First Impressions – Tip for Marketing Your Home #2

I know you’ve heard it said many times….”Curb Appeal”. What does this really mean and how can you improve it when it comes to preparing your home for sale?

The first thing I’d recommend you do is to get in your car and drive around your neighborhood and look at other  homes. How do they look to you? What features do you find attractive? What places look unappealing and why? OK…now that you’ve done that, come back to your place and pull up in front. How does it look?

  • Does it appear well-kept?
  • Does it look like it needs work?
  • How does the front door look? If it has a screen door, is it in good shape?
  • Is the front walkway and porch inviting?
  • Are the shrubs trimmed away from the house?
  • Do trees block the view of the house from the road?

Sometimes, very little change needs to happen to make your home much more attractive to buyers. The big trees that you’ve always loved because they give you privacy, may not be helping the appearance of your home. Taking some  limbs off at the bottom of the tree, may make the house look more approachable. If the screen door is older and the dog may have knocked parts of it loose, take it off and store it in the garage or repair it. Little things like a scratched up front door or trim that’s showing some exposed wood, will give the impression that the house “needs a lot of work”, when maybe it doesn’t. If you have children and pets, the doors can take a real beating but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the condition of the home. A little paint can go a long way and is a very inexpensive way to improve the buyer’s first impression of your home.

Spring is an excellent time to put your home on the market and a pot of flowers on the porch (next to your freshly-painted front door), will send the message that this is a house that feels like “home”….

For tips on staging your home



Posted on February 15, 2017 at 7:25 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Marketing your home | Tagged , , ,

I don’t stink!….Tips for Marketing Your Home #1

You’ve decided to sell your home and plan to put it on the market in the spring….what can you do between now and then to increase its marketability?

In today’s busy market, sellers might be tempted to relax when it comes to preparing their home for buyers. I often have to remind them that its like selling a car. You wouldn’t take a dirty car filled with old food wrappers and empty pop cans into a dealer and expect a good trade in amount. Nobody wants to take on somebody else’s stinky lifestyle so the first thing you need to do is thoroughly clean your house and eliminate the stinky areas….

This involves more than dumping the garbage. There are other areas in our homes that stink….the laundry room, the kids rooms (especially their closets), the area where we feed our pets or have the cat box, the back porch where we sneak a cigarette on occasion, the carpet, the furniture and the kitchen. All these areas carry our odor and guests can smell it as soon as they walk in the door. We get used to it so we don’t even notice it…unless it gets really bad. If we love to cook with a lot of onions and garlic, the smell of those two items can cling to the rooms of our homes, our clothing and our furniture for days.

The best way to identify your “stink” is to have a friend, who you trust to be totally honest, come into your house and tell you what they smell….good and bad. We have a saying in real estate, “If you can smell it, you can’t sell it”. This isn’t totally true because eventually we can sell anything but you don’t want your house sitting on the market for months…Put the time in at the beginning and reap the benefits in price and time on the market.

A great resource for information on home buying, marketing and creating a lovely home can be found at



Posted on January 6, 2017 at 8:22 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Marketing your home |

Living on a Non-Ferry Island


People ask me all the time what it’s like to live on an island with only 40 year-round residents? Don’t I get bored? Lonely? Go stir crazy? Sometimes….but in general…No.

I love the quiet and the safety that comes from living in a rural environment that is buffered from the often-bizarre world at large by a pretty big body of water. Have I dropped out of society by living out here?

Maybe a little bit, but not really. I still stay in touch with all the world events by internet but my energy is focused on the things that I have some chance of impacting. I support my community by staying active with the school and reinforcing positive interactions with the children that go there. I volunteer as a EMS coordinator and am available as a support person in case of emergency. I’m active in a weekly market in the summer which has been wonderful for building “community” between the permanent population and the owners of 2nd homes on the island.



Gratefully, I’m able to offer my friends and family a lovely, peaceful setting to escape the stresses of jobs, traffic and city life and unwind. I nurture my own soul by dabbling in art, growing organic vegetables and enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounds me and I stay active so that I can be healthy as long as I can.

I have an awesome life and I recommend the lifestyle to anyone who wants to embrace a life a “little less ordinary”.



