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.
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.
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!
Vancouver is a wonderful city and a great place to put down your roots. Not only is it close to the hubbub of its neighboring city Portland, but it has its own unique flavor that makes it appealing to people of all ages and walks of life. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider moving to Vancouver.
Reason #1: Vancouver is paradise for outdoor lovers.
Living in the Pacific Northwest means you’re surrounded by greenery and rugged beauty. You’re close to the beach, the mountains, and hundreds of forested areas. Nature lovers enjoy exploring the many walking trails, hiking areas, and parks that Vancouver and the surrounding areas have to offer. For a day trip, travel through the Columbia Gorge for some breathtaking scenery that is simply unlike anywhere in the world, or visit one of the many locally owned and operated breweries, bakeries, or wineries that have become popular in the past several years.
Reason #2: Vancouver offers lots of events and activities.
If you’re someone that enjoys attending events around town and meeting new people, Vancouver has some fun events that happen seasonally throughout the year. Bundle up in December and check out the Christmas ships that travel down the Columbia River. Once the springtime weather arrives, you can take a short drive up to Woodland and experience the amazing tulip fields at the Woodland Tulip Festival. In the summer, downtown Vancouver is busy with movies and concerts at Esther Short Park as well as the local Farmers Market that hosts more than 200 local farmers and vendors. In the fall, Bi-Zi Farms or Joe’s Place offer fun pumpkin patches and hay rides.
Reason #3: The restaurant scene is growing.
Vancouver’s restaurant scene is starting to catch up with Portland’s outstanding food scene. Whether it’s locally owned wood-fired culinary sensations at Lapellah, fresh-made cookies and desserts at Treat or Bleu Door Bakery, or amazing tapas at The Grocery Cocktail & Social, food lovers are sure to find new restaurants that will delight their palate.
Vancouver is a fantastic place to live, giving you the smaller town feel while at the same time allowing you access to everything that you need and want. If you’re thinking about moving to Vancouver, call me today and I am happy to talk to you about the housing market here and answer any other questions you have about the area.
A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is a legal entity that is created to maintain residential communities. They have the authority to enforce restrictions and are commonly put in place in condo communities, townhomes, and other single-family housing developments.
Each HOA ranges in what they do and they are priced accordingly. Some neighborhoods will have CC & R’s (covenants, codes, and restrictions), but not an HOA (i.e. no one to enforce them). Some HOAs are run by the homeowners themselves and some are run by the homeowners with a third party management company that oversees collecting dues, handling parks and walking trails in the area, etc.
Benefit #1: Neighborhoods look great.
Homes that are in an HOA must meet the standards that are set by the association or else they could face a fine. So, you’re less likely to see unkempt yards, unappealing exterior house colors, broken down cars, or clutter outside of the home.
Benefit #2: Low maintenance.
It is common for HOAs to provide services such as lawn care and trash removal, which means you have less to maintain.
Benefit #3: Association management.
Tired of hearing your neighbor’s dog bark at all hours of the day or night? You can go straight to homeowner’s association to have them deal with the issue instead of confronting your neighbor directly to settle a dispute.
Benefit #4: Amenities.
Not all HOAs provide recreational amenities, but many do. Some of these may include a community center, swimming pool, playing fields, or sport courts.
Disadvantage #1: Fees, fees, fees.
HOAs aren’t free. They require monthly dues that are over and above the cost of your mortgage. So, when you’re out shopping for homes, make sure that you factor in the HOA fees into your monthly budget so you can be sure you can afford them. If you get behind on your HOA fees, there could be serious consequences, including foreclosing on your home.
Disadvantage #2: No casual rule-breaking allowed.
Don’t expect to get away with much if you live in a place with an HOA. Many times, they will restrict extra vehicles parking in your driveway, and sometimes trailers or RVs. In addition, if you operate a home business out of your home, you may need to check with the HOA to make sure that is ok. Even renting out a room of your home could be frowned upon.
Living in a community with an HOA is a personal decision – it isn’t right for every individual or family. Some people prefer to live in more of an independent community, so you should first do some research on what neighborhoods might best fit your needs. Want more information on HOAs? I’m happy to discuss them with you to figure out living in a community with one is right for you.
A “flipped” home is one that has been purchased, renovated or remodeled, and is now listed for sale for a higher price than what it was initially purchased for. Most often, these homes are bought by investors that are able to buy the home for a good price (often below market value), fix it up, and sell it for a profit If you feel that buying a flipped home is a good option for your family’s needs, there are a few key points that you should consider.
Tip #1: Research the previous condition of the home.
