Like it or not, winter is just 10 days away. If you haven’t already prepped your home for winter and freezing temps, there’s still time. Use our handy checklist to make sure you and your home are ready for winter weather:
- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so the blades rotate clockwise. Keep on a low speed to push air down from the ceiling into your room.
- Have your furnace surfaced at the beginning of the season and make sure you change the filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Lower your thermostat or use a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs.
- Remove window screens and install storm windows and doors, if you have them.
- Shut off exterior water sources and cover the faucets to prevent freezing.
- Insulate exposed pipes to prevent burst pipes.
- Insulate your hot water heater.
- Block drafts from doors and windows and seal cracks with door sweeps, door gaskets, calking and weather stripping.
- Have your chimney cleaned annually to decrease your risk of fire and buildup and residue.
- Remove any portable air conditioners and cover condensing units.
- Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and free of debris. This will be particularly helpful when the heavy rains come.
If you’re thinking of relocating to the Seattle area, and are wondering which area to choose, consider South King County, Washington. Here are 10 reasons it is a great place to live!
- Convenient location. Whether you live in Kent, Covington or Maple Valley, South King County is located between Seattle and Tacoma with either major metro area being a 20- to 30-mile drive, depending on your destination.
- Easy access to mass transit. King County has a great mass transit system, including everything from buses and water taxis to trains and SeaTac International Airport.
- Breathtaking views. On a clear day, you can view the majestic Mount Rainier from just about any vantage point. You can also see the Green River (Kent and Auburn), the Cedar River (Renton) and Puget Sound (Des Moines, Burien and Federal Way). Most cities in South King County also have lakes. Renton, of course, is on the tip of Lake Washington. Kent has Lake Meridian, Clark Lake and Lake Fenwick, and Maple Valley has the beautiful Lake Wilderness.
- Fabulous parks and trails. All of our South King County cities have access to fabulous parks and trail systems, as well as county and state parks and trails. In Kent, for example, we have the Soos Creek Trail, the Green River Trail and the Interurban Trail. In Des Moines, there is Saltwater State Park and Dash Point State Park, both on Puget Sound.
- Shopping. We all need to shop, whether we like it or not, and South King County has a wealth of options including The Landing (Renton), Kent Station (Kent), The Outlet Collection Seattle (Auburn) and Southcenter (Tukwila). In addition, we have lots of boutiques, shops, and locally owned stores.
- Dining. South King County is home to very diverse populations, bringing people from all over the world together. To celebrate our diversity, we have a wide range of dining options featuring everything from All American diners and Asian flavors to Indian and Ukrainian food. No matter where you choose to call home, there will be dozens – if not hundreds – of options nearby.
- Arts and entertainment. South King County is rich with culture, including long-time favorites like free summer concerts and the year-long Spotlight Series in Kent to seasonal festivals like Sausage and Cider Fest in Covington and Renton River Days in Renton. Live music, theatre, art galleries and studios, movie theatres and much more.
- Schools. From award-winning school districts to local colleges like Green River College and Renton Technical College, there is a wide range of educational opportunities in South King County, serving students of every age and ability.
- Weather. People across the nation have the misperception that it always rains in this part of the state. Yes, we get rain in the Seattle area, primarily in November, December and January, but we rarely have snow. And our summers are breathtaking. In Kent, for example, our average temperature in December is 46, and in August our average temperature is 78, according to U.S. climate data.
- People. We love the diverse populations that make up South King County, and we are proud that people from around the world call this area home. We have hundreds of cultures and languages represented here, and we love that sharing that with each other, as evidenced by the many cultural events and festivals here including the Kent International Festival, the Khalsa Day Parade and the Renton International Festival, just to name a few.
If you are looking for a home in Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way or Black Diamond, there are countless reasons to live here. If you’re looking for specific information, please let us know. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about the area. We love calling South King County home – we know you will too!
Thinking about selling your home this summer? We’ve got 10 tips to help you improve your home’s curb appeal to draw in potential buyers, and 10 tips to make your house feel like home to lucky homebuyers. Have questions about selling? Let us know. Team Marti is here to help!
“Marti works hard to understand what you want and find it. She keeps you informed in every step of the process, and she will go out of her way to get answers to questions that you have throughout the process.
I just bought my 3rd home, and I have worked with many realtors. I have never worked with a realtor as diligent, proactive, and caring as Marti. I can’t think of any other realtor that I would rather work with. Thanks, Marti!”
~ Sandra Gores on Realtor.com
“I have had the privilege of working with Marti and her many buyers and sellers. Taking every opportunity to obtain full knowledge of every aspect of her industry. Providing service with a sincere interest in taking care of your every real estate need. I would highly recommend her when deciding to purchase or sell property. You won’t regret it”
~ Angela Taylor Ford on Realtor.com
Whether you are moving across town or across the country, you want to be sure you pack carefully and efficiently. Here are some great packing tips, compliments of Two Men and a Truck.
- Pack items from the same room in the same set of boxes. For example, put all items from your master bedroom into one set of boxes. This will make it easier to unpack later.
- Label each box on the top and the side with the name of the room it goes in (e.g., living room, kitchen, master bath, etc.), and mark it FRAGILE for delicate and breakable items like glasses, picture frames and dishes. If it is something you’ll need fairly soon, mark it accordingly – NEED – so it makes its way to the designated spot.
- Use brand new boxes that are sturdy. Liquor stores are a great resource for small and medium boxes with dividers. Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club often have extra boxes too, and your local moving company will have boxes and other moving supplies available for purchase.
- Tape boxes with packing tape, not duct tape or masking tape.
- Do not use printed newspaper for wrapping fine china or crystal. Instead, use unprinted paper, available at your moving supply store.
- Pack heavier items in small boxes, like books and dishes.
- When packing dishes, pack the dishes facing upward. Wrap each piece individually with padding in between items. Ideally, use specialized, divided boxes available at your moving supply store.
- Pack boxes with moving essentials – soap, paper towel, cleaner, toilet paper, extra clothes, towels, snacks, bottled water – last. These items should go in your car or be the last on (and first off) the moving truck.
- Pack important documents like health records, insurance policies and passports in one box that you can keep with you or put with your moving essentials box. These documents can be difficult to replace, so make it easy on yourself by knowing where they are at all times.
- If you have to disassemble furniture or appliances to move them, keep all of the individual parts (screws, legs, etc.) together in a labeled, airtight bag. This is also helpful for curtain rods and tie-backs. Keep all the pieces together.
“I recently sold an investment property/rental with Marti Reeder as our seller’s agent.
I found Marti through researching agents on Zillow. I interviewed two other agents as well, including the agent that helped me purchase the property 6 years ago. Marti impressed me so much that I had no problem signing listing papers with her the next day.
Communication was a top priority for me, as I was selling from half way across the country. She is quick to respond and to the point, whether it’s via phone or email. Anytime I had any concerns, I knew I could send her a text or email and she’d get back to me quickly.
My house needed some repairs and updates to make it turnkey, and Marti was very insightful as to what would and wouldn’t pay for itself in the sale. She also gave recommendations for a contractor and landscaper, both of which I used and was satisfied with.
Once there was a signed purchase agreement, her team handled almost everything, with minimal work from me. I signed the documents on my end from my home halfway across the country, and the money was in my bank account the day after we closed. A truly painless transaction.
Marti is one of the only agents I have worked with that made me feel like she actually earned her commission. I can’t recommend her enough.”
Read this testimonial and others on Zillow.
This is our third blog post to celebrate National Financial Literacy Month and to help put (or keep) you on the road to financial success.
When buying a home, some lenders require a down payment of 20% of the home’s purchase price. However, many lenders offer loans with less than 20% down, even as low as 5% on a conventional mortgage. There is a catch though. If you put less than 20% down on your new home, your lender will usually require you to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI.
So what exactly is PMI? I’m glad you asked! PMI is an additional amount you pay along with your monthly mortgage payment that guarantees to protect the lender if you fail to pay your mortgage. Typically, PMI will raise your monthly mortgage payment, unless you make a one-time upfront payment for the PMI at closing.
When shopping for a mortgage lender or broker (see last week’s post), be sure to ask what each lender requires for a minimum down payment, and ask what special home loan programs might be available to you, such as an FHA or VA loan. If your lender requires PMI for your situation, ask what the total cost of the insurance is and how much it will increase your monthly payment when the PMI is included or what a one-time premium would be.
Your Realtor® or lender should be able to answer any questions you might have, but here is a handy online resource, compliments of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that can also help.
This is our second blog post to celebrate National Financial Literacy Month and to help put (or keep) you on the road to financial success.
Shopping for a new home is such an exciting process – touring other homes, imagining yourself and your family living in them, having choices of different styles and vintages, etc. Shopping for a mortgage, however, isn’t as much fun, but it is important that you know what’s out there and what your rights are.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers these tips:
- Compare lenders and brokers. You can get a mortgage through a broker who represents multiple lenders or you can get a mortgage directly through a financial institution like a commercial bank, mortgage company or credit union. According to the FTC, some lenders are both lenders and brokers, and you want to know which you are dealing with because brokers usually get paid a fee for their services in addition to a loan origination fee and other fees. Compare several lenders and brokers and the various loan options and fees before choosing who you want to work with. Referrals from friends, family and your Realtor® are a good place to start.
- Get all relevant costs from your broker or lender, including
- Current mortgage interest rates. Ask if the rates quoted are the lowest rates of the week.
- Fixed or adjustable rates. If the rates are adjustable, ask about the terms of the loan, including the index the rate is tied to, how often the rate can be adjusted, and if there is a cap on how high it can go.
- The loan’s annual percentage rate (APR). The APR factors in the interest rate, points, broker fees and other charges, expressed as a yearly rate.
- Ask the lender or broker to quote current points as a dollar figure. Usually, the more points you pay, the lower your interest rate.
- Ask the lender what fees you’ll have to pay including loan origination fees, underwriting, broker fees and closing costs.
- Down payment and private mortgage insurance. Ask what percentage of a down payment is required and if you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance for down payments less than 20%.
- Negotiate the best deal. Mortgage lenders and brokers often have latitude in rates and fees, so you want to negotiate the best deal possible for your home loan. Ask each to provide you with a written quote, and once you’ve selected the best home loan for your situation, ask if you can lock in that deal, assuming you are in that stage of the home buying process. An experienced Realtor® can explain these steps to you if you have questions or need support.
- Fair Lending is required. The Equality Credit Opportunity Act prohibits lenders from discriminating against credit applications in any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, whether or all or part of the applicant’s income comes from a public assistance program, or whether the applicant has in good faith exercised a right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. In addition, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in residential real estate transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. A consumer cannot be refused a loan based on these characteristics, charged more for a loan, or offered less favorable terms based on such characteristics.
- Shop, Compare and Negotiate, even if you have credit problems. Even if you have minor credit problems or have extenuating circumstances, you are in a position to negotiate loan terms, including interest rate and fees. Explain your situation and any credit history problems up front. It is also a good idea to get a copy of your credit report before shopping for a home. You can get a free copy annually at AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can find more information about shopping for a mortgage, including a glossary of terms, on the FTC website.
“Marti & her team were such a pleasure to work with! Marti & Valerie are excellent professionals with timely follow up, spot-on advice, insightful questions and a positive, encouraging attitude throughout what can be a stressful process.
Buying: Marti helped us find just the right home for our family and shepherded us through a somewhat unusual scenario with the sellers. She and her team were responsive, thorough and knowledgeable throughout, giving us the information we needed to make decisions without overstepping, and keeping an eye out for our best interests at all times. We also appreciated that she kept a good sense of humor and perspective when things were a little bumpy in the middle.
Selling: The guidance she gave us on which projects to do (and not do) when prepping our house to sell, and her instincts on pricing were great! I’d encourage anyone else to really leverage her experience and direction on how to best to position and market their house. The investments we made on her advice were well worth the money and effort, since we got multiple offers, and sold quickly for slightly above the price we were hoping for.
We took the process of selecting an agent very seriously and interviewed several people before deciding to work with Marti. She has a wonderful combination of professional savvy and personal connection that made all the difference, and we’re so glad we chose her!”
Read this and other testimonials and reviews on Zillow.