In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my friends, family, home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking about PNW Grill in Puyallup.

Community Recommendation: PNW Grill

PNW Grill is a fun family-friendly restaurant that was established in 2019. Inside you’ll find casual tables, a large bar, darts, pool tables, and ping pong. PNW Grill serves scratch made food with some fun plays on American classics. I love a good steak and their rib eye is to die for! I loved this place so much that we are hosting our November VAREP Restaurant Takeover here.

Here’s what their customers have to say:

“Their wings are TO DIE FOR! Seriously, the Asian sesame are the way to go. Also, their mojitos are flavored with fresh fruit purées that are made in house daily. The peach and mango are amazing. I haven’t tried a pizza yet, but the table next to us got one and it’s definitely a must have next time. Great job to the new owners for really taking the place to its true potential.”

“My service was top notch and my waitress was very attentive.  My nephew had the rib-eye and it was mouthwatering as far as presentation. People: You want top quality beef you are going to pay for it, and I’m telling you it’s worth it to dine here.  I ordered the Rainer and some point during the meal I looked up to see my nephew staring at me.  I looked down to the pile of crust beneath me and muttered “What?” through a mouth full of meat and cheese.  I apparently was stuffing the slices in my face as though the apocalypse was upon us.  Great place, great service, great pizza.  If I ever get the chance to come back, I’m getting the steak.”

For more information, visit their Facebook page.

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The U.S. housing market is still humming along, which means that home sellers in many regions are still getting multiple offers. For home buyers, this means putting your best foot forward if you want to make your offer stand out from the rest.

6 Ways to Make Your Offer Stand Out from the Rest

  1. Walk in with home loan pre-approval to make your offer stand out from the rest.

Nothing says “I’m serious” about buying a home than having completed the mortgage pre-approval process ahead of time. When your offer includes a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender, home sellers know that you are ready, willing and able to make the deal go through.

Conversely, home buyers who haven’t completed the full pre-approval process (even if they have been pre-qualified) may make an offer that their lender ultimately won’t agree to. This can easily send the home seller back to square one and may even cause a home buyer to forfeit their earnest money deposit.

 

Comparing Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved Home Buyers
PRE-QUALIFIED PRE-APPROVED
Filled out / completed a mortgage application X
Credit history check completed X
Finances reviewed X
Down-payment estimated X
Specific amount offered by lender X
Lender provides interest rate information X

 

You can see how much more “ready” home buyers who have been pre-approved for a home loan are vs. those who have only been pre-qualified or who have not even contacted their lender yet. If you’re working with a real estate agent but haven’t yet chosen a lender, your realtor could point you to a mortgage company they have experience with, who can help you get the pre-approval process completed before you make an offer.

  1. Put down a serious earnest money deposit.

The very definition of “earnest” includes the idea of being transparent, genuine and serious about something!

earnest – adjective – characterized by or proceeding from an intense and serious state of mind

When used as a noun, it is also defined as a considerable or impressive degree or amount. In a slow  home-buying market, buyers can make small earnest money deposits. In a hot market or seller’s market – not so much. Putting down a high earnest money deposit tells home sellers that you’re serious about their property. It sends a message that you’re not holding back in order to make multiple offers on different properties (homebuyinginstitute.com).

Your real estate agent can advise you about how to make your earnest money deposit as competitive as possible, and about how to make your offer as a whole as competitive as it can be.

  1. Connect emotionally to make your offer stand out from the rest.

It’s common for home sellers to receive letters from buyers who are especially interested in “winning” when it comes to a multiple-offer bidding war. Tell the homeowner why this property matters so much to you, what makes it special to you, how you can see yourself living there.

When touring the home, you might have even seen belongings in the home that give you an idea of the home seller’s future aspirations or something in their past that you might share. Put it in the letter! Give the seller reasons to prefer your offer in a multiple offer bidding war scenario.

  1. Include an escalation offer.

In a situation where you know there are multiple offers, you can include an escalation offer in your bid. This tells the seller exactly how much you are willing (and able) to pay for the home. An example of this would be to offer $2,000 more than the highest offer submitted up to the limit you feel comfortable with. If you make an offer on a home that is listed for significantly less than amount for which your mortgage lender pre-approved you, you have some room to include an escalation offer in your bid.

Bear in mind, though, that the home’s appraisal may be a factor. If the home isn’t likely to appraise for the amount you would have to pay for the home, the lender may only be willing to lend the amount for which the home appraises. In that case you would need to be prepared to put more money down at the time the home loan closes to make up the difference.

