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June
25

Sweet-Tart: Refreshing & Lemony Recipes for Summer

Summer is here, and it's time to celebrate all things lemony! These refreshing treats are sure to please at your next get-together.

 

Frozen Raspberry Yogurt Lemonade Pops

  • 1 can (12 oz.) frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 10 ice pop molds

In a saucepan, heat lemonade concentrate & water over medium heat just until the concentrate is thawed. Remove from heat & cool. In a blender, place 3/4 c. of the cooled mixture, 1/2 c. of the raspberries, & 1/4 c. of the yogurt. Blend on medium until smooth. If you don't like the seeds, press this mixture through a small strainer to remove them. Divide the mixture among ice pop molds & freeze slightly.

Distribute the remaining raspberries in molds. Combine the remaining lemonade mixture & yogurt and spoon evenly into molds. Return to freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

 

Perfect Lemonade

  • 1/3 c. sugar or 2/3 c. agave
  • 1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 7 c. water

Mix well. Serve over ice with a lemon wedge garnish.

 

Lemon-Lime Spritzer

  • 1 liter lemon-lime soda
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
  • frozen cherries
  • fresh mint leaves

Mix ice, soda & sliced limes. Add cherries & garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

 

Adult Lemonade

  • 1 shot El Patron Tequila
  • 1/4 shot Grand Marnier
  • 4 oz. beer
  • 4 oz. lemonade
  • ice
  • strawberries for garnish

Mix together and serve immediately

 

Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie

  • 1 9" graham cracker pie crust
  • 2/3 c. frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. water

 In a blender or food processor, blend strawberries, honey, & water until pureed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix lemonade concentrate with sweetened condensed milk until combined. Set that aside, too.

With a mixer, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar & whip until it stiffens. Gently fold into lemonade mixture. (The pureed mixture is still kept separate.)

Pour half the strawberry puree on the bottom of the crust. Top with lemonade filling, smoothing evenly. Spoon on the remaining puree in evenly spaced dollops and swirl with a toothpick or knife. Freeze at least 6 hours before serving. Store leftovers in the freezer.

What's your favorite summertime recipe? Tell us in the comments! 

May
12

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
20

 

Spam 101

From Our Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

Technology scams are running rampant right now, whether they come by email, phone call, and now text messaging. We have had several customers reach out about texts that look to be from their bank asking to "verify information." Be vigilant when dealing with any communications via phone call, email, or text that regard any exchange of money or "verifying" any account information with a link or number to call.   

Our recommendations are as follows:

You can use your cell phone carriers' built-in number blocking on your phone to stop unwanted calls or texts from specific numbers; you can also block offending email addresses in your email account. But with any sort of fraud, scammers often use hundreds of thousands of phone numbers and emails and move very quickly onto the next.  This makes permanent blocking hard.  

To really have an impact, we recommend reporting the offending communication to the FTC.  This can be done online at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

A few rules of thumb for spam calls, texts, and emails:

  1. Do not engage spammers.  When you answer or respond, you are showing the scammer, spammer, or robo-system that your phone number or email is "live". It is then put on a live numbers list that is sold over and over and the calls/texts/emails will continue infinitely.
  2. Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. This one is hard for agents, but if it is important or a legitimate call, they will leave a voicemail or text you. 
  3. Do not answer texts from numbers you do not recognize
  4. Get into the habit of regularly entering and labeling known clients, colleagues, friends, family, etc. as contacts in your phone and email.
  5. Do not answer unsolicited or out-of-the-ordinary texts from numbers you do recognize.  The number could be spoofed to fool you. Instead, call the number you have in your contacts (not from the text or email) for the person texting you and verify via phone call that they sent the text.
  6. Do not click on links in texts or emails that you are not expecting from anyone that you do or do not recognize unless you have verified with the actual sender via phone call or in person.
  7. Do not open emails, download any attachments, or click on links in emails from senders you do not recognize.
  8. Do not download any attachments or click on links in unsolicited or suspicious emails or texts from senders you do recognize. Their email may have been hacked or their number spoofed.
  9. TRUST YOUR INTUITION.  Slightest question of authenticity?  Feeling of distrust? Major red flag? Do not ignore these feelings.
  10. COMMUNICATION IS KEY. If a text or email seems weird, out of character, just a slight bit off? We recommend that you call the person/company/bank to verify the contents of an email or text, or ask a trusted professional.

