Hero Image

Our Blog

Why You Should Move to Silverton, Oregon

Whether you’re moving from across the country or across the state, Silverton, Oregon, has something to offer everyone. A growing economy, good schools, and plenty of things to see and do make Silverton an attractive place to call home. If you are thinking about moving to Silverton, Oregon, consider calling Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-663-8423. Our team of experts know the Silverton area and can help you find your perfect home.

Things to Do in Silverton

If you want an interesting place to live, Silverton is an ideal choice. Outside of the peaceful neighborhoods await a bevy of interesting things to see and experience. Nature lovers are particularly in for a treat, thanks to the lush surroundings and well-kept state parks. One of the most popular attractions is Silver Falls State Park. The falls themselves are located a short drive from downtown Silverton, and many locals make the most of this natural attraction by hiking, biking, and more.

If you prefer the urban life, Silverton has you covered. The charming downtown area teams with life, and residents love exploring cafes, restaurants, and more. One of the more distinct features of Silverton hide on the sides of many of these buildings: murals. The murals in Silverton celebrate local heroes and folklore figures, including astronaut Donald Pettit and Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who both called Silverton home.

A Nice Place to Live

On top of the charming restaurants and interesting things to do, residents appreciate the variety of places to live. Whether looking to own or rent, you can find something that fits your lifestyle. Nearby schools provide a great education for families, and plenty of businesses in the area mean that Silverton enjoys a low unemployment rate. To top it all off, gardens dot the city—Silverton is called “Oregon’s Garden City” for a reason!

Locals take part in plenty of Silverton traditions, including Homer Davenport Days, named after the famous political cartoonist who lived in Silverton. The event includes couch races, music, and more. For a more common celebration, locals dine at trendy restaurants or grab a drink at Seven Brides Brewing, which has become a staple in the Willamette Valley.

If you think Silverton is the right place for you, take the first step in moving to the area by calling Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-663-8423. Named Silverton, Oregon’s Business of the Year by the Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce, we are happy to be the first people to welcome you to Silverton. With our expertise, we will find you the ideal place to live for your needs. Contact us today and become a resident in one of Oregon’s best kept secrets!

Useful Moving Tips and Tricks

Moving is usually exciting, but it’s also a lot of work that many people don’t enjoy. From packing up all your belongings to transporting them and then arranging them in your new home, there’s a lot involved. Luckily the millions of people who have moved before you have come up with plenty of nifty moving tips and tricks to make your experience easier and more efficient.

  • Make a pile of all the clothing and other items you don’t want or need and donate them to charity.
  • Use up all the frozen food, half open containers, and perishable items in your kitchen so you don’t have to bring them with you.
  • Put in a change of address and update your information with utility companies and other accounts ahead of time.
  • Measure everything to make sure all of your furniture fits so you can be prepared if you need to sell/donate something and buy a new piece.
  • Use newspaper and magazines to pack fragile items but beware of the ink.
  • Never transport empty containers; use trash cans, laundry baskets, and suitcases like boxes.
  • If you need to disassemble furniture be sure to keep all hardware and screws in a labeled plastic bag.
  • Label all boxes with contents and which room they belong in. Also do this on the side in case the boxes are stacked.
  • Take pictures of the back of your TV and other devices so you remember exactly how they should be hooked up when you get to your new home.
  • Create handles for your boxes using a box cutter.
  • Keep your moving day essentials packed in an overnight bag so you don’t have to go through boxes to find what you need.

If you’re looking for a new home in the Northwest, call Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-663-8423.

How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent for You

When you’re looking for a new home, you’ll certainly need an experienced real estate agent to assist you throughout the process. With so many agents out there it can be difficult to determine who to work with. You’ve surely seen lots of yard signs and online advertisements, but how do you know who the best real estate agent for you is?

 

As with many other professionals, one of the first ways you can find a real estate agent is by asking family and friends for referrals. It’s recommended that you briefly interview at least three potential real estate agents to determine which would be best for you. Many experts say you should look for an agent with at least five years of experience, but less experienced agents are sometimes just as talented.

 

Find out if your potential agent is licensed by the state. While doing this you can see if there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions against the agent. You should also look for a real estate agent that does the job full time and not just on the side. It’s often best to go with an agent who is a designated Realtor, meaning they belong to the National Association of Realtors and abide by their strong code of ethics.

 

As well as being a Realtor, there are other specialized certifications you might want to look for which include CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), and SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist). You can look up your potential agent’s current listings online. Check to see that they don’t have too many to focus on or too few. You can also see how closely their current listings match up with the property you are trying to buy or sell.

