8 Ways to Save For Your Downpayment

The housing market is on the upswing, the unemployment rate is ticking downward (5.2% in March, 2015) and the economy is improving. What this means is that many renters are once again eyeing the possibility of home ownership. There is one major hurdle to jump over however . . .

Your downpayment.

The median home price in Portland right now is $281,000 and the days of creative lending are, for the moment, a thing of the past. Most lenders want some kind of down payment and often the minimum required amount is 5%. If you just put 5% down on a $281,000 home that comes to $14,000 for your down payment.

Time to build up your savings account? Let’s get started.
1. Create a monthly budget. Savings are built one paycheck at a time. Some families budget by withdrawing the cash they have to spend on groceries, dry-cleaning, entertainment, etc. for the week and when the cash is gone – they stop spending. If you do choose to use credit cards, save those receipts and all family members agree to write down expenditures on a white board at home, subtracting each expenditure from the weekly or monthly budgeted amount.
2. Keep your Starbucks stock but stop helping the stock price rise. Move your coffee habit from coffee shops to a home brewing system. (Estimated savings: $1000/year)
3. Create a dedicated “House” account. As you save money each month, move the savings into a checking account labeled “House.” Money that goes into this account is off-limits.
4. Bag your lunch rather than eat out. (Estimated savings: $2600/year)
5. Save that Tax Refund. There are many advertisers that wisely (and I mean it’s wise for them – not for you) encourage you to spend your tax refund on frivolous pursuits. You have a budget. You don’t need that money. Put it in your dedicated “House” checking account and forget you ever received it.
6. Forget about those pesky Joneses. Yes, your neighbors in the renting world will spend, spend, spend and you will see those toys and long for them. A newer car, new fishing pole, new golf clubs, expensive toys for your children – all such items will pull at you. But you will have the last laugh as you sit in your new home while the Joneses wonder why they are wasting all that money on rent.
7. Re-allocate retirement savings. If your company matches up to 6% of your retirement contributions, contribute up to what they match, definitely. But during this savings bonanza on which you are embarking – stop your contributions above the 6% and put that money in the “House” account. Once you have your new home you can go back to contributing as much as possible but there are many retirement tools and a home is a good one and helps to diversify your portfolio while typically still providing a fantastic return on investment.
8. Turn your interests into a paycheck. Coaching youth soccer, ski patrol on the weekends, providing bartender or waiter/waitress services during high tip hours on the weekend – the ideas for how you can make money part-time doing something refreshing and different that you might even enjoy are endless.

Now visualize yourself sitting in that dream home enjoying the fact that your money is now building your equity rather than someone else’s equity. Saving money is fun when the end-goal is as compelling and satisfying as accomplishing your dream of home ownership.

Top 10 Kid-Friendly Home Tips

Children. Change. Lives.

You may have seen the State Farm commercial recently with a father that says, “We’re never having kids.” Then, “we’re never moving to the suburbs.” Then, “We’re never having one of those (pointing to a mini-van).” And, of course, we see him move a little into the future after each statement and he is experiencing exactly what he said they would never experience. At the end of the commercial, he is sitting with his family of four on the couch, lights low, movie playing, everyone snuggled up together and he says, “I’m never letting go.”


The Good News/Bad News About Flooring Options

The good news is that you have an array of options that is staggering. The raw material used to create your new floors ranges from old-fashioned hard woods to gin bottles, corn sugar, cork, bamboo and old wine barrels.

The bad news is that you have an array of options that is staggering. Trying to make a decision about which flooring works for which room can be daunting. In this article we will just have a quick overview of your choices and in later articles we will break down those choices and help you determine which flooring option work best in your situation.


Two Heavy Hitters in Home Design – Which Will Win You Over?

When deciding on your future home, you have lots of decisions to make. But one of the most compelling decisions and the one you might want to start with is:

Modern or Traditional?

