How to Take the Uncertainty Out of Home Ownership

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!

Posted on February 4, 2019 at 6:11 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why You Shouldn’t Sell Your House as “For Sale By Owner”

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.

#1: Exposure.
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.

#2: Negotiations.
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.

#3: Paperwork.
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!

Posted on January 17, 2019 at 10:00 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Important Must-Know Real Estate Terms

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.

Loan amount:
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:
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.

Posted on November 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to Increase Your Down Payment

If you have decided to make the leap into home ownership, chances are, you’re thinking a lot about your down payment and what you will need to have saved for it. When you look at the funding needed and break it down into small pieces to see what actions you can take to increase it, you will likely be able to save more than you initially thought. Here are some helpful ways that can help you bulk up your down payment amount.

Know what you need.
Oftentimes, people hear that you’ll need a 20% or higher down payment, but there are other options that allow you to put less down. Lenders don’t generally require 20% down, but rather can structure your down payment to meet your needs, considering that if you put less down, you’ll have a higher payment—both in principal and interest, as well as potential mortgage insurance which protects the lender if you default on the loan at any time. When it comes time to talk to a mortgage professional about your down payment, talk to them about low down payment options that could include FHA loans or VA loans for eligible veterans or active duty military. Most lenders will be happy to sit down and help you look at the info for your total down payment amount, which can then give you a solid goal.

Get creative with saving.
If you get a raise or a bonus at work, or you get money as a gift from a parent or other family member for a holiday or birthday, don’t spend it and instead put it straight into your down payment fund. If you pay off your car, resist the urge to go out and buy a new one with a monthly payment and instead use that money for your house savings. Another helpful idea is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings on the same day each month. This is not only convenient and save you the time of manually entering the transfer, but it may make it a little easier to save, too.

If you’re ready to start a conversation about what it takes to purchase a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on November 9, 2018 at 4:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , ,

3 Ways To Improve Equity In Your Home

Buying a home is a dream come true for many people and the longer you live in it, the more opportunity you have to build equity. Equity is the difference between what the home’s market value is versus what you owe on it and with each house payment you make, the more equity you gain. Also as your home’s value starts to increase your equity also grows. If you’re looking for additional ways to improve equity in your home, here are a couple of ideas.

#1: Large down payment.
When you’re ready to buy a home, you can get a head start right at the get-go, by making a large down payment. Putting down 20% or more of the property’s value is a great way to not only add instant equity, but it can also keep your house payment lower and it will also allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance each month which doesn’t insure you but rather insures the lender against a possible loss.

#2: Shorter mortgage terms.
It’s very common for homeowners to take out 30-year loans on their home, but if you can swing refinancing your home to a 15-year mortgage, you will be able to pile on the equity and help pay off the loan quicker. Your monthly payments will be higher, but the payoff can be significant when your mortgage is paid off in half of the time. If you can’t swing the refinance to a 15-year mortgage, consider paying a little more on the principal of your loan with your payment each month or make one or two extra payments a year and apply it toward the principal. This can help you pay off the loan sooner and will help bolster equity over time.

#3: Home renovations.
There are some remodeling and home improvement projects that can help increase the value of your home and boost the equity. Replacing windows and doors, adding attic insulation, and completing a kitchen or bathroom remodel can all help with increased property value and greater home equity. There are certain home projects that do not add as much value. If you’re not sure, I’m glad to provide advice on which to-dos reap the most return.

If you’re ready to explore the option of buying or selling a home, contact me. I’ve been helping clients of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on October 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Maintenance, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Things That Make a Great Neighborhood

When it comes to buying a home, finding one in the right neighborhood is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind. Living in the area you want, in the home you want is the recipe for being a satisfied home buyer, giving you what it takes to live there for many years to come. Here are three main factors that make a great neighborhood.

