Your credit score is a very important number that you should do your best to protect. It is used to determine what kind of loan and rate that you can qualify for and is a huge factor in securing a mortgage.
If your credit score is low, do your best to find ways to raise it. If your score is high, avoid these three potentially damaging choices in order to keep it that way.
1. Cosigning on a loan
This is a tricky one. Most of us are kind and generous people who would do absolutely anything for the people we love. However, cosigning on a loan can be very risky and you have to look out for your own personal finances first. Should the primary borrower on the loan miss payments, your credit score will take a hit. Worst case scenario, you may have to pay money on the loan in order to keep your credit score up but you'd ultimately not get anything in return.
2. Closing a credit card account
Your first credit card account probably isn't rewarding and you likely got it merely to start building credit or perhaps to have something to fall back on in case of an emergency. Even if this account is paid off and you haven't used it in years, you may want to keep it open. The card has a long credit history attached to it and this is good for your score! Furthermore, closing the account would lower your available credit, which may affect your debt utilization ratio. Unfortunately, this one small action could damage your score in two different ways.
3. Not regularly checking your score for errors
It is recommended to regularly be checking your credit score for potential errors. Human errors are common and you want to be looking out for any inaccuracies to protect your score. Also, by checking your score regularly, you could be alerted early to any potential identity fraud. If you haven't looked lately, try Credit Karma - it is free and user friendly.
Privately operated bikesharing companies have been popping up all over the US, including in and around the Seattle area. In June of 2017, the City of Seattle released a pilot program of new rules to govern how private companies operate free-floating, dock-less bike shares in Seattle. As a result, new companies have released their colorful bikes around the city. Since the program was opened up to allow private companies, the amount of users has dwarfed the old city-run system. The pilot program ended Dec 31st but you will still see bikes on the street as the city evaluates the impact & popularity of the bike shares.
Cities on the Eastside have learned a lot from watching Seattle execute their bikeshare program and have decided to launch their own pilot. Fortunately for Bellevue, Kirkland & Redmond, Seattle went first before the Eastside bikeshare pilot begins in May.
Kirkland & Redmond are launching and permitting dockless type of bikesharing. And, Bellevue is going to be the only city in America to launch an entirely electric bikeshare system! They believe that they will get more use of the bikes if they are eBikes (electric bicycles), due to the terrain and hills in the city. Starting in April, Bellevue will accept applications from bikeshare operators and allow launch in May. They plan to evaluate the pilot program in September and then again in February 2019.
The city of Bothell has already debuted their bikes. In January, they appeared suddenly en-masse on the streets of Bothell, becoming the first official expansion into one of Seattle's suburbs. In fact, a number of bikes started to end up in Bothell after trips that had started in Seattle - likely due to the Burke-Gilman Trail. LimeBike, one of the privately operated bikeshare companies, saw that the majority of bikes leaving the city would end up in there! It seemed like a natural progression to formerly expand the program into that suburb. Bothell residents haven't taken to the bikes quite like Seattliets have, but time will tell!
For daily updates on the bikesharing system in the Seattle/Eastside areas, check out the Seattle Bike blog!
Every year, Remodeling Magazine conducts studies of which remodeling projects will get you the highest rate of return in various cities.
For Seattle this year, adding a manufactured stone veneer to the exterior of your home has the highest rate of return at 144.6% of your investment. Surprisingly, the project with the smallest rate of return is adding a master suite - coming in at just 62.5 percent of your investment. Here are the top 5 renovations in order of cost to value:
1. Add manufactured stone veneer: +144.6 percent
This renovation project is primarily one of improving the curb appeal of your home. Adding manufactured stone veneer to the bottom third of your home makes it look more finished.
2. Replace garage door: +141.2 percent
This is the top renovation job nationally! Installing a new four-section garage door on heavy duty steel tracks is a very popular addition. Including windows in the top panel with insulated glass can improve the curb appeal of the home, as well!
