Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Importance of Listing Photos

See this house? It languished on the Orlando market for 224 days. It’s no wonder; right? That photo doesn’t exactly scream “you’ve gotta see me!”. Full Article
That’s before professional photographer Harry Lim was called by the home’s new listing agent — one who understands the importance of professional photography for his listings.
“I shot it on February 28 and delivered the images the next day on March 1,” said Lim. 
“On March 10 he told me a buyer had made an offer. So by my calculation, I believe the contract came in sometime between March 1 and March 9. To put it another way, after almost 8 months on the market, the home was under contract within 8 days after I took new photos.”
Lim is quick to give credit to the REALTOR® for the sale, but adds, “I have no doubt the photos helped. Take a look at some before and after shots.” 

Living room:

Lim says, “For the living room shot, my original composition was a little tighter. The REALTOR® asked me to pull back a little to show the hallway. I took his suggestion and I like it. It open up the room and gives you an idea of the space.”


Dining room:

“This is the second angle of the dining room. The first was a head on shot but this one shows you where the foyer and room off to the left.”


Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Ways Spring Home Sellers Can Gain an Edge

Along with tulips and daffodils, "For Sale" signs will soon be popping up across neighborhood lawns. An improving labor market in the U.S. is expected to spur increased home sales in 2015, so if you've been wanting to sell your home, low interest rates and tight inventory levels should create an attractive environment. Full Article

Here are five things you can do to get a leg up on the competition this spring.
1. Spring-clean your home. Take the time to do a deep cleaning on your home. Clean your windows. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Clean the grout in your ceramic tile. Consider whether your carpets need cleaning. Cleaning also means sprucing up your landscaping, which includes flower beds and bushes.

2. Clear the clutter. It's time to get out the packing boxes. If you are serious about moving, start packing now. Think about getting a small storage locker. Lighten up the house. If the living room has too much furniture, it doesn't look usable.

3. Use color themes. It's OK to be a little bold with color, but make sure everything matches. It used to be that everything had to be neutral colors -- beige or white. Now, people are bringing color into their homes. But make sure that everything goes together.

4. Consider getting a home inspection. Typically, many homebuyers get a home inspection before completing the purchase of a home. Why not find out ahead of time which items the home inspector will report need attention? The key is to be proactive. Maybe there is a small drip in the faucet or there aren't electrical ground-fault circuit interrupters where they are supposed to be, near water. These can be a small fix, and it creates a less-hassled transaction. 

5. Don't hike up the sale price. Real estate experts advise being realistic when it comes to your selling price. It needs to be competitive. Pricing a home too high can eliminate some potential buyers from even viewing your house, and that could mean your house sits on the market longer. If eventually you decide to do a price reduction, buyers may wonder what is wrong with the home.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Wow, it's almost March! The market is defiantly picking up and we had the best March since 2009 with 38 new listings. Below are some of the listings for the month.

If you have any questions or need an assistance in listing your home please don't hesitate to call 800-915-9174 or email.

Listing Price: $250,000 

Commercial office space includes four work stations, a four line telephone system, built in cabinets, filing cabinets, and an updated bathroom. Perfect for a small business. Turn-key ready! Could also be a studio by adding a shower and kitchen.

Listing Price: $1,230,000

Listing price: $550,500
Sale Pending in 3 days

2 Bedroom 1-1/2 Bath split level home. Original Hardwood floors, Bay windows with view of Puget Sound All major appliances, Home in great shape on a large lot

Listing price: $259,000

Nice Lk Stevens home on a quiet street with cul-de-sac, large park and wetlands. Home has open concept floor plan, spacious master BR and large walk-in closets, 2 more bedrooms and 2 full baths. This is a certified green property w/ energy saving features, including Bryant 90 HE gas forced air heating system and tankless water heater (no costly baseboard heaters!!), new no VOC paint and extra insulation. All appliances are included. Fenced yard, ADT security system. A must see!

Listing price: $569,000
Sale Pending

Quiet, on a dead end street, view of Forest Park, multiple decks, large private fenced back yard, attached garage, pool/recreation room, lots of light, large kitchen. One block to Lost Park which has tennis courts and play structure for children. Good school district. 

Listing Price: $695,000

Wonderful home in the highly sought after neighborhood of South Cove, blocks from Lake Sammamish. The house has many recent updates including the back yard, sport court and amazing great room with gourmet kitchen. The house has three bedrooms with a large open lower level and tons of storage. Great house for entertaining with the open dining/kitchen/family room area. Fully fenced yard great for kids/pets and sprinkler system.

