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Check back often for new posts, updates on events and local activities and advice on buying or selling Portland real estate, condos, homes and properties.

Feb. 15, 2019

Historical Buildings, Worth Protecting or Just Old?

Portland is rewriting its historic preservation rules to determine what's worth protecting and what's just plain old. For a quarter of a century, the city has used the National Register of Historic Places as the main guidepost of what's protected from demolition or radical renovation. But preservationists have a problem with that approach claiming that adding a property to the register is too slow and costly to effectively protect all the buildings that are worth saving.Historical homes in portland

Affluent neighborhoods such as Eastmoreland and Laurelhurst, have nominated themselves as historic districts to avoid any home demolitions regardless of the condition. This is led to a higher density of populations in these neighborhoods, which technically subverts the city's density goals.

While the government doesn't have any restrictions on the use or demolition of the property on the register, the city does. Alterations to certain properties are prohibited and demolitions must be preapproved by the City Council. Basically, they're looking for locals to make the decision on whether or not a building qualifies for historical purposes. This would allow the city to designate its own landmarks and districts, instead of requiring the owner's consent for historic designation. This means a rewrite of the local laws as they are now. Protections for districts and buildings that are already listed in the National Register would not be affected but the proposed code doesn't mean anything for those that want their entire neighborhood preserved.

For instance, new laws would eliminate parking requirements for designated historic resources and allow owners to divide single-family homes into several apartments. The rule would also allow property owners to build additional structures on the property and some historical commercial buildings can be used for business even if they are in a residential zone.

This would also open up historical buildings to more people than if they were just private or single-family houses. The more people that use the system the more successful the program will be. This new city code would basically have two levels of protection rather than the one system for the National Register. The less restrictive conservation landmark or district is for a collection of buildings and the historic landmark or district would require City Council approval to demolish any historical buildings and alterations.

Currently, properties on the inventory are subject to a 120-day demolition delay but owners seeking to demolish buildings instead have simply remove the property from the list. This would rewrite the rules eliminating the ability of owners to remove their property from the list. [Source]

We sell a lot of historical homes throughout downtown Portland and many people are looking for these types of homes specifically for the protection they provide.

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Posted in News and Media
Feb. 11, 2019

Outdated Mortgage Advice to Forget

Buying a home is probably one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make and signing all of those loan documents can be scary but it's important to understand some mortgage truths as there is a lot of information out there and it might not be accurate. Even things that worked in 2018 may not work in 2019. So let's debunk some of the myths and filter through some of the outdated mortgage information.Outdated Mortgage Advice to Forget

A 30 year fixed interest rate mortgage is the best option.

Nowadays, there are so many different programs and options, especially for first-time homebuyers that the typical 30 year fixed rate mortgage may not be the best one for your needs. Any people are not buying there forever home right out of the gate so 30-year mortgages may not be necessary. Buying a starter home, building some equity, and then turning that into a larger purchase in a few years can be a great steppingstone for first-time homebuyers. Going with a five or seven-year adjustable rate mortgage could possibly save a few hundred dollars each month in a mortgage payment and then if you plan on selling within the next five years and cashing in your equity, you can do so before the interest rates adjust.

You have to make a 20% down payment.

Now, while this is not necessarily 2018 rulings, the 20% down payment is really a myth that most homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers don't need to live up to. Most first-time homebuyers use an FHA loan with a low 3.5% down payment or even check out down payment assistance programs so that is literally no money out-of-pocket for your first home.

Hold off until interest rates drop.

I hate to break it to you, but interest rates are not going down. However, they're not dramatically increasing either but they are going up at a steady rate. For 2019, we're probably at the lowest end of the interest cycle so basically, whenever you read this, now is the time to buy.

Local lenders are the best.

Often, people walk into a bank and speak with a loan officer, but times are changing and things like Rocket Mortgage, Affordable Housing Programs and other online options or making it easier for buyers to find the right loan and program for their needs. Research shows that about 32% of Americans are applying for a mortgage digitally rather than in person.

Pay off your mortgage as quickly as possible.

Dave Ramsey is all for this, but it may not be the biggest goal. Paying off your mortgage early may not save you a whole lot of money and you might use that money for repairs or other financial needs instead of paying down your mortgage. And besides, if you're planning on upgrading your home in a few years, paying it down now may not give you as much equity as you hoped.

