Whidbey Island Real Estate Information
Updates, news and information about Whidbey Island Real Estate.
The short answer is “yes,” but know what you’re signing up for.
In a seller’s market it seems like most homes should sell — given enough time and exposure on the market. But there are some situations where a home MUST sell: the owners need to move for work or because of a job loss; or, the home was left in a will and proceeds need to be split among the inheritors; the sellers are experiencing divorce, or any number of other reasons a home needs to sell quickly.
With a quick sale required, sellers may be temped to go for an agent’s offer that sounds too good to be true: The agent will “buy your home if it doesn’t sell!”
According to Angie’s List, such offers are not scams. They are, in fact, marketing tactics that might work for you in your situation — a win-win — or, might be a really bad deal. Before signing on the bottom line, make certain you know what you’re agreeing to.
Home sale guarantees
Real estate professionals may offer a variety of types of guarantees. Each has its own value to both the agent and the seller:
- “If I don’t sell your home, I’ll buy it” — Often, this type of guarantee offer comes from agents that work with investors. An investor wants to buy a home either to rent or to sell at a profit. In this scenario, you should plan to part with a chunk of your equity. This program may work for you if you need to sell quickly but don’t need top dollar from your home, if you need to sell to settle an estate, or if you’ve found a new home at a substantial discount and just can’t afford the two mortgages at once. Just know that you will see less return on this type of sale. If your agent only sells under this program and not to the general public, you’ll end up with less in your pocket.
- “If I don’t sell your home in X months, I’ll buy it” — When a program has time stipulations, it usually also has price stipulations. You’ll most likely be agreeing to a schedule of markdowns (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly) so that by the “I’ll buy it” date it reaches the price the agent will pay for it.
- “We guarantee you X% of the value” — In this approach, the agent offers a specific discounted price if your home doesn’t sell. Often, this is about 90% of its fair market value, plus fees and commissions.
The bottom line
Before you agree to any home sale guarantee plan, know that if the agent does not sell your home outright and the plan goes into effect you’ll be accepting far less for your home than on the open market. While this seems like a lose-lose for the typical home seller, it can be a win-win if the sale is urgent or the sellers have extenuating circumstances.
The best scenario
When selling your home, the best scenario is to work with a real estate professional that knows the home’s market, can advise you on the best way to prepare your home and create curb appeal, and offers all marketing resources (online, offline, print, local, signage, MLS, etc.).
Compliments of Virtual Results
We have experienced historically low interest rates for the past few years making home buying very affordable. Things are about to change in 2015. I believe that the Fed. will begin raising the interest rates that they charge the banks, thus affecting home mortgage rates. I found this chart showing the difference in a house payment at different rates. Is now still a good time to be considering purchasing or is it better to wait? In my opinion, now is the most beneficial time to make that purchase if you are considering buying. I hope this enlightens some of our readers to the benefits of today’s market place.
I thought that I would share a couple of interesting graphs with you today. These are graphs of the sales and active listings for North Whidbey Island January 2013 – Sept. 2014. As you can see, the sales have continued to increase and the number of active listings has decreased, leading us into a good seller’s market. This is really unique though, since interest rates continue to stay low, probably not being raised until mid 2015, and our prices continuing to stay relatively stable. These conditions still make it very affordable for buyers also. In fact, we are seeing quite a few first time home buyers entering the real estate market. I will write another blog in the near future with complete stats and a video for the third quarter.
As one of the most difficult decisions in real estate marketing, the idea of selling “as-is” (without making any repairs, renovations, or upgrades) appeals to homeowners needing to sell quickly or that are cash strapped.
Can you do it? Yes.
Should you do it? Well…that depends on your market and how badly your home needs fixing, how much you owe on it and how much you need from it.
Buyers that lean toward purchasing a fixer typically fall into three main categories:
- Flippers – a flipper is a real estate investor that purchases property with the intent to generate revenue quickly. Often, they are willing to purchase a fixer or distressed property with good “bones” (structure, foundation, etc.), fix it up quickly for resale or rental.
- Fixers – a fixer purchases distressed property to fix up, but they tend to live in the property while they fix it with the goal of eventually selling or renting when they invest in a new property to fix. Different from flippers, they look to own the home longer term, so may be more willing to purchase a home that needs more work.
- First-timers – a first-time buyer is either someone that has never owned a home, or someone that has not held title to a home for more than three years so they are not rolling the proceeds from a previous property into the new one. First timers that have never owned a home, but have some skill in the DIY area may look for lower cost, as-is properties for the low entry cost. This category includes former property owners that may have lost their home during a financial crisis or bankruptcy and are now in a position to buy again.
