Stay Safe While Selling Your Home With Our Seller’s Checklist

Posted in Selling by John Trupin

Staying organized while uprooting your life and moving from one home to another can feel impossible. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers.  One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions. Like so many things in life, they can feel more manageable once written down, so we made this handy checklist.

  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting misplaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions: 

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lock boxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.
Posted on October 26, 2018 at 7:10 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling, Colorado Real Estate, Conifer Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Kittredge Real Estate, Lakewood Real Estate, Morrison Real Estate, Mountain Living | Tagged , , , ,

Home Inspections Matter So Be Sure to Get Them Right

Posted in Selling by John Trupin

For many people, a home inspection is a hurdle that has to be overcome during the process of buying or selling a home. But, in fact, it can be a useful tool for buyers, sellers or anyone who plans to get the greatest possible value from their home.

Find out if the house you are selling has “issues”

When you’re selling a house, a pre-sale inspection can be particularly useful. By uncovering any potential problems your house may have, an inspection can give you an opportunity to address them before your first prospective buyer arrives.

In any market, a pre-sale inspection can give your home a competitive edge. Potential buyers are likely to find the kind of detailed information an inspection provides reassuring—and are encouraged to give your home a closer look.

Get to know a house before you buy it

A home is a major investment and, for many people, the greatest financial asset they have. With so much at stake, it makes sense to do what you can to protect your financial interest. Getting an inspection is a smart, simple way to do just that.

When you make a written offer on a home, insist that the offer provide that your contract is contingent on a home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector. You’ll have to pay for the inspection yourself, but an investment of a few hundred dollars could save you thousands of dollars and years of headaches. If you’re satisfied with the results of the inspection and are assured that the home you’re purchasing is in good shape, you can proceed with your transaction, confident that you are making a smart purchase.

When does a home inspection make sense?

In addition to routine maintenance and pre-sale inspections, there are a number of circumstances in which a home inspection could greatly benefit a homeowner. If you are not sure, here are a few simple questions to ask yourself:

· Was your home inspected when you bought it? If not, an inspection would be beneficial even if your home was a new construction at sale.

· Are you an older homeowner who plans to stay in your home?  If so, it makes sense to hire a professional who can inspect difficult-to-reach areas and point out maintenance of safety issues.

· Do you have a baby on the way or small children? An inspection can alert you to any potential safety issues that could possibly affect a growing family, such as mold, lead or structural problems. If mold or lead is present, be sure to rely on technicians or labs with specialized training in dealing with these conditions.

· Are you buying a home that’s under construction? You may want to hire an inspector early on and schedule phased inspections to protect your interest and ensure that the quality of construction meets your expectations.

What doesn’t your home inspection cover?

For a variety of reasons, some homes will require special inspections that are not covered by a typical home inspection. A specialty inspection might include such items as your home’s sewer scope, septic system, geotechnical conditions (for homes perched on steep slopes or where there are concerns regarding soil stability) or underground oil storage tank. If you have any questions about whether or not your home needs a specialty inspection, talk to your real estate agent.

Hire a professional

If you decide to hire a home inspector, be sure they’re licensed in your state. They should be able to provide you with their license number, which you can use to verify their status with the appropriate government agency. It’s also helpful to ask for recommendations from friends and family members. Even among licensed and qualified home inspectors, there can be a difference in knowledge, performance and communication skills, so learn what you can before you hire a home inspector to ensure that you get the detailed inspection that you want.

What to ask your home inspector

Ask the right questions to make sure you are hiring the right professional for the job.

What does your inspection cover?

Insist that you get this information in writing. Then make sure that it’s in compliance with state requirements and includes the items you want to be inspected.

How long have you been in the business?

Ask for referrals, especially with newer inspectors.

Are you experienced in residential inspections?

Residential inspection in a unique discipline with specific challenges, so it’s important to make sure the inspector is experienced in this area.

Do you make repairs or make improvements based on inspection?

Some states and/or professional associations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in an inspection. If you’re considering engaging your inspector to do repairs, be sure to get referrals.

How long will the inspection take?

A typical single-family dwelling takes two to three hours.

How much will it cost?

Costs can vary depending upon a variety of things, such as the square footage, age, and foundation of the house.

What type of report will you provide and when will I get it?

Ask to see samples to make sure you understand his or her reporting style. Also, make sure the timeline works for you.

Can I be there for the inspection?

This could be a valuable learning opportunity. If your inspector refuses, this should raise a red flag.

Are you a member of a professional home inspector association? What other credentials do you hold?

Ask to see their membership ID; it provides some assurance.

Do you keep your skills up to date through continuing education?

An inspector’s interest in continuing education shows a genuine commitment to performing at the highest level. It’s especially important in older homes or homes with unique elements.

