How Safe is My Neighborhood?

We all want to make sure we are living or are going to be living in a safe area. It is important to think about, especially now that children are starting to go back to school. There are various resources you can use to scope out a potential neighborhood or learn more about your own. Here are some of the best resources available:

Crime Mapping Services

A crime mapping service is a great tool to be able to see what kind of crimes take place in a specific area. Two of the better ones I have found are SpotCrime and CrimeReports. This tool is great to scope out what types of crimes and what dates they’ve been committed. You are also able to compare neighborhoods to find one with the lowest crime rate.

National Sex Offender Public Website

The National Sex Offender website allows you to enter the address of your home, or a home you are potentially looking to buy or build and see how many sex offenders live in a up to 3-mile radius. You are able to see their names and locations on the map.

AreaVibes

AreaVibes allows you to search for what is important to you. You are able to enter an address, neighborhood, city or even state and it gives a score based on factors such as crime rate, amenities, livability and housing. It also allows you to compare different places and can help you decide which areas you will be comfortable living in and ones you may want to avoid.


Take a Tour

If you are thinking of buying a house in a specific neighborhood take a tour of the surrounding area. Are houses in good condition? What are the conditions like? Is there graffiti or a large number of homes unattended? While it is no guarantee that a neighborhood is safe it is a helpful indicator on what type of neighbors you will have.

Ask

If you are still uncertain about a neighborhood you can try asking some potential neighbors what they think of the area. Are they happy there? Have they had any problems with crime? Sometimes all it takes is a simple conversation.

While there are no absolute guarantees when it comes to your or your family’s safety these resources are invaluable to helping you make the best-informed decision you can.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


A Walk in The Seller’s Shoes

We all know buying a home is stressful. It is a huge purchase and incredibly time-consuming. And to top it all off you have sellers unwilling to compromise or asking a price that seems incredibly out of range for the market. However, instead of automatically making the seller into the bad guy, why not try and look at things from their perspective? This article is meant for buyers to help them see things from the seller’s point of view.

Frustrated Home SellerLocal Market Conditions

Can you imagine holding onto your house waiting for the right time to sell? Maybe putting off buying your dream home or retirement possibly for years until the market is right? The local market plays a huge role in whether or not the home will sell and for some sellers, the timing does not work in their favor. Along with the market not being the best time, there is also how long the home sits on the market to consider. As a seller, if you aren’t in the home you are still paying a mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. and if you are in the home you are tasked with keeping all areas ready to view at all times.

Time of Year

Some sellers have a small window in which they’re able to put their home on the market. Whether it is for deployment and the family has to move immediately or the family has to wait until the end of the school year sometimes the seller is in a hurry and needs a quick sale. Waiting on buyers who are ill-prepared or people asking to see your house now but want to buy in 6 months to a year would be incredibly frustrating and would honestly feel like a waste of time.

It’s Emotional

As a buyer, you look at a house and think of what it could be. All the BBQ’s your family COULD have in the backyard. All the hours you COULD spend in the pool. When a seller is putting their house on the market, they have to think about all the hours they DID spend in the pool. Or all the family BBQ’s they DID have. It’s sometimes hard to let go of the tangible even when you still do have the memories. And while it is frustrating as a buyer to have a house be priced on sentimental value there is a reason for that. It’s because the seller is attached to their home.

Getting the Home Ready to Sell

Putting your home on the market isn’t an easy process. Repairs may need to be done; new coats of paint may have to be put on. The clutter has to go before the Realtor will want to take pictures. There is a lot going on behind the scenes and it’s a hard process. If you had spent every weekend trying to prepare your home for the market only to hear people complain about the finishings or paint color it would be annoying and feel like a waste of both time and money.

Barbecue in the Backyard of your new home with Family and FriendsUnrealistic Home Buyers

As a buyer, you always feel as though you are being realistic, however, that may not actually be the case. Many home buyers will offer well below market value, even to a point where it is insulting to the seller. As a seller when an offer was made way below what would be fair how would you respond? While the point of putting in an offer is opening up a negotiation, if a person’s offer is comically low it feels like there is no place really to start. From you, the buyer’s perspective, a low-ball offer is a way to get a great deal the seller sees it quite differently.

