5 Things No One Told You About Owning a Home

5 Things No One Told You About Owning a Home

 

Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilities. Some are fun, while others...not so much. If you want to go from being a window shopper to being a homeowner, it’s time you get the real story about owning real estate. 

Down Payment or Disneyland?

Life is all about choices. Have you ever budgeted to go to Disneyland? It’s sometimes called The Happiest Place on Earth, and I absolutely agree. But the costs of tickets, flights, food, and hotels add up quickly. You could be faced with choosing between saving for a trip to Disneyland or saving for a down payment to invest in your own home. 

This isn’t to say that choosing Disneyland is a bad option. My own family has chosen the trip multiple times. But in order to afford the home you want, may have to choose which you want more. 

And it’s not just Disney. Really, this has to do with being intentional with spending, and setting priorities for your money. It may not be the Land of Mouse that pulls you away from your savings goals. Perhaps it’s cutting back on eating out, retail therapy, or driving a less expensive car. Whatever it is, saving for that down payment is rarely easy, and can happen only through intentional choices with your money.

The Crawl Space and Attic are Scary

It is a rare breed of human—a hero, really—that doesn’t mind crawling in tight and dark spaces. These heroes are typically skilled plumbers, electricians, and inspectors, although I’ve met plenty of people in those trades who don’t enjoy shimmying into those dark access holes, either!

Hopefully, this expedition will be a rare occurrence for you. But if you’re going to own a home, you should gather your courage, secure a headlamp, and check out the dark areas of your property at least a couple of times each year. 

The main things you want to look out for are cracked or blocked air vents, and signs of moisture. If you have any cracks in your attic or crawl space vents, you’ll want to seal those up ASAP so critters don’t move in. If vents are blocked on the outside by debris, clear it. Find the source of any debris on the inside and address it. Often this is from a critter or perhaps a faulty dryer vent. 

If you have an older roof you’ll probably want to climb into the attic and make sure you don't have any moisture spots on your sheathing (the layer of material attached to the structural frame of the roof).

If you do see any of these things, get a pro out immediately to take a closer look. 

Choosing a Paint Color is Stressful

For real! Have you ever chosen paint colors? Turns out paint isn’t cheap! And getting that just-right color is a challenge. If your property needs some paint protection, I highly suggest buying sample-sized containers. Use them to paint 24 x 24 inch squares on each side of your house. This can also be done for interior walls by painting some swatches on different walls in the rooms you want to repaint. 

Lighting can make all the difference in how a color appears.  Let the sample patches sit for a few days, or even weeks, to see how you like them in various lighting conditions at different times of the day. Then you’ll be much more prepared to dive into the big paint purchase with the peace of mind that you won’t be repeating the painting process—and the expense—for a while. 

Curb Appeal Fades

Some of us love new construction: the on-trend designer color for the front door, the fresh and perfectly placed plantings in the front flower beds, and even the allure of brand new toilets are really important to some. 

(Funny enough, I have heard some version of “I need to know that no one else’s butts have been on the toilets” from various clients multiple times now. By the way, you can replace toilet seats pretty easily…). 

Others want to build their homes themselves to completely customize it for their wants and needs. 

Regardless of whether you're buying new or existing construction, keep in mind that those once-new items will eventually age, and curb appeal typically needs to be refreshed or replaced. What? You mean I’m telling you that owning a home takes work and upkeep?!

Yes. That is exactly what I want you to remember.

It isn’t all a big chore, though. To keep my front porch fresh, for instance, I opted to make a statement with some big black metal planters. About twice a year I replace the fading annuals or past-their-prime perennials with new plantings. This simple change refreshes the entire porch. Other simple ways to freshen up your curb appeal might be to add some seating & accent pillows. 

Everything Costs At Least $1,000

Have you ever heard anyone complain about the expense of owning a boat? One boat-owning friend told me that the word boat is actually not just a simple word— it’s an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. 

The same seems to be true for owning a home.

