Spring Checklist For Homeowners

You’re a homeowner, now what? Whether you’re a new buyer or have been in your home for a year or two, you’ll want to make your home clean and comfortable for the many years ahead of you.  As a homeowner, it’s important to stay on top of the maintenance your home now requires.  Not only will this save you from a potentially larger problem down the line but it will also add value to your home when you decide to sell in the future.  Buyers (and their agents) love seeing a well maintained home (keeping your maintenance records is a bonus!) and could save you thousands of dollars in future negotiations, just by keeping your “house in order”.

This spring maintenance checklist has eight tips to help you avoid headaches down the road:

1. New Homeowner? Change the locks.

You may not have considered putting new locks on the doors, however, almost 70% of burglaries happen in residential neighborhoods. It’s unknown who or how many people the previous owner gave keys to, so you may want to install new locks. This is also a good opportunity to replace locks that are worn out or rusted.

2. Deep Clean Dusting

If you’re new to your home, you have probably had movers come through your home, and they bring quite a bit of dirt and dust with them. And even if you’ve been there  for a few years, spring is a great time to do a deep cleaning. If cleaning isn’t your thing, you can hire a maid service for less than $100.  If you do it yourself, begin with a thorough cleaning of any hardwood, tile or carpet. Wash the baseboards, which are often overlooked. If you’re going to install a new dryer, be sure to clean out the vent and exhaust space of any leftover dryer lint to avoid fire hazards.

3. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Check every smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in your home at least once a year. If they aren’t working properly, you’ll need to change the batteries or have the alarms replaced. If your home is older, it may not have a carbon monoxide alarm, so be sure to get one installed.

4. Check air filters and ducts.

A proper heating and air conditioning unit means clean ducts and filters to circulate the cold or warm air throughout the home. If they’re filled with dust, dirt or grime from years of use, it could prevent rooms from getting warm or cool when turned on. Check the ducts and filters for any dirt and clean and replace as needed. This should be a top priority for anyone who has allergies.

5. Keep the insulation updated.

During your professional home inspection, your inspector checked for proper insulation. But it’s always good to understand how old that insulation is and whether additional layer could improve energy efficiency. Revisit the insulation question occasionally to make sure what you have is adequate. You should also insulate your water heater and its pipes due to the climate fluctuations, or if the water heater is outside. This way it doesn’t have to turn on often to keep the water hot for baths, dishes and washing machines, ultimately save you money down the line.

6. Clean out the gutters.

To avoid roof damage during the winter or major storms, you must keep the gutters free of leaves and sticks that will prevent proper drainage. If you’re nervous to do this yourself, the professional cost to clean gutters and downspouts average between $160 and $210.

7. Prune and trim the landscaping.

If you’ve just moved in or if your yard got out of hand during the winter, you may need to trim trees, prune shrubs and mow the lawn. To save money, you can prune trees yourself, but hiring an arborist will ensure proper techniques are used as well as free up your precious time.

8. Personalize rooms with paint.

When you bought your home, the seller may have depersonalized rooms by painting them neutral colors such as white or taupe. Now that you own the home, you can paint over those colors to make it yours.

The aforementioned are just some of the many project possibilities that will keep your home in top condition as a new homeowner.  If you have any questions, or would like referrals to services such as the ones mentioned feel free to shoot me an email!  Happy Spring Everyone!

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Market Mondays: Kirkland Condos and Holiday Happenings

Happy Monday everyone! Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? It’s been an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store personally and professionally. I am grateful to be part of such an exciting and dynamic time in real estate.  Nothing is more fulfilling than walking alongside each and every one of you through this process.  While most people don’t think of the holidays as a good time for house-hunting, that may be just the reason to do it. Less competition with other buyers and more motivated sellers can mean a smoother transaction and more leverage in the negotiation process.

This week we are taking a quick look at the Kirkland/Bridle condo market.  There have been 94 condominiums sold in the last 90 days, ranging from a low of $105,500 – $3.1 million with a median sale price of $350,000.  With 43 active listings ranging from $169,950 – $5.75 million and a median listing price of $375,000 there is about 1.4 months supply of inventory in the market! There is typically a shortage of inventory during the winter months, however, sellers are still seeing 98% percent of their listing price…people are still buying houses! With low interest rates and a healthy market, it is a prime time to buy and sell!

