Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Saved Money

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Saved Money

Hindsight is 20/20, right? I could have saved over $2,000 with a home warranty this past year.

If you are a homeowner and have been living in your home for several years, as I am, you may not have thought about investing in a home warranty, even if you had one when you first bought the home. I highly recommend you give it some consideration. Here’s why.

Just like people, houses don’t get any younger with age. The major systems (e.g. plumbing and electrical) and appliances start to wear out, even if you take good care of them. If you’re lucky, they don’t all fail at once, so you can absorb the costs of repair or replacement a little bit at a time. Purchasing a home warranty before things break down, can potentially save you quite a bit of money.

A home warranty is an annual service contract that covers the cost to repair or replace parts of home appliances and systems that break down over time. 

It is essentially an insurance policy, and like other insurance policies, they vary as to what is covered and how much they cost. The information I’m going to give you here is generalized, so if you decide to purchase a warranty, be sure that you carefully compare the coverages, particularly their limitations and exclusions.

Most warranty companies offer different levels of coverage at varying monthly fees, starting at around $35/month ($420/year). I might note that the websites I checked require you to request a quote before they show you their available plans. In part, this is because not every company serves all geographical areas (but mostly, I suspect, they just want your contact info).

I recently purchased coverage for my own home, which is a 1924 bungalow. I’m not going to name the company I chose, but one reason I chose them is because they don’t require inspection or maintenance records in order to purchase a plan or get service. This means that when my 10-year-old washer goes out, I will call the warranty company and pay them an additional service fee of $75-$125 (depending on the plan I chose) to send a service person to my home to assess the problem.

If they can’t repair the covered item, they will replace it or offer an alternative solution at no additional cost.

Ironically, in a conversation with my sister a few months ago, she mentioned that she expects that her furnace will go out in the next year or so. I suggested that she buy a home warranty so that she will be covered if/when it does fail. (Note: the warranty company may require a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, otherwise people might wait to buy coverage until an appliance fails.)

Why it didn’t occur to me to take my own advice, I couldn’t say. Sure enough, last year I had to replace my water heater, my refrigerator and my chest freezer, which cost me close to $2,800. If I had invested in the home warranty at $35/m and $75/service call, I would have saved over $2,000! (Don’t think I’m not kicking myself.)

The moral of the story is, learn from my mistakes. If you have an older home/appliances, and can afford the extra $35/mo, give a home warranty serious consideration.

I Love Promoting Local Businesses

I Love Promoting Local Businesses

The following is from a direct mail newsletter I send my clients each month.

Starting this month (March, 2022), I am going to begin featuring one business from my “preferred vendor” list in each newsletter. These local vendors have earned their place on my list by providing quality service to clients of mine and/or my BHHS colleagues — service worthy of personal recommendation (i.e., they have not paid a promotional fee).

In honor of Women’s History Month, I am starting off with a woman-owned business. Amy Works, Inc. Her website says, ” We specialize in BATH, KITCHEN AND BASEMENT REMODELS and on building relationships with our customers.”

You can reach Amy and her team at 206-478-2019.

Here are more non-profit community resources: If you’re a parent in West Seattle who enjoys finding new outings close to home to do with your kids, this blog is for you. A website/hotline with information about where you can recycle all those hard-to-recycle items (like microwave ovens).

West Seattle podcasts: Here are three. There may be more.

West Seattle Chamber of Commerce:  Did you know you don’t need to own a business to join?

West Seattle Timebank:  WSTB enables neighbors to exchange skills and services for time credits rather than dollars.

Smart 911: Smart911 allows citizens to provide the additional details that 9-1-1 call takers may need in order to assist them during an emergency…even when you call from a cell phone!

Westside Baby: provides essential items to local children in need by collecting and distributing diapers, clothing, and equipment.

Mary’s Place: provides safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.

If you know of any other local non-profits that deserve a shout-out, let me know via email or comments.

Winter Wander Scavenger Hunt Welcomed 24 Teams in 2021

Winter Wander Scavenger Hunt Welcomed 24 Teams in 2021

It’s been a little over a week since West Seattle scavengers checked off the last boxes on the clue sheet. You may be wondering why it has taken so long to see the results posted here. It’s because Winder Wander was so well-received that it has taken me all week to tally scores, label jpegs, retrieve yard signs, and notify the players.

Last year, 12 teams played Winter Wander and sent in 198 selfies. This year, 24 teams took part in the West Seattle scavenger hunt and sent in 466 selfies and several social media posts. 7 of the 24 teams solved all 25 clues.

The team of Rick & Morty, aka Steve and Charlie Bierman, (pictured below) solved all 25 clues AND were the big winners in the drawing for the $100 gift card!

Father & son selfie in front of house with inflatable snowperson in background
Grand prize drawing winners

The names and point totals for each of the Winter Wander scavenger hunt teams are listed below. The highest point total went to Charlie’s Angels. The youngest participant was 1-month-old, Lucy. Even though I made up a couple of the team names myself, I must admit that the one that tickled my fancy the most, was Sleighing It!

Team Murray: 55 points

Beyond the Disaster: 55 points

Go Gesings: 30 points

The Happy Travelers: 34 points

The Finding Falcons: 45 points

Viking and Milady: 7 points

Team Blitzen(berger): 47 points

Sleighing It!: 18 points

Louie, Louie: 47 points

Tinsel Trio: 53 points

Charlie’s Angels: 58 points

Rick & Morty: 56 points

Raining Cat & Dog: 38 points

Gill Family: 26 points

Laura Tyler: 50 points

Kim S.:50 points

Frosty Jingle Head: 43 points

Chunn Family: 46 points

Maria Wellington: 40 points

Victoria Wellington: 40 points

Lucy in the Sky with Snowflakes: 46 points

Mark & Kiarra: 10 points

The Long and Winding Lane: 50 points

Yay! Murdock: 10 points

Special thanks to the many volunteers who helped me plan and execute Winter Wander:

Randy Winn, Barb Joseph, Tammy Contreraz, Christian Jacobson, Dora-Faye Hendricks, Kathy Blackwell, Janine Michelsons, Randy Winn, John Sweetland, Kathy Mulady, Glenn Erickson, Jeff Keller, the Bui Family, the Ga/ Jacobs family, plus the West Seattle Blog.

Local businesses who played along, and albums of photos from their wanderers, are below:

Ampersand Cafe on Alki   Winter Wander 2021 photos-Ampersand

The Bridge  Winter Wander 2021 photos-The Bridge

C & P Coffee  Winter Wander 2021 photos-C&P

Cactus Alki Beach  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Cactus

Daystar Retirement Village  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Daystar

Fire Station #32  Winter Wander 2021 photos-FS #32

Fresh Flours Bakery    Winter Wander 2021 photos-Fresh Flours

HeartBeet Organic Superfoods Cafe  Winter Wander 2021 photos-HeartBeet

Husky Deli  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Husky Deli

Mountain to Sound Outfitters  Winter Wander 2021 photos-M2S

Pegasus Book Exchange  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Pegasus Books

Row House  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Row House

Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Salvadorean Bakery

Sea Pines Physical Therapy  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Sea Pines

Seattle Auto Licensing  Winter Wander 2021 photos-Auto Licensing

Clue: “Star Wars meets American Animation”-photos

I fully intend to make Winter Wander an annual event, and hopefully a West Seattle holiday tradition, as my way of giving back to the community I proudly call my home. Save the date now for the 3rd Annual Winter Wander: Dec. 2-11, 2022.

When I’m not busy planning scavenger hunts, I serve our community as a real estate broker, which enables me to sponsor events like Winter Wander. Referrals are the foundation of my business, so please consider calling me for a free consultation when it comes time for you or your friends to buy or sell a home.

