Realtors have a busy job that sometimes looks different from one day to the next. In addition to staying on top of what current real estate regulations and trends are happening within their sphere of work, real estate agents have a multitude of other tasks that come with the job of helping people through the process of buying and/or selling homes. For me, these tasks are part of what makes my job fun, and the different things that transpire week after week, are what keeps things interesting and exciting. Here’s a snapshot of what my days as a realtor looks like.
#1: Driving by homes.
I know that my clients are on the hunt for the right home, so I am on the lookout for homes that could work for active buyers that are in the market for their next space to call home. Having an idea of what each client wants means that I won’t be bringing them to homes that are clearly not what they want. This saves time for all parties involved!
#2: Handle multiple emails/phone calls.
Aww, the never-ending list of inbox emails and phone messages. A lot of people can relate with this, so I make sure I spend time each day emailing and calling people that have requested assistance. Most of the time, I’m coordinating multiple details regarding showings, closings, offers with clients, escrow, lenders, and more!
#3: Coordinate details for new listings.
Considering selling a house? I work with many people that are not sure if they want to sell yet, so for these people, I work up a Comparative Market Analysis that provides information on recently sold properties in the area. These reports look at houses that are somewhat similar and give real estate professionals an idea of what price a potential client’s home could be listed for.
If you’ve just listed a house, there are a lot of little details that need to come together before it goes “live” to the public. For example, we’ll need to prep for an open house by ordering printed materials and snacks, order a sign for the yard, and put a lockbox on the listing so pictures can happen. These are just some of the things that need to happen before we can start showing the home.
#4: Go over repairs and other mid-sale to-dos.
For clients that have found a home that they’ve put an offer in on, there are often repairs that need to be requested. As a buyer’s agent, to determine a list of reasonable repairs and will advise which items are necessary and which could be left out. As a seller’s agent, I will review and recommend to the seller what the buyers requested, and which ones should be completed.
#5: Coordinate paperwork and financial details.
Once a home is ready to close, there are several pieces of paperwork and other financial details that need to be coordinated. There are often questions on specific terms within the paperwork as well as questions on when things will happen once papers are signed. Whether it’s leaving a check for the contractor at a pending sale or laying out a schedule before recording for a client who will sign out of town, I work with clients to help make the paperwork process as easy as possible.
My daily responsibilities as a real estate agent require a balance. However, with my two decades of experience and my combined love of meeting with all varieties of clients, real estate is a natural fit for me. Contact me today for information on what it will take to start your adventure in buying or selling a home.
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.
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.
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.
In 2016, common décor colors used in homes were known to be soft, calm, and tranquil, but 2017 will bring brighter, more vibrant colors to the home decorating scene. Green has been named this year’s top color choice for decorating, which is sure to add pizzazz to any space. Here are some great ways to incorporate this color into your home’s style.
Incorporate natural greenery:
If green is the color of the year, integrating natural greenery into your home a great option to make your home warm and inviting. Real greenery throughout your home will bring new life to your space. Potted plants with brightly colored ceramic pots are great options. Or, consider adding indoor hanging succulents or other hanging plants with trailing stems for dramatic beauty in any room of your home.
Pillows, pillows, pillows:
If you don’t want embrace green completely, but you’re looking for an added pop of color, green accent pillows can be a good way to bring in the green to living room or bedrooms. Or, add green throw blankets to your couches, love seats, or beds.
Change out window dressings:
New window coverings can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room. If you’ve considered making a change to your window dressings, green curtains could be a fun option. Curtains can make a dramatic statement, even on a small budget.
Add color to your walls with new wallpaper and paint:
Wallpapers today are elegant and gorgeous, unlike wallpapers of the past that curled easily or were almost impossible to remove. If you’re not sure about using wallpaper on all of the walls, put it on just one wall, then find an accent paint color that will make the room stand out. There are some unique tropical wallpapers and other bright floral wallpaper designs available right now that could be a great way to change the whole look of your favorite room in the house.
There are lots of ways that you can integrate green into your home’s decor this year. No matter how big or small your decorating budget is, it can add distinct color and vibrancy to the space that it may have been missing before!
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.
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.
