Moving can be a daunting task and moving in the winter does not make it any easier.
Here are some winter moving tips to ensure a safe and stress free move
Moving can be a daunting task and moving in the winter does not make it any easier.
Here are some winter moving tips to ensure a safe and stress free move
The chaos of moving day is a prime time to forget or misplace essential items. When you’re preparing for the big move to your new home, the following items are some of the most overlooked (and the most sorely missed in a time of need!).
To prevent the hassle and heartbreak of forgotten possessions and lost information, make a check list containing the following items:
1. Jewelry, watches, and small valuables: These small, expensive and often irreplaceable items are best kept in a safe deposit box or kept with trustworthy friends or relatives on moving day.
2. Garage door opener: The old one won’t be of much use at your new house, will it? Be sure to leave it behind for the new owners. Also, make sure the old owners of your new house give you theirs!
3. Spare keys: Sets to your old house should remain with the new owners, but don’t forget sets to the new house! There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your new place without a way to get in.
4. Old address books: Yes, we all have fancy new smartphones, but it seems like families all have a well-worn phone book stashed in a spice drawer somewhere. These are practically family heirlooms of information, so don’t leave them behind.
5. Unfinished errands: Do you have any clothes at the dry cleaner? Books due to the library? What about other video game or DVD rentals? It can be a real hassle to settle up on these items from 100 miles away, right?
6. Medical records: While a lot of medical information is digital these days, you should make sure you don’t misplace your copies, including dental information and prescriptions. It’s easy to lose them at the bottom of a hastily thrown-away box.
I make sure my clients’ experience selling their old home and moving into their new dream home is a smooth transition. If you’re interested in a hassle-free home selling experience, please get in touch today. Larry Mandel Top Floor Homes email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (425) 313-9090. Or if you’re looking to rent or rent out a property give us a call at (425) 449-5990
Why pay for home improvement when you can do it yourself?
Why not? A little knowledge of the technical aspects combined with the eye for creativity is enough to do the home improvement on your own.
Why are people turning to do-it-yourself home improvements?
Many construction workers who do not have a lot of experience or expertise in construction or home maintenance are out there right now trying to work on these homes across the country.
As a result, homeowners are finding that the jobs are not being completed to their satisfaction. Sometimes they are even prepaying for services that do not get done or are not part of the plan.
You do not have to rely and pay someone to improve your home. Why not try to do it yourself?
You can enhance your home’s existing concrete surfaces using acid stains, acrylic stains, epoxy paints, and scoring techniques.
If you are tired of looking at dreary gray concrete, there are some easy projects for the serious home improvement do-it-yourselfer to give your patio, driveway, garage, etc. a refreshing new look.
Decorative concrete work costs double or even triple that of regular concrete. This is why many people cannot afford it.
There are inexpensive ways to decorate concrete after it has cured without having to pay skilled tradesmen.
Acid based concrete stains are becoming more and more popular for coloring concrete surfaces. They chemically react with the cementitious material to produce permanent color with variegated or mottled appearance like that of marble. This results in a natural, elegant looking surface.
Water based concrete stains are an alternative to acid stains and are much more user friendly because they’re much less toxic. These stains do not chemically react with the concrete; they are absorbed into the surface pores and act like a dye. The big advantage of water based stains is the wide array of colors available.
If you want to venture beyond the basic staining of concrete, consider using some scoring techniques to create patterns on the surface.
You can make your concrete look like a tile floor for example. It is up to your imagination. An angle grinder with a 4 inch grinding or cutting wheel is the ideal tool for this.
The important thing to remember when scoring is to draw the pattern on the concrete first and make sure you are satisfied with the way it looks because scoring is irreversible.
Epoxy paints make an excellent coating for garage floors and basement floors. Many commercial floors have epoxy coatings because of their durability and resistance to chemical spills as well as their appearance.
In recent years, however, it has become very popular for residential use with an increasing availability of different colors. This is not a difficult project, but the key to successful application is surface preparation.
Epoxy paints have also become available in a water based form making it safe for the do-it-yourselfer and ideal for indoor applications. They cost a little more than stains. For a 400 square foot garage, you’ll spend about $200 for the materials needed for this project.
See? You do not have to spend money to have your home improved. You have the capability to do it yourself. With some instructions and a little bit of work, anyone can turn boring concrete into their own masterpiece.
