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The Importance of Getting Loan Pre-Approval

If you have already decided to buy a home, you are probably very excited, have been looking at homes online, and are geared up and raring to go tour. However, if you are getting a loan for your home, there is a very important step you should absolutely take first – getting pre-approved for your mortgage. This step is critical for a number of reasons:

You will know your budget – There have been many situations in which the buyer was looking for homes in a much higher price range than they were ultimately approved for. You can imagine their disappointment when they realized they could only buy about half the house they were looking for. Likewise, there have been buyers who were underestimating their budget.

You will have already done the hard work – When you get pre-approved, the bank has already approved you as a borrower. That means that if there are any issues with credit or late payments that you might have made in the past can get cleared up before you get caught up in an offer on a house. You don’t have to worry if that mistake you made will catch up with you.

The seller will take you seriously – If you make an offer on a house before getting pre-approved and you are competing with a buyer who has already taken that step, the seller likely won’t look at your offer favorably. In fact, it is standard to include a letter of pre-approval from the lender in the offer and in some cases, the listing agent may even call the lender to learn about potential risk factors.

You don’t want to miss an opportunity to get the home of your dreams – What if you find the home that is just right, but you don’t have your financial ducks in a row? You could miss out and be disappointed. Disappointed buyers have a hard time getting over the one that got away.

You may be able to close faster – Since with a pre-approval, you as the buyer have already been approved, it will just be a matter of making sure your chosen house is a good investment for the bank. Depending on your loan type, conventional or government-backed, there may be an inspection of the property and there will surely be an appraisal. Depending on how quickly these can happen which will depend on the lender, you may be able to close faster, which may be appealing for some sellers who need to take their next step.

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting pre-approved. The relief you will feel once a lender has indicated that you are indeed qualified to buy a home is huge. You can move forward with confidence with your pre-approval letter in hand, knowing the top end of your budget and that the seller will be ready to negotiate with you.

If you would like to learn more or be referred to lenders who would be a great match for your lending needs, please call, text, or email: (206) 790-0081 or email: jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

Vegas Bound!

Sounds like a weird headline for a real estate blog but here goes. I’m headed this week to Las Vegas for Coldwell Banker Gen Blue, which is basically Coldwell Banker’s annual convention/conference for it’s brokers and agents from around the globe.

It’s a great opportunity for networking – I’ll be meeting people that I can refer clients to – want a vacation home in Mexico or Hawaii or even Australia or thinking of moving out of the area? I’ll probably have a new contact there.

It’s also a great opportunity to learn from the experts. I believe that continuing education is important, no matter what field you’re in. I’ll be hearing from some of the top real estate brokers and trainers. Stay tuned in future weeks – I might share a tidbit or two with you.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be available this week if you need me. Just email, call, or text.

Market Update

Is the market starting to slow down? We are seeing signs that the market is changing, although rather than calling it a slow down, I would say it’s a market stabilization. There are fewer and less intense bidding wars and the price increases are less dramatic than we have seen over the past couple years. Additionally, we are seeing homes not receiving offers by their review date and there have been more price reductions.

These changes are not a reason to worry. They may signal that we are moving toward a more balanced, healthier market. Because we still have a serious shortage of inventory, I don’t foresee that we will see a major change in the market. Instead, the market for buyers may become less challenging.

For sellers who have been holding off on selling because they’re waiting to see how much more money they could get on their homes, I wouldn’t wait much longer. If you want to get top dollar, you should get your home on the market while there still is a shortage of inventory.

Preparing Your Home for Fall

greenlake fall photo - stock photoI cannot believe that fall is upon us! Although we have had a wonderful summer, it is time to begin planning for fall maintenance on your home. The changes in the seasons can be tough for home structures, so to prevent surprises when your home is at its most vulnerable, take a day before autumn takes hold and prepare your home for the months ahead.

Roof and Siding
The heat of summer can cause materials on your roof and siding to shrink and expand, leaving gaps. Although the solution to remedy these gaps may vary depending on the type of materials your roof and siding consists of, take note of any gaps you see between joints (at seams, between siding and window/door openings, at transitions from wall to roof, etc) or between roofing materials (around skylights, between shingles or tiles, around flashing, etc). These may be easy fixes or it may be time to call in a professional. Keeping water and bugs out and keeping heat in is the name of the game!

