Tag Archives: Home Improvements

Organization & Decluttering Tips for the New Year


Source: Mark Friedrich, Penrith Home Loans

Organization and Decluttering Tips for the New Year

When you stop to look around your home after the holidays, does it seem as though you’ll never find a place for all the new toys and gadgets? Or perhaps your home is just long overdue for some reorganizing. Fear not! With some simple tips for decluttering and rearranging, you’ll set the tone for the whole year and keep your belongings exactly where they should be.

Declutter First

You’ll need to clear out the clutter before you can move on to getting organized. Let’s start here:
Icon Sort your belongings into Keep, Donate, and Toss piles, which will start the ball rolling as you begin your home’s transformation.
Icon If you got a new one for a holiday gift, get rid of the old one. Clothing with stains or holes should be replaced with updated versions. Sort through your bookshelves to make room for new books, plus, your local library or school will be grateful for a donation.
Icon Be sure to deal with your Toss and Donate piles on the same day you made them — if you leave piles sitting around, it might feel even more cluttered than before you started!
Icon Don’t overwhelm yourself, however: this is not a one-day job. Be realistic about what you can get done. Break it up by room or by area. Living and dining room one day, kitchen and laundry room the next, and then on to the bedrooms.

Organize Next

A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s important to remember as you move on to organizing: If you can’t find or make a home for it, then it doesn’t belong in your home.

Boxes, baskets, jars, shelves; plastic, wicker, wire, glass: There are so many options for neatening your possessions and ensuring they’re readily accessible. Whatever you choose, here are some basics for keeping them organized and functional:

Icon Put like with like. This seems like a no-brainer, until you realize you have 12 tubes of toothpaste.
Icon Favorites up front. Things you use the most need to be the easiest to get to.
Icon Label everything. If you’re not using clear containers, this is an especially crucial step, but even if you are, you can’t go wrong by labeling them. That way no one in your home will have an excuse for not putting things where they belong.
Icon Break down storage spaces into even smaller units. Drawer dividers separate socks from underwear; under-sink shelves allow you to see how much toilet paper you have left and your cleaning supplies; a table or shelf in your entryway with (labeled!) baskets and bowls will ensure keys, purses, backpacks, and mail can all be found quickly and easily.

If at first you don't succeed, use a hack.

Well, some of these aren’t really hacks, but they are ways to maximize your storage, minimize your clutter, and help you get more organized so you can tackle other projects in your life (like decluttering your desk, or getting the kids to pick up after themselves …).
Icon Look up — and down. Under the bed, over the door, on the side of a cabinet, on the landing: These are all places where a box, hook, shelf, or storage unit can be stashed.
Icon Store neatly. If you have an attic, basement, or garage, be sure you’re (neatly!) storing items there that you use infrequently but need to keep, such as holiday decorations or party supplies.
Icon Think vertically. Cookie sheets don’t have to lie flat. Shelving doesn’t have to stop at eye level. Repurpose a hanging shoe organizer for seasonal clothes like sweaters and tank tops. Or an over-the-door organizer for toiletries, freeing up your linen closet shelves for … you got it! Linens!
Icon Repurpose. A magazine holder full of pot lids. A spice rack full of beauty supplies. An old dresser drawer with wheels attached slipped under the bed. When you think creatively, you can switch storage meant for one item to a completely different purpose.

Pro Tips: Roll towels to take up less space in the cabinet and make an attractive display. Pack all the parts of a bedding set inside one of the pillowcases.

For Special Consideration: Your Home Office

If you maintain an office in your home, these tips can help you keep that area organized as well:

  • Go paperless whenever possible.
  • Color code your files.
  • Label the wires leading from your computer, printer, speakers, etc.
  • Clear your desk of office supplies. Store them all in drawers or in a storage system similar to what you’ve just done in the rest of your home.
  • Set up a bulletin board that holds the day’s priorities.
  • Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the day to reorganize and prep for the next day.

Your productivity will go up as your stacks of clutter go down!

Of course, the most important part of this whole process is to stick to it. If you get it out, put it back. If you open it, close it. If it’s dirty, wash it. If it’s damaged, fix it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”

Whether you’re ready to move or update your current space, I can help you find the home financing to turn your dream house into your actual home. Contact me today to get started!
Mark Friedrich Photo Mark Friedrich
NMLS ID 1266389
Penrith Home Loans/M2
9502 19th Avenue SE, Suite A
Seattle, WA 98208
Visit my websiteFacebookTwitter
Penrith Home Loans/M2 Logo

This letter is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Mark Friedrich, NMLS ID 1266389
Penrith Home Loans/M2 WA-CL 713524, OR-ML 5271
9502 19th Avenue SE, Suite A Seattle, WA 98208


Obtaining Financial Freedom Through Real Estate

Source: RISMedia

Linda McKissack and her husband were $600,000 in debt when they made a real estate decision that turned their lives around. Today, the McKissack Realty Group sells over $60 million and over 300 properties each year. McKissack says their biggest success is not their property sales; it’s how they learned to generate over $250,000 a year in passive income and achieve financial freedom through real estate.

