Condominium Open House Today! Queen Anne, South Lake Union

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I’m excited about my condominium open house in Alterra – it is directly above my office with wonderful views of Lake Union!

This condominium has two bedrooms and two full baths. It is on the top floor of the building with unobstructed views of Lake Union. The upper floor of the building is fully air conditioned which was a great relief on an eighty degree day in August.

This unit has only had one owner since the building was built in 1999 and has been very well kept up – even the beige plush carpeting is spotless.

The Alterra currently has a 74% owner-occupied to rented ratio.

South Lake Union is a buzzing culture thanks to Paul Allen, Amazon, the Gates Foundation and many other high-tech and bio-tech firms!

Each condominium building has it’s own culture and amenities, and if you are like one of my clients, you may be looking for one that is not only dog friendly but has a dog walking and bathing area.

I previewed a condominium in the Olive 8 (a dog friendly building) which just came on the market. It is a one bedroom, one bath and is in a tower of ten which have views of the Puget Sound. It is on the same floor as the dog walking area and deck – so no more wandering down to the street level when one gets home at eleven o’clock! The Olive 8 is a bit of walk to South Lake Union but the downtown Trolly is just a few blocks away.

The Enso is a very popular building as well – a bit more expensive and in demand. It is located in the Denny Triangle right across the street from Whole Foods – if you are like me, you will be wandering across the street to the hot bar when you are busy, or picking up groceries for the gourmet dinner you will be cooking that night.

The Enso is dog friendly – I was previewing one condo and passed a professional dog walker with two Labradoodles going up the elevator – it doesn’t have a dog walking area but it seems this dog walker has a lot of clients in the building.

Ballard Place is a fair ways from South Lake Union but it is an easy commute by bus or bike. I bring it up as it is dog friendly, has a concierge during working hours and a beautiful roof deck with Pea Patch containers for gardening. It also has an area for bike and kayak storage.

Many buildings will have a dedicated storage closet for each unit and dedicated parking spots, although there is a trend towards new buildings with no parking at all. This concept cites the trend for walking, biking or bussing as a commuting alternative.

It is important to do your “due diligence” and look at the CC and R’s (as we call them – convenants, conditions and restrictions). These will spell out all the rules and some of them are very important.

For example, each building will have a rule concerning rentals – this is called the “rental cap”. While some buildings allow no rentals (a bonus for some), others have no “cap” – any and all units can be rented. Sometimes there may be a waiting period before a new owner can rent. There can be a minimum lease period, screening of the tenant and a need to inform the management.

An HOA can put forth a change to the CC&R’s and rental cap but it would need to be approved by the ownership. It doesn’t mean they could enact one in the future but it would require a vote and approval by the ownership. This process and the percentages needed will be spelled out in the resale certificate/CC&R’s.

Other important items to note are the reserves, any special assessments and the strength of the HOA (home owners association).

Each building will have monthly dues – sometimes these are based on the square footage of the condominium. These dues will cover various things but usually cover water, sewer, garbage, earthquake insurance, common area maintenance and sometimes cover WiFi, basic cable and other amenities.

Dues that are not immediately used for the above are put into the reserves and saved for large expenditures such as painting the building. If there are not enough reserves for a big project, the HOA might ask for a special assessment for the project.

The strength of the HOA refers to a few different situations – it could refer to the amount of money in the reserves or the amount of involvement by the board. Some HOA’s are sticklers about following the rules and others are very loose – this can also change with the board.

Condominiums are not the only entities that have an HOA – many houseboats are “fee simple” and the dock will have an HOA (while others are often cooperatives). Housing developments can also have an HOA (and may or may not allow rentals).

 

 

 

Seattle Neighborhood Appreciation Rates

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Rainier Market Snapshot- Appreciation by Zips- recap thru September 2014_HurleySingleDigitalEach month Rainier Title sends us the previous month’s appreciation rates. In September Crown Hill real estate appreciated 15% and West Queen Anne/Green Lake/Phinney/Wallingford at 14%. Following these were Magnolia and Lake City/Northgate by 12%.

These numbers substantiate the demand we are seeing for homes in and around Seattle. The competition is still high for new listings with multiple offers and escalations.

If you are preparing to put an offer on a home, be sure to give yourself enough room to escalate. Be pre-approved or even underwritten for a to-be-determined address and customize a nice letter to the seller (some want to see these, others don’t).

Less contingencies also make your offer stronger. For example, if you can get a pre-inspection and then waive the inspection contingency your offer will be more likely to float to the top. However, this can get expensive if you are making many offers and some sellers don’t allow this.

Another contingency is the financing contingency. Again, you do want to be pre-approved. There is a little room built in to change lenders however this should be used carefully.

The neighborhood review is another contingency – try to satisfy your needs in advance for good schools and a secure neighborhood. This falls under the auspices of the buyer as brokers are not allowed to specify what neighborhood might be safe. The city of Seattle has a great crime statistics website.

A substantial down payment also sends a strong message, especially combined with solid financing. The seller wants to know you are serious.

A steady job counts for a lot – if you work for yourself you may be required to show one to two months of tax returns.

One may think that an all cash offer would trump financing, but this hasn’t always proven to be the case, especially when the cash offer is lower than the final escalator.

The escalator amount can also matter; some escalate in numbers such as $5000 at a time, others go up a percentage. The percentage can put the offer at a higher mark.

From the sellers side, your home needs to be priced appropriately; homes that are obviously overpriced are staying on the market longer than one or two weeks and can have the impression of having something wrong with them. Homes that are priced correctly are seeing from two to as many as forty offers.

The home should have great curb appeal and professional photography – most buyers shop online and those images are what brings them to your doorstep.

In summary, the appreciation rates show continued demand for homes in the Seattle area. If you are in the market as a buyer be sure to have your ducks in a row ( 🙂 ) before you make an offer (I can help you with this!).

If you are the seller, prepare your home carefully, price correctly and have great marketing.

Vacation Homes

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LivingRoomRecently I have been showing waterfront homes around San Juan Island to a clients who likes to kayak. As many do, they want a home that can double as a vacation rental and that they can possibly retire to. We have toured four  homes on the northeast side of the island and three on the west side, none of them over 750k.

One listing is a custom built home with tall ceilings, a loft, chef’s kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms. The interior walls are lovely and the
cabinets are flush – as secret compartments.

BuiltInWineCloset

A path from the deck leads to a prominent point past the little sauna and full-sized hot tub. The neighbor told us one can watch the sun set four months out of the year (although we were there on one of the most damp days this summer!) The two-car garage has a guest unit above which is totally self contained.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Roche Harbor in the middle of our tour – the main spot on the west side of the island.

HoteldeHaro

 

 

 

 

SushiFridayHarbor

I decided to stay the night at the Bird Rock in Friday Harbor and had a delicious sushi dinner at the Tops’l Seafood Bar.

As there are properties on Orcas Island I decided to preview a couple of them and I was glad I did as my clients returned on Saturday. This was a working vacation at it’s best other than the fact that being at the height of the season there were not very many places to stay. I stayed at Doe Bay Thursday night (I met many people attending weddings) and the Lodge on Orcas Island Friday and Saturday night which is somewhat akin to a hostel. The host made me feel very comfortable and I felt that his home was my home and especially enjoyed the beautiful aquariums and flower baskets.
My favorite listing was right by Rosario (completely booked for the weekend, by the way). It sits on a sunny high bank and has full access to the marina and beach adjacent to Rosario. The seller lovingly updated the home with imported limestone for the kitchen, stone from California around the fireplace and designed and built the deck to take advantage of the view.

Considering it’s proximity to Rosario I think it would make a great vacation rental.

If you are looking for a vacation rental in the San Juan Islands (I’ve toured San Juan Island, Orcas Island or Lopez Island) a couple of items to note is that some homeowners associations won’t allow what used to be called transient rentals. It is important to check out the CC and R’s (covenants and restrictions). Some people may tell you that despite the CCRs rentals are overlooked, but as a buyer beware.

NorthBeachOrcas

IceCream2Pre-existing rentals will have track record and will provide you with a history. One rental on the island now is bringing in about forty thousand a year, for example, but it is being sub-platted it will need a new septic system as it shares the septic with the seller.

 

 

 

Here is a link to the page which has the permit application.

 

If a property does not have a permit it will cost $1000.00 for a provisional permit and $2300.00 for a conditional permit. A rural farm is considered provisional while a residence is considered conditional. This is a one-time fee.

TaxiSanJuan

 

The sun came out while I was on Orcas and I stopped to have an ice cream cone at Moran State Park  and to walk the dogs at north beach.

As I was catching the ferry I noticed this cute taxi and thought what a way to tour homes on Orcas Island!

 

Seattle Housing Prices up Six Percent!

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Prices in Seattle are still rising do to low inventory! Some sellers are still waiting to sell and we often wonder why – is it because they are worried about finding their next home due to low inventory, or are they waiting for prices to rise further? We are in the midst of real estate’s busy season and may not see a slow-down until the end of the year when we all settle down for the holidays.

Houseboat Open House in Fremont

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July 6, 2014

Houseboat Open House

933 N Northlake Wy 6, Seattle, WA, 98103

I love houseboats – the experience of being on the water, the neighborly aspect and the continually changing views of boats and weather are all inspiring.

This houseboat is located on the north shore of Lake Union right in the Fremont neighborhood and adjacent to Adobe, Google, PCC and Geochaching.com – it is one of Seattle’s high-tech neighborhoods.

Stop by between one to four o’clock to experience houseboat living!

Click Here more information!

June MarketFlash with Appreciation Rates

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Our monthly MarketFlash shows that we are still seeing some great appreciation rates! Mercer Island has the highest appreciation at 23.4% and 62 new and 103 active listings, 50 closed sales in May and 162 closed this year, a median sales price of $1,091,000, and an average of 55 days on the market.

Click here to view the full PDF or view it in the window below.

Many homes have reached or are reaching the values they saw before the 2007 recession which is great news for for many homeowners who have been underwater!

Waterfront Life and Vacation Homes

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Four of my friends are looking for vacation homes on waterfront property and so I have been lucky to tour the Olympic Peninsula and islands such as Lummi, Orcas, San Juan and Lopez!

I consider these tours working vacations as I am visiting places I have loved over the last thirty years as a kayaker.

Lummi Island is my least visited island although I did camp with friends at the DNR site on the southwest corner and then circumnavigated the island the following day. Lummi was put on the map in the last few years by the Willows Inn and Chef Blaine Wetzel. I had stopped at the Willows for happy hour a few years ago and enjoyed the view and peaceful setting.

Returning as a Realtor brought the Willows to my attention again as they lease a few of the homes that are up for sale. Considering my clients would be absentee owners for the first few years, buying a home leased by the Willows could be an asset if the contract could be renewed.

