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 Bertoglio’s Pizza in Yelm, WA.

Community Recommendation: Bertoglio’s Pizza in Yelm, WA

Really great pizza places are hard to come by, but if you’re in the Yelm area, you’re lucky to have a gem right in your neighborhood! Bertoglio’s Pizza is a deliciously wonderful restaurant! The combination of high quality ingredients and top notch customer service makes this pizzeria a family favorite. Bergoglio’s Pizza has an extensive gluten free menu which includes cauliflower crust options. They also offer take and bake pizzas which is unique since you don’t really get that option with most pizza places. This is a great place for a date night, a casual weekend lunch joint, or a Sunday family dinner – especially in the summer months!

See what others have to say about Bertoglio’s Pizza:

“This is the BEST pizza I have probably ever had in my life. I have never had a pizza where everything about it is up to par and on the same level of excellence!! The pizza sauce is one of a kind, as well as their crust. Our favorite is the Canadian Bacon Pineapple Pizza – the pineapples are HUGE!! Definitely a summer favorite and our first choice when we want pizza!! So happy they are here!” – Longview

“The owner was very friendly and we could tell he took pride in his pizza, using quality ingredients. We ordered 2 pizzas: BBQ vegan chicken with pineapple and vegan cheese, and the second was vegan beef crumbles with black olives, mushrooms, and vegan cheese. Our family of 5 loved them! The BBQ was my favorite. If this place didn’t serve vegan pizza, I don’t know what we would have ended up eating. So thankful for this place!” – Christine

You may also like – Community Recommendation: Crockett’s Public House

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.

You may also like: 4 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

As spring starts to blossom in the Pacific Northwest, it’s also a time when people consider buying a home. Moving at the end of spring allows for families to get adjusted after the end of the current school year and before the next. The following spring home selling tips are unique to the spring and are much different than the tips to sell your home in other seasons.

Spring Home Selling Tips

Spring Cleaning

Many people take advantage of the better weather and longer days in order to tackle their spring cleaning chore list. For the main entry make sure you dust the lights, clean the baseboards, clean the entire front door and shine the knob on both sides. For the living room, wipe the walls, ceiling, and do a deep vacuum and sweep. If the windows have any blinds, use a gentle solution to clean the dirt off of the blinds. In the bathroom it’s important to clean vanities, de-clutter the top of the sink, clean the tile and glass to the shower, and re-grout if necessary. Finally, in the kitchen, go through the refrigerator and clean out any old items. Deep clean the stove top and oven, getting rid of any grease that’s been caked on. Focusing on deep cleaning your home is something that you should do every spring, and is one of the most important spring home selling tips!

Lawn Care

Since the sun starts to shine in the spring in the Pacific Northwest, it’s important to make the lawn, walkway and front door look as good as you can. Developing a good first impression can improve your chances of selling since you’ll draw more people in to tour your home if your front area looks appealing. Additionally, it’s important to clean your gutters, mow your lawn and cut shrubs down, and sweep away any debris on your walkway. Finally, it’s important to pay attention to colors of your plant pots, flowers, and house. You’ll want to make sure all the color complements the exterior of the home so the front of your home is pleasing to look at.

Choose The Right Agent

Your real estate agent will be responsible for various things throughout the selling process so it’s important to choose wisely. The right agent can also advice listing at the correct time, and picking the right price. Additionally, a strong agent will have knowledge on recent home sales in your neighborhood, distinguishing characteristics of your property that make your home more valuable, and outside variable that affect price.

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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.

You may also like: 5 Reasons to Invest in Real Estate

As a home seller, you want your home to make a strong lasting impression on potential home buyers. If they like what they see on the outside, they’ll be interested to see what’s on the inside. Check out these simple, low cost improvements that will boost your curb appeal in Tacoma, WA.

5 Ways to Add Curb Appeal in Tacoma, WA

Dress Up Your Door

If your front door is visible from the road, it’s good to dress it up so it catches potential home buyer’s attention. Make a statement by giving your front door a blast of color with a fresh coat of paint. If your door has paint chips all over it, the impression of your home may come across as older and not well-maintained. Dressing up your front door is integral to adding to your home’s curb appeal in Tacoma, WA.

Outdoor Lighting

If buyers are interested in your home they’ll drive by your home when it’s bright outside and when it’s not. Low voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb appeal while also providing safety and security. If you aren’t able to add light fixtures to your walkways, solar lights are a good alternative. The warmth of lights in the front of your home can add to your home’s curb appeal in Tacoma, WA.

Mailbox Makeover

If your mailbox is visible from the front of your home, wipe it down so it looks well maintained. If potential buyers walk up to your home, you don’t want them to linger by the mailbox wondering why there is ivy growing on all sides. It’s also wise to match your home’s exterior color or surrounding it with a beautiful flowering garden.

Clean Your Walkway

Well designed and maintained walkways make your home feel warm and inviting while providing structure to the front of your home. For a dramatic improvement to s generic straight concrete path, replace it with a contoured one made of stone or brick. For a small upgrade, apply colored concrete resurface to the old walkway. Brick pavers offer traditional beauty to the landscape of most homes.