7 Winter Home Improvement Tips to Save You Money and Energy In the Cold Season
This year’s record breaking summer high temperatures and general worrisome warming trend don’t necessarily mean that the coming winter will be a walk in the park. Before the cold weather strikes, get your home buttoned up and ready for it with our expert hands-on game plan, which will not only make your home more comfortable and energy efficient, but save you some money while you’re at it. From big changes that will knock hundreds of dollars off your energy bill to smaller ones that need just a bit of elbow grease and a few materials from your local hardware store, we’ll show you what you need to get the job done! So no matter if you rent or own your house, check out these 7 handy tips that we promise will make a real difference in keeping you warm and your energy bill manageable this winter.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we should mention that the best way to get your home operating at its maximum efficiency is to hire a professional BPI certified energy rater to evaluate your spaces. This person will conduct what’s called an “energy audit” and he or she will test your home for energy losses and safety issues, and generate a detailed report highlighting what your home’s issues are. With a report in hand you can easily target and prioritize exactly what you need to do, and what you can afford to do.
If you can’t afford an energy audit, you can start to identify and remedy some problem areas on your own with the help of an infrared thermometer, like the Ryobi Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer. This handy gun allows you to safely measure surface temperatures and pinpoint spots where your home is experiencing air leaks or missing insulation. As energy efficiency expert David Johnson says, “Air leaks account for 25-30% of an average energy bill, and this is one of the most profound steps that you can make for the betterment of your home’s comfort and reducing the amount of your monthly bill.”
Our tips ahead will address common problem areas seen in all types of homes, and they will offer solutions to problems that can be easily fixed, often without calling on help from a professional.
The mantra in green construction is: “seal it tight, ventilate right”. The sealing part is about getting a handle on all the places where air penetrates through the wall and causes drafts and fluctuations to the temperature inside your home. A simple tube of high quality caulk and a plan to tackle all those problem areas can go a long way if you know where to look (hint: grab your infrared thermometer).
What keeps the outside air out of your home is typically the interior walls (or drywall), but you’ll find many holes that have been cut out of these walls to install your plugs and switches. If you have ever removed the face-plates of these plugs and switches during cold weather, you’ll have probably noticed some cold air pouring out. Reduce this leakage by using caulk to seal around the the area where the electric box meets the drywall. If you’re comfortable working around electricity, head to the breaker, turn it off, then test the outlets to make sure they are really off. Once off, you can then pull them out of the box and begin to seal up all the little holes in the back of the box, including where the wires come through.
Other notorious culprits that contribute to air leaks are recessed lights found in the ceiling. Many old can lights are actually vented on purpose to keep from being overheated by the lightbulb (they are called non-IC or non-insulation contact rated cans). Because warm air rises, an unsealed can light below a roof is a big problem. It’s a good idea is to remove the existing ring of this can and seal the can’s perimeter with caulk. The inside of the can should be sealed with either caulk or aluminum tape to keep your home’s warm air from escaping into the attic.
It’s very important that you not put an incandescent bulb in the can. Instead, opt for something like a Cree LED recessed light – this light is dimmable, super-efficient and does not build up heat. Moreover, if you have a non-IC rated can, it’s a really good idea to put a note inside to not use incandescent lights in the future. An overheated fixture has the potential to cause serious problems. If you can’t give up your incandescent, another approach is to go into the attic, install and seal a box made from drywall around the light, and then insulate from above. This has the added benefit of improving you r-value, or insulating effectiveness.
Anywhere you have something that penetrates the wall, there is bound to be an air leak. Check out the outside faucets, air vents and plumbing for large gaps where air can escape. Seal the penetrations with expanding foam so that every nook and cranny is filled. Be careful to never seal next to a gas flue or you will have a fire hazard on your hands.
Once that is done, if you are ready to get dirty, check out where the foundation meets the house and crawlspace and fill those little forgotten cracks — note areas where you see even the slightest bit of daylight passing through. There is even an expanding foam for the big holes and a fire block version for holes between floors or for sealing electrical boxes. We also recommend practicing on a scrap surface to see how the foam works. Remember to wear gloves when using the foam — this stuff is really sticky before it sets!
While expanding foam is ideal when dealing with air leaks, spray-and-go won’t always work with those extra big gaps. In spots that need an extra bit of air-stopping artillery, we recommend rolling out some insulation. But before grab for that pink stuff on the shelf — a.k.a. fiberglass insulation — we recommend that you consider using Ultratouch denim insulation instead. Unlike its counterpart, Ultratouch is made from high-quality natural fibers (80% of which are post-consumer recycled) that provide for extremely effective sound absorption and good thermal performance. You also won’t have to worry about getting the “fiberglass itch” with the denim insulation; it is easy to handle and work with — but we still recommend using a mask. The perforated batts make off-size cavity installation easy. Simply measure, tear, carefully fit and cover with an air tight barrier and you are good to go.
