How to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind

How to buy or sell real estate without losing your mind

How to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind

Child with cape holding umbrella to shield themself from rain

Selling or buying real estate can come with a lot of headaches. Those headaches can quickly turn into a real migraine once you start thinking about the laundry list of “To-Do’s”. I’m dedicated to guiding you through how to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind.

It IS a lot of work to get top dollar when selling. Knowing where to start can be super overwhelming if you don't do this every day... But we do. The truth is that overwhelm does not need to be apart of the process. I want to completely eliminate the overwhelm and frustration of selling your property and/or buying your new home. Let’s create a plan that will help you save thousands of dollars and eliminate the headache of reaching your goal.

Three steps to eliminating overwhelm: 

1- Analyze your goals

2- Create a custom strategy

3- Execute and see results

Analyze your goals

No one knows your circumstances better than you. What is it that you want? Ideally, where will you be once this transaction is done? Why are you wanting to make this move? How will you know which property is THE property? The general market affects the value of your real estate investment and your specific goals should be taken into consideration too. 

Understanding and writing down your needs and wants is the best way to assure you stay on track. There are a lot of questions to ask when selling and buying a new home so knowing how to filter through the questions to find which will actually move the needle is important.

Honestly assess your answers to these questions and use your answers to create a clear path forward in Step 2. If it’s difficult for you to answer those questions then I would suggest speaking to a licensed agent that you trust. 

Create a custom strategy

Once you know what your overall goals are, how will you get there? What is your next action item? First and foremost, find a real estate professional you can trust to guide. A custom timeline that is created around your specific goals will give you the leverage to get what you want, where you want, and for the price you want. Here are some key prompts to creating your strategy:

Execute and see results

After you have your strategy, this is where it gets real. Your agent will use the road map you designed in Step 2 to start curating properties to present to you. Once you have chosen a property on which to make an offer, your agent should go to bat for you to get you the home. Once an offer is accepted, they will walk with you through the paperwork.

Your real estate agent should be your advocate so working with someone you trust who can help guide you is so important. 

All the best,

Carmen Neal Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

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How Time Works In Real Estate

Real Estate time

How Time Works In Real Estate

real estate time

Misunderstanding how time works in real estate can cost BIG! 

One hour late and you could lose your earnest money AND the property. How time works during a real estate transaction is different than how time works in our day to day lives so I’m breaking it down in bite-sized pieces and a fun pop-quiz. 

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned seller, you’ll want to know how time works in a real estate transaction, including facts such as: 

  • Any period of time starts on the day following the event commencing the period.
  • Time periods of 5 days or less do not include weekends or legal holidays.
  • Time periods of more than 5 days include weekends and legal holidays.
  • Time periods end at 9:00 pm on the last day of the specified period.
  • If the last day of the time period is on a weekend or a legal holiday, it moves to the next day that is not a weekend or legal holiday.
  • Time periods are not delayed by a missing legal description; time periods begin from the date of mutual acceptance.

Since we all love a good story, let’s look at how these rules apply to our friends John & Jane’s homebuying experience. 

On Friday, January 3rd, John, and Jane submitted an offer on their dream home. It was accepted the same day! Their timeline was tight since they only had 5 days to conduct their inspection, so they were eager to get started. The inspection was done on Thursday the 11th and we gave our response back to the seller on Friday the 12th.

Using the rules listed above see if you can answer these three questions: 

  1. When was day one of the time period? 
  2. Did John and Jane give their inspection response to the seller within the allotted time period?
  3. When was the latest time and day they could have given their response back to the seller?

How did you do?

 

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

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Home Buying for Beginners

Home Buying for Beginners

Home Buying for Beginners

Are you familiar with the cooking concept of "mise en place"? Literally translated, it means to set in place. It means that before they start to cook, a good chef does all the prep work. They check their ingredients and cooking tools, and they know they have everything needed in the recipe. They take the time to properly thaw the meat, wash the produce, measure the seasonings, and dice the onions—all before the pan is ever put over the heat. A good chef understands that mise en place, or proper preparation, is key to getting the results they desire, and they don't skip ahead. They assess and prepare, and then they cook. Home buying for beginners should follow the same concept.

