Author Archive

Home buying thrill ride: buckle up!

| August 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

Want to know what buying a home is like? Go to the airport, get on a plane, land at LAX, drive to Disneyland, walk through the gates to California Adventure and get on that giant roller coaster called California Screamin’. Now you know. Buying a home can have many twists and turns and ups and downs. Just like a daring roller coaster, some enjoy the ride and others want to hurl.

The anticipation of waiting to find out if your offer was accepted is a little like the slow climb to the top of the roller coaster. Because once it’s accepted it’s GO TIME! Navigating the inspection, appraisal and loan process is twisty, turny, bumpy and can be scary. But do you want to know what the biggest fear is for a lot of buyers? What really makes them want to close their eyes and hang on tight? It’s wondering what kind of shape the house will be in when they finally get their keys. After that heart pumping roller coaster ride the last thing a buyer wants is to see is a dirty house or the seller’s belongings left behind for them to deal with.

How clean is clean? While it is not written in the offer that a home must pass a white glove test, it is common courtesy to give the home a deep clean. A buyer doesn’t want to walk in to see a dirty toilet or a sticky refrigerator. They don’t want to pull up and see the grass ankle-high with weeds everywhere. As an agent, I am happy to recommend cleaning and landscaping companies but I understand that is not always feasible. What I do ask is for sellers to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes and think about what they would expect when they walk into their new home.

Sellers often forget to take the garage door opener out of their car and typically walk away with at least one house key, but leaving items on purpose is flat out not OK. Even if a seller thinks a buyer wants their 500-pound concrete planter on the front porch, it is important they ask the buyer’s permission. Just because something is heavy does not grant you permission to leave it. Unless it is attached or bolted down it’s gotta go! My advice to sellers:  check before you say goodbye to your house for good and then double check ten more times. You are bound to forget something! Some of my favorite forgotten items from this year alone are: a marriage license, kids’ teeth (lots of them), the 500-pound concrete planter and mouse traps. Because nothing says welcome home like “we used to have a mice problem.”

If you are thinking of buying a home, call me. I can help take the scariness out of this roller coaster ride!

Bring it on! I can handle anything in my path. That’s why my family puts me in front on these rides and why I can best lead you through your real estate transaction.


 

The times, they are a changin’

| May 30th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

For the loser now 
Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’. -Bob Dylan

You’ll find plenty of news reports about our rising housing market, but how does that spell out in neighborhoods? See the anecdotal comparisons below for some real-life context.

2014: I listed a Kirkland home for $429,000 and had to lower the price three times. It finally sold 61 days later for $357,000.
2017: The exact same home a few doors down was listed yesterday for $500,000.

2015: I helped a buyer score an awesome condo in downtown Kirkland for less than the list price. It was listed at $399,000 and sold for $380,000. It had two bedrooms and was over 1100 square feet.
2017: A one-bedroom condo in downtown Kirkland hit the market yesterday for $490,000. It has one bedroom and is only 728 square feet.

2016: I listed a lovely four- bedroom house in Kirkland with 2800 square feet for $899,000. We received only one offer but it sold for $915,000.
2017: I listed an almost identical Kirkland home a few blocks away for $999,000. Twelve offers later, it sold for $1,210,000.

Down the block…

2014: I thought my seller was nuts when he wanted to list his Kirkland home for $860,000. Turns out I was right because it took 107 days to sell. The final price was $791,000 and the seller had to contribute $2,000 towards buyer’s closing costs, making it a net offer of $789,000.
2017: The exact same house two doors down just sold for $899,000.

2016: I sold a cute four-bedroom split level home in Kirkland for $840,000. Less than six months later the same home a few doors up sold for $893,000.
2017: A split level a few blocks away with only three bedrooms sold for $925,000.

….a year later. What a difference!

Boy, have times changed! You probably understand this from reading about local housing trends, but it can feel very different when you are personally selling or searching for a home.  Don’t go it alone! I can help you navigate this ever-changing market so you get the most bang for your buck.


 

The utterly fascinating world of inspections!

| April 20th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

rsz_inspectionsOK, the fact is that inspections aren’t that glittery. And maybe not fascinating. But what they sure can be is eye opening, helpful and — if you’re lucky — uneventful and boring!  And a good deal less invasive than, say, having the TSA screener unload your entire carry-on in public because you packed a full-size bottle of shampoo. Not that I would EVER do that (ahem).

