Archive for the ‘Tips When Selling a Home’ Category

Portland Real Estate Tips: Is your house Eco-Healthy? Get a Checkup!

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Studies have shown that common pollutants in the home can lead to serious problems like asthma, allergies, and chronic disease, but it’s not hard to clean up your act and keep yourself and your family healthy. To help out, the Oregon Environmental Council, the oldest environmental group in the state, has recently put out a wonderful free Eco-Healthy Homes Checkup kit to check up on the health safety and sustainability of your home, complete with helpful tips. If you’re looking for green homes for sale in Portland, recently bought a home after navigating the Portland Real Estate market, or are trying to sell a home in Portland, you could definitely benefit from the tips and checkups in this free kit. Check out our overview of the tips in the package, and click here to receive your own copy free in the mail. It’s an informative, easy way to make a difference in the safety and value of your home – what else could be more worth your time and investment?

The Eco-Healthy Homes Checkup Kit begins with a comprehensive survey of each section of your home, including the area surrounding the house, living-areas and bedrooms, carpets, window coverings, paint, heat/air-conditioning, furniture, children’s rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, garbage and recycling, flooring, basement and laundry room, tools and cleaning supplies… and then continues with tips and articles about each of these areas.

The environmental health of your home is important because any products or chemicals in your home, school, and community, affect your body and the health of your family. You can get help in understanding the proper types, use, storage, and disposal of chemicals in your home, one of the most important factors in your health. The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) has teamed up with science professionals and environmental experts to identify the leading causes of disease and the most harmful substances that are commonly encountered in the home.


Portland Realtor Guide: NEW Clinton Area Neighborhood Guide at Your Road Map to Home

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Check out the new neighborhood profile detailing the Clinton area in Southeast Portland, filled with quirky boutiques and restaurants, classic Old Portland homes, and some of the best dining and shopping in town. The Clinton neighborhood is full of charm and community, featuring the fun Clinton Street Theater. Clinton is close to several bridges, providing easy access for commuters to downtown Portland, and is also near the popular Division Street area.  Combining the best of urban accessibility and comfortable, small-neighborhood atmosphere, the Clinton District is quintessential Portland.

If you’re looking for homes, condos, or other real estate in Clinton or other southeast Portland real estate neighborhoods, check out this information page filled with the best restaurants in Clinton, top shopping tips, and neighborhood resources. Relocating to a new area can be hard, but it’s a lot easier when you’ve got the best real estate agents in Portland on your side.

Contact the McDonald Group realtors to find out about homes for sale in Clinton, or Click here for more information!


Portland Realtor Insider: The Real Estate Market’s Response to Interest in Walk Scores

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Trends in national real estate are showing that home buyers are increasingly interested in walkability, in many cases choosing smaller, more expensive, older houses with better access to amenities in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. In addition to good schools, low crime rates, and big yards, today’s home buyers are paying more and more attention to the proximity of stores, coffee shops, theaters, and parks. Traffic congestion and long commutes have become a fact of life for many Americans living in urban areas, increasing the attractiveness of a home situated in a place that would encourage them to use their walking shoes more than their engines.

Walking to buy groceries or go out to dinner saves on oil prices, and may be attractive to people who are worried about the sustainability of our oil markets. Urban experts say it’s also an issue of demographics: Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and facing too-large empty nests, and their grown children are buying their first homes; neither group wants large, modern lots in remote places where little is going on, and exciting, walkable neighborhoods are becoming increasingly attractive.

If you’re familiar with real estate listings in Portland and other areas where walkability ranks high among home buyers wishes, you’ll no doubt have seen the “Walk Score” that ranks homes according to the number of amenities within walking distance. Created by Seattle software company Front Seat in 2007, the Walk Score site includes an interactive map, where users can input an address and get a score. Walk Score uses an algorithm to calculate the distance from any address to amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters and public transportation.


Inexpensive Ways to Save Electricity…And Money!

Friday, June 25th, 2010

In this age of high-end sustainable renovations, high-profile LEED certifications, and the seemingly never-ending marketing of the next popular Energy Star kitchen or home appliance, it sometimes feels like you need to spend a lot of money in order to cut back on energy use. However, like many things in life, small changes can add up to a big difference, and some of the most important adjustments you can make in your home are downright cheap.

