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Don’t Listen to the Media!

“Is the housing market ready for a crash?”

“Will I ever be able to afford a house?”

“Zillow says my house is worth $________.”

These are headlines that both the Seattle and national media are spreading. Here’s the reality:

Housing prices are appreciating at record rates. However, if we go back to 2007, when the market was at it’s peak before the crash, prices have increased 52% – that comes out to 5% a year appreciation over the 10 years.

Buying a home is within reach for many. The media often says it’s hard to get a mortgage, but that’s not the reality. The two most important factors for getting a mortgage are your credit score and the amount of debt you have. Only a lender can tell you if you qualify or not.

The “Zestimate” from Zillow is not an accurate representation of what your home will sell for. Zillow is an automated valuation, there are other companies who provide similar numbers. Because it’s automated, the algorithm has no idea of the special features of a home, the quality of the finishes or view, and any updates that have been done without permits. Even Zillow admits that their numbers are not accurate – the last time I looked Zillow said their Zestimates typically are off 10-20%.

So didn’t listen to the media! Talk to a real estate professional to get your questions answered. You can reach me at 206-790-0081 or mailto:jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

 

Organizing Your Listing and Move

The process of selling your home and moving can be overwhelming. So much to do, not enough hours in the day. For my clients, I try to make this process as easy as possible. I will create a calendar for you, from the date you decide to sell until your home closes. It’s color coded and you can add whatever you like to it.

Making lists is also very helpful. Perhaps you could make a list of each room of your house and then plan to clean out and pack one room a week (which you can then put on your calendar). Planning to hold a garage sale? Add that to the calendar as well.

In addition, I have a list of vendors who can help you with almost anything, from taking stuff to the dump to cleaning your house to packing your boxes.

Give me a text/call at 206-790-0081 or email so we can talk about your needs.

Up, Up, and Up

Seattle area home prices continue to increase on a monthly basis. In Seattle for single family homes, median sales prices in June were up 2.1% from May and 13.1% from June of last year. The number of new listings is continuing to improve, but with so many buyers in the market, they are selling even faster than they have been, with an average days on market of 12. Anecdotally, we’re hearing that while multiple offers are still the norm, they are not as crazy as they have been.

With more inventory, buyers it’s a great time to get in the market. And for sellers, it’s still the right time to sell. We have no crystal ball of what the market will be like in 3 or 6 months or next year. Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email to discuss your real estate needs.

Working with Contractors: Lessons Learned

As homeowners, we often hire contractors to make repairs or updates to our properties. I have generally had very good experiences with the people I have hired. However, I am currently having an issue with a contractor I hired to repair a front porch.

The house has a small concrete front porch and steps. When purchased, it was apparent to both myself and the home inspector that the front porch lacked support underneath and that the porch was crumbling. I had 2 reputable companies come out to give me bids to install slurry under the porch. The bids from both companies were similar in price so I went with the company that I felt better about.

I was traveling when the work was done so I did not inspect it in person until 2 weeks later. It didn’t look right to me but the company said it was so I paid the bill. That was my first mistake – I should have listened to my gut and not paid the bill.

My general contractors began working at the house at about the same time and they mentioned to me that the slurry did not look right. I contacted the slurry company again and they said it was done correctly. My general contractors then showed me that the slurry had never hardened, it was mud that they could put their hand into.

I contacted the company again and this time received no response. I sent them another email last week giving them 48 hours to respond or I would take further action. They did not. Since that time, I have disputed the charge with my credit card company, filed a complaint with Washington State, and another complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I have also contacted the competing company to ask them to take a look at the work as well as asking the home inspector to go back and take a look. This has been a lot of work and stress.

Lessons learned:

  • Verify the work has been done to your satisfaction before paying the bill (or final bill).
  • Listen to your instinct.
  • Get second opinions.

Giving Back

I love helping people find the home of their dreams and I love helping people sell their homes to move on to the next stage of their lives. Although I miss working with the many wonderful non-profit groups I used to work for, I have been able to combine my successful real estate business with my passion for philanthropy—every sale I close results in a charitable contribution—either through a community partnership with a non-profit or a direct contribution I make. I also volunteer for a host of groups including FamilyWorks in Wallingford.

I am looking to grow my business this year, so that I can support even more charitable causes. You can help me out with this goal by sending people my way who are interested in buying or selling real estate. Whether it’s a vacation home on Whidbey, a condo downtown, or a house in Bellevue, I can help your friends and family with their real estate needs. Through the Coldwell Banker network, I am also able to help with real estate purchases and sales anywhere in the U.S. and most international locations.

For every closed transaction this year, I will make a donation of $500 to a local non-profit organization. I also have community partnerships with FamilyWorks, Wallingford Senior Center, Wallingford Boys & Girls Club, and the Central Area Senior Center. Through these partnerships, Coldwell Banker Bain and I donate 10% of our side of the commission to the partner organization. Most recently, we donated $2,685 to FamilyWorks, from Mark & Kat’s purchase of a home in the Roosevelt area of Seattle.

I appreciate all the referrals I receive and am happy to reciprocate by referring people to you as well. I look forward to offering you and your friends/family/colleagues these services, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your REALTOR®.

What’s Going On With the Market

I was in Iceland for 2 weeks and while I was gone, a slight shift occurred in the market. Inventory increased – in the city of Seattle the number of new listings of single family homes in May increased nearly 30% over April 2017 and nearly 6% over May 2016. This is great news for buyers who have become very frustrated with the lack of available homes for purchase.

Sellers, it’s not time to worry. There’s still a significant shortage of inventory compared to the demand.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with your real estate needs.

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.