What to Consider When Adding to Your Home

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When dissatisfaction with your current home strikes, it can be exciting to launch into a plan for a new addition. A new living room, bedroom, or more can add value to your home while improving your quality of life. 

On the other hand, even a modest addition can turn into a major construction project, with architects and contractors to manage, construction workers traipsing through your home, hammers pounding, and sawdust everywhere. And although new additions can be a very good investment, the cost-per-square-foot is typically more than building a new home, and much more than buying a larger existing home.

 

Define your needs

To determine if an addition makes sense for your situation, start by defining exactly what it is you want and need. By focusing on core needs, you won’t get carried away with a wish list that can push the project out of reach financially.

If it’s a matter of needing more space, be specific. For example, instead of just jotting down “more kitchen space,” figure out just how much more space is going to make the difference, e.g., “150 square feet of floor space and six additional feet of counter space.”

If the addition will be for aging parents, consult with their doctors or an age-in-place expert to define exactly what they’ll require for living conditions, both now and over the next five to ten years.

 

Types of additions

Bump-out addition

“Bumping out” one or more walls to make a first-floor room slightly larger is something most homeowners think about at one time or another. However, when you consider the work required, and the limited amount of space created, it often figures to be one of your most expensive approaches.

 

First-floor addition

Adding a whole new room (or rooms) to the first floor of your home is one of the most common ways to add a family room, apartment or sunroom. But this approach can also take away yard space.

 

Dormer addition

For homes with steep rooflines, adding an upper floor dormer may be all that’s needed to transform an awkward space with limited headroom. The cost is affordable and, when done well, a dormer can also improve the curb appeal of your house.

 

Second-story addition

For homes without an upper floor, adding a second story can double the size of the house without reducing surrounding yard space.

 

Garage addition

Building above the garage is ideal for a space that requires more privacy, such as a rentable apartment, a teen’s bedroom, guest bedroom, guest quarters, or a family bonus room.

 

Permits required

You’ll need a building permit to construct an addition, which will require professional blueprints. Your local building department will not only want to make sure that the addition adheres to the latest building codes, but also ensure it isn’t too tall for the neighborhood or positioned too close to the property line. Some building departments will also want to ask your neighbors for their input before giving you the go-ahead.

 

Requirements for a legal apartment

While the idea of having a renter that provides an additional stream of revenue may be enticing, the realities of building and renting a legal add-on apartment can be sobering. Among the things you’ll need to consider:

Special permitting

Some communities have regulations against “mother-in-law” units so they have zone-approval requirements.

 

Separate utilities

In many cities, you can’t charge a tenant for heat, electricity, and water unless utilities are separated from the rest of the house (and separately controlled by the tenant).

 

ADU Requirements

When building an “accessory dwelling unit” (the formal name for a second dwelling located on a property where a primary residence already exists), building codes often contain special requirements regarding emergency exits, windows, ceiling height, off-street parking spaces, the location of main entrances, the number of bedrooms, and more.

 

In addition, renters have special rights while landlords have added responsibilities. You’ll need to learn those rights and responsibilities and be prepared to adhere to them.

 

Average costs

The cost to construct an addition depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the quality of materials used, the laborers doing the work, the type of addition and its size, the age of your house and its current condition. For ballpark purposes, however, you can figure on spending about $200 per square foot if your home is in a more expensive real estate area or about $100 per foot in a lower-priced market.

You might be wondering how much of that money your efforts might return if you were to sell the home a couple of years later? The answer to that question depends on a number of variables, but the average “recoup” rate for a family room addition is typically more than 80 percent.

 

The bottom line

While you should certainly research the existing-home marketplace before hiring an architect to map out the plans, building an addition onto your current home can be a great way to expand your living quarters, customize your home, and remain in the same neighborhood.

Staying Safe When Selling Your Home

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Staying organized while uprooting your life and moving from one home to another can feel impossible. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and tidy for showings to prospective buyers, but your personal safety is an important consideration as well. 

When selling your home,  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.

 

Prepare your home:

  • 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 that your windows and doors are secure 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 always want to have an agent present to show your home.

 

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 so you are both on the same page about phone screening, and how to qualify buyers before showings, as well as personal safety tactics during showings and open houses.
  • Lockboxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes track who has had access to your home.
  • 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.

