VA Financing Basics – Part 2 of my series on What Buyer & Sellers need to know about Financing

VA FinancingThis week I’m going to focus on what VA appraisers look for and the key elements to be considered. Every VA loan requires properties to undergo a VA appraisal & meet Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs).

This is to ensure the structural integrity, safety & soundness of properties being purchased.

If you’re considering purchasing a home using VA financing or as a Seller you want your property to be considered as a viable option to VA buyers, you’ll want to consider these major MPRs.

  1. VA Financed properties must be Residential: If any portion of the home is designed for non-residential purposes such as a home based business (hair salon, dog grooming, auto shop), that part cannot exceed 25% of the total floor area.
  2. Operating systems must be safe and have a reasonable useful life expectancy. Be sure there are GCIF outlets in the kitchen and bath, all electrical and plumbing systems are good operating condition.
  3. All properties must have adequate living areas that provide suitable living, sleeping, cooking and sanitary areas.
  4. Heating systems must be adequate and safe. In our area many homes rely on woodburning stoves as their primary source of heat, for VA they must also have a conventional heating system that can maintain a temperature of 50 degrees Farenheit. Also unvented methods of heating, such as a space heater must be inspected by a heating professional, have an oxygen sensor and meet all building codes.
  5. A domestic water supply that provides safe drinking water & safe way of sewage disposal. You must have domestic HOT water as well.
  6. Roof conditions cannot be defective or have more than 3 layers of shingles, if this is discovered all old shingles must be removed prior to replacement. Roofing must be adequate and provide reasonable useful life expectancy.
  7. Adequate access to the crawlspace along with adequate venting is required. Remove all debri , be sure a properly installed vapor barrier is in place. Standing water or excessive dampness must be corrected. Leaky basements and faulty foundations are expensive to repair often leading to a deal breaker.
  8. Independent Utility services for each living unit (multifamily properties), unless there are separate shutoffs for each unit.
  9. Safe Access from the street either a permanent recorded easement or private driveway.
  10. Health & Safety are top concerns when dealing with VA financing. All properties must be free of any hazard that adversely affect the property or it’s occupants.
  11. Safety, Structural or Sanitation. Appraisers watch for  defective construction, decay/wood rot,  defective craftsmanship and repairs, leaks, and  excessive dampness.
  12. Water must have proper drainage and be graded to ensure water flows away from the home. All down spouts must have drain pans, poor drainage can lead to foundation problems.
  13. Properties must be free of fungal growths (Mold), dry rot and wood destroying insects. Pest inspections are commonly required in our area, if termites are discovered property must be treated and re-evaluated to gain VA approval.
  14. Properties built prior to 1978 may contain lead based paint which has been determined to be a health hazard. Any surfaces with chipped or peeling paint must be scraped and repainted, covered with drywall, or totally removed.
  15. Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors must be properly installed per manufacturers recommendations.

The best way to purchase or sell a property that qualifies for VA financing is to be well versed in VA’s MPRs.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


What Buyers and Sellers need to know about FHA FINANCING

Over the next several weeks I’ll be doing a series of posts addressing what sellers need to know about both VA and FHA financing in order to make their homes more sell-able.

The first of this series will be FHA Financing which is a fairly popular loan in our area.

FHA financingAccording to the FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook, “HUD requires every property to be Safe, Sound, and Secure to be eligible for FHA Insurance.” There are MPR (Minimum Property Requirements) and MPS’s (Minimum Property Standards) that each property must contain in order to comply with HUD.  These basic requirements and standards are the basis for identifying the deficiencies of the property.  FHA appraisers are required to note these deficiencies within their appraisal form and must be addressed by the mortgagee prior to closing.

Examples of some property deficiencies and adverse conditions may include: Evidence of dampness, defective construction,  evidence of settlement, leakage, pests or wood destroying insects, decay/wood rot, peeling paint, environmental hazards, exposed or defective electrical wiring, double strapped water heaters, defective overhead garage door openers, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors or anything that affects the health & safety of the occupants, collateral or structural integrity of the dwelling.

