Category Archives: Real Estate

Angle Lake

Welcome to Angle Lake, an active waterfront community proud of its clean water, beautiful sandy beaches and convenient location close to SeaTac international airport and a short ride to Downtown Seattle. A brand new extension to the Light Rail was added on 200th for easy commuting. In the Summer, people come to fish on the pier (catching rainbow trout, bass and perch) and swim, dive or paddle board (as the water gets warm).

View Virtual Tour

 

Seattle Cabin Fever Anyone?

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Fever cabin anyone? Have you ever felt the need to explore neighborhoods beyond the Seattle city limits to get a flavor of peace and quiet away from street traffic and nervous drivers? Well, if you haven’t already done so, I would suggest a drive down to Burien and Normandy Park: barely a 25-minute ride from Downtown. Take the 148th exit to Olde Burien, stroll down 152nd street for a delicious bite at the 909 or a tasty home made chocolate at Armoire Chocolat and continue the journey onto Maplewild Avenue. This scenic meandering street with its tall fir trees & striking Puget Sound views, will lead you to beautiful public beach accesses, barking sea lions and the imposing Mount Rainier silhouette as a dramatic backdrop. Welcome to the Three Tree Point. Continue your journey along the water to Normandy Park and its wonderful Cove park and nature trails.cove-view-web

Dreaming of building your new reasonably-priced home (modern or traditional) with the expertise of a high-end builder? Let’s meet! You will have the choice between a Sound view lot with practically no yard maintenance or a one-acre lot with total privacy.

Check the detailed listings.

Western Washington Waterfront Home Tour

This year again, Windermere Real Estate (as well as other main local real estate companies) will be hosting the traditional waterfront home tour June 11th & June 12th between 1:00pm & 4:00pm. This represents a great opportunity for buyers, considering purchasing a beach home, to sample lake and sound properties.

Belleresidence.com will host five of its exclusive waterfront listings along Puget Sound. Note that some of them are “By Appointment Only” so make sure to call or text us at 206-214-8499 to reserve your time. We are excited to meet you on site!

1Check out this map with the entire list of properties that will be open.

Here is a little preview of our listings and videos for these homes.

709 Woodmont Beach Dr S, Des Moines, WA, 98198   By Appointment   $1,499,000back home     Video tour

625 S 240th Street, Des Moines, WA, 98198   Open Sunday June 12th 1-4pm    $2,250,000     Watch the live video decks  

23115 Marine View Dr. S, Des Moines, WA, 98198     By appointment    $2,350,000     Watch the live videofront home

212 S 219th Street, Normandy Park, WA, 98198    By appointment     $650,000          Video tour   view of the home

1228 SW 296th Street, Redondo, WA, 98023    Open June 12th 1-4pm    $930,000     Watch the live video     Front House View

16741 Maplewild Av. SW, Three Tree Point, WA 98166  Open June 11th 1-4pm      Although not a true beachfront, this property offers great waterfront qualities.             Watch the videoLiving Room 2

 

 

When the market is crazy, travel South!

Interacting with many real estate brokers throughout the Greater Seattle-Bellevue area, I have heard so many horror stories from buyers searching for the perfect home:  30 to 40 offers for an average quality property in town, the sales price being escalated up to hundreds of thousands of dollars… buyers, exhausted from extensive home hunts, don’t know where to turn. Interest rates are still historically quite low and everyone looking to find his/her first home or upgrade to a view or waterfront property, is trying to take advantage of still affordable prices.

Front House
Recently, I have noticed a new trend among  urban buyers moving South, away from Seattle city limits. West Seattle being highly congested, they are pushing their original boundaries to the Burien, Normandy Park and Federal Way areas as they are realizing that they can purchase large homes, stunning views and even beach properties at discounted prices with less competition.

