Story of a Client’s Housing Adventure

This is the story of a family of four: Dad works in Portland, Mom works in Camas, and their two kids are in elementary and middle school. This family had lived in their 1966 home for 14 years and were ready for a change— they wanted more space, new features, and a change of schools.  But like many of us, they had to sell to buy, even though their equity position was a good one.  With the tight market of 2017 (predicted to be the same in 2018), they knew they might not be able to “step across” from one home to the other.

Their first job was to get their current house ready to put on the market. This included yard cleanup, carpet stretching, some minor paint touchup, and some other small things.  These to-do items were not expensive, but they were important to make the home look “crisper” and more appealing to a buyer.  In working with me on home value, we discovered the previous listing had overstated the square footage by several hundred square feet.  We knew the real square footage from a more recent refinance appraisal, so we used that to determine value.  Checking this is an important part of the buying process!

In mid-May, we launched the home on the market and had lots of showings with five offers in just a few days.  This can be quite overwhelming.  With my help, we dealt with all the complexity of evaluating these offers and selected one to accept.  Meanwhile, another buyer who just missed out, decided to write a backup offer just in case something happened with the first accepted buyer.

Now, came time for the home inspection. The inspector said there were “sink holes” in the crawlspace! So, the buyer backed out.  Now what?  Something as serious as this needed to be investigated.  We just don’t have “sink holes” in Clark County, so we believed there was another explanation.  Turns out, when this house was built in the mid-60’s several large trees were cut down and the stumps were not removed.  As they rotted over time, what was left was a hole – one particularly large one even had the trenches from large roots.  We worked with the backup buyer who understand the issue, got the holes filled in with gravel, and then we closed in late June.

Next came the question of where to move. Nothing had turned up in the target location for the next home, so these folks signed up for the adventure of moving temporarily into a rental.  They did this once we were through home inspection with the backup buyer, so they would have time to overlap and move over several weeks.  There are several places around town that will do leases shorter than a year.  Although the rental was smaller, they used the garage for storage of their many boxes. Now, finding the new house became our top priority.

It took a couple of months and we looked at many properties as they came onto the market.  Eventually we found one, got our offer accepted and negotiated home inspection items including unpermitted square footage.  The happy ending is that this family moved into their new place by the end of September, just in time for school to start and before the holidays!

Hopefully you will find this a positive story.  Yes, it took commitment on their part to go through the ups and downs of buying, selling, and moving into the rental, but in the end, this family is “living the dream” and everyone is excited about their new future in their new home.

Thank you to these special clients for letting me share their story! Where does your new home story begin? Contact me today for information on more information on what it will take to embark on your journey in buying or selling a home.

Posted on January 15, 2018 at 7:30 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Ready For the New Year: Tips That Can Help Get Your Offer Accepted

The holidays are a very busy time of year for most people, but before you know it, decorations will be put away and 2018 will be in full swing. If you’re planning to be a buyer in the new year, it’s helpful to start reading now on how to make an attractive offer to a seller in a competitive real estate market. Here are some tips that can help you make the best offer.

Tip #1: Know what you can afford.
How much do you owe in debt? What are the ins and outs of your monthly expenditures? Understanding your finances should be the first step in your home searching process, then getting a pre-approval letter from a lender will help you know what you can afford. In addition, this letter will show sellers that you’re serious about buying a home and you can put your offer in with the confidence, knowing that you can afford the monthly payment.

Tip #2: Create a stand-out offer.
When you find the home of your dreams, be ready to make a great offer right off the bat. Your agent will help you figure out what offer is the best one and will take into consideration other home sales in the area, as well as the condition of the home, and what your overall budget is.

Tip #3: Be ready to act quickly and possibly negotiate.
The Clark County real estate market is still hot, meaning that inventory is low and buyer demand is high. Because of this, buyers many times need to compete to get the home that they want. This is where working with a real estate agent is incredibly valuable. Your Realtor® will work with you on creating a great offer and will present it to the seller as soon as possible. If it’s a situation where there are multiple offers, then your agent will walk you through the process of counter-offers, if needed. The bottom line: when you find a home you love, you must be ready to act fast before it’s gone and have patience with the process, because sometimes it will take some negotiation to get your offer accepted.

Buying a home is very exciting and 2018 will be a great year to get out there and find a home that checks all the boxes on your wish list. Contact me when you’re ready to get the ball rolling on house searching so we can create a great offer that gets accepted.  In the meantime, my hope is that you have a happy holiday season that’s full of things that are warm, fun, and fulfilling.

Posted on December 18, 2017 at 7:05 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The dreaded inspection—jargon, issues, and “make or breaks”

If you’re buying or selling a home, the inspection process can be nerve-wracking for people. It often brings up questions or concerns that may be a little bit overwhelming at first. The inspection provides an overall evaluation of the home’s condition. Inspections can be complex, depending on the home and its condition. Every inspection provides a detailed look at all the working systems of a whole house. Then, depending on the home, there can be additional inspection processes that look at the sewer, oil tank, roof, or radon levels.  Doing an inspection should be written into your sales contract, so you can expect to have one from the get go.

When you’re getting an inspection, be sure to use a licensed inspector. These people need to complete continuing education courses and are experienced with inspecting a variety of different styles and homes of various ages. Your Realtor will give you advice on a recommended inspector or inspection company.

How the process works:
When a buyer gets an inspection done, the seller may not know what the results are for a couple of days. When the buyer gets the results, they will get a copy of the report and determine what they want to ask the seller to fix, if anything. Most often, the buyer has 10 days to get repair requests to the seller. The Realtor will help the buyer determine which “to-do” items are reasonable to ask for and what isn’t.

Once the seller gets the list, they are given some time to get quotes or bids on the items that need completion. Having an experienced Realtor to work with you during this process is important, as the back-and-forth process can create much dialogue. It is critical that everyone understands each other and having an agent you trust here can help guide you along through some of the confusing details. Many times, the inspection process requires negotiation and a Realtor can be an asset in this part.

As a seller, this time can be nerve-wracking, as you are waiting to get quotes done and wondering what the result will be! Your Realtor will help you decipher the requests that come in, determine what is customary, and negotiate on your behalf. Again, your Realtor will play an important role in helping you get through the many hoops that can sometimes happen with the inspection process.

Buying and selling a home requires many different steps and it’s okay to have a lot of questions along the way. The inspection process can be very involved, and I am happy to sit down and talk with you about it if you need additional clarification.

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Things That Immediately Increase Your Home’s Value

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.

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Home Buying Mistakes To Avoid

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!

 

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gardner Report 2017

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

Posted on October 2, 2017 at 11:02 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , ,

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

Key items before closing on a home

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.

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,