Would you be ready if an earthquake struck today?


Would you be ready if an earthquake struck today?

By Brian Terbush, Earthquake/Volcano Program Coordinator

To put it lightly, it’s been a tough end to a remarkable summer.

Checking the headlines over the past few weeks, a huge hurricane dropped ten more inches of rain than Seattle averages in an entire year on the city of Houston within the span of a week; one of the strongest recorded hurricanes in the Atlantic has already devastated several Islands in the Caribbean, and is now forecasted to place 37 million people in harm’s way; wildfires are burning all across large portions of Oregon, Idaho, California, Washington and Montana, forcing residents to flee their homes; and last night, the strongest recorded earthquake in more than a century struck near the Guatemala-Mexico border, generating a tsunami.

Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by and/or preparing for these events.

Whether these events provided weeks, days, or even only seconds of warning (residents in Mexico City, distant from the epicenter, had tens of seconds of warning to take personal protective actions before the strongest shaking arrived, thanks to a national Earthquake Early Warning system – though those close to the earthquake source had no warning), all of these disasters occurred. The fact that they all happened around the same period of time goes to show that while the probability of these high-consequence events may be low, that doesn’t mean that they won’t happen in your lifetime, or that they won’t happen to you, or that they won’t all happen at once.

These events have provided a grim reminder that disasters can happen to anyone. No one is immune to the disaster.

Washington – a state which no one has ever accused of lacking variety – is also prone to a wide range of disasters, each with a variety of timelines related to the warning they provide, onset time, duration and recovery. It is entirely possible, for instance, that tomorrow, a change in wind direction could push one of the current wildfires towards your home

At any given time, one of Washington’s five active volcanoes could begin showing signs of unrest, which would provide hours, days, weeks, to months of warning before an eruption – or years of stressful unrest and buildup, followed by no activity whatsoever.

A significant windstorm could knock out power to multiple communities, with downed trees blocking access, taking days or weeks for power restoration crews to arrive.

The largest threat to our state, however, will arrive with no warning.  Like in Mexico, an earthquake could strike Washington from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, or from one of Washington’s many surface faults, or from a deep subducting plate causing damage and cascading impacts to communities, from landslides, to flooding, to power outages, road blockages, and many associated obstructions and hazards.

Just to complicate things, Like Harvey was followed by Irma, which may also be followed by Jose, it is just as likely that several of these events could even occur at once, multiplying and significantly worsening the impacts.

While these events have different amounts of warning associated with them, a common theme on the news reports related to Hurricane Irma’s imminent arrival is showing the scenes of empty grocery store shelves, and discussions of how there is not enough fuel for everyone. If one of these events were to happen tomorrow, it is NOT guaranteed that you would be able to get the supplies that you need. The day of, the day after, and even the days immediately before an event are NOT the time to prepare for an event, especially when so many can occur without notice.

Ask yourself, “if I were in that situation, with a hurricane three days out, would I need to be in the long lines stocking up on generators, weather radios, food and water at the last minute? If given an order to evacuate, would all the materials I need be nearby and ready? Do I know enough about the potential effects before, during, and after the disaster to make an informed decision about whether to stay, or to get your family/pets out of harm’s way?

If you are able to take action; now is the time. Act, or you will be forced to react.

Fortunately for you, helping make sure you know how to prepare is a big part of our jobs in Emergency Management. Here are a few key ideas for how you can begin to prepare, and some resources to help guide you.

Be informed –  Get in touch with your county or local emergency management office to understand what is happening in your community, what the potential hazards are, and what can be done to prepare for them. Learn which hazards you will be able to, and/or should ride out, or shelter-in-place in your home, and how to make sure your home or business will stand up to them; and what the hazards are, so that if authorities issue an evacuation recommendation, you can make an informed decision for yourself and your family.

Build kits – In Washington, it is important to be two-weeks ready. Learn more about what you should have in your “grab and go” kit, in case a quick evacuation is needed; and what you should keep in your car kit. We also provide suggestions on how to store two weeks worth of supplies in your house, on any budget. It may seem anywhere from “daunting” to “downright impossible” right now, but start working on it a little bit at a time, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to become prepared; you will be glad you set those resources aside, even when something smaller happens, like the next time the power goes out.

