If you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, chances are, you’ve run into some questions along the way. This is one of the many reasons why your Realtor® plays a valuable role each step of the way. One of your questions may have been what role the title company will play in your purchase or sale. In Clark County, escrow and title services are completed through the same company, but each department has different roles and tasks. Here is some helpful information that can help clarify what the title company does as well as what the differences are between escrow and title.
At the time your property is listed, thorough agents will request a preliminary title report. This will show loans, taxes (property and excise), certain kinds of personal debt (tax liens/back child support), which must be paid when the sale is completed. Of course, the total of these should be less than the purchase price of the home.
In addition, easements, road maintenance agreements, HOA information, and CC&R’s will also be on the report. These are examples of items that will stick with the property. Reading the title report will allow your Realtor® to know about any trouble spots that come with the property before closing happens. Once there is an accepted offer, the buyer and the lender are added to supplemental reports.
Escrow includes collecting all necessary documentation to allow the property to transfer over to the new owner. Escrow also will pay off underlying encumbrances (ie. Liens on the property), will place new encumbrances, and make the property transfer with the County. The escrow team will work up the costs for both seller and buyer, including pro-rated property taxes, pro-rated HOA dues, costs from the buyer’s lender, and closing utility bills that could become liens on the property (water and sewer).
While each real estate transaction is different, there are still some basic action items that need to happen with each one. The title and escrow company play a crucial role in the closing process. I will help walk you through the various steps to make sure you understand what you need to do.
We’re officially into 2018 now and it’s a great time to buy or sell your home. Contact me today to explore how to get the ball rolling.
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.
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!
We continue to hear that the housing market is unbalanced—that there are more buyers than sellers. There is no single reason for the situation we are in today. Rather, the situation has developed this way because of several combined factors that suggest that the market will not return to equilibrium any time soon. Although this varies widely by location and price range, here are some reasons that this might be happening.
Reason #1: Demographics.
The first reason for the shortfall is purely demographic. As “Boomers” age, they are not following the trends of previous generations. Many are staying in the workforce far longer than their predecessors, and because of their postponed retirement, they don’t feel compelled to downsize their living situation. In fact, almost two-thirds of Boomers plan to age in place and do not plan to move even after retirement. Without this anticipated supply of homes from downsizing Boomers, there aren’t enough homes for move-up buyers. This limits the supply of homes for first-time buyers.
Reason #2: We don’t move as often as we used to.
As an overall nation, people aren’t moving as often. After experts have analyzed mobility, it’s clear that people aren’t required to relocate as frequently for work that matches their skillset. Because there has been a drop in geographic-specific jobs, are simply moving with less frequency.
Reason #3: Builders aren’t building as many homes.
Many builders are not building as many homes as they were in the past, because of three main factors: land supply/regulation, labor, and materials. The costs related to building a home have risen rapidly since the Great Recession, and this is keeping many builders from building to their potential. In addition, to justify the additional costs, many of the homes that are being built are larger and more expensive, which makes it difficult for many first-time home buyers that cannot afford the price of a newly constructed home.
So, what should you do in this kind of market? My advice is to focus on what works for your specific needs and if you want to explore what your options are, give me a call. I’m always up for a discussion about which approach might be right for you.
**Content an excerpt from blog posted 8/2017 by Mathew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate
The inspection process: generally speaking, this is an overall evaluation of a home’s condition. If you’re not clear on how the process works, keep reading and I’ll lay out the general guidelines of what happens.
When the buyer gets the inspection done, the seller might not know what the results are for a few days. Once the buyer gets the results of the inspection, they need to get a copy of the report, digest it, and determine what they want the seller to fix, if anything. Most of the time, the buyer has 10 days to get any repair requests to the seller. In order to expedite things, the agent should help the buyer determine what is reasonable and what’s not.
Once the repair list is drafted, the seller has time to look at it and digest what’s on it. They can clarify what’s being asked for and they’re given some time to get bids and determine what items they should fix. An agent to help with this part of the process is crucial. An experienced agent will help provide information on what buyers generally ask for and what could be determined as “too much” or “over the top.” The seller will then respond and then the buyer will decide if they will accept this response.
The back-and-forth process can create a lot of dialogue and it’s very important that everyone understands each other. Whether it’s credits to the buyer or items that need to be completed before closing to meet buyer bank requirements, your agent has valuable experience in the negotiation process here. Take advantage of this experience and rely on your agent to help guide you along.
Buying and selling a home is full of many different steps and details. The inspection process can be complex, so if you have more questions about it, I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about it.
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!
The process of buying or selling a home is very detailed and requires a lot of moving parts. Once the end is in sight, you’ll need to prep for closing day. Planning for closing day can help make things run a little bit smoother. So whether you’re a buyer or a seller, here are some important must-knows on what you’ll need to have in place for closing day.
For the seller:
- Repairs will need to be done and receipts obtained
- Before closing can happen, all repairs that were requested during the selling process will need to be complete. Once everything has been done, be sure that all of that is documented well and that you have all receipts readily available.
- Be ready for a buyer walkthrough
- Once repairs have been completed, the buyer will likely want to do a walkthrough to make sure everything looks in order.
- Arrange for your utilities to turn off
- Call your utility companies, cable/Internet company, and any other services that will need to be turned off and transferred to your new residence. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t cancel your homeowner’s insurance on your current address until the final sale of the home has been recorded.
- Gather all brochures, keys, garage door openers, etc.
- If you have collected brochures/manuals on specific appliances in the home, or you have other important documents that need to be left for the new homeowner, make sure you have those readily available. In addition, you’ll need to leave them the keys to the home, mailbox, and any garage door openers you have.
- Sign documents
- This is the biggest step that transfers ownership and gets the process moving toward completion! It can happen several days before the “closing date.”
For the buyer:
- Obtain receipts for completed repair work
- If repairs were done in the home you’re purchasing, make sure you get all of the receipts and warranties associated with the work that was done. Keep these in your records in case you need to refer to them later or in case something goes wrong with the repair down the road.
- Do a walkthrough
- This is your chance to make sure that the repairs were done right and that things are good to go so you can move forward with signing closing papers.
- Set up utilities
- Call your utility company and schedule a time when you want water/electricity to come on. While you’re doing this, schedule a time for Internet/cable service to be hooked up, or any other services that you will need ready to go when you first move in.
- Sign any last minute lender information
- This is an important step! You will need to sign a closing disclosure that needs to be acknowledged to start a 3-day waiting period before you can sign final closing documents.
- Sign documents at escrow
- Here, you’ll sign papers that allow you to complete the home buying process. After the sale is recorded, you’ll get keys to your home and you’ll be able to start moving in!
If you’re confused about which step comes next, don’t worry! I will be there to walk you through the process. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, contact me today for information on how I can help.
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.