Welcome to the largest Sequim Real Estate Blog with over 1,700 articles.
6 Oct 2015
When you look at older homes and newer homes, whether it is in Sequim, Port Angeles, or Port Townsend, there is major distinction you should make as a buyer, or you could find out after you move into the home that you paid too much. No one talks about this, so today I hope this will help you avoid overpaying for your dream home.
Here’s the trap of comparing older homes with newer homes. You walk into an older home, and your first impression is good. You may say, “This is nice. I like it.” Everything seems to be good. For example, take a look at this kitchen in the photo. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? There are things we just don’t see when we are looking at homes, but they become apparent when we start living in the home. This kitchen is a remodel in a 1976 home. Can you see why this kitchen doesn’t compare with the kitchen in a newer home?
I don’t expect you to be able to identify all of them just from this photo, but many would be missed by the average buyer looking at 5 or 6 homes in the same day. First, the cabinets are cheap cabinets. They are not even designed for this kitchen. They are probably spare cabinets that were purchased at a discount sale. The top cabinet on the far right is a “hanging cabinet” that exposes a large blank side toward the dining room. The cabinet is actually a corner cabinet, and is sadly misplaced. In addition, there is actually very little functional cabinet space in this kitchen. You can’t tell from the photo, but the wood floor is desperately in need of refinishing, and it doesn’t match the wood floor in the adjoining living room, which was remodeled much later.
Newer homes will have a kitchen that was designed specifically for that space, and the cabinets will all fit seamlessly. This may not be immediately noticeable when you are looking at older homes, but this is important.
What’s the point? The kitchen in this photo would cost $25,000 to $40,000 to bring it up to the same quality and functionality as the kitchen in a newer home. Unfortunately, the listing prices of older and newer homes are often the same. Do not miss things like this when you are looking at newer homes and comparing them to older homes.
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2 Oct 2015
This is definitely one of the finest Port Angeles water view homes, and the view includes a panoramic water view from above Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C., the San Juan Islands, and Mount Baker. This home was built by one of the finest custom home builders in the Northwest, and the home lacks virtually nothing. If you’d like to walk through the inside of this home this very minute, you can with this 3D virtual tour. Use your mouse or the arrows on your keyboard to walk through the home, upstairs, and you can turn any direction, including 360 degrees in any location inside the home.
This home is on 10 acres at the end of a private road surrounded by State DNR property, and yet it is only 7 minutes from a grocery store in Port Angeles. The kitchen is a chef’s dream. And there’s a 30×40 car lover’s shop with a commercial lift. The house is completely wired with high speed Internet. And while this home cost the owner nearly $1 million dollars, it is now listed for $699,000. This may be the best value in the entire Sequim and Port Angeles area.
There is a lengthy list of features that were built into this home. If you would like to see the features list, simply email ChuckMarunde@gmail.com and ask for the Port Angeles Water View Features List. You can learn more about this home by viewing the MLS data sheet and photos at Port Angeles Water View Home.
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1 Oct 2015
There is a tax exemption for agricultural uses, and when you buy vacant land that has been in this tax exemption, you have the option to continue the tax exemption, or to pull it out and convert all of the acreage to residential tax use. This is relevant when you purchase a five acre parcel that has been in this tax exemption, if you intend to build a home on this parcel. But there is a trap for the unwary that could come back to bite you in the future, and I’m talking about a huge tax bill for the past seven years. Here’s how it works.
Washington law will give you a tax exemption if you use the land for an agricultural use, which could be raising animals or growing crops like hay or any crop (any use for “food or fiber”). If you have five acres, for example, you can segregate one acre for your home and leave the other four acres in the tax exemption. [See RCW 84.34 and WAC 458.30.200]
In order to qualify for the tax exemption on a five acre parcel, you must have an income from your crops or animals of at least $1,500 per year for at least three out of the last five consecutive years. If at some point in the future you are the beneficiary of a random property tax audit, and if you do not meet all of the requirements in the law, you will immediately be assessed property tax equal to the past seven years, and it is due and payable within 30 days.
When you buy vacant land that has been in such a tax exemption, if you don’t intend to raise crops or animals, you will not continue the tax exempt status, which means either you or the seller pay the past seven years taxes immediately. There’s a dirty little trap for a buyer in all of this. If you decide to continue the tax exemption, but you don’t actually raise crops or animals or don’t make the minimum gross income from your farming activities, you will owe back taxes for seven years, even if you have owned the property for only a couple of years.
