one for staging a home. That should include decluttering floors, emptying closets at least halfway, and doing a deep cleaning of carpets and upholstery. That ensures better indoor air and prevents pet odors or allergens from bothering your visiting buyers.
  2. Maximize Your Curb Appeal
    Curb appeal sets expectations for the rest of the home. Make sure the lawn is cut and free of debris as you would in all seasons. Consider emphasizing the pathway up to the door using decorative shrubs, paving stones, or – yes – just a hint of simple lights outlining the way.
  3. Make Your Front Door Welcoming
    Your door is the true beginning of the buyer's journey, so make it count. This is the perfect place for a nice, fresh wreath – go with live plants over plastic – or a decorative bow. A welcome mat is also key, but choose something appropriate for all seasons.
  4. Consider the Temperature
    Think seriously about the time of day and climate as you're getting your home ready. There's nothing quite as comforting as a warm home on a cold day. If you have one, set the fireplace. Warm refreshments, such as holiday cider, can also create an enjoyable atmosphere that reflects well on your home.
  5. Create a Festive Atmosphere
    When it comes to decorations, less may be more – but that doesn't have to mean none! Subtle touches like a tasteful wreath or a bowl of pinecones are always nice to see. And now is the time for one of the most beloved staging tools of all: Fresh holiday cookies baking in the oven.
  6. Match Decorations to Current Décor
    Tinsel, icicles, and tasteful holiday balls are all fair game for decorating a home that's on the market. To maximize flair, be sure the decorations you select either closely match or gently complement your existing décor. If in doubt, always aim to create a soothing environment to "come in from the cold."
  7. Draw the Eye with Strategic Touches
    It's a wise idea to pare down the trimmings before buyers arrive. That heightens the visual impact of what's left and allows you to use elements in more creative ways. For example, a spring of mistletoe might draw the eye to a beautiful arched doorway, or a small display could accentuate the views of a bay window.
  8. Break Out the Simple String Lighting
    Light displays are an iconic part of the holidays, but they can be distracting when buyers are touring a home. Simple string lighting is a good compromise: It provides a little light and serves the same function as tinsel in outlining the things you'd like buyers to take a good look at.
  9. Show Off Your Tree
    Worried about the tree? It can make a terrific impression if it meshes with the space it's in. Be wary of broad-based trees that can take up too much floor space and make the room seem smaller. Decorate tastefully with simple glass ornaments and lights, and keep the present pile discreet.

Spring and summer make up the traditional "high season" for real estate. But just because the weather is cold, it doesn't mean the market can't be hot! Contact us to find out more today.

September
21

7 Ways to Improve Your Fall Landscaping

Fall Landscaping

Autumn has arrived in the Pacific Northwest! Our brokers love everything about the fall season. The exciting fall festivals, the crisp and cool breeze, and the ways the changing leaves fill our streets with color makes us wish the season would last all year. When it comes to caring for your outdoor spaces, fall is a wonderful time to complete necessary upkeep. Here are seven ways you can improve your landscape this fall.

  1. Embrace the Season
    The one downside to the fall season is that it seems to fly by which is why you shouldn't wait to embrace the season. Every September, you should begin putting up your fall decorations. Head over to the pumpkin patch for a few gourds, grab a hay bale or two, and consider setting out another seasonal lawn décor. Not only will you be able to enjoy it longer, but waiting until mid-October may offer slim pickings for pumpkins and another natural seasonal décor.

  2. Be Careful not to Fall into Bad Habits 
    As much as you may love allowing gorgeous fall leaves to grace our lawns, you must remember that it's important to not let fallen leaves overrun your lawn. Fallen leaves can grow mildew which can then kill your grass. Rake your yard at least once a week so you can preserve the grass underneath for the following spring.

