Sequim Real Estate in Sunny Sequim, Washington

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Election Year Slows Home Buying

This election year has substantially slowed down home buying in the Sequim area (including Port Angeles and Port Townsend). A presidential election year typically has a brief negative impact on home buying in retirement areas, and Sequim and Port Townsend are major retirement areas for residents from all over the U.S. But this election year in particular has had a huge impact on home buying. Here is what is happening in this small real estate market this election year.

Election Year

Election Year and Home Buying

When we experience major economic effects, like a big slow down in home sales, the cause is rarely one thing. We often find the answer in a combination of contributing factors. Election year is one factor, albeit a major factor, that has caused buyers to postpone their home buying decision in an area like Sequim.

The slowed pace of home sales can be attributed to these factors, and each of them are significant, but combine them, and you have a substantial impact on home sales.

First, this is probably the most tension filled presidential election year in our lifetimes, and it is extremely contentious, and the future of our freedom and the foundation of this nation hinges on the outcome. No matter who you plan to vote for, everyone agrees on the importance of this election year. With so much uncertainty, buyers’ default position is to postpone their home buying plans until after the election, and perhaps after the new year when the dust has settled.

Second, the inventory of homes retirees want in the Sequim area is so low, it is at a crisis level. Buyers are having a hard time finding the home of their dreams, because there are so few in the MLS (multiple listing service). This clearly inhibits home sales.

Third, retirees around the country are worried about our economy and their retirement mutual funds, because there are rumors of rumors of a massive stock market bubble that is about to pop. Who knows whether there is any truth to that, but the concern adds to the uncertainty that people already are feeling.

Fourth, retirees always slow down or postpone their home buying decisions as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

Election Year Good News

There is good news this election year for home buyers in the Sequim market. You have an advantage if you are coming to look at homes in Sequim between now and the end of the year, because many buyers are staying away. For those who stay away, the home they dreamed of buying will be sold to those who do dare to come to Sequim despite all the uncertainties of life and despite this crazy election year. Wait until spring, and the home you have been watching on the MLS will almost certainly be sold.

The best homes in the best areas are selling now, and there are not very many of them in this current inventory crisis. Use me as a resource to gather information until you come. Email, call, or text. It may be a crazy election year, but I’m still working hard for buyers making their plans to retire in Sequim.

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  • Filed under: Buyers
  • Fair market value is the true value of a home, and when you buy a home, clearly you don’t want to pay more than fair market value. That may be an obvious statement, but what is not so obvious is how to know the fair market value of the home you want to buy. When you discuss drafting an offer with your buyer’s agent, you’ve got to be very good at figuring out what the true fair market value is (or at least your Realtor needs to have that skill).

    Fair Market Value

    Fair Market Value and the Comparative Market Analysis

    In a large market, like Tacoma or Seattle, you will have thousands of homes in the multiple listing service (MLS) inventory, and you will also have hundreds of sales every month. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,800 square foot home in a middle class neighborhood will be easy to analyze. There will be dozens, if not hundreds, of homes that are almost identical and which sold in the last six months, and so coming up with an accurate fair market value is easy, and it’s easy to identify the average time period it takes to sell a similar home.

    But in a very small market with a small inventory and a small number of buyers arriving to look at homes, many homes in the Sequim inventory do not have comps. In other words, there may be no homes recently sold like the one you want to buy, so fair market value cannot be calculated with any certainty. The math can get a little fuzzy when you don’t have comparable sales.

    Fair Market Value and Your Offer

    Even professional appraisers don’t have any magic wands in a market lacking comparable sales data. One has to be a bit cautious on this subject, because some sellers and some listing agents may think they know the fair market value, but they may just be guessing. On the other hand, there may be a particular house that does have 5 or 6 good comps, and then fair market value is easier to understand.

    When you discuss drafting an offer, discuss value from a number of perspectives with your buyer’s agent, because your offer should be no higher than fair market value.

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  • Filed under: Appraisals
  • Packaging Sells Real Estate

    Packaging sells, and great packaging sells a lot more. This is true whether you are buying real estate or donuts. I was in one of Sequim’s local grocery stores, and as I often do, I was browsing the bakery department. Mostly I just look. I try to watch my calories (when I have the self-discipline). I didn’t buy anything on this day, and a few days later I was in the store browsing again. I noticed some of the same items on the same shelves, only the date was a few days older. All the bakery treats look so fresh and delicious, but appearances can be deceiving. All that glistens is not gold.

    Packaging Sells Donuts

    Packaging Sells

    Unfortunately all these bakery goods are just sitting on shelves for days at a time with no refrigeration. How fresh can they be? Every once in the while I lose my self-control and buy a box or package, and when I taste them at home, they are terrible. They look delicious with all the bright colors, but they do not taste as good as they look. I often throw away the whole package after the first bite. Considering all the artificial ingredients needed, that’s probably a good thing. I think most people buy this junk because attractive packaging sells. If these bakery treats looked as bad as they taste, I certainly wouldn’t buy them.

    Packaging Sells Homes

    Packaging sells homes too, and by packaging I mean marketing. Consumers are often sold on appearances alone. When you look at a home on the Internet, you’ll see the photos the listing agent took, but are they accurate representations of the home? Many buyers tell me “not so much” for some listings. And packaging sells real estate brokerages. Pretty building? Nice conference room? Agents who wear nice clothes? But what about the substance? Appearances alone do not guarantee knowledge, experience, professionalism, integrity, and loyalty. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people who regretted their decision to hire someone.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do your due diligence when you shop for a home, hire an agent, hire a home inspector, hire a well inspector, hire a mortgage broker, and work through the entire process. There’s no doubt that good packaging sells these days, but ultimately you’ve got to see right through the packaging to make wise decisions. Too bad I can’t get through the packaging at the bakery department and taste the goods before I buy them. My life would be so much better.

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  • Filed under: Buyer's Agent
  • Bidding Wars

    Bidding wars among buyers have erupted in some areas of the country, areas like the Bay area in California and Seattle. We haven’t had these kind of intense bidding wars among buyers for homes in the Sequim area. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have multiple offers on some properties from time to time. We do, and so in this article I will discuss how to handle the Sequim version of bidding wars. As a buyer, when you find the ideal home and make an offer, you need to know exactly how to deal with a second or third competing offer.

