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

3 Things That Make a Great Neighborhood

When it comes to buying a home, finding one in the right neighborhood is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind. Living in the area you want, in the home you want is the recipe for being a satisfied home buyer, giving you what it takes to live there for many years to come. Here are three main factors that make a great neighborhood.

#1: Schools.
Even for people that do not have kids in the school system, it’s important to know what your neighborhood schools are like. Quality schools ensure that good families want to move to that specific area, which will help increase the value of your property. Southwest Washington public schools are among some of the best in the state. Each school district employs high-ranking, award winning teachers, administrators, and support staff. Our primary districts are:

  • Vancouver School District
  • Battle Ground School District
  • Camas School District
  • Washougal School District
  • Evergreen School District
  • Ridgefield School District
  • La Center School District

#2: Accessibility.
Whether you’re a city person or someone who wants to be surrounded by forested areas in the country, making sure your home is accessible to the things you want is key. Research what places are nearby for public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants, activities, or hospitals. Consider what parks and other green spaces are around and factor in how long you will need to commute to work in your new neighborhood. If you telecommute, be sure you know how you’ll get that done in your new location. All of these are important questions to figure out answers to, so you can be sure you’re spending time at home rather than in your car traveling a long way to the places you need to be.

#3: Pride in ownership.
When you find a neighborhood that demonstrates pride in ownership, it’s obvious. Residents that keep their homes and yards maintained well will generally also value in the neighborhood and the neighbors they meet. A great neighborhood has neighbors that look out for each other, bringing them together for the betterment of the neighborhood as a whole.

If you want to explore the option of buying a home, contact me. I’ve been helping customers 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 9, 2018 at 8:08 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yard Staging Projects That Can Help Sell Your House

When it comes to selling your house, first impressions really matter.  If you are spending time to ensure the inside of your home is in pristine condition, you should also put some time and effort into making your yard look great too. After some hard work in the yard, your efforts can pay off. But what to-dos will reap the most reward? Here are some yard staging projects that can help sell your house.

#1: Lawn clean-up.
Imagine driving up to a home that you’re thinking about buying and seeing that the lawn is overgrown and full of weeds. Not the greatest first impression, is it? If you have grass in your yard, potential buyers will notice how it’s taken care of. Be sure to keep it cut short and invest in having a landscape team professionally edge it.

#2: Goodbye, clutter.
The outside of your home should look as clean and tidy as possible. Stash kids toys and bikes in the garage or in a shed, get rid of any personal belongings that are out front, and move your garbage cans and other recycling products to the side of the home or to the back where it’s not as visible. Don’t forget that the porch or front doorway entry is where the realtor and potential buyers will be standing when they are getting the key from the lockbox, so the area should be clean and welcoming.

#3: Hello, color.
Head over to your local garden center and stock up on flowers to brighten up your yard, as well as your walkways. Use large pots and other hanging baskets for added color around your front doorway, porch, or patio. New bark dust can also freshen the space and help reduce weed growth. A little bit of color goes a long way and if you invest in perennial flowers, the new owners will be able to enjoy the beauty in future years.

Remember that your yard is part of the overall ambiance of your home. When prospective buyers see your home, think about what memorable impression you want them to have. The better the home shows, the better chance you have to sell your home with ease.

Ready to talk through listing your home this fall? I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process and can provide tips on the whole process, including what you should do to get your interior and exterior ready. 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 7, 2018 at 11:06 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How your credit score affects your mortgage

If you are considering stepping into the housing market to purchase a home, chances are, you are doing some research on mortgage rates and what it takes to obtain a home loan. Figuring out what the mortgage rates are right now and figuring out how you can get the lowest rate possible is an important part of the home purchasing process. There are several things that determine what your mortgage rate is and your credit score is one of the primary things that lenders will look for before they loan you money.

What is a FICO credit score?
This is a credit score that is determined by FICO, a company specializing in predictive analytics, which is used to analyze and predict future happenings. For credit scores, the company uses a variety of credit information to develop scores that will help lenders predict consumer behavior, including how likely it is for the person to pay bills on time and if they are able to handle a large mortgage or credit line. Your credit score is based on several factors including your payment history for all accounts, the amount of debt you currently have, how long you’ve been using credit, and what types of credit you use.

There are several minimum requirements to receive a credit score, including at least one credit account opened for at least six months. If you have a poor credit score, there are several things you can do to help improve it. First, bring active past due accounts current and keep on top of paying things on time. Keep credit card balances as low as possible and limit your applications for new revolving debt such as credit cards. (1)

Can you get a mortgage with a low credit score?
You can generally obtain a mortgage if your credit score is poor, but keep in mind that you may not get the lowest rate available.  However, if your score is below 580, it may be difficult to get a loan approved. The higher credit score you have, the more likely you are to get a lower mortgage rate. Raising your credit score even by 20 points or so can really help in getting a better rate.  For some people it’s best to wait to buy a home and improve your score and work on financial planning before you apply for a home loan.

A home purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your lifetime. Maintaining good credit, paying your bills on time and managing your overall finances with responsibility are all important things to have figured out before you take on a large home loan.

When you’re ready to take the leap to home ownership, 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 the whole process. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

  1. American Reporting Company. FICO Source Overview. Accessed via Lynn Posselt, Penrith Home Loans, NMLS#41393.
Posted on July 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

Winter Retreat Ideas

Wintertime in the Pacific Northwest is often cold and wet, but this year, we’ve had a comparatively mild winter and many folks are considering heading outside to explore the area they live in. Winter retreats or getaways are a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of regular life and get caught up on some necessary rest and relaxation. Here are some of my go-to places in the Pacific Northwest that help me recharge!

Hood River:
This area has beautiful views of the water and lots of fun things to do. It’s full of amazing hiking and walking trails that offer breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge. There are also several wineries and vineyards that are fun to explore, as well as some great dining spots. There are a variety of vacation rental homes available or stay at one of the several in-town hotels, such as the historic Hood River Hotel.  No matter what you do here, you’ll be surrounded by quintessential Pacific Northwest stunning scenery.

Skamania Lodge:
This is another great place to unwind. It’s only a short drive from Clark County and the lodge is surrounded by forest greenery and overlooks the Columbia River Gorge. The lodge is known for their outstanding weekend brunch – it’s one that you won’t want to miss! Many of the rooms have fireplaces, so if a book and a cozy blanket by the fire sounds nice for your retreat, you’re in luck. Or, venture out to one of the nearby walking trails or take a short drive to Multnomah Falls to walk around.

Oregon/Washington Coast:
If escaping to the ocean is one of the ways you can best relax, you’re in luck with many different beach options. Rockaway Beach, Long Beach, Ocean Shores, Seaside, or Cannon Beach are all great options when it comes to a winter retreat. Wintertime at the beach can sometimes be rainy and stormy, but the smell of the ocean air is invigorating, no matter what. Stay inside and read or watch some of your favorite movies if the weather is stormy, and when the weather settles down for a bit, head out for a beach walk and some famous coast clam chowder.

Clark County:
Of course, if you need a retreat but your budget doesn’t allow for any overnight getaways, there are great ways to relax in the comfort of your own home. Unplug your laptop and your phone for a day or two and recharge without any electronics. Focus on doing some things that you love doing locally, even if it’s just sitting at home with your favorite warm beverage and catching up on reading your newspaper or watching some of your favorite shows.

No matter how you decide to take a break from the stresses of every day life, setting time aside for yourself to recharge is important and a winter retreat will do great things for your soul, body, and mind!

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 9:57 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home, Vancouver History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,