Posted on October 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling, Colorado Real Estate, Conifer Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Home Maintenance, Kittredge Real Estate, Lakewood Real Estate, Morrison Real Estate, Pine Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

How Staging Your Home Well Impacts Its Value

Posted by John Trupin

For more than 20 years, the benefits of staging a home have been well documented. Numerous studies show that staging helps sell a home faster and for a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 88 percent of homebuyers start their search online, forming impressions within three seconds of viewing a listing. When a home is well staged, it photographs well and makes the kind of first impression that encourages buyers to take the next step.

Studies also indicate that buyers decide if they’re interested within the first 30 seconds of entering a home. Not only does home staging help to remove potential red flags that can turn buyers off, it helps them begin to imagine living there. Homes that are professionally staged look more “move-in ready” and that makes them far more appealing to potential buyers.

According to the Village Voice, staged homes sell in one-third less time than non-staged homes. Staged homes can also command higher prices than non-staged homes. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate that staged homes sell for approximately 17 percent more than non-staged homes.

A measurable difference in time and money

In a study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association in 2007, a group of vacant homes that had remained unsold for an average of 131 days were taken off the market, staged, and relisted. The newly staged properties sold, on average, in just 42 days, – which is approximately 68 percent less time on the market.

The study was repeated in 2011, in a more challenging market, and the numbers were even more dramatic. Vacant homes that were previously on the market for an average of 156 days as unstaged properties, when listed again as staged properties, sold after an average of 42 days—an average of 73 percent less time on the market.

Small investments, big potential returns

Staging is a powerful advantage when selling your home, but that’s not the only reason to do it. Staging uncovers problems that need to be addressed, repairs that need to be made, and upgrades that should be undertaken. For a relatively small investment of time and money, you can reap big returns. Staged properties are more inviting, and that inspires the kind of peace-of-mind that gets buyers to sign on the dotted line. In the age of social media, a well-staged home is a home that stands out, gets shared, and sticks in people’s minds.

What’s more, the investment in staging can bring a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS, the average staging investment is between one percent and three percent of the home’s asking price, and typically generates a return of eight to ten percent.

In short, less time on the market and higher selling prices make the small cost of staging your home a wise investment.

Interested in learning more? Contact your real estate agent for information about the value of staging and referrals for professional home stagers.

Posted on July 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling, Colorado Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Housing Trends, Lakewood Real Estate, Living, Market News, Morrison Real Estate, Mountain Living, Pine Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Windermere Foundation by the Numbers

For the past 29 years, the Windermere Foundation has been helping those in need in our communities through donations to local organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families. In 2017, the Windermere Foundation raised over $2.4 million in donations, bringing the total to over $35 million raised since we started this effort in 1989. The following infographic details exactly how these funds were dispersed in 2017 and the types of organizations that benefited from them. For more information please visit windermere.com/foundation.

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 7:35 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Evergreen Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , ,

Spring in your step: smart ways to get rid of the clutter and update your décor

DaffodilsOur bulbs went full bloom at my house a few weeks ago, which prompted the awakening of spring fever: mostly the urge to air out the house and get rid of clutter (again, didn’t we just do this?). In my desire to purge, I have been trying to find the best ways to get rid of things; ­to sell some items in order to reinvest in updated accessories, to support local charities, and just get rid of the junk in the most environmentally-friendly way possible. I am not as methodical as I’d like to be, but I am already seeing a difference with the reduced clutter. Here are some of my tips and favorite resources:

Office

Are you a piler or a stasher? We create stacks in our household, which we have to go through weekly, then move to our respective offices, where they wait (indeterminate lengths of time) to get filed. One of my first steps in clearing out the junk was to deal with the piles of paper. I shredded anything that should be shredded and recycled and filed the rest. If you are supremely organized, I suggest taking this time to note what bills you actually get paper invoices for, and move towards electronic billing.  Also, if you haven’t already, take a moment to stop your junk mail, saving yourself a step in the filing process and reducing some paper use.

I finally went through the stack of magazines piling up next to the bed, tearing out any recipes, articles and ideas I wanted to reference later, and throwing the rest away.  If you are looking for an electronic alternative to the magazine clutter, read your magazines online and save your favorite articles with a social bookmarking tool such as delicious.com to easily search your saved files with your own key words.

If there is a bookcase in our house, it will be filled so, instead of investing in ANOTHER bookshelf, I decided to make space for all the books I will likely buy this year by getting rid of books I probably won’t read. We will be reselling some books to amazon.com while others will either go to the local used bookstore for store credit or be donated to a local charity.

You can also gain a lot of space by going through your media. If you still have DVDs and CDs, inventory them and decide if you can move to a digital archive. It may take some time, but downloading and backing up your media could make you more organized in the long run and eliminate unnecessary clutter. Get rid of the disks once these have been backed up, reclaiming that shelf space.

