Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Nov. 9, 2020

The Stress-Free Way to Buy a Home During COVID-19!

 

Today, we're talking all about how buying a home has changed during COVID. You might be thinking how in the world can I buy a home during COVID if it's not even safe to go outside? Well, there are a couple things that have changed during COVID. First of all, all of the signatures in the process for buying a home are electronic, except for your very last signature, when you sign with escrow. That's the very last step to your purchase, and that is done in person. Now, typically that's done with a mobile notary or in an escrow office where you would be wearing a mask and take safety measures, like being six feet apart. Now, that's the only time you actually have to sign anything in person. And it's actually only one of the times that you actually have to be somewhere during this process. The entire process can actually be virtual if you'd like it to be.

So, when you get started, first, we do a buyer consultation. That's done over Zoom, so that's all virtual. Now, second is going out and looking at the houses. So, we can do that in person, we wear masks, and it's typically only three people at a time, but there can be up to five people, including your real estate broker, in the house at one time. Now, once you've seen the houses, it is important to take safety measures, be six feet apart, use hand sanitizer after each house and always have a mask on.

That said, you can do tours virtually. So we offer virtual tours where we can actually show you the home through FaceTime or Zoom or Google Meets, and you don't actually even have to go into the house. They are also 3D walkthrough tours that you can utilize on the internet.

Now, the other thing is for the transaction process. So you will have an inspection. Now, all inspectors typically provide a written report that you can review online, so you don't have to be at the inspection if you don't want to be. You can typically talk to the inspector on the phone as well, so you really don't have to be there. If you are there, we stay six feet apart from the inspector and we always wear a mask during that time as well.

Now there are also appointments made for showing. So there's no longer the ability to show a home at the same time another party is looking at the home. So you actually have the home all to yourself during COVID, which is really nice. The only downside is that you typically are on a time schedule for how long you can look at that home. So those things have changed.

Now, like I mentioned, the only time you have to be in person is for the final signing. And sometimes you don't even have to be in person for that because there is such a thing as remote online notary, which is a notary that is remote and online as the name describes. Now, that is typically only used in special circumstances, when a buyer is overseas are not really able to be there.

At the beginning of COVID, there was a safety precaution or contractual precaution that was put into place that allowed a closing to be extended if, for some reason, the pandemic made something change that no longer allowed for closing to happen at the time it was. That's no longer required in contracts, but if you did get sick or were in the hospital, I'm sure that the other party in the transaction, you would hope, would be okay with delaying closing a little bit, for that reason, to help you get over your sickness.

Now that said, there are no other requirements for being in person. So during COVID, not a lot in the transaction has changed, but we have shifted our thinking to virtual first and then in-person second. And so we do offer a full virtual process. If you're interested in learning more about our virtual process or booking your first consultation about buying a home, don't hesitate to reach out. You can call, text, direct message or email me, and don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We'd love to have you follow along. That's it for this week. We hope you'll share this video with someone who you know is going to start buying a house during COVID so that they know what to expect. We'll see you next week.

Posted in Home Buying
Nov. 2, 2020

Why is Buyer Feedback so Important?

So maybe your house is listed, but you're not getting any communication from your agent who's listed the home for you. Well, that's a failure. What should you do? If your house is on the market and you haven't heard what other buyers are thinking of the home as they're walking through, then that is not good for you as the seller, your agent should be providing a service to you. And part of that service is getting buyer feedback. Stay tuned today we're gonna talk about the importance of getting buyer feedback when a home is listed.

Hi everyone, thanks for tuning in. If you like these videos or you know someone who would please subscribe to our YouTube channel and send this along to anyone who you think might find this useful. Today we're talking all about having your home listed and the importance of getting buyer feedback. Now we're not always in a really competitive market where homes are selling really quickly. Even when homes are selling quickly, it's really important that your agent that lists your home for sale gathers buyer feedback. So we have a really robust system where each week we're actually getting buyer feedback and we're delivering a report to our sellers on Tuesdays, followed by a call by yours truly on Thursdays to make sure they know exactly what buyers are thinking and saying about their home.

Now, why is this so important? Well, first of all, it's really important to understand, first, are the buyers who are coming through the property are they ready to make a decision or did they just start their search? If they just started their search, your agent should be following up with them later down the road to see if they might wanna come back and reconsider your property if it's still on the market.

The second reason is we wanna know what they think of the price. Do they think this home is priced fairly? And if not, what do they think the fair price would be? That helps inform a seller if their home is competitively priced in the marketplace, in the eyes of a buyer.

The third thing that is so important is to know what the buyer thought of the condition and quality of the home, was the home clean? Did they feel good when they walked in? Was there something in the sink that you didn't know about? As a seller and your seller's agent you need to know all of these things so that you can make corrections if you need to. If the light is burnt out, or if the smoke alarm is beeping because it's low on batteries, those are all things that could put potential buyers off. And you need to know those things through feedback that you get from other buyers.

Now, the last thing we wanna know is is that buyer actually interested in the property. A lot of information can come from having a conversation with the buyer or the buyer's agent to determine are they interested in the property, or maybe they're not interested right now, but it's on their short list. In that case, it's your agent's job to go back and see what are the roadblocks to them making an offer. What can you do as the seller, if anything, to compel the buyer to make an offer on your property. Now, this is super important in a market that's not super competitive at the time. For example, right now condos in Seattle are not as competitive as single family homes. So it's really important gather feedback from every single showing or buyer that walks through to determine what they're thinking about the property and how it can be improved. So it's really important that your agent do this when your home is listed on the market.

If your agent doesn't have a plan for how to do this, you can call us we're happy to help. You can call, text or direct message us and don't forget, please subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow along if you like these videos or other videos like this and share this with someone who has their home listed on the market and see if their agent is doing this. That's how you get by your feedback and that's why it's so important. You wanna know all of those things from the perspective of the buyer. Remember as a seller, you have a product to sell. You're not the buyer and so you want the feedback of the consumer. Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you all next week.

Posted in Home Selling
Oct. 19, 2020

Real Estate Timelines

Today we are talking all about timelines in the real estate contract. So there are timelines in real estate. What we tell our clients is we are on your timeline until you find the house of your dreams. Once you find that house, when we write the real estate contract, we have to be on the timeline from the time that we get the contract accepted through until closing. And so those timelines start when the contract is accepted by both the buyer and the seller.

Now, a timeline in a real estate contract, most of them run concurrently. So they will all start on the mutual acceptance day when the contract is signed by both parties. That's when they all start. So if you have a contingency for five days, and a contingency for three days, those run at the exact same time. They do not go five and then three. They run exactly at the same time. So we have to start counting those days from the day of mutual acceptance. So if you got your contract accepted on a Monday, Tuesday would be day one, Wednesday would be day two, and so on and so forth.

Now, in real estate in Washington, if the timeline is five days or fewer, that does not include the weekends or bank holidays. If the timeline for the contingency is six days or more, then that does include weekends and holidays. So you can actually go through a timeline, and have a three-day contingency that can be the same as a six-day contingency, because you're actually including the weekend and the holiday in the six-day contingency. All that to be said, your realtor should be very knowledgeable of timelines, and how they work in the contract to make them work to your best advantage as their client.

If you have any questions about timelines in the contract, or if you wanna change my mind about how timelines can be fun, don't hesitate to reach out. You can call, text, email, or direct message me. If you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel for future updates, and share this with someone who you think might find it useful. Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you next week.

Oct. 12, 2020

Are People Fleeing Seattle?

Are we seeing a mass exodus from the city of Seattle? That's a really good question, and one on the top of a lot of people's minds. I turn to Seattle Pi, which recently write an article "Will Seattle See a Surge of People Leaving for the Suburbs? "We Asked the Experts." So it starts off making a couple points.

The first point is that inventory, or the supply in the housing market has been very low throughout the pandemic. If you watch our weekly market updates, you've seen that the number of new listings hovers around 700 to 900 per week. And the number of listings going pending or under contract are between 1,000 and 1200 and sometimes 1300. So there is very little supply in terms of what people can buy.

Now Matthew Gardener, Chief Economist, the chief economist at Windermere Real Estate was also quoted in the article, and he said we certainly haven't seen some mass exodus form Seattle. He does mention the inventory is low, and that the closer in to a city you are the more prices appreciate because of drops and things like that. He's also coming up with reasons he might be moving during this time, which I've also seen. And that includes things like they've been sitting at home for a very long time and they find things they wanna remodel. Or they've been sitting at home, and they figure out that they need more or bigger space. A couple of reasons why people are moving. But, that said, there's not a lot to buy inside Seattle, in the city. And so that makes it very hard and very competitive for buyers in our market.

Now another person who was quoted in the article is Jeff Tucker who's a Zillow economist. He said that in urban areas buyer demand and prices are holding up pretty well, including the core cities and major metros. He said there is an exception to this though, and that's Manhattan and San Francisco. So two major metropolitan cities that have seen a huge buildup of inventory in the city and not as much demand. So that's actually where we are seeing a little bit of an exodus. He does say that prices in Seattle, as well as the suburbs are appreciating. The suburbs are appreciating a little more quickly than the city of Seattle. And he specifically names Tacoma, Federal Way, Canton, Auburn as some places where the prices are appreciating.

Another reason that he brings up that home prices are not suffering in the city is that the trade off between renting and owning in Seattle is very similar because you can, if you have the funds to put a down payment down, buy something where your monthly payment is very similar to what you might pay in rent. And so it makes a little bit of sense. He said there haven't been any signs of large numbers of people leaving the city, and there's not much evidence of an exodus.

So, be careful what you read out there. It is interesting to see at this time that people are thinking that people will leave the city. That may not be exactly true according to the data. And home prices in Seattle are still increasing. So, if you have any questions about this, the market or anything else real estate related, don't hesitate to reach out. You can call, text or direct message me. And we'd love if you shared this video with a friend who might find it useful. And as always please subscribe to our YouTube channel. We'll catch you next week. Thanks for tuning in.

Posted in Home Buying, Misc
Oct. 5, 2020

What is Underwriting?

So this week we're talking about, what does underwriting mean? Does underwriting mean that you actually go under something? No, absolutely not. There's nothing to go under, rather there's a process that you go through, but underwriting is a term that refers to the process of someone looking at all of your financial situation in order to give you the home loan or the mortgage that you're applying for.

So while the appraisal, which we've talked about before, verifies the value of the home you're buying, the underwriting process is a person specifically dedicated to looking at your financial picture. So they're looking at your pay stub, your taxes, any W2s, they're looking at any money that you've transferred in and out of your bank account to determine how much money they can lend to you and what sort of risk you might be to a lender if they take on your mortgage, and provide you that mortgage loan for your home. And so with underwriting, it is a process by which someone is looking at your financial situation to verify that the bank can actually provide you this money. Sort of like when you apply for a credit card, they have to verify your assets and know how much money you can pay back to the credit card that you might use each month based on your income.

So the same thing is happening with an underwriter. They're loaning you hundreds of thousands of dollars typically, and so for that reason, someone is taking a very careful look at all of your assets and your financial situation. Now, how long does underwriting take? Well, underwriting is very unique to each person, just like the mortgage loan process. Each person has different qualities and attributes that make things different for their loan, and therefore the underwriting process can take different amounts of time for each person. Typically, underwriting is the final step for the loan process before the loan documents get delivered to escrow for your closing. So an underwriter is the final person who signs off on you obtaining that home mortgage or that home loan.

So there you have it. Underwriting is not going under anything. In fact, it's going through something, if you had to say one way or the other. So underwriting is that process of verifying your financial picture to make sure you can afford that home that you are purchasing and the loan they are giving to you. If you have any questions about underwriting, the loan process, or real estate in general, we'd love to answer them. You can call, text, direct message or email us any time, and we hope that you'll subscribe to this YouTube channel. We love having you follow along, and we'd love to see your comments if you find this useful, and then pass this along to anyone else you might think might find it useful. Have a great week, we will see you next week.

Posted in Home Buying
Sept. 28, 2020

Should You Buy New Construction?

Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in. If you haven't subscribed yet, we'd love to have you subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can click the little button and subscribe now and share this with a friend. So today we're talking all about what happens when you buy brand new construction. So a lotta people wonder, well, what happens when I buy brand new? Is it gonna stay new forever, what do I get to fix, those sorts of things. Well, here are a few tips and tricks for when you buy brand new construction.

So typically, when you buy brand new construction, you still can do an inspection on the home, but there is not an inspection contingency. Now, after your inspection, you create a punch list of items that you could request that the builder fixes for you before closing. Now these can be real issues or even just cosmetic issues that you want to be fixed. Most builders will fix all cosmetic issues, down to even scratches on paint and things like that. So you walk through with the builder and then you mark up all of these items that you want fixed and then they come through and fix them before closing.

Now typically, a builder will also provide a warranty on the home, so usually a warranty is about one year long. So after one year, you can request that any items that are not working or structurally not sound, they come back and replace. So for example, if you had a window leak during that first year, you could request that the builder replace the window at the end of the first year and they would come back in and replace that window, as long as it's covered by the warranty. So the warranty is a big important piece of new construction.

Now, new construction will not stay new forever. Obviously, homes get older, they change, they settle, things happen. So you do have to be aware that even though you are buying a new construction it is not going to be new forever and some new construction is created better than other new construction. So keep that in mind, as well. There are a variety of builders out there and a variety of different methods for constructing and quality and finish.

