Home Buying Do’s & Don’ts

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Home buying do’s and don’ts for your loan process!

You’ve found your home, your stellar agent got your offer accepted, now let’s be careful to keep your loan on track!  Here are the top three things to do and NOT to do at this stage of the game.

Do’s:

-Promptly respond to all lender requests, this is an ongoing process and until you have keys in hand there will be ongoing lender needs.  Don’t slow your escrow. Stay on top of it.

-Contact your insurance agent of choice early in the process and let them know about your new purchase and arrange for insurance on your new home.

-Continue to make all payments on time. Your lender will have to pull your credit again a day or two before closing.

Don’ts:

-Apply for any new credit of ANY kind. Do not finance anything until after closing.

-Don’t scare the underwriting team. Don’t co-sign on another person’s loan, change your address or name.

-Don’t quit or change jobs until home is closed. Changes to employment or income during this month could cost you your new home.

There are more things to do and not do!

Happy to have a conversation with you to be sure it all goes well.

Buying with a Partner

Buying with a partner - Natural light living room, window wall, brick wall, tall open ceiling with concrete stairs and grey couches and ottomans with greenery

Buying with a partner?  

Here is one strategy to reduce stress and be sure you are aligned on your new home.  

I call it the power of 3’s.   

Before you begin your search, sit down together and make a list of three answers (ONLY THREE) to each of these three questions:

1) What are your three absolute must haves? 

These are you hard stop deal breakers. 

Examples might be:

-must have 3 bedrooms

-must have fenced backyard

-must be within 20 minutes of our jobs

2)What are your three would love to haves?  

These have possible other solutions so they aren’t deal breakers, but you would really really like them to be part of your new home.  

Examples might be:

-two car attached garage

(ok…. we could live with one car garage, but would LOVE two!)

-a separate office

-an upstairs laundry room

3)What are your three fantasy items?  

Examples might be:

-A view of Mount Hood

-A porch, always wanted a front porch

-A coffee shop within walking distance

Obviously, your answers will be unique to you and with this list in hand, our shopping experience will be much more of a treasure hunt to find the items in 2 & 3 and much less stressful because you and your partner will have a vision for what “it” looks like.  

And that will help you identify it once we find it!

Ready for buying with a partner?

Let’s chat!

The Loan Process

Learn about the loan process. Pole barn home, white two story with medium dark wood around the windows with black pains and some green shrubs on the ground floor outside the windows.

The loan process goes like this…

Complete your application with your chosen lender.

Submit all income and asset documentation. Your lender will need every page of every document requested – bank statements, your tax returns and W-2 statements from the previous two years.

Sign and initial the application and disclosures either at your lender’s office, or via mail and send back.

Once the lender has the above, the file will be turned in to processing. Once processed it will then go into underwriting.

While in underwriting you may be contacted for more information. The sooner you get that information back to them, the faster the loan gets closed.

You find a dream home, then what happens to the loan?

Write an earnest money check to go with your offer. This is a deposit toward your down payment. 

Loan disclosures will be sent to you for approval. Once approved, and once the inspection has been signed off, an appraisal will be scheduled.

 

The appraisal is charged to you. If it comes back “subject to repairs,” the repairs will all need to be done before closing and the appraiser will need to go back out to verify completion. There is an additional fee for the verification if it’s necessary.

Secure insurance for the property. The bill will be paid at closing.

Are we done yet? (Nope.)

Once all of the previous is done, the file is submitted for final loan approval. The processor will do last minute employment verifications and will refresh your credit report. Then loan documents are sent to escrow.

Escrow will call you to arrange a time to sign and give you the amount needed to close. This generally happens the day before or morning of signing. You will need a cashier’s check made out to the escrow company, or you can wire the funds. The escrow officer is the only person who can tell you the exact amount of that check and it’s usually short notice. Your lender will give you an estimate so you have an idea of what to expect. 

Go to signing and sign your loan papers at the escrow office. This usually happens two to three days before closing. You will need to bring two forms of ID, at least one of which is government issued with photo. Signing will take about an hour.

