Category Archives: Lawns & Landscaping

5 Projects to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal This Fall

We’ve said it a thousand times, but it still remains true – curb appeal is everything. It’s what draws a potential homebuyer to want to see the inside of your home. Here are 5 simple, affordable upgrades you can make to your home now to improve its curb appeal this fall:

  1. 5 Projects to Improve Home's Curb Appeal This FallLandscaping: Add fresh mulch to the base of your treas and other plans, and add seasonal plants like mums to your flower beds for a colorful fall look. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, but you still want seasonal decor for your home, add a fall-themed wreath or to your front door or potted mums to your porch.
  2. Upgrade outdoor accessories: Replace those faded house numbers, paint your mailbox or get a new front door. These small, but affordable changes can give your house a fresh, well-maintained look that will entice homebuyers to want to see more.
  3. Keep your lawn groomed. Yes, it is fall and it can be hard to keep up with the falling leaves, but it is important to keep your lawn groomed, especially if you are trying to sell your home. Keep your lawn freshly mowed, the weeds under control, trees and shrubs trimmed and the leaves raked.
  4. Pressure wash the exterior of your home, your porch and patio or deck. Particularly in the Pacific Northwest where moss can accumulate, it is important to pressure wash your home and outdoor living areas. This also makes your home look cared for.
  5. Add or upgrade your outdoor lighting. As our days get shorter, outdoor lighting can create an easy-on-the-eyes aesthetic while also providing an important function – a well lit path to your door. Consider decorative lights along sidewalks, flood lights near entrances and new porch lights.

 

Team Marti’s Fall Maintenance Tips

Team Marti's Fall Maintenance TipsMake sure your home is ready for the changing seasons with this handy fall home maintenance checklist from Team Marti:

Inside:

  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries.
  • Replace furnace filters.
  • Seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors.
  • Install storm doors and windows.
  • Check weather stripping around your garage door.
  • Clean your humidifiers.
  • Reverse direction of ceiling fans.

Outside:

  • Clean and repair gutters and downspouts.
  • Drain outside faucets and hoses.
  • Make repairs or repaint peeling or blistering paint.
  • Have your roof inspected and schedule repairs.
  • Clean and store lawn furniture.
  • Prepare your lawn and gardens for winter.
  • Check your driveway, sidewalk and patio for cracks.

 

 

9 Ways to Freshen Your Home’s Curb Appeal This Spring

Kent Realtor Marti Reeder: 9 Ways to Freshen Your Home’s Curb Appeal This SpringWhen you’re selling your home, you want to make a good first impression, so curb appeal is important. This is particularly true when you’re marketing your home online. According to HGTV, 88% of home searches begin online, so make sure your home is inviting.

Here are 9 ways to freshen your home’s curb appeal this spring:

  1. Take photos of your home and then look at them as if you were a prospective homebuyer. Do you see anything out of place (maybe kids’ toys in the garden or Fido’s bone on the front lawn) or that wouldn’t appeal to you as a potential buyer? Remove any unwanted items.
  2. Make obvious repairs or replacements. Are the house numbers faded or missing? Could your front door or mailbox use a fresh coat a paint? Is a shingle missing? Is one of your shutters crooked?
  3. Spruce up a paint job, siding, deck, driveway and sidewalk with a good pressure washing. It is an easy, affordable way to freshen your home’s exterior for springtime.
  4. Add some color with seasonal flowers in the garden, or add a colorful container garden to your front porch or patio. Clusters of three pots of different sizes and styles can also add a welcome pop of color.
  5. Evaluate your window treatments from the outside, including curtains, blinds and shutters. Do any of them need replacing? For example, if you have pets, the ends of blinds can sometimes get bent or broken, and those will be obvious from the outside. Changing out the blinds is an easy and affordable fix.
  6. Groom your lawn. This is true before and after your Realtor® takes photos. Groom your lawn. Keep your lawn freshly mowed, the edges trimmed, beauty bark freshened annually, and your trees and bushes pruned.
  7. Upgrade your lighting. Whether you are switching out a light fixture on your porch, adding landscape lights to a garden pathway or installing outdoor spotlights to your backyard, new lighting is a cost-friendly way to add ambience to your home’s exterior.
  8. Create an inviting entrance with a cozy front porch. In addition to the tips above, consider adding a seasonal wreath to your front door, attractive seating (maybe even a porch swing!), a new rug and a fresh coat of paint.
  9. Maximize outdoor living space, whether it is a side deck or a backyard patio. This might include lighting, landscaping, outdoor furniture, outdoor cooking spaces, play areas for the kids, butterfly garden, or even a backyard sanctuary.