#1: Schools.
Even for people that do not have kids in the school system, it’s important to know what your neighborhood schools are like. Quality schools ensure that good families want to move to that specific area, which will help increase the value of your property. Southwest Washington public schools are among some of the best in the state. Each school district employs high-ranking, award winning teachers, administrators, and support staff. Our primary districts are:

  • Vancouver School District
  • Battle Ground School District
  • Camas School District
  • Washougal School District
  • Evergreen School District
  • Ridgefield School District
  • La Center School District

#2: Accessibility.
Whether you’re a city person or someone who wants to be surrounded by forested areas in the country, making sure your home is accessible to the things you want is key. Research what places are nearby for public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants, activities, or hospitals. Consider what parks and other green spaces are around and factor in how long you will need to commute to work in your new neighborhood. If you telecommute, be sure you know how you’ll get that done in your new location. All of these are important questions to figure out answers to, so you can be sure you’re spending time at home rather than in your car traveling a long way to the places you need to be.

#3: Pride in ownership.
When you find a neighborhood that demonstrates pride in ownership, it’s obvious. Residents that keep their homes and yards maintained well will generally also value in the neighborhood and the neighbors they meet. A great neighborhood has neighbors that look out for each other, bringing them together for the betterment of the neighborhood as a whole.

If you want to explore the option of buying a home, contact me. I’ve been helping customers of all kinds for more than two decades. As a Realtor®, I can help you start the process and can provide tips along the way. I am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

Posted on October 9, 2018 at 8:08 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to Build Home Equity

Image result for home equity

Buying a home is arguably one of the largest investments you will ever make. Home ownership is a great way to build your personal wealth and one of the primary ways to do that is by allowing it to appreciate and build equity. Here are some great ways to build home equity while keeping your budget in mind.

#1: Before buying your home, save for a larger down payment.
Saving for a down payment on your home is key, but the larger your down payment is, the less your mortgage is, which could help when the market increases, and you begin building equity. The tradeoff: if you wait too long to save for a larger down payment, you may miss your window in getting the home you really want for the price you can really afford. A good lender can provide the information you need.

#2: Stay in your home.
Once you’ve found your dream home, stay put for a while. The longer you stay in your home, the more likely you’ll build equity. As the real estate market continues to rise, your equity will improve naturally, and you won’t have to do anything except enjoy your home.

#3: Keep your home maintained well.
Don’t neglect home maintenance. Keep on top of small maintenance tasks to keep the list from getting long and out of hand. For example, make sure you tend to your roof yearly, checking it for leaks or ripped shingles, schedule annual heating and cooling system preventative maintenance appointments, and keep your yard and landscaping trimmed and managed. A home that is well taken care of not only makes it better for you to live in, but it also adds curb appeal, makes your neighbors happy, and will help your home stay competitive, thereby enhancing your equity.

#4: Make extra payments.
A lot of people choose to cut their loan term to 15 years rather than 30 years, to pay off their mortgage debt. Rather than taking a 15-year loan which locks you into a higher payment, make a couple of extra payments a year that is designated to principal, not an upcoming payment. By doing this, you’ll be able to cut your mortgage term down significantly and you’ll be able to build equity faster.

Ready to start on your path to building home equity?  I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process of looking for a new home and can provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! I love working with people around Clark County, so contact me to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.

Posted on July 10, 2018 at 7:25 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Get Your House Ready To Sell This Summer

There’s nothing better than a beautiful Pacific Northwest summer. The days are longer, the sun is out, and people are outside enjoying the beautiful scenery that we have near us. Potential home buyers are also out and about looking at homes for sale, which makes it a great time to list and sell your home. Wondering how to get your house ready to sell this summer and what you need to do? Here are some helpful tips that will help sell your house and help it stand out from the competition.

#1: Update, update, update.
How old is your roof? What about your HVAC system, water heater, or your various kitchen appliances? If major household items are old, inefficient, or need repair, a savvy buyer will recognize this. For example, if your roof is more than 20 years old, chances are, it will need a replacement. It’s better to get that updated before the house goes on the market, so you won’t have to worry about it during the inspection and negotiation process.

