Remodeling 101 – Things to consider before you start any renovation

Remodeling 101 Things to Consider Before You Start Any Renovation
Remodeling 101 Things to Consider Before You Start Any Renovation

Remodeling 101- Things to Consider Before You Start Any Renovation

Remodeling your home can be a great idea—if you take the time to plan properly with your unique needs in mind at all times. Before you jump in and start ripping up flooring and gutting electrical lets take a minute and consider what your goal even is, how the process works and how it’s going to affect your life—

  • The Goal. Why are we undertaking a renovation? Are you looking for more functionality or is this a matter of aesthetics? Start looking around the internet at home improvement websites and save photos that represent what you’re looking for. Go to your local home improvement stores and collect paint samples and browse materials and start getting an idea of prices.

o Once you get your mind in remodeling mode, start making a list and prioritize what is most important for you to get out of this renovation. Never lose site of this list—keeping it in mind as you go through the process can help to assure that the finished product will be all you were hoping it would be.

  • Now that you have your scope of work established it’s time to consider what kind of resources you’re willing to put toward it. In other words, how much time, money and energy are you willing to spend? Be brutally honest—can you handle this project on your own or do you need to bring in a professional? Don’t overestimate your abilities or underestimate how much a mistake in the final product will bother you in the long run or how much stress a prolonged renovation will put on you and your family.

o A word on budgets—decide right away how much you can spend on your project and then subtract at least 20% and maybe as high as 30%. Set that percentage away to be used for contingencies such as unforeseen structural issues, labor and material cost, etc.

  •  If you’re doing the labor yourself, sketch out the area and layout your cabinets and fixtures before you get started. I suggest you use graph paper so that you can sketch the room to scale. Then it’s a simple matter of getting out the tape measure and making accurate measurements—and remember, always measure at least twice!
  • Consider things which you cannot see upon first glance. Materials such as flooring underlayment, subflooring, cement board, plumbing and electrical may all be exposed during a renovation and there’s no better time to replace them if needed. A nice new carpet laid over musty, pet-stained underlayment is just a waste of your money. This is where that contingency money comes in handy.
  • Decrease the impact of the remodel on your daily life. Consider how the renovation will affect how you use your home and try minimizing it. For instance, if you are renovating multiple bathrooms consider doing them one at a time so that you will have one fully functional bathroom available at all times. If you’re painting a bedroom think about doing it in the morning to give it plenty of time to dry before bedtime.


Once your renovation is complete, give us a call to get a Comparative Market Analysis and we can tell you exactly how much your work has added to your home’s value. Good luck with your renovation from the Selling Snohomish Team!  – Michael Larson



Giving Spirit

Christmas GivingThe Christmas Spirit is a Giving Spirit

When I was a kid, if you would have asked me what Christmas was all about I probably would have given you two answers—number one would be TOYS and number two would be MORE TOYS! I don’t know where things changed for me but nowadays I’m much more content giving those toys than receiving any myself. It’s not that I’m some saint—it just makes me feel good to see the look on someone’s face when they get that perfect present. The way their eyes light up as they examine every inch of the present and they search for that perfect thank you to gift back to me. I almost feel guilty for enjoying it so much. I think this is a pretty universal part of becoming and adult. As we mature we start taking more pleasure in those little moments rather than material possessions. Lets not forget that all those people out there hustling and bustling and clogging up the mall parking lots are buying presents for others.

As you may already know from previous blog posts, the Selling Snohomish Team considers giving back to the community we operate in one of our most important duties and we’re always looking for new ways to serve. This Christmas we have established a Giving Tree in our office with the goal of providing a special Christmas for three families in our area who could really use the help. If you would like to donate a gift or service just contact us for more information—we’ll also be holding a silent auction to raise money for presents.

