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The Impact of Staging Your Home

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 home buyers 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 the 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, but it also 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.

Benefits, Risks and Things to Consider Before You Add an Accessory Dwelling Unit to Your Home

 

Have you ever rented the unit in someone’s basement? Maybe your spouse’s mother moved into your “Mother-In-Law Unit” above your garage? Or have you ever travelled and stayed in a pool house for your stay? Commonly referred to as “Mother-In-Law” units, homeowners use these as a way to fill the space in their home and gain residual income, either from vacationers or long-term tenants. 

The official terms for these units are Additional Dwelling Units (ADU) or Detached Additional Dwelling Units (DADU’s), and are defined as extra spaces in homes and on properties where someone can live completely independent of the main house. 

These units can be almost anywhere on the property, but they are usually located in the basement, in the backyard, or above the garage. They have their own bathroom and kitchen facilities, and sometimes they share laundry with the main house. 

Thinking of adding a unit to your home? Here are some benefits and risks, as well as important aspects to consider before you build:

 

Benefits

Homeowners can maximize their investment by renting out the extra space to long-term tenants for short-term vacationers. These tenants can help pay off debt or create an extra stream of income to pay for other needs or wants. 

Depending on several factors, including the size of the unit, the market in the area, and other factors, each homeowner should decide which option they are more comfortable with. These decisions should be made before they list the unit for rent to best market to the right audience. 

 

Risks

An obvious risk is that when you open your space to a stranger, there’s a possibility that things might end poorly. Either the tenants could turn out to be untrustworthy, or unreliable, leading to a financial burden. 

To minimize the risks, it’s a good idea to use an application process to check backgrounds and employment history as a tool to get to know the potential tenant. Make sure to adhere to the National Fair Housing Laws and your local regulations. 

 

Things to Consider:

  • What are the shared spaces?  
    • Would you be comfortable sharing those spaces, and potentially appliances, with a new person each weekend, or would you rather get to know the long-term tenant who would use those on a consistent basis? 
    • Rooms like the kitchen can be great for those who want to get more interaction from their vacation renters. However, sharing one bathroom between the homeowners and the visitors can be uncomfortable and risky.
    • Would you be okay with a long-term renter using your laundry facilities? What kind of access would they need to the house in order to use those machines? 

 

  • What is the size of the ADU/DADU?
    • Is it truly a space where someone could live, or would it be too tight to fit all the necessary appliances? 
    • Does the unit adhere to your local housing codes as a livable space? 

 

  • How close are the units and what noise level are you comfortable with? 
    • As a long-term landlord, tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment without the landlord barging into their space or controlling their activities. If the unit is in the basement and the tenant has friends or family over, that noise could permeate into your unit in the late hours of the night. A way to prevent this is to be sure to layout quiet hours and expectations before they sign the lease or make an agreement so that you and the tenant are on the same page. 
    • The same goes for the rules in the vacation rental listing. Managing expectations is the first way to create a relationship with the tenants, even those there for the weekend. 

 

  • What improvements are required to make the unit livable?
    • Do you need to add a kitchen or a bathroom? What are the costs associated with those improvements and would the market-rate rental prices make up for those improvements? You might not get your money back within the year, but if you’re dedicated to making the space worth it to rent it out over the next few years, these improvements, and financial obligations are necessary. 
    • If these initial investments aren’t viable for your situation, it might be a good idea to look at other options to earn rent from your home, including adding roommates with whom you’re willing to share all the common spaces. 

 

Whatever you decide, it’s important to be familiar with the rental market and regulations in both your local region and your neighborhood.  

 

Do you have an ADU or DADU on your property? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments. 

Windermere is Now on Spotify!

 

Americans spend about 32 hours a week listening to music, and for Millennials that number is even higher. Since so many activities connected to our homes are enhanced by music, we want to fuel the joy and memories of those experiences through home-inspired playlists on our very own Spotify channel.

Check out Windermere’s new Spotify channel where you can find playlists for every aspect of what it means to be home. Cleaning house? Check. Hosting a dinner party? Check. Chilling on the front porch? We have tunes for that too, and more. We invite you to follow, share, and enjoy!

 

Start following the Windermere Spotify channel today!

