When we think of the holidays, we often think of shopping, cooking, decorating and spending time with friends and family. We don’t want to think about moving, but sometimes selling your home during the holidays is the right time for you to sell. If that’s the case, make it easy on yourself by following these seven tips.
- Focus on curb appeal. There are fewer homes on the market this time of year, making a tight market even tighter. That’s no excuse to skimp on the curb appeal though. In fact, tasteful holiday decorating can make the exterior of your home very inviting. Don’t go overboard though – a natural wreath, simple holiday lighting and a well-groomed lawn will get the attention of potential buyers.
- Choose an experienced Realtor who knows your market. Ask for referrals from friends, and check out real estate websites like Zillow for reviews and testimonials.
- High quality photos and staging will showcase your home’s best features. A good Realtor will have a top notch photographer on speed dial, and will know what staging is appropriate for the time of year.
- A cozy atmosphere will make potential buyers feel welcome. This includes everything from curb appeal to the staging of your home’s interior. Choose a warm color palette, depersonalize your home, clear the clutter and choose soft lighting. Inviting smells like a fresh baked pie, scented candles or holiday greenery can also help create an inviting experience for potential buyers.
- Clear your calendar. The holidays are a busy time for all of us, but make sure your home is available and accessible as often as possible to accommodate the schedules of prospects who want to tour your home on their own schedules.
- Keep it clean and clutter-free. It can be hard to keep your home clean and clutter-free while you are preparing to move and to host holiday gatherings, but this is essential to help buyers imagine themselves in your home. A dirty or messy home will distract from your home’s best features, and may even send your buyers scrambling to find a well-maintained home instead.
- Price your home to sell. With the right Realtor, you’ll be able to choose the right price point to your home attractive to possible buyers. She’ll know what comparable homes have sold for, what your home is worth and what you are hoping to get out of it.
For more tips for selling your home during the holidays, call Team Marti at 206-391-0388 or 253-859-8500. We’d love to help!
Happy Holidays and Happy Selling!
Good credit is important in qualifying for a mortgage, but potential homebuyers with less-than-perfect credit can still get a mortgage. No matter what your score, these seven financial habits will make buying a home much easier:
- Paying your bills on time or early. This means paying all of your bills on time, not just the ones on your credit report. In addition to credit cards and loan payments, this means utility bills, rent and other regular payments that show you are a responsible adult. Ideally, pay your bills early. This is much easier now that we can access our credit card and loan accounts online.
- Pay more than the minimum balance due. If your minimum payment on your Target card is $50 a month, pay $75 or $100. This will reduce your total debt faster as well as the amount of total interest you are paying.
- Use less than 30 percent of your available credit. While it is helpful to have credit cards for emergencies, you want to keep your total balances under 30 percent of your total credit limit. For example, let’s say you have a Visa card with a $1,000 credit card limit. Don’t charge more than $300 on that card.
- Review your credit report for errors. This is a good habit to get into no matter how good your credit is. If you check your credit report annually, you’ll be able to identify mistakes and get them corrected before it is time to apply for a mortgage loan. See a mistake? Contact the original creditor right away and contact the credit bureau to dispute the information. It could take several months to clear a mistake, so staying on top of your credit report is helpful.
- Start building a credit history early. If you are in your early 20s, you ideally have established some credit already, whether it is an introductory credit card or a student loan. Start small by applying for a low limit credit card or getting a car loan with a parent as a co-signer.
- Keep paid off accounts open. The length of your credit history is important to a mortgage lender. Even if you don’t use that Visa card you got in 2010, and the balance is zero, keep the account open. It shows a seven-year credit history, and it will help lower your total debt-to-credt ratio (see #3 above).
- Set a budget and stick to it. With credit cards so readily accessible, it is easy to treat yourself with a nice dinner, a manicure/pedicure or furnishings for your man cave. But is this the best use of your money? Probably not – unless you budget for it. Set a monthly budget and only indulge in those little luxuries when you have the money to do so without charging it to a credit card.
These good money habits will help you position yourself to qualify for a mortgage loan when you are ready to buy your first – or next – home!
Thanks to this client for this great five-star review on Zillow! I helped this client sell their Maple Valley home.
“Marti was wonderful! She made sure our house had great photographs, was staged perfectly, and sold it in a weekend! She was knowledgeable, friendly, and knew the area and the business! I recommended Marti to my family and she sold my brother’s house in days as well! She’s wonderful!
