Get Your Home Ready for the Change of Season

Fall in the Pacific Northwest is stunning. The leaves are already starting to change, the mornings are crisper, and the sun is starting to set earlier. Autumn is the perfect time to cross off some things on your home maintenance checklist, that may seem small but can make a big difference in the long run. Here are some important things you can do to get your home ready for the change of season.

#1: Get the gutters prepped.
Autumn in the Northwest brings a fair share of rain, so that means your gutters are going to need to kick into overtime soon. Your roof will drain thousands of gallons of water from the exterior over its lifetime, and in order to keep that process flowing, your gutters need to be cleaned out regularly. Clogged gutters not only disrupt the flow of water, but they could also lead to damage on your foundation or leakage in your basement. Before the rainy season starts and leaves start falling, be sure to get your gutters cleaned, either by doing it yourself or by hiring a professional gutter cleaning service.

#2: Get leaks sealed.
If you have leaky windows or doors, be sure to seal them with proper caulking before cold, windy days settle in. Weather stripping is an easy and cost-efficient way to reduce your heating and cooling costs, all year long because they can reduce drafts and keep warm air inside where it should be on those chilly fall days. If you have already sealed the areas around your windows and doors and you are still noticing drafts because your windows and doors are old and inefficient, it may be time to consider replacing those items in your home. New windows and doors will not only be energy efficient and reduce noise, but they will also add value and curb appeal to your home should you choose to sell it later down the road.

#3: Review safety procedures.
It’s a great idea to check safety products around your home as well as review safety procedures you have in place. Replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, be sure you have fire extinguishers on each level of your home, and then review your fire escape plan to ensure that you have an exit path should a fire occur in your home. Be sure that your windows aren’t blocked with furniture and have rope ladders available in rooms that are on the upper level.

Part of being a homeowner means staying on top of home maintenance to-dos. Keeping your home maintained well will keep it in great working order no matter what kind of weather happens outside during this year’s fall season. Ready to start your adventure in home buying or are you ready to sell your home this fall? I’ve been helping customers of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the buying or selling process and can provide tips along the way. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need.

Posted on September 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways To Save Money Around Your Home

Once you have purchased your home, it costs money to maintain. There are some surprisingly easy ways to save your hard-earned cash when it comes to day to day living in your home, as well as home maintenance. Her are some tips.

#1: Minimize your use of traditional light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs cause homeowners to throw away a lot of money every month due to high electric bills. Replacing your old bulbs with LED bulbs can help save you huge amounts of money over time. Over its life span, traditional bulbs can use up to $180 worth of electricity, whereas LED bulbs will use only $30 per bulb.

#2: Fix leaky faucets.
Leaky faucets not only waste gallons of water, which is a precious resource, but you’ll end up paying a lot of money for unused water. Getting your faucet replaced is an important task and could end up saving you a lot on your water bill.

#3: Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats are an amazing invention that allow homeowners to customize the temperature of their homes the way they like. The best part: you’re not wasting energy running your heating or cooling system while you’re away at work or on vacation. For example, if you plan to be away at work for most of the day during a hot summer day, program the system to shift up a few degrees while you’re gone, then set it to turn back down shortly before you turn home so it’s nice and cool. There is no use heating or cooling an empty home.

#4: Check your windows and doors.
Are the windows or doors in your home leaky? This is a great way for air to leak in or out and ultimately cause homeowners to pay excessive amounts in wasted energy. Be sure to caulk leaky windows and seal doors with rubberized weather-stripping on the sides and bottom. If your windows and doors are old and inefficient, consider replacing the windows and doors fully in your home. This will not only allow for energy efficiency, but it will also help add value to your home.

Summer is winding down. Are you ready to make the leap into home ownership this fall or are you ready to sell your home and move into your dream home? I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on August 23, 2018 at 3:52 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to Build Home Equity

Image result for home equity

Buying a home is arguably one of the largest investments you will ever make. Home ownership is a great way to build your personal wealth and one of the primary ways to do that is by allowing it to appreciate and build equity. Here are some great ways to build home equity while keeping your budget in mind.