As more and more of our lives are kept in digital files, it is important to take precautions to protect our files as well as the hardware that stores them. If you store important documents, family photos, media, or other items on your hard drive, make sure you have a backup plan. Learn more about digital storage options so if anything happens to your hardware you don’t lose everything.

Garage/ Basement

Whenever I go to the hardware store, I must suffer from temporary memory loss; what else would explain the multiples we acquire? This year we are doing an audit. If we have enough stuff to justify it, we will do a garage sale, but most likely we will sell what we can on craigslist or eBay and give away the rest on freecycle.org. These are all great options for ridding yourself of unwanted, outdated and duplicate items. We also have a pile of electronics to get rid of: an old microwave, tv, toaster oven, printers, juicer, etc. We don’t want to dump these if they can be recycled. We are looking into e-cycle options in our area, including local Windermere offices holding e-cycle events regularly, which also benefit the Foundation.

The same rules apply to our excess storage.

As you de-clutter and reorganize, make updates to your home inventory list. Spring is a great time to make sure your list of household items is up-to-date for insurance purposes. It is also a good time to check on your major appliances to determine if your furnace/water tank/septic or other major systems need to be serviced.

Closets

As the seasons change, it is a good idea to go through your clothes in order to renew and refresh your wardrobe. If you have items that can be updated with a few alterations, make a plan to spend some time with your tailor. Otherwise, look critically at the clothes you have. If you didn’t wear it in the last year and it cannot be altered to work with the rest of your wardrobe, consider donating it to Goodwill or your preferred charity. Throw any soiled or damaged clothes away.  Spring is also a great time to get rid of any old linens and towels that have seen better days.

Furniture

You will likely be surprised by how light your load is once you have really gotten into the de-cluttering process. If you have furniture you don’t use or that doesn’t fit with your décor, consider your options. You may be able to repurpose your furniturefor more efficient use, such as a console table as a landing strip next to the door, an armoire for playroom storage, or even old doors as a headboard. Or you may breathe new life into your furniture by painting or re-staining. If you can’t repurpose, why not recycle? You can donate your furniture, sell it on craigslist or give it away on freecycle.org. Getting rid of excess furniture can revitalize a room almost as much as buying new furniture.

Spring Forward

Once you have cleared the clutter and made way for a fresh perspective, figure out what will help keep the clutter at bay, and add design elements that inspire you. Decorative baskets keep magazines in order; decorative vases with flowers add natural elements help keep the indoors fresh; and new lighting or a new paint color can brighten up a room in an instant. Subtle updates in your rooms can make all the difference once the clutter is gone.

What are your tips for preparing for spring? What are your favorite spring rituals, once the cleaning is done?

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

Posted on March 12, 2018 at 9:42 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Take it outside!

BBQApronDust off your grill and get ready, it is the kick-off to barbecue season! Hopefully your summer is on its way to a good start and the weather is cooperating. The 4th of July always feels like the official start to the summer for me (perhaps because Seattle doesn’t usually get too sunny and warm until after the holiday). Now that the sun is shining and the air is warm it is time to spend more time outside.

Extending your living space to the outdoors is nice for relaxing and entertaining. Here are some quick ideas to make your backyard patio more comfortable all summer long.

Grounds

Take a look at your surroundings and make some little changes that will make your outdoor time more enjoyable. Some easy updates for your backyard can be functional, like setting your sprinkler on a timer, so technology can water your yard and you can spend more time relaxing. Or find aesthetically pleasing replacements for necessary items like your hose storage. Other improvement can help transform your space into a sanctuary, like planting flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Furniture

The best outdoor furniture looks nice, feels comfortable, withstands the elements and is easy to store once the weather turns. You should consider how you plan to use your space: for lounging and reading a book, playing with the kids, entertaining, or all of the above. Treat outdoor spaces as an extension of your living room or dining room. Pick items that reflect your taste and serve your needs. If you grill a lot, extend your kitchen prep outside with tools and a surface ready at a moment’s notice. Or find a neat bar cart to have drinks accessible for your parties.

Lighting

Make sure you can enjoy your space after the sun goes down with the right lighting solutions. Candles are nice, but they can be a hazard if someone knocks them over or you forget them after you go indoors. Consider the mood you want to set and what you need to adequately light pathways and stairs. There are many options ranging from homemade to high-end and solarto electric.

Entertaining

Keep your entertaining supplies ready for impromptu gatherings with outdoor furniture that doubles as storage space. That way you don’t have to go searching for plastic table wear every time. Same goes with outdoor toys and games; use a closed plastic bin to store croquette sets, inflatable pool mats, and other fun gear. Another fun idea is setting up your own outdoor theater for late night showings and double features.

These are just a few of the ideas I’ve considered for upgrading an outdoor living space. How do you make the most of your outdoor space during the summer?