~ User 56697738
Read this review and others like it on Zillow.com: https://www.zillow.com/profile/martirealtor/
We’ve said it a thousand times, but it still remains true – curb appeal is everything. It’s what draws a potential homebuyer to want to see the inside of your home. Here are 5 simple, affordable upgrades you can make to your home now to improve its curb appeal this fall:
- Landscaping: Add fresh mulch to the base of your treas and other plans, and add seasonal plants like mums to your flower beds for a colorful fall look. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, but you still want seasonal decor for your home, add a fall-themed wreath or to your front door or potted mums to your porch.
- Upgrade outdoor accessories: Replace those faded house numbers, paint your mailbox or get a new front door. These small, but affordable changes can give your house a fresh, well-maintained look that will entice homebuyers to want to see more.
- Keep your lawn groomed. Yes, it is fall and it can be hard to keep up with the falling leaves, but it is important to keep your lawn groomed, especially if you are trying to sell your home. Keep your lawn freshly mowed, the weeds under control, trees and shrubs trimmed and the leaves raked.
- Pressure wash the exterior of your home, your porch and patio or deck. Particularly in the Pacific Northwest where moss can accumulate, it is important to pressure wash your home and outdoor living areas. This also makes your home look cared for.
- Add or upgrade your outdoor lighting. As our days get shorter, outdoor lighting can create an easy-on-the-eyes aesthetic while also providing an important function – a well lit path to your door. Consider decorative lights along sidewalks, flood lights near entrances and new porch lights.
You and your family are thinking of buying a new home – or your next one – in 2018. There are things you can do now to prepare yourself. Here are seven steps to get you ready for this exciting move!
- Check your credit score. Target a credit score of 740 or higher to get the best mortgage rate. See mistakes on your credit report? Because this process can sometimes take months, you’ll want to start doing that now.
- Follow the real estate market and interest rates. What is the market doing in your area? Is inventory low? What about interest rates – are they inching up? You’ll want to lock in the lowest interest rate you can to lower your monthly mortgage payments and long-term financial outlay.
- Save, save, save. We can’t stress this enough. Make sure you have enough to cover a down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, etc. Read our article on closing costs to get a better idea of what those might run.
- Don’t use your credit cards or rack up more debt. Obviously, you don’t want to open any new credit cards before you apply for a mortgage, but it is just as important not to use the existing credit you already have. Banks will look at your debt to income ratio, so you want that debt figure to be as low as possible.
- Don’t overspend during the holidays. It can be tempting to spoil your loved ones during the holidays, but this could make it harder to get a mortgage – particularly if you use your credit cards for holiday shopping. Instead, get creative. Offer services (e.g., dog walking, babysitting, home organizing, handyman skills) or experiences (gourmet meals, outings, etc.) instead of giving gifts.
- Meet with two to three potential Realtors. We say “Realtor” instead of “real estate agent” because “Realtors” have different and a code of ethics to abide by. Real estate agents are held to a lesser standard. Talk to friends, family and co-workers to get recommendations, and do your research before scheduling no obligation appointments to interview. In addition, check their online reviews on Facebook, Zillow, LinkedIn and other sites to see what they’re clients are saying about them.
- Shop for a lender. Just like you would shop for a Realtor, explore your mortgage lending options. Check with your bank, local credit unions and mortgage brokers to see where you can find the best deal and the best long-term relationship.
- Gather your documents. When you meet with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to provide tax returns and W-2s for the last two years, pay stubs for the last few months, proof of your current living expenses, a list of debts and other expenses, etc.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Once you’ve selected a mortgage lender and have pulled together all of your documentation, it’s time to get pre-approved! This will help you determine what your interest rate will be and how much home you can afford. Read more about getting pre-approved here.
Not sure what’s next? Have questions? Call Team Marti at 253-859-8500. We’d be happy to help you prepare to buy your next home in the New Year!
As technology evolves, more and more homeowners are using smart home technology to control systems and appliances in their homes – thermostats, refrigerators, dishwashers, lighting, sound systems and more. These systems and appliances can be controlled by your smartphone, but many can now be controlled by voice-controlled devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home.
If you’re considering smart home devices, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Manage your smart home devices on a secure home WiFi network.
- Start small to see if smart home technology fits your lifestyle. For example, try LED light bulbs that you can dim or turn on and off with your smartphone, or buy a smart plug to turn lamps on with a timer.
- Smart lights, which are all LEDs, use a lot less electricity than other light bulbs.
- Voice controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home let you use voice commands to order a pizza, play music, shop online, or tell you the news or weather.