#1: Before buying your home, save for a larger down payment.
Saving for a down payment on your home is key, but the larger your down payment is, the less your mortgage is, which could help when the market increases, and you begin building equity. The tradeoff: if you wait too long to save for a larger down payment, you may miss your window in getting the home you really want for the price you can really afford. A good lender can provide the information you need.

#2: Stay in your home.
Once you’ve found your dream home, stay put for a while. The longer you stay in your home, the more likely you’ll build equity. As the real estate market continues to rise, your equity will improve naturally, and you won’t have to do anything except enjoy your home.

#3: Keep your home maintained well.
Don’t neglect home maintenance. Keep on top of small maintenance tasks to keep the list from getting long and out of hand. For example, make sure you tend to your roof yearly, checking it for leaks or ripped shingles, schedule annual heating and cooling system preventative maintenance appointments, and keep your yard and landscaping trimmed and managed. A home that is well taken care of not only makes it better for you to live in, but it also adds curb appeal, makes your neighbors happy, and will help your home stay competitive, thereby enhancing your equity.

#4: Make extra payments.
A lot of people choose to cut their loan term to 15 years rather than 30 years, to pay off their mortgage debt. Rather than taking a 15-year loan which locks you into a higher payment, make a couple of extra payments a year that is designated to principal, not an upcoming payment. By doing this, you’ll be able to cut your mortgage term down significantly and you’ll be able to build equity faster.

Ready to start on your path to building home equity?  I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process of looking for a new home and can provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! I love working with people around Clark County, so contact me to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.

Posted on July 10, 2018 at 7:25 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortgage Insurance: What Am I Insured Against?

If you’re buying a new house, you’re likely looking at the various terms on your paperwork and have noticed “mortgage insurance” on there. It’s not something that everyone is familiar with, so here is some basic info that can help answer your questions.

What is mortgage insurance?
Mortgage insurance is not a benefit to the home buyer and does not protect them against anything. Actually, it will only protect the mortgage company/bank in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan and doesn’t pay their mortgage. It is required when a borrower puts less than 20% down on the purchase or has less than 20% in equity during the refinance process on a home.

Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant with Homestreet Bank shares that when a borrower is looking to get a mortgage, it can affect the loan approval process. Hicks shares, “It can increase the borrower’s monthly payment, which overall effects a borrower’s debt-to-income qualifications. Mortgage insurance companies require stricter guidelines depending on a borrower’s debt-to-income, credit score, loan to value, and type of property. Sometimes mortgage insurance companies require additional supporting documentation above what the bank may require and/or additional underwriting review.”

What kind of mortgage insurance is there?
Hicks says that there are multiple types of mortgage insurance for conventional loans. There is monthly mortgage insurance, single premium mortgage insurance, or split premium mortgage insurance. There is also lender paid mortgage insurance. For some loans, especially FHA loans, the premium will last for the life of the loan, even when your equity position gets you above the 20% mark. If the homeowner has a conventional financing method, the insurance can be removed once 20% equity in the home is reached. I can do a quick market analysis to determine if borrowers are at the 20% equity mark.  The lender will require a formal appraisal to remove mortgage insurance, which costs $400-$600. So, it is a good idea to verify you’ve reached that point before ‘getting official’ with your request.

Purchasing a home is very involved and requires various steps and attention to detail. Oftentimes, questions and issues will arise, and this is one of the many reasons why it’s critical to work with an experienced Realtor. Whether it’s a question about mortgage insurance or something else entirely, I’m happy to answer your questions and will work with you to help get the answers you need. Contact me for info!

Posted on March 19, 2018 at 10:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Q & A with Nancy Johns

I’ve worked in the real estate industry for a long time and I enjoy getting to know people as I work to help them find the best home for their unique needs. Just like I enjoy learning more about people, many of my clients and potential clients want to learn more about me and my specific expertise when it comes to my involvement in real estate. Here, I answer some of the common questions I get about me and my experience.

Q: How long have you been in real estate and how did you get started in it?

