Return on Investment
If you’re considering having some work done on your house, it’s wise to consider making the right choices. We’ve all seen the HGTV shows that teach us a $20 lamp can yield a $250 improvement in sales price or something silly like that, but if you’re like many of my clients, you’re probably left more confused by these sorts of home improvement shows than you are left informed.
Bottom line? Investing in your home is (almost) always a smart choice. If you’re on the fence about doing it, just do it. But if your goal is getting the most “bang for your buck” with your improvements, there are some things that you should know before breaking out the Home Depot charge card.
We all know that improving a kitchen or a bathroom is the best way to turn a $500 remodel into a $5,000 value, right? But did you know that you’ll actually realize a better return on investment if you do a mid-level upgrade versus a luxury model upgrade?
If you check out this graph, compiled by Redmodel.hw.net, you’ll see that a midline bathroom upgraded yielded an 87.7% cost recoup, while an upscale remodel yielded just a 60.8% recoup on costs. Pretty impressive right?
Turns out, you don’t have to break the bank on your home project to get the best bang for your buck.
The trend continues when you look at a major kitchen remodel. A midline upgrade, defined as one costing in the ballpark of about $70,000, yielded an average 62% cost recoup. Taking a look at an upscale major kitchen remodel, think more in the $125k range, only yielded a 56% recoup on costs.
The trend continues through almost every major area of home improvement, including additions of master suites and bathroom additions.
So, what areas of home improvement should be done at an upscale level?
There are some parts of the home that deserve the extra bang for your buck. The addition of a grand entryway, for example, can recoup 82% of your costs, making it one of the smartest improvements that you can make. Other areas where you should consider an upscale improvement include window replacement. No matter if you choose wood (81% recoup on costs) or vinyl (85% recoup on project costs), you’ll realize a great home improvement by going upscale with windows.
Midscale? Upscale? Just tell me what to do first.
Still confused? Don’t worry, I get it. There are a lot of numbers flying at you right now. Most people can only budget for one major home improvement project at a time, so if you’re staring down a long list of “maybes” and only have time or budget for one improvement, let’s cut to the chase. . .
Are there any home improvements where you can recoup all of your investment?
Are there any improvements that will actually yield a pure profit?
The good news here is that, yes, Virginia, there is a home-improvement Santa Claus. If you’re only going to tackle one project- make it an upscale garage door improvement. Those babies can realize a 120% return on your investment. That means it’s not only “free,” but it will make you money when it is time to sell your home. Since even the most upscale of garage door replacements can be done for under $5,000, this is a smart investment that you should be making right away.
Another sure-fire bet is a midrange stone veneer upgrade to your siding. These are very trendy right now, and reports are showing that this improvement will realize about 120% return on investment. Considering the average project cost for this is generally under ten grand, this is a smart investment.
Finally, consider upgrading your front door to a steel door. At around $1,500, this project has a 95% recoup of costs, making it almost free. Another trending improvement is the addition of a wood deck.
What to put on hold
While it would be nice to do all the upgrades at once, that’s not realistic. According to the reviews I’ve been monitoring, the following improvements have the lowest recoup of investment potential and can safely be saved for another time.
Upscale master suite addition, 51% ROI
Midrange backyard patio addition, 51% ROI
Major, upscale kitchen remodel, 56% ROI
Upscale bathroom addition, 60% ROI
Midrange kitchen remodel, 62% ROI
Upscale bathroom remodel, 62% ROI
Still feel like you could use some home improvement guidance?
The truth is that I find all of this really interesting, and would love to speak with you about it! If you’re confused on where to get started, how to budget, or who to hire to do the work – I’ve got you covered. Feel free to email me or call me and we can schedule a time to talk about your unique home and how best to improve it for your future resale value.
And if you’ve just completed a major home project, I want to see it! Be sure to share it with me on social media!
Home appreciation in the Eastside and Seattle Area has seen pretty large gains in the past several years. On the Eastside September 2017 median sale price was 740,000 vs. September 2018 median sale price of 800,000.
