The Contingent Offer

Let’s talk about something we don’t hear much about these days.

The Contingent Offer: (Insert Ominous Tones Here…)

An offer that involves “contingent funds” is an offer that requires down-payment or loan funds that are dependent upon certain events or conditions: Buyers have to qualify for the loan, therefore their funds to purchase the home are contingent upon the Buyers’ ability to get the loan; Buyers’ down-payment may be coming from a relative or an investment and the relative, or investment, has yet to make the funds available to the Buyers for one reason or another – these are contingent funds.

Most offers involve contingent funds in one form or another. If the Buyer is paying all cash, and no part of the money being used to purchase the property is tied up, in any way, in underwriting, in an investment that hasn’t matured yet, in grandma’s bank account – those all-cash funds are non-contingent funds.

A Contingent Offer, however, means the entire offer being presented to the Sellers of a property depends on certain conditions being met. The most common of these conditions is that the Buyers’ home must sell before they will have the funds with which to purchase the house they are making the contingent offer to purchase: “…we need to sell our house before we can buy your house.”

Many agents will not write contingent offers for their Buyers, and for good reason. They’re risky, they’re tough to get accepted, and the likelihood they’ll fall apart completely is much higher than it is with a non-contingent offer.

However…

I will write contingent offers for my Buyers as long as a few important things are clearly understood.

1.  When making a contingent offer on a home, Buyers must make their offer good enough to compel the Sellers to take their home off the market for a specified period of time to allow the Buyers enough time to sell their own home. “Good Enough” is as subjective as you can imagine. But one of the places to start is price. One way to make the offer to purchase as strong as possible is to raise the purchase price above what the offer price would be if the Buyers were making a non-contingent offer. Remember, it’s about making the offer strong enough that the Sellers will be compelled to suspend their efforts to sell their home and wait. This means Buyers making a contingent offer have to be willing to pay more on the buying-end to get the home they want.

2. Buyers making a contingent offer on a home will need to act aggressively to sell their own home. This means they will not be in a position to wait until a better offer comes along. This is because Buyers will have to price their own home aggressively to compel the Sellers of the home the Buyers want to work with the Buyers and accept their contingent offer. And this means Buyers may have to sell their existing home for less than they would otherwise accept.

3. The Buyers who have made a contingent offer will have to work quickly, decisively, and aggressively to sell their home – no playing around. This means Buyers who are selling their home to meet the obligations under their contingent offer, may experience more life-interruptions than they otherwise would if they were selling and not in a hurry. If Tommy is sick and there is a showing scheduled, Tommy might need to go to Grandma’s while the house is shown. Motivation is key.

4. There is a high likelihood the Listing Agent (LA) of the house the Buyers wish to buy, when their funds become available, will counsel the Sellers who are considering the contingent offer, to insert what is commonly referred to as a “Bump Clause.” The Bump Clause enables the Sellers to give notice to contingent Buyers that they have received another offer and that the Buyers who have made the contingent offer have a specified amount of time to show proof of funds to purchase the home (usually 48-72 hours). IN other words, “We’ve received another offer. You have 48 hours to show us proof that you can begin the purchase.”

5. The Listing Agent of the home may also ask that the earnest money be non-refundable to cover the cost of taking the house off the market for a specified period of time. This means that if things don’t work out, and the Buyers cannot sell their house in enough time to complete the contract with the Sellers, the Buyers forfeit their earnest money and that money will be paid to the Sellers to cover their time off the market.

Summary: Buyers wishing to make contingent offers may lose money on their purchase because they are in a weak bargaining position. They are literally offering to purchase the house with money they may or may not receive. The Buyers will likely lose money on the sale of their current home because they will not have the time to negotiate and/or wait for a better offer. And they will very likely experience a greater degree of life-interruption because they will need to market their home very aggressively to meet the contractual obligations of their contingent offer.

However, and this is a big ‘however,’ the Sellers considering a contingent offer may stand to get more for their properties than they otherwise would which is great for the Sellers, if the Buyers are fine with the potential to lose a few thousand on the Buying-end and a few thousand on the Selling-end to get the house they really, really want and AVOID two moves (especially with interest rates being as low as they currently are), the Buyers are working with a lender and the lender assures us all that the Buyers will qualify for the purchase as soon as the Buyers sell their current home, annnnnd, the Buyers act very deliberately and aggressively to sell their current home…

I WILL WRITE CONTINGENT OFFERS FOR THESE BUYERS ALL DAY LONG.

Yes I will! These are some of my favorite Buyers!

I get it! They don’t want to put their home on the market until they find something they really love so they know they will find something they can really love, they don’t want to move twice to get their next home, they just want to buy their forever home and they are a-okay spending a little more to avoid the months long drama.

The Buyer’s chances are particularly enhanced if they are selling their current home in a ‘warmer’ market than the market into which they are buying. For example: if they are selling a home in Inner NW Portland and buying a home in Lake Oswego.

If you think this is a strategy that might work for you, call me!

Amy Munsey, (971)258-5500 or email me at amy@amymunsey.com and we’ll chat about your next adventure!

I am a licensed Oregon Real Estate Broker with Keller Williams Realty Professionals.

A Wonderful Time for an Adventure!

Oh Portland, how do we hang on to our lovely weather for more than a few days?

