Real Estate August 29, 2012

America’s Most Hated Industries…

I received an article on Facebook from a friend yesterday and I decided to blog my response.  I think I shared with you my moving adventure earlier this month.  Now I will share with you that I bought 2 properties in WA in 2004 and 2 properties in 2005.  All from the proceeds of the sale of my condo in Channel Islands, CA.  One of my friends was a lender with Countrywide.  And again I was not in real estate and was depending on my lender and my agent to see me thru all this.  What I learned from this is that it is not their responsibility.  It is mine.

Taking Responsibility

Being an agent today, I can truthfully say, my views have changed.  It is my job to provide my clients with the best information available to help them make good decisions.  I am not a lawyer or an accountant and I do not give legal advice.  At any time, you can talk to a lawyer or accountant to get a better feeling about what you are doing.  But the bottom line is, it is the buyers responsibility to do their due diligence in regards to making the biggest purchase of your life.  Just because you can buy a home with very little down, doesn’t make it the right purchase for you.  Read the contract and make sure you understand the terms.  Get more than one good faith estimate.  If they won’t give you one, something is amiss.  I have had to learn the hard way…you don’t have to.

Inspecting the home.

If you are buying a home, you should plan to have a complete inspection done.  I will provide 3 inspectors that my clients have used and respect.  Generally, their cost is about $400, give or take.  You can find them online for half of that and you are welcome to use them, but my experience is that you don’t get a complete inspection.  Do they go into the attic and inspect?  Do they crawl under the house and inspect?  Are they certified for WA pest inspections?  Do they run the appliances to see if they are working?  Do they give you a written report with photos of the inspection?  The most important part is that you plan to be present at the inspection.  We have many unique reports and/or data that we supply to you to help you make the best decision for you.

My experience

I lucked out in that I bought two rentals in 2004 with 20 percent down and arm loans.  I didn’t  understand them to be honest. And I wasn’t present at the inspections because I bought them while living in CA. Big Mistake.  Now that I am in real estate and have more experience, I realized what I had signed on for and was able to sell them in 2007 before I got into deeper trouble.  So I am very careful when working with my clients to line them up with lenders that will take the time to explain the intricacies to them.  It is a big purchase and I want you to be happy with your choices and have an awesome experience but buyers have to take responsibility for what they are signing. The biggest benefit to you will be that you will enjoy your new home and that you can learn from my experience.

Tips August 8, 2012

I know what you are going through!

At the end of May, 2005, my mom who was 88 and I drove to WA to visit my sister and one of my closest friends in Gig Harbor.  On the spur of the moment, I decided to sell my condo in Channel Islands and move to Gig Harbor.  I made an offer on a house after looking at 10 in one day…and by the way, I was not a realtor.  Then I called one of my best friends, Christie Harth who had been an agent in the Palisades for 30 years, and told her I was selling my condo and moving my mom with me to Gig Harbor.

Decluttering is Key

OMG!!! I got home on Sunday, met with Chris who told me what to do on Monday…by the way, the same thing I tell my clients…take down all the family photos, pictures, and chatzkees, pack them up and put them in the garage.  You will move them anyway, so get going.  Take out most of the small furniture…put it in the garage.  You want to make the rooms look as big as possible. Chris didn't think I could do it because I  had so much stuff!!!  I have to admit, it was daunting because I had so little time and not much help…but I was determined.

Put Yourself in the Buyer's Shoes

I walked thru the rooms and looked for things that would turn me off if I was a buyer and I fixed them…there wasn't a lot, because I had just painted and put new carpet in…but I did take the smelly carpet out of my bathroom and put in vinyl…small cost to get a full price offer the first day on market….and all this happened in just 5 days. The house was listed on Saturday and open house was Sunday and we had a full price offer by end of day Sunday…much the same is happening today in lots of markets.  And I was working too!  One of the things I tell my clients is to paint the front door and make sure it looks great…it is the first thing prospective buyers see.

Worth it in the End

My goal was in sight and both houses closed on June 30, 2005 and we moved lock, stock and barrel on July 2 to Gig Harbor and I love it.  Best thing I ever did for myself.  Leaving my kids and friends was tough but the prospect of living in this beautiful community was awesome and I haven't regretted a minute.  I have made a lot wonderful new friends. And my old friends and kids love to come visit!

Gig Harbor June 16, 2012

Happy Father’s Day

In working yesterday for our Windermere Community Service Day assemblying furniture, I was reminded
of my dad and some of the things he taught me about teamwork.  You see, I started going to work with my dad
when I was really small.  He was a general contractor and built homes and churches in So. California. He always
had something for me to do to help him such as he would put on the molding around the hardwood floors and I would follow him setting the nails and puttying the holes before painting.  We were a team.

When he was building his home in Goleta, CA, I was hurt in a serious car accident when I was 20 and
spent the better part of two years in the hospital and in a wheel chair.  He created a big table for me to roll my
wheel chair under so I could measure and cut the sheet rock and he would hang it.  He hated to paint so I would cut the corners and along the crevice of the ceiling. Then he would roll the walls. After I was hurt, he did the cutting and set me up with a roller on a long pole so I could paint the walls from my wheelchair.  He taught me that nothing was impossible.

