Why Your Lender Matters

Why does it matter who you choose as your lender?

At Neighborhood Works, we value relationships and strengthening community. To help empower our clients, we think holistically about the entire process of buying and selling. For most of us, putting money down on a home represents the single largest financial investment we make. Of course, a major part of any home-buying experience is your mortgage. After all, without money, you won’t get far, especially in Portland’s tight market. 

When you choose a lender, you may think the final numbers are the most important piece of the puzzle. And while rates and pre-approvals certainly do matter, your mortgage provider is another in the long line of relationships which can make or break your housing search. As such, it’s critical to consider the WHO behind this part of your experience. 

Michael Knapp at River Capital has closed nearly 2,500 residential loans in the Portland metro area since 1996. What matters most, he says, is the relationship. “The entirety of a client’s situation is important. That’s why we start with a conversation, preferably eye-to-eye.” Over the course of the home-buying process, there are ups and downs, and just as you want a realtor who is responsive, the same is true with regards to a mortgage. You need to trust the people working to find your funding.

It’s likely that you’ve received a sales pitch or direct mail from a major bank offering low rates. Are these a good option? Maybe, but they often lack personal service. As Melissa Guthrie with Gold Star Financial in Portland points out, mortgage lenders can work with multiple banks, searching the best programs for each client. One loan may work for your neighbor, but won’t be best for you. “It helps to have a lender that will look at a borrower’s complete financial picture and help tailor a loan specific to their needs, “ Guthrie says. She goes on to note that quality is more important to her than quantity, and her goal as a lender is to be a partner and an advocate. Knapp echoes these sentiments: “For every client, we want to know the outcome of every scenario before any of them come to life.” 

James Adair, with the PDX Home Loan Team, focuses on educating his clients so they can make the best long-term decisions. “Mortgages are so much more than simple rates and fees,” he says. His team looks not only at rates and fees, but tax benefits, real estate value over time, and other aspects that can affect how a specific loan will work for a specific property and/or client.  

In every part of the real estate process, it’s important to have a personal connection, a place of trust. At Neighborhood Works, relationships are vital to our success and yours. We’ve worked with Michael, Melissa and James, and are happy to connect you with them if you are interested in buying or re-financing. Thanks for reading!

Michael Knapp: http://rivercapitalpdx.com
Melissa Guthrie: http://www.bestfitfinance.com/Default.aspx
James Adair: http://www.pdxhomeloan.com

How to Compete in a Seller’s Market

How can you compete in a seller’s market?

Many buyers have become frustrated by Portland’s fast-moving market, especially customers looking in the under $500,000 range.  Here are some tactics that can help you get a house that will work for you:

  • Buy during the “off season.” Typically our market here in Portland slows down after July 4th.  We often see a little surge right after Labor Day, but as we move closer to the holidays, the market slows again. We especially are witnessing this now with people feeling uncertain after the election; given the surprising results, some will put their house-buying on hold. Even before the election, we noticed listings going through price reductions and sitting on the market for weeks instead of days. Given the current situation, now is a very good time to buy, especially as the market forecast is for prices to continue their increase in spring 2017. 
  • Don’t go for the “perfect house” - if you consider houses that don’t have traditional floor plans, lack awesome curb appeal, or need some cosmetic updating, you will have fewer people bidding against you.  That perfectly staged, adorable house will likely have several offers.  Think about being flexible and willing to make some changes to a house to get what you want and need from it.
  • Look in outlying areas. For a long time, the boundary lines for people in Inner SE or Inner NE were very narrow.  With soaring rents and increasing sales prices, those lines have adjusted to include neighborhoods like Foster/Powell, Brentwood/Darlington, Parkrose, Cully and Woodlawn.  These neighborhoods have plenty to offer - vibrant communities with a mix of renovated houses and fixers, improving schools, and appealing shops and restaurants.
  • Be prepared and market yourself as a buyer. We can assist you in getting all of your financial ducks in a row so that you have a strong pre-approval letter to present with the offer. We work with several mortgage lenders who offer great buyer support and different financing options. 
  • Draft a personal letter that talks about who you are and why you are buying a house. A surprising amount of bidding wars are won on an emotional decision.  Knowing who is buying their house makes sellers feel more confident about the transaction.
  • Be flexible and creative with your offer. We will walk you through these steps and different options. Shortening the inspection period, flexibility with your closing date - these are just a few of the options we can use to sweeten your offer.

Don’t let this seller’s market hold you back from jumping in - now is a great time to buy, so give us a call and let us help. We think of it as a challenge, and are always excited to find our clients their best home!

State of the Portland Market, Fall 2016

One of the most common questions people ask about the current Portland market is, “When’s the best time to buy or sell?”

