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Home Defects Haunt Buyers

Home defects can haunt a buyer long after moving into their home. We can’t all buy a brand new home, and the cost of buying land and hiring a home builder to build a new home is substantially more than buying an existing home, but an existing home may be on the perfect piece of land in the perfect location. Buying a used home is what most of us choose to do. But an older home can have home defects of various kinds. Here are a few home defects to watch for when you are looking at homes.

Home Defects

Latent Home Defects

The home in this photo was built in 1976, and it is in a perfect location at the end of a private drive and with a stunning mountain view. Notice the messy front concrete step. Six months after the buyer moved into this home, he realized how slippery the tile was on the front step, and there was some kind of white sticky stuff oozing up from between the tiles. When he grabbed one of the tiles, it came up with a slight lift. This was one of many projects done by the previous owner.

A latent defect exists when a homeowner, who has no clue how to do construction work, does his own work on a home and disguises it with an apparent normal appearance. These kinds of latent defects are hard, if not impossible, to recognize when you are looking at homes.

Home Defects Multiply

If a homeowner did a lot of things cheaply or without proper knowledge during the many years he lived in a home, you might not discover all the problems until you’ve been living in the home for the first few months to a year. Light switches in the wrong places, a bathroom shower with no exhaust fan at all, an electrical panel that needs upgrading, cabinetry that doesn’t fit right, soffits that need stronger wire screens because the woodpecker broke through, and a dozen little weird things that were not done right.

Build a brand new home and you won’t have to deal with home defects from a previous owner who should have hired licensed contractors but did not. On the other hand, I wouldn’t trade my 1976 used home for a new home across town. You see I’m the buyer who bought the home in this photo, and I love it with all my heart, despite the many little problems.

I recommend hiring a good home inspector, but having done that, you still need to pay attention to the kinds of defects I’m writing about, because most home inspectors miss a lot of the common home defects that will annoy you later.

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Should I Buy a Brand New Home or a Used Home?

Buying a brand new home is suddenly becoming a viable option for buyers moving to the Sequim area. During this past seven year recession, home builders have not been building homes. Home building just died back in 2007 or 2008. Many builders went out of business, and a number of Sequim developer/builders went bankrupt and lost their their subdivisions to bankruptcy trustees. The inventory of used homes has been shrinking as those homes have been slowly selling since 2007, and now we have a crisis. There are hardly any homes in the inventory that retirees want. Unless a brand new listing comes on the market, you may not be able to find what you want. So builders are suddenly finding buyers knocking on their doors, and once again they are getting orders to build brand new homes. It has been a seven year drought for home builders in Sequim.

New Home

Brand New Home

There is a definite advantage to a new home, aka new construction. If you have a home builder build the ideal floor plan for you, you get exactly the new home that is best suited for you. That’s a good thing. But you also don’t have the maintenance of a used home (roofing, heating, heat pump, plumbing, appliances).

The reason buyers have been buying used homes rather than have a new home built is because used homes have been about 30% cheaper during this past seven years. Buyers are willing to compromise a little to get a home close to their ideal retirement home for a 30% savings.

Brand New Home Prices v. Used

But that savings has almost vanished as the inventory has been shrinking and buyers are thinking, “I’ll just buy a brand new home or have one built, since I can’t find a used one on the market that I like.”

Even newer used homes are hard to find if we are talking about a 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1,800 to 2,200 square foot home in a nice area priced from $275,000 to $425,000. So buyers are finding that they need to consider building a home. This is a big development in Sequim. I have been watching this for seven years wondering when we will find balance again between sales of used homes and new homes.

Of course, you should exhaust all efforts to find a used home that you love, but if you are looking at homes in the MLS, and if you are having trouble finding the ideal home, you might want to consider building a new home.

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I want to show you how to compare buying an existing home to building a home in the Sequim or Port Angeles areas.  As you look at existing homes, there are several ways to determine what a reasonable fair market value (FMV) would be.  First, you can look at comparable sales.  You’ll have to do a careful analysis here, because you must differentiate the location and features of a home to arrive at an accurate FMV of your subject property.  Second, you can look at the Clallam County tax assessment of the property.  The tax assessor has been known to miss the FMV, and that can be by an under assessment or an over assessment.  But I have been surprised at how often the assessor’s automated software seems to be improving its accuracy of late.  Third, you can do a cost replacement analysis, and I’ll show you how to use these numbers when you’re considering drafting an offer on a home.

Buying an Existing Home or Building a Home

Building a HomeEach of these three approaches is an estimate of FMV.  In a healthy market, all three would theoretically be the same number, give or take a few thousand dollars.  In a recession, the cost approach or replacement value will typically be higher than the other two.  That’s where we are now.   The value of being able to do a quick calculation on the cost approach is that it tells you immediately if the current listing price is way out of line.  I’ll demonstrate how to do these calculations.