Loan documents go back to the lender’s office, and the funder reviews the file. There is a chance you will be asked for additional documentation or signatures, so please be available.

Your loan funds in the morning and records in the afternoon. Once recorded your transaction is considered closed.

Ta-da! Okay, now you’re done with the loan process.

Have questions? Please reach out.

Staging a Home

Two tone navy and grey room with navy velvet couch and 4 grey throw pillows. Two light wood frames on the wall. Navy and white rug with green house plant.

We’ve all heard about staging a home.

Is taking the extra time and sometimes spending a little extra money worth it?

You bet!

Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare a home for selling:

* Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans. 

* Replace burnt out light bulbs.

* Clear countertop clutter.

* Shampoo carpets.

* Remove excessive wall hangings, personal photos and kick-knacks. 

* Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).

Some of these items may seem negligible and you may be thinking people won’t notice. 

Trust me, they do!

My job is to guide you and get your home in tip top shape showing it at its best and leaving everyone wanting to buy it.

Staging a home is worth every penny and worth the time.

Want to know more about staging your home? Let’s chat!

Some Expectations

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Some expectations…

Expect to vacate your home for every showing. 

Expect a buyer’s agent to ask you questions if they run into you. Refer them back to me to protect your best interests. 

Expect buyers to make low offers.

Expect buyers to ask for closing costs. 

Expect buyers to ask for a home warranty. I recommend you consider purchasing one which is a great selling feature.

Expect to vacate for multiple inspections, most common three: whole house, radon and sewer scope. However there are many more which may be requested such as roof, oil tank, septic, pest, etc.

Expect buyers to ask for repairs that could range from $200 to $20,000. 

Expect that there is a chance our appraisal will come in low.

Expect buyers financing to potentially fall through due to circumstances beyond their control.

Expect buyers to be nervous and make unreasonable requests, especially if this is their first purchase. Just because they ask, doesn’t mean we have to say “yes.”

Expect that agents may schedule an appointment to show your home, not show up, and not call to cancel. Rude.

Expect that agents may leave a door unlocked, or let a pet out.

Expect agents may show up without making an appointment.

Expect some agents will refuse to give feedback. 

Expect that if we are on the market more than a couple of weeks without activity, that we will discuss a price correction to re-establish buyer activity.

Expect there to be some hurdles throughout the process, but that we will work through them together. You are not alone in this process.

Questions about other expectations? Reach out! I’m here to help.

Home Warranty Protection

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What’s the deal with home warranty protection?

New construction

When buying new construction, the builder usually offers some sort of full or limited warranty on things such as the quality of design, materials and workmanship. Usually these warranties last for one year from purchase of your home. At closing, the builder will assign to the buyer the manufacturer’s warranties that were provided to the builder for materials, appliances, fixtures, etc. 

Resale home warranties

Sellers sometimes purchase a home warranty for their homes which will transfer to you. This covers the seller during escrow and you as the buyer for one year from purchase. These are fairly inexpensive depending upon the warranty chosen. You are encouraged to purchase a home warranty if it is not offered by the seller.

A basic warranty can cover things such as heaters, duct work, drain line stoppages, plumbing leaks, toilets, water heaters, jetted bathtub motor, and pumps, recirculating pumps, hot/cold water dispensers, garbage disposals, water pressure regulators, sump pumps, electrical systems, exhaust and ceiling fans, garage door openers, central vacuums, dishwashers, trash compactors, kitchen exhaust fans, oven/range/cooktops, and built-in microwaves. More protection is offered by higher-priced warranties. Please check your policy for specific items covered. 

A home warranty program will give both buyers and sellers peace-of-mind knowing that the covered components in the home will be repaired if necessary. 

Questions about home warranties? Reach out, I’m happy to help.

Things to Know about Your Loan

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Things to know about your loan…

3 key factors determine how much you can afford:

1. Down payment

2. Your ability to qualify for a loan

3. Closing costs

Down payment requirements vary from purchase to purchase.