If you’re thinking of buying a new home, or are looking for ways to improve your home to make it attractive to the Portland Real Estate market, energy-friendly changes can make a big difference. Did you know that adding more insulation to your attic and spraying expandable foam insulation where your home meets its foundation can lead to valuable energy credits on your electricity and gas bills? Here are some more inexpensive tips to use less energy in your home:

Invest in a programmable thermostat: This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy bill. Programmable thermostats make it easy to reduce energy by switching to pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature depending on the season, or when you and your family are asleep or away from the house. You could save up to $180 on your annual energy bills by making small changes to the way you heat and cool your home, while staying comfortable year-round. Click here for resources on where to buy and how to program your thermostat for maximum energy savings.


Top Spots for Restoration Hardware and Supplies in Portland

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Whether you’re restoring a historic home for sale or you’ve just purchased a diamond in the rough that needs some polishing, Portland has some amazing resources for classic restoration hardware, fixtures, and furniture that are true to the spirit of Northwest style and sustainability. What better way to be green when you’re fixing up a classic home than to use salvaged antique materials? Here are some of The McDonald Group’s favorite spots for browsing through classic tiles, old neon signs, gorgeous sustainable lumber, rusted scrolled keys, and giant boxes of original tin ceiling plates. Remember to use gloves, those edges can be sharp!

The ReBuilding Center: The ReBuilding Center is a non-profit used building materials outlet, perfect for finding everything from rough cut lumber and bamboo poles to beautiful antique fixtures and hardware. Part thrift store, part treasure hunt, and part hardware store, this is the go-to place to find salvaged building and remodeling materials. There’s a reason you see bumper stickers around town that proclaim that drivers love this place. You have to be willing to dig a little, but everything is logically located and labeled, and the staff is fantastically friendly, so you’ll be sure to find inspiration for projects big and small. Plus, the prices are so low, you’ll leave with enough to keep your home improvement muse happy for weeks.

3625 N Mississippi Ave Portland, OR 97227
(503) 331-1877


Bank Owned Home Sales in Portland Soar

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

According to the most recent RMLS (Regional Multiple Listing Service) report, one in six homes bought in Portland were bank-owned homes. Buying at or near the bottom of the real estate cycle can be the best time to buy a home. It also may be the best time to sell if you are moving into a replacement home that suits your needs better than your existing home. Why buy now? Let me count the reasons. It is now a “buyers market” meaning the asking prices on property is at or near the bottom of their cycle and homes are not receiving multiple offers as they were during the “bubble” days. As you can see from the statistics on bank-owned homes above, there is a high percentage of bank owned real estate and short sale deals out there if you have the right agent to walk you through the maze.

“When you start seeing more distressed sales, that’s actually a good thing,” says Todd Williams, a divisional vice president for Skyline Financial Corp. in Portland. That means buyers are convinced the housing market has bottomed out and is starting to turn, Williams says, and it’s time to buy properties discounted by the banks.

This situation gives you and your agent the luxury of possibly finding the “perfect home”.  The interest rates on new home purchases are at or near historical lows. This means your payments on a thirty year mortgage will be the most reasonable  in decades for the life of the loan. Appraised values that determine tax basis are down so many home buyers are seeing less money going for taxes. So even if home values take some years to kick back
into climbing appreciation you will be building equity  just by the virtue of lower starting costs than traditional real estate cycles.


Down Housing Market has Lead to a Falloff in Divorces

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Interesting little article in The Wall Street Journal. I agree with them; many couples are waiting it out. I have seen one couple that can’t make up their mind, house on the market, off the market, on the market… but overall, with no money to dispute over it’s more of who wants to take on the liability. I read through the article and there is an idea they didn’t present…. and interestingly a co-worker of mine and I were just discussing this the other day…

Sign over the house to the other spouse. Now I’m not an expert and you would definately want to consult with an attorney but if I wanted out I might consider signing over the deed of the house to my spouse. If keeping the home is going to result in damaged credit, and one of the parties can afford the payments, the party keeping the home may eventually have an asset if they can hold in there long enough and the spouse that signed off could walk away and benefit from maintaining good credit… The departing spouse would still be on the hook with the lender but if all went as planned the home would eventually be refinanced and all could end fairly well.

