Some “Don’ts” and “Dos” for the Design Challenged

“What do home sellers want? To sell their house for the highest price in the least amount of time.

As statistics have shown, residential staging consistently provides sellers (and agents) with the competitive advantage. How do we do this? By “setting the scene” in ways that help prospective buyers emotionally connect with a home through color, furniture, and art. We also minimize property flaws and maximize strengths.”

Whether you are thinking of selling your home, or just simply
“re-designing” your home, here are some great tips from the fine folks at Rosichelli Design:

Rosichelli Design Do's and Don'ts

DON’T rely on overhead lighting as the sole source of lighting in your rooms – It’s unflattering and harsh. DO mix table and floor lamps for an even balance of light, and remember to install dimmers on overhead lighting and lamps.
DON’T worry about mixing periods and styles. DO buy pieces you love that are well designed and are a good example of whatever style they are. Well-designed pieces generally mix well together.
DON’T buy major pieces like sofas in trendy colors or prints. DO stick to basic neutrals for most of your larger pieces and use accent colors on smaller items that are easy to refresh, i.e. lampshades and throw pillows.
DON’T forget who you are.  DO consult your wardrobe before making color or pattern choices.  If you have nothing in a green stripe, you may not enjoy it as drapery, upholstery or wall finish.   A good designer can help you find your voice.
DON’T think that small spaces require only small furniture. DO play with scale and see how a substantial piece can lend a generous feel to a small room.
DON’T skimp on the things you touch the most. DO splurge on some beautiful fabric or door hardware, things that you feel on a regular basis.
DON’T use all low furniture in small rooms – it makes the walls too prominent and they feel closer.  DO mix a variety of heights.
DON’T miss the great variety of product available online, but DO try to source locally when possible and support your local economy!
DON’T think you have to spend a lot of money.  A $20 vase can look great on an expensive table, and a discount-outlet pillow can live right next to an expensive custom pillow.   DO embrace pieces that are well designed, regardless of price.
DON’T be seduced by a sale price.  It may seem like you’re saving money at the time but if it doesn’t work, then it’s not a good value.  DO consider consulting a designer.  Even a brief consultation can help you create an overall budget and plan to create a cohesive environment and save you money in the long run.








How does Homeownership Impact Your Net Worth?

Last week, we explored the cost of waiting a year to buy a home, and continuing to rent. Let’s take that one step further, and compare the “net worth” of the average American who owns a home versus one who rents a home.

As we all know, homeownership lost some of its allure as a financial investment over the last six years. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth.  The following are some statistics extrapolated from a Federal Reserve study by Keeping Current Matters that formally answered this question.

In this study (which took place from 2007-2010), it was determined that:

  • The average American family has a net worth of $77,300
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($47,500) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over thirty times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $174,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,100

Net Worth pic







The bottom line is that this study by the Federal Reserve shows that owning a home is still a great way for a family to build wealth.  If this isn’t compelling information about the benefit of home ownership, I don’t know what is!  If you’re looking to increase your net worth through home ownership, please contact me.  I’d love to help.

Net Worth2

The Cost of Waiting A Year

Over the past month, I’ve had a couple of clients decide that they were “just going to rent” for a year, and resume their home search next year, in hopes that the overall inventory will improve.  While I absolutely respect their decision, it’s unfortunate that when they do decide to buy again, it will cost them more.  Or they may not be able to afford the same kind/size of home they originally wanted.

In a recent article, Freddie Mac predicted that although they expect interest rates to remain relatively stable over the next six months, they do anticipate rates to rise to around 5% within a year.  In addition, home prices are expected to appreciate an average of 4% for the nation (however, the Puget Sound region often sees higher appreciation than the rest of the country).  Below is a table from the Keeping Current Matters blog illustrating how these two factors will impact the purchase of a new home a year from now:

Cost of Waiting a Year

As you can see, waiting for a year to buy a new home could significantly impact your monthly payment.  Inventory has actually slightly improved a bit over the last couple of months, and interest rates remain steady.  If you are considering making a move, now is a great time.  Contact me to get started!

Q&A: Thinking About Moving in a Few Years – Remodeling the Bathroom

Q: Lynly, my family will likely be moving in about three years from our home. We have done nice updating throughout the house, but our master bathroom is woefully in need of some updating as it was last updated in the early 80’s. Does it make sense to remodel?

A: While you will likely not recoup everything you put into your bathroom remodel, it may indeed be worth the time and effort. Furthermore, if your home can stand out from the competition when it does come time to sell, you may benefit from a shorter time on the market and higher sale price. Of course, until then, you can enjoy your bathroom.

According to Remodeling Online, their Cost Vs. Value Report, if a bathroom were remodeled and the house sold within one year, an average rate of return was 84.9%. The average spent was $12,918 with $10,970 recouped.

