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Terry Lipe
REALTOR®, CRS, ABR, CLHMS, SFR, CNHS, RCC
(509) 999-7916
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October
27

Add Value to Your Home with These Upgrades

Home Renovations That Offer the Best ROI for Resale

The following is a guest post by GUSTAVO GONZALEZ, Senior Manager of Content and Multimedia at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC

Looking to make some upgrades and wondering which will have the biggest payoff? If you guessed kitchen and bathrooms, you're spot on. Another good one is landscaping. Whether they're big or small, a few upgrades can pay big dividends when it's time to sell your home. Follow these tips to prioritize and put more money in your pocket when you're ready to sell.

Before you do anything, make sure you consider the value of your house, the neighborhood, the housing market where you live, and how soon you will sell after you make the improvements. If you live in a neighborhood where properties are selling for $300,000, doing a $150,000 renovation may not add as much to your property value as you might think.

Kitchens and Baths
One thing to keep in mind is that just because a remodel is expensive doesn't necessarily mean it will give you the best return on investment. Even minor updates can yield a big return. Consider painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances, which can lead to a big payout.

Sticking to a budget is always important, and keep in mind that an average, medium-sized kitchen remodel can cost between $20,000 – $50,000, while the average bathroom remodel is $10,000. In most cases, homeowners see a return of 100% or more with a kitchen or bath remodel, so it's definitely worth the investment. Plus, you get to live in a beautiful new space.

A Finished Basement
If finishing your basement is something you've been putting off, now might be the perfect time. According to cost versus value surveys conducted annually by Remodeling magazine, "The average return on investment for a basement project is around 75 cents on the dollar. Besides the financial gains, refinishing a basement will add new functionality to your home: more bedrooms, more efficient storage, and more space for entertaining." Seems like a sure-fire win, win.

Add Curb Appeal
When buyers see that the outside of the property is taken care of, they'll be more excited to see the inside. Remember, first impressions make lasting impressions. According to Anji, "Curb appeal can increase your home value by 7%. Buyers are increasingly prioritizing outdoor living spaces and an attractive lawn has the biggest ROI at 256%. Trees can add $1,000 to $10,000 to your home value and simple landscape maintenance tasks usually pay for themselves."

Whether you're in the market to sell your home or just want to make some budget-friendly renovations that you and your family can enjoy, making the right upgrades can help enhance your quality of life and add a few more dollars to your bank account down the road.

October
17

Your Checklist for Fall Home Maintenance

It's Time to Get Ready for Fall

Delta Media Group

Fall is the perfect time of the year to do seasonal maintenance to keep your home running smoothly. Checking these items off your must-do list now will save you money and frustration later.

  1. Seal the leaks.
    Check around windows and doors for cracks that leak air. According to the U.S. Department of Energy Research, leaks can increase your heating bill by up to 10 percent. Seal the leaks with caulk or weather stripping as needed.

  2. Schedule heating equipment inspections.
    Call an HVAC professional to give your furnace an annual cleaning and tune-up. Doing this can increase the efficiency and safety of your furnace.

  3. Test the generator.
    Instead of waiting for the winter's first power outage, take your emergency generator for a test run now. Make sure you have extra fuel stored away.

  4. Inspect your home's exterior.
    A damaged exterior lets in water and pests. Check your siding for cracks, curling, dents, looseness, bowing, and decay. Make sure your masonry veneer isn't cracking or flaking, and your stucco is free from cracks.

  5. Clean the gutters.
    Although it's among the most common home maintenance tips, this one has greater benefits than you might imagine. Blocked gutters can cause leaks on your roof and in your basement as well as damage your exterior. Scoop leaves, dirt, and other debris from the gutters then spray them clean. As you clean, check for leaks and rust. Make sure your downspouts are directed away from your home.

  6. Check your roof.
    Damage to your roof puts your home at risk for leaks. Use binoculars or climb onto the roof to inspect for missing, damaged, curled, or loose shingles. Look the ridge shingles over for wind damage. The metal flashing in the roof valleys and around protrusions such as vents should be free from curling and damage.

  7. Inspect your walkways.
    Damaged driveways, sidewalks, and steps worsen when exposed to freezing temperatures and pose a hazard in icy conditions. Repair cracks wider than 1/8th inch, smooth uneven areas, and tighten loose railings.

  8. Prevent frozen pipes.
    Adding insulation to pipes in unheated areas is one of those simple home maintenance tips that can save you a lot of trouble and expense. Outdoors, put your garden hoses in storage and, if your outdoor faucets aren't frost-free, turn off your outdoor water supply and drain the faucets. Drain your irrigation system to prevent burst pipes and damaged sprinkler heads.

  9. Measure your foundation drainage.
    The ground around your foundation should slope away from your home at an angle of 6 inches down over 10 feet. This protects your foundation from water damage.

  10. Get the lawn and garden ready.
    If you spot any tree limbs that could fall or hit power lines during a windstorm, cut them back. Also, trim shrubbery and perennials as recommended for the species. Rake up leaves and either compost them or use them as mulch. Alternatively, check if your city offers a removal service.

October
3

Boost Your Curb Appeal this Fall

Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

Delta Media Group

First impressions are everything when it comes to selling your house.  When a potential home buyer drives by your home, what will they see?  The outside of your home should serve as a preview for the inside of your home.

"WOW" home buyers from the curb with these tips perfect for the fall. 

  1. Spruce up your lawn
    Brilliant fall foliage can automatically "sell" your home for showings, but that doesn't mean you should forget about raking the leaves and mowing.  Keep those leaves raked and give your lawn the TLC it needs to look great. Patch any brown spots, and water the lawn as long as possible to keep it green and vibrant.

  2. Plant fall flowers
    Once lawn maintenance is handled, add a splash of color to your landscape by planting fall flowers.  Some of the best fall flowers include vibrant mums, yellow marigolds, sedum, or goldenrod.  You can also place fall flowers in pots near your front door along with a few pumpkins as accents.

  3. Highlight the front door
    Calling attention to your front door is a good selling tactic no matter what season when you're selling your house.  Your front door is like an invitation to your home. Hang a fall wreath for added color and a festive touch.  A fresh coat of paint in a vivid color can make your entrance stand out.

  4. Tidy up the exterior
    During the fall, your home becomes more exposed making its exterior appearance even more important.  Before listing your home for sale, pressure wash your siding, sidewalks, and walkways.  Clean the windows.  Apply a fresh coat of paint as needed.

  5. Clear out the gutters
    Being diligent about home maintenance tells buyers you care about your home's upkeep.  Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear from leaves and debris protects your home from water damage and ups the ante for curb appeal.

  6. Invest in outdoor lighting
    Days get shorter during the fall.  Exterior light adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your landscape and improves safety. Illuminate your walkways, front door, and important landscaping elements so the home shines no matter when people drive by.

  7. Keep outdoor decorations simple
    A simple fall wreath on the door and seasonal flowers make your home look inviting to potential homebuyers.  However, scarecrows and spooky Halloween decorations may "scare off" homebuyers and distract them from the gorgeous exterior you've worked so hard to otherwise create.

September
19

Why Should You Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection?

Should You Get a Home Inspection BEFORE Selling?

Delta Media Group

Selling your home? A recent survey showed more than 85 percent of buyers who applied for financing asked for an inspection of the home they intended to buy. Today's savvy home buyers rarely leave things up to chance — they want to be assured they are getting great value.

Despite this growing trend, many sellers still wait for buyers to take the initiative on inspections. A seller might save a few hundred dollars by waiting until the buyer makes the first move, but this is rarely worthwhile. In fact, there are many benefits to taking the plunge and getting an inspection as soon as you decide you are serious about putting your property on the market.

Let's look at six benefits of pre-listing home inspections:

  1. Attract More Buyers
    Savvy buyers who have purchased a property before will know about the necessity of a home inspection and will appreciate this is one less step (and expense) they need to worry about. New buyers seeking their first home may not be as savvy at first, but they will soon figure it out. All in all, an inspection will reassure and attract more would-be buyers.

  2. Accelerate the Sales Process
    Sooner or later, an inspection will happen — and when it does, it's bound to turn up something. Relatively minor issues might throw a wrench into your hopes of selling your home. When you get proactive, you have the chance to resolve problems that might otherwise add months to the sales process. Plus, in many cases, you can turn those fixes into part of your sales pitch.

  3. Provide a Stronger Negotiating Position
    Most home sales involve some "give and take" over the final price. Buyers will look for anything they can find as a reason to maneuver excess costs onto the seller. With a recent inspection report in hand, you can counter these moves without any sour grapes — you've gone the extra mile to ensure that everything in the home is on the up and up, after all!

  4. Reduce Recurring Repair Bills
    It isn't always easy to determine the true source of a recurring problem in a home, even a newer one. For example, if your toilet drains slowly, you might simply need to snake it... or you may have a major issue with your septic system. Whatever the case, an inspection helps you get to the real root of the problem. It saves money if you don't sell and improves your price if you do.

  5. Take Control of the Process
    Unless you find out something truly appalling, you don't necessarily have to take time to repair whatever an inspection turns up. Instead, you have the option of lowering your price or going "as-is." All in all, an inspection gives you the opportunity to take the steps that are right for you instead of running to catch up to a buyer whose inspection uncovers unwelcome surprises.

  6. If You're Selling Your Home, Start with an Inspection
    In today's real estate market, a seller's pre-inspection of a home is a mark of quality that buyers increasingly expect. If you put your home on the market and don't find interested buyers in a relatively short time, an inspection is one precaution you'll end up taking.

With all that in mind, selling your home should almost always start with an inspection. It's an essential step, just like making basic repairs, listing your home in the right places, staging it for potential buyers, and partnering with a real estate agent you can trust.

September
5

Easy Repair Hacks for Your Home

MAINTENANCE HACKS FOR YOUR HOME

From our friends at Delta Media Group

Little fixes around the home can take time and money. Try one of our quick tips to save both! 

  1. Fasten a Tennis Ball to your Mop Handles
    Never get on your hands and knees again to scrub scuff marks off your floor. Simply attach a fuzzy tennis ball to the end of your mop handle, and whenever you find a difficult scuff, flip the mop over and use the tennis ball to buff the mark from the floor.

    Bonus Hack: Keeping a couple of tennis balls in your swimming pool helps remove the oils, lotions, and sunscreens from the water.

  2. Plunge the Clogs from the Drains
    The next time your bathtub or sink drain backs up, don't reach for a bottle of expensive chemical drain cleaner. Grab your toilet plunger instead. Fill the basin with a few inches of water, use a bit of cloth to cover the overfill hole, and use the plunger over the drain. More often than the clog loosens after just a few plunges.

  3. Easy Spackle
    If your drywall cracks, make your own spackling compound by mixing a small amount of baking soda with glue.

  4. Loosen Stubborn Nails
    Whenever you engage in a home improvement project, there always seems to be that one nail that refuses to come out. A homeowner's trick that frequently works involves using a hairdryer to warm the nail, causing it to expand, creating a larger hole so that after the nail cools and returns to normal size, you can easily remove it.

  5. Repair Windows
    If you have a small hole or crack in your windows, fill the space with clear nail polish. It prevents the hole/crack from spreading when the temps drop below freezing.

  6. Caulking Made Easy
    Caulking isn't always a favorite home maintenance chore. Many struggle to keep the tip of the caulk gun straight or they find that they get caulk everywhere but the spot they want it at. Rather than having a professional come into handle routine caulking for you, stock up on painter's tape. Simply place a strip of painter's tape above and below the area you need to be caulked. Caulk the area and peel the tape away while the caulk is still wet. All the mess goes on the tape.

