4 Easy Gardening Tips

Keeping up with landscaping can take a lot of time and energy. Between weekly mowing, picking weeds, and tending to all of the plants it can be a lot of work for those who are busy. Check out these easy gardening tips for those who simply don’t have a lot of extra time for a jungle inspired garden.

  1. Plant a Xeriscape

If you live near a metro area surrounded by a natural flush of trees, or if you simply like the look of plants but don’t want the hassle of watering them, consider planting a xeriscape. This kind of landscaping is composed of plants that require little to no irrigation and are easy to take care of. Plants that do well in a xeriscape include lavender, ornamental grasses, and coneflowers. If you don’t live in a drought prone region, consider planting those native plants that already do well in your area. Native plants will need less attention as they are used to the conditions of your area and grow abundantly everywhere.

  1. Add a Timer

Take advantage of technology by setting up the watering on an automatic timer. Simply plug in the timer at the hose connection to the spigot and allow the timer to water your plants on a regular schedule. This will work well for those extra thirsty plants that need more water throughout the summer and you won’t forget to water since it will already be taken care of. Setting up a drip system for your plants is another easy way to make sure that they get watered without having to have added hoses or sprinklers constantly in the flower beds as well.

  1. Use Evergreens

There are many different evergreens that can be planted to add depth, height, and appeal to a yard. Evergreens are easy to maintain as they require little to no pruning and will stay green all year long. Plant a row of evergreen shrubs to add privacy to a yard as well as a constant wall of beautiful green color throughout every season. Evergreens may need a little extra watering during the hotter months as well as some pinecones that need to be picked up once a year. However, they are a great option for those homeowners who don’t want to have to mess with a lot of leaf raking or careful pruning like other trees.

  1. Renew Mulch Coloring

Mulch looks great when you just put it down but a few years later it can easily fade and become an eyesore. Although a little unconventional, you can paint the mulch to renew the coloring and overall look of landscaping. Simply use a paint sprayer along with a nice brown paint to paint the top of the mulch in order to get an updated look. Make sure that the mulch is where you want it before you paint as only the top will get painted when you spray it.

Yard maintenance can take a lot of time so help yourself by planting a xeriscape garden or using evergreens in your yard for yearlong beauty. Set up your watering on a timer or even consider painting the mulch in order to give a quick makeover for a dull looking yard. Doing all of these things will help those of us who are lazy landscapers have a beautiful yard as well as time to enjoy it!

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RE/MAX National Housing Report for April 2019

Spring Home Sales Back on Pace as Price Increases Moderate

April home sales finished just 1.1% below a year ago as selling times shortened and tight inventory held steady, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Meanwhile, April’s median home price of $251,000 in the report’s 54 markets was up a mere 2.1% – the smallest year-over-year April increase in eight years.

April’s year-over-year sales decline of 1.1% marked the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases, but April’s sales dip was the smallest during that time. At the same time, inventory increased 4.8% and marked the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year growth in number of homes for sale.

Compared to March, home sales in April sped up by a full week, taking an average of 52 days instead of 59. The average in April 2018 was 51 days. The Months Supply of Inventory in April decreased year-over-year from 3.0 to 2.6.

While the March-over-February increase in home sales of 28.8% was the smallest in five years, the April-over-March increase of 11.2% was an April-over-March record for the 10-year history of the report.

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for April 2019

Housing activity during April signaled good news for buyers in Western Washington as inventory continued to grow, the rate of price increases was slowing in many areas (and even decreasing in a few counties), and mortgage rates remained low.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics for last month show a 28.5 percent overall increase in active listings compared to the same month a year ago, a 5.8 percent gain in pending sales, and a 2.4 percent rise in median prices for sales of single family homes and condos that closed during April. The volume of closings dipped slightly (down 1.9 percent).

Seven counties had double-digit growth in inventory from a year ago, led by King County (up 78.5 percent) and Snohomish County (up nearly 57 percent). The number of active listings declined in 10 counties, with Jefferson County reporting the biggest drop at 24.8 percent. System-wide inventory at the end of April totaled 12,955 active listings, which represents a 7.8 gain from March.

Eight counties had double-digit increases in pending sales versus a year ago. In the four-county Puget Sound region, only King County had a double-digit gain, with a 15.1 percent jump in mutually accepted offers. Pierce County, with a 6.6 percent decrease, was one of seven counties reporting drops in pending sales. Even with mixed sales activity, supply remains tight.

Washington REALTORS® Win in the 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 Legislative Session ended April 28 and Washington REALTORS® had some big wins. We got REALTORS® exempted from a 20% B&O tax increase, killed an effort to undermine “in-house” transactions and passed much of our “Unlock the Door” campaign’s affordable housing agenda, including condo liability reform.

Protecting Our Members

Our trade association’s primary purpose is to protect our members. With that in mind, we were successful in fighting off a direct tax increase on your bottom line. Although the Legislature passed a 20% B&O tax increase that hit most service businesses, REALTORS® were not included. We reminded the Legislature that the B&O Small Business Tax Credit does not apply to REALTORS® because commissions are pooled, and they agreed that exempting REALTORS® was both fair and a reasonable policy decision.

