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.

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

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

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 – Buyer Strategies in a Seller’s Market

Q: With tight inventory and multiple offers, are there strategies you recommend to people who are currently looking to buy?

A: Here are a few strategies that we recommend in a seller’s market:

1) Have your agent get a read on what the interest level in the house is. That information will help you plan your strategy.

2)  Write a great offer before the review period and see if the seller will accept it. If the money is there, many sellers would prefer to get the deal done quickly.

3)  Find out any non-monetary terms that the seller is interested in. Do they need to close by a certain date? Are there special terms, like a rent back arrangement, that the seller would like? Plan your offer accordingly.

4)  Be prepared.  Have the money for purchase all lined up and ready to go.

5)  One final strategy:  Wait until the market cools or slows.  We have learned from past experience that the market can change over the course of several months making buying more favorable for you.

Great Reads – February 2014

Here are a few reads that we thought you’d enjoy:

Ravenna Fire StationTurned HomeTour a 1930s Ravenna Fire Station Turned Home

5 Insider Stats Every House Hunter Should Know

Washington Named the Most Innovative State in the U.S


Great Reads – October 2013

Here are a few great articles that caught our eye:

How much do different home remodeling projects cost in Seattle?

Old Whidbey barn remodeled into luxury guesthouse

How Much Home Can You Afford Calculator

Great Reads – July 2013

Here are a few great articles that caught our eye:

Top 5 Things Today’s Home Buyer Wants

How to Win Bidding Wars in Seattle

How to Choose a Front Door Color

Ask the Home Advisor – Navigating Multiple Offers

Q: I am looking to buy a house, but I keep hearing about all the multiple offers. What’s the best strategy for finding a home in today’s hot market?

It is amazing what a difference a year makes. The last few years have been tough on sellers. They needed to price their homes aggressively to attract buyers. Today inventory is at a historic low, and buyers are competing  to get the home they want. About 70% of the inventory we see is selling very quickly, and usually with 2 to 15 offers.

Here are  some tips for buyers on how to navigate the current real estate market:

Get to know the market and the houses in your price range.

As I mentioned, the market looks a lot different than a year ago.  Getting a feel for what homes in your price range and neighborhood of choice are selling for today will help you make the right offer when the home of your dreams comes on the market.  Take some time to tour properties that fit your criteria. Even though you might not be interested in a particular home, seeing it in person will help you to compare it to the home that you are interested in.

Know your budget and look accordingly.

Be prepared to look at homes +-10% of your budget.  We are seeing homes sell for 5, 10 and even 20% above the asking price right now.  We are also seeing some homes that don’t sell quickly go for 10% below asking price.

Think about how long you plan to stay in the home.

Will this be an interim home or a “forever” home?  If you plan to sell again in three to five years, you don’t want to overpay in a hot market and find yourself selling at a loss in a cooler market.  On the other hand, if you love the home and plan to live there for decades, you don’t need to worry about return on investment.

Talk to your lender and be ready to go.

Don’t wait to find the perfect home before you call your mortgage professional.  Sellers want to know that you are qualified when you make your offer.

Be prepared to make sacrifices.

It may be that the house you want, you cannot afford.  Have an open mind and consider a property’s potential.  A home in need of a bathroom redo or a kitchen remodel isn’t as appealing as a move-in ready home, but it’s usually more affordable.