Important Must-Know Real Estate Terms

There are a lot of real estate terms out there. The good thing is: you don’t need to know them all! There are a few important terms, however, that every homeowner or potential homeowner should understand. Here, I will break down some of the most essential real estate terms.

Appraisal and appraisal fee:
The appraisal fee is a one-time fee that’s paid for the lender’s appraisal of the property. The home needs to appraise at the price the home is being listed at, in order for the bank to finance the loan.

Fixed rate vs. adjustable rate:
When you take out a loan on a property, a fixed rate mortgage will give you a mortgage rate that is set right when you take out the loan. Fixed rate mortgages won’t change. Adjustable rates, otherwise known as ARMs, generally start out at lower interest rates, but they can rise – the rates can go up and down throughout the life of the loan.

Loan amount:
Your loan amount is the total purchase price, minus the down payment amount that you choose to put down. The loan amount can be spread out over 15, 20, or 30 years.

PMI:
PMI, otherwise known as Private Mortgage Insurance, is insurance for the lender to help cover potential losses if the borrower stops making payments on the loan. It’s usually required when your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home.

Ready to get your real estate journey started? Contact me to start a conversation about what it takes to purchase or sell a home. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process, help answer questions on any terms that you need clarification on and can provide helpful tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

Posted on November 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to Increase Your Down Payment

If you have decided to make the leap into home ownership, chances are, you’re thinking a lot about your down payment and what you will need to have saved for it. When you look at the funding needed and break it down into small pieces to see what actions you can take to increase it, you will likely be able to save more than you initially thought. Here are some helpful ways that can help you bulk up your down payment amount.

Know what you need.
Oftentimes, people hear that you’ll need a 20% or higher down payment, but there are other options that allow you to put less down. Lenders don’t generally require 20% down, but rather can structure your down payment to meet your needs, considering that if you put less down, you’ll have a higher payment—both in principal and interest, as well as potential mortgage insurance which protects the lender if you default on the loan at any time. When it comes time to talk to a mortgage professional about your down payment, talk to them about low down payment options that could include FHA loans or VA loans for eligible veterans or active duty military. Most lenders will be happy to sit down and help you look at the info for your total down payment amount, which can then give you a solid goal.

Get creative with saving.
If you get a raise or a bonus at work, or you get money as a gift from a parent or other family member for a holiday or birthday, don’t spend it and instead put it straight into your down payment fund. If you pay off your car, resist the urge to go out and buy a new one with a monthly payment and instead use that money for your house savings. Another helpful idea is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings on the same day each month. This is not only convenient and save you the time of manually entering the transfer, but it may make it a little easier to save, too.

If you’re ready to start a conversation about what it takes to purchase a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on November 9, 2018 at 4:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , ,

3 Ways To Improve Equity In Your Home

Buying a home is a dream come true for many people and the longer you live in it, the more opportunity you have to build equity. Equity is the difference between what the home’s market value is versus what you owe on it and with each house payment you make, the more equity you gain. Also as your home’s value starts to increase your equity also grows. If you’re looking for additional ways to improve equity in your home, here are a couple of ideas.

#1: Large down payment.
When you’re ready to buy a home, you can get a head start right at the get-go, by making a large down payment. Putting down 20% or more of the property’s value is a great way to not only add instant equity, but it can also keep your house payment lower and it will also allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance each month which doesn’t insure you but rather insures the lender against a possible loss.

#2: Shorter mortgage terms.
It’s very common for homeowners to take out 30-year loans on their home, but if you can swing refinancing your home to a 15-year mortgage, you will be able to pile on the equity and help pay off the loan quicker. Your monthly payments will be higher, but the payoff can be significant when your mortgage is paid off in half of the time. If you can’t swing the refinance to a 15-year mortgage, consider paying a little more on the principal of your loan with your payment each month or make one or two extra payments a year and apply it toward the principal. This can help you pay off the loan sooner and will help bolster equity over time.

#3: Home renovations.
There are some remodeling and home improvement projects that can help increase the value of your home and boost the equity. Replacing windows and doors, adding attic insulation, and completing a kitchen or bathroom remodel can all help with increased property value and greater home equity. There are certain home projects that do not add as much value. If you’re not sure, I’m glad to provide advice on which to-dos reap the most return.

If you’re ready to explore the option of buying or selling a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on October 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Maintenance, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , ,