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.

Happy Mothers Day!

Being a “Mom” isn’t for sissies…. you must have the patience of a saint, the intelligence of a genius, the strength of a mountain, gentleness of a feather and the stamina of an Artic Tern (known for traveling the greatest distances).

Every day moms are faced with dilemmas that may not seem significant to most, but in the eyes of a child these are earth shattering events.  Children ponder the “what’s, why’s and who’s” of everyday life and as parents are supposed to know the answers, after all we are intelligent educated adults.

This week I’m sharing with you some comical snippets from children that moms and dads are faced with daily.


My 6 yr. old wants to become a doctor so she can help sick kids.

My 4 yr. old want to be a porcupine so she can stab people with her butt.


3yr. old: You get lots of letters from your friends.

Me: They’re bills. They want money.

3yr. old: You need better friends.


4 yr. old: *Cries*

Me: What’s wrong?

4yr. old: my tummy is full, but I want to keep eating.

The struggle is real.


(Kids playing a card game)

Me: What game are you playing?

6yr old: WAR.

Me: Who’s winning?

6yr. old: Nobody wins.

WHOA!!!


Me: How was school?

6yr. old: Bad, but at least tomorrow is Saturday.

Me: Tomorrow is Friday..

6 yr. old: I thought maybe you wouldn’t notice.

My 3 yr. old called her eyebrows “eye mustaches”.

I was going to correct her, but instead upgraded my vocabulary.


(Filling out a worksheet)

Me: Name a way to be nice to others.

4yr. old: Don’t stab them.

Setting the bar a little low, but I’ll allow it.


4yr. old: I’ll be up working late, I have homework.

Me: You’re in Pre-school.

4yr. old: I have to color in this whole picture.

I’ll put on some coffee.


Special Thanks to James Breakwell @ explodingunicorn for allowing me to share his delightful posts.

PUPPY LOVE: How to Market Your Home to Dog Owners

Does that title sound funny to you? As a potential home seller, you have probably been thinking about stainless steel appliances and bathroom upgrades when it comes to what adds value to your home to potential buyers. But, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, you probably should be thinking about those four-legged members of the family too.

Check out these statistics:

  • 99% of those surveyed said they considered their animal part of their family.
  • 81% of those asked said that “animal-related considerations” played a role in deciding where they lived next.
  • 52% renovated their home to accommodate a pet
  • 89% said they wouldn’t give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations.

This isn’t a new trend. In 2014, Standard Pacific, a home-builder based in Irvine, California, offered pet-specific rooms in there new homes – pet owners lined up at the grand opening. Ever heard of William Shatner? When he remolded his home in California he added built-in dog crates under the kitchen counter.

But here’s the part you REALLY want to pay attention to:

1/3 of Realtors who were surveyed said that their pet-owning clients had refused to make an offer on a home because it did not work for their animal.

So how do you, as a home seller, use this to your advantage?

When you are listing your house, make note of things that buyers with dogs may be interested in. Take pictures of important ones and list them in the housing description. Also, ask the realtor showing the house if the prospective buyers have dogs, so you can prepare a “tip sheet” with any of the following information that is not on the listing:

Fenced in back yard that is dog-proof. If you have a 6-foot solid cedar fence with locking gates, for example, be sure to tell potential buyers and use words like “fenced-in backyard, perfect for kids and dogs” in your listing.

Large laundry room. Laundry rooms are helpful to dog owners. They can wipe off their feet after they have gone outside, and it gives them room to get the dog leashed up to go out.

Tub. Why? For baths of course! Even an all-adult home will probably want a tub if they have a dog.

No carpet. Most dog-owners are looking for no-carpet because it’s easier to clean up hair and accidents.
Dog door. Already have a dog-door installed? Let it be known to potential dog-owning buyers!

Space for crates, dog beds, etc. Does your house feature open-floor plans with spaces for crates and dog beds? You may not want to put this in the listing, but it’s a good thing to mention as they walk through your home. Or maybe even stage a crate in the room if you know the people looking are dog-owners.

Neighborhood Amenities. Is there a park, or even better a dog park, within walking distance or a short drive? What about a dog training facility or doggy day care? Does an award-winning vet have a practice nearby? Does your neighborhood have nice sidewalks for walking? These are things dog owners care about.

Aso:
61% of buyers in the NAR survey said they found it difficult to find a home where the HOA’s accommodated their animals.

So if you have no HOAs, be sure to put that in your listing. If you know your county is particularly lenient on dog restrictions, that’s a good thing to list to for out-of-town buyers, or at least to have handy should they ask.

If your property does have HOAs, read up on the rules so you can answer questions and if they are dog-friendly, be sure to advertise that.
With approximately 44% of households in the U.S. owning dogs (and 35% with cats, by the way), it’s definitely worth your time to consider this population’s wants and needs when getting your house ready to list. It’s just another way to help your house stand out from others and get that sold sign out front faster.

