Sequim Real Estate in Sunny Sequim, Washington

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Archive for the ‘Buying Real Estate in Port Angeles and Sequim’ Category

Negotiating in Sequim

Negotiating Price & Terms


Negotiating the purchase of a home is a skill set of its own. Even having bought and sold half a dozen homes in a lifetime while in a career unrelated to real estate will not automatically equip you for all the possible nuances of negotiating.

In four decades in real estate I have seen more mistakes made in negotiating a real estate transaction than I could possibly count. I’ve seen buyers overpay by $200,000. I’ve seen sellers chase a good buyer away. I’ve seen real estate agents give their clients bad advice about the home inspection response and kill the transaction. I’ve seen a buyer make a seller so mad, he refused to sell to that buyer at any price. I’ve seen far too many amateurs going back and forth on price until one of the parties just walks away. (more…)

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This new listing is likely to sell quickly. Why? Five major reasons. First, here’s a brief description of this new listing: Gorgeous country home at end of road and nothing but trees and mountains beyond the house on all sides with a stunning view of Hurricane Ridge. Everything you need is on the main floor with a huge open floor plan and lots of mountain views, hardwood flooring, a wood stove, and an efficient heat pump with forced air electric. Outbuildings for wood storage and a garage/shop or woodshop, plus an attached carport on the house. Extra large bedrooms upstairs and a game room or office/den downstairs.

New Listing

Here are the 5 reasons this home is likely to sell soon:

1.) The inventory for homes like this is about zero. Many retirees have sold their homes in California or Colorado or Texas or Florida, and they are on the hunt for a home in the Sequim and Port Angeles area. As several have said to me, “We need to find a home or we’ll be homeless.” The inventory for nice homes like this is extremely low, like non-existent. Even in a small market like this, on any day of the week, we must have two dozen buyers filtering through the online MLS to find their home, so a new listing is viewed by qualified buyers the first day it appears on the market.

2.) It’s very hard to find the ideal location with a view. Everyone knows that location is everything in real estate, and who doesn’t want a beautiful location with some kind of mountain view or water view, or at least a valley view with fields and grazing animals? A new listing, like this one, with an incredible view from the windows is going to get a lot of attention immediately.

3.) A traditional floor plan with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and 1,800 sq.ft. plus is also hard to find now. In many markets, this kind of traditional open floor plan with a modern kitchen is not hard to find, but it certainly is in this market between $450,000 and $650,000.

4.) A nice neighborhood where the lots are large enough to provide some measure of privacy and room for gardens is in high demand. People generally don’t move to the Northwest to the gorgeous Olympic Peninsula to live on a postage sized lot in a subdivision with houses 15 feet apart where you look out your kitchen window only to see your neighbor (not wearing dentures) in a white T-shirt waiving from her own kitchen window.

A new listing that meets these criteria is likely to get a lot of attention, and if it is priced right, it is likely to get a full price offer right away. 

See This New Listing 3D Virtual Tour

The link for the 3D Interactive Virtual Tour is on this image. You can use your computer mouse (or arrows) to walk through the home and get a very realistic feel for what it would be like to walk through this home yourself. Buyers love these interactive 3D tours, because you’ll know right away if this is a home you need to walk through.

Brand New Listing

See This New Listing

You won’t find another home like this on the market. You can view this home in person by texting or calling Chuck Marunde at 360-775-5424. You can see the full online MLS data sheet at New Listing. Not to put any pressure on you, but I wouldn’t wait too long. I could be wrong, but I think this new listing will sell fairly quickly.

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Buying an Older Home

Buying an older home could be a great idea, especially an older home that was built well and retained its classic architecture. Or you might love an older home that was remodeled and is practically like a brand new home. An older home might be especially appealing because of it’s ideal location and water view or mountain view. But buying an older home does have its own unique challenges, and that’s what this article is about. This is a true story.

The True Condition of an Older Home

Older Home

Buying an Older Home

I represented the buyers on this older home, which was built in 1924 and completely remodeled recently and listed for sale. The owner did a wonderful job remodeling, and the home itself was clearly well built in 1924. It is not only structurally sound, it has no indications of any serious problems with the basement or the foundation or the walls or attic. In the Port Angeles area, houses built in the early 1900s were largely built with locally milled timber, and they were using good hardwood and large beams. So buying this older home made sense because it had such good bones.