Rain or no rain, it is the ‘Busy Season’ in Real Estate here in the Rose City and that means there are clients to find homes for, homes to preview, doors to knock before I hold listings open (to let neighbors know I’ll be holding a home open in their neighborhood) and people to invite into the process of selling and/or buying their next home!

Though it is a lot of work, this is the time of year I love most.

Portland-Proper has a low inventory of available homes and that has created a Seller’s market is some neighborhoods: Alameda, Irvington, Inner Southeast Portland, Inner Northeast Portland, Close-In NW Portland, and in some pockets of SW Portland. Other areas are still a Buyers’ Market.

For Seller/Buyers selling a home in a Sellers’ Market and buying their next home in an area or neighborhood that is a Buyers’ Market, well, it really doesn’t get much better than now!

Though the inventory is low right now, there are some incredibly cool properties on the market. I was browsing the pool of condos in Inner-NW this morning on the MLS and was amazed to see gorgeous property after gorgeous property come up. Some are very large (could have been two condos at one time that owners turned into one), some have fantastic architectural details, and others have amenities coming out of their eaves!

Of the pool of available houses on the market, I’ve seen homes with fantastical open-beam ceilings with woodwork that must have been created by a Master Carpenter. That was no average trim package! I saw more than one gorgeous English Garden with roses abloom and boxwood hedges. There are several homes with pools on the market right now if Summer in the backyard ‘cement pond’ is what you’re dreaming of, and many homes have first-floor offices with beautiful built-ins and glass french-doors. And all of the homes I am describing right now are under $700,000.

My point is this, while inventory in your target market may be low and competition a little more hot than you are comfortable with, the quality I am seeing on the market is really, really wonderful. There are homes with character and charm, with unique and beautiful details, and that would be something all your friends will be talking about should you be one of the Buyers who decides now is the time to make that move.

If you are looking for something really special, now is a great time to be in the market for your next home.

I was really fortunate recently to tour a home my husband and I sold to a wonderful couple in 2006. The house is a Queen Anne Victorian in the Hawthorne District. It was built in 1895. That home was my dream home and living in it was a privilege. When we put it on the market, it sold quickly to a couple with a long history in the area. They love the house as much as we did.

When I walked through it a few weeks ago, the guitar-maker and his wife who live there now showed me a home that was absolutely stunning! The handmade Zebrawood Table in the Dining room was made for the room. The husband tore out the kitchen we put in to sell the home, and replaced everything with a hand-built, Black Walnut kitchen (with a natural stain) that took my breath away. He built a banquette that looks as though it has always been there. The back of the banquette is made from a piece of Black Walnut that he carved and finished to be a beautiful, curved, concave seat-back. It. Is. Breath-taking! It is beautiful and unique, and it looks wonderfully appropriate for that home. I left feeling so appreciative that they bought that lovely home and that they had taken such wonderful care of it!

The home I just described is not on the market, but there are homes like it, on the market, right now. Those are the kinds of details I am talking about: beautiful custom kitchens, office built-ins, libraries, exquisite gardens. They’re all out there if you have been waiting for something wonderful to come along.

If you would like to see a home with a solar-heated pool and a lovely backyard, I’d love to show one to you! There are a couple for sale in Lake Oswego. If you’d like to see high Barrel Ceilings with large wooden beams, I can show you that too. If you really want that English Garden you have been dreaming about for years, there are several on the market right now.

Now is a great time to find that gem you may have been thinking about.

If you’d like to go out and take a look, call me at (971) 258-5500 and we’ll go on a little tour!

I’m off to take a look at what’s coming up on Broker Tour!

Happy House Hunting!

 

I Have Moved: Again!

I’ve moved to Keller Williams Realty Professionals, Portland West Office!

I joined another firm briefly but it wasn’t long before it became clear our relationship (the brokerage’s and mine) probably could have been a better fit. There is no particular reason for this – call it a gut feeling.

When an agent cannot confidently carry the vision of a brokerage with them as they do business, it does the neither the agent, nor the firm, any good to carry on despite the obvious. I’m a practical person and the practical thing to do was move to an agency where I felt a better fit.

When an agent makes the decision to move, the parting-of-ways is commonly congenial, the managing broker says, “We understand you need to do what is best for you, we wish you the best of luck, and if you ever decide to come back, our doors are always open.” In this industry, we are always running into one another. It is best to keep every communication, no matter what the situation, on the best possible terms. If that isn’t the message the departing agent receives when she or he leaves, the decision to move is a particularly good one. Who wants to work for an agency who prefers sour grapes over wine?

You’ll find, most of us in the Real Estate Industry are pretty good at keeping things comfortable. This is particularly easy to do when we, ourselves, as independent business people, are comfortable with the agency we work with.

I have been at Keller Williams Realty Professionals barely a week and I can already tell Keller Williams and I will have a long and rewarding relationship. I have been greeted warmly, I am encouraged to be myself, I am encouraged to build my own brand over time, and the company supports agents who want to work in teams to divide up the work so they may better serve their clients. The agents I have spoken to at the office and out in the field, all seem to be happy and focused on building strong and ethical businesses while living a balanced and fulfilling life. That’s precisely what I wish to do and I am so very pleased to have finally found a place that I feel comfortable.

Please visit my website at http://www.AmyMunsey.com to check out any of the hundreds of listings offered by Keller Williams Realty Professionals or to browse local listings by neighborhood. As my business evolves, so too will my website. All of this occurs so that I can better communicate with you, and so you feel better served by me.

I am grateful to those of you who read my blog. It is about living in the Portland Area, doing business here, and building a balanced life.

On another note: My husband and I walk in the evenings. We live in a hilly neighborhood with an elevation gain of about 600 feet from lower portion to the top of Nansen Summit Park. We try to meander our way to the bottom, and back up to the top once a day. We are currently renting as we ‘try on’ different Lake Oswego neighborhoods, and sometimes our little explorations of Mountain Parks miles of trails find us in unexpected grottos, parks, or climbing up some very steep greenspace pathways.

Yesterday, we investigated a route we haven’t yet walked. When we reached the bottom, we came to a hidden park that is only accessible by trail. Houses back out onto the park and residents who live close to it know about it, but we’d not seen it yet.

It is beautiful! And it was virtually empty! We encountered another walker and I asked him if he would please share with us a little about this beautiful hidden park. He stop[ed and we chatted for about 30 minutes. He told us about where he lives and about other good routes to walk that reveal other hidden assets. We were both completely smitten with the park and vowed to listen for homes that may go up for sale near it. It would be a wonderful neighborhood (within the large Mountain Park neighborhood) to live in.

Sometimes you just never know what you may find!

It’s part of what I love about my job.

Happy Househunting!

Best On Tour 4/24/2012 – Inner Southeast Portland

Inner Southeast Portland Real Estate

Tuesdays is Broker’s Tour Day. Every Tuesday I choose a neighborhood or area to tour and go check out the new listings to see if I can find anything really spectacular. I toured 6 homes today and one really, really stood out!

According to the Flyer, 3929 Crystal Springs Blvd, listed for $479,000 by Meadows Realty. It has 3 Bedrooms + an office and 2-1/2 Baths. The lot is a little on the small side, but the house more than makes up for it.

This brand-new infill-build Modern was a stand out because of its oodles of curb appeal and because of its incredible flow and use of space. And remember, because it is new, it comes with a 10-year warranty.

  

Who doesn’t love all these windows on a day like today?

The kitchen is new, clean, smartly designed, and easy to use. It looks over the dining area. See that eat-up bar? Brilliant!

  

The contiguous plank floors positively gleam and make the space look large and airy.

  

The industrial finishes are warmed up with small details – a perfect combination!

The main floor office has interesting wood details. I love the way they turn what would have been a boring room into sophisticated-modern.

Windows everywhere connect interior to exterior and make even a dull, grey day like today feel bright.

This house meets all the most up-to-date energy-conservation standards, comes with a 10-year warranty, and sits on a quiet street. It was a joy to tour.

I look forward to showing it to you!

Interested? Give me a call at (971) 258-5500 or email me at Amy@AmyMunsey.com

Best In Tour – Lake Oswego Creative Spaces

You have got to see these! But because you couldn’t be there with me today, I’m going to do my best to show you the sweetest of the bunch.

I toured several Lake Oswego homes on the Tuesday Broker’s Tour today and two really stood out above their competition.

A caveat: I’m looking for something a little special. My clients aren’t really interested in generic spaces. Most my clients are creatives in their own rights and are looking for spaces that will feed their considerable appetites for the unique and interesting.

Here are a couple of homes that are new on the market that I will be showing to my folks…

217 5th Street, (The Evergreen Neighborhood), Lake Oswego, RMLS#12143150, Listed by John L. Scott for $699,000. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

It was a grey day this afternoon but this house made me forget all about the somber skies outside. It took my breath away! You all know as well as I do that it isn’t so much about the amount of square feet as it is about how the space is designed and used. This house had an interesting floor plan. The space has fantastic flow and is very well used. It has 2097 square feet (according to the flyer).

It has a walkscore of 98 (to downtown Lake Oswego)!

It is just a few blocks to the swim park for sweet Summer hanging out.

The floors are all a dark wide-plank wood that is in beautiful condition.

This fireplace is gorgeous!

The French Doors lead out to the front porch.

The bedside tables are built in for a high-end look.

This room has a fireplace in it below the deer on the wall.

Normally, of one of my Sellers had a green room like this I would be hesitant to list it without neutralizing the color. But in this case, the color works brilliantly. It feels clean and fresh and alive. The door leads out to the upper level of an outside deck with stairs down to the backyard.

There is so much more to this house than my iPhone camera could capture. If you are wondering how to stage a unique and colorful property, these folks did it right! And their use of space really lets Buyers know how well the space can work!

This property was my favorite of the day!

The other property that I’m really looking forward to showing is…

1918 Indian Trail, Lake Oswego, MLS# 12369470, listed by Keller WIlliams for $719,000. It is perched among the trees Turkey Vultures also call home. According to the listing agent, deer regularly venture into the yard and the setting is quiet and serene. It has 3090 square feet with 3 bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The feeling of being in a treehouse was hard to ignore. The home is also full of art and evidence of exotic travels. This home was a treat to see. If Buyers have wondered what it would look like to live in a treehouse, without actually having to leave the ground, this is a stunner that should really be seen. The floors are in excellent condition as is every other part of the house. There is a guest wing that is separated from the rest of the home to give guests plenty of privacy.

