Feb. 9, 2018

Tips to SOLD: Upgrades to Up Your Home Value

Growing into a home is a true joy, creating lasting memories in a space does wonders for the soul but often causes wear and tear on our homes. Homes love it. Living in a home with gusto, growing and molding families’ generation after generation, is the life blood of all homes. However, there may come a day when you realize the home you’ve blessed, and been blessed in, has no more room for growth. Moving up, on or down is part of every homeowner’s journey. After the years you’ve spent in a home, it can be hard to leave it, scary even. Becoming sure you will get top dollar for your home, helps moving on seem reasonable and attainable. Give your home some much needed attention and a few small facelifts to ensure you sell for top dollar. Follow these dozen tips to help ease the fear of leaving behind a home you’ve loved so well and guarantee you can move onto somewhere you can once again fall in love with.

      1: Invite a Realtor over. Getting a comparative market analysis for your home is a free perk of using a Realtor to list your home. Any Realtor is capable of coming into your home and knowing the market value, but the key is to hire a Realtor who informs you of the value of your home, gives you tips to improve the value and shows you homes on the market like yours. Take your Realtor’s advice when it comes to little updates like getting good carpet stretched, painting that hot pink bedroom and de-cluttering that one junk closet. Your agent receives constant feedback from buyers about what they like and want from a home so their advice is based on a large variety of buyers!  A lived in home is a loved home but a quick clean up can do wonders for a space and give home buyers a better understanding of what the home has to offer.       

    2: Paint, paint and paint some more! Nothing updates a space, big or small, in a more efficient way than a fresh coat of paint. We encourage that you paint the space a neutral pallet and keeping it light in tone. Light and neutral colors make a space feel larger and brighter. Grey, beige and white all lighten a space making it feel both homey and spacious.

    3: Remodel dated areas. The 70’s was a rough time for design. Architecturally it was phenomenal but, aesthetically, it was a little much. This goes without saying but popcorn ceilings and shag carpet aren’t the only things in older homes that need to go but they are definitely two of the most prominent design elements that date a home. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there are people today who still love some shag carpet and popcorn ceilings but the general public tends to grimace. Throw out the orange shag and install some new, neutral carpet in bedrooms. The space you renovate will be fresh and revived for the next owner. Therefore, boosting your return on your home.

     4: Small bathroom and kitchen updates go the furthest. Even just putting in a new vanity, hanging a new mirror, painting the walls and updating the fixtures goes a long way towards breathing new life into a tired space. Kitchens are similar. Experts agree that kitchens yield at least 80 percent return of every dollar spent. Opening up a closed off kitchen to the living area, installing new counter-tops and updating your cabinets will generate the highest return. However, even a few updates to the kitchen will help you sell your home at top dollar.

      5: Get your home clean, sparkling clean! A clean home is the most efficient way to sell your home. If you’re too busy to clean every inch of your home, hiring a cleaning service just before you list and maintaining the home will help you get your home sold faster. When a space is clean, it is easier for a home buyer to see themselves in the home.

      6: Organize like you’ve never organized before. Storing large items you very infrequently use at a storage unit until you move to your next home or packing as much as you can before you move out will not only make it easier to move out but also keep your home uncluttered during the showing process. Copious amounts of stuff in a space whether it’s a closet, pantry or storage room, make is hard for potential buyers to realize just how much storage space there is in the home. Leaving things a little more open means your storage space looks well organized and available.

      7: Choose a style. Staging your own home is a simple task as long as you know less is more. Choosing a style for your home that best represents the space and is aesthetically pleasing will ensure home buyers will be impressed. Your home will be photographed when it is listed and it is important the decorations you choose are easy to keep clean as showings could be happening on a daily basis. Cluttering your space with lots of decorations can overwhelm the space and make it look small. Just remember when you’re staging your home, you are trying to show prospective buyers what it would be like to call your house “home.” Do your home justice by making its best features stand out. Whether it is drawing attention to the fireplace with a vase with fresh flowers and antique books or the kitchen island by a fruit basket or cake stand on the counter.

        8: Curb appeal is the key to the first impression your home portrays. Keeping your lawn mown, shrubs trimmed and any flowerbeds weed free, is sure to make a great first impression. Most home buyers fall in love with a home before they even open the front door. Having a welcoming front porch is always a plus. A cute welcome mat and a nice potted plant is enough to welcome in potential buyers and make a great first impression.

