Ways to Increase Your Down Payment

If you have decided to make the leap into home ownership, chances are, you’re thinking a lot about your down payment and what you will need to have saved for it. When you look at the funding needed and break it down into small pieces to see what actions you can take to increase it, you will likely be able to save more than you initially thought. Here are some helpful ways that can help you bulk up your down payment amount.

Know what you need.
Oftentimes, people hear that you’ll need a 20% or higher down payment, but there are other options that allow you to put less down. Lenders don’t generally require 20% down, but rather can structure your down payment to meet your needs, considering that if you put less down, you’ll have a higher payment—both in principal and interest, as well as potential mortgage insurance which protects the lender if you default on the loan at any time. When it comes time to talk to a mortgage professional about your down payment, talk to them about low down payment options that could include FHA loans or VA loans for eligible veterans or active duty military. Most lenders will be happy to sit down and help you look at the info for your total down payment amount, which can then give you a solid goal.

Get creative with saving.
If you get a raise or a bonus at work, or you get money as a gift from a parent or other family member for a holiday or birthday, don’t spend it and instead put it straight into your down payment fund. If you pay off your car, resist the urge to go out and buy a new one with a monthly payment and instead use that money for your house savings. Another helpful idea is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings on the same day each month. This is not only convenient and save you the time of manually entering the transfer, but it may make it a little easier to save, too.

If you’re ready to start a conversation about what it takes to purchase a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 


Posted on November 9, 2018 at 4:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips |

3 Ways To Improve Equity In Your Home

Buying a home is a dream come true for many people and the longer you live in it, the more opportunity you have to build equity. Equity is the difference between what the home’s market value is versus what you owe on it and with each house payment you make, the more equity you gain. Also as your home’s value starts to increase your equity also grows. If you’re looking for additional ways to improve equity in your home, here are a couple of ideas.

#1: Large down payment.
When you’re ready to buy a home, you can get a head start right at the get-go, by making a large down payment. Putting down 20% or more of the property’s value is a great way to not only add instant equity, but it can also keep your house payment lower and it will also allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance each month which doesn’t insure you but rather insures the lender against a possible loss.

#2: Shorter mortgage terms.
It’s very common for homeowners to take out 30-year loans on their home, but if you can swing refinancing your home to a 15-year mortgage, you will be able to pile on the equity and help pay off the loan quicker. Your monthly payments will be higher, but the payoff can be significant when your mortgage is paid off in half of the time. If you can’t swing the refinance to a 15-year mortgage, consider paying a little more on the principal of your loan with your payment each month or make one or two extra payments a year and apply it toward the principal. This can help you pay off the loan sooner and will help bolster equity over time.

#3: Home renovations.
There are some remodeling and home improvement projects that can help increase the value of your home and boost the equity. Replacing windows and doors, adding attic insulation, and completing a kitchen or bathroom remodel can all help with increased property value and greater home equity. There are certain home projects that do not add as much value. If you’re not sure, I’m glad to provide advice on which to-dos reap the most return.

If you’re ready to explore the option of buying or selling a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 


Posted on October 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips, Home Maintenance, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Things That Make a Great Neighborhood

When it comes to buying a home, finding one in the right neighborhood is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind. Living in the area you want, in the home you want is the recipe for being a satisfied home buyer, giving you what it takes to live there for many years to come. Here are three main factors that make a great neighborhood.

#1: Schools.
Even for people that do not have kids in the school system, it’s important to know what your neighborhood schools are like. Quality schools ensure that good families want to move to that specific area, which will help increase the value of your property. Southwest Washington public schools are among some of the best in the state. Each school district employs high-ranking, award winning teachers, administrators, and support staff. Our primary districts are:

  • Vancouver School District
  • Battle Ground School District
  • Camas School District
  • Washougal School District
  • Evergreen School District
  • Ridgefield School District
  • La Center School District

#2: Accessibility.
Whether you’re a city person or someone who wants to be surrounded by forested areas in the country, making sure your home is accessible to the things you want is key. Research what places are nearby for public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants, activities, or hospitals. Consider what parks and other green spaces are around and factor in how long you will need to commute to work in your new neighborhood. If you telecommute, be sure you know how you’ll get that done in your new location. All of these are important questions to figure out answers to, so you can be sure you’re spending time at home rather than in your car traveling a long way to the places you need to be.

