Depersonalizing your personal space

Most buyers will see your home online before they ever step foot inside. Personal items like family photos, unique art, toys, or collectibles can be extremely distracting and take attention away from the features of your home. Blank, clean counters, well-lit spaces, and clutter free rooms make for the best photos. Downplaying your personality allows buyers to envision themselves in that space.

The photo above is a funny example of what not to do- instead of appreciating the lake views and arched ceilings, buyers’ eyes are drawn to the absurdly placed Twister mat.

How to make your home shine for online photos:

  • Pack up all family photos, memorabilia, knick knacks and any personal items
  • Check the walls. Take off any posters from kids’ rooms, family photos, or art that might not have mass appeal
  • Remove magnets, calendars, and notes from the fridge (check the front and both sides)
  • Clear off coat and shoe racks or stash them out of sight.
  • Take appliances off the kitchen counters. Stash them under the sink or pack them in boxes if you won’t need them. Make sure dishes and food are put away.
  • Pack up toys and stuffed animals from kids rooms that aren’t played with often. You can get a bin for daily-use toys and hide it under a bed or in a closet. Avoid having toys visible in the pictures, including on the bed or in a corner.
  • Remove all toiletries from the bathroom counters and shower. Personal care items will stand out a lot in photos. Clean, white towels look nice on towel racks. Same with a plain, neutral colored shower curtain. (Check out “Home buyers don’t want a stranger in their shower” for more on this topic)
  • Make sure all lights are in working order, dark spaces photograph poorly.
  • No house plants. “Why I hate your house plants

Consider renting a POD storage locker if you’re having a hard time finding a place to store things out of sight. They’ll take your boxes and store them until you’re ready to have them delivered to your new home!

If you’re not sure where to start, we’re always happy to do a walkthrough and create a personalized list of “to-do” items.  I know it can feel a bit uncomfortable to live without your personal things around you. I promise you’ll be glad you did!


Renton’s Original Grand Homes

Long Estate Web Picture

My team loved the unique history behind our new listing (built 100 years ago!) in Downtown Renton and we had to share. The owners requested information from the Renton Historical Museum and recieved the following:

Dear Diana,

I actually found out quite a bit about your mother’s house at 131 Garden Ave. N. It was actually built (and probably designed) by George W. Custer, a prominent Renton builder.  He is well-known here for his Craftsmen-style houses—you can see them all around North Renton.  Albert N. Fairchild, the owner of Renton Lumber Co., contracted with Custer for the house, and Sturman H. McDaniel was the foreman on the project.  According to Custer’s ledgers in our collection, McDaniel worked for Custer from September 1912 through February 1918, at which point he disappears from the historical record. (His wife Audria is widowed and living with their two children in Los Angeles by 1930.)  The Fairchilds lived in the house until about 1930, at which point your father purchased it.

I have attached one of our newsletter articles on Custer, as well as a couple newspaper articles from 1917 about the construction of your house.  We also have a couple photos from 1928, which I have attached.  And there’s a page in the Custer ledger for 1917 that shows McDaniel as the foreman on the project.

I hope this helps—I’m not sure there’s much more to find.  McDaniel may have joined the military during WWI, although I don’t see a record of it, or he and his family moved elsewhere.  Custer remained here building houses until his death in 1963.

Please let me know if you have other questions!


Liz Stewart, Renton Museum

Read about George W. Custer in the Renton Historical Society & Museum Newsletter here: Renton Historical Quarterly- George W. Custer

Settling down before you’ve found ‘The One’

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Owning a home has long been considered part of the American Dream. In years past, dreams of a white picket fence were closely linked to expectations for marriage and children. This is no longer the case in 2017. Only half of American adults are married following steady decline since the 1960’s. Today, marriage happens at an older age on average than in decades prior. While planning for one’s future was never certain, our culture no longer offers a normative path that young people can expect to follow.

Although homeownership rates have been on a declining trend since the recession, young Americans have not abandoned their dream of owning a home as they have the institution of marriage. Available financial data demonstrates why this is a smart choice. Between 1999 and 2013, homeowners saw a median wealth gain of $91,900 while the median wealth of renters remained below $2,000. Owning a home also provides protection from rent increases, a pressing problem for those in the Seattle metro area.

