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20 Sep 2016
Many people put their homes in a revocable trust, and the most common trust is a living revocable trust. This is a good estate planning idea for a couple of major reasons. First, a living revocable trust avoids the need to probate your estate. I was an attorney for 20 years, but I always told people, “avoid attorneys if you can.” They are expensive, and the “justice” system is not so just.
Years ago I recall seeing the statistic that the average probate took 18 months to settle. During that time, your home, your investments, your money, and all you assets cannot be distributed to your heirs. They are tied up in a lengthy and expensive probate proceeding. You can avoid probate by using a living revocable trust. If your kids have to probate your estate, all the attorney’s fees and legal expenses are coming right out of your heirs’ pockets. Who wants that?
Secondly, there is another big reason to use a revocable trust to avoid probate. You save all that time for the sake of your heirs. Instead of waiting for a year or a long time to receive the money or assets you leave them, they have access immediately with a revocable trust. Assets can be distributed or sold by the successor trustee without a legal proceeding. How great is that?
Now here is the key to using a revocable trust when you buy a home. You can use one when you buy a home as long as you’re not getting a personal loan to buy the home. Home loans are made to individuals or to a husband and wife, not to trusts. The solution is to close the transaction with your loan, and then you can immediately use a Quit Claim Deed to transfer your real estate into the revocable trust. In Washington State, you will not incur any transfer taxes for doing that.
And here’s a rare but possible twist to buying a home with a revocable trust. I had clients who were married later in life, so each had adult children from prior marriages. They each had wisely completed their own independent living revocable trust. When they bought their new home, they wanted those two trusts to stay intact. That makes sense, but legally that can get messy. A husband and wife will purchase a home as either “joint tenants with the right of survivorship” or “joint tenants with undivided equal shares” or perhaps some other share as they might agree based on how much each puts into the house from separate funds. But . . .
If title to the new home is to be in the name of two trusts, the legal relationships that husband and wife can have do not apply, and there needs to be specific language defining how the home will be handled upon the death of the second spouse. A revocable trust will normally state that the home will continue to be controlled and lived in by the surviving spouse, but after the death of that surviving spouse, what will happen if there are two independent trusts with completely different family heirs in each trust? This is where there needs to be a master trust or an umbrella trust to clarify what will happen. After the death of the husband and wife, will the heirs on both sides of the family be forced to sell the home and distribute the proceeds according to the terms of the trusts, or can the heirs from one side of the family buy the home for their own use? Or can the heirs on one side of the family just use the home periodically without buying it? What if one side wants to sell, and the other side wants to keep the home in the family? This is why an umbrella trust or other legal instructions must be in place if there are two independent trusts.
A living revocable trust is a wonderful way to handle the ownership and control and distribution of a home, whether you have one revocable trust or two.
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19 Sep 2016
“They don’t know what you think they know” is a statement shared with me about 30 years ago at a seminar. The instructor made a fascinating point that I had never considered. This was a real estate seminar, and the instructor was talking about getting wise advice from experts. He suggested that the experts, or so-called experts that we often call on for counsel, well . . . they don’t know what you think they know. We assume they are experts and know everything about the subject, but they often do not. We have a tendency to assume that people know things they do not necessarily know. This can be such a dangerous trap, and in real estate it can cost you dearly.
Fast forward 30 years later to today. I’ve seen this played out time and time again, they don’t know what you think they know. I practiced real estate law for 20 years, and I learned that when new clients asked an attorney, “Do you practice real estate law?,” pretty much every lawyer answered, “Yes,” even though most did not. Clients never questioned their answer, and those same clients paid those attorneys a lot of money to learn the subject, which cannot be done quickly anyway.
When it comes to retirement investing, the super majority of retirees or soon-to-be retirees, assume their registered investment adviser knows all about investing, how to protect their capital, avoid market crashes, and capture the greatest appreciation over the years. How wrong that assumption is. When I retired from real estate law practice, I was recruited by American Express Financial Advisers, now known as Ameriprise. I became a registered financial adviser, and I assumed they were going to teach me how to invest and trade. How wrong I was. They used computers to create “customized investment reports,” and we were simply salesman to close the deal. The investment community makes money off their 1.25% of funds under management, and their business model makes money even when all their clients are losing money like crazy. They don’t make money if you pull your money out of your account, so they recommend you keep it in the account even during a market down turn. They are fond of saying, “You invest for the long term.” Right. Investment advisers–they don’t know what you think they know.
