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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Home Buying Mistakes To Avoid

There are many facets of buying a home and the process can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, buying a home is very exciting and if you avoid various home buying mistakes, it will make your home ownership process one that is rewarding for many years to come. I recommend that home buyers avoid these three common mistakes when it comes to purchasing a house.

#1: Not working with a buyer’s agent.
A knowledgeable Realtor can help provide advice that fits your specific situation. An experienced buyer’s agent has worked with hundreds of different home buyers and they can help you understand what’s happening each step of the way. You’ll also be able to ask questions that may come up and your agent will also help you plan for closing costs and other costs that may arise. In addition, a buyer’s agent will help you know if a home is worth the price, what its resale value might be, and they will be your advocate when it comes to negotiations. When it comes to buying a home, you want someone on your side, and a qualified Realtor will be there the whole time.

#2: Not getting pre-approved.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage serves dual purposes: it shows sellers that you’re serious and it also gives you a realistic idea of how much you can afford for a home. Work with a lender that you trust and gather up all relevant financial documents like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. Your lender will work with you to get the information needed to provide an accurate pre-approval letter. Then, you can start shopping for homes within your budget.

#3: Not getting an inspection by a credentialed inspector.
A credentialed inspector will help alert you to any potential problems that the home may have such as faulty wiring, plumbing leaks, or structural issues. A layperson generally wouldn’t be able to spot these things, so when it comes to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, it’s worth it to pitch in a little bit extra to pay for a qualified and experienced inspector that holds proper credentials. Skipping that step could be costly, and you may end up paying for it later when you discover something major is wrong with the home.

If you’ve decided that you’re ready to buy a home this autumn, contact me today to help you get the ball rolling!

 

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gardner Report 2017

We continue to hear that the housing market is unbalanced—that there are more buyers than sellers.  There is no single reason for the situation we are in today. Rather, the situation has developed this way because of several combined factors that suggest that the market will not return to equilibrium any time soon. Although this varies widely by location and price range, here are some reasons that this might be happening.

Reason #1: Demographics.
The first reason for the shortfall is purely demographic. As “Boomers” age, they are not following the trends of previous generations. Many are staying in the workforce far longer than their predecessors, and because of their postponed retirement, they don’t feel compelled to downsize their living situation. In fact, almost two-thirds of Boomers plan to age in place and do not plan to move even after retirement. Without this anticipated supply of homes from downsizing Boomers, there aren’t enough homes for move-up buyers. This limits the supply of homes for first-time buyers.

Reason #2: We don’t move as often as we used to.
As an overall nation, people aren’t moving as often. After experts have analyzed mobility, it’s clear that people aren’t required to relocate as frequently for work that matches their skillset.  Because there has been a drop in geographic-specific jobs, are simply moving with less frequency.

Reason #3: Builders aren’t building as many homes.
Many builders are not building as many homes as they were in the past, because of three main factors: land supply/regulation, labor, and materials. The costs related to building a home have risen rapidly since the Great Recession, and this is keeping many builders from building to their potential. In addition, to justify the additional costs, many of the homes that are being built are larger and more expensive, which makes it difficult for many first-time home buyers that cannot afford the price of a newly constructed home.

So, what should you do in this kind of market?  My advice is to focus on what works for your specific needs and if you want to explore what your options are, give me a call. I’m always up for a discussion about which approach might be right for you.

**Content an excerpt from blog posted 8/2017 by Mathew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

Posted on October 2, 2017 at 11:02 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Should I list my house in the fall?

Now that school’s started, you might be thinking, is this a good time to list my house for sale? Autumn brings a new rhythm — the busy summer has passed and people are getting back into their day to day routines. Here are some great reasons why the Fall season is a good time to sell.

#1: Demand.
Although the market slows a bit after school is back in session, homes are still selling quickly because inventory is still low. Especially under the $450,000 price point, and potential buyers during the Fall are typically more serious about making their purchase decision. Nationwide, buyer demands strong too, according to a recent report out of the National Association of Realtors.

#2: The weather is still cooperating.
For the most part, autumn can be a good time to move because the heat of the summer has passed and the torrential downpours haven’t begun yet. No one wants to move when it’s blazing hot or when it’s snowing! Of course, the Pacific Northwest does get its fair share of cloudy and rainy days, but for the most part, autumn weather is cooperative.