Comparing Building a Home to Buying an Existing Home

The most accurate way to arrive at FMV is by looking at true comparable sales.  This is what appraisals are all about, and banks lend on the values of comparable sales.  But if you’re looking at existing homes, and you’re wondering if the listing price is reasonable, you can use a cost approach and you’ll know in a matter of three minutes.  Knowing the approximate cost of building a home is very informative.  Here’s how you do that.  (more…)

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Septic RegulationsNew septic regulations are in effect, so for private septic systems, all homeowners must know the new rules.  Here is a summary with helpful links to the county regs.

New Septic Regulations

In 2005 and 2006, septic regulations were created that greatly impact Clallam County Environmental Health and county residents served by septic systems.  The State Board of Health adopted a revised version of the onsite sewage system code, WAC 246-272A. This code governs on-site sewage (aka septic) systems in the state. In the updated code, there is a provision that requires the 12 Puget Sound counties, including Clallam County, to develop Onsite Septic System Management (OSSM) plans to address development and long-term management of onsite septic systems. Also included in these septic regulations is a requirement for septic systems to be inspected at routine frequencies (i.e. annually or every three years depending on the type of system) and that the County will maintain a method to account for all septic systems in the county and retain data on all the septic system inspection activities.  The second piece of legislation, RCW 70.118A, requires the County to address areas where septic systems are or might be impacting water quality related to shellfish growing areas by creating a Marine Recovery Area (MRA). Further, the County is required to account for and determine the functional status of every septic system within the MRA.

Septic Regulations Require Annual Inspection

In response to this mandate, the Environmental Health Division developed Clallam County’s OSSM plan using a consensus-driven stakeholder work group composed of members of the local governments and tribes, industry, realtors, financial institution representatives, and citizens. In 2007, the stakeholder work group (known as the Clallam County OSS Work Group) developed a plan which was approved by the Clallam County Board of Health with concurrence from the State Department of Health.  An MRA was established based on the existing Sequim-Dungeness Bay Clean Water District.  As a method to comply with the requirement to ensure and document that septic systems were working properly, the OSS Work Group discussed the issue of inspection at time of property transfer in detail and determined that the requirement should be in our local onsite septic system code.  This decision was based in part on the State Board of Health code which provides for local environmental health departments to use this tool as a mechanism to implement local on-site management plans.

WAC 246-272A-0015(7) states:

In order to implement the plan described in subsections (1) and (5) of this section, the local health officer may require the owner of the OSS to:

“(d) Have an inspection of the OSS at the time of property transfer including the preparation of a “record drawing” if necessary.”

Due to concerns about the impact on property owners and the real estate community, the implementation of this part of the code was extended to the June 1, 2010 date.

(more…)

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If you are going to hire a Sequim or Port Angeles contractor to build your home, is it necessary or wise to have theft insurance during construction?  This may seem like an esoteric question, and few people having a home built would even think of asking it, but it did come up recently for one of my clients.

What we’re talking about here is whether insurance is important to protect the supplies delivered to a house site  during construction in Sequim or Port Angeles.  Once the house has doors and windows and the doors have locks, you won’t need a separate theft insurance policy, because you would be covered by your new homeowner’s policy.

First, theft insurance for personal property (not attached or affixed to the house yet) for lumber or other supplies is a good idea where thefts occur.  Does Sequim or Port Angeles have a serious problem with lumber or supplies being stolen from home sites?  I asked a long time builder, Rick Anderson, who has built over 400 homes here since 1981.  He remembered a small theft about 15 years ago, but that was the only one in all these years.  Theft has not been a serious problem here.

Second, a good contractor doesn’t have expensive lumber and supplies sitting out in the open for long periods of time where it can be easily stolen.  A good project manager coordinates the delivery of supplies with the construction crew, and expensive lumber, like hardwood flooring, is never left outside and only delivered when the house is secured and doors have locks.

Precious items like custom made countertops and kitchen cabinets are never dropped off and left outside where rain could destroy and theft could occur.  Deliveries are coordinated with installers.

Suppose a homeowner wanted to buy a theft policy that went above and beyond the homeowner’s policy coverage, just in case some plywood or some other lumber was stolen before it was installed?  You could.  I asked local State Farm agent Ray Gruver how much such a policy would cost.  He said a $20,000 policy (about twice what you would need) with a $100 deductible was in the ballpark of $250.

The bottom line is that contractors and homeowners don’t usually bother with theft insurance in Sequim or Port Angeles.   Now if you were building in Phoenix right now, the answer might be different.

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sequim-contractorsHow much will my house cost?  This is an excellent question, unless you are asking someone who has no idea what kind of house you want.  Yet this is a common question that people will ask a home builder.  The question asked by the super majority of people who plan to build a home is this question, “How much do you charge per square foot?”  What’s fascinating about this question is that the person asking it has not told the builder anything about what kind of home he wants.  Here’s how I put this question in perspective.

1.  Imagine going to Costco and pausing at the front door where you show the entry clerk your membership card, and ask the clerk this question, “How much will my groceries cost me today?”

2.  Or imagine going to your favorite restaurant and as soon as the waitress or maitre d’ comes to your table with the menu, you ask, “How much will our check be tonight?”

3.  Or suppose you have an annual checkup with your doctor, and immediately upon entering the doctor’s office you ask the receptionist, “How much will the good doctor be billing me today?”

