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What To Expect In 2015


Affordable Condos


7 Tips To Prepare Your Home For Market


5 Green Upgrades for Your Home

by Joe Klarman

You can save money on energy with these five green upgrades for your home. The upgrades increase the value of your home and make it more marketable when you are ready to sell it.

Start by taking an inventory of your home to see how and where you can save energy. Evaluate the cost of new appliances, repairs and replacements that may be necessary. You may be able to make minor seasonal repairs yourself.

1. Doors and windows

Replace old doors and windows that allow air to leak in or out of your home. Wood window frames are now considered better than aluminum frames. Windows should fit tight with a good seal.

Windows can be opened in nice weather to allow air to circulate but you do not want cold air in the house when you are trying to heat it. Storm windows may be necessary on the side of your house that gets strong wind gusts, rain and snow.

Doors that are old and do not hang properly can allow cold air, rain and dirt to seep into the house. This makes your heating and air circulation system work harder. Doors need to be replaced and/or sealed with weather stripping if you live in an area that gets rain, wind and snow.

2. Seal cracks and leaks

Use caulk to seal all cracks in the base of your house where it meets the ground. This happens occasionally. Seal cracks in basements or garages. You may find cracks around doors and windows that can be easily sealed with commercial sealant found at home improvement stores.

Check your cooling and heating system ducts. Tape any leaks or replace the ductwork if necessary. You can be loosing hot or cooled air through leaking ducts. Consider replacing your HVAC system if it is old and not working well.

Do not seal off vents to rooms you don't want to heat or cool. That only makes the HVAC system work harder. A ceiling fan may circulate warm or cool air at a lower cost than your HVAC blower.

Install a programmable thermostat to control temperature in your home 24/7.

3. Update appliances

Energy Star appliances are the most efficient in saving energy and utility costs. This government program rates water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and lighting fixtures based on their cost per electrical unit.

Modern on-demand electric hot water heaters may cost more but they on do not have a tank that must be kept at a constant temperature to supply hot water. New conventional gas and electric hot water heaters are now more energy-efficient.

4. Update lighting

LED (light emitting diode) lighting saves energy. LED fixtures can save up to 85 percent on lighting cost. LEDs can be used indoors and out. Change to LED lighting and energy-saving spiral bulbs gradually as you replace bulbs and fixtures. A 5-watt LED light can replace a 40-watt bulb. LEDs lights can last up to 25,000 hours in contrast to the average incandescent bulb with a 1,200-hour lifespan.

Pendant lights, task and area lighting are more economical than overhead lights in the average room. The light is focused where it's needed.

5. Insulate

Attic areas under roofs can be insulated with the material that holds in warmed or cooled air. This keeps air from leaking out through the roof. Insulating material can also be used in walls and basements.

Other energy-saving upgrades can include solar panels, energy recovery ventilator and geothermal systems where they are available. These upgrades are more costly but they save money over time and increase the value of any home.

Truths and Myths of Credit Scores

by Joe Klarman

Are you thinking about buying a home sometime soon? If you are, then odds are you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. Very few people are able to afford to pay for the full cost of a home out of their pockets. However, if you plan on applying for a mortgage, one thing that you’ll need to keep an eye on is your credit score. Your credit score can determine whether or not you qualify for good terms – or if you qualify for a mortgage at all. Unfortunately, there are a lot of credit score myths floating around that can be quite confusing. The following are a few credit score truths and myths to be aware of:

Credit score truths

The following are a few things you should know about credit scores that can help you maintain or improve yours:

  • Credit reports aren’t always accurate – Don’t assume that your credit report is 100 percent accurate. When you get your credit report, always go through it to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. You can report these mistakes to have them taken off your report, thereby helping improve your credit history and score.
  • Paying for everything in cash can help your credit rating – This is true to an extent. If you are working on paying down your credit card debt, then you should try to use cash for whatever you’re buying so that you don’t raise the balance of your credit cards. However, having credit cards with a zero balance over a long period can hurt as well.
  • You can pay for someone to fix your credit – This is also true to an extent. There are credit repair companies that will carefully go through your credit report in order to find any mistakes, then report them over and over gain to get them fixed. However, they aren’t going to make any blemishes simply disappear.
  • The amount of money in your bank affects your credit – While your score isn’t affected by how rich or poor you are, the amount of money you in your account have can affect your score. If you use your debit card or checks and overdraft because you don’t have enough money, that will damage your credit.
  • Having too many credit cards can hurt your score – Every time you apply for a new credit card, your credit score is hurt. Lenders looking at your credit report are going to be suspicious if you have a lot of credit cards as well.