“Everything costs $1,000!” is a joke my husband, Josh, and I have going. Since we opted for a fixer upper we have found out why real estate is classified as an investment! Okay, so maybe some projects are less than $1k, but you can bet that most projects will cost more than you anticipated and will take longer than you wanted. 

To help keep projects and spending on track and prioritized, Josh and I have a “Honey Do” list that we share electronically with each other. We use it to track our upcoming tasks and wish list items for the house. Every time we learn the cost of something we’re considering we update the list. This helps us to budget appropriately and makes the process way more fun. 

Even if we had purchased brand new or built custom, eventually we would have projects or updates to do. Understanding up front at the time of purchase that home ownership costs more than just the down payment, monthly mortgage, and property taxes is super important. 

A good rule of thumb is to annually budget 1%-4% of the purchase price of your home for routine maintenance. On top of that, you need to consider the costs of any extra projects to update or upgrade items on your wish list. And the older the home is when you purchase it, the higher the amount you need to budget to spend.

But Fear Not...

I certainly hope none of this scares you away from owning a home. One of my values it keeping it real. I want to help people fulfill their home ownership dreams, but I also want to make sure they’re as prepared as possible.

Are you ready to dive in a little more deeply into seeing how ready you are, or explore the next steps to home ownership after Step Zero: Daydream? Download my helpful guide 6 Steps To Becoming A Homeowner and let’s get you on the path to home ownership!

All the best,

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Love the Place You Live

My green-on-green house before we started updating it.

Love the Place You Live

My green-on-green house before we started updating it.

Do you love the place you live? I have learned to love my current house, one project at a time, but it wasn’t always this way. I've not shared my home ownership journey with many people, but lets just say it has not all been smooth sailing. My hope is that no matter what your current circumstances are that my story might help you learn to love the place you live, too.

Our First Home

Call me crazy, but I felt driven to own real estate instead of rent when I was in my early 20s. 

Sure, it could have been from the fact that I grew up in the back of a real estate school but honestly, I never really wanted to be an agent when I was growing up. I really just wanted to own real estate because I knew the financial benefits, and I am naturally a driven person. So when I was a 19-year-old newlywed, and found out we were expecting our first baby, things got real! 

We hunted for what felt like forever and finally settled on a great little condo in Milton, WA. We were officially homeowners!

Back to Renters

That 2-bedroom townhouse condo felt so right at the beginning. That is, until baby #2 and the 2008 recession surprised us. Our perfect 2-bedroom turned into a too-small, drowning investment. We moved into a slightly larger rental home. and rented out our condo for quite a while. We hoped that the market would turn and that we would be able to sell for at least what we owed.

But when the identical  property next to to ours sold for $180,000 less than we owed, we knew we were in too deep. We reluctantly let our condo go back to the bank. We were officially no longer homeowners...

As hard as it was to allow that to happen, the empowering truth settled into my heart during that difficult season of life was that IT’S NOT A SIN TO BE A RENTER! 

After a few years the internal chatter about owning v. renting finally silenced, and I was in a really peaceful place. We were in a perfect location for us. The rental house was big enough for our needs, but still small enough to clean quickly. The landlord handled the yard maintenance, and the rent was so reasonable we were able to start saving some money again.  

Buyer's Itch

Even with all of that chaos behind us, about two years into our lease Josh started to get the buyer’s itch, and started window shopping for a house. I, however, was not ready to go down that path again. I had seen and learned so much since our 2008 experiences, and I was content where we were.

For the first time in my life I was happy with where I was physically positioned in the world. I had learned to be okay with the uncertainty of renting. My two babies were growing by the day, and the Trace Adkins song “You're Gonna Miss This” was constantly playing in my head. I knew we were in a precious season of life, and I just did not want to do anything to upset it, including moving! 

One morning I got a text message from Josh with a picture of a green-on-green house down the street from our rental. Even though Josh couldn’t make it to the showing, he insisted that I go check it out with my mom.

I did NOT love this green-on-green house, nicknamed "Minty House," at first sight!

While we went through the house I gave him a call. I let him know that it needed a lot of work. Although it had four of our five needs and wants, I did not think this was the place for us. 

