A Guide to Upgrading Your Bedroom

For many homeowners, their ideal bedroom is that of a minimalist sanctuary—a place where you can kick your shoes off, relax, and get some shut eye. For others, making their bedroom as cozy as possible is their idea of perfection. No matter what kind of bedroom you’re dreaming of, keep the following information in mind as you prepare to make your upgrades.

A Guide to Upgrading Your Bedroom

How much does it cost to remodel a bedroom?

The total cost to remodel a bedroom depends on the size of the room and the scope of the remodel. According to a recent nationwide report by Fixr, the national cost range to remodel a bedroom is between $14,000 and $40,000, with the national average cost being roughly $21,000.  While this might sound like a lot, it includes everything from hardwood floors and painted walls to new furniture and a custom closet.

Another factor that will dictate your budget is whether you plan on doing the remodel DIY or hiring a professional. Taking a DIY approach to your bedroom upgrades will save on labor costs and allows you to complete the project on your own schedule. However, if you get in over your head on a project and things go sideways, it can be costly to fix, and you may end up having to hire a pro to get things back on track.

Before you begin your remodel, create a list of tasks and all the sub-tasks involved to assess whether they are within your skill level to DIY. Determine whether the project requires a permit and check your local zoning regulations before making any additions or extensions to your bedroom.

Which bedroom projects are best for home value?

Adding a bedroom or converting a space into a bedroom can increase your home’s value. That’s because you increase the livable square footage while also making it more appealing to a wider variety of buyers. If your home has fewer bedrooms than other recently sold homes in your area, a bedroom addition may allow you to list at a more competitive price. Talk with your agent to get an idea of what types of upgrades buyers in your area are paying top-dollar for.

Simple Bedroom Upgrades

With costs for a small bedroom remodel averaging up to $20,000, a full-scale renovation may not be in the cards for every homeowner. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to rejuvenate your bedroom. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Upgrade your décor: Appealing to the senses will help transform your bedroom in a snap. Add texture by swapping out your bed spread, pillows, and blankets. Go for plush to make it feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud or try vintage elements like knit fabrics for a more traditional comfort. Add natural elements like wood and stone to create an earthy atmosphere. Essential oils and scented candles can bring some added relaxation into the space.
  • New hardware and lighting: A simple trip to the hardware store can change the look and feel of your bedroom. Switch out your door handles, drawer pulls, shelves, and lighting fixtures to upgrade your bedroom in the span of a few hours. Select pieces that reinforce the theme you’re going for. For an industrial vibe, select rustic metals and materials. For a minimalist look, choose sleek metals like gold and chrome.
  • Decorate with plants: Not only will decorating your bedroom will plants spruce up the space, but they also help to improve air quality. If you have vaulted ceilings, shop around for vertical plants and hanging gardens that can make the most of your empty wall space. If you consider yourself a beginner gardener, consider low maintenance plants like cacti and succulents.

 

For more information on upgrading your home, read our Guide to Remodeling Your Bathroom.

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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have purchased a home before, the same mistakes can rear their head at any point in the buying process. By working closely with your agent, you can identify these pitfalls ahead of time and adjust accordingly. Mistakes in the buying process can lead to higher costs, added stress, and even terminated contracts. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when buying a home.

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home

1. Not getting pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is a key component of the early stages of the buying process and will help to maximize your chances of getting your offer accepted. Getting pre-approved will give you a concrete idea of how much you can borrow, how much house you can afford, the estimated monthly costs of your mortgage and its corresponding interest rates. It also communicates to sellers that you are a serious buyer.

2. Not identifying your price range

Pursuing listings you can’t afford is a surefire way to start your home buying process off on the wrong foot. Buying a home that’s outside your budget will put added pressure on your finances and increases your chances of foreclosing, should your financial situation take a turn for the worse. Use the general rule that your house payment should never be more than 25-30% of your take-home pay, and as you prepare for talks with your lender be sure to account for all the expenses you will incur, including private mortgage insurance (PMI) if applicable.

3. Taking on new credit

Opening new lines of credit at any point in the home buying process will slow things down and can affect your chances of getting a home loan. Adding another credit card to your collection or taking out a loan will change your credit score, causing a ripple effect that can bring the buying process to a halt. Because new credit changes your debt-to-income ratio, lenders will likely want to review your mortgage approval and your risk of non-payment. This forces sellers to wait around for your application while competing buyers speed ahead of you in line.

