January 8 2020

January Realtor of the Month: Kimberly McLaughlin

by Erin

Kimberly McLaughlin Realtor of the month

Our January realtor of the month is Kimberly McLaughlin, broker and real estate specialist of KM Luxury and our Real Estate Market Expert for Bainbridge Island, WA.

 

Kimberly has worked in the Real Estate field for over 20 years as a full-time broker. She is a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service as well as the National Association of Realtors. Kimberly previously held a position as a Corporate Relocation Manager for Coldwell Banker-Bain and has closed millions in residential sales.

 

Kimberly McLaughlin has always put her client’s needs first and uses her experience to communicate, educate, and translate the steps needed in order to buy and sell a home. She has gained trust with her clients through her transparency with her own experiences as both a broker and a homeowner. The best brokers are the ones who’ve walked a mile in your shoes.

 

If you’ve been on the lookout for a new home in Seattle, look no further. Contact Kim McLaughlin for all of your buying and selling needs.

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December 30 2019

Four Ways to Decorate with Leftover Wrapping Paper

by racheal

Gift wrapping paper

The Christmas holiday is finally over and you’ve probably got plenty of excess wrapping paper leftover that will most likely collect dust for another year. But it doesn’t have to! You can easily use again, just not in the most conventional ways. Rather than letting rolls of wrapping paper take up space in your garage or storage closet, there are many alternative ways to make use of it. if you're looking to revamp your home, a great and affordable way to decorate is to do it with wrapping paper! We’re sharing four ways to decorate with leftover wrapping paper.

 

Line bookshelves 

 

Turn a drab bookshelf into eye candy by lining them with fun gift wrap. This may even encourage you to pull a few more books off of the shelf this year!

 

Line your kitchen and bathroom drawers

 

You can save a few dollars by lining the drawers in your home with your leftover wrapping paper that you already have. If you’re not too fond of the traditional green and red designs, you can always grab different colors and designs at your local Walmart or Target. This adds a fun little pop to your kitchen, bathroom, and dresser drawers.

 

Fill empty photo frames

 

Decorate the blank walls in your home with a few picture frames from the dollar store with your wrapping paper. This is a very affordable and unique way to create an eye capturing piece in any room in your home.

 

Cover your lamp shades

 

Add a little pizazz to your lampshades with fun colors and designs that will add to the room’s flow.

 

Whatever you decide to do with your leftover gift wrapping paper, make sure you’re having fun while doing it. Get creative and think outside the box. The possibilities are endless!

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December 6 2019

How to Save Money for a Down Payment on Your New Home

by racheal

Piggy Bank

One of the biggest accomplishments to make is finally signing on the dotted line for the purchase of your very first home, but how exactly do you get to that point? Although it may be everyone’s dream to purchase property in some shape or form, it may not be everyone’s reality. Purchasing a home can cost more money than you can gather in between your couch. You may need to use a few more tactics in order to reach your financial goals. Here are a few helpful ways to help you to curb impulse buys and be intentional about saving up for one of the biggest purchases you’ll probably ever make in your life without having to starve yourself.

 

Figure out how much house you can actually afford

 

Before beginning the process of saving funds for your future new home, it’s best to plan out not only how much you are willing to spend on a home, but more importantly how much you can actually afford. Have a seat and tally up your monthly earned income as well as your monthly expenses to see how much room you have to groove. This way, you’ll have the ability to figure out just how much you can save and how often in order to reach your down payment goal while still living very comfortably. Ramen noodles are a great option for a college student, but not so much for a family looking for a starter home.

 

Look into down payment assistance

 

There are options out there that can save you even more money on the purchase of your new home. If you are a first time home buyer, you are more than likely to qualify for assistance with your down payment. There is also assistance for those with low to middle income and veterans as well. This might mean a little more paperwork and a lot more research, but it also means less money out of your pocket for that dream home of yours.

 

Check your credit

 

Your credit score, as well as your credit history, are pretty important factors when it comes to making a home purchase. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved for a loan and the more options you will have. Keep your credit score in check while doing these things and you’ll be on your way to owning your home soon.

