Category Archives: Making an Offer

Team Marti’s Top 10 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Team Marti's Top 10 Tips for First-Time HomebuyersA seller’s market can be a tough place for first-time homebuyers to purchase their first home, but don’t despair. It is certainly doable. Educate yourself on what’s needed to succeed in a seller’s market and work with an experienced Realtor who will give you world-class, 24/7 service. Here are our top 10 tips for first-time homebuyers. Good luck!

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. We recommend doing this before you begin shopping a home, so you know how much home you can afford and what type of credit you have, which will ultimately impact your loan terms, including the interest rates.
  2. Begin your home search online to get an idea of what’s available. Check out, Zillow, Northwest MLS or your favorite Realtor’s website.
  3. Work with a Realtor early on in your process. A talented Realtor can help guide you through what can be a very complex process, and offer advice specific to your situation. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues, and be sure to check out the referrals online before you meet with them. Read their online reviews and testimonials and their LinkedIn profile to see how long they’ve been selling real estate. You might also interview a couple of different agents to see who might be a good fit for you.
  4. Know the difference between your wants and needs in a first home. List all the features you want in a home and categorize them as ‘must haves,’ ‘should haves,’ and ‘absolute wish list.’ Learn more here.
  5. Check out the neighborhood and schools. The features of your home will be very important to you, but the neighborhood where you want to buy should also play a factor. Are there similar homes in the neighborhood? Are they well maintained? What amenities are nearby (e.g., parks, restaurants, shopping)? If you have a school-age child, or will be starting a family, what schools will your child attend? Visit the neighborhood at different times of day, if possible.
  6. Attend open houses. This is a great way to tour homes on the market to see what’s available. Keep in mind though that in a HOT real estate market like this one, a new listing may receive multiple offers the day of the open house. If you fall in love with a house you are touring, you’ll want to act on it right away.
  7. Write a winning offer. In a seller’s market, you need to bring your best offer to the table with as few contingencies as possible. Work with your Realtor to offer a fair but attractive price.
  8. Understand that your offer might get rejected. Competition is tough these days, so you may not get the first home you put an offer in on. Be patient. It will happen.
  9. Be prepared to cover closing costs. In a seller’s market, the seller tends to have control, so prepare to cover your own closing costs which will be on top of your down payment. Here are some additional guidelines.
  10. Don’t expect any home to be perfect. Sure, you have your heart set on a dream home with all of the desired features, but that is unrealistic. suggests you focus on three main factors: price, size and location. If you get all three, great, but getting two is more likely.

Good luck, and let us know if Team Marti can help!

[Sources: Inman, and CNN Money]

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.

A Seller’s Market is the Best Time to List Your Home

If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, but haven’t decided yet, consider this. We are currently in a seller’s market. Typically, the real estate market has 6 months of home inventory available. However, whenever inventory dips below 6 months, it is considered a seller’s market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, there is only a 4.2 month supply available.



This morning’s Seattle Times shows that Seattle has led the country in home price growth for the seventh straight month, and in Seattle, 90 percent of homes sold in the last two months have been involved in a bidding war, reports Redfin. When a bidding war occurs, prospective buyers put their best offer forward, many times above the home’s asking price.

Still not sure? Call Team Marti today. We’d be happy to review your situation and explain your options and the current real estate market in South King County.

Honest Advice for First-Time Homebuyers in a Sellers’ Market

Honest Advice for First-Time Homebuyers in a Sellers' Market


With home inventory so low, homes are selling quickly and above the asking price, in many cases. Here is some sound advice to help first-time homebuyers purchase a home in this sellers’ market:

  1. Get pre-approved from a mortgage lender. Whether you go through a traditional bank or a mortgage broker, first-time homebuyers should get pre-approved before shopping for a home. This will show sellers that their lenders have run a credit check, verified income and have tentatively agreed to lend the buyers money to buy a home. Pre-approval also typically means that the homebuyers know how much home they can afford. Learn more about pre-qualification and pre-approval here.
  2. Buy a home with a conventional mortgage. This will make homebuyers more attractive to sellers than someone who is getting financed through a VA or FHA loan, for example, because those home loan programs sometimes have greater restrictions.
  3. Put down a large down payment. While low down payment programs like VA and FHA home loans exist so buyers can buy a home with less money down, you will be more attractive to a mortgage lender and home seller with a larger down payment. This will also save you in mortgage interest over the life of your mortgage loan.
  4. Come to the table prepared to cover closing costs. When sellers have multiple buyers to choose from, they are more likely to select a homebuyer that is not going to ask the seller to share in closing costs.
  5. Require fewer contingencies when making an offer. When a seller has to wait for you to sell your home, or when other contingencies exist, a homebuyer becomes less attractive. Sellers want to sell their homes for as much money as possible, and as quickly as is possible. When contingencies exist, they could potentially hold up the selling process.
  6. Make an offer above asking price. Homes on the market now are selling within days. To buy one of those homes, homebuyers often have to offer more than the asking price to get their offer seriously considered. Of course, how much a buyer can offer is going to be based on their budget and down payment, but in this market, they should be prepared to go above the asking price.

This market is particularly challenging for first-time homebuyers. If you are in the market to buy a home now, consult with an experienced Realtor – like me – who can help you improve your chances of finding a home and getting your offer accepted. We can help you understand your options and improve your chances of having your offer accepted.



Home Sales at Highest Pace in 10 Years

Home buyers: If you want to buy a home now, the demand is strong, so you’ll have to differentiate yourself from other buyers to make your offer stand out. Ideally, you’ll get pre-approved so you know how much you can afford to spend – and how much you can offer on your dream home.

Home sellers: If you’re a seller, demand for available homes for sale is strong, and you’re in the driver’s seat. You’ll likely get your asking price, or perhaps more, and your home may sell faster than it would in a “normal” real estate market.

Have questions? Team Marti can help! Contact Team Marti today.

Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage: the 4 Cs

Know the 4 Cs of Mortgage Pre-Qualification and Pre-ApprovalRight now we are in a seller’s real estate market, because the number of homebuyers exceeds the number of  homes for sale. This means that, to buy your dream home, you need to stand apart from other home buyers. Not only do you need to have professional representation from an experienced Realtor to make a solid offer, but you also need to get mortgage approval to ensure a smooth home purchase.

We recommend starting with pre-qualification or pre-approval from a qualified mortgage lender or broker. The pre-approval process will tell you how much you can afford to spend on a home. Freddie Mac recommends that you focus on the 4 Cs which determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

Capacity: Your current and future ability to make mortgage payments
Capital or Cash Reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be liquidated
Collateral: The home that you want to purchase
Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Before you start shopping for a new home, get mortgage lender and broker recommendations from your local Realtor. Work with that lender or broker to find out what your credit score is, how much down payment you’ll need and how much you can afford to borrow. Then you can begin your search with the confidence that you’ll qualify to buy the home of your dreams. Happy House Hunting!

[To learn the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval, see my June 6, 2016 blog post.]

5 Tips for Making a Successful Offer

Realtor Marti Reeder celebrates 10 years in the business and other theRight now real estate inventory in King County is low. That means that there are fewer homes on the market than there are buyers, making it a seller’s market. It also means homes for sale will sell more quickly, at higher prices, and some will receive multiple offers.

That’s a good thing for sellers, but it creates a bit more work for homebuyers. You’ll want to have a good Realtor (like me!) to consult with and to handle the negotiations, but here are 4 tips to follow to improve your offer’s chances of getting accepted!

