Downsizing may seem like a daunting task, but there really are some major benefits of a smaller home. From having less to clean, to less utilities to pay for, to more family time, moving to a smaller home can add value to your life.

Benefits of a Smaller Home

Lower mortgage

The number one reason most people downsize to a smaller home is because they have kids that have left to college and they are left with a 5 bedroom home for just 2 people. Why pay for a home with 5 bedrooms when you only use 1 maybe 2? Moving to a smaller home can help you pay a higher down payment on the new home, and can help you save hundreds of dollars a month in a mortgage.

Less to clean

The amount of space you have to clean is one of the biggest benefits of a smaller home. Gone are the days of setting aside an entire weekend just to clean your home. Have you ever wished you had more house to clean? I didn’t think so. When you reduce the number of rooms in your home, you also reduce the number of surfaces that need to be cleaned. Less room in your home also means less clutter. So it’s really a win win situation.

Less focused on stuff

In a larger home, a big part of your focus is what you’re going to buy to cover all the walls. While furniture is necessary in smaller homes, you’ll have less wall space to cover and likely smaller décor to purchase. You’ll save a bunch of money on décor when you need less stuff!

More family time

When you live in a bigger home, it’s easy for everyone to retreat to their own rooms for time after school to evening. When everyone is thrown together in a smaller living space, it allows for more family time. You’ll spend hours and hours or more time with your family playing games and talking that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you spend all the time alone in your room.

More likely to know neighbors

With big houses comes big lots. And when you have a lot of land, it takes a little more time to spend quality time with your neighbors. Smaller homes often sit closer together. If you sit on your front porch, you’re likely to see your neighbors walking past with their kids and dogs. It’s easy to be a good neighbor when you’re closer in proximity! You’ll find that you become closer with the entire community when you live in a smaller home as well. Attending block parties and neighborhood functions can introduce you to neighbors all around!

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The down payment is often the largest hurdle first time home buyers face. Whether you’re going the FHA route and can put as low as 3.5% down, or you’re going the conventional loan route with 20% down, saving for a down payment can take some time. Here are 4 simple everyday ways to save for a down payment.

4 Simple Ways to Save for a Down Payment

Make a budget and stick with it

The number one way to save for a down payment is to create a budget. It’s hard to monitor your finances if you don’t know where you and your family stands. Take some time to review all your expenses every month and see the areas where you are over spending. For a lot of people, dining out can cost hundreds of dollars a week, whereas meal prepping at the grocery store could be a couple hundred dollars a month. Once you are aware of how much you spend in each area, make a budget and hold yourself accountable to sticking to it. Weekly checkpoints are a great way to keep yourself on track.

But first, coffee

Coffee is a huge part of how people function, so it’s hard to think about how coffee can actually cost you hundreds a month. If you pick up a coffee from your local coffee shop every morning, you could be spending $5 a day, for 30 days a month. This means you are allocating $150 a month just to coffee. And this doesn’t even include the days you go back for your afternoon pick me up. Think about buying coffee ground from the grocery store and making your own morning coffee. Also, a lot of workplaces offer coffee in the cafeteria for a subsidized cost or even free, so relying on that for afternoons can also help keep the cost low. Remember, saving doesn’t mean you have to get rid of things all together, it just challenges you to find different approaches.

Manage subscriptions

When you get to the point where you don’t even know what you’re subscribed to anymore, you’re likely spending too much on monthly subscriptions. Go through all your monthly and yearly subscriptions and get rid of services you don’t benefit from. For example, if you find yourself subscribed to multiple music streaming services, pick your favorite one and get rid of the other. These services can give you back $10-20 a month!

Sell items

Selling unwanted items can make you hundreds of dollars a month, while cleaning out your home! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, truly. So go through your basement and see what you can sell. A helpful tip is if you plan to sell seasonal items, do so about a month before the season/holiday. This catches folks who are looking for that exact item, instead of catching people after the holiday hits and it’s not the front of their mind.

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Beautiful one story home on 5 acres in Roy, WA with updates throughout. The spacious kitchen is great for cooking and entertaining, while the shop out back is waiting to be put to good use!

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One of the many top features of this home is the spacious backyard. The peaceful and private 5 acres is great for farm animals and gardens. This home also comes with a 36 x 36 shop out back.

