August is the month of vacationing! If you don't have anything planned, chances are you're spending time daydreaming about getting out of town. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or a multi-week excursion, it's important to prepare your home for your absence. No one wants to come home to find a flooded basement or stolen goods! We have a checklist of 10 pre-trip safety items to ensure that you return to your home just as you left it!
1. This is an obvious one! Be sure to lock all your doors and windows! Double check that doors are dead-locked and windows are latched. This will deter any potential break-ins.
2. Adjust your gas water heater to vacation or pilot mode. This could save you 15% off your dill because you won't be heating 40-50 gallons of water that won't be used! Upon your return, reheating the water should only take about 20 minutes.
3. Nothing says "unoccupied" like a overstuffed mailbox or piles of newspapers on the driveway. It is simple to put a temporary hold on your mail & paper subscriptions online to ensure your home looks occupied.
4. Adjust your thermostat so that you aren't running the air conditioning or heat without anyone home to enjoy it.
5. Turning off your main water shut-off valve will ensure that there are no plumbing leaks in the home while you're away. No one wants to return from vacation to a flooded home!
6. Don't leave planning pet care to the last minute! If you are unable to bring your beloved family pet on vacation with you, make sure you have stable care in place ahead of time. If you choose to have a pet-sitter at your home, they can help collect your mail/newspapers (#3) in your absence!
7. Unplug non-essential appliances to save energy and protect against power surges. Appliances that can easily be unplugged for savings includes computers, televisions, toasters & clothing dryers.
8. Another deterrent to burglars is a lit home. Invest in timers that you can program or control from your smart phone to turn on & off lights at pre-determined times. Especially in the evening hours, have lights or lamps that are near windows turned on to give your home the appearance of being occupied.
9. If you have a security system in your home, take full advantage of it! Set your alarm for the best way to secure your home alarm for when you're away.
10. If you are planning to be gone for an extended period of time, it might be wise to hire a trusted neighbor to mow your lawn & park in your driveway occasionally. This will give the appearance that you are still home and may bring you increased peace of mind.
Just as important as maintaining your home while you're gone, try to not over-post online about all the fun you are having on vacation. Be extra careful about what you post on social media and who has access to your updates! Save all those wonderful photos & updates for when you return home. Now you can enjoy a worry-free vacation knowing that your home is secure!
The summer heat has hit Seattle hard in the last week! If you are like me and can't imagine cooking dinner indoors during the heat wave, check out these awesome restaurants in Pike Place where you can dine al fresco.
Maximilien is a romantic French restaurant that features a large outdoor patio that is open through late September. You can view the stunning Puget Sound from any table - indoors or out. The menu is full of French classics and plenty of cool cocktails.
This restaurant is one of the most casual on our list but also one of the highest rated. It is a storefront dishing out Mediterranean favorites that you can take to go or stop for a quick bite at one of their small patio tables. You won't be able to resist getting a gyro as you walk by this Seattle favorite!
Place Pigalle is situated right next door to Maximilien and is hidden behind the famous fish throwers. Here, you dine on fantastic French fare above winding staircases and amidst musical busking.
The Pink Door
Views of the Sound from this lattice-covered patio are epic. The Italian food is classically simple and features seasonal market produce. There are also cabaret performances throughout the week, so make sure to check their schedule if you're trying to catch a show with dinner.
Pike Place Chowder
Seattle's award winning chowder can be found, not surprisingly, at Pike Place market. They worked tirelessly to create the best cup of chowder since 1991 and serve only 100% sustainable seafood. There is almost always a line, so make sure to arrive early if you want a seat on their outdoor patio!
This Bolivian joint is situated right above the market and has a beautiful red chair–lined patio. You won't miss a moment of action in the market from this location!
People choose to buy a home for a variety of reasons that can be very personal and the millennial generation is no exception. These young professionals make up a large portion of the demographic of current home buyers, so it's important to know what appeals to them. This year, NerdWallet conducted the Millennials & Homebuying Study and discovered the top 5 reasons that millennial renters decide to take the plunge and purchase a home.
1. Having a Say Over their Living Space - 93%
Like most people, many millennials have dreamt about their ideal living space - how they want to decorate, paint, renovate...etc. However, as a renter, you aren't able to fully customize your space according to your personal taste. In addition, most rentals have restrictions or fees attached to pet ownership. Owning your own home provides the freedom to personalize your living space and add furry friends to your family!
2. Achieve Security & Privacy - 90%
Owning a home gives people a sense of physical and financial security. As the owner, you have control over who accesses your home and when and you can secure it as you see fit. Financial security comes with knowing that your investment is long term and appreciating over time.