Most lenders require that your monthly payment range be between 25-28% of your gross monthly income. The 3 components that determine your ability to secure a home loan include your credit report, assets, income and property value.

You will be required to pay fees for loan processing and other closing costs. These fees must be paid in full at the final settlement, unless you are able to include them in your financing. 

Some money do’s and don’t’s during qualifying and escrow.

DO’s

– Stay current on existing accounts 

– Continue to use your credit as normal 

– Keep records of credit use 

– Call your lender with any questions or concerns about your credit

 

DON’T’s

– Apply for new credit 

– Close credit accounts 

 –  Max out credit cards 

 –  Consolidate your debt 

– Pay off collections or “charge-offs” 

Have other questions? Ask away!

Your Doorstep is Everything

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So, you’re thinking about selling your home?

 

There are some simple things you can do that will make a huge difference.  

Your doorstep is everything.

I work with both buyers and sellers and can tell you there have been many times when I’m out showing a buyer a home and they decide they are in love with the house before I even get the door open. That probably means something about the character of the exterior and the neighborhood really works for them. And, it also usually means the mailbox is in great shape. The exterior lights are working. The doormat is fresh. The spiderwebs are gone. There are blooming flowers near the door. And the listing agent has placed the lockbox in an easily accessible place.

 

Consider the process…. I’m standing on your doorstep working the lockbox while the buyer and I chat away. They’re checking things out from that viewpoint. Making a strong first impression is so important. If you can’t be bothered to touch up the front door paint, then maybe you also haven’t been servicing the furnace???   

Remember, your doorstep is everything.

I’d be honored to help you sell your home and can help you with many other tips to help you secure that best offer. Let’s talk!

Finding an Out-of-Town Agent

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I am often asked for help finding just the right agent at the Oregon Coast, or Texas, or Florida, or Utah, or New York… you get the point. Finding an out-of-town agent on your own can be stressful.

So, I’ve put together a program where I can help you find just the right agent anywhere in the country by not only checking their behind-the-scenes agent reviews, but also by calling them and interviewing them for you. Yes, I vet them personally!

Then, I give you two agents that I think would be a great fit. You want an agent who not only has a proven track record, but one who has good relationships and a great reputation in the industry. Finding an out-of-town agent is a delicate balance.

This is a free service I provide and I am honored to help. Please don’t hire your agent off a park bench in a new town or because it’s your brother’s, ex’s cousin twice removed.  

This is one of your most personal decisions, not to mention one of your most expensive investments. Let’s do this right.  I can help.

Let’s chat!

Exceptional Care

A vintage style retro bicycle with bouquets of flowers in the baskets as party decoration at an outdoor event.

The joy of real estate is taking exceptional care of the clients with whom I choose to work.

Here are just a few of the ways I can be of service:

Relocating? I belong to a vetted network of exceptional agents and can connect you at no cost to someone fabulous anywhere in the country.

Planning: Real Estate happens around your life needs. I’m happy to help you plan even if you aren’t ready to do something yet.

Preparation: I handle prepping your home for sale so you don’t need to spend time and money where it’s not needed.

Staging your home. I work with both physical and virtual stagers.

Pricing: I price your home for current market conditions, your neighborhood and to get you top dollar.

Information: You will know every step of the way what is happening next, your choices in how we respond and strategies for the smoothest possible transaction. I have written both buyer and seller guides to assist you along the way.

I never pass you off to an assistant; I am always your main point of contact.

I have built a team of exceptional professionals, including lenders, escrow officers, inspectors, photographers, contractors, stagers, landscapers, etc. Even after your transaction is long completed, I am here for you.

I have a stellar reputation in Portland, Oregon and have worked hard to develop relationships with other agents. That means when I send in an offer, or take a listing, they want to work with me which helps you get your offers accepted/ or your listing sold more quickly.

Exceptional care is part of who I am and not just something I say to get business. I believe it taking care of you as you go through the peaks and valleys of selling or buying your home.

