Extend the Life of your Roof

Your roof is one of the most important and expensive assets of your home, but no other element is quite as valuable. While the average lifespan of a roof is about 15 years, careful homeowners can extend the life of their homes without enduring too many hardships. Take a look at these three quick maintenance tips to help your roof last.

Keep Your Gutters Clear

Debris that accumulates and clogs your gutters adds extra weight and pulls at your roof’s fascia, which can be a costly fix. Look down the length of your roof for any signs of sagging or bending – that’s a sure sign your gutters are carrying too much weight and pulling at your roof.

Don’t forget the downspouts either, and don’t be fooled by easy-flowing water. Moss and algae buildup on and around your roof can slowly eat away at your roofing material and severely compromise its integrity.

Focus On The Attic

The exterior of your roof isn’t the only area you should focus on as your attic is your roof’s first line of defense against damage with a two-pronged approach: insulation and ventilation.

Insulating your attic has the double benefit of keeping your home’s internal temperature consistent while also preventing vapor and moisture buildup on the underside of your roof. When combined with proper ventilation your attic can stay dry and keep your roof’s rafters safe from moisture damage.

A great way to keep properly ventilate is to add a fan or dehumidifier to the attic.

Catch Problems Early

Check on your roof regularly, an easy time to remember to check is with every change of the season, or after a significant storm. Catching small issues early on will save you money in the long run, so utilizing the services of a reliable, professional roofer is an invaluable asset. As with any working professional, it’s a good idea to establish a working relationship with a roofer and even consider scheduling a yearly checkup for your roof just to make sure there aren’t any problems sneaking up on you. After all, spending a little each year to maintain your roof is a lot better than dropping $15,000-$50,000 on a new one, right?

Posted on October 10, 2019 at 7:50 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged

The Impact of Staging Your Home

For more than 20 years, the benefits of staging a home have been well documented. Numerous studies show that staging helps sell a home faster and for a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 88 percent of home buyers start their search online, forming impressions within three seconds of viewing a listing. When a home is well staged, it photographs well and makes the kind of the first impression that encourages buyers to take the next step.

Studies also indicate that buyers decide if they’re interested within the first 30 seconds of entering a home. Not only does home staging help to remove potential red flags that can turn buyers off, but it also helps them begin to imagine living there. Homes that are professionally staged look more “move-in ready” and that makes them far more appealing to potential buyers.

According to the Village Voice, staged homes sell in one-third less time than non-staged homes. Staged homes can also command higher prices than non-staged homes. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate that staged homes sell for approximately 17 percent more than non-staged homes.

A measurable difference in time and money

In a study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association in 2007, a group of vacant homes that had remained unsold for an average of 131 days were taken off the market, staged, and relisted. The newly staged properties sold, on average, in just 42 days, – which is approximately 68 percent less time on the market.

The study was repeated in 2011, in a more challenging market, and the numbers were even more dramatic. Vacant homes that were previously on the market for an average of 156 days as unstaged properties, when listed again as staged properties, sold after an average of 42 days—an average of 73 percent less time on the market.

Small investments, big potential returns

Staging is a powerful advantage when selling your home, but that’s not the only reason to do it. Staging uncovers problems that need to be addressed, repairs that need to be made, and upgrades that should be undertaken. For a relatively small investment of time and money, you can reap big returns. Staged properties are more inviting, and that inspires the kind of peace-of-mind that gets buyers to sign on the dotted line. In the age of social media, a well-staged home is a home that stands out, gets shared, and sticks in people’s minds.

What’s more, the investment in staging can bring a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS, the average staging investment is between one percent and three percent of the home’s asking price, and typically generates a return of eight to ten percent.

In short, less time on the market and higher selling prices make the small cost of staging your home a wise investment.

Interested in learning more? Contact me for information about the value of staging and referrals for professional home stagers.

Posted on September 27, 2019 at 10:11 am
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged

Preparing Your Garage for an Electric Car

Photo Source: FleetCarma.com

Electric cars help lower emissions and fuel costs, improve fuel economy, and bolster energy security. And considering the volatility of gas prices—and their general skyward trajectory—electric fuel shows promise as an economic alternative. But switching to an electric vehicle entails more than new driving habits and a conversation piece with strangers. It’s also a lifestyle update. From setting up a charging station in the garage to maintaining optimal temperatures therein, check out these useful garage preparation tips to assure your electric vehicle battery is in tip-top shape.

