King County Condo Report – First Half of 2015

How does your hood stack up?  The market in Seattle continues to be a seller’s market, including condominiums.  King County condos have experienced a 6% increase over 2014 year to date, right in line with single family homes in King County.  Some neighborhoods have obviously performed better than others.  For example, Northgate/Olympic hills is up 41% over prior year with a median sales price of $285,000 up from $201,500 for same period last year.  West Seattle (98106) is only up 1% over prior year.  But, if you look at the total closed sales you’ll see that there has been 66 closed sales as opposed to only 16 last year, an increase of  57%.   Take a look–how is your hood performing??  Seattle data starts on page 4. . . .

King County Condominium June 2015


King County Single Family Home Report – First Half of 2015

How does your hood stack up?  The market in Seattle continues to be a seller’s market.  King County single family residences (does not include condos) has experienced a 6% increase over 2014 year to date.  Some neighborhoods have obviously performed better than others.  For example, Ballard (98107) is up 16% over prior year with a median sales price of $607,500 up from $522,500 for same period last year.  Madison Valley/East Capitol Hill (98112) is up 14% with a median sales price of $1,050,000 for 2014.  June alone in this hood is up 37% in median sales price.  Think that Seattle Real Estate is out of control?  Ask a friend that lives in the California Bay Area, they’ll tell ya it’s CHEAP out here!!  One of the reasons they’re moving up here.  Take a look–how is your hood performing??

Single Family Residence June 2015

How Should I Take Title?


One Person’s Name:  Sole Owner

If a recorded deed only contains one name, that person is the legal owner and has full legal power to sell or will away the house or other real property, even if someone else has contributed to the purchase and holds a nonrecorded interest.

If you are wanting to buy with another person that has poor credit (i.e. won’t qualify for a mortgage or will result in a higher interest rate) you can add the person’s name to the title later—sometimes transfer taxes and fees may apply, so be prepared.  Solution to this would be to sign a separate contract that spells out the actual property interests of both parties.  You should speak to a real estate lawyer, I know a great one, just ask and I will get you the info!

Joint Tenancy

You share equal ownership of the property and each of you has the right to use the entire property.  If one person dies, the other automatically becomes the owner of the deceased person’s share, even if there is a will to the contrary.  The advantage is that at the death of the first joint tenant, the property passes to the surviving joint tenant without the expense and trouble of probate proceedings.  But this may not last forever, if one joint tenant sells their share, the joint tenancy ends and the new owner and the original owner becomes tenants in common.  In any case, be sure there is a written agreement.

Tenants In Common

This is the most common way for unmarried couples to take title.  The tenants in common have no automatic right to inherit the property when the other party dies.  When one tenant dies, his or her share of the jointly owned property is left to whomever is specified in the will or living trust.  If there is no will, the person’s intestate heirs will inherit his or her share—and that does not include a living together partner.

So there ya have it!  Not a real fun topic, thinking about what happens when either you or someone you own property with dies.  But, it is a very important to know what your options are so you can take title to real property the way it makes the most sense for your own situation.  Questions?  Call or e-mail me, I am here to help!!

Why Work With Devon – Video

Why Work With Devon?

I held a client appreciation event this last spring at a local winery to get my clients together for an afternoon of wine tasting and chatting.  I hired a videographer so that my clients could get in front of the camera and talk about why they chose to work with me and what differentiates me from other real estate brokers.  It was very fun and interesting for me to watch the videos.  There were some “common threads” that were expressed by the majority of my clients that chose to participate—my attention to detail, thinking outside the box, and making the real estate process not only easy but FUN!  Have a look.

Buying – The Importance of a Sewer Scope

When buying a home, new construction included, I recommend that my buyers ALWAYS perform a sewer scope in addition to a regular home inspection.  A sewer scope is a very cut and dry inspection of the sewer line from the house to where it connects with the city sewer (usually located in the street).  Sewer issues can be very costly, upwards of $10K – $15K, depending on the severity.  A sewer scope will cost you about $250.

The scope is done using a plumbing snake that has a camera on the end of it.  The snake is fed through the house’s sewer clean out (usually located in the basement or a low point of the house).  If there is no clean out, the inspector can access the line through the vent (on the roof) or by removing a toilet.

The most common issue with sewers, especially in the Northwest, is tree root intrusion.  Tree roots get into the sewer line and debris can get hung up in the roots causing an obstruction which will eventually lead to a back-up of the line.  This problem is generally an easy fix by either jetting or using a cutting blade on the end of a snake to break up the roots/clog.  The next most common problem is a collapsed line (older homes) or improper installation on the line (newer homes).  Both require that the line be dug up in order to be fixed which again, can be very expensive.  These are issues you will want to discover BEFORE buying a new house.  I have seen BRAND NEW construction with sewer lines that were installed incorrectly and were leaking.