When was the last time you talked with your home insurance professional? It may be time to contact them to mare sure your home is insured at the value it is today! Your home may be your greatest asset — protect yourself and that asset!
Ask your insurance professional the following;
Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
Do I have enough insurance to replace all living expenses?
Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my possessions?
Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
Click here to read the entire article written by the Insurance Information Institute.
If you’re interested in finding out your homes current value please contact me so I can come do a home evaluation. It’s good info to have. You can also sign up for Neighborhood News where you can receive monthly information specific to your zip code.
So, let’s be honest. The best parties are almost always going to be across the bridge in Seattle. While your favorite local bar may have an event closer to home, if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re looking for something a bit more substantial. The Eastside is great, but sometimes being so close to the big city is a big benefit. Here’s a look at 5 great adults only events for Halloween 2018.
- Get on a Boat! Set sail for an epic haunt this year. There are two themed cruises that I was able to track down, both leaving from downtown. Halloween Havoc, which comes with a $50-$150 per person price point, puts you on a yacht with a few of your closest friends, three DJs, and a two-floor dance floor. Learn more about it, here.
- Competing for your maritime money, Hip Hop Halloween also offers a yacht full of costumed adults looking for a good time. This one has a better price point, starting at just $30 a pop. Three DJs and two floors for dancing, but with a more hip-hop centered sound. Both cruises happen on the 27th. Learn more about this one, here.
- HAUNT. Revered as Seattle’s best Halloween experience for adults, this party will cost $69 to walk in the front door. Once inside, you can expect great music from local bands and DJs and nearly 2,000 costumed adults letting go of their inhibitions for the evening. While there is a costume contest, this year there is no theme- so anything goes! Learn about the categories and get your tickets before they sell out! Here’s the link.
- If you insist on staying on the Eastside, Maggianos at Bellevue Square is cooking up something special this year. It’s a murder mystery dinner, and it looks like a great time! The event is for adults 18 and up, and costumes are optional. (But really, wear a costume.) Your $69 ticket includes dinner and a drink (which makes the event almost free) and anyone could be the killer. Even you! Tickets are available at Eventbrite now.
- Finally, here’s a find over in Issaquah. It’s not specific to adults only, but chances are pretty low that parents will be taking their kids to a cemetery tour! This isn’t a party, it’s more of a historical based event. But I love it because not everyone wants to get dressed up and slam Jello-Shots on Halloween, right? Right? At just $20, this is a thrifty find. But buy those tickets quickly, as there are fewer than 30 available.
Looking for family-friendly Halloween fun around the Eastside? I’ve got you covered. Halloween costumes are pricey, and you should absolutely get the most bang for your buck by giving the kids as many opportunities to wear them as possible.
There are plenty of exciting events happening all over the greater Seattle area this year, but here are my picks for closest to the Eastside.
Boo For the Big Kids
This one isn’t for the faint of heart. The haunted experience at Beaver Lake in Sammamish has created a Family Scare event this year. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’d take a two or three-year-old to this event. But older kids? The ones who are too cool for trick-or-treating… but still too young for real haunted houses? This is the perfect event for them. Running weekends only throughout October, the Family Scare event runs from 7-7:45 pm, with the full scare kicking off at 8 pm. Family scare prices are $8 a person cheaper, too.
Also in Sammamish, kick off beggar’s night with a little pre-party at City Hall! Kids are allowed to trek through City Hall from 3 – 4:30 pm on October 31st. The event is free and offers safe trick-or-treating for all ages, but is generally best for small children.
Factor This In
Head to Factoria Marketplace in south Bellevue before beggar’s night for their 9th annual Halloween Bash. Held on October 31, the party is held indoors, which is great for little kids and offers trick-or-treating at merchants as well as other fun activities. The event runs from 4:30pm- 6:30pm.
