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.

6 Hidden Costs to Consider When Buying a Home

Six Hidden Costs of Buying a HomeYou’ve saved a down payment, chosen an experienced local Realtor, set your budget, and you know how much you can afford to pay for a home. But your mortgage is not the only cost you need to consider when buying a home. There are many other costs. Here are six expenses you might not think about but should plan for:

  1. Transportation costs: In the greater Seattle area, transportation costs can be quite expensive, especially if you have a long commute, use the toll lanes or take the ferry to and from work each day. Mass transit is also an option, but it isn’t free. Regardless of your method of transportation, you’ll want to budget for transportation expenses, including parking, car insurance, fuel and car maintenance if you’ll be driving yourself to and from work.
  2. Taxes: There are many kinds of taxes (e.g., property taxes, income taxes, personal property taxes, etc.), and they will vary by state and local jurisdiction. Before moving to a brand new area, especially if you are moving out of state, make sure you know what all of the taxes are that you will be responsible for paying.
  3. Utilities: The types of utilities you’ll pay will depend on where you’re located and the types of services you need (e.g., gas, electric, water, sewer, stormwater, etc.) In addition to the monthly expenses, some utilities will require a deposit, especially if you are moving from outside the area.
  4. HOA fees: If the home you are buying or building belongs to an HOA, there will be HOA dues. Find out what these are in advance and under what circumstances the fees can be raised.
  5. Moving: Are you hiring a moving company to help you get from home A to home B? Are you moving yourself? Consider the costs of a moving company or truck rental, packing materials, gas, mileage, etc.
  6. Cleaning: If you are moving from a rental apartment or home, you may have cleaning or repair fees to cover.

 

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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Facebook Testimonial: Highly recommended forever!

Five-Star Zillow TestimonialThanks to Jennie Trapanese for telling it like it really ease – buying a home isn’t easy – but it can be less stressful with the right Realtor.

“No one said buying a house was easy but, hot damn, the speed bumps along the way are enough to knock out a filling! Marti handles all the stress so well and never gives up on a client. No matter the circumstances, she will be at your side in a moment’s notice. I don’t know how she does it, but she does it well. Highly recommended forever!”

~ Jennie Trapanese, November 25, 2017

Read Jennie’s five-star review on Facebook here.

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.

 

Facebook Testimonial: Treated like a priority client!

Testimonial: Exceeded our expectations!Thanks so much to Erik Swanson for this five-star testimonial on Facebook! We love helping clients like this get into their first home. We’re so glad you love your new home, Erik!

“Man, we only could get an FHA loan and, in this market, it wasn’t pretty for what we were looking for. Marti was a true fighter and got us an awesome house that we truly feel like it was the best home that we could have possibly gotten, without relying on a massive bank heist or waiting for the prince of Nigeria’s check to clear (still waiting!)

Marti was quick to respond to concerns and never gave up on us! You will be treated like a priority client If you are a first time home buyer who just smashed open the piggy bank to get your first home or got the budget for a Lake Meridian house. I’m quick to recommend Marti any time I hear someone murmur buying or selling a house!

~ Erik Swanson, November 25, 2017

Read Erik’s review and others on Facebook here.

Team Marti’s Winter Home Maintenance Checklist 2017

Team Marti's Winter Home Maintenance ChecklistLike it or not, winter is just 10 days away. If you haven’t already prepped your home for winter and freezing temps, there’s still time. Use our handy checklist to make sure you and your home are ready for winter weather:

  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so the blades rotate clockwise. Keep on a low speed to push air down from the ceiling into your room.
  • Have your furnace surfaced at the beginning of the season and make sure you change the filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Lower your thermostat or use a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs.
  • Remove window screens and install storm windows and doors, if you have them.
  • Shut off exterior water sources and cover the faucets to prevent freezing.
  • Insulate exposed pipes to prevent burst pipes.
  • Insulate your hot water heater.
  • Block drafts from doors and windows and seal cracks with door sweeps, door gaskets, calking and weather stripping.
  • Have your chimney cleaned annually to decrease your risk of fire and buildup and residue.
  • Remove any portable air conditioners and cover condensing units.
  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and free of debris. This will be particularly helpful when the heavy rains come.