I work with many individuals and families every year and each one has a different story. This story comes from the Strickland’s. They are Pacific Northwest natives and after living in their first home for nearly 12 years, it was time to make a change. Here’s their story.
My name is Brooke Strickland and my husband Bryan and I have been married almost 14 years and have two children. We both grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have made Vancouver, Washington our home. We bought our first, very small home (only 925 square feet!) in 2004 and we originally planned to live there for only 5 years. My husband had always wanted to be in the downtown area, so after almost 12 years (rather than our original 5 years), we decided to start exploring a move.
I loved our little home and was nervous that we wouldn’t find a home that was affordable in the area that we wanted. I stomped my feet and was hesitant, but we finally decided that it was time to expand. We knew Nancy’s experience was unmatched and I had full confidence that she would help us sell our house quickly and help find us a new one that we loved, and that wouldn’t make me cringe every time I opened up the bill to pay the mortgage every month.
We listed our home for sale in April of 2016 and within 18 hours, we had 3 offers on the table. We met with Nancy and she walked us through what the offers looked like and which one would be the best. Within days, we had gone from prepping to sell to having a sale pending sticker up on the sign. Things went very fast.
In the meantime, we were looking for another home. I looked obsessively online and found one that was perfect in every way, but it was priced too high for our budget. My husband (and Nancy) encouraged me to just look at it. We did and boy, did we fall in love. The house had been for sale for over a year and already had three previous offers that had all fallen through. Our family believed that it was “meant to be” and we entered negotiations with the sellers. In this market, we were nervous that there would be competition among other people trying to buy the home, but we didn’t have any. We literally wrote our offer and with only a bit of back-and-forth, our offer was accepted. And the best part? We came in UNDER the selling price. There were so many things that lined up during the process that told us that we were supposed to go forward with this home. With Nancy’s quick thinking and expert negotiation, she was able to help us buy our dream home. We just surpassed the one-year mark living in our dream home and almost weekly, we say “we can’t believe we live here!” This house is truly a gift and something we will treasure for many years.
Nancy can tell you that I asked probably 5,000 questions during our time working together. She was more than patient with me and explained everything in a way that I could understand it. We highly recommend her to any of our friends or acquaintances that are looking for a Realtor in the area. There is no one like her and we credit much of our story to her willingness to walk alongside us while we explored and tested out our options. We are so thankful!
I love being part of the ‘story’ of different clients—moving from a condo to a house, moving from acreage to in-town, moving into the area, moving out. Give me a call if you would like to talk to me about being part of your story.
** I conduct business in accordance with all federal, state, and local fair housing laws. It is our policy to provide housing opportunities to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, national origin or sexual orientation. **
Buying and selling a home is a process that some people just do once or twice in a lifetime, so oftentimes it feels unfamiliar and awkward. Having an experienced real estate agent that can walk you through the various steps is so helpful. Listing agents want buyers to have specific things when it comes to purchasing a home. Buyers agents want sellers to have specific things, too. Here’s what they are:
Listing agents generally want the potential buyer to have the following:
- A competent agent.
Listing agents generally want to work with a knowledgeable agent that is experienced in managing contingencies and is ethical throughout the process, especially when there are multiple offers on a property involved.
- A pre-approval letter.
Going house shopping without a pre-approval letter showing what home price you’re qualified to shop for, is a time drain for everyone involved. Before shopping for a home, buyers should have a pre-approval letter from their lender that has credit, assets, and income verified. That gives agents parameters on what homes are within the buyer’s range.
- Reasonable expectations.
Buyers have many ideas on what they want their next home to look like, but those expectations need to be realistic. In other words, buyers need to have reasonable expectations of house conditions based on the age of the home.
Buyers agents generally want the seller to have the following:
- A knowledgeable, competent agent.
Working with another agent who has experience in using the right forms and standard processes is important, and working with another agent that is ethical is also key. In today’s market, there are often multiple offers on homes and working with someone who follows ethical guidelines in those situations especially is important.