If possible, find out what the condition was of the flipped home before it was purchased and renovated. Flipped homes are often purchased as bank owned properties, which usually means they were vacant for a time, which sometimes means there are some issues that need to be tackled upon purchase. If you can find out who the investor was or what company flipped the home, you’ll be able to determine if the quality of workmanship is good. Find out if this is their first home that has been flipped and/or what type of materials they generally use in their homes so you know what you’re getting into. Your Realtor will have experience with flip companies and can give you information as to their reputation.
Tip #2: Consider your financing.
If you’re considering buying a flipped home, talk to your mortgage representative beforehand. Sometimes, lenders and certain types of loans require that a flipped home be owned for a certain amount of time before they will lend money to a buyer. If you have specific questions about what loans you qualify for, a mortgage professional can help you get that squared away before you fall in love with a home.
Tip #3: Check for permits and get an inspection.
Many times, renovations on a home require permits or certificates of compliance. Do your research and see if the flipped home has permits on file and when they were obtained. Again, your Realtor can help you check into this.
In addition, any time you buy a home, it’s wise to get an inspection. It’s very important to get an inspection on a flipped home, as the inspector will be able to point out any defects or problems with the home, which can save you lots of money and frustration later down the road.
Purchasing a flipped home can be a great purchase for a buyer. But, as with any big purchase you’re about to make, it requires a little research. Ask those important questions and talk to your Realtor as well as your mortgage professional.
Buying a home is an incredibly exciting time! It also involves a lot of details and it can be a little overwhelming at times – especially if this is your first time buying a house! To make things a little easier, here are some tips and information that you should keep in mind when it comes to making one of the biggest purchases in your lifetime.
#1: Don't change your financial position.
When you’re buying a home, it’s important to keep your financial position steady. Don’t quit your job and try to find something new. Also, it’s not a great time to become self-employed, where your income could become unstable. In addition, be sure that you keep the money that you have set aside for closing costs in a place where it will not be spent. Wait to make big financial changes after you have closed on the home and have moved in.
#2: Don't change your credit position.
Having good credit is a big part of securing your loan and moving into the final stages of closing. Don’t buy a car, truck, furniture, boat, or motorcycle during the process of buying a home and be careful that you don’t max out your credit cards, apply for new ones, or fall behind in your payments on cards that you already have open. Don’t be lured into those “90 days same as cash” deals, either. That will show up on your credit report as well. Making these types of mistakes can cost you time and could be detrimental to the overall process of buying a home.
#3: Don't change your bank accounts.
This may not sound like a big deal, but changing your bank accounts or making large deposits could throw a kink in things. Before you do this, check with your loan officer.
#4: Be ready to provide a lot of information.
Get ready to provide a lot of personal paperwork and have any forms completed in a very specific timeframe. Federal guidelines have changed a bit and there are new deadlines that have to be strictly adhered to. Don’t worry, your loan officer and your Realtor will walk you through every step so you know exactly what’s needed and at what time.
#5: And of course, be honest and open.
Don’t omit debts or liabilities from your loan application. Now is the time to be very clear, not withholding facts that could help expedite the loan process.
Most importantly, try not to stress. It’s normal to be overwhelmed at points in the process and feel doubt how things are going. So, when in doubt, call your Realtor or loan officer, but try not to blame us for the rules – we didn’t make them up! We are glad to help you through the many steps and make sure you come away from this happy and excited to be in your new home!
Tips Provided by Nancy Johns, Blog Written by Brooke Strickland (brookestrickland.org)
My next series of blog posts will cover some great ways to enhance your outdoor space. With the days getting longer and warmer, spending time outside is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and relax a little! Summer is coming…is your outside space ready to go?
- Lush Lawns: The lawn is a huge part of an enjoyable yard. It will provide a great space for all of your summer fun! There are lots of lawn games out there that will give hours of fun for everyone or provide space for summer parties that you might be hosting. If you want to conserve water, you might want to look into some other lawn alternatives or ground coverings that could serve a similar purpose.
- Porches, Patios, Decks: If you don’t have a porch, patio or deck at your home, but have the space, the spring is a great time to install one! The weather is mild and you’ll be able to have the project completed well before the summer time. Don’t let the space go to waste. For front porches, consider installing a swinging bench or some rocking chairs and large potted flowers so you can sit outside and enjoy the space. If you spend more time in the back yard space, a deck or patio can be a wonderful way to enjoy the space. Decks are often built by professionals, or if you’re handy and ready to tackle a project, you could build it yourself. Spacious patios are another great way to enjoy your back yard. They can serve as a relaxation space with a picnic table and chairs, grill, or even a hot tub if you have the room!