As we move into 2015, where do you see yourself next year? Is buying your first home or perhaps moving into a larger home one of your goals? I have talked to a lot of people who are looking into buying homes in 2015 and I challenge you to write down what that looks like for you! We have a lot of exciting things planned and will be holding a webinar workshop for First Time Home-Buyers in January that will take you step by step through the process as well as allow for any questions you may have….so stay tuned and get your questions ready! 

As a continuation of last week and as I can’t help but marvel at all the beautiful light displays, there is one house that has developed quite the reputation in the Kirkland neighborhood AND shows huge support for our beloved Seahawks.  Dubbed the “Seahawks House” by locals, this home is a sight to behold, it’s one you MUST check out for yourself! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

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Market Mondays: 2015 Economic Forecast

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This week I have decided to step back briefly and look at the market from a macro level as well as discussing predictions for 2015 that were shared at a recent conference.  It’s interesting and exciting to see where the housing market is headed, as well as the economic health of the real estate market as we head into 2015.  Before I dive into that information, as of October 27th, 2014 King County is at about 2.6 months supply of inventory while Snohomish County is hovering around 3.1 months supply of inventory.  Those numbers are a 4.2% increase from October 2014 in King County and a 6.2% increase in Snohomish.  With interest rates at a 16 month low, it is a great time to get in there and take advantage of this market if you are thinking of buying or selling your home.

What is the state of the real estate market?  Well, we are currently down 10.6% nationally from peak values in 2006, however, we are slowly making our way back up as demonstrated by the graph below.

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As demonstrated above, all but one top 30 metro areas show annual home value appreciation.  Seattle Metro leads the Puget Sound in annual home value gain at 8.3%, while other areas of the country who were drastically impacted by the recession are seeing a big jump in annual appreciation as well.

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Seattle Metro is currently down 11.5% from it’s peak, compared to the national average of 10.6%.

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Although Seattle Metro is slightly below the national average, what we are seeing is a steady increase in inventory, resulting in a healthier and more sustainable market as well as softening the rate of appreciation (which is still significant, regardless).  The nature of markets are to rise and fall (think rolling hills), however, slow and steady is preferred over sharp inclines and falls.

Are you ready for some good news?

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According to the National Association of Realtors and as demonstrated by the Zillow Real Estate Research for Professionals tool, negative equity has declined steadily since quarter 1 of 2012, which is great news for home buyers and home owners alike.  However, negative equity remains at 17% nationally and is highest in the bottom value tier.  The number of homes underwater is above 25% nationally and 30% in the Seattle area.  The middle value tier is 13% and the top value tier is 6% in the Seattle area.  Although these numbers are declining annually, there are still many homeowners who are underwater, especially in the bottom value tier.

As we move into 2015, mortgage rates are expected to rise, with interest rates expected to reach the 5% mark (which is still fantastic, historically), while rent affordability is below the historical average on a national level.  Renter households are forming faster than owner households for the first time since the late 1980’s and the market is responding with higher rental rates and a shortage of available rentals while the market struggles to keep up with the demand.  (translation: don’t rent if you can buy!)

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Below are some year over year percent change forecasts for Snohomish County, by city.  Appreciation rates are expected to continue to gain, however, slightly less than in 2014.  With rental rates skyrocketing, as well as a shortage of available rentals and low interest rates, now is a great time to get into a home for a first time home-buyer.  Investment properties in the bottom value tier to generate rental income are also a great option, it’s an exciting time in the real estate market around the country.  Please contact me with any questions you have at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com or call/text 425.324.0302.  I am available to help with any of your real estate needs.

And in other Simple Tranquil Living news, the holidays are quickly approaching! Okay, so that may not be news to you, but here at Simple Tranquil Living we have a lot of fun with holiday festivities so stay tuned for a special Halloween post and perhaps another GIVEAWAY! Happy Monday everyone!