Happy Valentines Day!
Our cover photo this month was taken during a short break with our kids to visit Orlando, Kennedy Space Center and a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas. The Space Center turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. If you get a chance to visit Florida, we HIGHLY recommend the Kennedy Space Visitor Center. Now, back to Real Estate!
First and foremost, we are land base residential Real Estate Brokers, but as you may know, we also specialize in Water Properties (Floating Homes, Houseboats, and Waterfront Properties). As such, we've broken down the newsletter into 2 main categories – Residential Real Estate and Water Properties.
Thinking of Buying a Home or Condo in 2018?
The good news is that forecasters are looking for a reduction in the rate of appreciation for homes in our area and a slight increase in inventory. The bad news is that interest rates are expected to creep up during the year. Here's a great article talking about the 2018 Real Estate Trends.
Try Our HomeSpotter Application
The HomeSpotter is an AWESOME app that allows you to quickly find listed properties around you or on the fly using a variety of search fields.The app allows you to search for properties on the fly and message us directly through the app. You can also search nearby, so if you find a property you like, you can check out the comps while you are there.
Note: HomeSpotter is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
TOP 5 Steps for Getting Ready to BUY
If you're considering buying, it is extremely important to be properly prepared. Competition for properties is still high and having your ducks in order will give you an advantage. Here are some things to give you a headstart.
1. Check Your Credit
You can get a checkup on your credit and take action if needed. We use CreditKarma.com, which is free and does not cause a hit to your score. We really love this site as it not only shows your score but also shows you how your score is calculated. This allows you to see where improvements can be made.
2. Financing – Getting a pre-approval
One of the most important preparations you can do is to have a pre-approval in hand when you get ready to make an offer. To be ready to obtain this on short notice, you should meet with your lender before beginning your search. If you do not have a lender, we can refer people we have worked with and have had good results. The initial phase is to get "Pre-Qualified." This will allow you to know what you financially qualify for and this will also prepare your lender for getting you the "Pre-Approval" when needed.
3. Know the Market
Understanding what is out there and what fits your price range will help you when you start your search. In this market, there is not a lot to choose from and knowing price ranges and inventory will help you narrow your search to fit your needs.
4. Use a Knowledgeable and Experienced Agent
When it comes time to look at properties, we can help spot the things that you may not see. We know the market and will have insights based on buying and selling hundreds of homes. Our biggest concern will be to find you a home that fits your needs and that doesn't have big, bad surprises. We are expert negotiators and have dealt with and understand multiple offer situations.
5. Are You in a Lease?
Knowing what your options are before starting your search will help avoid disappointment and surprises. Can you exit your lease early? Can you sublet? Can you advertise and obtain a replacement tenant? These are important questions and should be broached early.
TOP 5 Steps for Getting Ready to SELL
If you're considering selling your home, you need to do some things to make sure you get top dollar. After many many years in the business, we have seen what sells and what distinguishes a home from another. The following steps will help you see the best return possible.
1. Curb Appeal
This is listed first because it is the first thing that people see when viewing your home. This is a BIG deal, but can often be beefed up without spending a fortune. Trim plants & shrubs, make sure the grass is green, fresh paint and a pop of color on the entry can make a huge difference. Look at homes on the market & see what appeals to you. Mimic that!
2. Paint & Caulk
Paint & Caulk are your new BFF's. These are cheap, but a require some labor. Use caulk to cover cracks, hide poor joinery, and freshen up tired tubs and showers. Painting is great, but don't do a poor job. If your unsure HIRE it out. We can refer great painters (and other contractors).
This can be expensive if you're talking about a kitchen & bath, but can definitely be worth it in today's market. On the less expensive side, it is EASY and CHEAP to replace old can lights with modern LED pop-in replacement fixtures. This is a great DIY project that takes only minutes per fixture.
4. Fix Broken Items
You probably did a home inspection when you bought your home. Have you taken care of the items that were called out? If you haven't, they will probably be called out again. Having a clean inspection means an easy road to closing and less stress on you and the buyers. Fixing things ahead of time means you can close faster and reduces the chance of a failed transaction.
5. Staged Homes SELL
We have to say that professional staging works, period. Pricing can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, but over and over we have seen staging pay for itself. In a competitive market, this can mean tens of thousands of dollars if a bidding war is generated.
2017 Market in Review
We are often asked "What's happening in the Real Estate Market?" The following short video from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows what happened in 2017, statewide and local.
Water-based properties (Floating Homes, Houseboats, and Waterfront Properties) are still in high demand with very limited supply. There is only so much shoreline, and Houseboats and Floating Homes have been capped at their current levels. This means a mostly fixed commodity with increasing demand. There were 80 water properties sold in 2017 ranging in price from $120,000 to $8,850,000. Special Agents Realty had a total of 20 water property transactions (buying and selling) in 2017. If you are considering Water Property, either buying or selling, we are definitely experienced in this area and would love to help you.
Over-Water Short Term Rentals Prohibited UPDATE
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Seattle's new short-term rental regulations prohibit short-term rentals for over-water properties.
Last month we reported on the new regulation prohibiting short-term rentals for over-water properties. Working with our maritime attorney, we have found that it may be possible to be grandfathered as a non-conforming use (IF you were in business as a short term rental prior to implementation). A test case is currently in process and we hope to provide additional information soon. We STRONGLY recommend that after this process is defined, you work with our attorney to obtain this non-conforming use permit.
Low Inventory Means Opportunity
Currently, there are 7 Floating properties for sale in Seattle, 1 rental, and one floating fixer property that must leave Seattle waters. Prices range from $75K for the Floating Fixer that must move out of Seattle, to $2,750,000 for a stunning 4 Bedroom, 1.75 Bath floating home. What does this mean as far as an opportunity? No new floating homes allowed in Seattle (except as a replacement). No new houseboats are allowed in Seattle (except as replacements). This means a FIXED INVENTORY. Increasing demand with a fixed inventory means increasing prices.
Opportunity also exists if you are ready to list your floating property. We have been getting top dollar for floating properties and the price per square foot has been on a steady rise. We would love to consult with you if you are considering listing your floating property.
Please be Careful
Buying or Selling Floating properties requires special knowledge and skills. These are VERY different from residential properties and choosing the right agent is extremely important. We have been involved with floating properties for the last 12 years and are HUGE advocates for the floating property community. We live on the water and know what it takes to buy or sell a floating property.
CLICK HERE To view all floating properties.
Have a Wonderful Valentine's Day!
Contact us if we can be of assistance with any of your Real Estate needs. We love what we do and enjoy helping people make their dreams come true.
Life is Better When You Own It!™