Follow Our Sellers Checklist To Stay Safe While Selling Your Home

 

Staying organized while uprooting your life and moving from one home to another can feel impossible. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers. However, one thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions. Like so many things in life, they can feel more manageable once written down, so we made this handy checklist.

 

  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting misplaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.  
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

 

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions: 

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lockboxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.

Caring for our Communities through the Windermere Foundation

 

Windermere offices have been busy this year raising money for the Windermere Foundation which provides funding to support low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Last quarter alone, the Windermere Foundation collected over $308,236 in donations, bringing our total to $38,314,364 raised since 1989 when the Windermere Foundation first started.

 

Each Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account that they use to make donations to organizations in their local communities. These accounts are funded by donations from owners, agents, staff, and the community, and from donations through Windermere agent commissions. The Windermere Hillsboro office in Oregon, and Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty in Idaho, are two great examples of how our offices go above and beyond to support their local communities.

 

Windermere Hillsboro

Earlier this year, the Windermere Hillsboro office donated $1,500 to the Hillsboro School District’s McKinney-Vento program, a program which ensures that students who face housing instability and hardship have access to public education, despite the lack of a fixed living environment or a supervising parent or guardian. There are 20,000 students in the district and more than 400 of those students face housing instability. Every school district in Oregon has at least one designated McKinney-Vento Liaison. The Hillsboro School District has a team of three that works tirelessly to support each student and their families with rental and utilities assistance. If there is housing stability at home, then those students are more likely to stay in school.

 

The Windermere Hillsboro office also made a $5,000 donation to Community Action, whose mission is to lead the way to eliminate conditions of poverty and create opportunities for people and communities to thrive. The donation will go towards programs that help approximately 26,000 individuals and families: Energy Assistance, Early Childhood Development, Family Development, and Housing Stability.

 

Windermere/Coeur d’Alene Realty

In March, Windermere/Coeur d’Alene Realty, which has offices in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, and Hayden, was recognized as the Best Real Estate Office by The Business Journal of North Idaho in their “Best of 2019” awards. This is the ninth year-in-a-row that they have received this honor. The brokerage was also named Idaho’s Brightest Star for their philanthropy and community involvement. Through the Windermere Foundation, they have given back nearly one million dollars to local charities and humanitarian agencies in Kootenai County, and more than 11,000 warm winter boots to local children in need.

 

Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. This year we celebrate the Windermere Foundation’s 30th anniversary with a renewed year-long focus on giving back, doing more, and providing service to the communities that have made us who we are.

 

Our goal for 2019 is to raise over $40 million in total donations. If you’d like to help us reach this goal, or learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.

 

 

Blinds or Curtains? Or Both? Top Things to Consider When Choosing Your Window Style

Some rooms just need blinds, other rooms just need curtains, and then some rooms look best with both. But how do you decide which rooms need what? There are a number of factors to consider when you’re picking window treatments for rooms in your house, from price to insulation to style to orientation within the room.

 

Price

Adding a combination of blinds and curtains on your windows may seem like the best idea for almost any room in your home. But that can get pricey. Basically, you’re doubling up the cost of the treatments for each window. So when you’re deciding on a budget for your treatments, be methodical. Guest bedrooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or any uncommon, informal areas in your home are good candidates for either blinds or curtains, not both—you likely don’t spend much time in these spaces, they don’t need to be the most styled part of your home and/or they don’t require a high level of privacy. Save the money on these areas and choose a treatment that gets the job done. On the other hand, living areas, formal dining rooms, and master bedrooms are places where a combination of both can add ultimate style, privacy, and temperature comfort, and it could be worth the money to invest in these high-impact areas.

 

Insulation

Sunlight can be a blessing and a curse for your home. It can fill living areas with wonderful natural light. It can liven up dining areas or kitchens. But, harsh sunlight can also heat up a room late in the afternoon, it can fade furniture, or it can wake you up too early on the weekends. When it comes to blocking out the sun, faux wood blinds and heavier curtains should be considered. Wood blinds or faux wood blinds block out a great deal of sun, but not all of it. If you want complete darkness to grab a few more winks on weekends, add some curtains over the binds to double up the sun defense. Consider the positioning of the windows throughout the house and protect the windows and rooms that bear the brunt of the sun, while making it easy for natural light to shine through when you want it.

When it comes to curtains and shades, there are a number of sun-blocking options. Cellular shades filter out the sunlight while still letting enough natural light into the room. Roman shades, sheer shades, and curtain fabrics all have different thicknesses, which block out different levels of UV rays and sunlight. If your living room faces west, you will certainly want some thicker shades to block out that evening sunshine and keep the temperature in the room manageable.