3. Composite deck: +122 percent
A simple deck with stairs and railing made of pressure treated material can go a long way. For an added bonus, build in planters around the perimeter in the same material. For comparison, a wood deck addition comes in slightly lower at 106.7%.
4. Minor kitchen upgrades: +116.3 percent
A minor kitchen remodel includes replacing cabinet & drawer fronts with new shaker-style wood panels and new hardware. Upgrade appliances like the cooktop/oven range and fridge with energy efficient appliances and replace laminate countertops with slab granite or quartz. Painting and replacing old flooring can also be included in the remodel to polish off the look!
5. Universal bathroom redesign: +107.2 percent
The intention of including universal design features in your home is to ensure that your bathroom provides access to everyone- regardless of age, size or ability. This type of redesign can include widening the doorway to accommodate wheelchairs, replacing a shower/tub combo with a walk-in zero-threshold unit, and replacing existing toilet with a comfort-height toilet.
I can't lie... I look forward to spring cleaning every year! There is something so wonderful about having a sparkly clean house and watching little bits of green peak out of the ground after a frosty winter. I've compiled a list of some overlooked areas of the home that make a huge impact when cleaned up. These things can be tackled all at once or you can deal with them over the course of a few days.
Unless you live alone, you shouldn't be the only one participating in the spring-clean! Get your kids and other family members involved with age-appropriate tasks. Set a timer for 15 minutes and encourage the little ones to take care of cleaning their own rooms.
Most importantly, try to have fun while cleaning - open the windows, light some fresh-smelling candles and bump your tunes!
Cleaning the fridge will likely take you 45-60 minutes to complete. First, pull out all your food and toss everything that is past it's pull. Fill your sink with hot soapy water and put all shelves and bins in for a deep clean. Spray the interior of your fridge with a food-safe all purpose cleaner, shut the door and wait for the cleaner to do it's thing. Wipe down the fridge, attack the sticky/crumby messes and slide components back into place. Finally, when you put all your food back into the fridge, use this opportunity to organize by kind to make future cooking and snacking a breeze!
Kitchen & Bathroom Tile Grout
Expect to spend 90-120 minutes scrubbing tile grout. This is probably the most tedious task on the list and it can be hard on your body! Pro tip: use a gardening knee pad to ease the stress on your joints.
If you've been fighting grout stains for years without success, start the cleaning process by rubbing sandpaper over grout lines to shear off the top layer and expose cleaner layers underneath. Then, dilute bleach according to instructions and use an old toothbrush to scrub in the same direction as the grout lines. Make sure you have the bathroom fan on and let dry for 30 minutes. Rinse off and apply sealant, which will make your next cleaning session much easier!
Walls & Windows
This task should take about 60 minutes, depending on the size of your home. Somehow, our walls seem to get dirty throughout the year from smudgy hands and things bumping up against them. I've found that a Magic Eraser works the best for these types of messes. Before using, make sure it won't ruin your paint! As for windows, take the time to clean both the interior and exterior window for a squeaky-clean look that enhances the feel of your home! While you're at the windows, take a good duster to your blinds and wipe off whatever's been building up.
Car cleaning will take 60-90 minutes. The secret to a wonderfully clean car interior is sprinkling carpet cleaning powder on upholstered seats and mats! Brush the product in and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then vacuum it up for a super-clean look & smell! Make sure to suck up all the residue from the cleaner or else it will attract more dirt if left behind. While you're waiting for the cleaning powder to work it's magic, wash windows, disinfect the dash and clean up any debris left under the seats.
Do you look forward to spring cleaning? What pro tips can you share with us??
Mortgage rates have risen about .5% in 6 months, so what does that mean if you're trying to buy a home? First of all - don't worry! If you are trying to buy a home, the mortgage rate is important but shouldn't be your main focus. Don't let mortgage rates scare you into making a hasty decision about a home.