Linda McKissack is an entrepreneur, REALTOR®, and the author of “HOLD: How to Find, Buy and Rent Houses for Wealth.” She’s also a trainer and speaker whose greatest passion is helping others achieve their maximum potential. She’s created five successful businesses and is an owner/investor in numerous residential and commercial properties.

Her message to agents everywhere: “You don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Learn how to obtain financial freedom through real estate.”

Using lessons from her book, McKissack explains how to start investing and earning money even when you have no money.

“If you don’t design your life, something or someone else will,” McKissack said. “Keep this question in front of you: ‘What would happen if today the financial resources of your business totally disappeared?’ It happened to us; it happened to people in Houston, in Florida, in Puerto Rico with the hurricanes. What are you going to do when it happens to you?”

Drowning in Debt
“I was 23 years old and I didn’t know what the word ‘economy’ meant,” McKissack said. “In the ’80s the economy was built around savings and loans, oil and gas and real estate, and it all crashed.”

McKissack’s husband shut down his Dallas nightclub, and four years later they were $600,000 in debt. He asked for her help digging out of debt, and said his mentor once told him the way to make a lot of money fast was in real estate.

“I’m sure he meant invest in real estate, buy real estate,” McKissack said, “not put your wife to work selling real estate, but sell is what I did.” McKissack took a job in real estate sales, and Jim went to work in her office. They restructured their debt with a simple goal: getting back into the black.

It was a good decision, but it took time to see the wisdom in it. “I made $3,000 that first year, but it cost me $15,000 to $17,000 to make that first $3,000. Fast forward to today and our team closes over 200 transactions a year and $60 million in volume. Today we run as a standalone business.”

McKissack’s first real estate investment came in 1991. They had no cash, a lot of debt to pay off and weak credit, and the only real estate they owned was the house they lived in, which had a big mortgage.

“We found a property the seller wanted to sell fast, without listing it. They asked if we knew of an investor who would purchase the home. We knew it was a good deal, even though the house needed repairs. We formed a partnership with our builder who put up money and got a loan. We located the property and put our commission into the deal. He did the repairs. We flipped the property for $15,000 profit and we were off to success.”

What investing taught McKissack was how to beat the REALTOR® dilemma. “The REALTOR® dilemma is the day you sell your last house is the day you make your last dollar. I used to think if I just sold 50 more houses, those 50 houses would solve all my problems. We keep thinking 50 or 100 or 200 houses are going to solve all our cash problems, but it’s not. Cash flow is not the answer. If you follow the statistics, if we don’t do anything different; most of us will die broke or dependent on the government, family, or friends.”

Not wanting to rely on others for their financial security is what started the couple down the road to financial freedom with HOLD.

Creating Financial Freedom With HOLD
HOLD is a long-term real estate investment strategy to which every real estate investor should aspire,” said McKissack. “Be an investor, not a speculator. We bought our first property while we were still $600,000 in debt. We now own over 100 single family properties. There are a lot of people who have money they want to invest, but they don’t have the expertise to do it.”

Going 50/50 is a definite option, especially using the HOLD strategy. The HOLD strategy is simple:

  1. Find the right property for the right terms and at the right price.
  1. Analyze – Make sure you have an offer in which the numbers and terms make sense. Do your due diligence on market values, rents, home prices and appreciations to limit your risks.
  1. Buy an investment property where you make money going in. If your numbers are right, you’ll make money on the margin and get a positive cash flow from the start. Don’t buy a property hoping it will become a good deal. Buy it because it’s a good deal to begin with.
  1. Manage a property until it’s paid for or you have a large amount of equity to leverage. Learn to run your investment properties like a business.
  1. Grow your way to wealth and financial freedom. If one investment can bring you $2,000 a month, imagine the income from 10, 20 or 100 properties.

If you’re actually flipping houses (buy and sell), you’re just creating more cash flow. What you need is an investment. Our HOLD formula for wealth-building:

  • Buy property at 10 percent or more below market value.
  • Put at least a 20 percent or more down payment on the property.
  • Be at a 70 percent loan-to-value ratio or less so you’re not over-leveraged.
  • Cash flow should be a minimum of $200 per month after PITI and management on a 15-year amortization.
  • Buy a newer home (15 years or newer) if possible.
  • Buy a 3-4-bedroom brick or stucco (if possible).
  • Buy homes in stable or appreciating neighborhoods.