Here’s where it got challenging. The home inspector found a long list of items that you would not expect to find in a home that is a total remodel. It appeared to be practically a brand new home. Three windows were defective, although they had been installed as new windows in the remodel. A contractor had started to replace insulation in the crawl space, but didn’t complete the job and left a pile of old insulation in the crawl space. A massive hornets nest was hanging in the crawl space, and while it appeared to be vacant, you would expect that it would have been removed. The attic had the old “vermiculate” insulation from 1924, but that is now recognized as being a potential health hazard, like asbestos. The current owner who did the remodel did not recognize this, and honestly, most people would not, but the home inspector did not miss it.

Where new roof gutters had been installed on the outside of the house, a large hole was not plugged, which would allow birds access to the attic. And there were a number of other small items, but they were items that you would not expect to have to repair if you are buying a home that was “completely remodeled.” How did the owner or contractors miss these dozen or so repairs? I think the simple answer is that many of these were started but not completed. Have you ever known someone who is good at starting projects but has trouble finishing them well? A lot of people have trouble finishing something they start, and a lot of people take short cuts or don’t care about doing the best work that they can do. 

So how did we handle this? The buyer asked me to use the Form 35R (the home inspection response form) to ask the seller to repair most of the items. There was a lot of negotiating and going back and forth. It got a bit contentious when the seller’s glass vendor claimed two of the windows were not defective, although they clearly were. The home inspector stated they were defective and another glass company said they were obviously defective. They came defective from the factory with problems between the glass panes. My buyer insisted they be replaced or that she receive a credit for their replacement. Ultimately, we got through all the repairs, and the seller and the listing agent are to be commended for working with me through all these issues over a period of weeks and being nice and professional. Things could have gotten dicy and were it not for the seller’s willingness to work with us, the transaction might have died. Frankly, many of the issues were we dealing with are unique to an older home.

There wasn’t really any way to proactively head off these issues, but it is important to know how to work through them intelligently and diplomatically. This gorgeous little home just closed a few days ago, and my buyers are so happy! I’m happy for them, especially because Thanksgiving is in two days, and they can celebrate in their new home.

Buying an older home can have its own unique challenges.

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A beautiful home just came on the market, and it’s halfway between Sequim and Port Angeles, but still in the Sequim school district. This home has a Port Angeles address, but it is much closer to Sequim. It is 11 minutes from Costco in Sequim (6.8 miles), but it is 16 minutes from Safeway in downtown Port Angeles (9.3 miles). This beautiful home is what so many retirees are looking for right now, and because of the low inventory in the Sequim MLS, it is hard to find a home like this.

Beautiful Home

Beautiful Home

Here’s the MLS description of this home: “Overlooking lush green fields with a water view on the horizon and located halfway between Sequim and Port Angeles, this is the ideal open floor plan, the perfect modern kitchen, and everything is on the main ground floor. The yard is low maintenance and the garage has a work bench. The laundry room is off the kitchen for convenience. There’s a deck with a stunning view of the fields and Strait where you can grill your steaks and relax on your own little piece of Heaven.” This really is a beautiful home.

Call or email me to see this home. Look at more photos and learn more at: Sequim Beautiful Home.

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Buying a Home Out of Town

Buying a home out of town is something worth thinking about before you arrive in Sequim or Port Angeles or Port Townsend. How far out of town are you willing to live? What if your number one home is 15 minutes from downtown Sequim? What if the home with a water view that stirs your soul is 15 minutes west of Port Angeles? What would you do?

Buying a Home Out of Town

Buying a Home Out of Town and Shopping

Convenience is an important consideration when it comes to buying a home out of town, and the further out you are, the longer the drive to the grocery store, Costco, Home Depot, WalMart, or the pharmacy. I realize I’m saying the obvious, but the reason it is worth thinking about is because some of the most incredible homes are further out on the concentric circles from our urban centers.

Sometimes a home further from town is also on the side of a mountain or high enough to have an extraordinary water view of International waters. That can also mean a steep road or driveway. We don’t get snow very often, and we can go for years without any snow, but snow and ice can happen. This is a consideration for most buyers, but even Bell Hill in Sequim has some incredibly steep roads and driveways.

Buying a Home Out of Town and Price

There is an advantage for buyers who are willing to drive 15 or more minutes to town. Can you guess what that advantage is? If you’re thinking price, you are right. As you get further out of town, price goes down. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Buyers who want to be close to shopping have to pay more for homes in higher demand. Buying a home out of town means lower demand and lower prices. A gorgeous home right in town with a great water view that sells for $750,000 might sell for $625,000 just 18 minutes out of town. That’s a $125,000 difference.

