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

Reduced commission vs full rate services

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.

Posted on July 31, 2017 at 3:45 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Take a break from buying and selling & enjoy some local summer activities!

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!

Posted on July 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home, Vancouver History | 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Client Story: The Strickland Family

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. **

Posted on June 5, 2017 at 4:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the other agent looking for in a potential buyer/seller?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Posted on May 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Select A Realtor

Buying or selling a home is a one-of-a-kind adventure that is often filled with many unexpected twists and turns. Why hire a Realtor when you could figure out how to do the job yourself?  An experienced real estate broker can serve as an invaluable resource. Here’s are some tips on how to select a Realtor and what it can mean for you.

#1: Figure out how they work.
Working with a Realtor that knows you and your specific needs is key. For example, do they sit down and get to know what you’re looking for, such as schools, land, house features, or neighborhoods? This should be a personalized process that’s based on understanding and trust. Realtors offer a constructive and positive attitude during times that you may feel overwhelmed. You’re never left to figure things out on your own. And while you might want to do some leg work during the buying or selling process, your Realtor should do all of the heavy lifting for you.

#2: Ask about what kind of clients they work with.
Some Realtors work only with sellers and they’ll have assistants work with buyers. Others work strictly with buyers. Look for a Realtor that has a mix of both clients – some buyers and some sellers. This can provide the Realtor greater insight when it comes to making or receiving offers. Realtors will have a clear idea of what clients on the “other side” might be thinking and they’ll help you find ways to select the right offer or make one that the seller will find attractive.

#3: Look at their experience.
Experienced Realtors have negotiated hundreds and sometimes thousands of real estate deals and because of that, they can use their skill to get your house sold or to help secure the home you want to purchase. Your Realtor should be an ever-present mediator that is with you through the process. You don’t have to worry about stumbling through the steps in the dark, as they can leverage their experience to help get the job done efficiently.

#4: Understand their style.
Get to know the Realtor and their style. Are they quick to respond to your questions and when they do, are they thorough? Is the Realtor easy to get along with and how does their personality coincide with yours? Your Realtor’s style should be comfortable for you. Real estate is a very personal business and requires finding the right “match” – one that feels natural for you and your family.

Buying and selling your home can be an exciting time and throughout the process, your Realtor should keep you updated by providing market stats, information on how your home is performing while it is on the market, and they should also let you know when new listings come available if you’re looking to buy.  If you’re looking for a Realtor to help make your home sale or home purchase a reality, contact me today.

Posted on May 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Things to consider when buying a flipped home

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A “flipped” home is one that has been purchased, renovated or remodeled, and is now listed for sale for a higher price than what it was initially purchased for. Most often, these homes are bought by investors that are able to buy the home for a good price (often below market value), fix it up, and sell it for a profit If you feel that buying a flipped home is a good option for your family’s needs, there are a few key points that you should consider.

Tip #1: Research the previous condition of the home.
If possible, find out what the condition was of the flipped home before it was purchased and renovated. Flipped homes are often purchased as bank owned properties, which usually means they were vacant for a time, which sometimes means there are some issues that need to be tackled upon purchase. If you can find out who the investor was or what company flipped the home, you’ll be able to determine if the quality of workmanship is good. Find out if this is their first home that has been flipped and/or what type of materials they generally use in their homes so you know what you’re getting into. Your Realtor will have experience with flip companies and can give you information as to their reputation.

Tip #2: Consider your financing.
If you’re considering buying a flipped home, talk to your mortgage representative beforehand. Sometimes, lenders and certain types of loans require that a flipped home be owned for a certain amount of time before they will lend money to a buyer. If you have specific questions about what loans you qualify for, a mortgage professional can help you get that squared away before you fall in love with a home.   

Tip #3: Check for permits and get an inspection.
Many times, renovations on a home require permits or certificates of compliance. Do your research and see if the flipped home has permits on file and when they were obtained.  Again, your Realtor can help you check into this.

In addition, any time you buy a home, it’s wise to get an inspection. It’s very important to get an inspection on a flipped home, as the inspector will be able to point out any defects or problems with the home, which can save you lots of money and frustration later down the road.

