Eastside Farmer’s Markets are Back!

The highly anticipated Eastside Farmer’s Markets are back!  This is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy some fresh local produce, and with a multitude of Markets in different locations and cities, chances are there is one near you!  The markets have an array of items on display, from organic meats, cheeses, bread and eggs, fresh cut flowers, as well as gourmet food!  Many feature arts and crafts vendors and entertainment such as live music, cooking demonstrations or children’s activities.  See below for locations and times for the Farmer’s Market nearest you!

Come join us for some fun in the sun and support our local farmers and vendors!

Bellevue Farmers Market

May 17-Oct. 11 3-7 p.m. Thursdays,
First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue,
1717 Bellevue Way N.E.
Crossroads Farmers Market
May 22-Oct. 9 Noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays,
Crossroads Bellevue parking lot next to Circuit City,
15600 N.E. Eighth St.
Bothell Farmers Market
May 21-Sept. 28 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays,
Country Village in Bothell,
23806 Seventh Ave. S.E.
Issaquah Farmers Market
Thru Oct. 13 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays,
Pickering Barn,
1730 10th Ave.
Kirkland Wednesday Market
Thru Oct. 10 Noon-6 p.m. Wednesdays,
Park Lane East between Third and Main streets.
Free parking available in the Kirkland Library parking garage,
308 Kirkland Ave.
Friday Night Market at Juanita Beach
June 1-Oct. 5 3-7 p.m. Fridays,
Juanita Beach Park,
9703 N.E. Juanita Drive, Kirkland.
Redmond Saturday Market
May 23-Oct. 27 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays,
7730 Leary Way.
Woodinville Farmers Market
May 23-Oct. 13 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays,
Woodinville Village,
Northeast 145th Street and Woodinville-Redmond Road.

Mother’s Day is a Special Day

In the spirit of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, May 10th, we wanted to share some of our favorite Mother’s Day quotes and stories.  Remember, not everyone is lucky enough to have a mother, or maybe their mother has passed on…  So, whether with you physically or in spirit, remember to thank your mom for everything she has done for you, and for how she has inspired you and helped you to become the strong person you are today.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~Tenneva Jordan

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs… since the payment is pure love.  ~Mildred B. Vermont

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.  ~Irish Proverb

A baby asked God, “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so10 small and helpless?”

“Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

The child further inquired, “But tell me, here in heaven I don’t have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.”

God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel’s love and be very happy.”

Again the child asked, “And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don’t know the language?”

God said, “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”

“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?”

God said, “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”

“Who will protect me?”

God said, “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking it’s life.”

“But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.”

God said, “Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, “God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”

“You will simply call her, ‘Mom.’”

Make sure if you are lucky enough to spend time with your Mother or loved one this Sunday, that she knows how much you truly appreciate her and all she does.

It’s EARTH Day – Time to think GREEN

Sure, we all try and be as environmentally friendly as possible each day throughout the year, but Earth Day is a great reminder of why it’s important to think Green on a daily basis.  Below are 10 easy steps to helping the environment on a more regular basis.

1. Change your light bulbs – Seems pretty simple, right?  What’s easier than simply swapping out a few light bulbs?  To see the biggest change, use Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL), as they use about 75% less electricity and last about 10X longer.

2. Recycle - Sometimes I think we overthink this.  If you’re not a someone who recycles regularly and has a method to the madness, start simple.  An easy way to get going is by starting to set your glass and plastic bottles aside in a separate bin.

3. Ditch the bottled water – It’s said that roughly 90% of plastic bottles are not recycled – WHAT?!  To avoid being one of the obvious masses here, get a pitcher with a filter in it, this will make a huge difference!

4. Shorten your showers – It’s understandable that this is not something we can do daily, but think about this: Every 2 minutes you can save on your shower can save more than TEN gallons of water.  Think about that next time you take the average ten-minute shower…

5. Turn off computers at night – This is very simple.  We rely on “power save mode” when we are not using our computers, which is understandable, but turn them off at night.  The amount of electricity you’ll save is worth the extra minute or two to reboot in the morning.

