Amazing Real Estate Tips, Trends & Ideas

Amazing Real Estate Tips, Trends & Ideas for the Greater Seattle market: Local real estate news in the Greater Seattle market: Home prices and trends in Seattle, on the Eastside, and across the Puget Sound region. By Dave McFarland, Broker with RSVP Real Estate.

Dec. 5, 2017

Don't Do These 9 Things If You Want to Get the Most Money for Your Home?

Owning a home and making mortgage payments is like putting money in the bank. Barring a market reversal, that nest egg of equity in your home will grow and grow. And for most homeowners, their house is their largest asset—which means there’s a lot of money at stake when it comes time to sell.

Want to get as much money back as possible from this big-ticket investment? Of course you do! So avoid doing these nine things when you put your home on the market.

1. Ignoring your agent's advice

Although you don’t technically need to use a real estate agent to sell your home, hiring one can help you get more money in your pocket.

A good listing agent can assist you with pricing your home, marketing it, negotiating with buyers, and guiding you through the closing process. That's a lot of responsibility—and you might feel slightly uncomfortable putting your faith in a stranger's hands. However, because your agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests, you need to trust the person's advice. So, if your agent says to do something—like make a price reduction—you should do it, says Daniel Gyomory, a real estate agent in Northville, MI.

2. Neglecting important repairs prior to listing your home

Most home buyers will require a home inspection contingency. But that doesn’t mean you should wait for the home inspector to tell you what to fix. If your home has noticeable flaws, go ahead and ask your agent whether you should address them before putting your house on the market.

“Something as small as a leaky kitchen faucet can be a red flag to a buyer, since the person might assume there are bigger issues with the home,” says Gyomory.

3. Being restrictive with showings

You want the greatest number of potential buyers to see your home, says Bellevue, WA, real estate agent Holly Gray. Hence, you need to be extremely flexible when responding to showing requests, says Gray. (Read: Be ready to leave your house at a moment’s notice.) Bear in mind that if you decline a showing, the buyer might not come back—and you could potentially lose out on a great offer.

"Expect little privacy when selling your house,” says Karen Elmir, a luxury real estate agent in Miami.

4. Failing to keep the house tidy

To be prepared for last-minute showing requests, you have to keep your home relatively clean, neat, and organized at all times.

“Your home should look as much like a model home as possible,” says Gray. In other words, try your best to make the place look spotless (or close to it) before buyers arrive.

5. Being present for showings or open houses

Home buyers are already apprehensive about touring a stranger’s property, so don’t make things even more awkward by sticking around for open houses or showings. Buyers need to be able to envision your home as their own, which can be difficult to do if they see you hanging around the house, says Danielle Schlesier, a real estate agent in Brookline, MA.

6. Letting a pet spoil your sale

Even though you love your pet, a home buyer might not feel the same way. Also, dogs, cats, and other animals often leave behind a bad odor, which can be an immediate turnoff.

Plus, “some home buyers are allergic to pets,” says Gyomory. So, instead of crating or confining Fido to a special area of the house during showings, take him with you for a walk while buyers are viewing your home. Even better: Drop him off at Grandma’s house for an extended stay while the home is listed for sale.

7. Reviewing offers with a closed mind

Many people form an emotional attachment to their home. But don't let those feelings cloud your vision, especially when you receive offers.

In an ideal world, you’ll nab a full-price (or higher) offer for your home, but be willing to negotiate if you receive an offer that’s below list price.

“Some people will have their mind made up that they won’t take a dollar less than their asking price,” which can kill a potential sale, Gyomory says. Trust your agent to negotiate on your behalf to help you get the best deal.

8. Balking over requested repairs

No matter how well you’ve maintained your house, a buyer’s home inspector is going to find issues with the property. Be prepared to make repairs during the home inspection negotiation period—or at least offer the buyer credit at closing.

Whatever you do, “don’t fight over a few hundred dollars,” says Gyomory.