Before the start of the cold season, it’s not a bad idea to tune up your furnace. 30% of an average home’s energy costs are related to heating, and this number can spike further if you have inefficiencies with your furnace or boiler system. The first place to start is by replacing the filter at the beginning of the season and every couple of months while you run the furnace. When purchasing a new filter, note that the cheap ones are made just to protect the furnace fan motor, so make sure to get a more efficient and healthy pleated filter for improved air quality.
A tune-up is a good way to cut down on energy, prevent carbon monoxide leaks, and keep the air inside your home safe and healthy for you and your family. A tune-up should be a top priority, especially given that your furnace or boiler system will be running at full blast for months to come — you don’t want it to give out right when you need it the most! While the cost of a tune-up may at first glance seem like an unnecessary expenditure, keep in mind that small problems can easily turn into much larger, expensive replacements down the road. A new furnace is a substantial financial investment — regular maintenance postpones its replacement.
Windows that are unsuited for a home’s local climate can be a big contributor to inefficiency. If you live in an area that gets especially cold in the winter, investing in windows with insulated glass that’s double-paned or even triple-paned has the potential to transform the comfort of your home and your energy bill.
There are three main types of windows that are available on the market today and they include single-pane, double-pane, and super-triple-pane windows. Single- and double- pane windows are common in older houses, but windows in newer homes are commonly treated with Low-emittance (low-E) coatings (this can include both super windows and double pane windows). Low-E coatings are microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window to suppress radiative heat flow. The coating keeps radiant heat on the same side of the glass from which it originated, all while letting visible light pass — which means in the winter heat is reflected in, and in the summer heat is reflected out. Different types of Low-E coatings have been designed to allow for high solar gain, moderate solar gain, or low solar gain, and their application will depend on what region your home is located.
Super windows are a more recent development that feature a third pane of treated glass, and in some cases boast a krypton/argon/air gas mix in between the panes. When it comes to thermal performance, these windows are second to none and they can reduce your energy bill by hundreds of dollars. The choices can be daunting when selecting new windows and payback long, so make sure to do diligent research and ‘tune’ your windows to take advantage of solar heat.
While new windows would be great for everyone, we understand that they are a hefty investment that require a lot of technical analysis from a skilled professional. Moreover, new windows can often be just marginally more efficient than old ones (compared to your wall’s r-value for instance). Energy efficiency is about looking at the home as a system, and this is a long-term investment you shouldn’t be hasty or thrifty about. Get an energy audit before you make the plunge into making any window replacement.
With that said, there are many improvements that you can make to what you already have. They require just a little effort, but can pay out big in cash savings and improved comfort. More simple remedies can easily be found on the shelves of your local hardware store. Purchase some caulk and cellular shades (insulating blinds) to really increase efficiency. Use caulk to seal the window frame, and then setup your cellular shades. These shades are easy to install and work by creating pockets of air to insulate windows from the cold. A good set of shades can double or triple a window’s performance making these a no brainier for winter comfort and energy savings.
Ok, so you got through the grunt work, now its time to put in some sexy technology to really save some energy. Programmable thermostats (or t-stats) have gotten a bad rap for being difficult to use, and the EPA has yanked their Energy Star designation as a result. However, there are new, much more intuitive designs out there, like the Wi-Fi enabled Honeywell t-stat. Honeywell’s model not only lets you control the device from your iPhone or computer, but it tells you when there are significant temperature swings coming and even when the filter needs to be changed.
Programmable thermostats come in many varieties and price ranges, and getting one can save the average household about $180 a year if it’s used right. The idea is simple: these smart devices allow you to optimize your home’s energy-efficiency by setting pre-programmed temperatures for different situations, seasons and times. For example, you probably don’t want to be paying for heat during the day when you’re not even there, right? You can set your programmable thermostat to automatically turn down the heat during those hours and turn it up when you and your family come home to save money and energy.
For even more energy-saving products, visit Home Depot’s EcoOptions website.
Real estate management firms – making life easier
Real estate investment can happen for various reasons. You could invest in real estate because you need a house for yourself (that house of your dreams that you so badly want). You could use real estate as a means for supplementing your income either by buying at a lower price and selling at a higher price or by renting it out. Sometimes you might buy a property for the purpose of resale but might want to wait for a few years before you actually sell it. In such a case, again it would make sense to rent out the property and earn some money till you actually decide to sell it off.
