There are many facets of buying a home and the process can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, buying a home is very exciting and if you avoid various home buying mistakes, it will make your home ownership process one that is rewarding for many years to come. I recommend that home buyers avoid these three common mistakes when it comes to purchasing a house.
#1: Not working with a buyer’s agent.
A knowledgeable Realtor can help provide advice that fits your specific situation. An experienced buyer’s agent has worked with hundreds of different home buyers and they can help you understand what’s happening each step of the way. You’ll also be able to ask questions that may come up and your agent will also help you plan for closing costs and other costs that may arise. In addition, a buyer’s agent will help you know if a home is worth the price, what its resale value might be, and they will be your advocate when it comes to negotiations. When it comes to buying a home, you want someone on your side, and a qualified Realtor will be there the whole time.
#2: Not getting pre-approved.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage serves dual purposes: it shows sellers that you’re serious and it also gives you a realistic idea of how much you can afford for a home. Work with a lender that you trust and gather up all relevant financial documents like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. Your lender will work with you to get the information needed to provide an accurate pre-approval letter. Then, you can start shopping for homes within your budget.
#3: Not getting an inspection by a credentialed inspector.
A credentialed inspector will help alert you to any potential problems that the home may have such as faulty wiring, plumbing leaks, or structural issues. A layperson generally wouldn’t be able to spot these things, so when it comes to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, it’s worth it to pitch in a little bit extra to pay for a qualified and experienced inspector that holds proper credentials. Skipping that step could be costly, and you may end up paying for it later when you discover something major is wrong with the home.
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to buy a home this autumn, contact me today to help you get the ball rolling!
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!
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 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/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.
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!
If you’re thinking about selling your home, you have a lot of different factors to consider. You’re thinking about where you’ll move and what it will cost, and finding a qualified Realtor is one of the biggest decisions. If one of your questions involves finding out more information regarding reduced commission versus full rate services, here I’ll cover what the three basic levels of fees and services include.
#1: Very Discounted Services: This will include access to the MLS only. The seller will input all information and will set the buyer’s agent fee. The seller pays for marketing and will negotiate elements of the contract. This can work for some situations, but being an unrepresented seller in today’s complex market can be risky and oftentimes results in a lower net price. Most buyers will have representation, so the fee you save is really only half of the full real estate fee.
#2: Cut-rate fees: This will again only save half of the real estate fee, as buyers are usually represented by an agent. With full service representation, you usually get more experienced and knowledgeable agents to work with you. This is the “secret sauce” that can save you big time in the end – especially in the areas of price negotiation, inspection negotiation, and other timing issues that can derail the overall transaction.
#3: Full-service: When using a full-service Realtor, you’ll get a fully developed and proven marketing plan. The Realtor will additionally help you develop a pricing strategy that will help get your home sold in a timely way. You’ll work together to address issues upfront that could cause a buyer to pass by your home. The key here is knowledge, knowledge, knowledge! An experienced Realtor has been part of numerous, varied transactions that can help benefit you throughout the process so you can get the best price for your home with the quickest closing date and the least hassle.
If you have decided that it’s time to make the jump to sell your home, now is a great time to do that. The information around fees can be a complex topic to consider, so if you have additional questions, I am happy to sit down and talk with you about what could work for you and your specific situation.
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is amazing. The days are longer and warmer and the rain is gone so you can get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re in the midst of buying or selling a home and you feel like you’re overwhelmed with the details, don’t forget to take time for yourself and enjoy the beauty that Washington has to offer. Here are some great tips on activities that you can participate in locally this summer.
#1: Summer reading program through Fort Vancouver Library.
Kids, teens, and adults alike can sign up for the summer reading program through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. Log days that you’ve read and you can earn rewards and prizes with the free program. The best part: it keeps your reading skills sharp throughout the summer.
#2: Summer concerts and movies in the park.
Every year, the City of Vancouver puts on a summer concert series in Esther Short Park. Each concert is free and family friendly. Enjoy a variety of talented local artists, including Vancouver Pops Orchestra, and enjoy food from local vendors, too. The city also puts on Friday night movie nights in parks around Vancouver in July.
#3: Dive in!
Jump in and cool off! Klineline Pond is a great spot to cool off and enjoy the warm summer weather. The pond is located in a large park setting with large water features/fountains for the little ones to run around and cool off in, too. Not to mention, there is a playground, plenty of picnic tables, and lots of green space to walk. If you want to stay indoors to swim, the pools at Jim Parsley Community Center, Propstra Aquatic Center, and Firstenburg Community Center are great places to swim.
#4: Hike or camp!
Living in the Northwest means that there are many beautiful hikes and walking trails. Hike Mount St. Helens, take a drive out through the Columbia Gorge and hike the Multnomah Falls, or enjoy some family time by setting up a tent and a mini-campground in your backyard for one night.
No matter what you decide to do this summer, take time to relax and enjoy the beautiful area we live in!
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.
Decorating your home for the holidays can be a lot of fun, but decorating with children can make it even more magical. If you’re looking for some fun ways to get your home looking festive this year, put your creativity and your kids or grandkids to work. There are a variety of kid-friendly Christmas décor projects and here are some of my favorites.