Purchasing a flipped home can be a great purchase for a buyer. But, as with any big purchase you’re about to make, it requires a little research. Ask those important questions and talk to your Realtor as well as your mortgage professional. 

Posted on March 10, 2016 at 1:38 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is a Comparative Market Analysis?

homes1

When it comes to buying or selling a home, setting the right price from the get go is one of the most important steps. This requires a little bit of research as to what other homes are selling for in the area so you can judge what the value is of the home that you’re buying or selling. The market ultimately sets the value of a home. One of the best ways to compare your home to others in the area is to use a comparative market analysis (CMA).

What is a CMA?
A comparative market analysis is a report compiled by your Realtor® that provides a helpful evaluation of similar homes that have recently sold (called comparables) that are near a home that is intended to be sold or purchased. The report will give you information about homes that are similar to yours (in size, amenities, location, etc.)  that are either currently for sale, have been recently sold, or those that were listed but expired or removed from the market. A good comparative market analysis will give you the following info:

-What homes like yours are currently selling for
-The amount of time it has taken them to sell
-What prices were in relation to initial list prices

Consider this scenario:
Here is an example of how a CMA can help a family that is looking to write an offer on a home that they want to purchase. The family wants to make an offer on a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home that is 2,000 square feet, located on a quiet street with a big yard, and listed at $300,000. The real estate agent that they are working with provides a comparative market analysis that looks at 3 other properties that have recently sold in the same area. The first is identical but it is located on a busy street and it sold for $274,000. The second property is similar, except offers more square footage, some small upgrades, and sold for $315,000. The other home is the same size but has one less bathroom and needs to be updated. It sold for $265,000. After analyzing these properties, the Realtor® determines that the listing price of $300,000 is fair and recommends that the family writes an offer that is close to asking price. The family purchases the home for $295,000. It’s important to note that an experienced Realtor ® knows what criteria to use in the CMA, taking into account what an appraiser will use for loan approval purposes (ie. comparables that have sold in the last 6 months).

Have more questions about how the CMA affects the value of your home or the home that you’re looking at buying? I’m glad to walk you through the process.  Contact me today for details.

Blog Written by Brooke Strickland (brookestrickland.org)
Tips Provided by Nancy Johns

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 10:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Things To Do Before Listing Your House

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Have you thought about listing your home for sale but you’re not sure where to start when it comes to getting it ready to list? Sometimes, getting your home ready to sell isn’t as hard as you might think. Homeowners oftentimes have big to-do lists of items to complete before they put the house on the market, but in all actuality, they may not be that important at all. Here are some helpful tips that can get you started.

Tip #1: Talk to your real estate agent first.
Your real estate agent will look around your home with you and figure out what repairs you might need to do and which ones are not necessary. After walking through your home together, you’ll be able to prioritize which things need to be done right away and which ones can wait.

Tip #2: Make the repairs.
Depending on what repairs need to be done, you’ll either need to start working on them yourself or find a company or contractor to do them for you. Pay attention to the details and be sure that you get the repairs done right, otherwise you may have a hard time finding a buyer or you may end up having to pay for another repair down the road when it comes time to close on the sale of the home.  In addition, this is a good time to touch up paint, brighten up the trim inside, clean your windows, and dust in those hard to reach places.

Tip #3: De-clutter your home.
This one might take a little time, but de-cluttering will make all the difference when it comes to showing your home. In addition, clearing out unnecessary “stuff” by donating it, throwing it away, or just boxing it up for storage will make your home look and feel bigger. If you have items that you want to keep handy, find decorative storage boxes to store them inside. That way you will reduce the clutter a bit but your home will still look aesthetically pleasing.

Not sure where to begin? I’m glad to walk you through the process of getting your home ready to sell. Inventory in Vancouver is still low and homes are selling quickly. Now is a great time to list your home for a quick sale! Contact me today for details.

Tips Provided by Nancy Johns
Blog Written by Brooke Strickland (brookestrickland.org)

Posted on February 9, 2016 at 5:31 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,