I’d be honored to work with you. Let’s talk!

Thinking of Buying?

Small blue gray mobile home with a front and side porch. It has a white porch railing out in the country on land shared by a larger siding house.

Thinking of buying? Why buying now may actually be your most brilliant move.

If you are thinking to purchase, this market may have discouraged you a bit.  

Here’s a few financial things to consider if you are currently renting, and first steps towards your home purchase should you decide to move forward.

  1. Rent paid this year is cash out of pocket, plus you don’t get the write off of having a mortgage and you aren’t gaining appreciation.  So figure that equals whatever you are paying in rent x 3.
  1. Home prices statistically and historically continuing to rise.  So, the same home you might buy today, will most likely be quite a bit more expensive next year.  Depending upon your price point that could be $40,000 to $100,000 more…. appreciation that could be yours if you had purchased it.
  1. Interest rates are expected to continue to rise. They doubled in just the past few months. Every .25% increase to an interest rate can make a several hundred dollar a month difference to a mortgage – again it depends on the amount of the loan.

So in my opinion it’s still a great time to be buying a home, even though the market is competitive and a bit stressful.  

To have the best experience and success with the process you need two things:  

First an exceptional lender.  If you don’t have one please reach out I can connect you to resources. Trust me they are not all created equally. Being pre-approved for your loan is critical before shopping. You want to know what your payment will be, what you are pre-approved for and that paperwork must be submitted with your offer when you find a home.

   

Second an exceptional agent. You need an agent who is resourceful, responsive and creative. You need an agent other agents want to work with and who has a stellar reputation.  I am all of those things and more and would be honored to be of service!

First-time Home Buyer?

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First-time home buyer?  

What exactly are you getting yourself into when you go from having a landlord you can call to caring for your first home?  

Here are some of the things it takes to maintain your new home:

1) HVAC system – it’s a great idea to have your AC and Furnace cleaned and inspected at least every two years. Ideally, you would want to do that off-season so that during that ice storm or heat wave when the rest of the world is calling for repairs you are comfortably settled in your space. The technician can advise you regarding how often to change filters.

2) Exterior water and foundation. Before winter, turn off outside spigots and drain hoses to avoid bursting pipes. Once a year, shine a flashlight on that unfinished basement or crawl space walls to check for any new cracks or stains.

3) Gutters and downspouts. Have these cleaned late fall after leaves have stopped dropping. Gutters that are clogged can create water damage to roofs or foundations. It’s much cheaper to clean the gutters than deal with those things!

4) Roof and chimney. Unless brand new, every two years it’s wise to have an expert double check for missing shingles or holes and around flashing. The goal is to stop water and animals from getting into your home or moss from building up (which pushes apart shingles and allows water in). Your roof inspector can also check for cracks in your chimney and mortar if applicable.

5) Septic and well. If you purchased a home that is not connected to public water and sewer, you’ll want to have your on-site systems checked.  A septic tank should be pumped out every three years or so depending on its size and how many people live in the home. Wells should be inspected yearly.

6) Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. All homes should have these items. Batteries will need to be replaced. Think about scheduling these when the time changes twice a year.

7) Pest control. I live 3 miles outside of downtown Portland in the woods; so ants, squirrels, raccoons, owls, birds… you name it, we’ve got it. There are tools you can get at your local hardware store to deal with some of these. Relocation companies that catch and release and companies like Terminix can also help. Just be mindful that you don’t want to catch or harm your neighbor’s pets or the planet with your choices.

Take it in and remember to breathe. I don’t share this list to create overwhelm. I share this list because being a proactive homeowner is way better and usually cheaper.

Best of all – you are not alone!  I am happy to connect you to resources should anything come up.

Welcome to home ownership and being a first-time home buyer!

I Am Not A Mechanic

Picture of Kelly Sandstrom, Caucasian woman with curly, red hair wearing two strand white pearl necklace with black sleeveless dress

I am not a mechanic.

Sure I know a few things. I know every so often I need to have my tires rotated, that my Mini S Coup likes premium gas and an oil change will never JUST be an oil change.

Oh sure I could read some books, I could go back to school, I could train and study and start working as a mechanic, get some experience, and learn some stuff and take ongoing courses to stay on top of all the new technology.  

Except here’s the thing… I have no passion for that career.  So, I’d never be as good as someone who does it day in and day out and who has years of experience. I don’t want to know how to fix my car. What I want is someone who is great at that career and who has a passion for it and is on the top of their game.  I want someone who will look out for me, give me great advice on where I need to spend money and where I don’t. I want my car to be cute, zippy, and run well. And, I want a trusted advocate to help with the rest.

You might feel that way about real estate. I can promise that few of us knew what we were getting into when we chose this career. The hours are long, often 7 days a week.  We’re working with people during one of the most stressful processes of their lives. The pressure is high. The ways to be out of compliance with a transaction are many. It’s no wonder 82% of those who go into real estate don’t make it past the first year. It’s more tricky that it looks.

What you need is a trusted advocate who is passionate about helping you reach your real estate goals.  You need someone who will look out for your budget by helping you prep your home to sell in the most cost effective ways; you’ll need someone on your team who will negotiate the best terms for your transaction, who will help you not leave money on the table when buying and connect you to the best resources in terms of lenders, escrow officers, inspectors and home vendors.  You’’ want someone who has done the training and given the blood, sweat and tears to be exceptional at this profession.  You’ll want someone who can explain your options and help you decide which choices best suit your goals.

You don’t have to be a real estate expert. You simply need one on your side. That’s what I do best!  My goal is to take such exceptional care of you that you are not only a happy client but a raving fan. And that we get to work together again some day in the future. And, that you’ll also trust me to help your friends and family.  I love this crazy business. I’d be honored to chat.  The sooner in the process the better – that way I can share other great resources with you as well. For evidence of “raving fans,” check out my Zillow reviews

Crazy Market

Beautiful kitchen room with green island and farmhouse sink.

Here’s the bottom line, yes inventory is low now. 

It’s been low in the Pacific Northwest for years.

Yes, interest rates are starting to rise.  

Anyone else remember when they were 8%???

When the market is challenging, what you need on your side is an exceptional, talented, hands on agent who cares about your real estate goals.

I can help you prep your home for sale, market and negotiate, so we actually close at the highest price bid instead of having it not appraise at last minute before closing and price coming back down.

Or, if you are buying I can help you write an offer that isn’t necessarily the highest bid, but because of my stellar reputation with other agents, great terms, and some personal touches helps us drastically increase the chances of getting your offer accepted in a crazy competitive market. 

And did you know that working with a buyer’s agent is 100% free to you?  Most people don’t know that!

I’d be honored to talk about your plans whether you are two weeks from doing something or two years.  Let’s chat…. People are buying and selling all the time.  As Lady Gaga would say, ”I’ve got you”.

Getting to your next:  Selling your home

House with elegant wood grain front door surrounded by ivy

While inventory is low, it’s a wonderful time to capture top dollar for your Oregon home. If you are thinking about selling, here are a few key things to consider to prep your home for sale.