Whatever the reason, renting out real estate demands real estate management and it’s not an easy job for everyone. In fact, a lot of people find it so much of a hassle that they prefer keeping their property vacant instead of renting it. Real estate management demands time, which you will rarely have. Real estate management is not just about finding tenants and collecting rent from them. Real estate management is also about ensuring that you do all the duties that a landlord/landlady is required to do. Real estate management is about verifying the credentials of the tenants before you actually let out your property to them. Real estate management is about ensuring that all the paper work is complete and correct i.e. the tenancy agreement etc are properly done. Real estate management also requires you to do repairs as and when required. Real estate management activities also include maintenance, painting, polishing etc of the house when the tenants move out and before the new tenants get in.
So, really, real estate management is not that easy a job for someone who is in a full time job. However, there is a solution to this and that is hiring a real estate management firm to do all these activities on your behalf. Yes, this will mean that what you receive as an income by letting your property will be reduced (due to the commission/ fee charged by the real estate management firm- 3keys has one of the lowest fees). But that is just a small price for the convenience that a real estate management firm brings to you. However, it’s important that you choose the real estate management firm carefully. There are all kinds of real estate management firms out there (good and bad). You must check the references of the real estate management firm before you actually hire them for the job. A good real estate management firm will not only keep your property occupied at all times but will also ensure that you always receive the rent in time and without any hassle.
We are highly recommended and get most of our clients from referrals and call ins. We at 3Keys Property Management would love to sit down and talk to you if you’re interested in investing in real estate and provide guidance on how to go about renting and leasing out your property. Check out our website right HERE for more information or call (425) 449-5990 or email us at Larry@threekeyspm.com
The pattern was repeated in Snohomish and Pierce counties: Median prices were $286,250 in Snohomish and $222,000 in Pierce, with double-digit appreciation over the year, according to the Multiple Listing Service.
By Sanjay Bhatt
Seattle Times business reporter
The median price of single-family homes sold in King County last month rose to $426,000, a 15 percent increase over the year.
After a remarkable frenzy of homebuying in early summer sent the median price to $434,000 in July, the highest level in five years, October’s activity showed a more balanced market, with more inventory for sale.
Buyers closed on 2,187 homes, 10 percent more than in the previous October, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reported Tuesday.
While extremely tight inventory drove bidding wars in spring, October was the first time this year that inventory of single-family homes was higher than a year earlier.
In King County, there were 4,575 single-family homes listed, 6 percent more than a year earlier. In the condominium market, there were 1,133 units listed, 8 percent more than a year ago.
The Eastside, as usual, had the highest median price in King County: It was $575,377, up 14 percent from a year ago. Southwest King County had the lowest median price at $240,000, about 7 percent higher over the year.
The median price was $286,250 in Snohomish County and $222,000 in Pierce County, with double-digit appreciation over the year, according to the MLS.
Pending sales slipped to 2,579, down almost 4 percent from a year earlier, perhaps related to the federal government’s partial shutdown from Oct. 1-16.
Pending sales are where the shutdown’s impact would have shown up, but it’s hard to tease that out from other possible causes, said Glenn Crellin, associate director of research at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.
“I’m very encouraged by the fact that listings are increasing gradually,” he said.
Regionally, inventory remains tight: King, Snohomish and Pierce counties all have less than three months’ supply, the MLS reported.
A balanced market generally has enough supply for four to six months.
“It still looks like a potential housing shortage in Puget Sound come 2015 if building doesn’t increase,” Dick Beeson, principal managing broker for RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, said in a statement.
Mike Gain, president and CEO of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates, said the shutdown “definitely hurt consumer confidence” and caused would-be buyers to pause.
Also Tuesday, Gain said his local brokerage, which has more than 350 agents and was established in 1942, was changing its name to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate. It will be a member of HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or email@example.com On Twitter @sbhatt
Home prices post strongest annual gain in nearly 8 years
- See more at: http://www.inman.com/2013/11/06/home-prices-post-highest-annual-gain-in-nearly-8-years/#sthash.d2PsBiPW.dpuf
Home prices in most metropolitan areas grew significantly in the third quarter, with the national median price rising at its fastest annual clip in nearly eight years, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
During the same period, existing homes sold at the fastest annual rate recorded in more than six years, according to NAR’s latest quarterly report on metro area median prices and affordability.