 

To learn more about the real estate agents at Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group, give us a call at 503-455-4050.

5 things you should know before making an offer on a property

So, you’re ready to buy a house! Once you’ve found a house you love, it’s easy to get emotional about the process and rush to make an offer, so that no one buys it out from under you. It’s important, though, to take a step back and look at the property rationally, making sure you know what you’re doing before you jump right in. Make sure you know as much as possible about the house, the area, and the process before you sign anything or put down any money.

  1. Get to know the area. The house may be perfect, but how is the neighborhood? You can learn many things online, like the crime rate, local amenities, and reputation of area schools. Some things you’ll have to research in person, though. Take a walk through the neighborhood to see if it feels like a good fit. Talk to neighbors, if possible, both to meet potential friends and to learn of their experiences. Visit the house at more than one time of day and note things like traffic, noise, and activity levels in the neighborhood.
  2. Look beneath the surface. Schedule a home inspection, to rule out any potential problems with the house. In addition to this, find out all you can about the property online, like square footage and sales history. Ask questions of the homeowners, to learn all you can about the house, including why they’re selling, and do a walkthrough, even if you’ve seen the house before, so that you can look at it again with a critical eye and make sure it’s the right place for you.
  3. Make sure you can afford it. The house may be priced fairly, but have you looked into other costs? Ask about utility costs, homeowner’s association fees, and taxes, to get a clearer picture of how it fits into your budget. Once you’ve got a handle on all that, secure financing before making your offer.
  4. Check your commute. You may love your home, but if you spend all your time in traffic to and from work, that love may fade quickly. Map your route, estimating traffic at different times of day, and then actually drive the route, to see how it works in real life.
  5. Have a backup plan. It’s easy to have your heart broken if you commit to one house too quickly. Even if you think you’ve found the house that’s perfect for you, and you’ve got everything under control on your end, there are some things you can’t control. You have to wait for the seller’s response, and even if the offer is accepted, you’ve only just begun the process of negotiating terms. It’s a good idea to have a second and possibly even third option in mind, in case something doesn’t work out with your first choice.

Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group has been in business in Silverton, Oregon since 1994. Our agents are full-time, experienced professionals who provide our clients with exemplary service, building relationships instead of just collecting paychecks. We’d love to help you through the process of finding the right home, in the right area, for you. If you are looking for a home in Oregon, contact us at 503-663-8423.

Mortgages Made Easy

If you’re buying a home, you’re probably going to need a mortgage. The largest loans most people will ever acquire, mortgages are a big deal - but many people don’t really understand how they work. Fortunately, legislation in recent years has cleared away some of the mystery that used to cloak these important loans, making them easier to understand. If you’re taking out a mortgage, here are some things you need to know.

  • Credit matters. It’s hard to get a mortgage when you have poor credit, and if you do manage to get one, you’ll face some consequences due to your credit rating. Get a copy of your credit score before you apply for a mortgage, and see what you can fix ahead of time in order to get a better rate. If your credit is weak, and you don’t have time to fix it, you may need to find someone to co-sign for you, or come up with a larger deposit, in order to qualify for a mortgage.
  • Know whether you want a fixed or adjustable rate for your mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages (FRM) have the same interest rate and monthly payment for the life of the loan. This is great if you don’t like surprises, but the downside is that the interest rate may be higher than the rate you’ll start with on an adjustable rate mortgage. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) fluctuate with the market, starting out low, and then going up later. The low initial rates are appealing, but it’s important to ask plenty of questions about how high your ARM may go, to determine whether you’ll be able to afford it when it does.
  • Determine the length of time you want to carry a mortgage. Typically, mortgages are either for 15 or 30 years. If you spread the cost over 30 years, you’ll have a lower monthly payment, but if you can afford a higher payment, the 15-year mortgage will save you money in the long run. Of course, the shorter mortgage also means you’ll own your home outright sooner.
  • Understand the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval. Pre-qualification is simply what the lender believes you will be able to borrow, based on information you give during an informal conversation. Pre-approval requires documented information about your finances and gives you a conditional written commitment with a specific dollar amount for which you are approved. It’s a good idea to go through both of these processes before you start house shopping so that you don’t look for properties you can’t afford.
  • Know your rights as a consumer. The CFPB, or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has put some protections in place for borrowers so that they know exactly what they’ll be paying, and what they’ll get for their money. Lenders are now required to present documents three days before closing that detail:
    •  The loan estimate, including the monthly payment, closing costs, total amount of interest you’ll pay, and any prepayment penalty.
    • A five-year comparison of loans, so that you can clearly see how different loans compare before you make your decision.
    • Interest rate lock, if applicable, so that you’ll be able to see if you’re locked into an interest rate and for how long.
    • Closing disclosure, letting borrowers know how much they’ll have to pay at the closure, and where that money goes.