Kick it Off in Kirkland
Finally, one more event to jump-start your October 31st beggar’s night festivities. The Downtown Kirkland Association always plans experiences that are good family fun and well thought out. I love their Summerfest, and it’s no surprise that their take on Halloween is equally exciting. I love this event so much, that I had to include it, even though the details weren’t out yet when I wrote this post. Check out their webpage for more details as they become available.
For more fun- click here (link) to check out my rundown of best pumpkin patches around the Eastside. These places almost always have something a little special going on for the kiddos around Halloween. And if I’ve missed your favorite family-friendly Halloween event, be sure to share it with me on my social media. I’m always up for a new adventure
It’s a tradition in the PNW unlike any other. Talk to moms from the Midwest about where they pumpkin patch and they’re likely to raise an eyebrow. But out here on the Eastside? Choosing your pumpkin patch for the year is almost as big of a deal as choosing where you’ll vacation in the summer. With different patches offering amazing amenities and activities, competing for your gourd dollars winds up meaning a full day of family fun.
The one major bummer is that, with real estate being as costly as it is on the Eastside, you’re going to have to drive a bit to get to the best pumpkin patches. They’re all great, if I’m being honest, and you’ll enjoy any of them. That said, different patches appeal to different aged kids. Choosing the best one for your family makes the drive more worthwhile.
Here is the lowdown on the pumpkin patch experience!
This one is my pick for big kids. Once you arrive you’ll find acres upon acres of pumpkins as well as a ton of family-friendly attractions. Perhaps the best of all is the massive corn maze on site. The maze is a whopping 10 acres large and always Take a Hikecut into interesting, artistic designs that you can only see from above. I like this maze for the big kids because they specifically offer admission after dark, which is spooky and exciting all by itself! You can also reserve a fire pit to roast marshmallows after you make your epic escape. For the little kids, there are also two smaller corn mazes that are less intimidating. Other free activities include hayrides, a tike track for riding, and a playground area. In addition to your pumpkin, you can also pay to play on big slides, the corn crib (excellent for sensory kids) and fire apples out of the apple cannon. A rope maze, sandpit, and cow-train ride complete your full day experience.
My favorite pick for those with little kids, this is a wonderland for the imagination. On top of the you-pick-pumpkins, you’ll also find admission free fun things to do that enchant the smallest of adventurers. There is a large corn maze that is themed and unintimidating for younger guests, as well as a kid’s adventure maze, miniature golf, and a mouseville themed gift shop. Kids can also pet farm animals. On the weekends you’ll find hayrides, apple slingshots, and face painting, too. Older kids may get a little bored at this one, but for little kids, the value cannot be beaten.
If you’re noticing a nod to Snohomish, it’s not intentional! It just so happened that all of my favorite places are located just north of the Eastside. And, among all of them, The Farm at Swan’s Trail just may be my absolute favorite. It’s a literal adventure wonderland that is well suited for families with kids of all ages. A FIFTY-acre pumpkin patch pretty much guarantees selection wide enough to last the entire season, and you’ll also find a pretty nicely sized petting zoo. On top of that, expect to laugh your tail feather off at the duck races and Farmer Ben’s “Four Little Pig” shows. There are also wagon rides, picnic pavilions, a massive corn maze, and you pick apples. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the barn. It’s a tiny hay bale maze up to the hayloft where kiddos can zip down a slide into a pile of hay. It’s the stuff great photos are made of, friends.
Things really get fun when you get into the paid activities, though. A giant hay bale pyramid for climbing, a ball pit, large slides, an inflatable jumping pillow, rubber duck races, gemstone mining, pedal cart racing, and a cow train all await you. Plan to spend all day at this one, and make family memories that evolve into a tradition your kids will take with them for years to come.
Stocker Farms, Snohomish
Fox Hollow Farm, Issaquah
Remlinger Farms, Carnation
This list is just a short sample of all of the pumpkin farms out there. If nothing here tickles your fancy, here’s a longer list compiled by Red-Tri. If you’re not up for the drive to one of my favorite farms, maybe you can find one closer to your home neighborhood here and tell me all about why you loved it in the comments! Happy hunting!
