Blog

Winter Maintenance & things to look for


Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Saturday, December 1st, from 9am-12pm (ish)

      Marshall Community Center, conference room

      1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Saturday, December 8th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)
Monday, December 10th , from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….   Due to the Christmas holiday, our next classes will be starting January 2019.
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy Christmas Season!

  It’s my favorite time of year!  Yay!!!  Ok, now that my excitement for the holidaze is out of the way, I want to say, “Thank you” to everyone for coming to the Client Appreciation Movie Event on the 17th.  I thought that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a great movie, and I loved all the Harry Potter tie-ins.  I do want to know when Albus Dumbledore decided that a smart 3-piece suit was no longer appropriate attire, and why he decided to switch to the sparkly robes and hats we see him in throughout the Harry Potter movies…did anyone else wonder this? I do hope that everyone enjoys their wands as well.  Chris Berg (Pinnacle Mortgage, 503-320-0925, cbeg@pcmloan.com) and I always enjoy hosting the movies, and seeing everyone.  We do have some movies we have already decided on for next year, and a couple we are ….well, we are trying to decide between…  There are SO many good movies coming out next year that it’s really tough.   We definitely want to do the Marvels Avengers:  Infinity War 2, and of course, the new Star Wars in December.  We are waffling between Toy Story 4 in June, and Frozen 2 in November.  There’s also the new Lion King movie next summer as well, and Captain Marvel in March, and a new How to Train your Dragon too, I think… ugh… decisions, decisions….  What is YOUR opinion?  We are happy to have feedback…..

So, we are smack dab in winter now where it’s daylight until 2pm, and then BAM! it’s darlk.  Then there is the rain too… I actually don’t mind the rain so much, or winter.  For home buyers it is the best time to be looking for homes.  Yards may not look the prettiest right now, but winter is when home inspections shine.  If you are a home buyer, and you need help with closing costs, NOW is the time to be out looking at homes.  Right now is the time of year that we see the least amount of multiple offer bidding wars, and the time of  year that we see sellers most inclined to help buyers with those pesky closing costs. Yes, moving during the winter, the holidays, and the rain suck…but closing costs, not having to compete with 4 other offers, and being able to see how a home actually lives during the wet weather… that is golden.

  What should a home owner , and /or potential home buyer be looking at right now?  Well, water is the big one.  I showed a home last weekend, during the rain, where you could see a 6 inch puddle of water sitting around the foundation of the entire West and southwest sides of the home.  I’m not kidding…. it was 6 inches deep, and pouring in the foundation vents.  Part of the repairs for this would be to move the gutter downspouts away from foundation, and to re-grade the dirt away from the foundation so it all wasn’t just puddling there with no where else to go but under the home.  My client did take a look under the home in the crawlspace, and yes, there was water in the crawlspace, but was it all from the water around the foundation, or from a high water table under the home?  Having a home inspection during this time of year also means when the inspector is looking in the atticspace she/he will actually be able to see if the roof is leaking.  He/she can also be checking for moisture in siding or in/around windows and window trim.  In our area, it rains…. and usually much more frequently than it has been.  Take advantage of the time of year.

Luckily I haven’t melted in the rain….yet… and while I don’t like to take chances that someday it could melt me there are certain things that I am looking at with clients at this time of year. I am looking at how the water sits around the foundation, if there are window wells around the foundation vents, and while looking at those foundation vents, I am looking to see if there are holes in the vent screens. It’s getting colder, and small animals are looking for warmth.  You know what is warm? Under your home.  If there is a torn foundation vent screen, these animals will go under your home.  What do they do there?  Well, like you would, they set up house.  They have an area of the visquean (or all of it) for their potty area, they will pull down insulation for a nice warm bed, and if  the home has forced air with duct work under the home?  Good grief…that’s like winning the small animal lottery!  I’ve seen (ok, the inspectors have seen and should me pictures) of small animals that have actually torn INTO the ducts under the home and made a nice, cozy nest for themselves….complete with blowing warm air….nice… well, nice for them, but not nice for the homeowner.
We are looking at the furnace to see if it has been serviced within the last year.  Have the wall heaters been vacuumed out? Years, and years ago….1997, to be exact,my husband and I rented an older home in Vancouver.  It was a cold, wet winter, and we left to go do something… I don’t remember what, but I do remember coming home after dark to see a fire truck in front of our home….lights shining.  We pretty much freaked out.  My younger brother was staying with us and fell asleep on the couch.  He woke up to go to his room, opened the door, and the wall was on FIRE!  He ran to the kitchen, called 911 (no cell phones back then folks), and filled pans with water to try to put it out.  Long story short, his room had cedar walls which helped slow down how fast the fire could have gone, and throwing water on the wall helped, and the fire station was very close.  That room was shot with smoke damage, but it could have been much worse.  The culprit of the fire?  Dust, and dander build up in the (very old) wall heater.  All heating sources have a danger, part of being a homeowner is maintaining your heating sources.
other things that need to be done… new batteries in the smoke detectors because well, christmas trees, making sure that the electrical panels aren’t recalled, making sure the home has carbon monoxide detectors (one on every level, and no higher than your knee), checking out the water heater for earthquake straps & overflow pipe, and we’ll be looking at the roof for any missing shingles too.

If you are a homeowner, and thinking about selling your home, now is a great time to go over your home with your favorite Realtor, or have an inspector come through your home.  If you need an inspector name/number, give me a holler…  I can give you a couple that are very good.
If you are thinking about buying a home, now is the time to be out there looking for the best home for your family, and to be able to have that inspection during a time of year that you maybe hadn’t thought about.

Start the new year with your very own home adventure.  I am always happy, and excited, to help!  Now, if you don’t mind… Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is on and I have to sing along…..
Information is power,  and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.  
If you have any questions, or comments please get a hold of me anytime.  You can call, text, email, or even facebook me.  Please remember that while I mean these emails/blogs to be helpful, and educational, I am still hoping that you will call, or email me as I would be honored to help you with your home buying, or home selling adventure.
    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.  
 
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 ….disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 
 
Upcoming Topics:
Delayed Possession… What is this & what does it mean to you
Interest Rates (information from Chris Berg, Pinnacle Mortgage)
What do I need to buy a home,
Hiring a Realtor…questions to ask,

What if I don’t have a Down Payment? …..  &….
What does an Agent do for me?
Debt to Income Ratios….What is this?
 
Last Week:  What happens AFTER the Home Inspections?
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

 

Home Inspections & sellers disclosures (part one)

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Saturday, October 20th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)
Monday, October 22nd , from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, November 3rd, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room

      1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy …Sunday night

  I love Sundays…  I really do, and especially a drizzly and gray one. Granted I’m only doing laundry and cleaning house, but still …  a gray and drizzly Sunday calls out for pj’s all day, my comfy couch,  a cozy blanket, and football on the TV.  It’s a glorious day I tell you… glorious.  I even took a short nap!  When the day is gray and drizzly, I don’t feel guilty for a ‘down’ day.  🙂

We do have an exciting event coming up though….  Winter Client Appreciation!
Saturday, November 17th, from 3pm-6pm, Chris Berg & I are thrilled to be hosting the NEW, ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them’ movie!!  You know the drill…  let me, or Chris Berg (cberg@pcmloan.com) know how many adults & kids tickets you need….  and yes, there are some 21+ tickets available as well.  Limit of 6 tickets please unless you have talked to me or Chris Berg about it first. We are excited to see you soon!!  🙂 …and Thank YOU.. Thank you for your referrals!  Thank you for recommending us, or the classes to those you know (and on Facebook too), and THANK YOU for letting us to be part of your home adventures. We appreciate you so much

So this week I do want to talk about something that has come up a couple of times recently…  Inspections, Repairs, and what happens AFTER.. What do I mean about ‘after’ though? Well, first let’s talk about Inspections for just a bit…