A sewer inspection is very straight forward as the camera does not lie.  It is either clean and clear or is clogged and/or collapsed.  The inspector will provide a DVD of the results or will post the results on YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

I have a video of a sewer scope on my YouTube channel.  This example was on a home build in 1927 and the entire line was trashed.  The final cost was $15,800 which we were able to negotiate as a reduction in the purchase price.  Had we not had the sewer scoped, there would have inevitably been a backup at some point followed by a $16K surprise!!

Using Stock Funds for Down Payment

Many times, one will wait until the last minute (right before closing) to cash in stock options for closing funds.  This can be dangerous.  If for some reason the stock crashes between the time your offer is accepted and the planned date to sell the shares, you might be out of luck for a down payment.  Keep this in mind, it might be a better idea to just bite the bullet, cash them in and have the funds available before you write an offer.  As with gift funds, if the money is not in your account and liquid at the time your offer is presented, you are required to disclose to the seller that the down payment is coming from the sale of stock.  In a competitive market, this will make your offer less attractive so it is best to have the funds available at the time you present the offer.

Gift Funds For Down Payment

If you are receiving down payment funds in the form of a gift, your lender will provide you the Gift Letter and you will have to complete and sign them (signed by the person providing the gift as well as you, the borrower).  They will also need a copy of the ACTUAL GIFT CHECK, and proof of the deposit to your bank account.  Once funds are credited to your bank account, you will need to provide a transaction history from the date of your last bank statement through the date of the deposited gift funds showing the available balance as well as well as copies of all documents used to provide the funds (a copy of the check, front and back after deposited and cancelled.  If the money is being wired, you will need a copy of the outgoing wire, the confirmation of receipt of the incoming wire and a current statement showing the available funds in the receiving account).

Preparing For Mortgage Approval

What You Need To Be Prepared For Your Mortgage Application

Remember,  when working with me, your real estate transactions will be relaxing and enjoyable.  So, don’t panic, I am hear to help you, call me!

Work with a trusted and organized lender, avoid internet only (.com) lenders.  Sellers will want to know that your financing is solid with a reputable lender.  Also, realize that some of the big banks are notorious for not closing on time.  In multiple offer situations it is an advantage to have pre-approval from a local lender that has a good reputation with real estate brokers. Having a trusted lender backing you can be the reason your offer was picked over a competing offer.

In order to be approved for a mortgage in a timely manner you will need to have the following documentation:

  • Copy of your Driver’s license
  • Current pay stubs showing 30 consecutive days
  • Last two months of your most recent checking account statements
  • Most recent two years of your W-2’s
  • Last 2 months of your most recent account statements for investments/brokerage/IRA or 401K
  • Any current mortgage statements and home insurance policies (primary residence, vacation properties and any investment property)
  • Most recent two years of tax returns
  • Most recent two years of business tax returns if you are self-employed
  • Confirm the account that you will holds the funds for cash to close.  Any gift funds?  Will you be cashing in stock shares for the down payment?  If so, it is best to have those funds deposited BEFORE you present the offer.  Otherwise you are required to disclose that the funds are not readily available when you present your offer to a seller.  In a competitive market this is just one more thing that will make your offer less attractive.  So, if possible, have the down payment funds in your account before writing an offer.

Keep in mind that if you supplied these documents for pre-approval and time has passed since you have found a property to present an offer on, you will need to provide updated documentation to your lender.


Tips For Sellers In Today’s Market

Tips For Seller’s:  Getting The Most Money For Your Home

Currently Seattle  is experiencing a true a seller’s market and it is expected to continue.  Recently, any listing that is in city limits and is in good shape has sold quickly and often with multiple offers.

If  your home is located in a desirable neighborhood, move in ready and priced correctly, you may receive multiple offers, especially if it is under $800K as this market is really hot.

Given these market conditions, some will say “just put it on, it will sell in this market”.  However, I totally disagree.  If you want the highest dollar amount for your home, act like it.

Preparing your home for sale could easily put tens of thousands in additional dollars in your pocket!

