Neighborhood Spotlight: Indian Trail

We’re in the middle of the Neighborhood Spotlight series – showing off different neighborhoods around Spokane. So the next up in this feature is Indian Trail.

This neighborhood has grown a lot over the last few years, with several new apartment complexes and duplexes going in. It’s about a 20 minute drive northwest of downtown Spokane. If you’re looking for mature trees and plenty of nature, you better check out the Indian Trail neighborhood.

Top Spots

Restaurant

This one goes to JJ’s Tap and Smokehouse. Barbecue is their main fare and the brisket is amazing!

Activity

The best activity is a little north of the neighborhood at Indian Painted Rocks. This gorgeous area is just off of Rutter Parkway. It’s an amazing place to hike, right along the Little Spokane River. Be prepared to see some wildlife too! Birds, deer, bald eagles and more are known to be out and about. The highlight of this area, though, is a rock near the entrance that has the remnants of a Native American painting on it. It’s believe that members of the Spokane tribe created the paintings back in 1750, and they are protected by steel bars now.

Coffee Shop Pizza

I typically do “best coffee shop” in this spot, but there are no local spots in Indian Trail! I mean, Starbucks never fails but that seems like a cop out. So instead I’ll give best pizza! Adelo’s is awesome. Their calzones are super good and they have a really fun, family-friendly trivia night on Friday evenings.

Schools

Depending on where your house is in Indian Trail, students either typically head to Indian Trail or Woodridge Elementary schools, then on to Salk Middle School and either Shadle Park or North Central High School. Click the schools here to find out more about each.

There are a whole lot of awesome neighborhoods in Spokane left to explore! Next time we will head over to the South Hill.

 


Posted on June 21, 2019 at 2:10 PM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Neighborhood Spotlight |

Neighborhood Spotlight: Garland District



A little more than a year ago, I did a Neighborhood Spotlight series showcasing several neighborhoods in and around Spokane. It was so popular that I decided to do it again! Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive in to Indian Trail, Millwood, Shadle, a couple South Hill neighborhoods and more! This week, we’re diving in to the Garland District.

Photo courtesy of KREM

Garland is about a 10 minute drive from downtown Spokane and is easy to identify thanks to anchor spots like the Garland Theater. The main street is an eclectic, hip area dotted with fun shops and restaurants, including: an art studio, a guitar shop, a thrift store, a coffee shop and a couple pubs.

The neighborhood was establish back in 1910, when the street railway system was built. It really grew over the next 40 years, when Ferguson’s Cafe, the Milk Bottle and Garland Theater opened up. All three of which are eligible to be on the Historic Register. A fire destroyed Fergusons and badly damaged the Milk Bottle back in 2011, causing more than a million dollars in damage. Firefighters said it was “human started” but didn’t come out and say arson was the cause.

Garland’s Top Spots

Top Restaurant

This one is a tie. How do you pick between the Milk Bottle and Ferguson’s?! I say, get some lunch at Fergusons and then head next door for a milkshake. The food at Fergusons your typical diner-fare. This spot opened in the 30’s and has been featured in several movies: most famously Vision Quest and Benny and Joon. The Milk Bottle opened shortly thereafter, with its sister location just off I-90 downtown.

Top Activity

My top activity is to grab dinner or a drink at Bon Bon and then heading to the Garland Theater to catch a movie. They are in the same building, making it easy!

Top Coffee Shop

And finally, top coffee shop goes to the Rocket Bakery. There are so many of these in town, but they are SO GOOD. They serve up great coffee with tasty baked goods to go along with it. Hint: get the pink cookie. They’re known for it…for good reason!

Schools

The schools that students in the area usually attend are: Willard Elementary, Glover Middle School, North Central and Shadle High Schools. You can click each school to find out the statistics on those schools.

In the next video, we will head a bit farther north to discover more about the Indian Trail neighborhood. To see past neighborhoods in this series, click here.


Posted on June 5, 2019 at 11:59 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Neighborhood Spotlight |

Final walkthrough: When does it happen and what to look for



So your offer has been accepted, you have gone through the inspection, and the appraisal came in at-value. You’re just a signing away from homeownership. Oh, and something your real estate agent calls a “final walkthrough.”  Let’s dive into what a final walk-through is, when it’s done and the most common issues that crop up during them.