6. Turn off everything with an LED - “Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw energy,” said Better Homes and Gardens. Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Unplug appliances and electronics that glow and you could save $200 a year.”

7. Don’t forget about video games - Getting your kids into the habit of turning the games off when they’re done is an easy and simple way to save on electricity AND money.

8. Slash your junk mail – It’s estimated that the average American receives 40 pounds of junk mail a year!  That equates to roughly 100 million trees!?  Can we say ‘unsubscibing frenzy’?  This will not only help you cut down on your environmental impact, but save you space in your mailbox, time shuffling through your mail everyday, and last but not least – your sanity.

9. Stop paying your bills - Unfortunately, we don’t mean this literally. :(  It’s estimated that we could save roughly 20 million trees a year if Americans opted to pay their bills online and/or received e-statements.

10. Buy some new appliances – Simply put, buy appliances that have an Energy Star label.  Better Homes and Gardens states “A household with Energy Star products uses about 30 percent less energy than the average household—an annual savings of about $570. You may even be eligible for a tax credit when you purchase an Energy Star product.”

Hope these energy-efficient tips help you all with being more environmentally friendly while putting a few extra dollars back in your pockets! ;)

As I prepare to sell my house, I am reminded….

As I prepare to list and sell my house, I am reminded of all of the things my clients have to do to get their house on the market.  Looking at it from a hands-on experience, it really gives you a different perspective on all the work that goes into the process, and really makes me wish I stayed on top of my spring cleaning more.  This has inspired me to take another look at my “Spring Cleaning Checklist”, and makes me realize, had I stayed on top of these a little better over the years, I wouldn’t have as much scrambling and clutter to go through now that the time has come to sell.

Store Seasonal Clothing – This one is not as relevant for selling my home, but definitely nice to have a seasonal closet full of clothes you actually wear on the regular.  When warmer spring weather arrives, you can efficiently stow away sweaters, coats, and other cold weather clothing. Storing seasonal clothing is easy to do, just make sure that the storage containers and areas are clean, cool, dark, and dry will keep clothing in good shape for next winter.

Clutter Control - This has never been more relevant.  Going through the attic, garage, storage, I keep finding things we haven’t used in YEARS!  Sometimes I have to wait until my husband isn’t looking so I can get rid of the things he “wants to keep” but I know he would never notice missing. :)  Old paperwork is a huge clutter area for me.  Going through my attic, I am finding boxes of old documents I haven’t needed in ages.  Good thing Windermere is having their annual “Get Your Shred On” Event soon!  Here is also a great resource for getting rid of old computers, electronics, etc.

Patios and Outdoor Areas – Spring is a great time to get the outdoors ready for entertaining. Clean the patio and outdoor furniture. Do some basic landscaping repairs on the lawn, shrubbery, and plants. The exterior doors and windows of the home may need some attention. Check for fence and exterior repairs. Lawn maintenance or pest prevention may need to be performed as well. Don’t forget that outdoor cleaning projects are great to involve the whole family. With a little effort this spring, outdoor areas will be ready to entertain throughout the summer.  Keeping up on these yearly can save you a TON of time and hassle down the road if you ever need/decide to sell.  Not just that, but it makes sitting outside much more enjoyable in the spring and summer time!

Window Treatments – Again, never been more relevant.  Whether you need to wash blinds, send drapes to the dry cleaners, or throw washable curtains into the washing machine, getting your window treatments clean after a long winter can brighten an entire room.  Make sure sure to dust down the window casing, wash window sills, and clean any window hardware while you are at it.  This will make your entire room will feel brighter and fresher, and the more you keep up on it, the easier it is to clean each time!

Ceiling Fans – We’ve all seen those gross, dusty ceiling fans, right?  Constant and yearly upkeep on your ceiling fan saves you headaches down the road!  Take a few minutes to spring clean the ceiling fans in your home. An entire season of dust and buildup will need to be cleaned away before we can enjoy these fans.

Outdoor Grills – This is less about prepping my home for sale (we are taking our BBQ with us), and more about that first spring get-together, when you invite all your friends over and realize….  ”I haven’t cleaned the grill since last summer!!?”  Don’t wait until it’s too late and your guests are asking what “secret spice” you used on the steaks!  Get out there and scrub that baby down…  You, your food, and your guests will thank you for it!

