Northwest Living

Category Archives: Home Selling

What’s Your Home Worth? Get an instant estimate!

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Are you curious about the value of your home if you listed it for sale today? Want to know the sales price of homes in your neighborhood? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we have a great resource for you.

Our website has a home valuation tool that allows you to instantly see the estimated value of your home from Zillow plus two leading real estate industry data modeling systems. To take into account any unique features or recent updates, you may fine-tune the property features for a more accurate estimate. When you’re ready for a more in-depth estimate, one of our agents would be happy to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to review neighborhood trends, current and past sales and factor in the overall condition of your home.

Please visit www.bhhsnwre.com and take advantage of this powerful resource to help you keep tabs on the value of your investment!

 

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Top Interior Design Trends for 2016

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 The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Here are 10 of the top design trends for 2016. 

1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.

2) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.

3) Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

4) Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

5) Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

6) Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

7) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.

8) Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.

9) Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.

10) Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. (Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection.) Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish. Article courtesy of Houzz.com.

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Help Us Help the Kids

Lending a Helping Hand!

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate is making a donation to the Special Olympics for every listing taken during July and August 2015!FacebookGraphicSpecialOlympics_Ad

 

With low inventory, low interest rates and so many buyers looking for homes, we are in the midst of a strong seller’s market.

List your home with us in July or August and help positively impact the lives that the Special Olympics supports. If you are considering selling your home, or know someone who is, let’s talk.

Together we can make a difference.

 

Should You Have An Open House Or Not?

 
One of the most frequently asked questions from sellers is in reference to the value of open houses within the sales process. Many real estate brokers argue from both sides of this very question. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we strongly believe open houses are invaluable and can be one of the most important things we can do to sell a home.

 

Agents that list a volume of properties in any market have an enormous advantage over agents that may only have one or two listings. The truth is that signs breed signs and signs breed buyers.  Our agents sell at open houses almost every weekend. They sell the homes they are sitting in, and they gain the confidence of buyers that are serious and active. If the subject property does not suit their needs, the goal would be to sell them another option currently on the market. 

We ask our sellers to be part of that process as it will indirectly benefit them as well. The less competition, the quicker their home will sell. It’s in their best interest.

 

Some people take open house shopping to a sport level. Half the fun of going to an open house for some is seeing how other people live. People often get decorating tips for their own homes, and dream about their next step up in home ownership. As agents, we welcome all kinds of lookers. Who knows when they will buy or when they will become our next real client. We treat them all the same.

 

We have all met the crabby Realtor that pokes and prods and makes you feel unwelcome… Usually these agents will burn out early in their careers. Buyers, (and sellers), want to work with a friendly, knowledgeable professionals that will work hard for them and keep all options open to produce the best possible results. And that’s part of our company’s core values.

 

 

As a seller, here are some additional benefits of doing an open house:

 

Time is Valuable: Keeping your property in “Show -Ready” condition can be near impossible, particularly if you have small children, pets or a lazy spouse. Attracting multiple prospective buyers by holding an open house that lasts one afternoon could result in fewer individual showings, resulting in less frequent last-minute preparation and staging.

 

Some Buyers have a fear of working with one agent: An open house allows visitors a less intimidating way to view your home. Without a clipboard-wielding agent hovering over their every move, potential buyers might actually get a better feel for whether they can see themselves living in your house.

 

You are not Martha Stewart: For most of us it takes hours to make a home look its best. If you have time to get things just right, your house can really shine – and you won’t be running out the door wondering whether you moved the dog bed out of the way or left the toilet seat up. An open house provides an opportunity to show your house at its best – a freshly manicured lawn, elevator music in the background, or a plate of cookies waiting on the kitchen table will make your home seem more welcoming and “homey.”

 

BINGO: Sometimes the stars and the moon line up and you attract buyers who weren’t actively looking or who don’t have an agent aiding in their home search. In my business, this is like the Holy Grail. This happens a lot more than you might think.

 

Strength in Numbers: “Yes, you get the nosy neighbors who drop in, but it’s amazing how many people move to another house in their own neighborhood. You want as many advocates as possible for your home—co-workers, friends and neighbors”, says Dean Benjamin, Top Producer at Prudential Gammons Realty.