I’ve been in real estate brokerage for a long time, and I can tell you that if you assume that all real estate agents are experts and know everything you need to know, think again. They don’t know what you think they know.
Now here’s a trap. Every professional acts and looks like an expert. In other words, they look good, smell good, and smile at the right times. Unfortunately, most people assume too much about these professionals. My word of wisdom to you is simple. Do your own research. Ask questions, and be discerning when you hear the answers. Remember, they know how to overcome objections. They’ve learned all the scripts. They know what you want to hear. Your job to protect yourself is to listen to the answers and follow those up with more specific questions.
Do not assume anything when you hire someone, including a Realtor. Because too often they don’t know what you think they know.
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10 Sep 2016
I’ve seen many negotiating mistakes over the past few decades, but the worst negotiating mistakes actually killed deals entirely. If you’re a buyer, how you negotiate is critical to reaching mutual acceptance, but if you have a seller who does not know how to negotiate in this market, you may have to walk away.
Negotiating mistakes come in all sizes and shapes, but often the seller has an inflated opinion of the value of their home. That plays out like this. A seller will ask their listing agent to do an evaluation of their home, which includes a CMA, or a comparative market analysis. Many sellers have strong personalities that overpower the listing agent’s personality. That can result in their agent going along with an inflated listing price. But it’s very subtle. In other words, neither the seller nor the agent are intentionally over pricing the home. In an area like Sequim, many of the custom homes do not have comps that can establish the fair market value, and a seller always wants as much as they can get, so they price it higher rather than lower. They don’t want to leave any money on the table, and that is understandable, but listing substantially over the market is a set up for failure.
First, the seller convinces themselves (with the enabling help of their listing agent) that the house is worth more than it really is. So when a buyer comes along and makes a realistic offer much closer to true fair market value, the seller will feel insulted or tell their listing agent they will not accept a “low ball offer,” even though it really is not a low ball offer. Read the rest of this entry »
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7 Sep 2016
When you’re buying a home, you will order a home inspection report, and when you review that report, you have an opportunity to ask the seller to address any serious problems. I don’t recommend trying to renegotiate the price again because of minor issues in the home inspection report, but if there is something seriously wrong, like standing water in the crawl space or mold throughout the house, then you have the right to terminate the transaction and get your earnest money back.
Based on your home inspection addendum, you have a designated number of days to have your home inspection report done, and if you have a response to give to the seller, you will use a Form 35R, which is the home inspection report response. If you’re satisfied with your home inspection report, you will check that box on the response form, but as a buyer you don’t have to issue a form 35R if you are satisfied and not asking the seller to do anything. The 35R is optional for a buyer and is not required by law.
I’ve written many articles on this blog about the home inspection report if you want to round out your understanding of what is involved and how to handle various issues in the Sequim and Port Angeles and Port Townsend areas. [Read more at Sequim Home Inspections] And you might enjoy the video above on the home inspection report.
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2 Sep 2016
There are many Sequim community water systems, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to find out all about the community well and the water system yourself without having to ask half a dozen people how to find out and wait for return emails or phone calls to get partial answers. In this video I will show you an online resource in Washington State that allows you to look up all the information on any community well system in the State. If you’re going to buy a home or land on one of the Sequim community water systems, this might be a lifesaver for you as you do your research.
In the video I share the link to the state website where you can find these Sequim Community Water Systems, but I’ve included the link in this sentence for your convenience. It’s one of those government URLs that no one can possibly memorize.
I hope you find this information helpful as you do online research on Sequim community water systems.
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30 Aug 2016
Digital signatures have become the mainstay in signing real estate documents, at least for rural retirement areas like Sequim, Washington. Buyers come, look at homes, and either sign an offer while here or soon after with digital signatures when they arrive back home. Even after mutual acceptance there are documents that will need acknowledgement or approval with initials, and that can be done with digital signatures.
Remember Teletype machines? You may be too young to remember them, but surely you’ll remember the early fax machines. I remember when faxes came out, I said something I laugh at now. I said, “Wow, what are they going to come up with next!” I had no idea. Computers and the Internet have launched us into hyper space compared to the old fax machines. And digital signatures are part of your future if you plan to buy a home.
