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Prices are up....does that mean a crash is inevitable?


I recently did a presentation focused on the ins and outs of being a first-time homebuyer but, as it does in every talk I give, the state of our current local market came up.

Prices in SW Washington are up 9.4% on average as compared to this time last year. And inventory* is at a 10-year low at 2.6 months (per MLS Market Report, March 2015). That's right, the last time our market inventory was this low was in 2005 as we were building up to the crash that saw so many homeowners end up "upside down"** on their mortgage in 2008.

So, are the high prices and low inventory sure signs that things are going to go downhill fast? Not according to Jonathon Smoke at

Based on his findings on a nationwide level there are several key differences indictating that the price increase should stick. You can read the full article here.

What does this mean for homeowners and future homeowners in SW Washington? Well, if you are considering selling your home now is a great time. Low inventory is resulting in multiple offers and short listing times throughout Clark County. If you would like to receive a free market analysis on the current market value of your home, I am more than happy to provide that via email.

If you are considering buying a home but are on the fence, now is the time to get off of that fence. The market is very competitive for buyers and "you snooze, you lose" is the law of the land right now. There are still deals to be found and as a Certified Negotiation Expert I am ready to help you find them and make your homeowner dreams a reality.

I'm happy to answer any questions via phone or email.


*Inventory in months tells you how many months it would take for all the current homes for sale on the market to sell.

**Upside down in reference to a home mortgage means the balance due on the mortgage is more than the current market value on the home.

Your 2015 Farmers Market Guide


With the official start of spring, it's time to welcome back our local Farmers Markets. We in the Pacific Northwest are blessed with an abundance of locally grown foods and artisans who populate a number of local Farmers Markets. Get and enjoy what our great community has to offer and remember to *shop local and eat fresh.*

Clark County


Vancouver Farmers Market @ Esther Short Park

Beginning March 21

Saturdays 9:00am - 3:00pm, Sundays 10:00am - 3:00pm


Battle Ground Village Outdoor Market

May 2 - September 26

Saturdays 10:00am - 3:00pm​

Adjacent to Village Square and Battle Ground Community Library


Camas Farmers Market in Historic Downtown Camas

June 3 - September 30

Wednesdays 3:00pm - 7:00pm


The Ridgefield Farmers Market @ Davis Park

Beginning May 2

Saturdays 9:00am to 2:00pm


Salmon Creek Farmers Market @ Legacy Hospital

Beginning June 23

Tuesdays 11:00am - 3:00pm


Salmon Creek Farmers Market

Beginning July 9

Thursdays 3:00pm - 7:00pm

Behind Kitchen Table and Wayside Market on NE 134th Street


Portland Metro and Beyond


Portland Farmers Market @ Portland State University


Saturdays Mar-Oct: 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Saturdays Nov-Feb: 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

SW Park Ave & SW Montgomery St


Click here for additional locations of the Portland Farmers Market


Beaverton Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8 - 1:30 (9am Oct-Nov) May - November

Wednesdays, 3 - 6 Mid June - August

Winter Market: 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 10 - 1:30 February - April

Hall Blvd, between 3rd & 5th Sts


Cedar Mill Sunset Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 8 - 1 Mid May -  October

NW Cornell, 1 block West of Murray across from Sunset High School


Clackamas Sunnyside Grange Farmers' & Artists' Market

Sundays, 11 - 3 Year Round

13100 SE Sunnyside Rd at 132nd Ave.


Estacada Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 10 - 2 May - October

3rd & Broadway St.


Fairview Farmers' & Artist Market

Thursdays, 3 - 8 April – First weekend in October

Fairview City Hall, 1300 Village St.


Forest Grove & Adelante Mujeres Farmers Market

Wednesday, 4 - 8 (7pm mid September - mid October) Mid May - Mid October

21st Avenue, between College & Main


Gresham Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8:30 - 2 Mid May - October

3rd Street between Main and Miller


Gresham Saturday Market 

Saturdays, 9 - 3:30 Mid May - October

440 NW Burnside (K-Mart parking lot)


Hillsboro Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8 - 1:30 May - October

Courthouse Square, 2nd & East Main


Hillsboro Farmers' Market at Orenco Station

Sundays, 10:00 - 2:00 May - October

61st & Cornell Road


Hillsboro Farmers' Market at Tuality

Thursdays, 11 - 1:30 July - August

Tuality Campus, Baseline/8th Ave.


Hillsboro Tuesday Marketplace

Tuesdays, 5 - 8:30 Mid June - August

Courthouse Square Main St., 1st to 3rd Ave.


