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Winning with Competing Offers

Competing offers on a listing do occasionally come in on the same day, and I’ve written about multiple offers, but one of my clients reminded me that sometimes it is about more than just the price. This is a true story about two offers on the same day at the same price and why the seller picked my client’s offer to seal the deal.

Competing Offers

Competing Offers a Realty

Larry and Shirley won the competing offers contest. Larry reminded me of this in his email yesterday:
 
There were 2 offers on this house at the same price, on the same day. I asked the seller why he chose our offer. It was not any contigencies that the other buyer or we requested. Neither requested any. It was our plans for the house versus the other offerer’s plan. The other buyer was not moving in right away and planned to rent the house out for a year or two. We planned not rent and move in ASAP. The seller didn’t think “renters” were the best idea, considering the neighborhood. So the seller accepted our offer.

Winning with Competing Offers

It’s not hard to understand how one offer like this would win when there are competing offers. Sellers have an emotional investment in their homes. This is especially true for the seller who designed their home and had a contractor build it to their exact specifications. They lived in their dream home, and they loved it during that phase of their life. So selling their home when there are competing offers will come down to more than price. How a buyer intends to use their home is a consideration. Larry and Shirley fell in love with the home they wanted to buy, and the seller learned that they were going to live there and make it their retirement home. All other things being equal, that beat any competing offers at the same price when others planned to rent the house for a while.

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  • Bidding Wars for Homes?

    Bidding wars for homes began in the Bay area in California about two years ago and in the Seattle area about a year ago. Bidding wars hit the Sequim area about six months ago, although with a different flavor than in the metropolitan areas.

    Bidding Wars

    Bidding Wars Hit Sequim

    Supply and demand in housing determines prices, and when the inventory gets so low that buyers are competing to buy a limited number of homes, prices start to rise until we reach a crescendo of activity resulting in bidding wars.

    The inventory is low in Sequim, and there are more buyers than available homes. But I need to qualify the phrase bidding wars here, because there still are homes that have been on the market for a long time and so it is not a seller’s market for all homeowners. And there are homes that are selling, but there is no bidding on those homes. Bidding wars are a reality for a small percentage of Sequim homes.

    Bidding Wars on Popular Homes

    Bidding wars only happen on what retirees would consider the ideal home in the ideal location on a beautiful lot, and the listing price is at least a very reasonable fair market value. When that home shows up on the market, it can get more than one offer. Bidding wars usually happen when a listing is underpriced and buyers who have been searching for a while know when a nice home is underpriced. They pounce on it. I’ve sold several homes sight unseen for buyers who are out of state and can’t get back to Sequim immediately.

    There are not very many of these ideal homes available on the market, and that’s where supply and demand creates a sense of urgency on the part of buyers. I have a couple of recommendations on how to approach this market.

    First, you need to set up email alerts for new listings that fit your parameters, or at least watch the MLS daily for new listings. Many real estate MLS sites or syndicated sites do not have accurate data, so you need a Sequim MLS site that is 100% accurate. That site is Sequim-Homes.com or Sequim4Sale.com. Either domain takes you to the same Sequim MLS site.

    Second, when you find a new home in the MLS that looks good, you need to have a Sequim Buyer’s agent who will go out immediately and preview the home for you if you are not here and cannot get here immediately. And thirdly, you need a buyer’s agent who knows exactly how to draft an offer in this competitive market and has the experience to advise you if the home is one that could be the subject of this article–bidding wars. You don’t want to pay too much, but you need to pay enough if you are going to beat out other potential buyers.

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  • Real Estate Prices and Why Sellers Struggle

    Real estate prices are working their way back up slowly in many areas of the country, including Sequim and Port Angeles, and more rapidly in other hot markets (like some southern California markets). In areas like Sequim where real estate prices have not leaped upward, sellers are still struggling with listing prices and selling prices. This article is not about the obvious. For example, sellers in a recession always want more than they can get and they lament how much they are losing on their home. We all get that, and that is the obvious. The less obvious is how sellers negotiate when they’ve reached their threshold of pain.

    real estate prices

    Negotiating Real Estate Prices

    Let’s take a broad brush and paint a typical scenario for sellers who listed their home with a Realtor during this recession. The original listing price was almost always a little above what the market would bear. In other words, the listing price was somewhat above fair market value in the market at the time they listed. There are two major reasons the listing price is so often above the selling value. First, some sellers don’t ask their Realtor–they tell their Realtor how much the listing price will be. Second and more often, Realtors are under tremendous pressure to outbid other Realtors for the highest listing price just to get the listing. (more…)

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    Sellers Frustrated With Listing Homes

    Many sellers are frustrated with the process of listing homes and marketing and working with listing agents. The process of searching for a home and buying one is quite different for buyers. Buyers are using the Internet to search the MLS online, and buyers are researching information about Sequim and Port Angeles, and they are doing their due diligence on agents before they hire one. But the world for sellers is totally different, and many sellers have been and are very disappointed with the entire process of listing homes. This is worth knowing if you are a buyer. Let me explain why sellers are frustrated and why some are angry.

    Listing Homes

    Listing Homes Confusing

    Listing homes and marketing homes has changed dramatically as the world has changed. Print media and many traditional advertising techniques no longer are effective to connect with qualified buyers. Even big expensive buildings and franchise names no longer draw clients like a magnet. Consumer preferences have changed just as the Internet has set consumers free to do their own research without committing to an agent from the beginning. Buyers know all this, but the vast majority of sellers don’t connect the dots to listing homes and marketing homes, especially their own home.

    Listing Homes – The Process

    The rule for decades in the real estate industry taught by many at seminars is simple. They love to say that the key to success for a real estate agent is “listings, listings, and more listings.” I first heard this mantra 37 years ago when I was licensed in Fairbanks, Alaska. I still remember what our seminar teacher, who was a very successful broker from Denver, told us. “I was in Hawaii last week suntanning on the beach, and three of my listings sold. You can make money with listings even when you are on vacation. Folks, I’m telling you the name of the game is listings, listings, listings.” (more…)

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  • Is The Listing Price Fair?

    Clients often asked me if a listing price is fair.  If you’re a buyer from out of town and scouring the Sequim MLS online, you will come to a home that looks like it has a lot of potential, but you’ll be wondering if the listing price is fair market value, wondering how much would you offer if you do write an offer.  There’s a lot to that discussion, but here’s a synopsis of the kind of analysis I do with my clients, and this can help you analyze a listing price.  The following is an email to a client who asked me about a listing price.  I’ve disguised the property addresses and the prices (which will change the math a little) to protect the innocent.

    Listing Price

    Question on Listing Price

    You asked how much I think this home is worth in this market.  Good question.  It’s listed now at $438,000.  I’ve shown several homes in this neighborhood over the past several years, and I’ve watched which ones have sold and for how much.  So I can walk through this home at XX Street and picture exactly what every room looks like and compare it to the others.  Here are a few thoughts about value.

