What new homeowners need to know about their house

TreesSo you have just purchased your new home and are so excited to start making it your own. What an exciting time!

Congratulations! Following are some important things you need to know as soon as possible about your new house.

  1. Know where gas lines and main water lines are, and where the shut off valves are for each.
  2. Call 811 to find out where major lines are leading to and from house before digging any holes for trees, water features, sprinklers, etc.
  3. Get yourself a good stud finder, and drill no more than 1 – 1 ¾ “ into a wall before you start hanging heavy items, such as that TV wall mount. There are pipes, electrical wiring, etc. in your walls, and you don’t need the extra expense of repairing wiring or plumbing as a new home owner.
  4. Can’t wait to put in a new deck but there’s a tree in the way? Many cities and counties in Portland require permits to cut down trees. But once you have that permit, unless you really know what you’re doing, you really should hire a professional. Trees often don’t fall the way you expect them to, and roof damage to your home, or your neighbors’ isn’t a great start to home ownership.
  5. If you had a home inspection, you should know the depth of your insulation, but in case you don’t, a trip up to the attic might be in order. Insulation should be 10-14 inches deep to really do a good job, so locate your attic access, get a ladder and take a peek. (Hint: if you can see the joists in your attic, you don’t have enough insulation).
  6. Make sure the soil around the foundation of your home slopes away from the foundation. The moisture from standing water around the foundation can weaken foundation walls. If it freezes, it can cause cracks that can lead to major foundation damage and major expensive repairs down the road.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared, just in case a disaster strikes, or just a small error on your part requires fast action. Take an hour or so to become really familiar with your new house,  write it down, and keep the information on a bulletin board so it is readily available to all members of your household.

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Is the Portland housing market showing signs of slowing a bit?

real estate sold sign for newsletterIt’s no news to any buyers out there in the Portland housing market that homes on the east side have been selling in a matter of a few days. This includes houses as far south as Milwaukie, and as far east as Oregon City.

Housing inventory in March dropped to 1.9 month’s supply; far below a healthy level of 3+ months. While there are a steady stream of new listings, these are usually selling in just a matter of days. What’s even more disturbing is the number of “as is” listings that we are seeing. Fortunately for buyers looking for homes on the west-side, the market is quite a bit more normal.

Buyers are being driven primarily by low mortgage rates, but in fact, we are also seeing more cash buyers than at any time in prior years. There is no way to track just where the cash is coming from; it could be from parents, relatives, pooling funds from multiple buyers, and/or out of area buyers who are moving to Portland at the rate of approximately 30,000+ people every year. But it’s also springtime; traditionally the busiest home buying season of the year.

Most buyers, even those with cash, are seeing competition so fierce, it’s actually been scary. Some buyers have reported making as many as 20 offers on homes before they got one accepted. In the hottest areas, primarily just east of I-5, many homes have been selling at 10%-20% above list price and more. And this is affecting homes priced as high as $500,000 – $600,000! This is not because houses are deliberately been priced low, thought that does happen; but because we honestly don’t know where to price houses anymore. Comparable pricing of houses that sold 6 months ago are almost meaningless in a market that is moving so fast.

The sad part is that many would be home owners are being priced out of the market.

Suddenly in the last week or two, we have seen the market slow down a bit. Most sellers haven’t been receiving 10-20 offers, but more around 5-6. Unfortunately it’s way too early to say the trend is towards a slow-down. It could just be that a lot of buyers took a break. We did just recently have spring break week, where many would be buyers left town, so that could account for the slow-down. We’ll just have to watch and see.

On the up-side, Labor Day is just around the corner when the housing market almost always slows down from Labor Day through the end of the year. In fact, historically, those are the best months to buy, if only we didn’t have the threat of rising interest rates hanging over us.

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