  3. Loosen Soil and Spread New Seed 
    Raking leaves isn't the only way to prepare for a lush, healthy spring. Many homeowners make the mistake of neglecting their lawn in the fall when they should actually be giving it more attention than in the summer. Your grass should be watered until the end of October and adding fertilizer in the late-fall will help keep it healthy. Spread some new grass seed to protect against weeds and consider aerating your lawn once every few years to keep it resilient.

  4. Prepare for Other Seasons
    Although fall may seem like the end of your lawn maintenance duties for the year, it's actually a great time to start preparing for year-round success. The autumn season is the perfect opportunity to begin planning your long-term landscaping. Consider planting plants that will root over the winter, including bushes and trees. You can also plant perennials to make your spring seasons extra colorful. Don't forget that part of the fall season can clog up your gutters and prevent water from draining properly, too. Unclog your gutters in the late-autumn so that water will drain to your lawn properly over the next few months.

  5. Don't Forget to Focus on Hardscaping 
    With so many things on your to-do list, landscaping duties can be hard to juggle. Unfortunately, many homeowners forget to add hardscape maintenance to their lists as well. Your driveways, walkways, and other hardscape areas need attention too. As you create your to-do list, make sure you're addressing these areas so that they continue to look attractive, retain their integrity, and remain safe for you and your guests to use.

  6. Make Sure You're Not Neglecting Your Lawn Equipment or Home's Exterior 
    Your lawn equipment and your home's exterior directly impact your landscaping. As you complete your lawn care duties for the year, fall is the best time to clean and care for your equipment like the mower, trimmers, and hand tools. Remember that soil, debris, and moisture that sits dormant on your lawn tools can damage them as they sit unused during the winter. When your lawn maintenance is complete, take a step back and notice elements of your exterior that deserve attention. 

  7. Consider Tackling a Few Exterior Projects
    If you've considered enhancing your outdoor spaces, fall is the perfect time to tackle these projects. Installing a swimming pool, summer kitchen, fire pit, or outdoor entertaining area in the fall delivers a huge benefit. While you may not want to add more projects to your to-do list, imagine how relaxing it will be to enjoy these new features the moment spring arrives. Consider investing in your home during these transitional months so you can enjoy your new amenities throughout the year.

Are you searching for a new house this fall? Let us help you find a cozy place to call home. Contact us today to begin touring our best Seattle homes for sale that you'll absolutely fall in love with!

July
27

8 Things to Know Before a Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel in Portland

Are you thinking about a kitchen remodel this summer? You're not alone! Many of the best homes for sale have newly updated kitchens, making this a great investment. When our brokers are helping potential buyers find their dream home, a great kitchen is almost always one of the most in-demand features. 

Taking the time to create a solid plan and think through the details before you start your remodeling project can help you avoid any post-remodel regrets. Here are a few of the most important things you'll want to consider.

