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

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

How to Select A Realtor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to consider when buying a flipped home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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