The floorplan has a very ‘adult’ feel to it though that may have something to do with its contents. I’m sure it could work well for a family with children too. It is on a cul de sac which might be really nice for families with kids.

These were the best of the Lake Oswego homes I toured today. If you think you’d like to take a look at either of them, please give me a call!

Amy Munsey, Oregon Broker at M Realty LLC.

(971) 258-5500,  Amy@AmyMunsey.com

‘Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?’

Buying or Selling Real Estate Today

Should I list my house for sale? Is this the bottom of the market? Shouldn’t I wait a year or two until I can get a better price for my house?

All are great questions. And if I had the answers to them, I’d be way ahead of the curve when it comes to making accurate predictions.

But here’s the truth: The market is not stable.

No one really knows what is going to happen. We are not sure if this is the bottom of the market. We are seeing hints that there may be a larger-than-in-the-past release of bank owned homes coming onto the market but there hasn’t been a significant release that has made us all say, “See!! Just like we suspected! There it is! That Shadow Inventory!

And if we don’t, can’t, know what is going to happen with the housing market, it would be disingenuous, maybe unethical, to tell you to list your house NOW because if all those REOs (Real Estate Owned or banked owned homes) flood the market, housing prices will go down some more.

If all those REOs hit the market, the banks that currently own them will suffer greater losses than if they let them trickle out, a little at a time. On the other hand, there is speculation that some banks may not be able to hang on to their inventories of foreclosed homes for long enough to realize increased prices for them.

Honestly? It could go either way.

Here’s a story that ends with a reason to buy…

I sold a home in Portland in a nice neighborhood to move to California. We did not recoup the $180,000 of renovations we put into it. That was back in May of 2009. We did, however, sell it and make enough to put a small down payment on another house. Still, it stung. We bought our house in California at what we understood was the bottom of the market there (in the Outer Bay Area) and sold it a little less than 2 years later for  $61,000 loss. In the days before we sold it, we were losing $800 a day on it. We didn’t have to short sale because my broker, and I, took no commission on the sale. That was close! That stung even more.

We moved back to Portland last year and decided to rent. We didn’t have any down payment anyway but, frankly, we were in no mood to buy anything even if we did have a down payment. We were tired of losing money on houses.

The truth? We’d made a bit of money when the market was good. We wanted that again. And we were tired of not-that. So we are renting. Today. Now.

We just moved because the house we were renting was owned by great landlords. They are responsive and nice. I’d invite them into my home any day, and did! But the house has significant structural issues not to mention a creek that runs through the crawl space Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. The moisture level in the house was high enough that our piano was affected more than we were comfortable with. Though we had the nicest landlords we could have wished for, they were not fixing that house. It would not have been cost-effective to do so.

Ten months later we’ve moved to another house. It’s much larger and we’re paying less rent because it’s dated. The carpet is a mauve I haven’t seen in 20 years. The kitchen has tired-looking oak cabinetry with roundy oak cabinet doors. But I figured I could deal because it has a loft for my art space and a lot of sizable skylights.

After chatting with the neighbors, however, I discovered our landlord hasn’t made many friends in the neighborhood, least of which were the former tenants who put up with a water heater, stove, refrigerator that all died, and a raccoon and squirrel making hay in the attic just above the master bedroom – all of which the landlord was hesitant to pay to fix. So hesitant, in fact, the property management company intervened. Hesitant enough that the former tenants hot-footed it out of here and…you’ve probably guessed it, bought their own house. One that they will fix when things go wrong, one that they will take care of so the deferred maintenance doesn’t cause them anxiety, one that holds its value because of the things they do to it. Because it is their own.

We will be here a year or so but I’ve got my fingers crossed nothing goes wrong while we’re here. If it does, like the tenants who vacated before us, we will do the same if we run into the same resistance.

It would be nice to think about getting rid of this mauve carpet and putting down hand-scraped maple floors or Brazilian Cherry that will age into dazzling colors. Though the kitchen is really functional, it would be great to think about having new Hickory cabinets installed with a quartz countertop. And the stair railing that is loose, that would be cool to replace with something more modern.

Do you hear it? The reason for selling or buying in today’s market? Because you own it, you can make it better, and you don’t have to depend on someone else who may be guarding their bottom line with a far different perspective than your own to fix things when things go wrong.

If you bought in 2006 and are under-water, and don’t need to sell and you love your house, why sell? If you bought in 2006 and really, really want something larger, you can get out of your current house without having to short sale, and still have some money for a down payment on your next house, it could be a great time to sell depending on where, and in what price range, you’re looking for your next home. There are some great, great buys out there right now.

If you are realizing that renting is okay but you have run into enough challenging landlords that make you think you could really see yourself owning a house of your own, now is a good time to buy if you have a down payment and a decent credit score. Think 620 or above. If you bought in 2000 and you have equity in your house, and you have been thinking for a while now that more, or less, space would be really nice, now is a good time to move…and this applies to all of the above…because your money goes a long, long way right now. A long way!

While you might not get the price you want for the house you’re thinking of selling, neither is the person selling the house you want to buy. You’re in the same boat. But with interest rates this low, your money goes farther than it has in a long time so chances that you find something really amazing are pretty good right now, depending on the market in your target area, at your target price point.

