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!
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 ( http://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 references 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.