Listing Price: $ 355,000

Beautiful 3 bedroom 2 bath rambler home completely remodeled. Sits on a large lot with lots of backyard privacy. Large front porch overhang, spacious living room with bamboo flooring and stunning fireplace. Kitchen is remarkable with Cherry cabinets, granite counter tops and beautifully tiled floor. Master Bdrm has private full bath. All new plumbing, and electrical system. 2 storage sheds. Lot size .39 acre and has lots of possibilities. RV parking. Located near shoreline schools.

Listing Price: $319,000
Sale Pending

Beautifully remodeled single level home. Min. to downtown and Springwater trail. 3 bdrm,1.5 bath, new kitchen w/ ss appli, recessed lighting, hardwoods/ceramic tile, slab granite kitchen/bath, new int/ext doors, new windows on main/bsmt,upgraded
electrical, 1200 sqft part. finished bsmt,new wood stove,hot tub,low maint. landscaped yd, wonderful neighbors, peaceful neighborhood.

Sales Price: $320,000
Sale Pending 

Great location! One-owner, SFH with DEN, 5-pc master bath, walk-in closet, linen closet, laundry room, laminate entry, built-in microwave and tons of storage, 2-car attached garage plus amenities incl. pool, hot tub and weight room in cabana. All appliances stay. Low maintenance yard, rear fenced yard with patio, on bus line, 15 minutes drive to Seattle or Bellevue. Fairwood Shopping Ctr short walking distance. Nearby parks; lakes; golf; walking, biking,and jogging trails.

Sales Price: $680,000
Sale Pending

Great location! One-owner, SFH with DEN, 5-pc master bath, walk-in closet, linen closet, laundry room, laminate entry, built-in microwave and tons of storage, 2-car attached garage plus amenities incl. pool, hot tub and weight room in cabana. All appliances stay. Low maintenance yard, rear fenced yard with patio, on bus line, 15 minutes drive to Seattle or Bellevue. Fairwood Shopping Ctr short walking distance. Nearby parks; lakes; golf; walking, biking,and jogging trails.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

First Time Home Buyers Roadmap

Here are 12 tips for buying your first house: Full Article

Make sure you’re ready to buy, both emotionally and financially. If you expect to relocate in a few years, this may not be the right time for you to buy. If you don’t have cash for a down payment, closing costs and other expenses, you may be better off waiting. Look at your life, your career, your finances and your future expectations, and determine whether buying a house is the right move at this time.
Find the right team. The difference between deals that close and deals that don’t are the professionals involved. You want to make sure you find a real estate agent who will move quickly when a new listing goes on the market, as well as an agent who will advise you honestly on preparing your offer. You also want a mortgage professional lined up before you start looking. “The lender is the most important person to closing on time,” Simon says.
Get your finances in order first. Some real estate agents won’t even show homes to prospective clients who don’t have a mortgage preapproval. You definitely should meet with a mortgage broker or banker (better yet, several) at the start of the process to find out how much house you can afford and how much cash you’ll need to close. Do all the math. Just because a bank says you can borrow $200,000 doesn’t mean you should. If you have credit issues, realize that this part of the process could take several months.
Calculate each and every cost. The purchase price and the mortgage payment are just the beginning. Don’t forget homeowner or condo fees, homeowners insurance and real estate taxes. Plus, you’ll need to budget for utilities, repairs and maintenance.

Don’t spend all your cash. Avoid emptying your bank account for your down payment and closing costs. There will always be unexpected repairs. Plus, it costs money to move, change locks, put down utility deposits and buy things you never needed before, like a lawn mower.
When you look at houses, focus on the right things. Don’t be distracted by the owner’s odd d├ęcor, paint colors, dirty carpet or anything that is easy to change. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are easy to add later. You can’t easily add another bedroom, a better location or a more functional floor plan.
If you're buying in a condo or homeowners association, know the rules. How your association is run can make a big difference in how much you enjoy life in a development. You’ll want to know about all rules and restrictions, from pet ownership to who can use the pool. Condo buyers also want to investigate the association’s finances because a poorly run association can mean big assessments later.
Visit your favorite neighborhoods at different times. Most neighborhoods are quiet in the middle of the day. As Glen Craig writes at the personal finance blog Free From Broke: “You need to see what the area is like on a Saturday night. Are there kids and such all out driving with music blasting? What’s it like in rush hour in the morning or in the evening?”
Talk to the neighbors. Ask about the neighborhood and about the houses you’re considering. The neighbors will know if there are foundation problems. They’ll also know about barking dogs, petty crime and the size of utility bills.
Consider which contingencies you’re willing to waive. In the ideal scenario, a purchase offer is contingent on a satisfactory home inspection, approval of your mortgage and an appraisal that equals the purchase price. In most parts of the country, a buyer is smart to keep all those contingencies in the contract. But in a competitive market, you may be competing against buyers who have agreed to waive contingencies. “You never want to [agree to waive them] unless you’re sure you’re 99 percent safe to do it,” Simon says.
Be ready to move quickly once you find the home you want. Good homes that are well-priced nearly always sell quickly. It’s OK to take some time to think before you make an offer, but you might not want to wait a few weeks. Your agent can provide invaluable advice here.
Know what’s important to you. No house will be perfect, so where are you willing to compromise? If you want a specific school district, are you willing to accept a smaller house? If you want to be near the water, could you be happy with a condo? Are you willing to accept a longer commute to get a larger house?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five basic ways to boost home value before selling

