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

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

Guide to Relocating to Clark County

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.

Posted on December 5, 2018 at 5:51 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Yard Staging Projects That Can Help Sell Your House

When it comes to selling your house, first impressions really matter.  If you are spending time to ensure the inside of your home is in pristine condition, you should also put some time and effort into making your yard look great too. After some hard work in the yard, your efforts can pay off. But what to-dos will reap the most reward? Here are some yard staging projects that can help sell your house.

#1: Lawn clean-up.
Imagine driving up to a home that you’re thinking about buying and seeing that the lawn is overgrown and full of weeds. Not the greatest first impression, is it? If you have grass in your yard, potential buyers will notice how it’s taken care of. Be sure to keep it cut short and invest in having a landscape team professionally edge it.

#2: Goodbye, clutter.
The outside of your home should look as clean and tidy as possible. Stash kids toys and bikes in the garage or in a shed, get rid of any personal belongings that are out front, and move your garbage cans and other recycling products to the side of the home or to the back where it’s not as visible. Don’t forget that the porch or front doorway entry is where the realtor and potential buyers will be standing when they are getting the key from the lockbox, so the area should be clean and welcoming.

#3: Hello, color.
Head over to your local garden center and stock up on flowers to brighten up your yard, as well as your walkways. Use large pots and other hanging baskets for added color around your front doorway, porch, or patio. New bark dust can also freshen the space and help reduce weed growth. A little bit of color goes a long way and if you invest in perennial flowers, the new owners will be able to enjoy the beauty in future years.

Remember that your yard is part of the overall ambiance of your home. When prospective buyers see your home, think about what memorable impression you want them to have. The better the home shows, the better chance you have to sell your home with ease.

Ready to talk through listing your home this fall? I have more than two decades of experience as a Realtor® and can help you start the process and can provide tips on the whole process, including what you should do to get your interior and exterior ready. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

 

Posted on August 7, 2018 at 11:06 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How your credit score affects your mortgage

If you are considering stepping into the housing market to purchase a home, chances are, you are doing some research on mortgage rates and what it takes to obtain a home loan. Figuring out what the mortgage rates are right now and figuring out how you can get the lowest rate possible is an important part of the home purchasing process. There are several things that determine what your mortgage rate is and your credit score is one of the primary things that lenders will look for before they loan you money.

What is a FICO credit score?
This is a credit score that is determined by FICO, a company specializing in predictive analytics, which is used to analyze and predict future happenings. For credit scores, the company uses a variety of credit information to develop scores that will help lenders predict consumer behavior, including how likely it is for the person to pay bills on time and if they are able to handle a large mortgage or credit line. Your credit score is based on several factors including your payment history for all accounts, the amount of debt you currently have, how long you’ve been using credit, and what types of credit you use.

There are several minimum requirements to receive a credit score, including at least one credit account opened for at least six months. If you have a poor credit score, there are several things you can do to help improve it. First, bring active past due accounts current and keep on top of paying things on time. Keep credit card balances as low as possible and limit your applications for new revolving debt such as credit cards. (1)

Can you get a mortgage with a low credit score?
You can generally obtain a mortgage if your credit score is poor, but keep in mind that you may not get the lowest rate available.  However, if your score is below 580, it may be difficult to get a loan approved. The higher credit score you have, the more likely you are to get a lower mortgage rate. Raising your credit score even by 20 points or so can really help in getting a better rate.  For some people it’s best to wait to buy a home and improve your score and work on financial planning before you apply for a home loan.

A home purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your lifetime. Maintaining good credit, paying your bills on time and managing your overall finances with responsibility are all important things to have figured out before you take on a large home loan.

When you’re ready to take the leap to home ownership, 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 the whole process. I love working with people around Clark County and am glad to help you with the information you need to start your adventure.

  1. American Reporting Company. FICO Source Overview. Accessed via Lynn Posselt, Penrith Home Loans, NMLS#41393.
Posted on July 25, 2018 at 5:21 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,