Heather DeFord

Real Estate Broker, Licensed in the State of Washington

Visit Heather on her broker webpage to view listings


Using real estate assets to make a charitable impact

One of my favorite things about real estate is that it can be so much more than just buying and selling houses. Real estate also offers the opportunity to help individuals and families accomplish their charitable goals.

With a more than 20-year career in real estate here in Clark County, I’ve had the great privilege of working with many clients multiple times as they enter new stages of life and residence. For individuals who have reached the point where they are ready to make a larger charitable impact, I love working with them to help turn their real estate assets into a charitable legacy.

Many times, individuals who are very charitable already are surprised to find out how they can use real estate assets to support their favorite nonprofits. In many cases, they can even get Uncle Sam to help them make those assets go even further.

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is a way for a property owner to transfer an asset like a home or a rental property into an irrevocable trust, which then sells the asset, reinvests the proceeds and pays you income out of those funds.

You should talk to your financial planner for the full range of benefits and technicalities on all of these topics, but from the real estate broker perspective, this is a great tool because it relieves you from the burden of property management and also removes the asset from your portfolio, so you may be able to take a tax deduction and also avoid capital gains tax. Your accountant can help with the specifics.

This is a great approach for those with modest incomes who want to make a meaningful impact, but don’t have liquid assets to do so at the level they desire. I’ve had so many wonderful conversations with clients who talk about their favorite charities and the good that they will be able to do by thinking of the sale of their home or rental property in this way.

Another approach is to liquidate an asset and use those proceeds for charity. If you simply sell your home and donate the proceeds, you lose many of the tax benefits of working directly with the charity. However, if you donate the asset to the charity, with the intention of having them sell it, there are many immediate benefits for both.

Over the last several months, I’ve had the honor of working with the Clark College Foundation and one of their donors, George Fullerton, on a liquidation project to help him make a sizeable gift to the foundation.

Fullerton, a longtime coach and teacher at Clark, earned a modest salary over the years but through targeted investment amassed a large number of rental properties. He approached Clark College about wanting to put the foundation in his will, and they helped him find a solution that would be more financially beneficial to him and to the foundation, and would also allow him to see the benefits of his donation right away.

Hal Abrams, vice president of development for the foundation, brought me in to sell some of Fullerton’s properties for the best price possible.

“By directing his assets to us, it benefitted him on his taxes and his kids as well because they will not have to pay an inheritance tax on those assets when he passes,” Abrams said.

Because Fullerton opted to donate now, he also had the opportunity to work closely with us on how the properties were marketed, and he gets to meet the students who are the beneficiaries of the scholarships he is funding.

“George is having the opportunity right now to see the fruits of his philanthropy,” Abrams said. “Through his gift, and working with a high-quality real estate broker, we have been able to maximize his contributions.”

The endowment fund set up in Fullerton’s name will fund about 20 scholarships, in perpetuity. Knowing that the homes you buy and sell can be used to make memories or to generate income is one level of satisfaction. Knowing that you can use those same assets to make a meaningful difference for nonprofit charities you love is another level entirely.

Heather DeFord is a broker and CLHMS with The Heather DeFord Group of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. For more info, visit www.TheHeatherDeFordGroup.com.

Read the full article here.


Five Predictions for the Real Estate Market for the Remainder of 2018

Home ownership, once a staple of the “American Dream,” has seen a resurgence over the past several years. Favorable market conditions, such as low interest rates, have spurred robust interest in the real estate market. As we continue into 2018, forecasters point to several factors which may negatively impact decision-making. Most recently, fluctuations in the stock market and signs of higher interest rates, along with a change to the allowable mortgage interest deduction, could all play a significant role.

The market throughout the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington region, has been extremely active in the last few years. Unfortunately, that growth is expected to slow in 2018, down 3-5%. Factors predicted to affect Portland home buyers and sellers are low inventory, slow economic growth, and rising mortgage rates. In other areas, such as the resort town of Bend, located in Central Oregon, brokerage firms such as Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty have experienced record growth. In fact, as part of their expansion strategy, the firm has concentrated efforts throughout Portland, the Oregon Coast, and SW Washington.

Take a look at several possible scenarios that could have consequences for the market.

1) Affordability pressure plagues slower market growth. . Available inventory of homes considered affordable on a median income has been in steady decline. Experts predict that inventory will recover slightly, up 1.7% year over year, after falling about 3.4% in 2016. Predictions also suggest that median home sale prices will increase 5.3% year over year while existing home sales are forecast to increase 2.8% in 2018.

