Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What to do with your Old Phone Books?

It's that time of year again. When went home today, there they were on my doorstep....new phone books. So what does one do with the old phone books they have? The easy thing to do is just toss it in the trash. Since I am very in to recycling, I have been looking for the usual dumpster the City of Astoria places for the community, as a phone book recycle drop station.

But....it's not there this year! So I went ahead and called Western Oregon Waste to see where it is, or will be. They informed me that because of the disappointing low turnout last year, the City of Astoria and Western Oregon Waste have made arrangements for us to place our old books in the curb side recycle boxes. Same goes for businesses.

I think the curb side recycle is great, and wanted to share with you the how easy recycling is these days. Being able to drop your phone books in there now, is a plus! Our office has already done the transfer. I too have cleaned out my home. If you are curious about your local recycle system, it only takes a minute to call. For people who live in our county, here is the web site http://www.westernoregonwaste.com/

So remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It has been made so easy for us to do these days!!

25 Common Real Estate Mistakes

Watching TV last night, I stopped flipping when I saw this show. It caught my attention because it was about Real Estate, plus I wanted to see what TV it saying to Buyers & Sellers. I found many of the following tips interesting, and I wanted to share them with you. Since the Real Estate is constantly changing, many of the following are things to keep in mind & remember. You should have a great experience in Buying or Selling .....since Real Estate can be one of the most important investments of your life.

25. Buying a House for its Decor
Remember that you are buying the house, not the stuff inside of it. Focus on the floor plan & square footage.

24. Not Providing Easy Access for Showings
Make your house easily accessible to potential buyers. Example: easy parking

23. Not Researching the Neighborhood
It's absolutely critical that you research the neighborhood before you buy. Check out the area, amenities & school system.

22. Losing Money With Auctions
While the starting bidding price for a house on auction might be a good deal, it doesn't mean the final price will be. Make sure that you are very strict with your budget when you are bidding.

21. Trying to Make the "Hard Sell" While Showing
If you are selling your house, you really shouldn't be around at the open house. If you leave, you allow the buyers to really give unbiased objective feedback to the agent, which is only going to help you in the end.

20. Waiting until Spring to Sell your House
You don't have to wait until the weather is nice to put your home on the market. That's a common real estate myth. Spring is the time of heaviest real estate activity, but that does not mean that people don't buy houses 365 days of the year.

19. Treating Real Estate Like the Stock Market
When the real estate market is really hot and is appreciating really fast, people tend to look at it like it's the stock market. But playing real estate is nothing like the stock market — when you invest in real estate, you really need to take a long-term approach.

18. Failing to Market Your Home in Different Ways
Don't market your home with just a for-sale sign. Explore other marketing tools as well. Don't forget to include the floor plans, so people can see the layout of your home & know that if it it's right for them.

17. Not Thinking About Resale
When you are decorating and renovating your home, you need to think about what is going to appeal to a broad section of buyers when it comes time to sell it. Buying houses and being in the real estate market is like chess, you always want to look two or three steps ahead in the game.

16. Buying Without Actually Seeing the Property
It's really easy to buy a house without seeing it because of the Internet and virtual tours, but virtual tours can be deceiving. If seeing the home is just not possible, hire an inspector to go look at the property & provide you with an assessment.

15. Trusting Everything a Real Estate Advertisement Says
Don't assume every ad is fact. Learn to decipher real estate lingo.

14. Picking the Wrong Agent
Treat meetings with agents like a job interview— that person is going to be working for you. Talk to your friends who've sold houses and had a good experience with their agent.

13. Not Hiring an Agent
There's a lot more to selling a house than just putting a sign on the front lawn. If you don't have an agent, you will not get on the multiple-listing service (MLS). That means that other agents are not going to know that your property is for sale.

12. Buying the Most Expensive Home on the Block
The most expensive house may only depreciate in value over time, rather than appreciate. Also, those houses are often not the first house to sell because they are usually overbuilt to the neighborhood. It's absolutely critical that you research the neighborhood before you buy to find out what the price point should be.

11. Not Setting a Realistic Budget
Just because the bank pre-qualifies you for a loan amount of $400,000 doesn't mean you can afford to make that payment every month. Before a house hunt, you should sit down & make a monthly budget of what you spend every month. Come up with a number that you are comfortable spending on your mortgage payment, aside from those other expenditures.

10. Visiting the House Only Once
It's important to visit a house more than once because the neighborhood itself may be very different, depending on the day of the week and the time of day. It's also a good idea to go home and think about it, even sleep on it, before you go back again.

9. Not Being Pro-Active at Closing
The best thing to do when going into a closing is to get all the paperwork ahead of time. All that information should come from a mortgage broker or banker. They have what they call a HUD (Housing and Urban Development). The final walk-through of the home is another imperative part of the process to remember to not forget to do.

8. Doing Major Renovations/Remodeling Before Selling
Minor upgrades usually have a higher return on your money than tackling major renovations before placing a home on the market. The best place to spend money is outside. Research shows that increasing the curb appeal often returns the most value on your money.

7. Skipping the Loan Pre-Approval Step
When you are pre-approved, the bank is saying, "we will give you a mortgage of up to this amount, so now all you have to do is find your home." If you obtain a pre-qual letter, this will indicate to the Seller that the you "the shopper" really is serious about buying a home.

6. Falling in Love With the First Property You See
Many homebuyers (particularly first time homebuyers) fall into the trap of falling in love with the very first house that they see. You need to at least look at three more houses in the area to get an idea of what the comparables are in that price range.

5. Buying a Home Without a Professional Inspection
There are a lot of things a home inspection can reveal about a property that are not visible to the naked eye. Be sure to hire someone that comes with a good referral basis. Look up the American Society of Home Inspectors & get a list of qualified home inspectors in your area.

4. Overlooking the Extra and Hidden Costs
Buying a home is not just about the money that you spend up front; it's about all the rest of the money you have to spend beyond that. Find out what the property taxes are, what a water bill might be & what a standard electric bill in that home.

3. Buying What You Want, Not What You Need
Look at the space that you are already living in. It will help you to realize what you have been missing & what you need in your next home.

2. Setting Too High of a Sale Price
As a seller its really important to do your research, and in order to come up with your sale price, look up what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for. Figure out what the going price is and try to put yours right in the middle of that, unless you have something extra special to offer. It is always better to price a home sharply, than to start too high and have to reduce. Once you reduce or have a long market time, it may be assumed that something is wrong with the home.

1. Failing to Showcase Your Home & Make Small Cosmetic Changes
When you are selling your house, you have to really look at it objectively and think about it from the viewpoint of the house hunter. Make minor enhancements to the house. Maybe even hire a professional stager to come and arrange your furniture. Focus on helping a buyer see the floor plan & feel the square footage.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vacant Land at Mill Pond Village starting at $95,000

Lot 52 Mill Pond Village


We have a new vacant land listing in Mill Pond Village, listed at $95,000. Currently there are 9 vacant land listings listed in this subdivision, in which Linda Stephens and I have four of these listed. The prices start at $95,000, therefore our new listing is the lowest priced of all nine in the MLS!

Photos are of the green space + a photo of the new listing lot 52. This lot is a corner lot, at the beginning of the mixed-use residential & commercial area. We call this area of Mill Pond Village, "Live-Work-Play", as you can have 500 minimum sq. ft. commercial space or these lots are also suitable for a duplex. More information on Mill Pond Village is on our AREA Properties web site;

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Are You Ready to Sell? 9 Home Selling Tips

Ready to Sell Your Home? Some Helpful Tips....

Making a "First Impression" is always important. Here are a few things to remember when getting your home ready, before Buyers start viewing.

* Curb Appeal- This is the 1st thing to consider sprucing up. Is your landscaping at least average for neighborhood? Keep lawn mowed & remember to add some flowers for color and vibrancy for those 1st impressions.

* Disconnect Your Emotions- When getting ready for buyers walking through, remember to "De-personalize" your home. This is to help a buyer can imagine their stuff in rooms. This may help them connect better to your home.

* Unclutter your home- Store away extra things laying around, that may be cluttering up space. This not only helps the way a buyer will see your home, but it can even make rooms feel more spacious.

* Lighting- Make sure all lights are in working order. When home is being viewed, be sure to turn all lights on......this makes room space feel bright & open.

* Floors- Hire a good carpet cleaner. If you choose to replace any old/worn or outdated carpet, remember to choose a fairly neutral color. If you have tile, consider replacing any cracked or broken pieces.

* Painting- Painting can be your best "spruce up" investment, and it is fairly inexpensive. Be sure to touch up nail holes with putty before painting. Choose off-white colors, to keeps rooms appearing bright.

* Plumbing- Check all sinks & showers for drips, leaks or clogs. Make sure all toilets do not run after flushing. These are some items that buyers may check during their walk through.

* Window & Doors-
Check that all windows and doors open & close easily, and there are no cracked or broken windows. The Front Door should be cleaned up & look especially sharp, since this the entry to the home.

* Atmosphere- Smell is a powerful motivator. For those who smoke, you may want to reduce smoke smells while selling your home. Same goes for pet owners. These odors you may be used to, but a buyer may be distracted if odors are too strong. This can be a very personal and touchy subject, but something to remember. Burning a scented candle or baking cookies is always a plus to pleasure the olfactory senses.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Cruise Ships are almost here!

I got the schedule for the scheduled Cruise ships to port in Astoria. Looks there will be a Cruise ship ported every weekend from April through October/November. This will be so great for Astoria's downtown economy. Over the last couple of years, downtown seems to be booming with lots of people & smiling faces throughout the summer.

These Cruise ships stopping here is so great to see for our community. Having grown up in Astoria, I always recall downtown being so quite. However now...Astoria's downtown is doing so well! We welcome tourists here, and hope they want to come back to visit again.... possibly even move to Astoria.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annual Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup

Thought I would share the information on the upcoming annual beach clean on Saturday, March 29th @ 10 am - 1 pm. This is a great event that helps to preserve the natural beauty of our coast. I will be there with friends to help with the cleanup.....rain or shine. Hopefully we may find something great, like an old glass ball float. Those are rare to come across, however I have heard of a few lucky people who have found them! If you are curious about the event, for more info visit: http://www.solv.org/programs/spring_beach_cleanup.asp

Hope to see you there!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fundraiser for Crohn's & Colitis Disease

Myself, Linda, and her daughter Michelle are going to do a fundraiser walk in Portland, to help raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Disease. This event will be on June 28th at the Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown Portland. Always makes one feel good to help raise money for a good cause!!