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:
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.
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.
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.
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
- Before meeting with contractors, gather photos of designs and ideas that you like; this will make it much easier to communicate your ideas.
- 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.
- 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.
- Incorporate lighting into your design, which will extend its usability into the evening and throughout the seasons.
- 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
The local real estate market—already the hottest in the country—set yet another price record in April. The number of homes for sale dropped 27 percent compared to a year ago, the lowest amount of inventory ever recorded for a spring month. The historically low supply of homes is making competition among buyers fierce. Sellers are in the enviable position of being able to structure sales agreements to include concessions such as rent-backs and longer closing time so they can take the time to find their next home.
Home prices are growing faster in our region than anywhere else in the country. After a brief slowdown last month, home prices in February jumped to new record highs. The reason? The lowest number of homes for sale on record. The surge in prices came well ahead of the normal seasonal spring uptick, adding even greater urgency among buyers competing for already severely limited inventory. It remains to be seen if the predicted hike in interest rates will help moderate the market. For now, sellers are calling the shots.
Tasteful remodel in Bellevue’s beloved Somerset, where commuting is a breeze and schools are prized! Nearly every surface has been touched with today’s real-living in mind: quartz, stainless, and cherry custom cabinetry in new open concept kitchen. Sleek finishes in remodeled baths. Resilient IPA hardwoods. Cozy lower level rec room with gas fireplace. Updated systems and low maintenance tile roof. Park-like grounds create serene setting with Somerset Elementary and playground half a block away.
Open Saturday and Sunday 1 – 4 pm
Link to more information here
Check out this fantastic new townhouse listing. Light filled corner lot across from the park. Details here.
At a time of year when sales traditionally slow down, September saw particularly strong sales growth. Home prices rose yet again compared to the same time last year, but they remain below the peak of several months ago. And inventory, while still low, is at its highest level in two years. The local real estate market continues to be one of the hottest in the country, but there are signs that prices may be rising more slowly than they did in the first half of the year.
Home prices on the Eastside remain very strong. The September median price of $750,000 was a healthy 10 percent increase over last September. Inventory remains very low with just over a month supply of homes. Demand in this sought-after market continues to overwhelm the number of properties available for sale.
While homes prices were up by double-digits compared to a year ago, the market frenzy that has affected most of this year is showing some signs of moderating. With the exception of the Eastside, prices for most of the region were down from their peak. Home sales generally outpaced the same period a year ago, but a shortage of inventory continues to tip the advantage in favor of sellers.
Bucking the trend of moderating prices, the Eastside saw the median home price soar 14 percent over last year to a new record high of $769,000. That eclipses the previous peak of $760,000 in May of this year. Very tight inventory in this highly desirable market was reflected in flat sales growth compared to a year ago.
Seamlessly Integrated Indoor/Outdoor Space This special residence was designed for people who seek a peaceful respite from busy urban life, but wish to be close the conveniences that living in the city brings. Set at the top of Somerset Hill and located on a quiet street backing to a greenbelt. Beautifully updated with high-end finishes throughout. Gourmet kitchen featuring Wolf, Dacor, Sub-Zero, Bosch and Viking. Walls of windows frame the tree lined views of Lake Sammamish and Cascade mountain range. Short walk to Somerset Elementary and Rec Club, or drive to neighborhood shops and dining. Easy commute to downtown Seattle and Bellevue and Sea-Tac airport. Award winning Bellevue Schools, Somerset, Tyee, Newport High You’ll love living here! 4408 144th Ave SE, Bellevue $1,298,000
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.
Beautifully remodeled NW Contemporary with inviting wood-wrapped day rooms, vaulted ceilings and multiple decks to enjoy the surrounding greenbelt. Extensive use of natural materials such as exposed cedar ceilings & beams. So many improvements in the last four years. New roof, interior & exterior paint, remodeled kitchen and baths, new hardwood floors and so much more. Must see to appreciate! All this plus some of the top schools in the nation – Somerset, Tyee Middle and Newport High School.
Check out the listing here for more photos and information.