 

• Pay your bills on time

• Use less of your available credit

• Do not open any new credit accounts

• Maintain a mix of credit amounts

 

Open up a separate savings account

 

One huge mistake potential home buyers make is keeping their funds for their down payment in the same savings account meant for other funds, like vacations, or vehicle emergencies. Open a new account specifically for the purchase of your home so that expenses do not get mixed up. 

 

Another good idea is to open an account with another financial institution so that you are not tempted to touch the money you’ve worked so hard to save. The act of borrowing from the account will be much harder to do when the funds are housed in a completely different bank.

 

Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account

 

Make the hard work of saving funds a little easier with automatic transfers through your bank. You can schedule however much you’d like and however often you need in order to meet your goal and can almost forget about it. 

 

Take advantage of your raises

 

For those of you that receive raises from your employer, it would be very beneficial to take the extra money that you receive and place it into your down payment savings account. Many people use the extra funds to buy more rather than to save for more. 

 

Remove credit card numbers from your favorite online shopping websites

 

Spending money unnecessarily can be a difficult habit to break and make it much harder to save. One great suggestion is to remove your saved credit card numbers from your favorite online shopping websites. This will make it less convenient to spend and more convenient to save.

 

Spending money online is much easier these days. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars from the comfort of your home with just a few clicks. Just thinking about having to get out of bed to grab your credit card may help deter you from making those unnecessary purchases as often, which will save you a ton in the long run.

 

Wait a little longer before making a purchase.

 

Another tip that will be helpful when saving is to wait before you make a purchase. Maybe give yourself a few days or even a full week after getting receiving your paycheck to spend money other than bills. Ask yourself the question: Do I really need this? An even better question to ask is this: Did I need this yesterday? That question can be mind-blowing when you realize there was no actual need for the item at all. You can also take the amount of money that you would have spent and place it into your savings account, whether it’s a fast-food meal or a new pair of shoes. 

 

Minimize vacation spending for a year

 

Save hundreds and even thousands of dollars by skipping out on the elaborate vacations for an entire year. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun with your family. There are plenty of low-cost ways to have a mini-vacay right in your backyard. Choose more affordable options like driving instead of flying to your destinations. Select a location that is a little bit closer to home and make it a family road trip. Sign up for promotional deals to receive discounts for your experience at hotels, amusement parks, and more.

 

Pick up a side job or ask for overtime

 

To help you reach your goal a little faster, ask to work a few extra hours of overtime. If that is simply not an option for you, you can also make use of food delivery apps like Uber Eats and Postmates, or pick up and deliver groceries using Instacart. You can also use Uber or Lyft to offer rides or offer rides for the extra cash. If you have a skill that you’re great at, use it to make a few dollars. You can sell handmade jewelry, baked goods, or even offer resume editing services to go toward your savings goal and pay down your debt.

 

With a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of patience, you’ll be on your way to homeownership in no time! 

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November 14 2019

November Realtor of the Month: Fylicia Waugh

by Erin

Fylicia Waugh Realtor of the Month

Our November realtor of the month is Fylicia Waugh, Broker for Gateway Real Estate and our Real Estate Market Expert for Puyallup, WA.

 

Fylicia is a full time licensed REALTOR born and raised in the lovely city of Puyallup, Washington. Throughout her entire life, Fylicia’s family has been in both the real estate and residential construction business. It was only right that the torch was passed on to Fylicia as she found interest in real estate and eventually head her own brokerage. Prior to fully immersing in real estate, Fylicia also worked in banking and lending for eight years with experience as a commercial loan documentation specialist. This gives her the upper hand in understanding the legal paperwork needed to buy and sell real estate. 

 

If you are in the market to buy a new Seattle home or sell your old home, contact Fylicia Waugh with Gateway Real Estate. Fylicia loves helping people and has several years of experience in both buying and selling real estate in and around the Puyallup area. Along with her extensive experience, Fylicia provides excellent communication and an amazing smile!