Get Connected –  In a disaster, as shown time and time again, small communities rely on one another for the first line of help after a disaster. Get to know those around you and discuss your plans. Join efforts such as Map your Neighborhood to learn more about your community’s hazards, the people in your community that may have helpful skills, who may require additional help in a disaster. Become part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and learn how you can help out before and after a disaster in your community.

Lastly, in personal preparedness, it is critical to any response in a community that you know how to protect your immediate during little-to-no-notice events, such as the many earthquakes we have in Washington. Practice your “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” skills, with the rest of the state (to get that life-saving reaction to ground shaking into your muscle memory) during the Great ShakeOut on the third Thursday every year. (10:19 on 10/19 this year!)  For more information on earthquakes, how to hold a drill, how to register yourself or organization, and a variety of resources on how to prepare yourself, your home, and your family/business for an earthquake, go to www.Shakeout.org/washington. Please join us: “Drop, cover, and Hold on,” and take at least one additional preparedness action.

Washington’s readiness for disasters, and its ability to recover from them ultimately lies with individuals, families, and organizations.  We cannot prevent these disasters from happening, but by being prepared, we can ensure that our recovery, and the long-term impacts to our communities and State as a whole are lessened.

As we continue to respond to our fires, and prepare for future disasters, we wish to offer support to those impacted by others. For those wishing to donate to assist those affected by the recent disasters, make sure you’re doing it the right way. The Secretary of State’s Office has tips to avoid charity scams and to help you find the right charity for you.


7 Home Renovations You’ll Get Your Money Back On

We may have (almost) year-round pool weather here, but building your dream pool might leave you underwater—they’re usually home reno money pits. Instead, here are the best fix-ups (big and small) that almost always increase your home’s value.


RedDoor 728x524

Front Door
Curb appeal, people. You might miss this focal point since, well, it’s hiding in plain sight. But a replacement door, or fresh coat of paint on it and new hardware can really refresh the overall vibe of your home.

New Paint
A new coat of paint is like a facelift for your house, changing the appearance from meh to mmmm-hmmm. For reference: Wood should be re-painted every three to seven years; stucco, five to six.

Anything eco-wise
Replacing appliances with low-water, low-energy options mean you can brag about it in a real estate listing, which makes your home sound up-to-date. Tankless water heaters, front-loading washing machines, even new insulation in the attic are all smart-money options.

Kitchen 728x921

Okay, a gut reno of the whole shebang—including stealing some square footage from a neighboring room—is every home chef’s dream. But just changing the cabinet doors, countertop and flooring can be enough.

Kitchens and bathrooms, the old real estate sales maxim goes, are what sell houses. If you’re flush, go for a gut renovation with luxe surfaces like marble or tile mosaic, as long as the design is clean and classic. (Read: Appealing to the average buyer.) Otherwise, swapping out sink and bath hardware and re-grouting tile are happy options.

FrenchDoors 728x921

French Doors
Want your home to feel more spacious? Try this trick tailor-made for warm climates: Replace windows on a family room, den or dining room with French doors that open onto an outside patio. Suddenly we’re on the Riviera.

Upgrade the outdoor space
Instead of expanding your home’s square footage (which doesn’t necessarily had value to your home), take advantage of our beautiful weather by adding an awning to a patio area and create an outdoor living space.



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Quiz: What’s Your Decor Style?


Here’s What to Give Your Host Instead of a Candle


What L.A. Neighborhood Has the Best Rent Deals?


The Secret to Making Spring-Cleaning (Almost) Enjoyable


7 Ways to Use Color in Your Home for Under $100


Here’s Why You Need to Shop January White Sales


3 Hot Home Shops You Have to Visit


Worst Dressed Stars at the 2017 Emmy Awards


How to Rock the Layered Trend


10 Most Gorgeous Dresses From the Emmys 2017


Prince William’s Hair Loss Jokes Appeared Out of Thin Hair

Blue Ivy Looks More Comfortable than We Ever Will Rocking…

10 Things Every Homeowner Should Do Once a Year



Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

3 Questions To Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.


1. Why am I buying a home in the first place? 

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy. 

