Things to Clean Just Once a Year

THINGS TO CLEAN

Cleaning: some hate it, some love it. For those who are not huge fans, there is good news! Not everything in our homes needs to be cleaned daily, weekly, or even monthly. Here are a few things that (typically) only need to be cleaned once a year:

Upholstered Furniture
If you have pets, vacuuming your furniture at least weekly is a must. If your furniture sees a lot of wear and tear, call in a professional! Don’t be the home where guests are afraid to sit on the couch- give a furniture cleaner a call once during the spring and vacuum and spot clean the rest of the year!

Drapes and Curtains
We often underestimate the amount of dust in our home, and this can be evident if curtains or drapes are moved. Minimize this by taking them all down each spring and throwing them in the wash. It really is as easy as that. If you have curtains that can’t go in your regular washer and dryer, send them out to be dry cleaned! Your allergies will be happy you did.

Vents and Air ducts
Have you ever looked closely at the air ducts in your home? Try it. You are likely to find a buildup of dirt and dust on one side of the vent or the other. Just take a duster, slightly damp cloth, or vacuum wand and clean it off! It’s simple, and you won’t need to worry as much about dirt and dust being blown about your home.

Carpets
Just like furniture, carpets should be vacuumed regularly- especially if you have pets. But when was the last time your carpets were shampooed? If you have more than one furry friend, this should likely be done every six months. If not, once a year is sufficient to remove that layer of dirt that your vacuum just doesn’t reach. Don’t want to pay a pro? Rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself!

Clean Around Large Appliances
When we think about truly deep cleaning the kitchen, we often think of pulling out the refrigerator and cleaning behind it. This should also be done with the stove, as who knows what has made its way back there throughout the year.

When you think of large appliances, however, do your washer and dryer come to mind? If it has been a while since you’ve cleaned around these essential parts of your home, add it to your yearly list! The buildup of lint and dust around a dryer can be a huge fire hazard, and it builds up more than we know. Vacuum your lint tray, underneath the washer and dryer, and have your dryer vent cleaned every 12-18 months.

Last But Not Least: Purge
Purging can be therapeutic for many, and terrifying for many more. The fact remains however, that we all have things we don’t use. Once a year, go through your garage, closets, and other storage spaces and get rid of those things you haven’t used since you went through it the year before. You will find so much more room for the things you really love!

Home of the Week! 4122 San Juan Blvd Anacortes, WA

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This custom-built, 4,446 square-foot home is located at 4133 San Juan Blvd in Anacortes, WA and offers some of the best views one can find on Fidalgo Island. Not only does it bast great entertaining opportunities with the large living and dining areas, it also includes a beautifully landscaped patio in the back and a small indoor pool that can be enjoyed for leisure or exercise.

The home offers a vast entryway that opens directly to a welcoming open-concept layout that features the living and dining room, as well as the kitchen. The office just off the front door houses beautiful wood built-ins and high windows to the front yard.971873_10_Yxr1qGp2

The kitchen features a gas range, ample storage space, double ovens, and even more beautiful views. You will certainly not tire of spending time in this dream kitchen!

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With three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, each space offers views one would fight for. The spacious master suite is complete with private balcony doors, fireplace, and immaculate double-vanity bathroom. You will not want to miss the chance to pamper yourself in this spa-like suite and take advantage of the immense walk-in closet!

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The lower-level of the home houses the second and third bedrooms, additional family room, and kitchenette- if you are looking for the perfect home in Anacortes to entertain family and friends, we’ve found it! To visit this property, call, text, or email us any time to schedule a private showing. 971873_17_Wk9J7itg

You may also click here for further details of this San Juan Blvd home, and view the full photo gallery. No registration required!

Sometime It’s Good to Borrow Less

SOMETIMES IT'S

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; buying a home can be daunting. It is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and there are many factors that could affect the outcome. We are here to help minimize the potential for mistakes!

If you’re a first-time home buyer and looking ere on the safe side or mortgage payments, it is good to realize that it isn’t always a bad thing to borrow less than the amount for which you qualify. Here are a few ways this can be a benefit:

The Mortgage Payment Isn’t Your Only New Cost
Many buyers think “if I can afford this much in rent, I can afford this much in a mortgage payment”. While this may be true, don’t forget to factor in things like homeowners or property insurance, higher utilities costs, and property taxes (which can increase each year!). It is important to be comfortable with these costs for the foreseeable future, without anticipating a job change or salary increase.

You Never Know What is Going to Pop Up
New homes can come with unexpected expenses, regardless of how well the inspection turned out. Being able to pay for the unexpected things in life (new water heaters, car maintenance, etc.) is a comfort that one shouldn’t give up in favor of a larger monthly mortgage payment.