 

The Judges: Open Houses will help us to get a feel for the amount of interest in your house based on the traffic. By talking to a variety of prospective buyers, we can elicit some feedback that could perhaps cause you too modify your listing. Perhaps buyers feel that your asking price is too high or that some key repairs could increase your home’s appeal, which is why this feedback is crucial.

 

New Enhancements to our Real Estate Website make it easier for consumers to use!

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We Are Excited to Announce New Enhancements to the SEARCH, SEARCH RESULTS, and LISTING PAGES of our Company and Agent Websites!

 

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we understand the value of using online sources for researching real estate.  That’s why our team of web designers are always creating new enhancements to improve your experience when using our corporate and agent websites.

Our latest updates were designed to create a smooth search with multiple search results viewing options, and a clean listing detail page which opens within the framework of the website instead of a pop-up window.

The new PROPERTY SEARCH includes:

  • A clean and easy-to-use interface with a large map area
  • Property results display the map at all times (regardless of the number of results)
  • Small property markers show every listing for sale in the area
  • Once the count of results is less than 250, clickable icons appear!

The new redesigned LISTING PAGE includes:

  • A modern look and feel that matches the new property search
  • Detailed MLS listing information
  • Mortgage Calculator
  • Price History
  • Similar listings for sale
  • Social Media sharing links
  • And optional embedded lead capture forms

 

Check out one of the most comprehensive and informative real estate websites out there: www.BHHSNWRealEstate.com and start searching today!

 

 

It’s Time To Winterize!

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With the arrival of the cold season, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing, which is a task you want to get done before it starts getting extremely cold. If you do your prep work now, you’ll be warm and cozy all winter.

Concrete fixes

Concrete often has a tough time in the winter, as all that freezing, warming, and water infiltration creates cracks and expands existing ones. Get in ahead of the game: fill existing cracks with concrete sealant and repair larger ones to even out the surface. Not only will you prevent further damage, you’ll also reduce the risk of painful slips and falls.

 

For small cracks, you can use caulk. For larger ones, get a concrete patching compound. In both cases, you need a clean, dry day (which is why you need to do this now, not later!) and you should plan on avoiding the cracks for a few days to let them cure completely.

 

Check that weather stripping

For starters, good weather stripping makes your home more efficient, saving you on both heating and cooling costs. In the winter, it will prevent unpleasant drafts while keeping heat inside the home so you don’t run the furnace endlessly, only to pump heat right out through your windows. Manually inspect all your weatherstripping and replace any that’s aging or weathered now, rather than in the winter, when you really won’t want to be opening windows to mess around with insulation.

 

While you’re at it, make sure any loose sashes are secured, and consider adding a door sweep for added draft control and insulation in your home. If you don’t like the look of a door sweep on interior doors, consider a draft stopper: here’s a cool guide to making your own!

 

Inspect your roof

Your roof is your best friend during the winter season, and you don’t want to be calling for a Houston emergency roofer in a panic because something’s gone horribly wrong. Head upstairs on a bright day to look for shafts of sunlight that indicate sites of potential leaks, and pay especially close attention around the flashing, one of the most common leak locations. Contact a roofer to get an estimate on a fix to make sure your roof will be dry this winter — and to stop leaks before they create problems like mold, mildew, and insect infestations.

Gutter time

We’ve been reminding you to take care of your gutters for a while, but seriously, you need to do it! Take a gander on a ladder to see if the gutters are clear, and get them cleaned out if they aren’t. This is also the time to check all gutter fasteners to make sure they’re secure, and to replace any damaged or sagging gutter components. There’s still time to hang new gutters if you need to, and you’ll want to do it now rather than in the rainy season.

 

In addition, you should check your downspouts or rain chains. Make sure they’re clear too, and look to see where they’re draining. Are they just dumping water around your foundation? That’s a no-no, and you need to create better drainage so they’ll flow into a rainwater recovery pool, storm drain, rain garden, or other area.

