Monday, January 30, 2017

9 Easy Ways to Become a Green Homeowner

My husband and I are pretty conscientious and do our best to contribute to maintaining a good environment for our community.  While some of these seemingly simple and cost effective steps are easy to implement, others may take forming a new habit or way of operating. Here's our experience in becoming more of a Green homeowner.

1. Recycle - easy to do!  Most community waste management services now provide recycling bins. We have gotten pretty diligent in separating glass bottles, paper and aluminum into their respective bins.  While the amount in our trash bin is far less than it used to be, I know we can make more progress toward reducing the waste that goes to landfills.

2. Save Water - easier for Scott than I!  Changing out the shower heads and faucets to low-flow models was easy.  Taking shorter showers, turning off the water while brushing teeth and not letting the water run while washing dishes is something I continue to work on.

3. Reduce Electricity - This is easier for me than Scott! I am often turning off lights around the house and the TV, often left on when Scott leaves the room for a period of time.  Habits can be hard to break I guess 😉.  Another suggestion made to reduce electricity is to unplug computers and other electronic devices or appliances when not in use. Incorporating some of these steps, or all, will help save energy and save you money on your electric bill.

4. Replace Light Bulbs - Yep - Done! In as many light fixtures as we can, we have replaced CFL bulbs with the LED form.  It took a bit of time as we wanted to wait until the old ones blew out, but now only buy to high efficiency bulbs when we need them.

5. Double up on Printing - Save our Trees!  Our mode of operation now is to keep most things online - we'll send an article from the internet to our email to share or read at a later time, or just keep articles in a documents folder.  When we do need to print, we do double side when possible.

6. Support Local Farms - Love Farmer's Markets!  Yep, we often will go to the Saturday or Tuesday evening Market in Hillsboro to pick up vegetables, and we berry pick in the summer for homemade jams.  This helps cut back on delivery truck gas and oil used to ship produce to stores - and supports our local businesses.

Other suggestions for becoming a Green homeowner that haven't made it into our routine include:

7. Drying Clothes Outside - hanging your clothes outside will help reduce the amount of energy used in the home by the dryer.

8. Drive Less - Walking or biking to work, or buying a hybrid car versus an SUV are some ways you might implement this idea. Due to Scott and I being in the Real Estate industry, we rely on our vehicles to show homes, get to inspections, etc. and need the right vehicle to do the work properly.

9. Conserve Rain Water - Set up barrels in your back yard to collect rain water/snow for watering plants and shrubs - and indoor plants as well.  Scott and I have begun to compost, and it would be easy to add a barrel in the back yard for rain water!

What 'Green' steps have you been able to 
implement in your own home?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Low Interest Rates Increase Buyer's Purchasing Power

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $6,250). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Preparing for Your Home's Real Estate Market Debut

Many sellers have the impression that in order to sell a home, you just have to list it. While listing is certainly part of the process, there's quite a bit of preparation to undertake before your home's listing goes 'live' on the MLS.

The real estate market is always changing, so whether you're a first time home seller or an experienced seller, you are likely to encounter some uncertainty. To help make the process worry-free, follow these tips and be sure to ask me any questions that may arise.
  • Prepare your home - make any necessary repairs, make minor updates as needed, pack away valuables and medications, and get your home move-in ready. 

  • Prepare your yard - manicure the grass, trim trees and bushes, plant flowers to give your yard a 'pop' of color.

  • Prepare your mind - try to remove the sentimental or emotional value you have in your home and see it as it is: a place to live.

  • Prepare your schedule - make your home easily available to show during the day.  Improving the accessibility of your home to buyers and their agents may help you sell it faster.
Adapted from Buffini & Company RMMK October

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

You've been searching for that perfect house to call a 'home' and you finally found one!  The price is right, and in such a competitive market you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered '4 Tips for Making an Offer' in a recent Executive Perspective.  Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration.

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.  By this time, you have established yourself with a mortgage lender and gotten an idea of the price range that feels comfortable for you. Now that you have selected a home to pursue, consider the monthly mortgage costs, as well as any additional expenses that may be associated with this home, e.g. HOA dues, potential repairs, or updating that may need to be done soon after move in.  Have a conversation with your lender again to review all the costs and determine the maximum offer that you would feel comfortable submitting for the seller consideration.

2. Act Fast

Even though the number of investors has decreased from a few years ago, the inventory of homes is so low yet the competition among home buyers continues to heat up.  According the the latest Market Action Report from Portland's RMLS, we ended 2016 with just 1.3 months of inventory for the Portland metro area. This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a 'normal' market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream home. Ask your Realtor to discover the seller's time to review offers and be sure to submit your offer prior to the cut off time.  If no offer deadline is established, work with your Realtor to present your offer as soon as possible.

3. Make A Solid Offer

Gone are the days when low-ball offers will even be considered by a seller.  In many cases, if you anticipate the home will be getting multiple offers, you will need to submit an offer at least at the list price if not higher.  Your strongest offer will be comparable, or a tad higher, than other recent sales in the neighborhood.  Work with your Realtor to understand the current market dynamics in the neighborhood and talk about other ways of making your offer stand out - such as writing a personal letter to the seller, putting a larger down payment down on the home, modifying inspection times, etc. Your Realtor will have options for you to consider - helping you understand the pros and cons of each - to submit your best possible offer.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

Chances are that you will get one counteroffer from the sellers, so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Give that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.  Your Realtor will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional, like me, on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly.  Let's get together and see if we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

Monday, January 16, 2017

December 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for December 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   2,621 in December 2016 vs 2710 last December:  -3.3%
  • Pending Sales:   1,757 in December 2016 vs 1,936 last December:  -9.2%
  • New Listings:   1,421 in December 2016 vs 1,538 last December:  -7.6%
  • Average Sales Price:   $399,300 in December 2016 vs $367,600 last December:  8.6x%
  • Total Market Time: 49 days in December 2016 vs 56 days last December:  -12.3%
  • Inventory in Months: 1.3 months in December 2016 vs 1.2 months last December
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   1.24 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               0.85 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     0.98 months

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Home Features That Help You Sell Faster

As you consider selling your home, you may be thinking that you won't be living there any longer, so the last thing you want to do is upgrade any features in the home.  And, according the Remodeling magazine's 2016 Cost vs Value report, many remodeling efforts only return 64%-85% of the project's cost.

However, the National Association of Home Builders' 2016 Housing Preferences Across Generations report indicates there are certain features of a home that make it more appealing to buyers - and may result in multiple offers when the home is listed for sale.  Eighty percent or more of buyers indicate a desire to have these seven features in the home they choose to buy.

Take an assessment of your home to see how many of these features you have to offer - or if it might be worthwhile making a few modifications, if you can, before trying to sell -
1. Laundry Room - top of the list of most-wanted home feature by 92% of buyers 
2. Exterior Lighting - Not only is exterior lighting a safety feature for your home, light shining on the lawn or front entry can greatly enhance the curb appeal and grab attention of any evening drive-by buyers. 
3. Energy Efficiency - home features that help buyers save money are attractive, such as Energy Star windows and appliances. 
4. Backyard Patio - help buyers envision enjoying the outdoors with family and friends by providing addition living space on the patio surrounded by a well manicured lawn and garden. 
5. Hardwood Floors - hardwood floors can last a lifetime with occasional refinishing. Plus they are easier to maintain and clean, saving buyers time in their home maintenance. 
6. Garage Storage Space - Accessible storage space is essential for buyers with growing families and for buyers in the process of downsizing their home but still have a lot of items they would like to keep. 
7. Eat-in Kitchen - Often the space for casual family meals, where children can do homework or crafts while parents prepare meals, and nice space to just sit with a morning cup of coffee and the paper.

Monday, January 9, 2017

7 must-do's for the first-time homebuyer

You've decided 2017 is the year to buy your first home - congratulations!!

Buying a home can be both exciting - to find a place of your own, settle into a neighborhood, - as well as nerve-racking since it is probably one of the biggest financial investments you will make.
So, being prepared is key.  A recent Oregonian article identified seven steps that can improve your chances of having a good homebuying experience:

  1. Know your credit - clean up errors on your credit report if they exist
  2. Hire a good team - a great Realtor and Mortgage professional are the first two contacts establish on your team
  3. Get Pre-approved - know what you can afford before beginning to look at homes
  4. Set a budget and stick to it - consider not only your mortgage payment, but also property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilites, HOA fees when you are determining a comfortable monthly budget
  5. Time the end of your lease - ask your Realtor and Lender what the typical time frame is to close on a home purchase so you can have a good idea when you will need to provide notice to your landlord.
  6. Consider down payment assistance - in most cases, you will need funds for a down payment. There may be state or local programs to help with the down payment or gift funds from a relative.  Ask your lender what programs may be available for you to consider.
  7. Inspect the home before and after - identify a reputable home inspector or ask your Realtor for recommendations.  Additional inspections, such as sewer scope or radon testing, may be beneficial, depending on the home you identify.
For more information on these steps, read at

Or call me, your Realtor, to get your home buying experience started on the right foot!