Easy Home Improvements to Prepare Your Home for Sale


According to a recent Realtor.com survey, 42% of sellers made repairs or updates to their homes before listing for sale.

Today we’re going to talk about some inexpensive home improvements you can do before you put your house on the market.

Before we start, I just want to point out that market conditions have a huge impact on how far you need to go in making improvements. When you’re in a seller’s market like we have today (Greatest Seller’s Market in History), the seller might not have to put as much effort and money into pre-listing improvements. But when we’re in a buyer’s market like the one we had from 2009-2013, the seller will need to go the extra mile to make their house attractive to potential buyers.

When you’re getting your house ready for sale, there are two areas where you should focus:

  • Major issues that can prevent the house from qualifying for mortgage financing
  • Minor DIY cosmetic upgrades that will make your house more attractive to buyers

Major Issues that can prevent your home from financing

Most people understand that when a buyer buys a house, that buyer has to qualify for financing. They have to have the right debt to income ratios, credit scores, and must be able to afford the monthly payments.

People often forget that the house also must meet certain minimum requirements in order to qualify for financing. Both the buyer, and the property, must meet the lender’s requirements.

Requirements vary depending on the type of loan. Conventional mortgages usually have the easiest requirements. Government backed mortgages such as FHA, VA, or USDA loans impose some additional requirements, but most properties that are in decent condition will have no problem meeting these requirements.

The home must be safe, sound, and structurally secure

In general the home must be safe, sound, and structurally secure. Oftentimes this is open to some interpretation. The appraiser is the person making this determination, and there is some subjectivity involved here. One appraiser might call out a problem that another appraiser will not. 

Here are some of the major issues that can prevent your home from financing:

  • Roof leaks or is damaged
  • Active plumbing leaks
  • Broken or missing heating fixtures
  • Broken or missing dishwasher or range
  • Missing water heater strapping
  • Missing floor coverings

If you are getting ready to sell your home, you should consider taking care of any of the above items before you move forward. Otherwise you run the risk of having something get called out an appraisal that needs to be fixed prior to closing, which will delay the closing date while you scramble to get a contractor in to fix it.

Minor DIY cosmetic updates for maximum value

There are some easy do-it-yourself cosmetic updates that can really enhance the appeal of your home and help you maximize the value when you sell. Most people will be able to do these on their own. Just remember that there is a YouTube video for everything. If you don’t know how to do something on this list, you should be able to find plenty of tutorials on YouTube that walk you through it. Just remember that not everyone on YouTube knows what they are talking about, so my advice is to cross reference multiple videos to make sure you’ve got the full picture.

Here are the DIY cosmetic updates that will help you maximize your “bang for the buck”:

  • General cleaning – walls, floors, kitchens, bathrooms
  • Clean vent fans
  • Replace burned out light bulbs
  • Replace older faucets, door knobs, or trim
  • Replace outdated lighting fixtures
  • Clean windows and screens
  • Have carpets cleaned, especially if you have indoor pets
  • Make sure that carbon monoxide detectors are installed

Landscaping improvements to enhance curb appeal

It is also a good idea to freshen up the landscaping. This will enhance curb appeal and help make a great first impression.

  • Plant lots of colorful flowers, in planters or in pots, to activate the buyer’s senses and really make things pop
  • Mow, edge, and trim, and keep it that way
  • Pull weeds
  • Install fresh mulch
  • Rake leaves
  • Clean porches, decks, and patios
  • Clean moss and debris from the roof

Get expert advice on preparing for sale

Are you thinking about selling your home, and want some advice on how to prepare? Get in touch with us! We offer a free consultation and analysis for potential sellers. Our free consultation and analysis includes:

  • Listen to your goals and needs (we listen more than we talk)
  • Help you figure out whether selling now is right for you
  • Prepare you by setting realistic expectations
  • Make suggestions for property improvements, staging, and marketing
  • Tell you how much your home is worth and how much cash you’ll get when you sell

Get started today

The Greatest Seller’s Market in History


I’ve been in real estate in Thurston and Lewis County for 17 years, and I’ve never seen a market like this one

We’re in the middle of the Greatest Seller’s Market in History.

