Moving Into a Vacation Home

by Sandy Dodge

A man and a woman stare out the window of their home.

For some homeowners, purchasing a second home – or a vacation property – provides a place where they can have a change of scenery and an escape from day-to-day living. Since the start of the pandemic, a number of homeowners have chosen to move into their vacation homes to do exactly that on a longer-term basis. However, certain aspects of buying and moving into a vacation home differ from a traditional home purchase, so it’s important to work with a buyer’s agent who understands the nuances of both.

Before You Buy

One of the first things to consider before buying a vacation property is whether you are financially ready to take on everything that comes with managing and maintaining another home. If you’re still in deep with your primary residence’s mortgage and are not cash-ready, it may not be the best time to purchase a second home.

Like any home purchase, there are pros and cons to owning a vacation home. Vacation properties are likely to retain their value depending on where they’re located. They also allow you to experience the never-ending vacation lifestyle. However, owning a vacation property can come with its own set of unique expenses. Not only will be you responsible for all the maintenance work that you might normally leave to a property management company, but if the vacation home is located on the water or a steep hillside, you can also expect higher homeowner’s insurance costs.

Moving In

Any moving process presents unforeseen challenges and moving into a vacation home is no different. Whereas previously the home provided accommodation for relaxing, moving in will require it to meet the demands of everyday living. It may be high time to make repairs or upgrades to the home, which could drive up your move-in costs.

Before moving in, assess the condition of all furnishings to get an idea of what needs replacing. Making the home your main residence will put added strain on your appliances, so what may have previously worked well for short-term stays won’t cut it for full-time living. Check your refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer and dryer to see if they need updating before moving in.

If you’ll be working remotely in your vacation home, think about your desired work conditions before putting together your home office. Having a designated workspace will help balance your home and work life.

If you are interested buying or selling vacation property give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

Knowing When to Sell Your Home

by Sandy Dodge

A woman surrounded by boxes in her home checks her phone.

Of all the components involved in a successful home sale, there is perhaps no greater contributing factor than timing. Knowing when to sell your house gives you the best chance to make an impact when you hit the market. Every seller’s situation is unique but choosing when to sell comes down to how prepared you are, finding the right agent, and local market conditions. Once you’ve got a grasp of these elements, then you can decide if it’s the right time to sell.

Are You Ready to Sell? 

Before you sell your home, your finances must be in order. Equity is a natural starting point for assessing your financial health. To calculate your equity, you’ll need to know your home’s market value. Your real estate agent can help you determine this by conducting a comparative market analysis (CMA), which involves comparing your home to others in your area by such characteristics as square footage, the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, age, and lot size. Once you know your home’s market value, subtract your current mortgage balance from that number and you’ll have your current home equity. If your equity is negative, then it may not be the best time to sell.

Beyond your home equity, there are plenty of other financial factors to consider when preparing to sell. Selling a home does not come without its own set of costs. Commission fees, home repairs, inspectionsand staging are just some of the expenses you can expect to incur. For more information on the costs involved with selling your home, talk to your Windermere agent.

Selling a home is an emotional process that comes with significant lifestyle changes, so it’s important to make sure it’s the right time for you and everyone in your household. Part of a real estate agent’s’ role is understanding how the varying emotions of the selling process apply to different people. For every fear, worry, and hesitancy you may experience when trying to decide if it’s the right time to sell, your agent can share similar experiences while working with past clients.

Local Market Conditions 

The state of the real estate market in your area could dictate whether it’s the right time to sell. Various factors affect local market conditions like inventory, seasonality, mortgage rates, and home price growth. Talk to your real estate agent about what the local conditions mean for your selling strategy and what kind of buyer negotiations you can expect to encounter. Agents have the tools and know-how to perform a complete analysis of the market to help you decide when the right time is to sell.

Find the Right Agent 

Real estate agents are the catalyst for a successful home sale. They not only bring a wealth of resources to the table, but they can also offer helpful advice on the optimal time to sell. Agents can assess your goals for selling your home, how that aligns with your budget, and how those factors fit into the context of current local market conditions.

To truly know whether it’s the right time to sell, it’s important to find the right agent who understands the needs of your household. The more an agent knows about your situation, the better they can formulate a selling strategy. This also allows them to understand what the best offer for your home looks like. When searching for an agent, ask for referrals from your inner circle. Interview multiple agents to get an idea of their qualities, and select the one that makes the most sense for you.

When you are ready to find the right agent give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

7 Weekend Home Projects

by Sandy Dodge

A woman repaints a chair in her living room.

So many projects, so little time. That tends to be the mantra for homeowners with an ever-growing to-do list and limited availability to accomplish their tasks. Fortunately, the weekend is an opportunity to dig into certain projects and see them to their completion by the time the weekdays come around again. These seven weekend home projects can be accomplished within a couple of days and will make a dent in your to-do list.

1. Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinets

Giving your kitchen cabinets a facelift is a simple way to give your kitchen a makeover. When staining wood cabinets, begin by removing the cabinet doors and hardware, then wipe the doors to clear away and dust and dirt. After applying and removing wood stripper, sand the doors to get them primed and ready for a new stain. When painting cabinets, choose a color that works well with your appliances. As you pack up the contents of the cabinets keep your most frequently used items nearby so you can access them during your  project. To add a finishing touch to your weekend cabinet makeover, shop around for new hardware and drawer inserts.A kitchen with dark blue cabinets and white tile.

Image Source: Getty Images

2. Refresh Your Front Entry

Your home’s front entry is the key to making a lasting first impression and helps to enhance your curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a fresh coat of boldly colored paint, look for stylish house numbers, and add classic front entry elements like a sitting bench or swing for ultimate comfort.

3. Improve Your Home Office

Whether you work remotely or in person, much can be done in a weekend to improve the functionality of your home office. Creating an environment conducive to your productivity helps to separate your office from the rest of your home, maintaining a balance between your work life and your home life. Situate your desk near a window to attract natural light. If the room has no windows, orient your seating so you’re facing the open space of the room. Experiment with therapy lights, ergonomic chairs, and soothing décor to make your office as comfortable as can be.

4. Curate Your Bathroom

In one weekend your bathroom can be transformed into a sanctuary of self-care. Refinishing your tub is a cost-effective alternative to a replacement. Start by removing any and all hardware, then sand the whole surface, filling in any cracks or holes with putty. Once you’ve sanded down the putty, apply multiple layers of primer and topcoat following the manufacturer’s instructions and buff the surface. Replace your vanity’s cabinet hardware and drawer pulls, matching them with your shower rod, faucet and shower head to tie the room together. Switch out your shower curtain and carpets for bold colors to liven up the space or choose neutral tones to create an organic feel.A bathroom with a dark blue vanity, white walls, and white tile.

Image Source: Getty Images

5. Organize Room-By-Room

Spending a weekend organizing each room of the house is sure to make a big difference in the look and feel of your home. Bookcases and coffee tables are magnets for clutter in the living room. Start by emptying everything and sort the items into three piles: keep, dispose, donate, (this method of organization will do wonders for your closets and bedroom as well), and invest in storage bins to keep the space tidy. In the bathroom, organize the medicine cabinet and vanity drawers first. Get rid of expired medication, makeup, and toiletries. Take the same approach to your shower. Once you’ve gone through everything, reassess your shower shelving to fit your newly organized inventory. After working your way through your kitchen cabinets, consider either a hanging or wall-mounted pot and pan rack to save space.

6. Fix Up Your Fence

Whether your fence needs a simple wash, a new sealant or stain, or repair, tending to it will freshen up your yard while also extending the life of your fence. Power washers are a helpful tool in getting your fence clean before re-staining, but a sprayer that’s too powerful could damage the wood. Let the fence dry for one to two days before applying the stain. As long as any damage that needs repair is contained to a section of the fence, a weekend should be plenty of time to get it fixed. To replace any damaged rails, pry them off their posts with a crowbar or cut the damaged section out with a handsaw. When repairing fence posts, be sure to remove any rails that are connected to it.

7. Build a Firepit

Common firepit materials include brick, stone, or cinder blocks. Outline your firepit before you start digging. Once the hole is dug six to eight inches deep, fill in the hole with gravel until it is level with the ground. Choose your materials, fix the stones into the ground, compact them together, and enjoy your time by the fire. Check for local burn bans or regulations.

If you are interested buying or selling “fixer” property give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

7 Tips to Give Your Short-Term Rental a Competitive Advantage

by Sandy Dodge

A man works on his laptop with a view of a lake outside the window.

As the usage of short-term rental services has increased over the years, so too has the competition between rental owners to make their properties stand out. There are a variety of marketing tactics you, as a rental owner, can employ to give your home an edge, but ultimately, making the property as appealing as possible is the best way to ensure your strategies are effective.

1. Boost Your Curb Appeal

Renters are scrolling through pages and pages of properties, looking for something that catches their eye at first glance. To make your property stand out, invest time and energy into the home’s curb appeal. Making these improvements doesn’t necessarily require breaking the bank, either. Simple projects like a fresh coat of exterior paint, refinishing the patio or deck, and creating a beautiful yard will go a long way towards helping your home stand out amongst the competition.

2. High-Quality Photography

Once you’ve spent time curating and beautifying your rental, it’s important to communicate its feel to potential renters. High-quality photos give renters the best impression of what it’s like to spend time in the home. Photograph every room in bright lighting to make the space as inviting as possible. Be sure to thoroughly clean every room before taking photos to have it looking as inviting as possible.

3. Improve Your Description

After potential guests explore your photos, they’ll read your property’s description. While it’s helpful to read descriptions of other listings in your area to get an idea of what tenants are looking for, it’s important to communicate the unique attributes of your home. Talk about what makes it special, emphasize the selling points, and reference what renters are seeing in the photos you’ve provided.

4. Repair or Replace Your Appliances

When guests are paying for a rental, they expect everything to be in fine working order. To make your property stand out, consider repairing or replacing your appliances. This makes for a more enjoyable stay and could potentially offer you a competitive advantage. All appliances have a certain life expectancy, so if you haven’t replaced your appliances in a while, it just may be time to do so.

5. Upgrade Your Bedroom and Bathroom

Renters are looking to relax, so any luxury you can provide them will do wonders for giving your property an edge amongst the competition. Two areas of the home where you can deliver on luxury are the bedroom and the bathroom. From the bedspread and pillows to the curtains and rugs, experiment with different textures in the bedroom to make it as comfortable as can be. A high-quality mattress is also a worthy investment to make your guests’ stay all the more memorable.

By making simple upgrades to your bathroom, you can give the guests the feeling of having their own personal spa. High-quality shower heads and a spacious, relaxing tub will help to deliver a luxurious atmosphere to your bathroom, as will meticulously cleaning the space and keeping your surfaces well organized.

6. Upgrade Your Kitchen

A welcoming kitchen is the key to making your rental feel like home. Kitchen makeovers often come at a high cost, but there are ways to transform your kitchen without breaking the bank. Start by upgrading your lighting, giving your walls a fresh coat of paint, and refinishing your cabinets. If your kitchen needs new appliances, remember to select them first before making any renovations to ensure their dimensions are correct.

7. Provide a Workspace

With more people working remotely than ever before, some renters will likely look at your property as a potential place to conduct their work. Accommodating these guests with a quality workspace can make your rental stand out. Consider making the workspace multifunctional using items like a folding desk. This gives remote workers the option to stow their home office setup at the end of the day while ensuring that the workspace won’t be a permanent fixture for guests on vacation.

If you are interested buying or selling a short term rental property on beautiful Orcas Island give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

Lessons Learned – Buying Orcas II

Back again! It’s now September of 2001 and I’m off to Orcas Island to hunt for property. Let’s take a moment to talk about a few things I should have thought about before I started looking.

Orcas, as you’ve probably already figured out, is located in the Pacific Northwest. Summer days are long and warm.  As a summer visitor from San Diego one tends to forget the flip side of that benefit, the short, cold days of winter. Orcas is mountainous. During the winter the north sides of Mount Constitution, Pickett, Entrance, Willard, Turtleback, Buck, etc. receive significantly less light than the south sides.

Mount Baker
Mount Baker

There are a large number of tall trees growing on the island. These factors should be considered when planning to purchase a home in which you intend to live during the winter. I’m not suggesting that you eliminate a home on the north side of a mountain. But it could be a consideration if you are trying to decide between two homes.

The economy on Orcas is tourist-based. If you plan to rent out the house when you aren’t vacationing, expect very little income. You might consider turning the property into a vacation rental but there is a down-side to that also. I’ll talk a little more about renting in a future blog post.

Okay, back to Orcas and hunting for property versus sitting on a log at North Beach drinking in the view.

North Beach
North Beach

I’ve found a couple of vacation rental condos available in Eastsound. They have a fabulous view of the water, a live-in property manager to handle all the details of renting and are well within my budget. The market analysis indicates rising values. Everything looks attractive except the limitation on how much I can use the place myself.

While I agonize over my decision it is brought to my attention that a certain family member will be heartbroken if I don’t at least look at the home they have for sale. The price is a smidgen above my comfort price but well within my qualification. I figure it wouldn’t hurt to at least look at the place.

And now we come to my first mistake. I fell in love with the view. I’m certain that I was manipulated into a visit at sunset. The sky was a palette of color ranging from deep blue to gold to bright orange. I could see sail boats off the northwest shore and the Canadian Rockies in the distance. In front of this was a perfect view of one of my favorite places on the island, Madrona Point.

Who wouldn't fall in love with this view?
Who wouldn’t fall in love with this view?

What color was the carpet? Don’t know, wasn’t installed yet. Did the roof leak? Don’t know, wasn’t finished. Decks were in the process of being built. You could not inspect the foundation because the crawl space was filled with junk. Appliances were sitting ready there ready to install. Lesson learned, make sure the work is complete before you close escrow. And have a second inspection to be sure the work is completed properly.

I wrote the offer anyway. I thought that since this was a purchase from a family member I was reasonably assured that the work would be completed with good attention to detail so I skipped the second inspection. Unfortunately the contractor they hired didn’t install a critical flashing. Years later I faced an expensive repair. Oh and maybe you should spend a little time looking at the house instead of the view. Just a thought.

Stay tuned for things I’ve learned about home inspections. Or if you are ready to start your property-hunting adventure call me at 619.224.9015 and we’ll get started.