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27 Nov 2014
Today is Thanksgiving Day, and there is much to be thankful for. For most of us Thanksgiving is a day spent with those we love most, our own family. The day before Thanksgiving is the single most traveled day of the entire year in the U.S. as families head to one family home to celebrate and enjoy some good food and laughter together. That’s all good and thoroughly enjoyable, but I would submit that Thanksgiving is much more.
Giving thanks and being grateful for what we have is something many of us do every day, and I can testify this has made my life rich and full of joy. I just took this photo above of Bristol Marunde and Aubrey Buck, my son and soon to be daughter-in-law. I love this photo, because I see them looking at each other with love and a deep sense of joy just being together. I think they forgot I was even there. I know my son, and he counts his blessings every day, and his life, while not easy and perfect, is a wonderful life. He is living it to the fullest and he is happy. He gives thanks for what he has every day.
Of course, while we are being adults, the kids are having fun, too. Here my two grandsons are posing for me while I take another photo. Kale the older knows about posing, but Kane the younger has not yet figured this out. And so the circle of life goes on, and in the midst of it we are thankful. These two boys crack me up.
I think Thanksgiving is one day of 365 days that can be incredible. It doesn’t mean every day is hunky dory or full of giddiness. I’ve been though tough times, lost someone I love, had financial setbacks, been sick. I have dear friends who have suffered great personal losses. Less than two weeks ago my dear sister lost her oldest son. But today I know while her heart aches and this holiday season will loose it’s luster, she is still thankful for the life she has and for her husband and two daughters who are with her. There is always something and someone for whom we can give thanks. Every day of the year.
I don’t know what you are experiencing this Thanksgiving. I don’t know if you are experiencing times of plenty or times of loss and sorrow. I do wish you a heart felt greeting and a sweet Thanksgiving day and holiday. My God richly bless you and grant you peace and joy.
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26 Nov 2014
What if you don’t get the perfect home? What if you look for months and put together a short list of favorites to look at, and one of those homes turns out to be the perfect home, or at least the ideal home in the right location and with the right floor plan and a price within your budget, but it gets sold out from under you before you can get an agreement firmed up with the seller?
It’s been said there is no such thing as “the perfect home.” Some would prefer to use the phrase “ideal home,” because no home is exactly what a buyer wants in every single feature. That may be true, but whether you call the home you find and love your perfect home or ideal home, the reality is buyers sometimes don’t get it. The primary reason in the Sequim and Port Angeles area that a buyer misses out on the perfect home is because someone else got ahead of them and reached an agreement with the seller.
We’re in a bifurcated market, meaning we have an inventory with a lot of homes that retirees don’t want, and we have a few that they all want. The small segment of the inventory that is in highest demand receives the most action and is most likely to get offers. When a retiree arrives in Sequim to look at homes is unpredictable. A person retires when a person retires, and that often has little or nothing to do with what is going on in the rest of the world. So if you’re coming to look at homes, you hope that someone else with the same preferences and the same budget is not also in Sequim just before you. But there is a logical thinking process that I would share that has benefited many buyers before you.
I once read a book with the title, “All You Can Do is All You Can Do,” with the subtitle, “And That’s Enough.” I don’t remember the content of the book, but I’ve never forgotten the title. Buying a home is like the title of that book. It is about a logical and careful process of searching for a home, filtering homes and saving that short list of potentially ideal homes. Then coming to Sequim or Port Angeles to look at the homes on your short list. Once you find the perfect home, you have your buyer’s agent draft a reasonable offer with the right addendums, and after reaching mutual acceptance you walk through the due diligence process very carefully during the various inspections.
You can’t change the process because there may be other buyers lurking out there. You have to do what is right for you when it is right for you, and ignore the rest. Of course, one should not dilly dally once you find the perfect home. When you find it, and you know it, get the offer drafted and submitted. Many of my clients and I believe that there is such a thing as destiny, and that if it is meant to be, it will be. Along the way, I recommend patience, diligence, wisdom, and of course, enjoy the process with your favorite Realtor. Ultimately, you will look back and say you really did find and buy the perfect home for you.
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22 Nov 2014
We are pleased to announce that Chuck Marunde has been awarded one of the most prestigious real estate awards in the Seattle regional market, The Five Star Real Estate Agent Award for 2014. Less than 7% of 25,000 Seattle area agents received this award. This market includes the Sequim and Port Angeles area. The importance of this award lies not in the award itself, but the basis upon which it was given. The award is based upon ten criteria: customer service, integrity, market knowledge, communication, negotiation, closing preparation, post-sale service, finding the right home, marketing of a home, and overall satisfaction. Additionally, past clients were asked whether they would recommend the agent to a friend. This information is incorporated into a client scoring algorithm as a cross check against their average rating.
