Windermere Hosts Third-Annual Washington Waterfront Home Tour

When you picture your best life, does it include entertaining shore-side? Launching a boat from your back steps? Or fishing in your pajamas? If you dream of a waterfront life then you’re in luck! That’s because  on June 24-25 we are hosting the third-annual Washington Waterfront Home Tour. More than 80 homes from the San Juan Islands to Lake Sammamish are available to tour by boat, bike, or car. Properties are priced from $595,000 to $20 million. While you might think a waterfront home is out of your budget, there are actually properties that fit a wide variety of needs, styles, and budgets.

Here are a few examples of what you can expect to see this weekend on the tour:

Oak Harbor Charmer:content_OakHarborhttps://www.windermere.com/listing/54079653

Spectacular in Seward Park:    

SewardParkhttps://www.windermere.com/listing/54556875

Enchanted Estate in Friday Harbor:content_Friday_Harborhttps://www.windermere.com/listing/54552772

A map of the homes and their open house hours can be found on the Washington Waterfront Home Tour website. Most will be held open from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on June 24 and 25. The listing details will note the availability; for those listed as “by appointment only”, you can contact the agent for a private tour.

Follow the fun on the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page, and share your own photos while you tour these beautiful homes by tagging your pictures on Instagram and Twitter with #WAWaterfront.

In addition to Windermere, the Washington Waterfront Home Tour is being sponsored by Penrith Home Loans.

 

Originally posted on the Windermere Blog by Tara Sharp

 

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Originally posted in the Windermere Blog by Tara Sharp

Maximizing Your Curb Appeal

Never underestimate the importance of a pretty face.

When it comes to buying or selling a home, first impressions count. While major renovations or additions can affect your home’s value, you don’t need to add a new pool to improve your home’s desirability. In fact, improving your home’s curb appeal through relatively low-cost, but simple, changes, can significantly improve its standing in the market. A curbside “face lift” is always money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own benefit.

House numbers

Updated house numbers: Adding new, elegant numbering to your home’s address signage can create a flattering statement. Choose larger numbers in simple, unfettered designs for maximum appeal.

Wow

Keep it neat: The first glance at your home should reveal a neat, clutter-free exterior. Remove any standing objects, trash, or items in disrepair, and keep the exterior area as tidy as possible.

Front door

Try a new door: Though a new door is a costlier investment than, say, house numbers, it can spruce up your home’s exterior, and even help your home look newer. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brightly colored doors. At minimum, keep your existing door clean and in tip-top condition by replacing knobs, hinges and doorbells if they’re in disrepair.

outdoor-lighting

Lighting: Good lighting can give your home’s exterior a cheap makeover and make first impressions more positive. Try path-side lighting in your entryway, or selective lighting to accentuate particularly beautiful landscaping, such as blooming flowers.

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Landscaping matters: Landscaping may be the single most important component of a home’s curb appeal. First things first: Plants in poor condition immediately detract from your home’s appearance, as do weeds. Commit to maintaining whatever landscaping you choose in prime condition. If your budget allows, you might consider a professional landscaping service. Homes with more “sophisticated” landscaped exteriors can be perceived as having a larger market value.

mailbox-341744_1920

Check Your Mailbox: In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore. You can spend a pile of money for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox, but a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price.

North Town

Know your neighborhood: We don’t want to encourage you to worry about the proverbial Jones’, but knowing the context of your neighborhood is important to creating curb appeal. Create an exterior that complements the neighborhood and nearby houses.

New Features vs. Character

We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes:

The neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

Design and layout

If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost.  But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature tress and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-care garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing your decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.

Tiny Houses – A Big Trend

If you are even a casual fan of TV channels like HGTV, you’re sure to have noticed our nation’s current real estate obsession: Tiny Houses. Tiny House living can offer more financial freedom, more mobility, a lower environmental footprint, and an emphasis on experience over stuff. People who have adopted this lifestyle typically want to live a simpler, more pared-down life, and the rest of us want to watch them do it.

These homes have come a long way in the past five years. Designs for them have gone from extremely simple structures that are more affordable than the average new car, to extensive thought and design – including “Smart” Tiny Homes that can live “off the grid” using solar power and water recycling.

To the contemporary Tiny House purist, the structure is very small and simple. This usually means less than 300 square feet and a loft for the bed.

The “Tiny Living” model (shown below) is offered by Tiny Home Builders. They offer everything from pre-built homes and basic shells to tiny house plans.

tiny-house-1

Keeping the home on wheels allows everything from moving whenever the mood strikes you, to overcoming issues with building codes that require permanent structures to have a larger square footage.

tiny-house-02

Interiors are designed to be simple, providing basic needs and amenities without a lot of flourish or detail.

tiny-house-03

Sleeping lofts are the norm, so if you have an issue with climbing stairs or ladders then a larger model with a main floor sleeping option is definitely a better choice.

A great example of how far they have come with regards to space and amenities is the Farallon model by the Tumbleweed Tinyhouse Company.

tiny-house-04

They offer two sizes with a usable space option of 218 square feet or 246 square feet and the roof is just begging to have solar panels installed.

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Not only does this model provide what looks like a decent amount of counter space, it also has a main floor bed and bath, unlike many other tiny homes that only provide a sleeping loft.

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The cost for this kind of tiny living starts at $62,950 – $72,950.

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Many people who adopt the tiny house lifestyle say that communities are the key to a happy and successful living environment. Another trick to living large in small spaces is to have great public places to go to – preferably by foot or bike. Creating a micro-friendly community requires careful planning, walk-ability, and dedicated public spaces, but for those who achieve this trifecta of tiny living, the rewards can be anything but tiny.

 

Luxury Lookout: Four Seasons

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99 Union St. 

Downtown

$7,155,000 | 2 Bed | 2.5 Bath | Condo/Townhouse

Located at 99 Union St. this snazzy condo has views of the stadiums, Elliot Bay, and the mountains. With 4,488 square feet and walls of windows, you’ll never want to leave. (Did we mention it’s located at the Four Seasons Private Residences?) This place will have you feeling like a real Christian Grey in no time.

Learn more at Windermere.com