5 Factors for Newlyweds When Buying Your New Home.

Newlyweds: Here Are 5 Factors to Consider when Buying Your New Home

By Kyla Stellingyoung-couple-new-house-776100-gallery
Now that the wedding is over, you and your spouse are ready for the next exciting milestone: homeownership. There are so many factors you need to keep in mind and you want it to be a pleasant house-hunting experience. The following are just a few things you should take into account when you’re in the market for a new home.

Marriage is a big transition and it may come with some adjustments to your lifestyle. Have a talk with your spouse and discuss your long-term goals, such as whether you want to start a family or move to a different location for job possibilities. You also should take into account the safety of the neighborhood, the school district in which you live and the amount of families that reside in the area. If you’re thinking about having kids in the near future, having great public schools nearby is important.

Required Space
Discuss what your expectations are for square footage and the general space you want within your home. Keep in mind the space you need for day-to-day activities, family gatherings and your future children. Create a list that helps you prioritize what kind of space is important to you as individuals and as a couple. For example, if you host a lot of parties, you may want to prioritize a large kitchen and living room. If one of you works from home or needs office space, put that on the top of your list.

Keep in mind that compromise is often necessary. Identify which spatial features are and aren’t deal-breakers. House Simple compares some of the things you may want to compromise on, such as the amount of space versus the location, and the fixable faults, like ugly hardware or kitchen countertops.

Bed and Bath Layout
The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home is another important factor you should discuss. Talk about whether or not you want your home to be able to lodge many bodies or if you would prefer to not have visitors. Just make sure you don’t go over your budget, because the number of rooms and bathrooms has a major influence on the asking price of the house. Decide if you really need that extra guest bedroom if it means sacrificing a large kitchen or the perfect location.

If you intend to add on an extra bedroom or bathroom in the future, check the county’s code and permit requirements and the potential cost of the addition. HomeAdvisor puts the cost of a total bathroom remodel at an average of $9,348. If this is less than what it would cost to buy a house with an extra bathroom, then it may be worth it to wait and build a bathroom that is to your exact specifications.

Hidden Expenses
When you determine your budget for your home, make sure you include any ongoing expenses the home has. Utilities are a major cost that vary based on the sustainability and efficiency of your house. Consider the cost it may take to upgrade your heating and cooling system, major appliances, and windows and doors. It may cost more upfront but save you a lot of money in the future, so it’s important to figure out what you can afford in the short and long term. You also should be aware of costs like homeowners association dues, structural update costs, property taxes, insurance and any other regional fees.

Home Security
Look for a home that you can keep safe and sound with solid security features. Search for houses that have trees and tall shrubbery around the lot’s perimeter so they can block the street view of your home. This natural barrier is pleasant to look at and helps prevent burglars from scoping out or monitoring your home.

You also should protect your new valuable asset with a security camera system. Take note of houses you are looking at that have existing CAT5e or BNC security camera cabling. This can save you time and money on security camera installation. Even if your dream house doesn’t have these wires already doesn’t mean that you can’t have this safety feature, though. Installing a full security camera system is not as complex as it once was and doesn’t necessarily require professional installation. Once you know what you’re looking for, you should choose a security camera system that has the security features you need to feel safe and protected night and day, such as HD resolution, long-range night vision, audio capabilities, or ultra-wide angle lenses.

Shopping for your first home as a newlywed couple should be a fun and memorable experience. Be sure to discuss your needs ahead of time, stick to your budget and enjoy the process.

Can I still buy a home with rising interes t rates?

The Real Deal on Rising Rates: What It Means for Your Home-Buying Plans


You’ve taken all the necessary steps to get ready to buy a home. You’ve saved for a down payment, improved your credit score, got all your financial documentation in line, and figured out what price range you can afford. And then the interest rates went up. Is your dream of homeownership now unachievable?

According to recent data from realtor.com®, the share of first-time buyers planning to buy a home this spring fell sharply when mortgage rates began to rise toward the end of 2016. According to realtor.com®’s January survey of active homebuyers, 44 percent of buyers planning to buy in spring 2017 are first-time buyers. This has dropped significantly since the survey was conducted in October, when 55 percent of buyers planning a spring purchase indicated they were looking for their first home.