However, if the floorplan of your bathroom doesn’t need attention and your cabinets are in good shape, you may be able to get away with a much less-intensive remodel. Here are three simple upgrade ideas that can boost appeal relatively quickly…

1.  Add a glass tile backsplash to an older sink/vanity.
blog post - bathroom glass tile backsplash
Glass tile backsplashes are quite easy to install, and they instantly impart a newer feel to older bathrooms.  The photo below shows how a new backsplash livens up an original 1970’s vanity.

2.  Replace hardware, mirrors, and lighting.
blog bathroom - awesome-vanity-mirrors
Something as simple as a new faucet or modern style drawer handles can add pizzazz to an older vanity.  If mirrors and lighting are dated, swap them out for a more contemporary style.  Oiling a worn out oak cabinet with Danish Oil can revitalize the wood and make it look much newer.

3.  Replace old flooring with resilient vinyl plank flooring.
blog - bathroom contemporary-vinyl-flooring
‘Resilient’ tile and plank is a new generation of high quality vinyl that looks like tile and hardwood.  It is easy to install and holds up well in areas that are prone to water damage, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.  Note:  Interlocking planks may be easier to install than the self-stick variety, and they are also easier to remove later on.

If you’d like more ideas on what you might do to update other areas of your home, feel free to send me an email.  I’d be happy to give you my opinion!


For Sale By Owner…Is it REALLY Worth It?

When it comes time to sell your home, perhaps the thought of placing a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the front yard and doing the job yourself may seem appealing. The most appealing being the money you may save if you cut out the real estate broker. However, there’s a lot more to the job than just sticking a sign out on the lawn and for some, the headache, potential liability, and the work/time involved may not be worth the “perceived” savings.  Below is a great infographic (courtesy of Keeping Current Matters) outlining some significant statistics, as well as some key factors to consider when thinking about selling your home on your own:


Negotiating Ability
This may be the most oft-overlooked part of the do-it-yourself (DIY) process, and one that should not be considered lightly. Do you possess the skill set necessary to successfully negotiate the sale of one of your most valuable possessions? Can you effectively manage the process through to a close against a seasoned broker or real estate lawyer?
Remember that you may be up against professionals who are keep negotiators and know the sale process very well. As such, they may suggest all sorts of terms and conditions that sound reasonable but really aren’t in your best interest.

Legal Issues
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the home selling process involves contracts and closings, for which you will require the services of an expert who understands contracts and can steer the process to a legally sound conclusion. Many closings have been marred by legal niceties that led to unexpected outcomes or, worse, lawsuits, and ultimately a failure to sell at a price and time of your own choosing. 

The Eccentricity Factor
Are you reducing the number of potential buyers because you haven’t listed with a reputable real estate broker? Some buyers will be apprehensive about engaging a “for sale by owner” simply because it’s not the norm.  For a lot of buyers, an established brand name and a sales professional with polish are more palatable. Ask yourself whether your decision takes you outside the real estate “mainstream.”

Your Time
There is little doubt that you can fill an agent’s shoes and sell your own home – but it will take preparation to do it successfully. How much time do you have? And what’s your time worth? In the end, you need to determine whether your investment of time and energy will be repaid by the commission you save.

If you’d like more information on my strategies to successfully selling your home, please feel free to drop me a line!


Home Ownership Cost in the Top 25 U.S. Cities

An interesting infographic was posted this week from the highly regarded real estate blog, Keeping Current Matters.  It shows the average cost of homes all over the country, as well as the salary required to own these homes in each of these cities.  While I wasn’t surprised that San Francisco is at the top of the list, I was a little surprised that New York City wasn’t higher!  (Oh, and by the way, if you’re planning a move to one of these cities – or any other city in the near future – I have a network of amazing real estate brokers all over the country, and would be delighted to help you find a great broker to help you.)

Blog post - US Avg Home Prices

Seven Good Reasons to Own a Home

I read this article last week and thought it would be appropriate to share as we head in to the month of April, aka: Tax-Time!  Trulia’s “Real Estate and Lifestyle” expert, Brian Corbett, explains seven good reasons to own a home.

“The financial benefits of homeownership are evident year round, but particularly around tax time – they seem to jump off the page. Let’s examine how homeownership makes “cents” –  from the tax benefits, to good old fashioned financial stability.

1. Homeownership Builds Wealth Over Time
We were always taught growing up that owning a home is a financially savvy move. Our parents knew it, and their parents knew it. But this past decade of real estate turbulence has shaken everyone’s confidence in homeownership. That is why it’s so important that we discuss this again now that we’re in a ‘new market.’ Homeownership can be a very savvy financial move – but only if people buy homes they can actually afford. In 2014, this idea of sticking to a home you can afford to gradually build wealth is a “rule” that just happens to be new and old at the same time.

2. You Build Equity Every Month
Your equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on it. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe.  That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity. That is especially true now with the elimination of risky mortgages like negative amortized and interest-only loans – thanks to the new “Qualified Mortgage” rules. The way mortgages work is that the principal portion of your payment increases slightly every month year after year. It’s lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. Thus, as the months and years go by, your equity grows!