There is also one main vacation rental company on the island, another option for an absentee owner who is interested in an investment property.

Orcas, Lopez and San Juan vacation rentals are governed by the San Juan County Code. Some of the homes listed come with a vacation rental permit while one would need to apply if they don’t. There are two applications; $1000.00 for a provisional permit (rural farm) and $2300.00 for a conditional permit (rural residence). This is a one-time fee.

These designations can be found on Polaris.

Lopez is often used by bicyclists and kayakers, Orcas has a proliferation of art studios and San Juan boasts Friday and Roche Harbors which are popular with the yachting crowd.

Aside from sailing, motoring, kayaking or canoeing to the San Juans, the Washington State Ferry system or a short flight (next door to my office on Lake Union) are the best ways to travel!

I hope this is a helpful article for anyone who wants to buy a second home in the San Juan Islands!

Customer Satisfaction Survey

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As I have several clients in the “mid point” of looking for a home I developed a Survey Monkey survey to see how I could help my clients further.

This is one of the first and is quite pleasing! My take on the constructive feedback is that it is important to see homes in person. While this may seem to be obvious, pictures don’t always tell the full story. Sometimes they are so professional they show the home in it’s best light and the leave out certain features – how close the house is next door, the unimproved basement, the fact that the view may be from one upstairs window only and a myriad of other things!

The flip side of the coin is that some realtors use point-and-shoot cameras or their phones to take pictures. In my case, I rarely want to send the listing out.

Most of us always try to preview a home in person before we send a listing out – this is why we spend time going to broker’s opens, for example. When I go to a broker’s open I always find out more about the home that I did when I saw the listing on the MLS as the listing agent shares more than what one can see online.

As I have been showing some waterfront homes in remote locations lately (Lummi and Orcas Islands) I often can’t preview – then we are having an adventure together and I can help by doing as much research as I can in advance through the tax records, by pointing things out as we go through and by engaging in follow-up research to answer any questions that come up.

Here is a web link to the survey:

Q1: How did you find me? (Check all that apply)
Internet
Q2: How satisfied, dissatisfied, or neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with your experience to date with me?
Extremely satisfied
Q3: How likely are you to recommend me to others?
Extremely likely
Q4: What has been your favorite experience to date while searching for a home or listing your home for sale?
The professional manner in which Andree conducted herself was exceptional; as well as on a personal level she showed she cared by treating me as a member of her family. I appreciated her empathy and hard work, as well as her dog Cici.
Q5: Are you happy with the home suggestions sent to you?
Yes
Q6: How is our communication?
Andree is still trying to help me, although, she understands that I am not looking to relocate into her…town.
Q7: What would you like more of?
Nothing more, my agent was almost perfect.
Q8: What would you like less of?
Not having control of how pictures of properties are taken, which can not be realistic at times.
However, this was not my Agent’s fault. Thank you.

A Comparison of Three Neighborhoods

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We have heard that there is low inventory and short days on the market, but of course it’s important to put a few other things into the mix such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms and price. The demand from new families is huge and most are looking for three bedrooms and at least one bath on one floor. Homes that fit this layout that are in the four to seven hundred thousand price range are seeing a lot of competition.

I track sales in various neighborhoods and this time studied Maple Leaf, Richmond Beach and Magnolia.

Charts from Maple Leaf, Richmond Beach and Magnolia, neighborhoods in Seattle.

(Click Here to see the full sized image.)

Maple Leaf: The listing at 8236 16th Ave NE was listed at $464,950 and sold for $523,000 which is %12.49 above list – the price per square foot was $278.19 and it was only on the market for 6 days. Click here for the full report on 98115. The chart shows that Maple Leaf has an absorption rate of 213% in pending sales – how can it be more than 100 – market is fluid, pendings are overlapping and actives have been absorbed because they have built up.

Richmond Beach: The listing at 19604 18 Ave NW was listed at $399,950 and sold for $420,000 which is %5.01 above list – the price per square foot was $149.47 and it was only on the market for 6 days. Click here for the full report on 98177.

Magnolia: The listing at 3615 38th Ave W was listed at $899,000 and sold for $920,000 which is %2.34 above list – the price per square foot was $302.83 and it was only on the market for two days.Click here for the full report on 98199.

One of the best strategies is to price these homes at market value and expose them for approximately a week. This gives enough time for a brokers and two public open houses. Some listings allow pre-inspections and some do not (scheduling appointments for a pre-inspection can be important.)

Following this time period offers are reviewed on a weekday evening and usually they will see escalations. We have heard of upwards of forty groups attending some open houses and as many as forty offers on a single listing.

Another reason there is low inventory is because new construction is lagging behind, although it is picking up as builders are finally able to access needed loans to start or complete projects.

If you have been on the fence about listing your home this is a great time. I can prepare a market analysis to show you at what price we can list your house and send you a copy of the two reports I generated for these charts.

Absorption Rates for Neighborhoods in King County

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When we say the Seattle market is really hot right now, it is because inventory is even lower than last year and demand is higher than last year. In King County over all we have 3,000 active listings. Pending listings are somewhat flat and the absorption is down.

Inventory hasn’t grown compared to last year; it’s down from last year!

Last year we had a 99% absorption rate in Residential King County (it was 60 percent in 2012). This year the inventory is same but pending is not keeping up, so the absorption rate is down.

Condominiums were at 90% absorption last year still behaving this year like last year.

However, active condominiums are going down – they dropped from January to February. Last year we had 2900 pending, this year 2600.