      • Lowest inventory on record
      • Buyers are in a frenzy
  • Many homes are selling within the first week
  • Multiple offers and bidding wars
  • Prices are skyrocketing

In the post, I’ll prove to you that there has never been a better time to sell your home and that the window of opportunity to sell your home for maximum price may be closing.


Closed Sales

One way to measure market activity is to look at the number of closed sales. In the chart below, you can see the number of closed sales going back to January 2006. A closed sale is when a buyer and seller complete the purchase and sale transaction and the ownership of the home transfers to the buyer.

Notice the two green circles in the chart below? The one on the left represents the peak of the housing bubble in the mid-2000’s. The one on the right represents the present day. Each data point represents the prior 12 months of activity.

You can see how closed sales topped out in the 5500 per year range back in 2006-2007, then fell down to around 3000 per year as the housing bubble burst. Then we started recovering in 2012 and sales steadily increased and then plateaued in 2018-2019. There was a dip in sales when COVID hit in spring 2020, but since then closed sales have really taken off. Now we’re around 6500 sales per year, which is an amazing amount of closed sales for real estate in Thurston County.



Months of supply

Months of supply is a way to measure the available inventory of homes for sale in relation to the current rate of closed sales. Months of supply is the number of homes for sale, divided by the number of closed sales in the past month. For example, if there are 300 homes for sale right now, and 100 closed sales in the past month, then that would be three months of supply (300/100=3).

Three months of supply is what we would see in a balanced real estate market in Thurston County, where neither the buyer or seller have a pricing advantage. When months of supply is greater than three months, that’s a buyer’s market. When months of supply is less than three months, it’s a seller’s market.

Look at the chart below. We are nowhere near a balanced market. Months of supply in April 2022 was 0.67! This means that homes are selling almost as fast as they become available. 

This indicator explains why there are bidding wars, offers in the first couple of days, and skyrocketing prices. We have an extreme supply/demand imbalance. There are not enough homes for sale to keep up with buyer demand. We need more supply! And it has only become more imbalanced in the past year.


Days on the Market

Days on the market is another indicator that shows that we are in an extreme seller’s market. Currently, the median days on the market is only five days. A lot of houses are selling within the first week of the listing. This is much lower than during the 2006-2007 peak, when market time was between 30 days and 40 days. In a balanced real estate market in Thurston County, average market time would be around 45-55 days.

This means that homes are being sold almost as quickly as they are being listed. And looking at the green circle on the right of the chart below, we see that days on the market has flatlined since early 2021 and hasn’t come up at all. This is something I’m going to keep my eye on, days on the market is a good early indicator to watch for changes in the market.

Median Sale Price

And finally, we get to median sale price. This is different from average sale price, and a lot of people get those confused. The median is the number in the middle of the data set. Half of houses are selling above the median, and half below. We use the median sale price instead of average because the average sale price can be skewed by the mix of high price vs. low price homes sold in a given month, which makes average price too volatile from month to month to be a good indicator. So, in housing we use median price.

The median sale price in Thurston County in April 2022 was $510,000! I never thought I’d see median prices this high in Thurston County. Ever. 

On the chart below you can see the previous real estate peak in 2007 when the median sale price topped out a little over $250,000. It then fell quite a bit until 2012 when it bottomed out and then started recovering. 

When I look at this chart, I notice two distinct trendlines in the median sale price. The green line represents our baseline recovery trend since 2014. But then, in early 2020 when COVID hit, prices started an even steeper climb. The red line shows that price appreciation really accelerated in early 2020. That’s a very steep slope for real estate prices, and the change in slope from the green line to the red line is proof that prices are skyrocketing.


The Window of Opportunity is Closing

This is a historic window of opportunity for you to sell you home for maximum value. How long will it last? With interest rates rising and predicted to continue rising, the window of opportunity may be closing.

I don’t know the answer to that question, but here’s what I do know. This is not 2006-2008, when the market boom was fueled by subprime loans and loose lending standards. This time around it is more about lack of supply. The simple fact is that there are a lot more buyers who want to buy a home than there are sellers who want to sell. A primary contributing factor is the anti-growth mindset of local policymakers, who always pay lip service to affordable housing, while at the same time continually enacting more restrictions that reduce density and make it harder and more expensive to build enough homes to meet demand.