  1. Understand how much you can afford to spend. Before you start your home search, you want to get pre-approved for a mortgage to know that you can get financing and to identify that sweet spot in terms of your budget. You want to know that figure going into negotiations.
  2. Act quickly. Because it is a seller’s market, competition for the few homes on the market is stiff. The national average inventory of homes is currently 4.7 months; it is 6 months in a normal market. In other words, buyer demand has outpaced the supply, so when you find a home you want and can afford, make your offer quickly.
  3. Make an attractive offer. Your Realtor will help you come up with a price that’s fair and that will increase your chances of having your offer selected. Factors that will go into determining that dollar amount will include the sale of similar homes in the area, the condition of the home and what you can afford.
  4. Make your offer stand out. In addition to making a solid offer, consider writing a letter to the seller to let them know why their home is a perfect fit for you and your family. We know of a recent Kent sale where a family did just that, and it swayed the home seller into choosing their offer over others because she felt that particularly family deserved to have a home like hers.
  5. Be ready to negotiate. Often times, the seller will issue a counteroffer in terms of price or perhaps the timing of the closing date. Be prepared in advance so you know what your best offer is and what contract terms you are willing to negotiate.

Working with an experienced Realtor is your best chance for selecting the right home and for making an offer that has a good chance of success. Have questions? Please contact us. Team Marti is standing by to help.


Top 10 Home Buyer FAQs: Part 2

Top Home Buyer FAQs: Part 2This week we are continuing our top 10 list of home buyer’s most frequently asked questions!

6.  Why should I buy a home instead of rent one?

A home is a long-term investment that gives you secure long-term housing and financial security. When you pay rent, that money goes to pay your landlord’s mortgage and related expenses. When you make a mortgage payment on your own home, however, you are putting money toward your financial future. You can deduct the cost of mortgage loan interest, as well as property taxes, from your federal income taxes and, in some states, from your state taxes. You’ll also have something that’s yours and that reflects you and your personal style. Also, right now, interest rates are at record lows, and they will increase over time. The sooner you buy, the more you’ll save.

7.  How much can I afford to spend?

According to, a good guideline is spending about 25 percent of your net income on house payments. You can go as high as 32 percent, but anything over 35 percent is dangerous, because a higher income-to-housing ratio puts your home at risk if your finances change, such as a job loss or increased living expenses. Work with your mortgage lender to analyze your current income and expenses and to identify a comfortable mortgage level for your situation. Then you can start shopping for your dream home within your price range. If you don’t have a mortgage lender yet, talk to your Realtor® who can refer you to trusted resources.

8.  Can I buy a home while I’m selling my current one?

Yes, you can, but that depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you buy another home before you’ve sold your current one, you may overextend yourself financially. To avoid this pitfall, you can make your purchase offer contingent upon the sale of your current home. There is also the possibility that you could sell your current home before you lock in a new one. Talk to your Realtor to discuss your options and get some recommendations given your individual situation and current real estate market conditions.

9.  Besides a mortgage, what other costs should I consider when buying a home?

In addition to your monthly mortgage, you may have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you are putting less than 20 percent down on the home. You will have property taxes and any applicable city and state taxes. You’ll also have homeowner’s insurance. Some or all of these may be rolled into your mortgage payment, but you’ll want to find that out before closing. Also, you may have higher utility payments in your new home and homeowner association or condo dues may apply. Ask your Realtor for more information about monthly and annual costs.

10.  How much should I offer for the home I want?

Your Realtor is your best guide for choosing the right offer price. Factors to consider will include the asking price of similar homes in the same area, the condition of the home, how long the home has been on the market, how much of a mortgage will be required, how much you really want the home and if other offers are expected for the same property.

Here’s a link to Part 1, ICYMI. Have additional questions? Type them in the comments below or reach out to an experienced Realtor you know and trust to answer your questions.

Thanks for reading!


4 Ways Emotions Can Interfere with House Hunting

4 Ways Emotions Interfere with House HuntingBuying a home is an exciting, emotional and stressful project. Whether you have purchased a home before or are preparing to buy your first home, you don’t want to let your emotions make the decision for you. The following are pitfalls that can be costly:

1.  Love at first sight. Don’t fall in love with the first house you see and determine to buy it no matter what. You could end up overpaying for the property. Also, after the sale, you may discover costly repairs that will negate any profit from a future sale. Shop around. Compare.

