Seattle Neighborhood Update

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Seattle Neighborhood Update

Last month brought some long-awaited, positive news for buyers with May posting the most new listings in over a decade. Despite the uptick in inventory, most homes are selling in less than a month. Prices haven’t been impacted either, with the majority of the region continuing to experience double-digit home price increases. Here is the Seattle Neighborhood Update for May/June.

Read the full Local Market Update, including statistics for the Eastside, Seattle, King County and Snohomish County.

seattle neighborhood update

You may also like: Washington State Appreciation Rate.

5 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes in Puyallup

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Buying a home is an exciting and thorough process, so it’s important as a first time home buyer that you are aware of common mistakes made by other first time home buyers. Check out these 8 first time home buyer mistakes in Puyallup and how they can be avoided.

5 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes in Puyallup

Falling in a love with a house

This is one of the most common first time home buyer mistakes that can lead to financial burden or major disappointment. When you are looking at homes, it’s good to keep track of the ones you really like (and don’t like) and note what you like or don’t like about them. If, at the moment you see your “dream home” you become blinded to all other homes you still are planning to tour, all of the other homes will not make a very strong impression. If you don’t end up buying your “dream home” you may feel major disappointment or even buyer’s remorse.

Skipping the home inspection

The best way to avoid nightmare fixes later on is to gain peace of mind now. The average home inspection is under $500 and is a good way to evaluate what’s going on with your new home. If the home inspector finds a problem with the roof, you can talk with the home seller about it before your close on the home. If you skip out on the home inspection, you may have to pay hundreds to thousands later down the road. This is one of most avoidable first time home buyer mistakes in Puyallup.

Not considering home resale value

As a first time home buyer you may think that the home you’re moving into will be your forever house. I can assure you that you will most likely move one day. So it’s important to consider the home’s resale value. If the home you’re looking at was recently fully remodeled and seems to be the nicest house on the block, you likely won’t gain much equity on the home. Be thinking about how you can add value to the home to up the resale price later on.

Trusting a verbal agreement

Everything in the home buying process needs to be written down and signed to hold any weight. While it may feel like you’ve built a great relationship with the home seller and they will hold the house for you as you make a decision, without them signing a form, it’s just promise, not a legal agreement. So if you’re serious about anything during the home buying process, make sure you sign it and the other party signs it as well.

Not budgeting for monthly mortgage and maintenance

The biggest change that you’ll have to adjust to as a first time home buyer is that you now have a monthly mortgage and you’re in charge of all maintenance for the home. This is one of the most common first time home buyer mistakes in Puyallup since it’s such a change from renting. You’ll need to budget for a mortgage but also keep a few hundred dollars a month for maintenance in case of emergency. The last thing you want is to have to pay a professional to come out since your washer/dryer leaked and you don’t have the funds saved up.

You might also like: Budgeting Tips for Home Buyers in Pierce County.

Budgeting Tips for Home Buyers in Pierce County

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Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions you will make, and preparing your budget beforehand will help make the home buying process in Pierce County less stressful. Here are 3 budgeting tips for home buyers in Pierce County.

Budgeting Tips for Home Buyers in Pierce County

Organize your finances

By breaking down your monthly spending into rent, utilities, shopping, groceries, extracurriculars and savings, you’re able to see your areas of strength and areas of weakness. For example, say you are spending $1500 a month on rent, $200 a month on utilities, $1000 a month on shopping, $500 a month on groceries, $150 a month of extracurriculars, and $100 a month on savings. When you put all of these data points into a pie chart and you’re able to visually see that you’re spending almost 30% of your monthly bills on shopping, when half of that could go into your savings pot. By walking through your finances one step at a time, you’re able to track what you spend and make goals to increase your savings.

