Find a New Home in Four Steps

Posted in Buying by Marilou Ubungen

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a current owner looking for a bigger home, the ideas below will help you better navigate that all-important first step: Finding a property that you like (and can afford).

The search for a new home always starts out with a lot of excitement. But if you haven’t prepared, frustration can soon set in, especially in a competitive real estate market. The biggest mistake is jumping into a search unfocused, just hoping to “see what’s available.” Instead, we recommend you first take some time to work through the four steps below.

Step 1: Talk to your agent

Even if you’re just thinking about buying or selling a house, start by consulting your real estate agent. An agent can give you an up-to-the-minute summary of the current real estate market, as well as mortgage industry trends. They can also put you in touch with all the best resources and educate you about next steps, plus much more. If you are interested in finding an experienced agent in your in your area, we can connect you here.

Step 2: Decide how much home you can afford

It may sound like a drag to start your home search with a boring financial review, but when all is said and done, you’ll be glad you did. With so few homes on the market now in many areas, and so many people competing to buy what is available, it’s far more efficient to focus your search on only the properties you can afford. A meeting or two with a reputable mortgage agent should tell you everything you need to know.

Step 3: Envision your future

Typically, it takes at least five years for a home purchase to start paying off financially, which means, the better your new home suits you, the longer you’ll most likely remain living there.

Will you be having children in the next five or six years? Where do you see your career heading? Are you interested in working from home, or making extra money by renting a portion of your home to others? Do you anticipate a relative coming to live with you? Share this information with your real estate agent, who can then help you evaluate school districts, work commutes, rental opportunities, and more as you search for homes together.

Step 4: Document your ideal home

When it comes to this step, be realistic. It’s easy to get carried away dreaming about all the home features you want. Try listing everything on a piece of paper, then choose the five “must-haves,” and the five “really-wants.”

For more tips, as well as advice geared specifically to your situation, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent by clicking here.

Posted on November 26, 2018 at 8:06 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling, Colorado Real Estate, Conifer Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Kittredge Real Estate, Lakewood Real Estate, Money, Morrison Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

6 Foyers That Invite in Style

Entryway 1Jackson and LeRoy, original photo on Houzz

With a side entrance to your home, you can be a little more forgiving when it comes to messes. But with a front-door entry, through which you and your guests get a first impression of your home, you’ve got to be a little more on top of your style and storage game. The following are some of the most popular front-entry photos recently, as measured by the number of people who saved them to their Houzz ideabooks from January through March. Let us know which will inspire your next project

A classic wooden bench offers a spot to take off and put on shoes in this farmhouse-style entryway in Utah.

Related: Wipe Your Shoes on a Durable Outdoor Rug

Entryway 2Nicole Benveniste Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Benjamin Moore’s Plaster of Paris paint on the walls sets the soothing tone for this spacious San Francisco entry. A large painting featuring pale swaths of color hangs over a few well-chosen accessories atop a weathered wood table, starting this home off on the right foot.

Entryway 3Brian Paquette Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Here, a burl-wood-type table and vibrant abstract art create movement and excitement.

Related: Flower Vases for the Entryway

Entryway 4Tim Barber Ltd Architecture, original photo on Houzz

A rich wood built-in helps organize this Los Angeles entry. A frosted, ribbed glass window obscures the view into the living room.

Entryway 5NEST Interior Design Group, original photo on Houzz

An eclectic mix of art and accessories beckons guests into this Houston home. A table offers a spot for keys and wallets, while wire baskets below can handle shoes and bags.

Entryway 6Fluidesign Studio, original photo on Houzz

 Creamy shiplap walls, rich wood floors and a wood console table establish a refreshing air in this Minneapolis home.

By Mitchell Parker, Houzz

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 7:39 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

5 Deal Breakers that can blindside home buyers

Purchasing a home can be a complex endeavor for even the most well-prepared home buyer.  You’ve diligently saved for your down payment, followed the market, researched agents and now you are ready to make an offer on your dream home.  Don’t let these 5 “Deal Breakers” come between you and your new home.

