Friday, March 31, 2017

Did You Know... 3 Things to know about Radon

1. What it is - Radon gas is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater.

2. Why you Need to Know about it - It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. In the US, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon-related.

3. Radon In the Home - Radon travels through pores and cracks in the soil, and can easily penetrate many building materials. When radon penetrates through flooring and other openings in the home, it can get trapped inside and build up. Any home may have a radon problem - new homes, old homes, those with basements, those without basements, drafty homes or well-sealed homes.

In the Portland, Oregon metro area, it is pretty common to have a radon test conducted during the home inspection period of a sale transaction.  The inspector will leave radon equipment in the home for 48-72 hours, taking regular readings of the air inside the home. Results are then interpreted and a report is provided to the buyer.  When the radon results average reading within a home is 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or more, the EPA recommends considering installation of a radon mitigation system at the home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Buyer Be Aware: Closing Costs

According to a recent survey by ClosingCorp, over half of all home buyers are surprised by the closing costs required when purchasing a home.  The survey results indicated 17% of home buyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all.  Another 35% were surprised at how much higher the closings costs were than what they expected.  The costs most home buyers were surprised about were the mortgage insurance, bank fees and points, property taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.

For the Buyer, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.
Closing costs may include:

  • Loan Origination fee
  • Discount points
  • Appraisal
  • 1/2 escrow fees
  • Document preparation fees
  • Underwriting
  • Mortgage title policy
  • 1/2 county transfer tax  (in Washington County)
  • Prepaid interest
  • Prepaid home insurance
  • Recording fee
  • Processing fee courier and wire transfer
  • Credit report
These costs are typically paid at the time of closing when signing final closing documents and just before recording the sale with the county.

Buyers should be aware they may have additional fees during the sale process, such as home inspection fees, radon tests, septic inspections or sewer scopes, well flow tests, and land surveys (if needed) all of which are paid at the time of the inspections.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

February 2017 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for February 2017.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   1,669 in February 2017 vs 1,813 last February:  -7.9%
  • Pending Sales:   2,369 in February 2017 vs 2,786 last February:  -15.0%
  • New Listings:   2,521 in February 2017 vs 2,896 last February:  -12.9%
  • Average Sales Price:   $404,200 in February 2017 vs $364,900 last February:  10.8%
  • Total Market Time: 62 days in February 2017 vs 60 days last February:  4.1%
  • Inventory in Months: 1.9 months in February 2017 vs 1.8 months last February
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   1.72 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               0.99 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.82 months

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"Retired" to become Self Employed in 2017? Three Tips on How to Secure a Mortgage

Scott Wagar Home Inspections

Many 'second-wave' baby boomers are beginning to consider what to do after retiring from a current job.  Many will take advantage of the opportunity to travel, socialize more etc.  And, many have the hankering to begin their own business to still remain productive, yet have increased flexibility with their time and schedule.

My husband and I both fit into the 'second-wave' population and both are self-employed. we understand how income can fluctuate greatly from year to year.  We also understand, having been self-employed when we purchased our Oregon home, that it can make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage.  There are, however, things you can do to improve your chances.

1. Make sure your credit score is in good shape
While your ability to pay back a mortgage is the most important factor in approval, your credit score is a close second.  That applies for every borrower, not just those who are self-employed.  If you have a high credit score - say something over 750 - it will help you get approved for a mortgage.  To boost your score, make sure you pay all bills on time, pay down your debt levels, and don't make any new big purchases or apply for new credit soon before you apply for a mortgage.

2. Have a large down payment
The more money a bank lends you to buy a house, the more risk it is taking on that the money won't be paid back. If you are self-employed and considered a higher risk to begin with, one way you can alleviate some of that risk is to be able to put down a large amount of money.  Putting down 20 percent is standard for a conventional loan, and you should be willing to contribute at least that much. Putting down at least 20 percent also will save you money in the long run, because you won't have to pay for mortgage insurance and you will pay less in finance charges over the life of the loan.

3. Have Significant Assets
One way to put a lender at ease about your ability to pay for mortgage is to have significant reserves in the form of assets.  If you have large amounts of money in regular savings, brokerage and retirement accounts, it offers a reserve for you to tap should your income take a dive.  Other forms of property, such as personal and business property that's paid off and have value, also help.

Being self-employed can be a very rewarding and convenient choice for many people.  By being in business for a couple of years, keeping accurate records, and having a good credit score you help set yourself up for a less challenging time in obtaining a mortgage loan.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Tips for First Time Home Buyers

Earnest money is a deposit you pay when you make an offer on a home - it's a way to show the seller that you mean business.  Usually you can't get it back, but there are several circumstances during the sale process that will generally allow you to recover your earnest money should you decide to pull out of the sale.

1. Seller Property Disclosures - In Oregon, homeowners generally need to complete - to the best of their knowledge - a detailed account of ownership, systems, features, modifications etc. that are associated with the property and the home .  During the review period, you may discover that there is a history of repeated water in the crawl space, or there was an addition to the home that was not permitted.  You may not want to deal with these type of things once you become a homeowner, so you have the ability to pull out from the sale.

2. Preliminary Title Report and CC&Rs - You will have the opportunity to review a preliminary title report provided by the Title Company that shows any liens, encumbrances, claims of title other than the seller, etc.. If the home is in an area with Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions associated with owning a home in that neighborhood, you will receive a copy of the CC&Rs and have a chance to review them.  If there are items that will remain on title or terms in the CC&Rs that may affect your ability to comfortably live in the home, you are able to pull out from the sale.

3. Major Problems with the home - It may be your dream home at the surface level, but following the home inspection you find that there are major problems such as issues with the foundation, plumbing issues, or electrical items.  In that case, you can generally get your earnest money back if the seller doesn't agree to fix the issues or provide some type of credit at closing.

4. Appraisal Contingency - The sales agreement in Oregon has standard language that indicates if the buyer is obtaining financing to purchase the home, the sale is contingent upon both the buyer and the property qualifying for financing.  If the home appraises for less than the agreed upon sale price - you can negotiate with the seller to modify the terms, or you can generally get your money back and walk away from the deal.

5. Financing Contingency - In addition to the property qualifying, you will also need to qualify for the loan. If, after having fulfilled your obligation to do what is needed to obtain financing, you are unable to obtain a loan, the sale cannot proceed and you will generally get your money back.