3. Live in a Nice Home - 81%
This response is similar to #1. Buying a home is a chance to upgrade your quality of life - you can purchase something nicer or renovate to your hearts content. You can choose the features and finishes in your own space that would make it appeal to your lifestyle.
4. Engage in Community - 75%
Buying a home in a neighborhood is one of the reasons that residents get involved in their community. There is a direct link to your home value and the quality of the neighborhood your home is located in. Furthermore, owning a home allows for the flexibility of caring for an older family member who may need to move in or accommodating your own growing family.
5. Future Flexibility - 53%
Future financial flexibility is the final reason that millennials are choosing to buy a home. A mortgage allows you to use that housing cost as a savings account that can be tapped into in the future, should you need to borrow against it. This is a valuable option during uncertain financial times and can bring a lot of peace knowing it's there.
Every year, Money magazine partners with Yelp to come up with the best parks in each state and this year's winner for Washington is none other than the Point Defiance Park in Tacoma! The park features the only zoo & aquarium combo in the Pacific Northwest and includes stunning waterfront views and a public garden. What's not to love??
At Point Defiance Park, it is easy to find something that for anyone to enjoy! Admission to this beautiful park is free, but the zoo & aquarium require an additional fee of $17.95 for adults to visit for a day. Complete with forested hiking trails, sandy beaches, the park, encompasses a huge 760 acres area across the Tacoma peninsula. Every year, the park draws in over 3.1 million visitors, according to Tacoma's Metro Parks department. It is open every day, year round, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
The park has a long history of being a gathering place for members of the community. Prior to 1888, the area was used as an undeveloped federal military reservation until President Cleveland granted the city rights to use it as a park. 10 years later, a lodge for the park superintendent was built as the first structure on the park grounds and the next year, in 1899, construction began on the zoo. Over the next 100 years, the park hosted a variety of different entertainment activities for the community including a pool, ferries, an amusement park, winter camps and Never Never Land, a children's storybook attraction. Major improvement projects were completed at the park during the Great Depression as a part of federal work relief programs.
Today, Point Defiance Park continues to develop as Tacoma's jewel of public spaces. Within the leadership at the park, there is a heavy focus on creating partnerships with conservation and cultural organizations to further the vitality of the peninsula. Currently, the park is undergoing some improvements, including a pedestrian bridge on Wilson Way that will connect the park to Ruston Way. The bridge is set to be completed later this year.
For more of the best parks in the US, check out the original article HERE!
This is the best time of year for potential home buyers in Seattle! The inventory is still improving, with over 13,500 new listings added to the MLS last month and a 5.2% increase in active listings from a year ago. More listings means more opportunities for buyers! Industry experts see the rising inventory as a hopeful trend that will continue through the summer.
Buyers around Washington saw less competition and more choices in June. In fact, there has been a decrease in multiple offers and "bidding wars" in June. This has led to a feeling of the market changing and softening slightly. However, there is still an unbalance in the market when it comes to pricing. With new jobs still be added in the region to the tune of about 100,000 annually and less than 30,000 single family homes being built in a year, we will continue to see prices rise as demand outpaces supply.
The June market saw prices increase 10% in King County, about 15% in Snohomish and this market is spreading west to Jefferson & Clallam counties. Grant, Skagit & Kitsap all had gains in sales prices that were close to 6%. It is still a seller's market, but one positive is that the median price for June's closed transactions is $425,000 - only $5,000 above May.
Home energy usage increases in the summer and so can the energy bill. But saving energy & money doesn't have to be a challenge! Here are some simple steps you can take every day to effectively manage your energy usage.
1. Replace your florescent & incandescent bulbs with LED lights, which sip energy rather than gulp it! These bulbs cost more but you will save more money in the long run because they actually last longer, as well. Wait for a big sale or seasonal rebates to find them at a discount.
2. When you purchase electronics, make sure they are labeled with the Energy Star logo - this brand indicates they’ve been tested and proven to be energy efficient. Some energy companies even offer rebates or discounts on pre-approved devices. If you are looking to upgrade an appliance, thermostat or even your home's windows, check out your energy company's website to see their current offerings.
3. Utilize a programmable thermostat that lets you adjust setting conveniently from an app. Some devices automatically will optimize your heating & cooling based on whether or not you are home. They can learn your schedule and detect the outdoor weather and potentially shave a significant amount from your energy bills.
4. Control the amount of time your devices are on “idle” by programming your computer or gaming console go into sleep mode after a period of not being in use. This will prevent them from sucking energy when not in use.
