Recent Condominium Closing and Testimonial

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It was such a pleasure to work with Cindy, and to see the look on her face when she fell in love at first sight with her new condominium!

Thank you for the nice review!

I am a first time home buyer. Andree Hurley helped me find my beautiful condo in Edmonds. I knew I wanted it the moment I saw it. Andree made herself available to write the offer that very day. She was patient and instructive throughout the hours it took to complete the offer. From then on, she was on top of everything that needed to be done. She communicated well with me and with the seller’s agent. The sale closed quickly and on time. I am very happy with her services and definitely would recommend her. Thank you.

Coldwell Banker Bain’s Annual Real Estate Report 2018

Have you been wondering what happened in 2018 in the Northwest real estate market? Many of us are talking about the old and the new market since we saw a softening in June. That said, home sales are still strong, mortgage rates are still low (although a bit higher than last year), and more homes are hitting the market making for some mobility. Those who didn’t want to sell because they didn’t know where to go, may find more opportunity to downsize or upsize.

Coldwell Banker Bain’s Annual Real Estate Report for 2018

December Holiday Newsletter

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Winter Bird Migration, Holidays, and the End of an Annual Cycle…

Swans and Sunsets
Sunsets and Swans in the Skagit Flats
We have been enjoying a run of crisp, cold weather and clear skies in the Northwest. This has encouraged me to go to the Skagit Flats, north of Seattle, and engage in one of my favorite hobbies, photography. This is the time of year when the Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans move through on their southern migrations.

We are also in the midst of the holiday season and at the end of another annual real estate cycle…real estate running in annual and ten year cycles. (Case Schiller Index)

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s (NWMLS) monthly press release is out, with good news for buyers! While it is still a seller’s market by definition, we are moving towards a balanced real estate market in the Northwest.

The MLS is statewide, and while some regions (such as Leavenworth) also have their own, local service, the NWMLS pulls in statistics from its statewide membership.

By looking at the charts at the end of the press release, it is easy to see which counties are having price appreciations and which aren’t…which reminds me of the concept of selling high and buying lower.

Empty nesters and retirees fall in to this category, and I have been consulting a few clients recently on potential retirement towns. These include Edmonds, Kingston, Winslow, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Bellingham, Oak Harbor, Anacortes and the San Juan Islands.

It may seem like a far spread, but thanks to my background in sea kayaking, and the number of friends who are sea kayakers that have asked me to help them, I know a fair amount about these areas.

Edmonds is close to Seattle, home to my office, and a beautiful seaside town. The prices are not low, but the proximity to Seattle and its walkable downtown make it desirable.

Kingston is a bit lower in price, but due to the advent of the foot ferry to downtown Seattle, it has seen multiple offers lately. For anyone who wants easy access to the outdoors, the Olympic Peninsula is only a few hours away.

Winslow is a very desirable location and is somewhat a bedroom community for those working downtown. Just ride the ferry during rush hour, or after a game, to experience the neighborly atmosphere. The downtown is also very walkable, and has a plethora of great restaurants and art galleries – I love heading to the first Friday art walk!

Moving north, Bellingham is a town I know fairly well as I lived there for three years during the nineties. Also a seaside town, it has an avid outdoors population with sea kayaking, mountain biking and skiing within close proximity. The university brings in students from around the world, and the town, of course, is home to professors and others who are employed by the school. I know several people who have sold in Seattle and bought in Bellingham.

Of course the San Juan Islands have a lot to choose from. People generally compare Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island. Lopez Island is known for its destination road biking, Orcas Island might be considered quite “artsy”, and San Juan (in my humble opinion) is a bit less rustic than the rest. It also has (similar to East Sound on Orcas), a walkable downtown, a hospital (with flight insurance available), and the lovely west side, which overlooks Canada, and is often populated by Orca whales.


Appreciation Rates, Sales

The chart below shows we are still having some healthy appreciation rates, although the days on market (DOM) are longer.


These charts, compiled by our Lake Union office, show the story well. Note how this year’s line, in blue, differs from previous years. December

More Links



Queen Anne:

West Seattle:




Port Townsend:

InfoSparks, from the MLS:

What is happening elsewhere?

From the New York Times:



“This is the second property Andree has sold for me, with excellent results. My late Mother’s house was a mess. Andree provided invaluable assistance in helping prepare Mom’s house for sale, and during the sale itself. Her communication and attention to detail were excellent, and her efforts often went beyond what I would have expected of a listing agent. During the listing and sale process, we had to work through a number of difficult surprises, not the least of which was a long-forgotten fuel oil tank which the Inspection found under the house. Andree skillfully assisted me through the process of obtaining city approval to treat (and not have to do the nearly-impossible task of removing) the tank to everybody’s satisfaction.”


“I am very pleased with the effort Andree made as my agent and finding my “forever home”. Throughout the search, questions I asked were always answered promptly, and she made sure that I had information about CC&R’s and HOA dues, so I wouldn’t exceed my budget. She really seems to love what she does and is committed to her clients. Andree went to great lengths to find the home I ultimately purchased. It was her creativity in preparing and negotiating the final offer that sealed the deal with the seller. I would recommend Andree to anyone wanting purchase or sell property.”


“Andree is organized, thorough and professional. Our communication was clear and concise. Andree is a top professional who has the experience and knowledge to help a seller or buyer in their real estate transaction”.

Relocation and referrals

Because of our national and international network within Coldwell Banker, I can help you, a friend or relative with their move by finding a real estate professional on both sides. We will call and interview brokers to try to make sure they are the right fit.

Referrals make up the bulk of my business and are not only a compliment but also much appreciated. I also will partner with brokers in our network when listing property outside the greater Seattle and Eastside area, such as in the San Juan Islands and on the Olympic Peninsula.

November’s Press Release

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As many of us have noticed, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service has statistics that show there has been an increase in inventory, and a significant drop in prices over the last month. We usually do see a shift in the market as we near the holidays; it’s typically a good time for buyers. That said, homes are still appreciating, and the market is returning to a more balanced state.

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,” said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.

“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of 8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7 percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Real estate veteran Mike Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, commented on the current “win-win” conditions. “We’re entering that time of year when historically the market slows a bit as we head into the holidays. Buyers continue to see an improving market compared to last year with the inventory increasingly to 2.4 months of supply in King County, compared to the year-ago figure of less than a month (0.98),” he stated.

Area-wide there is nearly 2.3 months of inventory, slipping from more than 2.5 months in September, and improving on the year-ago figure of about 1.5 months of supply.

The year-over-year gains in supply, while notable, are still “way off from a balanced market that provides five to six months of inventory,” Grady remarked, adding, “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is not falling,” he emphasized, pointing to rising prices and strong jobs reports as factors for a positive outlook. (The State Employment Security Department reported Washington gained 4,500 jobs in September.)

“Home prices in King County are up nearly 8.6 percent year over year, so we’re still experiencing significant appreciation,” Grady stated. Given continued reports of hiring by companies in the Puget Sound region and recent increases in inventory, he expects homebuyers will continue entering the market, adding, “And sellers can still expect to get good prices — all this without the frenzy. A win-win,” he proclaimed.

Northwest MLS figures for October show median prices system-wide for homes and condos are up about 4.6 percent from a year ago, rising from $373,000 to $390,000. King County prices jumped from $565,000 to $613,509 for a gain of about 8.6 percent. All but four of the 23 counties in the report experienced price increases from a year ago.

Condo prices are up 7.8 percent from a year ago. In King County, which accounted for more than half of last month’s condo sales, prices rose 5.8 percent, from $378,000 to $400,000. Median prices in King County peaked so far this year (at $466,500) in the spring when sales closed at several newly built condos in downtown Seattle and Bellevue. The median price on newly built condos that have sold in King County so far in 2018 is $830,287.

Both pending sales (mutually accepted offers) and closed sales dipped by double-digits during October. MLS members reported 9,015 pending sales, down 14.8 percent from the year-ago total of 10,586, but up slightly from the previous month’s figure of 8,913.

The volume of closed sales declined nearly 11 percent area-wide, although eight counties reported double-digit year-over-year increases. For the four-county Puget Sound region, the number of completed transactions fell 15.3 percent from a year ago, but rose 5.2 percent compared with September.

Commenting on the latest MLS statistics, J. Lennox Scott noted “unsold inventory levels are higher than we’ve seen in the past three years,” adding, “We’ve gone from being virtually sold out in many areas close to the job centers to healthier inventory levels.” Instead of an “extreme shortage,” there is now just a “shortage level” of unsold inventory in the more affordable and mid-price ranges, according to Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott.

Scott believes the current market provides opportunities for those looking to move before the New Year, even with a home-to-sell contingency. “It’s okay to buy and sell within same-market timing, although it remains crucial for those looking to purchase a home to be buyer-ready for the best chance to get their chosen property,” he advised.

“The increase in standing listing inventory brought more choices to buyers and the meteoric price increases of the spring market have slowed,” stated MLS director John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. “Sellers responded by capturing available buyers with competitive pricing or by quickly adjusting pricing,” he reported.

Many sellers are feeling the change, Deely noted. “Longer market times upset their expectations of a quick sale,” he explained. Also, he said, brokers are reporting some sellers’ pricing remains flexible “even after a price reduction as buyers take advantage of a seller’s desire to beat the competition.” He also noted that despite downward trending prices, year-over-year pricing is up.

Brokerage owner George Moorhead of Bentley Properties has noticed a “significant uptick in buyer activity during the past three weeks,” calling it typical for this time of year. “Buyers are more than testing the waters as they see better pricing, less competition, and have a desire to secure their next home for the holidays.”

In response to persistent questions about a possible housing bubble, Moorhead said the clear answer is “Absolutely not.” As buyers, sellers and even brokers adjust to a more balanced and healthy market, “there will be some feeling of the unknown,” he believes.

“When you look at the big picture, inventory is still below what we call a balanced market, the economy is performing above average, and home appreciation is still increasing.” Moorhead stated. Even more important is that homes that are priced correctly are still selling quickly, “under 15 days” he remarked.

Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson also commented on the changing market in the South Sound region, although it is at a less pronounced level than the Greater Seattle area.

Unlike King County where the volume of active listings more than doubled from a year ago, the Pierce-Thurston counties area had modest inventory gains in the 9-to-12 percent range, noted Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor. Year-over-year pending sales are off 12.3 percent while prices rose about 8.3 percent.

“When choices are more abundant, buyers become more discerning, and they make better choices on the homes they select,” Beeson observed, while offering advice to sellers. “Some sellers need to become more discerning with their asking price. That’s the pathway to being sold.”

Recent rises in interest rates are of some concern, according to some industry leaders.

“The rise in interest rates has some sellers and buyers concerned as it erodes the affordability of our already price sensitive market,” stated Deely.

Moorhead reported buyers have expressed little concern, but are more worried about home prices and future values over the next 3-to-5 years. With a diminishing pool of buyers as the year winds down, builders are ramping up incentives, according to Moorhead. He said mortgage interest rate buydowns are among the incentives, along with custom upgrades and payment of closing costs.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, expressed concern about inventory and interest rates. “The insufficient supply of low to-mid-priced homes in metro markets with strong job growth continues to drive up prices and push prospective buyers out of the market,” he said in a NAR report on third quarter activity.

“As mortgage rates continue to rise, reaching the decade’s highest rates this quarter, an increase in the supply of affordable homes has become even more important to help temper price growth across the country,” Yun commented.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)–Information/page/Latest-Press-Release

Seattle and Pacific Northwest Third-Quarter Real Estate Market Report

We have you covered – Bellevue, Lake Union, Edmonds/Lynnwood, Bellingham… your third quarter market statistics.

The Pacific Northwest has softened a bit with more homes coming on the market, and those that came on in June, staying on with price reductions.

While we were moving along at seventy miles and hour, we are now closer to sixty miles hours an hour, making it easier to sell so one can downsize or upsize.

Pacific Northwest Third-Quarter Real Estate Market Report

Anacortes Waterfront Listing

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I am loving my listing in Anacortes; it is lovely to watch the light change on the water, views of Mount Baker, Cypress Island and the boat traffic! There is always something new!

This listing has been promoted through the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Coldwell Banker, Zillow, Redfin, TourFactory, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and this website. The excellent photography includes aerial views of the waterfront home.

Anacortes is also treating me to several great restaurants, nearby hikes and beach walks and shopping of all sorts.

Click-through to the listing:

Congratulations to my friend Karen and her new home!

I’m happy my friend Karen will be moving into the home we found for her soon! 🙂

She says:

“I am very pleased with the effort Andree made as my agent and finding my “forever home”. Throughout the search, questions I asked were always answered promptly, and she made sure that I had information about CC&R’s and HOA dues, so I wouldn’t exceed my budget. She really seems to love what she does and is committed to her clients. Andree went to great lengths to find the home I ultimately purchased. It was her creativity in preparing and negotiating the final offer that sealed the deal with the seller. I would recommend Andree to anyone wanting purchase or sell property.” Karen Scharer

It is in a nice older residential neighborhood in Oak Harbor, full of oak trees and with a view of the water! It was custom built by a son for his mother, lived in by another son, making Karen the third owner.

New review from a seller

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I enjoyed helping my client sell a home in Seattle recently, and evidently he did too as he writes: “Andree is organized, thorough and professional. Our communication was clear and concise. Andree is a top professional who has the experience and knowledge to help a seller or buyer in their real estate transaction.”

First Quarter Real Estate Report 2018

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I love this quarterly report! We have a new marketing team and they have organized the data into an easy to read and beautiful format. Obviously we are still operating with low inventory, high demand and low supply. Buyers are getting wary of overpriced listings, which causes them to stay on the market over a week. Many listings on the market over ten days are considered stale, and thus bring a lower price than they would have if they had been priced properly at the point they hit the market.

Quarterly Report Coldwell Banker Bain for 2018

February Newsletter – Real Estate Market Update

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2018 is starting off with a bang!

On listing appointments I often hear “Spring is the best time to sell a house, that’s when one gets the highest price, and when my garden looks the best.”

This hasn’t been proven true in most years, this year included.

As quoted by my firm’s Lake Union managing broker in the latest Northwest Multiple press release: “Sellers that have put their properties on the market early this year have less competition and are seeing multiple offers. Open houses are experiencing heavy traffic with hundreds of potential buyers attending,” reported Deely.”

Home Buyers Still Competing for Sparse Inventory in Western Washington, Driving Up
Prices – Especially for Sought-After Condominiums

Latest Press Release

February 5, 2018

Current Statistics | Market Recaps

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 5, 2018) – “The Seattle area real estate market hasn’t skipped a beat with pent-up demand from buyers is stronger than ever,” remarked broker John Deely in reacting to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on January activity shows a slight year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of inventory.

Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle and a board member at Northwest MLS, noted a shift in the ratio of pending sales to new listings in King County.

Member brokers added 6,805 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to the system-wide database last month for a gain of about 4.6 percent from a year ago. During the same period, they reported 7,820 pending sales. In King County, the number of new listings outgained pending sales for the first time since September:

King County (SFH+Condos) Jan-18 Dec-17 Nov-17 Oct-17 Sep-17
New Listings 2326 1165 2102 3088 3856
Pending Sales 2282 1850 2831 3533 3514
Difference 45 -685 -729 -445 342

Read more here…


Appreciation Rates, Sales

The most impressive appreciation rates between the three counties in January were West Bellevue, Kirkland, Bainbridge, Edmonds, Lynnwood and University Place. The latter show how some buyers are travelling further from the Seattle core to find available inventory and prices.

Appreciation Rates

The trend of low inventory continues because potential sellers don’t know where they are going to go. This is causing many to consider ageing in place. In some cases, the baby boomer generation is either moving in with their children, or inviting their childrn to move in with them, and so remodeling their homes to include aditional dwelling units.

That said, it is possible to sell high in Seattle, and buy low within ten to thirty minutes of Seattle. Thanks to a friend and client, I have been researching north to Stanwood, Camano, Whidbey, Anacortes, and Bellingham, or east to Kingston, Poulsbo or Sequim.

On a lighter note, it is almost Valentines Day! Think chocolate, wine and dine!

Here are a few ideas between our three counties!

Valentines Day


Are you looking for something to do? Here are some upcoming events:

Feb 9 – Valentine’s Concert – Burien

Feb 10 – Makers Market – Mi Amor – Everett

Feb 10 – Gig Harbor

Feb 15 – Art Walk Edmonds; stop by our Edmonds office to see this fun art by local children! I’ll be perusing galleries and would love some company!
Art Walk Edmonds Coldwell Banker Bain

* Newsy Links – see what has been happening in real estate.

* The most recent Northwest MLS Press Release

* Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know!



Queen Anne

Eastern Side of West Seattle

Central Part of West Seattle

Western Side of West Seattle


Port Townsend

* The Multiple Listing Service gave us a new tool, “InfoSparks”! I ran a report using: Seattle, Residential, all price ranges: InfoSparks Report for “Seattle”

Relocation and referrals

Because of our national and international network within Coldwell Banker, I can help you, a friend or relative with their move by finding a real estate professional on both sides. We will call and interview brokers to try to make sure they are the right fit.

Edmonds Floor Time
Referrals can make up the bulk of my business and are not only a compliment but also much appreciated. I also will partner with brokers in our network when listing property outside the greater Seattle and Eastside area, such as in the San Juan Islands and on the Olympic Peninsula.


Real Estate Market Analysis

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We have so many excellent sources of real estate analysis I thought I would post a few links for ease of find them. After reading the Northwest Multiple Press Release for January, 2018 (below), it is obvious that we had extremely low inventory in December. Real estate runs in ten year cycles, and it has been over ten years since the recession and time when many homes were bought over their value – now those homes have gained back their value and have equity.

What do the charts say? A highly respected appraiser, Alan Pope, has a wonderful compilation of charts on his website: Looking at his ten-year cycle, inventory is still going down in the Puget Sound region, but has had a consistent pattern in King County.

Trendgraphix is another program we have available to us at Coldwell Banker Bain. Here is their graph of real estate trends over the last ten years:

What this means is that if one has a home to sell near the Seattle core, there is a still low supply and high demand – a great time to sell. The big question I hear is “where will I move?”. Much of this depends on you, the seller. Would you be happy moving north, for example, to areas further from Seattle but with lower prices. Stanwood and Camano Island have had homes with lower prices and longer days on the market, but it may take an hour or so to get to downtown Seattle during rush hour. Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek and Briar and closer in and have lower prices, but they are seeing a lot of pressure now considering the low inventory around Seattle.

I have helped clients buy in Kitsap County and they love it. They have the ferry to consider, but the lifestyle is wonderful, especially if one likes the outdoors, and there are some great shopping and dining pockets.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service Press Release
“Exceptionally low” inventory slows year-end home sales, contributes to steep price hikes around Greater Seattle region
Latest Press Release
January 5, 2017

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 5, 2018) – The year 2017 may be in the books and for many members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service it was a memorable one with December’s activity being no exception. Brokers reported historic lows for inventory and year-over-year price gains in most areas.

“I’ve never seen inventory this low in Kitsap County in 27 years,” remarked Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. That county’s number of active listings last month plunged nearly 40 percent from year-ago levels.

At month end, there were only 397 active listings in Kitsap County (down from the year-ago total of 659), a level Wilson described as “exceptionally low,” even accounting for seasonal factors. “A normal inventory in Kitsap County used to be 1,500 to 1,700, but we have not seen this number of active listings in several years,” he lamented (Northwest MLS data show the last time inventory topped 1,500 in that county was in July 2014 when there were 1,503 listings at month end).

For the MLS area overall, inventory shrunk 19 percent, from 10,569 active listings at the end of 2016 to last month’s figure of 8,553. That’s the smallest selection for any month in the past decade. For the fourth time this year, monthly inventory dipped below the 10,000 mark, a level not reached at any other time during the 10-year comparison.

Despite the paltry supply, last month’s sales remained remarkably strong, with closings up slightly (0.88 percent) from a year ago. Northwest MLS members reported 7,642 closed sales, about the same volume as a year ago when completed transactions totaled 7,575.

Year-over-year pending sales of single family homes and condos (combined) fell about 3 percent, from 6,390 to 6,198, but far outgained the number of new listings added to inventory (4,053).

“December, which has historically been a slower month, picked up momentum and never let up,” reported George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. Unlike October through November, which he described as slower than what had been seen the past three years, “December drew aggressive buyers, some motivated by expectations of a flattening market, with others trying to beat anticipated interest rate hikes.” Purchasers were from all buying demographics, noted Moorhead, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

Several MLS leaders commented on the consequences of depleted inventory, including OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.

“While pending sales are down double digits in King County, it’s not because there are fewer people buying, it’s because there is far less to buy,” according to Jacobi. “That’s why home prices tell the true story of this market and the huge discrepancy between supply and demand. As long as this imbalance remains, prices will continue to see steep increases, just as they did in December and throughout 2017.”

Northwest MLS statistics show prices rose 11.4 percent system-wide for the 7,642 completed sales of homes and condos. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the report had double-digit price hikes from a year ago. Two counties reported price drops: Chelan (-11.2 percent) and Douglas (-6.5 percent).

Within the Puget Sound region, King County registered the sharpest escalations at nearly 16 percent. Year-over-year prices jumped from $505,000 to $585,000. For single family homes in King County, the hike was similar (about 15.5 percent), rising from $550,000 to $635,000 at year end.

Condo prices surged 28 percent in King County over the past twelve months, from $315,000 to $402,000. During the same year-over-year period, active listings fell from 346 units to 206 (down more than 40 percent), leaving only about 10 days of supply (0.35 months of inventory).

System-wide, there is a little more than a month’s supply (1.12 months) of homes and condos, with the shortages most pronounced in the four-county Puget Sound region. Three of those counties – King, Kitsap and Snohomish – have less than a months supply; Pierce County is somewhat better off with 1.1 months.

“While all year we’ve been bemoaning lack of inventory and escalating prices, the statistics show 2017 was a banner year in many respects for real estate in the Puget Sound region and throughout the Northwest,” stated Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. He cited year-over-year gains in both prices and values, commenting “As a result of this strong market, homeowners are experiencing bountiful gains in property values.”

Brokers expect momentum to continue despite uncertainty about interest rates and taxes.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate believes the Central Puget Sound housing market will remain one of the strongest in the nation. “It will be another happy new year for real estate activity.” As the new year unfolds, he expects buyers “will emerge from winter holiday hibernation in big numbers” in part thanks to the Seahawks. “Without the Seahawks in the football playoffs, the 2018 housing market will be more intense earlier in January rather than heating up after the Super Bowl,” Scott remarked.

Scott also anticipates a “frenzied, multiple-offer market” in the more affordable and mid-price ranges, as well as “good-to-strong” sales activity in the luxury market close to the job centers. Positive job growth and attractive interest rates will propel activity, he suggests, adding “In the more affordable and mid-price ranges, the impact of the new federal tax policy is minimal.”

Wilson also believes the new tax code will not have an immediate impact on home sales in Kitsap County. “The majority of our purchasers are buying for lifestyle reasons such as a new job, transfer of job or duty station, or household size expanding or contracting.” He suggests 2018 “will look a lot like 2017” but everything will be amplified due to the extreme shortage of active listings.

Grady concurred. “As we look forward to 2018 we continue to believe this is a great time to buy real estate. We see only positive returns for homeowners and real estate investors this year and likely for several years to come.”

Moorhead anticipates aggressive buyer activity through May, but expects some short-term flattening thereafter with single-digit appreciation in the range of 5-to-7 percent. Builders still have memories of 2008, but with moderate activity and price increases likely to be sustained, “they are cautiously optimistic.”

Luxury buyers seem to be undeterred by the change in the mortgage interest deduction, Moorhead noted (the bill lowered the cap from $1 million to $750,000 for primary residences). He said they polled their top 30 luxury home buyers regarding the change. The most common responses were “disappointment at losing a great tax planning deduction,” Moorhead reported, but added, “Those surveyed said it would not change the style of home or price point for the homes they are looking to purchase.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 26,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Real Estate Transaction Map for Buyers and Sellers

Many people wonder what real estate brokers do and how the home buying and selling process works. This is a great transaction map for buyers and sellers to help you see all the twists and turns in the buying and selling process.

Real Estate Transaction Map

On the buyer side one of the most important boxes to check off is early loan approval. Aside from not wanting any last-minute surprises, in our competitive Seattle market it is critical to be pre-approved. You may need to put an offer on a home a day after touring and you want that pre-approval letter to go with the offer. A few of the lenders I work with will also underwrite on a predetermined address, which is even more powerful.

The seller needs to make sure they have clear title. One common occurrence is the situation of having a wrong or even old name on the title. This can happen for many reasons but it should be cleared up at the beginning by having your real estate broker pul preliminary title.

I will work-up a comparative market analysis of the neighborhood which will reveal trends in the marketplace, average price sold per square foot, days on the market, and what escalated or sat on the market for a long period of time. In today’s market, a properly priced listing should sell within a week in most locations around the Seattle core. Overpriced listings can stay on the market a long time and can be perceived as having something wrong with them.

If the home is being purchased with a mortgage, the mortgage company (or the bank) will send out an appraiser to determine if the home is worth the amount offered. Of course we hope the figure comes in at the sold amount, but if it doesn’t, there may need to be some negotiation.

Once an offer has been accepted there will be timelines as dictated in the offer. Some competitive offers may limit the number of contingencies, but to protect a buyer there is usually at least the inspection, neighborhood review, and title contingencies. There is a standard number of days written into the contract but these can be overridden by writing in the number of days into the space.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!



The Northwest Multiple Listing Service Press Release for December

KIRKLAND, Washington (December 6, 2017) – “Normal seasonal slowdowns” are reported by some real estate leaders with Northwest Multiple Listing Service, but other brokers say this holiday season is still drawing crowds at open houses along with competitive bidding in some neighborhoods.

Both inventory and pending sales dipped to their lowest levels since April, while prices still increased by double-digits in most of the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS.