Below are just a few of the 466 selfies submitted by Winter Wander 2021 participants.

Team: Beyond the Disaster
Kathy & Glenn plus Santa & a really big elf!
Victoria Wellington in front of Mountain to Sound Outfitters
Team: Yay! Murdock in front of Pegasus Book Exchange
Team: The Happy Travelers, aka The Wilkes

Winter Wander Coming Dec. 3-12, 2021

Winter Wander Coming Dec. 3-12, 2021

Wanderer poses near a row of candy canes
Candy canes galore!

Announcing Winter Wander 2021, a West Seattle Scavenger Hunt

A FREE, LIVE, 10-DAY Adventure

designed to bring friends and families together for holiday fun!

Here’s how to play:

Download the Bingo-style clue sheet, a map and an instruction sheet from the Winter Wander web page ( Each of the 25 squares gives a clue to the location of a local business or home.

Gather your teammates anytime between 5PM, Friday, Dec. 3rd to 7PM, Sunday, Dec. 12th, and start wandering around West Seattle with map and clue sheet in hand.

Search for as many or as few locations as you wish. Each time you identify a solution, take a selfie in front of it, send it to and then resume wandering.

Each selfie submitted earns an entry for a drawing to win a $100 gift card to local businesses. (Additional prizes will be awarded.)

More information under the “Winter Wander” tab at the top of the page.

Details for 2021 hunt

Winter Wander Winners!

Winter Wander Winners!

Congratulations to Terri C. of West Seattle! She, her husband and daughter did a great job of solving 13 Winter Wander clues and won the drawing for $200 in gift cards from local merchants. The businesses they chose are Northwest Art and Frame, Paper Boat Booksellers, Coastal Surf Boutique.

We had 12 groups submit a total of 193 selfies for the contest, and countless other groups who played just for fun!

Many thanks to the 15 neighborhood businesses and institutions who agreed to participate as solutions to our clues. We hope you will pay each of them a visit and express your gratitude as well. They are:

Wildwood Market

The Birdhouse

Seattle Fish Company

Cherry Consignment

A la Mode

Curious Kidstuff


Wing Stop


Vatsana’s Thai Restaurant

Leaps and Bounds

Paper Boat Books

Peel and Press

BedHead Coffee

Highland Park Improvement Club

Desmond Hansen Artwork

Seattle Fire Department Station #11

Mark your calendar now for the SECOND annual Winter Wander, which will take place Dec. 4-12, 2021.

Special thanks, as well, to The West Seattle Blog, for helping us promote this free, community event, sponsored by Alice Kuder, REALTOR® and Preparedness Coach with Just in Case.

4700 42nd Ave SW, Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98116

Hey, Winter Wanderers: Need another clue?

Hey, Winter Wanderers: Need another clue?

If you’ve been participating in the Winter Wander Scavenger Hunt, but need a second clue for some of the tougher ones, there’s good news! We are now offering just that (upon request). Just call/text/email me and tell me which clues have you stumped and I’ll provide another hint. (See the flyer below for contact info.)

Meanwhile, here are some more photos of fellow Wanderers.

Winter Wanderers pose outside The Birdhouse coffee shop
First stop!
Wanderer poses near Santa Homer Simpson
Wanderer poses near a row of candy canes
Candy canes galore!
details about West Seattle scavenger hunt
Winter Wander is free and open to all West Seattle residents.
Winter Wanderers have a blast!

Winter Wanderers have a blast!

Here are the first selfies submitted by Winter Wander scavengers.

Send yours to by Dec. 13th to be entered into a drawing for a $200 gift certificate to West Seattle businesses of your choice!

Remember, you have until 7PM, Sunday, Dec. 13th to keep hunting and submit your selfies to

Winter Wanderers Vanessa and son
Winter Wanderers!
Wanderers spot Olaf
Two young women pose in front of a wreathed door.
More Wanderers!
Join the West Seattle “Winter Wander” Scavenger Hunt

Join the West Seattle “Winter Wander” Scavenger Hunt

Hey, West Seattle, let’s start a new holiday tradition. Winter Wander is a free, neighborhood scavenger hunt and everyone is invited.

It will run from 5PM, Friday, December 4, 2020 until 7PM, Sunday, December 13, 2020.

Download the details about how to join the Winter Wander here.

Download the official clue sheet here.

Download the clue map here.

Sponsored by Alice Kuder, REALTOR®, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, AND Just in Case: Disaster Preparedness Services.

details about West Seattle scavenger hunt
Winter Wander is free and open to all West Seattle residents.
Get Tips Galore at Ready Freddy Workshop

Get Tips Galore at Ready Freddy Workshop

The Ready Freddy Workshop, sponsored by Just in Case, makes getting prepared for emergencies fun!

Are you ready to dip your toes in the pool of information about emergency preparedness, but not ready to dive into the deep end? Join the fun on Sunday, March 1st, 2020 for a 30-minute presentation to learn about small steps you can take to get yourself and your home ready in case “The Big One” hits. There will be plenty of time and opportunity for Q & A at the end, so plan to stay longer.

At our Ready Freddy Workshop, Alice Kuder, founder of Just in Case, will share all kinds of useful information, including supply checklists, instruction sheets and “Help/OK” signs for you to take home. 

The workshop is limited to 15 participants and costs just $8/group (bring friends, family, co-workers) if you pre-register, or $10 at the door. The presentation is appropriate for all ages. To register, go to:

Everyone who attends will receive a stainless steel, multi-purpose tool. All attendees qualify to win a “Go Kit” duffle bag full of emergency supplies!

Date/time: 3PM, Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Location: West Seattle Coworking, 6040 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98136

Stainless steel, multi-purpose tool
Duffle bag with emergency supplies
Should you buy a Home Warranty?

Should you buy a Home Warranty?

If you haven’t purchased a home in the last 10 years (or even if you have), you may never have heard of a Home Warranty.

According to marketing literature published by 2-10 Home Warranty, there is a 68% chance that major systems or appliances in a home will fail in any given year. So, if you have older appliances, a home warranty may be worth examining.

A Home Warranty is similar to an insurance policy, but is actually a service plan. The cost of the plan, paid monthly or annually, covers the cost of repair or replacement of major systems and appliances such as HVAC, water heater, refrigerator, etc. Most companies have several plans to choose from, with fees as low as $30/month. You should expect to pay between $400-$500/year for a worthwhile plan. There is also a service call fee, which is typically about $75 per incident.

For example, let’s say that you have a service agreement in place and your oven goes out. You call the warranty company, pay the $75-ish service call fee, and they send out a qualified technician to assess the situation. Assuming the oven’s failure was due to every-day wear-and-tear, the warranty company will replace the existing oven with a new one of comparable quality at no additional cost to you. Figuring the average cost of a major appliance to be anywhere from $500 and up, you can see the potential savings.

It’s worth noting that not all home warranty companies are equally dependable when it comes to paying out claims, and consumer complaints are not uncommon. Consumer Reports offers some sound advice about searching out good companies and also some alternatives to buying a warranty.

Do not confuse a home warranty with homeowner’s insurance, which your mortgage lender likely required when you took out your home loan. Homeowner’s insurance covers the loss of your house from incidents (hazards) such as fire, storms or vandalism.

To add another wrinkle, the terms “homeowner’s insurance” and “hazard insurance” are sometimes used interchangeably. In reality, hazard insurance covers the loss of the structure, whereas homeowner’s insurance covers the loss of the structure AND your personal possessions and liability. The two are typically sold together and should be reviewed every few years to make sure that your coverage limits are keeping up with inflation. Your insurance broker will be happy to help you.