Check with your Realtor before listing. A good one will go over all the possibilities with you and even take you out on a little look-see adventure to check out the homes in your target area, at your target price, to make sure there are properties out there that meet your criteria.

So, to answer the question, “Should I list right now?” I say, well, let’s talk about what you hope to gain from doing that to see if the benefits outweigh the costs of doing that. For you. Because everyone has a situation that is as individual as they are.

To answer the question, “Have we hit the bottom of the market?” I say, it’s hard to say. If the year-long trend is correct, maybe. But following a trend like that would imply we have a market stable enough to support a trend. And, in my opinion, we do not have that market stability yet.

To answer the question, “Should I buy right now?” my answer is the same as it is to the first question. Let’s sit down and figure out if you can meet your goals by buying right now versus renting. Maybe! But let’s be smart and talk about it. We can even go out and do a little window shopping too.

And to answer the question, “How’s the market?” my answer is this, it’s a great time to move for some and a great time to stay-put for others. And then I ask the natural follow-up to that, “Would you be open to getting together to talk about your plans? I might have some insight that can help you answer that question for yourself.”

I thought renting would give us a break from the responsibilities of home-ownership. But I have discovered that rental properties can be in far different condition than properties lived in by their owners. And there is a reason for that. People who actually live in the properties they own don’t want to be without hot water, without a dishwasher, without a refrigerator, and will not tolerate destructive critter-partying in their attics.

I miss home ownership. I miss the planning and the changing. I miss remodeling (Hell must have frozen over…I thought I’d never, ever say that!) I miss making a house my own. And I miss not having to put up with things like mauve carpeting and dated kitchen cabinetry that I can’t change.

Because if we did, even if he gave us permission to, I would be sinking my money and my heart into someone else’s house.

I have to say, after owning, selling, losing a lot of money, owning, selling, losing a lot of money, and then renting and now renting again, I prefer home ownership.

It’s a reason I don’t hear mentioned much in the news, but one that is very real to us and one that will be the primary motivator behind our next purchase – because it is ours.

If you want to chat about the pros and cons of buying and/or selling, for you, give me a call or send me an email.

Amy Munsey, Broker

M Realty, LLC

(971) 258-5500

Amy@AmyMunsey.com

(My website is being remodeled. Please forgive the mess!)

All About Timing

We have the Ferrari of real estate information at Windermere, CCRGI.

We have Brian Allen.

Brian is what most certainly is a remarkable combination of business savvy, charisma, and down-right nerdiness when it comes to reading, interpreting, and following statistical trends. The best part is, Brian gleefully shares everything he learns with us. And let me tell you, there is no shortage of data and opinions about what is going on with the housing market right now. He reads blogs that he has learned, over time, to trust and rely on, creates elaborate graphs from the data he collects from the RMLS and other trend programs over time, talks with experts at lending institutions, and watches economists’ forecasts like no one else I know.

And then he gives the graphs and data to us so we can give them to you.

I have them. If you’d like them, please shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to give them to you.

In a nutshell, this is what I learned while listening to Brian a couple of weeks ago at our kick-off meeting:

Prices are at 1993 lows, interest rates are as low as they were in the 1950s, and the banks that have been hanging on to their inventories of foreclosed homes are showing some signs that they may be releasing them on to the market, faster and in greater quantities than they have in the past.

If you bought a house in 1993 for $200,000, the interest rate you would have paid would have created a house payment much higher than that same $200,000 purchase today. One interest rate point makes a load of difference.

House payment on a $200,000 loan amount then at 7% (without taxes and insurance): $1330.60/month.

House payment on a loan amount of $200,000 now at 4% (without taxes and insurance): $954.83/month.

The moral of the story? Paying that monthly house payment on a loan amount of $200,000 today is less money out of your pocket every month than a house payment made on the same loan amount, in 1993. You pay $375.77 less per month, $4,509.24 less per year.

The secret of good investing? Laying out as little as money as possible, with others taking as large a portion of the risk as you can get them to take, with an end result that gives you as much profit for your money as possible.

I have buyers who just bought a house. They put 5% down. That means the bank is taking 95% of the risk. Their down payment was smaller than many people’s tax refunds. They bought a sweet little house with incredible potential for upgrading and adding value in an area of Portland that is so hot there are far more Buyers than inventory of homes available to purchase. Their house payment is far below what they would ever pay, in that area, for than amount of space, to rent.

They waited, finally decided to buy, and I can’t think of a better time to have done so. I know this is true because I watch and read real estate blogs, listen to people I trust who are better at making predictions that doing post mortems, and ponder RMLS and TrendGraphix statistics too. But not to the extent that Brian Allen does. And he agrees.

Much of the data he trusts comes from the Case-Shiller Indexes. You can find them at: http://www.caseshiller.fiserv.com/indexes.aspx

Some lenders, and at least one of our most trusted and local Credit Unions, are now offering 100% financing. I received a brochure in the mail from OnPoint advertising this a week ago.

Buyers will likely not get the best interest rate if they go that route, but that option is available after being conspicuously absent for the last few years. Minimum credit scores have come down, and lenders are moving ever so gradually to open credit lending restrictions to make it easier to qualify for financing. It seems as though our in-house lender is announcing new credit options every other week at our office meetings.

