Story of a Client’s Housing Adventure

This is the story of a family of four: Dad works in Portland, Mom works in Camas, and their two kids are in elementary and middle school. This family had lived in their 1966 home for 14 years and were ready for a change— they wanted more space, new features, and a change of schools.  But like many of us, they had to sell to buy, even though their equity position was a good one.  With the tight market of 2017 (predicted to be the same in 2018), they knew they might not be able to “step across” from one home to the other.

Their first job was to get their current house ready to put on the market. This included yard cleanup, carpet stretching, some minor paint touchup, and some other small things.  These to-do items were not expensive, but they were important to make the home look “crisper” and more appealing to a buyer.  In working with me on home value, we discovered the previous listing had overstated the square footage by several hundred square feet.  We knew the real square footage from a more recent refinance appraisal, so we used that to determine value.  Checking this is an important part of the buying process!

In mid-May, we launched the home on the market and had lots of showings with five offers in just a few days.  This can be quite overwhelming.  With my help, we dealt with all the complexity of evaluating these offers and selected one to accept.  Meanwhile, another buyer who just missed out, decided to write a backup offer just in case something happened with the first accepted buyer.

Now, came time for the home inspection. The inspector said there were “sink holes” in the crawlspace! So, the buyer backed out.  Now what?  Something as serious as this needed to be investigated.  We just don’t have “sink holes” in Clark County, so we believed there was another explanation.  Turns out, when this house was built in the mid-60’s several large trees were cut down and the stumps were not removed.  As they rotted over time, what was left was a hole – one particularly large one even had the trenches from large roots.  We worked with the backup buyer who understand the issue, got the holes filled in with gravel, and then we closed in late June.

Next came the question of where to move. Nothing had turned up in the target location for the next home, so these folks signed up for the adventure of moving temporarily into a rental.  They did this once we were through home inspection with the backup buyer, so they would have time to overlap and move over several weeks.  There are several places around town that will do leases shorter than a year.  Although the rental was smaller, they used the garage for storage of their many boxes. Now, finding the new house became our top priority.

It took a couple of months and we looked at many properties as they came onto the market.  Eventually we found one, got our offer accepted and negotiated home inspection items including unpermitted square footage.  The happy ending is that this family moved into their new place by the end of September, just in time for school to start and before the holidays!

Hopefully you will find this a positive story.  Yes, it took commitment on their part to go through the ups and downs of buying, selling, and moving into the rental, but in the end, this family is “living the dream” and everyone is excited about their new future in their new home.

Thank you to these special clients for letting me share their story! Where does your new home story begin? Contact me today for information on more information on what it will take to embark on your journey in buying or selling a home.

Posted on January 15, 2018 at 7:30 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is a title company’s role in my purchase/sale?

If you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, chances are, you’ve run into some questions along the way. This is one of the many reasons why your Realtor® plays a valuable role each step of the way. One of your questions may have been what role the title company will play in your purchase or sale.  In Clark County, escrow and title services are completed through the same company, but each department has different roles and tasks. Here is some helpful information that can help clarify what the title company does as well as what the differences are between escrow and title.

Title:
At the time your property is listed, thorough agents will request a preliminary title report. This will show loans, taxes (property and excise), certain kinds of personal debt (tax liens/back child support), which must be paid when the sale is completed. Of course, the total of these should be less than the purchase price of the home.

In addition, easements, road maintenance agreements, HOA information, and CC&R’s will also be on the report. These are examples of items that will stick with the property. Reading the title report will allow your Realtor® to know about any trouble spots that come with the property before closing happens. Once there is an accepted offer, the buyer and the lender are added to supplemental reports.

Escrow:
Escrow includes collecting all necessary documentation to allow the property to transfer over to the new owner. Escrow also will pay off underlying encumbrances (ie. Liens on the property), will place new encumbrances, and make the property transfer with the County. The escrow team will work up the costs for both seller and buyer, including pro-rated property taxes, pro-rated HOA dues, costs from the buyer’s lender, and closing utility bills that could become liens on the property (water and sewer).

While each real estate transaction is different, there are still some basic action items that need to happen with each one. The title and escrow company play a crucial role in the closing process. I will help walk you through the various steps to make sure you understand what you need to do.

