Welcome to the largest Sequim Real Estate Blog with over 1,400 articles.
24 Apr 2014
Are we really seeing the death of newspapers? The incredible growth of the Internet has come at great expense to traditional print newspapers. The National Association of Realtors says that 95% of all home buyers start their search for a home on the Internet, not in print newspapers. There was a time when we searched for homes in the classified section of newspapers, but no more. Buyers love the Internet. It’s easy and fast, it’s powerful, and it’s free and anonymous. No wonder buyers love the Internet.
This is the largest real estate blog in the entire Sequim and Port Angeles area, and perhaps on the entire Olympic Peninsula with over 1,500 articles written for buyers. What single article on this blog do you think got more comments than any other article in the last eight years? It is an article I wrote on October 30, 2008 on this blog. It received 41 great comments from readers around the country. Their comments are worth reading, even if you don’t read the article. That article is about the death of newspapers and the rise of the Internet. You can read it at: Print Newspapers Dying.
It’s sad that so many print newspapers have gone out of business, filed bankruptcy, or merged with other companies, but consumers are driving the news business with their dollars. Their eyes have turned to the Internet. If you haven’t read some of the fascinating articles about the dying print newspaper business, I recommend a site called Newspaper Death Watch. It chronicles the death of print newspapers in America.
One reader, Bob, wrote, “The paper edition will lose readers and no one can do anything about that. The way I see it is that online editions are cheaper, easier, and faster compared to paper editions. And also another important aspect is that it’s a ‘greener’ alternative and you don’t have to store the newspaper.”
All of this is no surprise to home buyers, because you are using the Internet to search for your next home. And you’re reading this news on the Internet.
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23 Apr 2014
Mortgage problems are the rule, not the exception today. Even with perfect credit and a huge down payment, a mortgage broker is very likely to surprise you with some strange and often ridiculous demands for additional documentation, and these often come at the 11th hour just before the scheduled closing. If you are paying in cash, you can avoid these pitfalls, but if you are planning to get a loan, you might want to be aware of what is happening to almost every buyer. Just knowing what you might experience with a mortgage broker can help to reduce your stress if and when it does happen, and being proactive on these issues can help you avoid mortgage problems and stress.
Mr. and Mrs. Joule made an offer on what they called their final retirement home. The offer was accepted, and since they already had a pre-approval letter and Mr. Joule was retired from a 30+ year career as a police officer, everything looked good and no one was anticipating any mortgage problems with the buyers. First, the out-of-state lender did not know how to address local real estate issues. After weeks of jumping through hoops, the Joule’s were told by that lender that they could not make the loan because there was no private road maintenance agreement signed by all seven homeowners on this private driveway easement. The lender claimed that was required by Fannie Mae. Later it was learned that was not true, and Washington state law specifically addressed that issue for lenders. The Joules turned to a local mortgage broker. I always recommend buyers go with a local lender. [Read What if Your Mortgage Broker is Not Local?]
The second broker is one of the best, but the loan processor his company had working on this file was not. The loan processor, unbeknownst to the rest of us, was not paying attention to any kind of checklist (if he had one), because he kept asking for documentation weeks after he should have, and the closing date had to be extended three times. Some of the requests were ridiculous, and he blamed Fannie Mae. One of the 11th hour lender demands was a letter from Mr. Joule’s police department in California stating that his retirement was guaranteed for at least three years. Strange, especially since he retired about 20 years ago and since the lender already had all the pension documents. In all, various mortgage problems caused about a six week delay in the closing. [Read Mortgage Underwriting Problems] Read the rest of this entry »
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22 Apr 2014
Several soon-to-be retirees have recently asked me if they should consider buying their Sequim home now, long before they plan to retire and live here. Their question goes on to ask if it would be practical to buy it now and rent it for a period of years until they move to Sequim. Here is my response to one client.
I think there are three considerations. First, is this a good time to buy a Sequim home, and will your home appreciate over the years ahead before you arrive? The answer is a resounding yes. Prices stabilized here about two years ago and are slowly starting to increase. Very slowly. I think in 10 years or so, prices will be back where they were in 2005.
