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/

7 Tips for Successfully Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Marti Reeder's Real Estate Blog: 7 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays
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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

7 Financial Habits That Will Make Buying A Home Easier

Buying a Home: Homebuyer FAQs re Mortgage Costs and Closing CostsGood 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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!

Testimonial: Marti was wonderful!

Testimonial: Exceeded our expectations!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/

5 Projects to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal This Fall

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:

  1. 5 Projects to Improve Home's Curb Appeal This FallLandscaping: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.