Everything you need to know about moving to Greater Portland.

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Buying a Home in Portland

Photo courtesy Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland

Finding and buying a home is an exciting experience—but it can also be challenging. We’ve compiled some information to help Portland newcomers overcome some of the hurdles encountered in the home-buying process—and point you in the right direction for additional information.

Before you even begin your home search, keep in mind that there are laws to protect you from scams, unnecessary expenses and discrimination in the process of buying a new home. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap (disability) or familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18).

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) makes it illegal for anyone to pay or receive a fee, kickback or anything of value because they agree to refer settlement service business to a particular person or organization. Your mortgage lender is forbidden from paying your real estate broker $250 for referring you to the lender, for example.

Save yourself trouble by taking the time to figure out the mortgage you can afford and then get pre-approved. Keep in mind that you must consider current loan interest rates. Generally, the lower the interest rate, the more expensive a home you can afford to purchase. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to take out the highest loan that you qualify for.

For a general estimate of what type of home you can afford by going to www.ginniemae.gov. You’ll be asked to answer a few questions and then the calculator will provide a general estimate of the maximum sale price you may qualify for under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Association (VA) and conventional loans. This tool also estimates your down payment, closing costs, total cash required at closing, monthly mortgage payment, other monthly housing costs and your remaining monthly income. Keep in mind that these are only estimates. See a lender for more details.

Hire someone to help

The details involved in buying a home, particularly the financial ones, can be mindboggling. The entire process can be made easier by finding a good real estate professional who can guide you through the entire process.

Choose a real estate broker who is well acquainted with your needs and wants for your new home. Make sure they are familiar with the neighborhood you are considering, the quality of schools, safety of the area, traffic volume, and so on. A good realtor will save you hours of time and might have inside tips on houses that are fresh on the market. Realtors can also provide advice and tips when it comes time to make an offer on a home.

Do You Need a CPA?

Sometimes it can be a good idea to hire a licensed certified public accountant (CPA). CPAs can provide you with professional advice on personal finances and other matters, including how to adjust your finances to help you meet your personal goals, such as buying a house and other financial and legal needs.

CPAs can also help you with tax preparation and auditing services, and help you develop an effective accounting system for your personal and household needs. Other services provided by CPAs include advice about how your financial situation will change based on life changes such as marriage or divorce, retirement, college, and more. CPAs will give you useful advice and tips that you might not learn about any other way.

The most important factor of choosing a CPA is that you trust them with your personal financial information. Make sure that your CPA has the proper level of experience and training, and don’t forget that you can ask for references. For additional information or to find a CPA, contact the Oregon Society of CPAs at 503-641-7200 or view its website at www.orcpa.org, or in Washington, the Washington Society of CPAs at 425-644-4800 or www.wscpa.org.

Banking in Metro Portland

The Portland area offers many banking options to suit your needs. In addition to a few local banks, most major banks have branches in the metro Portland area as well. Banks in the area include Simple Bank, Umpqua Bank, Columbia Bank, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase.

Credit unions are popular in the Portland metro region. Credit unions  provide many of the same services as banks, including home loans, but they are not-for-profit, and they are cooperatives, so instead of seeking to profit, credit unions are driven by their members—those who bank with them. Credit unions focus on serving their members by typically offering better interest rates on loans and savings accounts and lower fees for other services. Just a few of the many local credit unions in the area are: Unitus Community Credit Union, Advantis Credit Union, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Rivermark Community Credit Union, and IQ Credit Union in Vancouver.

Applying for a Mortgage: What You Need To Know

You can save time if you have the following items with you when you visit your lender. Depending on your lender, you may be asked for other information.

1.    Social Security numbers for both you and your spouse, if both of you are applying for the loan.
2.    Copies of your checking and savings account statements for the past six months.
3.    Evidence of any other assets such as bonds or stocks.
4.    A recent paycheck stub detailing your earnings.
5.    A list of all credit card accounts and the approximate monthly amounts owed on each.
6.    A list of account numbers and balances due on outstanding loans, such as car loans.
7.    Copies of your last two years of income tax statements.
8.    The name and address of someone who can verify your employment.

Metro Portland Area Housing Resources



Annual Free Credit Reports



Building Industry Association of Clark County



Community Housing Resource Center



Department of Housing & Urban Development



Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland



Home Forward



Homebuyer Education Classes



Homeownership Opportunities Website Northwest



Homeownership Program Search



Housing Authority of Clackamas County 



Housing Authority of Yamhill County



Multifamily NW



Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation



NW Natural Free Appliance Inspection



Open Door Counseling Center



Oregon Housing & Community Services



Oregon Property Buyer Advisory



Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives



Portland Housing Bureau



Portland Housing Center



Portland Maps



Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors



Proud Ground



Regional Multiple Listing Service



Vancouver Housing Authority



Washington County Housing Services