4. Not purchasing adequate homeowner’s insurance

It’s understood that a home is a valuable asset that needs to be protected, but it is still all too common for homeowners to be under-insured. A homeowner’s insurance policy covers your home, your belongings, living expenses and injury or damage to others that occur on the property in the event of a disaster. Work closely with your insurance broker to make sure you have adequate coverage for the most common risks in your area like flood, earthquake, and more.

5. Not looking for other loans

With a little resourcefulness, you can tap into new sources of financial support that will help to ease the burden of making a home purchase. VA Loans can be a lifesaver for active service and veteran personnel, offering zero down payment and lower-than-average mortgage rates. Other government loan programs such as USDA and FHA loans can greatly aid homebuyers with favorable loan terms. Be sure to thoroughly review the qualifications of these loans before applying.

6. Misunderstanding the down payment

When it comes to down payments, it’s not twenty percent or bust. Granted, with a twenty percent down payment your lender won’t require you to purchase mortgage insurance; but even if you’re short, there are a number of alternatives to private mortgage insurance (PMI) available to you, such as Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance and a piggyback loans strategy. Work with your agent to identify trusted lenders in their network that can help you secure the right loan.

7. Not working with a buyer’s agent

A buyer’s agent will help you to identify which homes you can afford, work with you on formulating a competitive offer and preparing for negotiations with sellers and listing agents. Buyer’s agents will also handle the paperwork when it comes time to close the deal. A home purchase is an intricate transaction with many moving parts and having an experienced professional by your side who can navigate each step is invaluable. Typically, the buyer’s agent splits the commission of the sale with the listing agent, which is paid by the seller, so generally their services come at no additional cost to you.

8. Underestimating repair and remodeling costs

Regardless of whether you’re buying a fixer-upper or a home that needs a few simple upgrades, you can usually expect some repair and remodeling expenses once the home is yours. Before you start swinging hammers or tearing up drywall, take time to assess the scope of the projects and whether you can do them yourself or need a professional. Talk with your agent about which remodeling projects have the highest resale value for comparable homes in your area.

9. Buying a home without an inspection

Buying a home without having it inspected opens the buyer up to added risk. Without a home inspection, you forego the ability to negotiate repairs and concessions with the seller. Getting a home inspection is a small investment and alerts you of any potential home disasters that may be on the horizon. However, this mistake comes with an aside. In a seller’s market where a high number of buyers are competing for a limited number of available listings, waiving the inspection contingency is a common tactic for buyers looking to make their offer stand out. Work with your agent to figure out what’s best for you and your situation.

10. Forgetting about moving costs

It’s easy to get so focused on the purchase of the home that you forget about what it will cost to move there. Moving expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’ll be traveling across state lines or across the country. If you’re buying and selling a home at the same time, there’s also the question of where you’ll live in between closing on your current home and closing on your new one. If these costs aren’t accounted for, you can quickly be over budget before you set foot in your new home.

 

For more information on how to make the buying process smoother, read about how you can Increase Your Buying Power.

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Windermere Foundation Approaches $1.5 Million Raised in 2021

Windermere offices across the Western U.S. have remained committed to serving their communities in 2021, collectively raising nearly $1.5 million so far this year alone, pushing the foundation’s grand total raised since 1989 to nearly $45 million. After a successful Community Service Day in June and a first half of the year which saw over $1 million raised, Windermere offices have continued to give back this summer. Here are some recent highlights from across our network.

Windermere Utah

Windermere Utah has always been deeply rooted in its community, and 2021 has been no different. This year alone, they have hosted multiple fundraisers and supported several organizations to affect positive change in their community.

One of the greatest challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has put on schoolchildren is access to technology. After searching for a way to provide digital access to local schoolchildren, Windermere Utah came across the organization Spy Hop, based in Salt Lake City. Spy Hop is a digital media arts center that provides classes in film, music, audio, and design for students between the ages of nine and nineteen. They offer mentoring and host technology drives to provide computers for students in need through a program called the Technology Liberation Project. Windermere Utah donated $3,000 to support Spy Hop’s programs while sponsoring their technology drive in August.

The office also rallied together to support Lincoln Elementary School. As a Title I school, they cannot ask for supplies or funds, often leaving them underfunded compared to other schools in the area. Windermere Utah donated $1,000 for kids to purchase the supplies they need for the school year.

 

From Left to Right: Misty Medina, Laurann Turner, Lincoln Elementary Rep, Shawnee Cooper, Lincoln Elementary Rep, Michelle Adkins, Chelle Preslar, Kelly Silvestor, and Stephanie Vera

 

Windermere Evergreen – Evergreen, CO

Windermere Evergreen has close ties to the local Rotary Wildfire Ready program and given the prevalence of wildfires across the Western U.S. in recent years, the office was inspired to tap their Foundation resources to support local wildfire relief efforts. John Putt–managing broker at Windermere Evergreen—is a member of the Rotary Wildfire Ready leadership council. A former paramedic and firefighter, he is passionate about providing resources and education to mountain communities regarding wildfire preparedness. After trying to come up with ways to support the program, they settled on a classic method of bringing the community together—a good old tailgate party.  The office donated $1,000 to support the Rotary Wildfire Ready program, and the first annual Windermere Foundation Tailgate Party saw members of the community come together from all corners of town.

 

The Evergreen, Colorado Rotary Wildfire Ready firetruck.

The Evergreen, Colorado Rotary Wildfire Ready firetruck.

 

Windermere Spokane – Spokane, WA

After hosting a blood drive earlier this year, Windermere Spokane has continued to find ways they can provide for those in need in their community. In early September, they turned their attention toward Spokane’s youth. When they saw the Spokane branch of Volunteers of America announce that they were planning to move their Crosswalk Youth Shelter across town to a new facility, the office jumped at the opportunity to help. Windermere Spokane held a matching fundraiser that ultimately raised over $21,000 for the new shelter. But the office’s recent foundation efforts didn’t stop there.

In preparation for the new school year, the office held their Spokane Sock and Shoe Event to support local low-income and homeless grade school-aged kids with new pairs of shoes and socks. This year’s event provided new shoes and socks for 116 kids.

 

Two women with masks on take a selfie during a clothing drive for local schoolchildren.

Left to Right: Windermere agents Blythe Thimsen and Brenda McKinley

 

A woman in mask holds up pairs of socks during a clothing fundraiser for local schoolchildren.

Windermere agent Brenda McKinley

 

Kritsonis Lindor Team — Windermere Bellevue South – Bellevue, WA

Windermere agents John Kritsonis and Karl Lindor of Kritsonis Lindor have been strong supporters of the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank in years past, but the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that the IFCB needed their support more than ever. After food insecurity for children in their county jumped 54% in 2020, John and Karl knew they had to go all-in for their community. They doubled down on their fundraising campaign with a $25,000 match, ultimately raising $55,958. On August 20, their team spent the day volunteering at the food bank, putting together produce bags, and passing out groceries to families. All in all, they were able to provide groceries to over 120 families and over 350 kids. Their donations will support IFCB’s summer lunch program, which feeds roughly 300 children weekly during the summer.

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit windermerefoundation.com. To help support programs in your community, click the donate button below.

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How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

A fire breaking out in your home is a serious potential hazard. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to identify the early signs of a fire and to prepare for an emergency. The following list will help you and your household put together your fire safety plan.

How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

Fire safety

Having properly functioning smoke and CO2 detectors is crucial to your safety. Test your smoke and CO2 detectors frequently and swap out the batteries when necessary. It is recommended to have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.

Always keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen to combat flame outbursts from the stove or oven. It is best to have at least one fire extinguisher per floor for easy access. Keep in mind that fire extinguishers are used to control and extinguish small, contained fires. If a fire has spread throughout an entire room, or is beginning to engulf your home, know that fire extinguishers are no match for the blaze, and you should escape immediately.

Evacuation plan

A home fire can be very disorienting. During an emergency, it is critical that all members of your household know how to properly evacuate the home. Identify two ways to escape from each room in case one route is unsafe. Choose a meeting spot somewhere outside for everyone to meet a safe distance away from the fire. This can be across the street, down the block, at a neighbor’s house, or wherever makes most sense for you and your family. The most important thing is that you all have an agreed-upon rendezvous. Select an emergency contact whom you can reach out to if something goes wrong in the evacuation process or if a family member is missing.

Best practices

When escaping your home, crawl as low as possible to stay beneath the smoke. Test closed doors before using them to escape. If they are hot, that’s a sign that there are flames on the other side of the door and you should use an alternative escape strategy. Be careful that you don’t burn your hand when testing closed doors. Make sure everyone in your household knows the procedure for calling 9-1-1 and properly alerting the fire department. If you have pets at home, include them in your evacuation plans. If you are forced to decide between evacuating safely and trying to rescue a pet, know that firefighters are trained experts at saving animals from house fires. 

For more tips on how to plan for fire-related emergencies at home, read our blog for Wildfire Preparation and Evacuation Tips.

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Working with a Listing Agent

What is a Listing Agent?