  7. Fix Holes in Drywall
    Don't worry if you get a small hole in your drywall. Fixing it is easy. Home improvement experts will tell you that you'll need to invest in paper tape or mesh. However, those with strong home maintenance skills know that all they really need is a small makeup brush to spackle their walls. Use the brush to fill the hole with spackle and sandpaper to sand down the spackle.

  8. Take the Elbow Grease Out of Shower Cleaning
    Rather than scrub by hand, easily clean your shower by fastening a foam ball to your cordless drill attachment. It'll have your shower gleaming in no time.

July
18

Headache-Saving Home Maintenance to Tackle Now

Home Repairs that Can't Wait

Delta Media Group

Home improvement can be costly and time-consuming, so it's no surprise that many homeowners put off making repairs as long as possible. Smaller repairs can usually be safely left until the timing is more advantageous, perhaps when you have more money in the bank or some vacation time. There are some repairs, however, that should be taken care of as soon as possible. These home repairs are so important that failing to make them could result in serious injury and increased costs.

  1. Electrical System
    Some home improvement projects include work on the electrical system, such as installing a ceiling fan or changing a light switch. These are examples of repairs that can be done whenever you can fit them into your schedule. Some electrical problems require immediate action, though. These include unexplained circuit breaker failures, flickering or inconstant lighting, and switch plates and outlet covers that feel warm or hot. If you notice any of these problems, it's a good idea to enlist the help of a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

  2. Roofing
    The roof is an important part of your home's defense against the elements. Leaks, missing or damaged shingles, and sagging areas need to be addressed as soon as you notice them. A sagging roof could collapse under the weight of snow or heavy wind and may indicate other problems like improper attic ventilation. In addition, small leaks and damaged areas can lead to big problems like rotted support beams, mold growth, and an overall weakened structure.

  3. Foundation
    Foundation cracks are a fairly common problem, but many people choose to ignore them when they're small. This leads to their spread and growth, eventually becoming so problematic that it can cost many thousands of dollars to repair. While smaller cracks don't typically contribute to structural instability, as they grow larger, they increasingly undermine the foundation's integrity. In extreme cases, this can lead to the collapse of the entire home. Have foundation problems been addressed as soon as they arise, both to save money and ensure safety?

  4. Gas Lines
    Gas leaks in your home can be extremely dangerous. Natural gas and propane are dense and have a tendency to "sink" below regular air. They pool in the low areas of your home, meaning that you're more likely to smell them (they smell like sulfur; "rotten eggs") on the first floor or in the basement if you have one. Anytime you smell gas, or even think you smell gas, get yourself and your family out of the home immediately and call the gas company from outside. Repairs to gas lines should be made before you return to your home, and only by experienced professionals.

  5. Plumbing
    Water leaks and damaged pipes give mold a perfect environment to take hold in your walls, and you may not notice a leak until long after it started. Should you notice any dark spots or weakened areas in walls, or water bills that seem abnormally high, it's important to find the cause and address it before it leads to larger problems.

Managing Home Improvement Tasks

It can be tempting to leave smaller home improvement tasks until "later," but keep in mind that doing so could cost you more in the long run. Not every repair constitutes an emergency, but that doesn't mean that non-emergency repairs should be ignored. Keep on top of home maintenance and repairs by keeping a checklist of necessary tasks; focus on completing one each weekend or each month. This will help you keep your home improvement projects from piling up and becoming major problems.

July
5

Patio Upgrades to Consider this Summer

Ideas for Upgrading Your Patio

Delta Media Group

Maybe you've been pondering all those cool ideas seen on TV and the web about redoing your drab slab of a concrete patio so that it's a standout feature of your indoor/outdoor entertainment area. Here's the deal. We are all in love with the idea of extending our living and entertainment area into the outdoors. And why not? There are dozens of relatively inexpensive and yet innovative hacks that will make your outdoors as inviting as the indoors, so let's start working from the ground up by renovating that boring, cracked, or scuffed-up concrete patio and see how dazzling it can be.

  1. Paint it.
    For basic painting, you will need concrete binding primer; concrete paint; painter's tape, a roller tray with liners (for fast cleanup), a paint roller, nap roller covers, and paintbrushes.

    Pressure wash the patio and let it dry. Cover up with painter's tape everything you don't want to be painted. Apply concrete binding primer, allowing it to dry one to four hours prior to painting. Apply two coats of paint, allowing the first coat to dry overnight. Wait 72 hours before you move furniture back onto the patio.

  2. Stain it.
    Apply a stain over the patio, then seal it. 

  3. Paint a pattern.
    Using a circular saw, score a concrete slab with a diamond pattern, then paint it with two shades of gray concrete paint. You can also use a stencil to create interesting patterns like a carpet design.  

  4. Lay decking on top of the concrete.
    Not a fan of concrete? You can lay decking on top of the concrete and attach white fascia boards along the sides.

  5. Create a stamped concrete patio.
    Stamped concrete is wildly popular these days. A bit cheaper than pavers, it comes in a variety of patterns and colors. Installers will try to delay cracking (be advised, it will crack someday) by installing control joints. Obviously, you will have to pour concrete and stamp the new concrete before it hardens. So if you've already got a concrete slab there, you'll have to figure out how to get rid of it. 

  6. Fake a stone look.
    Another redo that involves pouring new concrete is to fake the look of brick or stone with a patterned rubber roller. You'll need a concrete roller to create indentations that look like brick or stone, and those rollers can be costly. Concrete stamping mats are a more affordable option. These flexible pieces of rubber have embossed patterns. Stamp them on wet concrete and apply pressure. Lift the mat and repeat the process. 

  7. Resurface with pavers.
    How about resurfacing your patio with clay pavers? These bricks are hard-fired in a kiln, so they are extra-strong and can stand up to the harsh sun and inclement weather. Less expensive than stone, clay pavers cost more than concrete pavers. 

Although all these projects are relatively inexpensive, you can obviously spend more on some than others. So if cost is a factor, then you may want to go with simple painting or staining.

Once you're done with your new floor, it's time to think about decorating. You might start with a weather-resistant outdoor rug, perhaps in the dining area. Decorate with flower boxes or containers of flowers that can change with the season and move indoors when it's cold. Hang up strands of lights. Add a water feature, which could be a fountain with plumbing or a self-contained model that runs on electricity and recirculates the water.

Let your creativity and inner interior decorator run wild as you think up ways to jazz up that formerly dull space and make it shine.

Have you made some updates to your outdoor living space? Show us some pictures in the comments! 

May
12

Choosing a Contractor for Your Home Remodel

How to Choose a Contractor for Your Remodel Projects

Delta Media Group

Homeownership is an exciting time — one filled with many new possibilities and experiences. One possibility that has the potential to elevate your home to the next level is a remodel. Remodeling can transform your space into something more functional by better reflecting your lifestyle and adding value to your home. However, your dreams of the perfect renovation project can turn into a nightmare if you don't do your homework. To have a successful remodel, you need the right contractor.

It's understandable to want the best person for the job but finding that person often involves a number of factors like availability, cost, and areas of expertise. The best way to choose a remodeling contractor is to do your homework and take steps to ensure that you find an ideal match for your project.

Ask around or research

If you have a friend or neighbor who has a remodel you like in a room/area you're looking to work on, too, it can be helpful to ask them who they used. You can also ask around your network of people — i.e., friends, family, business partners, or your real estate agent—to get recommendations for remodeling contractors. Once you have a list created, make your own as well by researching resources like Google, Angie, the local Better Business Bureau, and other online places that give you the names of local companies. Weed out any contractors with consistently poor reviews or contractors that don't specialize or have experience in the space you want to remodel.

Look deeper into credentials and projects

Most contractors have a website. Take the time to look at what credentials they may have and if they are current. See if they have pictures of their work as well. You can begin to get a feel for which contractors are more your taste or that have the knowledge necessary for your remodeling project.

Interview possible contractors

The next step once you have fine-tuned your list to a few favorites is to call and schedule a time to meet and talk about the project. Consider both the phone and in-person meetings an interview. It's your chance to ask about experience, find out about their knowledge and skills, and see if you mesh. Like any job interview, you'll be able to get an overall sense of who you're getting. There are also some things you'll want to ask them or have them do, including:

  • Itemize your bid
  • Ask how long they have been in business
  • Determine who their main suppliers are and who will be in charge of the site/project
  • Find out if the pricing is an estimate or a fixed price.

Check references

Even if you've done all your online research and read all the reviews, nothing is as effective as talking with someone who has worked with your prospective contractor. You may find out things you didn't think to ask, and it can give extra assurance that you're making the right choice.

Put it in writing

The last thing you'll want to do when you've made your choice is to put it in writing. This is a great way to keep all parties on the same page and safeguarded. 

Homeownership means making the decisions; it's your house, and you get to choose who remodels it. For the best remodeling experience, by taking your time and the correct steps, you're more likely to find the right person for your project. Not only will it save you time and money, but it will also get you the home of your dreams.

April
25

Creative Ideas for Your Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island Tips

An island makes a wonderful addition to your kitchen, adding an extra workspace, seating, and storage. Besides its practical benefits, a kitchen island can also transform your kitchen's appearance by creating a stylish focal point. From the shape of your island to its color and features, your options are nearly endless, so you can design an island that suits your needs and style.

Our real estate agents suggest the following creative ideas for your kitchen island:

  • Think Beyond a Rectangle
    The traditional shape for a kitchen island is a rectangle, but that doesn't mean it's the only one. A kitchen island that's slightly curved, fully circular, or a combination of a rectangle with a curve becomes a statement piece due to its unique design. And depending on the shape you choose, your island may be more functional. For example, a triangle shape creates more room for seating around your island.

  • Add Shelves to Showcase Displays
    Although islands provide many practical benefits, they can also give your kitchen's aesthetics a boost. Incorporate some open shelves within your island to display your favorite cookbooks, glassware, vintage items, or other collectibles. The more interesting and colorful, the better.

  • Make it Colorful
    You can always match the color of your kitchen island to the one used on your cabinets, but why limit yourself? A burst of cheery, red, orange, or bright blue can instantly turn your island into a statement piece. On the other hand, if you have dark cabinets, a light, muted shade can have a big visual impact.

  • Go for an Industrial Vibe
    If you have an industrial style in your kitchen, you can extend it to your island. Combine elements like brick, wood, and metal, add a sleek black counter and exposed ductwork, and you've got an island with an industrial vibe.

  • Add Task Lighting
    You'll need to have appropriate lighting to brighten up your kitchen island, and the fixtures you choose can also add another layer of interest to the space. Options include everything from small pendants to statement shades, but in addition to the lighting's appearance, also think about how you'll be using your island. If you are doing lots of food prep, you may need bright task lighting. Or, if you'd like a softer look, pendant lighting offers extra light and some elegance.

  • Consider a Moveable Island
    A kitchen island doesn't necessarily need to be a fixed, immobile feature. A moveable freestanding island gives you lots of versatility. You can use it to prepare meals, and then if you're entertaining in the evening, push it aside to make more room.

  • Install an Extra Sink
    Having a second sink in your kitchen will require extra plumbing, but for many people, this is a game-changer that's worth the extra cost. You'll need to have enough room on your island, plus additional space to the sides, but you'll have an extra area to clean dishes, wash your hands after prep work, and wash veggies and other foods.

Contact us if you're looking to buy a home and would like to see Spokane homes for sale. Our agents have years of experience and are ready to help you find your new home. 

April
4

Easy Homemade Cleaning Products

DIY Products for Spring Cleaning

Sometimes it seems there is no end to house cleaning, and while there is no clear-cut answer for how to keep your home perfectly clean at all times, it might be surprising just how much you can do with a little baking soda and white vinegar.