7 Rules of HOLD Real Estate Investing

  1. Be an investor, not a speculator.
  2. Cash flow is king.
  3. It isn’t personal, and the numbers matter most. Don’t get attached to the house or people.
  4. Learn the magic of leverage.
  5. Cultivate relationships with other investors and people involved in real estate investing.
  6. Keep learning from others.
  7. Give to others and share your information, wealth, and knowledge.

By purchasing 20 single family rental properties that each generated $1,000 cash flow per month, and completing those purchases in five years, with each property financed on a 15-year note with at least 20 percent down payment, the McKissacks were able to keep investing in additional properties.

The HOLD strategy isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but a long, slow process that involves learning how to build and sustain a strong team and how to run your real estate career as a business, not a job. These and more tips and information on building passive income are in a recent webinar featuring McKissack. Learn more about the team-building cycle, including how to hire great people who can take you greater financial and business success, by listening to the entire webinar.

For more information, please visit connect.homes.com.

Report: Homeownership Is More Than Just the Facts

Source: RISMedia

Homeownership is the epitome of the American Dream not only for its advantages as a financial asset, but also for its sociocultural value—in fact, most renters associate owning a home with the ultimate ideal, despite having some difficulty affording it.

A recent report by cost information website HowMuch.net reveals the goal is within reach—for some—and most are set on realizing it regardless of cost.

In a side-by-side analysis of monthly housing costs, the slimmest gaps between owning and renting are shown to be in the Rust Belt and the Southeast. Homeownership in West Virginia is the most easily achievable, requiring only $297 above and beyond the cost of renting. A home in Indiana, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina is also relatively attainable.

Credit: “Buying vs. Renting a Home by State” by HowMuch.net

Many states favor renters expense-wise—the Garden State having the starkest contrast between renting and owning—but the intangible implications of homeownership, such as privacy and security, are outweighing cost barriers. The report cites recent Census data showing that although the homeownership rate is idling, owner household formation is occurring faster than renter household formation.

Still, the monthly cost of owning is, for many would-be homeowners, a non-issue. The report concludes:

That ideal vision of “home” is strong enough to convince over half of all Americans to stretch their budgets in search of the yard with white picket fences. In all, no amount of data can overcome the perfect image of the ideal home.

Source: HowMuch.net

Take Pet Pampering to the Next Level with These Fabulous Dog Houses

Source: RISMedia

Dog owners are infamous for providing their furry ones with a better lifestyle than their own. For instance, you might recall the time Paris Hilton had a replica of her mansion done for her pet Chihuahua.

We don’t need to go there, but there are definitely plenty of crazy options in the market. Who knows, one of them might catch your fancy.

Mediterranean Villa

Is your dog named Quixote? Donatello? If not, you might as well rename them, especially if that means they get to live in this woof-tastic villa. Look at that wooden double door! Seriously, if you can’t win your dog’s affection with this one, then just stop trying.

The Full-Fledged Mansion


via LaPetiteMaison.com

If you’re going to go all out, you might as well just get your dog a straight-up mansion. If you already own a mansion (like Paris), I’d say it’s only fair you share the wealth. (Although your dog probably has its own room in the house. But why not both? #Excess.)

Related: When it Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

The Victorian Home


via LaPetiteMaison.com

I’m a big fan of Victorian homes, so I’d probably go for this one… for myself? How is that a dog house? I only wish my downtown New Haven apartment looked as picturesque as this puppy’s home. I hope his name is Darcy and that he wants to be my friend.

The Dog-equivalent of the “Home Alone” Mansion


via LaPetiteMaison.com

I’d say this is pretty close to the McCallister home, right? (As far as dog houses go, at least.) I can totally imagine dogs holding town meetings inside this bad boy. If I were a dog myself, I’d probably prefer sleeping in here than inside my owner’s run-down home. Because let’s face it, the dog who owns this home is definitely much better off than his owner.

And this was just a quick search! There are legitimate houses for dogs out there. As in, a concrete building with rooms where only your dog(s) reside(s). I know there’s always stuff to fix around the house, but surely your four-legged friend takes priority?

Have some cool dog houses you want to share with us? Tweet them to @HousecallBlog!

Puget Sound Energy Rebates For Appliance Purchases

As a reminder, PSE is currently offering the following rebates:

$25 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Freezers
$75 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Refrigerators and Clothes Washers
$75 Rebates on Smart Thermostats
$150 Rebates on Heat Pump Dryers
$500 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Gas Dryers
$500 Rebates on Electric Vehicle Chargers

Visit PSE.com/Rebates to learn more information about these PSE Energy Efficiency programs.

Call Before You Dig! Guidelines For Preventing Underground Utility Damage

Preventing Underground Utility Damage

The only way you can be sure that you are digging safely is to Call 811 Before You Dig, and request a FREE underground utility locate.

