Tag Archives: selling a home

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.

Just Sold in Wallingford

I’m excited to share that my listing in Wallingford recently sold. I listed it on July 30th for $850,000. The seller received multiple offers and the home recently closed for $937,000.

The seller of this home had lived there for more than 40 years and decided it was time to downsize and move into senior living. I helped her prepare the home for market including arranging for:

  • a person to help with selling and donating furniture and household items
  • a pre-listing sewer scope
  • repairs of some items in the home
  • professional staging

In addition, I provided professional photographs and a video tour of the home.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you sell your home, please give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Low Mortgage Rates = Buying Power

Mortgage rates are at their lowest since late 2016, last week nationwide around 3.6%. This is driving homeowners and buyers to their mortgage lenders, for both refinances and new home purchases.

As the chart below shows, just a one-half percent difference in your interest rate makes a huge difference in your monthly payment. For example, when purchasing an $800,000 home with 20% down, a half-point difference is $181/monthly, $2,172/annually, or $65,160 over the course of a 30-year loan.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a homebuyer, this is the time to get into the real estate market. With interest rates this low, you may be able to purchase more than you think.

If you’re a homeowner and considering a move, whether downsizing or to a new neighborhood or larger home, this is the time to do so. With interest rates so low, you’ll likely be able to afford more than you think.

If you’re a homeowner with no plans of selling in the next couple years and your interest rate is in the upper 4’s or higher, it might be worth talking to a lender about refinancing.

I have several excellent lenders that can help you determine what would be best in your situation, a refinance or a move. I would love to sit down and talk with you about your needs. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email me to schedule a time to chat.

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.

Market Update

The May housing market was hot. Not as hot as a year ago, but still at it’s strongest for 2019. In fact, in King County 70% of single-family homes sold in 15 days or less and 55% of single-family homes sold at or above list price.

With interest rates at the lowest they’ve been in over a year, at just under 4%, buyers are seeing that this is a great time to be in the market. One lender told me recently that she locked a client into a 30-year fixed loan at 3.75%.

You might have seen a news story recently that Tacoma is the hottest housing market in the Country. It’s not surprising that buyers are going further to find affordable properties – an analysis of NWMLS inventory at the end of May shows only 13.8% of the listings of single-family homes in King County had asking prices under $600,000. That compares to 25.6% in Snohomish County, 31.2% in Pierce County and 35.3% in Kitsap County.

King County prices for single-family homes show a 3.6% decline from a year ago, but are at the highest level ($699,998) since June 2018 when the median price was $715,000. Snohomish nearly matched last year, the highest for the year as well. 

For more information on the market or your particular city or neighborhood, please reach out to me at (206) 790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

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.

Real Estate is a Long-Term Investment

Seattle 10 Year Appreciation

Home prices in the Puget Sound region have decreased over the past year. But I don’t see this as a cause for concern. There are more buyers in the market, interest rates are coming down, and we are seeing multiple offers again. I do expect that prices will rise this year, but not at the pace we’ve seen previously. Real estate is a long-term investment, so even if they’re down over the past year, in Seattle they are up 92% over the past 10 years.

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.