Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you can make during your lifetime and for many people, it can cause a little bit of apprehension at first. For first time home buyers, there are many unknowns and many questions to be asked: what can I afford? What neighborhood should I live in? What will my property taxes look like? Is buying a home a worthwhile investment? These are just some of the thoughts that can happen throughout the home buying process. We’re here to help answer these questions and make sure you feel ready and excited to start your journey to buying the home you’ve always wanted. Here are some ways to take the uncertainty out of home ownership.
#1: Know what you can afford.
Before you start shopping for a home, talk to an experienced lender to find out what you can afford. They will sit down and talk to you about your income, debt or other financial obligations, and any other factors that will provide the information they need to give you a pre-approval letter with the amount that you can spend. Remember, even though you are given a set price, you don’t have to spend to the limit. If you use your full pre-approved amount, your monthly payment will be higher, and you will need to determine if that is something that you are willing to take on.
#2: Ask questions.
There is no doubt about it – the home buying process can be overwhelming at times. There are a lot of different steps involved and stacks of papers that need to be explained and signed. If there is anything along the way that confuses you, don’t ignore it. Ask questions so you can be sure you fully understand what is going on. This will help take some of the uncertainty out of the future for you. Our team has years of experience with real estate transactions and know the inner-workings of the process of buying a home. If there is anything you are unsure of, we are glad to explain it to you.
#3: Be flexible.
When you start shopping for a home, it can easily become an emotional process. You may feel a sense of urgency to purchase a home before interest rates climb, which can cause you to feel stress, and when combined with finding a house that you really love, it can be difficult to be flexible. While emotions are good to an extent, it’s important to factor a sense of flexibility into the process, too. Understand that you may not get the first home that you fall in love with, and you may need to be flexible in marching onward to find a different house. Talk to us about your feelings along the way and we can help keep reality at the forefront of your home search.
Buying a home is an exciting time. Not only does it mean you get to make an investment that will likely reap great rewards for your future, but it will also allow you to find a place that you can put down roots and enjoy for many years to come. If you are ready to set out on the path toward home ownership, contact us today to get started!
If you’re planning on putting your home on the market soon, chances are, you are crunching numbers to determine what the different costs will be. Some people may consider trying to sell their home on their own in order to save money, but this could end up being a negative in the end. Here are some main reasons why you shouldn’t sell your house by yourself.
Putting a sign in your yard or an ad in the paper will simply not bring the results that it did in years past. Experienced real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home and that means you’ll get more exposure. Looking for homes online is the primary way people search for homes today and if you don’t have the ability to promote it via a well-known website, it’s likely that the home simply won’t get the exposure it needs to bring in the right buyer.
Negotiating the right deal is a process that real estate experts have fine-tuned. You will need to plan to negotiate with the buyer and buyer’s agent, home inspectors, and appraisers, just to name a few. If you are unfamiliar in how each of these people work on the various parts of a home sale, it could be confusing for you and you may end up missing something important along the way.
The paperwork involved when buying and selling a home is very complex. There is a lot of legal verbiage as well as intricate clauses and details that many homeowners simply do not have the training to fully understand. Experienced Realtors® can explain what the language means and how it will impact you as the seller.
People may think that they can save money in the long run by selling a home on their own. But in fact, many buyers rely on a “buyer’s agent” and you often will end up paying them for their services. This means you are unrepresented by someone with expertise, while the buyer has that advantage. However, an experienced real estate agent could end up helping you get more money for your property when everything is said and done.
Before you decide to sell your home on your own, talk to us about what we can offer you. We bring years of industry expertise in real estate negotiations in addition to helping answer the abundance of questions that come up during the process of selling a home. We are glad help you start the process of putting your home on the market so you can sell it as quickly as possible and move on to your next place in a new home. We are glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure, so contact us today!
The winter season is often known as a difficult time to sell a home. While the weather might be colder and it might not be as convenient to move during the colder winter months, selling your home during this time isn’t impossible. Here are some helpful tips for putting your home on the market during the winter.
#1: Capitalize on curb appeal.
Trees have lost their leaves and things aren’t blooming as much during the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain some great curb appeal on your home. Touch up the paint on the exterior of your home, make sure gutters are cleaned out, and remove leaves or fallen branches. Purchase some pots that you can pot some plants in that could be set near your door and withstand the wet and cold weather. Make sure everything is swept off walkways and lights are on outside during dark house showings so people can see the exterior of the house well.
#2: Work with an experienced Realtor®.
