Earthquake Straps and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You are getting ready to get your home on the market and there is a few things that will need to be in place for the sale. Per Washington state regulations earthquake straps and carbon monoxide detectors are required prior to the appraiser going out to your home. When these items are not installed in the home prior to the appraisal and the appraiser has to go back out they will charge an additional fee and it can delay closing.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors – These need to be installed in the hallway outside bedrooms. If you have bedrooms upstairs and downstairs you would need to have two carbon monoxide detectors. In some instances you may need more than 2, we can take a look and let you know how many you need. Even if you don’t have gas or propane for your home these are still required by every lender. You can buy these at Home Depot or Lowes, the best kind is the ones that plug right in to the wall. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Kidde-Plug-In-Carbon-Monoxide-Detector-with-AA-Battery-Backup-21027451/205423758
Earthquake Straps on Water Heater- You will need to install earthquake straps on your water heater to secure the water heater. You can also purchase these at Home Depot or Lowes. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-PROTECH-Earthquake-Strap-SP13345/311524813
Elizabeth Lutz is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and specializes in the team’s social media marketing.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

Stay safe while selling your home

One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions. Like so many things in life, they can feel more manageable once written down, so we made this handy checklist.

Preparing your home:

  1. Go through medicine cabinets and remove all narcotics medications.
  2. Remove/ lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting misplaced or stolen.
  3. Put all your guns and knives away in a safe where people can access them.
  4. Remove family photos. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.
  5. Check that windows and doors are secure before and after showings.
  6. Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras. Per Washington State Law, you must have consent to audio record a private conversation. Make sure to inform your agent if you are using audio & video so they can disclose that to potential buyers.
  7. Always have an agent present. If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in.

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions:

  1. Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured.
  2. Go over your agent’s screening process so you are both on the same page about phone screening, and how to qualify buyers before showings, as well as personal safety tactics during showings and open houses.
  3. Lockboxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes track who has had access to your home. Your agent can also program the lockbox on your house to limit access during certain hours.
  4. Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.

Nothing is more important than your family’s safety and making the home selling process as smooth as possible for you. Let your agent know if you have any concerns beforehand so you can address them before your home goes on the market.

Amanda Barnes is an assistant with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and specializes in the team’s social media marketing.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

Wash 🧼 Those Walls!

We are selling our house…should we wash our walls?

Our answer is absolutely YES ✅ How many times have you told your kids to stop touching the walls??? Walls get super dirty, especially at kid- and dog-level. Cleaning them before selling will make your house look sparkling and may save you thousands of💲’s in fresh paint. Watch a live video demonstration by April. 

We recommend giving ZEP Foaming Wall Cleaner a try. Start in an inconspicuous area in your house first, just in case, shake up that can, spray a light coating and wipe immediately. Ta-da!A clean house represents to Buyers a well taken care of house! Link below to get clean walls ⬇️

ZEP FOAMING WALL WASH

https://amzn.to/2TnNayU

Disclaimer:  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Why do we do a Final Walk through

Why do we do a final walk through?

You are getting ready to go sign on your new home and your agent asks if you would like to do a final walk through. There are many reasons why you should consider having a final walk through.

A final walk-through is an inspection performed anywhere from a few minutes an hour, a few days before the settlement of the transaction. Its purpose is to make certain that the property is in the condition you agreed to when you signed the purchase and sale agreement. This means that all the agreed-upon repairs, if any, were made, and nothing has gone wrong with the home since you last looked at it. Buyers are often pressed for time as the closing date draws near, which means a buyer might be tempted to pass on the final walk-through. Many issues can come up though, and it’s never a good idea to skip the final walk-through. In addition most lenders at closing will ask when was the last time you were in the home.

When you walk through the house, do the following:

  • Turn on and off every light fixture
  • Run water and check for leaks under sinks
  • Test all appliances and make sure they are the same as when you signed the contract
  • Check garage door openers
  • Open and close all doors
  • Flush toilets
  • Inspect ceilings, wall and floors
  • Run garbage disposal and exhaust fans
  • Test heating and air conditioning
  • Open and close windows
  • Make sure all debris is removed from the home

When the Home is Occupied During the Final Walkthrough –

Sometimes sellers don’t move out until the day the transaction closes or even a few days after closing. In those situations, buyers should do a final walk-through in the presence of the seller. Why? Because the seller knows all the little quirks about the home and can answer questions the buyers may have.

This is also a good time to ask the seller for a forwarding address so the buyers can send mail. It’s nice to meet the sellers of the home and you never know when you might need to get in touch with the former owners. The final walk-through is an excellent opportunity for the parties to say hello.

