Category Archives: Misc.

Testimonial: Can’t go wrong with Marti!

Five star reviewZillow Testimonial from Langfordrandy on 1/20/18
Five Star Review
Sold a single-family home in 2017 in Black Diamond, WA

“Very detailed and always willing to help and answer questions when asked. Marti provides a professional photographer and stager when selling a house. She also paid for a Home Warranty that will cover repairs for the new buyer which is a plus. Our house sold in less than a week after begin listed  on the market. Can’t go wrong with Marti.”

Read this  five-star review and others like it on Zillow.

2018 Housing Forecast!

“Marti, what do you think will happen with real estate prices this year? Is it the right time to buy (or sell)? What should I do?”

Hands down, those are the questions I get most often from clients who want to make the next move their best move.

And it’s not hard to understand why.

If you’re selling, you’re hoping for another year of record price appreciation … and another year of record low inventory. When those two things occur, it’s a perfect storm for sellers, who will net the highest possible dollar when they sell.

Buyers, on the other hand, want to see the exact opposite. They want to time their purchase when the market is in their favor, so as to increase opportunities and keep their costs as low as possible.

As much as I wish I controlled those things, I don’t. But I can share with you not just my opinion, but that of our company’s chairman, J. Lennox Scott.

Here’s what we think you can expect in 2018:

  • We’re going to continue to be in a “seller’s market”. Expect to continue to see low number of homes for sale (at least through March), which means multiple offers may continue to be the norm for desirable homes.
  • Prices in areas close to job centers will likely rise by 8% over 2017 levels. This would certainly apply to my market area of Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Auburn and Renton.
  • By late spring, more homes should come on the market. If you’re thinking of selling, listing earlier in the year might mean a higher sales price for you. And if you’re a buyer, you can be hopeful that more opportunities will exist for you at that time.
  • Interest rates will rise, but not dramatically. Right now, rates are in the low 4% range. Those are anticipated to be in the mid 4% range by the end of the year. Although low in terms of a historical perspective, even slight increases in rates can have an impact on a buyer’s ability to qualify for the home of their dreams.
  • The luxury market, at least for homes priced under $5 million, is expected to continue to be strong. However, the luxury market could be impacted negatively by the recently signed tax reform.
  • Outside of the luxury market, the impact of the tax reform will be minimal. I’m not an accountant or financial planner, so please be sure to contact a professional tax advisor to get information about your specific situation.

How can I help you navigate the 2018 housing market?

As the market will continue to be challenging in high-demand areas, buyers should do the best possible job of preparing themselves to compete in this market. If you’re considering a purchase, let’s talk. I want to help arm you with every possible advantage.

Sellers, you’re still in the driver’s seat (at least for now). However, there are things you can do to maximize your returns – even in a market where you have the upper hand. If selling your home is in the cards for 2018, let me share the strategies my clients use to net top dollar for their homes.

Call/Text/Email – whatever you prefer! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

-Marti

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6 Ways to Save Money While Staying Warm This Winter

6 Ways to Save Money and Stay Warm This WinterIt was so nice to have a white Christmas for the first time in many years. However, along with snow comes cold temps. If your home isn’t properly winterized, that can mean big heating bills. Here are six ways to save money while staying warm this winter:

  1. Close the flue when not using your fireplace. Warm air from your home can escape from your fireplace when it isn’t in use. When not using it, close the flue and consider reducing how often you use the fireplace. If you can’t resist a roaring fire, install glass fireplace doors to keep the warm air inside.
  2. Reduce drafts by installing door sweeps on exterior doors to keep the cold air from seeping in. Also, keep interior doors to unused rooms closed, like the guest room that rarely gets used.
  3. Seal windows with plastic film. Companies like 3M make window film kits to help you seal your windows from the inside. They are inexpensive and easy to install and could help cut your heating cuts this winter.
  4. Window treatments like wood blinds and insulated curtains can make a big difference in keeping the cold air out. Just remember to open them during the day to let the sunlight warm your home naturally.
  5. Install a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat on a lower temperature when you’re away from home or asleep at night, saving those toasty warm temps for when your family is home and active.
  6. Keep heating ducts, vents and registers free from obstacles. To make sure forced air can circulate properly throughout each room, make sure heating ducts, vents and registers are not blocked by furniture. Not only will this keep your home warmer, but it can prevent a possible fire.