Dad instilled in me my work ethics and he always said, when the alarm goes off, get up and put your
feet on the floor.  It has carried me all these years through all kinds of challenges that I have had. I never give up.  Dad and I were Dodger fans and I am so happy that they are in first place this year! I have listened to the Dodgers with dad since I was 6 when they moved to LA.  Although my dad has been gone since December of 1995, I still miss him.  He could fix anything and he never graduated from high school.

So when I think of all the things we accomplish in life and work, I think of being on a great team!  And surrounding myself with people I can trust to share my life with is the most important thing to me and I thank my dad for all he taught me about being a team player.

Tips June 8, 2012

Keeping your raspberries and blackberries from molding!

Berries are delicious, but they’re also kind of delicate. Raspberries
in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home
from the market. There’s nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint
of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find
that fuzzy mold growing on their insides. 

Well, with fresh berries just starting to hit farmers markets, we can
tell you that how to keep them fresh! Here’s a tip I’m sharing on how
to prevent them from getting there in the first place:

Wash them with vinegar.

When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar
(white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. Dump the
berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want
(though the mixture is so diluted you can’t taste the vinegar,) and pop
in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria
that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila! Raspberries will
last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without
getting moldy and soft. So go forth and stock up on those pricey little
gems, knowing they’ll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.

Gig Harbor June 2, 2012

Gig Harbor and Ventura

Crossing the Fox Island Bridge

I was thinking about what I love about Gig Harbor and what I miss about Ventura, Ca where I was raised.
We are surrounded by the Sound and everywhere I go I get views of the water that are breathtaking morning and night. Now that it has warmed a bit, we can go without a jacket a lot. And the smell of the air is wonderful…one of the things I noticed the first time I came up here in the 80’s was how good the air smelled. And the trees…love the trees. It fills my senses in a way that Ventura doesn’t but I miss the familiarity of the beach and Palm trees. Sometimes I ache for home so I go see everyone then I am ready and can’t wait to get back to Gig Harbor. And I miss the warm weather in Ventura in the winter but enjoy the occasional snow. Crazy isn’t it?

Gig Harbor May 25, 2012

First time homebuyers!

Before you make the decision to purchase a home, you should determine how much you can afford to pay
for one.  In order to buy a home, most individuals have to obtain a
mortgage, which is a loan for purchasing real estate.  A mortgage
requires you to pay back the amount of the loan and to pay interest.
Interest is the percentage amount of the loan you have to pay in
addition to the loan amount in exchange for the privilege of borrowing
the money.  Generally, you should keep your monthly mortgage payments under 1/3 of your monthly gross income.
It is possible to get a rough calculation of what your monthly
payments would be by entering your overall loan amount, interest rate,
and the length of the mortgage (see’s calculator).

Once you have determined that you can afford to purchase a home, you should compare different mortgage options.
Mortgages can vary based on length, interest rate, and repayment
terms.  Generally, you can choose either a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year
mortgage.  The 15-year options usually offer lower interest rates.  In
choosing a mortgage term, bear in mind that the shorter the term, the
quicker you pay off your house, and the more you force yourself to save
each month.  But, don’t take on a mortgage that you can’t afford to pay – a mortgage default and foreclosure can seriously impair your credit, and you could end up losing your home.

Mortgages also vary based on whether they are fixed-rate or
adjustable-rate.  Fixed-rate mortgages allow you to retain the current
interest rate and pay that for the life of the loan.  With
adjustable-rate mortgages, the interest rate changes throughout the life
of the loan in conjunction with the market interest rate.  You should
check into how these adjustable rates are calculated and estimate
whether the total cost of your loan will be greater or less than the
total cost of a fixed-rate mortgage.

Lastly, mortgages can vary based on repayment terms.  Talk to a
qualified lender to learn more about these.

Real Estate May 17, 2012

Getting refinanced!

I have a friend who bought their home in 2006 from a relative. So they paid top price. They have tried 10 times to refinance and their interest rate is almost 7 percent. They have always made their payments and their jobs wages have increased but were always told by their lender and other lenders that their loan to value was too high which means they owe more than the house is worth.. At one time they talked about walking away from it. Everytime a new plan would come out from the banks, I would encourage them to apply. Finally, yesterday they finally got it done after 3 years trying. Their payments on this $270,000 home dropped $600 per month. Don’Blog Postst take no for an answer.

Gig HarborReal Estate May 9, 2012

Foreclosure frustrations!

The banks are now asking for the buyer to pay the excise tax which is normally the seller’s responsibility! They are also demanding that the buyer pay both the seller’s as well as the buyer’s title and escrow fees which can dramatically increase the downpayment needed to close a transaction. In some cases this is negotiable but as we see multiple offers more and more, the banks are taking advantage of this. And adding these costs to the price of the house can affect the appraisal. So Buyer Beware!

Gig Harbor May 4, 2012

Loving Gig Harbor

When I first drove thru Gig Harbor in the early 2000’s to visit a friend who had recently moved here, I fell in love with this quaint, beautiful town. It became my dream to live here. I bought my first properties in 2004. I came up on vacation with my mom in May 2005 to visit my friend and my sister, and voila! By July 1 I had bought house in Seacliff and sold my condo in Channel Islands. I was living my dream and loving it!