3. You Reap Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits
Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations. For many people this is a huge deduction, since interest payments can be the largest component of your mortgage payment in the early years of owning a home.
Some closing cost deductions: The first year you buy your home, you are able to claim the points (also called origination fees) on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller. And because origination fees of 1 percent or more are common, the savings are considerable.
Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

4. Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lines
In addition to your mortgage interest, you can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit). This allows you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate than the horrendously exorbitant credit card interest rates, and get a deduction on the interest as well.

5. You Get a Capital Gains Exclusion
If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes. Now, it may sound ridiculous that your house could be worth more than when you purchased it after these past several years of falling house prices. However, if you purchased your home anytime prior to 2003, chances are it has appreciated in value and this tax benefit will come in very handy.

6. A Mortgage Is Like a Forced Savings Plan
Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan. Each month you are building up more valuable equity in your home. In a sense, you are being forced to save—and that’s a good thing.

7. Long Term, Buying Is Cheaper than Renting
In the first few years, it may be cheaper to rent. But over time, as the interest portion of your mortgage payment decreases, the interest that you pay will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. But more importantly, you are not throwing away all that money on rent. You gotta live someplace, so instead of paying off your landlord’s home or building, pay off your own!

As always, you must look very hard at your personal situation before making the big decision to buy.”  To read the article online, click here.

If you think you’d like to explore the option of home ownership, but aren’t sure where to start, drop me a line at  I can open doors for you…

A Simple Way to Update Your Fireplace!

Are there things in your home that you would like to update, but don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of “replacing” them?  A colleague of mine posted this article on her Facebook page recently, and I thought it was a brilliant idea!

A designer name Patti Houston who wrote a blog post for Flüff (a furniture rental and home staging company located in Vancouver, Canada) explains how to transform accent pieces on a fireplace from a dated brass to a sleek and neutral black color.  All you need is three supplies (TSP, steel wool, and a high-heat matte black paint) that cost around a total of $25, and it only takes about 20 minutes!  Read Patti’s blog post for step-by-step directions…  Pretty cool!


Do I Really Need To Do a Home Inspection?

If you haven’t already heard, all signs are pointing towards another “robust” real estate market this spring!  If you are thinking about buying a home, you may be wondering if you really need an inspection. After all, in areas with low inventory, buyers are competing for homes and indicating the inspection be waived left and right. As a buyer, you may be looking at a newer home and are wondering if you need to go to the time and expense of having the home inspected. However, I always recommend potential buyers get a home inspection before signing on the dotted line.

If you are in a highly-competitive market, one option is to get a pre-inspection before the offer is written instead of putting an inspection contingency in the offer to purchase. With a pre-inspection the buyer can learn all the possible fixes the property needs ahead of time and can decide whether they want to move forward with an offer or not. The benefit to this is the buyer can then waive that requirement in order to close the transaction, which is more attractive to sellers. The challenge is that the buyer needs to pay for the pre-inspection, yet there is no guarantee that the seller will accept their offer which could be a several-hundred dollar expense. Additionally, the buyer may decide not to move forward with the offer in the event there are too many fixes that would need to be negotiated – fixes that other buyers may choose to overlook.

If you are looking at a newer property, it may be tempting to save that inspection money, but even brand-new homes can have problems that would only be found during an inspection. For example, seals on windows can break as the house is settling, bug infestations, and even incorrectly-installed siding are issues that can spell big trouble down the line if the builder doesn’t get them fixed right away.

Additionally, some lenders require an inspection or for certain building parameters to be met before they will allow a loan to be taken on the property. This is especially true for government lenders such as FHA.

Even if a home is being sold “as is”, it is worthwhile to have an inspection done so you can get an idea of what it would cost to do the needed renovations. A buyer may think that damage is cosmetic only but after the purchase when the renovations begin, that cosmetic damage can turn into a structural nightmare when walls are torn down and contractors begin taking a closer look at things like water damage, pest damage, and incorrectly-installed plumbing and wiring.

Having an inspection gives you the opportunity to get to know the bones of the home and discover the minor or major issues of the property – important information for any future homeowner. There isn’t a home out there that is perfect – but as the buyer you owe it to yourself to choose how imperfect of a home you want to live in. For more information, give me a call at 425.681.7838.

A Blast From the Past!

A few months ago, I listed and sold a great little home located in the popular Sunset Hill area of Ballard.  This home was so charming and unique, that I was contacted by the editor of a popular “home renovation” website called, asking if the home could be featured in their “time capsule” blog series.  Read this fantastic write-up about this home by the editor.  (My favorite part was reading all of the comments left by readers at the bottom of the post!)

Additionally, in December, put together a list of their “Top 10 Time Capsule Homes for 2013,” and can you guess which home was voted #1?  Yes – you guessed it…this Ballard Charmer!  See the complete list here. 

It was an honor and a pleasure to sell this home, and I hope the new buyers will be very happy there for years to come!

Ballard House