Spot Cleaner for Carpet

  • After cleaning up any excess spill, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda or cornstarch. Let stand for 10 minutes and then vacuum.
  • Mix one tablespoon clear dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon white vinegar with two cups of warm water.
  • Using a white cloth, blot the stain with the vinegar solution.
  • Sponge with cold water and blot dry.

Oven Cleaner

  • Make a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Coat the oven (or just the dirty parts) with the paste and let stand overnight. Be sure to avoid the heating elements and bare metal.
  • Use a plastic spatula to remove the paste. (Wear rubber gloves.)
  • Wipe away any residue with a clean, wet sponge.

Grout Cleaners

  • Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of white vinegar and water and generously spray the tile/grout. Let sit about five minutes.
  • Scrub area with a grout brush, or even a toothbrush.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • If stains are more stubborn, mix a paste of baking soda and water and using your grout brush, work it into the grout.
  • Immediately follow with the vinegar spray. This should cause the baking soda paste to bubble.
  • Use your brush to finish cleaning.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • For mold or mildewed grout, hydrogen peroxide is a gem. Spray it on the stain, let sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with your grout brush. You can even mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste for a stronger clean. Apply the paste to the grout lines, wait a few minutes, scrub and then rinse with water.
  • NOTE: Do not apply vinegar to grout that has not been properly sealed.

Showerhead Cleaner

  • Carefully mix 1/3 cup baking soda with 1 cup white vinegar in a plastic bag.
  • Place the bag over the showerhead, submerging the head in the mixture; secure bag with rubber band or twist-tie.
  • Let soak for at least 3 hours.
  • Wipe clean.

 Window Cleaner

  • Mix together in a spray bottle: ¼ cup vinegar, ½ tsp natural liquid soap, and 2 cups water. Shake to blend.
  • Spray on windows and use newspaper to rub dry & clean, avoiding the window frames (newspaper can leave dark marks on the frames).

December
27

New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

Home Improvement for the New Year

2021 is almost over, and it's a good time to reflect upon the year, your wins, losses, and any lessons learned. Every new year brings with it possibilities to improve. It offers you a chance to reinvent yourself, and if you're in the market for a new home, our real estate agents can help you start the new year on a high note by helping you find your dream home.

Most people vow to exercise, save money, or spend more time with family. Few people remember to set goals to get their homes in shape. Let's look at some New Year's resolutions you can set for your home and how you can go about bringing them to fruition.

  • Declutter and Streamline
    Why wait for spring to declutter? Decluttering is one of the best ways to start the new year. And the best part is you get to feel instantly better about your home. Plus, a decluttered home is so much easier to look after and maintain. Decluttering an entire home is a big job. The best way to tackle the task is going room by room. Contrary to popular beliefs, you don't have to start with the hardest areas. Heading straight into the attic or garage could dissuade all your clean-up efforts. Once you're done decluttering your home, you can declutter other aspects of your life, too, like your digital life and your mind.

  • Reduce Your Energy Use
    Here's a resolution that helps you reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Installing a solar water heating system isn't the only way you can go green. Small things like switching traditional light bulbs with LEDs and getting a smart thermostat could drive your electricity costs down while helping conserve the environment.

    ​​​​​​​Changing your energy consumption habits could also lower your utility costs. Some practices that could help you trim your energy use include:
    • Switching off your appliances when they're not in use
    • Reducing appliance and water use whenever possible
    • Utilizing natural light
    • Buying appliances with a good energy rating
    • Recycling properly

  • Conduct a Safety Check
    Your house may be beautiful, but is it safe? Make a habit of regularly checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing the batteries. Repair and replace loose or frayed wires on all electrical devices and have an expert inspect your electrical system for any faults. If you have a pet, you should consider pet-proofing your home. Pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year. Pet proofing will protect your beloved furry friends as well as your home.

  • Improve Ventilation
    Prolonged exposure to polluted air can lead to respiratory conditions and diseases. Use your HVAC system as the first line of defense, and make sure to regularly change your furnace and AC filters. Plus, ensure your kitchen has enough ventilation to get rid of smoke and cooking fumes.

  • Invest in Home Improvement Projects
    Home makeover ideas don't have to involve knocking down a wall or adding square footage. DIY projects are a fun and creative way to spend time with your family and make memories, all while transforming your house into the haven you've always desired.

Nothing beats the feeling of finally moving into your own home. Contact us today so we can help you find your perfect home among our Spokane homes for sale.

October
29

Should You Renovate or Move?

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you're a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you'll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners' equity. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

"Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high."

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you'll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you'll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you'll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you're one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you're one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you're ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you'll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home. Contact us today to help guide you through the process and help determine what makes the most sense for you!

October
25

7 Ways to Warm Up Your Home's Entryway

Entryway Tips

Your entryway is the first space guests experience when they step into your home. And more importantly, it is the first space you experience when you get home! As such, you really want your entryway to feel warm and welcoming. Here are a few useful tips to help you make your entryway a sight to behold.

  1. Include a Bench Seat
    Sometimes, entryways have a tendency to become cluttered with items like umbrellas, hats, and bags. Including a bench seat in your design takes care of this problem. You can store all of your accessories in the bench seat and also sit on the bench as you put your shoes on or otherwise prepare to go out.

  2. Create Symmetry With Two Plants
    In a small space like an entryway, decorating with symmetry can help create a sense of balance. An easy way to create symmetry is with two identical potted plants. If you have a bench seat, place one plant on either side of the bench. If you have a larger piece of furniture, such as a set of cabinets, you could place two small plants on top of it — one on either side. 

    Plants are perfect for an entryway because greenery evokes a calm, peaceful feeling. They also help unify the outdoors with the outdoors, which is exactly what your entryway is intended for.

  3. Include a Clock
    Clocks are timeless decor, and you don't see them in homes as often as you used to, now that everyone has the time on their own smartphone. But your entryway is the perfect place for a clock. People will appreciate knowing exactly what time it is as soon as they step in the door. You'll also appreciate being able to check the time without pulling your phone out as soon as you get home. A large, decorative clock mounted on the wall directly across from the door is perfect entryway decor.

  4. Use Warm Colors
    When choosing paint colors for your entryway, be sure to opt for warm undertones. This will subliminally make guests and family members feel cozy when they step into the space. "Warm colors" does not have to mean brown or red, either. Your paint store professional can point you towards all sorts of different colors with warm undertones.

  5. Include Large, Fuzzy Doormats
    Doormats can warm up your entryway not only visually but temperature-wise. In the winter, you'll really appreciate not having to step onto the chilly floor. Pick mats that are generously sized to fit everyone's shoes. Those with a plush or fuzzy look tend to make the space look and feel warmer.

  6. Add Texture, When Possible
    As you decorate your entryway, look for ways to add texture to the space. For example, you may include a wall hanging with some burlap. Or, you might find a light fixture with some roughly hewn wood in its design. Incorporating a mixture of smooth and rough textures can make any space feel warmer and more balanced overall.

  7. Install a Dimmer Switch
    If your entryway does not already have a dimmer switch, consider having one installed. This lets you set the mood for your home.

These tips can make any entryway give a warm welcome! If you're still looking for Spokane homes for sale, please feel free to reach out. We can help you navigate the house-hunting process with ease.

September
13

How to Prioritize Home Improvement Projects

Spokane Home Improvement

When looking at Spokane homes for sale, buyers often plan how they might fix up a home or make it their own. The right home improvements can go a long way towards making a home more livable and increasing its value. But as your list of home improvement projects grows, how do you decide which ones to tackle first? Here are some tips to help you prioritize your to-do list.

  • Improve Function Before Looks
    Most home improvement projects can be placed into one of two categories. Either the project is aimed at improving the function of the home, or it's aimed at improving the appearance of the home. Painting your walls a different color, for example, is an appearance-based home improvement. Replacing a leaking window is a function-based improvement.

    Tackling functional improvements before looks-based ones will help keep your home safe, secure, and resistant to additional damage.

  • Do Small Projects First
    If your long to-do list is starting to intimidate you, sometimes the best approach is to tackle the smallest, least-demanding projects first. This allows you to start crossing things off your list, which can jump-start your motivation and give you the drive to keep going. 

    Also, consider breaking your big projects down into smaller projects. This helps make them more approachable. For example, instead of writing down "paint all rooms," you could write down, separately, "paint the bedroom," "paint the kitchen," and "paint the bathroom."

  • Consider ROI
    ROI stands for "return on investment." This is something that real estate agents think about a lot when talking about home improvements with clients. 

    If you are considering moving any time soon, you want to tackle the projects with the largest ROI first. This will help you earn more when you sell your home. For instance, replacing leaky windows generally comes with a great ROI, whereas adding shelves to the laundry room may not.

  • Do What Fits Your Budget
    There may be some projects you would love to tackle but can't afford to right now. There are likely other improvements that are in your budget.

    Rather than continuing to put off projects until you've saved more money, do what you can afford to do right now. Then, as your income increases or your financial situation otherwise changes, you can move on to more expensive projects.

  • Ask What Makes the Most Impact
    Another way to prioritize your home improvement projects is to ask yourself which ones have the most overall impact on your life.

    If you cook every day and your old kitchen is really bothering you, for example, renovating the kitchen may be a priority task. If the paint is peeling in the spare bathroom, but you only use that room once a month, that project can probably wait.

  • Prioritize the Preventative
    If there are any home improvements that will prevent problems in the future, tackle those first. This will reduce your workload and costs overall.

    For instance, if your gutters are old and leaky, you need to replace them to prevent damage to your foundation and landscaping. This is more important than painting a bedroom.

By using one, some, or all of the strategies above, you can better prioritize your home improvement tasks. If you're thinking of moving to a new home or selling your current one. Click here to learn more about our services.

August
30

House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home

From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home's maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.

In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Spokane Homes for Sale that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.

The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!

While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home's maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide to maintaining your property throughout the year.

SPRING

After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.

INSIDE

  • Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
  • Shut Down Heating System
  • Tune Up A/C
  • Check Plumbing
  • Inspect Smoke Alarm & Batteries
  • Check Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Check Water Filters & Replace as needed
  • Clean out Sink & Shower Drains

OUTSIDE

  • Inspect Perimeter of Home & Deck
  • Clean Home's Exterior
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts
  • Seed or Sod Lawn & Fertilize
  • Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
  • Plant Flowers & Mulch Beds
  • Tune Up Lawn Mower
  • Inspect Sprinkler System

SUMMER

Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.

INSIDE

  • Adjust Ceiling Fans
  • Clean A/C Filters
  • Clear Dryer Vent
  • Check Weather Stripping

OUTSIDE

  • Mow Lawn Regularly
  • Water Early in the Morning
  • Weed Weekly
  • Exterminate Pests

FALL

Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.

INSIDE

  • Have Heater Serviced
  • Shut Down A/C for the Winter
  • Inspect Chimney
  • Seal Windows and Doors
  • Check Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

OUTSIDE

  • Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
  • Rake or Mow Leaves
  • Apply Fall Fertilizer
  • Inspect Gutters and Roof
  • Shut Down Sprinkler System
  • Close Pool

WINTER

While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months.

INSIDE

  • Maintain Heating System
  • Tune Up Generator
  • Prevent Frozen Pipes
  • Adjust Ceiling Fans

.