If you’re considering listing your home this spring, and want suggestions for how to improve your home’s curb appeal, Team Marti can help. Contact us today.

Sources: HGTV and Forbes

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: Interior and Exterior

Make sure your home is ready for fall weather with this handy fall home maintenance checklist:

Home Interior Fall Maintenance Tips

  • Fall Home Maintenance ChecklistReplace furnace filters and have your furnace and fireplace serviced before you need them.
  • Do a fall safety check by testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries. Safety experts recommend you do this when the time changes twice a year, so you don’t forget.
  • Seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors in your home and basement with caulking or weather stripping. This will save energy and preserve heat in your home during the colder months.
  • Check the weather stripping around your garage door.
  • Reverse the direction of any ceiling fans so there is an upward draft. This will help redistribute heat that rises to the ceiling.
  • Store portable air conditioning units and clean and cover central air units.
  • Clean your humidifiers throughout the season to keep them free of bacteria and other germs.

Home Exterior Fall Maintenance Tips

  • Drain outside faucets and hoses, and do any repairs or maintenance to sprinkler systems.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts, so they can handle the fall rain without getting clogged. If you have old or damaged gutters, make repairs or replacements as soon as possible. New models have built-in leaf guards which will save you from hours of labor and your home from clogged gutters in the future.
  • Where possible, direct drainage away from the home. Consider a rain garden to improve drainage on your property while also protecting our waterways from pollution.
  • Check the exterior of your home, garage, shed and any other outbuildings for peeling or blistering paint. Make repairs or repaint in try weather. We recommend hiring a professional painter because this can be a time-consuming task.
  • Have your roof inspected for loose, damaged or missing shingles. Harsh fall storms and winter weather can compound any existing problems, so it is better to make repairs as soon as possible.
  • Do fall lawn maintenance including preparing your lawn and gardens for winter, trimming back trees and bushes that could get damaged by fall and winter winds, and rake autumn leaves which you can then use for compost or mulch. Fertilize your lawn for spring.
  • Check your driveway, sidewalk and patio for cracks. Make any necessary repairs.
  • Drain fuel from gas-powered lawn equipment like leaf blowers, lawn mowers, edgers and chain saws.
  • Clean and store patio, porch and deck furniture.

Yes, this seems like a lot of work, but preventative maintenance can save homeowners time and money down the road. And remember – you don’t have to do it yourself. There are plenty of highly skilled contractors throughout the Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Auburn and Renton area. If you need recommendations, let us know. Team Marti can offer suggestions!

 

7 Tips for Selling Your House in the Fall

Kent Realtor Marti Reeder: 7 Tips for Selling Your House in the FallThough the real estate market slows down a bit in the fall, it is still a good time to sell your home, especially in the greater Seattle area where home inventory and interest rates are both low. Here are some tips to help you prepare your home for sale.

 1. Clean up the exterior of your home. This means keeping your lawn, trees and shrubs neatly groomed, clearing out any flowers and plants that didn’t survive the summer, and keeping the leaves raked. It is also a good time to wash exterior windows, power wash the outside of your home, your front porch and deck.

2. Make the front of your home inviting. Don’t underestimate the value of curb appeal. You want the exterior of your home to be neat and clean, but you also want it to be inviting. This might mean putting flowers or plants (pumpkins even!) on your front porch, adding a seasonal wreath to your front door, giving your mailbox or front door a fresh coat of paint or replacing the old faded address numbers with something more attractive.

3. Clean your home’s interior, top to bottom. We always hear about spring cleaning, but fall cleaning is just as important. Give your home a thorough cleaning, including windows, blinds, ceiling fans, baseboards, floors, walls, if needed, etc. If you don’t have time, ask your Realtor® to refer you to a professional house cleaner in your area. It is well worth the money.

