A Guide to Going Low-to-Zero Waste

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Making the switch to a more sustainable household won’t happen overnight, but there are simple steps you can take to cut down on your home’s waste.

Start your waste-reducing process by getting to know your local disposal guidelines. What you can recycle varies at both the state and city level. Check your local municipality’s website for recycling rules and more information, like whether you need to separate your recycling and if your community accepts food and yard waste for composting. 

Waste-reducing principles 
Instilling some basic principles of waste reduction into your household will create a solid foundation to build upon. 
  • Only buy what you will eat. Food waste is a common problem in households everywhere, and the best remedy is to plan ahead before you take your next trip to the grocery store. This method of planning meals will reduce the chances of throwing away unused food items and minimize your food waste overall. 
  • Keep your recycling clean. It doesn’t take much time to give your recyclables a quick rinse, but it makes a big difference at the recycling center. Avoid recycling items like plastic bags, greasy take-out food containers, and batteries, which contaminate the rest of your recycling. 
  • Use containers for drinks. Bottled water and paper coffee cups are wasteful and, unfortunately, ubiquitous. By purchasing a durable metal or glass water bottle and a thermos for coffee, you will greatly reduce the waste that comes as a byproduct of daily beverages. 


In-home waste reduction
Reducing waste in the kitchen, bathroom, and yard will make a significant difference in the amount of overall waste generated at home. 
  • Reusable containers: Adding plastic and glass containers to your kitchen repertoire will not only help to reduce food waste, but they will decrease your use of plastic. Mason jars are useful for storing bulk items such as rice, beans, and oatmeal. 
  • Single-use alternatives: Single-use items like paper towels, paper plates, and plastic cups can be replaced by reusable alternatives. Use kitchen rags to clean up instead of paper towels and hand wash all plates and cups when possible.   
  • Countertop compost: Set up a small compost bin on your countertop to ensure all compost is accounted for during food prep. When the container is full, take it outside to a larger outdoor compost pile or container.


  • Cut down on plastic: For common bathroom items like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, consider buying in bulk and using a personal container for each. This saves money and reduces the amount of plastic on your bathroom shelves. You can also look for similar products in bar form. 
  • Continue to recycle: Your home’s recycling practices should go beyond the kitchen. Place a recycling container next to all bathroom garbage bins throughout the house to ensure you dispose of recyclable products properly. 
  • Reusable razors: Plastic razors have a short shelf life and pose serious recycling problems. Explore more eco-friendly shaving products next time you buy. Look for companies with razors that last and offer subscriptions for replacing blades. 


  • Compost: Composting is one of the best things you can do to help reduce waste. Fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, as well as things like yard trimmings, houseplants, and fireplace ashes are all compostable. If you don’t have the space for an outdoor compost, see what community composting options are available near you. 
  • Other: If you live in a rainy climate, explore installing rainwater catchments in your home. Check for local regulations and tips on preventing pollution before proceeding with any rainwater harvesting.
For additional tips on how to reduce waste at work, at home, and in your community, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s guide here: Reduce Waste – EPA.

Windermere Offices Find Safe Ways to Give Back This Summer

Pictured foreground to background: Zoe Brady, Kim Hyland, Angela Cherbas. – Eugene, OR


Preparing for the Holiday Season – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

On August 29, Windermere’s Coeur d’Alene offices donated $500 to Heart Reach, Inc., the non-profit food bank of the local Heart of the City Church, in support of their 2020 Turkeys and More program. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this donation will help Heart Reach jumpstart their program year. Heart Reach will work with the United Way to identify and assist 1,700 families facing financial hardship in Kootenai County and provide them with food this holiday season.



Pictured L to R: Evalyn Adams, Heart Reach Inc. coordinator for Turkeys and More, agents Rich Dussell, Karen Hansen and Vicky Houle of Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty. – Coeur d’Alene, ID


Let the Kids Play! – Seattle, WA

On August 5, the Windermere Sand Point office held their own Community Service Day at Thornton Creek Elementary school, readying the playground for use when school is back in session. Broker Tammy Heldridge led talks with the school district to put the event together, taking proper precautions to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Along with additional help from Heather Curiel, Brixton Ward, and Kate Chamberlin from the Windermere Northgate Office, the brokers, staff, and volunteers worked hard weeding, leveling sand, spreading wood chips and moving planters. Representatives from Seattle Public Schools’ Facilities Department lent a helping hand and by the end of the day, the playground was ready for play.