How to Request a Locate

At least two business days before you plan on digging:

Be sure to provide the following information:

  • Where you’re planning to dig, and
  • What type of work you will be doing.

Affected local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig. They will send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground utilities, following the color codes to the right, so you’ll know what’s below – and be able to dig safely.

Digging anywhere in the state of Washington without calling for a utility locate is against state law. Failure to call may result in fines, charges for damages, and criminal convictions.

For more information, visit www.call811.com.

Smart Digging

When digging within two feet of the marked area, only use small hand tools such as a garden trowel to carefully expose the utility line. Keep in mind that utility installation is not the same for all utilities and requirements have changed through the years. Not all utilities are installed with protective casings and can be vulnerable to damage by tools as simple as a shovel. Always proceed with caution when digging around utility lines.

Utility Locate Problem?

If a locate was late, inaccurate, or incomplete – report it to the UTC. Call 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or email consumer@utc.wa.gov. You can also file a complaint with the Washington Dig Law Safety Committee.

Dig Law Safety Committee

Iif you feel a violation of the state dig law has occurred, you can file a complaint with the Washington Dig Law Safety Committee. The committee, created by statutory requirement, is made up of 13 members representing a variety of stakeholders throughout the digging and utility industry. The committee will hear complaints and make recommendations to the UTC for enforcement action. If you want to file a complaint with the Dig Law Safety Committee, visit: www.washington-ucc.org.

Call Before You Dig Videos

    • “Don’t Be Like Me” Public Service Announcements 

Safe Digging Month

Cost vs. Value: Which Home Improvements Offer the Highest ROI in 2017?

Source: RISMedia

With the many different projects reported annually in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost  vs. Value Report, not much has changed from last year…and that’s not a bad thing. The 29 projects found on this year’s report paid back an average of 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value. Looking at the 24 most tracked projects (projects consistently tracked for the last six years), their payback for 2017 was also 64.3 cents—only three-quarters of a penny higher than 2016 projections.

Why the little change? Simply put: the differences in underlying numbers was minimal year-to-year. The average cost for those 24 projects rose a meager 3 percent, while the value that real estate professionals put on said projects only rose 4.2 percent. Minor gains, yes, but we’ll take what we can get.

Recent and long-time trends continued, reports Remodeling. Curb appeal projects like changes to doors, windows and siding garnered a higher ROI than work done inside the home. Replacement projects, like doors or windows, scored higher among real estate pros than did remodels.

On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “midrange” cost category are:

  1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) (107.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,343
    Average Resale Value: $1,446
  2. Entry Door Replacement (steel) (90.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,413
    Average Resale Value: $1,282
  3. Manufactured Stone Veneer (89.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $7,851
    Average Resale Value: $7,019
  4. Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.2% ROI)
    Average Cost: $20,830
    Average Resale Value: $16,699
  5.  Garage Door Replacement (76.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,749
    Average Resale Value: $1,345

The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “upscale” cost category are:

  1. Garage Door Replacement (85.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,304
    Average Resale Value: $2,810
  2. Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) (77.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,276
    Average Resale Value: $2,550
  3. Window Replacement (vinyl) (73.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $15,282
    Average Resale Value: $11,286
  4. Window Replacement (wood) (73.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,759
    Average Resale Value: $13,691
  5.  Grand Entrance (fiberglass) (70.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $8,358
    Average Resale Value: $5,855

Regionally, the Pacific division (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii) saw an average payback of 78.2 percent for all projects, with 10 projects posting cost-recouped levels of at least 90 percent. The East North Central states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, however, saw an average of just 54.9 percent, with no single project offering a payback of as much as 80 cents on the dollar.

At the other end of the spectrum are projects with the lowest returns on investment—improvements generally not in demand by the market. Again on a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category are:

  1. Bathroom Remodel (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,546
    Average Resale Value: $12,024
  2. Master Suite Addition (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $119,533
    Average Resale Value: $77,506
  3.  Backyard Patio (54.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $51,985
    Average Resale Value: $28,546
  4.  Backup Power Generator (54.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $12,860
    Average Resale Value: $6,940
  5.  Bathroom Addition (53.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $43,232
    Average Resale Value: $23,283

The five projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category are:

  1. Major Kitchen Remodel (61.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $122,991
    Average Resale Value: $76,149
  2. Master Suite Addition (59.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $250,687
    Average Resale Value: $150,140
  3. Bathroom Remodel (59.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $59,979
    Average Resale Value: $35,456
  4. Bathroom Addition (57.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $81,515
    Average Resale Value: $46,507
  5. Deck Addition (composite) (56.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $39,339
    Average Resale Value: $22,171

The 2017 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 99 markets, the average cost of 29 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals. View the full report, including project descriptions and city-level data, here.