Of course, the answers to all of these questions starts out, “That depends . . .”  It depends on what groceries you buy, what you order off the menu, and what health needs your body has.

So why would a person’s very first question to a Sequim home builder or a Port Angeles home builder be, “How much will my home cost per square foot?”

The average person wants to believe that he/she can find a home builder who will build their home for less than anyone else, a lot less.  After doing some research and talking to a few general contractors, it will be apparent that there is a huge difference between the highest bidder and the lowest bidder.  Here’s where the average person makes a massive mistake.

They assume the lower bidder is telling them everything they need to know about cost and that the quality of materials used will be the same as the higher bidder.  They also assume the lower bidder will not surprise them by increasing the cost throughout the construction process.  There are a thousand games contractors can play, so integrity and absolute honesty on the part of a builder are critical, but understand a builder with integrity and honesty is the exception, not the rule.

Right now I’m aware of another victim homeowner who hired the lowest bidder, and what a nightmare it is.  They are so stressed out, and they are so far over budget already, they are worried about having enough money to complete their home.  How would you like to retire and find yourself in the biggest nightmare of your life?  This is a story that keeps repeating itself again and again every month (or every day) in Washington.  Like sheep to the slaughter, consumers keep hiring these home builders masquerading as  honest contractors.  Clients have been telling me for years, “He seemed so nice.

What is the answer?  The answer is doing your due diligence to find and hire a builder who is absolutely honest, and who prepares a detailed specifications manual so you can compare apples-to-apples with competing contractors.  But if you’re not an expert on these subjects, and no one is unless they’ve been a builder or built many homes and have a substantial understanding of materials, construction, and costs, get help from someone who knows how to walk you through this process.  This does not cost you anything.  Let me say that again.  Doing your due diligence does not cost you anything.

But not doing your due diligence could cost you a small fortune.  When you meet your contractor, don’t ask, “How much do you charge per square foot?”  Tell your builder exactly what you want in a home, answer his questions, get a detailed spec manual, and then start comparing bids.  And take the lower bids back to the builder who was higher and who you perceived to be honest.  Ask him to do a professional and specific apples v. apples comparison.  Again, this will cost you nothing, but could save you a fortune.

And finally, let me share something that so many homeowners have learned from the school of hard knocks.  “The lowest bidder may actually end up being the highest bidder by the time your home is completed.”

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Building a Home: Is Your Home Builder Strong?

We are in the midst of a sea change in the building industry, and many small home builders are no longer in the home building business, and some of the large ones have filed for banktruptcy protection. So what do you do if you are planning to build a home? My recommendation is that you find a home builder who not only has an outstanding reputation for building quality homes and who has a reputation for having a great relationship with his clients, but who also is financially strong.

A home builder who has a lot of overhead and who doesn’t have strong financial reserves may be hanging by a thread, but may still be signing contracts with clients. What happens if you are one of those clients, you put down your deposit, and a few months later you learn your builder is filing bankruptcy and your home construction has been put on hold?

There’s not much you can do. Every asset of the builder and his operations are now under the control of a bankruptcy trustee. Who knows what will happen? You house may be finished, or it may not be finished. You may get your money back, or you may not. Scary thought, isn’t it?

I strongly recommend you consider this when you are doing your due diligence to select a strong builder. If you have any questions on this matter, call me at 360-775-5424. I’m Chuck Marunde, and I’d be glad to answer your questions if I can.

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  • Filed under: Building a Home
  • Port Angeles Land: A Creek Runs Thru It

    Here’s a rare 4.25 acre lot with a creek running through it, the quiet and peace of the country while being close to town and minutes from Port Angeles High School.   Here’s a peek of this extraordinary setting in this video, and for more detailed information, view this data sheet with photos:   Port Angeles Land for Sale with a Creek Running Through It.

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    Retiring in Sequim or Port Angeles?   Many retirees have not found that perfect floor plan in the existing inventory of homes for sale, so they are considering having their own home built.   What next?

    A homeowner can build their own home or act as their own general contractor, but is that a good idea?   Will you save money and get a quality home built the way you want it built?   Why can’t a homeowner simply find out who the best subcontractors are and hire them to do the job?

    Playing golf looks pretty easy.   Why can’t a beginner just beat Tiger Woods?   Michael Jordan may be the best basketball player in history, but why can’t anyone tall and athletic go one-on-one with Michael?

    What’s so hard about building a house?   It’s not exactly an athletic event.   The answer is much longer than we have space here.   I want to touch on three significant reasons to hire a GOOD general contractor.

    Many retirees have been planning their dream home for years, and have looked at hundreds of house plans, options, materials, and compared costs.   You can purchase a nice floor plan, or you can hire an architect to design a beautiful home.   I’ve worked with both architects and builders, and here are some thoughts worth considering.

    1.   The first issue is cost.   A good general contractor who builds quality custom homes brings a wealth of experience to the table in design and the selection of materials.   He can look at a floor plan and suggest ways to make the refinements you want for your perfect home, and he can also help you select materials that might be much less expensive than your first choice while achieving the desired quality result.   This is important, because architects are not typically tuned into the cost of materials as builders are who do this work every day.   An architect is focused on his design, and he understandably has a lot of pride in his work, but he is not necessarily designing with the goal of saving you every dollar he can on materials or the design itself.