In order to make the property comply with HUD’s MPR the appraiser must require repairs of all noted deficiencies, including an estimated Cost to Cure that has been properly developed and applied within said report.  Cost to Cure is based on the cost of local licensed contractors to complete repairs not the home owner’s cost of completing repairs themselves.

Many cosmetic repairs may be reported by the appraiser and considered when rating the overall condition and valuating the property. Minor or Cosmetic repairs may include minor plumbing leaks such as a dripping faucet as long as it doesn’t show damage, holes in window screens, cracked window glass,  missing handrails that don’t pose a threat to safety, or  defective interior paint surfaces in housing constructed after 1978.

As a guideline to assist my clients in expediting the appraisal process, I recommend the following repairs are completed prior to scheduling an FHA appraisal Inspection:

  • Repair (sand, scrape, fill, prime & paint) all defective paint surfaces
  • Repair all leaks (roof, foundation, HVAC system, & plumbing)
  • Repair all structural/foundation settlement
  • Repair all defective roofing
  • Repair/Secure/Install defective/missing handrails
  • Repair all defective/exposed electrical wiring
  • Install safety items such as Smoke & Carbon Monoxide detectors ,GFCI outlets, H20 safety straps & relief valves.
  • Repair/Replace broken or inoperable windows & doors as well as their locks
  • Repair/Replace inoperable overhead garage door openers (make sure the safety stop functions)
  • Repair/Replace broken stairs or uneven walkways, floors, or driveways.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Bundle Up Blitz 2016

Bundle Up Blitz

As the days get shorter & the season turns to Autumn, the Lewis County Chapter of Washington REALTORS® turn their focus to providing cold weather clothing items, blankets, sleeping bags and tents. Our annual BUNDLE UP BLITZ is an event where our local REALTORS® and Chapter Partners collect these items to donate to a local charity & our local school districts.

Many families with school aged children struggle to meet the needs that are imposed on them as school begins, the financial strain of buying school supplies & clothing can be overwhelming. All of our “school aged” clothing items that are collected are distributed to local school districts. In 2015 numerous items were graciously accepted by the Mossyrock & PeEll school districts.

Homelessness & poverty in our community is a growing concern, many families need shelter & a warm place to sleep. In the past we’ve donated tents, blankets, sleeping bags, adult & infant clothing items to “The Gather” a non-denominational church that serves the needs of the homeless in our area.

If you’d like to participate in this drive and contribute to your community, items can be dropped off at any Lewis County REALTOR® office or participating Lewis County REALTOR® Chapter Partner office. You can also make out a check payable to a local thrift store in our community.

For questions or assistance contact Chelsie Cosser at Realty World Cosser & Associates (360-345-1006) or Janet Simons at Mountain Valley Real Estate (360-880-2356).

Thanks adding a little warmth to someone’s life.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Real Estate and School Districts

Is looking at school districts when buying a new home really that important?  How bad can a school really be, right?

School DistrictsMaybe you are kid-less now and don’t plan on having any for a long time or maybe never. Some folks plan on moving by the time their kids are school aged. Here a few things you should consider; education is the foundation to a solid future for all children.

Remember, it’s kids that will one day rule the world and eventually have families of their own. Even if you don’t ‘plan’ on having kids right now, the unexpected can always occur. Don’t dismiss the importance of a good school district.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to look at schools prior to purchasing a house.

Resale

I know it’s hard to think about selling your new home even before you purchase it, but “RESALE” value is important to consider. Studies show that homes in school districts with high scores, tend to sell for more than those in neighborhoods with less impressive school districts. For example; if your child is in a good district, it becomes known as a desirable area and people are going to look for homes in this area. So even if you don’t have kids, if you own in a larger home in a family-friendly neighborhood, you might want to check out the school districts prior to placing it “For Sale”, it may help in getting top dollar when selling your home.

Many buyers, according to realtor.com are willing to make sacrifices in order to own homes in neighborhoods with great schools. Studies show that many families will sacrifice square footage, garages and even number of bedrooms just to secure a home in a good school district.