  1. Decide if You're Loving or Listing
    One of the first things you'll want to do is think about whether you're planning to stay in your home for the long term. If you're remodeling in anticipation of selling, you'll approach your project in a completely different way than you will if you're designing your dream kitchen. If you're planning to stay, it makes much more sense to splurge on the things that you've always wanted. Have you been dreaming of a built-in meat ager or a wine cooler? Go for it! However, if you're remodeling to sell, these types of upgrades aren't likely to bring you a great return on your investment. 
  2. Start with Your Budget 
    Starting a major project like this without a budget in place is a recipe for disaster. Chances are, you'll end up spending way more than you anticipated or, even worse, you'll run out of money before your remodel is complete. Don't let this happen to you! Instead, plan out a detailed budget for each phase of your project. Don't forget to add in the costs for appliances, materials, labor, and permits. It's also a good idea to add an extra 10% cushion to cover any unexpected costs that come up. 
  3. Create a Realistic Timeline
    It's also critical to commit to a realistic timeline. The last thing you want is to get into a remodeling project that drags on for months longer than expected. Whether you're hiring a contractor, planning a DIY project, or doing a combination of the two, it's important to set your schedule and make sure you're hitting milestones when you should. To help ensure you stick to the schedule, make sure you already have your materials and appliances before you start. You'll also want to schedule electricians, plumbers, and any other subcontractors ahead of time. Otherwise, one small delay can sideline your entire project. 
  4. Choose Your Appliances Carefully
    Picking out your new appliances is one of the most important (and most fun!) parts of a kitchen remodel. Make sure you don't skimp here. You definitely don't want to put effort into a remodel only to find that you're disappointed with the results. On the other hand, don't go too crazy. It's so easy to get no-interest financing right now that you might be tempted to buy top-of-the-line everything. Splurge where it makes sense and choose simple, high-quality options for the rest. 
  5. Consider Your Cabinets 
    Quality kitchen cabinets are expensive, but it's well worth the investment. In fact, putting cheap cabinets in your kitchen is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. When choosing your cabinets, make sure they're trendy enough to give the remodel a modern look, but not so trendy that they'll go out of style in just a few years. 
  6. Don't Forget Lighting
    The lighting you choose can make or break a kitchen remodel. Most older kitchens make do with a couple of ceiling lights and a small window over the sink. Now is the time to make a change! Consider replacing your windows with larger ones so you can take advantage of natural light. Also consider adding some interesting lighting options like pendant fixtures, under-cabinet LEDs, or even a chandelier. Make sure you add dimmer switches so that you can have plenty of light while you're cooking and then set a more intimate mood for socializing. 
  7. Set Up a Temporary Kitchen
    Living without a fully-functional kitchen is a hassle, especially if you have children. While it's not ideal, you can create a temporary kitchen by putting your refrigerator and microwave in another room during the remodel. If the weather is warm enough, plan to grill outdoors or eat out. 
  8. Make Sure a Remodel is Really Right for You 
    Sometimes, it's best to skip the remodel altogether. If you need major renovations to achieve the look you want, it's often better to simply buy a new home that already has the features you're looking for.

If you're ready to take a look at your options, we're here to help! Contact us today. 

June
22

The Not-So-Surprising Features Buyers Want Now

Features Buyers Want

Spending time in quarantine has changed what buyers are looking for in their next home while making current homeowners reconsider what they want most from their own properties. With the real estate industry still going strong virtually, now is an excellent time to consider what both you and potential buyers want from your home. Our brokers are here to help you maximize the value of your property, with our guide to the not-so-surprising features that buyers want now.

  1. Enhanced Home Offices
    With so many industries shifting to a work from home standard, it's no surprise that improved home offices rank near the top of the priority list for many buyers. Working from home becomes more manageable, efficient, and enjoyable when you have a dedicated space for getting the job done. Turning an extra room into an office, with ample workspace, strong WiFi, and an attractive background for videoconferencing can help your home stand out over other homes for sale.

  2. Bigger Pantries and More Storage
    When you're expecting to potentially be at home for weeks at a time and want to limit trips to the grocery store, food storage space suddenly becomes a much larger priority. A large, dedicated pantry is ideal, but may not be a fit for homes where every extra space is already being used. If you don't have room for a full pantry, adding extra shelving to basements or closets is an easy way to make room for more food to be stored.

  3. Home Gyms and Workout Spaces
    If being able to work from home is the biggest priority for many buyers, being able to work out from home certainly doesn't rank far behind. A full home gym is sure to attract the attention of fitness-conscious buyers, and any workout space is better than none at all. While once a priority mostly for luxury buyers, home gyms are sure to grow in popularity for buyers from every demographic.

  4. Private Spaces for Every Resident
    While open floor plans are still popular, spending so much time at home has given buyers a deeper appreciation for private spaces in the home. When school-aged kids are taking online classes, parents are working from home, and young children are in need of entertainment, life at home can get chaotic. Private spaces allow everyone to take care of what they need to do, without distracting other members of the household. 

