Welcome to the largest Sequim Real Estate Blog with over 1,900 articles.
9 Jan 2017
Who needs a real estate expert? Two people come to mind–buyers and sellers. Your home, the one you buy, will be one of the most important and largest purchases of your life, and it’s the home where you will spend the majority of your time, maybe for the rest of your life. With that in mind, would you want a Realtor or an attorney who is not a real estate expert? Would you trust someone who dabbles in real estate, or someone who is a part-time Realtor? Believe it or not, 85% of all buyers hire the first Realtor they talk to with no interview, no due diligence, and they do not know what qualifications a real estate expert should have.
What could happen if you try to buy a home without a real estate expert? Since I was a real estate attorney for 20 years, I can actually tell you what happens when buyers are not well represented. There’s a reason there are so many attorneys in this country, and there’s a reason they make so much money. I recall a couple telling me their buyer’s agent didn’t advise them to get a home inspection, and they ended up with a nightmare after closing. Their agent didn’t know the importance of a home inspection. The truth is, most agents are not real estate experts. Most consider themselves sales persons with basic real estate knowledge.
Another agent missed the deadline for a well inspection response, and the well turned out to be contaminated. That meant the buyers lost their earnest money. A couple decided to buy a 100 year old farm house, but their agent lacked expertise on the need to have the electrical panel and wiring checked out by an electrician. It was too late when they discovered they had to do a complete rewire of the whole house at a huge expense. Unfortunately, their agent was not a real estate expert.
A buyer relied on her agent to give her advice about the seller’s disclosure statement, but the agent missed the red flag, and the buyer had to replace the heat pump at a cost of several thousand dollars. There are so many things that can and often do go wrong in a real estate transaction, but until it happens to you, you may not realize the need for a real estate expert. You might think you can just hire any Tom, Dick, or Jane to help you buy a home. You might get lucky and everything might go smoothly, but do you really want to rely on luck with so much of your hard earned money?
If you wanted to hire a real estate expert to represent you as your buyer’s agent in the state of Washington, what would you look for? Here you have to be a bit cautious, because in the sales business, many agents will give you the answers you want to hear, so you need discernment, but you also need to know what kind of credentials your buyer’s agent should have, and you need to know how to do your due diligence. Have you heard the phrase, “Buyer beware?” Well, when it comes to buying something as expensive as a home, the warning is still good advice after 2,000 years.
By the way, be very careful about hiring a Realtor simply based on a referral by a neighbor, a friend, or someone in your Church or your favorite club. People are quick to give their brother’s name to someone else (or their best friend’s name), but that can be as bad as it could be good. Read “Real Estate Referrals: Blessing or Curse?”
I would encourage you to do your research before you decide on a buyer’s agent. Do your due diligence on me. I welcome it. Read more of my real estate blog articles (there are over 2,000), read some of my real estate books, watch my Sequim real estate videos for buyers, take a look at the real estate training site linked to the image above, use one of my three Sequim MLS sites, and interview me yourself. Whomever you hire as your buyer’s agent, make sure for your own sake that you hire a genuine real estate expert.
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2 Jan 2017
This Sequim Real Estate Blog is by far the largest local real estate blog in Sequim and possibly the largest on the Olympic Peninsula with over 2,000 articles written for buyers. At the end of each year, I like to share some of our most popular articles for the calendar year.
It’s no surprise that our most popular article is itself packed full of powerful resources for buyers and has been read over 1,300 times during 2016 by almost 300,000 visitors to this Sequim Real Estate Blog. [Total hits on our blog were over 3.8 million.]
#1 Sequim Real Estate: 10 Powerful Buyer Resources
#2 Your Closing Date May Be a Moving Target (a surprisingly popular article)
#3 Sequim Real Estate and Private Well Issues
#5 Blizzards, Tornadoes, and Floods (But Not in Sequim)
I certainly hope you enjoys these articles, but don’t stop with these six. You can search any subject on Sequim real estate, and you’re likely to find an article that answers your specific question. You see, I’ve been answering the questions that people moving to Sequim have been asking for two decades.