I think this makes sense; I’ll have to ponder a little further. So, if divorces have fallen off because of the housing market, I wonder if domestic violence has gone up? Hmmm.  -Kristie McD. Your Portland Realtor always thinking.

Oregon Senate Bill To Help Homeowners Facing Foreclosure…. okay….

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

senateSenate Bill 628 is congested with too many words for me to read thoroughly but it “sounds” like all it is is a law that says that lenders must send homeowners a notice of clear instructions on who and how to can contact someone via phone or in person to discuss whether they would qualify for a loan modification. (We know that few homeowners will have the opportunity to meet with someone in person)

I know people that have started the process months ago with still no status… it’s a mess.  -Kristie McD. Your Realtor. :)

To read more about it check out the article on Koin News:  CLICK HERE

July 2009 RMLS Market Action Report & Commentary

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The latest RMLS Market Action Report is out and posted on our site along with our commentaryrmlsmarketaction / summation of the numbers and comments on what we’re seeing in the market and how that is represented in the numbers. Additionally we blogged a while back about which homes are selling and why, a blurb about that in this month’s commentary as well as a link to an eye opening PDF; head over and take a look!

~Scott McDonald – You’re Portland Oregon Real Estate Agent

Home Sellers! Know what percentage your listing agent is offering buyer agents!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

6Just to get up to speed on this particular post, commissions for Realtors are paid by home sellers.  A listing agent and seller come to agreement on a total percentage to sell a home.  The listing agent then in turn offers a percentage of that, usually around 2.5% – 3% to whichever ”buyer agent” brings the buyer that purchases the home.  This percentage is referred to as BAC or a “Buyers Agent Commission”. The BAC is noted in every listing in RMLS for all agents to see but the information is not shown publicly.

Why do you need to know?  If the average BAC is 2.5% and your listing agent is offering 1.5%, the attraction of agents to your home is minimal.  Why? Because by the time the brokerage firm takes their cut, uncle Sam his, and all the other expenses I won’t detail here, a 1.5% is not going to compete with those that are higher.  I’d say 75% of agents at listing appointments fail to discuss this and in fact are counting on a seller not asking. Currently RMLS listing forms do not require a listing agent to disclose this to a seller. (we are pushing for a change but it will not likely happen anytime soon).

Now that that is out of the way, years ago I remember hearing an agent say she wouldn’t show homes offering less than a 2.5% BAC which is a very common BAC, I personally thought and still think that was unethical, if your buyer likes and wants that home you should show it no matter the BAC however there are a LOT of agents out there like her that wouldn’t show that particular home because of how little they would get paid to sell it, and admittedly when we see BAC’s under 2.5% we cringe too. However our buyers don’t need to know that, they just need to know if they like the home and want to see it; we will show it.


Some interesting stats showing what homes are selling in Portland

Friday, July 24th, 2009

So we’ve been saying it for a while now, the low end of the market is moving, everything else is still hurting. Well, Coldwell Banker sent agents a flyer for a quick reference showing exactly what we’ve been talking about. The market under $300,000 is up 9% from last year, the markets over that price range are down and the down market doing the best is down -26% from last year. Interesting cheat sheet of stats.

In case you missed the word flyer linked above you can get the report here too :-)

Scott McDonald – Your Oregon Realtor

June 2009 RMLS Market Action Report & Commentary

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Boy have we been busy…The last RMLS market action report came out about a week ago andrmlsmarketaction I’m just now able to sit down and get my commentary and this blog entry in and the latest June 2009 RMLS Market Action Report shows why; the market is moving folks! We’re seeing lots of activity, lots of buyers, FHA in just about every transaction these days, seller paid closing costs in most as well and of course that first time home buyer tax credit. Things are a rollin’ however we are concerned that come the end of November we could see things come to a screeching halt. Check out the RMLS market action report and our commentary on it to find out why.

~Scott McDonald, Your Portland Oregon Real Estate Agent

Appraisal came in low? You’re not alone…

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Back in the day of skyrocketing home sale prices between 2001 – 2006 the appraisal of a home you’re buyingappraiser1 (or selling) was of very little concern to buyers, Realtors, lenders etc because it almost seemed as though appraisers were asking the lenders “what do you need it to appraise for?” before doing the appraisal…no accusations here, but there was some funny business going on and it was one of many factors that encouraged the housing bubble to burst. Since then appraisers have completely reversed course and potentially to the detriment of the market.

We often mention appraisal issues here and even mentioned this particular appraisal issue back in June 2008; we’ve also wondered to ourselves if this will become such a problem that when the housing market begins to recover if appraisals will keep it down. Well, we’re not the only ones wondering or talking about it any longer, seems the media at large is catching on. An article today on specifically lays out the issues we’re seeing, specifically that appraisals are begining to kill more and more deals. What happens is the buyer agrees to pay say $350,000 for a home, the appraisal comes in at $325,000 and the lender then refuses to lend on the home –> dead deal.

After getting their hands slapped for inflated appraisals in years gone, appraisers have done a 180 now often being downright harsh on their appraisals in some cases causing everyone, the buyer, the seller, the Realtors and the lender to all be on the edge of their seat sweating waiting for the results of the appraisal to see if we really have a deal or not.


May 2009 RMLS Market Action Report & Commentary

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

The May 2009 RMLS Market Action Report was released a few days ago and being the busy season with a lot of transactions in rmlsmarketactionescrow I just didn’t have the time to do my write up on it until today, but it’s there now! Indicators are basically what we’ve come to expect in this market, significant depreciation, -13% overall since this time last year, and high inventory though we did manage to shave 4/5′s of a month off that from 11 down to 10.2 months. Read our write up on the Portland Real Estate Market and from that page you can also download the full report.

~Scott McDonald and your Oregon Real Estate Resource and source for homes for sale!

Pending Home Sales up for 3 Months in a Row. Also a little Real Estate Advice.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

happy-dance(No, that is not me in the picture). Below is a link to a recent article referencing the commonly heard of  Lawrence Yun , NAR Chief Economist, stating that the housing market is improving. I can’t speak for other states or cities but I can tell you what we’re seeing in Portland. Homes under $250,000 that are in good condition and located in good areas (especially those in inner NE/SE) are moving. Homes priced under $185,000 are selling even better. In fact it’s become very competitive. Homes above the $300,000 aren’t moving nearly as fast and of course the higher the home price from there the longer to sell. My advice?

If you have property to sell that will be priced under $250,000 get it on the market.

If you are a first time home buyer, get a move on and avoid wasting time on short sales, with the 12/1/09 close date deadline you may get left with worst inventory.


Short sales going away due to increased risk to seller?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

With short sales the seller is already risking getting a 1099 for the difference of what they owed ss-for1on the home and what it sold for after their “bank” approved the sale, this is known as phantom income. As such it’s standard practice for Realtors talking to a seller about selling short to advise them to speak to a CPA and/or real estate / tax attorney about the tax consequences before doing it…Well, it’s getting even more complicated now, apparently there’s a new trend of lenders beginning to require sellers to sign a note to repay that difference or they will not allow the sale; this is on top of the 1099.

With this double ding in mind it’s extremely likely that once sellers figure this out they are going to be more likely to do a deed in lieu of foreclosure or let the bank force them out on a standard foreclosure possibly resulting in, you guessed it, more bank owned listings. Of course this would not result in a surge of distressed properties on the market as it would just move from lots of short sales and bank owned to lots of bank owned and very few if any short sales and considering bank owned properties tend to sell a lot faster than short sales it could potentially soak up all that extra inventory faster? We’ll just have to wait and see what happens here but at the very least sellers considering selling short should consider the possibility of this happening before putting that for sale sign up.

April 2009 RMLS Market Action Report & Commentary

Friday, May 15th, 2009

RMLS released the April 2009 Market Action Report yesterday, a day early – strange. Anywho, it’s out and our commentary rmlsmarketactionon the numbers is available in the usual spot on our website under the RMLS Portland Market Action Report link. The numbers as they have been recently are mixed, some good, some not so good. Also, RMLS changed the report files once again, instead of having individual counties plus an all counties version as they recently changed to, they apparently changed it again and decided to discontinue the all counties report so only by county/area reports are available now. As such we will have the Portland & Vancouver market reports available on our site. Give it a read and download the report here.

~Scott McDonald, your Portland Real Estate Agent

Having to Sell Your Home as a Short Sale? Phantom Tax Beware!