Elizabeth Lutz is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and specializes in the team’s social media marketing.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

Insurance Binder

So, you have finally found your DREAM home, the ink is dry and you are excited to move towards closing!  CONGRATULATIONS!  Your mortgage is preapproved and the anticipation and race to the finish line is on!   
When you signed your contract, one of the contingencies named is relative to obtaining insurance on your home.  It’s very important to start this process early on, as you will find different companies will quote different rates, and having an insurance “binder” is going to be a lender requirement to complete your loan process.  Also, in the Northwest MLS Insurance Addendum that we include with your contract, the boilerplate designates a contingency period of 5 days after mutual acceptance to apply for insurance, and then 15 days after mutual acceptance to obtain a binder that is acceptable.
So….what’s a binder? Simply put, it’s proof of insurance your lender requires as evidence that your new home is covered against any loss, fire, theft, damage, etc.  It does take some time for your insurance agent to put this together, so save them some stress of rushing and try to have them begin working on this as soon as possible, so you have adequate time to verify your coverage is what you want and also allowing them enough time to supply the copy of the binder to your lender to pay the premium at closing.
Once you have decided WHO will be your insurance provider, it’s easiest to have your loan officer contact them to obtain what they need for closing. The insurance premium will be calculated into your closing costs, and your lender will collect monthly escrow funds that are saved over the year to be disbursed when the next annual premium is due.
It’s that simple! 

 

Keeley Wagner is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and a former Licensed Closing Agent.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

What NOT to do when buying a house

Buying a house can be a mix of emotions, especially if its your first time. Here is some suggestions and tips on what NOT to do when you are getting ready to purchase a new home.

  1. Do not change jobs – Job Hoppers Beware!  Lenders like to see a consistent job history which proves to them you’re going to remain employed and able to pay on your mortgage!  If you switch to a new job in the same field, it’s not usually as big of a deal, but at all costs, try and stay where you are until your loan closes.  Always check with your lender!
  2. Do not use your credit cards excessively or allow current accounts to fall behind – if you spend too much money, then how will you afford your payments?  If you don’t make payments on time, how will the bank trust that you’ll repay your mortgage?
  3. Do not go buy a new car – This is a HUGE NO-NO for various reasons.  It can drastically throw off your Debt-to-Income Ratio, and will also show new credit inquiries on your credit report thus lowering your score and POSSIBLY disqualifying you for a great rate and oftentimes disqualifying you for your home loan.
  4. Do not open any new credit accounts – See #2 & #3
  5. Do not switch bank accounts or banking institutions – Lenders are required to source funds for your down payment, your income, and your earnest money.  Changing banks makes their job way harder, and is a HUGE pain in the rear if they cannot verify where your money came from.  This can delay your closing significantly.
  6. Do not spend savings that is designated for your down payment and closing costs.  Period.  No down payment – no house. No closing costs – no closing.
  7. Do not buy furniture on credit – See #2, #3, & #4
  8. Do not make large deposits or cash deposits without first asking your loan officer – See #5 – Cash deposits during a certain timeframe cannot be sourced and are not considered “good funds” that can be utilized as a verifiable down payment.
  9. Do not be a co-signor for someone else – Bad move.  THEIR debt becomes YOUR debt.  This can scare off a bank that is doing your mortgage because WHAT-IF the person you co-sign for fails to pay (worst-case-scenario) …and then you are stuck paying on it so it doesn’t ruin YOUR credit – or – if you choose NOT to pay, they will send you to collections, file judgements against you, and ruin your life.  On the lighter side, being a co-signor will throw off your Debt-to-Income Ratio and show as a liability on your credit that might affect  your credit-worthiness/score.
  10. Do not get married during your loan application without notifying your lender of the impending marital status change and name change ☺  It will life easier on the people working on your loan docs if they know ahead of time!

Keeley Wagner is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and a former Licensed Closing Agent.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

Beware of Wire Fraud

It’s undoubtedly going to happen that your phone will ring, you will answer and it’s going to be someone you’ve never even heard of.  John WHO?  Sally say what?  When you are first contacted by an escrow agent (or any party asking for sensitive info), email or call your real estate broker to make sure that person is who they say they are. You broker will know who reached out to you and can verify if they are a valid party to your transaction or not. Before you wire money ANYWHERE make sure to call your broker or your closing agent to obtain their instructions on how to wire the money to make sure it’s going to a legit source.
 
Don’t become a wire fraud victim – it STINKS!!   We have got YOUR back and want to make sure you know how to keep yourself safeguarded from a scam. Millions of people are targeted for wire fraud every year. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller it CAN happen to you – so please make sure to follow these simple steps to protect yourself while you’re transacting the largest investment in your life – YOUR HOUSE! 
 
Really – it’s fairly simple:

·Call your agent to verify the requesting source

·Call the escrow company and directly request their wiring instructions, and once you receive them, call them back to verify they are authentic to their branch.

