Buyers Due Diligence… Real Estate Education

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

Thursday, October 17th, from 5pm – 8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, Conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, October 19th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave).

Saturday, November 2nd, 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 Autumn

FALL!!!    HappyHallowThanksMas!  The last 3 months of the year are my favorite.  I love the argument between Pumpkin Spice or Apple Cider (Apple Cider is the best by the way followed closely by all things peppermint). I love the colors, the smells, the holi-daze, the weather, and the coziness of it all.  I have a body made for winter clothes. Smile  I know.. it’s strange, but I love gray days that make you want to snuggle in with some hot tea, and a good book, and I love those clear fall days where the sky is so blue & the colors on the trees are so bright…  Ok… I’m waxing poetic here, so I better stop while I’m ahead.

  We do have an exciting event coming up though…2 of them actually….  Winter Client Appreciation Events!
In November we will be hosting Frozen 2 & in December… well, it’s STAR WARS time!!  Chris Berg and I will be limiting tickets to 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 muchHeart
 
 
Now…on to our weekly home buyer education!  I know I said we are going to talk about what happens AFTER the home inspection, but first I thougt we should talk about about Buyers Due Diligence, and why this is so important for you.
   I saw a very interesting home this week that was right across the street from a cemetery.  Now, that wouldn’t bother me, but for some folks…that would be a BIG thing.  My clients liked the land but did not like the house…the house was …  interesting.  It was a 1925 home, that had been ‘worked’ on over the years, and probably not professionally.  When I am showing homes to clients, I get asked many questions about the home….some I can answer and some I can’t.   Some of the answers we can find out, and some…well, you never really ‘know’ a home until you are the one living in it.  So, what are some questions I can not answer… is the home haunted?  Um….I don’t know?  Has there been a violent crime in the home or in the area?  Um…I don’t know?  Believe it or not, that isn’t considered a relevant fact when listing the home as it doesn’t actually affect the home.  
   When selling a home, the seller (and sellers agent) is only obligated to disclose known material facts about the home on the sellers disclosure, and this is only  about the home during the current sellers ownership.  So what is a ‘material fact’?   A ‘material fact’ is considered to be something that structurally affects the home.  The sellers disclosure is about 6 pages long and the seller is ‘supposed to’ disclose all known facts about the home on it.  However, if anyone has teenagers you know how often ‘supposed to’ gets done.  Some sellers will disclose ALL facts about the homes….even those items that have been repaired, some sellers will only disclose those items that they haven’t gotten around to fixing, and some sellers just have no idea about anything in their home.  Of course, this is why we do a home inspection.  It isn’t that you can’t trust the sellers, but when it comes down to it, most sellers don’t know anything about their home.  This is called ‘Buyers Due Diligence’.  A buyer does have some responsibility for doing some research on the home, and area, that they are wanting, or trying to, buy in.  If your buyers agent knows anything about the home or area then we have to legal responsibility to disclose it.  In Washington, all sellers are required to fill out the 6 page sellers disclosure on their own.  Their Realtor can not do it for them, or help them fill it out.….however, if the seller is a bank, or it is an estate, or an investor then there won’t be any sellers disclosures, or if there is, most questions will be answered with “don’t know”. For every question on the sellers disclosures, the sellers have 4 choices to answer…  “yes, no, don’t know, or NA”, and every question must be answered….no empty boxes.  When you receive a copy of the sellers disclosure though …remember to take it with a grain of salt, and hire a good inspector.  Many sellers now will even just put a majority of ‘don’t know’ answers on the sellers disclosure so as to not have any liability.  The majority of sellers aren’t trying to ‘hide’ anything about the home, they just truly don’t know.  A realtor will hand the sellers disclosure to their client, the seller, and that is it.  We, real estate agents, can not help the seller fill out the sellers disclosure at all.  If you have any questions regarding anything on the sellers disclosure, your Realtor can request more information (if there is any) from the sellers through their sellers agent.  Make sure you also address any concern you have regarding the homes condition to the home inspector you hire.  He (or she) should be able to help you with that.  The inspector I usually refer out encourages the buyer to walk with him during the home inspection so that the buyer is part of that inspection.  I like to call it a ‘crash course in homeowning’.  Relaxed By the time he is done with the inspection, my client usually knows more about the home than the current owner does!  I can’t stress it enough….ask questions!  You are paying for the home inspection, so walk around with the home inspector, ask questions, learn about what the inspector is checking, and be a part of the home inspection. 
 
   Sometimes, but not often, we will see sellers purposely try to hide something. This sucks.  I had this happen recently with a client. The home in question had been on the market for about 5 months…with 3 different Realtors, and had been pending 2 times before with sale fails. Ok…red flags…3 different Realtors in such a short period of time? Two prior sale fails? hmmm… I asked the current Realtor why the sale fails, and he said there were financing issues.  Ok, sometimes that happens.  I have had that happen on listings of mine too.  Current Realtor was very eager for an offer,and called me about closing costs, etc. My clients liked the home, and the listed price was attractive.  It did need some cosmetic work, but that was ok, for the price and the closing costs. Fast forward to home inspection, and the home passed with flying colors.  Only things that came up was a recalled electric panel (common for the age of the home), and lack of insulation under the home.  Insulation under the home is not required for the age of the home, and was something my clients were willing to do later. The recalled panel would need replaced prior to appraisal as that is something that most likely would be called out.  Where the big issue came was during the sewer scope…  the sewer line from the home to the street had a 35 ft ‘bend’ in it.  Sewer lines need to go down 1 inch for every foot for optimum flow (yay…the things I know that are weird to know), and due to land settling, etc…this homes sewer line had a dip in it before it went to the street. Ok….it’s not like the seller could have known this right? Well, normally I’d agree with you, but in this case he DID KNOW!  Plumber asked us if we knew and we said no (because how would we?)  Plumber then goes on to say that,”well, that’s weird, because the seller knows. This home has had a recent sewer scope already done.  There’s some paint lines in the street that looks like they were scrubbed off.”   Uhhh….what?!  I send this information to the sellers agent (who has no idea),and he assures me that if they knew it would have been on the sellers disclosures (it wasn’t). Sellers agent calls his client and then calls me back. At this point both the sellers agent & I know the seller is full of it because the seller told his agent that there was nothing wrong with the sewer line….because he had the city come out and check it a couple of weeks ago and they hydro jetted it. That all of this was just the plumbing contractor and my clients trying to get more money out of him.  Honestly folks, that was our first indication that this deal was going to be hairy & scary…  We requested the recalled panel to be replaced and the sewer line repaired. The seller sent his agent a bid for the sewer line repair that was dated a full 3 weeks BEFORE my client made their offer. When the seller was with Agent #2, and during the 2nd sale fail.  Sale failed because of financing issues…my tush..
My clients loved many things about the home, and except for the sewer line (and that it needed paint and flooring), it was in excellent condition with a newer roof and new windows. It also had the yard & 2 living spaces that my clients wanted. So, we persisted. Seller did have the panel switched out (with much grumbling).  It cost the seller $700 more than it should have because he tried to go ‘cheap’ and had to have it redone. The sewer line failed the sewer scope. . at least twice.  The bid that the seller presented was for $10,000 to repair the line.  So now my client had a choice….  do we back out? Do we require the sewer line to be repaired? What do we do? At least one of the previous buyers had backed out because the seller refused to repair the line.  Discussion time…  many of the homes we were looking at with this price range were either smaller and in good condition, or needed a new roof soon (about $7,000 estimate), or new windows (about $5,000),or similar. The sewer line is currently working.  Does it need to be under surveillance? Yes. Will it need to be corrected at some point? Yes. Does it need to be done right now? No.  For my clients they decided to go with the evil you know vs the evil that they may find in another home.  This home was in excellent condition with many things already done (like the new roof, windows, & now a new electric panel)…the only thing that will need to be done will be the sewer line. One thing vs many possible things at a different home.  So I spoke with the sellers agent (who was very dismayed to find out his seller had been lying to him), and they offered a split of the repair cost. What this means is that we had a $10,000 sewer line repair bid. The sellers offered another $4000 in closing costs to offset that repair.  I called my clients lender to ask if my buyers could use all of those closing costs (whatever isn’t used is returned to the sellers), and they could!  My clients accepted that compromise as this freed up some money for my clients to do what they wanted to the home to move in… those cosmetic things that they didn’t have to put off now.  In the end it worked out.  Of course…that was until closing day….but that is a story for next week….