    Bidding Wars

    Bidding Wars

    I drafted an offer yesterday for my New York buyer, and when I submitted it to the listing agent, she informed me another offer was coming in later on the same day. I always wonder what the odds of that happening are in a small rural market like this, but it does happen on rare occasions. I discussed this with my buyer, and laid out her three options.

    The first option is to just submit the offer and sit on our hands to wait out the seller’s decision. Of course, we have no idea how much the other offer is, and the listing agent is prohibited from revealing how much the other offer is.

    The second option is to submit an increased offer, which usually means offering full listing price, or offering slightly more. Of course, even then you don’t know if the other offer or offers will be more. The third option is to follow the original offer up with an addendum with an escalation clause. When bidding wars break out in metropolitan areas, an escalation clause is often used if a buyer wants to be sure that he or she is going to get the home.

    The escalation clause gives you as a buyer the right to match the other offer or offers and add a defined amount to the highest price offered by another buyer. Here is the exact language in that addendum:

    If Seller receives a competing offer for the property prior to accepting this offer, with a Price equal to or greater than the Net Price of this offer, then the Net Price of this offer shall be increased to $_______ more than the Net Price of the Competing Offer. In no event, however, shall the new purchase price of this offer exceed $_______. 

    Bidding Wars Can Be Expensive

    The challenge with using an escalation clause is that you still have to define a maximum price you would pay, and unless you choose a very high number above the listed price, you cannot be guaranteed you will be the highest bidder. Buyers who come to retire in the Sequim area to buy a home typically refuse to get involved in bidding wars.

    By the way, after several days of negotiating on behalf of my New York buyer, I am pleased to report that we were victorious over the other buyer, and my client is quite excited she has a binding contract with the seller. She has won her home in our local version of bidding wars. The key to successfully making this happen in my humble opinion, is an experienced, knowledgeable and professional buyer’s agent. Buyers normally listen to and rely on their agent’s advice when it comes to bidding wars.

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  • Filed under: Buyer's Agent
  • Mobile Homes All Sold

    Mobile homes are very hard to find in the Sequim area in our MLS. The inventory of mobile homes is so low, it’s unbelievable. A buyer asked me today about mobile homes (also known as manufactured homes for the newer homes), and as a single woman she asked how many mobile homes were available under $30,000. The answer was one. Only one that is still an active listing. There are several that are pending.

    Mobile Homes

    Mobile Homes Hard to Find

    I sold two mobile homes in Parkwood this past month, one for $89,000 and one for $124,000. I did not realize that they were nearly the last two nice mobile homes for sale in the entire county under $200,000.

    You can see all the mobile homes for sale in the Sequim area, including Gardiner, Diamond Point, and Port Angeles at this link, which only shows available active listings of mobile homes priced from $20,000 to $140,000:

    Mobile Homes for Sale

    Mobile Homes v. Stick Built Homes

    In the Sequim area you will pay about $400 per month for rent space in a mobile home park, although many people purchase their own property for their mobile home (again I’m calling both mobile homes and manufactured homes simply “mobile homes” in this article). Of course, purchasing your own property does raise the total price, and that can be a concern if you are on a limited pension.

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    Noise Pollution and Your Health

    Noise pollution can effect your physical health and it can affect your psychological and mental health. There is ample evidence of that, but how many buyers consider noise pollution when they are looking at homes near a freeway or busy road?

    Noise Pollution

    Noise Pollution

    Dr. Joseph Mercola, has written on this subject: “Noise pollution is an often-overlooked source of environmental stress that can raise your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease. In the US it’s estimated that 100 million people are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise, typically from automobile and aircraft traffic (although everything from leaf blowers and lawnmowers to loud music can also contribute).” Noise pollution is a very real issue.

    It may surprise you, but noise pollution can contribute to heart disease. Dr. Mercola writes, “One of the key ways is by elevating stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure. One review of research showed that arousal associated with nighttime noise exposure increased blood and saliva concentrations of these hormones even during sleep.”

    Noise Pollution and Your Home

    Fortunately Sequim doesn’t have major freeways and the busy roads that most metropolitan areas have, and if you are coming from an area like Los Angeles or Seattle or Phoenix, you’ll find almost anywhere in the Sequim area quite peaceful. However, we do have our own little freeway known as Highway 101, and we have the Olympic Highway, the Sequim-Dungeness Highway, and other “busy” roads for a rural area like this. Some locations suffer from substantial noise pollution even here.

    You can use Google Satellite to examine a listed property to see how close it is to a busy highway, and in my opinion, properties that suffer from noise pollution are worth less than homes that are in quiet and peaceful neighborhoods. Unfortunately, you will rarely see that reflected in appraisals or listed prices, so it is up to you (and me if I am your buyer’s agent) to pay attention to the issue of noise pollution when you are shopping for a home. One of my favorite quotes is from a classic movie, The Princess Bride, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” You have plenty to consider on your list of things to do when you are shopping for a home in the Sequim, Port Angeles, and Port Townsend areas, but may I suggest noise pollution should be one of them?

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    Traditional real estate brokers are giving away the farm and falling all over themselves to hire more agents. I write primarily to buyers on this blog, and this article is not necessarily about buying real estate, but I thought you might be interested to learn what is happening in the real estate industry that indirectly affects you. For purposes of this article I will use “broker” to refer to the broker/owner of a company, and I’ll use “agent” to refer to individual agents working at a brokerage. [The state of Washington recently eliminated “agent” from our vocabulary, and now everyone is officially a “broker.” That was dumb. Now no one knows what to call the broker/owner or the other brokers, because everyone is a broker.]

    Real Estate Brokers

    Real Estate Brokers

    Twenty, 30, and 40 years ago brokerages split commissions with agents on a 50-50 split. The brokerage carried the burden of the overhead, the business development, licensing, taxation, liabilities, and regulations, as well as the business risk, and the agents simply got on board with the opportunity to keep 50% of all they made without any of the overhead or liabilities or responsibilities. The business model made sense, and brokers could make decent money at the end of the year.

