Good Loan News

Here are two recently-announced pieces of really good news for home buyers.

• The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority recently raised the income limit for their down payment assistance program to $115,600.

Now more people can get help with a down payment.

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised their conforming loan limits so that more people can use a conforming loan and not be forced to use a ‘jumbo’ loan.

Contact us if you would like to hear how these pieces of news could help you.


Posted on December 11, 2018 at 4:31 pm
John Taylor | Posted in For Buyers |

Work Smarter – Not Harder with Smart Home Technology

 

While still in its infancy, the number of smart home products—devices that let you control lighting, thermostat, or even your crock pot from your smartphone—is rapidly growing. These are products and whole ecosystems that help you control your home via a single iOS or Android app. You can pick and choose your favorite gadgets to assemble an affordable, intelligent abode on your own terms, or opt for an entire smart home system that does all the work for you.

While home automation is becoming more prevalent, naturally there are more and more products becoming available as “smart devices”. Here are some of the more diverse home gadgets we have found, beyond thermostats and security cameras:

 

 

GE WiFi CONNECT WASHER AND DRYER

Check washer progress with an app that lets you monitor cycles and settings, extend drying times, monitor levels of Smart Dispense tanks, download custom specialty cycles and receive alerts when clothes haven’t been removed.

 

 

LOGITECH HARMONY ELITE, UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROL

More than just a TV remote – the Logitech Harmony Elite offers all-in-one control of up to 15 home devices including your TV, satellite or cable box, Apple TV, Roku, TiVo, Blu-ray player, game consoles, plus connected lights, locks, thermostats, sensors and more. There’s even a free app that turns your smart phone into an additional remote.

 

 

PETZI TREAT CAM

Missing your pet while you’re away? The Petzi Treat Cam provides a way to connect with them through your smart phone from anywhere. Dispense treats, watch live HD video and speak with your pet using the 2-way audio.

 

 

FRIGIDAIRE SMART WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER

A wifi connected air conditioner that you control through an app on your smart phone allows you to turn the unit on or off, change temperature, control modes and adapt fan speeds – especially handy if you want your home cooled off before you get home!

 

 

SAMSUNG FAMILY HUB REFRIGERATOR

A few years ago, having a French door refrigerator with cameras, wifi, and a gigantic touchscreen would have been the stuff of dreams. Today it is a reality. This high-end fridge will let you peek inside it while grocery shopping, search for recipes on the 21.5 inch display, mirror your smart TV so you can keep watching your movie while you grab a drink, share calendars, photos and best of all – it even keeps your food cold.

 

Originally posted on www.windermereseattle.com.


Posted on December 7, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , , , , ,

A Lifetime of Making a Difference – Joan Tate Allen

 

Tis the season when we look back upon the year and give thanks for all that we have and count our blessings. At Windermere, we are thankful for all who generously donate to the Windermere Foundation, and we are grateful to have franchise owners and agents who go above and beyond to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. This year, Joan Tate Allen, co-owner and vice-president of Windermere Realty Trust, was recognized with the “Windermere Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award” at the company’s annual Owners Retreat. Joan is a visionary and one of those individuals who puts her whole being behind her commitment to helping others.

 

After joining Windermere in 1991, Joan became involved with the Windermere Foundation during its early years. She found inspiration in the unprecedented idea of all agents donating a small portion of each commission check because it provided an opportunity for regular people to make a big difference with a modest amount of money. The entire basis for the Windermere Foundation was built on the premise that these funds would accumulate over a period of time, as the agents pooled their resources.

 

Joan and her husband Brian eventually became the owners of several Windermere offices in Portland, Oregon — bringing on a change that would lead to Joan setting new standards for community service. In a short amount of time, she was able to spearhead entire fundraising events and challenge her agents to raise even more than their commission check donations. She created a friendly year-long contest called “Rise to the Challenge,” in which her offices compete to raise the most money for the Windermere Foundation. The total amount raised in 2017 as a result of those efforts was over $203,000.

 

Joan’s infectious enthusiasm has led to her company’s agents initiating their own fundraising events, such as a golf tournament organized by just one agent which has raised more than $40,000 each year.