An important thing to keep an eye on here is interest rates. Interest rates have been at historic lows for quite a while, and low interest rates are partially responsible for skyrocketing prices. The Federal Reserve just increased interest rates by half a percent, the largest increase since the year 2000. Experts are predicting that the Federal Reserve will increase mortgage rates seven times in 2022.



When the Fed raises interest rates, mortgage rates generally follow. And higher mortgage rates increase the monthly payment a buyer has to pay, which reduces buyer purchasing power.

Right now there are a lot of buyers who are stretching the limits of their affordability. A buyer that can barely afford a $500,000 house right now will not be able buy that same $500,000 house after seven interest rate hikes.

This will have an impact on the Greatest Seller’s Market in History. The question is, how much? A few buyers will have to drop out of the market, but will it be enough to make a meaningful dent in this huge level of demand we are seeing?

Earn Tax Free Income with the Capital Gains Tax Exclusion

Did I just say “tax free income”? You bet I did! Direct from the IRS website:

If you have a capital gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude up to $250,000 of that gain from your income, or up to $500,000 of that gain if you file a joint return with your spouse. https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc701

If you have lived in your home as your primary residence for at least two of the past five years, then you can qualify for one of the greatest wealth building tools that is available to the American middle class: The Capital Gains Tax Exclusion.

I’m surprised by how many sellers I come across who don’t know about this. How many other opportunities will you get in life to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in gains free from income taxes? Not very many!

But here’s the thing about the capital gains tax exclusion. It exists at the mercy of Congress. Congress created it, and they can take it away. Every once in a while someone in Congress will start making noise about eliminating this tax exclusion in order to help pay for our incredibly bloated federal budget. The threat has never been very serious, but times are changing. The capital gains tax exclusion is a juicy and tempting target for raising revenue, and I don’t think they will keep it in place forever. Who know when this window of opportunity will close?


Take Advantage of This Historic Opportunity

Who knows how long this window of opportunity will stay open? If you’re thinking about selling your home anytime soon, you should act now.

We offer a free consultation and analysis to help you determine whether selling your home is the right move for you. This is more than just a “free market analysis” that any real estate agent can provide. We take a consultative approach, and we see ourselves as trusted advisors, not salespeople. We will go deeper to help you identify and evaluate your options, and bring up things to consider that you might not have thought about already.

Our free consultation and analysis includes:

  • Listen to your goals and needs (we listen more than we talk)
  • Help you figure out whether selling now is right for you
  • Prepare you by setting realistic expectations
  • Make suggestions for property improvements, staging, and marketing
  • Tell you how much your home is worth and how much cash you’ll get when you sell

Get started today


Showing Your Home – 25 Step Plan to Get Your Home Ready for Buyers

Ready to Show

You have your house on the market. You’re minding your own business when suddenly, you get a phone call. Someone wants to come show your house to a potential buyer, but your home is a little (or a lot) messy. What should you do?

Here’s is a 25 step checklist to help you make sure that your home is presentable and will create the right impression for your potential buyer.

Before you get the call, set yourself up with a plan for success

• Have a laundry basket or two handy. You can use it gather and remove clutter, and take it in your car with you as you leave.
• Have a set of “show towels” for the kitchen and bathroom that you only bring out for a showing
• Keep the show towels and cleaning supplies in the laundry basket. When you get a showing, take the laundry basket from room to room. Gather clutter and clothes and put them in the basket as you tidy up.
• Plan on leaving during the showing, and take the pets with you as you go
• Keep a short list of places for you to go during the showing… shopping, coffee, running errands, etc.
• Lock up your cash, guns, jewelry, and medications
• Always lock your doors on the way out

If you only have 30 minutes or less to prepare for a showing

• Take the laundry basket from room to room and pick up the clutter
• Make the beds, smooth the bedspreads, and fluff the pillows
• Wipe the counters and sinks with a damp cloth
• Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher
• Put out the “show towels” in the kitchen and bathrooms
• Put toiletries and shower items away
• Close the toilet lids
• Close the clothes hampers or cover them with a cloth
• Close closet doors
• Stuff your bills and personal papers in a drawer or take them with you
• Empty all of the garbage cans
• Turn on all of the lights
• Open curtains and blinds and let in some light
• Freshen the air, if needed

