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October
3

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.

August
29

Terrific BBQ Recipes

Fantastic recipes just in time for your late summer get-together!

Tequila Baby Back Ribs

2 Tbsp. chili powder 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. paprika 1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. garlic powder 1 chopped onion
1 Tbsp. salt 1 lg. handful chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp dried oregano 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tsp. cumin 1 bottle (fifth) tequila
1 tsp. black pepper 1 lemon, halved
1 tsp. white pepper 2 limes

Combine all the above and season 2 full slabs of ribs, each cut in half. Refrigerate 2-4 hours.  Put half of 1 slab in 1-gallon ziploc bag, layer with onion, cilantro, and garlic. Place other half on top, repeat with onion, cilantro, and garlic. Pour in half bottle tequila. Add juice of half lemon and 1 lime. Seal. Repeat with other slab. Marinate at least 4 hours. Grill with onion, cilantro, and garlic at 350 degrees until done.

 

Honey Mango-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

1 c. honey 4 ripe mangos, cubed
2 full racks, baby back ribs 1 tsp. pepper
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 1 Tbsp. salt

Remove ribs from packaging, rinse and pat dry. Remove membrane from backside of ribs. Place ribs in shallow pan, sprinkle salt and pepper evenly and set aside. In a small saucepan, add chipotle/adobo, mango and honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until cooked down and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Using the slow and low method of BBQ'ing, set temperature to 225-240 degrees. If using coals, let them burn off and move over to one side of the grill. Wrap the ribs and 2/3 of the sauce mixture in aluminum foil tightly and place on grill. Close lid. After 2 hours, flip the ribs and let cook for another 2 hours. Open the aluminum and remove ribs, place them on grill and brush on remaining sauce and let cook another 30 minutes.

July
18

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

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! 

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! 

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.

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.

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.

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.

December
28

Charcuterie Boards Spokane

Charcuterie boards are perfect for sampling some of the best local flavors! Plus, they aren't just for meat and cheese anymore. Cold days and nights spent indoors have inspired people to build hot chocolate charcuterie boards featuring cocoa and all the fixings, from marshmallows and wafer sticks to caramel cubes and gingerbread cookies.

Whether you go gourmet or comfort, our real estate agents suggest these great shops around Spokane for creating your own charcuterie board.

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November
9

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

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September
28

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.

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March
30

Moving with Pets

If you've been exploring Spokane homes for sale, you're likely very excited to find the perfect one and start your new life. However, before you can do that, you'll have to deal with the not-so-fun part -- packing and moving. While this is always at least a little bit stressful for us, it can confuse and upset your pets. 

Our REALTORS® have collected the best advice from pet owners over the years and are happy to share these tips with you. 

  1. Manage Pre-Move Anxiety
    Your pets are going to know something is off as soon as you start thinking about moving. After all, you'll be packing up boxes, getting rid of junk, and deep cleaning. If you're selling your home, there are also likely to be strangers coming in and out. It's important to remember that your pets won't understand what's going on, and this will likely stress them out. To help manage this, do your best to keep things as normal as possible for them. Make sure you feed and walk them at the same time each day, play with them often, and keep them away from the moving chaos.

    Click Here to Read More...

January
20

When to List

For many individuals, deciding to purchase a home is one of the most important decisions they will make. However, another equally critical decision is deciding when to sell your home. Though our real estate agents can give market insight to assist with your decision, you must also weigh your financial situation and individual needs. Here are a few things to consider as you decide when to sell your home.

The Amount of Equity You Have in Your Home

The amount of equity you have in your home is an important factor in your decision to sell. If you're upside down in your mortgage (you owe more on the loan that your home is worth), it's likely best to wait to sell your home. When you're upside down on your home, you'll either need to bring cash to the table to cover the difference or get your lender to agree to a short sale. Both options are costly, and a short sale will damage your credit. 

Your Local Real Estate Market

Your local real estate market is another important item to research when deciding when you want to sell your home. When possible, wait and sell your home when property values are on the rise. This will help you obtain the highest price you can for your home. Even though no one knows exactly when Spokane homes for sale will secure the most money, your real estate agent can offer valuable insight into the current and future state of your real estate market. 

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December
16

Gifts for Homebuyers

Give a gift this holiday season that will help the newest homeowner on your list feel more at home in their new place. These fun, unique holiday gifts for homebuyers are sure to be a hit. Get gift inspiration with this list from our REALTORS®:

  1. Tool Kit
    A basic tool kit is indispensable for any homeowner. It doesn't have to be super pricey; a kit that includes a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, hacksaw, and wrenches, tape measure, and drill is sufficient. Want to throw in a bonus gift? A pack of screws, nails, and a laser level will help your loved ones hang up artwork with ease.

    Click Here to Read More...

November
18

Spokane HOA Pros and Cons

Homeowner associations, or HOAs, may seem like a relatively recent concept, but the earliest ones were established by land developers back in the mid-19th century. With the growth of common-interest developments (CIDs) such as condominiums and planned single-family home communities, HOAs now govern more than 26 million homes.

Are you considering Spokane homes for sale that are part of an HOA? Make an informed decision using this list of pros and cons.

  • PRO: No Yard Work
    Tired of using your leisure time to mow the lawn or shovel snow? HOAs handle the maintenance of grounds and common areas. For many people, this is the most appealing factor.

  • PRO: Use of Amenities
    HOAs often provide swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and numerous other amenities for the use of residents. Instead of having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on construction or memberships, all costs are covered.

    Click Here to Read More...

October
21

Moving to Spokane

Buying a new home and moving to a new town is exciting — but sometimes it can be a little scary, and at first, your new house or town might not feel like home at all. Our REALTORS® want you to know that this is completely normal. Any time you relocate away from your familiar surroundings, you're going to have instances of uncertainty.

Get acquainted with your new town and have it start feeling like home with these helpful tips. 

  1. Don't Lose Touch With Your Old Home
    Moving is quite the transition, and you'll need the support of your family and friends to help. Just because you're geographically farther away doesn't mean you can't remain close. Keep in touch and openly communicate your feelings with those you trust. Even though they aren't down the street anymore, they can still offer you support.

    Click Here to Read More...

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