    Listing Price v. Replacement Cost

    The first numbers I like to look at are the cost of buying this lot today, doing the excavation, and getting a well and septic connection, and building the house.  This is a medium custom quality home, and the cost here of building a home like this averages $125 per square foot.  With 2,217 sq. ft., that totals $403,000 ($278,000 for the house construction, $100,000 for today’s price for an acre in this location, and about $25,000 for the rest).  The original owners built this home near the peak of the market in 2004.  That’s unfortunate for them, because they would most likely have paid a lot more for the land at the peak of the market, perhaps $150,000.  They also might have paid a premium to build the house, depending on who their builder was.  But based on today’s values and costs, I would estimate the replacement cost of this home at about $400,000.  That’s very realistic.

    Listing Price v. Comps

    The next numbers I like to look at are comparables.  I’ll just use one comparable for this example, but it is probably the best most accurate comp anyway.  It is a few houses down the same street on the opposite side.  It is also a custom home, and on the same size lot, and the home was also built in 2004.  I showed this home several times, and it is now sold.  It is 2,290 square feet (compared to 2,217).  It was originally listed for $424,700, and sold for $392,450. 

    Here’s how I compare the two.  The home that sold at XX Street is very comparable in every way.  It sold for $170 per square foot.  The home at XXX Street has a listing price of $198 per square foot.  Based on a sales price of $170 per square foot times 2,217 sq. ft., the home at XXX Street would be worth $378,000.  This is a very solid number.  We don’t normally have such good comps to use as we do in this case.  It is somewhat below the figure I calculated for replacement value, which also is consistent with the fact that homes are selling in this market for less than the cost of construction today.

    I’m confident that $378,000 is a reasonable price for this home, although it would probably cost close to $400,000 or more to replace this home today.

    It is possible the sellers have a large loan, and their loan plus their selling costs might prohibit them from selling it for $378,000.  Of course, we won’t know how much they would sell it for until we try to negotiate a lower price than their listing price. 

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  • Real Estate Prices – What is a Fair Price?

    Buyers ask me about real estate prices and the question is, “What is a fair price in this market?”  As I show homes to retirees from outside the Sequim area, the concern they have when they find the ideal home is how much to offer.  They don’t want to pay more than they have to, but they also don’t want to write an unreasonably low ball offer that is a waste of time and seriously offends the seller.

    Real Estate Prices

    Real Estate Prices – Order Out of Chaos

    The first point of reference when making an offer is the current listing price.  You may have heard someone regurgitate  a rule, such as, “Homes are selling for 90% of their listed prices, so you never offer the full listing price.”  Oh really!  Suppose a listing price started at a reasonable listing price and was reduced to far below true fair market value for a quick sale?  Or suppose the listing was on the market for two years, and it is now a short sale and being offered at far below FMV?  Suppose it has been reduced to such a steal of a price that there is no doubt several other buyers are going to snap it up?

    When it comes to real estate prices, some homes are listed well above a fair market value price (FMV), but others are listed right on target in this current market, and still others have been listed at a garage sale price for the quickest possible sale.  This points out that general rules on offering prices are not applicable for a specific home.  What you need is the full history on a particular home, how long it has been on the market, and an accurate understanding of the true comps in this market.  And watch out for listings that are priced with no differentiation for location.  For example, a home right on the busy freeway should never be listed at the same price as a similar home in a private gorgeous area far from the highway and noise.  If you were going to make an offer on the freeway home, you might offer 80% of the listing price, but the home in the quiet area might deserve a 98% offering price.  There are many variables, and you’ll need to look at all of them to arrive at a fair offering price.  Only then will you be able to place a particular home in the context of current real estate prices.

    Real Estate Prices and Reality

    I just had a client call me this morning, a client I referred to another Realtor in the Puyallup area.  She asked if his advice to write a full price offer on a home was good, because she isn’t sure about real estate prices right now.  I know this Realtor.  He is one of the most knowledgeable, professional and honest Realtors I have known in 30 years in this business.  He knows the market and he knows how to work for his buyer.  If he says the current listing price is so good the buyer should write a full price offer, there is no doubt in my mind he is right.  In following up on this, I learned this house is a steal at the current reduced listing price, and two other buyers are in the process of drafting offers.

    Of course, generally in this market and in light of the chaos in real estate prices, we would expect to write an offer that is significantly less than the listing price, but be careful you don’t get bad advise on how to write your offer.  Rely on a professional who knows the market and has a lifetime of negotiating prices.  Be careful about taking advice from friends.  Remember, while friends mean well, when you are sick, everyone is suddenly a doctor, and when you have a legal issue, everyone is suddenly a lawyer.  We know better.  Right?

    Negotiate your specific home based on the relevant data and history for that home and based on real comps, not distant comps.  Real estate prices are all over the map right now, but be sure your offer is the right offer.

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    Home Values Tumbling?

    Are home values tumbling?  Fox news reported today that Zillow’s first quarter data suggested that home prices have dropped in the U.S. by 3% in the first three months of 2011.

    Home Values Tumbling?

    As they say, “Statistics don’t like–statisticians do.”  In this case, there are many possible interpretations of this data.  But there are a few simple rules to consider when drawing ultimate conclusions from this scant information.

    First, this is data collected by one private company, Zillow.  Does it include 100% of all sales across the entire U.S.?  I can guarantee that it does not.  But it may include sufficient data to validate the reduced values.  We don’t really know.

    Second, a statistical study must be properly weighted to exclude or adjust data that would or can scew the data.  In this case, the U.S. real estate market is so dramatically different in various regions and states that it is a very general statement to apply one statistical template to all areas.  Perhaps home prices only declined by 1% in your area and 5% in Phoenix.  It’s also very possible that prices stayed the same in your area and dropped by 6% in the foreclosure disaster areas, like Vegas and Phoenix.  Averages on a national level are not very helpful, except to remind us that nationally the real estate market is not sending any signals of recovery yet.

    Have home values in Sequim declined by 3% just in the first quarter of 2011?  Not likely.  That would mean that a home at $300,000 has declined by $9,000.  There’s literally  no way to measure that.  I haven’t seen it, and prices just don’t drop automatically here.  There’s also no way to know whether a price decline is the result of a falling market in the first quarter.  A listing price may have dropped by 3%, more or less, but that may be a response to declining prices over the past 24 months.

    Statistics like this one published by Zillow can be very misleading.  What does this statistic mean for a buyer or seller in Sequim?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

    Every transaction I negotiate for my buyer clients as a buyer’s agent are individually negotiated–one buyer and one seller, each represented by an agent.  Each transaction stands on its own.  Each seller and each buyer have their own motivations and financial considerations.  Each transaction is negotiated on its own merits.  What is happening statistically as an average number around the country in all local markets is interesting but of little negotiating value.

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    Sequim AppraisalsClients ask me periodically if they should make certain improvements on their home to make it more sellable.  What I’ve learned from hundreds of buyers who have looked at thousands of homes is that buyers generally do not care if some minor improvements are made.  In other words, it does not impact their decision to buy a home.  Now, if you have a major visual problem, such as a hole in the sheetrock in the hallway or a hole in the living room ceiling, yes it will make a difference to buyers.  A light fixture that is hanging at an angle in the dining room should be fixed.