There are a number of digital signature systems, and if you’ve used one, you’ll have no problem using another. They are very similar. When you receive a document for digital signatures, you’ll receive an email with a link that will ask you to authenticate that you are the correct recipient. Then you’ll choose your signature font, and most people just use the default choice. Then you’ll use your computer mouse to click on each signature or initial, and the software will take you through the process until you have completed your digital signatures everywhere they are needed.
Once you complete your digital signatures, the sender will automatically receive the completed form back immediately. You don’t have to email anything back. You don’t have to scan and email, and you don’t have to fax anything. The final document is a pdf, and can be emailed to anyone, including the other Realtor and the escrow company. This technology simplifies and speeds up the paperwork process for everyone. I love coordinating documents with digital signatures.
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24 Aug 2016
The For Sale By Owner is only 8% of home sales in the U.S. as a whole, and probably a much smaller percentage in some rural areas like Sequim, Washington. 85% of For Sale By Owners fail to sell their own homes and end up listing with a real estate broker. Some give up entirely. Why? Why is it so hard to be a successful For Sale By Owner? In this video I share the truth, and nothing but the truth. After four decades of experience and 20 years of law experience, I’m not guessing on this subject. The marketing necessary and the way the real estate industry stacks the deck against the For Sale By Owner will all be revealed in this video. By the way, you can enlarge this video to fit your screen, and I recommend you choose HD 1080 quality in Youtube so it will be high definition.
I recommend reading my latest book, The Seven Myths of Selling Your Home. If you need to sell your home before you buy a home in Sequim, you’ll find some very practical information that could save you from major mistakes. I share insider secrets that very few people inside or outside the real estate industry understand. You’ll find Seven Myths on Amazon in either paperback or kindle versions.
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21 Aug 2016
I have a client who found a home he really liked, and it immediately went under contract. In fact, it had five offers, all above listed price. The seller accepted one, and also accepted two of the other offers as backups. So my client found another home he thought he might like to see, but it immediately went under contract. He thinks he has the magic touch, that any home he wants to see will sell before he gets to the front door. If that were true, he could make a lot of money, but his dilemma is not so uncommon for retirees planning to look at Sequim Homes. In this article I’ll explain exactly why this happens to so many people looking at Sequim homes.
It is absolutely amazing how similar the preferences are among those of us in the 50s and 60s generation. I kid you not–we tend to want the same home. This is the home I like to say is at the top of the Bell Curve. About 95% of my buyers want this home. It is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,800 to 2,300 square feet, newer with a modern kitchen, an open floor plan, all on a single level, and in a nice area with some privacy. Chances are this is what you are looking for, too, among all the Sequim homes for sale.
No wonder so many retirees looking at Sequim homes online discover that before they can actually view the home, it is pending. Homes at or near the top of the Bell Curve will sell in a short period of time right now in the Sequim area, and if the listing price is reasonable, they will sell at full price.
There is another home that sells quickly, although it is not the ideal retirement home. This is the steal of the century. There aren’t very many of these, but 95% of the retirees are not looking at an investment home that needs work. One home recently sold for somewhat over $120,000, and while it was a manufactured home, it was in very good condition and on one acre of nice property in a quiet area. That home will make an inexpensive retirement home for someone, but more likely it was bought by someone who intends to clean the property up and rent it out. That kind of property sells for cash quickly.
If you want to be able to see the status of a listing, whether it is active or pending, you can use my Sequim4Sale.com site, and you’ll see a data field called “Status” which will show you if it is “Active” and still available, or if it is pending, which is called “Act-Under-Contr” short for Active Under Contract. That is the same as pending. If you need help from an experienced and trustworthy Realtor, don’t hesitate to call or text or email ChuckMarunde@gmail.com (360-775-5424).
Are you looking at Sequim Homes?
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18 Aug 2016
A walk through is an opportunity for a buyer to walk through their brand new home just prior to closing so they can do a final check to see if their home builder completed construction of the home according to their contract and the architectural plans. I wanted to write about the walk through because too many buyers and buyer’s agents are confusing the walk through with the normal contingencies of buying an existing home.