2) The average number of days a home spends on the market will be the lowest on record. In 2016, the average home spent only 52 days on the market, shortest since 2009. Due to low home inventory over the last several years, particularly for “starter” homes, homes have had multiple, competitive offers within only 6 days of being listed. In addition, transactions have become less time consuming and drastically more efficient due to new technologies, which accordingly makes home buying process easier.

3) Anticipate a minimal increase in mortgage rates. Industry experts predict that 30-year-fixed mortgage rates will rise to 4.3% next year. The 30-year-fixed mortgage rate has already increased from 3.5% at the end of 2017 to just above 4% following the election of Donald Trump. Wall Street’s optimism is said to be in response to the economic proposals from the White House and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike earlier this year.

4) Everyone can get a home loan – for now. A positive credit score will go a long way in this market. Some financial institutions have introduced mortgage down payments of as little as 1-3% of the home’s purchase price. However, an immaculate credit history is often necessary to be eligible. Last year, government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac awarded considerably larger mortgages for the first time since the 2007 financial crisis. In fact, loan limits saw an increase from $417,000 to $424,1000 in many regions.

5) There’s still an ongoing housing shortage in many regions. It’s no secret that in 2018 there is a serious shortage of affordable housing across the entire country. It’s a combination of construction slow-downs, mortgage rate increases, and so much more. Little is predicted to change in the near future. Population growth has dramatically outpaced new construction and the industry is having difficulty keeping up with demand.

What’s the bottom line for decision-making regarding the market? Mortgage rates should remain steady for the immediate future and continue to promote confidence in the home buying sector. That said, the advice of most industry professionals is to act now, in order to capitalize on advantageous conditions before inevitable changes in the market climate begin to take effect.

If you have any questions about the market generally, or your home specifically, please give me a call! I’d love to chat and see how I can help.


Builder Spotlight: Cascade West Development

When you work with the best clients in the world, it makes sense that you also need to work with the best partners in the world. Why would I want to give my clients anything less?

We are so proud to be working with Cascade West Development on The Parklands at Camas Meadows. Their highly-professional team will be featuring two homes in the 2018 Parade of Homes, and they will be show-stoppers. Anytime I refer buyers to Cascade West, I know they will get the top-notch service and quality they want and deserve.

Finding a good builder you can trust is more important now than it ever has been. It’s well-known that there is a shortage of housing inventory here in Clark County—meaning more competition for less choice. I know so many buyers lately who have been looking and looking for six months or more, unable to find the right house that meets their needs. After months of searching, many of them are starting to think about building new. In the time they spent looking, they could have entered a contract with a builder, and be ready to move in now.

A builder like Cascade West doesn’t just drop cookie-cutter homes into a subdivision and wish you the best. They work with buyers at all price ranges and have options from high-quality affordable homes to ultra-luxury estates on private acreage for the buyer who wants to work directly with a builder on their fully-customized dream home. I always know that when I send a client to Cascade West, they are going to get the same high level of service I would want for myself, and that I pride myself on offering my clients.

This September, you’ll be able to see some of Cascade West’s luxury work in the 2018 Parade of Homes at Parklands at Camas Meadows. The construction photos here show some of their work in progress.

If you are thinking about working directly with a builder, I’d love to find out more about what you’re looking for and connect you with the best fit! Send me an email or give me a call today!


A Home Changes Everything

Learn about New Story and how we can all help make a difference.

When you are fortunate enough to have a home and if – like me – you have the additional blessing of spending your days and nights helping people buy and sell homes, the importance of having a roof over your head can sometimes be easy to overlook. I was so excited when I learned that Sotheby’s International Realty, and our local brokerage Cascade Sotheby’s, was entering a support partnership with the charitable organization New Story.

Worldwide, more than 1 billion people live in slum or inadequate housing. 1.5 million children under age 5 die every day due to unsafe drinking water and a lack of basic sanitation. Without a proper roof, families are exposed to the elements. Children living in these conditions attend school less frequently and are destined to underperform and stay in poverty for the rest of their lives.

But once a family has a roof, clean water, proper sanitation, and the knowledge that this will not be taken away, they have better conditions and potential to thrive. Living in a safe home means families can focus on income and moving forward – not just subsisting from day to day.

The organization New Story sponsors families to build homes that help keep them moving forward. A basic home is built, local workers perform the labor, and individual families receive the support they need to be independent and successful.

Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty has made a commitment to support this organization, because we know how much home means to us. One of the reasons I aligned myself with this brand is because of this commitment to giving back. Working together, bit by bit, we can all be a part of making our world a better place – for ALL of us.


New urbanism reaches neighborhoods of Southwest Washington

Region is starting to see a return to convenient living and central community gathering spaces.

What’s the latest, lasting trend in Southwest Washington real estate and development? An idea that’s been around for centuries! We’re calling it “new urbanism” these days, and what it really is, is a return to the not-so-crazy notion that people want the ability to live, work and play in convenient settings, without having to travel miles and miles to do it. And while urbanism, historically, has meant high-density living in sometimes very loud and fast-paced environments, new urbanism is taking hold across the country in a wide variety of ways. Residents looking for high-density urban living can find it in downtown Vancouver and new developments like the forthcoming waterfront. At the same time, residents who want similar conveniences but a bit more space can find it in planned communities which offer multiple residential options integrated with mixed-use and commercial, such as The Village and The Parklands at Camas Meadows, which are both different residential developments that will connect through the commercial Archery District at the center.

Until the middle of the 20th Century and the rise of the automobile, towns and neighborhoods were organized around walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Of course, they didn’t call them “mixed-use,” they just called them “town.” And in larger communities where mass transit also developed, the boundaries extended but the general ethic of living, working and playing in the same space remained. It wasn’t until the personal car became nearly ubiquitous that this notion of convenient living started to break down. Cars made it possible for men and women to work much farther from the home, which led to rapid suburban development. Here in Clark County, we saw much of that suburban growth. New roads allowed previously inconvenient areas of the county to open up for residential use, and our population spread out.

However, while suburbanism has its attractive points, humans are social animals. We have come full-circle, starting to recognize that we’d rather spend that car-time with friends and family. Nationwide and here locally, many residents are seeking a return to the urban center – a live/work/play environment where you can spend your time engaging with life, not sitting in traffic. And here in Clark County, we are seeing new urbanism take shape not as a re-creation of urban hustle and bustle, but as intentionally-designed communities that strive to meet the needs of their residents in their own unique ways.

One of the most widely-known and talked-about developments in Southwest Washington right now is the Vancouver Waterfront project. This multi-use development currently under construction by Gramor Development will be the epitome of new urbanism, with dining and shops, apartments and condos, and a beautiful, well-equipped city park as its front yard. Just steps away from downtown Vancouver, this development will be ultimately walkable, connected to public transit, and offer not just housing, but jobs and commercial opportunities as well.

On the other side of the county, the City of Camas and local developers have made extensive investments in new urban projects that range from centrally-located apartments and townhomes to luxury golf-course Parade of Homes-level sites that, even as they offer large lots and the escape of privacy, are centered around mini-downtowns that feature dining and shopping, with commercial developments nearby for offices. In the “new” urbanism, we are seeing both a return to the cities and a creation of new urban centers that meet the needs of smaller groups.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins says that Camas has embraced this kind of development because “That’s what a lot of people are looking for: options. That’s one thing the projects in Camas will show,” he said. “The option to own a home or a condo, the option to rent, the option to work next to where you’re living, the option to shop, eat and always remain connected to the natural environment.”

Similarly, Waterfront developer Barry Cain of Gramor said, “Not only will the people who will live on the waterfront and in downtown Vancouver enjoy this new urban center… people will flock to Vancouver’s waterfront as a destination for generations to come.”

New urban centers in Clark County don’t just serve the people who live there — they will serve the entire community and visitors, as well.

People have been gathering together in clusters and nodes for as long as we have existed, so it’s no surprise that after a brief step away to the suburbs, we are starting to see a return to central community gathering spaces. What’s exciting about this direction is how well it can modify for every city and town. Those who want to live in a rural atmosphere can, and those who want to live in a bustling downtown core can do that, as well. And for the large majority of people who want something in between, that option is finally starting to become more of a reality here in Southwest Washington.


Build the Home of Your Dreams by Working Directly with a Builder

Throughout my career, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with people at every point in the home buying and selling process. One of the areas that can be very exciting is helping seasoned buyers find — or create — their custom dream home. Working directly with a designer and builder allows you to customize the home to your unique tastes and desires.