Chuck Marunde is a virtual real estate broker in Sequim, Washington, with over three decades in real estate, 20 years as a real estate lawyer, and he is the author of half a dozen books and thousands of magazine and Internet articles (and videos). He is an adviser to brokers around the country and national expert on real estate transactions. He created more online real estate content for buyers in the Sequim and Port Angeles area than any other broker in his market. It was partly this experience and contribution that was the basis for the Real Estate Agent Award.
Some of the free online resources that Chuck has made available for buyers includes: Sequim MLS (including Port Angeles), Sequim & Port Angeles MLS with both MLS Services, Sequim Real Estate Blog (with over 1,700 articles for buyers), Sequim Real Estate Q&A, Sequim Photos, and Sequim Real Estate Books.
A hearty congratulations to Chuck Marunde for The 2014 Real Estate Agent Award.
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18 Nov 2014
Have you wondered what it would be like living in Sequim? It’s wonderful, and trying to prove that in 456 words is nearly impossible, but I’ll try. Sequim has been written about in many retirement and travel magazines over the past three decades as one of the ideal retirement havens in the U.S. It has been chosen one of the 10 best places to retire, and most recently in 2014 a nationwide survey gave Sequim the No. 1 slot to the question, “Where is the best place to retire and grow old and happy?” [The Huffington Post]
Why is living in Sequim said to be so wonderful by so many retirees in Sequim and around the country? First, the climate is one of the best and most pleasant climates. Year round weather patterns are some of the best in the entire country. Second, the Sequim Blue Hole is real, and it only rains 16 inches a year, which is 1/3 the rainfall in Seattle, only 2.5 hours away. The rainfall is the same in Sequim as it is in Los Angeles, but our weather does not get the extremes of hot or cold from Alaska to Texas. Try 60’s and 70’s during the summer and typically the 40’s and 50’s in the winter. We do get some freezing temperatures early in the morning on the coldest winter days, but that doesn’t last long.
Third, the lifestyle in Sequim is truly happy. People are amazed at how friendly Sequimites are when the visit. Everybody waves all the time, and everyone is easy to start a conversation with. Fourth, there are so many enjoyable activities in the area, including hobbies and clubs, volunteer organizations, and non-profits. Many retirees have found very satisfying places to serve others, and that brings a deep sense of satisfaction. Fifth, there are more year round recreational activities than almost anywhere in the country, including hiking in the old growth forests in the mountains, kayaking in rivers and in bays, fishing, hunting, bicycling on the Discovery Trail, jogging on the thousands of miles of trails, walking dogs in many of our parks, boating, sailing, motorcycling, horse back riding, cross country skiing in the mountains nearby, and much more. Sixth, we have a quiet little community with a Costco, Home Depot, Safeway, and numerous family owned organic farm stores. Seventh, living in Sequim means living in one of the lowest crime rates in the country. That brings a lot of peace and security to retirees.
No wonder so many retirees are finding Sequim and enjoying the best years of their lives living in Sequim. Come and visit Sequim and find out yourself why living in Sequim is so darn good.
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15 Nov 2014
This Sequim 3 bedroom 2 bath home on one level and almost 3/4 of an acre was totally remodeled. The entire home was rebuilt and is now like brand new. The kitchen is brand new, and every other room in the house is brand new. The windows are brand new, and the roof is brand new. The .70 acres is fenced with a fenced dog run and a large fenced area. This house is tucked into a quiet area only 3 miles from downtown Sequim. It was listed at $275,000, and just reduced to $235,000 for a quick sale. This Sequim 3 bedroom 2 bath home is one of the best deals on the entire market.
This home is move-in ready. Take a look at the Virtual Tour by clicking on the above video, and you’ll see more photos and information. You can also go to Sequim 3 Bedroom 2 Bath to see the MLS data sheet and photos. It’s been getting harder to find a Sequim 3 bedroom 2 bath home on one level, especially with some acreage, and all of my clients have been watching homes sell out from under them as they build their list of favorites prior to arriving in Sequim.
I am predicting that at this price ($235,000) this home will sell quickly. Schedule an easy online appointment to view this home at Schedule My Showing. This is an incredible little home. Roughly 95% of retirees moving to the area are looking for a Sequim 3 bedroom 2 bath home in a quiet area like this.
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12 Nov 2014
I love Starbucks in Sequim, but then I love any Starbucks. What is better than a Starbucks double short latte extra hot? Not a soda. Not shopping at Home Depot. Not the evening news, and not even ____. [You fill in the blank.] Well, the point is Starbucks in Sequim is a great place to enjoy a delicious cup of gourmet coffee, or tea, or maybe a strawberry-banana smoothie. And it’s a great place to meet a friend and have some stimulating conversation, or read a book on your tablet or even do some writing on your laptop. I meet clients here regularly, although I do have an office a few blocks away on Bell Street.