Real estate agents work hard all year long and will work to get your house sold during the winter. We have more than two decades of expertise helping clients of all kinds finding a home that fits their unique home-buying requirements. We are glad to talk to you about your budget, the size and style of house you are looking for, and then find some great homes that are on the market. This will help make your home search process more efficient.
#3: Make your home warm and inviting.
Searching for houses in the cold weather is hard work! Make your home feel warm, cozy and inviting during each showing, by making sure the heat and lights are on, as well as having some relaxing music and comforting, mild scents around the house. By encouraging prospective buyers to spend more time in the home, you are giving them more opportunity to picture themselves living there!
As Realtors®, we can help you start the process of getting your home listed for sale, then help get it listed so you can sell it as quickly as possible and move on to your next place in a new home. We are glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure, so contact us today!
Owning a home requires paying for home repairs and improvements every so often. Major renovation projects, however, will take some more planning and preparation. It is very easy to go over budget on home remodeling plans, so here are some tips on how to curtail the spending but still get the updates you want.
#1: Take time to plan.
As a homeowner, there is almost always a to-do list of things that you want to complete on your home. Make a list of some of the most important things that you want changed and start doing some research on how much it will cost to change them. For example, if your windows and doors are old and inefficient, get quotes on how much it will cost to replace them and do some calculating on how this can end up saving you money in the long term on utility bills. Or, determine if your kitchen needs a full remodel and how that will impact the value of your home, or if just replacing or refinishing the cabinets will do the job. If you have a detailed plan with a specific budget set aside for it, the less chance you have on overspending.
#2: Figure out what you can do yourself.
Do-it-yourself home improvements are very desirable for many homeowners, simply because of the significant amount of money that can be saved. However, it’s important to know your limits. If you end up messing up something that you thought you could do yourself, then you might end up having to call a professional to fix it. This could cost you a lot more in the long run. Be sure to pick home improvement projects that are within your skill set and expertise and anything outside of that, hire a reputable company or contractor.
#3: Do your research.
If you want to pay a professional to undertake your home improvement projects, be vigilant on your research. Take time to read online reviews, ask questions, get details on how they intend to complete the job, and make sure you have a written estimate in hand. If you are not sure where to start, I am glad to help provide references of reputable places and people that are good to work with.
Home repairs and renovations are inevitable at some point. Make sure you have a plan of action, so you can stay on track with your budget. In the end, you will have a space to come home to that is exactly how you envisioned it. Or, if you have decided that it is time to move on and find a new home that better suits your specific needs, I am ready to help get the process started! As a Realtor®, I can help get your current home listed and sold and can help you find your next home. Contact me today so you can get the information you need to start your adventure.
Moving is a very busy time that involves coordinating a lot of details but relocating to a new city entirely adds another layer of research and planning. If you’re planning relocating to Clark County, give me a call. I can provide a lot of background information to support the following step by step guide, so you are ready to get settled into this beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest.
Step #1: Schedule a time to visit the area.
If you’re planning on a move to Clark County, set aside a time to visit the area and do some exploring. This will allow you to get familiar with where things are and what activities and amenities exist. It will also give you a chance to drive around and get a feel for what living areas might suit you best.
Step #2: Start researching Clark County neighborhoods.
Whether you love being in the middle of city living, or you are looking for something more rural so you can be closer to country life, the first step in your search is to find an area of town that is accessible to the things that are important to you. Research what places are close to public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants, activities, or hospitals. If you plan on commuting to work, determine which neighborhoods are closest and if you telecommute, be sure you know how you’ll get that done in your new location. Next, look for neighborhoods that demonstrate pride of ownership, so you can ensure that you’re in a place where homes are well taken care of and neighbors look out for one another. Not sure where to begin? I can help take you with a tour of some neighborhoods that can fit your specific request.
Step #3: Start home search.
Knowledgeable real estate agents can help you find the right home that fits your specific needs and desires. I have more than two decades of experience helping clients of all kinds helping find a home that fits their unique requirements. I am happy to sit down and talk to you about your budget, the type and size of house you prefer, and help you narrow down some options to make your search more efficient and less stressful.
Step #4: Get pre-approved.
If you’re planning on purchasing a home in Clark County, it’s important to talk to a mortgage professional early in the planning process. This gives you a clear idea of what you can afford to buy and will help you determine which loan is right for your situation. I am happy direct you to reliable companies and individuals that work in the mortgage industry to help get you started.
Relocating can be an exciting process and doing some planning ahead of time can help make the moving process go smoothly. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips before, during and after your relocation. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.
