Purchasing a new home is a very exciting process but can seem like a daunting task especially for first time home buyers. Researching key terms ahead of time will help your home buying process go as smooth as possible. Here are six helpful real estate terms to know.

Helpful Real Estate Terms to Know

Multiple Listing Service

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database of past and current relate estate listings in a given area. Each region has their own MLS and only licensed real estate agents have access to the listings. However, real estate agents can research listing in the MLS, and can send buyers direct links for listings.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Two of the most helpful real estate terms to know are pre-qualification and pre-approval. A pre-qualification gives you a financial overview of the mortgage you may qualify for. When a lender takes a look at your credit, income and assets, and other key pieces of documentation, you are pre-qualified. While pre-qualification sounds like pre-approval, they are two different terms. A pre-approval is an official statement from the lender stating which specific mortgage and how much home you qualify for. Going to open houses with a pre-approval letter is a good idea as it tells the seller you are serious about buying at this time.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are in addition to the down payment and final sale price of the home. Because of this, closing costs should be considered when making your home decision. These costs usually make up 2 to 5 percent of the home price. Closing costs may include loan processing costs, title insurance, excise tax, and other forms of local taxes.


The primary purpose of an escrow for a real estate title transfer is to have a trusted third party hold the seller’s deed to the property, which will be delivered to the buyer upon closing. Escrow offers protection for home buyer with funds being held until the deal is closed.

Earnest Money

Once you select a home, you put down a deposit, known as earnest money. This shows the seller you are committed to buying this specific home. Once deposited, earnest money is held in escrow while final contracts are finalized. When you do close on your home, these funds are applied toward your down payment and closing costs.

Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgage

In a fixed rate mortgage, the interest stays the same for the life of the loan. In an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate can change over the course of the five, seven, or ten-year intervals (depending on the specific adjustable rate loan type).

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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 The Fish Peddler in Tacoma, WA.

Community Recommendation: The Fish Peddler Restaurant

The Fish Peddler is one of the premier seafood joints in Pierce County. It is located right off of Dock Street in Tacoma. The Fish Peddler serves the highest quality seafood and proteins available. Their parent company, Pacific Seafood Group ensures that! “Any fresher we would be under water!” They serve lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Chef Sean Sullivan has created a personal and curated menu for your enjoyment. The Fish Peddler really gives you a taste of the Pacific Northwest! From their phenomenal clam chowder to their delicious Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese, there is sure to be something for all types of guests.

Here’s what others have to say about The Fish Peddler:

GREAT service! Really good food! We went in with a group of 11 on a super busy night. The staff kept us informed of time it would take to be say and the menu items that were 86’d. Our waitress was very kind and took her time with us. She brought the kids food early so they were kept entertained! From drinks to dinner to dessert everything was TASTY! -Kristin

So good, better than good. I love that they have many fresh options, not just a menu full of fried foods. Staff was friendly and helpful, worked together as a team. everything was out of this world! -Sonda

We had the BEST experience at dinner last night. First time at the fish peddler and everything was great. We had the Manhattan chowder to start, spicy crab boil for dinner and the bread pudding for dessert. I truly can’t wait to go back. Come for the food stay for the people!!! The service was amazing (I think her name was Patricia) We will be back 10/10. -Amber

You might also like: Community Recommendation Series: Ryan’s Place

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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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 Ryan’s Place in Sumner, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Ryan’s Place

Ryan’s Place is a sports bar in Sumner with arguably the best view and the best staff around. Their mission is to offer a home away from home and they definitely do that. Ryan’s Place is also a huge partner in Pierce County and they make it a priority to host many local events. Recently, Ryan’s Place hosted our VAREP Poker Run where we raised the most money and had the highest attendance of any Poker Run to date. Now, to get to their delicious food. I love that they serve a variety of pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, and wings for lunch/dinner but also have omelettes, pancakes, and bacon for breakfast. Great food, amazing service, and a stunning view… Ryan’s Place is a must try!