If you have any questions about a suspicious email, call, or text, feel free to contact our office via phone 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com.

April
13

#CBTDenimDay

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It's a difficult topic, no question.

 

Removing the stigma surrounding sexual assault and abuse, bringing the conversation to the forefront and out of the shadows, educating, speaking out, ending victim-blaming, and supporting survivors are the best defenses. So much has been done, with so much more to do.

It's worthy of our time. Of everyone's time. Here at CBT, we decided to act on one of our mottos – BE BOLD – and do what we can to help. For our April #DoersOfGood campaign, we're taking the message to all our offices and asking our Realtors®, staff, and managers to come together to support organizations in our areas who work hard to assist women in our local communities. We've asked them to purchase a #CBTDenimDay button, donate gently used professional clothing, and wear their jeans on April 27th, the 24th annual National Denim Day. 100% of the funds raised in each region, along with additional funds from CBT, will be donated to the corresponding organizations listed below. Clothing donations will stay local, as well. 

Denim Day grew out of an Italian Supreme Court decision overturning a rape conviction of an 18-year-old girl because she was wearing tight jeans. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day is a visible means of protest against victim-blaming and sexual violence.

The organizations we are coming together to support are:

Spokane area:

YWCA – Our Sister's Closet, www.ywcaspokane.org

Tri-Cities area:

Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties, www.dvsbf.org

Lewiston/Moscow/Pullman:

Lewiston YWCA, ywcaidaho.org
Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, www.atvp.org

Boise area:

Women's and Children's Alliance, www.wcaboise.com

Idaho Falls area:

The Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center, www.dvsacac.org

To help, the ask is simple: wear your jeans on April 27th and speak out. To learn about more ways you can help – or if you need assistance, visit one of the sites above.

April
4

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).

March
16

What will 2022 Bring?

Recently, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Realtors®, managers, and staff were honored with a visit from the President and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, Ryan Gorman. Responsible for the operations that support our network of 94,000 real estate professionals in 3,000 offices in 43 countries across the globe, he made the trip from CB's New Jersey headquarters to speak with us about the wild ride that was 2021 and share his predictions about the state of our industry moving through 2022.

Though he foresees a continuation of a seller's market, he believes it won't be "the crazy, crazy" atmosphere we saw in 2021.  "Interest rates are ticking up which will slow things a bit," he said, but "inbound migration will continue to be strong, so it will be a long time before the market shifts."

When asked if he was surprised by the activity during the pandemic, he told us that though he did not predict the "nearly 10 years of appreciation in 18 months" in our area, Ryan said he wasn't surprised to see the market remain strong. Despite the economic downturn, "we had the most equity in homes that we had literally ever had (not on a percentage basis, but on an absolute basis), and we had tighter underwriting for almost 15 years by that point than we had almost ever had, so people had good opportunities."

Contributing to the history-making market, he noted, was that for the past five or so years our area has been named to list after list of best places to live, work, and raise a family, so as people were able to work, not only remotely, but more independently, they began to make good on the question if you could live anywhere, why not live somewhere great?  

In discussing the issue of low inventory, he is quick to point out that even buyers who have been in their homes two or three months may have equity that could propel them to look at selling to purchase something that better fits their dreams and goals and encouraged agents to inform their previous buyers what their homes are worth today. Buyers, he said, can leverage their equity to move more affordably to another neighborhood or city.

Recently named a "Real Estate Newsmaker" for 2021 and "Influencer" for 2022 by RisMedia, a highly respected real estate news and information service, Ryan says is most proud of Coldwell Banker's integrity. "Integrity is first. That's an easy answer. Coldwell Banker was founded on honesty and integrity, and that has lasted."

To learn more about Ryan's strategies for Coldwell Banker in 2022, check out his interview with Jordan Grice of RisMedia.

Search for your new home at cbspokane.com.

February
14

Test Your Valentine's Day Knowledge

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!  Today is the day for love and romance, heart-shaped chocolates and candlelit dinners.

What do you really know about Valentine's Day? Here are some fun trivia questions to test your knowledge.

  1. When was the oldest-known Valentine's Day message written, and from where? 
  2. When was February 14th first declared as Valentine's Day? 
  3. Who invented the first Valentine's Day candy box? 
  4. What is the average number of marriage proposals on Valentine's Day each year? 
  5. How much on average is spent on chocolate in America for Valentine's Day each year? 
  6. How many roses are sold on Valentine's Day each year? 
  7. How many Valentine's Day greeting cards are purchased in the U.S. each year? 
  8. How many people typically purchase Valentines for their pets? 
  9. If you send a snarky insult on Valentine's Day, what kind of "greeting" are you sending?
  10. What year were the popular "conversation Sweethearts" not available?

