Give Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This happens to be one of my favorite holidays – it brings a reminder to us all about the great things we have in this world, the blessings we can count, and an overall feeling of contentment. It seems to awaken a sense of GRATITUDE.”

Our nation is facing many struggles, people are facing a number of life difficulties; loss of jobs, despair, money problems, family problems, even a sense of personal safety and security. But even so, we have a lot to be thankful for….

I hope all of you can take the time to reflect upon the things that you are grateful for….Your country, your health, your loved ones, your freedom—to the subtle-but-still-important things like your friends, your favorite book, beautiful sunsets, chocolate, ice cream, fresh air, etc.

During this time with families and friends, I reflect upon every facet of my life and how I have been blessed with great people and wonderful experiences.
With that, I say, wholeheartedly~ Thank You ~ for playing a part in my life.

Blessings,

Janet Simons
Mountain Valley Real Estate

I wish all of you a warm and love-filled Thanksgiving holiday!

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Do you believe in “Ghosts”?

This is the time of year for haunted houses. They pop up for a few weeks, people flock to them, and then they disappear until next year.

Some people love the controlled scare of haunted houses, while others wouldn’t be caught dead (pun intended) in one.

But what about a real haunted house? How many people really want to flock to them?

Surely there’s some people who would love to check one out. But how many people would actually buy a house that’s haunted?

Which brings up a question we hear in real estate once in a while…

If a house that’s for sale is haunted, do real estate agents need to tell you?

Real estate rules, regulations, and laws vary from area to area, so there’s not just one answer to that.

But in our area…

…you know what, instead of just giving you the answer, why don’t you take a guess.

What do you think the rule is in our area? Also, do you think owners and real estate agents should disclose if a house is haunted or not?

Looking forward to seeing your response!

Leave your comments at https://www.facebook.com/JanetSimonsRealtor/

Wishing you a “Spook-tacular”  Halloween!

Janet

 

 

Dog Gone it… Summer’s over

Get Out of the Weather: Indoor Animal Services in Lewis County

Summer is slowly fading away from us here in Lewis County and that means the wet and cold are coming. Anyone with animals knows that fall and winter in the Pacific Northwest can really put a damper on our animals’ lifestyles. Maybe they don’t get outside as much or don’t get as much exercise as they do in better weather.

Thankfully, there are a few resources for those looking to keep active all year long.

For the Dogs

Dogs are often the animals most affected by wet weather. The days get shorter, so it’s dark when you get home. And cold. So Fido gets walked just long enough to do his business. Then you run back to the warmth of your house. Instead, check out some of these places for indoor things to do to keep your dog fit (and even trained!)

Pacific Northwest Dog Center – Located in Chehalis, they have an indoor doggy day care to let your dog get some exercise during Fall/Winter months. They also have indoor dog training classes.

Three Dog Night Dog Shoppe & Self Wash – If you normally bath your dog outside, the new Three Dog Night in Centralia is a Godsend during bad weather. You can bathe your dog inside at one of their luxurious stations without plugging up your drain or ruining your septic.

Timberland Valley Dog Fanciers Association – They have conformation and obedience classes, which they try to hold inside during the winter months. They hold a once a month meeting that you can attend without your dog.

Centralia Pet Resort – This boarding place also offers indoor daycare and training to keep your dog happy year round.

For the Horses

Bad weather for many riders means less riding unless they are lucky enough to have an arena. Here are a few nearby places where you can haul your horse to get in a ride during the rainy weather.

Ethel Events Center – They have many equine related clinics and shows year-round, as well as practices and open ride times. Check their website for full details.

Acres of Pride Arabians – They offer private lessons on your horse or theirs. They also sometimes have a free open ride on Sundays. Contact for details.

Stick Horse Stables (formerly Flying M Stables) – Just north of Lewis County, this is a great barn with open ride times, training, and events. It’s worth the drive. Are you trainer without an indoor arena? They allow trainers to use their facilities.

A Fairytail House – A private, indoor arena and barn that has free riding days. Located off Exit 68 in Chehalis.

