Date Archives: August 2020

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First time Buyers

Buying a home is still a part of the American dream. And for most of us, it starts as just that—a dream. Most people spend years dreaming about their first home before they actually buy it, and if that's where you find yourself today, then there are some things you should know before moving forward. 

Buying your first home can, of course, be a stressful process, and the more you know going in, the better off you'll be. Our brokers are always here to help. Here's what most first-time homebuyers wish they had known before starting the process: 

  1. You're Not Buying for the Life You Have Today
    It's one thing to buy a house that fits your current lifestyle. It's quite another to buy a house that fits your lifestyle five, ten, or twenty years for now. But a house is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, and you must think about it in the long term. Ask yourself some questions about what will your life look like down the road and whether the house you're looking at will be right for it. Are you planning on getting married or having kids? How long do you expect to be at your current job? If you're not confident that your house will still be the right house in a few years, you may want to keep looking. 
  2. It's Okay to Shop Around for a Mortgage
    A lot of first-time homebuyers are so worried about whether or not they'll be able to secure a mortgage that they take the first offer they get. Less than half of today's buyers shop around for a home loan. That's a big mistake, and it's one that could end up costing you a lot of money. Rates offered by lending institutions vary widely, which is one of the reasons why it's important to always talk to multiple lenders. As a general rule, it's best to speak with at least three lenders and a mortgage broker before you make any commitments.
  3. Buy What You Can Afford
    Buy what you can afford might seem like obvious advice, but keep one thing in mind: the amount you can afford isn't necessarily the same as what your mortgage lender thinks you can afford. Many homeowners get pre-approved for more than they end up spending, and that's not a bad thing. While pre-approval for a mortgage is a great step toward determining your budget, it shouldn't be the only one. You need to do your own math to decide how much you can afford. Factor in all your income and expenses, and keep in mind that you should never put yourself in a position where you're spending more than 30% of your income on housing. 
  4. Don't Get Caught up in the Superficial
    When you're in the market for homes for sale, it's important to remember that there's no such thing as a 'perfect' house. That's why it's really important not to fixate too much on imperfections, especially small ones that can be easily fixed. If the house is dirty, the walls are an ugly color, or the fixtures are outdated, these are all superficial problems. Start out by making a list of priorities. Write out all your must-haves and would-like-to-haves so you can evaluate any house you look at based on whether it meets your needs. 
  5. The Right Real Estate Agent Can Make All the Difference
    Some buyers shy away from working with a real estate agent because they're wary about the cost. But it's worth remembering that a good buyer's agent will be working in your best interest. The same can't be said for the listing agent, who is essentially trying to help their client sell their home for as much as possible. Working with a great agent can actually save you money, but that's not the only benefit. They will also help you with all of the more complicated or overwhelming parts of buying a house, from working with your lender and negotiating the price to overseeing inspections and signing the closing paperwork. 

Buying your first home can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Contact us today to learn more and get started on the road to homeownership in the Portland area. 


Seattle Food Trucks

It's no secret that Seattle is a haven for phenomenal food trucks, but with so many wonderful options, you may be wondering where exactly the best mobile meal stations are parked around the city. Never fear, our brokers are here to help you track down some of the tastiest grub in the Emerald City. We've gathered a top five list of food trucks commonly found in neighborhoods like Central District, Belltown, and Capitol Hill. From barbeque and burgers to poke and hot dogs, here are a few of our favorite food trucks that you should check out around Seattle.

  1. Wood Shop BBQ – BBQ
    Bringing an interesting take on Kansas City and Central Texas barbeque to the Pacific Northwest, Wood Shop BBQ has made a name for themselves as Seattle's best BBQ. Brisket, smoked chicken, pulled pork, and pork spare ribs are available to order by the pound. You could also enjoy their brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and portobello machaca on a toasted brioche bun with pickles and buttermilk slaw on the side. We prefer to savor their juicy meats by diving into one of their amazing Mac & Cheese bowls. 

  2. Sam Choy's Poke To The Max – Hawaiian
    Although Seattle is closer to Hawaii than many other American cities, you don't need to hop a plane to taste amazing Hawaiian food. Sam Choy's Poke To The Max is ready to bring their Hawaiian grinds to your curb! Award-winning chef Sam Choy, known as the God Father of Poke, has taken his creation out of the restaurant and into the streets with his Poke To The Max food truck. Poke can be seared or served fresh in a rice plate, in a salad, or in a wrap. If you're not digging poke, you can order other salads, wraps, and sandwiches with chicken, pork, or beef.

