Should I list my house in the fall?

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.

#1: Demand.
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!

Posted on September 19, 2017 at 3:34 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | 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 Help Your Teenager Adjust to an Upcoming Move

Moving can be a challenging time for people of all ages, but as a teenager, it can be even more life-changing. Emotions and hormones are changing and developing and for a teen, it could feel like you’re changing everything about their life. They may feel uprooted or feel like you’ve taken the foundation out from underneath them – especially if the move is far away. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your teenager deal with an upcoming move.

Tip #1: Give them time to prepare.
Give your teen plenty of warning and time to process the move that’s coming up. Communicating about it well in advance will be helpful. It might be tempting to hold off on breaking the news to her/him, but in the end this could be detrimental, because they may feel like it’s been “sprung” on them with little time to contemplate what changes will need to happen. Keep communication open and let them know various details about the move and let them do some research on the new neighborhood or city so they can get an idea of what it will be like.

Tip #2: Give them some input.
Allowing your teen some input on the process will help them take ownership of it a little bit and it could also help them get excited about the prospect of change. Consider what your teen has to say about neighborhoods and schools, explore places in town that are popular, and make sure that their voice is heard. Allowing them to express their feelings about it will not only help them deal with the upcoming change that’s about to happen, but it will also help them contribute to decisions that may need to be made. Whether it’s decisions on neighborhood or just picking out the styles/designs in their new room, your teen wants to be heard.

Tip #3: Give them opportunities to stay in touch with old friends.
Goodbyes are not always easy. The teenage years are immersed in building friendships and one of the hardest parts of moving for your teen might be that you may not ever see your friends again. Encourage your teen to stay in touch through social media, phone calls and texts, or if you will still be within driving distance, let them know that you are committed to helping them stay in touch by driving them back to the area to visit.

Tip #4: Talk positively.
Your teen will pick up a lot about your feelings, stress, and attitude about the move, sometimes without you even knowing it. So if you want them to react as positively as possible, you’ll need to talk about the move in a positive and encouraging way.

Moving can be difficult, but communication throughout the process can help greatly. New memories are waiting to be made and a new chapter in your new home will be an exciting time.

Posted on February 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

What is the top decorating color for 2017?

In 2016, common décor colors used in homes were known to be soft, calm, and tranquil, but 2017 will bring brighter, more vibrant colors to the home decorating scene. Green has been named this year’s top color choice for decorating, which is sure to add pizzazz to any space. Here are some great ways to incorporate this color into your home’s style.

Incorporate natural greenery:
If green is the color of the year, integrating natural greenery into your home a great option to make your home warm and inviting. Real greenery throughout your home will bring new life to your space. Potted plants with brightly colored ceramic pots are great options. Or, consider adding indoor hanging succulents or other hanging plants with trailing stems for dramatic beauty in any room of your home.

Pillows, pillows, pillows:
If you don’t want embrace green completely, but you’re looking for an added pop of color, green accent pillows can be a good way to bring in the green to living room or bedrooms. Or, add green throw blankets to your couches, love seats, or beds.

Change out window dressings:
New window coverings can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room. If you’ve considered making a change to your window dressings, green curtains could be a fun option. Curtains can make a dramatic statement, even on a small budget.

Add color to your walls with new wallpaper and paint:
Wallpapers today are elegant and gorgeous, unlike wallpapers of the past that curled easily or were almost impossible to remove. If you’re not sure about using wallpaper on all of the walls, put it on just one wall, then find an accent paint color that will make the room stand out. There are some unique tropical wallpapers and other bright floral wallpaper designs available right now that could be a great way to change the whole look of your favorite room in the house.

There are lots of ways that you can integrate green into your home’s decor this year. No matter how big or small your decorating budget is, it can add distinct color and vibrancy to the space that it may have been missing before!

 

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 11:26 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When should you refinance?