    Fast forward to today. Brokerages still have all those costs, risks, and liabilities. In fact, all of these have increased year after year for the past several decades. But brokerage owners have been getting pinched by the competition for agents, which is why real estate brokers have been falling all over themselves to compete in hiring agents.

    Real Estate Brokers and Commissions

    Commission splits have gone from 50-50 to 40-60 (with the agent keeping 60%), then to 30-70, 20-80, 10-90, and now many real estate brokers are offering as much as 100% with a flat fee and a transaction fee for each transaction. One broker gives agents 100% and only charges $485 as a flat fee out of each transaction commission. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Buying a Home with a Revocable Trust

    Many people put their homes in a revocable trust, and the most common trust is a living revocable trust. This is a good estate planning idea for a couple of major reasons. First, a living revocable trust avoids the need to probate your estate. I was an attorney for 20 years, but I always told people, “avoid attorneys if you can.” They are expensive, and the “justice” system is not so just. 

    Revocable Trust

    Years ago I recall seeing the statistic that the average probate took 18 months to settle. During that time, your home, your investments, your money, and all you assets cannot be distributed to your heirs. They are tied up in a lengthy and expensive probate proceeding. You can avoid probate by using a living revocable trust. If your kids have to probate your estate, all the attorney’s fees and legal expenses are coming right out of your heirs’ pockets. Who wants that?

    Advantages of a Revocable Trust

    Secondly, there is another big reason to use a revocable trust to avoid probate. You save all that time for the sake of your heirs. Instead of waiting for a year or a long time to receive the money or assets you leave them, they have access immediately with a revocable trust. Assets can be distributed or sold by the successor trustee without a legal proceeding. How great is that?

    Now here is the key to using a revocable trust when you buy a home. You can use one when you buy a home as long as you’re not getting a personal loan to buy the home. Home loans are made to individuals or to a husband and wife, not to trusts. The solution is to close the transaction with your loan, and then you can immediately use a Quit Claim Deed to transfer your real estate into the revocable trust. In Washington State, you will not incur any transfer taxes for doing that.

    And here’s a rare but possible twist to buying a home with a revocable trust. I had clients who were married later in life, so each had adult children from prior marriages. They each had wisely completed their own independent living revocable trust. When they bought their new home, they wanted those two trusts to stay intact. That makes sense, but legally that can get messy. A husband and wife will purchase a home as either “joint tenants with the right of survivorship” or “joint tenants with undivided equal shares” or perhaps some other share as they might agree based on how much each puts into the house from separate funds. But . . .

    A Revocable Trust or Two?

    If title to the new home is to be in the name of two trusts, the legal relationships that husband and wife can have do not apply, and there needs to be specific language defining how the home will be handled upon the death of the second spouse. A revocable trust will normally state that the home will continue to be controlled and lived in by the surviving spouse, but after the death of that surviving spouse, what will happen if there are two independent trusts with completely different family heirs in each trust? This is where there needs to be a master trust or an umbrella trust to clarify what will happen. After the death of the husband and wife, will the heirs on both sides of the family be forced to sell the home and distribute the proceeds according to the terms of the trusts, or can the heirs from one side of the family buy the home for their own use? Or can the heirs on one side of the family just use the home periodically without buying it? What if one side wants to sell, and the other side wants to keep the home in the family? This is why an umbrella trust or other legal instructions must be in place if there are two independent trusts.

    A living revocable trust is a wonderful way to handle the ownership and control and distribution of a home, whether you have one revocable trust or two.

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    They Don’t Know What You Think They Know

    “They don’t know what you think they know” is a statement shared with me about 30 years ago at a seminar. The instructor made a fascinating point that I had never considered. This was a real estate seminar, and the instructor was talking about getting wise advice from experts. He suggested that the experts, or so-called experts that we often call on for counsel, well . . . they don’t know what you think they know. We assume they are experts and know everything about the subject, but they often do not. We have a tendency to assume that people know things they do not necessarily know. This can be such a dangerous trap, and in real estate it can cost you dearly.

    They don't know what you think they know

    They Don’t Know What You Think They Know

    Fast forward 30 years later to today. I’ve seen this played out time and time again, they don’t know what you think they know. I practiced real estate law for 20 years, and I learned that when new clients asked an attorney, “Do you practice real estate law?,” pretty much every lawyer answered, “Yes,” even though most did not. Clients never questioned their answer, and those same clients paid those attorneys a lot of money to learn the subject, which cannot be done quickly anyway.

    When it comes to retirement investing, the super majority of retirees or soon-to-be retirees, assume their registered investment adviser knows all about investing, how to protect their capital, avoid market crashes, and capture the greatest appreciation over the years. How wrong that assumption is. When I retired from real estate law practice, I was recruited by American Express Financial Advisers, now known as Ameriprise. I became a registered financial adviser, and I assumed they were going to teach me how to invest and trade. How wrong I was. They used computers to create “customized investment reports,” and we were simply salesman to close the deal. The investment community makes money off their 1.25% of funds under management, and their business model makes money even when all their clients are losing money like crazy. They don’t make money if you pull your money out of your account, so they recommend you keep it in the account even during a market down turn. They are fond of saying, “You invest for the long term.” Right. Investment advisers–they don’t know what you think they know.

    I’ve been in real estate brokerage for a long time, and I can tell you that if you assume that all real estate agents are experts and know everything you need to know, think again. They don’t know what you think they know. 

    They Don’t Know What You Think They Know

    Now here’s a trap. Every professional acts and looks like an expert. In other words, they look good, smell good, and smile at the right times. Unfortunately, most people assume too much about these professionals. My word of wisdom to you is simple. Do your own research. Ask questions, and be discerning when you hear the answers. Remember, they know how to overcome objections. They’ve learned all the scripts. They know what you want to hear. Your job to protect yourself is to listen to the answers and follow those up with more specific questions.

    Do not assume anything when you hire someone, including a Realtor. Because too often they don’t know what you think they know.

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  • Negotiating Mistakes Kill Deals

    I’ve seen many negotiating mistakes over the past few decades, but the worst negotiating mistakes actually killed deals entirely. If you’re a buyer, how you negotiate is critical to reaching mutual acceptance, but if you have a seller who does not know how to negotiate in this market, you may have to walk away.