8 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score in the New Year

8 Ways to boost your credit score in 2018Whether you are planning to buy a home in 2018, or are considering refinancing your mortgage, you’ll want to make sure your credit is in tip top shape to get the best interest rate possible. Here are 8 ways to boost your credit score in the New Year to help you reach your financial goals:

  1. Pay your installment loans like car loans and student loans on time every month. Even paying them a day late can wreak havoc on your credit. Pay on time, every time. If you have to be late, call your lender before the payment is due to explain and to see if there are any options to pay later that won’t affect your credit.
  2. Do not close old credit cards. You haven’t used that department store credit card in awhile, but you have a $1,000 credit limit. Closing that card will actually reduce the amount of total credit you have available which can count against you. Keep it open. Just don’t use it, particularly if it carries a high interest rate.
  3. If you don’t have credit, establish it. Not having credit is a problem because you haven’t shown a lender, credit card company or other creditor how you’d handle credit. Apply for a small department store card, a secured credit card, a secured loan or a combination of these accounts to begin establishing credit. Start by charging a small amount and paying it off at the end of each month. Credit history will be based on how timely you pay but also how long you’ve had credit, so this strategy will take time but it is worth it.
  4. It’s OK to pay off loans early. Paying your loans on time is critical, but if you are in a position to make payments early, to add extra money to the principal portion of the payment or pay it off early, you will help your credit.
  5. Review your credit score for free annually. Correct any obvious errors and follow up on items that may not be your, the sooner, the better.
  6. Pay off collection accounts as soon as possible. Have an old dentist bill from three years ago you didn’t pay? This can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, even longer if the original creditor “sells” the debt to another credit agency for collection.
  7. Don’t open a bunch of new accounts at once to increase your amount of available credit. This can lower your average account age. Instead, open accounts as you need them and use them responsibly.
  8. Keep your credit balances low on revolving accounts. Having a lot of debt negatively impacts your credit.

 

How to Create an Emergency Plan

Emergency Escape Plan

 

Fortunately, Western Washington has avoided the recent  hurricanes and earthquakes , but we are not immune to natural disasters. In addition to wildfires, we are vulnerable to volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthworks and flooding. No matter where you live, it is important to know what disasters could strike and be prepared. Here are the steps to making a disaster survival plan, compliments of Ready.gov.

Step 1:  Create a plan with your family or household starting with these four questions:

(a) How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
(b) What is my shelter plan?
(c) What is my evacuation route?
(d) What is my plan to communicate with my family or household

Step 2: Consider the specific needs of your household, so you can tailor your plan to meet those needs. Factors to think about include:

  • Ages of members of your family or household
  • Children and older adults
  • Responsibility to help others
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs
  • Disabilities
  • Special equipment or devices needed
  • Languages spoken
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals

Step 3: Create a Family Emergency Plan

Download this form from FEMA to create your Family Emergency Communication Plan

Step 4: Share your plan with your family or household

For more information on creating a plan watch the FEMA video below, or visit Ready.gov for more resources on creating a disaster plan. Visit HouseLogic.com for what to keep in a fully-stocked home emergency preparedness kit.

10 Reasons South King County, Washington is a Great Place to Live

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

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Avoid These 8 Home Security Mistakes to Prevent Summer Burglaries

Avoid these 8 home security mistakes to prevent a summer burglary.According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice cited by Alarms.org, on average, burglary rates are the highest in the summer. Winter has the lowest burglary rate, with February having the lowest amount of burglaries.

Did you know that break-ins are 6% more likely to occur during the day between 6 AM and 6 PM while people are at work? According to the FBI, there were 1.9 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2013, or approximately one every 16 seconds. About a third of these occurred through an unlocked door or window, says Urban Survival.

There is good news though. There are easy ways for you to protect your home and your belongings by avoiding these home security mistakes.

  1. A full mailbox. This is a clue to a would-be burglar that no one is home. Make sure that your mail doesn’t accumulate when you go out of town, whether it is a day trip or a week’s vacation. Ask a neighbor to take in your mail, or have the U.S. Post Office hold your mail for up to 30 days.
  2. Hiding a spare key in an obvious place. Don’t hide a spare key where it is likely to be found, like in a flower pot by the door, under the welcome mat, or one of those fake rocks that we all know are for hiding keys. Better yet, instead of hiding one outside, give a spare key to a trusted neighbor in case you lock yourself out.
  3. Talking about your trips on social media. These days so many of us post photos and check-ins of our vacations and business trips on social media. This is an invitation to a burglar looking for an easy target. Wait until you get back to post the pix, and/or tighten your security settings on social media so only your friends can see your posts.
  4. Disabling your security alarm. Because more residential burglaries occur during the day, you should not disable the alarm when you’re home during the day. Leave it enabled to protect your home and your family from a daytime break-in.
  5. Leaving doors and windows unlocked. We get comfortable in our surroundings and assume that no one will try climbing in a window or letting themselves into your home through an unlocked door. Wrong. Upgrade to heavy-duty door and window locks, use dowel rods or similar devices to keep your windows from being able to easily slide open, or consider getting door and window alarms which go off when the door or window is opened.
  6. Leaving your garage door open and unlocked. Once upon a time, neighbors would leave their garage doors open, so they could easily go in and out of their homes on the weekends while their kids were playing outside or they were working in the yard. This creates an opportunity for a thief to get inside effortlessly. Err on the side of caution. Leave the door down and locked when not in use.
  7. Poor lighting. A poorly lit exterior can provide good cover for a burglar who wants to break into your home at night. Add exterior lighting or perhaps lights with a motion detector sensor.
  8. A ladder in the yard. Yes, taking your ladder in and out of the garage while you are working on an exterior project can be a pain, but leaving the ladder out is an easy way for a burglar to enter your home through the second story.