- One final category is investors purchasing a home for the land and location, intending to demolish the home and build new. If your property is on the verge of a rezoned business area, is transitioning to multi-family dwellings, hotels or some other type of property, an investor may purchase your home for its location rather than for its amenities.
In each of these cases, you might benefit from a quick sale, freeing up cash for yourself. Just know that the buyer expects a discounted price that reflects the additional amount they will have to invest to make the property livable. Seeking these types of buyers in a hot market is more likely than in a slow market area.
Note: FHA has specific minimum property standards (MPS) required, so selling “as is” may reduce your buying pool by those wanting FHA loans if your property does not meet those standards.
What are the minimal fixes?
Fixing up your property, at least by bringing it up to code, will increase its value and bring you nearer to fair market value for your home. If you owe money on your home, this is an important consideration. Unless the investment to fix it up will cost more than the amount you might still owe if it sells low, you should figure out a way to fix it up. We can help you determine which items are important to fix, which can be concessions in your contract and which you can ignore.
Here is a short list of items to consider fixing if you can:
- Patch cracks in ceilings and walls
- Remove peeling paint
- Paint walls with a neutral color
- Replace broken windows
- Fix code violations
- Repair leaky or broken pipes
- Repair the roof if there are leaks
- Remove and replace moldy drywall
- Trim overgrown vegetation
- Remove anything dangerous that could make you liable for injuries to potential buyers visiting your home.
If you need to sell your home quickly, let your real estate agent know immediately so that they can best advise you on which items to repair, which to ignore, and which to offer concessions for.
Compliments of Virtual Results
Rick Schutte, Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate in Oak Harbor, Wa. interviews Lyn Bankowski, senior loan originator, from AlaskaUSA Mortgage about the need of checking your annual credit report.
In this interview, Lyn mentions the free reports can be found at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers obtain their free credit report. You can also go to http://ftc.gov/freecreditreport for more information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.
For more information on credit reports and real estate, please contact us at any time.
On the last Monday of each May our nation observes a holiday that many now call Memorial Day. Originally given the name “Decoration Day” for the tradition of beautifying the graves of our fallen soldiers, this day commemorates the lives and sacrifices of those who fought and gave the greatest sacrifice they could so that we could live today in freedom. The Bible reminds us that Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This love of country-this sense of honor and duty-should be reverenced and admired for the calling that these men and women have so admirably given of themselves to fulfill.
Our military servicemen and women are daily placed in harm’s way both at home and abroad, carrying the torch of freedom for America. These freedoms, endowed by our Creator, are kept alive by the bravery and courage of our military forces. What an opportunity we have to celebrate this heritage of freedom.
On This Memorial Day, please remember our military. Pray for their safety. Whenever you see them in uniform, tell them “Thank You.” Let each one know that you appreciate the sacrifice that he or she makes for our nation.
Courtesy of : Christian Law Association
In today’s real estate environment, buyer’s representation is an important aspect of your real estate transaction. A buyer’s agent is always representing your best interest and is obligated to inform you of options you may have that will impact your purchase. The buyer’s agent has been trained in negotiations and local market conditions to help you get the best buy possible.
If you are a senior, there are buyer’s agents that have been trained and certified to work specifically with seniors and to understand some of the unique challenges that are created due to down-sizing, financing, etc. These agents have the Senior Residential Specialist Designation issued by the National Association of Realtors. If you are a senior, I would recommend asking for a buyer’s agent with this designation.
Do you need a buyer’s agent to purchase a home? Not necessarily, but in all honesty, it is one of the best things a home buyer can do to ensure a smooth transaction, best buy possible, and at the end of the day, peace of mind.
You know that curb appeal is important to buyers of single-family homes, but you are selling a condominium in a large building full of similar units. How do you make yours stand out? Here are a few tips for prompting that positive first impression that makes your home memorable:
- Make sure the entry way is clean, clear and clutter free. Relocate bulky furniture that makes the entry seem smaller. Avoid coat racks and umbrella stands that jut out from the wall as well.
- Consider placing a fresh potted plant inside the doorway to bring the outside in. Make sure the plant is healthy and in an attractive pot, does not block the walkway and does not shed or drop leaves.
- If you have a mail slot and your home is likely to be shown after delivery, make sure to place a basket under the mail slot.
- Make sure the insides of your windows are clean. If your HOA is responsible for the outside windows, request that they be cleaned before showing your home or having an open house.
- If you live in a bug prone area, be sure to have your condominium treated for pests—and make sure you sweep up any dead bugs.
- Make sure the hallway or walkway to your unit is clean. If you need, to, sweep it yourself. Make sure to pick up any junk mail or papers cluttering the outside.
