Category Archives: sellers

Shoreline Mid-Century Sells Above List

30 days ago the owners of my Shoreline mid-century listing drove away from their house to their new lives in South California. Today their home sale closed, and they area moving forward with the next phase of their life.

Let me share their story. Pat & Charlie approached me last spring as they were considering a move. Pat was about to become a grandmother and she wanted to be closer to her daughter and future granddaughter. But Charlie had a good job in Seattle, they had lived in their Shoreline home for many years, and she was overwhelmed about the prospect of packing up and moving. We talked, I provided a complimentary market analysis of the home, and it was left that they needed to figure out what they wanted to do.

Fast forward to September and I get an urgent message from Pat – “need to talk with you today.” Charlie had received a job offer in Southern California, it was a great fit, but he’d need to start in 2 weeks, and they had no idea how they’d have the house ready.

Now it was my turn to show them what I do as a full-service real estate broker. Within days, we had a plan. I referred them to the service providers they needed: power washing/yard work; housecleaning; movers who could help with packing as well; and stagers. Charlie got some updates done in the house – among them new flooring and radiant heat – before he had to hit the road for his new job. Pat handled the rest, called me when she needed help or support, and 2 weeks later, the movers arrived. In the days that followed, I oversaw the listing preparation – house cleaning, yard clean-up, staging, photography, and home video. The result was that on October 24th, I brought their beautiful home on the market for $590,000.

Within hours of coming on the market, there was a handful of showings including I received phone calls from brokers with clients wanting to submit offers. Pat and Charlie wanted to wait and see what the weekend open houses looked like before accepting an offer – good move on their part – more than 70 groups of buyers toured the house during 2 open houses that weekend. And Monday morning we had multiple offers and they accepted one.

The final price was substantially higher than the list price – $650,000. It sold in 4 days on the market and closed 3 weeks later. This wouldn’t have happened if Pat and Charlie had not worked hard on their home preparation, and more importantly, had not trusted me with the sale of their home. Thank you for believing in me and on moving forward with your lives. (And welcome to your very beautiful granddaughter.)

For more information on buying or selling a home, including a complimentary market analysis, please give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Market Update

Our region’s real estate market picked up in October. Northwest Multiple Listing Service figures show system-wide gains in October’s pending sales (up nearly 5.6%), closed sales (up 4.1%) and prices (up nearly 7.7%) compared to a year ago. At the same time, compared to the same month a year ago, October’s supply of active listings declined by double-digits in 18 of the 23 counties in the NWMLS report. This means that less homes are coming on the market.

In Seattle, October prices rose 3.3% from a year ago, to $775,000 — the largest percentage increase in 12 months. In King County, there were 25.7% fewer homes on the market in October than a year previously. Snohomish and Pierce Counties saw similar dips, of 23.5% and 30.0%. However, pending sales are up, signaling that buyers haven’t given up on housing market after the slowdown at the end of 2018. That could be helped going forward by mortgage rates that continue to hover around historic lows.

Condo inventory is expected to increase in the coming year, as projects currently in the pipeline come online. Year-over-year, condominium prices in King County were down 3.75% overall, to $385,000, and nearly 7% in Seattle, to $460,000. That’s still the most condos have cost in Seattle since June, signaling strong demand for housing priced under the area median.

Things are Changing – Real Estate Taxes

The Washington State Legislature is changing the way real estate excise taxes (REET) are calculated. This change may affect the amount of excise tax you pay depending on the sale price of your property. For sellers whose homes sell for less than $1.5 million, you will see a slight decrease in the amount of tax paid. For homes over $1.5 million or more, you will see an increase in taxes paid, and this may be a substantial increase.

Currently, the state excise tax is 1.28 percent. Local municipalities add their excise tax on top of the state tax, with most cities in our area adding 0.50 percent, to total 1.78 percent. Effective January 1, 2020, Washington state will begin calculating real estate excise taxes based on a tiered system:

  • Sales under $500,000: 1.1% tax rate (down from 1.28%)
  • Sales from $500,000 to $1.5 million: 1.28% tax rate (unchanged and 1.1% marginal rate on first $500k)
  • Sales from $1.5 million to $3 million: 2.75% tax rate (115% increase, but marginal rate increase means first $500k @1.1%, then $500k to $1.5M @ 1.28%)
  • Sales over $3 million: 3.0% tax rate (134% increase, marginal rates in effect)

If you are thinking of buying or selling soon, now would be a great time to contact us and find out how this new legislation will affect your transaction. Whether buying or selling, knowing the effect of this excise tax could save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The following graph shows you a comparison of taxes in 2019 (the gray) and after January 1st (the blue).

For more information on the real estate excise tax or on selling your home, please call me at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

How to Price Your Home

When you go to sell your home, you’ll want to know what to price it at. As your real estate broker, I will help you determine the best price.

You’ll get 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.

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.

If a Home is Priced Properly…

It will still sell quickly. While the average days on market in Seattle for a single-family home in July was 26, my Wallingford listing just sold in 7 days with multiple offers.

As you work with your real estate broker to price your home, it’s important to find the sweet spot – that is, the spot that is likely to bring in the most buyers. The sweet spot means you’re in the market, not on the market.

For more information on selling your home or the real estate market, please call me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

I Love Working with Seniors and Downsizers

A large share of the sellers I work with are seniors and/or are downsizing. This is one of my favorite groups of clients to work with. (The other group is at the other end of the spectrum, first time home buyers.)

When working with seniors and downsizers, there’s often a lot of problem-solving involved. And I love to help people find solutions! Whether it’s figuring out where to move to or how to move out of a home you’ve lived in for 40 years, I excel at helping you figure out what steps are needed for your transition.