My advice to you if you are buying vacant land is to make sure this is resolved to your satisfaction before you sign a contract to purchase the land. Either the seller agrees in writing to pay it, or you agree in writing to continue it. But know what you’re getting into when it comes to the Clallam County tax exemption.
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28 Sep 2015
What are the three best Sequim MLS sites you can use to search online to find your home or land? Today I’ll share what they are and tell you exactly why these are the three best Sequim MLS sites.
Our number one pick for the best Sequim MLS site is Sequim4Sale.com, also known as Sequim-Homes.com. Unlike many MLS sites that are created and maintained by a corporation far away from Sequim, or other MLS sites that are awkward to use and not very friendly, this Sequim MLS site was designed and programmed specifically for Sequim buyers. It is easy to navigate, powerful in its search capacity, and you can save favorites and set up email alerts. 100% of all the Olympic Listing Service (OLS) listings are on this site. All local agents use the OLS, so this is where you will find all the local listings. There’s an introductory video, and a series of videos to help you get the most out of this Sequim MLS site. There is also a 24/7 technician standing by to help you if you have any questions. This is by far the best Sequim MLS site. Period.
Our second pick for the best Sequim MLS site is LuxuryWaterViewHomes.com. This site includes all the Northwest MLS listings for homes and land in the Sequim area as well as most of the state of Washington, including the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolis. Only 55% of the Sequim brokers are members of the Northwest MLS, so roughly half of the Sequim listings are in this system. But this site allows you to search a much larger area for other listings.
The last but very powerful of our Best Sequim MLS sites is SequimForSale.com (as opposed to Sequim4Sale.com). This site includes all listings from both the Olympic Listing Service and the Northwest MLS, which makes it a very powerful site. Even Seattle area Realtors use this site to look at Sequim listings.
Use one or all three of these Sequim MLS sites, but if you are looking only at Sequim listings, we recommend our first choice at Sequim4Sale.com.
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24 Sep 2015
Immigration is a hot topic today, especially in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Immigration is huge in Sequim, too. About 99% of Sequim residents are immigrants from one of 38 states in the U.S. Sequim is an eclectic mix of extraordinary retirees with a variety of life experiences and careers and geographically from all four corners of the country.
I was in line at Starbucks getting my favorite drink, a double short latte extra hot, when an older person behind me struck up a conversation. He commented on how Sequim has grown since he retired to Sequim in the late 80s. That’s when he joked about closing the gate at the edge of town. I asked him where he immigrated from, and he said southern California. I looked at him, and we laughed. I think most of my new friends and clients are from California. While California is being invaded by illegal aliens, Californians are escaping to Sequim. They tell me the entire culture of California is changing, that traffic is getting worse (if that’s possible), and that taxes, regulations, and crime rates are all soaring. No wonder Californians are moving to Sequim.
Sequim is only 100 years old. That means we all came from somewhere. I’ve sold property in Sequim to buyers from as many as 38 states. We aren’t a melting pot for the whole world, but we are a melting pot for these United States. I find it fascinating that buyers come from all over the U.S., but not from 12 states. For reasons I do not know, we never see buyers from these states: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Delaware, Connecticut, and Vermont. I would welcome more immigration from those states.
Immigration is a good thing for Sequim. It’s good for our economy, but it’s also the reason Sequim is such a wonderful place to live. It has attracted some of the most interesting and some of the kindest people you will ever meet.
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21 Sep 2015
There’s a new listing in town, and it is not far from downtown Sequim. This new listing has a remodeled kitchen that you’ve got to see. While this home is only 1,500 square feet plus a 500+ square foot garage, it is a very affordable home for the Sequim market. And it is only about a 4 minute drive to downtown and even closer to the 5th Avenue medical and dental facilities.
You can look at all the photos and learn more about the features of this home at New Listing in Sequim. The lot is a little bigger than a quarter acre and the back yard is all fenced with a deck, with lush green grass and a few trees. There’s an outbuilding for storage, and space alongside the house for a boat or motor home.
Why would I suggest that this new listing in Sequim will sell quickly? Because homes like this in this price range are selling quickly, and some for full price right away and others for a little more than the listing price. If you want to see what is available in the Sequim MLS, here is a link to all of the 3 bedroom, 2 bath site-built homes between 1400 and 1800 square feet priced from $250,000 to $275,000: Old and New Listing. To see any of the homes on this list, call Chuck Marunde at 360-775-5424 or text.
