Category Archives: Home Exterior/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.

 

20 Tips to Prepare Your House for Sale

Thinking about selling your home this summer? We’ve got 10 tips to help you improve your home’s curb appeal to draw in potential buyers, and 10 tips to make your house feel like home to lucky homebuyers. Have questions about selling? Let us know. Team Marti is here to help!

 

Avoid These 8 Home Security Mistakes to Prevent Summer Burglaries

Avoid these 8 home security mistakes to prevent a summer burglary.According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice cited by Alarms.org, on average, burglary rates are the highest in the summer. Winter has the lowest burglary rate, with February having the lowest amount of burglaries.

Did you know that break-ins are 6% more likely to occur during the day between 6 AM and 6 PM while people are at work? According to the FBI, there were 1.9 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2013, or approximately one every 16 seconds. About a third of these occurred through an unlocked door or window, says Urban Survival.

There is good news though. There are easy ways for you to protect your home and your belongings by avoiding these home security mistakes.

  1. A full mailbox. This is a clue to a would-be burglar that no one is home. Make sure that your mail doesn’t accumulate when you go out of town, whether it is a day trip or a week’s vacation. Ask a neighbor to take in your mail, or have the U.S. Post Office hold your mail for up to 30 days.
  2. Hiding a spare key in an obvious place. Don’t hide a spare key where it is likely to be found, like in a flower pot by the door, under the welcome mat, or one of those fake rocks that we all know are for hiding keys. Better yet, instead of hiding one outside, give a spare key to a trusted neighbor in case you lock yourself out.
  3. Talking about your trips on social media. These days so many of us post photos and check-ins of our vacations and business trips on social media. This is an invitation to a burglar looking for an easy target. Wait until you get back to post the pix, and/or tighten your security settings on social media so only your friends can see your posts.
  4. Disabling your security alarm. Because more residential burglaries occur during the day, you should not disable the alarm when you’re home during the day. Leave it enabled to protect your home and your family from a daytime break-in.
  5. Leaving doors and windows unlocked. We get comfortable in our surroundings and assume that no one will try climbing in a window or letting themselves into your home through an unlocked door. Wrong. Upgrade to heavy-duty door and window locks, use dowel rods or similar devices to keep your windows from being able to easily slide open, or consider getting door and window alarms which go off when the door or window is opened.
  6. Leaving your garage door open and unlocked. Once upon a time, neighbors would leave their garage doors open, so they could easily go in and out of their homes on the weekends while their kids were playing outside or they were working in the yard. This creates an opportunity for a thief to get inside effortlessly. Err on the side of caution. Leave the door down and locked when not in use.
  7. Poor lighting. A poorly lit exterior can provide good cover for a burglar who wants to break into your home at night. Add exterior lighting or perhaps lights with a motion detector sensor.
  8. A ladder in the yard. Yes, taking your ladder in and out of the garage while you are working on an exterior project can be a pain, but leaving the ladder out is an easy way for a burglar to enter your home through the second story.

 

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

 

 

 

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!

Curb Appeal – 5 Tips to Make Your Home Look Its Best This Fall

Curb appeal is essential when  you are trying to sell your home. Here are some easy tips and tricks for boosting your home’s curb appeal, while keeping your home cozy and inviting this fall.

  1. autumn-200293_640Look at your exterior paint. Is it a neutral color? Are there fewer than three colors on the outside of the house? Make sure you keep your house a neutral color, and keep the amount of colors to a minimum to keep the focus on your house. Maybe think about changing your accent color if you don’t want to paint the entire house. Is the paint aging well, or is it flaky and in need of repainting? Talk to your Realtor® to see if repainting will raise the value of your home enough to pay for the cost of painting.
  2. Keep the lawn free of debris. With fall, all the leaves are coming down, and when people see leaves all over the lawn, it makes them wonder how much work the lawn really is. Rake leaves and dispose of them if you can.
  3. Clean up the exterior of the house. Once the leaves are off the trees, you’ll see more of your house from the street. Pressure wash the exterior to make it extra clean, and apply a fresh coat of paint to any chipping or fading areas. Clean out the gutters as well! Gutters are important to letting buyers know you care about the upkeep of your home. It will also help protect your home from water damage.
  4. Add exterior lighting. Days are becoming shorter, and it becomes more and more critical to light up the exterior of your house. This will not only provide a safe path to your door, but make buyers feel like there’s an extra layer of security in a well-lit area.
  5. Create an inviting entrance. With the right fall accents and lighting, your front porch and entryway will welcome potential buyers. Be subtle though. If your home is for sale, this may not be the time to show your Halloween spirit and love of zombies and witches.

Use these tips and tricks to get more “window shoppers” to schedule a tour of your home. For more ideas on curb appeal, talk to your Realtor who has the expertise and experience for marketing your home. Good luck!

 

Create a Backyard Sanctuary This Summer

Fire pitOur gorgeous, not-too-hot summers are one of the many reasons I love the Seattle area. Make this summer one of your favorites by transforming your backyard into an outdoor sanctuary. Here are some great tips from Better Homes & Gardens to inspire you:

  • Turn a boring concrete slab into a fab patio with concrete paint in a bold color. Wash down the concrete surface, remove dirt and grime with a stiff brush, create a pattern with painter’s tape or masking tape, and paint away!
  • Use salvaged objects to create inexpensive, unique planters, or use architectural remnants to dress up your backyard, giving it a lived in, shabby chic look.
  • Give old patio furniture a new look with a fresh coat of outdoor-friendly paint. Using weather resistant fabrics, recover or replace cushions.
  • Drape outdoor lighting along tree branches and trellises or across patio umbrellas or arbors to add a festive touch. Use bright lights for a party atmosphere or softer lighting for quiet evenings.
  • Add color to your garden with potted annuals for a quick, low maintenance burst of color.
  • Create a cozy nook in a shaded corner of your garden. Add a picnic table and chairs or comfy patio chairs and an umbrella with lights.
  • Use a fire pit as the centerpiece for your outdoor living space. Buy one or build one to enjoy all summer long!

For more ideas, check out these BH&G articles online:

Budget Landscaping
15 Cheap Backyard Ideas
Outdoor Entertaining Spaces

 

5 Backyard DIY Projects to Try This Weekend

We love Sunset magazine, not just because it is focused on the West, but because it has such great ideas. Here are 5 backyard do-it-yourself projects (from Sunset’s list of 53!) that you can try this weekend:

  1. Get organized. Build a home recycling center to hide those trash cans and recycling bins.
  1. Feeling crafty? Make this cute outdoor chandelier with a wire basket and mason jars.
  1. If you enjoy entertaining, make this simple, portable dining retreat with potted plants, PVC pipe, mosquito netting and lights.
  1. No space is too small to build this raised planter salad box to grow greens year-round.
  1. Creating this five-section, stackable compost bin is easy-peasy and good for the environment!