BONUS: There are two other articles that have been unusually popular, even though they are older articles. The first has 15 comments, and some of them are quite angry. Their comments only affirm the gist of the article. The article is entitled Who Should I Hire First–Architect or Builder? The other article is also garnering a lot of interest around the State of Washington (16 comments), and it is about how loans are being turned down because of a ridiculous government regulation. The article is entitled Private Road Maintenance Agreements.
architects and private road maintenance
You can search in 3 ways. First, you can simply type in a word or phrase in our powerful search box, and all articles on that subject with appear. You’ll find our search box on the home page in the right margin, and it looks like this. You can click on this image, and it will take you to the search page.
Second, you can use our incredible drop down menu on the home page, and you’ll see all the major categories people like to search. When you pull up a category, it gives you all the articles on that subject. In some cases, that will mean over a dozen articles on a single question you want to get answered. Just hover your mouse over the links at the top of the home page, like “Buyers”, “Sellers”, “Sequim”, “Real Estate Books”, “Buyer’s Guide”, and “Seller’s Guide”.
Third, you can find many of these articles and many of our other online resources for buyers with a simple Google search. We have optimized more articles, photos, and videos for the search engines than any other single brokerage in our market. But the most direct path to getting your answers is to use our search box above.
Of course, we also have the most accurate, most powerful, and easiest Sequim MLS site to navigate at Sequim Real Estate MLS.
Wishing all our readers and future clients a very Happy New Year and a prosperous 2017. Now you know the most effect way to search for your Sequim real estate.
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28 Dec 2016
What will happen to the Sequim real estate market this coming year? What will prices do? What will the Sequim inventory look like? What about land prices? How much will interest rates go up? My Sequim real estate prediction for 2017 is an educated view of what the Sequim real estate market will be like this coming year, especially under a Trump administration.
The Sequim real estate market bottomed out about a year and a half ago, and it’s been slowly improving since then. Prices have been creeping upward, and most homes are selling at the listed price as long as it is fair market value. The inventory of homes retirees want has been reduced to a crisis level. [Read Sequim Real Estate Inventory and Sequim Home Inventory written over 3 years ago]. People are starting to build homes again, because they cannot find a suitable home in the existing inventory. Prices have not increased as much as they should have based on the economic formulas of supply and demand in the Sequim real estate market.
We’ve all known that mortgage rates would be going up, and we’ve known that for several years. [Read Mortgage Interest Rates Going Up written in 2013.] We’ve seen a recent bump in interest rates, and as of today the 30 year fixed rate is at 4.18%. You can check on interest rates for 30-year, 15-year, and ARMs at the bottom right of this Sequim Real Estate search page.
Here is my logical prediction for the Sequim real estate market this coming year. While interest rates got a recent bump in anticipation of Janet Yellen’s announcement of a quarter point increase and 3 more likely increases in 2017, I think it is highly likely with a growing and healthy economy that we will see the 30-year fixed rate at 4.75% by the end of 2017.
With respect to the Sequim real estate inventory, it will continue to shrink and new spec homes will not replace them fast enough. This is a small market, and local builders cannot afford to build out large numbers of spec homes for future sales. That means almost all new homes are custom homes started only after you sign a contract with a builder. Then you can expect a construction timeline extending about 8 months out. That assumes you’ve already purchased a vacant lot for your home and drilled a well and put in a septic system (unless you’re on municipal utilities).
Because of the low inventory, prices will continue to slowly increase over 2017. I anticipate that by the end of 2017, home prices will increase by 5% from today (Dec 2016). Because more new homes will be built, land will start to sell again here, which means a steady increase in prices on vacant land.
Increased mortgage rates and a 5% increase in home prices in 2017 will affect some buyers’ ability to purchase their ideal home, but for buyers who will pay in cash, they will have an advantage among buyers. And there will be more competition for homes, so the buyer who finds their ideal home will probably lose it to a more assertive buyer who gets an agreement signed with the seller. Remember, you will have plenty of time to do your due diligence with a home inspection and other inspections once you have a signed agreement with a seller. Days or weeks of research prior to even making an offer is going to be a sure way to lose the home to another buyer in a market like this.