Second, can you rent the house out for a decent monthly rent between now and the time you come? Right now the answer is yes. I suppose the rental market may change in the coming years, but it is very hard to find a decent 2 or 3 bedroom rental home in the Sequim area right now. I cannot tell you how many people have called me to ask if I know of a rental house anywhere in the Sequim area. One couple was quite desperate when they couldn’t find an appropriate rental. There are some rentals on Craigslist, and there are three rental management companies, but it is very hard to find a nice 2 to 3 bedroom rental home that isn’t a bit odd or isn’t way out of town.
Third, if you buy a home and rent it, would that make financial sense? Right now the fair market rent for a basic home like the one you want to buy is about $1,200 per month. If you buy a home for $225,000 and put $40,000 down, your monthly mortgage payment (not counting property taxes and insurance) would be $997 per month based on current mortgage rates. By the time you pay taxes and insurance, you would be at a break even point, or you might have to come up with a little money to cover your annual expenses. You can play with the purchase price and down payment to see what your monthly payment would be at:
Combine these reasons with the likelihood that interest rates are going up and prices are headed upward in the years ahead, and the time to buy, if you can, is now rather than a couple of years from now. In my humble opinion, this is a reasonably good time to buy a Sequim home and rent it out in anticipation of retiring in Sequim.
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21 Apr 2014
The demand for homes in Sequim and Port Angeles has been increasing, and this chart tells the story from the first quarter of 2005 through the first quarter of 2014. (Sequim is blue and P.A. is green.)
In 2005, which was really the peak year for real estate here (prices didn’t start declining until 2007), 102 homes sold in the Sequim area and 65 in the Port Angeles area. Then in 2013 spring sales picked up (showing the first three months of the year), and now in 2014 sales are increasing over last year. I suspect that April will show even more increases for this spring.
What does all this mean for buyers? It means that with the demand for homes increasing and the inventory shrinking (home builders have not been building for 6 years), we will at some point begin to see a slow but steady increase in prices. All of this just goes back to the basic economics of supply and demand. As the demand for homes increases, watch prices start to increase.
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19 Apr 2014
The real estate business is changing dramatically right in front of our eyes, and don’t believe for a second that it isn’t changing for consumers like you. It is. Many of the changes are obvious to buyers, like being able to use the Internet to search for real estate, and being able to do so much advance research online before you ever decide to move to a community or hire a Realtor. But there are major changes behind the scenes that consumers are quite unaware of, and many of these changes are compromising your best interests. There are a few things I think you might want to know. I’ve written a book on this subject, The New World of Marketing for Real Estate Agents, but here I want to share just two changes that have a huge impact on you.
How buyers search for real estate is now full of traps for the unwary. Yesterday I got an email from a buyer who found a home on Trulia. Trulia showed it as an active listing, and she was excited and wanted to know more about it. The information on Trulia is quite limited, but I had to tell her that this listing was already sold. Trulia did not show that. This is true of Zillow, too. I had some clients who found a home on Zillow, but it was sold two years earlier. Oops. I also sold a home that Zillow misrepresented at half its value (based on the actual sales price). For nationally syndicated sites like these, the rule is caveat emptor (buyer beware). The real estate business is changing and not all the changes are good for consumers.
What’s the answer? Use an online site that is 100% accurate and includes 100% of the Sequim and Port Angeles listings. I designed and programmed such a site for buyers, and you’ll find it at Sequim Homes for Sale. You’ll find a video on that site that shows you exactly how to search for and find your dream home.
How buyers hire their agent is another way the real estate business is changing. Buyers are driving this change, and I think it’s great. But there is a second trap for the unwary consumer when it comes to selecting a buyer’s agent. If you’re searching a national real estate site, do not assume the best buyer’s agent is the one whose photo is in the right margin or at the bottom of the listing. Do you know why their photos are there most of the time? Because they paid to have it there. That means any agent who can write a check can have their photo there. Any agent. Thank about that. Advertising and lead generation on the Internet for Realtors has gone wild, and whose watching out for you? As the saying goes, “Follow the money.” What’s the answer for buyers like you? Choose your Realtor carefully, and I recommend this Agent Interview Checklist.
