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23 May 2016
There is such as thing as architectural chaos. It’s hard to define, but I’m reminded of how Justice Stewart Potter described pornography in a 1964 Supreme Court case. He famously said, “I know it when I see it.” That’s how architectural chaos is. It would be virtually impossible to define, but I definitely know it when I see it.
I showed three homes yesterday to a couple who are very excited about moving to the Sequim area, and each of the three homes was unique and substantially different than the others. The first home was nice and fairly traditional, but as we walked through the home, nothing happened. In other words, it wasn’t emotionally thrilling, exciting, or moving. It was just a floor plan. Nothing weird, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
The second home we walked through was a delight from the moment we walked in the front door. There was no architectural chaos in this home. This was a home built in the ’70s, but the floor plan was especially pleasing. It was a little different than the traditional living room, dining room, kitchen combo, but it was somehow very pleasing on a deep emotional level. The kitchen and dining room had been remodeled nicely, and everything seemed to flow. This is what really wise architects do. A great architect creates a floor plan that flows and is pleasing to the emotions and the subconscious. On paper, the average person cannot tell the difference, but when you walk through a home with architectural chaos, your spirit will know it immediately. You may not be able to define it, but when you see it, you’ll know it.
The third home we viewed was a modern home, probably 40 years newer than the second home, and it was built with excellent materials and workmanship. But . . . this home instantly sent messages of architectural chaos to me and my clients. It was subconscious at first, but then as we walked around the home and discussed its features, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we began to recognize the architectural chaos we were feeling deep inside.
A good architect will not create architectural chaos, but clients often have an idea they will insist an architect put to paper. What’s an architect to do if the client insists on a certain floor plan if the client is the boss and the client is signing the checks?
This home had a combination of big archways Spanish style adjacent to contemporary obtuse angles and something that appeared to be a combination of several architectural styles. The result was architectural chaos that you could feel, but not necessarily describe. No wonder this home had been on the market for a long time. While no one probably understood why this home had not sold for a long time in a very hot market when almost everything was selling, I believe the reason had more to do with architectural chaos than anything else.
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22 May 2016
I’ve reflected on how it is that happiness is so prevalent in Sequim among so many retirees. I’ve written about how Sequim is the happiest place I’ve ever lived, and my own research in communicating with hundreds of Sequim residents who have retired in Sequim from all over the United States has proven that many others feel the same. A national survey by the Huffington Post concluded that Sequim, Washington is the Number One Place in the U.S. to Grow Old and Be Happy. [Read Happiness in Sequim.]
In an earlier article I wrote, “While the list of things in Sequim that contribute to our happiness are important, I think retirees who move to Sequim have figured something else out from a lifetime of conscientious learning and growing. I think they figured out how to answer the question, “how can I be happy?” [Read How Can I Be Happy?]
Years ago Sequim was named one of the 10 best places to retire in America in a national travel magazine. Here’s what I think. Happiness in a place is not just the result of a wonderful climate and weather, or great recreational opportunities, or one’s career work or retirement activities–it is also and primarily the result of a person’s deepest beliefs about happiness. Happy people have a way of thinking that is different than unhappy people.
Life’s journey is different for each of us, but I believe our elder years are meant to be the best years of our lives. Wisdom comes with age, if we are teachable and humble. There’s a peace and contentment that comes with a lifetime of experiencing life in all its dimensions. We gain a control over our emotions, and we have balance and moderation in our lives. There is more stability and predictability, less stress and uncertainty. We know what we want, how to live, and what not to do in order to be happy.
What I find amazing is how so many incredible people are retiring to Sequim. In what is almost mystical, Sequim is attracting extraordinary people, but I don’t think it’s coincidence or happenstance. These are people who know what happiness is, and how to live it, and they know how to find the ideal place suitable for a retirement that is full of happiness. These are people who are mature on every level, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. [I recommend my book Manage Your Energy Not Your Time.]
I’ve lived in Sequim for 22 years, and I am one example of thousands who find living in Sequim to be a big factor in my own happiness. And my work as a real estate broker representing buyers from all over the country brings me a great deal of joy. Working with so many genuinely happy clients is also a big factor in my own happiness.
What would you attribute to your happiness?
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21 May 2016
What happens if get a low appraisal that comes in below your purchase price? This could turn into a nightmare scenario, but there is a seasoned approach to handling a low appraisal. First, we’ll look at the immediate consequences, and then we’ll look at the solutions.
It does not happen very often, but once in a great while a low appraisal comes in below the purchase price. When that happens, the contract language provides options for the buyer and seller. Upon receiving a low appraisal, the buyer issues a Notice of Low Appraisal to the seller. The Notice of Low Appraisal presents the seller with three options:
Option 1: Seller hereby gives notice that a reappraisal or reconsideration of value has been completed in an amount not less than the Purchase Price. Buyer shall promptly seek lender’s approval of the reappraised or reconsideration of value.
Option 2: Seller hereby consents to reduce the Purchase Price to $______ (an amount not more than the amount specified in the appraisal or reappraisal by the original appraiser, or an appraisal by another appraiser acceptable to Buyer’s lender, whichever is higher).