Despite the robust price growth, NAR estimated that potential buyers still had adequate income in most areas to purchase a home in the third quarter. Nonetheless, market momentum is changing, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.
“Rising prices and higher interest rates have taken a bite out of housing affordability,” Yun said. “However, we have the ongoing situation of more buyers than sellers in the market, so lower sales will help to take the pressure off home price growth and allow them to rise slowly at a single-digit growth rate in 2014.”
The national median existing single-family home price increased by 12.5 percent year over year to $207,300 in the third quarter, the strongest year-over-year gain since the fourth quarter of 2005 when it shot up 13.6 percent, according to the trade group.
In the second quarter, the median price reportedly rose 12.2 percent year over year.
Meanwhile, NAR said existing-home sales jumped 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million in the third quarter from 5.06 million in the second quarter.
On an annual basis, they reportedly increased 13 percent. The third-quarter pace of sales was the highest recorded since the first quarter of 2007, when it hit 5.66 million, NAR said.
The report’s findings also highlighted the market’s sharp inventory shortage.
At the rate of sales in the third quarter, the existing-home inventory of 2.21 million homes for sale would have cleared in just five months, down from 5.9 months in the third quarter of 2012.
- See more at: http://www.inman.com/2013/11/06/home-prices-post-highest-annual-gain-in-nearly-8-years/#sthash.d2PsBiPW.dpuf
Time to buy? asks Gen Y.
It’s a vexing question for many younger adults — aka millennials, born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. Mostly 20-somethings, they’re watching rents surge and wondering whether today’s still-attractive interest rates might begin to climb out of their reach, too.
At the same time, this crowd came of age watching the housing market in 2007. In some cases, their friends and family lost homes.
“It was brutalizing,” says Windermere Real Estate/Seattle-Lakeview broker Michael Doyle. For many, he says, those memories carry painful scars about buying a home.
Now, with the rent-versus-own momentum shifting, many local Gen Y’s are caught in an emotional and financial tug of war. Millennial-age renters Christine and Tyler Opp, of Kirkland, say they feel a clock ticking.
Any sense of urgency for the Opps is fueled by the couple’s instincts that “interest rates are going to increase at a faster rate than home prices will decrease, so our monthly payment will go up incrementally by waiting,” says Christine, an associate at a local investment-advisory firm. “Over the lifetime of our [eventual] home, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars more [we’d have to pay].”
Dean Jones, president of Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees with their prediction. “The market has recovered to favor homeownership again,” he says. “Rents, interest rates and median home prices are all on the rise, which is adding to a sense of urgency for consumers.”
The Seattle area’s median home sales price in August, the most current figure available, was $430,800. That’s up 15 percent from this time last year, according to online real estate database Zillow. And 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are between 4.3 and 4.5 percent, the highest in nearly two years. With some variations in tenths of an interest rate, the average/median mortgage payment based on the 30-year fixed loan is about $1,160 monthly, according to Zillow.
Seattle rents, meanwhile, were averaging $1,150 this summer, up 6 percent over last year. It makes this area’s rents the fastest growing in the country, according to New York-based real estate tracker Reis.
That’s a lot of factors for millennial-age renters to consider, says Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s director of economic research. “Obviously, people are scared,” she says. “It feels as if you’re on a roller coaster.”
She says it’s smart to look beyond general numbers in the Seattle-Metro area — made up of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — where home values are up 16 percent and rents are up 3.8 percent over a year ago.
Instead, Gudell advises looking at Zillow’s “Breakeven Horizon” chart based on using a 30-year mortgage. It shows that Seattle metro consumers “would need to live in their home for 3.7 years before owning a home becomes financially advantageous over renting the same home.”
Gudell suggests “drilling down to different neighborhoods” by using ZIP codes for greater details. Break-even patterns tend to be high in neighborhoods near strong job bases. For example, Redmond, Seattle and Bellevue — with pockets in Bothell, Kirkland and Ballard — favor buying now over renting.
The Opps say it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” they buy their next home, and they remain determined.
“We’re in an apartment in Juanita that’s a little less than 700 square feet,” says Christine. “[The complex] has a hot tub, a swimming pool, pretty good amenities. It’s easy. We are able to save a ton of cash to be ready to put a down payment on [an Eastside] house.
“Buying your own home is the quintessential American dream,” she says. “It’s one of those steppingstones — for every person, a dream for every child — to purchase a home.”