When you’re ready to buy a home, Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group can help. Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group has been in business in Silverton, Oregon since 1994. Our agents are full-time, experienced professionals who provide our clients with exemplary service, building relationships instead of just collecting paychecks. We’d love to help you find the perfect home, and we can also help you find a reputable lender when you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. If you are looking for a home in Oregon, contact us at 503-455-4050.

How to save money for a down payment

If you’re thinking about buying a house, you may be unsure of how you’ll come up with a down payment. You typically need anywhere between three and twenty percent of the sale price as a down payment in order to qualify for a loan, and that can amount to a hefty chunk of change. With the right strategy, though, you can get together the money you need.

  • First, determine how much you’ll need, and in what timeframe. You’ll need to estimate the desired amount, and set a goal for when you want to purchase your home, in order to make a plan to save for it. Once you know the basic facts, you can start to restructure your budget.
  • Next, look for ways to cut down on your spending. How can you shave a few dollars off each week? Can you go out to eat less, forego your morning latte, or reduce your clothing allowance? Every penny counts when you’re saving for a goal, so take a hard look at where your money is going. You might also consider selling some items, to bring in a little extra cash. Furniture and other household goods can be sold on eBay or Craigslist with minimal hassle.
  • Pay down debt, to make room for savings. If you hold a lot of credit card debt, it can really cut into your budget. Begin paying it off, starting with the highest interest card first. Once you have eliminated that one, apply its monthly payment to the next highest, and so on. You may find that paying off your credit cards frees up several hundred dollars each month, which can go into your down payment account.
  • Automate your process. Unless you’re really good at not spending money, you may need to set things up so that money goes straight from your paycheck into your savings account automatically. Sometimes, the money you don’t even see is money that you don’t miss spending.
  • Make use of your retirement account. First time home buyers are allowed to take up to $10,000 from an IRA to use as a down payment. Are you married? You can each take $10,000, making you $20,000 closer to your goal.
  • Consider laddering CDs. When you get some money saved, think about investing it so that it will grow, and a good way to do this is by purchasing CDs. “Laddering” means spreading your money across different CDs with varied dates of maturity, so that you have flexibility and can adjust your investment in order to get the highest yield.
  • Ask for a gift from a friend or relative. If you know someone who would be willing to help, make the most of that resource. The tax law allows gifts of thousands of dollars to be given with no tax consequences for the giver or the giftee. In 2017 the cap was $14,000 in a year, but it goes up every year to allow for inflation.
  • Look into special programs. There are programs to help first time home buyers purchase a home with little to no down payment. You can look into this on your own, or talk to a mortgage lender, who can point you in the right direction.

When you’re ready to buy a home, consider Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group. Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group has been in business in Silverton, Oregon since 1994. Our agents are full-time, experienced professionals who provide our clients with exemplary service, building relationships instead of just collecting paychecks. We’d love to help you buy a home, and can even put you in touch with trustworthy mortgage brokers, who can help you decide how much you need and how to achieve your home buying goals. If you’re looking for a home in the Willamette Valley, contact us at 503-663-8423.

Benefits of Working with an Experienced Agent

We live in an era of “do-it-yourself” projects. Whether you’re remodeling your bathroom or crafting a centerpiece, all you have to do is surf the net, do a little research, and voila! You’ve found a tutorial for doing it on your own. When you’re selling a house, though, you might want to rethink this approach. While self-reliance is admirable, there are many benefits to be gained by working with an experienced agent.