Some are concerned about a Trump Presidency, but his background bodes well for the Sequim real estate market. He certainly understands real estate and the mortgage business, more so than any president in my lifetime. If he can implement his promises for an improved job market, a tax code and regulatory environment more conducive to businesses, we may see an economy that does grow by 4% in 2017. No matter what your political persuasion, a Trump Presidency is going to be a good thing for the Sequim real estate market in 2017. Already, nearly everyone on both sides of the aisle are surprised at the records being set in consumer sentiment, home builder sentiment, and the financial markets. The Dow is up 8.6%, the NASDAQ is up 4.8%, the S&P 500 is up 5.6%, and the Russell 2000 is up 14%, and all this since the election. Excluding weekends and holidays, that’s only 35 days. Never have the pundits and naysayers been so wrong as they were this year. We’re a long way from the vibrant Sequim real estate market of 2005, but I anticipate a healthy 2017.
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22 Dec 2016
Things are not always what they seem. This is true in real estate, but it’s true everywhere in life, and the older and wiser we get, the more we see this play out all around us. I’ll point out a few examples to emphasize how important this is for you and me, but the goal of this article is to help you avoid traps for the unwary when you buy a home in the Sequim area, or Port Angeles or Port Townsend.
I quoted the short version, but the full quote goes like this: “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.” Phaedrus
Let me set the stage. Have you seen a TV commercial promoting a pillow that sounds too good to be true? Even the price sounds fantastic when you hear that you get the second pillow free. So you call, but you find out the actual price is $180 for two pillows. You can buy one, but it will be the same price. But if you use the promo code, the price is ONLY $90. But not really. A set of two pillow cases is $50. But with the promo code that is reduced to $25. You wanted to buy one pillow for yourself, and what you find out is that you get two and the regular price is a total of $230. Plus shipping. But they tell you if you order now and use the special promo code, you get this incredible bargain.
You say to yourself, “You know what? I can go buy a good pillow at Costco for $28 to $38,” and you would be right. The reminder is that sales people on TV and everywhere will pitch their product and make it sound so doggone irresistible, but things are not always what they seem.
Awards are another example. How many times have you seen a car advertisement boasting that their model has received the J.D. Power & Associates award, and they obviously intend us to be impressed by that award. The truth is car companies have to pay substantial fees to J.D. Power & Associates to be included in the studies and get the reports, and if they want to boast that they received this award, they have to pay J.D. Power another $300,000. Things are not always what they seem. So much for the credibility of the award. It’s just another sales gimmick to fool consumers.
Realtors and home builders can get prestigious awards, too, but we also have to pay for them. I was awarded a prestigious Realtor award only given to the top 7% of Realtors in the entire Seattle area. I was quite pleased, but then after the award notification, they informed me the key to taking advantage of the award was to give them $4,000 to buy a half page add in Seattle Magazine. In other words, the entire business is to sell expensive advertising. The awards are just a front. Things are not always what the seem.
If you don’t know these things, you might be fooled when a sales person boasts about their awards. Understand that awards today are almost always bought. So are certificates. All those initials that Realtors have after their names were bought and paid for at expensive seminars. Entire industries are created for the sole purpose of creating false images all to sell smoke and mirrors to consumers and to make a sales person sound better than he or she really is.
The less knowledge, experience, and wisdom a sales person has, the more they need the smoke and mirrors, the more they need lots of initials after their name, and the more they need certificates and awards. Otherwise you would see right through them, and you wouldn’t be impressed, which means you wouldn’t hire them. May I say it again? Things are not always what they seem.
When you look at an MLS data sheet with photos online in search of your perfect home, are you getting an accurate representation of the home? When you get the seller’s disclosure statement, is it 100% accurate? When you work through the due diligence on your prospective home, maybe you would do well to pause and recall that things are not always what they seem on the surface.
