Category Archives: Seattle

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.

Basements – Things to Watch for When Buying or Selling

Basements can be amazing bonus spaces, but they can also harbor cracks, leaks, mold, and other issues since they are in constant contact with the ground. Since not all homes have basements, there can be concerns and uncertainty about what it takes to buy a home with one and maintain it. Buyers should have a basement thoroughly inspected before purchase. Sellers, it behooves you to do as much cleanup as possible to allow for a detailed inspection and consider fixing any challenges that your basement poses such as leaks and drainage issues before putting your home on the market.

Because basements often house a home’s main systems including the furnace and hot water heater, preventing disaster through preventative repairs and maintenance is extremely important since challenges with these units can affect the rest of the home.  Cracks in the foundation that are not repaired can also cause major damage to the home over time. Furthermore, mold can cause major health issues. Here are some red flags to look for whether buying, selling, or maintaining:

  • Standing water outside of the home and around the basement exterior – If there is standing water, this could be a sign of poor drainage which could make its way into the basement. One fix is making sure gutters and downspouts that divert water away from the house are clear and in good working order. Gravel and french drains may also be utilized to improve drainage. Standing water will have a tendency to seep through the walls, cause cracks, and the basement will have a moisture problem.
  • Damp musty smell – If a basement smells musty, it is usually due to excess water and humidity. Whether that has turned into mold, is left over from a flood, or is due to moisture hiding in cracks in the foundation and walls, this is something to investigate. If you are buying, keep your eyes open for dehumidifiers, ozone machines, or deodorizers – this could be a sign of a lingering moisture problem. Also check any carpet for dampness.
  • Recent remodeling – A recent remodel may be an improvement to the space, but it also might have been done to fix an issue that might come up again. One thing you can do is check closets and around the furnace or water heater for signs of water damage in the wood framing. Also make sure permits were issued for any work completed and the improvements are noted in the tax records.
  • Previous flooding claims – When you apply for homeowners insurance, previous claims should be tied to the property address. You can learn about problems severe enough to have caused a claim.

Don’t let this list scare you if you have been coveting an extra space or will be selling a home with a basement. Use this list as a great starting point for a discussion with your inspector if you are buying and a list of things to address before selling. Questions? Give me a call or text: (206) 790-0081 or email: jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

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Your Outdoor Space May Be Just the Ticket to Sell Your Home!

Outdoor spaces are highly desired by home buyers young and old. Whether it is a condo with private or communal decks, a yard with a few square feet of grass, or an extensive garden with a fire pit, outdoor spaces have evolved from the sprawling lawns with fences that dominated the landscape not so many years ago. Today’s homeowners are creating rooms and spaces that encourage people to come out, relax, and bring a glass of lemonade.

According to American Institute of Architects Chief Economist Kermit Baker, “Outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must-have items for homeowners.” According to the Pulte Group Home Index Survey, 63% of young adults (age 18-34) say that outdoor living spaces and decks are “extremely important” or “very important” when choosing a home.

If you have been evaluating your home’s outdoor space potential and are ready to make some improvements, consider the following:

  1. The flow from the inside to the outside – Ideally you want this as seamless as possible so the outside beckons you to come on out! Glass folding door/walls are the newest rage, but if that is too costly, then looking at more ways to let in more light and the view by changing walls into windows is the way to go.
  2. Creating rooms – Through seating, places to put down drinks and books, plants, and even rugs to define spaces, create a sense of comfort by defining different spaces to relax. Put an occasional table next to a porch swing. Add additional places for people to perch next to a couch. Create spaces to socialize, entertain, and relax!
  3. Getting cozy – Remember when high outdoor furniture fashion was a metal fold-up chair or porch swing with a plastic cushion? Today’s outdoor furniture includes robust couches, coffee tables, and chairs with ample weather-resistant cushions.
  4. Checking out the lighting – Outdoor lighting can really set the mood for any occasion! Of course, hard-wired lights are more controllable and output consistently, but solar lights have come a long way and installation is a snap! Lighting in the garden, around seating areas, and highlighting certain garden features can have big impact!
  5. Power! – If you are going to be adding hardwired lighting, why not add some power outlets while you are at it? This allows you to do things like charge your phone and work on your computer while lounging.
  6. Music – Outdoor speakers that are hooked into a central sound system can also set the mood. Speakers may be hidden or in plain view, but disguised as rocks.
  7. The Fun! – Now for the extras! What kind of recreation do you want? A tree house? A fire pit? Horseshoes? A place for the pup to play?

Of course, if you are just creating outdoor spaces to appeal to a wider range of home buyers, you should make different choices than if you are actually planning on enjoying your space for several years to come. If you would like help with either, please give me a call or text: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to: jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

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Wallingford 1911 Bungalow

4010 1st Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105, Listed at $740,000

I’m excited to announce my latest listing, a wonderful 1911 bungalow in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. This home has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths and is waiting for your updates. Additionally, the house has cathedral ceilings, loads of natural light, and period touches. Add to that a sun room off the kitchen – imagine sipping your coffee while watching the sunrise over the Cascades, or put in a comfy chair and you’ve got a reading nook.

Gardeners will love the yard with its raised beds, fruit tree, and flora. Right now there are crab apples, tomatoes, and zucchini coming in. There’s a one car detached garage, rebuilt in 2001.

The location is ideal – just blocks to Gas Works park & local shops. Easy access to the University of Washington, South Lake Union, and downtown Seattle.

Upcoming Open Houses

Wednesday, August 9, 11:30am-1:30pm

Saturday, August 12, 1:00-4:00pm

Sunday, August 13, 1:00-4:00pm

For more information:

Email Me

Call or Text Me: 206-790-0081

Download the Flyer: 4010 1st Ave NE Flyer

Watch the video.

Are You Still Paying PMI? Do You Need To?

Private Mortgage Insurance (or PMI) is an extra charge that banks require when the amount of a loan someone takes out to purchase or refinance a home causes the loan to value ratio to exceed 80%. This means that the buyer or owner has less than 20% equity in the home. The bank requires PMI in the event the homeowner forecloses or the market shifts and the buyer has to do a short sale.

PMI can range anywhere from .3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount per year according to Bankrate.com. It is usually paid as a separate line item as part of the mortgage payment. The PMI rate can vary according to size of down payment, credit score, and insurer.

If you have been paying an extra charge for PMI each month, this is likely a charge you would like to be rid of. The great news is that home values in Seattle and King County have been on the rise. Since in a conventional loan, the PMI rate must be cancelled when the loan-to-value ratio (appraised value/loan amount) drops below 78%, the rise in home values should be helping your situation.

If you have been paying PMI, have been paying down your mortgage principal, and prices have increased to the point where you think you shouldn’t be paying PMI, it may be time to ask your lender to reassess the situation.

If you would like to know how prices have appreciated in your area so you are ready to reach out to the lender, I would be happy to help. Please give me a call, text, or email: 206-790-0081 or email jamie@jamieflaxman.com.