 

Ready for the answers?

  1. The oldest-known Valentine was in 1415, sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife from the Tower of London where he was imprisoned. 
  2. Valentine's Day was declared an official holiday in 1537 by King Henry VIII. 
  3. English entrepreneur and chocolate-maker Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped box of chocolates. 
  4. 220,000 
  5. It is estimated that over $1 billion is spent in the U.S. each year for Valentine's Day. 
  6. 189 million 
  7. Approximately 1 billion 
  8. 9 million 
  9. Insulting Valentine's messages are known as "Vinegar Valentines."
  10. The ever-popular "Conversation Hearts" were unavailable in 2019 after their manufacturer Necco declared bankruptcy in 2018. Thankfully, the Spangler Candy Company purchased the rights, and the candies returned in 2020.

    How'd you do? 

    Whether you are celebrating with your beau, your best friends, your pets, or your neighbors, we wish you a day full of love!

    February
    11

    Winning Snacks for a Super Bowl Crowd

    For the vast majority of Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday. Big gatherings, team jerseys, and food. Lots and lots of food. In fact, according to Wikipedia, roughly 28 million pounds of chips are consumed just on this day. Add to that 1.25 billion chicken wings and 8 million pounds of guacamole! 

    Perhaps you're looking for some great ideas to add to the menu. Read on! 

    Artichoke Dip

    • 2 cans of non-marinated artichoke hearts
    • 1 c. mayonnaise
    • 1/2 c. sour cream
    • 1 can of diced green chilis
    • 1 c. shredded parmesan cheese

    Combine all ingredients in a small baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 400°. Serve with tortilla chips.

     

    Dill Pickle & Ham Pinwheels

    • ½ lb. thinly-sliced ham
    • 4 oz. cream cheese
    • 4 large whole dill pickles

    Pat pickles dry with a paper towel. Cover each pickle with 1 oz. of the cream cheese & wrap with ¼ of the ham. Repeat with the remaining pickles & refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Slice into 1" pieces & enjoy!

     

    Tequila-Spiked Salsa

    • 2 c. chopped, seeded tomato
    • 1 c. chopped onion
    • 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/3 c. peeled, chopped avocado
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
    • 2 tsp. tequila (optional!)
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced

    Combine all ingredients & toss gently. Serve with tortilla chips.

     

    Buffalo Chicken Dip

    • 10 oz. chicken breasts, boiled & shredded
    • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
    • 1 c. ranch dressing
    • 3/4 c. (or more based on taste/preferences)
    • pepper sauce (e.g. Frank's Red Hot®)
    • 1-1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

    Place shredded chicken & hot sauce in skillet & heat over medium heat until heated through. Stir in cream cheese & ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended & warm. Mix in shredded cheese & stir until melted. Transfer to the crockpot to keep warm & serve with tortilla chips.

     

    Oreo Popcorn

    • 20 Oreo cookies
    • 2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped
    • 2 c. white chocolate chips

    Place Oreos in a large Ziploc bag and smash. Heat white chocolate chips in microwave on high for 30-second intervals up to 2-3 minutes, stirring until melted. Mix popcorn & melted chocolate in a large bowl until well-combined. Slowly add the cookies & mix. Turn out on waxed paper until cool. Break into pieces & enjoy.

    After the big game, when you find yourself wishing for a media room or better entertaining space, give us a call. We will guide you to the perfect home!

     

    October
    29

    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!

    September
    20

    Selling your home while shopping for a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner––especially when the competition for housing is so high. That doesn't mean, though, that you should just throw up your hands and give up on moving altogether. In fact, as a current homeowner, you could be in a better position than most to capitalize on a seller's market and make a smooth transition from your old home to a new one.

    We can help you prepare for the road ahead. Here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients who are trying to buy and sell at the same time.

    "What will I do if I sell my house before I can buy a new one?"

    While it may be an inconvenience, this is a common scenario that can usually be handled with a little creativity and compromise. Here are some options to consider:

    1: Flex your muscles as a seller.

