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!

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

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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,

Market Update: February 2019

 Market Update: February

Hi ladies and gentlemen,

Below I'll be going into the existing supply of affordable housing, the current interest rates, and how demand is continuing to grow in our area.

Housing Supply:

“The spring homebuying season is almost upon us, and if rates stay lower, inventory continues to grow, and the job market maintains its strength, we expect to see a solid spring market.” Mike Fratantoni Chief Economist at MBA.

Housing Supply 19'

Interest Rates Decrease:

Due to interest rates remaining low, and inventory increasing the Chief Economist at NAR, Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist at Zillow, Aaron Terrazas, and Freddie Mac all agree that the supply and demand is leading us into an increase in existing home sales. New construction home sales are expected to remain flat. Existing home prices are continuing to appreciate, but it is at lower levels than the last few years. The market is not depreciating, but the rate of appreciation is decelerating.

Feb Interest rates 19'

Low Inventory:

Our biggest challenge is the availability of supply. Low inventory coupled with sustained demand creates an opportunity for sellers to capture a higher sales price due to less competition.

Best price to sell

2019 will be a great year to capitalize on your properties equity.

Keep more money when selling your property!

Fill in the information below to find out how much your house would sell for.

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All the best!

Real Estate Vocab

10 Real Estate Terms Every Seller Should Know

 

Asking questions can be intimidating! But would it help you to know that you’re not alone? Say you have a classmate named Amanda, and  Amanda always raises her hand in class and asks the questions you’re thinking. Wouldn’t that encourage you to raise your hand and ask questions, too? Well, consider Amanda’s hand raised! 🙋 Here are the most commonly misunderstood real estate terms and phrases.  

1) Pending

Once a buyer and seller have reached mutual agreement on the terms of a sale, the property will then be moved from “Active” to “Pending”. 

2) Earnest Money (EM)

Once a buyer and seller have reached mutual agreement on a contract, the buyer will then deposit a set amount into an escrow account. This earnest money (EM) shows the seller that the potential buyer is EARNEST about buying the property. When the property closes, the EM is then put towards the buyer’s down payment.

3) Escrow

Escrow is a term that refers to a third party that is hired to handle the transaction, the exchange of money and any related documents. Placing Earnest Money, for example, into escrow means to place it in the hands of a third party until certain conditions are met; once the transaction has closed the escrow company will disburse the funds appropriately. 

4) Appraisal

An appraisal is an assessment done by a certified appraiser to determine the value of the property. The appraisal is usually based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby. 

5) Dual Agency

Dual Agency is when one agent represents both the buyer and the seller, instead of just one or the other. Depending on state laws, real estate agents are able to represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. There are some states that do not allow dual agency.

6) Bank Owned & Short Sale

When a property owner defaults on their mortgage, the lender will sometimes allow the seller to sell as a short sale. That means that the bank has agreed to let the home be sold for less than the balance on the current owner’s loan. A bank owned property is when a  lender won’t agreed to sell the property for less than what is currently owed on it, so the property has been foreclosed on and is now “Bank Owned.”

7) Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

A CMA is an analytic report to help real estate agents strategize what the hyper local market is doing in order to determine your property value. The analysis is conducted based on the active, pending, and sold values of similar properties in the same area within a specific time frame. The CMA report should help you in understanding what a realistic listing price is, and whether or not you’re buying a property for the right price.

8) Commission

Real Estate agents are paid on commission. This is an agreed upon % of the sale price which is then divided between the selling and listing agent, it is typically 6%. Once a transaction closes, the seller will pay the originally agreed upon percentage of the purchase price from the net proceeds of the sale. In Washington State, the seller pays 100% of the real estate commissions.

9) Equity

A property owner’s Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage or other liens.

10) Encumbrance

An encumbrance is a claim against, limitation on, or liability against real property. Encumbrances can restrict the owner’s ability to transfer title to the property or lessen its value. Having the awkward conversation is worth it, guys.

Helping you understand real estate lingo is one of my favorite topics because it is SO important, and because real estate holds a special place in my heart. If you have any Real Estate questions, or pain points in your Real Estate journey, I would love to break it down into bite-sized pieces and serve you up a hot plate of awesome.

Leave a comment with any other terms or resources that you would find helpful!

Market Update: January 2019

 Market Update: January

Welcome to 2019! 

Though changes are happening in the market, the year ahead is full of possibilities.  To paraphrase the Disney movie Up: Adventure Awaits!

Changing Prices:

More listings coming to market mean more competition. The dramatic appreciation left buyer's in sticker shock last year. Now that inventory is increasing, we are staring to see the price of available properties stabilizing. 

Average days on market

Slowing Appreciation:

Over the past 12 months, we have seen dramatic price spikes in King & Pierce county. Buyers were offering full price, and getting beat out by people paying far above asking price. Now the market is starting to shift. The chart below is the home price percentages appreciation projections from Home Price Expectation Survey, Zelman & Associates, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and Fannie Mae.

Appreciation going forward

Preparing for Selling:

The rental market has been flooded, which has driven up the price of rentals. The rental price increase has caused people to rethink the cost of buying. Loan applications have increased to 5.5% in the past three months. This means renters have been saving and are starting to prepare to purchase. Demand for well priced houses is still in high demand.

The bottom line is that a changing market is not a bad thing. It is a sign that our economy is starting to stabilize. If you have been considering selling, now is a great time. There is a pent up demand for well priced, existing homes.

Do you have any questions about how these stats will be affecting you?

Fill in the information below, and I would be happy to help find a strategy that will fit your needs.

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All the best!

Market Update: December 2018

 Market Update: December

With the markets shifting again, and clients calling about where we are at in the market, it's a good time to look at the market overall.

Inventory:

Graph 3

Our inventory challenge is starting to change, which is great news for buyers… and is causing a shift in thinking for homeowners. Homeowners were seeing 6%- 12% appreciation over the last few years and that is starting to level out. Price is determined by supply and demand so as the supply increases, and the demand stays the same, the appreciation rate is going to stabilize.

Appreciation:

Graph 1

Over the past 12 months, we have seen dramatic price spikes in King & Pierce county. Buyers were offering full price, and getting beat out by people paying far above asking... but things have started to change. The chart above is the home price percentages appreciation projections from Home Price Expectation Survey, Zelman & Associates, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and Fannie Mae.

Preparing:

Graph 2

The rental market has been flooded, which has driven up the price of rentals. This price increase, has caused a 5.5% increase in loan applications in the past three months. This means renters have been saving and are starting to prepare to purchase. Over the past two months, we can see the market starting to shift and more renters will be entering the home ownership market.

Do you have any questions about how these stats will be affecting you?

Fill in the information below, and I would be happy to help find a strategy that will fit your needs.

Please enter your name.
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All the best!