Unrealistic Home Buyers (Again)

Buyers aren’t only unrealistic when it comes to putting in offers, they are also unrealistic regarding the condition of the home. As a seller you probably have put a lot of work into your home getting it ready for market, however, there may be things you don’t feel need to be done, or you don’t have the budget to do and that is perfectly okay. The problem is when the buyer wants things done exactly suited to their tastes and is not willing to compromise. As a seller, you will be aware your home may need some upgrades and the price will reflect that however, a buyer will still put in an incredibly low offer with the excuse there are repairs to be done. As a seller, you’re now being penalized twice for needing repairs, you decrease asking price because of it and the buyer takes off even less because of repairs needed.

Closing the Deal

Just when you get to the finish line of selling your home is where it can easily all go wrong. There are many things a buyer can do to derail their loan and it is entirely out of the seller’s hands. Not only is this frustrating it is also damaging regarding how other buyers look at the home. As a seller, the loan falling through had nothing to do with you but now potential buyers see your home as having something wrong with it that caused the original buyers to back out.

While buying a home comes with its own distinct set of challenges it is helpful to realize that selling a home isn’t always easy either. Instead of feeling as though one side doesn’t understand the other, progress is made when each side agrees to look at it from a different perspective.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Trying on the “Buyers” Shoes

As a seller getting ready to place your home on the market you have probably spent countless hours just getting prepared to go to market. From cleaning to renovations you’ve done it all. And now you are finally ready to put your home on the market. While as a seller you may deal with low ball offers from buyers or those who do not appreciate all the house has to offer. Instead of letting this cause friction in your negotiations why not consider things from the buyer’s perspective?

Home Prices

After the recession 10 years ago home values have regained their value and then some. In fact, supply now outweighs demand forcing home prices even higher. While this is great news for you, the seller, have you considered what that means for the buyer? Home values are now rising faster than inflation meaning it is becoming harder and harder for buyers, especially new buyers, to keep up.

Building a Down Payment

Going along with the increasing home prices the down payment generally needs to increase as well. At minimum 3% is required for most loans, some going up to 15%! That is a lot of money for many buyers especially first-time homeowners. While nobody is going to suggest you place your home well below market value just so somebody will be able to afford the downpayment it is important to remember that this is a huge investment for any potential buyer and amassing enough for a downpayment has potentially taken them years.

Young Families

You were there once, the excitement of wanting to grow your family and needing more room. Whether it be by two legs or four any addition to a family means more space and first homes are a great starting point for that. In fact, Zillow just had a study finding that parents face greater struggles when trying to buy a home. They are the most likely to end up with longer commutes than what they wanted and have the smallest downpayment. Of course, to anybody who has had children you know, they are expensive and as sellers, it is important to remember that. Maybe their downpayment isn’t the biggest but they also have 3 kids and a dog. Not having as much for a downpayment does not necessarily mean they will be unable to pay for the loan are unworthy of buying your house.

Why My House?

While not necessary considering why a buyer wants your specific house may give you new insight. Is it a newly single parent wanting to keep their kids in the same school district? Is it a child moving closer to home to take care of their elderly parent? Asking these questions may give you an idea exactly what the potential buyer is facing thereby making you more receptive to any and all negotiations.

As a seller, it is not your job to cater to buyers and lose out on money. However, the struggles buyers face are just as important as the ones you face trying to sell your home. Progress isn’t made when two sides are screaming “I’m right and you’re wrong” it’s made when people come together to listen to each other and try to understand the other.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


2019 Home Design Trends

Each new year seems to usher in a new trend or two in design. 2019 of course, is no different. Below are the top 15 trends you should expect to see for this year.