It’s not often that seller will blatantly lie on a sellers disclosure.  Most of the time it is something that the sellers don’t know about that shows up on a home inspection, or a sewer scope.  However, that is why we do inspections…  because of the things that people don’t know, don’t think about, and rarely…try to hide.  As I said in my last email… buying a home is a lot like buying a used car.  Most of the time it is all good, but occasionally…occasionally… you find those folks who are trying to get away with something.  

 
   Your realtor will help you find out as much about the home as possible.  Your agent should be present at your home inspection, and so should you.  However, whether or not the home is haunted or not, we really can’t help you with.  Whether or not there has been a violent crime in the home or area is another thing that we really can’t help you with, but we CAN help you by providing some places where you can do some research.  Has anyone died in the home?  Again….I don’t know…, but if it is an older home, and/or an estate?  Maybe you should leave out some milk and cookies occasionally?  Laughing
   What about that new building being built in the neighborhood?  Your Realtor probably doesn’t know what it is, and honestly we shouldn’t guess.  That is something that a buyer will want to do some research on.  Is that garage conversion permitted?  Call the city/county.  Your Realtor will help you find the information, but when it comes down to it, because of past legal problems, we are now limited on the extent that we can delve into everything….but we can help you get there still.  It is weird, but there it is.  There is a lot your Realtor can, and will do for you, and we will do all that we can to make sure that you are getting the best customer service possible.  Your Realtor should help you to make sure that you are performing your buyers due diligence to make sure that you won’t get any unexpected surprises later.  I am a huge fan of talking with neighbors….neighbors are a great source of information on a home.  🙂  Please remember that you are not just buying the home, you are buying the neighborhood.  One of the questions I always ask my clients is if they have thought about the area they want to move to?  Have they looked into schools, if that is important.  Have they considered locations regarding work, or family/friends?  I encourage my clients to drive around, and check out the neighborhoods they’re interested in.  Drive by the homes you are interested in seeing, look at the neighbors, yards, parks, cars, etc…  check out those things that are important to you.  Vancouver doesn’t really have a ‘good side’, or ‘bad side’…Clark county has a lot of ‘pocket neighborhoods’.  In a two mile radius you can have million dollar homes, new developments, ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods, and established ‘homey’ neighborhoods.  Clark County has something for everyone!   What are you looking for in a home/neighborhood?  What are your top 3 things you want (not counting price)?  As a realtor we can not ‘steer’ you towards, or away, from any neighborhood.  Our job is to help you find the best home we can, in your price range, that fits what you want.  As an agent, I will help you get all the information I can, or direct you to places that can help you get that information.  For example….census.gov is an excellent site to check out neighborhoods, and schools.  Check it out!  
   So…buyers due diligence….talk to neighbors, walk around the home, and neighborhood… and write down a list of questions.  Ask your inspector about these questions to check out.  Ask your real estate agent to help you find out some answers to these questions, or if they can’t find the answers, help you find some places where you can do some research or ask questions.  Your Realtor is here to help you!  Remember that your Realtor works FOR you.   Make sure you know what you are getting into….and any questions?  ASK!  …and keep asking until you get answers!   As always, if you have any questions, please call or email me…I am always here to help.  🙂  Remember…I am a real estate broker, and I look forward to helping you on your home buying adventure…and assisting you to get those keys.  😀  Whether you are buying, or selling your home, my goal is to be the real estate broker you think of.  I really want to help you with your first time, and every time.  I believe that real estate is about relationships…..and no…that is not a shameless plug!  LOL
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.  
 
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:
What happens AFTER the home inspection?
What do I need to buy a home,
What if I don’t have a Down Payment?
Pre-Approvals…what, why… and the importance of getting one
Debt to Income Ratios….What is this?
 
Last Week:  Home Inspections & seller disclosure
 
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.learningtobuyahome.com or 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).

 

 

       

Inspections & Seller Disclosures

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Saturday, September 7th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Monday, September 17th, from 5pm – 8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, Conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, September 21st, from 11am-2pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & 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!  😀
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Happy new school year!

  It’s that time again.. another school year has started, and kids are back at it…. and let’s be honest…parents are back at it as well.  I hope you have gotten the morning routine down…because we have not.  Today, Harley couldn’t find her shoes because (surprise!) she didn’t put them away in her shoe cubby.  I know..shocking.  Even more shocking is that I bet you they’re under the couch, or that her dog took them to her black hole of a bedroom because he puts stuff away better than she does!  Today, Harley wore tennis shoes that fit last week, but are now too small so now she needs new ones…. of course.  I procrastinated school clothes shopping because I would rather crawl into the crawlspace with an inspector than deal with that madness! 

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’, and ‘supposed to’.  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.  I am going to post a ‘lovely’ story of something that one of my clients is going through RIGHT NOW!  Oh heavens… it’s a hot mess.
So, what 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 the wet and rainy weather is coming and that this is a GREAT time for home inspections!  We get a lot of rain here so that type of Washington 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.  The septic inspection just checks the tank, and it’s ability to do its job.  It doesn’t test/check to pipes going from the home to the tank itself.  A sewer scope can help a lot here.  Yes, it is another charge, but it’s a safe one.

