The Advantages of Buying a Home Vs. Renting

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For many years, renting a home was a less expensive alternative to buying a home. While renting is more flexible, buying has the bigger potential long term payoffs. Here are 4 advantages of buying a home vs. renting.

The Advantages of Buying a Home Vs. Renting

Home Ownership is a Built in Savings Account

While renting a home may seem like less money per month, think about where the money is going. Every month you write a check to your landlord, and you don’t see that money again. With a mortgage payment, you pay down the mortgage and increase your equity. In this fashion, home ownership helps you build wealth. Additionally, with rent prices increasing and home prices staying relatively steady, make sure to evaluate what it would cost to rent vs. buy, because you may be surprised!

Paying a Fixed Mortgage Stabilizes Budget

As anyone who has rented a home knows, especially in urban areas, rent hikes are the norm and are often out of your control. If you’re in an area without rental control, the landlord can raise the rent to whatever he or she likes. With a mortgage payment, you are agreeing to pay the same mortgage amount every single month for the life of the loan – 15 or 30 years. This helps you budget accurately and know exactly what to expect every month.

Personalization

Perhaps one of the most exciting advantages of buying a home vs. renting is the freedom to personalize your home. This means you can paint, add on rooms, and knock down walls if you so desire. With a rental, you have very tight restrictions, so you are likely unable to personalize the home however you want.

Tax Advantages

Buying a home comes with great tax advantages. Homeowners can deduct mortgage interest on their federal income taxes. This is a hefty deduction for most because interest payments are often the largest section of a mortgage payment in the first years of owning a home. There are also some closing fees and property taxes that you are also able to deduct.

Growing Your Roots

It’s hard to feel established in a neighborhood if you are moving every year. Buying a home really allows you and your family to really settle in and create a community. When you know you’re going to be in the house for a while, it’s easier and more natural to build long lasting relationships with your neighbors.

You may also like: How Much House You Can Afford

VA Loan Benefits Video

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In this video, I speak on the Top 7 VA loan benefits. From credit score flexibility, to no private mortgage insurance, there are a ton of VA Loan benefits.

1. $0 down payment

2. Possible $0 closing costs + prepaids

3. No private mortgage insurance

4. Higher debt to income ratio

5. More relaxed credit score

6. Pay off revolving debts

7. Use it again

You may also like: Reasons to Buy a Newly Built Home in Western Washington

Reasons to Buy a Newly Built Home in Western Washington

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Buying a newly built home in Western Washington offers more benefits than ever before. From personalization, to community amenities, to overall safety, here are 6 reasons to buy a newly built home in Western Washington.

Reasons to Buy a Newly Built Home in Western Washington

Personalization

One of the top reasons to buy a newly built home in Western Washington is the personalization aspect. Why settle for someone else’s design preferences when you can pick out your own countertops, cabinets, hardware, flooring and lighting fixtures? A lot of times you’re able to pick out your appliances and backsplash as well. Your new home will reflect your style, not the style of the person who lived there before you.

Choose your own floor plan

This is a huge perk of buying a newly built home. If you like to entertain, choosing a home with an open floor layout is likely your preference. If you don’t like climbing stairs, a one story home is probably the one you want. Perhaps you want to nix the formal dining area all together – choosing a plan with a flexible space on the main can accomplish this request.

All new, under warranty

When you move into a brand new home, you’re beginning all of your warranties when you move in. This means you truly have 10 years for the roof, not a remaining 2 years you might have on a resale home. This also means you can enjoy years and years of living in your home without having to replace the water heater, roof, AC unit, etc.

Community amenities

Many new homes are built inside of a master planned community. These communities often times have pools, schools, shopping centers, and community centers. Having access to these amenities means you can spend more time close to home and less time driving. Additionally, in Western Washington, a lot of master planned communities have built in hiking trails. This is a huge benefit for those who like to enjoy the beautiful PNW scenery.

Safety

New homes today are built with state of the art circuit breakers and energy efficient furnaces. Carpets, cabinets, and hardwoods use less volatile organic compounds so that your family can breathe easier. Additionally, a lot of newly built homes are built in communities that provide a patrol officer. By purchasing a newly built home in Western Washington, you are equipped with safety features inside your home and out.

You may also like: How to Save For a Home in 12 Months

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent

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Buying a home, especially for the first time, can be a stressful and confusing process. From gathering documentation for your mortgage lender, to house hunting, to negotiating the price of your home, it all may seem foreign to you. Some do fine on their own, but many people could have simplified their home buying process with a little help. Here are 5 reasons to hire a real estate agent when looking to buy or sell your home.

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent

Education and Experience

When vetting different real estate agents, it’s best to find someone who has ample experience in the neighborhood you’re looking to buy/sell your home. Having an agent who knows the market and neighborhood well can help steer you away from certain neighborhoods, and introduce other neighborhoods that you may not have heard of. A good real estate agent will listen to your wants and needs for your new home, research multiple houses, and set up open houses for you.

Price Guidance

One of the biggest reasons to hire a real estate agent when looking to buy or sell your home is for price guidance. If the home seller or buyer is asking for a price that is reasonable, your real estate agent will tell you that. If the home buyer of seller is low-balling an offer, your real estate agent will also help you with that.

Professional Networking

If you are in a specific situation that your real estate agent has not had experience working with, they can reach out to their network. Of course they won’t use your specific name, but they can reach out to see how another agent may have handled a similar situation. Additionally, agents can give you a list of references when it comes to vendors such as home inspectors and appraisers. Choosing a highly recommended vendor will help your home buying or selling process go smoothly.

Paperwork

Today’s purchase agreements are often over 10 pages long. It’s important that you have an agent by your side that can help answer questions you may have when filling out paperwork. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. It could even lead to a termination of your mortgage.

Develop Relationship for Future Business

One of the long-term reasons to hire a real estate agent is that they will become your go-to contact. Chances are you are going to buy and sell another house in your lifetime. By building strong relationships with your real estate agent, you have a trusted source to turn to the next time you’re in home buying or selling market. Additionally, many real estate agents will follow up with you year after year to make sure you’re all good in your current home.

You may also like: How Much House You Can Afford

5 Ways to Reduce Costs in Your Home This Winter

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Winter is notorious for being associated with high energy bills. From turning up your thermostat, to running the gas fireplace for hours, you’ve probably experienced a spike in your bills during the winter months. Here are 5 ways to reduce costs in your home this winter.

5 Ways to Reduce Costs in Your Home This Winter

Strategically set your thermostat

While it feels good to walk into a home that’s 76 degrees, there’s no need to run the thermostat while you’re away at work. Most thermostat have the ability to set your thermostat on a schedule which will help keep your energy bill low this winter. Additionally, consider lowering your thermostat to 72 degrees. You most likely won’t feel a big difference in the inside temperature of your home, but will see a difference on your energy bill.

Open or cover your windows

Opening your windows during the day lets natural light warm up your home. It also allows you to keep the lights off since the sun provides natural light. Additionally, making sure to cover up your windows at night can help prevent drafts from coming through to chill your home at night. Just simply opening and covering your windows can help reduce costs in your home this winter.

Don’t heat rooms you don’t use

You likely don’t use your guest room every day, so go in that room and shut off the vent. This keeps heat out of that room, and off of your energy bill. There’s no sense in heating a room that’s not being used. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep unused rooms’ doors shut so you can concentrate your heat in the main living areas of the home.

Blankets

Cuddling up with a nice warm blanket can help keep your body temperature high without cranking up the heat. Make sure to have enough blankets in your living areas as well as your bedrooms. It’s important to also include blankets in guest rooms in case you have visitors during the winter months.

LED lights

LED lights cost more upfront but will save you over time. LED lights are also more durable than fluorescent lighting, which makes them a safer option indoors. Additionally, LED lights have a much longer life span than fluorescent lights, which not only saves you energy on your bill, but energy in life since you don’t have to replace the bulbs as frequently.

You may also like: How Much House You Can Afford

How Much House You Can Afford

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Buying a house is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s important to have a plan. If you’re wondering, how much house you can afford, here are a few tips to help you calculate your answer.