4. Declutter, depersonalize and organize your home, garage and any outbuildings. By doing so, potential buyers can more easily envision themselves in your home.

5. Prepare your home for fall weather. Take out or store window or portable air conditioners, replace screens with storm windows if your home has them, clean out your gutters, store your patio furniture, and consider having your furnace serviced.

6. Do minor repairs. This goes hand in hand with preparing your home for fall weather. Do the windows need caulking? Do any of the screens need repairing or replacing? Are any of your light fixtures broken or in need of an updated look?

7. Add seasonal touches to your home’s interior. This could mean a fall floral arrangement in your entryway, cozy autumn-colored throws in the family room, or a bowl of fall fruits on your kitchen counter. You could also take advantage of fall scents with candles or air fresheners – apple, cinnamon, pumpkin, etc.

During the initial walk-through of your home, your Realtor® can make additional suggestions for improving and staging your home to put the focus on its very best features. Happy selling!

 

Homebuyer Tool: Final Walk-Through Checklist

 

Do a Final Walk-Through Before Closing

Homebuyer Tool: Final Walk-Through Checklist

You’ve done it! You’ve found your dream home, and you are almost ready to sign the papers that will make it yours. While you are anxious to close the deal and move in, there is one critical last step before you do so – a final walk-through. You might be tempted to use this opportunity to give the house one more cursory glance as you plan where you’ll put your furniture, but this is your last chance to make sure the home is in good shape and that any repairs or changes have been made as agreed.

  1. Heating and Cooling Systems. Check to be sure that the heating and cooling systems in the home work, no matter what the season. You don’t want to wait until winter to know that the furnace or heat pump isn’t working.
  2. Plumbing. Turn on every faucet and showerhead and flush all the toilets. Do they all work? Is anything leaking? Is the water pressure appropriate? If not, make a note of it.
  3. Electrical Systems. Turn on all the lights and ceiling fans, find the fuse box and check to be sure that switch plates, fixtures, etc. are in place. If anything is missing, jot it down.
  4. Appliances. Are the appliances in good working order? Make sure that any appliances that are staying work. Turn on the dishwasher, make sure the refrigerator and freezer are cold, give the dryer a spin, test the garbage disposal, and check the microwave and bathroom fans.
  5. Home Security. If the home has a security system, is it working? Does the keypad work? How about the remotes? Do you know where everything is and do you have instructions on how to change passcodes, etc. once the home is yours?
  6. Windows and Doors. Open every window and door to ensure there aren’t any problems, and make sure you have keys to each door. Are the screens and storm windows intact? If the home has an electric garage door opener, check that too and be sure you have access to all remotes.
  7. Landscaping and Lawn Care. Check to be sure that the lawn has been left as you agreed to it. Make note of any problems with the fencing and, if there is a watering system, check to be sure that it works. Is anything missing?
  8. Repairs. If the current homeowner agreed to make any repairs prior to selling the home, or if the inspection required repairs or upgrades as a condition of sale, follow up to be sure these repairs have been made. Also, if the homeowner agreed to leave the ceiling fan, curtains or other items, check to be sure they are still in the home.
  9. Overall Condition of the Home. Is the home clean? Have all of the previous owner’s property been removed? If not, let your Realtor® know.

Make sure you have your Realtor along when you do the final walk-through, so she can serve as the liaison between you and the sellers should there be a problem. You’ll want to get everything resolved prior to closing. Enjoy your new home!

Sources:  Money Crashers, Realtor Magazine and Zillow

 

 

 

16 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat Without Air Conditioning

16 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat, Even Without Air ConditioningAccording to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), only 20% of Northwest Washington homeowners have air conditioning, with 42% cooling their homes through a heat pump in 2012. Compare this to Eastern Washington homes where 65% have air conditioning with 52% of those having central air, or Southwest Washington where 40% of homes had air conditioning via heat pump.

Wow – only 20% have air conditioning! Until a few years ago, we only had high summer temps a few weeks every summer, but in the last three or four years, we have many more hot days than we used to. In fact, in April, the Seattle area broke high-temperature records by hitting 89 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Now that’s hot!

Even if you love the heat, it can make daily life less pleasant at times. For the 80% of homeowners in Northwest Washington without air conditioning, we offer 16 ways for staying cool this summer.