If we compare neighborhoods – talking about hot markets – looking at 710, North Seattle – 137 percent absorption – how can it be more than one hundred percent? The market is fluid, pendings are overlapping and actives have been absorbed because they have been building up….118 pendings, 86 active listings.

While these numbers come from studies, they play out in “real life” too – one of the Realtors in our office listed a duplex in Greenwood a few weeks ago and had forty offers – it went well above listing price.

700, Queen Anne, Magnolia – 83%
715, Richmond Beach, Shoreline – 85%
140, West Seattle – 90%
390, Central Seattle – 82%

The Eastside (Bellevue, Kirkland) is weaker…
Mercer Island – 54%
Bellevue east of 405 – 57%
390, Central Seattle – 82%
705, Ballard-Greenlake – 140 percent

Coldwell Banker Bain Community Partnership Program

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I just signed up Washington Water Trails to the Coldwell Banker Bain Community Partnership program!

Each time a Washington Water Trails member buys or sells a home with me, Coldwell Banker Bain will donate an amount equal to 10 percent of his/her commission to Washington Water Trails.

We have several organizations in our program – if you want to donate to one of them after your transaction closes, please let me know and I will get them signed up!

Remodeling? The steel entry door pays off!

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When I was at the Magnolia open house a week ago a few people mentioned they were on the fence between remodeling and buying. Of course most of them wanted another bathroom or bedroom but if one is looking for value it seems a steel door is your best bet (followed by the bedroom in the attic).

Kitchens always come up high on the list and one can choose between minimal (82%) or major (74%). Granite counter tops, dishwashers and eating nooks are high on the list as are creating open space and pass-throughs.

Colors are important – if you are thinking of selling, neutral trumps creative as your buyers will look at your home as an open canvas.

Here are more tips and statistics on remodeling:

www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2014/

Vacation Home in Leavenworth Closed!

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I smile when I think about my client and her family spending time at their new cabin!

They say: “We have been working with Andree for some time to find the perfect vacation home in Leavenworth. In the end, she was able to help us find the perfect place and worked hard through the entire process going above and beyond when the listing agent was not doing their job. We would highly recommend Andree to anyone – especially if you are looking for a place in Leavenworth to call their own!”

Rainier Title’s February Report

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More statistics! Real estate volume is building in March and February showed more appreciation – I am almost getting tired of the word I say it so often. The good news is that equity in the housing market has built up and more sellers are comfortable putting homes their homes up for sale.

With the job market and economy improving more people are moving out of family homes and looking for their own homes, driving up the demand. Add-in first-time home buyers and families moving up and we still have great demand!

Click here or view the report in the window below.

Ryan Lewis and the Elgins

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Moving can be stressful but the Elgins have gracefully moved out of their three story home on the Seattle waterfront within a month and meanwhile entertained the new owner, Ryan Lewis, while they were at it. This is a poignant story which shows how transition can be a positive experience!

Forbes gives a bit of Ryan’s background.

I toured the home a few months ago and while it stated to be four bedrooms it seems much larger! The home has a lot of “nooks” that might not count as rooms.

Appreciation

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I took the time today to go over Rainier Title’s most recent appreciation report and noticed some interesting figures. For my friends at Stevens Pass who have vacation cabins or live in Skykomish the rate shows 330% – however there was only one sale.

For the rest of us in the metropolitan area the figures include many more sales – Enumclaw has seen an increase and a 31% appreciation rate, Issaquah 28%, Lake Forest Park 95%. In Seattle 98105 has seen 38%, 98133 at 51% – things are looking up for sellers!

Green Lake, Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia are all moving quickly right now – with the short supply and high demand multiple offers are still the rage. I held an open house at Green Lake yesterday and spoke with a buyer who is moving with his family back from a government job in Vietnam. He put an offer on a home and was the highest bidder, however another buyer had waived all of their contingencies and won the offer. They are still in underwriting so there may be hope.

As buyers agent it is a good idea to keep in touch with the listing agent in case they will keep you up-to-date. A listing agent did call me at nine o’clock pm and indicated she was asking all buyers to remove their contingencies and give their highest and best – a tough call but we did I was able to deliver that home to my buyer.

It is still a seller’s market – that old supply and demand issue. If you have been on the fence about selling your home please contact me about an analysis – many home prices are back up and equity is building.

Click here to view the full PDF or view it in the window below.

Lifestyles, Micro-housing and Other Trends

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I have always been a lifestyle person thanks to my parents. I grew up in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles and we had a nice garden with a swimming pool; I spent a lot of time climbing and swinging from a lovely sycamore tree and even watching birds and wildlife out the windows of our mid-century modern. I not only learned to swim before I could walk, I learned to ski so early I can’t remember my first time! My first major was in landscape design and as I was living in San Luis Obispo attending Cal Poly it was all about pools, decks, fruit trees and framing views.

So it was much to my surprise that I attended a discussion that housing is not only getting smaller but oriented towards more outdoor living. Here in the northwest. outdoor living spaces include large fireplaces and other heating elements for warmth. I saw a home which fits this description near Indianola recently – it is located on the water and made out of large blocks of stone. It’s outdoor patio has a fireplace large enough to border one side and a roof to shelter from the rain.

On the small side the conversation moved to pods – Seattle is catching up to Hong Kong, Europe and some American cities in bringing these in. While it seems to be negatively impacting neighborhoods such as Eastlake and Capital Hill, they seem to be well received over all and a much needed housing solution for the influx we are having thanks to many of the high tech companies. Demand analysis will tell us more.

