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

Top 3 Ways To Make Your Home Look More Expensive

If you’re considering listing your home for sale, there are probably a lot of “to-do” items on your list to get everything ready to go on the market. When you go to sell your home, you’ll want to make sure you get the most that you can and that means you’ll need to make your house look great. A home that is well maintained and has great showing potential can help bring in more buyers and help you get the price that you want out of the home sale. So how do you make your home look more expensive? There are some great ways to do this.

#1: Paint.
Interior and exterior paint can make a huge difference. It gives your home a bit of a makeover and potential homebuyers often respond to a space that appears to be clean and fresh. Interior colors should be neutral, as more unusual colors like bright blue or dark purple could cause buyers to react negatively. Instead, ivory or gray could be a good choice because they are basically neutral and appear classy.

#2: De-clutter.
Your home should come across as a place of comfort and relaxation, but if it’s cluttered, it can distract people from seeing the true beauty and unique nuances that your home has to offer. In addition, rooms that are cluttered with extra items could make the space feel closed in and smaller, sometimes smaller than it actually is! As you think about moving, start going through closets and rooms and get rid of the extra “stuff” that has built up over time. Organize one area at a time and load up different bins with items you want to keep, donate, recycle, or throw away completely.

#3: New fixtures and appliances.
Updated fixtures and appliances makes your home stylish and desirable to potential homeowners because they know they won’t have to take care of replacing these items for many years down the road. Older fixtures could make the home appear outdated and if you have them replaced, it shows that you’re committed to keeping the home up with current trends. Newer appliances are also very appealing, because homeowners won’t have to worry about going out and buying something that fits the home and they will be able to rely on those appliances for a long time. This is a huge selling point and is well worth the investment.

If you’re looking for other ways to freshen up your home and update it before you plan on listing it, I’m glad to help you with what home repairs, updates, or remodels can yield the best return for you.  Give me a call today to discuss.

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 1:26 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , ,

How spring cleaning and de-cluttering can help you sell your home

Have you enjoyed the amazing days of warm, spring-like weather that we’ve had? It has been uncharacteristic of this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, so it has been a real treat! With spring on its way and our clocks officially set forward, do you feel the urge to purge and clean out your home and garage. If you’re considering selling, spring cleaning and decluttering your home will help you greatly when it comes to listing your home.  

Pay attention to the details.
Details make all the difference when it comes to making your home look and feel clean to both you and potential homebuyers at a showing. One of the most important things that prospective homebuyers notice when they first walk into a home is smell. So, if you’re cleaning your home, try to avoid harsh chemical odors or strong perfume style fragrances that can overwhelm. Instead, use products that help neutralize odors in the home and be sure that your carpets, upholstery and air ducts are recently cleaned. In addition, if you do choose to use home fragrances, choose mild scents that are comforting and familiar.

Maintain the outside.
After a long winter of rain and colder weather, it’s easy to let the outside maintenance of your front or back yard go to the wayside a little bit. When buyers first see the outside of your home, they will instantly form a first impression.  Be sure that the lawn is mowed, edged, and leaves and other outside debris or clutter is picked up before each home showing.

Clutter, be gone!
If you’ve been in your home for any number of years, you know how clutter can build up around your home. Tackle each room one by one, no matter how long it takes and get rid of everything that isn’t a necessity. If there are things you want to keep but don’t need access too, find some decorative boxes or some other storage solution to keep them handy but tucked away from sight.

Whether you have already listed your home or you’re considering that spring is the right time to get the paperwork started to put your home on the market, your home will look better, feel more spacious, and be ready to go if you follow some of these helpful hints.

Posted on March 17, 2015 at 4:28 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tips on Saving For a Down Payment

Have you dreamt of home ownership since you were young? You may have been thinking about what type of house you want and what neighborhood you want to live in. You have probably started thinking about how much money you’ll need to buy a home and saving up for the down payment is a big part of the equation. There are a few tips on how you can save up for the down payment and it may not be as hard as you might think.

Tip #1: Figure out how much you need.  
The first step to home ownership is getting a financial plan in place so you can know exactly how much you can afford and how much you will need when it comes to finding a home that meets your criteria. Review your credit and contact a local lender that can help you walk through the steps of what it takes to buy a house. Talk to your real estate agent and determine what houses are available in your price range and exactly how much of a down payment you need. Down payments usually range from 3% to 20%, which depends on the lender and what type of loan you get.

Tip #2: Save, save, save.
When you decide to make the leap into saving for a down payment, you will need to take a close look at your spending habits. In what categories can you cut your spending? Do you eat out regularly or travel on a consistent basis? Or, do you treat yourself to a fancy mocha a few times a week? Cutting back on even little things like that can put more money into your down payment account.

Tip #3: Earn extra money.
If your budget is already as tight as it can get, consider some ways to make a little extra cash on the side. Check out Craigslist for part time work opportunities or freelance gigs. Or, take on a tutoring job for a few high school or college age students in your field of expertise. No matter what your training or skills, there are probably some jobs that are simple, don’t require a lot of time, and can put some extra money in your account every month toward your goal.

Tip #4: Be patient.
Saving for a down payment is usually a process that takes a while.  When you first start, set a goal and then set some rewards or mini-celebrations as you go along.  For example, if you want to save $8,000 total, plan on a little celebration when you reach the half way mark – maybe it’s a fun weekend getaway trip or a fancy dinner out at your favorite restaurant. Celebrating along the way helps keep you excited and motivated to keep on going!

The process is well worth it and will put you on the road toward financial stability and in the end, home ownership! 

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 5:58 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,