The 5 W’s of Buying a Home, and How!

Buying a home can be overwhelming

The 5 W's of Buying a Home, and How!

Buying a home can be overwhelmingLast week I shared some information and resources about why now is the time for homeowners to prepare to sell this spring. But today we’re going to talk about the flip-side: the who, what, when, where, why and how of BUYING a home.

Who?

Anyone with a stable income should be making a plan to buy a home. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will buy this year, or even next, but it should be in your plans for the future. While renting definitely serves a purpose for various reasons and stages of life, eventually home ownership is almost always the best choice (see “Why?” below for more).

What?

Before house-hunting, determine your Top 5 Needs & Wants based on your goals and future plans. Also, anyone who has ever talked to me knows that I always recommend my clients consider how purchasing a duplex for a long term investment might meet their needs. It is definitely one of the smartest financial choices I have seen my clients make. 

When?

This one is tricky. The old adage that “the best time to buy a house is when it is the best time for you” is certainly true. However, there are a few points to consider when timing your home buying process.

For instance, spring and summer have the highest inventory. This means that you are more likely to find a place that meets more of your wants and needs. The weather is also more conducive to thorough inspections and related repairs or upgrades. Finally, moving during the summer break is ideal for families with school-aged children. 

On the other hand, prices are higher in the peak season, so you get more bang for your buck in the “off” seasons of fall and winter. Although, moving in the rain, sleet, and snow--or during the holidays--can make the entire ordeal feel like just that, an ordeal. And with lower inventory, it might take a little longer or require some extra compromise to find the right place for you.

Where? 

This one is a no-brainer to me. Fife-Milton-Edgewood is a great area to live. I should know! FME is where my family and I have put down roots, and I love this community. With easy access to all of the main south and central Puget Sound cities and mass transit centers, commuting for work or pleasure (I am told some people like to drive places...weird, I know) is about as easy as it comes in the gridlocked PNW. Highly rated schools, beautiful parks and trails in the vicinity--need I go on? Buying a home in FME is a fantastic decision.

Why?

Why not? Haha. Not really. Look, I am in the real estate industry, so of course I want to tell you all of the amazing, wonderful ways that buying a home will improve your life. However, I also pride myself on authenticity and transparency, so I am going to get the bad news out of the way: home ownership isn’t always the right choice. If your income is unstable, you anticipate a major life change in the near future, or you simply aren’t ready to take on all of the nitty gritty truths of owning a home, then rest easy in knowing that renting is a completely legitimate and appropriate choice for you. For now.

But if you are fairly stable, then why continue to pay someone else’s mortgage and fund someone else’s retirement indefinitely? Because that is what you are doing when you rent.

According to the US Census Bureau, home ownership and retirement savings are the biggest factors in determining household wealth. For many, their home equity is ultimately a large part of their retirement plan as well. When you rent, you don’t build equity in your home. Make no mistake, the value of that house is appreciating--it’s just not in your favor.

Besides the finances, there are other, less measurable “whys” in favor of buying. Want to paint a room without the hassle of getting permission? What if you want to rip out a section of the yard to plant a garden or build a playhouse for your kids?  Fall in love with a shelter pup but your landlord says no pets? There is a big psychological component to having a home not just a house, and buying is often the best way to address that desire for something to call your own.

How?

Oh, boy! Now we’re to my favorite part! This is literally what I do--all day, every day. I’ve got this!

First, you need to fill out the form below to download my Buyer’s Guide, filled with all of the ins and outs of the buying process. Go ahead and send that form now.  I’ll wait.

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Done? Great! Now, before you run over to your email for the guide, bookmark these recent posts from my blog for more reading. They have a lot more tips for you to make the buying process that much easier.

Buying real estate comes with a lot of liability. 

Most people struggle with knowing where to begin and what to prioritize. 

You're not alone.

If you haven’t already, check your email for your Buyer’s Guide. Read through it, make some notes, and then reach out to me to set up a time to talk about your goals and how I can help you!

All the best,

Spring is a Seller’s Paradise

Young children frolic and make faces at the camera in the spring sun

Spring is a Seller's Paradise

Young children frolic and make faces at the camera in the spring sun

After 80 straight days of gloomy weather (yes, seriously…), we finally had a nice stretch of sun hit the west side of Washington State earlier this week. It was glorious! While it appears we have again returned to the classic PNW rain/sun mix for now, that little preview of spring should remind us of one important thing: selling season is nearly upon us!

It’s probably no surprise that real estate listed at the height of spring tends to sell for more than properties listed other times of the year. Buyers are aiming to make a move when it’s most convenient, and the months of May and June are perfect for house hunters—sandwiched between major holiday and travel seasons, with generally mild weather for easy inspections and popping curb appeal, and the school year is wrapping up so disruption on the kiddos is minimized. Spring is a seller's paradise!

In the Fife-Milton-Edgewood area, the average time for a property to be on the market is 46 days. So if a house hunter is looking to be in their new FME home (and your old one!) by the start of summer, your property needs to be on the top of their list for viewings by early May.

But it’s not even March yet, so why am I talking about May and June?

Because…

"When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare." - John Wooden

Listing real estate for sale is not an overnight task. You have to prepare in order to see that proverbial “top dollar.” March and April are the time to get ready.

So where do you start? Preparing to sell, listing and marketing, getting showings, negotiating contracts, moving…it can be overwhelming! But can I tell you something?

I am really good at my job. I can manage all of that craziness, and I can help you do it, too.

Your first step in preparing to list your property is to complete the form below to receive my free Sellers Checklist: 7 Steps to a Stress-free Transaction.

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My goal is to make real estate as simple as possible for you, and this guide will help you know what to prioritize as you prepare your real estate for the busy spring market.

As always, I’m here to help, so contact me if you want to schedule a time to talk specifics about your home and how to sell it for top dollar!

All the best,

Want more? Check out these related blog posts:

 

Top 5 Needs & Wants When Home Hunting

A pregnant woman in silhouette on a hill cradles her belly.

Top 5 Needs & Wants

A pregnant woman in silhouette on a hill cradles her belly.Did you know that Americans move an average of every 5 years? And according to USA Today, every year 14% of the population makes a move. That’s a lot of moving!

Not only is moving a big task, it is expensive! If you rent, you’re generally looking at first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit. That’s on top of the actual moving expenses, like movers, boxes and packing materials, and utility connection fees. 

For homeowners, you’re shelling out for commissions, loan fees, down payments...the list goes on.

So how do you minimize the headaches and costs of moving, and ensure that you don’t have to do it any more often than is absolutely necessary? 

Easy. Pick the right place to begin with. Know what you want, and more importantly, what you need, now and in the foreseeable future, as you hunt for a home. 

Write. It. Down. 

Go over it with your agent, and realign if necessary based on your budget as well as the current market. But always prioritize before you shop.

To make this process a little easier, I have created this free handy template for you to use to list your Top 5 Needs & Wants. As you consider what to prioritize as your Top 5, I encourage you to think about the following factors.

Price

Of course I am gonna go here. Have you read my blog before?!

Your Top 5 is going to be limited by your budget. Plain and simple as that. And what you can get for your budget will vary a lot depending on market conditions. 

Before you start to narrow down your Top 5, talk to an agent about some items on your longer wish list. They will help you understand what is realistic and what isn’t, based on your budget and the current market.

Location

It is possibly one of the most well known real estate cliches: Location, location, location! 

But the fact is that it needs to be one of the very first things you consider. Where do you want to live? How long of a commute are you willing to have? If you have or plan to have children, what are the schools like? What about the crime rate? Is walkability important to you?

What of all of these things matter to you, and what matters most? Location is the one factor that absolutely cannot be changed, so think long and hard about where you are looking.

House size

How much space do you need? Do you see your needs changing in the next five years? Buy the right size house for how you intend and expect to use it. 

If you think you might need a little growing room for kids or in-laws, plan for that when you purchase. Either buy a little more house than you currently need, or be sure you can handle the costs and headaches of an addition down the road. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are on track to be empty-nesters in the next 5 years, will you really want to have that sprawling four bed, three bath to manage once the kids are gone?

Figuring out the best fit for your situation is a personal process, but it must be considered as you think through your needs and wants.