MLS members reported 8,304 pending sales of single family homes and condos, a slight (1.6 percent) gain over the year-ago figure of 8,173. Last month’s mutually accepted offers surpassed the number of new listings (6,098) by 2,206 properties to keep supply tight.

“Until we see a balanced rate of 4-to-5 months of supply, instead of hovering around one month, we’re not likely to see much change,” remarked George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. “However,” he added, “since we have seen these low inventory levels since 2013, maybe this is going to be the new normal.”

Moorhead, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, also said this time of year is actually one of the best times to find a home. “There is less competition and sellers who list their homes at this time are usually motivated to make their move. Some of the best pricing can be attained from December through early February,” he indicated.

Buyers seem to be undeterred by winter weather, holiday festivities or other seasonal or – for the most part — political distractions.

Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, said December “may well provide an unexpected holiday reprieve for our local, weary real estate shoppers. Combined with the seasonal pace change and real estate industry pundits’ consternation over the effect of the federal income tax bill working its way through Congress, buyers could be getting some relief.” He urged potential sellers to take note as “This could be the signal they’ve been waiting for as a good time to sell before the pending tax laws that affect real estate ownership take effect.”

For those who are both prepared and patient, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said the holidays can actually be a great time to buy “because there is usually less competition and sellers are motivated to close out the year with a sale.”

More than 8,000 sellers found November to be a good time complete sales. Closed sales rose about 2.5 percent year-over-year, from 7,872 transactions to 8,068. Sales of single family homes (excluding condos) rose about 3.3 percent, but the volume of condos fell about 2.6 percent, likely due to limited selection.

“Open houses this past weekend drew strong traffic,” reported Northwest MLS chairman John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. He said more than a hundred groups toured a condo in the Lake Union area.

“The Seattle market is inundated with technology workers, both newly relocated and those that have been renting and are ready to set down roots,” Deely noted, adding “Investors both large and small are stepping up their purchasing, signaling strong confidence in the Greater Seattle area.”

Strong demand is not confined to Seattle.

“The velocity of market means that every time a new listing is added all eyes focus like a laser beam to see what just happened,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor. “If a worthy property comes on the market, buyers know it instantly as the information is streamed through every device known to man. Buyers step up and buy, quickly and efficiently.”

Brokers are noticing the buyers include growing numbers of millennials.

“Millennial buyers continue to enter the market but the extremely low inventory is hampering their success rate in finding and securing a purchase,” said Diedre Haines, principal managing broker-South Snohomish County at Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood.

Haines said November activity started slow, but definitely picked up later in the month. “Earlier this year I feared signs that a bubble was building, but I no longer see that happening,” she stated.

“While we continued to experience more of the same in November related to a lack of inventory, we are seeing more homes sold year-to-date,” observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. He noted the number of new listings in King County for November increased more than 7 percent compared to last year.

Area-wide, the volume of new listings added during November rose nearly 5.6 percent (from 5,776 to 6,098) compared to the same month a year ago.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, described sales activity for new listings as “extremely strong.” Despite lower overall volumes of new listings and sales, Scott said the majority of new listings are selling within their first 30 days on the market. He calculated November’s pending sales of single family homes outgained new listings by nearly 41 percent.

Despite improvements in new listings, brisk sales kept inventory well below year-ago levels. “King County is still experiencing double-digit reductions in inventory compared to this same time last year, but the shortage is even more pronounced in some outlying counties,” Grady noted, commenting “We’re not just talking about the main commuter counties.”

Significant decreases in inventory are found in Thurston (down 31 percent), Mason (down more than 26 percent), and Cowlitz (down more than 39 percent) counties. MLS figures show inventory is down more than 24 percent in Snohomish County and nearly 29 percent in Kitsap County. Across the 23 counties, it’s down about 15.9 percent.

Measured by months of supply, there is about 1.4 months of inventory overall. In King County, supply has dwindled to 0.79 months, and only slightly better, at 0.89 months, in Snohomish County.

Home values continue to escalate across the region. The system-wide median price of $379,000 was up 10.8 percent from a year ago, with 15 counties reporting even sharper gains.

In King County the median price for single family homes and condos combined jumped 15.6 percent, from $497,254 to $575,000. For single family homes (excluding condos), the median price was $630,750, up nearly 14.7 percent from last year. Condo prices surged 17.1 percent, due to a combination of depleted inventory (down 28 percent from a year ago) and higher prices for new condos. (In King County, the condo component classified as new construction that sold during November had a median price of $873,490.)

Commenting on prices, Haines emphasized wide variations are found when comparing median sales price within most counties. In Snohomish County, for example, the median price for homes and condos that sold in Mill Creek was $590,000, while in Darrington it was $191,475. Similarly, in King County, the median price for Bellevue homes and condos was $875,000; in Tukwila the sales price was $321,194. Brokers tend to concur prices may moderate in the coming year.

“Can we as an industry sustain this 10-to-15 percent increase in prices again in 2018? I don’t think so, but I don’t know,” remarked Beeson, adding, “I only know that when sellers decide to get serious and sell their home by finally setting the right price or finally improving the condition of their property to justify their price magic happens. Houses sell, people move, lives change forever.”

“Prices are expected to see some much needed slowdown in 2018 which will help bring more balance to the market,” stated Jacobi, who also believes a housing bubble is unlikely. “Rising home prices on their own don’t lead to a bubble; a number of other factors have to come into play.”

Moorhead agreed, saying he expects 2018 “will be less glamorous with 6-to-8 percent appreciation, or even a slight flattening of the market for 8-to-12 months.” Commenting on modest gains in income, at around 2.5 percent, he remarked “No wonder buyers in the market are so frustrated and willing to make significant concessions to secure their next home. It’s like chasing a train where you just cannot catch up and only the fastest can get on.”

Brokers tended to agree some of the provisions in the widely anticipated tax reform have “the potential to negatively affect home values nationwide.” Haines said a drop in sales is expected if the proposed bill as it stands is passed.

Notwithstanding the uncertainty around tax reform, Scott remains confident: “Market conditions are set for another robust market in the year 2018,” he stated.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 26,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

A Letter for a First-Time Home Buyer

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Today I am starting a new journey with a first-time home buyer and thought I would share the letter I wrote to them. In this market we have a couple of scenarios – in the city we are still seeing a lot of pressure and escalations, and so many buyers are moving north (and south) to find homes. For this reason, my buyer has decided to look in a bit north, and so I both researched the area online, and previewed a few homes yesterday. I also called one broker to find out how much interest he was seeing in his listing as it has no offer review date. He did say that some listings are seeing a lot of competition, and he has one very interested buyer in his listings.

Thus, I wrote this email:

I hope you two are doing well this morning!

I’m excited we are finally on the journey of finding you a home, and thought we might need to go over the process a little more.

We can also have another meeting to talk about some of these details, but for now I want to point out a couple of things, and have also attached a “buyer packet” that I have developed. Please let me know if you can open it 😊. I will also print one out to bring with me on Sunday.

It is missing a couple of things that are important in today’s market.

At this time there are very few homes on the market (low inventory, seller’s market). Because of this, many buyers may look at one one home and want to make an offer on it.

For this reason, there is a set date and time when the seller and their broker are looking at offers.

This can create competition and so the offers have a page called an “escalation” clause which sets the highest price the buyer will offer.

This means, if you see a house with an offer review date, we need to be prepared to escalate (usually $5,000 at a time). We can escalate to the amount you were approved for (taking into consideration your down payment, etc.)

Also, we need to have an inspection. An inspection can cost up to $500.00 each time, depending on the size of the house.

In a competitive situation, it is often expected that the inspection be done in advance (a pre-inspection).

To put this in terms of what you have been sending me, for example, a couple of the sellers are looking at offers on December 4th. If we see a house you want to put an offer on Sunday, then I would recommend hiring an inspector to look at it as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the one home has no offer review date (more traditional) and so can take an offer anytime. In this case we would put in an offer with an “inspection contingency” and then, if our offer is accepted, we will then hire the inspector. If everything is fine with house, we can go ahead. If the inspector finds something wrong, we can negotiate or pull out.

There is one more scenario. You may find a house that has been on the market for awhile that you like. This house might not require much negotiation, and may accept a lower price.

In summary, we can approach our journey keeping these three scenarios in mind, and find a home you will love to live in for many years.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, November Press Release

Key indicators for Western Washington housing still rising, but brokers detect slowdown
Latest Press Release

November 6, 2017
Current Statistics | Market Recaps | Market Snapshot Infographic

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2017) – Early seasonal snow and questions swirling around the tax plan unveiled last week by House Republicans could make the usual seasonal slowdown more pronounced, say industry leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. For October, however, key indicators trended upwards.

Pending sales rose nearly 8 percent from a year ago, closed sales were up 5.2 percent, and prices jumped about 8.2 percent, with 14 counties reporting double-digit gains. Even the number of new listings improved on the year-ago total.

Northwest MLS figures for the 23 counties it serves show members added 8,466 new listings to inventory during October, outgaining the year-ago total of 7,575 by 11.8 percent. Buyers outnumbered new listings, with 10,586 of them having their offers accepted. That number of pending sales was up nearly 8 percent from the same month a year ago.

“The challenge for buyers actually isn’t lack of choice, it is the rapid pace of sales,” suggested Ken Anderson, president/owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty.

“The market in Thurston County has never been better for sellers, and they’re getting the message,” Anderson remarked. His analysis revealed a 10-year high for sellers coming to market during October. “These savvy sellers are not waiting until spring to sell. They are taking advantage of today’s great market and making their move now,” he reported.

Buyers may find themselves in a quandary as the year winds down as they contemplate limited supply, possible upticks in interest rates and tax reform. Last week’s announcement of a provision in a GOP tax proposal to cap the mortgage interest deduction is concerning to buyers, brokers and builders.

“Imagine if the proposed plan to cap the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 is approved in a market that is starved for homes and where the median price [for a single family home in King County] is now $630,000,” said O B Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “Homeowners may be less likely to sell because they would be giving up their grandfathered tax credit on their current home. That’s fewer homes for sale in a market where we really need them,” he stated, adding, “There could also be a flood of new buyers trying to purchase before the plan is passed, adding to the already hyper-competitive market conditions.”

The president of the National Association of REALTORS® also weighed in, saying details are currently under review, but stated, “Eliminating or nullifying the tax incentives for homeownership puts home values and middle class homeowners at risk, and from a cursory examination this legislation appears to do just that.”

Northwest MLS data show 66 percent of single family homes sold so far this year (Jan. – Oct.) in King County had selling prices of $500,000 or higher.

The median sales price system-wide for October was $373,000, up more than 8.1 percent from twelve months ago when it was $344,900. All counties in the four-county Puget Sound region notched double-digit gains.

For single family homes (excluding condos), the median sales price for last month’s completed transactions was $381,000. Within King County prices are considerably higher. In Seattle, year-over-year prices jumped 17.6 percent, from $625,000 to $735,000. On the Eastside, the median price for a single family home rose 10 percent from a year ago, increasing from $768,000 to $845,000. Nevertheless, high prices did not seem to deter many house-hunters.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, noted October was the “best ever for sales activity in the Puget Sound region.”

Northwest MLS brokers reported 7,740 pending sales in the four-county region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap), bettering the year ago mark of 7,487 mutually accepted offers. System-wide, pending sales increased from the year-ago total of 9,805 to last month’s total of 10,586 (up 7.97 percent).

“With a large buyer pool for each new listing, we saw a higher percentage of new listings sell within the first 30 days of coming on the market,” Scott reported, while also noting the seasonal change in housing market dynamics. “As we enter the winter market, the number of new listings being added will be in short supply from now through February,” he explained.

Compared to spring months, Scott expects volumes in the next few months will be at 30-to-50 percent of spring totals. “The stage is set once again for a frenzy housing market after the first of the year in the price ranges where there is a shortage of active listings for sale.”

Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott’s Poulsbo office, also commented on supply, noting in Kitsap County, the number of active listings is down nearly 24 percent from a year ago. “What this means to Kitsap County buyers is that everything is compressed: with lower inventory and higher prices the pressure continues to build for those buyers who need to find a home.”

Inventory remains low in many counties in the Northwest MLS system. Overall, there is only 1.5 months of supply of single family homes and condos combined. In King County, it’s less than one month. Industry analysts say four to six months typically indicates a balanced (or “normal”) market.

Most brokers agree inventory will not grow over the next few months. “Sellers who bring their homes on the market over the next three months will have a lot of interest because of the pent-up demand of buyers who are going to have fewer houses to consider,” suggested Wilson.

“Homebuyers in our area are at a real disadvantage right now,” commented Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “They have to be pre-underwritten with their lenders, put forward a conventional or better offer, put down substantial earnest money, and hope that multiple offers do not escalate the price out of their affordability zone.” He fears “more and more buyers will be sidelined.”

Brokers in Snohomish County are detecting some tapering of activity.

“Buyers are no longer being as aggressive with concessions on homes when making offers and they are unwilling to compete for a home where sellers are being too aggressive with a list price,” commented George Moorhead, designated broker and owner at Bentley Properties. He also noted buyers who have been on the sidelines are now more active as they see a slowdown “and an opportunity to finally own a home without the multiple offer competition.”

Diedre Haines, principal managing broker-South Snohomish County at Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood, believes the usual seasonal slowdown is apparent “a bit earlier than usual.” She reported multiple offers are continuing but listings in Snohomish County are experiencing longer market times, fewer above-list price offers, and a noticeable increase in price reductions. “All of this puts an emphasis on how important correct, accurate pricing has become.”

Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, suggested statistics for October “at first blush suggest the lack of listings of single family homes and condos in the region is self-correcting.” As an example, he notes new listings in the tri-county region (King, Snohomish and Pierce) increased 11 percent from a year ago, while year-over-year sales rose only 6 percent. “That implies the shrinking inventory of homes for sale experienced over the past couple of year may be evening out.”

Looking at year-to-date figures tells a different story, according to Grady. His analysis of the three counties shows a 20 percent reduction in active listings. Factoring in strong sales yields a statistic known as months of inventory, which is under two months in the four counties comprising the Puget Sound region.

“The story continues to be in the ‘commuter’ counties, which are experiencing the biggest shrinkage from a year ago,” said Grady. “This reduction of supply will continue to put pressure on rising prices. Bottom line: investment in a home continues to be bullish with no change in sight.”

Northwest MLS board member Robert Wasser said while it may be a difficult time to be a buyer and a positive time to be a seller, the best strategy “regardless of market conditions is to calculate the pros and cons involved and make informed choices.” Wasser, the owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate in Seattle, recommends working with a real estate professional who, among other topics “is equipped to discuss market conditions, financing considerations, historic trends, and buying and selling strategies.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 26,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Third Quarter Report

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The president of our firm, Mike Grady, visited all of our offices with a third quarter report.

The 1st quarter the entire industry was down 25% – why? It was coldest winter in history, sickest winter in history with the highest absentee rate, and we had a new president with some uncertainty.

Our firm is building a new office in Bellevue – Global Luxury – it is going to be very luxurious and right in Lincoln Square

The Kirkland office is moving to Park Place, adjacent to Kirkland Urban, and we will have a new satellite office in Silverdale.

Coldwell Banker Bain now has a new contract with a direct feed to Zillow. Instead of 3 business days it will take one hour. It will have top billing with listing agent on top. When a buyer contacts a broker besides us we will be notified and so can contact that agent to promote the listing. Reports will be given to us.

The Multiple Listing Service has eight hundred fields. Zillow only wants four hundred fields. We will also have a traceable hyperlink.

Skyslope is a transaction management system

– Used by many companies – it turns a transaction into an offer. It then goes into Contactually and will return your dates and forward to clients. It will be a nice automated system to keep track of timelines.

We are getting a new comparative market analysis program called Cloud, it is higher definition.

Put out a client advisory on wire fraud; we have put it onto every listing package and it is not enough. There have been two more cases – the wire fraud was in the agreement.

We need to have a conversation with our clients on the phone to tell them not to respond to any request for a wire. For example, if you see anything like this, call your contact at Rainier Title and Escrow who is handling your transaction.

If not represented by Rainier, still call the agent – or call the buyer – and tell them they should not take wire instructions by email. Get on a landline ☺

A commercial report came out from the Black Creek Group forecasting the same trend lines in boom and bust ending in the second quarter of 2017 and going backwards.

It also looks forward six quarters. When have metropolitan areas reached peak there is an overcapacity situation with high rises everywhere, and no one builds another high-rise for another decade. He expected this in the greater Seattle area (from Mt. Vernon to Olympia). He though they would say we have reached oversupply…but that is not what they said.

They said we have two more years of this pace before we begin to get to the point where the cranes leave and the lights go out.

Twenty-four months of continually escalating offices, hotels, and motels. This is a predictor that we will have a good residential market. Take a deep breath – two months of rest, then ride like the wind.

Buyer books will be out next month.

Third quarter report – share it – share in Contactually every morning. Print it and mail to neighborhood. Getting press in England and China.

There has been a Chase letter in closing files, which says that electronic signatures were used and you will take all responsibility. Don’t sign it. If you don’t sign it the transaction will still close.

State of the real estate market

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I attended a course today on the state of the real estate market and here are my notes – Denise Lones always has interesting and useful take-aways.

Money flow, building permits and inventory, follow laws and developers. We can also look at what is happening in the world.

The stock market hit a high today. Why? Investors are excited for tax reform…hedging their bets.

Health care not a rich mans game, but tax cuts are.

We were in a steroid market…a false market going into 2005. Vegas crashed; people could not afford to buy.

Lately we have seen multiple offers, however, now that we are in fall it’s not as crazy. Inventory has taken a dump – it came down a couple of hundred listings. Is this the time of year?

Issues are facing us:
1. Hirst decision – the minute a person can’t build in a location due to water issues, they will look elsewhere, moving demand for land. It will not be resolved this year.

2. Cost to build new construction has gone through the roof. There is a shortage of labor. Where are all the tradespeople going to come from? People also make more money freelancing – so why work for a builder?
Everyone and their uncle want to age in place. One plumber said he is working at 3x the normal rate and dropped all his contracts with big companies. Remodeling craze. HD TV makes it look easy.
3. Californians coming here for jobs, because we have rain. In some states, water companies will pay you to take out your grass. Major corporations are buying up land with water – show called Blue Gold.

4. Aging populations – aging and then dying – leave wealth to baby boomers. The average baby boomer that gets a settlement invests in real estate instead of the stock market.

5. Storm water and wildlife issues make building more difficult.
Some investors are buying legacy condos – they buy four condos for children in certain zip codes and sit on them. They don’t rent them out because of certain laws, which will cost them more money.

Lawsuit with one condominium building – the HOA is suing a company from China because the building is 80% empty.

Watch East Everett for new construction.

Investment is about control. City of Seattle has rent control.

Look at price of a condominium in Los Angeles and San Francisco – investors aren’t going to pay. Investors don’t want Seattle anymore due to those issues. They are scared of Seattle.

It is important to attend city council meetings.

Vancouver has done a powerful thing – big developers build eight units a floor – times two million a pop. Out of that Vancouver will need ten units at X dollars or 10% of the cost – and they will buy a community for the homeless.

They have made communities (people don’t wake up in the morning and want to be homeless). They are homeless for financial, drug, or mental illness reasons.

Killing off the first time homebuyers market has impacts on the rest of the market.

A five-five market is balanced. Vancouver is a 4-5, we are 2.5-3

There are five tiers: first time buyers, move up buyers, second set of move up buyers, seniors, and investors.

The market will change in two years. People don’t want to commute. Roads and transit are forcing people to make decisions. There will be inventory changes. Much depends on laws that may or may not pass.

Stock market, what goes up, comes down. Politics, such as a decision by Mueller, comes out one way or another and it will have an effect on stock market.

It is still a seller’s market

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It is still a seller’s market in King County. While I have noticed more homes on the market in September (not reflected in most statistics yet), homes near Seattle are still on the market a short period of time. There is often a slow-down in August, while many are on vacation, but the chart shows only a wee slowdown.

One might wonder how there could be more sales then listings – this indicates a strong absorption rate where homes that have been on the market over a month time were purchased.

It’s still a good time to sell – the Seattle economy is going strong, thanks to Amazon, Facebook, Google and other high tech firms that are hiring and bringing new people to our area.

Many people wonder where to go – personally, I like Snohomish County. I have been showing five acre equestrian properties and, for example, some are going for as little as $500,000, the same price a small home in Seattle sells for.

Condominiums are also an option, and I know many people who have moved to Edmonds because it is a walkable, friendly, seaside town.

I have been helping at the Edmonds office holding down floor time, and find it quite enjoyable.

Overall, if you have been thinking about selling a home in Seattle, this is a good time to do it.

Ask me to help you with a comparative market analysis; I’ll research the activity in your neighborhood, tour your home, and give you a price range.

August Market Flash

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I decided to stay and enjoy Seattle during the eclipse, and so went to Alki Beach where I could view downtown Seattle, the Port of Seattle and a peek-a-boo view of Mount Rainier. I met a few “eclipse buddies” and we had a wonderful time trading around glasses, and photographing what we could.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service press release came out at the beginning of the month, and explains nicely what I saw in July, and am continuing to see this month. I’m excited that the two managing brokers I have worked with, and our firm’s President, Mike Grady, are quoted. John Deely is the Principal Managing Broker of our Lake Union office, and Diedre Haines is the PMB of our Edmonds/Lynnwood office, and so their combined perspectives mean a lot to me.

It is amazing that the market is continuing to be so strong, when we often see a lull. Inventory is still tight in King County, driving up prices. There does seem to be a wee bit of a slow down in Snohomish County, however, with homes staying on the market longer and price reductions.

As stated in the press release, sellers are also allowing some contingent sales. This can be a bit tricky, however, because if a buyer’s home doesn’t have an offer, or close in a timely manner, the sale can fall through.

I saw this in action on a home that I previewed with a client; it was on the market for a few weeks when it suddenly cancelled. The seller of that house was in the process of buying another home in a different state, and those sellers became impatient and started to cancel the transaction. The seller of the home we previewed decided to get a loan instead.

The home seemed in move-in condition at first glance as the upstairs of the home was in excellent shape, however a person living in the lower daylight basement was a heavy smoker. Heavy smoke gets into the walls, carpet, curtains and the duct work. This article describes how hard it can be to fix:

It can also be difficult for a buyer to buy contingent as when one sees the home one wants, one needs to pounce. If the buyer’s home isn’t ready to go, the clock is ticking on the offer. This, of course, is very stressful to everyone.

One way to handle this is with a “bridge” loan. Certain mortgage companies will lend based on an appraisal of the buyer’s current home. This means for a short time, the buyer will own two homes. This shouldn’t be a problem if the buyer’s current home is in an area of high demand (and they are buying in an area of lower demand).

Some homes north of Seattle are seeing longer days on the market and price reductions. These homes could be a good pick for a contingent offer, or even a lower offer, depending on how “motivated” the seller is.

Side-note for those with investment properties in Seattle; landlords may not be able to screen applicants for criminal records. Combine this with the idea that landlords are encouraged to take their first applicant. Read more here:

This was discussed in a monthly real estate class that I attend, and while various solutions where proposed, the most popular was trying to retain the tenents one has by not handing out rent increases. Considering the low supply and high demand for rentals (along with real estate) in Seattle, it is tempting to raise the rent.

According to a Zillow study, rent increases have also contributed to more homelessness across the nation.

These stories are in the “Newsy Links” page, linked below.

Appreciation Rates, Sales

The most impressive appreciation rate in July was Richmond Beach at 26.96%!

Market Flash

Buyer beware, listing broker’s duties

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You drive-by sign in front of a house for sale and call the number on the sign – or, you see there is an open house coming up and walk in and speak with the listing broker. You are excited and want to write and offer, and the listing broker says, sure, I’ll write that up for you!

You think you are being represented, but in fact, in this situation, the listing broker’s first duty is to the seller. They may even have an agreement that if they bring in both sides, they will receive a discounted commission. That said, they might want to move the property and convince the seller to take a low offer.

In this last month I have heard or been involved in this scenario three times.

One friend and client told me that he dropped his listing broker because she represented a buyer at such a low price, that he felt she wasn’t actually representing him, as she is supposed to do.

In the second case, I wrote a back-up offer on a property where the listing broker has both sides, and claims the older home should appraise at “offer price”, which to me means a price lower than asking.

The third situation was the hardest. Clients called me and wanted to see a condominium in a somewhat remote vacation area, and we all took a road trip over there. They were so excited that the property had a price drop after a year, and decided to write an offer that was almost full price.

While I was writing the offer, the listing broker (a one man operation) called and said he was showing the property to an investor, but the chances were slim that they would write. We turned our offer in that night to the listing broker using a solid conventional mortgage for second/vacation home. Lo and behold, he turned in an offer on his own listing the next day which was cash. As the cash offer was a quicker close, and had no appraisal, the seller chose that offer.

In my firm we are coached in best practices. When we are operating as the listing broker, we refer a buyer of our own to another broker if they want to write on our own listing. If we don’t refer, our managing broker presents the offer to make sure there is no conflict of interest and that the buyer is fully represented.

I was referred buyers to write on an associate’s listing a few months ago, and it went quite well as we did have the strongest (not highest), offer.

Give a chance, my clients probably could have converted the loan to cash, or taken out cash on their first home as a line of credit. However, as the property needed some work due to winter damage, we wanted a full inspection and an appraisal.

We’ll be watching that property to see what the final price is, and wait for the next, most likely better, property to come on the market.

Offer Accepted!

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Congratulations to my sellers, they are signed-around and can start the transition they are so looking forward to, moving onto a boat!