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October 30 2019

How to Get Your Home Fall-Ready on a Budget

by racheal

orange pumpkins on doorstep

The fall season is well underway and what better time to revamp your home than now? Making a few small adjustments around the house can make a big difference, but it can be costly as well. No one wants to spend all of their hard-earned money on décor that will only be up for a season. Fear not! It doesn't have to be expensive to keep up with decor trends. Some of the best pieces can be found right under your nose! Here’s how to get your home fall-ready on a budget.

 

Use edible décor

 

Throw a few apples in a decorative bowl you already own and place it somewhere in your kitchen or on your coffee table.  If you’ve recently gone apple picking in the spirit of fall, you’ve probably got plenty of fresh apples to work with. They’ll double as décor and a crisp juicy snack.

 

Pumpkins go with everything! Use pumpkins to decorate your home. Instead of carving your pumpkins this season, try painting them in colors like white, grey, or a nice shade of forest green. Place a few larger pumpkins near your doorstep and spread out some smaller ones where you see fit throughout your home. You can also opt to grab a few plastic pumpkins from your local dollar store and spray paint them in white, gold, or even bronze for the perfect fall touch.

 

Take advantage of thrift store finds

 

Your local thrift store is a goldmine for dirt cheap décor. You just have to keep an open mind when searching and sorting through all of the chaos. Dress up your fireplace with a few repurposed items such as a wicker basket, teapot, or an antique broom to give it a cozy feel. 

 

Make use of blankets and throw pillows

 

The use of blankets can add a simple touch of warmth and color without the paint job. You can grab a few throws from the thrift store or local discount store or use a few you have on hand. Bring in blankets and pillows with warm tones and plaid designs to throw over your favorite chair or ottoman or even on a back porch table.

 

Fill your home with candles

 

There are tons of warm fall scented candles available at an affordable price. You can choose to light some to fill your home or place a few in rooms for decoration purposes only. Alternate between different sizes, shapes, and colors with your candles.

 

Prepare Autumn Goodies

 

This may not seem like décor, but baking anything warm with a scent of pumpkin spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg is sure to fill your home with all of the fall feels. Creating memories in your kitchen with loved ones is the best way to bring in the new season.

 

Add color with wallpaper

 

If you don’t want to commit to painting your walls, consider incorporating wallpaper to add color in your home. You’ll save time and have the option to peel it away when you change your mind.

 

Arrange fresh fall florals

 

Use dahlias, ranunculus, and clippings from your yard to create an arrangement that is sure to make a statement. Here’s a tip: place your flower arrangements in the fridge at night to make them last even longer.

 

Have fun with decorating your home for the fall season on a budget. The possibilities are endless!  

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October 24 2019

6 Reasons Why a Great Room is So Great

by racheal

Great room with kitchen and living space

What is a great room? A great room is a large centrally located room that has multiple functions such as a living room, dining room, or even the kitchen. As of late, open concept living has been pretty popular. But why are so many homeowners leaning toward including a great room in their homes and why are builders including these in most floor plans? Well, here are 6 reasons why having a great room is so great!

 

The Illusion of More Space

 

The placement of walls between each room can leave you feeling closed in and closed off from everyone else in the home. Removing those walls will give off the illusion of more space. The large open spaces provide more functionality rather than having several rooms with unnecessary wall space. 

 

A Bird’s Eye View

 

With a great room or open floor plan, you have a bird’s eye view of the common areas of your home. This way you'll know what's going on in your home from many different angles all while standing in one spot.

Making sure that children play nice while you prepare a meal is another great reason for an open floor plan. You can be involved with homework help while preparing snacks after school or watch the game.

 

More Quality Time 

 

Having a great room within an open floor plan increases quality time and allows for families to gather together while each member still has space for themselves.

 

Ideal For Entertaining

 

Having a great room is the perfect addition to your home if you find that you like to entertain family and friends for small get-togethers. Guests will not feel confined to one room and you have the ability to socialize different groups of people while hosting.

 

Plenty of Natural Lighting

 

In a great room, there’s more natural light that comes in because of the lack of walls space. The use of artificial lighting is not needed as much which also cuts down on your light bill. Bountiful natural life can also boost your mood and you’ll enjoy your home even more.

