Three Things

OMG, do not try to sell your home by yourself! Poor Picard.
The Most Valuable Homebuyer Tax Credit Nobody Is Talking About

My mortgage friends Christine Hall and Vince Kingston reminded me about the MCC tax credit. So why aren’t more first-time homebuyers being told about the MCC tax credit?!

It’s the most valuable tax credit in the country and it never expires as long as the borrower remains in the home & the loan!

The MCC program is a homebuyer assistance program designed to help lower‐income families afford homeownership. The program allows home buyers to claim a dollar‐for‐dollar tax credit for a portion of mortgage interest paid per year, up to $2,000.

Are you working with another agent? A ramble on REALTOR® Ethics and Agency

I have to ask this every time someone calls me, in an open house, or when I follow a lead to a potential client. Sounds odd, right? Why wouldn’t I just jump on a potential and try to get their business. After all, they called me instead of their agent for a reason, right?

Well… yes, but… no.

You see, I can’t.

It’s not illegal or anything, but it’s crummy.

REALTORS™ are supposed to work under the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice. It’s a long, exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts that can be equally summarized with the words that I hope everyone lives by: Don’t Be A Jerk.

I’m not a jerk.
I hope.
I run my business in non-jerky ways, at least.

Stealing clients is crummy and I don’t do it. What I do, however, in response to a caller that already has an agent, is say, “Honestly, I’m not going to be able to find anything more than your agent does when she searches for you through RMLS. Since you said that you’re not getting the results you want, you may want to talk to your agent about expanding your parameters and maybe go up in price or further out in location. It was great talking to you, bye bye.” If I’m feeling particularly benevolent that day, I’ll even call the agent and give them a heads up to do some client education.

When can I work with someone else’s client? 1) If I have the agent’s permission, say if I am helping with her business when she’s on holiday or in a jam or 2) if the client is no longer wanting to work with her agent and “fires” her. That means that she’s not in an Agency Relationship anymore and isn’t someone else’s client.

I like 2 better, though never want to be the reason an Agency Relationship is severed. Karma, you know?

There’s a very subtle emphasis on “Agency Relationship” up there. What’s that all about? You know that paper I give or email you when we meet? It’s called something fancy like INITIAL AGENCY DISCLOSURE PAMPHLET and is about three pages long. I tell you, when I do it, that I am instructed by the state to give it to you to explain how this client/agent thing is supposed to work. It’s true. The great State of Oregon says that I need to give you that paper at the first reasonable contact, be it by phone, email, or in-person so that you know about our legal relationship. It isn’t like we’re getting married, but it is important for you to know. If an agent doesn’t give you that piece of paper, that should be a tip-off that there may be an issue.

How’s it work?
Having an agency relationship means that I work for you, kind of like an employee. My job is to be honest and timely, to disclose what I know, obey your lawful instructions, keep your confidence, direct you to an expert if a matter is not in my area of expertise, and fulfill my Fiduciary Obligation to you.

As your “employee”, it’s my JOB to take care of your money, even though getting more money out of you in the contract is to my benefit because my commission goes up. It’s my job to make sure that you keep as much of your money as possible. It’s the other agent’s job to make sure that her client keeps as much of his money as possible. We help you negotiate the terms of your contract so we meet somewhere in the middle of everyone protecting her clients’ money, if possible. Again, I’ll say it: it does not matter that when the selling price of the house goes up, I make more money. It’s my JOB to keep money in your pocket.

I like to think that I’m pretty good at it because I know that buying and selling a house means that you’re hemorrhaging money for a couple months. I don’t want you to bleed out. I promise. I really don’t. Blood scares me. Dollar bills sitting on the table scare me.

That’s a BIG job.
It requires a lot of ethical behavior and a trustworthy mindset.

Ethical, trustworthy people don’t steal other agents’ clients. That’s why I ask, right up front, if you’re working with another agent. If you are, I can’t talk to you about real estate unless you terminate your relationship with the other guy, first. Them’s ‘da rulez.

Want to read that NAR Code of Ethics? I warn you, it’s totally boring.

Want to read a sample Agency Pamphlet? You can download a copy here.

What Do You Think About When I Say July 4th?

Probably fireworks, right?

Okay, maybe you think about barbeques, pool parties, or parades first.

The point is, the first thought for most people isn’t about the nitty-gritty that we’re actually celebrating — our independence as a nation.

