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

Tips For Selling Your Home During The Winter

 

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!

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 7:46 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer porch & patio decorating ideas that bring beauty & increase home value

Summer officially begins this week and the warm weather is here to welcome us into the new season. Now is the time that Pacific Northwesterners enjoy a break from the rain and can get outside to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you’re looking for some fun summer porch and patio decorating ideas that bring beauty and increase home value, here are some simple ideas to help you get started.

#1: Bring the inside outdoors.
Rugs and throw pillows can work wonders in creating a warm and inviting patio or porch space. They add color and ambiance. In addition, consider adding some umbrellas or curtained areas that can provide both privacy and shade from the scorching summer rays. In addition, if you have old furniture that you may have considered junk, it might be able to be given new life as a piece of outdoor furniture. For example, if you have an old dresser, paint it with a coat of exterior paint and put it to use as a place to pot outdoor flowers, or as a place to serve lemonade or cocktails during your next entertainment event.

#2: Lights, lights, and more lights.
Lighting makes all the difference. Flood lights are important to have for safety reasons, but when it comes to outdoor entertaining or relaxing in the evening warmth, ambient lighting with programmable battery-operated LED candles or twinkle lights are a great option.

#3: Add landscaping.
Landscaping is one of the easiest ways to add beauty to your outdoor space and it can also enhance the value of your home. Shrubs, trees, potted flowers, or fresh flowers that are planted along walkways are affordable ways to beautify your space and increase curb appeal. Group in odd numbers and mix and match colors and shapes to create some uniqueness.

#4: Upgrade windows and doors.
If your home’s doors or windows are old and outdated, they’re likely not energy efficient and could be wasting precious money each month due to leaking air in or out. Replacement windows and doors will add value and beauty in an instant! Not to mention, they can reduce noise and help maintain even temperatures throughout your home, no matter what the weather is doing outside.

I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help provide tips on what you can do to help increase the value of your home! 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 21, 2018 at 4:51 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Reasons Why Fall Is a Good Time to Buy A House

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If you’ve been contemplating buying a new home, autumn is a good time to get out there and start shopping. Spring and summer are often busiest times to buy and sell a home, but fall is a great time to start house hunting for the perfect new house. Here are some reasons why autumn is a great time to start looking for a home.

Reason #1: The holidays are coming.
Before you know it, the holidays will be here in full swing. There will be Thanksgiving dinners to plan and prepare for, Christmas shopping to start, and holiday parties to attend. For some sellers, the upcoming holidays mean they are motivated to get the house sold so they can be out of their house before Thanksgiving and Christmas come rushing in. For home buyers, using this “pre-holiday” window of time could be an advantage, where you may be able to negotiate a deal and close quickly.

Reason #2: Home sellers are tired.
People who have had their homes on the market through the summer know that they may be losing their window of time to sell. Generally, sellers need to sell their home and if they’ve been sitting on the home sale for long, they could be more willing to negotiate, allowing you to get the home for the price you want. The longer the home sits on the market, the more room you have to negotiate.

Reason #3: Tax credits are available.
Every year, tax credits are available and closing on a new home by the end of the year could equal some great tax deductions. Some of these may include mortgage interest, property tax, or closing costs, which could counter balance your taxable earnings.

Even though the inventory of homes has been on the low side all year, there are still houses on the market right now. So if you’re interested in getting out there to find your new dream home, contact me for information! Still have questions on how to get started? I’ll help you work through all the details and before you know it, you’ll be settled into your new home.

Posted on October 2, 2016 at 11:14 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,