To Own or Not to Own. That is the Question.

Rental Market:

There are two inter-related trends that have impacted the rental market. The first is the rapidly growing number of Americans who cannot afford to buy a home.  These are the millions of, “Generation X and Y”, young adults who 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, we have increasing number of renters that have lost their homes in the “Great Mortgage Fiasco.”  Hundreds of thousands of families across the nation have been faced with the unseemly choice of giving their house back to the lenders or experiencing the dread of foreclosure.  Those families who have lost their homes make up a new breed of residential renters.  We see them renting the nicer homes; they are people who think like owners, not renters.   Property managers like us have to make allowances for credit scores when screening potential residents. Many of these people have lost their homes may have low credit scores but make great, responsible renters.  Some are couples where one of the wage-earners lost their job and their income was reduced so drastically they could no longer afford the mortgage. They are not a bad credit risk, just people who suffered a string of bad luck.  They will have the pride-of-ownership mentality and want to live in a nice home.  They actually want to take care of the rental as if it were their own home.  These are great renters.

More evidence is mounting that only about half of the foreclosures and REO houses have hit the market yet. That’s correct: as many as 50% of the mortgages that have gone into default have not been foreclosed on and put up for sale. With both home sales and home prices going up, most banks are in no hurry to foreclose; time is on their side.  The demand for rental housing has been increasing and will continue to increase in the months (maybe years) ahead.  We will continue to see a shortage of rental housing, which means rental prices, will continue to increase.

Because of the increasing demand on the rental market, the last few years we have seen rents that are climbing and occupancy rates remaining high. Nationwide rental statistics recently released by Axiometrics Inc. revealed that rental prices rose 5.16% in 2011 and 5.17% in 2012. The single family rental market demand has expanded by 16% since 2007. Axiometrics predicts an additional 1.7 million new renter households between now and 2015.  We are seeing these trends play out in our local business.  As an aggressive property management company, we are seeing average length of  vacancy of only 3 to 5 days.  We also work with seemingly desperate relocation tenants that need to move and are renting homes sight unseen over the phone.  These are professionals who are relocating to take employment in our slowly improving local economy.  They often transition into buyers that purchase a home.

Rent or Buy?

Because of all time low interest rates and home prices that have risen more slowly than rents, buying is now cheaper than renting in many markets. A survey by states that, on average, owning a home is as much as 45% cheaper in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas than renting. We see this every day in the rental homes we manage that are priced under $350,000.  At current mortgage rates the mortgage payment would be less than the monthly rent payment. On homes priced above $350,000 that is not necessarily true: the rental price of the home is less than the mortgage. In Jacksonville, a nice $300,000 home would rent for around $1500 month and if you had 100% financing, one would pay around $1,480 month in mortgage payments. In West Medford, a little 3 bedroom/1 bath cottage would rent for $1,000 a month.  It would sell for $100,000, but the mortgage payment would be about $500 a month.  So owning can cost far less than renting, while also providing tax breaks and possible appreciation benefits.


Many are surprised to learn that even after the mortgage meltdown there is still a huge range of loan products available, including low- to no-down payment options. There is a USDA rural loan that can be used in most areas of Jackson County, except the cities of Medford and some areas of Central Point.  This loan requires very little to no down payment, and can be used to purchase a home. Another loan from FHA requires less that 4% down.  If you are a veteran there is a great VA loan requiring nothing down. In conjunction with using these low down payment loans, one can also ask for seller credit for most, if not all, of the closing cost.

So, from a purely numbers standpoint, right now it makes more sense to buy rather than rent, except in high-end homes. There are two catches.  First, you have to qualify for a mortgage, which many not be easy for those drowning in credit card debt, student loans or those with credit score below the mid 600’s. Second, you need money for a down payment and closing cost, which, for most, is the difficult part (see the Side Bar for ideas for securing a down payment).  If you can come up with the down payment, have a credit score of mid-600’s or higher, and are currently renting a home valued less than $350,000 you could probably own the home for less!

(Side Bar)

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.

But 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 home 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 expensive coffee shops
  • 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, books, TV’s, Computers, old smart phones
  • Rent your stuff for income
    • Sites like and, 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 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 deductable for the giver.
  • Your Employer (401K)
    • A common way to raise money for a down payment is from you 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.

What Women Want

This may sound like an article in Cosmo but it’s not…, it is a male realtor’s point of view after years of showing couples homes and observing what women tend to focus on vs. men. The National Association of Realtors say women account for 85% of the home purchase, so what women want is what they usually get when it comes to home purchases.

Both women and men usually start their home purchase by looking at homes for sale on the internet. Because so many of our buyers come here from out of state they are looking at great homes but have no idea where they are located until their first day here, loaded into the car and driving off. Usually the man is salivating over the size of the property, “I want 100 acres” and his wife is asking ‘Are we there yet?” as we are no more than 5 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. Once while leaving Jacksonville and driving up Sterling Creek road with a couple in tow, the wife looked out in amazement at the forest of trees and declared “The trees are too tall.”  The comment seems funny when saying it, but I did understand what she was saying. She felt uncomfortable in such a rural location and the trees made her feel closed in so it was no surprise that couple ended up in a home with a wide open view of the valley.

What do women want in a home? Women’s home preferences tend to be more practical and functional than men’s. Women like dining areas with easily wiped hardwood or tile floors, not carpeting and the location of a laundry room is likely to matter to them…they consider it a smart design if the laundry is by the master bedroom.
Men seem to be more interested in a home’s space and dimensions. “The guy may be saying, ‘Oh, man, look at the size of this place,’ and the woman saying, ‘Oh wow, look at the cabinets and the hardwood floors.”

So what do women and men want in a home?

  • Great location: Women usually care more about location and think more about how life will look in their house for the next 20 years. For couples who are retiring here, he may be enchanted with a large rural location and she is worrying how she is going to take care of everything in a remote location so far from all the amenities. Women also think more about safety and can feel more comfortable closer to other homes. Men on the other hand seek more peace and quiet and are drawn to rural locations.
  • A great kitchen: This is definitely the most important focus for women who see the kitchen as a family focal point. Both men and women love big open kitchens that include space for dining, entertaining, doing homework, using computers, watching TV, and hanging out together.
  • Land: It is a guy thing that bigger is better and it certainly applies to the size of a lot or acreage. A women’s point of view is different, she not going to use 100 acres so it’s not important, but for a guy just telling his friends back home that he’s buying a home on 100 acres fulfills some male need from “Maslow’s Hierarchy.” 
  • Big closets: Women want a home that helps manage their family’s accumulation of stuff. That means cupboards, drawers, cubbies and organizing systems. But above all, it means great walk-in closets. In many case the walk-In closet is just for her and he has to find another place to store his stuff. Trendy open designs, while fabulous, typically rob homes of storage space because they have few interior walls, which are crucial for built-in closets, shelves and cupboards to help tame clutter.
  • Bathtubs: They are a big attraction for female buyers. Not sure why, but I think it goes back to those Calgone TV commercials where the tub is one place in the home you can escape from the kids and life.
  • A comfortable place to socialize: A party space is nice, but women seem to focus more on a comfortable environment for sitting around, sharing and enjoying family. It could be a kitchen island or counter, a comfortable den, or a sofa pulled up in front of a fireplace. Men, on the other hand, go straight to the back yard to see where they will socialize. The recent trend of outdoor covered kitchens complete with TV’s, heaters and fire pits can fulfill a man’s dream.
  • A dedicated laundry room: Laundry rooms are becoming more important and a washer & dryer in a garage doesn’t make it anymore. Women want the washer and dryer by the bedrooms and better yet close to the master.  Trooping up or down a set of stairs with a laundry basket to reach the washer and dryer is another huge turn-off.
  • A floor plan that makes sense: Guys seldom get this but women are aware of the way a home flows. They do a great job of imagining living and functioning in the house, where guys just want to know where there TV and chair goes.
  • A two-car insulated garage: Countless times I have seen the husband head straight for the garage once we enter the home and his wife doesn’t even bother looking. When we’re back in the car she will ask if the garage was nice and he will ask where the laundry room was? So garages are important to men but seen as just storage by many women.

