Friday, September 29, 2017

Autumn is Good!

Autumn is good for real estate. Sellers can capitalize on summer buyers that are ready to pull the proverbial trigger after failing to find something during the busy summer. Buyers, likewise can tap into the sellers that didn't get their home sold done during the hot months, and are now ready to make a deal.

Many sellers are anxious to avoid having their home listed during the holidays and often buyers are leery of trekking out into the cold to look at homes. Autumn is cool and crisp and prime for making a real estate deal that keeps both parties feeling accomplished and successful.

Market trends show that demand has remained steady and inventory has inched up slightly. There hasn't been a real shift in the market just a bit of settling in. We have very healthy and sustainable conditions throughout most of our local market save for a couple of lingering hot spots. I mention a while back the Beaverton, Oregon remains spicy with well priced homes getting snatched up right away often with multiple offers.

Closer to home here in Clark County the median price for a home is snuggled in just above $300,000 and that is manageable for the median household in the region if not a bit challenging for those carrying extra debt, like auto loans and such.

Since I mentioned debt, buyers that are struggling with the higher prices should use credit sparingly. Lenders will measure the amount of income a borrower has against two primary debt metrics. First their is the housing ration. This is a amount of the borrower's total income is going to be used to make the new loan payment. Depending on the loan type and the down payment amount this should not exceed 28% but sometimes can be a fair bit higher. The other metric is the total debt to income and this takes into account all debts such as credit cards, auto loans, etc plus the proposed new mortgage. Generally the standard has been 36% max, but many government backed program will allow that to stretch up as high as 50%.

A good credit score goes a very long way when debt to income ratios starting pushing the boundaries. Buyers should avoid having a lot of debt and should also avoid having too many open to buy accounts as well. I have read many reports that two trade lines on revolving credit is probably all one should have. Check with your trusted lender to get more information on these lending guidelines.
Most people need to borrow money to purchase a house so being well informed and executing a quality credit plan will help get a house or get a better house.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Views on the stingy dime...

I wrote a blog post earlier this week about Vancouver's "secret" view neighborhoods. Although secret may be a little 'strong' there are many places in America's Vancouver that offer pretty solid views with homes that are rather modest in design and price. Most often view property in Clark County, Washington is found in places like Prune Hill in Camas, or along the Evergreen Highway. These neighborhoods have large luxury homes with price tags that make tech tycoons blush.

But there are several spots in the area where small homes from the 1940s and 50s were built in the Heights and many offer excellent views, particularly when the view is facing north as it does in Harney Heights.

Here is that aforementioned blog post:

Originally posted on September 19th, 2017 on 'Enjoy the View' by Rod Sager 

Vancouver's Secret View Neighborhood

Photo from RMLS, sold home 2015 
A secret view society in the 'Couv', really? No not really, but there are a few places in Vancouver that are simply not noted for having views, but yet have great views. One of these "secret" neighborhoods is Harney Heights.

The broad area referred to as the "Heights" actually is composed of many neighborhoods including, South Cliff, Dubois Park, Evergreen Highlands, Northcrest, and several others as you move east towards Cascade Park. South Cliff and Dubois are rather spendy areas and many of the homes in that area feature spectacular views of the Columbia River and city lights. But Harney Heights is much less pretentious and the homes on the bluff are very reasonably priced when the view is taken into consideration.

Harney Heights is at the west end of the "Heights" area and is immediately east of Vancouver's Central Park area. Most of the homes in Harney heights are WWII and mid century designs. They are mostly modest homes and the vast majority do not feature a view. But all of the homes along the bluff that overlooks Fourth Plain Village have a nice view to the North and many offer a surprisingly breathtaking view of the Mighty Mount Saint Helens. These homes are only about 100 feet higher than the valley floor but the bluff is very steep and it is enough to see over the top of most of the trees in the area.

The result is a pretty nice view of the Cascades including our favorite angry volcano and the surrounding terrain. Of course the night time view will feature all the city lights from the scores of neighborhoods in Northeast Vancouver.

These homes are not terribly expensive. They are generally smaller homes with less than 1600 square feet and many are classic bungalows. The ones with views like the photo will of course fetch a premium, they are still rather affordable many with prices in the $300k range.

Whether you are on the south side of the Heights or taking advantage of deals to north, enjoy the view.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Relaxing conditions, but not everwhere.

The red hot sizzling Portland Metro Real Estate market is showing a definitive relaxation as values have skyrocketed and buyers are starting to thin a little as they are priced out. But not all areas in our beautiful metro area have cooled their jets. Beaverton is still pretty crazy with values continuing to inch up and seemingly no shortage of buyers. Little ramblers from the 1960s and 70s that feature less than 1000 square feet in many cases are commanding middle 300s on price and that is pretty steep for entry level buyers.

More locally here in Clark County as I wrote last week, the craziness has for the most part subsided, but we are still experiencing increasing prices and buyers should not get too complacent. Sellers are a little easier to work with and that is refreshing. But buyers still need to act quickly when they find a house they really like.

Buyers should always remember that a well priced home will sell quickly, possibly with multiple offers. There are however those overpriced units I have referenced over the last few months and the market here in greater Vancouver is no longer supporting egregious overpricing. These are sellers that buyers can 'beat up' a bit. If a buyer is seeking some help with closing costs or just needs a sharper price, the overpriced house may be had for less. The seller may have it sit for a few weeks before considering a lower offer but at some point they will have to come to the market. The strategy of having the market come to them is waning as values are not increasing in annualized double digits any more. Buyers are well advised to have their agent run the numbers on homes that may be overpriced and make an offer accordingly.

I like this moderate, more healthy market. I think people on both sides of a real estate transaction make better decisions when neither side has a clear market advantage. I still feel that this Clark County, WA market in the sub-400k range favors sellers a bit, above 400k is pretty neutral.

Overall the real estate market is excellent.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Market Feels a Touch Softer

The market continues to produce a surplus of buyers but sellers seem to be a little more abundant as well. This is a much needed counter balance to the heavy seller's market conditions we saw just six months ago. The MLS is reporting very steady conditions and sales have been flat. Not flat in a bad way but rather just not accelerating like they have been the last few years. This is a healthy market. Buyers have a bit more room to work as more properties are available and multiple offers are not quite as aggressive.

Well priced homes will still get a swarm of offers but homes overpriced will sit a while. Clark County is cranking out around 800 sales a month and that is nothing to sneeze at. Listings are starting to come in and buyers can now actually be a little more selective. It is a still a solid seller's market so buyers shouldn't get too cocky. A nice clean offer is probably the best approach. Don't burden the seller with a complicated purchase and sale agreement. Simple rules the day.

This is a great market we have here and I look forward to a continued steady sales trend that is sustainable over the long haul.  

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day is Here.

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Locally the mercury won't notice as we are expecting some very warm temperatures this weekend. As for real estate, this marks the end of the summer seasonal peak for home activity and that means buyers that have been struggling to find a suitable property in their price range may get a little relief.

No we are not going to suddenly plunge into a buyer's market, but it is moving from a strong seller's market to a weak seller's market and that bodes well for frustrated buyers. The back to school time also tends to put some buyers in a holding pattern. Those buyers will to stay in the hunt may find substantially reduced competition from other buyers and sellers that may be willing to work on price or concessions that a few months ago were nigh impossible to negotiate.

Buck up buyers, this could be your moment. Enjoy the holiday weekend, stay cool, and don't give up, there is a home out there.