2015-01-26 13.32.39 (2)


Posted on April 10, 2016 at 8:27 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Island Living |

Buying a 2nd Home

I specialize in an area that is very attractive to the buyer looking for a 2nd home.  For some people, the idea of having a 2nd home is a very foreign concept.  They ask me why does a person feel the need for two homes…or even want to maintain two homes?  They tell me they’d rather spend their money on ski vacations or a new boat or car and put whatever is left into a 401K or similar investment account.


From my experience, most people who buy a 2nd home see it as an investment in their family.  They are wanting to create a place for their family to gather and really get to know one another.  If they have grown children, they want to re-meet their children as adults and share adventures with them.  If it’s a single person or a couple without children, they tell me that they want to create for themselves, their friends and/or siblings a “special” getaway, where they can leave their stresses and cares for a couple of days or a week, and relax.  They see it as a “gift” they are able to give those they love.


I’ve often heard middle age couples sheepishly say, “we’re spending our children’s inheritance”, but when I ask them what they’re wanting to purchase; they state that they want their children to inherit something more lasting than cash and something that is a becoming a vanishing commodity….especially for the middle class. When I bought my first investment property, (a vacant lot with beach access) I saw it as a forced savings account that I could enjoy as I paid into it.  I could sit on the beach and have a bonfire or harvest oysters and crab and have a lot more fun with my investment than I could ever do with a bank statement.


Money disappears so quickly in our current culture!  I’m old enough to remember when $100,000 was a lot of money and you could buy a Rolls Royce for $10,000.  Yes, we can work hard and leave our heirs a big bank account but how long will it last?  When you purchase a piece of property or a 2nd home, it becomes the legacy that they can enjoy for years with you and continue to enjoy after you’re gone….cherishing the memories that you created together.


Posted on March 20, 2014 at 7:43 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Home Buying |

The Tiny House Movement

Did you know that there is a current movement happening where people are deliberately choosing to move into tiny homes?  These homes can be permanent residences on a concrete foundation or built on wheels for flexibility.  Companies are popping up throughout the country specializing in tiny homes and the Tiny House Blog has a great following of individuals looking for new ideas and inspiration.

Fun island tree house


When we bought our property on Decatur Island in 1990, we cleared a small area in the 100 year old orchard and set up a couple of tents around a fire pit and that was our “home” base for the first summer.  We quickly realized that we wanted to be able to come to our property year-round so we built a small 6×10 redwood shed and fitted it out with a double bed, three bunks and an antique wood-fired trash burner that served as a cooking surface and heat source. The redwood shed is now used for storage but I can see it out of my kitchen window and smile at all the memories it contains.


In the islands, tiny houses are a wonderful option for affordable vacation “getaways” or year-round homes.  Designs are available for kits and pre-built cottages that are 120 to 700 square feet and most tiny homes can be built for $15,000 to $50,000.  San Juan County offers an “owner builder” permit option for structures less than 1000 square feet.  Exciting projects are being developed by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Frontier Fortress out of Wyoming.

Decatur Island “Tiny House”

Why do people want a “tiny home”?


“I want to enjoy my life and not be a slave to a mortgage”

“We want to live simply so we can focus on what we feel is important”

“Tiny houses are cute”

“We want to create a place that reflects our unique needs”

“We can build a home and pay cash for it”

“I want to travel but want a small place to come home to”

“I’ve always wanted to build my own place”

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Home Buying |

Real Estate is Improving

In case you haven't been watching the market or noticing the rising of "pending sales" in your community, let me tell you….the real estate market is improving!  Last month our office had 21 properties go pending in 21 days, which is so much better than it's been for the past 3 years.  From my 25 years of experience, I know that just getting through this presidential election helps a lot.  I realize it's part of the political process, but it's pretty challenging on the consumer to have confidence when the candidates keep talking about how the country is "going to hell in a handbasket" and they are the one to fix it…..yeesh!

New home starts are also increasing, which is great and impacts all areas of our community.  It's wonderful seeing new projects again and knowing that the worst is behind us.  I have access to all kinds of graphs and statistics if you want data for your specific area.  Let me know….I love hearing from you!

