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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Avoid Contractor Scams

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.

Posted on March 10, 2017 at 12:23 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the top decorating color for 2017?

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!

 

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 11:26 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How New Thermostats Can Benefit Your Home

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!

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winter Gardening Tips

gardening1

The warm days of summer are long gone and the frost of winter is now part of our everyday routine. But just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean you need to give up on your gardening routines. Here are some helpful winter gardening tips that will help keep your garden growing all winter long.

Tip #1: Keep your plants for becoming frozen.
January and February are some of the coldest months of the year in the Pacific Northwest, so be sure to protect them from frost and frozen temperatures. If you have herbs that you’re growing, keep them undercover or near the house if they’re in containers. If you have grape vines or wisteria growing, be sure to prune them back. If you have other container plants, you can cover them with a frost cloth or other heat retentive blanket that will keep them from dying.

Tip #2: Grow plants that can easily endure the cold weather.
Lettuce, kale, chives, parsley, and cabbage can all withstand the cold days of winter quite well. Evergreen boxwood hedges, witch hazel, and winterberry are all easy to grow and withstand winter easily.  They also add greenery and color to an otherwise gray and sometimes bleak winter landscape.

Tip #3: Continue to plant.
As long as the ground is soft enough to dig a hole, you can still plant throughout the winter. Be sure to add mulch and compost, too. This will help keep root temperatures stable and the compost will help provide organic nutrients to the soil that are important to keep the plants growing well.

You don’t need to worry about maintaining a regular watering cycle, either. When the ground is not frozen and it’s dry, watering once a week is usually all that’s required. Maintaining a healthy garden and yard isn’t impossible in frigid temperatures. In fact, it’s a great way to stay busy, while getting outside and enjoying some brisk fresh air. Keeping your garden growing will keep your yard looking great and before you know it, it will be time to start thinking about all of the new growth that will happen once springtime rolls around!

Posted on January 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Child-Friendly Christmas Décor Projects

decorkd1

Decorating your home for the holidays can be a lot of fun, but decorating with children can make it even more magical. If you’re looking for some fun ways to get your home looking festive this year, put your creativity and your kids or grandkids to work. There are a variety of kid-friendly Christmas décor projects and here are some of my favorites.

#1: Do-it-yourself Picture Snow Globes
Memories captured in photos are such treasures, especially when the children get older. Creating a photo snow globe with your them can be a special keepsake item that you can use year after year. Grab a glass jar with a lid, scrapbook paper, a photograph that you want to use, some spray paint, Popsicle sticks, hot glue, and any other jar decorations that you want. Paint the lids whatever color you want and cut a piece of scrap paper to fit the inside of your jar to serve as a background. Fold the bottom part of the photo to serve as the base on which the photo stands. Then, use the popsicle stick to glue to the bottom back of the photo, then apply more glue to the bottom to stick it into place. Add white pompoms or spray paint white around the glass jar to make it look like snow. Decorate the outside of the jar however you want and soon you have a special snow globe.

#2: Personalized Gift Tags
Let you’re the children in your life do all the decorating for gifts this year and let them create personalized gift tags for each person on your list. You could print photos of the gift recipient on the tags, then let them decorate them however you want. You could also have them decorate tags with loved ones’ names on them and use them as Christmas tree décor.

#3: Gummy Snowflakes
Grab a box of toothpicks and your favorite colored gumdrops and create bright snowflakes! You could string them up and put them in a window, put them on the Christmas tree, or eat them as an after-school snack.

#4: Villages
Head to the craft store or the dollar store and look for inexpensive porcelain houses. Then, pick your favorite colors and let your kids paint them for a little village of brightly-colored homes. Make them even more fancy with decorative touches like glitter or feathers.

The magic of Christmas is in the air and spending quality time with family and friends at home during the season doing crafts can be a special memory-making time. I wish you much joy during the holiday season!

Posted on December 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,