Higher Property Taxes

You might consider the affordability of living in an area with a good school district. Good schools tend to require more funding which results from higher tax rates. This means you may pay more in property taxes in order to live in an area with great schools. This might be hard to accept if you don’t currently have children.

Your Kids

If you have kids, it’s vital to check out the schools in the area. Better schools can offer your kids a lot more, typically your children will have  smaller teacher/student ratios, smaller classes, more one-on-one instruction, higher test scores, better extra-curricular activities & better sports programs. In summary, your kids will achieve an overall better education. There is nothing more important than the education of a child. I recommend always considering the overall well-being of your children and their educational needs before purchasing a new home.

Better Neighborhoods

And finally, I’ve noticed that typically the better the schools, the better the neighborhoods. This usually results in less crime, fewer less desirable neighborhoods and fewer families that raise your suspicions as being less than respectful.

The safety and security of your children is not something you should take lightly, which is just one more reason to consider the district.

Finally, rest assured that your kids will live in a neighborhood with other kids if you live near a good school, you’ll find that these are the neighborhoods are desirable for people with kids and that want to raise their families.

If you’re buying or selling in Lewis County Washington, here’s a helpful link that will show your school districts rating.

http://www.publicschoolreview.com/washington/lewis-county


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Lewis County Real Estate market stats for the 1st half of 2016

The first half of 2016 is under our belts and the real estate market is much different than it was at this time last year. Let’s take a look at how it compares to our 2015 market.

Sale price to sale price in Lewis CountyMarch, April and May were hotter than a firecracker! Home sales skyrocketed thus depleting our housing inventory.

Our market quickly transformed from a “Buyer’s market” to “Seller’s market”.

What exactly does it mean when real estate experts talk about months of inventory?

Months of inventory reflects an estimate of the amount of time it would take to sell all of the current listings in a given area if no new listings became available.

How do months of inventory impact real estate clients?

# of months of inventoryMonths of inventory are referenced when determining whether it’s a “Buyer’s market” or a “Seller’s market”.

  • When there are 0-4 months of inventory, figuring that all current listings can expect to be sold within 4 months, it is considered a seller’s market. Homes are selling very quickly. In a seller’s market, sellers hold the advantage because demand for property exceeds supply.
  • If there are 5-8 months of inventory, it is considered a balanced market. Current listings aren’t selling like hotcakes, but they’re moving at a consistent steady pace.
  • If there are 9 or more months of inventory, it is considered a buyer’s market because houses are moving slowly. In a buyer’s market, buyers have the advantage over sellers because the supply of listings exceeds the current demand for housing.

These timelines are approximate, but is generally accepted that less than 6 months of inventory reflects good conditions for sellers whereas greater than 6 months of inventory represents positive conditions for buyers.

In June our market began to balance out, with inventory increasing and sales slightly slowing. Currently we’re experiencing a very strong market.

Conditions are favorable if you’re considering making a move, why wait? Give me a call to discuss any & all of your real estate needs.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


HELLO SUMMER ~ It’s vacation time

Now that schools out it’s time to hit the open road in search of the perfect vacation spot. Lucky for you, you won’t have to go far.

White Pass Scenic BywayThe White Pass Scenic Byway is approximately 125 miles long, starting at Mary’s Corner (3 miles east of I-5 at Exit 68) and the intersection of US 12 and SR 410 at Naches. It is located in south central Washington State. The west portal to the byway is just south east of the communities of Centralia and Chehalis, and the east portal begins at Naches near Yakima in central Washington.

As you travel along the White Pass Scenic Byway it passes through small communities, resource lands, river valleys, foothills, and alpine county. The region surrounding the byway includes many privately-owned residential properties, agricultural, commercial properties as well as forestland, state parks, wildlife areas, the Gifford Pinchot, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. St. Helens National Monument and Mount Adams Wilderness Area.

