Building a Deck- A Comparison of Materials

Building a Deck? A Comparison of Materials

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Looking for a way to enhance your outdoor space? A deck may be the answer. According to the experts at Fiberon Decking  the materials you decide to use, whether wood or composite, can affect the project from initial investment to maintenance years from now.

Building a deck with composite materials will cost more than virgin wood initially, but not as much as most homeowners think. The substructure is the same cost for either option and the remainder of the project could cost about 25 percent more for composite. However, most wood lumber is pressure-treated with different chemicals to boost its integrity and make it last longer.

That cost is often recouped over time because there is little maintenance required with composites – maintaining a wood deck can cost hundreds of dollars each year. Nail pops and splinters are common safety hazards with wood decks, as are cracked, warped and rotted boards that need to be replaced. And refinishing a wood deck can cost up to $850!

Composites are also environmentally-friendly – the material not only saves trees, but is created from recycled materials, keeping waste out of landfills.

Want to see how the numbers compare? Visit and check out the EPA’s GreenScapes Tools Excel Decking Cost Calculator.

Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Buyer Beware (of Maytag Appliances)


I just got of the phone with a supervisor named “Ingrid” at the Maytag “Customer Experience” call center. My Maytag French door bottom freezer refrigerator that I bought in 2006 just quit on Saturday. Not only did it quit but the ice door that drops ice out keeps opening and closing with a snapping sound that you can hear all over the house. It’s sort of like Chinese water torture without the water! She told me that Maytag made a decision to stop fixing this problem in January of 2013. She also told me that Maytag reserves the right to deny service to anyone who buys one of their products!
I guess that’s why they refer to it as a “Customer Experience” rather than “Customer Service”
I paid a couple of thousand dollars for that refrigerator and it is less than a 10 years old! I have a 15 year old Kenmore in my garage that I have never had a single problem with.
There have been many people who have reported the same problem. Maytag acknowledged that it was a fault in the manufacturing and was fixing it until January of 2013. This is one of two Maytag appliances I bought at the same time. The other was a washing machine that died earlier this year.
So I guess you can count on Maytag to last maybe 9 years if your lucky. Don’t buy Maytag appliances unless you are okay with a “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE” rather than “Customer Service”! #Maytag, #Badappliances, #Badcustomerservice

Complimentary First Time On-line Home Buyers Seminar!/ Google Chat 3-26-2015 7:00pm

downloadHave you been considering buying a home?  This seminar is for you!  So many people think that buying a home is just not something that they can do right now.  Here are some of the thoughts I hear everyday:

*I don’t have enough money to put down

*I don’t have good enough credit

*I want to wait for interest rates to come down

                                                  *   I can’t afford the payments

                                                   *  I can’t find my dream home

                                                     * etc., ect., etc.

Are you uncomfortable about going to a Realtor, or a lender because you don’t want to commit to something your not sure of?

This live seminar will cover all the information you need to make an informed decision on whether the time is right for you, or not to buy a home.

It’s short, live, and you can ask questions.

Please join us for this no obligation first time event- you will be glad you did!

Here’s the link:

#homebuying, #bothellhomesforsale, #bothell, #Buyingahome

Surveys Show That Mortgage Rates Are Moving Higher

Survey Shows Mortgage Rates Moving Higher on Strong Jobs Report
Mortgage rates are moving higher amid a strong jobs report, bringing rates back to where they were at the start of 2015, according to the recently released results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Results showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 4 percent since the week ending November 13, 2014.

“The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.86 percent for this week following a strong labor market report, essentially bring rates back to where they were at the start of the year,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac. “The U.S. economy created 295,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in January, both outperforming market expectations.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.86 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending March 12, 2015, up from the last week when it averaged 3.75 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.37 percent.

The 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from the previous week when it averaged 3.03 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.38 percent.

Results show the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.01 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from the last week when it averaged 2.96 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.09 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.46 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.44 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.48 percent.

For more information, visit

Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge

The 7 Most ommon Tax Scams and How to Avoid Them

The 7 Most Common Tax Scams  and How to Avoid Them  

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Filing season means three things: taxes, refunds and scams. Taxpayers should know that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax returns, even if it is prepared by someone else. Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest for taxpayers, as well as possible criminal prosecution.