The phrase “walk through” only applies to brand new construction, not existing home sales. That means there is no such thing as a walk through if you are buying an existing home. When the phrase is used by a real estate agent representing a buyer, it creates confusion for a seller who is wondering what the heck a walk through is for an existing home. Let’s look at what a buyer is really thinking about.
There is no “walk through” language in the purchase and sale agreement, nor is there any walk through language in any addendum. Those contracts do provide a buyer with the right to do some due diligence. For example, there is a Home Inspection Addendum, and that is the buyer’s opportunity to have the home examined to see if there are serious problems that need to be addressed. There is a Septic Inspection Addendum, which similarly gives the buyer the right to approve or disapprove the septic report. There is also a Well Inspection Addendum, and again a buyer can require repair work or terminate the transaction based on the well report.
A buyer has other options, depending on the addendums attached, such as the right to do a feasibility study, a neighborhood study, a title report review, and so on. Once the buyer complies with his contract options, the contract he had drafted, and after the buyer has used his contract options, he then either terminates the transaction under the contract terms, or he moves forward to closing.
That means there is no walk through. There’s no such thing for an existing home. But if you have a brand new home built, you are entitled to a walk through prior to closing. Now that you know as a buyer that “walk through” is the wrong legal phrase when you buy an existing home, tell your buyer’s agent. Unless, of course, you hire me to be your buyer’s agent. Wait, that’s a great idea, don’t you think?
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10 Aug 2016
This Sequim home builder is building gorgeous custom homes in the Sequim area, and he has been for decades. The company is Legacy Homes, and the builder is Steve Lamb. Steve’s clients call him a master builder, and one of my clients called him an artist after he created their master piece. If you’re looking for a Sequim home builder, I encourage you to call Steve. He is in high demand as you might expect, but isn’t it true that everyone who is the best in their profession, and it’s true of this Sequim Home Builder.
I took this aerial photo of one of Steve’s newest projects. As you can see, the site is being prepared for a foundation, and in the background to the south are the Olympic Mountains. To the north, which would be looking directly behind this camera which is 100 feet in the air, is a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When this Sequim home builder is done with this project, the views from this home will be stunning.
I can’t wait to see this home when it is completed. I’m thinking about taking photos during the construction, like time lapse photos and putting them together in a video. Wouldn’t that be fun to see?
One of the reasons I wanted to share this article about this Sequim home builder is because the quality of his homes and attention to detail that he gives every home are extraordinary and second to none. How do I know? I’ve seen a lot of new homes over the years, and I’ve been trained by several builders. And during the 20 years I practiced real estate law, I saw the problems that many clients had with builders. So when a builder builds a gorgeous custom home to perfection, and when his clients are so happy, they are giddy, and when he does it over and over again, I know we have a master builder.
If you would like to check out Steve Lamb’s website, you’ll find it at Legacy Homes. I do not hesitate to recommend this Sequim home builder.
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6 Aug 2016
“Sequim WA” is a hot search phrase for thousands of Californians who are exiting California in massive numbers of late. Why are so many people leaving beautiful California, and why are they buying homes in Sequim WA?
“Californians are being taxed to death, traffic in the major cities is absolutely horrific, violent crime and gang activity are on the rise, millions of illegal immigrants are putting an incredible strain on social support systems, and the ultra-liberal government in Sacramento seems to have gone completely insane. In addition, the state faces constant threats from earthquakes, wildfires, droughts and mudslides, so it is quite understandable why so many people feel motivated to leave and never come back.” [Source: The Exodus From California] For Californians who have had enough, Sequim WA is like the Garden of Eden.
According to the IRS, over 250,000 California residents moved out of the state between 2013 and 2014. This is a massive exodus, and the implications for California are much bigger than the politicians who are guiding California down the path of self destruction seem to realize.
I will be showing clients homes in Sequim WA today and tomorrow, and they are part of the mass exodus from California. They told me they purchased a lot in southern California and applied for a building permit. The application has been in processing for six months already, but they are told it will be at least another three months before the application will be approved with a lengthy list of complex and expensive conditions. California has more detailed regulations on every aspect of building than a normal person can even imagine, and the cost of compliance makes building a home in California way more than any place on the west coast, and far far more than Sequim WA. The same lot and home in Sequim WA might be 25% of its California counterpart.