The mortgage industry in 2019 is definitely different and there are so many different options that it definitely pays to shop around. And that's the real take away from this… Shop around. Mortgage lenders are vying for your business and they will definitely work hard to offer you the best rates and service.

If you'd like more information on our reputable lenders and find out what options are available to you please contact us below at any time.

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Posted in Finance
Feb. 8, 2019

How to Prepare Your House for a Home Inspection

How to Prepare Your House for a Home Inspection

If you've recently accepted an offer on your home the next step is usually the home inspection. If you're starting to stress out about this step, there are some ways to prepare it your home and yourself for this part of the buying process.

#1. Ask any and all known issues.

If you haven't already done this when you listed your property, now is the time to go through and make sure that every outlet and switch has a cover and works, light bulbs are all replaced, any little minor patches such as holes in the walls and doors are taken care of, leaky faucets and hoses are fixed, and all in all, the basic minor repairs are taking care of.

#2. Remove clutter and make sure the inspector has a clear path to everything.

The home inspector will need to move around the home freely so make sure they can get to the attic, crawlspace, hot water heater and furnace, windows, doors, and all outlets.

#3. Provide any documentation on repairs and maintenance.

If you have done any major repairs or replacements have documentation ready to inform the inspector. Many inspectors will actually ask the homeowner if there's anything they need to know about that might not be instantly revealed on a home inspection. Be honest with the inspector and tell them everything you know. You might not always get to accompany the inspector, especially if the buyer is inspecting the home as well. In this case, leave a note about anything that the inspector may not see or notice.

#4. Turn on the lights.

If you know you're not going to be home when the home inspection happens, turn on all of the lights in the house and open all the doors.

#5. Clean the house.

Your buyer will probably accompany the inspector through the house so you'll want to keep the house clean and clutter free.

#6. Make sure all electricals and utilities are connected.

The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, turn on the washer and dryer, and test the furnace and air conditioning so make sure you don't leave any utilities turned off even if the house is vacant. Also, make sure the water has been turned on.

#7. Keep all pilot lights ignited.

Most inspectors don't carry enough insurance to be covered in case there is an issue or liability of risk by restarting a pilot light.

#8. Leave any keys or entrance items accessible such as for outbuildings, garages, and electrical boxes.

#9. Take pets with you.

Most inspections last between two and four hours and the buyer will usually accompany the home inspector so create your pets or take them with you and cover over any cages with a blanket.

Preparing your home for a home inspection can seem a little bit daunting but remember, this is just one of the steps to get your house sold.

Related: 

Do Sellers Have to Fix Everything on a Home Inspection Report?

Homeowners shouldn't neglect the staircase inspection

5 Signs You May Have Hired the Wrong Home Inspector

Posted in Selling
Feb. 1, 2019

How to Be Ready for the Spring Real Estate Season

It's often said that the Super Bowl weekend is the kickoff to the spring real estate season, so don't be surprised if you see an uptick in showings next week if your house is on the market. But what if you're a buyer? How can you prepare for the real estate season?How to Be Ready for the Spring Real Estate Season

If you've been hitting the snooze button on the possibility of buying a new house this season, now's the time to kick it into high gear. First things first, make sure you are preapproved for a home loan unless you're buying the house with cash. Speak to a lender that you trust and shop around for the best mortgage and interest rates. Trust me, lenders do compete for your business so if you let them know you are shopping around, they'll likely give you the best deal possible.

Once you have an idea of how much home you can afford, ask the lender for a pre-approval letter. This will be presented to sellers with an offer stating you have done your financial homework and can financially afford the property. This will also give you a better idea of your price range. I suggest looking for homes about 1% to 5% lower than your maximum budget. This will give you a little extra wiggle room in your monthly payment. Also, don't neglect homes that might be out of your price range, especially if they've been on the market for some time. Sellers may be more motivated to take a lower offer, putting you back into your right price range.

Make sure you understand what it is you're looking for. Don't just go blindly without looking at every single house; you'll waste your time and your buyer's agents time. Have a good list of requirements, mandatory things, and tolerable items. If you know you want to three bedrooms, don't even look at homes with less than three bedrooms. If you know you're looking for a house close to a school district, restrict your search to that area or zone. Talk to your real estate agent about your requirements and let them do the searching for you.

Sign up for notifications. Most of us don't have hours every day searching to the MLS, unless of course you are a real estate agent, so let the MLS come to you. Sign up for free notifications when a home that matches your search criteria hits the market. You can be notified by text or email, and then directly connect with me and let set up a showing.