9. Overlooking closing costs

While home buyers shoulder the lion's share of the closing costs, home sellers still chip in a good chunk of cash at settlement—roughly 1% to 3% of the home’s final sales price. Unfortunately, many sellers don’t budget for closing fees. In fact, "a lot of sellers only look at their agent’s commission” when calculating their closing costs, says Gyomory.

As a home seller, you can expect to be responsible for some of these closing costs:

A closing fee, paid to the title company or attorney's office where everyone meets to close on the home

Taxes on the home sale

A fee for transferring the title to the new owner

 

Get our FREE tip sheet "5 Reasons To Sell Your Home This Winter"

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Nov. 23, 2017

Too often we forget how lucky we are to go to school.

The holiday season is a time of year I often take for granted.  It's a time I look forward to for feasting, family and football.  This year will be a little different.  

A while ago I watched a documentary, "On the Way to School," that put gratitude in a whole different light.  

I remember the movie's tagline is "Too often we forget how lucky we are to go to school."  To illustrate this point, the movie trails children from three continents on their daily journeys to school.  

In Kenya, Jackson and his sister must avoid elephants on what is described in the film as more than a nine-mile journey that takes two hours. In Morocco, Zahira treks through the Atlas Mountains for about 13 ½ miles and four hours. In India, Samuel is pushed in a wheelchair by his brothers for over two miles and an hour and 15 minutes. In Argentina, Carlito and his sister ride through scenic Patagonian vistas on a horse, a trip that covers 11 miles and an hour and a half.

This documentary reminded me of just how lucky we are in in America and other more prosperous counties to enjoy so many blessings and conveniences that we often take for granted.  It's easy to be grateful for the big things when the family's gathered around the table for a big feast - things like the abundance of food, a nice house, wonderful business and investment opportunities - but, in the quiet moments, how many of us take time to count the little blessings in our lives?  

The convenience and choices in the U.S. are just one example of how good we have it compared to those less fortunate across the globe. 

There are far more extreme examples of how good we have it compared to the rest of the world when we consider the following facts on the bare necessities of life many of us take for granted:

1. Shelter. An estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless.

2. Water. 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water according towater.org. More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Lack of access

 to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.

3. Food.  Over 7.5 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases each year. Some 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth, according to the Hunger Statistics of the United Nations World Food Program. 

4. Health.  36 million deaths each year are caused by non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. One billion people lack access to health care systems.

How blessed are we to be living in this great country of ours with the many opportunities and conveniences it affords us?  

This year, Robs and I will look beyond the obvious and give thanks for the little things so many in the rest of the world can only dream of having or experiencing. 

 

Nov. 3, 2017

Renting in Seattle or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Nov. 3, 2017

Daylight Saving Time

Remember to "Fall Back" on Sunday November 5th.  Don't forget to turn back your clocks - Daylight Saving Time is ending at 2:00AM on Sunday, November 5th.

 

Oct. 16, 2017

Thinking of Selling Your Seattle Area Home? You Should Do It TODAY!!

That headline might be a little aggressive; however, as August 2017’s housing market data begins to roll in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling your Seattle area home, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME TODAY!  

In a recent article by CBS News, they explained that the number of existing home sales is shrinking, and Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, said:

“There should be 3 million homes on the market right now…Yet, there are only 1.9 million.”

And this situation will be affected greatly by recent natural disasters. Yun continued by saying:

“Before the hurricanes I would have predicted 1.35 million in new-home construction in 2018…I’ll have to scale that down now.”

NAR, in their August 2017 Realtors® Confidence Index, indicated that:

“Amid sustained job creation and sustained historically low mortgage rates, REALTORS® reported…that buyer demand is stronger compared to conditions one year ago… and that fifty percent of properties were on the market for less than one month when sold.”

The only challenge to today’s market is a severe lack of inventory. A balanced market would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, there is only a 4.2-month supply of inventory, which is down from 4.5 months one year ago.

Bottom Line

With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Let’s get together and discuss the inventory levels in your neighborhood to determine your next steps.

 

Want to know what your home is worth now in this crazy market? 