A final trend which picked up speed last year is remodeling – four homes are being completely remodeled right around my house. These homes aren’t necessarily being flipped but are having a full facelift.

Inventory is so low right now that one home on Capital Hill had over thirty offers and escalated over one hundred thousand – it will be interesting to see how these trends play out in 2014!

Seattle Times Highlights Real Estate’s Low Inventory and Higher Prices

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Supply and demand seem to be at work! The Seattle Times highlights January’s real estate market and low inventory.

The chat around my office in the AGC Building on Lake Union is “I am helping a lot of buyers but there is nothing to show them”. Pent-up demand is high and while many sellers want to show their home during the spring when the flowers are blooming, buyers are looking now.

Our Monday morning sales meeting revealed that an average home on a corner in the Queen Anne neighborhood had over thirty offers and possibly escalated from 550k to over 650k. Granted it might be a tear down but it does show the seriousness of the market.

Seahawks are Gaining Momentum!

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Seahawks to the Superbowl!

Go Hawks, I’m in!

While teaching my group of nine-year olds skiing at Stevens Pass yesterday I was swept up in Seahawks excitement! Stevens Pass sold one thousand twelve-dollar tickets and is hosting a special buffet today for people who love to ski and watch football!

It is apparent everywhere; one of my student’s parents flew to the Superbowl, I was given a Seahawks hat to wear and saw a parade on Lake City Way in honor of the game.

Feeling the need to get more educated, I found this excellent article on the New York Times this morning which filled me in on the teams and past statistics.

Now to watch the game (and the commercials!)!

National News and the Seattle Real Estate Market

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The national news has a trending topic that real estate is down. Is this an economic fact affecting everyone in the nation or is housing being affected in certain local markets due to weather or other local events?

Seattle has picked up after the holiday season and while more listings are hitting the market it is still a sellers market. I have met many buyers who are specifically looking for three bedroom, two bath homes – often hoping for three bedrooms and one bath on the same floor.

As they are hard to find some buyers are being less particular about the neighborhood and just trying to satisfy their criteria.

Other buyers are looking to be close to a school or medical center and so their search might take a bit longer.

I have run a few reports today that show the active, pending and sold listings in the Seattle area. I included Queen Anne/Magnolia and went as far north as Shoreline, east to Lake Forest Park and as far south as Capitol Hill/Madrona.

Comparative Market Analysis of homes between 400-600k, three bedrooms and two baths in the Seattle area.

Statistical Market Analysis of Seattle between 400-500k, two plus bedrooms and bathrooms.

Area Market Survey of listings between 400-500k.

Also affecting today’s market is a rise in interest rates and new stricter rules on lending that have been created to make sure that a buyer can pay back a mortgage. These rules protect both the buyer and the lender but being more restrictive are creating a situation where some buyers might have qualified in December but aren’t qualifying today.

Additionally, the Fed spoke yesterday and they are cutting back on the purchase of mortgage backed securities by another 10 billion per month for a total of 20 billion per month. Interestingly this hasn’t affected interest rates in a negative way. The rate for a 30 year fixed today is 4.50% paying zero points up to a loan amount of $417K.

Jobless claims came in a bit higher than expected this week so this may be the reason why rates have stayed on the lower side.

Our economy is still showing signs of weakness here and there which overall is keeping rates under 5% for the time being.

It is a very competitive market out there as you all know! Julia, our in-house lender at Landover, will underwrite with a “To Be Determined” address to help buyers be more competitive. An official approval letter vs. a pre-approval letter can make a huge difference.

While it is a seller’s market, sellers still need to be careful of overpricing. I often hear people talk about a strategy of starting high. Sometimes this is because a seller wants or needs to get a certain amount from a home to pay off a mortgage or to have the buying power to purchase a new home. Some think buyers can then make a lower offer perhaps when asking for a repair.

We talk about seller optimism versus market realism. The market sets the price and our job as Realtors is to prepare a market analysis to show you where your property sits as compared to other properties.

If the property is overpriced the public perception that something is wrong, however when it is priced correctly to the market then the listing will get multiple offers.

One compromise is to list five percent above the price pulled from the market analysis and if the property doesn’t sell after one month, drop the price by five percent.

2014 is off to a great start in real estate – all we need now are a few more listings on the market to satisfy the buyer demand!

Cabin Listing and Photography

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I headed up towards Mount Baker over Martin Luther King weekend to hold my vacation cabin listing open. Between customers I did day and nighttime photography of the mountain and the stars from the upper deck.

Paying attention in this way brought back to me the peace and stillness of life outside the city and a greater appreciation of a get-away such as this!

Mount Baker with Orion

This image is an overlay of the sunrise and evening stars, specifically the constellation Orion. I set-up my Nikon D7000 in interval mode to create star trails and thought the image of Orion the best. Orion shows in the early evening a couple of hours after sunset.

When Issues of Title Become Interesting

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Everyone has their war stories and often a Realtor’s is about title! In this video we hear how a couple was relocating to another state and so put their home on the market. Much to their surprise when title was drawn they found two erroneous liens on their property.

I purchased a home for a buyer on top of the hill in Magnolia. When I pulled preliminary title it claimed that there was a railroad easement through the property – we had that fixed right away.