Set goals

While your large goal is to buy a home, setting smaller goals will help you stay on track and feel successful while you make your way there. If your goal is to set aside $500 a month into savings, how are you going to get there? Consider these methods:

  • Switch to a cheaper gym. Gyms can be extremely expensive, and especially so if you aren’t using them as much as you’d like. Do some research on less expensive gyms, and look into home workouts so you can see if you can cut that cost out all together.
  • Cancel cable during the summer. Television usage drops dramatically in the summer due to vacations, spending time outside, and spending time with loved ones. Consider cutting your cable bill just for 3 months (granted you’re not in a contract), and watch your savings increase those three months.
  • Limit restaurant visits to once a week. Restaurant bills can add up, especially if you’re buying appetizers, drinks, and desserts. Make it a goal to only eat out at a restaurant once a week, and make your own meals the rest of the week.
  • Make your own coffee. The average Starbucks coffee is $5. Imagine if you cut that cost out of your monthly spending. A bag of coffee ranges about $20 a bag and lasts about a month. That’s a savings of $135 a month just on coffee alone.

Track your progress

While it’s great to make goals, they don’t mean much unless you track your progress. The most important budgeting tip for home buyers in Pierce County is to keep yourself accountable. If you make a purchase that wasn’t planned for, add it to your budget and readjust your goal for that month. It’s ok to make an extra purchase here and there, just as long as you can stay on track for the coming months. As a home owner, there are many unplanned costs that come up, so getting into a habit of budgeting now will prepare you for these financial challenges that inevitable pop up.

You may also like: 7 Steps to Buying a Home in Pierce County.

7 Steps to Buying a Home in Pierce County

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Buying a home can be a long confusing process, especially if it’s your first time. On top of that, Pierce County is feeling the pressure from the booming housing in King County, which adds another layer of difficulty and competition. So you might be asking yourself, how do I go about this home buying process? Here are 7 steps to buying a home in Pierce County.

Check Credit Score

Knowing where you’re at financially and credit wise, can help you understand the home buying process as well as make you confident in your decisions. The higher your score the better the interest rate your mortgage will be. On apps such as Credit Karma and Credit Wise, you’re able to see a fairly accurate representation of your credit score, as well as areas of opportunity. If your score is now where you’d like it to be, consider delaying buying a home in Pierce County until you’ve built up your credit.

Save Save Save

When buying a home in Pierce County, most home loans require at least 3.5% down, so it’s important to save enough so you’re able to cover that cost. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t save at least 5% down, you may want to reconsider buying. Ideally, you’ll be able to put 20% down, because anything lower will result in you having to pay mortgage insurance.

Plan For Expenses After Move In

Being a home owner includes additional costs on top of a mortgage. These costs can include property taxes, insurance and maintenance fees that can add hundreds of dollars per month. The bottom line is if your put everything you have toward this house, and have little left in your bank account, it may be wise to look at buying a home in Pierce County with a lower monthly mortgage.

Get Pre-approved For a Mortgage

Once you have your finances and credit all lined up, determine how much you can afford to spend and stick to that limit. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll have to find a lender. The lender will require documentation from you such as previous tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements so they can determine the loan amount.

Start House Hunting

This is the fun part! Open up Redfin and Zillow and search for homes in the area you’d like to live. Spend your weekends touring homes and eliminating the homes you don’t like along the way. Remember, you’re not only buying a house but a life so be sure to look at schools zones, crime rates, and walkability of the neighborhoods.

Put in an Offer

You want to make sure the home your put an offer on meets your needs. It’s important to stay rations and stick with your price limit while buying. Home buying can be an emotional process, so it’s important to stick to your guidelines. A lot of times people go over their budget in bidding wars and end up over buying a home out of their price range.


If the seller accepts your offer, the offer will be contingent on securing the loan with your lender, a home inspection, and a walk through 24 hours before closing. Closing fees can add up to about 5% of the mortgage amount, so be sure you’re prepared to pay appraisal fees, title insurance, property transfer taxes, and inspection fees.

You may also like: Essential Home Buyer Tips.

Washington State Appreciation Rate

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The Great Recession took its toll on housing prices, with home values declining throughout the country. Since then, prices have rebounded. While many areas of the U.S. are not back to pre-crash levels, the Washington State appreciation rate has increased significantly.