How Much House You Can Afford

Know Your Market

Before falling in love with a home, it’s important to be familiar with the real estate market where you are about to buy a home. Do some thorough research to determine the average cost of a home in the neighborhood you want to buy and nearby neighborhoods to get a good grasp on what prices to expect. This way, you can help avoid finding your “dream home” only to see that it’s in one of the higher priced neighborhoods that might not be in your budget.

Check Your Financial Situation

When figuring out how much house you can afford, start by looking at how much money you’ve saved. This can help you determine the max amount you can and want to put into your down payment. Second, be sure to collect the last couple bank statements and tax returns to send to your lender once you’re ready to get the ball rolling. Finally, think about your work history and if you have consistent income. Lenders like to see a steady work history (the same company for two years or more) to show that you’re able to pay a monthly mortgage.

Know Resources

When creating a budget, it’s important to include utilities, taxes, and insurance of your new home in addition to the base mortgage. Research the water, electricity, garbage, and sewer companies for the homes you’re really interested in to create an accurate representation of how much you’ll be paying per month. If you’re interested in moving to a neighborhood with an HOA, make sure to include this cost as well. Thoroughly doing your research can set you up for success and give you a clear answer of how much house you can afford.

Save For Décor and Updates

Unfortunately, payments toward your home don’t stop at the mortgage and utilities. Be sure to budget for home décor as well as any home updates you’ll want to complete when moving into your home. These costs are good to be aware of before closing on your home so you can be sure to save up for all you want to do once you become a homeowner.

You may also like: Simple Ways to Save for a Down Payment

4 Surprising Things That Affect Credit Score

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When deciding to buy a home, it’s important to understand all the factors that go into being approved for a home loan. While you’ve probably been told to keep you credit score high, you may be wondering if there are any sneaky ways to ding your score. Here are 4 surprising things that affect credit score.

4 Surprising Things That Affect Credit Score

Parking tickets

A parking ticket is one of the most surprising things that affect credit score. Leaving a parking ticket unpaid long enough will prompt your city to send it to collections. Any time a bill goes to collections that involves outstanding debt, it can damage your credit score. Collection accounts can remain on your report for seven years, though your score should improve the further and further you get away from your delinquency date.

Closing a credit card

You may think that closing a credit card will help your credit since it’s tidying up your credit lines, however this is not the case. If your other cards are bumping against their limit, you could wind up taking a credit score hit because you’re lowering your overall available credit. So if you want to close a card, just make sure to do it after you close on your home loan so you don’t risk your credit score falling.

Requesting a credit line limit increase

While you may think you qualify for a credit line increase, your bank will need to run your credit to confirm. This will generate a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can ding your credit score. Same goes for if you want to lower your annual percentage rate. Your bank will likely pull your credit to see if your standing justifies the change. A good rule of thumb is to always ask your bank if an action requires a credit pull, that way you aren’t out of luck if you want to apply for a home loan.

Opening a new credit line

The first step a bank takes when you apply for a new credit line is to make a hard credit inquiry. If you only have one or two credit inquiries in the last 12 months, the impact will be minimal. However, if you are on the brink with 4 or 5 inquiries in the past year, the impact can severely drop your credit score. This is why lenders advise that when you apply for a home loan, wait to buy a new car and finance your kitchen appliances until after you’ve secured your home loan.

You may also like: How to Save For a Home in 12 Months

How to Save For a Home in 12 Months

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One of the largest hurdles for prospective homebuyers is coming up with the down payment and closing costs. The idea that you have to front thousands of dollars can seem daunting and discouraging to some. But as long as you and your family are focused and disciplined, you can save for a home in 12 months.

How to Save For a Home in 12 Months

Track your spending

The best way to improve any habit is to track your habit and hold yourself accountable to daily, monthly, and yearly goals. There are many online apps that track your spending and keep a running total of the amounts that you spend on specific items. This allows you to understand where you are spending most of your money. If you are spending 60% of your income on food, it probably means you are dining out frequently which can really add up. Coffee alone can add up to hundreds of dollars per month. If possible, consider making coffee at home as it saves a ton of money in the long run.