Above: Pictured L to R: Tammy Heldridge and Kian Pornour 
Below: R: Renee Menti Ruhl – Thornton Creek Elementary – Seattle, WA



Gardening For Food Access – Lane County, Oregon

Over the course of three Fridays in August, staff and agents from Windermere Real Estate Lane County worked to transform the gardens of local food bank Food For Lane County, whose mission is to “Reduce Hunger by engaging our community to create access to food.” Working in groups of no more than ten and wearing masks, the teams took to the fields, shoveling dirt and hauling wheelbarrows, breathing new life into gardens that provide food for the community. Even though their original Community Service Day was canceled, “we still wanted to find a way to help the community, especially in a time like this when so many families are having a hard time putting food on the table due to Covid-19,” said Administrative Assistant, Whitney Schmidbauer. 



Above: Pictured foreground to background: Zoe Brady, Kim Hyland, Angela Cherbas. Below: Angela Cherbas – Eugene, OR



Feeding Ronald McDonald House Families – Seattle, WA

Through the Windermere Foundation, Windermere Wedgwood donated 50 chicken dinners on August 19 to Ronald McDonald House through local restaurant Wedgwood Broiler. The office was originally scheduled to make dinners for the families at the Ronald McDonald House kitchen earlier this spring. But since the pandemic put a strain on visitors and in-house meal prep, they asked for meals to be packaged and brought in for the families to enjoy. Wedgwood Broiler stepped up with meals of roasted chicken, rice pilaf and fresh veggies. 


Pictured L to R: Ann O’Neil, Jay Nemitz, and Michele Flinn picked up the meals and delivered them to Ronald McDonald House – Seattle, WA

Buying a Fixer-Upper

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For some home buyers, a fixer-upper is their idea of a dream home. Preparing for the process comes down to creating a plan, knowing what to look for, and understanding what financing options are available.


Create a plan 

Fixer-uppers require a future-oriented mindset. Knowing the magnitude of the project you and your household are willing to take on will help dictate your budget and expectations as time goes on. Understand that in addition to the down payment and closing fees, the costs inherent in a fixer-upper purchase have the potential to go over-budget easily. Familiarize yourself with permitting in your area to understand how to navigate any legal roadblocks in the renovation process. 


What to look for 

Location: Whether you are purchasing a fixer-upper with plans to sell it, rent it out, or live in it, consider its location before purchasing. If you’re planning on selling or renting, location is one of the most important factors to making a return on your investment. And if you’re planning to live in your fixer-upper, keep in mind that location will be a large part of your experience in the home. 

Scope of renovation: If you are looking for a smaller scale renovation, look for fixer-uppers that require cosmetic projects like new interior and exterior paint, fresh carpeting and flooring, appliance upgrades, and basic landscaping maintenance. More expensive and involved projects include reroofing, replacing plumbing and sewer lines, replacing HVAC systems, and full-scale room remodels.

Inspections: Beyond a standard home inspection, which covers components of the home like its plumbing and foundation, consider specialized inspections for pests, roof certifications, and engineering reports. This will help differentiate between the property’s minor flaws and critical problems, further informing your decision when it comes time to prepare an offer.


Financing options

Renovation loans allow buyers to finance the home and the improvements to the home together. Extra consultations, inspections, and appraisals are often required in the loan process, but they help guide the work—and thereby, added value—of your fixer-upper. Talk with your lender about which option is best for you. 


