Beautiful 2 Story Cedar home. 3 bedroom, 2 baths in the heart of downtown Jacksonville. Beautiful landscaping surrounds the entry of the home. On the main floor is the living room, open and spacious kitchen with stainless steel appliances, one of three bedrooms with a sitting area, dining area open to the living room, full bathroom and laundry closet with washer and dryer. The entry way boasts soaring ceilings with an open staircase leading upstairs where you will find a second full bathroom and two additional bedrooms, laminate and vinyl tile flooring, and newer carpet. Close to schools, shopping, park, restaurants and hiking trails.
There is nothing easy about moving but there are some wise tips I have learned over the years that can make moving much easier. I have been a Realtor for 15 years and have watched over 1,000 clients move. I’ve also helped friends, mother and grandmother, so I have seen a lot of pain but I have acquired a lot of wise ideas that made the process easier.
Whether you are moving yourself or helping a friend or family member, here are 6 tips that have made moving much easier.
Come up with a plan – Make a plan that is easy, doesn’t overwhelm you and has a comfortable timeline. Just keep it simple. Give yourself deadlines and work the plan. Life is played out in chapters and a new home or new location can be one of the best chapters in your life, so think of the benefits of the move and work the timeline of your plan.
Start Now – Start by interviewing real estate brokers and choose one that you’re comfortable with who can help you select all the vendors. You can let your Realtor be your Project Manager and help manage those vendors. Get advice from your Realtor, but you may need a list of contractors such as painters, carpet installers, gardeners, movers and estate liquidators to prepare your home for sale. If you’re selling a house you will need to know the value of your home and how much you will net before you can calculate the price of the next home you may buy. Start packing now. So many times when I bring an offer to the sellers, their first reaction is, “oh no – we need to pack!” If you pack a little each day over time it makes it a lot easier.
Get rid of your stuff – This part paralyzes some people who have a great attachment to their belongings and have assigned a sentimental value to all their possessions. You have three options with your belongings: you can move them, store them, or get rid of them. There is a lot of great help out there from Estate Liquidators. They come in, mark what you don’t want, then they sell it on eBay, Amazon, or through an Estate Sale or Auction. They take a cut but you make some money and reduce what you have to move. If you are one of those people who can’t part with your possessions and they are overwhelming you, then I suggest you store them. This can really help a lot of people who don’t want to make a decision on what to get rid of. Anything in question, simply store it in public storage. In a year, go back to the public storage and see if you really “need” anything in storage or if it’s time to sell it and use the money elsewhere.
Preparing your house for sale – Most houses I see don’t need much preparation before they sell. You do need to complete any projects that were started and not completed, as no one wants to buy someone else’s projects, but this is not the time to start major renovations. Focus on the first impression which usually entails fresh carpet (clean or replace), fresh paint (touch up or do entire walls), fresh bark, new bark on garden beds with fresh flowers at the entry. You may have to do more serious clean-up to undo smoke or pet smell, or to repair deferred maintenance that may be obvious.
Selling your home – Vacant homes are great and they can be staged with furniture that is attractive to all buyers. If you have the financial resources to go ahead and move before you sell, that’s the best way to do it. You can get a “bridge” loan that will help you buy your next house, and then when you sell your current house you pay off all or part of the bridge loan. If you’re not in a position to get a bridge loan and you are living in the house when it goes up for sale, don’t be there when your house is shown – take a walk or go to the neighbors. Buyers want to be alone to bond with the house and imagine that it’s their house. Another tip is to negotiate with the buyer to have extra time after the close of the escrow to stay in the house so you have more time to move without feeling rushed.
Moving day – Your Realtor can help provide you with a list of movers. They come in every variety. You can get movers that move you a block or across the country. Movers can simply load your boxes and move them or they can help you sort, wrap, pack, move and unpack! The more the movers do, the less you do, but it can get costly. You’ll also need to call and cancel all the utilities (garbage, cable TV, internet, gas, electric & water). You also need to call your Insurance company and cancel you home insurance but may want to change it to a renter’s policy if you are occupying after close. Lastly, go on-line and do a change of address with the post office as well as all your magazines and newspaper.
If you use some of these tips hopefully your move won’t be too painful; and, if you think you are going to have an emotional attachment to your old house you may be surprised how quickly that goes away!
But will they continue to increase?