 

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.

Real Estate Lingo for Homebuyers: Part 1

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 one of a Freddie Mac real estate glossary you can use to educate yourself on the home buying process.

Amortization: Paying off a loan over the period of time and at the interest rate specified in a loan document. The amortization of a loan includes the payment of interest and a part of the amount borrowed in each mortgage payment.

Amortization Schedule: Provided by mortgage lenders, the schedule shows how over the term of your mortgage the principal portion of the mortgage payment increases and the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): How much a loan costs annually. The APR includes the interest rate, points, broker fees and certain other credit charges a borrower is required to pay.

Application Fee: The fee that a mortgage lender charges to apply for a mortgage to cover processing costs.

Appraisal: A professional analysis used to estimate the value of the property. This includes examples of sales of similar properties.

Appreciation: An increase in the market value of a home due to changing market conditions and/or home improvements. [Because we are in a seller’s market, homes are appreciating faster than they would in a normal market. See our May 30, 2017 post for more info.]

Capacity: Your ability to make your mortgage payments on time. This depends on your income and income stability (job history and security), your assets and savings, and the amount of your income each month that is left over after you’ve paid for your housing costs, debts and other obligations.

Closing Costs: The costs to complete the real estate transaction. These costs are in addition to the price of the home and are paid at closing. They include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other costs. Ask your lender for a complete list of closing cost items.

Commitment Letter: A letter from your lender stating the amount of the mortgage, the number of years to repay the mortgage (the term), the interest rate, the loan origination fee, the annual percentage rate and the monthly charges.

Contingency: A plan for something that may occur but is not likely. For example, your offer may be contingent on the home passing a home inspection. It the home does not pass inspection, you’re protected.

Counter-offer: An offer made in response to a previous offer. For example, after the buyer presents their first offer, the seller may make a counter-offer with a slightly higher sale price.

Debt-to-Income Ratio: The percentage of gross monthly income that goes toward paying for your monthly housing expense, alimony, child support, car payments and other installment debts, and payments on revolving or open-ended accounts such as credit cards.

Depreciation: A decline in the value of a house due to changing market conditions or lack of upkeep on a home.

Earnest Money Deposit: The deposit to show that you’re committed to buying the home. The deposit will not be refunded to you after the seller accepts your offer, unless one of the sales contract contingencies is not fulfilled.

Equity: The value in your home above the total amount of the liens against your home. If you owe $100,000 on your house but it is worth $130,000, you have $30,000 of equity.

Home Inspection: A professional inspection of a home to determine the condition of the property. The inspection should include an evaluation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roof, wiring, foundation and pest infestation.

Index: The published index of interest rates used to calculate the interest rate for an ARM. The index is usually an average of the interest rates on a particular type of security such as the LIBOR.

Liabilities: Your debts and other financial obligations.

Loan modification: This is a written agreement between you and your mortgage company that permanently changes one or more of the original terms of your note to make the payments more affordable.

Loan Origination Fees: Fees paid to your mortgage lender for processing the mortgage application. This fee is usually in the form of points. One point equals 1% of the mortgage amount.

Lock-In Rate: A written agreement guaranteeing a specific mortgage interest rate for a certain amount of time.

Click here to read Real Estate Lingo for Homebuyers, Part 2.

[Source: Freddie Mac}

 

Thank You for ‘Best of Kent’ Votes & Contest Winner Named!

I have been fortunate to have been named “Best Real Estate Agent” by readers of the Kent Reporter eight times, and I was nominated again this year. Thank you to all of my friends and clients who took time to vote for me this spring. I hope I will be “Best of Kent” again this year. The winner will be announced this Friday. I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, please know that I appreciate each and every one of you. I am grateful for your support.

And now for the big announcement…drumroll please…our contest winner, chosen at random from all those commented or shared my Facebook post, is Alisa Berkland. Alisa has won dinner for two at Paolo’s Italian Restaurant in Kent and movie tickets to Kent Station’s AMC Theatres, on me! Thanks for your vote, Alisa, and congrats!

~ Marti

Kent Realtor Marti Reeder: Thank you for your 'Best of Kent" votes!