 #3: It’s a great time to make your next step up.
Because inventory is still low, it’s likely that your home will sell quickly. If you’re looking to make a next step up in the home buying process by buying a bigger house, now is a great time to consider making the jump. Experts predict that home prices will continue to rise within the next year, so if you wait, your dream home may increase to a price that is out of reach.

Home shopping during the fall can be great! Changing leaves make for great natural curb appeal – homes are looking cozy and ready for the upcoming chilly weather. If the time has come for you to get your home listed, contact me today to get the ball rolling!

Posted on September 19, 2017 at 3:34 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Mortgage Insurance–what am I insured against?

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new home, on your bank paperwork, you may have noticed something called “mortgage insurance.” Not sure what it is? There are several different types of insurance that homeowners should be familiar with. Here, I will explain the basics.

Title insurance:
Title insurance from the seller comes from the title company. It protects home owners and lenders from damage or property loss that may happen because of liens or other defects in the title to the property. Each title insurance policy is subject to specific terms, exclusions, and conditions.

Homeowner’s insurance:
Homeowner’s insurance/hazard insurance/fire insurance is a policy issued from an insurance company and it protects your property as well as the contents and possessions inside. It also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.  At closing, homeowners will pay for the first year’s policy in full.

Mortgage insurance:
This type of insurance is not a benefit to a homebuyer. When a lender provides a loan and the buyer puts less than 20% down on the purchase, the lender takes a bigger risk. If the buyer ends up defaulting on the loan and they don’t have much “skin” in the game, it’s possible that the lender won’t cover their loan amount when it comes time to liquidate the property. This cost can be paid within your monthly mortgage payment or up front and it will cover the lender’s loss if something were to happen. For some types of loans, particularly FHA loans, the premium will last for the life of the loan, even though your equity position might get you above the 20% mark. Conventional financing will typically have a provision for mortgage insurance that can be removed once the homeowner has 20% equity in the home.

Buying a home requires many different steps and there is a lot of research that is required. The insurance process can be complex and sometimes confusing, especially if you haven’t gone through the home buying process before, and that’s one of the many reasons why it is important to work with a well-qualified, experienced, hands-on Realtor. If you have questions about it, I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about any questions you may have!

Posted on September 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s going on with my inspection?

The inspection process: generally speaking, this is an overall evaluation of a home’s condition.  If you’re not clear on how the process works, keep reading and I’ll lay out the general guidelines of what happens.

When the buyer gets the inspection done, the seller might not know what the results are for a few days. Once the buyer gets the results of the inspection, they need to get a copy of the report, digest it, and determine what they want the seller to fix, if anything. Most of the time, the buyer has 10 days to get any repair requests to the seller. In order to expedite things, the agent should help the buyer determine what is reasonable and what’s not.

Once the repair list is drafted, the seller has time to look at it and digest what’s on it. They can clarify what’s being asked for and they’re given some time to get bids and determine what items they should fix. An agent to help with this part of the process is crucial. An experienced agent will help provide information on what buyers generally ask for and what could be determined as “too much” or “over the top.” The seller will then respond and then the buyer will decide if they will accept this response.

The back-and-forth process can create a lot of dialogue and it’s very important that everyone understands each other. Whether it’s credits to the buyer or items that need to be completed before closing to meet buyer bank requirements, your agent has valuable experience in the negotiation process here. Take advantage of this experience and rely on your agent to help guide you along.

Buying and selling a home is full of many different steps and details. The inspection process can be complex, so if you have more questions about it, I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about it.

Posted on August 15, 2017 at 4:07 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reduced commission vs full rate services

If you’re thinking about selling your home, you have a lot of different factors to consider. You’re thinking about where you’ll move and what it will cost, and finding a qualified Realtor is one of the biggest decisions. If one of your questions involves finding out more information regarding reduced commission versus full rate services, here I’ll cover what the three basic levels of fees and services include.

#1: Very Discounted Services: This will include access to the MLS only. The seller will input all information and will set the buyer’s agent fee. The seller pays for marketing and will negotiate elements of the contract. This can work for some situations, but being an unrepresented seller in today’s complex market can be risky and oftentimes results in a lower net price. Most buyers will have representation, so the fee you save is really only half of the full real estate fee.

#2: Cut-rate fees: This will again only save half of the real estate fee, as buyers are usually represented by an agent. With full service representation, you usually get more experienced and knowledgeable agents to work with you. This is the “secret sauce” that can save you big time in the end – especially in the areas of price negotiation, inspection negotiation, and other timing issues that can derail the overall transaction.