5. For running the laundry or dishwasher, wait until off-peak hours to reduce energy costs. You can find these hours via your energy company. Running full loads will also help cut down your bills. Additionally, wash laundry in cold water and hang dry to save even more! Most liquid detergents these days are formulated to be just as effective when used with cold water as with warm. Dishwashers save more water than hand-washing and avoid heavy pre-rinsing before running the dishwasher.
Have you looked at the forecast for the next few weeks? It’s looking like sunshine. Which always makes us happy, keeping up with your busy life, taking the kids to their various summer activities and still having time to water your plants seems almost impossible. We have a solution! Check out these 5 fabulous plants that do well with little water yet look good all summer long!
Paperbark Maple- Always a winner in our book. They are small, only topping out at 18-20 feet. They have a lovely coral colored, peel like bark that looks like paper, hence the name!
Windmill Palm- Did you know that palm trees can grow in the PNW? Yup, These babies once established don’t need water, they can reach 15-20 feet tall and have a fan shaped top that can span 10-12 feet, talk about a real eye- catcher.
California Lilac- Our personal favorite, this tiny leaf, purple cluster flowers that smell heavenly are the perfect addition to any landscape, note that it attracts honey bees so it’s not good near a door or walkway. These guys also get big, 8-10 feet wide. There are smaller varieties though so make sure you do your research and find the right variety for your space.
Morning light ‘Maiden Hair” grass- It has an upright structure and is “king” of the grasses. with its narrow blades and silvery color this plant is certainly a stunner. Best of all, it won’t fall over in heavy rains either. Cut back fully in the winter months to keep it looking spiffy.
Bishops Hat- Another one of our favorites is “bishops hat” with its dainty leaves and tall upright yellow or pink flowers this plant is the perfect ground cover, it spreads slowly and is easily controlled. There are several varieties available so make sure you choose the best one for your site.
This July you won't want to miss this exciting event in Tacoma!
Summer 2018 marks the 25th Maritime festival in Tacoma celebrating the city's waterfront history. This event is for all ages and is set for July 28th and 29th. The festival not only celebrates Tacoma's unique 46 miles of history rich waterfront, but it also showcases the trades of past and the current industries which shape it.
Several events are taking place within the festival, which may be of interest. You might find that you quite enjoy paddle board yoga! If that sounds a bit too risky, then perhaps the dockside tours of vessels, or the glass display at the Tacoma at the Museum of Glass. Face painting should delight the kids, and food trucks are sure to please.
The Tacoma maritime festival has been running for 2 decades and has been enjoyed by almost a quarter of a million people. The best part, it's completely free, so bring the whole family and enjoy this festive weekend celebrating.
Looking for more information? Check out the event link, where you'll find day of schedules, parking information and directions.
The summer real estate market is heating up! Summer is a popular time for families to move because they kids are off school and it's an easier time to pack up and move. Plus, more people are out and about in the summer. Curb appeal is at a peak when all the flowers are blooming and trees are full. Plus, if you have a "Sale" sign in front of your home, more people will see it as they are exploring the area. If you're thinking about selling, here are five reasons to list during the summer months!
1. High Demand
Now is the time to take advantage of the buyer activity. Across the country, demand from buyers is very strong. House hunters are ready and able to purchase and they want to do it now! More often than not, buyers will compete with each other to buy the same home and sometimes create a bidding war. This is good news if you are looking to upgrade your home and want to get as much out of the sale as possible.
2. Less Competition
Inventory has been hovering at very low levels for the last 35 months now, which means that there aren't enough homes for sale to satisfy the market demand. In our local area, home values are increasing, which is good news for homeowners who have gained equity. However, as home values continue to appreciate, more owners will be given the freedom to move as their equity increases. So, don't wait for more inventory to come on the market before you decide to sell!
3. Quick Transactions
Buyers are doing everything they can to have their offers stand out from the crowd. This includes getting pre-approved for financing, getting pre-inspections done and waiving other conditions. This makes the selling process much faster and simpler. Also, today's buyers are more savvy real estate shoppers and do a lot of research and planning ahead of time. 41 days is the average time it is taking to close on a loan, according to Ellie Mae.
4. Premium Home Inventory
If you are looking to upgrade to a premium or luxury home, now is a great time because of inventory. Homes in higher price ranges are facing buyers market due to the amount of inventory. In many areas across the country, luxury homes are staying on the market longer. So, if you have a starter home and want to trade up, you will find that buyers will compete for it and you can have your pick of the premium homes.
Summer is the most popular time of year to use vacation days and it has the most long weekends. This extra time means that you'll have more time to properly prepare and list your home. Selling your home takes time & effort and it's worthwhile to focus on the details to get the best return.
Give us a call if you are wanting to talk about selling your home this summer! We'd love to help