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

Q & A: A Little Bit About Me!

The end of the year is almost here and to round out the close of a successful year, I thought it would be great to do a fun little Q & A style blog so you could get to know me a little better. It has been my privilege to help people find new homes and sell their existing ones this year and I look forward to serving you in 2016!

1. Where did you grow up, what brought you to the Vancouver area? 
I grew up in Oakland CA just across the bay from San Francisco.  Actually my family has been in the Bay Area since before the 1849 Gold Rush.  I came to the Northwest in 1979 with my husband and one kiddo in tow to work for Tektronix; we moved to Vancouver in 1985 when my job moved to the plant on 164th.

2. How long have you been working as a Realtor?
I've been a Realtor since 1994 and only with two companies–Lutz Snyder a very large independent and now Windermere where I've recently celebrated my 20th anniversary.

3. Share a fond or funny memory during your time as a Realtor. 
I've had lots of great experiences and met wonderful folks. . I've sold house boats, a house on the Washougal River that actually had doors on both ends to let the River through in case of a flood, and lots of homes, new and old all over Clark County/Vancouver.

4. What is the best part about being a Realtor in Vancouver? 
I love our community and the feel of a small town.  I get to meet folks who have interesting stories and wonderful families.  I love solving puzzles, and finding the right property for folks or helping folks move somewhere else keeps things very interesting.

5. Tell us about your family.
My husband was a homebuilder who passed away 10 years ago.  I have three adult children–Ken in New Jersey just across from lower Manhattan; Kathy in graduate school in Seattle, Kim a middle school teacher in Portland. 

6. Do you have any Christmas/New Year traditions? 
Our family Christmas traditions are probably just like lots of other families.  Whoever is in town, and often that is my 91-year-old Mom from the Bay Area, celebrates Christmas Eve with a nice dinner and church, then Christmas morning we do packages, and of course later in the day dinner.

7. It’s midnight and you’re hungry. What is your go-to snack?  
Oh my . . . what should I say? veggie sticks? something utterly healthy?  not really, it would usually be cheese and crackers or a cookie

8. Name one thing on your bucket list:
I would love to take my children to see at least one of the places I've been able to travel internationally especially Mongolia or Senegal.

9. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks?
My go-to is a decaf, skinny cinnamon dolce latte.

10. It's your day off. What can we find you doing?
Walking, meeting friends, catching up on my interests which include community involvement with junior high learners, or advocating for responsible spending of our USAID funds.

Posted on December 22, 2015 at 9:27 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

History of Pearson Air Field

Chances are, you have driven past the 140 acre Pearson Air Field thousands of times, but have you stopped to think about the history behind it? Pearson Air Field is the oldest operating air field in the United States with its roots dating back to 1905. It is located in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, operates completely in that area, and is the only airport in Washington that is a satellite airport. It is mostly used for general aviation, which ranges from flying clubs, gliders, powered parachutes, flight training, or agricultural aviation. You’ll often see a variety of small planes coming in and out of the airport and it can easily be seen from Highway 14 and the Columbia River.

Pearson Field is named after the first local resident of the United States Army, First Lieutenant Alexander Pearson Jr. In 1911, the first airplane landed at Pearson Air Field and a year later, a homebuilt airplane that was built on site at the Air Field first departed from it. From 1923 to 1941, Pearson Air Field was home to the US Army Air Service and in 1924, the airport served as a layover point on the Army’s first flight around the world.  In 1994, the City of Vancouver and the National Park Service partnered together to control the future of the Air Field and there are now 150T-hangars and tiedown facilities, with capacity for 175 aircraft. Today, the Pearson Air Field provides nearly 600 jobs to Clark County.

If you enjoy history as well as aircraft, Pearson Air Field is a great place to visit! Sign up for flying lessons or just walk around and learn about its unique aviation history and take in the sights.

Posted on January 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Vancouver History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year!


Well, the holidays are over, the dinner parties are done, and your company has left for a time. And have you noticed that the stores around town have moved all of the storage boxes, Rubbermaid containers, and organizational planners up to the front of the store so they are in your line of vision as soon as you enter the doors? The beginning of a new year is a great time to do some reorganization and rethinking of goals and priorities in your life. Have you thought about rethinking how you can get the most out of your living area, while making the most out of your finances? Are you tired of spending your money every month on rent, or are you done with living in a space that is clearly too small for you or your family? Or maybe your kids have moved out and it’s time to downsize?  There are a variety of reasons why 2015 is a good year to make a move. 

Listen up, buyers! Lending is loosening up and rates are low but may be on the rise in the near future, so getting the ball rolling on a new home purchase is important to do quickly. In addition, prices are still low but are steadily on the rise. So, getting into a home that works for your budget before prices go up too much is important. 

Sellers, inventory is low! That means that if you choose to list your home, you will be able to get top dollar and have less competition. Selling prices have risen nicely, so that means that crunching the numbers on what you can get for your home is certainly worth looking at. 

A new year means lots of open doors and opportunities. So, whether it’s buying or selling, if you’ve been debating on how you can make a move in the real estate market this year, it’s time to get a real estate review going. Perhaps 2015 will be a great real estate year for you! 

 

 

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

City Feature: The History of Esther Short Park

If you’ve been in Vancouver for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard about or seen events happening at Esther Short Park. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, Esther Short Park is the “go-to” place for concerts, The Farmer’s Market, and festivals. It’s the oldest public square in the state of Washington and it’s a true gem!  It was established in 1853 and its five acres includes a lovely rose garden, a large children’s playground, a 69-foot bell/clock tower, the historic Slocum House, a large green space and stage, and a large fountain system that is popular with kids in the warm summer months.

Who was Esther Short?
Esther Short lived in Vancouver with her husband Amos & their 10 kids. They “jumped a claim” near the present-day downtown area of Vancouver – the land was part of a larger area of land that was owned by American Henry Williamson. When he left for California, he left his caretaker David Gardner in charge of the land. Gardner and Amos Short began arguing over the land and Short killed Gardner, but was later acquitted of any crime. Short became a judge and claimed the disputed land for himself, but shortly after that died in a shipwreck on his way back from San Francisco. Esther Short filed paperwork to claim the land and eventually got part of the land (present-day Esther Short Park). She also owned land that is now part of the Port of Vancouver.

In the 1990s, the downtown area in general was on the decline and Esther Short Park was known for being a home to transients. It was messy and not maintained, and there was a lot of drug activity that was going on in the park. The crime rate was high there and there were a lot of 911 calls that originated from the park. However, George Propstra saw potential for the park. He donated $2 million to help improve it, then donated $1.3 million to build the bell tower. In addition, when Royce Pollard began work as the mayor of Vancouver in 1996, part of his city revitalization project included a revamp of Esther Short. The park received $5.67 million in direct aid and $220 million of capital funding. This money allowed for redevelopment of the park and the surrounding area and Pollard began hosting a series of events that showed that the park was now a great area to bring families. It took a while to rebrand the park’s image, but in time, it has been transformed into a great public area. In 2013, it was even named as one of the nation’s “10 great public spaces” by the American Planning Association.

Have you been to Esther Short lately? If not, check it out! The park is a busy place! Families and individuals from all parts of Vancouver frequent the space – whether it’s just for a simple picnic on the green space or for gathering locally grown fruits and veggies at the weekly Farmer’s Market.

Posted on August 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,