If you applied for a loan a year ago and were denied, and you are employed and have been working in the same field for over two years, and you really want to buy a house, I would talk to a lender and try, try again. A lot has changed in a year. A lot has changed in three months!

There is something else too. We, in the real estate profession and you all, in other professions, have been hearing for years about a “shadow inventory” of foreclosed homes that banks are just sitting on. There have been many rumours about a tsunami of foreclosed home that will hit the market any minute now! True – there are many homes that are foreclosures still moving through the gambit to get to the market where they are available for purchase, but we have never seen the huge release that has been the topic of speculation and high hopes. But something has changed…

I am not seeing hundreds and hundreds of homes being released on to the market in ginormous batches, an event that would most certainly make any Realtor selling in inner Southeast and inner Northeast Portland giddy with excitement and racing for their eKeys to get in to take a look, but there are a few REO brokers who have received interesting phone calls from their lender-clients recently, telling them to release all 25-30 homes they have been assigned, now. That is new.

And another thing – foreclosures available on the market for purchase haven’t increased much, BUT, foreclosure activity by banks has skyrocketed to the highest level we’ve seen yet. That means that while we’re not seeing a giant dump of foreclosures coming on to the market right now, we are seeing small dumps, and we know there are many, many more to come. Maybe they’ll arrive in small batches, maybe not. No one can really say with any authority except the banks who hold them. We only know they are there and that their numbers will increase sharply over the next few years if the dramatic increase in foreclosure activity we are seeing is ‘successful.’

And we do know this: statistically, a whole bunch of foreclosures on the market tends to cause home prices to trend downward.

If you are thinking about selling, I would do it now, while there are relatively few foreclosures on the market to pull prices down, while the market is heating up and Buyers have fewer choices and more competition between them, before foreclosures hit the market in any larger numbers than we currently have. Do not wait until Summer when your flowers are blooming. As a Seller you want lots of competition between Buyers and you want eager Buyers who want to buy your house, right now.

Everyone is looking for a good deal. Sellers want the highest price they can get for their homes. Buyers want to purchase a property for as little as they have to spend. Buyers also want something else – they seem to prefer homes with history, in decent condition, with owners who had a connection to their neighborhood. Flips are great, but my Buyers seem to prefer houses owned by people who actually lived in them.

Buyers, you are out looking at one of the best times in recorded history. Soon-to-be Sellers, Brokers are so looking forward to your homes coming on the market! Sellers, you listed at a good time and I am enjoying showing your homes to my Buyers. You must have done your homework, realized the bubble is over and we’re moving on to a normalizing market, and decided to list your house. I just wish there were more of you!

Happy Househunting!

Amy Munsey, Broker, Realtor

Windermere Cronin and Caplan Realty Group, Inc.

(971) 258-5500

It IS Personal…

– This post is for those actively engaged in the search for their next home –

You’re looking and looking at houses, and maybe you’ve made an offer that wasn’t accepted for whatever reason. Maybe you are currently in contract.

Here are a few tips to remember to keep you sane:

1. Emotions Run High: House-buying and house-selling are stressful experiences. And stress can cause the folks to act in ways they otherwise would not. When the buying and the selling is over, things will go back to normal. In the mean time, it is important to remember that, while engaged in the process of buying or selling your home, the process itself is extraordinary and may cause you, and the other party, to feel elevated levels of stress. In other words, this is not how folks normally act. Expect stress-induced reactions. It will all be okay.

2. Depend on your Agent: Let’s pretend you are the Buyers: chances are good you don’t know the Sellers and you don’t know the listing agent. You will be depending on your agent to relay all communications between you and the Sellers, and to give you the ‘temperature’ of how negotiations are going. When you send paperwork off to your agent, to send to the Listing agent, that then goes off to the other party, the transaction will feel a little out-of-your-control. It is normal to feel this way. And it is normal to be very uncomfortable with this feeling.

You’ll ask your agent how things are going. It is her/his job to find the answer to that question for you. AND it is your agent’s job to refrain from sullying the process by communicating to you that the other party is being uncooperative, that the other agent isn’t doing a good job, etc. In reality, we cannot possibly know what is happening on the other side. That said, the most respectful position to take is that they have a lot going on that we do not know about, and that all parties (people) involved in the transaction are doing their very best. Always, always assume that and you will feel better about the transaction in its entirety. It’s a great big adventure and everyone is in it together.

3. Smooth Going: Agents have an ethical duty to do everything (legally) in their power to keep communication between the parties on good terms. I know a few agents who do not particularly care for one another personally, but who work beautifully together when it comes to their clients’ interests. That is good business and it is precisely what clients should expect from their agents in any real estate transaction. Agents ‘dissing’ other agents is a no-no for so many reasons, most important of which is that we run into each other over and over again in the course of business. In an effort to do all we can do for our clients, to the highest measure of quality, it is in everyone’s interest that we keep things on good terms.

4. Trust your gut but do ALL your inspections: If you are buying a house in Portland Oregon, chances are good that it has some history. The following inspections can save you a lot of money, and heartache, in the long run. Some may even save your life:

Home inspection: A good inspector will go over everything a new homeowner needs to know with the Buyer. It costs between $400-$500 for smaller homes, and more for larger homes and homes that have in ground pools and spas, but it will be the best money you spend. The inspector will go over the basic construction of the house, the mechanical and plumbing systems, some basic electrical, and give you a good description of the overall condition of the house.

Sewer lateral inspection: These cost around $100. Have that sewer connection to the street scoped, inspected, videotaped. The sewer connections of old were porous clay pipe. Later, they installed concrete pipe that was still porous. Portlanders love their trees and the City of Portland is pretty attached to them too. When trees are planted on top, or very near, porous sewer pipe you can imagine the good time they have when their roots detect a ready source of water and ‘fertilizer.’ The result is root intrusion (into the pipe) and often offset or just plain crushed sewer connections that may cause sewage to back up into the basement. And, according to the City of Portland, if the tree isn’t sick, it cannot be removed to make a repair. The replacement of a sewer connection, from house to street, is very expensive – in the thousands. I have had to pay for two, in previous houses. One replacement was over $7,000.

Radon test: Planning to finish that basement? Get a radon test. It costs around $200. Radon is a vapor that is a byproduct that results from the degradation of specific organic materials in the earth. With all the rain we get, it is easy to understand there is a lot of degradation going on. I had a client recently who asked me if the test was really necessary and who thought it might a waste of his money. When the results came back, the importance of that test was clear to him. He is very happy he had it done.

Oil Tanks: Even if the oil tank is no longer in use, get this test performed. This test costs around $200, maybe a little less. A leaking oil tank is considered an environmental hazard that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) takes very seriously. I once bought a house (in Portland’s Hawthorne District) that had been converted to natural gas long ago. It had a decommissioned oil tank in the back yard. The Sellers had a certificate showing the tank had indeed been decommissioned and we considered it good and didn’t have it tested when we bought the house. When we went to sell the house almost 7 years later, however, the Buyers had the soil around the tank tested and the earth around the tank was contaminated above allowable limits. We had to pay to re-decommission an oil tank we never used! It was very frustrating and cost more money that we were prepared to pay. Oil tanks have a high level of liability associated with them. It is better to be safe than sorry and the best way to achieve that, is to have it tested – in use or not.

If a problem is discovered during the home inspection, bring in an expert. If a problem with the roof is discovered, bring in a roofing expert to tell you how much it will cost to have the problem fixed. If a faulty electrical panel is pointed out, bring in an electrician to tell you how much the problem will cost to fix. I have used several of these experts and most provide estimates free of charge.

This all sounds like so much business, doesn’t it? Almost clinical. I am supposed to tell my clients that when they are buying or selling a house, that it isn’t personal. It is business. Well, I need to modify that a little.

It is personal because they are buying or selling a home. True. It isn’t personal between the Buyers and the Sellers. There is no spat between them. The negotiation itself is not personal. However, it is personal to each party, as individuals who have emotional stakes in the property.

So, I rephrase: it is personal, for you. And it is personal, for them. And because it is so personal, it is my job to make sure I do the best job I can to provide you, and the other party, with the most respectful process possible.

Want to talk houses? Give me a call! (971) 258-5500 or an email at www.amymunsey.com

Portland, Oregon Real Estate

Houses – Homes – Real Estate – Portland Oregon – Portlandia – Live in Portland Oregon

Buyers! You have so much going for you right now!!

I attended the weekly Windermere Meeting Wednesday morning and was happy to hear we’re having the best start-of-the-year, in terms of real estate activity, we’ve had in three years!

How so? We have more listings coming on, on, more Buyers coming out to look for their next homes, and more Buyers closing homes than we’ve had in a long time.

It is as if the New Year sparked something in people and they are coming out with positive attitudes and a readiness to make a change. I am very encouraged about 2012.

Interest rates are so low it makes your buying-dollar go far! The lower the interest rates, the more house you can afford to buy with the same amount of money. THe higher they go, the less house you can afford with the same amount of money.

Some neighborhoods, such as Irvington and Alameda, have price brackets in which there is very little home inventory available, and high demand for homes. In those categories, it’s a Seller’s market. If you have a house in either of these neighborhoods and you are thinking about selling, please call me! I’ve got Buyers who will love to take a look.

Other neighborhoods have more inventory, but prices are still low, and with interest rates being as low as they are, folks can get homes they can stay in a while.

What’s that?

What I mean is, they can buy larger houses, in better neighborhoods, that they will want to stay in for a while because they were able to buy larger and in great areas. And this means they will keep their houses with loans at low interest rates. The temptation to refinance or move in the near future will be tempered with the fact that they have their loans at super-low rates. Why on earth would you mess with a good set-up like that?

I wouldn’t.

I’ve been working with several sets of Buyers and Sellers who see the market for what is and have decided to go for it. Sellers see Buyers willing to buy, Buyers see a good selection of houses on the market to choose from, and it’s a good combination. Inner Southeast Portland is a particularly hot area right now. Selection is waning slightly and Buyers in their late 20s-early 30s want in. If you want to buy in Inner Southeast, it’s a great time.

So, let’s pretend you are a Buyer of mine. Here’s what I’ll tell you to do to make your offers stronger than the offers of your competition, and to weather the process with your positivity in tact:

1. Get prequalified with a lender. Better yet, get a full-approval from a lender. Sellers love to see this and there are a LOT of agents and brokers out there writing offers for clients who don’t even have a pre-approval. Sorry folks! That won’t happen with me. If Listing agents see an offer coming across their desks from me, they know my clients are pre-qualified or fully-approved for a loan. And that makes my clients’ offers very strong. And that means we can get the house for a better price.

