Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

Some time next month I'll post the numbers for the 2016 local real estate market. It was a solid year by all accounts and I am optimistic about 2017 as well. As a Realtor®, I often find myself encouraging first time home buyers when the market looks like it is making a shift that could impede entry level buyers. It is hard not to come off as a "salesman" trying to "sell" a house but the reality is that entry level buyers with limited resources are the first to be eliminated from the 'dream' when conditions for buyers deteriorate.

What most people consider a great housing market is often not great at all for new buyers to get in. Sure existing homeowners love it that the house they bought 5 years ago is now worth 60% more money, Woo-Hoo! But how many of us have had a 60% increase in wages over that time? Few, my friends, few. The 40k annual salary could buy a nice house in 2012, but today it is 'slim-pickins'.

The latest issue that will effect entry-level home buyers in 2017 is rising interest rates. We already have seen a significant bump up this month, and analysts are pretty much in consensus that the trend for 2017 will continue with a slow rise in mortgage rates. I have mentioned time and time again in this blog that rates are the more deadly virus than rising prices. For renters hoping to grab a slice of the housing pie, your New Year's resolution is clear. It is time to make the move.

Happy New year and warmest wishes for health and prosperity in 2017.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nationwide Housing Numbers a Nice Gift

It was a very Merry Christmas for those of us in the housing industry from builders, to Realtors® as the nationwide housing numbers came in this week and they looked fabulous. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and let's all have a Happy New year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Holidays!

The real estate market is looking good and poised for moderate but healthy growth. Interest rates will likely continue this upward nudging, so buyers need to bear in mind that higher interest rates are often more deadly than a slightly higher purchase price.

Stay warm, don't slip on the ice, and by all means have a wonderful, safe, and joyous holiday season.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Housing Remains Steady and Strong in Clark County

The data from the local MLS shows that sale of existing and new housing remain locally strong. Inventory is not as tight as it was in the spring but conditions still favor sellers in most price ranges. 2017 may see a slight slowdown in activity, but I believe the many analysts that have suggested moderate growth will persist and healthy conditions should continue into the next year.

One thing that remains a bit of an enigma are those potentially volatile interest rates. Rates have remained at or near the record lows despite the federal government relaxing their position. The stock market is seeing tremendous growth and the interest rate bubble may pop unleashing higher rates over the next few years. This is not necessarily a bad thing as lenders and investors may loosen their underwriting grip when the rates they can charge are higher and thus more profitable.

Historically any rate under 6% is very good. We haven't seen 6% in years. Buyers or existing homeowners should consider making their next purchase or refinance very soon as rates have begun to sneak back up. As long as the equity investment market is booming their is a natural economic pressure on interest rates.

Over the last few months sales of new and existing homes in Clark County have been in or around 600 units. This is a strong healthy condition that should continue into the new year.    

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas at the Coast

Not everyone wants a White Christmas. Really? Yes it's true, some people don't like snow! Well here in the mighty Pacific Northwest, it is safe to say the least likely location for snow on Christmas or any other day, is the beach. The beach rarely gets snow.

Many people enjoy staying along the coast during the winter to watch the storms roll in off the ocean, listen to the heavy surf crashing on the beach, and enjoy the majesty and power of the world's largest ocean.

You can see the 2016 events calendar to the left wrapping up this month. The coast is generally quite a bit warmer in the winter time than in the Portland Metro area as the maritime influence is quite strong. Although the Pacific Ocean gets dangerously cold during the winter months with sea temperatures falling into the low to mid 40s, it still acts as a warming influence against the cold air masses that flow into the region. The Portland Metro has much less of a connection to the tempering ocean and so it can be 20 degrees here whilst the coast is enjoying 40s.

I don't want to overstep this my friends; if you are looking for a warm and sunny Christmas, this is not for you. For that you'll need to head south...way south ;) But the shoreline can be such a beautiful place, even in the winter and the power of natural forces can be hypnotic. It will likely be windy and chilly, but the coast can be truly awe inspiring at the holidays.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Homeowners and Taxes: talk to a pro!

I wrote the attached article nearly three years ago but it still carries the same weight today. If you bought your first home this year, you need to get so tax advice.

Originally posted December 20th, 2013 by Rod Sager

Did you buy a house this year?

Well, did you? If so, you really ought to consider talking to a CPA or a trusted tax professional. This is especially true if you bought your very first home. Our federal tax system is complicated and has both positive loopholes and negative traps. Buying a home is often beneficial to your bottom line on taxes. A tax professional can help you organize your deductions and clarify what you can and cannot "write off".

Prior to owning a home most people do not have enough deductions to justify using the 1040 long form. But once mortgage interest is added to the mix it is quite common to have every reason to itemize deductions. Now all those legitimate deductions you have always had can actually be utilized to save money on taxes. This is why it is so important to see a professional tax advisor.

Trying to itemize deductions on your own can be a very daunting task. Not only is it time consuming, but it is very easy to take a deduction that is not a legal deduction. In an audit, you may get into the proverbial hot water. It may cost anywhere from a hundred to a few hundred dollars to have a professional prepare your taxes, but it is well worth it in my opinion. Even if you are good at accounting and feel comfortable preparing your own taxes, I still think it is sound advice to at least have your taxes prepared occasionally by a seasoned tax professional. A significant change in tax, income or deductions status is a great time to utilize a tax preparer.

The federal government is going to waste your money anyway, so you might as well pay them ONLY what you really owe, right? OK, I know that the government has many viable and necessary expenditures, my tongue was inserted in the cheek on that last comment. But none the less, why pay more than you are required? If you want to give away money, give it to a local charity and help someone who is down and out. Or send me a check...tongue in cheek but less firmly on that one.

I hope everyone has had a spectacular year, I know I did and I am looking forward to an even better 2014. Happy Holidays to all of you. They will be a little merrier if you save money on your taxes this year.