It’s here we can’t deny it — fall has settled in. The beautiful, sunny, and warm days are coming have come to an end. But don’t you go downing fall on me just yet! It’s actually my favorite time of year! That nice little nip in the air in the morning, the lazy evenings, and the smell of fresh textbooks. It’s a wonderful time! Here are three great ways to enjoy September around the Eastside!
High School Football
Living in Seattle, for most of us, means a love of Seahawk football. Attending games is more than a way to pass a day, it’s an experience. And, like most major experiences, it costs a pretty penny. So why not enjoy a some Friday Night Lights and watch a more affordable game of gridiron? So many of our local High School teams are contenders on a statewide level that attending a high school game not only means you’re out enjoying the fall evening weather, it also means you’re seeing some legitimate talent. Plus there are affordable concessions, marching bands, and all kinds of school spirit!
Take a Hike
Head over to Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland for a nice family hike. The park itself isn’t huge, which makes it perfect for exploring on a weekday evening after school. Walk through the dense trees seeking out unique shadows cast through the branches and onto the dirt pathways. The enchantment of this urban park is turned up to eleven when a horse comes striding by you. Bridle Trails was designed as a horse walking park, which means that the unexpected rider can pass you by. I love this quiet oasis right in the middle of the densely populated Eastside! I also have to give an honorable mention to Juanita Bay Nature Preserve, where you can spot bald eagles fairly regularly.
Have you ever tried to go stand-up-paddle boarding on Lake Washington? SUP for short, I actually prefer early fall for this activity to summer. The crowds are gone, the water is still warm, and the sunsets are something else entirely. Perfect Wave is my go-to spot. Located right at Houghton Beach in Kirkland, there is nothing more refreshing than an evening paddle, followed by happy hour at The Beach House, which is well worth a visit. Just remember, hours start to narrow as summer closes, so check ahead before showing up.
What are your favorite fall activities!!??
Interest rates are changing. Here is a great article written by Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner about how this may affect the Real Estate Market.
Interest rates have been trending higher since the fall of 2017, and I fully expect they will continue in that direction – albeit relatively slowly – as we move through the balance of the year and into 2019. So what does this mean for the US housing market?
It might come as a surprise to learn that I really don’t think rising interest rates will have a major impact on the housing market. Here is my reasoning:
1. First Time Home Buyers
As interest rates rise, I expect more buyers to get off the fence and into the market; specifically, first time buyers who, according to Freddie Mac, made up nearly half of new mortgages in the first quarter of this year. First-time buyers are critical to the overall health of the housing market because of the subsequent chain reaction of sales that result so this is actually a positive outcome of rising rates.
2. Easing Credit Standards
Rising interest rates may actually push some lenders to modestly ease credit standards. I know this statement will cause some people to think that easing credit will immediately send us back to the days of sub-prime lending and housing bubbles, but I don’t see this happening. Even a very modest easing of credit will allow for more than one million new home buyers to qualify for a mortgage.
3. Low Unemployment
We stand today in a country with very low unemployment (currently 4.0% and likely to get close to 3.5% by year’s end). Low unemployment rates encourage employers to raise wages to keep existing talent, as well as to recruit new talent. Wage growth can, to a degree, offset increasing interest rates because, as wages rise, buyers can afford higher mortgage payments.
There is a clear relationship between housing supply, home prices, and interest rates. We’re already seeing a shift in inventory levels with more homes coming on the market, and I fully expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. This increase in supply is, in part, a result of homeowners looking to cash in on their home’s appreciation before interest rates rise too far. This, on its own, will help ease the growth of home prices and offset rising interest rates. Furthermore, if we start to see more new construction activity at the lower end of the market, this too will help.