Once their building permit is approved eventually, it will then take 10 months to have their home built, maybe longer. These clients told me that the bureaucrats are in control in California and they are driving hundreds of thousands of people out of the state to places like Sequim WA. Maybe this process of getting a home built in California would be worth it, but not when you add all the crime, traffic, drought, immigration, and high taxes and regulations to the scale.
No wonder thousands of Californians are moving to Sequim WA. My California clients call Sequim WA the land of the free.
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30 Jul 2016
The Sequim Dungeness River is one of our natural wonders on the Olympic Peninsula. It is the major source of water for the entire Sequim valley and most of the irrigation ditches, which have kept thousands of acres of farmland rich and fertile for 150 years. The Sequim Dungeness River pours out of the Olympic Mountains where it rains over 200 inches a year, and empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. High up in the mountains I could not resist taking a little video of the tranquility and beauty of the river.
Sequim is famous for its Blue Hole or Rain Shadow, because we only get 16 inches of rain a year, one-third the rainfall of Seattle only two hours away. But we are in the great Northwest, rich in natural resources, beauty, and Sequim uniquely sits with the Strait of Juan de Fuca on one side to the North and the Olympic Mountains on the other side to the south with lush rivers, lakes, forests, and mountains everywhere.
No wonder retirees from Southern California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Arizona, Alaska, Texas, and so many other states are attracted to Sequim. With the southern draughts, the crime problems, the pollution, high taxes and regulations, and now major immigration issues, retirees view Sequim as a Haven of the Northwest, and it is.
As I stood on a sandbar of the Sequim Dungeness River high in the Olympic Mountains yesterday, I was reminded of why so many of us love the Sequim area. There are so many reasons, but peace and tranquility are certainly part of the appeal. The Sequim Dungeness River reminded me of that peace and tranquility.
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26 Jul 2016
Sequim real estate videos for buyers is now live. In this video, I introduce iRealty Virtual Brokers to buyers who are searching for content-rich information about Sequim real estate. As you’ll hear in the video, we offer more for buyers, more free information, more online articles, more books, more MLS sites, and more help for buyers online than any other Sequim or Port Angeles real estate broker, bar none. Check out our sites and watch our videos for yourself. And if you have any questions, we give away answers every day, absolutely free.
We have many firsts as a real estate brokerage, and creating a series of Sequim real estate videos for buyers is another first. Our series includes videos that review the entire buying process for buyers of Sequim real estate and Port Angeles real estate, including the contracts, negotiating, the home inspection, the well inspection, the septic inspection, the escrow process, and much more.
I’ve learned that people love videos. Youtube’s massive success is proof of that. So consistent with our practice of putting our clients at the center of the Universe and giving them megabytes of free information that is accurate, truthful, and content-rich is just an extension of what we’ve been doing for years. These videos are intended to help people gather information that is accurate and without hidden agendas and zero manipulation. Would we like you to hire us as your real estate broker? Absolutely, but we would prefer that you do that only after doing your due diligence.
We will be adding many more videos in the weeks and months ahead so check back and peek at our buyer’s playlist, which you’ll find at SequimRealEstateVideos.com.
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25 Jul 2016
Sequim Lavender weekend was a big success as the Lavender Festival is every year. It is amazing how many people come from all over the country to enjoy Sequim Lavender. The truth is many people love to spend time in Sequim, and this time of year it is beautiful. So perhaps coming to tour Sequim Lavender farms is just a great excuse to see the area. But many who come are close to retirement, so they are checking Sequim out. I’ve talked to many people who have been planning to retire in Sequim for a decade before they actually did.
I spent some time at the George Washington Inn & Estate, which includes the Washington Lavender Farm, and I was not alone. Hundreds of people gathered to get some of their own Sequim Lavender and Lavender products. The George Washington Inn sits on a high bluff with a stunning panoramic water view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, British Columbia, and the San Juan Islands. To the south are the majestic Olympic Mountains. No wonder people fall in love with with the area when they come to see our Sequim Lavender.
A great way to see Sequim is to stay at a Bed & Breakfast, and I highly recommend the George Washington Inn & Estate. This is an exact duplicate of the original architectural plans of George Washington’s home, and the grounds are beautiful, but the rooms are absolutely delightful. You will not be disappointed. You may also fall in love with the Sequim and Port Angeles area, too. And that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
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20 Jul 2016
Sequim real estate listings and the shortage of homes that retirees want has created a difficult market and a slow down in sales, too. Local Realtors are struggling to get good listings, and that has created a serious challenge for real estate brokers.
