Category Archives: Misc.

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!

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.

 

 

Facebook Testimonial: Above and beyond!

Thanks to Andrea Keikkala for this great review on Facebook!

“Marti sold my home and helped me buy my new home. She and her team are fantastic to work with, making sure that I was kept up to date the entire process. Her professional stager was a joy to work with and her professional photographer was fantastic! With all her support, I was able to enjoy what could have been a very stressful process. Marti and her team go above and beyond to sell and buy homes and I would highly recommend them.”

~ Andrea Keikkala

Vote for me as “Best of Kent” and enter to win!

I am so honored to have been named “Best Real Estate Agent” in Kent eight times. I’d love to have your vote again this year! Just fill out the Kent Reporter’s 2017 “Best of Kent” ballot online, or a paper copy in the weekly Kent Reporter, and submit it before the 4PM, April 14 deadline. You’ll need to vote in at least half the categories for your vote to count, but that will be a fun way to choose your favorite Kent people, places and things.

As my thank you for taking the time to complete your ballot, if you share this post or comment “I voted for you,” I will enter your name into a drawing for dinner at Paolo’s Italian Restaurant and movie tickets from AMC Theatres at Kent Station. A fun night out on the town – compliments of Team Marti! Just click on one of the share buttons below

Thanks, as always, for your support!

~ Marti