5. National versus Local
Up until this point, I’ve looked at how rising interest rates might impact the housing market on a national level, but as we all know, real estate is local, and different markets react to shifts in different ways. For example, rising interest rates will be felt more in expensive housing markets, such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Orange County, but I expect to see less impact in areas like Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Detroit, where buyers spend a lower percentage of their incomes on housing. The exception to this would be if interest rates continue to rise for a prolonged period; in that case, we might see demand start to taper off, especially in the less expensive housing markets where buyers are more price sensitive.
For more than seven years, home buyers and real estate professionals alike have grown very accustomed to historically low interest rates. We always knew the time would come when they would begin to rise again, but that doesn’t mean the outlook for housing is doom and gloom. On the contrary, I believe rising interest rates will help bring us closer to a more balanced real estate market, something that is sorely needed in many markets across the country.
There is just something about an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. Amirite? Of course, I am. The only thing any better is having the beer totally fresh from the brewery direct. With that in mind, here’s my take of the top breweries in Redmond. And hey, if you want a tasting partner, look no further!
4626 NE 102nd Street Redmond, WA 98053
Part farm, part brewery, and 100% on their game, Bushnell offers an on-site taproom experience. Open most days at 11 am, the Hop House offers fun fare with your pints. Even better? Show up on Tuesdays after 3 pm, order a pint, and get a free T-Shirt. Um, yes, please! The brewery itself offers six flagship beers and a host of seasonal brews as well. Once you’ve found your favorite (I’m partial to the Blackberry Barley this summer), don’t forget to stock up on farm fresh eggs before heading home. They’re just $5 a dozen. The chickens aren’t for sale, though.
14679 Ne 95th St Redmond, WA 98052
These folks have a simple mission. “Brew Beer that people want to drink.” And trust me, you’ll want to drink their beer. They currently produce about 12,000 barrels a year and are only growing. You can head into their tap room to try their famed beers, and most are also available in a keg or growlers to take home with you. Many of their brews are award-winning and range from lager to porter with fruit flavors and everything in between. I’m looking forward to trying the Raspberry Sour myself. Everything is so reasonably priced, you’ll want to try them all!
17825 NE 65th St, Ste B110, Redmond, WA 98052
If you love local beer, Mac and Jacks is no stranger to you. This brewery has gained some big notoriety and is available in a lot of local restaurants and at Safeco field, too. The African Amber is my personal favorite. Established in 1993, the company is still run by the original founders, but they have moved out of their original establishment in Jack’s garage. You can take a brewery tour here on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3 pm. The tours are free and include free tastings, no reservation necessary. Mac and Jack’s offers 5 year-round brews and a host of rotating seasonal beers, too.
17625 NE 65th St, Ste 100, Redmond, WA 98052
With a relaxed atmosphere that is warm and welcoming to all (even dogs and kids) Postdoc started in the garage of a Ph.D. in Biochemistry back in 2013. What started as a weekend pastime between neighbors has gone on to produce some pretty awesome brew. Personally? I’m a fan of the Grapefruit Blonde. Mostly because it’s pink. And I’ve never seen a pink beer before. You can find about 10 brews on tap at any given time, and the company plays host to various events and food truck appearances. Besides the fact that you can stop there after a bike ride….my favorite thing, though? I love their loyalty program, which is structured like a degree-granting institution. As such, there is a tuition scale. But in exchange for buying an adjunct professor or tenured professorship, you get discounts on brew and lots of swag.
Have you been to these breweries? Which was your favorite? Favorite brew overall? Help me find a new favorite!
You’ll hear me talk about the “Big Three” pretty often. To me- those are the three cities that make up the heart of the Eastside. Redmond. Kirkland. Bellevue. Depends on who you ask, the Eastside is growing, and can sometimes include Issaquah, Bothell, Woodinville and Sammamish. But, for me, when we’re talking Eastside, we’re talking the big three.
Since the city is growing so quickly, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a patch of green space where you’re allowed to camp overnight. There are still plenty of parks and natural areas around town, but try to pitch a tent overnight and you’re likely to wind up in some hot water. It’s just not cool. But that doesn’t mean that you need to plan an epic road trip in order to find a nice little camping spot, either. Here are my personal top three favorite places to get some R&R and a bit of nature within three hours from the Eastside.