  5. Extra Bathrooms
    For families shopping for a new home, having only one or two bathrooms may no longer be enough to get the job done. Adding an extra bathroom can help make the home more hygienic, and ensure that there aren't lines at the bathroom door when everyone is getting ready for the day.

  6. Mudrooms for Home Hygiene
    Hygiene at home has naturally taken on a larger importance recently, and a mudroom helps keep outside germs from entering further into the home. Creating a dedicated space where people can leave shoes, jackets, and other items upon entering the house is an easy way to increase hygiene, and keep your floors a little cleaner in the process.

  7. Enhanced HVAC Systems
    A strong heating/air-conditioning system is a key selling point for any home, and efficiency is especially important when you're spending more time at home. Smart home features like programmable thermostats make it simple to manage the temperature at home, and a central HVAC system allows everyone in the home to be comfortable no matter the temperature outdoors.

  8. Attractive Outdoor Spaces for Relaxation and Recreation
    When so many outdoor entertainment spaces are closed to the public, being able to relax outdoors at home becomes a necessity. An outdoor patio is always an appealing option for relaxation, and outdoor cooking spaces are excellent for making the most of warm, pleasant summer nights. Adding outdoor recreation spaces, like play-set for kids, a small basketball court, or even just an open lawn where people of all ages can play, can enhance the value of your home.

No matter what features you want in your next home, our team is here to help you achieve your goals. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

April
27

Home Improvement Projects You Should Leave to the Professionals

Home Improvement Projects

Our brokers always help our clients get the best selling price they can when it comes to Portland homes for sale. Targeted renovations can help you raise your asking price. Even if you have only a few weeks before you go on the market, you can make a big difference.

Many small DIY projects can go a long way in preparing your home for sale. For example, a quick coat of exterior paint takes years off a home's appearance. General cleaning and decluttering are also essential to staging the home.

But there are some renovations and repairs that should be left to the pros.

When it comes to these larger home improvement projects, the risks of doing it yourself far outweigh the rewards. 

Call the experts on these home improvement projects:

  1. Electrical Work
    Standards are very high for who can legally perform electrical work. That includes things like adding or removing fixtures and sockets. Amateur electrical work can make a home uninsurable, requiring the seller to start all over again with professional help.
  2. Any Form of Plumbing
    Done right, bathroom and kitchen remodels can raise a home's selling price substantially.Plumbing experts should always handle pipework. Leaks, flooding, and even burst pipes can result if anything is overlooked during the project.
  3. New Additions
    Any time you want to add square footage to your home, it's time to call trusted local contractors. With years of experience, they can handle all the permitting, zoning, and other issues. When an addition is done without a permit, the city can order you to tear it down almost any time after it is discovered.
  4. Adding a Deck
    A few years back, there was a DIY decking craze. You will still find many vendors out there who claim it's easy to add a deck with a kit. While a deck can be a smart move, it takes weeks to do even with all the materials at the ready. The results are almost never as good as professional work.
  5. Roofing Work
    Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home. It helps keep your family healthy and safe. Even the home's foundation relies on a sound roof. Today's buyers often shy away from roofs older than 15 years – and they tend not to trust amateur roofing work, either.
  6. Tree Removal
    Each tree removal project is different. Even if you are used to pruning the tree safely, you can't be sure how deep the root system goes. If the tree is near your home, there's also a risk of harm to the foundation. Professional work is both faster and safer.
  7. Fresh Flooring
    Sometimes, even deep cleaning isn't enough to make a floor look new again. Carpet, in particular, may need to be replaced. While some carpets are designed for easy installation, most carpets and virtually all other flooring require an expert's touch. This will protect your investment in premium flooring, too.
  8. Elaborate Lawn Care or Landscaping
    This one is a toss-up. If you are experienced in managing your lawn to bring out its beauty, then, by all means, enjoy yourself. However, professional landscapers can ensure your lawn will look its best through the time it's on the market and minimize maintenance for the future.
  9. Installing New Windows
    Nothing beats natural light when it comes to showing off a home's unique charm. Unfortunately, it's tougher than it looks to install windows. It is even more tricky on the second story of a home. Luckily, the average window lasts 15-20 years before it needs to be replaced.
  10. Foundation Repairs
    Cracks in the foundation, warped windows, and "stair-step" cracks near doors can signal serious problems with the foundation. It's crucial to realize that the cracks you can see are usually just the tip of the iceberg. Often, a damaged foundation requires leveling, which takes plenty of specialized equipment.