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 (are re-inspections important)?
What do I need to buy a home,
What if I don’t have a Down Payment?
Pre-Approvals…what, why… and the importance of getting one
Last Week:  Holy Price Reductions!  What’s up with that? 
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 Reductions! (home buyer/seller education)

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

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

Tuesday, August 20th, from 5pm – 8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, Conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, August 24th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & 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!
Sweet Summertime….  Sorry about the email/blog silence lately…  in June, Chris Berg and I started a radio ad on 102.3 & 620, and they needed some analytics from the running of that for awhile.  We didn’t want to mess it up with analytics from the email/blog.  It’s been so weird not sending this out for awhile though.  Always remember that if you ever have any questions you can always email, call, or text me anytime.  I am always here to help.  I also have all of these on the blog page at www.learningtobuyahome.com too.  You can also browse through those too.
Now… the Clark County Fair starts this Friday!   The fair runs from Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 11th.  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 summer, 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, as there is less competition 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 it is summer, and during that time of year there are additional childcare costs, getting ready for school 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 on an upcoming 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!  
  The home market really follows interest rates  Interest rates went up for a bit, and the market softened a bit.  Interest rates dropped again recently, and that has helped some buyers with the amount they’re pre-approved for.  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.  The market has been going up for quite awhile, but it’s not skyrocketing like it was.
  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.  We are also seeing sellers assisting with buyers closing
  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.  When that is coming is anyone’s guess though….   Please remember that your home is just that…your home.  While it is an investment…it’s an investment in your future.  Owning a home is a long term investment.
  Now for those of you who love this heat….  I am too fluffy, 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:
Rules to seeing homes (for Buyers & Sellers)
Contingencies, Rentback, and Pre-Possession (oh my!),
Buyers Due Diligence, 
&….
What happens after an offer is made?
 
Last Week:  What’s in a mortgage & ‘escrow’?


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.learningtobuyahome.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).

What’s in a mortgage payment, & what’s ‘escrow’?

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

Monday, June 17th, from 5pm – 8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, Conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, June 22nd, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & 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….
…www.learningtobuyahome.com for seller class schedule….
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy Sunday~
It’s supposed to be in the 90’s this week?  Blech….  I know that some people love the heat, but I may be too fluffy for the heat.  Thank goodness for Air Conditioning this week.  So, Chris and I get asked about closing costs all the time.  What are they?  How much are they?  What are they for?  How can you plan for them?
 Buying a home will be the largest purchase you ever make.  The only thing that will cost your more than buying a home is having a child.  🙂  Like a child, you have to take care of your home though, and there is more to home ownership than most people realize.
   Every month you pay bills, and your mortgage payment will most likely be your largest monthly expenditure, but what is it?  We will talk about how a mortgage payment works soon, but this week, let’s talk about the five parts of a mortgage payment.
Now…what is all in your payment?
   There are four parts to your mortgage payment…it is called a PITI payment.  What that means is Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.  For example, if my payment was $2000, my principal/interest portion would be about  $1300 a month, and the other $700 a month would be put into an escrow account.  Out of this account comes the homeowners insurance payment once a year, and property taxes are also paid from this account twice a year.  All of these fees are wrapped into the monthly mortgage payment.  Anytime you are using a FHA, or any government type of loan like RD (USDA), or the downpayment assistance programs & grants (like Home Advantage), these fees must be wrapped into the mortgage payment.   If you don’t have a 20% down payment (like 99.9% people), then your mortgage payment will actually have FIVE PARTS with the fifth part being Mortgage Insurance. Another insurance that ‘could’ come out of the escrow payment is flood insurance.  If you live in a flood plain (I used to), then you will be required to carry flood insurance.  Flood insurance would be wrapped up into your mortgage payment, and be deposited into your escrow payment for a payment once a year.
So what’s an escrow account?
Your escrow account, as mentioned above is the account that holds the money taken from your mortgage payment every month to pay for those parts of your mortgage that are NOT principal and interest.  Every year your mortgage company will evaluate your escrow account to be certain that they’re collecting enough to pay for these items.  As property taxes go up (or down) based on home value, your home owners insurance should also change to cover your homes value.  If your values are going up, then the amount you need in your escrow account will also need to increase.  You will receive a letter from your escrow account every year to update you whether you have enough in your payment to cover escrow, or if you have too much in your escrow account.  If you have too much in your escrow account then you might receive a check, and new payment amount.  If you don’t have enough forecasted in your account, then they will ask you to mail in a check to cover the difference, or your mortgage payment will be adjusted to cover the difference.
Mortgage Insurance vs Homeowners Insurance
 Mortgage insurance is different than home owners (sometimes called, Hazard) insurance.  In a nutshell, mortgage Insurance protects the lender in case you default on your loan, and homeowners insurance protects you & the lender in case something happens to the home….ie.. a fire, a tree falling on your home, a car driving into your home, burst pipes, etc.
Homeowners Insurance
   Now, please remember, you do choose your insurance company!  One of the things I suggest to clients is to contact their insurance company after they make their offer and to do a couple of things…(1) Has there been any water of fire claims in the past 3-5 years on this home?, and (2) How much would the insurance be for this home?  Average homeowners insurance is about $500-$700 a year….again, it is wrapped up into your monthly mortgage payment so it is NOT another extra expense.  You do get to choose your company, and many companies will give you discounts for ‘bundling’ your policies…like, home, car, life, etc.  It doesn’t hurt to call around for quotes.  Once you choose a company, you will want to request that your insurance agent send over an ‘insurance binder’ over to your lender.
Property Taxes
  Taxes are decided by the county, and are usually paid twice a year. You may get a copy of the tax bill, but again, it is paid by your mortgage company out of your escrow account.  I always get phone calls when these bills come out.  😀  No worries…it is just for your records, and I encourage your phone calls!!  🙂  Please remember that ‘Tax Assessed Value’ is NOT market value.  Property taxes are assessed every year, but based off of sales from a year to two years prior.
Principal & Interest
   Now…your principal and interest portion of your mortgage payment.  As we know a portion of your mortgage payment every month goes toward the principal amount that your borrowed to purchase your home, and a portion goes toward the interest that the lender is charging you.  In the beginning of your loan the smaller amount goes toward principal, and the larger portion goes toward interest…this eventually switches.  We all know the wisdom of making an additional payment every year on your mortgage to reduce your loan time.  Some banks will offer to take your payment in two week portions, and make your additional payment for you.  Honestly I don’t advise this…..before you think I am crazy, this is the reason why….the bank actually holds your money and makes your additional payment at the end of the year.  This isn’t the best way for you, really….  I always pay between $25-$100 extra on my mortgage every month depending upon our finances that month, but apply it directly towards my principal borrowed amount.  At the end of the year I have made that extra payment directly towards my principal, which is less money I can be charged interest on!  This will shorten my loan length considerably.  In the end I actually pay MORE on the principal amount than I would have if I had just made one extra payment.  My suggestion to all my clients is to take that $20 from each paycheck and put it into that credit union far away (with no debit card or checkbook for) that is for your home repairs that are needed as a homeowner.  If you just put at least $25 per month extra toward your principal loan amount you will also be shortening your loan time.  This sounds like a lot…but really is it?  It is a trip to McD’s (for my family anyhow as we have 2 adults, a third grader, and either my adult son, and/or my adult daughter and her husband, and baby.), or a couple of Dutch Brothers trips a month…but it will help you in the long run immensely.   I won’t lie… I love my Dutch Bros though.  🙂
   So there are the 5 parts of your mortgage payment…Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance…both Mortgage & Homeowners…..all tidily wrapped up into one payment every month..
  Yay!  I kept it shorter this week!  😀  It’s like going to the grocery store, and only coming out with the items you went in for….ok, who am I kidding…that never happens!
          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: 55 things not to do when buying a home.
                                  When is a pre-approval not a pre-approval?
Last Week:  Types of Realtors & Compensation…explained
 
 
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.learningtobuyahome.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).

Property Taxes (the elephant in the room)


Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
…we also have home seller classes available. Link on left on website page

Saturday, March 16th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
​ Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave).

Monday, February 18th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, March 30th, from 10am-1pm (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 Daylight Savings time aka National Napping Day~

After the nastiest of the last couple of weeks… what a gorgeous day!!! …and did you hear? It’s supposed to hit 60 degrees this week? It’s like a heat wave! WooHoo! Is it? Could it be? Spring may finally be coming…and I know we are all excited, right? Spring also means that we have a Client Appreciation event coming up. We will be hosting Avengers: Endgame the first Saturday of May…yes, a week after it opens, but we are still excited, right? If there is a different movie that you think we should host….we still have time to change it! 😀 Let me, or Chris Berg (chris.berg@cardinalfinancial.com) know. We are always open to suggestions.

Ok, now to be honest with you, this is NOT the email I was going to send out this week. There was some craziness that has been going on with social media the last week or so, and I wanted to talk about it…and I might send it out next week, but I am not sure that right now is the best time for it. I mean…it is always a good time to talk about protecting yourself and to talk about agency, but I think I need to have that blog read by an outside source to make certain it is clear and not just venting. You know what I mean… You spend time typing something up, and then read what you typed, and think, “oh crap…do I sound crazier than what I am talking about?” Yeah… I better make sure first.

So, instead we are going to talk about something else that has been all over facebook recently…. surprise… we are going off topic *gasp*. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room…Property Taxes (insert scare music here).

As you know from previous posts, a mortgage payment is one payment for you, but then it is broke down into payments within that payment. There’s your actual loan amount (principal) with interest. Your interest doesn’t change (unless you refinance), so this amount is always the same, but over the course of your home ownership you pay less on interest and more towards principal. Then there is the amount that goes into your ‘escrow’ account. From your escrow account is paid a couple of things… Insurances (mortgage, hazard, flood) and property taxes. Most folks have some mortgage insurance and this is the cost to secure the loan….it protects the lender. Your hazard insurance is another term for homeowners insurance. This is the insurance you carry to protect the property if something outside of your care, custody, and control were to happen to the home. It’s a lot like car insurance in that it is there to protect the asset from damage and to correct, or fix, that damage, and to bring the asset (in this case, the home) back to original (before the damage) condition. For example, if your home catches fire, you wouldn’t have the money to fix that damage, but with hazard/home insurance, you would be able to correct the fire damage with only the insurance deduction out of pocket. Flood insurance is only required if you are in a designated flood plain, and if you have it will be paid from the escrow account as well. Then there is the amount that goes toward paying your property taxes. The amount needed in your escrow account to pay these items can change, and as it does, your monthly mortgage payment will change too. Every year you will get a statement from your escrow account letting you know if you are paying enough into that escrow account. In a market upswing, where your home is increasing in value, is going to usually mean you will have a deficit in that account and you will either A) have to send an additional check for $XX amount to deposit into your escrow account and your mortgage payment will now be $XXXX.xx, or B) you can spread that amount over the next 12 months of mortgage payments and your mortgage payment will now be $XXXX.xx. I receive calls on this every year, and that is ok. I am always here to help!

Property tax payment dates are weird…. they’re due on April 1 (pay period from January 1 thru June 30), and again on October 1 (pay period from July 1 thru December 31). They can be paid in full on April 1, or split with 1/2 due on April 1, and half due on October 1. I’ve seen escrow statements with either option paid by the bank.
Remember that every year your escrow company will assess your escrow account to make sure you have enough in there, or if you have enough projected to come in via your monthly payments, to pay your insurances and taxes. If you have too much (in a declining market), you will receive a check with the option to mail it back and your payments become XX amount, or to keep the check and your payments will be XX amount….or… (and this is the case for the past couple of years now), it is projected by your escrow company that you will NOT have enough and you have one of two options … you can send a check to the escrow company and your payment will be XX, or you can increase your monthly payments to XXX to cover the difference. Yes, I know that I just repeated myself, but it bears repeating. Yes, your mortgage payment amount WILL change every year.

Every year the Clark County Assessors assess the value of the home for taxes. As your home value increases, so do your property taxes. One thing to note is that they will use information that is available based on sales average from a year or so ago for that area. This is not current information. Tax assessed value is not market value… I will repeat… TAX ASSESSED VALUE IS NOT MARKET VALUE. We are in an escalating market… (aka sellers market), and home values are still going up. This is why tax assessed value is not market value because the market is always moving and changing…ebbing and flowing… and your taxes are the same for that period.

“For every pro…there is a con, and for every con…there is a pro” (I will give a gift card to the person who can tell me what song that line is from) ….while this is a fun song from one of my favorite Disney movies (hint, hint) it is true nonetheless. As your market value increases, so do your property taxes, and as the market declines and values go down, so will your taxes. As your market value increases, so does the amount you need to insure your home against catastrophe and calamity, you might want to be prepared for that. This can also increase (or decrease) your monthly payment amount.

It really is a case of, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’…. everyone loves it when their home values go up, but no one likes it when their property taxes do. I get that. My property taxes went up a lot last year, and they will this year again as I added on to my home so now there is more to tax. It sucks… I get it. However, everyone hates it when they see their home values go down…but they like it when their taxes do. Taxes go down when home values go down, but we wouldn’t see that right away. Sigh…. can’t win for losing, right?

Be prepared though… as home values increased significantly again last year (2018), taxes will go up again next year. The higher values jump in a year… so do your property taxes. 2016 & 2017, we saw a sharp increase in home values. Home values did increase again in 2018, but not as much in percentage as they did the two previous years. As an industry we still expect to see an increase in home values this year, but again, not as much as a percentage as 2016/2017, and maybe not as much as last years either. As an industry, the thought is that the rising interest rates will help the market to ‘balance out’. Of course, as I’ve often said… my crystal ball is broken and the Magic 8 Ball often lies to me.

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

Remember that 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 more 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. After teaching these classes for 14 years, 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 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:
Delayed Possession… What is this & what does it mean to you
Interest Rates (information from Chris Berg,Cardinal Financial)
What do I need to buy a home,
Hiring a Realtor…questions to ask,
What if I don’t have a Down Payment? ….. &….
Debt to Income Ratios….What is this?

Last Week: Is Big Brother Watching? Well…maybe…

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).

Is Big Brother Watching? Well…maybe??

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:  
…we also have home seller classes available.  Link on left on website page
 
Saturday, February 16th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave

Tuesday, February 19th, from 5pm – 8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, Conference room
1009 E McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, March 2nd, 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….
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy Snow Day~

  SNOW!!  Just when you thought winter wasn’t coming, it decided to come with some friends….snow, ice, and cold.  I mean…it’s no polar vortex (yeah… I’m never moving out that area), but still…  I think February is pushing winter just a bit too far.  I remember, as a kid, we’d often get snow or ice in December, and January.  By the time we hit February, well, that is spring planning time.  This year, we were all talking smack about the weather, and how warm it’s been.. Winter must have heard us and realized that somehow, while putting the mid & east coasts on a deep freeze, he forgot all about us  Weatherfolk are talking about more snow/ice/cold tomorrow, and into early next week too?  Well, I guess there’s no help for it….. TIME TO RUSH THE STORES FOR SUPPLIES!  Oh wait… everyone already did that!  Sorry.. Portland is out of Kale.  I went to the store on Thursday night, and hit up Petsmart for cat food & litter too.  I can live without a lot of things over a potential weekend storm, but not being able to change the cat litter?  Yeah…  I can’t do that!    I guess that shows where my priorities lie, doesn’t it?  The cats must be taken care of first…

So, talking about people listening in…  I’m going to tell you a story that happened a couple of weeks ago….
I had listed one of my clients homes and marked it active on the RMLS.com on a Thursday morning.  After 3 days on the market we had 5 offers on the home.  As we are going over the offers, my clients were attaching the offers to the agents who showed the home.  Things like, “oh that offer was from that family with the 2 little kids that really loved the room colors” and “that offer was from that older couple”, and then we got to the 3rd offer and my clients look at each other and say, “oh…it was that agent…”  I asked what agent, and they told me how when the young female agent came in she ‘tossed’ her card on a table, and then talked disparagingly to her clients with snide remarks about their home, the listed price, the sellers agent (me), and was just (they felt) very disrespectful and rude, from the moment she walked in.  My clients point blank said, “we’re not accepting that offer”.  Ok….  well, it wasn’t the best offer we had, but even if had been… they did not want to accept the offer because of the attitude, and comments of that young female Realtor.  So …how did they know all of these things?

Our homes are BUGGED!  Well…not really, but kind of.  With the rise of xfinity, or Ring, or any other number of home surveillance gears, what you say, or do may not be as private as you think.  I have the Ring set up outside my home so that I can see folks coming up to my drive, or on my front step   I can hear everything they say, and talk to them as well.  I have clients who have ‘nanny-cams’ set up inside their homes.  I have clients with whole house set ups too.  This is becoming more common.  Yes, you are not supposed to be recorded without your knowledge or permission, but…  well, think of all the ‘porch pirates’ at Christmas time… they didn’t give permission, and don’t often know they are being recorded, do they?  Maybe porch pirates don’t care if they’re being recorded?  I don’t know…  but I am waiting for someone to get recorded taking someone’s package dressed as a real pirate.

When looking at homes, talk about the pros and cons and feeling of the home IN THE CAR.  Do not discuss the home, or the potential offer in front of the home, or inside the home.  Honestly not every home has an in-home video surveillance, but enough of them do that you do need to think about it.  The thing you may dislike about the home and can’t wait to change may very well be the one thing that they’re in love with and hearing you talk about changing it can make the sellers look dis-favorably on your offer.  In a multiple offer situation…anything can change the tide toward, or away from, your offer.

As a Realtor will we know whether or not the home has video in front, or inside?  Nope..  sometimes we can see it (I always look for a possible camera), but otherwise.. we won’t know.  It’s safer to assume that someone may be watching, or listening to you as you enter their home, and sometimes while you are inside the home.

I know I said it above, but I will again say it… do NOT talk about any potential offer, or what it might be inside the home.  Never say anything about the home, the Realtors involved, the list price (and/or whether or not you agree with the list price), or about the decoration while anywhere near or inside the home.  Save the discussion for inside the vehicle. Always better to be safe than sorry..

And speaking of ‘better to be safe than sorry’….  For the homeowners, there have been reports of potential buyers, and unfortunately, even Realtors doing things inappropriate inside homes for sale, taking things that don’t belong to them, or touching things that they shouldn’t be.  This is not the norm, and it is pretty rare, but it does happen.
A couple of examples…  years ago during an open house for a model home in a new community there was a gal who asked why the master bedroom was locked and why they couldn’t see it…  The gal I was working with looked at me with an ‘oh no’ expression as we realized that we hadn’t seen this one couple come back downstairs for about 15 minutes…  yep, you guessed why…  She knocked on the door and told them in a no-nonsense voice that cops had been called (she hadn’t).  A couple of minutes later a couple come out, and we had to cancel the rest of the open house while the housekeeper had to come in.  Ewwwww…..
Another open house… very early in my Realtor career, in an owner occupied home.  There was this one family who came in complete with dirty shoes and started to make themselves at home on the furniture, laying on the bed (sorry, those don’t stay), and worse, one kid was jumping on a bed (with dirty shoes), and another kid was in the other kids room playing with his legos (and breaking them).  If you know of a kid who plays with and puts together lego sets you KNOW how bad this was.  This was literally all in less than 5 minutes!  I was trying to deal with the parents, get them to take care of their kids (without making them mad), keep an eye on the front door as other people came in, and honestly… I was perplexed, befuddled, and overwhelmed…  luckily for me another older, more experienced agent came in with her client, and took command of the situation.  She pulled the ‘mom card/tone’ that I had been hesitant to use.  Yes, the parents were upset that she told them to get control of their kids and to remember that they were in someone else’s home, but she did teach me valuable lessons that day…. 1) I don’t do open houses in occupied homes. 2) If I have a client who really wants one, I always have 2 people there … for safety, and for one to keep an eye upstairs/bedrooms and one downstairs/living spaces, and most importantly 3) KEEP EVERYONE TOGETHER.  In real estate there is a different kind of respect needed… you have to respect yourself.  You have to have enough respect for yourself and your career to stand up to others who lack that respect for others property.  Sometimes you do have to be the ‘bad guy’ to enforce others to respect the homes that they are seeing, and the boundaries that are respectfully put there….and it’s ok.  Real estate is a lot like parenting… we can’t always be the ‘good guy’, and sometimes, well, we can’t please everyone.  That agent has since retired, and I’ve helped people buy/sell a LOT of homes since then.  So what happened after that?  Well, the agent who came in and put a stop to the neighbors (yes, they were NEIGHBORS!!!) shenanigans worked with the agent I was helping. The homeowners were really nice and were not surprised about the neighbors behavior…..as not shockingly, they were not friendly, and in fact, they were moving because of those neighbors.  They were surprised about the behavior of them during the open house though, and never thought about warning the Realtor that they might come to the open house.  I mean… why would they?  Who would’ve ever thought?  We had a housecleaner come in after the open house, and Troy got a new lego set as the neighbor little boy did destroy one of his dragons in the short time he was in there.  I was young, and new, and while neither is bad, in this case (as in many cases) age and experience is what saved the day.
Another story…  a Realtor down south was using ‘showings’ to meet with her … umm…  young boyfriend.  She couldn’t meet him at her house because…well, that is where her husband and kids lived.  Yep…and she got caught because someone had an in home surveillance system.  I bet that was a shock to everyone!
So, while yes, it sucks to think that someone might be watching you during a showing, you kind of have to understand where sellers are coming from anymore.  As Realtors we do everything we can do to protect our clients.. when representing a seller our job is multifaceted…  there’s sociology, psychology, marketing, pricing, niche marketing, and of course representing the seller to best of our experience and skills… and helping the seller to realize the best profit from their real estate investment.

 When working with a buyer, the Realtors duty is to protect the buyer to the best of the Realtors skills, experience, and education.  To help the buyer get the best home we can find them in their price range, to negotiate home inspection repairs, to walk them through the entire process, paperwork, to communicate every step so that the buyer understands and feels comfortable with the home buying process.  To help that buyer find and get keys to…not just a house, but a home.  A home is an investment in your future.  If you take care of it, it will take care of you.  We only hope our kids will take care of us someday…  😀

    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…
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.
  
Upcoming Topics:
Delayed Possession… What is this & what does it mean to you
Interest Rates (information from Chris Berg,Cardinal Financial)
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:  Costs & Fees of Buying a Home
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).

Fees and Costs of Buying a Home

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:  
…we also have home seller classes available.  Link on left on website page
 
Saturday, January 26th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & Gher Road/112th Ave).
Saturday, February 2nd, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Saturday, February 16th, from 12pm-3pm (ish)
​       Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & 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….
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy 2019~
  Now that we are 2 weeks into the new year we can start to get a ‘feel’ for what this year is going to bring us..right?  ….or not…  It’s definitely been a mild winter, so I guess we know that, right?  Let’s be honest though….there’s lots more winter to come, so it could change, and there’s still plenty of this year to go as well.
Last fall was pretty slow in the real estate world, and we saw plenty of price reductions.  This winter was also pretty slow as well….  have we reached the plateau?  Have we reached that ‘magic’ place where the crazy sellers market balances out? This spring will tell the tale…  Spring is typically the ‘busy time’ of the year as people get their income tax refunds back.  Tax refunds are used a lot for down payment & closing costs by buyers, so that is when the market gets crazy.  People who are selling their home, now that they have a buyer, go out and look for a new home for themselves.  Spring is crazy…  this year though?  Well, first we have to see if people will get refunds, and then…  well, the good news is that we are seeing a lot of new homes on the market. I have 3 that recently came on the market, and 2 more hitting by the end of the month.  I have spoken with a lot of my agent friends and they’re also getting a bunch of calls of people wanting to sell this spring.  So, now we wait to see what will happen with the tax refunds and, of course, interest rates. Interest rates follow the market…market goes down, and so does interest rates. Market goes up, and so does interest rates.  I certainly hoping that the market has reached that seller/buyer balance.  We saw that nice balance in 2014 & 2015.  Real estate typically runs on a 10 year cycle of highs and lows….with a couple of years balance in the middle. Don’t forget though that the only things in life that are consistent are death and taxes, so my crystal ball is not to be trusted.
   While showing homes, we go over lots of ‘little’ things that otherwise people don’t think about.  Some of these items are the ‘hidden’ costs of buying a home….those things that you weren’t planning on, but probably should be.    Not too long ago, I was on one of the facebook swap/free/sale sites, and I was reading how some people were upset with the home buying process and the ‘hidden’ fees they weren’t told about.  It is true that there are a LOT of fees and other expenses involved with buying a home.  The point of these blogs, and of course, the home buyer classes is to give folks this information.  There shouldn’t be anything ‘hidden’ about the home buying process.  As you know, I am a big fan of not sugarcoating anything….I believe that an ugly truth is better than a pretty lie every day of the week.  You might not always like what I have to say (and that is ok), but I am not going to hold anything back from you on the off chance you might not ask me to help you buy, or sell, your home.  Personally I don’t just want to hear about the ‘good’ things about a loan, or process….I want to hear it all…the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that I can make the best decision for me and my family based on the pros and the cons….not just the good.  So….yes, I am not going to just agree with what you read on the internet, or saw on HGTV, or heard from your direct and personal circle….I am going to give you the pros and cons because this is YOUR home buying (or selling) adventure, and YOU need to make the decisions.  My job is to help you find, and have, all the information I can get you so that you can make those choices based on a full picture….not just half of one.
   That all being said, let’s talk about the fees you can expect and some ones you might not.  I am not including down payment, or closing costs as part of this.  That will be an email in the upcoming week(s).  These are mainly fees associated with buying a home.  If you are thinking about selling a home, or know someone who is, there are some fees you need to be aware of as well.  I will post that on my facebook page at:  Tracie DeMars Real Estate, or you can contact me.  I am, as always, happy to help!
So what fees can you  expect?  There are three fees that will be needed upfront.
Earnest Money
….earnest money is typically about $1000- $3000, but the more expensive the home means the more earnest money you will need.   Some banks (& builders) can request 1%-3% of the purchase price for earnest money.  With a bank owned property the bank will want a cashiers check.  With a regular sale, a personal check is fine.  The earnest money is deliverable upon acceptance of the offer, and not when the offer is written.  The earnest money is always made out to the title company and is refundable based upon the 4 legal reasons to back out.
Inspection
…the inspection is ordered after the offer is accepted.  Remember that the inspection cost is approximately $400- $500, and is non-refundable. You, as the buyer, will hire the inspector and they work for you.  You have 10 calendar days to have the inspection done, and respond to the seller.  Don’t wait until the last minute!  Both you, as the buyer, and your buyers agent should be at the home inspection.  A typical inspection is about 2-3 hours long.  Make sure the fee includes the dry rot and pest report….  We talked about home inspections a couple of weeks/months ago, but let me know if you need it again….or… hit up the Facebook page:  Tracie DeMars Real Estate.  It should be there.
 Appraisal
…the appraisal is ordered by the lender, and the lender will put in the order for the appraisal.  An appraiser comes out to the home to verify the homes value for the bank.  The bank will only lend the dollar amount that the appraiser says the home is worth.  An average appraisal costs about $600 -/+ dollars, and is paid for by the buyer.  This is another non-refundable fee.  Neither you, nor your agent, will be present at the appraisal.  With the new laws that took effect a couple years ago, neither agent, nor anyone involved in the sale are supposed to have contact with the appraiser for fear we might ‘taint’ the appraisal, or affect the numbers.
If you are buying a home with a well then there may an additional fee for the well testing.  You don’t have to do that, but as a real estate agent, I would definitely advise you to do it.  Some other inspections that a buyer can have done (at their cost) are a sewer scope & a radon test.  A sewer scope is where they send a camera down the toilet to make sure the sewer lines are open, and a radon test is a company checks for radon levels in the home.  This is always a good idea if you are considering a home with a basement, daylight basement, or a split level home.  The radon test can take 3-5 days.  Again, these inspections are at a buyers expense.
These are the only fees a buyer should see before closing.  Being told another fee?  Call, text, or email me…
Other fees?
Changing out locks
…I always advise my clients to change out the locks of their new homes.  Why?  Well, even if the sellers give you all the keys they have…there is not guarantee that there isn’t more keys running around somewhere.  I used to change out my house locks every couple of years because my kids were always losing keys.  Finally….last year… I went and purchased the the house locks that have the key pad.  It is awesome!!  I don’t worry about lost keys anymore.  Every family member has a code, and what is the best is that I can add and delete codes as needed.  So…go away for a couple of days, and have a house sitter?  Give them a code,and when you get back you simply delete the code. I tell you….worth it!
Mailbox key
…yes, legally you are not supposed to copy the mailbox key, but a lot of people do.  Mail is not something you want to mess with.  Take your HUD form down to the post office, and have them re-key the box, and get a new key.  Cost is about $100, but for peace of mind…that isn’t much.  When you are changing out locks, talk with the locksmith… she/he may be able to help with this as well.
Paint
…you will probably want to paint some, or all, the rooms of your new home.  Each gallon of paint runs about $25.  Paint is the easiest thing you can do to make the home ‘yours’, and it’s fun!  Paint can change the entire feel of a room, or home.  Personally, I am a fan of semi-gloss.  I like the shine to it, and most importantly, it cleans up easy….with kids and big dogs, this is my go-to.
Minor repairs
…during the home inspection the inspector will probably point out repairs that the home may need.  Some of these repairs may be cosmetic repairs that will be part of your ‘honey-do list’  with your new home.  Remember that, at the home inspection, we are looking for any repairs that will affect the safety of the home, or occupants…or anything that may need a contractor to repair.  The ‘big’ areas that we usually see repairs for are roofs, attic spaces, crawlspaces, and siding.  These are the places that usually get called out during the repair process for a licensed contractor to come in  Remember that home inspectors are licensed for home inspections.  It is during this period that we will request a second opinion by a licensed contractor…who can give a better, more thorough inspection/repair for the item that the inspector called out.  All homes have some repairs that will need to be done by the (new) homeowner….it is part of being a homeowner.  Don’t forget that the worst thing a homeowner can do is to defer maintenance.  If you need help with that, give me a call or email… I always have a ‘guy’ that you can call for help.  Anytime you need work done around the home that you can’t do, give me a holler…I know people.   I tease, but it is true.  I know excellent contractors that will usually give you a better deal because I refer them out.  I refer them out because they do a good job…and give better deals.  Just like in Real Estate… referrals are the name of the game.  🙂
Lawn supplies
…did you come from an apartment?  Well, most likely now you have a yard.  You will need a lawnmower to start with.  There will be other lawn equipment that will follow…weed eaters, trimmers, wheel barrels, shovels, and a myriad other things that come with having a yard.
Appliances
…don’t forget that washer, dryer, and fridges don’t come with the home.  If you don’t already have these appliances then you may also be purchasing a washer, dryer, and/or a fridge. Just please, please, please wait until AFTER you get keys for the home before you go purchase these things.
Curtains/Blinds
…if your new home doesn’t already have some then this may be on your ‘to buy’ list.  Sometimes even if your home does have some, you may want new ones.  Honestly, I have had very good luck with curtains at places like Target, or Fred Meyer, or even Wal-Mart.  I think I’ve gotten all my curtains from Target.  They have blinds as well.
House Cleaner/Carpet Cleaner
…when a home is vacant you know exactly what you’re going to be walking into when your buyers agent (hopefully me LOL) gives you keys, but… when the home is owner occupied, you don’t.  Yes, you can and will do a walk thru of the home before closing, but it will still be occupied.  In many cases, when the home is owner occupied the (soon to be) previous owner doesn’t vacate the property until day of closing, or sometimes even a couple of days after closing.  With cases like this, you really don’t know what condition the home will be upon closing.  We have to have faith that the (soon to be) previous owner will leave the home in a clean condition, but sometimes…well, sometimes, they don’t.  Also, one persons idea of clean is not another persons idea of ‘clean’.  🙂  Many times, whether the home is vacant or owner occupied, a buyer will book a professional carpet cleaning, or house cleaning after closing….simply for peace of mind.
Insurance
…wait..you already have insurance, don’t you?  Well…yes, you have mortgage insurance, title insurance, and homeowners insurance, but what about earthquake insurance?  You don’t…
When I purchased my home my homeowners insurance included earthquake insurance.  About 10 years ago though we received a letter that no longer would homeowners insurance include earthquake insurance….why?  Because we live in the #1 high danger area for earthquakes.  Because of that earthquake insurance must now be purchased separately.  So, AFTER you buy your home, call your insurance company and add on earthquake insurance.  Cost isn’t too much, but it is important….just in case.
Toilet Seats
  Yeah, I know you probably didn’t think of that, but really….if it were me, I would change out the toilet seats when you buy your new home.  Why? Well, since now you are thinking about it….I’m sure you can see why.  LOL  Toilet seats are not expensive, and really…having new seats just makes you feel better!  😀 
 
    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…
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.
  
Upcoming Topics:
Delayed Possession… What is this & what does it mean to you
Interest Rates (information from Chris Berg,Cardinal Financial)
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:  Winter Time & Buying (or not) Buying a Home
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

“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).

Winter Time & Buying (or not Buying) a Home

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:  
…we also have home seller classes available.  Link on left on website page

Saturday, January 5th, from 9am-12pm (ish)

      Marshall Community Center, conference room

      1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Thursday, January 17th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
       Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
Saturday, January 26th, from 11am-2pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA, conference room
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR500 & 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….
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
~~~~~~~~~
Happy New Year!
 Welcome to the ‘lost time’… when I was a little girl I really thought this time of year was time in limbo.  We had Christmas, and then time kind of stopped and floated…then BAM! …  it was New Years Day, and time started again. I know it sounds silly, but that is the way it really felt to me , and kind of still does.  There is all this build up to Christmas, and then time kind of ‘floats’ to New Years Day.  This is the time for reflection maybe?  I love the holidays… November, December…those are my absolute favorite months of the year.  I love the cold, wet weather.. I love the darkness… and I love that my husband has time off to be home, and winter vacation for the youngest.  I love having all my family together.  This time of year I love to snuggle down on the couch with some tea, and a fire, and some good movies on the TV….with some crochet to occupy myself with too.  LOL
Let’s be honest though… this is also the time of year for reflection….and this year was maybe one of our hardest as we had a very difficult loss this summer in my family, and then just this past week, a very loved friend of mine that Ive known for 30 years… he passed. This Christmas my son decided to spend both christmas eve, and christmas day with his girlfriends family, and I didn’t like that at all.  Like every year there is good, and bad… but this year the losses seemed to be overwhelming for so many. However, it wasn’t all bad…. we had some wonderful family vacations, we had some AMAZING client appreciation events, and I was blessed to assist 54 people with the home buying & home selling adventures. 54 sets of keys exchanged as some folks sold their homes and moved to their next adventures, and some folks got keys for their first home (and you never forget your first), and some folks got the keys for their next home to carry them to their next adventures. Man, it has been a mixed bag year for certain….
Here’s to 2019!  Here’s to helping you, and yours with your home buying … or selling… adventures.  Here’s to the Clark County Fair in August, the Home & Garden Show at the end of April, and the Client Appreciation events (Infinity War: End Game, the new Star Wars and another one that we are still deciding on. Here’s to birthdays, anniversaries, house-iversarys, and get-togethers with the ones we love.  Here’s to house warming parties, and that final walk through on the home you’re leaving.  Here’s to the joy you feel when you get keys to the home that is YOURS, and no one else’s.  Here’s to love, friendship, joy, and happiness.  Here’s to memories, and 365 days of new adventures.  We got this!
 So, this week, let’s talk about the current market for a quick moment…..I know that it’s winter, and it’s the after holidays, but honestly, if you are even ‘thinking’ about buying a home….NOW is the best time.  Yes, there are not a whole lot of homes on the market, but the market is not as competitive as it is during the spring time.  Remember that from offer to keys it will take about 6-7 weeks.  The market tends to pick up and start getting crazy again right about March-April when folks start getting their tax refunds.  

So lately I’ve had a few clients lately asking me where all the homes are.  Well, it’s the holidays…  and many folks will wait until after the new year to put their home on the market…new year, and fresh start.  I know of a few homes getting ready to go on the market within the next month.  If you’re thinking about buying ….January through March is a great time to be out there.  We are in that tail end of the best time of year to be a buyer  🙂

Now…please remember that my magic wand is broken, and the magic 8 ball exploded all over my house with the holidays… so no one really knows what is going to happen.  However, most people in the real estate industry agrees that in 2019 we will see interest rates continue to go up. This is a very solid bet.  It’s a split decision with industry sources on when prices should plateau off.  With Seattle and the Portland area being 2 of the top markets in the United States, it really depends on how soon we will see more homes on the market.  This is a lot like foretelling the weather right now… as it really depends on when things happen.  Most industry sources do say that home prices should start plateauing though.  This doesn’t mean that the home prices will not go up…they just shouldn’t go up like last year.  They should steady out. As people see the change in the market coming, more homeowners should put the home on the market so they can begin their move to their new home, and this will help all the price ranges see more homes on the market…which should help with the multiple offers that we saw so much of during the spring of 2018. I’ll be honest here… the last couple were awful for multiple offers. This past summer, and fall were not as bad, and this winter has been quite a bit different than the past couple of years winters. This is usually a beginning sign that we have reached that plateau… but this spring and summer will tell the tale.

  So yes, prices are still going up, but let’s talk about how all that works.  I bought my old home in late 2001, with a 6.875% interest rate….don’t feel bad, or shocked….in a ‘healthy’ market, a ‘normal’ interest rate would be about 7%.  We were THRILLED to be under 7%!   We sold that home in 2017, and it was harder than I thought it would be.  It was our first home, and we had lived there for 16 years.  It was the craziest thing, but did you know that when our buyers purchased our home for the $285,000 it was worth, with the 4% interest rate…. our mortgages were almost THE SAME!   Wait…I’m not (that) crazy…it’s economics.  Yes, they bought it for more than I owed, but with a much lower interest rate.   That equaled my lower owed amount, but higher interest rate. How crazy is that???  Now, here’s the crazy part… in 2016, my old house was only worth about $245,000, and right now, that same home is worth $325,000! NUTS!!!  My mother purchased a home in the 80’s for $70,000, but her interest rate was 18.375%!!!   ….now that is crazy!!    The point of this is that while yes, prices are going up, the interest rates are still really low, so you can purchase more home.   When this changes, and interest rates rise it doesn’t mean that home prices will immediately start dropping, they should start leveling off …it will take a bit of time to balance out though.
 
   I have clients asking me if they should just settle then on a home, and frankly this is a tough question.   No, you shouldn’t ‘just settle’ on a home, but you may have to adjust either the type of home you want, the location, or be able to go up in purchase price to get what you want.  Please remember that this most likely is not your last home, but your home for the next 5-10 years….that’s the average.  Know what your top 3 things are that you need in a home.  Whether you are buying a home, or selling a home…it is exciting, scary, fun, and frustrating.  It’s a lot like a roller coaster, or driving down Mill Plain during rush hour,….or during that last month of pregnancy. I tell you….there’s a reason I don’t drink often…..I’m afraid once I start that I won’t stop!  ;-D  (just kidding)  Buying and/or selling a home always going to be a a roller coaster when you’re on the ride.  We’re here though to help…that’s what we do. 
 
  When you are looking for a home,  you need to consider more than just the house.  You are also buying the neighborhood, the schools, the property taxes, the local parks, the neighbors, and the local infrastructure.  The home needs to ‘fit’ you like your favorite pair of pj’s. For example….this last weekend I had a client look at a home that she liked.  On paper it was everything she said she wanted, and she couldn’t find anything against the house that would cause her to not want to write an offer. So why was she hesitant?  Because this home was that sweater or shirt that looks good on the rack, and so you try it on.  It fits ok, and it looks all right, but there is just ‘something’ that is ‘off’ with it…..you can’t figure it out either.  Sometimes you buy it, but never wear it, and sometimes you put it back.  Buying the ‘right’ home is a lot like that.  You can, and will, see homes you like, but they just don’t ‘fit’.  Put that home back.  Sometimes you see an item of clothing on the rack that you really don’t know about….but you try it on anyway and BAM!  you look AMAZING!  Some homes don’t look like much from the outside, but you get inside and they are amazing.  Remember that internet home photos are a lot like internet dating….you never know what you are going to see when you get there, and many agents hire professional photographers for a reason.  I can always tell which photos an agent did themselves, and who hired someone.   Finding the ‘right’ home is like sliding into your favorite jeans, or boots…..there is just something about it that ‘fits’.  I see homes I ‘like’ all the time, but just because I like it doesn’t mean it fits.  If you are obsessed with a home that you have seen though.   You really like the home, and you keep going back to the pictures, and driving by the house…..that’s the ‘right’ home….even if it was one of the first homes you saw, or it was something you didn’t think you wanted, or weren’t sure about.  That home is that sweater/shirt/shoes that you just weren’t sure about….until you tried it on.  Darling, you look AMAZING!   Trust your instincts….this is YOUR home, and YOUR mortgage.    With rents going up so much lately you can buy for about what your renting…or close to it. 
 

   What is the best time to buy, or sell?  Whenever YOU are ready.  Sometimes waiting makes sense, and sometimes it really doesn’t.  I am a firm believer that the right home will always be ready when you are, and that it will all fall into place.  Remember….your agent works for you.   YOUR agent isn’t a salesperson.  We shouldn’t be trying to ‘sell’ you on anything.  YOUR agent works for YOU….not the other way around.  When you hire an agent you are hiring a representative; someone who should be looking out for your best interests. Always ask questions. We do this all the time, and we love it, so use our knowledge to your advantage.  There really is NO stupid question in real estate. There is always learning opportunities, and that is goes for us as well.   If i can’t answer your question; I will help you find someone who can.  We’re in this together.

 

Don’t forget though… that the first step in ANY adventure is education. Take a home buyer class, or a home seller class….that’s what they’re there for.  
 
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:  Winter time home maintenance and things to look for
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).

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).