- Dash Point State Park
Address: 5700 SW Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, WA 98023
Drive Time: Less than an hour.
Why I Love It
Dash Point State Park is right off of I-5 in Federal Way. It’s so close to the city that sometimes you even get city noise while you’re in the park. While that may sound like a turn off, hear me out! This park has so much going for it! Positioned right near Commencement Bay, the park has access to a swimmable beach that plays host to some incredible beachcombing at low tide. Expect to find thousands of sand dollars, shells, clams, jellyfish, and the last time I was there, I even saw a fully intact “ghost” sailboat washed ashore. How cool! To top it off there are great hiking trails, a summer “Jr. Ranger” program for the kids, and a large grassy field in the middle of the campground loop for the kids to makes friends and play in. Remember that city I talked about? It’s pretty cool because, if you don’t like campfire cooking, you can easily pop right into town and have dinner out, returning to your site for s’mores and tent sleeping. Plus, if everything goes bust, you’re so close to home that it’s simple to call it a loss, pack up, and head home. That makes it perfect for first time campers!
- Pine Village KOA
Address: 11401 River Bend Dr, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Drive Time: 2 Hours
Why I Love It
The only non-state park camp on my list, this place is super fun for a long weekend. It’s only a 2 hour drive time (admittedly, that’s before we account for traffic) and most of that drive is spent going through either scenic Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass. The campsite itself offers SO many amenities. There is space for trailers, RVs, tents, and even a few cabins that you can rent. Onsite you’ll find a playground and even a pool. In the summer there is a free breakfast in the mornings, outside movies in the evenings, and even a free shuttle into downtown Leavenworth, where you’ll find a whole host of things to do. In the winter you can enjoy a massive open field directly behind the campground, perfect for sledding, snowshoeing, or a winter trek into town. Leavenworth is a city of festivals, with something going on almost every weekend. This glimpse into a Bavarian village makes the kids happy, and the high concentration of wineries and breweries makes mom and dad happy, too.
- Deception Pass State Park
Address: 41020 SR 20 Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Drive Time: 90 minutes
Why I Love It
As far as I’m concerned, this is the gold standard for an immersive camping experience. This park has.it.all. On top of a TON of spots for RVs, trailers, and tents, you’ll find not one, not two, but THREE beaches. There is a salt water beach opening to the Salish Sea, a freshwater beach on Cranberry Lake, and another saltwater lagoon beach that has some of the best tide-pools in the PNW (at low tide). The Salish Sea beach has a ton of driftwood, perfect for hut making, the lake beach plays host to canoe and kayak rental as well as a seasonal snack stand, and the tide-pooling beach has rangers on site to guide you (during the summer) and help you find creatures! On top of ALL of that, you’ll also find iconic bridges that you can walk (or drive) across with sweeping vista views of the sea. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the other half of this massive park has great fishing access, too. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are both available, along with a whole host of hiking opportunities of varying difficulty. Not that you will ever need to leave this park to stay busy, but my family really enjoys a quick trip into Oak Harbor where we enjoy an evening at one of the only drive-in theatres left in the state. (Blue Fox Drive-In Theatre). Frankly, if you’re only going camping once, make it this park. It’s pretty popular and fills up fast, so make sure to make reservations well in advance.
Moran State Park
Address: 3572 Olga Rd, Olga, WA 98279
Why I Love It
Missing my list due to time constraints only, this park is cool because it’s on an Island. Orcas Island, to be exact. That means that you’ll need to take a state ferry to get there, making it kind of pricey for trailer or RV campers. The sites are small, but the views are BIG. You can even drive (or hike) clear to the top of Mt. Constitution for a bird’s eye view of all of the San Juan Islands.
Did I miss your favorite campsite? If you want to keep it a well-guarded secret, I get it. But, if you’re willing to share, please let me know what I’m missing out on in the comments below.