Make a budget

Once you’ve understood where you’re spending your money, make a budget and stick with it. If you find that you’re subscribed to similar services, pick one and cancel your subscription to the other. For example, if you are paying over $20/month for two music streaming services, you likely won’t even notice if one is gone. Additionally, making sure you turn off the lights when you leave your home, and turning the heat down during the night can help you save on energy bills. Finally, a good way to save for a home in 12 months is to cut out going out. If you want to hang out with your friends, invite them over to your home. Just because you’re not going out, doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing your friends!

Be a deal hunter

While it’s not the most glamorous life, thrifting and coupon clipping can actually save you hundreds of dollars per month. If you shop at an expensive grocery store and find the same items for cheaper at a different grocery store, try shopping at the new store for a while. You’d be surprised how much money you can save by cutting down grocery spending. Additionally, if you are looking for simple items such as sandwich bags or glass jars, stores like the dollar store have similar items for much less.

Look for a side hustle

Side hustles are common, especially if you’re saving up for a big purchase. See if there are ways to work extra hours at your job. Additionally, driving for a ride share service during your days off, can give you an extra few hundred dollars at the end of the month. Think about your skills and talents that you could parlay into freelance income.

You may also like: 5 Common and Profitable Home Improvements

Eastside Market Update October 2018

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It appears that balance is slowly returning to the local housing market. Home price growth slowed in September. Inventory continued to climb, but is still far short of the four to six months that indicate a normal market. Homes are staying on the market longer, giving buyers the breathing room to make the right choice for their situation. With our region’s healthy job growth, and demand still exceeding supply, it’s likely to take some time to move to a fully balanced market. Check out the Eastside market update October 2018.

Eastside Market Update October 2018

Eastside

eastside market update october 2018
Home price increases moderated into the single-digits in September. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was up 4 percent from the same time last year to $890,0000 but down from a median price of $935,000 in August. Inventory increased significantly and price drops jumped. While the market is softening, the recent expanded presence of Google and Facebook on the Eastside means demand should stay strong. In addition, the area’s excellent school system continues to be a large draw for buyers both locally and internationally.

King County

eastside market update october 2018
Inventory was up 68 percent year-over-year in King County due to a higher number of sellers listing their homes and fewer sales. There is now more than two months of inventory in the county, a number we haven’t seen in nearly four years. Despite the increase, there is a long way to go to reach the four to six months of inventory that is considered balanced. In September, the median price of a single-family home was $668,000; an increase of 7 percent from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from August.

Seattle

eastside market update october 2018
Inventory in Seattle surged in September from a year ago. Only San Jose, CA saw the number of homes for sale rise faster than Seattle last month. The median home price in September was $775,000. Up slightly from the $760,000 median price in August and a 7 percent increase from last year. The double-digit price growth of past years appear to be waning and overzealous sellers who listed their homes at unrealistically high prices have been forced to reduce them. Bidding wars have declined and the typical well-priced house is now selling right at asking price.

You may also like: Digital Strategy: Targeting Homes For Your Buyers

Digital Strategy: Targeting Homes For Your Buyers

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Whether reaching overseas buyers or local agents, I’m committed to promoting your home using digital platforms that go beyond the usual real estate websites. Here are 4 digital strategies that target homes for your buyers.

Buyer-targeted advertising

Through a partnership with Adwerx, I will promote your home to local buyers on high-traffic websites such as Facebook, CNN, ESPN and USA Today, reaching 7000+ local buyers each week.

Overseas buyer reach

Windermere’s partnership with Waijule.com lets me promote your property online to Chinese buyers, an important segment of our international market, in their language and behind China’s internet firewall. In King County alone over 400 brokers interface with their Chinese clients through the Waijule platform.

Broker-to-broker e-marketing

My office will promote your listing to the top buyer’s agents in your area via our Windermere This Week email. With high open and click-through rates, these campaigns generate lots of interest and action.

Social media sharing

Once listed, your home will be featured on my office’s Facebook page and other social media platforms. This makes it easy for you to share posts with your friends and family (according to the National Association of Realtors®, one in 12 buyers learned of the property they bought from the seller, a friend, relative or neighbor).

homes for your buyers

You may also like: 5 Common and Profitable Home Improvements

5 Common and Profitable Home Improvements

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Return on investment is one of the top things to think about when remodeling your home. Whether you’re looking to sell your home, or simply want a change, here are the top 5 most profitable home improvements to add to your space.