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

Posted on March 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,

How to Save Energy in your Home

With the increased emphasis on global warming in recent years, combined with rising energy costs, more and more people are asking what they can do to make their homes more energy efficient. Energy conservation can be as simple as closing your curtains at night, changing a light bulb, turning down your thermostat, or closing the fireplace damper. Many of the most inexpensive solutions quickly pay for themselves in conservation, which you ultimately benefit from when you get your power bill.

One of the biggest ways you can conserve energy is to take advantage of “off-peak” hours. This is a step that everyone can take because it simply involves shifting your power use of major appliances, such as washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. Puget Sound Energy recommends using these appliances outside of peak hours—peak hours are between 6am-10am and 5pm-9pm. Studies show that by shifting a portion of your energy use, consumers can significantly lower wholesale electricity prices, which saves everyone money in the long run.

Another way you can save energy is by washing your clothes in cold water and only running full loads. When using the dryer, toss in a couple of dry towels with your clothes to help speed up the drying process. It’s also important to clean the lint trap in your dryer after every load and make sure the dryer hose and vent are clear.

There are several steps you can follow to reduce your home’s demand on heating during the winter months. Conventional measures, such as setting back your thermostat, are effective at reducing energy consumption. It is recommended that you keep your thermostat set between 65 and 72 degrees during the winter months. Keep in mind that by simply lowering your thermostat one degree, your furnace will use seven percent less energy overall. It’s also important to clean your furnace filter frequently—doing so will enable your heating system to run more efficiently and cost-effectively.

It’s estimated that lighting accounts for 10 percent of your overall home energy bill, so another way you can conserve is by using energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs, known as CFL light bulbs. CFLs use approximately one-quarter of the energy of equivalent incandescent bulbs, they give off warm, indirect light, and they last ten times longer than average light bulbs. When shopping for CFLs, look for those with the Energy Star label on them—this ensures that you’re purchasing a product that has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

For more information about energy conservation, please visit www.energystar.org.

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

Posted on March 6, 2018 at 2:15 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Questions to ask your home inspector

To get a quality home inspection, ask the right questions before you put your inspector to work. Here are some of the basics.

What does your inspection cover? 
Insist that you get it in writing. Then make sure that it’s in compliance with state requirements and includes the items you want inspected.

How long have you been in business? 
Ask for referrals, especially with newer inspectors.

Are you experienced in residential inspections? 
Residential inspection is a unique discipline with specific challenges.

Do you do repairs or make improvements based on the inspection? 
Some states and/or professional associations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in an inspection. If you’re considering engaging your inspector to do repairs, be sure to get referrals.

How long will the inspection take? 
A typical single-family dwelling takes two to three hours.

How much will it cost? 
Costs can vary depending upon a variety of things, such as the square footage, age and foundation of the house.

What type of report will you provide and when will I get it? 
Ask to see samples to make sure you understand his reporting style. Also make sure the timeline works for you.

Can I be there for the inspection? 
This could be a valuable learning opportunity. If your inspector refuses, this should raise a red flag.

Are you a member of a professional home inspector association? What other credentials do you hold? 
Ask to see their membership ID; it’s some assurance.

Do you keep your skills up-to-date through continuing education? 
An inspector’s interest in continuing education shows a genuine commitment to performing at the highest level. It’s especially important with older homes or homes with unique elements.

Any other good questions to ask?  Post yours now!

For more information on Windermere Evergreen please contact us here.

Posted on January 25, 2018 at 9:46 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , , , ,

Going from homeowner to home seller

How do we transition from the mindset of a homeowner to a home seller?  Homes bring us shelter, comfort and are a place to express our individuality. But when it’s time to move on, that same home will now be the financial springboard to the next chapter in our lives.

We start by letting go of the home layer by layer.

Both buyer and seller benefit when the seller- perhaps with some judicious coaching from their skilled Realtor- peels away those things that made their home uniquely theirs. In essence, the serious packing begins once the decision has been made to sell; bookcases and closets should only suggest their function with a few items, rather than store seasons and years worth of books and clothes. Carefully removing prized collections and family photos is also vital- nothing should distract the buyer from seeing the house, and seeing themselves in it.

Personal colors are just as important to remove as objects. After all, if you were serving ice cream to a few thousand people (that’s how many will see your house photographed online)- would you serve them mango flavor? It’s a lot more likely you would choose vanilla- and that’s pretty much what the color of your walls should be- neutral or deep neutral tones.

The last touch is a good deep cleaning- ask your REALTORtm if they have the name of a reputable company.

The seller can then replace those familiar objects with a fresh new welcome mat at the front door.

This process allows the buyer the visual and emotional space to move in.

This process allows the seller to move on.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen please contact us here.

Posted on January 24, 2018 at 9:44 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling | Tagged , , , , ,