 

Joan’s philanthropic work, however, does not end with the Windermere Foundation. She was highly involved with the founding of New Avenues for Youth and Bridge Meadows, and also serves on the Providence Portland Medical Center board.

 

Joan is constantly finding ways to engage her network to help the community through events such as organizing a day of serving meals, promoting clothing drives with Windermere agents, or giving underprivileged youth the opportunity to spend a few weeks learning to row in the summer. It is this type of leadership that has had meaningful impact and is why we honored Joan with the Windermere Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

We are grateful to have owners like Joan who inspire others to help those in need and are thankful for all who continue to support the Windermere Foundation.

 

If you’d like to help support programs and services that help those in need in your community, please consider making a donation to the Windermere Foundation through a Windermere office near you. Just click on the Donate button.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit https://www.windermere.com/foundation.


Posted on December 6, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Windermere Foundation | Tagged , , , , , ,

Windermere Hosts Chinese Delegation of Journalists

 

Last week, Windermere Real Estate was honored to host a delegation of top reporters from China as part of the East-West Center’s 2018 US Study Tour for Chinese Journalists. Nine journalists, hailing from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, visited Washington D.C., Des Moines, Iowa, and Seattle, Washington over 10 days to study the China-U.S. relationship in trade, security, media, and culture.

Their visit to Seattle connected them with Windermere and our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, to lean on his expertise about Seattle’s economy and real estate market. Mr. Gardner discussed the economic influence of Seattle-based companies Amazon and Boeing, as well as other internationally impactful companies like Facebook and Google, both of which have a sizable presence in Seattle. He also discussed the factors that caused the real estate boom of the past half-decade and what we can expect from the housing market in 2019.

Mr. Gardner shared data on the rising percentage of Chinese and East Asian-born individuals making up the population of the greater Seattle area, the factors that have contributed to that number’s rise in recent years, and the impact on our real estate market. Citing the differences between real estate norms and financial realities in much of China compared to Seattle, Mr. Gardner enjoyed a productive dialogue with the visiting delegation of journalists.

Windermere was honored to host the East-West Center’s 2018 US Study Tour for Chinese Journalists and to have the opportunity to discuss the role of Chinese foreign nationals in Seattle’s economy and housing market. As much as we shared, we also enjoyed learning more about China’s housing market and the evolving relationship between our two countries.


Posted on December 5, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in #wearewindermere | Tagged , , ,

Bringing Your Plants Inside for Winter

Winters in many parts of the Western U.S. can easily see temperatures that dip down below freezing. For many gardening homeowners, this can be troublesome when precious plants are concerned. Covering your plants with sheets may not be enough to save a plant from succumbing to freezing temperatures. Check out these ways to bring your plants inside for winter:

 

Take Inventory of Plants

Unless you have planted exotic plants that are definitely not going to survive cold temperatures, there are probably more than a few plants within your yard that should be okay. Healthy native plants are used to the climate of your area and should be able to withstand the winter temperatures without any issue. Those plants that are better suited for a higher growing zone will need to be cared for in order to best survive the season. Consider every plant within your yard and access their health, maturity, and location in order to choose which plants to bring indoors.

 

Indoor Placement

Exotic plants love the sun and should be placed near southern facing windows that aren’t drafty or cold. Create a spot within your home that is far from drafts or cold breezes from open doors. Spread plastic sheeting to protect flooring and create a little greenhouse group of plants that will still receive plenty of sunlight. Refrain from placing plants too close together in order to allow for equal access to sunlight and air flow.

 

Container Issues

Many potted plants can easily be moved indoors without having to transplant them. Easily place potted plants in a group to ride out the winter season. In-ground plants within your landscape will need to be transplanted to a container in order to bring them indoors. Make sure that you consider the size of the plant and use a container that is big enough around for the root ball of the plant. Using a container that is much too large for a plant is better than one that is too small and could damage the plant’s root system.

 

Keep the Fan On

Many indoor plants enjoy being near a window but will also need adequate air circulation to prevent soggy soil conditions. It is a good idea to keep the ceiling fan on in the room, at a low speed, in order to keep the air moving within the room. Don’t place plants too close to heating vents in order to keep them from becoming too hot and overheated. Plants that produce browning leaves will need to be moved to a room with a humidifier in order to keep them in good condition as well.