Here is a video from about our in-house company, Rainier Title:

King 5 and Get Jesse

Quick comparison of Seattle and Shoreline

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As I have heard that some buyers who haven’t been able to purchase in Seattle are going to Shoreline, increasing the demand. It is said that prices drop once one crosses 145th Street however according to the Trendgraphix report prices rose 25.8% compared to the last year.

Seattle:

Seattle For Sale, Sold, Pended

Home For Sale in December 2013: 759 units.
• Down 19.4% compared to the last month
• Up 1.1% compared to the last year

Home Listed in December 2013: 315 units.
• Down 34.5% compared to the last month
• Up 20.2% compared to the last year

Home Closed in December 2013: 504 units.
• Down 9.8% compared to the last month
• Down 2.1% compared to the last year

Home Placed under Contract in December 2013: 404 units.
• Down 23.8% compared to the last month
• Up 16.1Content % compared to the last year

Seattle For Sale, Sold, Pended, New

*Buyer’s market: more than 6 months of inventory based on closed sales
Seller’s market: less than 3 months of inventory based on closed sales
Neutral market: 3 – 6 months of inventory based on closed sales

Shoreline:

For sale, sold and pending in Shoreline
December 2013 Average For Sale Price is Neutral*

Average For Sale Price (in thousand) in December 2013: $505
• Down 3.3% compared to the last month
• Down 17.9% compared to the last year

December 2013 Average Sold Price is Neutral*

Average Sold Price in Shoreline

Average Sold Price (in thousand) in December 2013: $405
• 0% compared to the last month
• Up 25.8% compared to the last year

*Based on 6 month trend – Appreciating/Depreciating/Neutral

Links for Trends and Statistics in Real Estate

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It is nearing the end of the year and time to take a look at recent past trends and predictions for next year! The shortest summary is that we have seen appreciation in home prices and an increase in interest rates – and both are expected to continue into 2014. The increase in interest rates reduces buying power. For example, a buyer looking at a home listed for 600k in December will probably be able to afford a home at 550k in January when the rate they were locked-in at moves up.

The news is better for sellers – due to the low inventory in Seattle and the appreciation rate a seller can expect to receive more for their home in 2014.

With the economy improving many people will have more buying power. There are predictions that some households who incorporate their children and/or parents will have the buying power to move out buy their own homes, or buy second and vacation homes.

We are also currently experiencing the largest passing of wealth from the silent generation. Baby boomers are not excited about stock and so are investing in real estate and vacation homes.

Interest rates – the federal reserve will keep near zero until the economy is stronger. Short term rates will stay low; long term rates will rise – treasury rates will rise with the 30 year rise closer to 5%.

Credit availability – FICO scores from 2007-2012 were almost impossible. FICO on closed loans will reduce…easing up of lending, makes surge of buying. Banks and lenders need to make money and so need to be creative.

Please peruse the following links:

Greg McBride BankRate.com

Top 5 Reasons Americans Buy a Home

Owning is still…

Return on Investment

Breakdown of the American Family’s Net Worth

The 2 Best Ways to Invest, Home Prices Over the Next 12 Months

Recent Rate Movement

Mortgage Rate Projections

Mortgage Bankers

Freddie Mac

Realtor.org

Fannie Mae

Daren Blomquist Quote

Yanling Mayer Quote

Stan Humphries Quote

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage History

Pending Home Sales, Months Inventory, Distressed Properties

S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Jennifer Listens Blog

Open House Map for December 15, 2014

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Open House on Lorentz PlaceI’ll be holding an open house today!

Some have described this listing as walking into a time capsule – it is a well maintained home which retains a period feel. Set on a quiet dead-end street it boarders a beautiful ravine. I have enjoyed the privacy and, being a bird watcher, have enjoyed seeing Stellar jays, ravens and chickadees. The lower level is in use a master bedroom and has floor to ceiling windows with a deck overlooking the trees.

If you are touring open houses see the map below or click here for the full document. These are homes priced between 400-600k, three-plus bedrooms and two-plus baths. Many buyers are looking for this specific criteria in many different neighborhoods.

November’s Market Stats

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Our November 2013 Market Statistics came out today and it shows us that West Bellevue/Medina had the highest appreciation followed by Federal Way, Woodinville, Richmond Beach, Mt. Baker, Kirkland and Auburn. The University District/Ravenna had the shortest average days on the market at twenty-four days.

Read it below or click here for the full document.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s Monthly Report

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Here is the monthly report on real estate trends in the northwest! (Read it below or click here for the PDF.)

It seems most prices have gone up and may continue to go up while hopefully leveling off so as to not create a bubble.

Interest rates are continuing to go up reducing buying power in the future.

I am excited to see my principal managing broker, John Deely, quoted in the press release!

Christmas Ship Schedule

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The sound of Christmas carols outside my office window reminded me to post the Christmas ship schedule. One ship is boarding in front of MOHAI! See the schedule below for Argosy Cruises or Click here for the full sized version!

Christmas Ship at South Lake Union and MOHAI

Christmas ship at the Museum of History and Industry at South Lake Union

Christmas Ship Schedule in Seattle

Christmas Ship Schedule in Seattle on Lake Union and in Elliot Bay

Open House! Broker’s and Public Open Tuesday, November 26th

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This home is well located on Queen Anne and also on a sweet little street. It does need a bit of updating!

This can be a good time to list a home as buyers are motivated, there can be less competition, buyers have more time to shop and the festivities over the holidays can influence a buyer’s decision to make an offer.

Click here for more details.

See the Trend Graphix fact and trends report on the Queen Anne area.

