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The wait is over: Bring on spring

  • Written by Molbak’s Garden+Home

Spring officially started last week. While Mother Nature still has the power to toss some dreary days and soggy stretches our way, she can’t dampen our optimism. The calendar has spoken, and rain or shine, we are now allowed to welcome spring enthusiastically into our hearts and homes. The best part is that it doesn’t take much. Here are some simple ideas to help you get into the springtime swing. 

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Real Estate Transitions: Tips On Preparing Your Home to Sell

  • Written by The Blue Team: Windermere Woodinville

Local home prices are continuing to appreciate, demand is high, and the supply of homes continues to be low – the perfect market for selling your home. So why not just put your home on the market “as is” at a high price and see what happens? Because the statistics clearly show that is not a good strategy for selling your home for the best possible price. Well priced, well marketed, and well prepared homes are selling quickly and for top dollar. Homes that are not selling quickly, even in today’s market, are sitting because they weren’t well priced, well marketed and/or were not well prepared. 

Here are some tips on how you can prepare your home for a top sales price:

• Enhance Your Curb Appeal. Clean the roof, pressure wash walkway/entrance, mow & edge lawn, put down fresh bark, and add a spot of color (flower beds or flower pots). Buyers want to come in to see a house when the outside looks crisp & nicely maintained.

• Prepare the Entry. Make sure your front door/entry is crisp and clean… this sets expectations for buyers as they wait to enter your home and keeps them excited about the potential. Repainting your door has the highest return on value of any remodeling for resale project.

• Depersonalize. You want your home to appeal to as many buyers as possible – by depersonalizing it you help them visualize themselves in the house and not feel like they are trespassing on your home and memories.

• Maximize Space. Declutter, declutter, declutter – throughout the house – walls, floors, counters, shelves. Remember you will need to pack up when you move, doing some of it before you put your home on the market will make a big difference. Help people see where they could put all of their possessions.

• Interior Condition. The interior condition will dictate the price – have it in the best condition possible that is consistent with your pricing strategy. Generally – fresh neutral paint on the walls, clean carpets, clean/refinished floors, sparkling windows, organized cabinets & closets, fresh grout & caulk in the bathrooms – everything should be as crisp and clean as possible. Consider doing a pre-inspection and taking care of all major problems in advance. Make it move-in ready.

• Differentiate. Determine and emphasize what is special about your home – the style, the layout, the view, the privacy, the low maintenance, the local schools etc. Professional staging, feature cards, and in-home marketing materials can all help make sure the buyer knows why they should stop looking after they see your home!

If you would like a complimentary market analysis to understand how to prepare, price and best market your home give us a call. The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing you with the right expertise to guide you in all your Real Estate Transitions!

Real Estate Transitions: Using a Reverse Mortgage to Stay or Move

  • Written by The Blue Team

by The Blue Team: Michelle Blue & Ashley Farrington, Windermere Woodinville

Many people have heard about reverse mortgages but don’t really know what they are.

To put it simply, a reverse mortgage is where the payment stream is "reversed" and instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to you. 

If you, or a loved one, is 62 or older, a reverse mortgage can help convert 50-66 percent of the appraised value into cash without having to sell the home, give up title or take on a new monthly mortgage payment.

It can also be a way to purchase a new home without having to make monthly mortgage payments.

What does that really mean?

• Stay in your home and be able to access part of the equity you have built in order to consolidate debt, eliminate mortgage payments, cover unplanned medical expenses, pay for in-home care, remodel home for current needs, avoid foreclosure, supplement retirement income, or any other need you may have for cash.

• Purchase a new home that provides more affordable living, is smaller and easier to care for, is on a single level or more accessible, is closer to friends or family, or even is the dream home you have always wanted.

• Features of Loan Program: FHA insured, no monthly mortgage payments (must continue to pay home insurance, property taxes, and home maintenance as needed); retain title to home; non-recourse loan (no recourse to borrower/estate/heirs if loan balance exceeds the home’s value at maturity as long as the home is sold to pay off the debt or balance is paid in full if borrower/estate wants to retain property); right to remaining equity (any equity that remains in the property after the reverse mortgage is retired, belongs to borrower/estate/heirs); no time limit on length of time staying in home; mandatory mortgage insurance premium (ensures that the mortgage balance will be paid in full, if the home sells for less than owed); a single set of closing costs when purchasing a home; and funds are available as a line of credit or monthly payment.

• Qualifications: Homeowner must be 62+, the home in name of homeowner and is primary residence, must have at least 50 percent equity in home or ability to make a monetary investment at closing from an allowable funding source, must occupy property within 60 days, mandatory counseling session required, and must be able to and continue to pay taxes and home insurance.

