The holiday season is here and for many of our agents, that means it’s time to deck the halls. If you’re looking for some holiday decor inspirations and a place to start, here are some ideas that are certain to get everyone in the spirit.
A Tree of a Different Color
For many, there’s nothing more quintessential during the holidays than a Christmas tree decked out in ornaments. But acquiring a tree can be challenging and expensive. Moreover, housing a tree consumes time and space. That’s why we love the idea of an alternative tree. There are plenty of options you can buy online or create yourself using things you probably already have around the house. And if you miss the smell of a real tree, try a scented candle or essential oils.
The Season of Lights
Photo Credit: Amara
There’s something perpetually charming about twinkling lights. Whether you’re wrapping them around your front porch or adorning your fireplace mantle, extra lights deliver a warm glow during the holiday season. Getting creative and adding light to otherwise unexpected places, including bookcases, around headboards, or even in glassware, is a great way to keep everything looking merry and bright.
Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens
Not all holiday climates are built alike. If you’re expecting a white Christmas, you’re probably used to pine trees and winter brush, but for those of you located in regions where the mercury doesn’t drop, sprinkling in natural elements can transform your home into a wintery oasis. Holly and pine needles add a traditional touch, or consider a wreath of olive branches with some sleigh bells interspersed.
Bring it All Home at Dinner
Photo Credit: Amara
When decorating for the holidays, don’t forget the table! A sprig of holly adds a festive touch to your place settings. And instead of the traditional centerpiece, try placing candles in glass vases or mason jars to give your tablescape that added touch of holiday pizzazz.
It is with mixed emotions that I am selling my family homestead, after 62 years of family ownership. My parents had this house built in 1956, moving in when I was one. I lived there until moving to Hawaii in 1978 (except for college fraternity life at the UW). Mom passed in 2011 and Dad moved into a retirement home in 2013, so we rented the home for the past 5 ½ years. But with Dad’s recent passing, it is time to move on and give it (not literally) to a family that will hopefully enjoy living there as much as we did.
There are so many memories with so many friends in my youth who spent countless hours at my house. As I walked through it the other day, I could picture Mike Larson eating dinner with us at the kitchen table & laughing at my brother (David Peterson) and me going at it; Thomas Bosket & I laying on the floor in front of the stereo in the living room, endlessly listening to The Monkees between 1966-67; Guy Willett trying to teach Tom Bosket & I how to ‘fast’ dance in that same living room before a Jr. High sock hop; Thomas Rohde & I kicking a paper football with our fingers in the living room, seeing who could break our own distance world record; Jim Donnelson, Dan Durland & I playing chicken on the basement pool table…and somehow not breaking our fingers; skipping high school assemblies with Bart Wiersma & Dave Espedal to play billiards at the house, which was only a few blocks away; Norris Sturgeon & I staying up all night watching Monster movies downstairs while in grade school; learning my chops on the basement ping pong table with my Dad & brother (which turned into 2 Jr. High School championships for me); laying on the steps to the basement with the door closed, talking to Janet Walker Pearson for hours while in 9th grade; sucking on my Mom’s unlit cigarettes with Eric Swensen in the 6th grade (both of us turned green and had to put our heads in the toilet; playing WAR (card game) all summer long with John J Otness, while eating ginger snaps & drinking milk; and of course often running home during high school tennis practice with Tom Rohde to eat ice cream in the kitchen, while the rest of the team was running the cross country course to get in shape.
This home was a great place to grow up, with a great location in the town of Arlington. It is sad to see it go, but it is time. After all, it is just a house.
It’s February – winter’s not over yet, but 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.
Home Maintenance Checklist for Spring
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 few 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. Of if you want to find a vacation home of your own… search our active listings.
Hoping to transform your tired laundry room into a sparkling clean, efficiently working space, but without the major costs of a full remodel? By not changing the layout or adding square feet, you can bring costs down while still making meaningful changes to your space. Use this guide to help you decide what to prioritize and what to put on the back burner, and give your laundry room an update that works with your space — whether your budget is $100 or $10,000.
Laundry Room Updates
Laundry 1: Sharon Barrett Interiors, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $100
Clean, declutter and upgrade laundry baskets that have seen better days. It’s worth spending a little more for hampers that can stand up to heavy use.
Also think about which features would be most helpful to have, such as hampers on wheels, triple-sorter bins or stackable baskets that can tuck out of the way when you’re not using them.
Laundry 2: David Charlez Designs, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $300
Clean up, get hampers and then give the walls a fresh coat of paint. A cheerful color can make your laundry room feel brand-new without breaking the budget — especially if you’re willing to DIY.
If your budget is about $500
Get hampers, fresh paint and then a soft new rug. You’ll appreciate the dose of color as much as the softness underfoot. If moisture is a concern (for example, if your laundry room is in the basement), you may want to choose a sturdy indoor-outdoor rug.
