A large part of what makes a house a home is the neighborhood that surround the house. Amid the excitement of searching for the perfect house for you and your family, don’t forget to pay attention to its surroundings. After all, a neighborhood you love, may be worth sacrificing an extra bathroom or white cabinets. Here are 4 tips to finding the perfect Western Washington Neighborhood.

Tips to Finding the Perfect Western Washington Neighborhood

Note Your Most Frequent Stops

Make a list of all the places you visit on the regular so you know how far the western Washington neighborhood would be from your frequently traveled locations. These places include your gym, church, grocery store, relative’s house, or shopping mall. For each neighborhood you’re considering moving to, list how many miles and how many minutes it would take to drive there. The gas money alone may steer you toward a closer neighborhood. The last thing you want is to regret purchasing a house because it’s too far from your amenities.

School District

Even if you don’t have school age children, buying. A home in a Western Washington neighborhood within a good school district will lift the overall neighborhood safety as well as make your home easier to resell in the future. If you do have school age children, visit each school the home in question is zoned for and make sure it’s to your liking. It’s frequently difficult to opt in to a certain district if you are out of bounds, so make sure you’re setting up your kids for success.

Take a Stroll

Before signing your closing paperwork, make sure to walk round the community on a weekend. Are there a lot of families out and about doing the same thing? Or are most people sticking indoors with the blinds shut? Are people friendly who you pass? Are the parks and common areas well taken care of? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of the sense of community and can also be an indicator of safety. You want to know what to expect when you move into your new home.

Trust Your Gut

The Western Washington neighborhood may be safe and in a good school district, but none of that matters if you don’t feel comfortable there. Can you see yourself spending time on the front porch? Do you see yourself building lasting relationships with your neighbors? Do you think your kids will get along with the neighborhood kids? Your neighborhood can have a huge impact on your daily life. It’s worth the time and effort to research, to make sure you’re moving into the perfect place for you and your family.

You may also like: Benefits of a Smaller 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 Crumbl Cookies in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Crumbl Cookies

Who doesn’t love a gooey warm chocolate chip cookie?! Crumbl Cookies is home of the world’s BEST chocolate chip cookie. They also have a weekly rotating menu that gives you a variety of new flavors to choose from each week. You don’t even have to leave your home to have an exquisite freshly baked cookie. The delivery drivers can bring fresh cookies straight to your home. But, if you’re out and about and want to visit the store, Crumbl Cookies will welcome you with the unmistakable smell of freshly baked cookies. To all you foodies out there looking for a great photo op, Crumbl provides beautifully made cookies presented in a perfect insta-worthy pink box.

Here’s what others have to say about Crumbl Cookies:

BEST cookies!! We love the set up at the store, easy to order, no wait times and the staff is always so friendly and helpful! We are obsessed and we look forward to the new cookie lineup every Sunday!! The best is the warm Snickerdoodle but we always enjoy trying new cookies!! –Liz

I LOVE Crumbl! My family and I go here every Friday to try the new weekly flavors. The staff is very friendly and the store is always so clean. And of course the cookies are YUMMY! If you are ever in the mood for a treat, make sure you stop by. –Karly

I have a few friends who have said that Crumbl cookies were the absolute best. I kind of avoided them as I typically just like a cookie and nothing “extra,” but, let me tell you…from the first bite of these delicious cookies, I will be a regular for life. Truly the most delicious cookies I have ever had. –Stephanie

To learn more about Crumbl Cookies, visit: https://crumblcookies.com/

You may also like: Community Recommendation Series: Simply 3 Boutique

More people are working from home these days due to the novel Coronavirus. Companies have adapted and pivoted to the work from home lifestyle and some companies have made the decision to allow their employees to work from home for the unforeseeable future. So with all this added time at home, you need to be able to relax and unwind at home. It needs to be a sanctuary that brings you peace. For everyone feeling the need of a little change up, here are 5 simple tips to make your space feel like home.

5 Simple Tips to Make Your Space Feel Like Home


One of the best ways to make your space feel like home is to de-clutter. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. Remove all boxes and any piles of “junk.” Take time to finally go through those boxes in your office and create more space. You can even start small with one cabinet at a time, but reorganizing what you already have is the best way to find joy! You might also find that you have a bunch of items to donate or throw away, so taking trips to the donation center can help clear your space (and serve as a tax write off).