When it comes to those last few renovation projects, the consequences of a mistake are severe. Likewise, many of the projects above come with a significant safety risk. Only experts, who have plenty of experience and all the right tools, should be trusted with them.

When the dust settles, Coldwell Banker Bain is here to help you sell your home. To learn more, contact us.

April
20

9 Tips for Decorating Your Home Office

Decorating Your Home Office

Working from home is certainly a different experience than working in an office, and it brings many of its own challenges. Staying connected, staying motivated, and avoiding distractions can all be difficult when you're working from home. 

It helps to have a home office, a space dedicated to getting your work done every day. With a lot more of us working from home recently, our brokers have some helpful tips about decorating your home office. 

  1. Choose Your Space
    Not every room in your home will work as well as a home office. Ideally, you want to choose a room that's out of the way, far from the regular traffic in your house (especially if you have kids or a partner who also works from home). It's also best to choose a room that isn't also being put to another use. It should be your home office and only your home office.
  2. Let There Be Light
    If possible, try to choose a room for your home office that has a window that lets ample light in. Decorate the window with a light, airy vibe; ditch heavy drapes in favor of flowy curtails that let plenty of light in. Natural light is a great mood and creativity booster, and there's nothing better than having an office with a view!
  3. Expand the Space
    Dark, dingy spaces are not conducive to productivity. You'll get more done in a workspace that feels open. Since most of us aren't going to take down a wall to expand our home offices, the best way to open up the space is to choose a paint color that makes it feel more open. Your best option is a crisp off-white, which will make your office seem nice and airy but won't be too sterile. 
  4. Eliminate Clutter
    If your old desk at work was overflowing with a sea of clutter, consider this an opportunity to reset. Too much clutter makes it hard to concentrate, so take the time to eliminate all the unnecessary litter from your home office. You'll be amazed how much more work you get done! 
  5. Green it Up
    Bring some plants into your home office! They look great, help clean your air, and studies show that they make you happy. It's been proven that house plants improve your mood, reduce stress, and can boost creativity and concentration by up to 15 percent. This is partly because seeing greenery has the psychological effect of making us more calm and relaxed, but also because they release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. 
  6. Make it Personal
    Your home office is your own space, so make it feel like it's yours! It should reflect your interests, work, and style. Bring in your favorite decor, family photos, kids' drawings, or anything else that makes it feel like your own little kingdom.
  7. Organize for Productivity
    Keep storage space in your home office as simple as possible. A few basic shelves and drawers are usually preferable to complex systems of organization, as long as it makes sense to do so. Feel free to be creative, though, and use the vertical space offered by your walls to your advantage. The idea is to have everything you need for work close at hand, but not to go overboard with cluttered storage.
  8. Keep Technology in Check
    It can be hard to avoid technology when you're working from home, and you can never keep things like your computer, printer, and phone completely out of sight. But you can hide unsightly cords. Use zip-ties to keep cords organized and as out of sight as possible, and try to run them strategically behind furniture.
  9. Make it Comfortable
    The furnishings in your home office should generally be as simple as possible. Just make sure you have what you need, and make it comfortable. This is especially true of your desk chair, which you're sure to be spending a lot of time in.

Contact us today for more tips on how to maximize the potential of your home. While many more of us have been working from home recently, our team still offers the best selection of Portland homes for sale, and we're committed to helping you live life to the fullest, wherever you may be!