2019 Home Design TrendsColor of the Year
For this year Pantone has chosen “Living Coral” a bright fun way to start off the year. It’s a great way to accent your home with a gorgeous pop of color that anybody would love.

Floral Fabrics and Wallpaper
The stark Scandinavian trend is starting to decline ushering in floral patterns and bold wallpaper. Consumers are getting tired of minimalist statements, bright colors and graphics are now becoming more popular.

Full Tile Backsplash
A full tile backsplash feature wall is a great investment for 2019. Creating a striking feature wall is a great way to give a tired kitchen new life.

Artisinal Fixtures
Gone are the days when everybody has the same faucet or light fixture. Now is the time to find that perfect element nobody else has. Artisinal fixtures add great personality to any space in your home.

Natural Elements
While 2018 design trends were dedicated to technology this is the year natural elements make a comeback. From plants to stone or granite organic materials bring a calmness to any space.

Copper
While rose gold dominated in 2018 we will see less rose gold and a higher rate of copper or other metals. With its warm earthy hue copper is guaranteed to make a statement in any home.

Rich Jewel Tones
Jewel tones are the perfect way to dress up white space. From emerald, ruby, jade or amethyst layered jewel tones create interest in any space.

Boho

While it never really went away boho is back in a really unexpected way. For example, layered fabrics but with bold unexpected patterns. Now is a great time to add some whimsical character to your space.

Home Design Trends Remodeling in 2019Bold Black
Gone are the days of solid white bathrooms. Now the trend is sultry and sleek but still maintaining a spa-like feel.

Light Wood Floors
Thanks to homeowners wanting to maintain an open and airy feel light hardwood floors are on their way back. Birch, light oak or even white these floors reflect more light giving homes a brighter and lighter feel.

Comfort
Gone are the days where comfort was sacrificed for style. Now rich carpets, soft couches, and luxe fabrics are all in high demand.

Black and White
A timeless trend that continues to make a statement, black and white decor will be something to incorporate this year. The contrast will simultaneously add drama and balance to any room.

70s
With fabrics like velvet and curved furniture coming back it is no surprise that the 70’s are having a moment when it comes to design. Expect to see warm palettes, funky design, and high personality rooms in 2019.

Window Walls
Sunlight never goes out of style! With full walls of windows, you are guaranteed to both maximize the view as well as any natural sunlight that may shine your way.

Spanish Style
The relaxed casual Spanish and other Mediterranean styles check a lot of boxes homeowners are looking for. It’s light, airy, and above all else comfortable. With creamy walls, wrought iron accents, large fireplaces, and natural wood it is a simple and classic style.

Above all else, with trends, it is important to remember that at the end of the day they are just trends. Look at your own personal style and decide what works best for you and your home.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Appliance Shopping Made Easy!

Shopping for AppliancesWe’ve all been there either the washer dies and no amount of resuscitation can fix it, or the freezer has suddenly turned your house into a pool. Or even a new house needing all new appliances, it is hard to know exactly where to start! How do you find the best brands at the best prices? It’s a daunting task just to get started but here are some tips to help.

Choose a Price Range

Without knowing what price you are willing to pay for each item you are going to have a harder time finding brands that will work for you. By narrowing down options that do not work for your price range you are saving time on your research.

Wish List Time

Next, make a list of things in two categories, one what you are not willing to compromise on and what is negotiable. For example, you may know that for your family requires a large washing machine by excluding sizes like 3.8 cu ft. you are quickly able to narrow down the list of possible brands that will work for you. Or if you are like me a refrigerator with an ice machine is at the top of the list, I am able to search for that and exclude options that do not fit my criteria.

Compare Brands

Comparison Shopping for AppliancesThis is the part most people tend to dread when it comes to appliance shopping. There are so many places to look at reviews, and in some ways, it feels like a guessing game when it comes to what to get. The first place I would look is the website where you plan to purchase your appliance or appliances from. Where I live that narrows your store down to one option, for others there could be multiple places. But with your criteria in hand, you are able to quickly sort through what will and won’t work for you. Once you have a short list of options, start looking over reviews, even if you don’t plan to buy from that specific store the reviews are an invaluable resource for you. Other options for reviews would be Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, or Consumer Affairs website are all great options for reviews as well.