• Eligible Properties: Single family, 1-4 unit, FHA approved condos and town homes, meets minimum FHA property standards, within maximum FHA loan limit ($625K currently), no other 1st or 2nd liens against property and any existing mortgages must be paid off with the loan proceeds.

We are not lenders, but can recommend a fabulous Reverse Mortgage Loan Officer if you’d like to explore this further. The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing a team of experts to guide you in all your real estate transitions!

Crazy for conifers

  • Written by Molbaks

When you hear the word conifer, what do you think of? Aromatic cedars, needle-heavy pines, or perhaps one of the many firs that cover our countryside?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, land of the tall trees, we tend to take conifers a little for granted, and sometimes forget how varied and dramatic these plants can be.

Conifers are a garden staple at Molbak’s. Often called the "backbone" of landscape design, they bring four seasons of color and texture to your yard. And contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just green anymore. You can choose from a wide array of colors: steely- blue, bold gold, vibrant plum and needles iced with snowy-white, many with textured bark and bold, vivid cones that add a splash of color that can change with the seasons.

Conifers come in many sizes, from mini to mighty.  And they grow in a variety of silhouettes — round, weeping, arching and spreading — so whether you use them for tall accents, as background, hedging, as low edging, in containers or even as groundcovers you will find that there is indeed a conifer for every spot.

And the best thing about conifers is that for the most part, they are low maintenance and drought tolerant. Once established, they are largely plant-and-forget shrubs and trees. That’s right – no pruning!

When you are looking to add conifers to your yard, we suggest you take a look at some of these distinctive types we have in our nursery.

Native to Japan, Hinoki cypress are beautiful additions to Pacific Northwest gardenscapes. Unfurling ruffled fans of lacy, textured foliage in gold, plum, white or green, these easy-care conifers come in heights from tiny to tall and a variety of silhouettes. One of the more unusual varieties is "Chirimen," a rare Hinoki cypress  named after Japanese silk.

Cryptomerias are another Japanese native that thrive in our area. These carefree evergreens spread delicate, fine needles in shades of green that change color with the seasons. Accents of red, shredded bark and tiny cones add a mix of texture and dimension. Choose from a variety of silhouettes, from mounding shrubs that are soft to the touch to tall, airy trees. 

Robust Korean firs are prized for their curved, thick needles in shades of green, gold and silver that are arranged in spirals around their branches. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of these easy-care conifers are their large bold purple or red upright cones accented with golden winged seedpods, standing at the end of their branches. One favorite variety is "Silberlocke," boasting elegant silvery needles and large purple cones.

Of course, Molbak’s stocks endless varieties of your other conifer favorites – firs, spruces, yews, pines, junipers and more, most sun-loving, and some for the shade – and all easy to grow and care for. So when you are ready for some carefree color and texture – Go Crazy for Conifers.

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Want to learn more?

March 1, 10-11am

Molbak’s FREE SEMINAR:  Crazy for Conifers

Featuring Jock Demme, Iseli Nursery

Winterize your home

  • Written by Jeff LaFlam, Northshore Fire Dept.

winterize your home imageWith winter weather upon us, we worry about icy roads, frozen plants and just staying warm. Your home, whether it is an apartment, condo or house, also needs special attention this time of year. Freezing temperatures can cause substantial damage to buildings if you are not prepared.

Here are a few tips to help keep you and your home comfortable this winter:

1. Keep your pipes warm. Some of the most expensive winter damage comes from burst pipes. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and in outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing.

Make sure that pipes in cold areas are well insulated, keep sink cabinet doors open to allow warm air to reach the pipes and in severe conditions allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets that are connected to pipes running through unheated spaces.

When you leave your house set the thermostat to no lower than 55°F and if you will be gone for an extended period, consider shutting off your main water supply and draining the pipes by opening the faucets. If you suspect a frozen pipe, don’t take chances, call a plumber. NEVER try to thaw pipes with an open flame as this is a significant fire hazard.

2. Protect the outside of your house. Clean gutters and downspouts so water doesn’t back up and freeze. Cut back tree limbs that could break off and damage your roof. Disconnect garden hoses and protect outside faucets from freezing weather.

3. Prepare emergency kits. Put together an emergency kit for your home and one for your car. You should have a flashlight, batteries, a portable radio and warm clothing. You should also keep extra food and water at home and in your car. For more information on emergency kits, go to http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit.

4. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

One of the most significant winter hazards is carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the improper ventilation of furnaces, generators, portable fueled heaters and fireplaces. Install a CO detector on each level of your home.

While you’re making your home winter-ready, don’t forget fire safety. Test your smoke alarms monthly, take safety precautions with candles, fireplaces, cooking and smoking. These are all potential causes of devastating home fires.

Check out the additional safety information available at www.northshorefire.com.