When should you take real estate advice from anyone but your own real estate agent?


When you let friends and family know you’re getting ready to purchase or sell a home, you’ll get plenty of advice. As a real estate professional, I advise you to be wary of it.

Both buyers and sellers have been disappointed with their results when they took the wrong advice from a friend, a neighbor, an attorney, an accountant, Cousin Gus who sold real estate back in 1982, or Aunt Sally who sells real estate in another State.

But think about it…

Those who live in your community can give you at least one good bit of advice – they can recommend an agent who served them well (or warn you about one who did not.)

And anyone who has been involved in a real estate transaction recently can give you something more – warnings to help you avoid the mistakes they made.

They can tell you what happened when they failed to take their agent’s advice – and did things to harm their own chances of buying or selling.

Home sellers can tell you about mistakes such as over pricing their home, insisting on being present for showings, and getting insulted and refusing to negotiate low offers.

Home buyers can tell you about the time wasted making low-ball offers or the disappointment of losing out on the home of their dreams when they decided to “sleep on it” overnight.

So listen to your friends and relatives – just don’t listen when they give you pricing advice, and don’t listen if they tell you to ignore advice from your own experienced real estate professional.

When you want expert advice about real estate right here in Portland, call me. I’ll be glad to share.

Selling market is getting stronger everyday!

Happy Spring Season!






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Searching for a Home? Think twice about your “must-haves.”

When you begin the search you’re filled with the hope and belief that the perfect home is out there somewhere, just waiting for you to find it.

That could be true – but it probably isn’t.

Searching for a home that you believe is perfect in every way can leave you frustrated, frazzled, and tired from spending days or weeks on the hunt.

So stop and think twice. Choose the most vital “must-haves” and focus on them. And think about the fact that you CAN make changes after the house is yours.

For instance, if you must have a fence for your dogs or for your children’s safety, find out what it costs to have one built and adjust your housing budget to accommodate that expense. That new fence could be up within days of closing.

The same goes for things like granite counter-tops or stainless steel appliances. If the floor plan is good and you love the location – you can remodel the kitchen to suit your own tastes.

The one thing you can’t change after the purchase is location. Even if you love the house you may grow to hate it if you’re spending two hours on the road every morning and evening.

So focus your energies on finding a nearly perfect home in an absolutely perfect location.

When you’re ready, I’ll be glad to help you search for “perfect” – and glad to point out ways that “nearly perfect” can be transformed into the home of your dreams.


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But I don’t want to leave during a showing!

You’ve heard it many times. Whether here in Portland or anywhere else in the world, home sellers need to be out of the house when buyers come through.

But why? What if the buyers and their agent have questions and need answers? I’m the one who knows all about this house.

Sellers need to be away for four reasons:
1. The seller’s presence can cause buyers to leave before they’ve had time to fall in love with the house.

When the sellers are home, most buyers are shy. They’re hesitant to open closet doors or turn on faucets to check the water pressure. They feel uncomfortable and won’t stay long enough to really get a feel for the house or to stand around trying to decide if their furniture will fit.

2. Sellers who get into conversations with buyers or their Brokers can destroy their own bargaining positions.

For instance, they may ask why you’re moving and your answer might indicate that you’re in a hurry and really need to sell. Thus, their offer will be lower than it might have been.

It really is no one’s their business why you’re moving. It has nothing at all to do with the value of the house. But if someone asks you a direct question, you may find it difficult not to answer.

If the buyers are truly interested and have a valid question, their Broker will contact your Broker.

3. You could be drawn into a verbal negotiation that’s not in your best interests.
Some buyers are pushy and don’t want to wait to write an offer and have it presented. Instead, they’ll approach the seller with “Would you take…”

Answering that question without knowing all the details that go into an offer could clearly be against your best interests. “X dollars” could turn into “X minus many thousands” in seller concessions by the time the offer is written.

4. Personality conflicts. You and those potential buyers might simply not like each other from the minute you meet. It could be a matter of attitude, or the buyers might make a statement about the house that you feel insulting. Some people see that as a form of negotiation, but when it’s your home being attacked, it can make you angry.

For whatever reason, you may decide you don’t want them to have your house.

The buyers might decide they don’t like your “energy” and don’t want to live in a house where you lived.

As your Broker, I serve as a buffer between you and the buyers – protecting your interests. If they or their agents have questions I can’t answer, I’ll contact you immediately.

So – for your own sake, please leave while your home is being shown.


Posted in For Sale, Making an offer, Pricing to sell, Selling, Tips | Leave a comment

Safety tips for home sellers


Offering your home for sale means inviting strangers into your home. And while most of those strangers will be honest people simply looking for a home, you need to take precautions against those who are viewing homes for illegal purposes.

To protect yourself, your family, and your possessions, follow these rules:

• If you’re at home, never let anyone in without an agent – and never let anyone in even with an agent unless they’ve called your agent to identify themselves and make an appointment. They may have called 10 minutes ago, but the call at least indicates that they are who they say they are.
• If your agent uses a lock box/ key safe, showings could occur when you aren’t home, but only agents will have access to the key.
• If your children are at home when you’re absent, be sure they know not to open the door to strangers.
• Lock up your valuables. Never leave money, jewelry, or expensive items that could fit in a pocket out where they can be seen. Instead, put them in a locked drawer or safe.
• Lock up your prescription medications – especially if you take pain killers or anti-depressants.
• Put away checkbooks, credit cards, and personal paperwork such as credit card bills, medical bills, insurance forms, and pay check stubs. Identity theft is a growing threat to everyone, so be careful.
• Put away treasured breakables. Some buyers bring along children who are “into everything.” Others carry handbags or wear coats with big sleeves. Accidents happen.
• If you have pets, put them in a kennel cage when you’re not at home and during showings. DON’T expect an agent to prevent your cat or dog from running outside when the door is opened. Most animals are afraid and will run out the door! And… don’t expect your dog to be friendly to strangers. Even the gentlest dog will bite if provoked or if guarding you or your home. If the dog is loose, be sure your agent has it noted in your listing along with the animals name. You don’t need a lawsuit.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so take these simple precautions and feel secure that all is well while your home is being shown.
When you’re ready to buy or sell a home here in Portland, get in touch. I’ll be glad to share the ways that I help protect your interests.