I was so impressed by the buyer’s agents and offers. Here is a quick rundown on the winning offer:

1. The buyer’s agent called and chatted almost every day to get a feeling for how many pre-inspections and offers were coming in. He told me the buyers had lost five offers and were determined to get this one by escalating way over, and committing money for a low appraisal.
2. The buyers came to an open house and asked a few questions before telling me they were the ones writing the offer – and said, “I hope you like us so we can win this house, we love it”. Of course, I said, “I do really like you and hope you have the winning offer”!
3. When offers were coming in on Monday at 3:00pm, their lender called to say they were fully underwritten, approved and could escalate to X amount, way over list.

Sure enough, their offer was the strongest!

We had the average for that neighborhood, four offers, high escalation. Three downloaded the online third-party pre-inspection (sellers and brokers are blinded to it), one had a walk-through pre-inspection.

A bottle of wine and a good luck jade plant for my clients!

New Listing – Shoreline Rambler

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Easy living in this Shoreline rambler near several local parks! Walk or bike the Inter Urban Trail to Central Market, Trader Joes, Thai Bistro, Menchies. Enjoy local parks such as Twin Ponds, Paramount, Hamlin, Boeing Creek and Richmond Beach. Home boasts remodeled kitchen with adjacent patio perfect for summer barbecues and a master suite with bath and laundry. Plenty of off-street parking, detached garage.


Tour Factory Slide Show:


What the sellers love about their neighborhood:

Our close-knit neighborhood is amazing. People often go for walks and check in with one another. We always enjoy closing off our street for the yearly neighborhood street BBQ.

We love that our neighborhood is full of families with kids. There is a great group of boys ages 6 to 15, who often play together.

The back patio is quiet and peaceful under the Japanese maple. We enjoy BBQ’s and roasting marshmallows in our mobile fire pit.

This is a great location – easy bus and freeway access and close to many parks and woodland areas. Our favorites are Boeing Creek, Hamlin, Twin Ponds, Carkeek and Richmond Beach.

We love to walk/ride the Interurban Trail to restaurants, Menchies, the YMCA or Trader Joes.

Our house stays cool in the summer and our yard has places of sun and shade.

It’s fun to have a berry patch and apple and hazelnut trees.

Having a workshop in the garage with built in cabinets has been fantastic for all sorts of projects.

Our dining space is big enough for large gatherings with family and friends.

It’s a rambler!

New Listing in Kenmore

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Get ready to unpack, move in, and enjoy living in this well maintained and recently updated home in the Arrowhead community. Enjoy a chilly winter’s day or a sunny afternoon in the enclosed sun porch. Plants optional. Take a stroll around the neighborhood or walk to and from the local Arrowhead elementary school. With a master on the main and two bedrooms upstairs, this home can appeal to many. Welcome home.

6605 NE 154th Street, Kenmore 98028

MLS #1105879 | $499,999

Built in 1956
8,450 square foot lot
1,630 square foot home
Two bedrooms and full bath on second floor
Master bedroom and three-quarter bath on the main floor

See more about the listing here:

List It and It will sell.

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I am getting ready to bring on a listing, and as you may have heard, there is a phrase going around right now: “list it and it will sell”.

As I recently summarized the process for this client, I thought I would share the process on my blog.

The few days before a listing goes active can be very dynamic as last minute touches are being applied inside and out.

One task is to schedule the photography. In some cases we might have the staging set in the morning and the photographer come in the afternoon. I like to take advantage of natural light, so if the home shows best on the outside near dusk, I’ll schedule for mid to late afternoon.

At this point the rooms need to be photo ready; if need be we can move clutter into closets.

The photographer will send me the photos within twenty-four hours and I will have the seller review them. I will then create the flyers; upload them to the Multiple Listing Service and to our dynamic online program called Tour Factory. I can then be ready to list anytime.

In advance of the listing the seller and I will review strategies for reviewing offers, one of which could be determining a day to review offers that have come in over the weekend.

That said, my preference in this market is to go active on Monday or Tuesday, hold at least one broker’s/public open during the week, and a public open on Saturday and Sunday.

Once the listing goes active in the Multiple Listing Service it will then start propagating to other real estate websites and be visible nationwide and worldwide. I will also showcase it on the main social media sites, print flyers for box on the signpost, and for the open houses.

The sign will go up very close to when the listing goes active; the post might go in a bit sooner.

The sign provides important marketing as it tells the neighbors and anyone driving by that a home is for sale. I always ask buyers how they found out about a listing, and while they usually say online, one day three quarters of the buyers said they drove by the sign and decided to stop in at the open house.

The goal is to hit all channels with a bang on the first day! ☺ Once the listing is active it will have a secure key box on the doorknob – this is unlocked via Bluetooth, usually from an application on the phone. The seller can opt to not have appointments. A vacant listing is much easier to sell as showing appointments do not need to be made. I will compile a report including how many brokers accessed the home and any feedback we get. This can be once a day or once a week, depending on your preference.

I would recommend asking for offers on the following Tuesday. If priced correctly, we will hopefully have multiple offers with escalations. I will organize them on a spreadsheet to present to you. The offers may come with escalations – these will start with the offer price and go up in increments. The most common increment is 5k, but sometimes a percentage is used which can actually win an offer, as it’s an odd amount – not the usual increment.

I encourage sellers to give buyers as much due diligence time as possible, and always take the approach that inspections allow for a clean and clear break when the home closes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have inspections. You may have heard that the strongest offers are sometimes thought of as all cash, no contingencies, but these may not properly protect the buyer or the seller.

Thus inspections are an important topic; I will detail four types of inspections:
– Inspection contingency upon offer acceptance: After an offer is accepted, the buyer will schedule a home inspection and probably a sewer inspection.
– Pre-inspection: Often used in multiple offer situations, these are done prior to the offer being submitted. I will schedule these if approved by the seller, and have a form signed which limits liability. These can be expensive when buyers have to put in more than one offer.
– Seller pre-inspection – The seller conducts an inspection and is party to the results.
– Third party pre-inspection – A newer concept, conducted by a firm such as Pillar and Post, uploaded to a web site and paid for by the buyers. Unseen by the sellers and brokers.

On the offer review date we should have a few offers to review – recently properly priced listings have had from ten to twenty offers. I will organize the main criteria on a spreadsheet for you to review. As we narrow down to the strongest, it is recommended that the seller writes “Respectfully declined at this time” on the weaker offers with the date and initials.

Love letters, a letter that buyers write about themselves to appeal to the seller’s emotions, are a trend in this market. Buyers want a seller to know more about them and sway their offer to float to the top, even if it might not be the strongest in other areas such as earnest money, down payment, type of mortgage).

We often put these aside as they can be a fair housing violation. This is the reason we don’t always look at love letters until after the matrix. Then we might take a peek at the letters associated with the top offers, as some sellers do want to know if a developer or family is buying their house.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in bringing on a new listing; call or write with any questions.

The Current Seattle Market

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Today I was perusing the newsfeed for the Ballard/Crown Hill neighborhood, and saw a question from a homeowner regarding the proliferation of letters she gets from developers and real estate brokers.

I answered it with this explanation:

I am a Realtor and have occasionally sent a letter to a property owner on behalf of a buyer. I have tried to create as personal a letter as possible and am currently working on one such project which is complicated but may be coming to fruition to the satisfaction of both parties.

First time homeowners, families moving up and people wanting to downsize are all having a difficult time with the transition as there is so little inventory on the market. Home owners who want to move are worried about selling as they are more worried about finding a new home. Additionally, interest rates are going up so those who are at 3.5% may need to go to 4.5% (generalistically).

That said, developers do target many properties in zoning that allows them to build the fourplexes as seen in Ballard. I researched one a couple of years ago on 24th, just north of 65th. The developer bought it directly for approximately 550k, took out a mortgage for over 1 million, and sold each of four for about 600k (I would have to do more research to find the exact details).

In a market such as we have in Seattle, we have far more demand than supply; one home in Broadview saw about 30 buyers through each open house and had 13 offers, despite needing all new windows, floors, cabinets, bathroom overhaul, etc.

Developers can make profits during this kind of a market.

Sellers can also make far more if they put the home on the market – many go up 100-200k. The home at 7750 9th Ave NW escalated:
List Pr: $575,000
Org LP: $575,000
SP%LP: 115.65%
Sold Pr: $665,000

Some of the home owners who receive these letters may not want to go through the process and see these letters as an easy way to move on.

Realtors will usually try to make the process as easy as possible by managing the details.

I could go on and on about this market as this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Meanwhile, know that many of the letters are from both developers and real estate brokers looking to buy either for development, investment or for bonafide buyers. Most real estate professionals will provide you with a free market analysis if you are interested.


February’s Offer on a Downtown Condominium

Snow on the Olympics behind the historical Bell Harbor Marina.

In January I put an offer on a condominium across the street from the Bell Harbor Marina and experienced the core Seattle market firsthand. We were the best of several offers, although during the escalation process we were asked to put in our “highest and best”. It was very competitive, according to the listing agent, as the other brokers were somewhat unrelenting in phone calls and emails. Our offer was stronger than the others because we had a large down payment, we were able to escalate, and, while we did include an inspection contingency, it was only two days. (Many offers are considered stronger without an inspection contingency, but this does not protect the buyer).

The process stayed interesting. During the inspection, my clients requested a mold inspection. The inspection was $600 dollars and took another four days, so we needed to write this up in the inspection response. This was a stressful waiting time for the sellers, but thankfully for everyone, there were no signs of mold that were unhealthy.

There was presence of Aureobasidium. It is a natural mold that is tracked in from the outdoors. I called Lance, from Northwest Restoration, and he assured me that so long as the mold content on the inside of the home is less than the outside, it is considered acceptable by various standards. It’s important to keep good ventilation in a home (as we all know), but he also recommended airing or “burping” a home periodically. Here in Seattle we have so many days of rain, even light rain, that residents keep their homes closed most of the winter. It is a good idea to open them up on those glorious sunny days that punctuate the rainy days.

As an aside, he pointed out that the “black” mold some people see in a house is not necessarily the black mold that is dangerous.

The inspector did notice that the washing machine showed signs of a leak from the door. We asked for a $700 credit at closing for a new washer, and it was accepted.

As inspections can be a sticky point, many sellers have started to do their own home and sewer inspections and offer them to the buyers. There is a service that will do an independent inspection that the seller won’t see, and upload for interested buyers to purchase for a nominal fee.

Another trend we are seeing is that some sellers are not allowing pre-inspections in order to level the playing field, so to speak. Many buyers have put in offers on more than one listing, and have had to pay the pre-inspection fee more than once. By not allowing a pre-inspection, that element is removed and when the strongest offer is accepted the buyer can then conduct an inspection.

I hope that by sharing this story I can educate you on what we are seeing in the Seattle marketplace, shed light on the offer and inspection process! Buying and selling a home is a bit of an adventure as there are always a few unknowns to navigate through in the future.

Appreciation Rates, Sales

New Newsy Links – see has been happening in real estate.

The most recent Northwest MLS Press Release

Click-here to see the latest appreciation chart of all neighborhoods.

Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know! These links are all supposed to update automatically!

The Multiple Listing Service gave us a new tool, “InfoSparks”! I ran a report using: Seattle, Residential, all price ranges: InfoSparks Report for “Seattle”



Queen Anne

Eastern Side of West Seattle

Central Part of West Seattle”>

Western Side of West Seattle


Port Townsend

Waterfront Properties North of Seattle

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Recently a gentleman asked me how much our waterfront homes north of Seattle sell for…I said I’d seen them as low as $500,000 – which was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

This does beg a question, or two, what is the definition of a waterfront home? Does one want a waterfront home with a dock, retaining wall, beach rights (clam and oyster digging), deep enough to moor a boat, low bank, and high bank?

How about railroad tracks? Many of our waterfront homes along the water are adjacent to railroad tracks. Some waterfront homes are on a pond or on a lake…this is all before the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and price.

If this will be a vacation rental or second home, does it need a vacation permit from the local government, as in the San Juan Islands? What is the definition of north of Seattle – five miles, ten miles, fifty miles?



I am somewhat familiar with waterfront as my father purchased a beautiful investment property along the California sea cliffs when I was in the late sixties. It was a Spanish style home on six acres. He developed a few acres of it after living there for a few years, sold it and moved to a condominium in Marina del Rey where he could see his sailboat in front of the living room windows. He then further retired to Kaanapali, on Maui, where his condominium had a nice view of the beach and lapping waves. Because of this, I have always tried to locate myself near water.

Waterfront north of Seattle could include neighborhoods of Shoreline, Richmond Beach, and Woodway. All of these are on or near the railroad tracks. Railroad tracks extend up to Everett and Canada.

I lived in Richmond Beach for a time and loved walking the beach. The trains came by regularly and I got accustomed to them. They didn’t have much reason to use their horns, as they do in other places where people often cross on the tracks.

I went to explore the beach near a property just south of Mukilteo, and found that the trail to the beach had been buried by a recent slide. This is indicative of several areas of high bank, beachfront property. The home I previewed sits high above the railroad tracks, and so might not have as much noise or visible distraction when the trains go by.

A beach community on the north end of Camano Island.

