It’s Home Inspection Time.

You’ve got an accepted offer and now it’s time for the home inspection.  This can be a stressful time for both buyers and sellers as they wait to see what the inspector has to say, and if he finds something that could kill the deal.

As you prepare for this time it’s good to remember that the home inspector is there to tell you about the general health of the home, like your primary care doctor tells you about your general health.  If there are issues with the home that require an expert such as HVAC, roof, mold remediation the inspector should recommend that a licensed professional come out to asses the issue.

When it comes to the report a good write up will give you four main points:

What are they inspecting.

Where is it at in the home.

Why is the issue a problem.

How the buyer should consider handing the problem.

For example, in my own home purchase the report informed me that there was a duct vent from the laundry room vent that had fallen in the attic and was not property attached to the roof vent which is there to help prevent excess moisture and other problems.  As the buyer they inspector let me know that to handle this problem I needed to have the duct work reattached to the  roof vent.  It was an easy fix that my husband took care of for me after I moved in.

It doesn’t matter what the item is you should always see a what, where, why it is an issue and what you should do about it.  If it is something out of the scope of the home inspector assessing the general health of the home say cracks in the foundation, they should suggest that you get a qualified contractor or engineer to come out and assess the foundation to see if there is an issue or not.

You should also know that there are items that are not in the scope of the home inspectors work.  For example if the home were to have a pool and hot tub that would not be something that the home inspector would be looking at.  As a buyer you would want to have a pool specialist come out and tell you if the pool was in good mechanical working order.

As a seller the home inspector isn’t there to find all sorts of things to make you fix, and potentially kill the deal.  We all love our homes and think that they are in fantastic order, however when we live in them for awhile there are things that we sometimes don’t notice.

Once that home inspection is over it’s time to consider what items you want fixed and what items you can deal with and maybe fix later.  I always tell both my buyers and sellers that we ask/fix items that are of a health and safety concern, such as a leaking roof or T111 siding that is rotting at the bottom.  If the home is older you may see the inspector indicate that the home lacks GFCI outlets and recommend that they be installed.   If they recommend it for the kitchen and bathroom then yes that would fall under the health and safety items as both of those places deal with water.  However if the inspector indicates that it should be done through out the home in order to bring it up to code then I like to have a discussion with my sellers/buyers.  Codes are constantly changing and home was built to code for the time it was constructed.  Health and safety should not constitute bringing the home up to current code.  It would be costly as well as very time/labor intensive.

As you prepare for your home inspection please keep these things in mind, and hopefully it will help make the process a little less stressful.  You also might consider picking up Matt Fellman’s book Home Inspector Confidential. It provides some fabulous information from a well respected Portland area home inspector.

You’re Ready to Move-Up to Your Next Home, but Where Do You Start?

As a first time seller, or a seller who hasn’t sold a home in many years you may be wondering where to start.  You may believe that you find a Realtor® sign a contract and put a sign up in the yard then wait for the offers to come rolling in.  You certainly can use this approach however, if you receive and accept an offer quickly you will only have 30-45 days to get packed up and ready to move, all while going through the transaction process, and that can be STRESSFUL!

I know you’re wondering what can I do to help reduce some of the stress during the home selling process?  Here are a few ways that I help my clients to reduce some of the stress of selling their home.

  1.  Meeting with them two to three months before they are ready to put their home on the market.  At this time we discuss the time frame of when they would like to list their home and set a target “Go Live” date.  During this meeting we discuss any improvements if any that they are considering doing to determine if they are worth it.  Often sellers know that they need new carpet but decide that they won’t install it because the buyer will want to choose their own.  The reality is that this can lead to lowball offers because the buyer’s see that the home needs new carpet and start to wonder what else hasn’t been taken care of in the home so they offer a low price to offset those costs.  Being able to say home has new carpet in the listing is always beneficial.
  2. I look at your home through the lens of a prospective buyer.  We talk about what items you should remove from your walls and pack as you prepare for your move.  Buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home.  They often have a hard time doing that with family photos out.
  3. I help you “stage” your home with items you already own, and if needed will add in some neutral decor items to help your home “pop”.
  4. I discuss the benefits of a pre-listing inspection with you.  You bring in a home inspector and have them do an inspection on your home just like they would for a buyer during the transaction process.  This allows you to know up front if there are any major issues with your home that would come up in an inspection, and gives you the opportunity to address them prior to listing your home, or to determine how you will proceed during the transaction process.  Keep in mind that anything you learn during this inspection will need to be disclosed.
  5. I recommend that you start packing things that you do not need now such as seasonal clothing items that you won’t be needing.  It’s also a great time to determine what you want to take to your new home, and the items that can be donated or thrown away.  This also takes some of the packing pressure off of you because you’ve already started.

Once your home is “camera ready” it’s time to bring in the photographer and prepare to list your home.  Depending on the location, size of your home/lot I do bring in a drone for drone photography.  These photos can provide a potential buyer with a great view of the neighborhood and if you are on a large lot allows them to see just how big the lot is in comparison to other homes in the area.

I know that not everyone has the opportunity to take time when listing your home so I hope that these tips will help if you find yourself in a position that you need to list and sell your home fast.

Is your Zestimate Accurate?

Let’s be honest thanks to the internet there are so many different ways for sellers and buyers to get information about their own homes, as well as homes in their community it can make your head spin.  You fill out price calculators, pre-qualifying certifications, mortgage estimates, and value tracking….all online.  That’s a whole lot of information to be sharing, and it probably looks great when you are looking at it.  It feels empowering to have all of those numbers sitting in front of you, but you need to ask yourself are they actually correct?  And should you trust them?

The reality is that many of the big box website calculators have been known to be off – sometimes by as much as $100,000 or more, and that’s a huge amount when you’re trying to decide if you should sell your house right?  You’re probably asking yourself why are they off by so much?  Well here’s the truth:

  1.  They use your WHOLE county’s data – not just your neighborhood.  They’re looking at the whole pie, not just your piece of it.
  2. They don’t perform a Comparative Market Analysis which can only be done by a Realtor® to come up with the value.  Instead they use AI.
  3. They don’t take renovations or improvements into consideration.
  4. They weight their results heavily on the prices of homes that have recently been listed at, not the price that the homes actually sold for which skews the data.

So yes, an automated estimate can be a great starting point, it’s safe to say that it does best paired with a real estate agent who can gather more personal data about your neighborhood, street and any improvements or repairs that are needed in the home.  As a Realtor® I’ able to do the research need to know where your home stands in the current market, and what kid of market conditions you’re going to be dealing with. That alone can be a major difference in the listing price that is going to bring you top dollar and still allow for a quick sale.

If you’re reading this thinking that you may need some guidance around the area of automatic home evaluations, and feel like you have no place to start please reach out to me.  I am happy to help you through the process with no pressure, no sales tactics, just the help and guidance that you need.  Please feel free to email me at maryann@nexthomepdx.com

What Might the Rest of 2020 Look Like?

What Are Experts Saying About the Rest of 2020? | MyKCM

Let’s be real one of the major items on everyone’s mind these days is: What’s going to happen to the housing market in the second half of the year? If we look at recent data on the economy, unemployment, real estate, and more, many factors economists are now revising their forecasts for the remainder of 2020 – and the outlook is extremely encouraging. Here’s  what some experts have to say about key areas that will power the industry and the economy forward this year.

Mortgage Purchase Originations: Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry ForecastingMortgage Bankers Association

“The recovery in housing is happening faster than expected. We anticipated a drop off in Q3. But, we don’t think that’s the case anymore. We revised our Q3 numbers higher. Before, we predicted a 2 percent decline in purchase originations in 2020, now we think there will be 2 percent growth this year.”

Home Sales: Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

“Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April – during the strictest times of the pandemic lock down and hence the cyclical low point…Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year.”

Inventory: George Ratiu, Senior Economist, realtor.com

“We can project that the next few months will see a slow-yet-steady improvement in new inventory…we projected a stepped improvement for the May through August months, followed by a return to historical trend for the September through December time frame.”

Mortgage Rates: Freddie Mac

“Going forward, we forecast the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.4% in 2020 and 3.2% in 2021.”

New Construction: Doug Duncan, Chief Economist, Fannie Mae

“The weaker-than-expected single-family starts number may be a matter of timing, as single-family permits jumped by a stronger 11.9 percent. In addition, the number of authorized single-family units not yet started rose 5.4 percent to the second-highest level since 2008. This suggests that a significant acceleration in new construction will likely occur.”

Good news is that the experts are optimistic about the second half of the year. If you made the choice to pause your 2020 real estate plans in the spring, now may be the right time for you to get back into the market.  If you have questions I’m here to talk to you about it, no pressure, no tactics just the advice and guidance you need to make the best decision possible for your family.

Unemployment….3 Things to Understand

Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics | MyKCM

Brace yourselves, tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest Employment Situation Summary, which includes the most current unemployment rate. Be prepared for a horrific number. Many analysts believe unemployment could be greater than 20%. The numbers represent families all across the United States who are not sure when (or if) they will return to work. The emotional impact on these families is devastating.

However there are some small rays of light shining on this issue. Here are three:

1. The actual number of unemployed is less than many are reporting

The number of people unemployed is sometimes over-exaggerated. It seems that every newscaster talks about the 40+ million people “currently” unemployed. It is true that, over the last ten weeks, over 40.7 million people have applied for unemployment. It is also true, however, that many of those people have already returned to work or gotten a new job. The actual number of people currently unemployed is 21.1 million. While this is still a horrible number, it is about half of what is often being reported.Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics | MyKCM

2. Of those still unemployed, most are temporary layoffs

Last month’s unemployment report indicates that 90% of those unemployed believe their status is temporary. Friday’s report will probably show a decline in that percentage as the original number was somewhat optimistic. However, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that employers believe over 75% of job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs. This means 3 out of 4 people should be returning to work as the economy continues to recover.

3. Those on unemployment are receiving assistance

According to a recent study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 68% of those who are eligible for unemployment insurance receive benefits that exceed lost earnings, with 20% receiving benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings. So yes, tomorrow’s report will be difficult to swallow. However, as our nation continues to reopen, many of the families who are impacted will be able to return to work.