You NEVER Want to Miss a Payment!
Again, you never know what will happen in the future and you do not want to take on a 20-30 year loan with any uncertainty. Opt for a monthly amount that you know you are comfortable with. If you get lucky, some lenders will allow you to pay more than your monthly payment with the goal of paying it down more quickly, and you can always look into refinancing options when the time comes.

Buying a home doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful! Give us a call for more information on how to make the process an enjoyable one.

Home Safety

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Safety and security are part of the comforts of home, however there are many things that can easily become hazardous without our even realizing. Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to keep your loved ones safe:

 

  • Throughout your home, check that handrails and banisters are in good repair and that they will not give way to children or elderly individuals that may live in or visit your home. Look at areas both indoors and outdoors that may need handrails or other support installed and evaluate whether or not they would be beneficial to your family.
  • Replace burned-out bulbs throughout your home, especially in areas such as stairways that may be difficult to get to or overlooked. Unknown to many, burned-out bulbs can be a fire hazard as dust will build on the bulbs and they are likely to spark when a switch gets turned off and on regularly.
  • Replace faulty wiring immediately upon discovering it.
  • Install smoke alarms and check batteries twice each year.
  • Secure your home with quality door and window locks.
  • Trim shrubs and trees close to the house so you can easily see into your yard from windows.
  • Avoid an unoccupied look when you go away for extended periods of time by leaving a light or radio on. This can even be done with an automatic timing device.
  • Pause deliveries of mail and newspapers by phoning your local post office and newspaper carrier.
  • Have a trusted neighbor or friend keep an eye on your home. In some areas, you can ask your local police station about “vacation house checks” so the police will keep an eye on your home while you are away.

We are never too busy to assist you with your real estate needs! If you are looking for more ways to keep your home safe, give us a call! We would be happy to provide you with any information you need, or at least point you in the right direction!

What You Should Know About Home Appraisals

Home Appraisals (1)

Both the appraisal and inspection processes can be intimidating from both buyer and seller perspectives. Both take a very nit-picky look at your home, and both can affect the final negotiated price. Take a look at a few appraisal-related questions that we’ve answered for you:

How do inspections and appraisals differ?
Inspectors come to a property to gauge any concerns that may cause issues after the deal is done, while appraisers come specifically to assess the value of a property.

Why are appraisals necessary?
Lenders will not loan funds when a home has not been appraised; they want as much information as possible so they can loan the appropriate amount. For example, the lender does not want to “over-loan” on a property in the event that it is foreclosed and they are left with a home they cannot sell for the loan amount.

Who pays for the appraisal; the seller or the buyer?
Typically, the seller pays for the appraisal during closing the closing process.

How does the appraiser determine the property value?
Appraisals take into account key features of the home, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and overall condition. Another huge factor is information about other comparable properties close to yours; property values surrounding you can have great impact on your home’s appraised price.

Is there anything the homeowner can do to improve the appraisal?
Save a copy of your seller’s disclosure form when initially so you can make note of any changes or improvements you’ve made to the home. Once the appraisal appointment has been made, speak to your Realtor about the possibility of him/her being present during the appraisal so they can point out any unseen and possibly value-increasing features.

The Importance of Home Inspections

Home Inspections
Many wonder why such an emphasis is placed on home inspections when they are not mandatory in the home buying or selling process.

The bottom line is: buying a home is already an expensive process- it is best to have a third party check for potential (unseen) problems before you are fully committed, rather than signing without knowing what you could be getting into.

One of the biggest indicators that the home inspection is important is that it can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. This means that it can be used to back out the deal if certain significant defects are revealed by an inspection.

 

While inspectors may vary in thoroughness, there are certain key elements they should look at:

  • Whether or not the problems they find are safety issues, or major/minor defects.
  • Which items require replacement or servicing.
  • Which items should be monitored closely for possible repair/replacement in the future.

 

As a general rule, some of the items an inspector might look at include:

  • Foundation
  • Exterior Walls
  • Pest Problems
  • Roof Damage
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical Hazards
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
  • Water Heater
  • Kitchen Appliances (provided any are staying with the home)
  • Laundry Room (proper ventilation)
  • Potential Fire Hazards
  • Bathrooms (proper ventilation, mold issues, water damage, etc.)

 

Potential safety concerns that should absolutely be addressed in the inspection are:

  • Radon
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Mold

 

Inspections may not always identify everything wrong with a property, but they can point you in the right direction if something appears amiss and if anything, you will have the opinion of an “expert” to back you up.