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Members: Sign in now to set up your Personalized Posts & start sharing today!Not a Member Yet? Click Here to learn more about KCM’s newest feature, Personalized Posts. Have You Set Up Personalized Posts Yet? | Keeping Current Matters
We at The KCM Crew believe every family should feel confident when buying & selling a home. KCM helps real estate professionals reach these families & enables the agent to simply & effectively explain a complex housing market. Take a 14-Day Free Trial of our monthly membership to see how we can help you!

  1. Steven Davis
    Steven Davissays:

    With that being said, it also means that Real Estate is a sound investment .Of course you will want to do your do diligence as far as looking into your state, city, and neighborhood’s market/forecast. For example, in our area the forecast for next 5 years is an average of 4.6%,not a bad ROI.


  2. REALTOR Jerry Malia
    REALTOR Jerry Maliasays:

    Around the Denver / Boulder / Front Range home prices have been rising; however, certain segments (price points) of the market and certain locations (neighborhoods) are seeing price reductions because children are back in school (families have already bought and sold which reduces the buyer pool), and we are nearing the fourth quarter / end of year. A bright segment of the market will be corporate relocations ($500k+) and folks needing to sell / buy before the end of the year for tax reasons (1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges).


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Stop Trying to Change Your Habits: Change Your Habitat Instead


Brittney Morgan

Aug 23, 2017

Every day, our readers share their happy, healthy home secrets in the comments, sparking discussions and inspiring each other — and us — to try new things and see from different perspectives. And every once in a while, there’s a comment that particularly stands out and really gets us thinking.

In this case, we’re loving this comment from Apartment Therapy reader DList on a recent post we titled “I Can’t Keep My House Clean, What’s Wrong With Me?” In addition to the common messy-home ails our author Shifrah offered up in the post, DList wanted to add one more, along with a solidly memorable lesson for all of us. If you’re struggling to keep your home mess-free, this is a great way to reframe your brain and actually fix the problem:

Great article but, you missed one: You’re Putting Things In the Wrong Spot.

Things have a place that they gravitate to. They just do. I swear. Usually, it’s where they get used but, not always and it’s not always wherever you THINK it might belong either.

One thing is for certain though: it’s always, always, always where you are constantly coming across it. So, if you constantly keep finding yourself coming across your shoes in the middle of the living room floor instead of that carefully designed bedroom closet, or your keys keep turning up in the freezer instead of the pretty bowl you bought for your landing strip, change it. Put some nice shelving in the living room or a pretty magnetic hook on the fridge and be done with it.

In other words: stop trying to change your habit and just change your habiTAT. Because, the honest truth is that if you haven’t managed to get yourself to put those items where you THINK they should go by now, chances are, you just ain’t gonna do it. So, not only are you driving yourself crazy but you’re making your place messier. After all, you’re wasting an awful lot of precious time that you COULD be using to clean other things constantly shuffling those same items back and forth. Every. Single. Day.

So, put items where they want to go in your house and not where other folks keep them because, well, it turns out- you aren’t them.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

Did you catch the gem in there?

“Stop trying to change your habit and just change your habitat.”

The truth is, it’s not always easy to keep everything neat and tidy all the time. Even the cleanest and most organized of us can let things fall by the wayside when life gets in the way. Sometimes you get busy, sometimes you’re dealing with difficult things, and sometimes you just want to relax a little without your entire home falling into disarray. In any case, homekeeping can be a challenge.

You’ve probably tried more times than you can count to fix your messy habits (are you guilty of tossing your coat on the couch when you walk in instead of hanging it up in your bedroom closet? Right there with ya!) but the key might actually be in embracing them and finding a way to make your home work with them. Rather than trying to force yourself to put your coat away every day, maybe having a hook to hang it on when you walk in—or even a stylish rack to hang it on in the living room (bonus: this is handy for when guests come over!) would help you be a little more tidy and make your life a whole lot easier.

It’s like the example DList gives about shoes—if you plan to store them in your bedroom closet but you most often take them off and leave them in the living room, try creating a stylish spot to store them in your living room instead. It’s about doing what works for you, not what works for someone else or what you think you should be doing.

If you want your home to stay neat and organized, it might just time to be a little more honest with yourself. Really think about your habits and find ways to change your home to suit your needs. You’re not the problem—your home just isn’t set up in a way that truly works for you.


4 Reasons To Buy A Home This Fall!

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.0% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage 

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If purchasing a home for you and your family is the right thing for you to do this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Members: Sign in now to set up your Personalized Posts & start sharing today!Not a Member Yet? Click Here to learn more about KCM’s newest feature, Personalized Posts. Have You Set Up Personalized Posts Yet? | Keeping Current Matters
We at The KCM Crew believe every family should feel confident when buying & selling a home. KCM helps real estate professionals reach these families & enables the agent to simply & effectively explain a complex housing market. Take a 14-Day Free Trial of our monthly membership to see how we can help you!


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6 Laundry Room Ideas to Make Washing Clothes Actually Enjoyable

By  | Sep 8, 2017

A pile of dirty clothes can be a big and odorous drag, but smart laundry room ideas and storage solutions can make doing the wash less of a hassle. You know already that laundry never ends—there’s always another basket of sweaty workout gear and used towels right around the corner—but fortunately, it doesn’t have to take place in a dark basement anymore.

Some of today’s trendiest homes are shining a spotlight on tricked-out laundry rooms, complete with useful—and stylish—design elements. So grab that fabric softener and check out how to create your own fabulous spin zone.


Install in places with high foot traffic

Photo by barlow reid design

When considering the laundry’s location, look at the available space, along with the flow of your house and your family’s habits.

“It’s important for young families to have the laundry room off the kitchen,” says interior designer Carole Marcotte, of Form & Function in Raleigh, NC. Swapping out loads can take place while cooking dinner and overseeing homework.

Situating a laundry room near (or in) the kitchen or bath also takes advantage of existing plumbing. Or you might scope out a linen or hall closet, which already has shelving for supplies and slim space for stackable appliances.

Choose water-resistant materials

Photo by Vivid Interior Design – Danielle Loven

Protecting the floor and countertops from moisture is essential because your tasks will include soaking stained clothes in a nearby sink and transferring damp clothes from one machine to another. Whether you’re buying a home with a laundry room or doing a full-on renovation, make sure the floor is water-resistant, made out of a material such as poured concrete, stone, or budget-friendly linoleum or vinyl (both of which are easier to care for than wood).

Laminate counters and ceramic tile are other on-budget details, while cork flooring is comfy on the feet for those hours spent sorting and folding laundry.

For quick cleanup on walls and cabinets, choose semigloss or high-gloss paint that wipes clean.

Consider making it a multipurpose room

Photo by Artistic Renovations of Ohio LLC

Dedicating an entire room to laundry isn’t feasible in every house, so combining the laundry room with an area for washing pets is a smart solution. A kitchen or bathroom is another spot ripe for double duty with laundry. And if you like to garden, plan out some space near the washer/dryer for arranging and potting flowers and planting seedlings.

Size it right

Photo by transFORM Home
Don’t go too large with this space.

“A laundry room should be big enough to handle the washing needs of the home but not so big that it becomes a cluttered mess,” notes Marty Basher, a home organization expert with Modular Closets.

Declutter this spot regularly and then keep it looking nice, especially if you’re thinking of selling (a laundry room needs the same staging love as the rest of the house).

“The laundry room isn’t a sundry store, so don’t let it become a graveyard for old magazines, extension cords, and clothes you’re planning to (someday) donate,” says Mike Callahan, a home stager and Showhomesfranchisee in Chicago.