 

Style

Just about any style under the sun is available when it comes to choosing window treatments. Gone are the days when curtains were the only way to add style, warmth, and luxury to a room. Many options in shades and blinds can achieve the same effect.

Whichever you choose, you want the window treatments to accent the furniture in your room, not vice versa. For example, if your furniture is heavily patterned, choosing solid colors for blinds and curtains is the way to go. If your furniture is solid, light patterns and designs could accentuate certain colors or themes in the room. Keep theme and tone in mind: You wouldn’t choose earthy bamboo shades for a room with a sleek, industrial vibe, or beachy plantation shutters for a room with a modern artsy feel.

Choosing the proper window treatments for each room in your home comes down to a handful of factors. Don’t break the bank or overspend where you don’t need it, make sure you know where the sun is most intrusive in what rooms, and go with a style that fits the vibe of your home. Blinds and curtains can complete the look of a room, and make it feel like home.

To Sell or to Rent? The Perks and Pitfalls of Being a Landlord

 

Electing a full sale or a property management situation is a life-changing decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In choosing whether or not becoming a landlord is right for you, there are a number of factors to consider, but primarily they fall into the following three categories: financial analysis, risk, and goals.

 

The financial analysis is probably the easiest of the three to perform.  You will need to assess if you can afford to rent your house. If you consider the likely rental rate, vacancy rate, maintenance, advertising, and management costs, you can arrive at a budget. It is important to both be detailed in your projections and to have enough reserves to cover cash-flow needs if you’re wrong. The vacancy rate will be determined by the price at which you market the property.  Price too high and you’re liable to be left vacant. Should you have applicants, they’ll often be a group that for some reason couldn’t compete for more competitively priced homes. Price too low and you don’t achieve the revenue you should. If you want to try for the higher end of an expected range, understand that the cost may be a vacant month. Any way you slice it, it’s difficult to make up for a vacant month.

 

Consider the other costs renting out your property could accrue. If you have a landscaped or large yard, you will likely need to hire a yard crew to manage the grounds. Other costs could increase when you rent your home, such as homeowner’s insurance and taxes on your property. Depending on tenant turn-over, you may need to paint and deal with maintenance issues more regularly. Renting your home is a decision you need to make with all the financial information in front of you.

 

If your analysis points to some negative cash-flow, that doesn’t necessarily mean renting is the wrong option. That answer needs to be weighed against the pros and cons of alternatives. For instance, how does that compare to marketing the property at the price that would actually sell? Moreover, you’ll need to perform additional economic guesswork about what the future holds in terms of appreciation, inflation, etc. to arrive at an expectation of how long the cash drain would exist.

 

Risk is a bit harder to assess. It’s crucial to understand that if you decide to lease out a home, you are going into business, and every business venture has risks. One of the most obvious ways of mitigating the risk is to hire a management company.  By hiring professionals, you decrease your risk and time spent managing the property (and tenants) yourself.  However, this increases the cost. As you reduce your risk of litigation, you increase your risk of negative cash-flow, and vice versa… it’s a balancing act, and the risk cannot be eliminated; just managed and minimized.

 

 

In considering goals, what do you hope to achieve by renting your property? Are you planning on moving back to your home after a period of time? Will your property investment be a part of your long-term financial planning? Are you relocating or just hoping to wait to sell? These are all great reasons to consider renting your home.

Keep in mind that renting your family home can be emotional. Many homeowners love the unique feel of their homes. It is where their children were raised, and they care more about preserving that feel than maximizing revenue. That’s ok, but it needs to be acknowledged and considered when establishing a correct price and preparing a cash flow analysis. Some owners are so attached to their homes that it may be better for them to “tear off the band-aid quickly” and sell. The alternative of slowly watching over the years as the property becomes an investment instead of a home to them may prove to be more painful than any financial benefit can offset.

 

Before reaching a conclusion, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the landlord-tenant-law specific to your state (and in some cases, separate relevant ordinances in the city and/or county that your property lies within) and to do some market research (i.e. tour other available similar rentals to see if your financial assumptions are in line with the reality of the competition across the street). If you are overwhelmed by this process, or will be living out of the region, seek counsel with a property management professional.  Gaining experience the hard way can be costly. With proper preparation, however, the rewards will be worth it.

Beyond Alexa – Other Smart Appliances You Can Use In Your Home

The nation’s largest home-building company, Lennar, now integrates Amazon’s “Alexa” smart speaker system as a function in new homes they construct. In the United States alone there are reportedly at least 39 million privately owned smart speakers, and the growth seems likely to only continue. With an eye to the future, we decided to shine a light on a few other “smart” products that can help enhance your home.