The customers who come to Starbucks in Sequim come in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages. Not that I notice those kinds of things. I do admit that I am fascinated with behavior, not so much looks. So today I stood in line at the Starbucks in Sequim behind a gentleman who left a good 10 to 12 feet between him and the person in front of him. That cracks me up. I’ve seen this in other Starbucks, too. I usually feel like I need to ask if they are actually in line, because I’m not sure. I’ve thought of asking humorous sarcastic questions like, “Does the lady ahead of you have cooties?,” or “Excuse me sir, are you waiting for the rapture, or did you just want a cup of coffee?” Or maybe I should say, “Does the line start ahead of you or behind you?” In the end, I never have the courage to say anything, or maybe I just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
On a rainy day, it is surprising how busy it can get at Starbucks in Sequim. Everyone apparently loves to sip on a good cup of coffee on a dreary day, although we rarely have dreary days in Sequim. Sequim is the home of the Blue Hole, aka The Rain Shadow. It only rains 16 inches a year, and it’s sunny every day it’s not raining. Maybe.
As long as I’m sharing secrets with you on a blog where the articles are read over three million times a year, I might as well warn you about the free wireless at Starbucks in Sequim. It’s great, except it speeds up and then it slows down to a snail’s pace. I was recently chatting with a gentleman at Starbucks, of course, and he told me that Starbucks sets up the wireless so that it speeds up and slows down intentionally. According to this “inside source,” Starbucks realized long ago that people would just hang out in their stores for hours using the free Internet, but if they programmed the Internet to slow down and almost stop on a regular cycle, those rude customers would not hang out so long taking up precious space.
I love to meet with clients over coffee and answer all their real estate questions. But I think I’m running out of time. I’ve taken up space in Starbucks long enough. The Baristas are starting to look at me. Gotta go. Next time you’re in Sequim, let’s do coffee at Starbucks in Sequim.
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11 Nov 2014
Retirees often ask about Sequim electricity rates. On the minds of many buyers is the cost of living as they get older. It’s not hard to do a budget today based on retirement income and expenses when you know what your mortgage, property taxes, homeowner’s dues, and electric bills will be when you move into your new Sequim home, at least for the first few years. But the reason retirees are asking about Sequim electricity rates is because they are planning their budget in retirement ten or twenty years from now. No one wants to run out of money when they are in their 80’s, and monthly costs like utilities must be considered. Today I want to share a tip to help you plan your budget when you buy a home in Sequim.
I submitted an offer on a home for clients, and as part of our due diligence, we began collecting information on all the costs associated with owning this home. That included the property taxes, homeowner’s association dues, water and sewer rates, and Sequim electricity rates. When the PUD (public utility district) told me last year’s electric bills for this home were nearly $600 in the coldest winter month, both my clients and I were surprised. Granted this is a large home with almost 4,000 square feet, but that is still way above average in the Sequim area. Most homes in this area have electric bills of $150 to $275 per month.
I pointed out to my buyers that Sequim electricity rates are very reasonable, 32% less than the national average and 5% less than the Washington state average, but the monthly cost when it is high must be a serious consideration based on the financial insight that when they are in their 80’s, Sequim electricity rates may be higher than they are now. Such high monthly electric costs are now a buying consideration for retirees.
We are lucky that Sequim electricity rates are as low as they are. Washington is the leading U.S. producer of hydroelectric power, contributing more than one-fourth of the nation’s total net hydroelectric generation. Eight of the state’s 10 largest power plants are hydroelectric facilities, primarily on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. All of this redounds to our benefit on the Olympic Peninsula. The graphic above with the average Sequim electricity rates is provided courtesy of a website that compares electric rates, electricitylocal.com. When you buy a home in the Sequim area, make sure you do your due diligence (or ask your Realtor for help) on Sequim electricity rates.
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9 Nov 2014
You might want to watch these Sequim MLS videos. If you’re searching the Sequim MLS for a home, there’s a good way and a chaotic way. First, many people are using Zillow and Trulia to search for homes in Sequim, but both of those sites are full of homes that are not for sale, that were sold long ago but still show up as though they are for sale, and there are many data mistakes on those sites. I understand the sites are pretty and have some nice features, but I’m just saying those sites are objectively and most definitely NOT accurate if you are searching for homes in the Sequim and Port Angeles area. I have the answer, and it is a Sequim MLS site (which includes Port Angeles and all of Clallam County) that was built and programmed precisely for retirees moving to the area. It is 100% accurate, easy to navigate, and has nice features to save your favorite homes. I’ve created six special Sequim MLS videos to help you in your home search.
