Category Archives: Appraisal

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional

Five Reasons to Hire a Real Estate ProfessionalHome buying and selling are complicated, detailed processes and, because they are often the most significant financial commitments of your lifetime, they can be highly stressful too. However, with a real estate professional on your side, buying or selling a home can be manageable, even enjoyable. Here are 5 reasons to hire a real estate professional when buying or selling a Kent, Covington or Maple Valley home.

  1. Rules, regs and paperwork. Each state regulates the contracts needed to buy or sell a home and these regulations change all the time. However, a real estate professional – ideally a Realtor – is up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations, and she can streamline the process for you.
  2. 180 steps to closing. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are 180 steps a full-service Realtor follows in return for their sales commission, including everything from pre-listing activities and entering a home into the MLS database to the home inspection and post-closing follow-up. Yes, 180! Let your real estate professional focus on those steps, while you focus on selecting the right home and getting ready for your move.
  3. Negotiation. Even if you enjoy a good negotiation, it can be very stressful, particularly when you are talking about a transaction worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. A real estate professional like me can take the emotion out of that process for you while putting years of negotiating experience to use.
  4. Home value. A real estate professional has the experience to price your home correctly, based on its true value and how current market conditions will affect the value. While you may know what you paid for your home and what you need to get out of it, a real estate professional can provide an objective value and her recommendations for putting a price tag on your home.
  5. Market conditions. The Seattle real estate market is one of the hottest in the country right now. An experienced and trusted real estate professional will stay on top of selling trends and know the ins and outs of the local real estate market to ensure you get the best deal possible.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home this summer, contact Team Marti now for a no-obligation consultation of your situation.

Real Estate Lingo for Homebuyers: Part 2

Continued from May 15, 2017

Freddie Mac Real Estate GlossaryBuying a home can be a daunting and complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right Realtor, you can feel confident that you are being well represented and that she has your back. It can also help to understand real estate lingo. Here is part two of a Freddie Mac real estate glossary you can use to educate yourself on the home buying process.

Margin: A percentage added to the index for an ARM to establish the interest rate on each adjustment date.

Market Value: The current value of your home based on what purchaser would pay. An appraisal is sometimes used to determine market value.

Mortgage: A loan using your home as collateral. In some states the term mortgage is also used to describe the document you sign [to grant the lender a lien on your home]. It may also be used to indicate the amount of money you borrow, with interest, to purchase your house. The amount of your mortgage is usually the purchase price of the home minus your down payment.

Mortgage Broker: An independent finance professional who specializes in bringing together borrowers and lenders to complete real estate mortgages.

Mortgage Insurance (MI or PMI): Insurance needed for mortgages with low down payments (usually less than 20% of the price of the home).

Mortgage Rate: The cost or the interest rate you pay to borrow the money to buy your house.

Net Monthly Income: Your take-home pay after taxes. It is the amount of money that you actually receive in your paycheck.

Offer: A formal bid from the homebuyer to the home seller to purchase a home.

Points: 1% of the amount of the mortgage loan. For example, if a loan is made for $50,000, one point equals $500.

Pre-Approval Letter: A letter from a mortgage lender indicating that you qualify for a mortgage of a specific amount. It also shows a home seller that you’re a serious buyer.

Pre-Qualification Letter: A letter from a mortgage lender that states that you’re pre-qualified to buy a home, but does not commit the lender to a particular mortgage amount.

Principal: The amount of money borrowed to buy your house or the amount of the loan that has not yet been repaid to the lender. This does not include the interest you will pay to borrow that money. The principal balance (sometimes called the outstanding or unpaid principal balance) is the amount owed on the loan minus the amount you’ve repaid.

Real Estate Professional: An individual who provides services in buying and selling homes. The real estate professional is paid a percentage of the home sale price by the seller. Unless you’ve specifically contracted with a buyer’s agent, the real estate professional represents the interest of the seller. Real estate professionals may be able to refer you to local lenders or mortgage brokers, but are generally not involved in the lending process. [Note: A real estate agent and a Realtor are not the same thing. Click here to learn the difference.]

Refinance: Getting a new mortgage with all or some portion of the proceeds used to pay off the original mortgage.

Title: The right to, and the ownership of, property. A title or deed is sometimes used as proof of ownership of land.

Title Insurance: Insurance that protects lenders and homeowners against legal problems with the title.

Truth-In-Lending Act (TILA): Federal law that requires disclosure of a truth-in-lending statement for consumer loans. The statement includes a summary of the total cost of credit, such as the APR and other specifics of the loan.

Underwriting: The process a lender uses to determine loan approval. It involves evaluating the property and the borrower’s credit and ability to pay the mortgage.

Click here to read Real Estate Lingo for Homebuyers, Part 1.

[Source: Freddie Mac]


Homebuyers, Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs?

Many homebuyers and home sellers believe they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or to move on to their next home. There are many loan programs where you can put down as little as 3% – or even 0% with a VA loan.

If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you’ve saved enough for your closing costs which include everything from homeowner’s insurance and title insurance to appraisal and legal fees.

Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:

“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage.  These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Many first-time homebuyers say they wished that someone had told them closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.

Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs).

Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees in order to get the deal finalized.

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to. Want some guidance? My team can help explain the closing costs you might have to pay on the homes you are considering.

