Fall is a good time to take care of home cleaning projects you didn’t want to do when the days were sunny and long in the summer. Take some time this fall to give your home some TLC with this fall home maintenance checklist.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Care for trees and shrubs

If you have trees on your property, fall is the time where you’ll need to trim the trees and rake the leaves off the ground. Fall is also a good time to keep an eye out on your trees to make sure that the trees don’t show signs of disease. These signs include early change in leaf color, pines looking thin and sparse, and needles turning brown.

Clean gutters

One of the most important items on the fall home maintenance checklist is checking the gutters. Either hire a professional to clean your gutters, or clean them yourself on a clear weekend. Try to avoid scheduling the cleaning on a rainy weekend since it’ll just make the job more difficult. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your siding.

Seal exterior gaps

Take a walk around your home and take note of any small gaps where a rodent could enter your home. Mice only need a tiny gap to enter your home and raid your pantry. With the cold winter on it’s way, many small animals will be making their way to warm places to make a home during the cold weather.

Stock up on winter supplies

Make sure you have an ice scraper for each of your cars. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you are running late to a meeting and have to wait an extra 15 minutes for your car to manually defrost. Also, restock emergency kits for your car and home if needed. Additionally, to prepare for the snow, make sure you have a snow shovel on hand so you’re able to exit your driveway. The main streets may get shoveled by the city but your driveway doesn’t.

Check safety devices

Another one of the most important tasks on the fall home maintenance checklist is to test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors around your home. As the weather gets cooler, and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home. If you find that you have unhealthy levels of radon in your home, hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.

Deep clean the kitchen

How long has it been since you truly deep cleaned your kitchen? Probably too long. Take the cozy time in the fall to tackle some of the more laborious kitchen cleaning tasks. These tasks include cleaning the oven, scrubbing tile grout, washing the walls, washing the garbage/recycling bins, and cleaning light fixtures. When the busy holiday season comes where you have a bunch of family visiting at all times, you’ll be glad you took the time to make your kitchen sparkle.

You may also like: 4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

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.

You may also like: Financial Benefits of Owning a Home

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 Pour Me Bar & Bistro in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation: Pour Me Bar & Bistro

Pour Me Bar & Bistro is one of Puyallup’s newest hang out spots for fun, food, sports, music, drinks, and more! Pour Me opened it’s door in July 2020, and has made quite the splash in the Puyallup community just in the few short months of being opened. Dinner specials vary from the prime rib, to greek pizza, to street tacos, and we must not forget about the amazing lineup of drinks! The Itty Bitty Bloody Mary, eclectic seasonal beers on tap, and wine + cheese boards make you understand why they named their business Pour Me Bar & Bistro. The overall atmosphere is friendly, warm, and the staff is top notch.

Here’s what customers have to say about Pour Me Bar & Bistro:

Food was delicious! Love that they offer so many options and have a way of taking ‘bar’ food to the next level. Great atmosphere and fantastic friendly staff! Perfect for date night or to get together with friends! – Jennifer

Love this place, definitely a favorite. Food is great, service is awesome. Also, the clientele you might meet is also exciting. Highly recommended. It’s my FAVORITE place!!! – Dee

I had a really good time on the opening night the food was amazing and drinks were perfect. It has a very welcoming feel to it and is a place I would recommend to everyone. – Donnie

Finally a great new place on South Hill with great food and drinks! This is the new spot to relax and enjoy a few cocktails and a great steak! – Danny

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Scholz Farm and Garden

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

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 Scholz Farm and Garden in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation: Scholz Farm and Garden

I love supporting local and especially love when the owners have a wonderful story and purpose. Scholz Farm and Garden owns and operates a 4th generation family farm in the Puyallup/Orting valley. They are famous for their locally grown sweet corn and the Pumpkin Palace in October. They have a small retail store located right on the farm that is open daily from 9am to 5pm, April through October. Their greenhouses are open and offer some beautiful flowering baskets, potted flowers, and healthy vegetable starts for your gardens.

Scholz has an abundant selection of produce including sweet corn, berries, melons, green beans, zucchini, nectarines, tomatoes, and onions just to name a few! Shopping at Scholz Farm and Garden feels personal, and the owners are extremely helpful in their knowledge of produce and plants. They are pros at gardening and will even help answer any of your personal gardening questions!