Let’s just say that I was less than thrilled, but according to Josh’s numbers he knew exactly what we were willing to pay. And because of my housing background I knew exactly what our family needed. We ended up buying the place, dubbed “Minty House,” and we have been working on it ever since. Some projects have been more enjoyable than others, but all in all I am learning how to love this place, too.

Minty house not so green anymore, with my children playing on the expanded front porch.
Minty house is no longer green!

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the limiting beliefs I’ve wrestled with over the years--and learned to turn into empowering truths--while both renting and settling into a house I didn’t think I wanted:

  • Limiting belief #1: I don't deserve to be successful.
  • Empowering truth: Success is in the eye of the beholder and I am grateful for the opportunities I have.

 

  • Limiting belief #2: I’m stuck in a rut and can’t get out.
  • Empowering truth: My current circumstances do not define me.

 

  • Limiting belief #3: I can't share my excitement because others will think I’m boastful.
  • Empowering truth: The people that care about me will rejoice alongside me.

 

  • Limiting belief #4: There are just not enough hours in the day.
  • Empowering truth: Being intentional with my time and resources will help me achieve my goals.

 

  • Limiting belief #5: We’ll never be in our dream home.
  • Empowering truth: There are areas of joy in our home, and I am going to replicate them.

 

Looking for some inspiration on where to start making your home uniquely yours? Learning to love the place I live, even with it’s imperfections, will be a lifelong journey for me, but I created this fun fill-in-the-blank to help us narrow down what brings us joy. I encourage you to give it a try!

All the best,

6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes — Part 2

A grumpy baby looks as if he might have commited one of these six first time home buyer mistakes!

6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes— Part 2

Welcome back! To refresh your memory, last week I started a two-part blog post addressing the first three of six common first time home buyer mistakes that I see way too often. Those first three mistakes were:

1. Not knowing your budget
2. Not researching down payment programs
3. Working with a lender or agent who want to upsell

Now, let’s dive right back in to finish out the list, and get you one step closer to making the best home buying decision possible.

4. Becoming emotionally invested too soon

Any experienced home buyer understands it, that feeling when you walk into a house and your spidey-senses start to tingle: this is THE ONE. You love nearly everything about it, and your imagination starts to run away. 

You see that spot in the backyard that’s perfect for a playset for your growing family. The dining room that can hold a huge table just asks for you to have visions of hosting years and years of Thanksgiving meals. The kitchen with the dual ovens you’ve always dreamed of having... 

You know at that moment that you are Home with a capital H, and you’ll go to any lengths to make it yours.

But not so fast. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are a number of reasons that a specific property may end up not being right for you despite that love-at-first-sight feeling. There might be expensive structural issues not visible that are uncovered during the inspection process. There might be other buyers with deeper pockets. The house may excite your emotions but not actually have something that you previously stated was a priority for you, like an upstairs laundry room, or ample parking for your camper.

And if you put your heart before your head, you may end up making some poor decisions that are not to your benefit. 

A good real estate agent should help you manage those “but I want it!” emotions, but do your best to keep yourself in check, and you’ll thank yourself later.

5. Waiving the inspection

This first time home buyer mistake is often related to Mistake #4. Keep your feelings in check and pay for a thorough professional inspection to uncover any issues that you may not have seen at first glance. No matter how much you think you love a particular property, trust me, you do not want to be stuck with a bunch of unexpected structural issues and expenses!

You also may be tempted to waive the inspection if there are others competing with you for the property. Do not be tempted to forego the inspection just to get the sellers to move you to the top of the pile of offers. Even if the home looks to be in excellent condition with a cursory walk-through, it’s not worth the risk.

6. Messing with credit during the mortgage approval process

Oh, the heartache I’ve seen this cause. 