Sequim Real Estate Listings Shortage
The traditional real estate brokerage has relied heavily on listings to make money, and the way the vast majority of traditional brokers have generated buyer leads is through their real estate listings. In other words, their business models focuses on getting listings, not creating a marketing system of free information for buyers. Their listings have been their marketing system, but it’s not really a marketing system for real estate listings as far as buyers are concerned. Now with the shortage in listings, this is creating a tremendous challenge or dilemma for the traditional brokerage.
Sequim Real Estate Listings and Marketing
If I am correct on this point, this means that the traditional brokerage may be in trouble, because without lots of good listings, they suddenly have lost their primary tool for generating buyer leads. This is not a small issue. It is so big, we could see brokerages with big overhead and a shortage of closings close their doors. I hope not, but this is unquestionably a crisis for brokerages who rely so heavily on real estate listings for their income.
What is so dramatically different about iRealty Virtual Brokers is that we are the number one brokerage providing massive resources for buyers, thousands of articles, several MLS sites designed and programmed for buyers, and a staff with more real estate knowledge and experience than any other. iRealty does not rely exclusively on real estate listings to generate buyer leads. Buyers love all the free information we provide on the Internet, and we’re the only brokerage to provide this level of relevant and credible real estate information.
If you’re a buyer looking at Sequim real estate listings, you just found the biggest and most powerful source of buyer information on the entire Internet for the Sequim area. Browse this blog and browse all our resources, including our MLS sites, and we think you’ll love what you find. You can not only find the answers to all your questions, you can also look at all our real estate listings.
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8 Jul 2016
Bluff stability has not been a major concern in the Sequim to Port Angeles area until recently. In the last few years we have seen large sections of people’s high bluff peel off and fall to the beach 100 to 200 feet below. The area that is most susceptible to bluff stability problems encompasses an area along the bluff to the west of the Sequim-Dungeness Lighthouse spit all the way to Port Angeles. In this article I’ll show you how to identify properties that are at risk, and if you’re looking at buying a home on a high bluff, this will help you with questions about bluff stability. I’ll show you how to do this online, and it’s easier than you might think.
The image above was taken from a Google Satellite view. This is an area just west of Port Angeles on West Bluff Drive, and you can see a massive section of the bluff that recently fell away. The bluff is now approximately 80 feet from the road and about 76 feet from the corner of this home. This bluff is 175 feet high, so as I stood on the edge of the bluff and looked down, it was a devastating example of why bluff stability is a concern for anyone wanting to buy a home on a high bluff in areas where bluff stability is at risk.
If you are considering a high bluff property, here’s how you can do an online analysis of bluff stability, and while this is not definitive by any means, it is helpful to recognize when there may be grave risk. When I talk about grave risk or any significant risk of problems with bluff stability, I’m looking at the obvious. Examples of obvious bluff stability risk would include a major section of bluff that has recently peeled off near a home, or a bluff that is less than 100 feet from a home, and if a bluff is only 50 feet, more or less, from a home, I would consider this grave risk. Remember the context here is high bluff property, which is higher than 50 feet by my definition. A low bluff presents much less risk. Another important factor that determines risk is vegetation along the bluff with deep root systems.
All of this is viewable online now. You open your Google search engine, and type in the property address. Then click on “Maps” and you will get a nice Google map with your property at the center. Now choose the Google map option called “Satellite” view. This will show you exactly what the property and the bluff look like, and you can see how far the bluff is from the house and how much vegetation is on the bluff, if any. Less vegetation or no trees or shrubs means less bluff stability. You can also see how steep the bluff is.
You can measure the distance from the house to the top of the bluff with this Google Satellite view. You right click to show the option “Measure Distance,” and then you place a marker at the house and one at the top of the bluff. Google will measure the distance in feet. This is an incredibly accurate measurement, although I will qualify that by saying that it is possible the bluff has peeled off more since the Google Satellite image was last taken. Although Google Satellite maps do not show you the date the image was taken, you can find out by using Google Earth, discussed below. Google maps and Google Earth use the same image, and when you are in Google Earth, the date is shown at the bottom of the image. The date of the image above is 7-15-2013.