  • FHA 203(k): The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) loans can be used for most projects in the process of fixing up a home. In comparison to conventional mortgages, they accept lower incomes and credit scores. 
  • VA renovation loan: With this loan, the cost of the improvement projects is combined into the loan amount for the home purchase. Contractors employed in any renovations must be VA-approved, and a construction fee may be charged by the lender. 
  • HomeStyle Loan – Fannie Mae: The HomeStyle Renovation Loan can be used by home buyers purchasing a fixer-upper, or by homeowners refinancing their homes to cover the improvements. Funds are distributed directly to contractors via a separate escrow account. This loan also allows for luxury projects, such as pools and landscaping.
  • CHOICERenovation Loan – Freddie Mac: This renovation mortgage is guaranteed by Freddie Mac, allowing projects that bolster a home’s ability to withstand natural disasters. 
If you’re interested in buying a fixer upper, talk to your Windermere agent to help you understand the process and discuss what makes the most sense for you.

The Seahawks and Windermere Team Up Again to #TackleHomelessness


As the “Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks,” all of us at Windermere are proud to kick off our fifth season of partnering with the Seahawks to #TackleHomelessness. For every defensive tackle made at a Seahawks home game this season, Windermere will donate $100 to Mary’s Place in support of their mission to provide safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. Mary’s Place has provided resources, housing and employment services to the homeless in the greater Seattle area since 1999.

Thanks to the Seahawks’ defensive efforts last year, we were able to donate $30,000 to Mary’s Place, bringing our grand total to $128,200 raised over the past four seasons. We look forward to raising even more this year! 

Our partnership with Mary’s Place is in harmony with the mission of the Windermere Foundation—to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where Windermere operates. 

You can follow our progress throughout the Seahawks season on our social media pages. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for updates. Go Hawks!

Wildfire Preparation and Evacuation Tips

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As wildfires rage throughout the West Coast, many homeowners are being evacuated from their homes, while others stand by for information as the spread continues. The following tips are meant to inform your household’s wildfire evacuation protocol, whatever your evacuation timeline may be. 


Immediate evacuation

Evacuation orders come from local law enforcement agencies, but if you have not received an official evacuation notice and feel threatened by wildfires in your area, do not hesitate to leave. Take only essential vehicles on the road, this will minimize traffic and reduce the chance of gridlock when evacuating the area. Keep the windows rolled up to avoid inhaling smoke and tune into local radio for updates as you head toward safer ground. And remember your masks! 


What to bring 

The Six P’s

  • People and pets  
  • Phones and personal computer
    • Chargers, any additional computer hardware 
  • Papers and important documents 
    • Birth certificates, passports, insurance, legal documents
  • Prescriptions 
    • Medication, eyeglasses, contacts
  • Pictures and irreplaceable keepsakes
  • Payment (credit & debit cards, bank cards, cash) 


Go bag
  • Face masks or coverings 
  • Extra clothing 
  • First aid kit 
  • Toiletries
  • Tools
  • Flashlight 
  • Batteries 
  • Sanitation supplies 
  • Copies of important documents
  • Three-day supply of food and water 
Evacuation Preparation 
If you live in an area that is not being evacuated, there are steps you can take now to prepare your home and family, if and when the time comes. 
  • Create a “defensible space” 
    • Clear your home’s surroundings of brush and vegetation
  • Turn off sprinklers and main gas lines 
  • Clean out roof and gutters 
  • Move furniture away from windows toward the center of the room
  • Remove flammable household items 
  • Prepare your emergency kit 
    • Include useful items listed above in “Go bag” 


For additional information on protecting yourself from smoke while addressing COVID-19 health concerns, Click Here. Be sure to check your local news and emergency alert radio stations and social media profiles for the most up-to-date information and helpful resources.

Wildfires are unpredictable. Knowing what to do both in preparation for and during an emergency evacuation will have your household prepared in the event that a wildfire spreads to your area, neighborhood, or home.

Ask an Agent

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On Windermere’s “Ask An Agent” Instagram Live series, radio personality and Windermere client Carla Marie talks with our agents about all things real estate, answering audience questions to simplify the complexities of home ownership.


Episode 1: Jessica James – Watch it here


The agent-client duo of Jessica James and Carla Marie kicked off Our Ask An Agent Instagram Live series on August 4, 2020. Jessica worked with Carla Marie last year to buy her first home. Recounting their experience working together, Carla Marie addressed her concerns heading into her home purchase and touched on the balance of knowing what you want in a home but staying openminded. They also talked through the common misconception that a down payment must be 20% of the home’s price and how talking through options with your lender can lead you to a monthly payment you’re comfortable with.   