Drive by the home. I often recommend having my buyers drive by the home before scheduling an interior tour. This will let you know what the neighborhood looks like, how long it takes you to get to and from the property, and if it's even worth looking into further. A lot of times simply driving by the property will give you a good idea of whether or not you're interested further.

Be ready for the spring real estate buying season I get started today. If you need a lender, give us a call. We have great connections and can help you find the right property for your needs and your budget throughout Portland and Vancouver.

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Posted in Buying
Jan. 28, 2019

New Construction Happening in Tigard

There are several new construction projects going on around Tigard Oregon. Here's some of our favorites.New construction in Tigard

Burgundy Ridge. Built by Stone Bridge Homes Northwest, these homes are located on Bull Mountain with beautiful panoramic views of the valley. These homes are priced starting at about $720,000 and feature large four and five bedroom floor plans, three luxury designs, and in sizes up to 3500 ft.². Residents are part of the Tigard Tualatin school district and are assigned to the Alberta Rider elementary school, Twality middle school, and the Tualatin high school.

Madeline Heights. Built by Lennar, this new home community is almost sold out. There are several home designs to choose from with two-story layouts and a two-car garage. Homes are priced from $580,000 and feature 3 to 5 bedrooms in sizes from 2500 ft.² to nearly 3500 ft.². Residents are part of the Tigard/Tualatin school district and attend the same schools as Burgundy Rich.

Willow Brook. Built by Pacific Lifestyle Homes, there are several quick move-in homes available and 21 new home designs ready to be built. These are priced from $490,000 to about $690,000 in sizes from 1700 ft.² to 2900 ft.². Willow Brook is located near Interstate 5 and Pacific Highway, surrounded by several amenities such as Bridgeport Village, restaurants, parks, and more. They've already started to sell out. Residents will attend the James Templeton elementary school, Twality middle school, and Tigard high school.

These are the most prominent new construction subdivisions in Tigard but there are others and surrounding communities like Tualatin and Lake Oswego. For more information please contact our office today. We can send you an updated list of all current homes for sale and those currently being built. (Home image by Lennar in Madeline Heights.)

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Posted in Communities
Jan. 21, 2019

What's the Difference Between a Deposit and a Down Payment?

This is a pretty common question, the difference between an earnest money deposit in your down payment.

Earnest MoneyWhat's the Difference Between a Deposit and a Down Payment?

An earnest money deposit is offered by at a potential buyer as a symbol of good faith when entering into a contract to purchase. This earnest money is a security for the buyer that the seller will not sell the property to anyone else while under contract. Although it's not necessary, it does technically mean that there's a mutual promise with both parties to buy and sell. If the buyer completes the purchase or closes on the deal, this earnest money deposit is applied toward the purchase price just like a down payment. If the buyer defaults, the seller could retain the deposit in certain circumstances, but, most likely, if the deal doesn't go through, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer.

Sellers should require a decent deposit of at least $1000 or more. Typically, the earnest money deposit is between 1% and 3% of the entire purchase price of the property.

Down Payment

The down payment is the amount of cash a buyer will pay at the time of purchase toward the property. Even though this down payment usually includes the earnest money deposit as well, the down payment is due at closing, not toward the beginning of the purchase process.

Earnest money is presented with the real estate offer or intent to purchase. It is only deposited in an escrow account once the seller agrees to the purchase and sale contract. It sits in the escrow account until closing or until the buyer defaults, the sale falls through, or the seller requires the earnest money due to negligence on the buyer's side. If the real estate deal goes through, the earnest money is collected with the down payment towards the purchase price of the home. The down payment is only deposited at final closing once the deal is guaranteed to go through. The down payment can be anywhere from 3% on an FHA loan to 20% or even more. Often, buyers selling one home and purchasing another will have their escrow and lenders roll the money from one sale into the purchase price of another so that no actual money exchanges hands at all.

Again, the earnest money is simply the first initial good faith move on the buyer's behalf to secure the property during the purchase process. If something happens with the inspection or financing falls through, more often than not, the buyer's earnest money will be returned to the buyer. If the buyer just defaults without explanation, the seller can ask for the earnest money because now the seller must relist the property and go through the process again with another buyer.

For more information, stay tuned to our blog or feel free to browse all current Portland real estate listings on my website for free.

Posted in Finance
Jan. 9, 2019

What Improvements Should I Make When Selling?

What Improvements Should I Make When Selling?

If you’re considering selling you probably want the most out of your return. Whether it’s an investment property or your primary residence, getting back a good return on investment. You probably don’t want to put in $10,000 worth of renovations if they are only going to return a $5,000 profit. Here are some of the best things to add or upgrade for an ideal return on investment.

Kitchen and Bathroom Updates

Yes, it seems we live in a granite countertop and stainless steel world these days but if you want to compete with new homes and model showrooms this is the direction you'll need to go. Not everyone loves these materials of course, but the majority of buyers out there are seeing these more and more so competing with model showrooms and hoping to get the most return from your investment may involve upgrading to these materials.

Also, simply upgrading an older or outdated kitchen or bathroom really can do wonders. You don't have to spend a lot of money to really get the look of an updated bathroom or kitchen. Kitchens will tend to be the most expensive but if you have older fixtures such as a baby blue bathtub or pink toilet, those can start to add up as you replace them with white, crisp fixtures. Lighting shouldn't be too expensive as you can get updated, brushed chrome or nickel fixtures at any home improvement store for less than $100. Flooring is also another thing that you should be concerned about. When updating the flooring in a kitchen you'll want something that does not have breaks or cracks in it such as laminate tiles or floating wood floors. Anything that water can get underneath, swell and mildew is probably not the best for a kitchen. Bathrooms as well should be one solid piece of linoleum or a grouted tile so that water, if flooding occurs, does not seep underneath. Make sure that door frames, bathtubs and edging around the wall is all sealed and caulked properly.

Read More: Is staging worth the investment?

Windows also make a great ROI

The cost versus value report estimates that the average cost to replace 10 double hung windows with energy efficient vinyl windows is about $10,000. Homeowners can recoup about 72% to 85% of that cost depending on what part of the country the home is in. Replacing Windows has so many other advantages besides monetary. New windows can add a bright and shiny look to your home, give your home and external curb appeal and can preserve the home's value by protecting siding and window frames. [Source]

Entryways

Surprisingly enough, entryways are another great return on investment. Nationwide insurance claims that only 15% of homeowners knew that the front door is one of the most common points of entry for burglars so updating the front entryway with a more secure system really appeals to buyers. Still, entry doors can be an expensive and fairly easy to install plus they carry and nearly 100% return on investments. Fiberglass and wood frame to doors will last longer but tend to be a lot more expensive.

Finding the right return on your investment can be all relative. For the Portland real estate area, buyers do want the latest and greatest in materials and fixtures so figuring out your home improvement budget and how much you want from the home can be all relative depending on the location and the style of home. Be sure to check with your local real estate agent for more information on getting the most profit from the sale of your home.

Check out all the insights about staging and improvement when selling

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Posted in Selling
Jan. 7, 2019

Is Staging Your Home Worth the Investment

 

Is Staging Your Home Worth the InvestmentIt is common knowledge that when a home is put on the market for sale, it should be in the best shape possible for the prospective buyers.  This involves thorough cleaning, removing of clutter and making sure it is well lit.  However, is it worth the extra time and investment to stage your home?

Realtors say, taking the extra step to stage a home can make a difference in how a buyer values it and the price a seller might get for it, according to the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Staging report.

The report found that 49 percent of surveyed Realtors who work with buyers believe staging usually has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home. Another 47 percent believe that staging only sometimes has an impact on a buyer’s view of the home only. Only 4 percent of Realtors said staging has no impact on buyer perceptions.

Realtors on the buyer side believe that staging makes an impact in several ways; 81 percent said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, while 46 percent said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online. Forty-five percent said a home decorated to a buyer’s tastes positively impacts its value; however, 10 percent of Realtors said a home decorated against a buyer’s tastes could negatively impact the home’s value.

From the seller side, a majority of Realtors utilize staging as a tool in at least some instances. Just over a third of Realtors (34 percent) utilize staging on all homes, while 13 percent tend to stage only those homes difficult to sell, and another 4 percent will do so only for higher priced homes. The median cost spent on staging a home is $675. Sixty-two percent of Realtors® representing sellers say they offer home staging service to sellers, while 39 percent say the seller pays before listing the home.