  3. Macho Burgers – Burgers
    If you're looking for a great burger, head down to Macho Burgers. Served with Cascioppo Brothers Meats, you can get everything from a Classic Bacon and Cheese to their Macho-Macho Burger stacked with bacon, cheese, peppers, lettuce, onions, and their special sauce. Cod Burgers and Fish & Chips are available if you don't fancy beef, and there is also a Chipotle Black Bean Veggie Burger with salsa, mushrooms, and cheese. Gluten-free buns are also available, and with the option to nix the bacon and cheese on the Mushroom Bacon Swiss Burger, Macho Burgers can accommodate many dietary preferences. If you love their South of the Border Burger, then you've got to find their sister food truck Macho Tex Mex Enchiladas – their enchiladas, bowls, and taco salads are fantastic!

  4. Big Dog's – Hot Dogs
    Hot dogs are quintessential street food and even though plenty of carts know how to grill a sausage, only Big Dog's is Washington's #1 Hot Dog Food Truck! Voted the best hot dog and food truck in King 5's Evening Magazine, Big Dog's invites you to go Beef Mode with their 100% all-beef ¼-pound dogs served on a steamed stadium roll. Run a Blitz with cheddar cheese sauce, chopped onions, BBQ sauce, and crushed potato chips or call upon the Sea-Dog filled with roasted garlic, chili aioli, jalapenos, and crumbled bacon. 

  5. Mo Pockets – Chinese
    Fans of noodles and potstickers should head down to Bellevue for amazing Chinese street food served up by Mo Pockets. This exceptional food truck has cold spicy or sesame noodle bowls, as well as their signature Mo Pockets filled with pork, beef, chicken, or veggies. Potstickers and popcorn chicken make great sides but it's the house-brewed fresh milk tea that really hits the spot.

Are you searching for a home in one of Seattle's most desirable neighborhoods? Contact us today to browse Seattle homes for sale in Bellevue, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Fremont, Queen Anne, SoDo, and more!


Interior Design Trends

While you might be tempted to use the latest trends to appeal to potential buyers, believe it or not, there are many popular interior design trends that could actually make your home less likely to sell. Our brokers want to help you sell your home as successfully as possible, which is why we believe that all sellers should acknowledge which recent design trends should be avoided when listing among the other homes for sale.

Before you consider remodeling your home according to the latest trends, we want you to first think about the trends of yesterday. Picture your grandparent's home with tacky wallpaper or the den in your best friend's home that has shag carpet or wall-to-wall paneling. Anything that you might consider an "eyesore" was likely once a popular trend. Seller beware: some trends should not be followed.

With so many interior decorators hyping the latest trends, it can be easy to believe that incorporating as many as possible will make your home fly off the market. Unfortunately, many of these trends, though seemingly harmless, may actually deter buyers. Here are six trends that you should skip over.

  1. Don't Pop That Color Just Yet
    It seems that every interior design suggestion includes adding a "pop of color" via accent walls or painting a room in dark colors that will be offset with lighter décor. While some individuals may enjoy the presence of an uncommon color, this isn't the case for most buyers. When choosing a color, skew to the side of traditional or conventional. Although royal purple, dark blue, and bright yellow may be popular now, these trends literally change by the year. 

  2. Tone Down Your Tile
    Gone are the days when bland tile was the only option. With so many unique materials, colors, and patterns available, it's tempting to go all-out whenever possible. Unfortunately, tile doesn't always translate to success. Floor tiles should be sturdy and easy to maintain while bathroom or kitchen tiles should be consistent and conventional. Decorative tiles, especially loud or bright patterns, may stand out for the wrong reasons. When in doubt, choose one solid color tile and keep it subtle.

  3. Say No To Sterility
    Just because you should steer clear of wild colors and loud patterns doesn't mean that your home should lose all of its personality. All white is not all right in this instance. Too much neutrality in a space can make it emotionally cold and feel uninviting. You want buyers to feel welcomed to embrace the space as their own, not walking on eggshells.

  4. Appliances Are Acceptable As-Is
    When you remodel your kitchen, you may want to complete the space in a unique way by choosing appliance colors that match the color scheme. This is a definite mistake, and you should abandon this idea promptly. Stainless steel appliances are crisp, clean, and conventional, giving the kitchen a respectful appearance. Remember, appliances are not décor. Choose either traditional stainless steel or black stainless steel without hesitation.

  5. Wallpaper Will Be On Its Way Out Soon
    Many homeowners were shocked to discover that wallpaper was making a big comeback. These big, bold, and buzzing patterns were seemingly the hottest interior design revival, but upon closer inspection, it won't be surprising if this trend burns out soon. Wallpaper can clutter a space. It's also very subjective, and while a wall can be repainted, removing wallpaper is a task that many homeowners don't want to take on. Again, think of catering to the conventional and use a neutral paint color instead.