Option 3: Seller hereby gives notice that Seller rejects Buyer’s notice of low appraiser and (1) will not cause a reappraisal or reconsideration of value to be completed; and (2) does not consent to a reduction of the Purchase Price.
While these look like logical options for a seller, and they are, there really is only one practical option for a seller in this real estate market: lower the price to match the low appraisal value. Why is this the only practical option?
I represented a buyer in the purchase of their home in Sequim, and the appraisal came in $30,000 less than the agreed price, which was just under $400,000. That was a surprise to all of us. The sellers were quite disappointed naturally, but here’s why their only practical remedy was to accept the lower price.
The buyer’s lender will only extend a loan based on the loan to value ratio (i.e. 80%) of the purchase price or the appraisal value, whichever is lower. The only way a buyer could pay a higher price above the appraised value is if the buyer came up with the additional cash for the difference. In this case, the buyer would have to come up with their 20% down payment of the appraised value plus an additional $30,000 in cash to make up the difference. That simply doesn’t work for most buyers, and buyers would generally be adverse to paying more than the appraised value anyway.
If a seller chooses the reappraisal option, the entire closing will have to be extended for weeks to have time for another appraiser to come in and then what do you get? You get a second appraisal that probably comes in fairly close to the first appraisal since they are using the same sales comps and replacement costs in their evaluation. If the second appraisal comes in higher, you would still have the challenge of getting the buyer’s lender (the underwriter) to accept the second appraisal, and that simply may not happen. Meanwhile everyone’s plans have been delayed by weeks, and the buyer’s are in a nightmare scenario, because they have no place to live during all of this, and the seller’s probably packed everything up in boxes and are practically moved out of the home. In addition, the sellers are also probably buyers for a home where they intend to move to, and that is means they have another pending transaction that will have to have the closing date extended, and that might not work for those sellers.
In my buyer’s transaction, the sellers did agree to reduce the price by $30,000, and everyone will be able to move on with their plans. A low appraisal is rare, but when it does happen, it is unfortunate for the sellers especially. The practical solution in most cases of a low appraisal is for the sellers to agree to reduce the price. There are exceptions to this rule, but those exceptions are as rare as the low appraisal itself.
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19 May 2016
Cows are a common sight on the Olympic Peninsula, including Sequim, Port Angeles, and Port Townsend. Many who move to this area want a little acreage, and enjoy having a horse, or a cow or two, and perhaps some sheep or goats. Chickens are also popular. If you’ve lived in a condo or on a postage sized lot in the Bay area or any metropolitan area, you may long to have room to breath and have a few animals. Moving from Los Angeles to Sequim is like a breath of fresh air literally, and walking around on two acres in Sequim is like being set free after sharing a neighborhood area no bigger than a prison playground.
No wonder many who retire to Sequim want to spread their wings and have some cows or a horse or some sheep. Some retirees have told me they feel like they are free for the first time in decades. I understand the feeling. I have a cow and two sheep on my 2.58 acres.
If you do want cows or other animals, make sure the property you want to buy does not prohibit animals in the covenants. Of course, if you’re looking at property in the city limits of Sequim or Port Angeles, the zoning code prohibits farm animals.
It’s not easy to find a property that is suitable for animals like horses and cows and sheep, but you do need enough acreage to support the animals, and there are other obvious questions about fencing, grass, watering (and irrigation if the property is within the water management area). We don’t have any pig farms in the area, but if you intend to have a “sounder of swine” you’ll need to do a lot of due diligence, because you could get some push back from neighbors.
If you have several acres as I do, you may want a couple of grazing cows or other animals to keep the grass in the fields neatly mowed right up to the fences and around the fence posts. I don’t have to mow or use a weed eater in my fields, because the cows and sheep do all the work, and they do an exceedingly good job.
The other important feature to look for would be a small barn or horse stalls, or at least shelter that can protect the animals during storms. Cows and horses are tough, but in cold or rainy weather, they do need shelter.
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18 May 2016
Loyalty is earned, not automatically deserved. This subject comes up periodically because some buyers have the mistaken notion that they owe their undivided loyalty to the first Realtor they talk to, and other buyers will use several Realtors at the same time with no sense of loyalty at all. The first approach is not wise if you want good representation, and the second is unfair to the Realtors. So where is the balance?
How do we define loyalty, or where is the line in the sand that defines when a buyer owes their Buyer’s Agent undivided loyalty? This article is less concerned with a Realtor’s hurt feelings than it is on focusing on what is right and reasonable and courteous, consistent with a buyer’s best interests.
First, it is surprising that some buyers will hire the first Realtor they talk to with no research, no due diligence, and no idea if that Realtor has a foundation of real estate knowledge, or if they are competent, professional, honest, good with contracts and legal language, understand the extensive due diligence a buyer needs help with, are top notch negotiators, and have good communication skills. Believe it or not, according to the National Association of Realtors about 85% of buyers hire the first Realtor they talk to on the phone, no questions asked. With the power of the Internet today, there really is no excuse for not doing research on your buyer’s agent to help you filter agents in the very beginning, so the question of whether a Realtor has begun to earn loyalty should be addressed right away. Even if the answers are positive with your preliminary research online, an agent has not yet earned your undying loyalty. [Read about Loyalty at Buyer Beware.] Read the rest of this entry »
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13 May 2016
The topic of discount real estate commissions comes up in articles published a couple times a year by journalists, which then enourages FSBOs (For-Sale-By-Owners) to try to sell their own homes or find a broker who offers discount real estate commissions. I’m a real estate broker and real estate attorney (ret.) who is in constant pursuit of the truth on all things real estate (and in the rest of my life). Because of misconceptions about discount real estate commissions, today I want to share some important truisms on this subject.
There are a number of brokers across the country experimenting with discount real estate commissions (as well as multi-level commissions or “profit sharing” as they like to call it), but none are setting the world on fire or attracting top talent. A full time professional Realtor cannot make a living if they only get paid $50 for showing a house and $100 to present an offer. That’s simply not a sustainable service. [Read about one broker offering Discount Real Estate Commissions.]
Redfin is the largest brokerage offering discount real estate commissions, and they have struggled to survive, although they’ve been in business for 10 years. Today they are still not profitable, which means they are losing money every year. Their investors are still hoping that someday Redfin will become profitable, but it hasn’t happened after a decade. It is not a sustainable business model. [Read more about Redfin’s failure.]
Another Seattle broker offers discount real estate commissions by listing property for a flat fee of $350.00. For that the property owner gets their property listed in the Northwest MLS, plus they get a little sign and some flyers. I’ve personally interviewed a half dozen people who used that service over the past decade, and all of them were angry at what they perceived to be misrepresentations in the services they thought they were going to get, and none of them sold their homes with that service. Read the rest of this entry »
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11 May 2016
Covenants or CC&Rs are officially called “Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions.” Covenants are the documents that define what you can and cannot do on your property. If you want to have a horse on your property, read the covenants to make sure there is no restriction on horses. If you want to convert a home to a B&B (bed & breakfast) or rent out the home as a vacation rental, make sure you are not prohibited from doing so in the covenants. In this article I’ll share when and how do you can get a copy of the covenants for the property you want to buy.
Covenants are created when a real estate developer creates the plat and the separate document known as the covenants. The covenants may authorize a homeowner’s association (HOA), which may be incorporated or unincorporated. The HOA can be organized with officers, a board, and the membership, or an HOA may be an informal creation that does nothing and has no meetings. The size of your subdivision, and the complexity of the issues will determine whether a formal organization is necessary.
The HOA can create Bylaws, which define how the HOA functions, how officers and board members are elected, and how voting is handled. The percentage of votes required to pass a motion will be spelled out in the covenants. Some HOAs required a 100% vote on motions, others required 75%, and others just a majority.
Covenants are recorded in the county auditor’s office, and since about 1986, all the real estate documents are available online now. Covenants for a particular property are hard to find, but with some practice they can be found . . . sometimes.
First, go to the Clallam County Auditor’s Site. Once inside the site, you’ll need to enter the appropriate reference number for the property’s covenants. If you have a recording number, enter that in the right box. Sometimes you can get that from a reference in the Statutory Warranty Deed, which you can also find on this same site by typing the current owner’s name in the “Grantee” box, and a search will pull up the deed. If you don’t have the recording number, you can use the volume and page number, which is also found in the legal description on the Statutory Warranty Deed.
If you have trouble finding the Statutory Warranty Deed on that site, go to the Clallam County Tax Assessor’s site and search for the property by address. At the very bottom of the property detail page for an individual property you will see the current and past owners with the recording numbers of their Statutory Warranty Deeds. You can copy that recording number and paste it into the right field on the Auditor’s site referenced above, and that will pull up the Deed. Again, in that deed you can usually find reference numbers to the covenants.
Once you find the covenants, go to the section that deals with the specific restrictions. That is the section that will answer all your questions about what you can and cannot do on the property. Read more about Covenants here.
If you need help finding the covenants for a property, and if you need help interpreting the covenants, email or call me. I’m Chuck Marunde at email@example.com.
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8 May 2016
What is your Realtor’s job when he or she is representing you as a buyer’s agent? This may surprise you, but as a buyer you probably have a more realistic understanding of what your Realtor’s job is than most Realtors. Today, I want to take a look at what you are entitled to expect of your buyer’s agent.
On the legal side your buyer’s agent owes you strict loyalty, agency and fiduciary duties. In other words, your Realtor’s job is to represent you well and protect you, too. Your Realtor’s job is not to act as a lawyer, but you cannot escape the fact that your buyer’s agent will be drafting a lot of contract documents for you, and so they had better know which ones to use and how to use them.
All this means your buyer’s agent should represent you honestly, competently, and professionally. You are entrusting your agent with a lot of money (possibly several hundred thousand dollars to a million), and that requires a level of knowledge and skill that rises to the same level of responsibility and importance as your CPA, your lawyer, your Registered Investment Adviser, and your doctor.
Your buyer’s agent should know the subject of real estate upside down and backwards. He should be a master negotiator when it comes to your hard earned money. He should know exactly how to protect you with a buyer’s due diligence. He should be able to answer all your questions along the way, and he should be honest, articulate, and a pleasure to work with.
Hiring a buyer’s agent is one of the most important decisions you will make as you go into your retirement years. Be careful. Be wise, and do your research before you hire a buyer’s agent. Your Realtor’s job is very important . . . to you.
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7 May 2016
This Sequim home sold in five days from the date it went into the Sequim MLS (the Olympic Listing Service). If you’ve been looking online and have identified a particular Sequim home you like, it’s important that you know what to do and exactly when to do it. Buyers no longer have the luxury of spending weeks thinking about whether to make an offer on a Sequim home.
This is 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, 2,000 square foot home with a water view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and only a five minute drive from downtown Sequim. It sold for full listed price at $323,000. This is the kind of home that so many retirees want. The listing agent did a good job marketing this Sequim home in two MLSs, and with a massive Internet marketing presence for buyers, and what no other Sequim Realtor has–a 3D Virtual Tour of the inside of this home so buyers could walk through the entire house on their computers in what is unquestionably the most accurate virtual reality for real estate that exists today. No wonder the home sold in 5 days. By the way, this online marketing system is mine, developed over the past 10 years and supplemented by 40 years of real estate experience. Buyers love it with all the free accurate information, and sellers who discover it love it too, because it connects with highly qualified buyers moving to Sequim.
If you’re looking online every day for your notion of the ideal home, I recommend you use my Sequim MLS, which has all the local listings and is 100% accurate. This site includes all Sequim and Port Angeles listings. The site is Sequim-Homes.com. It was designed and programmed specifically the way buyers want their MLS site, and it is powerful and easy to navigate. I created a series of Sequim MLS videos to help buyers find their perfect home in this challenging real estate market.
I’ll help you filter homes, preview homes for you, and share honest answers about individual homes as well as the area and all the issues of concern. I hope you’ll consider hiring me as your Sequim Buyer’s Agent when you are ready to find your Sequim home.
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6 May 2016
Home defects can haunt a buyer long after moving into their home. We can’t all buy a brand new home, and the cost of buying land and hiring a home builder to build a new home is substantially more than buying an existing home, but an existing home may be on the perfect piece of land in the perfect location. Buying a used home is what most of us choose to do. But an older home can have home defects of various kinds. Here are a few home defects to watch for when you are looking at homes.
The home in this photo was built in 1976, and it is in a perfect location at the end of a private drive and with a stunning mountain view. Notice the messy front concrete step. Six months after the buyer moved into this home, he realized how slippery the tile was on the front step, and there was some kind of white sticky stuff oozing up from between the tiles. When he grabbed one of the tiles, it came up with a slight lift. This was one of many projects done by the previous owner.
A latent defect exists when a homeowner, who has no clue how to do construction work, does his own work on a home and disguises it with an apparent normal appearance. These kinds of latent defects are hard, if not impossible, to recognize when you are looking at homes.
If a homeowner did a lot of things cheaply or without proper knowledge during the many years he lived in a home, you might not discover all the problems until you’ve been living in the home for the first few months to a year. Light switches in the wrong places, a bathroom shower with no exhaust fan at all, an electrical panel that needs upgrading, cabinetry that doesn’t fit right, soffits that need stronger wire screens because the woodpecker broke through, and a dozen little weird things that were not done right.
Build a brand new home and you won’t have to deal with home defects from a previous owner who should have hired licensed contractors but did not. On the other hand, I wouldn’t trade my 1976 used home for a new home across town. You see I’m the buyer who bought the home in this photo, and I love it with all my heart, despite the many little problems.
I recommend hiring a good home inspector, but having done that, you still need to pay attention to the kinds of defects I’m writing about, because most home inspectors miss a lot of the common home defects that will annoy you later.
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1 May 2016
A homeowners seminar is needed in Sequim. Many homeowners are frustrated because they have not been having a good experience with their listing agent. The real estate business has changed dramatically, and the vast majority of today’s brokers are operating out of a 20 or 30 year old business model. Marketing a home is not what it used to be. Now there are some answers for anyone who wants to sell their home in this homeowners seminar. The lessons apply no matter where you are in the United States.
Local Sequim homeowners (and Port Angeles homeowners too) can register for this homeowners seminar by calling the phone number in the video. The seminar is taught by national real estate expert Chuck Marunde who started in real estate four decades ago. He practiced real estate law for 20 years, and he is the author of many real estate books. Chuck started his career as a teacher, and he is passionate about a little thing called the “truth,” and in real estate that means sharing the truth about real estate marketing today. He founded iRealty Virtual Brokers ten years ago, and the thousands of articles he has published on the Internet have been read by millions. Realtors and attorneys from all over the United States call Chuck for guidance. Now you can take advantage of his knowledge and experience by attending this free homeowners seminar.
If you’re outside the Sequim area or in another state, you may not have the opportunity to attend this homeowners seminar, but you can read Chuck’s book, The Seven Myths of Selling Your Home., in ebook or paperback. Wherever you want to sell a home, anywhere in the country, this book will share insider secrets about the real estate profession, about sales gimmicks, and the kinds of questions you really need to be asking a listing agent when you hire one, including how to interpret the answers they give you. In other words, this book shares what you need to know to be able to discern truth from fiction, honesty from dishonesty, and what kind of marketing works and what does not work. Find out how Chuck became the number selling agent by total dollar amount of homes priced over $200,000 in all of Clallam County, including Sequim and Port Angeles, for the past seven years. Only homeowners may attend. No Realtors.
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30 Apr 2016
Attic ventilation is one of the important items on a long checklist of things to watch for when you buy a home. It’s also important if you have a home built–the home should have the right attic ventilation designed into the home. I learned long ago that the answers you get in life are only as good as the questions you ask. The challenge too often is that we don’t know what questions to ask. This real estate blog with almost 2,000 articles written specifically for Sequim buyers, helps you to know what questions to ask, and then I answer the questions.
I just represented some buyers in the purchase of a home in Sequim, and when the home inspector came down from inspecting the attic, what he shared set off some big alarms. Apparently the owners had someone blow insulation into the attic years ago. The insulation guy covered all the attic soffit vents with insulation. Dumb and very bad. But wait, because it gets better. The vent from the laundry room ended in the attic and for years had been dumping moisture into an attic with no circulation at all. There were no vents at the ends of the attic, and there was no ridge vent. The result was mold in the attic. Not good.
There’s another important reason for good attic ventilation. A hot attic will shorten the life span of composition shingles. Since roofing a typical home in Sequim can cost $12,000 to $18,000, this is a big deal. And of course, a very hot attic can contribute to higher temperatures inside the home.
Soffit vents are required in the eaves under the Uniform Building Code, but you could also have a vent (and even an automatic fan) that vents out the end of the attic or through the roof. Another great way to get good attic ventilation is with a ridge vent. You can easily recognize if a home has a ridge vent, because at the top of the ridge there is a heightened ridge with shingles about an inch above the rest of the roof.
Attic ventilation in a mild climate like Sequim’s climate is not as critical as it is in Las Vegas or Phoenix, but it is still important. Even with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, an attic can get quite hot without good ventilation.
If the home you want to buy doesn’t have good attic ventilation, you could add it, but first you want to hear from your home inspector as to whether there is a problem now. Knowing what to ask the seller to do and what you can do later yourself is part of the negotiating process, and it’s important to know what Sequim sellers are willing to agree to when it comes to repairs or improvements to attic ventilation.
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27 Apr 2016
The California Coastal Commission is out of control, and homeowners with beachfront property or bluff property are being told they cannot protect their house with standard small barriers, and those who have barriers (treated wood or rock boulders) are being told they cannot maintain those barriers, even if this means eventually their houses will fall into the ocean. This is an unconstitutional taking of private property, and apparently the case will go to the courts for resolution.
In Washington state we have a massive law called the Washington Shoreline Management Act (SMA). It may not be as onerous as the California Coastal Commission, but it does govern what you can and cannot do along any shoreline in Washington. Under the Act each city and each county with shorelines must prepare their own Shoreline Management Plan. Besides multiple jurisdictions, you may deal with more than one agency if you want to do anything along a shoreline. Each agency creates their own Regulations, and a simple matter like protecting your shoreline or bluff can become extremely complicated and even expensive with technical engineering reports required.
All this means if you want to do make improvements or maintain your shoreline in Washington, you may be in for a bureaucratic nightmare, although perhaps not as bad as the shorelines subject to the California Coastal Commission.
Building a path to the beach from your medium high bluff may not be possible. Building your own dock probably is impossible. The last gentlemen I know who built one said it cost him $100,000 in permits and studies and legal fees and many years. He started that process when he was a young man, and now he is old. Maintaining your bluff to protect your property may also be a task of epic proportions.
Read more about Sequim Bluff Stability.
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24 Apr 2016
A lot can happen from the offer to mutual acceptance. Today I want to share the tip of the iceberg on that process from the time of the offer to mutual acceptance. Entire treatises have been written on this subject and the nuances involved through each step, so bear with me as I try to compress thousands of pages (and 40 years of my own experience) into a 500 word article. I’ve had some complex negotiations, and some clients want to learn how things work while it is happening.
Drafting an offer on your next home involves getting the offering price right and the terms right. Regardless of the listing price, you need to know true fair market value (FMV), and your offering price should be based on the FMV and the current inventory, and of course, supply and demand. And if you don’t know how to construct the best terms that a seller will be able to accept in the local market, you may never reach an agreement.
The process goes like this: 1.) the offer, 2.) the seller’s response, which could be acceptance, rejection, or a counteroffer, and if the seller counters, 3.) the buyer’s response could be acceptance of the seller’s counteroffer, or a counter to the counter.
If a seller counters, he has rejected the offer, and is making a new offer to the buyer. That means the price and terms, and all the deadlines in the original offer are dead and not part of the seller’s counteroffer. If the buyer makes a counteroffer to the seller’s counteroffer, the buyer is rejecting the seller’s counter, and putting a new offer on the table.
The terms of a buyer’s offer may include contingencies, such as a financing contingency, a home inspection contingency, and maybe even a contingency on the sale or close of the buyer’s own home.