    But if you are considering a major remodel of the bathroom at a cost of $3,500, you will not get that money back from the buyer.  Will it make your home more sellable?  Probably not, unless the bathroom was such an ugly disaster that it would gross a buyer out.  The general rule is that whatever money you put into your home to get it sold is money you will not get back.  If it helps sell the house sooner, then do it, but only if it is cosmetic and doesn’t cost much money.

    If your home is not the right home for a buyer from out of state, some improvements, other than minor cosmetic improvements, are not going to get them to sign an offer.  If your home is the right home, the right floor plan, the right location, and within their budget, not spending money on improvements is not going to push them away.

    You can see that these same rules apply to the methodology for professional appraisers.  They do not add value to a home for the kinds of improvements I’m talking about.  Want to see exactly what goes into a lender’s appraisal?  Here are the rules on values and appraisals.

    For Fannie Mae, Click here

    For Freddie Mac, Click here

    For FHA, Click here

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  • fsbo_listingsQuestion:  I found your website doing a search for “for sale by owner” information. I am considering the pros and cons of listing this myself, or enlisting a broker to help me out.  I am impressed by the amount of information you provide for free.

    Although my property is in Kitsap County, I am writing to ask your advice regarding setting a price that is well above the current market value.  The reasons I am considering this are:

    1. I am in no hurry for a sale. If it takes the market improving to the point that my asking price is more obtainable, I may be willing to wait for that.

    2. Property is 1+ acre in a location that would be perfect for a small business owner. we are on a busy road, and although right now it is zoned residential (the home is manufactured), there are several businesses very nearby. It is only a matter of time before this property is used commercially as well.

    Thank you for your time and thank you also for being so generous with the information on your website.

    Joe [not real name]

    Answer:

    One of my pet peeves is overpriced real estate. An overpriced home on the market can actually cost a seller a lot of money. A home only sells for fair market value (FMV), not more than buyers are willing to pay. That’s what FMV is–what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for a home. Yet we still see both FSBO’s and agent listings on the market above FMV, and some are substantially above FMV.

    If your home is for sale at a price above FMV, you can end up selling it for even less than FMV down the road. I’ve been preaching this for almost 20 years now, but finally there is authoritative proof. [See my earlier blogs on this: Save $10,000 Buying and Port Angeles and Sequim Overpriced Listings]

    The proof is in the Sunday, October 28, 2007 issue of the Seattle Times at page E7:

    “Real estate agents often warn sellers about the danger of overpricing a house. Now they have evidence to show skeptical clients: research by Jeffrey Otteau, a New Jersey appraiser. He found that in a market where prices are declining, sellers who ‘test the market’ with a high price usually end up with a lower price than those who price realistically.”

    The article points out that a house that is priced right for the current market sells within a reasonable time, but one that is overpriced will sit on the market while the market prices decline, and when the home does finally sell, it sells for less than the FMV of that home when it was first on the market.

    The statistical proof showed that in a market where a home that was listed for $599,900 (FMV) and which sold for $599,000 (almost full listed price within 30 days), a comparable house that was overpriced at $634,900 actually sold for $585,000 months later when the market had declined even a little more.

    There’s another solid reason not to overprice your home.  When a home first goes into the MLS and is advertised at that price, you have an opportunity to reach a small percentage of buyers who may be interested in your home, can actually afford it, and who are ready to do so now.  An overpriced home may cause them to look elsewhere.  And this is the clincher, buyers rarely come back to look at the same home again even after you’ve reduced the price.  That’s true.  Not only will most buyers not come back to see if you’ve reduced the price in the months to follow, but by the time you actually do reduce the price in the MLS, those original buyers are long gone, most having purchased a home that was not overpriced.  So as a practical matter, you have one shot at each buyer.

    Sometimes a seller who wants to gamble by asking far more than his home is worth will say, “I’m in no hurry to sell.  If it doesn’t sell, I can hang on to it until prices go back up.”  If that’s your sentiment, then don’t waste time and effort listing it for sale when you know it won’t sell.  Hoping you will get lucky and find an uninformed buyer who will pay way more for your property than the true FMV is a pipe dream.  Buyers are very intelligent these days, especially with the availability of the powerful tools on the Internet.  If you want more, then don’t list your home until prices actually do appreciate to that level.  Believe me, no one will buy an overpriced home.

    This is such an important lesson for homeowners who want to “test the market” with an excessively high price. Don’t do it. You could lose a lot of money by the time you end up selling it for much less in a slower market.

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  • Musical Chairs With Realtors

    One of the popular games in Clallam County as well as around the country right now is called, “Musical Chairs With Realtors.”   It’s a game that some sellers of homes and land are playing without realizing the tragic consequences of losing.   Here’s how the game works.

    An owner of either a home or vacant land hires a real estate agent to list and sell the property.   The agent wants to list the property at a sellable price, of course, because the agent only earns a commission if he actually sells the property.   The seller is a strong personality.   The seller tells the agent what the property should sell for.   The seller asks the agent his opinion, but everyone in the room knows the seller isn’t really asking:   the seller is telling.

    An agent often cannot be certain the seller is wrong, because pricing property is not some kind of mathematical science.   It is partly objective, partly subjective, and timing is everything for the right buyer at the right time and place.   Often an agent is persuaded that a seller’s property could be listed at a price the seller is quite adamant about.   Who knows, the seller could be right.   There are not any recent sales of anything exactly like this home or lot, so it is hard to definitively prove anything to a seller that will persuade him to reduce the initial listing price.   But in so many cases, this agent can testify, as can many other agents, that sellers send strong messages that they are not to be challenged on the price.   There are many ways sellers send this message, and those of us in the business know only too well how this works.

    An agent doesn’t want to be rude or offensive, and without specific mathematical proof that the listing price should be lower, it is hard to say anything real intelligent or persuasive to a passionate owner who justifies every which way up one side and down the other why this property should sell at such and such a price.   Sometimes it is just impossible to argue otherwise.   Any agent worth his salt knows that if he argues with his client, he loses.   We don’t argue with our clients.   It would be bad form and unproductive.

    So the agent lists the property, but after so many months, usually three to six months, the owner has decided it’s the agent’s fault it hasn’t sold, and it’s time to try an agent that can sell it.   Granted, some sellers don’t blame the agent, but still the result is the same in that they hire another agent.   (Honestly, even though a seller may say he doesn’t blame the agent, he really does, or he wouldn’t be listing with another agent.)

    And the game of Musical Chairs With Realtors begins.   The first agent notices that the new listing price with the second agent is way below the price the seller insisted he list it at.   What does the agent think?   The agent is thinking, “Wow!   Why didn’t my client list it with me at that price.   I might have been able to sell it.”   This is an entirely legitimate question.   To this some sellers would immediately reply, “Well, why didn’t you tell me it had to be listed at this lower price.   I would have reduced it and you would still have it listed.”   Not.   Experienced agents try to tell sellers a hundred times that the price may be too high, but many sellers simply refuse to hear it in all the conversations.   They don’t want to hear it, and they direct the conversation to justifying the price each time.

    But it gets better!   Wait, there’s more, to parrot the famous commercial.

    The second listing agent is soon to be replaced by a third listing agent, only this time at an even lower price.   Oh, this game of musical chairs is such a fun game for all of us. Who benefits?   No one.

    The seller is making the job of selling his properties hard for everyone, and he is sabotaging his own goal of getting the properties sold.   The seller is also disrespecting every agent he hires and then dumps.   And worse, with his property on the market so long, he has made his own property less desirable to buyers who no longer see it, even when he keeps reducing the price.

    There may be an occasion when it is appropriate to change agents.   Agents come in all different sizes and shapes, so to speak, and education, experience, competence, trustworthiness, and professionalism all play an important part to the discerning seller.   (Note the word “discerning.”)   A seller might find out that his agent is not good at marketing and sales, and with some due diligence find an agent who is.   But in the vast majority of cases from my experience, most sellers are playing musical chairs, rather than doing some deep investigation to find out who is the best.

    This game of musical chairs is played all the time, every week in Clallam County and around the country.     Not all sellers are playing this game.   How many are or what percentage are playing is hard to say, but a substantial percentage are playing.   It’s too bad, too, because everyone loses when this game is played, and in this market who can afford to be a loser.

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  • When homes don’t sell quickly like they did in 2005, many salespeople in the real estate industry resort to gimmicks.   Some homeowners have picked up on these gimmicks thinking that they must work.   Gimmicks don’t sell homes, but real estate agents can testify that gimmicks do get homeowners to sign listing agreements.

    Some gimmicks are just plain silly (not to mention expensive), and other gimmicks seem to have some potential, but closer insight by experienced professionals will tell you otherwise.

    One of the more ludicrous gimmicks that has spread to a couple of places across the country is the offer of a luxury car to the buyer of an expensive home.   A Phoenix developer mistakenly took the counsel of his real estate advisor and offered a brand new $200,000 Bentley to anyone who purchased one of his multi-million dollar homes.

    One of the homes, described as the “Old World European Villa,” is priced just under $5 million and is about 7,800 square feet.   The other, which is called “Tuscan Estate,” is under $4 million and is about 7,500 square feet.   [Read Real Estate Gimmicks to Sell Homes.]

    This same idea was picked up again recently by a homeowner in Orlando, Florida.   Jim Benson is offering the buyer of his $699,000 home a vintage 1967 Rolls Royce.   Such gimmicks have never worked, and professional salesmen with experience under their belts will all share that.   Of course, someone will pipe up, “Well, it does get the guy some exposure and that’s promoting the home, right?”   Wrong.   Exposure without a sale is just wasted energy, right?

    The goal is to sell the home, not to have gimmicks that the public finds entertaining for a few minutes in the news.   There are some gimmicks, however, that seem to have some promise.   Real estate brokers and agents around the country are coming up with new gimmicks to get listings.

    It’s been a tough year for real estate brokers around the country as they struggle to explain (repeatedly) to their listing clients why their homes have not sold.   What many agents are thinking now is that they just need more and more listings.   It used to be that “listings was the name of the game,” and you could list homes and let other agents sell them.   Well, we got away from that, but many agents are thinking that if they have a lot of listings, just maybe some of them will get sold, and the agent can survive in this market to live and sell another day.

    One of the gimmicks some agents use around the country is to “bid for listings.”   Homeowners who want to sell and get the highest possible price will most often list with the agent who promises them the highest listing price.   Not very smart of the homeowner (ignorance of the truth is no excuse), but it is especially not very ethical or professional on the part of the agent.   For some agents, the rule is:   Anything to get a listing.

    Another gimmick large brokerage companies are toying with (remember, toys are for children), is to call expired listings or FSBO’s, and give them the latest hot sales pitch.   It goes something like this:

    Hi, my name is [agent’s name] and I’m a real estate consultant (a nice catchy new phrase) and Realtor.   I notice your home listing recently expired, and I’d like to tell you about an exciting new program we at [brokerage name] are offering absolutely free of charge to homeowners like you.   May I tell you about it?   [What homeowner won’t say yes at that point.   Nothing to lose, right?]

    Great.   We have a very powerful new program to help homeowners like you figure out what you can do to sell your home in this market in a very short time.   It works like this.   We bring six to twelve of our agents to your neighborhood and to your home.   We spend time looking it over and then we discuss it among ourselves–with you present, of course–right there at your home.   We discuss the value of your home, what you have been doing to sell it and at what price.   We discuss the state of the market, what is selling and where and for how much.   We talk about marketing and the latest and most effective techniques to sell a lovely home like yours.   We answer any questions that you have, and then we leave.   No obligation at all.   Of course, I would love to list your home and sell it for you in the next 30 to 90 days, but that would be entirely your decision, and there’s no obligation at all. Does this sound like something you might find helpful?

    Wow!   I just drafted that script off the top of my head, but it sounds so good, I might just use it myself.   No, just kidding.   It’s nothing but a gimmick, and you have to think it through to realize that.

    Imagine this.   Imagine a nice brokerage company with lots of agents.   The agents are individually struggling, because their listings are not selling in this slow market, the phones are not ringing like they were in 2005, and buyers are not exactly stampeding into the office lately.   To make matters worse, print advertising in newspapers and magazines is not selling real estate either, but it sure is expensive.

    As a homeowner you wouldn’t really jump up and down with excitement to hire one of these traditional agents with no ideas and a 20-year old business model that is not all that exciting anymore. So here’s the big question.

    Why would you think that putting six to twelve of these same agents in the same room is somehow going to be the catalyst of extraordinarily new and exciting techniques to sell you home?   A group think tank only works if the individuals in the group have something to offer.

    Watch this.   Many homeowners who are desperate to sell and have not read this article will list with agents who read this script.   They don’t know it’s just a gimmick, and they’re desperate to try something.

    Are homes selling with these gimmicks? The answer is no.   Gimmicks don’t sell homes.   Good marketing and connecting with the right buyer is what sells homes.   That’s why I’ve built the largest Internet brokerage in Sequim and Port Angeles.   The Internet is the single most effective way to sell homes.   Period.   But there is much more to the story about how to effectively price and market a home.

    The answer is not group think.   If you have a home in Sequim or Port Angeles you want to sell, call me on my cell at 360-775-5424.   My name is Chuck Marunde.

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    Want to sell your own home in Sequim or Port Angeles? How do you market your home in this economy? What techniques are best for selling? How do you get the highest price? This is Part 2 of a 6 part series answering these questions.

    As I wrote in Part 1, “I think of selling your house as a six part process: 1.) knowing the local real estate market, 2.) figuring out the FMV and determining a realistic sales price, 3.) developing an effective advertising plan, 4.) negotiating diplomatically but firmly to arrive at a price that pushes your buyer as far as they are willing to go, 5.) drafting the legal contracts as well as drafting unambiguous language that gets the property sold without legal problems, and 6.) avoiding the many traps for the unwary.”

    Today’s Coverage: 2.) Figuring out the FMV and determining a realistic sales price.

    The single most important step in the process of successfully selling your home is coming up with a true FMV (fair market value). Price your house wrong on the market, and it may get stale, and either take much longer to sell at a lower price, or not sell at all this year.

    A Realtor can get a beautiful CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). If you’re not a member of the MLS, you won’t have access to all that data, so a FSBO (For-Sale-By-Owner) will have to resort to what are probably less accurate and more labor intensive methods to do a CMA.