  • Selling your home is too important to leave to amateurs. Yes, there’s plenty of information on the web about how to sell your own home. On the other hand, this is the agents’ job, as well as being their area of expertise. Do you really want to manage the sale of your most important asset, relying on your own experience and know-how? Something this important should be handled by someone who knows what to do, and has done it many times before.
  • You’ve got other things to do. Our lives are hectic, and there’s much to do. If you’re selling a home, you’ve already probably got extra tasks on your plate, as you get the home ready to sell and keep it in “showing” condition. Do you really want to be fielding phone calls and talking to people who see the “for sale by owner” sign and decide to drop in? Leave all that to an agent, and spend your time on the other important things in your life.
  • Experienced agents have the inside scoop. Realty agents have access to the most reliable, up-to-the-minute information about properties in your area. They know how much homes are selling for, and they know how long they stay on the market. All this information gives them an edge in finding the right price for your home so that you can find the right buyer quickly.
  • An agent has connections. Just as they have access to a wider range of information than you do, realty agents know exactly who to call for all things related to selling homes. For a first time seller, it may be astonishing to learn how many people are involved in the sale of a home! Home inspectors, contractors, and closing attorneys are just a few of the people you may need to hire, and an experienced agent can cut out the guesswork when it’s time to find the right people.
  • Agents know how to market. In addition to having connections and access to more buyers, realty agents have marketing resources far beyond yours. They can help you prepare your home for the market, by making simple repairs, increasing curb appeal, and staging it exactly right to attract buyers in your area. They know exactly who to hire to get the right photos and videos, how to get the best results from an open house, and how to spread the word about your house so that you have plenty of offers when it’s time to pick a buyer.
  • The red tape on a home sale can be overwhelming. You might save money on closing costs by sidestepping a realty agent. On the other hand, there’s so much paperwork and so many legalities involved in selling a home that it may be worth it to turn that over to a professional. Not only can realty agents handle the negotiation of the sale, but they are also well versed in contracts, conditions, and everything else that goes along with selling a home. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that this very important financial transaction is being handled by a professional may be worth the cost of the agent in and of itself.

Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group has been in business in Silverton, Oregon since 1994. Our agents are full-time, experienced professionals who provide our clients with exemplary service, building relationships instead of just collecting paychecks. We’d love to help you sell your home, but we’re also happy to answer any questions you may have, or offer you a free market analysis, to help determine your home’s value. If you have a home to sell in Northwest Oregon, contact us at 503-663-8423.

What to Look for When Looking at a House

 

If you’re shopping for a new home, you’ll certainly want to see it in person. Many first time homebuyers are under the impression that they’ll “know it when they see it”. Sometimes that does happen, but not always. Unfortunately, your dream home might be out of your price range, but chances are you can find something you still love if you know what to look for.

 

Going to look at homes without a plan can be a waste of time. The following tips can give you a better idea of what to look for or what questions to ask when you start checking out potential properties.

 

Start the tour on the way to the home. Drive slowly and take note of what types of businesses, schools, churches, or any other places you’ll want to visit are nearby. See if you observe public transportation, potentially noise areas, airplanes overhead, and any other possible negatives.

 

Check out the outside first. While the inside of the home is the most important, spend a couple minutes looking at the home’s curb appeal. Consider whether or not you’ll have to put a lot of money into paint, windows, roofing, fencing, etc. Think about whether or not there is enough parking for your family and if the home feels safe and secure.

 

Take notes. If you’re visiting multiple homes, it becomes easy to get them confused with each other. Take notes on paper or on your smartphone, and take plenty of pictures while you’re at it. You can go back later and reconsider your options. 

 

Test out or ask about various systems. This includes the water pressure, the condition of the pipes, the furnace and water heater, electrical outlets, and more. If the power is on feel free to test out all the lights and outlets. You can purchase an inexpensive receptacle tester at your local hardware store.

 

To schedule a tour of homes for sale in the Willamette Valley area, call Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-873-8600.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home

Buying a home is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Between the time you decide to buy a home and the time you actually make the purchase, ask yourself the following questions so you can find the perfect home for you.

  1. How’s my credit score?

Buying a home is the most expensive purchase you’ll likely ever make. Paying interest on your mortgage payment is a necessary evil, but a good credit score can lower that amount. Luckily there are plenty of things you can do to increase your credit score including being current on all payments and improving your debt-to-income ratio. You might find that taking a few months to raise your credit score will end up saving you a lot of money over the course of your mortgage.

  1. How long do I want to stay in this area?

Buying a home is a big commitment, and you can’t just pick up your house and move it to another area. Many experts recommend not purchasing a home unless you plan on staying in it for at least five years. During that time your home may increase in value, so you’ll be able to sell it and move somewhere else if that better suits your needs.

  1. Can I afford all the costs associated with owning a home?

That’s great that you can afford your mortgage payment, but there are plenty of other costs associated with home ownership. Don’t forget about taxes and insurance in addition to utilities, repairs, and maintenance costs. You’ll need to take care of your lawn or backyard and unexpected expenses can actually be quite common.

 

If you’re looking for a new home in the Willamette Valley area, call Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-455-4050.

How to Find the Best Neighborhood for You When Moving

When it comes to what’s important when buying a home, one of the age-old phrases you hear is “location, location, location”. That old adage still holds true today. Unless you’re buying a multi-million-dollar custom built home chances are you can find a home with a layout and design comparable to something you’ve seen in another area.

Whether you want to be located close to work, school, certain attractions, nightlife, dining, shopping, or any other number of things, location is one of the most important considerations when buying a new home. So how do you go about finding the best neighborhood for you and your family?

One of the first things you should do is make a list of which qualities you want and don’t want in a neighborhood. This includes factors like noise, the age of the neighborhood, the average age of the residents who live there, and much more.

Be sure to visit each neighborhood you are considering both during the day and at night. Make sure there aren’t any unexpected surprises or that you don’t feel uneasy. Don’t be afraid to cross neighborhoods off your list and start from scratch; you don’t want to settle for something you won’t be comfortable living in.

Talk to other people who live in the neighborhood and ask the local police department for crime statistics. Check out test scores for the nearby schools and be sure the area will work for you for at least five to seven years. Check out the home values in the area and the commute times for private or public transportation. Look into the local property tax rates and evaluate other cost of living factors.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to one of two neighborhoods you’ll be ready to start looking at individual homes. Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-455-4050. We can help you find the right home in the right neighborhood.

Four Tips for Financing Your First Home

Buying a new home for the first time can be somewhat intimidating, but it’s also very exciting. Thankfully you aren’t the first home buyer to ever go through the process, and there are plenty of tips you can brush up on to make the process simpler and more efficient.

1. Check Your Credit

Like it or not, your credit score is one of the most important factors in qualifying for a home loan. The days of having to pay for your credit report seem to be over. There are plenty of sites that will allow you to review and monitor your credit report and score for free.

Check for mistakes and report them if you find any. Learn more about how to make positive changes to your credit score and implement them. Allow yourself plenty of time before you are actually ready to buy so your credit score can go up which will save you money.

2. Have Documents Ready

When you apply for a mortgage you’ll need documentation of your income and taxes. Many lenders require two recent paycheck stubs as well as your W-2s for the last two years and your tax returns and past two months’ worth of bank statements. Having these ready to go can save you time and avoid having to come back later.

3. Get Pre-Qualified

Decide how much you can afford to spend even before a mortgage lender lets you know how much you qualify for. You can calculate your debt-to-income ratio and add in your down payment to see where you stand as far as what you can afford. A mortgage lender can pre-qualify you which means you won’t have to do it individually for each house you are interested in.

4. Determine Your Down Payment

It can be difficult to come up with a significant down payment. Many states allow you to take out an assistance loan which is both interest and payment free and forgivable after five years. These are actually more like grants and can be a great help to first-time homebuyers. Speak with your lender for more information.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer in the Silverton, Oregon area, contact Harcourts NW Oregon Realty Group at 503-663-8423.

MAYBE THE TIME IS NOW

Many folks were severely impacted by the market crash in 2008 +. One of the major impacts was on those folks who owed more on their homes than the market would pay. Some did "short sales" (bank settles for less than owed), some went in to foreclosure, and many just "rode it out". With our current market moving from a Buyer's market to a Seller's market, as well as a shortage of inventory, values are increasing. Now is a good time to contact our office, and ask for a no cost or obligation market analysis to determine the value of your property. You may now be in a position to finally "get out" of the home your in, and into your dream home, or even downsize if that is your game changing plan. Remember please--there is NO COST OR OBLIGATION to get the information you are seeking. We look forward to helping you !

YOUR REAL ESTATE MARKET WATCH

Welcome to Episode 1!

 

Here is where you can find some of the "inside" info as to what is happening in the real estate market, tips for preparing your home for sale, new financing tools, and more.

 

A little background first, as we start our new real estate blog. NW Oregon Realty Group has been in business in Silverton, OR since 1994. We started in Ginni Stensland's Victorian home at the corner of 2nd and Main. We then moved to our current location when we purchased the building at 119 N Water St . Most of the original agents are still with us (a few have retired), and we have added additional agents for a current total of 15. They are all full time professionals dedicated to aiding their Sellers and Buyers through the process of either Selling or Buying.

 

We have been fortunate to have attained the Number 1 market share position in the Silverton, Mt. Angel market for many years.

 

We have kept up with the use of current tech tools: website/mobile website/QR Codes/Instant 24/7 Hotlines/Virtual Tours, and more in order to better serve our Sellers and Buyers.

 

Tune in to our Market Watch (now that introductions are over) for some up to date real estate info. We might even throw in a "true life" real estate story from time to time for your amusement.

 

Thanks to all of our past, and current clients and customers. We so appreciate your business and on going referrals!

 

Till the next time,

 

Connie Hinsdale
Principal Broker/Owner
NW Oregon Realty Group