Upgrades To Refresh Your Kitchen For Less Than $2,000

Remodeling A Kitchen Is Still One Of The Best Value-enhancing Investments You Can Make In Your Home.

seattle home inspectionRemodeling Magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report says that even minor kitchen remodels return more than 72 percent of your investment at the time of resale. Yet the cost of even a “minor remodel” doesn’t look that minor – $19,588 on average, according to the report.

What If You Don’t Have That Kind Of Budget? The good news is it’s possible to completely change the look and feel of your kitchen for less than $2,000 – by choosing meaningful upgrades that have the biggest cosmetic impact for the least cost. When deciding what changes will have the most value for your project, think about changes that will be most visible in the space. [Read more…]



Five Steps To Help Improve Financial – And Physical – Health

Plans To Improve Health And Finances Are Among Tthe Most Common Resolutions Americans Make Each Year.

seattle home inspectionBoth are worthy goals, but did you know that improving your financial health may boost your physical health as well?

“Money problems are a well-known cause of stress, and the negative impact that stress has on one’s physical health is well-documented,” notes Lule Demmissie, managing director of investment products and retirement at TD Ameritrade. “It makes sense that relieving stress through better financial planning, among other remedies, can help contribute to better physical health.”

In fact, TD Ameritrade’s Retirement Survey indicates that taking care of at least one important financial task – retirement planning – may help alleviate stress, both today and in the future. Women who started saving for retirement before their 30th birthday and contributed regularly to retirement savings reported feeling less anxious, frustrated or regretful, and more positive and satisfied about retirement compared to those women who waited to begin saving for retirement or who didn’t regularly contribute to their retirement savings. [Read more…]



Ten Lucky Home Decor Trends For 2013

Despite Its Negative Reputation, The Number 13 Doesn’t Always Have To Be Unlucky.

Take these top 10 decor trends for 2013 from design experts, manufacturers and trend forecasters across the country. They’re fresh, fun and sure to bring good fortune to any home.

seattle home inspectionA Splash Of Color

Industry leader Pantone’s annual fashion color report sets the tone for home decor as well as clothing, and the spring 2013 report is no exception. Its softer-hued palette of Dusk Blue, Lemon Zest, African Violet, Grayed Jade, Linen and Tender Shoots is emboldened by Monaco Blue, Poppy Red, Emerald and Nectarine. Marc Thee, founder of the No. 1 residential interior design firm in the country, also sees a move toward pure color palettes such as cream and sea glass, khaki and white, or neutral with a pop of yellow.-

Not Your Mama’s Wallpaper

Repositionable wallpaper is a decorating mainstay, says Todd Imholte, president of Murals Your Way, whose website, www.muralsyourway.com, is the top online destination for wall murals worldwide. The company’s10 collections of peel-and-stick wallpaper are available in such themes as Vintage, Dots, Flower Prints and Mostly Modern, and can be removed and reused hundreds of times without losing their adhering qualities. Because the company offers color matching, customers can match their repositionable wallpaper to an existing paint color, updated decor or the new Pantone color palette. [Read more…]



Preparing Your Credit Profile For The Spring Real Estate Season

Seattle home inspectionWhen You Are Out Shoveling Snow And Scraping Ice Off The Car’s Windshield, Winter Can Seem Like An Eternity.

 Yet when it comes to your credit profile, house-hunting and the spring real estate season is just around the corner.

“Warm weather will bring an increase in homes on the market and buyers shopping, so it pays to take steps to make sure your credit profile is in the best shape possible if you’ll be looking for a house come spring,” says Barrett Burns, president and CEO of credit score model developer VantageScore Solutions. “Real estate experts are already predicting that this spring will be an important season for the industry, with mortgage rates still low and prices creeping back up. In addition to other criteria such as down payments and income, a good credit score can make a big difference when it comes to getting a mortgage at favorable rates.”

VantageScore Solutions recommends home buyers start now to prep their credit profiles before the spring real estate season arrives in March and April.

Here are some tips and tidbits to keep in mind as you’re working toward qualifying for a mortgage loan:

* It Is Essential To Know What’s On Your Credit Report Before It Will Be Viewed By Potential Lenders. Make sure your credit report is up-to-date and accurately reflects your credit behavior. You can obtain your report at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only official site where you can obtain your report every 12 months for free from each of the three major credit reporting companies (CRCs), which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. And you can access your credit score through all three CRCs from the same website for a small fee.

* Creditors Are Interested In Seeing How You Manage Credit, And The Consistency Of Behavior Counts. In addition to paying your bills on time every month, avoid applying for any new credit between now and the time you will apply for a mortgage. Almost every credit score “inquiry” from a lender is recorded with one or more of the three national CRCs. This can result in a decrease to your VantageScore credit score by 10 to 20 points.

* Keep In Mind That Some Lenders Will Pull A Credit Score At The Time You Apply For The Loan, Then Again Just Before The Loan Closes. You want to avoid credit score reductions during that time frame, which can occur if you take on unnecessary credit. Also be sure all payments on existing debt are made on time during this timeframe.

* Shop Around For Mortgage Options Before You Actually Apply. Understand lenders’ qualifying criteria so you know where you may need to improve. Once you’ve done your research, go ahead and apply to multiple lenders all at once. Multiple applications at the same time will register on your credit report as a single inquiry – as long as they’re all within 14 days of each other – and will have minimal impact on your score.