The single most important thing you need when you visit a new area of the country like Sequim, Washington, intending to buy what may be your last home, is someone who is absolutely trustworthy. Do you know how to find that trustworthy Realtor? I hope so, because I can assure you . . . things are not always what they seem.
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14 Dec 2016
This Sequim condo is the most popular floor plan preferred by couples moving to Sequim. With a modern kitchen, open floor plan, 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, this is the perfect retirement home according to a lot of people. Check out these photos [Sequim Condo], and you might also enjoy this 3 dimensional virtual tour below where you can walk through this Sequim condo. Use your mouse button or the arrows on your keyboard to walk through this home.
This Sequim condo is a custom townhouse with Silestone countertops in kitchen, twice the kitchen outlets you normally see, an upgraded range with a warming oven, a custom chandelier with a handcrafted Tray ceiling, tile floors in the entry and kitchen, tile countertops in the laundry and bathrooms, and a huge tile shower in the master. This Sequim condo is in North Sunland. Sunland amenities include community beach access, tennis, a clubhouse, and a pool and RV parking. There were many extras built into this condo. It’s a Green Built home with custom blinds, natural solid wood throughout, and an extra large concrete patio. There’s also a greenbelt in the back with privacy.
Condos aren’t for everyone, but if you like the idea, check out this Sequim condo.
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6 Dec 2016
This morning we had our first frost in Sequim. It’s a beautiful sunny day with hardly any clouds in the sky. It was very early this morning when I heard my Sequim weather station tell me the temperature outside had reached 32 degrees. That didn’t last long. The temperature went up to 40 degrees shortly after the sun began to melt the frost on the blades of grass in my yard.
We’re in December, and it’s finally getting cold. Of course, cold for Sequim in the winter is a quick dip to freezing in the early morning hours, and so today was the first frost in Sequim. I love it. The yards and fields are all bright green as you can see in this photo above. The grass hardly grows during the coldest months of December and January, but since this is the wet time of year, the grass turns a bright green and stays that way all the way into the summer.
It’s hard to predict the precise date that will give us the first frost in Sequim. People ask me, “What are winters like in Sequim?” I usually say something like, “Which winter?,” because it seems every winter is a little different. We haven’t had snow in Sequim for three or four years. When we do get snow, it’s usually a couple of inches and melts within hours, but since we rarely see it, it is fun for a short time. With a little luck, maybe we’ll have a white Christmas.
Because our winters are mostly in the 50s, and our summers are mostly in the 60s, we have an incredibly mild climate without those darn cold extremes of the midwest or the east coast, and we don’t suffer the hot extremes of the south. I sold homes to couples from Virginia and Pennsylvania recently, and they both reminded me of how humid the heat can be on the east coast.
Our first frost in Sequim reminded me of how mild our Sequim weather really is. What a beautiful day for a walk with my dog.
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3 Dec 2016
Sequim MLS hot links help buyers find special properties easily and quickly. I created the Sequim MLS hot links for the most popular searches, and these links save you the time of trying to set up a unique search with Sequim MLS parameters that are sometimes hard to set up based on the Olympic Listing Service MLS data fields. Unless you’re a Realtor, you won’t have access to the data fields in our MLS, so setting up special searches can be hard. So I’ve done it for you.
How do you find all the horse properties in Clallam County (Sequim and Port Angeles and beyond)? How do you instantly find all Sequim waterfront properties, or homes with shops or barns? How do you find all Sequim foreclosures with the click of a mouse button? Or how can you pull up all the log homes for sale? The answer is Sequim MLS hot links.
You can just bookmark this article and use the Sequim hot links above, or you can always find these links on the number one Sequim MLS site, Sequim-Homes.com on any of the secondary pages on that site. In other words, these links are not on the home page, but they are on all the other pages.
By the way, these links are always “hot”. This means they are always the latest active Sequim MLS listings in each of these categories. I created these links because buyers wanted them and use them all the time. I think you’ll like Sequim MLS hot links.
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26 Nov 2016
It’s hard to find a home plus a Sequim guest house plus a shop only a few miles from downtown Sequim, especially on a beautiful lot in a quiet area with privacy. This is a property I just had to write about, because you will rarely find a property like this in the Sequim area. It’s not perfect, because it needs some work, but if you can either do the work yourself or are willing to hire someone to do it, you will get a one-of-a-kind property at a bargain price.
The main home is 2,500 sq.ft. with 3 bedrooms (on the 2nd floor), 2.5 baths, and an attached 2 car garage. This home is vintage 1979, so the kitchen needs a major upgrade and the hardwood floors need to be refinished. I suspect you would replace carpet, too. In addition the roof has a lot of mildew on it, and the back deck is collapsed and needs to be totally replaced. It’s possible the wood shingles on the roof need to be replaced. How did the maintenance get so far behind on this home? The husband passed away years ago, and his widow lived alone for many years until she passed away recently, so this is an estate sale.
A nice Sequim guest house is hard to find in this market, and this guest house is very impressive. Unlike the main house that needs upgrading and maintenance, the guest house is move-in ready, and with over 1,000 sq.ft. the huge living room and gorgeous kitchen are more than comfortable for a couple.
When you look at the photos, you’ll see how cool this shop is. High ceiling, super bright shop lights, and heating and ventilation equipment. The high shop door also means a motor home would have a warm home. In addition to the shop, there is a large double garage beneath the guest house. And the shop also has a kitchen and a bathroom.
You can look at photos of all of this at Sequim Shop + Sequim Guest House. The listing price is $425,000 for 2 acres plus the main house plus the guest house plus the shop. In my opinion, the guest house and shop alone are worth well over $250,000. If you’re in the market for a spacious home plus a guest house and a shop, maybe you should call me now at 360-775-5424. Our inventory is very low of late, and the right home listed at the right price is selling fairly quickly at full listing price. That doesn’t mean that will happen to this property, but I share that to emphasize that if this is your property, you probably don’t have all the time in the world. Someone is likely to ask me to draft an offer on this property fairly quickly.
Looking for a Sequim guest house and a shop?
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21 Nov 2016
Sequim storms are rare, but we have some incredible online tools now to see the exact weather in real time, including the wind and the height of waves at any point you place your mouse on the map. We are in the winter months now, so Sequim storms are more likely for the next couple of months. You’ll love this new site which is the most powerful one I’ve found at Sequim Storms.
About a month ago we received a weather warning regarding Sequim storms, and the report stated that the storm could be worse than any storm since 1962. I made sure I had extra water supplies at home as well as food to last in case we had a terrible storm. I used the map above to look at the wind and waves on the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula, and also to see what was coming down over Sequim from the Olympic Mountains. I could even measure the height of waves on th Strait just north of the Sequim shoreline. Guess what? The great storm missed Sequim, although it hit all around us, including the Oregon and Washington Pacific shorelines, and even Tacoma and into Canada across the Strait. As I’ve said before, bad Sequim storms are really quite rare.
You can use this weather site above [Sequim Storms] to look at weather patterns, waves, temperatures, and wind anywhere in the world. Don’t you love the technologies available to us on the Internet?
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16 Nov 2016
It’s another day in Sequim, and I am loving it. This morning I awoke early and enjoyed a cup of coffee and some fresh air on my Sequim property as I walked around my two and a half acres with my dog, Titus. It was a chilly but invigorating morning, and as I always do, I deeply inhaled the pristine air that gently blows across my property directly from the ocean (or the Strait of Juan de Fuca which becomes the Pacific Ocean).
The sun was rising and I felt like I was looking at a painting as I looked south to the panoramic view I have of the Olympic Mountains. Bright rays of sun glistened through the trees across my property, and the fields and trees in the distance were beautiful with autumn colors. The sun was still rising, and the bright snow capped mountains really did look like a gorgeous painting. But it’s just another day in Sequim.
The lower water level in the irrigation pond on the southern end of my land is showing signs that winter is coming. As I sipped on my hot cup of gourmet coffee, leaning on the white fence built by the prior owners to keep horses, a flock of geese flew over my head singing that winter is coming in their own cacophonous way. Another day in Sequim.