#3: Pride in ownership.
When you find a neighborhood that demonstrates pride in ownership, it’s obvious. Residents that keep their homes and yards maintained well will generally also value in the neighborhood and the neighbors they meet. A great neighborhood has neighbors that look out for each other, bringing them together for the betterment of the neighborhood as a whole.

If you want to explore the option of buying a home, contact me. I’ve been helping customers of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.


Posted on October 9, 2018 at 8:08 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Your Home Ready for the Change of Season

Fall in the Pacific Northwest is stunning. The leaves are already starting to change, the mornings are crisper, and the sun is starting to set earlier. Autumn is the perfect time to cross off some things on your home maintenance checklist, that may seem small but can make a big difference in the long run. Here are some important things you can do to get your home ready for the change of season.

#1: Get the gutters prepped.
Autumn in the Northwest brings a fair share of rain, so that means your gutters are going to need to kick into overtime soon. Your roof will drain thousands of gallons of water from the exterior over its lifetime, and in order to keep that process flowing, your gutters need to be cleaned out regularly. Clogged gutters not only disrupt the flow of water, but they could also lead to damage on your foundation or leakage in your basement. Before the rainy season starts and leaves start falling, be sure to get your gutters cleaned, either by doing it yourself or by hiring a professional gutter cleaning service.

#2: Get leaks sealed.
If you have leaky windows or doors, be sure to seal them with proper caulking before cold, windy days settle in. Weather stripping is an easy and cost-efficient way to reduce your heating and cooling costs, all year long because they can reduce drafts and keep warm air inside where it should be on those chilly fall days. If you have already sealed the areas around your windows and doors and you are still noticing drafts because your windows and doors are old and inefficient, it may be time to consider replacing those items in your home. New windows and doors will not only be energy efficient and reduce noise, but they will also add value and curb appeal to your home should you choose to sell it later down the road.

#3: Review safety procedures.
It’s a great idea to check safety products around your home as well as review safety procedures you have in place. Replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, be sure you have fire extinguishers on each level of your home, and then review your fire escape plan to ensure that you have an exit path should a fire occur in your home. Be sure that your windows aren’t blocked with furniture and have rope ladders available in rooms that are on the upper level.

Part of being a homeowner means staying on top of home maintenance to-dos. Keeping your home maintained well will keep it in great working order no matter what kind of weather happens outside during this year’s fall season. Ready to start your adventure in home buying or are you ready to sell your home this fall? I’ve been helping customers of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the buying or selling process and can provide tips along the way. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need.


Posted on September 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back to school organization tips for your home

September is here, and school will be in session soon. Once the kids are back in school all day, it’s a great time to dive into an organization project for your home, getting everything back to the right place after the busy summer. Keeping your house organized with clutter minimized will keep you feeling on top of things and ready to launch the school year with success. Here are some helpful back to school organization tips.

#1:  Get rid of clutter.
Summer water toys, summer clothes, and other items that have accumulated during your summer of fun need to be stored somewhere safe, so you can access them next year. Invest in some large plastic bins and a label maker so you can keep everything easy to find later. If there are items that you won’t use again, make a pile to donate or sell online.

#2: Get the calendar in order.
Managing the calendar each month can get hectic, especially for people that are juggling work during the day, work projects on the weekend, back to school nights, sports practice, or music lessons. Keeping your calendar organized will help make everyone’s life run more smoothly. Consider investing in a family chalkboard that can be put in a central location of your home where everyone can see what’s happening that day or for the upcoming week.

#3: Clean.
Once the clutter is cleared out, it’s a great time to clean.  Start from the top to the bottom, dusting cobwebs out of the ceiling. Save mopping or vacuuming the floors for last, as dust and debris from the top will travel downward. To stay on top of cleanliness throughout the year, consider investing in a cleaning service to come once or twice a month. That can help take the pressure off to keep everything clean and you can focus on after school activities instead.

If you have cleaned and organized everything and you’ve realized that there just simply isn’t enough space in your home and you want to explore the option of selling your home and finding something that fits your needs better, contact me. I’ve been helping customers of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.


Posted on September 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways To Save Money Around Your Home

Once you have purchased your home, it costs money to maintain. There are some surprisingly easy ways to save your hard-earned cash when it comes to day to day living in your home, as well as home maintenance. Her are some tips.