Mortgage rates don't have a huge impact on the monthly payment, but the cost can add up over time. For example, on a 30-year loan for $200,000, the monthly payment would be about $60 less at 4% vs. 4.5% interest. However, over 30 years, that adds up to just over $21,000!
When mortgage rates are rising but you are ready to buy a house, here are some things you can do to secure a good rate:
1. Lock your mortgage interest rate.
Your lender commits to an agreed upon combination of interest rates and points with you in a mortgage rate lock. If you are able to close the loan by the predetermined date, the rate can't rise. Occasionally, a lender will offer a one time float down option that allows you to get a lower rate if the rates are going down.
2. Purchase points to reduce the interest rate.
If you have additional cash on hand, you can purchase discount points. This is essentially pre-paying some of the interest in order to secure a lower mortgage rate. One point is equivalent to 1% of the loan amount. As a general rule of thumb, one point often gives a rate cut of 1/4 of a percentage point. However, this varies as mortgage rates fluctuate.
3. Look at homes in a different price range.
Before you begin your home search, it is wise to determine a range of interest rates that will allow you to afford the type of home you want. If rates are continuing to rise, you may need to adjust your price rage downward to stay within your budget. There are many loan affordability calculators available online that can help you determine a good range!
There are some undeniable elements in a home that increase it's value and some that are not so obvious. According to Zillow's research, there were some surprising things that can affect the price that someone is willing to pay for a home!
1. Proximity to a Starbucks
Homes within a quarter mile of a Starbucks increased faster than all other homes in the U.S. Zillow reported that between 1997 & 2014, the value of these homes increased by 96% while other homes further away from a Starbucks increased by only 65%. In addition, homes near a Dunkin' Donuts also increased faster than average, at 80% over the same 17 year period.
2. Blue Kitchen & Bathrooms
The color that you paint your kitchen also counts a lot! Homes with blue kitchens sold for over a $1,000 premium, compared to homes with white kitchens. The same study showed that homes with blue painted bathrooms sold for a whopping $5,400 more!
3. Trendy Design Features
Home listing that provide details to on-trend features sell homes faster and for a premium. Keywords including "farmhouse sink" and "barn door" are a couple current favorites. The effect of the keyword only works if the feature is popular at the time. Use those listing descriptions and photos to highlight on-trend designs in your home!
4. Proximity to a City
The average urban home is now worth 35% more than the average suburban home. If you own a home in or near a major city, you are living in a rapidly appreciating asset. Don't discount the location of your home if you are close to a city!
Want to wake up to vacation worthy views every day? You won't want to miss this exceptional home with expansive Puget Sound views from almost every room.
We were lucky enough to interview the homeowners, here's what they had to say:
This home is lush with history and A bit of history about 1412 Beach Dr – was originally built in 1929 by Mr. Stimson of the Stimson Lumber Company as his summer cabin. At this time, Dash Point neighborhood association owned a ferry that would bring passengers from Tacoma to Dash Point Pier (being there were no roads at the time). This property was a summer cabin for his family.
In 1983 Mr. Thompson built a modern structure next to the cabin. I purchased the property in 2004 and spent a year renovating and updating both sides (no structural changes). The property can function as one house or as a duplex. When I purchased the home, the county classified it as a single-family residence. The room layout however, did not flow well between the two and my wife and I did not need to live in a 5900 sq ft home. I blocked off two doors that adjoined the two sides. They still exist and can be opened with little work. The property can be easily converted back into a single-family residence. The water and septic are on one system, and electrical, heating and propane are on separate meters.
Benefits of Residing in Dash Point
Metro Tacoma park is 3 doors away with a fishing pier, sandy beaches (which is one of the few in the South Sound), park benches at waters edge, playground and a covered picnic area.
Lots of wild life in the area – Golden Eagles, Osprey, Heron, Seals, Seagulls and Crows. It is a real treat to watch the Herons, Osprey and Eagles fish.
