Friday, June 24, 2016

Loan Locked?

Rates are really low again and this recent vote in the UK to leave the EU nick named "Brexit" could keep them down a little longer. Check with your loan officer about rates. Maybe stepping up efforts to find a home sooner rather than later makes sense. Getting a 3.5% 30 year loan will keep you smiling for decades.

Many buyers are frustrated with tight inventory and an inability to find the "perfect house". Perfect only exists in theory, rarely in practice if ever. But having the moon and stars alignment of a 3.5% rate is rare enough that this should prod buyers into getting a house. the fact that prices continue to march ever skyward should also light a fire under the feet of buyers as well.

A house is just concrete, wood, and glass. A home is what we make it. Go out and get a house, then make it your home. Every month when you make that payment at 3.5% you can laugh all the way to the proverbial bank.

All too many buyers miss the opportunity to buy and the window is closing for many buyers whose income isn't climbing as fast as these home prices. There has been a slight improvement in  inventory so now could be a golden moment in the home buying decision process.

For those buyers in the Portland Metro Area, this weekend is shaping up to be a gorgeous two days of 80s. That's good houses hunting weather me thinks.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Moving this Summer?

Summer is here again and many people find themselves moving. Three years ago I found some helpful tips from the NAR and posted them. I figured a repost was in order.

Originally posted here, June 28th, 2013

Summertime is here and many people find themselves engaged in buying or selling a house. This is the busiest time of year for most of the real estate industry. Interest rates are on the rise as I indicated last week (see article). Buyers are jumping in to the market and that means people are moving.  If you are moving this year here are some helpful tips from the National Association of Realtors ®

17 Tips for Packing Like a Pro
Moving to a new home can be stressful, to say the least. Make it easy on yourself by planning far in advance and making sure you’ve covered all the bases.
  1. Plan ahead by organizing and budgeting. Develop a master “to do” list so you won’t forget something critical on moving day, and create an estimate of moving costs. (A moving calculator is available at
  2. Sort and get rid of things you no longer want or need. Have a garage sale, donate to a charity, or recycle.
  3. But don’t throw out everything. If your inclination is to just toss it, you're probably right. However, it's possible to go overboard in the heat of the moment. Ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you’d feel if you no longer had it. That will eliminate regrets after the move.
  4. Pack similar items together. Put toys with toys, kitchen utensils with kitchen utensils. It will make your life easier when it's time to unpack.
  5. Decide what, if anything, you plan to move on your own. Precious items such as family photos, valuable breakables, or must-haves during the move should probably stay with you. Don't forget to keep a "necessities" bag with tissues, snacks, and other items you'll need that day.
  6. Remember, most movers won’t take plants. If you don't want to leave them behind, you should plan on moving them yourself.
  7. Use the right box for the item. Loose items are prone to breakage.
  8. Put heavy items in small boxes so they’re easier to lift. Keep the weight of each box under 50 pounds, if possible.
  9. Don’t over-pack boxes. It increases the likelihood that items inside the box will break.
  10. Wrap every fragile item separately and pad bottom and sides of boxes. If necessary, purchase bubble-wrap or other packing materials from moving stores.
  11. Label every box on all sides. You never know how they’ll be stacked and you don’t want to have to move other boxes aside to find out what’s there.
  12. Use color-coded labels to indicate which room each item should go in. Color-code a floor plan for your new house to help movers.
  13. Keep your moving documents together in a file. Include important phone numbers, driver’s name, and moving van number. Also keep your address book handy.
  14. Print out a map and directions for movers. Make several copies, and highlight the route. Include your cell phone number on the map. You don’t want movers to get lost! Also make copies for friends or family who are lending a hand on moving day.
  15. Back up your computer files before moving your computer. Keep the backup in a safe place, preferably at an off-site location.
  16. Inspect each box and all furniture for damage as soon as it arrives.
  17. Make arrangements for small children and pets. Moving can be stressful and emotional. Kids can help organize their things and pack boxes ahead of time, but, if possible, it might be best to spare them from the moving-day madness.
Good luck this summer and enjoy the weather and your new home.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Market Report

Spring is coming to a close and the hot summer rapidly approaches. The temperatures are not the only thing heating up. The final numbers for the month of May, showed more than 700 residential units sold. With inventory tight, buyers are engaged in a battle to get to first position.

The Clark County median is sitting right at $300k up about 8% over last May according to data collected by the RMLS. Some are surprised that it is not double digit growth year over year, but that is just a sign that the market's ability to pay is becoming tapped out. With the median household income in Clark County sitting at roughly $60k annually, that means the median purchasing power is limited to about $1800 per month. $1800 a month equates to about a $275,000 purchase price. These are rough numbers and there are many variables, but in general when the median price of a house exceeds the median purchasing power, the prices tend to level out or stabilize a bit.

Demand is still high enough to offer a rapid sales opportunity for sellers, but the market has begun to show real reluctance to look at overpriced listings. Last year and up until about six months ago overpriced listings were still being courted as buyers were willing and able to pay. Now the ceiling for our market has been breached and that will cause a stabilization in the upward pricing particularly under $350k. Sellers will have to bring a reasonable price to market if they want a fast sale and the bidding up is slowing a bit as buyers are leery of low appraisals.

The middle and top of the market may continue to see some growth as the bottom has been feeding a healthy volume of buyers that took profits on a smaller house and are looking to move up. Even though sales are robust and pricing is softening a little bit, the entry level market remains ultra tight at least partly due to the reality that many of the sellers in the middle and upper part of the market are retiring Baby Boomers looking for the classic downsize. These Boomers are competing with the entry level buyers and they are often coming with big down payments of even all cash offers. This makes it challenging for first time buyers.

I hear a great deal of chatter among the community centered around a fear of another bubble. Although the prices have been accelerating rapidly since 2012, the rapid growth is not as robust as it was in the middle 2000's when 15-18% year over year gains were happening. Furthermore, the shady and dangerous lending activities that were going on prior to 2009's crash are no longer happening either. The real estate market does ebb and flow economically like many other commodities, and there is no short term guarantee that prices will continue to appreciate. There is however reason to believe that an event anywhere near the magnitude of the last market correction, is highly unlikely.

I believe that market conditions locally will continue to show modest appreciation gains but likely less than 5% growth in values over the next 12 months. Trends are what they are however, significant positive or negative economic shifts can knock these types of predictions over in a heartbeat. For buyers worried about buying at the top of the market, I say this: rents are high and many people can still buy the same house they are currently renting for less per month. Unless one is a mobile person that moves allot, buying still makes way more sense than renting in this market.

For sellers wondering what their home is really worth right now, contact your trusted real estate pro and have him or her conduct a Comparative Market Analysis. If you don't have a local pro, fee free to reach out to me and I can give you a detailed analysis at no cost to you.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Buyers Need to be READY!

Buyers are facing the dilemma of missing out on houses. The Realtor® sends them a prospective listing, they look it over and call back in the morning only to find out it already went pending! When they finally get inside a home and make an offer they often get outbid. It can be frustrating. This market is so hot right now our local MLS now offers hourly email updates for us Realtors® to send out automatically informing our clients the moment a new listing meeting their criteria hits the system!

Buyers have to suck it up if they want a shot at their dream house because this market is most unforgiving to the lackadaisical buyer. According to the local MLS roughly 650 residential properties closed in May (some may not have been updated yet) and of those 314 were on the market less than 10 days.

Waiting for the weekend, may not always be the best option. Buyers should also be ready for sellers that are not very responsive. I have wrote about this foolish phenomenon but it is happening. Some sellers have gotten cocky. They only hurt themselves, but none the less buyers need to persevere to get the home they want. Heck, perseverance is needed to get any home right now.

Worry not buyers, inventory will start to come back and things will settle down, buy in the mean time be ready to pounce and ask your Realtor® about hourly updates :)