What Qualities Should You Look for in a House?

“Location, location, location” is the stereotypical answer to the question, but location has several important meanings:

Neighborhood – How does this home fit in with other homes in the immediate (4–6 square blocks) area. You don’t want the most expensive home in the neighborhood because you won’t get the value out of it when you sell (which if you don’t your kids will). Today lots of my buyers want to be within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and other services. How important is distance (time) to freeways or public transit to you? Commute time to work? I once found a home that was exactly what my buyer wanted, but it was across the street from a strip club. No sale.

Schools – even if you don’t have school age children today, whoever buys it from you may have, so give serious thought to the quality and distance of public schools.

Architecture – is this a super-modern design in an all-traditional neighborhood, or vice versa? Is it the style that was popular in the 1960’s? 1920’s? 2000’s. Many neighborhoods have a balance of styles, but you probably don’t want the only one of whatever style in the whole neighborhood

Size – You don’t want the largest home in the neighborhood, but you do want one that is appropriate for your family (and an average family when it’s time for you to sell). That’s not just square footage or number of bedrooms. 4-BR in an 1100 SqFt home makes for awfully small bedrooms, and likely no formal dining room or separate family room. I just got a flyer for a 1970 SqFt home with only two BR. Keeping it close to more normal BR to size ratio will mean the home will hold its value.

Siting on the lot – The first question is corner lots, which typically have very small “back” yards, because both “front” and “side” may eat up space without being usable. Too many homes have half the lot as a front yard, again leaving little space for the back yard we all tend to use more.

Floor plan – I once showed a home with three BR’s, all on the second floor, and only one bath, on the main floor. Worse, the only route from the BR to the BA was through the living room, dining room AND kitchen. That (or any floor plan) may be OK for some people, but you want one that works for YOU.

I see lots of real estate flyers that brag about how terrific the home is for “entertaining”, which is great for people who actually “do” entertain frequently, but I suspect for most, “entertaining” only happens 2–3 times a year, so that floor plan may have lots of wasted space for day to day living. When was the last time you “entertained”? How often? If the answer is more than 12 times a year, that may be an important consideration for you.

Age – Victorians can be charming but the older the home the more time and money you’re likely to spend on maintenance. If you have (or plan to have) little children, you might consider post-1978 (when the US outlawed lead paint, which can be poisonous if little ones chew on railings or door frames, or…). Which is not to say everything built in the last five years is maintenance-free, but it is likely to have more energy-efficient furnace and appliances, windows and insulation. I recently worked with a couple who didn’t want to see anything built after 1960, in the belief that the home’s “bones” were likely to be better and anything else (insulation, appliances) could be replaced at reasonable cost.

Price and Financing – Foremost you want to wind up with a payment, including taxes & insurance (and HOA dues if any) that is not stretching every last dollar from the rest of your income. Leave yourself a little to eat out now and then, fly to see the relatives, and God forbid, other emergencies. Just because you can qualify for $X payment and therefore $Y purchase price, you may not want to go that far. When I bought my first house, mortgages were 20% down and everyone got the same rate. You either qualified or your didn’t. Today, there are nearly hundreds of different mortgage programs to fit every conceivable financial situation (and BTW you don’t need that 20% down – 3.5% down mortgages are easily available – 0% if you’re a veteran. A Mortgage Banker or Broker is your best choice for the widest selection.

Discuss all this with your Realtor before you start previewing homes. Most Realtor’s business is built on referrals and we want you to be so happy with your new home (and the buying process) that you’ll tell your friends and family.

How will you know? After we’ve been in a house for 10–15 minutes, I ask my buyers, “Can you see yourself living here?” Most people know by that time, and if the answer is “Nope” then nothing else matters. Go view the next house on your Realtor’s list. When it’s “yes” (or better yet, “YESSS!!!” then you’re ready for the next steps.

Posted on September 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Dave Sutton | Category: Uncategorized

Nine Ways to Make Your House More Photogenic

Nine good points, from today’s NY Times.  In my 14 years experience staging has two advantages for the seller: 1) higher sale price and 2) quicker sale.  Many times staging can be done with the seller’s own furniture, as with this condo I recently listed which sold for 13% over list in a week.

 

Posted on April 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm
Dave Sutton | Category: Home Buying, Home Selling, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Where to Buy the Perfect Christmas Tree?

If you’re looking for a Christmas Tree Farm, click here for an interactive map of Portland area places, courtesy of our friends at First American Title.

 

Dave Sutton Portland Real Estate Tree Farm

Posted on November 30, 2016 at 5:34 pm
Dave Sutton | Category: Portland Events & Activities, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Have a coat or warm blanket to donate? I’ll pick it up.

From now until December 16, Windermere offices in Portland are collecting warm blankets and coats.  Drop off at any office listed here OR I’m happy to pick it up.  

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Posted on November 5, 2016 at 9:26 am
Dave Sutton | Category: Portland Events & Activities, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized

Portland is hopping in November

Here’s a list from our friends at First American Title (I’m up for the Turkey Trot)

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Posted on November 4, 2016 at 11:28 am
Dave Sutton | Category: Portland Events & Activities, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged

Portland area Pumpkin Patches & Haunted Houses

From our friends at First American Title, click here for an interactive map with all the details.

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Posted on October 7, 2016 at 10:13 am
Dave Sutton | Category: Portland Events & Activities, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Coat or blanket to donate? I’ll pick it up !

It's the time of year when there's an even greater need for coats and blankets.  Windermere's Share the Warmth Coat & Blanket Drive is under way and my office (825 NE Multnomah St. on the ground floor) is a drop off point, BUT if it's better for you, contact me and I'll come and pick up your donation.  

Posted on November 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Dave Sutton | Category: Portland Events & Activities, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged

How Fast are Oregon Homes selling?

While the chart shows Oregon as less than 30 days, the reality is that any decent Portland home that's fairly priced will be gone in a week.  My last listing went live on MLS at 8:00 PM on a Saturday night.  We received 10 offers by Wednesday and accepted $56,000 over the list price.  

Besides the fact that the market is hot, this seller had wisely decided to have a home inspection before it went on the market, and fixed everything the inspection report turned up.  I recommend the pre-listing home inspection to all my sellers. Even if you don't want to fix everything, you get the time to generate multiple estimates for the work, instead of being presented with the buyer's bid late in the standard 10-day inspection period when you can't realistically get a contractor to show up in time to get any competing estimates. It's almost like agreeing to the highest repair estimate before you even see it.  Much better to have the time to get your own and either do the repairs or credit the buyer the amount of the lowest estimate. 

Posted on September 2, 2015 at 10:57 am
Dave Sutton | Category: Home Buying, Home Inspection, Home Selling, Portland Real Estate, Portland Real Estate Statistics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Want to help families impacted by wild fires?

If you'd like to directly help families suffering from the current wildfire epidemic in the Northwest, this link to the Windermere Foundation will send 100% of your donation to local organizations in the area you designate or to your billing zip code: http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/posts/the-windermere-foundation-wildfire-fund

 

 

Posted on August 26, 2015 at 5:29 pm
Dave Sutton | Category: Uncategorized

Thinking of cutting down that tree?

Sometimes trees die or outlive their location.  It's unfortunate, but true.  But before you fire up the chain saw, be sure to check with your city.  Many require permits and there are fines for cutting without.  City of Portland permit is $25 but the fine can be $1,000.  Also consider leaving the whole job to a professional.  This is one of those jobs that may look simpler than it really is.  

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 9:33 am
Dave Sutton | Category: Home Selling, Portland Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,