I love this place it’s the perfect spot to enjoy some delicious pizza and drinks. Never have to wait for a table. This restaurant feels more like a family always welcoming and the employees love to have a conversation with you. -Nataliya

Had a great experience here for the first time. Bartender ladies were really kind and attentive. She forgot my drink and kindly took it off our tab. My husband and I ordered the Wings naked and then tossed in the hot sauce. Very good and crispy. We shared the Italian pizza which was really good too. We will definitely be back! -Tiffany

Went here for lunch, was cleaner than the previous owners. We had a bbq chicken pizza and honesty my husband and I are pizza snobs and I was pleasantly surprised! The man-mosa PSA: will knock you on your butt. Had a drink called Green Tea was really good! FYI if you were a BLT fan (Bonney Lake Tavern), the owner is from BLT and has the famous pressure cooker with the most delicious drumsticks! Give them a shot, you won’t be disappointed! It’s not your typical “bar food” it’s much better! -Alisha

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It’s true that anyone can shop for a house, without formally signing on with a real estate agent. But, unless you have time to make home shopping your part time job, an agent will help match you with a compatible property much faster. Here are 4 benefits of using a real estate agent as you search for a new home.

4 Benefits of Using a Real Estate Agent

Expert in the Field

For most large projects, you feel more confident in reaching the end goal with a solid and hard working team. When you hire a real estate agent, they are in your corner 100% of the time. Remember, this is their job, and they have dealt with many situations similar to your in the past. Additionally, real estate agents are able to use their resources to find solutions for you if they don’t have the answer right away. Using a real estate agent will give you the confidence and peace of mind that everything that needs to happen is happening.

Pricing Pro

Most agents can set a price on a home the minute they walk in the door. If they have a lot of expertise in a market, they know how well a neighborhood holds its value too. Agents have the experience to know whether a house is overpriced or underpriced, and can give you the best advice accordingly. An agent will have such a good idea of what you’re looking for so that he/she won’t even waste your time touring houses that won’t work for you. Additionally, real estate agents are market experts, so they know market trends, and can help direct you in the most beneficial direction for you and your wants/needs for your new home.

Trusted Vendor Recommendations

A big part of buying a home is having a home inspector come out to look at it before you buy it. This helps protect you from having to pay for any large fixes that are found along the inspection, or gives you leverage for negotiating a lower sale price. Using a real estate agent opens up their recommendations for home inspectors and other vendors needed along the way. Wouldn’t you feel the most comfortable hiring someone who comes highly recommended?


One of the top benefits of using a real estate agent is negotiation. It’s uncomfortable to negotiate, especially as a first time home buyer.. So let your agent take care of all of that! Having an agent write the requests objectively and forward them to the seller, saves you from getting emotional about the deal. It’s best to let your agent take the heat in difficult negotiations so you don’t get upset about the property, or say something you wish you hadn’t.

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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 Blue Max Meats in Puyallup & Buckley, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Blue Max Meats

Is butcher loyalty a thing? Because once I went to Blue Max Meats, I knew it was something special. No other butcher in the area has this kind of amazing employees. We have gone to many of the different butchers in the area I have never been so impressed with the meat and service like I am at Blue Max Meats. They have two locations, Puyallup and Buckley, and are frequently very busy, but they have gone above and beyond to make enforce social distancing in an effort to make everyone in their space. The company was started a little over 8 years ago and has done nothing but grow since then. Additionally, I always appreciate businesses that keep their customers up to date on social media, and with all the changes that 2020 and COVID brought, I was never stuck wondering hours of operation or what meats they discontinued.

Here’s what others have to say about Blue Max Meats:

Our family has been blessed to find Blue Max meats in the PNW. Their meats are always fresh, top quality and the service is like no other. Even on their busiest days there is someone always eager to help. -Kerry

I love getting the different flavored pepperoni sticks, they’re so fresh. Their 2-dollar huge avocados are yummy too! I’m always helped as soon as I walk in. The guys are all so friendly, love this place, it’s my new candy store and I’m lucky enough to live right next door! -Crystal

Great meats! Especially their teriyaki and black pepper jerky and brisket hamburger! Never buying meat from the grocery stores again! -Rick

You may also like: Community Recommendation Series: The Adriatic at Oakbrook

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 The Adriatic at Oakbrook in Lakewood, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: The Adriatic at Oakbrook

We are thrilled to introduce the Adriatic at Oakbrook, a new dining experience led by Chef Bill Trudnowski. Located at the Oakbrook Golf Club in Lakewood, WA, their delicious and fresh house made ingredients will keep you wanting to come back for more! Be sure to reserve your table as only a limited amount of indoor dining is available. There is takeout for delivery or curbside pick-up. Their specials include: 1/2 Off Bottles of Wine on Wednesday’s, Happy Hour all day Monday and Tuesday, Golfers – enjoy 10% off Dine In and Take Out orders!