·Sometimes hackers will monitor accounts waiting for the time you are going to be wiring funds. Most of the time no one knows the account is even being monitored by a hacker.  Those guys are good so remain defensive!

·Hackers will sometimes impersonate the Escrow agent or your Broker and ask you to wire funds immediately. They will send you wire instructions for an account that is being controlled by the hacker and create a sense of urgency to wire funds. They will tell you that your broker can’t be reached by phone, so you must only email them. IMMEDIATELY stop and call your broker, you have been hacked. Your Broker would never email you and ask you to wire funds. You can always pick up the phone and call you Broker.

·You should NEVER respond to an email that asks you to wire money. Always call before you wire money to keep yourself protected. 

·Finally…. Sometimes your gut intuition can be your best warning, so listen to that small voice telling you if something feels amiss!

Good luck and we hope this helps you to never fall victim to wire fraud!

 

Elizabeth Lutz is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and specializes in the team’s social media marketing.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

What Happens When We Reduce the Price

So you have just reduced the price on your home!  How do people find out?

We consider a price reduction a re-launch of your home, when your home price is reduced we take the following action:

  • Change the Price in MLS – which automatically links to third party sites, like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com
  • Update Flyers
  • Place New Flyers in Your Home
  • E-Blast the Reduction to ALL agents in our MLS
  • Create Price Adjustment Social Media Content and Place Social Media Ads
  • Personal Email or Phone call to ALL agents who have previously shown your home

April Connors is part of the Connors Group at Windermere Real Estate and is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Washington State.

 

How to Get Ready for Photos 📷

You decided that you are going to sell your home and now you must get it in tip-top shape. It is critical that your home be perfect for photos because you want to make the first impression count. The photos will make people want to come see your home and hopefully buy it!

The majority of people will start their home search online viewing sites such as Zillow or REALTOR.com or your Agent Website. Here are some tips for making your home perfect for photos.

Interior of the Home

  • Start by giving your home the best deep clean its ever had – clean means you have taken great care of  your home – thoroughly clean whole house (vacuum carpets, mop hard floors, clean countertops, clean windows)

On Photo Day

  • Turn all overhead lights and lamps on
  • Replace all burned out light bulbs
  • Use bulbs of the same temperature (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent) – if you home on the darkish side…consider daylight bulbs, they significantly brighten any home!
  • Turn all ceiling fans OFF
  • Turn all TVs OFF
  • Turn all computer screens OFF
  • Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light
  • Remove personal photographs (or replace with general landscape/object photographs)
  • Make all beds
  • Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
  • Place all shoes/jackets in closet
  • Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
  • Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher
  • Clear table, dust and polish the table top
  • Use decorative place setting if available
  • Feature one center piece such as a bouquet of flowers
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs
  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth
  • Clean interior of fireplace and re-paint if needed
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
  • Remove kid’s toys
  • Clear nightstands of all personal items including chargers and Kleenex boxes
  • Store away phone/tablet charging cables
  • Remove all clutter from top of dressers
  • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
  • Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc. (only leaving decorative items)
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Fold toilet paper…like you see in a hotel
  • Close closet doors
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
  • Remove dirty towels – leave out only new, unused towels
  • Remove floor mats

Exterior of Home

Curb appeal is so important, this is the first thing potential buyers see when they pull up. You also want your backyard to be seen as a relaxing space, make sure it is picked up!

  • Close garage doors
  • Remove cars from driveway and front of home
  • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
  • Remove empty planters
  • Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames
  • Remove visible water hoses
  • Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
  • Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions
  • Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded
  • Clear out kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, etc.
  • Clean pool
  • Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose
  • Hide pool cleaning supplies
  • Turn on pool fountains/water features
  • Remove trash cans
  • Sweep or hose down patios

Pet

  • Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet
  • Place pet beds/toys in pantry or close
  • Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair
  • Contain pets in hidden crate or outside
  • Clear back yard of pet waste/toys

What to Expect During the Photo Shoot

When the photographer arrives, your house should be photo shoot ready! He usually has a full schedule that day and will need to be able to photograph without interruptions to make sure he does the best possible job for you.  To make sure that he gets all the shots that you would like, please have the home “open house ready.” Plan for extra family members (including pets) to be away from home.  Park your extra vehicles down the street. Our photographer will be in your home approximately 2 hours.  It usually takes 24-48 hours for the photographer to finish editing the photos and send them to us.  Upon receipt, we will share the link with you to view all the images.  The last step (uploading photos!) for getting your listing up and running on the MLS!

Elizabeth Lutz is a licensed Realtor with The Connors Group at Windermere Group One and specializes in the team’s social media marketing.  Check out http://www.aprilconnors.com for more information.

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