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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. **
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.