There are a variety of specific terms under each of these scenarios. There is the potential of a “bump clause” in which the seller is entitled to accept a second offer and the buyer has to match the terms of the second offer or their offer is bumped and terminated. There are potential backup offers, and the buyer will have a number of options regarding his due diligence from the time of mutual acceptance to closing
What I’ve learned is that some of my buyer clients trust me to handle the contract language and processes from the offer to mutual acceptance, other clients have some questions during the process, and still other clients want to know every single detail and are full of questions.
As a buyer, you don’t need to try to learn everything a professional has learned over a period of decades, but I do recommend that you carefully select your Realtor, because if your Realtor is going to do a good job for you and get you to mutual acceptance and beyond, your Realtor needs to be darn good. Just because someone has a real estate license, or just because they’ve been a Realtor for a while does not guarantee they have the requisite knowledge and experience. [Read more articles on various aspects of Negotiating.] You can also learn more about specific steps of the process by using the drop down menu at the top of this blog where you’ll find thousands of articles written specifically for buyers by a Sequim Realtor and Attorney (Ret.).
The process from the offer to mutual acceptance is full of traps for the unwary, and it is a complex process. There’s a lot at stake, mostly your money and the rest of your life, so I recommend you make sure you get it right.
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22 Apr 2016
Does a low maintenance home sound attractive? Sequim is famous for its Rain Shadow, but Sequim is also known for affordable housing and many who retire in Sequim love the idea of a low maintenance home and a low maintenance yard.
This home is a 5 minute drive from Safeway downtown Sequim, and yet it sits up high above Sequim in beautiful Emerald Highlands with a water view. The yard is a low maintenance yard behind the house in a fenced yard. The garage is a large double garage with room for toys.
The house is 1,968 square feet of modern custom quality, including 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The master bedroom is very large with a walk-in closet, and the master bath is your dream bath with a double sink, shower, and deep tub.
Everything you need is on one floor, which is what most retirees want. When you drive into your garage, you carry the groceries straight into the kitchen. But there is a bonus room. There is one room with its own entrance on the lower level, and this large finished room could be just about anything you want.
See more photos and learn more about this Sequim low maintenance home.
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19 Apr 2016
Welcome to the 10 most powerful buyer resources of Sequim homes. Use these 10 resources, and you will see why thousands of buyers before you have raved about these resources. Why do Sequim home buyers love these resources? They were designed specifically for buyers of Sequim homes, and most of them have taken many years to develop and improve with buyers’ meticulous preferences in mind. So here they, and I hope you enjoy them.
1. The best Sequim MLS site is Sequim-Homes.com. Watch the video on that site for the quick and easy intro on using the best local MLS site to find and save your favorite homes. (This site is 100% accurate, which is not true of many national MLS sites.)
2. The best real estate blog on Sequim homes, which includes over 1,500 articles about every aspect of buying a home in the Sequim market. This blog is used every month by over 100,000 people who are looking at Sequim homes and retiring on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula. Bookmark Sequim Real Estate Blog.
3. The best (and only) books written just for buyers about buying Sequim homes, including Sequim Real Estate: A Buyer’s Guide available on Amazon (47 chapters addressing the most important buyer concerns), Buying & Selling Real Estate in the Rain Shadow in a 310 page paperback on Amazon (and now in the Kindle store entitled Buying & Selling Real Estate), Buying Your Retirement Home (in the Apple iBookstore), and How to Make an Offer (in the Apple iBookstore). Learn more about these great buyer resources at Real Estate Books.
4. The best Sequim real estate expertise for buyers of Sequim homes. What if you could find a Sequim Buyer’s Agent who had also been a real estate attorney for 20 years. You get this experience free. Imagine a broker who watches out for your best interests and protects you.
5. The best weekly newsletter for buyers of Sequim homes. This email newsletter will arrive once a week in your inbox with the latest articles about what is happening in the Sequim real estate market. There is no other more relevant free (or paid) resource for buyers.
6. The best real estate market reports for the Sequim market. Multiple reports throughout the month are published on the real estate blog.
7. The best Sequim map for buyers visiting. This map was designed by a professional map maker of three decades with my guidance to include what buyers want most on their map. The map can be ordered directly from me, or picked up free at the Sequim Chamber of Commerce. The map is so popular, the Chamber says they are flying off the shelf.
8. The best Sequim foreclosure site. It’s hard to find a clean list of foreclosures that are actually for sale. Neither foreclosure.com nor realtytrac.com have an accurate database of Sequim foreclosures, but I have created a site that does, and you’ll find it at Sequim Foreclosures.
9. The best database of answers to hundreds of questions buyers have been asking for 20 years in Sequim. Just type a concise phrase or word, and all the articles on that subject will instantly be available. You’ll find this at Sequim Answers. And another site with short questions and answers is also available at Sequim Real Estate Q&A.
10: The best online links to deep research on your potential properties. Some of these sites have government urls that are very hard to find, and you can’t remember the long names, so I’ve compiled the 5 most valuable local government sites for buyers of Sequim homes. Go to Sequim Real Estate Maps and Documents.