The end of the year is almost here and to round out the close of a successful year, I thought it would be great to do a fun little Q & A style blog so you could get to know me a little better. It has been my privilege to help people find new homes and sell their existing ones this year and I look forward to serving you in 2016!
1. Where did you grow up, what brought you to the Vancouver area?
I grew up in Oakland CA just across the bay from San Francisco. Actually my family has been in the Bay Area since before the 1849 Gold Rush. I came to the Northwest in 1979 with my husband and one kiddo in tow to work for Tektronix; we moved to Vancouver in 1985 when my job moved to the plant on 164th.
2. How long have you been working as a Realtor?
I've been a Realtor since 1994 and only with two companies–Lutz Snyder a very large independent and now Windermere where I've recently celebrated my 20th anniversary.
3. Share a fond or funny memory during your time as a Realtor.
I've had lots of great experiences and met wonderful folks. . I've sold house boats, a house on the Washougal River that actually had doors on both ends to let the River through in case of a flood, and lots of homes, new and old all over Clark County/Vancouver.
4. What is the best part about being a Realtor in Vancouver?
I love our community and the feel of a small town. I get to meet folks who have interesting stories and wonderful families. I love solving puzzles, and finding the right property for folks or helping folks move somewhere else keeps things very interesting.
5. Tell us about your family.
My husband was a homebuilder who passed away 10 years ago. I have three adult children–Ken in New Jersey just across from lower Manhattan; Kathy in graduate school in Seattle, Kim a middle school teacher in Portland.
6. Do you have any Christmas/New Year traditions?
Our family Christmas traditions are probably just like lots of other families. Whoever is in town, and often that is my 91-year-old Mom from the Bay Area, celebrates Christmas Eve with a nice dinner and church, then Christmas morning we do packages, and of course later in the day dinner.
7. It’s midnight and you’re hungry. What is your go-to snack?
Oh my . . . what should I say? veggie sticks? something utterly healthy? not really, it would usually be cheese and crackers or a cookie
8. Name one thing on your bucket list:
I would love to take my children to see at least one of the places I've been able to travel internationally especially Mongolia or Senegal.
9. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks?
My go-to is a decaf, skinny cinnamon dolce latte.
10. It's your day off. What can we find you doing?
Walking, meeting friends, catching up on my interests which include community involvement with junior high learners, or advocating for responsible spending of our USAID funds.
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.
Brrrr….it’s cold outside! The cold winter months are now upon us! During the summer months, it’s easier to keep your yard and garden looking great, but in the winter, the idea of getting outside to do yard work is not an inviting one. If your home is on the market, it’s important to remember that if you neglect the exterior, then you may be at risk for deterring prospective buyers. Instead, keep it looking warm and inviting! Be sure that the leaves are raked on a regular basis and mow and edge the lawn regularly so it doesn’t get unkempt and overgrown. If the house is vacant, keep newspapers and other flyers off the porch and be sure to keep the heat at 65 degrees so the house isn’t cold when it is being shown to potential buyers.
Looking for some other ways to create curb appeal in the winter? It doesn’t require a lot of money or complex changes. It just requires a little bit of effort.
Add color: In the dead of winter, color is often lacking. So, add some plants that will survive the winter, such as evergreens or hearty plants that can add a splash of color to the winter landscape. Add some planters filled with evergreen plants and put them by the door. Or add a nice wreath to the door.
Keep paths clear: If your pathways to the home are icy or snowy, be sure to make it as non-slippery and clear of snow/ice as possible. Pour salt on the area and be sure to keep things clear so it is safe. In addition, if the area is cleared, it also gives buyers a good idea of the true size of the area.
Sparkle and lights: Some of most inviting homes have a special seasonal sparkle. Add some simple sparkling lights to the exterior of the home, either with Christmas lights, or some nice lights that line the walkway or driveway to the home. Or, if you have a bird bath, fountain, or other area that goes unused in the winter, consider transforming that area into something else for a few months – maybe add a planter or an outdoor sculpture with some lights to that area instead. In addition, because it gets dark early during the cold winter months, be sure that there is plenty of lights around the home. Be sure that your flood lights or porch lights are in good working order and keep some lights on in the exterior of the home as well.
A drab and dreary winter doesn’t have to wreck the curb appeal on your home. With quality landscaping and a little bit of creativity and effort, your yard can shine even during the coldest part of the year!