  1. Keep blinds and curtains closed to block out the sun. You’ll stay cooler and save on energy costs.
  2. Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise and at a higher speed during the summer.
  3. Close off rooms that get sun during the hottest part of the day, and allow those rooms to cool at night.
  4. On cooler summer evenings, open your windows to let the breeze in.
  5. Create a cross-breeze inside your home by strategically placing your fans.
  6. Replace your heavy winter and fall sheets with lightweight cotton sheets to keep your bed cooler.
  7. Make your own air conditioner by putting a shallow bowl with ice in front of a fan to create a cool mist.
  8. Turn off and unplug personal electronics and small appliances, which can radiate heat, when not in use. Every little bit helps!
  9. Don’t use your stove or oven for cooking. Instead, make meals that don’t require heat (sandwiches, salads, etc.), or that you can microwave indoors or grill outside instead.
  10. Staying hydrated with ice water will help keep your body temperature cool.
  11. Keep frozen treats on hand – popsicles, slushies, smoothies, etc.
  12. Make space in your refrigerator and/or freezer for wet washcloths, sheets and other little luxuries you can grab to cool off when the heat gets unbearable.
  13. Cool or cold showers, if you can stand them, can also help bring down your body’s temperature before bed time.
  14. Take a dip in the pool, run through a lawn sprinkler, visit a water park or wade in a local lake.
  15. Swap out incandescent light bulbs, which give off heat, and replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are cooler and more environmentally friendly. Learn how to choose the best CFLs at Energy Star.
  16. Make improvements that will help keep your home cooler in the long-term, such as planting shade trees strategically or adding awnings or outdoor shades to shield your home from the sun.

If these tips aren’t enough to help you beat the worst days of the heat, go to an air conditioned restaurant for dinner, hang out at the library or movie theater when the heat is at its worst, or offer to bring takeover to your friends who have air conditioning!

Sources: NEEA, MyNorthwest.com, Huffington Post, Greatist, Lifehacker

 

5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for a Summer Sale

5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for a Summer SalePeople say that spring is the best time to sell your home, but Realtor.com says that 50% of homes are sold during the summer! June, in particular, tends to be the best time to sell your home. In fact, according to Trulia, June is 29% busier than any other month when it comes to real estate.

Home asking prices tend to peak at the beginning of the season, and in our current market, demand exceeds supply so quality homes are the first to go. Summer is also a good time for families with school-aged, so children can adapt to their new environment before the school year begins in late summer/early fall.

Ready to sell? Here are some ways to prepare your home for sale:

  1. Do necessary and obvious repairs, inside and out, including repairing leaking gutters, fixing chipped paint, cleaning floors, replacing broken tile, and repairing loose deck boards and cracks in the driveway.
  2. Declutter and depersonalize. Prospective homebuyers find it easier to imagine themselves in your home if it has a neutral feel of it, so put away the kids’ sports photos, collections and crafts. This is also a good time to declutter. It will help you get organized for the move, and it will make your home more appealing to home buyers.
  3. Focus on curb appeal. Realtors® talk about this a lot, but you want your home to look its best for seller photos, buyer drive-bys and open houses. This means maintaining a well-manicured lawn with seasonal flowers, a tidy front porch and a clean and cozy entry way.
  4. Stage your home for sale. In the Pacific Northwest, outdoor living in the summertime is a great way to extend the living space of your home. Hire a professional stager (your Realtor® can recommend someone) to stage the interior and exterior of your home. For example, stage the BBQ area with a nice set of tools and other BBQ accessories, keep your patio furniture clean and organize it in a cozy seating arrangement, and consider upgrading your outdoor décor.
  5. Keep it cool. When your Realtor® hosts an open house, make sure the air temperature in your home is comfortable. If it is hot out, turn on central air, if you have it. If you don’t have air conditioning, turn on your ceiling fans and open the windows to let in the fresh air. A pitcher of lemonade and freshly-baked cookies can’t hurt either!

If you’re ready to sell your home this summer, call a trusted, local Realtor for more tips on preparing your home for sale.

