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

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tricks That Offer Good Return on Investment

What does your home look like from the outside? Curb appeal makes a big difference, especially when it comes to selling your home and enticing prospective buyers to look at it. If you don’t want to drop a lot of cash on things like expensive landscaping, there are some simple solutions that can bolster curb appeal in addition to offering a good return on investment.

#1: Paint the little things.
Painting your entire home can be expensive, so instead of investing in a whole home re-paint project, work on painting smaller things on the outside of your home, like the mailbox, the home’s trim, or porch hand rails. Potential buyers will notice the attention to detail and it can help make your space look fresh.

#2: Add a welcoming spot to the front of the home.
If your porch or patio in the front of your home is lacking a sitting area, adding some cozy chairs, a small bench with some decorative pillows, and/or a little table can create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for people walking or driving by. Not only does that, it allows people to imagine themselves sitting there someday enjoying their new home and neighborhood.

#3: Clean up the clutter.
Garbage bins, recycling containers, tools, or kid’s toys should all be kept out of sight from the front of the house. If you’re short on space and don’t have a place to put these, try arranging some large pots of flowers or shrubs around the items so the clutter is out of the line of vision for people looking at your house.

#4: Mow and edge the lawn.
Trim hedges, mow the lawn, and weed flower beds. Overgrown yards are almost always an eyesore and can have a real negative impact on curb appeal. It won’t cost you any money to keep up on yard maintenance if you do it yourself, but the time you put in will pay off when potential buyers notice the beautiful yard.

Adding curb appeal and making your home look great on the outside can be simple and affordable. When it comes time to list your property, you’ll increase the likelihood of having more showings. Need other tips on the appearance of your home before you’re ready to put it on the market? My two decades of experience as a Realtor® can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County.  I’m happy to help you start your adventure in buying or selling a home.

Posted on May 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Spring Is A Great Time To Sell Your Home

The market is hot, and it is a great time to be a seller in Clark County. Potential homebuyers are out and about and are ready to put down roots in a new home. Spring is usually the most popular season for buying and selling a home and here’s why.

#1: Inventory is tight, and demand remains high.
Home inventory in Clark County is still relatively low, which means that many buyers are clamoring to get in the real estate game and find the home of their dreams. This means that there is more competition out there, so buyers and sellers should be prepared for multiple offer situations, which requires patience and plenty of discussion with your experienced real estate broker.

#2: The weather is great.
Garden flowers are starting to bloom, the grass is green and inviting, and the weather is getting warmer. Not to mention, the days are getting longer, and we have more daylight to work with, so that boosts the amount of people that can see the home during the day. The springtime brings buyers out of winter hibernation and they are generally excited and more energetic when it comes to looking at homes in person, with the goal of getting settled in before the summer heat starts.

#3: Kids can remain in school.
Moving in the middle of the year is a hassle for kids and parents alike. Spring is a great time to sell because kids can finish out the school year and you’ll be able to move, register for a new school district if needed, and have everything in place before autumn starts and the new school year begins.

If you’re ready to list your home this spring, or if you’re ready to buy and want to start looking, my two decades of experience as a Realtor® can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am happy to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in buying or selling a home.

Posted on May 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How A Real Estate Broker Can Change Your Life

Considering buying or selling a home? Real estate transactions are very detailed and sometimes stressful. Each buying and selling experience is unique and working with a qualified and experienced Realtor® can help make the process go smoother, which means it will be less nerve-wracking for you! Here are some ways that working with a real estate broker will make your life easier.

#1: They can help save you money.
Working with an experienced real estate broker can help you save money because they are experienced in the negotiating process and can help you look for any potential snares or issues during the transaction that could cost you big bucks.

#2:  They can help with your perspective.
Not sure what you want in your next home? Or, maybe you think you know what you want. Perhaps you know exactly what you want to get out of the home selling process, but you haven’t thought about what comes next. After listening well, your Realtor® should be able to offer a unique perspective into your specific situation and help you think of things that you might not have initially considered.

#3: They’ll go the extra mile.
The buying and selling process is a big job in and of itself, but a great Realtor® will go the extra mile for you and recommend contractors, offer tips on redesign or remodeling that could help increase the value of the home, and will help answer questions that come up along the way. A quality Realtor® will be happy to share their information and wealth of knowledge with clients to help ease any anxiety that may be there.

#4: They’ll save you time.
One of the best parts of working with a qualified real estate broker is the amount of time they’ll save you. They will prepare papers for you, do all the marketing for your property, and help prepare you for any anticipated issues that could arise. A great Realtor® is a problem solver and this translates to less stress and less wasted time for you!

#5: They become someone you can count on.
The real estate transaction process can get complicated and when it does, a good Realtor® is someone that will go to bat for you when it’s needed. You should be able to depend on them when it gets hard – whether it’s negotiating, explaining all the lingo when you don’t understand it, or working through inspection obstacles, a great Realtor® will have your back, no matter what!

I’ve been proud to work with clients of all kinds throughout my two decades of experience as a Realtor®.  I love meeting and working with people to help them buy or sell a home in Clark County. Contact me today for information on what it will take to start your adventure in buying or selling a house.

Posted on April 16, 2018 at 8:55 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

The dreaded inspection—jargon, issues, and “make or breaks”

If you’re buying or selling a home, the inspection process can be nerve-wracking for people. It often brings up questions or concerns that may be a little bit overwhelming at first. The inspection provides an overall evaluation of the home’s condition. Inspections can be complex, depending on the home and its condition. Every inspection provides a detailed look at all the working systems of a whole house. Then, depending on the home, there can be additional inspection processes that look at the sewer, oil tank, roof, or radon levels.  Doing an inspection should be written into your sales contract, so you can expect to have one from the get go.

When you’re getting an inspection, be sure to use a licensed inspector. These people need to complete continuing education courses and are experienced with inspecting a variety of different styles and homes of various ages. Your Realtor will give you advice on a recommended inspector or inspection company.

How the process works:
When a buyer gets an inspection done, the seller may not know what the results are for a couple of days. When the buyer gets the results, they will get a copy of the report and determine what they want to ask the seller to fix, if anything. Most often, the buyer has 10 days to get repair requests to the seller. The Realtor will help the buyer determine which “to-do” items are reasonable to ask for and what isn’t.

Once the seller gets the list, they are given some time to get quotes or bids on the items that need completion. Having an experienced Realtor to work with you during this process is important, as the back-and-forth process can create much dialogue. It is critical that everyone understands each other and having an agent you trust here can help guide you along through some of the confusing details. Many times, the inspection process requires negotiation and a Realtor can be an asset in this part.

As a seller, this time can be nerve-wracking, as you are waiting to get quotes done and wondering what the result will be! Your Realtor will help you decipher the requests that come in, determine what is customary, and negotiate on your behalf. Again, your Realtor will play an important role in helping you get through the many hoops that can sometimes happen with the inspection process.

Buying and selling a home requires many different steps and it’s okay to have a lot of questions along the way. The inspection process can be very involved, and I am happy to sit down and talk with you about it if you need additional clarification.

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Things That Immediately Increase Your Home’s Value

Homeowners oftentimes ask me what types of home renovations or improvements they should complete to help increase their home’s value, especially if they’re considering putting their home on the market soon. There are a variety of things that can help update your home and if you do it right, they can bring in good returns when it comes time to sell the home. It’s important to note that some home remodeling or home improvement projects will add more value than others. Here are four things that can help increase your home’s value right away.

#1:  Updated bathrooms.
A freshly updated bathroom can bring in great returns when it comes time to sell your house. You don’t need to do a full remodel, either. Simple updates like new sinks and toilets or updated flooring can be easy and inexpensive ways to increase value.

#2: Updated kitchen.
A fully remodeled or updated kitchen is one of the best things you can do to add value to your home. New cabinets, flooring, and countertops make all the difference when it comes to selling your home. If you decide to list the home without doing any updates or repairs to the kitchen, it’s common for prospective buyers to think they must remodel the kitchen space completely from scratch, overestimating how much a remodel will be.  A kitchen remodel may be less than a buyer might think, so it’s great to get this part done so you can yield the returns when it comes time to sell.

#3: Exterior maintenance.
New exterior paint can do wonders for curb appeal! In addition, stay on top of other exterior maintenance to make sure it’s free from dry rot or other issues that could cause a potential buyer to worry. Make sure your roof is cleaned regularly and that a roofing professional checks it for leaks or missing shingles, but do not pressure wash it. If these aren’t repaired and come up during an inspection, it could mean an expensive repair or a price reduction in your home, so it’s better to get things maintained and taken care of before the house goes on the market.

#4: Updated color palette.
Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to create a relaxing ambiance inside your home? Freshen up the paint in your home to make sure it is updated to some currently popular colors that could be appealing to a broad audience. Fresh paint goes a long way. You’ll not only make the space feel brighter and cleaner, but painting with an updated color palette will give prospective buyers the opportunity to better envision themselves living in the space.

Not sure where to start when it comes to picking reliable companies or contractors to help you with your home maintenance or home remodeling projects? I am happy to give you some names of local contractors that I work with regularly and I’m also glad to visit your home and help you decide which to-do items would be the best bang for your buck.

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,