  •   2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths
  •   1,336 square feet
  •   Updated features throughout home
  •   Large kitchen island
  •   Bethel School District
  •   36 x 36 shop
  •   1 year home warranty included

Contact me at 253-686-2174 to schedule a showing!

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In the last two decades, real estate has outperformed the stock market at a ratio of 2:1. Real estate has continuously been ranked as the best way to invest money not needed for more than 10 years. So why aren’t more people taking advantage? Here are the 5 top reasons to invest in real estate.

5 Reasons to Invest in Real Estate

Immediate cash flow

Once you buy a property and rent it out, you are receiving cash flow within that first month, and every money after that. If you buy in a hot market, you’re able to use the cash flow to pay back that mortgage as well as use the additional funds for repairs, paying a property management company, or any other house related expense.

Appreciation

While appreciation is largely dependent on property, location and economy, the bottom line is that the US population is growing and the need for housing continues to increase. By way of supply and demand, your home’s value will increase over time. For example, since the inventory of homes in Western Washington is in a shortage, buyers will be willing to pay more for your home since there isn’t much competition.

Equity

If you make paying off your mortgage a priority, the amount of equity – or the amount of house you actually own – grows quickly. If you pay more toward your principal, choose shorter loan terms, and focus on home improvements, you can speed up the pay off process. By paying more toward your principal, the faster your build equity, even if your home is appreciating slowly. By choosing shorter loan terms, you are eliminating the interest rate for the years you aren’t paying a mortgage. For example, a 15 year mortgage is more per month, but over time you actually save a significant amount since you aren’t paying interest on the last 15 years. Finally, by focusing on home improvements, you increase the value of your home and narrow the gap between how much it’s worth, and how much you owe.

Tax breaks

Investing in real estate can come with tax breaks, which makes this one of the top reasons to invest in real estate. Mortgage interest, operating costs, property taxes, and insurance are among the areas you’re able to deduct from your taxes. You’re sending less money to the IRS, and increasing your cash flow.

You don’t have to be the landlord

If you buy an investment property with the idea of just wanting the monthly income without doing the maintenance, a property management company can help you. When you hire a property management company, they can take calls about leaky faucets and drafty windows. Yes you’ll be receiving less monthly income since you’ll have to pay the property management company, but you’ll have much less to worry about. This is an especially good idea for those who buy a rental out of state.

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Just like the seasons of the year, there are different real estate seasons that bring opportunities for home buyers. The spring market blooms along with the flowers, while the fall months dwindle with the leaves. This slower pace could be an advantage for home buyers. If you’re in the market for a new home, here are 4 reasons to buy a home this fall.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

Deals on old inventory

Often times, sellers choose to put their home on the market in the spring, often listing their home too high. If their home isn’t selling, this could result in price reductions over the summer months. By October, if they still haven’t sold their home, they become desperate and potentially price below a home’s market value. So just because you’re not buying in the busiest home buying season, doesn’t mean you don’t get the benefits.

Fewer buyers

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons to buy a home this fall is because there are fewer homes competing in the home search. Families who want to be in their new home by the beginning of the school year will have wrapped up their home buying process a couple months ago. This means less competition and more opportunity for buyers. Additionally, in really busy home buying seasons, often times home buyers will find themselves under pressure to make a decision within hours. When there is less competition, the pressure isn’t so intense for home buyers.

Sellers want to close by end of year

Just like any other asset, a home is an investment with tax consequences. A home seller may want to take advantage of a tax gain or loss so you might see them pushing for a close date before December 31. As a home buyer, ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close by the end of the year. This way you can use their urgency to your benefit and come out with $3,000 credit in closing costs or a brand new washer/dryer/refrigerator set.

Harsher weather shows home’s true colors

In the summer months, every home looks great since there is a bunch of natural sunlight, and the front and back yard are looking green as ever. In the fall and winter months, you’re able to see any flaws revealed with the home. As a home buyer, it’s better to see a home’s flaws before making an offer, instead of being surprised and disappointed in the future months.

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Come check out this beautiful one story with basement home just minutes away from HWY 16, shopping centers, schools, and parks. Spacious basement with a secret room that could be used as an office or space bedroom!

