10 Ways To Get Your Kitchen Sparkling Before Listing Your Home

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house making it also the most difficult to keep clean. However, with a little planning and deep-cleaning up front, you can keep the mess at bay. Here are ten recommendations for getting and keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape when it is listed: 

  1. Cabinets  – Reducing clutter in cabinets is essential for making your kitchen seem spacious to potential buyers. We recommend that you first get rid of everything that isn’t coming with you to your new home, such as old spices, broken dishes, and duplicate spatulas — Only keep what you will need for the next 90 days.  
  2. Cabinet Facing – If your cabinet doors are a little worn or just greasy, first give them a cleaning as appropriate for their finish. If they need a little sprucing up, call in a cabinet refacing expert (we know a stellar expert, if you’re interested!) It will be much cheaper than replacing and the results are almost always amazing! 
  3. Countertops – Depending on the material your counters are made of, give them an appropriate cleaning. Make sure the seams between pieces are clean and re-caulk if needed. 
  4. Oven – The oven should get a good cleaning on the self-clean cycle. Also give the stovetop a deep clean, restoring it to new condition with the best of your ability. This is also a good time to clean the filters in the range hood. 
  5. Fridge – Is it really necessary to stage the inside of your fridge? Yes! First, make a concerted effort to declutter by throwing away everything you aren’t taking with you. Old cheese, ketchup packets, and random condiments need to be disposed of. Then give the shelves and drawers a good cleaning. Do a similar treatment to the freezer
  6. Dishwasher – Although this does a good job of cleaning itself, clean the filter, clean the bottom and run a cycle with white vinegar if appropriate for your model. 
  7. Garbage – The area around the garbage can can get a little messy. Give it a good cleaning and clean the garbage can while you are at it – inside and out. Same with any recycling containers.
  8. Sink – For your sink area, make sure the drain is sparkling clean, detail around the faucet, replace the sponge often, and run some citrus or vinegar down the drain to clear grease and smells.  
  9. Dishes and Glasses – When you clean your cabinets, you may find that your dishes are chipped and you are ready for a new set. A fresh set of matching dishes and glasses can be just the ticket for breathing new life into your cabinet, but don’t include more than a set of eight.  
  10. Pots and Pans – Determine your three to five most-needed pots and pans and pack up or get rid of the rest. If they are in rough shape, resist the urge to use a pot rack or store them on the cooktop. Find a handy cabinet and stack neatly. 

A kitchen will usually be the make or break point for a potential buyer, so take the time to make this room shine and make it sparkle for the duration of the listing. 

Investment Property Expenses: The Basics

If you are considering purchasing an income-producing property, whether for short-term or long-term rentals, it is important to understand the expenses attached to this type of investment. While the potential income to be generated from rent received is usually the most attractive part of ownership — along with anticipated appreciation — expenses will inevitably take a huge bite out of that income. And really, the potential gross income is not as important to your bottom line as the potential net income. 

Below are some of the more general expenses you can expect to find for both short-term and long-term property rentals. These lists will provide you with a framework to find out as much as you can about a property’s historic expenses before purchasing so you can make sure the real income and expenses fall in line with your expectations: 

Short-Term Property Rental

  • Mortgage (if applicable)
  • Property Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Property Management (if applicable)
  • Utilities
    • In a short-term rental, these would be the owner’s responsibility
  • HOA dues (if in a HOA or condo association)
  • Advertising/Booking Service (such as on VRBO)
  • Garden/Lawn Maintenance/Landscaping
  • Cleaning 
  • Toilet Paper/Paper Towels/Supply Restocking
  • Local Occupancy and/or Income Taxes
  • Local Permits Maintenance

Long-Term Property Rental

  • Mortgage (if applicable)
  • Property Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Property Management (if applicable)
  • Utilities
    • Some might be owner responsibility while others may get passed on to the tenant
  • HOA dues (if in a HOA or condo association)
  • Advertising the rental (when vacant)
  • Garden/Lawn-mowing/Landscaping
  • Local Income Taxes 
  • Local Permits Maintenance

Don’t forget — real vacancy rates will also take a bite out of income! 

However, we haven’t yet accounted for the tax benefits of owning an income-producing property. Although you will want to form a tax strategy with your accountant, make sure he or she thoroughly understands how to use the tax code to your best interest. 

One other thing to keep in mind as you measure the income and expenses of owning an investment property is that time is usually on the side of the investor. The amount received in rent usually increases per year, while expenses may not increase as rapidly, and if any mortgage is at a fixed rate, that amount won’t increase.

It is important to understand the full scope of owning an investment property before moving forward. If you are just beginning to think about purchasing a home intended for long or short-term rentals, reach out and we’d be happy to help!

Kick Up Your #GarageGoals

Here are ten improvements you can make to your garage to make the space work for you and your family. Fair warning: your neighbors will be jealous.

Most home buyers covet a good garage space, especially when they live somewhere as outdoors-focused as Eastern Washington. The key to making it as efficient as possible is to get organized. Here are ten improvements you can make to your garage to make the space work for you and your family. Fair warning: your neighbors will be jealous.

  1. Storage racks or cabinets – Do you prefer a clean and streamlined look with things tucked away? If so, cabinets with doors may be the answer. However, sturdy racks generally cost less, are moveable, and labeled bins will make easy work of finding camping or sporting equipment.
  2. Overhead storage – If your garage has some height, continue that storage all the way up! You can even get ceiling-mounted shelves and sliders for bins. 
  3. Recreation equipment pulleys – Homeowners are also taking advantage of vertical space by lofting their bikes and kayaks up and above head and car levels with pulleys.
  4. Tool rack – Regardless of whether you are a gardener in need of a hanging system for your rakes and shovels or a handyperson who needs a place to easily access a hammer, drill, and tape measure, having a peg board (which comes in plastic, metal, and hardboard) with hooks and/or a large tool hanging system is the way to go. You can even get small wire bins for storing things that don’t quite hang on a rack. 
  5. Lighting – If your garage is woefully lit with a few 60W lights, that is no way to light up a workspace. Upgrading your lighting in the garage is easy, can be done by visiting a home improvement store and possibly hiring an electrician.  
  6. Epoxy floor – Once a cement garage floor has been sealed and epoxied, it is much easier to clean and it is less likely to get stained. Plus, it looks great! 
  7. Work space – Do you need a flat surface to take on those tasks that are better suited for a garage than the kitchen table? If so, consider a moveable work cart that allows you to lock the wheels in place for security, and can work both in the garage and in the driveway! 
  8. Ventilation – If you use paint and solvents that need ventilation, make sure you include a fan plan! 
  9. Designated car space – If you park in the garage, mark your car clear areas with heavy reflective tape. Family members will be less likely to leave something where it shouldn’t be. 
  10. Upgrade your garage door – Not only will this really enhance your curb appeal, but a garage door that will let in some light can also make the garage a more enjoyable place to spend time!

If you are short on ideas as to how to implement this or need some visuals for inspiration, just do an online search for garage organization and you will be amazed at what people have come up with (try checking out Pinterest!) If you have a collection of a certain type of item – say fishing poles, a lot of different kinds of tape, or even bats and balls, there are plenty of ingenious ways to corral those items. 

In our experience, a well-organized, brightly-lit garage goes a long way when selling. Make this your summer project and you will thank yourself when it is time to sell. 

Summer Sale? Get Ready!

Summer is the most popular time of year to sell a home in most areas of the country, particularly in places like Washington State where seasonal weather changes have a major impact on home owners. But no matter the season you sell, there are some things you should pay particular attention to for showing your home to prospective buyers. Here are some tips for having your home listed in the summer:

  • Define those outdoor spaces and make them pop! You may have a deck, patio, or seating around a fire pit. Make these outdoor rooms inviting by investing in new chair cushions and some bright flowers in containers. An outdoor rug can also liven things up. If you have outdoor lights, make sure all the light bulbs work and turn them on if you’re showing your home during the evening hours.
  • Don’t be stingy with the air conditioner. There is nothing worse than a heatwave to turn off buyers if your air conditioner is on the fritz. Before putting your home on the market, have your air conditioning unit serviced. Then, don’t be stingy! Keep your home under 75 degrees, even when you are not at home. You never know when potential buyers are going to come through and you want their home viewing experience to be comfortable. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, be sure to turn on ceiling fans and open doors and windows to create a pleasant circulation of air through your home.
  • Quell smells. Heat can cause smells to be at their worst! Stay on top of the dishes and cooking smells, take out garbage twice a day, run citrus down the garbage disposal, keep leftovers in the fridge to a minimum, make sure your pets are clean, cat litter scooped daily, and your carpets vacuumed and fresh. 
  • Keep the plants freshened – indoors and out. Indoor plants can get dried out quickly during the summer, so keep them watered and fertilized. For outdoor plants, water regularly and trim off the dead flowers and foliage. If you have hanging baskets and planters, watering daily is critical. If you do have indoor plants, consider purchasing fresh flowers to display around your home during viewings and open houses.
  • Keep the lawn even and trimmed. Mow twice a week when it is at peak growing season. Use trimmers or weed whackers to keep the stray blades at bay. Remember that your lawn will dry out quickly during the summer as well, so be sure to water regularly and maintain any sprinkler systems if needed.
  • Make your pool and fountains sparkle. Buyers love water features — whether it is a pool, fountain, or pond. But a little missed maintenance can quickly make buyers think they may get in over their head. Also consider leaving the information of any services you use to keep your home and property in tip-top shape!
  • Wasps, mosquitoes, and ants – oh my!  Insects are out in droves this time of year. Make sure you patrol your property at least a couple of times per week to be on the lookout for flare ups which can be an indication of an impending infestation.

If you are planning on listing your home this summer, the time to prepare is now. The Rarden Team will be there for you at every step of the process — let’s make a plan to make your home show its best!