Category Archives: buying a home

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.

The Internet Can’t Replace Your Agent

We live in the information age; the Internet offers advice on every topic and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information – it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.

The truth is your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transactions.

Your real estate agent is a local professional. They will start by presenting themselves to the other agent as someone who will work with them to see the transaction through to a successful conclusion. They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as: lenders, title reps, escrow officers, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors, and handymen, among others.

Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying process. They negotiate on your behalf – armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs, and terms. They will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the condition and neighborhood. They will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies.

The Internet offers lots of great information, but the most important step you can take when buying a new home is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.

Contact me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com or 206-790-0081 to discuss how I can help you with the real estate transactions.

On-Line Security

I recently have had several credit cards compromised. On one, there were fraudulent charges. On another, someone called in to the credit card company and was able to be approved as an additional authorized user and was sent a credit card. This last one has scared me. The person who called in knew enough about me to convince the person at the bank that they were me. They knew my social security number (or at least last 4 digits) and my birthday.

So much information is online – someone could probably figure out my best friend’s name (from Facebook), where I was born (by searching public records), what high school I went to (again from Facebook), my mother’s maiden name (also in public records), and a host of other words I would use in security questions.

Here’s what I’m doing to protect myself.

  • Changing my user name and password on all websites
  • Making up a new BFF
  • Talking to the credit bureaus about protecting my ID
  • Making sure my privacy settings on Facebook and other social media sites are at the highest level possible
  • Purchasing a new wallet with RFID protection

If you have other ideas of things I or others can do, please let me know.

When you go to buy a home, your credit is critically important, don’t let it get messed up by people affecting your accounts. If you’d like further information, please call me a (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

How Much Is My Home Worth

While we may have seen some lower prices in 2018, the following chart shows that we have had significant appreciation in the housing market in Seattle, King County, and Snohomish County since 2006. In King County prices have appreciated approximately 70%, Seattle 80%, and Snohomish County 51%. If you’d like to know appreciation rates for your community or would like a market analysis of your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

The Danger of Waiting

Affordability is one of the major factors driving our real estate market. We saw an increase in interest rates in 2018 from around 4.15% in January to a high of nearly 5% in November and with the year ending around 4.55%. We expect that interest rates could reach 5.75% in 2019. What does this mean if you are considering buying a home (or selling and buying a new home)?

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. Today your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. If rates rise as expected in 2019, the payment later this year at 5.5% would be $3,180, or $343/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $625,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 5% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $735,000 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. (The chart above shows you various principal and interest payments at different interest rates. However, you should talk with a lender to verify the accuracy of these numbers. I have several wonderful lenders who would be happy to speak with you.)

Down Payments – How Much Do You Really Need?

Gone are the days when anyone could buy a home with just a promise and signature. No documentation loans allowed virtually anyone to buy a house with no money down with just a simple credit check. After the mortgage meltdown, this all changed. Lenders tightened guidelines and down payments were back.

But how much do you actually need? Must you always find 20% down? The answer might surprise you; there are many ways to buy a home with less than 20% down payment.

  • 0% Down – There are still two loan programs which allow one to buy a home for no-down payment; the VA loan and the USDA loan. The VA loan requires the borrower to be a qualified service person or veteran and the USDA loan is for certain areas under the Department of Agriculture.
  • 5% Down – Conventional loans with loan limits can allow one to buy a home with as little as 5% down. These loans do have PMI (Private mortgage insurance) which can be eliminated when the loan amount falls below the 20% threshold.
  • 3 ½ % Down – FHA offers first time home buyers a good home loan for only 3.5% downpayment. Again these loans have loan limits and PMI but offer a faster entry into the housing market. Buying a home doesn’t always mean 20% loan. If you’re considering buying a new home, talk to your lender about your options.

If you’re thinking of buying, give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com. Let’s talk about your needs. I can also refer you to excellent local mortgage lenders.

Selling Your Home in the Winter

Many prospective sellers feel they should wait for spring to sell their home. They feel this way because of the seasonal downturn in the market and because homes don’t look as good without exterior flowers and plants and the general grayness of our part of the country. However, there are several good reasons to list your home during the winter. The most serious buyers will still be out there – those that need to buy because of job relocation or need different space. And inventory is at it’s lowest, giving buyers fewer choices, so your home will stand out more. Mortgage rates are increasing, so buyers may have greater buying power earlier in the year.

To sell your home in the winter, there are some key things to do. Keep your home warm and cozy – buyers need to be comfortable when they come in the house and the warmer it is, the more likely they’ll stay longer. Leave lights on and shades open to keep the home bright. Make sure the yard stays neat and the roof is clean. Stage the home and have professional photographs that show off the home at its best.

Thinking about listing your home this winter or spring. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email to discuss a complimentary market analysis and marketing plan for your home.

What a Cutie!

 

 

 

 

What a cutie! Adorable 2-bedroom rambler in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood is now on the market for $575,000.

My colleague Andrea Fjortoft and I invite you to join us at one of three open houses or to check out the listing online.

Imagine the possibilities here – great condo alternative or bring your contractor to discuss options for building up or remodeling. This home offers 2 large bedrooms, one with an office area and large walk-in closet, and a full bath. Large living and dining rooms and the kitchen has a breakfast bar. Tons of natural light. Terraced, fully-fenced backyard including a pear tree and room for outdoor activities. Very quiet street.  Easy access to I-5, Northgate transit center, University of Washington, Sand Point, and future Northgate and Roosevelt light rail stations.

Quick Facts:

  • 2 bedroom, 1 full bathroom
  • 1,110 sq. ft.
  • 5,413 sq. ft. lot
  • Built in 1941
  • One car attached garage
  • Forced air gas heat
  • 2018 property taxes of $4,720

Open House Schedule:

  • Wednesday, October 10, 10am-Noon (hosted by Jamie and Andrea)
  • Saturday, October 13, Noon-3:00pm (hosted by Andrea)
  • Sunday, October 14, 1:00-4:00pm (hosted by Jamie)

Check out all the photos.

Download a flyer.

Contact us for a private tour or for more information:

Jamie Flaxman, Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com, 206-790-0081

Andrea Fjortoft, Andrea@FjortoftHomes.com, 206-369-6982

 

 

 

Market Update

The Puget Sound area real estate market has shown a shift over the past few months, and we’re moving toward what is considered a balanced market. A balanced market is one that does not favor the buyer or the seller and is the healthiest possible situation. Typically, a balanced market is considered one with 4 to 6 months of inventory; less than that favors the seller, more than that favors the buyer. Here are some selected inventory levels for September:

Inventory in Months King County Seattle Snohomish County Edmonds
Single Family Homes 3.0 2.9 2.4 2.8
Condos 2.9 3.9 1.7 1.3

Moving toward a balanced market is a good trend. It puts both buyers and sellers on equal footing. Mike Grady, COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, states “buyers are at long last now seeing properties that stay on the market longer. Listings that are priced appropriately, and not based on the feverish market we saw just a few months ago are still selling quickly, and home prices are still showing 8 percent appreciation year-over-year, more than double the rate of inflation.”

What does this mean to you if you’re considering selling your home? Homes are selling if they are priced properly. More than ever it means you need an experienced REALTOR who will provide you with a detailed pricing analysis based on what is happening in today’s market, not on sales from even 3 or 6 months ago. And automated values are even less reliable than they have been because they may not reflect what is happening today. When I work with a seller, I give you a detailed report and recommendation and update this report frequently to adjust for market change.

If you’re a buyer, this is a fabulous time to get in the market. With prices stabilizing and interest rates increasing, waiting might be not be a good idea. What you can afford today might be less than what you can afford next year. I can provide you with recommendations of lenders who can help you determine what your buying power is. Additionally, with the market becoming more balanced, the need for pre-inspections and waiving of contingencies is passing.

I’d love to talk with you about the market in your neighborhood and why now might be the time for you to buy or sell. Give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com to set up a time to chat.