Here’s what others have to say about The Adriatic at Oakbrook:

This is always been one of my very favorite restaurants and their food is excellent. My favorite used to be the shrimp with the spaghetti squash but now I’m developing a new favorite. But everything is so good and if you haven’t tried his mushroom soup it’s not to be missed. -Joyce

We had an amazing brunch today with our family, served by the wonderful Nikki—she is absolutely the BEST! Eggs Benedict was awesome, stuffed French toast, and BLT’s were delicious! Don’t forget the Bloody Mary’s- always a treat!!! The biggest portions & even served with fruit & scones, for an extra special touch! We will definitely be back! -Emily

They have the best staff and I mean from server to bartender to cook to chef!! Always a great experience. Clean and trustworthy. Open to the public not just members. Happy hour all day on Monday and Tuesday. And my favorite!! Wine Wednesday = half off bottles!! Highly recommend. -Beki

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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 months, 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.


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.


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.

You may also like: Tips to Finding the Perfect Western Washington Neighborhood

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 The Melon Seed Deli and Frozen Yogurt in Tacoma, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: The Melon Seed Deli and Frozen Yogurt

Next time you’re in Tacoma and looking for a delicious local deli, you’ve got to check out The Melon Seed Deli and Frozen Yogurt! They offer delicious slider sandwiches, chili cheese fritos, chili dogs, salads, and high-quality frozen yogurt with toppings galore! They also have plenty of seating with free wi-fi. It unusual to find an eatery that master everything they serve (especially when it ranges from chili dogs to frozen yogurt) but The Melon has done just that. They have even been nominated for King5’s Best of Western Washington contest in the Sandwiches category. It’s a must stop joint in Tacoma!

Here’s what others have to say about The Melon Seed Deli and Frozen Yogurt:

This place is the bomb!! We went after seeing it on TikTok and I was expecting chaos. There was a line around the building, but the staff were so professional and efficient, and so nice even amid the craziness. 10/10. Will definitely be back. -Tyler

It is in my opinion and everyone I have met who has eaten here that they are The Best Sandwich shop in Tacoma. Amazing selection (Turkey Bacon & Chutney is my favorite) not your regular ham & cheese shop they do it right with flair and flavor! Spiked Tuna is my daughter’s favorite. The staff and owners are family owned locals that are part of our community. These people exude class and are always in high demand. I recommend you call ahead. -Mike

A group of us went to support this business today and we were NOT disappointed. We tried a handful of different items on the menu and EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS!!! You have to try the Bahama Mama. It’s worth every penny plus a tip. This an easy MUST TRY RESTAURANT. -Mer

You may also like: Community Recommendation Series: Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar

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 Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar

Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar serves top notch Mexican food and tequila! Fiesta Taqueria was started to provide locals their signature gourmet Mex cuisine. They wanted to elevate Mexican street food to an art. From Carne Asada, with tender skirt steak seasoned to perfection, to Fiesta Molcajete served in a traditional “molcajete” stone grinding bowl, you’ll find the fiesta of flavors tantalizing. Don’t forget to try their famous Street Tacos, Tortas, or Burritos, and wash them down with one of over 150 different tequilas available! Real Mexican Street Food and Gourmet Mex in the heart of the Puyallup Valley.

Here’s what others have to say about Fiesta Taqueria:

One of the best margaritas I’ve ever had. The steak fajita burrito is my new favorite and their salsa bar is fantastic. They give you hot bean dip for your chips as well. The portions are also huge. -Nathan

I’ve eaten indoor when avail and outdoor, as well as take out. The food here is amazing no matter how you have it. I mostly have the ceviche and the arroz con pollo. I can’t say enough how delicious their food is. Their tequila selection is fabulous. -Tia

OUTSTANDING FOOD, very very friendly service, totally recommend it!! Moved from California 3yrs ago very disappointed in the Mexican food in Washington, found a new place to enjoy!! -Robert

We came in for lunch and the food was amazing. My new favorite Mexican restaurant. Sorry El Toro, you’ve been replaced. The staff was friendly and welcoming. We will be regulars. Chicken taco salad, cheese quesadilla and supreme Fiesta burrito, chimichanga supreme burrito w/picadillo. Amazing. -Leia

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