Spring has sprung in beautiful Seattle, and if you’re looking to sell your home, there may be no better time to do so. Think about it, what a lovely time to showcase your home and really put its best foot forward, so to speak? Here are some tips to get your home looking picture perfect for a Springtime sale.
Nothing says Spring more than a good old fashioned Spring cleaning, and that may be just what your home needs (probably, even if you’re not going to sell it) to get it in tip top shape. Go through those boxes of STILL unpacked home goods, linens and clothes that have sat in a closet or attic since move-in day and get rid of whatever you don’t need or use anymore (trust me, charitable organizations are just as grateful for the donation this time of year as they are in winter). Get the windows washed, floors scrubbed and everything looking clean and clutter-free. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of a much easier move after you sell, if there’s less stuff to pack!
Get Your Garden On
Spring is an excellent time to make your yard look its absolute best. Slip on some gardener’s gloves and pull a few weeds, plant new flowers, prune trees and bushes and make sure any leftover leaves from winter are raked up and the grass is mowed. Potential buyers are definitely going to check out your yard, and just like a delicious meal, presentation is everything. Do your best to seed patchy grass, lay down beauty bark or simply add rock edging to flower beds. Adding more colorful flowers can make a big difference in how appealing your home looks too. It’s the little touches that can make a big difference.
Create A Patio Worth ‘Sitting A Spell’ On
Once the yard is looking good, it’s time to turn your attention to any outdoor living space your home offers. Simple improvements like clean, well-kept patio furniture with bright and colorful pillows and a few nicely potted plants can create a lovely and inviting outdoor space as well as help to evoke images of enjoying the Summertime there, in a home-buyer’s mind. That’s the kind of image that may just get you an offer. Also, it’s a good idea to stage the patio area with a pitcher and glasses of a refreshing beverage on the patio table when showing the home, especially on a nice sunny day.
De-Gunk the Driveway
A very simple yet often overlooked way to add extra curb appeal and freshen your homes appearance is with a good power wash to the driveway and any sidewalks outside. Moss, oil stains and other undesirable things can collect on paved surfaces outside of your home and make it look neglected or just plain grungy. A nice power wash should do the trick and rid those surfaces of any ‘blemishes’, instantly boosting the overall ‘put-together’ look of your home.
Let There Be Light
We are blessed this time of year with much more abundant sunlight than just about any other time of year (save for summer, of course). Why not take advantage of it by opening your house up to more light? Weather permitting, open windows and patio doors to let in plenty of light, fresh air, and maybe even the oh-so-Springy scent of freshly cut grass and flowers. Use light the way ladies use lipstick for a night out, as an easy finishing touch that adds immense appeal, quickly and easily.
Make Sure Things Are Up to Snuff
Hiring an inspector to give your place the old once over is usually a good idea, no matter how well maintained it may be. If you have even a tiny inclination that something may need to be fixed before it hits the market, you should have a pro take a peek. Plus, getting things fixed and in great condition can significantly drive up the selling price of your home, which is generally a good thing. Your realtor (or a potential realtor) should be able to help you find a professional in your area to conduct an inspection.
7. All The Home’s A Stage
Staging can play a BIG part in attracting a buyer. Just as garden improvements and landscaping are hugely important for the outside of your home, staging is key for the inside of your home. Regardless of whether you’re currently living in the home, or moved into your new abode, you want to create a space that’s warm, inviting and, well, homey. People need to be able to picture themselves living their daily lives there, so making it feel like home is important. Add a vase of fresh flowers to the dining table, a basket of fresh apples to the kitchen counter, have art on the walls (but not too much, and try to minimize the presence of personal or family photos) and fun throw pillows/blankets on the couches. You can even add the scent of fresh laundry or freshly baked cookies (a scented candle should do the trick) to get an extra edge, as our sense of smell is most directly tied to memory and scents like that can ‘take you home’ in an instant.
With these tips, the task of readying your home for sale should be a little bit easier. Remember to take it easy though. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew and do it all in one weekend. Home buying and selling can take time, and you should take the time needed to get all your ducks in a row before you put that sign out in the yard. Preparing your home for the market can be a breeze if you just take it one step at a time to get your home looking it’s best, and, with any luck, it will be someone else’s home in no time!
According to Walk Score Seattle ranked #2 in the Western states for having the best public transit and ranked #8 in the nation. The city’s transit score was 57 compared to San Francisco’s 80. Home value in cities are affected by transit scores in the way that the better transportation options a city has, the more desirable that city will be. People are more apt to purchase a home that is close to public transit which helps make it easier to commute to work. Living near public transit saves you money as well by not having to spend so much money on gas. Transportation is the 2nd largest expense in American family households. Being able to take public transportation also takes away the stress of having to deal with traffic.
If contractors can find enough qualified skilled workers, this year may turn out to be a good year for the construction industry. The Associated General Contractors of America surveyed more than 800 construction companies and found that 41 percent of them plan to hire more workers while only 2 percent are planning layoffs. The remaining 57 percent have not yet decided what is going to happen or plan on no changes at all in staffing. To compare, last year 51 percent added workers, 23 percent laid off workers and 26 percent stayed the same.
Demand is expected to increase in 10 of the 11 market segments. Marine construction is the only market expected to fall where as particular growth is expected in private-sector projects such as offices, retail, and manufacturing plants.
One of the biggest challenges for the construction industry this year will be finding qualified workers to meet the demand. The majority of construction firms are already having problems finding the right people and expect the problem to get worse throughout the year. There are not enough training programs out there to properly train people in the skills needed in construction. Most firms believe that policy makers in Washington D.C. should make preparing the next generation of skilled workers top priority.