OUTSIDE

  • Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
  • Remove Window Screens
  • Service Snowblower
  • Stock Up on Ice Melt
  • Watch Out for Ice Dams
  • Check for Snow Buildup on Trees

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR HELP

...with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors. Contact us

August
16

Interior Design Trends: Cottagecore Home Decor

When you buy a new home, you want it to be a reflection of you and your style. As you consider various trends, you may come across a popular new one called cottagecore. But what is it, exactly, and will it work for your interior design needs? Essentially, cottagecore home decor is a nostalgic journey to a simpler time and place. If sipping tea in a garden, breathing in the delicate scent of roses and honeysuckle strikes your fancy, this could very well be the interior design style you are seeking. If the homes you are asking to be shown are reminiscent of country living, you may want to consider these key elements:

  • Nostalgia
    From the garden to the living room, the house should speak of bygone days. This may look different to each person. If your cherished memories include crocheted Afghans and ruffled curtains, by all means, include them. If they lean more toward the brown leather overstuffed couch and the roll-top desk you might find in an 1890's ranch house, then go that direction. It's even possible to blend styles a bit in this very unscripted decor. If you have antiques or just books and knick-knacks that have been in the family for a long time, cottagecore provides a perfect setting to display them.
  • Simplicity
    Although many of us work in the world of technology, we don't all want to live there. When incorporating cottagecore interior design trends, necessary technology will often be hidden inside wooden cabinetry or disguised in other clever ways. The lifestyle celebrates minimalism, including handcrafting, home cooking, and creativity over video games. Rather than the cold, sleek surfaces you will find in industrial decor, you will find the warmth of wood, the natural textures of organic materials, and the cozy atmosphere they bring. Shining wooden floors with simple rugs and a wooden coffee table that reflect the same color as the floor. You might find the same wood theme repeated in bathrooms and bedrooms. 
  • Nature
    Embracing nature is critical to the cottagecore style. This doesn't mean that you must raise your own chickens and livestock in order to enjoy the designs. But the interior of the home should blend with the environment surrounding the exterior. This can be accomplished with muted colors, natural materials, house plants, and fresh or dried flowers. Imagine a little girl collecting wildflowers and displaying them in a milk bottle. The romantic ideal of rural living can be reflected in prints and paintings without the less pleasant realities of farm life. An indoor herb garden is just the right touch to a cozy kitchen, while the fresh herbs bring your recipes to life. 
  • Vintage
    Antiques are certainly great additions to cottagecore home decor, but you can obtain the vintage feel without an extensive collection. Simple lines, wooden frames, and natural textures will help balance the design. Wooden chairs next to pristine white wainscotting in the dining room are reminiscent of homes of a hundred years ago, even if they were just purchased recently. The elegance of a colorful quilt can carry the sleeper back to Grandma's house. Overstuffed chairs reupholstered with soft, nubby fabrics or floral designs are both frugal and practical, echoing the lifestyle of the past as much as the appearance. 
  • Do-it-yourself
    To truly embrace the cottagecore lifestyle, you should bring in your own creations. Have you learned to embroider? Frame an original piece and hang it on the wall. Did you grow your own fruits and vegetables? Proudly store them in wire baskets on the kitchen counter. Craftspeople know that you can't create anything worthwhile without making a little mess. You can embrace the clutter a bit without letting it take over. A basket of colorful yarn complete with knitting needles will actually enhance the decor of the den. A loom in the corner will make a fascinating conversation piece. You may even discover common interests with friends you didn't know existed. 

If you've been waiting for some of the vintage things you love to come back in style, the time has come. Our real estate professionals will be happy to help you find your new home. Contact us when you're ready to make the change. 

May
25

How to Give Your Home Office a Refresh

Spokane Home OfficeIf you're feeling uninspired or unmotivated when you head into your home office, then you know it's time to switch up things and refresh your workspace. With a few physical design changes, you can turn your workspace into a place of joy, inspiration, creativity, and productivity. Our real estate agents have rounded some of the top tips below to help you get started.

  • Declutter and Get Organized
    It's no secret. Home offices are clutter magnets. To keep the piles at bay, start by going through and shedding paperwork papers you don't need or use a scanner to digitize important papers. Then, use a tray, deck storage boxes, bins, baskets, drawer dividers, or floating shelves to put everything in place. Small decorative bowls can keep rubber bands, pens, thumbtacks, paper clips, and any other doodads organized. And don't forget to keep your office free of cord clutter.


  • Move Things Around
    If you're feeling uninspired in your home office, a new look may be what you need for inspiration and a spark of creativity. Try moving your desk and chair to face a different direction, if possible. You may also want to buy a new desk or comfy office chair. Switching artwork, or restyling the shelves, bringing in an oversized chair, or adding a cozy love seat are other options for a refreshed look.


  • Perk Up Your Office With Some Color
    Forget "office beige" – you need a paint color that changes up the ambiance and gets your work motor humming. If your office is smaller, try a light, simple color scheme to make the area feel roomier and improve workflow. For a bit of optimism when you're working hard to meet those deadlines, consider a soft yellow, or try calming, pale blues and greens for help focusing. If painting is not an option, add some cheeriness to the room with a lively wallpaper design.


  • Let There Be Light
    Proper lighting in your home office can help with your creative flow and keep you motivated enough to be productive. You can set the vibe using natural or artificial lighting. If you haven't already, replace your lightbulbs with LED bulbs, which are energy-efficient and help light up a room better. Add lamps where needed to eliminate shadows. Controlling the amount of natural light in the areas can have a significant impact on your productivity. Add shades or blinds to control the amount of light or rearrange furniture cut down on eye strain and headaches.


  • Personalize Your Space
    Your office is an extension of your home and should feel like one. Incorporate items you love and decorate with themes you've used in other rooms. You'll be more productive in a space that brings you joy, so put some extra effort into making the space feel like your own.


  • Add Some Plants
    Plants are good for the soul and can help decrease stress levels, improve mood, and keep you motivated when you settle down to get to business. Add some nice houseplants or sculptural succulents and get a beautiful vase for fresh flowers.

Ready to put down roots in Spokane? Our team is here to help you find a home with a dedicated workspace. Check out our Spokane homes for sale listings and contact us for dedicated help with your real estate needs.

April
26

Items You Should Toss While Spring Cleaning

Spokane Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning is the perfect way to start the decluttering process before showing your house for sale or to start packing for a move. But if you've been in your home for a long time, the volume of junk you've been stashing may seem overwhelming. Our real estate agents will tell you eliminating clutter is an important key to maintaining a beautiful home. Breaking the job into manageable chunks can be very helpful. Make sure to toss out these items while doing your spring cleaning this year. 

  1. Outdated electronics
    How many cables do you actually need? You may have a drawer full of them. But don't stop there. In this day and age, technology far outstrips our ability to keep up with it. From old phones to speakers, you probably have a number of electronic devices you will never use again. Open that box and fill it with all of that outdated equipment and take it straight to the thrift store. Be careful to strip all personal information before donating.
     
  2. Clothes that don't fit
    From outgrown children's clothing to slacks from many pounds ago, these things have to go. Shelters can make good use of donated clothes for children and adults. They will serve a much greater purpose there than they will taking up space in your closet. Be sure to go through clothes in your closet and in your drawers. 

  3. Plasticware
    Time to toss those mismatched lids, plastic movie cups, and stained food containers. You'll be so surprised as to how much real estate they take in your kitchen. Besides being unsightly and messy, older plasticware can be dangerous to your health. As it breaks down with age, chemicals can get into your food. It's also difficult to ensure that no food particles are stuck on the surface.
      
  4. Expired food and medications
    We know to dispose of expired prescriptions but seldom think about over-the-counter medications. Every time we catch a cold, we buy new medications anyway, so why keep the old ones? Toss it when your illness passes or, if you did hang on to it, get rid of it now. Pantries and refrigerators should be purged on a regular basis according to shelf life. Check expiration dates then to make sure everything on the shelf is safe to consume. Condiments in the refrigerator are often used infrequently and can reach expiration dates long before they are empty. 

  5. Expired makeup and toiletries
    We all hesitate to dispose of makeup because it is so expensive. When we find the perfect product, we often cling to it. But makeup and skincare products generally expire in three to six months after they're opened. Using it after that date is asking for breakouts, rashes, and eye infections. Even the prettiest eyeshadow isn't worth that cost. Nail polish may not cause infections, but it does tend to get clumpy and not settle as well as it should. Avoid the frustration by tossing it and getting it out of the way.  

Now that your spring cleaning is complete, are you ready to list your home? If you're looking at Spokane homes for sale, or are thinking about putting your house on the market, contact us today. 

March
25

Crazy Prices: What's Really Driving Up the Cost of New Homes

From the March 2021 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.  Written by Chris Canning, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Realtor®

As both a licensed REALTOR® and home builder, I often scroll through my Facebook feed and see homes advertised by our area homebuilders and fellow real estate agents. I often see such remarks as: "They want how much for that house? They're crazy!" or "Why can't builders build more affordable homes?" The general public is not aware of the obstacles faced by members of the industry tasked with meeting the demand for housing. Chief among these obstacles are: 1. A lack of affordable land. 2. Dramatic increases in the cost of materials. 3. The scarcity of qualified tradespeople.

  1. Land

    The first line item on any builder's ledger is lot cost. At present, Spokane is faced with issues in obtaining, developing, and delivering reasonably priced lots to builders. Briefly stated, Spokane's Comprehensive Plan dictates when, where, and how development and construction can take place. Its purpose is to prioritize use of existing infrastructure and improvements before venturing into areas that would require expanding infrastructure. Unfortunately, the land within the boundaries of our "Comp Plan" that was easiest and most cost-effective to develop is gone, leaving only very complicated, expensive, steep, rocky, pieces of property to develop. Consequently, developers and builders are forced to confront more expensive and complicated properties and projects. Many consumers who are able are paying these increases, while others have simply been forced out of the market. Let's assume a builder can build a home for $200.00/sq/ft and obtain a fair profit. If the builder is able to obtain a building lot for $60,000, and builds a 1,500 sq/ft rancher – he would need to charge $360,000 for this home. If, due to scarcity, the cost of the lot rises to $80,000, the result is an increase in the finished cost of the home of about $22,000. Otherwise, the builder sees his/her margin of profit slip, which would make it more difficult to obtain financing. Ultimately, the consumer bears the brunt of the cost increase, while the only party to benefit is the original landowner.
     
  2. Materials

    You may have heard in the news recently that lumber prices have nearly doubled in our area and elsewhere across the nation. However, it's not just lumber that has seen extensive price increases due to scarcity. Across the board (no pun intended), shortages in roofing, wiring, flooring and other materials, have significantly increased the cost of building a new home today.
     
  3. Skilled Labor

    Ask any home builder in town why homes are costing more, and be prepared for a lecture on the shortage of labor in the building trades. As a millennial, I was pushed hard to pursue a career requiring a college degree. I wish I had known then how much demand Spokane would have for skilled labor in the building trades in 2021! Talking to the many friends and family I have working as skilled tradespeople, I find that every one of them is inundated with work, to the extent that they can choose whom they work for and what they should be paid. As a result, while today's new homes are not framed any straighter or plumbed more reliably than those built five years ago, they are a lot more expensive to build, and, thus, to buy.

Lurking behind every one of these factors in the increasing cost of new homes is the Demon of Demand. As long as Spokane remains the wonderful place to live it is and always has been, we can expect to see increases in the cost of housing, though perhaps less steep than we are coping with now, extending into the future.

March
22

What to do Before Listing Your Home

List home for sale

Whether you have lived in your home for several years or several decades, there may come a time when you decide to put your home up for sale. To tackle the challenge, our real estate agents will guide you through the process to make sure your home makes a big impression on potential buyers looking for Spokane homes for sale.

Putting your home on the market can be a stressful event, but you can eliminate stress by knowing what to do before listing your home. Prepare you home for the busy spring market by following these tips. 