Lot size

Similar to location, this is one factor that can’t really be changed without moving. Think about what you want for outdoor spaces, and how you intend to use them, before you shop. Hate yard work? Then prioritize a small lot, or be sure you can afford to outsource the maintenance. Love to grow all your own veggies? Make sure a big lot is on your Top 5!

Condition, Features, & Finishes

Lots of people think they want an old house with character. That is, until they start to see the realities of maintenance and repairs...this is not to say that a fixer or “antique” home is not for you. It very well might be perfect. Only you can decide. But I do recommend you think about how much time, money, and energy you have to give to maintenance when considering your Top 5.

In addition to the overall condition, does the home have the types of finishes and features you are looking for? If not, what will it cost to change out the counter tops or add the mill work you desire? Are those finishes even in your budget?

From wish to reality…

So you’ve done some dreaming, and then you’ve given yourself a reality check. You understand you probably will have to compromise, so you’ve identified your Top 5 needs and wants to know what you can and cannot concede. Great job!

Even then, knowing what you need and want for the short, mid, and long term doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to move again. Life happens and changes have to be made. And sometimes moving is absolutely worth the time and money. 

If you are considering downsizing or upgrading, or perhaps you find yourself facing an unexpected move, contact me. I am here to help you sort through it all!

All the best,

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Peace, Joy & Success

A white cup with the word “begin” is in the foreground of a picture of a kitchen table

Peace, Joy & Success

A white cup with the word “begin” is in the foreground of a picture of a kitchen tableWhile I was trying to capture just one more squeeze from my youngest at school drop-off, one of my son’s teachers asked what I did for work. I was totally taken off guard because I wasn't in success mode, so I flippantly said “I help people through the real estate process.”

I could tell she was less than satisfied with my short answer, and so was I. But we both had to go on with our days.

The thought of that abrupt conversation nagged me for weeks. I felt like I failed to share with her that I am so much more than the tasks of my day. I mean, I should be able to articulate the heart of what I do and who I am better than that, right?

But…what is it that I really strive to do? What matters to me about how I spend my days? How do I measure the success of my day when my head hits the pillow each night?

Since I am an entrepreneur, I have the luxury of aligning my version of success with my career. I decided to nail down the goals by which I can measure my own definitions of success, personally and professionally.

My career goal is: Make real estate as simple as possible for people.

My life goal is: Have consistent peace & exude joy.

If I have peace in my spirit and joy in my heart, then I am successful.

When I help people deal with the complexities and frustrations of real estate, it feeds my soul and amps up that Peace & Joy action. For some of us, peace comes in the form of an informed decision. For others it might mean the joy of a tenant application being approved.

As an entrepreneur, no one gives me annual reviews or gold stickers. I have to measure my own achievements and identify areas for improvement all on my own. In real estate, my peace could easily be stolen every single day by whatever curve ball comes at me—and believe me, they do come!

Through trial and error, I have learned that keeping my focus on my professional and personal goals, and sharing my peace and joy under difficult circumstances is always the best option, no matter how bumpy the path may be. 

The other day I ran across my achieve post from last New Year’s. I reviewed my goals for 2019 and I am so happy to report that I met 60% of them! Yay me, right?!

As I answered the questions on my Achieve worksheet, these were the words I wrote:

"For me, the fact that I get to wake up and do what I love every day, and go to bed next to the man of my dreams, and have happy, healthy babies is what I consider ultimate success. Working in yoga pants as often as possible is also a nice perk."

This past year I chased peace and joy over any other form of success. I can truly say I have never felt more balanced, happy, or able to chase these dreams that I’m dreaming.

True success to me is to be able to wake up and acknowledge the gift of each day, to live fully by serving others, and to do what I love and do it really well.

Success is coming fully alive in the work I produce and feeling fully content at the end of each day. Chasing peace and joy have been the key to the lock in my life of being “successful.”

In my younger years I would dream about the future. Dreaming and goal setting for the future do have a place, for sure. But I have also learned to value and cherish the here and now. My daily goal now is to soak up the moments that I am so privileged to be a part of.

How do you view or define success? What are your goals for 2020?

All the best,

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