However, with inventory shortages and rising home prices, the urgency to buy now has never been greater. So before you shelve your plans for buying a home this spring, know the facts about rising rates and home prices.

The average 30-year conforming rate rose to more than 4.2 percent by the end of December 2016 from 3.4 percent at the end of September 2016. With average rates today about half a percentage point higher than they were in 2016, a median-priced home financed with 20 percent down would cost an additional $720 per year in added interest. That equals more than 1 percent of the median household’s income.

With affordability being a top concern for first-time buyers, a rising interest rate can be enough to scare you off. Kiplinger’s expects the 30-year mortgage rate to reach 4.6 percent by year’s end, with the 15-year rate at 3.8 percent. Add to that the continued increase in home prices due to low inventories in many parts of the country and you can see that holding off on a home purchase will probably only cost you more down the line.

Take a cue from repeat homebuyers who are actually being spurred into action by rising rates. Even with the current increases, interest rates remain historically low, and the movement in rates hasn’t yet tipped overall buyer demand down. Experienced buyers, in fact, are trying to close before rates increase further, as evidenced by increased realtor.com® listing views and decreased inventory. In the short term, the rate movement seems to have encouraged, rather than dampened, overall demand.

While concerns about affordability are valid, waiting may not help your long-term financial picture. Instead, consider looking for a home in a slightly lower price range, finding a way to increase your down payment, or looking in a neighborhood that may be more affordable. The good news? In today’s competitive market, your home will most likely increase in value and prove to be one of the smartest investments you could’ve made.

For more information about how rising interest rates will impact your home purchase, contact me today. 206-276-3289

The Nortshore Pacific Art Center, Bothell’s own performance theater

The Northshore Performing Arts Center

Bothell’s Own Art Center

Were you aware that Bothell is home to a beautiful state of the art theater that seats 600 in luxury with incredible acoustics and sound system, green rooms, and recording booth? We do. The Northshore Performing Arts Center is right here in Bothell,  bringing the performing arts and creative educational programs to our community and our families.

Today, I sat down with Hjalmer Anderson and Leslie Foley from The Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation (NPACF) to find out more about the theater and the foundation.

Hjalmer taught theater in the Northshore School District for  42 years.  He became the first technical director for the theater.  One of its positive aspects is that it continues to be maintained by a professional staff.  Most school theaters are maintained by students so don’t sustain the same quality found at the Northshore Performing Arts Center.  Hjalmer is also the current artistic director for the Woodinvile Repertory Theater and Vice President on the board of NPACF.

Leslie Foley is an actress who in 1995 heard about NPACF and was excited at the idea of a theater in her own community.  So, she made a donation and was invited to join the foundation.  She has been a part of NPACF ever since, and was the first president of the Northshore Theater Guild, the group in charge of its event planning, hospitality, fundraising and most aspects of volunteering.img_6202

In the early 1990’s this was a dream in the making. The Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation was established by Northshore-area residents (Bothell,Kenmore, Mill Creek, and Woodinville) who were committed to bringing a cultural center to their community.

Initially, the idea was to build their own theater. They looked at locations in Country Village, downtown Bothell, and the old Northshore bus barn.  However, the land for these sites was prohibitively expensive.  In the late 1990’s, after much  of the planning and fundraising had begun, they became aware that Bothell High School was going to undergo a complete remodel and planned to include a school theater. The NPACF decided to pledge $2,500,000 towards enhancing the planned school theater into a true performing arts facility with the caveat that they could use the theater.  Members of the community came forward to make it happen.  The Green Room was donated by the McAuliffe family, the ticket booth by Mills Music, and the recording booth by the Dunn family. In the lobby is the Heritage Board with all the names of the original community members that helped start the NPAC Foundation and pledged their financial support. picture2


The Northshore Performing Arts Center officially opened in 2005 and has been bringing 7-8 quality shows per season to the Northshore community.   It gives our community the opportunity to enjoy world class performing acts close to home.  In recent years it has partnered with the Emerald Ballet Company to make the “Nutcracker Ballet” a holiday tradition at the theater.