Offer smart storage solutions

Photo by Grassroots Design

Our favorite part of a well-arranged laundry-centric room is the smart features that make the task of washing clothes a little easier. Start with a laundry hamper in a pull-out bin and several shelves to hold detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, and spray starch. Add in a jar for loose buttons, coins, and tiny toys that drop out of pockets. Other design elements might include overhead cabinets, a pull-down ironing board, and drawers to store scissors and sewing supplies.

“Cabinets should be deep enough to hold big baskets and low enough so you can reach the soap, but high enough to clear the appliances,” explains Julie Green, a designer at Closet Factory.

Julie Ann Disselkamp, an interior decorator and owner of Decorating Den Interiors in Woodbury, MN, likes to install a large sink to soak garments and scrub car mats and vegetables from the garden. Don’t forget a retractable clotheslines or a fold-out rack so you can hang clothes to dry.

Light the way

Photo by Von Fitz Design

A window in your laundry room is ideal for both the natural lighting and airflow it gives to a hot room with an overworked dryer. But if that’s not an option, try installing task lighting underneath cabinets for when you do precise work like sewing on buttons and treating tough stains.

Easy-to-install LED strips ($39.88, Home Depot) to put under cabinets are efficient and affordable. Complete the room with an overhead or pendant fixture to light up the room.

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Cheap Moving Boxes, Trucks, and Other Money-Saving Hacks Revealed

By  | Sep 8, 2017

If you’re moving, you might be wondering where to score cheap boxes, packing supplies, and, while we’re at it, trucks and movers! And it’s smart that you’re looking to save, since moving is not only a pain in the neck (and lower back, and feet), but also a major drain on your wallet. The average move costs $1,170 if you’re moving in state; if you’re moving farther, prepare to cough up $5,630.

Yet bargain hunters will be happy to hear that moving doesn’t have to cost that much. With some smart deal seeking, it’s entirely possible to save big bucks on every part of this oft-onerous process. Here’s where to find these hidden bargains—without jeopardizing all your stuff.

Cheap moving boxes

Buying moving boxes can be a waste of your precious moving bucks, especially since there are so many ways you can get your hands on these cardboard containers for cheap or even free. One place to hit up? Anywhere they sell booze.

“Liquor boxes have thicker cardboard, which makes them ideal for carrying heavy objects like books or electronics,” says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of Dumbo Moving and Storage.

There are even websites where you can find cheap or free moving boxes such as cheapcheapmovingboxes.com and U-Haul Customer Connect. Also, don’t forget about good ol’ Craigslist.

“Go to the ‘For Sale’ section, and then choose ‘Free,'” suggests Ali Wenzke, who founded The Art of Happy Moving after moving 11 times in 10 years. “You can typically find numerous posts for free moving boxes and bubble wrap.”

Free packing supplies

Speaking of bubble wrap, along with the actual boxes, you must protect your valuables as they go into said cheap/free moving boxes. Freecycle.org helps folks find free packing supplies (and moving boxes) that other folks are looking to recycle rather than dump. Make your move Earth-friendly and save a buck simultaneously!

“Never buy bubble wrap—instead use blankets, towels, sweaters, and other soft items that need to be packed anyway,” says Brian Davis, co-founder and lead real estate/personal finance blogger at SparkRental.com.

“There’s no need to add extra items to your move when you can simply use what you’re already packing,” adds Davis, who has lived in 10 homes in the past 10 years, and spent only $100 on a move from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi.

Cheap moving trucks

In the DIY category, there is always U-Haul for cheap moving trucks; you can also rent a cheap ZipCar van by the hour or try a car-sharing service in which individuals rent out their own cars for a pittance. But beyond that option, keep in mind that the cheapest “truck” might not be a truck at all. It could be a train!

With Amtrak Express Shipping, you can ship your first 100 pounds anywhere in the U.S.—even cross-country—for a $67 flat rate, with each additional pound costing 57 cents. Just keep in mind that this method has a limit of 500 pounds per person, and you’ll have to pack and then transport the boxes to Amtrak yourself. Still, it’s a cheap way to get your stuff where it needs to go.