It is my opinion that you shouldn’t waive the home inspection… it doesn’t matter if the home is brand new, or a 100 years old, you should ALWAYS have a home inspection done.  After mutual acceptance of the offer (where both buyer & seller have agreed to all terms), the home goes into ‘pending’ status, and this is where your timelines start.  In real estate we have a lot of timelines that we need to make sure we are meeting, and the inspection is a BIG one.  From mutual acceptance you have 10 CALENDAR days to have the home inspection done, and to request any repairs from the seller.  ‘Calendar Days’ being the key word words here.  A few things to remember about the home inspection… the home inspector does need to be licensed in the state of Washington, but he’s usually not a contractor.  What this means is that if you have something about the home that you have a concern about, we would want to request a licensed contractor to come look at it.   If you are buying a used car, you would take that car to a mechanic to take a look at it, right?  Is that mechanic going to find everything wrong with the car?  Most likely not, but that mechanic can usually tell you pretty quickly if there is anything seriously wrong with vehicle in the short period they’re checking it out.  As a potential buyer this will help you decide if you want to purchase that vehicle in its current condition, if you want to go back to the seller and re-negotiate, or if you maybe don’t want to buy that car at all.  This is a lot like a home inspection.  You are purchasing a ‘used’ home … nothing more, and nothing less. This is not ‘Holmes on Homes’, and the inspector can’t do anything invasive to the home.  During the home inspection you are having a ‘house mechanic’ take a quick look at the home to see what they can find about it that you can use to decide if you want to continue with the purchase of the home with the home in its current condition, if you want to go back to the seller and re-negotiate for some repairs, or if you want to back out of the purchase of the home inspection.  Just like a mechanic though there are good ones out there and some … well….some not so good.  You can always ask your Realtor if they have any inspectors they could refer you to, or ask family/friends.  I will give you a list of questions to ask too.
Just like a vehicle mechanic though, even with good ones…  sometimes they don’t catch things.  Most inspections are only a couple of hours and again, it’s visual.  You will find more things as you live in the home… just like you find things once you actually start driving the car regularly.  You are going to live in that home differently than the last home owner did…just like you are going to drive the car differently than the last owner did. The goal of BOTH inspections is to hopefully catch anything ‘major’…anything that could affect the health and/or safety of the home or the occupants, and anything that could require the assistance of a licensed contractor.   During the home inspection there is a very good chance the home inspector IS going to talk with you about things in the home that you should be aware of as a homeowner. Some of these items are going to be things to ‘keep an eye on’ for future repair, some of these items may just be things you ‘need to know’…informational things…, and some of these things may be items that need repair now.  YOU should be at the home inspection, and your AGENT should be at the home inspection as well. We can’t help you if we aren’t there… and we are here to help you.   You, and your agent, will talk about the home inspection and what (if any) repair requests you would like to send to the sellers for their consideration.  There are going to be things that you will be needing (or wanting) to do as a homeowner when you move in, so what we’re looking for at the home inspection is anything that (again) is going to affect the health/safety of the home, or the occupants… or that is going to need to be looked at/repaired by a licensed contractor.
After the home inspection (I usually advise my clients to respond with the inspection repairs within 24 hours at the most), you need to decide if you are ok with the home in its current condition and what to continue forward to closing, if you just want to back out of the purchase based on the information from the home inspection,  or if you want to request any repairs from the seller.  In 99% of the cases, this is what happens….  you have talked to the inspector,you have seen the report, you have talked with your agent and you are ok with some things at the home inspection, but there are some items you want repaired.  Your agent then sends that form with the information of those items to the sellers agent to go over with the seller. The seller has 3 days to respond.  The seller may come back and say, ‘we will do no repairs…buy as-is, or back out’, or the seller may say, “we will do all the repairs and we move forward to closing’, or the seller (as usually happens) might say, ” we will repair items 1, 2, and 4, but not 3, 5, and 6…and we’ll do item #7, but changing it to this”.    The sellers agent will send this information back to your agent, and then You and your agent will discuss your response…. Are you ok with the sellers response? Are you not ok?  Do you want to continue forward to closing? Do you want to back out?  …or maybe you want to counter their response?  See…  re-negotiating….   However, if both parties can not come to an agreement then the deal does fall apart and dies. You will get your earnest money back as that is a legal reason to back out (as long as you didn’t waive your home inspection), but you will lose the money you paid to the home inspector for the inspection.

 
One thing you want to talk about with your agent before the home inspection is the sellers disclosures.  The sellers disclosures are a 6 page form where the sellers are ‘supposed’ to disclose everything they know about the home during their home ownership.  Again… key words.. ‘during their home ownership’.  The sellers are supposed to disclose anything that has happened, and been repaired, and/or anything that they are aware of… during their ownership of the home.  If it is, or was, something that was prior to their ownership?  Well…  should they disclose?  Yes…if they are aware of it, but one thing to remember is that most sellers do not really know anything about their home.  The sellers disclosures are filled out by the sellers, and their agents can’t really help them fill them out.  Personally,  when I am listing a home, I explain what the sellers disclosures are, and what the questions mean.  Many sellers disclosures are just randomly filled out by the sellers who have no idea what they are doing.  So look at the sellers disclosures, ask questions about it.  Your buyers agent can ask the sellers for more information on anything, and as always, you can ask the home inspector to take a look at anything that you have concerns about.  Sellers disclosures are difficult because sometimes… a lot of times actually… they are not filled out correctly.  I have had  to send them back to the sellers agents a couple of times requesting they be filled out correctly, and/or asking for more information from the sellers. This is frustrating for the sellers, and for the buyers…and yes, for me as well.  As with ALL legal forms, and yes, Realtor forms used when buying and/or selling a home, ARE legal forms… don’t fill out, or sign anything without being certain what you are signing. Ask questions….ASK for clarification…ASK, ASK, ASK…  Your Realtor is here to help you. I am going to talk about sellers disclosures more next week because we have had some issues with them recently after closing….

So, home inspectors and home inspections…  remember that this wet and rainy weather is a GREAT time for home inspections!  We get a lot of rain here so this weather is the best time to see if there are any water/moisture issues in, or UNDER the home.  


When hiring a home inspector some good questions to ask them are:
How long have you been licensed?
    Licensing for home inspectors in the State of Washington has only has only been required since September of 2009. Many inspectors were in business, unlicensed, before that. Some inspectors took the initiative and were licensed way before that. Your inspector should be bonded, insured, and carry E&O (errors and omissions) insurance.
How long will the inspection take? How much is it?
    The average home inspection should take about 2-3 hours. The average cost is about $400-$450…now to be honest, you can get an inspection for cheaper, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Make sure your inspector is inspecting what is important to you. Remember, as a buyer, the inspector works for you…not the buyers agent, the sellers agent, or the sellers. YOU, the buyer, are hiring this contractor to perform a service for you. Ask the inspector what their inspection entails, and what is included…or not.
What does your home inspection entail? What will you do?
    A home inspector should be walking and checking the roof. A roof must have 2+ year certificate for state or government grants/loans, VA loans, and FHA loans. A home inspector should be walking around the exterior and checking the siding, and looking at the housing vents for broken/missing screens. The home inspector will also be looking at vegetation around the home, and look at the water meter on the curb for current activity.
Inside the home, the inspector will crawl the crawlspace looking for leaks, groundwater, evidence or signs of current, or past animal activity, etc. The inspector should also be checking the atticspace for signs of current or past leakage and/or mold.
    The inspector will also be looking at all water faucets and toilets for leakage, drainage, and more. The inspector should also be checking all windows, electrical outlets and the main electric box for safety hazards, vents and heating units, and more.
Do you (the inspector) have a water reader?
    Some inspectors have a water reader that reads moisture 1 inch into a surface, be it wall or floor. These are wonderful for finding such things as leaking wax seals in toilets (very common), moisture in a wall around a window that hasn’t had its’ weep seals cleaned, moisture in walls or flooring around such places as washer/dryers, fridges, dishwashers, showers, toilets, and bathtubs.
What paperwork will be included at this cost?
    Some inspectors will charge you extra for a FHA Dry Rot and Pest Report, or for a print out of your inspection. You will need a FHA Dry Rot Pest Report for the state loans, VA loans, and FHA loans. Make sure your cost includes a copy of this. Also, ask how the inspector will get you a copy of your inspection, in what form will it come to you, and how soon can you expect it. The average cost for a home inspection is around $400, but the cost can vary with the size of the home you are purchasing.

Some other inspections that you might want to consider is a sewer scope.  This is where a plumber comes out and puts a camera down the sewer/septic lines to make sure they are clear of obstructions.  It is an additional cost of usually about $150.   If the home is on septic, request a septic report/inspection that is one year or less of age.  Another inspection you may want to consider (especially in a home with a basement, or any part of the home under ground like a split level, or daylight basement) is a radon test.  Many people ask me why there aren’t more homes with basements….and there are 2 reasons why that is…. water/moisture and radon.  Most of Clark County has a high water table …not like New Orleans or anything… but we do have a lot of moisture in the ground and clay….which holds water.   There are many areas of Clark County where homes will have sump pumps, or extra drainage in the crawlspace to help with this, but if a home has a basement, or some form of it…that is an area you want the inspector to be checking out.  Then there is Radon… radon is a gas that comes from the ground that can make people very sick.  Some areas have high levels of radon and some areas…not so much.  I have a client buying a home right now with a very high level of radon read in the daylight basement.  There are contractors who come out for radon remediation, and they are having that done.   Lots of information this week… sorry!  Part 2 of this will be coming next week or so. 🙂  

Information is power,  and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.  
If you have any questions, or comments please get a hold of me anytime.  You can call, text, email, or even facebook me.  Please remember that while I mean these emails/blogs to be helpful, and educational, I am still hoping that you will call, or email me as I would be honored to help you with your home buying, or home selling adventure.
    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.  
 
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 ….disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 
 
Upcoming Topics:
What happens AFTER the home inspection?
Delayed Possession… What is this & what does it mean to you
Interest Rates (information from Chris Berg, Pinnacle Mortgage)
What do I need to buy a home,
Hiring a Realtor…questions to ask,

What if I don’t have a Down Payment? …..  &….
What does an Agent do for me?
Debt to Income Ratios….What is this?
 
Last Week:  Pre-Approvals… what, why…and getting one 
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

 

Pre-approvals… why you need with them, what they are, and how to get one….


Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Saturday, September 22nd, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)

Saturday, October 6th , from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, October 20th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know. We understand that you have lives, and families, and work. We will work something out that works better with your schedule. Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner! 😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy …well, whatever day it is!

What a month! Yesterday, my youngest child started 3rd grade. I think I have started and stopped this email about 4 times in the last couple of weeks, but what with everything going on… it kind of went on the back burner. It’s a different world from when I went to school… when I was at school, teachers had the last word on everything. If a teacher called home, you were in trouble….if a teacher needed something… it happened. When my older kids were young, teachers still got what they needed … now, I am not going to lie to you… I did have it out with my older daughters high school principal a few times! Teachers though… teachers I have the utmost respect for them. When I was young, I wanted to be a teacher… I wanted to teach high school history and English. Yep, that was my goal when I was young… not a singer or a movie star… a teacher! Of course, I am not a teacher… I am a Realtor, but I still teach….and I still help.
So, here we are… another school year started, and all of the sudden we are in the last trimester of the year. So here’s to ‘Happy Hallowthankmas’ period time.

So this week let’s talk about the what the steps are to buying a home? This is where it gets crazy because most of us just don’t know….you just kind of ‘fall into it’… You meet up with someone, and like a whirlwind romance, next thing you know you are in a 30 year commitment called a mortgage loan!