By mid-morning it was already 47 degrees. Winters are mostly in the high 40s and 50s, and summers are mostly in the 60s and 70s. I jumped in my car and checked on a brand new condominium unit I recently sold to some clients, and after that I stopped at Starbucks for a double short latte extra hot and a blueberry scone. Savoring my scone and coffee, I couldn’t resist writing this article expressing my delight with living in Sequim. I love it here, and I have for 22 years. But then again, I count my blessings every day. Sequim is a happy place to live.
I could go on and on about Sequim and what an incredible climate we have, what it’s like to live in one of nature’s most beautiful places on the face of the earth, or I could talk about how safe it is to live here, how there is very little traffic . . . ever . . ., and I could go on an on about the delightful and interesting people who live here. But I won’t. I’ll let you search out articles on these subjects on this real estate blog, and there are over 2,000 such articles.
For now, I just want to say, “It’s another day in Sequim,” or as I often say to myself, “Another day in Paradise.” Same thing.
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14 Nov 2016
Sequim home prices are fairly reasonable compared to many areas of the country. We are probably in the middle when it comes to the price of a three bedroom, two bath home. Here are three homes in three areas of the country from the cheapest homes prices to the most expensive home prices.
For $65,000, you could have this Dublin, Georgia home. The deep south has some areas where home prices are incredibly low. But as we say in real estate, “Location is everything.” Do you want to live in Georgia, or would you prefer an even climate in the Northwest like Sequim, Washington?
San Francisco is expensive, and this ugly home is $1,200,000. Egad! No thank you. Enough said about home prices in southern California.
Alas, we’re back in Sequim, and I sold this home for $235,000. By the way, this home has a water view, which the others do not. So Sequim home prices are in the middle of the road compared to other markets across the country, but Sequim has what so many retirees want–a mild climate without temperature extremes, only 16 inches of rain per year (one-third that of Seattle), and extraordinary beauty in nature as Sequim is located between the gorgeous Olympic Mountains and the pristine Strait of Juan de Fuca. We’re probably lucky home prices in Sequim are not much higher.
Our inventory has shrunk recently, but you can search the entire Sequim home MLS at this site at Sequim-Homes.com.
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9 Nov 2016
President Trump. Who would have thought it was possible? Granted, there were many who hoped and many who did not want HRC to get in the White House, but honestly, who genuinely felt a President Trump was even possible? Very few. He had nearly everything going against him, except apparently American voters. But now that this election has been resolved and in January there will be a President Trump, what does that mean for the housing market and real estate in general?
As expected, the news late on election night that The Donald might become President Trump translated into a substantial drop in overnight trading in the Globex markets internationally. But as expected, this dramatic drop was temporary, and already today stocks and indexes, commodities, and currencies are up to where they were. But what does a President Trump mean for the future of home sales and the real estate market and economy?
By way of establishing some credibility with my readers on this subject, I have a degree in Economics with a speciality in monetary policy, a law degree and 20 years of real estate law practice, have been a registered financial advisor and certified estate planner when I was still practicing law, and I have a lifetime of business development and entrepreneurship. For the past 11 years I have run my own real estate brokerage.
So here is my prediction of how a President Trump will impact the housing market, prices, and construction. Economically his policies as discussed in their preliminary planning are pro-growth for the construction, home building, and home sales sectors. While the man may not be an articulate politician, he certainly understands real estate. You cannot make billions of dollars in real estate unless you’re one of the best and most knowledgeable real estate experts in the world.
He understands the need for home ownership. He knows about how home ownership among the middle class was devastated in the real estate and mortgage meltdown. He understands that economic growth, jobs, and home ownership all go hand-in-hand. Whatever personal character faults the man has, he does have the real life experience of creating jobs that virtually no other president has ever had. He also understands the mortgage business and how interest rates and the cost of building supplies effect the home industry.