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When I search and compare local markets within the city, I am just amazed by how much farther, a below million dollar budget will go if one is willing to live 20 to 40 minutes away from the metropolitan areas. I discovered this well-kept secret that is the greater Burien area about 12 years ago while searching for a non-congested-affordable little corner of paradise. With the Thomas Guide on the lap, I remember getting lost in the city of Normandy Park, loving its name, its large lots, mature trees, spectacular water and mountain views and its friendly feel (dog walkers, pedestrians… were actually smiling or even waiving at me). I knew right then that this was home! I have since then sold homes in the Three Tree Point/Normandy Park communities and tried to make buyers aware of the treasure area that can be the South End.Cove View

 

Here is a taste of what you can buy in the lovely Three Tree Point  & Normandy Park communities. Check out these videos.

– Three Tree Point Modern  & Normandy Park Home

 

New York Times article on one of our waterfront listings

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DES MOINES, WASH.

WHAT: A waterfront house with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms

HOW MUCH: $1,725,000

SIZE: 2,730 square feet

PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT: $632

SETTING: Des Moines is a city on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, midway between Seattle and Tacoma and within a half-hour drive of both. This 1918 house is on the water in a gated community on and around Woodmont Beach. According to the listing agent, it is thought to have originally been a structure associated with a now-vanished pier. Most of the other houses in the community are summer cabins built in the 1950s and ’60s. In addition to waterfront parks, the city maintains several fishing piers, a boardwalk and a marina near the small downtown.

INDOORS: The two-story house was updated within the past year. Common areas are on a long, open floor plan. The living area has a white brick fireplace and a wall of picture windows facing west, with views of the sound, islands and the Olympic Mountains. The ceilings are coffered. Floors are light-colored hardwood. French doors at one end of the room open to a waterfront deck.

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A limestone breakfast bar separates the dining area from the kitchen, which has stainless-steel appliances and minimalist white cabinetry. Three bedrooms are on the first floor, two with en-suite bathrooms. Behind stairs leading to the master suite, there’s an office, also with westerly views. The master suite measures about 800 square feet, with a pitched ceiling and waterside balcony. Its bathroom has a jetted tub, as well as a shower partially enclosed by glass brick. All bathrooms are finished in either limestone or granite.

OUTDOOR SPACE: The lot is just over a third of an acre, with a yard sloping down to 120 feet of beachfront and a boat ramp.

beach club

TAXES: $20,559 a year

CONTACT: Véronique Hval and Jan Fairchild, Windermere Real Estate South, (206) 214-8499 / (206) 226-7610; belleresidence.com

How to write a bullet proof offer when buying a home in the Greater Seattle area

If you live in the Greater Seattle area, whether you are looking for an in-city condo, your first love’s nest, a view property or a stunning piece of waterfront, you will need a bullet-proof-offer to compete against other buyers. Not every offer has the same weight in the scale. As a buyer, it is pretty intimating to hear that the property you want to purchase has already 15 or more offers. You need to remember however that each one of these offers has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The key in a multiple offer situation is to protect yourself while writing a very strong & “smooth” & enticing proposal. Here are the golden rules to help you in this process:

#1. Know your limits & be financially prepared

One essential element in buying any type of hot property is to know one’s comfort zone and financing capabilities. And as such, the very first step is to talk to a trusted and experienced mortgage broker who will preapprove you. The lender will ask for your bank statements, income related information, and will pull your credit scores. If cash is an option, get your bank statements/proof of funds ready. Cash offer are more appealing to owners since closing will happen faster and without a bank appraisal. money

In today’s fast market, being contingent on the sale of another property is not an option unless the micro market where you are buying is slow or the property in question has been on the market for a long period of time. As a general rule, waiting to find the rare gem to put your home on the market will not help you. Instead, find a rental place & put your home on the market. Armed with cash, you will be able to put a financially strong offer when you do find THE perfect place.