    Negotiating Mistakes Kill Deals

    Negotiating mistakes come in all sizes and shapes, but often the seller has an inflated opinion of the value of their home. That plays out like this. A seller will ask their listing agent to do an evaluation of their home, which includes a CMA, or a comparative market analysis. Many sellers have strong personalities that overpower the listing agent’s personality. That can result in their agent going along with an inflated listing price. But it’s very subtle. In other words, neither the seller nor the agent are intentionally over pricing the home. In an area like Sequim, many of the custom homes do not have comps that can establish the fair market value, and a seller always wants as much as they can get, so they price it higher rather than lower. They don’t want to leave any money on the table, and that is understandable, but listing substantially over the market is a set up for failure.

    Negotiating Mistakes

    First, the seller convinces themselves (with the enabling help of their listing agent) that the house is worth more than it really is. So when a buyer comes along and makes a realistic offer much closer to true fair market value, the seller will feel insulted or tell their listing agent they will not accept a “low ball offer,” even though it really is not a low ball offer. Read the rest of this entry »

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    The Home Inspection Report Response

    When you’re buying a home, you will order a home inspection report, and when you review that report, you have an opportunity to ask the seller to address any serious problems. I don’t recommend trying to renegotiate the price again because of minor issues in the home inspection report, but if there is something seriously wrong, like standing water in the crawl space or mold throughout the house, then you have the right to terminate the transaction and get your earnest money back.

    The Home Inspection Report

    The Home Inspection Report Response

    Based on your home inspection addendum, you have a designated number of days to have your home inspection report done, and if you have a response to give to the seller, you will use a Form 35R, which is the home inspection report response. If you’re satisfied with your home inspection report, you will check that box on the response form, but as a buyer you don’t have to issue a form 35R if you are satisfied and not asking the seller to do anything. The 35R is optional for a buyer and is not required by law.

    I’ve written many articles on this blog about the home inspection report if you want to round out your understanding of what is involved and how to handle various issues in the Sequim and Port Angeles and Port Townsend areas. [Read more at Sequim Home Inspections] And you might enjoy the video above on the home inspection report.

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    Sequim Community Water Systems

    There are many Sequim community water systems, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to find out all about the community well and the water system yourself without having to ask half a dozen people how to find out and wait for return emails or phone calls to get partial answers. In this video I will show you an online resource in Washington State that allows you to look up all the information on any community well system in the State. If you’re going to buy a home or land on one of the Sequim community water systems, this might be a lifesaver for you as you do your research.

    Sequim Community Water Systems

    In the video I share the link to the state website where you can find these Sequim Community Water Systems, but I’ve included the link in this sentence for your convenience. It’s one of those government URLs that no one can possibly memorize.

    I hope you find this information helpful as you do online research on Sequim community water systems.

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    Digital Signatures on Real Estate Documents

    Digital signatures have become the mainstay in signing real estate documents, at least for rural retirement areas like Sequim, Washington. Buyers come, look at homes, and either sign an offer while here or soon after with digital signatures when they arrive back home. Even after mutual acceptance there are documents that will need acknowledgement or approval with initials, and that can be done with digital signatures.

    Digital Signatures

    Remember Teletype machines? You may be too young to remember them, but surely you’ll remember the early fax machines. I remember when faxes came out, I said something I laugh at now. I said, “Wow, what are they going to come up with next!” I had no idea. Computers and the Internet have launched us into hyper space compared to the old fax machines. And digital signatures are part of your future if you plan to buy a home.

    Digital Signatures in Real Estate

    There are a number of digital signature systems, and if you’ve used one, you’ll have no problem using another. They are very similar. When you receive a document for digital signatures, you’ll receive an email with a link that will ask you to authenticate that you are the correct recipient. Then you’ll choose your signature font, and most people just use the default choice. Then you’ll use your computer mouse to click on each signature or initial, and the software will take you through the process until you have completed your digital signatures everywhere they are needed.

    Digital Signatures – No Printing – No Emailing

    Once you complete your digital signatures, the sender will automatically receive the completed form back immediately. You don’t have to email anything back. You don’t have to scan and email, and you don’t have to fax anything. The final document is a pdf, and can be emailed to anyone, including the other Realtor and the escrow company. This technology simplifies and speeds up the paperwork process for everyone. I love coordinating documents with digital signatures.

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  • Filed under: Buyers
  • For Sale By Owner: Why Few Sell Their Own Homes

    The For Sale By Owner is only 8% of home sales in the U.S. as a whole, and probably a much smaller percentage in some rural areas like Sequim, Washington. 85% of For Sale By Owners fail to sell their own homes and end up listing with a real estate broker. Some give up entirely. Why? Why is it so hard to be a successful For Sale By Owner? In this video I share the truth, and nothing but the truth. After four decades of experience and 20 years of law experience, I’m not guessing on this subject. The marketing necessary and the way the real estate industry stacks the deck against the For Sale By Owner will all be revealed in this video. By the way, you can enlarge this video to fit your screen, and I recommend you choose HD 1080 quality in Youtube so it will be high definition.

    For Sale By Owner

    I recommend reading my latest book, The Seven Myths of Selling Your Home. If you need to sell your home before you buy a home in Sequim, you’ll find some very practical information that could save you from major mistakes. I share insider secrets that very few people inside or outside the real estate industry understand. You’ll find Seven Myths on Amazon in either paperback or kindle versions.

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  • Filed under: FSBO
  • Why Sequim Homes You Like Sell Quickly

    I have a client who found a home he really liked, and it immediately went under contract. In fact, it had five offers, all above listed price. The seller accepted one, and also accepted two of the other offers as backups. So my client found another home he thought he might like to see, but it immediately went under contract. He thinks he has the magic touch, that any home he wants to see will sell before he gets to the front door. If that were true, he could make a lot of money, but his dilemma is not so uncommon for retirees planning to look at Sequim Homes. In this article I’ll explain exactly why this happens to so many people looking at Sequim homes.