  1. Make a Good First Impression
    You only have one chance to make a good impression on potential buyers. Your home may be spectacular on the inside, but buyers won't see that if they don't get through the front door. Your home's curb appeal is a key factor to get potential buyers inside. Outdoor lighting, fresh exterior paint, trimmed trees and shrubs, and colorful flower beds go a long way towards making a good first impression.

  2. Take the Home Out of Your House
    Your home's interior likely reflects your personal design style and interests, but buyers may have different style and interests. When selling your home, it's important to de-personalize it so buyers can see themselves living there. Before putting your home on the market, get rid of personal items like excessive family photos, memorabilia, and keepsakes that represent your lifestyle.

  3. Focus on the Kitchen
    Most buyers consider the kitchen the most important room in the house. If your kitchen needs an upgrade, do it. A remodeled kitchen with fresh paint, new flooring, new cabinets and countertops, and upgraded appliances can give you an 85% return on your remodeling costs. If you can't afford to do everything, fresh paint, new cabinet hardware, good lighting, and one high-end appliance may be enough.

  4. Brighten Up Your Rooms
    Before you invite buyers into your home, light up your interior with sunshine and new lighting. If you have big windows, clean the windows, take down the draperies, and let the natural light into the room. For rooms with minimal sunlight, add new light fixtures or brighter bulbs to reflect warm, appealing spaces.

  5. Show a Spotless Interior
    Before showing your home, make sure your interior is spotless. Vacuum the carpets and rugs, wax the hardwood floors, wash the walls, clean the draperies and upholstery, and eliminate unnecessary clutter. Buyers want a house that reflects proper care and attention. If you have pets, make sure food bowls and litter boxes are clean. If you're planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

  6. Empty Your Closets
    Storage is an important feature to any homebuyer. When viewing a potential new home, a buyer will open closets, drawers, cabinets, and storage areas to make sure storage is adequate for their needs. By emptying your closets and cabinets, a buyer can accurately assess storage spaces for their own stuff.

  7. Price It Right
    Before listing your home, check recent sales in your area. While an overpriced home can sit on the market for months, a home that's priced at the current market value for the area can receive multiple bids from buyers, often over the asking price.

If you're interested in selling your home, contact us to guide you through the process and make sure your home gets the attention it deserves.

March
9

Plant a Flower Day: What to Plant in Spokane

Spokane Flowers

Planting the right flowers in your yard can truly give your landscaping a boost! That's just one of the great reasons to participate in National Plant a Flower Day on Friday, March 12. Our real estate agents share some helpful information about planting a garden in Spokane to get you started. 

Get in the "Zone"

To help gardeners determine what plants are suitable for their geographic area, the USDA developed their Hardiness Zones. There are 10 zones total throughout North America, each differing by plus or minus 10°F from adjacent zones. 

As the base of the scale, Zone 1 has the coolest weather patterns, which become increasingly warmer as numbers get higher. Spokane is in Zone 6, defined as average winter lows of -10°F. Optimal growth season generally extends from mid-March to late fall. 

What to Plant in Spokane

Fortunately, Zone 6 conditions support a relatively wide assortment of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Here's a look at some of the top plants that thrive around Spokane.

  • Rhododendron is the state flower of Washington, which by itself is reason enough for this colorful flower to be a popular choice. The plant is also deer-resistant, which is an important factor in the abundance of wildlife in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Summer in Eastern Washington tends to be hot and dry. Yarrow, English lavender, and black-eyed Susan are drought-resistant plants that grow well in areas with less moisture. As a bonus, these flowers are generally easy to grow and attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

  • Rock gardens are low-maintenance, natural-looking, and durable enough to withstand extreme weather conditions. They can also boost your home's value by hiding problem areas in the yard. Calamint, yellow sundrops, coral bells, bitterroot, and sunrose are good inclusions in a Spokane rock garden.

  • Ground cover can play a valuable role in your overall landscaping by reducing lawn maintenance, which is expensive and often hard on the environment. Consider choices such as creeping thyme, creeping phlox, silver-edged horehound, and creeping Oregon grape, which are visually attractive and grow quickly.

  • While they require a bit more TLC than flowers, experts from Washington State University say many vegetables grow well in Spokane because the soil pH tends to be neutral, meaning it's neither acidic nor basic. For early planting, they recommend starting cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons indoors. Asparagus, onions, and root vegetables can be planted directly outdoors.

Top Nurseries in Spokane

Head to these nurseries near Spokane homes for sale for seeds, starter plants, supplies, and advice.

  • Blue Moon Garden & Nursery - 1732 S. Inland Empire Way, Spokane, WA 99224
    Their motto is, "Nice plants, nice people," and you'll find both at Blue Moon Garden & Nursery. The business dates back to the 1920s when it was known as Nissen Greenhouses, and it's evolved to the state-of-the-art facility you'll find today. Blue Moon loves dogs, so bring Fido along when you visit. Hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, March 20 until October 31.

  • Ritters Garden & Gift - 10120 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99218
    Family-owned Ritters Garden & Gift began as a floral shop and expanded to become a full-service gardening and landscaping resource. By the way, if you bring your own kids along, be forewarned: Ritters has a colorful and irresistible candy emporium. Ritters is open 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Ready to put down roots in Spokane? Contact us at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson for dedicated help with all your real estate needs.

February
22

Start Your Garden Indoors With These Tips

Spokane Garden Tips

By the time we get to the dark days of midwinter, gardeners all over Washington are itching to get outside and get their hands back in the soil. We understand the struggle. 

Luckily, this is the time of year when you can start taking the first steps toward planting your spring vegetable garden. Our real estate agents are delighted to share these tips for starting your spring garden indoors!

  1. Pick out Your Seeds
    Starting from seed gives you complete control over your garden and the ability to select from a wider range of varieties. Plus, you get to start earlier, which gives you something to do in the late days of winter! You can order seeds online or stop at your local greenhouse. 

  2. Know Your Zone
    USDA Hardiness Zones can be extremely helpful in determining what plants are ideal for your climate and when each type of plant should be started in your specific region. Here in Spokane, WA, we're in zone 6. 

  3. Which Plants to Start Indoors
    Some vegetables transplant better than others. It's important to plan and know which seeds should be started indoors and which should be sowed directly into your garden when the time is right. Vegetables that transplant especially well include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, lettuce, onion, okra, peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Certain other vegetables, including celery, cucumbers, melons, peas, spinach, and squash, can also be started indoors but must be transplanted very carefully. A few vegetables should never be transplanted because doing so often damages the roots. They include beans, beets, carrots, and corn. These crops should be planted directly in your garden after all danger of frost has passed. 

  4. Location, Location, Location
    If you're planning to start seeds indoors, you'll need a suitable location in which to do so. The best way to grow seedlings indoors is with a grow light, which provides constant light from directly above your seeds. But you can certainly get by without a grow light. Choose a spot in your house where a large window provides abundant light. South-facing windows are ideal. Make sure your seedlings don't get too cold—a consistent temperature between 65°F and 75°F is just right—and give your seedlings a quarter-turn every day to keep them from reaching toward the light and developing long, spindly stems. 

  5. Know When to Begin
    Most seeds should be planted indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the date of the last spring frost, though exact timing varies. Here in the Spokane area, the prime time to plant seeds indoors is during the first two weeks of March. Between March 1st and March 15th, plant seeds indoors for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, and tomatoes. Wait until around the beginning of April to start seeds for cucumbers, melons, and squash. By mid-April, you should be able to transplant your seedlings from early March into your garden. Around this same time, you can plant seeds like carrots, beans, beets, and corn directly in your garden.

  6. Keep Your Seed Packets
    When in doubt, refer to your seed packets! They typically have detailed information on how and when the seeds should be planted, so make sure you keep them in case you need a little reminder.

Contact us today to learn more about life in the Spokane area. We live in a great area for gardening, and our team is standing by to help you search Spokane homes for sale.

January
25

Is This The Year You Should Upgrade Your Kitchen?

Kitchen Upgrade Tips

Many people call the kitchen the heart of the home, and it's easy to see why. It's used by multiple family members throughout the day and becomes a gathering spot for family and friends. And as people spend more time at home, this year is the perfect time to make your kitchen more appealing to yourself and your family as well as to prospective buyers if you're selling your home.

If your kitchen is outdated, an upgrade can improve its appearance and make it easier for you to complete your food preparation tasks. Our real estate agents suggest the following ways to upgrade your kitchen this year:

  • Appliances that feature germ-control  
    Several manufacturers – including LG Electronics and Whirlpool – are set to roll out products that remove germs and allergens. LG, for example, has a refrigerator that uses ultraviolet lights to sterilize. And Beko Electrical Appliances Co. has a fridge that has a disinfection drawer.

  • Lower-maintenance faucets, fixtures, and more 
    COVID-19 has also made homeowners prioritize cleanable kitchen finishes, and in some cases, microbial. Look for coated finishes like smudge-resistant stainless steel and countertops that are non-porous and stain-resistant. In some cases, countertops and other frequently touched surfaces can be antimicrobial.

  • Large kitchen islands   
    With more people staying at home, having room to prep for a meal is more important than ever. That's why homeowners want to add a kitchen island or improve the one they already have. If you choose to upgrade your kitchen with an island, make sure it features storage in the form of shelving, cabinets, or pull-out drawers.

  • Updated hardware  
    You probably don't pay much attention to your kitchen hardware. But if your knobs, pulls, and faucets are outdated, you can easily – and inexpensively – replace them to have a big effect on your kitchen's appearance. New hardware can give your kitchen a more modern, attractive look that creates an instant update.

  • A fresh paint job   
    Painting your kitchen yourself or paying someone to do the job can make your kitchen look newer as it provides an instant refresh. Especially if you don't have much natural light in the room, using a lighter or brighter color can instantly give your kitchen a boost. If you're selling your home, it's best to stick to a relatively neutral color.

  • Upgraded cabinets  
    Cabinets are workhorses in the kitchen, so if something about them has left you less-than-satisfied in their appearance or performance, now's the time to upgrade. Your cabinets don't need to be completely redone to achieve these results – often, a refreshed paint job will be enough to improve their appearance. You can also fix issues such as squeaky doors, chipped paint, and loose handles to help restore your kitchen into a point of pride.

  • New backsplash   
    Installing a new backsplash is a relatively simple and inexpensive task that can have a big impact. Metal tiles, glass, and other materials can be used to make your home's backsplash look sleek and attractive.

  • Modernized lighting   
    Many kitchens have outdated lighting, which negatively impacts the entire appearance and functionality. Choosing upgrades such as pendant lights or interior cabinet lighting can instantly make your kitchen brighter and focus light exactly where you need it.

Contact us if you're interested in listing your home among Spokane homes for sale. Our experienced, knowledgeable agents can suggest upgrades that will make your kitchen and home more attractive to prospective buyers while providing a good return on your investment.

December
14

Interior Design Trend Forecast: Trends to Know About in 2021

Design Trends

With a brand new year on the horizon, our real estate agents are excited about the new possibilities it represents. A new calendar is a blank slate, and maybe not just for you, but for your home too. So as we look to the future, keep these up-and-coming design trends in mind for your next remodel. 

  1. Light Wood Tones
    A case could be made that wood is always in style. It's just the way we utilize it that changes. Lighter woods are a big design trend to watch out for in 2021. Taking a cue from Scandinavian inspiration, light woods bring a raw, natural look to any space. It's not just for floors, either. Lighter woods can help transform ceilings, shelves, cabinetry, even furniture. We love designs that let the natural light tones of the wood shine through, without dark and overpowering stains and finishes. 
     