King County experienced a 10.5 percent gain in home prices over the past year. The median price for a single-family home last month was $419,825. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service close to 1,800 houses were closed on in December, 3 percent higher than a year ago. 511 condos sold which is 14 percent more than a year ago. The median price was $250,000, a 21 percent annual gain. 1,748 luxury homes were sold. That is 40 percent more than in 2012.
The average home’s appreciation in 2013 was around 7 or 8 percent in King and Snohomish Counties. The Eastside had the highest median price at $550,000. Southwest King County had the lowest at $255,390. Seattle had the greatest increase, 14 percent, in closed deals with a median price of $450,000. Snohomish County had a median price of $306,000 for single-family homes which is an 11 percent jump from a year ago December.
Just because you live in a rental space doesn’t mean that you have to feel like you are living in someone else’s home. Adding a touch of “you” to the space will make it feel more special and like your own place. Before making changes be sure to talk with your landlord. Many landlords will be okay with certain changes if things are put back the way they were at the end of the lease or because those changes may make the space more desirable.
Sometimes you may have to negotiate certain changes such as painting walls. A new color on the walls could make the space feel more your style and the landlord may give the go ahead to paint in your choice of color as long as you repaint to the original color it was when you move out. You could also negotiate new appliances. If the landlord does not want to purchase new appliances, maybe if you offer to pay half the cost then they might be willing to do so.
Switching out light fixtures for more stylish ones such as hanging globes, chandeliers or sconces would be a great way to brighten the place up and add another touch of “you”. Either changing the cupboard doors in the kitchen or removing them entirely is another way to update the place or make it feel more cozy. Something as simple as replacing door knobs is another way to add character. Be sure to keep the original doors and knobs or anything else you might change so that you can put everything back the way it was before moving out. Things such as removing metal blinds and replacing them with ones made of fabric or putting up curtains are something that could be negotiated with the next tenants. They may want to purchase them from you instead of using the metal blinds which usually make a space feel darker and like a rental.
Little touches here and there and new furniture from retailers or flea markets can make a big difference in making your rental feel like home. Remember that when looking for a rental, keep an open mind and see the potential.
The average rent for an apartment in the Seattle area rose to $1,214 a month in 2013. A new report suggests that rental prices will at least stabilize if not decline in 2014. Rental prices have dipped $5 and the number of vacancies is up which is a sign of the market softening. The Seattle metro area is experiencing its largest apartment building boom in the past 20 years. All of the upcoming vacant units will cause competition for tenants and slow the rent hike. Bellevue has the area’s most expensive rates for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,434 a month. Belltown, Denny Triangle and South Lake Union are the most expensive submarkets with rates averaging $1,624 a month for a one-bedroom. The most expensive neighborhoods are Fremont/Wallingford ($1,514), Capitol Hill ($1,449) and First Hill ($1,421). Lower rents were found in North Seattle ($957).
Buying a home is exciting and stressful especially if you are a first time home buyer. Finding the right home can be challenging but the biggest challenge is financing it. You need to have enough money in the bank to convince the lender you can make monthly payments on top of having enough to cover the costs of closing the loan in order to obtain a mortgage loan. Some home buyers search for available home buyer credits to help fund the purchasing process. Here are a few options available:
Mortgage Credit Certificate: MCC is available for first time home buyers in certain states and provides up to $8,000 in tax credits for those who have not owned a home in the previous three years, meet certain income criteria and will be using the new home as their permanent residence.
Good Neighbor Next Door Program: This program makes homes available for up to 50 percent off the listing price as long as the buyer agrees to live in the home for at least three years. HUD offers credits to school teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who purchase single-family homes in areas targeted for revitalization.
Credits for Native American Buyers: HUD provides two programs for Native Americans who wish to buy a home. Native Americans are given access to sources to private mortgage financing to buy homes in Indian or Alaskan Native areas through the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program. Members of Indian tribes who cannot qualify for mortgages through other sources can be guaranteed a loan through The Tribal Housing Activities Loan Guarantee Program.
The Federal Housing Authority has several other options to help reduce the burden of financing a home for first time home buyers, single parents, minorities and people with moderate-low income.
Police are investigating a shooting which happened around 2:00am this morning near Occidental Ave. S. and S. Washington St. Police responded to a call of shots being fired and found the two men who had been shot while sitting in a car. The men were treated for their injuries and transported to Harborview Medical Center. The suspected shooter could not be located. Anyone with any information regarding the incident should contact the Seattle Police Department.
With prices rising 2013 has turned out to be a good year for real estate. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, single-family homes in King County rose 7.5 percent compared to last year. November was the 20th consecutive month of a higher year-over-year median price. In November, the median price for a single-family home in King County was $414,000.
There is still a shortage of homes in the market. People are ready to buy but are not finding their dream homes due to a lack of inventory. 3,820 houses were listed for sale in the month of November which is 2.7 percent more than last year. This is considered a two-month supply. A four to six-month supply would be considered a balanced market. The market activity is mainly being driven by job growth and foreign buyers.
Bellevue has been ranked 12th out of 100 best places to live in the US. The University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute evaluated 1,200 cities through out the US that had populations of 20,000 to 350,000 and chose the top 100 based on economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capitol, education and healthcare. Bellevue’s highest scores were in the amenities category due to its accessibility to parks, entertainment, recreation and culture.
Six cities in the state of Washington placed in the top 100. Besides Bellevue, Bellingham (25th), Tacoma (41st), Redmond (62nd), Everett (73rd) and Vancouver (96th). California and Florida are the only other states that had six or more cities place in the top 100.