 

Your furnace needs a checkup

Before you start firing it up, make sure your furnace is ready to roll. A heating and cooling professional can inspect it, replace any damaged components, and clean the system to confirm it’s in good working order. If anything needs to be fixed, now is the time to do it, not in the middle of winter when you’re shivering under 16 layers of blankets. If you have a wood-fired heating system, check out our fall chimney safety guide.

 

Insulate your pipes

If you haven’t done this already, get on it! Insulating your pipes increases efficiency for greater energy savings, and it will also prevent frozen and burst pipes in the winter months. This is basically a win-win for your wallet and your house. Hardware suppliers sell pipe insulation materials, including convenient pre-cut insulation that’s a cinch to use.

 

Storm door and window o’clock

If you live somewhere with heavy weather, you probably already know about this, but just in case you don’t, or you’ve recently relocated to a region known for winter storms, get your storm doors and window shutters on now. That way, when a warning is issued, all you have to do is close and secure them, so you can focus on more immediate storm prep needs with the assurance that your home is safe and sound.

 

Provided by Networx.com 

 

As the Seattle Real Estate Market Continues to Balance

…A few suggestions.

When you list a property make sure you do an accurate market analysis. Remember… the property must appraise at the selling price.

Have the hard conversations! If it needs paint, carpet, cleaning, de-cluttering be bold! You know doing these things will make the property far more desirable and make the sellers more money! If necessary, oversee the process.

If the seller is unhappy with your price and wants to list higher be sure to have the “price adjustment” conversation at the time of listing. Better yet… fill out a form 19 at that time to reduce the price to your suggested value in 15 or 30 days.

Make sure your sellers are connected to the online reports available through your website and PREA Center. This gives them up to the minute information about what is going on in the market place.

Give your sellers a weekly list of comparable homes listed and sold. Even if they get the online/email reports (like the PIP) they may need some additional reinforcement with a phone call follow-up. Homes that are nearby or having a lot in common with your listing are most important.

Keep the conversation going. Call them or email them after a showing to give them feedback. Let them know what the comments were at brokers’ open houses or public opens. Tell them everything you are doing to get their home sold. Follow up with email so there can be no doubt. Keep records of your conversations.

Make sure your listing is accurate. Check it the first day you list and make corrections. You can change comments or photos on a regular basis to keep it fresh if it doesn’t sell right away. Remember… good photos are critical!

Make sure your lock box is synced with your email. Follow up with the brokers who tour or show. “Showing Suite” or similar programs can do this for you via email but I have found brokers are more likely to respond to a personal call or email.

Take the time to have a face to face conversation with your sellers if the property isn’t moving. There may be things needing attention that were overlooked when you first listed it.

Have multiple brokers’ open houses. Even if you don’t so public opens… getting brokers through will give you good exposure.

Stay positive and encouraging. Continue to remind your sellers of everything you are doing to get their property sold. If they are stubborn about price… continue to ask for a price reduction gently and persistently. Two choices… adjust the price or wait. 🙂

The number of listings coming on market is a sign of increased optimism about our real estate climate. We can expect continued appreciation as we climb back toward the peak of 2007. It will more than likely take a couple of years but we are very fortunate here in Seattle. Even with more inventory we will never have the glut of new inventory found in areas with more available land to develop, KEEP LISTING!!

Shari Kruse, Sales Manager in West Seattle

Water Watch: Where You Want It, and Where You Don’t

While April showers might bring flowers, when water is concerned, a homeowner should be on high alert. Having water where and when you want it can be a blessing, but it must be properly controlled and monitored so that you are fully aware of its presence in your environment.

When moisture is not dealt with appropriately homes can become contaminated with molds, rot and other issues that can be costly to repair. Floors can buckle, doors and windows can warp, and electrical issues can occur. Yet we all want and need water for our homes. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, and other pleasures like fountains and water features in landscaping, hot tubs and pools, pets, all require water and as homeowners we should understand everything we can about how water works in our homes.

Generally, we have two jobs: First we need to understand how to manage water and moisture from outside forces like rain and groundwater that might threaten our structure. Secondly, we need to understand the water that we choose to bring into our homes and use for landscapes through plumbing systems.

