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
Understanding the Current Real Estate Market in Clark County
Our team has received a lot of inquiries regarding the real estate market during Covid-19. There are valid concerns and questions surrounding how this has impacted the market so far and what will happen in the future. We decided to share with you all the various statistics that we review to gauge the health of the real estate market and help you understand what they mean. This is part 1 of a series of real estate economic blog posts we will be publishing weekly.
What our local Market is currently doing and why
Clark County Washington is experiencing a Seller’s Market. We are seeing new listings that are priced appropriately selling quickly with multiple offers. This may seem counter intuitive, given that unemployment is up and so many businesses are closed. These things are true. Real estate is a perfect example of supply and demand. The pandemic has decreased demand, and we are seeing fewer buyers in the market than we would typically see this time of year. Some buyers are waiting to see what happens with their jobs, the economy, or just do not feel safe viewing properties. However, the pandemic has decreased the supply further. According to RMLS the week prior to the state-wide lock down, there were 272 new listings on the market. This past week there were only 173 new listings on the market, a decrease of 36%. To further tighten the inventory, during the past week, 183 listings went pending, which is 10 more listings than came on the market.
This data provides a good picture of what is going on in terms of numbers, but what does it mean to the buyers and sellers in the market today? We received multiple offers on our last 3 new listings during this pandemic. We have also had multiple buyers in bidding wars over the last couple weeks. For Sellers, this is showing that there is strong interest in the market right now due to the incredibly low inventory. We strongly advise Sellers to fully prep, clean, landscape and stage houses. This, along with pricing at market value will enable sellers to capitalize on the high demand and hope for multiple offers. For Buyers, this means that if you like a house, you need to make a quick decision to write an offer and really put your best foot forward. This can be difficult if you are looking for a good deal. Our best recommendation to such buyers is to look for properties that have been on the market for 30, 60, 90+ days and try to negotiate those sellers down on price. For all buyers right now, be prepared to lose out on a few houses because you have a lot of competition. Be patient, the right house will come around.
As always, we welcome any questions you may have and are happy to offer advice.
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.
Wishing Everyone a Happy and Safe Halloween!
Dear Friends and Family,
Happy Halloween! For those of you who don't know, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year! Please enjoy a night of fun. For those going Trick-or-Treating, remember to bring that umbrella or raincoat, as rain is always bound to happen on Halloween in the Northwest. For those still working on last minute costumes, click the link below for ideas from Pinterest.
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June’s Volunteer Event:
Windermere’s Community Service Day
Last Friday, June 20th, Windermere agents in Vancouver gathered to deliver food to a local food bank as part of the Windermere Community Day of Service. Thank you to all my clients who donated food to the Windermere Community Service Day Food Drive for the Fruit Valley Foundation. All donations by Windermere agents and clients resulted in over $2,000 of food being donated. My clients and I donated 16 bags of food to the event to support the Fruit Valley Foundation Food Bank. In addition, my boyfriend Winslow and I helped collect food from donors and delivered it to Fruit Valley Elementary School.