Big Purchases on Credit. It is tempting to buy the furniture for your new home or a new car for the garage before the sale closes. Take care if you are making these purchases on credit. Large purchases on credit can have a major impact on your credit profile which effects your mortgage application. It’s a better plan to wait until after closing or pay cash for these transactions or you may be putting that furniture in a different living room than you originally picked them out for.

Overpaying. Before your bank will approve your mortgage they will appraise the home you are purchasing.  If they feel you are overpaying they are likely to decline your mortgage application. If you find yourself in this situation consult with your agent on renegotiating your offer to be more in line with the bank’s appraised value.

Purchasing too close to Foreclosure. If you are making an offer on a house which is facing foreclosure be sure to have a closing date set before the foreclosure date. Have your agent work with the lender to structure closing before the house goes back to the bank and into foreclosure.

IRS liens. You’ve heard the old saying “Death and Taxes”.  Back taxes and liens can derail your attempts to get financing for a mortgage so be sure to have your books in order before filing your loan application.

Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is a database of insurance claims for both people and property.  Your home insurance rates are determined by the information about you and the property you plan to purchase which is contained in this report. Past claims for water damage, falling trees and even dog bites from present and past owners can multiply your insurance rates. Consult your agent about the CLUE report for your future home as soon as possible once your home purchase offer is accepted.

When purchasing a home there will be challenges which you can plan for and the unexpected hurdles.  By educating yourself as a consumer and choosing a well trained real estate agent you can avoid many of the pitfalls of 21st century home ownership.

What about you? Tell us if you have had any “deal breaker” experiences.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 7:22 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Fruit Trees for a Small Garden

Fruit

I have a very small backyard, but I still dream of planting a garden with a few fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, kale or strawberries.  I never thought I had enough space for a fruit tree until I recently discovered dwarf fruit trees. Even if you have a large garden area, dwarf fruit trees are a great option as they take much less space.

Dwarf fruit trees:

Come in many types – apples, cherries, lemons, oranges, pears and more

    • Grow anywhere from 3 to 15 feet tall
    • Can grow in an 8″ diameter pot or in the ground
    • Yield full size fruit
    • Require 8-10 hours of full sun
    • Usually the variety of fruit is grafted to a type of rootstock that keeps the tree shorter (a rootstock is a type of root that is specifically grown for other plants to be attached to)

Where can you find one?
Your local nursery is the best place to find a dwarf fruit tree.

Glean extra fruit for your local food bank
If you end up with more fruit than you can eat, be sure to find a gleaning organization in your area. These groups can collect the extra fruit throughout a neighborhood and donate the harvest to a local food bank.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 28, 2018 at 11:53 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,

A little goes a long way: a top ten list for making the most of your home improvement

This weekend I spent the greater part of Saturday taking care of the ongoing household to do list and the transformation made a huge impact. There certainly is more to do, as is the nature of home improvement, but having a finite list of things to accomplish and making time to enjoy them made all the hard work worth it! Here is my top ten list of how to make the most of your time when tackling home-improvement projects.

1. Imagine your perfect place. Your home should reflect your personality, the way you spend your time, and fit your needs. If you want a place to entertain, to relax and meditate, to create art, nurture your children, or display your collections, you will want to consider your priorities. Once you have explored the possibilities the next step is to prioritize your to-do list in order to make the most impact.

2. Make a list. Some home project lists could go on and on (and on), so it’s a good idea to write out a list and discuss the details with the members of your household so you know where to start and who is responsible for what.

3. Prioritize. Once you know what needs to be done it’s time to prioritize the list. If there is something timely (like getting gutters before the fall) keep that in mind when prioritizing, but also think about those projects that will bring you the most joy in daily life.

4. Do one project that really makes a difference. I recently finished sprucing up the living and dining rooms with new curtains and new furniture for storage and display. These are the rooms I spend the most time in at home, so the difference is palpable to how I view my home. Now we are ready for a big dinner party which is one of the most important things in our household. From this experience, I realized that small changes and some cleanup can make a huge difference.

5. Keep it reasonable. Make sure your list is reasonable. The goal isn’t to get everything done in one weekend, which typically isn’t feasible anyway. Rather, you want the time you invest in your home to be enjoyable and give you the sense of satisfaction (and motivation to do more).