- Empathy and realistic expectations.
Sellers want to sell their home, but it’s important to keep in mind that buyers are facing a lot of stress in the process trying to find a home. Buyers agents appreciate sellers that have empathy for what buyers are facing in a low-inventory market. In addition, sellers that have realistic expectations of what types of repairs a buyer will ask for as a result of the home inspection is also important to making the selling process go smooth.
- Resources and information.
Sellers should be proactive about finding reputable, licensed contractors to get repairs done quickly and efficiently, the first time. This will help the selling process go a lot smoother. In addition, sellers should stay informed about the closing process and stay on top of getting their paperwork in order so there are no unnecessary delays.
Buying a home or selling one can be an exciting, but overwhelming time in your life. No matter what position you’re in, you and your Realtor should be able to work well together on whatever steps are coming next. If you’re looking for a Realtor to help make your home sale or home purchase a reality, contact me today.
Buying or selling a home is a one-of-a-kind adventure that is often filled with many unexpected twists and turns. Why hire a Realtor when you could figure out how to do the job yourself? An experienced real estate broker can serve as an invaluable resource. Here’s are some tips on how to select a Realtor and what it can mean for you.
#1: Figure out how they work.
Working with a Realtor that knows you and your specific needs is key. For example, do they sit down and get to know what you’re looking for, such as schools, land, house features, or neighborhoods? This should be a personalized process that’s based on understanding and trust. Realtors offer a constructive and positive attitude during times that you may feel overwhelmed. You’re never left to figure things out on your own. And while you might want to do some leg work during the buying or selling process, your Realtor should do all of the heavy lifting for you.
#2: Ask about what kind of clients they work with.
Some Realtors work only with sellers and they’ll have assistants work with buyers. Others work strictly with buyers. Look for a Realtor that has a mix of both clients – some buyers and some sellers. This can provide the Realtor greater insight when it comes to making or receiving offers. Realtors will have a clear idea of what clients on the “other side” might be thinking and they’ll help you find ways to select the right offer or make one that the seller will find attractive.
#3: Look at their experience.
Experienced Realtors have negotiated hundreds and sometimes thousands of real estate deals and because of that, they can use their skill to get your house sold or to help secure the home you want to purchase. Your Realtor should be an ever-present mediator that is with you through the process. You don’t have to worry about stumbling through the steps in the dark, as they can leverage their experience to help get the job done efficiently.
#4: Understand their style.
Get to know the Realtor and their style. Are they quick to respond to your questions and when they do, are they thorough? Is the Realtor easy to get along with and how does their personality coincide with yours? Your Realtor’s style should be comfortable for you. Real estate is a very personal business and requires finding the right “match” – one that feels natural for you and your family.
Buying and selling your home can be an exciting time and throughout the process, your Realtor should keep you updated by providing market stats, information on how your home is performing while it is on the market, and they should also let you know when new listings come available if you’re looking to buy. If you’re looking for a Realtor to help make your home sale or home purchase a reality, contact me today.
Last week we discussed the basic steps in the mortgage process. There is a lot of complicated detail in a new home loan. Reading the fine print can be overwhelming if you’re not sure what it all means. Here are a few things to de-mystify the information coming your way.
#1: Choosing a good mortgage company and experienced loan officer.
An experienced loan officer will sort through all the financial complexities: the mortgage type of mortgage, closing costs, and monthly payment requirements. It’s in your best interest to meet with your loan officer before you make an offer—the purchase contract requires you declare your mortgage company within five days of agreement.
#2: Reviewing loan documents.
The multitude of documents you’ll be reviewing is quite daunting, but your loan officer will wade through them with you. At the onset, your loan disclosure will lay out all the details, and keep you from being surprised with closing costs. These costs generally include lender fees, closing fees, prepaid interest/insurance, prorated taxes, and HOA dues. There is a lot to create confusion! This is why a good working relationship with a lender is essential.
#3: Lock in your interest rate.