I’ll keep this short and simple.  From the moment you submit your mortgage application until you have signed all of your closing documents do not do any of the following:

  • Open a new credit card
  • Increase your credit card debt
  • Miss a payment due date
  • Take out a car loan
  • Co-sign a loan for someone else
  • Substantially decrease or pay off any debt without first talking to your lender (This seems counter-intuitive, I know, but credit usage plays a factor in your credit score, so check first. Always make your scheduled payments, of course.)

Basically, if something involves you borrowing money or will impact your credit score in any way, DO. NOT. DO. IT. If you do, your loan approval may be rescinded, and you may have to start the whole process over again from step one.

That’s it for now. I hope that highlighting these 6 first time home buyer mistakes helps you to steer clear of some serious potential pitfalls as you venture down your real estate journey. 

If you’re feeling hesitant about where to start on your first home buying journey, be sure to get your free Buyer’s Guide. It will help walk you through the process from beginning to end. 

Have you made any of these common mistakes? Or have you made mistakes that I should add to this list? I’d love to hear.

 

All the best,

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6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes — Part 1

 6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes— Part 1

Starting out on your first time home buyer journey?

You have probably already learned that the process can be overwhelming, which can sometimes lead to analysis paralysis. But don’t fret.  I’ve got your back!

Perhaps you’re a novice real estate shopper. Or maybe you have an investor’s drive. If you're looking to make your real estate journey as simple as possible, you're in the right place. This week and next I’ll be covering six common first time home buyer mistakes, and addressing how to avoid them.

Let's dive into the first three:

1. Not knowing your budget

In my years of serving clients, I have seen it time and time again: someone calls asking to be shown a property, or asking for help in finding a house in my area. When I ask them what they have for a budget, I get either silence or stammers, followed by some version of “I’m not sure” or “I haven’t thought about it yet.”

Well, I’m here to tell you: no one else knows your budget better than you.

I’m not talking about what you think you can spend, or relying on some article or quick online calculator. I mean sit down and look at the nitty gritty numbers of your income, spending, and savings patterns. Talk with a lender or financial advisor about your long-term plans and how home ownership fits within them. Understand all of the expenses that come with owning and buying a home, and know that you can handle them when it is time to write the checks.

That truly is the best place to start.

2. Not researching down payment programs

Down payments used to be much more simple. Banks wanted 20% down, and when you had that you got approved for a mortgage, shopped for a home in your budget, signed on the dotted line, and got the keys to your new place.

Now there are so many down payment programs out there, and they all fit circumstances differently. Historically high home values mean that it’s actually pretty rare for someone to come to the table with 20% down. This is especially true for first time home buyers. Working with a trusted lender is so important because they can help you understand all of your options, and the pros and cons that come with each.

3. Working with a lender or agent who want to up sell

Years ago, McDonald’s started their “Super Size Me” marketing program. Every time they sold a combo meal, the cashier was to ask the customer if they wanted to Super Size their meal to a large fry and drink. Studies showed that when people were asked this question, more often than not they did upgrade to the larger, more expensive meal.

Who exactly did this up sell benefit, I ask you? The customer? Nope. (If you’re not sure about this answer, check out the documentary, "Super Size Me").

It only benefited, McDonald’s, of course. The customer didn’t ask for a large drink and fry, so they obviously didn’t step to the counter with that size of hunger in their belly. They purchased the bigger meal because they were presented with the option to purchase it. As a result they got more food than they needed and spent more money than they intended to spend.

Some real estate agents and lenders operate the same way.

You come to their figurative counter with a desire--and a budget--for a home that suits your needs. Then they start asking you if you want to Supersize it. They may take you to houses out of your budget or show you features you never knew you wanted, or encourage you to stretch your budget beyond what you know you can spend.  Before you know it you can’t tell your wants from your needs, and you spend more than you were planning.

Not sure what to look for in an agent to begin with? Check out my post, 5 Important questions for some good questions to ask yourself and your potential agents.

Remember, I have three more critical mistakes for you to avoid, so be sure to check out next week’s blog post for Part 2 of this post.

In the meantime, if you’ve been wondering what your next step should be, download your free Buyer’s Guide today!

