What are the top most desired features for buyers looking to invest in a home? According to a new study released by the National Association of Home Builders, the top four all center around saving energy.
Many Portland home sellers are making improvements to reduce energy use and otherwise make their homes more environmentally friendly. But how can you make sure these green features will pay off by adding to the value of your home, and not leave you in the red?
According to the US Green Building Council, “Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient and have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes.” And, let’s face it – the house with the green roof is going to be the most talked-about one on the block.
The numbers from the National Association of Home Builders show that home buyers are definitely looking for green home features. Many Portland home owners have already added or plan to add these features, so that when buyers come to their door, they won’t have to wonder whether the good deal they’re getting on the home will turn into a bad one when the electric bill comes in. Green home features like passive solar heating, native plant landscaping and ecologically responsible building materials can also add to the beauty and unique quality of a home.
The real estate industry is changing to help buyers, sellers, real estate agents and home appraisers understand environmentally friendly and energy efficient home improvements, from bamboo flooring to skylights. And as usual, Portland real estate agents are leading the way by using new codes and fields in the MLS system that reflect information about green home features. Many home appraisers also have specialized training to be able to calculate the efficiency of solar panels or the capacity of the rainwater catchment system.
Some home features might fit neatly into the MLS form, which is why choosing a good real estate agent is essential to making your home’s green improvements stand out to buyers. Your Portland real estate agent should provide all of the relevant information the listing and work with the appraiser to ensure that these features are given proper value. Personally I hold certifications as a Earth Advantage Broker and an Energy Trust Trade Ally.
Not sure if your home could benefit from green improvements? The Carbon Footprint Calculator from the National Association of Realtors’ Green Resource Council will give you an idea of how energy efficient your home is. Talk to your real estate agent about what makes sense for your home and will translate into a better resale value and make your home stand out in the listings page.
Whether you’re decorating your new home, need to add a few eye-catching touches to the home you’re selling, or looking for a place to donate your unneeded goods, Portland thrift shops are the place to go. Your purchase or donation supports a small business or local causes ranging from animal welfare to housing for the homeless, and with over fifty thrift shops in the city, there are plenty to choose from.
Thrift shopping is practically an unofficial sport in Portland, Oregon. Where else are our primal hunting instincts so well rewarded with kitschy and beautiful finds for great prices? Thrift shops are also a great reflection of the neighborhood’s character – a sneak peek into the lives led behind the front doors along your street.
Here are some of Portland’s popular spots and undiscovered gems of the thrift shopping universe, listed by neighborhood so you can find one close by.
Selling “everything from the practical to the beautiful”, Village Merchants in Richmond is an all-time favorite. This neighborhood as well as the nearby Hawthorne district are the place to go for bargain antiques, collectibles and clothing. If you are on the get-rid-of-it side of things, many of these stores will sell items on consignment or accept trade-ins on clothing.
Farther south, the Sellwood neighborhood is the home of the infamous Goodwill Outlet. Also known simply as “The Bins”, the place is a mecca for those who love junk. Everything that doesn’t sell in Goodwill Stores is taken here and given one last chance to sell at super-cheap prices. You might not find a treasure, but the camaraderie of sorting and snatching is what makes the experience unique.
The neighborhoods here each hold their own thrifting gems. ReRun, in the King neighborhood on Fremont, attracts thrifters from around the metro area. The extensive selection offers something of everything – clothes, collectibles, furniture and household necessities.
Just around the corner in Beaumont-Wilshire, you’ll find Patti Smith West, where you can find unique art made from repurposed items. For vintage bling and one-of-a-kind clothing, head to Concordia neighborhood’s Red Fox Vintage, another Portland favorite.
Hazelwood home owners are lucky to have Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in their neighborhood. Buy or donate hardware and paint to while doing the earth a favor and keeping it out of the landfill. They accept and sell household items as well.
Nearby Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood is home to a similar used-housewares shop, Tool Shed Ted’s, as well as Finder’s Keepers Thrift Shop – both worth checking out.