So….if you are thinking about buying a home, what are your steps? What do you need to know before you start?

Well, that is what the Free Home Buyer Education Classes are for! ….that, and this weekly blog anyhow! 😀

The first step to buying a home is the home buyer education classes.
Did you know that more people will get education when buying a car than when buying a home? The classes are non-promotional, free, and meant to give home buyers a head start on the information they need to buying a home, and taking advantage of the state loan programs that are out there to HELP people buy a home! Real Estate & Lending is all about ‘verbiage’ as we are ‘taught’ scripts to make things sound good for you, when in actuality…it may not be that great at all. We do go over all of that, and try to make everything as clear as possible considering it starts off as mud. 🙂 As instructors of the classes we are volunteers, so while we HOPE that you will call us to help you with your homebuying adventure, by no means do you have to. 🙂
Buying a home, especially your first home, is such a big thing that sometimes it is hard to wait when we get the bug. Buying a home is still the American dream, and gives us roots in a community. It is the place where we raise our children, plant our gardens, paint our rooms, and show our personality. A house isn’t just a place of four walls and a door, but a home….and a place of dreams. Knowing all of this as we do, when it comes to buying a home, patience isn’t always our biggest virtue! 😀

The second step in the home buying process is talking with a lender to help you get pre-approved for a loan.
The reason why we say that talking to a lender is your second step is because while you don’t go grocery shopping without knowing how much is in your bank account, you should never go looking at homes without knowing how much you can afford. A lenders job is to pre-approve you for as much as they can, but that doesn’t always mean that you can, or that you should, spend that much on purchasing a home. We all have lives, and you don’t want to be housepoor. Make sure that you know your budget, and what is a comfortable amount for you to spend monthly on a mortgage. Remember to make sure that you have enough for small things like eating out (ok….if you have my family it isn’t a ‘small’ thing at all to eat out!), going to the movies, maybe going on a family trip….and let’s not forget buying groceries and gas! Also…as a homeowner, now you have other additional expenses and potential repairs to put aside for. I always tell all my clients to put aside some money from every check into a ‘special’ account at a banking institution that you don’t regularly frequent. Maybe it is a credit union across town that is only open for 4 hours a day, but make sure you don’t have a checkbook or a debit card for it. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money….maybe only $10-$20 per check, but this is your ‘rainy day’ fund…or really, the funds for any home repairs that will, eventually, come up. Being a home owner does mean being prepared for home repairs that always happen at the worst possible time! Home Warranties really are your best friend when buying a home…and yes, this is different than Homeowners Insurance (aka Hazard Insurance). That will be a topic for another week. 🙂

The rule of thumb though is to make sure that when you are looking for homes, after you get pre-approved, to make sure you are looking at homes with your buyers agent that you can afford, and not max out your budget!

Remember that not all lenders can access the downpayment assistance loans, so make sure that you are going through someone who can. If you have any questions about that, please feel free to call, or email, Chris Berg @ Pinnacle Mortgage…503-320-0925 (he is local), and cberg@pcmloan.com .

When getting pre-approved, make sure to ask your lender if your pre-approval has already gone through the manual underwriters. We are seeing more, and more people lately who, thinking they are pre-approved, go out and find a home, only to find out days before signing, that the manual underwriters are declining their loan! This is terrible as this means that this family who have already packed up, given notice, and are ready to move….now have no loan, and therefore, no home! I don’t want that to happen to any of my clients, so as a buyers agent, when I am speaking with a lender, I always ask their lender if the buyers loan approval was sent to the manual underwriter, or if it is just a computer approval. Having your pre-approval go through the manual underwriters, instead of just a computer approval, does take some more time, usually up to a week more, but in the end it is always better to be safe rather than sorry!

Please remember that your pre-approval is only good for 90 days, and yes, you will have to update it at the end of the process…usually when your file goes to underwriting for the final documents to sign. Please continue to pay your bills (on time), please do not change work hours, please do not go out and buy appliances, do not get a personal loan for ‘stuff for the house’, do not go buy a car/truck/boat/etc. If you have any questions, please talk with your lender first as all of these things can cause your loan to be declined…at the final step….which is awful for everyone. Your pre-approval is NOT set in stone…. A pre-approval is a snap-shot of your ‘current’ financial situation, and if that changes…so can your pre-approval. Your financial situation will be looked at by a myriad of different people, and scrutinized about 2-3 times by the underwriters…which are actually the people with the power. Please remember to talk with your lender and real estate agent…we are here to help! 🙂

A pre-approval is good for a monthly mortgage payment amount…not a purchase price. Your interest rate can not be locked in until about 30-45 days from closing/keys. What this means is that the interest rate you are quoted at the time of pre-approval is merely a ‘guesstimate’. This part is always a bit strange, but your lender can’t even start your actual loan process until you have a signed around contract on a home…signed (and agreed to) by the person with the legal authority to sell that home. If interest rates go up in the process of buying your home, and your rate is not locked in, then your monthly mortgage payment will change…and so can your pre-approval.

Your buyers agent, and your lender should work together, and communicate with each other to help you through this process! I know I say this all the time, but we work for YOU! By working together we help you achieve your goal of your own home where you can kick your shoes off, turn on some football (ok, maybe that is just my house!), and relax! A buyers agent and a lender should work together as a team, communicating with each other, and with you, every step of the way….that is what we are here for! 🙂

I also asked Chris Berg for some information on this email…
There are three forms of approvals that you will see when you purchase a home. Prequalification, preapproval, and approval.

A prequalification is not worth the paper it’s printed on and most if not all sellers will not except a prequalification when you make an offer on a home. The reason for this is that a prequalification is basically just checking your credit but not verifying income or down payment or any of the other thousand things that can go wrong during the transaction.

A preapproval covers all the things they seller needs to see. Not only does it verify your credit but also verifies your income, tax returns, W-2s, down payment, employment and address history, and rent payments. A preapproval is what you need in order to make an offer on a home.

An approval is generally not achieved until you were under contract on a home. It verifies all the items in a preapproval but also includes the appraisal and preliminary title report on all borrowers and sellers.

In order to get a preapproval you need to bring your lender your last two years tax returns, W-2s, last 30 days pay stubs, ID, and two months bank statements if you have a down payment.

If you are seriously considering buying a home a preapproval, with most lenders, will not cost you any money and will allow you to deal with any issues well before you spend the money to make an offer on a home.

No animals were harmed during the writing of this email.

Thank you,
Chris Berg
Mortgage Advisor with Pinnacle Capital Mortgage
MLO-198082
503-320-0925 cell
Cberg@pcmloan.com

Information is power, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there…. If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.
If you have any questions, or comments please get a hold of me anytime. You can call, text, email, or even facebook me. Please remember that while I mean these emails/blogs to be helpful, and educational, I am still hoping that you will call, or email me as I would be honored to help you with your home buying, or home selling adventure! 🙂

As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one. Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships. Your agent, and your lender work for YOU. You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals. Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure. The goal is to be informative and non-promotional. 🙂 We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.

Thank you again for your business and your referrals!! …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers.

….disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…

Upcoming Topics:
What do I need to buy a home,
Hiring a Realtor…questions to ask,
What if I don’t have a Down Payment? ….. &….
What does an Agent do for me?
Debt to Income Ratios….What is this?

Last Week: Why take a home buyers (or sellers) class?

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes? Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999

Why take a home buyer, or seller class?

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Saturday, August 25th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (SR 500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)

