Rent vs Buying

Some would-be buyers have emotional reasons to own a home like having a place of their own where they can raise a family, feel safe and secure and enjoy their friends’ company. Other buyers’ dominant reasons might be financial in nature such as building equity or lowering their cost of housing.

Regardless of what might be motivating people to want their own home, it is easy to justify that now is a good time to purchase. Let’s look at a $250,000 example using a FHA loan.

The total payment will be about $1,835 dollars a month. If the payment is lower than the rent a person is paying, that should encourage a person to continue investigating.

In this example, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, the monthly appreciation and the tax savings, even with money added for monthly maintenance, the net cost of housing is less than half the total house payment.

Considering all those advantages, the would-be buyer is spending over $1,100 per month more to rent than it would be to own. In a year’s time, they would lose close to $14,000 which is more than the down payment of $8,750 required on this price home.

Most would-be buyers understand that a home is a big investment but they may not understand the advantage of the leverage caused by the low down payment mortgage. The benefits extend beyond a return on the down payment but to the value of the home.

In this example, the $8,750 down payment grows to an equity of $73,546 in seven years based on 2% annual appreciation and normal amortization on a 30-year loan. If you calculated that as a rate of return, you’d be challenged to find anything that could compare with it.

To see what your numbers might look like, check out this Rent vs. Own. If you need any help or have any questions, contact us. Part of our greatest satisfaction is helping would-be buyers understand why they should-be.

Important Estate Documents

An estate plan is a collection of documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out because of death or incapacity to make decisions for yourself. Spouses, minor children, adult children, property and investments can all be factors that should motivate a person to undergo the process.

Will – this document specifies the way a person wants to manage and distribute his/her assets after their death. When a person dies without a will, the laws of the state where the person resided will determine the distribution of the property.

Durable Power of Attorney – this document grants to a designated person the authority to act on behalf of the principal in in legal affairs should the principal become incapacitated. Among other things, this would allow the attorney-in-fact to buy and sell property on the behalf of the principal.

Healthcare Proxy – this document grants that a designated person can legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal when they are incapable of making and executing specific decisions stated in the proxy.

Living Will – this document directs physicians with respect to life-prolonging medical treatments in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.

Hippa Release – this document allows heath care providers to release your health care information to a designated person. Otherwise, they are required by federal law to protect the privacy of your health information.

Letter of Instruction – This document contains information and instructions about a person’s wishes upon death. It is intended to offer details on whom to contact and where to find important documents about personal and financial matters.

Requirements of these documents can vary from state to state and legal advice should be obtained. If you need a current estimate of value on real estate that may be involved, usually a price opinion from a licensed real estate professional will suffice. It would be my privilege to assist you with this at no cost or obligation.

Now is the time to buy a house in the Pacific Northwest!

August of 2016 saw a 12.2% gain in the number of homes that went pending (11,898 pending homes) over August 2015 in the Puget Sound region.

There were 11,411 new listings in August! At the end of the month there were only 18,336 active listings. This is a decrease in 11.6% over August just one year ago! Things are NOT slowing down, but the number of new listings is likely to keep decreasing over the next 5 months until things pick back up inContinue Reading

Fun Fairs and Festivals You Can Find in Pierce County this Fall!

Fun Fairs and Festivals You Can Find in Pierce County this Fall!

Pierce County is a great place to live and there are tons of activities to keep you busy year round! Here are just a few of the fairs and festivals you can find this fall.


Roy Fall Pioneer Rodeo, Roy, Sept. 5-6

Visit the Roy Fall Pioneer Rodeo to watch bareback riding, calf roping, barrel racing, bull riding and more!

2015 Washington State Fair, Puyallup, Sept. 11-27

The largest fair in Washington takes place in Puyallup! It is 17 days of major bands, food, rides, animals and fun for all ages.

2015 Fall Fantasy Faire, Tacoma, Sept. 19

This festival includes fantasy themed vendors, art, dance, music, and entertainment.

Cider Swig, Greater Peninsula Cider Festival, Gig Harbor, Sept. 26

21 Northwest Cidermakers will be presenting over 70 different ciders. There will also be live music and food vendors.


Oktoberfest Northwest, Puyallup, Oct. 9-11

Stop by for beer and brats and stay for the authentic Oktoberfest entertainment!

Milton Craft and Gift Bazaar, Milton, Oct. 9 – 10

This is the 25th year for this juried vendor bazaar.

Orting Pumpkin Fest, Orting, Oct. 10

This pumpkin festival is full of amazing food, fun, and entertainment.

Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Festival, Tacoma, Oct. 22-25

550 vendors spend four days presenting amazing arts, crafts, food, and entertainment.