 

Keep Pets Away

Many indoor plants can become curious items for an indoor pet. Make sure to keep pets away from plants in order to keep both safe. Some tropical plants are toxic for animals and some pets can prove damaging to plants. Create a barrier between plants and animals so that both are kept safe during the winter season.

 

Water & Dust

Keeping your plants watered indoors may look different than what it receives in an outdoor environment. Make sure to consider the plant before watering in order to keep it in soil that it prefers. Many winter climates will not see a lot of added water so choosing to water your indoor plants at a minimum will help mimic those conditions that it would receive outside.

Also, check the plants for accumulating dust that can easily be found after a few weeks indoors. Dust off plants on a regular basis in order to keep them healthy and able to absorb important nutrients. Use a wet cloth to gently wipe down leaves in order to keep dust free from indoor plants.

There are many things to consider when choosing to bring plants indoors for winter. Make sure to choose plants carefully and monitor their progress as the winter season wears on. Consider all of these tips for bringing your plants inside for winter in order to keep them from freezing outdoors.

 

Kelly Holland is a gardening and landscape design writer who loves experimenting in her kitchen. Her quirky nature loves a bright color palette so naturally, her coveted garden is covered in a rainbow of fruits, vegetable, and flowers. 


Posted on December 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , , , ,

What’s That Smell?! What to do When Your Home Stinks

Smells are a funny thing. A particular smell or scent is so closely tied to our memory bank, and can instantly conjure up memories and images. We all strive to have a nice-smelling home, especially when we’re placing our home on the market or hosting a party. The problem with smells is that a person can actually become “blind” to a scent, unable to actually smell their home the way other people do. If you are concerned that your home has a certain odor, consider following these tips.

Smells: the worst offenders

You can probably guess the most offensive smells in the home: cigarette or cigar smoke, pet urine or general pet odors, mold and mildew, unappetizing foods, and bacterial types of smells like body odor. Unfortunately, many of the smells can permeate every corner of the home like the carpeting, drapery and furniture, making it difficult and laborious to remove. Getting rid of these strong odors is important, as they could indicate unhealthy or toxic things in the home. Mold and mildew smells, for example, not only indicate a potential water problem in the home, the spores can lead to a toxic environment for people and pets inside the home (read more about this here). Smoke from an accidental fire is another terrible and pervasive smell and can be difficult to remove. Usually homeowners contact a professional rebuilding and restoration services company – this is not only to rebuild and fix damaged areas but also to replace smoke-filled components within the home.

Masking the smell can make it worse

Often we reach for the air freshener or scented candle to mask strong odors and smells in our home. While this can work for small odors (like chopped onions or stinky shoes) or for short periods of time, it’s nearly impossible to completely mask large odors. Keep in mind that some room sprays and air fresheners contain toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are hazardous to your health. You can make your own air freshers quite easily with non-toxic ingredients (try these here) but remember that really strong and foul home odors will come back after your air freshener fades.

How to get rid of the smells

When you’ve found the source of your worst smells you’ll need to remove them with deep cleaning or removal. It’s usually easiest to focus on one room at a time, as well as one feature at a time (like carpeting). This will make your cleaning time more efficient and thorough.  Unfortunately, most of the worst odors will probably permeate the whole home as air ducts and heating systems can spread the scent into every room. Here are some common smell “traps” and how to tackle them.

Carpeting and area rugs: Hiring a professional carpet cleaning service is usually more effective than a do-it-yourself steam cleaning. This is because the industrial machines can heat up the water much higher and suck up more water. The pros might also have more experience with your particular stains and smells and can give expert advice as to what their machine will remove or not remove. Serious pet urine, for example, may have been soaking into the carpet pad and sub-flooring – this smell source will be impossible to remove in the carpet layer. It may be necessary for you to replace particular sections of your carpeting to ensure a clean underlayment. Area rugs can generally be cleaned as well, either at home or at an off-site cleaning facility.

