Category Archives: Real Estate Stats / Tips

PDX Renter’s Rebellion has begun!

No cause eviction notices, rent hikes, and landlords making renter’s lives unbearable plus the overall stress of the unknown has pushed renters into action! The PDX renter is saying “NO MORE” and they are taking control of their housing.  In the past year we have seen many first-time home buyers find creative ways to purchase a home and beat landlords at their own game.

Many reading this will say, “I don’t think I can buy home” but we ask you to reconsider.  There are many programs and low/no-downpayment options that may allow the dream of a secure home to come true.  Lets get inspired to begin the exciting journey to home ownership!

First-Time Home Buyer Programs:
Both Oregon and Washington have various programs and grants available to First Time Home Buyers. As a general rule a First-Time Home Buyer is anyone who has not owned a home in the past 3 years. Keep in mind to be considered a homeowner your name needs to be on the title to the property and in oftentimes on the mortgage as well.

Buy a Home | Homeownership Programs, Counselor and Resources

Washington State Housing Finance Commission

Government Loans:
USDA Loans: For eligible suburban and rural home buyers, it’s a 100%, no-money down mortgage loan backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Rural Development loan’s full name is the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan. However, the program is more commonly known as a USDA loan.

Veterans (VA) Loans: The VA Loan is a home-mortgage option available to United States Veterans, Service Members and not remarried spouses. 100%, no-money down VA Loans are issued by qualified lenders and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loans: An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This is a low down payment option for most people, at 3.5% down.  Borrowers with FHA loans pay for mortgage insurance, which protects the lender from a loss if the borrower defaults on the loan. You can shop for an FHA loan from various sources including your local bank, credit union, mortgage lender or mortgage broker.

Lenders Role:
Both banks and credit unions are a great place to start to shop for a mortgage. Many buyers also contact mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders.  If you aren’t sure who to contact first, ask friends and family who they used for their mortgage.

We have found the buyers who have their finances lined out before they begin to look for a home are the most successful. A good lender will prepare the buyer for what needs to be accomplished prior to applying for the loan, they will educate the buyer as to what the process will look like once the buyer has obtained a pre-qualification letter and once the buyer has an accepted offer on a home.

Creative ways to qualify for a mortgage:
The past several years the Portland market become a very “HOT SELLERS MARKET.”   This has resulted in buyers having to get creative to compete.  Some buyers pool their money and their credit scores together for a joint venture for a single family home and/or a duplex or triplex. Other buyers have a parent or family member added to the mortgage, and some buyers have purchased a home with two or more friends. The options can be endless when buyers pool their resources for the same purpose.

Success in the market place:
The most successful buyer has already researched and lined up their lender and have a pre-qualification letter in-hand for a mortgage.  They have found a Realtor to help get them into homes quickly and represent their best interests exclusively.  It is important to identify the price point that is appropriate for the area that they want to live in and most importantly they are prepared to take the journey and do the work to find the perfect home.

For those of you thinking about joining the Renter’s Rebellion in 2017, we wish you great success!

We hope you find this information helpful and we look forward to an opportunity to earn your business if you find yourself in need of a great Realtor to protect your interests and help you navigate the process.

Get your House ready for Spring with These Home Improvement Tips!

Whether or not you intend to sell your house this year, Winter can be very hard on the exterior of your home.  The rain that keeps our beloved Pacific Northwest so lush and green can cause some major damage.  These helpful tips will help you get your home ready for Spring.

Check your Gutters and Roof

This is a great time to make sure your gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and debris!  Gutters tend to clog at the elbow, luckily this piece is easy to remove. Once the gutters are clear, check that they are securely attached and that water is draining away from your foundation.  Improper gutter drainage is a leading cause of moisture in your basement.  Taking the time to make sure they are clear of debris can save you from costly foundation repairs further down the road.

While you’re up there, take a cursory look at your roof.  Address any issues (missing shingles, moss, etc) that will reduce its effectiveness.

Concrete Cracks

Check for cracks in the foundation, concrete patios and walkways.  Cracked concrete allows moisture to undermine the structural integrity of your home over time.  Inspect for cracks and fix them before Spring rains make them a larger issue.  Concrete crack filler or silicone caulk are inexpensive ways to quickly repair small cracks.  If your basement walls have multiple cracks, consider painting the foundation with a specialized sealant.  This will prevent water from seeping in and creating a potentially dangerous mold problem.