There are so many opportunities to feel that Christmas Spirit of Giving in Snohomish County. It can be something as easy as picking up a few extra items while you’re shopping and donating them at a drop box to something more hands on like volunteering your time and services at a local shelter. I’ve picked out a few opportunities to get your mind moving—

Christmas House- For 35 years, Christmas House has been providing gifts for local low-income parents to give to their children. Last year they provided almost 9,000 gifts for over 3,000 families! Headquartered in the Everett Boys & Girls Club gymnasium, Christmas House is a great place to donate gifts, time or skills.

Arlington Kids Kloset- A great service for kids in need on the north end of Snohomish County, Arlington Kids Kloset provides school wardrobes for those in the Darrington, Lakewood and Arlington school districts. They accept both new and lightly used clothing plus monetary donations.

YWCA Adopt a Family- The YWCA has a well-organized program in which you can either give a lump sum donation to the program or actually “adopt” a family by buying gifts or gift cards the family based on details provided. This one is a great way to get your whole family or office involved.

The Everett Herald has a great article here that’s basically a list of every charitable organization in the area that could use our help during the holiday season.

In addition to the resources listed above I would encourage you to contact your local food bank or church to see what programs they may need your help with. There are still a few organizations out there that may not have an internet presence but would surely appreciate any help and Christmas Spirit you can provide.  – Michael Larson

Christmas Tree Tips


Selecting a Christmas Tree

Can you believe it’s already time to think about buying a Christmas tree?  Everybody has their own traditions, but in our house my wife insists that we get the tree up and decorated the weekend right after Thanksgiving.  This may seem a bit early, but with the right care a Christmas tree can easily last from Black Friday to well past New Years Day.  Here are some tips to keep your tree green and healthy throughout the holiday season-


  • Use a tree stand that actually fits your tree. If you have to whittle down the tree’s trunk, the stand doesn’t fit- and those outer layers of trunk are the best at absorbing water.  Also, the stand should hold enough water to provide one quart of water per inch of trunk circumference.
  • Once you get the tree home, cut off a ½” thick disk from the bottom to provide a fresh cut for better absorption and get the tree into water as soon as possible. Keep the cut as straight and perpendicular to the trunk as possible in order to provide a firm base.
  • Use lights that produce as little heat as possible—the new generation of LED lights are great for this. This is both a safety/fire issue and will help with the overall health and appearance of your tree.  Also, inspect the light string for any breaks or exposed wire before installing them on your tree.
  • Keep the tree away from any heat sources—fireplaces, woodstoves and both baseboard and forced air heaters. Once again, this is both a fire hazard issue and for the health of the tree.
  • Monitor the tree’s health and the water level DAILY. Keep the water topped up and make sure the tree’s needles aren’t drying out.  Remove the tree from your home at the first appearance of any drying.


Now that we’ve discussed general care and maintenance, here are some local resources that can help you find the perfect tree-


  • Stocker Farms, Snohomish- centrally located in the Snohomish Valley, Stocker Farms offers both pre-cut and U-cut options and four different types of fir trees. Open on November 27th.
  • Lochsloy Acres, Lake Stevens- a newer player in the Christmas tree game, Lochsloy started planting trees in 2003. They only seem to offer U-cut trees, but they do have wreathes and swags for sale also.  Open on November 27th.
  • Puget Sound Christmas Tree Association– As the name suggests, they’re an organization of local Christmas tree growers. Their site has an interactive map to find the nearest Christmas tree farm and some great information on tree types so you can narrow down your choices before you trek out into the winter weather.


Finally, a word on disposing of your tree responsibly-

  • There are several options available, with the most straightforward one being curbside pickup. Check with your garbage collector to see what their policy is…some require that the tree be cut up and put in your yard waste bin while others allow you to just leave the whole tree next too your garbage cans on collection day.
  • Another possibility is your local Boy Scout troop. Some offer pickup service while others set up locations for drop off.  The service is usually free but donations are definitely appreciated.
  • Lastly, your local big box hardware store may offer a recycling service for a limited time. Just call or check their website for availability.  – Michael Larson