Being so involved in real estate we look at sales numbers and home values every month, quarter and year. Sometimes the numbers go up and sometimes the numbers go down, but if you look at the numbers over a longer period of time they tell a clear story. In the last 5 years, Jackson County has seen the median price of a home increase by over 66%. The story is even better when you consider most of that price increase has come in the last three and a half years as 2011 and 2012 were flat for real estate values. Currently, homes are selling quickly, pending sales are up, and the number of homes available on the market has dropped 12.7% over last summer. To everyone’s surprise interest rates have stayed low and are still below 4%. There is a general housing shortage in Jackson County and new home starts aren’t keeping up with the demand. From 2007 – 2013, during the housing crisis, there were very few homes or apartments built in Jackson County and we’re feeling the lack of housing now. We have had population and age growth. Lots of millennials are now looking for their own housing and retirees are back in large numbers. Many who tried to retire in the late 2000’s had to wait for their equity to return in their homes and their 401K’s to return to pre-recession values. On the rental front rates continue to rise and supply is extremely limited. Homes for rent below $1,000 month are rare and have flocks of tenants competing to rent them.
Here is the Median Price of a home in 2011 compared to 2016 by area:
2011 2016 % increase
Ashland $290,000 $392,500 35.3%
Talent $178,250 $273,750 53.6%
Jacksonville $216,025 $343,450 59.0%
West Medford $87,550 $178,250 103.6%
SW Medford $151,500 $229,500 51.5%
East Medford $165,000 $260,000 57.6%
Central Point $126,850 $214,950 69.5%
White City $87,050 $170,000 95.3%
Eagle Point $133,000 $256,000 92.5%
Rural Properties $210,400 $325,000 54.5%
Jackson County Totals $147,500 $245,500 66.4%
The Housing Market the Next 5 years?
Predicting what any market will do in the next 5 years is tricky, at best, but if you look at the economic factors causing home values to increase they seem to be on track to continue.
Our current housing shortage will no doubt decrease as developers and builders catch up to demand; but that will take time, at least a few years. In the meantime, demand is increasing and homes sales are increasing. Southern Oregon is becoming more attractive to tourists and retirees and our senior population is slated to double over the next 30 years, so all of this should keep demand growing.
The US economy has been growing now for six years, and it looks like it’s going to continue to grow. My overall view of the U.S. is that we’ve recovered more strongly than any other industrial country and our medium term prospects are probably also the best of any industrial country. There are lots of concerns over a sluggish global economy and the possible results of Brexit. The great news is we live in an area that has few to no businesses involved in international trade so the global economy has very little effect on our area. Some aspects of our local economy are doing extremely well – We have a large agricultural base that is experiencing growth in the wine industry, we are one of the few areas that has banned GMO’s and now the legalization of marijuana. 40% of all the licenses issued by OLLC to grow marijuana commercially in Oregon have been issued to Jackson and Josephine County, so apparently we have the perfect soil and climate for growing pot and although we are less than 5% of our states population, we’ll be growing 40% of the pot. Our medical and retail industries are also growing with many new medical services popping up along Barnett and McAndrews, and retailers such as Men’s Wearhouse, Home Goods and Marshalls are opening soon.
The rental market has gone crazy in the past few years with three inter-related trends that have impacted the rental market and have caused rents to skyrocket in Southern Oregon and throughout the United States.
The first is the rapidly growing population. There has been very little building during the recession and it hasn’t kept up with the population growth. Along with the population growth, there has been rapid age growth in the number of young Americans. There are millions of millennials or, young adults, that have grown in age and are now moving out of their parent’s basements. In general, they do not have the money, credit scores or income to qualify for a home mortgage. Their only options are to rent or live with their parents.
Second, is the millions of families that lost their homes in the “Great Mortgage Fiasco”. Hundreds of thousands of families across the nation were faced with the unseemly choice of giving their house back to their lenders or experiencing the dread of foreclosure. Many of these families have recovered and have gone back to the housing market; but not all, as we have gone from almost 70% of American families owning their own home to 65%.
Lastly, although the “great recession” has ended we have not seen much progress in wage growth. There are millions of Americans stuck in low paying jobs and their income has not increased in the last 10 years. Just like the millennials, their only option is to continue to rent as they don’t have any extra money to save for a down payment after they pay their monthly bills.
Rent or Buy?
Because rents have risen so quickly and interest rates have stayed at an all-time low, it is now cheaper to buy than rent in many markets. A survey by Trulia.com states that, on average, owning a home is as much as 45% cheaper in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas than renting. Yesterday one of our employees just closed on her first house. She is 25 years old and will be paying about $1,000 month on her mortgage for her 2 bedroom, 2 bath home in Old East Medford, which includes property taxes and insurance. Compare her to another one of our employees that is renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bath home in Eagle Point for $1500 month. So owning can cost far less than renting, while also providing tax breaks and possible appreciation benefits.
Often the key is to secure a low down payment loan which are available from both government and commercial loans. In conjunction with using these low down payment loans, one can also ask for seller credit for most, if not all, of the closing costs.
So, from a purely numbers standpoint, right now it makes more sense to buy rather than rent. There are two catches. First, you have to qualify for a mortgage, which you will need a 580 credit score or more, and you need money for a down payment and closing costs which, for many, is the issue. So here are some ideas that may work for you to save that down payment.