#1: Do-it-yourself Picture Snow Globes
Memories captured in photos are such treasures, especially when the children get older. Creating a photo snow globe with your them can be a special keepsake item that you can use year after year. Grab a glass jar with a lid, scrapbook paper, a photograph that you want to use, some spray paint, Popsicle sticks, hot glue, and any other jar decorations that you want. Paint the lids whatever color you want and cut a piece of scrap paper to fit the inside of your jar to serve as a background. Fold the bottom part of the photo to serve as the base on which the photo stands. Then, use the popsicle stick to glue to the bottom back of the photo, then apply more glue to the bottom to stick it into place. Add white pompoms or spray paint white around the glass jar to make it look like snow. Decorate the outside of the jar however you want and soon you have a special snow globe.
#2: Personalized Gift Tags
Let you’re the children in your life do all the decorating for gifts this year and let them create personalized gift tags for each person on your list. You could print photos of the gift recipient on the tags, then let them decorate them however you want. You could also have them decorate tags with loved ones’ names on them and use them as Christmas tree décor.
#3: Gummy Snowflakes
Grab a box of toothpicks and your favorite colored gumdrops and create bright snowflakes! You could string them up and put them in a window, put them on the Christmas tree, or eat them as an after-school snack.
Head to the craft store or the dollar store and look for inexpensive porcelain houses. Then, pick your favorite colors and let your kids paint them for a little village of brightly-colored homes. Make them even more fancy with decorative touches like glitter or feathers.
The magic of Christmas is in the air and spending quality time with family and friends at home during the season doing crafts can be a special memory-making time. I wish you much joy during the holiday season!
Winter is on the horizon and that means the temperatures will be steadily dropping. Because of that, it might not be the ideal time to move, but moving during the winter months can actually have some benefits to it. Moving service companies are not as busy, so that means you might see more flexibility in schedules and possibly even lower rates for different types of services. However, moving in the winter comes with a few challenges –especially when it comes to inclement weather, so here are some helpful tips to help you complete a smooth move to your new home.
Tip #1: Start moving early in the day.
Winter days are short, so that means you have less daylight to work with. If you’re moving during the winter, take advantage of the daytime hours and get started early in the morning. Pack well the night before and then plan on getting ready to move your items first thing in the morning so you can be done before it gets too dark outside. Moving in the dark can pose some safety risks, simply because you cannot see as well. Moving early in the day will also mean you’ll have slightly warmer temperatures, which will make it more comfortable.
Tip #2: Keep your walkways clear.
Moving is physically demanding, so the last thing you want to worry about is falling and injuring yourself on a slippery driveway or walkway while you’re carrying a heavy box of fragile valuables. Be sure that all of your entryways and exit points are clear of ice, snow, or any other obstacles that could threaten the safety of you or the people that are helping you move.
Tip #3: Layer up.
Even though you’re going to be physically active during your move, you should still dress with a couple of layers. You will need to stay warm, but wearing a bulky coat could get in the way. Instead, dress in a few layers of clothing. That way you’ll not only keep big, bulky clothing out of the way while you’re lifting boxes, but if you get warm, you can take off a layer or two to stay comfortable.
Tip #4: Keep supplies handy.
If you know you have a winter move coming up, be sure to keep your winter supplies handy, rather than packing them away in one of the many boxes you have piling up. Keep your gloves, hats, ice scrapers, and any other winter supplies that you think you might need in a place that is easy to get to.
Moving during the coldest part of the year doesn’t have to be completely miserable. With a little planning, your winter move can go smoothly and before you know it, you’ll be ready to settle into the warmth of your new home!
Autumn has arrived and that translates to falling leaves and wet weather. Weatherizing your Pacific Northwest home for the fall weather is important. Here are some tips on how to keep your home warm and dry during the new season.
Tip #1: Weatherize your windows.
Do you have drafty windows? Older windows can allow cold air to creep in and can also bring in rain water into the window sills, causing mold and moisture build up. Consider caulking your windows so there is no leakage and if you have any cracks or broken panes, replace them right away. Replacing these will also save energy, which means you’ll pay less on your utility bill.
Tip #2: Keep gutters cleared out.
Autumn can bring heavy wind and rain, which means your gutters will be put to the test. Make sure that gutters are kept free of debris, twig, or leaf buildup. If they’re overflowing, it will cause the gutters to work harder and could cause leakage onto your roof or siding, which could cause damage later down the road.
Tip #3: Seal up doors.
Leaking doors, like leaking windows, can cause drafts and moisture build up. Make sure that the seals around your doors are working properly and if you notice any cracks or issues with caulking, get it fixed right away.
Tip #4: Be sure to check your roof.
Weatherizing your roof is key, especially once we head into the cold winter. Inspect your roof regularly, checking for missing, cracked, or curled shingles. If you see anything noticeable, call a roofing specialist right away. If you don’t get things repaired, water could creep in and threaten the overall integrity of the roof.
If you need advice on where to call when it comes to weatherizing your home for autumn, I can help with some local, reputable contractors and companies. Keeping your home maintained well will help you stay comfortable during the upcoming cooler months!