  • Pricing it right.  If you live in a desirable neighborhood, find out what the current market value is.  Overpricing in today’s market is the kiss of death.  Buyers are looking at homes WHEN they come on.  If you don’t receive offers within the first 7 – 10 days it will essentially be forgotten about.  It’s argued that it is better to list it on the low end as the market will bring what it is truly worth.  Listing it high is a serious gamble.  Want to know what your home is really worth?  Call me!
  • Get the yard cleaned up.  Have the yard edged and mowed.  Mulch any plant beds and plant new, blooming plants to fill in spaces if it looks a bit empty.  You can hire a professional to get this done relatively cheap or you can do it yourself.  It makes a HUGE difference.  Curb appeal is important, as the first impression is the only impression.
  • Touch up paint on walls and trim/baseboards.  If the walls have not been painted in recent memory, get them painted.  A fresh coat of paint makes a huge difference.  If you have a room that was painted with a flashy or super bold color, tone it down.  In general, the more vanilla, the more buyers it will appeal to.
  • Get all the clutter out.  If you need to rent a storage unit, do it.  You are going to want to get rid of any trinkets, personal photos, excess furniture, clutter in the garage, etc.  Basically get rid of everything except the furniture, accessories and art work that you need to define spaces in the house.  In general, less is better.  It needs to look open and clean.  The garage should be free of anything besides paint that was used for the house.
  • If your house is vacant, STAGE IT.  This make a HUGE difference, especially with the listings on-line presence.
  • Half empty closets.  Keep your nicest clothes for display and send everything else to storage.
  • Lighten it up.  Get the windows washed, inside and out, just before the photos are taken.  You will not believe what a difference this makes.  It is truly astonishing how much extra light this will provide!  Remove any heavy drapes/window coverings.  Light is something every buyer will be looking for.
  • Make it sparkle.  Have it professionally cleaned right before it goes on unless you have the time to clean it yourself.  For an average sized home, a professional cleaning will run you between $100 – $150.  By the time it is ready to go on, you are going to be ready to get out of the house and take a break.  Meet friends for a leisurely lunch or happy hour.  Then, you can come back to a sparkly clean house.  LOVE that.
  • Keep it IMPECCABLE while it is on and being shown.  If you have pets, remove them for showings and hide the food/water bowls if possible.
  • No selfies.  I only work with professional photographers that specialize in real estate photography.  If you see a listing on-line with photos taken with a cell phone, it’s time for a discussion.  Have a professional video shot if it makes sense, video can be a great marketing addition as it adds an emotional connection.
  • Don’t spend money on items that you wont be getting a return on your investment.  Talk to me before you go spend that hard earned cash, we will make sure it is spent where you will get “the most bang for your buck”.

Remember, don’t panic!  I am here to make this experience an enjoyable one.  Call me if you are overwhelmed or stressed, we’ll get you on the right track.  The following is a client testimonial video highlighting the importance of the above recommendations for getting your house ready to list.

Tips For Buyers in Today’s Competitive Market

There is currently an inventory shortage of houses available for prospective buyers to purchase in metropolitan Seattle.  It is truly a seller’s market and in general it is a very competitive marketplace for buyers.   This process does not have to be tense and full of stress.  I am here to help you make this a more relaxed and yes, even enjoyable, experience.  Call me if you feel a panic coming on!  If you are in the market to purchase or are thinking about getting into the market there are some considerations:

  • Give thought to your specific needs and wants for your new home.  What features are a MUST for you?  Make a list and don’t be emotional, if the property does not have everything you want, don’t bother, move on.  You don’t want to be competing and involved in a bidding war for a home that you are not completely excited about.
  • You need to move FAST if you want to win.  You need to have all of your “ducks in a row”.  Make sure you have full pre-approval if you are using a mortgage to purchase the home.  With multiple offers, if your offer does not include a pre-approval letter from a trusted lender, you won’t even be considered.   Sellers will want to know that your financing is solid with a reputable lender so avoid internet (.com) lenders.
  • Know the maximum purchase price you will qualify for and look for properties that are 5-10% below this level.  In Seattle, listings that are in good condition (move in ready) are highly desirable and if they are priced correctly (not over priced) you might be in a multiple offer situation and it could be bid up.  You don’t want to fall in love with a house that is listed at your maximum only to watch it be bid up over what you are able to afford.
  • Put $ aside for your “pre-inspection” fund.  Inspections run around $500 and sewer scopes around $250.  Talk to me and we will come up with a plan!
  • EVERY LITTLE THING MATTERS!  Do everything you possibly can to compete:

>   Have tight timelines.  I have inspectors and sewer scope providers that I trust on my speed dial.  If you need a presinspection you will likely have less than a week to get it done.  If the sellers are not allowing preinspections (which is personally the way I prefer to go with my listings) then we will make sure we can get the inspection lined up within a day or two of mutual acceptance.

>  Work with a trusted and organized lender.  Big banks are notorious for not closing on time.  I recommend that you work with a local lender that has a good reputation with the local real estate broker community.  I have seen multiple offer situations where the highest offer did not win because the lender was known for being problematic.

> I feel there is a true value in presenting the offer in person to the listing agent/seller along with the mortgage representative.  If the mortgage representative is not available to meet in person, I will ask them to call the listing agent to discuss the terms of your loan and your pre-approval.

It is important to have a conversation with  the listing agent regarding what is important to the sellers.  You never know, so always ask.