How to Secure the Down Payment
The biggest challenge in buying a home will almost certainly be securing your down payment and closing costs. Whether you are trying to scrape up the 3.5% down for an FHA loan or you are planning to put down a full 20% to avoid paying PMI (principal mortgage insurance), saving for a down payment might be the largest savings endeavor you ever undertake.
Don’t fear, it can be done! If you look at it as a challenge instead of a slow deprivation-driven chore, you could own a home! Here are some creative ideas for where to find a down payment:
- Cut Your Budget’s Biggest Line Items. This is where you may spend the most money, and offer the biggest chance for big savings.
- Move back home with your parents or to a less expensive rental
- Go from two cars to one car
- Eliminate meals out
- Cancel your cable TV and put up a digital antenna
- Eliminate Your Vices. Some indulgences are expensive. By eliminating them, you save money. You might even improve your health.
- Stop smoking
- Drink less alcohol
- Cook at home rather than dine in restaurants
- Stop recreational shopping and curb your impulse spending
- Make coffee at home and skip those expensive trips to Dutch Bros
- Sell your stuff. Your garage is full of valuable stuff that you seldom use. Clear it out and make some extra cash. Here are some examples of things you may consider selling:
- ATV’s, snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles, boats, extra cars
- Clothes, shoes, handbags
- Supplies and equipment for hobbies you’re no longer interested in
- Workout equipment that is never used
- Furniture and antiques
- Electronics, CD’s, DVD’s, books, TV’s, Computers, old smart phones
- Rent your stuff for income
- Sites like www.gettaround.com and www.zimride.com, allow you to rent out your extra seat on a trip, rent your vehicle, your boat, your motorcycle etc. to earn extra income.
- Market Your Skills and Time
- Spend your off time, evenings and weekends leveraging your professional skills or personal hobbies. Earn extra income by providing technical support, car detailing, bookkeeping, babysitting, sewing, house cleaning, dog walking, House sitting or whatever you are skilled at.
- Your Family
- If you are fortunate enough to have friends or family that can gift you money towards a down payment, this is an allowable source of down payment by the lender. You can make your case by asking for cash in lieu of gifts for weddings, a new baby, birthday(s) or graduations. This gift may even be tax deductible for the giver.
- Your Employer (401K)
- A common way to raise money for a down payment is from your 401K program at work. Many first time home buyers turn to their 401K retirement plans and borrow the money from their own retirement savings to be used as a down payment. Just talk with your HR department before you act so you know what to expect.
So, if you are determined to save money for a down payment to purchase a home, be creative and you can be on your way to becoming a new homeowner.
3 Things we learned in Panama
We recently had an unexpected opportunity to visit Panama, a country we only knew for the canal, Panama hats, the Van Halen song and recent tax invaders. What we found were ships of all types lining up to sail through the canal, a rain forest, and the perfect place to hide your millions!
Our first surprise was the weather. Upon arriving we were met with stifling heat in the air and massive thunder clouds above. It’s a rain forest, and the stifling heat is broken by two or three daily showers which would cool down the temperature for a few minutes but not long. Panama is a very long and narrow isthmus separating the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and connecting South America with Central America. It truly is a jungle with dense vegetation and many types of monkeys and Sloths swinging from its trees. There are parts of the jungle that are so dense they couldn’t get a Hwy cut through it.
Flying into Panama City you fly right over dozens of ships in the Pacific, anchored and waiting their turn to cross through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea. The history is amazing – the French first tried to dig a canal from one side of the county to the other in 1881, similar to the way the French built the Suez Canal, but after years of engineering problems and thousands of workers dying of malaria they gave up and left. In 1904 the United States took over the project but this time with a different idea. They had the idea to damn the lake and flood it creating a huge lake that was in-between both coasts. Once the lake was dammed and flooded, the canals to the lake from both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific could be made shorter. The total length of the canal is 48 miles between both oceans with a large part of it covered by the lake. There was only one problem, the lake is 85 feet higher than both oceans which meant locks would have to be built on both sides of the lake. One is lifting the ships 85 feet and one dropping the ships 85 feet. We traveled through the locks in a large tourist boat. There are three locks on each side of the lake and once you enter the lock you and the other ships are lifted 29 feet per lock. Once you have made it through the locks you travel through a large canal until you reach the lake, cross it and reach the canal on the other side of the lake. It’s a simple concept but it’s impressive to see the canals lifting these massive ships. It opened in 1914, and more than 815,000 ships have passed through the canal. The biggest user of the canal is China who is the largest producer of goods in the world.