  1. Forego inspections and contingencies and pay more closing costs.

It’s common to include a request for home inspection in any offer to buy a house. However, for the sellers, this might reveal the need for repairs or updates they would be asked to complete or fund before the home sale would close. Offering to pay for the home inspection (or even some of the seller’s closing costs) and forego any minor items found could encourage a seller to work with you instead of other home buyers.

  1. Be ready to move… or not.

The faster the home sale process can move, the faster the seller can move on. If you’re pre-approved for the mortgage that speeds up the process from the get-go. If you can also offer to take possession quickly this might be a bonus for the seller. Conversely, if the seller needs more time to pack up and move out, offering to wait and work on their time schedule could help your offer stand out from the rest.

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In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my friends, family, home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking about decals with Stick On U decal services.

Community Recommendation: Stick On U

Stickers have been used for marketing initiatives for years because they last for years and require very low costs. They can help promote product launches, giveaways, social sharing, and reviews. If your business was about to launch a new product/service, giving stickers to prospective clients would be a great way to promote the launch. If your business was doing a giveaway, a sticker is an effective way to tell the public about your giveaway in the hopes more people would enter. If you want to spread your social network handles to new clients and old, using stickers to remind people how to find you online can be a good way to keep customers in your lead pipeline for years. Word of mouth is a highly effective way to gain new clients. Think about how many reviews you read before purchasing a product online. Giving clients a sticker to remind them to review their experience with your business can help your reputation management and bring in new business in the future.

When participating in any community event as a business, it’s nice to have decals to give away to the public, or to help create a nice backdrop for your booth. Recently I worked with Stick On U to help create decals for my VAREP booth at the Puyallup Fair. They were excellent to work with, affordably priced, and created exactly what I envisioned for my event. Sometimes it’s hard to describe what you want for a decal, but their team helped guide me on what a good layout design would be for my decals.

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Selling your home for the most money is a top priority of most sellers. If you’re planning on selling your home within the next few years, there might be some home improvements to make beforehand that can really increase your home value. Here are 4 upgrades to make before you sell your home.

Upgrades to Make Before You Sell

Update Cabinets

It’s not necessary to replace your cabinets as it may not make financial sense, but giving your cabinets a refresh can be one of the best upgrades to make before you sell. Start with a fresh coat of paint, preferably a color that is trendy and will appeal to home buyers when you sell. Next, change out the hardware. You may be surprised at how much a difference these two simple updates can make. Just updating your cabinets can turn a kitchen from a dark and isolated room, to a bright and welcoming room.

Light Fixtures

Go through your home and see what light fixtures could use come updating. Replacing light fixtures can make a large difference in your home’s appearance. If you don’t have the budget to replace all the fixtures in your home, start with the ones in the kitchen and above tables as those make the largest impressions in a room. Then move to the main living areas, and replace the bedroom fixtures last. A bright statement fixture can really tie a room together and thus make the room feel more expensive which can increase your selling price.

Paint

Adding a fresh coat of paint to all of your walls is one of the easiest and most effective upgrades to make before you sell. Sticking with a neutral palette will ensure you don’t scare away potential buyers, and will help your home appear more cohesive and move in ready. It’s also a good idea to give your front door a fresh coat while you’re at it. The front door is the entryway into the home, and can make a lasting impression on home buyers.

Landscaping

Curb appeal goes a long way in attracting potential home buyers. Do you have a large empty strip of bark that could use a nice flower bed? How about pruning the shrubs and trees? Even if you don’t plan to sell your home right away, you might consider planting some perennials so they are well established by the time you want to sell your home. Attractive landscaping is a great way to make a positive lasting impression on future buyers.

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There are many benefits of owning a home – personalization, community, and ability to make it your own. One of the often-overlooked benefits of owning a home is the equity you build over time. Here are 3 benefits of growing equity in your home.

3 Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home

What is home equity?

First off, let’s take a look at what home equity is, and how it affects you as a home owner. Home equity is the portion of your home that you truly own – the difference between the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. Home equity is also known as real property value. The average home increases between 3% and 5% in equity per year.

Move up opportunity

One of the biggest benefits of growing equity in your home is the move up opportunity. With the rise in prices, homeowners naturally experience an increase in home equity. This increase allows them to put this money down toward a larger house to fit their family’s needs in the future. For example, if a family puts down $55,000 into the house, and the house has increased in value by $10,000, then the family’s home equity is really $65,000. When you buy your first home, the down payment is often times one of the largest hurdles to overcome. When you buy your second and third homes, you’re able to use your home equity toward the down payment of the new home, granted the market is healthy.

Gain in seller’s profit

In today’s market, when a home buyer looks at the amount paid when they bought their home and then the amount they received after selling, it’s clear that some homeowners were able to walk away with a large gain. A seller’s profit is jumping fast compared to over the last few years.