Side Bar:

How is the real estate market doing?

The real estate market continues to exceed expectations with fewer homes on the market, multiple bidders on homes under $200,000 and the return of out of state buyers buying homes over $500,000. A slight rise in interest rates to over 4% is putting more buyers into the market place and may accelerate the numbers below.

  • Median price per home percentage: Up 19.8% to $190,000
  • Average days on the market: Down 27.7%
  • Number of homes for sale: Down 10.5% 
  • Pending Sales: Up .8%
  • Month’s supply of inventory: Down 34.5%
  • Interest Rates on a 30 year fixed:  Rising slightly: 4.16% **

If you have any additional comments please give us your input on our blog at .  Expert Properties specializes in Real Estate Management, Sales and Furnished Rentals.

*Statistics are for Existing Home Sales for the last 90 days:  March 1st -May 31st, 2013 and compared to the same time last year. Provided by the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

**Per 6/5/2013

Real Estate Values Up 32.1 Percent!

Real Estate Values Up 32.1 Percent!

In 2012 we ended the year with a nice 8.4% increase in existing home prices in Jackson County. However, this is just the beginning of the story as in the last three months we have seen the median price of existing homes in Jackson County climb by 32.1%. Median prices have gone from their low of $140,000 to $185,000. On top of this price increase, the inventory of houses available for sales has declined 30.5% to only 823 on the market for sale.

This does not mean that everyone’s home has gone up 32.1% but what it does mean is our real estate market has bottomed out and is now growing faster than the national average. Median prices rise because of a combination of factors and in our market we have seen major recovery in both the entry level and high-end markets. For homes under $200,000 there are multiple offers causing prices to be bid over the asking price. In one case, last month, we represented a buyer on a home in South West Medford that came on the market and in three days there were seven offers, three of them over the asking price. It is surprising but the once dead market of over $500,000 increased 40% since January 2012. What is even more encouraging is there are more homes over $500,000 now pending than sold in the last 90 days. This illustrates that the high end market is experiencing a nice rebound and this pattern is likely to

Distressed properties, which have dominated the market since the financial crash, have decreased to less than 13% of the inventory from their previous high which exceeded 50% of the inventory. We are still seeing a number of homes going into default but they are dwindling. As prices climb less homes are under water and apt to default back to the lending bank.

Thanks to the Federal Reserve, mortgage interest rates remain at an all time low. This has resulted in mortgage payments being less than tenant’s rent and has allowed investors to secure properties with returns exceeding 10%.

So what does the future hold? Who knows, it’s a world economy but with our stock market reaching an all time high, employment increasing and our real estate values soaring back, I think the future looks pretty good.

Statistics on Existing Home Sales in Jackson County*

December 2012 – February 2013

  • Median price per home: Up 32.1 % to $185,000
  • Average days on the market: 62 days
  • Number of homes for sale: Down 30.5 % to 823
  • Interest rate: 3.58% (30 year fixed, per

If you have any additional comments please give us your input on our blog at . Expert Properties specializes in Real Estate Management, Sales and Furnished Rentals.


*Statistics are from the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service.

HomeCare – How to get rid of Ants


Southern Oregon seems to be built on an ant hill and we consistently get questions about how to get rid of the little intruders. When it rains and when it’s dry they seem to invade local kitchens and certainly those nights when you don’t feel like doing the dishes before bed they take the opportunity to help you clean up.

We Googled “How to get rid of Ants” and found lots and lots of advice and ideas which we re-capped below. There are too many ideas for us to test but we mention in bold at the end of the idea if this is one we at Expert Properties have tested and found to be successful.

Adhesive Tape

Is an army of ants marching toward the cookie jar on your countertop or some sweet prize in your pantry? Create a “moat” around the object by surrounding it with adhesive tape placed sticky side up.

Boric Acid

If you’ve had it with sharing your living quarters with roaches or ants, give them the heave-ho by sprinkling boric acid along any cracks or crevices where you’ve spotted the intruder.  Note: Keep in mind that boric acid can be toxic if ingested by young children or pets. This is one solution we have tried and it has worked.


Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around home entry points. The ants will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk, which is actually made up of ground-up and compressed shells of marine animals. Scatter powdered chalk around garden plants to repel ants and slugs.

Clean Kitchen

If your kitchen is kept very clean you typically won’t get ants beyond the scouts looking for food and sugar sources. If the scouts don’t find any food they will typically move on. Dog and Cat food can also be a great find for ants so keep those areas clean as well.

Cloves and bay leaves

Find out where they’re coming in and sprinkle ground cloves and/or crushed bay leaves in the area.  Ants absolutely can’t stand cloves and I hear they feel the same about bay leaves, they will run screaming (listen hard, they have tiny mouths).

Colony – Find the Source

Once you see ants try and follow them to find out where they are entering your home.  Once you have done that you can treat that area and try and follow them outside to their colony.  If you find the colony you have it made and can kill the eggs and the queen. We followed a line of ants to a wood pile, lifted up some logs to find thousands of eggs and a mad shuffle as the worker ants tried to carry the eggs to safety, but were quickly stopped by a can of RAID.


You can use cucumber to get rid of ants as they don’t like the taste of cucumber. Placing small piece of cucumber in ants affected area will force them to leave your home.


Sprinkle a line of flour along the backs of pantry shelves and wherever you see ants entering the house. Repelled by the flour, ants won’t cross over the line.


You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren’t welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.


Apparently ants don’t like mint and if you want another natural remedy, this one was mentioned may times. Pour dry mint or extract on their path, usually they won’t cross the area where the extract is. Keep repeating and usually they will go away.


Get rid of the ants in your garden, on your patio, and along the foundation of your home. In a blender, make a smooth puree of a few orange peels in 1 cup warm water. Slowly pour the solution over and into anthills to send the little pests packing.



Two or three of your annual visitors have invaded your kitchen. Those ants are looking for sugar. Give them some pepper instead. Cayenne pepper sprinkled in spots where the ants are looking, such as along the backs of your countertops or on your baseboards, will tell them that no sugar is ahead.


You will have to do a little work by taking everything out from under your kitchen sink. Wash everything very well with some sort of good cleaning solution, including the items you put back under there in case food or something they like has been spilled on them. Then using “Raid” Ant killer in a spray container – spray around where the pipes come up out of the floor or wall. Then put everything back in the cabinet. Spray along the floor line all the way around this area, including near your refrigerator and around your window. We have used this at Expert Properties and it has worked well.



If ants are beating a path to your home, intercept them by sprinkling salt across the door frame or directly on their paths. Ants will be discouraged from crossing this barrier.


Soapy Water

Spray soap water on the entry points of ants as well as cabinets and other areas. This is another effective home remedy to get rid of ants permanently.


Talcum Powder

For an effective organic ant repellent, scatter talcum powder liberally around house foundations and known points of entry, such as doors and windows. Other effective organic repellents include cream of tartar, borax, powdered sulfur, and oil of cloves. You can also try planting mint around the house foundations.



This is a popular ant killer and it seems to work for us at Expert Properties. You simply set Terro traps our on your kitchen sink or where ever you have ants and in theory the ants not only get poisoned but take the poison back to the nest.



Serve the ants on your premises with an eviction notice. Pour equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spray it on anthills and around areas where you see the insects. Ants hate the smell of vinegar. It won’t take long for them to move on to better-smelling quarters. Also keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips or to keep ants away from picnic or children’s play areas. If you have lots of anthills around your property, try pouring full-strength vinegar over them to hasten the bugs’ departure.


Water Containers

Lastly, if you have a hummingbird feeder that gets invaded by ants each year we have a solution. Pierce a hole in a spray can plastic top, slip it upside down through the string that holds you hummingbird feeder, seal the hole with silicon and fill the cup with water. Ants will not walk through water so the lid will act as an ant moat.

In case you are not satisfied with the results of the above mentioned home remedies, then it is advisable to take professional help and hire an exterminator.


If you have any additional comments or ideas on how to get rid of ants please give us your input on our blog at . Expert Properties specializes in Real Estate Management, Sales and Furnished Rentals.



Where to Put Your Remodeling Dollars in 2013

Where to Put Your Remodeling Dollars in 2013

At Expert Properties we often get questions from home owners and investor looking for the most return on their investment. The best source of this information comes from the National Association of Realtors who just published their 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.

Results of the report are summarized on NAR’s consumer website which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects; from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average.

Here is a quick recap of N.A.R’s Cost vs. Value Report:

  • Steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing a little more than $1,100 on average. A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.
  • Three different siding door replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding, (expected to return 79.3 percent of costs), vinyl siding (expected to return 72.9 percent of costs), and foam backed vinyl, (expected to return 71.8 percent of costs). Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of all costs.
  • According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000. The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight and tied with the vinyl siding replacement with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. (The improvement project projected with the least return on investment is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup less than 44 percent).


  • The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 81 markets across the country. Data is grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 15th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling Magazine, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

Realtors® provided their insights into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. The 2013 national average cost-to-value ratio rose to 60.6 percent, ending a six-year decline. The ratio represents nearly a three-point improvement over 2011-2012. Lower construction costs are the principal factor in the upturn, especially when measured against stabilizing house values. In addition, the cost-to-value ratio improved nationally for every project in this year’s report and is higher than it was two years ago for both remodeling and replacement projects.

Most regions followed the national trends; however the Pacific region, consisting of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, once again led the nation with an average cost-value ratio of 71.2 percent. This was due mainly to strong resale values. The next best performing regions were West South Central, South Atlantic, and East South Central. These regions attribute their high ranking to construction costs that were lowest in the country. While still remaining below the national average, most remaining regions showed strong improvement over last year. These are Mountain, New England, East North Central, Middle Atlantic, and West North Central.

See the full report at


5 Reasons Why NOW is the Time to Buy a Home or Investment Property!

5 Reasons Why NOW is the Time to Buy a Home or Investment Property!
Many potential buyers are still waiting in the wings, not sure that now is the time to buy a house.  They are often afraid of buying before the market has fully recovered, and are concerned that they may lose out if they jump in too early.  Here are five reasons they should buy NOW and not wait…

1) Mortgage Interest Rates are on the Rise
While no one has a crystal ball, all of the technical, fundamental, and economic indicators point to mortgage rates moving up in 2013.  All likelihood is that we have seen the best rates already, and waiting is not going to bring them back.

2) Rents are on the raise
Recently, Zillow reported that rents increased in the U.S. by 4.2% over the last year.  When compared side-by-side, the costs of owning vs. renting a home easily show the benefits of home ownership. In Jackson County we’re seeing rents rising as well as a low availability of rental homes.

3) Prices are on the Rise
Home prices in most markets are stabilized, and starting to increase.  In Jackson County we have seen the median home price of existing homes increases by 8.4% in 2012. We still have cautious lenders and homes that are selling but not appraising, though prices are still rising.

4) Mortgage Guidelines Will Continue to Tighten
With government intervention in the form of new bills passed by congress the already cautious underwriting standards, caused by the 2007 collapse of the financial industry, are poised to become even more difficult for the average buyer to qualify for a home loan.

5) Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans To Become Much More Expensive
Starting on June 3rd, 2013, FHA will dramatically raise the costs of FHA Mortgage Insurance, making these loans much more expensive for the consumer.

The BEST time to buy a home or investment property is a combination of low interest rates and low home prices and it’s unlikely that we will see lower prices or lower interest rates than what we have at the moment!