Outside Water Moisture

Rain should be guided off the roof and into gutters that drain away from the home and foundation. The condition of the roof must be monitored and maintained so that leaks don’t occur; if leaks do occur they should be fixed as soon as possible. Gutters should be cleaned and downspouts fixed with extensions as needed to ensure that water is guided appropriately and safely away from foundations, crawlspaces, and basements. Windows and doors should seal properly and roof areas that collect debris should be swept free of leaves, pine needles, moss or other elements that impede water flow.

When groundwater is present, measures should be taken to ensure that water isn’t collecting near the foundation, under the house, or in the basement. If water collects in any of these locations, steps should be taken immediately to correct pooling/collection issues to prevent damage. Curtain drains or culverts may aid this process, but getting qualified help to assess the situation and help in engineering a solution is advised. Look at the entire system to ensure that you are not creating more problems for yourself or other people as you seek to improve an immediate issue.

In areas where groundwater might enter basements or crawlspaces, consider keeping a sump pump handy in case of emergency. If your home relies on a septic system, ensure that there is a tank alarm and that it is in working order. Should your septic system fail, this alarm can alert you of high water in the system prior to a release of sewage into the environment.

Interior Water Sources

Sometimes we do invite water into our homes. Running water is considered to be a critical factor in determining whether a home is suitable for habitation. Plumbing that carries water, whether it be clean or waste water, represents one of the most important systems in your home. Like the electrical system and the heating and cooling system, the plumbing is a system that has mechanical parts that can fail. Excessive heat or cold, age, the quality of the pipes, and water quality are all factors that can contribute to the overall health of your plumbing.

Understanding how water gets into your home and your responsibilities around that is another area to investigate. If you are on a private or shared well, public water system, a water district, or have other arrangement for getting your water, it is critical that you understand who is responsible for the pipes that bring water to your home and how your system generally works. Do you know who to call in the event of a water emergency? Failure in pipes that bring water to your home can lead to expensive water bills, property damage, and disrupt your landscape if repairs require uncovering them. Knowing where water pipes are located leading to your home helps you avoid damaging them when driving heavy machinery or vehicles on your property.

When pipes, faucets, toilets, or appliances that use water inside our home begin to leak, there is opportunity for water to make its way into areas where damage may occur. Periodically checking the seal around your bathtub surround and shower, sinks, toilets, and grout in tiled areas that receive water can prevent undetected water damage. Don’t forget to inspect your water heater regularly. Many hot water heaters hold as much as 50 gallons of water, and should they fail, could result in substantial water damage. If you are unsure about the condition of your water heater or its connections, have a plumber inspect it for you.

Check dish washers, clothes washers, ice-makers and other appliances that are connected to water. Be vigilant and do an annual inspection in and around your home, and you might catch a problem before it starts. Know how to turn off water to an area or to your home if needed, and repair leaks and seals as soon as you find signs of deterioration.

Do you have a fish tank? These habitats can contain many gallons of water – and that is water that should not be ignored. Ensure that fish tanks are secure and non-leaking, and inspect them periodically. If you live in a part of the country prone to earthquakes, or if you have small children or active pets, take extra precautions to prevent tipping or hitting of the glass. Consider the water issues around filling, emptying and cleaning these tanks, as well.

In areas where there are freezing temperatures, ensure that pipes are protected from cold and that systems can be drained if needed to keep pipes from bursting. Insulation or heat-tape around pipes that carry water in colder climates is an investment worth making. Heat lamps can be another powerful tool to have handy should your area face an unusual cold snap and you are dealing with frozen pipes. Many people advocate leaving one faucet in the house running slightly because running water will keep the pipes free of ice. If you are unsure about where to place insulation, heat-tape or a heat lamp, get professional advice from a plumber.

We also utilize water outside our homes in the form of watering systems, pools, fountains, hose bibs, holding tanks, rain barrels and other garden features. Water in these situations can be a wonderful thing, though we should also ensure that it is well contained, and able to be drained and cleaned as needed. Stagnant water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, thought to carry West Nile Virus in some areas, so ensure that there is adequate flow and pay attention to the overall health of the water you collect close to your home.

