Four Tips for Ramping Up a Home’s Exterior Appeal

When selling a home, we often neglect some outside spaces while highlighting only the inside. However, a home's outdoor space will set the first impression to prospective homebuyers.

A recent Realty Times article by Lillian Montalto offers some of the following tips on ramping up the curb appeal of these outdoor spaces:

Garage spaces: "Invest in trays, bins, shelving, and anything else that will organize the space," Montalto wrote. "Stow similar objects together. Hang items on wall hooks when possible. And above all, make certain there isn't an overload of equipment to begin with, even if you need to store larger items at a storage unit or friend's house."

Patios and decks: Declutter, restain (if needed), and pressure-wash the bricks, pavers, and outdoor furniture.

Yard: Fix any sidewalks, driveway, or walkway cracks. Ensure sellers mow the lawn and make sure nothing is overgrown or blocking any views of the home from the street. Spruce up the yard with colorful flowers and planters.

Exteriors: Fix any peeling paint and trim, and make sure windows are sparkling clean. Also, take careful note that any exterior hardware and the house numbers are in good shape.

Preparing to sell and curious what improvements would give you top dollar for you home? Give us a call, we are happy to take a look at your home and provide you with money saving home improvment advice. Give us a call, we love to talk shop!

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Five Star Real Estate Professionals
Windermere Real Estate
Call/Text: 206-769-9577

 

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Improving Your Homes Exterior | Tagged , ,

Buying a House? 3 Reasons to Do it Now!

Address

Here are three great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1.) Prices Will Continue to Rise

Standard & Poors recently upgraded their 2013 forecast for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index to an 11% year-over-year increase from their original 8% projection.

The Home Price Expectation Survey, which polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, projects a 22.3% appreciation in home values over the next five years. The bottom in home prices has passed. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Increasing

As reported by Freddie Mac, interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have risen about 1/2 percentage point over the past several weeks.

The National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Fannie Mae are calling for interest rates to rise by approximately an additional ½ percentage point by this time next year. Some are trying to minimize the impact of higher rates. For example, Freddie Mac in their June U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook stated:

“At today’s house prices and income levels, mortgage rates would have to be nearly 7 percent before the U.S. median priced home would be unaffordable to a family making the median income in most parts of the country.”

However, an increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3.) It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your  family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Consifering Buying a Home? Give us a call, we can help you find the perfect home.

Steve Hill and Sadnra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate Seattle Northwest
12550 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
206-769-9577

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 11:00 am
Steve Hill | Category: Home Buying | Tagged , , , , ,

How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: March 20, 2013

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips, and you’ll keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.

Block that Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.

  • Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.
  • Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
  • Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.
  • Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.

Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — items that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Fire Up Fans

  • Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.
  • Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.
  • Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,150-$1,500, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate Seattle Northwest

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by south- and west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy or Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 in. away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup

 

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Home Air Conditioning | Tagged , , , ,

Cleaning House: Secrets of a Truly Deep Clean

By: Jane Hoback

Published: January 14, 2011

Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.

De-bug the light fixtures

See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.

Vacuum heat vents and registers

Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.

Polish hardware

To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.

Replace grungy switch plates

Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.

Neaten weather stripping

Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.

Replace stove drip pans

Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each and instantly freshens your stove.

 

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate Seattle Northwest
12250 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
206-769-9577

 

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 11:00 am
Steve Hill | Category: House Cleaning | Tagged , , , ,

5 Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects

By: Dave Toht

Published: February 26, 2013

Ramp up your curb appeal with cool landscaping projects you can easily pull off in a weekend.

Use a charged garden hose to lay out a smooth curve.

Tip: A “charged” garden hose full of water makes for a smoother, kink-free curve; charge up by turning on the spigot but leaving the sprayer off.

With the hose as your guide, use a lawn edger or spade to cut away excess sod and make an incision for the edging. Tap in the edging with a rubber mallet and add the stakes. Trim the edging with a hacksaw, using a speed square to mark for cuts.

Specs and cost: Steel — $1.25 per lineal foot; aluminum — $2.25 plf; rigid plastic or fiberglass — $1.65 plf.

Tools: Garden hose, flour or powdered chalk, lawn edger or spade, shovel, speed square, hacksaw, rubber mallet, hammer.

Time: 1 day to edge a typical yard.

