Western Washington Real Estate and Community News

Aug. 9, 2021

Revamp Your Porch

The exterior of your home reflects your individual style just as much as the interior. If you feel the need to give your porch a new look and feel, then check out the ideas below!

1. Plants. Bridge the gap between your front yard and porch area by introducing some natural elements. Install hanging planters on the roof of the porch and select beautiful greenery that trails down or add some flower boxes along the railings and plant colorful flowers or unique succulents.

2. Color. Adding a pop of color can really liven up your porch. Try painting the ceiling, railing, or front door. If you aren't ready for a larger DIY project yet, consider purchasing some brightly colored pillows or throws for your patio furniture or large ceramic posts.

3. Lighting. Changing up your lighting on your porch can make a huge difference. Start small by wrapping lights around your railing or hanging cafe lights across the ceiling. If you're interested in a larger project, you can install a pendant light, rustic lanterns, decorative wall lights, or sconces.

4. House number. One of the easiest updates you can make to your porch area is switching out your house numbers. Some options to consider are modern, metal numbers, colored numbers that match your front door, a custom stained-glass plate, or a small mounted planter box with the numbers fixed to the front.

5. Porch drapes. Porch drapes are easy to install and are the perfect way to give your porch a little privacy and shade. Keep it simple with a white linen or spice it up with a color or pattern.

Posted in Home Renovations
July 9, 2021

How to Keep Your Home Cool Without A/C

Summertime is here and it is HOT here in the PNW. It's always an option to blast the air conditioner all summer long, but there are ways to keep your home cool that are better for the environment and won't double your energy bills.

  1. Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans my be an overlooked method to keep your home cool, but that's because they are often used incorrectly. During the summer months a ceiling fan should be rotating counterclockwise to send cool air down otherwise you will be recirculating the heat in your home.
  2. Blinds: If your home has windows that fast the west or north, make sure to keep them covered with blinds to prevent the sun from heating up your home.
  3. Mind the gaps: Cover or repair all gaps and cracks near doors and windows to ensure your cool air stays in during the day. This paired with your home's insulation will also prevent heat from seeping in on hot days.
  4. Evening chill: When the sun goes down and the temperature is cooler, open up your windows and doors to bring that cool air in. Just make sure to get them closed before the sun comes up!
  5. Box fans: If your home has multiple windows on opposite sides of the room, you can create a cooling effect with two box fans on each side. One should be facing inward and the other outward. This will keep a contact airflow brining in fresh air and removing the hot air.

A few other tips: invest in a $20 mini pool from target, drink cool drinks like lemonade or slushies, & eat all the watermelon and popsicles it is summer still, get outside!

Posted in Community News
June 11, 2021

How To Keep Your Utility Bills Low

As a homeowner, costs can really start to add up, so it never hurts to take measures to help you reduce your monthly utility bills. Below are a few ways to do just that!

Electricity Bill: Saving money on your electricity bill can be done multiple ways. Some easy changes include running appliances, like the store, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, at night, opting to air dry clothes, or cooking meals in a crockpot or toaster oven. Set aside time throughout the year to inspect the areas around doors and windows and seal any cracks with caulk or weather stripping. Additionally, make sure to unplug electronics when not in use or use a power strip to turn them all off at once.

Water Bill: Your monthly water bill can sneak up on you, but small changes can be made to cut costs. Install WaterSense-certified faucets and shower heads and convert toilets to low flow to reduce the amount of water used. Make sure to regularly check toilets and sinks for leaks and repair them. Opt for using your dishwasher instead of hand-washing and ensure it's a full load each time. Also, don't forget to turn off water while brushing your teeth and shaving.

Gas Bill: Investing in some changes up front can make a difference on your natural gas bill long term. Add insulation in your attic and around your water heater and pipes. Make sure to repair any leaks in your ducts, inspect your furnace regularly, and check your home for any blocked vents that could cause your gas heating system to work overtime. You can also reduce the temperature of your water heater.

Posted in Community News
May 3, 2021

The Difference Between Home Warranty & Home Insurance

When purchasing a new home, it's important to do in-depth research on all aspects of the home buying process. One thing you'll need to understand is how to best protect yourself and your investment if anything were to go wrong. Check out the information on home insurance vs home warranty below to educate yourself on your options!

Home Insurance.

Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered unless a separate policy is purchased. It also covered the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. The average annual cost of a homeowners insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000 and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.

Home Warranty.

