5 Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Home


If you’re ready to buy a home, you most likely have been saving up a sizeable nest egg. You want to make sure that you use that money wisely, because the expenses don’t stop after you’ve purchased the home. To make the most of that nest egg, you should follow these steps. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I will not only help you use your money wisely, but I will help you find the right home for you. Please let me know if you have any questions!

5 Tips for Saving Money On Your Next New Home by Kara Masterson. © 2014 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.

Preparing Your Home Checklist

Preparing Your Home Checklist

Preparing your home to be put on the market can seem like a daunting task, but I’m here to help! Go to my site http://juneausellersguide.com/staging to download this detailed check list and get your home ready to sell. 


  • Mow the lawn, and trim trees and shrubs away from the house.
  • Remove dead plants, flowers & shrubs.
  • Put away tools, garbage cans, hoses, toys & building materials.
  • Remove window screens while selling your home & keep windows clean.
  • Check for broken roof shingles and clean out gutters.
  • Seal or resurface driveway.
  • Clear patios and decks of planters, flower pots, charcoal & barbecues.
  • Dress up front yard shrubs & lamp posts with fresh mulch.
  • Repaint or refinish trip around windows & doors.



  • Clean the stove, oven, range hood & countertops.
  • Repair drippy faucets & squeaks or binds in cabinet drawers. Make sure cabinet hardware is also cleaned.
  • Discard old food & leftovers from refrigerator.
  • Remove messages, pictures and magnets from refrigerator.
  • Clear small appliances, dish drainer and cookware from countertop.
  • Wipe down cabinets and clear out items under the sink.



  • Clean all light fixtures and replace with bright bulbs.
  • Turn on all the lights before a buyer arrives to show there is nothing to hide.
  • Roll up and remove small rugs.
  • Fill the house with a fresh scent. Heat vanilla on the stove or bake a batch of cookies.
  • Spotlessly clean woodwork & carpeting.
  • Clear window ledges of all objects to give a nice glimpse inside & out.
  • Repaint walls in a neutral color.



  • Clean fireplace & remove any items in front of it.
  • Replace carpet if it has a loud color.
  • Remove magazines, books, video games, toys and other clutter.
  • Create an easy going, relaxed atmosphere.
  • Dust and simplify shelves; remove family photos.



  • Discard worn furniture & move extras to a storage area.
  • Visit a model home to get decorating ideas.
  • Clear away all magazines, books & other objects from furniture.
  • Take down pictures that hide walls. Patch nail holes & paint.
  • Add lamps & lighting in dark areas.
  • Open the curtains.
  • Set out fresh flowers.



  • Remove any unnecessary items from the vanity, tub, etc.
  • The fixtures, tile & shower curtain should be immaculate.
  • Caulk & grout tile. Bleach discolored grout.
  • Remove any wall paper that is not “conservative”.
  • Decorate with towels.
  • Check bath vents are working properly.
  • Make sure all fixtures work properly and fix leaks.



  • Define areas by furniture arrangement. Keep it simple.
  • Be sure clothes are hung up.
  • Store off-season clothing elsewhere.
  • Clean out closets enough for buyers to get a good idea of storage size.
  • Make sure nothing is left under beds; add bed skirts for cleaner look.


  • Clean or replace HVAC filter. Clean air returns.
  • Test all smoke detectors.
  • Clean chimney, fireplace or woodstove.
  • Remove any wall paper that is not “conservative.”
  • Make sure all windows, door & cabinets open easily without squeaks; replace rusty hinges.
  • Check ventilation in attic, basement & crawlspace; update if necessary.


Real Estate Tips: 7 Home Fixes to Make Before Selling


  1. Structural & Mechanical (roof, AC, water heater, pipes, etc.)
  2. Exterior (paint)
  3. Landscaping
  4. Cosmetic (dents, scratches, old paint)
  5. Kitchen
  6. Bathrooms
  7. Flooring 

To read more about fixes you should make to your home before listing, go to https://www.inman.com/2016/07/18/seven-items-you-must-fix-before-putting-your-home-on-the-market/?utm_source=20160723&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailyheadlinesPM&utm_content=3

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.comand http://juneausellersguide.com .

Baby Boomers: Buy OR Rent?

According to recent surveys conducted by Freddie Mac, a large amount of Baby Boomers and those over 55 years of age are making plans to relocate to rentals in the next few year. Over 5 million people stated they will most likely rent by 2020. This huge move of so many people will probably affect housing costs.

“When a population this large expects to move into less expensive rental housing, we have to expect it will create significant new pressure on both the supply and cost of existing affordable rental housing,” says David Brickman, executive vice president of Freddie Mac Multifamily.

I’m interested to hear what your future plans are! I put together a quick multiple-choice survey and would love to hear from you.


For more on the Baby Boomer Sell-Off, http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2016/06/29/get-ready-for-baby-boomer-sell?om_rid=AAT-f0&om_mid=_BXdARuB9PMCl01&om_ntype=RMODaily&om_rid=AADLJb&om_mid=_BXjqZoB9QAyY$0&om_ntype=SRESMonthly#sf29938537


Things to do in Juneau: Gold Rush Days!