These are just some of the many Portland neighborhoods that thrift shoppers love – and you will too. If you are selling or buying a home in Portland, don’t hesitate to contact me. Just like thrift shopping, handling real estate transactions requires a discerning eye and persistent attitude. Your Portland real estate agent will walk you through the entire home buying or selling process. Now that’s priceless!
Spring is a great time to get your on the market and sold with the help of your Portland real estate agent. Buyers are emerging from their winter hibernation and are motivated to buy before the inevitable summer price hikes. Getting your home sale over with in the next couple of months will free up the rest of your summer for relaxation – so what are you waiting for? Use our quick checklist to make sure your home is in shape to sell this spring.
Home exterior spic and span. Portland’s northwest winters can be hard on the outside of your home. The gutters may be full of pine needles and leaves and cobwebs are sure to be tangled around light fixtures and windows. Some home siding materials may be susceptible to mold and mildew. Don’t assume that a pressure washer will take care of all these issues for you – some elbow grease and cleaning products might be needed.
Yard tidy and eye-catching. Most Portland home sellers will settle for a mown lawn and moss-free driveway. Go the extra mile by doing a little “front yard staging” to give your home some serious curb appeal. Plant beds with bright spring flowers or graze-able and pretty salad greens, and create inviting paths for buyers to step into your garden and let their imaginations go wild.
Clean interior. Nothing says “spring” like the fresh, clean slate buyers should see when they walk into your home. The key to great home staging is to make your home feel move-in ready by eliminating unnecessary furnishings and clutter, but leaving enough personal touches to make it comfortable. After you’ve cleaned your house from top to bottom, a bunch or two of fresh flowers will add that homey, spring touch that just might make buyers fall in love.
Light and bright. In any season – especially in a place like Portland where the weather can get a bit, well, dark – it’s a good idea to be sure you’re letting as much light into your home as possible. After you shine up those windows, make sure all your lightbulbs are working. Place lamps strategically to light up dark corners and use full-spectrum bulbs for a daylight effect.
Out with the old, hold off on the new. Buyers can’t picture themselves in your home if it’s full of your stuff. That doesn’t mean you have to move out, but you can get a head start on packing by spending a couple of weekends going through items you haven’t used in a while. If the task is too daunting, enlist a professional organizer to get you going. Then get ready to show off those empty closets and drawers!
For more advice on preparing your home for sale this spring, contact your Portland real estate agent.
March 21, 2013
As a Portland real estate agent I’ve noticed that Radon testing is a growing trend, it has become more and more popular to test every home for Radon levels in the greater Portland Metro Area. It seems these days you can hardly find a home inspector that does not also include a Radon test option (for more money of course). I do not expect this trend to go away.
If you are selling a Portland home you can expect the buyer will most likely test your home for Radon levels! It is to your advantage to be prepared and perhaps conduct the test ahead of time so you know what you’re dealing with. (Surprises are never good for real estate transactions.) Radon mitigation (reducing the amount to a safe level) can run as low as 1500 but as high as 5 or 6 thousand dollars. Check the Portland Radon Map below to see the chances your home will fail the test.
If you are buying a Portland home you may be advised to test the home for dangerous levels of Radon before purchasing. To help you with that end, check the Portland Radon Map below.
Now I’ll share my insider information as a local Portland real estate agent. Please keep in mind I am not a Radon expert or a home inspector and you should visit the EPA website and educate yourself on the dangers of Radon. That being said, if the home does not have a basement, nearly 100% of the time the home will not fail the Radon test. The only time I’ve seen homes with crawlspaces fail a Radon test is when the home owner stops up his crawlspace vents. I highly – highly recommend everyone in Portland to stop insulating (covering up) their crawlspace vents. This may cause your utilities bills to rise a tiny amount, but it is worth it. A trapped crawlspace allows dangerous gases like Radon to build up and seep into the house (because they have no where else to go). If your home has a crawlspace, make sure the vents are clean and open (especially if you fall in a dangerous area on the Portland Radon Map). If you have a basement, test for Radon, simple as that. You need to test for the safety of whoever lives in the home.
If you are really curious about what Radon is and how it can be dangerous visit the EPA website (www.epa.gov). Here is a direct link to their Radon page.
Portland home buyers are looking for a home that is unique and stylish while being functional and user-friendly. Nowhere do these qualities stand out more than in the kitchen. If you’re considering selling your home and thinking that the space where the average American family does everything from homework to entertaining could use an upgrade, you’re probably right. How much of an upgrade, though? It helps to have an action plan.
Step 1: Prioritize and set a budget. Sure, it would be fun to tear everything out and build a new kitchen, and it would certainly set your home apart from the crowd, but keep cost versus value in mind. If you spend $5,000 remodeling your kitchen, you won’t necessarily be able to raise the asking price of your Portland home by $5,000 to recuperate those funds. The best plan of attack is to first figure out how much you can spend. Then use your dollars wisely to address glaring problems and generally make the space appear brighter and cleaner. Unless they are in a state of disrepair that will immediately raise red flags, let the new buyer do things like replace the flooring or countertops.
Step 2: Update appliances. If your appliances bring to mind the words “quaint” or “retro”, it would probably be wise to buy new ones before listing it with a real estate agent. Appliances tend to draw the eye more than any other feature of the kitchen, so they will be the first to make it look old and dingy. Go for energy-efficient appliances in stainless steel, which tends to look newer and more appealing than other finishes. On the other hand, if your appliances are still under warrantee, run well and don’t look either new or old, it’s not worth laying down a bunch of money on new ones because your buyer won’t think twice about them.
Step 3: Creative cabinetry. Your cabinets are the next kitchen feature that might stand between your Portland home and a quick sale, so the key is to update them without blowing your entire budget. If the cabinets themselves are of poor quality or have damage that new paint won’t cover up, you may be able to find good replacement cabinets at a local Portland building materials recycler like the Rebuilding Center. http://rebuildingcenter.org/ Want to upgrade your existing cabinets? New knobs and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Or you can creatively alter them by removing the doors for the trendy “open shelving” look.
Step 4: Finishing touches. What features have you always wanted in the kitchen but never gotten around to adding? If you’re not someone who cooks a lot, bring in a friend who does and ask them. Things as simple as hooks, shelves for small items, work lights under cabinets, or a rack for hanging pots above the stove or island can add convenience and charm that will make buyers say “this is my dream kitchen”. Shelves, lights and even the pot rack can be as simple as a quick trip to the hardware or recycled materials center and some internet DIY help.
With a little time and some forethought, you can convert a “blah” kitchen into a “you’ve gotta see this” home highlight. Not sure how your kitchen remodel will affect your Portland home sale? Ask your Portland real estate agent.
As a homeowner, the toughest real estate question is always “When should I list my home for sale?” Depending on who you ask, the answer might depend on global economic factors or something as simple as the time of year.
Professional real estate agents rely on the Market Action Report published by the Regional Multiple Listing Service, and you should too. By looking at 2012, it’s clear that 2013 will outshine the past few years as the ideal time to list a property or home for sale in Portland. Here are three quick reasons why:
1. Home prices are up, but leveling off. The Market Action Report for December gives a picture of the whole year’s activity on home prices. We can see that last year, the median home sale price went from $216,000 in December 2011 to $247,000 in December 2012. That’s a 14.5% increase. Zillow also reports that Portland-area home values went up more this year than they have since 2007.
Will this growth last forever? Don’t count on it. The real estate market is definitely in recovery, but those who wait around might end up kicking themselves later when the market takes one of its cyclical downturns.
2. Inventory is low. As we explained last month, inventory – or the number of months it would take to run out of homes at the current rate of sales – is a good indicator of where the market is going. In 2012, the Portland real estate market saw a big drop in inventory – from 7.0 in January to 3.6 in December. Low year-end inventory is normal, but overall the numbers this year have been lower than in the last two years. That’s a good thing for home sellers. With inventory low, your home is more likely to get noticed, and buyers are aware that lowball offers are less likely to be accepted.
