We immediately did an extensive remodel that added about 300 sf, took out walls, and added an upstairs porch. We repainted over the years, switched out furniture, and other small projects, but we realized we didn’t use the main family room barely at all. Originally, when we took out a wall between the kitchen and the family room, we thought we’d have that open concept everyone loved; except the family room was narrow and had doorways and fireplaces that screwed up the furniture placement. It wasn’t a comfy place to hang out until one day I realized I was running in and out of the living room where the tv is to watch a football game while cooking.
“Hot hubby, I would really like a tv in the family room so I can cook and watch football.” Hot hubby’s face lit up, he likes a project.
“Well, we can do that, but I think there needs to be a focal point above the fireplace with some planking and trim, and maybe some windows on each side to bring in light; oh, and some built-ins for storage; you know we’ll have to change the furniture for it to work…”
When he gets a project in his mind, I just say, “Ya, sounds great,” and let him at it. Oh my word, it was the best idea ever. Now this room is used constantly. It is possibly the favorite room in the house, and the living room is also still used a lot as well when people want to watch different shows, use the larger couch, or play the piano.
“Why didn’t we do this ages ago?!” I love that our entire house is actually being used all of the time now.
What can you do to a room that is never used? Can you change its function? Do you really use that formal dining room or do you need a den? The fancy living room far from the kitchen: do you ever sit in it other than at holidays? Could you turn the bonus room into a gym now that the kids are older? (We did.)
If you aren’t using your whole house, maybe it is just too big… SEGUE…and that is where I come in! How smooth was that? 😁
“If they don’t like my style, then they don’t have to buy the house!” my 85-year old mother says to me when we talk about what she needs to do to get her house market ready. Truthfully, this a fake scenario since I would never let my parents sell my childhood home; they know I would buy it from them first. But every time I go visit, my mom asks me what I would do if she did sell it, and every time she belligerently quotes the above.
My mom has style and a great sense of interior design, but it isn’t what would sell a house quickly. When I was an infant, pictures show a checkerboard linoleum floor, dark paneling, and an orange leather couch, so VERY 1969. The 1965 Mad Men-like kitchen cabinets are solid wood and have served well for the 53 years she has inhabited the home. I don’t even notice the pastel pink cabinets in my childhood bathroom with flower wallpaper, but my husband did the first time he went in wide-eyed. The formal dining room and living rooms, which we were never allowed in except for special occasions, used to be covered in chintz, but now it and much of the main areas display a Southwest style, which I actually like.
And wallpaper. Wallpaper everywhere, even on ceilings. My mom has jokingly said that if she and my dad were ever going to divorce, it would be over wallpaper installations.
Today I went into a beautiful home in a gorgeous Eastside Seattle suburb (click to see here), but it was hard to see past the wallpaper (and the hundred rooster representations) throughout the house. Laura Ashley would have been proud of these interior decorating decisions. A lot of knick knacks, wall paper, and fabric designs in every room. I can see the love and careful choices the owner made years ago to make her house a showcase, but now the style is a bit much for today’s buyer.
So I have some suggestions for both Sellers and Buyers.
Buyers: See past the wallpaper and thingamajigs. Wallpaper, curtains, and brass fixtures can be removed easily. You will make the house your own and it will be so cool for you and your collection of bobble heads can be displayed prominently until you move on to a new life adventure years down the road.
Sellers: Declutter, declutter, declutter. I know you raised your three, beautiful children there and have amazing memories when your daughter wore the biggest bow in her hair for pictures in front of the Christmas tree. It is time to let your home bring joy to other people who see the home through a different lens and can’t see themselves in the home with all of your many possessions filling the space.
These out-of-style homes are well-loved, and that’s the kind of energy you should want in a new home. It is ready to be updated and welcomed into a new era by your family now. Except my parents’ house…no one is buying that house but me!