 

Selecting a Charger: Level 1 vs. Level 2

Charging an electric vehicle is more involved than charging your smartphone, and you’ll likely need a home station charger. That said, make sure you familiarize yourself with the two main levels of electric vehicle chargers supplied by home-based charging equipment and most public charging stations so you can choose the best one for your home and car.

 

Level 1 Chargers

A Level 1 cord set charger delivers a standard household current of 110 or 120 volts and comes with most plug-in vehicles upon purchase. It’s outfitted with a three-pronged, household plug at one end that’s connected to a control box by a short cord. A longer 15-to-20-foot cord running from the other side of the box connects directly to the vehicle itself.

  • If you have the time, a Level 1 could be the way to go. But be forewarned: What you get is, more or less, a trickle charge that affords roughly three to five miles per charging hour. For instance, the Nissan Leaf takes around 24 hours to fully charge on a standard 120-volt household outlet.
  • The upside is, Level 1 equipment doesn’t entail an elaborate setup of high-power circuit breakers or dedicated electrical lines, which are required by major appliances like stoves and refrigerators.
  • Because cord sets are portable, plug-in vehicles can be charged virtually anywhere there’s a standard outlet. Provided the circuit isn’t a household outlet that’s patched into the same circuit as other demanding appliances—in which case you could trip a circuit breaker.

 

Level 2 Chargers 

You can also consider installing a Level 2 charger, which delivers 240 volts and replenishes pure electric vehicles in about three hours—which is about seven to eight times faster than Level 1 equipment. Unlike the simplicity of Level 1 setups, though, Level 2 chargers may warrant the services of a professional due to the rigmarole of electrical codes, equipment setup, and necessary inspections.

  • Level 2 chargers cost anywhere between under $300 to over $1500, the price ultimately depending on cord length and amperage.
  • Level 2 outputs typically range between 16 to 30 amps, but professionals often recommend around 30- to 40-amp systems—an adequate overnight charge for most plug-in electric cars.

 

Installing a Charging Station

It’s worth mentioning that the “charger” you’re installing is technically referred to as Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). This is the wall-mounted box with cord and plug that delivers electricity and functions as a communication and safety unit for the actual charger situated inside the vehicle itself.  The EVSE ensures the battery doesn’t overheat and shuts the charging session down if there’s a short circuit, power surge, or any other type of faulty hardware.

If you’ve opted for a Level 2 ESVE, you’ll likely need to reach out to a professional electrician to wire up equipment and determine where the ESVE should be situated in regards to where your vehicle is parked. Notwithstanding factors like outdated wiring, meters, and breaker panels, updating the garage for your electric ride should actually be pretty straightforward.

 

Cost of Installation

The installation cost generally hinges on the work involved—such as the amount of wire that needs to be run, whether additional or replacement breaker panels are necessary, and the cost of labor in your area. This could vary between just a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. It’s also worth looking into your local. utility company’s offerings, as you may qualify for special rates or a rebate when you install an ESVE.

Posted on July 11, 2019 at 6:43 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged ,

Five Things to Consider When Downsizing

Downsizing is on the minds of many homeowners today. Some are ready to retire, others want to live more simply, and many want to save money and say goodbye to home maintenance.

 

If you can relate to any of those sentiments, ask yourself these five questions:

Have you done the math?

The financial savings that can be generated by downsizing can be significant – especially as they add up over time. When doing the math, make sure the move will save money, rather than spend unnecessarily.

 

Have you researched elder-care options?

Many homeowners hold on to their current home longer than they should because their parents / parents-in-law may need to come live with them in the future. While a noble gesture, there are many excellent elder care living options available today. Often, all it takes is a tour of those facilities to realize that your loved one may actually be happier, and far better served, in a place devoted to their care and happiness.

 

Have you considered off-site storage?

You don’t need to immediately discard a big chunk of your belongings in order to downsize. In fact, trying to do so in one fell swoop only creates needless stress. Most people find it works much better to move some of their belongings into off-site storage for six months. During that time, you can gradually incorporate some of those items into your new living arrangement, and slowly figure out what to do with the others.