It’s important when your loan professional advises you to commit, that you lock in your rate ASAP—they can change by the hour! Most lending institutions are bound by the same guidelines, meaning that though one lender might offer a better rate, the quote can be manipulated by changing fees, especially the “loan origination fee.” If you want to shop around for rates, be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. Rates are constantly in flux, so what might look good from one lender today could change tomorrow.
#4: Understand the terminology.
Feel free to ask your loan officer to define specific terminology that you should know. For example, what is APR? This is a universally term that defines the actual cost of your loan. It rolls lender fees into the cost, then recalculates the annual percentage rate—not to be confused with the “note rate” on which your payments are based. The general rule of thumb: the greater difference between the APR and the note rate, the more the lender is charging you for services.
Feeling confused? You’re not alone. You can see that a trusted mortgage professional is essential to understanding what you’re committing to. I have long-standing recommendations for competent, accessible, trustworthy mortgage professionals—seeing firsthand how they have worked with clients’ best interest in mind. Choosing one will serve as a major ally as you navigate financial details, paperwork, and terminology.
Congratulations! You’re planning to buy a house, and springtime is the perfect season to consider how your financing can lead you to purchasing a home. Here are some basic steps you’ll need to obtain a mortgage.
Step 1: Find a reputable mortgage professional
I can recommend several local mortgage professionals and loan officers that will discuss with you which loan type works best for your specific situation. The goal is to land on a comfortable purchase price and consider your monthly payment options. It also determines if we need to ask for “seller concessions,” such as having the seller pay closing costs. The loan officer will ask a variety of questions including:
-How much do you have to put down on the house?
-Do you have gift funds available?
-Do you plan to sell your current home before you buy or afterwards? If afterwards, how are you going to “bridge” across from one to the other?
Once you have your questions answered, you can fill out the loan application either in person or online. You’ll get a pre-approval letter from the lender and we can start shopping for homes!
Step 2: Provide your lender with necessary documentation
Providing your lender with supporting documents is key, and you’ll be asked to provide a significant amount of documentation. Lenders are under strict guidelines since the mortgage meltdown in recent years, so remember to be patient. You’ll need to document specific areas of your financial life, and keep documents up to date.
Step 3: Underwriting
Your lender will start the underwriting process, which has two parts they approve: you and the house. So, even if you haven’t found the right house, you can still “get approved” for one. This avoids potential setbacks or slowdowns once we have found the home that you want to move forward with buying.
Step 4: Contract paperwork
Once you’ve found a home you’re ready to purchase, we’ll get it under contract, and I provide the lender with the necessary contract paperwork. After your home inspection the lender orders the appraisal– through an independent process so the lender, you, or I cannot alter the property’s evaluation.
Step 5: Final underwriting
Once you receive the appraisal information, your file will go through underwriting for a final time. You’re issued some important paperwork, and loan documents are drafted. Then, we meet and sign final papers– showing you are the new homeowner.
Congratulations! You’ll get keys and be ready to move into your new home!
I often have people ask me which home updates will provide the most value, especially when they’re looking to list their home for sale soon. There are several home remodeling projects that can reap good returns when it comes time to sell the house – some renovations add more value than others. Here are some home improvements and upgrades that can increase your home’s value.
#1: Updated kitchen.
A remodeled or updated kitchen can bring a great return. If you list the house with a kitchen that needs significant updating or repairs, a potential buyer could come in and think that they need to completely redo it and overestimate how much it will cost, when a kitchen remodel could actually be less than a buyer might think.
#2: Updated bathrooms.
Similar to updating your kitchen, remodeling or revamping your bathroom can yield great returns when you sell the home. Simple updates like new sinks and toilets or new paint and flooring can be a great way to add value.
#3: New windows.
Old windows – especially those in older homes – are usually not energy efficient and can get drafty, allowing cold or hot air in throughout the year. Replacing the windows in your home will not only add value to your home, but they’ll keep your home cooler and warmer during the year and can even provide a cost savings on your monthly utility bill.
#4: Updated flooring.
Floors have a big job and over time, they’ll show regular wear and tear. Updating your flooring can make a huge difference in the look of your home and can also add some big value. Adding new carpet or new hardwood or laminate floors is a great investment and if you have old hardwood floors, you can consider refinishing them to their original state instead of completely replacing them.
#5: New paint and caulking.
This is a simple and fairly inexpensive way to create curb appeal and add value at the same time. If the exterior of your home hasn’t been painted in a while, springtime is a great time to repaint. New coats of paint for the inside of your home is a great idea too and while you’re doing that, caulk around the windows and doors.
If you’re looking to make some upgrades to your home, call me for the names of some local contractors. Or, I am happy to do a quick preview of your home to help you decide what should be done for the best return.
Looking for a contractor or local company to help with some of those home improvement projects around the house that you’ve let go during the winter? Spring is a busy time for contractors and unfortunately, it’s a time where scammers go through neighborhoods and start offering seasonal services to homeowners. Whether it’s a window repair, window washing, leaf raking, or HVAC installations, there are people out there that will make promises on doing a great job, take your money, then never deliver the service they agreed to do. In addition to asking me for recommendations on reputable contractors, here are some other ways to avoid contractor scams.
Tip #1: Know what some of the popular scams are.
Most of the time, the person pretending to be a reputable contractor will come to your door and claim that he or his team is already in the neighborhood doing work on other people’s homes. The company or individual will claim to provide you a large discount because they’re already in the area doing a job. Then, the person will ask for partial payment upfront in order to secure your place, then will promise to return the next day after he finishes his other job in the area. It’s likely that the person will take your money and run – you’ll probably never see him or that money again.
Another common scam happens when contractors enter your home to work on it and they start adding in extras to the job that were not part of the original price and scope of work. If the contractor does not want to write up something that includes all of the details regarding what work will be done and how much it will cost, this should be a red flag.
Tip #2: Know how to protect yourself from scams.
There are several great ways to stay alert to possible scams. First, work with reputable local businesses. To find out if someone is part of a reputable business, ask for proof of their business license, ask for a business card or examples of estimate sheets, and look to see if their vehicle has professional signage on it. Next, do your research online to see what kind of reviews are there. Look at sites like Yelp, Google, Better Business Bureau, or Angie’s List to start. If you notice a lot of negative reviews, you should probably consider looking for a new contractor.
One of the unique services I offer is the ability for you to call me and ask for recommendations on contractors or companies that are reputable. If I don’t have a specific recommendation for what you’re looking for, I can check with over 120 Windermere agents in Vancouver who do.
Moving can be a challenging time for people of all ages, but as a teenager, it can be even more life-changing. Emotions and hormones are changing and developing and for a teen, it could feel like you’re changing everything about their life. They may feel uprooted or feel like you’ve taken the foundation out from underneath them – especially if the move is far away. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your teenager deal with an upcoming move.
Tip #1: Give them time to prepare.
Give your teen plenty of warning and time to process the move that’s coming up. Communicating about it well in advance will be helpful. It might be tempting to hold off on breaking the news to her/him, but in the end this could be detrimental, because they may feel like it’s been “sprung” on them with little time to contemplate what changes will need to happen. Keep communication open and let them know various details about the move and let them do some research on the new neighborhood or city so they can get an idea of what it will be like.
Tip #2: Give them some input.
Allowing your teen some input on the process will help them take ownership of it a little bit and it could also help them get excited about the prospect of change. Consider what your teen has to say about neighborhoods and schools, explore places in town that are popular, and make sure that their voice is heard. Allowing them to express their feelings about it will not only help them deal with the upcoming change that’s about to happen, but it will also help them contribute to decisions that may need to be made. Whether it’s decisions on neighborhood or just picking out the styles/designs in their new room, your teen wants to be heard.
Tip #3: Give them opportunities to stay in touch with old friends.