  2. Modern Vintage Looks
    Striking a balance between the old-fashioned and the contemporary has been a growing trend that will continue through 2021. A big part of it has to do with incorporating vintage (or vintage-inspired) looks with their contemporary counterparts in a way that doesn't feel overpoweringly or artificially old-timey. Doing so creates not only contrast but balance. 
     
  3. Functional Comfort
    As we let a tough year go on its way, a desire for comfort and connection will play a huge role in shaping the biggest interior design trends of 2021. That includes an increased emphasis on soft curves, overstuffed furniture, and traditional, comforting designs. It's also about making spaces functional as well as comfortable. For example, if you have a formal sitting room, 2021 is the year to re-imagine it as a more welcoming, functional, and comforting space. 
     
  4. Bold Wall Colors
    Expect to see light and neutral walls give way to bolder tones this year. As we spend more time at home, there comes a need to introduce more life and color into our living spaces. If you're planning on repainting one or more rooms in your house this year, consider making a statement with your color choice, especially in living rooms and dining rooms. In other places (especially bedrooms), more relaxing neutrals are still the go-to choice. 
     
  5. Your Home, Your Office
    With record numbers of people working from home this year, many remote workers are discovering that they really do like working remotely. And a lot of companies are discovering that letting their employees work from home is actually a sustainable business model. We predict that more and more people will take the time to set up a truly epic home office this year. Choose a room with natural light, paint it a relaxing color, and get creative with storage options. If you weren't satisfied with your office at work, you can create your dream office at home. 

Whether you're planning on listing your Spokane home for sale in the new year or are simply planning a DIY project to improve your own living space, we're here to help. Contact us today to learn more. 

November
9

7 Things Pet Owners Need to Do Before a Showing

Pet Owners Spokane

Even though your pets are part of your family, potential buyers are likely to be less than thrilled about your four-legged family members. When it's time to show your home, here are a few things pet owners should do to ensure their home looks its best when compared to other Spokane homes for sale

  1. Stow Your Pet Supplies
    Have a plan in place to move all of your pet supplies so that they're out of sight during your showing. You might keep a plastic tote on hand that you can quickly store your pet supplies in and transport to your garage or car. See that you also remove pet supplies when taking photos for your online listing or to advertise your open house. If you have any pet supplies that you simply can't relocate, like a fish tank, check that it's sparkling clean for your showing. 
  1. Eradicate Any Odors from Your Home
    Make sure that your home smells fresh for potential buyers by eliminating pet odors from your home. Don't try to hide the odor with candles and air fresheners. Buyers can detect when sellers are trying to hide bad odors. Instead, use enzyme cleaners and professional cleaning services to remove the source of these odors. A professional steam cleaner can work wonders when it comes to removing odor-causing pet stains from upholstery and carpets. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifier is an excellent addition that will remove odor-causing particles from the air in your home. Not sure if your home still smells like a wet dog? Have an unbiased friend or family member stop by and give their honest opinion. 
  1. Get Rid of Any Stained Items
    If your cleaning attempts don't remove pet stains, it's best to dispose of these stained items and replace them. Not only do stained items show poorly with prospective buyers, but they can even impact the final selling price of your home.
  1. Make a Plan for Items with Significant Pet Damage
    Some homes have areas with many pet damage, like scratched wooden floors that need refinishing or carpet that needs to be replaced throughout the whole house. Determine if it makes sense financially to replace these damaged items. Even if you're on a tight budget, it may be better to spend the money to fix these issues so that you can command a better selling price for your home. In other cases, you might opt to offer your buyer a credit to remedy these issues. 
  1. Meticulously Clean Your Home Each Day
    Commit to vacuuming or sweeping your carpets and hard floors every single day, so that pet hair doesn't have a chance to build back up after your deep cleaning session. You should also vacuum your furniture daily. By cleaning a little every day, your home will remain ready and fur-free for impromptu home showings.
  1. Remove Your Pets
    Unfortunately, many buyers are deterred by the sight of pets during a showing. Whenever possible, your pets need to leave your home during the showing. Have your leashes and kennels ready so that you can quickly pack up. 
  1. Remove Evidence of Your Pets from Your Outside Areas
    Don't forget to tidy up your home's outdoor spaces! Scoop any pet droppings, and remove any pet toys or water bowls that you use during the day. 

Looking for a home with more space for your furry family members? Get in touch today to get started!

October
26

7 Timeless Looking Kitchen Updates

timeless Kitchen

When revamping your kitchen, you might be tempted to go with the most recent design or that trendy color of the year. Just because it's trending doesn't mean you should go for it.

We can tell you that kitchen design trends come and go, but certain classic looks have stood the test of time. These designs are simple, beautiful, and appeal to a wide audience. And because the kitchen is one of the most expensive areas to renovate, it's smart to stick with what's tried and true. Here are the top 7 timeless kitchen trends that have been loved for decades.

  1. Neutral Paint Colors
    The classic white-on-white kitchen will never go out of style. And while it's sometimes critiqued for being boring, it provides a sophisticated look, can blend into any style, and appeals to the masses. You can easily swap out accessories to get that kiss of color. Also, a neutral-color kitchen creates the illusion of space. It can be a blank canvas for your creativity and for buyers interested in buying your home.

  2. Subway Tile
    Subway tiling is one of the most popular kitchen trends, and for a good reason. It's easy to install, it's relatively inexpensive, and has stood the test of time. It has a pleasant pattern and can be arranged in so many ways to get a custom look that complements your personality. It can work with many different décor styles without competing for visual attention.

  3. Single-Level Island
    A single-level island provides a clean, classic, and seamless look. It's a practical feature that allows you to prep meals, help kids with the homework, eat breakfast and gather with loved ones. When keeping an open layout, a kitchen island serves as a focal point and allows light to stream through the space. 

  4. Shaker-Style Cabinets
    Trends among cabinet fronts are always changing, but Shaker cabinetry is a trend that has been around for more than 100 years. With recessed panel doors, Shaker cabinets are known for their functionality, durability, and a simple, clean, and timeless look. This style works well with both farmhouse and modern designs. 

  5. Quartz Countertops
    Quartz-surfacing countertops will continue to be a popular option for a long time. Made by mixing crushed quartz stone with resin, quartz is one of the strongest countertop materials. It is resistant to burns, chips, and scratches and doesn't stain from acidic substances. It offers a timeless appeal and requires less upkeep than many other countertop materials. 

  6. Deep Sink
    A deep and wide sink is just plain practical and a clean kitchen's best bet. Deep sinks contain splashes and properly accommodate large pans, pots, and other items that require hand washing. A large, deep sink can also be a statement when it comes to décor. Choose a sink with a metallic, marble, or porcelain finish and pair it with a stylish faucet. 

  7. Hardwood Floors
    The classic hardwood floor never goes out of style. It lends warmth and natural beauty that can make a kitchen feel more inviting, cozy, and comfortable. Hardwood adapts to any style and can stand up to spills and stains. If you have hardwood floors in other parts of your home, putting them in your kitchen can help create a seamless look by pulling together your interior design. While hardwood floors last for years, you can stain, refinish, or paint your floor to get a fresh new look.

Design a kitchen that buyers looking for Spokane homes for sale will love no matter the decade. Reach out today for more information.

October
5

Open Shelving In The Kitchen - Yay or Nay?

From the September 2020 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.

 

Watch any home improvement show from the last several years, and you'll see it: open shelving in the kitchen.  But is this trend something you should embrace in your own space?  Will you love it or regret it if you rip out all your upper cabinets?  Those are the questions we're posing today as we examine the pros and cons of open shelving.


RISE IN POPULARITY

If it seems like open shelving is everywhere, that's because it is.  "Open shelving is one of the most popular - and also the most controversial - kitchen trends of recent years," said Apartment Therapy.  Some kitchens, in an effort to look updated and open, have eliminated upper cabinets entirely, integrating open shelving instead.  Others utilize the trend more marginally, replacing just one or two smaller sections of upper cabinets.  If you are wary of converting your entire kitchen to open shelving, this is a good starter.

Another way to get your feet wet is to simply remove the front of your cabinets instead of taking them down all together.  This way, you can get the look without a major change, and you can always put the doors back on when the fad eventually passes.


LIGHT, AIRY, AND OPEN

That's what a lot of people are looking for when they make the decision to go with open shelving.  And it works - sometimes too well.  Getting rid of all the typical upper cabinets can sometimes make a space look too minimalist.  "Open shelving can also look a bit... unfinished," said Apartment Therapy.


SHOWCASING THE GOODS

Then again, it's a great way to highlight china, nice dishes, or decor items.


IT'S DUSTY IN HERE

Regardless of what your dishes look like, they're likely to get dusty without the benefit of being behind closed doors.  "While we love looking at neatly arranged dishware on an open shelf, the reality can be a bit frustrating.  Namely, due to all the dust and grease that end up on the carefully-arranged plates, bowls, mugs, and glassware," said House Beautiful.  In fact, the site is so adamant about its stance on open shelving that the trend made the list of "9 Trendy Home Features That Are Secretly A Pain."

 

September
28

5 Things You Need to do After Buying a Home

Buying a Home Spokane

After buying a home, you may feel as if you've completed a marathon and are due for a little downtime to settle in and rest. But don't sit too long; there's still plenty to do.

We recommend prioritizing the many must-dos that will ensure your safety and comfort in your new Spokane home. Here are five things to get started on.

  1. Secure your home.
    Your family's safety is paramount, so take steps right away to change locks and garage codes. You have no way of knowing how many people have keys or codes, so before you move in, make the change. Ask the seller for any instruction manuals for electronic security systems, including cameras, alarms, and locks. If your home comes with an alarm system, you will need to find a new provider or reconnect service. 

  2. Do a walk-through.
    The best time for a walk-through is when it's empty. So take a look around, and make sure all requested/agreed-upon repairs were made; that all appliances and other agreed-upon items included in the sale are present; and that everything works, including plumbing, outlets, switches, fixtures, appliances, and the HVAC system. If you find issues that should have been covered in your contract, contact your real estate agent. If the issues aren't covered, plan for repairs or replacements. 

    Did you get a home warranty? These are commonly purchased by the seller to cover costs for appliances or major systems. Review the details so you'll know what to do if you have to file a claim. If you didn't get one with the sale of your home, you can still buy one after the closing.

  3. Find out where essential valves, fuse boxes, and the like are located.
    It's surprising how many homeowners don't know how to turn off the water at the street, how to turn off the power to the various parts of the home in an emergency, or how to shut off the water to an overflowing toilet at the base. Before you move in, how about doing a walk-through where you specifically identify valves, breaker boxes, and other features, so you'll know where they are in an emergency? Say your dishwasher has an electronic fire in its door (yes, this can happen), you probably can't just switch off the appliance but must go to the breaker box and turn off the power. Make sure all the breakers are clearly labeled as to what part of the home they operate. 

  4. Connect utilities before moving in.
    You will probably need to call all your utilities -- gas, electric, and water -- to start a new service and to apprise them that you're the new owner of your home and have no connection to whoever had service at the home prior. You will likely also want to contract for your phone and internet service, as well as TV (cable or satellite) and a security company. 

  5. Change your address.
    Contact the post office and fill out a change-of-address form so that all your mail will be sent to your new address. It's wise to also make a list of essential persons, companies, and government services that you deal with, so you can let them know your new address.

Whether you're shopping for Spokane homes for sale or moving into your new home, we can answer your questions. Get in touch today. 

September
8

Do You Have What It Takes To Tackle A Fixer-Upper?

From the August 2020 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.