If you have more than 30 minutes to prepare for a showing

Do everything in the list above, and:
• Vacuum the carpets and rugs
• Sweep the floors
• Clean the toilet and shower
• Sweep the front porch

Here is a printable PDF version: How to Prepare Your Home for a Showing

With a plan like this, and a little advance notice on your showing appointments, you don’t have to worry about keeping your house squeaky clean all the time. It’s your home… live in it as you wish. Have a plan for getting the house ready for showings and set your self up for success. When the call comes, execute the plan. It’s a lot of hard work in a short period of time, but it is crucial that your home looks great for potential buyers.

Be sure to declutter your home before you put it on the market.

Seller Disclosure Statement – What does a seller need to know?

Seller Disclosure Statement-1

Washington law says that when you sell your home, you must fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement (also known as Form 17). You must tell the buyer any problems with the property that you know about.

Download a Seller Disclosure Statement.

Do I have to do a disclosure statement when I sell my home?

Probably. Almost every real estate seller in Washington state has to fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement, but there are some exceptions. If you fall into one of these categories, then you don’t have to do it. The exemptions listed below can be found in RCW 64.06.010:

  • If the transfer is a foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, meaning that the transfer is from the borrower to the borrower’s lender. This exemption doesn’t apply when you buy a foreclosure property from a bank, or sell a property that you bought at a foreclosure auction.
  • Gift or transfer between family members, such as a parent, child, spouse, domestic partner, etc.
  • Transfers between spouses and domestic partners in connection with a divorce or dissolution
  • Transfers where the buyer had an ownership interest in the property in the past two years
  • Transfers that are less than fee simple and don’t include full ownership rights in the property (such as a life estate or lease)
  • Transfers made by the personal representative of an estate or a bankruptcy trustee
  • When the buyer has waived the right to receive the Seller Disclosure Statement

What do I have to disclose?

You have to disclose any material facts that you are aware of that affect the property. A material fact is something that affects the title (ownership) of the property or the physical condition. Some common examples include:

  • Leaky roof
  • Electrical issues
  • Problems with the septic system

Generally you don’t need to disclose things that are not material facts, such as:

  • Whether a death, murder, or suicide occurred in the house
  • Political or religious activity
  • Whether there are sex offenders nearby

You also aren’t liable for things that you don’t have actual knowledge of.

Tips for filling out the disclosure statement

  • The “Don’t know” box is your friend! If you’re not sure about an answer, it’s better to be honest about that then to make a bad guess.
  • Be honest. Don’t downplay problems.
  • Imagine that you are buying the property, and ask which things you would want to know about. When in doubt, disclose it.
  • Attach explanations. You can attach additional pages to the Seller Disclosure Statement. These can be explanations of a particular issue, details of how it was repaired, or even a copy of a repair invoice.
  • When in doubt, disclose it! This is the safest choice.

When do I have to give a Seller Disclosure Statement to the buyer?

RCW 64.06.030 says that the seller must deliver the Seller Disclosure Statement within five business days of mutual acceptance of a purchase and sale agreement. The buyer has three days from when they receive the disclosures to either cancel the purchase and sale agreement or accept the disclosures.

If the buyer doesn’t respond within three days of delivery of the Seller Disclosure Statement, then the buyer has “accepted” it.

What if I don’t give a Seller Disclosure Statement?

If you fail to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement, and you don’t meet one of the exemptions listed above, then the buyer has a right of rescission that lasts until three days after closing! This means that even if the sale has closed and recorded and the buyer has taken possession of the property, the buyer can unwind or cancel the sale within three days.

Be sure to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement so that you don’t face any unexpected surprises!

This is not legal advice

Please note that this general information is provided for educational purposes, and is not legal advice. Everyone’s situation is different. If you need legal advice, please contact a real estate attorney.