December
16

Staging Your Seattle Home for Sale During the Holidays

Holiday Home Staging

Our brokers understand selling your home during the holidays can offer challenges, but there are advantages too. In the less-crowded marketplace of winter, your listing is much more likely to stand out. Plus, you know anyone who shows up at your open house is serious about buying. 

Still, you need every advantage you can get, which is why staging your home is so important this time of year. So if you're listing your Seattle homes for sale this holiday season, be sure to follow these tips and stage it to sell.

  1. Let go of the clutter.
    The first big step to staging your house is getting rid of anything that doesn't help you sell it. At the top of that list is clutter. Gather up all your knick-knacks, stacks of old magazines, family photos, and anything else that's simply taking up space. You want your soon-to-be buyer to see your house as a blank slate for their lives, so pack it up and decide what you can sell, give away, throw away, or put into storage. 

  2. Create cozy vibes.
    When someone comes over for an open house, they should feel like they've stepped into a warm, welcoming respite from the winter cold. Foster those cozy winter feels by adding some extra throw pillows, brewing up a pot of hot spiced cider, and draping an extra warm quilt over the couch. If you have a gas or electric fireplace, feel free to fire it up. 

  3. Keep it clean.
    A good, deep cleaning is an important early step to staging your home, but you also have to stay vigilant about dirt and dust throughout the whole time your home is in the market. Pay special attention to your entryway this time of year. Lots of mud, snow, leaves, and other debris can get tracked in during the holidays.

  4. Go easy on the decorations.
    Sorry if you've amassed a considerable stash of holiday decorations that are just waiting to be displayed, but selling your home means it's time to tone it down. A tasteful string of lights, a wreath on the door, a few simple decorations here and there—these are all great. But leave the inflatable snowmen in storage this year. 

  5. Let there be light.
    The psychological impact of lighting is well known, and it's also a proven real estate principle that great lighting can completely transform a room. It's especially effective during the dreary winter months. Let in as much natural light in as possible. In parts of your home where there isn't much natural light, use halogen light bulbs to replicate the real thing. 

  6. Tone down the tree.
    It's okay to put up a Christmas tree, but keep a few things in mind. First, keep the tree trimmings simple. Use a basic color palette matching the overall color scheme of your home. Second, consider a smaller tree. A giant tree in a small room makes your house seem cramped, which doesn't exactly impress the average buyer. 

  7. Bake some cookies.
    Seriously, everyone loves cookies. Before your open house begins, whip up a quick batch of cookies that you can put out for your guests. Not only will cookies put your visitors in a good mood, but they'll also make your house smell amazing. 

  8. Make your decor seasonal.
    You never know what the beliefs of your future home buyer will be, so make your holiday decorations as non-denominational as possible. Snowflakes, evergreens, pine cones, winter branches, wrapped gifts, snowmen, and reindeer are all examples of holiday imagery that says "festive" without pushing a particular religion. 

  9. Keep your yard neat.
    While it's hard to make your curb appeal as impressive in winter as it is in the summer, you can still do your part to make your house look nice on the outside. Clean up fallen leaves and branches, and make sure the porch stays clear of clutter if you get snow or ice, shovel and salt your driveways, walkways, and sidewalks. This will make your yard look well kept, and avoid the risk of any guests slipping. 

Contact us today to learn more about selling your home during the holiday season. We've helped countless home sellers in the Seattle area sell their houses in all seasons and conditions. 

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 09/29/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 09/29/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of RMLS (last updated Thu 09/29/2022 12:50:32 AM EST) or Willamette Valley MLS (last updated Wed 09/28/2022 11:51:47 PM EST) or COAR/MLSCO (last updated Wed 09/28/2022 11:31:24 PM EST) or NWMLS (last updated Thu 09/29/2022 1:23:54 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Coldwell Banker Bain may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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