In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking all things sewer related with Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector.

Vendor Recommendation Series: Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector

There are so many great things to say about Mike’s work. I was recommended to use him years ago, and haven’t changed sewer inspectors since! He is extremely thorough in his inspections and takes the time to answer any question myself or the clients have.

Some future home buyers don’t realize they need a sewer inspection, but the way I see if is that they can pay $200 for a sewer inspection now, or they can pay thousands and thousands of dollars later on to fix a sewer issue.

Mike works well with my home inspector and tries to schedule his appointment at the same time. This allows any questions to be answered on the spot, and sets the correct expectations for the home buyers. At the end of the inspection, Mike talks with myself and the home buyers about any potential concerns, and give recommendations of local contractors who can do the job.

Here’s what other clients have to say about his work:

Mike Shafer did a professional, thorough job in scoping the sewer line of a house I plan on buying.  He provided a USB memory stick of photos and videos of the sewer line inspection, which is handy for future reference. Also, Mike’s fees are reasonable, and not over the top. Recommended!

-Larry P.

Sewer inspector a trusted partner! As the owner and designated broker of Commencement Bay Broker we are highly focused on our clients experience and developing a long term relationship through the purchase and sale of real estate. As such it’s critical that our vendor partners share our focus and commitment to our clients. Sewer Inspector has earned our business repeatedly over the past 4 years and hundreds of inspections. The information that Sewer Inspector has provided our clients pre and post inspection has saved them ten of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. The experience and knowledge of Sewer Inspector is invaluable and I highly recommend their service. They are prompt, reliable and flexible which makes working with them very enjoyable. I recommend them to buyer , sellers getting their home ready for the market, investors looking to avoid costly changes to the budget and even other brokers! Countless times Sewer Inspector has gone above and beyond the call of duty. If you are looking for a professional company to provide excellent service and willing to go the extra mile to make sure the job gets done right, then call Mike Shafer, Sewer Inspector.

-Joe T.

You may also like: Vendor Recommendation Series: Vendor Recommendation Series: John Hayes, Farmers Insurance

Buying a home is a very exciting process, especially when it’s your first time. Your aim is to end up in a home that you love at a price you can afford. Take a look at these 5 first time home buyer mistakes and how to avoid them.

5 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

Not knowing what you can afford

Perhaps one of the most common first time home buyer mistakes is when buyers don’t know what they can afford. Falling into this trap can lead you to major disappointment or financial burden. If you don’t already have a budget make a list of all your monthly expenses including vehicle costs, student loans, credit cards, groceries, insurance, etc. Doing this exercise will help you stay aware of what you can afford so you are headed down the right track from the very beginning of the home buying process. 

Failing to consider additional expenses

Just because your budget says you can afford a certain amount, doesn’t mean you should buy a home that reaches the maximum. Once you’re a home owner, you will have additional expenses on top of your monthly payment. Now that you’re a home owner, you’re responsible for home owner property taxes, maintenance costs, and hoa fees. The last thing you want is to move into a new home and then not have enough to maintain your new home.

Being too picky

Being too picky is one of the most popular home buying mistakes as it’s easy to get your heart set on a specific kind of home. First time home buyers often have to compromise on something, be it price, location, style, etc, since their funds are limited. Additionally, if you have tunnel vision for a certain type of home, you may miss opportunities because you’re only looking in one direction.

Neglecting the home inspection

The home inspection is one of the most important steps in buying a home, especially your first one. A home inspection gives you peace of mind that the home you’re moving into is working in all areas, and that the home seller needs to fix all maintenance issues before you move in. By spending less than $500 upfront, you’re ensuring that your furnace is good to go, your rood doesn’t need replaces, your crawl space is clear, and so forth. If you run into one of these issues down the road, it’s up to you and your wallet to fix it.

Not thinking about the future

Yes it’s great for you to get your foot in the market so you can start building equity. But be strategic when doing so. If you want to have kids down the line, say 3-5 years from now, it’s good to find a place that’s decently safe, and is in a good school district. Even though these factors may not be important to you now, you will thank yourself later so you don’t have to move for factors that could have been considered earlier. This can be one of the most costly first time home buyer mistakes.

You may also like: 6 Home Buying Myths Debunked.

7 Home Quotes to Help Make Your House a Home

“Home is not a place it’s a feeling”

home quotes

This is one of my favorite home quotes because it’s true for everyone. No matter how many times you move houses, the feeling of home remains since you are creating memories with your family and friends. For those who travel frequently, relocate for work, or like to switch up the city of choice for the year, you still make every place you stay in your home.

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave and grow old wanting to get back to”

home quotes

When you’re young, there’s nothing you want more than to grow up and move out of your childhood home. But as you get older, the comfort and warmth of being home is so satisfying and calming.