A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fall or break due to age and wear & tear. This includes but isn't limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer & dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year round, even if you do not use it, and it won't cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster. When working with a real estate agent, most will include this in your offer to a seller for a 1 year contract to make sure you're covered if anything major happens within the 1st year.

April 5, 2021

What You Need to Know About Refinancing Your Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage can have many financial benefits when done at the right time in the right way. Here's what you need to know before jumping in!

What is refinancing?

When you refinance your loan, you essentially pay off your remaining mortgage with funds from a new one. The process is fairly simple and similar to when you applied for your initial mortgage. You'll gather quotes from multiple lenders, file an application, gather and provide financial documentation, like paystubs, bank statements, etc., then close like you did when you first purchased.

Why should you refinance?

Refinancing your home loan is an option available to most homeowners. This decision can allow a homeowner to reduce their monthly mortgage payments, negotiate a shorter payment term, switch to a different type of loan, cash out on home equity, and consolidate debt.

When should you refinance?

Timing is key. The best time to take this step is when interest rates drop lower than the rate you closed at. Another good time to consider refinancing is if your current credit score could allow you to qualify for better interest rates than at your time of purchase.

What are the costs to refinance?

Unfortunately, refinancing isn't free. Your refinanced mortgage will come with similar fees to your original, such as appraisal, title insurance, closing costs, and more. Because of this, when deciding to refinance, make sure the money saved outweighs the fees you will incur.

Posted in Real Estate News
March 24, 2021

Value-Boosting Home Renovations

Buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. So why not maintain and grow that investment so if or when you decide to sell, you can reap maximum return? We want to share with you a few value-boosting ideas to get you started.

Change your color scheme

Never overlook what a fresh coat of paint can do for a home, plus it's one of the most cost effective ways to give it a whole new look and feel before putting it on the market. You can commit to doing the job yourself or splurge just a little bit more to hire a professional.

Update your landscaping

Curb appeal is incredibly important in capturing potential buyers' attention, so investing in your landscaping should be at the top of your list. On top of regular fertilizing and weed control consider planting a variety of plants against the house or along your driveway, mixing heights and colors. Add a focal point by creating a stone walkway or installing a fountain or trellis.

Give your kitchen a facelift

To give your kitchen a more modern feel, you don't always have to shell out the big bucks. Start by switching out your main light fixtures and sanding and repainting existing cabinets. Updating the hardware on the cabinets as well is a quick fix. Add a unique, eye-catching backsplash or, if you're ready to spend a bit more, replace the countertops with granite or marble.

Increase energy efficiency

Updating your home to save energy makes it more appealing to buyers in today's market. Add extra insulation to your attic, use CFL light bulbs in all light fixtures, install a programmable thermostat, and find and seal creaks and leaks.

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 10, 2021

Closing Costs 101

When purchasing a home, there are several fees you have to understand and factor in to your budget before you officially close. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know!

What are closing costs?

They are simply fees; fees for services required to finalize your mortgage. Typically, the buyer is responsible for paying these costs unless otherwise negotiated to have the seller contribute. Fees include (but not limited to) attorney, appraisal, inspection, government taxes, title insurance, home insurance, mortgage insurance, and property taxes.

How much are closing costs?

Closing costs usually total about 2 to 5 percent of the home's purchase price, and they generally vary depending on the property purchased and the state you live in. Your lender will provide you with an estimate of your closing costs following your loan approval. Sometimes that number can change slightly, but your final costs should be similar.

How can you reduce closing costs?

Some of the fees that fall under your closing costs can be reduced by doing your own research on lenders at the beginning of the home buying process. Then, compare any potential discounts or deals they offer before making your choice! Additionally, you can attempt to negotiate with the seller to cover part of all of your closing costs.

Can you avoid upfront closing costs?

If you think you will be unable to afford the closing costs upfront, you can opt to roll them into your loan. However, choosing this route often costs you more in the long run. At a minimum, you'll have to pay interest on your closing costs, or depending on your lender, you may face a high interest rate on your entire loan.

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 26, 2021

Number 1 Question Inspectors Receive

Here is a great article provided by Thurston Talk that goes over the inspection process and dives into the questions Inspectors frequently receive.

