Gig Harbor June 17, 2015

How I found my dream home!


I have been a Realtor for almost 10 years and this is the first home I have purchased since becoming a Realtor… my 8th purchase.  Up until I became a Realtor, I totally relied on the agent I hired and I realize how important the choice of an agent is and how important it is for you to participate in your home purchase.

But back to finding a dream home.  I always tell my clients to write down their 10 wants in a home.  If there is a partnership or marriage, they both write down their list of 10.  It is never the same and very important for each person to have their input or they will never come to terms with a home that satisfies both of them.  Then they sit down and narrow it down to the top 10 and the secondary 10.  It is always good to mark the top 3 things that are most important to you/both of you.

I did this. I made my list.

1.   And I started my search knowing that number one was price and that I might not find what I wanted in my price range. 

2.   2 car garage

3.   Covered front porch

4.   Walk in closet

5.   One level

6.   Fireplace

7.   Vaulted ceilings

8.   A window over the sink that opens and has a view!

9.   Shower in the master

10.  3 bedrooms

I wanted to be in Gig Harbor but I left it off because I was open to other areas.

Every time something came on, I scouted it out.  It was challenging because my business has been crazy busy this year and I really believe if you write it down, the universe will supply.  I am disabled and needed a bath with a shower and not many steps.  One day I looked at a VA foreclosure that I saw online and had passed over because it was so vanilla… and I was looking for something that said dream home.  It was over my price range but had been on the market for 60 days.  I looked at it, took friends to look at it and finally realized that it was not my dream home as it was, but if I could get it at a price I wanted…I could make it my dream home eventually.  It had two full baths which meant that I was looking at a remodel job down the road to get my shower in the master. But… it had every other thing on my list.  I forgot to mention that the VA installed new carpets and vinyl in the baths before they put it on the market, not my choice but clean and inhabitable. Later I will put in wood floors.

With patience and faith, I made my offer and it took me almost 4 weeks and several price reductions as agents kept showing it and no one made offers.  But eventually with counters back and forth, we came to an acceptable number I could handle.  And it was a VA foreclosure so I knew from the beginning that I was going to pay their closing costs, pump and repair the septic if there were problems, which there were (A pump had to be replaced).  My inspection showed that the heating system was in need of a major repair and that would have to be fixed before closing thanks to the appraisal… but the rest of the house was pretty good.  I chose to replace it as it was close to the end of it’s life. It appraised quite a bit over what I paid so the VA was not going to paythe costs to fix it, but they did fix it before closing and took it out of the 3 percent closing costs they had offered me. 

Today I have painted the whole interior, bought new appliances, put up new lighting fixtures and made it my own.  It is looking pretty cute and my front porch is covered and perfect. It is the first time in over 3 years I have had an oven and a dishwasher.   But the best thing is the wonderful neighborhood and great neighbors which I am thoroughly enjoying.

It’s not always the granite or the perfectly manicured yard that makes a home.  It is your personal touches and the heart that you put into it.

Tacoma March 18, 2015

UPS Gardens


How an unsightly neighborhood patch of brush and weeds with junk cars turned into a wonderful Tacoma North End Neighborhood garden and park:


Barbara and Peter Temple Thurston have lived in this neighborhood for 24 years.  About twelve years ago Barbara began working with the City of Tacoma to gain access to  an unsightly dump area at the head of Buckley gulch, They designated the area as a public park that folks could use as a pleasant walk through from the east side of N. 16th to the west side of N.16th.  Then Barbara and Peter, with the help of the city and a friend or two, set about cleaning up the waste lot. They hauled away junked car parts, and built soil, created a path, and planted trees and plants to establish a peaceful and  beautiful space.  Thanks to a neighborhood grant that Barbara secured they were able to buy some plants and hire a fellow to build the path.

Adjacent to the park was a defunct substation. Around five years ago when the park was doing well, Barbara and a couple of neighbors pursued gaining access to the fenced empty substation to establish a community garden. Again, this took countless meetings with TPI who owned the property, with the city, and with representatives of the city and neighborhood councils. Big thanks go to the North End neighborhood council for their assistance and support.