How far would you be willing to drive to save a lot of money? Maybe the only home you really love would mean buying a home out of town? It’s something worth thinking about. Buying a home out of town.


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Stock Market Volatility Dangerous

This stock market volatility is scaring a lot of people, including fund managers. When the Dow is up and down over 400 points on consecutive days, it’s not a good sign for the weeks ahead. The Dow is down already 1,900 points in the first two weeks of 2016. Not a great start for the year. If you have a large retirement account invested in the stock market, riding a market roller coaster is a very uncomfortable feeling. This has already impacted how some people near retirement are thinking about the timing of buying their retirement home, and how much of a retirement home they can afford.

Stock Market Volatility

Stock Market Volatility History

If you look at the history of the stock market, substantial moves are often preceded by stock market volatility over a period of weeks, but even this is not a guaranteed indicator of a market decline. So what is a person to do in the uncertainty?

We are watching oil prices drop to surprising levels, and this has big implications for International markets. The reason Al Jazeera just went out of business in the U.S. a few days ago is because oil prices dropped, and the owner, which is the country of Qatari, cannot afford to subsidize Al Jazeera anymore. The drop in oil prices is causing middle east countries to liquidate sovereign wealth funds, and that means billions of dollars in selling on International markets. Add to that the declining China market, the struggling Japan economy, the unstable middle east, the grave uncertainty in the U.S. economy (and political scene), and people are understandably nervous.

Here’s my pet peeve. In every market decline (if we have one, and I’m not saying we will), Registered Investment Advisers and Fund Managers all say the same thing, “Now is not a time to sell. We always tell our clients that they should invest for the long term. If you look at markets over a 50 year to 80 year time period, stocks go up. In fact, we are advising our clients to buy on the dips. Dollar cost averaging is the key to a long term strategy.” If you’re planning to retire in a couple of years, this kind of advise for the next 80 years is not reassuring. 

Stock Market Volatility and Advisers

Many investment advisers have been saying in the past few days that they expect the market to decline “some more,” so many are admitting they see a decline coming. Despite this, why would they not recommend that you liquidate some of your account? If most advisers told their clients to liquidate some or all of their stock holdings, the markets would crash, and we can’t have that, can we? I suspect many investment brokerages prohibit their advisers from advising clients to liquidate, because of the market chaos that could create. Here’s the problem with that. You personally get sacrificed for the sake of the market as a whole! Even if your adviser believes it would be in your best interest to liquidate some or all of your account because he sees stock market volatility as a sign of a major decline coming, he will not tell you. So you are sacrificed for the sake of the many. 

In past market declines I have heard from people who watched their retirement accounts lose 30% or 50% or even 70% in one case. All the way down their advisers kept saying don’t sell. That’s easy for them, because fund managers get paid 1.25% of all funds under management, so they make money no matter what, as long as you don’t pull your money out of the market. Of course, selling would incur taxes and penalties for you, and that’s a big concern. But for all those clients who lost 50% of their retirement account in a market decline, how many would have gladly paid the taxes and penalties and still have been way ahead?

Stock market volatility is a warning sign. Of what . . . remains to be seen, but it is a red flag, and ought to cause everyone who has a lot of money in the stock market to pause and seriously think about where their money is safe. I would be cautious about taking advise from a man or woman (or who has a fund manager) who makes money based on “funds under management.” They have no motivation to see you liquidate, and every motivation to see you stay in the market even if you lose your life’s savings. I agree with them when they say that you should not panic. On the other hand, if panic means saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars in a declining market, maybe a little panic thinking can motivate a person to do something that turns out right.

Is liquidating some of your retirement account and investing it in a retirement home a good idea? I’ll leave that up to you, but this is a valid question for your perusal. At the least, stock market volatility should make you rethink what your adviser is telling you to do.

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation to either sell or buy stocks, bond, or any other investment. Talk to your expert for advise. While I was an attorney and Registered Investment Adviser at one time, I am not an adviser now, nor do I give investment advise. But stock market volatility of this kind can make anyone nervous.

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Due Diligence and Buying Your Home

Doing your due diligence when you buy a home is extremely important, or you could end up with some big mistakes, like paying too much for a home, or discovering problems you should have discovered before you closed. I’ve written many articles on this real estate blog about due diligence on every aspect of buying. Here are some links to those articles.