Hillsdale Farmers' Market

Sundays, 10 - 2 May - November Twice a month, December - April

SW Sunset Road & SW Capitol Hwy 1407 SW Vermont


Hollywood Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 8 - 1 (9am October - November) May - November

1st & 3rd Saturdays, 9 - 1 December - Apri

NE Hancock between 44th & 45th, One block South of Sandy


Irvington Farmers Market

Sundays, 10:30 - 2:30 June - First weekend in October

NE 16th & Broadway


Lake Oswego Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 8:30 - 1:30 Mid May - Mid October

Millennium Park, 1st & Evergreen


Lloyd Farmers Market

Tuesdays, 10 - 2 Year round (except for Tuesday between 12/25 and 1/1)

NE Holladay St. Between 7th and 9th


Milwaukie Sunday Farmer's Market

Sundays, 9:30 - 2 May - October

SE Main across from City Hall


Montavilla Farmers Market

Sundays, 10 - 2 June -  October

7600 block of SE Stark St.


Moreland Farmers Market

Wednesdays, 3 - 7 Mid May - September

SE Bybee and SE 14th St.


OHSU Farmers Market

Tuesdays, 10 - 3 June - September

OHSU Auditorium Courtyard (near the fountain).


Oregon City Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 9 -2 May - October

Clackamas County Public Service Parking Lot. 2051 Kaen Rd. at Beavercreek Rd


Parkrose Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8-1 May - October

Wednesdays, 2-7 July - September

12505 NE Halsey


People's Farmers Market

Wednesdays, 2-7 Year-round market

3029 SE 21st Avenue, one block north of Powell Blvd.


Sandy Public Market

1st and 3rd Saturdays, 10 -3 June - September

Centennial Plaza (Pioneer Blvd. & Meinig Ave.)


Sherwood Saturday Market

Saturdays, 9-1 May - September

Pine St. between 1st and Railroad


South Waterfront Farmers Market

Thursdays, 2 - 7 June - October

Elizabeth Caruthers Park, 3508 SW Moody Ave


St. Johns Farmers' Market

Saturdays, 9 - 2 Last weekend in May - October

St Johns Plaza at N. Lombard & N. Philadelphia


Sunnyside Farmers Market

Saturdays, 10-3 Mid May - Mid October

132nd and Sunnyside Road, Happy Valley Sunnyside Foursquare Church Parking Lot


Tigard Area Farmers Market

Sundays, 9 -2 Mid May (Mother's Day) – October

8777 SW Burham Street Corner of Hall and Burham


The Bull Mountain Farmers Market

Sundays, 9 -2 Mid May (Mother's Day) - October

Canterbury Square 14389 SW Pacific Hwy Tigard


Troutdale Farmers' and Artists' Market

Saturdays, 10 - 2 Year - Round

551 E.Columbia River Highway


Tualatin Farmers Market

Fridays, 4-8 June - August

On the Tualatin Commons, 7880 SW Nyberg St.


West Linn Farmers Market

Wednesdays, 5 -8 Mid June - Mid August

Willamette Falls Drive between 10th and 14th Street


Woodstock Farmers Market

Sundays, 10 -2 June - October

SE Woodstock & 46th


If you have $500k to spend...


If you're home-shopping in the half mil range, you can find some pretty sweet deals in Clark County. But what about across the rest of the United States?

What $500k buys in five US cities

Meanwhile in SW WA, take your pick!


Turn of the century Victorian on a double lot in downtown Vancouver $474,900




Custom ranch with three outdoor entertaining areas $519,900








A private 20-acre estate in Camas $525,000





Brand new craftsman in Washougal $469,950





Panoramic views of the Columbia River and Mt Hood $525,000



Don’t have a budget of $500,000? Fear not! I can find what you’re looking for. Let’s start searching for your dream home today.

Housing Market to "Spring Forward"


Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward”! Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong and is currently three times stronger than last year at this time.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2014 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2015, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

Original article at KCM Blog.

VA loan closing costs: An added benefit



Besides the advantage of requiring no down payment for qualified VA borrowers, there's also a distinct advantage for the borrower regarding closing costs. The veteran is limited to the types of closing costs that may be paid, helping the veteran save money at the closing table. But if there are costs associated with a VA mortgage and the veteran isn't allowed to pay for them, who does?