A couple of years of pressure and at last they got the green light! Barbara and Peter called a meeting of interested neighbors and formed a solid committee to plan and build the now flourishing garden. Again, Barbara accessed a grant which funded the building of raised beds and the purchase of a delightful little gazebo which adds charm and beauty to the garden. Peter, an artist, designed the front gates and sign, while others built the shed and everyone came together to build the boxes. The fence and the surrounding shrubbery was already there thanks to TPU's stewardship, so after the garden boxes were filled and the gazebo built, neighbors donated a table and chairs.  Neighbors quickly signed up for a garden bed and today they enjoy both the peace of this beautiful setting and the delicious harvest of their organic produce! Everyone has made friends with their neighbors.

Gig Harbor July 1, 2014

Uptown – Gig Harbor










In Gig Harbor we have a great shopping area called UPTOWN!.  It has a wide variety of stores including Marshall's, Chico's, JJill, and our newest addition is Home Goods…opening soon to name a few!  There is a 12 screen Century Theatre complex and a wide variety of restaurants including Vietnamese/Thai (LeLe's), Pizza (Fondi's), Cupcakes (Melissa's), Mexican Food (Blue Agave), Ice Cream (Ben and Jerry's) and great hamburgers (Blazing Onion). On Thursday during the summer there is an outdoor area and live music with room to dance.

Gig Harbor July 1, 2014

Sea Hags in Gig Harbor

My friend Denese and I were out strolling in Gig Harbor down on Harborview St. and saw this adorable shop called Sea Hags!  When we went in…guess who I ran into?  Melissa Moller is the owner and operator and Melissa used to own a store in Alaska and wanted to open one here.    It has been open since August and has really great ocean- inspired items for the home.  One of the items is a water fountain made out of used propellers.  She has gorgeous clocks, jewelry, housewares items of all prices ranges beautifully handcrafted by local artisans.  Please stop in and see Melissa and tell her Joyce said hello.


Sea Hags – 8805 North Harborview Drive, Suite 201 Gig Harbor, Washington 98332 – Near Anthony’s on the water.


Gig Harbor April 17, 2013

Happy Hour At The Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor!

Yesterday was a gorgeous day and on days like that in Gig Harbor, we want to be on the water.  And what better place to go than The Tides!  When it is warm you can sit on the deck and enjoy the sunshine.  For now, it is great to be inside and surrounded by friends and the water view. I meet friends there or take my clients. They have wonderful Halibut Fish and Chips, Clam Chowder, great salads, a wide variety of hamburgers and sandwiches as well as specials.  Beer, Wine and an open bar.  Big TV’s for the games.  Just a fun place to go! Service is great and now they have an expanded parking lot!  You can tie up your boat there or do like the Gig Harbor folks do…come by kayak and have lunch! If you have time, check out all the pictures on the wall of patrons all over the world in their Tides Tavern apparel.  I sent a shirt to one of my friends in Iraq to get his photo up there.

Gig HarborReal Estate April 11, 2013

Getting Prequalified…before you look at homes!


It always seems that something drives to me write about issues that come up!  And here is another one that happened to two of my clients.  We looked at 10 – 12 homes, choose one that they fell in love with and all the while, thought they were prequalified…and they weren’t.  Lender rules have changed dramatically in the past several years and Realtors and Lenders are under stricter guidelines.  When Realtors ask you for a prequalification letter from your chosen lender, we are not doing this to make you feel bad.  We are protecting your time and investment in looking for a home.  There is nothing more frustrating than to spend time looking, running numbers, making decisions, dreaming and then finding out you can’t buy.

If you are putting a large down-payment down or paying cash, be prepared to provide documentation that your down-payment is accessible.  Cross out account numbers and provide it to your Realtor.  Your Realtor Is often required to  send it in with the offer and any preapproval letter you have provided.  If you have cash under your mattress, you have to document where it came from.  Ie:  One of my clients sold a Streamline Trailer and put the cash in his bank account.  It held up closing while we waited for him to find the buyer and get a receipt to prove where it came from at the last minute.