Add Furniture

If you have a patio in the front of your home, a good way to help potential buyers to imagine their life in your home is to add seating to your front patio area. This adds pops of color while helping the potential buyers imagine themselves sitting in the front of the home drinking coffee on a sunny morning. The more you can paint the picture for buyers, the more they will be interested in your home and thus boosting your curb appeal in Tacoma, WA.

You might also like: 5 Reasons to Move to Washington State.

With a booming job market paired with a temperate climate, it’s easy to see why Washington State is a popular state to live in. According to USA Today, Washington State was ranked the 4th fastest growing state in 2019. So let’s take a look at some specific reasons to move to Washington State.

Jobs

With Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks and Boeing all headquartered in Seattle, it’s understandable why the Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia area is the employment engine for the state. Washington State is also unique in that the Eastern side of the state, opposite Seattle, is one of the nation’s largest agricultural producers, especially for seafood and fruits such as apples and cherries. That’s a lot of employment opportunities, which makes jobs one of the biggest reasons to move to Washington State.

Water

If you move to Western Washington, you’re sure to run across the Puget Sound while you’re there. Cities such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue are located right on the water so you’re bound to see a view while you’re there. While the water is pretty cold during the fall, winter, and spring months, during the summer you’ll see families gather round the many lakes and bays the state has to offer and remains one to the top reasons to move to Washington State.

Outdoor Activities

With three national parks within state boundaries – Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier, Washington is a mecca for those who enjoy the outdoors. Hikers flock to popular hikes such as Mt. Si., Rattlesnake Ridge, and Mailbox Peak, whereas those who prefer water sports are seen sailing, kayaking and fishing throughout the state.

Green

Washington State prioritizes sustainability and frequently ranks in the top five in various categories of the most environmentally friendly states. Especially in Western Washington, you’ll see an emphasis on recycling and composting as well as mass transit options such as the Light Rail and Sounder. In 2015, Washington State was ranked as the nation’s most bike friendly state and also hosts the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike race every year.

Diversity

With Seattle being a melting pot of different cultures, you’re surrounded by diversity. You’ll find yourself learning about new cultures on the regular and trying different foods. The row of restaurants adjacent to the University of Washington, informally known as the Ave, hosts over 50 restaurants of 30 different cultures. The diversity in this state inspires creativity and drives innovation statewide.

You might also like: 7 Steps to Buying a House in Pierce County.

 

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 Crockett’s Public House.

Community Recommendation: Crockett’s Public House

Crockett’s Public House is one of Puyallup’s most famous restaurants for a reason! It’s family friendly, has a wonderful backstory honoring an early Puyallup resident (Hugh Crockett), and has some of the best food in town. Some of my favorites include the calamari, fire grilled flat bread, lobster mac-n-cheese and marcona almond pesto with shrimp.

Crockett’s Public House has a long list of accolades. It’s been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, won best of showcase magazine award 2016, 2017, and 2018, has numerous features in the South Sound Magazine, Tacoma News Tribune (TNT Diner) and the Puyallup herald, and has been mentioned as a place to visit on King 5 News Evening.

Crockett’s offers a popular happy hour 3-6pm & 9pm-close Monday-Thursday, 10pm-close Friday-Saturday, and all day Sunday. Their special is $3 off all appetizers, and $1 off all beer wine and specialty cocktails.

Here’s what people have to say about Crockett’s Public House:

“For fear of making this place more popular, this is insane food and atmosphere! and the pricing is more than fair for the portions and the uniquely great food.” -Chris

“I love this place! best thing I’ve order is the veggie burger, even though I’m not a vegetarian this burger is amazing!! seriously… the patty is fried goodness with gooey cheese inside and the pesto sauce is amazing.” -Kira

“Our waitress, Courtney, was very welcoming, patient and kind. the food was really good! my husband had the meatballs and they were huge.” -Cathy

“Love their happy hour! My favorite is the sliders. I will have to come back to try the chicken and waffles because I heard they’re pretty good. Service was great! Thank you.” -Tiffany

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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 Maidify Cleaning Services.

Community Recommendation: Maidify Cleaning Services

When helping clients buy and sell homes, a common referral question I get is finding a trustworthy and thorough cleaning service. I have had wonderful success with Maidify Cleaning Services and like to refer them to my clients who are looking for a house cleaner. They offer a weekly, monthly and deep clean for clients to choose from. Maidify Cleaning Services is located in Steilacoom and focuses on helping homes in the South Sound region.

Before starting Maidify Cleaning Services, the owner was serving in the Army as a Helicopter Mechanic. After being honorably discharged, he decided to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. He tried to get part time jobs to relieve stress off of his family and attend school at the same time, but these “part time jobs” didn’t honor his school schedule and were demolishing his GPA at school. He was very upset and disappointed with most business establishments that claim they “help” College students, only to work them as like full time employees without any benefits.

He started Maidify Cleaning Services for 3 reasons:

  1. To provide part time jobs to local college students and prior military at JBLM
  2. To donate to charity
  3. To help relieve stress on local residents by providing them with a clean home

He wants to thank all the Veterans at JBLM and McChord Air Force Base for making the world a better place.

Maidify offers a 10% discount to Active Duty, Reserve and Retired Military.

For more information about Maidify Cleaning Services, visit their website or their Facebook page.

You may also like: Community Recommendation: PNW Grill

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.

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Stick On U

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.

You may also like: 4 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home