    I have a strong conviction about arriving at the listing price, whether a FSBO or listed with a Realtor. I believe it must be an accurate FMV. An experienced Realtor using the MLS can arrive at an accurate FMV, but it takes hard work to make the necessary adjustments up and down for the comparables to arrive at the best FMV for your home. Because it is so hard for a FSBO to do this accurately without a lot of training and a current data base, I recommend hiring a licensed appraiser and paying him for what is the equivalent of a bank appraisal. It is extremely effective to show a prospective Buyer how you arrived at the asking price. They can’t really argue with it. It is well documented, has color pictures of the comps, includes all the amenities and the values, and has an authoritative bottom line number.

    This same appraisal is typically good for six months and probably can be used by your buyer with their own bank. While some appraisals take weeks to get done, your appraisal is already done and the Buyer can take it to the bank. What a great way to reduce unnecessary delays, especially with VA loans. The appraisal will cost $400, more or less, but just tell the Buyers that while you have done them a favor by getting it done in advance, you expect to be reimbursed at closing as it is normally their cost anyway. By the way, some special types of HUD loans or VA loans may require a bank appointed appraiser of their own choosing, but your appraisal still has all the benefit of accurate pricing to market and sell your home.

    I recently listed a home that had previously been listed for six months with another broker with no activity whatsoever. I sold it in about 30 days after listing, and I would attribute this success to effective marketing AND the right listing price. The listing price was $25,000 below a current bank appraisal, and I made it clear in the marketing that price was already negotiated and firm.

    Wrong pricing can be devestating. I noticed in my MLS that a 2.5 acre lot with a mountain view sold this past month for $139,000. What is interesting is that the original listing price was $239,000. Wow! What a discount! It would seem the original price was grotesquely over FMV by $100,000. Guessing what the FMV is on your property is just plain dumb. Don’t do it. Pricing is not science, but neither is it throwing dice. Admittedly there is a subjective aspect, but there is a great deal of solid mathematics involved, too. You have to know how to do the math.

    It may be obvious, but another great thing you accomplish by getting the appraisal done in advance is to reduce the offer/counteroffer/counteroffer exchange. Explain that the appraisal eliminates the uncertainty for them about what the FMV of the house is, eliminates the need for the games that Buyers and Sellers often play without an appraisal, both trying to take advantage of the other. This is very effective!

    Courtesy Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC
    Chuck Marunde, J.D. Owner/Broker/Realtor

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    Sequim FSBO – For Sale By Owner – Part 1

    What does it take to sell your own home in Sequim? How do you market your home in this economy? What techniques are best for selling? How do you get the highest price?

    I think of selling your house as a six part process: 1.) knowing the local real estate market, 2.) figuring out the FMV and determining a realistic sales price, 3.) developing an effective advertising plan, 4.) negotiating diplomatically but firmly to arrive at a price that pushes your buyer as far as they are willing to go, 5.) drafting the legal contracts as well as drafting unambiguous language that gets the property sold without legal problems, and 6.) avoiding the many traps for the unwary.

    Today’s Coverage: 1.) Knowing the local real estate market.

    Buyers sometimes come from outside our area, and if they are from an area where real estate is priced substantially higher, they might over pay for a property. The reality is that buyers are getting very well educated these days, and they are learning to negotiate hard. The Internet has become a very powerful tool educating both buyers and sellers, evidenced by you reading this.

    Buyers are able to view many homes on the Internet and compare features and prices. By the time a buyer looks at your home, they have looked at hundreds of homes on the Internet, and physically viewed a dozen or more homes in your market. The better you know the market, the better you will be prepared to negotiate the sale.

    Knowing the market involves knowing several critical components to getting your house sold. It will be helpful to know:

    1. the fair market values of comparable houses;
    2. the differences between those comps and your house in great detail;
    3. how and why you have adjusted the comp prices to arrive at your price;
    4. the shortcomings or negatives of your home–objectively;
    5. considering all of this, how your home looks on the market to prospective buyers;
    6. how to stage your home;
    7. the market timing or the “when” of selling your home.

    WHEN you put your home on the market is a very important decision. First, the market might be in a correction mode, so it could be the worst time. Second, the season or time of the year can be disadvantageous. Third, annual events often create the best and the not-so-good times to put a house on the market, like school starting at the end of August. There are many things that effect timing decisions. You will want to be aware of these, because wrong timing can mean the house does not sell within a reasonable period of time, or it could mean you take a substantial cut on the price. Ouch!

    You would also benefit from having a written comprehensive plan. Do you know what you are going to do, and do you know when you are going to do it between now and closing? Chaos is not in your best interest when it comes to selling your home with so much money at stake. Write a good and thorough plan, including the contact information of key professionals you will involve, such as the title company, the escrow officer, inspector, loan officer, and so on. It’s what you don’t know that can come back to bite you. It has been said that we learn best by making mistakes, but it would be a disaster if you had to loose a lot of your money just to learn something about selling real estate. It is the intention of this series to help you avoid that kind of nightmare and to successfully sell your own home. If after studying everything you can get your hands on, you decide your want a Realtor, that is still your option, but at least you would be making a fully informed decision.

    Realize that the success of a FSBO is not so much in doing something extraordinarily good: the key is not making any major mistakes. Kind of sounds like a military career, doesn’t it? It means covering all the bases, and not falling into traps for the unwary. This is why a comprehensive plan is so important. It is your road map to success. Without the map, you may not end up at closing with the net proceeds you hoped to get. And then who wants to close a transaction, and later get sued because your paperwork opens you to legal liability.

    Courtesy Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC
    Chuck Marunde, J.D. Owner/Broker/Realtor

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    Should I Reduce My Price To Sell My Home?

    When a home is on the market for a long time and it still has not sold, a homeowner might legitimately ask his agent, or himself if he is a FSBO (for sale by owner), do I need to reduce my price? Have I overpriced my home?

    In my experience, whenever the DOM (days on market) exceed 90 days, and especially when the DOM approaches 200, the first question everyone focuses on is the price. “Oh, it must be priced too high. Let’s drop it and try to get some attention that way.”

    An overpriced listing is like death to a serious home seller, but sometimes the reason a home hasn’t sold has nothing to do with the current price. Elsewhere, I’ve written about the danger of overpricing, and that should be a consideration, but there is a huge factor that may be far more important in “getting attention” from prospective buyers.

    How well is your home being marketed? Is your marketing plan reaching buyers (wherever they may be) in this price range and for your area and for the floor plan and features of your home? If your marketing is ineffective, the price is not why your home has not sold. It’s because buyers are not even aware of your home.

    Anyone who reads my blog articles knows that one of my pet peeves is ineffective marketing of homes. So many FSBO’s and so many practicing real estate agents think that simply putting a house in the MLS and in some local newspaper ads is all there is to this marketing business. Some think they have the secret key, because they’ve placed a few haphazard ads on the Internet. There’s so much more to marketing and placement. There’s so much more to knowing how to reach prospects on the Internet.

    Why does a marketing expert like Jay Abraham get paid as much as $1 million dollars to draft one letter for major retailers? Because they can make an extra $200 million dollars in sales. Well, why not save all that money and simply pay a Boeing engineer to write a letter, or a retired sporting goods store owner, or a waitress? Because they don’t know how. Period. It doesn’t matter if they think they know, they don’t. That’s why Jay Abraham can charge so much. Because he produces results.