Lender rules are tougher and Realtors have to abide by them.

Your Realtor and your Lender are your team and are here to help you in any way possible.  If you need a Realtor, call me.  I would love to be your dream guide.


Joyce Shipley



Gig Harbor January 26, 2013

Teatro Zinzanni

I wanted to share with you a wonderful experience I had with my friends(Kathy, Debbie, and PJ) in Costa Mesa, CA.  While visiting down south over the holidays this year, we got tickets to this production.  It said dress up in your boas and tiaras…so we did.  They offered a 5 course meal which was catered and delicious and we found out it is based in Seattle by the Key Arena.  There were jugglers, acrobats, high wire acts, singers and a wonderful comedian (pictured) who came out in these funny costumes and drew the audience in to participate.  The waiters were the actors also and it was just hilarious, good fun and we enjoyed it immensely.  I would recommend it to you and hope you will take a minute to check it out.  222 Mercer St, Seattle · (206) 802-0015

Gig Harbor December 1, 2012

Quick Claim Deeds and Cashiers Checks On Closing Day!


Blogs happen when something prompts me to write them and today is one of those days.  Let me preface this by saying, I love my clients!  And I keep in mind that I have to impart to them the details so their life is easier and therefore mine is too.  But sometimes, things come up and I learn something too.  For this closing, I learned two things!

  1. Quick Claim Deed.

If you want to buy a property and put your friend, child or someone on the title by a quick claim deed, it can be done most of the time after closing because there are few escrow companies that will facilitate them and they give you the paperwork and you do it yourself…after closing. Today I learned from the escrow company handling this closing that if you wait to do it later, the Pierce county recorder is now charging almost a percentage point in excise tax to put them on later.  So in order to do it at the time of closing, you must think about it ahead of time and get the lenders approval as well as a title report on the individual. But it can be done. Also that individual has to sign a document at escrow. This varies in other areas.


  1.  No Cashiers Checks Accepted on Closing Day!

My client went to the bank this morning to get a Cashiers check for closing.Unfortunately she didn’t do it yesterday as she said she was.So the escrow company turned it down and she had to go back to the bank to wire the funds.There are some escrow companies that only accept wire transfers.It is important to determine ahead of time how you will bring in your funds.And the frustrating part is that sometimes you can’t get the amount needed until the last minute for a variety of reasons.  So being mentally prepared to just go with the flow makes life easier and less stressful. Plan to wire your funds.The escrow company will give you the instructions and keep them with you.When you get the amount from escrow, go take care of the wiring of funds.

Gig Harbor December 1, 2012

Answering your question…what happens at closing?

What happens at closing?  It is confusing and makes everyone anxious.  Once the escrow gets loan documents, several things have to happen. 

a.            The escrow company completes a HUD statement of all the charges for both buyer and seller which is then sent to the lender to be approved.  This includes seller payoffs.   It also comes to the selling and buying agents for approval.  Once the lender signs off on it, then they call the seller and buyer to arrange signings.

b.            As a buyer or seller you will go in to sign the selling documents at escrow.  If you can’t go to escrow, they can arrange a signing for you at an additional charge usually.  Let your agent know your availability so we can plan around your schedule.

c.             Once you have signed your documents…usually 1 – 2 days prior to closing, the documents get sent back to the lender for a final look see.  They may call the buyers employer to verify your employment or even pull your credit again.  That is why we say…don’t go buy a car or charge up your credit cards with furniture etc. until it is closed.  It changes your FICA score and can totally mess up your loan.

d.            Once the bank has approved it, they will fund in the morning or by 1:30 on closing day.  At that point the escrow company releases it to close and it is taken to be recorded.  The only time you can sign and close on the same day is if you are paying cash. 

e.            Once we have recording numbers, the buyer gets keys and all is wonderful.  Congratulations!  You are a new home owner.  Always feel free to call me with your questions!

Gig Harbor October 31, 2012

Autumn in Gig Harbor!

The trees are turning and it is absolutely beautiful everywhere we look.