We’re officially into 2018 now and it’s a great time to buy or sell your home. Contact me today to explore how to get the ball rolling.

Posted on January 2, 2018 at 11:22 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

Key items before closing on a home

The process of buying or selling a home is very detailed and requires a lot of moving parts. Once the end is in sight, you’ll need to prep for closing day. Planning for closing day can help make things run a little bit smoother. So whether you’re a buyer or a seller, here are some important must-knows on what you’ll need to have in place for closing day.

For the seller:

  • Repairs will need to be done and receipts obtained
    • Before closing can happen, all repairs that were requested during the selling process will need to be complete. Once everything has been done, be sure that all of that is documented well and that you have all receipts readily available.
  • Be ready for a buyer walkthrough
    • Once repairs have been completed, the buyer will likely want to do a walkthrough to make sure everything looks in order.
  • Arrange for your utilities to turn off
    • Call your utility companies, cable/Internet company, and any other services that will need to be turned off and transferred to your new residence. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t cancel your homeowner’s insurance on your current address until the final sale of the home has been recorded.
  • Gather all brochures, keys, garage door openers, etc.
    • If you have collected brochures/manuals on specific appliances in the home, or you have other important documents that need to be left for the new homeowner, make sure you have those readily available. In addition, you’ll need to leave them the keys to the home, mailbox, and any garage door openers you have.
  • Sign documents
    • This is the biggest step that transfers ownership and gets the process moving toward completion! It can happen several days before the “closing date.”

For the buyer:

  • Obtain receipts for completed repair work
    • If repairs were done in the home you’re purchasing, make sure you get all of the receipts and warranties associated with the work that was done. Keep these in your records in case you need to refer to them later or in case something goes wrong with the repair down the road.
  • Do a walkthrough
    • This is your chance to make sure that the repairs were done right and that things are good to go so you can move forward with signing closing papers.
  • Set up utilities
    • Call your utility company and schedule a time when you want water/electricity to come on. While you’re doing this, schedule a time for Internet/cable service to be hooked up, or any other services that you will need ready to go when you first move in.
  • Sign any last minute lender information
    • This is an important step! You will need to sign a closing disclosure that needs to be acknowledged to start a 3-day waiting period before you can sign final closing documents.
  • Sign documents at escrow
    • Here, you’ll sign papers that allow you to complete the home buying process. After the sale is recorded, you’ll get keys to your home and you’ll be able to start moving in!

If you’re confused about which step comes next, don’t worry! I will be there to walk you through the process. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, contact me today for information on how I can help.

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

When should you refinance?

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If you have lived in your home for a while and you’re considering completing a refinance, you likely have some questions as to when or if it’s the right time to do so. Refinancing is a big decision, as it requires a lot of details and time, but it can have some great benefits to it once it’s all said and done. When deciding whether or not you want to refinance, one of the key questions is to ask yourself how long you plan on being in the home. If you intend on staying in the home for several years, a refinance could be a great choice, as you’ll likely recoup the closing costs over your time spent there. For those that are looking to move in a couple of years, refinancing might not make as much sense.

Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant at HomeStreet Bank in Vancouver provides some great reasons to take into consideration on when a refinance might make sense for you.

Reason#1: Reduction in interest rate
Refinancing to lower your interest rate and payment is one of the main reasons why people choose to refinance. Hicks says, “There are still many people out there that have a much higher interest rate on their home loan than they should considering the current market. Refinancing could very well favor a lower interest rate or reduced monthly payment that reduces a person’s overall outgoing monthly debt.”

Reason #2: Reduction in loan term
If you want to pay off your loan faster, refinancing to significantly lower your loan term could be a fantastic idea. In most situations for example, if a borrower wants to refinance from a 30-year fixed mortgage to a 15-year fixed, the borrower will save a substantial amount of money in interest every year.

Reason #3: Cashout.
If you have been in your home for a while and it has gained significant equity, many homeowners choose to refinance and take cash out of the equity. Hicks says, “Some people do this to consolidate liabilities, make home improvements, or use the cash to invest in additional real estate. The ultimate goal here is to have the cash you are taking out work toward future financial freedom.”

