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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.

May 20, 2019

How to Determine Closing Costs

Determining Closing Costs on Portland Real EstateHow to Determine Closing Costs

Closings costs figures vary from buyer to seller and may vary depending on the specific transaction but more often than not, many figures remain the same no matter what the transaction.  Many buyers can be offered a “No Closing Costs” loan but this is just not true as no matter how a mortgage lender may spin it, they are paying for the costs in some way.

Closing costs can be built into the price of the home if the appraisal can come in higher than the purchase price to cover the extra expenses.  Regardless of how creative your lender or the buyer’s Realtor can factor in the costs, they still must be paid when selling a property.

Related: Should you offer less than asking price with an all-cash offer?

in real estate, buyers and sellers split escrow fees.  Sellers pay the title search costs and the conveyance tax. Buyers pay title insurance premiums for the owner’s and lender’s policies. Here are some of the typical fees built into the overall figure that is the sellers Closing Costs:

  • Brokers Commission – Or Flat Fee
  • Transfer Taxes – for transferring the property from one owner to another
  • Documentary Stamps on the Deed
  • Title Insurance – Split evenly between buyer and seller.
  • Escrow Fees – Seller pays 60% and the buyer pays 40%
  • Property Taxes – Prorated depending on when they are due and time of year sold. Basically, any property taxes (local, school & county) that were paid by the seller for the time the buyer owns the home will be reimbursed to the seller. However, if the real estate taxes were not paid by the seller during their ownership, then the seller will be expected to pay this cost to the buyer.
  • Any buyer’s closing costs the seller has agreed to pay.

Some of these fees are set and others are negotiable. A seller may offer a buyer an incentive on paying points down for the buyer’s loan. This may mean more out of pocket for the seller at time of closing but can mean a higher purchase price overall.

As a seller, you are allowed to choose your escrow and title agency. Your Realtor® offers reputable company choices we have worked with for years and know that they can handle any job and be clear and precise about the details. The buyer will typically write the earnest money check to the Real Estate broker or the Escrow Company and the funds will be included in the final credits to the buyers.

Related: Understanding the costs related to selling real estate

For more details on the exact closing costs for your home please give us a call. We can go over the numbers in detail with you and write up a net proceeds from the sale of your home to give you a comfortable sense of where all the funds would be placed.

Posted in Buying
May 9, 2019

Secret Tips to Finding Great Investment Properties

If you're looking for the perfect investment property you do have to do a little bit of research but there are secrets to finding the best property for your needs. Whether you're looking in Tigard or Vancouver, downtown Portland or Beaverton, finding the perfect investment property is not as difficult as you might think but it also helps to know exactly what you are looking for. Are you looking for a property that you can cash flow and gain monthly income as in a rental or are you looking for something to put in a little bit of work and turn around and sell it for a return on your investment? In any case, there are some secret ways to find great investment properties.Secret Tips to Finding Great Investment Properties

Use the Internet

Obviously using the Internet helps you search and enter the type of real estate you are looking for along with the city where you want to invest. This is probably one of the most common and of course, not that secretive.

Look for "for sale by owner" signs

Owners often don't want to pay and list their advertisement every week or pay commissions so driving around the neighborhood or area you want to invest in looking for these types of properties can be a great way to find the perfect investment.

Look for abandoned properties

If you drive through the neighborhood of your choice you might find houses with tall weeds in the front yard or signs on the front door showing there's probably no one home. This is a clear sign that the owner doesn't want to deal with the property and might sell it for cheap.

Find old "for rent" adds

You can look in the local newspaper for rental adds that may have been listed for a long time. If the rental at a several weeks old landlords may be ready to sell.

Connect with a great real estate agent

Sometimes the key to finding the perfect investment property is to have a close relationship with an investment type of agent. This agent understands the market in different areas and can help you find the right property for your needs.

Eviction notices

Local newspaper sometimes will publish eviction notices and you can get information online or at the courthouse. This could be a potential seller, especially if it's a landlord wanting to offload their property.

Put an ad in the paper

The newspaper is a great place to find a property but it's also a good way to advertise for a property. Placing an ad on Facebook or in local newspapers stating that you'll buy a property in any condition might be the incentive someone needs to get rid of their property.