    A homeowner may think they know about marketing. A real estate agent might present themselves as an expert who can sell someones’s home. If they are wrong and don’t know, who pays the price? The homeowner who is stuck with a house that hasn’t sold. A Boeing engineer may be very smart about engineering, a retired sporting goods store owner may have been very successful in his business, and a waitress may be phenomenal, but are they marketing experts in selling their own homes in this market? Probably not. I’m sure they would admit that. [They might say, “I just want to give it a try.” Red flag. Maybe I’ll write about how listings go stale once they’re overpriced, and no one comes back.]

    I recently listed an incredible home with an unbelievable view of International waters. It was listed by another agent, but nothing happened for six months. So my client asked me, “Do I need to reduce the price.” My answer was a probing question, “Was your house effectively marketed to your potential buyers?” His answer was a quick, “No.” He knew it wasn’t. My response, “Then we don’t know if we need to reduce the price yet. First we market, then we adjust price if those buyers are telling us the price is too high.”

    If you had a home listed at $425,000, but it was not effectively being exposed to prospective buyers, you could drop the price to $400,000, and still you would have no activity, except tire kickers. You could drop the price 6 months later to $387,000, and still you would have no offers. How much money are you willing to lose until you actually sell it to someone who is just looking for a steal. It isn’t always about price.

    Selling your home is effective marketing plus a reasonable listing price. Effective marketing is not for the inexperienced. The difference between good marketing and poor marketing is 60 DOM or 324 DOM. It gets even better than that. The house that is on the market for a long time before it sells will also get a lesser price than the same house sold in 60 days with good marketing.

    In today’s real estate market, effective marketing is more important than ever. Either you, as the homeowner, must become an expert in marketing in all its facets if you are to sell your home in a reasonable period of time for the highest price, or you should be darn sure your Realtor is a true expert. Do you know how to discern the difference between a Realtor who is and who is not? [Hint: just because their lips are moving doesn’t mean they are saying something that will help you sell your home.]

    If you’re selling your home soon, be careful. It’s dangerous out there. There are many Traps for the Unwary, and a poor marketing plan is one of those traps.

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    Overpricing Your Home Can be Costly

    One of my pet peeves is overpriced real estate. An overpriced home on the market can actually cost a seller a lot of money. A home only sells for fair market value (FMV), not more than buyers are willing to pay. That’s what FMV is–what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for a home. Yet we still see both FSBO’s and agent listings on the market above FMV, and some are substantially above FMV.

    If your home is for sale at a price above FMV, you can end up selling it for even less than FMV down the road. I’ve been preaching this for almost 20 years now, but finally there is authoritative proof. [See my earlier blogs on this: Save $10,000 Buying and Port Angeles and Sequim Overpriced Listings]

    The proof is in the Sunday, October 28, 2007 issue of the Seattle Times at page E7:

    “Real estate agents often warn sellers about the danger of overpricing a house. Now they have evidence to show skeptical clients: research by Jeffrey Otteau, a New Jersey appraiser. He found that in a market where prices are declining, sellers who ‘test the market’ with a high price usually end up with a lower price than those who price realistically.”

    The article points out that a house that is priced right for the current market sells within a reasonable time, but one that is overpriced will sit on the market while the market prices decline, and when the home does finally sell, it sells for less than the FMV of that home when it was first on the market.

    The statistical proof showed that in a market where a home that was listed for $599,900 (FMV) and which sold for $599,000 (almost full listed price within 30 days), a comparable house that was overpriced at $634,900 actually sold for $585,000 months later when the market had declined even a little more.

    There’s another solid reason not to overprice your home.  When a home first goes into the MLS and is advertised at that price, you have an opportunity to reach a small percentage of buyers who may be interested in your home, can actually afford it, and who are ready to do so now.  An overpriced home may cause them to look elsewhere.  And this is the clincher, buyers rarely come back to look at the same home again even after you’ve reduced the price.  That’s true.  Not only will most buyers not come back to see if you’ve reduced the price in the months to follow, but by the time you actually do reduce the price in the MLS, those original buyers are long gone, most having purchased a home that was not overpriced.  So as a practical matter, you have one shot at each buyer.

    Sometimes a seller who wants to gamble by asking far more than his home is worth will say, “I’m in no hurry to sell.  If it doesn’t sell, I can hang on to it until prices go back up.”  If that’s your sentiment, then don’t waste time and effort listing it for sale when you know it won’t sell.  Hoping you will get lucky and find an uninformed buyer who will pay way more for your property than the true FMV is a pipe dream.  Buyers are very intelligent these days, especially with the availability of the powerful tools on the Internet.  If you want more, then don’t list your home until prices actually do appreciate to that level.  Believe me, no one will buy an overpriced home.

    This is such an important lesson for homeowners who want to “test the market” with an excessively high price. Don’t do it. You could lose a lot of money by the time you end up selling it for much less in a slower market.

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  • Filed under: Listing Price
  • Pricing Your Home To Sell

    Many people guess what their home is worth and put it on the market, hoping it will sell for that. I actually had clients who told me how they came up with the selling price on their house. It was the listed price of the new house they wanted to buy in another state. Interesting. Of course, I politely explained that the price of the new home had no relationship whatsoever with the fair market value of the current home. Try and tell a Buyer you want $50,000 over fair market value, because you’ll need it to buy your new house. These clients just had not thought this through.

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  • Filed under: Listing Price
  • Listing Price

    Listing Price.  This is a true story about the listing price of a home for sale in Sequim. A nice gentleman tells me that he is really really frustrated with his real estate agent. I played along and said, “Why?” So he tells me this long story about how he had wanted to sell his house, and he talked to a few agents.

    Listing Price and Throw The Dice

    Listed PriceTwo of the agents showed him comps (comparables) that showed a price in the range of $350,000 to $395,000. One was suggesting a listing price of $385,000 and the other was suggesting a listing price of $375,000. But . . . this nice gentleman was persuaded by a third agent that his house would sell for at least $435,000, so he listed with the third agent. Six months later still without a sale, the agent persuades him to reduce the listing price to $399,000. Long story short, the house ends up selling after 11 months on the market for about $370,00, which included some credits the seller ended up giving the buyer.

    Listing Price and Choose Carefully

    I would say the moral of this story is IF AND WHEN YOU HIRE A REAL ESTATE AGENT, MAKE SURE HE/SHE DOES NOT THINK THE LISTING PROCESS IS A BIDDING PROCESS. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY SOMEONE WHO WILL LIST YOUR PROPERTY AT A HIGH PRICE TO GET THE LISTING, AND THEN EVENTUALLY WORK YOU DOWN IN PRICE.

    The most important decision a home seller will make is who he hires as his/her Realtor.  The second most important decision is the listing price.

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  • Search Sequim Blog

    Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.