If you're thinking of buying a home, you might not want to wait until spring to do it….inventory is dropping rapidly and rates have never been better….it's a great time to be a Buyer!


Posted on December 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

2nd Homes Can Be A Great Deal (tax-wise)

Doesn't everybody yearn for a 2nd home?…. A beautiful place to go and do nothing but relax and spend time with friends and family…drinking nice wine, eating yummy food and reading those books you've always wanted to have time to read.


Unfortunately, it's often hard to justify the expense of a 2nd home when the upkeep of the primary residence sometimes seems overwhelming.

As someone who traded in my primary residence to live in my "2nd" home on a full-time basis, I understand this dilemma all too well, but did you know there are some awesome tax benefits to having a second home? For one thing, interest is deductible for your first 1.1 million in debt. (you can buy a darn nice home for 1.1 million) Also, if you rent it out for less than 14 days/year, you don't have to pay taxes on that rental income….cool! If you yourself use it for less than 14 days/year, the vacation home is considered a business and up to $25,000 in losses can be deducted each year. So you ask…."why have a vacation home that I can only use 14 days a year?" Well, here's the loophole…Days spent "maintaining" the home, aren't considered personal use days. Hmmm….maybe that's why I see so much window washing and deck sweeping going on.. I'm not making this stuff up.  There's a great article on that tells all about it. 

I may not be able to do your taxes, but I can sure show you some wonderful San Juan Island properties that will tempt you to live your "dream".

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

What will the new year bring?

As we start into the new year, after all the excitement of the holiday, some of us have resolutions in hand for 2012 and others are just trying to finish up the last of the sugar cookies so they can quit feeling guilty on a daily basis.  As for me, I started walking.  I go out every day and try to let go of all the questions about  the economy, presidential elections, obscure Facebook posts and wonderings about how I can spend so much time on the computer, and not accomplish much; vanish for a little while.

This morning, I had a wonderful treat.  I think spring is going to come early this year because the eagles are out in their full glory, and today I got the chance to watch a couple at play right on the trail ahead of me.  They were swooping and calling until the female flew off and left her majestic suitor sitting in the tree above me.  He was incredible!  He looked down on me with what seemed to be total disdain and called to her to rejoin him.  She didn’t and I moved on, grateful for a brief moment in nature to remind me of why I live in this beautiful place.

I don’t know what 2012 will bring so I’m going to just take each day as it comes and cherish the moments of glory and try to endure the moments of challenge.  That’s really all we can do anyway, isn’t it?  As my step father used to say, “It’s a great life, if you just don’t weaken”.  He lived each day fully until he died at 76.  His last words to my mother were, “I want to tell you all about my wonderful day, but I’m just too tired so I’m going to go to bed.”  I hope my last words are the same.

Walking the beach on Decatur Island

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

Island Afternoons

Posted on December 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

Tourist for a Day

A Tourist for a Day

Sometimes, we have to take a moment…and re-discover our world. I find that if I’m not careful, my day-to-day cares take over and I lose site of this beautiful place where I live. The water is just a passing view as I travel through the house carrying the laundry, the beaches are for someone else to walk and the sun shining through the windows becomes just an annoying glare on my computer screen. Although I appreciate where I live, I find I have to make a deliberate effort to enjoy my environment.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to go on a kayaking picnic with her to the south end of Decatur Island. My first response was, “no, I’ve got too much to do today…I can’t do it.” But as most young 20 year olds, her response was to not take “no” for an answer and she kept persevering. Finally, I gave in and made up a picnic and gathered paddles and life jackets for the trip. What a trip it was!….Beautiful glassy water, a warm pebble beach, eating lunch and visiting with my daughter and even a nap in the sun. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a woman checking off items on a “to do” list, it was like I was someone kayaking the San Juan Islands and appreciating the awesomeness of this place for the very first time…the smell of the seaweed, the calls of the various birds and the unsurpassed beauty everywhere. I came home with a pocket full of rocks and sea glass and a full set of charged batteries….ready to attack my first item on my “to do” list….write a blog.

Wherever you live, take a minute and plan a day being a tourist in your own town….visit the museum, have lunch in the park and better yet, spend the day with someone who means the world to you. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |