Category Archives: selling a home

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.

Downsizing Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting

This article comes from the materials I hand out and discuss at my “Tips for Selling Your Home Class.” If you’d like to learn more or attend a class, the next class is Friday, June 7th at the Greenwood Senior Center. Contact me for more information or to attend.

Need help with organizing and decluttering? A recommendation for a painter or a roofer? Most real estate brokers have a list of vendors who can help you with these activities. Additionally, some brokers, like myself, have taken classes in staging, and have materials that can help such as lists of places to donate or sell items. Just tell your broker what you need.​

Thinking of moving to a smaller space or even a tiny home? While it is true that by liberating ourselves of extra space can open the door to lower costs (mortgage, utilities, property taxes, and repairs), for many the thought of having to downsize their belongings in order to fit in more closed-quarters is prohibitive. If you have been thinking about downsizing, here are some ways you can get the ball rolling without it seeming overwhelming:​

Lifestyle Analysis – First review how your life is going to change after you downsize. If you are retiring, there may be many work-related items that no longer need to clutter your closet! Suits, jackets, shoes, purses, etc., that served you in a professional capacity may be the first to go into the donate or sell piles. If you are moving to a warmer climate, perhaps you should rethink your winter wardrobe. Moving to a condo and don’t plan on utilizing your green thumb? Consider your garden and lawn tools and supplies. Entire categories of things can be the first to go. ​

Space Analysis – Think about the space and functionality of the rooms you are moving to. If you don’t have a guestroom at your new place, then perhaps you don’t shouldn’t bring that entire room of items. If you are downsizing your kitchen to half of what you have now, then half of what you currently have will need to find another home. Think about your largest furniture pieces as well. Do you have room for a pool table? Also consider scale of furniture – sectionals and large dining room tables may be just too large proportionally for the rooms you will have. ​

Functionality Analysis – How many pans do you really cook with on a regular basis? How many mixing bowls do you really need at once? How many pairs of socks? So often we keep something around because we perceive that we need it, but you likely only use a few items in your home on a regular basis. When was the last time you made pasta from scratch or used all your towels? Downsizing means choosing, so choose wisely!​

Memorabilia Analysis – This is a tough one because it means choosing among things that are cherished. Yearbooks, photos, letters, keepsakes, children’s artwork, etc., all fall into this category. As we get older, this problem becomes more pronounced as we inherit and become stewards of other people’s items. One idea is to digitize items – as files on a computer you still have the items but they take up less physical space. ​

This category of items is just too painful for some people to have to go through and make choices for fear of making a mistake. If this sounds like you, then perhaps your best bet is to get a storage unit and put those items in there. I do recommend that you let someone else know about the unit in the event something happens to you so that these items stay in the family.  ​

Understanding Days on Market

One clue to understanding what type of real estate market we’re in is “Days on Market.” When homes are selling quickly, it tends to be a sellers’ market, and when slowing, a buyers’ market. But when we look at the numbers, it sometimes can be a confusing story.

Most of the time when we look at Days on Market, we’re using Average Days on Market. And when we do this, we see this number has increased substantially from the past few years.

This increase reflects the fact that homes that were not priced properly stayed on the market for a substantial amount of time.

However, if we look at Median Days on Market, it’s a different story. Looking for this perspective, we see that half of homes sold in a very short period whereas half sold in many more days.

What this tells us is that pricing your home properly is a critical step in getting the home sold quickly. It is imperative that you do not overprice your home, as it will sit on the market. Your real estate professional will advice you on a pricing strategy and I highly recommend that you follow that person’s advice.

For more information including a complimentary pricing analysis for your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Things Out of Your Control When Selling

Do you feel like things are out of control? If you’ve listed your home for sale, every day might feel this way. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The truth is there really are things sellers can’t control. But don’t worry; even though you can’t control everything, there are ways to deal with these unknowns.

Buyers – Oh if only we could control buyers. They show up at odd times, they write crazy offers, they make odd repair requests and they can be difficult. One time a deal fell through because a Feng Shui Master didn’t like the color of the kitchen.

The Market – Market forces determine so many things; interest rates and sales prices. While you can’t change these forces, you can get all the information you can so you’re prepared for how this affects the sale.

Inspectors – You’ve loved and cared for your home, but even so there could be hidden issues that only a comprehensive, professional home inspection can uncover. One way to avoid unpleasant surprises is to put a listing home warranty in place to cover unexpected repairs. Another way is to your own inspection before listing your home.

Appraisers – Appraisers are just people. On occasion they make mistakes in value. Your lender and broker will help you navigate an unfavorable appraisal. There are ways to combat a poor appraisal.

Selling your home can bring unexpected issues. If you’ve done your due diligence and hired a good broker, you’ll be able to handle the unexpected issues which are out of your control. For more information, give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.