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Election Year Slows Home Buying

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

Election Year

Election Year and Home Buying

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election Year Good News

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

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

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  • Digital Signatures on Real Estate Documents

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

    Digital Signatures

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

    Digital Signatures in Real Estate

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

    Digital Signatures – No Printing – No Emailing

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

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  • Architectural Chaos

    There is such as thing as architectural chaos. It’s hard to define, but I’m reminded of how Justice Stewart Potter described pornography in a 1964 Supreme Court case. He famously said, “I know it when I see it.” That’s how architectural chaos is. It would be virtually impossible to define, but I definitely know it when I see it.

    Architectural Chaos

    Architectural Chaos

    I showed three homes yesterday to a couple who are very excited about moving to the Sequim area, and each of the three homes was unique and substantially different than the others. The first home was nice and fairly traditional, but as we walked through the home, nothing happened. In other words, it wasn’t emotionally thrilling, exciting, or moving. It was just a floor plan. Nothing weird, but nothing particularly noteworthy. 

    The second home we walked through was a delight from the moment we walked in the front door. There was no architectural chaos in this home. This was a home built in the ’70s, but the floor plan was especially pleasing. It was a little different than the traditional living room, dining room, kitchen combo, but it was somehow very pleasing on a deep emotional level. The kitchen and dining room had been remodeled nicely, and everything seemed to flow. This is what really wise architects do. A great architect creates a floor plan that flows and is pleasing to the emotions and the subconscious. On paper, the average person cannot tell the difference, but when you walk through a home with architectural chaos, your spirit will know it immediately. You may not be able to define it, but when you see it, you’ll know it.

    Architectural Chaos Not Limited to Older Homes

    The third home we viewed was a modern home, probably 40 years newer than the second home, and it was built with excellent materials and workmanship. But . . . this home instantly sent messages of architectural chaos to me and my clients. It was subconscious at first, but then as we walked around the home and discussed its features, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we began to recognize the architectural chaos we were feeling deep inside.

    A good architect will not create architectural chaos, but clients often have an idea they will insist an architect put to paper. What’s an architect to do if the client insists on a certain floor plan if the client is the boss and the client is signing the checks? 

    This home had a combination of big archways Spanish style adjacent to contemporary obtuse angles and something that appeared to be a combination of several architectural styles. The result was architectural chaos that you could feel, but not necessarily describe. No wonder this home had been on the market for a long time. While no one probably understood why this home had not sold for a long time in a very hot market when almost everything was selling, I believe the reason had more to do with architectural chaos than anything else.

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    What if a Buyer and Seller Talk to Each Other?

    What if a buyer and seller talk directly without their Realtors involved as intermediaries? This can happen, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes before closing a buyer and a seller have an occasion to meet each other and talk. What are the pros and cons of a buyer and seller talking to each other?

    Buyer and Seller

    Buyer and Seller Talking! OMG!

    Most Realtors get paranoid at the very thought of a buyer and seller talking to each other. Realtors want to “control” their clients, because they fear their clients will say something wrong. There are many stories about the seller who says to the buyer, “Since we got rid of the termites, we haven’t had any issues.”

    Buyer and Seller and Ethics

    There is an ethics issue for Realtors. A Realtor cannot communicate with the other Realtor’s client directly or indirectly. That’s why a seller should communicate through his listing agent, and the buyer should communicate through his buyer’s agent. But the clients themselves are not subject to the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, so if they talked to each other, they would not be in violation.

    As a general rule it certainly is not a good idea for a buyer and seller to talk directly with each other during negotiations. But I have had buyers who did talk to a seller to get instructions on how to operate an irrigation system.  And frankly, if buyers and sellers have to go through their Realtors just to say, “Hello,” or something else that does not effect the transaction, especially when the buyer and seller get along very well, a Realtor would be hard pressed to stifle the clients when it would just be rude and offensive.

    I believe there’s a bigger danger. If a Realtor does not communicate well with their own client, and they are making poor decisions on behalf of their client without telling their own client what is really going on, the Realtor can be the cause of a transaction dying.

    Good communications between the buyer and seller are important, and that also means that both Realtors need to be good communicators, too.

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    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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