3. Time spent on market is down. Another useful metric that the RMLS Market Action Report keeps track of is the average amount of time in days that a Portland home spends on the market before being sold. In 2011, homes were taking an average of 143 days to sell. Last year, that number was down to 112, a 21.5% decrease. Lower average total market time is not only convenient for the seller, it also indicates that buyers are motivated and that homes are less likely to sit around getting moldy. On the other hand, sellers should be prepared for things to start happening quickly once they call their local Portland real estate agent and put their home on the market! Check out our incredible marketing package here.
There you have it, numerical evidence that 2013 could be the best year to come around in a long time for you to sell your Portland home. Check out our Portland RMLS Market Action Report to see for yourself.
In the damp, dark winters that characterize the Portland, Oregon area, there’s nothing quite like a cheery flame to warm your toes.
Traditional open fireplaces are attractive but inefficient, and there are many other options for units that put out heat without creating drafts and wide temperature fluctuations. Rustic wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves or modern glass-enclosed gas or electric fireplaces add a comfortable ambiance to your home that can’t be rivaled. They also serve as a living-area centerpiece, an attractive place for the family to gather year-round.
If you’re thinking of selling your Portland home down the road, adding a heat-efficient fireplace or stove could pay off in helping potential buyers fall in love with your home. So what are your options?
1. Wood-burning stove. Wood stoves are at the lower end of the price range and will satisfy the homeowner who enjoys chopping wood and building fires. Because they sit away from the wall, they put more heat into the house than a traditional exterior-wall fireplace. And there’s nothing like having heat in the house even during power outages! However, the mess and work of daily wood fires make wood stoves a gamble when appealing to potential buyers. Cost: $500 – $1,000
2. Pellet stove. Pellet stoves look a lot like wood stoves at first glance, but there are several key differences. They are designed to burn sawdust pellets that can be purchased and easily poured into the feeder. They require little cleanup and produce both a cozy flame and consistent heat output. A pellet stove could serve as the main heat source for the home or supplement the furnace. The downside is that just as for a wood stove, you will need a chimney put in your home to accommodate a pellet stove, which can be costly depending on your situation. Also, there is an electronic ignition, so the stove won’t work if the power goes out. Cost: $1,000 – $5,000.
3. Gas fireplace. The glass-enclosed natural gas fireplace is a popular choice in Portland, where natural gas is available for most homes. These fireplaces are efficient, nice to look at, and very convenient, with no chimney needed. You can even replace an old drafty wood fireplace with a gas fireplace with a simple insert. The flick of a switch ignites the flames, which can burn around simulated logs and coals that are sometimes hard to tell from the real thing. Some models also have a battery backup so you’re not dependent on the power grid to light the fire. Depending on the model and the room it’s in, some gas fireplaces put out enough warm air and radiant heat to really toast things up quickly and efficiently. Cost: $2,000 – $6,000.
4. Electric fireplace. Like a gas fireplace, an electric fireplace can be a new installation or be inserted in an existing fireplace. Electric fireplaces require no venting but generally don’t produce the realistic “wood fire” look as well as gas. If you’re going for a modern look and are willing to spend a little more, some electric fireplaces can be very attractive. Just remember to look for the kind that are actually built in to your wall or fireplace. A wall-mounted or freestanding electric fireplace won’t add to your home value since it can be taken with you. Because they run off electricity just like a standard furnace or space heater, an electric fireplace won’t save you on your heating bill, but they can help you take advantage of zone heating. Cost (built-in): $1,000 – $2,000
When pricing out your fireplace or stove, don’t forget installation costs, which depend on the room and whether you’re retrofitting an old wood fireplace or putting in something completely new. Also, don’t forget to check into the prices of gas, pellets or wood, and have heating cost estimates ready for potential buyers. One more thing, it is not recommended to purchase a used fireplace insert or stove. Oregon passed in 2010 (ORS 468A.460-468A.515) new regulations on woodstoves and fireplace inserts that requires home sellers to remove and destroy any uncertified fireplace insert or woodstove prior to selling their home. When you buy an insert or stove, be sure to check certification as provided by Oregon DEQ or the U.S. EPA, Enviromental Protection Agency.
Not sure which fireplace is best for your home and your home value? Ask your Portland Real Estate Agent.
December 12th, 2012. Selling a house is no small endeavor. And, as one might expect, it’s not something most of us would want to leave to someone we don’t trust. This is one of the main reasons we ask for referrals from our friends, family, neighbors and coworkers when selling a house. Did you know that getting a referral is the number one method used to find a Real Estate Agent? Well it is. According to the National Association of REALTORS® Yearly Publication, fully thirty-nine percent of people selling a house in 2011 found their listing agent by getting a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative. Involving a trusted friend’s referral can bring peace of mind and perhaps promotes more honesty, but trust and honesty are not the only things people said they are looking for in a Portland Listing Agent.
There are actually four main tasks people expect a Real Estate Agent to perform when selling a house: market their property, price it properly, sell it within a specific time frame, and help bring a ready and able buyer for the home. These are the same four tasks people expected Listing Agents to perform as last year according to the 2011 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers. And while they are only some of what Listing Agents are able to help with, they are some of the most crucial when selling a house.
So how can one tell if a Portland Listing Agent is honest, trustworthy, able to market their home, price it competitively, sell it in a timely way and find a buyer? Good question. How do you feel about a little bit of homework? 1.) Ask your friends, family, and coworkers about their experiences in selling their home. Did they feel their agent was honest and capable? Did their home sell quickly and for the right price? 2.) Check online reviews of an agent. These reviews are written by people who have previously worked with a particular agent and have written about their experience with him/her. These can often be found online. As an example, here are some of mine.
3.) Check for an agent’s online presence. This can be accomplished by a simple Google search or by browsing the top real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia. How does the Listing Agent market themselves as a professional? How many homes have they sold recently, how does their website look, how might they be able to market your property? As more and more home shopping occurs online (over 94% of buyers) it could be argued that the Listing Agent’s online marketing for your home is the most important variable to achieve a successful sale. As an example, here is my marketing proposal
Selling a house can be easier than you may think and choosing the right Portland Listing Agent can make all the difference.
December 3rd, 2012 The real estate industry keeps track of how it’s doing in funny ways. Mortgages are always going above or below water, but they never seem to get soggy. The real estate blogs are constantly searching for the mysterious “bottom of the market” (it must be down here somewhere!) Then there are the economic factors we like to pay attention to, the bulls and bears and consumer confidence indexes.
Inventory is one of those head-scratchers in the real estate biz. To give an estimate of how the market is doing, it measures something that would never actually happen: Every homeowner decides they never want to move again and no new homes come on the market. In that case, how long would it take for us to run out of homes to sell, assuming buyers are oblivious to the sudden scarcity?
That’s inventory: The number of days or months it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the rate that buyers are currently buying them. In October, according to the RMLS report for the Portland metro area, which offers enough statistics and charts for even the nerdiest number-lover, inventory was the lowest it’s been since 2009.
What was that magic inventory number? 3.8 months. At the rate Portland home sales have been going the past few years, that’s pretty low. In fact, it’s low everywhere according to Realtor.com, which puts the national median inventory at 3.2 months. (The lowest inventory for October was a mere 21 days in Oakland, CA. The highest was 5.4 months in South Carolina.)
Low inventory in the Portland real estate market is good news for sellers and a nudge to buyers to act fast. Commonly accepted real estate wisdom gives six months as the amount of inventory that would show an even balance between buyer demand and the housing supply. So it follows that when inventory is higher than this, sales will be slow and a buyers’ market will result. When inventory is low, as it is now, demand for homes is up, and we call this a seller’s market.
What are the practical consequences of the current low inventory of Portland real estate? Buyers will need to act fast when they see a home for sale that they would consider buying. By the time you get your offer in, there may already be several others. In this case, according to a recent article in the Oregonian, sellers are choosing the best offer based not only on price but also on how likely the deal is to reach closing. Having the right Portland buyer’s agent can help because if he or she has previously worked with those involved in the transaction – mortgage lender, assessor, seller’s agent, etc. – things tend to go a lot more smoothly. For sellers, it’s more important than ever to have a good Portland real estate agent to juggle the multiple offers.
It might be easy to look at the most recent Portland RMLS numbers and assume the real estate market has recovered from the 2008 recession. Not only was inventory down in October, but prices were up, total market time was down, and sales remained steady. However, a low inventory for several months in a row is not necessarily a good thing. One could speculate that if buyers are not finding the homes they are looking for in Portland, they will look elsewhere. That could mean a drop in sales and, subsequently, prices.
On the other hand, if the market does remain strong, we might see a rise in prices as we move from winter to summer, when buyers tend to come out of the woodwork. So there’s no time like the present to put your home on the market or launch your Portland home search. Contact your Portland real estate agent to get started!
October 29th, 2012 Halloween’s almost here, but Portland home buyers aren’t looking for a house that’s haunted. Too often, homes listed for sale are overlooked because of relatively minor issues, issues that the seller can easily fixed before the buyer’s agent comes knocking. So save the scares for the professionals, and read on to de-spookify your home and get it sold before next Halloween!
Haunted house: Gnarled trees, bats, spiders in every window
Your house: Clean and maintained.
Like it or not, buyers are swayed by first impressions. Here in Portland, the temperate, rainy climate can lead to an overabundance of vegetation, but that’s not a bad thing as long as you keep it maintained. As a general rule, plants and trees should not obscure front windows or hang over the house, driveway, paths, porch, etc. Keep the lawn mowed and remove dirt and cobwebs from the siding or windows. Disorganized toys and tools in the front yard can be distracting as well as a safety hazard (to buyers and trick-or-treaters!) so get them cleaned up.
Haunted house: Boarded-up windows, splattered walls and trap doors
Your house: Safe and ready to move in
Portland is notorious for its do-it-yourself culture. Your home-improvement projects might add value to your home, but only when they’re complete. Most buyers don’t want to take up where you might have left off, and an unfinished deck or loose floorboards could be a hazard when the home is being shown. If you’re still in the finishing-up process when home buyers come around, be ready with a timeline for the project’s completion.
Haunted house: Dark, spooky
Your house: Light, pleasant
When showing your home, open up as many window shades as possible and illuminate dark corners with lamps. With good lighting that directs buyers to your home’s best assets, your home is much more likely to be remembered. Besides, everyone feels more comfortable in a well lit space, especially if you have an abundance of natural lighting. Just make sure you sweep out the corners before you turn on all the lamps!
Haunted house: Blood, ghostly wails
Your house: Quiet, scent-free but homey
Buyers literally will make a quick escape from your home if it’s an affront to the senses. Potpourri, scented candles, and room sprays can cause worse than wrinkled noses if someone has an allergy. Also, someone may wonder what odors you’re trying to mask – mold, pet urine, smoke? All are red flags for most home buyers. Turn off the television, radio, and other distractions before your home is shown. On the other hand, don’t clear your shelves of books and family photos. Keeping the place looking lived-in makes it easier for buyers to imagine living there themselves. Check out our article on how home staging sells homes!
Haunted house: Edge of the graveyard
Your house: In a great neighborhood
People moving to an urban area like Portland want accessibility, but they also want to live somewhere quiet and friendly. Most buyers won’t know your neighborhood, so be prepared to offer some information. Work with your real estate agent to identify nearby bus lines, bike paths, parks and shopping centers. Use our interactive Portland neighborhoods map to find neighborhood demographics and lifestyle amenities.
Don’t be scared! As long as your home isn’t totally haunted, you can get it sold with the help of your Portland real estate agent. A little advance preparation and maybe a friendly carved pumpkin or two will go a long way!
August 30th, 2012 Many people ask today, “With so much information online about how to sell my home, why should I use a real estate agent?” A lot of people believe they can put on a real estate agent hat and sell their own home without a lot of fuss or difficulty. I’m going to give you four quick reasons why you should hire a Portland real estate agent.
1. Education. Most of our education as real estate agents revolves around how to not get in legal trouble. There are countless legal pitfalls in real estate and agents have to study on average for six months to pass their license exam (mostly filled with legal questions). In addition to the education required to obtain the license, Portland Real Estate Agents must take an average of 30 hours of continuing education every other year to stay up with changing laws and practices.
2. Experience. A typical home owner will buy and sell a home less than 10 times in their lifetime. A good Portland real estate agent will be involved in over 20 transactions a year. Personally, I’ve been licensed for 10 years coming up in 2013 and last year I was involved in over 40 transactions. It is easy to see how fast the numbers can add up. A good real estate agent will know what to expect and will have been there before. They can be your unequalled advisor.
3. Marketing. If you are trying to sell you home these days, online is king. Over 94% of buyers are looking for homes online. As a home owner you may find access to a few key websites. As a Portland real estate agent I’ve brokered deals with the top five real estate websites in the country and pay huge sums of money (with massive bulk discounts) in order to achieve over 100,000 online views on average per listing. On top of the five top websites, my online feeds hit thousands more. Simply put, the home owner can’t compete with a good Portland real estate agent in terms of marketing. (Especially those of us who make it a priority.)
4. Negotiation. Most people have negotiation skills, they negotiate with their families, when they buy cars, at works perhaps, and other scenarios. However, Portland real estate agents are used to negotiating with banks, investors, first time home buyers, other real estate agents, trustees, title companies, and more. Frankly put, no one has done more pertinent negotiation skills in real estate than your Portland Real Estate Agent.
Is it possible to save money on closing costs? Absolutely!
If you’re a home buyer, Oregon is a great state to look at for some of the lowest closing costs in the nation. According to Bankrate.com, the average home sale closing costs in Oregon are 11th lowest of the 50 states. For a home purchased with a $200,000 loan, with 20% down payment and excellent credit, the closing costs average $3,509.
But what are these closing costs, and who pays them? Your Portland real estate agent can help you figure exact amounts, but keeping closing costs in mind as you start your home search or list your home for sale will help you avoid surprises on the closing day.
At the most basic level, closing costs are any costs associated with the process of transferring ownership of a home or property from one party to another. They fall into two categories: origination fees charged by the lender, and third-party fees which include everything from the home appraisal and REALTOR® commission to the postage paid to send documents.
As a buyer, most of the closing costs you’ll pay will be the ones associated with your home mortgage. Starting out with good credit and shopping around for the best loan can help you save money when you close the deal on your new home.
The two biggest third-party closing costs are usually REALTOR® commissions and title insurance. REALTOR® commissions are always included in the price of the home and thus paid by the seller. Reputable buyers’ agents won’t charge for their services. For home sellers, real estate agents are well worth the cost because they cover advertising the home for sale and negotiating between buyers, sellers, banks, and other intermediaries like attorneys and escrow companies. Plus, your home will sell faster and you’re more likely to get your asking price with a skilled REALTOR® on your side.
Title insurance, like home inspections, homeowners insurance, and other services that incur closing costs, is a legal necessity. Title insurance is an insurance policy against someone else claiming ownership of a home based on inconsistencies in the title record. Title search fees and insurance are usually paid by the seller, but it depends on the contract drawn up between buyer and seller. The mortgage lender may also require separate title insurance, paid by the buyer.
Your Portland real estate agent can describe the more minor closing costs involved in buying or selling a Portland home, and a good REALTOR® will be open and honest about the minimum amount you should expect to pay on the closing date. The most important point is to do your research and find an expert who can help you navigate the various services necessary to change ownership of a home.
Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride puts it this way: “The main lesson of this [nationwide closing costs] survey for consumers is to shop around for at least three different estimates” for services like home inspections, title insurance, mortgages, and especially real estate agent commission fees . “It’s important for people to realize that there is variation even within their neighborhood, and that they can save by being an educated consumer,” says McBride. We couldn’t agree more.
August 14th, 2012
Find out which Portland neighborhood is best! Discover: Neighborhood statistics on population, income, demographics, owner occupied vs. rent occupied, level of education, and more.
This interactive map program outlines each of the Portland neighborhoods with blue borders.
Click on the blue border to bring up the Portland Neighborhood window, in this example Mount Tabor.
Which Portland Neighborhood am I in? Simply type your address in the search bar and it will automatically transport you to your neighborhood area, then click the blue borderline for your Portland Neighborhood.
August 12th, 2012
Whether they are long-time Portland residents or have only seen the city on Portlandia or style blogs like Urban Weeds, if home buyers across the US were asked to describe this city in one word, that word would be: Eclectic.
No doubt about it – styling your home to show off its funky, retro side (even if you don’t think it has one) will charm buyers and help your home stand out from the crowd. Here on the Portland Real Estate Blog, we’ve written before about how home staging can reduce the time your home spends on the market by 78%. Now, we explore five ways to give your home staging a distinctly Portland feel, all without breaking the bank.
1. Generic be gone! On the remodeling blog Improvement Center, Gina Pogol writes: “Ditch stock hardware on cabinets, doors and drawers. That goes double for cheap, cheesy brass door knobs. Even modern cabinetry looks older with period hardware.” Don’t forget details like switchplates and outlet covers. To really make an impression, Pogol also suggests replacing your front door with a vintage or salvaged one (Portland has several outlets for recycled building materials).
2. Decorate with “found” objects. Peruse secondhand shops and estate sales for items like vintage scarves, classic records, old license plates, paintings on velvet, and other budget-friendly items of interest. Look for neat picture frames in which to place old postcards or even someone else’s black-and-white family photos.
3. Illuminate the situation. Adequate lighting is key to any good home staging. Use vintage or faux-vintage lamps and lighting fixtures to add a warm glow to dark corners or a dramatic spotlight to important features in your home.
4. Funk-ify your furnishings. Used furniture of good quality from the past 30 years is not hard to find, especially if you search beyond the Portland metro area. Wingback chairs, dainty writing desks and kitchen sideboards are especially trendy (just check out the photos on Houzz.com). If you’re short on time or funds, find some lace doilies, frilly pillows, slipcovers or vintage fabric to add color and retro appeal to your modern furnishings.
5. Go full color. A fresh coat of paint is always a good idea when preparing your home for sale, so why not add interest and energy with some vintage tones? Moss green, charcoal, teal, cream and orange are go-to retro colors. Just remember to keep it light so that your home’s new owners can change it up after they fall in love. If you aren’t into picking new colors, the Improvement Center blog has this tip: “Almost any painted wall can be antiqued by coating it with a glaze and then rubbing it off. Or have a professional painter recreate the real thing with authentic colors and techniques.”
Staging your home can be be tricky – there’s a fine line between “homey” and “overdone”. By combining a variety of vintage accents to show off your home, you’ll not only be at the height of Portland fashion, you’ll be able to combine the decor you already have with your new-old treasures.
On that note, don’t worry about finding furnishings or accents that match perfectly or end up looking too planned. Eclectic or vintage home staging is all about creating a fascinating world full of unexpected surprises. Remember, Portland real estate shoppers are looking for a place that’s unique as they are, one that brings the city’s eclectic pulse into their new home.
August 1st, 2012 For the first time since the housing market crash prices have risen nationally from one quarter to the next, in this case, from the first quarter of 2012 to the second. Nationally that rise barely occurred, .02%. In Portland we are looking at a 6% increase in the housing market this year. However, last fall and winter prices dropped in Portland over 10-12% and so from year to year homes are still cheaper in Portland than in 2011.
Is this the beginning of a housing turn in Portland? Zillow thinks so and is forecasting a 4.3% increase in Portland housing prices in 2013. Other analysts are less optimistic pointing to an ongoing shadow inventory of foreclosed homes that have yet to hit the market and pointing to the nearly 6 year trend of dropping prices in the fall and winter.
As your local Portland Realtor, I expect prices to drop again slightly 2012 fall and winter and then rise again in the spring and summer of 2013. Overall, I expect 2013 to be Portland’s first stable year in the housing market with prices increasing or decreasing by a percentage or two. I’m not quite as optimistic as Zillow, but more so than a few naysayers. The Portland housing market is booming this summer and as a top Portland Realtor I’m seeing it happen everyday.