By Erin Wright & Christina Waterhouse
Questions to Ask and Information to Gather Before You Refinance
Low interest rates are attracting more and more people to the market, especially those who are looking to refinance their mortgages. Clients have been reaching out to us to ask if they should be refinancing their homes. Our general response is, “it depends”. There are a few questions and pieces of key information you should gather before deciding whether to refinance.
1. What is the difference between your interest rate and current interest rate?
A good rule of thumb is for the current rate to be at least .5 – .75% less than your interest rate. This rule can change greatly depending on the size of the loan though. The more money that is being borrowed, the larger the difference is going to be in both your monthly payments and your total interest paid. You can find the daily interest rate here.
2. How close are you to paying off your mortgage
At the beginning of a loan, most of the monthly payment is going to interest. Only a small portion of the payment goes towards paying off the principal balance of the loan. As payments continue, the amount that goes towards interest goes down and the amount that goes towards the principal balance goes up. It is worth looking at an amortization schedule to see if refinancing will save you money over the life of the loan. You can find an amortization calculator here.
3. Has your credit or employment changed?
Employment history, debt to income ratios, and credit scores all impact the rate you will receive when applying for a loan. Speak to your lender regarding any changes in these areas to make sure you would qualify for a refinance and see what rate you would likely qualify for. Then you can determine if it is worth refinancing.
4. What is the property being used for?
Properties that are used as primary residences qualify for lower interest rates than those used as investment properties (usually .5 – 1% lower). If you purchased the property as a primary residence and subsequently turned it into a rental, you might not see much of a change in your interest rate or possibly your interest rate as an investment property could be higher. Speak with your lender to see what the current interest rate would be for the specific property.
5. Should you refinance into a 15 year loan or 30 year loan?
If you do decide that it is worth refinancing your loan, consider looking at both a 15 year and 30 year loan. Right now the interest rate for a 15 year loan is in the mid 2% range, while the interest rate for a 30 year loan is in the high 2% range. A 15 year loan will save you a lot of money in interest over the life of the loan. This is a great way to build strong equity in your property and pay it off in half of the time.
As always, we welcome any questions you may have and are happy to offer advice.
Mortgage insight and references provided by: Mathew Mattila, Cascade Northern Mortgage
Procedures for Real Estate, How Covid-19 has Changed the Experience of Selling Real Estate
By Erin Wright and Christina Waterhouse
What challenges do sellers face when putting their house on the market? How can sellers help create a safer environment for showings? This week we continue to focus on the challenges that are currently being faced by buyers and sellers transacting real estate and how our local market has responded to those challenges to make the process safer and easier.
The Seller Process During Covid-19
Selling a house is always a stressful time, add a worldwide pandemic and it can seem overwhelming. However, speaking with an agent can help increase preparedness and reduce stress.
Before Going on the Market
The first step is always getting the house ready for the market. Although it is fun to watch a house makeover in real time, it is best to avoid being home during this part of the process. Allow the landscapers, stagers, and photographers to focus on making the house look its best instead of maintaining social distance standards. Also, if the agent does not offer it, have the house thoroughly cleaned and disinfected by a professional right before going on the market.
Virtual and Paperless Marketing
The house is ready for the market. Work with the agent to give as many details about the house as possible to put into the MLS. This is a great time to have room measurements and amenities added. Virtual tours and floor plans allow perspective buyers to get a good idea of the house before a showing. Have a sturdy, permanent flyer attached to the sign post in lieu of paper flyers. I love a good flyer and being able to take one, but now is not the time to have lots of hands on pieces of paper being passed out to the public. If brochures are used inside of the house for showings, only put out one at a time prior to the showing.
Being Prepared for a Showing
Limit showings to pre-approved buyers only. This will minimize the number of people in the home. The buyers who do see the home will be the serious ones. Try to not be home for the first five days on the market. This allows buyers easier access and makes it easier to clean when you return. Have all lights on and doors open for a showing. This minimizes how many surfaces are touched inside of the home. Be prepared for showings to take longer since not everyone in a group can see the house at the same time. The agent should be providing ample shoe covers to be used inside. Place them by the front door. The best practice right now is to have buyers use the shoe covers and take them after the showing. Single use shoe covers minimize touching. Consider placing hand sanitizer with a pump at the front door for people to disinfect upon entering and leaving the home.
Sanitize When Returning Home
Thoroughly sanitize common surfaces when returning home. Places to consider are cabinets, countertops, door handles, handrails, and light switches.
When first listing a home, this can be overwhelming. Consider making a checklist so the house is prepared for every showing and sanitized after. For more information on how to stay safe and what to expect as a seller in this market, please feel free to comment on this blog post or reach out to us directly.
As always, we welcome any questions you may have and are happy to offer advice.
Looking for a fun event to do in March with the whole family? This month to give back, Erin Wright Homes is partnering with Habitat for Humanity for a fun night playing Bingo for a cause. Join us Friday, March 18, 2016 for a fun night of Bingo while helping support the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity. Games are $2 a piece and all prizes are valued at $25 or more! Complimentary snacks provided and beer and wine available for purchase. This event is family friendly, so bring your kids! Want to get even more involved? Join Erin Wright Homes for our Habitat Build April 2, 2016! We would love to see everyone there!
What: Bingo for Habitat for Humanity
When: Friday, March 18, 2016 from 6pm-8pm
Where: Clark County Habitat Store
10811 SE 2nd Ave.
Please RSVP to Erin Wright by Wednesday, March 16, 2016 by e-mail at ErinWright@Windermere.com
or by phone by calling 360-356-1445
Hope to see you all there!
For more information on the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, please visit their website at:
***Want to plan ahead for April’s Community Event? We will be doing a Habitat for Humanity Build with the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity on Saturday, April 2, 2016. We would love to see everyone there. This event is for people 18 years and older.***
Thank you to my clients and friends who helped make Tacos & Taps a Success in 2015!
May 4, 2015 marked the 2nd Annual Tacos & Taps Event for the Clark County Food Bank. This year Tacos & Taps sold out weeks before the event and the night really delivered a great time with a meaningful message. Guests were able to enjoy creative tacos, great beer, and spectacular treats from local Vancouver venders all while touring the food bank and enjoying live music. It is a great event to help promote local businesses, support the food bank, and allow our Clark County neighbors a chance to really see how the food bank runs and helps support the community.
The event this year raised $31,100 for the Food Bank, an increase of 39% from the previous year. Additionally, the event featured 5 local brewers, 8 local chefs, and 1 local baker.
I would like to give a special thanks to the people who made this event a huge success.
Alameda Brewing, Mt. Tabor Brewing, Loowit Brewing, Doomsday Brewing, and Beerded Brothers Brewing
Herb N’ Roots, South Pacific Bar & Grill, Farrar’s Bistro, Wholes Foods, Beaches Restaurant & Bar, Main Event, New Seasons, and The Grant House
Little Fern Photography
Michael Lampson of Lasting Impressions
Scott Horenstein Law, Riverview Community Bank, Landerholm Law
Allison Kirkland, Courtney Catt, Donna Horenstein, Erin Wright, Megan Dixon, Rebecca Bristol, Sam Clarno, and Sherri Falkner
To see all photos from this year’s Tacos and Taps event provided by Little Fern Photography, please click the link below.
Click the link below to see a video talking with the Director of the Food Bank and some of the vendors from this past year.