The Lobster Shop is being remodeled by Gino Rivera and will be named “Gino’s at the Point”. Perfect location for us as it is only 5 doors down – very convenient.
Wonderful stable and dependable neighbors who have lived on this street for years.
Views of The Sound includes shipping traffic, fireworks on the 4th of July, and Seattle, Vashon and Des Moines are all visible.
Amenities of 1412 Beach Dr
Unit A Features
Upper Level 3
Master Suite is over 650 sq ft with fireplace (propane insert) vaulted ceilings and huge skylights. Attached bath includes 7’ jetted tub, shower and double vanities. Lots of closet space (his and hers). Large deck overlooking the sound features an out-door wood burning fireplace. On the back side of the home is a ‘Juliette balcony’ off of the master bedroom.
Office Space, with custom built in desks for 2 plus 4 filing cabinets, is like a bird’s nest sitting between levels 2 and levels 3 of the home. It has a fantastic view of the Sound while overlooking the dining room and living rooms too.
Main Level 2
Living Room features large stone fireplace (propane inserts), deck overlooking the Sound, large enough for 2 sofas, coffee table, two easy chairs and a Baby Grand Piano! The corner nook is a wonderful place for morning coffee and watch the activity on the Sound.
Dining Room located two steps above the living room is large enough for 8-10 person table, china cabinet and side serving cabinet. It also features a sliding door to the back deck.
Kitchen on the same level as dining room offers a eating bar, room for a small table, 2 sliding doors to large back deck.
Lower Level 1
Lower level offers a extra finished room that can be whatever fits your lifestyle. It is wired for projector screening / TV. Attached to this room is the second bedroom with a custom wall bed (Murphy style). Also included on the lower level are the washer and dryer (which stay with the home) and a ¾ bathroom.
2 Car Garage is accessed from the lower level and has a new garage door and opener
Covered Storage / Breezeway is found along side of the home.
Unit B Features
- Large living room with fireplace (propane insert) and Huge window looking out at large deck and views.
- Dining Room expansive enough to handle a 14 person table – wall windows brings in natural light to this room.
- Kitchen with granite tile counters, opens to laundry room, pantry and outside access.
- Powder Room and large Office or Bedroom (your choice) complete the main level.
- Oversized 1 Car Garage boasts shelving, new garage door and opener.
2 Bedrooms with walk-in closets and built-in drawers plus a full guest bath are located upstairs.
Additional Items of Interest
- Garages are accessed from Whitman St at rear of property.
- Plenty of parking for guests – both in front of the home and rear.
- Fenced and gated yard including driveway (at rear of property).
- Block wall 30” deep along west side of backyard with Rhizome barrier preventing neighbors’ bamboo from entering yard.
How do you use your attic? Is it finished or unfinished? If you are dreaming of a more grown-up attic space and expanding your home's usable square footage, check out our ideas below!
Although attics often have funny nooks & crannies and oddly angled walls, these unique features can be embraced!
1. Quiet work space
Even if you have lower ceilings in your attic, you can still build a desk into the wall or a padded seating area for reading.
2. Craft Oasis
Attics are the perfect place for a crafting/sewing room. Craft supplies can be hard to organize to begin with, but the unique nooks in an attic can be utilized for craft storage. Try using Ikea organizing cube units and customize them to your space!
3. Master Suite
An attic can be a wonderfully private place for a dreamy master suite. This can be a bright, airy retreat with a couple of added skylights!
You can let your kids imaginations run wild in decorating and designing the attic playroom. Don't be afraid to use a fun mix of colors and patterns! Create built-ins, secret spaces and hidden doors for endless hours of imagination.
5. Extra Living Room
If you are tight on space in your main living area, try expanding up! An upper-level attic can be a retreat for older kids or teens to hang out friends. You can mount a tv on a flat or even an angled wall! The possibilities are endless.