This list is just a few of the things I try to do during my yearly spring cleaning, but these in particular are some that, over the years, have slipped through the cracks.  Therefore, now that I am getting ready to sell my home, the perfectionist in me is keeping me up at night making sure everything in my home is spotless!  Fact of the day?  Regular upkeep around your home, with yearly ‘spring cleaning’ (doesn’t have to be just you – make it a family event!) can save copious amounts of hard work down the road.

Why NOW is the Time to Sell

Historically, spring is the best time to put your house up for sale; that stat could never be more clear in this market.  With interest rates still low and many cash-buyers and investors still out there, we have an overload of buyers with very little inventory.  Here are 3 great reasons why this is a benefit to the seller, and why now is the time to take advantage of it!

1. Low housing supply: Tight inventory is a main reason the ball is still in the sellers’ court.  Having a low inventory tends to increase home prices, shorter market time, and in many cases, can create multiple offer situations.

2. Higher interest rates: While mortgage rates remain low, experts predict more buyers will enter the market in the coming months.

The Federal Reserve’s recent hint that higher interest rates are coming sooner rather than later could prompt buyers to start their house hunt in order to take advantage of lower mortgage rates.

With interest rates expected to escalate, we will definitely be seeing an influx of buyers hit the market to try and take advantage of the rates before they get too high.

3. Rising rents: Rising rental prices could motivate tenants to make the leap into home ownership.  Rent prices have risen 15% nationwide in the past five years in 70 metro areas across the U.S. and income growth hasn’t kept up, according to NAR.

Getting more buyers into the market, especially first-timers, can help sellers feel more comfortable about their prospects.

Higher rental rates can be a double-edge sword, though.  With rental prices getting so expensive, it makes it difficult to save money for the down payment on a home.  This takes us to another blog post we recently did called: Get off your Butt and BUY A HOUSE! – See what we did there? ;)

Spring Cleaning is Here!!

Now that spring has officially arrived, it’s time to dust off the cobwebs, put the decorations away, and get your house back in order.  Here is a quick list to help you get your home ready for the sun-filled days ahead!

Inspect your home – head-to-toe: Find a dry weekend afternoon, and go through your home, inspecting it to to ensure it weathered the winter storm.  Check the roof for leaks, gutters for damage, and check your exterior for any cracks.  It would also be in your best interest to check the basement/foundation for any shifts that occurred during the winter season.  Remember, better to fix and make repairs now to prevent further damage and future issues.

Clean your gutters: Get in there and clean out the leaves, etc. that have built up over the winter season.

Pest Control: The cold weather during the winter months are a pest’s favorite time to snuggle up somewhere in your home.  Therefore, now is the time to get your yearly pest inspection done and rid your home of any unwanted guests.

A / C Maintenance: If you are one lucky enough to enjoy the pleasures of an Air Conditioning System in your home, now is the time to inspect it to ensure it is working properly.  We have a limited window up here in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the cool breeze of an air conditioned room, so it’s in your best interest to make sure you can take advantage of it!

Rid the Clutter: Do a clean sweep of your home and clear it of any unneeded clutter that has built up over the winter and holiday months.  This not only makes your home look much cleaner and more ready for spring BBQs and Summer get-togethers, but it’s a great de-stresser as well!

Deep Clean: Now that all of the clutter has been removed, it’s time to get out the elbow grease and do a deep cleaning of your home.  Dust, wipe, scrub and polish all the tables, counters, floors, chimneys, and every other nook and cranny in the home.  This will bring a fresh feel to your home after the bogged down winter months!

Landscaping Maintenance: If you’re like the majority, your yard and landscaping doesn’t get a ton of attention during the wet, winter months.  Now is the time to get out there, give it a fresh mow, the trees and bushes a fresh cut, and re-plant your favorite spring plants and flowers.

Spring and summer are all about nice weather, fun get togethers with friends and family, BBQs and being outside.  What better way to start prepping for all of this fun in the sun than getting your home in order for the first big Spring Fling gathering.  Make your friends and family jealous and show your home off with pride!