Buying a house that needs renovations can be a great way to find a deal, but before you decide to pounce on that tempting offering price, ask yourself these questions:

Can your budget accommodate renovations and unexpected costs?
Naturally, the draw of a fixer-upper is that you can purchase it for a much lower price than
a similarly sized and located move-in ready home. The trick is deciphering exactly how much work the home needs, how much it will cost, and whether the combined renovation/purchase cost of the home will ultimately be more affordable than buying a house that's ready right now. When you're done, add 15% for the unexpected.

How much of the work can you handle yourself?
One way to keep renovation costs down when buying a house is to handle as much of the work as possible yourself, but it's important to be realistic about what projects truly qualify as DIY. If you have experience in the contracting trades or have renovated a home in the past, then you may be able to tackle some of the more costly aspects of renovating. Most people will need to leave the bigger, more costly aspects of renovating to the pros.

How soon do you need to move in, and do you have a place to stay?
If you have a place to stay and don't need to move into your new home right away, then time may not be a major issue. If you need to move in ASAP, then a fixer-upper probably isn't the right choice when buying a house.

Do you have trusted service providers?
No matter how much or how little of the work you can handle DIY, you'll likely still need contractors, an architect, and other service providers to tackle key tasks. It helps to have people you know and trust – or referrals from trusted sources – when coordinating work on a fixer-upper. Having quality service providers helps keep added costs down, and makes it easier to keep the project on schedule.

Do you have a vision for the home you'd like to create?
Success with a fixer-upper depends in large part on having a plan and being able to see it through to completion. So it's essential to have a vision of the home that you want to create. If you don't, then buying a move-in ready house may provide more value for your investment.

August
24

7 Ways to Teach Your Kids How to Declutter

How to Declutter

If you have kids, you probably struggle with keeping their toys neat and well organized. Toys, puzzles, games, books, and the like seem to multiply and scatter on an almost daily basis, and after special occasions like Christmas and birthdays, the situation becomes even worse with a major influx of new toys.
  
To help you win the battle against the clutter, our real estate agents suggest these 7 ways to teach your kids how to declutter.

  1. Start by Purging Broken and Unused Toys  
    Your kids have likely accumulated broken toys that are still taking up space, as well as those that are missing parts or have stopped working. Start by tossing these out, and then move on to toys your kids no longer play with but are still in good shape. These can be donated to a non-profit organization, sold online on a site like eBay, or given to friends.

  2. Group Toys Together With Like Items  
    When you've decided what items to keep, sort them, so you have like items with like items. For example, you'll want all the building blocks together, all books together, etc. As you and your kids gather and sort, let them take another look to see if they want to purge any more items. After they see how many board games they have, for example, they may decide there are a few that they don't play with any longer or have outgrown.
      
  3. Storage Bins
    Use storage bins to store like toys together, putting just one type of toy in each bin. Make them easy for your kids to access, and label them with the category of toy that's inside. For pre-readers, you can put a picture instead of words on the label. This way, kids can easily see where to find a particular toy as well as where to put it away when they're done playing with it.

  4. Establish a Cleanup Routine  
    Make it part of your kids' daily routine to put away their toys before bedtime. It's often easier if each child is in charge of several categories of toys, and they work together to get the job done. Otherwise, one day's clutter will spill over into the next, and you'll soon have an explosion of toys lying around.

  5. Keep the Number of Toys Under Control  
    Once you have everything organized, avoid the issue of new toys coming into your home but nothing going out. Continue to purge toys once every six months or so, with an additional big push before birthdays and other gift-giving holidays.

  6. Model the Same Behavior  
    Show your kids that you follow many of the same steps when decluttering your own items. You're setting a good example if, for example, purging your own items regularly to get rid of what's broken or what you don't use.

  7. Give the Family a Reward  
    After a major cleanup, give the kids a reward after they're done.  Let your kids have a say in the reward so they'll be more excited about helping.

Contact us at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson to see Spokane homes for sale, whether you're looking for a home with plenty of room for kids (and their toys!) or you're ready to downsize.

July
27

6 Things to Know Before You Remodel Your Kitchen

Kitchen Remodeling

No other room in the house is as exciting or as daunting to remodel as the kitchen. When reimagining an existing kitchen, you want to preserve or improve its functionality, while pulling it all together with a fresh new look. 

In addition to hiring an expert, there are several things you can do to ensure the success of your remodel. When you're done, you'll have an outstanding kitchen you'll love to work in and that you can enjoy for years. What's more, when the time comes, it'll make your home a star among other Spokane homes for sale.

  1. Be Realistic About the Cost
    As you imagine your dream kitchen, you'll probably envision lots of moving about: moving walls, moving appliances, moving cabinetry, and rerouting the stove's ventilation system. Be realistic about what you can do within your budget. Can you move that load-bearing wall? Well, yes, if you're willing to pay the price to transfer the load to other structures. Same with the appliances. Yes, you can move the refrigerator, stove, and sink, although it will be expensive to do so. 

  2. Think About Function
    Make an inventory of everything you want stored in your kitchen, including pots and pans, spices, gadgets, serving platters, baking equipment, cutting boards, knives and utensils, trays. Think about where all this equipment will be stored for the best access for a good workflow. Where should appliances go? Where should your trashcan be? Then, think about drawers (deep drawers, please!) and cabinetry.

  3. Plan For Good Lighting
    You don't want a dark kitchen or one where you're having to work in shadows, which is a hazard of installing recessed lighting in the wrong place. Plan on ambient light to illuminate the room and lighting for tasks, so you don't cut yourself when slicing onions. 

  4. Don't Fall For Trends
    You'll be living with this design for a while. While following the latest trends might be tempting, think about whether you'll really love these trends five years from now. Also, if you see your family moving in a couple of years, make sure your kitchen offers a more timeless look that buyers will love whenever you do decide to move. 

  5. Hire the Right Contractor
    Avoid hiring the wrong contractor by asking for references from persons the builder has completed kitchens for. Look at the finished work. Ask how satisfied the homeowner was with the job, whether it was completed on time and within budget. Ask the contractor about insurance, how he would handle unexpected issues, and timeline. Get at least three bids and don't necessarily go with the low bidder.

  6. Organize a Timeline For Your Remodel
    A kitchen remodel is a lot like orchestrating a piece of music: all the various elements must come together at just the right time when the final piece is played. Order your new cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, and materials ahead so you will have it all at hand. This will help the builder make exact measurements for installation. Confer with the contractor about scheduling the various technicians, including electricians, plumber, ventilation installer, and others in advance. 

Our real estate agents have other good advice for similar projects for your Spokane home. Contact us today. 

June
22

How to Give Your Patio a Refresh this Summer

Patio Refresh

There's no doubt about it. Summer is right around the corner. And with the amount of time we've all spent in various stages of quarantine and social distancing, our real estate agents are excited to spend some quality time outdoors. 

With that in mind, there's never been a better time to take your patio game to the next level. Plus, in all our years offering Spokane homes for sale, we've learned that a home's exterior is just as important as its interior. So whether you're planning on selling your home, or you just want to have a few friends over for a backyard gathering, consider these simple tips to refresh your patio this summer. 

  1. Improve Your Patio Lighting
    The right lighting can completely transform your patio, especially if you're planning on using it for late-night hangouts. Placing solar lights along walkways and patio edges will create a cozy glow, and LED string lights will transform your patio into a fun and festive party zone. 

  2. Upgrade to Patio Pavers
    An easy and effective upgrade from a traditional poured-concrete patio, pavers are available in a wide range of colors and styles. The design options are endless. Pavers are also relatively affordable, and simple to replace. 

  3. Up Your Grill Game
    If you like to cookout, you need the tools to do it right. That could mean investing in a quality charcoal grill, or it could mean splurging on a full-fledged outdoor kitchen. If you're really serious about it, you can even build a smoker or create your own DIY brick oven. It all depends on your needs and budget.

  4. Unleash Some Vines
    Vines are a great addition to your backyard landscaping. If you have a bare brick wall or boring fence, letting a vine climb its way up its side can completely transform the space. Flowering vines like Clematis and Honeysuckle are also great for planting around a trellis or pergola, which can be a great addition to your patio. 

  5. Keep Furniture Simple
    Too much patio furniture can make your patio feel crowded and visually overwhelming. Choose a few simple, functional pieces that look good together, and provide enough seating and table space without completely crowding the space. Simple wood furniture is great because it has a rustic look, and you can change the throw pillows throughout the year. 

  6. Add a Fireplace
    Is there anything better than sitting around a campfire on a cool summer night? There's no denying that fire feature takes your backyard to the next level. Just be cautious about its location. Make sure your fire pit is not too close to the house, and far from any overhanging structures. 

  7. Start a Container Garden
    If you don't have the time, patience, or space for a full-fledged vegetable garden—and let's be honest, most of us don't—then a patio container garden is a great option. Common vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, peas, beans, and leafy greens can thrive in containers, and they add a fun splash of life to your patio too. 

Contact us today to learn more about how you can get the most out of your home, inside and out. And be sure to talk to our team about buying or selling your next home in the Spokane area. 

May
26

Home Improvement Projects You Should Let a Professional Handle

Home Improvement Tasks for the Professionals

DIY home improvement projects on Spokane homes for sale can be satisfying and productive, but our real estate agents know the dangers of biting off more than you can chew. Here's a list of home improvements that are better left to the professionals.

  1. Foundation Repairs
    Filling a crack in the foundation with cement may seem like a simple job, but it has greater implications. The structural integrity of your home rests on the strength and stability of its foundation. However simple it looks on its face, a crack could be an indication of a more serious problem. Stay on the safe side and have a professional do a thorough inspection.

  2. Roof Replacement
    Besides the obvious safety issues, replacing a roof has challenges beyond the skills of most amateurs. If the job isn't done with absolute precision, the flaws could lead to flooding and some additional problems. Also, since roof replacement takes place entirely outdoors, it's not the type of job that can be worked on a bit at a time.

  3. Window Installation
    Just like roofs, windows are crucial for climate control and keep the elements from damaging your home. A professional will make sure windows are correctly installed with no gaps or leaks. 

  4. Electrical Work
    As a rule of thumb, anything more complicated than changing a light bulb should be handled by a professional electrician. The dangers of electricity are two-fold. You run the risk of being electrocuted or possibly starting a fire that can grow out of control. A licensed electrician will complete the job safely and efficiently while ensuring there's no costly power drain.

  5. Kitchen Remodels
    Minor fixes and improvements like changing cabinet hardware? Have at it. But if you get the itch to gut your kitchen and redo it from top to bottom, your next step should be getting recommendations for contractors. Your dreams are likely to surpass your skills, and you'll find yourself with a torn-up kitchen and no way out.

  6. Plumbing Repairs
    Remember the classic game Mouse Trap? Just one missing or misplaced piece and the whole thing is useless. Plumbing is a lot like that. With all the pipes and tubes that need to be connected properly, you'll save yourself a lot of potential headaches if you call in a professional plumber.

  7. Home Additions
    No matter how skilled a carpenter you are, a home addition requires a lot of moving pieces. The addition has to be integrated into the whole, so planning must take into consideration how the rest of the home will be affected. There are also permits and legal requirements that could shut you down before you even start if they're not handled correctly. Find an experienced contractor who has a good track record.

  8. Tree Removal
    Gardening, mowing the lawn and other yard work can be relaxing. When it comes to removing trees, what you see is not what you get. Roots extend deep below the surface, and disturbing them could cause a ripple effect threatening other trees and plants or even your home. Due to their size and weight, working with trees is awkward and potentially dangerous.

Want more helpful home improvement tips? Contact us at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.