For the Cats

While your cat is probably not interested in going to a facility for some training or getting exercised in an indoor arena, your indoor/outdoor cat may be a bit upset about the wet weather.

The solution? A catio! These structures give indoor cats safe access to the outside and keep them dry, no matter the weather. For those looking to go all out – get some inspiration and even DIY plans from Catiospaces.com. If you want something bit more temporary, a chain-link dog kennel with a roof works great as well. You can pick up used ones on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for fairly decent prices. I’ve even seen some free ones the past couple weeks.

The main thing to remember is that here in the Pacific Northwest we all need to be a bit rainproof. It’s good for your health and the health of your animals to stay active no matter the weather.

Here’s to an energy-filled fall!

Let the Fall Fun Begin!

The busy summer schedule has begun to slow as we settle into to the fall season. I’ve found some really fun & interesting local events that are scheduled to kick off the Fall season.

September Events in Lewis County

Prim Rose Primitives Fall Gathering ~ Sept. 8th-10th, 2017 10am-4pm, 109 S. Tower Ave., Centralia

Historic Fall Fashions ~ September 9th  1:30-3;30 pm Borst Park Home Museum, Centralia

Centralia College Paint Night ~ September 13th 6-9pm, Centralia

Honoring the Spirit of the Cowlitz Pow-Wow ~ September 18th Noon-11pm, Toledo

Happy Trails Arena Gameshow & Campout  ~ September 23 & 24th, Ethel


Octoberfest Packwood ~ September 29th – October 1st, Packwood

Rails to Ales – Mount Rainier Steam Train  September 30th – October 1, Elbe

 

Expand Your Real Estate Knowledge

It’s already that time – back-to-school. Since your kids are going back to school to gain more knowledge, now it a perfect time for you learn more about real estate! The more you know, the less intimidating it will seem when you go to buy or sell a home. And, who knows, maybe you will decide you want to be a real estate investor, broker or even a realtor!

The home buying processes seems scary because most the time you don’t really know what’s happening. Professionals throw all kinds of jargon and acronyms at you, which can leave you feeling very uneasy. To alleviate this stress, the best thing to do is educate yourself on common vocabulary, how a sale works and local resources where you can learn even more.

Common Real Estate Vocabulary

ARM – Adjustable Rate Mortgage. This type of home loan has an interest rate that will change over time. They usually start out with a very low interest rate that is set for a certain number of years (up to 10 years). But after that, they change depending on the market – the interest rate can go up or down.

Assessed Value. This is the value of a piece of property that a public tax assessor gives for the purpose of taxation. It is rarely ever the same as the list or purchase price.

Appraisal. A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the true (or fair market) value of what a home is worth. All lenders order an appraisal during the mortgage loan process so that there is an objective way to assess the home’s market value and ensure that the amount of money requested by the borrower is appropriate. Often this is confused with Assessed Value.

Broker. A broker brings parties together to negotiate a contract between them. The broker gets a fee or a commission for providing the service.

Closing. The sale of the property is finalized, mortgage papers are signed and all “closing costs” are paid.

Closing Costs. These are expenses that are involved in the transfer of a property from the seller to the buyer. They normally include attorney’s fee, taxes, a sum of money in escrow, title insurance and survey fees and an origination fee. The amount is usually a percentage of the purchase price.

Down payment. A sum of cash you must pay upfront towards the purchase price of the home. Usually the down payment is a percentage of the purchase price and depends on the type of mortgage.

Conventional Mortgage. A mortgage that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government.

Earnest Money. The sum of money given at the time the seller accepts the buyer’s offer to show that the buyer is serious about buying the property. The amount goes towards the down payment sum.

Equity. This is the difference between the fair market value of a property and how much the current owner still owes on the mortgage. For example, if the house was valued at $500,000 and the home owner owed $300,000, the equity is $200,000.

Escrow. Funds and documents that are held by a third party which are then dispersed once conditions are met. For example, a down payment goes into an escrow account and then is given to the seller after closing.

Fair Market Value. The highest price a buyer would be willing to pay and the lowest price a seller would accept.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage.  Unlike the ARM defined above, a fixed-rate mortgage has a set interest rate that does not chance for the life of the loan.