Declutter your home for a faster sale



Though we’re getting better at keeping our personal things organized, no amount of Ikea furniture hacking can hide that fact that we all have too much stuff. Most of us have every nook and cranny of our homes bulging with clothes, linens, toys, tools, books, household goods, and a dish for every special occasion under the sun.

Too much stuff can make it harder to sell your home. If you want to sell your home, and sell your home fast, then you need to lose some of the stuff.

The buyer must envision their stuff in the space, not your stuff

A house generally consists of four walls, a floor, and a roof. Inside this structure is what is commonly referred to as “space”. What we call “home” is the way that we use the space inside our house with our stuff. But if your stuff is everywhere, it will prevent the buyer from seeing their own stuff there.

Here’s what’s going to happen when a buyer comes to look at your home. One of them is going to look in cabinets, closets, and drawers. The other will check out the garage. They will both be thinking of how their own stuff will fill the space inside and outside the house to make it a home.

Will they be able to picture their own stuff in the same living room as your bulging three piece sectional sofa? Probably not!

If the space is filled with your stuff, it’s harder for them to see their stuff in it

In order to imagine your house as their home, the buyer needs to see where they can fit their stuff. They need to have the vision of where everything is going to go and how they are going to live in the space. This will help it feel like home to them.

Too much of your stuff will prevent the buyers from seeing their stuff in the space. It will remind them that your house is not their home. They need to be able to see past that.

Here are some ideas to help you declutter and depersonalize your home….

How to Declutter

  • Clean out the pantry: This will make your pantry seem larger. You should donate food that is still good, but won’t be eaten. Try the Thurston County Food Bank.
  • Clean up the bathroom: Try not to leave your toothbrushes, deodorant, and beauty products on the counter.
  • Garage sale: This is a time-tested way to get rid of that stuff you don’t need anymore or never use.
  • Storage: If you have a lot of stuff that you don’t want to get rid of, consider placing it in temporary storage until after you move. If you can’t afford storage, try to make some room in the garage.
  • Donation: Give your stuff to an organization that helps people in need, such as the Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.
  • 2Good2Toss: Sell, exchange, or give things away online.

How to De-personalize

  • Remove pictures and mementos from walls. Pictures are distracting and draw attention away from the features of your house. This can be a tough one, but think about it. If the buyer sees your family and friends all over the place, it’s not going to feel like home. It will remind them that this is your house, not theirs. You don’t have to remove every picture, but try to limit it to one or two items per room. 
  • Cut back on the knick-knacks, trinkets, tchotchke, and collections. We’ve seen homes that had so many knick knacks, souvenirs, and trinkets on the walls that you could not see the walls! This presents a real challenge for potential buyers. Not only does it prevent them from seeing their stuff in the space, but it also makes the house feel smaller.
  • Remove or reduce items that are blatantly political or religious. Though these things may be very important to you, a potential buyer might strongly disagree with your point of view. Some people just can’t look past this kind of thing, and you don’t want them to form their opinion of your home based on a negative association.
  • Use neutral colors. We once had a room that had blue and red walls, and another room with purple and some sort of nuclear yellow. Don’t make the same mistake we did! It only reminded buyers that it was our home, not theirs, and if they wanted to buy it someone was going to have to paint. If you have some colorful craziness going on like we did, consider painting over it with a neutral color. 
  • Be scent-neutral. Try to get rid of any odor issues in your home. Common sources of odors are garbage cans, shoes, pets, perfumes and colognes, strong smelling foods, and smoking. If your home has an odor issue, it will smack people in the face as soon as they walk in the door. It makes a terrible first impression. Masking the odor with scented air fresheners can make it worse, because some buyers are very sensitive to scent.
  • More fresh air! Whether your home has a scent issue or not, fresh air is always good. Crack some windows and let the house air out, especially before a showing or open house. Consider using window fans to circulate air quickly when you know someone is coming to take a look.

Bonus Tip

Decluttering and depersonalizing your home can be a real challenge. It feels like you are dismantling your home’s identity, or even your own! As you put your stuff away, try to flip this feeling around by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I have this thing?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • What would happen if it was gone?
  • Do I really need to keep it?

If you ask these questions as you put stuff away, you might realize that you don’t really need so much stuff after all.