Make and create your bed

Your bed is your haven! Take an extra 2 minutes every morning and make the bed. After a long day, seeing that your bed is made and ready for you is very relaxing. Making your bed in the morning will help you kick start a day of productivity. In addition to making your bed each morning, pick up some new pillows for a refresh in color. These can be simple throw pillows, or even a new pillow sheet color. Adding something new and exciting to your haven can help make it inviting.

Wall décor

Your walls should smile back at you, especially the walls in the rooms you hang out in the most. Add personality to your space with frame of your family, temporary wallpaper, a travel poster, or maybe a mirror to make the place look bigger. The best part about this is that you can be totally creative and curate a wall of décor that makes you smile!


Balance the room with lighting. A bright space can help energize you, with floor lamps in 2 corners and maybe one next to seating (like a couch or corner chair). With all of the light, you’ll feel like the space is larger and you’ll feel ready to unwind.


When decorating for the 5 senses, don’t forget smell. A candle in the kitchen and the bathroom while you shower, make your home feel like an oasis. Some people also leave dryer sheets in dresser drawers or coat closets for more extra fresh moments in the space.

You may also like: Ways to Upgrade Your Kitchen Without Remodeling

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.

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 Simply 3 Boutique in Spanaway, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Simply 3 Boutique

Simply 3 Boutique is a women’s clothing and kids boutique. They also specialize in home décor and accessories. Simply 3 Boutique is located in Spanaway and is recently popular for their holiday pajamas/apparel and Christmas décor (ornaments, and other tree accessories). This is the perfect boutique for Washingtonians as they have woven a PNW theme throughout their items. Mountains, camping, and forests are popular themes you’ll see printed on their clothes and home décor items. Additionally, they have new inventory every season to fit your clothing and home décor needs. Community is very important to this boutique as they often participate in Sip and Shop events around Pierce County, and well as encourage their customers to support small businesses, especially in the COVID era. If you aren’t’ able to make it into their shop, they also have a user friendly online shopping portal where you can ship their inventory to your home. They are open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Here’s what people have to say about Simply 3 Boutique:

“This boutique has a wonderful selection and I can’t wait to purchase more to add to my collection!” -Maria

“Lots of cute stuff and tons of inventory!!” -Shawna

“I love that they have matching mama and kid clothing! Shirts, sweatshirts, dresses, pajamas, and more. Perfect for twinning and picture worthy! Every mama needs at least one matching outfit with her kiddos, and Simply 3 Boutique can hook you up!” -Rose

To learn more about Simply 3 Boutique, visit their website at https://www.simply3boutique.com/

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Alyssa Bailey Photography

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

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 Alyssa Bailey Photography in Puyallup, WA.

Community Recommendation Series: Alyssa Bailey Photography

Tis the season for family photos! While anyone can take a family selfie with their cell phone, it takes a talented photographer with professional experience and equipment to snap a natural and frame worthy family portrait. I’ve known Alyssa Bailey for many years and she just keeps getting better and better! I am constantly amazed at the beauty of her photography and have used her for my family photos in the past. She’s warm, personal, and helps bring out the fun and sweet side of the people she’s photographing. And on top of everything, she offers family, kids, maternity, newborn, and senior photos – talk about doing it all!

Here’s what people have to say about working with Alyssa Bailey Photography:

“Alyssa made this session so much fun! Thank your for capturing my crazy family!” – Jessica

“I am so in love with the photographs by Alyssa Bailey! She did an absolute amazing job at both taking them and making us feel comfortable and making it fun, and also editing them and making them even more beautiful. She is awesome and we are so thankful!” – Jackie

“Alyssa has a natural gift as a photographer. Her pictures are magazine perfect!” – Kim

“I cannot even see to type, crying my eyes out I love them SO much.” – Robin

As you can see, Alyssa’s customers love her and her work so much. Pictures capture a moment in time, and when done at a professional level, can be a person’s most treasured piece of art in their home. You can reach Alyssa Bailey Photography at her Facebook Business Page, or emailing her at alyssabailey1130@gmail.com.

You may also like: Community Recommendation: Pour Me Bar & Bistro

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
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