The real estate business has been changing dramatically, but who is watching out for consumers like you? I am. Every day. With professionalism, knowledge, experience, and integrity. I never stop working to do a good job educating prospective clients like you with free information and tools, and I never stop working hard for my clients. I’m aware of how the real estate business is changing, but my clients are still at the center of the Universe no matter how the industry may sell its soul.
By the way, the image above, iRealty Virtual Brokers, is my dba. We are Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, and we are also iRealty Virtual Brokers. Even our real estate business is changing.
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16 Apr 2014
This single level home is right at the top of the Bell Curve when it comes to what retirees are looking for in the Sequim area. Are you in your 50′s or 60′s, retiring from a professional career, have been looking at the Sequim area for a few years, and now you are looking online to find that needle in a haystack? Many of my clients want a single level 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, and this is exactly what so many want. But this single level home offers an extra bedroom, so you either have 4 bedrooms, or you have 3 bedrooms plus a den or a little office. But there is so much more to this home and property that retirees tell me they want all the time. This virtual tour captures at least some of the story.
If you want a little privacy, this home certainly has that. You can enjoy sitting on your back patio with total privacy, and you have a high wooden fence around almost half of the property on the west side of the home. That could also be your dog run, and there is an RV parking spot there with hookups for electricity and sewer. The attached garage has three bays: room for two cars and the third section could be for your kayaks or other toys.
This is precisely the kind of quality home that sells quickly if it is priced right. And the owner and I discussed pricing extensively for the past two months. After a detailed review of all similar homes, this one has been priced somewhat below the competition, and it is priced way below some of the listings out there that are comparable.
If you are looking for a single level home like this with some privacy and a modern custom built floor plan, take a look at the full MLS information sheet at Sequim Single Level Home. If this is what you are looking for, I wouldn’t dilly dally, because my experience tells me this will be gone quickly. Call me at 360-775-5424 to schedule a showing, or email me at ChuckMarunde@gmail.com if you are looking for a single level home like this.
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15 Apr 2014
I recently met a great Sequim carpet cleaner, and when you meet someone who is really good at what they do, it’s worth sharing. I don’t get impressed very often by a service like this, but this company impressed me. Imagine a carpet cleaning system that does not use water or steam that requires hours to dry out. Who hasn’t done that? Use too much water (steam), or clean too slowly, and your carpet gets drenched. It can literally take days to dry out. But there’s another popular cleaning method that uses chemicals, which can have adverse health consequences, too. So what’s the answer?
This Sequim carpet cleaner uses a totally natural process with a fraction of the water. I love the way he describes the process:
Carpets will dry in one to two hours versus a couple of days. This eliminates reappearing stains, mold or mildew growing in the pad, shrinkage of the carpet, damage to the flooring underneath, and dirt-attracting residues left behind.
The fact that this cleaning process does not use dangerous chemicals really appeals to almost everyone today.
This is all non-toxic and enzyme-based, making our process safe for anyone with sensitivities, children, or animals. You do not have to vacate the house. There is minimal noise and no odor.
Who is this Sequim carpet cleaner? I get no referral fee at all for this article, but after talking with this man and finding out about the process he uses, and after finding out about his background in law enforcement, I knew this was someone I would like to hire, and why not tell others about his business? His name is Aaron St. George, and you’ll find his website at Sequim Carpet Cleaner. He even has some coupons posted on his website.
If you plan to get your home ready to sell, this is a great way to clean the carpets, and if you are buying a home, you still may want to hire this Sequim carpet cleaner.
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13 Apr 2014
The March Sequim real estate report is worth viewing. The market has been picking up, and this information shows us a vignette of what is happening in Sequim. Active listings in March were down 25% from March one year ago. That’s proof of what I have been writing about on this blog for a long time–that our inventory of the best homes is shrinking. And here’s a another significant stat: the number of days on market until sold is down 27% from last year. Demand is up and supply is down. You know what that means.
The Sequim real estate market is not just showing signs of improving, it has been dramatically improving for months now. This is good news for sellers, and it is mixed news for buyers. The key for buyers now is not only finding the ideal home, but moving on it intelligently when you do. Knowing how to negotiate the best price can make a break your effort to close the deal, especially if there are other competing buyers for the same home.
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12 Apr 2014
The greatest fears of buyers are many, but the vast majority are not actually things buyers need to worry about. Mark Twain said, “My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened.” We all tend to worry about things that never happen and are unlikely to happen. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that 85% of what we worry about never happens. I would say that 85% of the things my clients worry about never happen, and the other 15% doesn’t happen either, mostly because I protect them by being proactive.
There are, as a matter of fact, at least 100 things that could go wrong. There could be a structural issue with the home you want to buy, a plumbing issue, an electrical issue, water in the crawl space, pest infestation, mold, septic failure or repairs, contaminated well water, and the list goes on and on. You might not be approved for financing for reasons that make no sense. The house might fail to appraise at the purchase price. There might be drainage issues on the land. The neighbor’s dog might bark incessantly. There is no end to what could go wrong.
As a buyer you should be leary of jumping into a transaction without enough information and knowledge to guide you through the whole process without getting hurt. But if you’re retiring to the Sequim area, there’s virtually no way you could have the knowledge and experience of all the local real estate issues to protect you from every calamity. But there’s no sense worrying yourself to death either. Since you can’t know all things about a new area, and since there’s no sense in stressing yourself out over what could happen or what might happen, why not avoid that whole entanglement? I know how you can avoid that merry-go-round of stress and not suffer the greatest fears of buyers.
First, hire the best local buyer’s agent you can find. Do your due diligence. Far too many buyers just hire the first Realtor they talk to. According to the National Association of Realtors, 85% hire the first Realtor they talk to without any interview or due diligence. Isn’t that an amazing statistic? It’s probably common sense, but just find the best buyer’s agent with local knowledge and experience. For an interview or due diligence checklist on hiring a Realtor, download the checklist at How to Hire a Realtor. This also will help you avoid the greatest fears of buyers. (This is a double-edged sword, because if you hire the wrong Realtor, you might find your Realtor missed something, and then your fears could turn out to be justified.)
Second, if you really have hired the kind of Realtor who can do an outstanding job for you and protect you at the same time with his experience (and loyalty), you do not need to be worrying about things you do not know. Uncertainty is the greatest source of stress in life. You can eliminate uncertainty by hiring an expert whom you can trust. Then you won’t have to deal with the greatest fears of buyers.
Of course, this is a shameless plug with the hope that you will consider interviewing me. Do your due diligence online about me. Email me or call me and interview me. I’m an open book. But I would consider it a privilege to help you avoid the greatest fears of buyers.
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10 Apr 2014
There are some gorgeous Sequim homes for sale, but you’ve got to filter through the 678 single family homes in our inventory. It’s not necessarily like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the best homes in the best areas at the best listing prices are not easy to find. There’s a lot of value to you as a buyer in having a buyer’s agent who knows the market and the area very well. The home in this photo is a custom home built by one of the best builders in the State of Washington. The floor plan is so well designed, you have to see it to really appreciate it. You can see more photos of this home at Sequim Custom Built Home.
Below is a link to 18 of Sequim’s finest, a list of high quality homes from $350,000 to $440,000 with a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, 2,000 square feet, and one or more acres. This price range represents the finer Sequim homes for sale. Many of the homes on this list are bargains when you learn how much it cost the owners to build these homes. For example, the owners of the above home told me they have about $560,000 in the property, the development and permits, the construction and materials, and the landscaping, but it is one of our fine Sequim homes for sale at only $439,000. You can’t build this home for that price today, that’s for sure.
I hope you enjoy looking at these homes online. Most have great photographs and some have nice video tours, too. If you have any questions about any of these homes, just call me, Chuck Marunde, at 360-775-5424.
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