 

How do you feel about sharing costs and decision-making?

Townhomes and condominiums are popular downsizing options. But both require that you share the decision-making and expenses associated with any maintenance and improvement projects with your neighbors and potentially an HOA. If you’re a people-person and agree that two heads are better than one, and you like the idea of sharing the cost/responsibility for expensive repairs, you’ll enjoy condo living. If not, this may not be the best option for you.

 

Have you consulted with a real estate agent?

Many homeowners don’t think to consult with a real estate agent until they’ve made the decision to downsize. This leads to guesstimating about some of the most important factors. The truth is, your real estate agent is someone you want to talk with very early in the decision-making process.

Posted on June 13, 2019 at 6:40 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Buying, Living, Selling | Tagged , , , , , ,

Blinds or Curtains? Or Both? Top Things to Consider When Choosing Your Window Style

Some rooms just need blinds, other rooms just need curtains, and then some rooms look best with both. But how do you decide which rooms need what? There are a number of factors to consider when you’re picking window treatments for rooms in your house, from price to insulation to style to orientation within the room.

 

Price

Adding a combination of blinds and curtains on your windows may seem like the best idea for almost any room in your home. But that can get pricey. Basically, you’re doubling up the cost of the treatments for each window. So when you’re deciding on a budget for your treatments, be methodical. Guest bedrooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or any uncommon, informal areas in your home are good candidates for either blinds or curtains, not both—you likely don’t spend much time in these spaces, they don’t need to be the most styled part of your home and/or they don’t require a high level of privacy. Save the money on these areas and choose a treatment that gets the job done. On the other hand, living areas, formal dining rooms, and master bedrooms are places where a combination of both can add ultimate style, privacy, and temperature comfort, and it could be worth the money to invest in these high-impact areas.

 

Insulation

Sunlight can be a blessing and a curse for your home. It can fill living areas with wonderful natural light. It can liven up dining areas or kitchens. But, harsh sunlight can also heat up a room late in the afternoon, it can fade furniture, or it can wake you up too early on the weekends. When it comes to blocking out the sun, faux wood blinds and heavier curtains should be considered. Wood blinds or faux wood blinds block out a great deal of sun, but not all of it. If you want complete darkness to grab a few more winks on weekends, add some curtains over the binds to double up the sun defense. Consider the positioning of the windows throughout the house and protect the windows and rooms that bear the brunt of the sun, while making it easy for natural light to shine through when you want it.

When it comes to curtains and shades, there are a number of sun-blocking options. Cellular shades filter out the sunlight while still letting enough natural light into the room. Roman shades, sheer shades, and curtain fabrics all have different thicknesses, which block out different levels of UV rays and sunlight. If your living room faces west, you will certainly want some thicker shades to block out that evening sunshine and keep the temperature in the room manageable.

 

Style

Just about any style under the sun is available when it comes to choosing window treatments. Gone are the days when curtains were the only way to add style, warmth, and luxury to a room. Many options in shades and blinds can achieve the same effect.

Whichever you choose, you want the window treatments to accent the furniture in your room, not vice versa. For example, if your furniture is heavily patterned, choosing solid colors for blinds and curtains is the way to go. If your furniture is solid, light patterns and designs could accentuate certain colors or themes in the room. Keep theme and tone in mind: You wouldn’t choose earthy bamboo shades for a room with a sleek, industrial vibe, or beachy plantation shutters for a room with a modern artsy feel.

Choosing the proper window treatments for each room in your home comes down to a handful of factors. Don’t break the bank or overspend where you don’t need it, make sure you know where the sun is most intrusive in what rooms, and go with a style that fits the vibe of your home. Blinds and curtains can complete the look of a room, and make it feel like home.

Posted on May 9, 2019 at 5:40 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged , , , ,

Multigenerational homes are back in style, with more breathing room

Bob and Myrna Conrad, both 65, share a house with their son Wade, 41, his wife, Dana, 42, and their grandson Bryce, 21. Isn’t it crowded? Don’t they cramp one another’s style? Actually, no.

“We just set some ground rules, and it’s been working great,” said Wade Conrad, who has been living with his extended family since late 2013 in a NextGen multigenerational home, built by Lennar in Spanaway.