Based on our market trends over the last 3 years, we have seen significant price increases indicating a strong seller’s market, and in recent months, the patterns have remained consistent. For sellers, the spring continues to be the best time to list, with some houses seeing upwards of 20 offers. Houses that garner the most bids tend to be ”done,” which means move-in ready, tastefully updated, and located in hot neighborhoods, or houses priced at or below $400,000.

Traditionally, the spring season has been March-July, but the last few years we have seen the market pick up shortly after New Years and remain competitive until mid-June (when school lets out). Don’t let that discourage you if you are a buyer because there are some options to get a great house without being part of the frenzy.

This summer calmed down a few weeks before July 4, which used to be the threshold date for slower market conditions. This enabled buyers to get in houses and have enough time to think about their options before a house went sale pending.  It also allowed for some price negotiations if the conditions were right. Conditions that typically allowed for negotiations in this seller’s market include light cosmetic fixers, non-traditional floor plans or styles, location, and certain anomalies (for example, a lot split with new in-fill construction). As buyers, if you have the ability and patience to deal with some of these conditions, you may find yourself getting a good deal on a house.  Again, timing is important! Typically, there is less competition from July to December, but also decreased inventory. That said, we encourage people who want to avoid the stress of bidding wars to consider buying in the late summer and fall months, leading into the holidays.

Look for our next blog, How to land that home as a buyer! in the next newsletter. Can’t wait? Call us! We are always happy to talk about the market and share the strategies that have worked for our buyers and sellers. 

NWorks Buyer's Home Featured in Portland Monthly Design Article

A home our clients bought last year was featured in the most recent Portland Monthly Design Annual's cover story, "10 Amazing New Homes."  The feature on the Passive House reads:

Architect Rob Hawthorne and builder Bart Bergquist believe there's a market for midpriced infill homes that produce as much electricity as they use. So far, so good. Their 2010 CoreHaus - the first residence in Portland to earn certification as a "Passive House," the airtight, überefficient system pioneered in Germany - quickly found a buyer. So too their TrekHaus, a pair of attached town houses that, after year two, are producing an average of 14 kilowatt hours of electricity and using only nine daily. Their latest, the 02Haus, is a smartly designed Passive House duplex that employs all the necessary gizmos to send equal amounts of power back to the grid: triple-glazed tilt-and-turn windows, a heat pump system, heat recovery ventilators. But with touches like LED lighting that splash the living areas with color, Hawthorne and Bergquist are finding the fun within the technocracy of green building. And they're finding buyers, too: the 02Haus sold before it was completed. 

Atlas Scoops Gelato Cart Opening in Sellwood

"My wife and I (and daughter Atlas) have lived in Sellwood for more than four years, and we were sad to see Staccato Gelato close shop in Westmoreland two years ago," says Randy Schulman. After some consideration and planning, the Schulman family is happy to announce that they're bringing Staccato Gelato back to Sellwood via their own business, Atlas Scoops. Atlas Scoops is slated to open in for the 4th of July and will be located on the grassy area behind Sock Dreams at Nehalem and 13th Ave., across from Grand Central Bakery.  They'll also serve Dry Soda.  Randy adds, "We're creating a simple, outdoor atmosphere – and who knows, maybe we'll even project Silent Movies!"

Portland's Jr. Rose Parade

The Rose Festival Fred Meyer Junior Parade took place Wednesday June 4 in Portland's Hollywood District.  It is the oldest and largest children's parade in nation with local marching bands, school groups, scouts, children's organizations and activities.  Our kids along with parents and grandparents marched with Portland Chinese Lessons group as their debut in the parade this year.  Everyone wore shirts with Chinese characters they designed themselves and carried either red dragon parasols or parasols with the Ying-Yang symbol.  It was awesome to be out in the sun and celebrate and support this Portland tradition!  Ni hao!

New Bookstore in Town

As Jarrett and I dropped off  keys and a housewarming gift at our client's place of business on Hawthorne, we were immediately drawn in by the huge selection of antique books.  We are both avid readers and lover of books new and old.  What a treat it is to have Marilyn Stablein and Gary Wilke bring their book business from New Mexico up to Portland and right in our SE neighborhood!  Although they will be calling their new house on NE Hancock home, their book business resides in an old house just east of Ceasar Chavez at 3941 SE Hawthorne.  It's called Anthology Booksellers - check it out and be sure to welcome Marilyn and Gary to Portland!

You can also visit their website at http://www.acequiabooksellers.com/shop/acequia/index.html

Sunnyside Sunflower

On Saturday, May 24th friends and neighbors worked together to repaint the Sunflower on the intersection of SE Yamhill and 33rd.  Kids and adults got busy and helped bring back the vibrant colors of the flower that has become a neighborhood icon and sometimes referred to as the Sunnyside Piazza.  The sun was shining, food was consumed, songs were sung and paint was rolled!  Truly a community effort!