For more information or get a list of investment properties in Portland that might meet your search criteria please give us a call.

Should You Make Your First Home an Investment Property?

5 Terrible Real Estate Investments

Posted in Buying
May 6, 2019

5 Unique Ways to Get Your Home Sold

Selling a home in any market does take a little bit of effort but if you had a property on the market for longer than you'd like you may be looking at some unique or creative ways to market that listing. In order to get the right buyer in the home, you may be trying a lot of different tactics, some of which could be working and some may just be giving your money away. While each home is unique, there are tactics that do actually work to getting your home sold, more than simply pricing it right and staging. Here are five creative and unique ways to market your listing to get more buyers in the door and more offers on the table.

#1. Increase the commission.5 Unique Ways to Get Your Home Sold

Talk to your listing agent about increasing the buyer's agent commission. You can technically pay the buyers agent any type or percentage of commission you want so increasing it to maybe 4% instead of the standard 3% could get more buyers agents to encourage their buyers to look at your home. However, this may mean dropping the listing agent's commission down to 2%. To talk to your agent about the possibility of boosting the buyer's agent commission.

#2. Educate sellers on a buyers market.

Ask your homeowner do you want to leave the market or follow the market? Homeowners that want to sell fast want to lead the market and we need to explain how to do that in a competitive market. You have to be serious about pricing, staging, and presenting your home instead of pricing it high and hope it sells.

More: How to make a good impression when selling

#3. Consider a home auction.

Yes, this is kind of dramatic, but it is also a great way to get in some serious buyers. Real estate auctions are gaining traction with revenues increasing 39% over the past three years and homes are selling at all price ranges even in an auction market. Sometimes, the final price could be way above market value but it is something you need to decide with your agent whether or not this is a smart tactic.

More: How to Boost Your Home's Price by 30%

#4. Consider helping with financing.

A lot of buyers may not qualify for a standard mortgage so offering to pay for closing costs, offering lease to own transactions or even financing the property themselves could be a good way to get the right buyer in your home. Again, this is something to discuss with your agent and your real estate attorney to find out if it's even a possibility.

Related: What if you feel your house is too ugly to sell?

#5. Let your house do the talking… Literally.

You probably have a for sale sign in the front yard and maybe ads in the newspaper but try a little high-tech advertising. Using a Talking House radio transmitter will allow you to record a customized message that buyers can tune into when they drive by the home. It's just a unique way to stand out and something the buyers will remember, potentially leading them to learn more about the house.

If you've been on the market for a long time it may just be a matter of finding a new agent to list and market your property. If you'd like more information or are doing some research before listing at all, give us a call. We'd love to talk to you about the potential your home could have and how much profit you can walk away with.

Contact Me Today

Posted in Selling
April 29, 2019

10 Ways to Stick to a Financial Plan - 3


Find a Coach

You can get a coach for anything these days and maybe just a meeting a month will keep you focuses. Life coaches don't tell you what to do, they keep you on task for what you want to do. Daily or weekly reminders about keeping you on task, listening to podcasts or reading books and blogs are great ways to keep your finances a priority.


Yes, visualizing your goals really works. Create a vision board or just put affirmations on your fridge, mirror, or nightstand so you are motivated by your goals every day. What will your goals look like and how will you feel when you achieve them? Simply visualizing the results can put you in a better place overall. 

Don't Forget Yourself

Take time to find joy in the process. Reward yourself from time to time without going backward. You want to stay motivated and inspired but if you're constantly looking toward the future instead of enjoying the journey now, you'll burn out quick. Take the time to enjoy your life today.

Contact Me Today for Financial Advice on Home Buying


5 Ways to Get Easy or Free Money for a Down Payment

Posted in Finance
April 29, 2019

10 Ways to Stick to a Financial Plan

Whether you're planning on buying a home this year or just want to gain some financial freedom, making, creating and sticking to a budget and financial plan does take some will power and discipline. But what do you do when you want to cheat? Adapted from an MSN Money article, here are 10 ways to stick to your financial plan. 


Make the Plan and Set Aside Time to Focus on it.

Where your focus is, that's where your energy will flow. If you never think about it or carve out any time to focus on it, it just won't happen. If you're a planner, write down an hour a week to go over your finances, see if you are on budget and on time and then put your financial plan somewhere where you can see it every day. Maybe on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. Keeping it in front of your face will keep it fresh in your mind and top of your priority list.

Set Realistic Goals

Don't set long-term, 5-year plans with thousands of dollars in the bank... just yet anyway. Make realistic goals that you can achieve in just a couple of months. The progress will motivate you to keep going and help you achieve bigger goals along the way. 

Make Daily Goals

Just like in weight loss, nothing happens overnight but you can decide to make daily choices that help you toward your goal. Skip the latte a couple of times a week or take your lunch to work more often. Balance your checkbook or transfer a small amount into savings. Do something little a day to help you get closer to your goals.



More Resources:

How hard is it to get a home loan if you're self-employed?

Posted in Finance
April 29, 2019

10 Ways to Stick to a Financial Plan - 2



The more you automate your payments and savings, the more it's off your mind and before you know it you're saving more than you thought. Round every transaction up to the nearest dollar amount and at the end of the week balance your checkbook and transfer the extra into your savings. Remember, you still have to set aside time to do this.

Learn New Skills

Save hundreds if not thousands of dollars by learning to fix things yourself. With YouTube, there's almost nothing you can't research and find out how to do on your own. So whether it's changing your oil or fixing a plumbing problem, you're saving a boatload in parts and labor by doing it yourself.

Don't Be Drawn to the Media

Watching the stocks and investments too closely could send you into a panic. It's best to turn off the TV and listen to positive affirmations rather than when to sell and what you buy. STick to your plan and don't sabotage your efforts in building wealth.

Be Methodical

Find a method that works for you. What works for one person may not for another. You have to find the tools that work and you can stick with. IF you need to ask for feedback and when you fail or fall, get up and get going again rather than give up,


Related Resources:

7 Steps to Getting Out of Debt

Posted in Finance
April 18, 2019

How to Create a Clean House All the Time

The new year brings much motivation for improving different aspects of our lives from physical fitness and diet to organization. One aspect many people try to work on is improving their home and how efficiently it is run. Many of us could use a polishing of our daily cleaning habits.

Whether you are cleaning something incorrectly without realizing it, or you are just wanting to make the most out of your time cleaning follow these tips:

Cleaning Rags

The clothes you use to clean your home matter. Don’t use just any old scrap of material to clean everything in your home. You will find that not all cleaning rags are created equal for every job. Yes, there are some jobs that you could use just any old scrap of fabric for, but some jobs are much more effective when the proper tools are used. Here is what we mean:

Dusting: The best cloth for dusting is a microfiber cloth. Microfiber is able to grab and hold on to dust particles. Instead of just moving dust around it is getting grabbed by the cloth and then later deposited in the trash and cleaned away in the laundry. Make sure to have plenty of these on hand and change out your cloth when it is full. Using a full cloth brings you back to ineffective dusting.

Carpet Spot Cleaning: when cleaning spots/spills/stains from the carpet only use a freshly laundered white cloth or plain white high-quality paper towel. You don’t want to risk the dyes from a colored cloth reacting with a cleaning solvent and transferring into your carpet.

Television Screens: Today’s new flat and thin televisions are not like the ones of yesterday. You can do some significant damage to your screen if you clean it with the wrong cloth. We suggest pre-moistened wipes made specifically for the task or a clean microfiber cloth.

Windows and Glass: You don’t want to clean your windows and mirrors with a cloth that is going to leave a bunch of tiny pieces of very visible lint in a place you want to be crystal clear. The best cleaning tool for glass is a special glass cleaning cloth or a microfiber cloth. *Tip- remember to wash microfiber cloths without using fabric softener. This will leave a film and damage the cleaning magic of the cloth.

Applying Cleaning Solvents

When you are using a cleaning solvent for almost any cleaning task you want to apply the cleaner to the cleaning tool rather than to the surface that needs to be cleaned. You actually need a lot less clean than you instinctively think. The use of too much cleaning solution leaves a buildup behind on the surface which attracts more dirt and grime leaving it dirtier.  Applying cleaner to the cleaning tool will allow for just enough to get your job done. 


So many people are actually vacuuming wrong without even realizing it. A lot of us instinctively turn on the machine and quickly run it over the floor in whatever pattern seems comfortable until we believe we have hit every spot. The correct way to vacuum is on a regular basis once or twice a week with slow linear strokes that overlap similar to lawn mowing. The slower the vacuum is moving over the floor the more suction power you will have.


The best strategy for mopping is not to use too much cleaner and to make sure you rinse the cleaner from the floors, especially if you have wood floors. The last thing you want on your hard surface floors is cleaner build-up attracting more dirt.

Deep Cleaning

This is a very important part of keeping your home in its best condition. Professional deep cleaning of carpet, upholstery, tile, grout, and natural stone will not only have your surfaces looking their best and deeply sanitized it will extend the life of your surfaces saving you money on replacement costs.

Pro Tip: "Deep cleaning at least twice a year will keep your carpet in great shape without wearing it out. We've seen homes where they shampoo it every week and it really takes a beating on the carpet after a few years." - Orlando Buyer's Agent Erika Phelan

Starting in the Right Spot

Clean your home from top to bottom. It is a cliche for a reason. Start by cleaning the highest up surfaces and work your way down to cleaning the floors last. This way you are not getting surfaces dirty that have already been cleaned with falling debris. For example: when dusting, even with a microfiber cloth, some dust is going to fall to lower level surfaces like the floor. To be sure you get everything clean starting at the top.

With more efficient cleaning practices, you are on your way to a cleaner home. Why not kick off your cleaning practices with the deepest clean possible? Call me for great references in the Portland and Vancouver area for deep cleanings. 

Ready to List your Portland home? Call me today for a free home valuation

Read More: How to Keep Your Carpets Clean During the Peak Real Estate Season

5 Things People with Clean Homes Don't Do

Posted in Selling
April 15, 2019

Can I Make an Offer on a Pending Sale?


Perhaps you’ve driven by a real estate sign before that has an additional sign tacked onto the top of the post saying, “sale pending”, but what does this actually mean and what happens if you love the house and are thinking about buying the home yourself? But what does it mean when the property is pending?Can I Make an Offer on a Pending Sale?

A pending home sale takes place after the seller has accepted an offer from the buyer of the property is under a contract between the parties. During the negotiations on the initial offer, the property is not pending but simply has an “accepted offer”. When a home is pending, it’s typically no longer considered an active listing as at this point, the timeframe is simply running down to closing as long as all contingencies and addendums are met. However, depending on where you are in the country, the term “pending” can mean different things. In some cases, this could include the due diligence period, where the property undergoes an inspection and title check.

In other markets, pending could start after that due diligence phase. However, pending home sales usually are an indicator of market activity and that the home is no longer active, but what if the buyer really wants to make an offer? Well the opportunity is not great, it’s not impossible either. The home is technically not sold yet so there could be a chance that you could buy the home. There are several ways to go about this:

Talk to the listing agent.

Have your buyer’s agent talk to the listing agent about the possibility of a backup offer. Perhaps the original offer doesn’t look that solid and the seller wants to see if anyone else is interested in the property. While they legally cannot just drop the existing offer and go with the new offer, they can keep it in their back pocket as an option should the first transaction fall through.

Contingent sale.

If the contract between buyer and seller is contingent upon the buyer selling their current home, a backup offer is typically accepted. The buyer of the home has a certain amount of time to sell their existing home and if they don’t sell within that timeframe, the backup offer can be considered. Contingent buyer can be “bumped” if another, noncontingent buyers submits an acceptable offer.

Read More: This is why being pre-approved before submitting an offer is the best plan

Guardian sale.

Although very uncommon, sellers can become incapacitated and a court-appointed guardian is assigned to handle their financial affairs. This Guardian may sell the real estate, but the transaction lightly requires court approval. Guardian laws can allow for a second buyer to “bump” the original buyer within certain time frames if the second offers sufficiently better than the first.

Granted, these are unusual circumstances but not impossible. If you truly love a home even if it says sale pending, opening dialogue and conversation about the possibility of a backup offer is not that uncommon. Transactions do fall through all the time, typically because of an unsatisfactory inspection, the buyer’s finances, or simply buyer’s remorse, see you never know when you might get an opportunity to buy the home of your dreams.