The biggest surprise of the entire trip was the number of high rises in Panama, mainly banks, and the massive scale of rich individuals from around the world who are hiding currency in them. Panama is the “Switzerland of the Americas” and one of the most desirable banking locations in the world. It has over 80 international banks and is among the world’s largest banking sectors. It’s easy to have a second residency for Americans and just requires a $5,000 deposit, a Panama Bank account, and an established economic tie with the country such as buying real estate or having a corporation. The best part of Panama banking is that they use the US Dollar for currency, so it’s safe and easy for us to count.
So the next time you feel like an adventure in a rain forest or crossing a country in a canal or you’re looking to hide millions, then Panama may be your place.
The Quiet Roar!
I just left a private tour of the historic 1100-seat Holly Theater in Medford and I couldn’t help to think how this area has grown and what an amazing combination of live theater, wineries and outdoor activities we offer. No wonder we were just voted one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in the World” * by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and Jacksonville was written up in Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “Top Small Towns to Visit.” * Southern Oregon has a deafening roar from the sounds of growth. It’s an energy that wasn’t here before: our Valley is alive with growth! Local businesses are growing and national businesses are moving in. Listen to the roar, do you hear it? From new subdivisions to new vineyards, from new retailers to new restaurants, are we the newest up-and-coming place to live? It’s amazing if you add it all up and look at everything going on in our small valley!
Retailers, Restaurants & Commerce
I watch in amazement at the influx of new businesses and additional locations of existing businesses as they multiply in our Valley. What do they know? What growth studies are they privy to? HomeGoods, In & Out, Five Guys, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field & Stream, Forever 21, a new Starbucks by Rogue Regional Medical Center…and Costco is getting ready to build a larger store in Central Point. Recently, we saw the reopening of the train between California and Oregon through the Siskiyou tunnel, and Timber Products break ground on a new plant next to the current plant in Medford. Local businesses are expanding with BeerWorks coming to Jacksonville, Immortal Spirits opening in Medford, the Point Restaurant opening a second location in Medford, Rogue Federal doubling the size of their headquarters, Garrison’s Furniture opening in Phoenix, and our own WillowCreek Jacksonville doubling its size in Jacksonville.
Tourism & Wine
Jim Belushi is bringing a great deal of notoriety to our valley as well as raising money for the Holly Theater and the rebuilding of Butte Creek Mill, but our wine industry is our true new ambassador. It’s amazing to me to think that Wine Enthusiast Magazine voted Southern Oregon as one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in the World.” Yes, top 10, in the “World!” For those who live outside of Southern Oregon, we were once known for our Shakespeare Festival, Britt Festival, Crater Lake and the Rogue River; but now, wine steals the show. On the backroads of the Rogue Valley and in the Applegate Valley, you can see stretch limos, Jubilee Trolley, Bravo Excursions and Wine Hopper bringing tourists and locals to over 40 wineries. The wine scene is expanding everyday with DANCIN planting new vineyards along South Stage, 2Hawk building a 14,000 square foot Winery and Del Rio adding 175 acres of grapes. We have seen Naumes, known for growing pears, plant rows and rows of grapes extending from the far side of Carpenter Hill to Pioneer Road and we have seen North Applegate Road get planted in grapes from the township of Applegate past Kubuli Road and around the corner. One of the newest kids on the block, Belle Fiore Winery, is something straight out of Napa with its multi-story, ornate production facility of 20,000 square feet, beautiful Italian-style construction, lots of inside and outside seating and a ballroom. The surprise is that it’s packed on the weekends and after work. Rogue Valley International Airport is experiencing record traffic and the City of Medford has allocated funds for a feasibility study to build a convention center. “Build it and they will come.”
Homes & More Homes
Never is the roar so evident as the sights and sounds coming from Caterpillar tractors preparing new subdivisions in hopes of keeping up with the demand. We have seen the median price of a home in Jackson County increase by 55.6% over the last five years. Buyers are flocking back to the market in higher numbers since 2005. Driven by years of recession, low interest rates and a growing population in both numbers and age, we are currently experiencing a lack of housing resulting in a boom in construction. Neighborhoods are now buzzing with big trucks, contractors, and homes popping-up seemingly overnight. In Ashland, Verde Village, near the dog park, is moving forward on a development of 53 homes. In Medford, they have started Stewart Meadows subdivision between Stewart and Garfield and continuing from the golf course down to Hwy 99. What was once the Cedar Links golf course is now being developed after years of delay and the east side of North Phoenix Road is dotted with new homes rising from the ground. Even Jacksonville is about to see the old dump acreage developed into 2.0+ acre lots, on First Street off of South Oregon Street is Timber Ridge Estates with 25 lots and on Third Street is Andrews Place with 15 lots. Add to all of this the “Green Rush” where irrigated farm land is being gobbled up by newly licensed Cannabis growers and the Quiet Roar is not so quiet.
So the next time you drive by the Holly Theater, just smile and think about how it’s a small part of the excitement coming to our valley and just the beginning of the Quiet Roar.