    The Ideal Sequim Homes for Retirees

    It is absolutely amazing how similar the preferences are among those of us in the 50s and 60s generation. I kid you not–we tend to want the same home. This is the home I like to say is at the top of the Bell Curve. About 95% of my buyers want this home. It is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,800 to 2,300 square feet, newer with a modern kitchen, an open floor plan, all on a single level, and in a nice area with some privacy. Chances are this is what you are looking for, too, among all the Sequim homes for sale.

    No wonder so many retirees looking at Sequim homes online discover that before they can actually view the home, it is pending. Homes at or near the top of the Bell Curve will sell in a short period of time right now in the Sequim area, and if the listing price is reasonable, they will sell at full price.

    Some Sequim Homes Are Super Popular

    There is another home that sells quickly, although it is not the ideal retirement home. This is the steal of the century. There aren’t very many of these, but 95% of the retirees are not looking at an investment home that needs work. One home recently sold for somewhat over $120,000, and while it was a manufactured home, it was in very good condition and on one acre of nice property in a quiet area. That home will make an inexpensive retirement home for someone, but more likely it was bought by someone who intends to clean the property up and rent it out. That kind of property sells for cash quickly.

    If you want to be able to see the status of a listing, whether it is active or pending, you can use my site, and you’ll see a data field called “Status” which will show you if it is “Active” and still available, or if it is pending, which is called “Act-Under-Contr” short for Active Under Contract. That is the same as pending. If you need help from an experienced and trustworthy Realtor, don’t hesitate to call or text or email (360-775-5424).

    Are you looking at Sequim Homes?

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    What is a Walk Through Prior to Closing?

    A walk through is an opportunity for a buyer to walk through their brand new home just prior to closing so they can do a final check to see if their home builder completed construction of the home according to their contract and the architectural plans. I wanted to write about the walk through because too many buyers and buyer’s agents are confusing the walk through with the normal contingencies of buying an existing home.

    The Walk Through

    Walk Through

    The phrase “walk through” only applies to brand new construction, not existing home sales. That means there is no such thing as a walk through if you are buying an existing home. When the phrase is used by a real estate agent representing a buyer, it creates confusion for a seller who is wondering what the heck a walk through is for an existing home. Let’s look at what a buyer is really thinking about.

    Walk Through for a Buyer

    There is no “walk through” language in the purchase and sale agreement, nor is there any walk through language in any addendum. Those contracts do provide a buyer with the right to do some due diligence. For example, there is a Home Inspection Addendum, and that is the buyer’s opportunity to have the home examined to see if there are serious problems that need to be addressed. There is a Septic Inspection Addendum, which similarly gives the buyer the right to approve or disapprove the septic report. There is also a Well Inspection Addendum, and again a buyer can require repair work or terminate the transaction based on the well report.

    A buyer has other options, depending on the addendums attached, such as the right to do a feasibility study, a neighborhood study, a title report review, and so on. Once the buyer complies with his contract options, the contract he had drafted, and after the buyer has used his contract options, he then either terminates the transaction under the contract terms, or he moves forward to closing.

    That means there is no walk through. There’s no such thing for an existing home. But if you have a brand new home built, you are entitled to a walk through prior to closing. Now that you know as a buyer that “walk through” is the wrong legal phrase when you buy an existing home, tell your buyer’s agent. Unless, of course, you hire me to be your buyer’s agent. Wait, that’s a great idea, don’t you think?

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    Sequim Home Builder

    This Sequim home builder is building gorgeous custom homes in the Sequim area, and he has been for decades. The company is Legacy Homes, and the builder is Steve Lamb. Steve’s clients call him a master builder, and one of my clients called him an artist after he created their master piece. If you’re looking for a Sequim home builder, I encourage you to call Steve. He is in high demand as you might expect, but isn’t it true that everyone who is the best in their profession, and it’s true of this Sequim Home Builder.

    Sequim Home Builder

    Sequim Home Builder – Building Quality Custom Homes

    I took this aerial photo of one of Steve’s newest projects. As you can see, the site is being prepared for a foundation, and in the background to the south are the Olympic Mountains. To the north, which would be looking directly behind this camera which is 100 feet in the air, is a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When this Sequim home builder is done with this project, the views from this home will be stunning.

    I can’t wait to see this home when it is completed. I’m thinking about taking photos during the construction, like time lapse photos and putting them together in a video. Wouldn’t that be fun to see?

    Sequim Home Builder

    One of the reasons I wanted to share this article about this Sequim home builder is because the quality of his homes and attention to detail that he gives every home are extraordinary and second to none. How do I know? I’ve seen a lot of new homes over the years, and I’ve been trained by several builders. And during the 20 years I practiced real estate law, I saw the problems that many clients had with builders. So when a builder builds a gorgeous custom home to perfection, and when his clients are so happy, they are giddy, and when he does it over and over again, I know we have a master builder.

    If you would like to check out Steve Lamb’s website, you’ll find it at Legacy Homes. I do not hesitate to recommend this Sequim home builder.

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  • Filed under: Home Builders
  • California Driving People Away to Sequim WA

    Sequim WA” is a hot search phrase for thousands of Californians who are exiting California in massive numbers of late. Why are so many people leaving beautiful California, and why are they buying homes in Sequim WA

    Sequim WA

    Photo by Chuck Marunde taken between Santa Barbara and L.A.

    Sequim WA From California in Droves

    “Californians are being taxed to death, traffic in the major cities is absolutely horrific, violent crime and gang activity are on the rise, millions of illegal immigrants are putting an incredible strain on social support systems, and the ultra-liberal government in Sacramento seems to have gone completely insane. In addition, the state faces constant threats from earthquakes, wildfires, droughts and mudslides, so it is quite understandable why so many people feel motivated to leave and never come back.” [Source: The Exodus From California] For Californians who have had enough, Sequim WA is like the Garden of Eden.

    Sequim WA Land of the Free

    According to the IRS, over 250,000 California residents moved out of the state between 2013 and 2014. This is a massive exodus, and the implications for California are much bigger than the politicians who are guiding California down the path of self destruction seem to realize.