Here is a great website filled with information regarding mold prevention!

Windows

Just like cracks in concrete, gaps in the windows can let in water and pests.  Spring is the ideal time to scrape old caulk out and re-do it.  Also, check for any rot in the trim and window sills.  Repair as needed.  Clean your windows and open them up.  Get some fresh air in your home!

Move Firewood

Many people keep their firewood stacked neatly against their house, tucked under the eaves to keep it dry and easily accessible.  Its time to get the wood away from your house.  Not only is it possible to damage your siding, but the damp dark stack of firewood is a breeding ground for insects and pests.  Ideally, firewood should be stored off the ground and two feet from the exterior of your house.

Spruce it up

For an instant face lift and improved curb appeal, rent a pressure washer.  Debris, mold, mildew and moss have a tendency to accumulate over the winter.  Leaving your deck, walkways, driveway and house looking dirty.   Pick a nice day to clean all these surfaces.  You will be instantly pleased by the improvement!

Spring is also the ideal time to freshen up your exterior.  Consider repainting your front door and trim for a high impact/low cost change.  Plant some new flowers, shrubbery or herbs to perk up your yard!  Use compacted soil to fill in any low or sunken spots that have developed over the winter.

Have you been dreaming all winter of starting your own organic garden?  Now is a great time to start!  Check out this helpful article.

 

 

Competing in Portlands HOT sellers market

Competing in Portland’s Hot Real Estate Market

Portland is one of the fastest growing housing markets in the United States. For the third year in a row, Oregon is the top moving destination according to a study conducted by United Van Lines. Many of these transplants are relocating to the Portland Metro Area. Cashing out of costlier housing markets and taking advantage of the relative affordability of Portland. With this influx of cash buyers and limited stock, how do you compete in a hot seller’s market?

Have your finances in order

Know how much you are able to spend on your new home. Don’t forget about the closing and inspection costs when deciding how much money to borrow. Find a mortgage professional and secure a strong pre-approval letter before you begin your search. This will allow you to move quickly when you find the house you want to make an offer on. Sellers have traditionally preferred cash offers due to a perceived expediency in closing and reduced risk of the deal falling apart in the loan process. You can put sellers at ease by having your finances in order at the time of the offer.

Be Realistic

Your Realtor can help you by providing you the closing prices of comparable houses in the neighborhood you are looking. Due to a low inventory, many houses are selling for over asking price. Kelly Stafford, owner of Home Sweet Home Realty, crunched the numbers for HSH’s 2015 sales and on average the winning bids were 11% over list price. This knowledge has been very useful for HSH Realty’s buyer clients. Allowing HSH clients to make strong and realistic offers.

If you are approved for a $300,000 loan don’t overlook houses listed for less. Sometimes it is worth buying a house with some minor issues that may be a turn off to buyers. You can avoid a costly bidding war and put the money you saved towards improving the house. Most importantly, don’t be discouraged if your offer is not accepted. New houses get listed every day. Stay on top of new listings and be ready to make multiple offers. You will get one!

Be Flexible

One of the best strategies for competing in Portland’s Hot Real Estate Market is to be flexible with your terms when writing an offer on a house. There are more factors than money when it comes to closing the deal. Your Realtor can help you gain a competitive edge over other buyers (yes, even cash buyers) by figuring out what is really important to the sellers. Have they found their next house? Offering an extended closing time or free rent back may make your offer stand out. Do the sellers want to close fast? You may consider waiving the financing contingency or reducing the inspection period. Though, as this article points out, it is a risk to waive the Inspection Clause completely.

Make it Personal

Buying and selling a home is an emotional process. One of the simplest things you can do to stand out when making an offer will cost you nothing! Write a letter or make a video of yourself for the sellers. Tell them about yourself and how owning their home would change your life. Are you looking to raise a family? Have you recently relocated to the area? Let them know that you think their home is special. Sellers appreciate knowing that the next person to own their home will love and care for it as they have. This technique can definitely give you an edge, especially when competing against investors.

 

Looking to Buy or Sell? We would love to help! Contact one of our great Home Sweet Home Realtors at 503-515-2986 or online at hshrealty.net.