  • Upholstery and furniture: Cigarette smoke and food smells easily cling to fabric and textiles. Drapery can be sent to the dry cleaners or look for a company that can remove drapery, clean it, and hang it up again. Many carpet cleaning companies will also clean upholstery like dining chairs and sofas. Like your carpeting, you’ll want to assess how deep the smell is: is it in the top layer of the upholstery or within the cushion? Mattresses can also harbor bad smells. Consider replacing it and make sure you purchase good quality mattress pads and protectors.
  • Closets and drawers: Wood and plastic furniture, as well as closets, can generally be cleaned and disinfected but first you’ll want to empty the contents. Sort through your closets and drawers, remove the objects that might be causing bad smells and clean them separately. Even if the source of the smell was from one object, it may have affected your other items. Once the closet or drawers is empty, start at the top and clean down to the bottom. While cleaning, inspect this storage area for water damage, mold, mildew or any other potential sources of the smell. You may need to make repairs, repaint or replace to ensure you’re starting with a clean slate. Cedar planks can be added to closets and drawers – they inherently smell amazing, absorb moisture, and can protect your valuables. To remove “musty” or mothball smells from wood storage pieces, you can place a bowl of baking soda inside each drawer, which will absorb smells. A bowl of vinegar will also work. You can often do a light cleaning using a mixture of diluted vinegar and water (I like to add several drops of lemon essential oil as well) to gently wipe down interior surfaces. Just be sure to test out an area first as water may damage your wood surfaces.
  • Basements and attics: Entire rooms like the basement or attic should be treated like other rooms in the home. If either of these rooms have become major storage areas this might take you awhile to empty them out and find the source of the smell. The reason these two places are extra important is that bad smells could be an indication of a more serious problem like a leaking roof, leaking foundation, leaking plumbing or a pest infestation. Not only can these issues ruin your belongings, they can ruin the structural integrity of your home.
  • Appliances, sinks, toilets: Appliances and fixtures can quickly turn smelly if not properly maintained or regularly cleaned. Fortunately, most of these can be cleaned pretty easily and the smell will dissipate. Kitchen sinks with in-sink garbage disposals can give off foul food smells. You can eliminate food odors by sprinkling baking soda down the drain and flushing it with water. A few small lemon or orange peels thrown in the disposal can also give a fresh scent. Be sure you always run the water when using the garbage disposal and don’t use your disposal as a garbage can. Appliances that use a lot of water, like dishwashers and washing machines, can have odors due to mold or food. Baking soda can also be sprinkled in both, just use a little at a time. After using these machines try wiping them clean with an all-purpose spray or plain vinegar. Toilets can become smelly for obvious reasons. Regular cleaning will help immensely, so will using your toilet properly and keeping it maintained. To read more cleaning tips, click here.
  • Garbage cans: The best way to keep the smell of garbage from filling up your home is to use a garbage can liner and empty it regularly. When you remove the smelly items, the smell usually goes away. If garbage has leaked inside the can you’ll want to clean it out thoroughly (it’s easiest if you take the cans outside and wash with soap and water). Compost bins inside the home can also smell so be sure to empty them on a regular basis and keep them clean as well.

When you can’t find the source of the smell

Some smells are obvious, some are not. It might be due to nose “blindness” or possibly just an odd combination of too many smells that make it difficult to determine. You might actually want a person living outside of your home help you out with this. They may be able to pick up on where the smell is coming from easier than you can. But if that’s not an option, you can actually hire professional cleaning services that provide deep cleaning services. They will probably recommend cleaning the basics like kitchens and bathrooms and carpeting, but might also recommend air duct cleaning or cleaning behind and underneath appliances. A dead pest can also be difficult to track down as they sometimes perish between walls or underneath the house. A pest control professional will be able to make an expert assessment and help figure out next steps. Always get an in-home consultation from a professional who will walk through the entire home and give recommendations for service as well as an accurate estimate. Find a cleaning professional on Porch.

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Anne Reagan

 

 

 Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.


Posted on November 30, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living |

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor

Constructing or remodeling a home is a complex, expensive endeavor. Ideally, everything goes as planned, and when the dust clears, the homeowner can settle in and enjoy the new home — and never think about the building process again.