Due Diligence

Due Diligence Issues

There are many issues you need to know about when you buy land or a home, but you are not likely to have your own checklists. I do. These are not checklists that other Realtors will be able to offer you (unless they copy my checklists), because I developed these due diligence checklists as a real estate attorney and Realtor over the past three decades. You should do your due diligence when you buy property, but I don’t expect you to become an expert by using these checklists. In fact, having a checklists is helpful, but you also must know how to use the checklists to do your due diligence properly.

Due Diligence Checklists

Land Due Diligence Checklist

Home Inspection Due Diligence

Mold and Mildew Due Diligence

Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Due Diligence

Real Estate Agent Interview Checklist

Sequim Real Estate Buyer Resources 

This last link will lead you to several powerful resources, including online maps and documents on Sequim properties, using an online MLS, Sequim real estate books for buyers, buying foreclosures, how to search real estate issues, and mobile apps for buyers. No real estate brokerage on the entire Olympic Peninsula offers so many free resources to buyers. Enjoy them, and if we can answer questions, simply email for any due diligence questions.

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Buy a Home You Can Sell

Would you buy a home if you knew you could never sell it? Probably not, but people do it all the time. Of course, they don’t buy their retirement home saying to themselves, “We will never be able to sell this home,” but maybe they should be asking, “Is this Sequim home sellable some day?” [This first paragraph is from Chuck Marunde’s book, Sequim Real Estate: A Buyer’s Guide.]

Buy a Home

Buy a Home You Love

There are several homes on the market that haven’t sold yet, even though they’ve been on the market for a very long time, i.e. years. That doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with them. It may be a unique and expensive home that is waiting for the right qualified buyer. But there are homes that do have a design or location or features that turn buyers off, and some sellers have given up and taken their homes off the market altogether. They did not buy a home they could sell. When building a home, one should also think about sellability.

Buy a Home Others Will Love

Perhaps a couple of examples will help make the point. I know a man who decided to build a fine custom home and sell it. It was his first home as a home builder. He wanted to build a custom quality home that would be impressive and beautiful. So he built a three story luxury home with the garage on the first level. The stairs to the second floor led to the kitchen and living room, and the master bedroom was on the third floor. The laundry room was on the first level, and there was no elevator. The home was initially priced above $600,000. No buyer wanted it. Can you imagine carrying laundry from the third floor down the stairs to the first floor and then back up? And groceries had to be carried up the stairs from the garage to the kitchen. This gentleman had a home that could not be sold.

Another couple built a home that was designed for the wife, who had hip problems. She wanted to be able to take no more than one step to reach the opposite counter in the kitchen. The result was a very narrow galley kitchen no one wanted years later when they needed to sell. 

But there are many other examples. Weird floor plans and driveways so steep you are afraid to use them once. And generally people don’t move to a rural area like Sequim because they always wanted a modern contemporary home. Good luck selling one of those. Whether a person decides to build a home or buy a home, it is really important, especially when you are old, to be able to sell your home to another younger buyer.

When you are ready to buy a home, always think about selling that home. Buy a home you can sell.

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Buyer’s Checklist for Buying a Sequim Home

Would you like a Buyer’s Checklist for buying your Sequim home?  You may already know that this Sequim real estate blog answers the questions that buyers have been asking for 20 years, and with all the questions that buyers ask, it finally hit me that some of the questions buyers ask could be compiled into one sweet concise Buyer’s Checklist.  You can download this 12-Point Buyer’s Checklist and print it out for your own use. This Buyer’s Checklist will definitely help you organize your home search and the entire process of buying a home. Another way of saying this is that it will help eliminate chaos and confusion in the process for you and for everyone assisting you.

Buyer's Checklist

Sample of Buyer’s Checklist

1. The very first step is deciding where you want to live. For most people this is a matter of starting with the region or state, then drilling down to the county or city. Before you spend a lot of time looking at homes, first determine if Sequim is for you. Maybe you prefer Port Angeles or Port Townsend, or some other state, but if you don’t know where you want to live, this creates chaos for you and everyone trying to help you.

2. What kind of view would you prefer from your living room or dining room windows? Water, mountains, fields, valleys, trees?

This 12-Point Buyer’s Checklist includes important items that every buyer will want to consider.  Just being better organized in how you search for your home will save stress and time. Ultimately, this list could also end up saving money when you purchase your home.