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

    From Los Angeles

    It's rare, but once in awhile life provides the perfect collaborator for an important endeavor such as buying your new home. For me that person was Chuck Marunde. His two decade background as a Real Estate Attorney, his prolific career as an author of articles and books on Real Estate and his forthright and moral character made choosing Chuck a no-brainer. Chuck is dedicated, thorough, incredible at the negotiating table, knowledgeable about all local laws & regs but, most importantly, Chuck loves what he does. And what he does is find his client the perfect property. Chuck isn't about making the sale, he's about making the sale that is OPTIMUM for his CLIENT and this makes Chuck a rare bird indeed. I love my new home in Sequim and I am indebted to Chuck for making it happen. Kevin E.

    From Seattle

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chuck over the past three years in selling my parent's estate. It was a tough time to sell during the housing recession, but Chuck always kept things on the positive side. With his real estate law background, he offers sound, practical advice. He helps you along with the process using discussions and reason, rather than opinions and speculations. If Chuck doesn’t know the answers, he will get them for you. In several instances, Chuck took the initiative to meet with county officials to get up-to-date facts about zoning and regulations. I was always impressed with his company’s tech savvy communi-cations and internet presence: weekly email updates, blogs, videos, links, Linked-in networking, etc. He is truly pioneering the future of buying & selling real estate. Brian M.

    From Florida

    We do our homework for the task at hand and we look for and expect to enlist partners that do the same. It was our good fortune to select Chuck Marunde of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate to represent us as a buyer's broker in our search for a home in the Sequim/Port Angeles area. Chuck's site is all encompassing and super fast compared to many others, he knows the market at every conceivable level and his guidance through the process of selecting and purchasing a home is priceless - above and beyond that of anyone with whom we have ever worked. Add to all this his 20 year background in real estate law and you have discovered a superb asset in the adventure of purchasing a home. Greg and Marilyn

    From Gilroy California

    As an out of state buyer unfamiliar with the area, it was important to me not only to have a real estate agent who knew the area well, but also one who knew the value of the properties. I chose Chuck because he is also a real estate lawyer and it is reassuring to have that extra degree working for you. I selected the houses I was interested in on line before taking a two day trip to Sequim to look at them in person. I sent my list to Chuck, who gave me feedback, then organized our tour so we could see 16 properties in a short time. He was very accommodating, driving me all over Sequim, and rescheduling appointments when we fell behind on our time. On day two, I found my home and we drafted an offer on it that evening. By the time I arrived back home on the plane the next evening, my offer had been accepted. Chuck was honest about what it would take to get me into my new home, while having my back the entire transaction. Since I was unable to relocate immediately after closing, he and his assistant Ade, have been taking care of many additional responsibilities for me. He was a pleasure to work with. Chris D.

    From Corona California

    The best decision I made, once I settled on Sequim as the ideal place to spend the rest of my days, was to hook up with Chuck Marunde as my broker/go-to guy. He happily took on the entire complicated merry-go-round associated with a long distance move that involved selling in Southern California (with a different agent) and buying in Sequim – all in the span of just over a month. The unexpectedly quick sale of my previous home was already a week into a 30 day escrow when I got to Sequim for my house hunt. We had two days to find my slice of heaven. And day one was less than stellar, each home having at least one major issue. The killer was the dream home that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster once we got inside. I was crushed. Chuck had his work cut out for him that night. And he worked his magic. On day two there was one beautiful possibility, but not quite right. Suffice to say, in the early afternoon we pulled into a driveway and the first words out of my mouth were “That’s my house.” 29 days later I took possession of my new home. Every sale has its issues, but throwing in the complications of a short escrow on top of 1200 miles of separation from all documentation, etc. gives new meaning to “challenging”. Thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge coupled with a great sense of humor, Chuck was able to keep me on an even keel when things got dicey. He knows when to step in and when to let it evolve. I cannot imagine making this move without him. Rebecca B.
    Sequim Real Estate

    From Bakersfield California

    "During the months of February and March 2012, Chuck showed my wife and I over two dozen homes from Port Angeles to Port Townsend. We found Chuck to be very helpful, friendly and courteous. With Chuck there is no pressure; It is all about finding the best home for the buyer. As a Buyer's Agent, Chuck will give you his honest opinion of a property, including a fair market price. In one instance Chuck wrote up an offer for us which was accepted. Chuck was very helpful arranging for home and well inspections which involved multiple trips to the property. Unfortunately, escrow failed to close when, during the home inspection process, it was determined that a septic system repair was needed which the seller was unwilling/unable to make. We will continue to work with Chuck as there is no better Buyer's Agent on the North Olympic" Bert and Sally
    Sequim Real Estate Q&A

    From Los Alamos New Mexico

    "Over a year ago, during a visit to the Olympic Game Farm, we developed what we eventually called the “Sequim Syndrome.” We live in New Mexico and decided Sequim was where we wanted to live in retirement. On our second visit to Sequim, we met with Chuck and asked him to help us. Chuck's web site provides such amazing search capabilities. Chuck's site also contains a 1000 blog postings and a real estate video series detailing buying real estate in Sequim. We bought Chuck's book about Sequim real estate and set out to follow his advice carrying on an ongoing email and phone conversation with Chuck. Doing our due diligence “Marunde style” and using his MLS search site, we came up with about 50 homes that met our needs. We narrowed the list down to 15 properties that best met our needs. We came back to Sequim a third time with our list in hand, and Chuck spent two days with us showing us all the homes on our list. Not only did Chuck help us find that dream home, he spent time to educate us about the quality of construction, fair market values of various properties, home layouts, and the joys of Sequim living. We had a great time as we traveled from house to house. By mid afternoon of the second day, my wife said we had found “the house.” Chuck helped us draft our offer and sent our offer to the seller's agent. It turned out there was a second offer made on the property at the same time. Chuck's help to make a clean offer paid off. At breakfast two days later, we got a call from Chuck saying our offer had been accepted by the sellers. We are now back home in New Mexico. Chuck attends every inspection on our behalf, updating us at every turn by email and phone. Our dream home is becoming a reality because of Chuck and because we were smart enough to follow his advice. We absolutely would NOT have been able to do this without Chuck Marunde's expertise and enthusiasm. We recommend Chuck to everyone planning a move to Sequim, Port Angeles, or anywhere on the Olympic Peninsula. Chuck is a gold mine of information and expertise for home buyers everywhere, not just on the Olympic" Larry and Shirley
    Sequim Real Estate Bookstore

    From Sun Lakes Arizona

    "We are ex-Washington residents who currently live in Arizona. We had been searching the Puget Sound area four years for a waterfront property to build a retirement home when we first contacted Chuck Marunde through his website. We had made multiple trips to various areas but most of the Realtors we contacted simply sent us an email, provided no follow up and did next to nothing to help us locate a property. On our first trip to Port Angeles, after connecting with Chuck, we purchased our dream property. We now own a high bank waterfront lot overlooking the Straight of Jaun de Fuca, and are excited to become part of the Peninsula community." Paul and Linda

    From California

    "Andy Romano is a successful motion picture character actor with over 40 years in 'the Biz.' Mr. Romano has a home in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, but he chooses to live most of the time in Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula in the great Pacific Northwest. Why? In his own words, 'Because it's even more beautiful and surrounded by more beauty in this incredibly peaceful and quiet place. With respect to real estate agents or brokers, well my friend Chuck Marunde, owner of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate, is hands down the best there" Andy R.