* Different Lenders Use Different Scoring Models And Different Models Can Have Different Score Ranges. For example, the VantageScore model’s range is 501 to 990. You may or may not be able to find out from your potential lender which model they use. What’s important is where you fall in the model’s score range, which tells you how your score compares to others.

Finally, Burns says, don’t worry too much over small fluctuations in your score. “It’s possible for your score to be 772 on Thursday and 765 on Friday,” he says. “It may be back up to 770 the next week. The changes are likely due to updates to your credit files and expiring data. Remember that consistent, responsible behavior is more important than small ups and downs in your credit score.”- –

For more information and tips on how to get your credit ready for spring real estate season, visit www.VantageScore.com or test your knowledge about credit scores at www.CreditScoreQuiz.org, which was created by VantageScore Solutions along with its partner, Consumer Federation of America. Both websites are completely free and neither display any advertising nor collect any personal data. Both the online quiz and a corresponding brochure are available in Spanish at www.creditscorequiz.org/Espanol.

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Get High-End Looks For Your Kitchen Without The High Price

Real Estate Seattle Each Year, House Beautiful Magazine Builds Its Highly Anticipated Kitchen Of The Year, A Showplace For What’s Hot In The Kitchen.

Designed around the latest trends, the annual Kitchen of the Year is the epitome of high-end style. But let’s face it. The majority of us don’t have the luxury of a 1,000-square-foot kitchen designed by a celebrated designer. Nor do we have the budget.

Don’t give up on your kitchen design dreams just yet. There are several ways to bring a high-end look to your home without the high price. With a little inspiration, research and proper planning, you can have a picture-perfect kitchen that will look as though it’s been lifted from the pages of the top home design magazines. Get started creating your dream kitchen with these tips. [Read more…]



Homeowners Tackling More Home Improvement Projects Themselves

Real Estate Seattle On any given weekend, homeowners can be found climbing around in attics to add insulation, repairing shingles on the roof, installing new floors in kitchens and bathrooms, and handling many other home improvement projects that, with a little elbow grease, they are able to do themselves.

This trend is crossing many generations. Forty-four percent of millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and 57 percent of Gen Xers (born between 1960 and 1980) prefer to do home improvement and renovation projects themselves, according to Iconoculture researchers.

“Small updates can make dramatic improvements to the look and feel of your home, like adding a fresh coat of paint, replacing an exterior door or installing new flooring,” says Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella Windows & Doors spokesperson. “Renovations can also help increase energy efficiency, which may save money on utility bills.” [Read more…]



Three Unexpected Areas Where You Can Improve Home Safety

Making Home A Safe, Secure Environment Is A Priority For Any Parent.

It’s why we have smoke alarms and deadbolts, secure screens on second-floor windows and set the temperature of our hot water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But what about unexpected sources of danger in our homes?

While it’s impossible to anticipate and guard against every eventuality, it still pays to think about some dangers that are often overlooked – but that can be every bit as tragic as more obvious threats. Here are some accident risks that are statistically worth worrying about when you’re working on making your home as safe as possible for your children.

Tipping TVs

TVs keep getting bigger and more of us have multiple sets in our homes. Unfortunately, many of those TVs will end up on dressers, coffee tables, and folding tray tables that were never intended to hold a television. Even TVs placed on a stand made for displaying a set can tip over if not properly secured. [Read more…]



Gas-Saving Holiday Travel Tips

The Holidays Are For Giving, But With All The Driving Around For Shopping, Parties And Family Events, You May End Up Giving More At The Gas Station Due To Grinch-Like Fuel Costs.

Real Estate Seattle Holiday jeer can quickly become holiday cheer, though, by simply practicing some gas-saving tips.

“There are all sorts of ways to make sure you’re getting the best fuel efficiency out of your car,” says Andrew Briggs, director of product planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation, makers of a variety of truck and car tires. “One of the best – and easiest – is to properly inflate your tires. Tires that are under-inflated by eight pounds per square inch (psi) can reduce vehicle fuel economy by as much as 2 percent. By keeping the right air pressure, you can begin cutting down on your annual fuel costs.” [Read more…]



Turn Great Art Into Great Home Decor

Real Estate Seattle From the moment the first cave dweller marked the wall of his home with a bit of charcoal, art has been a home decor must that has stood the test of time.

Whether it’s the vibrant colors of a van Gogh, the almost-mystical perfection of a da Vinci or the dreamily diffused light of a Monet, great art speaks to the soul.

The works of master artists have inspired home decor for centuries, and technological advances have made it easier than ever to incorporate their genius into your own home. It’s no longer necessary to visit the Louvre in Paris to view the “Mona Lisa” or to travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to savor van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” [Read more…]



Buying And Selling A Home During The Off Season

Real Estate Seattle While cold weather causes many people to stay snug and cozy indoors, it provides a great opportunity for home buyers to get out and find their dream home.

Fall and winter are typically considered the off season in the housing market, but actually buyers can potentially find better deals and sellers may find the most serious buyer. To take advantage of the benefits of off-season real estate, consider these important areas of advice. [Read more…]