Government Mortgage (FHA). These are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). – (VA). A VA loan is a mortgage loan in the United States guaranteed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The loan may be issued by qualified lenders. The VA loan was designed to offer long-term financing to eligible American veterans or their surviving spouses (provided they do not remarry).

Home Inspection. An inspection done by a certified professional that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. Most home sales are done contingent upon a home inspection.

HUD-1 Statement. This document provides an itemized list of the funds at closing. The statement includes real estate commissions, loan fee, points and initial escrow amounts. Also called a closing statement.

Insured Mortgage / Mortgage Insurance. A mortgage that is insured by the FHA or a private mortgage company. Buyer will pay a mortgage insurance premium bundled with the monthly mortgage payment for a certain time period. Loans where the borrower had less than 20 percent of the purchase price as a down payment usually are insured.

Point. A one-time fee by the lender for originating the loan – a point is 1% of the mortgage amount.

Pre-approval Letter. This is a letter from a bank or lending company that gives an estimate of how much they are willing to give you as a loan. While not a guarantee that you will be given final approval, they do make your offer stronger than someone who has not even approached a bank.

Chronology of a Sale

The following diagram will give you a visual reference on how the sale/purchase of a home works, from listing to close. While the diagram looks complicated, having a licensed real estate agent by your side can really help make the process go smoother by explaining to you the steps along the way.

Local Resources

Looking for more information on buying and selling homes here in Lewis County? Here are some great resources for both information as well as professional services that you will need during the process.

  • LewisCountywa.gov – this site can give you information on properties, including easements, flood zones and other important information.
  • Lewis County Community Development – here you can learn about building or land use permits so you can make sure the property you are buying will work for your needs before you purchase.
  • L&I Inspections – Electrical permits, fees and inspections. Especially important for manufactured homes as many older ones are not up to code.
  • Lewis County PUD – if you have questions about utilities in our county, these are the people to ask.
  • Local city government offices – if you are moving from out of the area and have questions about the area, city offices can be a great resource.

And of course, real estate agents are great local resources. Have a question? Don’t hesitate to contact me that is what I am here for – to help you navigate the home buying and selling process.

 

 

August in Lewis County is for Blueberries!

The summertime blues means something entirely different to those of us luckily enough to call Lewis County home. For us, it means blueberries are finally in season and it’s time to enjoy them in pies, preserves, on ice cream and pancakes, in lemonade or sun-warmed straight off the bush! There is really nothing this little anti-oxidant packed fruit isn’t good on. Don’t believe me? There is a wonderful Farm to Table restaurant in Astoria that makes a burger with a blueberry mustard and it’s heavenly. Seriously, these little guys go with anything.

Where to go for Lewis County Blueberries

Since we all know fresh is best when it comes to produce, you shouldn’t look too far when selecting your summer blueberries. Here are three farms right near Mossyrock you should definitely check out for your blueberry needs.

Aldrich Berry Farm and Nursery

You cannot get bluer than this family! The Aldrich family brought this wonderful fruit to Lewis County in 1944 when they realized how amazing the Mossyrock soil was. When you go to their farm, take a moment to stop and feel the soil – it’s unlike anything you have seen before – black, soft, fluffy and rich. The Aldrichs are happy to talk to you about the history of blueberries in Mossyrock and the county.

You can buy fruits and well as blueberry plants from their farm, located just ½ mile west of Mossyrock at 190 Aldrich Rd, Mossyrock. Contact them for hours.

Grose’s Blueberry Farm

Grose’s features WSDA Organic August Moon blueberries. They have both We-pick and U-pick blueberries available. They have Blue Crop berries, which are a medium-large, disease resistant berry that is good for pretty much anything, including baking and freezing.

They are now open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., though they are often closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Evening pick-up can be arranged. It’s best to contact them for more information. Located at 164 Damron Rd, Mossyrock.

Panamerican Berry Growers

Set on almost 200 acres, they definitely have blueberries! In fact, they are the largest blueberry farm in Southwest Washington. Their market stand is open July and August, as long as those cute little fruits are ripe and in stock. They also carry blackberries, raw honey, jams and more. They are located at 212 Klickitat Creek Rd, Mossyrock. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. most days, but it’s best to call first.