So there you have it. That's a little bit about new construction. You get to pick a brand new place. You get to make sure that it's perfect when you walk in. Typically, it has to be to code and that's why they fix those things, and then you get the warranty. So it's perfect for first-time buyers who want something that is low-maintenance and they won't have to do a lot and you can move right in. Stay tuned next week. We'll have another episode for you and don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about new construction or anything in your real estate life. We'd love to help you. You can talk, call, text, email, or direct message me. And thanks for subscribing. We hope you'll stay tuned for next week's episode.

Posted in Home Buying
Sept. 21, 2020

What is an iBuyer?

So what's an iBuyer? You might have heard of this and think maybe an iBuyer is something that you get on your iPhone or something like that, but actually it is not an app. it's not really technology at all. Really what an iBuyer is, is something new to the real estate industry. It is the term that has been used for companies like Zillow that are offering homeowners a price for their home that is discounted based on the quality and condition, and being able to purchase it right away. They are basically eliminating the real estate agents from the transaction and offering a discounted price for the property based on the condition and quality.

So for example, if you had a home and let's say it's in disrepair and you just really need to sell it, you need to get out. You're maybe moving, or you just maybe lost your job during COVID, or something like that, and you need to get out of the property, an iBuyer might be a great option, because they will offer you a price regardless of the condition and quality and they will then resell the home for you to someone else or take it on and potentially fix it up and flip it for their own profit.

Now the caveat to an iBuyer is that usually they are offering prices that are cash, but they're offering them at a deep discount. So sometimes they're offering them as low as 11 or 12% below what the market value might be. Now that's for a couple of reasons. If they are in disrepair, they're going to take into consideration those factors that may need to fix.

The second one is they're taking into consideration the real estate transaction fees. So you may need to get out, or you're going to net a little bit less money, because an iBuyer can come in and pay you all cash and get you out of the property but there is going to be a cost to that, usually to the tune of 11 to 12% below what the market value might be. So if the market value of your home is 500,000, but there are $20,000 in repairs, so now you're at about 480. Take off on top of that about eight to 9% for the real estate tax and real estate commissions. So you are looking at a lower price. But the benefit to an iBuyer is that you're actually getting out of the house quicker. So if you need to move, if you can no longer pay the bills, this can be a great option.

So who's doing this? Places like Zillow are now offering an iBuyer option in some cities where they will you an offer to get out of your home and take over. They'll pay you cash for the property and they will basically take over the property. They'll either have someone resell it or they may put in money to fix that up, and so it's sort of like a mass scale of home flippers. So they're finding properties that they can pay cash for, that they can either fix up or resell for a profit, and they are offering a lower price for those not quite market value. So it's not an app on your phone. It's actually not even really real estate technology. The only technological part of it is actually what they're offering you, and that's based on data and what they believe your home is worth and what it could sell for.

So that's what an iBuyer is, and you may have heard that in the real estate industry. Hopefully, this gives you a little more context. It's not an app on your phone, but you can surely try to search for it in the app store. I've never actually tried that, but you can see what's there. So that's what an iBuyer is. We hope you've loved this episode. And if you have any questions about what an iBuyer is or if it's right for you, don't hesitate to reach out. You can always call, text, and email, or slide into my DMs. And we'd love to have you subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you like episodes like this and like the channel, or if you know someone else who might know this channel, we'd love to have you pass it along and have them subscribe. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll see you again next week.

Posted in Home Selling
Sept. 14, 2020

What is Equity?

 

It is another week, and today we're talking about a little bit about equity, what is equity and how do you turn it into real money? So, to start off, a lot of people think that when they have equity in their home, they may already have that cash in hand, but that is actually not the case. Equity is sort of like having your money in the stock market, you're not able to access that equity until you sell your home. But equity is the difference in what your home is valued at or what it could sell at, versus what you owe back to the bank on your mortgage. So it's that difference in that amount, and that is the money that you would ideally net from the sale of your home.

So again, you can't access that equity until you actually sell the home, but it is money that you have tied into your home that your home is potentially worth if it were to sell, that you could then get back into your pocket once you sell that home successfully. So again, it's the difference between what you think the home could sell for, or what it actually sells for, and what you owe back to the bank on your mortgage. That gap is your equity in the home, so it's the amount of shares, if you will, of your home, that you own outright and that you will get to cash out when you sell your home successfully. So that's a little bit about what equity is and how to get that money back into your pocket when you're ready to make that move.

If you have any questions about equity or any other real estate terms, don't hesitate to reach out, we are here to help. Thanks for tuning in. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We would love to give you more content just like this. Have a great week.