Preparation is the key to success when making your first investment in real estate. And one of the biggest ways to prepare is to educate yourself on the home buying process itself. Know the steps involved to purchase real estate before you start to shop.

So with that in mind, I'd like to walk you through the six basic steps of the home buying process.

1. Review your budget.

In the cooking analogy, reviewing your budget is sort of like checking the freezer and the pantry to see what you have to work with, before finalizing what you will cook. For instance, you can't make prime rib without a rib roast. So if all you find in the freezer is chicken, you will either need to head to the store for more supplies, or you will have to change your recipe.

Such is the budget in the home buying process. You need to review what is realistic for your real estate purchase based on your income, savings, and goals. I recommend you speak to a lender early in the process to see what you have to work with, and then move on to step 2.

2. Narrow down your list. 

Sit down and identify your top 5 needs and wants. Only you know what is a must-have for you in a property, and every situation is different. This step is a good time to talk with a trusted agent who specializes in properties in the neighborhood (as I do for the Fife-Milton-Edgewood area). They can guide you as you whittle down your list, based on your budget and specific situations. Once they know what you're looking for, your agent can begin to show you properties.

3. Submit and negotiate the offer.

After you've picked a property that you want, it's time to make an offer. The terms of the offer will vary, and your agent or attorney should walk you through all of the details. Don't be afraid to ask questions! It's also not uncommon for sellers to make a counter-offer, so some back and forth may occur. Once the buyer and seller agree on the terms, it's called "going mutual," and it means that you, my friend, are well on your way to buying a house. But wait, there's more!

4. Inspection day.

I recommended that buyers get an inspection on any property they are looking to purchase. Your agent can connect you with a local home inspector, so that you have a detailed report of the condition of the property. Your offer may or may not be contingent upon the inspection. Talk to your agent or attorney about how to proceed and utilize the inspection report, based upon the terms of your specific purchase and sale agreement.

5. Finalize contingencies.

Contingencies are the details in your agreement, like an inspection or selling another house to free up funds for a down payment, that may impact the terms of the agreement. Again, your agent or attorney should walk you through your specific contract, and again, ask questions! Once all contingencies are dealt with, the next step is to...

6. Close and get those keys!

Closing is when all of the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Once everything is signed, you'll be handed the keys. Congratulations! You've just purchased your first real estate investment.

 

Real estate and housing choices shape our daily lives and future, and wise real estate purchases have the power to improve your future. Our team members are passionate about helping you leverage real estate to fulfill your current needs, in addition to building financial security for your future. Home buying for beginners can be overwhelming, so give us a call to help you cut through the confusion and meet your goals. And be sure to sign up to receive my FREE Buyers Guide below!

 

CARMEN WILL HELP YOU:

1. Analyze your goals  2. Create a custom strategy  3. Execute the strategy so that you see results!

All the best,

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How Covid-19 is Impacting Real Estate

How is Covid-19 impacting real estate?

How COVID-19 is Impacting Real Estate

How is COVID-19 impacting real estate

2020 started out as a prosperous and hopeful year in so many ways, particularly in the real estate industry. The spring market arrived early, and real estate was hot! Now, though, we are forced to pivot to the big question of the moment: how is Covid-19 impacting real estate?

It’s presence impacts every single person on the planet. First of all, regardless of how this stinker is affecting you, I am sorry. I am especially sorry if you’ve lost a loved one, or have had to nurse someone through this sometimes aggressive illness. I’m sorry if your business is hanging on by a thread, or you have had to file for unemployment. I'm just sorry. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix it all. I really do.

However, I also want to offer some hope and encouragement to you, specifically regarding your real estate investments. The future of the market is uncertain, but there are some positive signs. And even when the questions are hard, there are options and I am here to help.

Here are the answers to three questions that have been asked of me a lot in recent days, with some links for further reading if you’d like to learn more. 

1. How has the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order impacted the real estate sales process?

Real Estate services are considered essential in Washington State. What this means is that although open houses and overlapping showings are suspended for the time being, all other real estate services are still permitted in accordance with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has put out a very informative release with more details on specific actions that can and cannot occur during the shut down, and you can view that here.

The bottom line is that real estate transactions are still moving, with just a few adjustments and accommodations to the ways we show houses and handle in-person contact.

2. How is the market reacting to the pandemic and the Stay Home Orders?

I'm not going to lie: it's a mixed bag.

Nationally, new listings are down 27% compared to the first week of April of last year. However, in the Seattle region listings are up 2.6%. In our area, people are continuing to sell homes!

Yet, the signs are there that the market is slowing down. Averaged over the past couple of years, when the local market has been HOT, only about 1 out of 5 homes sat on the market more than a month. But right now, it's closer to 2 out of 5 homes. So sellers should expect to wait a few weeks longer to sell their houses. So far, though, with over 60% of homes selling within a month of listing, the market is still moving along. That's not too shabby.

I don't have a crystal ball, though. There are still so many unknowns about not just the virus itself, but about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate and the economy at large. So my advice to someone asking me if it's a good time to sell, or a good time to buy, remains the same as it always is: the right time to buy/sell real estate is when it's the right time for YOU to buy/sell real estate.

It is such a personal decision, and I won't give a one-size-fits-all answer. That's not honest or authentic to who I am. So if you have a question specific to your situation, please reach out to me. I don't sell real estate—I help people through real estate transactions. So if it's not going to help you to buy or sell right now, I'll totally say that. But if you're positioned well for it, let's do it!

3. I am having trouble paying my bills right now. What should I do about my mortgage?

Okay, this is a heavy question, but it is reality for a lot of people right now. If this is you, first take a breath. I know this seems scary. You may or may not know that my husband and I lost our first home to foreclosure due to the 2008 crash. So I mean it when I say that I know what you're feeling, and I also know that this too shall pass.

Now that you've taken a breath here's what I would do: I'd Immediately call the bank that holds my mortgage and ask about forbearance option. The silver lining right now is that more than one out of twenty mortgage borrowers have been granted a pause on their monthly mortgage payments.

You should consider talking to your attorney about what's best for you.

Bonus Question: I don't feel well, but still need to view homes because we're on a time crunch to move. What do I do?

Please take care of yourself and stay home. We can figure out a way to get this done without you risking your health or that of others. Virtual tools and walk-throughs are a great option. I’ve taken a few clients on walk-throughs of houses using video calling. While Covid-19 is impacting real estate for sure, nearly every aspect of real estate transactions can be conducted virtually, if need be. And for those that can't, such as the inspection, if you can't be there I will be.

So, if you are not feeling well you should assess your symptoms, then call your doctors office to consult about next steps. The CDC has a helpful page about what to do if you are sick.  Once we all come out on the other side of this virus we will need to hit the ground running to keep our economy strong, but first things first… stay home, stay healthy.

Final Thoughts...

As we all continue to walk through this surreal time, I urge you to look outward and find ways to encourage those around you, whatever that may look like. In recent days, I am drawn to this John Wesley quote now more than ever:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

If you have any other questions about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate, just general real estate questions, or questions specific to your situation, I am available! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

All the best,

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How to Buy Real Estate without Losing Your Mind

My husband and I know how to buy real estate without losing our minds, and you can, too!

How to Buy Real Estate without Losing Your Mind

My husband and I know how to buy real estate without losing our minds, and you can, too!
After decades of experience, including as home buyers ourselves with my husband Josh, I know exactly what it takes to stay sane when buying real estate!

Listen, buying real estate can come with a lot of liability and risk. We all know that. But wise real estate purchases also have the power to positively shape your future! Real estate is my passion, and even more so it is my goal to make real estate as simple as possible. So here is my bullet-proof list of steps to take to buy real estate without losing your mind!

1. Analyze your goals

No one knows your circumstances better than you. What is it that you want from your real estate purchase, and what features do you need in a property? What is your budget? What are your communication expectations for and with your real estate agent, and what is your ideal timeline to complete your transaction? Honestly assess your answers to these questions, and use your answers to create a clear path forward in Step 2.