         9: Refresh exterior paint. Chipped or faded paint sends a message to home buyers that your home hasn’t been well maintained and there could be any number of problems ahead. Painting your home isn’t too expensive and depending on the loan may be necessary to close anyways. It is better to get it done ahead of time and keep buyers minds open before they event come in the front door.

        10: Go green! Energy efficient lighting and new fixtures can not only brighten up a dated home but lower electricity costs. While home buyers are aware they are taking on a mortgage and utility bills, anything that helps them to keep bills down is an added bonus.

        11: Love on your home one last time! Saying goodbye to a home you’ve loved and heading on to the next chapter of your life can be a little bittersweet, so enjoy the time you have left with your home. Your Realtor will make the selling process smooth and if you choose to do any of these things you are speeding the process along. Don’t let your hopes get dashed if it doesn’t sell right away, the perfect people are coming along soon to love on and grow in your home just as you did!

             Remember, this list isn’t something that you have to do in order to sell your home. If this seems overwhelming, just choose a couple things to spruce up the space and keep it looking clean!          

Nov. 21, 2017

First Time Homebuyer Checklist


Congratulations! You are about to purchase a place to build memories, pursue dreams and grow roots. There is no greater excitement than sliding the key to your first home in the deadbolt and stepping foot into the entryway of your very own. For lots of first time homebuyers, myself included, we go into the home buying process with a House Hunters narrative in mind. Shockingly we don’t find ourselves sipping tea on the pier when our faithful agent tells us the spectacular news, but instead stressed and exhausted at the end of what felt like an overwhelming roller coaster ride. While a blast at an amusement park, not really what you envision for your first home search. Don’t fret! With the help of a devoted real estate agent and a good understanding of what to expect when you’re purchasing a home, you will go through the process like a champ ready to personalize your new abode. This milestone is the biggest purchase of your life so follow these helpful steps to make it a smooth and enjoyable one!

Step 1: Know your credit score and sit down to talk with a local lender as early as six months before you plan to buy your home.

            Your credit score helps lenders determine if you are reliable enough to pay off your home in the time allowed and on a monthly basis. Your lender can give you great tips on how to raise your credit score in order to better improve your chances of getting the pre-approval you are hoping for. Your debt-to-income ratio is important as well. So, talk with your lender about the best way to pay off debts prior to getting pre-approved. Local lenders have a lot more clout when you submit an offer to a listing agent than a large credit union or online lending service. Local lenders are readily available and are personally invested in your home purchase. There is also a large chance that the listing agent on the home you fall in love with will have already gone through a smooth transaction with a local lender which will help solidify your offer. Helpful hint, ask your lender for their personal cell phone number so you can reach them anytime because you probably won’t find your dream home during “office hours.” Being aware of your finances is always helpful when going into the home buying process but make sure not to call it quits if you think you can’t buy. Talk to a local lender and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you can afford. Getting pre-approved before your home hunt is crucial! Waiting until after you find the perfect home could mean it goes under contract with a different buyer before you can get the approval. Being approved before your home search will also ensure that you can afford the home of your practical dreams.


Step 2: Find a trusted real estate agent who will go above and beyond to get you your dream home.

            Just like with your lender, your real estate agent should give you their personal cell phone number and an e-mail address for you to contact them with at any time. If the perfect house hits the market, you will need to see it quickly in order to not miss the opportunity to buy. While the market is constantly changing, it is almost always true that your dream home is someone else’s dream home too. Putting in a strong offer before the competition is critical to you retaining your dream home. Your agent is a wealth of information and knowledge, utilize and trust them! Your agent should do all they can to get you exactly what you need in a home. Getting an agent you respect and trust involved as soon as you can will give you someone diligently searching for your first home, reaching out to their community resources to find you un-listed gems and searching For Sale By Owner, foreclosure and short-sale properties too.

Step 3: Research the market and know what your budget will realistically buy you.

            One of the hardest parts of being a first time home buyer is knowing what your price range will warrant you to buy. Look at tons of homes in your budget and make an attainable wish list from the homes you have found. Going into the process knowing what you can comfortably afford and what homes will be like at that price point will help you feel confident in your purchase!

Step 4: Give your agent your wish list and know what is most important to you in your future home.