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One of the many top features of this home is the spacious main floor with a newly updated kitchen. When you’re finished in the kitchen, relax and enjoy your favorite beverage in the large backyard with an existing fire pit and deck.

  •   4 bedrooms, 2.25 baths
  •   2,194 square feet
  •   Updated features throughout home
  •   Hardwood floors
  •   Tacoma School District
  •   Finished basement
  •   No HOA

Contact me at 253-686-2174 to schedule a showing!

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A house is probably the most expensive investment you’ll ever make, so it’s important that you have the correct information when doing so. From credit score to down payment, here are 4 mortgage myths that can stand in the way of you making the best decision for you and your family.

4 Mortgage Myths

Myth 1: You have to put 20% down no matter what

This is one of the most common myths that catch home buyers, especially first time home buyers. When buying your first home, the thought of putting 20% can be a scary feeling, and can even discourage you to begin the process. With FHA loan, you’re able to put down as low as 3.5% down, which makes hoe ownership possible for more first time home buyers. It’s important to note that if you put 3.5% down with an FHA loan, you’ll be required to pay mortgage insurance very month, that you wouldn’t have to pay if you put 20% down.

Myth 2: You need an excellent credit score to even qualify for a loan

If you’re a first time home buyer, you might not have a great credit score because you’re simply just starting to build your credit. In the olden days, you were required to have a 680 credit score to even be considered in qualifying for a home loan. Now, with FHA loan, you’re able to qualify with as low as 580 and 620 with conventional loans. If you have a lower score and nee help, it’s important to talk with you lender so they can set you on the quickest path of credit repair.

Myth 3: Renting is cheaper than owning a home

A mortgage seems expensive when you look at the MSRP of the home. $500,000 sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but you’re likely not paying it all upfront. Yes, sometimes a monthly rent payment is cheaper by a few hundred dollars but there are a couple things to consider when comparing them side by side. The first thing to consider is that when you pay rent to your landlord, you don’t see that money again. When you put money away to your mortgage, it’s going straight to your investment. Additionally renting payments can and probably do increase every year. When you sign a 30 year mortgage, you’re locking in the monthly payment for the next 30 years.

Myth 4: Mortgage rates are the same everywhere and with every type of loan

This is one of the mortgage myths that can cost you the most amount of money. If you qualify for VA loans, you’re able to omit a down payment, and sign with the loan type that has the lowest mortgage rate of all loan types. Additionally, many credit unions have less fees than big banks so they’re able to offer lower rates. Spending time researching the loan type that’s right for you can make a big difference on your monthly payment.

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Now that the stress of finding a new home is coming to a close, it’s time to think about move out day logistics. You may have started placing things in categorical pikes, but it’s time to do the dirty work on moving out and cleaning your old home. Here are 5 tips for packing like a pro for a smooth move out day.

Tips for a Smooth Move Out Day

Secure Your Transportation

Just like securing a reservation at a dinner restaurant, it’s important that you reserve your moving truck days before your need it. The last thing you wantis to be stranded with a home full of stuff, not able to be moved to your new home. Make sure to secure the right size of truck, and gather your move out day team. It’s best if you have a few helpers at all parts of the move out process as 7 at the beginning and 0 at the end can leave you some difficult work when you’re the most worn out.

Pack Like a Professional

Packing your items in boxes can help maximize room in your moving truck, and ensure that your valuables have another layer of protection. Additionally, when packing your boxes, be sure to pack the books and other heavy boxes on the bottom of the truck so you don’t risk your fragile boxes being smashed. You will want to make sure you bubble wrap al of your china, dishes, and other valuables. Finally, be sure your reinforce all your boxes with tape so the items inside stay safe during the move. Packing like a professional will ensure a smooth move out day.

Stay Organized

The best way to stay organized throughout the move out process is to label your boxes as you put them in the truck. By taking an extra one minute per box to label the category of the items inside, you could save your self a lot of time and effort on the other end. You don’t want to have to search through every single box just to find a cereal bowl. Additionally, if you number your boxes, you can easily tell if one goes missing. This help s you keep peace of mind when you have a lot of helpers.