  6. Forget About Brass or Copper Fixtures
    It's no secret that warm metals have a certain appeal, but too much brass or copper around a space can lose their luster over time. Neutral metals are always a better option, such as chrome or nickel. Black or stainless steel are also safe options that go with nearly any room design.

Would you like assistance avoiding design pitfalls while prepping your house for sale? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about selling your home.


Seattle Japanese Garden

Get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful sites at the reopened Seattle Japanese Garden. This serene space located in Washington Park is the perfect place to relax your body, calm your mind, and let your soul absorb the beauty, wonder, and peacefulness that this park projects. Whether the Seattle Japanese Garden is one of your favorite spots in the Emerald City or if you've only heard about it but have never been, our brokers believe that now is a great time to support this city landmark.

60th Anniversary of the Seattle Japanese Garden

One reason you should visit the Seattle Japanese Garden is that it just celebrated its 60th anniversary on June 5th. Opened in 1960, the Seattle Japanese Garden is recognized as one of the best Japanese-style gardens on the continent. This charming garden features elements of Japan's many diverse landscapes. This special occasion is known as "kanreki", which marks a rebirth or return to childhood. Throughout the year, the Seattle Japanese Garden will commemorate this anniversary with special activities.

The Seattle Japanese Garden is Reopen for Visitors

Seattle Japanese Garden – 1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E., Seattle, WA 98112

  • Hours
    Tuesday – Sunday 10 AM-7 PM during August
    Tuesday – Sunday 10 AM-6 PM during September

  • Admission
    $8, Adults 18-64 
    $4, Ages 6-17, 65+, and College Students
    Free, Ages 0-5

After closing in accordance with local guidelines regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, the Seattle Japanese Garden happily welcomed back its first visitors on July 14th. The Seattle Japanese Garden has made a few temporary changes to ensure the safety of visitors and staff alike.

  • The Seattle Japanese Garden has implemented a new timed ticketing system that requires visitors to purchase their tickets in advance online. These tickets will be purchased for a specific timeslot and cannot be changed or refunded.  

  • Face coverings are required for all guests ages 5 and above.

  • Paths throughout the garden will now be one-way only.

  • Many areas and pathways will be closed until further notice, including the Tateuchi Community Room, the azumaya, various bridges, various platforms, and the Shoseian Teahouse.

  • Tours and tea ceremonies are not offered at this time.

  • You cannot bring in your own food or beverages, with the exception of your own drinking water as water fountains within the Seattle Japanese Garden are closed.

  • Your group size cannot exceed five individuals, including children.

Planning Your Visit to the Seattle Japanese Garden

Although these temporary changes may place limitations on how visitors can engage with the Seattle Japanese Garden, you can still have a wonderful experience even if it's your first visit. 

How to plan your visit:

  • Plan your visit well in advance to ensure that you can secure a ticket for the day you desire.

  • Research the history of the Japanese-style garden and learn about the importance of the Seattle Japanese Garden.

  • Be sure to eat a meal prior to your arrival and consider bringing a bottle of water for each person in your group.

  • When you arrive, grab a brochure at the entrance so your group can complete a self-guided tour of the grounds.

  • Follow all guidelines including wearing your mask at all times and progressing through the garden according to the marked paths.

  • Most importantly, make sure to take a moment to sit and admire the beauty of each varied landscape of Japan certain areas represent.

Types of Plants at the Seattle Japanese Garden

Japan is a country with diverse geography, containing varied landscapes including mountains, islands, the sea, rivers, lakes, forests, and waterfalls. As you stroll the Seattle Japanese Garden, you'll encounter these unique regions of Japan and view some of the flora and fauna that call this country home. Some of the gorgeous species you'll find throughout the Garden include:

  • Japanese forest grass
  • Chinese silver grass
  • Bamboos
  • Miscanthus
  • Cherry trees
  • Japanese spicebush
  • Western red cedar
  • Arnold azalea
  • Osmanthus
  • Japanese camellias
  • Hinoki
  • Water lilies
  • Japanese iris
  • Corylopsis
  • Lily of the Valley shrub
  • Cryptomeria japonica
  • Koto no Ito

The Seattle Japanese Garden is one of our favorite spots in the city. Recently reopened, we encourage you to visit this tranquil park before the summer ends. If you're interested in browsing Seattle homes for sale while you're in the area, feel free to contact us to schedule a tour.

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