I’ve recently had the great pleasure of working with acclaimed luxury builder Sam Vilhauer on an exquisite custom home in Vancouver, Washington. The grand entry opens into living room, large windowed doors open onto an expansive patio, and seamless hardwood floor transitions into the dining room and butler’s pantry. This home has an open concept kitchen which features high-end appliances, quartz counters, and impeccable built-ins. The master suite has a spacious walk-in closet, also with luxury finishes. The future owners of this home will enjoy a family room off the kitchen with a fireplace and outdoor living space, also with a covered fireplace.

5408 NE 199th Street is currently under construction. Any interested buyer has the opportunity to contribute their preferences on the custom finishes, making this home truly yours.

With an open, Pacific Northwest-style design that emphasizes high-quality materials, large bright spaces, and visual harmony with the natural world, this home has the versatility to be a luxury getaway, an entertainer’s delight, or a quiet family nest. Large windowed doors open onto an expansive patio with an in-ground pool.

This comfortable and stylish home is private and secluded, but still within a reasonable distance to all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

The key benefit of working directly with a builder like Sam Vilhauer is reputation security. Because his name is on the final product, you can be assured that project will have the finest build quality and his vendor partnerships are in a league of their own.

Working directly with a builder gives you direct insight into your goals for the home. You’re encouraged to express your wants and needs. Because of the brainstorming, you’ll find yourself in pleasantly surprising conversations about creative solutions and unexpected possibilities!

Working with a builder to design and construct your dream home is definitely not like a traditional home-buying transaction. It’s helpful to already have a sense of what you want to see in your home and what has and hasn’t worked for you in a home in the past. When you share your experiences and needs with a high-caliber builder like Vilhauer, you will always discover that you don’t just get what you need, you get more than you ever dreamed!

My husband and I are currently in the design process ourselves, to create our own custom dream home at The Parklands at Camas Meadows. Not only have I worked with clients in this process, I also know it intimately since I’ve experienced it first-hand.

Are you interested in learning more about 5408 NE 199th Street? Visit the website to see the architectural plans and work-in-progress photos. Contact me anytime if you are interested in working with a builder to create a custom dream home of your own. I’d love to hear from you!


It’s Not a Cliché. Home Truly is Where the Heart Is.

I have been a Realtor for more than 20 years, and I feel a great privilege to have had so many individuals and families open their homes and lives to me over the years. For me, this isn’t a job; it’s a calling, and I feel truly blessed to work with such incredible people on something as important as buying and selling a home.

I grew up in SW Washington, and made an intentional choice to stay here and raise my family. Exploring with my husband, our boys, and our dogs keeps me connected to this place and always ready to share it with others.

Even as this area witnessed remarkable growth in the last few years, I know this region like the back of my hand, and love sharing what we have to offer. From urban living to off-the-beaten-path rural retreats, to everything in between, Southwest Washington has it all. And once you’ve explored what we have to offer in our own backyard, we are just a short drive from mountains, ocean beaches, high desert, and deep wilderness.

I love helping clients at all levels, both buying and selling. I have helped first-time buyers get into their first starter-homes, I have helped mid-career professionals level up into their custom dream home built on years of hard work and success, and I have helped older couples and individuals downsize to ease the transition into later stages of life. Every stage is important and I value every client relationship. Lately, my work has also extended into new construction and development work, like our new luxury development, The Parklands at Camas Meadows, which will be the site for the 2018 Parade of Homes.

Finding a new home, or finding the perfect buyer for your current home, can be exhausting. I’ve been through it myself, and I’ve spent two decades helping clients navigate the process as seamlessly and comfortably as possible, with a little humor and fun thrown in, too! I take great care to listen closely to my clients’ needs, meet them where they are, and always find solutions that are tailored to the individual situation, not some cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.

The best part of this career is the people. I have made so many long and strong friendships by helping my clients achieve their dreams. I take great pride in getting to know my clients as individuals, seeking the solutions that best fit their needs, and working tirelessly to make good things happen for them.

Aligning my company with the Cascade Sotheby’s brand was one of the best decisions I ever made. I chose a company that could help me deliver the highest possible service to my clients. The professionalism, marketing muscle, and international reach is the best around, and I take great pride that my clients can experience first-hand that luxury isn’t a price point, it’s an experience – and we deliver that experience to all of our clients, at every level.

To learn more about Heather DeFord, watch her Evoker film below:


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