Houzz recently put out their annual report based on findings from a survey of 1,734 U.S. homeowners on Houzz about their recent or planned kitchen renovation projects.
Major findings were around kitchen innovations both technological and related to storage and efficiency. Remodelers are wanting clutter-free counters. Smart solutions for everyday utensils and small appliances are key.
If you will be starting a remodel, it’s important to consider trends as well as your preferences. You do the remodel for yourself, but it makes a huge difference in your resale value. Even an older remodel, (more than ten years old) will increase value in a sale provided classic finishes were selected in timeless shades.
For example, there is a current trend in painted kitchen cabinets of navy blue, but going with white is always safe. If you are like me, you’ve waited a while to do your project and have been saving finishes for even as long as ten years. A designer will help you sort through which of your ideas are still good ones and which trends have gone by the wayside.
Follow the planners on Houzz and save your ideas for clear ways to communicate to your contractors and designers. Purchasing the fixtures and cabinetry and storing it all in advance will be a huge time-saver as well.
Frank Lloyd Wright offered up, “Space is the breath of art.”
So clear your closets now, not when you need to downsize in ten years. Do it when the spirit moves you and you’re not feeling sentimental, when the loss is going to be filled with the energy and fresh air coming into your home.
Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” I very much agree!
I was speaking to a woman at an open house yesterday who told me that she was looking forward to selling her home and moving into a smaller one but first she had to clear her present home out. She’s been there nearly 30 years. She carefully clarified that she was not a hoarder, but had the stuff of her three grown kids’ childhoods and the normal detritus of life, in her basement and garage.
After a few questions, it became clear that her “kids” had their own homes on Queen Anne and their own kids’ stuff in the basements. She assured me, “They want their stuff.”
HA! I still remember when I was eight-months pregnant, my dad drove a U-Haul from Seattle to San Francisco filled to bursting with my parent’s formal dining set and sideboard that I had grudgingly agreed to take, plus most of my mom’s kitchen gadgets. To say the ornate Regency pieces didn’t fit in our little duplex was an understatement. It’s a myth that your kids want your old stuff, even the antiques. The places they are renting and the first homes they buy are often too small for your cast-offs, plus millennials don’t want extra items they can’t use or don’t have room for. They’re too practical.
If you call a professional down-sizer, your kids may groan and say, “I would have helped you with that,” and then be quietly relieved that you’ve taken away the option of reliving charged high school memories via old yearbooks and sports memorabilia. My parents moved to a sailboat from my childhood home. Before they sold our house my teen bedroom was largely intact, leaving my mother to deal with all my old junk. Looking at the items my son has in his room now, I realize what a burden it was for her.
Have the conversation with the stakeholders, “By May 1st I’m going to call 1-800-Got-Junk to take these items. That gives you until April 30th of this year to take them.” Then keep your word.
Excuses you make for not making progress: It was a gift. I will wear those items again when I lose weight. I just need (X) file folders, photo boxes, frames, hangers, and I’ll get everything organized.
I’m going to use that exercise equipment in the summer, when my knee heals, when my daughter comes to visit, when I sign up for that half-marathon.
Obstacles to making progress: I don’t know who will take these items, I think these are valuable, but I don’t know. Someone can put these to good use so I don’t want to throw them out.
Ways to declutter: You can pay a professional organizer by the hour, then hang out together saying yes or no, with each item. You can sort things yourself and hire a hauler like Got-Junk or other local sources to dump things. A Nextdoor high schooler will move heavy boxes for you. The Big Blue Truck will take some household items. You can also go with a wraparound resource like Moving Forward.
Services near Queen Anne and Magnolia:
Simple and Just: Donate gently used clothing for resale.
Goodwill: Household items, small furniture, electrics, used clothing.
Elizabeth Lee: Seattle Organizing Works (206) 228-2566
Echos Estate Clean Out & Hauling Services (425) 220-2571
Moving Forward Katie Munoz: (425) 702-8761 http://retirementdownsizing.com/.
Waste Management Household Hazardous Waste: 12550 Stone Ave. N. Toxic chemicals, solvents, batteries, fluorescent bulbs.
The professionals I spoke to recommend getting started. Create space for your art this season!
The summer selling season is behind us. If you’re worried you’ve missed out on listing your home this year, don’t be. Fall is a great time to sell a home in Seattle. In fact, last year the selling season extended into early Winter for homes that were properly priced and presented. Rely on your broker to guide you in preparing and pricing your home.
If you’re starting to notice mixed results in listings you see in your neighborhood, realize that we’ve had double digit home price increases, year over year. We are due for market stabilization. Seeing a longer marketing time will drive buyers back into the market for Fall and isn’t anything to worry about. Our educated Seattle buyer is looking for a place to call home and realizes the investment potential Seattle real estate provides.
In the past several weeks we’ve been seeing fewer homes with “Offer Review Dates,” and many that have set dates are bypassing them without receiving any offers. This is obviously discouraging for sellers, but the funny thing is that we’ve seen several examples where there are still two or three buyers competing for the same home only now the offers are coming in after the review date has safely passed. We have a fatigued buyer pool and the hardy buyers who haven’t found anything yet are looking to push any advantage they can find. We’re also seeing them pushing back against Contingency-Free offers, wanting instead to maintain a financing contingency and other common buyer protections.