            This is one of the most important steps in this process, make sure your agent is aware of your needs. No client is the same as the one before them, so it is imperative that you know what you want and what you need and let your agent know too! If you give your agent a wish list, they will work hard to get you what you need and want. Your agent should be aware of what makes a home perfect for you. However, most homes won’t be the full package. If you found a home that is an 8/10, that is a pretty great rating! Being willing to add some of your desires to a home later will make it easier to figure out what are necessities now.

Step 5: Search an MLS supported website, like gentryteam.com, for accurate listing details.

            In this market, homes are selling quicker than most sites on the internet can keep up with. This means there is a large chance that a home you see on most internet home search sites can be under contract, at a lower price point, or already sold. The best way to make sure you aren’t wasting your time, or your hopes, is to search for homes on a website that pulls directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website. The MLS is a website that only licensed real estate agents can access. All properties for sale in the Tri-Cities are listed on the Pacific Multiple Listing Service (PACMLS). Properties are updated immediately by listing agents with all changes. Price Reductions, Pending Inspection, Pending Appraisal, Sold and Back on Market are all recorded on this site and updated as necessary. For example, gentryteam.com shows all of the listed properties, both active and pending, in our market. This way you are assured that you can schedule private showings, write any offers and potentially purchase the active homes on our site. Additionally, whenever a new listing becomes active on the market it is simultaneously added to gentryteam.com. This is also true with any other status changes, pending, sold, back on market and price changes. Being aware of what homes are active and attainable will allow for much less heartache and stress.

Pro-tip: Search craigslist and Zillow for For Sale By Owner properties. Give your agent a call if you find any For Sale By Owners you like and let them negotiate for you!


Step 6: Know the terminology and the process.

Going through the home buying process maintains a fairly standard procedure. Your agent will walk you through the process in detail but knowing the terminology and having a brief concept of the process will help you be prepared before you actually sit down and write up a contract with your agent.

Here is a brief overview of the home buying process.

o   Draw up and submit an offer with your agent.

o   Once an offer is mutually accepted, deposit your earnest money.

o   Hire a home inspector.

o   Review your inspection report with your agent. If any major repairs are needed, your agent will help you negotiate a remedy with the sellers.

o   After your inspection period, your lender will send an appraiser to the home to assess if the purchase price is equivalent to the home’s value.

o   Meanwhile, the lender will be collecting any additional documents needed to submit your loan to underwriting for final approval.  

o   Once you have final approval, you will set up your signing appointment with the closing attorney to finalize all legal documents.

o   As soon as the closing attorney records the deed in your name, you will receive the keys to your new home!

For more information regarding the home buying process, visit www.gentryteam.com/buying.

 Step 7: Have fun!

            You only buy your first home once. Enjoy the process and trust the professionals working for you; your agent, your lender and the title company all have your best interests in mind!

This is not an all-inclusive list because the home buying process isn’t predictable. There are going to be things that come up that no one can foresee but you can count on your agent and your lender to walk you through the unexpected. With a basic understanding of the process, a flexible attitude and trusting the team of professionals you’ve hired, we assure you that you will end up with a smile on your face and a cozy place to call home!                 



Oct. 5, 2017

Selling Your Home in the Fall

Now that the HOT summer real estate season is coming to a close you may be asking yourself if it’s too late to put your home on the market. The answer is no, it’s not too late. The fall is the second busiest season for home buying. Kids are back in school, the 100+ degree temperatures are dropping, and there is a break from the holidays. Plus as the trees explode with autumn color your home will look great!

Here are a few tips for selling your home during the Fall Season;

1. Keep your Yard Clean

Leaves are dropping and annual flowers are losing their bloom-keep your lawn in tip-top shape and cut back any overgrown bushes so the natural light can showcase your home.

2. Set the Mood for Fall

Plant fall flowers with vibrant marigolds and pretty mums, highlight the fireplace for brisk nights and accent your home with autumn colors. Get prospective buyers thinking about cozy nights in their new home.

3.  Turn on the Lights

The sun is setting earlier as we move into fall. When a showing is scheduled for the late afternoon or evenings turn on all the lights to showcase your home. If the buyer thinks your house is dark they are less likely to take in the great details of your home.

4. Check the HVAC

The heat has been off all summer make sure your home is fresh and warm by replacing filers and make sure everything is in proper working order. Your buyers will have the home inspector do this anyway; you might as well have the report ready for inspection.

5. Make Your House Smell Like Home

Make your home smell like autumn sweets with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, cranberries, and cinnamon or even simple vanilla. Buyers experience houses with all their senses, by adding classic homey smells you can make their experience in your home even sweeter.