Episode 2: Ashley Abolafia – Watch it here


On the second episode of Ask An Agent, our own Ashley Abolafia brought both her real estate expertise and financial background to the table. Their conversation began with a common homebuying inquiry—If I want to buy a home, where do I start? “Pre-approval, pre-approval, pre-approval. A house can go from a blessing to a curse really fast if you don’t honor the financial constraints that work for you,” said Abolafia. A timely discussion followed about how changes to employment and credit scores during the COVID-19 pandemic play into homebuying strategies.


Episode 3: Gervon Simon – Watch it here


The most recent Ask An Agent episode saw Carla Marie in conversation with Gervon Simon, whose interest in real estate began during his Junior year at West Point Academy, and whose first days as an agent were when he was still on active duty in the Army. Although his real estate knowledge is far-ranging, Gervon specializes in educating his clients on the use of VA loans. “Not only are the VA loan rates lower than conventional mortgage rates, but there is zero down payment on the purchase price and there is no PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance),” Simon explained. The dialogue shifted to questions about when to get in touch with a lender during the home buying process. Carla Marie expanded on this by discussing the benefits of working with an agent and lender who know and trust each other.


The second half of the Ask An Agent series will be back this fall with new Windermere agents, new questions, and new discoveries about all things home ownership. Follow our Instagram page (@Windermere) for updates on future episodes and follow Carla Marie (@thecarlamarie) to watch any episodes you may have missed.

Dangers of an Overpriced Home

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When it comes time to sell your home, determining its exact value can be a challenge. Naturally, homeowners want to get the most value for their home. However, if it hits the market at too high a price, it could cause serious complications in the selling process. 


Attracting the wrong buyers

An overpriced home creates a kind of seller’s limbo that draws the attention of the wrong buyers, which is a surefire way to start your selling process off on the wrong foot.

A vast majority of homebuyers begin their home search online, especially during these days of social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. If your home is overpriced in comparison to other listings in your area, it won’t appear in their search results. In this way, an overpriced home is blind to its intended buyers and actually drives traffic to nearby listings that are more accurately priced.  

An overpriced home can’t compete with listings in a more expensive bracket. Buyers know what they want, and they know what to expect in their price range. When they notice a home is missing the square footage, features, and amenities typically found in others at the same price, they will quickly lose interest. 


Fewer showings / virtual tours

Showings—both physical and virtual—play a significant role in the sale of your home. They give buyers a first-hand look and provide them the opportunity to ask questions and gather more information. Selling your home is a numbers game. The more showings scheduled at your listing, the more potential buyers you have. The more potential buyers, the greater chance of an offer. 

Your agent knows that showings are critical to capturing buyer interest. But if the home is overpriced, they will have difficulty attracting attention to your home. This can slow the entire home selling process, leaving both the seller and agent feeling frustrated.


Expired shelf life

Think of the home you’re selling as a fresh tomato. Off the vine (newly listed), it is fresh and attractive, appealing to everyone in the market and standing out amongst the other tomatoes. As time goes on, no one buys the tomato and it begins to overripen and wither, losing its appeal. This is what happens to an overpriced home in the minds of buyers. 

New listings attract the most attention—that’s when buyer interest is highest. The longer your home is on the market, the less appealing it becomes. At a certain point, sellers are forced to lower the price. However, this lowered price won’t have the same impact as hitting the market correctly priced the first time. Once price drops begin, they can continue, which creates the risk of selling the home for less than what it is worth. 

Lastly, the longer your home is on the market, the more expenses you incur. Mortgage payments, utilities costs and seller’s fees will continue to pile up, making it harder to recover from these costs when your home does eventually sell. 


Post-sale complications
Let’s say you do find a buyer at the overpriced cost. During closing, the lender will order an appraisal of your home, and if the appraiser finds that the market value of the home is less than the selling price, they could potentially deny financing.

Talk to your Windermere agent about how to price your home correctly to avoid these pitfalls of overpricing. Knowing your home’s worth will set you up for success when it comes time to hit the market.