Winter Selling Wonderland

Winter Selling Wonderland

Posted on November 6, 2014 by Keller Williams Realty International —
Provided by The Selling Snohomish Team of Keller Williams Western Realty
With the cooler weather usually comes cooler home sales as well. However, for the savvy seller, fall and winter could prove to be a very successful home selling season. In the winter, there is less competition on the market and winter buyers may be more motivated to buy as their need to move is more pressing.

winter selling

Motivated to sell this winter? Here are some tips for winter selling:
1. Take photos of the house on sunny days before the clouds take over and the leaves fall from the trees. Sellers want to be sure to show the full potential and beauty of the home. Reach out to clients now and suggest they get photos taken of their home in preparation for cold weather selling.
2. Create a virtual video tour of the home. In areas where the weather can get be especially stormy, offering potential buyers the opportunity to first see the home from the comfort of their own computer is helpful.
3. When hosting an open house, be sure to keep walkways and driveways clear. You don’t want any potential buyers to slip and fall on their way inside the home.
4. Keep the house warm. A warmer inside temperature will keep potential buyers inside longer. If someone will be in the home for a while, consider lighting a small fire in the fireplace to further warm the home and create an inviting space away from the cold.
5. Keep window curtains and blinds open to let in as much light as possible.
6. Create an atmosphere. In cooler months, you have the option to invite buyers to stay a little longer and enjoy a warm beverage and winter foods. Take this as an opportunity to really make them feel at home, and hopefully soon, they will be.
Another advantage of selling homes in the winter is the warmth and cheer of the holiday season. The holidays are a time for family, friends and gatherings. Create an environment that conveys the joy that has been shared in the home so buyers will be eager to move in and make their own memories. Avoid listing homes the week of Thanksgiving or the week of Christmas as buyers take that time off to enjoy the holidays. So, as the weather cools down, remember to use these tips and heat up your listing presentations.

Trick or Treat?!

Events and Activities for the Family during the Halloween Season
Events and Activities for the Family during the Halloween Season

Trick or Treat –  Do you have plans….

October is upon us and if you have children I’m sure they’re already daydreaming about what they’re going to do for Halloween—what costume they’re going to wear and of course how much candy they’re going to get!  This year is a bit unique because Halloween falls on a Saturday so it really could become a day long celebration if you wish—take a look at our earlier post on Fall Family Fun if you’re looking for something to do during the day.  Once the sun sets though it’s time to trick or treat.  Traditionally this meant waiting for dusk and then a trip through the neighborhood.  But what if I told you that you didn’t have to wait for sunset anymore?  What if I told you that there are alternatives to traditional trick or treating that still allow the kids to have fun but also make everything as convenient and easy as possible for parents?

While traditional trick or treating can be a ton of fun it does have some inherent disadvantage—start time is variable, the weather is a wildcard and tromping through a neighborhood can be tough on the little ones’ tiny legs.  Luckily, your friends and neighbors in Snohomish County have come up with a myriad of alternatives, all you have to do is pick the one that fits your particular needs.  There are trunk or treats where cars park in a well lit parking lot, usually a church or community center, and the kids can still enjoy the trick or treat tradition without walking mile upon mile.  Or perhaps something temperature controlled would peak your interest—most local malls now host some sort of trick or treating activity.  Just take a look around and you’re bound to find something convenient and fun but here’s a list to get you started-


Downtown Snohomish Trick or Treat, October 31st, 3:00-5:00pm- Snohomish’s annual trick or treat along historic First Avenue.  Lots of candy for the kids and great shopping and dining opportunities for the whole family.


Everett Mall Family Trick or Treat sponsored by 94.1 KMPS, October 31st, 3:00-5:00pm- Free trick or treating for kids 12 and under.  Bring along non-perishable items to donate to local food banks.  The best part about this one—the weather never changes inside the mall!


Treats on Main Street, Mill Creek, October 31st, 4:30-6:30pm- The merchants that make up the Mill Creek Town Center will be handing out treats for all.  This one’s perfect for dinner afterward—there are a ton of high quality dining options covering a wide range of tastes. Find out more here.


Mill Creek Trunk or Treat, October 31st, 6:30-8:00pm- Sponsored by Mill Creek Parks & Recreation and Canyon Creek Church, this is the classic trunk or treat where the kids can go car to car collecting their treats.  The perfect alternative for the younger trick or treaters whose little legs can tire out quickly.  The event will be held in the parking lot of the Mill Creek City Hall Annex.  Find out more here.


These are just a few of the larger, well advertised events.  Local churches seem to be the main purveyors of the trunk or treat and usually are more than happy to host their neighbors so I would suggest giving them a call for more information.  Stay safe and Happy Halloween from your Selling Snohomish Team  – Michael Larson


Fall Family Fun-Snohomish County Style

Fall Family Fun-Snohomish County Style
Fall Family Fun-Snohomish County Style


Fall Family Fun- Snohomish County Style

Just because summer is behind us doesn’t mean the fun is too!  Snohomish County has something for everybody whether you want to get out and enjoy our crisp fall weather or retreat to the warmth of an indoor event.  Here are some ideas to get you started-

-Monster Bash, Touch a Tank and Truck Event, October 3rd– The Flying Heritage Collection is hosting their 2nd annual Monster Bash.  You can get your picture taken with a monster truck, get up close and personal with a real Sherman tank, a fire truck and many other exhibits.  Kids under 13 in costume get in free and exhibitors will be handing out treats.  Get more information at

Snohomish Pumpkin Farm
Snohomish Pumpkin Farm

-Snohomish Valley Festival of Pumpkins, September 26th-October 31st– Seven family owned pumpkin farms in the valley have come together to promote all of their fall-centric activities.  Are you wondering where you can find the best corn maze?  Looking for a hayride for that perfect photo op?  Where can your teens go to shoot at zombies with paintballs?  Which pumpkin patch is for me?  Get all your answers at

-The 39th Annual Everett Sausage Festival, October 2nd-4th– It’s and Everett tradition! Everybody will enjoy this Bavarian themed celebration punctuated by great food, carnival style games and rides, a live entertainment stage, bingo and more.  Get a full Bavarian sit down dinner or hit up one of the many food stands and take in the arts and crafts exhibits.  Find out more at

-Witches Night Out, October 8th For those in the southern part of the county the Country Village in Bothell is holding their annual Witches Night Out event from 6-8pm.  Come in costume and enjoy a witch hunt, refreshments and shopping specials.  See for more information.

-Seahawks Games at the Historic Everett Theatre, various dates– How amazing would it be to see your Seattle Seahawks on a 25-foot screen?  What if you could watch it for free?  Well you can at the Historic Everett Theatre.  For $12 you can even get a meal included as long as you RSVP.  Check of the schedule of games at


Obviously this is just a sampling of things to do around Snohomish County.  We live and work in a vibrant, eclectic and unique place on this earth nestled between a bustling metropolis and the rural farmlands that provide sustenance for us all.  Go explore and let us know what you find!

– blog by Michael Larson-




2015 Evergreen State Fair

Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, WA
Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, WA

2015 Evergreen State Fair

One of the great selling points of homes in Snohomish County is the unique location.  You see it all the time in listings–“minutes from Boeing” or “easy commute to Microsoft” but that’s only part of equation.  Sure, Snohomish County is a great place to commute from but that’s only because it offers that easy access to thousands of high paying jobs in the Greater Seattle area combined with the charms of a more idyllic, pastoral setting than the city can offer. There’s no better example of the county’s rural roots than the annual Evergreen State Fair.

Every year Snohomish County residents flock to the outskirts of Monroe for the two weeks leading up to Labor Day.  It’s become such an institution that the school districts in the surrounding area schedule school to begin only after the fair has concluded.  And this is no simple carnival—the fair has been in this location since 1949 and covers a sprawling 193 acres.  Sure you can ride the Ferris wheel or try your hand at winning a giant stuffed animal, but you can also go to a rodeo, see a favorite country or rock band, or maybe see a monster truck show.  On a more traditional note you can tour the displays of animal husbandry, gardening and artwork produced by locals.  My personal favorite things to do are to watch the lumberjack show and the pig races while seeing how much elephant ear I can eat.  I wish I could list everything there is to do at the fair in this article but instead I’ll just tell you to visit and take a look at the calendar for yourself—it’s quite impressive.

If you’re thinking of going the fair there are a few things to consider before you attend-

-If you’re able to take a weekday off to attend I would suggest you do it—crowds are smaller and you can easily spend eight to ten hours wandering the grounds.

-Stay hydrated—the fair begins in the dog days of summer and walking between all the attractions can be quite tiring in 80 plus degree weather.  Be safe and keep that water flowing.

-Bring cash—parking will cost about $10 and you’re going to find plenty of fair food to coax that money out of your pocket and the last thing you want to do is search for an ATM when you could be getting a second corn dog.

-Find discounts where you can. Before the fair begins the local Walgreens stores will offer discounted tickets and if you love rides consider buying an unlimited wristband rather than using tickets.

-Finally, have fun! You’re now a part of the Snohomish County community so immerse yourself in the traditions we’ve developed over last 60 plus years.  So get yourself an onion burger and a Purple Cow milkshake and enjoy our Evergreen State Fair!  – Michael Larson

Volunteering in Snohomish County

Volunteering in Snohomish County – activities in life as fulfilling as helping those that need it…..

Have you wanted to get more involved in your community?  Would you like to meet new people, share your talents or even learn new ones?  Would you be interested in an activity that has been linked to lower incidence of depression and increased life expectancy?  If so, I’d like to suggest that you consider volunteering!  There are few activities in life as fulfilling as helping those that need it and no matter what you think your particular skills may or may not be, there are great opportunities to help your fellow Snohomish County residents just waiting for you.

Being an active member of the community is an integral part of what the Selling Snohomish Team and Keller Williams are all about.  Every year, on the second Thursday of May, the 100,000+ associates of Keller Williams in over 700 locations celebrate RED Day, a day dedicated to donating time and effort to our local communities.  For example, in May 2015 your Selling Snohomish Team joined the local Everett KW office in helping the Everett Food Bank collect food and donations and Housing Hope in working on their affordable housing projects.  As a team we truly cherish the chance to take a timeout from our busy schedules to reconnect with the community.  We’re helping ourselves just as much as we’re trying to help others.

housing hope
KW Red Day – House Hope landscaping in Monroe, WA
KW Red Day - Volunteering at the Food Bank
KW Red Day – Volunteering at the Food Bank

There are so many volunteer opportunities in Snohomish County; I’m sure you can find one that you’ll enjoy.  I’ve rounded up the following resources to help you find the perfect one –



Snohomish County Volunteer Opportunities– Go here to find out how you can help with Parks, Public Works, Human Service and even the Sheriff’s department.– A location-based search engine to find nonprofits in your area that need your help.  Searchable by organization specialty also.

United Way of Snohomish County- the local chapter of the nationwide charitable organization focusing on education, income and health.– A nationwide database of local food banks that includes links to websites, contact information and maps.

And don’t forget, you can always check with your local churches and school districts to see what opportunities they may have for you.

– Michael Larson

Improving Your Home’s Curl Appeal

Tips on how to improve your homes' curb appeal without expense
Tips on how to improve your homes’ curb appeal without expense

Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal…Inexpensively!

If you’re reading an article about improving your home’s curb appeal, chances are you’re thinking about selling it soon.  And if you’re selling soon, chances are you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a home you don’t plan on living in that much longer.  Sure, getting a new driveway poured, replacing the roof and repainting the whole exterior of your home would make it look like a million dollars…but spending thousands of dollars is the last thing you want to be doing if you can help it.  With a weekend of your time and minimal cash outlay you can greatly improve that first impression your home will make on a potential buyer.

Tip #1- Clean!  The simplest piece of advice on this list is also the cheapest…clean your yard of all debris and clutter to indicate this is a property that is orderly and well maintained.  Step back and look at your yard through the eyes of a buyer.  Is there any trash or litter on the ground?  Perhaps some sprinklers, hoses or gardening tools not put away in a shed or garage?  Are the garbage cans stored discretely, out of sight if possible?  Is there moss growing on your exterior walls, deck or even your mailbox?  A couple of hours tidying up can make a world of difference.

Tip #2- Landscaping.  We’re not talking about anything elaborate here, there’s usually no need to go overboard with planting new shrubs or creating new features.  Once again, this is about presenting your home as an orderly and well maintained property.  A lawn is usually the largest element in a yard so keeping that lawn mowed and green can be the most impactful task you can accomplish.  Keep your lawn at an even, appropriate length according to the season and water if necessary to avoid any brown spots.  Edging that lawn gives a professional touch and can be accomplished with a string trimmer turned on its side.  Pull any offending weeds, especially those growing along walkways or through cracks in driveways or other cement/asphalt areas—their presence screams “unmaintained!”  Consider planting inexpensive flowers from your local gardening center in your most visible flowerbeds for a quick splash of color.

Tip #3- Paint the front door.  The old standby.  You can’t read an article about curb appeal without coming across this bit of advice, and there’s a reason…it works!  For the cost of a quart of paint (less than $20) and a couple hours of your time you can bring new life to the entryway of your home.  Consider a contrasting color to your existing exterior pallet without going too extreme, red is the most popular by far with blue hues a distant second.  Use a quality exterior paint and high quality brushes to make the job quicker and easier.  If you feel like spending a few extra bucks new door hardware or a brass or steel kickplate can add that final touch to your new paint job.

Tip #4- Solar LED yard lights.  It used to be if you wanted to add lighting to your yard it required professional installation and hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  However, today a trip to the local home center can provide you with easy, quick and cheap options for highlighting the best features of your home.  With the advent of solar and LED (light emitting diode) technology in the last several years you can simply stick lights into the ground where you wish and forget about them.  No need for  wiring them into your home’s electrical system and they turn on when they sense darkness.  The most popular option taken by most homeowners is path lighting- often available in packs of 4 or 6 for less than $30, but there are also spot lights and up-lights available to bring attention to trees and plantings. –Michael Larson

Home Management Binder

Amber here, I am the transaction coordinator for Selling Snohomish. My job is to make sure that every file we have is in compliance with local, state and federal guidelines as well as keeping everyone involved in the transaction moving forward. Essentially my job is to keep track of everything.

What do you really need in a home management binder?

House Binder
House Binder

If you spend three minutes on Pinterest you will find hundreds of ideas, printables and different ideas on how to make a home management binder. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Isn’t the point to make life and finding things easier?

Here is a list of things I don’t use my binder for

  • Keeping track of Kid Stuff
  • Paying bills
  • Daily to-do lists

I can do all of that on my phone.

What I do use it for is

  • Keeping documents used for home maintenance
  • honestly that’s all!

I own three properties, one of which has two dwellings on in it. That’s four houses I need to care  of and maintained. All four have also had remodeling and we need a quick and easy way to keep track of receipts, inspections, quotes, user manuals and other details.

  • Pick up a three-ring binder and a bunch of clear plastic sheet covers
  • Put the sheet covers in the binder. The neat thing is that you can put more than one piece of paper in each sheet.
  • Place the inspection report in the first sheet cover.
  • Place all the other crap important documents into other sheet dividers. Receipts, estimates, instruction manuals all go in their own sheet protector.

That’s it. You can add different sections as you see fit, or don’t!

My home management binders aren’t fancy, and they certainly aren’t “pinnable” but they work for me. I LOVE knowing where to find the manual for the fridge on a whim, the plumbers contact info or where we found the trim for the bathroom.

Wanna get super fancy? Check out our Pinterest board Home Management.