Vacation Home or Income-Producing Investment

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Whether you’re a skier who loves the mountain slopes of Colorado, a lover of the beaches of Southern California, or a potential retiree seeking to escape the snow-laden Northeast for the wide-open, sunny lands of Arizona, there are homes available to meet a wide range of budgets. The biggest decision a potential second homeowner must make is whether they are going to solely own their vacation home or turn it into a vacation rental. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to both options:

 

Investing in vacation rentals

  • Pros:
    • A good vacation rental property generally provides a healthy rental revenue which could potentially cover mortgage payments while also generating healthy additional profit.
    • Using an online short-term rental service like Airbnb makes it convenient to manage your rental property. Their website interface makes pricing, marketing, and communication with potential guests quite straightforward and easy. Airbnb will also oversee the billing process for you.
    • You may qualify for federal tax breaks and deductions related to your investment property. Everything from professional fees or commissions – including property management services- to cleaning and maintenance are potential tax write-offs.
  • Cons:
    • Vacation rentals can be costly to manage, both in terms of time and money. These properties may require seasonal upkeep and special maintenance considerations. You may even incur costs to maintain or monitor the property even when it’s not actively being utilized.
    • Vacation rental properties are particularly sensitive to seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns, which could leave you financially exposed if you suffer a lack of booking revenue.
    • Many states and cities are cracking down on short-term rental services. In California, for example, the fight has been primarily local, reaching a fever pitch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Increasingly state and local municipalities are seeking to reign in short-term vacation rentals, which could put a damper on potential revenue from these properties.
    • You may experience higher renovation and repair costs on a short-term rental. Most travelers expect the latest appliances and furnishings, so you will have to update every few years. Unfortunately, short-term renters are less likely to report any necessary repairs and guests are far less likely to treat the property with respect since there’s no sense of ownership or obligation.

 

Owning a vacation home

  • Pros:
    • Long-term profits: While assets fluctuate in value in the short term, vacation properties are more likely to retain their value and appreciate because they are located in popular areas with a geographically limited supply.
    • Familiarity: Returning to the same place time and after time can be comforting as you become familiar and comfortable with the location. It allows you the freedom to be yourself and the opportunity to expand long-term friendships with residents.
    • Convenience: The ability to conveniently store items that are used exclusively at the second home simplifies travel and packing.
    • Retirement head starts: Though we may love where we work and live, every place has its drawbacks. A common goal of retirement is to have a place to retreat for the times of the year we dislike the most at our main residence. Locating and buying a second home prior to retirement enables you to experience the benefits of a refuge before actual retirement, a time to correct and amend your plans if the reality is different than the dream.
  • Cons:
    • Initial purchase costs: Most people have higher expectations for a property that they intend to own, rather than to rent. These expectations can translate into high prices.
    • Home maintenance: As the homeowner, you are responsible for all home maintenance work.
    • Travel time: A second home will be located hours from your primary residence, requiring either long auto trips or airline flights.
    • Inflexibility: If you are paying a significant amount of money each month for a second home, you may feel that you need to constantly visit the property to justify your investment.

Incorporate Pantone’s Color of 2020 into Your Home

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Classic Blue has officially been anointed Pantone’s 2020 “Color of the Year”.  Pantone says it picked this color because of its ability to instill calm, confidence, and connection as we cross the threshold into a new decade. A dependable color, Classic Blue is timeless, and enduring, making it a great addition to just about any room in your home.

Here are some ways to add this stunning shade of blue to your home:

 

Furniture

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

Add a splash of color to any room with Classic Blue furniture, such as these dining room chairs, which express a sense of tradition and elegance, as well as unexpected boldness.   

 

Tile Work

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

Geometric patterns are all the rage this year, so why not liven up your kitchen backsplash with tiles that incorporate the color of the year? Here’s an example that achieves this through bold, colorful design that doubles as a piece of art.

 

Cabinets

Image Source: Davonport Kitchen Designers and Remodelers. 

If geometric tile isn’t your thing, the are other ways to bring your kitchen to life with this stunning shade of blue. If you’re not in a position to purchase all new cabinets, simply paint your current cabinets for a more affordable update.