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17 Sep 2015
The purple house. Who in the world would paint their house purple? Every town in America has at least one purple house. Sequim has one, Port Angeles has one, and Port Townsend has one.
The purple house sticks out like a sore thumb in any community, but there’s another more subtle practice that buyers also find repulsive. Dark or gaudy colors inside a home push buyers away, and I know this from showing hundreds of buyers homes with gaudy colors. Most people don’t want a dark purple bathroom, or a green bedroom that is so bright, it blinds you when you first see it. So why do a small percentage of homeowners use gaudy colors that push buyers away?
Here’s what I’ve observed. A small percentage of homeowners are very artistic, very creative, and are what psychologists would describe as “right brained.” Some people are mostly left brained (engineers, accountants, biologists), and some are mostly right brained (artists, gardeners, authors of romance novels). But a few are nearly entirely right brained, and these are the incredibly creative people. Incredibly creative people often cannot see the world from the eyes of the rest of the world. So for them, that purple house or that dark purple bathroom is “touching and gorgeous.” The gaudy bright blue or green bedroom is “special.” They understand others may not like what they do, but they are so passionate about their creativity and how it makes them feel, they disregard the implications of their colors.
The implications of a purple house are that buyers will not buy it. Sometimes the uber creative personality does not look that far into the future when they may need to sell their home. They love their designs, colors, and the comfort of their homes so much, they feel compelled to paint that bathroom or bedroom dark purple. Even most of these incredibly creative people understand that they should not paint their house purple on the outside, but a few of them do fall off the wagon. Hence the purple house.
If you’re a buyer and you see a purple house for sale, or a house with gaudy colors inside, you do have a reasonable option. You can make an offer contingent on the seller either painting the house or rooms “normal” colors, or you could reduce the price of the offer so you can have it done after closing.
Still, you’ve got to love the purple house. From a distance.
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16 Sep 2015
Chuck Marunde created a number of Sequim real estate checklists over the past two decades, and buyers from around the country have been using these to keep themselves out of trouble and to make wise decisions about buying Sequim real estate. So today we will share some of our most popular checklists. (You might want to bookmark this article for future reference.)
I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed by the details in these Sequim real estate checklists. Buyers email and call me regularly to tell me these checkists have been extremely helpful. In addition to these checklists, I offer a free bonus to all my clients. You don’t have to know everything about all the issues on these checklists, because I do, and you can trust me to protect you and guide you throughout the process. I would consider it a pleasure to work for you and with you as you look at Sequim real estate.
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15 Sep 2015
Is investing in rental properties a good idea in the Sequim or Port Angeles area? A gentleman was wisely planning for his retirement years, and he knew that rental properties could be a good source of income. My advice to him might surprise you.
He asked about older rental properties. Why would someone who is trying to secure a retirement income look at old homes, like early 1900s or pre-1950? Because those are the homes you can get for under $175,000. Since rental properties must pencil out, with low rental rates in the Sequim and Port Angeles area, it is practically impossible to make an investment above $150,000 to $175,000 that will give you a decent rate of return. A nice modern home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths is likely to be $250,000 to $300,000, and with rents ranging from $600 to a maximum of $1,400 for a very nice home, rental properties are hard to justify on paper.
Buying a 1930s home that was remodeled with the idea of renting it out to a good tenant with few problems and a sweet positive cash flow is probably a pipe dream in this area. There are only a hundred potential hidden defects in an old home that could cost you $5,000 to $30,000 to repair. Some of these old homes have foundations that could need to be completely replaced. Imagine how much that could cost? Then there’s old wiring. What if the county building department red flagged the house and told you it had to be completely rewired up to the current code? Try replacing an entire heating system in an old home. What if the tenant decides to sue you for mold you didn’t know about? You might as well just quit claim the house to the tenant at that point. There are far too many problems with old homes to seriously consider them as a safe and secure retirement income. Safe and secure they are not.
Good rental properties would be fairly modern, post 1980s, and be the kind of homes that “good tenants” would actually want to live in for a while. While it may not guarantee a good ROI (return on investment), if you can pay in cash, in the long run the small rate of return and the appreciation can and will provide a very solid retirement income in the next 10 to 20 years. If you’re planning to get a big mortgage, it just won’t work. That’s my opinion on rental properties in the Sequim area.
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14 Sep 2015
Let’s compare the San Juan Islands with Sequim. If you’re planning to retire to the great Northwest from California or Arizona or Texas, you’re undoubtedly looking for a milder climate, but what else are you looking for? Your online search may lead you to the beautiful islands of the Northwest outside the Seattle metropolis, the San Juan Islands. So how do we compare the San Juan Islands with Sequim?