It doesn’t matter whether Jon Mobly is walking through a home in Gig Harbor, Sean McClendon is suited up in a crawlspace in Aberdeen, or Robin Wilson is checking a roof in Lacey, the home inspectors for Boggs Inspection Services each know that they will likely receive the same question: “Would you buy this house?” It seems like a simple enough question. After all, each inspector spends their days getting to know homes of all types, making their way meticulously through the inspection checklist. Prospective buyers get to know and trust their inspector, so it makes sense that they might ask this question. While this may be the most common question, the answer isn’t as important as many may think.

Do you know what to look for when you are considering a home for purchase? While you might be focused on closet space and layout, a Boggs Inspector focuses on problem zones that could have big repair costs or small problems that could become big ones over time. Photo courtesy; Boggs Inspection Services

“Our objective isn’t to tell you whether or not we would buy the house,” says Dwayne Boggs, owner of Boggs Inspection Services, “it’s to give our customers as much information as possible so they can decide if they want to buy the house.”

Every Home has a Story

Each home, just like each individual, is unique. And each home inspection will have its own set of findings. “Our work as inspectors is to break those findings down into manageable pieces, to give our customers the clearest, most concise snapshot of the home at that point in time, so they can use that information to decide for themselves,” explains Dwayne. Whether the home is new construction or one with decades of history, a home inspector can provide a trained set of eyes to uncover the history of the home and present the information in a way that can be useful for a buyer to decide if the home is the right fit for them.

Assess the Big Ticket Items

Each customer has a different comfort level, explains Heather Derrick, content marketing specialist for Boggs Inspection Services. One customer might have the time and skill to take on home improvement projects based on the inspection findings, while another customer would rather hire a professional to complete the work.

A detailed checklist ensures that each Boggs inspector covers every area of the home, inside and out. Photo courtesy; Boggs Inspection Services

Aside from the skill or time investment the repair projects will take, prospective buyers can use the inspection report to establish a list of priorities should they decide to purchase the home. Each Boggs inspection finding is categorized into three main categories: maintenance items, repair recommendations, and health and safety hazards. The inspection report gives buyers an idea of the most pressing concerns as well as findings that could represent a significant expense to repair or replace.

“With the expenses associated with moving, will you be able to make those large ticket repairs a priority, or is it something that you need to negotiate with the seller to either have fixed before the home is sold or as a reduction in the price?” asks Derrick.

Finding the Little Problems Before They Grow

“Some small problems that go undetected or are not addressed in a timely fashion can become big problems down the road,” Derrick says. Small leaks can turn into major water damage over time. Regular maintenance that has been missed or ignored can result in big costs in the future.  “Our inspectors want to help the customers understand the difference between those smaller findings,” she adds. Some might be simple cosmetic imperfections, but others could be the start of something bigger. Equipped with that knowledge, buyers can prioritize their repair and maintenance list to ensure they are focusing their time and resources to protect their home.

Inspectors for Life

Even a trained set of eyes need some assistance. Thermal imaging allows Boggs inspectors to uncover areas of concern with electrical panels that might not be apparent to the naked eye. Photo courtesy; Boggs Inspection Services

The team at Boggs Inspection Services is there for each and every one of their customers. “We don’t just want to be your inspector today, we want to be your inspector for life,” says Derrick. Boggs inspectors are happy to clarify report findings with follow up phone calls, or answer questions that might not have occurred to the customer at the time of inspection. “We want you to have the best information available to you, so you can make the best choice for you and your family,” says Dwayne.

So, the question, “would you buy this house?” is one to ask yourself, and the answer is something that Boggs Inspection Services helps make easier with their thorough inspection process.

Boggs Inspection Services inspectors are available across Thurston, Pierce, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, and South King counties, seven days a week. If you would like to schedule an inspection, reach out to them on the Boggs Inspection Services website or give them a call at 360.480.9602.

Dec. 11, 2020

Prepping Your Home for Listing Photos

One of the most critical things you can do to stand out and get your house sold quickly is to hire a professional photographer. Photos make a world of difference and will essentially be the deciding factor on whether a potential buyer will come tour the property. We personally use Front Porch Media in Olympia and he provided us this checklist to help get your house ready to list!