Due to the number of Native American tribal lands, listings north of Seattle may come with a lease or there may be a listing that specifically states it is fee simple property, even though it looks as if it’s on the reservation land. It’s important to read through the listing materials carefully and research it through the title company.

There are a few areas that are not on tribal land, but adjacent to or surrounded by tribal land, such as Mission Beach Drive. Just north of Everett, and west of Marysville, one listing sits on high bank on the south side of a little peninsula with a great view, has a large garage and tennis courts to the north, and a dock on the far north side (across the road), which is somewhat protected from the predominately south west winds. There is a little fence and the gate to the dock. The house needs a bit of updating. Here is a link: Mission Beach Drive

Warm Beach is an enclave of homes on the way to Stanwood from Mission Beach Drive. I found a little barn style house with a short retaining wall, right along the beach and west facing. According to the listing agent, some of the residents like the winter better as they see more wildlife and love how the light on the water is constantly changing. Here is a link: Warm Beach

The listing agent mentioned that the tide flats off the home are exposed during low tide; some of the boats are tied to buoys, while others use the launch site close.

Warm beach is in an unincorporated area of Snohomish County.

Moving on to Camano Island, a similar area with low bank is Madrona Beach. I walked by a little cottage that had been on the market for one day and went pending. The listing agent said it created quite a frenzy as one rarely sees anything at that low a price (425k): Madrona Beach

If one is looking for an area where one can moor one’s boat outside one’s window, the west side of Whidbey Island has a planned development called Lagoon Point. It was evidently created from a marsh back in the seventies. Here is an example of a listing that is just under 600k: Lagoon Point

Of course, when considering a waterfront home, it is also important to research taxes and buffer regulations (in case of building).

The properties near Snee-oosh Drive are on leases with tribe and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The lease is five to eight thousand dollars per fifty-foot lot per year and is fifty-year leases. This property is on a double lot and is a vacation property. The listing agent said serious buyers might ask for the financial history: Golden View Trail

It has been on the market a long time, partly because it has been challenging to get a mortgage due to the fact that is was originally modular. Academy Mortgage is now will to lend on it.

Shelter Bay is also leased land, just across the Swinomish Channel from La Connor. About 850 homes are on one lease. It is gated; I heard that the lease runs through 2044 and seems to be in negotiation for a 75-year extension. This is keeping prices low – half that of Anacortes.

Other leases are radically different – the least is $390, high $1190. Some have supplemental $80-90…plus the HOA of $115. One ends up with about $280 additional to the mortgage. That lease rate will probably change. Most of the owners don’t care what happens in 27 years as they have a beautiful home on beautiful property. There is a guard at the entrance, RV storage, and typically people leave for months and don’t worry about their homes.


If you don’t watch out, seagulls may steal your lunch

From here one can look in Anacortes, or north to Bellingham and Canada. I love Fidalgo Island near Deception Pass, and Sammish Island.

Appreciation Rates, Sales

New Newsy Links – see what has been happening in real estate.
Northwest MLS Press Release – January 5
Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know!
Click-here to see the November appreciation chart of all neighborhoods.
Queen Anne
Port Townsend

Discussion on Commission Rates

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With the sellers market, many sellers are looking for brokerages that offer a low commission. Many sellers think the home will sell itself due to the demand, and that the listing broker won’t have to do much.

This might be the best case scenario, however it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I am a broker with Coldwell Banker Bain, who is a traditional brokerage with a wonderful support team in each office. We have a transaction coordinator, front desk receptionist, two managing brokers with an open door policy, and a legal team. We have an office in just about every county where I can stop in and have client meetings.

If I did keep track of all of my hours, I would find that the hourly rate would probably be equal to the person who had a regular nine-to-five job. Much of my work is behind the scenes and includes driving to meetings, previewing the listing, working up a comparative market analysis, keeping track of active, sold and pending listings in the target neighborhood.

To keep track of the listings, I attend the broker’s opens to tour each one and follow it to see the final selling price.

When I have the listing, I usually open title with Rainier (our in-house firm), order professional photography, create flyers and input all to the Northwest Multiple Listing service (with the help of staff). When the date to go active is set, I order sign installation and schedule three open houses – one midweek for the broker’s open, Saturday and Sunday. I also often buy an advertising service that sends the listing out across the state. I put a lockbox on the house (these have gone up in price as they are all run by Bluetooth).

The goal is to expose the listing to as many buyers as possible, through all channels (including social media), to get as many people in the door as possible. This helps get as many offers as possible in by the offer review date, if one has been set.

I write a progress report after each open house, and keep sellers informed of any inquires and showings.

In this market, multiple offers are common when a home is priced correctly, and often presented via a spreadsheet. Ten offers might be an average on a very desirable listing. A strong offer could be all cash, no contingencies, although those can also backfire by not providing either side with much protection.

I have a spreadsheet to detail multiple offers.

Here are some of the variables:
Included Items
Earnest Money
Deferred (?)
Contingent Upon (?)
Closing Date
Possession Date
Financing Contingency
Type of Loan
Seller Contribution
Inspection Contingency
Title Review
Neighborhood Review
Continent or Subject to (?)
Remove Escalator?
Septic Inspection
Other Items (Appraisal, Commission)

The buyer’s agent is paid from the commission, or has an buyer’s agency agreement with the buyer to make up the difference in the commission if a low commission is offered. They might write-in a higher commission than what was offered.

Once we accept the offer, I create a timeline to keep track of the contingencies. For example, the inspection contingency is often ten days, title review five days, etc. I then keep in touch with all of the professionals in the transaction to see if the timelines are being met.

By the time all is said and done, and the commission is split (my office share is 50%, and my share a percentage of that), I feel that I have earned my keep.

This is also a good article which explains much:

The Latest Press Release from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

Mike Grady summarized our climate in the Northwest perfectly in yesterdays press release, which summarized the year-end climate and a bit of forecasting for 2017:

Grady believes the pattern of low inventory and increasing prices will continue. “We believe it is a
predictor for what to expect throughout 2017,” he commented. “There’s simply not enough new construction to fill the needs of new employees being hired both locally and new to the state. The key is employment,” Grady continued, saying “There’s no reason to think that a new administration will cause employment to slow down; rather, it’s more likely we’ll see it increase in the Puget Sound region so we’re off to another strong start in 2017,” he stated.

Read the full press release here:

November Market Flash

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Thanksgiving is is one of my favorite holidays because it is all about appreciating what we have in our friends, family and the wonderful environment around us. A couple of weeks ago I visited Port Townsend and took Watson for a run at North Beach, just adjacent to Fort Worden and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I just felt grateful to be there!

I’m also grateful that two of my listings closed last month and one just went pending.

Client reviews were positive, saying: “Andree is a very productive and creative agent. </em>” and “10/10 – Andree Hurley was a good communicator, competent, and very helpful. She was imaginative and showed initiative in helping me prepare for and execute the sale.”

Many thanks to my friends and clients who trust me with their real estate needs!
Everyone is wondering how the election results are going to affect our real estate market. I think it is a bit early to tell, although interest rates with our in-house mortgage lender, Julia Eaton (from Axia), did go uplast week. Some think this might also be attributed to securities. Julia did encourage current buyers to try to lock in their rates.

Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know! to see the appreciation chart of all neighborhoods in traditional format (through September).

Buying and Selling During the Holidays

For home buyers and sellers wanting to get settled in a new home in the new year, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are buying or selling during the holidays:

• It can be a great time to buy – With fewer buyers in the market and sellers ready to have closure by year end, there are opportunities to be had during the holidays. If you don’t like what is currently on the market, let’s scour the market for listings that were previously on the market as there was seller motivation earlier in the year.
• Stick to your list of needs – It is easy to let the emotion of the holiday overwhelm your good sense. Holiday décor and the smell of baked goods can make a property seem like a better fit than it truly is. Shop smart!
• Timing – The holidays can cause more challenges to your contract to closing timeline than you may think. From federal holidays to people being out of the office on vacation, your closing deadline may be delayed. It is best to plan ahead and let your entire team know about your expectations and timeline so everyone can be on the same page. I can help you with this type of communication.

• It can be a great time to sell – Although there may be fewer buyers out, the buyers who are out are usually serious and ready to buy. Also, with visitors from out of town, someone considering a relocation may just have the time on their hands to look for homes during their vacation. There may also be fewer sellers to contend with because some will have taken their homes off the market for the holidays. Finally, buyers who may have more time on their hands may be spending more time on the internet in their home search.
• Going out of town can make home selling easy – It is easiest to show your home if you are not in it. Let me take care of the details!
• Don’t go too crazy with the holiday décor – It is easy to add layers of holiday decorations on top of what is already in your home such as moving the couch just a little closer to the other living room furniture or cramping the stockings on the mantle. Avoid overwhelming clutter during the holidays and take out more than what you add. You want the space appearing bigger, not smaller.
• Be clear about your timeline – If you get an offer on your home, be grateful, but also realistic. If the buyers are looking for a close date between Christmas and New Year’s, think about what this means for your holiday plans.
The holidays provide an amazing opportunity for both buyers and sellers, but don’t get carried away. If you are thinking about a move, let’s strategize now. Give me a call or text: (206) 669-1622 or email:

November News, Giving Thanks

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Giving Thanks

dsc_3634watsonNorth Beach, Port Townsend
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is one of my favorite holidays because it is all about appreciating what we have in our friends, family and the wonderful environment around us. A couple of weeks ago I visited Port Townsend and took Watson for a run at North Beach, just adjacent to Fort Worden and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I just felt grateful to be there!

I’m also grateful that two of my listings closed last month and one just went pending.

Client reviews were positive, saying: “Andree is a very productive and creative agent. ” and “10/10 – Andree Hurley was a good communicator, competent, and very helpful. She was imaginative and showed initiative in helping me prepare for and execute the sale.”

Many thanks to my friends and clients who trust me with their real estate needs!

Everyone is wondering how the election results are going to affect our real estate market. I think it is a bit early to tell, although interest rates with our in-house mortgage lender, Julia Eaton (from Axia), did go uplast week. Some think this might also be attributed to securities. Julia did encourage current buyers to try to lock in their rates.

Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know!

Click-here to see the appreciation chart of all neighborhoods in traditional format (through September).



Queen Anne


Buying and Selling During the Holidays

For home buyers and sellers wanting to get settled in a new home in the new year, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are buying or selling during the holidays:


• It can be a great time to buy – With fewer buyers in the market and sellers ready to have closure by year end, there are opportunities to be had during the holidays. If you don’t like what is currently on the market, let’s scour the market for listings that were previously on the market as there was seller motivation earlier in the year.

• Stick to your list of needs – It is easy to let the emotion of the holiday overwhelm your good sense. Holiday décor and the smell of baked goods can make a property seem like a better fit than it truly is. Shop smart!

• Timing – The holidays can cause more challenges to your contract to closing timeline than you may think. From federal holidays to people being out of the office on vacation, your closing deadline may be delayed. It is best to plan ahead and let your entire team know about your expectations and timeline so everyone can be on the same page. I can help you with this type of communication.


• It can be a great time to sell – Although there may be fewer buyers out, the buyers who are out are usually serious and ready to buy. Also, with visitors from out of town, someone considering a relocation may just have the time on their hands to look for homes during their vacation. There may also be fewer sellers to contend with because some will have taken their homes off the market for the holidays. Finally, buyers who may have more time on their hands may be spending more time on the internet in their home search.

• Going out of town can make home selling easy – It is easiest to show your home if you are not in it. Let me take care of the details!

• Don’t go too crazy with the holiday décor – It is easy to add layers of holiday decorations on top of what is already in your home such as moving the couch just a little closer to the other living room furniture or cramping the stockings on the mantle. Avoid overwhelming clutter during the holidays and take out more than what you add. You want the space appearing bigger, not smaller.

• Be clear about your timeline – If you get an offer on your home, be grateful, but also realistic. If the buyers are looking for a close date between Christmas and New Year’s, think about what this means for your holiday plans.

The holidays provide an amazing opportunity for both buyers and sellers, but don’t get carried away. If you are thinking about a move, let’s strategize now. Give me a call or text: (206) 669-1622 or email:

Happy Halloween…

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A view of Mount Si adjacent to the Three Forks Off-Leash Dog Park

Here in the northwest it seems as if Halloween is the transition into holiday season and a time to reflect on the current year and prepare for next year.

I have plenty to celebrate as two of my listings closed and I have two to look forward to in the near future. Preparing a home for sale is never easy. It seems first there is the contemplative period of deciding whether or not to sell. After the decision to sell, there is the process of deciding what to do to get the home ready.

In some cases, the home may be an investment property and have tenants – selling a home with tenants in it opens up more questions considering lease agreements, tenants rights and marketing, to name a few.

If the home will be occupied by the tenants or owners, how will showings occur? It is much better to allow showings without an appointment, and to allow open houses, for the best exposure.

Next, how much work to put into the house? What will be the return on investment? In this seller’s market, neutral but contrasting colors are recommended, keeping in mind that the buyer might have completely different tastes. The buyer needs to be able to see their vision when they walk into a listing. Taking up or replacing carpets, redoing floors, even changing out countertops can bring more value to a point – in the end, the market will be the final judge on price.