  1. You’ve heard it said. You should declutter your home. This is so true for several reasons:
  • We want to make your home appear as spacious as possible. 
  • We don’t want to distract potential buyers with your belongings. Collections, family photographs, too many books on potentially controversial topics and your drinking or smoking preference are some of the things that can create distractions and should be eliminated.
  • Working with me means we’re using the best photographers and there are ideal furniture placements and removal of “normal” home items that will make your home appear more desirable. Things like clearing kitchen countertops, and shower shelves, packing up some of your closet items so closets appear more spacious, etc.
  1. Go out to the street and look back at your home.  How is your mailbox? Doormat? Flowers?  Is there anything you can remove or spruce up?  Specifically at your front door are there spiderwebs? Do we need to update the doorbell, paint the front door, change a lightbulb?  Buyers will be standing at the front door while their agent retrieves your key for showing. Make a great first impression by looking at that space with fresh eyes and making any needed tweaks.
  1. Inside – clean is everything.  I am happy to assist my clients with cleaning services and to do a quick walkthrough with staging and decluttering suggestions. As a rule, realtors don’t usually photograph the inside of a garage so boxing and storing extra things there works great!  Just keep it as tidy as you can and put everything in the center of the room so that inspectors can see all the walls and get to electrical panels, attic access, etc.
  1. If you have not had your HVAC serviced in the past year have it serviced and do any recommended repairs and put in fresh filters.  That paperwork will save you time and money once you are under contract with your buyer.
  1. Make a plan for that first weekend on market. I advise my clients, if possible, to go away for the weekend so that we can accommodate as many showings as possible and do two open houses.  This gets us off to a great start and, in the current market, with exceptional marketing might even land you a contract in the first week.  

These are just a few of the many ideas I share with my clients when prepping their home for market. There are strategies for everything in real estate! From timing your sale and purchase and navigating two transactions at once, to getting not only top dollar but the best terms for your home.  This is a very personal transaction and you need a stellar agent with great marketing, negotiating, management  and communication skills.  If you are thinking about selling your home in two weeks or two years, I’d be honored to have a conversation about the possibilities and to learn more what works best for you and how, together, we can create that and get you to your what’s next!

Don’t Find Your Agent Off of a Bus Bench…

Concrete and brown park bench with graffiti over pictures on the bench

Moving out of state and wondering how to find your next home?

We realtors spend a lot of money promoting ourselves, but as you probably already know, not all agents are created equally. Did you know that 87% of all Oregon agents never make it past their first year? 

  

I belong to a nation wide program that allows me to vet an agent out-of-state for you – for FREE!

This past year I have helped people find agents who not only have a proven track record, they also have good relationships and reputations in our industry. Those things are critical when you are trying to get an offer accepted on a home you love.

If you are in another state or city, I’d be honored to help you find a new agent. This service doesn’t cost you a dime and can make your move SO much easier knowing you are in capable and competent hands. 

Let’s talk!

How Real is HGTV?

New home tan exterior with mocha brown door and garage doors white trim.

Are you an HGTV Fan? 

How real is it???? 

I once had a beloved client say, “I know a lot about real estate because I watch a TON of HGTV.” I’m so glad I knew him well because I burst into laughter!  I replied, “That’s a lot like saying I know all about healthy relationships because I watch ‘Housewives of Beverly Hills’.”

Luckily, he also burst into laughter.

HGTV is awesome for many things such as:

-great decorating/ remodeling ideas/ landscaping ideas

-getting an idea of the kinds of things that can go wrong in remodeling and some solutions

-understanding that remodeling and purchasing real estate is a process with ups and downs

-and most of all ENTERTAINMENT

What it’s not great for:

-setting realistic expectations for timelines, frustrations, deadlines or negotiations

-budgets. You cannot redo a major bathroom for $4000 – NOT.HAPPENING.

-some of the drama is fake-ever notice into any given show something goes horribly wrong? Yeah…. that’s been scripted. I have friends who were on one of these shows and they were told when to fight and disagree.

-some of those remodels look good on camera but not in real life.

I’ve met one of the designers behind “The Property Brothers” – and I quizzed her hard.

The hosts on these shows are mostly figure heads with tons of talent behind them. They show up for the “filming” and walk away while others do all the behind scenes actual work.

Do I still watch?  Of course I do!  I have a special place in my heart for makeover shows.

Just know that if you want to sell your home, the smartest place to start is with a vetted, talented, caring agent who can walk through the home with you and help you know where you DO need to spend money to get ready for market and where you do NOT. 

Welcome

Real estate is such a personal experience. I love bringing my professionalism as well as my personal passion and care to your experience. I hope you stop by again to see future posts on Oregon real estate, home buying and selling, and local events and neighborhood information. Thank you for coming by. I look forward to helping you accomplish your real estate goals.