“Home wasn’t built in a day”

home quotes

As a new home owner it’s easy to get caught up in the thoughts of wanting to decorate and fill your new home up with new Knick knacks right away. But remember, your home isn’t built in a single day. It’s years and years of memories spent with family and friends, souvenirs brought back from traveling, and small things that remind you of stories that happened in the home that make a house feel like a home.

“There’s nothing more exciting than moving into a new home”

home quotes

Moving homes can be refreshing for so many reasons. Maybe you simply wanted a change of location, maybe you wanted to wash away all the pain from yesterday, maybe you want to meet new people in the neighborhood. Whatever your reason is, moving into a new home is one of the most exciting feelings in the world.

“Disconnect to connect”

home quotes

These days, it’s really easy to lose yourself in social media and staring at a screen. When you’re at home, disconnecting from the stressors of screens can really help you recharge your battery. Disconnecting from electronics while friends and family are over is also a great way to make new memories with those you love the most. This is one of the most important home quotes to live by in today’s day and age.

“There is something permanent, and something extremely profound in owning a home”

home quotes

When you are the owner of a home, you take great pride in maintaining it. There is so much comfort in knowing that you own a large building and that you can decorate it however you want. If you want to build out the deck in the back, go for it! If you decide your paint scheme is totally off and want to go with an entirely new scheme, nothings stopping you!

“If you buy stuff you love, regardless of era or price, your home will be a true reflection of you”

home quotes

It’s really easy to feel pressure in decorating you home a certain way based on TV shows and internet photos. But remember, as long as you love what you’re setting out on display, it will be a true reflection of you and your memories. And that’s something the people you know and love will appreciate.

You may also like: 5 Simple Ways to Decorate Your PNW Backyard

Summer is officially here! And with summer comes late nights spent outdoors with friends. To maximize your time spent outdoors, you’ll need to have a backyard that you are happy with and is comfortable for you and your guests. Here are 5 simple ways to decorate your PNW backyard, so you’ll be THE house to hang out at this summer.

5 Simple Ways to Decorate Your PNW Backyard

Add a Fire Pit

Having a fire pit in your back yard automatically gives you and your guests something to do in your backyard for hours. You can either buy a metal one from your local hardware store, or you can construct one using stones. Add a few chairs around the pit and you’ll have yourself a fun and cozy place to relax. Because of the simplicity, adding a fire pit is one of the most popular ways to decorate your PNW Backyard.

Plant Your Favorite Herbs, Veggies, and Flowers

The wonderful thing about having a backyard is that you’re able to decorate it any way you’d like. Plants make a wonderful and warm decoration for your PNW backyard. A simple hack is to hang an over the door shoe holder on the fence, tucking herbs into the compartments to serve as a vertical planter. You can also place horizontal planter boxes around the edges of your backyard to provide an inner border. Additionally, plants can serve as great conversation starts and help you connect with your guests on similar planting interests.

Bar Cart

Having a bar cart around helps hosting gatherings in your backyard more convenient. Instead of having to go inside every time someone wants a drink or snack, the refreshments will be easily accessible on the bar cart. The great thing about bar carts is that they come in all different colors, so you can choose one that compliments your home or adds a pop of color. This is a simple way to decorate your PNW backyard.

String Lights

You’ll want to set the ambience as cozy and warm in your backyard so it remains inviting for you and your guests. While solar lights can do the trick, a much more aesthetically pleasing way to add light is to hang string lights from each side of your backyard. A bonus with string lights is that you can plug them into a master switch so that one button turns on/off all the lights. This prevents you from having to unplug and re-plug the cord each time you want to use your lights.

Tiki Torches

Unfortunately, here in the PNW, mosquitoes like to make their appearance in the summer months. Having a severely buggy backyard can deter you and your guests from hanging out in the backyard. A simple fix is to buy multiple Tiki torches for your local hardware store. These torches run off of oil that consists of bug repellent. Tiki torches also come in different styles so you can buy the ones that match your backyard style.

You may also like: 5 Ways to Add Curb Appeal in Tacoma, WA.

In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking all things insurance with John Hayes, Farmers Insurance.

Vendor Recommendation Series: John Hayes, Farmers Insurance

I can’t say enough wonderful things about John Hayes, Farmers Insurance. First off, his packages are hard to beat. He’s very thorough in explaining every aspect of my home, auto, and business insurance plans. John is also extremely proactive, in that he makes sure he gives me a call if a plan is up for renewal. He also creates comparison charts to show me the value I’m receiving from Farmer’s verses competitors. So naturally, I recommend him all of my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area.

My clients also rave about him as an insurance agent. He is timely in his responses, and makes sure my clients have all their questions answered. I sell quite a few homes in Orting, WA where there are pockets of homes that require flood insurance. The ability to text John on the fly asking if a certain address requires flood insurance helps me set clear expectations to my clients from that start. This way my clients don’t get their heart set on a home that they then realize it out of their price range with the flood insurance included.