You’ve got to believe that anyone who would create all these powerful resources over a period of many years must take customer service awful serious. And the answer is that we do. Email or call (360-775-5424) any time, but by all means use our free online resources if you are looking at Sequim homes.
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17 Apr 2016
How to Sell a Home today is a dramatically different process than it used to be, especially in this Internet age. If you are going to sell your home in California, Colorado, Florida, Alaska, or wherever you are now, so that you can buy a home in Sequim, be very cautious about how you go about selling your home. If you use 20 year old methods, you may be sitting on your home for a long time, and then you may not get the highest price. The vast majority of Realtors around the U.S. are not tapped into the new world of marketing. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s true. So today I will share the tip of the iceberg on what works and what does not work to get your home sold for the highest price in the least amount of time. How to sell a home today is not what it used to be.
When I started in real estate 40 years ago (I’m 61 today), my broker in Fairbanks told me exactly how to sell a home and what to do with a new listing. He said, “Run your listing in the Sunday issue of the print newspaper once every 90 days, hold an open house, put up a sign, and send out ‘Just Sold’ postal cards to the neighbors.” That was the sum total of how Realtors marketed their listings for decades. Now are you ready for some shocking news?
Roughly 90% of all Realtors across the U.S. are still doing what I was doing 40 years ago. I know. It’s nuts. I ask my colleagues periodically why they are running their listings in the Sunday paper when it’s so expensive, and when the buyers are not searching the print newspaper classifieds for their next home–they’re using the Internet. They all answer the same way, “Well, my client expects me to do something.” In other words, many Realtors are just using smoke and mirrors to make their clients think they are effectively marketing their home. That is just plain crazy. Of all people who should know how to sell a home, you would think Realtors would know.
Here’s one of my biggest frustrations. Sellers don’t seem to have the knowledge or discernment to realize that their listing Realtor is just blowing smoke and not marketing their home to the most qualified buyers. I can’t blame sellers. How would they know? They haven’t spent a lifetime in real estate or marketing or sales.
Here is what does not work today like it used to. Running an listing in the print newspaper is so outdated and so ineffective, it is just a total waste of time. Holding an open house is a waste of time. Even the NAR (the National Association of Realtors) national survey showed that less than 2% of homes actually sold at an open house. That’s a 98% failure rate. Unless you’re in a unique hot market where people are looking at homes at open houses, it is a total waste of time and effort. The truth is, Realtors like to hold open houses so they can pick up new buyer leads.
A for sale sign is still important, but again almost 100% of buyers are using the Internet now to find their ideal home. They’re not driving around and around forever until they see a sign. But a for sale sign is till good–it’s just not the way buyers find their home today. Sending out postal cards to a neighborhood is okay, but it’s old school and not nearly as effective as using the Internet to market to highly qualified buyers.
Do you know what the number one complaint across the U.S. is after people have listed their home with a Realtor? “I listed my home with a Realtor, and [he/she] put it in the MLS, but I haven’t heard anything and they are not even showing it. Other Realtors show it more than my own Realtor, and I don’t know what’s going on? There was a pretty listing presentations, and they made a lot of promises, but all they did was throw it in the MLS, and that’s it.” How can it be that even Realtors don’t know how to sell a home today?
The keys to effective marketing a home today is a whole new world of marketing, and few Realtors around the country are tapping into Internet marketing. I’m not making this stuff up. Want some proof? I’ve built the largest Internet marketing system on the Olympic Peninsula, and for the past 7 plus years (since Jan 1 of 2009), I have personally sold more homes by myself than any other Realtor or team of Realtors in this market. I’ve written books on the subject of how to sell a home (The Seven Myths of Selling Your Home, The New World of Marketing for Real Estate Agents), but I don’t think other Realtors are reading books any more. (Okay, I’m being sarcastic. That’s my effort at humor, but my kids tell me I’m not very funny!)
The point is this. If you want to sell your home in another state so you can buy a home and retire in Sequim, make darn sure you connect with a listing Realtor in your market who knows how to market your home using the most powerful marketing available today so they can real the most qualified buyers and get you the highest price in the least amount of time. Do not use “old school” Realtors. Find one who knows how to sell a home today. In Seven Myths I share insider secrets you won’t know if you haven’t spent a lifetime in the industry, including gimmicks, the misuse of statistics, and all kinds of sales games that are played just to get you to list. Do not get caught up in nonsense, and definitely don’t end up listing your home for a year with someone who doesn’t know how to sell a home today.
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16 Apr 2016
A private well and public water system have different concerns, so if you are going to buy a home on a private well, you will want to know what the issues are and what kind of due diligence you should do to protect yourself. Here are some guidelines that will help you.
I’ve written many articles on the subject of handling the issues for a private well. You can always do a search of this real estate blog with almost 2,000 articles of any phrase to pull up all the relevant articles, but here are the links to some private well articles for your convenience.
Is a Private Well Safe? My clients often ask this question, and it’s a good question, especially if you’ve never had a private well before and you’ve always been on a public water supply. Read more at the link.
