One more State... Where next?

oregon flagAs of this last month, we’ve officially opened an office in Oregon! Although our official office is in Clackamas, Oregon, we are recruiting home-office agents to work for us and cover anywhere the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) covers. Covering almost 50% of the State of Oregon, we’ve cast a pretty big net in our newest state to offer our low-cost commission splits.

This means real estate brokers in Oregon can now take advantage of the excellent contracts we offer. Our most popular contract is still $49/month and $499/transaction. To celebrate the new expansion, anyone joining in Oregon by the end of May will receive a 50% discount on their monthly payment until year end. Paying just $25/month means a savings of $144 through those 6 months and still only $499/transaction. Why continue to pay 30% when the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports 97% of clients don’t care what company a real estate broker works for. They care about you, not your company.

With just a couple of pages of paperwork, and us covering the transfer fees, joining Better Properties Brokerage has never been easier or more worthwhile than ever. For more information about our benefits, check our Join our Team page.

The next big question is: “Where are we going next?”

It could be California, Idaho, or even somewhere far across the U.S., but wherever it is, our great contracts will follow.

Give us a call for a confidential interview and your tell your friends about us.
(503) 451-0299
(360) 356-5177


The 'Crown Jewel' of Longview

Lake Sacajawea near Longview WA Real Estate & Homes For Sale

Lake Sacajawea. Overhead view of the Japanese Gardens island. Photo by Bill Wagner @

Ask anyone who lives in Longview what the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the city is, and they’ll tell you, it’s Lake Sacajawea Park of course!

As you can probably guess from the name and from the photo to the right, this park is a lake. What makes this park unique is that the park trail winds around the lake, across the lake, and even to islands on the lake.

With two unique playgrounds (Pirates anyone?), two spectacular water fountains, many walking accessible islands and a 3.5 mile path that winds under landscaped bridges for jogging or biking, around a beautiful lake, it’s no wonder that this park gets a lot of traffic on a daily basis.

And it should, since the city parks and recreation division spends over half of its annual budget maintaining this park. In fact, the parks and recreation budget ranks right up there behind police and fire for the city. That tells you the citizens and city council feel it’s an important asset to the community and worth keeping in good shape. You’ll find the grass mowed, shrubs trimmed, and plants maintained all for your enjoyment every day of the year.

Lake Sacajawea Longview Washington near Real Estate & Homes For Sale

Walking bridge over Lake Sacajawea with fountain in background

Not only does the city of Longview Washington enjoy the park for everyday enjoyment, the park hosts events year-round including the popular Go 4th event to celebrate Independence Day. Get a close-up view of the fireworks overhead as they are launched from one of the islands right above the bandstand where you’ve enjoyed live music until showtime. During the summertime, this area is also host to weekly free concerts to bring the family to and enjoy.

Another cause for celebration of using this park is that its paths are just close enough to main streets that crime is low for busy parks like this, yet the path is far enough away that the traffic doesn’t bother you.

If this isn’t a good enough reason for you to check out all the real estate and homes for sale in Longview Washington, it should still be a good reason to take a trip there and enjoy a summer day at the park! Honestly, even if you’re not in the market for one of the impressive houses lucky enough to be built across the street from the park, you can still enjoy their neat architecture as one more aspect of the beauty of this park. Enjoy!

Focus on Felida

Felida Washington Community Park near Homes for Sale

Felida Community Park

This week we’re focusing on Felida as part of our community spotlight campaign. Many people who may even live in the Vancouver area are unsure of where exactly Felida is. Not to mention, in all honesty, that they might not have even known there was such a suburb.

Felida is located West of Salmon Creek and Southwest of Ridgefield Washington. Technically speaking, it has a Vancouver zip code (98685) and is much less urban than its closest communities. Which is why it is so often overlooked yet it is a great place to live.

With the peace and quiet atmosphere, and beautiful scenery at the parks, along trails, and every where between, it’s a community worth looking at when up-sizing, downsizing, or relocating to the area. Aside from the wonderful Felida Community Park you see above, the Salmon Creek Trail takes you between the two communities and is a 10′ wide paved trail.

