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Even Realtors Take Vacation

One of the things I love about being a Realtor is the flexibility and control I have over my own schedule. This allows me to take a couple vacations a year. I’m off today to Iceland for just under 2 weeks, so no blog post next Monday. I should be back with a post on Monday, June 5th. I also am supposed to have wi-fi and cellular access, so if you need to reach me, best bet is email first, then text, then phone call.

While I’m gone, get outside and enjoy this incredible Seattle sunshine. Cheers!

Seller Strategies for Evaluating Multiple Offers

If you are considering a sale in our market right now, depending on the price point, area, and property amenities, you may receive multiple offers for your property. Although price will likely be at the top of your list of variables to measure, there are a number of other items that may be included in the offer that should be evaluated:

  • Price – Although this is the primary concern for most sellers, there is more at stake than just money. Read on!
  • Escalation Clause – Savvy buyers may include an escalation clause which allows the price to inflate to a certain amount dependent on what other buyers have offered.
  • Earnest Money – Buyers include earnest money which represents the buyer’s ability to complete the transaction as outlined in the contract. In the event the buyer defaults, the seller would be able to keep this money. In our market, it is not unusual for a buyer to put up between x% and x% of the home price in earnest money.
  • Sale of Buyer’s Current Home – Do the buyers have to sell their home before buying yours? When there are other buyers and sellers in the mix and your home sale can be affected by their financial soundness and ability to close, this needs to be taken into consideration.
  • Financial Position – Sellers are picky about the price of the home and how the home is paid for. There are a number of things to consider in this category such a how much of a down payment the buyers are coming up with or if they are paying cash, what financial institution is the financing through, and what type of loan are they getting.
  • Appraisal – If the buyer is getting a loan from a bank, the bank will require an appraisal done on the property to make sure their financial interest is protected. But what happens if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price and the bank won’t loan the full amount expected? How submitted offers address this situation need to be evaluated.
  • Inspection and Requested Repairs – Did the buyers get a pre-inspection or do they plan on having one after the offer is accepted? What will happen if the buyer finds items that they want to negotiate to be repaired? Different buyers have different comfort levels when it comes to these issues and this is a top variable to evaluate and determine the parameters that are most advantageous for you.
  • Additional Items – Do the buyers want the chandelier in the dining room? How do you feel about that?
  • Closing Date – How does your preferred closing date concur with theirs?
  • Rent Back – If you need more time to move out after closing and get your next home transaction in order, will the buyer allow for a period of time to rent back the home for a few weeks up to a month or two?

For more information, give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email me.

Market Update

April was another crazy month for the Seattle area real estate market. Inventory fell nearly 25 percent from the volume of active listings being offered a year ago. At the end of April, MLS brokers reported 10,679 homes and condos for sale across a 23-county area, which compares to the year-ago selection of 14,235 listings. The four-county Puget Sound region, which accounted for more than 77 percent of last month’s 7,276 closed sales, reported a price hike of nearly 14.7 percent, led by Snohomish County at 16.7 percent. In Snohomish County.

Homes and condos that sold last month in King County fetched a median price of $550,000, up about 15.8 percent from a year ago. For single-family homes (excluding condos) the median price was $625,000. That’s $85,000 more than the year-ago figure, and $25,050 more than the previous month. For the city of Seattle, the median sales price for single family homes was $700,000 in April.

Give me a call (206-790-0081) or email to learn more about the market.

Life Transitions

My BFF got married on Saturday. My cousin had a baby last summer. A friend’s parents recently moved into assisted living. Friends’ kids are graduating from high school and college.

These are all times of transition – life changes are happening. A large share of real estate transactions are related to life changes. For example, the bride and groom are moving out of their apartment onto a boat. With a new child, my cousin’s family will be looking to sell their condo and purchase a house. My friend’s parents will be looking to sell their condo. Parents may be buying investment properties for their graduates, or they may decide to downsize from their bigger home. Other friends bought a new home because they needed one-level living.

Our lives and needs change often in adulthood. Do you have a transition coming up? Are you in need of a different type of housing situation than you have now? Please give me a text/call at (206) 790-0081 or email to discuss your housing needs.

Market Update – 1st Quarter 2017

Low inventory and higher prices continue to create a sellers’ market in Seattle and the Puget Sound region. This frenzied market is now reaching into most counties in western Washington. Buyers are encountering multiple offers in their attempts to purchase homes and condos.  All cash offers are dominating the market, and many homes are selling 20% or more above list price. For those buyers with mortgages, in this escalating market we are seeing more low appraisals, leading to buyers having to bring more cash to the table.

Some interesting highlights for the 1st Quarter of 2017.

  • ¨Days on market, the time it takes for a home to go from listing to pending, increased 17.4% (from 23 to 27 days) for single family homes (SFHs) and 4.2% for condos. This increase is likely because buyers, with little to choose from in the market, are purchasing properties that have been sitting on the market.
  • The median SFH price in Seattle is now $650,000 with an average of $730,000.
  • Although new listings are down from 1st Quarter 2016, there was a 50% increase in listings from February to March this year.

 

Is Your Home Working for You?

All over the country, the lack of homes for sale continues to be a concern. Pent up demand and multiple offers are prevalent while homeowners, concerned about the possibility of not finding another home to suit their needs, are sitting on the sidelines making the problem worse by not putting their home on the market when under different circumstances, they would.

Although this has been the national story, I think it is important to remind my clients that your home isn’t just an investment. It is where you spend your days, your nights, where you celebrate, grieve, and make memories. It is so much more than numbers on a piece of paper. Your home needs change over time as the lifestyles of the people living there change. So instead of trying to time the market, maybe you should be asking yourself if your home is working for you the way it once did.

Here are some questions to ask yourself (and your family members if applicable):

  1. Do the number of bedrooms and the configuration of these rooms meet our current needs?
    Remember to also think about both your parents and children’s needs not just now, but a year or more down the road.
  2. Do the public areas of our home (such as the living room, dining room, kitchen, and powder rooms) work with how we live and prefer to use them?
    For example, if you often have several teenagers over and they always take over the living room, relegating you to your bedroom, then you may want to rethink your preferred public area setup.
  3. Does our home support the way we live?
    If you are an avid chef, does the kitchen meet your needs? If you have an active family with a lot of sports equipment, do you have room to store it all? If you are paying extra for a storage unit each month or have a completely crammed garage, give this question some thought.
  4. Is the location of our home ideal for work, play, and school?
    If you spend a lot of time in the car, it might be wise to take a closer look at this and determine if there is a more-optimal location to live.
  5. Can we do everything we want on our property?
    If you want to raise chickens, is your property zoned to do that? Is parking a challenge? If you want to work on your car in the driveway, are you allowed to do that?

If these questions have you wondering if your home is indeed still working for you, give me for a no-pressure consultation. I will show you the types of properties currently on the market with the amenities and location you are looking for along with the price so you can determine if a move could be worth it. Don’t feel like because the market isn’t optimal for buyers right now that a move isn’t possible. Let’s talk about your options. Call me at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

What’s Important to You?

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, it’s important to think about what’s most important to you.

Buyer

When you’re purchasing a home, it’s important for you to realize that it’s unlikely you’ll find a home that offers everything you want. Before you start your home search, you should make a list of your “must haves” and “wants.” Your must have list might include location (has to be near a specific school), a garage, number of bedrooms, and so-on. Your wants list  may be similar or different, such as an updated kitchen, bedrooms all on the same floor, and  a home with air conditioning. Some people also do a list of “don’t wants.” These are items that will be deal breakers for you – for example, no off-street parking.

This list should guide you (and your real estate broker) as you look at homes. But it’s also important to be flexible. Some items can be renovated, such as the kitchen, which you can remodel to meet your needs and wishes. Other items, such as location, may be non-negotiable.

Seller

Many think that all a seller cares about is money. That’s probably true, I’ve never met a seller who didn’t care about the bottom line. But sellers also have needs too. They may need to stay in their home for a certain period of time after closing, to allow them to purchase another property. Sellers may prefer that buyers plan to live in the home, rather than a developer purchasing their home full of memories to just tear down.

Of course, as you’re looking for a home or looking at offers, your must haves and wants may change. Flexibility and open-mindedness are critical.  Spending some time upfront thinking about what’s important to you will help you throughout your real estate transaction.