Puyallup Quilt, Craft and Sewing Festival, Puyallup, Nov. 12-14

In addition to supply and machine exhibits there are free seminars and workshops in sewing, quilting, crafts, and needle arts.

2015 Tacoma Gem Faire, Tacoma, Nov. 13-15

One of the largest jewelry, bead, and gem shows in the United States comes to Tacoma!

Puyallup Great Train Expo, Puyallup, Nov 14-15

Train collectors and enthusiasts will enjoy this show with its working model trains, dealers, exhibits, workshops and demonstrations.

Northwest Woodcarvers Show and Sale, Puyallup, Nov. 21-22

Held at the Pioneer Park Pavilion in Puyallup this show has carving competitions, demonstrations, and woodcarvings for sale.

Winterfest Arts and Crafts Fair, Gig Harbor, Nov. 28-29

Peninsula High School hosts over 200 artists during Winterfest. Student groups sell food at the fair to support their clubs.

Top trending home improvements for 2015

Top trending home improvements for 2015

Top trending home improvements for 2015

Top trending home improvements for 2015

Whenever you are looking to update your home you want to get the most bang for your buck. Whether you are planning on selling your home soon or living there for many more years, here are a few of the top trending improvements for 2015.


Outdoor Living Improvements – Creating a nice outdoor space for entertaining is a real winner when you are looking for a way to improve your home. Young buyers now are looking for an additional living space to enjoy the outdoors. While a full outdoor kitchen might be outside your budget, creating a dedicated grill space with a counter is an affordable option. Freestanding fire pits are a must in your new outdoor living space. A fire creates a feeling of warmth and togetherness that can complete an outdoor space.


Copper – The new “it” metal for 2015 is copper. If you want to change the feel of a room with minimal change, look for a hanging fixture or back splash featuring copper.


Keyless Entry – A keyless entry can be appealing especially for families with lots of people coming and going. Some have numerical codes and others even use biometric fingerprints to unlock the door. You can even get models that allow you to lock or unlock your door remotely from your wireless device and can even tell you who unlocked the door.


Charging Stations – This might be a bit of a hassle if you don’t already have a good space for a charging station but it can definitely help change the look a room if you can clear away the wire clutter. When you are looking for a place to put your charging station look for a location that you walk by often: a corner in the kitchen or a space next to the garage door are popular locations.


Porcelain Floors – Are you looking to replace some flooring in your home? If you are thinking about using an imitation wood product you should consider porcelain. It wears as well or better than the real thing and is cheaper.

What is a Built Green Home?

What is a Built Green Home?

What is a Built Green Home?

What is a Built Green Home?

One thing that we are seeing in the Pierce County area is an uptick in the number of Built Green Homes being built. So what does Built Green mean? For a new construction home to be certified Built Green there has to be a combination of approved Built Green practices used during the construction of the home that can include: a minimal use of toxic chemicals, the use of sustainable products, putting in skylights, only carpeting a maximum of one third of the home and only using natural fiber carpeting.

There are over 200 different options builders have when it comes to checking the boxes for a home to be considered a Built Green home and not all of them need to be done for a home to qualify as a Built Green home. Home buyers need to be aware of the different ways a home can qualify as Built Green and they can look for homes that have the specific qualifications that they are looking for.

If you are looking for more information about Built Green Homes in Pierce County you can visit the Master Builders Association of Pierce County Built Green webpage here: .

Fall is here!

Fall is here!

Fall is here!
Fall is here! We have had another great summer here in the Puget Sound. For home owners it means that it is time to start getting your yard ready for winter. For some, especially first time home buyers this can be a daunting task. Here is a brief checklist to help you get started!


  •       Pull the weeds. Of course we all pull weeds all year long, but now it is important to do before they sprinkle their seeds for spring.
  •       Deadhead your perennials. This is also a good time to look at the foliage and get rid of any leaves that look like they might be a little diseased. Pick them off now before they spread that disease.
  •       Clean up any debris that has accumulated from our recent rains and winds. Cleaning it up now will make things easier in the spring and it helps keep the pests and diseases from spreading next spring.
  •       Prune any dead wood. This will help avoid infestations later.
  •       Spread some mulch. This will help protect your plants’ roots during the winter.
  •       Put away your tools. If they are all cleaned up in their proper place you won’t need to remember where you left them in a few months.
  •       Plant your spring flowering bulbs for enjoyment in the spring.
  •       Fertilize your trees and shrubs.

Did you say Pumpkins?

Did you say Pumpkins?