Smart Doorbells

  • While the iconic heavy door-knocker of 19thcentury Victorian may hold its appeal, high-tech doorbells are an increasingly popular option.
  • The Amazon-owned Ring Doorbell is the pace-setter for this rapidly growing industry, allowing for remote monitoring of your home via video, two-way talking functionality, and WiFi-connectivity to allow homeowners to keep tabs on their property no matter how far they roam.
  • If you’d like to go elsewhere, the market is flush with alternate options. SkyBell’s ringer allows for free cloud storage of video, while the Zmodo Greet Smart model allows for easy installation using your previous doorbell’s hardware, and comes at a price over $100 under most of the notable options.

Smart Refrigerators

  • Much has been said of the lamentations regarding the loss in popularity of the family dinner around the table. If your family is drawn to their phones when it’s time to get meals going, a smart refrigerator may be the trick to centering things around the kitchen and dining room again.
  • The brands may be familiar but the appliances are all-new. GE, Kenmore, Samsung, and Whirlpool are just a few household names involved in the exciting world of smart appliances.
  • The options are wide-ranging in functionality – from Alexa-connected Kenmore smart fridges to Samsung’s full home command center, you can control temperatures in the fridge and in your home, play music and videos, and even pull up recipes on-screen to help your tech-savvy family follow along step-by-step.

Smart Energy Monitors

  • Most people like doing things that are energy-efficient, but when it’s financially challenging it’s tough to make that choice. The best products, then, are those that check both boxes.
  • Energy monitors like those from Sense, CURB, and Neurio offer the ability to connect into your appliances and circuit board, monitoring energy usage from your smartphone.
  • How often are you likely to check your appliances unless they suddenly break down? With these monitors, not only can you maintain appropriate energy usage, you can identify issues before they become disasters.

Building Character – Balancing a Home’s Personality and Amenities

 

It’s sometimes said that the limitations of a house are what help make it a home. For many, however, it is a point of pride to accept only the finest in their new residence. How can you find the balance between cultivating a lived-in home with personality and quirks versus a house with cutting-edge amenities that improve quality of life? To get to the bottom of that, we gathered a list of the six keys to consider when selecting and developing the home of your dreams:

The neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

Design and layout

If you like VictorianCraftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost.  But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature trees and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-car garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing your decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.

Childproofing: Protect Your Family and Your Home from Potential Hazards

 

When you think of your home, it likely conjures up feelings of safety, shelter, and comfort. However, accidental injuries in the home are one of the leading causes of harm to children 14 and younger. By taking certain precautions, many of these accidents can be prevented.

While supervision is the best way to keep your children safe at home, you can’t watch them every second. Childproofing, to whatever degree you are comfortable, will go a long way toward keeping your littlest loved ones safe and healthy at home.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Many accidents happen with or around water.

If you have children at home, it’s advisable to adjust your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding. Furthermore, you should never leave a small child unattended in a bath tub, even for a few seconds. And be sure to safely secure doors that lead to swimming pools and hot tubs, including pet doors. When cooking or boiling water, turn pot handles in, or better yet use the back burners, to prevent little hands from pulling them off the stove.

Household chemicals can be very harmful to children.

It’s important not to keep poisonous materials under the sink, even if you have a cabinet guard in place. Keep dangerous chemicals up high and in a room that isn’t accessible to your little ones. Seemingly innocuous medicines can also be dangerous. Make sure your medicine cabinet is out of sight, mind, and reach.

Use safety latches and gates.

It’s advisable that you use safety latches on drawers, cabinets, toilets, and windows, as well as place covers on all electrical outlets. Gate off stairways and entrances to rooms, such as garages, that contain dangerous or fragile objects.

Secure furniture and other objects.

Heavy furniture, electronics, and lamps must be secured to prevent a child from pulling them over. Bookshelves and entertainment centers often come with devices that attach them to walls so that a climbing child won’t topple the furniture. The end-caps on door stoppers can be a choking hazard, so it’s advisable to remove them. Place plastic bumpers on sharp corners or edges of coffee tables, entertainment centers, and other furniture to prevent cuts and bruises.

Install a carbon monoxide detector.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke alarms. Be sure to test both devices regularly and replace batteries as needed. The American Red Cross advises families to learn first aid and CPR, and to devise an emergency evacuation plan for fires and earthquakes.

Emergency contact info.

Last, but not least, in case an emergency does happen, always keep numbers for your child’s doctor, your work and cell, and other emergency contact info in an easily found place, preferably near the phone.

Accidents can and will happen, but by following a few small steps you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your family from harm in your home.