Looking at the Seattle home price index, we have surpassed the high we had ten years ago in 2007. It has been a seller’s market and it could continue into next year considering Seattle’s economy is strong. Real estate trends seem to run in ten year cycles; we are moving into 2017 and according to the index, those who bought in 2007 have recovered their equity as prices are higher now than they were then. The question is, will the prices remain high or will we see a correction?

It could be a good time to sell, with interest rates being at a low.
Home Price Index
Mortgage Rate Chart

Of course, being an election year also brings challenges and the potential for changes…in the couple of weeks leading up to the election, there seems to be a bit of a lull, prompting some experts to say it is a good time to buy.

Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, looking at your own needs and goals in the short and long term will help to make some of these decisions.

Please contact me for a complimentary market analysis to help you make some of these difficult decisions.

September News; Fall is Here!

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September News; Fall is Here!

Gold Creek Pond
Gold Creek Pond, Snoqualmie Pass

While I love living and working in Seattle, it makes me happy to have remote vacation property listings in beautiful places. The other day I drove to Snoqualmie Pass to support Search and Rescue, and not only checked on a lockbox at my Gold Creek listing but walked around Gold Creek Pond; literally a breath of fresh air!

Active listings in August reached the same level as last year, and based on my buyer’s feed, maintained that level or went up a bit – we will see when the statistics are crunched in October. Both pending and the absorption rate went up a bit as well. Historically things quiet down towards the end of year with winter settling in and the holidays.

Active, Pending and Absorption Rate
Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know!

Click-here to see the appreciation chart of all neighborhoods in traditional format.



Queen Anne


Remodeling – Windows, Paint and More

Do you have a home you are fixing up to sell or perhaps to rent as an investment property? Either way, you may have some common goals.

The importance of creating a neutral environment is important to each, as is using quality products. In both cases you are probably interested in getting the best product for the least money.

Windows fall into both of these categories – and into a third, the home you have chosen to live in. Many older homes have metal framed, double-paned, windows and because a seal in a double-paned window is old, the window might have a fog problem. Single-paned windows have little to no insulation and also let in sound.

We had a segment on windows and doors during a monthly course I attend and our guest speaker was a representative from Westeck Windows and Doors. I have to admit at the beginning I had a rather ho-hum attitude, but by the end I was excited about the product!

Westeck has developed a manufacturing system which produces high quality, innovated and low cost windows which can transform a house. With the trend towards bringing the outside in, they have both doors and windows which can range to eighteen feet – as a matter of fact they just installed eighteen foot, double-paned windows along the railroad tracks in Bellingham and they are so sound proof one can hardly hear the trains. Nice if one is a train buff, but also love the views of Lummi Island and the Salish Sea!

They also install corner windows which can make a room look larger. Instead of sliding or Nano doors they use a stackable frame system, and encourage homeowners to use a similar flooring inside and outside to create a sense of space.

We have all heard that aluminum windows installed in homes attract black mold (which cause illnesses), and that the fog may accrue on the inside due to the failure of the spacer. Westeck makes aluminum windows but use a warm-edge super spacer to alleviate this problem. If one looks at their windows carefully, they have a grey bar inside which doesn’t allow for condensation.

That said, they offer Vinyl and Vinyl combination windows that look like wood, have less maintenance, and are less expensive.

They use airborne paint and can redo some existing windows by putting them into their machine where cleaning, paint and Vinyl become one. Their black paint doesn’t heat up more than white paint do to the process.

When asked about skylights, they did say they use Columbia Skylights, another Canadian company. In this case they recommend aluminum, which are the strongest, especially for snow load.

They can also match the window color to your home’s color, which then turned the conversation to paint colors.

Some colors age a house. Color is out, neutral is in. Taupe and beige are out, grey and white in. Especially when selling or renting, one wants a modern, clean minimalistic look.

2016 Benjamin Color of the year is Simply White with a trim of Revere Pewter

When it came to kitchens, we reviewed Candice Olson’s Favorite Wall Colors – the main message was contrast.

Glossy is out; it’s the quality that counts for wiping down walls. The older the house, the older the drywall, the gloss is unforgiving…but matt is forgiving.

Test the paint for three days. Use oversize samples or order paint sheets. Always start with a simulator and finish with a wall test. Use paint boards and move them. Always use primer and don’t cheap out on one coat.

Thinking about fixtures? Polished chrome goes with everything.

When renovating laundry and powder rooms, one doesn’t to need pay for a slab, buy two slabs….but don’t assume because they are the same name they are the same color… whoever accepts the slab is responsible for color matching.

When using tile, go with porcelain instead of ceramic, as ceramic breaks on impact.

That’s about it for remodeling investment properties and keeping costs down if fixing up a hom for sale…some of these ideas can also be used if you are planning on staying in your home for a long time, but in that case you are freer to go wild in keeping with your own tastes!

Seattle Market Update

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Summer is in full swing and I was excited to be invited by the skipper of the boat I sail on in Duck Dodge (The Ignitor) to crew in Whidbey Race Week! I must admit we didn’t have much wind, but it was a lovely week with wonderful people. I hope you are also having a fun and enjoyable summer!

ActiveJuneOnce again we have data this month for the previous month (June) from Barbara Sanders, in our office, and Rainier Title. Following this year’s light blue line, we can see that active listings have still have been on the increase.

SoldPendingJunePending listings peaked in May and showed a slight drop in June, while the absorption rate took a swing – up in March, down in April, up May, and even lower in June. PercentActivePendingJuneThe higher this number, the more of a seller’s market we have, while the lower tends towards a buyer’s market.

Through attending the weekly sales meetings in my office on Monday mornings, I have heard many brokers report higher days on the market and price reductions in more expensive listings.

As one might expect, there is a lot of action in certain price points such as the 300-500k range. Two listings I had scheduled open houses for went pending before the offer review date, as the sellers were so inundated with offers.

Taking the first offer can result in a lower price than waiting for all the offers to come in. It may seem confusing to a seller but the offers can be presented on a spreadsheet, which simplifies them (see below). This usually will get a better price for a seller.

Overpricing has been a bit of a trend in this seller’s market but tends to backfire as brokers and their buyers are very savvy. Overpricing generally brings a lower price in the long run than a properly priced listing.

Considering the above charts are for the whole of King County, I generated graphs in our Matrix program for active and sold numbers in Magnolia, Queen Anne and Broadview:

By the way, the multiple offer spreadsheet also works on the buying side – it is a good guide to what ducks one needs to have in a row for a strong offer. For example, many sellers will look at the lender as a partner in an offer wondering if the lender will be responsive to timelines. For this reason I recommend mortgage brokers I have worked with who are local. More likely than not, a local lender will understand what is going on in our market better than, say, a lender on the other side of the country. I had a situation where a buyer contacted a lender of a national institution on the front-end, but the person we ended up working with on the back-end was on the other side of the country and so didn’t know the local market. In that case we had to ask for an extension on closing (a bit scary in this competitive market).

Contact me for more information, I would love to help you buy a new home or sell your current home so that you can upgrade or downsize!

Appreciation Rates

On to the appreciation rates from Rainier!

Click here to see the reports! I’ve uploaded both the synopsis and the full reports for King, Puyallup and Snohomish counties. Many buyers are looking outside King county as prices are so high and the demand so great.

Thank you for reading; I hope you enjoy the great weather!

Investment Properties

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16 Important Considerations You Must Make When Investing in Real Estate

Investing in real estate can be one of the most lucrative investment vehicles available today. It can also turn into a financial nightmare if you do not do your investment homework first. Before you even think about investing in real estate you need to think about the following 16 points that I advise investors to follow.

Real estate investing is a wonderful tool to achieve financial freedom. If you do your homework, invest wisely, take emotions out of your decisions and plan carefully, you will reap financial rewards. I hope the following points give you the confidence you need to take the leap into the lucrative world of real estate investing.

There are three important categories that must be analyzed when purchasing real estate and they are……….



Financial Side


1. ZONING – Never purchase any investment property until you determine the zoning of your potential property and your neighbor’s property. Your property’s value is directly affected by the surrounding properties. When you check the zoning, be sure to check the surrounding properties as well.

2. AREA APPRECIATION – Check to make sure that the area where you are considering purchasing has had a steady and consistent appreciation growth of at least 7% per year for the last 5 years on average. You do not want to buy in an area that has already peaked.

3. POPULATION GROWTH – Is the area where you are considering purchasing an area where people are moving in? The easiest way to track this is to check population growth numbers. Where there is growth – there is opportunity.

4. DO BABY BOOMERS WANT TO LIVE HERE? The country has an incredible number of baby boomers; therefore invest in an area where baby boomers want to live. Baby boomers want a lot of recreational possibilities as well as easy access to good health care facilities.

5. OWNER OCCUPIED – Is the neighborhood where you are thinking of buying primarily owner occupied or tenant occupied? Homeowners, that live in their homes, invest more money to fix them up than do renters. Remember, your property’s value is also determined by its neighbors.

6. NEIGHBORHOOD APPRECIATION – Before you buy in any neighborhood make sure you research the sales in that neighborhood for the past 5 years. Check to see how that neighborhood has appreciated.

7. EMPLOYMENT STABILITY – Without question, one of the biggest factors that affect a local real estate market is the job market. You could be in the nicest recreational area in the world, but if there are no jobs, people leave because they have to find work. Check to make sure that employment in that area has been stable over time.

8. PROPERTY MANAGERS – Make sure that there is a property management company that can manage the property in the area where you are choosing to purchase. Many investors have gone on real estate shopping sprees only to find that there is not a property management company available in that area. This poses a huge problem for the out-of-area investor.


9. FLOORPLAN – Floorplan is more important that square footage. Of course it would be wonderful to find an investment that is both large in square footage and perfect in floorplan. However, this does not happen often. If you find a house that lacks a little in square footage but shines in floorplan, buy it. Renters look for properties by price and by bedrooms. They don’t search for square footage. Having the right numbers of bedrooms is more important than having the biggest bedrooms.

10. YARD – Often times people come with children and with pets and both of these need room to roam. Many investors that I have consulted have shared their horror stories about not being able to rent out the big beautiful house with no yard. Big beautiful houses are filled with children and pets. Even a small yard will help keep your property occupied year round.

11. INSPECTION/AGE OF THE HOUSE Never, ever, ever buy an investment property without having a thorough inspection of the house. Make sure the inspector gives you a good age range for the home and make sure you check the electrical wiring and plumbing thoroughly. Old pipes and wiring can be extremely expensive the replace. Make sure the mechanical side of your investment is not so old that you may be looking at a costly replacement in the near future.

12. THE 10% RULE – One of the easiest ways to make money on your investment is to do a cosmetic makeover. A good rule of thumb is “The 10% rule”. This means that if you purchase a house for $150,000, take 10% of that or $15,000 and you should be able to do a nice cosmetic makeover within that budget. If, however, you have to spend a good portion of that money on the mechanical side, not the cosmetic side then you may want to look at another property.

13. RENTAL STABILITY – Remember, if you buy a 1 bedroom condo you are definitely limiting the different segments of the rental market that can rent from you. If you purchase a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family residence you have just expanded your rental possibilities. Just because the condo is $50,000 less does not mean it will be a better investment. In fact, you often have to go a little above your comfort zone to get a highly sought-after rental property. The stretch is well worth it!

14. COMPARING RENTAL RATES – It is imperative that you know what the rental market is like in your area. Before you buy a rental property, make sure that you know what similar properties are renting for and how long they are taking to rent. Call a property management company and ask if they do opinions of rental value. Many of them do in hopes of getting your business.


15. THE FINANCIAL SNAPSHOT – You must do a financial analysis of the property. What will your net operating income be? This is the total amount that you will receive from owning this property (rental payment). Also make sure you know what your total expenses will be. (Mortgage payments, principle, interest, taxes, insurance, utilities, neighborhood association dues, etc.) Your net income less your expenses equals your gross spendable income. This will tell you whether the property gives you a positive or a negative cash flow. Don’t be alarmed if it is a negative cash flow because your capital appreciation potential may be so great that having to financially feed the property for a few years would be OK.

16. SELLER FINANCING – Always, always, always ask for seller financing if you can get it. WHY? Because you can often get better terms, better rates and save on loan origination fees.

The best advice I can give a new investor is to put together a team of experts to help you. You should be working with a good inspector, a good mortgage broker, a good contractor and most importantly a good real estate agent who truly understands investment real estate. (Do not just settle for a real estate agent that sells residential homes. If you are going to invest, you need an investment specialist). Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always, always, always do your investment homework.

Low Listing Inventory in Seattle’s Real Estate Market

Residential Active Listings April 2016

We are still seeing low to the  lowest inventory in the Seattle market. As pictures say a thousand words, I am showcasing the the three charts which show the current climate. The absorption rate, or percentage of active listings that have gone pending is at 120%. How can that be? There was so little new inventory in April, that many of the homes that were on the market in past months have gone pending.