6. Gather your tools. Nothing will derail a project like not having the right tools. Once you know what you are going to accomplish make sure all your supplies are ready. You’ll be far more efficient if you hit the hardware store, fabric store, gas station, etc. prior to getting started.

7. Work together. Some projects are two-people projects. If you share your household, enlist other members to share the work. Some projects need two people to lift, spot, hand tools, push, pull, etc. If you live alone, have a work party by inviting a friend over to help. You can return the favor if they ever need help with a household project.

8. Enjoy the process. Blast music, take breaks, and step back to reflect on your household improvement. If you need to dedicate a weekend to doing your chores, you may as well still enjoy it!

9. Get the list done. If you’ve taken the time to make your list reasonable you shouldn’t have any trouble completing it. Doing so will reaffirm your sense of accomplishment, so when you look at what was done, you won’t be thinking about what you have to do next.

10. Bask in your success. Focus on the improvement, enjoy your space, and most importantly, use it! If you made your bedroom a sanctuary, light a candle and relax with a good book. If you reconfigured your kitchen for more efficient use, have your own Iron Chef moment and cook a huge meal. Just remember, all your planning and hard work should be enjoyed.

What are your tips for making the most out of your home?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Increase your living space—and your home’s value

Cooking and dining alfresco is arguably the single greatest thing about warm weather in spring and summer, but most backyard barbeques involve a million trips to and from the kitchen. As such, one of the hottest trends in new home construction is outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchens typically feature a comfortable eating area with a combination of cabinets, sinks, warming drawers, prep counters, ranges, and refrigerators—all within arm’s reach of the grill. Outdoor kitchens provide a natural gathering spot for friends and family and can add to the value of your home.

How elaborate your outdoor kitchen should be depends on how often you plan to use it. Some people enjoying dining outdoors every evening, while others reserve it for special occasions and social gatherings. Regardless of the frequency of use, you need to use materials that do well in all kinds of weather. Stone sinks, stainless steel cabinets, and slate countertops will withstand the Seattle rain, as well as the months that pass between barbeque seasons. Many outdoor kitchens also feature pergolas or other roof structures to shield guests from sun and rain. Something else to consider is adding an outdoor gas heater or fireplace, which will extend the amount of time you can use your outdoor kitchen into the fall and winter months.

In addition to the convenience of having all your grilling accoutrements within a handy distance, a well-built outdoor kitchen also adds to the value of your home. And you don’t have to have a new home to reap the benefits. With the right space and backyard layout, owners of existing homes can easily add-on an outdoor kitchen area. When adding an outdoor kitchen to an existing home, power, gas, and water lines often have to be extended from the home, so be sure to hire a qualified contractor to do the work for you. By extending your living space outside, you have essentially increased the square footage of your home. In many cases the increase in your home’s value will equal or even sometimes exceed the cost of the project itself.

The benefits of an outdoor kitchen area and living space are many. And with the convenience of having your drinks, condiments, meat, and cooking space all in one easy-to-reach place, you can spend the precious summer moments right where you should—outside with friends and family.

What features would you include in an outdoor kitchen?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen and our agents, please contact us here.

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 8:02 pm
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Read Across America Day: Assisting Our Communities with Literacy Programs

“Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.”  – Dr. Seuss

What is Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day was created by the National Education Association (NEA) and is held annually to promote reading for children and young adults. This day was created on March 2, 1998, and coincides with the popular American children’s book writer Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools and education systems across the country create events and activities on this day to bring people together and participate in reading books. This day is tremendously important to educators, parents, and children across the nation as the NEA represents about 3 million teachers, faculty and administrators that are provide activities and resources.

How do schools celebrate the day?

The NEA launched Read Across America last year by having a reading extravaganza with over 400 public school students. This kick off was in Washington D.C. where special guests The Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and The Great Zucchini entertained and read to the public-school students who attended.  In hundreds of other schools across the U.S., teachers read students their favorite Dr. Seuss books. Some also dressed up as the Cat in the Hat and prepared green eggs and ham.

How is Windermere Involved?

Last year, the Windermere Foundation was proud to assist many community and school programs that provide resources for students in need. One example is Olympic Hills Elementary School in North Seattle which was able to purchase 130 new books for their library from a grant that came from the Windermere Foundation.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen and our clients, please contact us here.