Saturday, September 8th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Tuesday, September 11th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (SR 500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know. We understand that you have lives, and families, and work. We will work something out that works better with your schedule. Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner! 😀
~~~~~~~~

Happy Tuesday!

I miss the rain… I miss being able to take a deep breath of fresh air…. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I enjoy the rain. I love spring & fall when the air is crisp, and invigorating. This year and last have been so smoky that it hurts to breathe, and is awful for people who suffer from migraines. The only upside to this awful weather is that if you are thinking about buying then NOW is a great time to be out there. As I talked about in my last email (you can find that at wwww.learningtobuyahome.com, or at Facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate), when the weather is awful … be it super hot, or smoky, or stormy, or snowy, etc… that is the best time to be out buying a home. Spring and fall are the best times to be a seller because that is when people are out looking for homes. Isn’t it interesting how weather around here plays such a huge part of our lives??

So, talking about timing… yesterday we had the shop concrete floor sealed. Obviously having this done on a super smoky day where the air isn’t moving at all was a brilliant plan as the fumes from that were sucked into our garage and then transferred into our home with the forced air furnace. Since we all wanted to wake up in the morning we turned off the AC (the horror!!!), and opened up all the windows and turned on the fans. It was a choice between cool home with harmful fumes, or warmer home with smoky air…but I could be certain we would all wake up in the morning… Well, we woke up all right.. at 6:30am to the sound of our fire alarms & carbon monoxide alarms going off like crazy because of the very air in the home. Talk about being startled awake! The very air that we had in the home was setting off the alarms and we could NOT get them to stay shut off either because well, that’s just the air we have right now. Bright side (because there is always one, right?)… we all woke up (ok, my husband and son in law were already up, but my daughters and I were still sleeping)… so there is that. Neither my husband nor my son in law spilled or broke anything as they got the scare of their lives while they were getting ready for work. Two of the dogs were freaking out about the noise, and Scooby (the shaggy black mongrel) kept trying to drag us out of the home. The other 2 dogs didn’t seem to care much. Three of the cats were also freaking out and kept meowing at me because well, obviously this is my fault and it is my job to fix it, right? The other cat was hiding in parts unknown. So yay for the fire drill I hadn’t been planning?

For those with forced air furnaces, this smoky air is doing a doozy on them too. After the air cleans out, be sure to change out your air filter, and it might be a good idea to do that on your car too. Wall heaters? Vacuum those out. Now might also be a good time to switch out the batteries on your smoke detectors because I don’t want to be the only one waking up at 6:30am….no… really because in case of a real fire, we do want you to wake up too. You should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Make sure you have one on every floor, and that your carbon monoxide detector is no higher than your kneecap….only again because we want you to wake up in the morning too. Even if your home doesn’t have gas to it (mine doesn’t), still make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors (it’s mandatory). Safety first….

Now, let’s talk about classes. At the fair I was asked by many folks why they should take a home buyer (or home seller) class. The classes are there to get you started. Many folks who take a class don’t necessarily buy (or sell) right away, but it is good place to get started, and to get your questions answered. Remember that HGTV doesn’t always accurately portray the real estate cycle, and every state has different laws and paperwork. The home buyers and home seller classes are kind of like a starting point . The point of the classes & this email/blog is to answer home buyers (& home owners) questions, and make sure that you understand the steps to buying (or selling) a home, everyone involved, and to de-mystify the process. Knowing what everyone in the process that you are going to come in contact with is supposed to do, and what each step entails can only help you make a better home decision. When you are informed, and educated, you make better decisions, and when you make better decisions, you are happier with everything.

I couldn’t even begin to count all the folks who have come to classes AFTER having gone out and looked at homes, AFTER having signed a form that they later wished that they hadn’t because it wasn’t what they thought it was, and AFTER having writing up an offer on a home, and not getting the paperwork they needed to protect themselves. Many of these people have been in tears after the class, or come up to us and asked, “why didn’t we know that? How come no one told us this?” ummmm….that’s what the classes are for. The classes are about 3 – 3 1/2 hours long, and while that sounds like a long time, keep in mind that in that time frame we still can’t cover everything, but we do our darndest to make sure that all your questions are answered!

In our current economic climate many people come to the class mainly for the lending information…and really it is good information! Loans that help the first time home buyer like, downpayment assistance? And 100% loans? You bet! They also come to the class for the information on what to expect from a lender, information on good faith estimates, and credit scores…which is also good! If there is anything many of us have learned the past couple of years is to know the loan you are going to be using…..but many people forget about the real estate agent. I mean, it can’t be that hard, right? We watch HGTV…and all agents are the same, right??? Well….I have to say WRONG! Not all agents are the same, as we all operate our businesses differently. It’s like saying that all doctors are the same…I mean, you go to a doctor, and they all pretty much do the same thing, right? Well…yes and no. Technically all doctors do have the same profession, but each doctor is absolutely different in our they run their practice, and what they specialize in. In many ways, real estate is the same way. We all go to the same website to look for homes (www.rmls.com) as it is the only legal website where agents all participate and are held to rules and regulations that protect the public from incorrect information….none of those other websites can say that. We can all show homes….but what does the buyers agent really do? What about the sellers agent? What forms does your agent use to protect you, the buyer? What is the sellers agent doing to protect the sellers? What policies does your agent hold to?

Please remember that your buyer’s agents is the one writing up your offer, and that this is a legal contract. What is your agent doing to protect you, the buyer? …or are they protecting themselves? Is your buyers agent explaining everything? Buying a home is your single largest investment, and there is only one other thing that is going to cost you as much in your life, and that is having a child. Make sure that you know the right questions to ask, and if you (and your buyers agent) is doing all they can to protect you…their employer. Another thing to remember is that, at no time, is the buyer responsible for the buyers agent payment. Sellers pay their agent (again, the one with the sign in the yard) to sell their home. The sellers agent then offers a portion of that (at their discretion) to the buyers agent, so the buyers agent is paid for by the sellers agent. And no…you do not get a better deal when not having your own buyers agent because that sellers agent is getting paid the same amount no matter what from the seller….if you go to the sellers agent, you are just, in essence, representing yourself since that agent is hired by the seller to represent them, and not you.

In real estate, it is all about verbiage….we can make something sound very good, when it isn’t. An agent can take a form that is there to protect them, and turn it around so it sounds like it is something you want. When it all comes down to it, a buyers agent works FOR the buyers, and the sellers agent (the one whose name is on the sign in the front yard of the home you like) works FOR the seller! Each agent works for their employer to the best of their abilities…but we all have different abilities. You don’t like every doctor or dentist you meet….what makes you think you are going to like every real estate agent you meet? And No…real estate in the state of Washington is not like what you see on HGTV. Each state has different rules, and laws pertaining to real estate…and Washington actually has some fairly strict ones. Your buyers agent is writing up your contract on the most expensive purchase you will ever make….does it make sense to also learn about that process? To learn about forms you need, and forms you don’t want? To know what you should expect from your agent? To know when earnest money is due? Who should be at the home inspection? What pays for what? What types of homes mean what, and why? These are all things we cover in the real estate portion of the home buyers & sellers classes.

I hope that explains this a bit, but if you have any questions, or comments please call or email me anytime! I am here to help…

Your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one. Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships. Your agent, and your lender work for YOU. You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals. Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure. The goal is to be informative and non-promotional. 🙂 We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.

If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard…or if you would like me to help you with your home adventure, please call, email, text, or facebook me anytime. I am, as always, happy to help!

Thank you again for your business and your referrals!! …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers.

. ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…

Upcoming Topics: Contingencies, Rentback, and Pre-Possession (oh my!),
Buyers Due Diligence, &….
What happens after an offer is made?

Last Week: Why do deals fall through?

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes? Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

Holy Price Reducations Batman!

 

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Tuesday, July 31st , from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, August 18th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Monday, August 20, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, August 25th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (SR 500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know. We understand that you have lives, and families, and work. We will work something out that works better with your schedule. Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner! 😀
~~~~~~~~

Happy Sunday!

Oh my goodness… have I mentioned lately how in love I am with my air conditioner??? Right now it is my favorite thing in my house… however, it is supposed to start cooling down though (thankfully), and just in time for the Clark County Fair! The fair runs from Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 12th. Chris Berg and I will be at the Clark County Fair again this year… because we are crazy. Please, stop by and say, “hi!” to us… it is the one thing that keeps up sane while we are there. It’s a long 10 days and we will be there EVERY day. I will be at the booth (inside the cool big exhibit hall, second booth to the right of the main doors) from 10am-4pm, and Chris will be there from 4pm-10pm…. EVERY DAY. So, please… stop by… talk to us… help us preserve what little sanity we have left…. AND … tell us you saw/read this post AND we have something pretty cool for you. Why? Because I went a little crazy on the promotional items, and I need to get them out of my garage so I can park in there again before the weather starts to turn. Help a gal out…

So this week let’s talk a bit about the market… I’ve have a few people ask me if the market is starting to ‘turn’… and my answer is a mixed bag. First things first….it’s HOT, and weather has a LOT to do with real estate, which is kind of weird, but there is a reasoning behind it. The BEST months of the year to be a buyer is always going to be the winter months of November, December, and January. There are couple of reasons for this …. weather (cold, crappy, rainy, and sometimes snowy), and the holidays…. not many folks want to be out looking or selling during the holidays. Because of these reasons, home typically ‘sit’ on the market for a bit longer. This is good for buyers because it gives people time to think before jumping on a home and making an offer, and because the market is a bit ‘softer’ during these months, there are less multiple offer situations and more sellers are willing to pay some closing costs. The down side of these months is that there aren’t usually as many homes for sale on the market….this is an upside for the seller. The second BEST months of the year to be a buyer are JULY and AUGUST… why? because again….it’s HOT, and surprisingly the hotter it is the less people are out looking at homes. People want to go the lakes, rivers, and beaches when it is hot….they don’t want to go look at homes. Also, there is less buyer competition during these months because of the childcare costs, and vacations. One of the pluses about the summer months over the winter months is that there is usually a lot more homes for sale during these months. The craziest time of year to be a buyer is always during February through June as this is usually the busiest time as people have tax refunds to use for down payments (if you don’t have one though there are programs to help with this), and closing costs. February and June can go either way….depending on the year, but during this time there tends to be less homes on the market and a LOT more buyer competition so more multiple offers, homes sell for more than listing price, and sellers are less likely to pay any closing costs.
So what if you have a home to sell, and need to buy one too? The summer and winter months are your best friend too. The spring might be easier to sell, but as a buyer you will have a more difficult time with that ‘sell my home first’ contingency (more about this next blog). The summer and winter months will give you a more solid buyer, and availability to purchase your new home with being contingent on the sale of your current home.
Does this explain the price drops you are seeing? Yes… the market is always on steroids during the spring, and when people list during the summer they see this, but as the home sits on the market for a bit longer, the price drops start happening. For buyers this is good…. multiple offers are difficult for everyone, and many buyers need some closing costs assistance. If you are a buyer…. go look at homes when it is hot as hades out there… it is a good thing!
Does this mean that prices will keep coming down? Not that we see, but we (as an industry) don’t think prices will continue to rise as they have been doing. Real estate tends to run on a 10 year cycle, and yes, we are nearing (or are at) the top of the cycle again. Interest rates are going up, and we don’t see those going down anytime soon. As interest rates go up, home prices will get ‘softer’. Remember that you are pre-approved for a monthly home payment (not a purchase price). The monthly home payment is directly related to interest rates….so as rates go up, a buyer is pre-approved for less. I’m talking to my buyers right now, and reminding them that the home they purchase is really a 7-10 year home.
We see many more homeowners following the interest rates, and seeing home prices start to soften, so we are seeing more home inventory hitting the market….again… this is a good thing as it will ease up the low supply/high demand that caused home prices to skyrocket.
Please remember a couple of things….I might have been called a witch a time or two, but my powers of seeing the future are not very good. My magic wand is a hit and miss, and that silly 8 ball lies to me quite frequently. All we can do is listen to the economists, watch and follow the trends, and rely of past economic predictions.
Good news is that YES, due to higher inventory and lower demand and this infernal heat, we ARE seeing price drops.
So what about the market? Well, the market is seeing some changes as well….with the higher interest rates folks aren’t getting pre-approved for as much as they were getting pre-approved for. Those homeowners in the higher price ranges are on the market for longer and reducing prices to find buyers. It starts in the higher price ranges first and gradually starts moving down…..but the lower price ranges will always have the most buyers looking.
Is there a crash coming? Not that anyone sees….no… What the economists are talking about is a ‘market correction’ where rising interest rates control the skyrocketing home prices.
Now for those of you who love this heat…. I am too pale, and my hair is too frizzy for this kind of madness…. 🙂

I hope that explains this a bit, but if you have any questions, or comments please call or email me anytime! I am here to help…

Your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one. Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships. Your agent, and your lender work for YOU. You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals. Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure. The goal is to be informative and non-promotional. 🙂 We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.