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All the best,

Why Fall & Winter are the Best Time to Buy a Home

Fall and winter can be the best time to buy a home to realize substantial savings.

Why Fall & Winter are the Best Time to Buy a Home

Fall and winter can be the best time to buy a home to realize substantial savings.I am often asked, “When is the best time to buy a home?”

First and foremost, I want to be clear that the best time to buy is when you can afford it. With that being said, I consider fall and winter to be the best time to buy for one big reason: Money! 

Read on to find out why the fall and winter are great times to capture some savings.  

Sellers are more motivated

The sellers that listed their property too high in the summer are now creeping into the fall season with new inventory nipping at their heels. This can often make them more motivated to sell.

Find a house that has been on the market for 90+ days and you may reap huge savings. Some buyers think there must be something wrong with a property that has been sitting on the market for that long. The fact is it was probably listed it too high to begin with! This type of listing is a perfect candidate for a strategic offer.

You can see the issues

When the rain is here, and the snow is knocking on the door, you will be able to see issues that may not have appeared during the drier seasons.

During the spring and summer, it can be easy to get distracted by the beautiful landscaping and look over some of the structural issues. Things like broken window sills, issues with mold, water damage, and any sort of roof problems will be much easier to spot during the fall and winter, which can save you a lot of headaches and money later on.

Home decor is on sale

More likely than not, there will be some improvements or amenities you’ll want to add to your new home.

Appliances, TV’s, security systems, and all sorts of other discounts are easily found during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. September is the best time to get a great value on new carpet. Outdoor equipment, such as lawn mowers, is typically on sale in October. The best time to buy appliances is in November. January brings fantastic sales on home organization supplies.

Regardless of when and if you decide to buy a home, it’s important to do plenty of research before you make a purchase. Check out my free Buyer’s Guide below to see all the information you need to take the next step. 

Did you buy a home in the fall or winter? If so, let us know what your experience was in the comments below.

All the best!

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Live on a Budget: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned

Hands counting cash as if evaluating if they have the funds in their budget for a purchase

3 Tips to Live on a Budget

Hands counting cash as if evaluating if they have the funds in their budget for a purchaseI want to take a minute to talk to my younger self about her spending habits. I want to tell her to ignore the curated images of social media influencers, and to stop browsing the Pinterest boards of seasonal fashion styles and home decor. To ignore that pull to keep up with trends, and to instead save her money. To stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, to take advantage of the time she has to save (compound interest anyone?!), and to live on a budget. 

Budget. 

I know that word can seem scary. It sounds like going without, and sometimes that is exactly what it means.  But it also means security for the future. And trust me, young Carmen, that is what you want.   

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too!

Before I dive in to some financial lessons I’ve learned that have changed my relationship with money--and got me to think very differently about living on a budget--I want to say this: there are so many resources out there to guide you on how to live on a budget.  If you don't have a budget and need guidance on how to start, I’d encourage you to check out Rachel Cruze. She has a lot of money saving hacks and very fun videos to help inspire you.  

Now, some of my own biggest financial lessons that help me live on a budget:

Floor Space is Money

Anxiety from my cluttered house hit me hard about 14 months ago.  As I looked around I realized that all this stuff used to be money! Not only had I paid for my possessions when I first purchased them, I continued to pay for them every month in floor space.  

Yep, I did the math and realized that I was literally paying in price-per-square foot each month to store all of my stuff, stuff that was causing my family anxiety and needless work. Finally, after five times (Yes. Five times.) of reading the Marie Kondo’s Joy of Tidying Up, the lessons started to sink in. 

Think about your floor space as if you were paying price per square foot, because guess what: YOU ARE! Home prices and rental rates are calculated on a price per square foot basis, so the more stuff you have, the bigger space you need, and the more you pay.

And it’s not just your living space. Have you seen all of the storage facilities going up? Even though the average home square footage has increased over the last 50 years, we have more stuff than ever before, and a lot of us are willing to pay to store it. 

There is nothing wrong with having a storage unit or having fun things, but I challenge you to rehome anything you have stored that you haven't used at least once in the last 12 months. Think about your purchases from here on out in terms of floor space.  Live with less clutter, and you’ll save money.

