Category Archives: buying a home

Just Sold

One of the things I love most about my job is helping first-time home buyers find their dream home. Last week Sarah and Mike closed on their dream house, a rambler in Shoreline with mid-century features in the living room and an incredible backyard.

We looked at countless condos, townhomes, and single family homes. They lost out on 3 other offers. One of the things I do when I’m out with buyers is watch their non-verbal responses to a property. When Sarah and Mike walked into this one, I saw a response I hadn’t seen previously – of joy and relaxation – and I knew we had found the home for them.

This home did not have an offer review date and had only been on the market for 3 days. Time to move quickly. We wrote an offer above list price with an inspection contingency (which was great because they had already paid for a couple pre-inspections where they didn’t get the house). The lender quickly sent me a pre-approval letter. And voila, Sarah and Mike got the house.

Congratulations to the new homeowners! May you have years and years of joy in your new home.

The American Dream

As we begin this week where we celebrate America’s birthday, I thought I’d write about Home Ownership being part of the American Dream. For as long as I can remember, I have heard that phrase. But what does it mean.

From a CNN piece from last year: “While it has no official definition, the American Dream has always been the notion that citizens of the United States can better their lot in life through hard work.
That encompasses the idea that hard-working kids of hard-working parents would have a better life than the previous generation, and homeownership has generally been considered part of that.”

From 2006 to 2017 the national home ownership rate dropped from 69 to 64 percent. CNN states, “In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 72% of renters said they would like to buy a house at some point. About two-thirds of renters in the same survey (65%) said they currently rent as a result of circumstances, compared with 32% who said they rent as a matter of choice. When asked about the specific reasons why they rent, a majority of renters, especially nonwhites, cited financial reasons.”

Here are historical home ownership rates from the US Census Bureau. As you can see, it appears the number is increasing in 2018, but the rate is still below that of the 1990’s.

If you’re currently a renter and would like to become a homeowner, let’s talk. There are loan programs available for people with limited cash down as well as downpayment assistance programs for those with lower incomes.

Building Community. One Home at a Time.

You may have seen my tagline before – Building Community. One Home at a Time – and have wondered what does that actually mean.

My job or more specifically, my purpose in life through my job, is to help people with their housing needs, while enhancing and improving the quality of our community. I began my professional career in 1985 as a social worker with a similar purpose, and have incorporated that value into my real estate business. At the core of who I am I have 4 values:

  1. integrity and honesty
  2. social responsibility, charitable giving, and volunteerism
  3. service to the customer above all else
  4. excellence in reputation

I am implement these values in a host of ways. My dedication to each of my clients means that I focus on helping you achieve your goals and advise you on what’s in your best interest, not my best interest. My clients have given me stellar reviews because of my drive, commitment, and focus on helping them with their housing needs, all with the highest level of integrity and ethics.

I also strive to make a difference in our community. I volunteer with numerous organizations and every closed sale results in a charitable contribution.

My reputation is important to me, and I hope that as a result of your past experience working with me or with the impression I have given you, that you would trust me to help you, your family, your friends, and your colleagues with their real estate needs. I appreciate your sharing my contact information with others and letting me know how I can help.

There are many ways to learn more and to reach out to me:

6th Time is the Charm

I met Steven and Lauren back in January at an open house. They were looking to buy their first home. Steven is an architect, so they wanted to buy a home that needed some work, to create their dream spaces.

By the end of March Steven and Lauren had their financing lined up. Not only were they pre-approved, their lender had put them through underwriting. With 20% down and strong financing, they were the ideal buyer.

But we’re in a competitive market, so getting a house is more than just having all your ducks in a row.

Their first offer was on a beautiful Columbia City home in need of some updates. The sellers received 8 offers and it sold for 25% above list price and beyond Steven and Lauren’s maximum budget. Their 2nd offer was on an incredible mid-century modern in Beacon Hill that was in need of a studs down remodel; Steven and Lauren weren’t willing to pay list price because of the amount of work needed, and they didn’t get that home either.

Next up was a view property in Seward Park, also in need of extensive remodeling. That one sold for $100,000 over list price. They moved on to a home near Alki Beach that also needed extensive work; that one went had 27 offers and went for 33% above list price.

As you can imagine Steven and Lauren were becoming pretty frustrated at this point. All they wanted was a place to call home. Their first anniversary was a little over a week away and they decided that for a present for themselves, they were going to get a house. They toured another 25 homes or so, and found 5 they really liked. They ranked them by offer review dates and decided to do an offer a day until they got one. Offer #5, also in West Seattle, wasn’t accepted either.

It’s now May 21st and their anniversary is just days away. Offer #6 is submitted, and yes, they got a house! Persistence paid off. They took some risks, waiving both their financing and inspection contingencies, and that made a difference. That, and they stretched to their maximum. The sale closed last week and they got their  anniversary present and dream house.