The number of Americans living in multigenerational households — defined, generally, as homes with more than one adult generation — rose to 56.8 million in 2012, about 18 percent of the total population, from 46.6 million, or 15.5 percent of the population, in 2007, according to Pew Research. By comparison, an estimated 28 million, or 12 percent, lived in such households in 1980.

“People lost jobs, and with tighter household budgets, a lot of homes consolidated,” said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Seattle-based housing website Zillow. “We’re seeing more children living with their parents, and elderly parents moving in with their adult children.”

Most multigenerational families live in ordinary houses, but the homebuilding industry is responding quickly to this shifting demand by creating homes specifically for such families.

The Lennar homes don’t offer just a spare bedroom suite or a “granny hut” that sits separately on the property or a room above a garage. The NextGen designs provide a separate entranceway, bedroom, living space, bathroom, kitchenette, laundry facilities and, in some cases, even separate temperature controls and separate garages with lockable entrances to the main house.

Family members can live under the same roof and not see one another for days if they so choose.

Wade Conrad acknowledged he was initially skeptical when his father suggested they buy a home together. Conrad, along with his wife and two children, had twice moved back home with his parents during job transitions — the most recent lasting a year in 2007 — and it did not go well, he said.

Back then, they butted heads over everything: food, parenting decisions, furniture choices and even TV programs. All these irritating memories came rushing back as Conrad pondered his father’s suggestion.

But once he saw the NextGen home, he was sold. Conrad moved his family from their crowded 1,000-square-foot town home into the 5,000-square-foot NextGen home.

They set some rules: No TV in the large common area, food is bought separately, all other expenses are split down the middle.

For the grandparents, who had been living in St. Louis, the spacious new home was an ideal way to reconnect with family. “It ended up being the best decision we could ever envision,” the elder Conrad said. “And my son can watch all the ‘Walking Dead’ episodes he wants.”

So what’s driving this trend?

The 2008 recession, high student-loan debt, rising rents and a tough job market for millennials caused many people ages 18 to 34 to delay leaving home, said Alex Barron, founder of the Housing Research Center. And then there are boomerang children, who return to their parents’ home because of a job loss, divorce or other reason.

On the flip side, baby boomers are living longer than previous generations. Many are planning ahead in hopes they can devote more attention to their children and grandchildren — and spend little, if any, time in a nursing home. Multigenerational living is “growing in popularity,” said Robert Curran, a managing director at Fitch Ratings. With roughly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day for the next 17 years, interest in such arrangements is unlikely to wane anytime soon.

 

This article originally appeared in the Seattle Times. To read more, click the link.

Posted on April 24, 2016 at 7:42 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged , , , ,

6 Deck Renovations That Really Pay Off—and 1 That Doesn’t

nice deck

Charles Schmidt/iStock

 

If there’s one thing that unites this great country—especially once the weather starts getting warmer and barbecue season gets ever so tantalizingly closer—it is our passionate, even obsessive love for our outdoor decks. Truth be told, just about all of us desire a perch from which to survey our backyard (or rooftop) kingdom, lazily hang out, or busily entertain.

One story behind the origin of decks is that they were inspired by boat decking. But unlike new yawls or yachts—which will depreciate in value by an average of 24% in just three years—a brand-new wooden deck addition to your home will net you a 75% return on investment when you decide to sell, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report.

That’s why in honor of summer’s sweet approach, we take a look at the ROI for decks in our latest installment of Renovations That Really Pay Off. Whether you are building one from scratch or just want to make the one you have bigger and better, here’s how to get your deck on this summer in ways that will pay off awesomely down the road.

Gratis guidance

Before you pick up a hammer, review the wildly useful free deck guide from the American Wood Council. Did we mention it’s free? Here you’ll find safe construction specs so you can get your rim joists and ledger boards just so. This should also be when you decide on deck size—a 200-square-foot deck will run you about $4,836—keeping in mind an addition could jack up your property taxes and insurance. Getting those hard numbers will help you figure out your overall budget (handy deck cost calculator here).

Getting started

The average contractor charges $35 per square foot to build a deck, but where the cost can vary enormously is in the material. Hollow-core PVC can cost as little as $7.50 per square foot, cedar even less at $3.50—while the Brazilian hardwood ipe goes for a nosebleed-inducing $22 or more  (compare prices here).