First of all, the final walk-through takes place a few days before your signing. Think of it as your final chance to point out any issues before closing: because good luck getting a seller to do something after the fact.

Here are the most common issues and what to look for during your final walk:

Make sure the house is clean

This is typically a condition in offers. It says: seller shall clean the interiors of any structure and remove all trash, debris and rubbish. So if you’re selling, sweep and vacuum! If you’re buying, make sure you’re being realistic and don’t expect a spotless home. That’s usually your job once you move in. sometimes sellers will leave old paint cans to be helpful, but if you want them gone, now’s the time to say so.

Make sure agreed-upon repairs are made

Next, check to be sure any agreed-upon repairs were done. Sometimes the seller just forgot to do them…or hoped you would forget! As an agent I always ask for receipts for work that needed to be done by a professional about a week before closing. If it’s caught at the final walkthrough, it’s likely going to cause a delay in you getting house keys. If it’s a simple repair that the homeowner could do themselves—like replacing a faucet or adding carbon monoxide detectors- ask for a photo of the work to prevent any surprises.

Make sure items are still there

Make sure the seller hasn’t removed anything they agreed to leave…and that there aren’t any secret swaps for lesser quality items. If it happens, it’s typically with the washer, dryer, or refrigerator.  Sellers: always read the contract or ask your agent before removing personal property. Buyers: check it all out at the walkthrough!

Make sure there’s no damage

The last issue is damage from moving, so check the walls for massive knicks from moving a huge dresser or 15 holes from where a mounted TV used to hang. Sellers, you can take the TV and mount if it wasn’t in the contract, but you have to patch the wall and paint. Don’t leave it looking like a shooting range target.

 

Most walk-throughs have no problems at all, and if they do, they’re easily fixed. If you do find a problem, typically closing will be delayed until the issues are fixed. The other option is for the seller to give the buyer a concession. For instance, if the seller agreed to remove a bunch of firewood from the yard and it wasn’t done, they could give the buyer $150 toward closing costs to get it done. Both parties would have to agree on the amount and that this is an acceptable remedy.

A final walkthrough isn’t an inspection and it isn’t the time to start asking for things. The purpose is to make sure the house is in the same condition as when you first saw it, that any repairs you agreed upon have been made and that it’s cleaned up. 

 


Posted on May 10, 2019 at 12:15 PM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Buyers, Sellers |

Matthew Gardner’s 2019 Q1 Report: Eastern WA


Posted on May 6, 2019 at 11:42 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Buyers, Listings, Real Estate Agents |

Facts about Spokane



Maybe you’ve lived in Spokane your whole life or maybe you’re new to the area and just started to explore this wonderful city. Here are some fun facts and a little history I bet you didn’t know about Spokane.

Birthplace of Father’s Day

Spokane is actually the birthplace of Father’s Day! The very first Father’s Day celebration took place back in June of 1910 at the YMCA. Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed it a holiday in 1966 and it became a national holiday when signed into law by Richard Nixon 6 years later.

Original name? Spokan Falls

The city originally started as “Spokan Falls” – no “e” in Spokane. It was incorporated back in 1881 and the “e” was added two years later. Ten years later, “falls” was dropped from the name and its just been good ol’ Spokane ever since.

Great Fire of 1889

Have you heard about the Great Fire of 1889? It was a huge fire that took out all of downtown Spokane. The whole thing started at Wolfe’s lunch counter and lodge house – which was near Railroad Avenue and Post Street…that alley behind the Davenport Hotel Parking Garage. It could have been a lantern getting tipped over or as a kitchen fire. It started as a pretty small fire, but due to a problem at the pump station, there was no water pressure in the fire hydrants. In an effort to stop it, the mayor at the time ordered demolition of several dozen buildings. It didn’t help much and the fire just had to run its course until winds died down. In total, 32 blocks of the city were destroyed. It was a bad year for fires in Washington, as Seattle and Ellensburg were also destroyed by fires.

World’s Fair of 1974

Did you know we have the world’s fair of 1974 to thank for our well-known pavillion? At the time Spokane was the smallest city to ever host a World’s Fair, and it brought in about 5 and a half million people to our town. A HUGE revitalization project took place to get the city ready, focusing on the downtown waterfront and pavilion itself.