2. Create a custom strategy

Once you know what your overall goals are, how will you get there? What is your next action item? First and foremost, find a real estate professional you can trust to guide you through with transparency and strong ethics. They should be able to help you design the rest of your house-hunting strategy to give you the leverage to get what you want, where you want, for the price you want. “Hire a good agent!” is the absolute biggest tip I can give you to be able to buy real estate without losing your mind.Some points you will want to discuss with your agent before shopping are:

      • Your budget and how much room, if any, you have to wiggle on price
      • Your status in the mortgage approval process
      • Your target neighborhoods
      • Your target home style & specific features on which you will not compromise
      • Your timeline for purchasing

3. Execute and see results

After you have your strategy, this is where it gets real. Your agent will use the road map you designed in Step 2 to start curating properties to present to you. Once you have chosen a property on which to make an offer, your agent should go to bat for you to get you the home. Once an offer is accepted, they will coach you through the negotiations, inspections, and additional paperwork that may be required by your lender. 

Throughout the entire process, they should be available to consult with you at any point when (not if…) you have any questions about the buying process. Consider your agent to be your Real Estate Coach & Advocate.

CARMEN WILL HELP YOU:

1. Analyze your goals  2. Create a custom strategy  3. Execute the strategy so that you see results!

As you can tell, most of these steps boil down to one thing: hiring a great agent. With the right person on your side, you will be well on your way to buying real estate without losing your mind.

To learn more and start your real estate journey off on the right foot, request your free Buyer's Guide today!

All the best,

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3 Steps to Stay on Budget

My husband and me, seen here during a family photo shoot a few years back, have found that one of the keys to a strong marriage is our mutual commitment to stay on budget!

Stay on Budget with These 3 Steps!

My husband and me, seen here during a family photo shoot a few years back, have found that one of the keys to a strong marriage is our mutual commitment to stay on budget!

Ever wonder how some people seem to be able to stay on budget and make money multiply, while others can’t seem to save a dime? No matter your income or economic status, money is an important tool and resource. Just like any other tool or resource, it has to be used and managed properly for it to serve its purpose. 

If you have a goal to buy your first home, take a vacation, or learn to live within your means and get out of debt, your first step must be to live on a budget. I know, it’s hard! But here are my three steps to stay on budget and meet your personal finance goals.  

1. Track

Tracking your spending is the biggest piece of the budget puzzle. You have to know where your money is going, or you don’t have a budget. If you aren’t doing it already, track every single penny you spend for a month. 

The point of this exercise is to identify areas for improvement in your spending habits. Everyone has an area that seems to make their money evaporate more quickly than others. I have a friend that once had to ban herself from shopping at Target for a long while, because it became very clear to her after tracking her spending that she did not have the willpower to walk through the store and not overspend.

Once you have tracked for a full month, you should have a better idea of where your money is going. To stay on budget, you should continue to track and categorize your spending. However, instead of doing it to identify money drains, you will be doing it to be sure the right categories are being funded and maintained according to your goals.

2. Automate

The second step to stay on budget is to automate as much as you can. Put recurring bills on auto-pay. That way you don’t have to take the time to think about whether or not you forgot to pay something.

In addition to setting up bills on auto-pay, automate your savings, too. The classic advice to “pay yourself first” is a lot easier to follow if you set it up to happen automatically. If you are paid via direct deposit, most employers allow you to split your paycheck deposit between two accounts, so have some money going straight to savings. If you don’t have direct deposit, you should still be able to set up automatic transfers with your bank.

3. Optimize

The whole point of tracking and automating is to optimize your money. Basically, that’s just a fancy way of saying make it work for YOU! How do you do that?

Well, there are the obvious (and smart!) answers, like funding investment accounts. If you are lucky enough to have a retirement savings program at work with an employer match, that should be a no-brainer for you. Don’t leave free money on the table!

Real estate investing is, of course, another way to optimize your money. In the long run, real estate is a great way to build wealth, even if you never have any interest in being a landlord and just purchase your own home and position is to maximize appreciation. 

But to invest in mutual funds, stocks, real estate—even just buy your own home—all of that takes money up front and on a regular basis, right? So it all goes back to budgeting…

There are some great tools out there that help you stay on budget. I am not going to cover them all here, except to say to pick a tool/system and work it! This article has a great round up of current online programs and apps. When it comes to the logistics of managing money, what works for one person may not work for someone else. 

But what always works? Track. Automate. Optimize. Don’t work for money--make your money work for you!