 

Energy Efficient

 

You’ll find that a home with a more open floor plan provides for more energy efficiency. It’s easier to heat and cool. It is much easier to maintain the temperature of one controlled area rather than several rooms that aren’t in use. 

 

A great room offers plenty of benefits within the home, in addition, to its beautiful aesthetic. If you weren't much of a fan of open spaces before, this may help you get a better idea of why you may want to join the many homeowners that do.

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October 10 2019

7 Tips to Brighten Up a Dark Room

by racheal

Dark living room space

The type of lighting you have in your home is essential to your day to day life. It can deeply affect your mood and productivity. Dim lighting can contribute to depression and even affect your appetite. Bright lights can heighten emotions and make you feel more energetic. Having ample natural lighting in the rooms in your home is very beneficial, but what if certain rooms don’t offer enough natural lighting in the first place? Here are 7 tips to brighten up a dark room.

 

Paint Your Walls 

 

This is probably the most common way to brighten up a room that doesn’t get much natural lighting. Get rid of any walls that may have a darker paint color to liven things up. Grab a can of white or light-colored paint and watch your room transform.

 

Make sure to purchase a matte paint rather than one that is glossy. Matt surfaces reflect light in every direction rather than glossy paint that actually creates a glare. The goal is to reflect natural light equally in order to illuminate the room properly.

 

Add More Light Fixtures

 

Just one lamp may not provide ample lighting in a darker room. Consider adding a few more light fixtures to enhance the lighting in your home. 

 

Replace Lightbulbs

 

If you find that a room or rooms in your home give off a somewhat yellow light, you may want to consider replacing your lightbulbs. This is a great way to upgrade your home on a budget. Switching to daylights is an easy and affordable way to brighten up a dim room. You can find them at Walmart or order a few on Amazon.

 

Add Lots of Mirrors

 

Adding multiple mirrors in a room will not only brighten it up but it will give the illusion of more space as well. You can create a gallery of mirrors on one wall, add one large mirror, or one on each wall. Have fun with the frames to give your space a little more personality. 

 

Hang Sheer Curtains

 

If you want to brighten up your space, you’ll have to get rid of those drab heavy curtains and replace them with something a little more sheer. Sheer curtains will allow for more natural light to pull through into the room whereas a thicker fabric will take the lighting away. 

 

Clean the Windows

 

This may seem extremely simple, but cleaning your windows can make a huge difference. If you can safely clean both the inside and outside of your windows, they’ll be free from any dirt, dust, and grime that can trap more natural light from coming in. 

 

Trim Your Trees

 

Trees bring lots of shade, but they also block natural light from coming into your home. If you have any trees that are directly in front of your windows, trim them a little. 

 

You should see a big difference in how your dark room has transformed just by using a few or all of these great tips to brighten things up. Most importantly, you'll also see a change in your productivity and the way you feel walking into your newly illuminated space.

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October 8 2019

October Realtor of the Month: Lori Webster

by Erin

Lori Webster Realtor of the month Fountain Hills, AZ

Our October realtor of the month is Lori Webster, Real Estate Agent for HomeSmart Lifestyles and our Real Estate Market Expert for Fountain Hills, AZ.

 

Lorie earned her Associate Degree in Merchandising at Arizona State University and earned her Bachelors Degree in Finance at Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington. Lorie Webster has worked in the Real Estate Industry for the past 30 years. She has plenty of experience in working very closely with both homebuyers and sellers during the transaction process. 

 

In her free time, Lorie enjoys being a part of a Ladies Golf League. She also volunteers to cook for and feed homeless adults through a private non-profit group and also participates in several clean-up projects a year.

 

Lorie has a great passion for real estate and her relationships with her clients show it as they go well beyond the final sale. If you're looking to purchase a brand new home near Phoenix, be sure to contact Lorie with HomeSmart Lifestyles for all of your real estate needs.

 

“The more you thank life, the more life gives you to be thankful for.”