Now some might throw “Contemporary” into the mix and they would be right to do so. While some think Modern and Contemporary are the same there are some differences. But that is a discussion for a different article. In this article we want the champ and the best challenger to go head to head. And Modern and Traditional are the big hitters in 2015. (more…)

HOT Fireplace Trends of 2015

Why are fireplaces a hot topic (last pun – I promise) of conversation when buying or remodeling a home? The reason is that fireplaces are becoming the focal point of the “talking spot” within your house. Each house has an area where the family or guests gather to talk and enjoy each others company. Especially with the burgeoning technology that tends to pull us apart (cell phones, games, IPads, etc.) – more and more families are looking for technology that pulls us together. And now we have that technology encompassed in an age-old concept – the fireplace.

Courtesy of Gordon's Fireplace Shop

Courtesy of Gordon’s Fireplace Shop


Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?

When buying a home there are 5 main questions – let’s take a look at them:

1. Do I buy a home?

After the housing crash, there are still many buying situations you will find out there from foreclosures to short sales to tighter lending standards. Do you understand your options and the advantages and disadvantages of each option? A realtor can be a great resource to walk you through the options and ultimately help you decide if now is even the best time to buy a home considering your personal situation.


Will housing continue to recover?

Rueters recently reported that Home Depot posted its strongest-ever fourth quarter in terms of sales growth, driven by demand for home renovations, including paint, flooring and appliances. The pickup in home renovations can be explained in part by the improved financial position of many households over the past three months due to an improving jobs market and lower gasoline prices. To what is all of this data pointing?


TurboTax of the Lending World?

Guess what is coming to Portland next? A company that claims to be able to accomplish with refinance loans what Turbo Tax accomplished with tax services.

The company is called Lenda. Mike Francis with the Oregonian reported on 02/25/15 that Lenda has just launched its service in Oregon.


More Hot Trends of 2015

Today, we continue our look at the hottest real estate trends of the year. The third contender represents a trend in society where we see websites that allow you to take off-the-shelf legal documents to use for your business, off-the-shelf websites services with ready-made websites you can adapt to your personal or business use and now . . .

3. Off-the-Shelf Blueprints: Buyers who don’t want to spend time or money for a custom house have another option. House plan companies offer blueprints that can be modified for site, code, budget, and climate conditions. There are many companies to consider, but the best bets are ones that are updating layouts for today’s wish lists—open-plan living, multiple master suites, greater energy efficiency, and smaller footprints for downsizers. Many builders will accept these outsiders’ plans, though they may charge to adapt them.

4. Freestanding tubs: Freestanding tubs may conjure images of Victorian-era opulence, but the newest options can show creativity and flare or simplicity and simple lines.


Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Porcelain floors: If you’re going to go with imitation wood, porcelain floor faux wood is the choice in 2015. It’s less expensive and experts say it wears as well as or better than the real thing. Porcelain can be found in traditional small tiles or long, linear planks. Good places to use this material are high-traffic rooms, hallways, and areas exposed to moisture.

6. The Future is Here: Prices have come down for technologies like web-controlled security cameras and motion sensors for pets. We are seeing 2015 homes add a number of fun gadgets that we just can’t live without (once we know they exist).

7. Multiple master suites: Having two master bedroom suites, each with its own adjoining bathroom, makes a house work better for multiple generations. Such an arrangement allows grown children and aging parents to move in for long- or short-term stays, but the arrangement also welcomes out-of-town guests. When both suites are located on the main level, you hit the jackpot.

8. Fireplaces and fire pits. The sight of a flame—real or faux—has universal appeal as a signal of warmth, romance, and togetherness. New versions on the market make this popular amenity more accessible with more compact design and fewer venting concerns.

9. Wellness systems. Builders are now addressing environmental and health concerns with holistic solutions, such as heat recovery ventilation systems that filter air continuously and limit energy use. Other new ways to improve your health include lighting systems that use natural sunlight, swimming pools that kick chlorine and salt to the curb by featuring a second adjacent pool with plants and gravel that cleanse water, and edible gardens starring ingredients such as curly blue kale.

Hot Trends in 2015

What is trending in real estate this year? What has everyone talking? Let’s take a look.

In real estate, trends are slow to arrive and they often hit commercial spaces first. And though they may entice buyers and sellers, it is worth remembering that trends are just that – trends. They might stay awhile, they might not. But while they are here they certainly are appealing and create a buzz – and when selling a home a buzz certainly doesn’t hurt. In this post, we will look at the first two:

1. Coral shades. A blast of a new color is often the easiest change for sellers to make, offering the biggest bang for their buck. Sherwin-Williams says Coral Reef is 2015’s color of the year because it reflects the country’s optimism about the future. “We have a brighter outlook now that we’re out of the recession. But this isn’t a bravado color; it’s more youthful, yet still sophisticated,” says Jackie Jordan, the company’s director of color marketing. She suggests using it outside or on an accent wall. Pair it with crisp white, gray, or similar saturations of lilac, green, and violet.

2. Open spaces go mainstream. An open floor plan may feel like old hat, but it’s becoming a wish beyond the young hipster demographic, so you’ll increasingly see this layout in traditional condo buildings and single-family suburban homes in 2015. The reason? After the kitchen became the home’s hub, the next step was to remove all walls for greater togetherness. Design experts at Nurzia Construction Corp. recommend going a step further and adding windows to better meld indoors and outdoors.

Want to know other hot trends of 2015? Stay tuned – we’ll address some of them in future articles.

Real Estate Investment Tip #29

Watch The Outskirts - When the properties in a major city or town go up in price to the point where they are overpriced (think Sellwood), the areas on the outer fringes most likely will soon be in demand. Areas in close proximity to major bus and rail transportation are even more desirable. Nearly any area that is about to install a major train stop or a new major bus route will see its proverbial stock go up in value.

To find out what’s planned, you can check with the local railroad or bus company to see if they will be expanding service in the area. The local town hall or planning department will also have this information.

– Geoffrey Pohl, your expert on Portland Real Estate and Portland

Real Estate Myth #2

Real Estate Myth #2: Even when the housing market recovers, home price growth will be only 4 to 6 percent per year — much less than historical average returns for the stock market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of realtors addresses this myth and helps to debunk it. Most buyers put less than 20 percent of their own money into a home purchase; this borrowing power can translate to a greater rate of return. This is how Yun explains it: Home price appreciation historically has been about 1 to 2 percentage points higher than consumer price inflation, which translates into about 4 to 6 percent per year. But this growth rate cannot be viewed as a rate of return like the stock market. The reason is that most people do not buy a home for all cash, instead making a cash down payment and borrowing the rest. The leverage this borrowing creates can magnify returns — and losses. If price growth returns to historic norms, the price growth of 4 percent can easily turn into 20 to 30 percent rate of return if the home buyer makes a down payment of 10 or 20 percent. Conclusion: make sure you understand your real return on your what you are investing (your monthly mortgage), factoring in tax advantages as well.

  • Geoffrey Pohl, expert on Portland real estate and Portland

How much is your home worth?

How much has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your area SuccessSignselling for?

There are many reasons why you might want to find out the value of your home and we at Pohl Real Estate would love to help you with an update. Even if it is not yet time to sell, knowing the value of your home can bring peace of mind and help you understand one of the most important pieces in your financial portfolio.

Take advantage of this free service by calling 503-488-5848 or e-mail geoffrey@pohlrealestate.com.

Geoffrey Pohl, offering expertise on Portland real estate and Portland

Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Want to Add Value to Your Home?

The Portland real estate market is appreciating so here are ten ways to increase the value of your home. Some will be easy and some more complicated but use your budget accordingly to gain the highest dollar value sale.

1. Clean and Declutter. Increase your homes inside square footage … visually that is. You would be surprised at how often this is overlooked. I  always tell my clients to pack first and commit to the sale. Removing the wall of family photos, the collections of horses or pigs or cows, and the extra furniture will go along ways towards giving it a larger cleaner look and feel.

To Read More

Has the Portland Real Estate Market Stabilized?

Being a Realtor in Portland, Oregon  sure feels like the real estate market is stabilizing.  Every month there are more and more areas and suburbs of Portland that are appreciating in value when compared to a year ago and more and more areas the Average Sales Price Percent Change are also moving into positive territory at a rapid pace. The inventory in Portland has dropped from January to July every single month and the time on market has decreased significantly as well.  All indication is yes the market is stabilized and poised for some long term steadiness rather than the sharp falls and rises that we have been accustomed to since 2008.

To Read More