Are you thinking about how to put your money to work by jumping into real estate by buying your first home or investment property? Download my Buyer’s Guide below, and contact me today to discuss how I can help you reach your goals!

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All the best,

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,

6 Questions Every First Time Home Buyer

6 Questions Every First Time Home Buyer Must Answer

You’ve been dreaming of a home of your own for a long time. You’ve stalked the online listing sites. You might have even popped into an open house or two to kill some time on a lazy Saturday afternoon. And now you think you are ready to join the first time home buyer ranks. Well, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Answer these six first time home buyer questions to make sure you are prepared.

 1. How much can we afford?

This is most important of the questions every first time home buyer should ask. I wish money weren’t an issue, and we all had everything we needed and maybe even wanted. But we don’t. Everyone comes to the table with a unique set of financial circumstances, so you have to figure out what you can realistically afford before you sign a representation agreement with a buyer’s agent. 

Don’t rely on online calculators. Meet with an experienced, ethical lender as soon as you think you might want to consider purchasing in the near future, even a year or more out. They will help you understand the expectations for credit scores, income requirements, and down payments. 

There is also more to buying a house than considering the mortgage payment. A good lender or financial advisor should guide you towards making a sound financial decision when it comes to making your first foray into real estate.

Don’t shop for a home until you’ve taken this step.

2. Do we qualify for VA, USDA, or FHA loan programs?

Often the down payment is the biggest hurdle to home ownership for a first time buyer. 

The same lender that you meet with to discuss your budget should also be able to explain the various types of loans available to you. In a nutshell, VA, USDA, and FHA loan programs are designed to make home ownership more accessible, generally through reduced down payments, for buyers in very specific situations. Each program has restrictions around income, credit scores, and even property location, so consulting a good lender is necessary to help you weed through them to see what options might be right for you if you are ready to buy but coming up short on the down payment. 

3. Do we have enough savings in case something goes wrong?

I know, I sound like a broken record, but truly, considering the financial aspects of home buying is really Step Zero on the path to home ownership. They have to be thought through, or you may find yourself in a bad situation down the road.

Look at your assets. After you hand over the down payment, will you have enough money in the bank to cover the expected and unexpected maintenance and repairs that come with home ownership? What about if you lose your job or someone in your family is diagnosed with a serious illness a few months after closing? Do you have the funds in savings to get through an emergency and stay current on your bills?

I have seen all of these situations, and more. Prepare for them before you buy. 

4. What are our priorities in a new home? 

So you have your financial ducks in a row. You know what you can afford to spend, what type of loan programs are best for you—and ideally have been pre-approved for a loan—and you know you will still have a cushion for emergencies. Now you can start shopping, right?

Nope, not so fast.

Before you set up viewing appointments with your agent, determine your needs and wants for a home. Prioritize them, and determine what you can compromise about and what is a deal breaker for you. No one else can tell you what’s best, so take some time to determine these before you start the hunt.

I’ve created a pretty printable for you to download. Use it to record your needs and wants in order of priority, and carry with you as you look at properties to keep your focus on what matters to you! 

5. Have the renovation expenses been well thought out?

Yep, I’m coming back to the money. Unless you are purchasing new construction, chances are you will want to make some changes to the property. Before you make an offer, you have to consider the expenses of renovating an older home, and if they work into your finances. Even if you plan to do the bulk of the work yourself, material costs may surprise you, and it is a rare project that doesn’t go over budget in some areas.

Don’t get yourself into a money-pit situation. Get an inspection (even on a brand new house!), talk to your agent and a reputable contractor about realistic budgets for the types of repairs and renovations the property may need, and don’t take on more than you can handle.

6. Do the terms of the purchase and sales agreement work for us?

The purchase and sales agreement (PSA)  is your contract with the seller. It specifies things like closing date, contingency timelines, and earnest money. The PSA can be written up a lot of ways, so you'll want to make sure your on the same page as the agent and lender. Go over this contract very carefully with your agent, and do not agree to anything that does not work for you or that you do not understand.

 

I hope this list of first time home buying questions helps you know what to think about before you step into the home buying process. If you have any questions about these topics, or anything else real estate related, contact me! I'm here to help.

 

All the best,

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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,

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

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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,

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