Download Buyer’s Checklist

If you have any questions about any of the items on this checklist, don’t hesitate to email or call.  I’m here to help you gather information, refine your home search, save your favorites (your short list for viewing when you come), and to make your time in Sequim and Port Angeles enjoyable and fruitful. Download your Sequim Buyer’s Checklist now.

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Few First Time Home Buyers in Sequim

There are very few first time home buyers in Sequim. The vast majority of buyers are retirees in their 50’s and 60’s, and they are rarely first time home buyers. This is an interesting demographic reality. Why doesn’t Sequim have a lot of first time home buyers?

First Time Home Buyers

                                       Courtesy Freedigitalphotos by Stockimages

First Time Home Buyers are Rare

The Sequim economy does not have an industrial or manufacturing base. We don’t have a major tourist industry, although tourism is important. Washington’s high tech companies are based in Redmond and around Bellevue, not Sequim. Sequim does not have destination resorts or convention centers. There are very few jobs in Sequim for young workers. And the jobs we do have for young workers, like teaching and government services, tend to be filled with people who do not plan to leave Sequim, so there is very little turnover of existing jobs. What does all this mean? For the real estate market, it means we simply do not have first time home buyers in any significant numbers.

First Time Home Buyers

This might seem like a weakness in our real estate market, but it is actually a strength. Fluctuations in the national economy do not effect Sequim as much. Retirees have pensions and retirement programs that shield them and Sequim from economic downturns. While young couples can and do lose their jobs in recessions or downturns, and their homes can go into foreclosure, retirees in Sequim have stable incomes that do not suddenly end. We have few foreclosures in the area, and homeowners have the financial wherewithal to maintain their homes and yards no matter what the economy is doing. 

In many cities, like Tacoma or Seattle, first time home buyers are an important driving force, but they are not in Sequim. 

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Remodeling Homes

Remodeling homes in Sequim and Port Angeles is making a small comeback. With the inventory of homes shrinking as retirees buy up the best homes in the best areas, and since home builders have not been building over the past seven year recession, older homes that were unattractive before are becoming good targets for remodeling and selling. Remodeling homes once again makes financial sense, like this home:

Remodeling Homes

Remodeling Homes

There are many older homes built in the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s that have nice traditional floor plans all on one level, but desperately need updating to compete with buyer preferences today. Many of these homes look so outdated and need so much work, they haven’t been viable options for many buyers who prefer “move-in ready,” or at least not major work. Unfortunately, many of these older homes that have not appealed to retirees happen to be on incredible lots with wonderful water views or mountain views. 

Remodeling Homes Offers Opportunities for Buyers

Fortunately for buyers, remodeling homes in Sequim is making a small comeback. Homes like this one in the photo are coming back to life, and at the right price are very attractive. A word of caution is apropos here. If an investor buys and remodels a home, but he cuts corners and doesn’t do a good job on the construction behind the walls and in the attic and in the crawl space, and if he uses cheap materials, the home may look good, but it may have problems. You could overpay for a home that looks good on the surface.

The home in this photo is getting a quality remodel, and it will be gorgeous when it is complete. It will be priced around $245,000. Remodeling homes is making a small comeback in Sequim, and this could open up new opportunities for the discerning buyer.

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This article is about how to find a home, or how not to find a home. If you are a buyer scouring Internet sites to look at homes in Sequim, and if you are smart and doing your due diligence on values and other data available on a home, let me share some inside Sequim information that can save you a lot of time.  More importantly, I want to save you from using sites with grossly insufficient data.

How to Find a Home

How to Find a Home Plan

Elsewhere on this blog, I write about how to find a home, what free sites to use, what free software to use, how to find accurate information on a Sequim home, how to determine fair market value, how to compare prices, and I share key links to help you.

But we all love to do our own thing, and it’s human nature to try to re-invent the wheel.  I get that.  That’s me too.  People asked me a lot about certain websites, like Zillow and Trulia. (more…)

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The Closing Date

The closing date of your purchase is the date you will will own your new home. The statutory warranty deed is recorded, and if you get a loan, the deed of trust is recorded. Finally, after months of searching, after a couple of years of planning your retirement and your move, after listing and selling your other home, you will get to move into your Sequim home on the closing date. Planning the closing date takes some diligence to coordinate your transition, but there is a contractual aspect of handling the closing date that is important if you are to have a smooth closing and transition. That’s what I want to share in this article.