There are a lot of real estate terms out there. The good thing is: you don’t need to know them all! There are a few important terms, however, that every homeowner or potential homeowner should understand. Here, I will break down some of the most essential real estate terms.
Appraisal and appraisal fee:
The appraisal fee is a one-time fee that’s paid for the lender’s appraisal of the property. The home needs to appraise at the price the home is being listed at, in order for the bank to finance the loan.
Fixed rate vs. adjustable rate:
When you take out a loan on a property, a fixed rate mortgage will give you a mortgage rate that is set right when you take out the loan. Fixed rate mortgages won’t change. Adjustable rates, otherwise known as ARMs, generally start out at lower interest rates, but they can rise – the rates can go up and down throughout the life of the loan.
Your loan amount is the total purchase price, minus the down payment amount that you choose to put down. The loan amount can be spread out over 15, 20, or 30 years.
PMI, otherwise known as Private Mortgage Insurance, is insurance for the lender to help cover potential losses if the borrower stops making payments on the loan. It’s usually required when your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home.
Ready to get your real estate journey started? Contact me to start a conversation about what it takes to purchase or sell a home. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process, help answer questions on any terms that you need clarification on and can provide helpful tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.
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.
Planning on building a new deck? There are a few must-knows before you dive in and tackle a deck building project on your home. Here are some tips that will help you plan and prepare for a successful DIY project.
Tip #1: Research what design will work best for your space.
First, you’ll need to decide exactly where your deck should be placed. Do you want it freestanding, attached to a back door, or on the second level of your home? Research what design and style will work best. A well-designed deck will help you create a list of materials based on that design. It will also ensure that the outside area of your home is put to use the best way possible without any empty or wasted space.
Tip #2: Research the permit process.
Check out the local city building codes to see if you need a permit. Oftentimes a permit is needed if the deck is over a certain height. Be sure that you check what the total size requirements are for the city as well to make sure that it isn’t too large. When you go to sell the house and need to go through the inspection process, you don’t want to run into a problem because the permit process was not followed. In addition, you should always check to see what your Home Owner Association (HOA) rules are. Most HOA’s require approval of any outdoor project.
Tip #3: Research your material options.
When it comes to deck materials, there are a few different options. While wood is traditionally the type of material that is most used for decks, there is also composite decking that can be used. The cost is usually more than traditional wood, but if you plan on using the deck for a long time, it can actually save you money in the long run when compared to cleaning, refinishing, and replacing wood boards. Composite decking usually comes with a warranty as well, so you are covered in the event of something going wrong.
Once you have completed your research and have all of the proper tools necessary for launching into building the deck, you’re ready to get started. It’s a big project, but one that will pay off well! Having a beautiful deck is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and it will also add value to your home.
Next up in our series of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects: patio decorating. The weather is gorgeous right now and it’s the perfect time to sit outside after a long day and enjoy your patio space. Looking for some great ways to decorate your patio without spending a lot? Here are three simple ideas for creating a tranquil patio environment on a budget.
Shop around for used pieces:
There are a variety of unique used pieces out there if you look hard enough. Check around estate sales, flea markets, or other sales that are known to have one of a kind furniture and décor. For example, there are often oak barrels used for wine that have been repurposed into fantastic chairs or tables. This is the perfect touch for a vineyard-style garden or patio area. Or, look for beautiful restored or handmade picnic tables – they are gorgeous additions to any outdoor space and can be surprisingly affordable.
Summer evenings mean spending more time outside. As the night gets dark, it’s appealing to sit outside and enjoy the warm summer air. The setting sun won’t put a damper on any of your patio activities if you add the right lights. Add ground lighting around the patio area or use some creativity and hang string light bulbs around the area.
Focus on creating a gathering space:
One of the best parts about having a patio space is the ability it has to draw people together. Making your patio space a place of comfort means that people will naturally feel drawn to it and will want to hang out there. For example, wicker chairs can be found for very affordable prices at stores around town and they’re comfortable enough to invite guests to sit in for hours at a time for a fun dinner party. Add soft pillows and throw blankets (perfect for when the night air gets a bit brisk) to the chairs, then find some unique vases that you can use to put flowers in for table decoration. Add a rustic serving tray to serve desserts or drinks on and before you know it, you have a table set for a wonderful and comfortable evening of entertainment outside.
No matter how big or small your patio space is, if you try hard enough, it can live up to its lovely potential, making it a great memory making spot for years to come.
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!