Archive for the ‘Real Estate Tips’ Category

Foreclosure List(S) for November 4th 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Today we have FIVE emails from RMLS for the foreclosure list update and generally I’d wait until later in the evening to post them, but I figure with five, that’s GOT TO BE all RMLS will send out today as I’ve never received six…I’ll update if a sixth one comes out though.

Here they are:

Here are the new foreclosures listed for sale within the last 24 hours:


Want to Buy a Home with a Recent Bankruptcy, Foreclosure or Short Sale on Your Record? Check This Out…

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Received this from my firms managing Principal Broker today, thought I would pass it along here as it’s a handy dandy chart showing expected wait time frames for someone that has a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale in their recent past and would like to buy a home.

Something else to remember as well, if you are married (or, may as well be) and you or your spouse is the one with this on their record, you may want to speak to a lender about just one of you qualifying for a loan. I had this happen very recently with clients that thought they had to wait until spring 2015 because they were applying together and turned out one of them was able to get approved (without the other) all on their own and they are now all moved in to their new home.

Something to think about. Here’s that chart:


Interest Rates Starting to Climb a Bit, Still Low

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Checking interest rates today it looks like rates are beginning to climb a bit again with showing 4.10% for a standard 30 year fixed and 3.27 for 15 year fixed rate. Both are up from rates in the previous two weeks, however they are still historically very low and lower than we’ve seen in months.

This means if you’re sitting on the fence, hoping for lower interest rates, you need to make a decision soon as this trend of increasing rates could continue for the next few weeks or months and get back into the 4.5%+ range soon.


Mortgage rates 30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5/1 ARM 30-year jumbo
10/29/2014 4.10 3.27 3.11 4.11
10/22/2014 4.05 3.21 3.14 4.10
10/15/2014 4.01 3.23 3.09 4.09
10/8/2014 4.18 3.37 3.27 4.21
10/1/2014 4.27 3.44 3.29 4.29
9/24/2014 4.30 3.46 3.32 4.31
9/17/2014 4.33 3.46 3.35 4.37
9/10/2014 4.27 3.42 3.29 4.35
9/3/2014 4.24 3.37 3.25 4.29
8/27/2014 4.23 3.38 3.32 4.29


Home Improvements for Resale and Cost vs Value Report

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Here’s an article from MSN on 10 of the best home improvements you can do for your dollar. I thought it was interesting enough, some obvious points in there, but then it also linked over to what I found to be a much more interesting site which reports, for Portland Oregon homes as well, a “cost vs. value repor for 2014” from

It’s actually pretty cool, select your region, Portland Oregon is there, and it gives average costs for specific remodeling projects and essentially what boils down to ROI for those improvements.

Obviously these numbers can vary greatly on a home to home basis, but this does give some pretty good insight as to what may increase the value the most for the lowest cost before selling your home (or of course, just with later resale, if ever, in mind).


USDA Areas Zero Down Home Loans to Remain Secure Through 2020

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Recently a farm bill was passed that significantly and positively impacts rural areas; some of which aren’t so rural, in many ways, zero down loans being one of them.

Areas like Sandy, Estacada and Newberg qualify for what are called USDA loans (yes, that’s the US Department of Agriculture) that offer very competitive rates and to many, more importantly, 0% down to buy a home in these areas.

When I was working a large development in Estacada (and another smaller one in Sandy) these USDA loans were making up a large number of buyers home loans in those developments, new home, “in town” (well, Estacada and Sandy anyway), and nothing down. You could even still have the seller cover some closing costs and end up paying very close to nothing to get into a home.


Scott’s Home Buyers Guide, eBook, Sneak Peak

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I’ve begun putting together a short eBook series that at this point in time will consist of the following two eBooks:

“Scott’s Home Buyers Guide” followed by,

“Scott’s Home Sellers Guide”

I should have the first of the two ready and available via Amazon towards the end of March, but it’s shaping up nicely so I thought I would put up a small sample of the book; here goes:

Triggering a Multiple Offer Situation


National Real Estate Number Tracking Vs. Local

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In skimming through some articles in the real estate world today I came across one from the AP syndicated through titled “Portland home prices dip on slower December sales“, so of course being my market I need to check it out.