If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard…or if you would like me to help you with your home adventure, please call, email, text, or facebook me anytime. I am, as always, happy to help!

Thank you again for your business and your referrals!! …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers.

. ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…

Upcoming Topics: Contingencies, Rentback, and Pre-Possession (oh my!),
Buyers Due Diligence, &….
What happens after an offer is made?

Last Week: Why do deals fall through?

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes? Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

sewer vs septic


Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Tuesday, June 19th , from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, June 30th, from 10am-1pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Tuesday, July 11th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know. We understand that you have lives, and families, and work. We will work something out that works better with your schedule. Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner! 😀
~~~~~~~~~

Happy Monday!

Incredibles 2 was ….Incredible! I think it was (almost) worth the wait! 🙂 ….and THANK YOU for coming out to the Client Appreciation event to see the movie with Chris Berg and I. We love these events, and we hope you do as well. Our next Client Appreciation will be Fantastic Beasts, and Where to Find Them…part 2.
This is just our small way of saying, “THANK YOU” for your continued support, friendship, and oh yes, referrals. We appreciate YOU so much. .

So, this week let’s talk about septic and sewer… this comes up quite frequently in our area….and it is important. This week we are going to talk about what people don’t like to think about in your home. Many areas in Clark County are still on Septic systems, and not hooked up to the Sewer. This, of course, makes sense in rural areas where you don’t expect sewer hook-up, but many places in Vancouver are still on septic as well as the sewer lines are not available there. However, sometimes the sewer line is there, but the home is still on a private septic system. I grew up on a septic system… both at my grandparents home that was on acreage & at my mothers home that was on a septic…in Vancouver, and by a hospital. It is surprising to some people just how many homes in Vancouver are still on a septic. For me, septic isn’t a big deal. It just has to be maintained, and as a homeowner, you have to be careful what you *ahem* flush. Homes with a septic shouldn’t have a garbage disposal as they aren’t equipped to handle that.

What is a septic system? How Septic Systems Work A typical septic system contains two major components: a septic tank and a soil drainfield. The septic tank: ♦ Removes solids, which helps protect the soil drainfield from clogging that can result in premature failure of the onsite system. ♦ Digests a portion of the solids and stores the remaining portion. Up to 50% of the solids that remain in the tank decompose. The remaining 50% accumulates in the bottom of the tank as sludge. When the level of sludge exceeds the tank’s holding capacity, the sewage has less time to settle before leaving the tank. Eventually, the sludge level increases enough to allow solids to enter into the drainfield, resulting in damage to the field and the need for extensive repairs. The soil drainfield: ♦ Is located underground in an unsaturated soil area on your property. ♦ Further treats the effluent through physical, chemical, and biological processes. The field consists of a series of underground perforated pipes installed in a one-foot deep layer of washed gravel, or a series of plastic chamber units. Here, the effluent is distributed, stored, and ultimately applied to the soil for treatment. After filtering through the soil, the treated effluent enters the groundwater level for final disposal.

A sewer system is, of course, is a city/county maintained sewage disposal system. The city/county is responsible for the care and maintenance of the sewage lines UNTIL it hits your property lines. Once all pipes hit your property line, the maintenance & repair responsibility is the homeowners.

Maintenance of your septic system?The lack of septic tank maintenance can cause sewage to back up into your house or solids to overflow to the drainfield. Once solids overflow and leave through the tank outlet, they can quickly clog a drain field to the point that a new one is required. Most septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, depending on the tank size and the amount and type of solids entering the tank. The inspection of the sludge and scum levels is the only way to determine when a tank needs to be pumped. This is not necessarily a pleasant task, but can be done relatively easily. Septic tank pumping firms are available to perform the inspection. Your septic needs inspected every 2 years and that inspection on file with the Clark County Health Department. An average septic system needs pumped every 3-5 years.

So what if you have, or buy a home that is on septic and the sewer comes in your area/street? Do you have to hook up to it? Actually you don’t. If your septic system is in good working order you can decline to hook up to the sewer. I sold 2 homes this week that were on a septic system….even though the sewer runs in front of the house, and one of the buyers was using her VA loan. You can buy a home on a septic system with a FHA or VA loan….even if there is a sewer line is available. While you do not have to hook up to the sewer if your septic is in good working order there is an ‘if’ here…. If your septic system fails though…then yes, you will need to hook up to the sewer. However, the sewer line has to be within so many feet of the home for that to happen. So what is the cost to hook up to the sewer? Roughly about $7,000-$15,000. What is the cost of a new septic system? Roughly about $7,000-$15,000. Yes, that is a lot of money, but there is help for it….”Vancouver’s Sewer Connection Incentive Program (SCIP) extends public wastewater main lines to areas where septic systems were initially installed because sewer wasn’t available then, typically areas that were later annexed into the city. Through SCIP, we are working with homeowners to provide an easy and affordable solution to change from septic systems to safe, reliable public sewer.”

Now…just in case you haven’t noticed, I have shamelessly plagiarized parts of this email from the Clark County & City of Vancouver websites For more information you can go to the following websites: www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/propertyowners & www.cityofvancouver.us/publicworks/page/sewer-connection-incentive-program-scip.

Well, that is this weeks crappy discussion! LOL …sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one. Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships. Your agent, and your lender work for YOU. You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals. Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure. The goal is to be informative and non-promotional. 🙂 We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.

If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard…or if you would like me to help you with your home adventure, please call, email, text, or facebook me anytime. I am, as always, happy to help!

Thank you again for your business and your referrals!! …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers.

. ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…

Upcoming Topics: Buyers Due Diligence,
What are the ‘Hidden’ Costs of Buying a Home? …..
What if I don’t have a Down Payment? ….. &….
What happens after an offer is made?

Last Week: Showing homes…things buyers & sellers should know.

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes? Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999)

Seeing homes… what buyers & sellers should know

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes: real estate not hgtv

Saturday, June 16th , from 9m-12pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave)
Tuesday, June 19th, from 5m-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Ceneter, conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….                                                                                  
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website
                  
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
                                ~~~~~~~~~
Happy sunny weather!! 
  It’s that time again (and again!)…  CLIENT APPRECIATION EVENT time… Yay!!  😀
Saturday, June 16 from 3pm-6pm.
Chris Berg & I would like to invite our clients to come watch a movie with us.  Didn’t we just have one?  Well, yes…yes, we did and we had so much fun that we want to do it again!
Which one now? Well, it involves some Disney, NO CAPES, a family, and a very long wait!  
 Come join us for The Incredibles 2!!
This is just our small way of saying, “THANK YOU” for your continued support, friendship, and oh yes, referrals. We appreciate YOU so much. Come watch a movie with us!  There’s always room for
friends and family too.  🙂
We do need rsvp’s, and those can be made via Facebook or email to either Chris Berg (cberg@pcmloan.com) or Tracie DeMars (traciedemars@aol.com) for right now.  
We are always excited for the client appreciation events, and it’s almost as exciting for us as getting someone’s offer accepted on their dream home… or getting an offer signed around on the home they’re selling.  I know people think that Real Estate is about houses, and while, yes…that is partly correct, it isn’t completely correct.  😀  Real Estate is more about the relationships we form with our clients, and assisting them with their goals. 
  As we’ve talked about, once you hire a Realtor to help you with your home adventure, you are ready for the ‘fun’ part…..LOOKING AT HOMES!  🙂  This is always an exciting time for buyers, and it should be!  Every home you pull up to has the possibility to be ‘the one’….The one you make an offer on, the one that you buy, the ONE that becomes YOUR HOME…and it is very exciting.  For the sellers though, it is very stressful because currently it is THEIR home, and they’re leaving so that strangers can come in.  As a Realtor, we are trying to make this as easy as possible for both the buyer and seller, but we need help…

From the homeowners (sellers), we are asking that the home be available to show, that the home be clean, nothing of value is being left out, all medicines are put away and out of sight (not left in bathrooms or kitchen cabinets), anything that a seller wants excluded from the sale is noted, that sweet pups are either removed or kenneled, that sweet kitties are noted as inside only or inside/outside ok, and that please, please… homeowners (sellers) be gone for showings.  As always, there is more to it than this, but that is a different class….and email.  You can always call me for more information when you are selling your home. 
 
From the buyers….it gets a bit more complicated…  before we go house shopping, we are asking that you have a pre-approval letter with a solid lender, we are asking that you do not look at homes above your price range, we are asking that you have thought about the Top Three things you want in a home (so we can show you homes that have those items you value most), and that you help us help you….  
    When a Realtor opens the lockbox to show you the home, we are taking responsibility for everything that happens from that moment on….until we lock up the house and put the key back into the lockbox.  As I say all the time…  Real Estate is NOT like HGTV…  you don’t just get to wander the home while your Realtor sits outside…  we must be with you at all times when touring your potential new home.  Sometimes this can be like herding cats, but we understand your excitement…  just please, please as you are touring the home, and we know you have your family with you, please…we must all stay together.  Don’t make me sing to you here…..
    As cool as those toys look, I’m sorry but the kiddos can’t play with them, and sorry…but you can’t jump on the beds either.  It’s ok to open cupboards, and closets, but we can’t open dressers, or go through someone else’s personal items.  Touring a home is a VISUAL thing….sorry.  Yes, you can use the bathroom. 
    When it’s wet out (which it hasn’t been lately), it’s always a good take off our shoes before we enter someone else’s home so be sure to wear easy on & off shoes.