Average days on the market in Seattle are from seven to ten days, with open houses often seeing up to forty groups through, and up to twenty competitive offers with escalation clauses. One home near Broadview and Bitterlake had seven offers, with the highest being an offer from a California buyer who bought it sight-unseen.
Residential Sold Pending April 2016Another home was purchased by a buyer who offered $2,000 over what any other offer brought in. Evidently the sky was the limit for that buyer!

There are all sorts of tactics and strategies at play in the market.

On the selling side, it is important to price a home reasonably. Some sellers think that pricing high gives room to negotiate, but it has been shown through research that an overpriced listing brings in less profit than a reasonably priced listing.


Some listings are underpriced and when this is done intentionally to encourage a bidding war, can incur fines through our multiple listing service. Reasonably priced listings will still see some bidding (such as an eBay environment) in this market.

Residential Percent of Active Inventory Sold Pending April 2015

To arrive at a price range, I always research a neighborhood thoroughly – with the advent of the internet, there are so many statistics available to us it is possible to narrow down a price range accurately.

I also drive through the neighborhood and tour any active and pending homes. As it often will take a seller from one to six months to prepare their home to be sold, this is usually enough time to present research so that my clients can make an informed decision.

Configuration and condition of the home also needs to be considered. For example, some buyers will want a master on the main, while others may want three bedrooms and a bathroom (or two) upstairs. The latter seems to be in more demand.

I was at a get-together in Canada last month, and one of the guests was another Realtor. The host asked, casually, what is my home worth? The Realtor said, “While I am not prepared to answer this question now, I’ll ask you how old is your roof, water heater, heating system, and electrical? Have you updated your kitchen or any of the rooms?”

If you are thinking of selling your house, consider your potential market and what they may be looking for.

For buyers, I recommend looking at least ten percent below what you are qualified or prepared to pay. I recently had clients who were looking up to nine hundred thousand dollars in cash, but we were looking in the seven to eight hundred thousand dollar range so we would be prepared to escalate.

Additionally, many buyers are waiving their contingencies such as financing and inspection – this is a very risky game to play which I don’t recommend.

Contact me for more information, I would love to help you buy a new home or sell your current home so that you can upgrade or downsize!

Duck Dodge Schedule

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Ignitor400px I am continuing my journey into sailing through attending Duck Dodge again this year on the Ignitor. A fellow sailer posted this image of us to Facebook and I love the how we are sailing blissfully past my the Space Needle, the busy cranes and my office!




Here is the Duck Dodge schedule, important as one needs to know the theme for the evening:
May 10th Committee Appreciation Night
May 17th Ugly Sweater Night
May 24th Skippers Choice Night
May 31th Star Wars Night
June 7th Wild West Night
June 14th Hip Hop Night (anything 90’s)
June 21st Pirate Night
June 28th Prom Night
July 5th Red, White, and Blue Night
July 12th Race week (no Duck Dodge)
July 19th X-mas in July Night
July 26th Toga Night
August 2nd Fleet Week (Military Appreciation Night)
August 9th Tropical Night
August 16th Mardi Gras Night
August 23rd Pajama Night
August 30th Pink Boat Regatta
September 6th Committee ReAppreciation / Dead Presidents
Rum Run

Sail Race Results

April Real Estate Report

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Ci Ci and WatsonI love Broadview as it is quiet, friendly and just a few minutes down 3rd Avenue to Ballard, Greenwood and Fremont. As my fourteen year-old dog, Ci Ci, doesn’t go far, I walked my younger dog, Watson, around the neighborhood tonight and met at least five others doing the same thing. The gardens were in bloom, I could hear birds singing in the trees and the clouds surrounding the Olympics were dramatic over the water!

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service April press release came out today and gave a summary of the market in March. March saw less inventory than ever with more escalating prices. That said, many of us commented in our sales meeting today that we are seeing more inventory coming on the market now; while we can’t pre-market our own listings, I know of two homes going on the market in the next couple of weeks, and some of our brokers announced listings coming up by the end of the week in the core Seattle neighborhoods.

Click here to read the press release.

The Rainier Title Market Flash came out in late March with the February statistics so I waited to send it out with this early April report. While some neighborhoods such as Ballard/Wallingford are showing a negative appreciation (205 new listings, 183 closed sales) of -5.7%, Magnolia/Queen Anne/Lake Union (95 new listings, 75 closed sales) shows about 19.4%. West Seattle (140 new listings, 122 closed sales) is showing 28.6% appreciation. Central and downtown Tacoma reads 46% appreciation – it is going strong thanks to the port agreement and the enhancing of the infrastructure.

The more detailed appreciation report by Rainier Title is also available at the same link below. This is organized by zip code rather than by neighborhood. Broadview, or 98177, is a neighborhood I follow as I live there and it had the following data:

5 closed sales in February vs. 9 last year with a -44% change, a median $667,500 sales price vs $660,000 last year. The median sales price went from $684,500 to $634,000, or -7%.

Click this link and see what is happening in your zip code!

One other way of looking at this is by a chart generated by our office:
Residential Percent Active Inventory Sold Pending February 2016

On a lighter side, here are more articles to read regarding real estate:
Going to New Heights to Please Buyers
Opulent Staircases
Stage Your Home for the Millennial Buyer
The Best Colors to Use When Staging Your Home
See the “Newsy Links” page for more of the latest real estate related links!

Landscape Design

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Landscape design and gardening are very close to my heart. It all started when my father bought a beautiful property on the sea cliffs of California. The home was a large Spanish style affair made from adobe. It was surrounded by fuchsia, bougainvillea, rose gardens and needed a lot of weeding. Cleverly, he tied my allowance to gardening and then encouraged me to study horticulture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, which I did. Landscape design was my favorite class and when I went back to college later (to the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington) I picked up several clients which helped me pay for my schooling. In some cases I worked on garden maintenance and in other cases I was fortunate to be able to redesign their yards.

I recently joined the Master Gardener program to update my skills and learn new things – mostly about organic gardening, composting and worm bins! However Saturday I attended a continuing education course by Bruce Bennett called Simple Garden Design Concepts for Clinics and Ourselves and was reminded of the main principles in landscape design. Here is a synopsis:

We have the big five of design: Balance, contrast, repetition, rhythm, and focal point.

Balance gives equilibrium, harmony, and stability. One large shrub vs. three small shrubs can be balanced as we look for weight with negative/positive spaces.

We don’t want to try too hard to achieve balance unless want a formal garden which can look contrived.

Contrast is the easiest concept. For example, we can harmonize with different shades of green or different colors.

Repetition creates cohesiveness. Repeat colors in different plants or use same plants over again. Roses can be a vignette of different species.

Rhythm and flow control the movement of the eye. We can highlight or obscure an area using plant material such as grasses which provide movement and sound.

Put the tallest plants in the back to draw eye up or frame a view. Introduce low cover with taller plants (I remember that we need two-thirds fine ground cover to balance a tree with large leaves).

Paths and hardscape can be designed to appear and disappear – this lends a mystery to what is in the back. A straight path indicates we just want to “get there and get it done”.

A focal point os the first place the eye lands – an arbor or bench; it gives eye a place to rest. Sheds, sculptures, or plants can be focal points but they need interest throughout the year. Evergreens can work well or certain Japanese maples with beautiful bark and branching structure.

Plant odd numbers as even numbers indicate formality – if one dies you will notice.

My favorite part of landscape design is the beginning – taking the plan of the home on the property and drawing in all of the main features that are staying – mature trees and shrubs, patios and the driveway. Sketch in the placement of windows and doors and figure out what views to enhance or hide. Draw in the various use areas and paths of travel.

From here, begin to add trees – deciduous if shade is needed in summer, evergreen to block a few or provide year long interest. Add in any landscaping curves or beds.

Choose plant materials – will the garden be full of natives or would species from other countries work? In the Northwest we can pull from other similar climates – is the yard shady and rainy or is it south facing and hot (such as those on Phinney Ridge). I’ve seen everything from Italian style gardens to those that use palm trees as a focal point.

When I studied in San Luis Obispo we use many plants from Australia and Africa such as eucalyptus and a variety of colorful flowers and bushes.

It takes a bit of time but I suggest drawing the plan and then working on it a little bit at a time, month by month.

I love visiting the University of Washington Arboretum as within an hour I can enjoy various styles of gardens with plant materials from around the world.

TomasGarden This is a garden surrounding a home one my real estate clients purchased in Kingston. It was designed over three years by the previous owner and fits in well with the surrounding forest.

Alan Pope and Appraisals

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I attended a talk by Alan Pope, a well respected appraiser in Washington state. He is also known for his charting of inventory and real estate predictions as he has been in the business for over forty years.

Many real estate brokers complain about low appraisals in this
market, but he asks “is it a low appraisal or an over zealous buyer”.
When the offer comes in above list – is it undo duress or is the buyer
forced to acquire above market so can have a piece of the pie.

He is not saying that the appraiser is correct or incorrect…but
appraisal and market value may not be the same.

He first goes in to define a neighborhood, looks at the MLS listing,
steps into the market place, and reviews the sold and pending listings.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set up guidelines. If an appraiser steps
out of the guidelines they need to explain why.

What is a neighborhood? Most neighborhoods are defined by boundaries
but may also have similar features.

Condition of property. Unique Identification numbers UID and the Frank Dodd act come into play.

Here are some of the guidelines:

C1 – Research online.

C2 – A home can be up to 10 years old and be C2 – a home is always
staged for resale.

C3 – Does’t require repair but is older.

C4 – Deck and roof near end of life – carpets need cleaning

C5 – Bad – roof at end, deck rotting, dry rot, some appliances don’t
work – need repairs. Fix first then it will be a C4.

C6 – Really bad, no mortgage.

One can see comparables for gross and net adjustments.

There is an opportunity to tweak adjustments – guidelines are 15-20%.

Time adjustments need to be supported – for example, if a comparable
is over six months old, the appraiser needs to explain why they used

The average appraiser does not have a degree in literature…they are
required to support their adjustments but it may not be in flowery

Appraised value has an algorithm – real estate brokers see this in the
Realist report or the Zillow reports.

He pointed out that real estate brokers, fee appraiser and REALTORS®
inspect the subject property and then we present our marketing and show comparables.

He suggests asking a seller if they want a personal touch or a mass appraisal?

There is the impact of a rising market and multiple offers in
appraisals – appraisers need to see the data. He suggests taking the
lockbox off after an offer is accepted.

Be diligent with the appraiser (ask him what he drinks).

Give him the most recent Purchase and Sale agreement – this may be
after the roof was replaced.

Have the architect’s floor plan for him – roll them out in the table –
this will help with measuring the interior and exterior walls. This may work for
a 300k remodel.

If it is an exotic wood floor be sure to tell the appraiser.

Are there any other important site characteristics?

Call all the pending listings and trade Purchase and Sale agreements if possible.

Appraisers are running at ninety miles an hour as want to make money.
They have overhead and charge maybe fifty dollars an hour (the plumber gets more).

We are usually biased to the transaction.

Give accurate, truthful, but not misleading data for the appraisal – if
appraisal is off, ask for a new appraisal. If lender says no, don’t
use the lender again.

Let’s say there are eighteen offers – the highest is FHA with three
percent down – would you accept it? Highest isn’t the best – want it
at at least fifteen percent. The seller wants the buyer who has twenty
percent down and more money to pay equity down.

Are cash buyers hurting appraisals? The appraiser needs to do more work.

Was a listing sold off market? He has his appraisers go door knocking so they can
see the inside of the house.

For-sale-by-owners are hard as we don’t know condition inside.

Confirm the sale – look in the tax record – use it but explain what
happens. If can’t use it explain why.

What about appraiser pools? Larger banks have a firewall between them and the bank – Appraisal Management Companys (AMC).

AMC pleases client (the bank) by being cheap and low. They have a pool
of appraisers that they use.

In the eighties appraisals were needed for home equity loans. Then we
had the collapse in banking so everything is scrutinized more carefully.

Appraisals also go to a database and are cross checked.

While an appraisal seems fairly obvious up front, it was interesting to hear from Alan what goes on behind the scenes. We never know who is going to show up and so have to be prepared.

I have a great example from two listings I had over the summer. They were three doors down from each other and on a golf course.

The first listing went pending, the appraiser came over, was quite pleasant and returned a favorable appraisal above list.

The second listing went pending and the appraiser called me and began picking apart most everything he could find online (including that the clients had asked me to keep their contact information and names confidential). He came by and did his walk-through, I gave him my comparables and he left. A few days later I found out that underwriting was being held up and so called the lender. The buyer’s lender not helpful so I called the appraiser (as I had gotten his card) and he said that the backyard deck needed handrails. I suggested there was no deck, only a cement slab in the backyard. He disagreed.

I called my client and asked her to text me a picture of the 4’x6′ slab, which she did, and I texted it to him. He apologized for using a different listing’s image, fixed the error and we moved on to closing but with a one day extension. He appraised the home for less than when it was purchased by my clients the year before, but over list.

Adding Alan’s perspective into previous experience and knowledge will be a real asset. I’m grateful to the Womens’ Council of REALTORS® for sponsoring the talk!