    2.   The second issue is quality.   A good general contractor maintains quality control during the entire construction phase of your home, and that includes quality control over the materials used and the quality of work of the subcontractors and their employees.   Without a lifetime of experience doing just that, you would be well advised not to attempt to be your own project supervisor.   Without a trained eye, you won’t know what to watch for.   One other thought on this issue.   Some assume that the county or city building department will be supervising to watch for code compliance and quality, but that is definitely not their job, and they won’t do it.   Code compliance is important, but they have checklists on the code and the quality or lack thereof of the construction or the materials is not within their authority or interest.

    3.   The third issue is honesty and fairness.   A general contractor who has built many homes will have a discount contract with the lumber company and other suppliers, and an honest builder will tell you about these discounts and even pass them on to you.   These discounts can amount to 10% or 15% off retail you will pay directly if you act as your own general.   I should add here that if you do act as you own general and hire subcontractors, there are subs who will take advantage of you, and you will pay much more to that sub or subs than your general contractor would have paid.

    There is one builder I highly recommend in Sequim and Port Angeles.   He has built homes here since 1981, has an incredible customer satisfaction rate (the highest), does get volume discounts, and knows how to pass savings on to you and keep design costs down.   His name is Rick Anderson and he does have a website at Anderson Homes, LLC.

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    Many people plan to build their home in Sequim or Port Angeles, but do not know how to select a good builder.   The following is a true story.   The names have been changed.   I have to be careful about slander or defamation, so I don’t mention anyone or any companies.     I heard many stories just like this during 20 years of law practice, and I’ve written extensively about builders who misrepresent the cost of construction.   Unfortunately, the majority of good people still think the lowest bidder is the contractor to hire.   Only after great stress and a lot of extra money do they ever begin to admit to themselves that they chose the wrong builder.   Why do people keep going down that path like sheep to the slaughter?   After all these years I think I now know why.   People simply don’t believe articles like this.   They don’t believe I’m telling the truth.   Well, you decide for yourself if you think this true story is relevant to you.   I have inserted some relevant comments where appropriate.

    Question:

    Hello, My name is Tom Jones. Last year my wife and I purchased a lot in [city deleted] in hopes of building our retirement home. After interviewing and dealing with several contractors in the area, we were not convinced that they could build our home as we wanted it, since we do not live in Washington.   We needed them to communicate effectively and constantly with us about the project and budget.

    We went to our real estate agent (and friend)   for advise and to suggest a builder.   He did suggest one and we made contact with the builder.   He seemed friendly and honest [they all do, and some of the slickest ones are extremely good at winning you over], was willing to work closely with us on communicating and about budget.   [Of course they’ll all say they will do this.]   He did seem to have some unconventional estimating methods [red flag] and at times a bit headstrong [red flag, your builder is working for you, not the other way around] and vague [red flag] when confronted about the pricing.   [You should have walked away right then.   Seriously.   Vague on pricing means he intends to jack up the costs without your agreement in the beginning, but once he has your John Henry on that contract, he’s got you.   And he knows that.]   At one point, a $3000.00 16’x8′ insulated garage door finally got reduced to $1600 after I told him I refuse to pay the $3,000 and the company that makes the door would do it for $2,000.   I have done some related work to contracting in my lifetime, so I do understand some of the “quirks” each contractor has.   [“Quirks” are not acceptable.   Honesty does not require quirks of any kind.]

    Anyway, During our meetings we would discuss other parts of the project, like landscaping, concrete work, interior trim finishes, and so on.   One area of discussion was regarding a driveway. His suggestion was to put in gravel, however the CC&R’s state that you can only have concrete or asphalt. [This lack of attention by the builder could have gotten you into an expensive problem, since the builder would have put you in violation of the CC&R’s.]   On our last contact, we discussed   getting a price for concrete and signed a contract.   [Never sign a contract with a builder without knowing the exact price to build the home with everything included, and only sign with a builder who guarantees the contract price in writing.]

    Being a few weeks away from closing on my construction loan, I kept inquiring about the driveway cost. Finally, the day before I was to sign loan papers, I received an email stating that the driveway would be a minimum of $4,000, but could be as little as $1500.   That didn’t make sense.   [Of course, it didn’t.   Red flag, red flag.   Folks, this nice person who is apparently honest and was trying to get a good builder for his home, has had many red flags.   These red flags don’t keep popping up with a builder who has integrity and is absolutely honest with you from the first email or the first meeting.]

    After this huge discrepancy on the driveway costs, my wife and I discussed our options and decided that we were not comfortable with all this and decided not to sign the loan papers. The next day, we received a phone message from the builder and he wants to start digging for foundations tomorrow. I informed him that there are no funds, as we did not sign loan docs and there is not enough money in our personal account to cover the driveway, moving expenses, window coverings and any other expenses that would be necessary to move in.