The theater is located on the campus of Bothell High School and is also used frequently by Northshore schools for music and drama department performances.

The NPACF provides performing arts presentations both at the theater and by bringing performing arts to children in local schools.

Where does Bothell’s Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation Go From Here?

Although NPACF has access to the theater at Bothell High School, it is somewhat restricted due to school hours and school district performances.  The cost of renting the space for performances of longer than one night is a bit prohibitive, too.  So, in addition to taking live performances out of the theater to local schools NPACF is looking to the City of Bothell for new ideas.

This city has recently announced that it is looking into forming an Arts commission and NPACF has petitioned to become a member. They don’t know what will come of this new development but they are excited for new possibilities to bring more performing arts to our community.

In speaking with these people I realized how much dedication there is in the Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation.  This is an all volunteer organization, and the members have been working long and hard to build and expand the organization.  But, they need help. They need volunteers and donations to continue growing.  They hope to eventually have access to another community space to expand, and are looking for feedback from the community for the type of performances people would like to see here.

Live art performances bring people to our community.  They eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores.  The expansion of the Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation will help to improve the overall economic outlook for the Northshore area, and provide us with fantastic entertainment along the way.

I have a link to  a survey.  Please take a moment to answer a few questions to help NPACF continue providing world-class performances to our Northshore community.  If you are interested in volunteering please reach out to The Northshore Performing Arts Center Foundation .  You will also find the event calendar on the same link.

Take Our Survey!

Turn Your Home into a Smart Home

Get Smart: 5 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Smart Home

By Mikkie Mills

Smart homes are rapidly gaining popularity. Being able to control numerous features of your home even while you are away is not only convenient, but it can increase security. There are all kinds of ways to turn your home into a smart home. Some are a little more expensive than others. The following five home automation steps can help you get started.

1. Control your appliances from your smartphone.
You can invest in new appliances that have this feature, or you can replace electrical devices, such as sockets or plugs, with a smart version. A smart power strip is another option. It is as simple as plugging it in and connecting your devices or appliances. Each plug in the power strip works independently. Android and Apple are supported by the power strip and you can control these devices from anywhere. You can turn any appliance on or off, get notifications when a television, computer, or other device is turned on, monitor carbon monoxide levels, and more.

2. Know how to control the security system.
Although most people have security systems in place, it is very beneficial to be able to control them from anywhere. When automated access is used, you can limit access to certain areas of the home, such as your office. In addition, your phone can notify you in the event of a problem even when you are not home. Cameras can be used so that you can see every room in your home from your smartphone. Outdoor cameras will allow you to see who has been on your property when you are at work or elsewhere.

3. Save energy by adding your heating and cooling to an automation system.
If you are gone all day and want to keep heating or cooling costs down, you simply lower or raise the temperature setting. Then you can put it on a comfortable level a half hour or so before you will arrive home. This gives the home time to warm up or cool down before you get home, so you are not heating or cooling an empty house. You can also control blinds with this system, allowing sunlight in for your plants and helping to warm the home during the winter.

4. Learn how to communicate with your home.
You can control your home using technology similar to what is used when you talk to your smartphone to tell it to dial numbers or look up information. Microphones and a software program which is put on your computer is the simplest way to set up your home to respond to voice commands. The system is set up to recognize words or a phrase to perform virtually anything from turning on or dimming lights to opening drapes, turning on music, enabling or disabling alarms, and more. If you want to know what the weather is like before going out, simply ask. The systems can be set up to answer questions, as well. There are many systems to choose from and with advances in technology, they are doing more and becoming less expensive.

5. Install a home theater system.
An automated home theater system will provide you with the feel of a movie theater in your home. Movies, videos, music, and more can be streamed throughout your home and even in outdoor areas used for entertaining. An app for your smartphone is simple to use to control all of this and more. Control the lighting for optimal viewing of movies. The sound can be adjusted, providing you with surround sound that is more like what is experienced in movie theaters.

These are just a few of the ways of making your home smart. Not only does an automated system in your home provide convenience and comfort, but it will also give you peace of mind.