Did you say Pumpkins?
One of the great things about living in Puyallup is that we have access to so many small farms, which means fresh produce all summer long and in the Fall it means Pumpkins! There are several great places to go here are a few:

Spooner Farms ( Spooner Farms has so many things for you to do in addition to pick out pumpkins. Here are a few: Pumpkin Sling Shot, Farm Animals, Gift Shop, Face Painting, Concessions, Candy Store, Caramel Popcorn, Caramel Apples, Roasted Corn, Kids Barn, Corn Maze, and Great Fall Decorations. Check their website to make sure the activity you want to do is open when you plan to go.
9:00-6:00 October 1st-October 31st
9710 State Route 162 East
Puyallup, WA

Picha’s Berry Farm (’s Pumpkin Patch has some great activities for the whole family: Picking pumpkins in the fields, a corn maze, pumpkin sling shot, hay rides, concessions, and fall décor.
Weekdays: 3 to 6pm. Weekends: 10am to 6pm
6502 52nd St E
Puyallup, WA 98371

Double R Farms (
Double R Farms has a ton of things for families to do including: Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze, Pumpkin Sling Shot, Hay Rides, Storytelling, Painted Pumpkins, Mini Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds, and Concessions.
5820 44th Street East
Puyallup, WA 98371

Happy Pumpkin Hunting to all of you!

6 Tips for Staging Your Home for Fall Showings

6 Tips for Staging Your Home for Fall Showings

6 Tips for Staging Your Home for Fall Showings

6 Tips for Staging Your Home for Fall Showings


Less is more – All your fall decorations mean so much to you and your family but make sure you use a discerning eye when displaying your family’s favorite pumpkins. You don’t want to clutter your home with decorations that could distract possible buyers.


Lighting – Here in the Puyallup area our days get very short. This means that your home can appear dark very easily. Make sure that you open your blinds and make sure all your lamps are on before you have a showing. If you notice a dark corner it would be a good idea to get a new lamp for that space.


Make your home feel comfortable – It’s getting cold outside! Make your home is cozy and appealing for your potential buyer. Add a comfy blanket and some pillows to your couch and you will be surprised at how much cozier it feels.


Scents of the Season – There are many scents you can choose from, but in the fall the smell of apples and cinnamon are king. Look for a scented candle or other room fragrance in a fall scent to make your home smell inviting from the beginning.


The Fireplace – Everyone can imagine themselves with their friends and family sitting around the fireplace. Highlight yours! Make it the focal point of the room by arranging your furniture or drawing attention to the mantel with art or accessories.


Curb Appeal – Don’t lose your buyers at the curb! Make sure you are keeping up with your yard and home. Your yard can look very messy with all the leaves that get blown into the yard. Make sure your fall maintenance projects are complete.

Fall Tips for Homeowners in Puget Sound

Fall Tips for Homeowners in Puget Sound

Fall Tips for Homeowners in Puget Sound

After another beautiful summer here in the Puget Sound fall is finally here. Here are a few tips for new and seasoned homeowners alike!

Cracks and Gaps
The air is starting to cool down, but before it is time to start turning on the heat you should check your home for cracks and gaps, especially around windows and doors, electrical outlets, outdoor faucets, around heating and cooling units, around air conditioners, corners formed by siding, and openings around drain pipes in bathrooms and kitchens. If you can seal up these small cracks now it could lower your energy costs this winter. Caulking and weather stripping will reduce the cold air flowing in from outside and will keep your precious warm air in.
Check Out Your Roof
Look at your roof. Look for any sign of minor damage like shingles that may be missing, broken, or cracked or any bare spots. You want to make sure that you get any roof issues taken care of before the cold and wet weather gets here.
Clean Your Gutters
There are a whole bunch of problems that can occur during the winter that are caused by dirty or clogged gutters including flooded basements or damage to your landscaping or foundation. Luckily this is a fairly simple thing to deal with. Cleaning your gutters is simple; remove any debris in the gutter. If you seem to have a lot of debris collecting in your gutters you might want to consider gutter guards.
Trim Trees and Bushes
Trim your trees and bushed now. This will save you some of the mess that could occur during fall and winter storms. It also has the added benefit of being good for your plants! Make sure you double check on the variety of tree and bush and follow the advised pruning and trimming guidelines for your plants. In the spring this will pay off when your trees and bushes are healthier than ever!
Fertilize Your Lawn
Did you know that your grass is still alive during the winter months, even with snow over it? The roots continue to grow all winter long. Fertilizing now will give your grass the nutrients it needs to come back healthier than ever next spring.

Store Your Lawnmower
Storing your lawnmower properly can save you a huge headache next spring. You want to completely remove all the fuel following the directions for your mower. You should check your manufactures recommendations for storing your mower over the winter, your model may have specific instructions.

Stay warm as things cool down!

Stephanie Callen, ABR, CRS, GRI, REALTOR®

Coldwell Banker Bain - Puyallup

611 31st Avenue SW Suite B - Puyallup, WA 98373 | Phone: 253.370.2771

© 2015 Stephanie Callen.

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