But what happens when, nine months after the owner moves in, the floor develops a crack, the dishwasher begins to leak or the shower water won’t run hot? Or when these things happen three years later? It’s time to refer to an all-important piece of the contract: the warranty.

What Is a Warranty?

The purpose of a warranty is to protect both the homeowner and the builder — homeowners from shoddy work with no recourse; builders from being liable for projects for the rest of their lives.

A warranty may be included in a contract, or it may not be since it’s not required. There is no standard length of time for one. Rather, a warranty is a negotiable portion of the overall agreement (contract) between a homeowner and a contractor.

The laws that relate to warranties are somewhat vague and vary by state, so the advantage of having one as part of the contract is that everything can be clearly spelled out. However, by agreeing to a particular warranty without understanding its finer points, owners may inadvertently limit the protections they would have otherwise had under the law.

“A warranty describes the problems and remedies for which the builder will be responsible after completion of the project, as well as the duration of the warranty and the mechanism for addressing disputes,” says David Jaffe, vice president of legal advocacy at the National Association of Home Builders.

At least in the ideal case.

 

The Law Governing Warranties

Before homeowners agree to a particular warranty as part of their contract, it’s important to understand what protections they already have under the law. In the U.S., we have a legal concept of an implied warranty — which is a warranty that does not have to be spelled out in the contract but is simply understood to exist thanks to the law. There are two important implied warranties when it comes to home construction.

The first is the implied warranty of good workmanship, which is the reasonable expectation that a home will be built in a workmanlike manner. The second is the implied warranty of habitability, which is the reasonable expectation that the home will be safe to inhabit.

The implied warranties, however, have limits in the form of statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, which essentially are time clocks that determine for how long a homeowner may sue a contractor.

Statutes of limitation in each state dictate how long an owner can invoke various types of legal claims — for example, a breach of contract claim.

Statutes of repose apply specifically to construction projects and set the time for which builders and designers are liable for their product. These also vary by state. In California, the statute of repose is four years for most defects, but 10 years for latent defects (those that aren’t observable right away, such as a faulty foundation). In Georgia, the statute of repose is eight years for all claims related to the design or construction of the building.

Finally, most states also have a right to repair law, which means that before homeowners can sue a contractor, they need to notify the contractor of the problem and give him or her a chance to come to see it and repair it.

To find out what the laws are in your state, simply do an online search for “statute of repose” and “right to repair” in your state.

 

The One-Year Warranty

The key thing to understand about warranties is that many builders offer their own warranty in lieu of the implied warranty. Additionally, many contracts specify that homeowners are giving up their rights to the implied warranty by agreeing to the builder’s express warranty. Also, builders will “often try to shorten statutes of limitation and statutes of repose. Some states allow you to do that. Others don’t,” says Anthony Lehman, an Atlanta attorney who advises homeowners.

Though there is no industry-wide standard, many residential contractors have adopted a one-year warranty for their contracts. The practice likely trickled down from commercial construction, where a callback warranty is typical. A callback warranty means that within one year, a building owner has the right to call back the contractor and expect him or her to repair work, Lehman says.

The downside for homeowners who agree to a one-year warranty is that they likely trade away their right to the implied warranty, and they may also agree to limit the time they have to discover a defect and sue. Obviously, this is a plus for builders because it limits their risk.

But there is no real reason a homeowner has to accept a one-year warranty simply because that’s the builder’s first offer. “It’s a negotiated point, and people can negotiate warranties that are broader — and they often do,” says Robert C. Procter, outside general counsel for the Wisconsin Builders Association. “If you don’t ask for more, you won’t get more.”

 

Pros and Cons of a Builder’s Warranty

Though a one-year warranty may seem like a poor deal for a homeowner, a contract with details spelled out does provide an upside: some degree of clarity in the process. Ideally, a warranty includes not only the time period that the warranty covers, but also the standards by which various materials will be evaluated, and the steps to follow when a problem arises.

In a minority of states, the legislature has codified what a warranty is and how long it lasts for a variety of materials, Jaffe says. They are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. If you live in one of these states, you can refer to the state-set standards.

