Ways to Build Home Equity

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

Summer porch & patio decorating ideas that bring beauty & increase home value

Summer officially begins this week and the warm weather is here to welcome us into the new season. Now is the time that Pacific Northwesterners enjoy a break from the rain and can get outside to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you’re looking for some fun summer porch and patio decorating ideas that bring beauty and increase home value, here are some simple ideas to help you get started.

#1: Bring the inside outdoors.
Rugs and throw pillows can work wonders in creating a warm and inviting patio or porch space. They add color and ambiance. In addition, consider adding some umbrellas or curtained areas that can provide both privacy and shade from the scorching summer rays. In addition, if you have old furniture that you may have considered junk, it might be able to be given new life as a piece of outdoor furniture. For example, if you have an old dresser, paint it with a coat of exterior paint and put it to use as a place to pot outdoor flowers, or as a place to serve lemonade or cocktails during your next entertainment event.

#2: Lights, lights, and more lights.
Lighting makes all the difference. Flood lights are important to have for safety reasons, but when it comes to outdoor entertaining or relaxing in the evening warmth, ambient lighting with programmable battery-operated LED candles or twinkle lights are a great option.

#3: Add landscaping.
Landscaping is one of the easiest ways to add beauty to your outdoor space and it can also enhance the value of your home. Shrubs, trees, potted flowers, or fresh flowers that are planted along walkways are affordable ways to beautify your space and increase curb appeal. Group in odd numbers and mix and match colors and shapes to create some uniqueness.

#4: Upgrade windows and doors.
If your home’s doors or windows are old and outdated, they’re likely not energy efficient and could be wasting precious money each month due to leaking air in or out. Replacement windows and doors will add value and beauty in an instant! Not to mention, they can reduce noise and help maintain even temperatures throughout your home, no matter what the weather is doing outside.

I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 4:51 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Get Your House Ready To Sell This Summer

There’s nothing better than a beautiful Pacific Northwest summer. The days are longer, the sun is out, and people are outside enjoying the beautiful scenery that we have near us. Potential home buyers are also out and about looking at homes for sale, which makes it a great time to list and sell your home. Wondering how to get your house ready to sell this summer and what you need to do? Here are some helpful tips that will help sell your house and help it stand out from the competition.

#1: Update, update, update.
How old is your roof? What about your HVAC system, water heater, or your various kitchen appliances? If major household items are old, inefficient, or need repair, a savvy buyer will recognize this. For example, if your roof is more than 20 years old, chances are, it will need a replacement. It’s better to get that updated before the house goes on the market, so you won’t have to worry about it during the inspection and negotiation process.

#2: Get rid of clutter.
Cluttered homes often make the space look and feel smaller to potential buyers. Start going through your home room by room and either boxing up or getting rid of unnecessary items that are cluttering the space. Designate piles for selling at a garage sale or online and a pile for garbage or donation. The bigger and more open you can make your home feel, the better! This allows people to envision their own belongings in the space and helps them see the overall functionality of each room.

#3: Fix, fix, fix.
Are there any leaky faucets, cracks in the walls, broken handles or doorknobs, or any other small areas of damage that need to be fixed? Fix them before the home goes on the market. Anything that doesn’t work perfectly should be repaired to the best of your ability – that goes for both the interior and exterior of the home.

If you’re not sure where to begin, I’m happy to walk through your home and provide some tips on what you should do first. Once you’re ready to sell your house this summer, contact me! I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.

Posted on June 7, 2018 at 6:13 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Day In The Life of a Realtor

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.

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 6:10 pm
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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How does my credit score impact my purchasing ability?

If you’ve decided to buy a home this year, you may have some questions about how your credit score will impact your purchase ability. This is a common question for many potential homebuyers, so here, I will discuss some of the primary things that you’ll need to know once you start the homebuying process.

Credit scores and credit reports will affect a borrower’s ability to purchase a home in a few different ways. Credit reports are a footprint that allow banks to review a borrower’s credit history. The information found in these reports will give them the information they need to determine the level or risk they’re taking by loaning money to this person. The higher the credit rating, the lower the risk for the bank. The lower the credit score, the higher the risk for the bank. In addition, remember that your credit score will affect the interest rate of the loan you obtain.

Here are some helpful tips on how to bolster your credit score and secure a good loan on the home of your dreams.

  • Make on-time payments on all borrower accounts
    • Missed or late payments will negatively affect your credit score
  • Satisfy unpaid collections, judgements and tax liens (even if these are medical in nature, it’s ideal to pay them off or settle prior to purchasing a home)
  • Establish a credit history by opening a credit line. We are often taught that credit cards are bad. However, they’re essential for establishing a solid credit rating to borrow future funds. The key is to keep the balance below 30% of the allowed limit, always. It’s ideal to pay the balance off each month as well.
  • Minimize credit iniquities. Too many inquiries can cause credit scores to drop.
  • Don’t close existing revolving trade lines if they’re in good standing. When you close a credit card you lose the on-time payment history which influences your credit rating. (1)

The specific details as to what credit scores are needed to obtain a specific home loan:

– Conventional Mortgage: credit score of 620
– FHA Mortgage: credit score of 580
– Veteran Affairs (VA) Mortgage: While the VA does not have a minimum credit score requirement, Quicken Loans requires a 620 credit score on all VA loans. (2)

The bottom line: the better your credit score, the easier it will be to get a loan for your home. Contact me today for information on what it will take to embark on your journey in buying or selling a home.

 

  1. Information courtesy of: Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant with Homestreet Bank
  2. Information courtesy of: Jevon Domench of Academy Mortgage Corporation
Posted on February 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortgage Insurance–what am I insured against?

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new home, on your bank paperwork, you may have noticed something called “mortgage insurance.” Not sure what it is? There are several different types of insurance that homeowners should be familiar with. Here, I will explain the basics.

Title insurance:
Title insurance from the seller comes from the title company. It protects home owners and lenders from damage or property loss that may happen because of liens or other defects in the title to the property. Each title insurance policy is subject to specific terms, exclusions, and conditions.

Homeowner’s insurance:
Homeowner’s insurance/hazard insurance/fire insurance is a policy issued from an insurance company and it protects your property as well as the contents and possessions inside. It also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.  At closing, homeowners will pay for the first year’s policy in full.

Mortgage insurance:
This type of insurance is not a benefit to a homebuyer. When a lender provides a loan and the buyer puts less than 20% down on the purchase, the lender takes a bigger risk. If the buyer ends up defaulting on the loan and they don’t have much “skin” in the game, it’s possible that the lender won’t cover their loan amount when it comes time to liquidate the property. This cost can be paid within your monthly mortgage payment or up front and it will cover the lender’s loss if something were to happen. For some types of loans, particularly FHA loans, the premium will last for the life of the loan, even though your equity position might get you above the 20% mark. Conventional financing will typically have a provision for mortgage insurance that can be removed once the homeowner has 20% equity in the home.

Buying a home requires many different steps and there is a lot of research that is required. The insurance process can be complex and sometimes confusing, especially if you haven’t gone through the home buying process before, and that’s one of the many reasons why it is important to work with a well-qualified, experienced, hands-on Realtor. If you have questions about it, I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about any questions you may have!

Posted on September 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm
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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Selling your home? Should you price low or high: what’s at risk?

If you’ve determined that now is the right time to sell your home, congratulations!

You are entering into a ‘seller’s market’— this means that there are more buyers in the marketplace than sellers and it’s a great time to sell.  One of the most crucial keys to selling quickly with a maximum return is to establish the RIGHT price. You want to maximize your return but set a price from the start to position your home to sell in a reasonable timeframe and let you get on with your next adventure.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU PRICE TOO HIGH?

There are several major risks if you price your home too high.  First, your target buyer may not find your home online or see your property because the price is out of their price range.  In addition, buyers who are shopping in a higher price range will be comparing your home with others and priced too high, you will not compete, actually making the competition look like a better buy.  Homes priced just 10% high reduce the number of buyers by 30%.  The end result is that your home could sit on the market for a longer period of time which means your ownership costs continue and most importantly you can’t “move on.”

HOW CAN WE SELL YOUR HOME AT THE RIGHT PRICE?

Call me! I will do research on what the market conditions are in your neighborhood, taking into consideration your home’s features, age, location, and updates/remodeling you have done.   Then we’ll sit down and talk about your specific goals and needs, then set a price and terms of sale that fit those goals and needs.  We’ll develop a marketing plan specific for your house and price range that targets the right kind of buyers.  During the time you are FOR SALE, I’ll be sure we get input from buyers and their agents to make sure we know how they see our condition and price.  This allows us to make sure we do what we can to make your property more attractive to buyers.  All the while, we will keep aware of things happening in the local market and that might affect how your home sells.

Each home and each client has a unique story.  Whether you’re moving from a condo to a house, moving from acreage to the downtown core, I can work with you in that journey.

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,