    I will be showing clients homes in Sequim WA today and tomorrow, and they are part of the mass exodus from California. They told me they purchased a lot in southern California and applied for a building permit. The application has been in processing for six months already, but they are told it will be at least another three months before the application will be approved with a lengthy list of complex and expensive conditions. California has more detailed regulations on every aspect of building than a normal person can even imagine, and the cost of compliance makes building a home in California way more than any place on the west coast, and far far more than Sequim WA. The same lot and home in Sequim WA might be 25% of its California counterpart.

    Once their building permit is approved eventually, it will then take 10 months to have their home built, maybe longer. These clients told me that the bureaucrats are in control in California and they are driving hundreds of thousands of people out of the state to places like Sequim WA. Maybe this process of getting a home built in California would be worth it, but not when you add all the crime, traffic, drought, immigration, and high taxes and regulations to the scale.

    No wonder thousands of Californians are moving to Sequim WA. My California clients call Sequim WA the land of the free.

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  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: Sequim
  • The Sequim Dungeness River

    The Sequim Dungeness River is one of our natural wonders on the Olympic Peninsula. It is the major source of water for the entire Sequim valley and most of the irrigation ditches, which have kept thousands of acres of farmland rich and fertile for 150 years. The Sequim Dungeness River pours out of the Olympic Mountains where it rains over 200 inches a year, and empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. High up in the mountains I could not resist taking a little video of the tranquility and beauty of the river.

    The Sequim Dungeness River on Video

    The Sequim Dungeness River

    Sequim is famous for its Blue Hole or Rain Shadow, because we only get 16 inches of rain a year, one-third the rainfall of Seattle only two hours away. But we are in the great Northwest, rich in natural resources, beauty, and Sequim uniquely sits with the Strait of Juan de Fuca on one side to the North and the Olympic Mountains on the other side to the south with lush rivers, lakes, forests, and mountains everywhere.

    No wonder retirees from Southern California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Arizona, Alaska, Texas, and so many other states are attracted to Sequim. With the southern draughts, the crime problems, the pollution, high taxes and regulations, and now major immigration issues, retirees view Sequim as a Haven of the Northwest, and it is. 

    As I stood on a sandbar of the Sequim Dungeness River high in the Olympic Mountains yesterday, I was reminded of why so many of us love the Sequim area. There are so many reasons, but peace and tranquility are certainly part of the appeal. The Sequim Dungeness River reminded me of that peace and tranquility.

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    Sequim Real Estate Videos for Buyers

    Sequim real estate videos for buyers is now live. In this video, I introduce iRealty Virtual Brokers to buyers who are searching for content-rich information about Sequim real estate. As you’ll hear in the video, we offer more for buyers, more free information, more online articles, more books, more MLS sites, and more help for buyers online than any other Sequim or Port Angeles real estate broker, bar none. Check out our sites and watch our videos for yourself. And if you have any questions, we give away answers every day, absolutely free.

    Sequim Real Estate Videos Free Online

    We have many firsts as a real estate brokerage, and creating a series of Sequim real estate videos for buyers is another first. Our series includes videos that review the entire buying process for buyers of Sequim real estate and Port Angeles real estate, including the contracts, negotiating, the home inspection, the well inspection, the septic inspection, the escrow process, and much more.

    Sequim Real Estate Videos for Buyers

    I’ve learned that people love videos. Youtube’s massive success is proof of that. So consistent with our practice of putting our clients at the center of the Universe and giving them megabytes of free information that is accurate, truthful, and content-rich is just an extension of what we’ve been doing for years. These videos are intended to help people gather information that is accurate and without hidden agendas and zero manipulation. Would we like you to hire us as your real estate broker? Absolutely, but we would prefer that you do that only after doing your due diligence. 

    We will be adding many more videos in the weeks and months ahead so check back and peek at our buyer’s playlist, which you’ll find at

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  • Filed under: Buyer's Agent
  • Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.

    Founder and Broker of
    Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate dba iRealty Virtual Brokers
    435 W. Bell St. Suite A, Sequim, WA
    (360) 775-5424
    Search Sequim Blog

    Who is Chuck Marunde?

    Chuck Marunde is the #1 Sequim Buyer's Agent, having sold more homes (by volume) to buyers than any other agent or any "team" of agents for the past seven years. He is the author of thousands of articles for buyers on this real estate blog, and he is the author of several real estate books for buyers and one for sellers. He is the creator of many free tools that buyers use and love every day. He is recognized as a national expert on real estate transactions, marketing, and negotiating. Please schedule your appointment to view homes with Chuck well in advance of arriving in Sequim.

    How to Search the Best MLS

    From Los Angeles

    It's rare, but once in awhile life provides the perfect collaborator for an important endeavor such as buying your new home. For me that person was Chuck Marunde. His two decade background as a Real Estate Attorney, his prolific career as an author of articles and books on Real Estate and his forthright and moral character made choosing Chuck a no-brainer. Chuck is dedicated, thorough, incredible at the negotiating table, knowledgeable about all local laws & regs but, most importantly, Chuck loves what he does. And what he does is find his client the perfect property. Chuck isn't about making the sale, he's about making the sale that is OPTIMUM for his CLIENT and this makes Chuck a rare bird indeed. I love my new home in Sequim and I am indebted to Chuck for making it happen. Kevin E.

    From Seattle

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chuck over the past three years in selling my parent's estate. It was a tough time to sell during the housing recession, but Chuck always kept things on the positive side. With his real estate law background, he offers sound, practical advice. He helps you along with the process using discussions and reason, rather than opinions and speculations. If Chuck doesn’t know the answers, he will get them for you. In several instances, Chuck took the initiative to meet with county officials to get up-to-date facts about zoning and regulations. I was always impressed with his company’s tech savvy communi-cations and internet presence: weekly email updates, blogs, videos, links, Linked-in networking, etc. He is truly pioneering the future of buying & selling real estate. Brian M.
    Sequim Real Estate Market Report

    From Florida

    We do our homework for the task at hand and we look for and expect to enlist partners that do the same. It was our good fortune to select Chuck Marunde of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate to represent us as a buyer's broker in our search for a home in the Sequim/Port Angeles area. Chuck's site is all encompassing and super fast compared to many others, he knows the market at every conceivable level and his guidance through the process of selecting and purchasing a home is priceless - above and beyond that of anyone with whom we have ever worked. Add to all this his 20 year background in real estate law and you have discovered a superb asset in the adventure of purchasing a home. Greg and Marilyn