#1: Minimize your use of traditional light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs cause homeowners to throw away a lot of money every month due to high electric bills. Replacing your old bulbs with LED bulbs can help save you huge amounts of money over time. Over its life span, traditional bulbs can use up to $180 worth of electricity, whereas LED bulbs will use only $30 per bulb.

#2: Fix leaky faucets.
Leaky faucets not only waste gallons of water, which is a precious resource, but you’ll end up paying a lot of money for unused water. Getting your faucet replaced is an important task and could end up saving you a lot on your water bill.

#3: Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats are an amazing invention that allow homeowners to customize the temperature of their homes the way they like. The best part: you’re not wasting energy running your heating or cooling system while you’re away at work or on vacation. For example, if you plan to be away at work for most of the day during a hot summer day, program the system to shift up a few degrees while you’re gone, then set it to turn back down shortly before you turn home so it’s nice and cool. There is no use heating or cooling an empty home.

#4: Check your windows and doors.
Are the windows or doors in your home leaky? This is a great way for air to leak in or out and ultimately cause homeowners to pay excessive amounts in wasted energy. Be sure to caulk leaky windows and seal doors with rubberized weather-stripping on the sides and bottom. If your windows and doors are old and inefficient, consider replacing the windows and doors fully in your home. This will not only allow for energy efficiency, but it will also help add value to your home.

Summer is winding down. Are you ready to make the leap into home ownership this fall or are you ready to sell your home and move into your dream home? I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 


Posted on August 23, 2018 at 3:52 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yard Staging Projects That Can Help Sell Your House

When it comes to selling your house, first impressions really matter.  If you are spending time to ensure the inside of your home is in pristine condition, you should also put some time and effort into making your yard look great too. After some hard work in the yard, your efforts can pay off. But what to-dos will reap the most reward? Here are some yard staging projects that can help sell your house.

#1: Lawn clean-up.
Imagine driving up to a home that you’re thinking about buying and seeing that the lawn is overgrown and full of weeds. Not the greatest first impression, is it? If you have grass in your yard, potential buyers will notice how it’s taken care of. Be sure to keep it cut short and invest in having a landscape team professionally edge it.

#2: Goodbye, clutter.
The outside of your home should look as clean and tidy as possible. Stash kids toys and bikes in the garage or in a shed, get rid of any personal belongings that are out front, and move your garbage cans and other recycling products to the side of the home or to the back where it’s not as visible. Don’t forget that the porch or front doorway entry is where the realtor and potential buyers will be standing when they are getting the key from the lockbox, so the area should be clean and welcoming.

#3: Hello, color.
Head over to your local garden center and stock up on flowers to brighten up your yard, as well as your walkways. Use large pots and other hanging baskets for added color around your front doorway, porch, or patio. New bark dust can also freshen the space and help reduce weed growth. A little bit of color goes a long way and if you invest in perennial flowers, the new owners will be able to enjoy the beauty in future years.

Remember that your yard is part of the overall ambiance of your home. When prospective buyers see your home, think about what memorable impression you want them to have. The better the home shows, the better chance you have to sell your home with ease.

Ready to talk through listing your home this fall? I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process and can provide tips on the whole process, including what you should do to get your interior and exterior ready. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 


Posted on August 7, 2018 at 11:06 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How your credit score affects your mortgage

If you are considering stepping into the housing market to purchase a home, chances are, you are doing some research on mortgage rates and what it takes to obtain a home loan. Figuring out what the mortgage rates are right now and figuring out how you can get the lowest rate possible is an important part of the home purchasing process. There are several things that determine what your mortgage rate is and your credit score is one of the primary things that lenders will look for before they loan you money.

What is a FICO credit score?
This is a credit score that is determined by FICO, a company specializing in predictive analytics, which is used to analyze and predict future happenings. For credit scores, the company uses a variety of credit information to develop scores that will help lenders predict consumer behavior, including how likely it is for the person to pay bills on time and if they are able to handle a large mortgage or credit line. Your credit score is based on several factors including your payment history for all accounts, the amount of debt you currently have, how long you’ve been using credit, and what types of credit you use.

There are several minimum requirements to receive a credit score, including at least one credit account opened for at least six months. If you have a poor credit score, there are several things you can do to help improve it. First, bring active past due accounts current and keep on top of paying things on time. Keep credit card balances as low as possible and limit your applications for new revolving debt such as credit cards. (1)

Can you get a mortgage with a low credit score?
You can generally obtain a mortgage if your credit score is poor, but keep in mind that you may not get the lowest rate available.  However, if your score is below 580, it may be difficult to get a loan approved. The higher credit score you have, the more likely you are to get a lower mortgage rate. Raising your credit score even by 20 points or so can really help in getting a better rate.  For some people it’s best to wait to buy a home and improve your score and work on financial planning before you apply for a home loan.