Realtor Francesca

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Buying a Home During the Holiday Season


If you’re looking for a home here in Portland during the holiday season, it probably means you need to find a new home. It’s not just a move you’re thinking about for the future.

Perhaps you’re relocating  for a new job, coming because family needs you nearby, or you’ve simply sold your previous home and want/need to get settled.

In that case, there’s good news for you.

You’ll have less competition – and less chance of getting into a “bidding war” over the home you want. Not only are fewer buyers looking right now, many agents are taking time off, making it more difficult for buyers to connect with their agents to arrange showings.

You’ll have fewer homes to view – which is a mixed blessing. It’s true that you won’t have as many choices, but that will save you time in looking. And… those sellers who choose to interrupt their lives with showings during the holidays are just as motivated as you are. Coming to an agreement could be easier than it would be in mid-summer.

What about holiday décor covering up flaws? Don’t worry. Your home inspector will look behind the décor.

So if you want or need to find a new home in December, get in touch. I’m here, working, and happy to help you find the home of your dreams.

Enjoy the Season!


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Selling your Home During the Holiday Season


Should you keep your home on the market during the holiday season? Of course it’s up to you, but do remember that those who are looking at homes instead of doing “holiday things” are likely to be serious buyers. In fact, they may be out of area buyers who need to find a home during their children’s school holiday.

It IS a bother – trying to keep the house in showing condition while you’re doing all the other holiday preparations. That said, if you decide to stay with it, think about how you decorate, and do take precautions.

Decorating should be pretty, tasteful, and not overwhelming. You still want buyers to see the house and notice all its fine benefits and features. So don’t go overboard.

Safety: I’ve warned you before about putting small valuables away when your house is likely to be shown – extend that to small valuables that might be under the tree. The showing Broker  will do his or her best to protect your belongings, but if there are 2 or 3 people looking together, a small item going into a pocket could go unnoticed.

More safety: Insist on appointments. Know who is going to be in your house and when. If someone comes to the door claiming to be an Broker and asking for a tour, make them go back to your own Broker and make the appointment.

It’s sad to say, but people posing as a Real Estate Broker and buyers could be there just to “case the joint” and see whether it’s worth their while to come back when no one is home. (Is your social calendar posted on the kitchen bulletin board? You might be telling a thief exactly when it’s safe to drop on by.)

If you’re going to be away during the holidays (or any time your home is listed), tell your Broker where you’re going, when you’ll be gone, and how to reach you while you’re away. Don’t tell anyone else – especially not potential buyers and especially not friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Of course, the caution not to alert your social network holds for any time you’ll be away – not just when your home is listed.

If you’d like to discuss putting your Portland home on the market. I’ll do all in my power to keep you, your home, and your possessions safe.

Enjoy the Holidays!



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The purchase price is NOT the only component of a your home purchase offer

While most sellers look first at the stated purchase price of a home in Portland, the price is really only the starting point. Other details reveal the true costs to the buyer and the true proceeds to the seller.

The most obvious is the request for the seller to pay the buyer’s closing costs. Depending upon the loan program, this could be as much as 9% of the purchase price.

On a home valued at $200,000, paying buyer’s closing costs could mean an $18,000 reduction in proceeds for the seller – and an $18,000 savings for the buyer.

Then there are the inspections and repairs. Every purchase offer should include a set figure that the seller agrees to spend on repairs, if required. This figure must be deducted when the seller is looking at probable net proceeds. And then, if more expensive repairs are needed buyers and sellers must either return to negotiations or let the transaction die.

But those aren’t the only factors that can affect the buyers’ or the sellers’ finances.

Timing can also play a role. If the buyer is leaving another home or the seller is buying a new home, the closing/possession date can save or cost them dollars. Think of the cost of putting your household furnishings into storage and renting temporary shelter in the interim between closing on one home and moving into another.

Next, look at what’s included in the purchase price. Kitchen and/or laundry appliances may already be included per the listing. If not, the buyers can ask for them. Inclusion saves the buyers money, while it may cost the sellers to replace them in their new home. So even though these items are not given monetary value on the purchase offer, they do have value that both parties need to consider

The same is true for items like a riding lawn mower. The seller may not need one in their next home, but leaving it behind does add value for the buyer.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home here in the Portland Metro area, before you focus on the stated purchase price, look at the true price. You’ll see it after you make the additions and subtractions.

If you have questions about these costs and how they affect your bottom line, call me at 503-686-5375 or drop me a note at PortlandRealtor@POBox.com. I’ll be happy to speak with you.

And when you’re ready to buy or sell a house or condo here in beautiful Portland, it would be my pleasure to guide you through a smooth transaction.

Francesca Novak, Principal Broker
Windermere Bridgeport
Licensed in Oregon

Posted in Condos, For Sale, Homes For Sale, Pricing to sell, Selling | Leave a comment