How he performs in International politics and social programs in the U.S. remains to be seen, but on the subject of home ownership, home prices, and the future of the real estate market, I think a President Trump is good news for buyers and sellers. I believe that buyers who have held off on making the decision to buy a home because of the uncertainty of this election, are now going to make their plans to buy their home, especially retirees who have been waiting for resolution. I think we may all be surprised at the positive impact a President Trump will have on the real estate market.
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8 Nov 2016
Sequim bluffs run for miles along the beaches, and many homes have been built on low, medium, and high bluffs over the past half century. I’ve written extensively about Sequim bluffs and bluff stability in prior articles [Sequim Bluffs]. I also produced a video that shows you some major sloughing of Sequim bluffs and explains the issues of concern [Bluff Stability].
Many of my buyers retiring to the Sequim area express their concern about the “big one,” especially those looking at property along a bluff. Living on the west coast anywhere raises the question about when the next big earthquake will happen. But even as I write this, there was a recent earthquake in Oklahoma and one in Kentucky. If we do have the big one on this side of the country, I suspect we’re all in trouble on the West Coast, not just those of us living on the Olympic Peninsula.
While you may not decide to buy a home on a bluff that is too close for comfort, you may still want to know the answer to the question, “Does homeowner insurance cover a home that is damaged by slippage or even totally destroyed by going over a bluff?”
The default answer is “no.” But this requires an explanation. You would be covered if an earthquake damaged or destroyed your home on an unstable bluff, provided you purchased the additional earthquake coverage. That coverage is relatively inexpensive, about $200 per year.
But if a home is damaged or totally destroyed on a bluff for reasons other than an earthquake (rain and storms and sloughing), you would not be covered unless you paid for very expensive additional coverage, and few people do that because of the cost.
In either case, if your home is condemned, damaged, or totally destroyed, you may be responsible yourself for demolition and removal of the home, whether it is at the top of the bluff, halfway down, or on the beach. Looking at real estate on Sequim bluffs requires some serious due diligence and careful consideration. As I’ve studied Sequim bluffs, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many homes that are precariously perched on unstable bluffs, and unfortunately, the majority of these homeowners are probably not covered by full earthquake and bluff stability insurance.
Having said all of this, there are many areas where the bluffs are very stable, and the water views are just stunning, and I have many very happy clients living the retirement of their dreams high up on one of our Sequim bluffs.
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5 Nov 2016
Buying a home out of town is something worth thinking about before you arrive in Sequim or Port Angeles or Port Townsend. How far out of town are you willing to live? What if your number one home is 15 minutes from downtown Sequim? What if the home with a water view that stirs your soul is 15 minutes west of Port Angeles? What would you do?
Convenience is an important consideration when it comes to buying a home out of town, and the further out you are, the longer the drive to the grocery store, Costco, Home Depot, WalMart, or the pharmacy. I realize I’m saying the obvious, but the reason it is worth thinking about is because some of the most incredible homes are further out on the concentric circles from our urban centers.
Sometimes a home further from town is also on the side of a mountain or high enough to have an extraordinary water view of International waters. That can also mean a steep road or driveway. We don’t get snow very often, and we can go for years without any snow, but snow and ice can happen. This is a consideration for most buyers, but even Bell Hill in Sequim has some incredibly steep roads and driveways.
There is an advantage for buyers who are willing to drive 15 or more minutes to town. Can you guess what that advantage is? If you’re thinking price, you are right. As you get further out of town, price goes down. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Buyers who want to be close to shopping have to pay more for homes in higher demand. Buying a home out of town means lower demand and lower prices. A gorgeous home right in town with a great water view that sells for $750,000 might sell for $625,000 just 18 minutes out of town. That’s a $125,000 difference.
How far would you be willing to drive to save a lot of money? Maybe the only home you really love would mean buying a home out of town? It’s something worth thinking about. Buying a home out of town.
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26 Oct 2016
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.
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.
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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18 Oct 2016
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).
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.
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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11 Oct 2016
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.
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 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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8 Oct 2016
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.
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 $_______.
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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7 Oct 2016
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.
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:
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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5 Oct 2016
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?
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.”
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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