    We ended up paying $1,800 to settle or what I assume made the contract null and void.   My wife and I are not sure what we can do now. Can we try to hire another contractor to build our home without any repercussion from this one?   [That depends on your contract and whether your builder signed an agreement with release language and with no other rights to sue or be sued.] What happens to the building permit, is it in his name, Can we change that? How long do they last?   [Again, that depends on the builder and how he applied for the permit, but if he did it right the permit should be in your name on the application and he should only be listed as the contractor.] I am sorry for rambling on in this email, however we are both upset about the turn of events and are not sure that [city deleted] is right for us to retire in. [Wait a minute.   You are going to decide whether or not this area is the right place to retire for the rest of your life based on a bad contractor you hired?   You got stuck with a bad builder, but I will shout from the mountain tops that there are more wonderful and kind people in this area than any place I have ever lived, and probably more than where you live now.   Don’t make an irrational decision on where you retire based on one bad person.   My goodness, find a place in these United States where everyone is perfect and absolutely honest, and you are in another galaxy my friend.] Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Answer:

    I read your email.   I’m sorry to hear you had such a nightmare with a builder.   I’m not sure who your builder was, but believe it or not, this is a very similar story to what I’ve been hearing for 20 years.   One of my passions is trying to help people who are planning to build their next home connect with a good, honest, and competent builder.   While that seems pretty simple, it is a process that is full of traps, and there are many wolves in sheep’s’ clothing out there who will say anything to get customers to sign a contract.   The checklist of little tricks and deception is very long.   I’m sorry you had such a bad experience like this.   [See my notes as part of this answer inserted in brackets inside the question above.]

    On the other hand, I think it is good that you are out from under that contract, so you can move on, even if the builder did extort a fee from you.   As far as moving on to a new builder, I have a couple of thoughts.

    Many professionals in my business are asked for referrals to a builder, and for some odd reason they think they have to give three names, including the one they know is the best and two others they don’t really want to recommend.   Why do they do this?   Well, some are thinking they have to because of liability reasons.   They don’t want to be responsible if a builder does something wrong, and they think it could come back to bite them.   Poppycock!   If I know the best dentist, I’m not recommending two others who don’t deserve the referral.   If I know the best doctor, lawyer, accountant, or auto mechanic, I will recommend that one.   I owe that kind of honesty to the person who asked for my opinion.   So I will boldly recommend a builder here.   So what if I offend other builders.   You’re reading this article to get the truth, not some watered down version of what I think is “safe” to share.

    A builder I love to refer people to because of his absolute integrity and because he never ever mistreats clients is Rick Anderson.   Let me be absolutely honest and share a small frustration.   Rick has lost clients that I know of because they got a lower bid from someone else who made promises that sounded good, but what the customer did not know is that comparing Rick’s estimate or project manual with one of these other builders is not comparing apples with apples.   It’s very easy for a builder to generate a lower bid.     In fact, they will do it every time.   It’s easy to do by just cutting something out or using an inferior material.   So if it is a lower bid you’re shopping for, I can guarantee you will find it.   But Rick has never misrepresented the true cost of work just to get a client to sign a contract and then keep sucking more money out of the client like so many builders do.   By the way, Rick never talks this bold about himself or his company, but I will–for your sake.   I can tell you after 20 years of law practice that the lowest bidder is often the most expensive builder by the time the house is completed, unless you’re building a cracker box with the cheapest material.   Even most, if not all, of the builders who do build cracker boxes misrepresent their cost per square foot just to suck the clients in the front door.   (A former employee of [name deleted] wrote on a Seattle blog that in the hundreds of homes that were built while he worked there, not a single home was ever built for the advertised $38 per square foot.   Not one.)   Rick guarantees his contract price and people always know what they are getting from the beginning.

    I think it would be fair to say that some people who hired a builder with a lower bid often end up paying more than they would have if they would have hired Rick in the beginning.   One other huge factor that is true, but again people don’t seem to know this, is that the process with Rick is almost always much smoother and happier for clients, AND the finished product is of a much higher quality.   I could give you a lot of evidence on the quality issue, but not in this short answer.

    If you have a house plan already, why don’t you email or send it to me, and I’ll ask Rick Anderson to go over it and see what he can build it for.     He is very enjoyable to work with. By the way, don’t make the huge mistake some people make.   They go to Rick Anderson and get an estimate, and then they go to a couple of other builders and get a lower estimate and immediatley hire that builder with the lowest bid WITHOUT going back to Rick for an honest comparison.   Remember, you will always get a lower bid.   That’s easy for them to generate.   Don’t you want an honest comparison?

    Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.
    Broker/Realtor
    Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC
    618 South Peabody St., Suite I
    Port Angeles, WA   98362
    360-775-5424

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    Build a Custom Home or Buy an Existing Home?

    Building your Sequim or Port Angeles retirement home soon? There are a small number of luxury homes for sale in the area, but the sellers have been frustrated, because they’ve been unable to sell their homes in the upper price ranges, $500,000 to $900,000. If you are planning your retirement in Sequim or Port Angeles, you may be grappling a little with the choice of buying an existing home or having your next home built by a custom home builder.

    What is the biggest single reason people ultimately decide to have their retirement home built? Perhaps some visual aides will make the point best.

    Not everyone has the same concept of architectural beauty. Some like a traditional architecture, and others like . . . well . . . something else.

    What is your idea of a beautiful custom designed kitchen?

    These photos represent luxury homes in the upper price ranges. Unless you fall in love with a unique design, you are unlikely to want to pay for someone else’s idea of a dream home.

    Some people like log homes, but even among those who do, their tastes and preferences are decidedly different. Does this catch your eye? More than that, would you be willing to pay a high price for someone else’s unique log design? It’s actually a hybrid of log and frame.

    The kitchen is clearly one of the most important rooms in your home, so this is where people tend to customize their design, the cabinets, and the countertops, and it’s easy to get turned off by someone else’s kitchen plan. Just another reason to build your own kitchen from scratch.

    The living room or great room is also a major factor for homebuyers, and buyers are usually impressed, turned off, or feel nothing when they walk into a home for the first time. If the living room doesn’t instantly delight you with feelings of comfort and peace, move on.

    I’ve seen some really impressive luxury homes, but not necessarily something I would want to live in. When you buy someone else’s design, it never really feels like it’s entirely your own. Of course, you can redecorate or rehab or completely rebuild a kitchen, for example, but then you’ve just bought it twice. Why do that when you can design your own and pay for it once?

    Granted, these photos are of unique designs, but they are certainly not wierd or way out. These are designs within the universe of homes for sale.

    My point is that any luxury home, or home in the upper price ranges, is someone else’s design, and while you may look at something more traditional than what I’ve displayed in these photos, you’ll still have the same issues.

    Want to look at more floor plans for the Northwest? For floor plans, photos, and descriptions, take a look at RickAndersonHomes.com. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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  • Filed under: Building a Home
  • Why Building a Home Now is Smart – The Proof

    Sequim ContractorsThere are a good number of retired (or nearly retired) folks who are planning to build their retirement homes in the coming months.   I know because I talk to them reguarly.   These are people who are not waiting to sell an existing home, who have excellent credit scores, and who have savings and the financial wherewithal to buy a lot and build a home.   Some already purchased their lot several years ago.

    Obviously, there is a large segment of our population of retirees who are not in that group, because they must first sell a home before they can build, and right now try to find a good market to sell anywhere in the country.   So these folks are going to patiently (or impatiently) wait for the market to begin to return before they make their move to sell and build their next home.

    For those who are in a position to build, why is now such a good time?   As they say in any area of investing, and building a new home is a huge investment, “timing is everything.”   If I were a high pressure salesman working for a large tract home builder in trouble in the Seattle or Tacoma area, and I was trying to force your hand to buy a spec home that’s been on the market for nine months (and is headed to foreclosure if the builder doesn’t get it sold stat), my pitch to you that now is the time to build or buy a spec home would be colored with conflicts of interest.   I’m not in that position, and no one I associate with is in trouble to sell spec homes or anything else.   We all have our personal motivations, and I have mine, but judge my counsel here on its own merits.

    Here are five solid reasons this is one of the best times to build a home in the next five years:

    1. If you are buying a lot for your new house, lot prices are lower than they’ve been in many years, and developers and private owners are bending over backwards to sell you their lots;
    2. The prices of timber and other materials are lower now than they have been and will be in a long time;
    3. The subcontractors are reducing the labor component of their bids right now out of a need to work;
    4. Builders and subs are likely to give you more personal attention right now than ever, both in the relationship process and in the quality of workmanship; and
    5. When the market starts to come back, we will see significant inflationary upward pressure on prices across the board as consumer spending and massive government spending kicks in and as we see the economic multiplier effect play out.

    This is a good time to build, provided you do your due diligence in selecting a home builder with experience, integrity, and financial strength, and provided you surround yourself with professionals to gather information and make wise decisions at every point.   Be wise in chosing a Realtor, an architect, and a home builder.   You’ll be glad you did.   If you need help in this process, you can email me or call me.   It would be my privilege to be a part of your exciting plans to build your retirement home in Sequim or Port Angeles.

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    Building a New Home – Saving Big Money

    Port Angeles Home BuilderAre you planning to build a new home?   You’ve probably read some of the articles allegedly written by experts who willingly share the secrets to saving a lot of money.   Saving $30,000 to $120,000 is a pretty attractive concept.   Who wouldn’t want to save money like that?

    The first rule is don’t believe everything you read.   Of course, I’m laughing, because you are reading this article.   But if I am telling you the truth, you can benefit from what you read here.   Research, read, analyze, and do your due diligence.   Make fully informed decisions before you decide how and where to build your next home.

    The second rule is that you need to dig into facts yourself to discover the truth.   Today I want to dispel a few misrepresentations that are all over the Internet and even in some print media.   Truth is like a flashlight that exposes the contents in the corners of a dark room.   Once you have seen what is in the corners, you can never forget the truth.   But until you know the truth, your beliefs may be clouded.   So let’s shine the light into the four corners of a room right now.   Let’s look at false or only partially true statements that hide in each of these corners.