Go to the Store

Now that you have 1-3 appliances you have narrowed the search down to your next step should be going to the store if possible. Even if you plan to buy online it is easier to make sure you can reach the bottom of the washer before it’s installed than after (I may be speaking from experience here). Or the buttons to the oven may have looked great online but in store, they feel cheap and likely to break. These are all things to take into consideration.

Shop the Sales

At this point, you should know exactly what you are looking for. Now is the time to shop for some sales. Using sites like Honey or Flipp you can easily browse sales papers. These sites allow you to easily find what options you may have; one store may be able to save you hundreds off the purchase price! Also, you should be aware most large appliance manufacturers release new models in the early Fall. So. shopping in September or October may work out well for you. As well as these dates there are Black Friday deals to be aware of as well.

With all of these tips in mind, we hope to make appliance shopping a little less of a hassle and a lot more fun!


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Are Zestimates Accurate?

According to Zillow: “The Zestimate® home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user-submitted data, taking into account special features, location, and market conditions.” While this sounds like the data collected would be accurate, Zillow’s proprietary formula often leaves people scratching their heads.

With over 90% of home buyers starting their search online the Zestimate (or similar online tool) is one of the first places they check. Many believe that the Zestimate is the “true” price of the house and the asking price is just wishful thinking from the homeowner. The problem with these Zestimates is that they are usually inconsistent and more often than not inaccurate.

But what makes the Zestimates so inaccurate? Below are some very common reasons why the number Zillow gives is nowhere close to what the value of the home actually is.

Mistakes or Omissions in Tax Records or Sale Price

Accidents happen, it is too easy to lose a zero along the way or a number ends up transposed. If the data Zillow uses to generate a Zestimate is incorrect then obviously the number will not reflect the correct value.

Inaccurate Information

If a home is recorded as a two bedroom when in fact it has 3 that will cause the Zestimate to be incorrect. Also, lot size and square feet have a big impact on the Zestimate as well. If the adjoining lot was sold along the way then Zillow could have the wrong lot size, therefore, making the Zestimate overestimate home value. Zestimates are only as accurate as the information given and when that is faulty the number will not be correct.

Upgrades

This is actually a pretty common issue with Zillow. Say the last purchase of the home was 10 years ago, and 2 years ago the homeowners did an entire remodel as well as added on a screened in porch and pool. There is no way for Zillow to know this and the estimate will not reflect that information. Upgrades like granite countertops, hardwood floors, or additions will increase your home’s value but the Zestimate will not.

Zillow’s Zestimates are a great place to start but it is important to understand that at the end of the day they are just an estimate. There are just too many factors that can change the Zestimate for them to be entirely accurate.

Using a local REALTOR is the best way to get an accurate evaluation of your home value and its marketability. Buy local, Sell local!


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes

When did Christmas go from the most wonderful time of the year to the most stressful? Between the parties, the gifts, wrapping, travel, and sheer exhaustion it is easy to focus more on what is next on the calendar instead of enjoying the time spend with friends and family. How did Christmas lose its wonder and how do we get it back?

Thinking back to Christmas when I was a child, I remember the excitement surrounding the Holidays. I have fond memories of spending time with family, eating too many sweets, and staying up way past my normal bedtime. Was having 10+ children under 10 in the same room all opening presents at the same time stressful? Yes! The thought of that now is enough to give me anxiety just thinking about it. But as kids it did not matter that we were cramped together to make sure everybody had room, sitting on the floor because all the adults were on couches. It was loud and chaotic, but I do not remember it that way.

When preparing for Christmas it is easy to focus on the idea that everything needs to be perfect. The children NEED to have certain outfits on so the photos will look good, they must be frilly and stain free and you and your spouse must coordinate too. The food HAS to be perfectly cooked and has nothing but everybody’s favorites. The decorations MUST look as though they are straight out of a magazine. Why do we put all of that pressure on ourselves? I can just about guarantee you the only thing the kids are wondering is when they can take off the itchy dress and when can they open presents.

Life around the holidays can and will get chaotic. There are always last-minute gifts and a change of plans. Why not instead of letting this throw your day off completely think of how excited you are to see the family member who called 5 minutes ago to see if they can stop by? In the grand scheme of things will sitting for an hour to catch up be the end of the world? Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule but for the most part isn’t it more important to remember to enjoy the experiences life offers?

How do you plan to bring more magic to Christmas this year? The countdown has started and gift wrapping is in full swing. Every so often look at your child, see how excited they are for Christmas and remember that in the end everything will be okay.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Why Do I Need a Home Inspection?

Janet discusses the importance of home inspections with Eric Corder of Cornerstone NW Inspections.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


The Power of Being Pre-Approved

Janet speaks with McKenzie Kelly of Prime Lending who explains the difference between being pre-qualified for a loan vs pre-approval of loans.

Find out why pre-approval makes you a stronger buyer and strengthens your bid for your new home.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


How to Beat the Heat!

Cool Down in the Sprinkler

Ever had one of those days where you start to do the first of fifteen million projects for the day only to realize 10 minutes in you are absolutely melting? When the temperature reaches close to 100 in the shade it’s a perfect excuse to sit 3 inches from the AC but what if you HAVE to get things done (and let’s be honest, that’s most of us.) So, what are some ways to still stay cool?

  1. Drink water, dehydration can cause your body temperature to go up. It’s much easier to stay cool when you’re fully hydrated.
  2. Buy a fan that attaches to your phone. Your cellphone is already attached to your hand like its superglued so why not use it to your benefit. You can buy a fan that attaches straight to your charging port on your phone and instant breeze.
  3. Create a cross breeze, open a window and place a fan directly across from it.
  4. Chew minty gum and drink cold water. This will cool you down in a hurry. Don’t ask me how but it works.
  5. Need to cool down in a hurry? Run your wrists under cold water or apply ice packs to your pulse points.
  6. Wear cotton, it’s much more breathable than synthetic fabrics which allows for air circulation to keep you cooler. Bonus points if it’s lightly colored and loose.
  7. Got kids that you need to keep occupied? Freeze toys in ice (like dinosaurs) and let them play paleontologists until they get them all out or the ice melts.
  8. Set up your bed, hammock, or cot as close to the ground as possible. Warm air rises so the closer to the ground you are the cooler you will be.
  9. Freeze fruit in ice cube trays for an added boost to whatever you’re drinking.
  10. Unplug gadgets you aren’t using, they all emit a low level of heat that’s only adding to the temperature.
  11. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the fridge. You can spray yourself down whenever you feel hot.
  12. Hang a wet sheet in front of an open window, this will cool down the whole room.
  13. Invest in a bed fan to make hot summer nights bearable.
  14. Try storing lotions or toner in the fridge to help cool you down.
  15. Go camping, you won’t have four walls and insulation to trap heat. Pitch a tent and sleep under the stars.
  16. If you’re wearing a hat, put some ice water in it and place it back on your head.
  17. Do NOT turn on the stove, invest in an instant pot, slow cooker, or anything else that doesn’t add extra heat to your home. Heck, just skip cooking all together and order a pizza if you’re so inclined.
  18. Avoid caffeine and alcohol (I know this is the most boring tip ever) both will dehydrate you.
  19. Eat cold foods like salads, pasta salads, fruit, sandwiches, etc.
  20. Keep popsicles in the freezer, you can make your own or buy them from the store. They even have dog safe treats!

Above all make sure your summer is enjoyable. Short of moving into a cave it’s hard to escape the heat. Be sure to use common sense by not doing intense activity when it’s the hottest part of the day, stay as hydrated as possible, and always use sunscreen!


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate