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If your home’s doors or windows are old and outdated, they’re likely not energy efficient and could be wasting precious money each month due to leaking air in or out.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 | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tricks That Offer Good Return on Investment

What does your home look like from the outside? Curb appeal makes a big difference, especially when it comes to selling your home and enticing prospective buyers to look at it. If you don’t want to drop a lot of cash on things like expensive landscaping, there are some simple solutions that can bolster curb appeal in addition to offering a good return on investment.

#1: Paint the little things.
Painting your entire home can be expensive, so instead of investing in a whole home re-paint project, work on painting smaller things on the outside of your home, like the mailbox, the home’s trim, or porch hand rails. Potential buyers will notice the attention to detail and it can help make your space look fresh.

#2: Add a welcoming spot to the front of the home.
If your porch or patio in the front of your home is lacking a sitting area, adding some cozy chairs, a small bench with some decorative pillows, and/or a little table can create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for people walking or driving by. Not only does that, it allows people to imagine themselves sitting there someday enjoying their new home and neighborhood.

#3: Clean up the clutter.
Garbage bins, recycling containers, tools, or kid’s toys should all be kept out of sight from the front of the house. If you’re short on space and don’t have a place to put these, try arranging some large pots of flowers or shrubs around the items so the clutter is out of the line of vision for people looking at your house.

#4: Mow and edge the lawn.
Trim hedges, mow the lawn, and weed flower beds. Overgrown yards are almost always an eyesore and can have a real negative impact on curb appeal. It won’t cost you any money to keep up on yard maintenance if you do it yourself, but the time you put in will pay off when potential buyers notice the beautiful yard.

Adding curb appeal and making your home look great on the outside can be simple and affordable. When it comes time to list your property, you’ll increase the likelihood of having more showings. Need other tips on the appearance of your home before you’re ready to put it on the market? My two decades of experience as a Realtor® can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County.  I’m happy to help you start your adventure in buying or selling a home.

Posted on May 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 3 Ways To Make Your Home Look More Expensive

If you’re considering listing your home for sale, there are probably a lot of “to-do” items on your list to get everything ready to go on the market. When you go to sell your home, you’ll want to make sure you get the most that you can and that means you’ll need to make your house look great. A home that is well maintained and has great showing potential can help bring in more buyers and help you get the price that you want out of the home sale. So how do you make your home look more expensive? There are some great ways to do this.

#1: Paint.
Interior and exterior paint can make a huge difference. It gives your home a bit of a makeover and potential homebuyers often respond to a space that appears to be clean and fresh. Interior colors should be neutral, as more unusual colors like bright blue or dark purple could cause buyers to react negatively. Instead, ivory or gray could be a good choice because they are basically neutral and appear classy.

#2: De-clutter.
Your home should come across as a place of comfort and relaxation, but if it’s cluttered, it can distract people from seeing the true beauty and unique nuances that your home has to offer. In addition, rooms that are cluttered with extra items could make the space feel closed in and smaller, sometimes smaller than it actually is! As you think about moving, start going through closets and rooms and get rid of the extra “stuff” that has built up over time. Organize one area at a time and load up different bins with items you want to keep, donate, recycle, or throw away completely.

#3: New fixtures and appliances.
Updated fixtures and appliances makes your home stylish and desirable to potential homeowners because they know they won’t have to take care of replacing these items for many years down the road. Older fixtures could make the home appear outdated and if you have them replaced, it shows that you’re committed to keeping the home up with current trends. Newer appliances are also very appealing, because homeowners won’t have to worry about going out and buying something that fits the home and they will be able to rely on those appliances for a long time. This is a huge selling point and is well worth the investment.

If you’re looking for other ways to freshen up your home and update it before you plan on listing it, I’m glad to help you with what home repairs, updates, or remodels can yield the best return for you.  Give me a call today to discuss.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 1:26 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The dreaded inspection—jargon, issues, and “make or breaks”

If you’re buying or selling a home, the inspection process can be nerve-wracking for people. It often brings up questions or concerns that may be a little bit overwhelming at first. The inspection provides an overall evaluation of the home’s condition. Inspections can be complex, depending on the home and its condition. Every inspection provides a detailed look at all the working systems of a whole house. Then, depending on the home, there can be additional inspection processes that look at the sewer, oil tank, roof, or radon levels.  Doing an inspection should be written into your sales contract, so you can expect to have one from the get go.

When you’re getting an inspection, be sure to use a licensed inspector. These people need to complete continuing education courses and are experienced with inspecting a variety of different styles and homes of various ages. Your Realtor will give you advice on a recommended inspector or inspection company.

How the process works:
When a buyer gets an inspection done, the seller may not know what the results are for a couple of days. When the buyer gets the results, they will get a copy of the report and determine what they want to ask the seller to fix, if anything. Most often, the buyer has 10 days to get repair requests to the seller. The Realtor will help the buyer determine which “to-do” items are reasonable to ask for and what isn’t.

Once the seller gets the list, they are given some time to get quotes or bids on the items that need completion. Having an experienced Realtor to work with you during this process is important, as the back-and-forth process can create much dialogue. It is critical that everyone understands each other and having an agent you trust here can help guide you along through some of the confusing details. Many times, the inspection process requires negotiation and a Realtor can be an asset in this part.

As a seller, this time can be nerve-wracking, as you are waiting to get quotes done and wondering what the result will be! Your Realtor will help you decipher the requests that come in, determine what is customary, and negotiate on your behalf. Again, your Realtor will play an important role in helping you get through the many hoops that can sometimes happen with the inspection process.

Buying and selling a home requires many different steps and it’s okay to have a lot of questions along the way. The inspection process can be very involved, and I am happy to sit down and talk with you about it if you need additional clarification.

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Things That Immediately Increase Your Home’s Value

Homeowners oftentimes ask me what types of home renovations or improvements they should complete to help increase their home’s value, especially if they’re considering putting their home on the market soon. There are a variety of things that can help update your home and if you do it right, they can bring in good returns when it comes time to sell the home. It’s important to note that some home remodeling or home improvement projects will add more value than others. Here are four things that can help increase your home’s value right away.

#1:  Updated bathrooms.
A freshly updated bathroom can bring in great returns when it comes time to sell your house. You don’t need to do a full remodel, either. Simple updates like new sinks and toilets or updated flooring can be easy and inexpensive ways to increase value.

#2: Updated kitchen.
A fully remodeled or updated kitchen is one of the best things you can do to add value to your home. New cabinets, flooring, and countertops make all the difference when it comes to selling your home. If you decide to list the home without doing any updates or repairs to the kitchen, it’s common for prospective buyers to think they must remodel the kitchen space completely from scratch, overestimating how much a remodel will be.  A kitchen remodel may be less than a buyer might think, so it’s great to get this part done so you can yield the returns when it comes time to sell.

#3: Exterior maintenance.
New exterior paint can do wonders for curb appeal! In addition, stay on top of other exterior maintenance to make sure it’s free from dry rot or other issues that could cause a potential buyer to worry. Make sure your roof is cleaned regularly and that a roofing professional checks it for leaks or missing shingles, but do not pressure wash it. If these aren’t repaired and come up during an inspection, it could mean an expensive repair or a price reduction in your home, so it’s better to get things maintained and taken care of before the house goes on the market.

#4: Updated color palette.
Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to create a relaxing ambiance inside your home? Freshen up the paint in your home to make sure it is updated to some currently popular colors that could be appealing to a broad audience. Fresh paint goes a long way. You’ll not only make the space feel brighter and cleaner, but painting with an updated color palette will give prospective buyers the opportunity to better envision themselves living in the space.

Not sure where to start when it comes to picking reliable companies or contractors to help you with your home maintenance or home remodeling projects? I am happy to give you some names of local contractors that I work with regularly and I’m also glad to visit your home and help you decide which to-do items would be the best bang for your buck.

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the other agent looking for in a potential buyer/seller?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Posted on May 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Select A Realtor

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.

Posted on May 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortgage Financials: Deciphering the Details

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.

Posted on April 24, 2017 at 4:57 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Steps to the Mortgage Process

 

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!

Posted on April 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home

5 Things That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

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.

Posted on March 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,