Gutters
While you or your roofer are up on the roof, take the time to check your gutters both for debris (which needs to be cleaned out) and structural integrity. Gutters that are in disrepair may not be able to channel water away from your roof and house, so making sure these are in good working order is imperative.

Weather Stripping
Weather stripping around doors also should be looked at in the fall. This is an inexpensive do-it-yourself chore that most people can tackle. Again, you want to keep toasty air in and pests out, so making sure your stripping isn’t too old to be up to the task is a must.

Chimney
Before you begin any fires, have your chimney inspected. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a clean chimney not only helps prevent chimney fires, it also allows flue gases and smoke to travel freely up and out of your home. Chimneys should be inspected annually and clean and repair what is necessary.

Service Furnace
As we are winding down from summer, doing our fair share of sweltering, it may be difficult to think of your actually needing to turn on the heater, but preventative maintenance now is a lot cheaper than an emergency call on a frigid Friday night.

Maintaining your home and preparing it for the fall and winter months not only makes sense from a comfort point of view, it also can save you money in terms of utility costs and can keep the value up when it is time to sell. Please give me a call, text, or email to learn more: (206) 790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Homeowners Insurance – Are You Covered?

In light of the recent hurricanes that have ravaged the East Coast, the earthquake that decimated parts of Mexico, and wildfires in the West that are burning up acres and acres with buildings along with it, it seems like a good time to do a check-up of your homeowners insurance policy. Will you be covered when disaster strikes? This fall, I encourage you to check in with your insurance agent to review your policy, determine if there are holes, and see if you are able to cover those holes with additional insurance as you deem necessary. Here are some questions to guide that conversation:

How am I covered in the case of water damage? Water from a natural disaster is usually treated differently than water damage from typical weather. Ask questions around the different types of water damage your home might sustain so you understand what you are and are not covered for.

How am I covered in the case of wind damage? Does your insurance company treat a tree falling on your roof differently than the wind ripping the roof off? Think about the different wind events that might befall your property and ask questions.

Am I covered in case of an earthquake? It might surprise you to know that most policies do not cover earthquake damage, but often you can get coverage added on.

What happens if my belongings get damaged? Most insurance will cover your belongings in the home if they are damaged, but what about your lawn furniture and BBQ?

What are the holes you see in this policy? Your agent has probably seen a number of claims so it will be easy for them to see some typical issues that are not covered by their policy. Some may have additional coverage that you can get but in some cases, you will need to cover these items yourself (such as landscaping damage).

Your home is likely your most valuable asset! Don’t let a disaster drain your equity. Get smart about your homeowners insurance and protect your investments. Questions? Please call or text: (206) 790-0081 or email: jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

New Listing on Phinney Ridge

My colleague Mark Ashmun and I are excited to announce our latest listing, 749 N 67th St, Seattle, WA 98103.

Enjoy everything Phinney Ridge and Green Lake with this 2007 craftsman, including a permitted 2 bedroom ADU w/ great income potential or perfect for extended family living. The home offers 7 bedrooms and 4 full baths, 2 kitchens, 2 laundry rooms, and 2 off-street parking spots.

There is a large deck for entertaining and the custom designed backyard has an apple tree, rose garden, hot tub, fire pit, and more.

Additional features include:

  • 3,910 square foot home
  • 4,960 square foot lot
  • Tons of storage throughout
  • Central A/C for main and upper floors
  • Gas forced air heat
  • Master suite with gas fireplace, 5 piece bath and large walk-in closet with CA Closet system
  • Peek-a-boo Green Lake views from 2nd floor
  • P-Patch is across the street and 1 block to Green Lake

Download 749 N 67th St Flyer

For more information on this home or on buying or selling a home, contact me at 206-790-0081 or email me.

 

How To Price a Home

There is an art to pricing a home but in the end, Economics 101 and seller needs determines how to price a home.

To get an accurate picture of market activity in your area, I will give you a report that looks at houses similar to yours in size, location and features, whether they’re for sale, have sold, are pending, or failed to sell. Understanding the realities of the current market allows us to accurately assess your home and arrive at a price that properly positions your home for a successful sale.