Sequim has annual rainfall of 16.2 inches while Friday Harbor on San Juan Island has annual rainfall of 28.2. That means the San Juan Islands get 12 more inches of rain annually. Sequim is famous for its Blue Hole or Rain Shadow getting one-third the rainfall of Seattle. The San Juan Islands are just a little beyond the Blue Hole. The temperatures in the summer and winter are similar. Sequim recorded the warmest temperature of 94°F in 2007, and Friday Harbor recorded the lowest temperature of -8°F in 1950. In both places most of the time summer temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, and the winter temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Living on San Juan Island means access to the mainland is by ferry only. The ferry trip is one hour and five minutes one way. That takes you from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to Anacortes. From Anacortes to Seattle is one hour and 30 minutes, if you’re not driving in rush hour traffic. You may want to plan additional time for potential ferry or driving delays. Sequim is a two hour drive from Sea-Tac or a two and a half hour drive from Seattle, or you can take the Bainbridge ferry, which is one hour from Sequim and a 30 minute ferry ride to downtown Seattle. Sequim has Highway 101 access in all directions. Depending on your personal preferences for travel, this is an important consideration when you compare the San Juan Islands and Sequim.
The islands are fairly remote when it comes to shopping. Residents who want to shop will need to go to the mainland for most shopping. Sequim is fortunate to have a number of major stores, including Safeway, QFC, J.C. Penney’s, Home Depot, Petco, Costco, and of course Starbucks. Both San Juan Island and Sequim have boutique shops. Sequim is a 50 minute drive from Silverdale, which has a large mall and lots of shopping. When you compare the San Juan Islands and Sequim on shopping, most women will clearly prefer Sequim.
Compare the San Juan Islands Recreation.
Both the San Juan Islands and Sequim boast extraordinary recreational opportunities on the water, and on that level they are probably equal. Sequim is blessed with the Olympic National Forest to the south and hundreds of miles of hiking trails in old growth forests. From Sequim around the Olympic Peninsula are plenty of inland fishing and hunting opportunities.
Compare the Sailing and Boating
The San Juan Islands have plenty of sailing and boating opportunities, but Sequim and Port Angeles have plenty of surface water and sheltered bays, too. This may be a wash in terms of comparison, but Port Angeles does have substantially more maintenance facilities and equipment repair facilities along the Port Angeles Marina than the San Juan Islands by an order of magnitude.
Compare the San Juan Islands Real Estate Prices.
San Juan Island real estate prices are much higher than Sequim’s. A home that is $1.6 million in the Islands may be half that price in Sequim. Here are the search results for a 3 bedroom+, 2 bathroom+, 1,600 minimum square foot home in both locations, listed from the most expensive to the least expensive:
There is no doubt the northwest is one of the most beautiful destination retirement areas in the entire country. If you have questions about any of the homes on these lists, email me at ChuckMarunde@gmail.com or simply call me on my cell at 360-775-5424. Of course, one of the best things anyone could do to compare the San Juan Islands and Sequim is to spend a little time in both locations.
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12 Sep 2015
You will see more than one horse ranch from Sequim to Port Angeles, but a horse ranch for sale is hard to find for the discerning horse owner. This is one horse ranch that is definitely one of the best for the ideal property and ideal horse setup. You might enjoy this aerial video.
You can learn more about this horse ranch, including more photos, property details, and a 3D Virtual Tour of the inside of the home by going to Horse Ranch, and you can look at every horse ranch for sale in the Sequim and Port Angeles are by going to Horse Properties. By the way, you may have noticed that no broker in the Sequim and Port Angeles area is doing these kinds of high quality aerial videos and extraordinary three dimensional virtual tours, except one–iRealty Virtual Brokers and its owner/broker Chuck Marunde. Why? Chuck says, “I think buyers want reality. They need to know exactly what a property looks like outside, and for a property like this horse ranch, there’s no better representation than an aerial video. And buyers also want to know exactly what the inside of a home looks like and where all the rooms are, and the 3D virtual tour gives them the reality of walking through the home online just as though they were there in person. Clients love this kind of reality.” Hence the name, iRealty Virtual Brokers.
Clallam County is farm and animal country and has been for well over a century. For those with a little acreage out of town, horses, cows, sheep, goats, and even chickens are common. One of the reasons Sequim appeals to so many people retiring is because it is a very peaceful community far from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. There’s something therapeutic about horses or cows grazing in a field. As some of us say, “Another day in Paradise.” Are you a horse owner in the market for a horse ranch?
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10 Sep 2015
Buyers, please beware of the home inspector who can kill your transaction based on inexperience. A seller had a home built by one of the best home builders in the state, a builder who had three decades of building the highest quality custom homes and who worked with the best framer, the best roofer, the best concrete men, and the best electricians and plumbers. This home builder was extremely meticulous, and he built his homes to standards that were higher than the building code.
So when the seller received the buyer’s home inspector report listing dozens of problems, he was shocked, because the main alleged problems that the home inspector identified were not defects at all. In fact, the home inspector (and the roofing inspector) alleged that the home builder did not build the home to the code, that the attic and the vents and the skylights and the roofing were not done correctly.
The buyer believed his home inspector. Why wouldn’t he? How is a buyer to know that his own home inspector lacks experience and knowledge on construction standards. The buyer had no idea that what home inspector labeled as low quality or not meeting the code requirements were actually standards that were much higher than the building code and better quality than the average builder.
The seller brought in an expert to respond. Then the buyer brought in more experts to respond to the response. Then the seller had to respond again. All this unfolded over a period of weeks and cost both parties more time and money. The buyer was fixated on what he thought were serious defects, and he can’t really be blamed. The fault here lies with the home inspector who was inexperienced and made major mistakes in his report.
The home inspector issued a report that caused tremendous stress for everyone, and ultimately killed the transaction as the buyer finally walked. What’s so unfortunate about this whole scenario is that there are no serious problems with the home, and the real losers were both the buyer and the seller. The buyer will never know how his own home inspector poisoned his dreams of owning a beautiful home.
The point of sharing this story is to emphasize the importance of hiring a good home inspector, someone who is well educated on construction, who is competent and honest, and who issues accurate reports. Once again, the decisions you make as a buyer regarding who you will hire will make all the difference. Your choices are critical, so be careful about accepting a referral without knowing more.
I’ve written elsewhere that the single most important decision you will make is who your Realtor will be. After all, you are probably going to rely on your Realtor to refer you to a title company, escrow company, mortgage broker, well inspector, and home inspector. I hope the professionals you hire facilitate your transaction, rather than kill it. Of all the people you hire, the home inspector is one of the most important, so be sure you hire a good home inspector.
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9 Sep 2015
How shall I live the rest of my life? This is one of the most important questions anyone can ask themselves at any age, and this is a relevant question for anyone who is in their 50s or 60s and planning to retire. Retiring from a life long career, selling one’s home, moving to a new community, like Sequim, Washington, leaving all things familiar in your community (friends, doctors, stores), buying a new home, getting re-established in a new community, making new friends, and finding a new church is perhaps the largest calculated transition of your life, and one which allows you to seriously consider the question, “How shall I live the rest of my life?”
There are several other major life transitions or phases in life, including the obvious, graduating from school and going to work, getting married, having children, divorcing, and suffering the loss of a spouse. Some of these are not planned and force a transition, but most of these earlier transitions happen in the hustle and bustle of life, and we are so busy working, raising children, and paying bills, that we hardly have time or energy to think about a question like, “How Shall I Live The Rest of My Life?”
But when you retire, this question has both relevance and opportunity. It has always been relevant, but for the first time in your life, you now have the opportunity to design your life and answer the question, “How Shall I Live The Rest of My Life?” without the major distractions you’ve had in all the earlier phases of your life. Your children are grown up, your day-to-day challenges just surviving and fighting the common battles of life are all behind you.
Life will still be full of challenges, of course, but growing older presents different kinds of challenges. As you consider moving to Sequim to retire, buy a home, and get settled into a new community of friends and activities, I want to exhort you to re-visit the all important question, “How Shall I Live The Rest of My Life?”
Just reflecting on this question, and discussing it with your beloved, your life will be enriched. A retirement lived chaotically is a formula for failure. A retirement you design in a way that meets your personal needs and passions will bring you satisfaction and a deep sense of joy.
Sequim has become the delight of many retirees, and I hope it is for you, too. If your retirement is to be the next and best phase of your life, you must live your life intentionally. Know what you believe and how you will live the rest of your life. Reflecting on these things could enrich your life immeasurably. I would challenge you to post this question on your refrigerator or on your mirror, “How shall I live the rest of my life?”
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