Last week, my family and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta and it was THE BEST VACATION! The beach, the resort, the all-inclusive and the weather all made it relaxing, but it was the Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour that helped us get to know this super cool (and very clean) Mexican city. We learned, of course, about the where the locals get their tacos and the different types of tacos offered. On the hot and muggy day, the agua fresca cart and the coconut water cart helped keep us cool. My favorite part was learning about the history of the town as we walked 3 miles on the 3-hour tour. Thank God we walked that far as it was a challenge to eat everything along the way. 🙂
When we got home, a friend of my kids came to visit from Italy and we wanted to do something fun. A Seattle food tour seemed like the perfect excursion since we had so much fun on the Mexican food tour. There were many to choose from, but with 3 teenagers, we decided the Chocolate Indulgence Tour was a good fit.
We ate little before we arrived so that our tummies would be ready to indulge in chocolate goodness, and boy, did we! Our tour guide told us how chocolate became the second most popular staple in our city, as well as how chocolate came to be and how it is made. We walked around the town (burning calories) to different chocolate shops and bakeries and tried everything from Triple Coconut Cream Pie at Dahlia Bakery to sipping chocolate at The Confectional in Pike Place Market. We were so close to eating all the way through, but we tapped out before the last stop and took our treats from Fran’s Chocolates home.
Gosh, why don’t we do this more often? I have lived in the Seattle area over 20 years and I really haven’t taken advantage of all it has to offer. There are amazing restaurants; I know because I have read about them in Sunset Magazine. There is an enjoyable King County Water Taxi from West Seattle to Downtown; I know because I read about it Coastal Living.
Seriously, Annie Hyatt? Get off your duff and go do things in the city where nowhere is more beautiful on a sunny day. I want to know the city I have come to love (even though it rains a bit more than I appreciate), and it seems touristy outings are what is going to get us to really know this city.
I literally just made reservations at Dahlia Lounge for dinner tonight. Look at me being crazy.
Next tour stop: Seattle By Foot | Seattle Coffee Crawl of course!!
Here in the Seattle area, you may have heard that the real estate market is fast with prices escalating to unheard of heights. Buyers have made offers with some creative details to win the house, and those still looking have become tired since the same house they didn’t win last year is now priced $50k-$100k more.
Sellers have loved this market enjoying multiple offers and prices they never would have paid themselves. Review dates and multiple offers have become par for the listing process.
Well, guess what? Within the last 6 weeks, A LOT more inventory has popped up. What does that mean? More choices for Buyers and, therefore, less frenzy for the one house on the market because now there are three within blocks of each other.
I am stoked for my Buyers who have been searching for months. They are finally breathing a small breath of fresh air that maybe they won’t have to offer up their first born to gain the home of their dreams.
Sellers… sorry to say, your mind-set is going to have change a bit. While it is still a Seller’s market, and some areas this shift is not being felt, pricing will be an interesting process. I have been counseling my Sellers to price at market value and at a number they will be happy to get without the hopes of multiple escalations. I have found that those people are happy to get the one good offer at list price, but that they were sort of hoping I was wrong. 😃
So, Buyers, it is time to find your new home! Interest rates have risen, so the sooner the better. And now you have more choice. Yippee! I am ready to celebrate with you when we make an offer less than list price for a change.
In my area, there are many young, hip techies who work for one of the large tech companies that call the Seattle area home. These people want new, updated, gadget-full homes, but don’t necessarily want a large home or yard. Condominiums are what they are looking for, and new ones at that; but, I literally have nothing to show them in our area.
Within the last 10 years, the condominium building laws have become so stringent that builders are guaranteed to be sued, and builders are finding it isn’t worth the litigation costs, so they build apartment buildings instead.
The REALTOR association is working hard to change those laws so that builders will want to take on condominium projects again. This article from nwrealtor.com discusses this push:
Condo work moves forward after inertia-building year
The good news is that the condo ball is rolling – and picking up speed. REALTORS® have plans to keep fighting for condo law reform to create more inventory and bring our market back into balance.
Washington REALTORS® Government Affairs Director Nathan Gorton and CEO Steve Francks stopped by our Government Affairs Committee meeting earlier this month to share these exciting updates on the Association’s refreshed efforts to create laws that support condo construction and ownership.
Francks took a few moments to impress the significance of this issue upon the committee. “This is a hugely important issue at the state level,” said Francks. “And on a personal note, I am concerned that my kids aren’t going to be willing or able to move back up here and fulfill the American dream of homeownership.”