    From Sequim

    I’ve known Chuck Marunde for several years. My wife and I bought and sold one house through his services, and now have another listed through him for sale. Whether Chuck was representing us as the buyer or seller, I am confident he always had our best interests at heart. He helped us set or negotiate a reasonable price, and made sure there was a clear and open line of communication. He responded rapidly to email and phone calls and always knew the best person to contact for the various services involved in a transaction. I have worked with quite a few real estate agents and Chuck is right at the top of my list of good ones. Actually, Chuck is first and foremost just a good person, and he carries his personal honesty and integrity over into his profession. He has the greatest depth of experience in real estate of any agent or broker I have known. His years of practicing real estate law prior to becoming a broker are evident in the meticulous care he takes with the process and documentation. I am impressed by the way Chuck has integrated internet services into his real estate business. He probably knows more about this process than any other realtor in the country. In this tight market it is important to use every possible means to spread the word about available properties…to reach the few people who might be interested in a particular property. Steve L.

    From The Netherlands

    "We contacted Chuck about six months ago to help find a retirement property in Sequim. We had visited Sequim several weeks before and decided that this was the place for us to retire. We liked the friendly people and the natural beauty of the area. We had been looking for some time in other parts of the country - California, Oregon, North Carolina, and Vermont. In most of these other areas, we found real estate agents that were knowledgeable but did not follow up with us to continue narrowing down real estate possibilities. Once we were out of earshot, communications would stop. That is one of the reasons we were interested in working with Chuck. Besides having great knowledge of both the local real estate market and of law, his testimonials on the internet indicated a willingness to actively communicate with his clients. Chuck demonstrated this immediately. Even before we met, he responded very quickly and helpfully to any email question. After arriving for a second visit to Sequim in September, we finally met Chuck face to face. He was friendly, encouraging, and readily shared good practical information. We worked with him on a number of candidate properties - including an offer on a property while visiting that week. Although we could not come to terms with the owners on the final property price, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Chuck. He is an invaluable resource to help us identify and purchase the retirement property that's right for us." Paul and Virginia

    From Fremont California

    We can't say enough about working with Chuck Marunde. Luck would have it that we discovered his web site, spoke with him on the phone and had an instant feeling that we had found our realtor. And we were right. With Chucks help and expertise, our longtime dream to retire to the Pacific Northwest came to fruition with Chuck assisting us in finding the perfect home for us. Buying a home is always a big decision and these days can be complex with unexpected delays etc. In fact, our whole experience from offer day to closing, was very smooth. Chuck took all the time we needed to explain processes and made us feel at ease, even though we lived 800 miles away, tying up loose ends and getting ready for the big move to our new home in Sequim. We were impressed with Chuck's ability to listen to our needs and understand our concerns in buying from a distance. Chuck kept us informed all along the way, during the process and was so good at getting right back to us if we had another question. All went so well and Chuck really went above and beyond for us, taking time out from his busy schedule to assist us with some details regarding our beautiful property, even after the closing, because we were not yet arrived there. Without hesitation, our son and his wife will be contacting Chuck this summer, as they plan to follow us to paradise in this lovely town. Thanks again Chuck, for everything! Mary and Jerry

    From Fontana California

    My husband and I went to Sequim intending to interview several realtors to find one to help us locate and buy a home in Sequim. We knew we wanted someone we could trust and who would have our best interests in mind. Since we would be handling the transaction from S. California this was very important to us. We met Chuck and looked no further. We felt a connection right away and spent some time looking at homes together so Chuck could get a feel for what we wanted. Well, we left Sequim having made an offer on a home which the owner accepted. Chuck has helped us through the purchase process. We are positive it would not have gone so smoothly without his help. We give him 4 thumbs up. Wally & Cathy

    From Tacoma

    Chuck Marunde’s level of expertise in real estate investment is amazing. His knowledge, experience and legal training have given me a dramatic advantage in real estate investing. He works hard to stay on the cutting edge of real estate marketing, sound advice and value-added service for his clients. Kirk Wald, Financial Planner

    From Wendell Idaho

    My wife and I moved to Sequim six weeks ago, and prior to our move here I contacted Chuck Marunde and enlisted his help as our buyer's agent. Once we got here, it took us about two weeks looking at houses, and Chuck did a superb job of showing us places and letting us make our own decisions and guide us through the purchase of our home. We now completed our transaction and are very happy. We would recommend Chuck to anybody. Don & Marilyn

    From Sequim

    "Buying property either commercial or residential can sometimes be a tricky proposition. That’s why I would recommend Chuck to help you with purchasing or selling property. His background as a real-estate lawyer and his no nonsense to the point advice will help you make the right decisions. Experience and Integrity, what you need when you can’t afford to make a mistake. Dail Hurdlow, CEO, Hurdlow Enterprises

    From Seattle

    I am an experienced real estate buyer, but I am not from the Sequim area. I am somewhat flexible, realistic, but also particular. So the question was, “how do you choose the RIGHT real estate agent?”

    I made my appointment with Chuck on a Sunday morning in March, 2013. He showed me 5 houses. Every house he showed me was within my parameters! I was amazed: a real estate who listened, did his research, and didn't waste my time showing me houses I would never buy! I made an offer a few days later. That was the easy part…

    Buying a house is always a stressful time in life. Advice to Buyers: choose an agent who is competent, communicates well, and has exceptional follow-up and follow-through! You will spend a lot of time with your agent during the process. Choose someone likable. Go with your gut. I got to know Chuck during the process, and he's a great guy!

    You need an agent who is competent to handle and help you negotiate the issues that come up during disclosure, home inspection, appraisal, etc. Chuck's competence is superb! I got truly professional, sound, straightforward advice.

    Chuck's communication skills are exceptional: phone, email, fax. He has a wonderful ability to stay "on-point" with what is actually important and doesn't lead you astray on issues that aren't so important.

    Chuck's turn-around time on questions, issue resolution, etc. was virtually always within 24 hours. He follows-up, follows-through. He does what he says he will do timely. This relieves a lot of Buyer stress!

    Having a difficult time finding the right agent? Simplify your life! Choose Chuck Marunde. I did. [Name withheld by request]

    Intro by Chuck Marunde

    From Sequim to California

    "In our Sequim real estate broker Chuck Marunde we found a Realtor who knew not only how to list a property, but most importantly, he knew how to sell a property. Chuck is very skilled in current technology and uses that skill to advertise your property nationally. We were very pleased with Chuck, his honesty and integrity." Jerry Levitan and Donna "Teva" Tetiva

    Who is Chuck Marunde?

    Chuck Marunde is the #1 Sequim Buyer's Agent, having sold more homes (by volume) to buyers than any other agent or any "team" of agents for the past seven years. He is the author of thousands of articles for buyers on this real estate blog, and he is the author of several real estate books for buyers and one for sellers. He is the creator of many free tools that buyers use and love every day. He is recognized as a national expert on real estate transactions, marketing, and negotiating. Please schedule your appointment to view homes with Chuck well in advance of arriving in Sequim.
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    Chuck Marunde Text or Call 360-775-5424