Credit score myths

The following are a few credit score myths to avoid:

  • Paying off your credit cards will make your credit report spotless – Paying off your balance will help improve your score, but remember that your credit report is an overall credit history, not a snapshot of your present financial situation.
  • Canceling your credit cards will improve your credit score – Because you are lowering the total amount of credit you have, canceling credit cards can actually hurt your score.
  • Paying your bills on time means you don’t have to bother with your credit report – You still need to check your credit report for mistakes and know what your score is.
  • Checking your credit report will hurt your credit – You can check your credit as many times as you want without hurting your score.
  • Your three credit reports will be the same – They will usually be different from each other, but not by much.

These are some of the credit score truths and myths that you should know as you strive to improve your credit.

Top DIY Mistakes made by homeowners

by Joe Klarman

Many homeowners want to fix up their homes before putting them on the market for sale. They become involved in do-it-yourself projects and find they don't have the time or the skills required to complete the job.

There are several projects that homeowners can do by themselves but building extra rooms and installing flooring and appliances should be left to professionals. Electrical wiring and plumbing are other jobs that should be completed by licensed professionals.

A few of the mistakes DIY homeowners make include:

  • Not obtaining necessary permits for remodels and additions
  • Not budgeting correctly
  • Ignoring building codes
  • Not properly preparing walls and other areas for painting
  • Using the wrong tools or skimping on tools and materials
  • Installing flooring incorrectly
  • Planning beyond skill level

DIY home improvements may be more costly than you thought. It's important to shop and budget correctly before starting a project. You may find a professional service will work for the same price.

Painting and wallpaper

It's easy to paint interior rooms if you have the right type of paint, rollers, brushers, pans, drop cloths and masking tape. If you enjoy painting, this is a good project. Don't forget to paint closets and other recessed areas as well. Painting ceilings requires patience and the right equipment

People often become frustrated with the preparation and detailing. Furniture should be moved out of the room. Moldings should be removed at the floor and ceiling or covered with masking tape. Carpeting should be moved back from the walls and covered with a drop cloth.

Having enough paint for the project is also important. An inferior paint job with runs and drips will not help sell a house.

Walls must be cleaned and prepared for painting. A primer coat may be needed if you are painting a light color over a dark color. It is never a good idea to paint over wallpaper. The wallpaper should be removed first.

You can hang wallpaper on prepared walls with the old paper removed. Placing new paper over old paper is a common mistake of many DIY homeowners.

Flooring and counters

Installing new carpet over old carpet is another major mistake. There are dirt and air pockets between the two layers and the new carpet will not stay tight. Old carpeting and padding should be removed and the surface cleaned before the new floor covering is installed. Professional installers have the power stretchers necessary to fit new carpeting.

Square carpet or laminate tiles can be installed by homeowners who want to take the time to lay them out correctly and work with the messy glues. You can also install stone and porcelain tiles if you know how to use the grout and caulking materials. Many DIY installations leave ugly globs of caulk and grout. The tiles may not be installed evenly.

Carpet and tile not correctly installed can cause hazards and lower the value of your home. Professional installation is required for a finished look.

Plumbing and wiring

Good plumbing installation is very important. You may be able to replace a sink using the existing connections, but new lines should be installed by plumbers with the right tools. This is necessary to comply with codes when adding or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen.

Electrical mistakes can be dangerous. A new room or an older home should be wired with switch plates and outlets installed by an electrician. Your home has to pass inspection and meet wiring codes. A faulty DIY wiring job will be discovered with a home inspection.

Home improvements that look well planned and finished will help sell your home.

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Contact Information

Russell Jones Real Estate
536 Broadway East
Seattle WA 98102
Office: (206)323-0800
Direct: (206)683-5639
Fax: (206)323-9275