Calculate Purchases in Time, Not Money

We have all heard the phrase “Time is money.”  It’s a cliche but it is absolutely true. Unless you are independently wealthy and living on a trust fund, you trade your time for money. That’s what a job is--an exchange of your time for currency. 

Therefore, when you spend the money you have earned at work, you are indirectly trading your time for an item or experience.  So do the math. How many hours of your time are you trading to have this new pair of shoes? How long did you have to work last month to pay for those concert tickets? Is that new jacket really worth one full day of work?  

Set your priorities, and spend your money--and your time--only on what really matters to you. 

For everything else that really doesn’t matter to you, either pass on the purchase or, if you must have it, find ways to get it cheaper. Generic products cost an average of 30% less than brand-name products, and often have the same quality as name brands.  For instance, Kirkland Signature batteries, the generic brand at Costco, are made by Duracell! And if generic brand medicine is good enough for 90% of pharmacists and doctors, then they are good enough for me, too.

Dream Big & Save Big

A while back I had a client who lived a very modest life. Simple clothes, unassuming car. There was nothing flashy about him. 

He was also investing in real estate with cold, hard cash, and getting a huge savings because of it. 

He told me that the key to having a liquid savings account is to put money into my savings account before I pay anything or anyone else. Pay yourself first. This mindset, and modest living, helped him save big and achieve his dreams.

And you can bet that he did so with a budget.  A budget lets you turn big dreams into reality. 

What are some of your big dreams? Do you have a budget that works to help you achieve them? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

If one of your big dreams involves buying or selling a home, let’s chat!

And if you're budget game is already on point and you're ready to start the Buying process, be sure to download my Buyer's Guide below for all the information you need to know about the buying process.

All the best,

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

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5 Winter Garden Tips to Prepare for a Beautiful Spring

Bulbs begin to erupt from the soil in a late winter garden

5 Winter Garden Tips to Prepare for a Beautiful Spring

Bulbs begin to erupt from the soil in a late winter gardenIt's not unusual for someone to ask me about my yard. If you haven't learned by now, I'll let you in on the secret: I LOVE to garden! One thing I am asked about a lot is what to do in the yard each season.  So today I'm revealing some of my tricks. Read on for my five easy tips to prepare your winter garden beds for a beautiful spring.

Oh, and don't forget to grab your copy of the downloadable checklist I've created just for you!

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too!

1. Prune

Plants like hostas, delphinium, lupine, and other slug attractors should be cut down all the way to the ground so that the slugs can't lay eggs under the leaves. You'll also want to prune back any diseased tree limbs. However, pruning perennials such as ornamental grasses, lilac, and fruit trees should typically be reserved for the spring.

A flower bed filled with late-summer growth, ready for a winter prune.

2. Prevent Weed Germination

Weeding is not nearly as fun as harvesting. Use products like Organic Preen for a natural and organic way to prevent weed seed germination. Once our garden beds are pruned back, I sprinkle a decent amount on the bare soil to prevent any crabgrass, dandelions, clover, and other common weeds from germinating. I also sprinkle a layer of it on top of newly laid mulch.

3. Mulch

A lot of bulbing plants and flowers will die back over the winter. If you want these beautiful plants to return better than when you originally planted them, cut back the dying part, and then cover them with a thin layer of leaves. Adding too much could cause rot, so I like to gather the fallen leaves from our neighborhood and tuck my plants in for the winter. This will protect them from the frost.

A flower bed that has had its pre-winter pruning and mulch to be set for a beautiful spring.

4. Fertilize

Cut your lawn for the last time until next spring, and lay some slow release fertilizer. This will feed the grass throughout the winter and make it ready to start growing strong again first thing in the spring.

5. Plant

The PNW can be tricking for planting. Bulbs are an economical way to go, and a lot of them can be planted in the fall/early winter in order for the roots to set. Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and garlic are the perfect bulbs to plant right now for an early spring crop.

You can find all of these materials at your local nursery.  If you’re in the Pierce County area, check out one of my all time favorite nurseries, Watson’s in Puyallup. 

None of these tasks are difficult or expensive, and they will help you be ahead of the game and prepare you for a beautiful spring.  

Do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear them.

Download your FREE Checklist of my easy Winter Garden Tips, and be on your way to a beautiful spring today! 

All the best!

If I Had to Do It All Over Again, Here’s What I Would Do

A duplex home is the ideal first real estate purchase.

If I Had to Do It All Over Again, Here's What I Would Do

A duplex home is the ideal first real estate purchase.Life and time have a way of sneaking away from us. The older we get, the faster it seems to go, am I right? Hindsight is 20/20, and for the most part I love our life and have been happy with a lot of the choices we’ve made along the way--but one big mistake keeps me up at night: 

WE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A DUPLEX!

Duplexes are like a diamond in the rough and can be really difficult to come by, but oh, man…that rental income slipped through our hands like sand, and I am determined to help as many people avoid the same mistake as possible. 

First we need to clarify some definitions: 

A single-family residence is a structure that is used as a single dwelling unit. Good examples of this would be a residential house, a condominium, or a townhome. 

A multifamily dwelling is housing where multiple families/people can inhabit the same building or several buildings all within one complex.

A duplex is the ideal first purchase. Why? Because the down payment percentage for a single-family house is the same as it would be if you were to purchase and reside in a multifamily property. You will need to speak with your trusted lender to get more details on the financing. 

Long story short, you can buy property that you pay 100% of the mortgage for, or you can buy a property where a tenant can reside in the second unit and cover a large portion of the mortgage.

Some people struggle with the idea of becoming a landlord or living so closely to someone else, but for a fun way to find out what kind of real estate you should purchase, I’d encourage you to take my fun quiz HERE. 

If you’d like to chat more about the pros and cons of owning--and living in--a multifamily property, let me know

Secrets To A Stress Free Halloween

Secrets To A Stress Free Halloween

 

I bet no one told you when you were a kid that becoming an adult might take the fun out of some of your favorite celebrations. Take Halloween for example. I mean, there are so many decisions! Will you celebrate the Harvest, Día de los Muertos, or keep it classic with just good ol’ Halloween? Where should you go? How old is too old for trick-or-treating? What will everyone wear? What if it rains? Being the adult in charge of costumes, candy, decorations, and what and how to celebrate--it’s all so much work! 

This is definitely not the most serious of posts but I want to let you in on a few secrets that I have used to have a stress free October 31st.

STAY HOME & HAVE A PARTY

There are so many wonderful events happening on Oct 31st that just weren't around when we were kids. The mall has some great candy stations. Churches, and even many schools, offer Harvest Parties or sweets to the cuties that dress up.

As for me and my house, though, we opt to stay home and have a party. Nothing lavish: just chili in a crock pot, music, and friends around our fire table. It’s so much more fun and relaxing for us than running from event to event. There are also still kiddos in the neighborhood who want to trick-or-treat, and if no one is home to answer the door and hand out candy, what would they do?! No kiddos will leave our house with a frown.

FIND EASY, INEXPENSIVE COSTUMES

When our kids were little, I bought all the costumes and loved having them for the kids to wear throughout the year. As we have all gotten older I’ve decided that spending money for a single-use item does not make sense anymore. Check out the sweet outfit I put together last year in the image above. Truth be told, I was wearing most of that before I added the baby and coffee mug. This will probably be my go-to from now on, making my Halloween costume prep that much easier for years.  Find things around the house to repurpose into a costume. Challenge the kids to do the same!

JUST BUY THE BIG BAG OF CANDY

For real. This one isn't complicated. I used to turn to Pinterest each year to find cute and creative ways to package treats. I am sure that some of the kids really did appreciate the extra effort, but it was so much more stressful for me! I now realize that it was not the best use of my time, and I gladly head to Costco each year to buy the big bags of candy now.  Afterall, the candy is what the kids are really after, not an over-the-top presentation. Keep it simple. Just hand out the candy, and everyone will be happy.