How Much Homeowner’s Insurance Do I Need?

Home much homeowner's insurance do I need?Homeowner’s insurance is insurance coverage that protects your home, its contents and other assets in the event of fire, theft, vandalism, accident, storm or other disaster. Homeowner’s insurance also covers liabilities if someone is hurt on your property.

Some coverages for your home are not included in a standard policy. For example, floods and earthquakes are usually purchased separately. Some homeowners also insure specific items such as an art collection or jewelry over a certain amount.

If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will require you to have homeowner’s insurance, but it is not required by law. However, we consider it a “must have” even if your home is paid for.

How much coverage do you need to protect yourself financially if something happens to your home? To answer that, let’s look at some important terms that will influence the amount and cost of coverage.

  • Guaranteed replacement coverage: Your insurer will pay to rebuild your home no matter what it costs. According to the Wall Street Journal, these types of policies are hard to find.
  • Extended replacement coverage: Many insurance companies offer coverage with a cap at 125% of the insured value of your home. This limits their liability.
  • Inflation guarantee or guard: This insurance feature ensures that your home’s insured value is in line with the current marketplace.
  • Actual cash value vs. replacement cost: To insure the items in your home, a replacement cost policy is more advantageous than actual cash value as personal items such as furniture, clothing, electronics and household furnishings depreciate over time.
  • Liability coverage: This is a standard feature of homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself if someone is injured on your property or in your home. Standard policies range between $100,000 and $300,000. How much coverage you opt to get depends on your needs.

The Wall Street Journal recommends that you get an appraisal and then purchase extended replacement coverage and an inflation guarantee to protect yourself. You will also want to ask your insurance agent if flood insurance is required in your region of the country. If so, you’ll want to obtain that coverage. Learn more about flood insurance at

Because each homeowner’s situation is different, it is best to discuss your specific needs with an insurance specialist. If you don’t have an insurance agent, ask your Realtor for a referral to local agents she knows and trusts. They can discuss your situation and make recommendations for your consideration. Good luck!

Homebuyer Tool: Final Walk-Through Checklist


Do a Final Walk-Through Before Closing

Homebuyer Tool: Final Walk-Through Checklist

You’ve done it! You’ve found your dream home, and you are almost ready to sign the papers that will make it yours. While you are anxious to close the deal and move in, there is one critical last step before you do so – a final walk-through. You might be tempted to use this opportunity to give the house one more cursory glance as you plan where you’ll put your furniture, but this is your last chance to make sure the home is in good shape and that any repairs or changes have been made as agreed.

  1. Heating and Cooling Systems. Check to be sure that the heating and cooling systems in the home work, no matter what the season. You don’t want to wait until winter to know that the furnace or heat pump isn’t working.
  2. Plumbing. Turn on every faucet and showerhead and flush all the toilets. Do they all work? Is anything leaking? Is the water pressure appropriate? If not, make a note of it.
  3. Electrical Systems. Turn on all the lights and ceiling fans, find the fuse box and check to be sure that switch plates, fixtures, etc. are in place. If anything is missing, jot it down.
  4. Appliances. Are the appliances in good working order? Make sure that any appliances that are staying work. Turn on the dishwasher, make sure the refrigerator and freezer are cold, give the dryer a spin, test the garbage disposal, and check the microwave and bathroom fans.
  5. Home Security. If the home has a security system, is it working? Does the keypad work? How about the remotes? Do you know where everything is and do you have instructions on how to change passcodes, etc. once the home is yours?
  6. Windows and Doors. Open every window and door to ensure there aren’t any problems, and make sure you have keys to each door. Are the screens and storm windows intact? If the home has an electric garage door opener, check that too and be sure you have access to all remotes.
  7. Landscaping and Lawn Care. Check to be sure that the lawn has been left as you agreed to it. Make note of any problems with the fencing and, if there is a watering system, check to be sure that it works. Is anything missing?
  8. Repairs. If the current homeowner agreed to make any repairs prior to selling the home, or if the inspection required repairs or upgrades as a condition of sale, follow up to be sure these repairs have been made. Also, if the homeowner agreed to leave the ceiling fan, curtains or other items, check to be sure they are still in the home.
  9. Overall Condition of the Home. Is the home clean? Have all of the previous owner’s property been removed? If not, let your Realtor® know.

Make sure you have your Realtor along when you do the final walk-through, so she can serve as the liaison between you and the sellers should there be a problem. You’ll want to get everything resolved prior to closing. Enjoy your new home!

Sources:  Money Crashers, Realtor Magazine and Zillow




LocalScape: Get King County Property Values & More

5 ways to increase your home's value before sellingWonder what your King County, Washington property is worth? I can help. Well, actually, the King County Assessor’s Office can help. They’ve created this cool LocalScape website to tell you all kinds of useful things about King County, including:

  • Area overview including census data
  • Assessed property values by address or Parcel ID
  • Appraised values, including 10 years of media values
  • Recent sales, including highs, lows and averages
  • Area schools
  • Permit info.

This is a great tool if you want an update on the value of your own property, or if you are thinking of moving to King County and want to get additional information about home values, demographics (age, gender, language, etc.), schools, etc. Check it out, and if you have questions about real estate, of course, you know where to find me!

LocalScape: Get King County Property Values & More