Additionally, we protected the foundation of the industry’s business model. When a bill was introduced that would have changed many independent contractors to employees, we made sure REALTORS® were exempted.

Protecting Your Clients

From the first days of the Legislative Session, we knew that the Legislature was committed to a Tiered Real Estate Excise Tax, based on the idea that higher priced properties would pay more in REET. Although we did not support this proposal, the Legislature listened to us when we spoke and made significant changes, with the result that approximately 90% of transactions will pay the same or less Real Estate Excise Tax. All Transactions up to $500,000 will get approximately a 15% cut in REET. In fact, due to the marginal nature of the new tiered tax (a REALTOR® suggestion), all transactions up to about $1.75M should not be impacted. While this tax impacts commercial real estate and multifamily, it is hoped that the marginal nature of the tax structure will limit that impact. These new rates will not take effect until January 1, 2020.

Protecting the Transaction

Very early in the session, a bill was introduced in both the House and Senate to require all parties in an “in-house” transaction to have an attorney sign off at every step in the transaction. Obviously, this bill would make real estate more expensive for consumers and greatly impede transactions. Washington REALTORS® jumped in and made sure this proposal did not even make it out of Committee in either the House or the Senate.

Increasing Transactions

Thanks to great work from our Washington REALTORS® Condominium Work Group and some passionate members across the state, Washington REALTORS® was able to help pass condominium liability reform that continues to protect the consumer but adds a fairer standard that should encourage developers to start building condominiums again. After looking at the more balanced bill, one developer told us that once developers got comfortable with the new regulations, we should expect a “mini condo boom” in Washington. Additionally, while working with a number of stakeholders, we passed a bill that encourages cities to adopt growth policies that allow for additional density in a responsible way, including Accessory Dwelling Units, allowing duplexes and triplexes in single family zoning and cluster zoning or lot size averaging allowances.

4 Landscaping Ideas for Your Front Yard

Even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping, especially in the front yard.

Ignoring your front yard — or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood — can jeopardize the assessed value of your home.

Landscape economist John Harris says good landscaping can add up to 28% to the overall value of a house and cut its time on the market 10%-15%.

Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting the curb appeal of your yard:

#1 Plant a Tree

The value of mature trees is particularly difficult to determine. Lucco says that in his market, mature trees contribute as much as 10% of a $100,000 property’s overall value. In addition, a properly placed shade tree can shave as much as $32 a year on your energy bills. Expect to pay $50-$100 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.

You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the National Tree Benefit Calculator. For example, a mature Southern red oak tree with a diameter of 36 inches in the front yard of a house in Augusta, Ga., might add $70 to the property value.

#2 Green Up the Grass

If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green by following a lawn maintenance calendar. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.

“It’s so simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it,” says Mitch Kalamian, a landscape designer in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It will green up.”

If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. Sod will average about 15-35 cents/sq. ft., according to the National Gardening Association. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 30% to 50% to the total cost of the project.

Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Expect to pay $18-$30 for enough turf grass seed to plant 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

#3 Landscape Lighting

For homeowners who have made a sizeable investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10%-15% to the bill for professional outdoor lighting. After all, buyers aren’t always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.”

The cost of a system runs from $200 for a DIY installation to more than $4,000 for a professional job. If you‘re doing it on your own, the key is to light what you want people to see, such as mature trees and flowering shrubs.

#4 Colorful Planting Beds

Flower beds add color and help enliven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually get larger or spread with each growing season.

If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season, says Peter Mezitt, president of Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Mass. Try pansies in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall to add vibrant color. “That’s what we do around the entrance to our garden center,” Mezitt says.

6118 85th St SW, Lakewood, WA 98499

$409,900

4 bedrooms; 2.25 bathrooms; 1878 square feet

An impeccably maintained Gardener & Mechanic’s Paradise! Enjoy lots of natural light w/vaulted ceilings & skylights. The extra wide & deep detached garage/shop is heated & has its own driveway w/parking. Fully-fenced w/multiple gates, large covered patio, greenhouse w/tempered glass & power, & shed. Newer roof, water heater & appliances. Large kitchen opens to family rm w/gas fireplace, slider & new carpet. Formal living & dining rms w/notable natural wood & crown molding. Abundant storage too!

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Received Multiple Offers and is Pending Sale

How Cash-Strapped Consumers Can Become Homeowners and Build Equity

Anyone who has saved for a down payment for a home knows it’s tough — especially for first-time homebuyers. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 13 percent of first-time homebuyers said the most difficult step in the homebuying process was saving for a down payment.

It’s a misconception that a 20-percent down payment is required for a home purchase, when in reality, many home loan options exist that may be able to put consumers into a home for as little as three percent down. In fact, 77 percent of non-cash first-time homebuyers in 2018 purchased a property using a down payment of less than 20 percent. Buying a home may be within reach — RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage put together a list of the most popular loan options for first-time buyers.