Attain Housing’s 6th Annual Fighting Homelessness Benefit Luncheon

Today marked Attain housing’s 6th Annual Luncheon Event to raise awareness and help fight homelessness in our community.  What a great event it turned out to be!  We nearly doubled our number from last year!!  We had the amazing Thach Nguyen – Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, and Author of “Dream Big” give an incredibly insightful and empowering speech.  Thach himself was homeless as a child, and has devoted much of his life to giving back and helping local communities.  We at Attain Housing  look forward to teaming up with Thach in future endeavors and continue to raise the awareness together!

For those who don’t know Attain Housing’s mission is bringing our community together to partner with homeless families by providing affordable housing and empowering them with practical case management and hope.  You can find out more about Attain Housing (formerly KITH) and how you can help from their website.  More photos from the event are below.

I-405 Toll!?

It is becoming more and more realistic that our beloved Interstate 405 will have a toll for drivers traveling between Bellevue and Lynnwood.  The Washington State Department of Transportation, or WSDOT, considers I-405 the most congested highway in the state, and feel that this will relieve some of the traffic.  The average toll rate would range between $.75 and $4 on an average day, but would spike to as high as $10 for drivers with a Good-to-Go Pass (an extra $2 for drivers who choose to pay by mail) during peak hours, which WSDOT considers between 5-9am and 3-7pm.  Motorcyclists and carpool lanes will be exempt at all times, but the WSDOT is considering upping the requirement for the carpool lane to 3 people, as opposed to the current 2.

“This is a really big step,” said Project Director Kim Henry. “This has taken us almost a dozen years to get to this point where we are today. This is really important because we need to provide congestion relief. I think people would like to see a reliable trip and this is a system that is going to help them get a reliable trip.”

How would this affect your daily commute?  Would you be content on paying these prices with the sole hope that it would relieve traffic?  You have the option to voice your opinion!  The commission is scheduled to adopt its toll rate proposal at a final meeting on March 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Kirkland City Hall.  A couple dozen people who regularly drive the 405 showed up to a recent City Hall meeting and shared their concerns:

“We are already paying a gas tax and all the other taxes that go along with living in King County,” said Michael Kranz.

“I don’t know if I have a problem with the tolls, but I have a problem with the three people,” said Peggy Russe.

Anne Haley, the chair of the Transportation Committee responsible for approving the toll rates called the proposal “reasonable.”

What is your take on the tolling situation?  Would you pay the toll or find other means of travel?  Last but not least, the question we all need an answer to…  Do you feel this toll will relieve the traffic situation on I-405 or is this just another way for the state to dip into our pockets?

A Day on the Hill – 2015 Legislative Day

Hill Day is an opportunity to learn about Washington Legislature priorities, meet with our representatives, and provide feedback regarding our recommendations and concerns in support of a healthy economy and access to home ownership.  We as Washington State Realtors are the only organized group who represent homeowners’ issues in the state legislative, therefore, our voices must be heard.  This year, we had the opportunity to attend and make a stand on the important matters and decisions facing us as Realtors, as well as our customers and clients, the homeowners.  400 Washington Realtors and affiliates from around Washington State gathered on January 22 to learn about the current state of local government and meet with their representatives to educate them on the potential impacts of their decisions regarding home ownership and the economy.  We were there to focus on four main concerns as we head into 2015, and we have taken a moment to outline them below.

Extend Current Funding for Washington Center for Real Estate Research: The Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER), part of Washington’s Runstad School of Real Estate Studies, provides research services on a variety of housing and real estate issues.  We are already paying for this as Realtors, as it is funded through a $10 surcharge on all real estate licensees in Washington State.  The WCRER and its form of funding is something that needs to be renewed, and the surcharge as it currently sits, expires in September, 2015 and we were there to ensure it gets extended.

Reform Local and State School Levy Funding: The Supreme Court’s McCleary decision held that our state’s education funding system relies too heavily on local school district levies than state funding.  Realtors consistently support school property tax levies, and supported the constitutional amendment allowing school levies to be passed with 50% approval.  We also support revenue neutral reforms in the structure of state and local tax levies to comply with McCleary and to achieve a more balanced and predictable method of funding basic education for all school districts.