I didn’t find the slow December sales portion interesting as that’s par for the course this time of year (and apparently the Corelogic data used for the article, doesn’t take seasonal market shifts into consideration anyway), but I did find the numbers provided to be off…The AP / Corelogic data showed December home prices being up 15% from last year, where as RMLS, in their Market Action Report for December, showed 12.9% and the drop AP cites from November to December was 0.2%, but RMLS shows -3% average sale price compared to November and -1% median.

So who’s right?

Now, the numbers are still very similar, but it shows the differences you can end up with depending on how you are looking at a given market.  They just said the “Portland area”…Do they mean city of Portland only? Entire Metro? Do they, on a national level, consider Salem to be a part of that market? Are they looking at residential only as the RMLS Market Action Reports do, or are they looking at everything, residential, commercial etc?


Tax Forgiveness Act; Still Expired…Not Seeing Any Renewal News; Yet…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Just a quick heads up [that honestly I should have done weeks ago], for anyone looking to short sale their home or are facing a foreclosure. For those not familiar with this act, or maybe not familiar with the need for this act, here’s how it works.

You short sale your home or get foreclosed on. The bank gets say $275,000 for your home (when you sell it on a short sale, or when they resell it as a foreclosure later), but you owed $375,000 on it, leaving a loss to the bank of $100,000.

Now, I know there are many people out there that think that $100,000 would be entirely the banks problem, and while that particular $100k is their problem, you as the seller have a not so new problem that just returned on December 31st due to this 2007 act not being renewed (yet?).


Fannie Mae’s 3.5% First Look Program is Available

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Just got a reminder email from Fannie Mae that their 3.5% closing costs program is available again and thought it could be of interest to potential buyers out there. This is a program that offers 3.5% in closing costs assistance towards the purchase of a fannie mae foreclosed home for owner occupant buyers. I looked up how many qualifying fannie mae properties there are currently in the city of Portland alone and found 65 currently available, so once you take into consideration surrounding suburbs we’re likely in the realm of around 200 or so in the area that are eligible for this program.

You can find the programs details here, could be worth a look!

Scott McDonald


Follow Up to 10 Step Guide to Buying a Home; Part Two

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Part Two:

#6 Get Funding

This one seems a bit out of place to me, seems it should be under #3 Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval. If you choose a home then decide to figure out what type of loan etc, you may find the differences in loan programs you qualify for might eliminate that home from consideration. For instance, just a few short years ago, FHA loans were extremely popular because of the low down payment and low mortgage insurance. Now, with all the recent changes in lending FHA is becoming much less popular because the mortgage insurance is now flipped and is outrageously expensive compared to conventional loans.

So sure, you could do an FHA loan with 3.5% down, but may end up with an additional $200/month; that could easily change things up for you. And if you go the conventional route instead, now on that $350,000 home you need an additional $5,250 down to avoid the high FHA Mortgage Insurance and possibly more in closing costs as well…do you have that? Can you afford the $200/month extra?

When you do step #3 and get approved, you should know what type of loan, down payment, mortgage insurance (often financed in now by the way) etc that you’re going to go with.


Follow Up to 10 Step Guide to Buying a Home; Part One

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

In my previous post about the 10 step guide to buying a home from I found myself constantly writing my way into a new topic or rant, so I decided to dedicate a post or two to this subject and touch on those steps one at a time.

Step #1, Are You Ready to Become a Home Owner?

This one is easy; do you know you’re flushing money down the toilet every month when you write that rent check? Then yes, You’re ready.


10 Steps to Buying a Home From

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 recently put together a 10 step guide to buying a home and although some of the “steps” are a bit on the simple side, “Get a Realtor” or “Look at Homes”, once you click on the step title you are taken to a page that actually does have some good information for new home buyers.

For instance one of the more obvious steps is simply “Get a Realtor”, yet once you click on it you are brought to a page  that does have some genuinely good information that many may take for granted, but a new home buyer could find rather valuable.

Check it out here


New Creative Financing for Short Sellers and Foreclosure”e”‘s (I know, not a word)

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Typically I don’t post on hearsay or other “through the grapevine” type stuff but this one peeked my interest as I have a number of clients currently waiting for short sales or foreclosures on their record to “time out” before they can buy a home again and this; if it becomes reality, could really help them get into a home sooner.

Essentially the deal is this company buys the house for them, they pay 8% down,  make monthly payments and it’s their home, they can remodel it, add a pool; whatever…with the option to buy it later from said company that bought it for them with a 2%/year appreciation; which isn’t bad at all assuming the market isn’t going down.

The details are still a big unknown, however the National Real Estate Post (which I obviously frequently check into) has the warm and fuzzies in regard to this as of yet unknown company…Could be great? Could be…nothing…Keep an eye out for it though; once i hear anything more concrete on it I’ll post it up here.


Don’t Be Surprised If Your Realtor Refuses to Show You a Specific Home!

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

When ever I’m showing property to a new buyer and meeting them for the first time I always try to find similar properties in the area so if the home I’m showing them doesn’t work out for them, I have something else to show them.

Today I was putting together that list of “similar homes” for showings I have this afternoon when I came across a listing specifically stating in the agent only remarks to “enter at your own risk” due to squatters on the premises that have been asked to leave by police, but are apparently still living there.

Not sure I myself would want to enter that home; if the people there are brazen enough to take up residence and refuse to leave who knows what they could/would do to a Realtor with clients in tow trying to see the home?


Target Security Breach and How it Could Affect Lending Soon

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few months you’ve heard of the Target security breach that’s effected a whopping 1 in 5 people. Well an interesting question has been raised recently and that is how this breach will affect lending and the housing market in general when loan approvals start becoming loan denials due to some guy buying a new $3,000 4K flat screen on your card as a result of that breach.

The National Real Estate Post put up a video on this topic yesterday that I’d recommend taking a look at:

Your Realtor, Scott McDonald
Everything. Portland. Real Estate. Blog.

Top 10 Home Seller Mistakes

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

One of the Realtor Community portals, Activerain, recently posted up an article showing the top 10 home seller mistakes and while I would reorder them myself, maybe change a few, overall it’s a pretty good list that any seller thinking of getting their home on the market should check out. You may find it’s advice that your Realtor hasn’t mentioned previously; good time to quiz them!

As for my reordering; here it goes; my order would be:

  1. Picking the wrong agent (I’ll give you the run down on this without trying to sell you, just ask me – what most sellers don’t know).
  2. Over priced home
  3. Poor photos in the RMLS (professional photographers should ALWAYS be used and paid for by your Realtor)
  4. The home is just plain messy – to me this goes under the following one of depersonalize and remove clutter
  5. Depersonalize and remove clutter…I changed the name of this one as de-personalize is the most important part of this
  6. Showing availability; I’d love to figure out a way to put this higher on the list; it’s really important to have the home as available as possible for showings.
  7. Unpleasant or otherwise strong odors in the home; if you’re a master cook that loves Gorgonzola, consider making that meal AFTER the showing.
  8. Sellers playing tour guide; yet another one I’d love to put higher on the list…If you’re the seller and you have a showing; LEAVE THE HOME during (before!) the showing.
  9. Seller unwilling to negotiate with buyers; This does NOT mean give them everything, just keep them in the negotiations!
  10. Seller unwilling to negotiate repairs. Look at the repair addendum as $$$. Take a few low dollar items and say “sure, we’ll do that”…Shows willingness to get the deal done…For larger items, put yourself in the buyers shoes! If the furnace is on it’s last leg but technically still working, consider a buyer credit for half the cost in response.


Widespread Growth Expected for 2014; Some Thoughts on the Current Portland Real Estate Market

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

RealtorMag from (National Association of Realtors) expects to see a good 2014 across the board in the U.S.

In many cities around the country even ones with a 5.2% decrease in economic growth in 2013 (Shreveport LA) are expecting a 1.6% growth rate for 2014. Other areas around the country are in the same situation in terms of their expected growth; that is 1-2% however even that in the market(s) we’ve been seeing recently is a fantastic sign of the current turnaround we’re in.

Here in the Portland market we’ve been not just in recovery, but strong recovery, since early-mid 2012 with multiple offers becoming the norm for a home priced at market value. In recent years I almost never called a listing agent before showing a home to see if there were offers already on the table (didn’t need to, there almost never were); now I’m having to do that with most homes I’m showing and I’m finding around half of them DO have offers on them when I call. In addition when I see a home was just listed a few days ago, that’s become a red flag to call the agent to check on the current offer status.

We’re now in a completely different market and I’ve actually on occasion thought of it as another bubble. Now, don’t let that panic you. In my opinion, we are in a bit of a bubble in the Portland market but it seems to be a buying/activity bubble not a home value bubble (the latter of which would be a problem). Buyers are just ready to go and they are moving, but I’m not seeing that increasing home values outside of any norms (currently around 5% for the entire Portland metro area); they are also ignoring overpriced homes completely but jumping on market priced homes; fast!


ARM’s Trending Upward as Traditional Fixed Rates Climb

Friday, January 31st, 2014

ARM’s were one of the many issues blamed for the housing market crash in 2007 and while they were indeed a problem; they weren’t the only problem and on their own wouldn’t have been…It was the fact that they were combined with NINJA’s that wreaked havoc.

No, I’m not talking about those Ninja’s, I’m talking about these NINJA’s.

It was primarily the No Income, No Job, No Assests “No Problem!” loans (AKA, “NINJA” Loans) that led to the 2007 crash so as long as those don’t return I think we’ll have a pretty stable market going forward.


Portland Real Estate Market – Numbers Tracking Update

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

This time of year in the Portland real estate market its typical to see a bit of a slump across the board; when it’s cold and rainy out folks just aren’t into the idea of shopping for a home. Adding to this, sellers know buyers are in short supply as well and even so, the buyers that would come through could have wet/muddy feet walking all over their floors they’re not quite as eager to be on the market during this time; so yes, it’s a bit on the slow side this time of year in most years.

This is exactly what we’re seeing in the daily tracking information for today. The total number of residential listings is flat from yesterday still pushing just barely over the 4,000 homes mark with 4,186 homes currently on the market with new home listings gently sliding off for the month. In the last two days new listing activity has been slightly up for the month, however helping to cause the numbers to slide was this last weekend which like past January weekends produced low new listing numbers.

Closings last week were almost a wash from the previous week running around 40 per day on average; just about exactly where they’ve been all month.


Cash Buyers Bumping First Time Home Buyers Out

Friday, January 24th, 2014

This morning during my usual check in’s to news and blog sites it was hard to miss this front page main article on about all cash buyers pushing first time home buyers out of the market.

Interesting to see it as a front page article and a decent read; check it out. Indeed this is something I’ve seen many, MANY times myself; buyer has seen everything on the market and is waiting for new listings, one pops up, we check it out and there’s already an offer or two on the table. We put our highest and best in (often OVER asking price and get beat on “terms” (i.e. the winning offer was likely cash).

Scott McDonald


On the verge of another real estate boom? The numbers we’re seeing are suggesting it’s possible

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), just released an article detailing some of the numbers for the national 2012 real estate market and they are very encouraging. First off, total home sales in 2012 were the highest we’ve seen in 5 years, and the annual rise in home prices was the highest since 2005 (that’s right, the height of the previous boom). Completed transactions were 12.8% higher for December 2012 than December 2011 and the annual total for 2012 was 9.2% higher for the year than 2011 representing the highest volume since 2007 and strongest increase since 2004. 

It seems on the road to recovery we’re actually seeing a new mini-boom at the moment. Local Realtor’s, like myself, in the Portland metro area can attest to that as we are regularly seeing multiple offer situations and homes that, when looking at the comparables seem overpriced, yet they get scooped up anyway and often at close to asking price. Inventory is low, rates are low so buyers are scrambling trying to find something while prices are still relatively low which is putting sellers in the drivers seat in the current market.

Scott McDonald – Realtor & Principal Broker


New to the area? A Realtor may not be your best source for some information

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I’ve had this happen, believe it or not, more times than I can count…Pick up a client from the airport or hotel and after initial greetings I get “the question”. I’ve heard it in many different forms, but in the interest of being politically correct and avoiding a potential license violation, I’ll sum it up with:

“Since I’m not familiar with this area could you please tell me what are good areas and bad areas?”


Did I mention I’ve heard this question way worse on many occasions (racially motivated, religious etc)? I mean really bad…almost, “I’m kicking you out of my car” bad.


Sellers do not have to sell at list price and in fact, they don’t have to sell at all

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

In reading through some of my daily articles on real estate I came across a Q&A about a foreclosure where a buyer was countered by the bank well above asking price and was asking if that was legal or not. I’m not going to bother linking to the site here as it was more of a forum then anything else, but it’s a decent topic to cover as I’ve come across this question with buyers/sellers myself a few times.

When a seller lists their home for sale they are in no way actually required to sell the home. Why? Well, it’s the same as anything else you list for sale, you can list / offer something for sale as much as you want, but no one can force you to sell (well, no one except for a court of law or judge). Heck, even on eBay you can refuse to sell once a buyer has won your auction, but you’re likely going to get negative feedback for it; but eBay, nor the buyer, can actually force you to sell the item.

However, in real estate sales if there is a signed contract agreeing to sell to X buyer and X buyer has upheld their end of the contract, refusing to sell at that point could easily land you in court. If however a home is just listed for sale, the seller has zero obligation to accept any offer, even at or over asking price and in fact they can (and sometimes do) counter offers over asking price.


Portland sees big jump in real estate home sales for 2012, RMLS Market Action Report for December 2012

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

RMLS just released the end of year December 2012 Market Action Report and it confirms everything we’ve been talking about in terms of the real estate recovery happening here in Portland Oregon.

Homes sales in Portland Oregon jumped 19% in 2012 compared to 2011, from a total of $5.2 billion in sales in 2011 to $6.45 billion in 2012, that’s huge! Prices have also reversed their downward trek, officially and consistently heading the other direction and gaining ground as appreciation rates are almost entirely out of negative territory.

Additionally as we’ve been seeing in the market, inventory is very low right now and there are still a lot of buyers looking to take advantage of the low mortgage rates available today, as a result, it’s no longer a buyers market, it’s absolutely a sellers market now.


As the economy picks up mortgage rates will begin climbing

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Mortgage rates are still low compared to last year, however with the economy beginning to recover they are starting to climb again and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As cited by Inman News rates last week were 3.34% for a 30 year fixed mortgage and are now at 3.4% – not a huge jump, but tack on a few weeks/months and we’ll easily be back up over 4%.

Even though rates are climbing and will continue to do so, they are still at historical lows and they are not here to stay folks; we will get back to 5-7% rates within the next few years.

To give you an idea of how much of a difference rates make in what you can afford, at today’ current rate of 3.4% on a 30 year fixed, assuming $3,000/year for property taxes and $500/year for home owners insurance (both low estimates mind you) the payment on a $300,000 loan would be $1,622.11. That same scenario at 5.5% brings your payment to $1,995.03, an increase of $372.92 a month! Additionally, 5.5% sounds like a huge percentage rate these days, but consider, that’s actually a fairly reasonable rate historically and we are heading back to that soon.