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Archive for the ‘Real Estate Nightmares to Avoid’ Category

Noise Pollution and Your Health

Noise pollution can effect your physical health and it can affect your psychological and mental health. There is ample evidence of that, but how many buyers consider noise pollution when they are looking at homes near a freeway or busy road?

Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution

Dr. Joseph Mercola, has written on this subject: “Noise pollution is an often-overlooked source of environmental stress that can raise your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease. In the US it’s estimated that 100 million people are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise, typically from automobile and aircraft traffic (although everything from leaf blowers and lawnmowers to loud music can also contribute).” Noise pollution is a very real issue.

It may surprise you, but noise pollution can contribute to heart disease. Dr. Mercola writes, “One of the key ways is by elevating stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure. One review of research showed that arousal associated with nighttime noise exposure increased blood and saliva concentrations of these hormones even during sleep.”

Noise Pollution and Your Home

Fortunately Sequim doesn’t have major freeways and the busy roads that most metropolitan areas have, and if you are coming from an area like Los Angeles or Seattle or Phoenix, you’ll find almost anywhere in the Sequim area quite peaceful. However, we do have our own little freeway known as Highway 101, and we have the Olympic Highway, the Sequim-Dungeness Highway, and other “busy” roads for a rural area like this. Some locations suffer from substantial noise pollution even here.

You can use Google Satellite to examine a listed property to see how close it is to a busy highway, and in my opinion, properties that suffer from noise pollution are worth less than homes that are in quiet and peaceful neighborhoods. Unfortunately, you will rarely see that reflected in appraisals or listed prices, so it is up to you (and me if I am your buyer’s agent) to pay attention to the issue of noise pollution when you are shopping for a home. One of my favorite quotes is from a classic movie, The Princess Bride, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” You have plenty to consider on your list of things to do when you are shopping for a home in the Sequim, Port Angeles, and Port Townsend areas, but may I suggest noise pollution should be one of them?

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Today real estate transactions are harder than ever to close. If you’re a buyer, you probably want to know why I would say this. There are a number of reasons why real estate transactions are more difficult to get from mutual acceptance to the closing table.

Real Estate Transactions

Real Estate Transactions Gone Wild

The real estate mortgage crisis, which revealed some fraud in the industry, including some collusion between a very small percentage of appraisers and mortgage brokers, sloppy loans being made by banks and mortgage companies without qualifying buyers, and lackadaisical practices by a few loan underwriters, all resulted in politicians jumping in and passing new laws in these industries.  That meant new regulations and additional processes and more standards and checklists, which has resulted in more layers of people and organizations between buyers and sellers.

Real Estate Transactions and Liabilities and Bureaucracy

Today appraisers are paranoid.  Loan officers and mortgage brokers are required to go to extremes of ridiculousness in documentation and nonsensical paperwork.  Loan underwriters are making buyers jump at a whim, and when buyers think they’re done after weeks of paperwork and phone calls and faxes and emails, the underwriters make them jump through some more hoops, and when buyers are emotionally worn out, they are told there is a problem at the 11th hour.  (more…)

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Should I Buy a Home by a Freeway?

A home by a freeway is listed in the MLS, and the question is should you consider buying a home by a freeway?  I have two concerns on this subject that I think are relevant for buyers.  My first concern is the home by a freeway that is listed at the same price as a home in a quiet area miles from the freeway.  My second concern is the home near a highway that could become a home by a major freeway.

Little Home by the Freeway

Home by a Freeway

This photo shows current construction on the freeway between Sequim and Port Angeles.  What was a two lane freeway (Interstate 101) will soon be a four lane freeway.  This home was invisible from the highway for many years, sat well above the two lane noisy traffic with a large mound of dirt and a thick hedge of trees and vegetative growth sheltering it.  Suddenly this homeowner is looking down at the new freeway under construction from the back deck and from all the back windows of the house.  This home is no longer sheltered from the noise of traffic, and any thoughts of privacy in the back yard have gone poof.  Little home by a freeway is now little home no one wants.

Home by the Freeway Passing Lane

Are homes by a freeway worth less than a home in a quiet neighborhood?  Absolutely!  Supply and demand prices such homes at substantially less value.  The surprise for me and so many buyers is that sellers often list their home by a freeway at the same price as a home a mile away in a quiet area.

Sweet Quiet Home by the Freeway

Noise is a factor for many buyers who are retiring to Sequim.  I did recently sell a home adjacent to the busy Sequim-Dungeness Road, and my buyers told me they didn’t find it bothersome since they had lived near a Los Angeles freeway for 30 years.  Okay, but they are definitely in the minority of folks moving to Sequim who do consider a home by a freeway to be less appealing.

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Question From John.   I’m seriously thinking about buying my mother’s house.   She has almost paid off her mortgage, doesn’t need the square footage and acreage of this house, and it’s an ideal house for me and my family.   She is willing to take monthly payments from us and that will save us having to try to qualify for a loan.   But what kinds of things do I not know that could mess me up?

Answer.   John, I think you are wise asking this question.   It’s the questions we don’t ask that can create nightmares later, and for many people a lot of stress and writing blank checks to lawyers.   There are a few things I would say you want to think about before you close the deal.

First, if I understand, your mother would sell you the house and move into her own small place or apartment.   If that is not the case, and she is staying in the house, you need to talk about the relationship issues of living with a parent.   That can get complicated very fast.

Second, if she is carrying the contract, I recommend that you do everything just as formally as you would as though you were total strangers.   In fact, the closer you are, the more important it is that you take care of all the legal issues and the contracts very professionally and above board.   Having a dispute later with a family member or a friend can destroy the relationship for the rest of your lives.   That would be a disaster.

Third, use a deed of trust and promissory note and a third-party escrow company to collect your money and disburse it to your mother.   This will also help alleviate any disputes over how much you’ve paid, how much has been amortized and what portion has been applied to interest and what portion to principal.   This is one of the major problem areas, so don’t pass on this idea.

Fourth, be sure you have included all the details of your transaction in your final contract.   In other words, if you are paying your mother over 30 years just like a bank loan, great, but if you are going to cash her out in five years, be sure to come to grips with that.   Five years goes by so fast, and while most people think a balloon payment is no big deal, I could tell you stories of how many people could not make their balloon payment.   As someone once said, “Balloon payments are for clowns.”

Fifth, I recommend you have a provision in your agreement that if you sell your home, your buyer must pay your mother off entirely.   Don’t put your mother in the position of being forced to be in a contractual relationship with someone other than you, someone she does not know and doesn’t trust.

Sixth, and lastly, be sure you pay your mother the maket rate of interest, which as of this writing is 4.5% on a fixed 30-year loan.   That could increase quickly, but the point is if your mother gets paid less than the fair market interest rate, the IRS will want to tax her on the difference, which is a gift tax.   While she also can make an annual gift to her children, the whole thing can get complicated and messy for your mother.

Good luck, and be sure to take care of your mother above your own interests.

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10 Biggest Real Estate Problems

Having practiced real estate law in Sequim & Port Angeles for many years, this is my list of the 10 biggest real estate problems in Clallam County. If you hover your mouse over some of them, you will notice they have links to more detailed articles, if your interested.

  1. Claims of Adverse Possession;
  2. Easement Disputes;
  3. Boundary Disputes;
  4. Disputes with Builders;
  5. Seller Misrepresentation;
  6. Purchase & Sale Agreement Breaches;
  7. Partnership Disputes;
  8. Homeowners’ Associations Disputes;
  9. Breaches of CC&Rs; and
  10. Probate Disputes (with Heirs/Claimants).

More detail on these issues can be found at: Legal Issues at FreeRealEstateLaw.com

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Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.

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
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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.

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
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