I recommend watching these videos in order from the top to bottom. Just click on the image above, and then hit the “Play All” link, and the videos will play one after the other. The first video walks you through the whole site with an overview of it’s powerful features that make finding your home easy and enjoyable. The second Sequim MLS video shows you how to search and filter the entire inventory to identify the best of the best homes. The third video shows you how to get listing updates on the type of home you want. The fourth video shows you a great little feature to find similar homes once you’ve found one you really like. The fifth video will help you search specifically by local areas around Sequim and Port Angeles, and the sixth video will help you quickly identify whether a home is pending or still available. Almost all MLS sites show pending listings as active, and that can be confusing.
These Sequim MLS videos will help you use your time efficiently when you come to look at homes. You will be able to filter homes in the inventory, save the ones you want to see, and over the weeks and months before you arrive, you can get updates and delete the ones that have sold, and you can add or delete other homes from your list.
When you come to view homes that are on your short list, you will be organized and not waste any time on homes that are sold or do not fit your personal preferences. This is a wonderful way to find the best home in the best areas at the best price, and these Sequim MLS videos will help you use Sequim-Homes.com very efficiently.
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6 Nov 2014
Here is the Sequim real estate market video for October of 2014. This report does not reveal anything extraordinary in the cold numbers, but it may be extraordinary because it does show a continuing trend toward an improving Sequim real estate market. That is a story in itself.
In an improving market we will see consistent improvements in some of the stats, including a decreasing number of days on market (DOM) over the previous month and over the previous year, and there are several other stats of significance. Supply and demand factors include the increasing or decreasing number of homes in the listing inventory, and how many buyers are buying homes. If inventory is shrinking because sales are increasing or the inventory is not being replaced fast enough, then prices will inch upward. Prices react slowly and sometimes erratically over the short term to supply and demand factors, so prices may increase one month over the prior month and decrease the next. The more important time period involves many months or year over year analysis.
What is encouraging from this Sequim real estate market video is that when you put together all the information, we see the market is improving. For example, the number of listings is down 3% from one year earlier and down 6% from the previous month. This is not so great for buyers, but it is for sellers. The median listing price increased a little, the average days on market is down 13% compared to last year, and sales increased 12% year over year and 12% month over month. This is all good news for the Sequim real estate market which continues to improve slowly but steadily.
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2 Nov 2014
Are real estate prices in the Sequim area at or near a bottom, and if so when will real estate prices start to increase? What kind of appreciation can we expect in Sequim? These are questions that buyers have been asking me as they plan to buy their retirement homes in or around Sequim. Most buyers are not concerned about whether they are buying precisely at the bottom of the market, because either this is the last home they will buy or they will live in it for 15 years or longer, so the bigger concern is appreciation.
We have a combination of unique circumstances affecting Sequim real estate prices right now, and for buyers it is the perfect scenario that we are not likely to see again. Let me explain. The Sequim real estate market is a small market, and prices move slowly and react slowly to economic forces like supply and demand. While prices have gone up substantially in many hot real estate markets around the country, especially in southern California, prices have not gone up commensurately in Sequim, and they should have simply based on the economic fundamentals of supply and demand.
One of my buyers sold their home the first weekend they put it on the market in California, and they said real estate prices had increased 25% in the past six months in their market. They paid cash for a home in Sequim. Another buyer told me they had 34 bids on their California home, all above the listed price. I sold them a home in Sequim too, all cash. Sales in Sequim this calendar year have eclipsed sales in any year over the past seven years of the recession, yet prices in Sequim have not moved up the price curve. At least not yet, but that will change soon.
Retirees moving to Sequim tend to have the same preferences, and they have been competing to buy homes in that small segment of this market. That means the supply of homes in that small segment has been shrinking. [Read The Sequim Real Estate Market is Bifurcated.] Since prices elsewhere have been increasing, more buyers have been arriving in Sequim to buy homes. It is a very simple supply and demand equation that insists that prices increase. But they have not gone up yet. When they do start to go up, it will be a very noticeable increase at first, and then beyond that a steady 3% per year appreciation in real estate prices. Just like the stock market jumps 5% when everyone finally realizes we are in recovery, real estate prices in Sequim will jump a little when prices finally respond to supply and demand.
What does all this mean? It means that Sequim real estate prices are still dragging the bottom, but they are about to start increasing for the first time in seven years of depression. Exactly when will prices start to increase? I cannot say, but my guess is that it will happen in the next 12 months, perhaps after the turn of the new year or in the spring. Mark you calendar and watch the Sequim inventory for homes you like, and watch Sequim real estate prices. But if you intend to buy your retirement home here in the next few years, I think I would do what I could to buy earlier rather than later. Later will cost much more, at least in my humble opinion. That’s my take on Sequim real estate prices.
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