#2: Get rid of clutter.
Cluttered homes often make the space look and feel smaller to potential buyers. Start going through your home room by room and either boxing up or getting rid of unnecessary items that are cluttering the space. Designate piles for selling at a garage sale or online and a pile for garbage or donation. The bigger and more open you can make your home feel, the better! This allows people to envision their own belongings in the space and helps them see the overall functionality of each room.

#3: Fix, fix, fix.
Are there any leaky faucets, cracks in the walls, broken handles or doorknobs, or any other small areas of damage that need to be fixed? Fix them before the home goes on the market. Anything that doesn’t work perfectly should be repaired to the best of your ability – that goes for both the interior and exterior of the home.

If you’re not sure where to begin, I’m happy to walk through your home and provide some tips on what you should do first. Once you’re ready to sell your house this summer, contact me! I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in either buying or selling a home.

Posted on June 7, 2018 at 6:13 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tricks That Offer Good Return on Investment

What does your home look like from the outside? Curb appeal makes a big difference, especially when it comes to selling your home and enticing prospective buyers to look at it. If you don’t want to drop a lot of cash on things like expensive landscaping, there are some simple solutions that can bolster curb appeal in addition to offering a good return on investment.

#1: Paint the little things.
Painting your entire home can be expensive, so instead of investing in a whole home re-paint project, work on painting smaller things on the outside of your home, like the mailbox, the home’s trim, or porch hand rails. Potential buyers will notice the attention to detail and it can help make your space look fresh.

#2: Add a welcoming spot to the front of the home.
If your porch or patio in the front of your home is lacking a sitting area, adding some cozy chairs, a small bench with some decorative pillows, and/or a little table can create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for people walking or driving by. Not only does that, it allows people to imagine themselves sitting there someday enjoying their new home and neighborhood.

#3: Clean up the clutter.
Garbage bins, recycling containers, tools, or kid’s toys should all be kept out of sight from the front of the house. If you’re short on space and don’t have a place to put these, try arranging some large pots of flowers or shrubs around the items so the clutter is out of the line of vision for people looking at your house.

#4: Mow and edge the lawn.
Trim hedges, mow the lawn, and weed flower beds. Overgrown yards are almost always an eyesore and can have a real negative impact on curb appeal. It won’t cost you any money to keep up on yard maintenance if you do it yourself, but the time you put in will pay off when potential buyers notice the beautiful yard.

Adding curb appeal and making your home look great on the outside can be simple and affordable. When it comes time to list your property, you’ll increase the likelihood of having more showings. Need other tips on the appearance of your home before you’re ready to put it on the market? My two decades of experience as a Realtor® can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County.  I’m happy to help you start your adventure in buying or selling a home.

Posted on May 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Spring Is A Great Time To Sell Your Home

The market is hot, and it is a great time to be a seller in Clark County. Potential homebuyers are out and about and are ready to put down roots in a new home. Spring is usually the most popular season for buying and selling a home and here’s why.

#1: Inventory is tight, and demand remains high.
Home inventory in Clark County is still relatively low, which means that many buyers are clamoring to get in the real estate game and find the home of their dreams. This means that there is more competition out there, so buyers and sellers should be prepared for multiple offer situations, which requires patience and plenty of discussion with your experienced real estate broker.

#2: The weather is great.
Garden flowers are starting to bloom, the grass is green and inviting, and the weather is getting warmer. Not to mention, the days are getting longer, and we have more daylight to work with, so that boosts the amount of people that can see the home during the day. The springtime brings buyers out of winter hibernation and they are generally excited and more energetic when it comes to looking at homes in person, with the goal of getting settled in before the summer heat starts.

#3: Kids can remain in school.
Moving in the middle of the year is a hassle for kids and parents alike. Spring is a great time to sell because kids can finish out the school year and you’ll be able to move, register for a new school district if needed, and have everything in place before autumn starts and the new school year begins.

If you’re ready to list your home this spring, or if you’re ready to buy and want to start looking, my two decades of experience as a Realtor® can help! I love working with buyers and sellers around Clark County and am happy to help you with the information you need to start your adventure in buying or selling a home.

Posted on May 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,