 

 


Posted on April 19, 2019 at 4:20 PM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Neighborhood Spotlight |

New construction vs existing homes



New construction or moving into an established home? On the surface, new and shiny seems like the obviously answer. New builds are – well – new! You can customize the cabinets, the floor plans, new appliances… it all sounds great. BUT is it really the best choice? Today we’ll dive into the differences between new construction and existing home purchases and why you might choose one over the other.

Cost

The average residential resale value in Spokane for last month was a little more than $245,000, while the average cost for new construction homes on less than an acre was almost $370,000. That’s about a $125,000 price difference. It really adds up once you start adding the cost of upgrades or any fees that result in changing the floor plan. Plus there is much more opportunity for some negotiating when you’re buying an existing property. That option isn’t really available with new construction: it is what it is. You also have to consider the cost of adding fencing, landscaping, grass, etc. to new construction. That can tack on an additional $10,000 – plus time and effort.

Everyone knows there’s more to homeownership than just the listing price, though: repairs and renovations add up! That’s one nice thing about new construction. They are unlikely to need big repairs for several years and if they do? It’s typically covered under warranty. Plus renovations are few and far between, because you can do all that customizing when you are building!

Timing

New builds can take six to nine months to complete. This could be a positive or a negative, depending on your situation. You have more time to gather a down payment and there’s less competition…but you’re waiting almost a year for your home to finish. Once you find a home to buy on the resale route, you can move-in in about 30-45 days.

Location

New construction is typically happening where there’s a lot of land…and that’s usually where there is a long commute. You’ll likely be on the outskirts of town, which is a HUGE draw to many people, but an equally big downfall for many others.

Summary

So to wrap up, existing homes give buyers more flexibility in cost and location, and you can move into them a whole lot faster. However, with new construction homes you won’t have to deal with repairs for awhile, you are typically further from the hubbub of the city and there’s more time to stockpile your down payment. You just need to look at all the variables and determine what’s best for you and your family.

 

 

 


Posted on April 3, 2019 at 10:38 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Buyers |

Getting pre-approved: What it is and why you need it



So you’re starting the house hunt – or at least entertaining the prospect – and you’ve heard step one is getting pre-approved. Today we’ll dive into what “pre-approval” means, why it’s important and the documents a lender will likely need to make it happen.

What is a pre-approval?

First of all, pre-approval is a mortgage amount that a lender is saying 1) he or she is confident you have the ability to make the necessary down payment of X amount and 2) you have an income that can sufficiently cover mortgage payments for the pre-approval amount. It’s not a commitment or a guarantee to loan you that amount of money. Why? Because it still has to go through underwriting once you have an accepted offer. It’s the lender saying: “I am 99% sure they can qualify just fine for this amount and I have gotten to this number by checking into their financials.”

What will the lender need from me?

What financials are they talking about? Well you’ll need to provide income information, such as: a couple months of pay stubs, tax returns and W-2s from the last two years, bonuses, child support, etc. The lender will also need to see your other assets like bank account statements or investments. And finally, he or she will need to check out your credit score. Those are the basics, but they may ask for other documents or information to get you pre-approved.

Why do I have to get pre-approved?

So why is it so important to get pre-approved? First of all, in a competitive seller’s market like we have today, offers aren’t getting the time of day if you don’t supply a pre-approval letter. It proves the ability to purchase the home from a financial standpoint AND that you have done due diligence of getting pre-approved – so you’re serious about this! Plus, do it for your own sake. There isn’t much worse than falling in love with a house, deciding to make an offer for $250,000, only to find out you can only get a loan for $240,000. You might know you have amazing credit or the ability to make a large down payment, but it is so important to take this step early and make sure all your ducks are in a row.

Can’t I just get pre-qualified?

There is also a huge difference between getting pre-qualified and getting pre-approved. A quick 10 minute call with a lender, telling him or her that you “make X amount of money, can put Y amount down and your yearly expenses are Z” can get you pre-qualified. But that doesn’t hold very much weight with sellers. It’s more for your own information. Getting pre-approved will prove to be worthwhile.

How long does the process take?

The whole process of getting pre-approved can take about a week or two – depending on how long it takes you to get the documents together. So if you’re considering buying a home, get the process started early! It’s free, there’s no harm in it and the pre-approval will last for about three months.

If you’re looking for a lender to get started with, let me know. I have a couple tried-and-trues whose contact information I can gladly send your way. I promise they’ll help you out and make the whole process pretty painless!