Posted in Home Selling
Sept. 7, 2020

The Timeline to Sell Your Home

Hey there, thanks for tuning in. Today we're talking about how long does it take to get your home onto the market and get it for sale? So there are a lot of different factors that go into selling a home but generally what I like to tell my clients is it takes about two weeks from the time the home is completely ready to be staged and photographed to get it onto the market. Now, it really depends on what sort of marketing strategy you're going for when you sell your home. But with our robust marketing strategy, it takes about two weeks to get everything ready and into place properly before we can get your home listed for sale.

So what goes into that? Well, when I say that your home needs to be ready to go in the market, it needs to be in a condition and quality for us to come in and be able to stage the home if we're going to stage it, it needs to have already been painted if you're going to paint it, it needs to be in a condition where we can schedule the photographer to come in, the videographer to come in, to get all of our print marketing and digital marketing setup for the launch day. So it's really important that when you're thinking about selling your home, you contact your agent at one or two months before you actually want your home to be on the market, because it will take about two weeks from the time it's ready.

And you may wanna think about potentially moving out of the home before that, you may want to already have those stagers scheduled to come in and add the staging furniture but you wanna give it enough time so that the day that your listing goes live, you can really have everything in place to get it onto the market and make the biggest impact possible amongst all of the buyers who are looking so about two weeks. Now this can be done in as little as one week but that is really a rush. and you have to do some planning in terms of getting vendors into the home during that small window of time.

So one of the reasons that people choose to work with us is because we have a great network of vendors and we can get you into the house very quickly or we can get them into the house very quickly and make sure that everything is set to go. But it really two weeks is the ideal amount of time to get your home from the point where we can move everything in and schedule everyone to getting on the market.

Now, before that two weeks you wanna make sure you have it painted if you're going to paint, you want to have the stager scheduled. So really talk to your agent or reach out to us about one to two months before you want your home on the market. So if you're thinking about selling now's a great time there is a lot of demand in the market, and we'd love to help you. You can reach out to us and let us know if you have any questions or what you're thinking about and if you wanna know more about what homes are selling for in your neighborhood, and we'd be more than happy to help and develop a custom marketing strategy for you.

So thanks for tuning in, reach out to us. You can call, text or direct message us, and we hope that you'll subscribe to our YouTube channel. We hope you found this valuable, and if you'd like to share this with someone who's thinking about selling their home, we'd love for you to do so. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you next week.

Posted in Home Selling
Aug. 31, 2020

The Top 5 Things You Need To Do on a Final Walkthrough

 

Hey there, thanks for tuning in, today I'm covering the top five things that you need to do before your final walkthrough to close on your home. Now, typically the final walkthrough is done up to three days before closing, and it's your last chance as a buyer to make sure that everything was completed to your satisfaction and that nothing is wrong with the home before you actually close on the home. So today I'm gonna talk through the top five things that you need to do during your final walkthrough of the home.

So, first and foremost is if you negotiated any repairs during the contract process and during your inspection, you wanna test and make sure that those repairs were completed to your satisfaction. So if you do wanna have your inspector back out to the property, you need to do that during those final three days during your final walkthrough, to make sure that those repairs were completed. Anything that you negotiated, that the seller complete should be done before those three days prior to closing, so that's the first thing.

The second thing you want to do is test all of the appliances in the home. So, we all know appliances can sometimes break depending on how old they are or how often they've been used, and so you wanna go through and make sure you test all of the appliances in the home and make sure those are still working before you actually close on the home.

Number three, you wanna test all of the lights in the home and light switches and make sure that those are still working. Oftentimes people will also test the outlets and make sure that nothing has been changed with the outlets and the days, and that those all still work, so you wanna go through and make sure to test all of the electricity, and make sure that everything is still working.

Number four, you wanna check for any leaks in the plumbing, so you wanna turn on all of the places where water might be available and make sure that there's no leaking happening, so open up the cabinets underneath the sink, make sure that there's nothing dripping onto those cabinets below the sink and make sure that there are no leaks that you can spot both inside and outside of the home.

And number five, you wanna test the hot water, so make sure to test the hot water, turn those sinks on while you have them on turn them to hot, make sure the water is getting warmer and that the water heater is still working. So those are the top five things you wanna test. Now if you have any other questions, now is a great time to get those answered by the seller right before you close. So you wanna make sure if you have any questions about anything in the home or anything that you might wanna know before you close, you wanna have those answered right before closing, so ask your agent to get those questions answered for you right before closing.

So there you have it, those are the top five things that you wanna test during your final walkthrough before you close. If you have any questions about walkthroughs or anything else related to real estate, we'd love to help, you can reach out to us, call, text, email, or direct message us, and we hope you will subscribe to our YouTube channel, we'd love to have you follow along and share this video with anyone who is about to do a final walkthrough or might find this helpful. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you next week.

Posted in Home Buying