WHAT: Gold Rush Days
WHO: Everyone!
WHERE: Sandy Beach Savikko Park 504 St Anns Ave, Douglas, 99824
WHEN: Saturday June 18th and Sunday June 19th
COST: FREE (bring a little spending money for food)

Most locals look forward to Gold Rush Days! (If you’re new to the area or visiting, it’s definitely worth stopping by to watch the events and enjoy some great food.) Gold Rush Days is two days long, June 18th and 19th this year, and is filled with exciting logging and mining competitions to watch and participate in, exhibits, TONS of wonderful food and lots of family-fun activities. The event is held at Sandy Beach in Douglas (Savikko Park
504 St Anns Ave, Douglas, 99824). There’s a good amount of parking, but if you live or are staying close by, I would suggest the short walk. Weather pending of course! It is Juneau after all! 😉

For more information and updates on the Gold Rush Days, visit www.facebook.com/JuneauGoldRushDays/ .

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com .
*Featured image from KTOO. 

Real Estate Tips: Terms & Definitions in Real Estate

Buying real estate can be a stressful process especially if it’s your first time buying and you aren’t familiar with the terminology. Below are the definitions to some of the common real estate terms you’ll hear throughout the process. 

“Appraisal “
A written justification of the price paid for a property, primarily based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby.

“Appraised value” 
An opinion of a property’s fair market value, based on an appraiser’s knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

This has different meanings in different states. In some states a real estate transaction is not consider “closed” until the documents record at the local recorders office. In others, the “closing” is a meeting where all of the documents are signed and money changes hands.

“Closing costs”
Closing costs are separated into what are called “non-recurring closing costs” and “pre-paid items.” Non-recurring closing costs are any items which are paid just once as a result of buying the property or obtaining a loan. “Pre-paids” are items which recur over time, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance. A lender makes an attempt to estimate the amount of non-recurring closing costs and prepaid items on the Good Faith Estimate which they must issue to the borrower within three days of receiving a home loan application.

An additional individual who is both obligated on the loan and is on title to the property.

A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.

An oral or written agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.

“Credit history”
A record of an individual’s repayment of debt. Credit histories are reviewed my mortgage lenders as one of the underwriting criteria in determining credit risk.

The legal document conveying title to a property.

“Down payment” 
The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage.

“Earnest money”
A deposit made by the potential home buyer to show that he or she is serious about buying the house.

An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the earnest money deposit is put into escrow until delivered to the seller when the transaction is closed.

“Escrow account”
Once you close your purchase transaction, you may have an escrow account or impound account with your lender. This means the amount you pay each month includes an amount above what would be required if you were only paying your principal and interest. The extra money is held in your impound account (escrow account) for the payment of items like property taxes and homeowner’s insurance when they come due. The lender pays them with your money instead of you paying them yourself.

“Fixed-rate mortgage”
A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

“Home inspection”
A thorough inspection by a professional that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser.

“Homeowner’s insurance”
An insurance policy that combines personal liability insurance and hazard insurance coverage for a dwelling and its contents.

“Homeowner’s warranty”
A type of insurance often purchased by homebuyers that will cover repairs to certain items, such as heating or air conditioning, should they break down within the coverage period. The buyer often requests the seller to pay for this coverage as a condition of the sale, but either party can pay.

A term which can refer to the institution making the loan or to the individual representing the firm. For example, loan officers are often referred to as “lenders.”

This usually refers to the loan officer’s written opinion of the ability of a borrower to qualify for a home loan, after the loan officer has made inquiries about debt, income, and savings. The information provided to the loan officer may have been presented verbally or in the form of documentation, and the loan officer may or may not have reviewed a credit report on the borrower.

The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

“Private mortgage insurance” (PMI)
Mortgage insurance that is provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders generally require PMI for a loan with a loan-to-value (LTV) percentage in excess of 80 percent.

“Purchase agreement”
A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

The noting in the registrar’s office of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.

A legal document evidencing a person’s right to or ownership of a property.

“Title company” 
A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com .


Real Estate Tips: VA Home Loans

If you qualify for a VA Home Loan, it is a great opportunity to purchase a home without putting any money down towards the sale price.

You may be eligible for a VA Home Loan if you meet one or more of the following:

  • You have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime,
  • You have served 181 days of active service during peacetime,
  • You have more than 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves,
  • You are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.

Once you have determined if you’re eligible, there are a few things you can do prior to finding a home to buy that can make the process go much smoother.

Run your own credit report. Errors show up sometimes, so look it over closely before the lender runs your credit report.

Obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. This certificate isn’t necessary to start your home buying process, but it will be required later to verify your length and character of service. This tells the VA is you are eligible to use the VA home loan benefits. To start the process yourself, you can visit the Veterans Administration site at http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ .

Gather some of the necessary documents your lender will require:

  • Bank statements for the last2 months.
  • All W2s for the last 2 years.
  • Last 2 years of Federal Tax Returns.
  • Pay stubs for the last 30 days.
  • Copy of each borrower’s identification.

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com .