May
11

How to Start a Raised Garden Bed

Raised Garden Bed

It's spring and time for a garden. But not just any garden. In Spokane, many enlightened homeowners are getting maximum yields by planting a raised garden bed. Raised beds not only help plants drain better but in our rocky soil, the layer of rich soil and compost that a raised bed provides makes it easier for plants to stay nourished. Also, raised beds help you control watering and make it harder for pests to get at plants. 

A raised garden bed can be an attractive feature of your property, and a great selling point among Spokane homes for sale, as our experienced real estate professionals, will tell you. Here's how you can get started planting a raised garden bed of your own.

  1. Find a Sunny Spot

    Plants need sun, so it's wishful thinking to locate your garden where it's shady. If possible, orient your bed so it is horizontal to the south so that plants will get even sun. 

  2. Put the Frame Together

    Lots of do-it-yourself kits are available on the market. Yours should be made of wood appropriate for the outdoors, such as cedar or even pine. Cedar also has insect-repelling properties. However, if you're reasonably handy, you can whip up your own frame, with instructions from the Internet, using recycled wood pallets, or other discarded wood.

    Height of the garden bed should be between 11 and 36 inches. How high you go will depend on the soil underneath the bed and what you want to grow. If you have rocky soil and you want to grow carrots, you may need a higher bed. Remember to add cross supports for beds over 18 inches, as the weight of the soil may bow out the frame.

    Some gardeners like to keep the width to 4 feet across so they can reach inside the frame. You can go longer -- but use cross supports every 6 feet.

  3. Prepare the Site

    Double dig the site to a depth of 16 inches so you can turn up roots and rocks that will interfere with your plants' roots.

    Make sure the sides of your frame are level, using a board spanned across the width and length of the bed. Then, add a layer of leaves, straw, wood chips, grass clippings, or any organic matter, and cover with cardboard. This will break down into compost over time. Add garden soil and soil amendments, including compost, peat, or lime. Spread the soil evenly and water, using the finest spray on the nozzle. Rake the bed to even it out.

  4. Start Planting

    Whether it's flowers or vegetables, do your research before you plant. Spokane has a great gardening climate, with a growing season of mid-April to mid-October, but do note appropriate times for planting. For instance, greens can take some chill and will get bitter in the hot sun, so it's better to plant them early. Tomatoes, on the other hand, need some warmth, so get the plants going indoors and wait till it's past the chilly temps before you plant. 

    Your plants from seed will usually do better if you start them indoors and get them going as seedlings. There are exceptions, so read the package instructions, as some seeds need to be sown directly in the soil. 

Looking for more home improvement projects to give your home a boost before listing it for sale? Our team can help. Contact us today. 

April
27

8 Tips for Cleaning Your Stainless Steel Appliances

Cleaning Stainless Steel

Do you remember when your stainless steel appliances were delivered to your home? The shine of the fresh new surfaces of your dishwasher, refrigerator, or oven instantly gave your kitchen a modern appearance. Now, you realize regular daily use has your appliances looking a little dull and almost grey. The elaborate shine is missing. The good news, stainless steel appliances are easy to clean and maintain.

Whether you are spring cleaning or preparing your home to sell with our REALTORS®, restoring the shine to your stainless steel appliances is simple. Luckily, the process requires minimal effort, but the results are spectacular.

  1. Use a Soft Cloth
    Never use steel wool or brushes to clean your stainless steel appliances. Use only a soft cloth to prevent scratching the surface. If you scratch the surface, dirt and grime will collect in the small crevices creating a dirty appearance.
  2. Avoid Paper Towels 
    Using paper towels as part of your spring cleaning process is convenient. But paper towels can prevent a shiny finish. A soft cotton cloth or microfiber cloth is your best option for cleaning stainless steel. As you clean, the paper towel absorbs the oil and grime from your appliance's surface. The substances will continue to deposit on your appliances.
  3. Follow the Grain
    When cleaning the surface, always follow the grain. Start by inspecting your appliance carefully to find the flow of the steel. Use your cloth to clean in the direction of the flow. If you do not follow the grain, you can scratch and damage the surface of your appliance.
  4. Stainless Steel Cleaners
    Cleaners sold at the grocery store work well. When buying a cleaner for your stainless steel appliances, read the label carefully. An abrasive cleaner can easily damage your appliance's surface. Cleaners with bleach can cause stains and harm your appliance.
  5. Soap and Water
    Add mild dishwashing soap to warm water. Dip your soft cloth in the mixture, wring out the excess water, and wipe down the surface of your appliance.
  6. Go Green
    If you do not want to use a cleaner or soap, use white vinegar to clean the surface of your stainless steel appliances. Begin by adding the vinegar to warm water, immerse your soft cloth into the solution, wring out any extra water, and gently clean the surface.  
  7. Towel Dry
    Using a second soft cloth, dry your stainless steel appliances to prevent smudging and streaking. Wipe off any excess water or cleaner in the same direction as the grain. The extra step eliminates splotches that can create a dirty appearance on your appliances.
  8. Restore Appearance
    If you are not completely satisfied with your appliances after cleaning, go to your pantry. Use olive oil or mineral oil to restore the shine. Add a small amount to a soft cloth, lightly coat, and gently buff your stainless steel appliance. The simple method provides high-quality results by getting rid of the buildup.   

Spills, excessive fingerprints, and other messy mishaps are a normal part of daily living. Regularly cleaning your stainless steel appliances helps maintain their sophisticated beauty and stand out among other Spokane homes for sale. Contact us if you are looking for a modern kitchen with all stainless steel appliances.   

April
13

Home Improvement Projects That Take One Weekend To Complete

Home Improvement Projects

Need something to do this weekend? You could binge-watch another series, but why not take this time to help your house be one of the best Spokane homes for sale this season? A small home improvement project can be a rewarding way to spend your weekend, from the satisfaction of accomplishment to attracting more potential buyers. Here are some tasks that can easily be completed in one weekend. 

  1. Just Outside the Door
    For buyers, the front of your home creates a powerful first impression, so make it a good one. Wash the exterior of your home. Use a power washer if you have vinyl siding, but steer clear of all windows. Trim your hedges. Take a look at your front door. If the paint is peeling or the hardware outdated, it can make your home look dated. If you choose a new paint color for your door, use a primer so the old paint won't show through, and compare the new shade in the store with your new hardware or hardware that's similar to the color and style you have at home.
  2. Put Your Best Entrance Forward
    Consider what awaits on the other side of the door. If an overcrowded coat stand and a jumble of shoes and umbrellas greets visitors and buyers, switch that up with a coat rack with room for umbrellas and a shelf for hats. You can add an additional row of hooks near the coat rack for more storage room. A laser level will help you keep everything perfectly aligned. 
  3. Windows on the World
    Cleaning your windows is a simple way to make the whole house look newer. Gently wipe the window frames first. Depending on how your windows open, you may need special tools to access the outside of the windowpane. A window washer with a squeegee on a telescoping handle, however, it will reach most areas. Wash the window panes with a mix of water and vinegar for affordable and long-lasting shine. 
  4. Get on the Floor
    If your flooring is badly scuffed, peeling, or just outdated, it's easier than ever to install new flooring. Self-stick carpet tiles come in a wide variety of shades and textures, and click and lock plank flooring is available in finishes that would bring any bathroom or kitchen up to date. A belt sander will come in handy to smooth old subflooring, and a nail set will help you with wood subflooring when the nails are no longer flush. Some types of flooring may need to become acclimated to your home's humidity level, so ask at the hardware store before you make your purchase. 

Our REALTORS® get to see houses at all stages, and they appreciate when a home has received the care it needs to look its best. It shows that the seller is offering a true investment, and buyers will recognize when a home has been well-loved. We'd love to talk to you about helping you find a buyer who will love your house as much as you do. Contact us today.

March
19

Spring Tips for Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Home

Spokane Landscaping Trends

COVID-19 is a new reality that's now affecting our homes and the way we live.  It's more important than ever to clean and sanitize your home.  We've combined a spring-cleaning checklist with tips from the CDC to protect your home.  Here are some best practices to keep your home clean and virus-free.


Disinfecting Your Home

 

General Spring Cleaning Tips

  • Start with a general de-cluttering in each room

  • Strip beds, wash pillows & comforters

  • Deep clean mattresses - sprinkle baking soda, let stand, then vaccuum

  • Dust and clean walls & baseboards

  • Clean window sills & sliding door tracks

  • Dispose of expired meds at approved drug take-back location

  • Donate old blankets & towels to an animal shelter

  • Clean all remote controls with alcohol and cotton swabs

  • Remove stove knobs and soak in white vinegar; clean stove face

  • Clean & sanitize light switches, door knobs, microwave buttons, fridge handle

  • Scrub inside & outside of all garbage cans

  • Clean & de-scale coffee maker

  • Replace all sponges

  • Dust and clean ceiling fans - don't forget the top

  • Wash all pet toys

  • Clean & sanitize washing machine according to manufacturer's directions

 

March
2

Landscaping Trends for the Spring Months

Spokane Landscaping Trends

Warmer temperatures and longer days are right around the corner. If you're hoping to revamp your outside spaces in preparation for the sunny days ahead, now is the perfect time to begin planning your spring to-do list. Here are a few of the top landscaping trends you'll encounter at a variety of Spokane homes for sale this spring that might be right for your property. 

  1. Container Gardens
    If you live in a home with minimal yard space but yearn for a lush garden, a container garden is an excellent alternative. As the name suggests, you grow your plants and flowers in containers instead of in the ground. These containers give you a lot of flexibility. You can change the positioning of the containers and instantly give your outdoor space an entirely new look. Does sunlight only hit a small portion of your outside space? Move the containers as needed to make sure they get adequate sunlight. You can even bring your plants inside if it looks like a late frost or severe storm is in the forecast.
  2. Gardens with a Water Element
    If you're planning to sell your home, you can help your home stand out by incorporating a water element in your garden. A water element is a universally-loved addition to any lawn or garden. The sound of running water is associated with a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere that practically invites you to spend time outside. Aesthetically, a fountain or small pond complements nearly any style of home decor. Plus these items require minimal upkeep. 
  3. Landscaping That Focuses on Native Vegetation
    Expect a focus on gardens and lawns that incorporate native vegetation. Native vegetation refers to plants, grasses, and flowers that are natural to your home's region. There are a couple of underlying factors driving this shift. Instead of spending hours fertilizing, weeding, and applying insecticide, homeowners want to enjoy their outside spaces. Species that are native to your area are more likely to thrive without a lot of fertilizer, insecticide, or special attention. Native species also have less of an impact on the environment. Since they're indigenous to the area, they require minimal transportation and a low amount of chemicals (like pesticides and insecticides) that can potentially harm the environment and surrounding wildlife.
  4. "Smart" Lawns and Gardens
    Don't let landscaping chores keep you from having the lawn and garden of your dreams. Instead, integrate smart devices into your landscaping to automate some of the work associated with having a gorgeous outside area. While there isn't a device that can weed your gardens (yet!), a smart irrigation system makes it easy for you to make sure your lawn and plants are getting the appropriate amount of water. You can also install smart lights that you can program to turn on and off automatically. Or, for additional ambiance, look for exterior smart lights that enable you to change the color of the lighting or even create unique lighting effects. 

Do you yearn for a home with more lawn and garden space? Let our REALTORS® show you properties that better suit your preferences. Contact us today. 

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 01/29/2023. The listing information on this page last changed on 01/29/2023. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of Coeur dAlene MLS (last updated Sun 01/29/2023 10:16:22 AM EST) or Spokane MLS (last updated Sun 01/29/2023 10:45:43 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Coldwell Banker Tomlinson may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --



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