It is excellent for jogging, biking, roller-blading, dog-walking, and of course that liesure stroll as you pass creeks, ponds, and wonderful plants. The pleasant chirps of birds, ducks, and other fowl of the air help you get away when you need a break after work, or from the kids

Salmon Creek to Felida Trail

Roller Bladin' on the Salmon Creek Trail to Felida

Okay, so here’s some of that statistical stuff that you might want to know about this community:

Estimated median household income in 2008: $96,134 (it was $78,934 in 2000)

Felida:   $96,134
Washington:   $58,078
Vancouver:   $50,990

Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $393,769 (it was $213,100 in 2000)

Felida:   $393,769
Washington:   $308,100
Vancouver:   $245,500

Mean prices in 2008: Detached houses: $426,028;

Felida House Sales

Are Realtors Worth 3% For A Listing?

Real Estate For Sale By Owner Cartoon If you’re a home seller, especially as the market has tanked so much the last couple of years, you have to be asking yourself if you can go it alone without a Realtor. Hey, that’s okay, I’m sure most of the owners of the current homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) asked that very question. And yet, they still chose to list with a realtor and pay them for their services. The big question is, why?

Why should I pay 3%?

Well, first we have to acknowledge that this 3% is negotiable. Depending on the difficulty of the transaction, and desired marketing of the owners, that commission for the listing agent could be more or less than 3%. While 3% may be an industry standard, it is not a hard fast rule. So know what you expect from your realtor before you negotiate this.

What do I get for 3%?

So the first big benefit of choosing a Realtor is that they will list your house in 1 or more MLS sites which makes your home visible to all the other realtors in the area. It also allows non-realtors to search for your home for free. Anyone, yep, even you, can Search the MLS.

But more importantly, most importantly, the true value is having someone help you navigate the process once someone makes an offer on your house! Sure, they offer other marketing features, they offer a safe secure way to track visitors in your home with their lockbox (which means a realtor was present when someone walked through and the chances of you returning to an empty home after a showing dwindle away), and they can help you stage your home to sell. But again, the big value and reason there are thousands of listings on the MLS by realtors is that they help after that offer has come in.

Let’s be honest here, there are many laws that govern a real estate transaction and many disclosures and forms that need to be filled out depending on the circumstances of your home. What happens if there is an inspection and mold is found? What do you do if there needs to be an addendum to the purchase and sale agreement because the buyers want a deck fixed before they’ll buy your house?

Take a look at the medical malpractice situation. Even with all the documentation and waivers you fill out, there are trial lawyers in every city making money off of little errors. Can you afford to take the chances that there won’t be a legal mistake and be found liable for it? We’re not talking about lunch money here, it could be tens, or hundreds, of thousands of dollars liable…

Seriously, get the facts about listing your home for sale. While there is free advice out there about some basic forms, and good ideas for being careful, the benefit of using a realtor and being protected from lawsuits far outweighs the cost of getting your home sold.

You can always request a free Home Valuation from a local expert and talk to a Realtor about marketing your home for free.

Happy to Sell Your Home, eh?

Sold First Real Estate House Investment

Or you sold ANY house last year...

While this may have been a common occurance last year, 2010 has a promising outlook, like a fresh morning, to be the bottom of the housing slump and maybe even the start of the recover.

Most analysts predict the real estate and housing market will slow, if not stop, the decline in prices and possibly begin to rise steadily by the end of the year.

Near the end of 2009 we saw prices in some areas begin to stall, and even rise a little before retracing their steps back into decline.

Remember, no analyst (or Mayan) can gaurantee the future, only predict it.

It might be time to get back in the market and purchase a residence or investment, or put your home up for sale.

Whatever you do, keep your shades handy… Because the future looks bright!

Don’t Miss Out on the Tax Credit

First Time Buyers of Real Estate

First-Time Buyers get $8,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing their Home!

Don’t Miss Out on the Tax Credit

If you have even thought about buying a home, now may be the time. With the time left to have an accepted offer dwindling, here are the important facts about the tax credit and how they apply to you. Start Searching Real Estate Homes For Sale now, or contact a Mortgage Professional to get pre-qualified for the purchase.


Q: How long do I have to buy a home?