The Types
A common way to remember which costs a veteran is allowed to pay for is to remember the acronym ACTORS. That stands for:
A Appraisal
C Credit Report
T Title Insurance
Origination Fee
R Recording Fee
S Survey

These are common charges found on most every VA mortgage and while they can vary a bit by amount; these fees are the ones that can be paid for by the veteran. But what about these charges?
Tax Service

These fees, and others, are example of charges that the veteran is not allowed to pay. Even though the VA lender requires a processing and an underwriting fee in order to approve the VA loan, the veteran may not pay for these charges and any other fee deemed "non-allowable." So if the veteran can't pay them, who does?

The Seller Can
Non-allowed closing costs can be paid by the seller of the property and is typically the initial method of dealing with such charges. As part of a sales contract, the buyer can say, "We'll pay you $200,000 for this home as long as you pay for $3,000 in closing costs."

Paying for a buyer's closing costs is considered a seller concession, and is limited to four percent of the sales price of the home. If a home sells for $200,000, then the seller can only pay $8,000 of the buyer's costs.
Such concessions can be used to pay for the buyer's VA funding fee, loan costs, property taxes and insurance among others.
Such concessions can be used to pay for the buyer's VA funding fee, loan costs, property taxes and insurance among others.

The Agent Might
A real estate agent representing the buyer can contribute toward closing costs in the form of a credit at the closing table. Real estate agent commissions are paid for by the seller of the property and typically represented as a percentage of the sales price.
When a real estate agent brings a buyer to a seller and there are two agents, the listing agent and the selling agent, the commission is typically split between both agents. If the sales commission is six percent, each agent gets three percent each for their services. Some states don't allow the practice of an agent contributing toward a buyer's closing costs so check to see if it's okay in your area.

The Lender Can
The lender can offset part or all closing costs with a lender credit. Lenders can offer a credit to a borrower by adjusting the borrower's interest rate. It's like paying a point to get a lower interest rate but in reverse.
For example, a VA borrower applies for a 30 year fixed rate VA mortgage and is offered a 3.75 percent rate. The lender offers the buyer a lower rate if the buyer pays one point, or one percent of the loan amount. The choice is 3.75 with no points or 3.50 with one point.

In the other direction, the lender can offer 3.75 percent with no points and 4.00 percent with one point credit to the borrower. On a $200,000 loan, the lender can increase an interest rate by about one-quarter of one percent and the borrower gets a $2,000 credit toward closing fees.

The Borrower Can
The seller can pay, an agent can pay, the lender can pay but the borrower also has one more way to pay non-allowable closing costs. Recall that an origination fee is an allowable charge. An origination fee is represented as one percent of the loan amount.

In lieu of charging the borrower non-allowed fees, the lender can charge a one percent origination fee instead of itemized non-allowable charges for things such as attorney or underwriting charges.
Closing costs on VA loans are indeed a different breed compared to FHA or conventional loans, especially with regard to who is responsible for any particular fee. If there are any questions about who pays for what, those questions should be asked directly to your loan officer. VA costs can be confusing, there's no need for them to be.

Original article via

VA Home Loan: Do You Have What it Takes?



In order to obtain a VA home loan, you must first fill out VA Form 26-1880, the request for your Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate is issued only through the Veterans Administration, and is the first step towards applying for your loan. Veterans, active duty, guard or reserve, and military spouses potentially qualify for this certificate. Keep in mind that the Certificate of Eligibility, while necessary, only allows an eligible individual to apply for a home loan; it does not guarantee a loan approval.

Eligibility for the Certificate is based on an individual's (or a spouse's) military service. Congress establishes eligibility with strict guidelines. Here are five common categories of those who normally qualify for a Certificate of Eligibility:
Wartime - Service During:
WWII: 9/16/1940 to 7/25/1947
Korean: 6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955
Vietnam: 8/5/1964 to 5/7/1975

You must have at least 90 days on active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If you served less than 90 days, you may be eligible if discharged for a service connected disability.
Peacetime - Service during periods:
7/26/1947 to 6/26/1950
2/1/1955 to 8/4/1964
5/8/1975 to 9/7/1980 (Enlisted)
5/8/1975 to 10/16/1981 (Officer)

You must have served at least 181 days of continuous active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If you served less than 181 days, you may be eligible if discharged for a service connected disability.

Service after 9/7/1980 (enlisted) or 10/16/1981 (officer)
If you were separated from service which began after these dates, you must have:
Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 181 days) for which you were ordered or called to active duty and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
Completed at least 181 days of active duty and been discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1171 (Early Out), or have been determined to have a compensable service-connected disability;
Been discharged with less than 181 days of service for a service-connected disability. Individuals may also be eligible if they were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances for the convenience of the Government.