These simple steps can help make a buyers decision easier. A few reminders of home and holidays to come can sell your house faster so the buyers can be in their new home before winter sets in.

Posted in Selling
Aug. 23, 2017

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Choosing the right neighborhood for your family

Are you a young couple looking for a family friendly home with excellent schools? Young professional looking for like-minded neighbors? Baby boomers looking to retire and live the relaxed lifestyle? There are many reasons to move into a new town, neighborhood, and home. This article will be focused on finding the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood for your family.

There are several factors that you should take into consideration when choosing your perfect neighborhood. These include School District, Demographics, Home Values, and Location. Websites like www.neighborhoodscout.com or even your real estate agent can provide some information to help you make some critical decisions.


As the area grows more schools are being added or expanded to accommodate progress. This year alone there are several school districts with more than one school under construction. These new schools can be great when it comes to technology and class size.

To check the “grades” of existing schools in your area you can visit www.greatschools.org. This site rates the school from 1 thru 10 and then breaks down its performance by Academics, Equity, and Environment. This allows you to compare the schools to find the best fit for your family.


Demographics and psychographics should be a part of your decision when buying a home. If you are nearing retirement do you want to move into a neighborhood of young families? Don’t find yourself menaced by a Dennis. You might want to check into the neighborhood’s median age and income.

Home Values

Did you know that the Metro has one of the fastest growing markets in nation? The Metro's economy has been booming for years and should remain that way for the foreseeable future. Plus with limited homes on the market for the second year in a row home values keep going up. Last year we saw growth of almost 12%. Obviously, some homes are going to grow more than others and that really depends on a number of factors including our last consideration… Location.



Location, Location, Location… In business location is king and in real estate, it is the same too. The proximity to shopping, parks, schools, and major roads can affect your decision when home buying. Do you want to be in the heart of the community? Would you rather live out of town for peace and quiet? Does the commute to work become a factor? Take your time and really consider what’s a priority for your family.

Posted in Home Buyers
July 20, 2017



Are you getting your house ready for the market? When preparing your home to sell a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Painting is relatively inexpensive and not only does it give your home a renewed feel, but it hides small imperfections in your drywall.

Painting the interior of your home is the perfect weekend DIY project. With a careful hand and attention to detail, it can really make a difference in your home and the perceived value without hiring a professional. But, if you are inexperienced or unsure of your skills painters can be hired at a nominal cost. A gallon of paint can take you a long way to getting a great price. Fresh paint can check off an item on a buyer’s to do list when it comes to moving into a new house.

Paint can also update the style of your home. The right color can make you home seem modern. 10 years ago beige was all the rage but now shades of gray is the mode. From gray-blue to gray-green the tone really pops on large surfaces.

The key is to add neutral colors. Neutral doesn’t mean everything is painted off white. A nice light neutral dove gray is great for main walkways and open areas but limited amounts of accent colors in some rooms will go far. Maybe a light yellow for the kitchen or a soothing blue in the bedroom? Keep everything pastel range with a light to medium tone because you don’t want to overwhelm buyers with bright or dark colors.

Remember, color is subjective; I might love a bright leaf green but certain buyers may hate the color turning them off to your otherwise fantastic home. I would suggest that you talk to your real estate agent or call me and we can discuss all the colors of the rainbow including ones that could have you seeing green!

Posted in Selling
June 28, 2017

What to Expect When Inspecting: Your Home Inspection

Part 3: Your home has been inspected, now what?

In a perfect world your home would pass its inspection with flying colors- everything is perfect with no fixes needed. Let’s be honest, we do not live in a perfect world. More often than not homes need some form of maintenance, if not immediately then in the near future.

Once you receive the report you should sit down and go over everything in detail. The first objective should be to see if there are any ‘deal-breakers’ in the report. Deal-breakers are issues that you do not feel comfortable dealing with. Are there structural issues? Is the wiring or plumbing out of date? If not, then move onto concerns that need more investigation.

The inspector may have noticed something that he is unsure of and noted that a trained professional should give a second look. You should contact a general contractor or a specialist in that field to come and look at the issue and even get a quote to fix it. Your real estate agent or the home inspector may be able to recommend someone. After getting the quote ask yourself, is the house still worth the purchase price?

If you still love the home and want to purchase it you have a few options. You can proceed with the deal with the house as-is, request that the current homeowners fix the issues, or request an adjustment in the home’s price based on the estimates to fix the issues or worst case scenario, you can terminate the contract. If you choose option 2 or 3 it is up the seller to decide what they are willing to do or you negotiate a combination of both.

As a word of caution, the purpose of a home inspection is to find major defects that would cause a buyer not to want to move forward with the transaction. In a hot market like we are in some sellers may not be inclined to fix every minor issue and may become offended with a long punch list. It is best to find a balance so both you and the seller are happy in the end.

Posted in Home Buyers
June 1, 2017

What to Expect When Inspecting: What’s in a Home Inspection?

Part Two: What’s in a Home Inspection?

In the previous article, we talked about how vital home inspections are when investing in a home but you may be wondering ‘what exactly is in an inspection report?’

The inspector takes a comprehensive look at your home with a critical eye. Those loose boards or peeling paint that you may have missed in your excitement for finding the perfect house gets a once over by a professional. Then they give recommendations including the tasks that need to be completed, the location of the damage, photos, implications of the damage or missing item and the time frame that task should be completed in. 

 Because this is a ‘non-invasive’ inspection the inspector may recommend further evaluation by a professional when needed. Sometimes to really investigate potential issues specialized equipment may be needed for testing. An inspector, while knowledgeable about homes, may not have the necessary equipment or specialized expertise.

 There are several types of inspections from the Basic Home Inspections to in-depth specialized inspections that are specific to certain regions or property types. Examples are geological inspections for homes on slopes or even a dock inspection for riverfront properties.  Your real estate agent should be able to tell what type of inspections should be included with the home you are planning on purchasing.

 We always recommend a Basic Home Inspection that covers the roofing, exterior, electrical, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, interior walls, interior flooring, appliances, and garage. If your prospective home has additional features such as a pool or sauna you may look into hiring a company that specifically inspects those items.  You should also discuss add on inspections your inspector may offer such as, sewer line inspections or testing the home for lead-based paint.


 Typically these inspection reports can be 30+ pages, so do not be intimated. The inspector is being thorough, which is a good thing.  Many of the issues may be small defects including chipped paint and burnt out light bulbs. The inspector is just covering their bases and pointing out everything that needs to be addressed. Once you get the final report you can decide what action, if any, to take.

Posted in Home Buyers
May 9, 2017

What to Expect When You’re Inspecting

Part 1: Why get an inspection?


In today’s hot market you might think about skipping the inspection- don’t. Home inspections are an important part of house buying. A house may look like it’s in fantastic shape but a big expense can be looming. Roof replacements, lead pipes, cracked foundations….these problems may not be visible to the naked eye and can be very expensive to fix.

A licensed inspector knows what they are looking for or if they find something questionable they will recommend an expert to take a second look and provide a quote to fix any issues. If major issues are found; you can go back to the seller and request that they fix the issue or reduce the purchase price so that you can pay to have it fixed. Or, if it's something that you are just not comfortable with, you can terminate the contract.  

It’s more than a check, it’s protection for your future.

When you contract an inspection you are asking the company to take an in-depth look at the home for any issues. A good inspector will deep-dive into the home looking for any irregularities and then writes a comprehensive report for your consideration. 

Recently you may have noticed that real estate companies are offering homes for sale that have already had the inspection done. Although it sounds like an excellent offer I do have a word of caution. The pre-inspected home is great for the seller, it gives them a chance to fix any small issues and price the house accordingly for larger ones. As the buyer I would not give up my right to a double check.  I am sure that the report is on the up and up but if anything was missed on the report you have no recourse. The inspection report was generated on behalf of the seller and therefor doesn’t have liability coverage for you.

Also some sellers are not allowing the buyers to conduct their own inspections; this raises red flags to me. Why won’t they let you inspect the house? What if their inspector did not look at everything? Home inspectors may not specialize in certain aspects of the home and request additional inspections. If these were not conducted, the inspection is incomplete and the report is not worth the paper it is written on.  On the flip side - sellers, by not allowing a buyer to conduct their own inspection, you could be leaving yourself open to liability after the sale closes.  It is always a good idea to allow the buyer the opportunity to conduct their due diligence on the property.

Without an inspection, the time and opportunity for you to do your due diligence is cut significantly; the impact can be great. The excitement of finding the perfect home with the right number of bedrooms, the layout and style is very exciting. Buying a home is a big investment; you should take your time and make sure this is the best decision for you.

Posted in Home Buyers