What is a well cistern? What is a well cistern? This is a question asked by buyers when they move to Sequim, Washington. A well cistern is a large storage tank for a private well, usually 1,000 gallons. Read more at the link.
Well Logs. If you buy a Sequim home or a Port Angeles home with a private well, you’ll want to do your due diligence and review the well log originally filed with the county. There are two important numbers–the flow rate (gallons per minute) and the well depth (and the depth of the water within the well). I’ll give you the link to all well logs in the State of Washington, which are online with free access. Read more at the link.
Private Wells are common outside the city limits, and in Clallam County around Sequim and Port Angeles there are thousands of private wells. Perhaps one in 1,000 private wellswill pump less than 5 gpm (gallons per minute). That’s not a major problem if the well pumps at least the state and county minimum of 1/2 gpm. At 1/2 gpm a well will produce about 800 gallons of water per day. That’s far more than any family will use. Read more at the link.
A private well today is not like the well in the photo above. But there is a lot to know and to understand when you buy a property with a private well.
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8 Apr 2016
The question today came from a gentleman who asked whether he had a moral obligation to work with a Realtor who had emailed him and talked to him on the phone about some properties. This gentleman clearly is a man of integrity, and it’s honorable that he would have a sense of loyalty to a Realtor. Loyalty is good. Honor is good. But does a buyer (or seller) have a moral obligation to work with a Realtor when he would prefer working with another Realtor? In other words, at what point does a client have a moral obligation to work with a Realtor? How much must a Realtor do to earn that moral obligation?
A moral obligation does not exist just because someone emails and talks to you, or because they do some research, or even because they show you a few homes. None of that creates a moral obligation. A true moral obligation could be created when someone saves your life, or when someone does something so big that it changes the course of your life in a positive way. In less dramatic ways that moral obligation can be created at some point in a relationship, but where is that point with a Realtor?
If you have not signed a Buyer’s Agency Agreement with a Realtor, you have no contractual obligation. [Never sign a Buyer’s Agency Agreement.] That’s the law. Judges have also ruled that just talking, emailing, or driving around and looking at houses does not create a binding agency relationship. At the core of the legal analysis is whether there is a moral obligation.
You do not create a moral obligation with one phone call to an agent, nor with two or even 10 phone calls. Nor does one or a dozen emails create any kind of obligation. The Realtor owes you nothing, and you owe the Realtor nothing at that point. Realtors answer hundreds of emails and phone calls throughout the year to clients all over the country, and Realtors understand that is part of the business, but it certainly creates no moral obligation for anyone.
Now suppose you have talked to a Realtor for a long time and emailed many times, and the Realtor has done many favors for you during the past six months or a year, such as taking additional photos of listings with insufficient photos, previewed a number of homes for you before you could arrive in Sequim, and perhaps he has incurred some costs sending your printed information in the snail mail. What we have here is a Realtor who has demonstrated a commitment to you with his own precious time on many occasions, and with his own money. He has clearly proven that he is willing to earn your trust, and if you have come to the conclusion after many phone calls and emails that he is competent, professional, trustworthy, and looking out for your best interests above and beyond, then there is some kind of moral obligation at that point.
Let’s take this a step further. Suppose a Realtor does all of that, but you learn that this Realtor is not so competent, or that she is not very professional, or perhaps you come to the conclusion that she has not been entirely upfront with you. In such a case, if you ever did have a moral obligation to her, she has effectively terminated that obligation.
The first obligation on your part is to protect yourself and your spouse by making wise financial decisions, and that includes who you hire as a Realtor. So here’s a rhetorical question for you. Why would you hire any Realtor but the best one you could find after you have done your due diligence? There’s a lot at stake when you buy or sell a home–mostly your money, your liabilities, and your stress and happiness. Do not underestimate the importance of hiring the right Realtor, or avoiding hiring the wrong Realtor.
What is peace of mind worth to you? Do not create an artificial moral obligation when none exists. You have the right to hire the best Realtor you can find, and that’s the truth. If the first Realtor you communicate with is not “the one,” then find and hire the best. End of story. Some kind of artificial moral obligation should not become your ball and chain.
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6 Apr 2016
Teachings of the Wilderness is Chuck Marunde’s latest book, a story about growing up in Alaska in a little cabin far from civilization. While this blog is all about real estate, and most of Chuck’s books are about real estate, this book is something completely different and fun.
This book takes you back to a simpler time in America when living simply brought great satisfaction, and when being happy was the result, not the goal, of living a good life. The harsh Alaskan wilderness taught me extraordinary lessons that transcend time, and while it has taken me a lifetime to share these lessons, I’m finally ready. [From Teachings of the Wilderness]
I never imagined that growing up in a cabin in the remote wilderness would prepare me for success anywhere in the world, even in the concrete jungles of the metropolis. I had no idea at the time that I was being prepared to experience life to the fullest.
I learned more about how to live a good life growing up in the harsh Alaskan wilderness in abject poverty than I learned in College, in law school, and in the thousands of hours of studying and reading combined. The stories in this book share profound lessons from the wilderness you won’t learn in a classroom.
You can get the paperback version or the Kindle version at Amazon at Teachings of the Wilderness.
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