- Security cameras like those by Nest and video doorbells like those by Ring are a great way to monitor your home from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can mount them outside your front door to see who is coming and going. Some also offer monitoring services and cloud-based video storage.
- Smart locks are also growing in popularity. You can lock and unlock your front door using your smartphone, and you can grant temporary access to guests like a pet sitter or babysitter.
- Smart home hubs can control multiple smart home devices, so they communicate with each other. Companies like Samsung create hubs, but Amazon Echo can also act as a hub.
- Want to save on your energy bill? A smart thermostat can help. You can automatically set the temperature of your home with your phone, and adjust it as needed. You can even turn on the heat remotely if there’s a sudden weather change, so you don’t have to go home to a cold house.
- You can now get a smoke detector to let you know if there is smoke or fire in your home, no matter where you are.
- If you enjoy technology, universal remotes are a cool way to control your TV, stereo, DVD player, cable box and more, all from one device.
There are so many smart home products on the market, and we don’t want to recommend any specific products here, but there are review sites like The Wirecutter and Tom’s Guide that will give you their recommendations. Also, before you buy anything, check buyer reviews on Amazon to see if customers are pleased with their purchases. Good luck!
Just like the fall leaves, the real estate market is changing. Here are 4 reasons to consider selling your home this fall.
Buyer demand still outpaces the supply of homes for sale, so buyers are competing for the few homes that are on the market now. If you list now, before the cold weather sets in, you are likely to get multiple offers on your home, so you can choose the right buyer for your home.
Not sure if this is the right time, based on your specific circumstances? We can help. Call Team Marti today for a 206-391-0388 for a no-obligation assessment.
Ashleigh Clark gave Team Marti a five-star review on Zillow, saying she was highly likely to recommend Marti. Ashleigh ranked us five stars in four out of four categories: local knowledge, process expertise, responsiveness and negotiation skills:
‘I highly reocmmend Marti! Great agent! Very quick to respond to all my questions, very knowledgeable and trusting. I will use her for everyone one of my purchases. Very professional and efficient.’
~ Ashleigh Clark, August 15, 2017, Zillow
Read this review and others like it on Zillow.com: https://www.zillow.com/profile/martirealtor/
Imagine never having to pay rent again. Instead of paying a landlord every month, your monthly housing budget could go toward owning your dream home. Unless you’ve got rich relatives or a trust fund though, coming up with a down payment of 3 percent to 20 percent can seem a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. Here are 8 ways you can start saving for a down payment today!
- Reduce your current housing expenses. Your monthly rent is your most costly expense each month. Cut that bill by getting a roommate, moving to a smaller or less expensive place, or moving in with a relative for the short-term, and save the difference in a dedicated account for your down payment.
- Get a part-time job or a freelance gig. Increase your income by getting a part-time job or doing freelance work on the side. You could get a traditional part-time job in fast food or retail, but think beyond that to earn some extra cash. Are you good with technology, pets, words or art? Become a consultant, dog walker, blog writer or Etsy artist.
- Cut daily living expenses. Do you get a $7 latte each morning? Are you paying for a gym membership you rarely use? Do you spend a lot on take-out? Those costs add up. If you cut non-essential expenses, you could yield a few hundred bucks each month.
- Shop for your new insurance. Car insurance can be pricey, particularly if you are young. If you work with an insurance agent, ask if there are discounts available, or if they can get you a better price. For example, you can usually get a discount by getting your car insurance and renter’s insurance from the same carrier. You can also shop online for different types of insurance at an online site like Esurance.com. Caution: Be sure you are comparing coverages, not just price.
- Set up automatic savings deductions. To help you discipline yourself, set up an automatic deduction into your savings account with each paycheck. This is an easy way to save your money before you get a chance to spend it.
- Get rid of unwanted stuff. Whether you’ve got college textbooks you don’t need or slightly outdated electronics you’ve already replaced, there is a market for your unwanted stuff. There are lots of online marketplaces – Facebook, OfferUp, Craigslist, etc. – where you can sell your items online. Just be careful and always transact business in a safe, public place.
- Save your tax refund and bonus checks. If you get a refund at tax time, bonus checks at work or a birthday check from your parents, put that money in the bank!
- Pay down debt. High interest rates on credit cards or paying interest on multiple student loans can eat into your budget. Pay down your credit cards with the highest interest rates first, and consider consolidating your student loans to reduce the total interest paid.
With good planning, budgeting and discipline, you’ll be ready to start home shopping before you know it.