Summer Landscaping: 7 Tips for a Beautiful Yard

Summer Landscaping: 7 Tips for a Beautiful YardIt may still be spring, but we are experiencing some lovely summer weather. This is the perfect time to make sure your landscaping is up to par, so your lawn and gardens look beautiful year-round. This is particularly important if you are considering selling your home this year. Here are some summer yard maintenance and landscaping tips to get and keep your yard in tip top shape:

  1. Trim away dead or hanging branches. This improves the appearance and overall health of your trees, as well as preventing safety hazards from falling limbs.
  2. Check bushes, shrubs, vines and other large plants for overgrowth, particularly those that are close to your house. Untrimmed bushes look uncared for and they can interfere with your central air conditioning unit and trap moisture which can attract pests like termites and mosquitoes. Untrimmed bushes near windows also make good hiding places for burglars too!
  3. Make sure your lawn, trees and plants get sufficient water, but don’t overdo it. See the DIY Network’s “how to” guide for how often to water and how to do so properly.
  4. Reduce summer cooling costs and boost your home’s curb appeal with attractive landscaping. Mature shade trees like maple trees and oak trees can help cool your home, while darker stone can absorb heat better than light stone which reflects the sun.
  5. Add seasonal flowers and shrubs so that you have something in bloom most of the year. One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that our weather is mild enough to encourage year-round growth. Take advantage by planting bulbs in the fall for spring flowers, and plant annuals or perennials in the spring for year-round color.
  6. Keep your yard neat with regular lawn mowing and sidewalk trimming. In the summertime, you can get away with a slightly lower mower height (3 inches) to keep your lawn mowing to a minimum. Also, use an edging tool to stay on top of weeds and keep your lawn – and sidewalks – looking trim.
  7. Weed early and often. One disadvantage to a long growing season is that weeds can easily get out of control. To get rid of weeds without hurting your back, try using a weeding tool that pulls weeds out at the root!

While summer landscaping and maintenance can take work, it is a wonderful way to take advantage of the warmer weather and to invest in your home. Need some inspiration? Look online at lawn and garden sites or check out Pinterest for ideas for landscaping, gardening, container gardens, outdoor living and more. Good luck and enjoy your beautiful yard this summer!

Important Factors to Consider When Downsizing Your Home

Are you considering downsizing – or rightsizing – your current home to accommodate your changing needs? Maybe your kids have left for college, you have more space than you want to maintain, or perhaps you and your spouse are tired of caring for a large yard. Here are some important factors to consider as you consider downsizing your current home.

Important Factors to Consider When Downsizing or Rightsizing Your HomeAccording to Realtor.com, the first thing to consider is how much money downsizing will actually save you. You might be surprised to learn that downsizing does not always save money, so it’s critical to evaluate your expenses carefully. For example, if you downsize your home but move to a more expensive part of town, your bills may actually increase.

The same might be true if you’re moving into an older home which may have an outdated heating or electrical system. Will making repairs or replacements in an older home cost you more than staying where you are? To help make this decision easier, trying using a downsizing calculator to help figure out how moving will affect your finances.

Next, take a look at why you’re downsizing. Do you want to move just so you can save some extra money month to month? Have your kids left for college, or moved out on their own? Do you want to live in a condo to save time on lawn maintenance, or are you tired of climbing the stairs because of health concerns? All of these are valid reasons for wanting to move.

HGTV offers some important questions to ask yourself when you’re considering downsizing. For example, will you miss important things about having a more spacious home? How will different life scenarios pan out if you live in a smaller home? Take a look at your options to see if downsizing is really the right option for you. Will the cost of selling your current home cover the cost of buying your newer, smaller home?

You might also have to get rid of or replace things that you have come to know and love over the time that you’ve lived in a larger home. Know how small you’re willing to go with your home, and make decisions about personal belongings accordingly.

Like any other housing decision, you also need to take in common lifestyle and convenience factors. Will your home have what you need and what you want in it? Is it in a neighborhood you feel comfortable living in? Will you have enough space to live comfortably? Are the services and amenities you access regularly nearby? How much “stuff” will you have to part with if you move?

There are many factors to consider when downsizing or rightsizing. Think through all of them carefully before making your decision. Can’t quite decide? Discuss the choices with your family and consult an experienced Realtor® who specializes in rightsizing. They’ll be able to talk you through the decision more objectively. Good luck!