    From Gilroy California

    As an out of state buyer unfamiliar with the area, it was important to me not only to have a real estate agent who knew the area well, but also one who knew the value of the properties. I chose Chuck because he is also a real estate lawyer and it is reassuring to have that extra degree working for you. I selected the houses I was interested in on line before taking a two day trip to Sequim to look at them in person. I sent my list to Chuck, who gave me feedback, then organized our tour so we could see 16 properties in a short time. He was very accommodating, driving me all over Sequim, and rescheduling appointments when we fell behind on our time. On day two, I found my home and we drafted an offer on it that evening. By the time I arrived back home on the plane the next evening, my offer had been accepted. Chuck was honest about what it would take to get me into my new home, while having my back the entire transaction. Since I was unable to relocate immediately after closing, he and his assistant Ade, have been taking care of many additional responsibilities for me. He was a pleasure to work with. Chris D.

    From Corona California

    The best decision I made, once I settled on Sequim as the ideal place to spend the rest of my days, was to hook up with Chuck Marunde as my broker/go-to guy. He happily took on the entire complicated merry-go-round associated with a long distance move that involved selling in Southern California (with a different agent) and buying in Sequim – all in the span of just over a month. The unexpectedly quick sale of my previous home was already a week into a 30 day escrow when I got to Sequim for my house hunt. We had two days to find my slice of heaven. And day one was less than stellar, each home having at least one major issue. The killer was the dream home that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster once we got inside. I was crushed. Chuck had his work cut out for him that night. And he worked his magic. On day two there was one beautiful possibility, but not quite right. Suffice to say, in the early afternoon we pulled into a driveway and the first words out of my mouth were “That’s my house.” 29 days later I took possession of my new home. Every sale has its issues, but throwing in the complications of a short escrow on top of 1200 miles of separation from all documentation, etc. gives new meaning to “challenging”. Thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge coupled with a great sense of humor, Chuck was able to keep me on an even keel when things got dicey. He knows when to step in and when to let it evolve. I cannot imagine making this move without him. Rebecca B.
    Sequim Real Estate

    From Bakersfield California

    "During the months of February and March 2012, Chuck showed my wife and I over two dozen homes from Port Angeles to Port Townsend. We found Chuck to be very helpful, friendly and courteous. With Chuck there is no pressure; It is all about finding the best home for the buyer. As a Buyer's Agent, Chuck will give you his honest opinion of a property, including a fair market price. In one instance Chuck wrote up an offer for us which was accepted. Chuck was very helpful arranging for home and well inspections which involved multiple trips to the property. Unfortunately, escrow failed to close when, during the home inspection process, it was determined that a septic system repair was needed which the seller was unwilling/unable to make. We will continue to work with Chuck as there is no better Buyer's Agent on the North Olympic" Bert and Sally
    Sequim Real Estate Q&A

    From Los Alamos New Mexico

    "Over a year ago, during a visit to the Olympic Game Farm, we developed what we eventually called the “Sequim Syndrome.” We live in New Mexico and decided Sequim was where we wanted to live in retirement. On our second visit to Sequim, we met with Chuck and asked him to help us. Chuck's web site provides such amazing search capabilities. Chuck's site also contains a 1000 blog postings and a real estate video series detailing buying real estate in Sequim. We bought Chuck's book about Sequim real estate and set out to follow his advice carrying on an ongoing email and phone conversation with Chuck. Doing our due diligence “Marunde style” and using his MLS search site, we came up with about 50 homes that met our needs. We narrowed the list down to 15 properties that best met our needs. We came back to Sequim a third time with our list in hand, and Chuck spent two days with us showing us all the homes on our list. Not only did Chuck help us find that dream home, he spent time to educate us about the quality of construction, fair market values of various properties, home layouts, and the joys of Sequim living. We had a great time as we traveled from house to house. By mid afternoon of the second day, my wife said we had found “the house.” Chuck helped us draft our offer and sent our offer to the seller's agent. It turned out there was a second offer made on the property at the same time. Chuck's help to make a clean offer paid off. At breakfast two days later, we got a call from Chuck saying our offer had been accepted by the sellers. We are now back home in New Mexico. Chuck attends every inspection on our behalf, updating us at every turn by email and phone. Our dream home is becoming a reality because of Chuck and because we were smart enough to follow his advice. We absolutely would NOT have been able to do this without Chuck Marunde's expertise and enthusiasm. We recommend Chuck to everyone planning a move to Sequim, Port Angeles, or anywhere on the Olympic Peninsula. Chuck is a gold mine of information and expertise for home buyers everywhere, not just on the Olympic" Larry and Shirley
    Sequim Real Estate Bookstore

    From Sun Lakes Arizona

    "We are ex-Washington residents who currently live in Arizona. We had been searching the Puget Sound area four years for a waterfront property to build a retirement home when we first contacted Chuck Marunde through his website. We had made multiple trips to various areas but most of the Realtors we contacted simply sent us an email, provided no follow up and did next to nothing to help us locate a property. On our first trip to Port Angeles, after connecting with Chuck, we purchased our dream property. We now own a high bank waterfront lot overlooking the Straight of Jaun de Fuca, and are excited to become part of the Peninsula community." Paul and Linda

    From California

    "Andy Romano is a successful motion picture character actor with over 40 years in 'the Biz.' Mr. Romano has a home in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, but he chooses to live most of the time in Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula in the great Pacific Northwest. Why? In his own words, 'Because it's even more beautiful and surrounded by more beauty in this incredibly peaceful and quiet place. With respect to real estate agents or brokers, well my friend Chuck Marunde, owner of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate, is hands down the best there" Andy R.

    From Sequim

    I’ve known Chuck Marunde for several years. My wife and I bought and sold one house through his services, and now have another listed through him for sale. Whether Chuck was representing us as the buyer or seller, I am confident he always had our best interests at heart. He helped us set or negotiate a reasonable price, and made sure there was a clear and open line of communication. He responded rapidly to email and phone calls and always knew the best person to contact for the various services involved in a transaction. I have worked with quite a few real estate agents and Chuck is right at the top of my list of good ones. Actually, Chuck is first and foremost just a good person, and he carries his personal honesty and integrity over into his profession. He has the greatest depth of experience in real estate of any agent or broker I have known. His years of practicing real estate law prior to becoming a broker are evident in the meticulous care he takes with the process and documentation. I am impressed by the way Chuck has integrated internet services into his real estate business. He probably knows more about this process than any other realtor in the country. In this tight market it is important to use every possible means to spread the word about available properties…to reach the few people who might be interested in a particular property. Steve L.

    From The Netherlands

    "We contacted Chuck about six months ago to help find a retirement property in Sequim. We had visited Sequim several weeks before and decided that this was the place for us to retire. We liked the friendly people and the natural beauty of the area. We had been looking for some time in other parts of the country - California, Oregon, North Carolina, and Vermont. In most of these other areas, we found real estate agents that were knowledgeable but did not follow up with us to continue narrowing down real estate possibilities. Once we were out of earshot, communications would stop. That is one of the reasons we were interested in working with Chuck. Besides having great knowledge of both the local real estate market and of law, his testimonials on the internet indicated a willingness to actively communicate with his clients. Chuck demonstrated this immediately. Even before we met, he responded very quickly and helpfully to any email question. After arriving for a second visit to Sequim in September, we finally met Chuck face to face. He was friendly, encouraging, and readily shared good practical information. We worked with him on a number of candidate properties - including an offer on a property while visiting that week. Although we could not come to terms with the owners on the final property price, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Chuck. He is an invaluable resource to help us identify and purchase the retirement property that's right for us." Paul and Virginia

    From Fremont California

    We can't say enough about working with Chuck Marunde. Luck would have it that we discovered his web site, spoke with him on the phone and had an instant feeling that we had found our realtor. And we were right. With Chucks help and expertise, our longtime dream to retire to the Pacific Northwest came to fruition with Chuck assisting us in finding the perfect home for us. Buying a home is always a big decision and these days can be complex with unexpected delays etc. In fact, our whole experience from offer day to closing, was very smooth. Chuck took all the time we needed to explain processes and made us feel at ease, even though we lived 800 miles away, tying up loose ends and getting ready for the big move to our new home in Sequim. We were impressed with Chuck's ability to listen to our needs and understand our concerns in buying from a distance. Chuck kept us informed all along the way, during the process and was so good at getting right back to us if we had another question. All went so well and Chuck really went above and beyond for us, taking time out from his busy schedule to assist us with some details regarding our beautiful property, even after the closing, because we were not yet arrived there. Without hesitation, our son and his wife will be contacting Chuck this summer, as they plan to follow us to paradise in this lovely town. Thanks again Chuck, for everything! Mary and Jerry

    From Fontana California

    My husband and I went to Sequim intending to interview several realtors to find one to help us locate and buy a home in Sequim. We knew we wanted someone we could trust and who would have our best interests in mind. Since we would be handling the transaction from S. California this was very important to us. We met Chuck and looked no further. We felt a connection right away and spent some time looking at homes together so Chuck could get a feel for what we wanted. Well, we left Sequim having made an offer on a home which the owner accepted. Chuck has helped us through the purchase process. We are positive it would not have gone so smoothly without his help. We give him 4 thumbs up. Wally & Cathy

    From Tacoma

    Chuck Marunde’s level of expertise in real estate investment is amazing. His knowledge, experience and legal training have given me a dramatic advantage in real estate investing. He works hard to stay on the cutting edge of real estate marketing, sound advice and value-added service for his clients. Kirk Wald, Financial Planner

    From Wendell Idaho

    My wife and I moved to Sequim six weeks ago, and prior to our move here I contacted Chuck Marunde and enlisted his help as our buyer's agent. Once we got here, it took us about two weeks looking at houses, and Chuck did a superb job of showing us places and letting us make our own decisions and guide us through the purchase of our home. We now completed our transaction and are very happy. We would recommend Chuck to anybody. Don & Marilyn

    From Sequim

    "Buying property either commercial or residential can sometimes be a tricky proposition. That’s why I would recommend Chuck to help you with purchasing or selling property. His background as a real-estate lawyer and his no nonsense to the point advice will help you make the right decisions. Experience and Integrity, what you need when you can’t afford to make a mistake. Dail Hurdlow, CEO, Hurdlow Enterprises

    From Seattle

    I am an experienced real estate buyer, but I am not from the Sequim area. I am somewhat flexible, realistic, but also particular. So the question was, “how do you choose the RIGHT real estate agent?”

    I made my appointment with Chuck on a Sunday morning in March, 2013. He showed me 5 houses. Every house he showed me was within my parameters! I was amazed: a real estate who listened, did his research, and didn't waste my time showing me houses I would never buy! I made an offer a few days later. That was the easy part…

    Buying a house is always a stressful time in life. Advice to Buyers: choose an agent who is competent, communicates well, and has exceptional follow-up and follow-through! You will spend a lot of time with your agent during the process. Choose someone likable. Go with your gut. I got to know Chuck during the process, and he's a great guy!

    You need an agent who is competent to handle and help you negotiate the issues that come up during disclosure, home inspection, appraisal, etc. Chuck's competence is superb! I got truly professional, sound, straightforward advice.

    Chuck's communication skills are exceptional: phone, email, fax. He has a wonderful ability to stay "on-point" with what is actually important and doesn't lead you astray on issues that aren't so important.

    Chuck's turn-around time on questions, issue resolution, etc. was virtually always within 24 hours. He follows-up, follows-through. He does what he says he will do timely. This relieves a lot of Buyer stress!

    Having a difficult time finding the right agent? Simplify your life! Choose Chuck Marunde. I did. [Name withheld by request]

    Intro by Chuck Marunde

    From Sequim to California

    "In our Sequim real estate broker Chuck Marunde we found a Realtor who knew not only how to list a property, but most importantly, he knew how to sell a property. Chuck is very skilled in current technology and uses that skill to advertise your property nationally. We were very pleased with Chuck, his honesty and integrity." Jerry Levitan and Donna "Teva" Tetiva
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