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Do you need help navigating the home-buying process?

The real estate market is heating up here on the Harbor. As we mentioned in last week’s column, Grays Harbor County was the second of the 15 Western Washington counties by percentage increase of homes sold in the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the first quarter of 2017. Yes, we’re up 7.7 percent in sales from January through March as compared to last year!

We were also ranked the first in price increases for the average sale price – up 27.5 percent from a year before.

Of course if you are looking to buy a house, that price increase likely won’t thrill you. However, if you look around at all, you’ll realize that you can get a lot more house in Grays Harbor County for your dollar than you can just about anywhere else. Besides, the relatively low interest rates still make it a great time to buy or sell a house.

So, all that talk about buying houses, may just have you considering whether you want to look for a house to purchase on the Harbor this summer.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself with an empty nest and need to downsize or have been renting for a while and are ready to better control what you pay for housing each month. Whatever your situation, NeighborWorks may be able to help you in a variety of ways.

As mentioned in recent columns, relocating or buying in some areas of the Harbor – such as the East County communities of Montesano, Elma and McCleary – is increasingly difficult because of the lack of inventory. There’s simply too few homes for sale and a lot of people looking to purchase, so you’ll want to be prepared to make an offer if you find the house you want to purchase by doing your homework now!


Any realtor will tell you that if you aren’t planning on paying entirely in cash, becoming pre-qualified for a loan is a major step forward in the home buying process, but not necessarily the first.

To be prequalified for a loan, your lender will examine your credit, your income, length of employment and your debt-to-income ratio, among other things. They do not necessarily look at whether or not you have the best information about the home buying process in order to make a sound purchase. This is your responsibility and one which is easily remedied through a homebuyer education course and a no-cost housing counseling follow-up session right here at our office or by phone.

Many first-time homebuyers are finding the internet education platform at ready to fulfill this need. It costs $50 per person that will be buying a house. You will find us, your friendly NeighborWorks organization, there to help you with this important task and available again, at no cost, to be sure you understand the material and to receive the certificate of completion.

We are a member of a Washington collaborative called dedicated to offering access to eHome America to every corner of this state. At National Industry Standard, this home buyer education course results in a certificate which is required for some of the best loan deals in the state and country. It is an excellent resource for potential homebuyers and is the first step in the home-buying process.

When you’ve completed the course and optional counseling session, you will receive a certificate of completion, which is accepted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Washington Housing Finance and other lenders that require you to have completed a home-buyer education course to take advantage of their loan products.

Plus, once you understand the ins and outs of the home-buying process, you may find ways to save money along the way!


Most people are aware of needing a down payment to buy a home. However, after saving for that down payment, some folks forget that there are other costs associated with buying a new home.

“Closing costs,” need to be paid in addition to the down payment. Closing costs are the fees and prepaid costs that the lender and the title company require to complete the loan transaction.

Typically the bank charges an origination fee, document preparation fee, as well as appraisal and credit report fees.

Then the title company charges for title insurance, which is a guarantee that the title of the house is free of liens, etc. In addition, the title company usually charges settlement and recording fees.

Mortgage insurance (if needed), one year’s hazard insurance, FEMA insurance if the house is located in a flood zone, and county tax premiums and reserves, are just some of the required pre-paid costs for a mortgage loan.

So, if the purchase agreement calls for the seller to pay closing costs, it is critical that you clarify exactly what this entails. Often this only covers the title company costs, but you’ll want to make sure.

A rough estimate for total closing costs is 5 to 7 percent of your loan amount. (That would be $5,000 to $7,000 on a $100,000 loan.) Some fees are negotiable and some may be allowed to be rolled into the loan if the appraisal amount of the home supports the additional debt.


This is a sample of information you will want to know. Our counselor is available to assist you with answering questions regarding homeownership, but the comprehensive internet education can be completed when it is convenient for you, day or night.

Our housing counseling services are provided free of charge during our business hours of 8-5 p.m. Monday – Thursday. Give us a call at (360) 533-7828 for more information.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is ADA compliant, complete with a designated disabled parking spot, ramp and ADA compliant restroom.

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