The Zillow Select Summit

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Zillow really knows how to put on a great conference to woo realtors. Aside from getting a free head shot and nice USB gadget I loved listening to Skylar Olsen,  their featured economist.  She showed graphs depicting the national trends in appreciation and then drilled down to local. Bellevue and Renton have appreciated the most at about eighteen percent, and according to their forecast Everett will appreciate the most in the future at ten percent.

She then explained the different models used to create a Zestimate, something I get asked about quite frequently at open houses. Just like the comparatives that I use, they use physical attributes, tax assessments and prior sales to reach a figure. They use different modeling approaches (hedonic, appraiser emulation, sale price trending, tax assessment, geospatial) and different algorithms (Decision Trees, Random Forest, SVM, KNN, Linear Regression).

They apply cleaning (identifying valid transactions), training (models with recently sold data) and scoring (models applied to all homes every day).

Eventually they come up with a range and pointed out that this is where we, as REALTORS®, go to work. We drill down on local trends, absorption rate, and recent comparables that are active, pending and sold to educate our clients who can then make an educated decision.

Here is a link where we can all follow Zillow’s trending reports:

 
www.zillow.com/local-info/

October 2012 Market Flash

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Only six thousand dollars per square foot

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New York has several buildings in which $6000.00 per square foot seems a bargain compared to similar properties in Monoco, Hong Kong and London according to this article about the One57.

Here in Seattle we have the new Insignia project – which will sell from $677 to $865 a square foot. The article from the Puget Sound Business Journal offers interesting insights into the west coast condominium market.

Is it better for you to buy or rent?

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The decision to buy or rent a home can be a tough decision especially if you relocate often. If you have decided to stay in once place, start a family, retire or are just tired of the lack of control a renter has here is a simple “buy vs. rent” calculator from the New York Times to see if it makes sense financially!

Buy vs Rent Calculator

Previous News

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Sunday, October 20, 2013: As I am holding this listing in Magnolia open I created handout of trends for the 98199 zip code. See the image below or download the PDF.OpenHouseStatisticsFlyerMagnolia.png


Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th, 2013 I will be holding an open house in Inverness off of the eighth fairway! Inverness is a development on the golf course and is located near Sand Point Park and the Mountaineers. It is also close to the University of Washington and University Village.

Here are some housing trends from that zip code (98115): Facts and Trends.


A cottage in the city of Seattle - great investment property!
A cottage in the city of Seattle – great investment property!

This week sees the closing of an investment property for a client – and she already has it up for rent! It is a cute cottage in the city close to Lakeside School and Ingram High School.


Based on my recent activity it would seem I am not very busy – however I’ve recently closed one transaction and had two in escrow last week!

In the spring I was in a multiple offer situation on a home in Magnolia and we won – it wasn’t easy as the listing broker asked us to return with our highest and best while removing all of our contingencies. As my client had already lost an offer, he wanted to be aggressive and so we won!

It is a great location for him as he works on the Amazon campus at South Lake Union and he can bike or bus to work. In his off time he likes to hike around Discovery Park with his dog or work out at the local climbing gym.

Last week my latest listing closed – it too had its moments of excitement when we received two offers on July 3rd. We passed the pre-inspections and sewer scopes (with one recommendation for a big flush as they found roots and rocks near the house where a bathroom had been added in the basement). Deliberations when on until 1:30pm on Fourth of July when we received the signed-around purchase and sale agreement – great way to celebrate!

Simultaneously I had an offer accepted for another client – while we had lost six offers due to extreme escalations we finally won and came in under list price! The property will be used as a rental until my client downsizes from her six-bedroom home in Magnolia.

One thing to keep in mind when making offers in these competitive climates such as we have in Seattle – you want your offer to be as strong as possible. If multiples offers are asked for we want it to be as strong as possible – a pre-inspection, a closing time agreeable to the seller, cash or strong financing with proof such as a letter from the lender and a consistent earning history. A pre-inspection, while spendy, gives you and the seller peace of mind that you know what you are getting into.

The climate has switched in the last month or so to less multiple offers, less pre purchase inspections and more “regular” offers – offers are sent in with inspection contingencies. It is still good to know if the home one is buying has any issues with knob-and-tube wiring, oil tank decommissioning or leakage, outstanding permits, etc.

I recommend one inspection firm and they have a three-tiered pricing schedule – just over one hundred dollars for a basic walk-through, a bit more for a checklist and close to $400.00 or $500.00 for a full report. The more in-depth reports can be purchased at a later date by request.

There is also another trend I am seeing – with so much hiring from Amazon, Gates Foundation, Microsoft and all of the high tech firms in South Lake Union, Redmond and Bellevue parents from various states are buying condos to use in various times of the year to visit their children who are grown and working in Seattle. I held a condominium open at Ballard Place last weekend and me three sets of parents in this demographic. I might add that Ballard Place is a very clean and well-run condominium that has the feeling of a nice hotel – it has a concierge, fitness room, conference room, computer room, entertainment area (which can be rented for events) and a lovely roof garden with views of the Olympic Mountains.

 


Last weekend I held a houseboat open house and it was very fun! As I lived on a houseboat while attending the University of Washington I have an affinity for them and love the community. Someday I might like to live on one again (so long as I have plenty of room for a container garden!).

This houseboat ( andreehurley.cbbain.com/Homes/WA/Seattle/2321-Fairview-Ave-E–3-98102/468005 ) is probably just under 700 square feet but has several use areas. The “master bedroom” has a door to the living room and the bathroom (as does the bathroom). Just off the bathroom is a laundry room with a door to the outside.