Oct. 13, 2017

Millionaire to Millennials: Buy a Home Now!

In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that “the single biggest mistake millennials are making” is not purchasing a home because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.”

Bach went on to explain:

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

In his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” Bach does the math:

“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial TimesWashington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

Sept. 8, 2017

Fannie Mae - Provides for an increase in your HOME BUYING power

Do you know that a huge amount of new mortgages go through either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting systems. 

This helps create conformity in the mortgage market so mortgages can be transferred to Fannie/Freddie, bundled into mortgage backed securities and then sold on the open bond market.  Recently Fannie Mae updated their system to allow a couple of important changes. 

They include:

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio allowed goes up to 50%
  • On a buyer making $4000/month that’s a $200 increase in allowable payment.  THAT’s a BIG DEAL as it equates to about a $40,000 increase in purchase price.
  • Loan-to-value (LTV) on ARMS increased to 95% - this is what is currently allowed on fixed rate mortgages.
  • Typically self-employed borrowers are required to provide a two year history of tax returns.  They’ve loosened the guidelines so that a one year tax return finding comes back.  While they don’t specify what the magic pill is for getting the one year funding, a 5 year business history probably will be one of the requirements.
  • Some disputed accounts on the borrower’s credit report may ignored.  This helps as lenders historically have had to get borrowers to jump through hoops to remove or resolve them before qualifying for the loan.

Need a loan?  We’ve got some trusted lenders we work with.  Let us know how we can help!

 

 

Aug. 17, 2017

Getting a Loan AFTER An Extended Absence From Work

Got hurt on the job?  Took time off for personal reasons?  Just because you have only been back to work a short time, say for 6 months, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home.  Here’s how the requirements work.

 

Conventional Loans


You are not required to be back on the job for a certain time after an extended gap of employment.

Underwriters will need to determine that your income is stable, predictable and likely to continue based on the documentation you have provided.

A letter explaining the circumstances for the job gap may be required.

 

FHA


A borrower re-entering the workforce with an employment gap of at least six months must be employed for a minimum of 6 months before income can be considered for qualifying purposes. The underwriter must verify a 2 year history prior to the gap.  

 

VA and USDA

 

A borrower re-entering the workforce with an employment gap greater than six months typically needs to be employed for a minimum of 6 months before income can be considered for qualifying purposes. A borrower with variable income or hours may require even greater than 6 months of employment for the underwriter to reasonably determine income is stable, predictable, and likely to continue.

 

Let me know if you have questions on this or other lending issues.

 

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March 31, 2017

How Does Living Near a Light Rail Station Affect The Value of Your Home?

People ask all the time “How will the new transit system and loading stations affect the price of my home?”  In a recent report, it was determined that it can increase the price of a home by an average of $2,040, or 0.6 percent!

Homes with great transit access are really rare in U.S. cities. Less than one percent of homes that are listed for sale today are considered to be in a rider’s paradise (Transit Score of 90 and above). Yet in a survey of more than 1,300 people who bought a home last year, more than one in five said they wish they had paid more attention to the length of their commute from their new homes.

To estimate how much transit access is worth when buying or selling a home, the report looked at the sale prices and Transit Score ratings of more than one million homes sold between January 2014 and April 2016 across 14 major metro areas.

Here are the price premiums of one point of Transit Score on a home, grouped by metro area.

On average, across the 14 metros analyzed, one Transit Score point can increase the price of a home by $2,040. But it really varies widely from area to area.

It’s easy to see a value premium for a home located near one of the main commuter lines in the metro area because walkability and access to public transportation are relatively rare. 

Seattle is known for its traffic, so more and more homebuyers want to be closer to a light rail station or bus line for commuting to and from work.

Some people even commute from the suburbs to park near a transit line to get into the downtown area because it is easier than driving.  Homes near the proposed Lynnwood–Bellevue Express, the Everett/Lynnwood–Seattle Express  or the Everett–Seattle Express transit centers could see a real uptick in home values.