DIY Rustic Herb Garden Ladder

Spring is finally here and that means it’s time to plant! Herb gardens are a great way to save some money and add fresh flavor to any dish you are creating. But just because you want to have an herb garden in your home, doesn’t mean you have to buy one of those cheap looking plastic containers. Instead, why not opt for something a bit more rustic that fits in with your home decor? The great thing about this project is that there are many ways you can change it up to fit your style. And, it’s fairly inexpensive to make – total cost being around $25 depending on materials used.

Base Materials Needed

Herbs – Any local store or nursery will have them. I choose peppermint, cilantro, Italian oregano, and lemon thyme and onion chives. Choose herbs you normally use in your cooking. (Peppermint is great for making tea!)

Metal pots – I found these particular ones at Ikea for 63 cents!

A rustic ladder – search Facebook for sale groups and Craigslist. I got this one for $10. You can paint the ladder if you wish.

Sisal rope – or any type of tying material that fits your décor style. Cotton rope, paracord, twin – you have many options that can change the feel of this project.
(Potting soil, pea pebbles, scissors, labels, and shipping tape were also used to duplicate my look!)

How to Make

Step 1: label your new pots. I used printable shipping labels to create a nice look with a border and fun font. Then, for an extra touch, I used edging scissors to cut them out. Have fun and be as creative as you want. You could paint the names of the herbs on the pots, uses markers, Hodge Podge – really you are only limited by your own imagination! You can even tape the label from the herb on the side of the pot – that will give your project more of a country garden feel.

Tip: I used shipping tape over my labels so that they won’t get ruined when watering.

Step 2: Repot your herbs. If your pots do not have holes (which you probably won’t want them to if you are having this inside), put a layer of pea pebbles at the bottom of each pot. Fill with potting soil and your herb plant.

Step 3: Prepare the ladder. If you are going to paint the ladder, or decorate it in any way, now is the time to do it. I left mine natural because it was a nice, dark wood.

Step 4: Tie on the pots. You can be as fancy or as clumsy with your knots as you want, it really doesn’t matter as long as they are secure. The easiest way is to wrap the rope around the pot, having the long end go up and the other end around it like a slip-knot. Wrap long end up over the rung, down between the pot and the rope, under the pot and back to the other side and secure. (This is easier with a helper!) Cut off access rope at both ends and secure with shipping tape.

Step 5: Display! You can leave your ladder leaning against a window, or you can hang it vertically or horizontally from the ceiling in front of a window. For hanging, make sure you secure to ceiling studs and use appropriate hardware.

Now all you have to do is water your herbs and enjoy!

Is Downpayment Assistance an Option for YOU?

A while back, I wrote about what to do when you get gift funds for a down payment. I received a number of positive calls with feedback on how helpful the info was. However, the tone with many of the messages and phone conversation I had was, along with the help from family and friends, is there some information on other downpayment assistance ideas and programs available in our area of Washington State.

I thought this was a great idea and so I did some digging and found out that roughly 7 out of 10 Americans are unaware of downpayment assistance programs available for them and their family…and there’s more!

Who can Apply for Downpayment Assistance?

I really don’t think it makes a difference where you live and work, the cost of homeownership is on the rise. Not only are the prices going up but so is the requirements to purchase. Recently, news came out that Freddie and Fannie were lowering the minimum downpayment requirements from 3.5% back down to 3%. This news is well received and should be a great boost for homebuyers throughout our region.

However, there are still those who are dealing with past credit issues or existing debt and need downpayment assistance in order to realize the American dream of Homeownership. So I have a few links to share with you on help available now:

Seattle.gov website has a full list of available downpayment assistance programs designed to help
Washington State Housing Finance Commission offers HomeChoice downpayment assistance, second mortgage loan program for qualified borrowers who have a disability or who have a family member with a disability living with them. Funds up to $15,000. HomeChoice combines with Home Advantage first mortgage loan program. One-on-one counseling is required.

Talk to your lender and ask if there are any additional downpayment assistance programs specific to rural or designated areas they’re aware of!

How Downpayment Assistance Can Help You?

First-time home buyers should expect to pay about 17.4% of their income on a mortgage, compared to 15.3% for more traditional buyers. Despite the hurdles that most millennials face, current affordability for first-time buyers still looks more favorable than the pre-bubble standards from 1985 to 1999, when they could have allocated 22.5% of their income to a mortgage.

A little farther up the age scale, another recent survey finds 63% of Baby Boomers say they plan to stay in their current home when they retire. Of those who said they plan to move, 42% said they would buy a smaller home, 32% said they would buy a larger home and 26% said they plan to buy the same size home.

I hope you found this information useful. I realize this is a small sampling of what is available out there so do your homework or better yet, contact me and I’ll get you in touch with all the right people to insure you and your home buying experience is seamless and one to remember.

Photo Credit: Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Preparing Your House For Selling

Once you have decided to list your house, the work has just begun. There is a lot that goes into making sure your house looks it’s best for potential buyers and it can feel overwhelming. The best thing to do is have a timeline with a checklist so you stay on track with your goals. Start with when you want to list your house, and then work backward from that date to create a schedule so you don’t miss anything. To help you get started, here is a list of things you should considering doing to prepare your house for selling. Of course, not all houses need everything on this list, but it’s jumping off point. Getting the opinion of your listing agent and/or family and friends who have sold houses is also a wise idea. They may think of something you did not, and that could be the difference between getting a buyer or not.