- When your home is likely to be shown, turn on the lights and have soft music playing. This may raise your utility bill slightly, but will give a warm greeting to visiting homebuyers.
- As with any home, make sure the countertops and floors and clean and personal effects are out of sight. Consider placing a bowl of fruit or bouquet of flowers on the table to add some color and interest.
- If you have pets, consider boarding them while your home is being shown, or ask a neighbor to collect them before the potential buyer shows up.
Most of all, call your real estate agent to learn what features to play up (or down) in your unit to place it in the best light.
Sometimes selling a home can feel like a big job – one with a thousand small tasks required to get it done. But many sellers make the job harder by ignoring or avoiding some of the biggest factors that contribute to a faster sale. Use this list to see if your house is truly ready for that “sold” sign.
1) Price is paramount.
With the housing market climbing out of its slump, many sellers are banking on higher sale prices. Just make sure you don’t reach too far when pricing your home, and rely on a good agent to help you find the “sweet spot” for your listing. Go too high and you’ll risk slowing down buyer traffic. And once your home has sat on the market for a long time, buyers automatically become suspicious. Even though your home might look great, buyers will notice the listing’s “time on the market” and naturally wonder “What’s wrong with it?”
2) Tour your home like a buyer.
Thousands of sellers make the mistake of looking around their home with the eyes of someone who knows it well and loves it dearly. But buyers won’t see it that way. So walk through your home as if you’re seeing it for the first time, taking note of everything that might give you pause as a skittish buyer. Never assume that a potential buyer will be able to overlook what you perceive as small flaws in the house.
Stage your home with the help of a professional stager (or a friend who’s great at interior design and organization) to create positive word-of-mouth with Realtors. While you’re staging the house, put away all or most of your family photos and other trinkets that make it “yours.” Your goal is to make it look like a model home so buyers can envision themselves living there. Don’t wait until an Open House is scheduled for your property to do repairs, staging and de-personalizing. Do it before your house ever gets listed online. As Realtor.com President Error Samuelson said, “Web appeal is the new curb appeal.” According to a study done by Trulia.com, homes with six photos posted online are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers as homes with fewer than six.
3) Let them in!
Nothing is more frustrating for an agent than a seller who doesn’t want to let potential buyers in to see it. Yes, last-minute requests for showings are a hassle. Yes, it’s a real pain to keep the house clean all the time. Yes, it’s tough to do showings when you have babies or toddlers at home. But the homes that sell fastest are the ones people are able to see quickly and easily. If you have lots of requirements for showings or long wait times, agents are likely to skip your house and go on to the next.
4) Be social.
We live in an increasingly social world, so take advantage of connections by inviting your neighbors to tour your house. It’ll encourage them to spread the word to friends who may be looking for a house in the area. And ask your Facebook friends to help out by sharing a great photo of the house you’ve posted on their timelines. Some sellers even create video “love letters” to their homes and post them on YouTube to endear the home to potential buyers.
With the right price, the right look, accessibility and social connections, you’re well on your way to the “sold” sign you’re working toward.
Perhaps you have some home projects you just can’t find the time (or inclination) to start. With the holidays coming up, it may make sense to hire a handyman for smaller tasks. Do you have someone you already use or are you stumped wondering where to turn? No matter the answer, these tips can help you find someone in no time! If you would like contact information for some licensed handy men please contact us and we would be happy to give you some recommendations.
Decide on Your Project
Smaller repair projects are perfect for a handyman. However if you want a remodel, plumbing, or electrical work done, it may be best to turn to a contractor licensed in that field of work. Many of our local Whidbey Island builders also do outstanding remodel work.
Your neighbors, friends and real estate agents are great sources for referrals on home repairs. As a real estate company, we also work with many contractors and handymen and can give you some ideas on who to contact, depending on the scope of your project. Local recommendations are usually the best source of input for finding qualified contractors.
Determine the Cost
Find out how much the work will cost before it’s started. Get it in writing so there will be no surprises. Sometimes services are billed hourly with you supplying materials, sometimes hourly plus parts, and oftentimes you can agree on a lump sum to make it easiest.
One Project at a Time
Your handyman may have many talents, but you’ll want to test his skills before laying out too many projects in the beginning. On the other hand, creating a a small package deal may work to your financial advantage. If he has good or great recommendations and provides financial incentive for a multi-layer job, it may be worth considering.
Hopefully these ideas will help you as you find ways to spruce up your home and glide easily into the holiday season. If you need suggestions on who to call for referrals or other home related needs, please keep us in mind. Feel free to call us or email us at any time. You can always consider us your source for advice relating to your home and the local real estate market. We are here to serve all of your real estate related needs for Whidbey Island.