However, the real market value of your home is determined when someone tells us what they are willing to pay for your home, you decide to accept that price, and escrow closes!

This may sound odd, but until this event happens, determining market value is really a matter of making an educated guess. Are you kidding, you guess? There are lots of opinions on price, yet only one set of facts. We will examine the facts of record (current, pending, sold, and expired listings) and together we will determine a pricing strategy designed to sell your home for the most money in the shortest period of time.

No one can tell me what my home will sell for? Not really. Someone might tell you a figure but no one knows the market value of your home because it is not established until someone buys it for a specific price. That’s why we use facts of record to determine a pricing strategy. Zestimates, tax assessments, and other automated values are not good estimates of market value – they are, however, pieces of information that can be looked at as part of pricing a home.

Therefore, in pricing a home, we must look at a variety of factors, including recent sales, current listings, homes in contract, location, condition, and amenities. I will gather information on recent and pending sales, as well as active listings, to identify current fair market value. This is a called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), and both buyers and sellers will want to have their broker complete a CMA to help them understand price.

Chances are that your home will sell at its fair market value. Pricing it realistically at the outset simply increases the likelihood for a timely sale with less inconveniences and greater monetary return.

Buyers educate themselves by viewing many homes. They know what is a fair price. If your home is not competitive in value with those seen, it will not sell. Overpricing causes most homes to remain on the market too long. Buyers, aware of a long exposure period, are often hesitant to make an offer because they fear something is wrong with the home. Often homes on the market for a long time eventually sell for less than fair market value.

80% of the marketing of your home is done the day we decide at what price to list your home. If you are unwilling to list your home at or just below the current market value, you are better served to not put it on the market at all.

 

What’s Going on With the Market

I’m hearing from people that they think the real estate market may be slowing down. While August showed some slowing, that’s a typical trend in the region. Median sales price for single family homes was down 1.4% in August but is still up 18% from 12 months ago. And for condos, median price was up 3.1% from July and 10.7% from August of last year.

Shortage of inventory continues to drive the market. With large numbers of people moving to Seattle and a pent up desire to buy from local renters, the demand far outweighs the availability of properties. In fact, a listing I have that is now pending had multiple offers and the price escalated well above list price. (Until it closes I cannot disclose more.)

We typically see an increase in activity in September and early signs are supporting increased activity.

It’s a great time to buy or sell a home or condo. Give me an email or call (206-790-0081) to talk about your needs.

Attention Seattle Rental Property Owners

 

 

 

 

 

The City of Seattle continues to increase the number of rules and regulations that impact your options as a rental property owner.

These regulations include:

  • The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance requires landlords to register all rental housing units in Seattle, from single-family houses to large apartment buildings. The ordinance requires that all registered rental properties be inspected at least once every 10 years. This ordinance covers any rental property including AirBnB’s and ADUs.
  • Move-In Charges: There are new security, pet deposit, and move-in fee limits. Landlords must allow an installment plan to pay these fees. The total amount of all these deposits cannot exceed the amount of one month’s rent.
  • Landlords are now prohibited from discriminating against a prospective tenant’s income, as long as the source of income is legal.
  • The first come, first served rule requires that landlords must accept the first qualified applicant.
  • And most recently, the Seattle City Council approved an ordinance that will prohibit landlords from screening tenants based on their criminal records.

For more detailed information and links to the specific rule changes, read my blog at www.jamieflaxman.com.

Some investment property owners in Seattle no longer feel that the benefits of owning a rental property outweigh the restrictions that the City has placed on landlord rights. If you are considering selling your investment property, let’s talk. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email me. Seattle is in a real estate market that heavily favors the seller, resulting in quick sales and top dollar for most Seattle homes.

 

 

 

As Summer Winds Down

Summer doesn’t end until September 21st, but for many, summer ends with Labor Day (this year September 4th). With kids heading back to school and summer vacations over, the real estate market usually sees an uptick in September. More listings come on the market so it’s a great month to buy a home. And if you’re on the edge about selling, we should get your home on the market soon before the market slows down for winter.

To talk about your real estate needs, give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or an email to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.