Keep an Easy to Reach Box

When the packing gets going, it’s easy to get caught in the frenzy of throwing everything into boxes and putting them in the truck. To save yourself a lot of time and effort n move out day, place your everyday essentials in and easy to reach box. These essentials can include toilet paper, phone charger, water bottle, pen, paper, etc. This way you can easily grab these items without having to open a bunch of boxes.

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Navigating the real estate market as a first time home buyer can be overwhelming and daunting. From negotiating, to scheduling open houses, it’s a comprehensive process that takes some research and patience. In an effort to clear up the process, a handful of real estate agents were asked, “what are some things that you wished your first time home buyers knew.” Here’s what they had to say.

Top Things Realtors Wished Their First Time Home Buyers Knew

Shop the Neighborhoods, Not the Upgrades

When going from an apartment to a home, it’s easy to fall in love with a newly remodeled house that has shiny floor, an open concept, large bathrooms, etc as it’s what your ideal home would look like. However, when a home has recently been remodeled, the ceiling for equity for that home is lowered as the previous owners put their own time and money into the upgrades. Additionally, while you can upgrade countertops, kitchen, or backyard spaces, you can’t upgrade the neighborhood. It all comes down to location. If you like the location of a home, but not so much of the floor plan, you can always remodel. This is one of the top pieces of advice realtors had to give their first time home buyers.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly

Currently we are in a seller’s market. Inventory is relatively low and competition is high. It’s common to see homes going for 100K higher than their original listing price, as competition is that fierce. If you’re serious about buying a home, you and your agent should be prepared to view the home and make an offer as soon as possible. Waiting even just a few days can run the risk of losing the home.

Create a Wants Vs. Needs List

While have a bonus room may seem like an urgent priority, it may not be your highest priority. Whether you’re buying a multi-million dollar home or searching for something under $150,000, it’s rare to find a home that checks every of your boxes. Break down the checklist of all the things you’re looking for in your next home and categorize them into wants vs needs. The helps narrow your focus and prevent moving into a disappointment home that covered your wants vs. needs.

Ask Questions

As overwhelming as the first time home buying process is, the benefits far outweigh the stress. Your agent is there to answer any questions you might have regarding financing and the overall home buying process. Be sure to go to your realtor with any questions you might have regarding the process as you’re likely no the first person who has asked that question. A good agent will stick by you until the end working their hardest to get you into the home best suited for you.

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In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking all things sewer related with Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector.

Vendor Recommendation Series: Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector

There are so many great things to say about Mike’s work. I was recommended to use him years ago, and haven’t changed sewer inspectors since! He is extremely thorough in his inspections and takes the time to answer any question myself or the clients have.

Some future home buyers don’t realize they need a sewer inspection, but the way I see if is that they can pay $200 for a sewer inspection now, or they can pay thousands and thousands of dollars later on to fix a sewer issue.

Mike works well with my home inspector and tries to schedule his appointment at the same time. This allows any questions to be answered on the spot, and sets the correct expectations for the home buyers. At the end of the inspection, Mike talks with myself and the home buyers about any potential concerns, and give recommendations of local contractors who can do the job.

Here’s what other clients have to say about his work:

Mike Shafer did a professional, thorough job in scoping the sewer line of a house I plan on buying.  He provided a USB memory stick of photos and videos of the sewer line inspection, which is handy for future reference. Also, Mike’s fees are reasonable, and not over the top. Recommended!

-Larry P.

Sewer inspector a trusted partner! As the owner and designated broker of Commencement Bay Broker we are highly focused on our clients experience and developing a long term relationship through the purchase and sale of real estate. As such it’s critical that our vendor partners share our focus and commitment to our clients. Sewer Inspector has earned our business repeatedly over the past 4 years and hundreds of inspections. The information that Sewer Inspector has provided our clients pre and post inspection has saved them ten of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. The experience and knowledge of Sewer Inspector is invaluable and I highly recommend their service. They are prompt, reliable and flexible which makes working with them very enjoyable. I recommend them to buyer , sellers getting their home ready for the market, investors looking to avoid costly changes to the budget and even other brokers! Countless times Sewer Inspector has gone above and beyond the call of duty. If you are looking for a professional company to provide excellent service and willing to go the extra mile to make sure the job gets done right, then call Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector.

-Joe T.

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