If any of these outdoor elements fail, what is the consequence? Could a leaking fountain create slippery walkways? Ensure that proper safety precautions are in effect should water in or around your home potentially pose a threat to children, pets, or others.

Finally, water is not the only moisture to consider…

Some moisture can actually come from the air. Steam from showers and cooking and even our own breathing can affect the air and health of our homes. Ensure that mold and mildew don’t take hold in your living space by having proper ventilation in your home, bathrooms and kitchens. Excessive moisture in the air in wetter climates can be removed with a dehumidifier. However, don’t forget to empty the reservoir in your dehumidifier to prevent it from overflowing.

Multiple offer conditions changing rules of buying a home

The familiar lament at the moment is the shortage of inventory. That too will change.

Inventory in West Seattle has crept up to just under last November’s level, around 170 residential units, over 220 with condos. The inventory in King County as a whole is still down around 3000 units as compared to 5000 in February of 2012. The promised “shadow inventory” is less and less likely to come to market as prices rise and people do not need to sell short. Foreclosed properties will continue to be sold by lending institutions but no huge volume of distressed homes is about to be dumped on the market.

We have begun a period of growth and appreciation. Every source I have tapped believes Seattle’s market is poised to reach 2007 levels once again within the next 2 years. Though we lament the lack of choices for our buyers… now is the best time to buy. Homes and property will only become more expensive in the future and interest rates will not go lower. So if you know someone who is interested in owning a home, an investment property, a condo, a vacation home… any real estate, now is the time to find it. Be sure you understand this and that you are passing it on to your purchasers.

As a buyers’ representative, here are some suggestions to get your buyers into a homes.

This list has been compiled from transactions in our own office.

  • Offer full price or over full price even if you don’t know whether you have competition.
  • If the home is new on the market sometimes you can bring the sellers an offer that will make them want to accept without going through the bidding war process. Write it for over asking with no escalation clause.
  • If your buyer can put more money down and is willing… waive the appraisal.
  • This is very strong, especially if there are no great comparables for the property.
  • Pre-inspect so you don’t have that open-ended inspection contingency.
  • If you escalate use odd numbers and the largest escalator your buyers can bear!
  • Write an excellent cover sheet and have the buyers write a separate letter.
  • Submit a clear, typed, well-written offer.
  • Make certain your lender is willing to speak with the listing agent. Offer the listing agent that opportunity!
  • Encourage your buyers to put up as much earnest money as they can.
  • Generally follow the  “Making your Offer Attractive” list for other details. ( In the mail room.)
  • Communicate with the listing agent to find out what the sellers need in terns of a closing date and occupancy.
  • There are so many ways you can improve your buyers’ chances of getting a home they really want. Buyer education begins when you meet them. Show them what you expect them to sign, forms etc, and explain the process… including the escalation process. If you give them this information before there is a house at stake the buyers will be more receptive.
  • To best serve them, search the MLS several times a day for new inventory. Better yet… finds something to sell not currently on market! Show your buyers as the inventory appears. If you wait for a later time the best properties will be gone. Your sense of urgency will build urgency in your buyers.

Five Reasons to Sell Your Home – RIGHT NOW!

1. Supply is Low = Less Competition

  • The monthly supply of houses in King County are at their lowest point (1.23 months) in many years.
  • The number of active homes down almost 50% (47.7%) from last year.
  • Approximately 25% of those for sale are bank owned or distressed properties.
  • Buyers are desperately in need of good homes to buy.

2. Demand is High

  • Homes are selling at a pace not seen since 2007

3. New Construction is Coming Back

Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have the compete with a new construction project right around the corner.  As the market is recovering, more and more builders are going to be jumping back in.  These new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative to many buyers.

4. Interest Rates are Projected to Inch Up

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association has projected mortgage interest rates will inch up approximately one full point in 2013.  Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

5. Prices are UP!

  • Sales prices are up 18.5%* compared to last year at this same time! (*18.5% is based on the median price of homes in King County.)

Housing statistics are courtesy of the NWMLS.)