As long as I’m giving you powerful free tools to do a cursory bluff stability analysis, here’s another fantastic tool to tell you how high the bluff is at a particular location. You cannot use Google maps for this, but Google has another tool to measure elevation, and it requires that you download a free tool called Google Earth. Once you have that installed, you type in a property address, and then you use the “path” tool to mark the property in two spots at the bluff and down on the beach, and then you will find the option to measure elevation. If you need help with that, do a Google search on “how to measure elevation” and you’ll get specific instructions.
There you go. Now you know how to do your own quick analysis to examine bluff stability. You can drag your Google Satellite view along the bluff from Port Angeles to Sequim and see how many homes are at risk. It is surprising how many homes are right on the bluff or within 25 to 75 feet.
Read more about local Bluff Stability. Bluff stability on the Olympic Peninsula has become a greater concern in recent years.
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5 Jul 2016
3D Virtual Tours are the latest rage in real estate listings and one of the most powerful marketing techniques available today. Buyers love 3D Virtual Tours, because they can walk through an entire home interactively on their own computer from wherever they live. The tour below is an example of a great 3D Virtual Tour, and you can enlarge the tour full screen. But what about privacy and security for the sellers? Do 3D Virtual Tours expose sellers to thieves?
First, we must acknowledge the effectiveness of marketing a home this way. Compared to the old virtual tours that simply use photos and have the software move around on still photos, 3D Virtual Tours are like a modern luxury car and the old tours are like a Model T. Oddly enough, iRealty Virtual Tours in Sequim and Port Angeles and Port Townsend is the only brokerage giving sellers this powerful marketing tool. Several buyers have bought their homes this year sight unseen based on the 3D Virtual Tours.
Second, we need to ask about privacy and security, especially in this day of identify theft and Internet exposure of private information. I met with a security expert and discussed the 3D Virtual Tours and the issue of security. Anyone who is sensitive to the whole issue of privacy will be concerned.
When I do one of these tours with my incredible nine lens camera, I make sure there is no confidential information on desks or on walls, but having done that, does the tour expose more information than is normally available on the Internet?
A typical MLS listing includes interior and exterior photos, and that includes every room in the house. 3D Virtual Tours take lots of interior photos and piece them together, but they don’t add photographic views that are not already available with still digital photos. Some listing agents like to include a floor plan of a listing in the MLS, because buyers want to know the floor plan and where rooms are located throughout the home, and so 3D Virtual Tours share that information, too.
The county tax assessor already includes a ton of information on every single home in the county, including a floor plan, dimensions, square footage, age of the home, their best estimate of the fair market value, and even photos of the outside of the home. The assessor even reveals the full name and address of the owners, and whether they are in default on their taxes. All of this information has been available for years online to anyone.
My conclusion is that 3D Virtual Tours do not expose any more information that burglars would not already have access to online. Having said that, I would say that while everything in 3D Virtual Tours is already available, there is one thing these tours do allow a person to do online. They can walk through a house to help them get a better feel in a real 3D view. So if someone wanted to case your home, they could use a tour, but they already can see if you have nice furniture and a beautiful home based on the regular photos in the MLS, and the tax assessor already gives them the floor plan.
Whether you feel comfortable or not with 3D Virtual Tours, there is a big upside to using one. Buyers absolutely love them, and they are probably the most powerful marketing tool available today. I listen to what buyers want, and they want to be able to compare homes, which means they want 3D Virtual Tours.
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28 Jun 2016
Bidding wars for homes began in the Bay area in California about two years ago and in the Seattle area about a year ago. Bidding wars hit the Sequim area about six months ago, although with a different flavor than in the metropolitan areas.
Supply and demand in housing determines prices, and when the inventory gets so low that buyers are competing to buy a limited number of homes, prices start to rise until we reach a crescendo of activity resulting in bidding wars.
The inventory is low in Sequim, and there are more buyers than available homes. But I need to qualify the phrase bidding wars here, because there still are homes that have been on the market for a long time and so it is not a seller’s market for all homeowners. And there are homes that are selling, but there is no bidding on those homes. Bidding wars are a reality for a small percentage of Sequim homes.