A seller may be able to boost the value of a home by an additional 12 percent with just a few smart pre-listing repairs, according to a new survey of 300 residential real estate professionals by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Full Article

"You don't have to spend a ton of money to increase the value of your home," said Dan DiClerico, senior editor for Consumer Reports. "Some simple, inexpensive fixes throughout the house can make it more appealing to potential buyers."
Here are some of the fixes that the Consumer Reports survey of real estate professionals uncovered as being the most important:
1. Declutter - Cost range: $0 (do-it-yourself) to $2,500 (professional). Potential return: 3-5 percent
Clear away any clutter and "depersonalize" the space as much as possible.
2. Makeover the kitchen - Cost range: $300 to $5,000. Potential return: 3-7 percent
The kitchen was rated as the most important room to have in top shape before selling, according to the survey. Real estate professionals recommend focusing on minor repairs that center on the function of the kitchen first, such as repairing leaky faucets, loose light fixtures, or blemishes on the countertop. Then, they recommend small enhancements, such as painting the walls, updating the cabinet hardware, adding new curtains, or light fixtures.
3. Freshen up the bathroom - Cost range: $300 to $1,000. Potential return: 2-3 percent
Make simple improvements, such as caulking the tub or re-grouting the floor or adding new bathroom fixtures to brighten up the space. Updating the mirror and lighting also can have a big impact, the real estate professionals surveyed said.
4. Paint - Cost range: $100 (do-it-yourself) to $1,000 (pro). Potential return: 1-3 percent
Sixteen percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that interior painting is an important part in bringing about a sale of a home. But the seller likely doesn't need the entire house repainted, but maybe just a redo of one or two rooms to curb costs. The two prime candidates for being repainted: Kitchens and bathrooms. Paint in whites and off-whites and a neutral palette - such as grays and beiges-help buyers focus on the home's features more than be distracted by bright colors, agents noted.
5. Exterior touch ups - Cost range: $150 to $7,500. Potential return: 2-5 percent.
Agents recommend that their clients concentrate on basic maintenance first, such as to mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, and applying a fresh layer of mulch to the garden beds. They also recommend making any minor repairs, such as replacing cracked siding boards or repointing brick walls. The real estate professionals also recommended taking careful note of any repairs needed with the roof: 31 percent of agents surveyed said the roof is one of the most important parts of the home to have in good shape.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guide to Residential Styles

Every house has a style. Sometimes it has two or more; because of renovations and new, eclectic mixes, fitting a home into one specific category can be daunting or even impossible. Thankfully, there’s no need to memorize complicated architectural terminology. REALTOR® Magazine has compiled a convenient compendium of common styles. Delve in and learn to highlight the details that give a home character, history, and romance. 

Cape Cod: Some of the first houses built in the United States were Cape Cods. The original colonial Cape Cod homes were shingle-sided, one-story cottages with no dormers. During the mid-20th century, the small, uncomplicated Cape Cod shape became popular in suburban developments. A 20th-century Cape Cod is square or rectangular with one or one-and-a-half stories and steeply pitched, gabled roofs. It may have dormers and shutters. The siding is usually clapboard or brick.

Contemporary: You know them by their odd-sized and often tall windows, their lack of ornamentation, and their unusual mixtures of wall materials--stone, brick, and wood, for instance. Architects designed Contemporary-style homes (in the Modern family) between 1950 and 1970, and created two versions: the flat-roof and gabled types. The latter is often characterized by exposed beams. Both breeds tend to be one-story tall and were designed to incorporate the surrounding landscape into their overall look.

Craftsman: Popularized at the turn of the 20th century by architect and furniture designer Gustav Stickley in his magazine, The Craftsman, the Craftsman-style bungalow reflected, said Stickley, "a house reduced to it's simplest form... its low, broad proportions and absolute lack of ornamentation gives it a character so natural and unaffected that it seems to... blend with any landscape."

Dutch Colonial: This American style originated in homes built by German, or "Deutsch" settlers in Pennsylvania as early as the 1600s. A hallmark of the style is a broad gambrel roof with flaring eaves that extend over the porches, creating a barn-like effect. Early homes were a single room, and additions were added to each end, creating a distinctive linear floor plan.

