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Frequently Asked Questions in Real Estate

Answering the inquiries real estate clients ask

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Whether buying or selling a home, questions surrounding the process abound. As is a common statement in the vast majority of my columns, the purchase or sale of a property is one the largest investments one will make in their lifetime. As such, there are bound to be a lot of questions. The sales process is exciting, scary and can be strange at times—and I can guarantee never a dull or vanilla process. My colleagues and I field questions daily, and I want to stress: There are no questions not worth asking!

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As the old adage goes, "The only dumb question, is the question that is not asked."

Are we in another housing bubble? This is a question my colleagues and I get daily. While none of us have a crystal ball, no doubt we wish we do, because who doesn't wish they were able to predict that their investment was foolproof? No one can answer the question of the future. That said, I can tell you what's different from the myriad of factors that led to the real estate crash of late 2008 and subsequent years.

As a result of the real estate crash we've come to know as the "Great Recession," lending guidelines have changed dramatically. Gone are the days of stated income loans. No longer are the days where a buyer doesn't have to unequivocally prove with written documentation that they are able to afford the monthly mortgage based on their debt-to-income ratio. Lending guidelines are far stricter than they were some 11 years ago, and these new guidelines, while not fail-safe, do help protect and insulate the real estate market from a rash of encumbered inventory flooding the market, thereby limiting the chances of another "bubble." Long story short, so long as the current guidelines stay intact, we will not see another "bubble." Prices will fluctuate, of course, but to assume that there will be another "2008-2010" market is almost akin to betting that the University of Oregon's football team will not go to a bowl game in the next five years.

Personal Property vs. Fixtures: This is a common question and can also be confusing. A fixture, defined by Merriam-Webster, is property other than real property consisting of things temporary or removable. The most common examples of this in real estate are refrigerators and washer/dryers. These examples are considered to be by Oregon law, personal property. They are not affixed to walls or countertops and are removable/temporary. One of the easiest ways to look at personal property versus a fixture is: can it be unplugged and removed without removing anything that attaches it to the structure?

If you're not sure, ask, and ask again. Your real estate professional is able to answer these questions for you. The last thing anyone wants is to assume on what is included, only to find out that the refrigerator is not a permanent fixture on moving day with a cooler full of perishables.

In future issues, I'll be answering FAQs I receive from clients and would love to hear your questions. Please feel free to contact me with questions you would like for me to address in this column series. Please email me at christinhunter@windermere.com with things you'd like to know about real estate and I'll be happy to address them in future columns.


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