Transit is an important building block to economic mobility.  The more that cities invest in good transit the bigger financial impact for homeowners and the better access families of all incomes have to jobs and public amenities. Transit is an economic win-win for communities.

Want to see how a light rail transit center affects the value of your property?  Looking for a home near light rail centers?  Click here.  Or just call Dave directly at 425-330-0663 or shoot him and email at dave@mynorthwesthomes.com if you have questions.

 

 

March 30, 2017

How Your Neighbor’s Airbnb Rental Can Affect Your Home Value

If you’ve done any amount of travel recently, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Airbnb, a service where you can rent a room, an apartment or even an entire house from someone who lives in the area you’re visiting. It’s a growing trend among vacationers looking for either inexpensive accommodations or more amenities than a hotel can offer. It’s also very popular when big events come to town, like the Super Bowl in Houston or Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

According to DMR, there are an estimated 2.3 million properties listed on Airbnb across 57,000 cities and 191 countries. I was surprised to learn that in my small suburb, 1.5% of the housing market calls itself an Airbnb rental.

What makes Airbnb different than other rentals? This type of service is also known as a “short-term rental” or STR. Originally, customers who used the service would rent a room or space in an owner or renter occupied dwelling, so it was common to have to share the space with the residents. The trend now, however, is away from such shared spaces. In many cases, individuals are now purchasing single-family or multifamily units to turn them into STRs.

The Washington Post recently reported that STRs are of increasing concern to homeowners, real estate agents, local communities, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). According to a spokesman for NAR, the organization hasn’t taken a position on either side of the argument. After all, someone is still buying and selling these properties, whether they’re primarily owner-occupied, vacation homes, second homes or investment homes.

So we asked ourselves, do STRs have an effect on properties in their neighborhood? And what’s the impact if you’re trying to sell your home and an Airbnb rental is next door?

It depends.

PRO?  STRs like Airbnb help struggling homeowners and protect a community’s character.

According to a Cornell University Case Study, the ability to rent one’s property?—?even in the short-term?—?may be a tremendous financial aid to struggling homeowners. It can help to avoid or at least mitigate instances of blight due to disrepair, distressed sales at below-market-rate sales prices, and even foreclosures. The case study concludes that allowing owners to home share can protect a community’s character and property values.

PRO?  Homes could sell for more money.

In areas where STRs are accepted or encouraged, and neighbors aren’t hostile to it, a home with “rentable” features might actually sell for more money, according to some realtors.

PRO?  Vacation home sales are increasing.

Craig Kalkut, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said there’s evidence that vacation-home sales are going up because STR platforms have become an accepted way to book a vacation.

CON?  Party house stigma.

Trying to sell your home, but your neighbor is renting a “party house?” This could have a negative impact. And although Airbnb reports that the majority of their renters are respectful travelers, thanks to airbnbhell.com, we know these party houses do exist.

CON?  Revolving door of strangers.

You never know who your neighbors could be, and that’s a classic fear for homebuyers, especially for families with young children. A growing concern, Airbnb recently released an online feature where neighbors can now report annoyances such as safety, noise, cleanliness, parking and even suspicious criminal activity.

CON?  Neighboring homes could take longer to sell.

Although we couldn’t find evidence of this, many realtors feel that a single-family home or condo unit next door to a

STR?  Where the occupants change every few days?  Will take longer to sell and bring in lower offers.

It’s easy to see how the real estate industry is caught in the middle of a fight between those who oppose STRs and the property owners and companies promoting them.

According to a recent article in Realtor Magazine, in the future, real estate agents could be required to disclose to a seller or long-term renter the existence of a nearby STR. In fact, the California Association of REALTORS® may soon ask its Forms Committee to add a question to the Seller’s Property Questionnaire: “Is your home across from or nCext door to a short-term rental?”

Given the new nature of these rentals and occupancy issues, it may vary greatly from one neighborhood to another whether a STR like Airbnb can help or hurt a neighborhood or a particular development.

When buying a home you can never have too much information. Contact Dave McFarland at 425-330-0663 to and know before you buy!