Open House in Portland Oregons hot real estate market

Open House Weekend!

Come check out one of these beautiful properties in and around Portland this weekend.   Step inside and try one on for size, it might be the perfect fit for you and your loved ones.  We’ve got days and times listed below with lively videos of each home’s interior.

Saturday 8/29 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

1611 N Jarrett – Come visit Leslie

2324 Se Park, Milwaukie, OR – Come visit Tammie

Saturday 8/29 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

4535 NE Prescott – Come visit Leslie

2735 SE 70th – Come visit Tammie

Sunday 8/30 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

SW 107th Ct. in Tigard – Come visit Tammie

Read more about Tigard here: “Tigard – The City Of Trails! Who Knew?”


 

Please view the interior of each home here.  But, be sure to stop by in person to get the full experience of each, and the surrounding neighborhoods.

1611 N. Jarrett – This terrific Overlook home has been immaculately cared for & is move-in ready. Fresh paint inside and out, refinished hardwood floors, new kitchen flooring and original tile-work is intact, appliances are included. Fantastic bonus space in the basement with new FLOR carpet along with additional space for tons of storage. Outside you’ll find new cedar fencing and the greenest of grass. Welcome Home!

2324 Se Park, Milawaukie, OR. – Sweet one level bungalow just blocks from the new Orange Max line. Wonderfully large kitchen has been remodeled and includes an large pantry and appliances are included. There’s Fir Wood floors under the carpet and a bonus space perfect for office or nursery. Large detached garage has space for a shop area and the storage shed holds all the toys. Completely fenced and a custom pet patio for your furry friends. Welcome Home!

4535 NE Prescott – Wow, what a lovely English cottage on almost a quarter acre! Imagine what you could do with this size of lot – it could have up to 3 houses on it! Hardwood floors, sweet Juliet balcony and windows in the 3rd bedroom. The Upstairs bedroom is fantastic with lots of space. Eat-in kitchen is right sized with ample cabinets/counters. There’s even some bonus space above the garage. Welcome Home!

2735 SE 70th – Remodeled bungalow in a fantastic neighborhood! Updated kitchen with very efficient design, stainless appliances, fun chalkboard painted walls and it even has extra storage in the bench of dining nook. The bathroom has also been remodeled with a nod to the period while keeping it modern. Downstairs you will find a bonus family or media room as well as the laundry room and extensive storage. Welcome Home!

SW 107th Ct., Tigard, OR – Wonderfully large home on a beautifully landscaped oversized lot in quiet neighborhood. Conveniently located near parks, walking/biking trails, schools and freeways. RV parking and plenty of space for all the toys. Inside you will find large living spaces, bonus space and tons of storage. Enjoy the backyard oasis with large deck and patio for entertaining and a waterfall/pond. Welcome Home!

Read More about Tigard here:

“Tigard, The City of Trails! Who Knew?”

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

July Record Sales! – Portland

Think we’re slowing down?  Not a chance!

Portland’s Real Estate Market continues to heat up, hitting record sales for July 2015.

Portland Home sales were up by nearly 30% when comparing July 2015 to the same period last year.  An increase in home prices shows that Portland is still a hot market; and that’s great for investors.   Recent studies also reveal that families and first-time home buyers will benefit from investing in homeownership.  Zillow just announced that it is actually now 10% less expensive to buy than rent in Portland metro.   Low interest rates and a more favorable lending environment have buyers snatching up homes at record rates.

Portland Home with bike Portland Oregon for sale in a hot real estate market

The Portland real estate market remains hot, hitting record sales in July. Residents love the biking culture, the food, the ample parks, events, and conscience environmental city directives. Image courtesy, Tomas Quinones

The latest Market Action findings from the Regional Multiple Listing Service report that 3,452 home sales closed in July.  As of this publication, the area has another 3,494 pending sales.  July’s inventory of homes available for sale represents a 1.7 months supply, with the total Days on Market around 45.

“There are only 1.9 months of inventory on the market, a normal market condition is 6 months of inventory!  This is why home values are increasing each month.  If a homeowner is considering selling, there has not been a better time to speak to a Realtor about their home’s value.” – Kelly Stafford, Owner and Principal Broker at Home Sweet Home Realty llc

Average HOME EQUITY of Greater Portland- 6% INCREASE!

Portland Year Over Change 2014 2015
Average Home Price (6.1% increase) 331,400 351,600
Median Home Price (7% increase) 284,900 304,900

A Great Time To Sell:

“This is an incredible time to sell.  Portland homeowners who are deciding to sell are receiving multiple offers and we are seeing winning bids of up to 10% over list price.  Almost 30% of all sales are to cash buyers and to people relocating to Portland,” says Kelly.  “The pace of the market has slowed just a bit, but we think this is the regular August lull.  Everyone is focused on enjoying the last bit of summer and then they will be back at the hunt for a home.”

Economic Health:

  • Portland/Vancouver metro area’s GDP ranks 20th in the nation (Bureau of Economic Development).
  • We have the 6th largest economy on the West Coast.
  • Over the past decade, Portland’s economy grew faster than any other West Coast metro area.
  • Our High-Tech industry has 30% more skilled workers than the U.S. average, with local companies hiring more than 86,000 high-tech workers.

Long Term Health of the City:

What does all this mean?  Portlanders, transplants and our original townies, love their city. Even with the recent grumblings about more traffic and the “old gritty Portland” dying out to gentrification, the truth of the matter is that Portland is still a mecca for funk and creativity in all spheres.

Portland colorful home real estate sale Oregon

Portland homes are known for being vibrant and charming all in one. Image courtesy, Megan Coughlin

Fear Not! Portland preserves it’s unique character:

 

Rest assured, beautiful Mount Hood still overlooks the city, waiting for her weekend warriors. Our coffee is still rich and robust; and our craft beers await you and a good book companion. So, settle in and find a bungalow of your own in this enriching and vibrant city.

 

TRIVIA – Homes near which grocery store boasted higher increases in property values?

Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods

 

 

July Home Sales Set Record – Portland

 

 

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

 

Rent vs. Buy in Portland?

Should I Rent or Buy in Portland?  Zillow economists say Buy!

Rent in Portland is growing at TWICE, yes TWICE, the national average, reports Zillow.  How does the cost of renting compare to buying?  You better sit down.  Homeowners will spend about 21% of their monthly income on their new mortgage, while renters will cough up a whopping 31%!  Zillow also reports, that as of May, the average rent in Rip City tipped in at $1,629 per month.   

Rent vs Buy in Portland

Is it better to Rent or Buy in Portland? The rental market is currently skyrocketing. Zillow recently reported that local renters will spend an average of 31% of their monthly hard earned cash on rent alone.  Homeowners will spend drastically less, at only 21% of their monthly income going toward their new mortgage.

This year has been particularly hard on renters.  Many have seen monumental 30%+ rent increases and no-cause evictions, while developers capitalize on the sizzling hot Portland real estate market.  In an effort to give voice to the disenfranchised, members of the local community have organized to form the Portland Renters’ Assembly.  Their prominent goal is to enact a rent control policy, a tool used in some cities that sets a cap on the amount that a landlord can raise rent. 

The Alternative –  Fight the Power! 

And, Become a Proud Homeowner.

Consider The Following:

  • Mortgage rates are still at historic lows.   
  • Real Estate is a solid investment – Portland home values are expected to increase almost 6% in the next year. Home values rose nearly 7% from 2014 to 2015.
  • Cost Analysis might show that you are paying more in rent than you would on your new mortgage. Not sold?  Try out Trulia’s awesome Rent vs. Buy Calculator.  Plug in your rent and the value of the property that you are eyeing; and, voila, Trulia spits out an instant comparison. It’s an approximate figure, of course, but come out of the clouds and get some concrete numbers under your feet!    
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are set up to bolster first-time homebuyers by requiring only a low 3.5% down payment. And, they recently lowered the insurance premium, making your monthly mortgage payment even lower.
  • The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) offers an assortment of assistance programs for first-time home buyers.  To lower your monthly mortgage payment and create more disposable income, ask about the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC).

Break Even in 1.2 years –

Many first-time home buyers get nervous at the initial investment that comes with securing a mortgage.  So, in a more apples to apples approach, Zillow analyzed the costs, transaction fees, inspections, insurance ect. of buying a new home in Portland.  That amount was then compared to the true cost of renting, including rent and deposits.  Considerable line items, such as future home-value appreciation, tax breaks, and rent growth, are factored in as well.   The analysis shows that, when buying, the “breakeven point” in some areas is as low as 1.2 years.

A qualified realtor can assist you in securing a loan officer, scoping neighborhoods and home values, and evaluating where the local market is headed.   For more information, contact the team at Home Sweet Home Realty.

 

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

Home Buyer’s Assistance

Need Assistance In Buying Your First Home?

GREAT NEWS! Have your down payment matched!  The Home Buyer’s Assistance program in Oregon has been extended until 2022 for residents looking to save for a new home.   

The Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative website explains this amazing home buyer’s assistance program:

“every dollar saved by a participant is matched by the Initiative, typically with three dollars for every one dollar saved.  IDA participants can then buy a home, get education or training, start or develop a small business, do certain home repairs, or buy equipment to support employment”.

Portland Home Buyer's Assistance Program IDA for down payment

The Home Buyer’s Assistance program in Oregon has been extended until 2022 for residents looking to save for a new home.  This amazing program offer down payment assistance to Portlanders.

For more information visit the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative or the Portland Housing Center. These organizations offer tools and information toward creating homeownership for all Oregonians. 

 

Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative
c/o Neighborhood Partnerships
310 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 715
Portland OR 97204

Portland Housing Center
3233 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232

 

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

Is Portland’s Growth Sustainable?

Portland is bursting at the seams with exciting new restaurants, shops, apartments, and PEOPLE!  But, the quality of life has remained consistently, well, GREAT!  City leaders and community members have been teaming up to ensure that the future of the city stays on course with the standards that everyone has come to expect and appreciate.

Coffee isn't the only thing on the tip of everyone's tongue these days. Portlander's are pooling together and taking an active role in our city's growth.

Coffee isn’t the only thing on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. Portlander’s are pooling together and taking an active role in our city’s growth.  The Portland growth plan aims to nurture our “micro” communities.  Image courtesy, Sean Savage.

Currently, the city is updating the Growth Scenarios Report, which forecasts expected distribution of future growth, as well as the benefits from infrastructure investments identified in the Citywide Systems Plan (CSP) and Transportation System Plan (TSP).  This information, coupled with community input, allows the city to refresh the grand finale, 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

So, what kind of growth can we expect in Portland?

Well, the statistics from the Growth Scenarios Report show that in the next 20 years, there will be roughly 142,000 new jobs to support 123,000 more households.

What’s the Strategy?

Portland’s unique mix of urban amenities, chummy, locally-owned businesses, and gregarious neighborhoods have been nurtured by the city’s “Centers and Corridors” growth management strategy. 

“By focusing growth in vibrant centers and along bustling corridors, the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan helps us reduce carbon emissions, gets people closer to jobs, provides more affordable housing, and creates demand for stores and restaurants. It also makes better use of our existing infrastructure like streets, transit systems, parks and pipes.”portlandoregon.gov

Hot Spots To Keep Your Eyes On:

1. The hot new Williams Corridor in Northeast Portland. This vibrant area is also the location of our new office.  Come visit Home Sweet Home, located at 4555 N. Williams Ave! 

2. Interstate Corridor running through Northeast into North Portland. This home for sale at 1606 N. Holman St. is located in one of North Portland’s best neighborhoods, Arbor Lodge.

3. Woodstock Blvd in Southeast Portland.

What about jobs?

Outside of the “Centers and Corridors” strategy, the city is focusing major job growth in the industrial areas of Portland, with sensitive attention being given to environmental concerns.  These warehouse and heavy manufacturing jobs support a balanced economy by providing decent wages to the non-college educated population.

According to the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA), which monitors and sets strategies for land use in conjunction with employment goals, Portland is on track in meeting their 2035 target.


Portlander’s give their take on life here and the Portland Growth Plan.

A vote is tentatively scheduled for mid July to recommend the draft Comprehensive Plan to City Council. The Recommended Draft will head to Council in August, opening the next period for public comment.

Check and confirm times and locations by visiting the Comprehensive Plan’s Update calendar.

N Portland

Saturday, July 11, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Peninsula Park Community Center

700 N Rosa Parks Way

E Portland

Saturday, June 13, 12 – 3 p.m.

Midland Library

805 SE 122nd Ave

Thursday, July 9, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

East Portland Community Center

740 SE 106th Ave

SE Portland

Thursday, July 9, 4 – 7 p.m.

Mt Scott Community Center

5530 SE 72nd Ave

SW Portland

Tuesday, June 16, 4 – 7 p.m.

SWNI at Multnomah Arts Center

7688 SW Capitol Hwy

Wednesday, July 22, 3 – 6 p.m.

Capitol Hill Library

10723 SW Capitol Hwy

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

TOP Home Improvement Projects for Home Buyers in Portland

A huge percentage of Portland homes were built mid-century or are pushing the centennial mark.  There is even a current grass roots campaign  to “save the historic homes”.  Many feel that the old charm is what Portland is known for.  But, no matter which side of the debate you are on, if you are planning on owning a home here, chances are that your distinguished domicile needs a little pampering.  Hey, we all deserve to age gracefully! 

Outlining a few key projects from the start, will help in maintaining the comfort, cost, and beauty of your home.  Let’s keep that investment working for you for years to come! 

TIPS When Starting Any Home Improvement Project:

  • If you are in the process of buying or selling a home, Portland offers a number of thorough and knowledgable Home Inspectors.
  • Be sure your Contractor is Licensed and Bonded in Oregon
  • Always ask for References
  • Do your research on materials and options ahead of time
  • Always ask for a FREE estimate
  • Compare quotes
  • Ask about ENERGY STAR efficiency products and rebates
  • Visit Energy Trust of Oregon for Incentive programs and information for home owners.   
  • Always insist upon a solid warranty
  • Be sure to research proper permitting for DIY projects
  • After purchasing your new home, contact the Energy Trust of Oregon for their free home energy audit.
  • NW Natural will perform a once a year inspection on any gas appliance

Hard Wood Refinish

It’s like winning the lottery!  Many home buyers are overjoyed to tear up old carpet and  discover a beautiful original wood floor beneath.  Original wood floors in old Portland homes are usually a solid and sturdy oak, which offer history and character.  Roughly 95% of these homes have oak or a mix of oak and fir throughout.  Oak, being your true hardwood, is best used in high traffic areas; fir, a softwood, is preferred for bedrooms and hallways.  The beauty of this amazing discovery is that it can probably withstand a good sanding and refinishing job to bring it back to life.  Most oak floors can sustain about 3 sandings before the tongue and groove begin to show. 

Thinking of Refinishing or installing hardwood? Know your options and find a professional in the area with great references.

Thinking of Refinishing or installing hardwood? Know your options and find a professional in the area with great references. Image courtesy, Will Keightley

But before you DIY this one, please note a few things…

  • Water & Catalytic Water Based Polyurethanes are stronger, dry faster, and have less odor and there is minimal color change over time.
  • The Oil Based Polyurethanes coatings are about 30% cheaper, take much longer to dry and cure, has a strong odor, and the color will darken and yellow some over time.  For these reasons, this type of coating is not recommended for occupied homes.
  • All hardwoods Will Dent, ding, and Scratch
  • Check the hardness of the wood : a hard wood can last well over 10 years, while a soft wood will look worn in 3.
  • Types of wood: Oak, Fur, Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Bamboo, Quark.  The list goes on and on.

Exterior Siding and Paint –

The gorgeous vintage homes around town can be a blessing and a curse.  Over the years, quick fixes were applied to the exterior of some homes.  In fact, the original wood siding, usually fir or cedar, is sometimes buried three layers below the surface! 

Around a hundred years ago through the early 1960s, lead paint and other products like cement-asbestos siding were applied to sides of homes.  Left intact, these products do very little to no harm.  However, should you wish to see your siding in all its original glory, or simple choose a brand new exterior material, license professionals may be needed.  The EPA has mandated an abatement program that requires the careful removal of any flagged substance and the capture of its harmful dust particles.

Current Siding Options:

  • Cedar Flares or Shingles – This is the highest price option, but offers the natural, unbeatable appeal of real wood. 
  • Wood Siding – Needs proper prep and painting, and can last 20 – 25 years. Offers a more natural look than cement board.
  • Cement Board (Hardy Board) – This option is fairly inexpensive.  It needs proper prep and painting, and can last a whopping 50 years!
  • Vinyl – This is the least expensive option. Vinyl cannot hold paint well, so you are stuck with that particular color.
  • Stucco – Offers a natural appearance that can be molded, stained, or painted.

Whichever option you choose, a contractor or professional installation company is recommended.

Hot Water Heater –

Check the age of your hot water heater and examine the area for any leaks.  If there is water leaking from the tank, chances are, it needs to be replaced. 

A new hot water heater can cost anywhere from $500 – $1000, and will last around 7- 9 years.

Sewer Scope –

Having a sewer scope performed is recommended before buying a home in Portland.  Although it may vary in jurisdiction across Oregon, in Portland, the homeowner is responsible for the integrity of the line leading from their home to the curb or property line. 

A professional sewer scope inspection take approximately one hour to perform, and will cost around $100 for a single family home.  And, the inspection can often be negotiated as a part of the Buyer’s Repair Addendum / Request for Repair during the inspection period. Your inspection will determine if a quick fix or spot treatment can easily be performed.  Your inspector will then give you recommendations as to when to recheck and service the line again in the future.  In more drastic cases, a failed inspection would usually require replacing the old line with an entirely new line of ABS piping.  Pricing would then depend on the length of the line to be replaced and any obstructions such as driveways, landscaping, or retaining walls. 

Gas Furnace:

If properly serviced, a good furnace can last 20 – 25 years.  Smart homeowners will have a regular service call performed each year.   Besides the age of a furnace, factors like square footage, direction the home faces, number and age of windows, type of insulation, number of people in the home, and climate and humidity will all play a roll in the effectiveness of your furnace.

When a buying an older home, it may be beneficial to have an inspection performed.  Technicians will examine the homes ductwork, insulation, electrical service and wiring, piping, filters, grills, etc. before making their recommendation. 

QUICK TIPS:

Energy Trust of Oregon currently has an incentive program running for home owners who replace their old furnaces with those that are ENERGY STAR Efficient and EPA approved.

Add Insulation into the attic, seal any cracks.  Apply weather stripping to doors and windows.  These tricks will drastically reduce your energy bill. 

NEW Windows –  

New windows can add a whole new level of style and panache, and will help an old home feel clean and fresh.  Say goodbye to paint chipping, noise, cold air seeping in and out, and high energy bills.  New windows even work to prevent fading in your wood floors, rugs and artwork.  They are easier to open/close, clean, and lock.

New windows can improve the look and energy efficiency of a Portland home.

New windows can improve the look and energy efficiency of a Portland home. Image Courtesy, Gord Webster

But beware shoppers, all windows are NOT created equal.   The quality of the glass and framing system can affect their life and efficiency.   Be sure to research and ask questions about the number of glass panes used, the type of filling between those panes, and the number of coats applied to the surface of the panes.  There are also pros and cons involved with the material you choose for the frame.  Options include composite, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass, wood and wood covered with an aluminum or vinyl.   A solid choice upfront will last 20 years, and offer a huge savings in energy efficiency.  For more information on selecting windows, click here. 

New Roof –

Replacing a roof can be a somewhat costly endeavor, running between $5000 – $8000.  But, depending on the material and quality that you choose, can last 15 – 50 years. 

Wood Shake or Cedar Shingles – 15 – 25 years

Composite – 15 – 35 years

Tile or Metal – 30 – 50 years

A Roof Certification is helpful in buying and selling properties. They are usually good for around 3 years, and run approximately $300. To help maintain the life of your roof, clean the gutters regularly and investigate companies that offer gentle cleaning methods to remove moss and algae.

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.

8 Tips for Selecting a Portland Realtor

Buying or Selling a home is a personal and life changing decision.   Navigating a hot and fast real estate market, like Portland’s, can be daunting.  Homes are disappearing at record rate, and bidding wars are rampant.   So why not choose a champion to be on your team?

It’s crucial to find a realtor who knows the area, and will listen to your wants and needs.  A good realtor is fast and responsive, can price a home accordingly, and negotiates like a bulldog.  The bottom line is that you want to feel confident that you’ve gotten the most out of your dollar, and that there won’t be any unwanted headaches down the road.  Select someone from the start who you’ll want fighting from your corner.

8 Tips for Selecting a Portland Realtor :

1. Experience:

The number one question that you should be asking is: “How many homes did you close in the past year?”  You should also ask to see examples.  Some realtors will even be able to provide references of past clients.  This will give you an idea if they are successful, and if they are experienced in your type of transaction.  Also, you’ll want to know how long they’ve been doing business. Five years or more is a good measuring stick. 

Choose a Portland area realtor who is skilled at handling your type of transaction, from REO to commercial investments. Image courtesy: Jeff Turner https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/

Choose a Portland area realtor who is skilled at handling your type of transaction, from REO to commercial investments. Image courtesy: Jeff Turner 

2. Local Knowledge, Facts, Figures,Track Record:

If you are a buyer, a good realtor should immediately be able to rattle off a portfolio of prospective properties that will fit your needs.  Some will even be able to get you in to a showing that day.

If you are a seller, you’ll want to see examples of properties they’ve successfully sold in the past year that are similar to yours in size, price, and location.  Also, how many days were these homes on the market?  The key to selling homes quickly is to price them properly right out of the gate.  Find a realtor who is up to speed on comparables and appraisals.  A home that sits unsold on the market, could mean another month of mortgage eating away at your savings.

Finally, both buyers and sellers will want to compare the listing price to the final sale price in completed transactions.  This will give you an excellent indicator of whether your realtor has quality negotiating skills.

3. What kind of Commission do they require?:

While most realtors stick to the typical commission rate in their area, everything is negotiable.  The typical commission rate in the Portland Metro area is 6%, which is paid by the seller and split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.  However, some brokerages offer a total of only a 4% commission rate to list a seller’s property.  This means that the buyer’s agent would collect 2.5%, and the seller’s agent receives 1.5%.  With properties in Portland easily bringing in $300,000 and over, this could mean the difference of thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket!

A knowledgable realtor will price your home correctly from the start, to ensure a quick sale. Portland, Oregon Image courtesy: American Advisors Group

A knowledgable realtor will price your home correctly from the start, to ensure a quick sale. Portland, Oregon Image courtesy: American Advisors Group

4. Advertising:

What kind of a marketing campaign will they run?  A marketing campaign for a listing can include the following: professional photographs, video tours, listings on real estate websites, advertisements in local newspapers and industry magazines, open houses (frequency?), social media, and signage. 

5. Accolades, Reviews and Awards:

Take a look at their online reputation on consumer review sites like Google +, and Yelp.  You can also check to see if they’ve won any awards in their field by checking their professional profile on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, and Realtor.com.   

6. Customer Service:

As you are interviewing your potential realtor, take note if they are actively listening to your needs.  If the broker works with a large agency, find out who will be the main point of contact, and is this someone you will be able to work with?  Also, how many active clients do they service at one time?

7. Communication and Response Time:

Ask about their response time.  Your realtor should always call you back within 24 hours, and a great realtor will respond within a few hours.   If you are the buyer in a hot seller’s market like Portland, sluggish communication could prevent you from landing your dream home.  You’ll want an agent who responds quickly and in the means that is most convenient for you, whether it be text, email, or carrier pigeon. 

8. Credentials and Specialization:

Even realtors who have been in the business for decades make mistakes.  There are so many constant changes in the industry from zoning to REO transactions, that education can outweigh tenure when securing the deal.  That is why it’s important to look at those little letters behind a realtors name, and find someone certified in handling your unique situation.

R (Realtor): Member of NAR, the National Association of Realtors. This realtor has taken an oath to support their code of ethics.

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Realtor has completed additional training to garner this high designation.

ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Realtor has completed additional training with focus on representing buyer-clients.

SRS (Seller Representative Specialist):  This designation is awarded by the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) for meeting set educational requirements, professional standards, experience and performance.

CRB (Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager) Realtor has completed advanced educational and professional requirements.

SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist): Realtor has completed training specific in servicing buyers and sellers over the age of fifty.

ALCs (Accredited Land Consultants): Realtor is a highly qualified expert in land transactions.  They have completed the LANDU education program and adhere to a code of conduct, all reviewed by the REALTORS® Land Institute

CPM (Certified Property Management) – These individuals are experts in real estate management.

CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) –  Realtor has completed extensive training to receive this global standard for professional excellence.

Written by Jennifer Kane, Expanded Exposure LLC.