I am a Seniors Real Estate Specialist. As a SRES, I have received extensive education in working with people aged 50 and older in preparing and selling their home. I have the knowledge and expertise to counsel you through the major financial and lifestyle transitions involved in downsizing, relocating, and selling the home you have owned for decades. I offer you the opportunity to complete your real estate transaction with the patience, professionalism, and expertise you deserve.

For many people, they know it’s time to sell their home but the thought of moving and selling is overwhelming physically and emotionally. Here is where an SRES can step in and help. I have access to resources to help you with this major transition and will be there with you through all steps of the selling and moving process.

There are many reasons that you may be considering a move.

  • The cost of maintaining your home has become too high.
  • You want to be closer to your children and grandchildren.
  • Your home no longer meets your accessibility needs.
  • Your home is more home than you currently need.

Whether you’re looking to move to an active 55+ community, a senior-supported living situation, a smaller house, or a condo, I am here to help. I have worked with many sellers who have made such moves and understand how difficult this can be.

Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com and let’s talk about how I can be of help.

Appraisals Explained

Appraisals are one of the most confusing aspects of buying or selling real estate. When a buyer and seller agree on a sales price, it can be frustrating to hear that the appraisal came in with a value too low. It’s not enough for the buyer and seller to agree to the price, the appraisal is the lender’s way to ensure they are not loaning money over the actual market value of the property.

The appraised value is reached by a licensed professional who looks at the real estate market in which the target property is located. They start with the target property and then look for recent sales in the area of comparable properties. These comparable properties will be located within a short distance of the target home. They should also be of comparable size and often fall within the same housing development.

Once these homes are identified, the appraiser will adjust for the specific differences. For instance, does the target home have an upgraded kitchen or swimming pool? They add or subtract value based on such things as location, view, lot size, upgrades, additions, condition, and many other factors. They can then arrive at a valuation for the target home.

Once the appraisal has been completed, the lender is notified of the value. At this point, the loan amount is either confirmed or declined. If the appraisal comes in too low, the buyer and seller can choose to make up the difference in the sales price, lower the sales price, or cancel the transaction.

An experienced real estate broker will help you manage the appraisal process. By learning about recent sales in your area ahead of time, you can price your home appropriately up front; then the appraisal should come back as expected.

Seattle Q2 Market Update

Several things stand out when looking at market statistics for the 2nd quarter of 2019.

  • There are a lot more condos and single family homes for sale.
  • For both condos and single family homes, prices are still down from the peak of 2018.
  • Days on Market is down for condos and relatively stable for single family homes.

It is important to note that we hit the peak of the market in May/June 2018. We have had a market adjustment since then, primarily driven by increased inventory. However, for single family homes, we have around 2 months of inventory, meaning we are still in a market that favors the seller.

This increased inventory is great news for buyers who have more choice in finding a home. We have seen some return to multiple offers but not at the pace we saw over the past few years.

With condos, in June we had just over 3 months inventory. The condo market is being driven by more condo projects under construction and being announced, meaning that the inventory level for condos should continue to rise. The increase in the number of available condos is great for buyers and home affordability—condos usually allow for buyers to get into the market at a lower price than for single family homes. In fact, my first purchase of a residential property to live in was a condo as that was what I could afford back in 1995.

The best news for both buyers and sellers is that we’re at a 12 month low for interest rates which are under 4%.

For more information on buying or selling, please reach out to me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com or (206) 790-0081.

Class: Tips to Sell Your Home

If you’re thinking of selling your home, I’ve got a class for you. I’ll be offering it twice in June.

Class description: Are you considering selling your home? If yes, this class will help you understand the current real estate market as well as learning what type of preparation is necessary and tips on downsizing. Jamie Flaxman is a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Bain and is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist.

Friday, June 7 at the Greenwood Senior Center, from 1:00-2:00. Call the Senior Center at (206) 297-0875 to reserve a spot, or contact me at (206) 790-0081 or jamie@jamieflaxman.com for more information.

Tuesday, June 18 at Aegis at Callahan House in Shoreline, from 12:00-1:00, lunch included. Contact Jason Baker at (206) 452-0285 to reserve a spot or contact me at (206) 790-0081 or jamie@jamieflaxman.com for more information.

Do you have a group where you’d like this class presented? Let me know. Or if you’re unable to attend either of these dates but would like to learn more about the selling process, give me a call/email to discuss your needs.

The Impact of Bedrooms on Price

In my experience I have found that most buyers are looking for a 3 or 4 bedroom home. They usually want 4 and often end up with 3. At the same time in working with sellers, I have found that a large proportion of the homes I list are 3 bedrooms. Does the number of bedrooms make a difference in the price you pay or receive?

YES!

I looked at sales of single family homes throughout the city of Seattle for the past 30 days and here’s what I found.

The 333 three-bedroom homes sold on average for $793,070 while the 192 four-bedroom homes sold for just over $1.1 million. I have to tell you while I expected there to be a difference, I did not expect to see a $300,000 difference.

For sellers, having or adding a 4th bedroom makes a huge difference. I listed a Phinney Ridge home last summer that was a 3 bedroom home. However, it had a fully finished room in the basement with large windows and heat. What it didn’t have was a closet. My clients spent a little money to create a closet, and now we had a 4 bedroom home. The room was staged as a guest room and looked great. (In most jurisdictions, the criteria to call a room a bedroom are: large window or exterior door for egress, a heat source, and a closet.)

If you’ve got a finished room that meets not all of the criteria for a bedroom, it might be worth a little money to make it a legal bedroom. Closets and heat are usually pretty easy to address. However, egress is not, so if there’s not a large window or the window is too high, this might not work for you.

For more information or to discuss the real estate market, give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.