His goal is to help you find the best insurance plan that is tailored to your specific needs for your business or family. He prides himself on the relationships we build with our clients. He invites you to stop by for a cup of coffee to meet him and his team. He offer insurance products such as: Home Owners, Commercial, Auto, Life, and more!

Give him a call at (253) 961-6626 or visit his website, and he’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

You may also like: Vendor Recommendation Series: Immaculate Home Inspection.

So you’re ready to make the move from renter to home owner. You have thought about the pros and cons and have decided that buying is the right thing to do. While turning to friends and family for advice is appealing, just aware of common home buyer myths. Here are 6 home buying myths debunked so you can do this thing the right way.

6 Home Buying Myths Debunked

Myth #1: The first step is looking for a home

The biggest risk of looking for homes before talking to a lender is setting your heart on a property, running the risk of having your dreams shattered if you don’t qualify to buy that home. Browsing is always fun, but when it comes to serious home buying work, the very first step is to talk to a lender to get pre-approved. This way you know exactly how much you can afford before you start looking at homes.

Myth #2: Your down payment must be 20%

Sure a 20% down payment is ideal if you want to avoid the private mortgage insurance. But not all buyers, especially first time home buyers are able to gather up 20% of their property in cash. Because of this many loan types such as FHA allow as low as 3.5% down, as long as you’re able to pay the monthly PMI.

Myth #3: The only upfront cost is the down payment

If only this home buying myth was true! In addition to your down payment, you’re likely responsible for closing costs, taxes, inspections, insurance, and any fees associated with the community you’re moving to. Not to mention all the fees that come with buying a new house: new appliances, new light fixtures, new hardware, etc.

Myth 4: You can’t buy with bad credit

This is one of the biggest home buying myths. While having lower than a 600 credit score might halt your conventional loan, FHA loans allow those with credit scores as low as 580 to qualify for a loan. When you talk with your lender they will help you raise your credit in the shortest amount of time. They can put your in credit repair courses that ensure progress in a short amount of time.

Myth #5: You don’t need a home inspection

You might be tempted to believe that you don’t need a home inspection, especially if you’ve bought a new construction home in a hot housing market. But beware, if you skip the inspection, you’re responsible for anything that is currently wrong with the home, including the things you don’t know about. The average inspection is under $500, so paying for an inspection up front can help you save thousands down the road and give you peace of mind.

Myth 6: The schools don’t matter if you don’t have kids

While you don’t actually have children attending the nearby school, good schools are a sign of a good neighborhood. This could impact the safety ratings if the neighborhood and overall crime rate. So even through you’re not involved in the school itself, you can take advantage of the benefits that come with living in a neighborhood near a good school.

You may also like: First Time Home Buyer Tips & Tricks.

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.

This 5 bedroom home located in the Summerwood Park neighborhood of Puyallup, WA is a must see home and will not last long. This home is nestled back off the main roads, yet just minutes away from all amenities, freeways, and JBLM. Check out the upgrades in one of the hottest homes for sale in Puyallup WA. 14002 63rd Ave E, Puyallup, WA 98373.

Homes For Sale in Puyallup WA – Summerwood Park

Chef Kitchen

Chef kitchen homes for sale in puyallup wa

The chef kitchen alone makes this among the most popular homes for sales in Puyallup, WA. With the double wide refrigerator, you’re able to store more food for your family, as well as impress your dinner guests. The extra wide island is the centerpiece of the kitchen holding 5 bar stools comfortably. The contrasting counters and cabinets makes this kitchen a timeless hub for you and your family to spend quality time and cook many meals together.

Hardwood Throughout

hardwood throughout homes for sale in puyallup wa

This craftsman home features hardwood floors throughout the main level of the home. The continued hardwood showcases the elegance of the home, as well as makes it easier to clean up after your family, friends, and fur babies. The medium brown color makes it simple to coordinate your furniture.

Open Loft

open loft in homes for sale in puyallup wa

The upstairs loft a comfortable space where your family can gather to watch movies and play games. With the open railings to the downstairs, the loft feels extra-large with light coming in at all angles. It also faces away from the stairs, giving you and your family privacy.

Full Laundry Room

laundry room in homes for sale in puyallup wa

Not only does this laundry room have a built in sink, it also features ceiling high cabinets, great for storage. With all of the cabinet space, you’re able to organize your cleaning liquids as well as use the space for extra linens if needed.

Covered Outdoor Patio

outdoor covered patio homes for sale in puyallup wa

With summer just around the corner, a covered patio is necessary. This home showcases a double wide covered outdoor living space, making in a top feature of this home and one of the most popular homes for sale in Puyallup WA. The openings on the 3 sides of the patio make it easy to enjoy the weather, while blocking out rain and snow. Additionally, with the open patio, you’re able to keep an eye out on the kids while they play in the yard.

