Category Archives: buyers

Holiday Real Estate Buying and Selling Guide

If you’ve always thought that December is a bad time to buy or sell real estate, you might be surprised!  While most people are crowding the malls looking for the perfect Christmas gift, the smartest buyers know that now is one of the best times to find their dream home and the smartest sellers are taking advantage of less competition in the market.
If you are a buyer looking for something specific or with a long list of needs you should continue your search during the holidays. Real estate doesn’t stop just because there are wreaths on the front door as there are constantly new listings coming on the market. Savvy buyers continue their search because you never know when that “just right” home becomes available. With fewer competing buyers out there making offers the chances of landing the home of their dreams increases dramatically.
The number of available listings on the market traditionally falls in December.  Sellers who have been actively listed usually request that their homes come off the market so that they don’t have to show them during the holidays as schedules can be problematic during this time. Also, many agents are winding down their business in December and are not adding listing to their books.  Many agents even advise against listing during this time, based on false assumptions about the holiday season. 
However, these two factors allow for a fantastic opportunity to dominate the market during December.  As competition diminishes for both buyers and sellers, you end up one of the chief suppliers, or consumers, of the available product. 
What a perfect marriage of smart buyers and smart sellers!
December is not just an incredible time to buy and sell real estate, but also to negotiate.  Sellers who have been sitting on the market for months may be more willing to listen to offers they may have passed over during the summer and fall. There is something about having affairs settled by the new year that can be very attractive and can encourage sellers to put pen to paper.
December is also a great month for getting one’s tax situation settled.  Some people must sell by December 31 due to financial reasons.  These people can be willing to do amazing things with the price of their home during December if you are able to close prior to December 31.  If you’re a buyer, you should be out looking as soon as possible and offering a quick close.
Mortgage and title companies may even be more willing to jump through hoops to get your deal closed to bring up their numbers for the month and even the year!

If you’re serious and smart about buying or selling real estate, can be loaded with opportunities. For statistical data on homes that sold in your neighborhood last December or that are available now, just give me a call at 206-790-0081 or send an email to jamieflaxman@cbbain.com.  

Shopping for a Home? Check the Roof!

Replacing a roof can be one of the most expensive repairs a homeowner can face. However, most homeowners rarely traverse their own roofs, let alone know the warning signs for when a roof is in  trouble resulting in leaks which can affect the support structure, insulation, drywall, and even furnishings and finishes within the home itself. This is why it is crucial to have a home inspector do a thorough roof inspection before a home is purchased. Not only will you learn about the pros and cons about the particular type of roof you have, but you can also ask questions about the type of ongoing maintenance you should plan for.
Below are the most common types of roofs and the minimum recommended maintenance required which includes removing debris among other things. Of course, your particular roof may require additional maintenance depending on the type of material and your environment.  

Shake –these are usually rectangles of wood that overlap. The life expectancy of a shake roof is usually about 30 years and up depending on the materials. Homeowners should have leaves and debris removed every year and an anti-moss agent applied and then maintained every few years to wash off any built up moss or mildew and then re-oiling if recommended for the type of material.
Asphalt Shingles – This is most common type of roofing material in our country due to its high durability and low cost. This type of roof usually lasts between 20-30 years depending on the material. Should be maintained by removing debris and applying an anti-moss agent on a regular basis.   

Metal – Metal roofs can last up to 70 years depending on the materials. Debris should be removed on a regular basis and inspected every few years to make sure no repairs are required.

Slate – Depending on where the slate was quarried, a slate roof can last up to 200 years! As the slate naturally flakes, the roof deteriorates. Slate roofs should be inspected every few years or after heavy weather both on the outside as well as the inside for water leakage, and individual slate pieces which have deteriorated should be replaced.

Tile – Tile has been the roofing material of choice for Asia, Europe, and South America for hundreds of years and with regular maintenance, can last several hundred years. Inspect regularly, looking for chipped or cracked tiles and replace. Have a professional wash or brush once a year depending on where you live. Seal the roof every few years as recommended by your roof repair company.  


There are also a wide number of other materials available on the market today from interlocking composites to copper and more! And different types of roofing can impact resale value. 

Beware of Brokers Promising a High Sales Price

You know the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? Homeowners, take heed!  This theory also applies to “pie in the sky” price ranges some real estate agents may recommend when discussing an impending home sale with a seller.
When it is time for a homeowner to sell their home, he or she may decide to interview several real estate agents to learn the different types of services they offer before making a hiring decision.  And although services such as photography and property marketing may be discussed, the seller often makes their decision based on where the agent recommends the property should be priced. This could be a monumental mistake. 
An agent may try to “buy” a seller’s listing by agreeing to an unrealistic price up front and hoping for an aggressive price reduction later. Alternatively, I often see situations in which the agent doesn’t know how to tell a seller that their home is not worth as much as the seller might think it is, not wanting to hurt their feelings. In either case, that is not the kind of agent you want representing you and your home. 
A good agent knows their numbers and they have a home selling system that they follow which gets results. An effective agent does not simply name a random price on the property that the seller gets excited but that can’t get the property sold. 
So remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Ultimately the home price should be in line with what other similar properties are on the market for so it will sell quickly and get top dollar.