While the White Pass Scenic Byway is known as a beautiful drive, it offers many things to DO. The Byway offers amazing recreational opportunities all along the way from east to west, in every season. This is the perfect route for exploring Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mt Adams offering numerous hiking trails, camp sites & adventures along the way.Things to do at White Pass

Put on your hiking boots, load your backpack (be sure to include your camera) and set out on an adventure. These trails offer the best wildlife viewing opportunities. Rocky Mountain Elk, Bald eagles, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Marmots, Spawning Salmon and Black Bear are just some of nature’s beauties you may discover.

Calling all anglers — take your pick — this Byway is loaded with boundless opportunities for some of the Northwest’s best fishing. From fly fishing for rainbow trout to reeling in large salmon, anglers are sure to hook their catch in these prized fishing waters. Camp at Mayfield or Riffe Lake to enjoy a day on the water, or troll the Cowlitz River, home to the best steelhead fishing in the state. Both the Barrier Dam and Blue Creek fishing access areas have sites developed for accommodating wheelchair-bound users. Beautiful lakes and rivers dot the Byway from one end to the other.

No matter what your preference of activities, you’ll find them along the Whitepass Scenic Byway.
Visit the website at www.whitepassbyway.com/
Or
Download the FREE mobile app www.whitepassbyway.com/whitepassbywayapp.html


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Farmers Markets

Discover the Spice of Life ~ Variety ~ at your local Farmers Market

Farmers MarketThe fruits, vegetables, plants and baked goods you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. This produce is allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets—fresh from the farm.
You’ll find an amazing array of produce at the farmers market that you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, baked goods, flowers and much, much more. This is a great opportunity to savor the biodiversity our back yard has to offer.
Family farmers need and appreciate our support, large agribusiness dominates the food production in the U.S. Small family farms struggle competing in the food marketplace. Buying direct from our local farmers gives them a better return for their product & giving them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy. It also boosts our local economy.
Savoring produce at the peak of freshness and meeting the people who grow your food, are just a couple reasons to support our local farmers markets.

Here is a list of the local Farmers Markets in our area.

Centralia’s “Historic” Farmers market ~ located on the corner of Maple & Pearl in downtown Centralia. Fridays 10am- 3:30 pm May to September. Website

Community Farmers Market is located on N. Market & NE Boistfort Street in downtown Chehalis. Tuesdays 11am-4pm Opens June 7th, 2016. Facebook

Parkerosa Farms is a family farm located at 292 Chilvers Road in Chehalis. Call for hours 360-748-0833. Link to Facebook. Facebook

Yelm Farmers Market located on 17835 State Rte. 507 in Yelm open Sundays 10am-3pm. Website

Neighboring Thurston county hosts several Farmer Markets, click this link for more information. Thurston Talk


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate


Curb Appeal

Everyone – including potential home buyers will want to see what’s inside, if your home’s curb appeal makes a great first impression!

Curb AppealIf you are thinking buying a new home or selling yours, you may want to consider the power of “Curb Appeal”.  This simple fix can provide you with a sense of satisfaction every time you pull up to your home.

Even though the interior of the house is where you most of your time will be spent, updating the look of the outside will definitely increase the sell-ability of your home. Homes that have “Curb Appeal” may have an increased value, it may even help increase neighboring home values.

With a few cosmetic changes and possibly the addition of a small portico to the front will give it a whole new look which is pleasing to the eye and more enticing to a potential buyer.

Dress up the front entrance!

The focal point of your home is the front door, make a statement by adding a splash of color. Make sure your entry way is clean, the door hardware is polished and a welcoming swag or wreath that reflects the interior is hung.

PorticoInstalling window boxes and symmetrically placing flower pots near entrances and walkways is an easy and fast way to add charm to your home.  Tasteful yard art such as fountains, metal sculptures or wind chimes are good choices.

Curb appeal may be the difference between a potential buyer deciding to take a closer look or just passing by.

One of the most important factors to be considered is Curb Appeal. Creating an attractive home exterior gives the homeowner satisfaction and a sense of pride.

If you’d like more ideas for enhancing the sell-ability of your home, don’t hesitate in contacting me, I’ve got more great ideas.


Janet 
SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate