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Downsizing Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting

This article comes from the materials I hand out and discuss at my “Tips for Selling Your Home Class.” If you’d like to learn more or attend a class, the next class is Friday, June 7th at the Greenwood Senior Center. Contact me for more information or to attend.

Need help with organizing and decluttering? A recommendation for a painter or a roofer? Most real estate brokers have a list of vendors who can help you with these activities. Additionally, some brokers, like myself, have taken classes in staging, and have materials that can help such as lists of places to donate or sell items. Just tell your broker what you need.​

Thinking of moving to a smaller space or even a tiny home? While it is true that by liberating ourselves of extra space can open the door to lower costs (mortgage, utilities, property taxes, and repairs), for many the thought of having to downsize their belongings in order to fit in more closed-quarters is prohibitive. If you have been thinking about downsizing, here are some ways you can get the ball rolling without it seeming overwhelming:​

Lifestyle Analysis – First review how your life is going to change after you downsize. If you are retiring, there may be many work-related items that no longer need to clutter your closet! Suits, jackets, shoes, purses, etc., that served you in a professional capacity may be the first to go into the donate or sell piles. If you are moving to a warmer climate, perhaps you should rethink your winter wardrobe. Moving to a condo and don’t plan on utilizing your green thumb? Consider your garden and lawn tools and supplies. Entire categories of things can be the first to go. ​

Space Analysis – Think about the space and functionality of the rooms you are moving to. If you don’t have a guestroom at your new place, then perhaps you don’t shouldn’t bring that entire room of items. If you are downsizing your kitchen to half of what you have now, then half of what you currently have will need to find another home. Think about your largest furniture pieces as well. Do you have room for a pool table? Also consider scale of furniture – sectionals and large dining room tables may be just too large proportionally for the rooms you will have. ​

Functionality Analysis – How many pans do you really cook with on a regular basis? How many mixing bowls do you really need at once? How many pairs of socks? So often we keep something around because we perceive that we need it, but you likely only use a few items in your home on a regular basis. When was the last time you made pasta from scratch or used all your towels? Downsizing means choosing, so choose wisely!​

Memorabilia Analysis – This is a tough one because it means choosing among things that are cherished. Yearbooks, photos, letters, keepsakes, children’s artwork, etc., all fall into this category. As we get older, this problem becomes more pronounced as we inherit and become stewards of other people’s items. One idea is to digitize items – as files on a computer you still have the items but they take up less physical space. ​

This category of items is just too painful for some people to have to go through and make choices for fear of making a mistake. If this sounds like you, then perhaps your best bet is to get a storage unit and put those items in there. I do recommend that you let someone else know about the unit in the event something happens to you so that these items stay in the family.  ​

Real Estate is a Long-Term Investment

Seattle 10 Year Appreciation

Home prices in the Puget Sound region have decreased over the past year. But I don’t see this as a cause for concern. There are more buyers in the market, interest rates are coming down, and we are seeing multiple offers again. I do expect that prices will rise this year, but not at the pace we’ve seen previously. Real estate is a long-term investment, so even if they’re down over the past year, in Seattle they are up 92% over the past 10 years.

Understanding Days on Market

One clue to understanding what type of real estate market we’re in is “Days on Market.” When homes are selling quickly, it tends to be a sellers’ market, and when slowing, a buyers’ market. But when we look at the numbers, it sometimes can be a confusing story.

Most of the time when we look at Days on Market, we’re using Average Days on Market. And when we do this, we see this number has increased substantially from the past few years.

This increase reflects the fact that homes that were not priced properly stayed on the market for a substantial amount of time.

However, if we look at Median Days on Market, it’s a different story. Looking for this perspective, we see that half of homes sold in a very short period whereas half sold in many more days.

What this tells us is that pricing your home properly is a critical step in getting the home sold quickly. It is imperative that you do not overprice your home, as it will sit on the market. Your real estate professional will advice you on a pricing strategy and I highly recommend that you follow that person’s advice.

For more information including a complimentary pricing analysis for your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

The First Thing You Should Do When You Buy a New Home

You’ve signed the closing documents and taken possession of your new home. Your real estate broker hands you the keys and you’re excited to move on in. But there’s one thing you should do as soon as you get those keys, and it’s not moving in. 

The first thing you should do is have the locks rekeyed!

You don’t know who still has keys to the property. The seller might have extras, the neighbor might have had a key for an emergency. Former roommates or adult children who have moved away may still have keys too. Contractors may have had access to a key as well. There have been countless people through the house while it was on the market, and while unlikely, a key could have been misplaced, stolen, or copied.

Rekeying is inexpensive and the best thing you can do to protect your investment, your personal property, and yourself. Even if you purchase a condo, you should have the front door rekeyed. With condos, you might have to have permission of the Homeowners Association and they may have a vendor they want you to use.

In rekeying, a locksmith comes to your home and changes out the barrels in your locks. They work onsite and will make as many new keys as you like. I have found that in the Seattle area, rekeying typically costs $100-$150 and includes 4-6 locks and includes a couple of keys.

Be careful and take this simple step to protect your home and yourself. For more information, contact me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Things Out of Your Control When Selling

Do you feel like things are out of control? If you’ve listed your home for sale, every day might feel this way. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The truth is there really are things sellers can’t control. But don’t worry; even though you can’t control everything, there are ways to deal with these unknowns.

Buyers – Oh if only we could control buyers. They show up at odd times, they write crazy offers, they make odd repair requests and they can be difficult. One time a deal fell through because a Feng Shui Master didn’t like the color of the kitchen.

The Market – Market forces determine so many things; interest rates and sales prices. While you can’t change these forces, you can get all the information you can so you’re prepared for how this affects the sale.

Inspectors – You’ve loved and cared for your home, but even so there could be hidden issues that only a comprehensive, professional home inspection can uncover. One way to avoid unpleasant surprises is to put a listing home warranty in place to cover unexpected repairs. Another way is to your own inspection before listing your home.

Appraisers – Appraisers are just people. On occasion they make mistakes in value. Your lender and broker will help you navigate an unfavorable appraisal. There are ways to combat a poor appraisal.

Selling your home can bring unexpected issues. If you’ve done your due diligence and hired a good broker, you’ll be able to handle the unexpected issues which are out of your control. For more information, give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

5 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved

Mortgage rates have recently been at a 12-month low. Depending on your credit and financial situation, you might currently be able to get a mortgage at around 4%. Here are some reasons why it’s critical you get pre-approved for your mortgage. I have a list of wonderful mortgage lenders, please drop me an email and I’ll be happy to forward to you.

Seattle Real Estate Market Update

Seattle prices continue to decline slightly for single-family homes, with a 4.6% decrease from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. However, it’s important to note that we hit the peak of our market in spring 2018, so prices were near their highest point last March. Condos are where we’re seeing the biggest changes, with a significant amount of inventory on the market and a 9.6% decrease in prices. With our increased inventory we’re seeing that the number of days it’s taking a property to sell has increased substantially. But for properties priced properly, they are selling quickly, often on the first day it comes on the market and often with multiple offers. Yes, multiple offers are back, and not just 2 or 3 offers, but more than 10 on many properties.

What does this mean for you? If you’re a homeowner considering selling your property, do NOT overprice. Price is the number one determinant of buyers coming to see your home and placing offers. Overpriced homes will sit on the market.  And as we’re now in spring, the busiest time of the year for our real estate market, do not wait to list your home.

Buyers, this is a great time for you. With the increase in inventory, you have many more choices. Interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in the past 12 months, so your money will go further right now. It’s definitely the time to buy.

Let’s talk about your real estate needs. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email me.

Increasing Net Worth Through Real Estate

The majority of American households own a primary residence, but did you know that homeowners have, in general, more net worth than their renter counterparts?

The National Association of REALTORS® tracks the relationship between renting, homeownership, and net worth. Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances to collect the data which is then analyzed.  In the most recent survey completed in 2016, the data showed that the median homeowners’ net worth ($231,000) was more than ti44mes that of the median renter ($5,200).

Equity in a home (the difference between what is owed on the mortgage and what the home may sell for in today’s market) is one of the biggest drivers of net worth.  When a renter pays rent, no equity is created for the renter – that goes straight to the landlord’s pocket! But when someone has purchased a home that monthly payment usually goes to paying down the loan, creating equity. The homeowner also receives the benefit of property appreciation – and if they don’t refinance, the principal and interest payment stays the same (assuming a fixed rate loan) whereas a renter may be faced with annual rent increases.

Of course, there are pros and cons to either renting or purchasing a home, and these should be considered before jumping into a home purchase. Appreciation and rental rates change from area to area and even neighborhood to neighborhood!

I would be happy to show you the possibilities. Please give me a call: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

It’s a Great Time for Buyers

If you’re considering whether it’s the right time to buy a property, the answer is definitely yes! There is a lot of inventory on the market right now, so that means that there is less competition among buyers. And interest rates have dropped substantially and are the lowest they’ve been in around a year, meaning your money will go further.

Whether it’s a condo, townhome, or house you’re considering, let’s talk about your buying needs. You can reach me at (206) 790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Is It Time to Move? 6 Telltale Signs

Most people dread the thought of moving, yet those same people love it when they move. Why? Most likely it’s emotional attachment and nostalgia for a beloved home. It’s understandable but yet a home that just doesn’t fit your needs any longer can make even the most loved home uncomfortable. Are you wondering if it’s time to move? Here are 6 telltale signs that you should consider putting the “for sale” sign up in your front yard.

1. Your Home is Too Small – One of the most common signs is that you’ve outgrown your home.

2. Your Home is Too Large – Life changes! Empty nesters often find the home too large and it’s maintenance too much when they finally have time to travel and relax.

3. Your Home is Too Expensive – Are you spending all your extra cash making repairs or do you want major upgrades to suit your lifestyle? Are property taxes getting too high?

4. The Neighborhood is Losing Value – Neighborhoods do change over time, if yours is declining consider a move.

5. Changing the Weather – Have you finally tired of shoveling snow? A move to a warmer state could be the right move.

6. Change is Good – The last great reason to move is to try something new. Different style or location, if the home isn’t making you happy any longer, time to move.

Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com to discuss your real estate needs.