Read on for more easy landscaping projects:

Add an Earth Berm
Build a Wall for a Raised Bed
Install a Flagstone Path
Add a Brick Tree Surround

Project #2: Add an Earth Berm

The setup: Create an eye-catching front yard feature by shaping a few cubic yards of topsoil into an undulating berm. Topped off with mulch, groundcover, and bushes, a berm adds interest and buffers street noise.

Use a charged hose to outline the berm. Remove sod a couple of feet in from the perimeter. Add a few mounds, but max out at 3 feet high.

Specs and cost: Three cubic yards of soil is enough for a good-sized berm. Expect to pay $15-$20 per cubic yard and $15–$60 for delivery — a total of $60-$120.

Tip: Don’t be tempted by those bags of topsoil at the home center: At $2.50 per cubic foot, a cubic yard (27 cubic feet) will end up costing you $67.50.

Have a cubic yard of mulch dropped off as well ($15–$20). A dozen periwinkle starts, plus a few boxwood bushes and evergreens, will set you back another $140.

Total for an 18-foot-long berm: $215–$280.

Tools: Wheelbarrow, spade, shovel, garden rake, trowel.

Time: A day to form the berm, another half-day for planting and mulching.

Project #3: Build a Wall for a Raised Bed

The setup: A stacked flagstone wall for your raised beds has an old-world look that mellows any landscape. Best of all, you don’t have to be stonemason to build one.

Begin by laying out the wall with stakes and mason’s line. Tamp a level bed of sand for the first course. As you add courses, stagger joints at least 3 inches. Set each course back ¼-inch so the wall leans backward slightly. Once finished, back the wall with landscaping fabric before filling with topsoil.

Specs and cost: Choose a stone of consistent thickness. Flagstone might be limestone, sandstone, shale — any rock that splits into slabs. A ton of 2-inch-thick stone is enough for a wall 10 feet long and 12 inches high.

Cost: About $300 for stones and sand.

Tip: Permanent retaining walls should be backed by pea gravel for drainage. In some locations, walls taller than 3 feet high require a building permit.

Tools: Stakes and mason’s line, spade, shovel, a 2-by-4 that’s 8 feet long, a 4-foot level, garden rake, tamper.

Time: 1 day for a 10-foot-long wall that’s 12 inches high.

Want to see some cool retaining walls? Check out our slideshow, 8 Retaining Wall Ideas.

Project #4: Install a Flagstone Path

The setup: For a welcoming addition to your yard, add a flagstone pathway. Use a charged garden hose to mark a meandering path about 3 feet wide. Arrange flagstones within the path so they are 2–4 inches apart and mark their location with sprinkled flour.

Tip: Sprinkling flour over the stones creates a “shadow” outline on the ground. When you remove the stones, you’ll have perfect outlines for cutting away the sod.

Cut away 3–4 inches of sod beneath each stone, add a layer of sand, and level the flagstones as you place them.

Specs and cost: For a 40-foot path about 3 feet wide, plan on 2 tons of flagstones and about a cubic yard of coarse sand. Cost: About $550.

Tools: Garden hose, flour, spade, trowel, level.

Time: 1 day for a 40-foot path.

Want more detail? Get the inside scoop on our start-to-finish DIY paver project.

Project #5: Add a Brick Tree Surround

The setup: Installing a masonry surround for a tree eases mowing and looks great. All it takes is digging a circular trench, adding some sand, and installing brick or stone.

Tip: To create a nice, even circle around the base of your tree, tie a big loop of rope around your tree. Adjust the length of the loop so when you pull it taut, the free end is right where you’d like the outer edge of the surround to be. Set your spade inside the loop with the handle plumb — straight up and down. Now, as you move around the tree, the loop of rope keeps the spade exactly the same distance from the base of the tree, creating a nice circle.

Use the spade to cut into the sod all the way around the tree. Remove the rope, and dig out a circular trench about 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide. Add a layer of sand. Set bricks at an angle for a pleasing saw-tooth effect or lay them end-to-end. Fill the surround with 2–4 inches of mulch.

Curious what trees to plant? Our popular slideshow tells you which trees you should never plant in your yard.

Specs and cost: This is an instance where buying small quantities of materials at the home center makes sense. Brick pavers cost $.50-$1 each — figure about 20 per tree. A bag of mulch, enough for one tree, costs $2.50.

Tools: Rope, spade, trowel.

Time: 3 hours per tree.

