Category Archives: Misc.

SEVEN SURE-FIRE STRATEGIES TO FIND A SUPER-STAR AGENT

SEVEN SURE-FIRE STRATEGIES TO FIND A SUPER-STAR AGENT

(Adapted from the Seattle Times “Your Money” Section: “How to determine agent who’s best for you”)

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Buying or selling a home is big deal! A complex process, it’s fraught with possibilities – both good and bad.

It’s in your best interest to work with the best agent you can find. But how do you actually do that?

I’m glad you asked!  Here are seven sure-fire strategies to find the right agent for you.

#1      Talk with the agent’s recent clients.

This is easy if you happen to know them personally. If you don’t, check the agent’s Facebook business page and/or any customer reviews on Zillow.

#2      Check for license and disciplinary action.

Ideally, the agent should have no actions. Occasionally rules are broken because an agent isn’t aware of them (we operate under a very LARGE set of rules). If you find a potential problem situation, ask the agent to explain.

I’ve been licensed as a real estate since 2004, and as a managing broker since 2016, and have had no disciplinary actions.

#3      Ask about professional awards.

Ideally, your agent would receive recognition from their company (if they provide that), their clients, and their peers.

I’ve been blessed to have been recognized for my excellence in the industry as follows:

·       Top residential resale broker, 6th largest city in Washington: Kent (2014-year to date) 

·       Top producer, residential sales, Kent-Covington John L. Scott Office (2012-year to date)

·       Seattle Magazine’s “Five Star Best in Client Satisfaction”, multiple years

·       Received John L. Scott’s prestigious “Chairman’s Circle Award”, (3 years running)

·       Voted “Best Realtor” by the readers of the Covington/Maple Valley/Black Diamond Reporter (2 years)

·       Voted “Best Realtor” by the readers of the Kent Report, for the 10th year in 2018

#4      Select an agent with the right credentials

Many agents get licensed, and then simply complete the bare minimum of continuing education.

A great agent invests in their business by learning advanced skills that benefit their clients and belongs to strong professional associations.

·       I am a Managing Broker (a step above a “real estate agent”), meaning I have a higher level of skills and experience as dictated by WA State Department of Licensing.

·       I am a member of the National Association of Realtors. Not all real estate agents are Realtors, who are held to a higher standard of work and professionalism.

·       And I have earned my Certified Residential Specialist designation – an honor held by only 3% of all real estate agents nationwide.

#5      Find out how experienced an agent is

I get it. Everyone has to start sometime in the business. But you don’t want new agents practicing on your purchase or sale … do you?  Experience matters. Find an agent with a minimum of five years of experience and experience in the local market you live in (or want to move to).

I have been a licensed real estate agent for 14 years as of October 2018, and I’ve focused almost exclusively on Kent and our surrounding communities. Add to that an additional 19 years of experience in affiliated industries (mortgage, property management, remodeling, and inspection) and you can see that I bring a wealth of knowledge that pays off big time for my clients.

#6      Look at the agent’s current listings and their track record of selling

How is the agent marketing their listings? Do they use high-resolution, professional photography? Video? What is their average days-on-market time? Are they skilled at pricing and presentation, or do they simply follow a “3-P” strategy – put a sign in the ground, put it in the MLS, and pray?

I’m highly skilled at effectively marketing homes for my sellers, and my average days-on-market time is 17 days, including quick-selling median priced homes and longer-selling high-end listings. My sold price versus the listing price is 101.6%, meaning homes I list are selling on average, at or above the list price.

#7      Gauge the agent’s knowledge of the area

Too many agents are willing to drive here, there, and everywhere in a desperate hunt for business.  Wouldn’t you rather work with a market expert?

I live and work on the east hill of Kent. That means that I am typically no more than a 20-minute drive to any of my listings.

I transplanted from Seattle where I was raised, and I love this area! My husband & built a house and raised our own four children here. Now I have two grandchildren living in this area. We work, play, and live this in Kent & the surrounding community. It’s ingrained in my DNA!

Of course, there are other measures of an agent’s performance. But these questions should give you an idea for where to start your discussion with a potential agent. Please let me know if there are other questions you need an answer to. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marti Reeder

 

 

Spring Household Cleaning Hacks

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Let’s be honest … none of us really enjoy spending our precious free time cleaning our homes (at least I’ve never met anyone who does!).

So I’m always looking for hacks that allow me to spend more time doing the things I love – enjoying my family, helping clients, supporting my community – and less time in the drudgery of cleaning.

DEMOLISH DUST

There are two spots in the house that really tough to clean when it comes to dust – ceiling fans, and window blinds. I’ve got great hacks for both!

Ceiling fans: Fill a spray bottle with water and add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar. Spray the inside of the pillowcase with this solution. Carefully (so you don’t disturb the dust!) slip the pillowcase onto the blades one at a time, covering the entire blade. Pull the pillowcase back toward you, gently squeezing the blade. The pillowcase will catch all the dust!

Blinds: While some people like to vacuum their blinds, I actually find it easier to use a sock! And the good news is you can use the same solution for this that I suggested for the ceiling fans. You might find it easier to have the solution in a bowl for this, so you can dip the sock in the bowl. Simply spraying the sock with the solution isn’t usually as effective.