To schedule a showing, call (253) 686-2174.

You may also like: First Time Home Buyer Tips & Tricks.

In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking about Immaculate Home Inspection.

Vendor Recommendation Series: Immaculate Home Inspection

I started working with Todd Obergfell from Immaculate Home Inspection when I got my real estate license back in 2005. I can’t tell you enough how awesome he is to work with. He is extremely thorough in his home inspections and even provides his clients with the home inspection report before he leaves that day. He comes prepared with a printer and prints it out right in front of them. This allows the clients to review the report with Todd and ask any questions they may have. Both home sellers and home buyers are extremely satisfied with his work.

Todd works in the Pierce County area, but travels to wherever his clients are. Back when he was just starting out I remember he opened up our consultation with a card trick. He is a people oriented guy that is trust worthy and incredible at what he does.

Read below for some testimonials on Todd Obergfell from Immaculate Home Inspections.

This is Customer Service!

“Todd at Immaculate Home Inspection was fantastic.  He gave us a very detailed home inspection report.  He will climb up on the roof, get into your chimney, root around your crawl space, and find every small nasty place that needs to be checked out! He is very professional and friendly, and costs less than other inspectors in the area. I’ve called him at least 5 times since he inspected our home, and is always helpful and available to answer questions.  He’s even come out at least 3 times to check out some problems we’ve had, and even gave us a complimentary spot pest treatment because he missed it during the inspection. This is customer service!”

Better Than Well Done

“Todd and his team gets our HIGHEST recommendation! They arrived early and got right to work. His inspection was both meticulously thorough and spot on! He left us with a detailed report, photos and the knowledge that we had a complete understanding of the home’s condition that we were purchasing, both the great and the no so great. He found a few minor issues that we would never have caught which aided us in the negotiation process! It was a pleasure to have met and had him conduct our home inspection, we really cant say enough about this professional inspector. Thank You again Todd for a job better than well done!”

17 Years Experience

“We hired Todd to come out for a pre home inspection and could not have found a more enthusiastic professional!  With 17 years of experience he had a great attitude and really enjoys his work which shows with his energetic and immaculate work ethic from start to finish.  Very much recommend him to anyone looking for a home or pest inspection!”

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

Buying a house is thrilling especially when it’s for the first time! The learning curve is steep, but doing a little financial homework can help you navigate the system and set you apart from the competition. Here are six first time home buyer tips and tricks to ensure your home buying experience goes smoothly.

First Time Home Buyer Tips & Tricks

Check your credit

As a first time home buyer, the more you know about your own financial situation the better. Your credit score is one of the most important factors in determining if you qualify for a loan. Simply, the higher your credit score, the higher the chances you qualify for a loan and the lower your interest rate on your mortgage. Visit Credit Karma for a free credit report that determines your overall score as well as areas of strength and opportunity.

Research agents

Not every agent is the best agent for you. Talk to your friends and family and see who they’ve had luck with in the past. You want your agent to be in your corner at all times, giving you confidence in the home buying process. Having a great agent will ensure the success of your transaction and give you peace of mind. Additionally, a great agent will have experience with first time home buyers like yourself and can have ready to go solutions for any bumps along the way.

Check out the neighborhood

Before you put an offer on a home, check out the neighborhood. A good rule of thumb is to avoid buying the nicest house on the block as it won’t appreciate as well. Remember, you’re not only buying a house, you’re also committing to the neighborhood, the block and general surroundings. Explore the closest grocery stores and shopping centers and decide if that commute is one you want to make on a weekly basis.

Schedule a home inspection

Just because the home you’re about to buy looks like it’s in good condition, it never hurts to get a home inspection. By having a professional inspector come to the skeleton of the house, you’re able to catch any red flags early on. For example, if the home inspector finds an issue with the roof, you can show the inspection report to the home seller and ensure that they fix the issue before you move in. Home inspections are generally under $500 and can save you thousands of dollars to fix issues you didn’t even realize where present in the house.

Be open-minded

As a first time home buyer, it’s easy to find what you think is your dream house and turn away any other options, passing up some hidden gems. Make a list of your non-negotiables and nice-to-haves so you don’t turn every bullet into a non-negotiable. Additionally, when homes in open houses are staged, they tend to complete your vision of living in the home. Don’t let this prevent you from buying an unstaged home, pay attention to the floor plan, moldings, and size or rooms.

Save up for closing costs

It’s not just the down payment you need to save up for when buying a home. You’ll also need to account for the closing costs, transfer tax, escrow fees and prepaid interest. By anticipating these costs when you first analyze your budget, you’ll avoid being blindsided by the costs at the end of the home buying process.

You may also like: 7 Steps to Buying a Home in Pierce County.