To avoid jeopardizing your standing with the IRS, steer clear of these seven schemes.

  • Phone Scams: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things.
  • Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise. Taxpayers should be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.
  • Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft, especially around tax time. The IRS is making progress on this front, but taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid becoming a victim.
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
  • Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups and churches in seeking victims.
  • Fake Charities: Taxpayers should be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. Note charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations.
  • Abusive Tax Shelters: Taxpayers should avoid using abusive tax structures to avoid paying taxes. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered.


Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Thinking of Painting or Accenting Your Home? Think “Shades of Gray”

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I’m interested in seeing how many people go out in February to see the movie premier of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray,’ versus heading into their own homes to refinish interiors in countless shades of gray.

That’s because Philadelphia’s Paint Quality Institute (PQI) for the second year in a row, is predicting gray to be the most popular hue for home interiors. This is the first time any color has headlined our forecast in back-to-back years, but gray, a near-perfect neutral color, has really caught on, according to a recent post on their website,

Institute experts say gray is very easy on the eyes, it’s understated and sophisticated, and most tints and shades of gray are ‘chameleon’ colors that change appearance when the light changes, so they provide enormous visual interest.

Another reason for its popularity: Gray is a very versatile color that coordinates beautifully with a wide range of hues. As a result, it can be used in many different color schemes and with almost any style of décor.

PQI experts say that pairing gray with one or more neutral colors—white, off-white, beige, taupe, soft blue, or black—can produce a tranquil color scheme capable of making an indoor space more relaxing. That’s why you may often see these combinations in areas of refuge and comfort, such as bedrooms and family rooms.

But gray can also serve as an ideal foil for more adventurous color, ranging from saturated hues like purple, fuchsia, rust, and navy to softer tints like dusty pink and pale lavender. Color schemes employing these combinations can be used in virtually any room in the home.

Where paint color is concerned, you can simply ask a counterperson about the color formula to find out whether the gray contains warm or cool elements, and let that guide your selection of companion colors. Warm or cool, gray is a great color for any interior.

And the institute assures homeowners and decorators that it’s a color that will stand the test of time.


Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Non Toxic Stain Removal

Non-Toxic Stain Removers That Really Work


Stains on clothing, walls or furniture can be difficult to remove – especially if you don’t like turning to extra-strong and environmentally unfriendly cleansers. But Melissa Maker at tells us many of life’s most annoying stains can be safely removed with one of these five natural, non-toxic substances:

Baking soda – Because it offers gentle abrasion, a little baking soda mixed with a few drops of water is an easy way to remove scuff marks from the floor or crayon from the wall or tabletop. Dip a rag into the paste and buff out the stain in a circular motion and watch the stain disappear.

Extra virgin olive oil – The oil provides an easy way to shine up dull or streaky stainless steel or remove annoying stickers or price tags. For pots and pans, wash the finish with warm soapy water and buff dry, then pour a nickel-sized dab of oil on a paper towel and work into the steel for a smooth, polished shine. For sticker remnants, dab of bit of oil on the sticker and rub it in. Let it sit, then scrape off the sticker with a butter knife and remove the residue with soapy water and a clean cloth.

Lemons – Got dirty white socks that won’t come clean? Boil a pot of water. Halve a lemon and squeeze in all the juice. Add the socks and simmer for an hour. The acid in the lemon will brighten the socks and whiten the stubborn dirt stains. Dry the socks in the dryer or in the sun for extra whitening power.

Saliva – It may sound gross, but saliva contains enzymes that quickly break down blood stains. If you cut your finger and get a blood stain on your clothing, just spit on it, work it away with a clean cloth, and finish with a little soap and water.

Denture tablets – These powerful little cleaners can remove the crusty water rings from inside your glass vases. Put room-temp water into the vase to just over the water line, drop in a denture tablet. When it finishes fizzing, pour it out, rinse the vase, and it will look like new.

Salt- To remove red wine stains pour a mound of salt on the stain w, and let it set.  It will absorb most


Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.