A great way to save money? “Design your deck for standard lengths of lumber: 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-foot boards,” says Chris Peterson, author of “Deck Ideas You Can Use.” This will eliminate any wasted wood from cutoffs. Peterson also suggests buying secondhand. “Organizations like Habitat for Humanity sell reclaimed wood from demos, as do some local salvage shops.” In addition to possibly scoring unique hardwoods, “the savings can be significant.”

Protect your investment

Your deck is constantly exposed to sun, rain, snow, and the occasional melted Creamsicle. Peterson advises “waterproofing wood decks regularly to ensure longevity … even if you’re letting the cedar or redwood age naturally. Water can cause direct damage in the form of rot and indirect damage like mold.”

Harry Adler of Adler’s Design Center & Hardware in Providence, RI, recommends protecting vulnerable surfaces with a product such as C2 Guard, a nontoxic waterproofer designed for use on unsealed wood and concrete surfaces.

Beyond wood

Pure, quality wood is the gold standard for decks. But there are other options, according to Bill Leys, aka The Deck Expert.

“Wood decks need yearly maintenance, and those costs can rapidly add up over the 20 years they’re expected to last,” Leys says.

James Brueton of EnviroBuild recommends using a quality wood composite, “which initially has a slightly higher cost. But without the need to treat the deck every year, you’re soon saving money over traditional wood.”

TimberTech is the only premium wood composite decking that is capped with a protective polymer on all four sides. Better yet, all TimberTech decking comes with a 25-year limited residential warranty.

Eye on entertaining

Outdoor entertaining should be the key focus of any deck design, Brueton says.

“Especially when reselling your home, any new buyer will immediately see the appeal of barbecue days and summer nights” on a deck, he says. Since all these revelers will need a place to sit, one easy way to add that is a built-in bench made out of the same wood as the deck itself. It generally offers a strong ROI.

This look is not only streamlined but also relatively budget-friendly, costing $500 to $1,500, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a national home improvement franchise. Best of all, such seats will withstand the elements as well as the flooring underneath.

That said, don’t throw style and comfort under the bus. Make sure to add cushions and choose at least one statement piece of furniture with a “pop of color to reflect your personality and design taste,” suggests Sassano. Like this bright yellow chair for $140.

Light the way

If you plan to hang out on your deck well after sunset, fireflies aren’t going to cut it as a light source. Modernize—a website that empowers homeowners to get home improvement projects done—suggests simple ground lights ($28 each) to stringing fairy lights (starting at $15) to solar lights.

Don’t play with fire

Built-in or portable fire pits are warm, cozy, and “the source of deck fires. Whether embers blow out of the pit or the heat from the pit ignites the wood deck, the result is often tragic, with homes burned to the ground,” says Leys. Er, not such a great ROI. Place your fire pit in the backyard far from anything flammable. And to safely heat things up on your deck, buy a patio warmer ($150 to $400) says Sassano.

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This article originally appeared on Realtor.com

Posted on April 10, 2016 at 11:18 pm
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living, Selling | Tagged , , , , ,

This is what happens when you respond to SPAM Email…

I am an avid TED Talks watcher and just came across this Talk. It's hysterical and I suspect will give you pause too! It's also hilarious!

Posted on January 9, 2016 at 10:12 am
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , ,

No Wage Stagnation on the Eastside

Wages on the Eastside are up

Last month’s U.S. Census report showed that middle-class incomes nationally were stagnant, confirming a trend that has been widely reported. But when 425Business magazine crunched the numbers for a local perspective, the picture changed. Unlike the U.S as a whole, median incomes in Bellevue and the greater Seattle area have risen – and wage growth has been particularly strong on the Eastside. A booming technology industry has made the Puget Sound area’s economic growth a standout.

Home prices soar as well

A steady influx of well-paid tech workers has boosted the local real estate market. With an increasing demand for homes, and not enough supply to meet the need, home prices have soared this year. The latest figures from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service show the median price of a single family home is up 10 percent over last year. If you’re considering selling, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better time to get top dollar for your home.

eastsideincome

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 11:13 am
Denni Shefrin | Category: Living | Tagged , , , ,