Generally, a real estate transaction involves a listing agent representing the seller and a buyer’s agent representing the buyer. Listing agents will conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)—which uses recent housing market data to compare the seller’s home to other listings in their area—to accurately price the property. The agent will list the home, coordinate showings and open houses, and negotiate with buyers’ agents to find the best offer for their client. Once the transaction is complete, the listing agent and buyer’s agent will split the commission of the sale.

Hiring a listing agent removes the risks of selling your own home by placing the selling process in the hands of an experienced licensed professional. Once you’ve found the right agent, you can begin working together to form your selling strategy.

Advantages of Working with a Listing Agent

Accurately Pricing Your Home

Your listing agent will begin the selling process by finding the value of your home. There are various factors that influence home prices, including seasonality, market conditions, home features, and more. Agents have exclusive access to the data behind these trends, allowing them to conduct a thorough CMA to accurately price your home. Of all the costly mistakes in the selling process, an inaccurately priced home is perhaps the most consequential. An overpriced home will attract the wrong buyers, increase your home’s days on market, and could lead to serious post-sale complications, that, in some cases, could jeopardize the sale. An underpriced home leaves money on the table. With a listing agent’s CMA, you can rest assured that the price of your home is backed by current market data, which will set you and your agent up for successful negotiations.

Marketing Your Home

Listing agents are experienced professionals who possess a wealth of knowledge on how to market your home. Your agent will list your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), an online database to which they have exclusive access. Getting your home listed on the MLS will greatly increase its exposure to interested buyers. Your listing agent will coordinate showings and open houses, opening the door to conversations with buyers and their agents.

Your agent will also make recommendations and help coordinate all marketing efforts, like staging and photography. They’ll also be able to recommend what, if any, repairs need to be made before you go live. Their expertise will streamline the selling process, getting your house ready and on the market quickly.

Offers / Negotiations / Closing

The complexities of the critical stages in the selling process highlight the value of an agent’s expertise. A listing agent will work on your behalf to field and assess incoming offers, communicate with buyers and their agents during negotiations, and ultimately, see the deal through to closing.

Local market conditions can often dictate how your agent approaches offers and negotiations. In a seller’s market, there’s a good chance you will have multiple competing offers on the table, contingencies are often waived, and all-cash offers may arise. Trying to pin down the best offer in these competitive situations can be overwhelming, but listing agents specialize in understanding the terms of these kinds of offers to identify the one that best aligns with your goals. If you’re selling in a buyer’s market, the buyer will have the leverage. Your listing agent will work with the buyer’s agent to reach an agreement on the buyer’s contingencies and finalize the terms of purchase.

From list to closing, your listing agent is there to answer any questions you may have, allay your fears, and guide you toward a successful sale. When searching for an agent, keep in mind that their ability to connect with you on a human level is just as important as their professional qualities. Selling your home can be an emotional roller coaster, and you’ll want someone by your side who you can trust on the journey ahead. If you would like some help connecting with an agent, get started here:

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5 Timeless Tile Designs

The history of home design is full of trends that have come and gone. A style may suddenly skyrocket in popularity, capturing the hearts of homeowners and designers everywhere, only to fade away just as quickly. Taking this into account, homeowners will often look to the pillars of home design that have stood the test of time when preparing to remodel or upgrade their home. It’s these elements of timeless home design that ensure the spaces in your home won’t go out of style, and when it comes time to sell, won’t hurt its resale value.

5 Timeless Tile Designs

White Subway Tile

Subway tile is ubiquitous—and for good reason. Clean, simple, and elegant, these tiles make it the top backsplash choice for many kitchen renovations and bathroom remodels. The white surface brightens the space, making it feel clean and organized. Resilient and easy to clean, subway tile may be just what the designer ordered for your next home project.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Penny Tile

Penny tile has stayed relevant through the years, and not just for aesthetic reasons. Though penny tile is visually appealing, its many grout joints make it ideal material for slick and slippery surfaces such as the shower, bathtub, or bathroom floor. This practical function has kept penny tile at the forefront of homeowners and professional remodelers alike for decades. With many color combinations from black and white for a retro look to colorful mosaics for the more eclectic homeowners, there’s an option for everyone with penny tile. While it’s commonly used in bathrooms, penny tile is also great near fireplaces and kitchen backsplashes.

 

A shower floor of neutral-colored penny tile.

Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: Berkay Demirkan

 

Herringbone Tile

Known for its distinctive angular arrangement, herringbone has been a fixture of interior design for decades. Herringbone tile brings flair and texture to a space, and its repetitive pattern will help to liven up any room without pulling away from other points of interest. It is a popular choice as a backsplash on bathroom walls, behind vanities, or in shower stalls. For those seeking the cleanliness of subway tile but prefer more dramatic lines, herringbone may be the perfect choice for you.

 

A bathroom wall decorated with herringbone tile behind the vanity and mirror.

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Checkerboard Tile

Checkerboard is one of those rare designs that has the ability to continually reinvent itself. It carries a vintage charm but is also often found in aspects of modern design. It’s simultaneously formal and fun. Out of all the timeless tile designs, checkerboard is perhaps the most flexible. The design can make a great impact on the floors in a space as small as a bathroom yet is bold enough to make a statement in a larger surface area like a foyer. 

 

A hallway in a house with a checkerboard floor and a desk under the stairs.

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Hexagon Tile

Though there is a certain geometry to all the previously mentioned designs, hexagonal (or honeycomb) tile’s unique shape gives it its trademark pattern. There are several variants of hexagonal tile, including stretched hex and picket tile, that can deliver that timeless feel you’re looking for while breaking up the monotony of rectangular lines in your home. Hexagonal patterns are bold and eye-catching, yet their patterns can provide a sense of calm and orderliness. Whether you decide to use it as a backsplash, shower tile, or floor tile, Hexagon tiles will add intrigue to the space.

 

A bathroom with hexagon tile as the backsplash and shower floor.

Image source: Getty Images

 

The right tile may be just the ingredient you need to tie your home together. It can make a surprising difference in your next remodel, so it’s worth your time to explore the many different options available before making your decision. For more on timeless home design, find out which 7 Vintage Design Elements are still popular today.

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Making an All-Cash Offer on a House

The more competitive the housing market, the greater the lengths buyers will go to to make themselves stand out amongst the competition. Making an all-cash offer is one such way a buyer can differentiate themselves. In a seller’s market, listings commonly receive multiple offers, often over their original asking price. This will typically lead to bidding wars between buyers, and all-cash offers will often enter the fold. Keep the following information in mind if you’re thinking about making an all-cash offer on a house.

Making an All-Cash Offer on a House

What is an all-cash offer?

When a buyer makes an all-cash offer, it means they have the funds available to purchase the house in a liquid account and won’t need to secure a home loan. Once the buyer has shown they have enough cash to make the purchase, they will put down an earnest money deposit. The remaining amount they owe will typically be wire transferred at a later date.

Whereas financed offers are tied to an approval process with a lender, all-cash offers are not because the buyer has already proven they have the amount required to purchase the property on-hand. This can create a less risky and more streamlined selling process, which sellers may view as favorable.

How do I make an all-cash offer on a house?

First, there’s the question of how to organize the funds you’ll use to make your all-cash offer. Though it is not required, lumping your cash together into one account may help to simplify the offer process. This way, when it’s time to show the seller a bank statement proving you have the necessary funds for the purchase, you won’t have to spend additional time tracking down money from multiple accounts.

Once you’ve found the house you’d like to purchase, work closely with your agent to formulate an offer. Knowing that you’re prepared to make an all-cash offer bodes well for negotiations. Your agent may use the guaranteed money and quick closing times as leverage for driving down the price of the offer. You’ll also be able to handpick your contingencies, which can further sweeten the deal for the seller. This may come in handy in a highly competitive market, where simply making an all-cash offer may not be enough to win out. After the offer has been agreed upon and signed by both parties, it’s on to escrow and closing. All-cash offers often lead to quick sales with short closing times. So, it may only be a matter of days before you have the deed to your new home in hand.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

What are the pros and cons of all-cash offers?

Pros: All-cash offers essentially cut out the middleman from the buying process, allowing you to purchase a home without intervention from a lender. You’ll also save on the closing costs that would have stemmed from securing a loan. The closing process will be shorter, which can be helpful for both buyers and sellers who are looking to move quickly. Additionally, an all-cash offer may be the antidote for navigating the challenges of a highly competitive market by increasing your buying power and giving your agent leverage when approaching negotiations.

Cons: The greatest drawback with making an all-cash offer is self-explanatory—you will have less cash available to you once the purchase goes through. This means you’ll be cutting into your reserves for the myriad of expenses that come with homeownership. Before proceeding with an all-cash offer, make sure you’ve properly budgeted for closing costs, taxes, repairs, and any remodeling projects you have in mind.

 

Curious about how you can stay competitive without an all-cash offer? The first step is to get pre-approved:

The Importance of Pre-Approval.

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