A home purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your lifetime. Maintaining good credit, paying your bills on time and managing your overall finances with responsibility are all important things to have figured out before you take on a large home loan.

When you’re ready to take the leap to home ownership, I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process of looking for a new home and can provide tips on the whole process. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

  1. American Reporting Company. FICO Source Overview. Accessed via Lynn Posselt, Penrith Home Loans, NMLS#41393.

Posted on July 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to Build Home Equity

Image result for home equity

Buying a home is arguably one of the largest investments you will ever make. Home ownership is a great way to build your personal wealth and one of the primary ways to do that is by allowing it to appreciate and build equity. Here are some great ways to build home equity while keeping your budget in mind.

#1: Before buying your home, save for a larger down payment.
Saving for a down payment on your home is key, but the larger your down payment is, the less your mortgage is, which could help when the market increases, and you begin building equity. The tradeoff: if you wait too long to save for a larger down payment, you may miss your window in getting the home you really want for the price you can really afford. A good lender can provide the information you need.

#2: Stay in your home.
Once you’ve found your dream home, stay put for a while. The longer you stay in your home, the more likely you’ll build equity. As the real estate market continues to rise, your equity will improve naturally, and you won’t have to do anything except enjoy your home.

#3: Keep your home maintained well.
Don’t neglect home maintenance. Keep on top of small maintenance tasks to keep the list from getting long and out of hand. For example, make sure you tend to your roof yearly, checking it for leaks or ripped shingles, schedule annual heating and cooling system preventative maintenance appointments, and keep your yard and landscaping trimmed and managed. A home that is well taken care of not only makes it better for you to live in, but it also adds curb appeal, makes your neighbors happy, and will help your home stay competitive, thereby enhancing your equity.

#4: Make extra payments.
A lot of people choose to cut their loan term to 15 years rather than 30 years, to pay off their mortgage debt. Rather than taking a 15-year loan which locks you into a higher payment, make a couple of extra payments a year that is designated to principal, not an upcoming payment. By doing this, you’ll be able to cut your mortgage term down significantly and you’ll be able to build equity faster.

Ready to start on your path to building home equity?  I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process of looking for a new home and can provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! I love working with people around Clark County, so contact me to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.


Posted on July 10, 2018 at 7:25 am
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer porch & patio decorating ideas that bring beauty & increase home value

Summer officially begins this week and the warm weather is here to welcome us into the new season. Now is the time that Pacific Northwesterners enjoy a break from the rain and can get outside to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you’re looking for some fun summer porch and patio decorating ideas that bring beauty and increase home value, here are some simple ideas to help you get started.

#1: Bring the inside outdoors.
Rugs and throw pillows can work wonders in creating a warm and inviting patio or porch space. They add color and ambiance. In addition, consider adding some umbrellas or curtained areas that can provide both privacy and shade from the scorching summer rays. In addition, if you have old furniture that you may have considered junk, it might be able to be given new life as a piece of outdoor furniture. For example, if you have an old dresser, paint it with a coat of exterior paint and put it to use as a place to pot outdoor flowers, or as a place to serve lemonade or cocktails during your next entertainment event.

#2: Lights, lights, and more lights.
Lighting makes all the difference. Flood lights are important to have for safety reasons, but when it comes to outdoor entertaining or relaxing in the evening warmth, ambient lighting with programmable battery-operated LED candles or twinkle lights are a great option.

#3: Add landscaping.
Landscaping is one of the easiest ways to add beauty to your outdoor space and it can also enhance the value of your home. Shrubs, trees, potted flowers, or fresh flowers that are planted along walkways are affordable ways to beautify your space and increase curb appeal. Group in odd numbers and mix and match colors and shapes to create some uniqueness.

#4: Upgrade windows and doors.
If your home’s doors or windows are old and outdated, they’re likely not energy efficient and could be wasting precious money each month due to leaking air in or out. Replacement windows and doors will add value and beauty in an instant! Not to mention, they can reduce noise and help maintain even temperatures throughout your home, no matter what the weather is doing outside.

I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.


Posted on June 21, 2018 at 4:51 am
Nancy Johns | Posted in Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,