Buying Now Makes A Lot of Sense

The Portland Business Journal reports today that the average Portland apartment rents for $927 per month, according to Real Facts. In downtown Portland, the average rent for an apartment is $1.68 per square foot, or about $1,344 for an 800 square foot unit.

Makes Sense to Buy Now

With today’s low interest rates, it may be wise to consider buying and building equity, especially if you think you’ll stay put for a few years.

Check out our Open Houses this weekend at www.pru-nw.com.

If you’d like to see what your financing options are and learn how much you can afford, visit our mortgage partner HomeServices Lending of Oregon.

 


Homeowners Advice: Get Ready for Fall

Fall treeFall is just around the corner in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s a great time to think about home maintenance. To retain your home’s best value, it’s important to stay on top of projects and repairs, both large and small. At Prudential Northwest Properties, we believe seasonal maintenance is a great way to stay aware of issues that need to be addressed.

Small repairs may seem insignificant, but letting them add up over time can lead to an overwhelming list down the road.

Take a personal inventory of repairs that need to be addressed. These could range from paver stones that need to be repositioned in a patio to a large-scale roof replacement. Walk your home inside and out, from top to bottom, and make a list of issues.

Look for paint that could use some retouching, tiles that need to be grouted, loose or scuffed baseboards, broken screens, squeaky doors, and everything in-between.

Budget and prioritize what can be addressed now, what needs a professional to fix, and what needs to wait for available funds.

Fall is also the time of year to prepare your home for the coming winter months. It is much easier to install storm windows during temperate weather than during a blizzard!

Be sure to address each of these issues each fall:

  • Call the HVAC guy:  Your unit has been working hard all summer during our hot weather. Now is a great time to service your unit before the chill of winter sets in.
  • Check and clean chimney:  Dirty chimneys cause hundreds of home fires every year. Be sure to have a professional clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney each fall.
  • Clean the gutters:  It’s not just about appearances, though clean gutters do look better. A clogged gutter system can back-up water on your roof and cause leaks.
  • Check your attic and roof:  Inspect the metal flashing around chimneys, pipes and vents. Look for loose shingles or tiles. Some observations can be made from the ground with binoculars or from a ladder, but think safety first and call in a professional if you need assistance.
  • Yard maintenance:  Be sure to rake leaves and pick up downed limbs during Fall. Empty and put away flower pots. Address flower beds and put down new mulch for a clean appearance.
  • Check your windows and doors:  Are there seals that need attention? If you have storm windows, now is a good time to install them.
  • Prepare winter equipment:  Put away your lawn mower (yay!) and service your chainsaw. Check to be sure your snow shovel is in working order in case you need it. It’s better to know now that a tool isn’t working than to discover this on a day you need it! 

Fall is a great time to address the needs of your property, while the weather is still warm and the sun still shines. Take an inventory of your home’s needs and be sure to follow through with proper home maintenance. When it comes to your home’s value, you’ll be glad you took care of things early.

If you need professional assistance, our HomeServices program is the place to turn. Their vendors have all been carefully screened to meet the highest standards of customer service. Visit www.HomeservicesNW.com today for details.

A Few Things to Consider Before You Sell

Deciding to put your home on the market can bring on a wide range of emotions. You may feel excitement at the prospect of moving on or moving up. Some sellers feel anticipation about what the future holds and about what kind of deals buyers may bring to the table.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may be feeling sadness or even regret. That’s because selling your house can feel a lot more like selling your home. Any and all of these emotional responses are normal! In order to stick to your guns and to keep on the sunnier side of the selling process it’s important to do five key things before you sell. Feeling prepared and in control of a situation is paramount to feeling good about your decision.

Before You Sell

Here are the five pre-selling tips:

  • Organize Paperwork: You most likely have papers regarding any home warranties. Prospective buyers are going to want to have these. Having them ready for viewing is a great selling point. You might also consider putting together a list of your current contacts for pool maintenance, lawn care, and even repair work companies.
  • Get an Inspection: Even “almost new” homes can have hidden damage. Most every buyer in today’s market will be getting an inspection. Beat them to the punch and have your own inspection performed so that you are not surprised come negotiation time.
  • Perform Repairs/Get Estimates: Having your own inspection gives you the time to identify problem areas and either repair them or get estimates to have ready for prospective buyers. They’ll appreciate how organized and up-front you are!
  • Get Organized: Start packing as soon as you decide to list your home. Removing or packing away some of your personal belongings has two great benefits. First, it allows some breathing room for your home to be staged and cleaned for showings (see below). Buyers want to be able to see the house, not your stuff. Second, it starts the process of moving on. As you pack up your things you’ll find that the house will feel less and less familiar, which can be great for letting go.
  • Stage: This means it’s time to amp up your curb appeal for starters. Trim trees and shrubs and pick up any debris from your yard. Keep your lawn in showing ready state all year around. You should also consider staging outdoor areas with freshly potted flowers, comfy chairs, and even outdoor accessories, such as lanterns, throws, and dinnerware. You may wonder what these very practical tasks have to do with emotions, but the truth is, they are so inextricably linked! Our experiences dictate our emotions. So, take the time to prepare for the selling process. Dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s and then sit back and enjoy your journey into a new stage of life!