Gulf War - Service during period 8/2/1990 to date yet to be determined
If you served on active duty during the Gulf War, you must have:
Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
Completed at least 90 days of active duty and been discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1173 (Early Out), or have been determined to have a compensable service-connected disability, or
Been discharged with less than 90 days of service for a service-connected disability. Individuals may also be eligible if they were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances, for the convenience of the Government.

Active Duty Service Personnel
If you are now on regular duty (not active duty for training), you are eligible after having served 181 days (90 days during the Gulf War) unless discharged or separated from a previous qualifying period of active duty service.

Selected Reserves or National Guard
If you are not otherwise eligible and you have completed a total of 6 years in the Selected Reserves or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and 2-week active duty for training) and
Were discharged with an honorable discharge, or
Were placed on the retired list, or
Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable service, or
Continue to serve in the Selected Reserves
Individuals who completed less than 6 years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.

You may also be determined eligible if you:
Are an unremarried spouse of a veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability, or
Are a spouse of a serviceperson missing in action or a prisoner of war
Note: Also, a surviving spouse who remarries on or after attaining age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible for the home loan benefit. However, a surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, must apply no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. VA must deny applications from surviving spouses who remarried before December 6, 2003 that are received after December 15, 2004.

Eligibility may also be established for:
Certain United States citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in WW II.
Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with WW II service, and others.

Original article via

Using VA Loan Entitlements for the Second Time



The VA home loan benefit is one of the most valuable of all benefits issued to our service members. The program itself is based upon a qualifying veteran's initial entitlement, currently $36,000. The VA guarantees all VA loans up to four times the existing entitlement, or $144,000. For loan amounts above $144,000, the VA guarantee is one-fourth of the loan amounts up to $417,000, higher in areas deemed "high cost."

When a veteran applies for a VA mortgage, one of the first steps is to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility or COE from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. The COE is a document that validates the borrower's eligibility to receive a VA loan but also includes the amount of entitlement available. What may not always be clear is that the veteran can take advantage of their VA home loan benefit over and over again, as long as part or all of their entitlement is still available. How does that work?

Say that a veteran takes out a VA home loan a few years ago and soon rates begin to fall. By lowering the interest rate on the mortgage, the borrower can reduce their mortgage payment, saving money on interest payments.
When a VA loan is paid off, the original entitlement amount is restored. Refinancing a VA home loan does in fact retire the existing home loan then immediately follows up with a new loan, replacing the original.

For example, the original loan amount is $300,000 and the borrower used all of the entitlement available of $36,000. Rates drop and the existing loan has vanished; it's paid off at the settlement table by the new loan. The entitlement is restored, and then used again with the new VA refinance in place.

When the home is sold, retiring the existing VA mortgage, the entitlement is also restored. The veteran may then decide to use his entitlement again to buy another property or consider using a conventional loan to buy and finance a home.

It's not uncommon for a VA borrower to first use a VA mortgage to buy a home then elect to finance the next home with a conventional loan. VA loans require no money down from the borrower, and while that's certainly an attractive feature, VA loans also have a funding fee which can be as high as 3.3 percent for some borrowers. On a $200,000 loan, that's an additional $6,600 added to the loan.

If the first time VA borrower's home has appreciated over the years the equity in the old house can be used as a down payment for a new one, financed with a conventional loan with 20 percent down.

Partial Entitlement
Now let's look at how entitlement may be partially used. Remember that the VA guarantee is 25 percent of the loan amount up to $144,000. Say that a borrower buys a condo for $85,000. The VA guarantee is 25 percent of that amount, or $21,250.

If the original entitlement is $36,000, the veteran in this example would have $36,000 - $21,250 = $14,750. There is still $14,750 in available home loan benefit to the veteran to use in the future. If the veteran later decides to keep the condo and rent it out, and use a zero down VA home loan for another purchase, the maximum VA loan would then be four times $14,750, or $59,000.

VA loans have a unique feature called an assumption. VA loans are assumable by third parties. An assumed loan keeps its original characteristics such as rate and term but the buyer simply "takes over" the existing VA loan.

Someone who assumes a VA loan must still qualify for the mortgage using standard underwriting guidelines such as qualifying credit and income. When someone assumes an existing VA loan, the loan is not retired and the entitlement is not restored.

The buyer who assumes an existing VA mortgage must refinance that loan in the future before the veteran's entitlement is reinstated.

Original article via

Location, location, location!



Eight Ways to Store Your Christmas Decorations from Real Simple


Time to take down the trimmings? Clever storage will keep things organized and safe.


Read the article here.

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