Review dates do serve a purpose as an organizing principle for buyers. It allows them the time to view and inspect your home without feeling rushed. When sellers take offers as they come, buyers will often rush to bring an offer in and sometimes be punished for acting as the first mover. The seller doesn’t owe the buyer a duty of confidentiality so it’s inevitable that if other buyers are sniffing around the property, they will learn of the offer and what they need to do to beat it.
This week I was stopped in Met Market by buyers of mine who bought earlier in the spring. They were under the impression that the market was crashing due to some long market times in homes in their neighborhood. It’s imperative to price your home properly. Even in an overheated market, you can be penalized for overpricing. Cautious fall buyers were often frustrated spring buyers, so any perceived flaw, such as a busy street or no backyard can become a focus and affect the ability to get your price.
By realistically pricing your home at or near neighboring properties, buyers will believe you are a fair-minded seller with realistic expectations. When a property is substantially over-priced, bruised buyers may mistakenly believe that the final selling price will be substantially over your list price and hesitate to make an offer at all.
Through our most recent months of data, the Queen Anne/Magnolia homes that sold above asking were on the market for an average of six days, while homes that received price reductions before selling were on the market for an average of 70 days. Quite a difference. You can never price your home based on a previous sale at the tip-top of a multiple offer battle and expect the same result. To attempt to recreate that result, you have to price your home at where the earlier listing started at, all else being equal. What we have now are homes that are coming on where others were driven to in March with six-offers and these homes are appearing overpriced in the heat of August.
Here are the Fall Statistics you’ll want to keep in mind:
Last year from September 1st until year-end our neighborhoods of Queen Anne/Magnolia had 231 single family home sales. Average dollars per square foot were just under $498 and the average sales price was $1,106,396. The median sales price was $960,000. Cumulative days on market were a reasonable 21 days.
As agents, many of us had active buyers who hadn’t found anything yet and were avidly touring every new home that met the buyer’s criteria. Although there is naturally seasonal slowing, it’s this slowing that’s encouraging this year’s buyers to come back to the market. We’re optimistic about a healthy fall real estate market. Talk to your agent about listing your home this fall and get ready for great results!
Last year combined sales for September and October were 129. Average days on market increased to a reasonable 16 days from the listing date to sale date. Homes sold at just over $475 per square foot at 104% over the listed price. (Some of these homes had price reductions before they sold.)
Value, Location, Size: We start out thinking neighborhood first. We want a desired lifestyle. Walking to shops and restaurants, close to an urban village. But not everyone is designed to walk home with their groceries.
Knowing yourself: Are you are the type to drive when walking is an option? You can probably get more house for the money heading a bit further out. Plus you may still be really close to school and parks, just not walking distance to Ethan Stowell’s new restaurant. That could be okay for you. Drive there, or take an Uber.
Examine your motivations. Is your home more of a respite to get away from a busy work day, or a hub for activity and parties? All of it is okay, but it is part of the evaluation process. What kind of a neighborhood do you want to live in?
If you could afford a whole lot more space north of 80th, you might honestly prefer that. It could be better for your growing family. Just stuff to think about.
Following trends could cause you to eliminate neighborhoods that might suit your lifestyle quite well, especially if you are newer to Seattle. I frequently begin with buyers on one neighborhood and end up somewhere totally different, much to buyers’ surprise and pleasure! If you’d like a neighborhood tour, let me know. I grew up here.
Rent vs. Buy
If you are a renter in many Seattle neighborhoods, you can probably afford to buy. Even if you are a short-timer, it is possible to pay less in mortgage than you would in this uncertain rental market. A recent client of mine complained that his rent went up 40% over two years. He reduced his monthly out of pocket expenses by purchasing a townhome, and it only took two weeks!
The average rental price in Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont, the Capitol Hill areas, and Belltown often exceeds the monthly mortgage amount even when factoring in home owner’s dues.
People often don’t realize that they can afford to buy right now. Looking at the big house on Queen Anne can make you feel like you should wait and save more money. But often buying something smaller now can bring your dream of home ownership much closer, in a shorter period of time.
Clients ask what paperwork they need for applying for a mortgage. Waiting until you fall in love with a home is too late. The time to get organized is before you shop. A lender I work with provided this list of required items. You can apply first and rate-lock later when you find the right property.
Initial Documentation That Will Be Required For a Loan:
- Complete and signed mortgage application
- Last two years federal tax returns (all pages)
- Last two years W2 forms
- Most recent continuous 30 days worth of pay-stubs
- Last three months of checking, savings and retirement account statements
- Explanation and source of large deposits
- Gift Donor information (if applicable)
- Details on debt not shown on credit report – Alimony, child support, 401-K loans
When you make an offer to purchase, these additional items will be required:
- Copy of earnest money deposit check
- Copy of a fully executed sales agreement, including requests for repairs that you make of the seller
And for Condominiums:
- Copy of a complete set of recorded condominium documents (Master Deed, Trust, By-laws, current budget, Reserve Study, Insurance certificate, Two-years of meeting notes)
- Resale Certificate supplied to Lender from HOA to be completed prior to approval
Reach out for a recommendation about my strongest loan agents!