If you’re thinking of selling and would like to talk it over with a real estate professional first, please contact one of our trusted brokers at Prudential Northwest Properties. We would be happy to answer your questions to help you make the best decision possible.


The Scoop on Closing Costs

Are you a buyer preparing to close on a house? Now is a good time to refresh yourself on the most common closing costs.

There are more expenses to buying a house than just the monthly mortgage payment. More than likely you’ll need to come up with some cold, hard cash in order to finalize the deal.

Here’s some common closing costs to consider:Girl painting home

  • Down Payment: Due to today’s economic climate most buyers will need to put down at least 20 percent. This makes good financial sense. If you can’t afford to put 20 percent down then it’s very likely you can’t afford to buy that particular house.
  • Loan Origination: This is what the lender charges you to underwrite the loan, meaning what they charge for their time and all the paperwork they need to do.
  • Points: You’ll often see that different lenders have different “rates” and different “points” they charge. By paying points you can receive a lower interest rate, but this means more cash at closing.
  • Credit Score: You can access your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com, however, in order to see your credit “score” — the magic number that lenders use to determine your interest rate — you’ll likely need to pay a small fee.
  • Home Inspection: You want to be sure, no matter if the house is new or old, that you get a home inspection by a qualified inspector. You may love the house and the price, but if you find out that a big ticket item needs to be replaced you will be able to renegotiate the price or decide to change your tune on buying the home. A typical inspection will run you from around $300 to $500.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): This is what a lender charges if you are putting less than 20 percent down on the cost of the home. It usually runs about .5 to 1 percent of the total cost of the loan and is simply a safeguard to protect the lender should you default.
  • Other Small Fees: Insurance escrow, property tax escrow, notary feeds, land surveys, deed recording, etc. Be sure to ask your Prudential Northwest Properties real estate professional which will apply to your contract and what the expected costs will be.

Congratulations on the decision to buy. Owning a home can be a wonderfully fulfilling experience. Just be sure you’re ready for the closing costs coming your way!

Still have questions? Click here to contact HomeServices Lending NW online or call 503-970-8515 to speak to a lending specialist.

Innovative Metro Brokers Elizabeth Wren Shiffler and Tatiana Xenelis Pound the Pavement with Car-lite Housing Info

Portland Afoot

Wren Shiffler shares Portland Afoot neighborhood information with a Kenton resident.

Wren and Tatiana, two Prudential Northwest Properties Metro branch Brokers with a keen interest in selling “car-lite” housing, have partnered with local non-profit Portland Afoot to share helpful information about area neighborhoods.

By hand-delivering a two-page publication featuring an area’s WalkScore, access to Zipcars, nearby bike shops, bus frequency, bikeways, and other helpful information, the two are spreading the word about sustainable/low-impact living and meeting local residents and homeowners.

To learn more, or to suggest which area they should focus on next, contact Wren at wrenpdx@gmail.com or Tatiana at tatianapdxrealtor@gmail.com.

Click here to read more.

 


Is a reverse mortgage good for elderly homeowners?

Is a reverse mortgage good for elderly homeownersA reverse mortgage is an increasingly popular option for older Americans to convert home equity into cash. Money can then be used to cover home repairs, everyday living expenses, and medical bills.

Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the homeowner, who continues to own the home and hold title to it.

According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the money given by the lender is tax-free and does not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits, although it may affect the homeowners’ eligibility for certain kinds of government assistance, including Medicaid.

Homeowners must be at least 62 and own their own homes to get a reverse mortgage. No income or medical requirements are necessary to qualify, and they may be eligible even if they still owe money on a first or second mortgage. In fact, many seniors get reverse mortgages to pay off the original loan.

A reverse mortgage is repaid when the property is sold or the owner moves. Should the owner die before the property is sold, the estate repays the loan, plus any interest that has accrued. Consult your tax advisor to see if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

To learn more, please call 503-906-8990 or click here to visit the Columbia Mortgage website.

[Columbia Mortgage license MB38233]


Warren Buffett Says Single-Family Homes Are Now Very Good Investments

In this February 27, 2012 interview on CNBC, Warren Buffett responds to the question: If he was a young individual investor with the option of buying his first home or investing in stocks, what would he do? He responds, “If I knew where I was going to want to live the next five or 10 years I would buy a home and I’d finance it with a 30-year mortgage, and it’s a terrific deal…”

His comments on real estate begin at the 5:13 minute mark in the interview below.

We agree, single-family homes are a great investment now. If you would like to discuss home ownership opportunities, please contact a Prudential Northwest Properties agent today or search for available homes on our website at www.prunw.com


How Do You Spot a Foreclosure Rescue Scam Artist?

With foreclosure rates high, homeowners all over the country are struggling to secure their finances and save their home. Unfortunately, this means that foreclosure rescue and mortgage modification scams are on the rise as well.

So how do these scammers move in? Many companies say they can get a change to a loan that will reduce the homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment. Others say they’re affiliated with the government, or the lender, and many even offer a money-back guarantee. These con artists often claim they can ‘save’ your home, often pretending that they have direct contact with your mortgage servicer. They ask for a fee, or require you to make mortgage payments directly to them, and then they disappear with your money.

And how do they find distressed homeowners? Some watch for public foreclosure notices in newspapers and online, or check public files at local government offices, and then send personalized letters or make phone calls directly to the homeowner. Some place ads online or on TV and let the homeowners come to them.

Here are a few different commonly used tactics that scammers use to lure in distressed homeowners.

The Rent-to-Buy

Companies or scammers who use the rent-to-buy scheme tell the owner to surrender the title to their house as part of a deal that allows them to stay there as a renter with the promise that they can repurchase the property later.

The Counselor

The company or scammer tells the homeowner that for a fee, they’ll negotiate a deal with your lender to reduce your mortgage payments or to save your home. Often, they claim to be attorneys or represent a law firm.

Bait-and-Switch

In this type of scam, con artists give homeowners documents to sign to get an additional loan, which they claim will make their loan current. Usually somewhere hidden in the document is information surrendering the title of the home to the scammers in exchange for a rescue loan.

The Auditor

Here, an “auditor” offers to have an attorney or real estate expert review your mortgage document to determine if your lender complied with the law. They ask for an upfront fee and then disappear. These scam artists often call themselves forensic loan auditors, mortgage loan auditors or foreclosure prevention auditors.

So how can you tell if you are dealing with a foreclosure rescue scam artist? Keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

Beware of anyone who:

– Asks you to pay an upfront fee in exchange for counseling or loan modification

– Pressures you to sign papers immediately

– Asks for payment by wire transfer or cashier’s check

– Claims they will buy your home from you so you can repurchase it over time

– Tells you not to contact your bank, lender or lawyer

– Asks you to make mortgage payments to them, instead of your lender

Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company, and never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call 503-906-8990 to speak with one of the trusted mortgage consultants at Columbia Mortgage. To learn more, visit www.columbiamortgage.net.

License #MB38233


Kitchen Upgrades to Give Your House an Advantage over the Competition

Stainless steel appliancesWhether they are entertaining, creating new recipes or sharing culinary ideas with their spouses, today’s homeowners are spending more time in the kitchen than ever before. Not only can an updated, professional looking kitchen make food preparation easy and even enjoyable, spending some time and money in the kitchen before listing your home for sale is a great way to get buyers interested in your home.

The first step in making sure your kitchen is up to par is to upgrade to more durable products such as stainless steel kitchen sinks, refrigerators and ovens. Not only does stainless steel resist scratches, it is also easy to maintain.

Stainless steel, as it is a neutral color, is easy to match with just about any modern kitchen décor. These appliances usually come in a high-shine, mirror finish or a less bright, but still beautiful, brushed stainless steel finish. Stainless steel can withstand very hot and very cold temperatures, making the material ideal for appliances. Unlike plastic or ceramic, stainless steel does not break easily, even if dropped. Stainless steel may dent, but it will not shatter or chip the way other materials will.

Some home designers recommend wood cabinets as a way to contrast, complement and even add a warm, organic element to kitchens with stainless steel appliances. A nice backsplash can also do wonders.

For those looking for rich color along with durability, cast iron is a good alternative for sinks. If you have the room, you may want to think about adding additional sinks. Not only will multiple sinks simplify the cooking process, it also allows for better cleanup and organization.

Another great amenity for the kitchen is a pot filler, or an extendable faucet that can be installed next to your stovetop or prep sink for easy water access.

For the home chef who wants a professional place to cook, granite and quartz are the leading choices for countertops, especially for pastry chefs seeking an expansive workspace and a cool surface for rolling out dough.

If you’re looking to make food preparation even easier, movable cutting boards, rinsing baskets and various trays and receptacles will help get the job done quickly and properly.

Whether you’re updating your kitchen for your enjoyment or to help your house stand out among the competition, these ideas can do wonders in opening up the eyes of a potential buyer. To find a reputable contractor to assist you with a kitchen upgrade, please visit www.HomeServicesNW.com or call 1-877-231-3210 for assistance.


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