-Lorie Webster

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October 4 2019

Move-In Ready: Great Customer Service Becomes Self-Service

by Erin

Self Service Sales Center Kiosk

Self-Service Technology moves home shoppers quickly and efficiently toward critical information and increased engagement.

 

By Zoe Miller

 

Customer service should be all about the customer, but only that person truly knows his or her needs and goals, mood and interests, preferred pace and overall schedule. The buyer’s journey in residential real estate (the largest consumer industry) is the most consequential, so it stands to reason this is when customers would demand the most convenience and control.

 

Enter self-service technology (SST), a solution that helps customers or prospects serve themselves. If you’ve used an ATM or self-checkout at a grocery store, you’ve used this kind of technology. Self-service technology has become a key element of the home buying process as buyers grow more comfortable with it. Whether online or in a sales center, SST empowers the customer by delivering the right information in the right way at the right time. 

 

Convenience, Control & Connection

 

Convenience is always a top priority for new home shoppers who find themselves with countless questions in need of timely answers. Just as smart home technology has been the latest trend for convenience, self-service technology helps prospective home buyers by providing fast and concise information. Questions that may have once required a phone call or even a face-to-face meeting can now be answered through a self-service solution, available 24/7. 

 

More than anything else, homebuyers seek a value-unique experience—a level of service that will inspire not just sales, but enthusiastic referrals. Online resources should be replete with impactful visuals and an easy-to-understand user experience. Interactive kiosks and even the use of virtual reality technology belong front and center in a sales center so home shoppers can easily find them. Reduced friction and maximum convenience and engagement are highly valued by home shoppers.

 

Customized Over Customary 

 

It’s important for home builders to understand that communication doesn’t have to equal conversation or even human interaction. Interaction typically follows waiting in line or on the phone or for an appointment time—and that’s rarely convenient. An easy-to-navigate and engaging self-service experience will go a long way toward buyer satisfaction. 

 

Home shoppers also value personalization and customization—information that's tailored to their specific situation. When SST automation is used to create a customized experience with targeted follow-ups regarding time frames or product tips, people don’t forget. 

 

What’s worse than a problem? The frustration over not knowing how to resolve it. Home shoppers and home builders alike benefit when SST can solve problems and answer questions. An interactive two-way setup with results, feedback, and proposed resolution boosts the customer experience. Specific home shopping questions that can be addressed with SST range from pricing, availability and construction schedules to elevations, floor plans, and other details.

Zoe Miller Headshot

It all adds up to value-unique—a level of customer service that's actionable and personable.

 

 

— Zoe Miller is a principal at Computer Presentation Systems in the Sacramento, California area. The 25+-year veteran of the home building industry sets the company’s development strategies and oversees its daily operations.

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September 11 2019

September Realtor of the Month: Cesi Pagano

by Erin

Orange County realtor of the month Cesi Pagano

Our September realtor of the month is Cesi Pagano, owner, and CEO of Cesi Pagano & Associates and our Real Estate Market Expert for Irvine, CA and Rancho Mission Viejo, CA.

 

Cesi Pagano works as a consultant in the new home industry with new home builders and is also a listing agent in the resale market. With over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, Cesi has sold more than 3,000 homes and has had yearly multi-million dollar sales.

 

Cesi earned her degree in Architecture with a minor in Interior Design at Cal Poly Pomona in the pursuit of a career as an architect. Her career path veered in another direction when given the opportunity to work with a well-respected home builder which led her on the path of real estate.

 

Cesi has worked closely with top advertising and design staging companies where she obtained her extensive knowledge and experience. She was also trained in negotiation, marketing, and home-staging skills as well as superior customer service which helped her earn her a reputation of being one of the most respected members in the real estate community. 

 

A few of Cesi’s accreditations include Accredited Buyer’s Representative, Certified Sales Professional, Pre-Foreclosure Specialist Certification, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, and Certified International Property Specialist.

 

Cesi Pagano & Associates focuses on their client’s needs and satisfaction. Contact Cesi Pagano for all of your real estate needs to ensure you receive the best possible service when purchasing your new Orange County home

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