Goodbyes are not always easy. The teenage years are immersed in building friendships and one of the hardest parts of moving for your teen might be that you may not ever see your friends again. Encourage your teen to stay in touch through social media, phone calls and texts, or if you will still be within driving distance, let them know that you are committed to helping them stay in touch by driving them back to the area to visit.
Tip #4: Talk positively.
Your teen will pick up a lot about your feelings, stress, and attitude about the move, sometimes without you even knowing it. So if you want them to react as positively as possible, you’ll need to talk about the move in a positive and encouraging way.
Moving can be difficult, but communication throughout the process can help greatly. New memories are waiting to be made and a new chapter in your new home will be an exciting time.
In 2016, common décor colors used in homes were known to be soft, calm, and tranquil, but 2017 will bring brighter, more vibrant colors to the home decorating scene. Green has been named this year’s top color choice for decorating, which is sure to add pizzazz to any space. Here are some great ways to incorporate this color into your home’s style.
Incorporate natural greenery:
If green is the color of the year, integrating natural greenery into your home a great option to make your home warm and inviting. Real greenery throughout your home will bring new life to your space. Potted plants with brightly colored ceramic pots are great options. Or, consider adding indoor hanging succulents or other hanging plants with trailing stems for dramatic beauty in any room of your home.
Pillows, pillows, pillows:
If you don’t want embrace green completely, but you’re looking for an added pop of color, green accent pillows can be a good way to bring in the green to living room or bedrooms. Or, add green throw blankets to your couches, love seats, or beds.
Change out window dressings:
New window coverings can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room. If you’ve considered making a change to your window dressings, green curtains could be a fun option. Curtains can make a dramatic statement, even on a small budget.
Add color to your walls with new wallpaper and paint:
Wallpapers today are elegant and gorgeous, unlike wallpapers of the past that curled easily or were almost impossible to remove. If you’re not sure about using wallpaper on all of the walls, put it on just one wall, then find an accent paint color that will make the room stand out. There are some unique tropical wallpapers and other bright floral wallpaper designs available right now that could be a great way to change the whole look of your favorite room in the house.
There are lots of ways that you can integrate green into your home’s decor this year. No matter how big or small your decorating budget is, it can add distinct color and vibrancy to the space that it may have been missing before!
Winter isn’t over yet and chances are, your heater has been working hard already these last couple of months. But did you know that your heater can only do so much in keeping you comfortable? Your thermostat plays a direct role in how your heating and cooling system operates. If you have an old thermostat, consider upgrading it. Here’s why:
Reason #1: The temperature in your home will be accurate.
Older thermostats are likely not efficient and usually, they have great variation between temperatures. This could mean that the rooms in your home could be unevenly heated on those cold days of winter. In addition, inefficient thermostats can also cause utility bills to increase, which means you’re paying more than you need to every month. By upgrading to a digital thermostat, you’ll be able to use digital display or push buttons that can help you set the temperature to exactly what you want. This ability to have an accurate set temperature translates to having a warmer, more comfortable home throughout.
Reason #2: Convenience.
Programmable thermostats will change how you interact with your home’s heating system. You won’t need to worry about manually adjusting your thermostat every time you want to make an adjustment. Instead, set the temperatures one time and let the thermostat do the rest of the work. For instance, if you program the thermostat to turn off or turn down the heat when you go to work, then have it set to come back on right before you get home, you’ll save yourself time.
Reason #3: Utilize smart technology.
Technology is always changing and it’s integrated into almost all parts of our daily lives. Your thermostats, heating system, and other appliances in your home aren’t any exception. If you choose to upgrade your thermostat to one that uses “smart technology”, you could connect it to your Internet and keep track of your energy usage. You could also set it up so you can program your thermostat while you’re away from the home and you can even access energy reports, which could help offer tips on how to minimize any negative impact you’re having on the environment.
There are a variety of smart thermostats on the market today for your home. You can contact your local heating and cooling supplier or make a trip to your nearest home improvement store to see what is out there. Research which one might work best for your specific space and soon you’ll be comfortable while saving money!