 

Walls

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Whether it’s built-ins, panels, or an accent wall, Classic Blue can make your furniture and décor pop. Consider this color when you paint your living room or bedroom as a way to encourage calm and confidence in your favorite spaces.

Windermere Foundation Reaches $40 Million Donation Milestone

 

As we head into a new decade, the Windermere Foundation reached a milestone in 2019 by raising nearly $3 million, bringing the grand total to over $40 million in donations raised since 1989.

 

Twenty-five percent of the funds raised in 2019 were donated by agents from their commissions. The rest was raised through office fundraisers, additional giving by owners, agents, and staff, and public donations. These dollars stay local, as each Windermere Real Estate office has their own Foundation funds, supporting low-income and homeless families in the communities where offices do business.

 

One office that celebrated a milestone of its own this past year is the Windermere office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Coeur d’Alene office became a part of the Windermere network in 1994. In 1996, the office hosted its first annual “Boots and Socks for Kids” event by purchasing and donating 47 pairs of boots and socks to Coeur d’Alene Children Village and St. Vincent DePaul. Since then, the office has donated a total of 12,546 pairs of boots and socks to children in the 40 area schools and local agencies that provide services to low-income or homeless families.

 

In 2019, Windermere Coeur d’Alene reached a milestone of $1 million total donated to support local non-profits. Organizations that have received donations include CAP Food Bank, Family Promise, CASA, Shared Harvest, St. Vincent DePaul North Idaho, Union Gospel Mission, and United Way of North Idaho, to name just a few. Safe Passage and The Children’s Village of Coeur d’Alene are two non-profits that receive support from the office annually.

 

Last year also marked the fourth year of Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, in which Windermere committed to donating $100 for every Seahawks home game defensive tackle. This year Windermere partnered with Mary’s Place, a non-profit that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services to support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. Thanks to the Seahawks, we raised $30,000 this season for Mary’s Place, bringing our grand total to $128,200 raised through our #TackleHomelessness campaign.

 

We are proud of the fundraising efforts made by the Windermere team and are grateful to all who have supported the Windermere Foundation over the years. Because of that support and generosity, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities over the past 30 years. And we look forward to supporting even more families in 2020. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit https://windermerefoundation.com/.

Is it time to downsize?

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Choosing less space often has to do with a desire to live a life that’s simpler. Whether you’re retiring, want an eco-friendly, low-maintenance lifestyle or your children have moved away, downsizing might be the best option for you. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider before making the move and questions to begin asking yourself now.  

 

Advantages

  • Increased cash flow.
    • Spend less on your mortgage payment and you are likely to have more money leftover for other needs or desires.
  • More time.
    • Cut down on time spent on household chores such as cleaning and vacuuming which will leave you with more hours in the day to do something more enjoyable.
  • Lower utility bills.
    • Costs less to heat and air condition a small home.
    • Less square footage decreases the amount of energy expended.
    • Reducing energy is better for the environment and it helps keep your home green.
  • Reduced consumption.
    • You would likely buy less since you won’t necessarily have the room for it.
  • Minimized stress.
    • Homeowners who have successfully downsized often feel happier because they are no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.
    • Less responsibility, less housework to do, increased cash flow and flexibility equals reduced stress.

 

Disadvantages

  • Fewer belongings.
    • Moving into a smaller space would mean you would need to give away or donate furniture, books, kitchen supplies, etc.
  • No room for guests.
    • Hosting holiday dinners might be out of the question for a smaller home.
  • Space restrictions.
    • Less space means you could feel cramped.
  • Lifestyle changes.
    • For long-term homeowners, downsizing means changing a lifestyle.

 

What to consider before downsizing

These questions are important to ask yourself because for some people, downsizing may not be the best option for them. 

  1. Does size matter to me?
    1. Think about how much your identity is wrapped in your house.
    2. Is it important for you to have a guest room or a second bathroom?
  2. Will I miss some important things about a more spacious home?
    1. Will moving into a smaller home feel like a step backward?
  3. How will other life events affect my living in a smaller home?
    1. Consider possible scenarios you may not expect such as adult children moving back home or if you plan to add a child. 

 

The Cost to You

  1. How much will it cost to replace the furniture?
    1. When you move into a smaller home this means you might have to downsize your furniture to make room.
  2. How much will it cost to get rid of the stuff I don’t need or won’t fit?
    1. It’s important to have a plan for how you’re going to sell or give away the things you don’t need.
    2. Consider things like family heirlooms. What are you going to do with all your antiques or treasures that your smaller home may not be able to accommodate?
  3. How much will I get when I sell my current home, and will it help cover the cost of buying my new home?

 

If you know downsizing is the right option for you, you’re probably asking yourself, “Should I sell first and then buy or buy first and then sell?”. When you’re ready to discuss your options, talk to an experienced Real Estate Agent. 

Refresh Your Bathroom into a Spa

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With some creative thinking and a few do-it-yourself projects, you too can transform an everyday bathroom into a spa-like experience:

 

High-end shower head 

There are a plethora of shower head options available today that can make even a simple shower space feel like a luxuriating experience.

 

Heated towel rack 

Once out of the tub/shower, heated towels help you comfortably maintain your body temperature while the pampering continues.

 

Dimmable lights

Adjust the bathroom lights to match your moods and activities: brighter for primping, and dimmed to create a calming effect.

 

Less clutter 

Not everything that’s meant for the bathroom needs to be stored in the bathroom. Look for things that can be moved elsewhere to make the space feel a bit bigger and more organized.

 

Calming scents 

Essential oils, luxury soaps, and scented candles are an easy way to create an aromatic atmosphere of luxuriousness.

 

Good tidings we bring, with turkeys and things!

Agents from the Windermere Moses Lake office delivering 100 turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank.

 

 

Free turkey dinners and programs for women in need. Backpacks for children with food for the weekend. Scholarships for college so youth can realize their dreams. These are a few of our favorite things!

 

‘Tis the season of giving and Windermere offices across the Western U.S. are out donating to local non-profits and bringing good tidings and cheer to those who need a little extra help during the holidays. This is all made possible through the Windermere Foundation which is funded by donations from our agents, owners, and staff, as well as office fundraisers. Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund that can be used to support non-profits in their communities. Below are just a few examples of how our offices are giving back to local non-profits during the holidays and throughout the year.

 

Windermere Moses Lake

For the past five years, the Windermere office in Moses Lake, Washington has donated 100 Thanksgiving turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank. Since 2015, the office has supported the food bank and other local assistance programs with donations totaling over $13,000. Representatives from the Windermere office were on hand to help deliver the turkeys to the food bank this year, which provided 1,278 families with Thanksgiving meals.

 

Windermere Homes and Estates

The Windermere Homes and Estate group of offices in Southern California (San Diego-Downtown, Scripps Ranch, South Carlsbad-Aviara, Temecula, and The Plaza at Aviara/South Carlsbad) pooled their Windermere Foundation funds together to make a $15,000 donation to support Feeding San Diego’s backpack program.

 

Holiday and summer breaks are especially hard on families who are reliant on school meal programs. This program aims to meet the nutritional needs of food insecure children over weekends and school holidays. Each child receives an easy-to-carry bag filled with nutritious staple items and fresh produce when leaving school on Thursday or Friday afternoons. Feeding San Diego works closely with 150 partner agencies to provide food and resources to individuals and families across San Diego. According to research by Feeding America, 26 percent of those served by partner agencies are under the age of 18 and 10 percent are under 5.

 

Photo courtesy of Feeding San Diego

 

Windermere Missoula

The Windermere office in Missoula, Montana donated $1,550 to Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development, Inc. (WORD). Its mission is to strengthen our community by creating opportunities that support and inspire women. Its programs offer support, education, and training to empower women and their families to move from a place of need to a place of independence, participation and choice.

 

Windermere Headquarters

The team at Windermere’s head office in Seattle donated $2,500 to the Marcus Trufant Family Foundation (MTFF) to support its annual holiday fundraising event. MTFF awards college scholarships to under-represented students in the greater Seattle area and partnering communities. The Foundation also provides programs of fundamental support needed to achieve life goals. Last year, MTFF awarded over 300 scholarships to youth to help them achieve their dreams of going to college.

 

Thanks to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation we have been able to make a significant difference in the lives of many families in communities throughout the Western U.S. And this year, we have also proudly reached our goal of raising over $40 million in total donations since 1989.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation or to make a donation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.