    Corner No. 1:   Be your own contractor and on a $300,000 project save $60,000 to $120,000.   I talked with a home builder who has over 25 years of building single family homes, and his response to this statement was, “That would be a 40% profit.   That is out of the park.   I’ve never even made a $60,000 profit on a $300,000 project.   Gross maybe, but certainly not net.”

    There is so much more to working with a good general contractor that is not explained in a bold and exaggerated claim that a home owner can save up to 40%.   In other words, there are several expensive traps for the unwary home owner who decides to be their own general contractor.   What are these traps?

    1. An honest and good general contractor brings value engineering in both design and the selection of materials.   I recently interviewed a retired couple who had an architect design their beautiful home, but the architect did not control costs in line with their budget.   Their contractor made suggestions, both in design and in the materials used, that saved them tens of thousands of dollars.   This alone paid for the general contractor.
    2. He brings quality control over the subcontractors and his own employees.   I learned it takes a “trained eye” to recognize potential problems during the construction of a home.   The average home owner will not have that eye that takes decades of experience.   There are a thousand things that can go wrong and might go unnoticed from the excavation and foundation to the finish work.   A good contractor is constantly supervising and correcting as construction progresses.   Problems avoided is money saved later.
    3. He has buying power the home owner simply does not have.   A medium sized or large home builder will have huge discounts from suppliers, and no home owner gets these volume discounts.   This could also amount to tens of thousands of dollars on an average home.
    4. A few contractors offer fixed or guaranteed contracts and eat any overage.   Most builders do not offer their clients a fixed contract or a guaranteed contract price.   Find one who does.   If his costs exceed the contract, he eats the difference.

    Corner No. 2:   You can use the local building department to prevent costly mistakes during construction.   This is simply not true.   Building departments are tasked with enforcing building codes, NOT providing quality control or cost savings tips to home owners.

    Corner No. 3:   You can save by using licensed and bonded contractors.   This argument was actually made by one author who was writing about how to save money when building a home.   A good general contractor only uses licensed and bonded subs, and even more important, a general contractor gets better rates from his subs than a home owner will get.   This could also amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

    Corner No. 4:   Purchase your own materials by watching for sales and buying dented items.   First, most people don’t want damaged appliances or materials.   Second, buying appliances on sale can be a good thing, but it certainly isn’t going to save a fortune on the construction of the home itself.   In fact, a general contractor who does any volume will be able to purchase materials at much larger discounts as already explained.

    If you’re planning to build your own home, seriously consider the possibility that hiring a good, trustworthy general contractor may actually save you more money than if you tried to build your own home.

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    Sequim Custom HomesLet’s face it, we are in a buyer’s market in Sequim and Port Angeles for existing homes and land, and most people know this. But something many people do not realize is that we are also in a a great market for building a new home. The cost of building a new home is lower than its been in years.

    There are three major reasons the cost of building a new home is at such a low point right now:

    1. The cost of building materials has dropped;
    2. Land prices are lower; and
    3. Subcontractors and General Contractors have lowered their profit margins.

    Premier House Plans magazine cited new figures from the National Association of Home Builders:

    Despite the gloom surrounding the housing landscape at the moment, there are appealing bright sides for saavy investors and homeowners who are considering construction of a new home from house plans.

    First of all, the cost of key home construction materials has declined dramatically–and that rate of decline is slowing. As of the first quarter of 2008, framing lumber is 65% cheaper than it was two years ago, and 15% cheaper than a year ago. Drywall producers report a 36% decline in prices since last year, and a 5% decline since last quarter of 2007.

    While sales of existing homes are down, sales of vacant lots are really down, and so if there ever was a buyer’s market for land, it is now. The inventory is high, and buyers are few and far between. While a developer is not likely to sell a lot for less than his own cost basis, he will shave profit to get some cash flow coming in the door. And with business so slow, of course, contractors are willing to shave profits to get business.

    If there was ever a time to buy a lot and build a new home, that time is now. It’s been said that once a company shows up on the cover of Forbes magazine, the time to buy its stock and profit from its success is long past.   By the time the guy on the street is talking about it, it’s too late.   The same will be true of building your home. By the time everyone agrees that the market is going to recover, and the banking system is getting its equilibrium back, and the mortgage and real estate markets are getting their legs back, interest rates will already be on the rise and lot prices and construction prices will be back to normal. The opportunity is a small window in time, and that time is now.

    [See Sequim and Port Angeles custom home builder Rick Anderson’s website with photos, house plans, and more.]

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    port_angeles_mortgage_ratesSince this is a buyer’s market, it’s not a great time to be selling your home, but if you own a lot, and you are planning to have your home built in the near future, this is a good time to start the process of selecting a builder and planning your home.

    Most people plan to finance the construction and long term mortgage of their home, and this is why it is a good time to get started.   Interest rates are at historical lows, and most experts are saying that interest rates are headed upward in the months ahead.

    At an interest rate just 1.0% above the current rate of 6.52% on a 30 year fixed, your mortgage payment on a $300,000 loan would increase by $200 per month.   You would pay $72,000 more in total interest on your loan than you would at today’s interest rate.   At an interest rate 2.0% above the current rate, your mortgage payment on a $300,000 loan would increase by $400 per month, and you would pay $168,000 more in total interest on your loan than you would at today’s interest rate.