    In some cases, a buyer may agree to a rent-back clause that allows the seller to continue living in the home after closing for a set period of time and negotiated fee. We can discuss the benefits and risks involved and whether it's a good option for you.

    2: Open your mind to short-term housing options.

    If you're lucky enough to have family or friends who offer to take you in, that may be ideal. If not, check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals and month-to-month leases. If space is an issue, consider putting some of your furniture and possessions in storage.

    3: Embrace the idea of selling now and buying later.

    With cash on hand from the sale of your current home, you'll be in a better position to budget for and buy your next home. And by focusing on one step at a time, you can alleviate some of the pressure and uncertainty involved.

    "What if I get stuck with two mortgages at the same time?"

    If you can't afford to carry both mortgages, then selling before you buy may be best. (See Tip #3.) But if you have flexibility in your budget for some overlap, it is possible to manage a home sale and purchase simultaneously. Here are some steps to help streamline the process:

    4: As you get ready to sell, simplify.

    You can condense your sales timeline if you only focus on the renovations and tasks that matter most. We can advise you on the repairs and upgrades that are worth your time and investment.

    5: Prep your paperwork.

    If you'll need a mortgage for your next home purchase, get pre-approved in advance. And start pulling together relevant records for your current home, such as appliance warranties and renovation permits. That way, you'll be ready to provide quick answers to buyers' questions should they arise.

    6: Ask about other contingencies that can be included in your contracts.

    For example, it's possible to add a clause to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you haven't sold your previous home. This tactic could backfire, though, if you're competing with other buyers. We can discuss the pros and cons of contingencies and what's realistic given current market dynamics.

    "What if I mess up my timing or burn out from all the stress?"

    To make sure you're in the right headspace, take the time to slow down, breathe and delegate as much as possible. In addition:

    7: Relax and accept that compromise is inevitable.

    Rather than worry about getting every detail right with your housing search and home sale, trust that things will work out eventually––even if it doesn't look like your Plan A or even your Plan B or Plan C. Luckily, if you've got a good team of professionals, you can relax knowing that others have your back and are monitoring the details behind the scenes.

    8: Don't worry too much if your path is straying from convention.

    Remember that rules-of-thumb and home-buying trends are just that: they are estimates, not facts. So if your home search or sale isn't going exactly like your neighbor's, it doesn't mean that you are doomed to fail.

    9: Enlist help early.

    Which leads us to our final tip: If possible, call us early in the process. We'll not only provide you with key guidance on what you should do to prep your current property for sale, we'll also help you narrow down the parameters for your next one. That way, you'll be prepared to act quickly and confidently when it comes time to list your home and make an offer on a new one.

    Call today for tailored advice that works for you

    Buying and selling a home at the same time is challenging. But it doesn't have to be a nightmare, and it can even be fun. Click here for a free consultation so that we can help you review your options and decide the best way forward - or visit our site for listing of homes for sale.

    August
    30

    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

    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. 

    July
    2

    If you're searching for drama, don't limit yourself to Netflix. Instead, tune in to the real estate market, where the competition among buyers has never been fiercer. And with homes selling for record highs, the appraisal process is receiving more attention than ever. That's because, in a rapidly appreciating market, a property is more likely to appraise below the sales price—which can lead to major repercussions for both buyers and sellers.

    It's never been more important to understand the appraisal process and the risks involved. It's also crucial to work with a skilled real estate agent who can guide you to a successful closing without overpaying (if you're a buyer) or overcompensating (if you're a seller). Find out how appraisals work—and in some cases, don't work—in today's unique real estate environment.

    APPRAISAL REQUIREMENTS

    An appraisal is an objective assessment of a property's market value performed by an independent authorized appraiser. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal to lower their risk of loss in the event a buyer defaults on their loan.

    In most cases, a licensed appraiser will analyze the property's condition and review the value of comparable properties that have recently sold. Appraisal requirements can vary by lender and loan type, and in today's market, in-person appraisal waivers have become much more common. If you're applying for a mortgage, be sure to ask your lender about their specific terms.

    APPRAISALS IN A RAPIDLY SHIFTING MARKET

    An appraisal contingency is a standard inclusion in a home offer. It enables the buyer to make the closing of the transaction dependent on a satisfactory appraisal wherein the value of the property is at or near the purchase price. This helps to reassure the buyer (and their lender) that they are paying fair market value for the home and allows them to cancel the contract if the appraisal is lower than expected.