Another important fact: buying a home in a competing market is like buying an item at auction, you need to know where to stop the bidding. It is therefore wise to start looking at properties available at a lower price point than your preapproval letter maximum amount. Let’s say you are preapproved for $450,000, it may be wise to look for homes in the $380,000 to $400,000 price range. You will want to talk to a realtor expert in that area and specializing in the property type you are interested in to learn about that specific market. There is not one general market but many micro markets in any given area.

#2. Select the right agent for the task

You should select an agent specializing in one field and area: view home, waterfront, luxury, condo, targeted neighborhood…

five star award 2015You want the expert in the field not someone who is learning about a niche market or who is brand new in the business. Someone who knows (and preferably lives) in that geographical area. You will learn about properties ready to come on the market and all pitfalls or advantages about each one. It is not the time to select a friend who is just starting in the business or willing to drive 100 miles to get a sale (as you will need to see that home as soon as it comes on the market)! Get someone who will be a tough negotiator and will speak well on your behalf!

#3. Learn what the sellers want

Once hired, your broker will have to play the “nice detective”. He/she will call the listing agent (representing the seller) to know about the goals and motivations of the owners. If the broker is willing to share this information, you will be able to solidify your offer by adding terms that will benefit the sellers: closing date preference, rent back option (the owner needs to stay a week in the home after closing the sale)…

#4. Waive the home inspection or do a pre-inspection

It is always a good idea to have an inspection even when competing for a property. Have a pre-inspection with a home inspector before writing and submitting an offer.

#5. Offer a higher amount than the listing price

Once your agent will have determined the degree of “hotness” of the property & the local market, and studied the % of asking price versus sold price for that property, I would suggest you start your offer at a higher level than the asking price. If other buyers write offers at the asking price and add an escalation clause your offer will look better from the get go. Escalation clauses: they are used in competing situations. A buyer will offer to pay an upfront price, and add increments of $… over any equal competing offers up to a maximum amount. For example: the house is for sale for $400,000. You are willing to pay up to $450,000 and so may want to start at $425,000 and add an escalation clause up to $450,000 in increments of $3,278. The listing broker will keep adding the $3,278 amount on any offer higher than the $425k and will stop at the $450,000. While deciding on your price comfort zone, understand at which price point you are willing to lose the home where you won’t have remorse if your offer doesn’t get accepted.

#6. Offer a strong Earnest Money

The earnest money is showing that you are a strong buyer. This money will be put in an escrow account and will be cashed once the sale is agreed upon. This is a guarantee for the seller. If the buyer were to change hisearnest_money/her mind at the last minute, he/she would most likely lose his/her earnest money. EM is used at closing and deducted from final closing costs.

The higher the earnest money, the best.They range from 1% to 3% of the purchase price. Selling price $400,000…. Earnest money $10,000 to $15,000

#7. Select Escrow and Title

money and house

Select the escrow and title companies recommended by the listing broker. Generally title is chosen by the seller (since they pay for the insurance coverage guaranteeing a clear title) while escrow is by the buyer’s agent. In a multiple offer situation, you will want to pick the escrow recommended by the owner’s agent.

#8. Write the right “love letter” to the sellerhappy 2

When touring a property, if the owners still live in the home, gather clues of the seller’s lifestyle. By playing detective, you may find out what you have in common with the owners. I would suggest you or your agent use these in a letter thanking agent and seller to review your offer and laying out the advantages of working with you, your agent. You need to show how smooth the process will go. Be careful however not to disclose some personal information that may not play to your advantage. Be careful with your words.

#9. Waive or shorten timelines

Each contingency (inspection, financing, title,…) are ways for you to get out of the transaction once your offer has been accepted. The sellers will want in his/her offer selection to pick the buyers with the shortest contingency period especially the inspection. Know that any timeline with 5 days or less don’t count weekends.

#10. Learn the seller’s preferred way to receive the offer

Have your agent call the listing broker to understand his clients’ preference while receiving offers and follow their instructions.

#11. Be fast to get that offer signed aroundhandshake-hero-1

Be ready to initial or sign any changes quickly to make sure that another better offer doesn’t reach the seller before you have mutual acceptance.

#12. Be willing to do what it takes (within reason) to win the sellers’ acceptance

If you feel deep down that this is the right house for you, make sure to write the cleanest and best offer possible, you will have no regret later on.

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Happy offer writing and best of luck or as the French would say “Bonne chance”!

 

 

A quick U.S real estate forecast for 2016

We are all curious about 2016 and what it will bring us especially for all of you thinking about buying your next home or selling your current residence. Here are some pointers gathered along real estate seminars and economist predictions.

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Median Sold Prices – Home prices will continue to increase nationally by single digit numbers, between 5-6%. Urban metro areas in high demand by Millennials will see an increase in the double digits. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the third quarter national median price for existing single family homes was $229,000, which represented a 5.5% increase over third quarter 2014. There are still areas of very high demand and low inventory and this will continue until new home starts can catch up to the lack of supply.

Housing Inventory – The inventory shortage was caused by the cumulative impact of home builders not being in the market for well over five years. This severe shortage fueled the demand.  We are still not back to our level needed to sustain regular inventory rates.  This probably won’t happen until well into 2017. It is likely that more buyers will be entering the market for a home. Improved job markets bring more buyers into the market and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally the unemployment rate stands at 5.0% for November, 2015 – the lowest it has been since April, 2008.  We will continue to see inventory challenges until new construction picks up even further.

Homeownership Rate – The homeownership rate (the percentage of Americans who own their own home) is near the 20-year low of 63.7% in the third quarter of 2015, falling from the all-time high of 69.2% in 2004. The low was 63.4% reached during second quarter of this year. I predict this number will be even lower in 2016 due to the lack of inventory and increasing home prices due to the inventory shortages. The steady decline in the homeownership rate is partially the result of tight lending conditions and a historically low share of first-time buyers.

 

Housing Starts – The current pace of home construction is dangerously low at about 60% of the norm. New construction did not pick up enough in 2015 to address the housing inventory problem. Housing starts are well below the 50 year average of 1.5 million starts per year. Two big reasons for the slow recovery in new construction are the difficulty in obtaining construction loans and construction labor shortage. It is highly probable that housing starts to increase in 2016 as builders and investors are able to participate in the market because of the rise in house prices. New home starts should increase by at least 20% in 2016.

Interest rates – The improving economy is a sure sign that interest rates will increase in 2016. The new rates will balance job growth and higher inflation rates. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates a quarter of a percentage point at its December meeting.  The federal fund rate has a significant effect on mortgage rates. The federal funds rate had remained near zero since December 2008 and the Reserve had not raised rates in almost a decade.  The Federal Reserve will keep an eye on jobs, the economy, and inflation before determining action on additional rate hikes. However, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate are expected to reach 5.5% by the end of 2016.

Second Homes Market – Second home sales will continue to see a strong increase in 2016 due to the passing of wealth from the Silent Generation (those born 1925 – 1945) to Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and due to Baby Boomers buying multi-generational homes and vacation homes.

Rental Market for Owners/Investors – Due to dropping homeownership rates, the total rental income for investors has more than tripled over the past seven years, growing by an astonishing 240% from 2007 to today. The Census Bureau reports that median asking rent has increased 30.6% comparing third quarter 2005 to third quarter 2015 (as more rental households bring more rent). As Millennials enter the job market and strike out from their parent’s homes on their own, renting is usually the first step. There is high demand for rentals in urban locations where there is appealing job activity for millennials. High demand areas will continue to see double digit increases in rent. I predict rental demand in urban centers will continue to be in high demand in 2016. Source: http://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/files/currenthvspress.pdf  http://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/histtabs.html

 I am excited for what 2016 has in store! For additional information and predictions on our local market. Please call or text: (206) 214-8499 or send me an email to Veronique@belleresidence.com.

Mt. Rainier