Realtors believe that buyers most often offer a 1 to 5 percent increase on the value of a staged home (37 percent from Realtors representing sellers and 32 percent from Realtors representing buyers). Additionally, 22 percent of Realtors representing sellers and 16 percent of Realtors representing buyers said the increase is closer to 6 to 10 percent.

The median price of homes currently listed in Portland Oregon is $423,200. So if staging a home at that price increases the value by just 3 percent, that equates to over $12,000.  The rooms that have the most impact when staged are as follows, in the order of importance:

  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Master Bedroom
  • Dining Room
  • Bathroom
  • Children's Bedroom
  • Guest Bedroom

Working with an experienced Realtor can give buyers, sellers and investors the advantage of the best way to stage and market a home.  Staging a home can give you a little more advantage in selling a home.  The impact it may have and the value it can bring is evident by both buyers and sellers.

For more information about staging, selling or buying a home in Portland or Vancouver contact us anytime! 

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Posted in Selling
Dec. 31, 2018

4 Resolutions You Should Make in the New Year

Here we are. The last day of 2018. What a weird and sometimes exhausting year it's been and I know for some it's been full of heartache and sorrow. But if you're looking forward to 2019 you may want to make some achievable resolutions. Sure we all want to lose weight but are there other resolutions we can make to just make the world a better place? Here are some I'm making this year.4 Resolutions You Should Make in the New Year

#1. Never talk about someone that you wouldn't say to their face. 

If you wouldn't say the thing to their face, don't say it to someone else. This is a part of being authentic and real. Sure, we all need to vent from time to time and rant, but these should be done in the privacy of our home with ourselves, not anyone else. Think about what you are accomplishing when you talk negatively about someone else behind their back? A bad reputation? Will that person wonder what you say about them behind their own back? It follows the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" mantra and I think it's valid.

#2. Rest.

This seems almost impossible in our hectic lives, but I am resolving to rest more in 2019. Whether that means getting an hour more sleep a night, a cat nap during the day, or taking a few more "personal days", I vow to be good to myself and consider self-care a priority.

#3. Read

Even if it's just one or two books this year, reading boosts our memory, keeps us learning, and keeps us curious. Stagnant people without a vision usually don't read. I vow not to be like that.

#4. Ask more questions.

Rather than waiting to talk, waiting to tell your side of the story or one-up someone, ask questions. I notice that really good employers and highly valued people ask more questions than they inform people. Be genuinely interested in someone instead of waiting to talk.

These may be simple but they also may be doable. Goals should achievable. However, we do have to be intentional about it and remind ourselves these things every day or so. What are your resolutions? I think if we all try and be a little kinder, this world will be a better place, even if it's just for the person we are interacting with for the day.

All the best and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted in Things to Do
Dec. 10, 2018

Page 4 - Home Values and Outdated Staging to Avoid

10 Ways Your House Could Feel Outdated

There's something to be said for timeless decorations and furnishings. Sometimes an old hutch, family heirloom, or memento, as to the charm and design of an entire room but there are also things that are simply outdated and there's not much you can do about it but replace it altogether. If you're looking at updating your house, either for sale, or you're just tired of living in the past, these are 10 things that make any house feel outdated.

Simple Decluttering Tricks to Give Your Home a Refresher

Simple Decluttering Tricks to Give Your Home a RefresherThe minimalistic approach is the newest trend in home design but it doesn't mean we have to get rid of everything. Decluttering a home, whether you are selling or not, can make you feel much better, open up your life a little bit more and make the entire house feel a lot fresher. There are some simple tips to decluttering your house.

 

4 of the Worst Home Improvement Projects for Return

If you're planning on or remodel or home improvement project the last thing you want to do is start with some projects that just don't offer you the best rate of return. You don't want to put more money in then you're likely to get out so by doing a little bit of research ahead of time, you can be ahead of the game, essentially, with finding some of the best projects instead.

8 Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home Fast!

When it comes time to list and sell your Portland home you may need to conduct some home improvement renovations or updates in order to compete with your competition. Buyers are looking for the best home for the cheapest price, and there are some ways you can improve the look of your home quickly and inexpensively.

3 Hidden House Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Home's Value

If you are planning on selling your home within the next six months you are probably wondering what you can do to maintain its value, increase its value, or simply not lose its value. Prices in the Portland real estate area are going up tremendously but if you have some issues with your home, it could damage the value. Whether you're planning on staying in your home or selling within the next year, make a checklist of these three items to verify that you're not losing the value of your home.

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Posted in Selling