Between now and January 2019, expect to see several initiatives move forward, including the forging of new relationships with legislators in leadership roles for support and the creation of a coalition of REALTORS®, attorneys, and insurers. Optimistic about the coalition’s potential, Gorton highlighted how REALTORS® are uniquely positioned to advocate for these changes because of their perspective. “REALTORS® can see all sides of this because our interests include both increasing supply with new construction and protecting consumers,” said Gorton.
For REALTORS® that want to get off the sidelines and help, Gorton provided clear action steps.
- Talk to your legislators about the lack of affordable homeownership options in your district.
- Compile stories about clients who should be homeowners but can’t make it work in this market – and send them our way. “All of you have stories about clients who should be homeowners but aren’t because they can’t afford anything. Share those stories,” said Gorton.
- Write letters to the editor about affordable homeownership challenges.
- Invite a legislator to tour your office and use that opportunity to talk with them face-to-face about the challenges your clients are facing.
REALTORS® can’t succeed in their business without homes to sell. Seattle King County REALTORS® will continue to keep you in the loop on our efforts to close the condo gap in our market.
Still not convinced that we have a serious supply issue, and that more condos would help? The Seattle Times recently began a column explaining what’s going on with our housing market. Read the first post here.
Man cave? She shed? Mother-in-law dwelling? Whatever you want to call the extra building in the yard, I want one!
I have been telling the hot hubby that I want a space that doubles as an office with a side area for garden tools. He has now dubbed it The Sheddy Office. 😊
I see them all over Pinterest for crafts, workout rooms, office space, guest houses, etc. and they are all so charming and cool. I want one so freaking much! Right now, I am doing an open house that has one in the back yard. The Sellers built it for their music-making hobby. There is a sound board, a small, closed-in recording corner, and a guest bedroom with half bath. It is super cool. (See pic below)
I picture mine in our yard where the lonely, probably dangerous, swing set is now.
I see it painted similarly to our house with a lot of windows and a large opening to let the warm air in when it is summer. It will be painted all white on the inside to keep it bright because, as you can see in the picture above, the forest shades that area quite a lot. I would use it as an office but would like enough space that my daughters can practice dance and have a quiet place to play the guitar.
According to my contractor, in my area, one can build a 20 x 20 structure without permits, but that doesn’t include electrical or plumbing. When adding those, you need permits. You don’t want that sort of work done with short cuts or it could be a huge hazard for you and your family. 20 x 20 is a good-sized building for the use I intend it for.
Why am I waiting? Obviously, I have plenty of room. Cost. It’s not cheap to build something nice. Now I could do it cheaply, but we have SO MANY other house projects that this one will have to wait. But maybe not for too long… because I want it so badly!!! 😊
This week was bitter-sweet for our family: I sold the house next door to a wonderful couple with two small children, 2 years old and 8 months. I know they are going to love it in that house because that home has brought a lot of joy to so many people, including us. Let me tell you the story about the house next door.
When we moved into our home 13 years ago, I saw the next door neighbors out in the front yard, so I walked over and introduced myself. She was a kind lady who immediately informed me that they would be putting their house up for sale the following week. Little did I know that would be the best news ever.
6 weeks later, the Schulze’s moved in: a couple about our age with two kids, a boy and a girl, exactly the ages of our two little girls. Yay!! Pretty quickly, we started asking each other to watch the kids while we ran errands and the kids loved it. They were the best of friends when they weren’t crying over not getting a swing (or getting the odd swing we added later). Meanwhile, the adults BBQ’d, drank crafted cocktails, and made inappropriate jokes about EVERYTHING. They were our best friends. Even the dogs were besties.
Then, three years later, the Schulze’s announced they would be moving to Ohio. Ohio?! I cried… I mean, I literally broke down in their dining room, and that is so unlike me. We spent the last month they were here trying to soak up as much togetherness as possible. They have been gone 9 years now, currently live in Singapore (Singapore?!! I cried), and are still our best friends. I tried to get them to come back and buy the house last month. Jerks!! Still bitter. 🙂
The family that bought the house, the Lees, came from Italy. Ooo, so exotic. They spoke Italian at home, but they also all spoke perfect English. And guess what? Two kids, a boy and a girl, around the same ages as our kids. Life with the Lees started out rocky, I believe, because the girls were mourning the loss of the Schulzes. I think it was about two weeks after they moved in that my oldest, then around 6 or 7, slapped the daughter across the face. None of us can remember why, and there were consequences of her actions, but soon enough, they developed another close relationship. The kids were at our house all of the time and they all were so much fun. Lots of swimming in the blow up pool, swinging on the swings (no one complaining anymore), and basic kid fun.