Laundry 3: ACQUIRE, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $700
Get hampers, fresh paint and a new rug, and then swap out the lighting.
Ample lighting is important when you’re trying to check laundry for stains and read labels, so pay attention to the recommended wattage of any light fixture you are considering — anything less than 75 watts may not shed enough light (especially if it’s the sole light source in the room).
Laundry 4: CVI Design – Carly Visser, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $1,200
Tackle all the above, and then treat your space to some bonus storage and extras, like an ironing station, a drying rack or open shelves. If your laundry room is small, look for space-saving designs like folding drying racks, retractable clotheslines and wall-mounted ironing boards.
If your budget is about $3,500
What’s next? New appliances! A new washer and dryer can work more efficiently than older models, operate more quietly and get your clothes cleaner.
If you’re going from top-loading to front-loading machines, consider adding a countertop above to hold supplies and act as a surface for folding. Not in the market for a new set? Give your old machines a thorough cleaning to keep them running well (and smelling fresh).
Laundry 5: colorTHEORY Boston, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $5,000
If you have more room in the budget, think about replacing the laundry room sink and faucet. If you’re hoping to avoid additional installation costs, choose a new model that is the same size as the old one. If you don’t already have a sink in the laundry room, adding one will require more extensive help from a plumber, and costs will be significantly more.
Laundry 6: Dina Bandman Interiors, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $10,000
So you have the hampers, paint, rug, lighting, storage, appliances and sink. If you still have room in the budget, think about tackling a bigger project like installing a new tile floor or a pet-washing station. Your furry friend may not thank you but sure will look cute sitting in that tub.
Laundry Room Updates – Getting Started
If you need to find a new home to update, check out our active listings.
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 – should you remodel or sell?
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.
If your current home no longer works for you, consider looking at homes that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling. Get in touch with a Windermere Real Estate broker to discuss the best option for you.
Time to Sell? Some Tips for Selling Your Stuff
If you are looking around your home and thinking to yourself that it’s time to de-clutter, the summer months provide an ideal time to hold a garage sale. But if that sounds like too big of an undertaking, there are other options available to you thanks to popular resale sites like eBay and Craigslist. And if even that sounds like too much effort, you might also consider donating lightly used items to charity or sending them off to the dump. Here are some questions to help you decide which method is best for you.
How much stuff do you have?
Are you liquidating your space of large furniture items, a large quantity or quality items, or do you have a small pile of electronics?
If you have yards worth of stuff to get rid of, you definitely want to consider a garage sale. Getting rid of multiple items on Craig’s list can be time consuming, and shipping items sold on eBay can be expensive and eat into your profits. On the other hand, if your items are easily shippable or you have a small enough quantity to take quality photos and post online, then you can save time by using eBay or Craig’s list – and potentially make more money too.
What type of stuff am I getting rid of? Is it worth anything?
If you have large furniture or unique/valuable pieces it may be worth the time to take some quality photos and try to sell these items on Craigslist first. Generally Craigslist works as “first come, first serve” so be prepared to respond to inquiries quickly. If you have small items that have some value, you may want to consider eBay. You reach a much larger audience through eBay which can result in a greater financial return.
How much time do I have?
Garage/yard sales are by far the most time-intensive of your options. If you choose to hold a garage sale, you will likely need to dedicate at least three days for prep, clean-up, and the sale itself. All items should be cleaned up, priced, and neatly displayed for sale. Signage should be prominently placed around your neighborhood. You can also place an ad in your local classifieds or on Craigslist to attract a larger crowd.
Will your home/community accommodate a Garage Sale?
Garage and yard sales are generally held at a single-family residence. If you live in an apartment or condo, you may want to consider alternatives due to limited public space. You may also want to consider your community traffic. If you live on a quiet street, you may not get enough customers to generate sales.
Can you enhance a sale by joining with neighbors, friends and family?
Some communities hold an annual neighborhood garage sale, encouraging all neighbors to participate on the same day. This increases your ability to market the event and attract a larger audience.
12 Sanity Savers to Get You Through Your Home Remodel
It’s easy to get excited about a home project at the beginning, when the work seems theoretical and you hear yourself saying things like, “Oh, we could just knock all of these walls out, no problem!” Then reality sets in. The workers you hired go AWOL, your budget is blown and you can’t find your good shoes under the pile of scrap wood and duct tape. It’s time to take a deep breath and make a plan. Read on to find a dozen ways to stay sane while you are creating your dream home, no matter how long it takes.
Sanity Saver 1: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
1. Have a plan A … and a plan B and C too. Even when you set what seem like perfectly reasonable goals, things have a way of coming up unexpectedly to bump your project completion date further and further back. Having a back-up plan (or two) is key.