Do you have more questions about preparing your home for sale? If so, click this link and we’ll answer it!


Is it time to sell your home? Find out by answering these three questions

221 SH

You’ve wanted to sell your home for quite a while now. Perhaps you’ve outgrown your current one, or maybe you’ve decided to downsize and go minimalist. Whatever the reason, you’re feeling ready to make a move.

But the market just hasn’t been on your side. You’ve waited years for the market to pick up, and you’re getting tired of waiting. Well, you don’t have to wait any longer.

It’s a seller’s market! A seller’s market is when there are more people looking to buy a home than there are homes for sale. A seller’s market is a great time to sell your home. Homes generally sell faster and for more money, and you might even end up with multiple offers from competing buyers. If you’re a seller right now, the market is on your side.

First things first: start with the why

There are several things to consider when deciding whether now is the time to sell. But first you need to answer the most important question: Why?

Why? You’ve got to have a goal, and asking why will help you decide what it is. Selling your home is a means to an end. What do you want to accomplish by selling your home? What is your goal, and what does success look like to you?

Some reasons that people sell their home include:

  • Current home too small
  • Move closer to friends and family
  • Job relocation
  • Current home too large
  • Changes in family situation

The reason why you want to sell your home will determine the goal that you want to accomplish and the path that you take to get there. 

Then look at your finances

You need to answer two financial questions:

  • How much cash do I need to accomplish my goal?
  • Will the cash I get from the sale of my home be greater than the cash I need to accomplish my goal?

How much money do you need to accomplish your goal? This depends on what your goal is and what you will be using the money for.

Will you be buying another home after you sell? If so, you need an estimate of how much the new home will cost, and how much money you need for a down payment. You can use the cash you get when you sell your current home as a down payment on a new home. Will this be enough? Do you need money left over for other reasons like paying down debt or starting a new business? Add those amounts to the total.

The amount of money you receive when you sell your home, after expenses, will help determine your budget for making your next move. To know whether you can sell your home for enough money to allow you to accomplish your goal, you need to know how much your home is worth and how much cash will be in your pocket after the sale.

Step three: How much is your home worth, and how much cash is in your pocket after the sale?

You can use a website like Zillow, which uses data to create an automated estimate of your home, to get a rough idea of your home’s value. The problem with automated estimates is that there isn’t a real person on the other end making adjustments for when the data program diverges from reality. The results can be inconsistent. And Zillow can’t tell you how much cash is in your pocket after the sale.

An honest and competent real estate broker is the best resource for step three. A real estate broker will tell you how much your home is worth. They can also estimate your selling costs and help you find out how much cash is in your pocket after the sale. 

You need to work with someone you can trust, someone who will be completely open and honest with you about your situation. You don’t want to be pressured into listing your home for sale, and you don’t want to be pushed into making an uncertain decision. You need someone who can help you figure out whether your goal is realistic and attainable, before you list your home for sale. Someone who can help you develop a plan of action.

That’s what we do.

Free Home Value Report

Using a custom-developed formula, we leverage the technology of data driven value estimates with human intuition. Then we personally comb through the MLS to find comparable sales that bring clarity and accuracy to the value estimate. By combining the latest technology with a personal touch, we provide an accurate and well informed estimate of the market value of your home.

We can tell you

  • How much your home is worth
  • How much cash will be in your pocket after a sale
  • Tips and tricks to sell your home faster and for more money

This free service includes a professionally designed report. You choose how you want to receive the information. Most people prefer to receive the report by email. We can discuss it by phone, email, in person, or via Skype. Your choice. Once you receive it, you decide where to go from there. 

Why do we do this for free? What’s the catch?

We look at this as an audition, a chance for us to earn your trust and, eventually, your business. If you like the report and you like working with us, then maybe you’ll list your home with us some day. Or maybe you’ll tell one of your friends about us. Even if we never list your home for sale, this service helps us learn more about the market and perfect our craft. 

When we do good things for people, good things tend to come back to us. We promise you this: We will give you competent, honest, responsive service that puts your interests first. No hype, no pressure, and no bull. If this describes what you need, then let’s get started.

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