If you do not, one option is to refer to the NAHB’s publication Residential Construction Performance Guidelines. “It’s broken down by categories within the home: foundations, exterior, interior, roofing, plumbing,” Jaffe says. “If there’s an issue that comes up, you look in this publication, and it tells you what the observation is — what’s the problem.” The guide then spells out what the corrective measure — if any — should be.

If you decide to use this guide as the standards by which problems will be judged, be sure you read it first and are comfortable with its terms. Sometimes having the terms spelled out is simpler than relying on the implied warranty because the implied warranty is so vague.

“The implied warranty doesn’t have a fixed time; it’s a reasonable period of time,” says Jaffe, of the NAHB. “If you’re a homeowner, and you call your builder up in year five and say, ‘There’s a crack here, and I think you should come out and fix it because it’s a defect,’ well, at that point, it may or may not be related to something that the builder did or didn’t do. Is it a defect? Who is going to make that determination? What is the fix? Who is responsible for it?”

Relying on the implied warranty means that these sorts of questions would need to be resolved in court if the parties aren’t willing to, or can’t, come to an agreement on their own. Open for debate is whether an item is a warranty item, and for how long it’s covered. Having these issues determined in court can be an expensive, time-consuming headache for everyone involved.

Still, some attorneys say owners might be better off with the implied warranty than giving up their rights for a limited one provided by the builder. “You build a house, and you expect it to be there for a long time. The buildings in Europe have been there a long time. The pyramids have been there a long time. The question is how long is it reasonable for you to expect it to last,” says Susan Linden McGreevy, an attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, who specializes in commercial real estate work. “If it has to get before a jury, the contractor has lost already. What I mean is, the jury will always find in favor of a homeowner — unless they’re a real flake.”

 

Going Beyond Warranties

Despite all this talk of legalities, there is an important caveat: Many good builders will continue to be helpful even after their express warranty has passed. Anne Higuera, co-owner of Ventana Construction in Seattle, provides a one-year warranty to her clients. Nonetheless, Ventana has made repairs and fixes even years after the one-year warranty expired. Higuera says the company does so because the builders want good relationships with their customers, and because they feel as though it’s the right thing to do. “Warranty issues come up very rarely if you do things well in the first place,” Higuera says. “Just finding a contractor who does the right thing on the front end helps you avoid issues with warranty.”

 

More Ways to Protect Yourself

So what should homeowners do if a builder is offering only a one-year warranty? One option is to negotiate for a longer period of time. “You might want to say, ‘I’ll take a one-year warranty for everything except latent defects,’” McGreevey says. (Reminder: Those are the kind that take a long time to discover, such as foundation problems.)

Another option owners have is to ask builders about insurance products. Many builders offer products with an extended warranty — as long as 10 years — that is backed by insurance companies. These are typically paid for by the builder, with the cost passed on to the homeowner.

Third, homeowners would be wise to consult an attorney to make sure that they’re not giving up rights unknowingly. Given that owners are spending thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction, paying for five to 10 hours of an attorney’s time (at $300 per hour, $1,500 to $3,000) to ensure that the contract is sound is probably a good investment. “Would you buy a car for $50,000 and not read any of the financing information?” says Lehman, the Atlanta attorney. “And then people do that for a home construction project.”

Finally, the most important thing is for both contractors and owners to screen each other carefully. “Ninety-eight percent of the homeowner-builder relationships, when there’s a disagreement, most parties reach a reasonable conclusion, even if they’re not 100 percent happy,” says Procter, the Wisconsin attorney. “The contracts matter more when someone is not being reasonable.”

 

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz.com


Posted on November 29, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , ,

How to Stay Safe During the Holidays With Design and Planning

 

While many people look forward to the arrival of a jolly red-suited visitor one night this winter, for all of us the holidays are a gift and a danger. All of us want to stay safe from burglary, and there’s nothing paranoid about taking a bit of extra time to stay safe. The holidays are a time for relaxation, peace of mind, and sharing love and affection. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe and preserving that sensibility.