Bidding wars only happen on what retirees would consider the ideal home in the ideal location on a beautiful lot, and the listing price is at least a very reasonable fair market value. When that home shows up on the market, it can get more than one offer. Bidding wars usually happen when a listing is underpriced and buyers who have been searching for a while know when a nice home is underpriced. They pounce on it. I’ve sold several homes sight unseen for buyers who are out of state and can’t get back to Sequim immediately.
There are not very many of these ideal homes available on the market, and that’s where supply and demand creates a sense of urgency on the part of buyers. I have a couple of recommendations on how to approach this market.
First, you need to set up email alerts for new listings that fit your parameters, or at least watch the MLS daily for new listings. Many real estate MLS sites or syndicated sites do not have accurate data, so you need a Sequim MLS site that is 100% accurate. That site is Sequim-Homes.com or Sequim4Sale.com. Either domain takes you to the same Sequim MLS site.
Second, when you find a new home in the MLS that looks good, you need to have a Sequim Buyer’s agent who will go out immediately and preview the home for you if you are not here and cannot get here immediately. And thirdly, you need a buyer’s agent who knows exactly how to draft an offer in this competitive market and has the experience to advise you if the home is one that could be the subject of this article–bidding wars. You don’t want to pay too much, but you need to pay enough if you are going to beat out other potential buyers.
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24 Jun 2016
Real estate referrals can be a blessing, but did you know a referral can also be a curse? It’s true. Let me “make the point as delicately as I can,” as the Russian Ambassador said in the movie Red October. Everyone has a friend, right? Every accountant, every lawyer, every doctor, and every real estate agent has friends. Friends will freely give real estate referrals, right? But where is the filter protecting you from getting referrals to someone less than qualified? People hand out the name of a friend or an acquaintance they don’t really know professionally to other people all the time. But accepting a referral without your own careful research could turn into a well intentioned curse.
A gentleman hired a real estate agent just because he/she was in his circle. Circle in this context can be any group, association, club, union, political affiliation, gym, company, non-profit, or even a church. It turned out his agent didn’t have the experience to deal with what turned out to be a difficult client, a negotiation that required advanced skills, and complex due diligence issues that had to be addressed diplomatically. The transaction was on the ropes several times. Had it not been for an experienced professional agent on the buying end of the transaction, the transaction would never have closed. The seller simply hired an agent referred to him, and the only filter was that he and the real estate agent were in the same “circle.” He did no other due diligence on his agent.
Now let’s pause for just a second, because there’s a lot of money at stake here–yours. If you only have one filter, one qualification for selecting a real estate agent, and that one filter is he/she belongs to your club or association or gym or church or whatever, that’s no filter at all.
If the only filter is a referral from someone you know who knows a real estate agent, then where is the filter protecting you? Where is the filter for important things like real estate education, real estate negotiating experience, experience in marketing and sales, experience in legal issues, knowledge and experience of due diligence items, experience in handling difficult and numerous real estate issues, honesty and integrity, availability, and other relevant qualifications. Granted, if the person giving you the referral already did all this due diligence to protect you, that would be great, but in 95% of the real estate referrals I’ve seen in several decades, this is not happening. Read the rest of this entry »
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16 Jun 2016
This is the place to get your real estate questions answered, but we have a very unique approach. Earnest Hemingway once wrote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I understand what he meant.
I’ve been answering real estate questions for a couple of decades, specifically questions that buyers have been asking about buying homes and land in the Sequim area. I enjoy answering real estate questions, and I answer them very carefully, but a blog must be more than just cold calculated answers, right?
Who would bother reading a blog if it was boring or written poorly, or if it was just boilerplate staid facts? So every day I write an article on this blog, I seek to connect with readers on an emotional level, too. Any author worth his or her salt connects with clients on an emotional level. But that is not easy.
Many years ago this blog received an award for being “Content Rich,” and that’s a good thing, but that’s not enough. So in my striving to make this blog enjoyable for buyers to read, I find I have to pour myself out emotionally. To do that consistently is hard work, and this is why I identify with Hemingway’s statement, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
The last year I looked at the stats, the 2,000 articles on this blog were read over 3 million times in one calendar year. This blog has a lot of readers around the United States who want their real estate questions answered.
So that’s what I do here. Well, I don’t use a typewriter any more, but to answer your real estate questions I do sit down and type at the keyboard and . . . I bleed.
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