Stay? Move? What Should You Do?

Low inventory, driven by years of under-building by the construction industry along with population and job growth, has been one of the top real estate stories for almost the last four years.

Of course, high demand leads to strong price surges. The national median home price for existing homes rose 6% between the fourth quarter of 2015 and 2016.  According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the national median sales price has risen for 59 straight months.

The inventory issue is facing additional challenges because some homeowners who want to put their homes on the market and buy another home are feeling stuck. They are worried they won’t be able to find and buy another property so instead of selling, they stay put. Instead of taking advantage of the strong price growth and tapping into their equity to invest in another property, they are tapping into that equity to remodel their current home. Furthermore, interest rates have begun to creep up which will further complicate our inventory problem since some homeowners may be reticent to trade in their historically-low interest rate on their mortgage for a higher interest rate mortgage on a new property.

So what should you do? Should you compete with other buyers in the market and buy now or should you wait until the market calms down? It depends! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The price you pay in the future will almost assuredly be higher than the price you would pay today, even with multiple offers.
  • The inventory problem is not expected to be remedied until the new construction industry can catch up on years of negative housing starts – which may take years.
  • Growing interest rates will also eat into buying power.

Therefore, if your housing situation isn’t working for you now and it is not expected to get better, now may still be a great time to move, despite having to compete to buy a house. While most buyers might cringe at the price they may have to pay if competing in a multiple offer situation, they could possible cringe more if they waited to buy and interest rates and prices continue to rise. But the decision to sell should focus on the actual need to sell rather than on speculation and playing the market.

It can be difficult to determine what to do. But I am happy to help you evaluate all the pros and cons of selling now and play out different future scenarios to help you reach the best-fitting conclusion. That might indeed be selling and finding a home that meets your needs. Or it might mean staying and making some adjustments. Let’s talk! Please give me a call (206) 790-0081 or send me and email. Let’s set up an appointment to discuss your options and make a plan.

Thinking of Selling?

Reposting as this class is this week, there are spaces still available.

Please join me for this informative and interactive class on March 29th. Come learn valuable insights about the current home selling market and how to prepare your home to sell.

Wednesday, March 29th, 6:30-8:30pm at the  Phinney Neighborhood Association, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

Topics include:

  • understanding today’s market
  • key steps for preparing your home for market and how to receive top dollar
  • options for buying a new home while selling your current one
  • why it might be in your best interest to sell sooner rather than later
  • tips on downsizing and decluttering.

Reserve your spot by calling 206-783-2244 or www.phinneycenter.org/classes.

Contact Jamie with any questions at 206-790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Market Update

The only word I can use to describe this market is FRENZY! Buyers are out in droves, looking to find their dream home. With interest rates expected to raise over 2017, buyers want to get into a home now while they can still afford to purchase. At the same time, sellers are hesitant to sell because they’re concerned about not being able to find a home to purchase. It’s really a Catch 22 out there.

Figures from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) for February and personal experience indicate record-low inventory is spurring multiple offers, rising prices, fewer sales, and frustrated house-hunters. I held an open house in February for a North Seattle home that I estimate had approximately 140 people through in the three hours I was there. That home received 25 hours and sold more than 20% over list price.I recently heard of a home on the eastside that had 55 offers.

A check of Northwest MLS records dating to 2004 shows no other month when the number of active listings dipped below the 10,000 mark – until last month. At the end of February, there were 9,091 active listings in the Northwest MLS system, which encompasses 23 counties. That represents a drop of nearly 25 percent from the year-ago total of 12,107.

This chart shows you the number of signle family homes for sale, in contract (pended), and sold for the city of Seattle. Homes for sale in February 2017 are down 7.7% compared to the last month and down 20.9% compared to 12 months ago. Home sales closed in February 2017 is down 14.1% compared to January and are down 2.1% compared to last year. Home in contract in February 2017 is up 18.4% compared to last month and up 3.6% compared to last year. This shows us that the demand is out there.

Home prices in Seattle are up as well. The median sold price is up 8.5% compared to January and up 6.7% compared to February last year. Average sales prices are up as well, 11.3% compared to January and up 12.8% compared February last year.

For more information on the market or your specific home or neighborhood, give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.