3. Plants, plants, and more plants: Plants, flowers, and the bounty of a garden will enhance your yard like no other. Add potted plants on your patio or deck space to bring in some color. Plant flowers around walkways in the front and back yards and if a garden is something you’ve been considering, the month of May is a great time to get your entire garden planted and ready to go.
4. Firepits: An outdoor fire pit or fireplace is a great complement to your outdoor space, especially if you enjoy entertaining. Setting up a fire pit with some benches or chairs and a table is a great space for people to sit back, chat, and relax while roasting marshmallows. These are very inexpensive and can be found at most major stores. Be sure that you check any regulations in the area about outdoor fires, however, and be sure to place the fire pit in an area that is safe, away from debris, branches, or other materials that could catch fire easily.
The details of your outdoor space are important and will help you enjoy the beauty of summer that’s coming. It doesn’t take much to get things looking great!
This is the last post in my most recent blog series that covers some of the top home trends predicted for 2015. This week, I’ll be covering the last 4 trends that home buyers can expect to see in homes on the market.
- Grandiose garages.
Grand garage spaces are very desirable right now. The new trends include bringing the driveway material into the garage, as well as adding sleek designs and modern conveniences into it, including temperature controls, glass doors, or large sinks for outdoor use or washing pets.
- Luxurious master bedrooms.
The bedrooms are some of the most important rooms in your home – they are where you can really rest and unwind at the end of a long day. As the demands of work and society increase and people become more and more stressed, people begin recognizing the importance of getting great sleep and how it will affect their mood and their overall productivity throughout the day. So, homebuyers today are not only looking for bedrooms that they can turn into their oasis, but they are looking for ways to transform them into a luxurious retreat. They’re doing this by buying top of the line mattresses, luxurious bedding, comfortable pillows, and having calming scents throughout the room.
- White kitchens.
There are thousands of options for kitchen colors, backsplashes, cabinets, and flooring, but one of the hottest trends this year is the focus on all-white kitchens. It’s common to see white cabinetry with dark gray or black countertops and white walls. The white trend gives the space a clean, fresh look to it that many homeowners desire.
- Enhanced outdoor living.
Outdoor enthusiasts will rejoice at some of the 2015 trends in outdoor living. This year, enhancing outdoor space is very popular. Some of the things you might see include adding an outdoor covered kitchen equipped with a sink, carving station, and grill, adding a hot tub with an adjacent outdoor shower, or providing an outside wash station for your dog. Being outside during the spring and summer months is very enjoyable in the Pacific Northwest, so expect to see people investing in bigger and better outdoor living spaces this year.
Home design trends are fun and interesting to watch, no doubt! Be sure, however, that you are mindful of what budget you need to stick to, as well as what style preferences you prefer. Consider what ideas and concepts you’ll like or will work well for your home for years to come – not just what the passing interests are.
Have you dreamt of home ownership since you were young? You may have been thinking about what type of house you want and what neighborhood you want to live in. You have probably started thinking about how much money you’ll need to buy a home and saving up for the down payment is a big part of the equation. There are a few tips on how you can save up for the down payment and it may not be as hard as you might think.
Tip #1: Figure out how much you need.
The first step to home ownership is getting a financial plan in place so you can know exactly how much you can afford and how much you will need when it comes to finding a home that meets your criteria. Review your credit and contact a local lender that can help you walk through the steps of what it takes to buy a house. Talk to your real estate agent and determine what houses are available in your price range and exactly how much of a down payment you need. Down payments usually range from 3% to 20%, which depends on the lender and what type of loan you get.
Tip #2: Save, save, save.
When you decide to make the leap into saving for a down payment, you will need to take a close look at your spending habits. In what categories can you cut your spending? Do you eat out regularly or travel on a consistent basis? Or, do you treat yourself to a fancy mocha a few times a week? Cutting back on even little things like that can put more money into your down payment account.
Tip #3: Earn extra money.
If your budget is already as tight as it can get, consider some ways to make a little extra cash on the side. Check out Craigslist for part time work opportunities or freelance gigs. Or, take on a tutoring job for a few high school or college age students in your field of expertise. No matter what your training or skills, there are probably some jobs that are simple, don’t require a lot of time, and can put some extra money in your account every month toward your goal.
Tip #4: Be patient.
Saving for a down payment is usually a process that takes a while. When you first start, set a goal and then set some rewards or mini-celebrations as you go along. For example, if you want to save $8,000 total, plan on a little celebration when you reach the half way mark – maybe it’s a fun weekend getaway trip or a fancy dinner out at your favorite restaurant. Celebrating along the way helps keep you excited and motivated to keep on going!
The process is well worth it and will put you on the road toward financial stability and in the end, home ownership!