Contact Me Today for Advice on Making an Offer

Posted in Buying
April 12, 2019

5 Ways to Make Your Neighbors Jealous of Your Backyard

Looking for ways to make your backyard stand out? Maybe you just want to make your neighbors jealous? Perhaps you've purchased a new home and now you're working on making an amazing backyard. Whatever the case, there are five ways to change up the look of your backyard and really make your neighbors jealous.

Garden5 Ways to Make Your Neighbors Jealous of Your Backyard

If you enjoy being out in the yard surrounded by nature a garden might be the perfect addition to your backyard. There are so many benefits to having a card because not only does it provide fresh food straight from your own backyard, but it's a beautiful way to give her your yard some color. If you don't want to grow vegetables you could grow a flower garden or even an urban succulent garden. Garden beds, framed containers, or even pots make a beautiful garden and a great addition to your backyard. Check out these garden ideas

Outdoor kitchen

You can bring the indoors outdoors by creating a beautiful backyard outdoor kitchen. Perhaps you want to build in a permanent barbecue or barbecue pit complete with a countertop and a built-in fridge. This is a great way to entertain outside, especially if you like to have summer parties. Check out these outdoor kitchens


If you don't like to take care of a lot of landscaping or yard maintenance, a patio can be a great addition to the backyard. It requires just a little bit of upkeep is a great place to spend late nights or afternoons depending on where the sun hits your house. Check out these patio ideas


I know this is a little out there, but if you have a family or plan to have small children, tree houses are great way to add unique character to your backyard. If you have large trees, you can get kids online or hire someone to build a tree house for you. Check out these unique treehouses

Swimming pool or hot tub

Even in the Pacific Northwest, having a pool or hot tub in the backyard is a great addition to any property. They are a little bit of maintenance but pools are a great way to beat the heat in the summer or warm-up in the winter. Custom pools can be built with the waterfalls and rocker he or a hot tub can have a beautiful umbrella over it to shade from the sun or protection from the rain.

These are five unique and interesting ways to boost the appeal of your backyard. Perhaps you're looking for a home that already has one of these features. If so, give us a call and we can do the research for you.

Posted in Portland
April 8, 2019

Want to Boost Your Home's Sale Price By 30%? Do This

I may have some reservations about how Zillow prices homes but they have done a recent report that stated certain features of home made the property sell for about 30% more than the expected price. So what were those features?Want to Boost Your Home's Sale Price By 30%? Do This

Some of the biggest moneymaking features were steam ovens, which are wall ovens that produce steam to cook food in a healthier way. Surprisingly, these features increased home sales by about 34%, higher than any other feature. Six of the 10 features that offer the biggest boost were kitchen related. This could mean professional grade appliances, wine sellers, and faucets over stoves and ovens.

Other features that were not kitchen related included steam showers, garage studios, and heated floors. But, the steam oven brought a whopping 34% return from the expected price. Professional appliances brought in about 32% more where is wine sellers and steam showers brought in 31%. The lowest was a prep sink either in an island or in the utility room, which brought in about 24%, still nothing to sneeze at.

However, just because the home brought in more than expected doesn't mean that they actually sold faster. Homes with steam ovens surprisingly took the slowest to sell, taking 22 days longer than similar homes without a steam oven. This means that these features appeal to a certain target demographic, and that might be smaller than the normal homebuyer pool. But that's okay... if you had to wait 20 more days to sell your home but still netted a 34% increase in the market value, which you hold out?

Faster sales usually are associated with homes that have features popularized by remodeling shows, such as open shelving, granite or quartz counters, or just a lot of great storage space. Craftsman style homes tend to sell for about 38% above their expected price simply because they are popularized by shows like "Fixer Upper".

Other popular features that have shown up in starter homes that sell quickly include pizza ovens and coffered ceilings. Freestanding bathtubs, solar panels, and dual range ovens also brought in a little bit higher for the starter homes, but again, these are not the target demographics with these high-end features we first talked about. And, the starter homes that have these simple features are not the only selling point. The property has to be in the right location, the right size, and even the right school district for certain target audiences, but if you're going to put in a steam oven, chances are the rest of the house is pretty fly as well.

Let me know if you're looking for a home with a steam oven!



Image BBCLCD [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Posted in Selling