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Spatially Limited Gardening: The Indoors is the New Outdoors

DecorativeFlower2It is the official start to the gardening season! For those who have large outdoor spaces, it is the perfect time of year to make a trip to the home and garden store, work in your gardens,  and plant new growth. For those who live in smaller city quarters and whose outdoor space comfortably holds little more than a potted plant, we are forced to be more creative with our green space.

Decorative plants and nurturing vegetation is something that makes my house a home, even if small city living quarters has forced us to learn to take the outdoors- in and work with what space we have. Indoor plants, flowers, and gardens are a pleasing alternative when you do not have the space or the desire to be outdoors. Adding some green to your home can be decorative, fragrant, and even edible.  Planting and nurturing your growth is a fun do-it-yourself project that can be a whole household activity.

Where to start

How will you grow and what supplies will you need? First decide on your method of growing.

Traditional Potted Plants are a great starting point for the non-gardening types. Potting plants is relatively simple, cost efficient, and spatially low maintenance. Check out these ideas for potting and planting in small spaces.

Vertical Gardens break away from the customary terracotta pot. They are both modern and space saving. In a vertical garden you are able to grow a variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. They can be practical and decorative inside or out. Learn more about creating your own vertical garden here.

Hydroponic Systems are a soil-free gardening solution that can involve little to no pesticide use. Green Tree’s Hydroponicsreports that the growth rate of a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than that of a soil plant. Here’s what it takes to build your own, however you can also purchase hydroponic systems online.

Terrariums are “making a comeback” according to the New York TimesTerrariums can be uniquely ornamental and perfect for tight spaces that need a hint of green. Check out some samples and get design ideas here.

What growing methods have worked well for you?

What to grow?

That are good to eat …

Herbs: growing edible items can be very rewarding. Herbs are my go-to item to grow inside because they are low maintenance and take up little space. I prefer to pot basil, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, and oregano.

Grasses, like wheat grass, are becoming popular to grow indoors and decorate your home with.

Fruits and vegetables tend to take up more space and are more demanding. However tomatoes, peppers, radishes, leaf lettuce, potatoes, and carrots are a few fruits/vegetables that will grow well indoors.

That are good to look at …

Several flowers and house plants will flourish and bloom indoors. I enjoy the fragrance of Gardenia and the appeal of a Boston Fern in a hanging basket. However, using a plant encyclopedia will help you find which plant is right for you and your home.

What do you prefer to grow?

Making it look good?

The great part about bringing your garden inside is that it lets you use vegetation as a decoration. Whether you prefer to arrange flowersstring kokedama, or paint a fun plant pot, your vegetation and the way you display it can have an impact to your overall décor. How do you decorate with your vegetation?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 11, 2018 at 6:41 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Make the Most of the Home You Have

TableModern

If you have been in your home for a while you may be restless for change. The great part about having a home of your own is you can make improvements and give your home a chance to evolve over time. You just need to help your home live up to its potential!  Here is a top ten list of improvements that will help you make the most of your home.

  • Find your home’s purpose. Each home is as unique as its owners, so in order to fully utilize your home, consider how you view your home’s purpose. Some people like to entertain, others find it a calm space in the frenzy of daily life; some nurture their families and others nurture their creativity. Your home’s purpose can be any combination of these and more, but it helps to consider the function of your space in order to ultimately find its purpose.
  • Assemble a list. A list always helps me figure out where to start or prioritize what is the most important project. Think about what you want to change in your home, inspirations, and preferences. .
  • Make an “inspiration board”. An “inspiration board” is a great way to visualize your home’s decor. You can create a board online with a tool like Pinterest to organize ideas you love or you can do it the old fashioned way with a board, magazine cutouts, color swatches, and fabric samples. Doing this will allow you to see all the elements you like in one place so that you can then tie it all together into a room you love.

 

    • Create a collection. If you have items that you like to collect, think about how to transform that collection into something you can display. If you don’t already have a collection of loved objects think about what this collection would be for you. You can center a room design around your travel souvenirs, old camera collection, figurines, unique plates, or familial objects. Adding to this collection over time can be a great way to keep your spaces new  while maintaining a personal feel to your decor.
    • Choose a new palate. Shake up your sensibilities and think of a color that will compliment your room while making a statement. It’s easy to fall into the white/beige standby to keep our rooms neutral, but sometimes a color that provides a contrast to your décor will make the room pop.
    • Re purpose an old piece of furniture. Instead of replacing your furniture give it a facelift. You can have a sofa or chairs reupholstered or make use of a slip cover. Also, Painting and staining can add new life to your wood pieces.
    • Rearrange. Moving furniture around is another easy way to reinvent your space. Try placing your sofa on an angle to open up your entertaining room or move your lamps to improve lighting. You can also think about moving a piece of furniture into a room to give it new life, like using a unique dresser for a credenza or a chair as a side table.
    • Make a room of your own. Find some space in your home that is uniquely yours, whether this is the corner of the guest room or an office of your own. It can be very rewarding to have a space that you can organize to fit your personal needs without the worries of others intruding
    • Find an inspirational object. Have you ever fallen in love with an object that inspired you to want to completely redo a room to accommodate it? Designing a room around an inspiring object can be a great way to create a space that truly embodies your design sensibility.
    • Find design motivation. Home design evolves over time and can be sustained by finding items that inspire you. Read magazines and books that inspire your interests in architecture, design, art, etc. Or find stores and flea markets that sell pieces that influence your aesthetic. Or bring a camera with you when you’re doing your favorite activities and bring back memories or inspirations. Most of all have fun!

What inspires your home design?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 8, 2018 at 6:21 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Outdoor Living Trends

Summer is just around the corner and there is no better way to prepare than indulging in some exciting backyard inspiration. Your outdoor living space can be more than just a place to spend time with family and friends; it can be your sanctuary as well. This year is the time to turn your backyard into your own personal vacation spot.

Sunken hot tub

If you don’t have a tub already, consider adding a sunken hot tub into your backyard with a deck of natural stone, tall grasses, and outdoor curtains for privacy.  Include pillar candles and some twinkling lights for ambiance.

Modern outdoor kitchen

If you entertain a lot, a kitchen is the ideal outdoor space for summer entertaining. Bring out your inner Bobby Flay with a cooking station that includes a high-end grill, refrigerator, wine chiller, and elegant washbasin. Round this all out with a concrete counter, bluestone tile floor, and stainless steel.

Outdoor theater

Nothing says summer like outdoor movies and your own personal drive-in. All you need is a projector to watch your favorite movie, some dangling lights in the trees, blankets, and pillows. You could also watch it from a hanging bench or my personal favorite, a floating bed.

Vegetable and fruit gardens

Gardening can go beyond being a relaxing pastime; consider growing your favorite foods and join the “farm to table” movement. In 2012, people spent $1.2 billion more dollars on food gardening than they did flower gardening. An easy way to incorporate this is to use blueberries as foundation plants or other fruits, such as raspberries. If you already have flowers planted, tuck a pepper plant or basil in between your flowers.

Reading nook

A reading nook outdoors is the perfect way to get lost in your favorite book or magazine. You can convert a small shed into a private reading spot, an arbor with a bench surrounded by clematis, or a relaxing hammock. These hideaway spots are what turn your home into a staycation resort.

Fire pits

Is your ideal summer situated by a campfire? Build a fire pit and enjoy s’mores in the comfort of your backyard. Use an old wine barrel, bricks, stones, or a concrete bowl. A lowered fire pit is great if you want to use sand for a beachy atmosphere. On a warm summer night a campfire sets just the right mood for outdoor fun.

Water features

Having a water feature in your backyard instantly creates a Zen space.  They can deflect unwanted attention by drowning out unwelcome sounds. Add a fountain, pondless waterfall, or small stream to complete the vibe.  If you want a smaller commitment, a shallow recirculating foundation will also do the trick. All you need is a simple foundation and recirculating pump.

To enhance your space with little to no cost, add dangling vines or twinkling lights as a finishing touch to create your backyard haven. Time is something there never seems to be enough of, but these low-maintenance enhancements will enable you to spend that time in your very own outdoor living space.

For more outdoor living ideas, follow our Pinterest board.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm
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