Have a lot of books? You might consider sending them through the U.S. Postal Service.

“The book rate for postal mail is only 49 cents per pound,” says personal finance writer Romana King.

Cheap movers

No, we are not going to suggest you hit up all your friends and then offer them pizza and beer. Yes, it’s a cost-saving option, but at some point in your life you’ll find that everyone you know has pretty much had it with helping others move.

Instead, research discount websites for movers and check out references to make sure you’re not skimping on quality.

“Groupon is your best bet,” says Rachmany. “Also don’t be afraid to negotiate with your moving company. Moves can be cheaper during different times of the month, so you can save cash just by moving your move toward the middle of the month rather than during the peak times of the beginning and end of the month, or in the summer.”

Also, instead of checking Craigslist for “man with van” type ads, you can get a more secure option going through a site such as Dolly.com or PockItShip, both of which are on-demand pickup and delivery moving services. They’re especially good if you’re doing a lot of the moving yourself but need some extra help with heavier items. Plus they provide the truck!

And if you want to make a difference in someone’s life while they help you move yours, check out HirePatriots, a site that connects you with military veterans looking for work.

HirePatriots founder Mark Baird says that moving help is a typical job posting on this nationwide site and you can probably get some extra hands for $15 to $20 an hour.

Finally, consider “move sharing” as an option: You can call a company, and see if you can piggyback on someone else’s move in your area.

Also, for cross-country moves, consider checking with a moving consolidator.

“These companies act like a broker and specialize in booking half-empty moving trucks,” says King. “The result is you pay a significantly cheaper rate to move interstate, and the large moving companies that own the trucks get something for a prescheduled move.”

With consolidators you might have to wait longer for your shipment to arrive, but it can save you lots of dough on the flip side!

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Empty Nesters: Best to Remodel or Time to Sell?

Your children have finally moved out and you and your spouse now live alone in a four-bedroom colonial (or a similar type of house). You have two choices to make:

  1. Remodel your house to fit your current lifestyle and needs
  2. Sell your house and purchase the perfect home

Based on the record of dollars spent on remodeling and renovations, it appears that many homeowners are deciding on number one. But, is that the best long-term solution?

If you currently live in a 3-4-bedroom home, you probably bought it at a time when your children were the major consideration in determining family housing needs. Along with a large home, you more than likely also considered school district, the size of the property and the makeup of other families living in the neighborhood (example: you wanted a block with other kids your children could play with and a backyard large enough to accommodate that).

Remodeling your home to meet your current needs might mean combining two bedrooms to make one beautiful master suite and changing another bedroom into the massive walk-in closet you always wanted. However, if you live in a neighborhood that historically attracts young families, you may be dramatically undermining the value of your house by cutting down the number of bedrooms and making it less desirable to the typical family moving onto your block.

And, according to a recent study, you will recoup only 64.4% of a remodeling project’s investment dollars if you sell in the future.

Your home is probably at its highest value as it stands right now. Instead of remodeling your house, it may make better financial sense to sell your current home and purchase a home that was built specifically to meet your current lifestyle and desires.

In many cases, this well-designed home will give you exactly what you want in less square footage (read less real estate taxes!) than your current home.

Bottom Line

If you are living in a house that no longer fits your needs, at least consider checking out other homes in your area that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling your current house.

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Exterior Home Design Trends by Region

East Coast Home Trend

What’s hot in home improvement and home design this year depends on where you live.

From lighter colored roofing out West and richer colors in the South to beach-inspired design in coastal areas, the varying climates and styles of the United States influence the design elements homeowners choose for their homes. Even the style of the home itself can vary by region.

What’s on trend where you live? Hover over the icons on the photo below to learn what home improvement trends are cropping up in your part of the country.

The East Coast

In coastal communities like Miami, it’s all about the beach lifestyle. Exterior features include outdoor showers, plunge pools, shady porches and verandas all designed to create the feel of a day at the beach for family and friends. More importantly, though, is protection from hurricanes in areas along the Gulf Coast and up the Eastern seaboard.

  • Windows: Forget about nailing boards to your windows at the last minute. Coastal homeowners are creating permanent exterior answers to Mother Nature’s fury, such as impact-resistant glass for windows and Bahama shutters that you can close at the first hint of a storm.
  • Roofing: Roofs are designed to withstand the uplift”winds hurricanes produced.
  • Doors: Garage doors are designed to stand their ground against high winds.

The Mountains

Whether you live in the Rockies or the Tetons, bringing the outdoors inside is a trend that starts with the exterior of your home. Denver home improvement projects will see a lot of the following trends.

  • Siding: In the mountains, Mother Nature’s colors are reflected in exterior home trends. Green, putty and brown dominate.
  • Windows: Walls of windows make the sweeping landscape part of your living room.
  • Flooring: Flooring that extends from your home outside to your patio or outdoor room brings the inside out and the outside in.
  • Roofing: Roof overhangs create shade for outdoor sitting areas, and remember to install built-in infrared heaters to keep you cozy on chilly nights.

The Pacific Northwest

Home exteriors in the Pacific Northwest tend to be inspired by the lush landscape around them. Home styles are all over the map, from contemporary to traditional.

Siding runs from traditional shingles to wood to laminate, all in the colors of nature. Greens, blues and grays, reminiscent of the ocean and woodlands, are common in this part of the country, especially for Seattle home improvement projects.

The Midwest

The weather influences Midwest exterior design trends, especially in the northern areas like Chicago, where winter can dominate the year. When Midwesterners can get outside, they want to be outside, so a hot trend right now is toward outdoor living spaces in which to enjoy the fleeting days of spring, summer and fall.

  • Doors: Outdoor rooms are nothing new, but the Midwest is seeing modern touches like sliding glass doors that open up an entire wall of the home.
  • Siding: Tones here skew toward browns, tans, putty and greens.
  • Roofing: Metal roofs can be good for shedding snow, but asphalt shingles continue to be the most popular choice among homeowners.

The Southwest

The idea here is for the home to blend seamlessly into the landscape. Hacienda-style accents like brightly colored house numbers or mailboxes and landscaping with desert plants such as cacti round out the look.

The colors of the desert drive siding trends here — terra cotta, cream, colors of sand. Construction materials tend to run local as well — adobe and stucco dominate.

The South

Here, it’s all about Southern hospitality. And homeowners aren’t afraid of a little color, especially in fun metro areas, like Dallas home improvement projects, where you’ll find bright and colorful trends.

  • Doors: Down South, welcoming front porches, double doors that add a splash of bright, bold color to your home and shady verandas are all popular.
  • Siding: In the Southeast, you might see a little darker colors, desert tans and whites, but you’ll see some brown wood and driftwood as well.

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5 Home Maintenance Tips for Fall


Your clients may be able to shave up to 30 percent off their energy bills this fall by conducting appropriate preparation measures on their home. For example, stripping and caulking the home to prevent drafts could be a major money saver, according to WIN Home Inspection.

WIN President Steve Wadlington offers the following five tips to share with your clients on how to clean and update the home to get it cold weather-ready:

  1. Check the roof. Sun exposure can cause warping, fading, chipping, and other deformities to roofs and siding materials. Inspect the roof for cracks or other damages, and repair any issues before winter.
  2. Sweep the chimney. If there is a blockage, or if residue is built up, the risk of fire and other safety issues increases. Homeowners will want to make sure the chimney is clean and in tip-top shape for winter use.
  3. Clean the gutters. Check gutters for leaves or other debris that may be blocking water flow. Be sure to clear them out so water can properly drain. Gutters are essential in preventing water damage and other costly repairs.
  4. Check weather stripping and caulking. This is essential to keep windows and doors sealed. Windows and doors may become slightly detached from their frames during colder months, so it’s important to make sure they are properly attached at the beginning of the season.
  5. Check out floors. With all the heat and moisture of the summer months, floors may be showing some signs of wear and tear. Scratched, dull, or damaged floors should be professionally scuff-sanded and recoated.

Source: WIN Home Inspection

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