A: You must have a binding sales contract by April 30th, 2010 and take ownership of the home before June 30th, 2010 to receive the credit.

Q: Are there income limits?

A: Yes, for single purchasers, the limit is $125,000 and married couples it is $225,000 for the full credit

Q: Is it for First-Time Buyers?

A: Yes, First-Time Buyers can receive up to $8,000 credit. The IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.

Q: I heard if you owned a home before and now don’t own one you can’t receive the credit. Is that true?

A: No. If it has been more than 3 years since you owned a home, you would qualify as a First-Time buyer.

Q: Can current homeowners get the credit?

A: Current homeowners who have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years are eligible for a credit up to $6500.

Q: Is there a maximum value of home eligible?

A: Yes, only homes priced under $800,000 are eligible for the credit.

Q: Can I use the purchased home as a rental?

A: No, it must be used as a primary residence.

Q: Does the credit have to be repaid later?

A: No, the tax credit does not have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be used as the buyer’s principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.

Meeting A Success!

Real Estate Meeting Food

Food Provided at Meeting

The First Meeting was a Success!

The first office meeting of Better Properties Brokerage at our new address in Vancouver was a success. Not all agents made it (yes, clients come first), but those who did got to see our new office and conference room, see first hand how to use our new electronic file management system, and meet our mortgage and insurance partners (who provided the delicious lunch!). It was also an opportunity for many to meet Ben Winfield, Owner, and Mitch Canton, Designated Broker, in person. During the introductory time of sharing, Mitch explained that he closed his own company to work for Better Properties Brokerage because he saw the value of this business model, of empowering agents financially and to be a part of something bigger than himself that can change the industry.

Meet Our Partners

The meeting started with some sandwiches, chips, drinks, and cookies provided by our partners who then introduced themselves and shared about their companies. Our Mortgage partner is PrimeLending Mortgage with offices in Vancouver by the mall and in Longview, and offices across the nation.

Real Estate, Mortgage, & Insurance Partners

PrimeLending's Bill Maxwell, Better Properties' Ben Winfield, Pino Insurance's Jim Pino

PrimeLending is that perfect blend of big bank amenities, with small town service. They are a bank, which enables them to fund loans in all 50 States, but being categorized as a ‘small bank’ allows them to establish their own appraisal pool, fund loans in-house, and that translates to loans funding in 3 weeks to 4, versus 45-60 days with ‘big banks’. Bill Maxwell is the area manager and point of contact for our clients as he still loves to work on loans.

Our Insurance partner is Pino Insurance with an office in cascade park and licensed in WA & OR. A memorable moment was when Jim Pino, Owner of Pino Insurance, boldly declared that 85% of insurance agents are incompetent. Sure, that may seem bold to say, but with the background Jim has, he can say it and mean it. The fact is not all insurance plans are created equal and too often the agent writes a policy simply because it is a standard their company recommends, not because it is what’s best for the client. That’s what he refers to as incompetence and it surely isn’t meeting the needs of their clients.

Operational Aspects Covered

IDX Search is a great feature we’re proud to offer for all our agents through our website. Used primarily as a lead generation tool, it’s also powerful to direct your current customers to register and use our tool versus the RMLS service. On our site, users can save their searches, get email notifications of newly listed homes that meet their criteria, and get home suggestions from their realtor who’s helping them in the process.

Our electronic file management system allows our agents to upload documents to our server and manage them without ever stepping foot in the office. This also allows Mitch, our broker, to review documents and give feedback from his home office as well. What this means to our clients is a quicker, more efficient service.

Real Estate Meeting Topics

Mitch Canton, Designated Broker, leads us through a presentation

Operational aspects of our electronic phone systems were covered. A must for an office of our style (No Floor Time Required of Agents) means when someone calls the office phone they can get routed to any agent even if they’re not in the office!

The Wrap

In the end, it was a good first meeting of the team and partners and we’re all hopeful it continues to be a prosperous new year ahead. Our next meeting will be April 6th as we participate in the Virtual RealEstate Barcamp training day. Look for updates to come as all involved in real estate, mortgage, insurance, and those looking to enhance businesses using social media, blogging, etc etc should attend.