    Low appraisals are not common, but they are more likely to happen in a rapidly appreciating market, like the one we're experiencing now. That's because appraisers must use comparable sales (commonly referred to as comps) to determine a property's value. This could include homes that went under contract weeks or even months ago. With home prices rising so quickly, today's comps may be lagging behind the market's current reality. Thus, the appraiser could be basing their assessment on stale data, resulting in a low valuation.

    HOW ARE BUYERS AND SELLERS IMPACTED BY A LOW APPRAISAL?

    When a property appraises for less than the contract price, you end up with an appraisal gap. In a more balanced market, that could be cause for a renegotiation. In today's market, however, sellers often hold the upper hand.

    That's why some buyers are using the potential for an appraisal gap as a way to strengthen their bids. They're proposing to take on some or all of the risk of a low appraisal by adding gap coverage or a contingency waiver to their offer.

    Appraisal Gap Coverage

    Buyers with some extra cash on hand may opt to add an appraisal gap coverage clause to their offer. It provides an added level of reassurance to the sellers that, in the event of a low appraisal, the buyer is willing and able to cover the gap up to a certain amount.

    For example, let's say a home is listed for $200,000 and the buyers offer $220,000 with $10,000 in appraisal gap coverage. Now, let's say the property appraises for $205,000. The new purchase price would be $215,000. The buyers would be responsible for paying $10,000 of that in cash directly to the seller because, in most cases, mortgage companies won't include appraisal gap coverage in a home loan.

    Waiving The Appraisal Contingency

    Some buyers with a higher risk tolerance—and the financial means—may be willing to waive the appraisal contingency altogether. However, this strategy isn't for everyone and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    It's important to remember that waiving an appraisal contingency can leave a buyer vulnerable if the appraisal comes back much lower than the contract price. Without an appraisal contingency, a buyer will be obligated to cover the difference or be forced to walk away from the transaction and relinquish their earnest money deposit to the sellers.

    It's vital that both buyers and sellers understand the benefits and risks involved with these and other competitive tactics that are becoming more commonplace in today's market. We can help you chart the best course of action given your individual circumstances.

    DON'T WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO THE BEST REPRESENTATION

    You need a master negotiator on your side who has the skills, instincts, and experience to get the deal done...no matter what surprises may pop up along the way. If you're a buyer, we can help you compete in this unprecedented market—without getting steamrolled. And if you're a seller, we know how to get top dollar for your home while minimizing hassle and stress. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

    June
    8

    Homeownership offers many advantages over renting, including a stable living environment, predictable monthly payments, and the freedom to make modifications. But one of the biggest benefits it offers is the opportunity to build wealth over time. Researchers at the Urban Institute found that homeownership is financially beneficial for most families, and studies have shown that the median net worth of homeowners can be up to 80 times greater than that of renters in some areas.

    So how does purchasing a home help you build wealth? And what steps should you take to maximize the potential of your investment? Find out how to harness the power of home equity for a secure financial future.

    WHAT IS HOME EQUITY?

    Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage. So, for example, if your home would currently sell for $250,000 and the remaining balance on your mortgage is $200,000, then you have $50,000 in home equity.

    The equity in your home is considered a non-liquid asset. It's your money; but rather than sitting in a bank account, it's providing you with a place to live. And when you factor in the potential of appreciation, an investment in real estate will likely offer a better return than any savings account available today.

    HOW DOES HOME EQUITY BUILD WEALTH?

    A mortgage payment is a type of "forced savings" for home buyers. When you make a mortgage payment each month, a portion of it goes towards interest on your loan, and the remaining part goes towards paying off your principal, or loan balance. As your loan balance goes down, your home equity goes up.

    Additionally, the value of your home generally increases, or appreciates, over time. And when you sell it, even if you've only paid off a small portion of your mortgage, you get to keep 100% of your property's appreciated value. That's the wealth-building power of real estate.

    WHAT CAN I DO TO GROW MY HOME'S EQUITY FASTER?

    There are two basic ways to increase the equity in your home:

    1. Pay down your mortgage. Some homeowners do this by adding a little extra to their monthly payment, making one additional payment per year, or making a lump-sum payment when extra money becomes available. Another option is to decrease your amortization period. For example, if you can afford the higher monthly payment, consider refinancing from a 30-year or 25-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage

    2. Raise your home's market value. Many homeowners enjoy do-it-yourself projects that add value at a relatively low cost. Others choose to invest in larger, strategic renovations. Keep in mind, you won't necessarily get back every dollar you spend on upgrades, so consult a professional before making any major investments.