2.  Always looking for a better deal. These buyers are just the opposite of the love-at-first-sight crowd. They think there is always a better deal out there than the one they just saw, or they hope the price will drop on some of the homes they like. Though this is possible, it is highly unlikely, especially in a seller’s market where the inventory of homes is lower than usual. If you pass up a good deal because you think the owner might drop the price later, you are giving another buyer the chance to snatch it up first. If a home has all you want, is in the right neighborhood, and is priced well, buy it before it’s gone.

3.  Paying too much for the perfect home. There is no such thing as a perfect home, though sometimes buyers think they may have found one. When this happens, the buyer acts on their emotions because they will do anything to get that house. When you buy a home, you always need to know you can resell it without losing any money. Unfortunately, when people find what they believe is the perfect home, they will often bid high to ensure their offer is accepted and in the process may overextend themselves financially.

4.  Unrealistic offers. The opposite of the overpayer is the low bidder. There is a big difference between negotiating a price with a seller and offering an unrealistically low price. Discuss this with your agent before you wind up alienating the seller and possibly the chance to buy the property. Making a realistic bid that is good for you and the seller is the answer to getting the property you want.

Shopping with your emotions rarely yields a good deal. Instead, listen to your Realtor’s suggestions, view several homes, and then make your decision based on a variety of factors, not just your emotions. Once you have selected your home, don’t look back. Enjoy it, make improvements and make it your own, knowing you made a sound decision you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Happy House Hunting!


8 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

8 tips for first-time homebuyersTired of apartment living? Have a growing family? Want a space you can call your own? Buying your first home can be complicated, but these tips will make buying your first home easy-breezy.

  1. Know how much home you can afford. Look at your average monthly budget and see what you can spend on your mortgage comfortably. Find a home that fits in your budget, but that also has the features most important to you. Skip the upgrades if they don’t fit in your budget, and ask your Realtor® to tell you what closing costs to expect.
  2. Know what you need and want in a home. If you need lots of space, make that a priority. If you love cooking, make sure a well-equipped, modern kitchen is a must have. Make sure you also include neighborhood, schooling, and commute in your list of priorities as well.
  3. Get pre-approved for a loan. This will also help you figure out how much you can afford and make things less scary when trying to figure out which houses are not only in your budget, but also in your priorities list.
  4. Explore your mortgage options. Are you a person who never plans to buy another home, and are only interested in a fixed-rate mortgage? Do you want to use this as a starter home and have an adjustable rate mortgage? Compare different banks and home loan options, and don’t be afraid to do your homework. Need a referral? Your Realtor® will be able to help.
  5. Find the right Realtor®. You need someone you not only trust, but like to work with. You want quality advice when you need it. Ask friends and family who they have worked with, and if they had a good experience. This won’t work if you’re moving to a new city, however. Ask potential agents how many homes they’ve sold in your target area or what certifications they have. You can also look for testimonials for Realtors® in the area where you’re moving.
  6. Understand the offer process. So you’ve found a house. Know how long the house has been on the market, how the asking price compares to different homes in the area, and how comparable other properties are. Negotiation is normally inevitable, so make sure to leave a little leeway. Make sure your offer also includes other factors like financing and property inspections, and be aware of any deal breakers (e.g., cracked foundation, a roof that needs to be replaced, etc.) before you make an offer.
  7. Get a home inspection. This will tell you if there are any problems with the home that you weren’t aware of when you made the offer. Know what’s inside the walls, underneath the floors, if the roof leaks or there is flood damage. You’ll be happy you did. Check with local associations to find a reputable inspector or ask your Realtor® for a recommendation.
  8. Know what you’re signing before you sign. Ask for draft copies of anything you are supposed to sign before the closing date. This will help you figure out what you’re signing. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask someone in your network of contacts to explain.

Still have questions? Ask an experienced local Realtor® what you need to know before buying your first home.