Deep down, we all know that’s what it’s all about. And we respect it. But, we’re also human. Who can blame us for enjoying our freedom watching fireworks, without giving all that much thought about everything our founding fathers did to get us here?

So it is in real estate…
There’s a lot of focus on the “fireworks” in real estate. The big, glorious, flashy, exciting moments. Like…

  • The moment your house first hits the market.
  • Seeing the pictures of your house all over the Internet.
  • Throngs of people walking through your first open house.
  • Receiving offers from buyers…maybe even multiple offers.
  • Going under contract.
  • Walking into “the” house, and falling in love with it.
  • Making an offer on the house you love, and having it accepted.
  • Closing on the sale or purchase of your home.

All really exciting “firework” moments.
But they’re not the full story. There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes in order to get to those fun, celebratory moments. A lot of thought, knowledge, skill, and work… Not necessarily fun, or sexy stuff. But it’s all important. It’s all necessary to get to those exciting “fireworks” moments.

Not that the behind the scenes stuff should be something you think about. As a consumer, you should enjoy the glorious moments. Leave the nitty-gritty to me.

Just know that there’s more to it than the “fireworks” you want to see when you buy or sell a house.

How’s the Market?

JUNE 30th, 2020

Week of June 22nd, 2019 through June 28th, 2019 – 771 homes were sold – up from 687 during the week before (last year)

Week of June 22nd, 2020 through June 28th, 2020

Homes Sold: 571 – up from 515 last week – 10.9% Increase vs last week

Active Listings: 3686 – down from 3728 last week – 1.1% Decrease vs last week

New Pending Deals: 798 up from 784 last week – 1.8% Increase vs last week

Total number of pending deals today is 4494 up from 4372 last week – 2.7% Increase vs last week

Withdrawn 60 up from 52 last week

Average Sale Price vs List Price Percentage – 100.21%

Median Sale Price vs List Price Percentage – 100.93%

Average Sale Price vs Original List Price Percentage – 99.23%

Lockbox Activity

Oregon down 0.1% (22,931)

Washington up 1.9% (4132)

Throwing a GREAT Summer BBQ

Throwing a Great Summer BBQ

The season for pool parties, block parties and friendly barbecues is here. 

Are you planning a fun summer BBQ or get-together this year? Here’s how to make it a great one:

  • Keep it cool. Stock up on fans, fill up coolers with cold drinks, and crank up the A/C. Clean the pool if you have one.
  • Prep for bugs. Bugs can kill a party’s vibe instantly. Invest in bug zappers, citronella candles and a few cans of bug spray.
  • Have options. Burgers and hot dogs are always a solid choice, but make sure to have a few options for vegetarians, vegans and kiddos, too.
  • Stay safe. Remember social distancing and masks if you’re going to be with people that don’t live with you. Have a hose ready for fireworks accidents and a bucketful of water to quench the ashes.

Queue up these games to keep your guests entertained:

  • Improvise a horseshoe pitch using hula hoops and PVC pipe. It’s kid-friendly, too!
  • Use small trash cans and a soccer ball to play life-size bowling.
  • Create a life-size Jenga by cutting lumber (2-by-4s) into 54 8-inch pieces. Bonus activity: Get out colored Sharpies and let your guests leave a note on the Jenga blocks.

Cheers to a great party!

Red Flags to Watch for on a Showing

Not every showing will turn out to be “the one.” 

Want to make sure you don’t make an offer on a dud property? Watch for these red flags:

  • Signs of poor care/maintenance. If there are obvious signs of poor maintenance, you can bet there are deeper, less visible ones, too.
  • Strange smells or odors. These can indicate pets, rotting food, mold or mildew (some of which can be dangerous!)
  • Bad neighbors. Trash on the yard next door? Cars all over the street? These all point to potentially bad neighbors.

Make sure to bring ME along with you, even for open houses. I’ll make sure no red flags go unnoticed.

Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?

It may seem tempting to try to and repair a garage door yourself. It certainly may be the less expensive option and may appear to be an invigorating challenge. There is a lot to consider, though, before breaking out the toolbox instead of breaking out the telephone to call a professional.

1)What skills does the repair require?
2)What tools does the repair require?
3)What time commitment will the repair require?
4)What does your warranty allow?

In particular, here are five repairs you may encounter that we highly recommend you hire a professional to handle for your own safety and the proper operation of your door.