Posted on March 22, 2019 at 2:16 PM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Buyers |

First steps toward selling a house


So you’ve decided to sell your house. Well, now what? Today we’re going over how to get the ball rolling and what you need to do before all those potential buyers come traipsing through your door.

First you need to get ahold of an agent who knows what they’re doing! The first step is for them to come to your home and do an initial walkthrough. It will only take about 30 minutes. This allows the agent to get a feel/layout of the house and take some preliminary photos for their own recollection when they build the CMA (we’ll get to more about that in a second.) This is also the time where you and the agent can make sure you’re on the same page: chat about your goals, an ideal timeline and any expectations you have.

The agent will then put together an CMA, or a comparative market analysis. This is a compilation of nearby homes most similar to yours that have recently sold. The agent will take everything into account: from the square footage and numbers of bedrooms or bathrooms, to the age of the furnace and roof, to the condition and updatedness of the whole shebang. At the end, the agent will likely produce a range for what your home could likely sell for in the current market. It is so important that you listen to the agent’s expertise in regards to the price, because pricing a home too high has all sorts of negative impacts…but that’s a discussion for another day.

Next, you’ll meet again to go over the CMA, talk numbers and the agent can explain how he or she got to the number that they did. They’ll also go over their marketing strategies, revisit your timeline and chat about staging ideas. During this time, the agent may also make recommendations in terms of repairs to be made to the home. If you’re open to the constructive criticism, it can greatly help your end goal – whether that’s a price you net or a quick sale. The agent will put their “buyer hat” on and go through your house, pointing out small changes you could make that will really help elimiate any red flags for potential buyers. These changes can be deferred mainaence issues or minor repairs, such as changing light bulbs or a hole in the wall. Or other times it’s something unsightly, like a neon green bathroom they recommend you paint or something larger like worn carpeting that needs replacement. Sometimes it’s an unpleasant smell, where something as small as moving the cat’s litter box will help.

At this point, some sellers are ready to sign the paperwork immediately, while others want to think about the listing price or even chat with other agents about listing the home. Both options are completely fine. However, once you decide to move forward with getting your house on the market, I recommend signing the agent’s paperwork as soon as you are comfortable. This allows the agent to get it all inputted into the system and uploaded in the MLS. Then, once the photos are taken and you are ready to go “live,” it’s as simple as pressing submit.

During the time between signing the paperwork and going live, get to cleaning and making those repairs. You need to clean and scrub every single surface in your house to make sure a buyer’s thoughts are “wow, they really took great care of this home.” That will help you make the most you can on the sale AND sell it ASAP. Until next time, thanks for joining me on the welcome mat.


Posted on February 22, 2019 at 8:52 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Sellers |

First steps toward buying a house


So you’ve taken the big step and decided you’re ready to buy a house… now what? Today we’ll go through the steps of the buying process and what you can expect when buying a house.

Step one? You have to find an agent who you click with and who knows their stuff. First you’ll need to have a consultation with them. It’s a quick 30 to 45 minute meeting to go over your wants and needs for your new house. It’s a chance for you and the agent to get on the same page, you can ask them any questions you might have and they can get a better understanding of what your goals are and what’s important to you.

Next you need to get pre-approved. Your agent might have a preferred lender or a couple of lenders they’ve worked with and who are quite reliable. They can give you contact information for them, or if you have someone you’ve worked with in the past, feel free to use them as well! Don’t hesitate to contact a couple of lenders. You can chat with them, see who you’re most comfortable with and who you click with the most. Then you’ll work with them to get going on the pre-approval process. If you are able to get required documents to them quickly, they can likely get back to you in a day or two. However, it can take a whole lot longer if you drag your feet on getting them what they need: so make it happen soon! A lot of people say “I have great credit, I’m not worried about getting approved” or “I make good money. I know I can afford a payment of X.” That’s great, but more goes into it than that. Both credit and what you make are of course key factors, but lenders will go through all financials. Plus, GOOD lenders will chat with you about your comfort level of payment. Just because you can afford a $2,000/month payment, doesn’t mean that it won’t stretch you thin and cause a lot of stress in your life! Plus, pre-approval letters are requirements with offers (and some showings) in today’s market.