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If you have lived in your home for a while and you’re considering completing a refinance, you likely have some questions as to when or if it’s the right time to do so. Refinancing is a big decision, as it requires a lot of details and time, but it can have some great benefits to it once it’s all said and done. When deciding whether or not you want to refinance, one of the key questions is to ask yourself how long you plan on being in the home. If you intend on staying in the home for several years, a refinance could be a great choice, as you’ll likely recoup the closing costs over your time spent there. For those that are looking to move in a couple of years, refinancing might not make as much sense.

Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant at HomeStreet Bank in Vancouver provides some great reasons to take into consideration on when a refinance might make sense for you.

Reason#1: Reduction in interest rate
Refinancing to lower your interest rate and payment is one of the main reasons why people choose to refinance. Hicks says, “There are still many people out there that have a much higher interest rate on their home loan than they should considering the current market. Refinancing could very well favor a lower interest rate or reduced monthly payment that reduces a person’s overall outgoing monthly debt.”

Reason #2: Reduction in loan term
If you want to pay off your loan faster, refinancing to significantly lower your loan term could be a fantastic idea. In most situations for example, if a borrower wants to refinance from a 30-year fixed mortgage to a 15-year fixed, the borrower will save a substantial amount of money in interest every year.

Reason #3: Cashout.
If you have been in your home for a while and it has gained significant equity, many homeowners choose to refinance and take cash out of the equity. Hicks says, “Some people do this to consolidate liabilities, make home improvements, or use the cash to invest in additional real estate. The ultimate goal here is to have the cash you are taking out work toward future financial freedom.”

Reason #4: Change loan programs.
If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), it can be very helpful to refinance to a fixed rate loan. Hicks shares, “ARMs carry the risk of having their interest rate increase significantly. When this happens, this can cause severe financial burden on a person’s finances.”

There are many reasons to consider a refinance, but each homeowner’s situation is different. What may work for one, may not work for another. Sit down and look closely at your home loan and what is left to be paid back and consider whether a refinance is right for you.

Posted on December 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is a Comparative Market Analysis?

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

The Closing Process: From the Seller’s Point of View

So you’ve made it through the home inspection and the appraisal on your home sale and now you only have to ‘finish up’ with the closing, right?

First of all ‘closing’ is a process not an event.  There are lots of steps involved in the last week before recording, which is actually when the home changes ownership.  As of October 3 of this year, there is a new federal set of guidelines (TRID) that involves a very complicated sequence of timed events which must be taken into account as we schedule this last week of activities.

There are two perspectives for all this: one for the seller and one for the buyer. However, they are totally intertwined.  It starts with the final approval of the loan and the generation of a financial summary of the transaction called the Closing Disclosure.  Depending on the bank (and different ones are reading the guidelines differently), this disclosure must be delivered to the buyer and acknowledged by them. After this, there is a waiting period of at least 3 and up to 7 business days.  Most lenders will not let anyone sign until the waiting period is over.  Then, loan documents are generated, sent to escrow, and the signing appointment is set up.  Both parties will sign (not at the same time) and then escrow gets clearance from the lender to record. Once recording occurs, the seller gets their funds.

This process of course gets more complicated if the buyer is getting their funds from a property sale (now there are two sets of TRID guidelines) or someone is out of town (at least one of the seller documents—the deed—must be signed ‘wet’ and the original returned to escrow before recording) or any number of logistic elements. 

Here are some tips that can help the closing process go smoothly:

Tip #1: Stay organized.
Realtors are trained to help walk you through each step of the closing process, but it is helpful to keep your Realtor in the loop in regards to packing, moving, and where you will be living during the last week of the closing process. Keeping organized will help reduce any frenzied feelings and will help save you time in the long run.

Tip #2: Be patient.
Patience is key during this process. You likely want to get things done as quickly as possible, but the closing process will take some time and if you know this going into it, you’ll be better prepared to make it through without a lot of stress. 

Thank goodness you have an experienced guide through all this—me!  We’ll work it all together and make it over the goal line smoothly. 

Posted on November 24, 2015 at 5:56 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,