A: I got involved in Clark County real estate in 1992 and since 1994, I’ve worked with Windermere.  Before that, I worked in the high-tech industry in marketing management. After transitioning out of that role, I felt like working in real estate was a natural fit for me.

Q: How has your career background helped you with your real estate career?

A: Coming from industries in high tech, I brought experience in management, budgets, and developing complex problem solutions with ‘lots of moving parts’.  All of these have been invaluable as I understand markets, help clients navigate lending and paperwork, and orchestrate all the ‘moving parts’ of every real estate transaction, whether it’s helping people move on from their current home, or helping someone find a home to buy.

Q: How has real estate evolved since you began?
A: The biggest change to Real Estate is technology.  I started when we had a printed book of homes, YIKES!  Thank goodness, now we have much better ways to search for homes, property information and communicate with clients and each other.  Of course, coming from this industry before, I was excited to see the real estate industry evolve.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: Meeting with all varieties of clients is very gratifying. I’ve worked with artists, families, professional musicians, and higher-up company leaders. As a buyer’s agent, each client comes to me with various wish lists and I work closely with them to find what they need. When it comes to selling a home, I use my experience to price your home for a fair sale. Determining the right price from the get-go is important and it can help minimize stress for sellers listing their homes. The combination of these things is what makes the job fresh and rewarding.

Contact me today for information on what it will take to embark on your journey in buying or selling a home.

 

 

Posted on March 8, 2018 at 6:53 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Should I list my house in the fall?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Client Story: The Strickland Family

I work with many individuals and families every year and each one has a different story. This story comes from the Strickland’s. They are Pacific Northwest natives and after living in their first home for nearly 12 years, it was time to make a change. Here’s their story.

My name is Brooke Strickland and my husband Bryan and I have been married almost 14 years and have two children. We both grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have made Vancouver, Washington our home. We bought our first, very small home (only 925 square feet!) in 2004 and we originally planned to live there for only 5 years. My husband had always wanted to be in the downtown area, so after almost 12 years (rather than our original 5 years), we decided to start exploring a move.

I loved our little home and was nervous that we wouldn’t find a home that was affordable in the area that we wanted. I stomped my feet and was hesitant, but we finally decided that it was time to expand. We knew Nancy’s experience was unmatched and I had full confidence that she would help us sell our house quickly and help find us a new one that we loved, and that wouldn’t make me cringe every time I opened up the bill to pay the mortgage every month.

We listed our home for sale in April of 2016 and within 18 hours, we had 3 offers on the table. We met with Nancy and she walked us through what the offers looked like and which one would be the best. Within days, we had gone from prepping to sell to having a sale pending sticker up on the sign. Things went very fast.

In the meantime, we were looking for another home. I looked obsessively online and found one that was perfect in every way, but it was priced too high for our budget. My husband (and Nancy) encouraged me to just look at it. We did and boy, did we fall in love. The house had been for sale for over a year and already had three previous offers that had all fallen through. Our family believed that it was “meant to be” and we entered negotiations with the sellers. In this market, we were nervous that there would be competition among other people trying to buy the home, but we didn’t have any. We literally wrote our offer and with only a bit of back-and-forth, our offer was accepted. And the best part? We came in UNDER the selling price. There were so many things that lined up during the process that told us that we were supposed to go forward with this home. With Nancy’s quick thinking and expert negotiation, she was able to help us buy our dream home. We just surpassed the one-year mark living in our dream home and almost weekly, we say “we can’t believe we live here!” This house is truly a gift and something we will treasure for many years. 

Nancy can tell you that I asked probably 5,000 questions during our time working together. She was more than patient with me and explained everything in a way that I could understand it. We highly recommend her to any of our friends or acquaintances that are looking for a Realtor in the area. There is no one like her and we credit much of our story to her willingness to walk alongside us while we explored and tested out our options. We are so thankful!

I love being part of the ‘story’ of different clients—moving from a condo to a house, moving from acreage to in-town, moving into the area, moving out.  Give me a call if you would like to talk to me about being part of your story.

** I conduct business in accordance with all federal, state, and local fair housing laws. It is our policy to provide housing opportunities to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, national origin or sexual orientation. **

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