 

Posted on June 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Landscaping | Tagged , , ,

Spectacular Lozier Resale

OPEN SUNDAY 1PM-4PM Located on one of the premier streets in all of The Seasons at Mill Creek, this pristine two story home boasts an open floor plan, idyllic cul-de-sac lot location, tasteful upgrades and low maintenance landscaping. Features include large great room with fireplace, enormous kitchen with island, master bedroom with en suite and fireplace, deck with glass rails and greenbelt back yard. Superb street appeal with brick accents. Convenient location with renowned schools, major routes and shopping. Proudly Presented by Steve Hill, Windermere Real Estate/FN 206-769-9577. ExclusivelyMillCreek.com

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 7:24 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Mill Creek WA Home for Sale | Tagged , , ,

Just Listed – Seattle View Home :: Open Saturday and Sunday 2PM-5PM

12211 7th Ave NW Seattle WA 98177 An intimate relationship through a wall of windows, this Broadview estate excites with breathtaking views of mountains and Sound. Situated on a rare oversized lot, this home offers the privacy and space you deserve. With an updated galley kitchen featuring casual dining area, rat-pack entertaining spaces inside and out, this home offers it all. Hardwood floors on both levels, two fireplaces and large family room with walk out to patio. You are sure to be impressed with this one of a kind home. Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner, Windermere Real Estate/FN 206-769-9577.

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Seattle Open House | Tagged , , , ,

Buying a House: Is Now the Time?

The real estate community is often criticized for always seeming to have a Pollyanna attitude about the housing market. Many believe that the industry’s current call ‘to buy now’ is nothing more than a scare tactic with the sole purpose of creating more commissions for the industry. Let’s take a look at whether or not that advice was good advice over the last year.

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. According to the most recent Case-Shiller Home Pricing Index, home values have risen over 10% in the last year. If we look at Freddie Mac’s Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, the 30 year mortgage rate has increased from 3.67% to 3.91% during that same period.

The table below compares the cost of the same exact house over the last twelve months:

 

We can see that the advice to buy a year ago made complete financial sense.

What About Moving Forward?

Most experts are not only calling for prices to continue to rise but are also upgrading their projections as the housing market is showing strong signs of recovering.

Regarding interest rates, the 30 year mortgage rate has soared by over a half point already this year and many believe that the increases will continue. Even those trying to be the voice of reason on this issue are projecting higher rates. For example, Polyana da Costa, senior mortgage analyst at Bankrate.com said:

“Rates are unlikely to keep going up so quickly and should remain below 5 percent.”

Bottom Line

The next time a real estate professional says that now is the time to buy they may not be giving you a ‘sales pitch’. They may be giving you nothing but excellent advice.  If you are considering buying, call us for the facts, we would love to help you find your new home and direct you to the right lender. Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner, Windermere Real Estate / FN, Seattle-Northwest. 206-769-9577.

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Buying A House and Home Purchasing - The Cost of Waiting | Tagged , , , , ,

Open House :: Sunday, June 9th 1PM-4PM

8529 Caroline Ave N Seattle, WA 98103
Welcome home to a truly unique contemporary home, originally built by local builder Kapsner Homes. Situated at the end of a dead end street & just steps from Green Lake, this home was built to take in tons of natural light & sit high above the street amongst the trees. Built with high end details, soaring ceilings, A/C, bamboo floors, espresso cabinets, stainless steel appliances, & stunning master bedroom suite, this is a once in awhile opportunity to buy that custom house you have waited for!
 
Proudly Presented by Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate / FN Seattle Northwest
12250 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
206-769-9577
Posted on June 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Open House Seattle | Tagged , , , , , ,

Open House :: Sunday, June 9th from 1PM-4PM

3626 159th Place SE Bothell, WA 98012
 
Located on one of the premier streets in all of The Seasons at Mill Creek, this pristine two story home boasts an open floor plan, idyllic cul-de-sac lot location, tasteful upgrades and low maintenance landscaping. Features include large great room with fireplace, enormous kitchen with island, master bedroom with en suite and fireplace, deck with glass rails and greenbelt back yard. Superb street appeal with brick accents. Convenient location with reowned schools, major routes and shopping.
 
 
Proudly Presented by Steve Hill
Windermere Real Estate / FN
Seattle Northwest
206-769-9577
Posted on June 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Open House | Tagged , , , ,