Ask the Home Advisor – Selling in Fall and Winter

Q: I know spring and summer are usually the peak seasons to sell a house. Now that it’s fall, do you think the market will settle down a bit?

A: It is true that spring and summer are the busiest seasons for real estate. It brings the most buyers and sellers, therefore the most transactions. However, the other seasons often bring extremely motivated buyers looking for homes when inventory is down. People buy homes every month of the year.

A good example is someone relocating from out of town.  In the “off-seasons” there are usually fewer homes or the market. Since there are fewer homes to choose from, it increases the chance of selling a good home. It might seem crazy to list your house in the middle of winter, but if there is nothing comparable on the market, you can put yourself in a good position to sell.

Local Finds – October 2014

Rhein Haus on Capitol Hill (formerly Von Trapp’s) is the perfect place to celebrate Oktoberfest. 10,000 square feet of beer, brats and bocce ball. What’s not to like?

Great Reads – October 2014

Here are a few things we thought you’d like:

Pike Place Market Named Best Farmers Market in U.S.

Another reason to love living in Seattle

Seattle Has Steepest Rent Hikes in the U.S

Now it makes even more sense to buy

Video Tour of $85 Million Beverly Hills Spec House

An over-the-top designer’s dream

Seattle Market Update – August 2014

Inventory is edging up. More sellers put their homes on the market last month compared to a year ago, but there is still less than two months of inventory in King County. And hot markets like Ballard, Green Lake and North Seattle have only about a month of inventory. Four to six months is considered to be balanced, so the market continues to favor sellers. The summer heat has put the brakes on somewhat, but we still are in a fast paced market.

This enormous demand for homes close to the city center has resulted in rising prices. The median home price in King County in July was up 8 percent over last year to $468,000. Seattle saw prices jump 17 percent to $543,500. On the Eastside, home prices were up 10 percent from a year ago to $624,900.

We continue to see multiple offers and bidding wars in highly desirable neighborhoods. A Seattle Times analysis shows that almost 40 percent of homes in King County sold for more than list price between April and June. There just isn’t enough inventory of the right homes in the right locations to satisfy demand. As I write this there are just 28 homes for sale in Green Lake, and 11 homes on the market in Laurelhurst.  Needless to say, whether you’re looking to move up or fly the empty nest, it’s a great time to sell a home.

Want to know what’s happening in your neighborhood? Check out our monthly Neighborhood Report for:

Laurelhurst

Windermere

View Ridge

Sand Point Country Club

Bryant

Wedgwood

Capitol Hill

Madison Park

Montlake

Portage Bay

Ask the Home Advisor – What Improvements Are Needed When Selling

Q: My elderly mother just moved out of her home and we’re getting it ready to sell. It’s pretty dated, but I don’t want to spend any more than necessary to fix it up. What kind of improvements are needed to make it marketable?

A: We see situations like this all the time, and the answer always varies. The first question that we ask is: “What are the goals of the seller?”.   Money can be made by flipping your own house, but it also takes considerable time and money, and not everyone is in the position execute that strategy.

We always recommend that you start by clearing the house of unneeded items.  De-cluttering will make the home feel larger and have better flow.  Determine if fresh paint and new flooring are needed, since each can make a very strong visual impact. Have someone evaluate the condition of the roof, sewer, plumbing and utilities to see if repairs are necessary. Street appeal is very important, so spend some time outside the home fixing up the yard and making sure the home makes a good first impression.   Staging the home is the final piece to having your property really shine.

The bottom line is that you need to take a look at your specific home and your goals.  A good agent can take you through the process.  Whatever the strategy, we want to make sure that if you spend a nickel, you make a dime.

Great Reads – August 2014

Stunning Seattle Garage Makeover

Watch this 250 square foot garage morph into an amazing artist’s home

Seattle Named #3 Fastest Moving Market in the U.S.

Homes here selling in less than a month

Seattle in Top 10 Places for Families to Live in the U.S.

Scores high for top schools with most affordable housing

Local Finds – August 2014

Mioposto Pizzeria in Mount Baker is great. Egg and pancetta pizza and house-made Limoncello. What’s not to like?

Seattle Market Update – July 2014

This may be the greatest market for sellers that I have seen in all the years I’ve been in the real estate business. Strong appreciation, multiple offers and escalation clauses are translating into record prices for homes.

Part of the story is lack of inventory, particularly in neighborhoods close to the city core. Currently there is less than a two-month supply of homes on the market. Four to six months is considered to be a balanced market.

With not enough supply to meet demand, prices continue to go up.   The median price of homes sold in King County in June was $453,500, up  6 percent from a year ago. Home prices on the Eastside increased 6 percent to $630,000. Seattle’s median price was $499,000, up 9 percent from last June.

Sellers: Homes in hot neighborhoods that are well-priced and in good condition can expect multiple offers and escalation clauses. If you’ve been on the fence, I’d jump off. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better time to get top dollar for your home.

Buyers: Competition is tough, so the home search can be frustrating.   Make sure you are fully approved for financing before making an offer. Assume that you will be dealing with multiple offers, and work with your broker ahead of time on strategies for getting the home you want. This is a market where creative negotiating on your broker’s part can really pay off.

Want to know what’s happening in your neighborhood? Check out our monthly Neighborhood Report for:

Laurelhurst

Windermere

View Ridge

Sand Point Country Club

Bryant

Wedgwood

Capitol Hill

Madison Park

Montlake

Portage Bay

Ask the Home Advisor – What Are Escalation Clauses?

Q: I’m a first-time buyer, and I hear that many offers in Seattle include escalation clauses. Can you explain to me how they work?

A: The phrase “multiple -offers” is every seller’s dream. Conversely, buyers lose sleep over it. In today’s market we are seeing multiple offers more often than not. Our office alone has experienced homes getting double-digit offers on several occasions in the last few months.

The bottom line is that the person who offers the most money for a property usually wins.  Of course there are other terms that matter, most notably financing and inspection contingencies.   However, it is natural for sellers to want to get the highest return that they can for their home.  In this fast and furious market, the escalation clause –  also known as an elevator clause –  is a tool that buyers can use.  An escalation clause is designed to edge out competing bids by automatically raising an offer when a competing bid comes in. When that competing bid is made, the escalation clause automatically increases the buyer’s offer by a preset amount. The clause limits (or “caps”) the buyer’s maximum bid. For the clause to be triggered, sellers need to prove there was another bona fide offer.  Typically, a copy of a competing offer serves as the proof needed to trigger an escalation clause.

We understand that this strategy is not for everyone.  We only recommend using this clause if the buyer is 100% committed to a property.  Since the person who offers the most will likely win, an escalation clause may be the way for you to get the home you really want in a highly competitive market.

Great Reads – July 2014

Here are some interesting tidbits we thought you’d like:

Inside Richard Sherman’s New Maple Valley Mansion

See how “the best in the game” lives

Top 10 Outdoor Bars in Seattle

The best spots to have drinks in the sun

How to Pick the Right Paint Colors

Secrets from a color consultant