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.
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.
- Information courtesy of: Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant with Homestreet Bank
- Information courtesy of: Jevon Domench of Academy Mortgage Corporation
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
The holidays are a very busy time of year for most people, but before you know it, decorations will be put away and 2018 will be in full swing. If you’re planning to be a buyer in the new year, it’s helpful to start reading now on how to make an attractive offer to a seller in a competitive real estate market. Here are some tips that can help you make the best offer.
Tip #1: Know what you can afford.
How much do you owe in debt? What are the ins and outs of your monthly expenditures? Understanding your finances should be the first step in your home searching process, then getting a pre-approval letter from a lender will help you know what you can afford. In addition, this letter will show sellers that you’re serious about buying a home and you can put your offer in with the confidence, knowing that you can afford the monthly payment.
Tip #2: Create a stand-out offer.
When you find the home of your dreams, be ready to make a great offer right off the bat. Your agent will help you figure out what offer is the best one and will take into consideration other home sales in the area, as well as the condition of the home, and what your overall budget is.
Tip #3: Be ready to act quickly and possibly negotiate.
The Clark County real estate market is still hot, meaning that inventory is low and buyer demand is high. Because of this, buyers many times need to compete to get the home that they want. This is where working with a real estate agent is incredibly valuable. Your Realtor® will work with you on creating a great offer and will present it to the seller as soon as possible. If it’s a situation where there are multiple offers, then your agent will walk you through the process of counter-offers, if needed. The bottom line: when you find a home you love, you must be ready to act fast before it’s gone and have patience with the process, because sometimes it will take some negotiation to get your offer accepted.
Buying a home is very exciting and 2018 will be a great year to get out there and find a home that checks all the boxes on your wish list. Contact me when you’re ready to get the ball rolling on house searching so we can create a great offer that gets accepted. In the meantime, my hope is that you have a happy holiday season that’s full of things that are warm, fun, and fulfilling.
Now that school’s started, you might be thinking, is this a good time to list my house for sale? Autumn brings a new rhythm — the busy summer has passed and people are getting back into their day to day routines. Here are some great reasons why the Fall season is a good time to sell.
Although the market slows a bit after school is back in session, homes are still selling quickly because inventory is still low. Especially under the $450,000 price point, and potential buyers during the Fall are typically more serious about making their purchase decision. Nationwide, buyer demands strong too, according to a recent report out of the National Association of Realtors.
#2: The weather is still cooperating.
For the most part, autumn can be a good time to move because the heat of the summer has passed and the torrential downpours haven’t begun yet. No one wants to move when it’s blazing hot or when it’s snowing! Of course, the Pacific Northwest does get its fair share of cloudy and rainy days, but for the most part, autumn weather is cooperative.
#3: It’s a great time to make your next step up.
Because inventory is still low, it’s likely that your home will sell quickly. If you’re looking to make a next step up in the home buying process by buying a bigger house, now is a great time to consider making the jump. Experts predict that home prices will continue to rise within the next year, so if you wait, your dream home may increase to a price that is out of reach.
Home shopping during the fall can be great! Changing leaves make for great natural curb appeal – homes are looking cozy and ready for the upcoming chilly weather. If the time has come for you to get your home listed, contact me today to get the ball rolling!
The strength and potential of a community is reflected in an area’s education system and we are fortunate to live in a place that values education through diverse programs and exceptional instruction. Southwest Washington public schools are among some of the best in the state. Each school district is home to high-ranking, award winning teachers, administrators, and support staff. Whether it’s science and technology programs or culinary arts classes, Southwest Washington school districts are exemplary. Here is some basic information about each of the districts in the area.
Vancouver School District
The first school in this district was founded in 1832 and since then, it has worked on pioneering innovative programs that have evolved with the times. Over the years, programs have started that engage the community and inspire young learners. Recently, a community-approved technology levy was passed and students from grade 3 to 12 will have one-to-one digital learning tools by next year. In addition, magnet programs exist at the High School level for the Arts, medical and science.
Evergreen School District
The district is home to 35 schools that are supported by more than 1600 teachers. This district is incredibly diverse with 52 languages spoken and one in four students in an ethnic minority. There are more than 26,000 students in the district. As the district continues to grow, teachers and administrators continue to charge into unexplored territory to develop plans and instructional lessons to help children expand their knowledge and connect with the world around them.
Camas School District
Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland shared in a December 2015 letter to patrons that a community wide survey found that 70% of families moving to Camas in the last 10 years did so because of the quality of the school district. In a recent poll, 84% of community members gave the district a grade A or B. (1) This school district is made up of a variety of high-ranking teachers that are involved in the advancement of each student’s personal growth, making it a close-knit educational community that is dedicated to teaching kids self-confidence, respect, and quality communication as key parts of the learning experience.
Battle Ground School District
Spanning 273 square miles, Battle Ground is one of the largest and most diverse districts in Washington that serves over 13,000 students in 18 schools. In 2010, the district celebrated 100 years operating in the community and it is not uncommon for former students to return to Battle Ground to raise their families there. There are more than 1400 highly trained staff members in the school district and there are a wide range of programs that integrate technology, vocational skills, as well as award-winning music and theater programs that received top state honors in competitions and individual performances.
Washougal School District
Washougal School District opened its first school in 1852 and has since grown to include thousands of students, including those that extend into Skamania County. The mission of this district is to develop supportive and welcoming school environments in order for students to succeed. This district is also active in the community, working with local businesses and agencies to introduce students to occupations so they not only have knowledge, but hands on, real work experiences.
The Schools of La Center are a hub of the community and offer diversified learning opportunities including Advanced Placement, La Center Home School Academy, Running Start, and much more including award-winning athletic, music, and drama programs. It is a small district that services just over 1500 students and the district boasts small class sizes and low employee turnover rate, making it one of the most well-respected districts in the area.
Similar in size to La Center, this district is a small one — one high school, one middle school, and two elementary schools. It aspires to be the state’s premier district by leveraging strong community partnerships and has been consistently one of the highest performing school districts in Clark County with some of the highest performing test results in reading and math. One thing unique to this district is that it employs full time art specialist teachers in the elementary schools, where students receive over 270 hours of high=quality art instruction during the course of their elementary career. Ridgefield is also the only Clark County school district that still offers “outdoor school”, where 5th graders have a week of outdoor, hands-on learning opportunities.
- Camas School District Website. Accessed January 18, 2016. http://www.camas.wednet.edu/superintendent/
Written by Brooke Strickland (www.brookestrickland.org)
Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools