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This election year has substantially slowed down home buying in the Sequim area (including Port Angeles and Port Townsend). A presidential election year typically has a brief negative impact on home buying in retirement areas, and Sequim and Port Townsend are major retirement areas for residents from all over the U.S. But this election year in particular has had a huge impact on home buying. Here is what is happening in this small real estate market this election year.
When we experience major economic effects, like a big slow down in home sales, the cause is rarely one thing. We often find the answer in a combination of contributing factors. Election year is one factor, albeit a major factor, that has caused buyers to postpone their home buying decision in an area like Sequim.
The slowed pace of home sales can be attributed to these factors, and each of them are significant, but combine them, and you have a substantial impact on home sales.
First, this is probably the most tension filled presidential election year in our lifetimes, and it is extremely contentious, and the future of our freedom and the foundation of this nation hinges on the outcome. No matter who you plan to vote for, everyone agrees on the importance of this election year. With so much uncertainty, buyers’ default position is to postpone their home buying plans until after the election, and perhaps after the new year when the dust has settled.
Second, the inventory of homes retirees want in the Sequim area is so low, it is at a crisis level. Buyers are having a hard time finding the home of their dreams, because there are so few in the MLS (multiple listing service). This clearly inhibits home sales.
Third, retirees around the country are worried about our economy and their retirement mutual funds, because there are rumors of rumors of a massive stock market bubble that is about to pop. Who knows whether there is any truth to that, but the concern adds to the uncertainty that people already are feeling.
Fourth, retirees always slow down or postpone their home buying decisions as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
There is good news this election year for home buyers in the Sequim market. You have an advantage if you are coming to look at homes in Sequim between now and the end of the year, because many buyers are staying away. For those who stay away, the home they dreamed of buying will be sold to those who do dare to come to Sequim despite all the uncertainties of life and despite this crazy election year. Wait until spring, and the home you have been watching on the MLS will almost certainly be sold.
The best homes in the best areas are selling now, and there are not very many of them in this current inventory crisis. Use me as a resource to gather information until you come. Email, call, or text. It may be a crazy election year, but I’m still working hard for buyers making their plans to retire in Sequim.
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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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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 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?
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.”
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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