Now the fun part: looking at houses! A lot of buyers want to skip to this step, but it’s important you do the other two first and get your team set. Let’s be real: with social media and the internet, you’ve been looking at homes for much longer than when you contacted the agent or lender. But to physically get into those houses is a whole other story! I get it. I’ve had buyers who fall in love with the first house they see. They put in an offer and they get it! Then I’ve had buyers who have looked at 30 houses and it took 4 different offers until theirs was accepted. So this stage could go really fast or it could take awhile. It depends on your motivation level and what is out there.

From there on out, you put in an offer and once it gets accepted, you need to get an inspection and an appraisal. From the time you put in an offer on a house until it closes and it’s yours is typically anywhere between 30 and 45 days.

I’ve put together a handy packet that I give all of my potential buyers. It goes through this whole process with a bit more detail and expected timelines of each stage. If you’d like a copy, let me know and I can send one your way!


Posted on February 8, 2019 at 8:59 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Buyers |

Cautions against listing “for sale by owner”


So you’re thinking of selling your house and going “for-sale-by-owner.” I know it sounds like a good idea: you know, saving on all those real estate agent fees. In theory, that may sound like a good idea, but here’s why most for-sale-by-owners regret the decision and why you might want to reconsider.

Pricing

Pricing is huge. This is the key factor to selling in a reasonable amount of time, and it isn’t as easy as you might assume. Yes, you can go online and check out your Zillow Zestimate and look for what homes around you recently sold for: but are you comparing apples to apples? Just because your neighbor sold her 1500 square foot rancher two blocks away for $280k doesn’t mean that your 2000 square foot split-level house on a busy street is the same. A good Realtor can put together a market analysis that takes all kinds of features into consideration: from condition differences to improvements and desirability. Because do you know how to account for square footage differences or how much the pool affects price or that brand new carpet you just put in? You don’t want to leave money on the table, but you also need to price correctly to stay competitive and not stay on the market for so long that potential buyers skip over your home because they assume something is wrong with it.

Marketing

Throwing up some yard signs and marking it “for sale” on Zillow isn’t going to cut it. Buyers are tech-savvy and for the most part they aren’t just aimlessly driving around looking for yard signs. The sign is really just a locator. And yes, it is important to be “live” on Zillow… but almost every single buyer uses an agent. And agents use the all-powerful MLS to check for their listings and send out emails for listing to their clients. In order to have your home seen by the most amount of buyers (and more eyeballs means potentially more offers!) you need to be on the MLS – aka the number one way buyers find homes.

Agents are good filters

And let an agent be the filter for you. A good majority of buyers don’t like contacting sellers directly. It’s weird and uncomfortable for them. An agent is a good, approachable “middle man” to them. Plus, let them be the filter for YOUR benefit, too. Craigslist can be creepy. There are a lot of scammers and criminals and dangerous people on there who are searching for your name, your phone number and other pertinent information. They might call you and set up a showing, when really they aren’t interested…they just want to look at what you have in your house. When you have an agent representing you and your home, any potential buyers only see the house in the company of an agent who is in good standing with their association – which includes frequent background checks, history, etc.

Don’t waste your time!

This leads into not wasting your time, too. If you’re your own agent, how do you decide who’s a serious buyer and who’s just wasting your time? Everything goes through your agent, so they can vet potential buyers BEFORE they see your home. They’ll ask about the buyer’s pre-approval letter, how long they’ve been looking, etc. to make sure they are serious about potentially putting in an offer and they aren’t just looking for the fun of it.

Legalities and paperwork

And finally, all that legal mumbo-jumbo and paperwork. Once you have verified a potential buyer and they put in an offer, you have to attend to all the details and make sure the sale goes through. But what happens if you forget a mandatory disclosure or form? It’s more than just the loss of the sale at that point…we’re talking the potential for serious legal repercussions, too. Agents are trained on the legality of this paperwork, can explain anything you are confused about and make sure everything is in order to protect you from any legal ramifications.

It all boils down to the hope of saving around 3%. It isn’t the normal ~6% because any buyer with an agent will likely require you to cover their agent’s ~3% fee or they have to pay it themselves. And yes, saving around 3% sounds really great! But when most people only sell a home a handful of times in their life, a professional guiding you along the way can take away SO MUCH HEADACHE. Let the pros pay for the photography and all the marketing, and let them deal with the hassle of negotiation and paperwork and vetting of buyers. I assure you, it is worth it in the end.

 

 


Posted on January 25, 2019 at 7:57 AM
Alyssa Curnutt | Posted in Sellers |