Then, three years later, the Lees unfortunately got divorced, and the kids went with their mom back to Italy. Lots of tears again. The kids still come every summer to visit us for a week!
But Mr. Lee decided to keep the house and rent it: enter the Richeys. If you know me, I make inappropriate comments constantly, usually with a sexual innuendo or sarcastic remark encouraging bad behavior, all to crack myself up; so you would think this attitude mixed with a Mormon family of 6 girls wouldn’t go well, but I was so wrong. They got my sense of humor and we were able to find common ground on raising kids and having fun (without alcohol and coffee, of course). With six kids, my girls always had someone to hang out with, and once again, the parents BBQ’d, joked, and played games. Usually, all the kids played board games with us. So much fun!
Then 2 years later, they decided to go on a world trip. Why are all these people moving away internationally? We have tried not to take it personally. While their trip was amazing and wonderful for their family, there were lots of tears when they left and we missed them terribly. They are now back briefly, but just to finish out the school year and off to Idaho they will go. RUDE! Glad to have them nearby for 6 months though.
Lastly, the Kleins moved in, who were so nice and easy going. Another Mormon family (those Mormons are so freaking great), and I always knew if there was an Armageddon that they would let us hunker down with them.
They were only there a year when Mr. Lee decided to sell the house, and now, that is where we are today. What are the chances this family will be super great like the rest? Has our luck run out? I really don’t think so. They have to be great, I don’t think that house would allow negativity in it.
Right before it sold, my oldest, now 16, walked through the house with tears in her eyes remembering all the wonderful times we had there. Maybe there will be more. I sure hope so.
Are you hearing stories of crazy escalating prices for homes in the Seattle area? Is the tax reform law scaring you from fulfilling your home-owning dreams? (See How Do the Tax Reforms Affect You? for more information).
I get it. Those are both things that would give me pause in jumping in the game too, but I also know that owning real estate as a long term investment is historically a good choice… Ugh! that is such a boring reason to buy a home. While true, it is still an unsexy reason.
I think buying allows you to decorate however pleases you and not have to worry if the landlord will allow it. Want an orange pantry door? You get to have an orange pantry door! (Hot hubby was not thrilled with that choice, but put up with it for a few years.)
Do you have pets? They LOVE yards! And if you buy a condo, no pet deposits needed because you are the boss, my friend.
So are you ready to find that house with the outdoor porch where you can picture yourself reading on warm, summer afternoons? Here are 3 things to help you be prepared for the competitive Seattle buying market.
- Get yourself pre-approved by a reputable lender– (Ask your real estate broker for referrals.) Do this before you start seriously looking. You need to know exactly what your budget is so you know what types of homes and where you can search. It is a bummer when you think you can afford the most rockin’ house ever and then find out later from a lender that it is not in the cards. Also, having an approval makes your offer stronger.
- Find a Real Estate agent you trust- Since you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, find one that you feel comfortable with and who will treat you like you are their favorite client ever. In the market we are having here in Seattle, you need someone who has a tool box full of ideas to help you win the house. Ask them how they guide their buying clients when it comes to multiple offers. They should have many ideas (not all financially comfortable for the buyer) that you can use to make the strongest offer.
- Know that this may take a while– With the low inventory, there are not enough houses to go around all at the same time. For some buyers, it may take a week and others a year (and others any amount of time in between there :)). If you are prepared that it could take a while, this process may not become frustrating when it does, and if you find your house right away- BONUS!
Don’t let your orange pantry door be an idea… make it a reality and go find your new home!
Click on the link to see the Gardner Report.
King County prices went up 14.9% in 2017 due to low inventory and an influx of people moving to the area for new jobs.