Security bars and gates:

Sometimes the simplest security is just deterring people from trying to get in. While security bars across windows are a great way to keep intruders out of your home, they can be a real eyesore. Luckily, there are now options for decorative security bars that simultaneously protect your home while enhancing its beauty.

Upgrade your locks:

A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your door frames are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.

Exterior and interior home lighting:

Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers.  Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period of time, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.

Alarm systems:

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24-hour call service for an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.

If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.

Security cameras:

Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options and professional systems that come along with monitoring services.  There are even options that will work with your smartphone. If the cost of security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.

Build your community:

Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.


Posted on November 27, 2018 at 6:01 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , , , ,

Helping Homeless Youth Stay Warm From Head To Toe!

 

With the onset of winter, Windermere offices throughout the greater Seattle area came together this month to host another “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive for YouthCare, a nonprofit that provides critical services to homeless youth. This drive is a part of Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks which aims to raise money, donations, and awareness for the homeless youth crisis.

This winter, YouthCare predicts that over 1,500 young people in Seattle will call the streets home during the coldest time of the year, challenging local businesses to help however they can. So, for the third year in a row, over 30 Windermere offices came together to answer the call by collecting new hats, scarves, gloves, and warm socks.

During the four-week drive, our offices collected donations from agents, staff, and the community, which included over 8,100 hats, gloves, scarves, socks, and an assortment of other accessories and cash donations.

The staff at YouthCare were grateful to receive the delivery of the bins full of donated items. According to Nicole Phaysith, Communications Specialist at YouthCare, “As the rain endures and the temperature drops, it becomes that much harder for young people to focus on the day ahead. We are so grateful for the generous donation of cold weather essentials from Windermere and the community. We’re able to offer young people respite from the cold—and one less thing to worry about on their road to stability and independence. Thank you for keeping homeless youth warm and dry so that they can plan for their future.”

We are grateful to be able to partner with Gentle Giant Moving Company again this year, who generously donated their time, muscle, and trucks to pick up and deliver all of the donated items to YouthCare.

This drive would not be possible without the support of the Seattle Seahawks, our offices, and all those who donated. From all of us at Windermere, thank you for making our Winter Drive a success and helping to support homeless youth in the greater Seattle area!

 

 

 

*Participating Windermere offices:

BellevueBellevue CommonsBellevue SouthBellevue WestBurienKirklandKirkland Yarrow BayLynnwoodMaple ValleyMercer IslandMill CreekProperty Management – BellevueProperty Management – EdmondsProperty Management – Seattle NorthProperty Management – SouthRedmondSeattle-BallardSeattle-EastlakeSeattle-GreenwoodSeattle-Madison ParkSeattle-MagnoliaSeattle-Mount BakerSeattle-NorthgateSeattle-NorthwestSeattle-Queen AnneSeattle-Sand PointSeattle-Wall StreetSeattle-WedgwoodSeattle-West SeattleServices CompanyShorelineWoodinville


Posted on November 23, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Windermere Foundation | Tagged , , , ,

Windermere Foundation to Donate $25,000 to California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund

 

Like much of the nation, we’ve been heartbroken by the horrifying images and statistics rolling in as California suffers from the worst wildfires in the state’s history. For our staff, agents, and franchise owners who live and work in the affected areas, it’s a threat to their clients, their families, and their communities. Everything that Windermere is is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team, and #WeAreWindermere is a mantra we hold to in good times and in bad. It is for that reason that the Windermere Foundation is donating $25,000 to the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund.

The California Community Foundation (CCF) has over a century of experience supporting communities throughout California, with a stellar reputation for putting donations directly towards the causes they support. In 2003, the CCF created their Wildfire Relief Fund, and have raised over $5 million to help victims of wildfires rebuild. The CCF’s Wildfire Relief Fund puts their efforts towards “those who were displaced or lost housing, belongings and/or employment, or suffered physical or mental health problems,” as well as helping to rebuild homes, providing case management services, basic needs assistance, mental health services, provided respiratory equipment, and much more.

We’re proud to support the CCF’s Wildfire Relief Fund and hope you will consider doing the same. You can donate by visiting their site here.


Posted on November 22, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Windermere Foundation | Tagged , , ,