In 2018 I’m donating $500 to the non-profit of the client’s choice in honor of their closed transaction. Steven and Lauren chose for their $500 to go to Habitat for Humanity Seattle/King County. Their purchase of a new home will help another family get into their own home.

Congratulations Steven and Lauren (and Roxy, their dog), you’re going to love living in West Seattle near the Junction.

Most Homes Sell At or Above List Price

Hot off the press, here are some highlights of the May housing market:

  • The median sales price for a single family home in Seattle in May was $802,000. For condos it was $529,500. Combined, we saw a 17.3% increase in the median sales price from May 2017.
  • Inventory improved in May and for the first time in a long time, we have more than 1 months supply of housing (1.1 at the end of May). There’s still a long way to go to get this to the 4-6 months necessary for a balanced market.

The most impressive statistic for May is this one – 84% of properties sold at or above list price! (26% sold at list, 58% above.) That tells us that it is likely that 6 out of 10 listings received multiple offers.

If you’re a seller, it’s the time to sell. If inventory continues to increase, we may start seeing smaller increases in sales prices and less competition. If you’re a buyer,  let’s get you into a home.

Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com and let’s talk about your real estate needs.

Interest Rates are Rising

If you’re thinking of buying a property, you should move forward with your plans now. According to one lender I work with, last week she saw an increase in interest rates every day. While most of us have been predicting that rates would hit 5% by the end of year, we have already reached (and exceeded) that percentage.

As interest rates increase, your buying power decreases. Let’s say your lender has qualified you for a home purchase of $700,000 with 20% down. A month ago your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. At 5% that payment would be $3,006, or $169/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $675,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 7% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $750,000 by year end. By waiting, you are likely to decrease the amount you can pay for a home.

If you’re considering buying a property this year, the time to move is now. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com so we can talk about your plans and needs.

 

How Many Offers Does it Take?!

It’s a tough market out there for buyers. With demand for housing seriously outweighing supply, buyers are competing on most listings, and losing out on many.

The most offers I’ve had to write for a client was 2 years ago, when it took 8. I’ve heard of buyers who have submitted in the double digits.

Right now I have 2 sets of buyers who are on the offer roller coaster. One set has submitted 4. The other 2 (and we’re waiting to hear on the 2nd). It’s frustrating. You find a house you love and want to buy, but end up competing with 26 other offers (yes, last week buyer set 1 was one of 27 offers). You move on, but then you go through it again. What to do? Here are some tips I offer to buyers:

  • Know the numbers. You know what your maximum you can spend is. But also know the market numbers. If homes are selling 10-20% above list price, you should be looking at properties listed 10-20% below your maximum.
  • Have your financing lined up, and make sure your lender has taken you all the way through underwriting (except for a property address). Have a local lender who is available on the weekends.
  • Look at homes that have been on the market for more than 10 days. These are less likely to receive multiple offers. In this case, you might be able to look at homes at or slightly above your maximum as you might be able to get an offer accepted below list price.
  • Think about what you can compromise on. Could you go a few miles farther out? Is having a garage more important than getting a house? Don’t restrict yourself to fenced yards, you could put a fence in yourself.

For more ideas on how to compete or to talk about the real estate market, please call/text me at 206-790-0081 or email me.

April Inventory Report

Spring is here and there are more homes coming on the market!!! While we did see an increase in listings in April over April 2017, we still have a severe shortage of properties for sale. If you’re considering selling, now is the time to talk. Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email and find out what your home is worth today.

Home Buying Class

This Thursday, April 26th, Julia Eaton of Axia Home Loans, and I will be teaching a class on learning to buy a home. Topics include: steps in the home purchase process; understanding today’s real estate market; options for financing your purchase including how to obtain a mortgage; and why it might be in your best interest to buy sooner rather than later.

Thursday, April 26, 2018, 6:00-8:00pm at the Phinney Neighborhood Association, Blue Building, Room 3

To reserve your space or with questions, please email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com or call/text 206-790-0081.

Moving Tips

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to be putting together a handout on moving tips. There are so many steps to moving besides packing the boxes, from changes of address to preparing your new home for your pets.

This week I’m going to share the experience of a friend who moved recently. Don’t pack your important documents in a box – instead carry them with you!

This friend finished her move on a Saturday and then realized she was missing some boxes. She looked everywhere including driving back to her old place and could not find those boxes anywhere. The missing boxes included copies of her tax returns and boxes of checks, among other things. She was freaking out because if someone took her boxes, they might be able to steal her identity. Important documents such as credit cards, checks, financial records, passports, wills, etc. should be carried with you for the move, not placed in the truck.

My friend got lucky, someone found her boxes and put them in a safe place. She got them back unopened, after having a sleepless Saturday night.

Moral of the Story: Important documents such as credit cards, checks, financial records, passports, wills, etc. should be carried with you for the move, not placed in the truck. Also, inventory your boxes so you know how many went into the truck and how many came out.

Do you have a moving tip or story to share? Email it to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com and it might make the Moving Tips Handout or show up on the Blog.