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying and Selling a Home

 

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction; there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

 

BUYERS:

 

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

 

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

 

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. 

 

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner’s or development dues associated with the property.

 

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

 

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

 

 

SELLERS:

 

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

 

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

 

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

 

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

 

 

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls. 

 

Click here if you would like to connect with an experienced real estate agent. 

You’ve Moved into Your New Home. Now What?

Congratulations on your new home! You made it through the arduous process that is buying a new home. Now it’s time to take on the task of moving in.

You did your research about the neighborhood and you feel like you know the home like the back of your hand. However, there are some things to do as you move in to protect your newest investment, and yourself, from the unknown variables in and around your home.

 

Change the locks garage door codes

Previous owners might have changed the locks, but they may not know who all has a key or a code to open your garage, especially neighbors who they trusted to watch their place while they were away. Changing the codes and locks on all the doors ensures that you have complete control over entry to your home

 

Check or Install Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If the home already has fire and carbon monoxide devices, make sure they are in working order by testing each one with the tester button. Keep a note of when to replace them as well.

If they don’t have them, install a device in each sleeping room, as well as common areas like the living room or kitchen. Hallways are a great place to cover multiple rooms with one detector as well.

 

Install a security system

Enjoy total peace of mind with a new security system. Meet with a consultant on the best ways to protect your home for a system that works best for you and your lifestyle.

There are also app-connected systems that you can set up yourself that notify you of movement on the cameras or doors and windows opening.

 

Meet the neighbors

Build a sense of community and get to know the lay of the land by knocking on neighbors’ doors to get to know them. Bring a small gift as a “thank you” for dealing with the moving trucks. This is a great initial step for figuring out who you can trust to watch things while you’re away should you need a helping hand in the near future.

 

These are just a few ideas on what you should do as soon as you move in. What are some things you do, or suggest to friends and clients on move-in day?

Windermere Living Fall Issue

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the fall issue of Windermere Living! Are you a foodie who loves to travel? Inside this issue is an article about interesting destinations where you can enjoy edible, immersive experiences like making your own coffee on the Kona coast of Hawaii, or diving for clams in Cabo and cooking them with an executive chef.

If you’ve ever undergone a major home remodel, you know all too well how important it is to partner with the right architect. We explore that topic in this issue, along with some pro tips on how to match yourself up with the perfect architect for your project, a process that isn’t that different from dating.

Last but not least, there are more than 70 pages filled with homes for sale throughout the Western U.S. Whether you’re in the market for a country farmhouse or a high-rise condo, there’s a little something for everyone.

This is just a sampling of what you’ll find in this issue of Windermere Living; we hope you enjoy it!

Read the Fall Issue of Windermere Living. 

Windermere Teams Up with the Seahawks to #TackleHomelessness

Windermere is proud to partner with the Seattle Seahawks for the fourth season to help #TackleHomelessness. For every Seahawks home game defensive tackle, Windermere will donate $100 to Mary’s Place, whose mission is to help families on their journey out of homelessness. To date we’ve raised nearly $100,000 through our #TackleHomelessness campaign and we’re looking forward to raising even more for our friends at Mary’s Place!

A 25-Year Tradition of Golfing and Giving

 

Golfing and giving seems to be a tradition with Windermere Real Estate. Many of our offices hold golf tournaments to raise money for local non-profits via the Windermere Foundation. The longest-held Windermere golf tournament has been hosted by a group of Windermere offices in Snohomish County, Washington.

 

Snohomish County Windermere Foundation Golf Tournament

This year’s 25th Annual Snohomish County Windermere Foundation Golf Tournament was held on July 26 at Cedarcrest golf course in Marysville, Washington. It was a festive day of golfing, food, and fun as they celebrated 25 years of support for low-income housing. The event raised nearly $30,000 for the Windermere Foundation, which then sent a donation to support Housing Hope and their ChildHope programs. Each golfer received a commemorative Windermere Foundation 25th Annual Golf Tournament coin. Over the past 25 years, this tournament has raised over $400,000 in support of non-profits in Snohomish County.