The Closing Date

The Closing Date

When you draft an offer with your buyer’s agent, you will include the closing date that works best for you. Coordinating the sale or closing of your other home, hiring movers and making the transition is no small challenge. When your buyer’s agent submits your offer, you can only hope that your preferred closing date will also work for the seller. The seller also has to plan a move, and maybe the seller is buying another home, too. But once you’ve both agreed on a closing date, here’s a potential issue that could create a lot of stress for a lot of people–changing the closing date.

Changing The Closing Date

From a buyer’s perspective, changing the closing date because of a change of plans does not sound complicated. But the seller will have to reschedule their own purchase of another home, the hiring their movers, and coordinating all the other details associated with their move. A change in a closing date requires an addendum signed by the buyer and seller, but it also means the lender and the escrow company will have to make adjustments and redraft their own paperwork. Many dates associated with a closing (the inspections and other due diligence items) are all tied to the date of mutual acceptance. Changing a closing date will have a ripple effect on a number of key dates, and it will require the coordination of many parties involved in your transaction. If the seller is buying another home, a change in their closing date with you might necessitate a change in the closing date of that other transaction, which involves all of those parties.

Changing the closing date is not something that should be done lightly, and if at all possible, it should be left alone once you have mutual acceptance.

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How To Vest Title When Buying a Home

When you buy a home, you vest title based on the names you put on the purchase and sale agreement. This means that once you close the purchase, the real estate records will show your names according to your preference. But here’s the question, does it make any difference how you vest title? Oh yes, it certainly does.

Vest Title

How Vest Title on Real Estate

Washington state is a community property state. That means that if you buy a home here as husband and wife, i.e. “John and Mary Doe, husband and wife,” you will own it together, and the survivor of the two will own the property entirely. In other words, this is the same as owning property “as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.” Whoever survives gets the property. This is how most married couples purchase their property, and you can vest title the same way even if you are not married. But are there other ways to vest title?

Vest Title – Estate Planning

How you vest title affects your estate planning. If you have children from a prior marriage, you may want to have a Last Will and Testament drafted that makes it clear that some portion of your half of the estate goes to your children (or grandchildren) and the remainder goes to your surviving spouse. You can also create a Revocable Living Trust, which will help your spouse and heirs avoid probate, attorney’s fees, and long delays. I highly recommend the RLT or revocable living trust. If you have a very large estate in the tens of millions, you may want to do some exotic estate planning to reduce inheritance taxes for your heirs and for asset protection purposes. That could involve irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and so on. [Read more about trusts on my estate planning site at Estate Planning.]

If you are going to get a loan to purchase your home in Sequim, you will have to purchase (vest title) in your personal names, because the lender will require that, but subsequent to closing, you can execute a quit claim deed and transfer the home into your trust.

Lastly, you might find value in knowing what the two biggest mistakes retirees make on this subject of how to vest title. The first is not to do any estate planning at all. In the typical scenario, a couple retire to Sequim in their 50’s or 60’s, and 20 plus years later the husband passes away leaving his widow to fend for herself with no estate planning, poor financial planning for his widow, and a home that cannot easily be sold but is way to much maintenance for an elderly widow. This happens all the time in Sequim, and it is totally preventable.

The second mistake commonly made is to marry a second time later in life and not have any estate planning in place. That normally means the adult children from the first marriage will get nothing, and the new spouse who came late in life and may have been married only a few years, will get everything to the exclusion of all the children. That is not usually what people would intend to do. But with no estate planning at all, and depending on how you vest title to your real estate, it can and does happen. As your Realtor and buyer’s agent, I can advise you on how to cross your T’s and dot your I’s when you buy and vest title.

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The Secret to Buying a Home

Is there a secret to buying a home?  I think there is.  It’s something that I have been observing in buyers for over three decades, and I realized that the conversations that I have been having with hundreds of buyers have included a very important element.  I’m not suggesting there is only one secret or a single key or magic wand that will answer all your questions about which home to buy.  Life is not that simple, and neither is buying real estate, but there is one thing that can give you the experience of hundreds of buyers just like you, and I thought I would share that today.

Secret to Buying a Home

The Secret to Buying a Home

I’m assuming that you’ve searched online and looked at many homes and as you searched, you narrowed your search parameters so you would get a better list of potential homes based on your personal preferences.  You should narrow the list to a short list of 6 to 12 homes.  Once you have your short list of homes to view, how do you filter and sort those mentally and emotionally so you can narrow that down to “The One?”  I think you’ll find this to be a valid secret to buying a home.