You Sold Your Home, Now Will it Appraise?
The Fall market has calmed down from Seattle’s spring heights, yet the problem of low appraisals still exist for homes some homes. The appraiser looks to justify the price of the buyer’s offer and not to exceed it. It’s rare for the appraisal to come in higher than the contracted amount even in a rising market.
In some neighborhoods there still have not been enough sales due to low inventory levels, to justify the inflated price recently driven by multiple offers.
Whether I represent the buyer or the seller in this situation, low appraisals are a huge stressor because it may cause the buyer to regret their offer and look for an exit strategy. It’s important that cool heads prevail and that all parties are working toward the same goal of closing the transaction.
This happened in a transaction I worked on earlier this year, where the buyer agreed in their original offer, to cover up to $15,000 in appraisal shortfall. As it happened, the home did not appraise but was only $10,000 short. The buyers then had to come out of pocket an additional $5,000 in cash and the loan proceeded. If the buyer has cash, this can be an acceptable solution. If not, and without a pre-agreement, the buyer can request the seller drop the price and this can be where the deal falls apart or goes to the back-up offeror.
Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you want to consider appraisals when you price your home or make your offer. Always scanning previous sales in the neighborhood before making a move, will protect your interests. Let me know if you have any questions about your home’s value. #QueenAnneLife #LiveinMagnolia
Your UNIQUE Home
Every listing is unique and comes with its own challenges and unique selling points. As a veteran of selling older homes, I realize the importance of positioning your listing to emphasize the strengths of your beautiful home.
I specialize in staging your home for sale. Three to six months before selling your home, I will do a walk through to help you determine, what to repair, what to store, what to toss and what to ignore. We will get a working list of To Do’s, and provide you with a list of the Seattle experts Windermere Brokers have relied on for years to get their sellers homes in the best possible shape before listing.
Pre-Inspecting your home with a licensed home inspector tells prospective buyers that you are aware of the present condition of your home and any defects, such as an older roof or hot water heater. The pre-inspection notifies the buyer that you have taken those conditions into account when you priced and marketed your property. It sends a message that you have nothing to hide, that you are aware of the current condition of your home, and are selling it in that condition.
Despite the warm feelings you have for your home, it is important to recognize that your home is a commodity within the Seattle housing market and the buyer will ultimately determine what your home is worth. Homes that are priced properly from day one will sell the quickest and sometimes within days of listing.
Homes priced even 5% over market take up to 20% longer to sell, at lower prices. Overpriced homes often sell significantly under the recommended pricing from the original Market Analysis. Pricing your home too high even for just a couple of weeks is a proven money loser.
Never a cookie cutter approach to selling your home, I create a unique marketing story that emphasizes your home’s discrete selling points, while acknowledging areas of opportunity and framing them a positive, realistic manner, as part of the marketing.
It is my pleasure to design a custom marketing plan for your home, capitalizing on the broad market coverage The Wall Street Group provides. To discuss your unique marketing plan call or email me.
A Seattle native, I work throughout the Seattle Area.
Nicole Bailey ~ 206-310-7978
It was the best of homes, it was the worst of homes… actually they are both really terrific homes at the top of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
One listing agent, two different seller profiles.
With similar specs and qualities, these two four bed-room homes might have seen similar marketing periods in Seattle’s super-hot real estate market. I’ll show you how the differing pricing strategy resulted in a longer market time for the first home and higher carrying costs for the sellers. The difference between the two pricing strategies is buyer perception, Home 1 was slightly overpriced at market date, whereas Home 2 was “value” priced, causing buyers to jump.
These homes were listed by the same agent, so we can assume that the pricing strategy and advice given to the sellers were similar. A seller’s position on these two strategies can make a huge difference in marketing days.
Home 1, a brick colonial was originally listed for $1,525,000 in May.
Home 2, an oversized Craftsman listed in October for $1,325,000.
Both homes have finished basements, plus three upper levels of living, partial views and updated kitchens. Home 1 has an extra 3/4 bath and more square footage. Home 2 has a larger kitchen. Smaller house, more open floor plan.
Going just by dollars per square foot, you could argue that the brick Colonial home has been priced correctly, but as of the third week of October it has been reduced to $1,395,000 and is still on the market after six months.
Home two, the Craftsman, was listed on a wet and rainy October 10th, when the heat of the spring/summer market had decreased. Unlike Home 1, the Craftsman sold over asking in multiple offers and was pending in four days.
I held the Colonial open this Sunday and the funny thing is, neighbors were coming in to:
1. See what was wrong with the home
2. To explain to me about the dangers of overpricing.
Many sellers worry about leaving money on the table by underpricing, but in a competitive market, you will always sell at the market price, and in a slow market, you will sell before other homes in your bracket. Of course, seller motivation plays a big role in pricing and there is a lot more contributing to motivation than financial need.
I always recommend “Value” pricing for my sellers. An oftentimes, they listen!