Do No Harm to Real Estate Transactions and Small Businesses: Washington’s real estate industry is stable, but still fragile – especially outside of King County.  Rates of ownership are at historically low levels and many homeowners have yet to recover home equity lost from the recession.  Washington’s tax code is regressive for small businesses like Realtors.  Realtors currently pay B&O tax at the highest regular rate in the state.  Additionally, Washington State already taxes real estate transactions more than almost every other state.  Tax increases on small businesses or capital gains on real estate will harm the real estate industry, homeowners, and the state’s economy.

Provide Transportation and Infrastructure Funding: Washington’s citizens and businesses continue to struggle with traffic conditions that hurt our economy and degrade our quality of life.  Realtors support a statewide transportation funding package that includes gas tax revenues dedicated to priority transportation projects as well as reforms to improve the use of transportation funds.  Basic infrastructure funding through the Public works Trust Fund must be provided for projects that will promote economic growth and public health.

I can’t say enough how much of an honor and privilege it was to be a part of such a historic day.  If you want to see the changes made and necessary steps taken to achieve these changes, you need to be a part of the solution.  This is what Hill Day was all about; our opportunity as Realtors to stand up for the issues concerning not only us as Realtors, but also our state and continued economic growth.

Listing Turn-Offs

First impressions are key, plain and simple.  This is not news to any of us, yet sometimes we allow ourselves as homeowners to look past the first impressions we are giving off and mislead those we are trying to appeal to.  Below is a list of some of the worst listing turn-offs from a home-buyers perspective; some good tips on if and when you are selling your home that you can take advantage of.

Bad Photos.  In the internet-driven society we live in today, your online presence is key, and your photos are the driving factor.  This is not the area to cut corners.  These photos are all over the internet and are your potential buyer’s portal to a first impression of your home.  We as a society are image-driven, so if you have bad photos online, you are really limiting the audience that will want to come see your home.  It is key to hire a professional to take sharp, high-resolution photos from multiple, flattering angles to ensure your home is represented to the best of its ability.

Social Media Presence, or lack thereof. If you are still thinking social media is simply just a trend, you are sadly mistaken; it is here to stay and will only continue to grow.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, among many others, are growing daily.  Ask us for the links to your home, or simply go on Zillow or Trulia, grab the link to your home, and post away!  Your potential buyer could be someone in your own social network!

Staging. Yes, staging really does matter, it’s not just something we as agents tell you to make your home look nice.  To the point that your online presence is one of the major factors in selling your home, staging can obviously enhance your photos.  Another thing though, is it de-personalizes your home, and can really offer your home to the widest demographic of buyers.  You don’t want to sell your home the way you live in it, you want to sell it the way the next buyer will live in it, and professional staging is the best way to achieve that.

Messy, smelly presence. It is very important, if you plan to be living in the home during the listing period, that you keep your home clean and free of all odors.  Make sure the dishes are always done, carpets are kept clean, clothes put away…  Just remember, you are not selling the home the way you live in it, but how your buyers will live in it.  If you have animals, this can be difficult, so try getting some odor-eliminators to limit the smells as much as possible.  Try to stay away from air fresheners and scented candles, etc.  This tends to just act as a cover-up and can be a big turn-off.  Also, many people are allergic to specific scents, so it’s good to avoid these at all costs.

Overpricing. Yes, it is currently a seller’s market, but in this day and age with the online tools we have at our fingertips, many sellers think they can name their price.  Overpricing can lead to a long market time and, in many cases, getting less than market value for your home.  The longer a home sits on the market, the less likely you are to receive your desired price.  It is very important that you hit the market with a realistic, competitive price and that we as agents have comps to support your price.  If you feel your home has a higher value, ask us to take you around for a day to see homes that sold similar to yours, and homes that have had a long market time.  This will help you understand where we derived at your pricing.

Feel free to contact us for more tips on getting your home ready to sell!  Here’s to a great start to 2015! ;)