“Spring” Cleaning

One of the first things you should do is a “spring” cleaning (even if it’s December). Part of a spring cleaning is getting rid of the clutter and that’s important since it can detract from the beauty of your house. Garages sales are a great way to clear out clutter. You can also donate unwanted items to a local charity. If you have something you want to keep – like a massive collection of toys that takes up a whole room – it’s time to carefully pack it up and put in storage. If you have a lot of stuff, renting a storage unit can help declutter your home without having to give up precious items.
Then, the deep clean that follows gives you a chance to notice any repairs that may be needed, which rooms could do with a fresh coat of paint, etc. It’s just a great way to assess the current condition of your home.

Curb Appeal

The very first thing people will see is the outside of your home. If it doesn’t look nice, they will drive right onto the next house. This is the time to weed, trim up the trees and make sure the landscaping looks good. Small, inexpensive touches such pots of annuals on the front porch, can make it look inviting. Replace worn out welcome mats with new ones and make sure your shoes are not laying around.

If your clutter spills into your yard, you need to do some spring cleaning here as well. Store items in the garage, sell/donate them, or put them in a storage unit. It’s all about that first impression, which takes just seconds. You want your house to look like something out a picture that not only invites the buyers to come see what’s through the door, but makes them dying to see it.
Remember that if you are planting anything, like more grass because yours is neglected and dead, that there is no speeding up plant growth. Be sure that whatever you’re planting will be growing by your target list date. Otherwise, you may need to adjust your timeline and/or plan something else for your yard that will work within your timeline.

Repairs

While cleaning did you notice anything badly damaged or in need of repair? Maybe you discovered a leak in the ceiling of the guest bedroom or that one of your teenagers had backed into the garage wall and covered the damage with storage boxes. If the problem is a big one, such as a leaky roof, you will most likely have to replace it before you sell the house. Some things, like the aforementioned damage to a garage wall, may not be a big deal.

Many people like to wait and see what potential buyers ask for when they put an offer in, or what the inspector says. However, if you are in a hurry to sell, this can hold up closing while you find contractors and make the repairs, so if you are looking to sell in a hurry and have issues you know will be called by the buyers or the inspector – such as outdated wiring – you may want to do it beforehand and then put the cost of it into the asking price. It’s all about your timeline.

Upgrades

After you have deep cleaned your home and assessed its condition, you may have found it more outdated than you thought. Maybe it has a 70s kitchen and 90s light fixtures. Now you are in a panic thinking you need to pour thousands of dollars into the house because no one is going to want a non-updated home. But upgrades are tricky. You need to make sure that if you do decide to put any money into the house, that the end result will raise your home’s value more than you put in, otherwise, it’s probably not worth it. Your listing agent is a good person to ask because they will know what homes in the area have sold with – maybe they all have outdated kitchens. Or, maybe the only homes selling are the ones with brand new granite countertops. They should also be able to help you know what the before and after value of your home is so you can determine if it’s worth the investment.

Just be sure to do some careful calculating. And, if you do decided to do any upgrades, don’t do it based on your own person tastes, but on what potential buyers may like. Choose colors and styles are trendy, but that also fit the area and the general “feel” of your house. It may feel odd, for example, to have modern art deco in a 1901 house. Buyers looking at a vintage home often want the charms and unique features these houses have, so it may actually hurt the value if you upgrade too much.

De-Personalize

After the clutter is gone, it’s time to look at what’s left. Does it still look too much like your family is entrenched and never leaving? It is suggested that you remove pictures off the wall and remove the clutter that has collected on the fridge door. Take the posters and wall decals down from your kids’ rooms. Simple things like this can make the rooms feel bigger and more open, but also helps potential buyers envision their own family in the home, instead of coming and feel like they are on a tour of your home. Remember, people will only give you an offer if they can see themselves living in your home, so you want to make it as easy for them as possible.

Staging

Finally, when you are getting ready to take your pictures and put your house on the market, some people may find staging the way to go. If you have a lot of mismatched and/or outdated, heavy furniture, it can detract from the home. Large pieces of furniture makes a room feel small and too many pieces can make it feel closed off. You don’t want people to be focusing more on your furniture than on the home. In these cases, putting all your furniture in storage and hiring a stager can definitely make a home sell quicker.

Staging is also good if your house is already empty. Houses that are staged tend to sell faster – not everyone can look at an empty room and picture what it would like furnished. Some need help with the vision and that’s what staging does.

At the end of the day, preparing your home for sale is about putting its best foot forward, so to speak. While the neighborhood, location, price, etc., are factors to potential buyers, the real test comes when they first set foot into your house. Can they picture themselves living it in it? If the answer is yes, they will give you an offer.

If you’re ready to sell your home, I’m ready to help!

Happy Valentine’s Day

This little red haired girl wants to wish each and everyone of you a HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!