At Home in the Outdoors

More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider:

DECK

Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment (see the Tips column for data).

Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much.

Expanding and reconfiguring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity.

PATIO

Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping.

Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built.

GAZEBO

For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional).

Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings.

OUTDOOR KITCHEN

People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen is outdoors, it creates an ideal opportunity to mix, mingle and interact in the open air. Other reasons why cooking outdoors makes so much sense: less kitchen cleanup, the house stays cooler during the summer, and grilled food just tastes better.

Some may think an outdoor kitchen is only for cooks who host large parties, but homeowners who go this route say they’re more of an extension of the home, and great for daily use.

Designs for outdoor kitchens range from the simple (a grill, limited counter and cabinet space, and maybe a prep sink) to truly independent entities with a refrigerator, an elaborate grill, warming oven, freestanding island with storage space, rolling cart stations, and even a dishwasher. Depending on how elaborate your design, you may be able to list it as a second kitchen when selling your house.

SIX PLANNING SUGGESTIONS

  1. Before meeting with contractors, gather photos of designs and ideas that you like; this will make it much easier to communicate your ideas.
  2. Make sure the materials you plan to use, as well as the overall size of the structure, will be harmonious with your home’s current look and feel.
  3. Give serious consideration to a roof – which will likely add significantly to the cost, but will also provide much-needed shade on hot days and protection from rain and inclement weather. In fact, to ensure things are structurally sound and architecturally appealing, start with the design for the roof first, then set your sights on the roof supports and structure below.
  4. Incorporate lighting into your design, which will extend its usability into the evening and throughout the seasons.
  5. Consider convenience, comfort, and longevity when choosing materials. For example, a floor made of dirt or stepping stones may last forever, but one made of wood or concrete is much easier to clean and arrange furniture upon.

If you’re eager to live a healthier lifestyle and reconnect with family and friends, as most people are today, it’s time to consider an outdoor living space.

from the Windermere Blog

Posted on May 24, 2017 at 8:45 am
Stephanie Kristen | Category: preparing your home, real estate

Client Success Story – Moving to the Lake

clarke

On the 4th of July, friends were out on Lake Washington enjoying the sunshine and a day of boating.  They got to talking and decided they wanted to live on the water.  They were now empty-nesters and ready to make the move.  They got home, started looking online and found a house that they were interested in.  They called me and we got together the following day to start to make a plan on how to make it possible.

We discussed the elements of an offer.  The listing had been on the market a few weeks and we decided to make the offer contingent on the sale of their house.  After going back and forth on a few things, we reached an agreement and their offer was accepted.  Now we had to get their house on the market and get it sold.

We negotiated some extra time in order to get their house ready. Then my team leaped into action.  In the matter of two weeks, we met with the stager, installed new carpet, paint, granite countertops, and light fixtures. We had carpets, windows and the whole house cleaned.  The house was inspected, and the furnace was serviced. We were ready for photographer.

And then on Thursday, we got a call from the listing agent.  We were getting bumped. That meant we had 2 business days to get their house sold… and the photographer hadn’t even been to the house yet. We had until Monday at 9 pm to remove the contingency.   We discussed strategy and activated the listing while waiting for the professional photos to come back.  We decided to hold the house open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then review offers on Monday. We were cutting it close.

By networking with other agents, contacting those with buyers in the neighborhood, and online advertising, we had about 70 groups through their property.  When we sat down to review offers, we had four offers and the property sold for over list price with the inspection and appraisal waived.  We were able to remove the contingency on their purchase and proceed toward closing.

So from what started as an idea out on the water with friends, became a reality when they moved into their new waterfront home a short two months later. It’s so exciting when it works out so well.  It was a lot of work in short time frame, but by working together it had a very happy ending.

Posted on September 20, 2016 at 9:50 pm
Stephanie Kristen | Category: bellevue, listings, marketing, preparing your home, real estate, seattle, somerset

Free Recycling Event

Recycling Event

Time for Spring Cleaning.  Bring all your recyclable items (working or not) to the event. This Saturday, May 28th to Windermere Bellevue South.

ALL RECYCLING SERVICES ARE FREE!

Items to Bring:  Any electronics working or non, whole or parts – 

Computers & Parts, Printers, Fax Machines, Phones, Record Players, Speakers, Radios, Game Systems, VCRs, Christmas Tree Lights, Appliances (any size, no limit), Car Batteries, Computer Batteries, Medical Equipment, Ink Toner & Cartridges.

Do not Bring:  Please no TVs, Wood, Glass, Chemicals, Paint, Household Alkaline Batteries or Light Bulbs.

Let me know if you will be coming or if I can help in transporting items.

Posted on May 26, 2016 at 8:16 pm
Stephanie Kristen | Category: community, giving back, preparing your home, service providers

Red Carpet Service

Everybody loves getting the red carpet treatment.  You feel special and well taken care of.  That is just what we have experienced with these two carpet service providers. 

Continue reading

Posted on October 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm
Stephanie Kristen | Category: preparing your home, service providers

Preparing your Home for Sale (or Living) – Curb Appeal

We all know it, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  That couldn’t be truer when it comes to the exterior of your house.  So often people focus on the staging and updating of the interior, but how a home looks outside sets the tone for the whole showing.

So here are some easy, low-cost tips for creating curb appeal.

Continue reading

Posted on May 22, 2015 at 5:21 pm
Stephanie Kristen | Category: marketing, preparing your home, real estate

Preparing your Home for Sale (or Living) – Declutter

 

I love helping people get their homes ready for sale.  It is always so rewarding to see the final product in the professional photos.  We invariably hear comments like, “I’d buy this house!” or “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” I decided to post a series of blogs with the things I do to help a seller prepare their house for market.  I hope to inspire you to consider doing some of these things now so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So the first thing we do is focus on what I believe is the highest Return on Investment and that is decluttering.  After a client decides to work with us, we deliver boxes to help them start the purge.  Packing up the seasonal or seldom used items is good, but instead of storing them, consider getting rid of them.  I know that the way we live in a home and the way we sell a home are often two different things, but I believe if you take some time to lighten the load it creates a space you enjoy coming home to.

Now is a great time to start the spring cleaning and here are a couple of resources to help.

Continue reading

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 5:33 pm
Stephanie Kristen | Category: marketing, preparing your home, real estate