#3: Full-service: When using a full-service Realtor, you’ll get a fully developed and proven marketing plan. The Realtor will additionally help you develop a pricing strategy that will help get your home sold in a timely way. You’ll work together to address issues upfront that could cause a buyer to pass by your home. The key here is knowledge, knowledge, knowledge! An experienced Realtor has been part of numerous, varied transactions that can help benefit you throughout the process so you can get the best price for your home with the quickest closing date and the least hassle.

If you have decided that it’s time to make the jump to sell your home, now is a great time to do that. The information around fees can be a complex topic to consider, so if you have additional questions, I am happy to sit down and talk with you about what could work for you and your specific situation.

Posted on July 31, 2017 at 3:45 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Take a break from buying and selling & enjoy some local summer activities!

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is amazing. The days are longer and warmer and the rain is gone so you can get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re in the midst of buying or selling a home and you feel like you’re overwhelmed with the details, don’t forget to take time for yourself and enjoy the beauty that Washington has to offer. Here are some great tips on activities that you can participate in locally this summer.

#1: Summer reading program through Fort Vancouver Library.
Kids, teens, and adults alike can sign up for the summer reading program through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. Log days that you’ve read and you can earn rewards and prizes with the free program. The best part: it keeps your reading skills sharp throughout the summer.

#2: Summer concerts and movies in the park.
Every year, the City of Vancouver puts on a summer concert series in Esther Short Park. Each concert is free and family friendly. Enjoy a variety of talented local artists, including Vancouver Pops Orchestra, and enjoy food from local vendors, too. The city also puts on Friday night movie nights in parks around Vancouver in July.

#3: Dive in!
Jump in and cool off! Klineline Pond is a great spot to cool off and enjoy the warm summer weather. The pond is located in a large park setting with large water features/fountains for the little ones to run around and cool off in, too. Not to mention, there is a playground, plenty of picnic tables, and lots of green space to walk. If you want to stay indoors to swim, the pools at Jim Parsley Community Center, Propstra Aquatic Center, and Firstenburg Community Center are great places to swim.

#4: Hike or camp!
Living in the Northwest means that there are many beautiful hikes and walking trails. Hike Mount St. Helens, take a drive out through the Columbia Gorge and hike the Multnomah Falls, or enjoy some family time by setting up a tent and a mini-campground in your backyard for one night.

No matter what you decide to do this summer, take time to relax and enjoy the beautiful area we live in!

Posted on July 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home, Vancouver History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Selling your home? Should you price low or high: what’s at risk?

If you’ve determined that now is the right time to sell your home, congratulations!

You are entering into a ‘seller’s market’— this means that there are more buyers in the marketplace than sellers and it’s a great time to sell.  One of the most crucial keys to selling quickly with a maximum return is to establish the RIGHT price. You want to maximize your return but set a price from the start to position your home to sell in a reasonable timeframe and let you get on with your next adventure.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU PRICE TOO HIGH?

There are several major risks if you price your home too high.  First, your target buyer may not find your home online or see your property because the price is out of their price range.  In addition, buyers who are shopping in a higher price range will be comparing your home with others and priced too high, you will not compete, actually making the competition look like a better buy.  Homes priced just 10% high reduce the number of buyers by 30%.  The end result is that your home could sit on the market for a longer period of time which means your ownership costs continue and most importantly you can’t “move on.”

HOW CAN WE SELL YOUR HOME AT THE RIGHT PRICE?

Call me! I will do research on what the market conditions are in your neighborhood, taking into consideration your home’s features, age, location, and updates/remodeling you have done.   Then we’ll sit down and talk about your specific goals and needs, then set a price and terms of sale that fit those goals and needs.  We’ll develop a marketing plan specific for your house and price range that targets the right kind of buyers.  During the time you are FOR SALE, I’ll be sure we get input from buyers and their agents to make sure we know how they see our condition and price.  This allows us to make sure we do what we can to make your property more attractive to buyers.  All the while, we will keep aware of things happening in the local market and that might affect how your home sells.

Each home and each client has a unique story.  Whether you’re moving from a condo to a house, moving from acreage to the downtown core, I can work with you in that journey.

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Client Story: The Strickland Family

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. **

Posted on June 5, 2017 at 4:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,