Wondering where your home value stands in relation to the market? I would love to share that information with you. Just give me a call! 206-790-0081 or send me an email to jamieflaxman@cbbain.com and I will be happy to put together a report. 

Market Update

September Activity for the City of Seattle
September tested the housing market’s resilience around Western Washington with fluctuating mortgage rates, record-setting rains, and persistent inventory shortages in some areas. By month’s end, however, both pending and closed sales outgained the same period a year ago, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Prices also increased compared to 12 months ago, but fell slightly from the previous month. Year-to-date figures through nine months show prices for homes and condominiums that have sold in the 21 counties served by the MLS are up 12 percent from a year ago.
Northwest MLS director John Deely said the Seattle market shows no signs of slowing down and house-hunters seem undaunted by soggy weather. “Buyers continue to flood open houses and multiple offers rain down on competitively priced properties,” he commented.
Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said one newly listed home had 25 potential buyers show up at a midweek brokers open house to get a first glimpse at it. “Multiple offers are still prevalent,” he said, citing an example of one appropriately priced listing receiving 11 offers, and ultimately drew a bid of more than 20 percent above list price. Other new listings in Seattle are experiencing similar activity, according to Deely. “Buyers with all cash have decreased and financed offers now outpace cash offers,” he stated. (Note to reader – The listing that John Deely is referring to is my listing on Queen Anne. John is my Principal Managing Broker.)
MLS figures show mixed activity across its service area:
  • September’s volume of new listings increased nearly 17 percent compared to a year ago, pushing the total number of active listings slightly ahead of 12 months ago (up 2.1 percent). However, of the 21 counties the MLS serves, 11 reported having fewer listings than a year ago.
  • Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) rose 4.6 percent area-wide; 14 counties had double-digit gains, while three counties reported declines.
  • Closed sales for September increased 21.2 percent year-over-year, rising from 5,536 to 6,711.
  • While selling prices area-wide are up 8.7 percent from a year ago, prices were below year-ago figures in five counties. Conversely, seven counties notched double-digit gains. The area-wide median price for last month’s closed sales was $278,000, up 8.7 percent from the year-ago figure of $255,745, but $5,000 less (down about 1.8 percent) from August.
  • Prices on closed sales of single family homes (excluding condos) rose 8.2 percent, while condo prices surged 12.3 percent.

“We are currently experiencing a mini power surge of sales activity, the third such event this year,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He attributes the bursts to interest rates. “With interest rates suddenly coming off their peak for the year, we’re having another surge of activity, which is keeping the inventory at the shortage level in both King and Snohomish counties.”
MLS figures show King County has less than two months of supply (1.95 months). Snohomish County is slightly better at 2.32 months. System-wide, there is 3.32 months of supply, well below the level of 4-to-6-months that is generally accepted as an indication of a balanced market.
In Kitsap County, where there is a more balanced market (4.3 months of supply, up from 3.4 months in August), the pace of sales and price appreciation are both moderating. Well-priced properties are still drawing considerable activity.

“As is typical at this time of year, September’s pace slows a bit compared to August as families focus on back to school and all the activities that go along with that,” observed Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott in Poulsbo.

“We continue to see buyers who are negotiating against several other buyers on a house they like,” said Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. He noted well priced homes are drawing offers in the first few weeks of being listed, while listings that are getting no showings most likely mean they’re at least 5 percent high on pricing. “Homes that are priced correctly will receive showings and offers,” he emphasized.
Northwest MLS director George Moorhead, the branch manager at Bentley Properties in Bothell, said market activity “waned just a bit” towards the end of August and during September, a pattern he said is normal with students going back to school and last-minute vacations. He expects interest rates will climb to 5 percent by summer 2014, and says the big message is “If you want to capitalize on the current lower interest rates, don’t delay any longer.”
City of Seattle, Median Home Prices

What Happened to the Curtains?

Do the curtains stay?

Whether you are a buyer or seller, there may come a time when you are either touring a home or about to sell one when you look around and wonder if that amenity should come with the house or not. For example, it may seem logical that items such as curtains which were specially made for the room and match the carpet, chandeliers, certain appliances, or even barstools that were custom made should stay with the house. However, it all comes down to what the buyer and seller specify in the purchase and sale agreement.

Listing agents need to point all of the ambiguous items out during the tour with the seller and determine which the seller is willing to part with or include in the listing. If a seller is willing to include all the high-end chandeliers, that can become a strong selling point – if the buyer wants them.

If a buyer doesn’t want certain items that the sellers intended to leave behind (such as outside play equipment, hot tubs, freezers, etc), then it is important to include in the contract that those items are to be removed by the seller – or else the buyer may be surprised at the walk-through if they thought they would travel with the seller.

However, fixtures that are attached, such as fountains that are cemented in, doors, etc are generally thought of as part of the home. But, if you see a stained glass window that is inset to a standard window, it is best to specify whether it is staying or going.

The key is to include everything in the contract – that the seller intends to leave and what the buyer wants. Negotiation can happen from there. Never assume that something is staying…or going.