Category Archives: selling a home

Market Update

Is the market starting to slow down? We are seeing signs that the market is changing, although rather than calling it a slow down, I would say it’s a market stabilization. There are fewer and less intense bidding wars and the price increases are less dramatic than we have seen over the past couple years. Additionally, we are seeing homes not receiving offers by their review date and there have been more price reductions.

These changes are not a reason to worry. They may signal that we are moving toward a more balanced, healthier market. Because we still have a serious shortage of inventory, I don’t foresee that we will see a major change in the market. Instead, the market for buyers may become less challenging.

For sellers who have been holding off on selling because they’re waiting to see how much more money they could get on their homes, I wouldn’t wait much longer. If you want to get top dollar, you should get your home on the market while there still is a shortage of inventory.

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.

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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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.   

Don’t Listen to the Media!

“Is the housing market ready for a crash?”

“Will I ever be able to afford a house?”

“Zillow says my house is worth $________.”

These are headlines that both the Seattle and national media are spreading. Here’s the reality:

Housing prices are appreciating at record rates. However, if we go back to 2007, when the market was at it’s peak before the crash, prices have increased 52% – that comes out to 5% a year appreciation over the 10 years.

Buying a home is within reach for many. The media often says it’s hard to get a mortgage, but that’s not the reality. The two most important factors for getting a mortgage are your credit score and the amount of debt you have. Only a lender can tell you if you qualify or not.

The “Zestimate” from Zillow is not an accurate representation of what your home will sell for. Zillow is an automated valuation, there are other companies who provide similar numbers. Because it’s automated, the algorithm has no idea of the special features of a home, the quality of the finishes or view, and any updates that have been done without permits. Even Zillow admits that their numbers are not accurate – the last time I looked Zillow said their Zestimates typically are off 10-20%.

So didn’t listen to the media! Talk to a real estate professional to get your questions answered. You can reach me at 206-790-0081 or mailto:jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

 

Organizing Your Listing and Move

The process of selling your home and moving can be overwhelming. So much to do, not enough hours in the day. For my clients, I try to make this process as easy as possible. I will create a calendar for you, from the date you decide to sell until your home closes. It’s color coded and you can add whatever you like to it.

Making lists is also very helpful. Perhaps you could make a list of each room of your house and then plan to clean out and pack one room a week (which you can then put on your calendar). Planning to hold a garage sale? Add that to the calendar as well.

In addition, I have a list of vendors who can help you with almost anything, from taking stuff to the dump to cleaning your house to packing your boxes.

Give me a text/call at 206-790-0081 or email so we can talk about your needs.

Up, Up, and Up

Seattle area home prices continue to increase on a monthly basis. In Seattle for single family homes, median sales prices in June were up 2.1% from May and 13.1% from June of last year. The number of new listings is continuing to improve, but with so many buyers in the market, they are selling even faster than they have been, with an average days on market of 12. Anecdotally, we’re hearing that while multiple offers are still the norm, they are not as crazy as they have been.

With more inventory, buyers it’s a great time to get in the market. And for sellers, it’s still the right time to sell. We have no crystal ball of what the market will be like in 3 or 6 months or next year. Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email to discuss your real estate needs.