Don’t Forget the Mossyrock Blueberry Festival!

Because we are all mad about blueberries, you can’t forget the Mossyrock Blueberry Festival happening August 4-6. The festival includes live concerts each day that are free with admission. There’s a pancake breakfast Saturday and Sunday (with blueberries of course), a parade, car show, activities for kids, a 5k and 8k trail run on Saturday, and more blueberries than you could ever eat. Think you’re up to the challenge? On Saturday there is a blueberry pie eating contest. For more information about the festival, visit the Mossyrock Blueberry Festival website.

 

What about me?

What do you think is the single best investment? For years I’ve told anyone that would listen, real estate is the best investment. Maybe I was wrong (don’t choke) yes, I’m actually admitting it.

My husband recently teased me about how much money I spend on my gym membership and health products. I quickly snapped back at him “I’m investing in myself and I’m worth it”!

Think about that for a few minutes…if you’re not investing in your own wellbeing, how in the world can you be prepared to invest in anything? Doesn’t everything start with you?

The advantages of a regimented health & wellness program have more than just physical benefits. It builds character, establishes discipline, creates good work habits, all the while building self-esteem & lessening our stress load.

Once you’ve invested in your physical self, developing a better, stronger you. Diversify your investments; expand your knowledge (go back to school), seek counseling to learn to deal with issues that are buried deep inside, kick addictions to the curb, start a savings account making regular deposits (all the money you’re saving by kicking addictions and banning junk food will make this an easy habit. Just giving up a stop at the coffee stand every morning will provide you a $4 – $5.00 deposit into the savings account).

$4.00 X 30 days = $120
$120 X 12 months = $1440
$1440 X 5 short years = $7200 interest not included
(think back 5 years, it really wasn’t that long ago)

After just a few short years, you are now ready to invest in real estate. You’ve just saved enough for a down payment on a home loan.

Maybe the “me” generation really does have it figured out…

YOU’RE A ROCK STAR!

Finding Independence Through Homeownership

(AKA “Adulting, Extreme Home Edition”)

The beginning of July is a special time for our country. We take a few days to celebrate our independence and the freedoms that come along with it. But just because you live in an independent and free country, doesn’t mean you feel independent.

It can be hard to feel independent when you don’t own your space. You move out of your parent’s home when you become an “adult” but for most of us, this move just replaces your parents’ rules with that of a landlord. You still don’t feel like you are free to do as you wish in a space that is truly your own. Heck, most rentals don’t even let you put holes in the wall or paint them – as least your mom let you hang up a poster or two!

The term “adulting” has been coined by millennials who use it for two very different scenarios. One, they find themselves doing things they wish they didn’t have to do, like spending money on bills instead of going drinking. The tagline “adulting is hard” often follows a Facebook post of this nature. And sometimes, we just decide we can’t “adult” any longer.

How to Win at Adulting – make this your last Independence Day as a non-homeowner

“Adulting” can be a positive thing however! It can also be used as a way to express a feeling of pride when you finally accomplish something that makes you feel like an adult, like getting a new job….or just getting dressed in “real clothes.”

And yes, often adulting is scary. But, nothing will make you feel more independent than becoming a home owner and that far outweighs the scary stuff. But just imagine how you will feel when you can paint the walls, hang pictures and even remodel the kitchen if you desire. Homeownership also means you can finally have those ten cats you’ve always wanted or four dogs – something landlords generally frown upon. It’s the freedom to allow a friend to come live with you when they are in need, without having to get a landlord’s permission first. I’ve even known people who rented apartments where if they were going to be gone for longer than a week and someone was staying at their place, the manager had to approval. You can’t even go on vacation without permission!