  1. No cars in the driveway or in front of the residence. 
  2. Please remove for sale sign from yard. 
  3. Remove all items from the countertops. (kitchen/bathrooms/etc) 
  4. Clear kitchen sink. (no dishes/sponges/scrubbies/etc) 
  5. Remove all items on the refrigerator. (pictures/magnets/etc) 
  6. Remove all dated materials from view. (magazines/newspapers/etc) 
  7. Close all toilet seats and lids. 
  8. Hide family pictures if and when possible. 
  9. Remove robes, clothes, and bath towels from bathrooms (color coordinated hand towels and wash cloths are OK) 
  10. Remove all bath products from tub/showers. (soap/shampoo/loofah/razors/etc) 
  11. Clear bedside tables. (no books/jewelry/cosmetics/etc) 
  12. Hide remote controls.
  13. If TV's are in closable cabinets, close it. 
  14. Please turn on all lights prior to photographer arrival. 
  15. Please turn all fans off prior to photographer arrival. 
  16. Please open/adjust all window blinds and window treatments. 
  17. Uncover all patio furniture including grill. 
  18. Remove all seasonal materials. (Christmas/Halloween/etc) 
  19. When possible arrange furniture in a way to minimize clutter and maximize space. 

We hope this helps! If you're looking to sell please or simply looking to weigh your options please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Front Porch Media: https://www.frontporch-media.com/ 

Posted in Selling Your Home
Sept. 15, 2020

Real Estate Relationships

Since starting our real estate careers we've had multiple people say to us that they know nothing about it, and to be honest we didn't know half the ins and outs until we started doing it! Even when we bought our first house there were so many unknowns and to be completely transparent we just trusted our Realtor to get the job done. So, we want to first share with you the different types of relationships that are involved in a real estate transaction, what exactly you can expect from each side, and the process on how each party works together.

First things first - an agent (aka us) can represent a buyer AND a seller. Let's break this down to be clear: our job is to represent anyone who is looking to do a real estate transaction, whether that's if they want to sell their home or if they want to find a new one. A listing client is someone who is selling their house, a buying client is someone who is looking for a new one. We can, and often do, list the home they're currently in while search for a new one! Its only frowned upon to represent two separate clients in the same transaction. For example, we wouldn't take on a listing client and then show some of our buyer clients that house because then this creates a "dual agency", causing both sides of the party to be conflicted because it's impossible for the agent to represent both sides equally. So please please please, if you see a house you like with a sign out front and are already working with an agent, CALL YOUR AGENT FIRST. Do not call the number on the sign because that is the listing agent's phone number, not your agents. Now if you don't have an agent you can definitely call that number, just know that they will most likely pass you off to someone else in their brokerage because they are already representing the seller and won't be able to represent you.

Okay now that we have the relationships laid out let's talk about agent relationships. Since agents can represent listing clients (someone who is selling their home), it's important to understand that, that doesn't mean just that agent can show the house. They are responsible to market the property and let other agents/buyers know that it's for sale! Then agents who are representing a buyer can schedule a time to view the property and see if it's a good fit! In mostly all transactions there are two agents working together to sell the house. One representing the listing client and one representing the buyer. 

One thing we can't stress enough is that you work with an agent you enjoy and trust. Someone who is going to fight for you on the negotiations, who knows your strengths and weaknesses, and who is willing to schedule their calendar to be inline with yours, because LBR (let's be real) the market right now is crazy and you need to jump on homes quick. Even if you aren't looking to make any serious moves yet but want to stay up to date on how the market is doing, it's important to rely on your agent to provide you with knowledgeable insights and let you know what the best options are for you and your personal goals. 

To summarize here are the breakdowns of each agent/client relationship -

Buyer's agent responsibilities:

  • Help a buyer get pre-approved for a mortgage
  • Help find a house including advising on neighborhoods, schools, and communities
  • Provide assistance on what to offer for a home and then negotiating the offer
  • Recommend a professional home inspector and attend the inspection to have an understanding of the findings.
  • Help negotiate any inspection repair requests from the buyer.
  • Communicate with the seller’s agent and buyer’s attorney throughout the transaction.
  • Monitor the buyer’s loan commitment to ensure the financing is on track.
  • Finalize all loose ends before the closing and attend a final walk-through of the property.

Seller's agent responsibilities:

  • Do market research to price a home accurately based on current market conditions.
  • Provide a real estate marketing plan (social advertising, real estate sites, magazines/newspapers etc.) designed to get a home sold quickly for the most money possible.
  • Communicate property before and during the sale.
  • Ensure that the buyer is qualified before accepting an offer.
  • Negotiate the best terms possible for the seller.
  • Attend the home inspection to represent the best interests of the seller.
  • Attend the home appraisal to provide the appraiser with essential information about the property.
  • Help finish up any necessary tasks to be able to close on time.