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

Home Improvements That Add Value

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Thinking of listing your home for sale soon? Even if you’re not, you’re likely interested in what remodeling projects will reap the biggest returns when it does come time to sell your home.  Some renovations will add more value than others. Here are some home improvements that can add value to your home and make it look great in the meantime.

Improvement #1: An updated front door.
This is a pretty easy and inexpensive update and according to a 2014 report in Remodeling Magazine, you can add about 96% of the amount you spent to the value of your home. If you don’t need a brand new door, but you still want to update it, a fresh coat of paint will also help offer some payoff.

Improvement #2: An updated kitchen.
An updated kitchen can bring a great return. If you go to sell the house with an outdated kitchen, a potential buyer may come in and think that they need to redo it and overestimate how much it will cost when in fact, an average kitchen remodel is a lot less than a buyer might assume. And if you’re savvy when it comes to shopping and if you’re open to doing some of the work yourself, you can save even more money and still reap a good return later.

Improvement #3: Updated bathrooms.
Just like an updated kitchen, bathrooms can bring a good return when it comes time to sell the house. Be sure that the style ties into the rest of the home’s design. For example, if you live in an older home, you won’t want to do a contemporary/modern style bathroom.

Improvement #4: New windows.
If you live in a home that has old windows, there is a good chance that they’re leaky and inefficient. Replacing windows will not only add value to your home, but they’ll keep your home warmer/cooler throughout the year and you’ll likely see a decrease in your utility bills because less energy will be wasted.

When it comes to remodels or updates, remember to be aware of the specific flavor of your neighborhood. Sometimes, if you over-improve or over-remodel your home, it won’t provide as much of a return. If you have any questions about what updates would bring the best return for your specific home and neighborhood, I’m happy to help. Contact me today with any questions.

Source:
Mears, Teresa. “Which Home Remodeling Projects Are Worth Your Money?”
U.S. News & World Report. March 7, 2014. Accessed online September 20, 2016.
http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/03/06/which-home-remodeling-projects-are-worth-your-money

Posted on September 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest options for dining room lighting

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Your dining room is a gathering space – the perfect place to entertain guests and to relax with some good food and fun conversations. If you’re planning on updating your dining space and you need the perfect light fixture to help bring all of your interior design ideas together, there are a lot of great options out there to choose from. Whether it’s a grand chandelier or track lighting that add ambiance, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll want to pick a light fixture that not only provides enough light, but one that complements your overall style and is sized correctly for the room and its furniture. Here are some of the most popular light fixtures out there right now.

Option #1: Chandeliers.
If you have an elegant space that you want to add a touch of sophistication to, a chandelier is a great way to do that, while also adding an instant focal point to the room. Crystal chandeliers are incredibly popular right now, especially for homes that have traditional dining room spaces. Chandeliers with dangling crystals can really accent dark wood floors or trim and they also provide plenty of soft light.

Option #2: Wall sconces.
This type of light fixture is mounted directly on the walls of the home. If you already have enough light for general lighting, wall sconces can be used as an accent feature by installing them into wall corners. They can help create a cozy, more intimate feel to dining rooms, especially when combined with candles.

Option #3: Pendant lighting.
This type of lighting is very versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of décor preferences. Pendant lights hang from a single chain and let off light throughout the room. They can come in bright colors or light shades so you can contrast your décor with the light easily. If you prefer a more traditional style, there are chandelier pendant lights that illuminate the space with classic elegance.

Option #4: Track lighting.
Track lighting is very popular for homes that have modern, contemporary, or industrial design themes. This lighting is very bright and it’s easy to install, either being installed flush to the ceiling or dangling from chains. They hold a variety of light styles including spotlights, mini-lanterns, and much more.

No matter what style you prefer for your dining room, there is a light that will make the area warm and inviting. A stand out light can transform the whole room!

Posted on August 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Home

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Purchasing a “dream” home is something that people usually plan many years for. For some, it has been something they’ve envisioned since they were young children and buying a dream home is on their bucket list. Whether it’s a historic Craftsman-style home, a modern loft, or a country escape with acreage, there is a home out there that will fit your needs and line up with those dreams that you’ve had of choosing a home to live in for many years to come. So, when it comes time to start shopping for a home, here are some important factors to consider:

Factor #1: Price range
Did you see a 3,000 square foot home on the river and decide that it might be your dream home? Don’t get too ahead of yourself, because you’ll first need to figure out what price you are prequalified for. Once you know your exact budget, then you can start shopping and get excited about finding the perfect home!

Factor #2: Style
Most people that are looking to purchase a home have a pretty good idea of styles and designs that they do and do not like. For example, do you want separate rooms for everything or do you like open concept living? Think about what you want now, but also what style of living will fit your lifestyle five or 10 years down the road. When you’re browsing homes online or viewing them with your Realtor®, take note of home features that you must have or those that aren’t as big of a deal. It will make the process of finding your new house easier in the long run.

Factor #3: Age
Do you want a home that has older vintage charm or something that’s new, up to code and requires no work? There are benefits to both, so determine which one is right for you.

Factor #4: Location
Do you want to be away from the epicenter of things or do you want to immerse yourself in the hubbub of the city? Do you want to be close to public transportation or able to walk to restaurants or other businesses? What school district do you want to be in? Many people put schools first in their home search, but this could end up being an error in the long term scheme of things. If you compromise your home wish list just to be in a specific school district, you may end up disappointed later down the road. 

No matter what you’re looking for, finding the right house that fits your needs can be done! Contact me to help you start the necessary steps toward home ownership!

Posted on July 5, 2016 at 11:55 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,