Home ownership doesn’t just give you free reign when it comes to the inside of your home, but it gives you a piece of mind knowing “it’s yours.” We humans have a natural desire to “own things” – we want our own territory that we can feel safe in, raise our families in, and leave those other adulting troubles at the door at the end of the day.  There really is no greater feeling than sitting on a front porch looking out at your own front yard. You will not only feel more independent, but buying a house gives you more confidence and drive to continue to succeed. Don’t be surprised if after you buy your home you find yourself more motivated in other adult-activities, so you better brush up on your #adulting lingo.

And when you start to stress or worry, just remember, you are an adult. You Got THIS!

Right now, our market is upward trending so it’s the time to buy before prices increase any more. We still have plenty of incentives and programs for first time buyers to take advantage of too. We all need support, your realtor has led many people to independence through homeownership and they can help you do the same thing so that next time you post about adulting, it can be a positive one.

Happy Independence Day, Happy #Adulting and Happy Home Hunting!

 

Happy Father’s Day

To all those loving Dads that take the time to spend time with their children, Happy Fathers Day!!!

Happy Father's Day to all

The fondest childhood memories are created by time spent together, rather than material things.

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: altanaka / 123RF Stock Photo

Lewis County Real Estate Market Watch

Lewis County Washington Real Estate MarketThere is really just one word for the current Lewis County Real Estate market: CRAZY! It’s been a while since we have seen such a hot market.

The median home value in Lewis County has gone up 12.9% over the past year. The median sales price of residential property is at $175,000 as of May 1, 2017according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). This is the highest it’s been in a decade.

Some of the median home values according to our Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) for some of our cities include:

  • Chehalis – $188,000
  • Onalaska – $162,470
  • Napavine – $175,000
  • Centralia – $159,900
  • Packwood – $106,500

And, there is definitely an inventory shortage – not just in Lewis County – but in neighboring Thurston and Pierce as well. A “healthy” inventory is when there is approximately 3-4 months’ worth of inventory on the market. That’s a comfortable amount, not too many, not too few. Currently, there is only approximately 1.5-2 months’ worth of inventory – less than half of what we like to have.

This means there are many more buyers than there are homes on the market and things are selling FAST! The average days on market (CDOM) for all residential property in Lewis County is 39 days, with Thurston County at 21 days and Pierce comes in at 17 days.

A friend of a client was moving to Centralia from Tacoma and she bought her house in less than a week – people are jumping on homes when they see them.

What This Means to Sellers

If you are thinking of selling – now is definitely the time! An inventory shortage in real estate is the same as anywhere else – supply vs. demand. This means you will probably sell your house for asking price (or maybe above) and it will most likely sell quickly. If your home has been on the market for more than 60 days, there may be a problem, talk to your REALTOR and heed their advice.

It also means you should be looking for your next house maybe even before you put yours on the market, because you may have a hard time finding a home. Having an interim plan, such as staying with relatives or a short-term rental is another good option that can give you time to find that perfect next home.

What This Means To Buyers

If you’re looking to purchase, you’d better be prepared to act quickly and have all your documents in order – especially that all important pre-qualified letter in hand. This letter makes you look serious and attractive to sellers. If a seller gets a similar offer from two parties, but one has a pre-qualifying letter and one does not, most sellers will select the buyer with the letter, sometimes even if the offer was a few thousand less. This is because the non-pre-qualified buyer is more risky. And, should they be unable to buy the home, the sellers may have already lost the other potential buyers.

Unfortunately, a hot market also means you have less time to “think” about a property. You might be forced into making fast decisions.

Finally, you most likely will have to pay above asking to get into a home, so keep that in mind when you are looking. It’s a good idea to look at homes under your budget so you have room to go above asking to secure the home of your dreams. Other ways to be more attractive to a seller is to pay all the closing costs yourself and/or have a large down payment.

And of course, having a good relationship with your realtor is essential. Your realtor should be letting you know as soon as they find out a house has been listed that meets your criteria, so you can see it as soon as possible. Having a realtor that is on top of the market and knows what being listed is essential in this type of market.

Above all, though, know this is a GOOD thing! It means people are moving to Lewis County and that they want to stay here for a while. It helps the economy in many ways so if you start feeling frustrated in your house hunting, just take a deep breath and call your realtor, they can help you. This just means others are learning what you already know – Lewis County is a wonderful place to call home.