For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate November 19, 2013

Top Ten Things to do to Winterize A Seattle Eastside Home

Even though we rarely get snow on Seattle's eastside, it can get pretty cold and wet here.  When the temperature is 48 degrees and it's damp outside, it always feels so much colder.    It's important to prepare for the cooler, wetter temperatures and the increased rain that happens in Seattle's winter.  Wintertime will pass much more smoothly and faster if you take care of the items listed below.  

Here are some a list of some of the important things to do to prepare your home for winter. 

Clean the gutters.

Caulk windows and flashing.

Weather strip doors.

Clean the fireplace and chimney, particularly if you plan to use the fireplace.

Get your furnace serviced and your heating ducts cleaned.

Install a carbon monoxide detector.  If you already have one, check the batteries.

Seal any entry points and cracks in your foundation.

Check your chimney cap.  Repair or replace it if needed.

Cover hose bibs and drain hoses.

If you have a sprinkler system, make sure it's drained.

If you complete the above items before the winter weather sets iin, it will help keep you warmer and more comfortable during the winter.  Plus, it will help maintain the integrity of your home and could potentally save you from some costly repairs.

Happy maintenance,  Can you think of other items to add to the this list?




For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate June 27, 2011

What's the Difference Between Home Maintenance and Upgrades When Selling Your Seattle-Eastside Home

Getting ready to sell your home?  You’ve contacted your agent who’s given you a laundry list of things to repair, replace or upgrade before your home goes on the market. Are the things your agent wants you to do maintenance items or upgrades?

If these items are completed, does it mean that you can get more for your home?  Probably not, but it means you won’t sell your home for less either.

Most people don’t think about having to do much before selling a home.  But on Seattle’s eastside, the buyers don’t buy if things aren’t done.  Buyers here think homes built in 1991 are old.  They’re looking for a fresh, new feel. My east coast friends have trouble understanding this because they often live in homes that are 50 years old or more, but here on the Seattle’s eastside it has become the normal expectation.

Many home sellers confuse needed maintenance with upgrades.   Some of what needs to be done before putting a home on the market falls in the category of maintenance and some falls under upgrades.  A lot of people confuse the two items. 

What’s maintenance and what’s a true upgrade?

Some of the basic maintenance items that everyone should do before putting a home on the market:

  • Bark and edge the planting beds
  • Get rid of weeds
  • clean windows
  • Clean the roof and gutters
  • Pressure wash the driveway, walks, decks, and patios
  • clean the carpets

The list below includes more maintenance items.  Many home owners think these are upgrades, but they’re not.  If any of the following needs to be done, it means a home needs these repairs.  It also means the home will sell for the true value it deserves, not for more, and not for less.  Buyers won’t buy a home that needs paint or a new deck.   The bank also gets involved in some of these issues. If a roof doesn’t have 5 years of life,  the bank won’t loan on the home.  If the deck is a safety hazard, again, it becomes an issue for the bank and the deck will need to be repaired in order to sell the home.

  • paint the interior or the exterior if needed
  • replace or repair the deck or patio
  • Repair or replace your roof

Upgrades that are considered part of maintenance because you’re replacing things that are older:

  • New light fixtures
  • New faucets
  • New appliances
  • New counter tops
  • New carpet

But even these upgrades won’t bring you more money than the value of your home.  It helps you get the true value you deserve for your home.

What’s a true upgrade that will net you more money?

  • Stainless Steel appliances, granite counters, new kitchen cabinets
  • Remodeled bathrooms
  • Expanded decks
  • New landscaping

If you hope to make more money for your home than its actual value, plan to do some remodeling.  It will cost you money, of course, but you’ll generate quite a bit of it back when you sell your home.  There needs to be some major updating and remodeling to net more than the actual value for your home.  Most of the things that you need to do a

The reality is most people have to spend some money to make any money when selling a home.  Some only need to spend $1500-$2000 to do the basic maintenance items.  Others have to spend more if they have tired, older looking fixtures or more cleanup work to do, but doing these items short of the major remodel will help to sell your home for the price it deserves, not for more money.  It will also help you to keep from selling your home for less than its truly worth.

For HomeownersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate January 25, 2011

Don't Let Carbon Monoxide Kill You

A friend of mine from college just died.  He died from a gas leak in his home.  Apparently some gas had escaped which killed him and sickened others.   He was the only one who didn’t make it.  This was a sad and needless death.

This was not an isolated incident.  I wish it were.

When I told the story about my friend’s death to an acquaintance, she relayed a story about a family who is now brain damaged from exposure to carbon monoxide in their home.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1,500 Americans die each year from accidental exposure to CO, and there are more than 10,000 injuries each year.

This is serious stuff.

If you do one maintenance item for your home this year, have your furnace inspected.

If you buy one thing for your home, make it a carbon monoxide detector.   Hardware stores are a good place to find the detectors.

Some important tips for buying and installing a detector:

Detecting CO

  • When buying a CO detector, check for the UL approved label.
  • Digital display models show the CO level, rather than simply beeping.
  • Install CO detectors in a central area on every floor and near sleeping areas.
  • Detectors should be placed at least five feet above the ground, as CO rises.
  • Hard-wired and plug-in models won’t work during a power outage.
  • Like smoke detectors, batteries need to be replaced each year.
  • CO detectors lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced every five years.

Source: Consumer Report 2005

Here are some tips from The CDC, The Center for Disease Control:

How can I prevent CO poisoning from my home appliances?

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator’s cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
  • When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the American Gas Association or Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

How do I vent my gas appliances properly?

  • All gas appliances must be vented so that CO will not build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Horizontal vent pipes to fuel appliances should not be perfectly level. Indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This helps prevent CO or other gases from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.

There are more useful tips on the CDC website for times when the electricity is out, as an example.

Soon, in Washington State homes will be required to have a carbon monoxide detector, but don’t wait until then.  You could be playing with your life.

Energy conservationFor BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate December 6, 2010

Five Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Heating Bill

What costs you the most money to maintain your home?  I bet your heating bills are at or near the top of the list.

Here are 5 easy ways you can help your heating system to be more efficient and help to save you money.

  • Change your furnace filter regularly– I know few people seem to change their filters regularly.  Trust me,  I ask this question when I meet home owners.  Your furnace technician can install a device which “beeps” when you need to change filters.
  • Get your furnace serviced annually- Most people ‘fess up and say they don’t service the furnace on a regular basis.  Sign a contract with an HVAC company and they’ll call you each year and make sure it’s done.   The furnace technician can check the furnace and confirm it’s not leaking any carbon monoxide.  The added bonus here is you won’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Heating systems

  • Make sure your doors have good, tight weather stripping- get down on the floor and see if you see light under the weather stripping. If you do, then it’s not tight and replace the weather stripping.
  • Install programmable thermostats- you can regulate your heat and set it to be lower during the days you’re not at home or at night.  This could save you some significant money.


  • Look at your heating bills for a full year to determine if you are using energy less efficiently than the average home for your area.

If you find you’re using more energy than the average home,  check my next post about energy savings. Coming soon is a post with more information about ways to save some money on your heating and energy bills.

  • Oh, and did I mention putting on a sweater and lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees? (this is number 6, but who’s counting?)
For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tips June 29, 2010

Got Lint? Clean Your Dryer Vent

Dryer Vent Lint

Lint From A Dryer Vent

There were big gray clumps of lint and this is only 1/4 of what was removed from the clothes dryer vent!   Ironic, since the dryer vent had recently been cleaned out in a do-it-yourself project, which apparently had not worked.  The duct work is a fairly long line, which makes it even more difficult for a do-it-yourself job.

Bel-Red Energy Solutions* cleaned out my dryer vent which was loaded with lint, even though I thought it had been cleaned out weeks before. Dryers are among the major causes of house fires.

Check the vent on the outside your home to see if the air flow is moving well.  Do this on a regular basis. You’ll know if the air flow becomes weak, which is a good indication of blockage in the vent line.  Here are some other warning signs from

  • Clothes take longer and longer to dry;
  • Clothes don’t fully dry;
  • Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle;
  • The outside of dryer gets very hot;
  • The outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very much indicating low exhaust velocity;
  • Laundry room becomes more humid than it is usually;
  • Burnt smell is evident in the laundry room.

So mark your calendar.  Have your dryer vent cleaned regularly  to eliminate a fire hazard.  Do-it yourself systems may work for some duct lines, particularly if the dryer duct line is short.  I was impressed, however, by the motor Bel-Red brought along to power the hose that cleaned out the vents.  That puppy really sucked the lint out of the vent.

Here are some more tips on dryer vent cleaning, maintenance and safety.

And the silver lining in all this? A dryer vent that works more efficiently will save you money on your monthly utility bill.

*As always, choose your contractor wisely. Check out any contractor you hire.   Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured.  Obtain recommendations from other clients and check the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and other resources.

ArchitectureFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal EstateRemodeling and style trends February 24, 2010

Latest Cost Effective New Products for Your Home Remodel

A big part of my job as a Realtor is to help home sellers prepare their homes for the market by giving people ways to add value to their home so they’ll get the highest sales price. I’m constantly looking for different and cost effective ways to give sellers options for updating a home. I also encourage past clients to contact me when thinking of remodeling, so I like to keep up with the latest home remodeling ideas.

The Styled, Staged, and Sold blog discusses “hot home products for 2010.” Their list of favorite new home products had great ideas for remodeling, safety, energy savings tips, and locks that can’t be bumped.

Did you know most locks on the doors to your home can be “bumped”open?

Not something you want to have happen with your home.   I first heard about locks that can’t be bumped open when a client of mine told me about changing the locks on her home.   Her  home security alarm had gone off 4 times.   She thought it was time to upgrade her home’s door locks to the bump proof variety.

Home locks that cannot be bumped

After hearing about this situation from my client and reading about unbumpable locks online, I thought I’d pass this information on.   In reading about unbumpable locks, I also learned the brand of “bump-proof” lock you buy for your home should be checked out to make sure it’s truly “bump proof.”

The blog post also talls about some other interesting home products. I really like the metal tiles that could be used as a kitchen backsplash. The tiles come in brushed nickel, bronze, and copper finishes. They looked really cool and could dress up a kitchen for not a lot of money.

The inexpensive crown moldings sounded like they could be a great way to dress up a room.

Stainless steel paint? It sounds like it could be a terrific way to go, but I’m having trouble picturing  paint looking like smooth, cool stainless steel.  I’d love to know if this really works.

Has anyone tried it?  If it does work, it would be a great thing.

Check these home products and remodeling tips out.  Let me know if you try any of the items. I’d love to be able to tell people about experiences you’ve had with these products or other cost effective remodeling ideas.

And while you are at it, change your locks!