2. Narrow your search. Drive around areas you’re thinking of looking in. Get out and walk around. Does it ‘feel’ like you? If it doesn’t, move on to the next neighborhood. You will need to be very attached to the area your next house will be in because when the home purchase is being negotiated, you may experience a lot of emotions. Being in the right neighborhood for you, will be one less thing to stress about.

3. Understand your own needs. The farther from Portland City Center you go, the more you get for your money. But that doesn’t mean farther-out-living is for you. If the City is where you want to be, stick to that. Selling a house because you don’t really like the location after all will cost you 6% with me. It’s expensive and it’s a pain. So why not get the house, in the area, you really love to begin with?

4. Know that making an offer on a house is a negotiation from the beginning. Rarely do Buyers make an offer on a house and that’s it. It’s accepted, just like that. There will likely be some going back and forth. IT ISN’T PERSONAL. That sounds like a no-brainer now. But when you get into the thick of it, the fact that it isn’t personal is more difficult to remember because it’s a home. If you know it’s a negotiation from the beginning, and you do your best to keep this in your mind, things will go much easier. The easier it goes for you as a Buyer, the easier it goes for everyone involved.

5. If you get upset and anxious, know that your real estate agent or broker will understand. It is completely normal to feel upset, anxious, worried, frustrated, even angry. If you don’t worry if this is the right decision, worry if you’re ready to make this move, worry that you aren’t choosing the right house, worry that you’re spending too much money, and worry that you will miss the place you currently live, your agent or broker should be worried. It’s a huge (awesome) decision. Trust me, your agent has heard it before. It’s okay. Go ahead and vent. They will listen. And if your agent is good, they’ll talk you down from the ledge. That is her/his job.

Other Tasty Tidbits…

* There is conventional financing available now with only 5% down for qualifying Buyers.

* Buyers – You do not pay your agent or broker. The Sellers pay the entire sales commission that is split between both the listing and selling agents.

* If you put less than 20% down, some loan products allow you to buy out the mortgage insurance at a discounted price. This can save you a lot of housepayment every month.

* Sellers! Just because one listing agent tells you they can sell your house for 5.5% commission instead of 6%, does not mean you will be getting better service, better marketing of your property, and thereby a better price for your house. Ask every listing agent you talk to, to give you examples of the marketing they are going to provide you. Examine their marketing strategy. It will be worth your time and money to do this!

Call me if you have any questions, comments, or if you want to know if folks are looking in your neighborhood. I’ve got some great statistics I’ll be happy to send you.

Amy Munsey, Realtor, Broker, SFR Certified

Windermere Cronin and Caplan Realty Group, Inc.

Amy@AmyMunsey.com

www.amymunsey.com

(971) 258-5500

Liveability – You Define It!

Here is a post I published earlier this year for my blog East Bay Real Estate. I think it was as interesting then as it is now.

Enjoy…

Define Livability. Seriously.

Now ask your friend to do the same thing…different answers, right? Surprised? Don’t be.

Livability is personal and difficult to quantify. Sure, there are measures such as cost-of-living indexes or salary-to-mortgage ratios. But do they really measure a place’s livability? My answer, my very personal answer, is no. They don’t.

Livability, to me, is:

Bikability/Walkability: It is easy to walk and bike to the places you want to visit. Maybe it’s a little longer ride that you want, but you can bike it and you can walk it if you have to…or want to.

Cafe’s and Restaurants: There are plenty of small cafe’s and restaurants to visit…that have free wi-fi…and that have great coffee, latte’s, and smaller baked goods. There is a variety of restaurants from the very inexpensive to shwanky, and everything in between. There are small specialty shops that sell crazy donuts and there are hidden away restaurants that not a lot of people visit.

Parks/Open Spaces: There are large parks and open spaces to hike, walk, bike, and sit in to enjoy. I prefer tall, mature trees with lush garden beds that create hidden grottos perfect for laying in the sun and reading a book.

Interesting People: There is a wide variety of people with a wide variety of interests who populate the city. Local art galleries, theaters, and small performance venues reflect this diversity. There are tattoos and piercings that run the range from sublime to bizarre. I prefer to live among those who are educated and who have travelled a bit.

Affordability: I can rent a decent house for a decent price and live a quality of life that allows me to take vacations to the places I want to see, visit the cafe’s and venues I love to enjoy, and to see live music as often as I can. I am not squeaking from one paycheck to the next all the time. I have a little financial room to breathe.

Creativity: I can live in an environment in which I feel creative and artistically stimulated. This means, to me anyway, that I am around others like me.

Garden-ability: The soil is decent and I can grow a beautiful garden and enjoy it year in and year out.

Bookstores: I love book stores. A variety of bookstores is key.

Fabric stores: I sew and it is important to me that I be able to buy cool fabric. Not from one single store, but from many sources.

This is my list. Notice that kids are conspicuously absent. That’s because my kids are grown and gone. My list reflects where I’m at in my life, right now.

Now make your own list.

Live-ability is the thing, the most important thing to think about when looking for that next home. Make your own list and carry it with you as you look at homes. Your list will be different for every stage of your life, which is why it is so important to make that list in the first place.