Wednesday, October 23, 2019

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | MyKCM

One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.
If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.
Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

The number of homeowners that currently have at least 50% equity in their home is astonishing. According to the Urban Institute, 37.1% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity studyATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 62.9% of homes with a mortgage, 25.6% have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last five years:One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | MyKCMBy doing a little math, we can see that 53.2% of all homes in this country have at least 50% equity right now. Of all homes, 37.1% are mortgage-free and an additional 16.1% with a mortgage have at least 50% equity.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is different than renting. When you own, your housing expense (the mortgage payment) comes back to you in the form of equity in your home. That doesn’t happen with your rent payment. Your rent helps build your landlord’s equity instead.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

September 2019 Real Estate Market Statistics

(For the past few years, I've used my photographs for the headline photos on the monthly market updates, using local area scenes in 2017 and roof tops of homes sold in 2018.  This year I'm featuring public art that can be found in our local communities.)

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for September 2019.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   2,377 in September 2019 vs 2,272 last September:  4.6 %
  • Pending Sales:   2,686 in September 2019 vs 2,471 last September:  8.7%
  • New Listings:   3,470 in September 2019 vs 3,606 last September:  -3.8%
  • Average Sales Price:  $458,900 in September 2019 vs $453,800 last September: 1.1%
  • Total Market Time: 52 days in September 2019 vs 45 days last September:  15.2%
  • Inventory in Months: 2.8 months in September 2019 vs 3.1 months last September
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   2.09 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               2.50 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     2.59 months

Monday, October 14, 2019

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa. | MyKCM

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.
We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’
A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.
They are much more than just guides.
This is much more than a normal real estate market.
The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Unexpected Costs of Buying a Condo

Is it time to start thinking about buying that condo you’ve always wanted for retirement, a vacation home or an investment?  Or, are you a first-time buyer who sees a condo as an entry point into homeownership?  Condos are a great investment!  They are typically low maintenance, offer numerous amenities and they are often located in prime locations.

While a condo may be the preferred real estate for many buyers, you should remember not to overlook the hidden costs associated with condo living.  Here are a few things you need to know.

HOA/Maintenance Dues 
Most condos will have a HomeOwners Association (HOA) that is responsible for replacing the roof, addressing siding issues, maintaining landscaping and even some will replace broken windows. However, these services come at a cost to the condo owner. Typically, a monthly, quarterly or annual fee will be charged each condo owner to cover these expenses along with any upkeep for amenities the association is responsible for maintaining such as a pool or tennis courts.
Some condo HOA dues also cover all or some of the utilities.  Many times, the water, sewer and garbage services for the units are paid by the condo association. Some will even cover electricity and internet service.  When Buyers look at the regular HOA dues, be sure there is a good understanding of what all is included. 
Special Assessments  
Special assessments are additional dues that are charged to cover expenses that aren’t considered routine maintenance or that are beyond what the standard dues can cover. These unexpected expenses are divided among the condo owners to cover unplanned expenses such as storm damage, new amenities, or projects to protect the health and safety of residents. When purchasing a condo, be aware of the current condition of the building itself, the amenities offered in the development and any future amenities that are planned for the community, to help determine if special assessments may be coming. 
Many Buyers considering purchasing a condo will include the ability to have a condo document review by an attorney as a contingency in the sale agreement.  There are law firms that specialize in working with condominium developments that will review the budget, reserve account and HOA documents and provide an assessment of the strength of the HOA in covering current expenses, future needs for improvements and unexpected repairs.   
Additional Insurance  
The condo’s HOA should provide insurance to cover the exterior of the building and any common areas in the condo community.  Homeowners are responsible for insuring the interior of their unit, any personal content inside the condo and liability.  We often hear the phrase ‘the owner is responsible from studs in, the HOA is responsible for the exterior’.  Sometimes this can be a little unclear such as if pipes break between the walls or there is mold in the attic.  Get clarification on who covers what areas of the home to ensure you have the proper insurance.
On-going Fees  
Many homeowners feel great when they can pay off their mortgage and reduce the monthly costs associated with living in their home. One thing about living in a condo is that you continue to pay the HOA fees long after you’ve paid off the condo itself.
Additional One-time Fees  
In more and more condominium developments, the HOA not only charges the regular dues but there may also be membership fees, a share of the realty tax on the land where your condo is built, move-in and move-out fees, transfer of ownership fees and sometimes parking fees if the parking space(s) are not deeded to your unit.  Ensure you ask about any additional fees which would generally be payable at the time of closing on the purchase. 
Knowing what to expect to pay for your condo is important.  Many condo owners are happy with the fees as it gives them 24-hour security, well-maintained swimming pools and other amenities, and a more carefree lifestyle than a single-family home. Condos can be an affordable way to own a vacation property, downsize during retirement or get into homeownership for first time buyers.  Doing your homework prior to purchasing a condo is important.

Hiring an experienced agent who has your best interests at heart is also important. Contact me if you or someone you know is thinking about making a move!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Maintaining your Heating System During the Colder Seasons

Fall season is upon us and outside temperatures are getting cooler.  If you haven't already turned on your furnace, you will be soon and will be using your furnance more regularly over the next several months.  Here are some maintenance tips to ensure it runs effectively during the cold weather seasons.

Check filters every month.

Smell around the appliance for gas odors.

Visually inspect exhaust vent for rust, damage or deterioration.

Inspect the fan belt for cracking or fraying. Also check the belt’s tension by pushing on the center and ensuring it only deflects 1 ⁄ 2" – 3 ⁄ 4".

Have annual system maintenance service performed during the fall to avoid the busy winter season.

Become familiar with normal operating sounds.

Problem: There is no heat at all.
• Check for blown fuses or a tripped circuit breaker.
• Replace the drive belt.

Problem: Soot collects in your house.
• Replace the filter.
• Call a qualified professional to clean the heating system.

Problem: The blower makes unusual noises when the burner is off.
• Tighten the setscrews.
• Replace the blower mounts.
• Check if the belt is worn; replace if needed.
• Loosen the belt tension.
• Call a qualified professional.

Problem: Your rooms are not warm enough.
• Replace the filter.
• Clean the registers and remove any obstructions blocking the register.
• Seal any leaking ducts with duct tape.

Courtesy of American Home Shield 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Monday, October 7, 2019

3 Ways to Incorporate Pumpkins into Your Home this Fall

Pumpkin lovers rejoice! October is National Pumpkin Month, and to celebrate, I’ve got a list of ways you can go beyond the pumpkin-spice lattes and incorporate this versatile plant into your home. 

Cooking - Pumpkins hit peak ripeness in September and October. Roast the seeds for a delicious snack. For a more substantial dish, roast, boil, steam, bake, sauté, or puree the meat of the pumpkin to use it in a number of delicious recipes.

Gardening - Most people are happy to limit their love of pumpkins to a few weeks a year. True pumpkin enthusiasts can consider growing their own pumpkin patch. Plant your seeds in a sunny area by late May or early June to enjoy home-grown pumpkins in the fall.

Decorating - From pumpkin-themed placemats to hollowed-out pumpkin candle holders and serving bowls, you have almost endless options for decorating with pumpkins. Try placing miniature pumpkins as tabletop decorations or hollowing out a pumpkin to use it as a vase

What other ways do you use pumpkins - 
or a pumpkin theme - in your home?