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

forgivenessIf you are needing to sell your home “short” (a short sale) there is always the question as to whether you will have to pay taxes on the difference of what it sells for and what you owed… when the bank forgives the difference it is often referred to as a “phantom” income in that you never see it but it’s there when the bank forgives it so that the home can be sold.

Well… you can get taxed on that phantom income just like any other income and that is where the real estate agent will always tell the homeowner to talk with an attorney and/or their accountant.

The good news is that you may not get taxed on that forgiven phantom amount. It’s not often that I link to other bloggers but this blogger in Orlando, Florida did a great job summarizing who gets taxed and who doesn’t.  For more information on the Debt Foregiveness Act of 2007 click here!  (Thanks Jerry! I loved Florida by the way!)


Having to Sell Your Home Short? 7 Short Sale Legal Pitfalls

Saturday, April 11th, 2009
realtorFrequently I find myself at a listing appointment and find that the homeowner owes the bank far more than what their home will sell for. If they are needing to sell because they can no longer afford the home, need to move, etc. they will likely fall into a short sale scenario.  In many cases the homeowner will seek a second opinion, even a third or fourth. Unfortunately they may eventually find a Realtor that either doesn’t know better and takes an overpriced listing or “buys the listing” because they are hoping to generate new buyers/clients from the listing. Regardless, the homeowners can lose alot of time which is frequently the one thing they do not have.

EDUCATE YOURSELF:There are many things to be aware of if you are having to sell your home short and I was impressed with REALTOR’s recent article as it touches on many things a seller should be aware of and asking about. 


Are You Eligible for the New Refinance / Loan Modification Program?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

sam1Kinda Cool!  The administration has launched a website that allows homeowners to determine if they are eligible for mortgage payment reductions through the refinancing or loan modification program.  I haven’t tried the site out yet myself but at a glance it looks pretty simple. So far what I’m hearing from clients trying to stay in their home is that it takes some time once you apply to know for certain… 2-3 months is what I’ve heard… I’m curious to know what results you are getting out there.   -Kristie McD.          Everything.Portland.Real Estate.  

Anyhow, take a look and see if you’re eligible:



Chasing the market down and a buyers market, what you should know…

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

We’re in a tough market, have you heard? Of course you have…As full time Realtors we’re in the market every day, we know it’s tough and we have been noticing and hearing, from other Realtors as well, about some of the hurdles in this market. Part of our job is to ensure our clients are aware of market conditions and in that spirit this blog will talk about what is a “buyers market” and “chasing the market down” as a seller. It’s absolutely critical to accurately identify the market before pursuing a home purchase or listing your home to sell and that is where this blog entry comes in. (more…)

Sellers Raising Home Prices Due to Low Ball Offers?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

We’re seeing it more and more, and sellers are beginning to push it….  home sellers say they are exhausted with “low ball offers”… “if buyers are going to write (more…)

Property Flyers vs 800 Numbers

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Everyone occasionally pulls up to a listed home and grabs the flyer out of the flyer box and more frequently than not they pull up to find the flyer box is empty.  WIth the idea of conserving paper and time delivering flyers on a regular basis I had considered switching to 1-800 numbers instead. EXCEPT… (more…)

Check your pipes!

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

So just a quick note here weve already had two clients have pipes burst in their homes and flood the home; this is NOT something you want to experience or mess with. Make sure your home is heated, outside spiggets are covered and that you have cabinets open so pipes in the walls behind them can get that heat. Additionally if you’re going to be out of the home for any length of time leave a central faucet in the home running a dribble of water to keep the system moving. If you are selling a home that is vacant get it winterized NOW (actually, should have done it about a week ago). And last but not least, know where your water shut off is and how to use it! Other wise, we hope you’re enjoying the snowy day!

Quick Follow Up to Zillow Post

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Not sure if this is the real deal or a “bot” out looking for Zillow comments on blogs (probably the latter), but just thought I would post it here. I posted a blog entry on Zillow and it’s accuracy and use in our industry a few days ago and it was quickly commented on supposedly by Zillow’s COO Spencer Rascoff adding validity from the horses mouth as it were to my post:

Spencer Rascoff, COO of Zillow here. Thanks for the post.