Homeowners in Washington State have the second highest appreciation rate in the country.

The economists at CoreLogic recently released a special report entitled Evaluating the Housing Market Since the Great Recession. In the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, the Washington State appreciation rate has risen to 57 percent. The national average was 37.4 percent.

The map below was created to show the 5-year appreciation from December 2012 to December 2017 by state. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida are at or above 40 percent 5-year home price appreciation.

washington state appreciation rate

Lumber prices increase, doesn’t help home inventory.

“Lumber prices have increased dramatically, by about 25% over the last 12 months,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. A labor shortage in the residential construction industry is also contributing to the fact that fewer homes are being built, Dietz adds.

Take advantage of your increased home equity.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, now is an excellent time to take advantage of your sharp increase in equity. Today’s market very strongly favors sellers, so you can expect to get the best possible price for your property. It’s also not uncommon today for the buyer to accommodate your needs as you look for another home. Not only will your days on market be remarkably fewer in a sellers’s market, but you might receive multiple offers, which could drive up the sales price.

Are you thinking about selling your home? Call the VonKarl Inman Real Estate Team and get a free valuation of your home. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have!

You may also like: Photography Tips for Real Estate Listings

6 Ways to Create a Home Office Space

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So your home doesn’t have a designated office space… that’s ok! Solve workspace challenges with these 6 ideas in just about any area of the house. You’ll have a home office space in no time.

6 Ways to Create a Home Office Space

Entryway simplicity

A lot of homes have a large wall that’s usually filled with a long slender entry table, complete with a mirror and a couple plants. Use this space for sorting mail and paying bills before you head out the door! There’s likely nice light, open space, and a wall to hang décor just as you would in a traditional office.

Closet transformation

If your master bedroom closet is oversized and you don’t find yourself using all of the room, you can transform some of the closet into a home office space. Removing the closet door can add light into the closet and keep air flowing through your work space. Paint the inside of the closet a fun color that inspires creativity and add artwork to the wall.

Garage workspace

If your home is overflowing with kids toys and boxes of décor and the only space with some room is the garage, take advantage of it. Set up shop in the garage using a simple industrial desk and shelves. When the weather is nice, open the garage door for a great view and fresh air.

Spare corner

Look around your home to see if you have a spare corner anywhere. Believe it or not, you can actually build a whole office space using just one corner. A corner desk, wheeled storage unit, and a rolling chair, can create a compact home office space. Mix décor and organization hanging framed pictures on one wall and a white board on the other.

Floating desk

A floating desk can be used just about anywhere in the house. The nice thing about a floating desk is that it creates a space using very little room. While a full on monitor and CPU may not fit on the floating desk, it’s a nice work station for you and your mobile laptop.

Kitchen cubby

A kitchen cubby can multitask as a message center, charging station, homework area, and home office space. By placing a storage cube as seating under the cubby you’re adding more storage room to the area without adding more clutter. Add under cabinet lighting to ensure you have good light in your multipurpose area.

Essential Home Buyer Tips

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The joy of home buying can be an exciting time, from picking out new furniture to meeting the people of your future neighborhood. But, in this fun time, it’s easy to get carried away with all the processes that go into buying a home. Check out these 5 essential home buyer tips to ensure your home search goes smoothly.

Get a home inspection

When you move into a new home, you’ll want the peace of mind that the home is safe and in good condition. Hiring a home inspector can prevent you from having to pay large expenses down the road on problems you didn’t even know existed. For example, the home inspector may find a problem with your future furnace. Instead of waiting two years and finding out you need to fix your furnace, and pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs, pointing out the error to the current home owner or builder, can ensure that it’s fixed before you move in. $500 upfront form a home inspector is well worth the investment for peace of mind.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is one of the most essential home buyer tips. House hunting with the idea that you can afford a certain amount could all be for not if your loan amount comes back under what you expected. Getting pre-approved for a loan can help you zone in on your exact budget, as well as give you an idea if you need to work on credit or save for a down payment. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage first can help prevent major disappointment of finding a “dream house” that you later find out isn’t going to work out.

Utilize your real estate agent for all communication to the seller

There is a ton of communication that goes back and for from the seller to the buyer in a home buying/selling transaction. Let your real estate agent do the communicating so you don’t get confused or potentially upset for no reason. Your real estate agent will communicate everything you need to know back to you. Let your real estate agent act as the liaison from you to the seller and visa versa. This will help the home buying process stay on track.

Come up with a realistic wish list

Of course we all want to find our perfect house in the perfect neighborhood at the perfect cost. But that’s unlikely to happen. The three pillars of finding a new home comes down to design of house, location, and price. Pick your top two “requirements” for your new home, and let the third stay flexible. For example, if you are moving for a job, you’ll likely want to find a house in the right location and for a certain price. In this case, you would allow the design of the house to stay flexible. Operating this way will help your house search stay realistic and will open more house options. The last thing you want is to miss out on the right house because a small thing didn’t match your desire.

Work with a real estate agent

Home buying is fun, but also stressful and particular. Using a real estate agent is one of the best essential home buyer tips that can save you from headaches. When you use a real estate agent, you have pricing experts fighting for you. They are also great at negotiations and skilled house hunters. Finally, real estate agent can help tackle all the paperwork that comes with closing on a home. Real estate agents have helped people just like you find the best house for them.

At VonKarl Inman Real Estate, we would be happy to help you navigate the complicated home buying or selling process — from choosing the “right” property to making an offer, negotiating, financing, mortgage rates, moving — so you can make an informed real estate decision in today’s market. Call us today at 206-719-8808 to schedule an appointment!

Photography Tips for Real Estate Listings

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Real estate photos are one of the biggest selling factors of a real estate listing, so it’s important to make sure they leave a good impression. You don’t need to have professional equipment for a good and realistic photo. Take a look at these 5 photography tips for real estate listings.

Tip 1: Turn the Lights On & Turn Off the Flash

I know it may seem obvious, but before you take photos of your home, take a walk through your home and turn on all the lights. This will help brighten the colors of your home, as well as show the interior detail. These details can include millwork design, color of the floors, and how give a view of how the home will look on a daily basis. Additionally it’s helpful to keep the flash off, or you run the risk that you photos will have a yellow glow to them. The last thing you want is to go to post your photos on your listing and they all turn out yellow.

Tip 2: Take Multiple Photos From the Same Angle, And Try Out Multiple Angles

You never know how your photos will turn out on the big screen when you’re taking the photos. It’s better to have taken too many photos than not enough. Once you find a good angle to snap your photo, take a few photos just in case one turns out blurry. It’s also a good idea to take close up photos of certain features. If your master bathroom has a free standing bathtub, zoom in so you are highlighting the bathtub in your photo. These are features that home buyers want to see and can help sell the home. This is an important one in photography tips for real estate listings because these photos can set your home apart from the rest.

Tip 3: Edit Your Photos

One of the most helpful photography tips for real estate listings is that you don’t need to have the Premium version of Adobe Photoshop to produce a good photo. Take your photos in raw format and edit later. In simple terms, raw format means the camera doesn’t add any edit while taking the photo. Editing your photos can enhance the color, clarify details, and can crop out any unwanted features. There are multiple free editing apps out there including PicMonkey and iPiccy.

Tip 4: Tell a Story

When taking photos, make sure to snap the most common rooms in the home as well as from an angle that would make sense. You’re conveying a story through your listing photos, so organize them like someone is walking through your home. You can start at the front door and entry, then move on into living spaces, up to the 2nd floor, and then to the back. Additionally, whenever possible, try to show how rooms relate to one another through doorways or arches.

Tip 5: Take Photos of the Neighborhood

The house itself is not the only thing home buyers look for when buying a new home. They want to see how the house looks in the neighborhood. So grab your camera and take some pictures outside to give them a feel of your lifestyle.

We’ll help you set your home up for success, so it can put it’s best foot forward in listing photos!