The Secret to Buying a Home is the Right Conversation

Here it is.  You and your spouse should be discussing the homes with your real estate agent as you look at the homes. You should discuss the good features, the best features, and the negatives or the less attractive features of the homes. At the end of the day, you should have a conversation about all of the homes, review again the positives and negatives, but here is where the value is in this conversation, or what I’m calling the secret to buying a home. Of course you want to talk about the exciting features, the positives, but it’s not the positive features that help you filter your list from several homes to only one.  The positive features keep homes on the list.  It’s the negative features that will help you filter and eliminate the homes you should not buy.   (more…)

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What is The Home Buying Process?

The home buying process can be confusing if you haven’t bought several homes, and even if you have, the home buying process will vary in different parts of the country.  In the Sequim and Port Angeles area, we have issues of concern that are unique to our area.  This real estate blog has hundreds of articles explaining the home buying process from A to Z, but I thought it might be helpful to have a short summary of the basic process for buyers.

The Home Buying Process

Home Buying Process

Home Buying Process Made Easy

Here is my short summary of the home buying process:

  1. Search for your home online with Sequim MLS;
  2. Hire your Sequim Buyer’s Agent (or Port Angeles Buyer’s Agent);
  3. Hire your mortgage broker;
  4. After you’ve found the perfect home, have your agent draft the offer;
  5. When you and the sellers agree on the price and all terms, you have mutual acceptance;
  6. Your agent will take a copy of the agreement with your earnest money check to escrow;
  7. Your agent will give your mortgage broker a copy of the agreement, and you start the loan application process;
  8. Your agent will schedule the home inspection;
  9. Your agent will schedule the well inspection (water flow test and quality test for bacteria and nitrates);
  10. The seller is responsible for the septic inspection, but have your agent go over the report with you to see if repairs are needed or if the tank needs pumping;
  11. Your agent should explain the preliminary title report and attached recorded documents, including the CC&Rs for restrictions on your property; and
  12. Your agent will help you address the many challenges that will come up while your transaction is pending. Some can kill a transaction, and this list alone can be quite long, but an experienced agent will help you resolve even the most complex scenarios.

The Guided Home Buying Process

Frankly, not all buyer’s agents actually do all these things for buyers.  In fact, few agents do all of these well for buyers. Many agents tell their clients some of these are not their responsibility.  So step number 2 is kind of important, isn’t it? You can read more about each of these steps by simply reading the many articles on this real estate blog (search by phrases), but now you know all about the home buying process in Sequim and Port Angeles.

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Buying a Home From A Bankruptcy Trustee

Buying a home from a bankruptcy trustee is complicated.  If a homeowner files bankruptcy, all assets owned by the homeowner are controlled by the bankruptcy trustee, and a home cannot be sold without the trustee’s approval.

Buying a Home From a Bankruptcy Trustee

The homeowner looses control of selling the home and the process of selling the home once he files for bankruptcy.  The process of buying a home from a bankruptcy trustee is governed by Federal law, and the whole process is defined by the trustee, not by the homeowner and the buyer.

Buying a Home From A Bankruptcy Trustee

The Price of Buying a Home From a Bankruptcy Trustee

The trustee can approve or disapprove the selling price.  The trustee can set a time months into the future and say that he will accept all offers received up to that date, and then he will decide which offer is the best one.  And get ready for this.  The trustee can convert the transaction from a regular sale into an auction where he tells everyone who makes an offer what the other offers are, forcing all buyers to either bid higher or drop out.  The homeowner selling the home completely loses control of his home.  That is because the trustee’s loyalty is to the creditors, not the homeowner and not buyers.  (more…)

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Sequim Roofing Repairs for Buyers

Sequim roofing repairs are often needed when buying a home, but buyers face a potential dilemma on this issue.  Once you and the seller are done negotiating the price, and you have a firm contract (mutual acceptance), you’ll want to hire a home inspector during your due diligence period.  What if the roof needs to be replaced at a cost of $14,000?  Who will pay for that–you as the buyer or the seller?