Real Estate Tips: The True Cost of Home Ownership

The True Cost of Home Ownership


One-Time Expenses:

Will the appliances in the home need upgrading—now or in the near future? Don’t forget to check out the water heater and HVAC.

Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house often means you’ll need more furniture. Evaluate furniture needs and costs for your new home.

Before purchasing a home that needs remodeling, ask a contractor to give you an estimate. Homeowners often underestimate the costs.

Ongoing Expenses: 

Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (PITI)
If you have a fixed rate mortgage, the payment will remain the same for the life of the loan. Taxes and insurance may increase.

Homeowner Association Fees
Fees or assessments for a condo, townhouse or single-family home with an association can increase yearly. Compare fees of similar properties line-by-line. Check what the fee includes; for example, utilities gas, electricity, garbage pickup, and water. Watch out for special assessments for capital repairs and improvements to common areas.

Exterior Maintenance
Replacing the roof, painting the siding or trim, sealing the driveway, sealing the deck, replacing windows, gutter cleaning or repair, septic and well maintenance are just some of the additional exterior maintenance costs in owning a home. Some jobs you can do yourself, but others require professionals. Don’t forget the tools that go along with home maintenance: power washers, compressors, heavy-duty ladders, and power tools.

Interior Maintenance
If you’ve been renting, your landlord probably picked up the tab for repairs and general maintenance. Once you own your home you’ll be footing the bill. You will need to maintain appliances, plumbing and electrical systems, carpets, floor and wall coverings, and so on.

If you are renting, you’re probably used to budgeting for utilities. But the cost of heating a one-bedroom apartment can pale in comparison with the bills for an entire house. A real estate professional can help you find out about the current occupant’s costs but family size and usage impacts those numbers.

Yard Care and Snow Removal
Plan on buying a lawnmower and other landscaping tools or budget for a professional lawn service. Include a snow shovel or snow blower.

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com .

Continue reading “Real Estate Tips: The True Cost of Home Ownership”

Things to do in Juneau: Juneau Travel Fair


:    Juneau Travel Fair
WHEN:   Saturday April 16, 2016     12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
WHO:      EVERYONE! Family friendly!
WHERE:  Juneau Arts & Culture Center     350 Whittier Street, Juneau, 99801

Do you want to get out of the house this weekend and go do something fun with the family? The Juneau Travel Fair is this Saturday! You and your family can sample amazing food from some of Juneau’s food trucks- Coppa, V’s Cellar Door, Peterson’s Pretzels, Pucker Wilson’s and Happy Camper. Alaskan Brewing Co. will also have an outdoor beer garden! You will be able to learn about and book Southeast Alaska tours as well as enter for chances to win FREE tours and products.

Post a picture at the Travel Fair with the hashtag #JNUtravelfair16 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to be entered to win 2 tickets anywhere Alaska Air flies! (See terms and conditions on http://www.juneautravelfair.com/privacy-policy)
For more information, visit www.juneautravelfair.com/

Real Estate Tips: Negotiating Mistakes that Buyers Often Regret

Buyer’s Remorse: Negotiating Mistakes that Buyers Most Often Regret

When two parties enter into negotiations on a home, there are far too many opportunities for bumps and obstacles to get in the way. What are the most common traps, and how can you avoid them? Consider these common stumbling blocks for successful negotiating, and ways to find a better path:

1. INADEQUATE PLANNING Before writing your first offer, clarify your priorities, strengths, and weaknesses—AND the seller’s. A true negotiating strategy is about much more than price. Think beyond step one, anticipating possible responses and counter offers. With careful forethought and a little creativity, you’ll feel much more confident about your negotiating plan and improve your odds of success.

2. GETTING EMOTIONAL Stick to the facts and remain as objective as possible. Feelings of personal insult or anger don’t contribute anything of value to a negotiation. (In fact, it’s more likely to cloud your ability to think clearly.) If a seller rejects some aspects of your offer, try to calmly and rationally understand their perspectives.

3. IMPATIENCE Sometimes the negotiating process takes time to unfold. Stay relaxed and focused on your purchasing objectives. You may need to be flexible and open to alternative ways to reach them.

4. FEAR While patience is a virtue, don’t let fear paralyze your ability to make decisions. If you find a house that’s a good fit, don’t be afraid to submit an offer. Too often, buyers delay action and the house goes under contract with someone else. (Buyers rarely make this mistake twice.)

5. BLIND SPOTS Your objective is to own a home. Don’t lose sight of that goal by putting too much emphasis on smaller obstacles and distractions that may present themselves during the negotiation process. Stay focused on the big picture.

6. LACK OF KNOWLEDGE Learn as much as you can from your buyer’s rep about current market conditions. Knowledge is power, which can be used to your advantage in shaping your negotiating strategy.

7. STUBBORNNESS Negotiations are ultimately about two parties reaching a win-win agreement. Don’t be completely unwilling to compromise. Instead, focus on joint problem solving.

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com

Your Accredited Buyer’s Representative can coach you further on these and other points specific to your buying situation, helping you approach your negotiations smoothly and successfully.

The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation is awarded by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), a subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). To learn more about REBAC and access various home buyer resources, please visit REBAC.net.