Out of a negative equity situation

Negative equity occurs when there is a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt, or both. Often times home owners see this situation when the housing market crashes and their area’s home values decrease. Many families experienced these challenges over the last decade. The good news is many families have moved beyond a negative equity situation since the market has recovered and they are able to use the growing equity in their home to get out of their negative situation.

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The Seattle-Tacoma housing market continues to be attractive for home buyers. However, you need to consider if now is the right time for you to jump into home ownership. Just because your friends and family all own homes, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a financially smart decision for you to. Here are 4 signs you’re ready to buy a home.

4 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

No more debt

One of the top signs you’re ready to buy a home is that you no longer have debt. You have eliminated credit card debt as well as your car payment and you’re now banking more each month. The extra cash flow that is no longer going toward your monthly debt can cover home owner expenses such as property tax, homeowner’s insurance, repairs, and furnishings. Considering the down payment is the top hurdle for most home buyers, the extra cash can cover that expense as well.

Credit score

If you’ve been watching your credit report and taking actions to improve your score, now could be the time to buy a home. Since your credit score is one of the most important factors in qualifying for a home loan, a higher score could land you a higher loan amount. With a higher credit score comes a lower interest rate, which ultimately means a lower monthly mortgage payment and less money over time.

Thought about all the monthly expenses

With owning a home comes many monthly expenses outside of your mortgage. Utilities, property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance bills are all costs you have to budget for. If you have done the research to include a ballpark estimate of all of these expenses and you’re comfortable with the outflow, it’s one of the best signs you are ready to buy a home.

Ready to settle down

Unless you’re in the house flipping business, your home is a long term investment. It’s best to plan to stay in a home for at least five years. If you’re just starting a family and need a certain number of bedrooms and outdoor space, it may be a wise decision to look into buying a home since renting an apartment of that size could cost as much or more. Additionally, if you have dreams of making your house a home, with personalized renovations and décor, owning a home may be right for you.

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The VA home loan offers some unbeatable benefits for active military members and veterans. From $0 down, to no mortgage insurance, to relaxed credit requirements, the VA home loan is definitely worth exploring while searching for a home. Here are the top 4 benefits of the VA home loan.

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan

$0 Down Payment

The down payment is typically the most challenging hurdle for prospective home buyers, especially first-time home buyers. Qualified veterans can obtain a VA home loan without making any down payment at all. Compared to Conventional and FHA home loans, this translates to significant savings upfront. Conventional home loans typically require at least 10 if not 20 percent down, while FHA home loans require at least 3.5 percent down. The amazing benefit of being able to purchase a home with $0 down is that veterans get to fulfill the American Dream without having to spend years saving up for a down payment.

No Mortgage Insurance

A lot of first-time home buyers are going with an FHA loan since the down payment required is 3.5% (as opposed to the conventional 10 or 20 percent). The down side to paying 3.5% down is that it comes with mortgage insurance of a few hundred dollars a month (depending on the loan amount). The VA home loan doesn’t require monthly mortgage insurance. Skipping the monthly mortgage insurance will help veteran home buyers save hundreds of dollars per month.

Low Interest Rates

Typically, the VA home loan offer the lowest interest rate of all loan types. Since the VA guarantees a portion of every VA loan, financial institutions can offer lower interest rates than other loan types (0.5 to 1 percent lower than conventional rates). On a 30 year $250,000 loans, the difference between paying 4 percent and 4.75 percent equates to $40,000 in savings over the life of the loan. This is one of the top benefits of the VA Home Loan.

Flexible Credit Requirements

Veterans don’t need a perfect score to secure home financing. In fact, the flexibility of credit score allows more veterans to secure a home loan than if they went with a conventional loan. Some lenders allow scores as low as 580 which is significantly lower than the 620 minimum score for other loan types. The flexibility of credit requirements allows veterans to buy a home faster as they don’t need to spend years on credit repair.

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Our furry friends are a big part of our families. From setting designated feeding stations to keeping lint rollers scattered through the home, here are 4 tips to create a pet friendly home your guests and your pets will feel comfortable spending time in.

How to Create a Pet Friendly Home

Designate Feeding Stations

Creating a designated feeding station that is convenient for your pets to access but also not an eyesore for your family is key to create a pet friendly home. Choose a room such as a laundry room or mud room to stash your pet’s food and water bowls. This will keep the mess away from the entertainment areas of the home. It is important that you store food appropriately to prevent spoiling or unwanted bugs.

Conceal Toys

Yes we love buying our pets new chew toys, but we don’t necessarily love to see the toys lying around the house. If you don’t want your home to scream “crazy cat or dog person” stash pet items where they are easily accessible but not noticeable. Decorative baskets and bins are great for stashing toys and treat jars. Having a designated animal toy bin helps you keep track of the toys and tidy up your living space in an organized manner.