On the other side of the living room there is an office/second bedroom, and above the living room is a loft with a little door to the upstairs deck!

The kitchen is open to the living room and has a gas range.

Buyers came through and everyone wanted to take the ladder off of the wall and climb to the loft – people were trying various permutations of how the ladder worked the best. To make sure it was safe we would steady the ladder although there is a place for the ladder to be secured against the west wall.

Many questions came up and I thought I am going to address them here.

Houseboats are often either co-ops or condominium. With this co-op the $350.00 per month dues go to the association and they pay the tax, water, sewer and garbage. A co-op can pre-screen and run background checks and also vote someone in or out. It is important to read the bilaws before you commit.

Another houseboat is a condominium fee-simple arrangement. That dock only has three condominiums and the dues are $200.00 per month which include water, sewer and garbage. The personal property tax on that houseboat is $1370.00 and the real estate tax is $2561.00

 


 

 

Another listing successfully closed for a first-time home buyer from Amazon! We put an offer on a nice home in Magnolia with an escalation clause and won! We had a pre-inspection done within a day and had our offer in the following day. The process did become adversarial as the listing agent asked us to remove our appraisal contingency, but my buyers were confident that if the appraisal did not come in they would be able to make up the difference in cash. Gratefully, the financing appraisal come in perfectly.

When we pulled title we found a four foot sewer easement in the backyard but this was also acceptable and my buyers are now in their new home.


With the seller’s market in Seattle, pre-inspections are becoming the norm. Ask your realtor to provide you with Andree Hurleyreferences and then schedule the inspection with the listing agent and the inspector at a time when you can have some “alone-time”! A courteous listing agent will try to do their best to make sure no one will be in the house with you.

While you don’t want to bother the inspector too much, you and your realtor should follow him/her about so that you an be a part of the discovery. You don’t want other buyers in the home as they can be distracting.

One common finding is the presence of knob-and-tube electrical – some people are fine with it and others won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. One of my clients is replacing his a little at a time, where I met a woman at an open house who retracted her offer based on knob-and-tube.

The pre-inspection usually includes a look at the electrical panel – is it altered or original, if altered was it permitted?

Many homes have had oil heat – is there evidence of this inside or outside the home? A unused tank may be in the ground and cause environmental issues.

A good pre-inspection can cost a few hundred dollars but if you want the listing it is worth as it gives you the confidence to put in a good, clean offer.

A recent trend is to have your inspector attend the tour – this recently happened in Ballard the opening day of a listing. There were three tours on the first day and two of the groups put in offers that evening.

It is competitive out there so the more you can do up front the better – inspections, pre-approval, large down payments and some wiggling room to escalate all count towards winning an offer.


Many clients ask me about schools and I hesitate to give an opinion as it is such a personal matter. Some parents pick a school which is close to where they already live, some try to bus to a different school or get an ORCA Pass so their children can get to an out-of-district school on their own.

Other parents want to move closer to the school of their choice. I recently spoke with someone who wants to move from Ballard to Capitol Hill as they want their child to attend a private school in the area.

Some parents would rather spend the money on locating moving to an area near a great public school and then spend their budget paying the mortgage on a nice home. Some parents say they want their child to have a lot of social interactions while others want to make sure they have the scores to attend an Ivy League university. Religion might play a choice in finding a school.

This is an area where we as realtors can be helpful but it is importance for parents to engage in thorough research.

Here are a few links to get you started in the Seattle area (Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard, Green Lake, Ravenna, Capital Hill, Leschi, Arboretum).

Seattle Public Schools

City Data Gives a lot of information! If you search the page on schools you will find information towards the bottom.

OSPI Map of Schools in Washington State – with this map one can click-through to the area of interest to find schools and information on test scores and disciplinary actions.


Tip of the day – take wetlands seriously! I toured a property with clients in Bellingham and the listing agent hadn’t subtracted the wetlands area for useable square footage.
We had noticed it had been on the market for at least twenty-one days but found out it had been on longer and had been turned down by two developers due to the wetlands. My clients are looking for a second property as an investment but want to put a workable structure on the property for projects. Considering that the one-hundred year-old farmhouse has cigarette smoke damage on the inside and deferred maintenance on the outside, the property is probably closer in priced to the county assessed value of $275,000 than the asking price of $400,000.


 

Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard and Greenlake homes have been listed and taken off the market within days. I toured one that came on the market this morning and it seems it will be sold tomorrow! This map shows active and pending listings between $450k to $800k, 2+ bedrooms and 1.75+ baths.

Inventory is very low and demand is high. Pre-inspections are being done prior to offers to give them strength and lately buyers are even sharing some inspections.

I recently closed on a home for a client that was listed at about $520k for $550k. It was priced low to invite multiple offers and was definitely comparable or better than some fifteen others we had seen at $550k. It was clean, well maintained, updated and was given a great rating during the pre-inspection.

I saw it on the MLS at about three o’clock in the afternoon, we toured it at nine o’clock pm and had our offer in by five o’clock pm the next day.

The appraisal came in at the price, and the Realist has upped the value to about $600k.

Prior to this we had put in an offer on a home with an escalation clause to $550k, but were beaten by a full cash offer for $525k.

Several homes in the area are being priced too high and are coming down in increments of ten or twenty thousand. Some of these are underwater (the owners payed more for them than they are worth) dating back to 2006.