Sequim Roofing Repairs for Buyers

Sequim Roofing

A home inspector cannot tell you if the roof needs repair.  His liability insurance carrier prohibits him from making specific recommendations or drawing ultimate conclusions about things like roofing, the foundation, the heating system, and so on.  So if he thinks the roof might need repair or replacement, he will recommend you bring in a roofing contractor to tell you.

Sequim Roofing Inspections

Here’s the challenge.  There are roofing contractors who will tell you the roof needs to be totally replaced even if the roof has many years left.  They make their living replacing roofs, not giving free advise.  But this kind of advice can literally kill your real estate transaction, because if you as a buyer present an estimate for a Sequim roofing job in the amount of $18,000 to the seller and ask him to reduce the price or give you a credit, the seller is likely to freak.  In this market the seller may have already reduced his price a couple of times over the past year, and then he agreed to a further reduction in the negotiations with you, so he already feels he is below what he is entitled to. He may be wrong, of course, but the point is he is not going to buy you a new roof at this late stage in the negotiations.  But what if the roof really did not need to be replaced?

Sequim Roofing Solutions

An honest professional opinion on a Sequim roofing job is absolutely critical to the successful negotiation of your purchase. If the roof really has 10 years of life left, you don’t need to get into a knock-down-and-drag-out fight with the seller and risk losing the home.  If the roof has 5 years left, perhaps you just replace it in 5 years, because you already negotiated a very good price on the home.  I’ve personally interviewed a number of Sequim roofing contractors and I know their work.  When I act as a buyer’s agent, I help my clients work through any Sequim roofing issues, and when appropriate, we can negotiate a partial reduction in the price.  But that is a delicate issue with a seller, and it takes some negotiating finesse to resolve serious Sequim roofing issues.

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When Do I Make An Offer on a Home?

When should you make an offer on a home?  If you have seen a home and you would love to own it, but you are struggling with the timing of when to make the offer, or you are struggling with the listing price, which you feel is too high, you need to know how to approach this issue or you could lose the property to a buyer with a more experience buyer’s agent.  The property in the photo below just sold for $250,000 after being listed in the MLS for $399,000 for a long time.

When to Make an Offer on The Perfect Property

When to Make an Offer

When to Make an Offer – Timing

We’re in a real estate recession, and everyone knows it’s a buyer’s market, right?  We are in a recession, but it’s not a buyer’s market for the best homes.  It’s a buyer’s market for all the homes no one wants, but not for the ideal homes that the vast majority of retirees want.   (more…)

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Contingencies When Buying a Home

Contingencies are an important part of buying a home in Sequim or Port Angeles. In fact, once you arrive at mutual acceptance on the price, that just completes the first phase of your negotiations. Completing a home inspection, a septic inspection, a well inspection, and perhaps follow-up inspections will lead to the second phase of negotiations if there are items to be repaired or if major problems are discovered that were not previously revealed.  How you handle inspections and negotiate with the seller in this second phase could make or break your deal.

Contingencies Must be Identified


Contingencies Without Ambiguities

It is critical for your own protection as a buyer that the language used to describe the contingencies (and the request for repairs or a credit) be articulated without ambiguities.  The last thing you need is to get into a legal dispute over what was intended, and if you leave any ambiguities, you could lose your transaction in a dispute.  Notice how clean and concise and without ambiguities the language is in this Notice to the Seller.  There must be only one way to interpret every single sentence, so there will be absolutely no possibility that there could be a misinterpretation.  This language does exactly that.

Attached as Exhibit 1 is a copy of the Home Inspection Report.  Attached as Exhibit 2 is a list of the issues of primary concern to Buyers.  Attached as Exhibits 3 and 4 are two bids for window replacement in the Sun Room.  Attached as Exhibits 5 and 6 are the well report and the estimate to replace the well pump and repair the water softener. Buyers request that Seller address all items on Exhibit 2 to Buyer’s satisfaction, or in the alternative that Seller credit Buyers $3,000 at closing, which is less than the actual repair costs of all items in the Inspection Reports.

Contingencies Discussed in This Video

Contingencies can finalize your home purchase and bless you with a pleasant and exciting experience you will remember for the rest of your life. But if not handled correctly with great attention to detail and with the experience to draft legal clauses with precision, you could end up in trouble or find out after closing that you have some huge repair bills you did not anticipate.  Handling contingencies is just as important as reaching mutual acceptance on the price in the first place.

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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
125 Olympic Ranch Ln, Sequim, WA
(360) 775-5424

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

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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Chuck Marunde Text or Call 360-775-5424