Vacuum/Sweep Often

In the shedding season, it’s vital to vacuum/sweep on a weekly basis (sometimes twice a week if you have a severe shedder). Be sure to vacuum the living spaces, including the couches and throw pillows. If you just aren’t a fan of sweeping, consider investing in a robotic vacuum. You can set it and forget it and maintain a hair free home.

Lint Roll

People don’t mind if you have pets, but they might mind if they leave your home with a leg full of dog hair. While vacuuming often is important, sometimes hair just finds it’s way onto the couch. Store lint rollers in a few easy to grab locations, like side table drawers, to offer to guests if they need to remove hair from their clothes.

Treat Stains Immediately

Accidents happen, and it’s ok as long as you treat stains immediately. If your animals are accident prone, consider getting a portable carpet cleaner for quick spot treatments. The last thing you want is for your guests to smell a stale scent when they sit on the couch. Get into the habit of walking through lesser-used rooms to make sure there aren’t any surprise stains setting in.

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In this series, I highlight the restaurants and food services I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking about HG Bistro.

Restaurant Recommendation Series: HG Bistro

HG Bistro is one of my favorite restaurants in the Puyallup area. Located right on Main street, you’ve likely seen this joint busy on evenings and weekends. In addition to their delicious food and superb customer service, I appreciate that they change up their menu often. Chef Arnel and his team create a featured fresh sheet every two weeks and offer by reservation only intimate wine dinners prepared by Executive Chef Arnel Gaitan. For the past 12 years HG Bistro has been known for their Happy Hour and have been voted in the top 5 of King 5’s “Best Happy Hour” for Western Washington since 2009. Recently they were honored with the #1 spot in 2015.

HG Bistro also puts a strong focus on service fresh and local dishes. They prepare their dishes from scratch by using quality fresh ingredients. They strive to use local farmers as they come available. From their kitchen to the table they are passionate about giving an exceptional culinary experience with warm and professional service for a friendly dining experience.

Here’s what others have to say about HG Bistro:

“Atmosphere was intimate enough to hold a conversation. We got a table last minute on a Friday night and the staff was very inviting and warm. The food was also very good!” – Morgan F.

“A very nice small out of the way bistro between Sumner and Puyallup. The staff is very friendly and attentive. The menu wasn’t very busy. The atmosphere was between casual and fine dining. The food was delicious. They plate the food nice and fancy, felt more fine dining. They have 2 “sides” to the restaurant, one had the decor of casual the other more upscale. I would absolutely go there again.” – Calvin W.

“My Birthday dinner pick! I was so happy with everything. Dinner amazing and the birthday dessert was incredible. Service was outstanding, very attentive staff. I tried the Pom Pom from the drink menu and loved it!” – Kristal H.

For more information on HG Bistro, visit https://www.hgbistro.com.

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Buying a home is 38% cheaper than renting a home. This is especially true if you plan on living in one space for at least seven years. As mortgage loans are more affordable now with down payment assistance and different loan options, let’s take a look at the financial benefits of owning a home.

Financial Benefits of Owning a Home

Building equity

One of the largest financial benefits of owning a home is building home equity. When you pay rent to your landlord, you’re setting aside a chunk of money that you’ll never see again. Additionally, landlords have the right to raise your monthly rent yearly, so what you pay today could differ than what you pay monthly next year. When you sign a mortgage loan, you are agreeing to the monthly payment for the life of the loan (likely 15/30 years). So, you can accurately budget your spending every month on your mortgage. When you pay your mortgage, you are building equity as you are paying off your loan. This means that unlike renting, you will see these funds applied directly toward what you own.

Tax benefits

Another one of the biggest financial benefits of owning a home is the mortgage interest deduction. Most of your monthly mortgage payments will go towards interest in your first few years of homeownership. You are able to deduct that interest from your taxes, if your loan is $1 million or less. Additionally, any taxes you pay to the government on your property are deductible from federal income tax.

No longer moving every year

Homeownership increases sustainability and stability. While moving every year from rental to rental may be necessary for your lifestyle, it is a major inconvenience and a financial and emotional burden. Renting can mean you may never know where you are going to live in a year, or how much you’ll be paying. Owning a home allows a financial and emotional investment in both your physical home and your community.

Use your home investment toward another investment

The equity that comes from paying a mortgage is what allows many individuals make future investments in the same home (refinancing, renovations), a higher-valued home (using the equity toward a down payment), a second home (using equity toward a second down payment), or additional financial goals (paying off debt, buying an RV). A home equity line of credit helps homeowners use that part of their home that’s already paid off to obtain financing for additional investments.

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