    A word of caution: neglecting routine maintenance could decrease your home's value (and equity), so be sure to stay on top of recommended upkeep and repairs.

    HOW DO I ACCESS MY HOME EQUITY IF I NEED IT?

    What if you want to tap into your home's equity while you're still living in it? There are several ways to borrow against your home equity, depending on your needs and qualifications:

    1. A Second Mortgage (or Home Equity Loan) enables you to borrow a lump sum, which you are responsible for paying back—with interest—over a set period of time. Most second mortgages have a fixed interest rate and provide the borrower with a predictable monthly payment.

    2. With a Cash-Out Refinance , you refinance your mortgage for a higher amount than you currently owe. Then you pay off your original mortgage and keep the difference as cash. This option may be preferable if you have a high interest rate on your current mortgage or prefer to make just one payment per month.

    3. A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC ) is a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card. It allows you to draw out money as you need it. The interest rate on a HELOC is variable, so your payment each month could change depending on how much you borrow and how interest rates fluctuate.

    4. A Reverse Mortgage enables qualifying seniors to borrow against the equity in their home to supplement their retirement income. In most cases, the loan (plus interest) doesn't need to be repaid until the homeowners sell, move, or are deceased.

    It's important to note that borrowing against your home's equity isn't always the best option, and it carries the risk of foreclosure if you default. Please ask for a referral to a lender or financial adviser to find out if a home equity loan is right for you.

    ALWAYS HERE TO HELP

    If you're ready to begin building equity with a new home purchase, grow the value of your current home, or access your equity through a home sale or loan—help is here.  Schedule a complimentary consultation!

    The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

    May
    21

    Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

    For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical. A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical. It's no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

    While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbor's or friend's, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. After all, taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

    THE NEWLY MARRIED OR PARTNERED COUPLE

    The financial and legal commitment of marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries, though these days more couples are buying homes without exchanging rings. But no matter your status, there are some key factors you should consider as you enter into your first home purchase together.

    • Affordability: While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up to a larger home in the future if your needs change.
    • Mortgage rates: Mortgage rates are at historic lows, but they still require solid credit. If one partner's score is keeping you from getting a mortgage, consider taking out a loan in only the other partner's name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with a single income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.
    • Location: A successful relationship takes compromise, so it's important to consider both of your commutes and interests when choosing a neighborhood. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great communities that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

    THE GROWING FAMILY

    Having kids changes everything. Whether you've just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can't comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there's plenty to consider when you're ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

    • Schools: 53% of buyers with children under 18 say that school districts are a major factor in their home buying decision.But when you're moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the schools are actually like. That's why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger.
    • Lifestyle: How will the home you purchase affect your family's lifestyle? Features like a pool, a finished basement, or an open floor plan can help you enjoy time together.
    • Functionality: Consider your day-to-day needs. Will a walk-in pantry or a well-designed laundry room make life easier? Chances are, you won't find every nice-to-have in one home. But we can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

    THE EMPTY NESTERS

    When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra rooms can quickly become more trouble than they're worth. But there's plenty for empty nesters to think about besides square footage.

    • Maintenance: Ready to relax or travel now that the kids are gone? Keep in mind that newer homes tend to require fewer repairs, and smaller homes have less space to clean. And if you don't love yard work, a condo or townhouse might be preferable to a single-family home.

    • Lifestyle: If you're retired (or nearing it), consider how you'd like to spend your days. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

    • Ability to age in place: We can't escape aging, so it's wise to think ahead. This may mean choosing a single-story home with a walk-in tub or shower. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? A few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

    FINDING THE RIGHT HOME FOR RIGHT NOW

    Whatever stage you're embarking on next, insight into local neighborhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. Buying a home—whether it's your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we're here to support you every step of the way.

    We support the Fair Housing Act and equal opportunity housing.

    May
    10

    Spokane Mini Golf

    Did you know mini golf is a great way for kids to learn patience and self-control while developing creativity and hand-eye coordination? All your kids will know is that they're having a blast. Share some quality time with your family at one of these entertaining mini golf courses near Spokane homes for sale.

    Click Here to Read More...

    March
    25

    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.

    January
    25

    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:

    Click Here to Read More...

    December
    14

    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. 

    Click Here to Read More...

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