Remember, the point of these types of events is not to cause us more stress--they are supposed to be fun ways for us to come together to celebrate.

So feel free to steal my “secrets,” and regardless of how you celebrate or what you call it, from mine to yours:

Happy HalloVestMuertos! 

Share your fun costumes ideas below.

Oh, and if you’re thinking you might want to host a party of your own next year, and need some new digs in which to do it, let’s talk.  I know how to help minimize that stress, too!

If you're wanting to know where to begin with becoming a homeowner, get my 6 steps guide and learn what it takes to achieve your Real Estate goals & invest in your future.

How To Prepare Your Property For Winter

How To Prepare Your Property For Winter

 

I know, I know--it’s barely October, and here I am talking about winter. But real estate is a big investment, and it’s important to maintain it properly. The fact of the matter is that some projects, like interior painting, can be fun and optional; other projects may not be very fun, but they are critical, and they can become way more expensive or difficult to complete in rainy, damp, or even snowy weather. 

The best way to stay on top of your pre-winter maintenance is first to know what actually needs to be done BEFORE the cold weather hits. Here are the most common, but important, tasks you’ll want to handle this fall, before Old Man Winter comes knocking.

SERVICE YOUR HEAT SOURCE

We all want to stay warm and cozy in our homes during the chilly winter days, but what if your heat source gives out in the middle of a storm? What if you wait until the last minute, and all of the HVAC pros are twice as expensive and booked out for weeks?

Before the cold days are upon us, I highly suggest you get your heat source cleaned, checked, and ready to bring the warmth.  This goes for all types of systems. It doesn’t matter if you have a wood stove or a heat pump, or anything in between--for peace of mind and financial savings get it serviced before you have a problem.

CHECK THE SHEATHING & SIDING

If you go up into your attic or roof crawl space and look up, you will see wood.  That is the underside of the sheathing, the boards to which your roofing material is attached. If that wood has discoloration of any kind, your roof needs to be looked at by a professional. If there are moisture spots, you may need to have the roof patched. If there is anything white or black, you’ll also need to contact a mold remediation company. The more comfortable you are with your attic space, the more keen your eye will be to any changes before they become big problems.

Just like roofing, your siding--the material that covers the outside walls of a building--is generally attached to wood sheaths.  We have a lot of moisture in Washington State, so sooner or later some wood is bound to rot. Make sure any wood that is exposed to the elements is treated in some way. Some options for treatments are water-borne preservatives, oil-borne preservatives, and light organic solvent preservatives. Caulk gaps or cracks in composite or wood siding, and properly joint any metal or vinyl siding to stop moisture from seeping underneath.  Any soft or rotting wood should be treated or replaced ASAP! This is not typically something that can be done in the wetter seasons, so tending to this task as early in the fall--or even in the summer--is very important for the maintenance of your real estate investment. 

Other external wood material, such as decking, pergolas, or arbors, should also be inspected for rot or damage.  Repair and properly seal these items now to avoid bigger, more expensive repairs next spring.

CLEAN GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS

Whether or not you have trees on your property, you will still want to check your gutters every fall. Debris can get stuck in your gutters and cause water damage to the underlying material. While cleaning, also check for cracks, and look at the bottom of the downspouts for any pooling water that does not quickly and easily drain away from the building; you may need to place splash blocks or diverters in problem areas.  If you attend to your gutter system once a year, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it is ready to do its job in the rainy season.

WINTERIZE WATER SOURCES

Damage caused by broken plumbing is often avoidable. Properly caring for water pipes varies a great deal, but here in the beautiful PNW pipe insulation is usually the best way to go. Securly cover your exterior faucets with a plastic or styrofoam faucet cover to keep your pipes from freezing or bursting.  Insulating interior piping, like in the garage, is also a good idea. Oh, and don’t forget that irrigation system! Be sure to drain it properly at the end of the watering season to head off leaks in the yard when the ground freezes.

Hope this was helpful,