Lots of Americans are taking on the challenge, and reaping the rewards, of buying a home on their own. Single women have already realized the benefits, making up 17% of home buyers last year. Single men are lagging behind making up only 7% of home buyers in 2016.

What’s the takeaway? In 2017, getting married, buying a home and having kids are not a package deal. If your dreams include owning a home, don’t wait.

Co-written by Rachael Laxton & Jennifer Clukey



Why Hire Me To Buy a Home When You Have The Internet?


Let me start with a story that has nothing (and everything) to do with real estate.

A few years ago I started having heart palpitations. It was simply annoying at first, until it happened in the middle of the night and I thought I might die. I didn’t know much about it so I researched it on the internet. There were tons of articles and WebMD info about heart palpitations. It started by saying that most of the time this condition is harmless… unless it’s not… then you might die. Then it gave a list of 50 things to improve the symptoms. The list seemed to be the same for every health problem I’d ever had: reduce stress, eat better, exercise more-unless it increases the heart palpitations of course. So I went back to bed with lots of info but no clear direction.

After another night of not sleeping and more online research, I went to see my doctor. I explained my problem and her answer was that I should cut out caffeine for 2 weeks and see if that worked. To be honest, I was pissed. I took a half day off work, drove into the city, paid for parking, waited in the office, sat on the crunchy paper, had my pulse taken, turned off my phone etc. etc. for something this simple? Not ok. I told her I needed a real fix. She said…”Ok, here’s how this looks; I send you to a specialist, you go to the appointment, they do all these tests, hook you up to a machine that monitors your heart for 2 weeks, and you have to check in every couple days. But before they can start all that, they send you home with an order of no caffeine for 2 weeks.”

Aha. I understood.  She short circuited all my overthinking and personal problem solving with a clear direction. The simplicity of it was initially confusing but in reality she had seen thousands of people just like me and knew how to best help me with the least amount of pain and hassle.

My job as a Realtor is similar. Clients can access lots of online information about homes, neighborhoods, and schools all without me. They hire me because I am their advocate against information overload, helping sort out the meaningful content from the noise.  There are so many decisions to make in a transaction and it is impossible to pre-plan for all of the possible problems.  For example – when should you have a sewer scope done and when should you skip it?  What happens if there is a sewer line issue?  You might have been the winning bid, but your bargaining power is decreased when 3 other buyers are lined up in case you don’t want to buy the home.  Should you buy it anyways?  The answer is… it depends, and that is what I help clients decide.

Information is great, but it’s different than knowledge. At an average price of over five hundred thousand dollars per home in the Seattle area, it’s important to know when to have open heart surgery, and when to simply lay off the caffeine.


Decaf Girl

Windermere Foundation announces their first donation for #tacklehomelessness — Seattle Spaces & Places


As the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks we are excited to announce the Windermere Foundation will be donating $3,100 to YouthCare from last Sunday’s game as a part of our shared goal to #tacklehomelessness. For each home game tackle by the Seahawks during the 2016 season, Windermere will donate $100 to help provide […]

via Windermere Foundation announces their first donation for #tacklehomelessness — Seattle Spaces & Places

July Real Estate Market Update

In Seattle’s fast paced sellers’ market, the media makes it seem like all you need is a “For Sale” sign to have buyers fighting to make an offer. So why would a homeowner need a real estate agent if they want to sell? An experienced agent can help sellers maximize their property’s exposure to the market, and as a result, receive the top market value. Without this exposure, a homeowner may be selling themselves short. Do you have questions about what your property might be worth? Give me a call and I’d be happy to help you strategize. – Mike (206)947-9085

July 2016

King County Market Update May 2016

Wondering what’s going on in the real estate market? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Population growth and a healthy job market are continuing to push median home prices upward, 11.8% year over year! Absorption of inventory is over 100%, meaning there are more people wanting to buy houses than there are houses for sale. Although it can be a competitive market for buyers, low interest rates make buying a home now a solid choice. Questions about what this all means for you? Give me a call and I’ll be happy to help. -Mike (206) 947-9085

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April Update for King County


I was just working on our market update for this month and was struck by the fact that with 2 million people living in King County, there are only about two thousand homes available for sale … come on people time to move – Mike.

April 2016