National: Born out of the fundamental need for shelter, National-style homes, whose roots are set in Native American and pre-railroad dwellings, remain unadorned and utilitarian. The style is characterized by rectangular shapes with (insert link side gabled roofs) or square layouts with pyramidal roofs. The gabled-front-and-wing style pictured here is the most prevalent type with a side-gabled wing attached at a right angle to the gabled front.

Queen Anne: A sub-style of the late Victorian era, Queen Anne is a collection of coquettish detailing and eclectic materials. Steep cross-gabled roofs, towers, and vertical windows are all typical of a Queen Anne home. Inventive, multistory floor plans often include projecting wings, several porches and balconies, and multiple chimneys with decorative chimney pots.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    10 Things to Look Forward to in 2015

    Ok, technically we are in the new year already but barely, here are 10 exting things to look foward to. Full Article



    .. even as Europe struggles to stay out of recession, Japan remains sluggish and growth in emerging economies slows. Kiplinger expects the economy to grow 3% or better in 2015. That’s the best annual growth rate since 2005, and up from expected growth of 2.2% in 2014. Worldwide, economic growth is expected to average 3.2% in 2015.


    ... with more midsize and small businesses saying they expect to boost pay for employees by 3% or greater. U.S. monthly job gains averaged 227,000 through the third quarter of 2014, and the economy will add jobs at about the same monthly rate in 2015, says global economic forecasting and analysis firm IHS. Unemployment could sink to 5.3% by the end of 2015.


    The average household debt-to-income ratio is the lowest since 2002. And falling food and gasoline prices are leaving more money in our pockets, cash that can boost consumer spending overall, which accounts for 68% of the U.S. economy—setting up a virtuous circle of growth. Businesses will do their part, increasing spending on plants and equipment by an average of about 7%, up from 5% in 2014. “We’re in a boomlet here in the U.S.,” says Bob Baur, chief global economist for Principal Global Investors.


    They’ll reverse their slide by spring as demand rises and some output is trimmed. Kiplinger expects oil to climb to $70-$75 per barrel by March, from $55 now. Firmer gasoline prices are also in the cards, with the national average for regular gasoline climbing to $2.75 per gallon, from $2.35 now. But a new era of lower prices and less dependence on petroleum imports looks like it is here to stay. Net imports will fall below 4 million barrels next year, about 20% of consumption.


    Yes, a correction is overdue. But investors up to the challenge will be rewarded in 2015. We expect broad U.S. stock market indexes to rise by high-single-digit percentages, but the advance will be more erratic than usual. That would put the Dow Jones industrial average near 19,000 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index in the vicinity of 2,200 at their peaks, up some 9% from recent levels. Add in two percentage points of dividend yield, and U.S. stocks could deliver a total return of 11% or so over the next year.


    The Kiplinger Letter forecasts that safer, self-driving cars will be for sale in 2020, if not sooner. Prototypes have shown that the technology works, and major automakers are racing to commercialize it. And automakers are only getting started. Advances likely in just a few years: Laser headlights. Brighter than current lights, they’ll double as sensors to gauge following distances and spot obstacles ahead. Software with artificial intelligence, to control the car and anticipate other drivers’ decisions. New cameras capable of “seeing” lane dividers through snow or fog.


    Consumption of fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and other dairy products is on the rise, with fewer microwaveable, processed, ready-to-eat meals, according to a new study by the NPD Group. The national survey forecasts sales of fresh foods rising 6% from 2014 to 2018.


    The science of medicine is entering the realm of what once was the stuff of science fiction, fueled by breakthroughs in both technology and research. New drugs that use the immune system to hit cancers of the bladder, lungs, stomach, and skin are coming from Merck, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche. For heart failure: LCZ696 from Norvatis is on a fast track for approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Also nearly ready to move into surgical suites: Body parts grown from human tissue. First skin, in just two years. Then tubular parts such as blood vessels and windpipes. In five years or so, bladders, stomachs and livers, a tremendous boon for patients waiting for transplants.


    ... thanks to advances in crunching big data. Amid the growing concerns about Internet privacy, hacking and computer warfare, the reams of information gleaned from Web browsers, smartphones, traffic cameras and other sources are enabling businesses, doctors, law enforcement, utilities and meteorologists to better predict future probabilities and trends. The payoff: More-informed business decisions, improved lives, new jobs and welcome economic gains. Younger Americans, especially, accept big data as a way of life.


    A new space-based telescope, named the Webb after a former NASA head, is in development with an eye toward a 2018 launch. It will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990, but with far greater powers. Among its missions: Seeking planets with the potential to support life.