SHINE THAT STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel appliances remain the most popular choice among homeowners, but boy can they be challenging to keep looking “stainless”!  Here are three easy ways to clean your stainless steel appliance – just pick the one you find easiest and most effective!

  1. Rubbing alcohol. Really! Take a microfiber cloth, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol and, well, rub! To really do it right, follow up with a couple of drops of olive oil on a cloth. Rub in, then buff to shine! Don’t have a microber cloth? Don’t sweat it! Any soft cloth will do.
  2. WD-40. Yes, it really does work. Spray WD-40 on the appliance, and use a soft cloth to buff.
  3. Fancy, expensive stainless steel polish. It really doesn’t work any better than the two suggestions above, and it costs far more, but it’s certainly an option.

EMPLOY THE BRUSH-OFF

Here are two tips for getting furniture smelling fresh and feeling clean.

  1. Baking soda slipcovers. I call them this because you’re basically going to coat the problem areas of your upholstered furniture liberally with baking soda. First, brush your sofa off (it probably wouldn’t hurt to vacuum it, but if you don’t have the time or energy a quick brush-off will do). Next, sprinkle the problem areas liberally with baking soda. Let sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum. Not only will the baking soda remove stains, it will freshen the air. Pro tip: these is much easier to manage if your family and pets are not nearby, as they inevitably want to sit on the furniture you’re trying to clean.
  2. “Paint”, don’t push! Frustrated by those heavy pieces of furniture? Rather than manhandle a nine-foot sofa, or heavy wing chair, simply use a stiff paintbrush around and under each piece. Pretend you’re painting the edges of the furniture, drawing out accumulated dust, dirt, and pet hair. Then follow with a quick vacuuming or a dust pan and broom.

CLEAN UP THOSE COMPUTERS

There are quite a few substances you should never use to clean your computer. Before using any cleaning solution, check to see if they contain the following (and if they do, DO NOT use them on your computer:

  • Acetone
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Toluene
  • Ethyl acid
  • Ammonia
  • Methyl chloride

To clean your keyboard, use a few drops of white vinegar on a microfiber cloth, and gently, but thoroughly, scrub. A cotton swab soaked in vinegar can be effective on problem areas.

If your screen needs cleaning, take a microfiber cloth, and wipe gently. A circular motion yields the best results. If necessary, a light mixture of water and vinegar can be sprayed on a cloth.

You’ll also want to avoid using paper products to clean your computer, and never, ever spray something directly on your screen!

PRACTICE FIRE SAFETY – CLEAN YOUR DRYER VENT

The removable lint filter in your dryer does not catch all the lint … and every year homes burn to the ground because of fires that start in dryer vents (there are over 2,900 fires that start in vents each year).

If you don’t want to tackle this project yourself, simply Google local companies that offer this service.

If you’re more of a DIY-er, or you’re trying to save a few bucks, you can clean your own dryer vent; however, there are special brushes and tools you’ll need.  There are a fair number of steps involved. If you want detailed step-by-step instructions (including photographs), you can find them here.

I hope you enjoyed those tips and found something new you can use.

Keeping your house clean and well-maintained promotes a healthy life. And keeping your home clean and well-maintained adds to its value, which is something I’m always keeping top-of-mind for my clients.

Have other questions about the value of your home? Please reach out to Team Marti – we’re here to help!

 

 

If Two Heads are Better than One … Just Imagine What FOUR Heads Could Do for You!

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Historically, real estate agents worked in one of two ways – as individuals, or as a two-person team. Typically these teams were married partners, although every once in a while you would run across a parent-child team, or even a team with siblings. And even less often, you would see non-related colleagues teaming up, often women who had other responsibilities in life (managing their households, running kids to soccer practice, volunteering at school) that didn’t allow them to participate full-time in the business.

And then, in the early 2000’s, we began to see the emergence of teams as a business model. Gary Keller, of the real estate firm Keller Williams, was a champion of this model, which has spread to many other companies in various forms.

If you think about it, teams really make a lot of sense. Not just for the team members, but primarily for consumers.

There are nine reasons that I feel a team is the only way to go when you are buying and selling real estate. Here they are:

  1. Increased efficiency. Let’s say you have to build a car. Would you rather have to know how to build an entire car by yourself, or would you prefer to be an expert at attaching the wheels, knowing that the person next to you is an expert at installing a drive shaft, and that another person would add the spark plugs? When individual team members can devote time to working in their area of specialty, they have the opportunity for deep learning and development of skills.
  2. More ideas = better results. Four heads really are better than two!
  3. Drawing upon natural skills and abilities. Each of our team members has things they’re naturally good at. No more trying to do our best at something that doesn’t come easily and delivering less-than-optimal results! Instead, we turn to the team member best equipped to help.
  4. Improved access; speedier turn times. In a traditional sole proprietor model, clients often have to wait for help and/or answers if their agent was on an appointment with another client. That rarely happens in a team model.
  5. Can be in 2, 3, or 4 places at a time. One of the huge benefits of a team is having the ability to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. For example, one team member can be showing homes, one can be back at the office preparing a purchase offer, and yet another could be helping a seller prepare their home to sell.
  6. Each person can showcase and shine in their area of specialty. Everyone has unique skills and things at which they excel. A strong team allows everyone to feel great about the value they bring and increases their chance to be a superstar in their area of expertise.
  7. Having a team promotes – and actually forces – you to look at things from a different perspective. That often leads to improvements in how you perform your work … and that means a better end-result for clients.
  8. Well-defined structures and processes eliminate confusion. When you manage a team, it’s absolutely critical that there’s a clear process and workflow. Clients benefit from the structure and a “no surprises” experience.
  9. Coverage when “life happens”. We’ve all had those days – you wake up sick (or worse yet, your kids are sick), the car won’t start, or your phone gives up the ghost. Without a team behind you, any one of those things could grind your day to halt and force you to cancel your client appointments and/or work time. But with a team behind you, someone can step in to cover.
  10. It’s simply more fun! Life really is more fun when you’re surrounded by a team of great people. It’s one of my favorite things about teamwork.

After many years of working with my amazing team, I can assure you that it is the most rewarding way for me to work. And based on feedback from my clients, they love the fact that there are four skilled and caring professionals helping them achieve their real estate dreams.

Want to know more about the Team Marti experience? Reach out to us at: teammarti@johnlscott.com | 253-246-8938

 

Vote for me as ‘Best of Kent’ for a chance to WIN!

I am so honored to have been named “Best Realtor” in Kent NINE times. I’d love to have your vote again this year! Just fill out the Kent Reporter’s 2018 “Best of Kent” ballot online, or a paper copy in the weekly Kent Reporter, and submit before May 3rd. 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. I’ll be voting for my favorites too!

As my thank you for taking the time to complete your ballot, if you share my Facebook post and say “I voted for Marti Reeder,” I will enter your name into a drawing for dinner for two at Paolo’s Italian Restaurant…. the most delicious & authentic Italian meal you’ll ever have – compliments of Team Marti!

Thanks, as always, for your support!

~ Marti

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If you’re thinking about selling your home and are trying to figure out how to select an agent, here are three things to keep in mind.

 

#1: LOTS OF FISH IN THE POND

There are over 25,000 real estate agents currently licensed in this area.

Yes – 25,000+ — and many of them are new to the business.

And I can promise you there’s nowhere near that many homes for sale. What does that mean to you as a seller?

For starters, it means there are a very large number of real estate agents who aren’t doing much business (the old 80-20 rule is at play in my industry, just as it is in many others).

And if an agent isn’t doing much business, you probably don’t want them involved in YOUR business. Right?

This applies whether the agent is new to the business, or a seasoned agent who simply doesn’t transact much business.

SOLUTION: Hire an agent who is both experienced and active in the market.

#2: AGENTS “BUYING” YOUR LISTING

Unfortunately, we see this happen all too often. During a listing appointment an agent who is desperate for the business will, in effect, “buy” the listing from the seller by promising one of two things (and sometimes even both of them!):

  • They overinflate the estimated value of the home
  • They offer to perform a “commissionectomy” on themselves, cutting their commission to virtually nothing

With these kinds of promises sellers can’t help but see dollars signs dancing in front of their eyes. But it’s not quite as rosy as it sounds.

Here are the challenges you should be aware of with both these issues.

A great agent is skilled at pricing homes. They don’t need to try to trick a seller into listing with them based on an unrealistic price. Great agents have proven marketing strategies, collateral that is effective across multiple media, an ability to price accurately, and a stellar reputation.

Great agents also don’t need to win by discounting their fee. They win a seller’s business through a combination of the factors mentioned above. When you’ve had a listing appointment with a great agent, you’re probably not focused on their fee … you’re focused on their results, see that they are worth every penny of their compensation, and can’t wait to sign a listing agreement because you know that their skills and experience (not overpricing or commission-cutting) is what will make them the most money.

SOLUTION: If you’re in a listing appointment with an agent who is overpricing your home (and underpricing their service) it’s time to interview another agent.

 

#3: DO YOU WANT A G.P. TO PERFORM YOUR HEART SURGERY?

In every line of work, there are generalists … and there are specialists. I don’t know about you, but when I have work done – whether it’s on my car, my house, my finances, or my health – I like to work with experts and specialists.

There are many areas of expertise that can apply to real estate, but there’s area in particular that is worth considering – geographical expertise and specialization.

If you live in Kent, does it make sense to hire an agent who works primarily in Queen Anne? (Even though that’s where I was raised!) If you live in Covington, will a Lynnwood agent be a good choice? Got a house in Maple Valley? Why are you interviewing a Tacoma agent?

I think you see where I’m going with this.

Real estate is hyper-local. When you hire an out-of-area agent you risk leaving money on the table because that agent doesn’t understand the nuances of your community and your hyper-local real estate market.

SOLUTION: Hire a listing agent with experience showing and listing homes in your neighborhood.

 

UP NEXT WEEK: The four burning questions EVERY seller has (and a fifth that they should have too!)

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.