If you have any questions about home inspections (how to schedule, why they are important, etc.) give us a call! We would be happy to walk you through everything you need to know about buying or selling your home.

What is the Seller’s Disclosure Form?

The seller’s disclosure form is one that must be completed by everyone selling a home; it is a document that will ask you questions about your home that you may not have considered since you purchased the property yourself.

As it is one of the documents that the buyer will most closely look at, all questions need to be answered to the best of your knowledge. If they are not, it may delay the closing process and prompt even further questions from the buyer.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to put your mind at ease while completing this very detailed, legally-binding document!

Research your home. If you have recently moved into your home then you likely have much of the necessary information accessible, as it was made available to you when you purchased the home. If it has been a decade or so, you may have to do some digging through old paperwork to find information such as the make, model, and age of various components of your home (HVAC system, water heater, etc.). Buyers will want to note this information to see what kind of money, if any, will need to be spent upon moving in.

Be as accurate as possible. You hopefully had an inspection done when you moved into the home, which should be able to give you information on the roof, plumbing, electrical, etc. While doing your research, try to be as accurate as possible rather than guessing when something may have been installed or replaced.

Honesty is the best policy. Really, answer all questions to the best of your ability. If there is information to which you do not have access or a question is not applicable to your property, note that in the seller’s disclosure form. You do not want to appear ill-informed about your home and want to offer up as much information to the buyer as possible, so as to avoid any delays or issues with closing.

Remember, the seller’s disclosure form is a legally binding document that is required of all home sellers. There isn’t, however, any reason to be intimidated by it! Just make sure you are aware of what has been done in your home and which things potential buyers may take issue with. This will help both the home selling and buying process go smoother than you can imagine!

Call us today for more information on what to take into consideration when buying or selling your home!

Real Estate Terms Defined

Real Estate Terms Defined

Both buying and selling a home can be intimidating experiences, especially if your Realtor® begins using terms with which you are not familiar, before really explaining them. Our goal as your Realtor® is to make the home buying or selling process as smooth as possible, beginning with defining a few terms for you!

Adjustable Rate Mortgage
• An adjustable rate mortgage is one that has a fluctuating interest rate; they typically have a lower initial interest rate for a set time, then adjust according to an index.

Certificate of Title
• This proves that the property is legally owned by the seller, and that no other party has any claims over it.

CMA
• CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) are done by agents when you are looking to sell your home. They will put together a report to determine a fair asking price based on the current market and how other homes are doing in your area.

Comps
• The term “comps” refers to properties that are comparable in size to your property. This takes into account the home’s size, close amenities, and location, in addition to other factors.

Deed
• The deed is a legal document proving transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.

Disclosures
• Disclosures are details about the home that a seller must provide to a buyer. For example; if the basement often floods in heavy storms or if there is lead in the home, the seller would need to disclose this information.

Due Diligence
• Due diligence refers to the buyers’ responsibility to research and verify details about the transaction. For example, it is the buyer’s responsibility to coordinate an inspection, and confirm that the information coming from the seller’s attorney and broker are legitimate.

Escrow
• Escrow is the time period when purchase funds are released from one party to another, and the transfer of the home is completed. The escrow company is a neutral third party who executes the transaction utilizing the purchase agreement and other documents.

Firm Commitment
• A firm commitment is a promise from a lender that they will enter into an agreement with another entity (typically a buyer) within a certain period of time.

Fixture
• Fixtures are items of value that are permanently attached or a part of a property. This can include lighting, carpeting, or landscaping; these items have the potential to cause disputes between the buyer and seller and are sometimes used as leverage for negotiations.

HOA Docs
• Some homes fall under the jurisdiction of a Homeowner’s Association. In this case documents outlining the association’s regulations will be provided either by the association, or through your Realtor.

Pre Qualification
• Borrowers (home buyers) must go through a process wherein the lender confirms that the borrower qualifies for a loan, based on their credit history and current financial standing. This is done using only the information the buyer provides the lender. The amount for which one is pre-qualified is to be considered an estimate, and not set in stone. This information does, however, show your Realtor and the seller of the home in which you are interested that you are serious about the home buying process.

Pre Approval
• Getting pre approved is the next step, and is more involved than the pre qualification process. The buyer will complete an official mortgage application with their chosen lender, and supply the lender with necessary documentation so an extensive check can be done on their financial background and current credit rating. You will be given an exact amount for which you are approved and completing both the pre-qualification and pre-approval process will allow you to know how much you can actually afford.

Guest Blogger: Tim Hance – 5 Ways to Add Oustanding Value to Your Home

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Our friend Tim Hance, of All Islands Home Inspections has put together a great list of budget-friendly ways one can add value to a home. This has come at the perfect time as we approach summer and can take advantage of excellent weather

Inexpensive Ways to Add Great Value to Your Home

1. Create an Open Floor Plan

Conventionally, most households in the United States have a wall that separates the living room and the kitchen. Consequently, people in your sitting room can’t see the kitchen.

Lately, this trend continues to evolve as most home buyers prefer a house with an open space. If a wall separates your living room from the kitchen, remove the wall.

The resulting space will create an island between your kitchen and the living room. Eliminate this island by adding a table and some chairs to create a flow between the two rooms. As Jeanne Baron of This Old House argues, “you’ll increase the space and transform your home’s feel”.

2. Landscaping

Working on your home’s interior is commendable, but don’t forget about the look of those trees and bushes. Why? Because unkempt bushes and tangled trees can easily obscure views, promote mold and darken interiors.

While most homeowners may overlook it, landscaping is among the top three home investments with the highest returns. HomeGain, a real estate marketing company, surveyed 2,000 brokers and discovered that an investment of between $400 – $500 can generate up to four times in returns.

For this reason, pruning your trees is important. If the planters hinder potential buyers’ view of the house, they’ll move right on to other houses that are more visible. Other than losing potential home buyers, neglected Mother Nature can cause other costly damages to property.

3. Update Your Plumbing

If your iron pipes look old and rusty and you fear you’ve ingested enough metal through your drinking water to construct a small ship, it’s time to replace your plumbing system.
Believe it or not, appraisers heavily consider plumbing when giving value to your home. Back in the day, re-piping was a massive undertaking where contractors would have to dig up walls. Lately though, people prefer plastic piping because it’s reliable and easy to install. Professional plumbers can run it through the walls like extension cords.

4. Boost Your Bathroom

As Matt and Nicole, licensed realtors and remodeling experts put it, you can brighten your bathroom up with some paint and add wallpaper. Do not overdo the wallpaper addition, though.
Remember that the moisture in the room can quickly loosen your wallpaper. To prevent this, use super glue to attach the wallpaper to the wall.

Other simple additions you may need to make are introducing a new mirror and a few light fixtures. With these simple procedures, you’ll transform your bathroom from a plain Jane to a beauty queen.

5. Illuminate Your Space

Few people prefer a dark living space and that’s why lighting enhances the appeal of any home. You can do a few things to brighten your house, and these include fixing broken panes, ensuring windows open and fixing switches that trigger dim lighting.

Don’t forget about the lights outside the house as well. They are important for both aesthetic appeal and security.

To add value to your home and beautify it, consider both the interior and exterior parts. Start by implementing each of the above ways as they are the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add value.

Budget-Friendly Home Upgrades

Budget-Friendly

Home upgrades can typically bring on feelings of dread and come with big spending. Fortunately, there are numerous budget-friendly home upgrades that can be done through simple changes around the home- some of them only involve cleaning!

While cleaning your entire home should be at the top of your list if you are planning to sell, deep cleaning places you wouldn’t normally think of can make a huge impact on the overall feel of the home.
One or two times each year, be sure to give all of your kitchen cabinets a good scrub, as well as the walls of your kitchen and in rooms in which you spend the majority of your time. It can be surprising how much dust and dirt collects on the walls of our homes.

Speaking of the kitchen, did you know you can face lift your appliances? Many dishwasher panels are white on one side, and black on the other- just remove a few screws and turn things around! Check with your manufacturer to see what options you have, and whether or not they sell replacement panels. While you’re at it, give the insides of your appliances (including your dishwasher) a good scrub.

Brighten up your bathroom easily by checking first to make sure things are functional. Have you checked the caulking around your tub, sink, and baseboards recently? If it is discolored or peeling, redo it! Next, look at small items such as faucets, shower heads, and light fixtures. These are items that can easily (and fairly inexpensively) be replaced, yet will give the whole room a different feeling. This is also a good time to wipe down the front of your vanity to freshen it up without replacing it entirely.

Whether you are showing your home to sell or having a party, flooring is something that everyone looks at when they enter your home. If your carpet is worn and you are not willing or able to replace it, have it professionally cleaned! You can even rent a quality rug cleaner and take care of it yourself. If you don’t have carpet, be sure that you keep the floor swept and cleaned regularly; stepping on a sticky or crummy floor makes the whole room feel icky.

Anacortes, WA is home to many beautiful properties. Let us know if we can help you sell yours so we can give you even more information on cost-effective ways to update your home!