 

About Housing Hope

Housing Hope’s mission is to promote and provide affordable housing and tailored services to reduce homelessness and poverty for residents of Snohomish County and Camano Island, Washington. In 2018, ChildHope programs served 747 people–358 parents and 389 children in 315 families. Tomorrow’s ChildHope Child Development Center serves children from four weeks to twelve years of age, providing assessments for each child to determine special needs and treatment plans to help those children who may be traumatized by poverty and homelessness.

 

 

 

Windermere Legends Golf Tournament

Another golf tournament of note is the Windermere Legends Golf Tournament–in honor of Windermere legends Dick Wood, Don Deasy, Don Riley, John Demco, Terry Haberbush, Vince Haugerud, and Walley Starkey. It is hosted by several Seattle-area Windermere offices. Established in 2007, the golf tournament benefits the Windermere Foundation and The Don Deasy Memorial Leadership 1000 Scholarship Fund. The tournament was originally called the Don Deasy Memorial Golf Tournament, in honor of Don Deasy, a Windermere icon and valued franchise owner. The scholarship fund provides grants to help fund the college education of a Quincy High School graduate (Don’s hometown) who plans to attend the University of Washington. In its first year, the tournament raised $75,000. Sixteen years later, this annual golf tournament has raised a total of over $671,300.

 

Thanks to events like these golf tournaments, the Windermere Foundation has been able to raise more than $38 million over the past 30 years in support of low-income and homeless families. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit windermerefoundation.com.

 

The Slow Down in Foreign Buyers

The United States housing market is experiencing a significant reduction in foreign buyers. Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, cites several factors that could be contributing to this trend and offers his opinions as to what to expect in this recent Market Update.

Prepare For and Prevent Damage This Wildfire Season Before It Happens

After last year’s wildfires, some of the largest and deadliest in recent memory, spread along the west coast, homeowners are on edge as to what this fire season will bring. The questions of whether their home will be burnt, or if they will be affected by poor air quality, hang in the air much like the smoke of a nearby fire. Accompanied by heatwaves hitting much of the U.S. these fears can turn into realities just as quick as a spark in brush. Luckily there are ways to prevent damage and to prepare for anything coming your way.

 

Be prepared with fire insurance

Are you currently protected in case of a fire? Make sure to talk with your insurance agent and work on a plan to insure your home.

Questions to ask them are:

  • What is covered should our home be destroyed in a fire?
  • What kinds of documentation do we need to do in order to get the full benefit of the insurance?
    • It’s usually a great idea to keep a log of what is in your home and how much it costs. Keep receipts and invoices if possible.
  • Who at the company should we contact in case of emergency? 

 

Be prepared with an emergency kit

Cal Fire has a comprehensive guide to all things wildfire preparedness. Here they suggest putting together an emergency kit that’s always ready in case of sudden evacuations. They recommend including:

  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Non-perishable foods to last three days
  • Prescriptions and medications. Also, eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  • Change of clothes
  • Toiletries and sanitation supplies
  • And extra set of car keys, as well as credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Copies of important documents like birth certificates and passports
  • Food and water for your pet
  • Chargers for cell phones and other devices

Some other items you might consider having close by are easily carried valuables, sentimental items like family photos, and computers or hard drives. Keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed for any evacuations at night.

 

Prevent damage by fortifying the building

Fire-Safe Landscaping

You don’t have to re-do the entire garden to slow the fire down. Home Advisor recommends you create a balance of aesthetically pleasing flora and slow-burning plants that are less likely to ignite.

Additionally, keep your garden and property free of dry materials that are ideal for kindling either in your bonfire or for a wildfire. Not only does creating this barrier protect your home, it also gives firefighters a safe area to work from as they work to control the fire.

To see what plants to use and other ways to fireproof your property, visit HomeAdvisor.

 

Build or remodel with flame-resistant materials

Materials like brick, stucco, metal, or concrete are great exteriors that can prevent the fire from taking hold of your home, at least initially. If your home is already built with one of these materials, the weak points might lie in your extremities like your deck or porch. Consider re-building these with fire-proof materials or add a coating to protect them.

Additionally, protect the most vulnerable areas of your home, like your windows and any air vents. Add retractable fireproof panels to your windows or replace the glass with wire glass or fire-proof safety glass. Don’t forget your skylights or windows on your doors.