    When we are looking at homes, often we have more than one home to look at, and many homes are owner occupied so your Realtor makes appointments.  We do the best we can to make sure we have enough time to look at the homes, but we need to stay within our timeframes as the sellers are waiting to come home after we leave, or there are other Realtors waiting to show the home.  I promise we are not trying to ‘rush’ you through the home…we are just trying to stay within the timeframes so that you can see the other homes on your list. 
    With the real estate market being so crazy right now, it’s important that if a home comes up that you like, that you let your Realtor know as soon as possible so we can make an appointment for you to see it.  Your Realtor should be sending you a list of homes as they come on the market for you to check….drive by the homes…check out those neighborhoods….and let’s make an appointment to go see the inside of the home.
    Do not trust Internet photos!  Realtors hire professional photographers for our listings for a reason.  🙂  Internet photos are a lot like internet dating…you don’t know what you’re going to get when you get there  
 
   Like the neighborhood, but not sure about the house?  Let’s at least go check out the inside!  You never know as you can’t judge a book (or a house) by its cover. 
    ASK QUESTIONS!!  For heavens sake…this is a home you are thinking about buying…  ask questions!  As your Realtor, we are here to help!  If we can’t answer your questions, we can at least set up in the right direction to get those answers. 
Buying a home is a very emotional experience.  Your Realtor is here to point out pros/cons, and to help you…. Trust your heart, but use your head…  or your Realtor.  🙂  Remember that we work FOR you.
Thank you, as always, for reading this. Now, Memorial Day just passed, and as nice as it was to spend the day with our family….let’s take a moment to remember WHY we have this holiday….to remember our brave men and women who fought, and died, so that we can enjoy our time with our families.  Memorial Day isn’t just about BBQ’s, fun, and family…  it’s about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  We Remember….

I hope this helps you this week!  Please, if you have any questions, please feel free to call, email, text, or even facebook me anytime.  I am always here to help!   
Information is power, and I hope that I am help you!  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.
 
I hope that explains this a bit, but if you have any questions, or comments please call or email me anytime!  Please remember that while I mean these emails/blogs to be helpful, and educational, I am still hoping that you will call, or email me.  I would love to help you with your home buying, or home selling adventure!  🙂

    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.  
 
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 .…disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…
 
Upcoming Topics:
Credit 101…. part 2 (with information about credit class)
Hiring a Realtor…questions to ask,
Buyers Due Diligence …what you need to know  &….
What does an Agent do for me?


Last Week:  Loans & Down Payment Information

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

 

Loan Descriptions & Down Payment Assistance Programs

normalUpcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Saturday, May 12th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College) 


Saturday, May 19th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR 503 & 112th Ave/Gher Road)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….                                                                                  
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website                  
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner


Hiya~
 

Good news!!  Chris Berg is putting together a class on credit.  I am going to email out the 2nd part of the credit 101 email blog after I have a date for his class.  A lot of questions were emailed because of that email.  We appreciate your questions, and truly want to help with those.  We think the class will be very helpful.

Thank you to everyone who came to the Client Appreciation Event this past Saturday for the Avengers:  Infinity War.  Wow!  That was CRAZY!  I have a ton of theories on what is going to happen for part 2 next year…  I’d love to hear yours too 😀
Please don’t forget that our NEXT Client Appreciation is on Saturday, 6/16, for the Incredibles 2.  We’ve all been waiting a long time for this sequel.  I’m crossing my fingers that it is worth the wait.  My oldest daughter is pregnant and hormonal…so if it isn’t….  well, let’s just home that the sequel is awesome.

So, this week we’re going to spend some time talking about down payment.  Like Closing Costs, or money that folks need to buy a home….there seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding this. Many banks, or lenders, will tell you different things…or different down payment dollar amounts that you will need because that is what THEIR lending institution will allow, but there’s always more options.  Please remember that I am NOT a lender.  Please call or email Chris Berg at Pinnacle Mortgage for more information on any of these, or feel free to come to one of the classes.  We are here to help.  Chris’s information is:  503-320-0925  & cberg@pcmloan.com…  or you can Facebook him as well.

FHA:

FHA is the king loan as most folks will use this when buying a home.  Chris says that, with FHA, you can buy a home with as low as a 580 credit score, but it’s rough…  620, or higher,  and you will love him.  FHA requires the lowest down payment, and that is 3.5% of the purchase price.  If you have your down payment, the lender can help with your closing costs.  We will talk about Closing costs next week.

Conventional:

You can get a conventional loan with a down payment of 3% of the purchase price if you or the home meet certain criteria or 5% down if you make too much money for the program, but interest rates tend to be higher with this loan, and the best rates go to those folks with 720 or higher credit scores.

USDA or Rural:

This is a zero down payment loan….(remember that you do still have to have some money to buy a home…see last weeks email).  USDA is location specific though as you have to buy in their approved areas….and they don’t like barns, or acreage.
 
VA:
Have to be a veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran who died in service.  No down payment required.  This really is the best loan program there is, and frankly our military vets & folks deserve it.  
 
Those are the 4 basic loans and, in some form or another, most lenders work with them or offer variations of them.  However, what if you don’t have money for a down payment?  You have your earnest money, your inspection fee, and your appraisal fee (unless you’re VA which includes the appraisal fee)…but you really want to buy your OWN home?  ….and you don’t want to live in a USDA approved area?  You want to live in Vancouver?  Well, there’s programs for that too!
 
From Chris:
 
Here is the information on a couple of loans that the big banks and credit unions don’t offer that may help you get into a home now:
 
WSHFC Home Advantage: This is for Washington residents buying a home that they are going to use as their primary residence.  They offer a 2nd mortgage to cover your down payment with 0% interest and no payments on that 2nd mortgage for 30 years.  Also only need a 620 credit score to qualify.  Those are the pros.  Cons include higher interest rate on the 1st mortgage, more closing costs, 3rd party underwriting, and there is a max income (for all living in the home) that you have to be under.
 
Chenoa Down Payment Assistance:  This is a cool option.  Works for multiple states (including WA and OR).  First mortgage is FHA and the 2nd mortgage (if you are under the max income threshold) that covers your down payment is forgiven after you have made your on time payments for 36 months.  Good news is that if you make more than the max income for the program you can still do it, you just have to pay the 2nd mortgage back.  Cons are mostly in the fact that the rate for the 1st mortgage is higher than if you had a down payment.
 
Long story short, there are several low/zero down payment options for you to consider.  You will always get a better deal if you have a down payment but if you don’t I have got you covered.  There are also options and avenues for a down payment too.
 
 ….and don’t forget gifts.  If you have a family member who wants to help you (and can they adopt me?), gifts can be used to help with your down payment, or earnest money.  This is actually quite common.  Another way to get a down payment is to use your 401k.  If you have a 401k, or retirement account, most of those have special options that you can use to get money out for your down payment.  So…whether you have your down payment, or you need help with a down payment… there are options, and help available.  We are always here to answer any questions you might have.  It’s what we do…  🙂 
 
            Information is power, and I hope that I am able to help you.  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  AND If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.                                                                       
 
    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.  
 
If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard…or if you would like me to help you with your home adventure, please call, email,  text, or facebook me anytime.  I am, as always, happy to help!
 
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 .   ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 
 
Upcoming Topics: 
Credit 101… part 2….  with information for the credit class
Flash vs Bones…what should a buyer be looking for in homes? 
What happens after an offer is made?  and
Water?  What water?  oh… the water under the house…..
 
Last Week:  Credit 101… part one 
 
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com

traciedemars@aol.com
“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

Credit 101… Part One (and great movie trailer!)

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Tuesday, April 17th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Saturday, April 28th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
    Vancouver YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR 503 & 112th Ave/Gher Road)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….                                                                                  
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website
 Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner

Happy Weekend!

….  talking about Client Appreciation…we were talking about Client Appreciation…weren’t we?   We have two coming up.  Avengers: the infinity war will be on Saturday, May 5 from 3pm-6pm.  Yes, we are aware that Disney moved the premier up to the 28th, but they’re Disney so they can do whatever they want.  We, however, are NOT Disney, and we will be at the Clark County PUD Home & Garden show the last weekend of April.  Stop by and see us if you are going.  🙂  Our next Client Appreciation after that will be for The Incredibles: 2 on Saturday, June 16, from 3pm-6pm.  We do have limited tickets to both, and of course, limited 21+ tickets.  Please email either Chris Berg (cberg@pcmloan.com), or myself to reserve tickets….yes, even if you have already stated you want to go.  Due to limited tickets we are going to limit tickets to 6 right now.  If we have open tickets towards to the end (and we usually do), we will open tickets up to those who want more.  Thank you for your continued business, and for your referrals!  We appreciate you….  check out the trailer!  😀  More informational Blogs are available at www.learningtobuyahome.com.

This week some credit issues came up with some clients, and I have been getting quite a few inquiries from people regarding credit…so….let’s spend a couple of weeks going over credit.  
I know that ‘sometimes’ I can go a bit long (sorry!) so I am trying to keep it shorter for you by breaking this up into 2 parts….   
 
   Credit Basics…
Your credit score is a 3 digit number that lenders and institutions use to predict how you will pay your bills, or debts.  The score ranges from 300-850, and the average US citizen score is in the mid 600’s.  This score is calculated using your credit payment history from those companies that report to a credit agency and go on your report.
There are several versions of the credit score, and each entity may look at something different, but most entities in your life will look at your credit score….your insurance company, a prospective employer, your bank, a car lender, a mortgage lender, etc.  The most commonly used version for your credit score is the FICO score (Fair Isaac Company).  Lenders and creditors look at this score to decide if you are a safe risk, or not. 
How is it calculated?
Some parts of your bill paying history are more important than others, and are given different weights when calculating your score.  Now, please remember that while Fair Isaac owns all the details of the exact information on how a score is calculated, we do know what information is used.
Paying Your Bills ON TIME = 35%
Remember that, with banks and creditors, it is all about risk so they are most concerned about whether or not you pay your bills.  The best indicator of this is how you’ve paid your bills in the past.  Late payments and collections will affect your credit score and the more recent the delinquencies, the more they hurt the credit score.  If they are older, and you can show that you haven’t had any recently (at least a year), this is better.
How Much Debt You Have = 30%
Credit utilization is the amount of debt you have in comparison to your credit limits.  The creditors and lenders use this to see how you manage your debt…..the closer you are to your limits equals the lower your credit score will be.  Lenders and creditors want to see you about 30% or less because it shows 1) you can manage your debt and your income
2) you aren’t using credit to live on
3) in case something does happen you do have some credit to fall back on until you get on your feet.
Length of Credit History = 15%
How long have you had your loans?  Your credit card(s)?  The longer your credit history goes back, the better your score because you have something that creditors and lenders can track.  It gives them more information on your spending habits, and your potential for risk.  Don’t close a long standing account for a new one with a lower interest rate….it will hurt your credit score more than keeping that old card open.
Inquiries = 10%
To a creditor/lender, too many applications for credit can mean that you are taking on a lot of debt, or that you could be in some kind of financial trouble….and that you are a ‘high risk’.  Any inquiry made on your credit (yes, even those “would you like to apply for our credit card to receive 25% off of your purchase”), can remain on your credit report for 2 years.  Of course, your credit score calculation only considers applications made within the last year, but creditors and lenders can see everything….
Every inquiry is a ‘ding’ on your credit score, but if you are searching for a large loan, such as a car loan, or a home loan, you can make so many inquiries within a specified time and it will only count as one ding.  The credit bureaus do understand that you aren’t trying to buy 3 homes, but shopping around.  You only have a short window for this though…and remember, if a lender sees that you have been shopping for a car loan previous to searching for home loan that this could be a red flag.
What Kind of Credit Do You Have? = 10%
You need to have a good mix of credit on your account…some long term debt, like a car loan, and some short term debt, like a credit card.  This shows you have experience managing a mix of credit.   Most car, student, and home loans are known as installment debt as these are fixed payments.  Credit cards are revolving debt as the payments are in direct relation to how you have used it.  High debt is an issue in relation to how much income you have….but that is a different blog…
Having different types of debt is only 10%, so it isn’t a real big deal….unless you have no other information.
No Credit?
I understand the dream is to live debt free, and with no credit, but the problem with this is that if you have NO credit then creditors/lenders, etc., have nothing to base your history, and your credit worthiness (aka: risk) on.  Most folks have to get credit, or a loan at some time….whether you want a home, or a car, but without credit this is very difficult.  At this point, your lender may have you open some credit lines for 6 months or more to grow your credit history before they can give you a loan.  It is harder to get a loan with NO credit than it is with BAD credit.  Bad credit can be fixed, but no credit has to be earned.  I know…bizarre, but there you are.
Should you pay off all your debt first…before talking with a lender?
Not necessarily. Why?  For example, one of my recent clients had 3 old debts from a divorce, and a bad split up.  He had 2, and she had one.  My clients wanted to pay them off, but the lender told them to wait as they had a mid-score of 630 already which is fine to purchase a home.  Now, at closing, the underwriters made it a condition of the financing to have those 3 bills paid off by bringing in a check at signing for those.  My clients asked why they couldn’t have just paid it off at beginning like they wanted to.  Their lender told them that had they paid those off first it would have been a ‘hit’ on their credit that would have taken them under the 620 needed to buy a home, but by waiting it wasn’t an issue.
I know, I know…crazy!  There is it though.  Answer is to wait!  Sit down and talk with a lender like Chris Berg at Pinnacle Home Mortgage and talk about your credit report FIRST….before you do anything.  Get a game plan and then go from there educated on your options, choices, and your next steps.  We are, as always…here to help YOU!
Please remember in this crazy market that you do not get T-Bone steaks for the price of hamburger…Look ONLY at homes within your budget.  ALWAYS ask questions, and expect answers without a lot of lingo.  I was always told that if you can’t explain something in a way that the other person can understand clearly, it is because you don’t understand it yourself.  🙂

I’m always available to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out to me anytime.  🙂
 

     Information is power, and I hope that I am able to help you.  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  AND If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.                                                                       

 
    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  All home buying adventures should START with the Home Buyer Education Classes. Don’t talk to lenders/agents until after the classes so you know the questions to ask, what all the paperwork means, and fully understand the process.  As always…the classes are Free and Non-Promotional.  We are not there to promote ourselves, or any ‘special’ agenda like some classes, and while we certainly hope you will call Chris or I, or both of us, to help with your home buying adventure, that certainly isn’t the main focus of the classes.  If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard… or if you would like me to assist you with your home adventure… please call, email, or text.  We are here to help.
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers.
 .   ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings…
Upcoming Topics: What happens after an offer is made?  and
Water?  What water?  oh… the water under the house…..
Last Week:  Property Taxes… the elephant in the room
 
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com
 

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).

Hiring a Realtor? Questions to ask….

she's crazyUpcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Saturday, April 14th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Tuesday, April 17th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, April 28th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
    Vancouver YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR 503 & 112th Ave/Gher Road)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….                                                                                  
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website                  
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner
Happy Spring!  ….or 3rd winter.. whatever…

Anyone else feel like Mother Nature missed the memo this year?  Winter hit late, and now that it is spring.. she just doesn’t seem ready to let go.  I do know that feeling myself though… it’s hard to stop when you are on a roll.  🙂

  So, before we jump into this weeks topic, I want to remind you to send me your best pictures for the 2019 calendar that we will be giving away at this winters Client Appreciation…..and talking about Client Appreciation…  We have two coming up.  Avengers: the infinity war will be on Saturday, May 5 from 3pm-6pm.  Yes, we are aware that Disney moved the premier up to the 28th, but they’re Disney so they can do whatever they want.  We, however, are NOT Disney, and we will be at the Clark County PUD Home & Garden show the last weekend of April.  Stop by and see us if you are going.  🙂  Our next Client Appreciation after that will be for The Incredibles: 2 on Saturday, June 16, from 3pm-6pm.  We do have limited tickets to both, and of course, limited 21+ tickets.  Please email either Chris Berg (cberg@pcmloan.com), or myself to reserve tickets….yes, even if you have already stated you want to go.  Due to limited tickets we are going to limit tickets to 6 right now.  If we have open tickets towards to the end (and we usually do), we will open tickets up to those who want more.  Thank you for your continued business, and for your referrals!  We appreciate you


So let’s talk a bit about agency and hiring an agent this week…
So why is Agency so important?  Because Agency is what we DO…and you need to be aware of what to expect from your agent.  The biggest thing I can tell you is that a Realtor is NOT A SALESPERSON!  The only thing a Realtor is selling is themselves…their education, their experience, their talents, their level of customer/client service, their personality, their ethics….who ‘they’ are, and how that Realtor can help you with your home adventure.  Really, all Realtors essentially do the same thing, but it’s HOW we do it, who we are as a person, and what each individual agent brings to the table, that makes a difference. Once your Realtor is hired to help you buy (or sell) a home, they’re not (or shouldn’t be) selling anything.  Once hired, that Realtor works FOR you…that Realtor should be using all those things that made you want to hire her (or him) to your benefit as they represent you.  Agency is how we do it, and how we represent you.  Agency is the relationship between you, and your realtor.
  Again…so WHY is Agency so important for you to know and understand?  Agency is the relationship between you, and your realtor, right?  So, when you hire a Realtor to help you buy (or sell) a home, you are trusting that Realtor to put your interests first, to represent YOUR best interests, to be truthful (even if that stings a bit), to be honest, to be act as your representative.  You’re trusting this Realtors experience, knowledge, care, education, etc…and trusting that this Realtor is going to provide you with client customer service for this, the biggest transaction, of your life.  This all sounds correct, right?  That Realtor should not be trying to ‘sell’ you on anything.  This is YOUR home adventure, and our main job is to help you get keys on ‘the’ home you want.
  Please….LIKE your agent!  Too many times I talk to people who do NOT like their Realtor, and folks… I’m just saying that that’s not right!  The average home sale in Clark County is over $330,000…that is a over a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS…why are you going to trust that kind of money to someone you don’t even like?
  The National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics that every agent is legally bound by…or at least…is supposed to be…  The first article is the duty to clients, and it states, “When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, REALTORS® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”
 
BAM!!!  If I had a mic, I’d drop it.  😀  
  Some things I want you to know…whether you are buying or selling a home, everyone is legally entitled to their own realtor representation…and yes, this has come up recently.  Sadly, a realtor recently told someone that they could not have their own representation…that this particular realtor refused to work with another agent(s) on that home that the buyer wanted to buy.  Legally, EVERYONE is entitled to representation of their own when buying or selling their home.  If something sounds, ‘off’ to you…ask.  
  What many people fail to realize is that, as a home buyer, or a home seller, YOU are the boss.  You are hiring someone to help you with one of the most important stages of your life.  YOU ARE HIRING SOMEONE…. this is an interview.  What questions should you be asking?
 
HOW long have you been in the real estate business?  
   Do they have experience, a network of people that they can contact to help?  Nothing wrong with a newbie, but do you know everything about a job when you first start out?  How do you learn?  In real estate, we are always learning, but do you want to be the transaction that an agent ‘cuts their teeth’ on?
HOW long have you been licensed?  
   This ties into the last question.  Sometimes an agent worked with another licensed agent as an unlicensed assistant so they could have a couple of years in the real estate industry, but very few (or none) as a licensed agent.  Again, nothing wrong with a ‘newbie’ agent….often times they have more time to help you vs an experienced agent who has other clients we are working with as well.  An experienced agent usually has a pipeline of clients and closings so we’re not as concerned with ‘pushing’ a sale because we don’t need to.  Newer agents usually don’t have that pipeline so may be more concerned about getting you into (or out of) a home as fast as possible.
WHAT did you do prior to real estate?  What was your other careers?
   Why is this important?  Buying, or selling a home is one of the largest financial decisions you will ever make.  You are hiring someone to assist you with this decision.  What qualifications does this person have to help you do so?  Did they work in marketing?  Office management?  Accounting?  Did they wait tables?  Work in a factory?  Were they a car salesperson?  What skills and life experience does that agent bring to the table, and how can it help you?  
DO you have any college education or degrees?
   Again, see above…this is your largest financial decision….how is this person qualified to help you with that?  What background do they have that will assist you?
WILL I be working with you, or an assistant?
   Sometimes you hire an agent to help you, but then you never see them….you’ve been handed off to an assistant who may not have the qualifications you had asked about to that other agent that you ‘thought’ you had hired.  Sometimes you hired the assistant because they had the qualities and the qualifications you were looking for, and you are surprised that they are actually part of a team.
 
WHAT days/times are you available?
   This is pretty important as you need to know if the times you are available are going to work with the times that your agent is available.  Are they there for you when you need them?  Or can you never get a hold of him/her?
 
HOW many homes to you sell (on average) per year?
   Why does this matter?  Most people think that a ‘full time’ agent sells about 12 homes a year…but really that is a part time agent.  It’s a ‘gross’ check vs ‘net’ check kind of thing…and in real estate there are a lot of expenses, dues, fees, and taxes.  Being self employed has some great things, but they come with expensive costs and overheads.  For example, in my family my husband works for health insurance only… I am the main source of income, and to ‘break even’ I have to sell, at least, 2 homes a month.  Of course, a lot of that depends on the types/values of the homes an agent sells.  I work mainly with first time and move up buyers/sellers vs some agent friends of mine who sell luxury homes.  They don’t help as many people as I do, but make more.  You know… like that supervisor at work who makes more than you, but does less work?  LOL
WHAT is the average price of the homes you help people buy/sell?
   This does tie into the last question….  If someone works mainly with luxury homes, do they understand the market for the type of home you are buying or selling?  Not too long ago, I had a call from someone who wanted to sell their 4000 sq ft home in a very swanky Portland neighborhood.  I actually referred them to a different agent for 2 reasons…one reason being that I don’t work in the Portland area and I believe that agents should stick to the areas they know.  Not all markets are the same, and I am not helping someone if I am taking on an unfamiliar market, am I?  …and that’s also kind of the second reason…they have a luxury home and that is a different selling, and buying market.  Honestly, they are better serviced by the agent I referred them to as that agent specializes in Portland, and in that high price range.  I’m always too busy wondering how long it would take to clean it!!
DO you have another job besides real estate?  
   This kind of ties into the question about how many homes does an agent sell per year as many part time agents have other jobs to supplement their income.  This also ties into when that agent is going to be available to help you.  Real estate isn’t just about showing homes…there is SO much more to it.  Phone calls, marketing, searching for homes on the internet, calling about that home, calling other agents, other vendors, paperwork, more paperwork, talking, phone calls, texting, emails, title companies, inspections, appraisals, lenders, etc… it’s an 80 hour a week job some weeks.  There are no ‘real’ vacations as you are always ‘on duty’.
 
HOW do you feel about Dual Agency?
  This is an interesting question as you don’t know what I’m talking about…so let me explain as quickly as I can…  When a seller hires an agent that ‘sellers agent’ should be working for THAT seller.  They will be marketing the home, and ‘selling’ that home to buyers, and buyer agents…in a nut shell the sellers agent is selling that home for the seller for the highest possible price and lowest amount of money out of the sellers pocket book (ie buyer closing costs and repairs).  A buyer hires an agent to help them find that ‘perfect’ home.  To work with them with the lender, to negotiate the offer trying to get that home for them in a multiple offer situation (and maybe for less?), to negotiate closing costs, repairs, to be with the buyers for the home inspection, to help understand appraisal, paperwork, the process…and to support the buyers from contract to keys…and beyond.  Real estate is a relationship business, and we LIVE for referrals.  You should always feel comfortable talking to, and contacting your agent ANYTIME with ANY questions…before, during, and even years after you get keys.  
As you can see, the sellers agent and the buyers agent kind of have two different agendas.  So, if you call the sellers agent to help you buy the home, and that agent works for the sellers, and the buyers on the SAME home…that is a dual agent.  Who is that agent really representing?  Dual agency isn’t illegal in the state of Washington, it’s just my opinion that each side should always have their own representation.  
Builders agents are dual agents which is why you should always bring your buyers agent with you when looking at have a new home built.  Teams are dual agents.  
Who is representing YOU?  Who is working for, and looking out for you?
 
For sellers:  ask about marketing, and ask that the agent go over the comps with you so that you can ‘see’ how the agent came up with their suggested sales price.  We have a class for seller education as well….and yes, they are free and non-promotional.  You can find those class dates on the website (type in my name), or you can email me.
DO I have to sign a contract to work with you?
   If you are selling a home, there is a sellers contract that you will need to sign.  This contract gives your agent the right to represent you for marketing, offers, and negotiations.  But what about if you are buying a home?  There is a form called a Buyers Agency Form, that is a contract between the buyer and the buyers agent.  As a buyer you do not have to sign this form.  As a buyer, I probably wouldn’t sign this paper, no matter how good an agent makes it sound.  Real estate and lending is all about verbiage and there are a ton of ‘scripts’ that can make any form sound reasonable….and good for you, when it may not actually be so.  In real estate, the buyers agency form is a pretty hotly contested piece of paper…there are agents who won’t work with you if you don’t sign it, and there are others (like me) who think it’s awful.  Customer loyalty is built with good customer service…not a piece of paper…but this is only MY opinion.  🙂  If you, as a buyer, choose to sign a buyers agency form, you are now legally in contract with that agent to buy a home with them.  Technically you always have the right to fire someone, but that is a legal contract for a period of time for a specific purpose.  The first question that, as an agent, I always ask a potential client is if they have signed a contract with a previous agent.  This protects everyone involved….it protects the other agent as I don’t want to step on another agents toes, it protects the potentials clients since if they are in a contract with a previous agent then they need to either let that contract expire, or deal with it in another way before hand, and it protects me because getting that call from another agent that they have a contract with one of your clients is not a good one.  So what happens if one of my clients then talks to another agent and signs a contract with that other agent?  Well, then they’re not my client anymore….they’re now they other agents client.  No matter what an agents says, or which ‘script’ they’re following…. you do NOT have to sign a Buyers Agency agreement to hire a Realtor.  
I’m not going to lie to you…. I know that this blog is going to ruffle some feathers, and while I debated actually sending it out…  I decided to do it anyway.  I want to say that I am not knocking anyone in my industry here.  Everyone has to choose to work the way that their ethics and morals dictate.  As a buyer, or seller, YOU need to ask the questions that mean most to you when hiring an agent.  What questions, and qualifications mean most to you?  Are you looking for someone professional looking, or someone more laid back?  Someone with a warped sense of humor, or someone more ‘traditional’?  There are a LOT of great agents out there, and some…well…  like any industry we have our share of crappy.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut when talking with an agent, and hire the person that you are most comfortable with.  Always ask questions!  This is your adventure, and you are driving the bus…. we are just gps.  🙂


I’m always available to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out to me anytime.  🙂

     Information is power, and I hope that I am able to help you.  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  AND If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.                                                                       

 
    As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  All home buying adventures should START with the Home Buyer Education Classes. Don’t talk to lenders/agents until after the classes so you know the questions to ask, what all the paperwork means, and fully understand the process.  As always…the classes are Free and Non-Promotional.  We are not there to promote ourselves, or any ‘special’ agenda like some classes, and while we certainly hope you will call Chris or I, or both of us, to help with your home buying adventure, that certainly isn’t the main focus of the classes.  If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard… or if you would like me to assist you with your home adventure… please call, email, or text.  We are here to help.   
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 .   ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 
 
Upcoming Topics: What happens after an offer is made?  and
Water?  What water?  oh… the water under the house…..
Last Week:  Property Taxes… the elephant in the room
 
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D
Tracie DeMars
Real Estate broker 
Re/Max – Van Mall
360/ 903-3504 cell
360/ 882-3600 fax
www.traciedemars.com
traciedemars@aol.com

“Interested in free and non promotional home education classes?  Go to www.freehomebuyerclasses.com for local upcoming home buyer and home SELLER classes, or facebook: Tracie DeMars Real Estate for my home buyer education blog.”

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer, (1930 – 1999).