5 Common and Profitable Home Improvements

Deck Addition

Having a private and useable outdoor living space could be the selling factor of your home. The average deck addition costs about $10,000 and can resell for about $8,000. This means 80% of your cost is recouped. If you buy the wood yourself and can gather up a few handy friends to do the labor, the project would be less than $10,000. This means you could potentially recoup 90-100% of the deck addition.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

Without doing a major kitchen remodel (i.e. tearing down walls, adding square footage, redoing the floors etc.) you can actually recoup quite a bit of your expenses. For example, if you want to paint your cabinets, replace the hardware, replace light fixtures, and upgrade new appliances the average cost is about $19,000 and could resell for about $15,000. This means you could recoup about 80% of your costs. Updating the kitchen is one of the most common and profitable home improvements since the kitchen is the heart of the home and the room where people spend a lot of time.

Garage Door Replacement

After your teenage kids have backed into the garage door a few times, it’s a good idea to replace the garage door, especially when you’re ready to sell. The average garage door costs about $1,600 and can resell for about $1,410. The means you recoup almost 90% of your cost. Especially if your garage is in the front of your home, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s presentable to those driving by.

Attic Bedroom

The average cost to redo an attic is about $52,000 and could be resold for about $40,000. This means you can recoup about 77% of your costs. By adding a bedroom to your home, you’re increasing the livable space as well as the number of bedrooms which automatically increases the value of your home. And if you’re able to sneak a small bathroom into the space as well, it really starts to increase the resell value of your home.

Siding Replacement

Over time, the siding of your home becomes worn and starts to look older and becomes less effective. The average siding replacement costs $12,000 and can resell for almost $10,000. This means you can recoup a little over 80% of your costs. In addition to repairing structural damage of the old siding, you’re boosting your curb appeal and the color of your exterior looks fresh and clean.

You may also like: 6 Expenses That Might Surprise First Time Home Buyers.

South Sound Labor Day Activities

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Labor Day is just around the corner, and while you could get a lot done around the house this weekend, wouldn’t you rather spend your time celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of Fall? Check out these 8 South Sound Labor Day Activities for you and your family.

South Sound Labor Day Activities

Bumbershoot Music Festival

Bumbershoot is a beloved yearly music festival that travels to Seattle every Labor Day. All weekend long you can listen to mainstream and up and upcoming music, munch on delicious local food, partake in arts and crafts and dance with fellow Seattleites.

Northwest Trek

This is the perfect place to visit with your kiddos. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park has a jam packed weekend full of difference shows which include eagles, cougars, bears and owls devouring their favorite food.

Washington State Fair

It’s time to Do the Puyallup! The Washington State Fair is one of the most popular South Sound Labor Day activities. There are endless activities for you and your family to participate in at the state fair. And we can’t forget to mention the state of the art food!

Bremerton Blackberry Festival

This year will be the Bremerton Blackberry Festival’s 29th anniversary! This festival features arts and crafts for the kids as well as a lot of tasty blackberry treats! This festival helps prolong that summer feeling!

Mariners Game

So, how about them Mariners? The Mariners are playing for their lives this weekend, hoping to secure a spot in the playoffs! They will be playing the Baltimore Orioles at home this Monday, and tickets are as low as $8! If you’ve been looking for a game to go to with your family, Labor Day is a good one to see.

Hiking

If the outdoors is more your scene, check out the hundreds of trails in Western Washington. The weather is supposed to stay sunny all weekend, and under 80 degrees, which is optimal hiking weather! Rattlesnake Ridge is a popular family hike located in North Bend, just 30 minutes outside of Seattle. This hike is just under 4 miles round trip which is great for beginners or young family members.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the tops things to see in Western Washington. Did you know they prepare a scenic antique train ride through the upper Snoqualmie trail over Labor Day? Then once you’ve marveled at the views, stop in for a bite at The Attic at Salish Lodge & Spa. It’ll surely be quite the site to see!

You may also like: Now Is The Time to Buy a Home in Pierce County.