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.

 

5 Tips to Help You Survive the Holiday Shopping Season

4 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Shopping SeasonShopping for the holidays can turn the most wonderful time of the year into the most stressful time, but a little planning and creativity can turn the season’s most dreaded task into a bearable (even a pleasant) one…and these tips will help you save money! BONUS.

(1) Do Your Homework

Before the start of the holiday season, compile a list of the people in your life you need to buy gifts for. When your loved ones start dropping hints about electronics they would love to own or start admiring a sweater in the store window, you can make note and start your shopping early. Also, if you buy gifts for clients or business associates, plan those well in advance, so you are ready and are not “panic shopping” which can lead to overspending.

(2) Avoid Overspending

Decide how much money you want to spend this holiday season, and divide that amount among the people on your list. Be sure to leave some of your budget for those holiday extras that take so many people by surprise, like holiday dinners and clothes for work parties. Once you have your budget set, stick to it.

Check the app store for apps that will comparison shop for you, and sign up for your local retailers’ e-newsletters—insiders will often get access to sales and coupons not offered to the public. And when you’re shopping—whether online or in person—keep your focus. Buy only what’s on your list, and avoid the holiday displays and Instagram feeds meant to tempt you into breaking your budget.

(3) Personalize Gift Cards

Gift cards are a popular present, because they are easy  and suit all ages, budgets and tastes. They can, however, seem impersonal, especially when you tuck one into an envelope and hand it over at the holiday party. To personalize a gift card, include a small extra present with it. Tuck a gift certificate for a movie pass for two into a tin of gourmet popcorn, or wrap a gift card for a clothing store in a scarf.

(4) Skip the Presents; Give Experiences Instead

Do your children really need another gaming console? When the kids can’t figure out what they want, skip the stores and give them an experience instead. A day’s adventure can cost less than the newest electronic gadget, and it will still be remembered even when the gaming console is collecting dust in the basement.

For a sports enthusiast, try a day’s pass on a ski slope. A daredevil would love a trip to a treetop obstacle course. And if you have a teenager into culture, take them into the city for a tour of a museum and dinner at a high-end restaurant. Wrap up a lift ticket, a flyer for the adventure park, or a museum brochure to hint at what’s to come.

(5) Bonus Shopping Tips:

  • Don’t wait til the last minute. This can cause you to “panic shop” which is expensive and often leads to your buying any gifts, not necessarily the ones you want to buy.
  • Go during off-peak hours – maybe during your lunch hour, later in the evening, or first thing in the morning, before the mad dash of shoppers hits your favorite stores.
  • Subscriptions are an easy gift to buy (and give) online, allowing you to give a gift that truly keeps on giving.
  • Online shopping has become so much easier. While this is helpful in many cases, it can also lead to overspend. We recommend filling your shopping cart of items you want to buy, checking it against your list to be sure you aren’t buying too much, and then “sit” on the shopping cart for a day. Go back and if you still want to buy those gifts, go ahead! If not, delete unwanted items from your cart before checking out.
  • Make sure you get gift receipts and know what store return policies are before you inadvertently buy a gift that can’t be returned!

Testimonial: Marti and her team know what they’re doing!

We love this five-star review from ‘Dinylynn’ on Zillow. We helped this client sell their home in Black Diamond, Washington.

“If you want to sell your home and have it shine above all other listings, Marti is the agent for you.!! She and her team knows exactly what they are doing and they go the extra mile to do so. Marti said to us, trust me, I know what I am doing and she did. I was a little leery as she told me ..if  you will do what I recommend I promise you won’t regret it. So I followed her agenda and with every step she was there. Marti did so many extra things that made our home so open and pleasing for the buyer to see. She sent out flyers, her signs were bright and informational. and she was available 24/7. There wasn’t a negative moment in the whole process..from listing to closing . I would recommend Marti indefinitely. She is amazing.”

~ Dinylnn, November 1, 2017

Read this review and others like it on Zillow.com:  https://www.zillow.com/profile/martirealtor/