I find it helps immensely to think of your goal in three parts. There is the ideal goal — if everything went right and there were no snafus, this is what you would want done by a certain date. Then there is your plan B, where you pare down your list to the essentials. To make a plan C, pick just one thing that if you got done would still make you feel somewhat accomplished.
Sanity Saver 2: Soorikian Architecture, original photo on Houzz
2. Take “before” photos. In fact, take lots of photos throughout the process. When you feel motivation beginning to falter, take a look at pictures from early on in the process to remind yourself just how far you have come.
Sanity Saver 3: Young House Love, original photo on Houzz
3. Start a blog. Just like many diet and exercise programs recommend sharing your plans with supportive friends and family members, I advocate starting a blog as a way of holding yourself accountable during the renovation process. After a rough day, when nothing went as planned, at least you can vent your frustrations in a blog post and get kind words of support in return from readers all over the world.
They did it: Sherry and John started their blog Young House Love while they were fixing up their first home, and it became a wildly popular and award-winning site that attracts many visitors each day. Realistically, most of us won’t become the next Young House Love, but starting a blog can still be a worthwhile project and documentation of your home progress.
4. Focus on making it livable first. This may sound obvious, but it is all too easy at the beginning of a project to take on too much. By saving some of the cosmetic changes (like decorative tilework) for later and choosing to focus on essentials (like plumbing) now, you will make your life much easier.
Sanity Saver 4: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
5. Schedule your renovation in stages. During an extensive renovation, be smart about the order you work on things if you are staying in the house at the same time. Work to finish bedrooms and a bathroom first, so you can have a comfortable area to live in while other changes are going on.
6. Set one small, attainable goal each week. Tasks like putting up new house numbers, ordering something you need online, or patching holes in a wall do not take very long, yet being able to cross something off your list — and see visible improvement— will help keep you motivated.
Sanity Saver 5: Holly Marder, original photo on Houzz
7. Help the pros by doing your job: Be decisive. Yes, contractors, architects and designers can sometimes go beyond the original schedule, but each time you change your mind or put off key decisions, know that the process will take that much longer. The best thing you can do to speed progress is to maintain a clear vision of what you want and communicate it clearly to all of those involved in the project.
8. Stay busy during downtime. It is inevitable that there will be times it seems that nothing is happening. Whether due to a tight budget, workers vanishing midproject or simply a stretch of bad weather, it is important to keep your spirits up when work stalls out.
Try keeping a list of simple tasks that you can do anytime. Then, when you start feeling antsy, pull out your list and get to work. Cleaning, organizing, decluttering and doing small repairs are all good places to start.
Sanity Saver 6: decordemon, original photo on Houzz
9. Pitch in and do some work yourself. Even if you’ve hired pros to do the bulk of your renovation, consider taking on a small DIY project of your own. Using your own hands to pitch in and improve your home can be incredibly satisfying.
10. Make your bedroom a refuge. Even if outside your door is quite literally a disaster area, having a calm, relaxing spot to rest and recharge can do wonders for your spirit.
Sanity Saver 7: Mykonos Panormos Villas, original photo on Houzz
11. Use your outdoor space. If the weather is good and your project is taking place indoors, setting up a comfortable outdoor living space is a wonderful way to get away from the noise and chaos of the renovation. I’ve heard of people setting up full outdoor kitchens to use while the indoor kitchen is being remodeled, and I think it’s a wonderful idea.
12. Remind yourself why you are doing this … Clicking through your inspiration photos is a great way to get juiced up about your project all over again. You can also try simply closing your eyes and visualizing your home project completed, vividly imagining every little detail, and how wonderful it will feel to have it all done.
… and know when to get out of town. Of course there are times when it’s best to admit it’s time for a break. When the entire house in in utter disarray, taking a spontaneous weekend getaway can be just what the doctor ordered.
By Laura Gaskill, Houzz
The Market Update for Western Washington is here! I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year.
- There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016.
- With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County.
- The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained.
- With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.
- Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County.
- It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter dropped by 16 days when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
- King County remained the tightest market, with the average time to sell a home at just 31 days. Island County was the only area where it took longer to sell a home than seen a year ago; however, the increase was just one day.
- In the first quarter of the year, it took an average of 70 days to sell a home. This is down from the 86 days it took in the first quarter of 2016, but up from the 64 days it took in the final quarter of last year.
- Given woefully low levels of inventory in all Western Washington markets, I do not expect to see the length of time that it takes to sell a home rising in 2017. In fact, it is likely that it will continue to drop.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. The rapid increase in mortgage rates during the fourth quarter of 2016 has slowed and buyers are clearly out in force.
Overall, the Market Update for Western Washington looks promising.