Traditionally inspections are paid for by the buyer after the offer is accepted. It’s usually done by a licensed inspector who spends about 2-3 hours going through the home to perform a visual inspection of the home’s major components. Afterwards the buyer can either ask the seller to repair things that were found during an inspection or they can ask for a credit to fix the items on their own after closing. If there are major red flags that come up during an inspection the buyer may choose to terminate their offer and move on. If all goes well and nothing major is discovered it’s a win-win for both buyer and seller.

In a non-traditional market like ours — meaning houses are sometimes selling in a matter of hours — an inspection may not be feasible for number of reasons. For one, there isn’t always time to coordinate an inspector. Secondly, when there are multiple offers, a seller will likely see offers with inspection contingencies as less desirable. No inspection to the seller means there isn’t the risk of added repairs, cost or time. However, to a buyer it means giving up an opportunity to find out information about the home, both good and bad. So what’s a possible better alternative? Introducing the pre-inspection:

The pre-inspection is an abbreviated inspection that can be done by the buyer before making an offer. It’s less expensive and not as comprehensive but certainly better than foregoing an inspection. It gives the buyer an opportunity to “kick the tires” before writing the big check, and sellers get assurance that the buyer is not going to further negotiate price, ask them to make repairs or terminate the offer down the road. The best practice for buyers is to have a licensed inspector perform a thorough inspection but in this market that is not always possible. Having a pre-inspection can be the next best thing!

For more riveting information about inspections don’t hesitate to contact me! Or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell I’d love to help!

I’m glad you asked!

| January 9th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

directory-1699948_1280Let’s highlight 2016 in a fun and creative way, shall we? While I had tons of cool experiences to share from last year, at the end of the day (or year) I’m just not that fascinating. So let’s keep it simple and I’ll share some of the most common questions (and my answers!) of 2016.

Should I buy a house?: yes
Should I sell my house?: yes
Did you give up Diet Coke?: yes
Will interest rates go up?: yes
Are you sick of baseball?: no
Should I stage my house?: maybe
Do I need to paint my house?: if you are asking, the answer might be yes

Should you buy a house? Just ask anyone who either did or didn’t buy last year. I can honestly say that every single person I sold a house to last year has seen an increase in their home value. People who didn’t buy are kicking themselves. Seattle has an extremely good job market and people want to live here. We have great schools, beaches, mountains and good coffee. The rental market is so strong that you are likely to pay as much in rent as you would a mortgage.  The prices have only gone up year after year — so pull the trigger now while interest rates are good and next year you can also sit back and enjoy the equity.

Should you sell your house? Yes, strike while the iron is hot. I don’t know where the rates will be a few months from now but we still have an extreme shortage in inventory. If you put your house on the market within the appropriate price range, it will sell. And it will likely sell quickly.

Did I give up Diet Coke? I sure did. But I replaced it with iced tea and Splenda. Don’t judge.

Will interest rates go up? They already have. We don’t yet know what effect the new president will have on interest rates but history tells us that rates won’t stay low forever.

Am I sick of baseball? Not possible. When I’m not working I’m probably at a baseball game between the months of March and August; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Actually, in the last 8 years I’ve been at a baseball game for each of my wedding anniversaries and birthdays, and that’s just how I like it!

Should I stage my house? Maybe. Staging really can add value, but don’t sell yourself short. A lot of you out there have wonderful taste and decor, which makes staging unnecessary. In my opinion vacant homes get the most benefit from staging.

Do I need to paint? Great question! Let me be the judge. These days you can get away with not doing much to your house before you list, but every once in a while that pink or purple room can be a hindrance to buyers.

What were your most asked questions in 2016? If you were ever asked “Do you know a great real estate agent?” I sure hope your answer was me! I look forward to working with many more buyers and sellers in 2017 (and of course answering your questions)!

“We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive for homeless youth

| October 13th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

hatWindermere and the Seattle Seahawks have come together to #tacklehomelessness in our community, and I’m helping through the “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive!

From October 17 through November 14, we are collecting new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area. Each night in Seattle, nearly 1,000 young people are homeless.

Please help by dropping off your donations at my Windermere office at 3933 Lake Washington Blvd NE Suite 100 in Kirkland. Or, if you are in the greater Kirkland area, text me and I’ll come pick up your donations.  You can also drop them off at any other Eastside Windermere office. Let’s keep these kids warm during the cold winter months!

(PS, spread the word by taking a photo of your donations and post to social media tagged with #tacklehomelessness and #CaraintheHouse!)

got-covered-drive