Here’s what others have to say about Scholz Farm and Garden:

“I came by today for the first time. Just ate dinner with fresh corn and watermelon and wow! Now I know why the lady helping me said I’ll be back just for the corn. I will definitely be back to freeze some! Absolutely amazing.” – Julie

“We’ve been going to Scholz Farms since about 2002. We’ve always had amazing times and the gang there is top notch! There produce is always great and their corn is hands down the best!! We go there for special flower baskets and veggie starts as well. Great people that have always done right by us and we bring new people there nearly every year! You have been and continue to be a tradition for the Patrick family! Thanks so much for all that you do!” – Eddie

“Your peaches are amazing. Just froze enough for seven pies and have a few left to eat fresh. I’ll be back for more corn later in the week and hope to freeze some of that as well. So much goodness to enjoy.” – Melanie

“You guys are so awesome! Always friendly and helpful. Even help us lug our produce to the car if our hands are full. Bought your green beans yesterday and made them with dinner. They were gobbled up!” – Kerry

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Bruno’s Family Restaurant & 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 Bruno’s Family Restaurant & Bar in Eatonville, WA.

Community Recommendation: Bruno’s Family Restaurant & Bar

Bruno’s Family Restaurant & Bar is located at the foothills of Mt. Rainier and gives off a warm family feel right when you enter the restaurant. When the co-owners adopted Bruno the dog from the Humane Society, they wanted to share his love for everyone by opening a restaurant that was perfect for Eatonville locals. Serving hearty American comfort food, Bruno’s is the perfect place to recharge. For a tail-wagging good time and amazing food, there’s no place better. One of my favorite features of Bruno’s is that they are dog friendly inside of the restaurant so you can dine with your pup at your feet, and meet new pups as well. The chowder, chicken friend steak, and homemade pies are must haves when you stop in!

Here’s what people have to say about Bruno’s Family Restaurant & Bar:

We had a wonderful dinner today! The 2 lb clams were wonderful, the beers were great, and the fish and chips, along with the chicken-fried steak, were delicious as usual. Best of all, our server Makai was outstanding! If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop on by for a down-to-earth dining experience 😋

-Ruth

This place and staying at the motel next door was definitely small town hospitality at its best. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, and great food whats not to love? This is going to be one of my new go to places when staying over when doing hikes on Mt. Rainier and to tired to drive home.

-Eric

Amazing food (best chicken fried steak ever!), fabulous friendly service and we got to dine with our dog at our feet, her own bowl of water and a puppy burger served as well as we enjoyed the patio with others. She even made another Sheltie friend! Can’t recommend enough. We have made it our go to after going to Mt Rainier just to have green beans and fresh pie!

-Serenity

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Deep Root Farm in Puyallup, WA

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.

You may also like: Tips For Millennial Homebuyers

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 Deep Root Farm in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation: Deep Root Farm in Puyallup, WA

With a name like Deep Root Farm, you would imagine that this company has fresh, local, and delicious food. This is beyond true! Every single person I talk to that has tried Deep Root has been blown away (including myself) and has told everyone they know to try this place! Deep Root has a variety of products from hydroponic micro-greens to baked goods. Deep Root is best known for their Amish bread and famous cinnamon rolls. Impress everyone at your next brunch with fresh scones and homemade jam. One of the best parts about this company is the owner – Monica Flores. She is so passionate about her business and it shows in every delicious decadent loaf of bread that she bakes. It’s one thing to sell good products, but it’s another to build relationships with every customer!

Here’s what others have to say about Deep Root Farm:

Her Amish breads are one of the best breads we have had, especially the garlic and herb one. We almost finish the entire loaf at dinner, and did I mention, they are huge. They are such a steal! Customer service are super friendly and great, too. We can’t wait to order more. You rock, Monica. -Nickie

I picked up my first order today and I’m in big trouble! Her rolls almost didn’t make it home. I ate 3 in the car. It’s only an 8 minute drive! Soft, light, buttery. Best thing that’s been in my mouth in a long time! Bread is gorgeous and we may have dessert before dinner. The cinnamon rolls are calling my name! Cornbread is beautiful! She is one of the nicest people I have met in a long time! We’re going to have a long, yummy friendship! Thanks so much!!! -Iris

Monica puts her heart and soul into everything she bakes and it definitely shows. If you haven’t tried her cinnamon rolls or fresh made dinner rolls, you’re missing out! They are absolutely the best I’ve ever had. Thank you Monica, I can’t wait to place another order soon!! -Nicole

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Bertoglio’s Pizza in Yelm, WA

 

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