    It’s a good to build your home.   It’s a good time to get a loan to build your home.   Procrastinate, you and it may cost you in the long term.

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  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: Building a Home
  • Strongman Jesse MarundeBuilding a home in Sequim or Port Angeles?   Finding a home builder for your next home is one of the most important decisions you will make as you start this next phase of your life in retirement.   This is part two of a two part series that asks the question, “Does Size Matter?” when it comes to hiring a home builder.

    [This photo was taken by me at the St. Louis National Strongman Contest a number of years ago.   My son, Jesse Marunde, is the entertainer in the center.   Jesse died of a heart attack last year in his Sequim gym.   He was big at 6’5″ and 320 pounds.]

    In part one, we looked at common misconceptions when hiring a builder, and we looked at the pros and cons of hiring a small builder.   Today, we look at hiring a larger home builder.

    A large builder in Pierce or King County would build hundreds of houses each year, but in small towns like ours, a large builder would be someone building perhaps 8 to 30 houses per year.

    I would categorize large builders based on criteria like their business model, their customer service, the quality of materials used, the quality of workmanship (i.e. the quality of their subs), the process by which they quote estimates and final bid prices, their contracts, their warranties, and their integrity.

    Volumes could be written just on these criteria, but this is a blog post, which means it gets down and dirty quick.   The question, the answer.   Let’s get to it.

    Business Model. Large home builders around the country have learned to create a business model that is a money machine.   Now this is America, home of the free and the brave, and we boast about our free enterprise system.   That’s all good.   And there’s nothing wrong, and everything right, about having a corporate goal of making money.   But many builders have taken this to levels unheard of 30 years ago.   Slick advertisements that often border on fraudulent advertising, bait and switch, and lopsided contracts are very common among many large builders.   From the beginning of the first meeting to the walk-through, there are a thousand ways to maximize every dollar of profit to the detriment of the unwary homeowner.

    (more…)

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    The Biggest Mistake New Builders Make

    The biggest single mistake made by the home builder who builds his first home is this: to build a spec home in the highest price range, which is the smallest segment of the buyers’ market.

    Since January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007 this chart shows total home sales in Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington in all price ranges at 2,310. The majority of homes sold were priced below $300,000. Homes priced above $300,000 represent 40% of the entire home buyers’ market.

    Here’s where the mistake is often made. Building a spec home and listing that home at a price above $500,000 means the market for that home is only 9.0% of the entire buyers’ market. The challenge is selling to that 9%, because that 9% is 100% of the market for that home.

    I showed a home recently that was a spec home built by a first time builder and priced at $699,000. Let’s round that off to $700,000. That home only has 3% of the buyers’ market. Wow! That’s a very very small segment of the buyers’ market.

    If you were building a custom home to put on the market as a spec home, would you target 3% of the buyers’ market, or would you first want to know where 60% to 80% of the buyers’ market is?

    There is another challenge in finding the one buyer at this high price range. Buyers at this high price range will want a floor plan that is ideal for them, but the spec home only gives them one choice, a choice they may or may not like. Building a spec home for 3% or 5% of the entire market is a very risky proposition for a builder.

    For the one buyer who falls in love with such a home (assuming one is found within a reasonable period of time, and in this price range a home like this could sit on the market for over a year), their negotiating power is far greater than they might realize, since they may be one in a hundred who find the home suitable in every way. Unfortunately, the builder has poured his heart and money into building a beautiful spec home, so his cost is going to be $175 to $220 per square foot, which brings us back to the buyer. At that price per square foot, a buyer may just choose to purchase a lot and have their perfect dream home built.

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    Building Your Sequim or Port Angeles Home

    Building Your Retirement Home
    (or having a contractor build your home)
    Sequim Real Estate, Port Angeles Real Estate

    You’re moving to Sequim or Port Angeles, and you’re planning on having a contractor build your retirement home. You’ve been planning this for 5 to 7 years, and finally you’ve reached that magic retirement date. You’ve purchased a piece of vacant land in either Sequim or Port Angeles, gone through many checklist items when making the offer so you don’t get caught by a Trap for the Unwary (wet lands, land doesn’t perc or other septic issues, well water contamination, site approval issues, easements and set backs effecting site building permits, environmental contamination (from prior uses or from neighboring properties), access, encroachments, boundary lines, etc.), and your next step is hiring a contractor to build your home. After 20 years of law practice and many years as a Realtor, I have put together a checklist from real life experience, and you can read the full article at:

    10 Due Diligence Steps Before Hiring a Contractor in
    Sequim or Port Angeles

    As always, if you have comments or questions, email me at chuckmarunde@gmail.com. Best of luck, Chuck Marunde, J.D.

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    Search Sequim Blog

    Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.

    Sequim Buyer's Agent (Atty Ret.)
    Founder and Broker of
    Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate dba iRealty Virtual Brokers
    435 W. Bell St. Suite A, Sequim, WA
    (360) 775-5424
    ChuckMarunde@gmail.com

    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.

    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

    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.
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    Sequim Real Estate Agent
    Chuck Marunde Text or Call 360-775-5424