So You Wanna Buy A House…….

When you start to think about the process of buying a house one of the first questions a future buyer asks is how much home can I afford?   There is so much more to this question that you would think.

The first step and most often the longest step in preparing to buy a home is to start saving money.  Why?  You’ll need money for your downpayment.  There are some loan programs out that will allow you to put down as little as 3.5% of the purchase price to be put down towards the purchase of your home.  Many folks think that they need the traditional 20% like their parents did.  While this is great if you are able to save up for it, it isn’t always realistic.  If you find yourself in a situation where it’s hard to save money one way to help is to look for loan programs that offer downpayment assistance.  They can often be found at your state and local levels.  Not to mention that if you are a first time home buyer there are often incentive programs out there for you.  To find out what options are available to you talking to a trusted local lender is important.

While you’re saving for your downpayment another expense to remember when you buy a home is that you will have closing costs – the fees associated with conducting the real estate transaction that will need to be paid as well.  These feels are on top of your downpayment.  Having your lender and/or title company prepare an estimated closing cost sheet will help you plan for these expenses.

Once you’ve saved for your downpayment and closing costs you may think that you’re good to go, however there’s something else that you need to consider because your lender certainly is.  It’s your debt to income ratio.  Lenders look at this to see how much debt you have compared to how much income you’re bringing in.  Many buyers do not realize that lenders will be looking at this in addition to your credit score.  While your credit score allows the lender to see your track record with making payments on time, the debt to income ratio allows the lender to see how well you handle your money and if you are capable of taking on more debt.

As the lender looks at this ratio they like to see a debt to income ratio under 50%.  If your debt to income ratio is above 50% it is a good idea to take steps to lower it before applying for a home loan.  This ratio is going to greatly factor into how much a lender is willing to lend to you, what your interest rate will be, and other loan terms.  If you are sitting at close to that 50% mark I would encourage you to work to pay it down if at all possible.

After preparing for all of these things you may say I’m ready to buy that house and find out how much I can afford.  As you prepare make sure that you also have some funds saved up for moving expenses, utility hook ups (yes some do request a deposit), any new furniture you may need to buy (do not buy this while in the process of purchasing your home, any large purchases can change your debt to income ratio and affect your ability to procure your home loan) and finally any home improvements you may want to make after you move in.

There are many factors that go into determining how much home you can afford but what I ultimately like to tell my clients is that it’s not about how much you were approved for, it’s about the monthly payment you are comfortable with.  If the loan amount you are approved for is going to put you with a mortgage payment that you are stressed out about making each month then you will be missing out on the joy that is home ownership.


For more great information on preparing to purchase a home be sure to check out Fannie Mae!

Enjoy 38 Acres of Nature in Hillsboro

Screen Shot 2021-04-06 at 10.36.54 AMThis week’s local hot spot of the week is a beautiful 38 acre nature park in Hillsboro – Noble Woods Park. The park has two different entrances one at E. Main St. and one at SE Century meaning that there should be an entrance close to you.

The park has fabulous opportunities to view wildlife it is also a wonderful place for recreation.  The park consists of paved and soft-surface paths which will take you through open and wooded areas.  You will enjoy viewpoints, boardwalks, as well as a bridge that crosses over Rock Creek.

Enjoy the park with benches, a reserved picnic table area and restrooms.

As you venture through the park you will enjoy the babbling brooks, birds and more.  You are welcome to bring your furry four legged friends with you so long as they are on a leash.

Time for Adventure – Trail Style

The weather is getting warmer, the days are longer, and it’s time to get out and explore.  Living on the westside of the Portland metro area you will find that you have plenty of opportunities to do just that without having to venture too far thanks to all of the local trails.  Each Monday in April I will be highlighting some of the different trails in the area as part of my hot spot of the week feature.

Today I am sharing Rock Creek Trail with you.  The trail is approximately 3.5 miles long with an additional 1.5 miles that will take you from Rock Creek Park into the City of Hillsboro.  The trail gets it’s name for a tributary off of the Tualitan River that heads towards the Tualitan Mountains to the North, and intersects with the trail west of Bethany Lake Park.

The trail goes from east to west along the Springville Creek Power Corridor.  This corridor extends from Rock Creek Blvd toward the Washington County/Multnomah County lines.  As you travel the trail you will be greeted with beautiful views of forests, wetlands, and meadows.  You will also find parks along your route where you can take a rest or let the kids play.  The trail is a popular destination for those who love to bike, run and enjoy wildlife.

In addition the trail connects to Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus as well as intersecting with the Waterhouse Trail.

If you follow the trail to the far west end you will find the Rock Creek Power Line Soccer Fields, as well as Bethany Lake Park off of 185th which has plenty of parking.  The lake is stocked with trout and you are more than welcome to fish there so long as you have a valid fishing license from Oregon Fish and Wildlife.

As you travel east along the trail you will find one of the Tualitan Hills Parks and Recreations more popular parks, Bethany Meadows Park aka Pirate Park.  It’s known for its ship shaped play structure, climbing features, sand pit and tower.  So much fun for the kids.

Finally venture to the far east end of the trail to visit Kaiser Woods Natural Area where you will be able to see wildflowers in the spring, and listen to song birds all year long.

Click here for more information on Rock Creek Trail.

Have you visited Garden Frog Nursery?

If you were to drive by Garden Frog Nursery in Hillsboro you might just keep on driving based off of it’s looks and location.  Let me assure you that looks can certainly be deceiving.  Garden Frog is basically right across the street from Lowes and Home Depot.  It’s got the appearance of being some place that wouldn’t have a whole lot of options, yet they really do.

We like to go their to get our seed potatoes each year, and of course to look around.  I love that they have lots of different plants as well as cute pots and items for your yard.  The people who work their are knowledgeable as well.

In addition to plants they also provide landscape design services and can help you figure out landscaping, hardscaping, lighting and irrigation.  They also provide delivery services.

Something that I find really nice since I’ve got a black thumb (my husband takes care of all of our plants) is that they have a section on their website dedicated to plant care and information  It’s especially handy if you’re just getting into gardening too.

So if you’re out taking a tour of local nurseries this spring to see what each of them has be sure to stop by Garden Frog.

With three locations you’re sure to find one close to you…….

My Copy of  January 2021 Graphics  copyThis week’s local hot spot of the week is Farmington Gardens   This is one of my husband’s favorites because of the fact that there are three locations on the Westside.  They are open every day from 10-5 PM which is helpful when your weekends are different from everyone else, as is the case in our home.

If you are new to gardening they’ve got a handy chart that lets you know when you should be starting your spring vegetables as well as how deep and what the soil temp should be.  There website is a wealth of information as not only are they a garden center they also have a floral department.  The floral department is there for all of your needs and they even do special occasion flowers.

If you are looking to redesign your flower beds or just do not know where to start they have a consultation and design service that offers DIY Design at the center to full on design and installation.

Be sure to really look around their website as it’s a treasure trove of information and gardening tips.  As I mentioned they have three locations to serve you on the Westside – Farmington, Downtown Hillsboro and Aloha.