Reason #4: Change loan programs.
If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), it can be very helpful to refinance to a fixed rate loan. Hicks shares, “ARMs carry the risk of having their interest rate increase significantly. When this happens, this can cause severe financial burden on a person’s finances.”

There are many reasons to consider a refinance, but each homeowner’s situation is different. What may work for one, may not work for another. Sit down and look closely at your home loan and what is left to be paid back and consider whether a refinance is right for you.

Posted on December 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Important Tips for Winter Moves

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Winter is on the horizon and that means the temperatures will be steadily dropping. Because of that, it might not be the ideal time to move, but moving during the winter months can actually have some benefits to it. Moving service companies are not as busy, so that means you might see more flexibility in schedules and possibly even lower rates for different types of services. However, moving in the winter comes with a few challenges –especially when it comes to inclement weather, so here are some helpful tips to help you complete a smooth move to your new home.

Tip #1: Start moving early in the day.
Winter days are short, so that means you have less daylight to work with. If you’re moving during the winter, take advantage of the daytime hours and get started early in the morning. Pack well the night before and then plan on getting ready to move your items first thing in the morning so you can be done before it gets too dark outside. Moving in the dark can pose some safety risks, simply because you cannot see as well. Moving early in the day will also mean you’ll have slightly warmer temperatures, which will make it more comfortable.

Tip #2: Keep your walkways clear.
Moving is physically demanding, so the last thing you want to worry about is falling and injuring yourself on a slippery driveway or walkway while you’re carrying a heavy box of fragile valuables. Be sure that all of your entryways and exit points are clear of ice, snow, or any other obstacles that could threaten the safety of you or the people that are helping you move.

Tip #3: Layer up.
Even though you’re going to be physically active during your move, you should still dress with a couple of layers. You will need to stay warm, but wearing a bulky coat could get in the way. Instead, dress in a few layers of clothing. That way you’ll not only keep big, bulky clothing out of the way while you’re lifting boxes, but if you get warm, you can take off a layer or two to stay comfortable.

Tip #4: Keep supplies handy.
If you know you have a winter move coming up, be sure to keep your winter supplies handy, rather than packing them away in one of the many boxes you have piling up. Keep your gloves, hats, ice scrapers, and any other winter supplies that you think you might need in a place that is easy to get to.

Moving during the coldest part of the year doesn’t have to be completely miserable. With a little planning, your winter move can go smoothly and before you know it, you’ll be ready to settle into the warmth of your new home!

Posted on November 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , ,

Reasons Why Fall Is a Good Time to Buy A House

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If you’ve been contemplating buying a new home, autumn is a good time to get out there and start shopping. Spring and summer are often busiest times to buy and sell a home, but fall is a great time to start house hunting for the perfect new house. Here are some reasons why autumn is a great time to start looking for a home.

Reason #1: The holidays are coming.
Before you know it, the holidays will be here in full swing. There will be Thanksgiving dinners to plan and prepare for, Christmas shopping to start, and holiday parties to attend. For some sellers, the upcoming holidays mean they are motivated to get the house sold so they can be out of their house before Thanksgiving and Christmas come rushing in. For home buyers, using this “pre-holiday” window of time could be an advantage, where you may be able to negotiate a deal and close quickly.

Reason #2: Home sellers are tired.
People who have had their homes on the market through the summer know that they may be losing their window of time to sell. Generally, sellers need to sell their home and if they’ve been sitting on the home sale for long, they could be more willing to negotiate, allowing you to get the home for the price you want. The longer the home sits on the market, the more room you have to negotiate.

Reason #3: Tax credits are available.
Every year, tax credits are available and closing on a new home by the end of the year could equal some great tax deductions. Some of these may include mortgage interest, property tax, or closing costs, which could counter balance your taxable earnings.

Even though the inventory of homes has been on the low side all year, there are still houses on the market right now. So if you’re interested in getting out there to find your new dream home, contact me for information! Still have questions on how to get started? I’ll help you work through all the details and before you know it, you’ll be settled into your new home.

Posted on October 2, 2016 at 11:14 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,